Monday, December 30, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Day-4,5,6,7 - Christmas and Such!



Yep! That's what it has been, 4 days of "and Such"

We had a great Christmas! The last several days I have been surrounded with relatives and friends. Some of whom I have not seen in a very long time.

And that's been a good thing! At least my hearts says so. Of course, my nerves say otherwise. We have been running from one place to another every day and especially on Christmas Eve and Day.
We have collected a lot of great memories over this period and the trip has been something special for us.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Day 3 - Weather changes a few plans


As you can tell by the photo the Day-3 started out dreary. If you look back in my older posts, I have this identical picture but it was Autumn and the colors were fantastic.

But, its OK, I grew up here in Lynchburg, so I'm quite familiar with what a real winter of dormant nature is like.

 No Problem for me.

The weather itself, is crazy warm for this time of year, but I'm not complaining about that either.
In fact, just to show people that I now come from the tropical world of Florida, I waked around in shorts, a T-Shirt and flip-flops. The rest of the 'Burg was wrapped up as if they were just waiting for the next cold snap to hit.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Day-1 thru 3


Day 1 and 2
Well, we got here. But, it was a punishing trip.
My wife and I have made some long trips before, but with this one, we finally overdid it.

You see, we left Home in Florida at 3-AM, heading to Myrtle Beach, SC. My wife had an appointment with a Doctor of hers, so we detoured there and then we went through Raleigh, NC to pick up our grand-daughter. After that stop we continued on to our campsite in Lynchburg VA.

The whole idea was to save on a hotel room on the way up.

Oh, we traded off with the driving, several times, and we made a number of rest are stops just to stretch relax a little. But, we ended up spending over twenty hours in the car, just driving.

Never again! By the time we got to the camper, my son-in-law had everything set up for us, so we just unloaded the overnight necessities, but we were WHIPPED! And wound up on caffeine, of course.

We had a glass of wine, put on our PJ's and crashed for the night.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Day-0 - Loading Up for the Road


Wow! This is the day before we hit the road and it is going to be a busy one.

Over the years, we have found that we need to make the day before we leave on a camping trip a special one.

Because our drive is going to be a long one, we know that we need to do things in a certain order.

As I mentioned in a previous article, we have most of what we are going to take with us kind of, well, piled in the floor of our spare bedroom. So there will be no last minute searches for articles that we might need.

Here are some of the things that we will do that makes our trip packing a lot more efficient;

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Pre-Planning Day-7

Free Time Entertainment

As I have mentioned in my other posts, once you build a calendar of things that you are going to do when you are out and about, you will then see that you still have a lot of free time left on your calendar.

Every Camper is different in that we all have our favorite ways to entertain ourselves while camping.

Hobbies

Some of us love to read, some just like to work puzzles, while some love to keep journals of their travels. And there are many of us who have hobbies were we build crafts while others love to crochet or knit or paint with oils or water-colors.

Working while Camping

If you travel much in your camper, you will have noticed that there are some campers who have special skills and they can offer help to other campers if they need repairs of one kind or another. Some common support that you can find in a campground are; window shade repairs, camper washing and waxing, plumbing repairs, electrical repairs, oil changes, and much more.

Television

Also, many of us resort to electronic forms of entertainment. Our camper is large enough that we have television built in with a fold-down antenna on the roof. So, we get the local TV channels wherever we happen to be camping. Other camper often even have satellite antennas and receivers installed for an even wider range of entertainment.

Internet

Probably the most common form of electronic entertainment is to have some form of WIFI service that allows the camper to connect to the internet. With an internet connection, you have access to a world of services and information as well as other forms of unbounded entertainment and communication.

Planning ahead and having some of these other forms of entertainment available will make that rainy day or just cold day a time to entertain yourself, your way.


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Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Pre-Planning Day-6

Snow in the 'Burg - pic by Don

Planning your Time while on site.

Family and Friends

Entertainment-102;

Remember, if you are camping anywhere, that you might have family or friends living nearby, of if you just happen to know someone who has been to the area where you are camping, they can all have valuable information for you about the area.

Call or drop an email to all of these friends and relatives and ask them if they know of any events that you can go to while camping in the area.
Often, they will quickly catch you up to date on people you both know, and how everyone is doing overall during the conversation.
So do keep in touch with these important people in your life.

And, you should remember that these are your family and friends and you will likely get invitations to dinner or to just stop by and chat.
You should always try to comply, especially with relatives, and add these "Get-Together" dates and times onto your second calendar.

So at this point, what you now have are two calendar pages that have quite a few things that you want to do while you are camping at your site.
Although in the Winter, some of these tentative plans may be affected by foul weather but what you really have at hand are;


  • A calendar of interesting events that you can attend, and 
  • A calendar of dates that you can visit your old friends and relatives. 
And these friends are all happy when they see you. This is because you are not just "dropping in" but you have talked with them and worked out a date and time to meet that is mutually agreeable.
Put the two calendars together and you now have a schedule of special events, times and dates that you can do things. And you can see the free time available for you to perform any chores you might need to perform while you are at your campsite

Also, now you can see the open dates and times that you have available for planning your own self-entertainment.

by DON Bobbitt, 2013
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Monday, December 9, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Pre-Planning Day-5

Don and Helen

I know, I have written four posts so far and I am just getting to a very useful level of information.

So let;s talk about;

Planning your time while on site!

Entertainment-101

When we go camping and are going to be at a site for longer than 1-2 days we have learned to over plan our time rather than just land at a campground and figure things out day by day.

Now, having a loose and carefree camping experience is a great thing also, and we have ended up doing this often in our travels. But, we have learned to do our research and plan, plan, plan.

Calendar Search

Probably one of the smartest things you can do before a camping trip is spend a couple of days on the internet and the telephone.
While on the internet, search out what is really going on in the area you will be visiting.

Write down everything, large and small, that you might find; local festivals, museum showings, historical celebrations, local sports events, grand openings for business', church socials, and anything else you might think of.
Write down the event, the address' the dates, and any fees that might be charged along with any phone numbers or websites that you might need if you decide to go to these events.

Making a Trip Calendar

Now, after a few days of research, emails and telephone calls, you can probably already see that there is more to do than you have time for while camping..

Once I get to this point, I actually print out two blank calendar pages for my detailed planning. Here is also where I put on my optimists hat and tell myself; Every Day is going to be beautiful! 

One thing that we campers know is the fact that we have no control over the local weather, and with that in mind, we always assume that we may have put down some events that could be canceled or that we just do not want to gout in any bad weather to attend.

My wife and I go over my research and we place everything that we may even remotely like to do onto our first activity calender. Now, our 2-3 week trip has a number of days locked down with interesting events for us to attend, if we really want to.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Pre-Planning Day-4

Don and Helen - Just Chillin'
We have done this packing thing a lot of times over the years and there are certain things that we have learned the hard way.

Here is a rule for traveling to your second home that I think everyone should all keep in mind;

PACK ONLY what you absolutely know you will need. 

Superfluous Crap is Superfluous Crap and it will drag you down hauling things that you do not need back and forth for every visit!

And, if you really end up needing certain other things in your camper, either buy one while camping or make a note to purchase one before your next trip.

You are not a long-haul trucker, you are going camping so only take the least number of items back and forth that you can get away with.

Here are some things that we do not haul to and from our Camper;

Fresh Foods - We only take a cooler with Sodas and a couple of sandwiches on our trips back and forth. There are too many supermarkets that we can go to when we need to stock up for our stay, once we get there.
Bathroom Items - I mean really! Just how much do such things as toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, soap and other such bath items cost? Keep some of these items in your camper.
Casual Clothes - My wife and I are old enough that we have plenty of clothes that are no longer fashionable but are in great shape. These extra clothes stay in the camper. We don't go to many fancy affairs when back in our camper, so why hauls your newest clothes back and forth.. We are there to enjoy life and ours is a casual life.
Kitchen Items -  Dishes, good knives, coffee pots, beer mugs, and other such common and typically cheap items. Again, over the years we have collected way too many of these anyway, so we have plenty to leave in the camper.
Other Items - An old pair of walking shoes, old bath towels, old bed linens, old salt and pepper shakers, old flip-flops, old robe to wear to bathhouse, old socks, old underwear, old throw rugs, all go into our camper permanently and get a new lease on life as we start using them longer.

This list includes just a few of the things we do not not haul back and forth to our camper but handle by keeping them in the camper all of the time..

by DON Bobbitt, 2013

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Pre-Planning Day-3

Snow in Lynchburg - pic by DON Bobbitt

When you decide to use your camp year round round, but only occasionally during the Winter season, there is a certain amount of forethought required when you consider what to leave in your camper.

FULL-TIME CAMPERS

If you are a full-timer then there is no problem with your camper "stuff"..
Once you pull out, that's it! You are going to get by with what you have, once you pull out and it sinks in that you are not coming back to the old home place.
AS you travel, those first few days, you find out what you really need.
If you use and need a coffee pot, then you get one. If you like to watch TV, then you get one installed. If you need a pair of long-john underwear, then, the same thing, you get a pair.
In other words, you will get whatever you really need and can still get into your Camper.
A Full-Timer, at least after a couple of months on the road, is set up and prepared with what they really need to enjoy their life on the road..

PART-TIME CAMPERS

If you are a part-timer then the problem is a little more complicated, but you still get to load up your :"stuff" while your camper is near your home.
Oh, you might have to make a number of trips as you ready your camper for your vacation trip or even for an extended trip, but you do eventually get your camper loaded before you pull out.

2ND HOME CAMPING

OK, I just coined a new phrase for what I am actually doing. 2ND HOME CAMPING!

Having my Camper set up on what is essentially a Home Site four states and over 700 miles away forces you to take a very careful look at exactly what stays where. The thought process is similar to having a second home with only a small amount of floor space and storage available.

And therein lies my problem. We have a number of things in the camper that stays there all of the time. Things like dishes, linens, some of our seasonal clothing, and other such items that we feel we would not need in out Florida home.

And of course, rather than just hopping into a car and running to the camper, we do have certain things that we need to take with us on each visit.

Our method of preparation might seem a little strange. We have officially started a pile of "stuff" in the middle of the floor of our second bedroom. This pile, that will end up going with us, must meet two constraints.

First, it must all fit into the car along with my Wife and I. Secondly, it must include everything we will want to wear or use over our 2-3 weeks in Lynchburg Virginia.

Oh, and one other thing will be complicating what is in categories 1 and 2.
We will be there over Christmas. So God help us, our SUV will be packed tighter than a Tick on an Elephants Ass!

by DON BOBBITT

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Pre-Planning Day-2

Lynchburg Snow - pic by DON Bobbitt

OK! After a few hours of chewing on the whole camping trip thing, there are several things that I definitely need to be prepared for if we are going to be problem free while there.

By the way, I have to mention that after our Autumn trip to Lynchburg, and before the temperatures really dropped down to freezing regularly, I asked my son-in-law to partially winterize my Camper for me.
  1. He drained the Hot and Cold water lines to avoid the chance of any damage from frozen water lines.
  2. He drained my fresh water tank for the same reason.
  3. He had a friend come by and empty my Grey and Black Sewage storage tanks.
  4. He drained my fresh water tank.
  5. He checked that all of the slides were closed along with all windows and roof vents.
And, most importantly, he placed a 60-watt light bulb on an extension cord into the compartment where my Sewage and water tanks reside. Because I have my own AC power at my campsite, this will provide just enough heat to be my backup insurance policy against there being any kind of frozen water line or tank problems even under the worst weather conditions.

It is a great thing to have someone you can trust, to shut down and open up your camper for you. As I have mentioned in my article about Year-Round Camping, by strategically placing my camper near family and old friends, I have a second home to go to throughout the year and I also get someone I trust to look out for my camper.

Top that with the fact that my son-in-law has a camper of his own near mine in the same campground and I can have him "open up" my camper and have it ready for us to move right in the day we arrive.

On the negative side, with my camper sitting for the next year or so on a remote site, we did not leave a lot of our essential "stuff" in the camper.  So, my trip up will require us to pack a lot more "stuff" for our visit.

by DON BOBBITT, 2013

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Monday, December 2, 2013

A Winter Camping Trip - Pre-Planning Day-1

Lynchburg Snow - Pic by DON Bobbitt

Camping in the Winter
As you may remember from my other posts, I placed my 5th-wheel camper on a site in Lynchburg Virginia so that I could use it in the Winter.
Our goal was to visit our Kids and Grandchildren more often and at the same time save money by avoiding the high costs of hotel rooms and eating out far too often.

A Year Round Campsite
By placing our camper on a site, we got the best of both worlds. Our camper is getting used when it would normally be winterized, which is a great thing in itself, and  my wife and I essentially have ourselves a 2nd home to run away to for the cold half of the year.

And, oh yeah, we are retired to Florida, so we also have a place that we can go to, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and get a break from some of those HOT summer days.

PLANNING a WINTER STAY:
So, we will be wintering in our camper for a little over two weeks during the Christmas holidays.
What we will be doing until we leave, of course is the detailed planning that you need to do so that your trip is a comfortable one, even in the cold and that there are no surprises that might disrupt our stay.

For your entertainment, I will be writing a series of Blog Posts that I hope will be helpful to my fellow winter campers.

So, for the next few days, I will be sitting with my iPad next to me and writing down notes not only about the trip and the stay, but also a calendar of what we are going to do for entertainment in my old Home town.

by DON BOBBITT, 2013


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