Part 2 of our camping journey.
As a starting point, every year there is the RV & Camping show. What better way to compare, analyze, try out, and, yes, get pamphlets on the subject. The only thing you need is to be a little careful that you don’t start out looking at basic 8’ pop-ups and end up spending way too much time looking at the 31 footers and trying to figure out how you can fit one of those in the garage.
After spending way too much time admiring the travel trailers with the La-Z-Boys and entertainment centers, we settled on a modest 10’ pop-up with room for all of us. Boy, what an improvement over a tent. The beds seemed soft, we had a couch, and rain was to be no problem.
All we needed now was a new camping book with honest grading, some time off of work to enjoy the new camper, and summer. Finding an honest camping guide would prove to be the hardest. Either the definition of scenic camping had changed over the years or it had always meant “farm field getaway” and I had been kidding myself.
With the early signs of summer upon us, we decided it was time to break in the new pop-up. We decided visiting Aunt Janet up at Fort might be a safe decision. We knew the area and, if worse came to worse, we could rap on Aunt Janet’s door and pull up a spot on the floor. We had been thoroughly trained in the workings of the popup and, yes, had even watched the video a couple of times. Looked easy enough. At the show, everything was up in about 5 minutes without a hitch.
The loading of the pop-up took a little longer than we hoped, but at least once in, most of the stuff could stay there until year-end. At the time, we lived in a house on Hilltop Lane which had been given that name for a good reason. Our driveway was almost straight up hill with a turn to the garage. Now one of the training sessions covered the need to chock the wheels to keep the pop-up from moving unexpectedly. During our dry runs, I was always pretty good about this, realizing that a moving Pop Up left an unhappy pop-upper.
At the start of our first real trip, however, I made one slight error in judgment. With the pop-up sitting firmly on the top most level portion of our driveway, I removed the chocks while I backed the car into place. I wish I could say some rational thought had gone into this decision, but it was just another in a long list of errors in judgment for Mr. Call Me Handy. Even so, how far can a stationary pop-up roll in a minute or two? Well, would you believe all the way to the bottom of the driveway with a slight veer to the left? I knew I was in trouble when I heard one of you say, ” Hey Dad, should the pop-up be moving?” While I did not have the sense to keep the wheels chocked, I did have the sense to not try to stop it once it had a full head of steam. Fortunately, God placed you out of harm’s way, and the only additional problem we had was getting the pop-up moved off the grass and back on solid ground. After more tugging than we would have liked, we got everything pointed in the right direction and we were on our way.
One small issue our over anxious salesman did not tell us about is the need for sway control at 65 mph. This would have been something nice to have understood way before I was white knuckling down I94, feeling like the vehicle in tow was quite in charge of the entire process with no intention of driving straight. There is some law of physics here where the powered vehicle in front (A) needs to be x lbs. heavier than the unpowered vehicle (B) being pulled behind said vehicle (A) times the number of mph above the speed limit divided by the sweat rate of the driver. Unfortunately, like the many struggles in 9th grade Algebra, I had way too many unknowns and not enough equations to solve this problem. What we did end up with though, was one over stressed exhausted driver (Dad) to the 6th power (number of hours spent in deep prayer while clutching grooves in the steering wheel.)
Now that we have arrived at our designated spot only slightly less exhausted than our first tenting experience, I was hoping for a quick setup, a long nap and 3 wonderful days by the lake. Well, three hours later, I finally had managed to back into our campsite. I had read on the internet that backing up a pop-up could be a little tricky at first, but was something that could be easily learned. I have never been confused for a quick study, but I had thought 3 or 4 times and I would have the popup properly positioned and ready to move in to. Well, I have since learned one of an experienced camper’s truly laugh out loud moments is when a rookie tries to back up his nice shiny new pop-up. No matter how many times I went backwards, and forwards, the popup always managed to end up pointed the wrong way. Of course, I have your Mom yelling very confusing instructions at every wrong turn. In short order, I was once again so frazzled I started thinking it would be good when I was back at work and could relax a little. Once in position, my sweetie was able to help with the remaining set-up and we actually looked like campers some 12 hours after leaving home.
I must say in the next few years we started to actually get a knack for all of this pop up stuff and ended up enjoying quite a few memorable days at the lake parked next to Aunt Janet’s mobile home. Hopefully, these were fond memories for you guys. Don’t be afraid to try it when you have kids. Just try to learn from our many mis-starts, ask someone else for advice, and remember you are making memories.