One good thing about camping is that each camper gets to define what camping is, because there is no commonly accepted definition. Backpacking is different. Most people will agree, to some extent, what backpacking is. Not so with camping.
This Christmas vacation, as we have done every year since 2002, we hitched up our camper and left home. It was a new destination for us and 800 miles one-way from home. Our campground was nestled among the costal Redwoods a few miles north of the itty bitty seaside city of Trinidad, CA.
But it really wasn’t a camping trip; we would be visiting my daughter and her family.
We just happened to be staying in a campground, in our camper, in a forest.
Yep, eight days in the Nevada desert. No shopping for me!
I read that Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the busiest shopping day of the year. Not only is it the start of the Christmas shopping season, but large numbers of Americans have a 4-day weekend – especially if you are a government employee.
After finishing my backpacking trip and leaving the Trinity Alps, I headed west to the northern California coastline around Arcata and Trinidad. Two goals were foremost: (1) check out some campgrounds for an extended camping trip with Joyce later this year and (2) do some backpacking in the coastal Redwood forests. I spent the night camped next to the ocean and was treated to continuous rain and wind — an encore to the previous four nights. After checking a couple campgrounds for future reference, the decision was made that being outdoors in the rain 24/7 wasn’t much fun anymore. This was not a reason to cancel a trip, but it was motivation to consider options. One enticing option was the central coast area of California south of Carmel all the way to San Simeon, which was enjoying wonderfully warm weather. So I headed south on Hwy 101, dealt with bumper-to-bumper traffic through San Francisco and jumped on Hwy 1 in San Jose savoring a bit of driving along the Big Sur Coast and then a backpack in the Los Padres National Forest, not expecting this…
I have camped in the desert during summer without air conditioning many times. In our local deserts, temperatures do occasionally hit 120F and once in a while even higher. See this post where I re-packed our wheel bearings in 123F temperature. The rare occasions we patronize a campground with electrical hook-ups is usually when we take our inflatable boat to the lower Colorado River in the middle of summer.
Old Age is Creeping In.
Staying cool in the hot desert during the day is simple: just stay in the shade. But as I get older, it is getting more difficult for me to sleep when the nighttime temperatures are 90F or higher. This June we spent a couple of weeks at Lake Mead and most days were above 110F and a couple hit 114F. Anticipating this, and not willing to stay in a parking lot campground with hook-ups away from the lake and in civilization, I came up with an idea – a portable evaporative cooler (aka swamp cooler).
Now, I could buy a generator, which is expensive and more importantly noisy. So that was out based on principle and philosophy. Being familiar with evaporative coolers, I first needed to do some simple math.
A full time RVer is someone who travels and lives in a Recreational Vehicle (RV) full time. For this post a RV is defined as a motorhome, 5th wheel, travel trailer, tent trailer, truck camper, van, etc. Those who live and travel in a RV will be called Full Timers.
Typically a Full Timer stays in campgrounds (private or public) or remote areas where camping is allowed for a period of time, then travels to the next camping spot often moving where the weather is nicer. Often Full Timers will stay in one place for a week or two, but sometimes may stay for a month or longer. In the US think southern states in the winter and northern states in the summer.
Until recently, the main demographic for Full Timers was retired people who sold or otherwise dispensed of most of their belongings and kept whatever would comfortably fit into their RV.
For a period of time during 1998-2000 I was a Full Timer, living and traveling with a small Ford Ranger pickup truck and my 1992 Starcraft tent trailer – however I was able to work full time too. It was a great time and lifestyle. But more on that later.
Many people who camp dream of becoming a Full Timer; spending all your time on a continuous vacation. What fun!
So now I am retired. Should I become a Full Timer again?