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?
Cooking in Wind
Obviously when backpacking all cooking is done outside. The number one challenge with outdoor cooking is windy conditions. Although this post will focus on the modifications I made to our Camp Chef Pro 60 stove, the same principles apply to backpacking stoves.
Imagine this… actually if you camp often enough in campgrounds you don’t have to visualize it in your mind’s eye, you have probably seen it many times.
You are in a campground and walk over to the community dumpster to dispose a bag of trash. Your hand cautiously lifts the lid trying to avoid any filth and you peer in for a spot to deposit your bag. And there, there on a small pile of rubble lays a broken camp chair. I have seen this scenario replayed dozens of times over the years.
Why don’t people simply just buy a quality camping chair once and for all time? Perhaps they have fallen for the concept of throwaway goods – does the concept of built-in obsolescence really exist – do companies really make chairs that last for a limited time, knowing you will likely purchase another short-lived chair from them?
Maybe people just don’t know where to look for a quality camp chair. Perhaps they don’t know who to ask. Apparently it is up to me to help out. Today I am willing to help.