Sunday, December 1, 2013

Step One - Don't put the Cart before the Horse

So you want to get off the ground.  

I like to drive my 4wd vehicles to high altitude in Colorado.  My favorite locations are often basin's above 11,000 feet where I can make photos as the light sweetens, early and late in the day.  Thanks to the gold and silver miners of the 19th century, terrific roads make the high country accessible.  And when I travel, and camp, I like to explore the area thoroughly.  As a photographer, I like to scout first, and then pick the "right time" "right place" to set up my tripod.

So here are a few reasons I wanted to get a camper.

  1. To get off the ground.  I know how and love to backpack, day hike, camp over multiple days and explore, but I'd like to sleep in a warm bed sometimes
  2. To lighten the load.  Backpacking with 45 lbs of gear, and with added camera gear, lenses and other electronics adds up.  In 2012, I did an awesome 5 day backpack to the Weminuche Wilderness, and friends helped me carry my gear.  In 2011, I carried it all.
  3. To be able to recharge my batteries, literally and figuratively.
  4. Access to my "stuff" at the end of a long day in the high country.
  5. Food stays in the camper, so I just carry snacks, and attract fewer critters, and of course, it's nice not to have to hang my food, and toiletries.
  6. A heater to extend the seasons.  I own lots of down, for backpacking, and for day hiking and camping, but I mean a heater…you know, for 4am when it's really freezing.

A list of questions I asked myself when deciding what kind of camper included the following:

  1. How important is it to leave your camper onsite and go explore.
  2. Do you have a tow vehicle. (hence, the cart before the horse)
  3. How much weight can you tow.
  4. Would you prefer an "all in one" camper
  5. Do you want one that fits on your truck, do you even have a truck?
  6. Will you move often or stay in one place for a period of time?
  7. What's your style?  Do you prefer pulling over and hopping in the back for lunch?  Potty break?
  8. Will you have an extra vehicle for exploring?  bike? car? scooter? skateboard?
Before moving out west, I spent a summer on a solo road trip from New Jersey to Maine (where I taught a summer class in Photography), then headed up to Northern Vermont, Canada, crossed back at Sou St. Marie, then headed to eastern Wyoming (Wowoming), up to the Wind River Range, on to the Grand Tetons, down to Dinosaur National Monument, to Moab, Southern Utah into New Mexico and looped back home.  I drove a Grand Caravan and loved it.  My kayak was always with me, as was my camp kitchen, tent, and car camping supplies.

A year later I bought a conversion van, and boy/girl was I surprised at the difference in what it cost me to do another big road trip.  The 8 cylinder engine kicked butt on the uphills but also ate gas for lunch.  And at that time, I wasn't alone and the passengers included a friend and her dog.  What a surprise at how crowded the van was too.  Duh.

So, I decided that I really wanted an RV; bigger than a breadbox, bed over the cab, rear table and room for three.  I never asked the right questions, and didn't like that I needed to bike/walk/hike everywhere once I was "leveled" at the campsite.  And the cost of travel, with the engine built into the RV and it's old school problems, got to me.  I sold it after 3 months of not so much play.

Fast forward to asking the right questions.  Next blog…answers and decisions

This is what fell in my lap.

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