Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rvs, Campers and Cameras- A Southwest Colorado Photo Workshop

flowing waterfall, red rocks and distant mountain in early spring color, Colorado
Mineral Creek and Rolling Mountain
Rvs, Campers and Cameras
June 6-9, 2014
Silverton and Durango, Colorado
$250. deposit

Photography, RVs and camping in the San Juan National Forest, of Colorado.

Some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world surround you in the San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado.  Located between Ouray, Silverton and Durango.  Mountain peaks like Kendall Mountain, Engineer Mountain, Grizzly Peak, Whitehead and Pigeon and Turret Peaks, ranges like the Grenadiers and the West Needles.  Folks come from all over the world to explore and photograph these high altitude wonders.

Join us as Kit Frost teaches you and shares with you her very special method of teaching photography.  Bring along a tripod so she can look at your compositions and discuss improvements to your vision.  Or keep it simple with your handheld point and shoot camera.

Kit has been teaching photography for the past 40 years.  Learn Digital Photography, bring your film camera too.

Learn how to compose great digital images, learn how to use your camera, Kit will teach you the tips and tricks to improve your photography.

We meet at our campground along Mineral Creek in the San Juan National Forest where we review camera skills; YOUR individual camera will be reviewed.  Kit Frost will teach you how to capture great landscape and waterfall images with your digital camera. Feel free to request accommodations in Silverton, Colorado and we'll meet you at our campsite daily.

Don't miss this great adventure.  A combination of camping, short hikes, waterfalls, mountain photography, in Southern Colorado.  The Mineral Creek campground is a jumping off point to some of the most beautiful, inspiring, awesome, landscapes in Southern Colorado, in the Four Corners, in the USA.

After a introduction to camera skills, composition, and exposure, we will head out to locations each day, and then review and critique, Kit will offer suggestions for continued improvement.   Let Kit teach you her special techniques for capturing grand and intimate landscapes.  And at our nightly campfire we will continue the conversation and review your day.

Locations will include:

  • Mineral Creek Waterfalls
  • Big Views, Molas Pass and the Grenadier Range
  • The Twilight Peaks
  • Engineer Peak
  • other special locations around Silverton.

Gear List will be sent to registered participants, bring your family.  Enjoy a few days on photo instruction and review in Colorado.  Tent camping, RVs, whatever suits you.  We'll save a campsite for you.

Use paypal to securely make a full or partial payment towards this amazing photo workshop.

Choose a Payment Option

Beautiful light falling on an early spring waterfall, water gushing through a break in the rocks.
Mineral Creek Fall, Spring snow melt
Sunset casts golden light on the mountains of Colorado.  A small cabin is framed by fresh fallen snow.  Durango Colorado
Molas Pass, looking east to the Grenadier Range

Beautiful waterfall punching a cut in the canyon walls north of Durango, Colorado
Mineral Creek Fall, San Juan National Forest

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My photo won the RV West Magazine photo contest

Rvwest Magazine sponsors a monthly photo contest.  And my photo of my maiden voyage to Southern Utah won for the December photo of the month.  Check it out.  And I got a call today from their freelance writer.  I chatted with her for about 45 minutes.  She asked really informative questions about my life, travel, art, photography and the reasons I decided to buy a camper.

The magazine is doing a story about my journey with my camper and my photography for their upcoming Photo issue.

I'm thrilled.  And honored.

Click here.

Red jeep, bike and travel trailer at camp in Southern Utah, Among the red rocks of Valley of the Gods
Cherry Baby and Saturn, Valley of the Gods, Southern Utah.  Sweet.  ©Kit Frost
This location is part of my 2014, Chase the Light Photography Workshops, Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods.  Learn Photography with Kit Frost, Spring 2014

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

RV Renovations, Upgrades and Repair

A view of a travel trailer at a campsite in Southern Utah, with a spire visible in the background
Camping at Valley of the Gods, Utah.  The awning is still in place at this time.

Installations, Renovations and Repairs

  1. Learned how to tow, drive,  back up and do figure eights.
  2. Brake controller - New, installed under the Jeep dash
  3. Weight distribution hitch anti sway - Habitat for Humanity Restore
  4. New electric and hook up - 7pin
  5. Larger tow ball
  6. Solar Panels, hooked up 35 watt panel to trickle charge my battery
  7. Replaced running lights around the camper
  8. Installed spare tire on the back bumper of camper
  9. Learned how to use propane, for heating and cooking
  10. Learned how to dump my gray and black tanks
  11. Learned how to hook up to shore power and to turn on circuits and run from shore power
  12. Caulked around wheel well
  13. LED Lights throughout super bright
  14. Installed a spring on screen door, so it shuts every time.
  15. Added shelves in closet
  16. Turned bathroom into a closet for the winter
  17. Took those silly tie backs off the curtains
  18. Replaced outdoor lights, so I can have lighting at night when unhooking and opening propane for use.
  19. Removed the broken awning/canopy, White trashy.
  20. I plan to use portable awnings so I can cover the picnic table instead of needing to be close to the camper to hang out.

At Cadillac Ranch RV Park, Utah, a warm January afternoon, removing the awning and cleaning the camper.

The First Few Months with my new (to me) Travel Trailer

The First Year

A friend of mine bought this camper, she got it from a friend of hers.  But once she brought it home, realized that she had the cart before the horse and wasn't sure it was right for her.  I knew it was right for me.  I had long ago decided that a small travel trailer would work.  I could tow it to places I love, near and far, and then head out, whether by bike, on foot or using my car, for photography and fun.

Once I bought my Sunline Saturn, I began a search online for support and ran into the great, helpful, friendly folks at the Sunline Owner's Club. Another example of putting the cart before the horse, but a girls gotta do what she's gotta do!

The Sunline travel trailers are no longer produced, but as luck would have it I was able to download lots of information and ask questions in the forums.  Props to the guys and gals at

These folks helped me so much. They taught me to understand the weight issues involved in towing, the safety procedures for travel, and lots more.  When I ask a question in the forums, I rarely wait more than a day for answers and suggestions.  My Saturn is 18.5 feet, lightweight, and can be towed by my Jeep Grand Cherokee V8, 4.7 liter.  The Jeep came with the tow package as well as an upgrade to the cooling system.

Another invaluable resource for learning has been staying at the Cadillac Ranch RV Park in Bluff, Utah.  Tim and Diana are wonderful, friendly, helpful hosts.  I have been able to leave my camper parked on their land (they have a bit of a farm with goats and an Emu named Elvis) and a pond with a huge gathering of geese and ducks, perfect for morning coffee.  They have full hook up sites, and a few spaces for boon docking too, a hot showers are open 24/7.  Tim taught me how to use the sewer hoses and to dump grey and black water onsite and to hook up water and electric too.  He even gave me a few items I needed to connect hoses safely.  Recently, he helped me to check out my awning, and suggested I put a coat of waterproofing on the roof.

I can't say enough about how helpful these new friends have been.  And they are great resources for local knowledge of Anasazi sites and little known roads too.

    My Rig, Cherry my jeep, and Saturn, my camper

    First, practice towing and turning.  I recruited a friend with experience in his 32 foot Travel Trailer to teach me the ropes.  He was a patient teacher, assigning turns, figure eights and taught me how to back up.  Priceless.

Learning to tow and turn in an empty parking lot, March 2013

    Places I've been in 2013

    Valley of the Gods, Utah, Boondocking, March 2013

    Sand Island Recreation Area, Utah, April 2013

    Valley of the Gods, Utah, Boondocking, April 2013

    My secret place, Utah, Boondocking, I've taken my rig here many times since March of 2013

    Scouting Fall Colors in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado, Boondocking, September 2013

Lime Creek, Between Durango and Silverton, Colorado, Dry Camping, Sept. 2013

Durango, Colorado camping, full hookups, my most expensive night, so I could dump and empty the water, and winterize.  The temps were predicted to hit the low 20s.

Wahweap Campground, on the way to Zion, late October, 2013

On the way to Zion, Kanab Ranger Station

Red jeep and white camper at Zion National Park campground, with the Watchman butte towering above
Under the Watchman, Zion National Park, so far my farthest tow and camping trip with Cherry and Saturn.  In the spring of 2013, I drove my jeep out to California, 1500 miles to go photograph the big trees in Jedediah Smith State Park.  I didn't take the camper, so the Zion Trip was my "maiden", far from home, camping trip.  Loved it.  Especially loved returning to my camper each night, my warm, cozy home away from home.  In 2011, I car camped and was very chilly at night, and this time, even though the weather was colder and rainier, I was safe, and comfy.
White travel trailer in campsite, Zion National Park, Navajo sandstone buttes and mesas in the background
Zion National Park, Fall 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ask the right questions before buying your RV, Travel Trailer, Camper; YOUR Rig!

There are advantages and disadvantages for each of these selections.  I looked over a bunch of ideas before settling on my Cherry Baby and Sunline Saturn.   

My most important consideration: Do I want to park the camper, unhook, and drive to other locations?  You bet I do.  I'm a photographer, and "chasing the light" is my favorite sport.  Above image taken at camp, Valley of the Gods, Utah, Spring 2013.  I do bring a bike, and ride it every day, but sometimes the location I chose is a bit far and the camera gear can be heavy.  I tend to prefer dry camping, toting my water, and running electric from my deep cell battery and trickle charging from my solar panel. It's just how I roll.

Ask yourself:

  • How many campers will normally sleep and eat in your camper, often my friends meet me and bring their tents, and we share cooking outdoors if the weather holds.  My camper has a permanent full sized bed, and the kitchen table folds down for guests, a bit wider than a twin.
    • I know from experience that I use the outdoors a lot, as an extension to my living space. I use a picnic table and fire ring as my dining and living room, and I bring along comfortable camp chairs, as I cannot spend a weekend sitting on a rock, or in my crazy creek.  A good folding chair is essential gear. (more of that list on another blog)
    • Even in my current set up, when the kitchen table is used as the second bed, I like the bedding stowed early in the day, so I can enjoy the space, and set up my art supplies to hang out too.
  • It's important to ask about leaving camp to go anywhere, once the truck, trailer, RV is leveled.  Most folks bring bikes, scooters, etc.
  • How long do you plan to be out camping?  
    • On average, in the first year of towing my Saturn, I stay out for long 3 night weekends, and so far, one, two week trip to Zion, from Durango.
  • How much money do you have to spend on a rig?  
  • What do you want to bring with you?  
    • I load up on camera gear, my bike, art supplies, tripods, etc. And soon I hope to add a telescope for dark sky star viewing.
  • Because my Tow Vehicle is a Grand Cherokee, I am sometimes close to the maximum tow weight, so I pack light, even looking at light weight cooking pots and pans.
  • And lastly, but very important to me, is that there is a user group online who are the sunline owners, and whenever I have a question, I rarely wait 24 hours for those folks to respond, and they sure are helpful.  
  • Do you plan to dry camp often, or predominantly at campgrounds. 
  • Do you prefer hooking up to electric, sewer, water when available.
The main thing is that I kept at it, learning as much as I could, before a friend dropped the "just right for Kit" rig in my lap.


Used to describe a rig you drive, and can hop in the back anytime for lunch, potty break, use your imagination.  When you see these coaches on the road, they often have their cars trailing behind, sometimes called a "dinghy" or a tow behind.  These also come in small, medium and large, and the big "coaches".

  • Class A
  • Class B
  • Class B+
  • Class C

Travel Trailer

Describes a camper that you tow behind your car, truck (called the tow vehicle).  These campers come in small, medium, large, extra large and 5th wheel.

  • Airstream is the class aluminum brand
  • Casita is a premium brand
  • Today's all aluminum brands include Camplite, Avian and a host of others
  • Pay attention to the maximum weight your tow vehicle can handle safely.
  • Be sure to add trailer brakes and weight distribution hitch if needed.
  • Google aluminum travel trailer and have fun

Truck Bed Camper

This sweet rig comes in all shapes and sizes (google truck bed camper).  Some pop up, some have slide outs, some fit right up to the back of your truck bed, some hang beyond.  A lot of the beds in the truck bed camper fit over the truck cab, and the interiors range from rigs with dining rooms, bathrooms, good sized kitchens.  The main questions for selection include:  How many campers can you comfortably live with and share the space.

more to come.

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.