Sunday, July 23, 2006

First Trip with the KIT, Odell Lake, Oregon (07-20-2006 to 07-23-2006)

This was originally posted back in July, 2006 to the RV.Net forums, where I posted alot of my travel tales over the years. Now, I'm adding them to this blog, which will house my travels going forward into the future and any other related posts, such as projects on the camper and such.

Well, just got back from a wonderful 4 day trip with my Camper Dry Camping for the first time at Trapper Creek Campground on Odell Lake.

First off, I would like to thank everyone who provided advice in my two previous threads on going to Odell lake and where to stay, your advice was extremely helpful and helped to provide for a great trip.

For her age, the KIT performed remarkably, including being stable with her jacks run quite a ways out. I was able to compile a list of needs to be done projects for the camper to fix the small quirks that something 32 years old and modified multiple times by multiple owners has.

First off, we really needed a shower curtain. I thought I had made a water tight seal around the bathroom door with stick on weatherstripping. Wrong. We jury rigged a solution for the trip using a piece of tin foil and some duct tape that solved the shower run off problem, but I will be getting a shower curtain before I try dry camping with it again.

Second, the hot water line needs to be replaced along with the bathroom and kitchen faucets. The cold water line is new, the nice flexible stuff they use in modern RVs, the hot water line, however, is still galvanized Steel, with copper tubing used for the spots where flexibility was needed. Its original to the rig, is showing its age with bits of rust around the threaded areas, there's not a whole lot to replace and I can get to it all, so it'll be the project of an afternoon.

The facuets, both leak. Not very bad, but enough to be annoying and only just after you shut off the faucet for a few seconds. Again, they're original the Camper, household type faucets and likely have just worn out, they've been used fairly reguarly over the years and neither is fancy, just plain chromed 2 valve faucets, though the shower's one has a 2 way switch on it to go between shower head and faucet tap, I may need to look for a replacement at an RV shop for that one, however, the kitchen faucet is a standard household utility room type that I can just pick up at Home Depot.

The fridge needs a circulating fan of some sort, it works fine, but needs some help getting the cold air moving around, but it kept the food cold in 90 and 100 degree heat.

Anyway, onto what every reader wants in a first trip thread, the pictures! Click on any of them to enlarge the picture.

First two pictures are my rig out front of my parents residence all loaded up for the excursion. First trip also doubled as my present for my father, since his birthday landed dab smack in the middle.

Behold my 48" hitch extension of doom! With handy large mesh step for easy camper entry and exiting. My chuck wagon has probably about a 100-150lb tongue, so it really didn't deflect the receiever much even with the 48" extension, if anything all it did was take a little of the play out of it. My Class IV DrawTite handled the setup like champ, towed like it wasn't even back there.

You can also see my sticker by my back door!

The old man, taken a rest in the shade while his son (Me) takes pictures.

Almost to Odell, time for rest stop, 98 degree temps and a steep LONG 6% climb up the mountains called for a stop in the shade. This trips big lesson, its not wise to climb mountains with a heavy truck when all ya got for a floor is the bare sheet metal, it can get REALLY hot.

Camp at last! In the quote DREADED Back Loop un-quoute of Trapper Creek. Little note for those that want a lake side site. Show up Sunday at like 3 am, then find someone who's departing that day and park out in front of their site till they leave. About the only chance in hell you're going to have of getting one, since there's a grand total of 5, and they're very very sought after.

If you're worried about mosquitos, do what we did. We brought 3 cans of Deep Words OFF with 27% Deet. I wound up with a grand total of 3 mosquito bites for the whole of the trip. If ya use anything else, you will indeed be eaten alive, I couldn't believe there was people tent camping with little bitty children in the back loop, I felt so sorry for the kids, all covered in bug bites.

Also, don't let the picture fool you, the truck was out of level both front to back as well as side to side, I just never remembered to photograph the big gap between the bed rail and the camper on the driver's side.

This picture may give ya a bit better idea of the amount of out of levelness we were dealing with. But, it was the only site left by 8:30am on thursday. I could have probably moved to the left more and been a tiny bit more level, but then I'd have had even less shade than we already had. That and no way to get my bicycle and its trailer out to the road.

Welcome to Odell Lake, as seen via the Trapper Creek Boat Launch. Its a very magnificent lake, I was just astounded at how deep and how big the dang thing was.

For those that have never seen it, this is Trapper Creek itself. There's a wooden bridge over it that leads you up the trail along the southern shore. The old Man stopping for me to take pictures again. I had always wanted to do something like this with him, finally got the chance.

Another fine view of Odell Lake as seen from the eastern most boat launch at Shelter Cove. Trapper creek was crazy busy all weekend, so finding a bit of shore to fish from was rather difficult, so we wound up fishing from the docks at Shelter Cove's Eastern launch. Believe me, the trout were biting there, they were doing it all around us as we fished, but devil be damned the buggers just ignored our baits altogether.

All said and done, it was a great trip. We lasted 4 days, 3 nights off my one group 27 battery with reserve to spare. This was with cooking, running inside lights, the range hood, as well as the both of us taking showers everynight and doing dishes at least twice a day, as well as running our little 7" Audivox portable DVD player a co-worker of my father's gave him.

Grey water was no problem, I have a diversion valve on mine that shunts all the grey water straight out the outer dump valve without going to the holdign tank, so we just put a big 5 gallon paint bucket underneath the outlet on the side with a 45 degree down turn on it and dumped out showers in the bushes behind us, ground was really dry and never failed to suck up all 5 gallons in a matter of seconds.

Thanks again for all your advice on the lake, plan to make another trip there sometime in the future, dry camping turned out to be alot of fun to do, and can't wait to do it again.

Plans for the future? Pick up a second deep cycle battery to put in a box in the front wheel well on the passenger side and figure out some kind of A/C setup for the camper, that bugger can get plenty hot in the sun.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Bringing her home for the first time

Picked her up tonight, finally, after all the annoyance and headache, I've found me my camper!

And God, is she beautiful! For 32 years old, she looks damned good! She's been stored inside a pole barn with a concrete floor for the last 15 years when her previous owner wasn't using her.

She's structurally sound and most of her appliances are still original, except for the cold water plumbing, water pump and the furnace, replaced by the previous owner.

Love the old 2 way fridges, no eletronics needing batteries, 12 volt or none, the fridge starts and runs with the process of opening the gas valve and striking a match at the burner. The stove/oven is made by Coleman, and I need to find a shop to tweak the burner controls, or find some instructions on it, a couple are sticky with age.

Total cost: $1500, paid in cash, paid in full.

For an 11 foot camper, she drops my 3/4 ton truck down 3" or so from her stock ride height with full water and fully loaded for a trip. The stock truck, aside from the occasional side to side rock, which is rare and not extreme in any fashion, rides like its not carrying it. At some point I may add an extra leaf to my overload pack, but for now, it'll work just fine.

Greatest features? The diversion valve built into it. You can run your grey water into her 45 gallon combined holding tank, or you can close the shutter and drain all gray water off into a tote or bucket for extended boondocking. We'll run out of fresh water as it stands before we can over fill that holding tank. This worked particularly good with the 5 gallon black paint bucket I have, it allowed me to also gauge how much water was being used. The average for a shower was about 2.5-3 gallons.

I need to go over to my buddies and either patch the existing tin in the propane compartment door, or just pull it out and put a new piece of some kind in. The original is a bit beat up, due to a brain **** moment with the last owner who I bought it from didn't quite get it latched down tight and it popped open and he went down the road a ways in the back country before finding out, door got a bit beat up.

And yes, I know there's no rear tie downs on it in the picture, at the time, the guys front chains were too short because his happijacs were higher up on his bed than mine, mine are down at the floor of my truck bed. Even without the rears on it stayed put. I've since been to the local Lowes and gotten the needed hardware to make certain its properly secured.

Now, for the interior, mind you I've done a fair amount of clean up work and repainting in the cabover, the last owner kinda did a haphazard paint job, since these pictures were taken, if I get around to it here, I'll take some updated ones.

A "real" Queen sized cabover. I can lay out my whole 6'4" self and still have room at either end of me and room along side for the lady. Mattress is the original, cover's about had it.

Nice big dinette, with plenty of room for people to sit. Roughly a 6' long bed, even my 6'4" 330lb self can sleep comfortably in it. That big steel railing is for the giant fold out cabinet bed. It actually folds out just as wide as the dinette below it, lots of room for the wee one to sleep up there!

Doors open, lots of Light coming in. Thank god the last owner made foam board cutouts for all the windows for winter camping, I took the ones for the front cab over window, painted the exterior side white and stuck them in and left them, it does wonders for the interior temperature.

Plenty of counter space on both sides of the aisle.

Got privacy? Love those sliding doors, makes a nice cubby for me and the misses to be.

I like the bathroom, its a one piece fiberglass unit. Toilet's seal at the floor was replaced about 5 years ago when it finally started leaking, before I bought it. No leaks now and holds water in the bowl just fine.

G.E. Brand 2-way fridge. "Flint" striker for lighting. Clean, no cracks in the plastic and doesn't smell of mildew like so many old campers out there.

Who knows what this is? Its a propane lantern, still works. The old owner loved it because it warmed the camper up. Me? I'm going to cap its hook up at the main gas line and take it off the wall and save it, its rare.

If ya look right below it there's two switches. Silver one is the Battery/Converter toggle. The converter is the original and is not designed to charge the camper battery, its just designed to provide onboard power when plugged in.

Ah, the wonders of the past decades, I forget what they called that color, but it was popular on appliances back then.

If you look closely you can see the Coleman brand name and trademark Lantern. Kinda weird to think that once upon a time, Coleman even made RV parts, now they really don't make anything, its all made in China and their name is stuck on it.

She's a solid girl, though dear God, the previous owner must have forgotten what regular cleaning was, I went through 4 buckets of Pinesol/Tide mixtures just cleaning the cabinets and ceiling. I thank the Lord for Easy-Off, the oven was in good shape but had never been cleaned from the look of it.

Still got the inside of the cab over to repaint (Last owner did a kind of haphazard job, wood paneling is still showing through in a number of spots), the bathroom to sanitize and the kitchen sink and counters to wash, and I still need to make a trip to the laundromat to run the dinette covers through a tumble washer.

But, on the plus side, she's looking and smelling great now!