Camping like a Girl

There’s no other way to describe it – a perfect weekend of camping and camaraderie.

Girl Camp Canada’s vintage trailer and RV show and shine August 21 in Warkworth, Ontario was the best event we’ve attended this year. The fun started the day before in a grassy field on the farm of Raquilda and Lion Van Zoeren. We parked the Travco in the shade with a Boler, Scottie, Shasta, Argosy and even an Airstream.

For dinner everyone chipped in on crusts and ingredients. We laid out the bounty on an empty hay trailer and one of the ladies with a propane fired pizza cooker created stone-baked pizza for everyone. Delicious!

After dinner everyone got dressed up in gypsy style and we went around taking photos of ourselves all over the farm. We ended up at our Travco for a group shot.

The day ended with a social time around the campfire. This was special for us, as the community has had an outdoor burning ban in place since July 2 and it had been lifted earlier that day, as if just for our event.

The next morning everyone hitched up their trailers and drove them to Warkworth’s Main Street for the show and shine. We lined them up on either side of the road, and many of the ladies brought out vintage collectables to sell. The public marveled at the tiny treasured trailers decorated in many different themes from ultra modern to Boho to the Wild West.

In past years an event called The Long Lunch would have been in the middle of the street, but due to a morning shower, the luncheon moved to the local arena. We took a break and attended the meal. Ham, roast beef, salads, home baked beans, buns and a slice of homemade fruit pie. Yummy! I felt like closing the door on Lucky Seven and having a nap after that feast.

At the end of the day we had around 100 people tour Lucky Seven. Not one of them had ever heard of the Travco brand before, and we enlightened them all on our special RV.

We made some wonderful new friends and the time of our lives at this event. The tranquil beauty camping at the farm was the perfect venue to lead into Sunday’s show. At the end of the day we all exchanged email addresses and followed each other on Facebook to make sure we meet up again same time next year.

Who knows? We may get together for another campout before this season ends.

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The Girl Camp Gang with Lucky Seven at the Van Zoeren Farm.

Wonderful hosts!

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Children loved touring the Travco.

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The Van Zoeren girls got in on the show with their own tiny trailer vintage shoppe

More of the awesome GCC ladies’ custom trailers.

The ins and outs of heat sources

I’ve been assured the welding job to be done on the Travco before November 8 was started yesterday.

After another month of restless waiting, I am again thinking about the customization to be done over the next 6 months or so. We vintage RV owners kid ourselves things will be done without a hitch and in a reasonable amount of time, and come in under or on budget. LOL.

But I can dream. A couple innovations have caught my eye. One is for the kitchen. As I’ve noted in a previous post the propane stove top in my Travco was ruined by rust. I don’t expect to be able to repair it. Not sure that I want to replace it with a similar unit. I use the propane burners for cooking breakfast only, and the oven only for extra storage.

An all-in-one type insert was brought to my attention through the ladies of Girl Camp Canada. It’s a mini kitchen: single sink with two electric stove burners beside it and a mini-fridge with icebox below. This sounds pretty cool and space-saving to me.

It brings up a few conundrums for me as a first time restorer. Would this unit be hard to wire/plumb into the R/V? Would it draw too much power? And on a personal note, once it is installed, will I find the single sink and half fridge too small to be practical?

Danby all in one unit
Danby combo kitchen as seen on Kijiji Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This change got me thinking about a more luxurious option. If this triple-unit saves me a bunch of space, could I possibly eliminate the propane furnace and swap out for a fireplace or woodstove? I’ve seen many Pinterest pins and Youtube videos on the installation of a “mini-stove” in tiny houses and RVs. Lots of questions to be answered about this option, though.

I grew up in rural Eastern Ontario Canada and have lived in homes with both fireplaces and woodstoves. The dry heat appeals to me, as RVs often seem innately damp. As well, to me camping isn’t camping without the scent of a campfire. Watching the coals glow, toasting marshmallows or hotdogs and hearing the crackling flames is the highlight of my camping experience.

 

Hobbit stove
Restored Hobbit mini wood stove in a 1972 Airstream trailer. (Pinterest)

This brings us to the issue of safety. I have no desire to take my Travco out on her maiden voyage only to have Camp Wannahockalogie go up in flames. Not only would I have lost a lot of cash and sweat equity, that bus only has one door. Not exactly good for emergency escapes.

The walls, ceiling and floor around the unit would have to be somehow fireproofed, especially where the chimney pipe goes through the roof. It would have to be properly ventilated and sealed against water leakage. And how high would the pipe stick up? It may get snapped off by a low branch or bridge.

chimney vent on boat
Chimney vent on a boat (Pinterest)

The mini wood stoves aren’t a cheap option either. You can get a portable military “tent stove” for well under $100 but at that price, I’m concerned about durability. The cast iron, enameled units with small windows so you can see your fire are pretty expensive. Up around $600 to $1,000 and higher. Apparently there’s a unit they install in boats that is supposed to work well.

Green woodstove
“Little Cod” marine wood stove by marinestove.com. Glass door costs an extra $150. Unit costs $1,535 CDN, plus stovepipe.

The major unknown for me is movement. This isn’t a tiny house or cottage. There’s going to be a whole lotta shakin’ going on while the RV is on the road. If I go to all the work to repaint and decorate this beast, there’s no way I want a stovepipe collapsing in a shower of soot in the middle of the floor.

Maybe there is a propane option which would be simpler and safer? My only issue with this is the end cost. Using up more fuel and having to go find a place to purchase a refill is inconvenient. As well, it wouldn’t last very long if you were boon docking.

There’s a pretty informative article on propane vs. wood for tiny houses, but it’s not exactly what I need to know.

I’d sure appreciate some advice from any of you who have attempted or seen these conversions. I’ve found that my readers are the best source of sage advice, ideas and innovative suggestions. So let me have it. I have a few months to ponder my decision and I want to make an informed decision.

PS: For those of you who have been following this blog, I realize I can’t use my blowtorch fire starter inside the Travco. Damn.

 

 

 

The lost is found

Pepper

Today I’m going to digress from all things RV.

Our family experienced a traumatic event last week. Our beloved tuxedo cat Pepper vanished without a trace.

We were sitting around a campfire in our back yard. Pepper was resting in my husband’s lap. After about a half hour the cat got up and slipped away into the night.

About an hour later when we went to bed we called for him, but no cat. The other three and the dog were all accounted for. Not eight year old Pepper.

This was  highly unusual as this cat has been sickly for a couple years and doesn’t wander far from the yard. In the past we have had cats killed by coyotes, so we were very worried. Even if Pepper had just wandered away for a bit it was bad news. He has hyperthyroidism and a serious upper respiratory infection and declines rapidly without regular medication.

The  next morning I found a photo of the cat and posted in on our local community yard sale site. The online yard sale community immediately re-posted and updated the missing cat ad every hour. We had at least 50 people keeping an eye out for Pepper. Still no cat.

A family get attached to its animals. They are just as big a part of the household dynamic as parents and children. The other three cats and the dog were restless. They seemed to sense there was a “ripple in the force” in our home.

Over the next three days we got potential sightings, but there are several outdoor tuxedo cats in our neighbourhood and none matched up to Pepper. We were convinced that if he hadn’t been killed, then without his meds he probably died by now anyway. He had lost significant weight before this, going from 22 pounds two years ago to only eight pounds at his last vet appointment. He looked scrawny and disheveled at the best of times. Surely he couldn’t survive being lost for almost a week.

Last night at 5 p.m. I got an urgent message on my cell phone. “My niece has Pepper. Here’s her phone number.” One of the 24/7 Yard Sale regulars may have found our cat!

I wasn’t hopeful, but I made the call. Was he bony? Matted coat? Purrs all the time? The lady answered yes to my questions. I hung up the phone and yelled up the stairs at my husband “Somebody found Pepper! Let’s go get him now!”

My son, husband and I hopped in the car and drove to the furthest back street next to a thick wooded area in our neighbourhood. Sure enough, a young woman stood in a driveway, three little blonde children behind her. She held a tuxedo cat in her arms. All tuxes have a unique pattern, just like our fingerprints. I recognized this one immediately. It was our Pepper!

Thank-you’s flowed. My teary-eyed husband scooped up Pepper and got back in the car. The vet closed in a half hour, but we got him there in time for a weigh-in. Pepper was down to 7.4 pounds, but otherwise seemed fine. The vet and staff were very happy to see him as he is a favourite patient of theirs. He doesn’t need to be caged to go to the vet. He sits in the waiting room beside my husband and waits his turn, ignoring the other dogs and cats around him. During his examinations he purrs constantly, sometimes so loud the vet can’t hear his heartbeat.

We made a checkup appointment for today and brought the cat back to our house where he stuffed himself like – well – like he hadn’t eaten in five days.

After dark Pepper went to the door and meowed to go outside. Not a chance. We’ve decided he’s a house cat now which is just as well with the cold winter weather coming in a month or so.

I guess Pepper does have a loose connection with camping. We took him for a weekend trip in our C class RV two years ago. He spent both days hiding under the trailer next to our site. Never went inside the vehicle again, even when it was parked in our driveway.

Mom’s a pyromaniac!

campfire1Campfires hate me.

On those warm summer evenings when other campers are relaxing around a roaring fire, watching the flames dance and toasting s’mores, I’m turning purple huffing and puffing on a tiny ember. After all the years I’ve camped, I cannot conquer the camp fire.

It’s not like I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I start out with dry paper, kindling and a lighter but the paper burns up without so much as a spark from the wood. I can stand in the middle of a California drought with a lit match with no danger to plants or property.

I cheat when necessary. Dump enough BBQ starter fluid on the fire and I can get a brief flare. A couple years ago I started using the artificial fire logs you get in grocery stores, which seemed to do the trick. Then I found my “pyro wand”.

It is an extension attachment that screws onto one of those small green propane bottles you can get in any store that sells camping supplies. It’s about a foot and a half long, and turns an innocent product for outdoor cooking into a flaming torch of hot doom.

I love starting the camp fire now. I pile on the paper and kindling, spark up the propane torch, adjust the flame so it’s the same colour as a welding tool and light it up. My husband and son hide in the RV while I’m playing pyromaniac, but I get results. In  no time we’re sitting around a roaring campfire. Add the foil wrapped potatoes for baking and everything’s perfect.

If you happen to camp near us in the future, be sure to stay clear until you see the glow of our campfire. It’s safer that way.

Photo courtesy dreamstime.com
Photo courtesy dreamstime.com