Camping 2017

It feels like a century since we put our 1974 Dodge Travco “Lucky Seven” into winter storage. We’ve thought about and planned for the 2017 camping season virtually since we put the RV away for the cold months.

Today, Lucky Seven arises from her hibernation. In  few short hours we will be pulling her into our driveway and hooking her up to hydro and water, checking everything over and preparing for this summer’s adventures.

Day Tripping

The first several weeks we will  limit ourselves to short day-trips. We have an annual day pass for Ontario’s provincial parks, and I believe one of the best parks in the province is less than a half hour’s drive from our house: Sandbanks Provincial Park has kilometres of sand beaches and trails to hike and enjoy on the shores of Lake Ontario.

We’ll be packing a picnic lunch or bringing along BBQ treats, and while my husband is walking the dog I’ll be collecting driftwood for my new venture Catch My Drift? my one of a kind driftwood art creations.

Gotta go get the Travco now. Going on an adventure soon!Craft shows image3

One of my art pieces 🙂

 

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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.

Bigger? Better?

I’m very disappointed.

We tried to attend the largest weekly car show in our area last night. We have shown the Travco at two Belleville, Ontario Cruise Nights this summer.  The venue is fun – a large mall parking lot beside an A&W restaurant – and the public enjoyed seeing something different.

Of course, we love showing off our 1974 270. We’ve done some work on the interior since acquiring Lucky Seven in Wisconsin this past June. The Travco is starting to show her ‘70s charm with a swag lamp over the dinette, beading on the curtains, and lots of orange, brown and beige accents.

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The public seemed to enjoy seeing Lucky Seven as well. Part of the appeal is they can step inside our time capsule and look around. Show cares are beautiful, but there’s a strict rule of “Don’t get too close and do NOT touch”. We invite everyone into our rolling retreat, happy to answer questions and spread the word of how special the Travco RV and our fellow Travco lovers are.

This is not the case anymore in Belleville. As we pulled into the show lot, the lot manager came over to my window. “You’ll have to park in an auxiliary lot. You take up two spaces so there’s no room for you here.” Meanwhile, the lot was not only half empty, there were more than one non-vintage vehicle taking up show car spaces.

We had no intention of relegating our Travco to a side parking lot separated from the show by a double driveway. We brought Lucky Seven home, where we found messages waiting for us from the Trenton car club, inviting us to two shows this weekend along with their regular show in downtown Trenton where they very kindly make a point to save extra space for Lucky Seven.

Bigger is not necessarily better. The big car show in Belleville has become an elitist old boys’ club and they made it rudely obvious they don’t want anyone new involved that might take attention from their usual exhibitors. Sadly, it reflects poorly on their host, the A&W on whose parking lot they hold the show.

We will continue to show our Travco throughout eastern Ontario. We enjoy the attention our “big girl” gets at shows, and when driving around. Anyone who owns one of these vintage beauties will understand how it offends us when someone doesn’t share our vision. Maybe we should hold a vintage RV rally at this same A&W and show some people what a real vintage vehicle show is all about.

What do you think?

 

We made it!!

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Martin and Girly Girl at Lake Consecon

Our first weekend camping in Lucky Seven was a great success.

We discovered a lakefront campsite at a small local campground on Lake Consecon, about 20 minutes from Picton, Ontario in Prince Edward County. The weather was perfect, the location comfortable and the people friendly without being nosy pests. Even our dog GirlyGirl made new friends.

Only one negative thing: The County is under a burn ban due to drought, so no campfires. We haven’t had a good rain here in weeks. Everything is tinder dry.

After missing camping last year during our search for a Travco, this weekend felt like paradise. A stiff breeze kept the stifling heat at bay both day and night. A little boy and girl followed their dad up from the dock with the catch of the day – a walleye and a grass pike. As dusk settled on the still water, a loon floated by, calling eerily between diving for minnows.

There’s nothing like camping in the summer, and camping in our beautifully restored Travco made it even better. We’ve reserved this site for the rest of the season, and will probably go back for burgers on the barbecue and a swim later today.

Life’s good at the campsite.

Almost ready for camping

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Getting that 70s vibe
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Our RV mascots – Pin k Panther, Animal and Hippie Floyd

The Travco is certified and plated. Total repairs and registration – around $4,000.

All we have to do now is figure out how everything works, and we can go camping at last. We’ve tried to puzzle out the electrical system, but we’re stuck on how to get the air conditioner working, and how to get power to the outlets. A trip to the local RV centre Thursday to go through Lucky Seven with an expert will sort that all out.

We attended a Show and Shine in Trenton Sunday night, met some great people and had a good time. We even ate dinner for the first time in the Travco.

I’ve started customizing the interior, but the weather’s been very hot and humid and without air conditioning, I haven’t done much. A couple of period throws on the couches is about it.

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Lucky Seven on the bank of the Trent River

Slow progress

Hurry up and wait.

That phrase has become my RV motto. The closer my family gets to enjoy our 1974 Dodge Travco 270, the finish line moves further from us.

The mechanical certification went surprisingly well. It needed a new drag link and a couple minor fixes – no big deal. When I called the garage to enquire how the project was coming along, the receptionist said “The mechanic didn’t see the crack in the driver’s windshield until he backed it out of the shop.”

Cracked windshield? I drove that Travco almost 3,000 kilometres (1,900 miles) a few days before. There was no crack. My husband and I decided to go see the damage immediately.

As I slid into the driver’s seat, a jagged crack at least eight inches long was clearly visible just above my direct line of sight. I would have definitely noticed the crack before the vehicle was purchased, or if it happened on the rough drive home around the south end of Lake Michigan. The crack happened during the Travco’s safety inspection.

The garage seemed to accept that the crack happened on their watch. The problem was where to find a replacement? Luckily the Travco we had to junk several months ago was at a local wrecking yard, with the new windshield intact.

We had to wait a few days for an installer to have time to do the job, so we took Lucky Seven to our local RV dealer for the propane system test needed for insurance purposes. The job was to be done Thursday morning.

Late Thursday, we went to pick up the Travco so we could use it for the long weekend. The job hadn’t been started. We were told to phone when the shop re-opened Saturday to book another appointment. Another summer weekend with no camping.

Saturday morning we were assured the job would be done Monday morning. That Monday we got the bad news. The inspection revealed the propane tank’s regulator had been installed incorrectly (facing up and down instead of sideways), the original stove/oven was not functional and the $1,000 furnace was missing entirely. Also, the propane tube which fed the furnace was capped unsafely.

We were looking at a potentially costly solution. To replace the stove, furnace and do the other repairs would cost over $2,400. We dismissed the furnace. It can be replaced at a future date, if at all. The RV dealer is looking into an independent propane appliance specialist who may be able to fix the stove. If not, we will have to get a new gas stovetop, or forego propane altogether and get an electric one. Not a bad idea, since the Onan generator can power everything short term if we’re boon docking.

For now, we wait. Again. We’ve been invited to three car shows in the next week and it looks like we won’t be attending any of them. Maybe in a week. Or two.

 

Road Trip

Time to head for home.

On Thursday, June 17 we said our goodbyes to Kay and Mike. As I pulled out on the highway through Baraboo to begin our 1,800 mile (2,980 km) trip to Picton, Ontario, Martin looked at me.

“This one better not catch fire,” he said.

As we travelled southward through the Wisconsin dairy land, I watched the gas gauge closely. I knew mileage wouldn’t be good in a five to six ton vintage RV, but I wasn’t sure how big the tank was. Even so, the needle showed Empty pretty quickly.

We pulled into a service station for a fill up. The nozzle kicked out at 23 US gallons (87 litres). The gauge needle indicated ¾ full. We found something on the Travco that didn’t work! Our previous C class RV’s gas gauge was inaccurate, so it didn’t bother me. Once I determine the capacity of the tank (I’m guessing 45 US gallons), all I have to do is approximate the gallons to the mile to calculate distance on a fill up.

Closer to the Illinois state line, my gas pedal leg began to tire. I find the gas and brake pedals to be quite stiff on this Travco. I tried setting the cruise control. Mike Cummins mentioned before we left there was a new cruise control system included with the Travco but it hadn’t yet been installed. I need to get it installed. The original cruise control was non-functional. Another minor fix.

I must note I will never complain about the condition of Canadian highways again. We could have churned butter on the interstate through Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. I don’t know how these avenues could be considered passable roads. At a fuel stop in Indiana, I said something about the potholed, cracked cement highway to an attendant.

“We had a car come through here two days ago and the rough road cracked his gas tank,” he replied.

Maybe the jouncing around that addled my brain, but we pulled out without replacing the gas cap. A mile down the road, on the exit ramp to the interstate, I pulled over.

“Martin, get out and check for the gas cap.”

He rolled his eyes in a ‘not again’ look. Last time we went on an extended RV trip, I left a gas cap in Georgia.

Sure enough, it wasn’t there. There was nowhere to turn around, so we left the RV alongside the road and walked the mile back to the gas station where the gas cap sat beside the pump right where I left it. It was dark by the time we got back to the Travco. I secured the cap and we continued our trip.

The rest of our travels were relatively uneventful, including a very smooth and brief importation experience at the US – Canada border. After two days on the road we were getting weary and we had no water on board for showering so we splurged the last night on a comfortable hotel room.

Our last leg of the journey took us through one more major city – Toronto. Cruising east on the 401 highway surrounded by heavy traffic, I noticed a small black car with bright green trim pull up beside us. The driver was smiling and waving madly. In a city of 3.5 million with hundreds of thousands of cars on the move, Martin’s cousin Graham was driving beside us! He was the first one in the family to see the Travco.

We pulled into our driveway mid-afternoon Saturday, June 18. After a cursory examination we discovered a cracked cupboard door and a loose panel near the floor, courtesy of our rough ride across the tri-state area.

We’ve spent the past couple days getting to know our Travco. We have the manuals and service records but we still have a lot of questions to be answered. I will be posting lots of photos and asking questions of the more experienced Travco owners on the Travco forum. Especially regarding the dash controls. There are more buttons and switches than on the Space Shuttle.

Now I understand why we Travco owners are so proud and protective of our RVs. They are a true diamond in the vintage RV world. We can’t wait to go on family adventures with this rig. Lucky Seven is already turning heads. I’m learning to allow for extra travel time because whenever we stop for gas, people ask questions, take photos and request a peek inside. We’re going to make lots of friends and have good times in this RV.

We took Lucky Seven to her first car show June 21. Had around 80 people take photos and tour the interior. Nobody believed it was a 1974 or that most of it was original!

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Too many buttons!!

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View facing the rear of the Travco. That bathroom is almost as big as the one in my house!

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View from back to front of the Travco. The fridge is new, but everything else in view is vintage.