Van E. Harl
I am an Eagle Scout so I have a history of back packing and camping in my youth. Throwing a thirty five pound pack onto my back and hiking a few miles into the woods to camp for the weekend with my scout troop was an adventure. I even continued this into adulthood for a while. After I got married I discovered that my wife was not all that interested in “roughing” the great outdoors. To her credit I will admit that for our honeymoon we drove to Alaska in my 1974 Chevy El Camino. We slept in a two man tent for four weeks. If you really want to get to know your new bride – try tent camping for extended periods.
On some nights when the weather was bad we slept in the back of the El Camino. This was our first experience with RV’ing, using a recreational vehicle to travel and sleep in. Comfort was lacking. The Colonel’s family had a pop-up travel trailer when she was growing up. While they do not offer the comforts of a hard sided trailer with running water, the pop-up was a big improvement from sleeping in the back of a truck.
While I was at Officer Training School the Colonel bought a used pop-up trailer and that started our military RV’ing adventure. We pulled that trailer from Chicago to Sacramento with a little Toyota pickup going over the Rockies at thirty miles an hour. The Air Force sent me to Army Infantry School in the early days of my military career. I lived out of a rucksack (pack) for five and a half months. I must admit that cured me of wanting to rough-it in the wilderness. Don’t get me wrong, I got very good at caring a seventy pound pack and rifle all over the swamps of South Georgia, but somewhere in those many months of living outdoors without even a tent “it” got really old.
That little pop-up trailer got pulled up the Alaskan Highway when the Air Force sent us to Anchorage. Owning an RV is a progressive process. You tend to keep moving up to bigger and better types of RV units. The problem in Alaska is bears. Bears are not stopped by the canvas walls of a pop-up trailer, so we bought a crew-cab pick-up truck and a cab-over camper. That is the camper that fits in the back of the truck bed. This unit made our tour in Alaska great. We could go anywhere anytime of the year (because we had four wheel drive) and it had an indoor bathroom. You can only take so much of this emulating bears doing their “business” in the woods stuff.
We kept the truck loaded and ready to roll at all times. Come Friday we were on the road camping in Alaska, something tourist pay big bucks to get to do. We did keep the pop-up trailer and pulled it behind the truck in case any of the in-laws came up and went camping with us. I just told them to pay no mind to the “growling” sounds at night. We moved up to a travel trailer after we had our daughter. We figured there was now a need for more room. Two adults, one baby, and three German shepherds did not work well in a small cab-over camper.
I pulled that travel trailer out of Alaska and it lasted until a hail storm got it when we lived in Wichita Falls, Texas. It got pummeled so badly by hail that it looked like the surface of a golf ball. We are now on our third travel trailer. With all our military moves, the trailers have always been a big help and major convenience when it was time to head onto the next base assignment. We have big dogs and our trailers have been rolling doghouses for years.
I got the travel trailer out this week to give it a good cleaning and do some preventive maintenance. The Colonel has orders again and we are headed to Colorado Springs, Colorado this July. I do not want to go, but there is a war on. There is a great RV campground at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and we will be living there when we first arrive. In fact most military bases have an RV campground because so many active duty and retired military have discovered the fun and moving practicality of owning a “camper” of some type.
I am sadly on my way to the Rocky Mountains.
©Copyright June 1, 2007 by Van E. Harl