First trip with the T@G

So, I thought I was all set with the camper and headed out with it the end of September to camp for Antiques weekend at Round Top, Texas. I had made a reservation before Hurricane Harvey at Lake Somerville RV park and they said they were still open, but with limited access because there was still some flooding. That should have been my first red flag.

When I called to see if they were open, they also told me that the shower houses closest to where I was staying were not working but there were restrooms. I was fine with that because I had bought a gas water heater. (That I had not tested in advance.) I didn’t think anything about the restroom and thought I could walk, no big deal.

I arrived about an hour before sunset and the initial setup was fine. Easy to back up and get power and water hooked up. I backed all the way in thinking how great it was to be on the water. (Not thinking about the implications from the fact that it shouldn’t have been water front.) I did have some issues with the visor not standing up very well but figured that was minor and I could figure it out later. The only big issue was that even though I could see the restroom from my campsite and it was technically “close,” the path to get to it was flooded. That meant I was going to have to go up to the main road to get to it.

This turned out to be a deceptively peaceful, tranquil picture.

The weather was wonderful and cool for a change, so I opened all the windows to get a breeze and started setting up the kitchen to dinner. I started a loaf of bread baking in the toaster oven, while I set up the pop up changing tent and water heater. Then it got dark enough to turn on lights……..and here came the mosquitos.

First night cooking in the kitchen with bread baking in the toaster oven. Notice the open door. HUGE mistake.

I don’t mean a few mosquitoes, I mean plague size swarms of mosquitoes. As soon as they appeared I realized what a huge mistake having the windows and door open was. I turned the interior lights off and got everything closed ASAP but it was too late.

I tried to cook but even with the light off the mosquitos were flocking to the flame. I eventually abandoned cooking and settled for bread for dinner inside. With beer of course because I needed it. But before I could eat I had to manage the mosquitos inside. I had a fly swatted but it just wouldn’t do it. I ended up killing them by swatting them with a hand towel, which left a mosquito graveyard on the bed.

Mosquitos that the cooking flame attracted in around 2 minutes. These are just the ones that got close enough to the flame to kill them.
The mosquito graveyard on the bed.

After I ate I decided to call it a night, take a shower and go to bed. I knew I could take a shower in the dark and hopefully not attract more mosquitoes. I had set the water heater up so I thought I was all set, although I wasn’t impressed with its stand. The only issue I had was that I did not have a splitter for the faucet and would have to switch between water hoses…….which meant I had not tested it yet.

Well, that would prove to be a mistake. As soon as I turned the water on it was spraying from every water connection. All over me, my towel and my clean clothes. I would realize the next day (when I was thinking straight) that the there were no o-rings in the water heater setup kit.

At that point I was tired, wet and dirty and just wanted to go to bed. I mounted the shower head directly to the water hose and settled for a low pressure, cold shower. It was still warm enough that it was fine. After a shower I started out to the restroom and decided that since it was dark and it had been quite a day I would just drive.

So Day 1 was over and I went to bed and figured I could work out some things the next day. Then it rained……..all night…….pouring rain. The camper handled it fine but it brought more problems. The first being that the change in humity made all the command hooks inside fall, along with everything I had hung on them. Not all at once of course, in intervals that woke me and Balla up with a scare throughout the night.

When the sun came up I discovered that with rain the visor fell completely and prevented the door from opening. Once I got outside I also found that the rain had completely beat the pop up tent down into the mud, despite being staked down at the corners. The water heater stand was a flimsy wire one that looked like it was made from a coat hanger and it had been knocked over and the water rushing down the site had taken it with it about 3 yards. When I went to drive to the restroom I also discovered a huge issue I should have thought about. There was no way to clean the mud off Bella before putting her in the camper, directly on the bed.

There wasn’t much I could do for most of my issues but I had some ideas. I got everything picked up and cleaned up as much as I could, got dressed at the restroom and moved on to breakfast. I decided that instead of the antiques fair I would head to the closest Lowe’s. The breakfast center was definitely a high point.

Yay for coffee!
Lemon poppy seed muffins.

After a trip to Lowe’s I was able to fix a few issues. Mainly I wanted some mosquito spray but I still planned to eat and be inside before dark. (I picked up a movie at Redbox for the TV & DVD player I had said I did not need.) I also got some super glue for all the hooks, a splitter for the water hoses and a garden sprayer to try to clean the mud off everything. I forgot about o-rings but it got so hot the next 2 days I was fine with a cold shower.

Once I had the basics I started looking for a way to fix the visor. Before I left, I discovered the problem was that the pole that is supposed to provide tension to hold it up was about 8″ to short. After wondering around Lowe’s looking at stuff I decided to try a small diameter PVC pipe to extend it.

The gap between the tension rod and camper.

Once I got the PVC the right length I had to figure out a way to fill it. Nothing like good old duct tape. I still had issues with it staying in place on the side of the camper & ended using duct tape to hold it on for the time.

Second day success.

I got the mud cleaned off everything and I went ahead and tied off the pop up tent with the rest of the stakes and glued all the hooks ups. I figured it was all I could really do and was determined to enjoy the rest of my trip so I set out to relax and read.

Bella however was not a happy camper. Since the area had been flooded from Harvey there was no grass in the area and prissy butt does not like to be dirty.  She would sit at the door and whine to go in. I gave in and let her most of the day since it was hot. She was also not pleased that other dogs in the park were being allowed to bark all the time.

Princess Bella in her giant dog house.
Her “if that dog doesn’t shut up, I will shut it up” look.

The rest of the weekend went fairly well. We made it to the antiques festival and I was able to avoid mosquitoes. I did learn the hard way that the buckets from Ikea had to be taken down when using the stove.  There were still 2 issues I was going to have to work out. First, the mattress sucked, there was no way I could sleep on it long term. Second, driving to the restroom was getting old. Although I had said I didn’t want to deal with a port-a-potty I was seriously considering one.

The plastic got a little too warm from the stove.

When we packed up to leave I did discover another issue I needed to work on. My goal for this camper is road trips, which means a fast set up and tear down. I was definitely not there. There were too many moving parts and things to remember and was taking entirely too long. I would have to make changes to streamline things.

Although it was a rough start, it was a learning experience. Even though it was worst case scenario it showed me some things I needed to plan for and it was better to learn them on a short trip close to home and not after I had set off across the country. I had a lot of ideas for improvement and plans for modifications and almost a month before my next trip to work on them.

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