Ready for a new camping season.

I know it’s been a long time since my last post, but there hasn’t been much to blog about. Although I was optimistic in my last post about it being a good year, despite its start, things continued to happen to challenge that. Sadly, this includes the unexpected death of a coworker, I was honored to call a friend, from a heart attack at the age of 48. This was just one of many instances of bad luck, or bad fortune depending on your beliefs, that combined with the incessant rainy, dreary weather in Texas, led to my hibernation over most of January and February.

The hardest thing about grief in the case of someone dying too young is that you feel a need, or even obligation to honor their memory by living life to the fullest. At the same time the sadness of the event makes you want to do nothing. Although I did somewhat hibernate I still lived by the phrase “fake it till you make it.” Still making plans for trips, adding some things to the camper in anticipation of upcoming trips and continuing to work out to be ready. I was hoping that by going through the motions of living life to the fullest, I would eventually get my desire to do so back. Using this philosophy I made myself follow through with a trip to New York a couple weeks ago, that actually helped my desire to get back into travel. I attended an event called Dangerous Curves Pole Camp put on by a wonderfully inspirational woman I am proud to call my friend, Roz The Diva. (Google her, you won’t be sorry.) That weekend was a much needed escape and time with some wonderfully talented, intelligent women that helped me get my energy and enthusiasm back and as Roz would put it, get out and live my damn life!

Since coming back from New York I have been working on planning two upcoming trips I booked the beginning of the year.  I have started making route plans and finding activities that Bella and I can do together as well as prepping the camper.  My first trip will be to Lake Medina outside of San Antonio this coming weekend and the second is a long 12 day road trip across the Southeast.  As the first trip is approaching, I have been feeling more optimistic and ready to get out and camp. It helps that the weather is looking good, with no rain predicted for the first time in more weekends than I care to go back and count.

I have decided to add a couple appliances for my trips, hoping to head off problems before they happen. Although the tail veil helps the mosquito problem when cooking outside after dark, my trip to the Colorado river showed me that I can’t always plan to use it if there are high winds. Consequently I started thinking that I also need to have a back up plan for heavy rain and cold nights, where I can’t reasonable use the clam shell kitchen, but would like a hot meal. Although it’s warming up in Texas my long road trip in the Spring will be going through mountainous areas and states further North where it will probably still be cold. Also, when it got cold at the Colorado river, having to get out and get everything out just to make hot tea at night was a pain. I decided on a Crockpot lunch and an electric kettle, both the smallest size they make. Both can be used inside on my folding tray table.

They both fit in the tiny cabinet in the T@G perfectly. I’m going to keep some cans of soup, bottles of water, tea bags and packets of oatmeal and hot chocolate inside as well. I am also working on a cover for the shower/bathroom, so if I have a cold, rainy day me and Bella can wait it out inside and have everything we need.

Another issue I needed to address was holding the shower curtain rod on the front.  I had tried to use industrial strength velcro but the jarring from the road was too much.  It is held with straps at the top but I want something to make it more secure.  I bought a cheap bucket of various bungee straps that had the perfect solution.  It is an elastic cord with a ball on the end that you use to secure the cord. It was perfect because I was having issues finding a place on the trailer to securely fasten the hook of the regular cords.

Since this trip will be last one before the big road trip I am also planning to go ahead and pack like a would for the big one to work out any issues before I take off across the country.  This includes testing out just how much I can put under the bed, including toilet paper, paper towels, canned food and bottled water.  It’s a test to see how much I can fit and how it rides, as well as to see how my vehicle pulls it with all the extra weight.

Another thing I have been working on is a travel journal.  It’s not something I initially planned to do, partly because I plan to use this blog to chronicle my adventures and also because in my “everything is new and exciting” enthusiasm was sure I would remember the important things. I have since reentered the real world and realize there are things I need to keep track of that I would not post here, that I am not going to remember after a few months.

One of the main things I want to track is miles.  Since a camper is not like a car, with an odometer, this is something I am going to need to keep track of.  Partly for information if I plan to sell it in the future, but also, for my own information.  I want to know that am making the most of my investment and miles traveled is a great way to track that.  Yes, I am aware that I can get devices to track total miles for me, but really I would like to know the number per year, so a more detailed tracking is necessary.

Other things I want to track are general information about the campground.  This includes the condition of the grounds, site and facilities, as well as any amenities.  Things like what site number I was in and which ones would be good in the future will be good to keep track of.  I plan to start fishing and want to make notes on types of baits worked and what I caught.  Like I said, in the beginning I was sure these were things I would remember, but it’s been months since my first trip and had to look up the site number of the first place I stayed. Such is life.  We are sure we will remember the “important” things long after they happen because they are so real and clear at the time, but in reality that rarely happens.  A prime example is how I spent hours searching for Christmas decorations that I remember putting in a “safe” place the year before, but had no idea where it was.

Some other things I want to track in the future also includes the condition of roads I might take that are off the main path as well as good restaurants, grocery stores or other places of interest. I may also use the journal to track miles hiked or biked and the temperature and elevation at the time.  These are not travel critical items, just things for my own personal archive to know I did them.

I decided to use a small, leather bound notebook I got a few years back to use as this travel journal.  I could track all of this in a spreadsheet and I do already have many tracking spreadsheets for things such as budget and vehicle maintenance, but I decided to go with something tangible.  I come from that in between generation.  We know technology and embrace it, but still used things like real books and land line phones. While I do embrace technology that benefits my life, I’m leery of technology for the sake of technology and still like the feel of something tangible for certain items. Yes, I could use a spreadsheet, but in reality that will probably get lost or deleted over the years.  A book however, can always be there as a record of what I did and the adventures and accomplishments. As I watch a close family member struggle with Alzheimer’s I see the need for records of a life well lived as more essential than ever.  Especially since most of these adventure will be alone.  I see this journal as something to look to years down the road, by me, or other family members to see what I did in life and maybe inspire other people to go out and live life to the fullest.

So stay tuned for more posts in the near future.  I have a lot planned, including our experience when Bella the Great Hunter will be come Bella the Ghostbuster. In the meantime here’s a super cute picture of her all bundled up for a Therapy Dog visit the week of the 2018 Great Houston Ice Storm.

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