Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Monday, December 12, 2011

End of the 2010 Camping year

We picked up the camper at TC Warehouse on Friday after a Bill fixed a mystery heat problem with the Chalet double slide. Turned out the original install had one of the heat ducts so close to a pipe that when the hot air expanded the duct, it pinched the heat off!! Bill rebuilt it and now the bed area is toasty warm. He also figured out a way to extend the dump valve so it was easier to get to. Joe was having to crawl under the camper to reach the pipe to attach the sewer hose - never fun. Bill built this -

I forgot to close the grey and black water valves off before we left so yes that is water in the elbow. Normally the pipe will be dry until you dump waters. All is now drained and winterized. The new extension to the sewer pipe will come off easily with three screws and a hose clamp. Nice addition.

Time to put it away and are we ever lucky not to be buried in snow. We thought we'd have an indoor place to store this year but that fell through. Joe wanted more support for long term storage so picked up these six ton jacks from Harbor Freight. 2X4 fits perfectly in the grooves at the top of the jack.

The jack legs are down also but the weight of the camper is now shared by the yellow jacks for more stability in snow load.

Getting older is not fun especially going up on a ladder to put the cover on. We need to "borrow" the kids down the road next year. The ADCO cover didn't fit of course but we had expected that. It was originally bought for the Lance 1121 and fit perfectly. It was too baggy on the Host and way too small for the Chalet. Also has lots of duct tape on it but covers about 2/3 of the camper. Finished it off with a tarp all bungy corded down. Hey - we live in the woods so it's not a fashion statement.

Sad to see it go away but we'll be planning for next years travels.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rally time on the Maine coast

North East Truck Camper Rally at Recompence Shores Campground, Freeport, Maine November 10-13, 2011

It was a wonderful rally but it will go down in the annals as the "mud bowl". We camp on a loop road known as West Bay and normally put campers on both sides of the road in the fields. Here is the lonely road waiting for campers.

Joe and I got there early morning, set up and enjoyed a cloudy, but warm morning.

After two weeks of perfect Maine fall weather with high sun and warm weather, it of course rained Thursday. As our wood dealer arrived with a half cord of dry wood it started to sprinkle. As Mikeeeee arrived with his trailer it started to rain. It didn't just rain, it poured harder and harder as campers started to arrive. Fortunately four other truck camper couples arrived in time to help get Mike's big 20x30' tent up just ahead of the deluge. The tent sounded like a drum but we were warm, dry and sat around and swapped tales. Sure glad we're a frequent patron of the LL Bean outlet store and have a collection of mud, rain and snow boots. Here's Joe and Mike gathered around the coffee trying to get dry again. It was a remarkably warm weekend.

By evening twelve rigs had arrived, appetizers and drinks were shared. We all had on our tallest mud boots as the rain was coming under the tent like a river. Only one camper had a roof leak and a plastic table cloth over the bed let them make it through the night.

Friday dawned with thick clouds but only sprinkles. This is a New England size campfire with some hearty coffee drinkers up early to start the day. These TCers are from Maine, Quebec, NH and MA. Furthest away this time was near Gettysburg, PA.

During the day, many people went back into Freeport to shop LL Bean and the other outlet stores, visit the micro breweries and lobster restaurants. I took a SUV full of knitters up to Bath, ME to one of my favorite places, Halycon Yarns on Friday (and then to Purl Diva in Brunswick on Saturday) . Joe and Mike kept the fire stoked.

By evening we had 24 truck campers parked along the fields. No one sank but we were spread out a lot further than usual as people looked for the highest ground. This is total boondock so we park anywhere regardless of the usual camping slots. Again we gathered for drinks and appetizers. This year we did a scotch tasting. Thanks campers for sharing your special blends and to Hodag for the legal white lighting. Special thanks to Mariann for very unusual, delicious appetizers.

Saturday dawned warm and sunny.

Recompence is part of Wolfe Neck Farm, a 650 acre salt water farm. There are great hiking trails back into the woods, along the estuary and out into the clam flats. Wolfe Neck State Park is a half mile away and has a lot of old growth pines, eagle and osprey nests and more walking trails. Many of our campers spent the day out exploring these areas. Here are some getting that last drop of coffee before heading out.

It's a lot of fun to camp with fellow truck campers. Here's the group though not all are in the photos. I kept so busy I didn't get as many photos as usual.

Did I say mud?

Saturday night sunset was beautiful.

We gathered for a pot luck supper which lasted for hours with great food, talk and sharing places to go. Mikeee went over what the North East Truck Camper Jamboree will be doing for gatherings next year. Most of us will start out by going to the Mid-Atlantic Truck Camper gathering in VA in mid-April.

Sunday morning is our traditional "men cook, women eat" breakfast. Mike's trailer holds a lot of griddles and warming trays so the guys get busy. How do you power it all? Honda 2000s which come from lots of campers.

Sadly we watched the truck campers all depart. Mikeee, Cathie, Joe and I stayed until the firewood was gone, enjoying the fall warmth and the beautiful view over Casco Bay. Recompence is one of those magic places, mud and all. We'll do it again next November and hope more of you can join us.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Truck Camper Gathering - fall in Maine

Time to enjoy a fall gathering on the ocean in Maine -

Update to North-East Truck Camper Late Fall Campout - Recompence Campground, Freeport, Maine.
See below for the original information.  We met with the campground manager last week and he is delighted to have our group back again. The dump station and big trash container will be available for our use. Many of you will be arriving after dark so come to the campsite on West Bay rather than try to register at the office. We will have registration forms at the campsite tent and will take them with your check or cash to the manager.

For those of you who have not been to this campground before, take a look at this coordinate on Google Earth N43° 49.45'  W70° 4.47'. That point of land is West Bay where we will camp.
Directions to get to Recompence Campground (Wolf's Neck Farm) from Freeport:
Most of you will be coming north into Maine on I-95. If you are interested in stopping at Cabela's it is just off Exit 42 but cannot be seen from the road. We take Exit 52 which will be marked Falmouth. This spur loops around to I-95. Take Exit 22 off of I-295 which is marked Freeport and turn left at end of the exit ramp. At the first traffic light, Harraseeket Inn is dead ahead of you. Take a right. Go less than half a mile and take a left onto Bow Street. You will have passed the post office, Azure Cafe and be at the main LL Bean building as you turn onto Bow Street. Bow Street/Flying Point Road continues for 2.33 miles. Turn right onto Wolf's Neck Road. At 1.65 miles turn left onto Burnett Road which is a dirt road. At .5 (one half) mile turn right onto the road leading to West Bay. This small dirt road is at the top of a rise right after you have crossed a one lane wooden bridge and yes the bridge will hold your camper weight. Have faith! Less than a third of a mile on this secondary dirt road you will see the camp site. This little dirt road dead ends so just keep coming. If you arrive late at night, park anywhere near the other truck campers and we'll get you set in the morning.

Relax and socialize
Go into Freeport to holiday shop
Mike has offered to show you how to winterize your camper if you have not done so before. Bring two gallons of RV antifreeze.
If you have not taken your camper off/on your truck by yourself yet we will help you learn to do so.
The scotch drinkers among us are going to hold a scotch tasting. If you drink scotch, bring a bottle to share and a shot glass. 

Meals, etc.
We usually do drinks and appetizers around 5PM Thursday and Friday evenings.
Pot luck dinner is Saturday around 6PM. Bring a dish to share and your own plates/utensils.
Sunday is group breakfast. Bring something for the guys to cook up - eggs, muffins, bacon, etc.
We do not  have a check out time on Sunday so stay and relax as long as you wish. Looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new.

Who: North-East Truck Campers and friends
What: Fall Dry Camping to close out our camping year
When: Thursday, November 10, 2011 - Sunday, November 13, 2011
Where: Recompence Shore Campground, Wolfe's Neck Farm, Burnett Road, Freeport, Maine
N43° 49.45' W70° 4.47'
Why: To enjoy a late fall gathering by the ocean

Our informal Truck Camper gathering at Recompence Shore Campground, Freeport, Maine is set for Thursday, November 10 - Sunday, November 13, 2011. The views off of the bay front are just spectacular - Maine at its best. See the campground web site at http://www.freeportcamping.com/. This is a total dry camp for those of you wanting to test your solar power and generators. You will be able to run generators occasionally to keep the batteries topped off. There is a dump station by the office and a pit toilet near where we camp.
The campground manager has agreed to a rate of $15 per night. The campground is closed except for walk ins and those who wish to winter camp. We'll be on the West Bay water front across from the Hay Field (see map on the web site).
If you are unsure about coming or do not want to pre-register, I will have signup forms at the shelter tent on West Bay. You can fill out there and pay by check or cash. Joe/I will take them to the office. If your dog comes (they are welcome), you need a copy of your rabies certificate. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Recompense Shore is only 5.17 miles from LL Bean plus about 100 shops, pubs, BBQ, etc. in Freeport. There is a United Maine Craftsmen juried crafts fair in Augusta, ME about an hour away on Saturday and Sunday. Details at http://www.unitedmainecraftsmen.com. We'll do a pot luck on Saturday night and do our usual sharing of drinks and appetizers on Thursday and Friday. Traditionally we also do a group breakfast on Sunday morning. Mikeee has graciously agreed to bring his tent and space heater so we will have a shelter if needed. Joe and I will provide a pickup load of firewood. DO NOT bring wood with you as imported wood is no longer allowed in Maine.
This gathering is low key with no planned seminars, raffles, etc. We spend lots of time sitting around the campfire, swapping tales of places we've been and want to go. Bring your winter coat and boots as it can get a bit nippy. We'll keep our fingers crossed for a late Indian Summer. Beautiful place, good TC friends and any of their camper friends - a great way to close out the North East camping season for most of us.

Anne and Joe Brown   email: TwoMaineiacs2@yahoo.com   

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hot time at the Balloon Festival!

This photo says it all for the past weekend. It was HOT HOT HOT.

Twenty one truck campers and one travel trailer showed up for the South County RI Balloon Festival held at the University of RI at Kingston RI.  Did I say it was HOT?

We started setting up about Friday noon after driving down from Maine. We forget what real traffic is like, meaning Route 95 skirting Boston, Providence, etc. Just get in a lane, don't pay attention to the "gestures" as they whip by and know they don't have the fun ahead of them we do nor their houses with them.

By evening we were lined up in two facing rows, with tents for sun cover, tables for a pot luck, grills, coolers, etc. etc. As dusk arrived, the balloons started to go up. Beautiful colors on the silks and so surreal when the propane fires and the balloon lights up.

The weather was not misty. The camera had been in the camper where the generator was keeping the AC cranking away. The camera lenses was colder than outside and it took a long time for the fog to go away when it came out.

We  had two campers new to the group show up. This camper built sturdy wooden stairs with a railing for his wife who is handicapped. The steps were the object of much awe.

The steps are jointed and come apart into individual boards for easy storage. Both couples were a lot of fun and we "old" campers hope they return.

Saturday was not as hot, only about 96F (ouch) and the evening cooled enough so we were able to open windows (and Heiki hatches) and sleep well. Pot luck was a blast with lots of tales told of camping adventures. After Sunday breakfast to rival a Denny's Grand Slam we all took off to go back to reality. We're so lucky in the North East to have TCers willing to keep attending our gatherings and new folks join us each time.

Cool as a Moose? Yeap - he's finally happy to be back in Maine where it is currently 64F. YES!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Fourth of July in Salem MA

Flying the flags!

A few of us met up at Fort Pickering, Winter Harbor next to Salem, MA. Hot? Yes! but there was a good breeze most of the weekend. The campground messed up Mike's set aside sites so we ended up doubling/tripling up on the power panels. A good time was had by all, lots of talk of places been and places to go, way too much good food and a few adult beverages thrown in. The fireworks went off in spite of a late afternoon thunderstorm.

Mike's new trailer is working out great, much easier for him to share those tables, tents and grills. He cooked a 20+ pound beef roast one night with breakfast each morning. Joe acted as sous chef as usual. Here they are trying to figure out what gets cooked next.

Next meet up is at a hot air balloon festival in Rhode Island. Fingers crossed and insurance paid in case a balloon basket lands on the camper!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wandering the coast of Maine into NB

Quick getaways are sometimes the best, those unplanned excursions that turn out to be picture perfect. Instead of staying home and waiting for the excavator (who know says maybe July 13th) we headed up the coast of Maine for some R&R.

Some trips work out, some trips don't like our recent planned one to Alaska. Camden ME has turned into tourism central and at times it is almost impossible to park a VW bug much less a TC. First piece of luck for the day - a back street parking place that we could just pull in and then pull out with no parking skills involved. Off we walked over to Cappy's Chowder House which is a local seafood/bar/gathering place. Got a table immediately instead of waiting in line out the door. Seafood chowder was excellent as usual as were their old fashioned biscuits made from scratch.

All along Route 1, local fishermen set up trucks to sell their seafood. prices aren't that different from the fish markets but it sure is fresh. We bought clams to steam for me and haddock to griddle for Joe that night.

Second luck of the day was another good parking place right in downtown Belfast. Now Belfast is not a big city being a fishing community but it is built on steep hills and parking can be a job. We hadn't walked around Belfast in years and really enjoyed the mix of music/cafe type shops and the old fishing gear stores  - plus a nice yarn store which is why we stopped.

Maine has many finger peninsulas, separated by estuaries almost like fjords. This is one up by Bucksport.

Even at a distance, Cadillac Mountain is impressive. This is from Schoodic Point, still part of Acadia National Park but not crowded.

Ever wonder where your wild blueberries come from? From barrens in Maine scrapped almost to granite by the glaciers, leaving just enough soil for wild low bush blueberries. This is a major crop for a part of the state strapped for jobs and income.

On to the third and most unreal piece of luck. The gods were smiling yesterday. We knew this time of year we could get into Coobscook State Park up near Lubec, Maine but figured we would be in a wooded site. Site #8 was available which is right on Coobscook Bay which leads into the Bay of Fundy, on a peninsula tip with no one else near by - all for $14.00. Boondock of course but that is what we wanted. There are rare times in life you hear absolutely no motor noise of any type. Even the lobster boats were tied up and when eventually one went by, it was almost an event.
Tide was high when we pulled in. With a 25 foot rise/fall you can actually see the progress. Photos show a small island just off our campsite at high, then at low tide.

Lupine were everywhere with a mix of the usual purple into whites and pinks. A very cold winter and wet spring made the wildflowers riot. Canadian customs was very welcoming, friendly and quick. A few questions and a "have a great time". We'll see how the American customs is going back over.

We continued on to St. Andrews, New Brunswick to go to Kingsbrae Gardens, a 20 acre perennial garden. They recently held a garden sculpture contest. This is a huge weather vane made out of welded metal rods and wooden geese. When the wind hits, the wings go around and make honking goose and flying wing sounds. !!

Tonight we are camped at a commercial campground on the tip of St. Andrews. Again we will feast on local seafood and then sit to watch the tide go out. A very lucky trip, gorgeous 75F weather with blue skies, light breeze and lowering diesel prices. Can life get much better?

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 12 -15 Ashland NE to Home

May 12 and 13 – Ashland, NE to Fayette, OH

These were pure travel days with stops at state parks and a visit to Classy Chassis in Valparaiso, IN. We are both ready to turn around and head west again to those open roads where you can go a very long time and not see another vehicle. I’d forgotten what our eastern roads can be like.

Crossing the Mississippi River at Moline we were able to see that at least in the upper stretches it was still within its banks.

Lots of road miles over the last two days but sometimes it is necessary. Holed up at Kewanee, IL at the Johnson-SaukTrail State Recreation area. It’s a small campground with almost no one there. It was a good, quiet place to decompress, clean out the junk that always seems to accumulate and not be moving. We have bugs splattered on the Chalet from Maine to Oregon to OH but they’ll be there when we get home.

Ever seen a round barn? This one wasn’t open. They are quite common in VT and we’ve toured a few.

Today we travelled up I-80 -- save me from heavy traffic on commuter roads with pot holes, cracks, work crews, and the idiots going either 40 or 80 mph. We headed to Valparaiso, IN so Joe could visit Classy Chassis and talk about one of their low utility body boxes built to carry a truck camper. Look down their web site www.classychassistrucks.com/ and you will find photos of trucks with campers. Nice dream and it would take a lottery win to make it happen.

We’re in another state park tonight – Harrison Lake Park near Fayette, OH. The state parks are so underused it’s sad. Course it is early for school to be out but the only other person here is a very wet couple in a small tent. I was watching the sky pretty hard when the thunderstorm rolled in.

May 14 and 15 –

Again pure travel days, the longest ones of all with 480 miles on the 14th. Too tired to get creative on a place to overnight and pulled into the Walmart in Oneida, NY. We’d driven through the Turning Leaf Indian Casino looking for other RVs to herd with. They must have changed their overnight policy as none were there and one guard pointed us to the Casino campground down the road. We were so tired, Walmart was a quiet oasis.

Stopped in at TC Warehouse in W. Chesterfield, NH to have Bill look at one of the Chalet’s slides. Couple of the screws holding one flange had loosened and though Joe kept tightening them, they would get loose again. Bill pulled the screws, caulked and put in longer, stainless ones. Got his advice on cleaning all the road grunge off the camper and we headed home.

Home looks great thanks to our house sitter, cat will ignore us for another week or so, Joe’s mom is overjoyed we are back. I’ll put some thought into the best and worse parts of the trip and drop another note later.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 10 and 11 - Geology and a Tornado

May 10 – Custer SD to Ogalla, NE

Custer State Park again lived up to its reputation as a superb place to visit. The day started off with a herd of mountain goats right outside the camper. We had breakfast watching them jump back and forth over the campground fence. Even the smallest one made it over easily.

We’d planned on making this a geology day and headed off for Toadstool Geologic Park Trail off Route 2 as you enter Nebraska. After three miles of bone jarring, dusty, very unpleasant travel over a corrugated road, we decided the other 10 miles would not be worth it and managed a turn around. Hard turning on a road that is one car width!

On to Fort Robinson, a historic recreation of a fort that went from Indian wars to the Phillipines. Too early in the tourist season so the buildings were closed. We did drive the Smiley Canyon Trail and got out to walk in among the horses. I don’t know if they are truly wild as they were quite curious and kept approaching. Fortunately the fellow with horns was fenced in.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument was next. A rancher found a 2 foot thick slab of bones back up in the hills and had sense enough to call in a few scientists. Skeletal remains and the Indian artifacts and old crafts were quite interesting.

Followed a lonely road down to Ogalla to camp.

We got up in the middle of the night to pull in the dinette slider since the wind was actually rocking the camper. Don’t know the mph but it was pretty scary with thunder, lightning, etc. Camper did well, no leaks, no damage.

May 11 – Ogalla to Ashland, NE – via a tornado

A bit of philosophy (?) to start with. Everyone of us has had times when we wondered what would have happened if we had been a minute earlier or a minute later arriving at a certain space or situation in our lives. Today was one of those days to wonder.

Stopped in Grand Island, NE for a oil and filter change. They took us in earlier than we had been told and got us out quickly. Off we go down I-80 headed east. There was obviously weather clouds ahead of us so we kept looking at the I-Phone app for weather.

Just after looking at this map

look what dropped down RIGHT BESIDE US. Nowhere to go, not trained in what to do, no shelter, no nearby underpass and I’m driving.

Stop? Slow down? Speed up? Hmmmm…. Can I drive fast enough to get past it before it arrives over I-80? Is this one of life’s moments when one minute earlier or one minute later would make all the difference?

Do you know how fast you can get a heavy camper and a F350 diesel going in a short time? I We didn’t dare glance down at the speed but had to have been 80-85mph.

It gets closer.

Joe’s yelling faster and I’m yelling “Take Pictures”. The photos are blurred because the camera wasn’t on sports setting and we were really moving.

This is a tornado. Yes it’s small and probably weak as these things go but sure didn’t look or feel like it at the time. Truck actually moved sideways at one point.

It passed behind us but the winds and rain bands took a long time to slow down. First overpass we got to that had room under it, we stopped and gave thanks and checked the camper and truck. Other than a very small amount of water under the propane tank door, camper did great.

Give me a blizzard any time - snow, cold, wind, howling gale, no power, feet of snow. You folks who live out here in tornado country can keep it.

Tonight we are at Mahoney State Park near Omaha. It’s quiet, no wind, and amazingly the state park has wifi. Wonder what’s next for tomorrow?