Thirty-one more Truck Camper Magazine stars chronicle on their top choice truck camping hot-spots and cool adventures from 2014. Be careful not to overload on truck camping inspiration. … … …
As these words are typed, the snow is falling in Pennsylvania. Our beautiful truck camper rig is parked in a storage lot, all systems winterized and prepared for the dark and cold months to follow. By 4:30pm every afternoon, it’s getting dark. By 6:00pm, it may as well be midnight.
Every year, the experience of Winter setting in reminds me of my Great Grandmother. In her infinite wisdom, my Great Grandmother flew to Florida immediately after Christmas, and stayed until at least mid-March. She was, as they say, a snowbird. The older I get, the more I realize that my Great Grandmother had it right. Winter is for the birds. Fly south.
In the mean time, it helps to read about the adventures of our fellow truck camping community. Now that the camping season for most of us has ended, we can not only reflect warmly on our own truck camping experiences from 2014, but the truck camping experiences of others. Through these shared memories, we can escape the cold and dark clutches of Winter, if only for a moment, and bask in the truck camping fun of others.
So make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, tea, coffee, or Johnnie Walker, and get ready for thirty-one vicarious truck camping travelogues. By the time you’re done reading, the Spring, and the glorious start of the 2015 truck camping season, will be a little bit sooner.
Karen Clark and Jerry Bowerman
Comfort And The Beast
2013 Ford F350
2013 Hallmark K2
We took a ten-day trip to the eastern Sierras and then across Nevada. We also took a long trip to Canada and visited Vancouver, British Columbia, Mount Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park, and Calgary. On the route home, we visited Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Tetons National Park.
The national parks and scenery in Canada was beautiful. The people were kind. Everything was new to me. We camped and hiked and wandered through the towns. We spent four days in Vancouver and enjoyed the big city. If you want to camp at Lake Louise, Banff National Park, and/or Jasper National Park in the summer, reservations are a must. Those campgrounds were full every night. The first come, first serve campsites away from the towns had spaces available.
On our Canada trip, we were gone two months and spent over fifty nights in the camper. The most remarkable experience for me was how well it worked for us. We never felt cramped. We always felt like we were living in luxury. Even when we were visiting friends and there was a guest room available to us, we stayed in our camper. It is our second home. We have also gone on a number of short, close-to-home trips this year. Having the truck camper makes it so easy and economical to take off and enjoy ourselves. It’s like having a second home wherever we go.
Kim and Dan Rounsley
Building the Perfect Truck Camping Beast
2012 Ford F550
2013 Arctic Fox 990
We took the Alaska State Ferry from our home in Juneau to Bellingham, Washington in January. Driving Highway 101 along the Pacific Coast was something we’ve always wanted to do, and it was fantastic. We had mild weather and gorgeous scenery, wonderful campgrounds, and fun experiences all the way to San Diego and back.
The Oregon coast is rugged and very accessible to the public. We walked for miles on the sand and spent hours watching the surf crash. Oregon state parks are top-notch. Harris Beach is a prime example. We watched the Superbowl in a beautiful park setting with an ocean view.
We visited Pinnacles National Park, the newest addition to the national park system, and Joshua Tree National Park for the first time. Of course we camped in the Redwoods again. National parks never disappoint. We were three months on the road, and enjoyed it thoroughly. We had so much fun! We’re planning to repeat it next year.
Phoenix Rising On the Jeep Trails
1978 Chevrolet K10
The first trip for 2014 was a ten day trip to Arizona and Utah that included a few days at the Overland Expo near Flagstaff, Arizona. Then a few friends and I spent the next several days off-roading and touring around the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park in southern Utah. The Doll House was the grand finale of the Maze District where we spent two nights and one full day hiking and exploring the beautiful landscape.
Due to a busy summer, I was not able get out again until September and October. September brought a long weekend with friends off-roading in the Colorado high country near Buena Vista while fishing and camping along the way. We entered the off-road trail South of Buena Vista and drove off-road all the way to Aspen, which is a couple full days travel via four-wheel drive roads. Along the way we fished at Mirror Lake, Taylor Reservoir, and Taylor Lake.
In October I took along long weekend and fished another high mountain lake near Westcliffe, Colorado. The lake delivers great solitude as the trail that leads to it is not easily traveled by most vehicles. Even with only those three trips, I was still able to notch another 3,500 miles and seventeen nights in my gun belt for camper living. Hands down, the Doll House, was the best! The Doll House is absolutely beautiful and looks like a location from a different planet. The location is extremely remote and not often visited due to the very long and technical off-road trail that leads to it. It is a one and a half day off-road trip just to get to the Doll House, then another one and a half days to get out. The solitude there is surreal. I also was featured in Peterson’s Four Wheel and Off-Road magazine while in Flagstaff at the Overland Expo.
Dan and Bonnie Forry
Ranger Out West
2004 Ford F-250
2006 Palomino 1251
In March we went to Nebraska staying at Fort Kearney Recreational Area watching the annual Sandhill Crane migration. Fourth of July found us camping at Waubonsie State Park in Iowa and later at Baker Park near the twin cities of Minnesota. We had fun at Baker Park as we camped with our six year old granddaughter. Then we camped at a tractor show before coming home.
In mid August I took some time to trout fish in northeast Iowa, camping at my sister’s forested property. In September we traveled to Wyoming and Colorado spending most of our time in national forest campgrounds and Rocky Mountain National Park. We spent three days watching the fall elk mating rituals, using our camper for a home base.
We enjoyed Rocky Mountain National Park. We ate our lunch at the Alpine Visitor Center parking lot, viewing the Never Summer Mountains. The time we spent observing the elk was the best part of the trip, hearing them bugle, even through the night. We also did some hiking. While in Colorado, we visited some family and friends before coming home.
We had some trouble getting a campsite at Rocky Mountain National Park. My advice is to call ahead and reserve a site. This year I was able to get my senior park pass, which saves some money. When we got our campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park, it was the same site we had when we visited the park five years ago!
In late October I was able to get away for another short fishing trip. We have so much fun camping with our rig. The sleep is more restful, the meals taste better and life is great! Truck campers rock.
Jim and Patti Duarte
Camping on Sandy Neck Beach
2015 Ford F350 Super Duty short bed
2013 Eagle Cap 850
We used the new camper with the old truck a lot this year. And then, on Columbus Day weekend, we finally bought a new truck to carry it.
Other than a July 4th trip to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, we spent our entire summer beach camping at Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable, Massachusetts – that’s what we do! Same beach time, same beach place!
We purchase an annual pass, so we spend all of our camping time on the beach. The best thing about this summer was the way the interaction with our friends seemed to gel more than in the past. We’ve become like a big family. The big meals were excellent – especially the old fashioned New England clam boils. We did that twice and the clams were delicious.
As in our interview back in April of 2012, beach camping is a different sort of camping. You need to know how to handle driving over beach sand and have the proper equipment to get yourself out of trouble should you get stuck. Check out my interview for tips.
Another memorable event was when fellow beach camper, Mike Cabbage, and six of his buddies, did a flyover on September 27th. It’s not something you see everyday (see pictures above).
Four Season Truck Camping In Southern California
2001 Ford F350
2015 Wolf Creek 850
We drove to Portland Oregon in May to purchase a 2015 Wolf Creek 850. We traveled and camped in the Mount Hood Area and then headed to Roloff Farms. We are fans of the show “Little People Big World” and visited Roloff Farms on a private tour and met Matt, Amy, Zack, and Jacob Roloff at their home. From there we traveled down the Oregon Coast.
We ended the trip with a visit to Redwood National and State Park. We also took a trip to Sequoia National Forest where we did a partial truck camp and backpack trip.
The summer was spent at San Elijo and South Carlsbad state beaches. We also headed out to Anza Borrego Desert State Park several times. We are leaving for a two week trip to Colorado Springs via Southern Utah, Four Corners for Thanksgiving. We will continue to hit up Anza Borrego and Mount Laguna. We are also planning a trip to the Mojave Desert National Preserve. Gold Bluff Beach Campground at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park was our favorite place we traveled this year. The road getting into the campground is through a dense forest with ferns and Redwoods. The campground is really only accessible with a truck camper. Trailers are not allowed.
The beach is a ten mile stretch of remote beauty not to mention the Roosevelt Elk Herd, and the amazing Fern Canyon. Anyone with a truck camper should put this place on their bucket list. The campground is first come, first serve, and is pretty basic, but well worth trying to get in.
The Survivor Truck Bug Out Vehicle
1980 Chevy C70 / Survivor Truck 1
2012 Four Wheel Campers Keystone – modified
Due to work and building the Survivor Truck II, I had to remain in the Southwest. I have used the Survivor Truck often, but I wish I could get out more. If you have a Survivor Truck, you can go virtually anywhere and enjoy yourself. I also like any modern campsite with people in it. The looks on their faces when we pull in are priceless!
My favorite event this year was doing a television show called Amazing America. We got to deploy the thermally-regulated camouflage netting system and view it through multiple heat sensing devices. It was awesome how well it worked.
Keep it simple, stay safe, and enjoy life.
Chevy Avalanche Gets A Custom Camper
2004 Chevy Avalanche
2010 Custom Phoenix Avalanche Camper
We took the camper to Florida in March from northwest Iowa. We stopped in Saint Louis on the way down to tour the Cardinal’s baseball stadium and visit a science museum. We also stopped in Atlanta to tour the Brave’s stadium. We visited my sister and her family for four days in Jacksonville. Then we spent a couple days in Orlando at Disney World.
We slept in the camper at whatever destination we had reached that day, except for the three nights at my sisters when we slept in her house. My nephew and niece spent most of the time while we were there playing in the camper with my two boys. I sent my nephew a camper truck toy to play with as he loved mine so much.
We hit the decline of the Appalachian mountains at night when it was late and foggy. I was not driving and we were not prepared for the decline to be as steep or so suddenly appear in the fog. That was a pretty tense moment.
One night, after a day of traveling, I made the family (my beautiful misses, nine year old son, and five year old son) burgers on the camper stove while the boys watched a movie. I watched the Minnesota Gophers beat Indiana on my phone on the Big Ten Network app. The beautiful misses shopped a bit as we were parked in a mall parking lot that night. It was very cozy and I enjoyed that thoroughly.
The whole trip we stayed warm and cozy in the camper at night. We saved so much money and time by not staying in hotel rooms. It was much nicer to have our own space too when we pulled over. Seeing my sisters family and getting to take my boys to Disney World was a big dream for me and my family. The camper helped make that happen.
For that extended week, we didn’t pay for any hotel rooms. We did pay for one night in a campground in Orlando, which I would not advise. I was grumpy about paying $75 to park my truck basically to camp close to Disney World.
I have found on the road, at least in larger cities, that Target and Walmart parking lots are not so accommodating to truck campers as they are rumored to be. But, gas stations are, especially in the south. The truck stops are used to semis parking for the night. We would ask when we arrived if it was okay to stay. To me either place should see you staying there as a win. You are likely going to get up in the morning and buy gas and food from them.
The most fun was succeeding in taking the family to Disney World. There was pure joy on the face of my 9, 5, and 37 year old family members. I had fun too. We were at Disney’s Magic Kingdom from nine in the morning until two in the morning. We had nothing but fun that entire time and saw it all. At one point I was dancing with my beautiful misses under the fireworks as a song she liked from Beauty in the Beast was on. After I was done my nine year old took the queue from dad and danced with Mom.
I wish we could have taken more trips. My boys play a lot of ball games as do Melinda and I in the summer. Melinda also switched jobs this year and had to work more hours while her employer opened, which reduced our family trips. But I still have not taken the camper off the truck. The year isn’t over yet, though were heading into winter here in Northwest Iowa. I wish Melinda had more time off so we could take that trip to Jacksonville again and then Orlando as my boys are big Lego fans and they would love Legoland.
Off-the-Grid With Santa Claus
2011 Dodge 2500
2012 CampLite 10.0
It has been a very busy year and we haven’t had a lot of time for camping. For the most part it has been mostly trips to the beach at Padre Island National Seashore. We also took a two day trip at a softball tournament. My daughter plays select softball and taking the camper saves us on hotel costs as well as the fact that we can stay at the fields.
A fun part of this year was having five stinky softball girls watching television between games in the air conditioning of our little camper. I don’t know if we will ever get that smell out!
We love going to the beach. It is a close and easy trip to make on short notice. Relaxation is the key as we sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in. We do a little fishing and just enjoy the outdoors. I go with full intentions of fishing, but usually wind up just sitting in my chair. They say there is a fine line between fishing and just sitting there looking stupid. I have the looking stupid part down pat!
Advice I have for Padre Island National Seashore is that four-wheel drive and big tires are a must. And don’t forget the shovel. If you air down, be sure you have your own pump to air your tires back up. It is several miles out of the park before you find a gas station. There are a few full-service campsites by the park headquarters for the timid. But the best spots are thirty to forty miles down the beach where there is no cell service. Primitive is an understatement.
Always be prepared and don’t hesitate to get out there. Remember, the truck is just a tool used to get to the destination and that destination is always worth a few dents and scratches.
Small Camper, Big Life
2004 Ford Ranger
2005 Four Wheel Camper Eagle
I am still in the midst of my Great Loop Tour of 2014. As I write this, I am in Bismarck, North Dakota on my way back to Vancouver, British Columbia. The ice bomb or Polar Vortex event of November 10-20, 2014 may delay my progress.
My Great Loop Tour of 2014 has me going from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Minnesota, then to the Atlanta region, then across the South to Texas (to visit my brother), and then back up to Minnesota and then return to British Columbia. My rig has logged over 6,000 miles so far, and I have 1,400 more miles to go.
As a result of not towing anything or lugging around more than the 800 pounds of camper, plus about 400 pounds of kayaks, telescope, food, and equipment, I am able to get mountain and logging roads easily with the base Mustang 3.7 liter V6. The Mustang 3.7 liter V6 does not feature twin turbos or Ecoboost, as Ford terms it. I think that the unaspirated Mustang 3.7 litter V6 is a long-distance runner, and it should outlast me.
Three photos are attached. The first is from August, 2014, on the top of Mount Kobau, British Columbia. I go there every year with my large telescope (17.5″ diameter mirror, 6.5′ length) for the late summer Mount Kobau Star Party. This is my favorite location, thanks to its dark skies, sub-alpine flowers, and spectacular vistas from its 6,100 foot height. I also give a talk there every year about what to look for during the week of the star party, highlighting special cometary appearances, special planetary apparitions, and also a featured constellation or deep-sky object for that particular year. This past year, I emphasized Camelopardalis, a faint northern constellation full of interesting objects that are particularly well-placed for Canadian observers.
The second photo highlights a view from last month, at Lake Thunderbird, east of Norman, Oklahoma. The trees in the foreground had a large flock of bluebirds in them. There were also three different kinds of woodpeckers working away on the trees, looking for insects. Lake Thunderbird is a wonderful place, with campgrounds all around and a large perimeter. It’s outstanding for birders and is perfect for my inflatable kayaks.
The third photo is from November 12th. It’s the view from my family lake home on a chain of lakes just north of Alexandria, Minnesota, my birthplace. It records the ice bomb or Polar Vortex that is bringing snow and record-cold temperatures to so much of North America at this time. There are hundreds of migrating coots speckling, like little black dots on the surface of the water in front of my home.
This lake, Le Homme Dieu Bay, is part of a chain of lakes. From the dock, one can paddle a canoe or kayak through a couple of lakes in the chain, reach the Long Prairie River, then a larger one that leads into the Mississippi, thereby proving that, from my family home, one could go anywhere in the world by water. Of course, when reaching New Orleans, one would need to exchange the kayak or canoe for a much larger watercraft.
Bruce and Kathy Allison
Truck Camper Keeps Marriage on Track
2000 Ford F350
2012 Adventurer 910FBS
We went to Utah, Arizona, California, and Nevada this year. It’s always going to be a fun time if we’re heading someplace in the truck camper. Always!
Southern Utah was our favorite place with the beautiful red rock canyons, mountains, arches, and Native American ruins/petroglyphs.
We always tow our much modified Jeep. Using the camper as base camp, we’ll take the Jeep into the back country, and then hike in when the Jeep trails end. We get to see scenery that few people witness. And speaking of people, we see very few others during our travels, which we consider a plus! Our advice is to take Byway 12 across Utah, and stop at all five national parks. The state campgrounds and rest stops are unbelievably clean and nice compared to most other states. Spring and Fall are the best times to go, as much of this area is at mid-to-high altitude. Whether at the racetrack racing our racecar, or heading out with the Jeep to rock crawl or explore, it will be exciting and fun. That’s the point!
Thanks for all you guys do!
Rich and Joanne Bain
Always Ready To Go Truck Camping
1999 Chevy C3500
2010 Adventurer 810WS
This year was filled with many travels once again for us. All of our travels were in the Pacific Northwest. Since March, when our article published, we have done so many trips. I’ll list just a few for you.
We went to Yakima, Washington to go to the Adventurer factory and then hosted the Wine Tour gathering in Prosser, Washington afterwards. We spent Memorial Day weekend at Fort Spokane in Washington. We went to Dachshunds on Parade in Ellensburg, Washington where we had our four dachshunds in attendance with a few hundred other dachshunds. Then, we hosted the Washington State truck camper rally in Electric City, Washington.
For our big sixteen day trip we went to Astoria, Oregon. We went to the Fall Festival gathering at Schweitzer Mountain in Sandpoint, Idaho and then attended the Fall Colors Caravan and Rally in Winthrop, Washington.
There were other trips, but those are just a few of the highlights. The year is not over yet and we will be out more before year’s end.
I’d have to say our trip to Astoria, Oregon was our favorite. It was nice to have sixteen days to do whatever we wanted. There is history to explore, the outdoors to enjoy, and our family time was amazing. We could have spent another week in the Astoria area easily. We drove no more than 100 miles a day on our trip, taking as much time to explore as we wanted.
Fort Stevens state park is a awesome place to stay. There are so many trails to explore, fresh water lakes, the ocean, ranger programs, and the history at the old military forts. I would go back there again for sure. Make sure you make reservations if you are going during the summer. It was booked everyday we were there in July. Although it’s a huge campground, there still were plenty of places to go where we had solitude.
Having to have our truck and camper towed into Ellensburg for repairs was quite a memory. The fuel pump went out in the truck. While a bummer to our basic schedule and mainly a bummer to the pocket book, we were safe. We still had time together and made the best of the situation. It was just a small hiccup really in the scheme of things. Things happen that we don’t plan on happening. Roll with it and move on. Was it the most fun? No. It was just a memory to the many we built.
We look forward to the new year. There are a lot more places to see and things to do. We are really looking forward to a big trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado for the big truck camper rally in July.
As I always say, life is short and we never know the end time. Get out there and enjoy the camper and make memories with your family and friends. The memories will last far longer than our time on this Earth.
Pam and Gary Veeder
From Key West To The Yukon
1997 Ford 250 HD
2001 Northern Lite
We made our usual two week trip to Maine. We camped on the ocean in Phippsburg. It isn’t the top campground in ambience, but it is tops in fellow campers, ocean, and great fish in the area. We then camped at our County Fair where we have volunteered for more than forty years.
We also traveled to New England for two weeks, taking in four fairs and the World Percheron Congress at the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts. There were 900 beautiful horses from California east to Maine, Canada, and some European countries. Quite a thrill. We stopped at Sturbridge Village on he way home. We hadn’t been there in many years. It’s still a good stop. The world Percheron Congress was the best part of the year. We helped a friend of mine build a four horse hitch Warrior Wagon to honor veterans. It was the lead wagon for opening ceremonies each day and honored all branches of service with veterans riding in. The world Percheron Congress only happens in this country every four years.
We also enjoyed pulling into the Freiberg Fair in Maine and finding 3,000 camping units on site for $31.32 a night. For many, the Freiberg Fair is an annual get together just before Halloween with decorations for the occasion. The camaraderie was excellent and the fair enjoyable. We still enjoy our truck camper that’s currently in its 13th year and a truck that looks and runs like new with just under 250,000 miles.
Top 10 Alaska
2013 Chevy 3500
2011 Four Wheel Camper Hawk
In the Spring of 2012, I took the trip of a lifetime in my Four Wheel Camper Hawk. The trip was more than 14,000 miles from North Carolina to Alaska. I was honored the following spring to be included in a story for Truck Camper Magazine. I recently received a request from TCM to talk about trips that I have taken since last being written up in the magazine. The truth is, I really haven’t taken a long trip similar to the Alaska trip since that time. Work has been extremely hectic and allows me limited time for truck camping.
I did however have one adventure and that was when I swapped out my 1997 Chevy 1500 pickup for a new, at least to me, 2013 Chevy 3500 HD. This may not seem like much, but for me it is insuring that I will get to go back to Alaska and have other adventures in my Four Wheel Camper.
One of the pictures shows my overloaded 1997 Chevy 1500 pickup, and the second picture shows my under loaded 2013 Chevy 3500 HD. It is under loaded by almost 2,300 pounds. In late September I squeezed in a few days at the Overland Expo East, which was lots of fun.
Although the last couple of years have been slow on the truck camping front, I am looking forward to some great trips in my new, to me, truck. So maybe not the type of adventures that some of you have been on but, for me, it was exciting to get the new truck. Happy truck camping everyone.
Sylvie and Jake Mathis
Doing More and Spending Less in a Truck Camper
1994 Dodge Ram 2500
2004 NorthernLite 9.6Q
The camper has been the greatest guest room, and requested by many of our guests. We just completed our last regatta, with success I most say, and our last set of visiting friends for the year. The next people in the camper will be us! We will be using the camper while my aging parents will stay in our house.
Jake and I are slowly finishing our visiting quarter, between races and classes. Soon we will be traveling again. We have winter trips planned, a spring visit to Canada by way of Pennsylvania. And I can’t forget, going to the rally in Colorado Springs at the end of July. Be good and be safe, because, life is good.
David and Nancy Carvalho
Empty Nest Alaskan Quest
2006 Dodge Ram 3500
We went to Florida, Virginia, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and several areas around the Northeast. The Outer Banks was our favorite place. We just diverted at the last minute on the way to Florida, because we could. My advice is to go off season. We also went redneck camping to the White Mountains while my work vehicle was being fixed with the camper in tow.
Richard Raymond and Celine Allen
Torklift Treasure Hunt Winners
Northstar Arrow U
We have not done much since June. We bought a new house near Ottawa. All the summer was traveling back and forth from one house to the other moving stuff. So, not a very exciting summer.
Except for our annual jamboree in October, we did not use the camper many times. This winter we will leave for Florida in January, towing our enclosed trailer behind the camper with our BMW Z3 inside. Yes we have a Torklift SuperHitch and a four feet extension bar, which is the safest way to tow. Hope to see you down south next winter!
The Overland Fuso Truck Camper
2005 Mitsubishi Fuso FG140
2007 Hallmark Ute
We were limited to weekend trips to the Oregon Coast and to some music festivals in the area. One notable trip this summer was to take our three and five year old nephews camping for the first time. They had fun on the beach playing in the sand and climbing nearby trees. I am still cleaning sand out of the camper. I think they are hooked on camping. An update on the truck – the parts finally arrived from Australia to upgrade the suspension. New parabolic springs, softer and smaller bump stops, and adjustable shocks resulted in about 2.5″ of lift and a huge improvement in the ride. This also allows the suspension to flex quite a bit more which will improve off-road handling.
Truck Camping Through Europe
2006 Nissan Frontier/Navara 2.5 TDI
2001 TrendUp camper, full composite
We used our rig for two main trips. One was to southern France including Verdon Canyon (largest canyon in Europe), Provence, Cote d’Azur with St. Tropez, Nice, and San Remo. The other trip was to see the very spectacular sites in Bavaria.
Absolutely spectacular was the visit of the Verdon Canyon. Of course it is not as large as the Grand Canyon. It’s more like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado. Very steep!
Bavaria is so beautiful and worth more than one visit. The good beer is well known as well as the delicious meals. This year was the first time we had an opportunity to use our new TrendUp camper after the sale at the end of last year of our beloved rig, a Dodge Ram and Adventurer 810WS. The rig has advantages like driving on our small European roads and tracks. Very cozy!
Jerry and Judy Funk
Full-Time With The Funks
2012 Chevy 3500
2011 Lance 1181
We started with the second Texas Truck Camper Rally in Kerrville, Texas in April. After that we headed to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to get Judy’s driver license renewed. A few days visiting friends in Minnesota was next. Most of June and July was spent in Northern Illinois camp hosting at Chain O’Lakes State Park near all of our adult kids and grandkids. This was our sixth enjoyable year of volunteering there. In early August we traveled to Indiana, where we left our camper at Judy’s sister’s house.
From there we flew to Europe where we had rented a small Class C camper for nine weeks. We traveled with friends who own and lead European Motorhome Tours. Since we are almost full-time in our truck camper, this was the first time we traveled in anything else in several years.
It is now mid-November, and we have just finished volunteering at the annual Native Rhythms Music Festival in Melborne, Florida. The Native Rhythms Festival is a three-day free festival featuring non-stop top entertainment from around the country. These are award winning musicians, primarily playing the Native American flute, but also with background guitar, drum, harp, and sometimes other instruments.
There are all ranges of flutes for sale with many free lessons and workshops and private lessons given by many top, award-winning professionals. This was our second year there and we arrived one day early to help set up for the event. We set up lighting, tents, teepees, helped vendors, and worked with the festival committee in the main tent.
Wickham Park in Melborne, Florida is a beautiful, large county park. They have a very nice campground right next to the festival grounds. The festival is totally free, but they appreciate any donations. Most workshops are excellent and most are free. There is music at the bandshell from 9:00AM to 10:00PM for three days. All are excellent performers, including PBS specials. They give very good advice on buying, maintaining and playing the flute. Here’s a link to the festival website: www.nativerhythmsfestival.com
We have been almost full-time in Lance truck campers since early 2007, and still have lots of places to get to. The list is endless and truck campers can go almost anywhere within reason.
The Thirst To Wander
2006 GMC 2500 HD
2005 Northern Lite 8-11 Q
In 2014, I did a number of weekend trips, and took three bigger trips. Last February I drove from my home in Massachusetts to Jacksonville, Florida, camping along the way in Northern Virginia (where campgrounds started to be open year-round), and North and South Carolina. My wife flew into Jacksonville and we drove west along the coast camping in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi along the Gulf. We finally ended up in Louisiana. On the way back north during the first week of March, my dog, Piton, and I had a memorable drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel in freezing rain and light snow.
In June, I drove south to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and picked up my old college roommate. We crossed the Chesapeake, turned south, and picked up I-40 in North Carolina. We drove west to Arizona, which, as an aside, was the 48th state my dog has been in. From there we drove back to Colorado and my roommate flew out of Denver the day my wife flew in.
We turned north after visiting friends in Boulder, rock climbed in Wyoming, and ended up camping and climbing for a week in the Silent City of Rocks in Idaho.
Somehow, no matter where I roam in this country, I seem to end up in the Silent City of Rocks (to climbers simply known as The City) in Idaho. The camping is off-the-grid. The rock climbing is very special, as is the environment. You camp in the high desert of the Great Basin. During the day there is a wild beauty to the place. At night you are so far from competing lights that the Milky Way looks like a road of light across the sky.
The City campsites have no electricity or water, and there’s no dump station. There is a dump station at a nearby state park. Before going, you need to make sure you are fine with being self-contained. There are official campsites, but they can fill up on weekends. Making a reservation is a good idea.
My wife, Nancy, flew home from Salt Lake City and my dog and I spent time visiting friends in Montana before heading back to New England.
In late October my wife, our dog, and I spent a week in North Carolina camping on the Outer Banks. It’s a fabulous place to be, and a great time to be there.
This summer I traveled with good friends who have a Lance truck camper. They were in an accident that could have been very serious. Fortunately, they were lucky. It was a reminder to me that, although there are great days out there, you need to be alert when you drive as things can go bad very, very quickly.
What I find most remarkable is the change I undergo after living for weeks on the road. Life seems to slow down and I find a lot of joy every day. Perhaps that is why I keep coming back to the road.
Eating Up The Road
2007 Toyota Tundra
We still have our camper, but this year we bought a fishing resort in Montana so we haven’t had much time to use it! I miss being on the road, for sure, but this is kind of nice, too. Since I know Truck Camper Magazine readers love adventure, you might want to load your camper this summer and come visit us at Elk Lake Resort. We don’t have camping at the resort, but we do cater to those dry camping around us with ice, showers, lunch, dinner with reservations, boat launching, bar, etc. We are twenty-five miles down a dirt road and off-the-grid, relatively speaking. It would be great to share our beautiful, hidden, largely unknown area with campers who are like-minded.
Minus 15 And Truck Camping
2011 Ford F350
2010 Northern Lite 8’11”
Most of our camping was was more about spending time with kids and grandkids and socializing with friends than major trips. But we did travel up the Sunshine Coast by road and ferry, and spent several weeks in the British Columbia Kootenays and Rockies, visiting national parks. We did some spectacular hikes up steep gorges with cantilevered walkways, soaked in hot springs (both natural and civilized) and watched a single train going into, out of, and in front of a single tunnel all at once (spiral tunnels).
When the sun is shining, Banff and Lake Louise areas are spectacular. But if it’s raining, it’s really raining. And it’s busy with tourists all the time. Other parks, Like Glacier, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke and Yoho were quieter, and, even in the misty rain, evoked a sense of timelessness and raw beauty. One of the nice things about Canadian national parks is that you can take your dog on trails. But you do need to watch for bears!
We did start geocaching, mainly as a fun way to get the little ones out exploring. It turns out geocaching is a great way to get a bunch of retirees out exploring too!
One Unforgettable Family Adventure
2006 Chevy Silverado
2013 Eagle Cap 850
We used the truck camper quite a bit this year. We pretty much stuck to the Northeast. There was no cross-country trip this year, but we did do a lot of camping including two weeks at the beach.
The big trip was Acadia National Park and eastern Maine into Canada. It was a great trip with lots of hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and lobster eating. Friends came with us in their VW van. It was fun!
Acadia National Park was great. I would advise everyone get out and see as many national parks as possible. They are all unique and real treasures for our country. We did some boondocking way out in the deep woods of Maine. We were pretty far out. We saw some bear scat while hiking the area, but did not get to see the bear.
We continue to enjoy traveling in our truck camper. For those who are considering one, do it now! Life is short and you never know what next year will bring. Safe travels to all!
Truck Camper Helps Tornado Victims
2006 Dodge 3500
2011 Northern Lite 8-11
Early in year we went to the mountains in eastern Tennessee and did some trout fishing. Then, I spent a month in Mayflower, Arkansas feeding folks who were impacted by the tornado.
After that we went to Texas for our first wedding of a grandchild. And then we headed straight for northwest New Mexico for trout fishing, and Colorado to trout fish more. We spent a couple of months on this trip sightseeing and fishing. Since returning we have started assisting some folks who are terminal and in need of help. We also take care of two crazy teenage granddaughters.
Last year at this time we had been on five disasters. But this year has been very quiet and that is so good.
Because we did not have many mission trips for disasters, we were able to spend the majority of our time enjoying the fruits of our labor. Sandra and I had a many special moments, especially where we were able to take long walks, sit by camp fires, enjoy the sound of the river at night with our windows open, seeing beautiful wildlife, and holding hands and talking 24/7 about every topic you could think of.
It is great to not have a television or internet on trips like this. At this rate we might make it another 53 years. Having good health that our God has blessed us with and an awesome country to explore and a truck camper to do it in is the best.
My favorite places we visited this year would be in this order; my grandson’s wedding and spending time with family, fishing the San Juan river and catching over fifty trout one day, fishing the Taylor River in Colorado and the Little Red in Arkansas, and camping near home on the Caney Fork River at COE campground below Center Hill Dam. The trout fishing there is awesome. Now my favorites were not my wife’s. Hers would be shopping in Santa Fe, Silverton, Durango, Dallas, etc.
There is a great state park near San Juan River which is excellent and, if you are wanting to visit the Taylor River area below Taylor Lake, there are at least five national forrest campgrounds nearby. If you’re fishing the Little Red in Arkansas, the campground to stay at is JFK COE campground.
I was in the emergency room in Durango, Colorado and Heber Springs, Arkansas all from some crazy thing I did fishing. Last year it was my wife who kept getting hurt while we were doing our mission work. This getting older thing has its drawbacks.
I decided to take our two granddaughters to Gatlingburg, Tennessee for a week. You have to realize I have short bed camper with a wet bath and I am 6’4 and my two granddaughters are 13 and 14 and they both are pushing 6′ tall. I spent a lot of time outside reading.
I feel very blessed to have a truck and camper which we can use to assist folks who have suffered due to weather or fires. I am also able to use my camper to visit this awesome country we have, and to meet some wonderful new friends and worship with so many along the way.
Todd and Shay Salat
Alaska, Auroras, Bear and Jam
The auroras seen here erupting over the interior of Alaska, just northeast of Fairbanks, occurred at a half past midnight on November 5th, 2014. It was around 0° Fahrenheit, but a campfire and my trusty old 1994 Starcraft pop-up camper kept me alive and warm.
I have to admit, the past eighteen years of Alaska winter truck camping has taken its toll on the vinyl windows of my pop-up camper. If it weren’t for duct tape, there would be a wicked breeze blowing through the camper. My wife says it’s time to start thinking about putting this one out to pasture and looking for a newer model. Hmmm…
A Truck Camping Mission of Love
2014 Toyota Tundra
2014 Northstar Liberty
I traveled up and down the East Coast from Maine to Georgia and also went inland to the Chicago area. In total I put over 25,000 miles on the truck in one year, most of which with the camper on.
My wife and I were able to go to Assateague Island National Seashore for some vacation time while coming back from the National American Legion Convention this summer. We were able to relax and enjoy the horses, but also I was able to get some amazing bird pictures. The advice I have for Assateague is to stay on the ocean side not the bay side. The ocean breeze keeps the bugs down. We were not able to do the beach camping like so many truck camper people get to do. We used the campsites. No matter. The national seashore is a great place to visit.
I use my truck camper to travel and help veterans with issues. So being able to park and not worry about where to stay makes my life so much easier. I love being able to hit the road and visit with other truck campers as I travel. I have not had any wild or crazy stories that I can think of, but I have met some great people who have done a lot to help other veterans and spread the word about service dogs and all they do for veterans.
Who would have known a few years ago that starting out with a small CampLite truck camper that I would have traveled so many miles and met so many great people? This is a great community and I look forward to many more miles and states over the next few years.
Bonnie and Mike Pascucci
Torklift Treasure Hunt Winners
2011 Chevy K3500
2012 Adventurer 86FB
Since last summer, we took a long weekend at Thanksgiving to the Spa at White Sulphur Springs. They have two camp spots with power, but we just got a $10 dry camping spot on the lawn.
Annually, we go to Yellowstone National Park in March, the shoulder season. More and more people are discovering the quiet time. Mammoth is the only campground open. Our friend had an attack of gout so, instead of skiing or hiking, we took a drive to Cook City.
In April, we headed to Seattle to see our first born, still in college. Driving a dually in the University District is something we won’t repeat. Avis here we come! The first night we paid $10 to park next to her apartment and amazingly slept like babies in our camper down the alley from people sleeping in doorways.
From there we took the ferry to Olympic National Park. With a truck camper, we got the last ocean view site. It was too small for all the trailers and big motorhomes. It was fantastic.
There wasn’t a Passport in Time Project this year that fit our schedule, so we helped with some trail work at Lewis and Clark Caverns. It was Montana State Parks 75th birthday so we stayed for a wonderful outdoor piano concert. After bragging about it to friends, we loaded campers and took off for Makoshika State Park for a repeat performance in their outdoor badlands amphitheater three weeks later.
When the heat came on, we headed to Doug and Tammie’s Mid-West Rally in Amana, Iowa. It was new country for us, and new heat. Lots of new country, even more heat. It was a great rally, but the weather at Lake Superior on the way home was much more to our liking.
October was our anniversary camping trip in Yellowstone National Park. It rained on and off the whole trip. Grey, damp and having to look down to keep your face dry lets you see a whole different dimension of Yellowstone.
I had always dreamt of being a campground host when I retired and frequently searched the volunteer.gov website. Finally, my schedule allowed for the possibility. I narrowed my search to northern California and Oregon and accepted a half season position at my first choice, Theilsen View CG at Diamond Lake, Oregon.
A couple of weeks later, our son asked to borrow our raft and we met him in Casper, Wyoming for a weekend of floating, fishing and camping on the Platte River. My prejudices were dashed as we found the river absolutely beautiful.
We’re spending the winter planning for the NATCOA birthday rally in July 2015. Hope to see you there!
Hank and Charlotte Huizenga
From Alaska to the Lower Forty-Eight
2005 Silverado 2500HD
2004 Arctic Fox 860
We loaded the camper on the truck this spring when we returned to Alaska. However, we had company that wanted to go four-wheeling with us, so we let them use the truck and camper and we went with our fifth wheel. Watching every one else get to use our camper has been fun.
During hunting season, our hunting buddy used the truck camper and we used the fifth wheel again. He decided he wanted to buy our truck and camper, so we agreed to sell it, however he had another truck to sell first, so we still own it. And yes, Hank got his caribou! It is always our favorite trip when we go on the Denali Highway, a road through the wilderness that we hunt and fish from. If you go there and drive a diesel, bring fuel. There is gasoline on the road in a couple of places, but no diesel.
Fuel Cells For Truck Campers
2008 Ford F-450
This year we went back to Alaska, following up on a few of the touristy places that we missed on our first visit in 2009, as well as some more obscure locations. We only had three weeks in-state so we didn’t bring a canoe, just hiking boots and cameras.
Our first adventure was driving up the Dalton Highway, aka the Haul Road. Dirt Road Truckers be us. It was dry on the way up, other than construction sites where they watered to minimize dust. It rained hard on the first day heading back.
When we got to Prudhoe Bay, we did the bus tour out to the Arctic ocean and took our mandatory barefoot-on-Arctic-ocean-ice photos.
The mud in Atigun Pass on the return was impressive. The underside of the truck accumulated a good three to four inches, enough to break and drop the rear wheel well liners of the truck onto the rear tires and necessitate a bit of roadside surgery with a utility knife. We power-skidded/steered up and down in four-wheel drive mode since the tire treads were fully impacted. It took $20 in quarters at a Fairbanks car wash to get enough mud off to continue the trip safely.
We had some great hiking in Hatcher pass, a State recreation area about sixty miles north of Anchorage. We also saw a parasailing competition, kids swimming in an ice-filled lake, and a fellow skiing down a snow-filled mountain gully after hiking several hundred feet up a rock scree field in ski boots; a tough and young crowd.
We continued south to Homer and took a ferry across the bay to Seldovia for some more hiking and fantastic seafood. For some years now, the town (200 people or so) has sponsored an annual invitational chainsaw carving contest. The winning sculptures are distributed around town. It’s some impressive work wherever you look.
If Alaska is on your bucket list, pack a good camera (we averaged four miles per picture overall between the two trips – 7,000 photos total), hiking boots, bug shirts/Deet, canoe/kayaks, and a healthy sense of adventure. Make a sign to put up at the Watson Lake, Yukon at the signpost forest and join the 70,000 others who have done so since 1944.
Wildlife is everywhere, including bears, up close and personal. It’s tough to go more than a few miles before the view though the windshield makes you want to stop to take a picture of something.
A sturdy truck camper is absolutely the best way to get outback and see the real state. Trailers and fifth wheels need not apply, especially if you want to take advantage of the ferry system to see the southeast part of the state. Ferries charge extra by the foot above twenty-one feet overall. If you do take a ferry, plan ahead for refrigeration as any propane will be turned off for the ride.
Truck Camping With The Ancients
1994 Ford F250
Looking for our next camper
Our truck and Alaskan Camper were based in Utah for the past two years. We have really enjoyed traveling in Utah and surrounding states. However, big events in the lives our family members put truck camping on temporary hold. A wedding, buying and selling houses, major geographic moves, and thirty weeks of grand parenting including two Grandma camps on the lake, took all our time.
We sold the Alaskan Camper and are beginning the search for a new camper. We are going to buy a small hard wall camper especially prepared for cold weather camping. We will keep you informed. Truck camper Magazine is a valuable resource. I read every issue. The Buyers Guide is very helpful.
Doug, Tammie, and Katie Baughman
Get A Camper, Start A Rally, and Go
2008 Ford F350
2013 Northstar 8.5 Arrow
Through hosting rallies for the Mid-West Truck Campers, we have met so many people from all over the United States and Canada. The personal friendships and wonderful times spent with the truck camping community has helped us to realize that life is short and it’s the people and friendships you make that are important. For this reason, we are thankful to our truck camper for opening this new to door to us.
We were not able to travel much this year, but we did enjoy a few outings. We organized the Mid-West Truck Camper Rally in July at Amana Colonies in Amana, Iowa. We had a wonderful time with a total of thirty-six rigs showing up this year. We chartered a bus, and took an hour ride north to the Northstar Factory. Rex Willett, President of Northstar, gave us a wonderful tour of his facilities and truck campers, and fed everyone a wonderful fried chicken meal.
Back at the RV park, we had a movie night with popcorn, and s’mores around the campfire. Our group took a guided tour of some of the great business at the Amana Colonies, had a wool spinning/fabric seminar class, held a raffle, and enjoyed potluck suppers. So many friendships were made.
On our second outing, we went to Missouri and stayed at Treasure Lake RV Resort with friends for a month. Treasure Lake RV Resort is a private campground located in Branson, Missouri. We recommend the campground, and all it offers. If you are ever in Branson, stop in the office and ask for a tour.
One thing that happened this summer was that Doug learned how to wood carve. He took a couple of classes from a professional that came to the RV Park for a seminar. We will include a photo of a female Indian face, not quite finished yet. It’s Doug’s second attempt at wood carving.
We also took a ride on the Ducks in Branson. Ducks are an amphibious military vehicle of the World War II era. We took a guided tour on the Ducks thru the streets of Branson, ending up in Lake Table Rock for a twenty minute ride on the water. Our captain did an awesome salute to our military, a must see if you visit Branson. We also took a tour of Table Rock Dam Museum, the trout fish hatchery, a chuck wagon cowboy supper, and an outdoor theatrical play at Shepard of the Hills. We had a grand time. We encourage all to visit the town and all it offers.
Our third outing for 2014 will be to attend the 2014 Mid-West Truck Campers and Friends Christmas party in Branson, Missouri the first week of December. We are looking forward to seeing good old friends and enjoying a little Christmas cheer.
We were looking for some volunteers to help us with all aspects of our truck camper events that we host. Since we volunteer to host all of the truck camper events, it has gotten to be a lot of work. Specifically, we were looking for help with the manual labor during the events, and for help in the decision making and brain storming of ideas.
We have decided to call ourselves the Mid-West Truck Campers and Friends to include those with a different type of camping rig. We felt it would be best to include other types of rigs. Our farming situation changed some this year and our camping needs changed too. As a family, we needed more room, so now have a fifth wheel.
Our next great big adventure will be the 2015 Mid-West Truck Campers and Friends Rally in Eureka Springs, Arkansas on July 13-17th, 2015. You can check out details of that Rally and the other Events we plan at our webpage: www.midwesttruckcampers.wordpress.com.