As the saying goes, life is a journey. Unfortunately, too many of us experience our life journey as a drive to work and a couple weeks of vacation. Not Skip Bosley and his wife Linda. From a VW Bus, to a forty-foot sail boat, to a truck camper; they have truly lived life as a journey. Even now, they’re charting a new course and planning to let the trip take them where it may. We can all learn a lot from a couple like the Bosleys. With that in mind, here’s our interview with Skip.
TCM: How did you get into traveling?
Skip: Years ago we bought a VW camper bus and traveled. It was very slow. If you could slipstream behind a truck, you could hit 60 to 70 mph. Then you’d fall out and slow back to 55 mph. We wanted to make a trip through Central and South America and ended up buying a forty-one foot sailboat. We lived on that boat for twenty-three years and literally wore the boat out. Then in the early 90’s we moved back for five to six years to take care of my wife’s parents. After they passed away, we realized that our nimbleness was such that we couldn’t go sailing again. Our daughter and her husband had bought an Airstream and restored it. But I didn’t want to deal with the hitching and unhitching and dragging the trailer around. We used to take the VW to Assateague and knew we wanted to have four wheel-drive and be self-contained.
TCM: Is that when you bought your Lance 1121 camper?
Skip: Yes. The first thing we did was to buy a Ford F350 single-rear-wheel diesel and put 19.5” Rickson wheels and tires on. Then we bought a Lance 1121 from Outdoor Express. That was in 2003. For our first trip, we drove cross-country and went to Coyote, Wyoming. Every man in Coyote limps from riding in the rodeo. From there we went to Yellowstone and visited an old friend in Washington State.
TCM: Where did you go when you lived on the sailboat?
Skip: We went to South America, Venezuela, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. We spent a lot of time in the southern Bahamas Exuma Keys. It’s a chain of islands forty miles south east of Nassau stretching three to four hundred miles towards Cuba. It’s very remote and takes skill to get there. There are still fish in the water and you can live off your spear. You can eat lobster and conch every day. We raised three kinds on the boat. We taught them with the Calvert School System. The storms were nothing compared to teaching. It was really hard to stay disciplined.
TCM: What do you like to do when you go truck camping?
Skip: Linda and I like to wander around. We’re getting ready to go to the Canadian Maritimes. We have a sailing friend north of Montreal that we’ll visit and then we’ll go to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Then we’ll head west and go to Glacier National Park. We have a grandson who will fly in for part of the trip. Then we’ll turn south into Utah and visit another friend near Salt Lake. He’s going to give us a primer on the parks in Utah. After that we’ll head down to Arizona to see a friend of Linda’s. We’ll be taking back roads as much as possible. Our plan is no plan. We’ll let the trip take us where it wants to. We have the money and time that we need. And one or two of the grandchildren will fly out and spend time with us.
TCM: Tell us about your trip to Alaska.
Skip: I had dreamed of seeing Alaska since I was a boy scout. We took an Alaskan Ferry for five nights and six days. We got off at Sitka and Juneau and spent a few days fishing and poking around. We really enjoyed the Native American lectures in the forward observation lounge and meeting all the other people. It really wasn’t that expensive, $2,200 for us and our camper. And we had the best room on the boat. Probably $700 to $800 of the $2,200 was the room. Most people slept in a big cabin on chaise lounges. The food was superb and fresh and served cafeteria style. They even had cooking facilities so you could prepare your own food. My wife’s cousin is the head of the fish and game department for all of eastern Alaska. She has hundreds of employees and five or six big parks.
We spent a few days with her before driving to Anchorage. We then picked up our grandson and drove up to Denali for three to four days. That was just spectacular. We saw every kind on game. Then we went to the Kenai Peninsula and went fishing in the streams and lakes. We loved the boat so much that we boarded in Steward and went across the gulf and stopped to fish Copper River, which is supposed to be the greatest river for salmon fishing. Only Indians are allowed to fish in Copper River so an Indian guide showed me how to fly fish. That was the best fishing day of my life. Then we drove back the way we came in.
TCM: Did you find your truck camper to be a good choice for Alaska?
Skip: Yes. In Alaska, they don’t allow big RVs into many of the towns. They have a sign that says, “RVs Turn Here” and it takes you to a campground. There’s just no place to park diesel pushing busses. But they never bothered us. We’re considered a pickup with a load. We were able to get in and out of parking lots and campgrounds. Many class A’s can’t make the turns into the parks and had to stay in commercial campgrounds. We stayed next to magnificent streams in the wonderful Federal campgrounds for $5 a night.
TCM: Where else do you like to go with your truck camper?
Skip: The past two winters we’ve gone down to the Florida Keys and taken our granddaughter to Disney World’s World of Wilderness Campground. It’s a very well run, comfortable, and private campground. And you can rent a golf cart to get access to the whole park. We really love Epcot. They have great restaurants and each country is represented.
On the Keys we go to a little old resort I’m not going to mention. They have five to six cabins and for a few bucks they let us stay on the water. That’s our base of operations as we travel the Keys. We’ll hang out in the Keys and fish for two months. With a truck camper you can spend the night at the bridge fishing areas. We look like a fishing rig and no one ever bothers us. There are a lot of things to do in the Keys.
TCM: Tell us how you got involved with truck camping at Assateague?
Skip: Actually, Linda is the principal mover on Assateague because she loves the beach. There’s a designated area called the bullpen, which is the only place where you can sleep. You can stay out on the beach all night if you’re fishing. The rangers will drive by all night to make sure you have a fishing rod out. You also have to have four wheel-drive and be fully self-contained.
The vast majority of people have truck campers of every description. What limits your stay is the size of your waste tanks. We keep a water bladder on the roof with an extra 40 gallons for a total of 80 to 90 gallons of water. I also have a blue portable tank for the waste. We’ve spent up to two weeks on the beach without going back. It’s like going back 100 years in time. Basically, there’s nobody there but wild ponies, whales, dolphins, and seagulls. We get cell phone use and have access to the internet. I call it remotely close.
TCM: You go on Assateague with 19.5” Ricksons?
Skip: I was the one who discovered that you could not use them on the beach. The first time I aired down the Ricksons, I heard a funny thing and the right rear wheel was off. I jacked up the truck, lined the tire up on the rim, made three to four quick strokes on a bicycle pump, and it caught. It’s a miracle I got off the beach.
On the way back to Baltimore, the right rear blew out at 55 mph on the Baltimore beltway. I knew that you’re not supposed to brake, but rather accelerate to straighten the truck out. I pulled into the center of the highway and called Dan at Rickson. He was there in twenty minutes and brought a 19.5” wheel and tire and we went on our merry way. I had broken a steel sidewall on the beach. Another guy named Bluefish Gary uses 19.5s on the beach but his rig is much lighter than ours.
TCM: What tires do you use on Assateague now?
Skip: I’m using Nitto Sand Grapplers. They’re designed for beach use, but they’re not a good tire for highway driving. We keep them with a tire dealer in Berlin, Maryland. They put on the Nittos and hold my 19.5s until we swap them back. It’s the ideal way to go. We still have our Rickson 19.5s. After 30,000 miles, they still look like new.
TCM: Tell us about your hurricane encounter on Assateague.
Skip: We had an experience in Assateague last year where we had camped in the state park in the H loop. It’s the only part of the park with electricity. Hurricane Ernesto was off shore so we left the park and drove up to Pocomoke River.
In the campground the wind was really picking up and tree branches were falling on the rig. I said, “Let’s get out of here and go back to Assateague.” On the bridge the wind was blowing to about 60 mph. When we pulled into the park, there was a real nice pop-up all set-up. Then a car pulled up in front of the pop-up and they drove away. Later, the pop-up completely disintegrated. The canvas blew out and their clothes and things were all over the campground. At about 3am the wind was blowing at 70 to 80 mph.
We brought the slide-out in because of concerns about blowing sand. The next morning the people in the campground all got through it. The guy with the pop-up was mad as a hornet and blamed the park staff for not telling him that his camper would blow to bits. We wouldn’t do that again. One thing I’ve learned is that hurricanes don’t listen to weather forecasts.
Skip and Linda Bosley’s Truck Camper Rig
Truck: 2004 Ford F-350, crew cab, single rear wheel, long bed, 4×4, diesel
Camper: 2005 Lance 1121
Tie-downs and Turnbuckles: Happijac
Suspension Enhancements: Ranchos, Air Bags, Torklift Bumpstops
Gear: 19.5″ “H” Load rated Wheels and Tires (Hgwy], 16″ Nitto Dune Grapplers (Beach), 5″ SS hi flow exhaust system