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Adventure Stories

From Bear to Plan B

TCM: How is your truck camper beneficial for mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, surfing, and skiing?

Brian: Nothing beats backpacking when it comes to access.  With our camper we can reach 99% of places that we would want to access and do so with comforts such as refrigerated food, heat, and a shower to rinse off the dirt.  The camper is so amazing.  I put most of my gear on the roof.  I can stand on the camper with it popped up. When we need to get our toys down, I climb up on the roof and send the gear down to my wife.  The camper is our base camp for our hobbies, a place to eat, sleep, and recharge.

Sylvan-Lake-eagle-co

Above: Sylvan Lake, Eagle, Colorado

TCM: Where have been some of the most amazing places that you have gone with your Phoenix camper?

Brian: Anywhere in the mountains of Colorado and the mountain west is awesome.  When we moved here, we bought a book that tells us about really cool places to go.  We’ve got it all marked up now.  It’s got the best organized campground sites.  It’s the 3rd edition of Colorado Campgrounds, The 100 Best and all the Rest by Gil Folsom.  It’s a must.  It’s thorough and it’s got pictures.  It tells you where to go off the beaten path and whether or not to make a reservation.  Other than that, we tend to head in a direction and see what happens.

Growing up in Illinois and then working on the 52nd floor of a high rise building in Chicago, I lived in a fishbowl during my 20s.  It took one business trip to the mountains to wake up this kid that was inside of me.  We were married and moved within a year.  I love it here in Colorado because I can hop in the car and drive to whatever we going to do for the weekend.  Living here and going out in the camper, I find myself lost in a good way.  We’ll see pristine rivers and creeks, go on precarious roads with our four wheel drive vehicle, and then we’ll find ourselves near an alpine river where we can set up camp.

There is so much national forest and BLM land around here.  West of continental divide there are big pockets of BLM land where you can boondock anywhere, if you’re just wanting to hang out.  Virtually all of the national forest lands have non-designated camping areas, pull offs and nooks to hang out at for a weekend.  With the camper, we leave virtually no footprint other than the tire treads on the dirt.

If you like kayaking, there are so many great rivers such as the Arkansas, Colorado, Crystal, Elk and Yampa Rivers not to mention the hundreds of excellent Class IV and V creek runs.  Whitewater of the Southern Rockies by Stafford and McCutchen is the Bible for kayaking in Colorado and the surrounding states.  It’s 636 pages worth of adventure right out our door.

Maroon-Bells

Above: Maroon Bells, Colorado

The Crested Butte area is not off the beaten path, and it’s a beautiful area.  On Kebler Pass, there is a spectacular alpine lake that’s accessible by camper.  Steamboat Springs near the Elk River has some nice state parks.

For those spring and fall desert trips, a campground I recommend is Saddlehorn at the Colorado National Monument.  That’s out by Fruita, Colorado.  It’s probably five miles off the highway and it’s $15 a night.  The campground is 2,000 feet above the valley and it just drops off.  There’s a cliff with a 500 foot drop at end of the campsites.  Who would have thought to put a campground there?  I bet 99.99% of population wouldn’t know it was there.  Just go south from highway, past the first state campground and then drive towards the rocks.  Go in the Spring and late Fall.  It’s just an awesome place to hang out, with short hikes from the campground.  There’s also a state park right off highway, but that’s jammed with people.  You’ve just got to drive down the road.

Aberle-laptop

TCM: I saw you with a laptop in one of your photos.  Do you work from your rig while you travel?

Brian: As a family, our master plan has been to find a way to incorporate our work lives into our active lives and not the other way around.  My wife works year round at a ski resort so she can kind of have her cake and eat it too.  It’s a ambitious goal but we’ve made some significant strides.  When I go to California, to make it worth while, I’m going to stay for awhile.  With the camper, I just take my laptop, portable printer and scanner with me.  I’ll surf for four hours and then I can run my whole business for the remainder of the day from the camper.  Long term if my wife chooses to work during the winter, we would enjoy taking off for a month or so to explore.

Otis-the-dog

TCM: How does your dog, Otis, enjoy the camper?

Brian: He likes the camper and it works out great!  The second we pop-up the camper, Otis hops onto the lower level that happens to be both a twin bed and our dining table area, and then hops up on the queen size bed above the cab of the truck.  The extended cabover design allows the bed to be ready anytime without any need for set up.  We have all these windows on the soft wall of the camper.  Otis will sit up on the bed on his perch and scan the area.  He goes pretty much everywhere with us.

TCM: Your camper is called “Plan B”.  What does it mean?

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