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TCM STARS 2011 Part 1

I had a nasty climbing fall in January which has slowed the pace for a while but hope to get back to exploring soon.

Jerry and Reta Caldwell
Jerry and Reta Caldwell: Leaving the Class A Behind

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We started our truck camping this year with a trip to south Florida.  We went as far south as Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys with most of our time spent in the Everglades.

Our main trip this year was from Tennessee to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then on to the North Shore of Lake Superior north of Duluth, Minnesota.  As I write this, we are on that trip and currently at Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor, Michigan on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

I try to make an improvement each year in our truck camper or truck.  This year I added the See Level tank monitor to the truck camper.  It has been a great improvement.  It tells in the levels in the tanks within three percent.  Thanks go to Phil Patterson, another truck camper and TCM reader, for telling me about the See Level.

On this trip, we have had several people show interest in our truck camper.  This continues to amaze me.  We have had several types of RVs over the years and there was no interest shown in them.  This has always been a very positive experience and sometimes allows creating a long-term friendship with the people inquiring.  It also allows me to share the word about Truck Camper Magazine.

Matt Rivard
Matt Rivard: The Redneck Express

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2011 has been a fairly empty year for the poor Redneck Express and I.  While I’ve had six months of free time, I haven’t had enough income to do much traveling with. 

So far, our only journey together this year was participating in the annual Hoodstock Jamboree in Hood River, Oregon with the Northwest Campers.  Ironically, this was also the very last time the Express traveled as a single rear wheeled truck.  This was my first time joining the Northwest Campers for their annual event, and ironically, it was also the first year of horrible weather for the event.  Mudstock Jamboree would have been a more apt name. 

Since the rally, I’ve been working on and off on swapping in the donor motorhome axle, an old Spicer 70B, which is converting my truck into a happy dually one-ton.  The body work is finally done, though I still have some extra clearance lights to install and I have to track down a set of Yosemite Sam “Back Off!” mudflaps to complete the Redneck image. 

Hopefully, work will come around in time for us to do the Fall Jamboree with Northwest Campers and the Fall Colors Rally with NATCOA.  The hitch-itch is getting really bad!

Randy and LaWana Smith
Randy and LaWana Smith: Northstar On a Roll

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We continue to camp locally at the Cottonwoods near Navajo State Park here in the Four Corners area as well as in West Delores campground in Colorado in the colder months.  We haven’t felt as free this year to travel back east to New York where two of our daughters live, as we have in the past, with the rise in gas prices.

The highlight for us this year was the celebration of our fortieth wedding anniversary with all nine of our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren.  It had been seventeen years since we were together with all nine of them at the same time.  The kids sponsored a family camp out at Balsam Campground near Springville, Utah.  We were the first ones there and it was raining when Randy and I set up camp, but soon became dry for the five days we were there.  Our children either drove or flew into Salt Lake City.  They came from Washington, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Kansas, Texas, and New York.  They planned all the meals and entertainment.  We had our truck camper, a motorhome, about eight tents and occupied four sites.  We’ve camped as a family since the 1970s when we lived in Anchorage, Alaska and are happy to report that everyone still loves to do it.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our experiences.

Bonnie Belza
Bonnie Belza: BLM Wisdom As Good As Gold

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We haven’t done as much truck camping as I’d like; the cost of gas being a big factor.

Late last summer Mike used the truck camper to camp out in Stanton, Arizona while he was prospecting for gold in the area.  It’s over seventy-five miles from home so it was easier to camp out there during the week.

This year we took a long weekend to San Diego in May and stayed at the Yuma Proving Grounds on the way and the Admiral Baker Campground, an RV park for military and retired military in San Diego.  We rented a car for getting around to see the sites and didn’t have to take the truck off of the truck.  ABC is in the center of everything near the stadium and tramway and even has a golf course!

Our big adventure was removing a thirty year old Jacaranda tree in June that was invading the patio to make a nice space for the truck.

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