From the comfort of their Travel Lite pop-up truck camper, Anne and David Veres explore the freedom and possibilities of the open road, and make a living doing it.
Life has a way of putting us into stressful boxes full to the brim with endless work, obligations, and other seemingly impossible to escape urgent and stressful realities. Sometimes these boxes are both necessary and unavoidable, but it can make those of us who hunger for adventure and the open road a little crazy.
Enter into your consciousness the concept of a truck camper; go anywhere, camp anywhere, tow anything. The endless possibilities of the open road. An exciting life, out of the box, and within reach. Now add to that dream the idea of making a living, on the road.
If you’re going out of your mind just thinking about this, the following story may just push you over the edge. Yes, after reading the story of Anne and David Veres, you may finally tell your boss to shove it, buy a truck and camper, and hit the road. The Anne and David are an inspiration, and a delicious temptation to attempt the possible.
Above: Anne and David’s Travel Lite 875PSBR at Buffalo Pound campground near Beaver Mines Lake, Pincher Creek, Alberta
TCM: How did you get into truck camping?
Anne: In 1998 we had a camper van that we eventually outgrew. Dave had wanted to get a truck camper. He did the research online and found our Travel Lite camper. It was a good price because it was last year’s model.
After just being able to sleep our camperized van, and not being able to stand up inside it, the Travel Lite was really nice. With our Travel Lite, when it’s raining, cold, or there are too many bugs, we have a nice shelter that we can hang out in.
Above: Anne at Beaver Mines Lake, Alberta
TCM: How do you and your husband plan for trips?
Anne: We plan our trips together, even though our route is usually pretty easy as we stay on the major highways. I’ll look for neat places to stop for a picnic and to walk the dog. I organize the food and do most of the cooking. I have even made crepes with fresh fruit. We probably eat better on the road than at home as it becomes a main part of our day.
Dave and I are really partners in our traveling. It is our first year with the camper, I haven’t driven it yet. Dave and I have been together half our life. We’ve worked together and owned an art gallery together. We are with each other a lot and we love it. Our border collie, Sok is with us too. The three of us are really close. While we’re on the road, we brainstorm ideas about our business and I take notes and keep a journal.
Above: David and Anne at Oastler Lake, Ontario
TCM: We do that too. We’re always talking about TCM as we travel and writing ideas for future stories or how to make improvements. What do you do?
Anne: People always ask how we can afford being on the road. We do a mixture of things; we don’t have nine to five jobs. I am a certified hypnotherapist and handwriting expert. I also do some public speaking on how handwriting shows your personality traits.
Right now Dave is designing sports related accessories and products. We are shareholders and partners in a golf product and accessories company. We have an NHL license so we are able to logo our products with NHL hockey team logos. I work along with Dave with the administrative end of it. On our trip, we saw the Winnipeg Jets and the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have seen our products and will now be clients of ours. That business will provide us with some passive income from royalties on Dave’s product designs. Dave is also a working artist www.davidjveres.com. He’s been painting all of his life and on a full time basis for the last ten years and sells his art in Alberta art galleries.
With our creative entrepreneur lifestyle, we can go on the road for five weeks and run our business at the same time. That’s the way we can combine business and pleasure and our friends like to say that our work looks a lot like camping.
Above: Anne at Dogtooth Lake relaxing at the campground
TCM: Clearly you are kindred spirits. Why did you choose a pop-up truck camper?
Anne: A pop-up truck camper makes for a more fuel efficient rig. It’s also easier to take off-road, like when we go down old logging roads and the trees are really low. With our low profile camper we can get into some cool places.
The canoe is another reason we bought a pop-up camper. With the top down, it’s much easier to load our canoe on the roof of the camper. The canoe is a big part of our camping lifestyle.
We also like the pop-up camper because we can go through car washes and park in regular parking lots. It doesn’t restrict us when going under low bridges.
Our camper is a luxury. We were pretty happy with our camper van, but we had to move things around a lot. In the truck camper we still have to move things around some, but we have more room to physically move around and we have a much more comfortable bed. It’s wonderful to have a functional washroom, running water, and heat.
Above: Bow Valley in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada for their shakedown trip
TCM: You recently went out on a five week trip. Where did you go?
Anne: We actually went out once before our five week trip. We went to the Rocky Mountains here in Alberta. They’re only an hour away. We will do a lot more camping there as it’s so close and we love the area. It was early May, and we had beautiful sunny weather during the day. The second day we were in our camper it snowed during the night. We turned on the heat, and it was such a luxury.
Above: Dogtooth Lake, Kenora, Ontario
For our five week trip, it took a week to get to Toronto. We camped along the way until we got to Barrie, Ontario where my mom, sister, and family live. While we were there, Dave went to Toronto to do business with their hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. We also went to the Art Gallery of Ontario where they had the Pablo Picasso show. Dave is inspired by Picasso. I enjoyed it too. It was really worthwhile and inspirational to see something like that.
Above: Achray Campground, Algonquin Park, Ontario
It was really important to visit with my mom for a couple of weeks. She’s eighty-one years old. We took her camping for four days to Algonquin Park. It’s a famous Provincial Park in Canada and it’s gorgeous. It’s a huge wilderness that has campgrounds within it. There are hundreds of miles of trails and many lakes. There are spectacular places to canoe. We went in early June and there weren’t many people out camping yet so we enjoyed lakeside camping. It was quite outstanding.
We weren’t sure if my mom was going to be comfortable, but there was enough room. She slept on the dinette bed. We couldn’t have done that with our camper van. We would have had to set up a tent for her. It was nice to take her along for a few days; she was comfortable and really enjoyed herself.
Above: David at the National Gallery of Canada
Algonquin is not too far from Ottawa, so we went to the National Gallery of Canada and saw the Vincent Van Gogh show. We all really enjoyed it. Dave has a friend who works there and he brought us in for free and gave us a behind the scenes tour of the gallery. Jim showed us the archives, the art of the Group of Seven and other famous Canadian iconic artists, and showed us the silver collection. We also got to see how they conserve the art. It was really cool stuff.
While we were at the gallery, we parked on the street in downtown Ottawa. That was part of the appeal of the truck camper. Parking would have been a pain in the butt if we had a larger RV.
Above: Part of Anne and David’s five week trip included stops in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada
TCM: How do you mix work with fun on your trips?
Anne: A lot of our work, with the exception of Dave’s painting, is on the computer. My mom has internet at her house, so we were able to work. We can work anywhere really. We sit down at a picnic table at the campsite to work. We have a solar panel so we don’t need to get campsites with power. We have a 12-volt inverter and the computer is good for five hours once charged.
We like the non-electrical sites because they are less expensive and usually bigger and better. We can fit into the best camping spots the big guys can’t get into, and they usually have nicer view of the water or even lakeside. While we’re camping, Dave and I talk about our work a lot, but it’s not stressful for us.
Above: Beaver Mines, Alberta, Canada
Sometimes we stay at a campground for the night, enjoy the site, have happy hour, and play backgammon. If we’re there for a few days, and it’s nice enough, Dave will do a painting from the campsite or we’ll hike to a nearby scenic space and he’ll paint there. We will also paddle somewhere in our canoe, see something like a waterfall, and look for a place that we can pull over.
While Dave paints, I read, write in my journal, explore the area, take photos, and play with the dog. We bring a lunch with us while Dave’s out painting. Once we get back home he takes his painting to the gallery and sells it. People don’t think he works because it’s a fun thing for him to do. It is work, it’s fun, and work he loves and enjoys.
TCM: It sounds like a wonderful lifestyle. You sent in an interesting mod for the mod contest. Tell us about that modification.
Anne: Dave figured out how to put the racks on the roof for the canoe. He did the whole thing himself. It was quite a task as the length of the rack had to be redesigned.
Dave also bought an extendable ladder to climb up on the roof. Our extendable ladder is compact. It goes down to about two feet tall when it’s retracted and can extend up to sixteen feet.
One thing we like about this Travel Lite is that we do not have to take the canoe off to raise the roof. We can raise it up and down with canoe on it. We can also open the skylight on top with the canoe on the roof.
Above: Sok and Anne at Achray Lake
TCM: How does your border collie, Sok, like camping?
Anne: Sok goes everywhere we go, except for inside the galleries. She’s good in the truck, and has the back seat to herself. She just curls up and goes to sleep. Sok is a year and a half old and a good traveler.
At first she didn’t want to go up the camper steps, but now she’s fine. We had a dog bed on the floor of the camper for her, but she jumped up on the overcab bed and made herself comfortable in the corner. So, we got rid of the dog bed and now she sleeps in her corner on the bed.
At campgrounds we have a super long leash for Sok and she amuses herself looking at squirrels, rabbits, and other wildlife. She comes in the canoe with us and loves to chase and swim after sticks. We like camping as our vacation lifestyle because we’re quite attached to her, and with this lifestyle she can accompany us wherever we go.
Above: Cable Mountain view from the canoe at Beaver Mines
TCM: Now that you’ve had your shakedown cruise and a successful five-week trip out, what are your truck camping plans?
Anne: Our next trip is a three week trip to the west coast of Canada. We’ll drive our truck camper and camp along the way. We will be traveling through the city of Vancouver along the way. Dave will be meeting with the Vancouver Canucks regarding the golf products business. Our destination is a private island in the Pacific Ocean that a friend owns near Nanaimo, British Columbia and we will be visiting with some friends in Lake Cowichan and Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. We won’t be in our camper on the private island but will use it in Lake Cowichan and Qualicum Beach. The scenery is outstanding as you can imagine. We’ll see seals, sea lions, otters, and orca whales there. Dave will be painting as much as possible and is planning to create eight to ten paintings. By the time our camping season ends in October we will have put on about 12,000 kilometers traveling from the west coast of British Columbia to Algonquin Park in Ontario.
My brother just bought a townhouse in Myrtle Beach. He lives in Africa so he won’t use the beach place very much. He wants to retire there, but right now it’s sitting empty. We are considering driving down there and camping along the way.
Camping season here in Alberta is May through September. Last year we camped through our Thanksgiving in October. We go to the mountains as much as we can. It’s a short trip for us to get to amazing places.
We seem to always get a lake side or river side campsite and have enjoyed many beautiful and stunning spaces. Our first trip this year was a Tuesday to a Friday, and we had a river side campsite in the Rocky Mountains at Bow Valley Provincial Park. It was pretty spectacular with the river and view of Mount Yamnuska here in Alberta. It was outstanding to feel like it was our home for three days.
People come here to the Canadian Rockies from Europe, Asia, and all over the world. If we can drive for an hour to see what they’re paying thousands of dollars to see, we want take advantage of that. We feel rejuvenated every time we go out there.
Above: Spruce Lake, Kenora, Ontario
Near the end of our five-week trip, we stopped in Kenora at Spruce Lake. Our friend Rick lives in a boathouse there. He told us that we could camp on his property for a few days. When we got there, there was a big hill, and Dave said we can’t go up it because we were going to tip over. We were all disappointed.
I said, “Well why don’t we leave the truck camper up on top of the property? We can hike all our supplies like food, chairs, a shelter, canoe, and Dave’s art pack down to enjoy the lake during the day and come back to our camper at night.” We camped there for three days. It was the highlight of our trip and happened to be Dave’s birthday. We took the canoe out and he did a painting from the canoe.
Our lifestyle is mostly about getting to the mountains, hiking, taking our canoe out and Dave painting. We love to hang out, enjoy happy hour, canoe, take in the view, and relax.
|ANNE AND DAVID VERES’S TRUCK CAMPER RIG|
|Truck: 2001 GMC Sierra 2500HD, extended cab, single rear wheel, short bed, 4×4, gas|
|Camper: 2010 Travel Lite 875PSBR|
|Tie-downs and Turnbuckles: Belly mount, ball mount / ankle guard turnbuckles|
|Suspension Enhancements: Standons HD rebuilt leaf spring suspension and HD Ranchero shocks|
|Gear: Rebuilt/extended tent trailer rack, 17′ Clipper Cascade Canoe and Accessories, aluminum 16′ telescopic ladder, 4 step folding stairs, 15 watt solar panel|