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Inspiration for Truck Camping

In order to recover from the super cold winter temperatures of the Northeast, I loaded up my newly purchased VW bug and headed way south into Mexico.  I celebrated my 21st birthday in Oaxaca, Oaxaca.  That was in 1964.  I eventually graduated to a VW van set up for camping, and basically would live in that van for extended periods of time as I explored the back roads of the California Gold Country. 

I later settled down with family responsibilities, and only managed limited travel.  During my settled period, I managed to travel the Southwest in a Shasta travel trailer.  Then I purchased an old Class C that carried my young son and aging mother to the Grand Canyon, (introducing my husband to the wonders of travel), and spent a wonderful holiday with family living in New Mexico.

Empty nest hit like a ton of bricks by the loss of my mother and my son striking out on his own.  That was when my husband and I started to full-time in a older Nomad fifth wheel.  From that moment on, we were never without a fifth wheel, even when we stopped to work for my son for seven years. 

Time started to catch up with us and a brick and mortar home seemed like a good idea.  But before we got rid of our Arctic Fox fifth wheel, we made sure we had a good travel rig.  We purchased a used Lance 1130, and put it on the new Dodge Ram 3500 dually long bed that my son bought for us so we would be safe. 

We immediately started to make plans for an extended trip to Alaska.  Taking our time to visit family and friends along the way, and spending more time than planned in British Columbia, it took us two months to get to Alaska.  We didn’t get home for another three months.  We live in the camper for extended periods of time as we travel to see family and/or friends, but we also camp in our camper when we go out into the New Mexico desert to go rock hounding, sky gazing, target practicing/shooting, or just because.

So, to make a long story short, my need to keep exploring has been my inspiration to go truck camping.  For me, it’s a no brainer.  The choice of a Lance Camper on a dually truck was inspired by a neighbor we had in a Texas RV ranch, Judy and Jerry Funk.  They had a fifth wheel and a truck camper and sang the praises of their set up.  We had to agree!” – Maggie Karam

“Who inspired us to switch to a truck camper?  Mother Nature!  When we added horses to our lives, we also added a horse trailer, which meant the travel trailer could not go on horse camping trips.  The first trip out we were headed for beautiful central Oregon which boasts of their 360 days of sunshine a year.  My husband and I just planned to put the canopy on the pickup and sleep in the backend.  Never once did we think it might rain.

The first night we endured the worst thunderstorm I have ever seen in Oregon.  Usually our thunderstorms come and go within a couple of hours.  This one poured down rain and the thunder rolled all night long.  That storm would later be attributed to starting one of the worst forest fires in recent Oregon history, the B&B Complex Fires.

As soon as we got home, I started shopping for a truck camper.  Over the next three or four months, I spent hours online shopping (oh my, they are expensive) and learning from all the forums and eventually found a gently used 2002 Arctic Fox 990.  We purchased the camper in November of 2003 and still love it and use it as often as possible.  Before that one trip, a truck camper had never entered my mind.  But one miserable night in a leaky pickup bed changed all that.” – Rick and Alice Burnett, Oregon

“I purchased a very used fifth wheel enjoyed it for about three years.  As I was getting close to retirement, I decided to look around to pick my next camper as the fifth wheel was falling apart in sections.  At the time, I was working in a Pennsylvania state park that had 340 campsites.  I took about two years to research campers by talking to hundreds of RVers in all kinds of rigs from every corner of the country.  I asked three questions; “What do you love about your camper?”, “What do you hate about your camper?”  And, “Would you purchase it all over again?”

To make a long story short, I believe that it was a Canadian couple who told me that they would not have it any other way.  They loved the mobility and compact design of their truck camper.  Truck campers had also kept them together all these years.  I figured that if they could enjoy life in a truck camper, I could also.  They told me that they were 84 years young.  That was about five years ago.  I really hope to bump into them on the road sometime.” – Jesse Taylor

“When my wife and I were getting ready to retire eight years ago, we knew we wanted to travel the country.  We had tent camped and backpacked for years, but knew tent camping and backpacking wouldn’t work for the extended amount of time we wanted to be out.  We knew a Class A motorhome was too big, so we started looking at everything from Class Cs to conversion vans and Class Bs.  When my wife suggested looking at a truck camper, my first vision was of a small pickup truck with a cap over the bed of the truck.  We went to an RV show and saw a Lance truck camper for the first time and thought that was pretty close to what we were looking for.

Since we didn’t own a truck, I didn’t want to spend the money for a truck and a camper and then discover that lifestyle wasn’t for us.  I called Lance and asked if they knew of anywhere we could rent a Lance Camper so we could try it out.  They replied that the only place they knew for sure was in Anchorage, Alaska.

I came home and said, “Guess what?  We’re going to Alaska!”.  We flew to Alaska at the end of April 2004, which isn’t the best time to go camping up there.  Despite the cold and occasional rain and snow, we fell in love with truck camping.  We rented an eight and half footer which was smaller than what we thought we would need.  After living in it a week, we discovered that we didn’t need anything larger so we were able to downsize and get a smaller camper and a single-wheel truck instead of a dually.

That drop-of-the-hat trip saved us thousands of dollars.  In the eight years since then, we have happily camped all over North America and have put almost 100,000 miles on the camper.  I can’t wait to get back on the road again.” – Larry and Barbara Routt

“Hi Angela.  Who inspired me to purchase my first truck camper is a rather long and involved story, but I’ll shorten it as best I can.  I must give credit to the @#$%& that fell asleep behind the wheel of his car, smashed into the back of my fifth wheel trailer, and totaled it.  I had been on the road solo and full-time exactly one year and one week.  “He didn’t see me,” was his defense.  I answered, “How did you not see me?  I’m pulling a house.”

That accident did three things for me. 1. It hurt me rather badly and I had to sleep on a friend’s couch until I recovered, which was months.  2. It totaled my trailer but not my truck.  3. It gave me an ending for my book titled, “Kiss This Florida, I’m Outta Here”.

I decided at that minute that I was never going to let anyone sneak up on me again.  I purchased my first truck camper, a ten foot Elkhorn, and lived in it for nine years solo and full-time.  Although I am no longer full-time, I have a nine and a half foot Adventurer and will be heading out to my winter getaway of Yuma, Arizona in less then a week.  YEAH!” – Joei at joeicarlton.com

“My parents didn’t camp, didn’t really travel, or have much desire to.  I traveled to the library on my bike and read books about camping.  I still remember the thrill of  buying my own backpacking tent in college. 

Fast forward a few years and more than a few nights in that tent.  We were coming home from a failed job in southeast Alaska and got rained on every single day in that well-worn tent.  The next summer, we built a wooden topper for our Ford Courier pickup truck.  Then we had a VW Vanagon.  Having kids got us into a tent trailer, and finally a series of truck campers.  Lots and lots of memories.” – Bonnie

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