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Camping Stories
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with the camping world ?

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A Pop Up Camper True Story

Since I have published this site on pop up camping, I have received numerous e-mails revolving around pop up camping. The web site has open a gate to new friends which I have met and also have not met. The following e-mail I received from Brenda Deso and lives in Toronto, Canada. Brenda first e-mail me the first time to get more information about the Salter Path Family Campground located on the North Carolina coast. Her family was taking vacation here on the coast and to also visit her nephew which he was stationed in Jacksonville, NC . Well we had e-mail each other a few times after her visit here and the family had a very good vacation and really enjoyed staying at the campground.

But then Brenda wanted to tell a story that happen to her and the family while they camp at the campground. I read her story , and it is amazing !!! Now with her permission , we both would like to share this story to all campers and the world, the e-mail and story goes like this ;


Hi Donnie,

Of course when I joke about having time to write e-mails at work I don't!! Anyway, I have time now and just wanted to tell you what happened to us at Salter Path. I think you'll like this story.

I think I mentioned that my nephew, Eric, and his wife, Sheryl, and two little girls camped with us the first two nights. They went back to the base Tuesday night and our daughter, Elizabeth (15) went with them and our son, Christopher (10) stayed with Joe and I (and Muggins, our dog). On Wednesday we decided to go into Jacksonville and visit them and we had laundry to do as the laundry room at the campground was too busy. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were so SURE it wasn't going to rain. We did the unthinkable. We left all our screens open. I know - I know, you NEVER do that. Honestly, we knew better but couldn't bear the thought of zipping everything up in the hot sun etc. We didn't think we'd be too long. Well, we visited Sheryl and the girls for a while, then did laundry and as we were in the laundromat it started getting darker and darker. If we had left then we probably would have been okay but like total idiots we stopped at Winn Dixie and while we were in there the thunder and lightening started. We looked at each other in horror and hurried to the check-out, ran to the car (as the rain started) and as we're pulling out of Winn Dixie it just POURED!!!! Meanwhile, we're still in Jacksonville! The only good thing was that you could see the line of black clouds and towards where we were headed it still looked bright so there was hope the storm hadn't hit our campground yet. We went as fast as we could/dared but kept hitting red lights etc. We would run out of the storm and think "whew" but then it would catch up to us again. We really really thought we were going to make it back in time but when we crossed the Intercoastal Waterway the sky just opened. It was unbelievable. The wind was blowing so hard the rain was horizontal!!!!! We knew then that our trailer was drowned. We got behind this driver who I swear had never driven in the rain before. She (I'm assuming it was a she, isn't that awful?) put on her left blinker about a mile before she actually turned but went slower and slower and slower as she got closer to that turn. AAARRRGGHHH!!!!!!!!! Joe's blood pressure was about through the roof. We're yelling at "her" "GET OUT OF THE WAY YOU IDIOT - WE HAVE TO GET TO OUR TRAILER!!!!" Of course she couldn't hear us!!! It rained like that steady and I could just picture our soaking mattresses, sheets, sleeping bags (not that we needed them - a tad too hot for sleeping bags even with that breeze!), pillows, everything! We finally made it to the campground, pulled up to our site and from inside the van it looked like the bunk ends were zipped up! They couldn't have been, so we figured it was just raining so hard we couldn't see properly. Now we KNEW for sure we hadn't zipped up. There was no doubt about that whatsoever. We ran to the door which was locked, there was about 2 inches of rain in our screen house, Joe gets the door unlocked we run in and just stop. Everything is zipped up. We just stood there with our mouths open. We could not believe it. Neither one of us had done it, we knew that. Everything was dry too so it was zipped up before the storm started. I swear we stood there like that with our mouths hanging open, not saying a word, for 2 or 3 minutes. I actually went over to the side to touch the plastic. We were dumbfounded. We left everything unzipped and the trailer locked up, we come back and everything is zipped up tight and the trailer is still locked up. Also the t.v./vcr is still there untouched, our radio etc. Nothing was out of place. The only thing we could think of was that the campground had master keys or something and did this as a service. Ha ha. Silly, I know, but we couldn't think of any other explanation. The storm was still raging when about 20 minutes later a guy came up to our door and said he hoped we didn't mind him breaking into our trailer but he waited and waited for us to come back, could see a huge storm was coming so got his next door neighbours to stand watch and undid our bunk end, crawled in, zipped us up, crawled out and put the bunk end back in place (you know what I mean). He had his neighbours watch so in case there was any question of what he was doing. He happened to be in the site directly across from us.

Do you believe it??????? Have you ever heard of anything like that???

We told him of course we didn't mind, we were just so grateful and thankful to him for doing that. We couldn't believe that he would do something like that.

We ended up talking to him quite a bit the rest of the week and he said he was really leery as he didn't know how we were going to react but we were just so happy everything stayed dried.

Well, I proved to Eric and Sheryl that you do meet the nicest people camping as I kept saying that to them before we all camped together!!! I always say that and that guy (I never even got his name - I just know he was from Buffalo, New York) proved me right.

I thought that was pretty amazing that someone would do that for someone else, and thought you might appreciate that story. It makes us look stupid, I admit, for driving off and leaving everything unzipped!!! You can bet we'll never do that again, no matter how hot it is!

Sounds like you had a great time too. I checked on a map where you went. That island sounds beautiful. I didn't realize NC had wild horses, thought they only had Hot Doughnuts Now!!!!

Hope you liked my "adventure." Of all the people to be camping across from, lucky for us we were camping across from that gentleman, eh?

Take care and happy camping!

Brenda


We both hope you enjoyed this story and if by chance the gentleman from Buffaloe, New York reads this story, please e-mail me and I will forward to Brenda.

HAPPY CAMPING EVERYONE !!

AND

THANK YOU BRENDA !

 Just received another e-mail  from James Brigman. James and his family
live in North Carolina and are new pop up campers. His story and
e-mail was very interesting . He took the camper on a very long
trip and was his first outing with the pop up.  If you are a new
pop up camper I recommend reading his story. It is a little long
but great reading.

The e-mail and story goes like this:
( Some editing has been done with James permission)
Hi Guys;

I've got your page as my home page for now and have been using your website
extensively. I thought I'd send you some feedback so you can know how
valuable and useful your page has been.

Although I'm not an expert, I've done a lot of tent camping over the years
and grew up in the backwoods of western NC, so I know a little about the
goods (and extreme bads) of tent camping. Compared to on-the-ground tent
camping, this pop-up camping ROCKS. It's about as luxurious as you can get
underneath tent fabric. You are well off the ground, you have a solid roof
over much of your head, you have a nice foam mattress, and if you have A/C
power, there's even heat and air conditioning available. Our pop-up has a
stove, sink and 3-way refrigerator (AC, DC or propane). You can't do any
better short of a deluxe camping trailer. It's a GREAT way to camp.

I bought a Coleman Redwood "new" that is a
holdover from '00. It's a relatively small camper, 9' box, but it's easy to
tow with my '89 Chevy fullsize ext. cab pickup. I have just an ordinary
hitch and no brakes, and it works out fine. The A/C unit on the top prevents
being able to see over the folded-down camper, but that's not been too bad
of a problem.

There is not much space in the little Redwood, so I'm going to try to get
creative about adding some. I've got some ideas on how to make better use of
what space is there. There's also empty spot to add a propane furnace, and
it's got a poorly-designed storage space that looks ideal for adding an
electric water heater. If I ever get time, I hope to do it the same was as
the guys have done on the 'net with the addition of hot water to their
pop-ups. There are several projects I want to do to enhance the value of the
pop-up: I just need to get time to do 'em....

Last week, we just finished our first-ever vacation and used the pop-up. We
went camping for an entire week in it at the Sun 'n Fun fly-in at Lakeland,
FL. This turned out to be a tremendous undertaking that I needed an entire
week to prepare for (and barely got done). We drove almost 900 miles each
way, from Raleigh to Lakeland, FL. for a total of over 2000 miles for the
trip, counting the driving we did while we were there (we made a 1.5 hr
drive each-way down to Venice, FL, which I highly recommend: we found over
75 fossilized sharks' teeth at Casperson's Beach south of town!)

We were gone for 7 days to the Sun 'n Fun fly-in at Lakeland, FL. This is an
annual event held every April at the airport in Lakeland. It is is possibly
the world's 2nd largest air show. You can see almost anything that flies at
the event. (No large commercial air transports or large military aircraft
show up for this one because the airfield is too short) Additionally,
HUNDREDS of people show up to camp in almost any kind of camper you could
think of, so you can see almost any other camping vehicle made, and you can
"compare notes" against your own vehicle and/or get some RV advice if you
want. Be aware that this camping experience was "semi-primitive": we had NO
electric or water hookups of any kind. However, we did have a shower house
and sinks with hot/cold water we could use. Toilet facilities were
EXCLUSIVELY porta-jons, so it was kinda tough, but we all managed. Here are
some notes I've put together after making the 950 mile drive (each way) and
week long camping trip in the Redwood:

1) The battery power option with a deep-cycle battery was a wonderful
feature: we used the 12-v lights inside the camper every night. They don't
look like much at first (I was disappointed that they aren't fluorescent)
but they worked great. There were two built-in to the roof of the camper and
one clip-on accessory light, we used all three. (the clip-on is better for
reading in bed) The outside yellow "porch light" came in extremely handy as
well. We took an extra lantern and a couple flashlights, but we could have
made-do with only one flashlight: to unhitch and set up the unit after dark
when we arrived. We used all the lights all week for about 2-3 hours per
night and saw no noticeable deterioration of the deep-cycle battery
capacity. (Note that the colemans power the gas alarm anytime the battery is
hooked up, so ours ran all week as we left the battery hooked up the whole
time.)

2) We had food sources, showers and running water available at the site, so
we didn't use our sink or stove at all. We walked to the shower sinks to
wash our cereal bowls and cups. Since we did not cook on the stove we had no
pots, pans or utensils to wash. Our galley went completely unused the entire
week, which was a good thing as I had not prepared it beforehand anyway.

3) We DID use the 3-way (gas/AC/DC) refrigerator the ENTIRE time: mostly to
keep drinking liquids (water, Gatorade, cokes and milk for the kids morning
cereal) and some fresh vegetables. I was surprised: I was not shopping for a
'fridge when I bought the pop-up but it truly became more of a necessity
than I thought to help keep us all from dehydration. Yes, we could have just
drank water at ambient temperatures to stay hydrated, but the daily highs in
FL right now are running 85-89 F, so that would have been very miserable.
Having cool drinks available really made a difference for the whole family.
I completely recommend either getting the 3-way fridge or buying the little
powered Igloo cooler. I was able to run the fridge for 1 week, continuously,
and it used what seems like about 1/2 of a 20lb propane tank.

4) A guy with a big, giant bus-style RV parked with his onboard gasoline
generator positioned right toward the awning of the trailer. We were able to
muffle the sound a little by putting up the clear windows in the pop-up and
keeping the door slides closed, but it was still very, very difficult for
us, probably the worst part of the trip. There was nothing we could do
besides LEAVE to escape the noise, and after an hour of listening to it, it
got to be unbearable. I talked to the guy and he moderated his usage a bit,
but he still ruined large parts of the trip for us. I'll NEVER go camping
again where I have to listen to an RV generator. (NOTE: There IS a small
Honda model I saw used that is amazingly quiet. It's a 1000w unit, I think,
and a little bigger than a canvas briefcase.)

*** Because of 1/2/3/4 above, I'm planning to shop for a couple solar panels
to install on the roof of the camper. I know we could make better use of
even more DC (or inverted AC) power when we camp, and I'd like the option of
running the refrigerator on DC if I run out of propane. If I'm going to take
a stand against RV generator noise, I'd better be ready to put my money
where my mouth is....:-) ***

5) I saw other brands of campers and they all looked OK, with their various
pluses and minuses. I'm glad to have a nice new Coleman but I can't say it's
head-and-shoulders above or below anything else. The Coleman one-piece door
with the higher door latch was nice. (I'm 6' 2") The external storage bay of
the upper-level Colemans would have been a godsend to have. We struggled to
find lockable places to put valuables, so we'll be packing much, much less
in the future. There was a whole box of stuff I came up with that we didn't
use once the whole trip...

6) I saw one of the brands that has the external power receptacle and cable
so it'll plug into the towing vehicle's electrical system. It seemed to be
nice and convenient, and saves 50-75lbs of weight in the trailer, but it
forced the parking of the vehicle in a particular position relative to the
camper, so it restricted how the camper could be positioned. This was
important because we were all camping out in a field that normally gets used
as a cow pasture!!! :-{

7) The Redwood's empty weight is 1440 lbs. With A/C, propane, battery and
extra stuff, it probably topped out at around 1800 lbs. We towed with a
full-size GM pickup and it worked like a champ. I have a six-conductor
square connector to the trailer and had no problems with running and signal
lights. The truck seemed to handle the extra load of the trailer (and of the
lights) just fine. I had absolutely no problems with trailer sway or control
of the truck, and we encountered one emergency stop situation where I had to
hit the median grass at 60mph. Aside from being shaken and shifted around
badly, everything was OK, including our camping lantern. (I have only a
basic bolt-on Reese hitch with no anti-sway or weight distributing features,
but keep in mind that my tow vehicle is well-suited to the job.)

***note about the emergency stop: the slope of the median was steeply
angled, for drainage. I feel sure that if we'd been in a motor home or been
towing a travel trailer, we'd have rolled it on it's side. We hit the rough
ground fast and hard. I feel that the low profile of the pop-up saved our
bacon! ***

8) I could tell an increased load on the brakes of the truck by the trailer
(it has no brakes) but it seemed to work out just fine. I'd rather buy brake
pads for the truck a little more often than have to deal with brake pads on
the trailer that I have to buy from an RV dealer.

9) I lost 5-6 mpg towing at, well, fairly high driving speeds. We had to
average 78mph just to keep up with the traffic on I-95! I had to be careful
to allow extra following distance and this was difficult: other motorists
seemed to be unable to resist tucking themselves into the extra space I had
to leave ahead of myself. It got annoying so I got a little more aggressive
about protecting that space as the trip went on.

10) We got gas at the St. Aug's and Savannah exits, the ones with the big
pink outlet malls. Best gas price we saw was $1.55 for premium at a "GATE"
in St. Augs, FL. Right now, there is NO SAVINGS ON GAS that I could find in
GA or SC. EVERYONE along I-95 is getting $1.55/$1.65/$1.75 for the three
grades of unleaded fuel. Diesel users seem to be doing better right now,
with $1.29/gal for diesel fuel a common sight.

These are the big items. There's other things I can tell that are of smaller
consequence that I could put into a much larger note, but these seemed to be
things of general interest that you might be able to use for yourself, or
compare your own experiences with.

Anyway, what I wanted to mention to you is:

1) The first day we were there, it got amazingly hot, which took me by
surprise. In years past, the temperatures at the fly-in have normally been
moderate, but this year it got incredibly hot during the day. Even though we
had some nearby shading trees, they didn't provide shade all day long, and
the first day we got awfully hot in the trailer. Because we had no electric
hookup or generator, we couldn't use our nice, new A/C. I remembered reading
about your use of the little mylar blankets on your camper. In our medical
kit I found two of them and some clothespins and we clipped them onto the
tent ends just like you show on the website. We could immediately tell a
significant decrease in temperature inside the camper. I didn't have a
thermometer to measure, but I can tell you that it DID greatly improve the
comfort inside the pop-up during the day. Where before, it was intolerable,
even with the flaps all open (outside temps were running 87 degrees), after
adding the reflective blankets it was definitely livable inside the pop-up.
If I can come up with any way to enhance the use of the mylar, I will, but I
can say to you that I don't see any way besides your method to handle the
problem faster and more efficiently than to just clip on with clothespins.
THANK YOU for posting this solution to your website!

2) We did not have a clothesline with us, but we definitely needed one. We
have the add-on canopy, but didn't have any rope to tie between the poles. I
say this only as a point to make that it's something we'd have done if we
could have, but we had no spare rope with us. We even had enough trees and
clothespins so that we could have made a nice big clothesline. We found that
we needed to be able to dry out towels for our showers and beach trips, dry
out bathing suits and air out shorts that we might wear more than once.

3) Even though the daily high temps were near 90 degrees F, we got chilled
at night. We had regular bedsheets for our mattresses and very light
blankets, but I don't have a clue what we could have used to help keep us
warm: I think a comforter might have been too much, and sleeping bags would
definitely have been too hot. I'm not exactly sure what would have been good
to use. The local coleman dealer (who I didn't buy from.) Was offering an
integrated bedsheet set, something like a sleeping bag that slips over the
mattresses. If you have any tips or info on this, that would be great. (We
weren't sure what to go with first time out: sleeping bags (which I thought
would be too hot) or sheets.

4) I had trouble keeping the trailer leveled. The yoke jack kept sinking
into the ground. I'd taken boards for each of the four corner stabilizers,
but I didn't take one for the yoke jack, so I'll do that next time.

5) The interior lights worked great, although I didn't expect that. We went
all week on the one deep-cycle battery just fine.

6) Ran the fridge on propane all week and it worked wonderfully. I think we
used up 1/2 a cylinder. You could feel the heat in the upper venting of the
'fridge. on the outside of the camper.

That's all for now. Thanks for your web page, talk to you later;

James

Thank you James for sharing your adventure with
all of us.
James and his family are now members of the
NCPUCA .