Camping with Peggy

Peggy trying to pet Sheba -- as Sheba does her whirling dervish act.

Peggy trying to pet Sheba — as Sheba does her whirling dervish act.

 

Camping with Peggy is such fun.  I don’t think there are many subjects we haven’t discussed.  We are both avid readers, both love time together and time to ourselves, she loves my dogs and likes my husband — and loves the outdoors.    So this has been a wonderful camping trip.

By the way, Peggy is a superb wildlife photographer.  If you want to see some gorgeous waterbird photos, check out her paddling blog.  She also has a camping blog where she does extensive reviews on campgrounds — mostly in Florida and Georgia now, with future reviews in NC and SC to come.

View from the bedroom

View from the bedroom

Today we took a different trail to see different scenery — and ended up at the covered bridge again.  After we were back at the campground, Ron came from the office with trail maps.  So we could finally see where we wanted to go.  Only by that time, we were out of the hiking mood.

Instead, we did what we do best…. chatted.  And thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Looking toward the bedroom.  The bathroom is on the right.

Looking toward the bedroom. The bathroom is on the right.

I just love Peggy’s trailer.  It’s a 17′ Apex by Coachmen.  She got it for solo camping trips, and it’s perfect for her.  When she’s not outdoors, she can curl up with a good book in her reading nook with the huge windows and still keep an eye on the activities going on in the campground.

I took dozens of photos of her artwork and all the pretty little things that make her trailer feel comfy and homey.  I can’t post them all, but these will give you an idea of how beautifully she has personalized her little home-away-from-home.

She is the only person I have ever heard say that when she wakes up in her camper, she thinks she is in her bed at home.

We’ll both be leaving in the morning.  But we will definitely be getting together for more camping together.

The kitchen

The kitchen

The reading nook

The reading nook

 

Over the shelf unit by the front door

Over the shelf unit by the front door

 

The cozy bedroom

The cozy bedroom

 

Peggy put matching decals on the cupboard over the refrigerator and on the under sink cabinet doors.

Peggy put matching decals on the cupboard over the refrigerator and on the under sink cabinet doors.

 

Picture in bedroom

Picture in bedroom

 

Unfortunately my camera stopped the motion of the whirling wheels.

Wind kitty. Unfortunately my camera stopped the motion of the whirling wheels.


 
Exterior

Exterior

Homeless Women and Camper Vans

Touches of home in a van.

When my brother-in-law’s job moved him to Texas, my sister Gail became interested in getting an RV, primarily to use to visit family back home.  She didn’t like the idea of having to stay in dirty motel rooms, possibly being exposed to bedbugs and foot fungi and who-knows-what-else that might encountered in a bedroom and bathroom used by the public.

Also, they would be traveling when Mike was on vacation, so she knew they would be putting in long hours at the wheel.  And since they would be on a strict travel budget, they didn’t want to have to pay high campground fees just to park overnight.  And they didn’t want to have to eat all their meals on the road — another expensive proposition.  And finally, when they got to family’s homes, they didn’t want to have to move in on them, disrupting their household and sleeping arrangements.

So looking for an affordable RV became their priority.  They considered a travel trailer (as used ones can be bought cheaply), but then they would have to buy a pickup truck, and they didn’t need a truck for anything except towing.  It made more sense to buy an inexpensive used cargo van and convert it to their needs.

Exterior of their van

While Gail was researching ways to convert a cargo van to a camper van, she was stunned to discover that there are countless women all over the country who, through loss of their jobs or relationship breakups, were now homeless.  With no place to live, many of them were fixing up old vans to live in.

She found many websites showing how to cheaply convert a van into a mini home on wheels.  But most of them were depressingly ugly, consisting of bed frames made of 2 x 4 lumber with a mattress, and plastic drawers for storage.  So not only were these women homeless, there was no beauty — nothing girly — left in their lives.

Even worse, many of the vans had no toilet or shower facilities, making the women completely dependent on public facilities.

Attractive and supremely functional

She determined to convert her van into a pretty little space with all the comforts, like shower, toilet and kitchen.  And then she would share what she learned with anyone who was interested — whether they are building their first camper or just downsizing from a larger RV.  And maybe her ideas could be an inspiration to a homeless person somewhere, to help add a little beauty or functionality to their van.

To that end, I am working on building a page on this blog that will be permanently linked at the top, to serve as Gail’s guidelines for anyone who is interested in building an attractive, liveable, small RV in a cargo van.  I’m hoping to have the article finished in a day or two.

[On edit – the article From Cargo to Camper Van has now been published.]

Just Camping

View of our campground from the fishing pier

Another laid-back day soaking in the tranquility of Lake Blackshear.

We had wanted to go fishing today, but it was extremely breezy all day until late afternoon.  And by then, we were out of the mood, so I settled for just taking photos.

When I got to the fishing pier, a huge blue heron (I think) was sitting on the railing.  He let me get closer and closer without moving.  But finally he had enough, and with a loud, raucous RAAAACCCCKKKKKKK!!!!! he flapped his wings heavily and took off.

I think this is a blue heron. I am terrible with bird identification.

I took several photos of him, and one after he took to the air, but I was facing into the sun and he was almost the same color as the gray wood of the pier, so the photos didn’t turn out.

But later, as I was walking back to the campground, I saw him perched near the edge of the lake.  This time he didn’t wait nearly as long to take off, but I did manage to get a shot of him.

Geese

We have also seen ducks, egrets and geese here.  And many squirrels.  But no other wildlife — except for the fish that jump and tease us with their presence in the lake.

I am really enjoying our second autumn here.  At home most of the leaves have fallen, and the ones that remain are all brown.  Here there are still patches of brilliant color.

More autumn in December. 🙂

I thought I’d share a couple of small mods I’ve done to the Casita.  One is a fold-out towel rack in the kitchen that holds 5 dish cloths and towels.  It keeps them out of my way in the tiny kitchen, and also allows them to dry.  I had it in the Aliner, and it’s one thing I made sure I kept, since I’m not sure I could find another one.

The other mod was copied from Andy Baird’s Travels with Gertie website.  I put clear epoxy around the outside holes of the

Fold out towel rack

Modified shower head

shower head, leaving only the center holes open.  Now instead of a broad, soft wash of water, we get a nice, high pressure stream with no additional water usage.

A Beautiful Home-Built Camper Van

The new kitchen

My sister Gail and her husband continue to improve their van.  Gail has tweaked the insulation and done a lot of interior upgrading since I last posted pictures of their project.

The photo to the left is the kitchen Mike built in time for their Labor Day camping trip.  It has a hand pump water system,

Storage unit at end of bed

small gray water tank, microwave, refrigerator, and a 15″ round, deep sink.  Their stove is a camp stove that can be used indoors or outdoors.

They also built a new shelf unit at the end of one of the beds to hold shampoo, soap, and other supplies.  Clothes and other necessities are stored in bins under the beds.

The ledge above the cab is a storage area which also holds and supports their solar shower when in use.  They can let the sun warm the water, or they can fill it with warm water from the stove.  Because the water bag lies flat on the shelf, it’s well supported.  And water pressure is higher than if the bag hung down on a hook.  They clip a shower curtain to hooks on the ceiling, stand in a plastic pan, and can enjoy hot showers inside!  The pan is small enough to easily pick up and carry to dispose of their gray water.

Another view of the kitchen.

I am in awe of all they have accomplished, starting with a used cargo van.  It suits their style of camping perfectly.  And best of all, they don’t have to worry about potential plumbing problems associated with a a pressurized water system.

The van's twin beds

They have a small, free-standing air conditioner/dehumidifier that vents out the side.  It’s so efficient that they were able to nap and sleep very comfortably in Texas heat last weekend!

[on edit — click here for full details of Gail’s camper van build.]

If we are able to get our next camper before Thanksgiving, they plan to meet us at Mom’s in Florida for a family campout!

Now back to my mundane little world.  The doe and two fawns that Ron saw in our yard yesterday morning sampled the toy garden’s lima beans and collards last night. 🙂

Gifts from the Toy Garden

Today's toy garden harvest

I love cooking when I’m in the mood!

When it’s time to cook dinner, I’ll have the meat defrosted.  But I’m never sure how I’m going to prepare it. I take a look in the refrigerator to see what I have to work with, then I just start playing, and dinner evolves from there.

Tonight I had 3 boneless beef ribs thawed.  I put them in a pan and browned them well.  Then I added garlic, onion, ginger root from the freezer, celery and a handful of baby

Garden gifts chunky soup

carrots.  While that simmered, I sniffed my way through my spice drawers.  Ah, that would add a nice high note.  That one would add depth and complexity. 

Then I added diced potatoes, and the pole beans and two tomatoes from the garden.  The ho-hum one pot meal morphed into a down home delight.

Next it was time to cook the eggplant.  I LOVE fried eggplant.  Even though I enjoy eggplant parmesan and baba ganosh, I always default to dipping the

My favorite! Fried eggplant!

eggplant slices in egg, seasoning them, then dredging them in a mixture of flour and cornstarch, and FRYING them!

I love it so much that I deliberately only planted one plant this year to keep me from over-indulging.  That one plant provides 3 or 4 eggplant a week, which is more than we need.

We got a very light, gentle rain most of the day.  Much less than was expected or predicted from Tropical Storm Lee.  Tomorrow we should get more.  But it doesn’t look like we are going to get anything near the 5 – 9 inches that was predicted for this area yesterday.

That’s okay.  If we get a couple of inches, I’ll be thrilled!

Packing the Aliner Pantry

I have heard people complain that they are only able to pack 3 or 4 days worth of food in their Aliners.  So I thought I’d share some of my secrets of easily packing food for a week or more.

Packing the Aliner Pantry

Aliner pantry drawers packed in house then brought out to camper

I use plastic drawer units from Walmart, and have one drawer for each type of food.  I pack them inside the house, then carry them out to the camper, ready to slide into the drawer unit under the cupboard.

Aliner pantry drawers

One drawer for each category of food

There is one drawer for canned meats and hearty soups.  One drawer is for spices, one for starchy side dishes like grits, rice, instant potatoes and dehydrated potato dishes (scalloped potatoes), couscous, etc., and one for canned vegetables.

There is also a drawer for our supplements, and a plastic basket that sets on top with cooking oil, flour, corn meal, hush puppy mix, honey, salt, and whatever odds and ends I can stuff into it.

One week's worth of meat in Aliner freezer

I can easily get one week's meat for the two of us in the tiny freezer. If space gets tight, I take the meat out of its original wrapping and put it in zip lock freezer bags.

The freezer easily holds a week’s worth of meat for us.

Aliner refrigerator door with most of the essentials

I still need to add more bottled water to the door shelves

The refrigerator door holds mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressing, juices, small bottles of milk, pickles, etc.  It’s not completely packed in this picture.  Will add another picture later.

Also I have discovered a way to keep fresh vegetables fresh for a very long time in the refrigerator.  I originally stumbled upon it while trying to keep my vegetables from freezing.  First, I bought a refrigerator fan that keeps the cold air from settling and creating cold and warm pockets of air inside.  Next, I wrap the vegetables in a paper towel, then wrap them in bubble wrap and tape them shut.

The way it extends shelf life is amazing.  I have kept iceberg lettuce for 5 weeks like that, and when I unwrapped it, it looked as crisp and fresh as the day I packed it.

I took a photo, but it turned out fuzzy.  So when I get better pictures I will post them.

We keep most of our sodas and drinking water in a cooler in the back of the truck.  If we have room in the refrigerator, we also keep some handy in there, too.

Next time I’ll show you how I make the most of the rest of the space in the Aliner.

Our Little Aliner Camper

Welcome to my blog and to our Aliner camping adventures!

We’ve had the little Aliner for 3-1/2 years and have done a lot of camping in it, so I thought I’d introduce you to the little trailer itself before I continue recording our travels in it.

It didn’t start off well.  We had a lot of problems that mostly appeared after the one year warranty expired.  But after I had a bent frame fixed and reinforced, gutted everything but the kitchen and repaired the floor, replaced the leaking water heater and remodeled, we have been very happy with it.

Also the Aliner’s windows and skylights — and 8′ ceiling — give a wide open, spacious feel to the tiny 12′ cabin. That feeling of spaciousness is priceless to me.

So the little Aliner is probably our forever camper.  Here are some photos of what it looks like, except that we’ve added two 6-volt batteries to the front storage bin since these pictures were taken.

Click the photos to enlarge them.

Aliner trailer folded for travel

Aliner folded for travel

Aliner trailer popped up

Aliner popped up for camping

Aliner kitchen

Aliner kitchen

Front of Aliner showing kitchen and bathroom

Front of Aliner showing kitchen and bathroom. The aisle is larger than it appears in this photo.

Aliner bathroom

Aliner bathroom with cassette toilet and shower

Aliner twin bed modification

My Aliner twin bed mod with lots of open, easily accessible underbed storage

Aliner floorplan modifications

My remodeled Aliner floorplan

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

%d bloggers like this: