Category Archives: camper

Mother’s Day gifts and goodbye to the Yellowstone

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I’m going to start this post with a confession: I sold my Yellowstone. I’m still having some mixed feelings about it, but I think it was the right decision. It needed maintenance that I wasn’t giving it, and it seemed we never had time to use it. It was sitting there in my driveway making me feel guilty, so one morning I decided to “declutter” it. It was gone within twenty-four hours to new owners who are going to be a better match for it. They have big, exciting plans for it involving plumbing and roofing solutions that were beyond me. I may take a little break and then decide I’m ready for the Scotty Serro I’ve been hankering after ever since I sold the red Fleetwing, but in the meantime I turned the spot in my driveway that used to be trailer parking into an outdoor seating area. It’s already gotten more use in a week than we’d spent in the trailer in the last year, so it was probably the right thing to do. I think.

sachetMeanwhile indoors, I made lavender sachets for my mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother for Mother’s Day. I printed the kids’ photos onto printable fabric, then made little cotton bags to hold bulk dried lavender I bought online.

sachetsEach grandmother got a full set of all three kids to freshen their drawers.

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We made cards to round out the gift, using the kids’ thumbprints to put petals on the flowers. How did people get Mother’s Day ideas before Pinterest?

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Field trip bags

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trailerHello there! I want to send a big thank you and welcome to all the visitors my little blog has had this summer from the Country Living website. I was so honored to see my Yellowstone included in the “14 Gorgeous Camper Decorating Ideas” article, and was overwhelmed (almost to the point of going into hiding!) by the traffic my site garnered for a couple weeks. If you are here to read about my Yellowstone, you can click on this link to get only trailer-related blog posts. I’m hoping to post new camping pictures soon, but I admit we’ve not taken it out even once all all this beautiful summer. My third baby has not been the greatest sleeper, and somehow we’ve just not found¬†the time. Maybe I’m just worried to break the glass on the windows that finally got replaced? I’ve got fall camping plans percolating in my head, and will be sure to share photos here. In the meantime, I’m feeling weak and guilty for not having taken her out–make me an offer, and maybe I’ll sell and start over. ūüôā

field-trip-bagsIn spite of our lack of summer camping we’ve still put a lot of miles on the children this year. Last spring I got frustrated with my kids turning every small trip or homeschool field trip into a “gimme gimme” occasion in even the smallest gift shop. I don’t usually indulge them, but they still beg (and annoy me). I noticed most tourist site gift shops sell scouting-style patches embroidered with their logo, and that they are usually reasonably-priced. I sewed a canvas tote bag for each child, and used my embroidery machine to add their names. Then we started collecting patches on excursions and field trips, and now much of the¬†front of their bags are filled up, ony 6 months later!

filed-trip-bags-afterThese bags have served dual-duty in providing something for us to look for and purchase in gift shops, and holding the sundries (water bottle, snack, sunhat, etc.) that each child needs on our trip. We wrapped keepsake keychains around the straps and I used this handy fabric glue to adhere the patches.

Baby bibs

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bibs1A friend of mine recently asked if I’d like to contribute baby bibs to a fundraiser she was hosting for a charity in Africa. I was glad to, especially since bibs are easy to do assembly-line style and I could use the opportunity to get all the baby bibs done I had in mind for my new one at the same time. I chose some global-looking batiks (all are reversible) for her fundraiser bibs and embroidered the cheeky message “Give peas a chance” on the top one. I hope they sell well!

For my own girl, I made a set of five bibs in the bright little birdie fabrics I have used for her crib bedding and quilt, then I made five more in novelty prints (ok, mostly travel trailers!) to round out her collection. These are all just basic cotton bibs that fasten at the top with snaps. I don’t remember exactly where I got the pattern, but you could cut around your own favorite baby bibs just as easily as using a pattern. The only trick to them is to clip the seam inside in plenty of places so it presses out smooth around all the curves. These are all similar to the bibs I made for Worth a few years back, but are cut a tad longer to catch more spills. These are so much softer than plastic bibs, and they hold up well to normal messes. If they get super gross¬† I just give them a quick rinse and hang them to dry over our kitchen laundry bin before tossing them in. Otherwise I just add them in with our rags and towels as-is. They also fold up small so it’s easy to keep one in my purse once the baby’s big enough to be eating meals out and about. I won’t use any of these until she starts solid foods, but I’m glad to have them done and ready now.

bibs3 bibs2bib8 bib7 bib6 bib5 bib4

July camping

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tableWe’d not been camping all summer. Our little Yellowstone has a shelved closet in place of what was originally a tiny bathroom. I never wished we had a bathroom, but this summer of my third pregnancy I’ve been rather disinclined to leave those particular comforts of home. We did finally carve out time for a short trip, however, and I’m so glad we did, in spite of several night-time walks my dog and I took to the public bath house.

setting-the-tableIt rained in the afternoon but we had perfect, temperate weather by evening. We couldn’t have asked for better July camping weather. Dorothy set the table while I cooked over our fire.

duskOur darling trailer served us well. I really should get the broken windows replaced but just haven’t had the heart.

nature-hikeWe enjoyed some hiking through O’ Bannon Woods next day.

Experimenting with embroidery

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table-runnerI did some more playing around this weekend with my new embroidery machine. None of my projects are perfect yet; if you look with a practiced eye you can see that I’m still learning about which stabilizers to use in which situations, etc., but I’m still pleased with my beginner results. I made this table topper for my dining room table. It is hard to find tablecloths (or little table runners, which I prefer for everyday use since we frequently use our dining table in the evening) to match the vibrant colors in my vintage-fabric dining room curtains.¬† I was able to choose embroidery thread colors for this design that match my curtains very well.

table-runner-embroideryHere is a close up of one of the corner designs on the table topper. This was a design pre-loaded on my machine, though I changed around the colors. I did the embroidery on a piece cut from a white thrift-store sheet, then sewed it to the back once the design was done.

trailer-onesieAnd I finally made the first project for my new baby! A terrific Etsy seller, Sweet as Lemon and Honey, created an embroidery file for me based on my graphic and a photograph of my Yellowstone travel trailer. The file looks just beautiful, and I’ll make other projects with it to show it off better–I didn’t use the right stabilizers or maybe the best method for getting the front of the onesie situated on the hoop and it crinkled up a bit, but it’s my fault, not hers. Her file is non-crinkly and perfect. Still, I love love love this onesie! Even wrinkled up the trailer design is totally adorable, and this was such a fun first project to finish for the baby. It feels like now s/he is really ours, branded by our family trailer insignia. I’m a total hormonal fool, carrying this little shirt around with me so I can keep looking at how tiny and cute it is, trying to imagine the wee little person that will fit into it this fall!

My trailer might be cursed

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It’s taken me a little while to gather up the energy for this post. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time and perspective to have a proper laugh over events that really aren’t funny as they are happening.

We sold our beloved red trailer and bought our ’67 Yellowstone in June. It took a few weeks and a team of elves to get her nearly into camp-ready shape. We tried to take her out in the heat of July but were thwarted by problems with our doorknob. The rest of July was just too unbearably hot to think of camping. August was pleasant but somehow we were never able to go. More than one weekend Rob or I suggested that we might finally make it away for a long-awaited inaugural night in our trailer, but for one reason or another no 24-hour space could ever be carved out to get away.

In the meantime, I made progress on our doorknob issue. The actual replacement knob was just too expensive to consider. I found a similar knob that I thought would work, but when it came in I found that the inside knob prevented the thing from closing if it were installed, and that the opening on the side of my trailer door could not quite accommodate the hardware. I ordered the handle version of the same knob and asked my kind brother if he’d cut a larger opening on the side of the door. He was glad to do this but had not yet had a chance to do it when mid-September rolled around.

In August, when our schedule prevented us from camping, we did make a date with some friends to go together in September. We still held out a hope of going by ourselves before that date, but in early September our towing vehicle overheated and had to be taken in to a garage. We were hoping for a minor radiator problem; instead we discovered that our old Discovery needed a whole new-to-it engine. This was unfortunately in keeping with all the other experiences we had in the first two weeks of September, what with the plumber, the electrician, the waterproofers, electrician again, and the sad state of Rob’s primary vehicle making us wonder why our karma took such a nose dive. But I got through the upheaval in my home and the pain of writing the checks by fixing in my head an image of how much fun we were going to have finally camping with our friends. We were to get our old ‘Rover back on that Friday, and would load it up and head for camp with our friends after soccer practice on Saturday. I daydreamed about the dog finally napping on her little bedroll, about finally getting to use all the sweet accessories I’d had so much fun collecting, and in general of relaxing in that space and using the night away as a barrier between the problems we’d been having and the new week that was to start on the other side.

Now, I’m 36 years old and I’ve had things break before. I really do know that when cars are supposed to be done on Friday that they sometimes aren’t. I know that getting through stressful events by focusing on one that may not happen is not really a good coping strategy…but somehow in the heat of it all I lost that wisdom. So when Friday morning came and I phoned Rob to make arrangements for picking up our ‘Rover and found out that it wasn’t actually ready at all, I should have dealt with it better but I didn’t. Instead, I’m sorry to say, I, um, lost my shit. I cried like a baby. I cried about my kitchen sink, and my dishwasher, and my basement, and the wire to the garage, and the hole in the back of Rob’s car hood, I cried because I knew that I should actually get a grip and be grateful that our family is whole and healthy, I cried about the money, and mostly I cried because I really, really, really wanted to finally use my damn trailer and I couldn’t.

Rob said we should go camping anyway. We had a tent and we had supplies, we had friends planning to meet us, and we had all the s’mores ingredients I’d already bought. I knew he was right. I didn’t want to break our date just because we couldn’t take our trailer. I occupied myself with other things for an hour or two to calm down and then I sat down to make a list of the things I’d need to gather to go tent camping. Then I started crying again. Almost everything we needed was in the camper. I was going to have to go in and out of my trailer a hundred times to unload and repack all our sleeping bags and gear, and I felt like root canals, childbirth, cat poo cleanup, or that “Call Me Maybe” song on endless loop would have been preferable to taking our camping gear out of the Yellowstone without ever having used it in there. I promise I really did (and do) have perspective on where my Tiny Ass First World Problems fit in the grand scheme of things, but that perspective isn’t actually all that helpful when you’re in your kitchen losing your shit over a disappointment that may not be worthy but is still very real.

I thought about ways to get myself out of unpacking the trailer. The most achievable scenario seemed to be renting a truck to tow it to our campground. We spend a certain amount of money on each family member for Christmas; if I petitioned to use my Christmas money this weekend to secure a rental truck no one was likely to complain. In fact, the kids seemed very enthusiastic about the idea (they were disappointed too, after all) and I think Rob must have felt like anything was better than me crying about it again. I discovered that the rental car companies would not rent me a car to use for towing, but that I could secure a U-Haul pickup with a hitch for a reasonable price. I went to make my reservation and discovered that most of the area’s U-Haul pickups were already reserved for the weekend, but that I could pick one up 10 miles away in Indiana. I’d have to be driven over by Rob and the kids, be charged for mileage back to my house, hitch the trailer and drive the 28 miles to our campground, then do the whole thing in reverse the next day and have the truck back within the 24 hour rental space. I didn’t even hesitate. Mileage charges for Christmas, a time constraint, and the extra hassle couldn’t possible be as bad as unpacking my trailer to go tent camping. I reserved it.

We were a happy band of campers that Saturday morning. We checked off the soccer game, packed our cooler, picked up the U-Haul truck. I wasn’t bothered that I didn’t have the new doorknob on the trailer yet. The old one still shut but just wouldn’t lock. I bungeed it to the handle-grip next to the door to make sure it wouldn’t come open in route.

I invited Belle up into the passenger’s seat of the U-Haul and we left home, with Rob and the kids following me in our family car. (The family car, for the record, does not have the towing capacity to handle our Yellowstone.) Our friends sent us a text message that they had arrived at our campground and secured a nice site for us to share. I sent back the happy message that we were leaving and planned to be there soon.

We’d gone about a mile into our 28-mile trip and had not yet reached the highway when the trailer door flew open. I pulled over and surveyed the situation. The bottom of the handle-grip to which I’d bungeed the doorknob had come off the side of the camper and lost its screw. The top still seemed to be firmly attached. I went inside the trailer and collected duct tape, made sure no items inside had shifted to where they were likely to hit the door and force it open again, and then duct-taped the door shut all around. I made a loop with the tape and re-attached the handle-grip to the doorknob as well, for extra security. We laughed cautiously at having to stop so soon into our journey but felt like we’d remedied the situation and traveled on.

We were on the highway traveling through Louisville’s west side when my duct tape job gave way. The door to the trailer flew open with so much force that the door’s window shattered in a spray of glass. The metal handle-grip detached from the side of the trailer and flew through one of the trailer’s back windows, also shattering it. Rob immediately phoned my cell to ask if I’d seen it, but really, how could I have missed it? We were near an exit and we took it, pulling into a vacant lot right off the highway. Rob and I got out of our vehicles and stared at the broken glass shards that were all that was left of the door and back windows. Rob put his arm around me and kept saying, “I’m so, so sorry.” I knew he really meant, “please do not start crying again. Please.” I fetched the trash can from inside the trailer and we disposed of what glass was left in the broken windows.

At this point we decided to try bungees again. I had a stout bungee in the back of our family car and with the windows out we had more possibilities for places to hook it. We got the door shut very firmly and duct-taped again more thoroughly for redundancy. We made it across the state line and were only a couple miles from the exit where we’d leave the expressway when the door swung open again. We took an exit and made for another parking lot. The bungee had shredded like dental floss. I don’t know if it was an old bungee, maybe a little brittle after a lifetime in the back of my car, or if the force of the door was just too much for even a bungee in good health.

We were only a few blocks from a hardware store I knew of, but Worth had fallen asleep. If Rob left me with the trailer in the lot he’d have to wake the boy up to take him inside the hardware store. We couldn’t wake a sleeping kid; I abandoned the U-Haul and the trailer in the parking lot and crammed myself and my fifty-pound dog into the front seat of the family car. Dorothy, Belle and I sat with sleeping Worth while Rob went in and purchased a bucket of fresh bungees. We made it back to the trailer without waking our boy, got Belle transferred back to the U-Haul, then set about securing the door with as many bungees and at as many points as we possibly could.

Once we finally pulled in to the park which housed our campsite I felt like we we’d come much farther than we had. The grumpy lady who took our money asked skeptically if we had reservations. I thought “bitch, you are not going to keep me from camping here.” I assured her we had a spot and drove off without listening to whatever else she had to say to me. No dominatrix gatekeeper with a librarian complex was going to stop me now. We were united with our friends, parked the trailer at our spot, and then I parked the U-Haul at the lot designated for extra vehicles. Another camper told me he liked my truck. I didn’t whack him.

The next 18 hours passed with far less drama. Some of our party got covered in ticks, but at least that is a possible hazard that always comes with camping. The children had great fun burying small cars in dirt and then exhuming them; the grown-ups drank a lot of wine and beer. Our dog went into overprotective watch-dog mode and growled at everyone outside our party all night long. But it was fun. It was fun to finally put down the bunk and hoist Dorothy up. It was fun to unroll the bedding and sleep on my polka-dotted cushions. Our friends’ homemade wine was delicious, and it was even better to drink it out of the aqua-swirled cups I’d placed in the trailer cabinets with such great expectation. We walked, we sat, we drank, we talked. The weather was perfect, the food had all the smoky flavor of a real fire. Ahhhhhhhh.

I’d like to end the story there but unfortunately there is a wee bit more to it. We stayed in happy camper mode a bit too long the next morning and were in a rush when we finally bungeed everything closed, hitched the trailer back to the U-Haul and pulled out. Our configuration of bungees this second time around didn’t seem to be as well-engineered as the day before and the door started swinging open and then quickly, violently closed as we drove down the state road near the campground. We did what we could but were still concerned about getting home with out incident. After our first stop to rearrange bungees I realized we were probably not going to make it home in time to turn around and return the rental truck within our 24-hour window, and two days of U-Haul rental was a more generous Christmas gift than I’d intended to claim. I phoned my parents, who lived much closer to our campground, and appreciated their willingness to house my trailer until we could get the door secured.

We dumped the trailer at my parents’, dropped off the U-Haul in the nick of time, then piled once more (dog on my lap) into the family car to get back home. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired after such a short trip. My nice brother came to my aid a few days later, installing the new knob and even pulling the trailer back to my house for me. We think we’ll get our Rover back this week, and Rob already has a new camping destination in mind.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. We’ve gone to a lot more trouble than I ever intended to have a little family fun. The adventure reminded me a bit of our day trip to Mercer County, without all the poo and nudity and with a little more genuine frustration. I’m still working on laughing about it properly. I’m hoping that after this experience and the one before it, the next time I post about traveling with our Yellowstone I’ll just be gushing about all the fun we’ve had. Yes, indeed.

Camper tee shirts

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Not much time for craftiness around here the last couple weeks. We’ve had good times with out-of-town guests, not such good times with the appliance repairman, and now we’re dealing with a leaky basement. Life does come in seasons, doesn’t it? But I’ve been enjoying my children in the camper shirts I designed and bought from Cafe Press.

Worth dripped water down the front of his right as I asked to take his photo, so that makes it more realistic, right? Somewhere just beyond the photo is the huge stack of books that has been building every day when the mailman brings more parcels. I’ve been ordering first grade supplies like crazy this last week. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it on the blog, but we decided to continue to homeschool. We applied to and were accepted into a public school program we felt good about, but we decided that homeschooling just works best for our family. We aren’t anti-school and we aren’t really anti-any of the other things that many people try to avoid by homeschooling–we’re just really in favor of our comparatively relaxed, family-centered life and we didn’t want to give it up. I’m looking forward to the start of school like a kid myself, and Dorothy and I play a game where she sneaks off and pours over the new books that are coming in, and I pretend to be mad because she’s not supposed to see them until school starts.

The only crafty thing I’ve done recently is these lamp shades. We just purchased a new fixture for our dining room but weren’t pleased with the shades available for the lights. (Ecru anyone? Or do you prefer off-white? Not in my house…) I sponged watered-down crafts paint onto the bland shades and now they are beautiful and colorful and go with my house. I’m just waiting on my hubby and father-in-law to install the thing so I can pop the shades on and post a picture of the final product.