Saturday, June 25, 2011

Maiden Voyage!!

Whew!  It's been a long time coming, but we finally went on our first trip with the Shasta!  Back in the spring, we went to the RV show and received a voucher for some free nights at a campground about 2 hours away (which might remain nameless to protect the innocent).  Although I'd really wanted to take our first trip at a place about a half hour away in case something went wrong, we felt confident enough that all of her systems were good to go to give this place a shot.  The photos of the pretty and serene lake were enticing.  With thoughts of campfires with marshmallows and chocolate oozing out of graham crackers, we set off on our first adventure with our newly renamed Dixie Belle the Beach Motel. 

I was able to get the registration done on Monday - FINALLY!  I took the bond, my other documents, the bill of sale and the amendment to the bond, and the lady at the DMV gave me the plates!  Yahoo!!!   What a relief!  The title should arrive in 3-4 weeks.  Yay.  From there, we put everything into fast forward so we could get ready for our trip.   
We had new trailer tires put on her the week before the trip.  We also had a spare mounted on a new 15" rim and hubby put it on the bumper.  Then, we spent a day in the parking lot of "The Store that Shall Not Be Named" with a guy who has a portable welder that we found through Craigslist.  He welded on the pieces for the anti-sway bar.  The tires and the sway bar made a HUGE difference in how well she towed, especially when semi trailers would pass us on the highway. 

Things went relatively smoothly for the whole trip, even though we were pummelled by falling pine cones the first night during a severe thunderstorm.  I woke up thinking that I heard raindrops, but it turned out to be pieces of pine tree and debris falling from the huge white pines overhead.  THEN the rain started once we got back into bed.  The Shasta kept us safe and dry, although I worried about the big dents on the roof that I was sure were going to be there in the morning.  My fears weren't realized, however.  She's just fine. 

We had another rainstorm the following evening, just as we had begun preparations for grilling some burgers.  We lost power, and we also got 4-5 inches of water in our campsite.  The water drained off quickly enough, but we were soaked and any thoughts of grilling dinner were kaput.  We had some overcooked macaroni and cheese, played cards and watched a movie when the lights came back on.

Most of our day was filled with swimming and digging in the sand on the beach.  The lake was truly wonderful.  Shallow water on a white sandy beach, shade on the beach to sit under and watch the kids play.  It was really nice the first two days and nights.  The third night was an eye-opener, though!  The place we stayed is primarily a seasonal resort type of campground.  There are about 100 or so overnight spots clustered together in the center of a seasonal / year round campground.  There were relatively few seasonal people around the first two weekdays that we were there.  On Thursday night, the seasonal campers started pouring in; and I don't think I've ever seen so many golf carts outside of a golf course.  We saw one or two golf carts zip by every minute or so.  Little kids, ages 7 or 8 were driving them, music was playing and they were just crusing around.  Until midnight.  We also found out that the piers at the lake are lit at night, and we could have gone swimming in the evening.  Kind of maddening to discover things about the campground on our last night there that the staff could have told us about - after all, weren't they trying to entice people to camp there by offerring free camping?  Hmm.   

We also discovered that the campsites don't have fire rings like we'd thought.  We had a fire one night, using our little grill as a fire pit.  Lesson to be learned?  Don't just ask if they allow campfires, also ask if they have fire rings!!

We were the littlest camper there until the last day when a Boler pulled in a few sites away.  It was very cute, with flowers painted all over it.  I wonder how Dixie Belle would look with big flowers painted on her?  Nah, maybe some flamingoes would be better, I think.

Overall, we had a very successful first outing, though!  Hubby is a little worried that our a/c install isn't up to the job, but I think most of the reason for the inability to keep up with the heat has to do with two kids who open the door and leave it that way - a lot!  We also had really high humidity and temps in the mid-90's.

Our setup time was greatly reduced, from the amount of time needed for the popup.  I think we were pretty much set up and level with the jacks on the corners and all plugged in within a half hour after we pulled in at our site.  Tucking things away and sorting out where everything was took a little time, since we really didn't know what we'd need or should bring, so we brought too much stuff.  As we camp more with her, we'll figure those things out and cut our time down. 

The pottie closet was a lifesaver.   The hinged door made an awful creaking noise when we opened it, causing my daughter to insist that we were making the noise on purpose to wake her up!   Ha - wish we'd thought of that sooner....

There is a lot of heat produced by the hot plate burners.  We can use them inside, but it will be better to use them outside when it's really hot.  We need to add an exterior outlet and also an outside light of some type. 

Our awning worked rather well, all things considered.  We put it up twice, and both times had to take it down due to rain and wind.  We purchased some hooks from Ebay that go into the awning rail at 2' intervals.  They stay attached to the rail and they're designed to be used with a tarp and 2 or 3 adjustable tent poles to create an awning.  They work very well, although one did pull out during the winds we had.   Now that we know how well they work, I'll make a nicer awning out of outdoor canvas that will work with the hooks.  We'd thought about using keder welt or rope to put through the awning rail, but it really is a pain to have to thread it in when camping alone.  These hooks will be much easier.

We had decided to have both of the kids sleep on the dinette bed, and this worked fine the first two nights.  On the third night, the girl pushed the boy off the bed - TWICE.  We should have realized this might be a problem, since her nickname was "Little Miss Kick and Flail" when she was little.  The first time she pushed him off was shortly after she'd fallen asleep.  We tucked him back into bed and scooted her back over on her side.  Then, we were awoken at 5am by a loud bang, which was our son landing on the floor.  Poor little guy.  He's okay, didn't even know what had happened.  Apparently, the girl took up so much room on the bed that he was edged out.  We'll use a bed rail until we can get the bunk done. 

We also saw a great idea for a drying rack that we'll adapt for the Shasta.  A camper next to us had mounted two flagpole holders on his bumper, then attached a 3 sided rack made from pvc to them.  Then he had ropes that went through the pvc pipe to hang wet towels and suits on.  We'd seen this system before, but we had a popup, and there's no access to the bumper when the popup is set up.  It will be much better than our little drying rack!  We'll definitely use this idea at some point in the future. 

Another thing we need to work on is a frame inside the closet for the plastic bins to slide in and out of.  We keep our clothes in plastic bins which fit nicely inside the closet.  They are clear so we can see what we have for clothes, and it's easy to give each person a bin to pack with their things before each trip.  The problem is that if we need something from the bottom bin, the bins on top of it need to be taken out of the closet and put on the bed.  So, a sliding rack system would make things much easier.  Kind of like making drawers for the closet.

All in all, it was a great trip.  We had s'mores, got sunburned, had fun swimming and walking around the campground, and we were able to enjoy some family time.  Yup.  Life is good.


  1. Yay ... glad you got to take her out and have fun! I love the name too!

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for sharing your first voyage! I was surprised that there were no campfire rings...

  3. great blog!! Such a pretty trailer!! Great work!