Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Few Ideas For An Ugly Trailer Door

Behold, the inside of an old trailer's door--not the prettiest thing you've ever seen, for sure. And just think--you'll be looking at it when you're inside the trailer, and everyone else will be looking at it when you're camping and have the main door open with the screen door closed.

Some facelift ideas to consider:

* Spray paint it, and call it good.
* Spray the background, then paint a design over the background if you're so inclined.
* Paint the background, then get the ModPodge out and affix prints or pictures that express your theme.
* Spray with chalkboard paint, so you can write and draw on it. Instant blackboard!
* "Wallpaper" it with fabric, affixed with (what else?) good old ModPodge, then sealed.

Got another idea you'd be willing to share?


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Things To With Your Trailer When You're Not Camping

Much as we might like to, not many of us get to go overnight camping all the time.

But this doesn't mean your cute trailer just has to sit parked for 50 weekends out of the year. With a bit of thought, you can come up with fun ways to enjoy it for day trips, too. And be a big hit while you're at it!

You could:

* Pick a park or fishing hole, then invite a local friend to join you on a picnic or to go fishing, with your trailer as lounge and kitchen.

* Take Hubby or Boyfriend on a date to do something similar. (What you do together behind the closed door is up to you.)

* Go do some small-town garage-saleing, with your trailer along.

* Use it as a private crash pad at an outdoor concert.

* Visit a winery or a truck farm.

* Take your niece, nephew, or grandchild to a neighborhood park, where the trailer can serve as playhouse.

* Set it up as a refreshments lounge at a footfall game.

Girl Camping Girl has been known to take her trailer with her to the supermarket, just because! If you've got that great gal toy, ladies, get on out and play with it!

Safe Towing: Cautionary Tale

We all love our camping hobby for the fun, the freedom, the friendships made, and the frivolity of decorating up a storm. But let's take a break from that for a moment to talk about towing safely. It doesn't necessarily come as second nature, as this cautionary tale will attest.

The link takes you to photos of a flipped trailer and a hitch that broke in half after the driver swerved to avoid a skunk in the road and then hit the brakes in the  attempt to control her swaying trailer. The trailer was totaled and the two people in the tow rig are lucky to be alive.

Lindsey, the driver, has it right when she says she made an instinctual move to avoid the skunk and save her rig from the sway episode it caused, and that "sometimes your instincts are wrong."

Let's all learn something from this, OK?

* Never swerve hard to avoid hitting an animal in the road. Of course we all hate to kill something, but it basically comes down to the animal or you. You and your rig can survive running over something, but a dramatic swerve action will cause your trailer to make a dramatic swerve, too, and put you into a potentially lethal sway. What has to be in your mind is this: STAY STRAIGHT, STAY STRAIGHT, STAY STRAIGHT. Once you introduce a swerve, you can't take it back, and that instinctive turn of the steering wheel can kill you. (Imagine getting pulled off the road by an uncontrollable trailer while traveling between rock wall faces and this river.)

* If you do get into a sway, getting control is completely counter-intuitive. Instinct tells us to brake hard, but braking your tow rig alone, without first applying separate brakes to slow the trailer's axles, will intensify the sway, not stop it.  (Read here for a good explanation of trailer sway and what causes it). The only reliable way to get control is to have and apply your trailer brakes right away, the moment a sway begins. If you don't have them, then you are in trouble, and will be driving for your life.

* In any situation when towing your trailer at speed, DO NOT HIT YOUR BRAKES. By braking the tow rig, you'll slow it down but not the trailer. Then the trailer will sway sideways, jackknife, and readily take over control of the forward momentum to pull your car or truck off the road. (Or, if you're luckier, detach from your tow vehicle from the centrifugal force.)

* Drive attentively, in general. Keep a frequent eye on your mirrors so you always know what's behind you and what might be attempting to pass your trailer. Look way out ahead, too, so you can anticipate moves before having to make them sudden. Stay way behind the vehicle in front of you, and always give yourself a long stopping distance so you can roll to a stop or slowdown instead of braking hard.

* Keep your speed down in the 55 mph range or lower. Vintage trailers weren't made to rocket down the road at today's freeway speeds--we didn't even have freeways when most of these trailers were made. You'll get to your destination soon enough, and the point is to get there in one piece.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Techniques for Staging Your Trailer

If you're into this sort of thing (and there are not rules that say you must be--perfectly fine to skip all the fluff and just bring your trailer, camper, or tent as is), then the idea of adding outdoor decor to your site has most likely occurred to you.

And if so, you may be wondering: How the heck--where do I even start??

Some techniques from Girl Camping Girl, whose trailer appears above:

* Take a picture of the side of your trailer, and fill the frame with the trailer from bumper to tongue. When planning the staging decor, you'll concentrate on working within this frame.

* Think in terms of making an outdoor room within the frame. Give it a ceiling (the awning, or perhaps an umbrella), a floor (the rug), and a wall (the ironing board with flowers and flag at left). Every room needs furniture and a purpose, so at least one  table and at least one chair. Two of each are better because they give you more to work with.

* Next--and this is key--use eye-pleasing objects to fill in the blank ground spaces that show beneath your trailer and at the entrance to your outdoor room. This step visually anchors your vignette and guides the viewer's eye toward the entranceway to your abode. A flowing tablecloth, a vintage cooler, a painted washbucket, a bucket of flowers, a potted plant, basket of cowboy boots, neat old luggage, a small stack of firewood--anything of this nature will work.) For best eye appeal, stick to one or two main accent colors.

* Finally, after you've created the stage, finish dressing it by laying on the little pretties that say "this is me and what I love." On their own, they might look lost, but in the setting you've created for them, they'll shine. For nighttime, include some kind of lighting, for a romantic glow.

Helpful? Hope you'll let us know!

Camping With Cake and Flowers

Girl Camping is another whole world from guy camping.

We can pretty well guarantee, for instance, that none of the hunting rigs parked in the woods are adorned with cake and flowers on white linen. (Probably just as well, since cake doesn't go all that well with beer.)

The "trailer cake" became an instant Girl Camp must-have after the first one was invented and came off the assembly line. So's just a round cake layer cut in half, with a layer of frosting between the two pieces. Frost the exterior, draw on some doors and windows with cake trim, add any lettering you might want, and use Oreo cookies to make the wheels, the step, and the hitch out front. (Tip: Everyone always wants to get on of the the wheels. Bring the rest of the Oreo bag as the "spare tires"so that everybody gets one.)

Now, for the best tip of all: After we showed our local Safeway bakers what we wanted, they make trailer cakes for us on order--for $7! In any flavor and "paint job" that we want!

As for the flowers: Whether you pick a couple of stems to go in a bud vase (note red tulips in boot) or get more elaborate, camping flowers are just a nice thing to do for yourself. And they're a treat for your camping pals to see, too (say hi, below, to Miss Julie).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Two Useful Items for Your Camping Caboodle

See that little greenish device? It's a level, and you'll be glad to have one when it comes to getting your trailer situated for a good night's sleep. Keep it handy, where you know you can easily find it when it comes time to unhook and get situated.

The blackboard may seem a little less obvious in terms of usefulness.  But once you've been on a Girl Camping outing or two, you'll see where it comes in handy for leaving notes, recording numbers, creating signage, writing a needs-list, or putting up a few pithy words.

Just don't forget the chalk!

And While We're On the Subject of Camping Crafts...

This is just about the easiest one ever. All you need is an old metal serving tray and some magnetic letters (or numbers), and you have an instant sign.

If you'd like to hang the sign, you can use E6000 crafting glue to affix a picture hanger to the back. Or, use the glue to put magnets on the back, so that the tray itself will stick to metal.

Another Girl Camping tip: For a bit of extra counter space and some quick hidden storage as well, set the tray over the top of your trailer's sink.

Rainy Day Camping Craft

The next time you run across an old piece of hardsided luggage at a thrift store or garage sale, snap it up for some rainy day fun. With a few supplies and some imagination, you can customize it to your camping theme or decorate it as a gift for a friend.

You'll need ModPodge, a decoupage liquid available at crafting stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby; a foam brush to apply it; paper and/or fabric of your design choice; scissors; a waterproof sealant; any special trims you might like to apply; and a good crafting glue, like E6000, to affix them. (If you've never used ModPodge before, think of it as a watery version of Elmer's Glue. You'll use it to stick the paper or fabric to the object, and then, after it dries, apply a top coat or two to seal it into place. You can always practice on a few scrap pieces before you tackle your luggage item.)

Color photocopies work well for this craft. Vintage postcards, letters, and sheet music covers copy beautifully, for instance, and allow you to save your originals to be copied again.

Besides using your creation for toting things, you can use it to decorate your campsite. And have an original at the same time!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Girl Camping Decorating Tip

Here she is, the iconic vintage trailer that lives in many a Girl Camper's imagination. Wouldn't you love to have the three-D version of this sitting in your driveway with your name on the title?

The 2-D image is printed onto a kitchen towel that's one of a set by Moda Home. The whole set lives in the kitchen window of the Girl Camp Cabin as cafe curtains.

Trailer decorating tip: The Moda Home line has many designs to satisfy many tastes, and can be a good source of inspiration for trailer curtains. You can use the link above to browse styles from an online retailer.

The Concept of the Girlfriend Trailer

Meet Barbie, aka The Girlfriend Trailer. Barbie is a 1965 Shasta Compact. She got her name because she's blonde (inside) and can change her whole look with a swapout of "outfits" (curtains, pillows, and bedding).

Her main purpose in life is to be shared. She's been to Girl Camp with friends who don't have a trailer of their own, and she's been on some road trips elsewhere, too. She has her own tow vehicle and pulls like she's not even there--a real confidence builder for someone who's unfamiliar with towing.

If you're still on the hunt for a trailer of your own, the Shasta Compact is a model to keep your eye out for. In their day, they were the best-selling trailers in America, and they were manufactured in large numbers--so a lot of them are still out there. The kitchen is in the front, leaving roomy sleeping space. Some even came with a built-in toilet, though all have a small closet that'll fit a portable.

Everyone who's ever been treated to a weekend with Barbie has loved her!

Here's another 1965 Compact, owned by our camping friend Miss Pam. For little trailers, they live large.

Anyone else have one of these little gems? What year, and how did you find her?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mornings in Your Happy Place

There are few things better than a morning's first hour inside your very own vintage travel trailer. (Girl Camping Girl should know--she has four of them in her obsessive collection.)

Make a pot of coffee...tune in something on the old radio (or iPod, if you prefer) a little the camper dog...listen to the birds wake up...think about what's for breakfast...hide out from the rest of the world until you're ready to come out.

Bliss, with a hitch out front.

Unhitch That Trailer, Stay a While

There are those who define camping as an exercise in minimalism.

Then there are those who don't have the m-word in their vocabulary. Give 'em even a single night's stay, and they'll transform their space into a compressed thematic world of its own.

It's fun to go camping with girls who take it over the top and enjoy delighting your senses. But fun to camp with the minimalists, too.

They have plenty of time to come over and partake of what's on those portable bars!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Freedom to Make Fun, Alone or With Friends

I love this impromptu photo of some of this summer's Girl Camp guests (the amazing mom, 76, of Girl Camping Girl on the far left!) Gals on the loose, some old friends, some new, and happily in the Fun Zone just by walking down the street together.

You can go Girl Camping all by yourself, and lots of times, I do. But there's something about the  camaraderie of camping with a gang, even a gang of two, that makes for an extra-fun and extra-memorable time. Needs no convincing--look at those faces.

When's the last time you were that happy? (Honest question, because the answers will help spread more happiness.)

Greetings From Girl Camp, USA

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Girl Camp.

She's a little plot of land in a little time-forgot town in northern Idaho--the kind of backcountry place where worms and whiskey are sold at the same (only) store, and where a code of Live and Let Live prevails. She's one hill over from the Redneck Men's Club (also a real place), and the talk of the town when she's full of vintage trailers for a Girl Camping party.

Most of the time, she's a happy hideout for yours truly, Girl Camping Girl, and the 1959 Terry turned into the Girl Camp Lodge.

Welcome to our first dispatch, and to a pass-along great state of mind.