Monday, November 28, 2011

The History of Girl Camp (Part II, and So Far)

Right after 9/11, Girl Camping Girl and Mr. Ed, hubby dearest, managed to buy a little weekend-use house in an Idaho mountain town that's at the end of the road.

Originally, the 1915 house was built as worker housing by the timber company that built a sawmill and the town to go with it. Entire streets of houses were built from the white pines cleared to make the town.

Friends and relatives came to visit, and some even bought their own properties in the little town--setting up what became something of a colonization.

One day, two adjoining lots across the street from the little house came up for sale. GCG could only afford one, so she picked the higher one of the two, for its view, and because it offered a level, nearby place to turn her first vintage trailer, an Airstream Land Yacht, into a summer guest house. Someone else bought the lower lot, and used its mobile home as a base for weekend recreation.

The view lot still had room for more trailers, so sometimes GCG's friend Miss Shelley would bring her trailer, and spend the weekend at what quickly came to be dubbed 'Girl Camp,' with a funky hand-lettered sign adorned with two china plates--just to underscore the 'girly' part.

Another friend, Miss MJ, came for the first  'trailer slumber party for three' at Girl Camp, took photos, and used some of them in her fab book, 'MaryJane's Outpost.'

From one trailer, to two, to three--why not add a couple more for the next trailer slumber party, as long as there was room? (Would other gals make the drive to the town at the end of the road? It turns out that they would--and that they loved being the girls at Girl Camp!)

Next, an especially heavy-snow winter proved too much for the mobile home on the lot below. It caved in, the owners cleared away the debris, and then stuck up a For Sale sign. And one of the Girl Campin' friends decided to buy it, making Girl Camp twice as big.

In our fantasy life, we'd just be there all the time, hostessing and playing! But of course there are things like jobs, and regular homes, and family needs, and that other stuff of real life (for which camping is the antidote). So the latest version of Girl Camp gets enjoyed privately as often as chances allow, and on special occasions, gets to host some parties.

Still a work in progress, hope to have you on the guest list sometime (cuz if you're reading this, you're already someone we know we'd love to have).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The History of Girl Camp (Part I)

In the beginning, circa 2001, Girl Camp wasn't about camping. It was about satisfying the archetype of an escape place in the mountains.

Girl Camping Girl and her husband, Mr. Ed, had based some horse-camping trips from the tiny town of Elk River, Idaho, where outdoor recreation had taken the place of the timber milling on which the town was founded in 1910. About 40% of the town was for sale at the time, and after the 9/11 tragedy and ensuring recession occurred, nothing was selling.

Except for...

...the 32x24-foot millworker's bungalow in the photo above. It sat on a corner lot in town and was unoccupied. Both GCG and Mr. Ed had a love-at-first-sight experience upon opening the front door--which took some doing, considering the snowfall that winter--and the seller took their offer.

By then, it was the dead of winter, and the For Sale sign would be buried until the following May. And so would everything else except the inside of the little house. (Bad time to sell--great time to buy.)


Eventually, summertime did come back to the mountains, revealing a lovely sloped backyard.

Meanwhile, this little gem of a canned ham travel trailer had presented itself, for sale one day on a street back closer to home. One cash negotiation later, it was hooked up to GCG's truck. But she never got to come and visit the little house, because of that sloped backyard, which left nowhere to park her except on a town street.

A few more winters came and went. Including the one that crushed the mobile home, on the flat lot, across the street.

To be continued....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Camping It Up For Christmas Decor

For the trailer-obsessed (this is all of us, right?), the holidays are more fun than ever because we get a whole new reason to play with our trailer replicas.

Cookie jars, birdhouses, salt and pepper sets, favorite books, camping-theme ornaments...they all work just perfectly to put some whimsy into your holiday vignettes.

We love the tabletop easels that let you display a book, either closed or opened to a colorful spread. (This book, 'MaryJane's Outpost,' is by our friend MaryJane Butters and includes a number of photos taken at Girl Camp, plus a section on the 1929 camping trip taken by Girl Camping Girl's grandmother.)

You can even hang an ornament from the top of the easel, for that neat little trick of 'accessorizing the accessories.'

Anything you create on a tabletop will look even better with a little candlelight--this little rig gleams from a tealight in a holder that looks like a tiny crystal firepit.

As you pull out your regular Christmas items, like this ceramic cabin that lights up, your tiny trailers will inspire some new ideas. (This salt and pepper set has just-right dimensions for being parked in front of the cabin.)

You also could do an entire large tree in a Girl Camping theme. We're gonna give that a try this year and see how it turns out.

Maybe with a pink flamingo on top!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Inside the Cowgirl Trailer (Come On In)

Howdy! This little cutie belongs to Girl Camping Girl, and today, the door is open for a virtual trailer tour.

(It's a short tour, since this trailer, a 1968 Oberlin, is only 13 feet long from the rear bumper to the hitch front.)

The dinette is at your right as you step in. The color scheme, inside and out, uses red, black, and buckskin.

The sink and cooktop are on the driver's side, but usually get covered to form counter/display space for favorite cowgirl collectibles.

In real life, Girl Camping Girl is the editor of a Western horse magazine. Can you tell, from the trailer's reading material?

The cabinet doors are painted glossy black, and trimmed with vintage Western belts, nail studs, and trophy buckles from GCG's horse shows.

Naturally, the rear bed is cowgirled-up, too, with lots of pillows and Pendleton bedding.

The camping luggage is old, but dressed up with old cowgirl postcards and photos.

There's really no mistaking that a buckarette-type owns this little cowgirl boudoir on wheels. Hope to show it to you in person someday!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Today's Project: Making A Winter Girl-Fort In The Airstream!

The first of the winter snows blew in last night, for a momentarily depressing realization:

It really is the end of camping season, at least up in northern Idaho, where your friend Girl Camping Girl happens to be. Nobody wants to be out on slick roads with a trailer, and freezing her petticoat off besides.

But then we went 'AHA! The Airstream has a furnace! Let's go turn her into a winter girl-fort instead of just letting her sit there, doing nothing until next summer.'

Here she is, while on a boy-camp outing with Mr. Mister. Good perspective on why they named these babies 'Land Yachts.' (She's over 30 feet long and weighs 5600 pounds!) She spends most summers serving as the guest house at Girl Camp.

But no reason why she can't be useful in winter, too, while parked right here at home. (Why didn't we think of this earlier?)

Heading out to the trailer barn right now to heat the Big Girl up, open the curtains, and give her a little winter-fort makeover. Perfect way to be Girl Camping, even on a snowy day!

(Will let you know how it turns out.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Let's Discuss: Dry Camping (By Request)

Dry camping: To camp without power or water hook-ups; also known as 'boondocking' (e.g., camping out in the boondocks--can be applied to parking-lot camping as well).

We've had a request to offer some tips on how to camp comfortably in your travel trailer when no power or water hook-ups are offered.

This practice, known as 'dry camping,' may be called for're traveling, and not able to stop for the night at a full-service RV park; you take your trailer out to the boonies for a period of getting away from it all; you attend a trailer-camping event at a venue that offers parking only, no hook-up amenities.

Ironically, the majority of vintage travel trailers were designed, to large degree, FOR dry camping. The whole idea of having one was to be able to go anywhere, anytime, with complete self-sufficiencey.

Lights, stove, and heater all ran on propane carried in a tank on the trailer. Showers and plumbed toilets weren't included so didn't need water or power. If a trailer did have a water tank, it was small, with just enough water for sponge baths and washing a few dishes. People did not have, nor rely on electrical appliances to the extent that they do now. (Which is why your typical small vintage trailer came with one electrical outlet, if that.)

But today...

* Many old trailers have had their propane systems removed, and been re-wired to all-electric.
* Quite a few women whose trailers still have a propane system are afraid to use it.
* Later and larger trailers were made more for comfort in an RV park than for boondocking on your own.
* And let's face it--we've let ourselves become dependent on the electricity that runs everything from our hairdo appliances to our toothbrushes and cell-phone chargers.

What to do, what you need, and where to get it:

* Pare down to basic needs--which amount to warmth, a nighttime light source, and (speaking for Self here) a way to make coffee. Bring more blankets, get an alternative-power lantern, skip the electrically-enhanced hairdo and wear a hat instead.

* Picture your trailer as a tent. Then visit a camping store. You'll be amazed by the variety of camping items made to run on solar, battery, or gas-canister power. We'll leave it up to you and your budget on whether to buy or borrow, once you pinpoint a useful item (battery-operated fan, let's say, or a single-burner backpacking stove that'll heat coffee/tea water and one-dish meals).

* Ask more experienced dry campers to share their tips and favorite gadgets with you. With as many camping/glamping groups and social-media sites as there are, you'll readily get some answers.

Speaking of which...

The Comments floor is now open for your own great tips. Girl Campers do share, and lots of the Newgals (we like that better than Newbies) will really appreciate the additional advice.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Addictive: Trolling for Vintage Trailers

No one warns you about this at the start of your infatuation with vintage camping vehicles, but... you will become addicted to spotting them. Even become a U-turn expert, in no matter what you're driving at the time.

Maybe even to the point of turning into the Girl Camper version of a trespasser and a stalker.

This could be an area of obsession that needs a 12-step program. Because it is, without question, addictive.

If you're of the rescuer persuasion, these puppies can be more dangerous to be around than an abandoned batch of real puppies. Yes, it is actually possible to feel sorry for an inanimate object.

In advanced stages, you will find yourself bringing home a trailer you just could not pass up. Exhibit A above: Barbie, the Girlfriend Trailer, spotted for sale in the middle of nowhere and purchased with "just in case" trailer trolling cash.

Could we cure this addiction with group therapy? Doubtful--because camping with the girls is group therapy, and all it does is feed it!

(So...anybody see anything interesting out there today in Trolling Land? Some ad links to post, perhaps, for a little dreamin'?)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Friday (That Holiday Feeling That Comes Every Week)

All Girl Campers love Fridays!

Fridays are the "I could go camping!" day of the week. Sometimes, when we're lucky, they're even the first morning we get to wake up in our trailers or tents, having sneaked away from home the day before.

In that case, a Friday is a happy day indeed. You wake up under your color-coordinated covers, realize you are NOT still at home, NOT going to work today, NOT stuck doing household chores, and NOT having to do anything for the day that you don't truly want to do.

Start the coffee, stir up the campfire, or just pull the covers up and go back to sleep for a while. It's Friday, and it's YOUR day.

But a Friday that's Departure Day is an excellent Friday as well. You get to be behind the wheel instead of behind the desk, and that's its own rewarding reality. It's a Friday when you can dose on mental vitamin A, for Anticipation, to your heart's content.

And, on those Fridays when camping is just not in the cards, it's still a good day to put the camp-dreams cap on, and give in to thinking about your favorite friends & fun instead of the next thing on your to-do list. Maybe stop by the crafts store on your lunch hour, to pick up supplies for that trailer project you've been meaning to get around to doing.

At Girl Camping World Headquarters, we start every Friday with the 'Happy Friday!' salutation. It gets the day off to a smiling start, whether we're blessed enough to be camping with you girls or not.

Pass it on!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

'Where To Next?' (Making Those Plans For Next Year)

Thanks to our Girl Camping friend, Miss Patty, we've learned something important about those camping trips we dream of taking:

If you don't put them on your calendar as red-letter dates, those trips are likely to pass you by. After all, you haven't committed the dates to camping, so...

[any of this sound familiar?]

* You fall prey to life's everyday gotta-do's, which jump up to assert themselves as being 'more important, really' than the fun and memories you would make by camping.

* It becomes easier to procrastinate on doing the little fixes/projects/fix-ups to your camping outfit, and by the time an event or trip comes around, you're not ready.

* The others in your household are free to claim the 'blank' weekends and holidays for their own purposes (many of which inevitably will involve you and your services).

* There are no trailer sites or sign-ups left by the time you make a last-minute decision to attend, leaving you SOL.

* You don't budget for the expenses, and end up having to stay home and pay bills instead of joining in.

Here's Miss Patty from last April, on a calendar-planned camping trip where...we didn't get to go camping, exactly, because the weather didn't cooperate. Stay home? Not the Miss Patty way. So we both drove to the agreed-upon meet-up town, hotel-camped instead, and made it its own kind of Girl Camping adventure.

Just one reason why she rocks it on a regular basis.

We have several camping dates already saved and circled for 2012. How about you?