Monday, January 30, 2012

Road-Trip Tunes! (A Girl Camper's Playlist)

Picture it: You're hooked up, fueled up, and ready to hit the open road for some Girl Camping.

Now, you need some road-trip tunes!

A great road-trip tune cranks up you up. It opens with a riff you recognize. It makes your head bob to the beat. And makes the trip itself fly by!

Here's a playlist guaranteed to do all the above--and we've even added Youtube links for your instant enjoyment.

* On the Road Again, Willie Nelson.

* Real Real Gone, Van Morrison.

* Born to Be Wild, Steppenwolf.

* Rocking Down the Highway, Doobie Brothers.

* Freeway of Love, Aretha Franklin.

* I've Been Everywhere, Johnny Cash.

* Bad to the Bone, George Thorogood.

* Little Red Corvette, Prince.

* I Drove All Night, Roy Orbison.

* The Road to Hell, Chris Rea.

* Running on Empty, Jackson Browne.

Naturally, we'll gladly add your own contributions to the Girl Camping Road-Trip Playlist. What've you got for us? Let's rock it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Facelift for a Vintage Trailer's Door

Miss Grace, one of our stalwart Girl Camping friends, is always up to something, it seems, when it comes to enhancing her vintage Scotty trailer.

She passed along this picture of the facelift she gave to the inner side of the Scotty's exterior door. Originally painted white, with lots of scuffs from many years of use, the door is now a pretty sight whether Grace is inside or has the door opened to the world.

Something else you should know about Grace: She's intrepid with a can of spray paint!

Thus, the door didn't just get sprayed with aqua enamel, it also was treated some chalkboard paint--also from a spray can--to make the door useful as well as prettier. Wooden trim strips, cut to fit, frame the new chalkboard.

The embroidered curtain is a vintage pillow slip, stitched up with a rod pocket at the top. With two layers of fabric and trim all around the bottom of the slip, the curtain is as nice to view from the outside as it is from within.

Way to go, Miss Grace, and thanks, too, on behalf of anyone you may have just inspired!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Few of Our Favorite Girl Camping Things

Chalkboards and levels and guests who are smitten.

Kencrafts and sun hats and cute chairs for sittin'.

Cute little Shastas that roll on with wings--
These are just some of our favorite things.

Cream-frosted trailers with wheels made of cookies.

Parties for Newgals so they won't be rookies.

Wild friends whose presence can make the heart sing--
These are some more of our favorite things!

Campsites with flowers and tiki umbrellas.

Birthdays in honor of our special fellas.

Winters that give way to new camping springs--
These are yet more of our favorite things!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Items For Your Girl Camping Wardrobe

Remember when you were little, and loved to play dress-up?

Camping with your trailer-chick buddies will take you right back to those days--as Miss Grace and Miss Paulette prove, in their attire chosen for a camping dinner tagged as the Petticoat Potluck.

Petticoat, crinoline, tutu, pettiskirt: Whichever you choose, it'll go perfectly with cowgirl boots, and is ridiculously fun to flounce around in!

Girl Camping is also about being outdoors, so a shady-brim hat is a wardrobe must. If a cowgirl hat doesn't suit your style, a straw garden hat might be your perfect alternative--as it is for Miss Marie, the fabulous campin' mom of yours truly.

Another good reason for bringing a cute hat: It'll bail you out on a bad-hair-day morning, or when you're dry camping, and don't have showers and electricity for hair styling.

A stylish pair of rubber boots deserves a place in your Girl Camping wardrobe, for those mornings when there is dew on the grass or (oh no!) when Mother Nature decides to rain on your camping parade.

With a pair of themed pajamas, that go with your trailer, you'll be right in style around the morning campfire.

Even better: Pair the PJs with a coordinating hat!

A cute denim jacket is another wardrobe staple. Leggings or tights are essentials, too, so you can show off the tops of those awesome cowgirl boots.

Remember to save some room for your most bodacious jewelry, cuz that's the frosting for your dress-up cake!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Few Fun Things From the Trailer-Toys Collection

Common thread among the Girl Campers: Collecting fun things that end up as trailer toys.

These are the items you could do without, as they have nothing to do with the basics of shelter, food,  and safety. But hey, we're GIRLS, and as such, we tend to collect things that please the eye and tickle the fancy--our own, and that of fellow campers.

In other words--we love our junque!

This is how the Girl Camp Lodge--the trailer whose theme is 'girled-up hunting & fishing cabin'--came to have its very own stained glass window of a deer.

Sure, you could pack your toiletries into a plain tote of some kind--but the fun is in customizing something that only you will have.

Unless you count chocolate cake as a necessity, every item on this table is purely optional. But, put them all together, and what you get is some very fun Girl Camping eye candy.

Purses, pitchers, paintings, funky to find, and fun to play with after you have them.

Farm Chick, Trailer Chick, Sister Chick, Travel Chick...all of it makes you a Fun Chick!

Wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Indelicate But Necessary Discussion: Portable Toilets For Trailers

When it comes to practical accessories for your vintage trailer, here's one that deserves its own post: the portable toilet.

This is a must-have for anyone whose sweet old trailer has no built-in 'facilities,' and this would include most older trailers that are less than 15 feet long. (Something to make note of if you are just beginning the foray into shopping for a vintage trailer.) If you're someone who makes regular middle-of-the-night bathroom trips at home, then you'll probably need and want a place to 'go' when camping, without having to get dressed and hunt for the campground toilets in the dark.

Your choice of receptacles and amount to spend is completely up to you--we can't think of anything more private than this particular need! Here's a rundown of your options:

* Free and extremely basic:  3-lb. coffee can with lid. This, you will discreetly empty every morning and flush into a campground toilet.

* Next step up: Vintage chamber pot with lid, of the sort that Great-Grandma may have had. This, too, requires an every-a.m. disposal of contents into a campground toilet.

* Newer, and relatively inexpensive (under $20): Go to a sporting goods store, like Cabela's, and buy a Luggable Loo toilet seat with lid that fits onto a lined 5-gallon bucket. You can either buy plastic liner bags made for the Luggable Loo, or simply use two heavy-duty kitchen trash bags as the liner.

* For absorption and odor control, you can: Buy pre-treated disposal bags (costly over time); place a layer of kitty litter at the bottom of the lined bucket; or, use a large-size, heavy-absorbency disposable diaper. My favorite solution: Pour 2 cups of stove pellets (manufactured as wood stove fuel) into the lined bucket. They're made of compressed sawdust that absorbs 20x its weight in liquid, and cost about $5 for a 40-lb. bag; find them in the heat/fuel section of any big-box store. One bag will last you a very long time; keep it in your garage and use a small container to hold enough pellets for a trip. (Two cups per day is plenty.)

* Fancier variation on the Luggable Loo theme (about $35): Look for a portable camping/boating toilet, such as the Reliance Hassock, shown in the photo above. These have a toilet seat under the lid, and can be used with either the Double Doodie (double-lined, odor-absorbing) waste bags made to go with them, or with the method outlined above, for the Luggable Loo. Dispose of contents the same as you would with the Luggable Loo.

(Handy hint for either of the bucket-type methods above: Find a collapsible, wide-bottom laundry hamper to hold the bucket and disguise it. Set outside your trailer, set a basket or plant on top, and mum's the word about what's inside!)

* Costliest: Buy a chemical, flushing, standard Porta-Potty ($65 and up): These aren't quite as simple to rig up and use as the bucket methods, but some gals prefer them as being, shall we say, less primitive. With these, liquid waste is flushed into a separate chamber that has odor-treatment chemicals. Some campers empty at the RV dump, and others empty and clean after they get back home.

Not the most delicate of topics, we know. We prefer to keep it real, though, and besides--who else are you gonna ask besides good ol' Girl Camping Girl?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Practical Accessories For Your Vintage (Or New) Trailer

Woohoo, it's happened--you found your dream trailer, got her bought, and managed to bring her home. Congratulations!

Now for a few words about practical accessories, of the sort that may not be glamorous but that are useful just the same.

* A set of 4 screwjacks, available at any RV store or even in the RV section at WalMart. By placing one under each corner of your trailer's frame after you've unhooked and parked (you can see one peeking out next to the left of the black chair, in the photo above), you'll stabilize the trailer and reduce stress on the floor as you're inside and moving about.

* Also useful when camping on grass: a piece of scrap plank to place under each screwjack before you raise it. This makes a level platform for the jack to rest on, so it doesn't sink into the soft earth from the trailer's weight.

* A stepstool. This makes it SO much easier to get in and out of your trailer, and comes in handy for other uses as well. If you can find one with a lid, it'll make a handy place to store things, too.

* A tool kit and rubber gloves. You never know when you might need a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and so forth, and the gloves protect your hands when you're dealing with such things as a blackwater tank (if you have one), or emptying a portable toilet. And speaking of which....

* A collapsible laundry hamper with handles and a wide bottom is a fantastic way to disguise and transport the bucket-type potty known as a 'luggable loo.' We found this one at a Ross store for under $10. We set it outside during the daytime, when not in use, with a basket or plant on top--and no one is the wiser.

* You'll also appreciate having a synthetic RV mat or patio rug, like the flag-themed one above. Not only will it reduce the amount of dirt tracked into your trailer, it also will help define your outdoor living space. These can be found at RV stores or online. They weigh very little and are easy to sweep or hose off.

* Also look for a set of RV wheel chocks. These keep your trailer from rolling backward or forward after you've unhooked and gotten it level. Firewood chunks will do the job in a pinch, but the products made for this purpose are lighter (and more attractive).

* Among other items you'll find useful: a level; medium to heavy-duty extension cord; hose with shut-off valve; folding rake; bucket; tarp; bungee cords; block for your trailer jack to sit on.

Naturally, our experienced Girl Campers will have other practical accessories to add to this list, and it'd be great if you'd do so. There are more Newgals joining the ranks all the time, and they will love you for it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vintage Trailers: Some Qs to Ask Before You Buy One

So you're smitten by the idea of owning a vintage camping trailer and starting the hunt to find one. What do you need to know?

Before you start thinking about brands and styles and sizes (oh my!), you need to know how much trailer your intended tow vehicle can handle. The average American vehicle has a 3.0-liter engine, is made of lightweight parts, and is designed for fuel efficiency--not for towing anything resembling the weight and length of the trailer shown above.

Many a novice trailer buyer has been seduced by a larger trailer (with potty!) and/or a low price, only to find that her mini SUV or garage-sized sedan doesn't have a prayer of being able to pull it, stop it, or handle it safely in adverse weather/road conditions.

How do you know what your proposed tow rig can pull? Recommended: Drive your vehicle to a U-Haul center that rents trailers, and ask one of the experts whose job it is to match renter vehicles to loaded moving trailers. You'll get a good idea of trailer sizes, lengths, and loaded weights that'll work with what you have.

You may find that your current vehicle won't be safe with anything but the smallest, lightest trailer--or with any trailer at all. Ignore this advice at your peril!

Now, let's assume you've either narrowed your search criteria to what you can tow safely, or that you've upgraded to a heavier-duty tow vehicle.

Your next question-to-self should be, "How much repair/restoration am I willing and able to take on, and at what price?" There's a saying worth paying attention to: "You can pay now, or you can pay later." A $500 "Needs TLC" trailer can easily add up to being a $5,000 expenditure, or more, before you can hook up and go have fun with it.

And if it's going to take a year or better to make that happen--then maybe you're better off saving money for that extra year and buying something that's already been rehabbed and is ready to roll.

What you see above is a 1950s trailer that had to be taken down to the bed for a complete rebuild.

This, dear friends, is a PROJECT. One that can take years, cost a small fortune, and ruin a marriage if you're not careful. The initial low purchase price of a complete fixer-upper will mean nothing if the trailer gets torn apart and never put back together because you can't afford the time and money. (On the other hand, if something this monumental floats your boat, you'll find no shortage of nearly-gone trailers just waiting for you to find them and drag them home.)

Next Q: What's your intent for your would-be trailer once you have one? Do you intend to take trips with it--or simply set it up in your yard for you and the grandkids to enjoy?

This question is more important than you might realize, because not all vintage trailers remain road-worthy enough for extensive travel. (Just ask the owners whose trailers don't pull straight, or that have disintegrated while going down the road.)

If your intent is to paint and decorate a darling little backyard playhouse, then that old, cheap-or-free trailer out in the neighbor's weeds might be just your ticket.

On the other hand, if you want to travel with your trailer, that neglected oldie might not be so golden in terms of your expected reality.

If you have other questions about vintage-trailer shopping, post them here. We'll do our best to get you the answers that will help.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Fever For Vintage Trailers: Hotter All The Time

'Everywhere you go.' That's a perfect way to describe what's happening with the fever for vintage trailers.

It is spreading, spreading, spreading, and not just among women. Lots of guys are just as hooked on them as anyone--and in fact, one of the early Pied Pipers was none other than Craig Dorsey, of Vintage Vacations. You may even own a copy of his wonderful book, Trailer Travel: A Visual History of Mobile America.

Until sometime in the late 2000s, vintage-trailer interest was spread in an organic way, from one person to another, with occasional boosting from a book, magazine article, or cable TV segment. The fabulous Sisters on the Fly group, with over 4,000 members, grew and flourished in just this way. (Girl Camping Girl is among the happy camping members.)

Hard to believe now, but as recently as, let's say, 2008 (that's when I took the photo above), people were NOT constantly 'checking their Facebook' from something held in the palm of their hand. Most didn't even know what Facebook was. They weren't getting their travel directions from a 'droid voice linked to a satellite. They weren't miffed if your party invitation didn't include a GPS-able address. People had cell phones, but not smart phones or iPads. They weren't 'living online' to the extent that exists today.

This is how swiftly the tech-and-social-media revolution has changed many things, from as we knew them just a short time ago.

With its what--800 million users? 900 million users?--Facebook makes it possible for an individual to communicate with the world. Photo sharing is simple, anyone can be his own broadcaster, and people with a shared affinity can build cyber-friendships like never before.

Meanwhile, Pinterest, the online pinboard form of social media, enables anyone to 'be an artist,' and express her inner fantabulous self via the photos of others. With pinboard names like Vintage Trailer Longings, and My Future Vintage Trailer, Pinterest is another way for trailer fever to spread that few could have imagined circa 2008.

You can find this Girl Camping blog photo, plus hundreds of others, on Pinterest. It's almost scary to see how one person's images can proliferate and spread the vintage-trailer bug to persons and places unknown.

Then, there's the whole expanding business of vintage-trailer merchandising, fueled by the phenomenon known as 'glamping.' (Just type that into Google/shopping, and see what comes up.) The travel icons of a bygone era are a whole new source of ka-ching, now that there are so many enthusiasts to sell to.

It's been a lot of fun to be part of the feverish ride so far. And we're not looking for a cure any time soon!

Monday, January 2, 2012

What Girl Campers Do For Entertainment

Husband to Girl Camper as she loads an old wooden ironing board into her trailer for a weekend outing:
'You girls IRON when you go camping?!'

Uh, no.

But an ironing board does come in handy as an entertainment bar, so that's how I use the one that happens to fit perfectly, when folded, behind the front seat of my tow rig.

Speaking of entertainment, it's never JUST about sipping and noshing.

I can't think of a single Girl Camping friend I have who wouldn't love to start a day's entertainment in a place like this--preferably after hitting a few early a.m. garage sales on the way. (Shopping, with high-delivery caffeine? Oh, yeah.)

And, there's a certain breed of trailer-owning camper who gets a huge kick out of going on a group horseback ride, or boat ride, or bike ride, or what have you, when the chance comes along.

The most intrepid of these leave their trailers behind to join Girl Camping Girl on wilderness pack trips--where 'roughing it' out on the trail is the entertainment.

But we mustn't forget the Girl Camping entertainment mainstay that does NOT involve befriending a mule and sleeping on the ground in a tent--namely, playing with all of your decor toys, and delighting others in the process, just as soon as that trailer gets parked.

Whimsy, produced before your very eyes by one of your Girl Camping friends, right outside her canned ham trailer--that's entertainment, for sure!