Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Get Ready for National Glamping Weekend, June 2-3

Mark your calendar for the first weekend in June: It's National Glamping Weekend, as declared by our friends and neighbors at MaryJane's Farm. MaryJane's staff has created a whole new website dedicated to the concept, with many linked resources for you to visit.

MaryJane will host a Farmgirls on the Loose glamping get-together in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on June 2-3.

Meanwhile, Girl Campers and members of Sisters on the Fly will be glamping it up at Riverside Park in Spokane, Washington, May 31-June 3 (in conjunction with the Farm Chicks Antique Show.

But you don't have to attend an organized event to participate in National Glamping Weekend! You can glamp it up  in your own yard, at a girlfriend's place, at a state or national park, in a cabin somewhere, or even at a hotel or resort.

Getting into the spirit when others around the country are doing it, too--that's the weekend in a nutshell.

Are you in?  We are!

* A scene from Girl Camp, where MaryJane took some of her first trailer-glamping photos for her lovely book, MaryJane's Outpost.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Girl Camper's Cure for Cabin Fever

Q: What do you do when you can't stand winter for another minute, NEED a camping trip, but have to accept that it's still too early in the season to travel safely with your trailer in tow?

A: You contact a friend who's in similar straits, pick a destination with indoor accommodations, and hit the road for an adventure!

The better you can put yourselves in the 'let's see what's out there' mode along the way, instead of the 'gotta get there now!' mode, the more fun you are likely to have. Stray off the beaten path, and you just might find some out-of-the-way treasure, like this little-known antique store in a tiny town off the main highway.

You just never know what prizes it might yield!

Without your trailer to worry about, you can explore places you might not otherwise check out.

Just about any town, no matter how small, has some sort of intriguing local business that'll be happy to see you.

If shopping's not your thing, take your camera and record whatever catches your eye and your fancy.

The world is full of beautiful scenery that's fun to simply look at!

You can do some trailer-trolling along the way--never know when you might run across a great little trailer you could pick up for a song. (Better yet--take some cash and your trailer hitch, just in case.)

When you get to your hotel, cabin, or B&B, pull out a few traileresque decorations to indulge your Girl Camping spirit.

Drive or stroll around town to soak up the local color.

Explore what's available for bonafide camping trips once the weather gets better later on.

Finally, when you do have to go home and back to waiting for spring, pull out all your treasures, lay them out to admire, and remember, for your next bout of cabin fever, that there's always a way to go Girl Camping without the camping!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Vintage Trailer Crafts...Gotta Love 'Em!

If there's anything we can say for sure about the fans of vintage trailers, it's that we harbor many among us who are creatively crafty.

Some have a knack for hand embroidery....

Others have the knack for creative machine embroidery.

Some have fantastic talent at woodworking and repurposing of objects...

Others can do amazing things with stained glass.

Some have a flair for customizing old train cases and other vintage luggage...

Others are creative in the kitchen.

Some have the artistic touch at making pennant banners...

Others are talented at making pillows and other items that require a talent for sewing.

Some are fearlessly crafty about painting their trailers...

Others find creative expression in learning how to eat their words!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Awning for Your Vintage Trailer

Many vintage trailers, like this one, were designed to accommodate what's known as a pole-and-rope awning made of fabric. It attaches to the trailer by means of what's called an awning rail; this is usually a narrow strip of metal with a channel in it to hold the awning's edge.

In order to go through the awning rail channel, that edge will need some kind of tubular-shaped welting affixed to the fabric. You feed the welting through the channel, by hand.

Besides providing much-needed shade, such an awning also adds an attractive finishing touch to your little home on wheels.

But, because few of the original awnings still exist, you will either have buy one from a vendor who makes them, or make one (unless you get lucky with your vintage-item shopping and find a preserved old awning lurking somewhere.)

The striped awning above is a new one that I purchased on eBay, from Marti's Awnings in California. Marti's work is very popular with vintage trailer enthusiasts, and she does custom work as well as the occasional eBay offering. She carries a wide array of Sunbrella fabric, plus telescoping awning poles.

The trailer above is shown with a homemade awning that was fairly inexpensive to make. The main fabric is heavy-duty painter's canvas. A quilt-type design was created on the top side from large samples of upholstery fabric, applied with fabric adhesive. The entire surface was then treated with Camp Dry, a spray-on waterproofing product.

The welting that slides through the awning rail was made from a long section of surgical tubing, inserted through a narrow seam stitched at one end of the awning. The grommets that hold the poles were from a sailmaking supply company. (The company also sells ready-made welting, various outdoor fabrics, and other supplies for making your own awning.)

If your trailer doesn't have an awning rail, it's possible to have one added. Vintage Trailer Supply is one place that carries awning rail for this purpose. (They sell awnings, too.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Best Girl Camping Experience Is...Getting to Know You

When you first get into the vintage-trailer camping hobby, it tends to be all about the trailer--finding it, fixing it, decorating it to suit yourself.

(Here's my adored '68 Oberlin, going onto a flatbed for a 1,200-mile transport after I bought her sight-unseen.)

What I didn't know, upon venturing into the trailer-ite realm, was the extent to which it would become about the people I would meet and gain as new friends.

In fact, when I overnighted alone (above), on the way to my initial group campout, I felt darn-near invisible. Not to mention dwarfed by the humongous, house-like RVs that most folks choose to own. (I had a trailer that was shorter than my truck!)

But when I got to the actual campout, I wasn't alone at all--I had instant new friends! Miss Grace, for instance (above), came right on over to introduce herself and tour my trailer, and we have been fast friends ever since.

 I met Miss Raunie, a fellow Idahoan--on her birthday, no less! Now I always look forward to seeing her   at campouts and catching up with a fishtail (Raunie's signature cocktail.)

Here I am after meeting Miss Margaret (on the right), who introduced me to the concept of 'camping silver' (old silver serving pieces kept just for dressing camping meals up to the nines). Loved it!

Eventually, Girl Camp evolved, and with it, more new friendships (Miss DeeAnn on the left, Miss Toni on the right). Yes, the guests all bring their darling trailers for long weekends, but the best part is hanging out together as friends who enjoy each other's company.

Now you know the real reason why we have the Girl Camping blog, and the Girl Camping Facebook page--as opened doors for the friendship factor and getting to know more of you.

Thanks for accepting the invitation!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Practice Tips For Backing Up Your Trailer

Q: How do you learn to back up a travel trailer, so you can go places with the girls and be able to get the trailer into its camping spot?

A: The same way you learn any other skill--practice, practice, practice.

We know so many would-be Girl Campers who let themselves be intimidated by the idea of having to back up a trailer, and who seldom go anywhere as a result. Without Hubby or Boyfriend to do the maneuvering for them, they're too afraid to try it.

If this is you, then stop and think about something:  Did you know how to back a car up safely and get it into a parking spot the first time you got behind the wheel? Betting not--you had to do some practicing first. Maybe quite a lot of practicing.

Learning to back your trailer is no different. You shouldn't expect to know how to do it simply because you'd like to!

So, here are a few tips to get you started on your course in Backer's Ed:

* Don't start by trying to back your trailer into your tricky driveway--the skills to do that are the very ones you need to develop first. Instead, find a large public parking lot or other piece of ground with plenty of empty room; this will be your initial practice area.

* Bring something to use as markers--whether it's a stack of orange highway cones, or even some disposable drink cups that you can fill with water (so they don't blow away) and that won't hurt your trailer if you run over them.

* It's also helpful to bring another person who can act as your spotter, calm your nerves, and give you feedback and encouragement.

* Begin by practicing your ability to back STRAIGHT. Until you can do that, making the minor adjustments it takes to STAY straight, attempting to back in an arc--which is necessary to get off the street and into a typical campsite--will frustrate you to no end.

* Start with your trailer lined up straight behind you; pull forward, if you must, in order to establish this straightness as a back-up starting point.

* Have your helper set up a straight line of markers on the driver's side, where you can clearly see them, about 2-3 feet or so away from the trailer's tires. Your mission will be to back along this marked line, making the minor steering adjustments needed to keep the trailer straight as it goes backward.

* If the trailer begins to veer in one direction or the other--which it most likely will until you get the feel for pushing a trailer backward as its hitch rests on the contact point of a 2-inch ball--simply stop, pull forward to straighten, and begin again.

* At first, you may have to do this every couple of feet: Stop, pull forward to straighten, and back up again. The more tries you make, the more inches you'll be able to add to each effort. Keep in mind that even the slightest turn of your steering wheel will magnify into a bigger turn by the time the moving energy of your rig gets the trailer moving.

* When you can back straight for a good 15 feet or so, set the markers a few feet farther out to the side, and begin to practice backing toward or away from the line of them. This is the introduction to learning how to maneuver around an arc and into a camping site.

* Make note of which way your trailer goes when you turn the wheel right or left. Tip: If you steer by holding the top of the wheel, turning it right will make the trailer go left, and vice versa. But if you steer by holding the bottom of the wheel, turning it right will make the trailer go right, and vice versa. Up to you as to which seems most comfortable to do--just be aware that the way you learn in practice is the same way you should steer when backing up 'for real.'

* Your helper/spotter should pay close attention and let you know if you're about to jackknife the trailer and hit it with your bumper. If this starts to happen, you're better off to pull forward into 'straight' and begin again than to try fixing things while still going backward.

* Take your time. It's just practice, remember? You'll need to do quite a bit of it before you will get the feel of how much steering-wheel action it takes to send your trailer in one direction or the other. (It's less than you may think!)

* Next--and this may need to be after you have lots and lots of practice at the other steps, over several sessions--have your helper set the markers on a large arc, and practice backing up while following the arc. This is the skill that will enable you to leave a street or lane, and back in an arc to get into your camping site. Start with a set of markers on your driver's side, backing an arc to the left.

* When you can manage that, set them on the passenger's side, and back an arc to the right. You'll have to use your passenger-side mirror, upping the degree of difficulty, but this is also necessary to learn, because you won't always have the chance to left-arc into a camping site. If you must pull forward and straighten up again and again, because the trailer has arced too hard, then do so, and don't make your steering action so drastic the next time you try it.

* Finally, using the skills you've developed, practice backing into one of the parking slots at the farthest, emptiest end of a parking lot. This will be the equivalent of backing into a campsite. The white or yellow lines on the asphalt will be no different than the lines you worked with using the markers. Give yourself plenty of time, take it slow, and you'll be able to do it, even if you have to make 20 attempts.

Get busy, get practicing, and we'll see you at a campground sooner rather than later!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Two Super-Useful Products to Keep On Hand

If your trailer's roof has ever leaked, or you have worries that it might, here is a product you'll be happy to have on hand:

Eternabond is a micro-sealant in tape form--like a roll of duct tape, only better--and many RV owners swear by it. It will bond to and seal any non-pressurized surface in minutes. Great product to keep on hand. The linked website has extensive information for your review. The site includes a store locator, but you also can order Eternabond directly from the site.

Jig-a-Loo is a spray-on lubricant in a can. It has water-proofing and rust-preventive properties, doesn't stain, and can be used on just about any surface. It'll lubricate your trailer's jack, its pull-out step, the awning rail, the door lock, the window latches--you name it. And, it'll also help repel water from exterior seams until you can get that old butyl tape replaced. (This is the putty-like substance installed to seal the seams; over time, it breaks down to create pinholes that can allow water to get in.) The product website gives you lots of ideas on how to put Jig-a-Loo to use.

As an adventuresome friend of Girl Camping Girl likes to say, there are few things as satisfying as having a good fix-it item at hand when you need it!