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It's How We Like to Camp!

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STORIES  
Some are funny anyway...

As you can probably tell, I love to tell stories. Some of the stories here are just my ramblings, other stories are actual happenings, and some are even funny. Over all the years we've camped there have been many memories, and some were just too good to keep to ourself.

A Bit of History - Both of us grew up camping, Donna with her parents in all sorts of campers, and Tim with an aunt and scouts in tents. Our first camping trip together was with friends in a two person tent that had a tempermental zipper. The night ended up with a drinking game and Tim got way too drunk. It didn't end up well, but we'll tell that story down below.

In the Beginning..... When we decided to buy a pop-up we really did not know a thing about them other than they were a nice step up from a tent. With two young kids it was also a great way to get them camping without the hassles of tenting. So we bought the Dutchmen from a dealer a friend recommended. The salesperson was great, letting us know what options were available and what kinds of other accessories we would need. We opted for the roof top A/C over a furnace since we're more fair weather campers. On our first outing we camped at a close by park. Did everything the dealer showed us to set up, but the roof would not fully extend. We messed around with the thing for 30-40 minutes before the issue was figured out, two of the lift posts were jamming. Another 15 minutes and one cut hand later I get it unjammed and raised the roof. On Monday the dealer scheduled service with us. The next outing results in the same problem, but at least I know what to do now. Back to service again, and we actually get through two trips without problems. Into the next year our first trip and, yep same problem starts again. Back to service, but this time they oil the posts with so much oil there are puddles on each corner. Another problem with the over-oiling is fingerprints, there are greasy mechanics fingerprints all over our canvas by every lift post. We are able to take a planned long trip this spring ('95) but still have issues with the lift posts. By mid-summer the roof is leaking right over the door. During one torrential rain storm the water was coming in like a waterfall. We contacted the factory to register our complaint about the lift posts, leaky roof, and poor service from the dealer. So we got scheduled with another dealer about 90 minutes away to replace the roof. The shop manager there was real nice and took it personal to fix our camper. In the end they put four roofs on until they got it right, or so they thought. Within a couple trips the roof would drop down crooked, and two people needed to push from each opposite corner to close it. 

The factory then scheduled us to have the camper fixed through them. After camping on Labor Day 1995 we dropped it off at the factory in northern Indiana. The factory called in mid-November saying that our camper was fixed. We scheduled to pick it up on Monday following Thanksgiving weekend. Arriving we were escorted to the assembly floor where our pop-up sat, all closed up and ready to roll. They were already telling me where to pull the van in to hitch up, but we weren't leaving without an inspection. Opening it up the lift worked OK, even though there was a loud pop about half way up. They were so nice telling us what all they did, like re-painting the frame, not that that had anything to do with the problems. Then the canvas, it was worse now than before we brought it in. I told them we were not leaving with the canvas in that shape, and stated it was the factory that told the dealer to use so much oil and that's where most of the fingerprints came from. So three of the factory managers surround me and begin asking questions, one asking another before I can answer the first. After a few minutes of this I get mad, real mad, and tell them then talk to our lawyer. We are not leaving with the camper in that shape. So they back down, and agree to replace the canvas. However they no longer have canvas, they have switched to Sunbrella, if that was acceptable to us. We agree, and they ask for 2 hours to put it on. (That was the best fight ever won that still is paying off to this day. I'm quite sure that when it was stored for nearly seven years the canvas would have rotted beyond use. The Sunbrella still looks nice 20+ years later.) When we return our pop-up is sitting on the factory floor open and looking good with the new Sunbrella on it. We close it, open it up again and with everything in good order we pack up and head home. Two years later the roof is leaking again. By this time they have been deluged with numerous roof replacements and continue to deny our 10 year warranty. This is before really knowing what to do but add more caulk to the seam on the roof. It slowed the leak down, but not completly. However since Tim had just lost his job, and we ended up moving to the big city in 2000, to storage it went until 2007.

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I'm pretty sure this is the first picture taken of the new camper

One of my favorite camping stories I tell is the night we camped in a local park with two grandsons. Three young guys pull in just at dark and set up a tent next to us, then disappear. Right about 2 AM they come rolling in, drunk as can be. They turn on the radio, crack open beers, and start a campfire. They get loud and I holler out to them it's 2 AM and we have babies sleeping here. We get maybe five minutes of quiet before I have to holler again. About fifteen minutes later the guy across the road comes over and tells them shut up or he's calling the ranger. Ten minutes later it's loud again, I holler again, the guy across the road comes back over to tell them shut up. Now about 3:15 AM the ranger pulls up, tells them they have to be quiet or else leave. Before long they are back at it. Guy across the street returns, they argue. 4:10 AM the ranger rolls back in, this time he says go to bed or he is escorting them out. It finally gets quiet!
As much as we're groggy I'm out making coffee at 7:30 AM when the guy across the road comes over. He asks if everyone is awake and do we mind if he makes a little noise?
I say sure, not knowing what he was up to. Well he goes to his camper and returns with a brick of firecrackers, lights it up and tosses it next to the drunk guys tent. The firecrackers are really loud, and go off for over five minutes.
When the noise stops the three guys climb out of their tent, blurry eyed and squinting against the sun. They toss everything they own into the tent, cooler, radio, clothes, food and all, dump it into the back of their truck and drive away.

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Donna with our grandson on that drunk guys weekend

The Story from History- As mentioned above our first camping trip together was in a small two man tent with the tempermental zipper. We ended up in a drinking game with our friends until the rest of the campground was hollering at us to go to bed! The game was putting one less slice of lemon in the center of the table than there were drinkers. You'd start with the salt ready on your hand. On the count of three it was lick the salt, take the shot of tequila, then go for a slice of lemon. Whoever didn't get a lemon was out until only one drinker was left. Then we'd start over until we managed to finish off two bottles of tequila. Tim won many of the rounds, and when we headed to bed, finally, he passed out. 
About 5 AM Tim wakes up, sick as a dog. Trying to open the zipper it gets stuck, he is still way drunk but has to puke. Gets the zipper open far enough to stick his head out. Later he's found lying with his head out the tent, body inside, with a nasty pile next to him. Donna bans Tim from tequila forever! Suprised she ever wanted to go camping with him again.

So fast forward to 2007, we've moved to the big city, the two younger kids are involved with school sports and clubs, and we haven't explored any parks yet. The internet has boomed where you can now find lots of information. Research showed me the best thing to repair the roof would be EternaBond Tape. So one day after ordering the tape, son and I get in the camper to assess damage. After sitting for almost 7 years unopened we don't know what to expect.  
Well all things were good except the rotten wood above the door. We fixed this and cleaned the camper up. It was ready to do more camping. On the Roof Repair page I've got more detail.

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Our 1994 Dutchmen 1002XS right after the roof repair

Donna always says she was conceived in a pop-up, which is why camping is in her blood. Anyway as a child while camping with her parents one outing, she figured out how to slip out of the pop-up by unfastening the bungee cords under the bunk. Late one night she snuck out this way, wandered the campground for a bit being her cute self, begging treats, until one parent thought why is this young girl wandering on her own so late at night? Brought to the campfire in front of their site where her parents were partying they wondered how she got out without being seen. She kept that a secret till a few trips later when she got caught slipping out.

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Donna (youngest) camping with her sisters and grandma

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Probably one of my favorite times camping was when #1 grandson caught his first fish. We had been fishing most of the day without luck. I had been teaching him some tricks of mine and what to do when he felt a bite. Late into the afternoon I was done fishing, but stayed close because grandson didn't want to give up yet. Before too long he was hollering, and to my suprise he had caught his first fish!

We joined a camping club in 2014, Great Lakes Pop Up Club or GLPUC. Can't remember how we found them but we have already met a couple of real nice people through the club. Of course camping with a group one of the best things is a Pot-Luck Dinner. Everyone brings something different and it's like a smorgasborg! Then there are the nightly campfires where everyone sits around and tells stories, chats or just chills. There is a link on the links page to GLPUC.org but this works too. Unfortunately the club has seen a big downturn in activity on the forum so it was shut down. Now they use the FaceBook groups only, however some states have their own Facebook group.

Rude Camper Story - We had just set up when the people in the next site pull in. As much as they have a longer driveway and pad than us, they drive off the gravel into the grass behind our site. I walk back and tell them they are on our site, and that they really aren't supposed to be off the gravel pad. They did move behind their site but stayed off the gravel, at the edge of the woods behind the sites. That wasn't my concern but that left only one exit route for their vehicle, through the trees directly behind our camper. Once for them to get out was OK, but then a friend shows up and he drives off the gravel to the back of the site, forcing him to drive behind our camper to get out. At least he parks on the driveway later. But then their kids show up and they proceed to drive off the gravel to unload, then drive right behind us. Since our grandkids are playing behind there I've had enough and call the ranger. Of course when the ranger shows up they are all gone, but I explain what's been happening. The ranger says she'll be back. By the time the ranger returns the neighbors have come back, driven off the driveway again back out across our site. The ranger goes back and talks to them. Problem should be fixed, she says.
Around 10 PM there's a knock at our door, the lady from the site says she didn't want us to think they were assholes (her words) and it won't happen again. My first thought is what is she thinking coming to our camper at that time of night knowing we have children with who are probably sleeping. I really wanted to tell her off right then and there, but didn't want to escalate the issue.
Next day as we're packing up, so are they but they are done first. They drag their feet a bit but then yep, here they come right behind us yet again. As they pull out onto the street I grumble loudly "Someone needs to read the campground rules before they camp again!"
Doubt that will change their ignorance, basically slob campers who could care less about rules and nature. We also noticed they headed into the woods often all weekend and assume they were using it as their bathroom. GROSS!

So just before our last trip of the season I'd been having a online conversation on Pop Up Explorer (PUX) with buddy ScoobyDoo, and we ended up talking about our camping activities. He mentioned his wife would take a sewing machine and work on quilting while camping. I jested him and said my wife would not be allowed to bring her sewing machine camping! Well, then had to open my big mouth and mention to Donna the chatter I'd been having on PUX. She thought it was funny, but the next night while I'm over the grill cooking dinner she comes out and says "Since it's just the two of us this weekend I'm bringing the little sewing machine along."
"No way" I reply, with a grin. I already knew it was a battle not worth fighting.

Our camping was cut short in 2016 while we waited to close on our new house. What was supposed to be an early October close ended up to be mid-November. It was one issue after another with FHA inspections until the seller got all the issues repaired. One big selling point for Tim was the garage. We went from an attached and tight one car garage to a detached and over sized two car garage. The pop up fits in there so nice with room to actually walk around it. Just did my last mod in there too.

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So after chatting through Pop Up Explorer for close to 10 years with another pop up owner, we began talking about meeting up to camp with a couple other members. Well it ended up that one member and us met up. We found a nice campground about half way between where we lived, and camped together for a few days. Never thought that would be something we'd ever do, but it turned out fun. Besides camping we found a few other things in common. That was in July 2017 and the weather was hot, up to 112° heat index with strong winds the first few days. 

So the 2017 camping season is over. I didn't even count how many nights camping this year, but my guess is around 30. This year brought a couple of repairs and mods. The kitchen counter was replaced due to water damage from a leaky faucet. During that repair a water pump and standard faucet were installed. Donna loves that change, and so do the grandkids who now run the water like at home. That led to another mod, adding wheels to the gray tank. The next mod was adding an outside drain access to the water tank. Since we began to use a lot more water in the pop up, filling the tank was a necessity. The drain access was inside under a dining seat, and we were always forgetting to close the drain valve. Carrying 5 gallon totes of water was a pain, so this enabled the tank drain to be opened or closed from the outside. Now we can stop and fill the tank before parking at the site. There is more info on these mods here

WOW, is it really spring again? 2018 looks to be a good year for camping. We have our first reservation in the books, but the rest of the year may be hit & miss due to an upcoming surgery. I have one mod planned for spring, and that is replacing the foam in all the seats. We were lucky enough to find a king sized mattress a local camper was giving away, so it's going to be sliced up for each cushion. The foam in the seats now is original, soft and breaking down. After sitting for a few minutes you sink to the wood underneath. I'll add pictures to the mod page after the job is done. Seat foam mod info is here

5-4-18 Just a week away for our first camping trip of the season. The pop up has been stocked up with camping essentials, the seat foam replaced, and the water tank sanitized and flushed. The biggest shock was when our granddaughter said she didn't want to go camping! WHAT? She camped with us at 3 days old, and hasn't let us go without her since. I bet she'll change her tune once she gets to camp! It's the same site as her first time.

First trip of the 2018 season was good. The weather was hot, near 90°. We camped in the site we always try to stay in for Mother's Day weekend, same one granddaughter camped with us when she was 3 days old. Another tradition we've been doing in this site is have the g-kids sit on the old fallen tree at the back of the site and take their picture. They've always loved to play on and around it. Here's their pictures, left one from 2012 and right one from this year, 2018, with the addition of another g-kid.

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Father's Day weekend camp was another HOT one. In the 90's again. So glad our A/C can still give you goosebumps when it's cranked up on high! We stayed at Winton Woods, same site where we had the drunk guy weekend years ago. This weekend the campground was full, but it stayed quiet. No barking dogs, no one who set off their car alarm in the middle of the night, and no drunks! 

Below is our site, and a picture of our youngest grandson watching Mickey Mouse with grandma.


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Well it's been a while since I updated this site. Been having some tow vehicle issues which cut into our camping time, and our budget.
Coming back from camp in mid-July the Blazer just lost power coming up a long steep hill on the freeway. Close enough to limp it home at 30-35 MPH. It got hot, but next day after cooling down it ran fine. Next trip out and it happens again. Had to leave it on side of road and switch vehicles. Good thing Donna was following. Went and picked it up later, ran fine for most of the way to camp. Next day decided to take it home and I didn't even get out of the campground before it lost power. Had it towed home to the tune of $200. Repaired a couple of issues I thought to be the problem, and it ran good around town the next two weeks. So hitched up to head to camp mid-August, got half way there and Blazer loses power again. Donna and son come to rescue me, switch vehicles again and we park the Blazer off the freeway in a Park & Ride lot. Next day it doesn't even make it to the freeway entrance, and son has to rescue me with a tow dolly.
So off to the shop. Our mechanic said it runs like a potato is stuck in the tailpipe, catalytic converter is shot. They tore apart the exhaust system, cleaned and replaced everything, and the Blazer has it's old power back!

Other than that, camping was nice besides the vehicle issues. Donna & Tim camped for four days alone out at East Fork State Park. We met a few of the neighbors, and they came over in the evening to sit by the fire and chat. Of course sharing our Dutch Oven Nachos helped break the ice! It poured rain on Saturday, and our site became a river front site for a few hours!

Mid-August we camped with our our son and his family, and our daughter and her family. Five adults and 6 grandkids, whew. The cousins enjoyed playing together again, in the pool, and with some of the neighbor children.

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Our site at East Fork

Camper at Night

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Our site at Big Bone

Night Time Fun

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Nachos in the Dutch Oven

Pool Fun with Cousins

So we finished the 2018 season with a camp out at our favorite park, Miami Whitewater. We actually got one of our old favorite sites too! The weather was perfect, 70's during the daytime and mid-50's in the evening. We finally finished burning all the wood the neighbor gave us this spring, we didn't have to buy any all year! The mosquitos were thick though, glad I replensished the Therma-Cell refills last week. Still need to set up and do a clean up for the winter nap, but we're holding out just in case we get another chance to camp.
 
Ahh Haa- we were able to get one more trip in October. Of course just as the weather turned. We prepared, brought 2 small space heaters and bought a new electric blanket. It rained Friday night then the temperture really dropped. Saturday was sunny but windy, with the wind picking up as the day went on. We took in a local Pumpkin Festival Saturday afternoon, but by evening the wind was dropping branches out of the trees and the temp went down to 35°. By 7:30 it was too cold and windy to even stay warm by the fire. Then about 4 AM Sunday morning our neighbor decides to start his noisy van, which was parked about ten feet from our head. Poor guy and his son were probably freezing since they were in a tent. I knew he wasn't much of a camper when I had to help him start a fire Saturday morning so he could cook breakfast. That raw bacon in a pan over a candle sized flame wasn't going to cook very fast, and the poor kid looked quite hungry. We could have offered them a heater or heavy sleeping bags if they would have told us how unprepared they actually were. Oh well. 

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Miami Whitewater Sept 29,2018

Last Campfire

2019
So we started the year off on our usual starting weekend, Mother's Day, and in our favorite site at Miami-Whitewater. This year our daughter & son-in-law and their family joined us in their new to them travel trailer. The weather was way different this year dipping down to the upper 40's at night. Last year it was in the 90's! The grandkids had fun being able to roam around two campsites together, and two campers to find snacks in.
Of course the annual "Log Sitting" picture was taken.

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Log Sitting 2019

Camping Mother's Day 2019

Our second camp this year was at Winton Woods. Daughter and family camped next to us in their trailer. The weather stayed nice all weekend and we stayed until Monday. The grandkids had fun on their bike and scooter, and watching the boats pass by on the lake. 

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Camp Winton Woods June 2019

Granddaughter on new bike

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Lake View from camp

Grandson on his scooter

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My new coffee mug

Campfire

Well it's hard to believe summer 2019 has already gone. We still camp through October around here, after that it just gets too cold. We have a few campouts reserved already, and one last one to figure out.
Here's a few pictures from the last few trips we've taken-

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Miami-Whitewater

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Miami-Whitewater

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The racoons were thick at Miami-Whitewater. The cooler gets locked through the handles with a broom handle to keep them out.

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The racoons wanted in the grill too. Besides the varmint problem prices have been raised, the water park closed so doubt we'll camp here again.

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Camping at Versailles State Park

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The site we had was huge

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This is Versailles Lake from the top of the dam

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These are all the stairs you have to climb to see the lake from the top of the dam

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We headed back to Versailles State Park for our final camp of the 2019 season. We had beautiful weather and visited a pumpkin farm.