Getting ready!

This past weekend I convinced my husband to de-winterize the trailer.  I’m hoping that if the trailer is ready to go, that an impromptu camping trip is in my future when my college courses are over for the semester!  Crossing my fingers!

Anyhow, I decided to document how we de-winterize our trailer and will briefly talk about the steps that we took to prep the trailer.  My classmate, Jeff, also discussed this topic on his blog as well and I will refer to his steps, in case we missed a step this weekend!

WATER LINES:  The first thing we did was to remove the water filter housing unit and dump the anti-freeze liquid that we put in when we were done with camping season.  This helps prevent the water lines from freezing and bursting over the winter.  We then replaced the housing unit and filled it with water so that it is primed and ready for when we run the water.

Next up we needed to ensure that the water heater’s drain plug was fully closed before hooking up to our water source.  You need to make sure the water heater element is secured in the hot water unit.  My husband also added a new coat of teflon tape to make sure that it gets a good seal when screwing it in.

Now it’s time to fill the tanks!  We hooked the hose up to the trailer and began filling it up. We opened up the hot water valve and turned on the water pump to begin circulating the clean water through the lines to flush out the anti-freeze.  We prefer to run a full tank of water through the trailer to be sure it’s all cleaned out even though we never really drink water from the faucet in our trailer.  Once you’ve filled the lines, the pump should automatically stop running.  If the pump continues to run intermittently, quickly check all of your lines because that probably means you have a leak….like we did!  It never fails that at the start of the season, we have one small leak!  It’s easy to fix though, just attach it back to where it came loose from and you are back in business.


BATTERIES: The next step is to place your batteries back on the trailer.  We keep them on a charger over the winter so that they don’t go bad.  This helps preserve the life of your batteries.  We then plugged in our trailer and tested it over the weekend and everything looked great!

MISC: The last few steps include checking the tires and taking them for air if needed.  We also take the trailer to the sewer dump to have an empty tank for our first trip and to dump the water that we filled it with when de-winterizing.  Also, make sure all the lights work and there are no minor repairs that need to be done.

SPRING CLEANING:  We do a good thorough cleaning and re-stocking of supplies before we head out for the summer.  Nice to know that we have everything we need all ready to go and it gets me excited for the summer.  Once the trailer is fully cleaned, we usually have a camp-out in our driveway because our son is so excited to sleep in it!  I can’t blame him, because I get excited too!

What do your steps include in getting your trailer ready?  Did I miss a step?

Happy camping!




My Favorite Bear Story

Any long-time camper can tell you that it’s inevitable that you will run into all sorts of wildlife when camping.  Whether it’s deer, snakes, weird bugs, coyotes, mountain lion or bear, it’s good to remember that you are in their territory and to respect their home. We have had several bear encounters over the years and it’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time.  Terrifying because they are big, wild, unpredictable animals and exciting to be that close to nature and to see something up close that not everyone chooses to see!

My favorite bear story happened at a campground that’s only 30 minutes away from my home.  It’s called Indian Creek Reservoir and is a great little campsite.  This trip was different though because my non-camping parents were joining us in a trailer that they had rented for a week to “try out camping”.

The campsite was actually full, so we made camp right outside the camp area near a tiny airport landing strip off of Airport Road.  This is BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and is essentially FREE, dry camping.  Yes, I said FREE.  I wanted to show my parents how to “rough it” without having hook-ups to show them the variety of camping that we do.  They were thoroughly enjoying themselves and enjoying hanging with their grandson….until it was time to make dinner.

Before the sun set, we started to prepare our dinner of marinated chicken, salad and baked beans.  As the chicken was cooking on the grill, my husband walked 100 yards away and dumped the leftover marinade and raw chicken juice into the bushes.  As we were not at an official campsite, there were not any bear lockers or dumpsters.  So we all sat and ate our evening meal and after dinner we were sitting outside enjoying the early evening and admiring the pink and purple hued sky.

It was at that moment that I turned to look at the mountains and I saw a black shape off in the distance.  I thought nothing of it and turned back to join the conversation.  I turned my head back in that direction a few seconds later and the black shape was CLOSER.  It was in that split second that my brain deciphered what I had just seen and I JUMPED up out of my seat and yelled “BEAR, BEAR, BEAR”!  My parents, the city slickers, also jumped up and screamed and headed straight for the protection of the trailers.  That bear was headed straight for that chicken juice and marinade and was not leaving until he got what he came for.  We quickly rounded up anything that was an attractant within bear’s reach and threw everything in the trailers.  My son was terrified, my parents were even more terrified and my husband and I were trying to protect and secure camp, but man I was nervous too.  Needless to say, it was an early evening for all of us as we remained in our trailers for the rest of the night.  But that wasn’t the end of it.

My husband tried to scare that bear off by yelling and throwing rocks, but that bear was not leaving until he found the source of that delicious smell.  He found the bushes that had the marinade and was not satisfied with just the juice.  He circled our trailer and then my parent’s trailer.  We kept our eyes peeled for that bear all night but as soon as night fell, it was impossible to see anything that was past the immediate glow of our trailer lights.  It was virtually impossible to go to sleep that night.  My only comfort was knowing that my son was safer in my parent’s trailer that was fully enclosed.  My trailer on the other hand is a tent trailer, and when there are bear around, I don’t feel secure at all!

So, come midnight, as my husband and I were trying to sleep, I hear noises outside our trailer.  I immediately wake up (who am I kidding, I wasn’t asleep) to listen to where the noise is coming from and I know that bear is back in our camp.  TrailerI elbow my husband to get up and take a look.  Again, it’s so dark, that you can’t see anything outside.  Then I heard the noise coming from directly under my bed.  See that zipped tent portion?  That’s where I sleep.  I sat up from bed and peered out the tent screen.  Directly below me was a very large black bear right below me…1 foot away.  I was TERRIFIED and could not believe my eyes.  My husband was then right beside me and all we could do was remain perfectly still.  The bear knew we were there as they have a good sense of smell and he was just looking for the food.  He ended up leaving us alone and I ended up not sleeping a wink, but WOW, that is a story that I will never, ever forget.  My favorite bear story.

Do you have a close encounter that you can share?  Tell me all about it!

Happy Camping!



Helpful Trailer Organization

The first year that we had our trailer, I felt very disorganized and wasn’t quite sure how to make our trailer more efficient and organized.  I needed to figure out our routine of where I wanted stuff to be stored to easily access what I wanted and when I wanted it.  I also noticed several areas that were essentially wasted space in our trailer that could be used to help us organize.

The first thing I did was run to Wal-Mart and get the Command Adhesive Utility Hooks.  These things are awesome and can be put anywhere!  I have several near each side of our mattresses to use as sweatshirt/jacket hooks and I also have some on the inside of the bathroom door to hang towels.  They are a cheap way to get junk off the bed and couch and keeps the trailer looking tidy!

command hooks

Photo Credit: Wal-Mart


Again, same idea…I purchased the smaller hooks from the Command line of products and we placed these right by the front door for an easy place to hang the truck keys, trailer keys, hitch keys, etc.  Very useful to keep them in sight…I know it is very easy to lose things out in the wild.  We also have used these hooks to hang sunglasses to keep them from getting scratched and/or squished!

Another cheap item that I purchased for the trailer was a set of magnetic chip clips.  I actually love this idea because they are stuck to the hood of my stove-top area.  It’s nice to have them near where we store our chips and no matter how bumpy the road to the campsite is, they stay put. When not in use, I’ve clipped our campsite information up there as well as cocktail recipes and camp meal lists.  The only hard part is remembering to leave them in the trailer!

The last organization tip that I have has to do with the large vertical storage space that we have in our trailer (see snapshot of inside of trailer).  It is a tall, long space that I was never entirely sure what to do with it.   I’m sure some campers use it as closet and I know that we have used it to store trash bags and cleaning supplies such as a broom and dustpan, but I was never really satisfied with our use of such a large space.  My friend gave me the idea to use a simple 3-tier shelf that you would find in the bathroom storage section at your local Wal-Mart.  After finding a shelf that had dimensions that could work, I tried it out and have been pretty happy with it.  I now use that area to store paper plates, napkins and miscellaneous snacks that my kid can reach!


Vertical storage space where I put the shelving


Photo Credit: Wal-Mart

What are some of your organizational tips?  I would love to hear what you put in that vertical storage space!!  Please share!

Happy camping!



Campground Review: Topaz Lake

Topaz Lake is a reservoir located off Highway 395 on the Nevada-California border and is about 20 minutes south of Gardnerville, NV.  Topaz Lake is popular for fishing and boating and each year has a fishing derby on New Years Day!  The lake is stocked by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  I have seen some pretty big fish come out of that lake, but none by us!

A group of us went camping a few years back and initially, I was not sure about it because what I knew of Topaz was that there were very few trees….and I absolutely love camping in the trees.  So I was sceptical.

We camped at the Topaz Lake Recreation Area which is managed by Douglas County, NV. I also have seen that there is another place to camp called Topaz Lake RV Park but I have not camped at that location.  To camp at the Topaz Lake Recreation Area, you can reserve a site by calling the phone numbers provided on the website.  The site has 15 reservable sites with water and power and 13 non-reservable sites with water only.  The recreation area also has 42 dry campsite.  This recreation area has a boat ramp close by, toilets and showers.  That pretty much sums up the amenities that this place has to offer, but if you have everything you need in your trailer, you don’t need much else!


Terrain around the RV spots

Overall, the campsite was decent…it had lots of gravel and it seemed like a concrete jungle, but we still had a good time.  I really liked that it was a short walk from the trailers to get down to the lake where we set up our camp chairs and enjoyed the sun!  The kids loved playing in the water all day and our sunburns let us know when it was time to take a break!  A word of caution, there are rattlesnakes in the area and after the ranger eradicated the unlucky snake, a camper in our group was lucky enough to get to keep the tail.  Needless to say she was rattling the tail all weekend as her camping treasure!

I would definitely consider going back to camp at Topaz Lake, especially for the fact that it’s a quick escape when we only have a short weekend to camp.

lake view

View of the lake

Have you ever been to Topaz Lake?  What did you think?  Please share!

Happy Camping!



Custom Camping Accessories

I don’t know about you, but anything that I can customize makes the item that much cuter!  After camping in my trailer for several years now, we pretty much have all that we need.  But there are always little “extras” that we see when we are out and about to upgrade our current gear.  Some of the personalized or custom items that we have purchased are discussed below!

Personalized Double Duty Caddy from Thirty One Gifts:  I recently decided to purchase this item because of all the group meals that we have when we go camping.  I think it’s a neat, organized way to take all of the “fine china” out to the buffet area.  I plan on loading it up with paper plates, napkins, salt, pepper and there are even side pockets for utensils.  I think this is going to be a great way to set the table and I love that I won’t have “dish duty” when using this item!  This item will cost you $25 plus personalization.

New customized caddy

Personalized Oh-Snap Bins:  I purchased two of these last year to hold our utensils in the overhead storage compartments in our trailer and I also bring them out to the group meal table during meal time.  I’ve also seen these used in the bathroom to organize toiletries, cotton balls, Q-tips, etc.  Although I think these are super cute, I wish they were a little more sturdy and didn’t slouch so much.  I’m hoping that the company’s next version of these will be a bit sturdier.  These bins cost $10 each, plus personalization costs.

oh snap

Photo Credit: Thirty-One Gifts

The last item that I will discuss today is a custom camp sign that I personally hand painted!  My camping gal pals and I decided to have a craft night, which conveniently included some cocktails and we each painted a custom camping sign.  We trolled through pinterest and once we found the design we wanted, we each brought a piece of wood and got to painting.  We used basic crafting paint that I had at home and once the artwork was dry, I drilled holes on the top and added some knotted rope.  We definitely never claimed to be artists, but I was pretty happy with the way that my custom camping sign turned out!

Some of my original possibilities

And here’s what I ended up with!

campfire sign

Look how cute my sign looks!


Have I given you any ideas on how to customize your camping experience?  What have you customized?  Please share!

Photo Credit for Collage

Happy Camping!


Campground Review: 49er Village, Plymouth, CA

Far Horizons 49er Village RV Resort is located in Plymouth, CA, right in the heart of California’s Gold and Wine Country.  We stayed at 49er Village on a busy Labor Day holiday weekend a few years back.  This was the first “RV Resort” we had ever stayed at and this was the first place we stayed that had full hook-ups.  I can’t tell you how amazing it was to run the air conditioning in our trailer for the first time while in that 90 degree heat!

As I mentioned earlier, this was our first venture to the RV Resort world and I remember that my first impression was how close all the trailers were to each other.  We had been used to camping in the “wild” and this RV resort was definitely not in the wild and was, in fact, right off of a little highway.  Each RV site has full hook-ups and a small patch of grass on either side and picnic tables.  The area is paved and is very family friendly.  The kids in our group rode their bikes and go karts all around and were perfectly fine.  There were times throughout the weekend that the RV resort seemed very busy and bustling with activity, but I will attribute that to the fact that we were visiting on a holiday weekend.

49er Village has many amenities that include  2 swimming pools, enclosed spa tub, billiards, volleyball courts, shuffleboard courts, laundry facilities, cafe, gift shop and wi-fi.  The resort also has a large pond on site and the kids absolutely loved catching giant bullfrogs!  I can attest that the swimming pools are a popular attraction and was filled to the brim with kids.  The resort employees even have special events planned on these holiday weekends such as the poolside boat race that they had for the kids one afternoon.  Upon arrival to the resort, the employees provide you with their guest guide, which is a nicely put together guide with resort information and things to do in the area.

Speaking of things to do in the area, there are wineries, golf courses, historical points of interest and our favorite, Apple Hill.  We planned our weekend so that the men of the group played golf at two different courses while the ladies and the kids spent the day in Apple Hill.  If you haven’t been, definitely check it out!  They have lots of cute shops, petting zoos, wineries, produce and anything you ever wanted to eat that was apple flavored!  The other great outing this is very close to 49er Village is the Black Chasm Cavern, National Landmark.  I highly recommend this and it’s definitely worth a visit!


Overall, the best part about 49er Village is the location and I would stay there again, however I was not thrilled about being so close to your neighbor in the tight RV spots and the resort seemed a little worn.  For additional reviews on this resort, check out RV Park

Have you ever been to 49er Resort?  Does this resort make it on your list?  Please share!

Happy Camping!


Now what?! A new camping hobby

If anyone has a young kid, you know that’s the question that is asked as soon as there is an idle moment.  “Mom, I’m bored…now what can we do?”  Kids aren’t known for just relaxing, reading a book and enjoying the quiet time as adults like to do.  This is especially true for parents with an only child, as is our case.  We love having an only child, but that just means that he doesn’t have siblings to play with and that his companions are mom and dad, so we continually have to have things planned or think of fun things to do.

Of course, when camping we have the standard items that we bring with us to keep our little man busy.  They include the following:  bike, scooter, electric scooter, jump rope, a small bin of toys, homework if we are camping during the school year, and the always favorite iPad.  But this past year, we started a hobby that our 7-year-old absolutely loves and that is GEOCACHING!

Geocaching, as I like to put it, is an outdoor scavenger hunt where you use your GPS or cell phone to find the locations and/or coordinates.  Once you find the cache, you log it in to the app (which posts a smiley face on every one you find) and sign your name on the paper log that can be found in the cache container.  Caches come in all different sizes and containers (see image below) and we have tried to find many where we were ultimately unsuccessful, but that’s part of the fun too.   My son’s favorite caches are the ones where you can take knickknacks and leave one behind.  Most are little treasures (or oddities), but to a kid, it is so cool!  I get more joy out of watching him find one of these and write his name down than anything else! That’s pretty much all there is to it!


Screenshot of the Geocaching app

On one of our group camping trips to Graeagle, our friends brought along someone who was an avid geocacher and she showed us the ropes and got us hooked!  We eventually convinced everyone to go on a geocaching outing one afternoon and we had the best time!  This is a hobby that we will always try to do each time we are out camping!

Have you tried geocaching?  Download the app and you will be amazed at how many are near you!  Please share with me your geocaching stories, I would love to hear it!