camping · Life · RVing · travel · winter

Winter Camping? You can do ‘et!

I did a terrible job on our last outing. I didn’t make one video or take any photos. But, in my defense, it was a working vacation in January. By the time I got back to camp from work, there was no sun and outdoor activities were curtailed by the cold. There’s a lot of back story, so bear with me.

It all started on January 5th when I got my layoff notice. To maximize my job prospects, we decided we could be semi-relocatable by hauling the camper to a new job location. We’ve camped during every season except winter, so we thought we should give winter camping a try to see if it was going to be bearable.

To complicate matters, I had little vacation time built up and needed to save every hour because the company will pay me for any vacation hours left when my termination date finally comes. So I had to work. The obvious choice was Monte Sano State Park just 30 minutes from our house. Work is situated between the house and the park, so the commute was about the same. It helped that the AL park system is running a winter special where Monday thru Thursday was 25% off the regular rate. We booked Sunday to Sunday for the last week of January slash first week of February, and set camp on a full-hookup site, number 11.

We learned much about winter camping. First, I found a great, local place to get my propane tanks refilled. If you shopping for an RV, try to get one with two propane tanks. This allows you to take one in for a refill without disrupting anything. Also, only run one tank at a time so you don’t run them out simultaneously.

Two, plastic gets very brittle in the cold. I broke the ears off the gray tank valve handle and the discharge cap’s bayonet by being a little aggressive. OK, I was just heavy-handed and clumsy. We also lost a brand-new water filter when the temps dropped below freezing on Saturday. The external hose was frozen until about 10 AM when the sun finally thawed things out. That’s when the filter exploded and sprayed everywhere. It’s OK. I ordered 4 the last time we bought filters. Always have a spare and drip the faucets if possible when a freeze is coming.

Three, if we do have to full-time it in the winter, I’m going to need cologne. Getting out of the shower is down right painful when it’s near freezing and the exhaust fan is running. I’d probably only shower every other day (or less) if we were wintering in cold weather.

Four, we can stay pretty comfortable with just a space heater. We did fire up the propane central heater when we first got to camp, just to get it up to tolerable temperature, but after that initial 30 minutes, the space heater is all we ran for the duration of the trip. It’s a columnar model like the fan we bought. It has a small footprint. Puts out decent heat. Has a thermostat to regulate the temperature. And I got it for $20 from a neighbor. Score!

In the end, I got a replacement handle for the gray tank valve and a new discharge cap. Oh, and this was the first time we got to sleep on the new memory foam mattress we put in a few months back. If I’d known a layoff was coming, I probably wouldn’t have spent the $170, but we’re both so glad we did. The OEM mattress was useless at best and painful at worst. The new one is fantastic. Maybe it’s just fantastic in comparison to the old one, but we slept like the dead on it.

We determined that we can live in the camper for extended periods, in any weather. I don’t think we’re up to full timing it, but 4 to 8 week runs are certainly within the realm of reality. Hopefully, we don’t have to relocate. I’m trying hard to find a job here. I have until the end of April, then who knows?


2 thoughts on “Winter Camping? You can do ‘et!

  1. That was quite a trip all the way around! Can’t blame it all on it being in the winter, though. The surroundings were creepy. The fog and bare trees that were all slumped over like they were walking around with broken bones are not a sight I will go looking for ever again. Mozart running around like he was possessed and me getting sick were also factors on making that trip being an epic fail. BUT, I am excited for the next trip. When are we going?

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