Monthly Archives: March 2015

Maiden Voyage & a Review of Riverpark Campground

My husband, Chad, had scheduled some time off a while back. So, it was heading into Spring and I made us a camping reservation. The weather had been gorgeous. In the 70’s!

Well, until we were supposed to leave! Yeah, each day I looked at the forecast for the weekend, and each day it got colder. I asked Chad if he was willing to still camp, even if it was cold. Like, freezing. He was game, and I was dying to try camping. So, there we went…

All set up and ready to rock
All set up and ready to rock

Our first set up went better than I’d hoped. Took maybe 20 minutes to get backed in, leveled, hooked up & popped up. Then, about another 10 to get the door set. UGH. Turns out we just weren’t putting enough muscle behind it, and the little latch on the top panel that connects to the door is a little um… stubborn. But, we got it done!

The best part is that the furnace on our Popup works wonderfully! It will run you out of the camper, as a matter of fact! But, with the temps in the low 20s. the canvas let some pretty cold air in there. You didn’t notice it unless you were in the bed. But, we had more than a furnace. We had heated mattresses!

For real! Did you even know they made such a thing? I had no idea, and they are GREAT! They go from 1 to 6. Basically 1 is barely warm, and 6 is pretty much like a skillet. LOL!

We stayed snug as bugs in rugs. So, that was awesome. Between the wonderfully warm bed, and the white noise “machine,” we had going, we had some of the best sleep we have had in ages.

What white noise machine, you ask? Well, it’s not so much a machine…

The Rapids
The Rapids

That’d be some rapids in the Nolichucky river, in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Our camper was right beside them. The noise was heavenly. You couldn’t hear another sound from the campers nearby. It was like our lullabye. A very thorough lullaby, too. Holy cow, we slept more this weekend than we have in ages. But, with it being so cold, what else was there to do? Nothing! So, sleep, read, and eat, we did!

Of course, we spent a lot of time figuring out where the best places are to store things. And, figuring things out. Such as, figuring out that the cookware I’d snagged ages ago on clearance was on clearance for a reason. One use, and the exterior paint flaked off. That simply cannot be safe, so we dumped it in the dumpster as we left.

Also, we figured out that we had gotten much too long a gray water hose. Everything I read said to get a super long one, so I got a 50 foot hose. Oh, my goodness… we were like 2 feet away from the sewer connection. So, all the loops pretty much mean that we had not enough pressure to push the water thru the hose. So, we wound up lopping off a good portion of the hose. I’m guessing I’ll be buying a couple of 15 foot hoses, so we can put them together if necessary, but not have a 45 extra feet of hose we don’t need.

We also figured out that the exterior hose that brings water in for us to drink… will freeze if it’s cold enough! Luckily, figured it out BEFORE it froze all the way thru. I turned on the tap to brush my teeth, and the stream of the water was tiny. Uh-oh! Luckily, running it a minute or two cleared it right up. We just left it running a tiny, tiny steam all night and nothing froze up. Phew! That could have gone badly!

We’d packed up a cool of drinks, and we left them outside. The ice froze to the drinks. But, the drinks didn’t freeze solid, so that worked out well!

The cooler was warmer!
The cooler was warmer!

Cooking-wise, our plan was to cook with the stove in the outside bracket. But, we nixed that with the temps. We just cooked inside. I figured with it being a first trip, I’d keep it ridiculously easy. Mostly pre-prepared foods, or at least semi-prepared. Refrigerated tortellini and sauce, a fried hamburger. Some pre-peeled, pre-seasoned homefries. They all did well. Except, of course, the lousy pans. But, that could have been much worse.

All in all, we had a lazy, easy first trip.

Where: Riverpark Campground
Site #32, which is a “riverfront” site and was $41 per night. You get a 10% discount if you have a Good Sam membership. The non-riverfront slots are $31, I think. They have 30 amp, 50 amp and even tent sites.
Each site has a huge fire ring with a flip-over grill.

There is a camp store, and the staff are just beyond friendly. They even joked with me when they found out it was our first time ever camping. They said they were going to bring chairs, sit around and watch us! They also have an adorable little dog that is just as polite and friendly as can be. They have everything in the store from t-shirts to s’mores forks and slim jims. You name it, they seem to have it. $5 firewood bundles.

We had to get our propane tank refilled while there. A 20 pound tank was only $12.95 to refill. I thought that was excellent. Super-fast, too.

Pandora has no potty, so we were pleased to find that there were 2 potty options and they were both pretty darn nice! Just at the river was a small, single bathroom. It was heated, had a nice sink and hand soap. That was nice to be able to run out to in the middle of the night.

Then, just across from the store, is the main bathhouse. Each toilet in its own little room, and each shower (2 of them) are in their own room, plenty of room in each. Several hooks, a little pull-down bench and a shower unit. SO CLEAN. I can’t say that I saw a single speck of dust anywhere.
Also, in the “entry” area of the bathroom, is a row of sinks and also a large counter with a mirror. Plenty of hot water, so that was a blessing and a plus!

Now that I’m home, I realize I should have taken pictures of so much more. The bathhouses, the other campsites, the camp store and it’s adorable dog. Well, I guess I live and learn on this one, and the next time we camp, I’ll take pictures of everything.

And, hopefully, it will be WARM!!!!

Say what?!

I had no idea, but camping has its own language. And, Pop Up Campers have their own dialect of this language. I’ve been surfing every single popup camper site ever known to man, so I’ve had to get the crash course. Here, so far, is a smattering of this entertaining new language:

TV- I kept trying to figure out why in the Hell everyone was so concerned about watching television in their campers. I mean, you’re in nature… do what any sane person does. Watch Netflix on your iPad. DUH. Actually, it stands for TOW VEHICLE. As in, what you drive to tow your camper. Huh. Who knew?

Yes, we name all our vehicles. What?!
Chad’s Jeep, Miss Behavin’, is our tow vehicle.

PUP- I know a lot of people camp with their dogs, so I totally knew what this meant! Yeah… no. It means PopUP. Yeah, your camper.

NOT a dog.
Our PUP, Pandora.

WDH- I seriously had to go on google and search for this one. It came up about 7000th in the acronym list. Weight Distribution Hitch. Everyone swears you simply MUST have one to town. Unless, of course, you have a smaller camper of a certain design that it will, essentially, rip in half. Yeah, it will warp your camper if it’s placed on one that shouldn’t have it. Please, folks… read your owner’s manual. It was right there in mine, and barely mentioned on any of the websites that told me how much I needed one.

BAL leveler– It’s a brand name, not an acronym! I’m a nurse, so to me BAL is blood alcohol level, and you’re not a real ER nurse until you have bet on how high someone’s is. Take my word on this. Popup enthusiasts seem to love these things, but then I read things like, “I had to pound the device with a rubber mallet to get it to fit around my tire,” and I decide that driving up on the blocks/chocks we have is just fine for us. Especially since Chad can aim when he backs up. If I ever have to park that cute popup… Well, it has wheels, a front roller thingee and it’s light enough I can push it. What?! Not being able to drive in reverse should be recognized as a legal disorder. It’s not my fault!

ABS- I am a car girl from way back! Helped my Dad restore my first car. Hubby is a car geek. I’ve got this! It’s anti-lock braking system. NO IT IS NOT! It’s some sort of stuff they used for a few years to make pop up roofs and apparently, it sucked and you should never get one with it.

I’m sure there are a ton more. But, I’m learning the language along with a LOT of useful advice. So, I’ll keep plugging away at it. Or, should I say, “IKPAAI”??





Well, Hello Cutie!

The very first time I ever went camping was in a pop up. A Jayco, to be exact. I was probably 8 or 9. My family is NOT outdoorsy. We are not campers, hikers or hunters. If we were cavemen, we would die. We can’t build a fire with flint. We don’t cook over open fires. Apparently, we had ancestors who were hardy and could work the land, hunt with cunning skill, etc. Well, those skills fell by the way side. So, to me, that camper was roughing it. But, it was SO much fun. I remember a month spent at the beach, with Dad coming down for long weekends, and a week at the end. Me, my parents, and my cousin all crammed into that tiny camper. Without air conditioning! We thought we were super high class to have a pop up that had a refrigerator instead of an icebox! The campground still sold huge ice blocks to those who had the iceboxes. They did brisk business!

As I grew older, Mom and Dad realized that it was way too close to tent camping for them. Within a year or two, they traded up to bigger and better. Shortly before Dad passed away, he sold their last camper: a gigantic fifth wheel with slide outs galore and an electric fireplace. Far from our humble pop up.

My hubby, Chad, grew up very differently. He’s an outdoors guy. He loves to hike, bike and hang out in nature. Lord knows, we’re the poster children for opposites attract. He grew up tent camping. He met me way after our pop up days, and always teased my parents and I that we were not camping, we were “housing.”

For a few years, we’ve been trying to restore an ancient (and decrepit) travel trailer. It has been a trainwreck, and tons of fun. But, life has a way of changing, and we just don’t have much time for leisure. We realized we were not truly willing to use that time working on a camper that pieces and parts were becoming increasingly difficult to find. So, we decided to find a small camper, a new one.

We kept realizing how crazy heavy campers are. Our tow vehicle is a Jeep Wrangler, so heavy isn’t an option. After searching for a few weeks, we decided to look at pop ups, instead of travel trailers. Well, hey… they’re way easier to tow! Light, short, and compact. And, did I mention that it’s way cheaper to get a pop up than a travel trailer? So, yeah… it’s a pop up.

We were set to get a new one, but they got a trade in. A lady had bought the camper to house visitors in. She used it exactly ONCE. So, basically a new camper that we got for used. Cannot beat that! We also hit at a time they were offering FREE 4 year extended warranties, and since it was freezing cold out there and no one else was buying a camper, I did a bit of haggling. Got us a free air conditioner, too!

So, we had to figure out what to call the camper. I’ve got a serious problem… I have to name inanimate objects. I don’t know why. It’s an illness, really. But, the camper needed a name. I love alliteration, so it had to have that. I realized that pop ups are basically boxes. Little things that actually have quite a lot in them. So, she (and it has to be a girl. She’s small and cute, and is going to have a lot of adorable owls) is… Pandora Popup!

We’re 42 years old and haven’t used a pop up in forever. So, I’m sure there will be stories of epic failure. There will be some awesome trips, too. I’ll keep you updated on both. Have fun following our adventures!

Pandora, in the dealership parking lot.
Pandora, in the dealership parking lot.