May 20, 2009, 9:45 a.m., Pine Mills
For many of you camping in a camper trailer is old hat. Others of you have done it, but only for two or three days. Still others have not done it at all. During this little lull in my activities, I thought I would write down aspects of living long term in a camper trailer that those of you who have not done it might not have onsidered. I have an ulterior motive, too, though. As those of you who are old salts with camper trailers get a handle on my situation, I would surely appreciate any ideas that you can contribute from your own experience that might make my life easier, more comfortable, more enjoyable, or all of the above because—and I do not want to shock anyone here—I am all about making my life easier, more comfortable, more enjoyable, or all of the above.
First and foremost is the simple fact that space is so limited. I have quickly learned the primary rule that must be honored because of that overall space limitation. Before you take something out, put something else away. Disregard this rule at your peril. If you do, you will soon be dealing with real chaos.
This may sound so simple, but it requires great self-discipline. For example one of my major storage areas inside the camper is the space under one of the dinette set seats. Lots of stuff is stored there. But to get at it, I must maneuver around the table, pull off that wide cushion, which is an awkward hinged bottom and back affair, and lift a lid. And usually there is something lying on that seat. And if I have company there may be somebody sitting on that seat. So getting at that storage area requires just enough effort to discourage you from doing it. Know what I mean?
Then there are the plastic tubs. Most of my small items of tangible personal property are stored in 20-gallon plastic tubs. I do have two 15-gallon tubs, too. I have a plastic tub for books; one for cords, lamps, small fans, and other electrically related stuff; one for cookware; one for the first aid kit, toiletries, clippers, and such; one for athletic clothing, and a couple for regular clothing. I store the two smaller tubs for toiletries and the electrical stuff in the back of the cab of the truck. I store the other larger bins outside under the camper trailer, all in an attempt to keep the limited inside space maximally free in the camper. The Texas summer facilitates this because the worst precipitation one deals with is usually only a heavy dew.
The next rule is closely related to the one set out above. If you acquire something, you must dispose of something. This rule is giving me fits right now. When I take down the camper and move, I am packed to the gills, both in the camper itself and in the truck. This is primarily because I had to bring my bicycle, which is lying on its side and locked to a grommet in the truck bed under the tonneau cover. I love having my bicycle, but it eats up space back there.
I store all of the plastic bins except those two that are in the cab of the truck on the floor of the camper before I crank down the roof. The cooler then fits right inside the bottom door of the camper such that I can get at it on the road. I have a tool box behind the passenger seat of the truck. I have a couple of briefcases with papers in the truck. My laptop, digital camera, video camera, and iPod are always in the cab of the truck unless they are being used. Everything else is stuffed hither and yon.
Here is what I am up against this week. CBS generously left me with a new larger cooler, another folding chair for guests, and his very nice Coleman coffee percolator. When CBS and I left the Armadillo Farm, I had to leave some items there to accommodate his stuff, including my little white plastic dresser drawers on cute little tiny casters. When I try to put those items back in the mix, there will be no room for the percolator in that plastic bin for cookware. I do not yet know where I am going to carry that larger cooler. Even the additional folding chair is going to test me in terms of finding a place for it. On top of all that, I purchased a guitar last weekend. That is now really forcing me to consider what has to be jettisoned permanently.
Here is another rule. Quit whining, and sweep. I am alluding to the fact that I am never parked on concrete. Therefore, no matter what I do, dirt, leaves, and detritus in general get tracked into the camper during the day. I tried a system for awhile where I would leave my new-to-me-from-Jim Unversity of Texas sandals outside the door and step into them going out and step out of them coming in. That is a pain in the ass. Now I simply sweep out every morning and wash the floor once per week. By the way the sweeping utensil is not a broom. There is no room for that. The sweeping utensil is a whisk broom, which means that I am sweeping out and washing the floor on my hands and knees like a charwoman.
In the next installment of “Boring, Day-to-Day Stuff,” we will discuss urine and the handling, storage, and disposal thereof.