Life in the back of a truck (part 2)

January 25th, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

Why a truck camper when you could have something much larger?

True, a bus conversion or a 5th wheel would give quite a bit more space than a truck camper, but if you can deal with the smaller size, a truck camper has a lot going for it. For starters, you can take it places that just aren’t practical in most rigs that are suitable for fulltiming. Sure, a popup trailer or an especially small travel trailer might make it down a particular nasty stretch of dirt road, but even those are going to have issues if it turns out backing out is required. A smallish Class C is as manueverable as a truck camper, but they’re awfully hard to find in 4 wheel drive models with the kind of clearance you get from a full size truck.

Another bonus to truck campers is that you don’t really need to tow along a second vehicle for running around. Many Class A owners tow a dinghy vehicle for sightseeing in order to avoid moving their RV once its parked. While, we also haul around a scooter for short trips, we often just move the entire truck and camper if the trip requires it. Better yet, if we’re going to be somewhere more than a few days and know we’ll need to run around in the truck a lot, we can just drop the camper and have a separate vehicle to drive. It takes a bit more effort than dropping or loading a trailer, but the truck can easily be loaded or unloaded in around 30 minutes.

A final reason we really like the truck camper option is that the camper and drivetrain are not married as they are in Class A’s or C’s. If you decide you’d prefer a different floorplan or the truck experiences catastrophic failure, you can always change truck or camper with a minimum of hassle and keep the one you’re still happy with. For that matter, you can dump the camping lifestyle altogether and keep the truck. Not having the RV and truck married is what allows you to have a 4wd, diesel RV with good clearance at a reasonable price. It’s also an excellent choice for anyone that would like to pull a boat. Many states prohibit double towing, and I can’t imagine it being particularly fun even in those that allow it.

But, isn’t a truck camper way too small to live in fulltime?

I guess that depends on your lifestyle and what you want and need out of life. There are probably more people living in vans than truck campers by an order of magnitude. I can stand up fully, stretch out fully and have considerably more room to move around than any van I’ve ever seen except perhaps the shuttle buses, which I imagine would make a nice little rolling house with some work.

Personally, I find there is plenty of living space, but I’ve always liked living in smaller spaces. They prevent me from accumulating too much junk and I can usually find things I’ve mislaid without much trouble. Jenn and I as well as two cats have been living in the camper for 12 of the last 14 months and I feel much more comfortable to be back in our camper than I felt while we had the run of her parent’s place the past couple of months.

The one real constriction I feel about living in something the size of a truck camper is making a concious effort not to accumulate too much junk and finding a place to store the things we need. Anytime you consider picking up a new item, you have to think about just how often you’re going to use it, whether or not you can get along without it and where you’re going to store it. On top of that, you should consider whether it will be able to replace something you already have or if you already have something that can do the same thing. This problem actually helps me to save money by not buying things just because they’re shiny!

Building a bat gate

September 24th, 2008

Well, we’ve got more than a bar of Internet tonight, so I figure it’s time we got caught up on some blogging.

Horn Hollow Cave

After we spent a couple of weekends at the Great Saltpetre Preserve caving with some great people from the area, we headed towards Boone, NC to start our next stint as carnies. However, we got sidetracked leaving Kentucky as Jenn noticed Carter Caves State Park was just a few miles out of the way. As this is where Crawl-a-thon is held in January, we decided it would be worth a quick stop over and looksee.

We got up bright and early and explored Laurel and Horn Hollow caves. Both are rather short trips, that have been ‘prepared’ for tourists, but they are still unlit, self-led trips. Horn Hollow has a beautiful entrance, but is otherwise not much to look at from inside. Laurel was quite a pretty little cave and we were able to get off-trail and explore the upper passage as well as climb a small waterfall that most non-cavers would have never seen.

Roy and Jerry. The gate is now complete.

Once we got to the camper, covered in cave mud, and I got stripped down to my high performance underwear, a couple of guys walked up, and rather than running away, they wanted to chat, which marked them as cavers and not afraid of dirty, half-dressed hippies in a parking lot. This was our introduction to Roy and Jerry. They were in the area building a bat gate, which is designed to let bats in, but keep people out during bat hibernation season. Since we were the only muddy folks around with a bat sticker on our vehicle, they assumed we’d be good suckers, err… candidates, to volunteer to help out.

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