Tony & Peggy Barthel - StressLess Campers


We’re Tony & Peggy Barthel and we’re working to help you be a StressLess Camper.

StressLess in a stressful situation

StressLess in a stressful situation

Turning a stressful situation into StressLess Camping

A few weeks ago, Tony got distracted during set-up and accidentally pulled the truck away from Curby without unplugging the 7-pin plug. Oops. The safety door pulled loose from the plug, so we had to have the whole contraption replaced. We did that on a beautiful, sunny Wednesday afternoon. 

Thursday evening, when I got off work, I went home and finished putting all my gear into the camper, hooked up in the drizzly afternoon dusk, and got ready to head out for a weekend with the Tow Girlz. Except, the trailer wouldn’t budge. Evidentially, when they installed the new plug in the truck they didn’t bother to actually test it, and it engaged the trailer brakes. Or, rather, wouldn’t disengage them. 

Lisa Wilson from Clear Lake Campground and I - she's always such a breath of StressLess Camping. 

Lisa Wilson from Clear Lake Campground and I - she's always such a breath of StressLess Camping. 

I take a deep breath. I have Friday off, I am going camping, and I will StressLess. I texted Lisa, who owns Clear Lake Campground, and she offered me her vintage Aristocrat for the night. Well, I was all ready to go camping, after all! So, I grabbed overnight essentials from the camper and threw them in the truck, unhooked the camper (in the drizzly close-to-dark), recited George Carlin’s “A Place for my Stuff” routine, and headed to the campground. 

Good thing it was a local trip, or I’d be staying home for the weekend and pretty dang irritated. I had a great time hanging out with the Girlz, and got to spend the night in the vintage glamper, and got up on a rainy Friday morning to get the truck fixed. I pretended that dressing to run to the potty in the rain in the middle of the night was a grand adventure :-)

I told the guy at the truck shop what was going wrong, he took the truck back, and in a few minutes came in to say it was fixed. I made him promise, because I was missing mimosa breakfast with the Girlz and I needed to re-hook in the pouring rain. I got home and hooked up and indeed, everything worked just fine (note to self: next time, ask them if they tested it before you leave the first time...).

I opened the camper to re-pack it from the night before, and found a big ol’ puddle on the floor and the sofa. Hoping I had somehow tracked it in while packing (though knowing it wasn’t that), I wiped it up, showered and changed, and finally headed out on my camping trip, only 18 hours late. 

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It's a Glamp-Out!

Yes, the Tow Girlz really did bring this wonderful set-up for a dinner on the Lake in style. 

Thursday evening, Lisa had also told me that because a few Girlz had cancelled due to the impending Pineapple Express storm, she moved me to a creek-side space. Which is so awesome, except that it meant backing in to a spot for the first time without Tony’s help. But my neighbor Girlz were ready for my return! They had moved the picnic table out of my way, and set up cones for me to aim toward. 

Have you ever seen Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo in The Long, Long Trailer?Remember the scene where Nicky is backing in to Aunt Anastasia’s driveway, and the entire neighborhood is yelling instructions at him? Yeah, it wasn’t quite like that. 

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Deb and Lynn were trying to work well together in giving me instructions, but I was a bit nervous, admittedly, and not sure who to listen to! Finally they decided Deb would get me straightened up, then Lynn would finesse me in to the spot. After a bit more forward-and-back action, I finally got it in place and eased Curby into the spot like a pro! 

Thanks Girlz!! It had slowed back to a drizzle, and so set up was relatively StressLess. But remember that puddle inside? I had decided that it would not deter me from camping, and if I had to I’d cover up with the shower curtain overnight. I waited until I was completely set up before I called Tony to tell him that we may need to have some service done on the roof (if I told him from home he may have talked me into staying home and I wasn’t about to do that after my adventure so far!!). 

He said a similar thing had happened to him and I opened and closed the vent and the leaking stopped. So bad news is we have to replace that (or, preferably, put a scoop over it), but good news is we don’t have “a big problem” and I didn’t have to use a shower curtain for a comforter! 

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Backing Success!

Backing in was as StressLess as could be and look at that spot on the lake!

The Long, Long Trailer
Starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Marjorie Main, Keenan Wynn, Gladys Hurlbut

Friday night we went for some self-induced stress - I set up the projector and we all brought snacks and I popped in one of my two DVDs (don’t ask) of The Long, Long Trailer to watch as a group.  It’s fun.  It’s romantic.  It’s endearing.  It’s stressful!  Not the whole thing, but when a bunch of Girlz watch how Nicky handles that trailer - learning to use the trailer brakes, learning to back up, and - the scariest of all - towing that thing up that LONG STEEP hill!!  Oh boy, were we a bunch of nervous Nellies!  All in good fun, of course.  As Lisa whispered to me: “I’m glad we know they survive so we don’t have to be AS scared!”

The rest of the weekend was totally StressLess - I baked mini quiches for the potluck, mixed my very-popular pineapple-upside-down martinis, showered without running out of hot water, and even dumped the tanks all by my own self! As we packed up on Sunday I was even able to give advice about hose and cord storage.

So why did I tell you so many details? Because, with every single thing that went “wrong,” I reminded myself to StressLess and everything was going to work out. And it did. And I had a ball. And I’m “that” much more comfortable backing up Curby!

Written by Peggy Barthel

Painting the wild animal corridors in an RV

Painting the wild animal corridors in an RV

Camping on the level

Camping on the level