Tony & Peggy Barthel - StressLess Campers

Greetings!

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

Our first RVing trip

Our first RVing trip

Our favorite waterfront campground,  Clear Lake Campground , where we spent our first rainy night of camping.

Our favorite waterfront campground, Clear Lake Campground, where we spent our first rainy night of camping.

We were so excited to have a new travel trailer that we just couldn’t wait for a full weekend to go camping, so we booked a reservation for the night we picked up Curby, our 2017 Rockwood Mini Lite 1905. After dropping off Peggy’s car at the campground, we spent the day going through the pre-delivery inspection at the dealership, and shopping for accessories we already knew we wanted. Then we headed home-ward, but only as far as the campground. We set up for our very first time, and hooked up all the hook-ups…in the rain!  Hey, some get trial by fire but we had trial by water!

That first drive alone was harrowing. While I’ve pulled a trailer plenty of times, it’s still our new trailer tailgating us in the rain and, of course, you’re keeping an eye on it to make sure nobody gets too close. 

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Meanwhile, that rain. In Northern California the roads are defined by how they are in the rain and whether or not CalTrans is working on them, which is frequently. Since many of the roads are simple two-lane roads, a CalTrans project can mean that the road is just closed. So a beautifully wide but still two-lane road was, indeed, closed and we were diverted onto something barely a step above being a paved pathway. With a trailer. Our shiny new trailer. 

The gentle, rolling hills on the road we had intended to take were replaced by truck-challenging hills and the fact that our Nissan Frontier had zero issues hauling the trailer, ourselves and our stuff up and down those hills made me glad for this choice of tow vehicle. After much longer than we had hoped for, we finally arrived at the campground. We had full hookups and got to use all the amenities.

We chose this campground because (a) it’s not too far from home (b) it’s owned by a friend (c) it was even closer than home to the events we were each attending that evening. 

Who doesn’t love beans & franks? The typical RV camping meal.

Who doesn’t love beans & franks? The typical RV camping meal.

Tony worked at Brassfield and Peggy ran the concession table at the Lake County Theatre Company radio play It’s a Wonderful Life.

We both returned to camp from our events at about the same time.  We were both hungry so we popped across the highway to grab some fast food.  

Our particular travel trailer, a 19’ Rockwood Mini Lite 1905, is equipped with a Murphy bed which gives us a couch by day and a proper bed at night. Brilliant packaging making the most of a pretty short trailer. Making the Murphy bed for the first time was an adventure in itself – Peggy almost folded herself into the bed by putting too much weight at the head! We used the mattress heater – because we could. But we found the mattress to be too hard so we have since purchased a mattress topper. Making the bed is also easier now with the new bag system we purchased in Quartzsite. 

The funny thing - the Murphy bed in the newer models now has a lock to keep you from flipping yourself into the storage bay. Perhaps they were watching us as we tried to make ours.  

In the morning we showered in the camper and went to a favorite local restaurant, then Peggy went back to the theatre while Tony dumped the tanks, broke camp and took Curby home. 

Yup. That’s beans & franks alright.

Yup. That’s beans & franks alright.

They say that every RVer has to do the black water dance at some point in time but Tony was convinced that he would never have to do that. But as he prepared to dump the tanks, following all the best instruction thanks to YouTube, he unleashed just a bit of gray water to make sure everything was set the way it was supposed to be and that the hose would stay where it should. Success. 

Once satisfied that the sewer hose was going to remain in place he unleashed the black water onto the world. And the campsite. Oh yeah. First you see it then you say it. “I think I may have set a human record of speed for how quickly I got that black valve closed but that didn’t change the fact that I now had a chemical spill of epic proportion on my hands. And in our friends’ campground.” 

Of course what’s the second thing you do once you’ve stopped the flow of the unholy contents of that tank? You look around to see if anyone is doubled over in laughter. At least this portion of the episode was a success. 

He cleaned up the area and made it look, and smell, better than when we got there and shuttled on home. “It turns out that I was a bit timid when releasing the gray water so when I pulled the black tank at full force it popped my hose end right out of the ground. It’s a volcano!”

The things we learned were that it’s good to be close to home on your first night’s shake down cruise as you can run and get things that might be needed if you didn’t pack them. You also have a “plan B” in case things go very wrong, which they didn’t in our case. 

RVing with pets - 8 tips for StressLess Camping

RVing with pets - 8 tips for StressLess Camping

RV construction comparison

RV construction comparison