…to my camper that is! I made it back to Fort Collins, CO on Sunday, and U-Haul had all the right parts for the hitch.
First thing Monday morning, I drove towards Denver to pick up Half Moon, my pop-up camper. A friendly technician showed me how everything works, and he had me disassemble and close it up while he watched and gave guidance. I asked him how the camper was going to connect to my van. I had looked at my hitch and it did not seem to have the parts to connect to the trailer. Hmmmmm, it seems that I did not get an insert and ball mount. I guess I did not know to ask, but it seems that the people who installed the hitch might have asked. Anyway, I had a $40 gift certificate from the RV dealer and guess what? That is exactly what it cost to get the missing parts. Mr. Nice Guy did not charge me labor to do that installation. Later, he hitched it all up, helped me set the brake controller, and had me drive around the parking lot a few times. I asked if he came with the camper and he said, sadly, no.
From there I drove slowly, carefully, and mindfully back to Wyoming, heading for Hawk Springs State Recreation Area. Driving was a breeze. I already knew there would be places to camp at this park without having to back up (I will learn that soon). Unfortunately I arrived smack in the heat of the afternoon, but I was still determined to set up Half Moon for the first time. I made a few mistakes, but managed to get it all put together. My site was right next to the lake, so when I got overheated, Tango and I jumped in to cool off. Next, I put everything away that will stay in the camper, such as sheets, towels, dishes, pots and pans, dominoes, and bird books. After this, we ran back to the water again to cool off. And so it went, alternating between tinkering around, reading manuals for the appliances and heater, and going for a dip to cool off.
The awning baffled me for a while, even after reading the manual; however, by the next morning I figured it out just fine. I also had trouble starting the refrigerator using the gas connection (no electricity here so I can also run it on propane). The pilot has an automatic ignition. The problem was, I could not see if the little blue pilot flame was burning because of the bright sunlight. I waited until dark and could see perfectly, and now I have cold beer for dinner! I didn’t cook because the heat and hard work took away my appetite, so I am looking forward to cooking in the morning.
I slept great that first night. The breeze blew through the camper and made for perfect sleeping weather. After waking up, I lounged in bed and just looked out the windows. When the windows are open, meaning the canvas flaps are unzipped leaving just the screen, I have a 360 degree view of my surroundings. From my bed I look out onto a thick stand of cottonwoods, and the lake just beyond. Half Moon is perched on a small rise and the trees are close, but rooted below the rise. I felt like I was in a tree house, looking out on upper limbs. This in turn gives me a view of birds flitting about in the treetops that I would not ordinarily have. Last night, I had a straight shot of the stars through one window. I feel as though I am inhabiting a secret world here.
Adding to the mystical vibe is the nearly constant sound of the wind playing in the trees. As the west wind collides with the cottonwood leaves I hear a constant sound, almost like a distant creek. Though loud, the many quivering leaves remind me of an orchestra during a quiet prelude. Sometimes, a hearty gust creates a crescendo, then silence.
I look around the camper again and realize that I have the equivalent of a little cabin on wheels. I can continue to go here and there but in more comfort. Although, even in a queen-size bed, Tango my dog, hogged most of the space. He was lying width-wise across the mattress, and I was pushed to the edge of the bed the first night. That first cup of coffee, made on my 3-burner stove, made up for that annoyance; I swear that was the best cup ever. I enjoyed it at my dinette while reading more manuals. Each individual component in this camper has its own manual so it is quite a task to become master of my new domain.
The morning was cool and I puttered around the camper some more, rearranging a few things from yesterday. I spent the rest of my time today at my usual occupations: reading, writing, Sudoku puzzles and an audio book (back to Here, There and Elsewhere by Heat-Moon, which I only listen to while traveling). In between, I eat some, sitting at the dinette. Mostly, I am resting, my mind and body. Life has been hectic. Tango is either up on the bed or laying on the cool linoleum floor
On a different topic: going to and from Colorado twice this week, I saw thousands of bikers on the roads, heading north on their way to Sturgis. We are used to this influx every year and look forward to seeing all the folks driving by or stopping in for breakfast at our café. WDOT posts messages like, “Motorcycles are Everywhere, Drive Carefully”. We are a motorcycle-friendly bunch out here.
Last evening a man and woman on motorcycles pulled into the camping space next to mine. The man came over wondering how “things work here”. He wanted to know where he could find the campground host, the showers, and so on. I told him this is a Wyoming State Park, and that things are casual here. I told him how to do the self-pay process and suggested he take a bath in the lake. I don’t blame him for expecting something big, with a name like Hawk Springs State Recreation Area. However, it’s off a long dirt road, over the railroad track, next to a small reservoir, with a few vault toilets and no other amenities. A person can swim, boat, fish, sit under the tall cottonwoods, and walk along the beach, but no showers! Anyway, the couple settled in and I did not hear a peep out of them under the roared by this morning on their way north!
Back to the camper: it is now late afternoon and I hear thunder. I scan the sky and notice a large thunderstorm building to the north. We have had storms with damaging hail all summer. I dig out my solar-powered weather radio to see if I am in trouble. The first words I hear are, “The National Weather Service in Cheyenne has issued a severe thunderstorm warning….”
Coming tomorrow: thunderstorm news and pix of Half Moon.