Operation Comfort

Two years ago we bought a little tent trailer. It is perfect for our weekend camping trips in state parks. Last year though, with the shutdown, we didn’t get to use it at all. So this year, we got the camping bug early and went last weekend.

We had a great time. Even the teenagers, who are always reluctant to leave their electronics, seemed to have some fun. Fire always helps with that.

Our youngest dog has never been around people or other dogs much as we got her just a couple months before the first lockdown – she rather resented other people sharing the campground, but she loved the woods. Theo, our anxiety ridden other dog, actually thrives on camping and loves walking in the woods.

But . . . this shakedown trip to remind ourselves how to camp did highlight a few flaws in our set up. An 8 foot trailer base means there is almost no storage. Even on a weekend trip, we are people of stuff. So much stuff.

I bought stacking drawer units the first year, which handle all the dishes and pots and much of the food, but the clothes and shoes are everywhere.

The other issue is the beds. The mattresses are just thin foam, which we stuff camping pads under, but it doesn’t cut it for me. I’m not young and flexible anymore. I need real padding!

So, when we got home, Operation Comfort began. I researched, and read pop-up trailer discussion boards, and poured thru Pinterest, and made some decisions.

First, I ordered some foam floor mats from Costco. Those came today and we immediately started cutting them and putting them in place.

That should add insulation from cold underneath and get us off the boards.

Next I did the tissue box test, where you put an empty tissue box in the trailer and close it up and then measure how much it is crushed to know how much space there is between the mattress and ceiling – that tells you how much height you can add to the mattress. I was able to order a dense three inch thick bed foam that we can add under the original mattresses. The two changes are going to make a huge difference to our sleeping!

A lot more measuring and figuring and it turns out I can fit also another couple of storage drawers in when the trailer is closed, so I can go higher with our drawer stacks.

I also did some sewing this week, since we were off for spring break. I bought this pattern to make hanging bags.

It was very clearly written and simple to sew. (Just don’t look too closely at my top stitching – not one of my strengths.) I made the large size, with a modified loop with Velcro. I used a sheet and a curtain, both Goodwill fabric finds. It was a decent size – enough space for my pajamas and wool socks. But I needed more room if we are going to do away with the duffles. So I had the pattern pieces blown up 150% at a copy place. I used a Goodwill tablecloth the second time, flattened out the bottom a bit to make it wide but not too long, added a second tab, and it was just right!


And we hung them in the trailer today while working on the beds, and they are going to work just as I envisioned.

So now I need to make lots more. . . At least four for each end.

And I have ideas for hanging shoe storage that will fit on the sides of the stacking drawers. Some more mulling needed there, but I think there are possibilities.

Neck cloud

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I am knitting the softest imaginable scarf/shawl thingie. (The official term for this type of neck knitting.)

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Malabrigo silkpaca lace yarn.  Wonderful stuff.

It is just row after row of garter stitch, increasing one at the start of each row – a truncated triangle because I started with 75 stitches.

I worked on it during our weekend camping trip, the last before work and school officially start next week.

Yarn and dog both spent a lot of time at the river.  I was the Official Photographer for Teens Jumping Into Glacially Cold Rivers. Theo was Official Barker at Boys Jumping Into Freezing Water.

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Of course, they didn’t always jump voluntarily.

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While they swam and splashed, I knit rows and rows of cloud-light alpaca and silk.  I’ve 800 yards of the yarn, so it is going to go on for a while.

I did stop for hikes and s’mores, but then was back at it.

This is actually replacement knitting as I’ve ransacked my house several times and can’t find my other on-the-go knitting project.  It has to be somewhere, but it continues to elude me.

I did unearth other neglected knitting projects and pulled one out to be the home knitting project.  My purple sweater now has a sleeve. So close to done!

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I’m sad to be nearing the end of camping season, but so glad that we bought the little pop-up trailer last spring.  We haven’t traveled far and wide, but we’ve discovered and revisited some great corners of Washington and Oregon nearby.  The boys complain a little bit before hand (generally due to the lack of WiFi) but they mostly have a great time once we are out there.

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Even when it is really, really, really cold.

 

On vacation

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Summer vacation finally got here, and I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to arrange camping trips.  We recently bought a little tent trailer, and I’m discovering that it is very difficult to just spontaneously go camping on a weekend.  People apparently start booking the reservable camp spots months in advance, way before we realized we were going to be able to get a trailer.  My husband, sadly, doesn’t get summer off, so if we want him to come along, it has to be on the weekend.

But I’ve cobbled together a few reservations for various locations over the next couple months.  We may have to switch spots every night – and we will know better for next year to plan way in advance.  But we will be camping!

We did a couple of test runs in nearby parks to make sure we knew how everything works.  We’ve learned how to turn on the propane heater, attach the side mounted camp stove, and made lists of things we need to organize the very minimal storage.

And saw some pretty beautiful scenery.

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Our dog, Theo, who is rather a neurotic and barky mess, has proven better at camping than we thought he’d be.  He hates strangers and cars and bikes, but it turns out he is a big fan of woods and nature walks, and he’s been willing to keep a little quieter so other campers aren’t bothered.

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So I think this camping experiment is going to be a success once we work out all the kinks.

When not endlessly searching through the Washington and Oregon state park reservation systems, I’ve been sitting down at the sewing machine and am making more X and 16 patch blocks.  Nights in the forests get chilly – we are going to need a bunch of quilts!  It is motivating to get back to the fabric.

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(P.S.  That is Mt. St. Helens in the mountain photos above, our local volcano.  The visitors’ center at Johnston Ridge is wonderful – we’ve been going for years to see the recovery proceeding since the eruption. But it turns out no dogs are allowed in the national monument. Yet another thing we’ve newly learned about camping – check ahead where and when pets are allowed.)

Summer’s end

 

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I go back to work tomorrow, and it rained yesterday for the first time in a couple months, so I guess we are finally letting go of summer.

There was very little fiber or fabric in my summer.  Too busy, too distracted, and just never in the mood.

Instead, we remodeled, and traveled, and lazed, in about equal amounts.

I took the first major road trip we’ve ever done with the kids.  My sister and I loaded up a 1970s tent trailer and the boys and took off for California, driving south for 8 days.  We stayed mainly in state parks along the way.

We stayed in the redwoods first.

And then headed over to the coast:

We saw wild and aquarium creatures of all sorts:

The boys enjoyed every minute of it, of course.

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(And oh, how I wish I could have recorded their appalled voices when they found out that national forests don’t supply wifi!  Insert evil mother’s laugh here.)

At the end of the eight days we reached Anaheim, dropped my sister at the airport, and greeted my husband, who had flown down to join us, and we temporarily traded the trailer for an air-conditioned hotel.

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Then it was a week of heat, and rollercoasters, and junk food.  It was the kids’ first time at Disney and Universal Studios, and my first time in 20 years.  I have really mixed feelings about that part of the trip.  It was crowded, and expensive, and exhausting, and omg-level hot, but it was also fun, and nostalgic, and scary, and funny.

And so much screaming.  My husband doesn’t do heights and falling, so I was designated rollercoaster parent.  So Much Screaming.  I may never recover from the Guardians of the Galaxy drops or the twists of the IncrediCoaster.  Frankly, I barely made it through the sliding gondolas of the California Adventure Ferris wheel.  My youngest and I clung to each other to the point of bruising on each ride.  But we were proud of ourselves after we shakily exited each car and shook the blood back into our limbs.

And now they can say we have taken them to Disney and we don’t have to do it again for another 15-20 years!

The last leg of the trip was a bit truncated.  We dropped Roni off at the airport, and the plan was for me and the boys to drive up I-5, stopping at historical spots and in the mountains along the way, but wildfires put an end to that.  Once we got to Sacramento, the smoke was starting to get bad, and the huge Redding fire meant it only got worse the further north that we got.  So, we sped up the plans and cancelled a lot of stops, and made it home in four days.

It was arid, and smoky, and we were a bit vacationed out, so it was just as well.  And once the tires on the elderly trailer started to go, I was about done with camping.

All in all, it was a great trip. The kids got to swim in pools and rivers.

They saw new parts of the country and drove some really twisty roads, and some really straight ones..

We learned that we really like tent trailer camping (no sleeping on the ground!) and I think we are going to buy one.

And I learned that changing a tire on the side of I-5 is possible, but not pleasant.

We are definitely going to hit the road again on future vacations.  But with newer tires.

And in all that time, and all those miles, this is how much knitting I got done:

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