If Not a Topper, Then a Trailer or …


Some days I am inside the topper for many hours at a time.   I go out in the rain/wind/hail/snow and come back wet/cold/hot. I fantasize  about having more room.  Where I could stand up and cook inside, out of the wind/rain/hail/snow/lightening.

Quartzsite, AZ LTVA



A trailer?

My trailer has to have hard sides. Bears like soft sides. I camp in bear country. An ideal one, for me, might be the Aliner Ranger 12. But it is a trailer.

It folds down, can be loaded with options for off road/boondocking, and has good reviews. There are very few used ones for sale. One YouTuber finally traded his in after living in it for several  years. His roof got too heavy. Images of high winds/rain/hail/snow. Struggling. Wrenching back. I am getting old if that sequence of events flash through my mind. Might have to go with something already all set up.

tab320 trailer

The cute thing above is a TAG Teardrop. It even has a shower and bathroom. Too fancy for my taste.

Alto Trailer

Then there is the very fancy Alto from Canada. Some US distributors. I would always be thinking that there would be a chance that the thing wouldn’t unfold.

And there  is the Casita. And the Scamp. They are fiberglass and both companies have their fans. The Airstream Bambi was my favorite. Their new small one is called the Basecamp. The old Bambis are very expensive. The new Basecamps are out of my league.


Vintage Shastas make my heart beat fast.

No ac, no fridge but an ice box, oven, no bathroom, permanent sleeping area, and under 13′. Perfect for my likes. The price on a restored one ~$5,000 to $10,000. The ones which are not restored are $800-$2,000 and loaded with problems that require expertise that I do not posses. I do love the look, and the inside has just what I need, not overloaded with modern stuff. Again, this is a bunch of money and the odds are that there would have to be stuff done, even to the restored ones.

A trailer is one more thing for me to worry about.

More insurance “paperwork”, another thing to license, something valuable/available for theft, having to make the trailer level, hooking it up solo without breaking something. The most horrifying images have to do with  dragging it behind me into city traffic. And backing it up into tiny spaces. And not going onto some roads not knowing if I can turn around. Ugh. Too much worry for me. Too many years traveling with just a backpack. Feel comfortable in the truck until there are too many inside days. Then I think …

How about a pop up?

That like a backpack for the truck. These 4 Wheel pop ups are for people like us.

Fleet pop up Ranger 12

Starting at over $17,000 these are great, but … money.  Hmmm. Plus how much money to get the under pinnings on Lilith upgraded for the weight. Do I want to stress her out? And I just dislike the pop up looks. Everything is so right angle. And something else to insure. Something to attract avarice.

I did lust for years for an Alaskan Camper. I did my senior thesis in college on a redesign of their website. I use to draw their silhouette. I wrote stories of driving through Africa with one.  They are very expensive, very heavy, very well made. I would need a bigger truck. I am not willing to go that route. Still in love with Lilith.

How about the bare bones approach? There is a company catering to the rodeo crowd. They are out of Texas and their Capri looks possible. You can get it way stripped down. Or add some things.

What About a Van? What About a Schoolie?

A whole ‘nother can of worms. Next time.

I will stick with the truck and topper( Lilith). She is easy to back up, easy to unpack and pack, easy going on very rough roads, already owned, titled and insured.

She protects me from most of the rain and some of the dust. She  is the carapace of this turtle’s life.

(* It has been 6 years since I wrote this post. Still happy with “just” a topper.)

ARE Topper 2006 Toyota Tacoma

ARE Topper 2006 Toyota Tacoma



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Camp Hosting

I worked for Rocky Mountain Recreation Company for a few years at the campground called Burro Bridge. I enjoyed working for these people, so when they called and asked for help I jumped. They had 2 hosts  to leave suddenly and were in dire need of a camp host.

A box of paperwork, tools, and a cute golf cart and I was ready. I  carried a huge jar of sun tea in the really hot days.camp host cart

These deer would join me at breakfast, coffee and NPR and deer. Sweet.

Deer at breakfast

The camp hosting is mostly fun. I like cleaning the bathrooms. It is so easy to make them sparkle and impress the campers. I like talking to the diverse group of campers. I got some terrific hints. I have been trying to think of a way to put some kind of grommets on the topper to attach a tarp. But I didn’t want to drill holes. Russel (from Utah) and Mr Black (from Durango) concurred that it would be possible with aluminum JBWeld. First gently sand the spots, then clean with rubbing alcohol, then weld the grommets onto the topper. Aha. Then I can attach the tarp to the top. Next I was worried that the edges of the lift would tear the tarp. “A pool noodle,” suggested Russel. Oh yes. Thank you, guys.

The paperwork for camp hosting is not fun. Doable after the first few mistake laden sheets. The company wants one kind of figures. The Forest service wants another bunch of figures. Sometimes confusing until you have done it a few times.

After hiring two new camp hosts I retreated to a nearby river to pan for gold.
Dolores River morning


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Truck Camping Secret Tools


My new love. I have given up on tents . I still needed some way to protect me from the rain and/or wind. This tarp is terrific. I abused and used it hard for a long while. Not a scratch or tear. And it folds up to nothing, weighs next to nothing, and I love it. When there are trees it is so easy to set up with the bungees.


Bungee cords

and pvc pipe give me a fast and secure way to set up a tarp. The pvc keeps the bungees from sagging. I use a painter’s pole also. I can change the whole set up of the tarp really quickly with bungees. Bungee cords hold the tables and chair in the rack on top of the cab.  Bungees are my friends. Bungee cords also hold thing to the inside of the truck. Out of the way, but quickly accessible. I really love bungee cords.Bungee Cord Use

Cable Ties

To keep the bungee cords and ropes and strings organized I use cable ties.  Easy to get the right item if you don’t have to untangle everything. Much experience in sitting with tangled balls of rope. Cable ties are great if you want something in a semi-permanent place. I tie down small things in the roof rack with cable ties. Easy to get things down/open with just a pair of scissors.


Are another secret love of mine. They are great when matched with bungees, hold the plastic bag of trash, they hold my keys to the back pack. There are never too many carabiners. Get a few in most popular sizes. You will be surprised at how often you use them.

Do you have any secret truck camping supplies?



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Gold Prospecting on the Dolores

Hunting for gold has occupied most of the time during the last 2 weeks. The picture below shows where I start the hike to the claim. I get very nervous crossing the road to get across the guards. Coming back is tougher. My legs are shaking and I am out of breath.

parked truck at gold spot

Then I get down to Scotch Creek, which I have to cross. Not hard, but I am a tad shaky after coming down from the road. Its steep and rock strewn. And the rocks in the creek are slippery.

Scotch Creek

Then I walk, with a stool in my left hand, a cane in my right, a backpack with a shovel, snuffer bottle, scoop, and pan. I also carry toilet paper and water and a ginger ale. Finally I come to “my” claim. Then I start prospecting, looking for some sign of gold.prospecting for gold

And keep walking and prospecting. prospecting for gold

And get totally distracted by the beauty.beauty

So I haven’t found the “magical” spot to find much gold. YET. But I have found many breathtaking views and flowers and water. And some “flour” gold.

There is a change in the plans, however. Tomorrow I will be campground hosting. The folks who I have worked for before (Rocky Mountain Recreation Company) are hurting for help. COVID. They were great to me for many years, so I volunteered.  One of the joys of being retired, the flexibility. Will have to wait for next year to find the gold.


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Truck Camping Storage Take 3

Organizing is important for this truck camper’s peace of mind. I started out on this trip panicking every time I lost _______ (fill in the blank). I panicked over every lost item. Losing the truck keys twice changed my organizing habits. Losing my wallet, once, was awful. Now everything has its very own place.

Door Storage

The passenger door storage has  rubbing alcohol, a cloth, and some Handi-Wipes. I use the rubbing alcohol to clean my pocket knife, earbuds, telephone, etc. The storage area also has shoe polish. I don’t know why the shoe polish is there. It has been there for three years. I always remember where it is. Scared to move it to a “better” place and lose track of it.

Passenger Door Storage

Passenger Door Storage

Behind the passenger door storage has serious cleaning stuff. WD40, GoofOff, 409 cleaner, cloths and toothpaste. The toothpaste is for the headlights. Kinda works, briefly.

Behind Passenger Storage

Behind Passenger Storage

The driver’s door storage is handy. An umbrella lays on top of toilet paper, a cloth, 2 measuring tapes and the colorful collection of electrical tape (which lasts better than duct tape in the sun). Now it also has a packaged mask, just in case I forgot one of the pretty ones.

Driver Door Storage

Driver Door Storage

Behind the driver door storage is the area I use most often. It has ammonia, Windex, butcher scissors and hand clippers (for spiny bushes). The ammonia is for mouse/chipmunk deterrent. I spray a squirt or two on the tires if I am in a mouse heavy area. Works great when the CAB is not enough, or when the animals are going into the engine compartment.

Behind Driver Door Storage

Behind Driver Door Storage

There are sweet little other areas in the truck. Above the windshield there are two little spots. In the truck bed there are two not-very-accesible spots (these carry the extra CAB mouse repellent boxes ) and metal detecting finds, like musket balls and barbed wire pieces. There are pockets behind the front seats. Under the seats are precious protected spaces for thin items (the drinking hose, the hose bandit and the jumper cables under the passenger seat, a bag of paperwork under the driver’s seat).

No more disorganizational panicking! Phew. Relief.

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