Archive for the ‘tips’ Category
Though Ralph has the Wally Byam Caravan Club in his bloodstream we knew virtually nothing about it when we bought the DWR and fell awkwardly into membership in 2007. Now, with one week to prepare ourselves for the spectacle that will be the WBCCI 53rd International Rally—our first official rally as members—procrastination must end. It’s time to apply our Big Red Numbers.
Among the many annoyances at the unforthcoming WBCCI website is no official explanation of the history of these numbers or what point they practically serve today, sixty years since the club was founded. Most members surmise that their purpose is threefold…
The language of Twitter is humiliating. “Tweet me”; “I tweeted”; “Guess what, Tweeple?” (It’s for a similar reason that I don’t patronize Burger King. I can’t tell another person that I need a “whopper”.) Despite this, I love and depend on Twitter, and mercifully, most users have grown tired of thinking up new words that begin with “tw”.
I get it that a vast population considers Twitter to be pointless, narcissistic and time-consuming (the latter it indeed is). Opting out is a viable choice. Sometimes even regular tweeters (see? how idiotic is that) have difficulty conceptualizing its practical benefits. But if you travel, Twitter is an invaluable tool.
The inn was full near Glenns Ferry, Idaho. We were unaware that the Three Island Crossing was taking place, the annual (and this year, final) reenactment of (yes) the Oregon Trail settlers struggling to cross the dangerous Snake River with their wagons and horses. Every RV park for miles was full: the state park, Power Pop Campground, everything. (“Power Pop”, that cracked Ralph up. “Is that next to Speed Metal RV Park? Across from Hair Band KOA?”)
We met Stan, the caretaker of Carmela RV Park, who took pity on our ignorance and graciously offered us a place to hook up in the parking lot of Carmela Vineyards, right next to the vines and tasting room.
Ripley required only minor first aid after stepping on the cactus but Ralston, age ten, inconveniently fell ill with some kind of undiagnosable ailment the day we left and appeared to be at death’s door during the entire first week of our trip. After consulting vets in three states he was eventually back to what passes for normal. We kept him hydrated and cool along the way with the help of this special mat and bandana.
Soak the mat in water to activate the “cooling crystals”, then plop it down as a place to ride in the car or rest in the shade.
With his Kestrel 3500 Portable Weather Station, Ralph can gauge temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, current and average wind speed, maximum wind gust, heat stress index, altitude, dewpoint, wind chill, time of day and something called “wet bulb temperature” wherever we camp.
Why does he need these readings? “It’s fun.”
When he pulls the weather gear from his fetish bag and observes my eyeroll, Ralph reminds me that I created this monster three years ago when I purchased a home weather station for him from Costco.
“We’re off the grid honey!”
Ralph’s expensive, portable, foldable solar panel charges all the small devices that we now find essential: MacBook, cell phone, weather station and satellite services like X-M radio.
Not like we ever do, but theoretically with this device the DWR can venture beyond hookup sites without a lapse in service from the electronics we need to call our lives fulfilling. It even charges the full size Airstream battery in 12 to 24 hours.
Yes, it does. Ralph, who pores over industrial catalogs for relaxation, had a genius idea: one piece, insulated work coveralls to wear while camping. “Think about it,” he persuaded. “It gets a little cold or rainy, boom, we pull on the suits. The dogs need to go out in the middle of the night? Jump into the suit.” Horrified but intrigued, I agreed and they soon arrived mailorder (70% off) from Sierra Trading Post.
Initial embarrassment was overcome within ten minutes. Who cares what strangers at the KOA think about you?
The DWR wasn’t the first caravan. The “Martini Wagon”, a 1958 Cardi remodeled to feature the inherent kitsch of the period, was towed hard up and down the western states to Yosemite and back for nearly ten years. It sadly developed a terminal leak in the ceiling in 2006 and had to be sold on eBay. (It retired to a good home; the wacky new owners were planning to use it as a guest house/party pad out in back of their property in Renton.)