When I get chilled, my nose freezes. No, it really does freeze. Like ice. It freezes off. And then I have a blank spot in the middle of my face. Are you letting that image settle in your brain? But then my nose grows back like a starfish leg or a polliwog tail or whatever. I’m telling the truth right now.
Anyway, my nose gets cold. So do my feet, and my ears. Especially at night. Especially when camping. Especially when camping at night in the woods and we are sleeping in a tent and it’s 41 degrees out.
I’m an adult and I get cold, but I can deal with it. But now we have babies. And if my nose was freezing off, I ached to think of how cold our boys were. We bundled them up in extra layers, but their little faces! They cried in the cold, in the dark, away from home and we felt like we were torturing our babies. Even when we pulled them into bed with us, we were all toasty, but there was not enough room for us all, the air mattress bounced if anyone moved, and none of us slept. It was a hellish experience.
We love to camp, and we want to share that experience as the boys grow up. But we vowed we would never repeat that first miserable night in the tent.
We’ve thought about various camping vehicles. We’ve thought about camper vans and small class-C RVs. We’ve thought about T@Bs and teardrops. We’ve looked at A-Liners and other hard side pop ups.
We never really considered tent trailers. They seemed like they would be a pain in the ass to take down in the rain. And if we were going to get a camping “vehicle,” we were going to stretch our camp season out a little, into the off seasons. We might run into a little precipitation.
But tent trailers were so much less expensive than everything else. They were vastly less expensive. And some of them were light enough to tow with our car. We got back from our freezing cold night in the tent and I threw myself into craigslist ads. I was more just browsing and fantasizing, not really thinking that we’d we’d actually find a camper that suited us.
We knew we wanted something very small, but with two dedicated sleeping areas. We didn’t want to have to convert a dining area into a bed in order for us or the boys to go to sleep.
I found a small pop up tent trailer on craigslist. My dad and I trekked out to the deep westside and took a look. It was small, with a full size bed on one side, and a twin on the other. A dinette, a two burner stove, a sink. And the holy grail: a goddamned heater! It was cute and super clean. My dad has owned a couple of campers and was impressed.
Dave and I talked about it. Before we bought anything, we needed to figure out how to tow it.
Our Saab needed a hitch. The manual claimed the car could tow up to 3500 pounds, which is crazy. The car only weighs 3730 pounds. The pop up I was looking at was 1435 pounds, unloaded. I scoured forums, looking for advice. We consulted no fewer than four Saab gurus, asking about installing a hitch, wiring for lights, and wiring for brakes. At least one guy said he wouldn’t tow anything with our car, saying the 260 horsepower engine was “wimpy.” Another said we might want to add a transmission cooler. We got various quotes with the highest bid being over $1200. To install a hitch. Gah.
We took the car to Atomic Auto, and they did an awesome job. Adding a hitch is not so hard. It’s the wiring that is a pain in the ass. It’s a dainty, fussy car. A “computer network on wheels.” So we wanted experts to do the work. I can’t recommend Atomic Auto enough.
That’s a seven pin and four pin combo welded underneath. We won’t have to run the cables from the trunk. Awesome.
Then we fricken bought the camper.
Look how cute!
Who needs a damned truck?
Giddy. The word is giddy. Giddy is what we are.
The camper floated like a cloud behind our car. I’ve never towed anything, so I need to get used to not seeing anything in my rearview mirror. And I need to get used to backing it into spaces. That’s a lot of fun, right? I’ve seen couples serve each other divorce papers after backing their trailer into campsites. Whee!
This is the beginning of a new era for us. Welcome to your childhood, boys.