I pass through some fabulous areas but, unlike most, I don’t get much from seeing awesome scenery through the windshield. To me it’s like watching a movie; I’m just sittin’ there on my butt. Does anyone really think looking up at a mountain is more impressive than looking out from a trail near the top or from a ridgeline? And as I’ve said before, it’s not as if the most majestic scenery is along the asphalt. It’s certainly beautifulbut I don’t feel anything. I need to be out in ithiking, running or mountain biking. I need to have all my senses open to Nature. I get a charge out of feeling my heart pumping and my muscles working. That’s when I feel most alive and in-touch with the outdoors. Running along a single track in the early morning while taking it all in makes this lifestyle truly special for me. And it’s stellar incentive to keep active. Different strokesbut not bad for a senior.
Once off the two-lane blacktop, my traveling begins.
Sometimes deer came walking by in the evenings. M&M and I walked down to a spring one day and spooked these elk.
I ordered the Nash 17K through Thunder RV in La Grande. Caleb was easy to work with and it felt real comfortable being around the place while picking up the trailer, having the WDH put on and whenever I went back with questions. Wayne, the service tech, was a great help. Overall, a good experience and a dealership I would recommend if one is interested in a Nash or Arctic Fox.
It took two days to get everything packed away in the Nash and give the Casita a final cleaning. M&M were doing their usual wandering around and, from time to time, climbed into the Nash to scope it out. Late afternoon, I snagged them and put them in the Nash so they had all evening and night to begin to feel at home. Everything of theirs was in there but it took a while for them to adjust, especially Meadow. It took a move to another camping spot. M&M got out of the Dodge, looked around, and only saw the Nash, no Casita. It finally seemed to click that this was their home.
I spent a week outside La Grande making sure everything was working in the Nash and looking for anything that needed fixing. I waxed the outside so I could go over every square inch of the sidewalls looking for faults and check the caulking around the windows and door. I went up on the roof and checked every inch of caulking and the rubber roof.
It was a waste of time checking the rubber roof. Mesa is up there all the time. The window cage sits too high for him to jump up and grab like he did on our last trailer. So he had some thinking to do (I think he has some raccoon blood). Now he gets about 3’ from the trailer, jumps forward and up as high as he can, pushes off the sidewall to gain another few inches, twists 90 degrees, grabs the side of the window cage, climbs up on top and jumps onto the roof. Good grief. How did he figure out rebounding off the side of the trailer would give him the extra inches to reach the cage?!
I like the town of La Grande, especially the downtown section. The Bobolink store is definitely worth checking out. Trent, the owner, has been in business 10 years and has a variety of interests, as one can easily see as you walk into his store. On the right is a row of chain cages for disc golf. From what I hear, you probably don’t want to challenge him to a game (unless he’ll spot you 50 points). Most of the shop reflects his main interest of birds (hence the name). He carries a great shoulder/chest strap for not only carrying your binoculars but it also provides stable support when viewing. He’s pretty well known and people come from out of state for his ‘avitours.’
Trent also has coolers with absolutely stellar craft beers. I’ve been to the store twice and left both times with beer he recommended and have been quite pleased. Almost makes me want to move to La Grande. Since I found out about barley wine down in NM, I keep my eyes open for it and now Trent has me trying imperial IPA (just as good). The last one was Gubna Imperial IPA from Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, CO. If I lived in the area, I would definitely have to run more miles each week.
Trent comes across as quite knowledgeable in all three areas. Not bad. Will definitely be going back. I love coming across funky little shops like this.
La Grande has a Bi Mart, Walmart, Bronson hardware (1x7’ plank for M&M’s ramp, PVC for the support and reflectix for window insulation), D&B Supply (great selection of stuff including horse blankets for seat covers), Thunder RV for supplies and service, library, two laundromats, and much more but still with a small town feel. Well, not a real small town; not with an interstate going through it, but still. La Grande is an easy place to resupply and to get something worked on if in the area. Their Safeway has a good selection of wine. I’ve been enjoying red blends lately, such as, Apothic Red and Gnarly Head’s Authentic Red. Pretty tasty. I do enjoy a glass or two of wine in the evening while reading, or a glass of beer, before my nightly large mug of tea.
One way I can pretty much tell I’ve left AZ and NM is by the chili selection in the grocery stores. Shriveled and puckered, most look as if they have been lying in the bins for two weeks. Jalapenos were $3.99/lb! Good grief. I’ve learned to plan ahead and brought along 10 bags of dried piquin and tepines, 2 bags of hot chili powder and 2 large bags of hot chili pods. Not fresh, but they get me through the summers.
The Northwood factory is in La Grande (as well as Outdoors RV manufacturing) and offers a tour each weekday at 11:00. Most of the people in my group were interested in the Arctic Fox models so most of the tour was spent in that area. The sidewall construction of the Arctic Fox models is first rate. They also have aluminum framing, which I prefer, and rigid foam rather than batten insulation. I did not like any of the floorplans, however, and they have all the extra stuff most RVers look for in a mobile condo. Nevertheless, they are beautiful, well-made trailers that, judging from what I saw at the factory, much more of a true 4-season rig than the Nash. Still, the Nash is a better choice for my lifestyle. I’m glad I got it, and I would make the same choice again.
For me, as a camper who travels dirt roads, I did not want a rig with fine wood cabinets, solid countertops, and whatnot. I had all that in my 5th wheel, along with beautiful oak flooring in the kitchen and plush green carpeting in the other areas. This time I wanted a light-weight, quality trailer without the standard RV frills. About the only frou-frou the Nash came with were the side valances on the windows, which I took down. A camper looks at them and thinks, dust magnet. I was surprised how much their removal brightened up the inside.
I moved from living in a mere 95 square feet up to an immense 152 square feet dwelling. For the first week, I carried a floorplan in my pocket in case I got lost. I used to enjoy living in larger spaces but now that I’ve been back to living in small spaces, I have no urge to live in anything else. And having 2 felines in my small space adds oodles of texture to the experience.
Last month I listed the options I ordered for the Nash. Here I’ll go over some that I chose not to get, even though they are popular choices.
A/C - During hot months I go for elevation, and since I’m not in campgrounds, I can always set up in shade if I so choose. Both factors nix the need for an A/C. There’s always the Fantastic fan to call into play if necessary. Remember, I pulled the A/C off my last trailer because I was not using it.
Stabilizers, front and rear - The first thing that jumped out at me when I finally got to see a Nash 17K were the stabilizers. They hung down WAY too low. Some of the spur roads I travel have close, short, steep hills and the rear stabilizers, more than likely, would get bent (like on my last trailer). Besides, the 4 wheels and jack offer 5 points of stabilization. If the rig gets rockin’ in the open desert, I might get 2 screw jacks from an auto parts store to handle it (but probably not). I’m not bothered by a little motion from time to time. Maybe I spent too much time in boats.
Exterior marine grade stereo speakersgood grief.
Rear ladder and roof rack – I probably have a phobia for water leaks in RVs. I did not want any extra holes drilled into the sidewall, let alone through the rubber membrane on the roof. I know, I know, just about every RV has a rear ladder. And it’s fine if one keeps an eye on the caulking and tightness of the ladder screws. I only go up on the roof 3 or 4 times a year; I don’t need a rear ladder and roof rack and I most assuredly, don’t want extra holes in the roof and back wall. Besides, I would need a second ladder anyway, so why have two? I need one for washing/waxing the sidewalls and checking caulking around windows and door. AND, I found the BEST ladder (in my most humble opinion), at least, for this size trailerthe Telesteps model 612FC. This is not their standard design whose upper sections drop into the lower sections. The 612FC is a 5 ½’ A-frame ladder that can be used for working on the sidewalls. It also locks open to an 11 ½’ straight ladder for getting on the roof. Pretty cool.
Granted, my choices aren’t the norm, but that's to be expected. Occasionally, some even follow up on a suggestion.
The Olympian Wave 6 is rated to heat 230 sq. ft., with three adjustments from 3,200 – 6,000 BTUs. I wanted a Wave 8 but one was not readily available. The Nash is only 152 sq. ft. but I don’t think the 6 will be enough. I’ve heated my last trailer (95 sq. ft.) with two 3,000 BTU propane catalytic heaters when it was down in the teens and single digits and windy, and 6,000 BTUs was barely adequate. We’ll see. Besides, I’m supposed to be using the furnace to heat the enclosed area around the tanks (even though the black and white will be empty and the gray will only have 4 or 5 gallons at the most).
The 17K came with something called an ‘oven.’ Don’t know what it’s used for. A friend told me an oven is where Alice B. Toklas brownies come from. So I open the door from time to timebut no brownies. There must be more to it; I’ll have to ask her to elaborate.
Since it’s just me, I only use the galley sink. I attached a mirror on the inside of an overhead cabinet door that I use for shaving (it needed a wedge behind it). Just like in my last trailer, I use the bathroom sink for a fruit bowl. Works well.
I will not be using the shower so I put up an expandable rod (no place for hangers in the 17K), a clothesline, took down the curtain and put clothespins on the hooks. Siscily painted these clothespins.
I installed a cat door in the bathroom door and put the litterbox in the shower stall and M&M’s food and water next to the fruit bowl. This, however, gives Mesa the opportunity to be a twit. If he hears Meadow go into the bathroom, he goes over to sit outside the door so he can jump on her when she comes back out through the door. Who needs a TV?
Remember Theresa gave me three garlic cloves and five basil plants when I passed through Moab in October? You can see the garlic plants made it through the winter, but I only managed to keep one of the five basil plants alive. Sorry Theresa. I covered them whenever I felt the inside of the trailer was going to drop down into the 20’s by morning but it wasn’t enough. It’s sure a treat to have fresh garlic greens and basil.
I bought a 2 ½” piece of PVC, wrapped it with sisal rope (as in my last trailer) and put it around the narrow table leg for a scratching post.
I purchased a new bed for M&M. They won’t use it! I’ll be dropping it off at a thrift store.
The dealer filled the water tank and I used the system to be sure it works. I found myself using way too much water however, even being careful to keep the flow light. After using up the water in the tank, I went back to my preferred method with just a 4-gallon Reliance jug in the galley so I’m now back to my two-gallons-a-day of water use.
With my lifestyle, one thing I’m thankful for is campgrounds. It’s pretty much a given, that if one goes ‘camping,’ they will go to a campground, be it a national forest, BLM, state, private, county, or national park. They plan their route and know where they will spend each night. A few, more adventurous individuals, drive up national forest or BLM roads, pull off to the side and set up camp (not much better). Comparatively few go down spur roads off the primary forest roads looking for more secluded spots. Campgrounds do a great job keeping most people off the spurs and away from the kind of places where I like to set up camp. Because of this and that, it took quite a while this year before I got back into my kind of camping.
I’m gettin’ kinda spoiled. I was driving down a narrow spur road that some vehicles had driven through when it was muddy and now there were hardened deep ruts. The Nash just took them in stride, no problem. My last trailer would have been rockin’ and bouncin’, throwing stuff around inside (even though packed away for a moving day).
If the daytime temps are below the mid-70s, I set-up in the sun. I want early morning sun coming in my back windows first thing in the morning to warm up the rig. Just before it’s warm enough, a number of things that can be done to keep the trailer cool for the rest of the day without resorting to an A/C or fans. Most people wait too long before tweaking the rig from warming it up to keeping it cool. You’ll see RVs parked in shade even in cooler weather. It’s as if the idea of ‘camping’ equates with setting up in shade. "Why use natural means of cooling and heating your rig when you have A/C and a furnace?" Unreal. But then again, it’s not like these people have much of a working knowledge of camping skills.
I’m presently in the Wallowa Whitman national forest and it’s been flurrying for three days. There’s also been way more rain than I’m used to. You can see where M&M have been spending most of their time. They look out a window, see those flakes and go right back to sleep.
Some nights have been down in the 20’s (30’s in the Nash when I get up in the morning to turn on the furnace or Wave). Puddles outside are frozen over. It’s the end of May as I’m writing this. Sure glad summer is coming.
The windows have a ¾” lip around the inside of the frame. I cut reflectix panels to fit each window so I’ll be ready for cold weather in the fall. I also bought some thermoback curtains that I will cut to size, hem and hang. I’ll rig something so I can quickly hang them up on cold nights. I would not want them up all the time. This should be enough to handle all the glass. After winters in my last trailer, just about anything will be an improvement.
I like the bow trusses on the Nash. There won’t be any standing water up on the roof. My friend David, from Bisbee, suggested I should harvest rainwater, if there is an opportunity when I’m disperse camping for an extended stay. I won’t even have to run hoses from the Nash’s rainspouts. With the crowned roof and rain gutters, the water pours down straight from the rainspouts. I would just jack up the trailer a bit so the water comes off the back two and place buckets underneath. Nice and easy.
However, my solar panel was mounted on the slope rather than at the top of the hump. So more than half the time, the panel is sloped away from the sun. Not good. At some point, I might extend the two lower legs so it lies flat. You will always hear it is best to tilt the panel towards the sun. My last panel stayed flat and I rarely did not get an adequate charge. But I think it had better cells than my present panel. It’s not really an issue since I don’t use much electricity. RVers need way more juice.
I will be heading down to the Dale area to spend a couple weeks in the Umatilla national forest. Afterwards, I’ll probably go south a bit to the mountains around John Day and those west of Mount Vernon for most of the summer. We’ll see. I have not been to this area so I have no idea what I will find. But all I need is spur roads and the Oregon DeLorme shows quite a few in these areas. I REALLY do not want to do much driving until I start to head south for the winter. I’m still maxed out from the trip north.
May sixty minutes sixty years2100 minutes
May Triple 18pecs/delts: 1925; core: 1810; legs: 1915
RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’
FOR INDEX OF POSTINGS GO TO JULY 2006