Go RVing?

Two photos from our first real campground experience.

I’ve been camping since I was a kid. My family camped with an elaborate setup of tents and equipments on family vacations until I was about 11 years old. That’s when my dad caught a nasty cold and decided on comfort. My parents bought a 22-foot Prowler pull trailer that could sleep seven [little] people. That gave us all the comforts of home.

My family always camped in campgrounds that had at least partial hookups, even when we tent-camped. Mike and I, however, have always favored “dry camping” on public land and parks. We’re not the kind of people who like to be compartmentalized in a parking spot surrounded by other campers. Once, when we were camping at a park in Hawaii, everyone else set up their tents in a big field. We passed all that up and set up our tent on a cliff overlooking the ocean. At night, we could see the lights of the big island in the distance, we listened to the sound of the restless sea’s waves on the rocky shore below us — not our fellow campers.

Anyway, about a year and half ago, in preparation for a summer-long helicopter gig that didn’t happen [yet], I bought a 21-foot pull trailer. We’ve used it a number of times for helicopter gigs: at the Mohave County Fair, Big Sandy Shoot, COPPERSTATE Fly In, etc.

The camper is rigged for dry camping. It has a solar panel on the roof that keeps its batteries charged, so we have plenty of power for the lights and stereo and water pump. It holds 40 gallons of fresh water and has gray water and black water tanks to hold what goes down the drain or down the toilet. The fridge and water heater run on gas. Water is our big limiter; if we take very short showers every other day and use paper plates for all meals, we could probably last a week. But if we’re out for longer than three days, we bring extra water in up to four 7-gallon containers.

Most recently, we used the camper for a weekend-long stay in the Parker area, where I’d been hired to do an aerial photography gig of the Parker 425 Off-road race. Since we’d planned to bring Jack the Dog and Alex the Bird with us and since our camper isn’t very easy to keep warm on cold desert nights, I decided to reserve a spot in a campground. We wound up in Buckskin Mountain State Park (highly recommended if you don’t mind camping in a pleasant parking lot), right on the Colorado River. And for the first time ever, we had a full hookup: water, electricity, and sewer.

The main benefit of this is that we could use a very quiet electric heater to keep the camper warm at night. The gas heater that’s part of the camper has a very loud fan and goes on and off all night long. With the electric heater — which our batteries could not run — we got a very comfortable good night’s sleep.

Which is kind of important when you plan to spend the next day chasing off-road racers with a helicopter.

Anyway, after the race gig, Mike and I came back to the campground. We took Jack the Dog for a walk up to an overlook right above the campground. And that’s where I shot this photo. It reminds me of all those Go RVing commercials they have on television. It also shows what Arizona is like in the winter time, when the snowbirds come around in their $300,000 motorhomes and set up in transient RV neighborhoods like this campground.

 
In case you’re wondering, our camper is the small one just to the right of the big spread of green indoor/outdoor carpeting. That’s where our next door neighbors had set up an enclosure for their tiny dog, which spent all of its time on the dashboard of their motorhome, yapping at whoever went by.

And because you know I can never leave an interesting scene without trying that fisheye lens, here’s another shot from the same spot. That’s the Colorado River bending around the campground. The 10.5mm lens exaggerates the bend a bit, but it really does bend quite sharply here, making an interesting spot along the river.

 
And, for the record, neither of these shots have been cropped.

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