Like many dad's of divorce, I don't get to see my kids nearly as much as I would like to.
Our new/used pickup truck camper has done nothing but help us to make the most out of the time we do get to spend together.
When I found myself single again, the cab-and-a-half half-ton pickup seemed like a good deal.
It doesn't exactly sip fuel, but I have owned rigs that are thirstier but less versatile.
When I pick up the kids for our weekends together my son claims the jumpseat in back for his own while my daughter wants to be up front where she can be close to the stereo controls (Dad cannot be trusted with the stereo).
When I saw the old pickup camper on Craiglist it seemed like too good of a deal.
Frankly, it was.
Most of the lighting fixtures didn't work, I was afraid the stove was going to explode, and the bathroom was questionable.
Surprisingly, the refrigerator worked.
My years of tent camping taught me that the picnic coolers I was used to were only useful for keeping stuff cold, but not for getting stuff cold.
On our first trip with the camper, the lettuce froze! Fixing up the rest has been a fun project.
Any way, as much of a wreck as the old pickup truck camper was, it was too cheap to pass by, so I loaded it into the truck and hauled it home.
The kids and I had done a lot of tent camping the summer before, so I pretty much had every thing I needed.
I loaded the kids' stuff in before I went to pick them up, and boy, were they surprised.
That first weekend we drove to the lake just outside of town, one of our favorite spots for picnicking if we didn't want to go for a full blown camping trip.
It is just far enough of a drive that it is usually late when we get home.
This time we got to enjoy the sun going down and the stars coming out.
Just as the evening was getting cold enough that my daughter decided it was time to give up and go to bed, she stood up, looked around and said "Wow, suddenly, camping.
" I don't think there is anywhere here in the Pacific Northwest that is more than an hour away from a National Forest.
One of the great things about National Forests is National Forest Service Campgrounds.
For many truck campers, the best part of Forest Service Campgrounds is that they are free- you can stay for up to 14 days.
The downside is that the facilities are rather limited.
You get a picnic table, a fire ring, a place to park and not much else.
However, you are treated to privacy and incredible views.
We have taken advantage of this several times when we were tent camping.
One of the downsides of tent camping is that you need to get to the campground early enough to set up camp.
It is less of a problem in the pickup truck camper.
Find the most level spot to park you can, lower the camper-jacks, and set up in done.