The Dog House
Camping and RV'ing Page
My family also had been campers. We started in tents, then moved up to a pop-up camper. We traveled to Colorado in the Summers where we spent quite a bit of time in the Rockies around Leadville and Twin Lakes. I have been to the top of Mt. Elbert - the tallest peak in the United States Rocky Mountain range. I was a Scout, including the requisite 10 day trip to Philmont. I continued to enjoy camping and backpacking after arriving in Texas, though over the years I have become less inclined to sleep on the ground... Especially after a long day of windsurfing.
When Lynne and I first got together, I had just started
using a truck topper for shelter on my campouts. It was a bit more
weather resistant than tents, especially when we traveled to the coast.
That continued to work for us for a couple more years. Finally
in 1999, we grew tired of the cramped conditions. The age and condition
of my 1988 Chevy also played into the equation. So we started shopping.
In October 1999, we bought a Ford F-350, which was soon followed by
what's called a slide in camper. The camper is made by a company called
Lance. Roughing It ain't what it used to be.
The truck is a 2000 model year. Because Max (my dog) always goes camping with us, I wanted the crew cab version. And because I knew we'd have quite a load on most of the time, I opted for the dual rear wheels... Plus, I've always wanted a dually. Then the next requirement (for the camper) was the long bed version. With those selected, the default engine in the truck was the 6.8L Gas V-10. I thought long and hard about upgrading to the diesel, but eventually decided the V-10 was sufficient. As of this writing and three years of ownership, we've got just a shade over 33,000 miles on it. And probably 26,000 of those are carrying the camper.
As for why we chose the camper we did, I already had the trailer full of windsurfing gear, so a travel trailer or fifth wheel was not really an option. And after waffling around about buying a motorhome we decided that they were too big for the kind of traveling we do. So we went with the Lance. It's their model 1010. Some of the features include a queen sized bed in the cabover, a microwave, 8 cu ft fridge/freezer, full bath with shower and air conditioning. It really is quite comfortable. If you'd like to learn more about what drove us into truck camping and some of the features of our camper, you can check it out here:
The Rolling Dog House
The Texas Parks and Wildlife has it's own web server that has lots of good info on it (though at times it's kind of thin in some important areas, like park maps). Some of the parks we've really enjoyed include: Cooper Lake SP - South Sulphur Branch, Ray Roberts SP - Isle du Bois Branch, Eisenhower SP, Cedar Hill SP, Palo Duro Canyon SP and, of course, Mustang Island SP.
And now you can make reservations for many campgrounds right on the Net. ReserveAmerica does state parks for a limited number of states, and ReserveUSA handles reservations for federal parks and Corps of Engineers facilities. Just be aware that you will have to create an account to use these services, and neither site is very reliable. I usually get "server down" type messages when checking campsite availability.
What about campfires? You better check the Burn Ban map before you plan on roasting any marshmallows... Texas Burn Ban Map
Since this is the age of the internet and you'll need a
certain amount of gear to go camping, here are links to some of the major
sporting goods stores:
Obviously there are Mom & Pop camping stores all over the country. Army Surplus stores can also be a great source of gear. So be sure to check your yellow pages.
Some major manufacturers of camping gear:
Since there are probably thousands of companies making camper gear, I can't list them all. But I've owned or still own equipment made by the companies listed above. And for the most part, I've been very pleased.
Some first-rate personal websites that I've learned from or just enjoyed:
The 12volt Side of Life - The best part of
Fulltime RV Resource
Batteries by phred
Unicat - You'll be able to go just about anywhere in one of these...
Having been an avid internet junkie for many years now, I've spent a lot of time searching for information on various subjects. It should be no surprise that when it comes to camping and RVing, there are thousands of websites dealing with the subjects. I've visited hundreds of sites and message boards, especially during our search for the Rolling Dog House. And while there's a lot of good info out there, you will also run into people with agendas, people with no clue and plain old mean people.
~~ So some words of caution ~~
With that all said, I'm reluctant to recommend any good message boards. All of those that I have participated in have let the readers down at some point. And the people who are really good at the camping thing spend more time doing it than writing about it... On that note, I think I'll go camping.