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Revamping a Camper Part 1

It was all my friend Yvonne’s fault. She was the one who planted the camper seed in my mind. Yvonne (pronounced Ee-von) is an outdoors girl who is at home with nature. She doesn’t wear sunscreen or makeup base, and her skin is beautiful and unmarred, unlike mine that has barnacles growing on it from sun damage. This gal doesn’t mind roughing it and can hike miles beyond any of her local friends.

Yvonne is the only person I know that didn’t panic when the TP shortage hit at the beginning of the pandemic 

Yvonne grew up camping with her family every weekend from Easter until October in Ontario, Canada, so it’s in her blood. She wanted her grandkids to enjoy the camping experience like she did, so last year she purchased a hard-sided, A-frame camper trailer and invited me to go camping with her some time. The slender, fit, nature-lover side of my  imagination said, “Yes! Let’s do this!” But then the tubby, comforts-of-home lover and outdoor wuss, real side of me said, “Hold up there, Tarzana. How many times do you have to get up to go to the bathroom during the night?”


Darn. Yvonne’s camper didn’t have a bathroom. And I couldn’t see myself stumbling out once or twice a night to squat atop a rattlesnake or surprised skunk.


So Dad and I bought a 2005 travel trailer that had the biggest bathroom I’d ever seen in a camper. A senior citizen must've designed it. Two people can even stand in it while another is showering! (not that that would ever happen). The camper itself is only 16’ long when towed, but when a queen bed is pulled out the back (only when parked), it extends to 21’. 


Click on a picture to enlarge and start slideshow

We drove up to and through Dallas to pick up the camper in Garland, and then it dawned on me that I would have to tow the camper back through Dallas to get it home. Eeeek! But it pulled just fine, thank heavens, and we got it home and parked it caddy-cornered across the back corner of our lot.


I had a couple of months to get the camper roadworthy before our first excursion. It needed a new door lock with keys, which I ordered and installed myself, a title and license (which took an entire day and visiting 3 offices: two DMV offices in separate towns and an insurance office), buying and installing a new battery, and the decor updated. Okay, that last part had nothing to do with roadworthiness; I just wanted to glamp it up. The camper also needed butane tanks, but I am hoping to use it without any gas, because gas scares me.


After the camper was legal to drive, I tackled the first phase of the revamp, which involved:


  1. removing the strips of wallpaper, 

  2. redoing the window treatments, 

  3. re-covering the bench seat cushions

  4. Re-covering the couch/bed

  5. Adding curtains

  6. Making a matching quilt

  7. Adding pillows and other personal decor

  8. Buying tools and supplies

  9. Adding plastic dishes, dish towels, and utensils from my kitchen


On its maiden outing, we planned to travel all of 10 miles to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park on a nearby lake. That was in case we had any major problems and had to come back home. I recruited my two grandsons (13 and 7 years) to help us. Between Pawpaw and Finn’s dueling hand signals (that were unrecognizable nor similar to each other), it took us an hour to get the pickup backed up and attached to the camper. And I snagged an old phone line in our new neighbors’ yard, which left it looking like a jump rope. So sorry, Ilde!


On the way out of town, we pulled in to the grocery store’s  brand new curbside service parking area (which few people used at that time) so I could run in and get the wieners I’d forgotten to buy earlier. I thought the parking lot was big enough to turn the truck and camper around, but it was too tight of a space. After about 15 minutes of trying to back out of there (unsuccessfully), the pharmacist took pity on us and spoke over the loudspeaker, for all to hear in the regular HEB parking lot, giving me permission to drive out the wrong way through their drive-through lane, thank heavens. Otherwise, we would’ve had to camp out in the HEB parking lot to practice camping. 

We arrived at the campground, and it took me at least 30 attempts to back the trailer into our camping spot. I’m sure I provided some good entertainment (for the first 5 minutes, then it got old) for our camping neighbors, but I was determined to learn and eventually got it parked.  


The boys rolled down the stabilizers, and we pulled out the extension. My youngest grandson was so excited, he said, “It’s like we’re building a house!” 


Yes, sweet boy, it’s just like that! : )



The window valances were an easy re-do; taking out the staples took the most time.


August helping Pawpaw roll down the stabilizers. The first one was fun; the 4th one was work.


Finn, August and I playing Mexican Train dominoes  while it sprinkled outside

I used colors from Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond's  palette. I made the quilt using some of my mother's quilt squares (4-Point Star pattern) she had made 25 years ago, pairing them with black checkered borders and various red and turquoise- patterned squares. Mom also made the table runner 30 years ago, but I never had any decor in my house that matched it until now. I feel like, in a small way, we're taking Momma with us on our adventures.

We had made three successful camping trips when the Pandemic hit, which forced us to cancel two other camper outings, but we're planning two more trips this summer.

Parts 2 & 3 will involve new flooring, painting inside and out, and revamping the cabinets if and when the gumption hits.

Donna Van Cleve


July 2020

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