Friday, June 20, 2008

Where Do I Begin?

I can set up all by myself!

It felt so empowering when, first thing this morning, I set up the camper all by myself - in about 1 minute flat. Wow. (The lessons in backing up the trailer will come later - then I'll be fully empowered...)

Climbing inside, I opened all of the cupboards and storage and then just sat down and stared. Where will we keep everything? How should it be organized? Can we get it all in?

When we we talking about buying a camper, we had the discussion about how neither of us wants to bring "everything including the kitchen sink" because we now have the shell to haul it. We have always enjoyed the simplicity of camping and the creativity that camping with "less" requires. Hmmm...

So there I sat - for quite some time. I just sat and looked around and imagined how we'd use the space.

We purchased the bunk model of the Chalet XL for a few reasons. 1) Our growing boys may eventually end up as tall as their father and may need some room to stretch out; 2) Our boys are small now so they can share the top space while our hairy dog (Collie mix) can be contained in the bottom space (with cushions removed, of course!); and 3) Jay felt there were more storage options with the open space known as the bottom bunk.

So, the first thing I did was stack the bottom bunk cushions on top of the top bunk cushions to open up the lower bunk (floor) for storage. I don't love having the cushions stacked 2-high, but where else are we going to store them without getting them dirty or taking up lots of space in our garage or house?

On the other side, since we intend to do most of our eating outdoors, we plan to leave the dinette down and the bed made most of the time.

Our stove in the camper is built-in. We feel we will want to do most of our cooking outdoors, so we will want to bring along our regular camp stove and propane bottles.

We have a couple of large "Rubbermaid-type" bins that we've stored most of our camping equipment in for tent camping. I can eliminate one bin right away - no tent, ground cloth, sleep pads, sleeping bags, tent sealer, back-packing stove and pots. That all stays at home.

The other bin I repacked for anything we'd need outside: roasting forks, hatchet and saw, bat, ball, gloves, small water toys, kids' chairs. This will stow under the bunk during transit and sit outside the camper upon arrival.

I kept thinking I would take all of my silverware/cooking utensils in and out of the camper depending on the weather. But, I decided to put a high-sized tray in the camper so I can carry out the things I would need for a meal and leave the rest in the camper.

Our fridge, although the height of a tall dorm refrigerator, is not as roomy. And it has a silly freezer in it. I doubt the freezer will do much good, and it takes up space. I measured all of the shelves in the fridge and door and I think I'll look for some containers that might fit well in there. I'll also need a couple of containers for dry goods like oatmeal and cereal. I'm not ready to install shelves or purchase drawer dividers, etc. until we've lived in the camper a time or two. So, we'll have to find ways to store things in what we've got.

Did I mention that I'm claustrophobic? Just the idea of digging for things in small dark spaces under cushions with two children jumping on me makes me tremble! So, my objective is to start out organized - making things easily accessible - and STAY that way!

I discovered our best storage spot is in the far back corner under the bench. Argh! Impossible to get to that spot! We'll have to add an access door there. Wait. The lift bar at the rear side doesn't leave much room for an access door. Darn! Guess I'll store things here that we 1) don't use that often, or 2) need to stow for travel but will have out while we're camping (water jug, cook set, beach towels).

I took measurements of everything and, armed with a list of some basics we needed from the hardware store, headed out to see what my storage options might be...

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