Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekend: Part One

OMG. What a weekend it has been.

Friday, both J and I took a half day off work to go pick up the camper.

So, let me back up and tell you about this camper. Two and a half years ago, when we were looking for a horse trailer, we first looked at a two horse Bison trailer with living quarters. It was a really nice unit, with a slide, big enough for the boy to come with us, but it was pretty pricey and I had no idea how we could make it work for our daily trips to local trails. Facing the prospect of a fairly hefty monthly payment for a unit we were going to hate using every weekend caused a reevaluation. J really wanted a truck camper and regular horse trailer and I just wanted a trailer we could use all the time. We opted at that point to purchase the Maverick and wait for the opportunity to horse camp.

Since that purchase, J has done a ton of research. She's read Truck Camper magazine. She's educated herself on airbags, stable loads, overload springs, tiedowns, load stabilization bars, extended hitches, cassette toilets, water capacity, and everything else you could possibly think of as it relates to carrying a tiny house in the back of the truck while safely towing the horse trailer. She refused to consider overloading the truck, primarily because she would not risk the horses following behind. A little less than a year ago, J finally made up her mind and told me the camper she wanted was a Northstar Liberty. It had what I wanted, which was a shower, and although we knew T wasn't real excited about smaller (his favorite is the 600 sft driving monstrosity with a washer and dryer) it looked like it could work for all of us.

Our plan was to purchase the camper in the spring, but then things conspired against us (taxes, long term budget goals) so we postponed ordering the camper (there is a five month wait for delivery since this particular model is very popular) and waited. A couple of weeks ago, I told her that the milestone we were waiting on was going to happen his month and that we could look at ordering the trailer. Then I went onto the interwebs and look for distributors. There was a distributor in Grand Junction (about five hours away) but they didn't have this model in stock. Then I checked our local dealer and was shocked to find the camper on their lot. I texted J and we made plans to go out on Saturday, a week ago.

As we left the house to go look at the camper J seemed really upset at me. She had asked me earlier if we were planning on buying the camper and I said yes, since they had it and it was time. In my mind I was thinking that this was exactly what we wanted and it was here locally and we didn't have to wait, why wouldn't we buy it.  J seemed really upset by my attitude. I asked her why she was mad and she said she didn't want the camper if it had a microwave, that she wanted some very specific items on the camper and if this camper didn't have those things, she didn't want it. She said that by my deciding to buy the camper sight unseen, she had no say. I got very offended considering she had made the decision on which model without any feedback from me and having a microwave seemed like a really bad reason not to buy the camper if it was what she had decided on. The argument ended with silence and we didn't speak to each other again until after we were at the dealership and inside the camper, when I said "it doesn't have a microwave" because I'm an asshole like that.

It ended up being exactly what she would have ordered if we had ordered it from the dealership.

 Our little kitchen. Two burner stove. Small sink. 

 This is a fold down bed or storage cabinet depending on how you want to use it.
It is fairly narrow, but long enough that T will fit.

 The right side of the Queen sized bed.
Memory foam mattress. Skylight over the head of the bed. 

 There are long storage areas on either side of the bed, where clothes could be stored.

 Oversized kitchen window (one of the items J wanted) with hood that vents to the outside.
Cabinets above rather than a microwave.

 Little table that can be moved around to make more counter space if needed. 

 The table comes off and the bottom of the dinette slides out to make a bed. It will fit a short person who doesn't sleep straightened out (or small children). J could possibly sleep here.

Refrigerator with storage cabinets. Across the aisle is the toilet and shower. 

It was exactly what J wanted. It was cozy, but it has a shower (I really miss showers when I can't get them) and we will spend very little time inside when using it. It is cute and snuggly. And it has options if T decides to join us. We talked to the owner of the business, filled out the paperwork to apply for financing, and left a deposit. 

This past Friday, we went back to the dealership and picked up our new camper. We hung out in the camper while they did the tiedowns on the truck, plus put an interrupter on the battery circuit so the camper can't drain the truck battery. One of the other guys came and walked us through all of the parts of the camper and we should have taken notes, but you never know what you aren't going to remember until you are out camping. Then J backed the truck under the camper (I couldn't look until they were close to having it all the way on the truck) and we got it hooked up. I'm really hopeful that we can do it again after we take the camper off the truck for storage. 

 Still needs the tie downs.

From the front.
I wanted to call the camper Turtle, but J chose Tabitha, so we are calling her Tabi for short.

After the camper was on, tie down, and all of the things checked off the list, we went inside and signed the paperwork. Got the keys and all of the other things that we needed, then thanked Jay and all of the other guys at 5 Star RV and headed for the barn. J wanted to pull the trailer empty prior to pulling it with the horses inside and we had an appointment with Dr D on Saturday morning. Pulling the trailer went well, but then traffic made us late to T's football dinner (players and parents). We were both exhausted emotionally by the time we found our bed. We had to be out of the house by seven am the next morning. 

Hooking up the trailer with the camper in the truck was different. J and I will have to work on our communication since I have to stand on the opposite side of the trailer from where I typically stand, plus I can't stand next to the hitch to guide her in, since she can't see me. It took two tries to line up the hitch. I have no idea how people do it without help. The horses loaded easily and we were on our way.


  1. Ooo! So exciting! Truck campers are such a great idea and something I had NO IDEA existed before endurance. East coast in general really doesn't seem so into these things - in comparison, we saw them EVERYWHERE during our road trip out west this past April! Might I inquire, what reasoning led to the decision to get a hard top vs. the pop up version? I see both and wondered what led folks to choose one over the other? Weight? Ease of use?

    1. The pop-up truck campers are a nice option if you have a smaller truck, since the base weight is several hundred pounds less than the lightest of the hard sided campers. They are designed for the quarter ton, or Tacoma trucks. We had a little more leeway in our choice, because we drive a 3500 diesel and trust me when I tell you, I think this has been Js plan from the very beginning. For us, the decision was based on convenience. We've had the pop-up tent camper for 8 years and the set up is a pain in the ass. Plus, I hate the idea of a shower that is just a curtain. It seems more messy to me. The storage in our camper is easily accessed, rather than hidden under the bed, there is much less set up (the pop-up tent trailer was a two hour process to get everything set up and that again to tear down), the wind doesn't effect the hard sided camper at all, and we can camp in four season weather if we ever need to (this Liberty has the upgraded winterizing insulation). It took us ten minutes to set up and ten minutes to get ready to leave and was snugly warm even in the snow.

  2. Very exciting for you all!! I can just picture all the adventures you will have in it and I can't wait to read all about it. Dusty and I are always debating what on earth to do for this. Truck camper versus RV pulling the trailer versus LQ trailer. I will be paying attention to how you like yours!

  3. Congrats on the purchase. I really like those truck campers. As for hitching up, we had a rearview camera installed on the truck shortly after we got the trailer. The camera itself is in the license plate holder, but you do have to get it wired to a display in the truck (we had that installed as well at the same time so you don't need a factory display either). It is SO nice for hitching up. I also really like it for when I am driving the truck somewhere and need to park it.