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Been a busy year

Been a busy year. Been an exciting year! After almost 34 years with the same company, last 20 years on the same project, I retired June 2020. Two days after retirement we started on a long celebration trip. Figured we were as isolated traveling in the camper as we would be sitting home so why not. You can follow along our route by using this link Trip Map to google maps. Each pin is a campground with picture of the campsite. The first week was spent visiting my youngest daughter, then on to Knoxville, TN for a few days with our first daughter and granddaughter. https://i.imgur.com/0pGsJ6ml.jpg We prefer to travel without reservations and COVID made this a bit more interesting. Lots of places where we would just normally show up for a FF site went to reservations only. This is fine when traveling within cell service, but since we tend to stay off the beaten path, not so easy. Once we arrived at a campground which provided a land line phone to make the reservation. However, they closed at 4pm on Friday so wasn’t any good to us when we arrived at 6pm. Overall though, by making reservations a few days out when we had phone service, worked out. So on up through Missouri, across Kansas, up to Nebraska, and South Dakota we went. We found some huge mushrooms at Mushroom Rock State Park, Kansas https://i.imgur.com/DQDYBQWl.jpg We stopped at Minooka Park on Lake Wilson. It was pretty windy but at least the wind kept the flies at bay. Plus we had a wonderful sunset that evening. https://i.imgur.com/9dnPVTAl.jpg We were lucky enough to grab a site in Badlands for two nights. This gave us time to do a little bit of hiking. https://i.imgur.com/zyg8mw1l.jpg Never rained where we were but to see this one on the horizon in such a dry area was neat. https://i.imgur.com/uGCh1rpl.jpg We then decided to go visit the Black Hills for a few days before heading north. It was time to find something with power, showers, and dump which we found at Rocky Point State Park. The first evening, we were introduced to the hazardous weather speaker system. While the voice over the speaker was muffled I managed to make out enough to do some quick detail checking. Yep, we were right in the path of a severe thunderstorm with golf ball size hail and 70mph winds. We quickly strapped a board over the bedroom vent and put truck floor mats over the two rear vents. Good thing too because it hit us square on the back of the camper. https://i.imgur.com/rQbNBedl.jpg Even with the row of trees behind us, we now have a dimpled camper. If you’ve never been in a hail storm in a metal camper, you can’t imagine the noise level. Hail storm Video Luckily, we didn’t get any damage that needed to be repaired immediately. Only thing was the rear edge of the bedroom vent was broken in several places which I repaired with painters tape, though all the breakage was outside the gasket. A few days later back in the Black Hills, we ran into someone packing up to go home because they had been at a restaurant 5 miles from the campground where they were pounded with softball size hail taking out every roof penetration cover and cracking the truck window. Then came the crisis of finding a spot with power for July 4th weekend due to the heat. While we lucked up with a site, it was 300 miles eastward so we had to double back. Turned out to be such a nice place, we stayed an extra day. Cross Ranch State Park is a heavily cottonwood area with all the sites a very short distance to the Missouri River. https://i.imgur.com/8rQXNzxl.jpg Had a little rain shower while trying to cook diner so made a quick cover with the 8x10 tarp I carry. That’s my hiking stick which I used as a prop rod. https://i.imgur.com/EEUpsfOl.jpg Next stop was Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. This was the one spot we really wanted to hit this trip as we had not made it to North Dakota in our travels yet. There are 3 different sections to the park and we managed to hit all 3 sections of the park. North unit is greener with the Missouri River flowing through it. That is a herd of buffalo in the water. https://i.imgur.com/OyuARjQl.jpg South section is more arid but still plenty of wildlife. Our favorite here were the wild horse. https://i.imgur.com/UvaTwExl.jpg On the west side of the south unit, accessed from a dirt road a couple of exits down from Medora, is the Wilderness section which has some petrified stumps. Was a little surprised with the stump portion as I’m used to trees. So we made the mile hike out to area to see. https://i.imgur.com/v8egiHzl.jpg The first night we stayed in a BLM campground just outside the park where we watched a massive hail producing storm split right around our spot. After our previous encounter with hail, we didn’t want to experience it again. On our second night in the park, we choose to boondock finding a wonderful spot requiring 4wd to negotiate the ditch but well worth it as we looked down on. https://i.imgur.com/ETQvGEYl.jpg We also had another beautiful sunset and later could see Medora light up. https://i.imgur.com/5daHJDKl.jpg Next few days were spent working down to Yellowstone. One place we came across was Charles M Russell Wildlife Management Area. Drove up this 4wd road and found a great place to pull off. Gave us views of the Missouri River and somehow cell service which was amazing considering I couldn’t see any lights or towers at night. https://i.imgur.com/XRzG8Ojl.jpg https://i.imgur.com/sCHi4Bgl.jpg https://i.imgur.com/ucxkL6Ol.jpg https://i.imgur.com/YaDTavkl.jpg One of the apps we use for finding campgrounds is Ultimate Campground. They concentrate on government operated campgrounds and dispersed camping sites. If you pay a fee, you can even download a cvs file. After a tad bit of manipulation, the file can be loaded into Garmin Basecamp and a Nuvi. This makes finding a remote campsite much easier traveling remote. The next campsite, Half Moon was found this way. It was 12 miles up a gravel road with the last mile getting fairly rough but doable in 2wd. By talking to other campers, we found a nice waterfall just a short hike up the stream https://i.imgur.com/0bp6bsGl.jpg Tired of being hot, we decided to head for higher ground. So we set our sights on Bear Tooth Highway. The drive up was very interesting and a piece of cake as long as shear drop offs, narrow roads, or switchbacks don’t bother the driver. Looking up the valley and we aren’t even near the top yet. https://i.imgur.com/q07NBNWl.jpg Us at the overlook about 3/4 of the way up. https://i.imgur.com/wDx0fFQl.jpg Clear, glacier feed mountain lake. Would have loved to hike down to it but my health doesn’t allow much hiking over 10,000ft. https://i.imgur.com/qfvQ2sIl.jpg Yellow Bellied Marmot https://i.imgur.com/yNJ0rfgl.jpg Pica. Only found above 8,000ft as they can’t stand the heat. These fellas are hard to photograph since they are always scampering around collecting food. But every once in a while, they will pause on a rock just long enough. https://i.imgur.com/FYOz7YVl.jpg After you cross Bear Tooth Pass on the way to Yellowstone, if you keep you eye out you get a glimpse of a waterfall on the right. Years ago, the road actually went over the waterfall but was rerouted with the new bridge. There are places on the side of the road to pull over so you can walk up the old roadbed just a few hundred feet. https://i.imgur.com/oRHlarol.jpg We decided we wanted to stay in Yellowstone a few nights so we called Xanterra to see what we could snag. Because we didn’t care which campground, were small, and willing to change sites each day figured we could get something. They were helpful and we quickly found a site in Grant Village for 4 nights. Turns out it was for a 40’ motorhome so we had tons of space to park our little camper. To help avoid the crowds, we would try to get up early, some times maybe too early. While we were the only ones there, we couldn’t see much due to all the fog and steam. https://i.imgur.com/G1Art1sl.jpg The Grand Prismatic Pool shrouded in some steam and sun still blocked by all the fog this morning. We would walk to it 3 times and never get a good picture. https://i.imgur.com/g2yBklLl.jpg We decided to do the 3 mile hike to Fairy Falls. It was busier than we had hoped so didn’t stay long but definitely worth the hike. https://i.imgur.com/4r6UATel.jpg On the way out, we finally had fantastic views of Prismatic Pool from an overlook on the trail to the falls. https://i.imgur.com/YcUeRkIl.jpg Sapphire Pool, crystal clear as always. https://i.imgur.com/T3H3Fwll.jpg Love the different colors you can find. Most people take in the big picture but forget to look at the details. https://i.imgur.com/wZ6z8OAl.jpg Saw a bunch of elk. Watched this small group cross the river. https://i.imgur.com/BCMzs81l.jpg Even had time to visit the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. https://i.imgur.com/9WdwMHdl.jpg Now was the time to start slowly heading back east. We still had weeks to go before needing to be home for doctors appointment. So when we saw something about wild horses, we just had to investigate. We saw a few on the paved road but learned most of the herds were father up on Pryor Mountain. Map showed an interesting way to go, Burnt Timber, Route 1018. Of course, interesting and challenging kind of mean the same when we go off the beaten path. https://i.imgur.com/lF6TphMl.jpg We finally found a good place to pull over for lunch before heading down. https://i.imgur.com/ImKPcEpl.jpg If it hadn’t been almost 90 degrees and early in the day, we would have just spent the night here just for the views. https://i.imgur.com/Pf6N6gal.jpg But we had been advised by a jeeper that we wouldn’t make it to our destination. When I walked up the road a little bit, I saw where the road went. That combined and with the temps being almost 90*, we decided to head back the way we came and try for some higher ground. https://i.imgur.com/1a5fUeil.jpg Anytime I have talked about crossing the Big Horn Mountains, advise is always given to take 16 over the south end or take 14 over the north end but don’t take the shorter 14A. So naturally we had to go up 14. All I can say is that is the steepest long climb we have done. We had plenty of power to spare but was down 1st gear as 2nd was just wouldn’t keep the rpms up where they needed to be. But the views are worth the climb if you have the rig. https://i.imgur.com/uQfAVcLl.jpg Our reward was a campsite on the side of a single track with an old cabin just down the road and nothing else around us. Instead of 9pm temp in the 80s, we enjoyed temps in the low 60s by sunset and a low in the morning in the 40s. https://i.imgur.com/chnyy0zl.jpg The last scenic stop we had was Devil’s Tower. We enjoyed a stroll around the base despite the heat. Would loved to stay at the National Park campground but it was still closed due to COVID. Instead we settled for a no thrills side of the forest road in the nearby Black Hills. https://i.imgur.com/buHSgRhl.jpg The next morning we stopped at a Fire Tower. Normally you could go up to the top and the watcher would explain how they use the equipment. Instead, all we could do was go as far as the bottom of the tower and talk to the guy from 100’ away. After getting back in the truck I told my wife I was done with dealing with the COVID limitations so we made a be-line from home. A week later we had returned home and buttoned down for the fall/winter waiting on COVID to ease up. We knew we wanted to move to TN closer to my granddaughter and the mountains. Wife always wanted to buy a house in TN before selling our current house in Charleston. So I was very surprised when she told me one day “Let’s just go ahead and get the house sold with the market so good.” Three months later we had worked hard, moved all of our belongings to a storage unit in TN. Replaced the counter tops with Granite, put in new carpet, even made the garage look as clean and pristine as the inside of the house. https://i.imgur.com/8Wzsgkul.jpg https://i.imgur.com/e5aZ7Vul.jpg https://i.imgur.com/aS1szEMl.jpg The day the carpet folks showed up to install the new carpet, we moved into the camper. This was on March 28 which is when we started living full time in our Lance 815. On April 1 the house went on the market with the closure on April 28th – No going back now! We use my daughter’s house as home base. So after getting new driving license, setting up new doctors, and a few other things, we were finally free to travel. All this took longer than we had planned, but we did get some local camping trips in while waiting on appointments. Tired of being stuck in one place for 3 months we finally set sail on July 3. So if you see us on the road (minus the Granddaughter), be sure to say “Hi!” https://i.imgur.com/5DUSAhzl.jpg Epilogue: So, what’s been going on since July 3? We have put over 11,000 miles on the truck, spent 109 nights in 77 different campgrounds. We have been in 16 different states and visited 18 National Park Service sites. And YES!!!!! We are still enjoying Full Timing in a small Truck Camper.
kohldad 10/17/21 08:56pm Truck Campers
RE: New truck and TC.

Unless they changed the transmission ration, go with the 4.10s. My father has the 2015 HO with 3.73s and find he needs to ride a bit on the faster side to keep the rpms up enough so it doesn't feel like he is lugging the engine. The 4.10s will also help with resell later to someone who wants it as a work truck. Fuel mileage is going to be about the same regardless of the ratio.
kohldad 09/05/21 09:10pm Truck Campers
RE: Do pass-through windows leak?

My 2004 Lance 815 pass through window never leaked when I carried it on my 2004 Ram. Then I switched to a 2015 Ram where I had to add a 3/4" spacer under the truck camper. It leaked during heavy rains and I dealt with it leaking for a year. Finally added a piece of vinyl siding J-channel to the bottom side of the cab over and no more leaks. So my thought is any window had the chance of leaking giving enough water driven by enough window. IF you eliminate the widow, you eliminate the chance of it leaking. Personally, I will always want the pass-through window as I use it for my low point vent which when combined with a roof vent slightly open creates enough of a draft to remove moisture preventing condensation problems.
kohldad 09/04/21 09:19pm Truck Campers
RE: Grey and Black Water Dumping - Back End Sits Higher

Don't worry about it unless you are trying to do a good cleaning flush. I often dump with the front lower due to dump station designs which only means I don't get a complete dump. To make matters worse, my tank is a flat bottom tank. Have over 500 nights with over 150 dumps without a problem or buildup.
kohldad 08/14/21 10:57pm Truck Campers
RE: Question: too much camper - too little truck

First, load it up like you would for a trip and take it for to the scales. If the axles/tires aren't overloaded, then you can put some mods to it. Bouncing is caused by warn shocks and heavy rear. Upgrade the shocks and look into some airbags. Leaning can be lessened by adding a heavy rear sway bar. Depending on the age of the truck, it may not even have one. Make sure your tires are E-rated and inflated to max pressure. Or you can get a very sweet fine handling unit by upgrading to a dually as has been mentioned.
kohldad 07/05/21 09:46am Truck Campers
RE: Lance camper skirt

I have a set but am holding on to them until I sell the camper in case the next owner needs them. They are pretty hard to find and become harder every day. I am assuming he is carrying the 815 on a short bed truck. Hopefully at least a 3/4 ton because the unit gets to be pretty heavy when all loaded up. Last time I ran across the scale I had 3,500# between the camper, stuff inside, and what I had on the back seat. A set of sheet metal boxes is probably going to be about your best bet. The boxes need to house the tail lights, a side market light if you use flush tail lights, and have a wing that goes far enough forward to obscure the truck's tail lights.
kohldad 07/01/21 07:06pm Truck Campers
RE: When do you upgrade

My father has a 40ft MH, 36ft FW, and an 11' TC. Depending on how long he stays depends on which one he takes. I've gone through a 94 30' TT when my kids were babies, a 2004 35' FW when they were teenagers, and now an 8' TC for just the two of us. We may end up with a TT again for when we slow down and spend more time in one location.
kohldad 06/30/21 09:10pm Truck Campers
RE: License plates

Over 60,000 miles over 9 years with current truck. Over 50,000 miles over 4 years with the previous truck, same camper. Plate has always been obscured by my fold up steps, more so with the current truck since I switched to a 3-step design. On both vehicles you could see there was a tag but not read off the numbers. Never been stopped. Was in SC until recently when moved to TN. But both states don't require tagging or registering vehicle. Both states consider the camper cargo. And since the tag must be permanently attached to the vehicle, it cannot be moved to the camper. Therefor my tag always stays on the rear of the vehicle.
kohldad 06/30/21 09:06pm Truck Campers
RE: Evaporative Coolers for Lance

Get the smallest roof AC unit u can get, I think this will be a 9200BTU, not the standard 13,500 BTU that most have. 9200 is plenty for a TC your size. Agree. The 13,500 will quick cycle once it has initially brought the unit down to temperature. With quick cycling, it doesn't run long enough to bring the temperature down. The 9200 will run more money, but worth it running properly and removing the humidity from the air. I have a smaller Lance 815 with the 13,500 and have to switch it off, let the camper heat up, then turn it back on. Have to do this so the compressor cycle is long enough for it to remove enough moisture in the air so things don't feel damp. After 14 years of owning this camper, I keep thinking the 13,500 is going to die, but except for a bad capacitor, it just keeps on chuggin.
kohldad 06/08/21 08:36pm Truck Campers
RE: Truck bed camper shim

You are asking for problems supporting with a piece of plywood that doesn't give. As mentioned, it is the truck bed rails that taper. If the look really bothers you, then I would make a platform that supports the entire bottom of the camper that is tapered the entire length to match the bed rail taper. I'm not OCD about so have no problem with the difference in gap between the camper and truck bed rail. I'm engineer so once I saw the gap and new what was causing the difference, it no longers bothers me.
kohldad 05/22/21 08:42am Truck Campers
RE: Looking at Lance Lite 835 to buy

I have a 2004 Lance 815 (almost same camper). The two dimples wouldn't concern me in the least if the inside paneling looks good. I've had one from the day I purchased my camper which was 12 years and over 100k miles ago. Hasn't changed one bit. Now the jacks are a bit more of a concern. The caulking shows where the jack was originally and the black putty shows how much movement it has had over time. Sitting the camper like that for extended periods without something under neath isn't very good but shouldn't cause problems. I tried looking at the pictures to see what the metal in the front looked to see if it was still straight. This would help determine if the wood was pulling apart or just the screws coming loose. If the metal is still straight, odds are the wood is fine with the screws coming loose. This can be confirmed by trying to tighten the screws and see how much torque they can take. Don't try to pull the jack back in as even if the wood is perfect odds are they won't without removing the jacks and resealing. In regards to the shavings, Lance leaves a lot of debris in the camper during construction. They completely build it then go in with a shop vac to remove what they quickly can so not worried about comparments and such that much. Doesn't surprise me you saw shavings, probably from cutting a whoe to run wires or plumbing. I'm still finding some in my camper. Other place to check is just inside the door for soft spot or rot. IF there is any 1/4 round inside the door, that means work was done on the floor. Could just be a linoleum replacement but more than likely the plywood. Lance didn't use any 1/4 round so keep that in mind. Also check inside the propane compartment as they sometimes leak. When this area gets wet, the tie down point tends to sag. Same under the water heater though that side is less prone to leak. In the pics, this area looks good as a little bit of sag is common. $6,500 isn't a bad price if the inside is in good shape and there isn't any wood rot. My 815 is worth about $7,000 in todays market. I want to upgrade but the prices are ridiculous right now so I'm waiting a year or two. Good luck with the hunt.
kohldad 05/12/21 08:44pm Truck Campers
RE: Revisiting pop-up campers

A gasser will be fine for any TC, even at altitude. I have the rig in my signature (see several post up) and just recently did Beartooth Pass in both directions. Boondocked down some gnarly roads with careful ease. Never lacked for horsepower or torque even at 11,000'. Coming down was a piece of cake without ever worrying about the brakes due to downshifting and variable valve timing to create additional breaking. Fixing to order a dually to carry a 5,000# camper and it'll be almost identical, Ram 3500 DRW 4wd with 6.4 gas engine.
kohldad 02/26/21 03:04pm Truck Campers
RE: Revisiting pop-up campers

Considering the age, lot of TC owners sold them becouse of troubles getting to high bed. If he is doing 14'ers, I doubt getting into the bed is going to be a problem. That's usually some pretty steep climbing near the top. Since you are doing the rough roads, how much truck do you have? Ask because that is generally the significant limiting factor. Hallmark and Outfitter are the places to at least start looking if you can afford them. They aren't the lightest campers despite being pop-ups. My hard side weighs less than most of their models.
kohldad 02/26/21 05:37am Truck Campers
RE: Traveling without Jacks - contingency plan?

The only decent contingency plan is to have them stored in a location where a friend could grab them in a pinch and ship them to you. With my Lance, if I were to travel without them, I could in a pinch get a set from lots of places shipped in 2-4 days but would run about $800 to do so. I don't really see the saving of 150 pounds worth the possible inconvenience. Need a water pump changed in the middle of nowhere small gas station, may only be able to get it done if you take the camper off. Even a number of car dealerships won't be able to get to it without insisting you take the camper off. What may have been a day or two inconvenience becomes a week plus simply because you can't unload the camper. What about if the truck gets in a wreck where you have to buy another vehicle to get home? At least with the jacks, I can always unload the camper, usually in the mechanics parking lot, through some pallets under it for support/stability, and stay in it for a few days while the vehicle is being repaired. As a kid we travel in a '69 Franklin which had the jacks twist up but stick outside the camper. We traveled all over the place, my father even took it out west a couple of times. Having the jacks on was never an issue despite going through some nasty place.
kohldad 02/24/21 08:27pm Truck Campers
RE: Wolverine Loop, Grand Staircase NM

Never done it but always looking for a place to explore when I eventually get out there so did some quick checking. Video showing a guy exploring the trails off the loop. Not much of the road but he did it in an Honda SUV so can't be that rough. Youtube video There are a bunch of other videos which shows it's mostly a nice road that is maintained somewhat decently. Clear can see grader evidence in most of the videos I glanced at. The info on all trails doesn't mention needing 4wd so should be doable. All Trails Lastly, I don't see it as a one way road so you can always turn around and retrace your steps.
kohldad 02/16/21 09:14pm Truck Campers
RE: Quieter alternatives for propane furnace in extreme cold

Look into the Cirrus or Bundatec camper with the alde heat. I would not want to try and rework those type systems into a camper that came with a standard furnace. If you use a non-vented heater that burns propane, not only will you have to worry about CO poisonings, but you will also have high moisture problems.
kohldad 02/08/21 01:46pm Truck Campers
RE: Flat

Just use the factory jack. Used it on loaded truck, loaded flat bed trailer, among other things. Only time I can remember changing a tire with a bottle jack was on the road when my single axle dump was overloaded with 11 tons in the bed. The 8-ton bottle jack said that was about all it was going to pick up but did get the job done. Besides, I don't really have the room to carry an extra bottle jack. Space is all taken up as it is and I'm already heavy enough.
kohldad 02/01/21 07:21pm Truck Campers
RE: Picture trails is shutting down

SO this doesn't effect the method now? Do you know when the switch from picture trail was made? Regardless, now is a good time to browse through the Trip Report 3.0V sticky to look at some of the past trip reports. If there is a trip report along with the pictures you would like to save on your computer it is easy to do. In Chrome, click the menu (3 dots top right corner), choose "More tools", choose "Save Page As". Make sure the type is "webpage, complete". Then choose the folder you want to save it in and the file name. It will create a html file AND a folder with the same name. To open, just open the html file. All of the pictures, text, etc will be there. If you use a different browser than Chrome and don't know how, let me know and I will be glad to figure it out for you. I have over 150 trip reports from Don Curley, Whazoo, and Seldom Seen Smith already saved but will be saving a lot more over the next month.
kohldad 01/18/21 06:05am Truck Campers
RE: St Augustine Campgrounds

If you want to stay at a park with a 10-year rule, you can always talk to them and offer a current picture of your rig. This will some times give them enough info to accept you. However, some places strictly enforce the age rule because they want folks with lots of money to be the ones to come in. And their line of thinking is if you have an older rig, you don't have the money. There is one in South Carolina that actually has a 5 year rule which is strictly enforced.
kohldad 01/13/21 08:57pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: mounting extra brake lights on 1.5” struts, NO drilling.

Why not just take the cover off and then use square u-bolts to clamp them to the struts. Don't over tighten or the bolts could pull through the plastic. One bolt per light should do the trick. A little bit of RTV or rubber gasket under a washer under the nut should provide plenty of seal.
kohldad 01/03/21 09:06pm Truck Campers
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