The Olympic National Forest.
Let me take you back in time to a few months ago. This past March, you may remember, a friend of mine and I loaded a picnic lunch into the big white truck and took off for a day-trip to explore the Coho Campground area around Lake Wynoochee, north of Montesano on the Olympic Peninsula. We had a great day and I added that campground to my list of future destinations. Well, the future is here. I’m on my way there to go camping!
I packed the trailer with clothes and food and beverages and books and maps and my trusty camera, then hooked up the trailer to the truck, and took off down the road towards Lake Wynoochee and the Coho Campground in the Olympic National Forest.
Freeways took me from Puyallup to Olympia (on I-5) and then from Olympia to Montesano (on State Highway 12). I had intended to by-pass Montesano by taking the second exit (there are only two exits) and then heading up the “main” road to Lake Wynoochee. But I’d had two hours of driving time to think about what was for lunch, it was a hot day, and I just kept thinking about a nice fresh pie topped with some ice cold ice cream … and I did NOT have that in my truck or my trailer.
So I took a chance and took the first Montesano exit which took me right into downtown Montesano. Now, Montesano is not a big city. It might not even be called a big town. It used to be a logging town, so the streets were wide to accomodate logging trucks, which helped greatly for me and my rig. I knew where the main Thriftway grocery store was from our day-trip here a few months ago, but I was concerned about driving in town with trailer in tow and trying to park the entire rig in a town I wasn’t familiar with. I was afraid I’d get snaggled up in traffic and embarrass myself and need help to get out of a jam.
No worries, mon! See photo above. I drove right into the heart of downtown Montesano, through the only traffic light in town, made a couple of turns and drove to the first street past the grocery store and turned right again and parked in legal street-side parking within a few yards of the front door of the store. Easy as pie. Oh, yes, the pie … I bought a lovely fresh apple pie and ice cold vanilla bean ice cream. In fact, I thought that sounded so good that I scrambled around in my trailer right there and fixed myself a bite of lunch and ate it and then I sat at my table in my travel trailer and had a big slice of fresh apple pie a la mode … yum! Yep, I’m really roughing it out here. 🙂
But then it was back on the road, back through that one traffic light, and then through some residential streets of Montesano, and finally out to the country road that would take me to Lake Wynoochee. After a 50-minute drive up that winding country road (you’ll see photos of it later), I arrived at the junction of the paved road and a gravel road (photo above) … the end of the paved road. Just a little further and I arrived at Coho Campground for my five day stay there.
I had reserved campsite #39 so made my way around Loop B (having checked out the map online before I even left home) and backed the trailer into the site. It was good to be home!
Before I even had time to get the steps unfolded, Little Towhee was at the door!
She hopped right down to the parking barrier first …
… and as soon as I brought out her basket perch, she insisted on sitting on the table and started chattering with all the other birds in the forest. She is not shy.
If you are using a tablet or laptop or computer with a large enough monitor, click on the photo above and enlarge it. The beauty of the surrounding forest was almost unreal. I kept being reminded of a false background for a low-budget TV show or some very realistic wallpaper on your living room wall. But it was real … it truly was this beautiful.
Setting up the trailer.
For those of you who might be interested in knowing how I set up the trailer, here are a few photos below that show generally what I do.
The trailer needs to be as level as is reasonably possible so the propane refrigerator will run, so the head of the bed is level or very slightly uphill from the rest of the bed, and so the human occupants inside the trailer don’t feel like they are on the deck of a listing sailing ship. The yellow pads in the photo above (there are three sections hooked together here) are used to level the trailer from side to side. The tire rolls right up on them very easily. I have many of these pads that interlock. They latch together and can be used to raise one side of the trailer several inches if needed. At this particular campsite, I needed to raise the left side of the trailer only an inch or two.
Once one of the trailer tires is exactly in place on the pads that level the trailer from side to side, then these chocks (above) are snugged up under the tire on the opposite side of the trailer to prevent the trailer from rolling fore and aft (oops some boating terms just snuck in there).
The trailer tongue is then released from the truck (along with the safety chains and the anti-sway bars and the electrical cable for the lights and the break-away cable for the electric trailer brakes). The tongue jack is lowered and adjusted for height in order to level the trailer from front to back, again because of the refrigerator and the bed and the comfort of the humans.
The pavement of this campsite wasn’t quite level, so I added the 2×4’s in the photo above just to make sure the tongue jack didn’t get extended too far out of its housing.
And lastly, in the photo above, you’ll see the corner scissor jacks that are “good and snug” against the ground but never with the full weight of the trailer on them; most of the weight of the trailer should still be on the tires. The scissor jacks help prevent the trailer from rolling forward and back, and they reduce bouncing when people are moving around inside the trailer.
There are other things I do, like install the tongue locks so the trailer isn’t likely to be stolen when I’m off somewhere exploring in the truck.
There was no electrical hookup here, but at campsites where there is an electrical hookup, the VERY FIRST thing I do is use a handheld “shore power” polarity and voltage tester to make sure the campsite’s electrical outlet is working properly. (Low voltage can destroy an air conditioner for instance. A bad ground wire can destroy all manner of appliances inside your trailer.)
Then I plug the electrical cord from my trailer into the campground’s shore power receptacle and make sure everything is still working properly, and I check to make sure I’m getting proper voltage inside the trailer. I would hate to have to go through my entire setup process for leveling and such, only to discover after all that work was done that the electrical supply was not working properly and that I needed to move the trailer to a different campsite!
All of this is a very good reason to have, and to use, a checklist.
[Just a note: “Shore power” is a term used by boaters to describe electrical power available from shore at a marina. When you moor your boat at a marina’s dock, you can plug your boat into 120v “shore power” right there on the dock. This same term, “shore power”, is commonly used by RV-ing people too. I’m learning that a whole lot of RV-ing folks are former boating folks.]
Eventually, everything was in order and set up just the way I liked it with the truck offset to give me just a tad of privacy. I felt snug ….
…. as a bug ….
…. in a rug. 🙂
After dinner (and a little more pie) and a good night’s sleep, I’d be up and out the door for adventures first thing in the morning.