28 Nov

Girl Camper: Episode 112 Christmas Gift Guide from our Women Entrepreneurs

On this weeks show I am highlighting the women out there who are creating beauty and sharing it with all of us. This Christmas Gift Guide is made up of the Girl Campers who create and share their talents with us. Buying a handmade gift not only supports artists but I think it’s a statement of caring. It is so easy to jump on Amazon and swipe and say “done.” I love the idea of procuring something special that you really put thought into as a way of saying to someone, “Thank you for your friendship throughout the year.” Isn’t that why we give a gift to someone? To thank them for being special in our lives? Here are the women creating beauty to share-

Dawn Wilson, is a solo woman traveler, award winning wildlife photographer, writer and entrepreneur. She has a new book out called, Preparing for the Next Shoot as well as three calendars to choose from –  Elk of Colorado, Rocky Mountain Wildlife and Inspiration From Wildlife. Dawn has been a guest on the podcast and the subject of my Go RVing blog. Her story is one of tragedy to triumph and I always love seeing her images come across the screen.

Lori Simon has an eye for nature. She sees things the rest of us walk by and she is patient enough to sit and wait for the right moment to capture the picture. She is a Vermont resident and a Girl Camper who takes her restored trailer on long road trips where she photographs the outdoors and participates in workshops. She just completed a trip that took her from Vermont to Rocky Mountain National Park and then on to Arizona. Lori’s story is also one of triumph over adversity and is part of my Go RVing lineup of can do women. Her 2018 calendar is now available.

My friend Mary Gregory creates art that takes my heart to a place I don’t ever want to leave. When I am feeling a bit overwhelmed Mary’s images bring me to a place of appreciation for the simple things in life and remind me of what really matters. She has a way of transferring hope to canvas and bringing beauty into ones day. I am so thrilled that Mary has a calendar to offer us with these soothing images on them. She is also offering Girl Campers a discount of 10% on anything on her site. Just use the code GIRLCAMPER at checkout.

And last but certainly not least, the calendar that saw me through 2017, Simone Ritter’s beautiful watercolor renditions of vintage campers. Each year Simone gives vintage trailer enthusiasts the opportunity to submit photos of their vintage trailers and she paints a painting a day for thirty days. People get to vote on their favorites and they become the upcoming years calendar pages. She has a second calendar available called Creative Journeys and it is full of her plen air paintings. Simone really paints on location in all kinds of weather and since she lives in Canada, north of Maine you know that’s cold. She has a great Instagram feed that you can follow her at as well and see her at work. Simone is giving one lucky winner a calendar, set of gift tags and a set of three greeting cards. To be eligible to win, sign up for the Girl Camper Newsletter on the homepage.

 

Our next entrepreneur is Patti Hughes, the founder and creative brain behind the brand Natural Life. I met Patti many many years ago at the Country Living Fair when her brand was starting out and it is so exciting to me when I began seeing her little treasures pop up in airport stores and gift shops. They make clothing and accessories as well as things for your home and unique gifts. It has a great happy boho vibe to it.  I was recently given the cutest little pack of thick clothespins with vintage trailer designs on them. They have a line of things called Happy Caper from t shirts to mugs to hats.  The artwork is so cheerful on everything they make and it is a company that gives back which I always love. They donate these boxes full of happy things to people in need of a pick me up or to charities for auction items. It is a box full of little sweet presents! They are giving one away to a Girl Camper. When you go on line and see their catalog you will want one of everything they make. I get their catalog in the mail and sit with it like the Sears catalog of old. There are a lot of turned corners on those pages. What I also love is the price range. There is something to give someone special to you in every price point. To be in the running for the Happy Box, head over to Instagram (girlcamper528) and find the picture of the happy box. Tag two people and share. PS Natural Life has a brick and mortar store in Jacksonville, Florida and they are in 5000 stores across the country.

I have another shop keeper whose product line I love. Our friend Jennifer Megliore. Jennifer was on episode 76 of the podcast and we talked about using your trailer as a pop up shop. Jenn is the proprietor of a beautiful shop in Hilton Head, South Carolina called Artware. She has a great online presence as well though on her site Artware Designs  and sells some great Girl Camper ware. One of my favorite things in her Happy Camper line are the National Parks puzzles. She has the National Park patches poster that has been made into a puzzle for only $24 as well as a great map of the USA puzzle. I love puzzles and if you’ve shopped for puzzles lately you know that $24 is a good price. There are five online pages of Happy Camper treats ranging in price from $7 to $40. Jenn is giving the happy campers a 10% discount as well. Thank you Jenn. I’m getting the parks patches puzzle. Say that three times fast!!

And now for the seamstresses and stampers out there. May I present Lindsay Ostrom. It is so hard to sum up Lindsay in a paragraph. She’s a lifelong creator, published author, teacher, shop keeper and now has a line of fabrics! I have followed her on Instagram forever but had the pleasure of meeting her and getting a wonderful handmade wooden Girl Camper sign from her when I was in Nevada City, California a few weeks ago at Inn Town Campground. Lindsay creates in so many mediums it is hard to pick one to apply to her. I love her lettering and scribbles and scrapbooking journals. She has some video tutorials as well and can be found on her blog LindsayOstrom.blogspot. She has a  New stitching monthly kit club of appliqué and stitching a girl a month from Just Another Button Co. coming out soon as well as the fabric line coming from Adorn. Keep watching this smart, prolific creator.

Our girl Suzie Q, known to us east coast campers simply as Q creates the most amazing crocheted tire covers. She sells them on her Etsy shop and if you don’t have the time or patience or skill for this particular project Q is your girl. She will custom make on in the colors of your choice. These make such a cute statement at the campground. Talk about camping like a girl!

Another great handmade item for the discerning Girl Camper are the camp chair sleeves made by Adrienne Leibowitz, a California SOTF with an embroidery machine. Adrienne makes covers that slip over the back of your camp chair and she can embroider the back with different  designs. I saw a great one with a cowgirl boot but she has other designs as well. They sleeves are adjustable but Adrienne will take measurements from you to customize. She makes the sleeves with your name on them, group name, or your favorite quote. She also included a pocket in the sleeve for your cell phone. She has a dozen colors to choose from and they start at $25 and go up from there depending on how many extras you choose.

Girl Camper Angelita Bonita has opened her tea room! We have been watching her mix her magic blends for friends and now they are available to anyone through her Instagram page, AngelitaBonita. Angie is a true Girl Camper who has traveled across the country camping in a tent. She and her boyfriend Damian are renovating a vintage camper and chronicling it on Instagram under the name Backroadbetty.

Last year my husband surprised me and bought me a necklace for Valentines Day from sister on the fly Caren L Cook who makes beautiful jewelry out of sterling silver spoons. She flattens the spoon and puts a little tiny vintage camper on it and then embellishes the rest of it with sparkly costume jewelry and embosses your name or whatever message you want on it. Mine says my name, sister on the fly number on it and the words Girl Camper on the bottom. Caren sells these through Facebook and you can message her via Facebook Messenger for information. They are $35 each.

Lastly, I have an item. I have not put this out there yet because I have been giving them to my little helpers and people I meet on life’s big highway but I created a new hat! It is a red baseball hat that is on the pink side actually and it says Tow Like a Girl on it.

 

21 Nov

Girl Camper: Episode 111 Stephanie Puglisi on Girl Camping

On this week’s show I welcome Stephanie Puglisi, co host with her husband and business partner Jeremy Puglisi of the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast and the Campground of the Week Podcast. Stephanie co founded the RVFTA Network and co-authored the Idiots Guide to RV Vacations with Jeremy. She is also the Producer of the Girl Camper Podcast, mom to three active boys and in her spare time, a Girl Camper. Stephanie shares some insights on this weeks show about her recent purchase of a used Pop Up trailer and how she plans to use it. She also delves into the topic of making your own choices for how you unwind, the atmosphere that can exist among women whose choices may be different than yours, and claiming your own person-hood without feeling guilty about it.

Girl Camping is not always as simple as knowing how to tow a trailer or pitch a tent. Sometimes there are dynamics involved on the home front with a husband who doesn’t ‘get it’. Sometimes women give up the dream because it’s takes too much energy to fight for it. I can say that across the board every woman I have met whose husband or partner didn’t get it and they did it anyway, came away happy they did. I can also say that the spouse who doesn’t get on board when he sees the benefits of it is the exception. Most end up pleading to have a turn.

The outside judgement can also come from a mother in law with a “I never left my children when they needed me. I was happy to be with them” attitude.  Discussing these things with Stephanie reminded me of my own start in the Girl Camping world. My husband was always on board and thought it was great. He was grateful he didn’t have to come with me. My mother in law had passed away the year before I resurrected this childhood pleasure but I can assure you she would not have liked it one bit. I would have done it anyway because there was an exceedingly immature part of me that needed to show her at every possible opportunity,  how marriage is ‘suppose’ to go. I delighted in making sure she knew that her son was completely capable of not losing any kids while I was gone.

Having these women to hang out with, do new things with and sit around the campfire with saved me! They came along when I really needed to do something fun!

Another source of judgement are the  “super hero” moms who gauge their own motherhood by the number of sacrifices they’re willing to make in order that everyone else’s lives run smoothly without realizing the toll it is taking on them. Sometimes these mothers are the ones to judge someone else’s need to recharge with a grown up time out. My own circle of friends thought I was crazy when I joined the sisters on the fly. I had just adopted a second grader. My two biological children, affectionately referred to as the “prototypes,” were in college and late high school. My mom friends judgments were across the board from the ridiculous, “How will your husband eat all weekend?” to “you’re joining a subculture. Are you sure you’re alright?”

My first Sister on the Fly trailer, a 1959 Field and Stream named Roam Sweet Home.

Having this somewhat serious conversation with Stephanie brought me back to my own feelings at the time I jumped into the girl camping movement. I was at a place where I needed to do something for myself. I was running on empty and I am not afraid or ashamed to say that. I needed something fun to do that was just mine. I needed something to look forward to. I think the five camp outs a year that I did while I was still raising my youngest saved me. When I wasn’t camping I was playing with my trailer and chatting on line with new friends and looking forward to the next outing and testing camp recipes. It all saved me. Women don’t have the right to camp out with friends because they give so much and deserve a little time to themselves. They have that right because they are human beings who require self care. It’s okay to feed your body, mind and soul with whatever you need to keep moving. It’s okay.

14 Nov

Girl Camper: Episode 110 – Building a Campground with Erin Theim

On this weeks show my guest is Erin Theim of Nevada City, California. Erin and her husband Dan are the owners of Inn Town Campground in Nevada City, California. While living in New Zealand they had the opportunity to camp New Zealand style and they liked much of what they saw in how the campgrounds operate there. When the opportunity arose in their own town of Nevada City to buy a property only one mile from the historic downtown area, they took a leap of faith and bought it to build their dream campground.

 

I had the opportunity to stay there a few weeks ago and experience the glamping tents that draw in visitors from all over the country. The Girl Campers held a camp out there and we had a chance to camp like girls but also to enjoy the beautiful downtown Nevada City.

 

Our glamping tent came fully equipped with beautiful linens, towels, heated mattress pads and a covered rear porch with a stunning view of the woods and colorful trees. Since I flew in to the Sacramento Airport to meet up with local friends I appreciated that I could camp without having to bring any equipment other than my clothing. The tent was so comfortable and clean and each bed had its own plug for charging and reading light. Each glamping tent at Inn Town Campground has been beautifully curated with finds from local antiques shops.

The gathering space off the office is like a community center and has a communal kitchen with two stoves and a refrigerator and is stocked with pots, pans, cooking  utensils and dishes. We only had to bring our food and beverages. The gang all gathered there on Friday night for a pot luck meet and greet. The three rooms are very inviting and it was wonderful meeting the other people camping there. It’s a great place for tent campers who might not want to break out the camp stove to share meals.

Attached to the kitchen and dining room is a great room with wood stove, Foos Ball table and cozy reading nooks. I was the first one there each morning to get the coffee brewing. We used this room for our meals and as a meeting place to gather for hikes.

 

There’s a one mile trail that begins at the rear of the campground and leads into town. It was an easy hike and great exercise on a fall day. We all enjoyed a great day in town shopping at the Farmers Market, souvenir shops and local artisans wares. Nevada City is an old mining town with a rich history and beautifully restored buildings. It’s where old hippies and Gen Xers peacefully coexist. It’s inviting, friendly and full of an interesting cross section of smiling, dog walking locals and day tripping tourists.

 

Erin and Dan Theim have created an urban campground with a very state park feel. You have the best of both worlds there with the deeply wooded and peaceful campground with an historic town and all its offerings a short hike away. I’m alrea working out a way to make this an annual event!

 

07 Nov

Girl Camper: Episode 109 Favorite Gear of the Year with Jeremy Puglisi

 

On this week’s show I am talking gear with my favorite gear geek, Jeremy Puglisi from the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast. It’s almost comical when Jeremy and I are camping together. Our poor spouses just sit on the sidelines while we compare our wish lists of the latest gear we saw at someone’s site, read about in a trade magazine or happened upon in the camping section of a store we went into to buy motor oil and we are now coveting.

Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi of the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast

This year it seems like I got a lot of new gear and with over 50 nights in the camper so far, it all got a thorough testing. Today I am naming my Top Five Gear additions of the 2017 season and Jeremy is chiming in with his. Warning: Gear Geeks on board – talk may be dangerous to your budget.

Ryobi ONE+ P731 18V Volt Dual Function Cordless Inflating/Deflating Air Compressor, Bare Tool

My Ryobi Air Compressor was a great addition to my tool kit and I used it daily on my National Parks Tour in the summer of 2017. It is lightweight and the lithium battery holds a charge for weeks.  It reads the tire pressure and the can be set to the desired PSI. It has two speeds for airflow.  The lower speed allows it to fill air mattresses and bicycle tires while the higher one allows for filling truck and trailer tires. It comes with adapters to inflate sporting gear and the hoses wrap and pack up tightly for storage. This retails for $39.95 and was the best bargain of the season in gear!

I travel with a Dometic refrigerated cooler that lets me have what I want for lunch, when I want it and best of all, where I want it.

The Dometic Refrigerator/Freezer was a great addition to my summer gear. It can hold 60 12 oz cans and runs on AC/DC, 12V and off of solar panels. It has a USB port built into it and a WIFI app that allows you to raise and lower the temperature remotely. The interior is lighted when you open the lid and it has an adjustable storage bin for flexible use. It can be used as a refrigerator or a freezer. I found it to be very well built with reinforced corners and heavy duty metal hinges. The compressor was very quiet and I used it at home as well as for camping trips. We plugged it in to the 110 in our car although it could have been used off the cars battery as well. We loved having our lunch each day and cold drinks and fruit with us. When we got it back each night we plugged it in on the outside of the trailer and lowered the temperature to add ice from our ice machine to it. This turned out to be a great addition to our camping gear that we also have gotten a lot of use out of at home as well. It is the largest model and retails for $599.00.

 

The Luci Light by MPowered is not only a great way to support under served nations struggling to find solutions to  dirty energy issues but it is a great little light! I wrote an article about it a few weeks ago and find that I am using this product at each camping trip. The light makes a great nightlight in a camper bathroom and you don’t need to turn on the light in the middle of the night. I love using them on the dinner table at night because they allow you to see your food without having to ruin the mood with bright lights. I so love the companies mission that I have taken to giving these at baby showers. I gave it to my nephew for his new baby and his wife loves having it on the changing table where she can turn it on low in the middle of the night for a diaper change. The lights are inflatable, have three light settings and an emergency flashing light as well. The are sold at most retail outlets and are also available at Amazon for the best price.

My new bed linens for the Max trailer were a home run. Beddy’s Beds make this great bed set that makes making the bed in a trailer a piece of cake. The bed set has a bottom sheet built in to the quilted side panels and a matching quilt top zips in place to give you an easy to make and neat and tidy bed. I chose the grey Chevron pattern that is a neutral and I added my own favorite accent pillows and throw blankets. The upper quilt is lined with a soft fabric that acts as the top sheet. The set came with two Queen size pillows shams and two regular pillowcases. I loved having the bed neatly made all the time without all the huffing and puffing and calorie burning !! The set retails for $399.00

My favorite piece of personal gear for the year were the Cabela’s hiking boots that I got before my Yellowstone trip. The Gore-Tex low rise boot dries quickly and has good support. I normally run into trouble with hiking boots over time but these are still comfortable and I didn’t need a big break them in period before hitting the trails. I paid $130 for them but they are on sale now for half price so I ordered another pair for next year. They also have been great running shoes for home.

 

01 Nov

Scout Inflatables: The Scout 365

The Girl Camper Podcast welcomes a new sponsor, Scout Inflatables, makers of the new Scout Inflatables pontoon boat. I had the pleasure of testing out this boat over the weekend and fell in love. I wasn’t really in the market for an inflatable boat but what I did have was an issue transporting my kayak that made me willing to give this a try. 

To be honest I think that row boats are a lot of work. When you think about the physics of row boats, it’s a hull that is partially submerged in water and you are the power source that moves it through the water. About every five years I succumb to the allure of renting a row boat and I am never more than 100 feet from the shore before I remember why I don’t like them!! They’re a lot of fun if you are the person in the bow that is lounging back with a shade umbrella and a festive summer drink while someone else rows you around the lake. That was what I was thinking when I heard “inflatable row boat” but I was heartened when I learned there was an option for a small outboard battery or gasoline powered motor and I decided to give it a try.

Last weekend Stephanie Puglusi, co host with her husband Jeremy of the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast and the producer of the Girl Camper Podcast,  and I,  did a little Girl Camping. We decided to test out the Scout. I was thinking that it would take us about an hour to an hour and a half to take it from box to on the water. It took less than 30 minutes, ten of which were devoted to figuring out the valves for inflating and deflating. Once that was figured out we had the boat in the water fifteen minutes later.

Stephanie inflates to floor mat on the Scout 365.

I inflated the pontoons with my Ryobi Air Compressor to the prescribed 70% and then inserted and inflated the floor piece of the boat. The floor piece gives the boat incredible rigidity. After that was inflated the pontoons get finished off. I finished the pontoons with the foot pump that came with it. It provided more pressure than the battery operated one and was so large that it only required five or six compressions to make the pontoons as hard as any wooden or metal boat.

We attached a set of oar extensions that came with it and then the oars themselves. The oars attach to posts which have a screw on top that prevents them from coming off easily. After the oars were in place we slid the aluminum bench seats in place and set off for the water. The boat has a nice pull handle at the bow and both of the rear pontoons have heavy duty easy grip rubber handles. It was easy to tug across the lawn to the launch site and the bottom of the boat is designed with heavy duty vinyl to allow it to be dragged across rocky beaches without being damaged.

The Scout 365 glides over the water when rowing but also can be paddled kayak style or used with a small battery or gas powered motor.

The flat bottom design makes the boat very stable when getting in and out of it but also, to my delight, makes it incredibly easy to row. Rather than pushing through water, the design allows it to glide over water. I took a turn around the 22 acre lake without breaking a sweat. I began to see a world of possibilities for RVers with this boat.

  • The first big advantage to me is the fact that it is inflatable and fits in a carrying bag that is stored in your RV, backseat or truck bed. That means no towing a trailer or hoisting a heavy kayak above your head onto a roof rack. It also means not having to purchase that additional equipment, maintain it or in NJ, register a trailer with the state and keep current motor vehicle tags on it!
  • I also thought that it gave me everything I love about my kayak but more. I love taking my kayak out in the afternoon to look for water fowl and to just troll the shoreline but that’s all I can really do in it. The Scout offers many more options for use.
  • I like the idea that the boat can hold two people so its a couple or friend activity if you want it to be.
  • It can also carry cargo much easier than the kayak can so if I want to pack a picnic lunch and stop at a shore or island on a lake I can do that.
  • I can also add a motor if I want to go further with it than I would be willing to paddle it.
  • I do like the option of being able to fish from it as well. It does have an optional guard that can be installed to allow standing and casting from the boat.
  • Another option is the duck blind that comes with it that lets you duck hunt, bird watch and use it as a tent for camping when you are done on the water for the day.
  • It is far more stable getting in and out of it than a kayak or canoe and once on the water does not rock like a canoe or kayak.
  • It can be paddled in the same manner as a kayak, rowed like a row boat (only much easier) or used with a motor.

I was so pleasantly surprised by the easy way the boat inflated and deflated that I am already rethinking my camp sites for the coming year. Last year I stayed at a lot of campgrounds with water access and did not take advantage of the opportunities available at them. I am already planning my adventures for next year to include using this boat. I think it will add so much enjoyment to my RV adventures! Stay tuned on this one. I’m going to get the motor!!