As we left on our first journey with our camping trailer, we were a bit nervous. There were so many things to worry about, including the height of our trailer, which was a bit above the norm, topping 11 feet 2 inches with the air conditioner on top. Rob is six foot three inches tall, so the height of this trailer was a selling point for us. It felt spacious and airy inside, although it was small as trailers go.
When you travel, notice that certain overpasses have the height printed on them, and the height can vary from left, to middle, to right of the arch. We now watched out for these with rabid attention, our hearts in our throats, that a bridge might rip off the air conditioner or worse yet, the whole top of our travel home. We had once seen a Ryder rental box truck which had unsuccessfully tried to navigate under a train bridge not far from our home – the top peeled off that truck like a sardine can lid. That would not happen to us! Of course we had done our research on our route, but it is still unnerving to contemplate what could happen if we were not vigilant or strayed onto a side road.
We began to drive towards the Garden State Parkway, our conduit to get just about anywhere. As we drove, we realized that the “tow/haul” function on our Jeep was not engaged. The darn thing would not turn on! Thinking it might be as simple as a fuse, we stopped at an auto parts store and Rob changed the fuse to a new one. Still no go. We decided to drive on anyway, but as we navigated some big hills we had misgivings while we listened to what we imagined was our SUV struggling to pull the trailer.
We called our Jeep dealership. They recommended we bring the car in but at this point we were about 45 minutes into our journey. They suggested another dealership in Paramus, NJ. We stopped by and the parking lot was so tiny that it actually had valet parking. Rob struggled to find a spot to park the Jeep and trailer, while the valet parking guy waved him this way and that. Rob ran inside to ask for assistance, but no one could look at the car without an appointment. The general consensus was that the jeep would be fine without the tow function considering the weight we were hauling. Rob navigated out of the parking lot like a pro, backing up the car and trailer around a tight corner to exit onto the busy route in Paramus where this dealership was located.
We were at last on our way, two hours behind schedule, but feeling more comfortable about our transportation. The pack was well behaved. They are great travelers. Secret was a bit hyped up to start with but she is that way even on a short drive. She settled down after the first hour….
We arrived in New Hampshire around 6:30 PM, well after the pack’s usual dinner time. They were remarkably patient. We even took a wrong turn and navigated down a dirt, dead end road before we arrived at our campground. It’s not easy to make a wrong turn, with a travel trailer in tow, and turn around on a dirt road! Luckily our doggy daddy Rob is a great driver. Once we arrived at the Meredith Woods Campground and parked and set up the trailer, the three dogs and I trooped inside around 7:30. I placed their food in the new bento bowls and they chowed down happily. It was a chilly evening in the forties, and I turned on the heat to warm the place up.
We’d passed a diner on the road to the campground and thought we’d try it out. It was too late to find a supermarket and cook in my little kitchen. We packed the pups back into the car and drove down the road to the diner. With my gluten allergy I am used to very limited options. When I walked in and asked if they had gluten free meals, I was shocked that they had an actual gluten free menu! I ordered a hamburger with bacon on a gluten free bun, with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. I was in heaven!! This town of Meredith is awesome! They also had great soda choices, with real sugar.
After a trying and longer than expected journey on the road, we ate our delicious dinner (I know it doesn’t sound like much – but to be able to order a good hamburger on a gluten free bun is actually a rare treat; restaurants in general have a lot to learn. It would be so simple to keep some gluten free buns in the freezer. Charge extra – I don’t care! I just want to eat with everybody else). We watched a little tv, walked the pups around the campground, and settled down for a much-needed sleep.
The next morning on Saturday we headed out early to the Highland Mountain Bike Park. We passed much beautiful, forested countryside and “moose crossing” signs along the way, but no moose sightings yet. If Fiona goes crazy for donkeys, I can’t imagine her reaction to a moose! It was a brisk sunny day, perfect for opening day of the park. We found a nice spot on the porch of the shop to set up camp for a while. The pack and I relaxed while Rob rode his mountain bike. The pups made lots of new friends and I got in some much welcome reading time.
We arrived back at the camper around dinner time and it had started to rain. No cooking outside for me. So I decided to cook up some hamburgers on the tiny stove in the trailer. This was great in theory, but I soon filled up the place with smoke and set off the smoke alarm! I was trying out a new cast iron grill pan and it was not yet seasoned. The dogs weren’t that phased by the smoke and alarm, and we pulled out the battery to stop the alarm and opened a few windows. We ate undercooked burgers with a chill breeze blowing through our little travel home. All five of us collapsed onto the small bed and slept deeply.
The next morning held more rain. It looked like our hiking plans would have to wait until the next trip to New Hampshire. Unless we wanted to stay in the trailer all day or get completely soaked, we needed an alternative plan. We found an indoor bike and skate park in Rye near the shore and decided to head that way. I’d never been to Rye so why not? Luckily the park allowed the dogs inside so we took our place in the balcony and watched the action down below. It is a beautiful place to ride, with many interesting features to navigate.
After riding we found a wonderful local Mexican restaurant called Tacqueria. Very gluten-free friendly and amazing food. We drove happily back to our camp site, the K9 Camper awaiting us with a warm welcome on this rainy, chilly day. We weren’t surprised at the weather. This is New England, after all. We had been here tent camping last year in August, traditionally a very warm month at home in New Jersey. It dropped to the forties at night and we were shivering in our tent, huddled up with the dogs!! We would have fun no matter the weather.
Our first trip posed its challenges, both mechanical and meteorological. We also discovered that New Hampshire is top in the nation for cases of Lymes disease and deer ticks. We found at least a dozen ticks on each dog, luckily none embedded. Next trip we’ll try a natural tick repellent spray in addition to the traditional topical vet-prescribed tick preventatives. Despite the challenges, we learned that this pack loves to travel together and that our new travel camper was a great success for the family.