My first experience camping was with our family when I was around 15 years old. We camped at a U.S. Forest Service campground named ‘Potato Patch’. I can’t remember how my parents learned about it, but it is located on Deer Creek where it flows along California State Highway 32, between Chico and Chester.
I think we camped there a few years until I graduated from high school in 1967. The campground was right on the creek, which provided us with hours of recreation fishing, hiking, etc.
I did some ‘camping’ while I was in the Army, but I don’t think that qualified as being recreational.
In 1976, my first wife, Carol, and I bought a new Chevrolet pick up truck and a used cab over camper. We bought the camper from a person that was storing it at the Richard Nixon birthplace in Yorba Linda, California. The owners had friends that were caretakers. At the time, I remember his birthplace being just a house and either a barn or garage. Now, it is the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
The camper was 9 feet long, so it hung out past the end of the truck bed. The main bed extended out over the truck cab. It had a Porta-Potty and an ice box. We traveled all over the western United States and to Minnesota, Carol’s birthplace. We used it until around 1989, when we decided to buy a 22 1/2 foot 5th wheel trailer.
We used the 5th wheel until we purchased a 1967 MCI Model 5A bus conversion in 2004. It was formerly a Greyhound bus and was already converted when we bought it. It was 35 feet long, had a Detroit 6V92 two-stroke engine with an Allison 4 speed automatic transmission. We traveled into Canada twice and made a 6 week trip all the way to Quebec, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. We made a number of improvements to the interior and house electrical system. We made our final trip in in in December 2021, after moving to Arizona.
We traveled back to Orange County, California to visit family, then on to the Atascadero area, Sacramento, and then on to Florence, OR to visit my brother and his wife. As the trip progressed, we noticed more and more blue smoke in the exhaust. Next, oil began leaking on the engine. We made numerous attempts to locate a mechanic to look at it, but had little success. We took it easy driving home, but still ended up adding a number of gallons of oil and oil additive. We made it to Kingman, AZ and finally called it quits. We are very happy we had purchased RV towing insurance, so for the final leg of our trip, the bus was on a low boy semi trailer.
We purchased a used 2016 Winnebago Vista 35 foot gas powered motorhome in Prescott Valley. We are looking forward to getting out in it soon after we make a number of improvements to the braking and electrical systems.
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