We've been busy making some minor final tweaks to our trailer. Most of them are things we originally planned for, but had to just tie up some loose ends. A keen eye in previous posts might have noticed some of the updates. We felt like we should give some attention to those updates for those who might want to know. We've included it with a trip report, in case the trailer updates aren't interesting.
We spent a while discussing what to do with the exterior of the trailer. There were so many options to consider. We could leave it as-is, since we'd used marine grade plywood commonly used in boat building. We were not worried about the plywood delaminating or getting wet. But we'd noticed that it had a tendency to really attract dirt, and it was difficult to clean. We really liked the look of the wood; it's a really pretty grain. We considered using various clear wood finishes to help keep it clean while also adding another layer of protection. We considered various paints. We circled back round to leaving it alone. Eventually, we reached a decision.
We set to work removing everything loose from the exterior the trailer. What wasn't easily removed was masked off. Then, we sanded the entire exterior. Then we applied 2 coats of polyurethane to the wood faces. Then, we sanded the polyurethane. Then we applied 3 coats of Monstaliner, a truck bedliner coating, in a color called Desert Sand. Finally, we reassembled all of it.
During the disassembly/reassembly process, we opted to entirely remake the taillight panel from scratch. We weren't in love with the original one, and it was rather flimsy due to the nature of its design. It worked, just not very well. We made a replacement out of steel that incorporates a gasket to help seal against water intrusion. We also added a license plate light, which should have been included initially.
We noted during a previous outing that the interior lighting situation was desperately lacking. During the assembly process, we had run wires for interior lights on both sides of the ceiling. We just hadn't got around to actually installing them because they weren't an immediate need. We could get by without them. Well, this became a priority, so we finally took care of that. It was pretty simple. One of those things that should have been done much earlier, but wasn't for no good reason. The improvement well worth the minimum of effort.
While we're talking about lighting, let's go back outside. We have been hoping the completion of the trailer would allow us to do more shoulder season camping, and perhaps even winter camping someday. As you know, late fall, winter, and early spring all mean it's dark around dinnertime. Rather than fumbling with a lantern or headlamp, we addressed the lack of kitchen lighting with something more user-friendly. This was another thing we'd considered in the initial assembly, and run wires for. Installing the light was just a simple matter of making a couple holes to secure it in place and pass the wires through the exterior wall, then make the electrical connections just inside the wall.
At the same time, we installed a 12VDC outlet next to the light. This can be used for anything, but the plan is to use it for an LED rope light. Someday. When we get one. Some friends use them and it's a really nice ambient light for around camp, without being too harsh on the eyes after dark.
The last minor upgrade was the incorporation of an entry step. The difference is night and day. It makes getting in and out of the trailer so much easier. We should have installed this on day one.
Friday after work, we scrambled to pack the last few items before hitting the road. We dropped Loki off at his friends' house, and set sail in the dark. We made it to Hooksett, NH, where we fueled up, got some snacks, and waited for our friends Brendan and Hannah to meet us. They arrived not long after, and we continued on our way. The roads were wet and the temperature was low, so we took our time and exercised caution where there may be ice. Eventually, and not a moment too early, we turned onto Forest Service Road 30 in Pittsfield, VT. If you've been paying attention, this might sound familiar. One of our first trips away from home with our trailer was to this same area. The decision to return was manifold, but familiarity knowing we'd arrive in the dark and snow was a strong factor. The town had just received about 10 inches of fresh snow, and more was forecast to fall. It didn't seem wise to try to explore uncharted territory in these conditions, hauling trailers, in the snow.
It was no surprise to find that the road was not plowed, although at least one vehicle had ventured ahead of us. We were also not shocked when all of the campsites were vacant. We chose one that allowed easy entry. Or so we thought. It wasn't long before we got stuck and had to have Brendan give us a little tug to unstick ourselves. I borrowed his shovel to give myself a better shot at getting up a very small hill (about 2 feet tall, max) that was fighting and winning. Eventually, we got the trailer into a spot we liked, shut down the truck, and cracked open a celebratory dinner beer. It was late, we were tired, and far too lazy to cook. We laughed as Brendan's dog, Jackson, ran around absolutely LOVING the snow. Shortly thereafter, we went to bed.
When we woke up, it was really hard to pull back the covers and get out of bed. We were so toasty. Eventually, we had to get up. I set to work heating up some cold-brewed coffee for Mandy. I passed it through the window to her while she was still working on getting up. Then I set to making a breakfast scramble with pepper, onion, eggs, and sausage. And cheese! I forgot it until the last minute. Doesn't matter, it was warm, and it was so tasty. And warm! We wiped the dishes clean enough and put everything away.
We talked with Brendan and Hannah about the plan for the day. What would we do? Ultimately the four of us came up with a plan we all liked. First, we detached the trailers and piled into our respective vehicles. We continued further up the road we were on, because we were curious where it'd go. Some maps show it end at various places, and a trail map at the beginning shows it connect to a whole network of trails. We cruised along slowly, carefully, in the snow. The road continues ever upward, though it is not particularly steep. Eventually, about 4 miles past the camp site, the road terminates with a locked gate. Beyond that point, only hiking and snowmobiling is allowed. Satisfied, we returned to our campsite.
Here, we hitched up the trailers again, and towed them back in the direction of the main road. We had seen a different campsite that we wanted to try to get into now that there was daylight. The new campsite was much further from the road with a long "driveway". It was also right on the river. And, bonus! we found the fire ring! We flattened down the snow by driving back and forth in a couple clearings, making easier access for the trailers. We dropped the trailers on the flattened spots and got them reasonably leveled, then we made our way back down to the Pittsfield General Store.
We utilized the restrooms in the general store, then we noticed the fresh homemade banana bread, and had to get a few slices. It was amazing! We also got hot coffees and looked at some maps of the area for a while to sort out the rest of our plan for the day. Once we were warmed up, we went back out and hopped in our vehicles.
We made our way southeast towards Woodstock. We'd heard good things about Worthy Kitchen, and we wanted to find out for ourselves. The ride was only about a half hour through lovely, snow-capped, tiny towns. The day was clearing up and the sun was peeking out here and there, and the temperature was fairly mild as compared to the previous night.
We got seated in Worthy Kitchen and hopped in line to order food and drinks. I ordered a sausage sandwich and Mandy got a fried chicken sandwich. We ordered a round of drinks, too. We returned to our table with our drinks and waited for our food to be ready. The beers were tasty but I forget what we had. Me too! The sausage sandwich was okay. The flavor was great, it was just really messy and difficult to eat. The chixwich sandwich was delicious! I highly recommend it.
After we were finishing up at Worthy Kitchen, we realized we were not too far from Singleton's. We'd found one of the best sandwiches ever at a Singleton's the last time we were in Vermont. It wasn't the same location, but we figured they'd be able to make the same sandwich. So we went. Unfortunately, they didn't have the same menu at the deli. I told them what I was looking for, from memory. The guy working at the deli boasted that their bacon was even better than the other location's. Toot toot. I was skeptical, but okay. I got the sandwich and opened it up as soon as we got outside. I could maybe agree that their bacon was better, though it's hard to be sure. But the sandwich was a disappointment. There was very little bacon, where it's suppose to be the primary ingredient. There was also caramelized onions which weren't supposed to be there. It wasn't a bad sandwich, but it couldn't hold a candle to #14 at original Singleton's in Proctorsville. Oh well, now I know. We headed back towards camp.
We arrived back at camp and none of us were hungry. We got a small fire going in the fire pit, and setup our chairs around it. It helped to take the edge off the cold. We realized the snow was fantastic for making snowballs, so we built a snowman. (Rob did all the work.) He came out great, the best snowman any of us had made in years! We also tested a theory that building a wall around the back side of the fire pit would help to reflect heat back towards us. We built a 2 foot tall wall halfway around the fire pit. It definitely helped! As we worked our way through the firewood that we had, the hunger came back. It was not enough to overcome the cold, though. So, when the fire burnt down to coals and went out, we all went to bed.
When we woke up Sunday morning, I set to work making another breakfast scramble. This time we had pre-cooked potato from last night's fire to add! The cold weather definitely warrants eating more hot food, so the potato was a welcome addition. We ate quickly, and put the dirty dishes in the sink to be taken care of at home. After we cleaned up, we got in the truck and turned the heat on to stay warm while we waited for Brendan and Hannah to wake up and for the day to get warmer. We found a copy of S.W.A.T. on DVD, and put that in the in-dash stereo and watched it on an admittedly tiny screen. It was entertaining regardless. And it wasn't long before our friends were up and moving about. They opted not to cook breakfast on account of the cold. Everyone was in agreement to just hit the road, so we hitched up the trailers and set out.
As we got back to the main road by the general store, we parted ways. Brendan and Hannah were headed to the original Singleton's, which would have added about an hour to our long ride home. I struggled to decide, but ultimately opted to get home earlier. We should have gone with them. Oh well. It was nice to be home early afternoon and spend some time with Loki after we picked him up from his friends' house.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.