My RVing JOURNEY…By JEFF & TRISH CREED & dogs Cricket, Amber & Tucker
My RVing journey started before I could even walk…and that was well over half a century ago. My first trailer was made by my father who had to laminate sheets of plywood together to make a waterproof top. It was tiny by today’s standards, but it was a magical place in days gone by. We had an inside toilet that consisted of pulling out a cupboard and placing oneself over a hole cut into the plywood top. I don’t know what collected those deposits; I was in diapers and I couldn’t care less. I do though vividly remember how our Coleman lantern was mounted on a bracket that could be swung inside the trailer or it could be swung outside to light the entire campsite. At bed time the table folded down and myself and my two sisters slept beneath it, mom and dad slept on top. It was always amazing to watch dad transform our trailer from something that was only three feet high to a huge trailer that even the adults could stand up in. It even had hard shell sidewalls. I wonder what ever happen to that old trailer, and the 1956 Chevy that pulled it. How many other families experienced its magic transformation from camping mode to towing mode? How many cherished memories did it facilitate?
Our 1959 trailer that Dad built, pulled by our 1956s Chevy! It even had hardshell sidewalls!
Dad then upgraded to our new to us 16 foot Glendale trailer, it was a real head turner; it was so high tech that it even had a propane lantern mounted on the wall above the table.
Dad joined the Burnaby Trailer Club the first year it was formed. I still remember when he proudly came home one night and he proclaimed that we were now in a trailer club! Our first outing was in a field at Belcarra. In those days there were dozens of trailer clubs in the Greater Vancouver area. As a child it was a special time as twice a month we would have a trailer outing with 20 to 30 rigs. In those days there were Volkswagen vans, campers and trailers. We regularly had 50 or more other kids that we met twice a month to play with. Mom used to joke that she would feed us breakfast and then not see us again until dinner. The Pop Shop pop was a staple, we would go with mom and fill up a couple of cases with every flavor of pop that they had. In retrospect having raised my own children, I can see why we ran around so much…we were on a sugar high! We would camp at places like Birch Bay and we would all go roller skating in the big barn…it is no longer there. When we camped at Linden we would sneak over to a farmer’s field and steal some delicious carrots…at least they were healthier than all the junk food that we normally consumed. We always camped on the banks of the Chilliwack River when the corn was ripe. Everyone ate as much corn as they could during our corn feeds. Pancake breakfasts cooked in meeting halls was also a staple, as was Hobo stew; everyone would throw a can of whatever into a big pot to make dinner for the group. And of course we had potluck dinners; no restaurant can match an offering like those home cooked meals.
Once a year all the trailer clubs would camp together at the Aldergrove fairgrounds. Every trailer club proudly displayed their club banner and colored flags were strung everywhere. There was always a parade where every rally attendee would participate. Many clubs had their own colour coded jackets. Our club’s were bright yellow with a bee on them that my father had designed.
Us kids would always sneak under the stadium bleachers and look for any change that had fallen there. We also harvested all the discarded Popsicle sticks to make flying contraptions. This was before we knew anything about infectious diseases, we were just having fun. Sometimes we got to see and pet the horses and even see a horse race.
Games were always popular, especially rotation games where the winner would have to move onto the next trailer. We would also often bike ride or canoe together as a group and at one time square dancing was very popular. Lawn darts were very popular back then, and yes we had our share of close calls, no wonder they were finally banned. Horseshoes were popular if there was a pit nearby, if not we improvised games like tossing a raw egg back and forth. The toss involved everyone starting by standing across from their partner on one of two parallel lines. The rules were that after every successful toss you would take one step backward, whoever put the most distance between his or hers teammate without breaking the egg after it was tossed won.
There was never anyone that did not participate, everyone always had fun. Evenings most often involved a campfire with chairs circled about.
Whenever the club was camped at a location that had some form of power or water, the adapters and cords and hoses came out in abundance. There was quite a jokester in the club, In the later days, whenever the club dry camped he would pound into the ground a weathered post that had a water tap and an electrical box. It was very legitimate looking and inevitably a newbie or other camper would ask if he could also hook up to it. When the unsuspecting camper couldn’t figure out why he didn’t have power or electricity the answer was always the same “Mine is okay, you must have a problem with your rig.” This was usually good for a few hours of entertainment, usually by then it involved a group of men trouble shooting. The gig usually ended when another member would declare that he would like to hook up too but the power/water post was too far away. At that point the post would simply be picked up and moved. It is hard to believe but even this did not clue a few campers into the joke.
We graduated from our Glendale trailer to a brand new 20 1⁄2 foot Terry trailer. My dad pulled it with a 1969 Ford pickup truck with a canopy on the back. My dad made seats in the canopy that also folded down into a bed so that we kids could have sleepovers in the canopy. No seatbelts to worry about in those days, we would pile 6 kids into the back when we were heading out for outings. My dad did add a heater in the back which kept us all toasty warm. We used an intercom on the odd occasion that we had to converse from the cab to the canopy. A few years later there was a bad accident where people travelling much like what we did were thrown out of the back of a pickup truck. ICBC ruled that their insurance only covered three people because the truck was only manufactured with three seat belts. Soon after that my dad purchased a Chevy Suburban to carry all of us.
Checking our the sand dunes while using our brand new trailer
As a young adult I met one of my old neighbours that was four years my senior, which is an eternity to a boy. He stated that he so longed to go with us on one of our outings. He said he noticed that whenever we departed on a camping trip pulling our trailer everyone was always laughing and smiling and having a good time. He said that he was so envious and jealous of us that he could not go. I told him that if he had of asked, we would have been glad to take him camping. What an opportunity missed. As an adult I remembered this and always allowed my children to bring any friends along camping that they wanted too. Our funds were quite limited back then so often at side trips like bus touring of the Columbia Ice Fields, my wife and I would stay behind, but our children’s friends always had the adventure of their lifetime.
When my children were small I searched for a trailer club family just like I had growing up in my trailer club days…alas there are no more trailer clubs like in days gone past. Most of the camps that we stayed at in trailer club days have vanished or have been transformed into time shares or permanent camp sites. The few trailer clubs that survived did not have enough kids in them to make it worthwhile. Instead when we camped we would always let the kids just bring some friends along.
I have been fortunate enough to have camped in tents, a folding trailer, a tent trailer, hard side trailers, campers, a fifth wheel and now a motor home. Whenever someone asks me what is the best kind of RV to own I say there isn’t one, just pick the type that suits your needs the best. The trouble is needs change and then so does your choice of RV. A good example is our current motor home, it has lots of space but we sure can’t go places that we used to with our 4X4 truck and camper. If I could I would have two RV’s for different types of trips!