The shakedown trip of our new-but-previously-loved trailer was in mid-September. For the inexperienced of you out there, let me explain the difference between a shakedown trip and a trial run.
A trial run is what you do when you think you might want to “try” something. Our trial run was a complete disaster, and there was no way I was going to do that again. So I did what any responsible mom with a dream does. I decided that trial runs were for sissies, and that if-we-were-ever-going-go-on-a-six-week-family-road-trip it was time to get the show on the road. I went out (with my husband, of course) and bought my very own travel trailer.
A shakedown trip is when you have a new RV or are taking it out for the first time of the season. The idea is you stay somewhere fairly well appointed so that if you did forget something, or have a problem, help is not far away.
So this was our shakedown trip!
The trailer with a revolving door
Since we bought the trailer several months before we’d intended to, we were fully in the midst of middle-school football season when we brought it home. Luckily, Minnesota is made for camping and we have a beautiful campground not far from home, which allowed us to set up on Friday night, attend the football game on Saturday, and return to our campsite after the game.
The weekend was beautiful. Better than we could have ever planned. Leaves were starting to change, temperatures were 70-80 during the day and in the forties at night. We got a chance to use our heater and learned that fans set up in the expandables really helped to keep the temperature even. One sleeping bag and the heater were enough to keep us snug in the trailer.
When we bought the trailer, we knew we’d need to rely on a tent for the kids to give them their own space. While I never intended to force them to sleep in there while the trailer was new (figuring it was as much a novelty for them as it was for me) my husband had different ideas.
As it turned out, the kids really enjoyed having their own space. They set it up as their own little home and loved the autonomy it gave them. We heard giggling late into the night. I, however, in a very rare display of mom guilt, found myself constantly waking up during the night worrying if the kids were warm enough. Sure, they had two dogs snuggled in their sleeping bags; yes, they had extra blankets; and I realized that those five bodies, especially that of the standard poodle, were likely keeping the tent toasty and warm, but for some reason I just couldn’t sleep.
At 2am, with both the heater and fans running right next to my head, I managed to hear a zipper unzipping outside. I bounded out of bed to see which kid had abandoned the tent and wanted mom. I couldn’t see anything. No one knocked at my door. Now certain that someone was messing with my kids, I flicked on the outside lights.
“Hey! Can’t a guy get some privacy?” squeaked my son.
“Whoops, sorry! I thought you were cold and wanted to come in.” I then noticed Domo with his back to me. He was barefoot in the cold grass and wearing short sleeves. I, in the trailer, was wearing fuzzy socks, warm pajamas, and a robe in bed. Apparently the temperature in the tent was not an issue.
“Cold? We’re toasty warm!”
“Okay, but if you’re cold, you can always come in!”
Ten minutes later, McGyver wanted in. “I can’t sleep.”
My mommy guilt was gone. “Get back out there, your brother and sister are fine!’
“But you said….”
“I know what I said, but you’re a boy scout that sleeps in igloos for crying out loud, I didn’t mean YOU!”
An hour later, another knock on the door.
“Mom, we’re cold.” Both boys were at the door.
“Where’s your sister?”
“She wants to stay out there.”
“Seriously? You two tough boys want to come in and she’s going to stay out there by herself?” Desperate for some type of sleep, I gave in.
In they came, leaving the dogs outside to protect their sister.
Finally, sleep came.
Two hours later, with the sun just coming up, the door of the trailer opened again. In trouped our daughter with both dogs. She used the bathroom and trouped back outside, leaving one dog with us. The dog, of course, was not happy to be left behind and ran from window to window whining that his buddy got to go back outside.
We slept in that morning – until 9:30. I haven’t slept that late since I was pregnant with kid #1. When I woke up, all three kids and both dogs were sleeping in the trailer. The dogs – never allowed on furniture at home, were settled comfortably on top of Natasha.
The first experiment with the tent was over. We were tired, but all was well. The second night of the tent experiment started differently.
“Sleep where you want. But choose carefully young children, because once you’re there, there you will stay!” And they did.