Nov 212010

Yesterday we packed up the Explorer with bundles of the Gypsy Journal and loaded our hard shell kayaks on top, loaded our bicycles onto a rack on the back of our Winnebago, and we’re ready to roll!

Several people wanted to know if, and how, we were going to be able to carry everything that we did in the van in the much smaller Explorer. We’re not. For the last couple of days, we have been ruthless about sorting and getting rid of things we don’t need or want to haul around any more.

The first order of business was to load the papers into the Explorer. We bought some rubber mat runner material at Lowes to lay down in the back, to protect the carpeting. Here is the SUV with the back seats laid down and loaded with papers. And yes, we are well within our carrying capacity, even though it doesn’t look like it.

Papers in back 2

My Sea Eagle PaddleSki 435 inflatable boat sits right behind the driver and passenger sears. I wish our hard shell kayaks took up so little space and were as light!

Papers and Sea Eagle

We had two Malone kayak rack sets mounted on a plywood shelf in the back of the van to carry the kayaks, and Terry mounted them to the roof rack of the Explorer. She was feeling under the weather yesterday, and I offered to do it, but Terry said the combination of me on a ladder, with a tool in my hand, wasn’t a comforting thought, and that she’d rather do the job herself than to have to haul me to the nearest Emergency Room, and then come back and do it anyway.

Terry mounting old kayak rack

Here are the racks on top of the Explorer.

Racks on roof 2

Our Native Watercraft Manta Ray kayaks weigh about 65 pounds each, and we knew that we were going to need help to get them up on the roof. At first, I thought if we used our Beanstalk ladder in its stepladder configuration, and put blankets on it and on the back of the Explorer, we might be able to slide them up. One attempt and we knew that this may have been a good idea in theory, but not upon execution.

Kayak on ground

Kayak on ladder

I called my friend Dave Damon, who is also here at the Orlando Thousand Trails, and he came over to lend a hand. Even with the three of us, it was still a chore. But here they are. all strapped down and ready to go. By the way, this picture shows the true color of the Explorer.

Kayaks on roof

We plan to get a set of Thule Hullavator racks, which will make loading the heavy kayaks a snap. Of course, if I could get Terry to order an inflatable kayak from Tim and Crystal Ryerson at Inflatable Boats 4 Less, life would be much easier. 🙂

The next job was to mount our Trek bicycles on the ladder rack on the back of our motorhome. Terry and I are basically munchkin sized, but can do the job with the Beanstalk ladder. However, since Dave Damon was there, he helped, and made the task much easier. Why have a Hulk sized person around if you can’t exploit him, right?

Bikes on rack 2

We’ve enjoyed our two weeks here at the Thousand Trails, and we will definitely be back again. But today it’s time to go. It will be a short trip of about 40 miles, to the Escapees Sumpter Oaks campground near Bushnell, Florida. Since we don’t have the base plate on the Explorer yet, we can’t tow it, so Terry will drive it while I drive the motorhome. It will be nice to see some of our Escapee friends again.

Check Out Our Holiday Subscription Special Offer!

Bad Nick avoids hard work at every opportunity, so while we were busy packing, he was busy posting a new Bad Nick Blog titled There Is No Fountain Of Youth. Check it out and leave a comment.

Thought For The Day –It’s liberating to let people think whatever they want about you. They’re going to do it anyway.

Register Now For Our Arizona Gypsy Gathering Rally

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  14 Responses to “Packed Up And Ready To Roll”

  1. Nick,

    Make sure ya’ll try The Speckled Butter Bean Buffet over in Webster at the Fairgrounds.

    It’s well worth the short drive over there.

  2. hmmm…. Nick + ladder + tools = *@#$!!. Nick, you are married to a very smart woman (but then you know that).

    An observation about your bike mounting that I hope you check out before hitting the road: From your photo it looks like the bike tires are extending beyond the motorhome sidewall. We used a similar rack for a while and hung the bikes vertically from the ladder rungs. Unfortunately, one mounting we were one rung lower than normal and the handlebar break levers drug across the hood of of CR-V on a tight turn, leaving noticable scratches. We eventually switched to a tire-mounted bike rack on the Honda. Unlike your Explorer, our 2006 Honda CR-V has the spare tire mounted on the rear swing-out door which allows access to the rear compartment even when the bikes are on the rack. Another advantage to having the bikes on the car is that if you are out and about, your bikes (and helmets, gloves, and backpacks) are with you if you decide to take a ride. If you sell the roof-mounted kyacks, maybe your bikes can go atop the Explorer.

  3. Nick –

    I have been following your blog for quite some time – at least a year. I have been debating about subscribing to your journal because I’m very curious and you have a lot to share. However, I would like to see an actual paper before subscribing (make sure I like it kind of thing). Is it possible to order just one paper and then decide to pay for a year? If you can’t do that, can you send me an old one? I have looked at campgrounds and nearby RV shows for a loose paper of yours and yet to find one. I’m in the Western NY area so I assume it take a while for a loose paper to end up in these parts. We were planning to come to the recent Escapees but we just couldn’t swing that trip.

    Let me know – thanks!


  4. Looks good, Nick! I envisioned stuff piled on like an old Okie wagon….ha ha!

    Have a safe trip!

  5. Have you checked your motorhome’s ladder to see if it is securely mounted? Some people have damaged their bikes when their ladder let go. RV ladders are built for occasional forays onto the roof; they are not designed to be luggage racks in spite of all the things we see hanging from them. You don’t need that problem!

  6. Nick, I have to go along with a few on your readers and advise against the “bikes on the ladder”. Talk Miss Terry into getting an inflatable (or both of you in the same inflatable since it is designed to carry two persons) and put those bikes in a proper mount on top of your new Explorer.

  7. We used to have our bikes on the ladder rack, but found that unless they were covered, they weathered quickly and took a beating. Now we got the folding bikes from camping world. They work great and fold up really small. They easily fit into a storage bin or back of the car out of the elements. Camping World also let us try them out in their parking lot before we purchased them. We are happy with the folding bikes.

  8. We hope that Terry is feeling better. She is a smart lady not to trust you with tools, we have heard the stories. Thanks for the pictures, now we know that you will be fine as far as cargo space goes. We have stayed at Bushnell and the Escapee’s park, our only complaint was the abundance of fire ants they are nasty critters. have a safe trip over to the park. Now just sit back and relax.

  9. In my “Before Fulltimer” days I had a kayak and a Thule Hullavator. I liked it a lot, but at times it would get just a little bit turned sideways, and then wouldn’t work at all. If it gets really hard to move, check that it is straight. Also they won’t work well on vehicles with a lower height — the kayak rack can actually hit the ground on the side. All told, it is a great invention — makes kayak hauling essentially a one-person thing.

  10. Hi Nick,

    I too am concerned about the bikes taking a beating over time if left exposed to the elements. Have you ever seen anyone with a cover on their bikes? I carry mine on top of the car and am thinking of something along the lines of a barb-q grill cover, but one that is tighter fitting so it doesn’t flop around and get torn to shreds. Any insight from your travels is greatly appreciated.


  11. Nick, I know I’ve read a good review of yours about how to buy a Thousand Trails/NACO membership and where, and what features to look for. Could you point me to the right entry, or repeat it in the near future? I want to show my husband, so we can consider a purchase of a membership. I read you everyday, and tell him everything you talk about. We enjoy your blog tremendously! Thanks for being so consistent, it is a joy!

  12. We’ve been thinking of trading our 70 lb kayaks in for two Inflatables. We’ve been hesitant thinking they wouldn’t paddle and track as well. Can you tell me why Miss Terry hasn’t decided to get one? They have some real advantages as far as carrying.

  13. Karen,
    To me, the inflatable has it all over the hard shell kayaks. But Terry is very much a traditionalist. She likes her kayak and doesn’t like change. I’m hoping that once she paddles a couple of the inflatable models from Sea Eagle she’ll come around. It would sure make our lives easier.

  14. Mary, we always would check the bulletin boards in the Escapee park we were in and we finally found a Thousand Trails membership for $500. Good luck.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.