Friday, June 17, 2016


All though I was born in raised in Oklahoma, camping with first my parents and then of course my family, I have  personally never stayed at Ft. Gibson Lake.  My parents, and now us, owned property on Grand Lake, so that was where we threw our blankets on the ground to sleep.  Later after Keystone Lake was built we went there.  So this campground was a new experience for me.

Gary on the other hand spent a lot of time camping on Ft. Gibson, Grand Lake and Tenkiller. Mainly Ft. Gibson, so he was familiar with the area.  Neither of us had been here in our 43 years of marriage, so needless to say it had changed some since Gary was last there.

Despite rain and a really rough section of highway 69 in Oklahoma we arrived well before dark to set up camp, boy am I glad we did. 

When Gary had reserved this site, #75, he had looked at the photos of it and knew it was slightly sloped. He also knew it was long enough to accommodate our set-up. However, we had gotten so use to the big upgraded campsites in Arkansas and Missouri he forgot to check the width.  Let’s just say I am very proud of how well he parked it. 

Yep, that clearance on the driver’s side slide is barely and inch, and that was with him sitting so far back on the ancient asphalt pad putting the rear stablizers down would be a tricky proposition. 

Some of you may ask why we didn’t pull further forward and park the truck at an angle, or on the grass as many of our fellow campers did.  Two words “picnic table”.
The concrete table and benches sit so close to the pad our kitchen slide would not have cleared it. 

Why not further back then?  Because then we wouldn’t have been able to get out the camper door.  The final set-up had us stepping off the camper steps onto the table pad, then down to the pad.  Actually this was pretty handy because otherwise that final step would have been a bit of a stretch for my short legs.

Once we were certain that we would clear on all slides, using the knotted rope system of measurement we rolled the slides out.

For some of you newer folks I guess I should explain the knotted rope system.  When you get a camper with a slide(s) clearance on obstacles around your trailer/motor home/pop-up can become a concern anytime you set-up.  That’s where a piece of rope, or clothesline in our case, comes in.  It’s a handy “yard stick” that is easy to store and easy to use.

To make one you set-up in an area that you are certain your slides will clear then tie a knot in one end of the rope.  This is your start point.  We leave a tail end on each end of the rope to hold on to when measuring for a more accurate measurement, because you never know…an example was this set-up where an inch could have made a major difference.

Hold the starting point knot touching the trailer/motor home/pop-up.  Then stretch the rope out as level as possible to just past the edge of the slide when it is fully extended.  Knot that end, leave a piece to hold on to and then cut it off. 

This next part is VERY important.  LABEL it.  All knotted ropes look the same.  You are going to make one of these for each slide on your unit and you don’t want to mix those ropes up.  Ours has a tag on it made with white duct tape (a very valuable asset when you have a white camper—don’t ask how I know) and a permanent marker. 

Store all the ropes together in a place on the camper that has very easy access for all future set-ups.  This little measuring tool can help you prevent some unhappy situations.  Just be certain you look all the way up that the tree doesn’t curve toward your camper especially if you are in a situation like we were.

Then when you go to set-up measure from the side of the camper to the obstacle with the proper knotted rope for any slide you are concerned about.  This saves both time and money (you don’t want to have to repair a slide you know).

Back to our set-up.  Even though we had measured with the rope we take precautions when it is as close as we knew it was going to be that day.  So Gary stood outside watching the living room slide go out and signaling me through the window when I needed to start or stop the extension.

That’s when it happened there was a LOUD clattering and a SPROING! Startling both of us tremendously.  Our first thought was the slide had hit the tree.  Only Gary was standing right there and could see we were still in the good clearance zone when the noise happened. I stopped moving the slides immediately and rushed out to see what had happened.

It took us a little bit to figure out that one of the less than a year old slide toppers had broken.  The sproing sound was the tension releasing as the awning came disconnected from the trailer, putting a small hole in the awning.  We both stood and stared in disbelief.  Now what?

After a bit, when we had gotten over being startled, we tried running the slide back in, thinking maybe Gary could re-attach it.  Nope, not with the tension being released and a couple of parts missing. 

This created another problem.  Sooner or later we would need to break camp, and that topper was laying on the slide.

Insert photo of topper on slide.
Luckily we were less than two hours from our dealership and the topper was still under warranty.  The dealership was, of course, closed for the day by that time.  I called them the first thing the next morning before leaving for the first of the various appointments we had gone back to Oklahoma for. Because it was so late in the week they couldn’t look at it until the following week.  That’s good because we had already paid for nine nights and didn’t really want to break camp to take the unit in after we had worked so hard the night before setting up.

Instead, Gary checked youtube and found out how to take the topper off, turned out it was just two screws because it had already released on the outside edge.  The tricky part was the very sloped uneven ground and using a tall ladder on that ground.

Before climbing up on the ladder Gary used our selfie stick duct taped (there is that ever needed duct tape again) it to a broom handle then put our camera on the selfie stick to look at the topper and roof to see what type of screw driver he would need. 
While he held the camera high I used his phone as a remote to snap the photos.

Insert another topper photo here
Normally we would have used the quadcopter to do this job, but this particular park would not give us permission to fly the quad and even if they had the tree branches over the tree would have been a problem for the photos we needed.

Once the topper was down we took it to Tulsa to the dealership on one of our appointment days and dropped it off so they could get started on the repair while we finished up our nine nights at the campground. 

We spent the majority of our time at the camper writing, listening to audiobooks and walking around snapping photos with Gary’s new camera. 

especially birds are abundant here.

 Of course the camera has a video feature.  Gary missed a great take off and flight of the geese, so we settled for a trial video of them swimming off when a fisherman disturbed them.

On one such walk we walked down and around campsite #94.  It and several others in that area looked recently refurbished, longer and wider concrete pads, table area further from the camper and the water up near the electrical box instead of down the hill and 100 ft or so away as ours was.

Between our various appointments and visiting with our son we didn’t get to see any of the local sites, but decided while we waited on our camper repairs to be done we would try to visit some of them in the days that followed as we moved back into the farm house.

Jan who is back in OK for longer than she planned to stay.

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