Trip to Wonderful

Monday, February 14, 2005

Discovering the perfect pair....

No, I'm not talking about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model competition.

We currently are the proud owners of a 2003 Odyssey. An earlier flirtation with the Pop-Up (from here on known a PUP) lifestyle left us secretly coveting a Coleman camper. Well, since that time, a spat developed between Coleman and their not-so-quality- oriented parent, Fleetwood. Coleman won the battle (kept their name) but lost the war (Fleetwood kept the camper designs.) Furthermore, Coleman can't give/sell their name to anyone else, at least for the time being. But since the closest thing to an old-time Coleman is a new Fleetwood, we've tranferred our infatuation from one to the other. What can I say, I'm fickle.

Problem is, Coleman/Fleetwoods are a tad on the heavy side, mostly due to their sturdy construction. The Odyssey has a towing capacity of 3500lbs. Most of the PUP we're looking at (12' box, 2 king-sized beds) have a "dry weight" of around 2000lbs. No problemo, right?

Well, enter Pop-up Explorer, a website for those who exist in that ephemeral world between crunchy tent campers and the RV elite. Post a question to their well travelled bulletin board, and a whole raft of PUPers emerge from the woodwork (er, canvas?) ready to offer advice on everything from the perfect campground to the right WDH (weight distributed hitch - don't ask, I'm still not clear on the concept.)

So I posed my specific question on finding that perfect pair of towing vehicle (TV) and camper (PUP) a few days back, and 119 answers later (some, of course, were mine own clarifications... well, more than some,) we've come to some sort of consensus. "Dry weight" means nada in the PUP world: Everything is dependent on GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). The PUPs I covet have GVWRs at my Odyssey's towing weight limit. I can probably tow any one of them, through Kansas.

So I've made the executive decision that if we want to tow anything larger than a pup-tent on wheels, we need a more powerful TV; otherwise, we risk leaving our transmission somewhere over the Rockies.

Thus, after we close on the house, the beloved Ody gets traded up for a suitable TV, most likely an SUV, unless some automaker suddenly puts out a minivan with a 5000lb towing capacity. Three months plodding up mountain highways and byways with Grace and Sam's knees up around their collarbones is not the best recipe for a happy vacation. Power and space beat out the soccer mom set.

Not that tough of a choice after all.


  • We used to have a coleman pop-up tent trailer, the exact model that you want. It was nice. The king beds are very spacious. Room enough for 2 adults and 2 small children in each bed. The bed in the dinette was too short for me. I'm 5' 7". But it worked fine for Isabel when we took my sister and her grandson camping with us. We towed it with a Ford Explorer, then with a Ford 150 - the one with 4 doors. For a truck, the 4 door Ford 150 was a great vehicle. It felt like a car on the inside. There was enough room in back for 2 carseats and one adult to fit comfortably. And the Ford 150 was not particularly larger than the Windstar.

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