Dollar Lake: Test of our Choice of Truck Camper
When Linda and I first became interested in recreational vehicles [RVs] while living in the Musquodoboit Valley, we wanted the flexibility to go off road without too much planning. As a result, we purchased our first truck camper in 2002; a light weight pop-up that fit into a short bed half ton pickup. We had many adventures including a trip to Red Bay Labrador where the Basques whalers made their presence well before Cabot; they were smart to not tell anyone where they were going!
After selling our camper and moving to the City in 2005, we often got away on vacations to national parks where we would enjoy the ease of a rented cabin; Fundy Highlands Chalets in Fundy National Park being one of our favorite places to visit to replenish our souls. We enjoyed this for some time but decided it was time to get back to the mobility and enjoyment of an RV. At this stage our family was growing with both of our boys married and the potential for grandchildren which meant a search for an RV that would fit us all. We bought a 29 foot Cougar Lite fifth wheel trailer in 2014 that could be towed by a half ton pickup truck with no problem. Although we had many enjoyable trips with the fifth wheel including a family outing in the summer of 2016 [a trip to Fundy National Park] where we were joined by our boys and their spouses [Shane and Enrique, Matthew and Sarah, and our grandchild Ellie], there were limitations. A fifth wheel adventure requires a flight plan [your brain should always be fifteen minutes ahead of your destination] and getting off the beaten path was not easy. The only practical approach was to find a decent campground as a base of operation and then unhitch and conduct day trips or excursions in the pickup truck. Something was missing. The ability to do spur of the moment and off road trips was limited.
After our 2016 summer camping was over, we decided to take another hard look at truck campers to capture the flexibility we were looking for. As the quest continued, we decided we wanted a large camper that could accommodate both of us, two dogs and facilitate a sleepover with a grandchild. Our search continued until we stumbled upon the Livin’ Lite Camplite series which seemed to have a good track record and the specs we were looking for; light weight, spacious and durable. We settled on the 11.0 model which comes in at 20 feet long, 3400 lbs dry weight and features a dinette slide. The dinette slide was important because I like to cook and I didn’t want to be bumping into things as I prepared a meal. It also gave a nice open feel to the camper. The deal was made with Jerry’s RV in New Minas with the trade of the fifth wheel included. Now, as you can appreciate, a half ton truck cannot carry 3400 lbs so we also traded the Dodge Ram 1500 for a Dodge Ram 3500 to ensure we had payload capacity. We picked up the camper in September, 2016. When I drove away, all appeared to be in order. Unfortunately, it was immediately evident that there was a problem. One of the tie down anchor plates at the rear of the camper was fastened by ordinary screws and not the proper structural bolts. The local dealer also recognized this shortfall and contacted me to make things right. During the repair procedure, it became evident that the quality assurance program at the manufacturer’s plant was woefully lacking as this defect had to be noticed in the factory and sent along the assembly line anyway. Although a gallant effort was made to realign the anchor plate and install the proper bolts, the repairs were not successful and another visit to the shop was scheduled for April, ahead of the 2017 camping season. In addition, we received a recall notice from the manufacturer about the propane tubing in the stovetop burner which also needed replacement.
After getting all the defects fixed inApril, we were ready to go and booked our first outing at Dollar Lake provincial park for the Canada Day weekend on July 1st. We chose Dollar Lake as it is a good park and the closet to home; Linda had to preach that weekend. Although the original defects were repaired in good order, we discovered a new problem with a leaking hot water tap on the outside shower connection and made arrangements to get that fixed. The good news is the camper does not leak from the external elements as we found out during the July 1st weekend as the rain was extensive and drove most of the campers home. Although the rain came down hard, it did not dampen our spirits; we enjoyed the comfort of the camper and managed to get a hike in on Saturday afternoon with dogs in tow. Hopefully, we will get things straightened out with the outside tap so we can get back to our first love of truck camping adventure. We intend to visit three national parks this summer, compliments of a free Discovery Pass from our federal government.