Alright, this story is from last fall, but it's a good 'un!
Ok, so after one camping trip, my theory of pop-up campers is that they're Murphy's Law magnets created by engineers who hate the great outdoors in general and campers in specific.
Last fall my dearest husband and I set out on a cross country drive that, at final tally, took us through 12 states. We thought it would be a savings to buy a pop-up camper instead of staying at hotels along the way (can't reuse hotels on other vacations). So an older Scamper comes home with us and we proceed to spend copious amounts of time cleaning, repairing and organizing it. It was cute and everything worked but we made some braces for the risers, ya know, just in case!
The trip starts out well, 2 nights in a hotel while attending the Ren Faire in Minnesota. We agreed trying to find camping, etc near the Faire was more bother than we were interested in. Fun was had by all and the camper still followed faithfully behind the truck.
Night 3 - drove until we got to the outskirts of the Bad Lands ... pitch black, cold and windy. Motel 3 Camper 0
Night 4 - Got to Sheridan, WY ... freak snow storm! Motel 4 Camper 0 (why are we towing this thing again?)
Fast forward a little bit, we're coming into Cody, WY outside of Yellowstone. *POP* there goes a camper tire (but we haven't even *used* it yet!). Heath successfully changed the tire on the side of the road but we still stop in Cody to get another spare. Ended up replacing both tires and keeping 1 old for a spare. Cute town, really loved staying there... in their newest hotel (off season, great rates!) Motel 5 Camper 0
Night 6 - spent somewhere south of the Tetons in a hotel. See snow, bitter cold and dark, utter. Motel 6 Camper... you get the idea!
Spent some time in Utah and were driving to Arches National Park to, you know... camp! Suddenly, *CLUNK* *Watch as the new camper tire (& rim!) sail off over the majestic mountain side*. Had we been able to pack everything in the camper into the truck, the cursed thing would still be sitting on that hilltop. 2 hours of screwing around later, Heath managed to jack up the camper, clean out all the mud (moving to the side of the road turned wheel-less axle into a plow) and put the spare on with 2 lug nuts from the other tire. Another 2 hours got us back to where we were 20 minutes before the tire made its break for freedom. Thank God for GPS - we found a local tire shop that took pity on us and repacked the bearings and put on another new tire.
We got to Moab, UT at o'dark thirty and got one of the last hotel rooms in town (big bike race weekend apparently) and had one of the best dinners I've ever had at The Sunset Grill.
The next day we headed out to Arches and actually set up camp!!! Only to find that when the tire committed suicide it took the raising mechanism with it. Crank = useless. But wait! We have the braces for the risers so this could still work. Ever manually lift a pop-up camper? Amazingly, we both still have ten fingers. Had a beautiful, if cool, night for camping. Cooked steaks, looked at the stars and slept in the camper.
After bumming around Arches we decided we had enough fun and were ready to be home. We stayed one night in Colorado and drove straight home from about Glenwood Springs on to Ohio (yep, 23 hrs - we were ready to be home).
Once we got home we hefted the camper up again, emptied the contents and gave it away to some older gentleman who completely refurbished it and loves it. From this point on, I'm either camping in a tent or in a full bodied camper. Pop-up? Never again.