My camping history


New Member
Mar 21, 2022
Napa Valley
It’s hard to believe that my parents were able to pull this all off back in the late 1950’s. My wanderlust began because of this huge trip back when I was 8 years old. We were living in Santa Cruz, CA. My parents sold our home and all 4 of us moved to our a local state park on the beach for the last month of school. We had a small Siesta travel trailer that we lived in. Once my brother and I finished school we took off to roam the country. We pulled the Siesta behind our 1955 Buick Century (I’d dearly love to have that now!) During the 3 months that we were on the road, we toured all 48 states and saw so many unbelievable sights. That was the beginning of travel for me and my brother. Over the years I’ve pretty much settled into touring with my FWC Hawk camper. My brother and his family usually do travel on the world scale with cruises or bus tours through Europe. I’ve do that too but I seem to prefer the overnights in the desert or mountains in my own camper.

I’ve been a very happy FWC Hawk owner for many years. Here’s my story. After owning my Hawk from 2006-2019, I decided to sell it and go the motorhome/trailer route. This wasn’t exactly the best decision I’ve made and it wasn’t a good use of my money, but fortunately it worked out well in the end, on several levels. I sold my Hawk to a good buddy’s nephew and over the next few years purchased a very old, very used Class C which I then soon sold. I then bought a fairly new 31’ trailer then sold it (too much hassle to set up, take down and tow) and purchased a brand new Class C Forester. It took me a while to get it through my head that this wasn’t the type of camping/travel I liked to do. Some of the best places I’ve found were when I’d see a road sign pointing to some place I had never heard of before. Pulling a large trailer or driving a large motorhome would be impossible to visit many of the places I’ve reached first in my 2001 F-150 then later in my 2018 F-150 XLT. Fortunately for me the time was ripe to sell my still fairly new, low miles Class C as everyone was wanting to get out and play again after the world shut down from the pandemic. Luckily, I ended up with most of my money back after selling it.

The decision to purchase a new FWC Hawk was an easy one to make based on my long term experiences with my old one. I live about 2 hours southwest of Woodland so I drove to the Four Wheel Camper warehouse to place my order. I had a great experience with FWC’s Mike Olds. He was helpful in setting up my camper to my specs. It took about 6 months before it was ready for pick up. Soon enough I had a brand new Hawk on my truck. The large (130 Liters) fridge is powered by dual 6 volt batteries. I added solar on top (160 watts) and a roll out solar panel (130 watts) that plugs in at the rear of the camper. I opted for a second ceiling vent up front over the bed. I now wish I had added another solar panel rather than the vent. I get enough air through the windows and can also plug in a small fan if needed. My old camper had a three way fridge which I only used propane. My old propane fridge usually stayed the same temperature. I’ve noticed with my new fridge, the temperature will sometimes creep up when the battery levels are lower, mostly later at night. The battery quickly charges back up with the solar panels in bright skies. My old camper had a heater but I don’t usually camp in extremely cold weather so I opted to not get one. I did get the 6 gallon water heater with the outside shower. I bought one of the quick set up shower tents in case I’m near other campers. The hot shower after the day is a wonderful thing. I also purchased the fold up portable toilet. I fold it up and stow it away in one of the storage areas. I added an awning as it always comes in very handy when needed for either shade or getting out of the rain, especially when BBQing.

I love boon docking but also love attending events and camping on site. I’ve spent quite a few nights camping on BLM/Forest Service lands then go out off roading using fire trails during the day. Some of my trips over the years have included driving and camping across country to Oshkosh, WI to stay for a week at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual AirVenture air show which is the largest airshow in the world, with over 40,000 campers. I’ve camped out in the hills above the Bonneville Salt Flats and driven out onto the salt to attend the speed races. I’ve driven and camped in Death Valley plus numerous campouts off of Hwy 395 in the eastern Sierra’s (Alabama Hills is a favorite). I’ve camped out on the top floor of a large hospital parking garage in Glendale, CA for 4 nights to be near my daughter when she had a surgery. I camp out every year for at least 5 nights just north of Bakersfield, CA to help crew on a drag race team. My most frequent use of my camper is to camp out in the desert north of Reno, NV and work as an official at the National Championship Air Races. The practices are in June and the races in September. I’m a total airplane nut and love the speed, sound and spectacle of it. It is so much more enjoyable to camp out on site rather than head to an offsite campground or motel. These events are attended by long time friends (like minded crazies!) where we set up our compound each year. My camper becomes the modern version of the chuck wagon when I’m out in the desert on the air race course.

I have kept a running tally of the nights I’ve spend in the both campers. I had owned my first Hawk camper about 2 years and was camping at Mt. Lassen when I met a couple who had a Hawk similar to mine. They mentioned they had spent over 140 nights in their camper over the years. I had no idea how many overnights I had. That night I started going back over the night’s I had spent in the camper and arrived at a number that I felt was fairly accurate. From that point on I made sure I wrote down each night. From 2006-2019, I spent 297 nights in my Hawk. So far I have spent 21 nights in my new one since June 2022.

I have a wonderful wife who is not into the type of camping that I enjoy doing, especially when it involves being out in the desert. We are overdue for a Maui getaway trip! She is very supportive of my various expeditions so I am a very lucky guy! I don’t have my next trip planned but I think it may involve either an overnight visit to the Stonyford off road area north of Clear Lake, CA. or camping in the redwoods.

If anyone is on the fence about purchasing a pop up, I recommend taking the leap and going for it. Life is too short to not have lots of fun. I thoroughly enjoy my experiences in FWC’s well built camper. As the old Nike ad states, “Just Do It!”

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Thank you for the fun read. I have a similar story about the early days. I was lucky to have a family deeply interested in the outdoors and traveling. I recall explorations in the Mojave Desert and Death Valley areas in my Dad's work vehicle - he was a plumber and got the "hand me down" family station wagon when it was time for Mom to get a new one - first a1956 ford station wagon and then a 1959. I remember traveling most the roads "overlanders" now post about. My job, when in the passenger seat, was to watch for "pan getters". The gas tank hung behind the rear axle in a vulnerable position. No need to ask me how I know.
You have found your sweet spot of camping and outdoor fun. Have fun and keep on keeping on!
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