I grew up with 2 cosistant pastimes in my family. The great outdoors and motorsports. I do not think there was a weekend in my youth that did not encompass either camping or motorsports of some sort or even perhaps both of these activities wound into one. I was also a dutiful Boy Scout, an avid hunter, a decent high school athlete and a relatively proficient moto crosser. I loved all things outdoors and was fed a youthful diet of summer camps and National Parks and Boy Scout trips by my blue-collar parents. We even had the obligatory Coleman pop-up camper with that funny smell and we dragged it to ‘the lake’ for memory making weekends year round. In adulthood I kept my outdoor spirit in hunting and fishing and biking and teach my kids the same. As an adult however, I never got into the camper thing as it just didn’t fit, till now. With one off to college and one in middle school fully immersed in Boy Scouts, dirt bikes and outdoor activities as I was, I took the plunge. I’ve been going to rallies across the country for years and have seen these things called “Toy Haulers” that people drag their Harleys around in. They are a perfect combination of motorsports and outdoor activities dragged behind a diesel pickup. Now I did not go crazy and buy the mega monster with hot tubs and roof decks and plasma screens in 7 separate rooms. My pals Chuck and Vicky have that. Satellite dish and built in bar and 5th wheel dually with all the trimmings. That’s a real commitment. I got mine through a combination of right time and place. My friend had a thirty-foot bumper pull Toy Hauler and needed to move on so I accommodated him. I bought the “used” unit that was in need of a little TLC for the price of a used motorcycle. I struck a quick deal and spent a few weekends fixing a toilet, a screen door and gas stove. And despite it having stereo surround and satellite TV with a queen bed up front my favorite part about the whole affair is the garage. The brilliantly placed last 10 feet of the rig whose rear wall opens down like a giant ramp to back the Harley(s) down accommodating a ride anywhere from your campsite of choice. My girl Mandy and I hit our local Target and outfitted our new (to us) Toy Hauler with all we thought we would need for a weekend up in Maggie Valley, NC. Can opener, coffee machine, towels, sheets, citronella candles, paper plates, and even those little spears you stick in the end of the corn on the cob to keep your fingers cool and butter free.
At almost the length of an 18-wheeler between Toy Hauler and Truck, we chugged north towards the Blue Ridge Parkway slowly but surely. We brought the ’52 Pan and the Road Glide to cruise up and down the Parkway and maybe visit The Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum run by my friend Dale Wachler. A little firewood, some nice steaks and 2 lawn chairs, surely we were to be spared the monotony of the box hotel rooms clamored over in town. The camper itself, at 30 feet long, plus 4 or 5 for the hitch has a little bathroom with a shower which is absolutely necessary when traveling with a member of the opposite sex. The little kitchen is designed perfectly for cooking meals and cooling drinks and keeping you dry in case of rain. Besides the garage section, my 2nd favorite part is the pull out awning that essentially doubles the living space. It was no small feat navigating mountain passes to get to the destination, but it sure beats camping in a tent and was WAY closer to nature than a Super 8. I don’t think there is any money savings buying one of these things as opposed to staying in hotels although there is definitely a different experience. So saving money is NOT a factor in investing in one of these things if your going to be doing a bunch of rallies, as the price of admission on one outpaces any savings on hotel fees, not to mention fuel, maintenance, storage, etc…
On our maiden voyage, we arrived in our admittedly vanilla Toy Hauler and were quickly outclassed by the million dollar rigs surrounding us. It didn’t take long to figure out that this trend of towing your bike IN your camper is more a lifestyle than a hobby. People tow their chosen ride around the country, rally to rally, town to town, with what is, in essence, a small cabin to sleep, eat, cook, wrench and wash in. I had no idea how to hook up my sewer lines or how to properly level my rig or how to hook up the free cable for the TV and stumbled about the campsite scratching my head. My RV’ing neighbors took pity on me and came over giving me tutorials on everything from pressure reducing valves to Wi-Fi service in the ‘park’. All in all we really enjoyed our new pastime especially that our panhead AND our touring rig were parked right behind us and kept warm and dry in our own little garage. Would I invest in the 18-wheeler version with fireplace, wide screen, pull out bar and kegerator with La-Z-Boy recliners…..NO! Would I pull mine to the mountains to enjoy a weekend of mixed camping and motoring on the Harley through some mountain turns……YOU BET. Maybe I’ll see you there?
Remember, ride hard, ride safe, and in the end make sure you ride home. –Irish