Tuesday, May 31, 2016

usbackroads product--Living in a Casita Travel Trailer Part 3

usbackroads product--Living in a Casita Travel Trailer Part 3.

The previous two posts were about the exterior and interior of the Casita.  This post is about living and traveling in the Casita. Less fact and much more opinion.

As noted earlier, there are lots of folks full-timing in a Casita. This is a one person traveling in their Casita after losing their partner: http://casitaescapes.blogspot.com/.  The next person travels with three dogs: http://rvsueandcrew.net/.

Her dogs are smaller.  With Bugaboo and his 100 pounds we tend to do a dance when both of us are in the Casita. He is banished to the truck while traveling with Susie. Snowpatch on the other hand roams the Casita with plenty of corners to hide and get out of the way.

Towing the Casita is its best feature. It is narrow so you end up with good sight distance to the rear. A small move of the steering wheel and you can tell who is behind you. Not that there will be anybody behind you in most cases. With the Dodge Ram 3500 diesel I do not notice that the Casita is behind me. Note that the Casita comes with stock TRAILER tires which should not be driven over 65 MPH. So if you intend to drive fast, I would replace the trailer tires with some rated for higher speeds. The axle should be greased every year or 12,000 miles.

The one thing that gave me a moment of concern is the "pipes" for the gray and black water tanks. They are rather exposed. This web store does have a shield for the black and gray lines. So far no issues, but I am very careful on uneven ground.  The picture shows the clearance. The sewer line is just even with the foil wrapper on a wine bottle.

The disposal hose is stored in the rear bumper. To dump you actually rotate the area around the valves. At first this feels rather strange, but it keeps the contents from dripping.

The awning is made by a Italian company. The instructions are pretty much useless. I tried following them with a experienced Casita owner (he had a different brand awning) and we promptly broke one of the plastic pieces. I am now waiting on parts from Italy. Do a search on internet video's to see how the awning is suppose to open. Forget the instructions, even if you speak Italian.

The rest of the outside is pretty standard. We did purchase a front jack with wheel instead of the electric. The Casita is relatively easy to move due to its light weight a single axle. So if you get stuck you can always disconnect and turn it around fairly easily for a trailer. It does have a 7-pin trailer plug.

The inside of the Casita has vinyl on the floor and carpeting on the ceiling and walls. The first time I walked into it I immediately thought of the opening to the Barbarella movie. I would provide a link, but chose carefully it does not look like the web sites posting the video are "safe". Anyway, it is odd, but after a bit you get use to it. Long time Casita owners recommend ALWAYS using the kitchen fan while cooking. This reduces the carpet holding odors and will minimize the carpet cleaning in the future.

The carpet is also on the ceiling. The TV/DVD player is mounted in a corner. It will run off the 12 volt battery, but I recommend that you keep a solar panel attached if you want to do this. It is worth spending the money for the custom TV setup. There is little room in the trailer so this save space, not money.

Inside, the closet right by the entrance door is a real winner. In a small trailer, there is always the issue of where to put things. In our case, since so much of our camping is done during fall, winter, and spring the closet catches all those jackets that would just be laying around otherwise. There is some storage room below the jackets for some shoes or other items.

Next to the closet is the shower, sink and toilet unit. This is a wet bath so after a shower you will need to mop up the extra water. There is a waterproof storage unit for toiletries.  I did replace the shower unit with a Oxygenics Shower Kit. This gives a much better shower experience while using less water. The hot water heater in the Casita has a pre-set thermostat. The problem with this is that in a RV I always set the hot water temperature for that perfect shower and then just use the hot water. Now I waste water while trying to adjust the hot and cold settings. When and if that hot water heater is replaced, the next one will have an adjustable thermostat.

This brings up the issue of holding tanks. The black water holding tank is 15 gallons. There are no sensors to show the remaining capacity. You just shine a flashlight down the toilet to see how much free board you have available. It works.

The standard fresh water tank is 16 gallons. For boondocking we did select the optional 25 gallon tank. The gray water tank is 32 gallons in the deluxe version and only 13 gallons in the standard version.  Our rule of  thumb is once we start running out of fresh waster we dump the gray.

This covers the first part of living in the Casita. Next posting will cover the kitchen.

Monday, May 23, 2016

usbackroads products--Casita Trailer Part 2

usbackroads products--Casita Trailer Part .

This blog posting will focus on the interior of the Casita.

The front portion of the Casita has a closet and the wet bath. There is a small window in the bathroom and a power vent directly over the shower area.

That front door closet is a complete winner. Lots of room for hanging jackets and storage for various items. The small size of the Casita makes it important to have places to hang things rather than throwing them around the trailer.

As you can see the closet will fit enough jackets to handle most weather conditions. I also found it a very handy spot to store my fly rods and fishing vest. There is room for storage on the floor for shoes and other items. The closet door must be opened from inside the trailer. At first, I thought it better to open the other way. But if it is raining outside it is helpful to put on your coat before exiting the trailer.

The bathroom has a very small sink. That blue item next to the mouthwash is the sink. Directly down below is a waterproof cabinet for storing toiletries. Nice touch having all that stuff out of the way in the bath room. The shower is directly next to the bathroom door. There is a shower curtain that covers the bathroom door and keeps water from entering the living area.  It is important not to forget putting the shower curtain up to cover the door. Yes, water gets into the living area fairly quickly and it is easy to forget when the door is closed.

The throne is actually a bit high both otherwise fine. The shower could use a wooden "floor" to stand on while taking a shower. Everything does get wet in a "wet bath" so you have to dry yourself and the bathroom when finished.

The fridge and microwave unit are right next to the entry door. Notice the shelf on the fridge where the toilet paper is located. Nice shelf. I use if for placing my contact lenses at night.  We do keep a cutting board on the shelf. That and the small dinette are one of the few food preparation areas.

The fridge is good sized. For folks that are totally into boondocking you can turn down the fridge temperature so it functions more as a freezer than a fridge.  Then use a cooler for the fridge. As you can see from the photo the sink and kitchen area is quite small. It is small enough that you will probably change your cooking methods and dinners. We started looking at microwave dinners that minimized the washing of dishes. I think a necessary accessory is a barbecue grill.

After fixing a meal.  The dinette is where you get to enjoy the rewards of all that work. As you can see in the photo the surface area is fairly small. But it is adequate. The cushion chairs are ok, but some Casita owners have replaced them with rotating chairs.

The Casita is narrow and short. That means the combination bed and large dinette is oriented along the width of the trailer. That means in the middle of the night the "trapped" person will have to climb over to get to the bathroom facilities. This is why the Casita is perfect for one or two people that are very much in love. It also helps if they are young and in love since that will help limit the trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

During hunting and fishing seasons it is simple to sleep on part of the bed and use the back half for storage. It can get messy on that half of the bed. I did run into one Casita owner that has lived in his Casita for almost 20 years. He converted the bed full bed into a twin. Left a place to dangle his feet and set-up a electronic keyboard complete with speakers to play his music. So for one, there are many things you can do with the back half of the bed. Of course, under the bed is one of the "big" storage areas.

Here are all the storage areas in the Casita. They are fairly limited. Most owners of Casita's get plastic storage boxes hold their treasures. The tow vehicle becomes a rolling storage area. There are plenty of people full-timing in a Casita. It is important in those cases to manage your "stuff".

These are the storage areas above the bed. They do have a sloping back so the storage is less than expected.

This is the storage above the dinette. Long skinny thing fit well here.

This shows the all important cutlery drawer as well as the under the sink storage.

And finally, the storage underneath the seats.

So there it is. A small egg shaped trailer with carpeting on the walls instead of the floor!!  Next blog posting will be about living in a Casita.

Friday, May 13, 2016

usbackroads product--Casita Travel Trailers

usbackroads product--Casita Travel Trailers.

The Carriage 5th wheel is a wonderful trailer. We have used for almost five years, but found that we were using in large campgrounds and towing it on usbackroads was an adventure. Susie was looking for a small trailer that she could tow with a SUV during hunting and fishing season by herself. That is when I got fishing and hunting...she wants to go somewhere else!

So we moved the Carriage to a RV park in a sunny part of Arizona and are using it as our "winter" home. That meant finding a small RV for usbackroads and for Susie to use on her own. We ended up purchasing a Casita 17 foot Spirit Deluxe. We ended up with every option, but the TV tray and electric jack. Total price was just over 20,000 dollars for the brand new trailer.

Buying a trailer over the phone did have me worried. But then I have purchased trucks over the phone and those have worked out well. The salesperson on the phone was great.  In fact, he talked us out of the electric jack given our style of camping. The Casita's are built to order and you must pick them up in Rice, Texas or pay 51 cents a mile to have them delivered.

The trailers have their own little "cult".  Here are the links to forums on the trailer: Casita Forum and Casita Club.

They hold resale value well.  We could buy a 10 year old used trailer for 15,000 or a new one for 20,000.  You can see why we ended up with a new trailer.

They are considerable smaller than the 5th wheel. As you can see from this picture the Dodge truck is actually longer than the trailer. The Spirit is also considerable narrower than a lot of trailers at six feet and eight inches. You can see pretty well behind the trailer. Much easier than just seeing the "Wall" behind the 5th wheel.

Towing the Casita with the Dodge Ram is fun. The dry weight of the trailer is 2480 lbs. At gas stations and rest stops I do get asked by other RV'ers as to whether I have "enough" truck to tow the Casita. It has trailer tires so I try to keep the speed around 65 mph. On steep grades I do notice people trying to pass the Ram and Casita so they are not stuck behind a "slow moving RV". I have yet to find a grade out west that I could not accelerate all the way up the grade. Sometimes it is just plain fun to pass those "slower" vehicles while I am towing.

Casita Travel Trailers warranty covers the trailer. The individual components such as hot water heater, fridge, microwave, etc. are covered by the individual warranties offered by those companies. Currently, the hot water heater on gas has triggered the propane alarm and the electric water portion does not appear to be working. So the warranty work has to be through Suburban water heaters. That is a pain. I can drive it 60 miles to Yakima or get a local Wenatchee RV dealer call Suburban. Which they really do not want to spend time doing. So be aware that the warranty issues might be more of a problem than with a "home" dealer.

We have owned and used the Casita now for almost seven months and the water heater has been the only warranty issue that has come up.

The Casita is perfect for one or two people that are very much in love. Compared to a large RV there are some "changes" in standard living conditions. I will cover those in the next two postings.

Here are a couple of links to Casita blogs: roads less traveled and tilthelasthemlockdies.

Coming back home to Wenatchee from Arizona last fall I noticed lots of Alberta folks towing a small fiberglass trailer with a truck that sported a pop-up or regular truck camper.  So that makes it a two-bedroom, two bath combination. Those folks from Alberta are clever.  So I am looking doing the same.

In the meantime, the annual spring fishing trip to Blue Lake was a great. Less than five days after opener we had the lake to pretty much to ourselves just sharing it with one other camper. Weather was great with rain only at night and sunny skies for fishing during the day.