Casita Family? Northern California (Bay Area)
Posted 04 January 2018 - 04:02 AM
Our conundrum is about the short term, over the next 3-4 years, during which we want to do road trips as a family. We have nearly 15 year-old boy/girl twins, two medium-large dogs, and a red tailed hawk. Our towing vehicle is a 2003 Toyota Sequoia, and we currently own a Coleman pop-up tent trailer, which is about 17 feet long when in travel mode, including the tongue. It is longer when the beds are popped out, with a king on one end, and a full on the other. Our son sleeps on the drop-down table/bed, which is a wide & short twin, and is getting too short. The hawk box sits on the countertop, and we trip over the dogs to go outside at night- no toilet, no shower. We have a solar shower tent, with a bucket, and a battery operated pump. We heat the water on our heavy-duty, high-altitude camp stove. Our kitchen is an outdoor set up. Nothing in the trailer has ever worked. It was 'well loved' when we bought it, for $1200, several years ago. I think the baling wire might come undone the next time we leave the driveway, and the duct tape is peeling. We refer to it as our 'glorified rolling tent; with mattresses'. My husband & I are VERY attached to our king sized bed with foam-top mattress. We are average height, and overweight, but not obese. Our kids are slim, but tall, and growing. Our son is a rock climber, and our daughter is a falconer. Both kids and my husband are all musical. Two guitars, and a ukelele. We've usually camped in remote places in our pop-up, and the kids use tents now that they are older. But now we want to do road trips, sleep roadside sometimes, and sometimes travel to cold climates. So mostly they will sleep in tents, but sometimes we need to cram into the warm trailer, and/or behind solid walls, and a locked door.
I have read this forum top-to-bottom, as well as the public-access portion of the Casita website (I do not have access to the forums there.) We considered purchasing a stick-built for just a few years, and then buying a Casita later. But my husband & I are stretched thin most of the time, with aging parents & grandparents to assist and/or care for, as well as our own children, jobs, etc. We really rely on vacations to hold the four of us together, so it is important that we are not distressed over being broken down somewhere far from home during our bonding time, or having to spend several days or weeks per year dealing with trailer repairs and maintennance. We are hoping to buy a Casita LD, modify it to fit our short-term needs, learn how to maintain it with minimum fuss, and get on with enjoying it. The other eggs don't work for various reasons. We have an SUV, not a pick-up, so no fifth wheel. We want to keep it small, because we have remote places that we like to boondock with our little tent trailer, and we don't want to give those up. And we cannot afford an Oliver, which is bigger than we want in the long term, anyway. We think a Casita LD is exactly right, but without the opportunity to get into one, lift the cushions, and really look at how it is put together while standing in it, we are a bit nervous about making such a big purchase. We do okay, but a lot of people depend on us, and we have two kids to put through college within the next decade. Until then, we expect that the kids will most often use tents. We will probably need to cram all four of us into the trailer together for probably 20-30 nights, total, over the next 3-4 years. We don't mind losing the dining area while we have our kids with us. As a family, we can deal with that sort of thing just fine. But we want to have those amenities later, when we are traveling on our own, as a couple. Carol Christensen has really nailed down exactly what we want for that period of our lives, which isn't too far off.
We are hoping that a few of you handy and experienced Casita owners can tell us whether or not our ideas for short-term modifications are feasible. We understand that a lot of the choice about a Casita is subjective, but we mostly want to hear what you think about the objective aspects of our ideas. We will call Casita when they open next week, and hopefully we can look at some local(ish) Casita's. We've had the small Coleman pop-up for years, so we are pretty sure we understand the feel of the size, but of course we need to stand in one to be sure. We have even inquired about renting an LD out of Southern California, for just a few days for my husband & I to get a feel for the particulars. But we can't exactly get into someone else's trailer and start pulling things apart to check out the underpinnings that we can sort of see, but not exactly, in some of your photos. Ahem...I think that might be upsetting for the owners...LOL! It would definitely be rude, and not okay. If some of you could read our mod ideas, below, and give us practical and pragmatic feedback, we would be very grateful. We will purchase the 'Casita A-Z' book/CD, read the blue notebook when we get it, etc. We just need feedback on the practical aspects of the mod ideas for sleeping four adult-sized people, for the few times that we need to.
Regardless of any responses that we may or may not get, I'd like to thank you all again for all your posts, and photos. They were tremendously helpful, and inspirational.
Best wishes, Happy New Year, and we hope to see some of you on the road in June! We plan to start with a trip to the Southwest, unless we find the perfect used LD somewhere else. I'm not sure if we will have time to order a new trailer from Texas, but we will definately be looking into the possibility, when they open, next week.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have a LD that you are willing to let us look at, please let me know.
Several Liberty Deluxe mods show twin beds, and several people have built solid wood supports for bigger beds, rather than using the presumably flimsier table tops for support. One person has a sort of V shaped twin-upper/king-lower sort of bed set-up. I am thinking that if we put the solid support on the end of the trailer, and slept with our heads toward the kitchen, on twins that are widened half-way down with L-bracket supports, then we could use our Cabela's XL folding cot as a crosswise upper bunk, and sleep with our feet under that. One teen could sleep on the crosswise cot/bunk, and the other teen could sleep on a thick bedroll on the floor, in the aisle. The dogs and hawk could sleep in the SUV (the hawk sleeps in a solid-sided box, with a perch in it.) I like this idea best, because when we do camp long enough to use tents, we could remove the cot very easily, and just leave the board in place, at our feet. And this way we would only need to store one folded cot on trailer nights, because the other cot would be doing double duty, tent or trailer. We do have a roof rack for the SUV, but space will be at a premium, I am sure. And it would be bonus if we could use the roof rack for our kayaks.
Some people who have Spirit Deluxe's have modified the side dining area into solid bunk beds that are strong enough to support adults on both upper and lower bunks. I am wondering if we could do the same on BOTH sides of the back area of a Liberty Deluxe, essentially creating two sets of bunk beds where many people put twin beds. My primary concern with this idea is the narrow aisle, and low head-space for both the lower and upper bunks. I am thinking of beds which are 30 inches wide, and that would leave only about 15 inches for the aisle. Also, I am not sure how we would deal with the window blinds, or the curve at the end of the trailer, since we wouldn't want to nail or bracket into the fiberglass outer shell.
Thanks again for your time! Best wishes! I hope to hear from a few of you soon.
Posted 04 January 2018 - 08:27 AM
If you call Casita they may be able to put you in touch with someone in your area to look at a LD in person.
Good luck. We think you can make it work for those times you all need to be inside.
Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:06 AM
Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:10 AM
Your idea to modify the LD seems a bit contoured with the cots involved, like a jigsaw puzzle well thought out .
We have a SD deluxe. Camping in it now into our 12th year my son who is now 16 and loves the Casita and all of the places we've been able to see because of our egg. When he was 5-7 we use to both sleep in the back double bed. I got tired of getting kicked and punched so I put him on the side dinette bed. Soon I tired of taking the dinette up and down so I converted the back to be a single bed with a small dinette adjacent to that bed with a table that swiveled away to make entry into the bed and dinette seats easy. Thus having two single beds in place all of the time. I assume once the kids are gone and the two of you are traveling you wanted two single beds with the liberty mod?
With the SD configured as it comes from the factory, the parents can sleep in the double bed in the back, put the daughter in the side dinette bed and the son on the floor. That is a whole lot less putting together a jigsaw puzzle that what you propose with the LD and Cabela's cots.
Good Luck and hope to see you down the road.
2003 17' SD
2002 F350 Diesel Crew Cab
(I know it is overkill but we live on a real ranch it takes a vacation with the Casita)
Posted 04 January 2018 - 01:23 PM
Rudder, it is really great to hear that you've already done something similar in another trailer, and that it worked for your family in practice, even into the next generation! Sounds like you did a good job taking care of your first trailer. You must really know your stuff. We aren't very handy. My husband is a tech guy who rarely has time to put his engineering mind into projects at home, and I am always running from pillar to post when we are home, so maintennance often falls by the wayside until it's time to use something. If you have any photos of how you made two beds over the top of a king, that would be really great. If not, I think I can probably mull it around in my head and come up with something similar. How narrow are the two top bunks? Our kids are pretty large people. I wonder if you were putting smaller kids on narrower beds than our huge teens will need. Two side-by-side Cabela's XL cots would be about 80 inches wide, and I think that might be the entire width of a king. Still, you told me enough about your experience that I know at least one crosswise cot will work, and that is GREAT! Thank you for taking the time to respond!
Blacksmith, we would LOVE to come and see your LD! Thanks! Do you know how we can exchange personal information without breaking the forum rules? I will look for information about that as soon as I get back to my ipad later this afternoon. I'm about to leave the house. I can't wait to see your LD! My husband will be really glad to hear that we can see one that is closer than Pasadena, and we always enjoy a drive up your way. You live in a remarkably beautiful area. If I may ask... are you actually a blacksmith? That would be so cool...the last real blacksmith that we met was at Sutter Fort's living history days. We love historical craftsmanship, and are really glad to see people keeping those traditions alive whenever we come across them. We searched high and low for blacksmith classes when my son was younger, and as I sort of alluded to, our daughter is an apprentice falconer, with a focus on raptor rehabilitation.
Clover, thank you for describing how things evolved for you as your son grew. You speak right to my mother-thinking when you describe what a hassle it is to configure things in complicated ways that have to be dealt with every time you need to sleep, and it sounds like you came up with some great solutions for keeping it simple for the two of you, as your boy grew. Our situation is a little different. The Casita purchase is really more about my husband & I, because our kids are not young like your son was when you bought yours. We just want to jerry-rig a solution for those rare times that we need to cram our huge teens into the trailer. Most of the time they will sleep in seperate tents, each with their own dog. They are opposite gender, so they don't want to share sleeping quarters with each other any more than they want to share with us. It is only on nights that we are driving two days in a row and need to catch a few winks in an urban or suburban setting before driving again in the morning, or when it is truly too cold for tents, that we will need to fit all four of us into the trailer. Rarely, we hope! My husband & I will be missing our king sized bed every minute that we have to use twin beds, or share a smaller-than-king-sized bed. Twin pregnancy really damaged my hips & low back, and my husband needs to have surgery on both shoulder joints. We need something that is comfortable most of the time, but which will also work sometimes, albeight uncomfortably. It sounds like your set up is for both of you to sleep separately, but inside the trailer, most of the time. Still, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and experience. It is so much easier to learn from someone else than to re-invent the wheel. I envy that you were able to travel around with your son throughout his entire childhood. How wonderful! I bet you guys are really close. Travel is such a wonderful thing to share with your child.
Thanks for speaking up, guys! I really appreciate it. Blacksmith, I will look for ways to share our contact information when I get back home again, later today. Hope to see you soon!
Posted 04 January 2018 - 05:53 PM
Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:18 PM
I didn't think to compare the length of the cots we already have with the width of the trailer from the website measurement information. Our existing cots are 4" too long. It's no problem to buy shorter and narrower cots, but I wouldn't have thought of that until much later in the process, or even looked at all the various cot size options. There are many sizes of cots available. Most are MUCH narrower that our 40" wide ones, and there are different foot/leg/support configurations, as well. It will be worthwhile for me to take my kids to Cabela's and/or REI to have them see what width each of them actually needs. If my kids' width needs are narrow enough, we might be able to set two cots crosswise next to eachother, as you suggested, and that would allow my husband & I to use a king mattress instead of twins with an aisle. That would be much more comfortable than I'd hoped. The kids seldom need to use the bathroom at night, and they are nimble, so climbing over each other shouldn't be an issue, either.
Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:56 AM
As you can see the cot is a good length (74" x 28" x 15") but the legs will not work. This is an old cot, maybe not made anymore.
Supports could be created at the walls so the person below has legroom. The floor aisle is 27 " wide. I am 5'8" tall. So you can see how far back to
front is. I think you could make this work in a pinch. But you would have to be a CLOSE family.
Posted 06 January 2018 - 04:47 PM
Posted 07 January 2018 - 09:40 AM
Posted 07 January 2018 - 05:21 PM
I'm so glad you found my twin bed modification to be useful and I hope it works as well for you as it has for us. BTW: I'm from San Francisco, now living in Nevada. We have something else in common; we have traveled with our Casita and 2 - 3 med-lrg dogs, along with a bird or two and even 2 baby rabbits on one trip. The dogs have always slept in the 4-Runner. The birds and bunnies (rehabed & later released) slept inside the trailer.
With all the great & helpful comments you've had so far, there is little I can add. The king-bed measures about 75"W X 81"L. Measurements tend to vary just a bit because of the carpeting on the walls (insulation) and, of course, the curve at the rear. I can't quite picture 2 cots over the king-bed, it seems like the cot's middle support would pretty much trap anyone sleeping below. There would be hardly any aisle at all. But I'm sure you are all more agile than we are so maybe you can make it work.
Just a thought about the cots, it may add stability (and not punch holes in the bedding below) to have the u-shaped tubing legs. And, if you decide on 1 person on a cot over the bed & one in the aisle, remember that you can always change the size of the tables that double as supports. The across the aisle measurement is a constant but the other direction can be as wide/narrow as you need. Also, keep in mind that even if the twin mattresses overlap into the aisle, the space under the overlap is the normal width. It might be a little claustrophobic for someone on the floor, or it might just be cozy.
Happy New Year.
PS: We had a Casita owner in Japan who traveled with his wife, son, and daughter. At first they used the bunks for the kids, then as the kids grew up, the son slept in the aisle on a very low cot. I think they had a 16' SD.
Edited by Carol Christensen, 07 January 2018 - 10:28 PM.
2005 17' LD Nova & 2001 Toyota 4Runner
pre-Nova was Ova-the-Rainbow 1999 17' LD (sold)
Don't believe everything you think.
Posted 16 January 2018 - 03:15 AM
It is true that the wonderful people who responded to my few remaining concerns in this thread really have answered all of my questions at this point, and we are really excited that we will be seeing Blacksmith's LD soon. Everyone's responses have been so much more than we'd ever hoped for, and everyone who responded has really helped us to cement our decision.
...but it was you who answered about 70% of my original questions in your various responses to other threads throughout the forums. I don't like to bother people unless I really need to, so I thoroughly read everything I could find before I introduced myself, and I found all of your postings really useful, especially because they usually gave links or made mention of other information that I could actually follow up on. You were so thorough and concise about your reasoning in your responses, and you were good about giving leads, as well. Your posting in the compost toilet thread really led me to what I needed to know about toilet decisions, as well as toilet maintennance. And it was your very thorough posting about your custom cushions that first led me to consider that we may be able to make an LD work in the short term, rather than having to buy an inexpensive stick-built for the interim, while we are still traveling as a family. That posting really showed me the versatility that is available without permanently-altering/built-in modifications that are a tremendous amount of work that we don't have time for, and that would create lasting holes or other damage when it came time to undo it.
I did see the photos the family in Japan posted. Thank you for mentioning them, though, in case I hadn't. Those photos were really helpful. And thank you for mentioning that you also had your dogs sleep in your SUV. I think that will be necessary when the kids are still with us, for sure. It looks like you camp in colder climes up in Canada and such, so I am glad to know they do okay out there in the SUV. Do you use coats, blankets, and/or beds, in cold areas? What breed of dogs do you keep? Our current dogs are a lab and a lab/shepherd cross. But I think we will do poodles or a labrador-poodle mix next. We seem to be developing allergies as we get older. Our lab/shep X has longish hair, but I think our lab will need a jacket. He shivers even here in California sometimes.
Thank you for your thoughts on the tables, cot, and aisle. I think we will do almost exactly what Rudder showed us photos of, above, but that we will look for a short-enough cot with three rows of legs, and either flip the large table-top sideways to create a solid base, or use a piece of plywood. Our daughter is very agile, and not bulky, but she is also densely muscular and tall, so I am afraid that if we put rounded feet onto mattress or bedding it would flip sideways too easily. For Rudder's smaller grandchildren that might work, though. I will probably purchase inexpensive thin twin Ikea mattresses and a king topper from Costco that I can custom cut, and just put holes in them where the cot legs need to touch the solid support. The aisle will be snug for our son, so we can't do your great cushion idea when we need room for him to sleep there. We will need to put holes in those areas to use L brackets to make the head-end (mid-trailer) of the twin beds wide enough for my husband & I, who are, ahem, less fit than our children. I am worried about finding a three-legged cot that is short enough to fit crosswise, though. Most of the three legged ones are 82-84 inches long. Thanks for those measurements!
It is interesting that you mention birds, bunnies, and rehab all in the same sentence. I know you did microbiology from your post in the composting toilet thread. Bunnies are prey to most carnivorous birds, so you must have done rehab with some other kind of bird than a raptor, which is the kind of rehab work my daughter is working toward. She also enjoys hunting as a falconer, but the primary reason for doing falconry is to gain the experience she feels is necessary to do more successful rescue & release work with rehabilitation and captive breeding programs. Right now I am looking for a way for her to learn about infectious diseases that she is exposing our household to through less-than-hospital-protocol level hygiene/husbandry practices with both her hawk and it's food/game. I am thinking of an online summer course, or even just a good entry level textbook (college introductory level.) If you have any thoughts about that, please let me know? What kind of birds did you rehab? Songbirds? Corvids?
Thank you again for all of your great posts on this club website, and also for reaching out on my thread. I feel like I know you from reading all of your posts, so it is really nice to actually 'meet' you. I hope to see you in person on the road some day!
Posted 16 January 2018 - 03:21 AM
We will be using your custom cushion modification when the kids move out. That is perfect for us as a couple. I love the versatility. The Ikea mattered and Costco topper are my interim plan, and your custom cushions are my long-term plan.