A semi-daily chronicle of my life as a musician, a family man, and a citizen of Oregon.

Apr 5, 2008


The maiden voyage of the tent trailer was not without its challenges and opportunities.  It stands as the shortest camping trip I've taken in my formidable career.

As one might expect, this was a time to learn a lot about how the thing worked and check out the extent to which everything is in working order and for the most part it's great.  I got the outside sink working and the inside sink works, but the cold water tap is very slow from a kinked hose I think.  We got the furnace, stove and refrigerator working great.  Even though it was raining we were nice and dry and I can report the beds are very soft.  I didn't get the water heater working but I think I got that part figured out today.

As far as the towing goes, even though I'm still a little nervous about driving it we got it up to Warrenton just fine.  I even had to turn around with it at one point due to a wrong turn and a dead end street, which is just about one of the most difficult things you can do pulling a trailer I think.  I'm backing it just fine even though it's not entirely intuitive to me yet.

We had mandarin chicken (for everyone else, who aren't vegetarians) and burritos (for me, who is).  The little stove is really neat to cook on - super easy and the food tastes great because it's like cooking on a gas stove.

While Jen got dinner ready the kids made amazing origami things out of this kit I got them for the trip.  They had a ball.

Also, Maybell found her new home in the tent trailer - right by our feet under the table.

Here's where things start to fall apart for us on the trip:

Since we bought the tent trailer we noticed in the little enclosures and nooks and crannies on the outside that there were some paper wasp nests.  We also encountered a few wasps as we cleaned out the trailer and we've been dutifully killing them as we've come across them. 

Before we left on the trip there was a wasp near the hitch that Jen killed.  Subsequently, probably from jostling the trailer around as we drove it to Astoria and then heating up the trailer with the furnace, we activated some wasps.  We noticed one flying around which I dispatched quickly with a napkin.  A few minutes later we noticed a second one, which I handled in the same manner.  There was then a third, again handled in the crushing-with-a-napkin method.

At this point we were a little freaked out, reasonably I think.  However, we were brave.  The kids got nestled down to bed and we did the same.  I was so tired at this point from the whole day of getting everything ready for the trip (packing, filling propane tanks, etc.) that I could barely keep my eyes open or from yawning every few seconds.  I pretty much sacked out the best I could and Jen decided to watch the podcast of "in treatment" we downloaded onto her laptop so as to unwind.  BTW - In Treatment is incredible.  It might force me to finally get cable.

Anyhow, just as I was finally beginning to doze off into the kind of sleep that causes drool to fall down the side of your mouth I hear Jen very much freaking out.  A wasp had bitten her on the hand and proceeded to climb up her sweater arm, taking little bites as it went.  I killed the wasp, and of course it was at this moment that we realized we didn't have any Benadryl.  Jen went off in search of some, which she did find via one of our fellow campers.

At that point we realized that it would be impossible to continue because we would all be so paranoid about getting bit by another wasp that the trip would be ruined.  Without any other real options, we packed up everything, loaded the trailer and truck and left the campground headed back for home around 12:30 in the morning.  We finally pulled in to home at around 2:45 am.  Not fun.

As we drove back home Jen and I talked about how we didn't want the kids to take away from the situation that something like this can happen and the whole weekend is ruined with disappointment and dissatisfaction.  It was already obvious that this night would be a memory they would carry into adulthood, but we wanted it to be a lesson as well.

As such, this morning Jen sprang into action.  She started making calls and talked to a few different insect experts who gave us some great advice and actions to take to get those little buggers out of our tent trailer.  In particular, Jen ran across one service called Bee Control Northwest that was extremely helpful and valuable.  Here is what we learned:

  • We were dealing with paper wasps.  Because of the part of the lifecycle they are in right now we were probably only dealing with a couple of nests at the most, each which could have a maximum of 12 wasps.
  • The Bee Control Northwest lady made the excellent point that we are all for the bees and wasps, which perform an important role in our world, but that they need to also be controlled so as to make our coexistence harmonious.
  • We were concerned about setting off a fogger or taking a similar action in the tent trailer because we didn't want the poisons to soak into the canvas in the tent trailer or effect its water proofing properties.  We learned that there were indeed other options available.
  • If all else fails, we could hire an exterminator to come take a look and if we need to use a fogger there are botanical options that aren't harmful to us or the pets.
  • Everyone we talked to agreed that the best thing to do was take a shop vac around the tent trailer and suck up any paper nests we may see, getting into all the little places that wasps could conceivably bee.  We basically needed to take the thing apart as best we could and vacuum thoroughly.

So today we headed off to Home Depot and bought a shop vac (which we've procrastinated on buying for years) and a thing called Hot Shot no-pest strip.  Even though this is definitely a chemical solution we just couldn't take the risk of having another trip go bad because of waspy cohabitants.  On the advice of one of our experts we decided to pop up the tent trailer, clean it out really well, and hang up the no-pest strip for the next week.  After that's been done we'll air it out for a week and we should be good to go.  This should be perfect because we have another trip coming up to Jessie Honeyman State Park in a few weeks, and the whole process will be done with before then.

Finally, we still wanted to get some family time in so tonight we're camping in the living room.  Jen set up a sheet spread out over chairs and I blew up the inflatable mattress for the kids.  We'll be sleeping in the living room and pretend camping for the night.  Tomorrow we'll go swimming.