Did You Say Pop-Up Camper? Have You Met Me?

 As we wrestle over which gas and solar appliances to buy for the house, we are spending our weekends on the property in our very own…wait for it…pop-up camper. Yep, our crib is a 2010 Coleman Yuma that we bought a few years ago so we could stay on Jim’s (purchased-with-another-wife) land in Pa‘auilo, which is a dozen or so miles north of Laupāhoehoe. 

Each weekend (more, if work permits), we fill a cooler, pack our duffels, and grab every battery pack we own and head up to Lanikaimakani, the name we’ve given our paradise. (In Hawaiian, “Lani” means sky; “kai” means ocean, and “makani” means wind. All of which blissfully are in abundance.) 

Now, for anyone that sees my moving into a tiny house as a shocker, well, you might be surprised to know that I’ve truly come to love our camper! The wind howls through the screened panels and rattles every bracket and canopy. It’s heavenly. The views are non-stop, and every day brings a sky-show not to be believed, including sunrises directly out front and reflective night glow as the sun sets to the rear. Throw in an ever-changing sea-scape and the complex clouds that circumnavigate Mauna Kea, et voila…paradise. 

Back to the camper. 

There are two “beds” on either end when it’s popped-up: a king and a full. The latter is where Malu’s dog bed stays, along with our suitcases and anything else that’s getting in the way (which is everything). I’m working hard to make the “master” bed into something remotely comfortable. In its “natural” form, it is a polyester tweed-wrapped four inch foam mattress, which sits like concrete on the pressboard platform. Thanks to the endless pearls of wisdom from The Pop-Up Princess, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of dense foam interlocking tiles for under and a 2 inch gel topper for above the mattress. Thank you, Amazon Prime! Until then, it’s squinched shoulders and sore hips.

For utilities, there’s a two burner stove and a tiny fridge, both of which run on propane. The little faucet spits just enough water to wash a dish or two using the stash from our little portable catchment urn. Thanks to a recent purchase of a… drum roll, please… solar generator, we have POWER! (The fear of losing connectivity is REAL, man! I know, I know. We’re supposed to be cutting off. Meh, whatever.) There’s so much to say about being on the renewable energy learning curve, that I need at least a few more months and a Ph.D. before I can do it any justice in writing.

The bathroom situation deserves its own entry, so stay tuned on that front. Ditto shower. Suffice it to say, there ain’t enough running water to take care of that level of business. 

Now let’s get REAL. 

One of life’s great mysteries is how something built in 2010 is actually decorated (much less sold) with an assault of hideous beiges and…well…more beiges. It’s true! Because seriously, if I’m going to experience this as my ideal getaway – albeit temporary, thankyouverymuch – it has to be the most appealing version of itself. So, to Jim’s refrains of, “I like it in its original form,” “Don’t put any money into it,” and “It’s not that bad,” I’ve started to do what I always do wherever I am: make cheap little changes that make a HUGE amount of difference to me.

Case in point…the banquette cushions. $40 of fabric, a staple gun, and…shazam! I mean so much better, right? And I even got a retro print for Mr. Everything Was Better In The 70s.

And curtains. They were everywhere. I guess if we were going to have a sea of houseguests while staying in a highly populated camp-site, it would make sense to be able to cover every nook that might let in a beam of light or peeping eyes. But there’s nothing to see here, so down most of those are coming. And what was that “fabric?” More like plastic with fishing net at the top. Too bad, too, because I liked the dark gray color. Hello, target specials. White cottony goodness, with a pretty little border. And how about the tie-backs, which I made with the leftover seat cushion material (no sewing here…all fabric glue). Eat your heart out Martha Stewart.


Next up is covering the – you guessed it – beige vinyl flooring with simulated wood vinyl planks. You literally stick them on top of the old stuff and call it a day! How awesome is that? Well, first, according to the directions, I have to find the center point of the “room.” Huh. I’ll get back to you on how that works out. Ditto the countertops, which will be “renewed” with some adhesive laminate. 

All I have to say to Jim as he rolls his eyes at yet another Amazon arrival, “Sweetie, remember, one day soon this camper is going to be our guesthouse!”

Do I hear an “Amen!”??