By Marla Pattison
The story of our “Rolling Yurt.”
Living in California’s Central Valley provides many opportunities for wonderful camping excursions. Within a couple of hours’ drive, we have wine country, beaches, and numerous alpine lakes. However, camping in these settings requires planning. Typically, to take our 29-foot Class C motorhome, reservations require a six-month lead time during the summer.
In 2021, many areas of the Central Valley had a record number of days exceeding 100° during the summer season. To escape the heat, many residents go camping at the beautiful nearby options that are often 20-25° cooler. But here’s the rub. As you watch the forecasted temperatures start to exceed 100°, if you don’t already have campsite reservations, finding an available site can be daunting.
The solution to booked-up campgrounds
My husband and I have found a solution. While perusing available campsites, it occurred to us that if we go tent camping during the middle of the week, for just a few days, we could find availability and escape the stifling heat. Having just retrofitted our 2013 Nissan Frontier Pro 4x pickup with a unique solid oak and steel flatbed, we had an option to do this.
With our creative juices flowing, we scoured the garage for materials to use, and so was born the “Rolling Yurt.” Our treasure hunt in the garage proved fruitful: a foam mattress from Grandpa’s cabin, a large unused sun-sail, a curtain rod, a torn sheet and some basic camping gear. We had also just acquired a solar generator and a small electric fridge/cooler, perfect for a yurt outing.
Putting our garage finds together, the mattresses fit perfectly on the oak flatbed. The sun-sail fit over the ladder rack and sideboards. Between the cab and truck bed, I utilized the torn sheet and curtain rod to fashion a curtain. After assembling all the components, we determined we had a cozy sleeping arrangement and a reasonable barrier from blood-thirsty mosquitos and other annoying critters. All that was left was to field-test our “Rolling Yurt.”
Fortuitously, my sister called just then to invite us up for a 4th of July outing at a nearby lake. Hmmm… perfect field test?? It took us a while to gather and plan what was needed for a quick getaway while having a few comforts of home. The 4th of July proved successful, and I slept well on our overnight escape.
On the next outing, my husband and son stayed two nights at a high elevation campground. Reservations were made at a small “tent only” campground next to a lake. This outing was also a success but came with some clear recommendations for upgrades and preparations for yurt excursions.
The recommended upgrades included storage options and a dedicated camping gear cabinet in the garage. For storage, I sewed some pockets on the sheet curtain, allowing us a spot for our phones, our pajamas and other items to be at arm’s length when in bed.
We had been ready to donate two small wall cabinets, which ended up being a perfect fit on top of the ladder rack of the flatbed and provided great storage. We also realized that to keep out any rain from a summer shower, which can happen in the Sierras, we needed some waterproof canvas. With some canvas and two seams, I was able to fashion a more robust cover for our Rolling Yurt.
Now we were ready for a two-night adventure on our own. First, we waited for the weather forecast to call for a round of excessively hot days, found a beautifully maintained campground at our desired lake, and found it easy to make reservations a week ahead if you tent camp for just one or two days. We were set.
We also added a small coffeemaker, electric griddle, market lights, and LED puck lights. This excursion was almost a complete success, failing only to make a fresh cup of coffee on the second morning due to the lack of juice from the solar generator. We need to add a longer cord for the solar panels so they can move to face the sun throughout the day!
We love our Rolling Yurt and get plenty of comments and compliments on it. It is clean and convenient and… IT WORKS!
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