Saturday, October 18, 2008

Meet the LMIC

Let me take you on a little tour of the LMIC, which is a "Shadow Cruiser Fun Finder" T-139, manufactured in 2003. Overall, the actual "box" enclosing the LMIC is only 11 feet, 6 inches long, and a little over 7 feet wide; including the tongue, the whole thing is about 14 feet, 4 inches long, and it weighs a little over 2000 pounds fully loaded:

The interior is very cozy; yet it is plenty big enough for two very friendly adults, one of whom is very small. There is 6' 3" of headroom, as long as you don't stand under the air-conditioning unit. Here is a view of the "dining room":

This is also the living room: in the evening, after dinner, we move those large pillows to the end of the couch and lean back against them -- very comfortable. We thought that we'd spend a lot of time outdoors in the evening, but we tend to camp in cold high-altitude places. Even with a campfire, it's usually too cold to sit outside, so we hang out in our living room, snacking and drinking tea (or, in my case, a little bourbon).

Then, at bedtime, the coffee table (the dining room table) drops down and becomes the foundation for the bed, so this is our bedroom, also. The seat cushions then slide around and become the mattress. As you can see, above the table we have suspended a "cargo net" that holds our pillows, our blankets, and our memory foam pad (which goes over the mattress, obviously). We could store all of that stuff beneath one of the seats, but it's a lot easier if we don't have to dig around under the seats. The cargo netting is in lieu of a bunk bed, which we removed. The bed (a full-size queen) is astonishingly comfortable; because we tend to camp in cold, dark, quiet places, we usually sleep much better in the LMIC then we do at home. (Probably, that's also because we hike or bike for several hours every day and are completely exhausted.) We also put blackout curtains over the windows at night, so that we are not awakened by the sunrise.

On the left side of the cabin is the stove and the sink. Under one of the seats, we've got a 30 gallon freshwater tank, which we sometimes augment with extra water canisters when we are "boondocking" in remote locations where there is no fresh water available. (We generally use about 10 gallons per day, and sometimes less.) The sink has hot and cold running water; we have a 6 gallon hot water heater that miraculously provides us with plenty of hot water. Our typical dinner consists of some sort of barbecued food that we have brought from home, reheated in foil on the stove, together with a fresh greens salad, bread, and red wine. It's not exactly "roughing it":

Actually, having a kitchen was really the primary feature that got us into camping in the first place. Staying in motels isn't so bad (although they are often far from the trailheads and the wilderness), but eating in restaurants is a real drag -- it's time-consuming, high-calorie, and expensive. You may have noticed the microwave in the picture. Ordinarily, we use it when staying at an RV park (where we have electrical hookups), but we can use it without "shore power" when we bring our generator, a very quiet Honda 2000 watt unit. (We try not to use the generator unless absolutely necessary.)

The bathroom (especially the shower) is a bit of a challenge; there is only about 5 feet, 10 inches of headroom, and I am 6' 3". The whole thing is less than 2 feet wide and less than 3 feet long, but I have learned to cope. We take "Navy" showers in order to conserve water (i.e., get wet, turn off the water, and rinse off). Even though this arrangement sounds rather Spartan, it is actually (and paradoxically) very luxurious: in the middle of a howling wilderness, miles from any other people, we get to take a hot shower at the end of every day:

We've also discovered that this tiny trailer has a tremendous amount of storage, as you can see from the cabinets that line the back end of the trailer. I have subdivided the cabinets with thin plywood shelving, to make it easier to organize our stuff. It is really a pleasure to pack the shelving at the start of each trip, knowing that we will never have to paw through our chaotic suitcases. Also in this picture, you can see the back door (which is the only door), as well as the refrigerator on the left-hand side of the picture (which is the right hand side of the trailer):

The fridge is a miracle; we can hold almost a week's supplies in it, and it has a freezer. The whole thing runs off of electricity or propane and uses very little propane. You cannot imagine what a pleasure it is to have real ice cubes in a gin and tonic, while camped 20 miles away from the nearest paved road:

This is the front end of the trailer, with our "living room window" closed. If you look closely, you can see that we have two batteries mounted on the tongue of the trailer. These are "group 27" marine deep cycle batteries, each with a capacity of over 100 amp hours. That means that we can go for four or five days, with lights and heat and everything, on one battery. When it gets a little low, we just switch to the other battery. We also have a 4 gallon propane tank, which can run the heater, the refrigerator, the stove, and the water heater for at least a couple of weeks:

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