As much as we loved our house at 824 Hollow Mountain Road, we needed to sell it. It was convenient to the Hillsburn store, but our lives had moved west toward Digby. And with the ever-rising price of gas, we didn’t want to travel any more than we had to.
After decluttering the house (this took several trips: moving business-related items to Smiths Cove, more personal and infrequently used possessions to the Purdy Road property) , we put it on the market.
I wanted to move the pets out of the house, feeling this would make the property more attractive to buyers. So we transported the whole group to Smiths Cove – five cats, three dogs, four rabbits along with cockatiels, lovebirds and budgies. We were at Smiths Cove more than we were at Hollow Mountain so they would receive more attention.
Ian suggested we buy a camper so that we could spend some of our nights in Smiths Cove rather than commuting to Delaps Cove every night. At first, I wasn’t sure about this idea. Could a person really camp in the winter, especially in Canada? As usual I turned to the Internet for guidance and discovered that a few hardy people did and also that some campers were better winterized than others.
We went camper-hunting on Kijiji. Even though it was late in the season, there were a few available in our price range (less than $4,000). We wanted the longest one possible for the price as we would be squeezing our cats and dogs in with us.
The first one we looked at was an older 34-foot Prowler Regal park model that was for sale in the Fundy Spray Campground right across from us. It was lovely. It had obviously been an expensive “higher-end” model in its day. But I knew not to jump on the first one. It was important to shop around.
We looked at a few more, but we decided that the Prowler was in the best condition. It would also be relatively easy to move across the street. Some of these campers that had been off the road for 20 years did have issues, such as soft tires.
At the same time, we also bought a small camper for our dogs. We installed the dog pen around it, and Rufus and Alex had their new home. (Teddy, going on 15 years old, found it too difficult to climb up inside this camper, so we set him up in a different location.) We figured this would be more comfortable for the dogs than a dog house or a shed.
The Prowler has a propane furnace, but we didn’t bother buying propane and hooking it up. We decided to take the easier route and use electric heaters. We own an infrared heater that is fairly energy efficient.
Was it cold in the camper overnight? Some nights, especially if the mercury dipped below -15 celsius. But we survived. I honestly didn’t mind the cold, and I tend to be easily chilled. That’s why I wear lots of layers! The floor was cold (sometimes the pet’s water froze, or our shoes froze to the floor! ), but we didn’t “skirt” it as many do who plan to live in their camper over the winter.
This winter, as one of the coldest in many years, was a good test of the viability of winter-camping, at least in Nova Scotia. In some parts of Canada, such as the prairies, winter-camping may not be feasible, at least not overnight on some of those bitterly cold nights that they experienced the past few months.
We didn’t try to hook up the plumbing. We were able to use the private bathroom in the store building. So the camper became our alternative sleeping spot if we did not want to spend the time and gas to make the trip to Hollow Mountain Road.
The camper definitely exceeded my expectations as a comfortable winter-living accommodation. It was an eye-opener to me that a camper could actually serve as a year-round home, even for a relatively large combined group of people and critters!