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An impromptu test of our custom recreational vehicle

Using a trip to Cabela's as an excuse to sleep in the Magnum for the first time

sunny 40 °F

The very day that we had completed installing the bed in the back of our car, I wanted to test it out. It felt a bit like having a tent, but only your backyard to camp in, and not having the childish luxury of an uncluttered, unbusy schedule. But sleeping in your car, in your driveway, in your neighborhood - that didn't have any appeal to me. It was winter, our street gets a fair amount of regular traffic day and night, although I bet at least one neighbor would get a funny story to tell friends and family that day. So we built our home away from home, and then we occupied ourselves with other things while we waited.

It's April now, and we have just about all the equipment we need for the trip. There were still a few things we needed though, things that we could probably find at an enormous sporting goods destination superstore. About an hour and a half's drive north of us, there is such a store - and they, being sporty and outdoorsy, have a massive parking lot and encourage spending the night in your RV in the driveway. It was last Friday evening when we had the idea to go to Cabela's. That idea formed within the same hour the store was closing for the day.

This turned into an excuse to break from our wait, to see just how well the bed we constructed in the back of our car would work. An added incentive: the forecast for the evening predicted that the temperature would drop to freezing - which is at least as cold as Yellowstone tends to be in May. So we set off a little before midnight, and after an uneventful trip up the northeast extension of the PA turnpike, we arrived at our destination around 1:30am. Snaking our way up the road to this absurdly huge superstore, we followed the signs pointing us toward the RV parking, cut the lights, and clambered into the back. We may have just been parked in an empty lot in Hamburg, PA, but turning around to the bed and seeing the rear windows as a panoramic viewport over where we slept gave me kind of a thrill. This morning-after photo doesn't really do it justice.


At first, it felt like the heat from the ride up would be sufficient, but the cold front that whipped wind at us the whole drive north had the cabin temperature equalizing with the ambient outdoor temperature within an hour or so. We had started off with just the light sheets that we had made the bed with months before, but it wasn't long before we pulled out the sleeping bag that was stowed under our bed frame. It was warm under the covers, but the air on my face and in my nose gave me a chill that reminded me of sleeping overnight in the White Desert in Egypt.

We awoke the next morning as sun poured around where we slept. It didn't look much like our neighbors for the night were up yet. Or, if they were, they had the advantage of much larger quarters to spend their morning in.


Although we woke up just in time for the store to open, we wanted some breakfast first. Whenever I need food in a strange town - particularly breakfast, it's hard to go wrong a local diner. Having that in mind, we made our way to downtown Hamburg and before we could even look for it, we stumbled across the Hamburg Diner. This little eatery was situated in between houses on State street, and was just what I was hoping for. We walked in (and were very clearly the only non-locals there), seated ourselves in a booth, and ordered scrambled eggs, home fries, & toast. We had the younger server, the older lady was busying herself with regular patrons.

Breakfast at the Hamburg Diner

Breakfast at the Hamburg Diner

We paid cash for our meager bill (Sometimes I forget how cheap food is in the further-out bits of Pennsylvania) and backtracked over the Schuylkill river and down the road to Cabela's. What followed was hours of spacing out in front of racks of guns, knives, and ridiculous displays full of mostly stuffed whitetail deer. I really can't express to you how many stuffed deer there are in this place, and I'm not even counting the trophy heads hung on the walls. They also had polar bears, an elephant, a rhino, mountain lions, zebra, wolves, wildebeest, chipunks and squirrels... so many stuffed animals. There's a pond stocked with trout, and an aquarium with a few large tanks full of, well, mostly catfish. There were a lot of other fish too, but catfish dominated the aquarium. Melissa took the opportunity to get familiar with the tilt-shift setting on her Canon G12:




We did a lot of wandering - there was a 'gun library' (read: the used gun gallery), a side-gallery with a bunch of trophy deer heads and an animatronic bow hunter who regales you with tales about deer, a huge clearance section, and the 'bargain cave' - a section of Cabela's that resembles Gabriel Brothers, where all the open-box items are sold off at cut rates. Eventually, hunger tore us away from the consumerist trance, so we grabbed lunch at - where else - Cabela's restaurant. Mel grabbed a Bison Bratwurst, I went with a sandwich called "The Legend" -- a buffalo burger, topped with bbq brisket and cheddar cheese. We both sucked down Pennsylvania Dutch White Birch Beer, and spent another two hours in a daze before we finally picked up some bear spray, knives, and other outdoorsy things. We were on the road by 2:30, and back home by four.


I'm really looking forward to doing that kind of thing over and over again, with different destinations and 'homes', for a whole month. Of course, I'm also glad we've got a few couches to crash on along the way. Oh hey, by the way, this is Matt. With Melissa driving for half of each day, I'll see if I can catch up with her post count before the trip is through. We've got a lot of fun stuff to document our travels (look for the semi-cliche 'time lapse video of the entire trip from the dashboard' video when we're through), and I'm really glad we're able to share that.

Posted by leviathant 21:12 Archived in USA Tagged planning

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