T@B covered with winter cover to protect from weather
The T@B in her winter jacket waiting to come out

There is always that moment at the end of the winter when you are ready to be camping again, but you are not quite sure the weather is ready to let you. You are looking for that perfect weekend that has decent weather, is warm enough and where it isn’t so likely that you’ll see more snow or freezing nights. You want some time to set everything up and get all the gear unpacked and ready before that first big shake-out trip for the season. It was one thing to take a chance on the timing of this when we were just taking the battery out of storage and putting in the gear with the Shadow, but now with the T@B and needing to de-winterize, this year has brought a whole other set of challenges to getting the camping season off to a good start. Since this is our first spring and de-winterize, we decided to be a little extra cautious about the timing.

A few weeks ago in early April it finally seemed like the weather was warm enough and first we took the winter cover off the T@B. Checking around inside and out, it didn’t seem like we’d had critters or any problems over the winter. There were a few dead bugs around the sink and a few cobwebs. We blocked out some weekend time to get everything together and de-winterize.

Picture of the open Nautilus hatch with water line plugged in and sewer hose plugged in below. Outdoor shower cabinet is also open.
Draining the antifreeze, filling the tanks and testing all the water systems

The process for de-winterizing is a careful dance of steps to get all the antifreeze out of the lines and then to get water running through them again and then sanitize everything. You want to make sure that the weather isn’t going to drop below freezing and stay there for any length of time before you commit to it. Once that is sorted, you need to drain the antifreeze and both wash out and then sanitize the lines and tanks. Let’s just say it was tricky and not without a fair amount of frustration as we sorted things through. I suspect like anything that the first time is the hardest–just to get through all the unknown parts of it. Once the de-winterizing is done and the freshwater tank is refilled, it’s time to test everything and make sure it works. Heat? Hot water? Pump? Solar? Charging generally? Gas and stove are ok?

Shih Tzu dog Ketu is in the camper looking out of the open door
Ketu is ready to get camping season started!

Then there is the work of getting out all of the gear that was stored and checking it, making sure it is clean and ready to go and restocking the camper bit by bit until you have everything you’ll likely need for a season of camping back at the ready. We did this in segments over the course of a couple of weeks before our first seasonal shake-out. This is also a good time to take stock and see if there is any gear that is in need of replacing and finding suitable homes for the new camping gear you may have gotten over the winter. Where should that new toast cooker go? What happened to the camp pour-over coffee things?

Pour-over coffee frames inside a camp kettle
The missing coffee pour-over frames were in the kettle all winter

A word to the wise. If something went missing over the no camping season, take care with what you do next. We couldn’t find our collapsible coffee pour-over frames when we went to repack the camper. All the coffee kit gear was together, except those. Did we take them out for some pour-over testing? Did we take them on a road trip since the last camping? What happened to them? Did they get tossed in with something else? After taking apart our camping gear and our home kitchen, we were at a loss. And rather than piece together our first camp trip, we ordered replacements. On our shake-out trip, we went to fill the kettle before heading to bed so we’d be ready to make the coffee in the morning. And we discovered that our little pour-over frames had spent the winter in the kettle, handily stacked within all the pots and pans. Where we never looked. So now we’re always ready to make coffee for 4, even though it’s rare that we are more than 2 campers. Oh well. Live and learn!