Merry Christmas! I hope you managed to get off the naughty list; doesn't look like Santa gave you much time to work on that, though!
I was one of those wives that wasn't keen on camping. I am not a 'happy camper' when I have to sleep in a tent on the ground. Also, I've found that my bladder capacity is inversely proportional to the distance to the campground toilet facilities + the weather conditions.
In 2007, some good friends of ours informed us in late April that they had reserved a campsite for us on the Oregon Coast for Memorial Day weekend. They are avid campers and have had travel trailers for many years. They told us we could either borrow their tent and camping gear, or find a used trailer - but we WERE going to go camping with them! Weather forecast? Rainy and cold.
Time to look for a trailer!
We were very lucky, and fell into a great deal with our Argosy - under $3000. It needed curtains, cushions, upholstery and a few other things, but was in pretty good shape otherwise. We probably spent at least another $1200 getting it ready to camp - Sean did all the sewing of the curtains & upholstery - and were ready to go for Memorial Day!
I had more fun than I ever expected, and so did our son, who was 14 at the time. We went camping quite a few times that first year, and have gone more often each year since then. I love having my own bathroom - even the tiny one in an Argosy! I can shower whenever I want to, and if I have to get up in the middle of the night, my destination is only a few steps away. Because of this, I prefer camping where we have full hookups, but we have a blue boy waste tote that we use for the grey water if we don't have hookups.
It has been really nice to be able to spend time with our son camping in the Argosy. We've gotten to visit so many great places, and created wonderful memories. He slept in the trailer with us on a few trips, but decided he would rather have his own space, so he sleeps in his own tent. He has it set up with a cot, end table, electric lantern, etc, and loves it. I'm not sure when he'll get to go camping with us again, though; he's 19 now, and about to graduate from the Marine Corps boot camp!
I can't tell you how relaxing it is to be parked in a beautiful setting, with my family nearby, and be on vacation! I can feel my blood pressure drop just by going out into the trailer when it's sitting in my driveway.
Sean and I have lots of fun together coming up with new things to do with the Argosy: replace the shower curtain rod, kitchen faucet, speakers, toilet, stereo, install rock guards, a TV & DVD player (for those rainy Oregon nights), and so on. Our budget now has a line item for 'trailer stuff'!
Cooking is never a problem. We set up a table next to the trailer, and put our grill on it. Most meals are cooked outside, no matter what the weather is like. We can put the awning up for shade or rain protection if needed. I will advise against cooking bacon inside the trailer; everything - including your clothes - will smell like bacon grease for the rest of the trip!
There are some great tips on the Forum for preparing food before you go camping. My favorite one is to buy meat for the grill, pack enough for one meal in a freezer bag, pour some marinade in (your own homemade marinade, or your favorite store bought BBQ sauce, for example), and freeze. It'll thaw quite well in the fridge while you're driving to your destination, and it will be perfectly seasoned when it's time to grill! Also, wrap veggies in foil, add a dash of seasoning and a couple of teaspoons of water or lemon juice, and pop on the grill to steam. You can also put them in a steam basket before wrapping with foil if you're concerned about the grill being too hot.
All in all, I think buying the Argosy was one of the best things we've ever done. And it's true - if you bring your wife to a rally, she'll be hooked! We started camping with another set of friends a couple of years ago. They bought an old hard sided pop up trailer and used it for two years. They came to a rally we went to, and that was it. Last year they bought a 1979 Ambassador! Theirs was in very good shape, just needed some water line and sewer repair. They camped in it a few times before they fixed those issues & just used the campground facilities. Now we make a pretty picture with the trailers parked next to each other.
Good luck with your quest; I hope you're going to be ready to camp next spring in your own Airstream!