Monday, July 29, 2013

Teardrops as Guest Rentals

In the past we've used my teardrop trailer as a place for out-of-town relatives to spend the night. It's usually the young kids or teenagers who want to sleep in the trailer since they don't have to get up in the middle of the night as much as the adults. Recently, I've put our small backyard cottage, the Cottage at Quail Haven, on Airbnb. It's been a popular destination for visitors to our area or people going to or from San Francisco.


The Sunflower came in handy one night when a guest of the cottage was joined by both her daughter and her friend. The guest and her daughter were going to sleep in the cottage and her friend was just tagging along and was planning to sleep in her car. I told her she didn't have to do that and offered up the teardrop as an alternative. She was thrilled and offered me an extra $20 to use it as her bed for the night. The next day, she told me she slept like a baby.

If you have a teardrop trailer, it could become a possible guest rental. Some teardrop owners will rent out their teardrop trailers to people on local camping trips, but because the teardrop stays on your property, you don't have to worry about it being towed. The additional income could help to pay for insurance, new tires or teardrop improvements.

Learn more about Airbnb and how they are changing the travel business.

Photo by Little Vintage Trailer

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Prepping for Yellowstone

We are leaving on our big teardrop camping trip to Yellowstone in just over a week. Just before a big trip, I will do a thorough search of the teardrop trailer to make sure we have everything on hand before we hit the road. During the process, I'll keep a piece of paper handy for writing down things we need to get or do.  Some of these list items are not what you would normally expect, but turn out to be good teardropping tips.



So far, the list reads like this:

1. Cut two flat pieces of wood to fit in by the propane tank

I'm looking around for some flat wood that we can use to prop up the tires if we happen to be parked on uneven ground. These are especially helpful when leveling the teardrop trailer for sleeping. I want them to tuck nicely away in the galley.

2. Don't forget the extra keys!

We pack two sets of teardrop keys and two sets of car keys. One is always in my pocket or backpack and the other is stashed in the center console of the car. On the teardrop keychain is the door key, the galley key, the key to the hitch lock and the key to our bear-proof ice chest lock.

3. Make room for bedding

Since we are camping with some friends who will be flying into Jackson and sleeping in a tent, we have to bring along their bedding. I am trying to get it all to fit in the storage space underneath the bed. This also includes their pillows and towels.

4. Fill up the garbage bag bag

We have a small nylon bag that holds plastic grocery bags that we hang under our camp table and use for garbage. We have a tendency to forget all about this handy little bag carrier and find ourselves "borrowing" plastic bags from the local grocery store.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Featured Teardrop: Stargazers Teardrop Trailer

While looking at photos of my Sunflower, you might see another teardrop right next to her at a campsite. My teardrop's little friend is the Stargazers teardrop trailer, which is owned by our neighbors and good friends, Brett and Nancy. Brancy, as we call them, had been tent campers for years when a trip to central Nevada was waylaid by a spring snowstorm. They came home tired, cold and ready for something different. So they borrowed my teardrop on their next trip to Great Basin National Park and came back determined to get their own tiny trailer.


Brancy scoured Craigslist for a few months before finding their 5x8 foot home built teardrop trailer from an independent builder in Clovis, California. They were able to snag the trailer for $3,200, just under the $3,500 asking price. The trip back home from Clovis was also interrupted by rain and a snowstorm in the mountains and their new teardrop filled up with water. That didn't deter them. Ever since buying their teardrop, they've been able to make significant changes and updates to the trailer, like waterproofing, sealing and utilizing pop-up shelters.



They decided to get a teardrop trailer not only because of their great experience with mine, but also because they would not have to buy a larger tow vehicle.

"It's easy and more manageable," Nancy said. "Also, it feels like I'm sleeping on a cloud after we've come back from a 10 mile hike."

The Stargazers teardrop is proof of how much fun you can have with a teardrop theme and decorating. Nancy is very artistic and has decorated the teardrop with a celestial theme that includes glow-in-the-dark curtains, sun and moon bedding, wallpaper and cute details like sleeping suns on the windows. They are proud that their teardrop is 100 percent green. They don't have a deep cycle battery, so they only use rechargeable touch lights, head lamps and a small solar charger for other devices.


 Brett said that one of the positives of a teardrop trailer is that it's so quiet inside. He also mentioned that one of the negatives of camping in a teardrop is that you don't have a bathroom.

"Sometimes I'm just too tired to crawl out of the trailer to go pee," he said. "But I've also had trailers in the past with a bathroom and those can also be a pain in the butt."

Nancy added that they have a small bathroom bag with toilet paper, wipes, spray soap and other convenience items they take into campground bathrooms.




Nancy mentioned that one issue they have is organization. The Stargazers trailer has some really large storage cabinets and they are well organized, but she complained that Brett still can't find anything.

"He's always asking me 'Where's this and where's that?'," she laughed.

"You do have to constantly re-organize and re-adjust things," Brett said.


They are both pleased that with a basic home built trailer they can make their own improvements and adjustments and they can change the paint color whenever they want. Their tiny trailer also allows them to really experience the outdoors on their hiking, kayaking, stargazing and meteor shower trips.

"We go camping not just to go camping," Brett said.




Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Teardrop Photo


Gassing up at Chevron near Lakehead, California.

Some people ask me about fuel economy while towing a teardrop trailer and I think it will depend on your vehicle and its own towing capabilities. My Kia Sportage V6 4x4 vehicle gets around 30 miles to the gallon normally, and about 26-28 mpg when towing the Sunflower. In money terms, it cost us about half a tank of gas ($25) to go to our favorite locations about 100-150 miles from our home.

I will be keeping track of how much it costs us in gas to drive the nearly 800 miles up to Yellowstone National Park this August.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Featured Teardrop: The Blonde Coyote's Rattler

I originally wrote about the Blonde Coyote (aka Mary Caperton Morton) and her teardrop, Rattler, on the Tiny House Blog, but I wanted to catch up with her and her teardrop travels around the country. Mary is a freelance writer and professional housesitter who lives full-time out of her 5 by 10 foot teardrop trailer and travels around the country shooting excellent photos to add to her blog.


Mary purchased Rattler for $4,000 from an “octogenarian craftsman” in Nebraska who builds one teardrop trailer a year. The 550 lb. trailer has a full-sized bed with a memory foam mattress and storage space underneath, a fold-up table, two feet of floor space, drawers, cabinets and counter space. Outside, in the back, is a slide out kitchen/galley area with plenty of storage space for pots, pans and food and a propane burner for cooking. The trailer is insulated and has a large skylight above the bed.



She became obsessed with teardrop trailers after seeing her first one at Guadalupe National Park. The owners gave her a tour and she bought her own trailer a month later. On a photo tour post of her blog she writes:

"Before I bought the Teardrop I lived out of my car between housesitting jobs for seven years. Everything I owned, including my two dogs, fit neatly in my 2-door Volkswagon and then the Subaru (aka “The Raven”). So while the Teardrop looks tiny, it was a major space upgrade for me! Still, I’m ruthless about getting rid of anything and everything extra and I save tons of money by not buying things I don’t need. When you live in less than 50 square feet, it’s kind of amazing to walk through a big box store and realize that whole sections of consumer culture no longer apply to your life."

I don’t have a lot of stuff in the Teardrop, but everything I do have is meaningful to me." Every postcard on the wall reminds me of something, some one or some place. My main impetus for getting the Teardrop was to have a space of my own, without having to settle down. Every morning I open my eyes to this rolling work of art and fall a little more in love with life on the road."







Monday, July 15, 2013

Five Favorite Dutch Oven Recipes

Teardrop camping and Dutch oven cooking go together like peanut butter and jelly. I had never cooked with a Dutch oven before getting a teardrop and seeing the pros at the various gatherings tackle the heavy cast iron pots. The cooking method was clinched for me while on a trip to Zion National Park. A nice couple with a vintage canned ham trailer were in the process of making a divine beef stew over the fire and as I watched them top the stew with homemade biscuits, I was hooked.


I'm still a Dutch oven novice and have not done any cooking using briquettes. When we go camping with our other teardrop friends, we only use coals from the fire to keep from having to bring all the briquette cooking accoutrements. We make the process easier and safer by placing both the coals and the Dutch oven in a galvanized steel pan. Other Dutch oven necessities are aluminum foil, a shovel for digging out coals, a pair of welding gloves to lift up hot, heavy pots and of course, a lid lifter.

While we do some experimenting with Dutch oven cooking, we do tend to gravitate toward the same couple of recipes. These are my five personal favorites:


Dutch Oven Quiche

This is a super simple dish for both breakfast and dinner. You will need a Dutch oven large enough to fit your pie crust, but you can just leave it in its original tin. You can also make the quiche in aluminum foil right in the oven (see photo above). I got this recipe from the Texas Park & Wildlife video on Dutch oven cooking.

Dutch Oven Pizza

This is my all-time favorite teardrop dinner. I got the recipe from fellow teardroppers, Dean and Joannie's YouTube channel, Outdoor Cast Iron Cooking. They have a ton of great recipes and videos on how to make some really tasty cast iron dishes. We use their pizza recipe over and over again. The parchment paper and corn meal are essential.

Dutch Oven Lasagna

This is another Dean and Joannie recipe that takes a little longer to make, but is so tasty and filling, especially when you are camping in the cold. It creates a lot of liquid, so I tend to use less cheese and drain out the meat.

Mountain Man

Another recipe by Outdoor Cast Iron Cook is Dean's Mountain Man breakfast, which I've had with him on the California coast and it was the perfect breakfast for a chilly, foggy morning. We've done several variations of this recipe with different meats and veggies.

Dutch Oven Chuck Wagon Casserole

Can you tell I lean toward classic Western cowboy dishes? The Chuck Wagon Casserole with corn, chilis and cornbread is the quintessential Dutch oven dish and is quick to make. I got the recipe from Dutch Oven Dude. In fact, any kind of casserole does well in a Dutch oven. Experiment.


We've learned a few things while teardropping and Dutch oven cooking: this type of cooking takes longer than you think it will, especially when it's cold out, so be sure to have some appetizers while waiting. Also, when you start smelling your dish, it's ready. Remove it from the coals and check it to make sure it doesn't get burned.

There's a learning curve that comes with Dutch oven cooking, and it takes some practice with different recipes to get the hang of it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Featured Teardrop: Clever Camper

One of my favorite teardrop trailer videos on YouTube is the one created by Clever Camper in the UK. They actually don't sell their teardrops, but rent them out to people who want an alternative to a tent. The Clever Camper has a four foot long sleeping area and comes with bedding, clothes storage, a full galley with a sink, ice block fridge and a cool side shelter for the single door.


The trailer also comes with a battery as well as electric hook-ups and propane. The video shows the quick setup of the trailer and the making of the quintessential cup of English tea. The trailers rent for between £99 and £179 per night (about $149-$270).




Photos by Clever Camper

Monday, July 8, 2013

Teardrop Trailer vs. Tent Camping

I missed my Friday teardrop photo last week because I was out of town for the 4th of July weekend, not teardropping, but camping in a tent. Every few years, my husband and I will take a kayak camping trip to Lake Tahoe. We pack all our gear into our kayaks and paddle several miles to Emerald Bay where we camp in the local boat-in campground.



The trip was fun, but exhausting, and got me thinking about the difference between tent camping and teardrop camping. I've been asked several times why I don't just camp in a tent all the time, and while I like the relative simplicity of a tent, it can wear you down much quicker than camping in the comfort of a teardrop trailer. My husband and I have a great tent: a Mountain Hardware four-season tent with nifty storage pockets and that is nearly impervious to wind. However, I realized that it is harder for me to enjoy myself while tent camping for several reasons:

Accessibility

It is nice that you can camp nearly anywhere in a tent. I can't tow my teardrop down to a kayak/boat camp or set up in the middle of the woods where there are no roads. This is where a small tent comes in handy...but that's it...it's small. Getting in and out of our backpacking tent is not easy and I do it less than gracefully, usually catching my foot in the bottom flap and nearly falling on my face. It's hard on the back, too.

Dirt

Let's face it, tent camping is dirty. You are lying on the ground and all your gear usually ends up with a fine layer of dust on it. After every tent camping trip, we have to wash down all our gear with a hose when we get home. With the teardrop trailer, you are up off the ground and bedding tends to stay cleaner over a longer period of time. It's also easier to clean your kitchen items while teardrop camping since you can bring along some dishpans (which we could not even think about fitting into our kayaks).


Comfort

We do have a fairly comfortable air mattress in our tent, but it in no way compares with the comfort of the mattress in the teardrop trailer. I get much better sleep in the teardrop and I'm able to enjoy our day hiking or strenuous kayak trips on a full eight hours of sleep. During this particular trip in our tent, my husband and I jockeyed for space on the mattress and ended up fighting with our sleeping bags when the temperature fluctuated. In the teardrop we sleep like babies under the fleece sheets.
 
Ease 

While it's more stressful to tow and park a teardrop trailer than set up a tent, it actually takes much longer for us to set up and break down a tent camp than to set up and break down a teardrop camp. Tent camping requires a lot of stuffing and shoving while the teardrop just requires some minor packing.


In the end, I can only tent camp for about two nights before I'm ready to quit. I really admire people who head out to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail with only a light pack and a small tent. It's something I dream of doing, but only get close enough to doing by watching YouTube videos. What's wonderful about teardrop camping is that after a long day of hiking mountains or kayaking lakes and rivers, you have a comfortable, warm bed to come back to. Also, there is no dehydrated food in sight.



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Atma Travelear in Tiny House Magazine

I met David McCamant and his Atma Travelear at the Dam Gathering of the Tears in northern California and fell in love with his Art Deco teardrop design. For his first build, the trailer is a phenomenal work of art with some details I've not seen in other teardrop trailers. This makes sense since David is a local fine and contemporary artist.



You can read about his trailer and his love of teardrop camping in the latest issue of Tiny House Magazine. The magazine is available in an iPad or PDF version.




Monday, July 1, 2013

Zen and the Art of Teardrop Camping

On my recent interview with TeardropTrailerRadio.com I mentioned that in my everyday life and in my camping life, I tend to be a bit of a minimalist. I personally don't like to have a lot of stuff (that's probably why I camp in a teardrop trailer) and avoid shopping like the plague.


However, I'm not perfect. When I go to various gatherings or campgrounds and see some great cast iron cookware, a brilliant sink design, a new pop-up shelter or another convenience item, I still get that little tickly feeling in my stomach that says "I need that!" I get all caught up in how this item is going to make my teardrop life better and go through the motions of attempting to purchase it. Usually when I'm in the store or online with my finger on the "Buy Now" button, I stop and think: Do I really need this? Don't I already have something that's similar? Where am I going to store it? Damn, we'll have to haul this heavy ass thing all over the place!

Teardropping can be a compromise between the relative simplicity of a tent and the larger commitment of a camper or fifth-wheel. A few items of comfort can mean the difference between a great time and a not so great time. For instance, I can't go camping without a good pillow, my fleece sheets and some good food and beer. Just like anything in life, you have to step back once in a while and scrutinize what you own and if it's benefitting your life in the best way possible.

Photo by vice1/Flickr