Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Interview with Explore More Northwest

Jay and Dana Cadwell are the owners of the teardrop trailer rental company, Explore More Northwest in Spokane, Washington. After a four-month trip through the western U.S. and Canada in their Dutchman T@B, the couple decided to open up their own business renting out two Little Guy teardrops and two T@Bs—including their own. Dana was so nice to give us not only the inside scoop on how they started their business, but also how much they love the teardrop life.

How and why did you become interested in teardrop trailers and T@Bs? 

When Jay and I lived in Spokane, Washington I was working full time and he was in grad school. We wanted to get away on the weekends to go hiking but it always seemed like a hassle to pack up the car with all of our camping gear, so we looked into small travel trailers. We wanted something small enough so we didn’t just disappear into a large RV and miss out the camping experience so a teardrop seemed like a great compromise.

We couldn’t have been happier with our decision to get our T@B trailer. We didn’t realize how much use it was going to get until we spent over 60 nights in it within the first year. Not only did we use it in the summer for camping, but we towed it up to ski resorts and stayed in the parking lots in the winter.

We love the T@B layout because we were able to cook inside, allowing us to travel no matter what kind of weather was thrown at us. We have slept though severe lighting storms, winter blizzards, and torrential down pours. We love that no matter what the weather throws at us, we can still travel and have a comfortable night sleep!

What are some benefits and challenges of teardrops? 

Benefits: Easy to tow, lightweight, and comfortable to sleep in. When we get away in our teardrop it’s not always about the camping experience. Sometimes our main objective is to go mountain biking, skiing or long distance running. These activities require a good night’s sleep so we can be re-charged for the next day of our trip. It is SO nice to get a good night of rest and be able to make dinner in a flash with the easy kitchen access in teardrops.

Challenges: I never had any towing experience before our first teardrop so it was a little intimidating to learn how to hook up and back up a trailer for the first time. I was surprised how quickly I learned and how easy it really was to operate a teardrop.

How did you get started in the rental business? 

Jay and I found ourselves at a juncture in life where he had the option to take some time off from work for a couple of months. We decided to hit the open road and travel out of our 2008 Dutchman T@B for four months. We had no itinerary or plan so we were able to make decisions on a whim and live each day in the moment.  It was incredibly easy to travel this way with the simplicity of our teardrop.

When we finished our trip in our hometown (Kennewick, Washington) we realized we wanted to share this experience with the local community and give them quick access to the outdoors. We are incredibly passionate about being in the outdoors and how it can bring a sense of peace to those that live a stressful life. It’s important to unwind, disconnect and recharge in nature every now and then and we hope that renting out teardrops will grant our customers a quick escape into nature.

Read more about Explore More Northwest and their rental business at Do It Yourself RV

Photos by Explore More Northwest

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day Shakedown Trip

Last weekend we took off in the Sunflower (with our Stargazers friends) for our first summer teardrop getaway. Our shady campsite at Rye Patch Reservoir was only a few hours from our home which makes for a good shakedown trip.

A shakedown trip is an opportunity to get all your camping mistakes out of the way. Having the teardrop trailer tucked away for the winter will make you a little rusty in the camping department—not matter how long you've been camping. During this trip we realized what we are missing, what needs repairing and what supplies we need to stock up on.

The trip was also a nice time to enjoy our teardrops after a long, cold winter. We hiked in flooded canyons and played some late night games. We still sleep like we're dead to the world and have a few new recipes under our belts. We also ran into another teardropper with a simple trailer named the Mini GetAway.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

101 Questions About T@B, T@DA and T@G Camping Trailers

The Dutchman, Little Guy and now nüCamp series of tiny campers are certainly popular, but sometimes difficult to learn much about. Richard Lewis, a former T@B owner and forum moderator has written a book that cover all portions of the campers. 101 Questions About T@B, T@DA and T@G Camping Trailers is selling for less than $5 on Google Play.

The book not only covers the latest T@B and T@G designs, but also the older campers that are no longer being made. Lewis also answers over 100 questions about the trailers including issues with electrical, plumbing, towing, weight and modifications.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cool Tears Magazine, May 2017

The May 2017 version of Cool Tears and Tiny Campers is now available as a digital or print version. This issue has a great article on the top 10 smartphone apps for teardroppers and campers.

In addition, the magazine has an article about an epic 5,000 mile T@G teardrop trip with Elizabeth Vezina and her husband, how a teardrop build saved the life of a veteran, and a unique teardrop with a little extra room.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Teardrop Trailer for Sale: Incubate by Moksha Woodwork Designs

I recently did an interview with San Francisco based woodworker, Moksha Osgood. He builds unique campers, backyard retreats and tiny houses on wheels as well as prototypes of buildings for displaced Bay Area residents.

One of his designs, Incubate, is for sale and the sale of this teardrop-like camper will help fund additional prototypes of Moksha's dwellings for the unhoused. Incubate is 78 square feet, 2,680 lb. and is tall enough to stand up in. The structure is built on a 12 foot long Carson utility trailer and has an interesting, redwood canopy frame that can be disassembled during travel.

Moksha says he was inspired by both teardrop trailers and Japanese design and aesthetics while building Incubate.

The exterior is cover with a mix of salvaged and new redwood and cedar siding as well as 26 gauge galvanized metal sheets. The interior is accessed with Douglas Fir French doors and redwood steps.

The interior has an Atwood two-burner stove, a sink with a gravity fed faucet, four LED lights and a maple wood kitchen counter with maple cabinets. The sofa folds out into a full size bed and there are two storage cabinets behind the sofa. The interior is paneled with Douglas fir.

This one of a kind standy camper is for sale for $19,000.

Photos by Moksha Woodwork Designs

Sunday, April 9, 2017

How do we pack our ice chest?

Teardrop trailers have very little space and this goes double for our ice chests. Some teardrop galleys are lucky to have a little refrigerator and maybe an ice chest for extra food and drinks, but face it, we will never have as much room for food as the bigger trailers.

Our only way to keep food cold while traveling is with our Igloo bear-proof cooler (similar to this guy here) that we lash onto our tongue cargo rack. Over the years, we have gone through numerous ways to pack as much food as possible without having our fresh eggs swimming in melted ice water with random bags of lunch meat.

The best solution we have come up with is to use several storage containers from Walmart to hold the food in separate compartments, while the ice surrounds the containers. This keeps the melting ice from soaking the fresh food. The top container holds fruits, veggies and other items that don't need to be very cold, while the bottom container holds meat, dairy and frozen items that tend to keep the cold items colder. The surrounding ice can hold more breakable items like beer or soda bottles.

Since plastic container products and sizes are always changing, the best way to accomplish a similar setup is to bring your ice chest to the store and try to fit several containers into it. We were able to find a set of containers with handles that nested into each other. When we want to do some cooking, we will just pull out the container and carry it to the stove and our picnic table.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March Cool Tears and Tiny Campers Magazine

The latest issue of Cool Tears and Tiny Campers is now available online and in print. This issue discusses the split of Little Guy Worldwide and Pleasant Valley Teardrops (the original maker of the Sunflower), Matt Gideon's modified T@G camper, and a teardrop trip down Route 66.

Cool Tears now has a blog and a shop with fun t-shirts and bumper stickers. In addition, if you are interested in keeping up with the teardrop world on your phone, check out the Teardrop Nation app for both Apple and Android devices

Friday, March 24, 2017

Excellent Hitching Tips from Sean and Kristy

My Airstream friends from the Long Long Honeymoon have a great video up about their six best hitching tips. These tips focus on their 25 foot Airstream Classic travel trailer, but their tips can benefit anyone who tows a camper. While most teardrop trailers under 1,500 lb. will not have brakes and won't need anti-sway bars, any way that you can be safer on the road will be appreciated.

The best thing about the video is hot and sexy intro.

Here are a few of my own tips for hitching up your teardrop trailer.

1. Stay focused

When hitching up your camper, pay close attention to what you are doing. Don't get distracted by partners, children, pets, neighbors, your phone or another task. Focus on getting the hitch coupler fully around the hitch ball and locked down. Make sure your chains are crossed and completely hooked and locked onto the hitch receiver. Double check your wiring connections, lights and signals.

2. Watch your weight

Because most teardrop trailers are on a single axle, any weight that is put too far towards the back can make the trailer fall backwards or tilt dangerously toward the rear. In addition, too much weight towards the front can make it more difficult to hitch up correctly. In fact, we will load our heaviest item (our ice chest) onto the front cargo rack after we are safely hitched up.

3. Double, triple and continuously check your connections

When you are towing, being a little OCD is a benefit. Every time we stop at a gas station, restaurant or campground, we check our electrical connections, the hitch ball and the chains. Sometimes we will each do our own check in case someone misses something. If you are a first time teardropper, having a written checklist with you is also very helpful.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Featured Teardrop: Tiny Camper Company

There are not many teardrop trailer builders who go from hobbyist to philanthropist in just a few years. Joe Tyquiengco of Tiny Camper Company went from building teardrop trailers for himself and a few clients to providing several campers a year to homeless U.S. veterans. The company has also raffled off their trailers to raise money for sick children.

The Tiny Camper Company, based in Florida, is a family-run business that builds several different types and sizes of teardrop trailer. The trailers veer toward the styles of the 1930s to 1960's with retro details and classic lines.

Currently the company has six teardrop designs, including the Canned Spam standy trailer which is tall enough for someone just under six feet. Each trailer can include options and upgrades like AC and heat, front cargo or roof racks, TVs, hanging cabinets, and painted frames. The campers range from $2,750 to $5,300 without the upgrades.

For a straightforward teardrop trailer with galley, the Simple Sleeper and the Simple Sleeper Basic are built on 4x8 trailer frames and both weigh under 700 lb. They each have a NOCO Marine Electric 110 volt outlet and a back shelf. The Koa Teardrop is a simple design with a galley and two doors on a 4x8 trailer frame. Each of these campers can be upgraded to a 5x8 trailer frame for $750.

If you like nostalgia in your camper, the Retro Vintage Teardrop has a 1930s vibe with vintage Ford fenders and tail lights. The Retro comes standard on a 5x8 trailer frame. The Serro Scotty Replica has white aluminum, a squared off rear galley and only weighs 750 lb.

For issue #51 of the Tiny House Magazine, I interviewed Joe about his new 5x8 Canned Spam standy trailer as well as his Trailers for Troops program. Every year, he and his Trailers for Troops representative and manager, Micah Jones, choose several homeless veterans to receive a pro bono teardrop trailer. Many of these veterans are either living in their cars or on the street and suffer from PTSD-induced illnesses. The teardrops give them a more secure and comfortable way of life.

Photos by Tiny Camper Company

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Sunflower Goes to Death Valley Without her Owner

Sometimes you have to let your teardrop trailer have all the fun. While I was busy working and taking care of my mother, my husband, and our friend Andres, took the Sunflower down to Death Valley for a winter photography trip.

Along the way they stopped at the funky International Car Forest of the Last Church in Goldfield, Nevada for the obligatory shot of a teardrop trailer among junk cars. They also stopped in Rhyolite, a former ghost town that was once owned by Charles Schwab. The town is now home to the Goldwell Open Air Museum and features modern art such as the ghostly "The Last Supper" and the "Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada."

Our intrepid photographers stayed at the Furnace Creek RV Park for a week—a campground that can fill up rather quickly when Death Valley is in the '70s and the rest of California is experiencing rain and snow.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

4 Ways to Save Water While Teardrop Camping

The majority of our teardrop camping time is spent in dry campsites. This means we don't have access to (or want to pay for) hookups like electricity and water. In fact, because our camper is so small, we don't really need to have hookups. Our deep cycle battery takes care of most of our electrical needs, we don't have a toilet or shower to dump, and we are super efficient when it comes to water.

While camping we usually have access to campground faucets, lakes and spring water. However, we can only carry so much with us in our one gallon galley container and our five gallon Aquatainer. Over the years we've found several ways to save water while teardrop camping—especially in desert or high-drought areas.

1. Don't wash dishes

When we have little access to water, we don't actually wash our dishes. Instead we use a spray bottle filled with a little bit of water and Dr. Bronner's soap, spray the dirty dishes and then use a paper towel to wipe them off. This gets off most of the worst offending foods, but very greasy dishes will need to be washed. If we do need to wash dishes, we use just a cup of two of hot water and a soapy sponge to scrub up and then a few cups more of warm or hot water to rinse.

2. Cook foods that don't require water

While camping we don't make too much pasta, rice or other dishes that require water. We tend to grill meat or vegetables on the stove or over the fire, and make dishes that use very little water like couscous or instant mashed potatoes. We also use our grill multiple times without having to clean it.

3. One pot showers

I've already done a post on my minimalist camp shower. We used to set up elaborate showers with solar shower bags, but I've come to the conclusion that simple is better. I take a small metal cooking pot and fill it with about four cups of water, heat it until warm on the stove, and take it and another cup into the camp shower. I've found out that it takes about 1.5 cups of water to get wet and soap up and another 2-3 cups to wash off the soap and shampoo.

4. Drink beer

Drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated. After that, drink beer. :-)

Monday, February 20, 2017

January and February Cool Tears and Tiny Trailers

I've been taking a little time off from the Tiny Yellow Teardrop blog, so I'm a bit behind on getting out some new information. Have you seen the January and February issues of Cool Tears and Tiny Campers? These two issues feature some great restorations and new builders, including Richard Hawkins' Trail Hawk Campers.

Are you as tired of this winter as I am? Check out how to camp in the winter (in Iowa) with Gary Roys and his wife Elaine in the February issue of Cool Tears. In fact, the Sunflower is getting dusted off this week for an adventurous trip to Yosemite National Park in the middle of one of the biggest winters in California history. We'll just have to see what happens.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day VW Thing and Teardrop Trailer

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day wanted to inspire makers of all things to continue creating—no matter how imperfect their creation was. Last fall, the cleaning product company took to the streets (starting in the Chicago Randolph Street Market) with the world's first auto pop-up workshop.

The workshop is a transforming Volkswagen Type 181 "Thing" towing a shiny teardrop trailer. The Thing transforms into a public maker space where visitors can throw their own pots or design their own textiles. Of course, the teardrop has a sink with Mrs. Meyers soaps where makers can wash their messy hands.

To learn more about the Mrs. Meyers #MakeAndTell campaign, visit their website.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Riverside RV White Water Retro Teardrop & Standy

Riverside RV in Indiana is focused on designing and building lightweight teardrops and larger trailers with a distinctly retro design. Most likely you are interested in teardrop trailers, but Riverside RV also builds several standy campers under their White Water Retro line that I think would interest someone who is on the lookout for something with an interior kitchen.

The smallest of the Riverside RV Retro campers is the Jr. 509. This classic teardrop trailer is just over 13 feet long and comes with a rear galley, storage compartment and an optional 17 gallon water tank. The Jr. is still being developed, but take a look at their other lightweight options.

The 155XL is just a hair under 15 feet long with a generous height of 8.5 feet. Its dry weight is 1,937 lb. and the interior contains a full bed, dinette, kitchen, refrigerator and a tiny wet bath. It has an 11 gallon fresh water tank, 18 gallon grey water tank and a 5 gallon black water tank.

For something a bit larger, the 166 is nearly 16 feet long and 2,180 lb. It has the same interior features in a larger space and a retro style in the checkerboard floor, wood cabinets and the bright exterior colors that range from red to aqua.

Photos by Riverside RV