Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Grand Canyon and Desert Southwest Teardrop Trip

A few weeks ago we were finally able to shake the snow off the Sunflower and head into the Southwest for some desert camping, whitewater rafting, and a stunning hike out of the Grand Canyon.



Our primary goal on this particular trip was a motorized river rafting trip down the Colorado River through the upper portion of the Grand Canyon. For certain this is an item on many bucket lists, so were were so excited to finally do it. We booked a four-day trip with Hatch River Expeditions out of Marble Canyon, Arizona with a hike out of the canyon on the infamous Bright Angel trail up to the South Rim of the canyon.





Our trip began with a drive down the Extraterrestrial Highway and a few nights in Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas. The oldest and largest state park in Nevada is a gem. Full of red sandstone, petroglyphs, great hiking and storm skies, this place is now one of my favorite places to camp. The teardrop attracted a lot of attention from the primarily European RVers traveling through the American Southwest.





When we arrived in northern Arizona (through a snowstorm near the North Rim), we were able to park the teardrop and our vehicle near the river raft headquarters and then we started on our adventure. The trip consisted of two large rafts, three guides, about 20 passengers, camping on riverside beaches, delicious food, and freezing cold rapids. It was a blast and recommended for anyone who loves the the outdoors and doesn't mind roughing it a bit.







The hike out of the Grand Canyon is not for beginners. We were happy we had already backpacked Mount Whitney because the Bright Angel Trail is hot and a lot tougher than we thought it would be. While the hike was just over eight miles and very beautiful, the steep terrain and log steps made the relatively short hike take a long time. We started at 5:30 in the morning and got to the top at around 1:00 pm. I drank over six liters of water—incredible since the temperature never got over 70 degrees.





On our trip back home we stopped at another bucket list location: Cathedral Gorge State Park. This odd and haunting place in Nevada near the Utah border has eerie formations created from erosion eating away at bentonite clay pillars. Several of these formations create narrow caves that you can explore. The farther you go in, the cooler it gets since the desert sun can't penetrate the interior.






Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sunflower makes an appearance in the Spokesman-Review

When I opened up our local paper this morning, my bright yellow teardrop trailer was staring back at me. It turns out that a stock photo my husband took of us camping in the Desatoya mountains of Nevada was used as the main photo in an article on adventure camping. A nice surprise to go with my coffee.


The article was originally posted in the Statesman-Review of Spokane, Wash. and has been picked up by other AP newspapers, including the Reno Gazette-Journal. The article discusses the popularity of RV growth among younger people and their desires for more adventurous camping. A teardrop is great for that, kids!



You can read the entire article here:

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Little Trip to Little Guy Trailers



I recently returned from San Diego, Calif. where I visited Little Guy Trailers. This company focuses on campers and trailers less than 2,800 lb. and has their own camper design—the MeerKat. The company has a wide range of tiny campers and trailers to choose from, all in one place. They include the nüCamp RV T@B and T@G, Little Guy teardrop trailers like the MyPod and the Silver Shadow, Serro Scotty trailers, and the new Ascape by Aliner. Little Guy Trailers also has the beautiful T@B 400.



What's so great about this company is that you can get a better idea about which tiny camper works for you. Sometimes photos and videos don't do the space or amenities any justice and you need to visit each trailer individually and compare. The staff are more than happy to offer you tours of each type of trailer and give you the pros and cons of each.


Little Guy Trailer's own MeerKat could be a nice alternative to a teardrop trailer. The 900 lb. camper has a popup canvas roof, dinette that converts into a bed, cabinets and a basic kitchen. The kitchen is meant to be more for camping than RVing and features a one-burner propane stove and a sink with a pump that works with any container you want to use.

Learn more about Little Guy Trailers on their website or in my article for Tiny House Magazine. Watch my video to see a quick tour of the company.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers

Jonathan Sechrist of Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers in North Carolina has been building teardrop campers since 2010. What started out as a fun project for a Craigslist sale quickly turned into a full-time family-run business.


Rustic Trail has several teardrop models—including a standy model with a tiny inside kitchen. The original 900 lb. Papa Bear teardrop comes in a base and standard model, the Grizzly Bear is larger with also with a base and standard model, and the Polar Bear is a 1,365 lb. lightweight standy. They are each built on a heavy duty metal frame with 14 inch aluminum wheels. The base models of each camper are completely finished outside but don’t include cabinets, beds or dinettes inside. The standard models do include solid birch cabinets, elevated beds and folding mattresses and lots of storage. The teardrops range from $4,700 to $7,875 and come in a variety of exterior and interior colors.



Rustic Trail also has affordable add-on features including an outside sink ($75), spare tire ($150), Thetford portable toilet ($175) and a front AC unit ($400).

Jonathan was kind to take some time out of his day to answer a few questions about Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers.



What are some unique aspects of your teardrop designs?

We do not offer a rear galley. Instead we offer a walk in camper (Polar Bear) with a bench and settee that transforms into a queen size bed. We also include cabinets and lots of storage.


What do your customers look for in a teardrop trailer? What basic features or add on features are requested the most?

Affordability, quality and accessibility. Our most asked for added feature is the AC and the front rack.




How did you come up with the Polar Bear design? What’s the reaction to the standy design?

The Polar Bear was a design for those that want to stand up. We have several customers that are well over six feet tall and several with back issues that find this camper exactly what they need. We have taken comments and ideas from our customers and introduced them to our line. Most people are surprised at the room the Polar Bear gives and it being so lightweight as well.



Do you camp in a teardrop? If so, where do you like to go?

We do camp. We have tried all three campers and love them all. Our favorite place to camp is the Outer Banks of North Carolina near Buxton. Being so busy we have not had the opportunity to camp very much. Our entire family works at RTTC. They have learned so much that we feel confident in letting them handle the shop. Our hopes for 2018 is to take the camper out and advertise a little more.



Someone is coming to Pilot Mountain, North Carolina to go camping. Where should they go?

Anyone wanting to camp in our area has several state parks and private owned campgrounds to choose from. About 20 miles north you have the Blue Ridge Parkway which is our favorite. The parkway offers many state parks.


Learn more about Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers from the Facebook owners group.

Photos by Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers



Monday, November 6, 2017

Will a thermal cooker work with a teardrop trailer?

A few weeks ago I became very interested in thermal cookers as an efficient, non-electric way to cook food while camping. Video bloggers, Phil and Vanessa live full time out of their Honda Element and use their Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker to make meals on the road without having to plug anything into a socket.



The way a thermal cooker works is by using thermal mass to slowly cook food that has already been brought to a boil. A thermal cooker is essential two pots: one is a thick bottom pot that holds the food and is placed on the fuel source such as a camp stove. The food is brought to a boil and then placed into the second pot, essentially a large Thermos. The food continues to cook for a few hours, providing a hot meal without having to cook something on the spot.


Normally, when we are teardrop camping or on the road our lunches are cold. We have sandwiches, dips, crackers, tuna, etc. I thought a thermal cooker might be a great way to enjoy a warm meal while in transit or while at the campground. We could start it in the morning and within 3-4 hours we could have lunch. Or we could start a dish in the afternoon and have a quick dinner. This could be beneficial if we are camping later in the year when it gets dark earlier or we don't want to cook outside.


Last weekend, I tested a thermal cooker by Cook's Essentials. This was the smallest thermal cooker I could find and one I thought would fit in the teardrop trailer easily. I tested it in my home kitchen with a vegetable curry similar to Phil and Vanessa's road-worthy recipe. In the top pot provided with the Cook's Essentials system, I placed some rice and beans we already had on hand.


I brought the vegetables (sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic), red curry paste, coconut milk and some Bragg's Liquid Aminos to a boil in the inner pot on the stove. I placed the pot into the thermal cooker and went for a three hour hike in the hills. When I got back...success! I had a tender, vegetable curry that was still hot. The top pan with the rice was less warm, but all the food was cooked and retained heat for quite a while.


I have yet to test this on the road. I would need to find a space in our trailer where the pot won't topple over and spill the liquid. While in camp, the pot will fit nicely in our galley until we return for a hot meal.

I'm now on the lookout for a few good recipes...

Monday, September 18, 2017

The 5 best condiments to take on a camping trip

When we go out on a teardrop camping trip, we are limited by space. Our food takes up the majority of the galley area, but we do find room to take a few items that add a little more spice to our meals. There are a few handy condiments that always make it along on every trip, and each can do double or triple duty.


Bragg's Liquid Aminos


Rather than soy sauce, we bring a small container of Bragg's Liquid Aminos. The sauce tastes just like soy sauce, but without all the sodium. We use the aminos in everything from marinades to salad dressing to fried rice.


Cholula Hot Sauce


We really can't go on any camping trip without Cholula Hot Sauce. It's not overly hot and has a really nice, piquant flavor that goes great with everything from eggs and burritos to corn on the cob. We prefer the original flavor.


Kirkland Signature Imported Pesto


I put pesto on everything from pasta to sandwiches. It's also great in potato salad, on wraps and even on scrambled eggs. Unfortunately, it does need to be refrigerated, so it's a condiment that we have to keep in the cooler. We bring a small container of the Kirkland Signature Imported Pesto from Costco since the original container is too large.


Kikkoman Seasoned Rice Vinegar


You can tell we like our Asian flavors. We love to bring along a bottle of Kikkoman's Seasoned Rice Vinegar for everything from quick pickles to salad dressing. It's also a good marinade for fish.


Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce



No camping trip is complete without burgers or steak. We like to generously dose our meat with Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce. The sauce is also another great marinade for ribs or skirt steak.






Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Sunflower and the Great American Eclipse

Last week we packed up the Sunflower and headed to central Idaho to experience the Great American Eclipse. After listening to tales of the "apoceclipse" for several months, we were expecting the worst, but ended up having an amazing adventure.


After driving through the massive amounts of traffic...


...lining up for gas...



...fighting for space...


...and fending off hordes of multi-colored zombies...



...we finally made it to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes near Rexburg, Idaho.


The dunes were wild with ATVs and motorcycles, but the majority of the people there were visiting for the eclipse. It was the perfect place to set up camp, explore the area and get ready to film on Monday morning.






Then it happened...one of the most amazing experiences of my life.