Category Archives: Camping

Get Yer Kicks in Williams, AZ: Gateway to Grand Canyon’s South Rim

Need a ROUTE 66 fix? Need a GRAND CANYON fix? Need a CAMPING fix? Need a FOOD fix or a MUSIC fix? Get Yer Kicks in Williams, AZ, just one hour from the GRAND CANYON.

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66Twice in the past year, we made a stop in Williams, AZ, with our teardrop trailer. We had a great time both times, enough to say that from now on, Williams will remain on our must-do list when heading up from our current home in Phoenix, AZ, to Grand Canyon National Park.

The town of Williams, AZ is a really great place to visit on your way to or from the south entrance of the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed it’s cozy, eclectic, old-town feel . . .

it’s restaurants (Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe) . . .

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66
Excellent ribs at Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe in Williams, AZ

it’s music  (Vincent Z performing at Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe) . . .

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66
Musician Vincent Z (www.vincentzmusic.com) providing excellent entertainment while we dined at Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe in Williams, AZ

it’s plentiful gift shops . . .

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66

and even the shoot-em-up cowboy showdown that erupted in the streets (promptly at scheduled show times throughout the day) . . .

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66 Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66

We were even entertained by our friend, Dave, while we waited for our food to arrive at Cruiser’s Restaurant . . .

One more great thing in Williams, AZ, is you can wander over to the Grand Canyon Railway railroad station and treat yourself to a comfortable, scenic ride to the Grand Canyon by train. They have all kinds of events going on, including the popular Christmastime “Polar Express” ride (something I think I’ll make a point of doing sometime!). Check out the Grand Canyon Railway event page for more info.

We were in Williams, AZ, on the polar opposite of Christmastime . . . on July 4th, 2015, when we met up with other teardrop trailer and vintage trailer owners at a camping meetup at Kaibab Lake Campground. Kaibab Lake Campground is part of the Kaibab National Forest, which has a rather large footprint at the foothills of the Grand Canyon and beyond.

This campground is quite large and can accommodate anything from tents to large RVs. If you check out my previous blog post about the 4th of July trip, the photos of cool vintage and teardrop trailers give you a feel for the site layouts and terrain at the campground.

You can fish and kayak on Lake Kaibab, but in July, the lake was significantly lower than usual due to a dry summer. There is a boat ramp and a fishing pier, although the fishing pier at Kaibab Lake Campground led you out to a grassy area instead of to actual water. Remember to bring your bicycles, so if the fishing scene is a bust, you can at least enjoy tooling around plenty of roadway within the campground itself.

Downtown Williams held a great, old-fashioned 4th of July parade when we were there (plenty of pictures on my last blog post), exactly the kind of thing we were into with our vintage-inspired trailer.

In October 2015, we were back in Williams again when our friends from England came for a visit. This time, we camped an hour away in Grand Canyon National Park for a night, at Mather Campground at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Honestly, we didn’t care for the campsite itself (#147) at Mather Campground.  We were stuck in a parking pad that was really just a slight bulge in the roadway, a pullover really, with a few large rocks around it. Muddy. Muddy. Muddy.

We did, however, score a great view of a family of elk passing through the site across the way from us, and also scored some close-up pictures while hiding behind trees and bushes.

And we even saw this . . .

Grand Canyon Nationa Park, South Rim, Mather Campground

Again in October, we took in the splendor of Grand Canyon National Park, snapping photos, and looking down upon hiking trails in her belly that we planned to tackle some day.

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

Overall, Williams, AZ, is a great place to situate yourself for a week while you check out some of what you’ve seen here and plenty more–like Flagstaff, AZ, (40 minutes away by car) or Sedona, AZ, (1 hour, 20 minutes away by car) both easy day trips from Williams.

All you have to do now is get out and enjoy it all!


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Happy trails, y’all!

 

WILLIAMS_07042015_140Sue J signature

Building Our Teardrop Trailer From Scratch: Learning by Doing

Adventure comes in many forms, but boiled down to its basics, adventure is simply about going where you’ve never gone before or doing what you’ve never done before.

Sometimes it involves having a specific step-by-step plan, and sometimes it’s all about exploring and figuring it out as you go along.

The latter is how we set out to build our own teardrop trailer. Our big plan was to wing it, to step out on a limb with a destination in mind and take a leap of faith that our wings would do what we knew they could do, and that we’d get where we wanted to be.

THE INSPIRATION: The first time we saw a teardrop trailer, we were tent camping in Big Sur on the coast of California. The year was 2012. I had been in California all of a year, having moved there from my birth state of New York. After a lifetime of camping primarily in the Northeast United States, California seemed like a candy store, fully stocked with endless shorelines, expansive inner-mountain ranges, and forests of every height and girth.

Coastline not far from Big Sur
Coastline not far from Big Sur

And Big Sur offered it all– shoreline, mountains, and forests, all wrapped up in one gorgeous package. It was there that we saw it . . . a tiny teardrop trailer. We’d just spent an hour or two setting up a huge tent, a camping kitchen, filling up water jugs from a nearby faucet, unloading all our stuff from the utility trailer (one of several Mark had built through the years),  . . .

and in rolled a tiny camping trailer no bigger than the car that was hauling it. Within 15 minutes, the happy owners of the trailer had set up camp and were kicking back with a glass of wine. We gawked at them, envious and miffed . . . hmmmmm.

Curious, we strolled by and struck up a conversation. The husband and wife cheerfully gave us the teardrop tour (available all day long, it seemed–teardrop trailers naturally double as people magnets!). We ooh’d and aaa’d over the queen-sized bed and the cozy hatch-back kitchenette. The disappointing news for us was that their particular trailer went for roughly $13,000 brand new . . . way too steep a price tag for us. The interesting news was this couple had bought their teardrop trailer second-hand for $6,000 and altered it to their liking.

By the time we made our way back to our own campsite, Mark announced, “We can make one of those.”

Roughly a month later, that’s exactly what we set out to do. With only a vague idea of how to begin, we researched like heck whatever teardrop trailers we could find on the internet and then decided what style we wanted to make. We discussed some finer points about cabinetry needs, kitchen features, etc., and then just started building it!

THE PROJECT:  Over the course of four months, it went something like this . . .

To be sure, there were many trials and tribulations along the way, but for the most part, we worked together on this project, and that made all the difference. Mark had much more construction knowledge than I did, but I had a practical yet creative mind that served us well on many occasions. I had many ideas about aesthetics and design and even came through with viable solutions when we got into inevitable jams. We found that with the two of us working together, when one of us exhausted all our ideas, the other was able to come in on a fresh, new angle.

As with most things Mark and I come across, we’re hardly ever interested in buying something brand new. We’d rather restore, re-purpose, or attempt to build it ourselves.

Granted, a big reason for that is we’re simply not financially well-off enough to afford new everything. But honestly, the bigger reason is we enjoy the challenge of attempting to fix or build something ourselves. For one, we get to work on projects together, which improves our communication with one another. For two, with every project, we inevitably learn a couple of new skills we can port over to the next project. For three, we acquire a sense of empowerment by staying self-reliant, comforted in knowing that we can always make ends meet should our life adventures throw us a curve ball or should we temporarily lose our way.

With many of the projects we embark upon, we often don’t know what awaits us. We often don’t know if we have the specific skills we’ll need to get the job done. That can be intimidating. What we DO know, however, is we definitely have the most important tools: patience, common sense, cooperation, resilience, and desire. Everything else we need, we acquire by simply doing it!

Here’s a link to a post, showing what the final product looks like these days . . . Photos of Our Own Home-Built, Custom Teardrop Trailer.

[What’s that one project that keeps gnawing at you that you haven’t yet started or completed? Why not commit yourself today to getting the job done? Maybe if you say it out loud in our comments section, we can help hold you accountable for completing what you know you want to. If you do share your goal with us, we’d love to hear how the project’s progressing, whether you completed it, and what you learned along the way (and we’re not talking just skills learned!).]


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There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Teardrops

There can never be too many teardrops in a person’s life.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Say WhatTeardrop trailers, that is.

And there can never be too many teardrop trailer gatherings.

This past July 4th–our first ever spent in our new home state of Arizona–we joined up with a teardrop trailer group known as Arizona Roundup for a holiday weekend camping event. The gathering required participants own either teardrop trailers or vintage trailers dated pre-1980.  Let me tell ya’, the cozy, classic, and funky factors of the trailers were way off the charts (and we’ve seen some pretty interesting trailers in the past!).

The event took place at the Kaibab Lake Campground near a town called Williams in northern Arizona.  The campground is part of Kaibab National Forest and is only about 60 miles away from the southern entrance of Grand Canyon National Park.

Unfortunately, the weekend started with a communication snafu, resulting in the campground setting aside only half of the campsites we needed for the event. But ya’ know what . . . teardrop and vintage trailer folks are a friendly lot, so attendees salvaged the situation by agreeing to the only option available: doubling up at each campsite.

We were one of the last trailers to arrive at the event, so had few choices on where to crash. Bent on staying near the center of the action rather than on the fringes, we were happy to take up the campground office’s compensatory one-time offer to allow trailers to park on the turnaround road in our dedicated loop area. We made camp at one end of the turnaround road . . .

WILLIAMS_07042015_082while another teardrop trailer made camp at the other end . . .

WILLIAMS_07042015_045Though we technically camped on a paved road, we were happy about our setup. Tons of space around us to spread out. Plenty of room for the dog run. And exceptional real estate for putting up our over-sized American flag . . .

WILLIAMS_07042015_002We had some rainy weather to deal with, which served to remind us why we love our teardrop trailer so much more than tent camping. Rain? No problem. Time to curl up inside on the queen-size bed and read a good book or take a little nap.

Knowing the event included a Saturday afternoon picnic, Mark made his Dutch Oven Sweet Potato Curry Chicken recipe to share with 30 or so folks who gathered at one of the covered (thank goodness!) picnic areas. Thanks to everyone else bringing equally great appetizers, entrees, and desserts, we probably ate better than our forefathers did on Independence Day 1776!

After the community food fest, we headed over to downtown Williams, AZ, for a good old-fashioned 4th of July parade down their main street–a vibrant stretch of historic Route 66.

Williams, AZ is a super-fab place to visit on your way to or from the south entrance of the Grand Canyon. It’s chock full of restaurants, music, and gift shops . . . and even the occasional play-acted cowboy, shoot-em-up showdown in the streets.

But especially on this Independence Day weekend, there was no shortage of patriotic spirit in Williams . . .

and no shortage of teardrops, since a half dozen or so of our teardrop trailer-event folks joined in on the parade, too . . .

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On Sunday, Mark and I spent the afternoon at Grand Canyon National Park. The weather was still snotty, but we enjoyed the park just the same. If anything, cloud cover adds interest to the canyon.

When we were exiting Grand Canyon National Park, we were treated with an elk sighting that perfectly wrapped up a great day and an awesome weekend. Check her out . . . isn’t she purty?

WILLIAMS_07042015_151

Check out the Williams area if you ever get a chance. And if you’re interested in future camping events in the Arizona area open to vintage trailer owners and teardrop trailer owners (both vintage AND new), check out the Arizona Roundup web page .

WILLIAMS_07042015_140


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Happy trails, y’all!


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4th of July Teardrop Trailer Gathering in Northern Arizona

DSC07948_copyCamping brings people together, and what could be more cozy than a vintage trailer and teardrop trailer gathering to experience a truly nostalgic version of camping? This weekend, we head off for our first teardrop trailer gathering since we moved to Arizona earlier this year. I’m so excited. I always love camping, but I especially love it when I know I’m gonna meet some great people.

This gathering’s in northern Arizona at the Kaibab Lake Campground near a town called Williams.  The campground is part of Kaibab National Forest and is roughly 60 miles away from the Grand Canyon.

We’ll join what looks like a nice group of folks who gather under the name Arizona Roundup. Event participants own either teardrop trailers or vintage trailers dated pre-1980. Check out the Arizona Roundup web page if you are interested in future camping events in the Arizona area open to vintage trailer owners and teardrop trailer owners (both vintage AND new).

As for us, we’re looking forward to the pot luck dinner on Saturday. Mark is making his Sweet Potato Curry Chicken recipe in a cast-iron Dutch Oven. Can’t wait to meet the other folks and see what they’ve got under their pot tops!

Happy 4th of July, folks. Have a safe holiday. Go out and make a [few] new friends!


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Happy trails, y’all!

Sue J signatureOur last teardrop trailer gathering was in California at Lake Perris:

2014 Lake Perris Teardrop Trailer Gathering: Photo Gallery

2014 Lake Perris Teardrop Trailer Gathering: Dutch Oven Cooking

And the Dutch Oven pot luck dinner at the 2014 Lake Perris event looked like this . . .

DSC09070


UPDATE: 

Click on the following link to see highlights of the 4th of July weekend  . . .  

Highlights of 4th of July weekend 2015

 

Promises to Keep and Miles to Go Before I Sleep

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep . . . ”

–Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

lovely night woods

Alas, the year is ending and I’ve fallen short of sharing with you all of the adventures this past summer on our three-week-long teardrop trailer trip to some of our country’s most unique national parks. I’ve been lured toward other deep projects, including several editing projects and most recently, planning a move to another state in the very near future. But, I did make a promise to deliver the goods and deliver them, I will. Stay tuned for coverage about our day trip to a hidden gem, Capital Reef National Park, and then to my personal favorite, Bryce Canyon National Park.

Happy New Year, y’all. Let’s make some New Year’s resolutions and stick to them this time!

Sue J signature

retro teardrop trailer

3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Wildlife IN YOUR FACE in Grand Teton National Park

Or is that ON YOUR FEET?

Wildlife in and around Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming aren’t bashful. In fact, they seem to know they own the place. Boisterous chipmunks like to rub it in your face, or rub their face into you, as the case may be.

Grand Teton National Park and area, wildlife viewings, Wyoming, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay, Jackson Hole, moose, mule deer, bison

In the Tetons, humans can’t vie for secondary nor even tertiary position in the food chain.

Moose ignore you while munching on a veggie breakfast . . .

Even mamma and her baby don’t seem too concerned.

Hell, bison routinely overtake the roadways as if the asphalt were designed for hooves instead of cars. An adult bison weighs about a ton. Needless to say, few autos challenge their collective decision.

This mule deer stepped right up to our campsite at Gros Ventre Campground (the same campground–just south of Grand Teton–where we had all of our moose sightings) and asked for a cup of salt.

Grand Teton National Park and area, wildlife viewings, Wyoming, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay, Jackson Hole, moose, mule deer, bison

We redirected him and his eight-point rack that-a-way while we attempted to discreetly shove our 80-pound dog this-a-way into our car to avoid a confrontation.

As if this all weren’t enough, I had a run-in with this grizzly. As you can see, I was more frightened of him than he of me . . .

grizzly bear, Grand Teton National Park and area, wildlife viewings, Wyoming, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay, Jackson Hole, moose, mule deer, bison

From the safety of a fort we found at the edge of Colter Bay, Mark tried to track the bear after it ran away  . . .

I found an anti-social elk who seemed kinda stiff . . .

elk, Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, Grand Teton National Park and area, wildlife viewings, Wyoming, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay, Jackson Hole, moose, mule deer, bison

and imagined how many fell to create an archway as grand as this . . .

Grand Teton National Park and area, wildlife viewings, Wyoming, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay, Jackson Hole, moose, mule deer, bison

We had some close-up moments with the wildlife at Grand Teton. It was amazing but is always dangerous. So, make sure you give wildlife respect by giving them space (Yellowstone Bison vs. Humans: You Can’t Fix Stupid), especially when they seem to want to get in YOUR face.

No matter where we drove in Grand Teton, her white-capped, rugged peaks stole the show and crowded the camera lens. Just like the wildlife, the mountains themselves reminded us that we share this planet with more powerful and beautiful things.

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As with Yellowstone  (3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Wild, Wicked Yellowstone National Park), we only spent what added up to a day-and-a-half at Grand Teton. A few days is not enough to explore any national park, and Grand Teton is no different.  It’s a hiker’s, climber’s, explorer’s paradise . . .

Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, Grand Teton National Park and area, wildlife viewings, Wyoming, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay, Jackson Hole, moose, mule deer, bison
Okay, so I’m just faking it at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Grand Teton National Park, but . . . you know . . . I could do it if I wanted to . . . IF I wanted to. 🙂

And oh so easy on the eyes. Just to prove a point, Mark said there’s no such thing as a bad picture in the Tetons and proved it by willy nilly snapping a picture out the car window without looking. And he was right . . .

Grand Teton National Park and area, wildlife viewings, Wyoming, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay, Jackson Hole, moose, mule deer, bison

We know we’ll be back some day.  But a three-week road trip, in the end amounting to 4,400 miles, requires a tight schedule. Utah and five of its best national parks is the next stop. Onward and outward!



 

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We’re happy to help!

If you have any questions about where we’ve been, any aspects of the experience we didn’t share here, please use our ‘Contact’ page to send us an email with your question(s). We’ll do our best to provide you the answer if we know it or will at least fabricate something entirely convincing.

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To see our original trip route map, click on the first post of this mini-series:

Teardrop Trailer Summer Road Trip: 9 NW States, 8 Nat’l Parks

Or any of our stops so far on the way . . .

Day 1, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Travel Log: Willits, CA, KOA Campground

Early Day 2, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Toilet Bowls, Vintage New Yorkers, and the Eclectic

Later Day 2, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Drive-Thru Redwoods, Giants, and Castles

Day 3, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Gigantic Marshmallows of Oregon

Day 4, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Captivating Washington Coastline

Day 5, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Olympiad Deer, Bald Eagles, and Chica Birds

Early Day 6, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Port Townsend, WA, See It All and Sea Otters Too!

Later Day 6, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, WA

Day 7, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Goodbye Olympic Peninsula; Hello Seattle!

Day 8, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Hay, Washington! Spuds! Spokane!

Day 9, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: It’s a Dog’s Life for Me

Midway on 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Just Stop; You’re Missing It!

3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Wild, Wicked Yellowstone National Park

3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Wild, Wicked Yellowstone National Park

Day 10:

Yellowstone blew us away. She was anything but serene as she let off some steam . . . a hot-headed gal by nature—beautiful, but turbulent and unpredictable.

Our date with her started a little flat . . .

Yellowstone National Park, geysers, volcano, hot springs, wildlife, bison, elk, hiking, trails

We immediately saw her wild side and knew we should keep our distance . . .

Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, geysers, volcano, hot springs, wildlife, bison, elk, hiking, trails Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, geysers, volcano, hot springs, wildlife, bison, elk, hiking, trails

But she was so bubbly and vivacious, we couldn’t help but be lured in. Cavernous aqua eyes called to us . . .

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She was steamy . . .

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And caustic . . .

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But she gave us hope . . .

Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, geysers, volcano, hot springs, wildlife, bison, elk, hiking, trails Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, geysers, volcano, hot springs, wildlife, bison, elk, hiking, trailsWe simply couldn’t stay away and came back yet another day.

Day 12:

Whereas we saw her West Side on date one, on date two, we explored her East Side.

She drew us in as she did the day before . . .

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But her toxicity puzzled us and made us curious enough to ask for some insight from a park ranger . . .

Yellowstone National Park, geysers, volcano, hot springs, wildlife, bison, elk, hiking, trails

There is no sugar-coating it. Yellowstone is wild. She’s a fire-breathing dragon . . .

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She is unstable . . .

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But mostly, she is beautiful.

We only spent what added up to a day-and-a-half with Yellowstone. We barely scratched the surface of what she has to offer. The end result is the experience has only made us hungry for more.

As with most national parks, a few days is not enough to explore Yellowstone fully–nor is a week, nor possibly a lifetime. Our nation’s national parks are living, breathing entities that change as much as we do–rough days and calm days, bouts of death and rebirth. The rawness of the parks emulates the human experience in a visceral and often poetic way on the quintessential but unpredictable stage set of life.



 

DAY_7_01

We’re happy to help!

If you have any questions about where we’ve been, any aspects of the experience we didn’t share here, please use our ‘Contact’ page to send us an email with your question(s). We’ll do our best to provide you the answer if we know it or will at least fabricate something entirely convincing.

If FACEBOOK is your thing, LIKE us on FACEBOOK and see all our latest posts:

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com


 

To see our original trip route map, click on the first post of this mini-series:

Teardrop Trailer Summer Road Trip: 9 NW States, 8 Nat’l Parks


Remember…

If you see us the road, HONK!
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