Tag Archives: California

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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Happy trails, y’all!


Sue J signature

Rose Parade Floats SNEAK PEEK

New Year’s Day is approaching and so is the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. This week, we took a tour at several of the float-building facilities to watch the progress of this year’s floats. By the end of the night, we had signed up to volunteer for decorating. When you see sights like these, it’s not hard to understand why . . .

Paradiso Parade Floats had many open spots for volunteers this week. They and other float builders were still trying their best to avoid the mad crunch at the end of the week, but they’ve yet to crack the code on how to do that successfully. Paradiso shared a common work area with Cal Poly University in a tent where some rather grand automobiles were also being adorned with flowers and, it appears, even artichokes:

A fitting prelude to the floats themselves including a fanciful phoenix . . .

a beach-bound hippo (representing Zappos dot com) . . .

and a determined gremlin sprouting forth from a magical castle–designed and built by the students of Cal Poly Tech . . .

We toured during the day on Saturday and by Sunday night, we were bundled up in winter clothing, ready for a 4-1/2 hour shift. We easily scored an opportunity to prepare materials for Paradiso’s over-sized phoenix. All of these flowers from the day before . . .

Paradiso CAPolyTech tent 20

were broken down into petals only, and our job was to chop a zillion petals into small pieces until they blended into a lovely shade of butterscotch. We did this cupful by cupful with the aid of a standard pair of scissors.

After roughly two hours straight of maniacal chopping, we were happy to move on to our next chore: covering the wire frames of large dragonfly wings with glue and white rice, part of the colossal hippo float. We had our chance to scale the scaffolding and find a spot with some stability where we could reach to sometimes unreachable spots and cover them in rice.

When it came time to climb to the third tier, I had a sudden bout of acrophobia. I happily swapped places with Mark who took the high road to apply rice to the hippo’s inner tube while I finished off someone else’s dragonfly wings while balancing atop a tall ladder.

We’ve decided that we must make time for decorating Rose Parade floats at least every other year. We always have met wonderful people and love being part of something so cheerful. If you ever get the chance to help decorate, jump on it! It’s an experience unlike any other.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thanks for following along on our Teardrop Adventures.

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

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Marshmallows in Oregon . . . they sure do grow ’em big here!

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Oregon both disappointed and delighted. Marine-layer weather kept us from seeing much of the coastline. And our expectations that the ride along Route 101 North would hug the coastline in the first place was misguided. We only occasionally caught a view:

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Still, there was much to see. A stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory was pretty cool. Cheese is our cryptonite, but we bought some anyway. Their 3-year vintage extra sharp white cheddar cheese is divine.

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We enjoyed it at a great little county park that allowed us a lake-side view.

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We ended up in the KOA campground in Otis, OR, where I met a new friend:

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Oregon loves their bridges and got us loving them, too. Many, if not all, of them featured curious Empire State Building styled columns announcing the bridge’s arrival. We took to photographing several bridges in Oregon, including the final crossover bridge to the state of Washington:

On to Washington!

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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


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DAY_7_01We’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.

Remember…

If you see us the road, HONK!
If you take a picture of us and want to share it, or if you just want to say hi, visit us on FACEBOOK at:

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

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No trip to the northwest U.S. is complete without at least one drive through a Redwood tree, and no well-planned trip is complete without at least one mishap. These two truths came together in perfect synchronicity as we tried to squeeze our PT Cruiser and attached teardrop trailer through the base of a live, 2400-year-old, 21-foot wide, 315-foot tall redwood tree nicknamed the “Chandalier Tree” and attempted to catch it on film.

We preset the camera on a tripod with a remote control device to signal the shots. Fully loaded with car, trailer, man, woman, and dog, we proceeded through the base of the tree, as if this were a natural thing to do. When we got half-way through, we wondered “What if we get stuck?” We could only imagine what our AAA emergency responder would say at the scene. “I’m sorry, folks. We can fix flats tires and keys locked inside vehicles, but we can’t fix stupid.”

Instead, thankfully, there was an audience standing in front of us helping us to get through. Amid the astonished and occasional horrified faces were well-intentioned instructions of which way to go.

Our camera, on the other hand, must’ve been looking the other way. When we checked the image slideshow, there was not a single photo to be found.

With much trepidation and much cringing by spectators, we made the cramped drive through a second time. With barely inches to spare all the way around, we made it through, round two, unscathed. Here’s the proof.

With this monumental feat completed, we moved on to bigger things . . . a drive through the Avenue of the Giants. Words can’t do it justice. I hope the pictures do.

And, finally, at night’s end, a good meal and some much-needed rest!


 

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


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

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

Or if you want to get timely updates of the posts we’re sharing here on Teardrop Adventures, use the FOLLOW button(s) on this website to enter your email and you’ll get updates directly to your email box. It’s a safe and secure environment, and we promise not to sell your email address to the underground mob in exchange for the dark chocolate we crave. Really. Promise. No, really.

DAY_7_01We’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.

Remember…

If you see us the road, HONK!
If you take a picture of us and want to share it, or if you just want to say hi, visit us on FACEBOOK at:

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

 

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

A treacherous ride right from the start . . . Mark was attacked by killer bees. Luckily I caught it on camera.

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After that ordeal, it was time for a rest stop. Found one, but it wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.

DAY_2_33 But when you’re on the road, you’ve gotta roll with it . . . Oh, and bring your own roll sometimes, too!

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Once done visiting the John, we ran into a guy by the same name across the street.

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Seems John is the purveyor of all things interesting, such as his artsy, eclectic, funkadelic shack . . .

 

his half-covered, mint-condition, vintage Chrysler New Yorker (what a beaut!!!) . . .

and his avant garde rest stop I recently made use of.

In a perfect world, Mark and I would have spent the whole day with John. He was just one of those guys. Instead, we simply signed his Toilet Journal and went on our way. So long, John. We’ll be sure to flush away the hours with you next time we’re passing through!

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On to the Avenue of the Giants today–home of the REDWOODS!


 

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


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

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

Or if you want to get timely updates of the posts we’re sharing here on Teardrop Adventures, use the FOLLOW button(s) on this website to enter your email and you’ll get updates directly to your email box. It’s a safe and secure environment, and we promise not to sell your email address to the underground mob in exchange for the dark chocolate we crave. Really. Promise. No, really.

DAY_7_01We’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.

Remember…

If you see us the road, HONK!
If you take a picture of us and want to share it, or if you just want to say hi, visit us on FACEBOOK at:

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

 

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

Day 1: Drive from north Los Angeles to Sacramento (5hrs), visited a second cousin I’ve never met before, and then on to the KOA campground in Willits, CA (2-1/2 hrs). Horses on the hill, large (domestic-pet sized) rabbits in the meadows, hiking trails, fishing pond. A very nice campground for families with small children.

Oh… One more thing… I know I ‘m out of L. A. Because everyone says hello to me here.

On to the Avenue of Giants today.


 

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


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

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

Or if you want to get timely updates of the posts we’re sharing here on Teardrop Adventures, use the FOLLOW button(s) on this website to enter your email and you’ll get updates directly to your email box. It’s a safe and secure environment, and we promise not to sell your email address to the underground mob in exchange for the dark chocolate we crave. Really. Promise. No, really.

DAY_7_01We’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.

Remember…

If you see us the road, HONK!
If you take a picture of us and want to share it, or if you just want to say hi, visit us on FACEBOOK at:

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com


 

And We’re Off; Where We’ll Stop, Nobody Knows

2014 Lake Perris Teardrop Trailer Gathering, vintage, custom, home-built

Just like that. We’ve decided to head out first thing in the morning. How can we do that, you ask? Easy. We’ve got a teardrop trailer and designed our life to be exactly like this. You can, too!

We don’t know where we’re heading. We’ll know when we get there. The goal is to go camping–Mark, the dog, and I. If we can’t find a spot, we’ll find a hide-away somewhere and park the car and the teardrop and just wing it. Freedom!

Yeah, baby!!

I’ll report in after the weekend

XOXO,

Sue J signature