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Teardrop Trailer Air Conditioning (A/C) Unit Installation

We recently received a request from a Twitter follower to provide installation details about our custom, home-built teardrop trailer’s air conditioning (A/C) unit  . . .

Do you have any write ups on how you vent/drain your A/C on your teardrop?

By now, you may have seen some photos of our teardrop trailer’s air conditioning (A/C) unit installation in the post entitled “Building Our Teardrop Trailer From Scratch: Learning by Doing“.  In the next set of paragraphs, I’ll give more details about those photos.

Teardrop Trailer Air Conditioning (A/C) Unit Installation

The over-simplified explanation of how to deal with venting and draining of a teardrop trailer’s air conditioning (A/C) unit goes a little something like this:
air flow zones for camper air conditioning unit, teardrop trailer air conditioning installation
Air-flow zones for teardrop trailer or camper air-conditioning unit.
  1. Divide air space outside of A/C unit into three distinct zones:
    • Zone 1 at front of A/C unit, where cabin air is pulled in through one set of A/C unit’s front-panel vents, and cooled air is pushed back out into cabin via another set of front-panel vents;
    • Zone 2 through mid-section of A/C unit, where outside air is pulled into the A/C unit’s mid-section vents;
    • Zone 3 at rear of A/C unit, where hot air from condenser coil is pushed out the back-end vents.
  2. Provide intake route for outside air to be pulled into Zone 2, where it will enter the A/C unit via the mid-section intake vents;.
  3. Provide exit route in Zone 3 for heated air at back end of A/C unit to be pushed outside of teardrop trailer (Note: we installed a partitioned roof vent to accommodate both Zone 2 ingress and Zone 3 egress).
  4. Provide a water collection space at back end of A/C unit in Zone 2 and Zone 3, where water from A/C unit’s internal, built-in drip pan (a result of front-end cooling-coil evaporation) can safely collect and exit the trailer when A/C unit is running;
  5. When installing a water-collection pan to accommodate run-off water through Zone 2 & Zone 3:
    • Make sure teardrop trailer is level;
    • Position and secure the water-collection pan at ample angle to allow A/C unit’s run-off water to safely and efficiently collect into one back corner of collection pan (in our case, the back-left corner);
    • Cut small hole at base of water-collection pan in separator wall between Zone 2 & Zone 3 to allow water to pass from Zone 3 into Zone 2. Punch hole at back of water-collection pan in Zone 2, where water can drain out through a drainage tube;
    • Install a leak-proof drainage tube long enough to run down through infrastructure of teardrop trailer until it reaches the outside of the teardrop trailer’s underbelly (Note: we punched a hole in left-rear of collection pan and soldered copper tubing that we then ran through an interior wall to the underside of the teardrop trailer). REMEMBER: GRAVITY IS YOUR FRIEND, so MAKE SURE the water’s EXIT ROUTE IS ALL DOWNHILL!  🙂
  6. When ready to install A/C unit, use weather-proof sealant tape between rear of A/C unit and any framed areas A/C unit will butt up against to ensure a watertight installation.

Now, for the expanded Photo Log of our Teardrop Trailer air conditioning unit installation . . .

With this being our first attempt at building a teardrop trailer from scratch, we attempted to capture as many photos of our trailer build as we could. We did so STRICTLY FOR OUR OWN INFORMATION. Beyond family and friends, we never thought in a million years we’d show them to anyone else. And yet, here we are!

(Recall, this wasn’t a kit build, but a wing-it-as-you-go home-built teardrop trailer. We wanted (and knew we would need!) plenty of step-by-step evidence in case something didn’t work well afterwards. We’ve been fortunate and INFINITELY GRATEFUL that most things have worked great from the start. )

All said and done, making the correct cuts and creating the correct angles for the aluminum shields and separators was perhaps the most trying part of the build. It helped TREMENDOUSLY to use cardboard and foam board stencils to attain the best configuration and thus have templates to use when cutting and shaping the aluminum.

First we made a cardboard mock-up of the air conditioner, flushed out some ideas, and committed to a channel through which we would run the copper tubing that would serve as an egress of the air conditioner’s run-off water:

 Next, we worked on fashioning a foam board mock-up of the external vent area to be used for BOTH Zone 2 air intake AND Zone 3 hot-air egress:

Then, we worked on framing the innards with aluminum sheeting and created a path for run-off water to exit the trailer :

Next, we commited to cutting and forming the air conditioning system’s outer roof shield, AND we commit to applying the full aluminum skin to our trailer:

Final stages included installation of air conditioner’s aluminum roof-top vent shield and placement of protective plastic grill to keep the critters out:

See? That wasn’t so bad!

Actually, it was a bit more complicated than we thought. As with anything, you learn a whole lot about something when you’re forced to. I know WAY more about air conditioning systems than I thought I ever needed to or wanted to, but I actually feel the better for it. You will too.  🙂

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. In the meantime, good luck to all of you out there bravely building your own teardrop trailers. We STILL look fondly at this teardrop trailer build as our favorite joint-project to date!

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3 Days, 2 Nat’l Parks, 1 Bum Foot: Miracles and Inspiration

It’s early May and we have THREE days to see TWO National Parks with ONE traveler (namely, me) making do with an injured foot. My partner and I rendezvoused with another couple (my brother and sister-in-law) for three days in St. George, Utah, with a quest to see two outstanding U.S. National Parks–Zion and Bryce Canyon, both in southern Utah.

Our original intention was to hike ’til we dropped, but I recently had an untimely foot injury that kept me from going on THIS incredible backpacking trip in Grand Canyon. With a slowly healing foot (torn or ruptured ligament), I couldn’t expect to hike, but still, there was NO WAY I was going to miss out on seeing Zion and Bryce as planned. As it turns out, natural inspiration and human inspiration abounded on this trip.


Human Inspiration #1: Back From the Dead

My party and I set out on a new revised quest–to experience the visual overload of two of the nation’s “wow-factor” parks while functioning within certain agility limitations. To start the quest, I needed to equip myself with the right tools. I scored a decent walking stick at a souvenir shop (Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post, 1000 W. Hwy 9, Virgin, UT) on the way to Zion National Park.

early-American wagon, near Zion national park
An early-American wagon on the property of Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post in Virgin , UT

There I met Dona, a 51-year-old woman working the cashier who shared an inspiring story about herself. She casually mentioned she had died at age 44 from cardiac arrest and lay dead for a full 30 minutes before being revived.

Dona spoke like someone who knew more than most–about life, blessings, and miracles. Her after-life experience was so powerful that she revealed she often wishes she didn’t make it, that life here doesn’t quite “cut it” compared to the peace she experienced when “passing.” Much to her delight, Dona spent time with her grandmother on the “other side” and, much to her dismay, has missed Grandma greatly since.

Still, Dona had a certain strength and conviction about her. A quiet wisdom emerged from her words–something that amounted to: Don’t sweat the small stuff. I felt so moved and humbled to meet Dona, I reached out, shook her hand, and let her know I was happy she was still with us. I felt blessed to meet her. She is one of God’s walking miracles–a reminder for us all to keep it simple, live and love well, and, above all, be grateful. Everything that seems to have value to you can be taken away in an instant.

Zion National Park walking stick badge
Zion National Park “badge”

When I was ready to pay for my items, Dona helped me pick out a badge for my new walking stick (A badge is a nickname for the ‘bling’ sold to dress up, souvenirize–yeah, I know it’s not a real word–and customize your walking sticks). Check out my new badge in the photo.

The image of a wild elk reminds me of Dona and her strength and resolve to keep moving forward with whatever plans God has for her. She doesn’t seem to know exactly where she’s going, what exactly she’s supposed to do, but she has faith that it will all work out. Besides, she already knows how the story ends and is not the least bit frightened about it.

Zion National Park entrance signZION NATIONAL PARK

Natural Inspiration #1

Equipped with my newly decorated walking stick and walking orders from my doctor that I should NOT hike anytime in the near future (What a conundrum!), I set out to discover short, easy trails I could hike in Zion. The first happy revelation was that Zion has a terrific shuttle system that takes you across many must-see stops along a shuttle-only roadway. There is no need to hunt and fight for a parking space at Zion or to walk a long way from your car to the starting point of sights and trails at each stop. There are even shuttles running from nearby Springdale into Zion’s South Entrance if Zion’s Visitor Center parking lots are full. This was a huge concern for me, as I couldn’t envision tackling more than a half-mile round trip at any location, including the walk from transportation to trail head.

On the shuttle, a pre-canned tour guide’s voice provides interesting information about the park, but I have to say it was difficult to see clearly through tinted windows and around multiple obstructions in the shuttle bus framework. You must get out at each stop if you intend to see what there is to see. On the very first stop, we got to see this:

Zion National Park, Utah
Mule deer at Zion National Park
Wild turkey at Zion national park, Utah
Wild turkey at Zion National Park
Zion National Park shuttle
Zion National Park shuttle at the halfway point.

Allow 80 or 90 minutes to do the shuttle ride without getting off at any stops, and you will be rewarded with an 8-minute stop at the halfway point in order to stretch and use the restrooms if necessary. For each stop you get off at, add 10 minutes to your tour time for the next shuttle to appear. If you set off on trails for a short or long hike, shuttles conveniently run into late evening, with the last shuttle leaving the entrance visitor center at 7:30 p.m. in order to complete the full circuit by 9 p.m. Plan accordingly. (Note: shuttle schedule changes throughout the year; check links at end of this article for most current information.)






I ventured on two different trails at Zion. Even though I didn’t make it to the intended end point of each trail, I saw plenty to satisfy my senses:

mule deer at zion, antlers
Mule deer at Zion. Check out those antlers!


Zion National Park, tunnels, shortcut to Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon

The Tunnel From South and West Zion to Zion’s East Entrance and on to Bryce Canyon

Zion National Park: one of two tunnels connecting the east entrance of the park to the south and west of park.

The shortest and most picturesque drive to Bryce Canyon National Park from points south and west of Zion is through the one-mile-long Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel within Zion National Park near its eastern entrance. Besides the time savings, there are many sights to dazzle your eyes along the way, so it is definitely worth the drive.



Zion National Park, Checkerboard Mesa, tunnel in Zion
Zion National Park: Checkerboard Mesa, on the road between Zion and Bryce Canyon. A massive patterned rock mountain that begs to be climbed.
Zion National Park, checkerboard mesa
. . . and so we did!


Bryce Canyon National Park, entranceBRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK

Natural Inspiration #2

Like Zion, Bryce Canyon has a shuttle system, but it only goes to a subset (albeit an excellent subset) of sights where cars can also go. One of those stops is Bryce Point. We took our car there and saw amazing rock formations in the valley below the parking area. It was here I felt most frustrated about having a foot injury. This is THE PLACE to hike. Something out of a fantasy movie, hikers moved below like elves among towering hoodoos (a name for the funky formations seemingly dripped like hot candle wax or wet sand into spindly spires.) There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these spires scattered across the valley floor.

Bryce Canyon National Park, accessibility, easy access, Bryce Point, hoodoo heaven, easy trail, awesome quick hike
Bryce Canyon National Park: Bryce Point. The trail towards Inspiration Point is easy enough to do a slow hike. Views are spectacular.

We saw this fully loaded bike parked along the fence and all pretty much said the same thing, Man, that bike has BEEN places!

Bryce Canyon National Park, Jeremie Geumetz, France
Wow! Bryce by bicycle. Wonder where the rider is.

Unlike Zion, Bryce Canyon also has a tour route accessible by car. On a Saturday in early May, we had no problem parking at each of the viewpoints. My favorite short hike was at Farview Point where we were able to hike right next to the tops of hoodoos and other formations, like arches and what looked like a 100-story cathedral organ. The winds were strong that day, and the effect on us at certain points on the trail was high exhilaration.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Farview Point, hoodoo heaven, easy trail, awesome quick hike
Bryce Canyon National Park: Farview Point. An excellent “bang for the buck” hiking trail. Take it as far as you have time for, turn around and head back. You’re immediately submerged in hoodoo heaven!
Bryce Canyon National Park, Farview Point, hoodoo heaven, easy trail, awesome quick hike
Bryce Canyon National Park: Farview Point. An excellent “bang for the buck” hiking trail. These hoodoos looked like a 100-foot high cathedral organ. I wonder if music would play if the wind were strong enough.
Bryce Canyon National Park, easy access view, accessibility, hoodoo heaven, natural bridge, awesome views
Bryce Canyon National Park: Natural Bridge, viewable from the parking area.


Human Inspiration #2: How Far Determination Takes You

Jeremie Geumetz, France, bicycling South America, Central America, North America, Zion National Park
Hey, there’s that bike again!

At Farview Point, we came upon that bike again. This time, we also came upon it’s owner, the human version of amazing–Jeremie Geumetz, a French bicyclist. When I saw his worn, heavily packed bicycle, I had to know his story.

long-distance bicyling, Jeremie Geumetz, France, South America, Central America, North America
Jeremie Geumetz–a man who clearly LOVES to bike!

“Hi. Can I ask how many miles you’ve traveled so far?”

“I dunno. 17,000 or 18,000,” he answered in a heavy French accent.

Surprised by the response, my brain dug through and re-processed his French-English. “Thousand?” I asked. “Miles?


From there on, I had a flood of questions, and Jeremie was all too happy to oblige.

Jeremie lives in France. While we were talking, an older couple overheard and joined the conversation, soon discovering they lived only 20 miles away from him, in Belgium.

Jeremie started his trip in Patagonia, South America. His intention is to bicycle from South America through Central America to northernmost North America where he hopes to reach Alaska (weather permitting) by September. With 17,000 or so miles under his belt, he still has another roughly 4,000 to go.

By now, I’d called the rest of my crew over, “This guy has ridden 17,000 miles!”

“When was the last time you shaved?” one of us asked.

He tugged on his beard seeking our confirmation that he understood the question topic, and when we nodded yes, he said, “Columbia.”

“How long have you been on this trip?” I asked.

“Since November 22nd.”

I began counting aloud the number of months since November, “Wow! That’s a long time.”

“2012,” Jeremie said, correcting my counting.

“What?! And why are you doing this? Any particular reason?”

“Not really. I like to bike. We French like to bike.”

And how! This Frenchman loves to bike and he loves to connect with people. He was gracious with his time and patient with our questions–a true gentleman with a warm spirit and a love for life. We all shook his hand as we parted company and told Jeremie repeatedly what an inspiration he was to us. The power of the human spirit is incredible. It can drive us to press toward the outer limits of our existence, to experience something unique and powerful, something that becomes a part of us as we travel through life.

On the drive back to our hotel that evening, we ran into stormy weather. Wild winds whipped our car from every direction. Tumbleweeds raced alongside us on the highway at 60 mph and wicked lightening continuously lit up the sky. The news reports delivered the adjusted weather report: a violent storm was expected to drop two feet of snow at the higher elevations in our area. By morning, the distant Zion mountains were white-tipped, and we wondered and worried about Jeremie. (This is, by the way, the third time recently that my partner and I encountered unexpected snow on hikes in unlikely locations this year: See Snow in Hawaii: Worth the Trip and check out Little Jimmy Trail Camp: Backpacking ‘Sno(w) Problem Along the PCT)

Luckily, before we parted company, I’d asked Jeremie for contact information. I knew I wanted to write about him. Turns out Jeremie has a website; I am listing it here with his permission: www.2rouesvagabondes.fr

He also is on Facebook: Jeremie Geumetz , https://www.facebook.com/jeremie.geumetz

Checking his website for updates, we found out our Frenchman made it through the stormy, snowy night. We also found out he is a talented photographer. Check out his online sites for a dose of inspiration.

Jeremie Geumetz, France, long-distance bicycling, South America, Central America, North America, Zion National Park
Jeremie Geumetz. A Frenchman and a gentleman.



All in all, it is possible to see two national parks in just a few days, even with an injured foot. Whatever your condition or situation, it’s definitely worth the trip. Natural inspiration and human inspiration await you. All you have to do is get in a car, on a bike, or on your feet, and open your eyes, your heart, and your soul to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Get outside, folks, and make a point of checking out the U.S. National Parks. They are amazing!

Happy Trails,

Sue J.

P.S. Stay tuned for our three-week-long National Park road trip in August where we’ll revisit Utah’s Zion and Bryce (this time for some REAL hiking!), as well as Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef in Utah, not to mention Olympic in the state of Washington, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in Wyoming. We’re traveling in our homemade teardrop trailer (the Silver Bullet) and will bring our 80-pound dog along for the ride. Should be interesting!

LINKS to Zion and Bryce websites:

Zion National Park:  http://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm

Zion Maps & Guide:  http://www.nps.gov/zion/parknews/newspaper.htm

Bryce Canyon National Park:  http://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm

Bryce Canyon Map, Shuttle & Hiking Guide:  http://www.nps.gov/brca/parknews/newspaper.htm



Good Eats Nearby:

Ice Cream at Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post, 1000 W. Hwy 9, Virgin, Utah. Omigosh, the BEST homemade ice cream! Unique and delectable flavors. We had the following three and they all were great: Sea Salt Chocolate Caramel Truffle, Orange Cream & Dark Chocolate, and Hog Wild (Brown Sugared Bacon).

Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post is on Facebook as “Virgin Trading Post/FORT ZION”

Bacon-Wrapped Buffalo Meatloaf at Wildcat Willy’s, 897 Zion Park Blvd, Springdale, Utah, outside the South entrance to Zion National Park. An L.A. Times recommended dish comes with a generous portion of meatloaf (a tasty blend of Certified Angus Beef grinds and buffalo grinds, peppers, onions and seasonings wrapped with bacon, crusted with roasted garlic and cracked pepper) on a mound of garlic mashed potatoes topped with a sweet onion gravy and crispy onion strings. A surprisingly delicate, buttery side of Al dente julienne vegetables finishes off the plate.

Wildcat Willie’s:  http://www.wildcatwillies.com/ordereze/default.aspx

Great Dog Boarding Facility:

Doggie Dude Ranch outside the South entrance to Zion National Park in Rockville (800 E. Main, Hwy 9, Rockville, UT 84763). The owner, Filomena, showed us around her dog boarding facility, a large property running along the length of a stream where she’ll take your dog for a daily waterside walk if you wish. In the summer, the dogs keep cool with overhead water misters or with air conditioning in enclosed structures. Be careful when you visit the grounds.  Humans are as likely to enjoy the tranquil location every bit as much as the dogs.

Doggie Dude Ranch:  http://www.doggyduderanch.com/




The First Rule to a Stress-Free Life is: Keep It Simple!

Welcome to my blog. I’m a custom-built teardrop trailer. My parents, Mark and Sue, gave birth to me in Fall 2011. If you haven’t yet been introduced into the world of teardrop trailers, you’re in for a treat. We’re pretty neat. We’re lightweight and compact and make traveling with some creature comforts nice and easy. Since my parents started traveling with me, they’re like a couple of kids. They’re always taking off on last-minute trips because I’m mostly pre-packed and ready to go! And, boy oh boy, we sure do have some great trips planned this year!

Come back soon and I’ll tell you a little more about myself (including details about how I was built), and my parents will tell you about some of our travels together. They’re a couple of nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, so you’re likely to hear about the benefits of being outdoors and the wonders that await you when you’re out there playing! They’ll also give you some great travel, camping, hiking, and backpacking tips to keep in mind. We often travel with a large 80-pound dog, so they’ll let you know in what ways that impacts where we go, what we do, and how we do it. They also do a lot of trips without me (Sniff! Sniff!) so you’ll hear about that as well. Life can be stress-free. You’ve just got to keep it simple and enjoy the little things–like me!

Yours truly,

The Silver Bullet

teardrop trailer travels
The Silver Bullet