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First Year Summary and T@G MAX XL Modifications

Year one of camping is under our belts! We bought a new T@G MAX XL and it was pretty much good to go. However, we have made a few modifications.

We purchased our teardrop in September 2016, so it has been a year now since we became teardroppers. Being new to camping in general and never previously having owned any type of camper, we learned a lot in this first year.  This past year, our camper has been towed 3,430 miles on eight camping trips to five different states (AL, GA, FL, TN, & AR).

There were not any exceptionally long trips this first year for two reasons:  1) we had to figure out what we were doing and 2) we are actively working toward a knee replacement for my husband and it precludes long trips planned well in advance.  Our longest trip lasted a week.  We expect much longer trips next year.

Our T@G is really well-designed and is comfortable and functional, despite its size, but we did make a few minor changes.

1) Removal of the Headboard:  

We had our dealer remove the headboard at the time of purchase.  My husband is 6’3″ and he really needs the extra space.  The headboard was nice, but comfort trumped utility in this instance.  He is able to sleep very comfortably with this modification.

T@G without headboard

2)   DVD Light-Blocking Panel

My big guy cannot stand any light while sleeping and the light on the DVD player is quite bright.  One of the first things he did was to make a panel to block the light.  It attaches with Velcro and works very well.

Light-blocking panel

3)  Head Protection, Cabin and Galley

My husband’s height has caused pain on a couple of occasions. The open shelving over the head of the bed had some hard edges and bumping his head motivated him to look for a solution.  He installed foam padding attached with glue strips.   There have been no injuries since this was done.

Padding on the Shelf

He also shortened the length of the hex studs on the galley door.  They were longer than necessary and he had scraped his head on them before the mod.

Modified studs

4) Greywater Drain Access

Having to crawl around on the ground to attach the hose to drain water from the sink was not one of my favorite things.   A lady on one of the teardrop Facebook groups posted that she has a solution to provide easy access and I immediately requested the modification for our camper.  Her solution was lower to the ground.  We raised ours upon the recommendation of a plumber so it would be less likely to get caught on a curb or on uneven terrain.

Greywater Drain Access

5) License Plate Holder

The original way the holder was mounted was flimsy and hung low to the ground.  One of the first things we did was to purchase a black plastic tag holder and mount it appropriately 1 1/2″ higher to the lower frame using the existing screws.

6) Naming the teardrop 

We had no idea how camping would be for us and did not have a name for the trailer initially.  After a little experience, we named it Endeavor and had the name installed on the back.  There is an older post that describes the naming process and installation.

7) Inexpensive and easy air antenna

We purchased an air antenna at the time we got our camper and tried to use it several times.  It did not do a great job, but we were often not in high reception areas.  I saw a post on a Facebook teardrop group a where a gentleman was using a co-axel cable about 6″long to attach to the cable receptacle with the outer insulation stripped off by about 2.5″.  It worked fairly well the one time we tried it and is more compact than the one we purchased.  I am not sure how useful it will be as reception is not usually strong at campsites, but I like its simplicity.

Inexpensive TV Antenna

8) Memory Foam Cover

As many campers have suggested, we installed a memory foam cover over the mattresses  Ours is a 2″ cover and we also use a mattress pad for comfort and an added layer of separation from the memory foam itself for allergy reasons.  It has made our bed quite comfortable.  I don’t think the mattresses alone would have been adequate.

Modification Reversal

We had a diffuser over the air conditioner because the constant blowing of air directly on us was annoying.  It was a plastic traylike apparatus that was rather flimsy and stuck out quite a bit.  We seemed to have more issues with condensation using it and it was an obstacle to be avoided. I managed to knock it down and break it the second trip it was used and we decided to not replace it.

Under Consideration

My tall husband has to stoop when under the galley.  We checked with our dealer about the possibility of adding the Outback wheels to raise the overall height.  This would get us electric brakes as well.   It is a little pricey, but the bigger issue was a concern about the width and getting it into our garage.  We still may do this at a later date.

Summary

Our first year in Endeavor was wonderful and we have not make a lot of  changes.  Looking forward to year two!

 

 

With Family at the Beach

This is not my usual camping or travel post and as such, will not be posted to camping sites. This post is to capture some wonderful memories with family at the beach. If you happen upon this post, there are some photos of some beautiful sunsets and some great times with family.

Our son, Shawn, and his girlfriend, Laura, rented a condo at North Redington Shores, Florida, for Labor Day weekend.  They offered us one of the extra bedrooms and Laura’s mom and her boyfriend the other.  We really enjoy Laura’s mom and was just meeting her friend, Jack, who was fun to be around too.  We had a wonderful time with them all.

Most of our past beach trips have been in the panhandle and we have never spent time on the eastern Florida coastline.  Redington Shores is in the Pinellas Park area and very nice.  It was not especially crowded considering it was Labor Day weekend.  The beach was nice and well-maintained.

The condo, the Ram Sea, is right on the beach and the unit we were in was newly-remodeled.  It was very nice!  Below is a photo of our bedroom.  This was not tiny trailer camping!

Unit 610 At the Ram Sea

Shawn and Laura were outstanding hosts.   Laura cooked us big, delicious breakfasts, venison stew, and baked ziti.  They had an abundance of Cuban sandwiches and fried stuffed potatoes (a delicacy with meat in the center).

We were blessed with a beautiful sunset our first evening.  The sun sets directly over the water and it is an incredible sight.  We used it for a photo opportunity.

View from balcony on first night
Shawn, Laura, Rose & Jack
My honey and me
Shawn and Laura
Rose and Jack

This trip was all about relaxing on the beach.  Shawn and Laura love spending all day on the beach and they do it with maximum comfort.  They put up two tents and there were chairs for each of us, plus snacks and adult beverages.  So relaxing!  My husband is not a big lover of the beach, so I am not accustomed to this much time and comfort. Greg would hang out with us for awhile each day and then head for the condo.  He was a really good sport about it.

Our spot on the beach
Relaxing under the tent
Greg joined us

The condominium also has a nice pool that we enjoyed as well.

Ram Sea Pool

We had dinner out a couple of times.  Our favorite was Seabreeze Island Grill.   They had a delicious grilled grouper and fantastic drinks.  We were joined by Rose’s sister, Josie and her husband, Ross.  They were fun and we have a good bit in common; they are dancers.  After dinner, we played a game that was new to me, Rummy Royal.  Fun!

Dinner at Seabreeze

We spent four nights at the Ram Sea and I loved every minute of it.  It was great being with Shawn and Laura and her family were incredible.  The weather was perfect with the exception of a few hours of rain one day.

Ironically, the very next weekend the area was under extreme threat from Hurricane Irma.  I am so glad that the worst case scenario did not occur.

We loved our time at Redington Shores!

 

Camping Etiquette

As a relatively new camper, I want to be a good neighbor to my fellow campers. I posted a request for dos and don’ts on a couple of large camping groups on Facebook and received many comments. Most are on existing lists, but there are a few that I have not seen published.

My background is in accounting and auditing and I am very much a rule-follower, but my husband is just the opposite. He, on the other hand, is very charming and gets away with a lot. 😏  Camping etiquette, however,  is about being a good neighbor, which we both want to be.

The list below is not in the order of importance.  I think if you had ten people rank the list, you would get many variations.  I have tried to organize the information into just a few categories.  Also, remember to observe and obey the rules at your particular campground.

  • Respect Your Neighbor’s Space 

This was the area where I received the most feedback.  Do not run, walk, or bike across an occupied site.  Do not allow pets or children to invade the area.  Do not block access to the site.  These were all mentioned multiple times in the feedback I received.  Park in the middle of your campsite or in such a way that you allow neighbors on both sides adequate space.

  • Control Noise

Respect quiet hours, generally from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Run generators only in the daytime.  Keep music at low levels that extend only to your campsite.  Use quiet voices, especially when arriving late.  Don’t leave outdoor TV on when not there and don’t leave outdoor speakers on when inside.  At night, don’t slam doors and double click remote door locks if horn beeps. Don’t let diesel engines idle unnecessary.

  • Fires

Always thoroughly put out fires before going to bed or leaving.  Be sure to have enough water to ensure fire is out.  Do not leave fires unattended.  Do not burn trash, plastic, or styrofoam as this creates very unpleasant odors.  Build fires only in designated areas and not where it will allow smoke to drift to open windows.   Do not allow cigarette to smoke go into campsites of others.  (In the responses I received, it was acknowledged that controlling where the smoke goes can be difficult.)

Don’t bring firewood from other areas as this may bring non-native insects that can devastate an area.  I did not previously know the reasons for this; it is always good to know the why.

  • Clean and Tidy 

Keep hoses, power lines, and sewer lines as close to your rig as possible for groundskeeping.  Keep your campsite neat and tidy and don’t let trash accumulate around your site.  Don’t use the fire ring as a garbage can.  Clean up after yourself in bathrooms.

Leave your campsite clean for the next camper.  Do not leave garbage or cigarette butts behind.  Put everything back to original spots if moved.

  • Water Issues

Don’t wash dishes in the bathhouse.  Don’t take longer than necessary showers if others as waiting.  Appropriately dispose of grey water.

These next items are a bit unfamiliar to me as we have a teardrop, but I am including for those who have a black water tank.  Don’t dump at campsite that does not have full hook-ups; use dump station.  Don’t dump while neighbors are eating.  Don’t leave black water tank valve open at full hook-up site as it can result in a “pyramid of poo”.  I don’t know exactly how that works, but it sounds really bad.

  • Lights

Turn off lights when going to bed, generally during quiet hours. Do not leave outside lights on overnight.  Many people mentioned lights left on at night as an issue, though often they specified bright or LED lights.

When arriving late or departing early, use lowlights.  If setting up or tearing down in the dark, use flashlights.

  • Children

Teach children to be respectful of others and their camping space.  Teach them to not leave bikes, toys, etc. in the road.  Don’t let them over utilize the bandwidth by excessive use of the Internet.

Don’t use bad language that children can hear.  Also, keep in mind that children are there to have fun.

  • Pets

Keep pets on a leash and limit barking.  Clean up after your pets and do not allow them into the campsites of others. Don’t leave a barking dog at a  campsite. Do not walk your dog during quiet hours, which causes all other dogs in the area to bark.  Don’t wash pet bedding in public washers unless you intend to clean them after you have used them.

  • Interactions with Neighbors 

Greet neighbors and be friendly and polite.  With new arrivals, give them time to set up before going to talk to them.   However, do offer help if it appears it is needed.  Be friendly, but do not overstay when talking as walking by.  Leave any leftover firewood you may have for the next camper or give it to a neighbor.  Share excess goodies if you have them.

  • Wildlife

Don’t feed the wildlife. They remember where they have been fed and will come back for more.  The results can be a nuisance to others and may also be dangerous.

Summary

Many people mentioned the Golden Rule and just being considerate and respectful of others, which is at the heart of the desired behavior.  We are all in very close proximity in a campground and our behavior can significantly impact others and their ability to enjoy their vacations. I prefer to know the things that can irritate others so I can be as considerate as possible.

The items in this post originated from comments from camping groups and multiple camping etiquette documents.  I hope you will find it useful!

Enjoy Camping and Your Neighbors!

 

 

 

Camping and a Total Eclipse of the Sun

This trip included a solar eclipse, two waterfalls, two campgrounds, more cooking than I have ever done while camping, a fabulous play, and lots of games with some wonderful friends.

A good friend proactively booked us a campsite in the path of totality for the solar eclipse that occurred on August 21st.  We viewed the eclipse from Deer Run RV Resort in Crossville, Tennessee.  The campground was packed with moon gazers, but very nice.

We scored a couple of the last available sites and they were great, except for being in full sun.  Temperatures were in the upper 80s and we really felt the impact.  Our 10×10 screen room and a new awning were utilized this trip, more equipment than is typically used.  It was great having the shade, but putting the screen room up and down in full sun was miserable.  We have decided that summertime camping in the South is not for us.  (Looking for recommendations for summer camping locations that are not hot.)

Campsite 18 at Deer Run RV Resort

Deer Run has full hookups, a beautiful lake, swimming pool, and very nice bathhouse.  It was more expensive than the state parks we usually visit, but we received a 10% Good Sam discount.  It also has a restaurant and grocery store with limited options.

Deer Run Resort Lake

The eclipse was the big event for this trip and it was amazing.  The full process of the eclipse lasted about three hours and I expected it to be gradually getting darker until fully dark and then gradually lighter.  Wrong!  We were viewing the sun through the special glasses and could clearly see the moon as it blocked the sun, but it remained very bright outside until the sun was completely blocked.  I did get an interesting photo (below) of gravel with sunlight coming through the trees that showed the crescent shape of the sun.  The coolest part, of course, was the two minutes of total eclipse.  It was like nighttime and the temperature dropped significantly.  The two minutes went by very quickly and then it looked like normal daytime again.

Sunlight Through Trees During Eclipse

Crossville is near Fall Creek Falls State Park and we went to see the waterfall and walk across the hanging suspension bridge.  The area was beautiful, but the waterfall did not pack very much power and bridge was very shaky.  We sat around for awhile and watched people trying to coaxe their dogs to walk across.  The dogs were not interested!  Lunch at Gaul’s Gallery Restaurant in the park was excellent. It had the best banana pudding I have ever had at a restaurant.

Fall Creek Falls

While in Crossville, we saw the play, “Lying in State”, at the Cumberland County Playhouse. It was a hilarious political satire with flawless performances by the cast.  It is my understanding that people come from all over to the Playhouse.  It is a “must see” for visitors to Crosssville.

Most of our Crossville time was at the campground.  We spent an afternoon in the pool and played games with our friends most evenings in the 10x 10. It was very nice to be outside with lights on and not be overrun by bugs.  I cooked a couple of dinners while there and omelettes one morning.  The teardrop galley did well overall, but it was very hot cooking in the evenings.  Crossville camping was four nights.

The second leg of our trip was in Gadsden, Alabama, at the River Country Campground.  This time we were right on the river with a gorgeous view and afternoon shade.  There was a downside though; no tents were allowed, not even my small privacy tent.  It would not have mattered if the bathhouse had not been about three blocks away.  Therefore, our campsite was very simple, but it was pretty.  How could it not be with that view?

Site P12 at River Country

While in Gadsden, we visited nearby Noccalula Falls, which bears the legend of an Indian princess who jumped to her death over a tall ledge because she could not marry her true love.  Her father had promised her in marriage to one from another tribe.

Noccolula Falls

The park was lovely with beautiful landscaping, a quaint little train, a Pioneer Village and a petting zoo with a lioness.  It was a relaxing and inexpensive way to spend a few hours.

Train Ride

River Country Campground has the nicest pool area of any campground we have ever visited.  There are actually three pools:  an infinity pool, regular pool, and kiddie pool.  The infinity pool is right next to the river, which creates a striking effect.  We spent a very peaceful afternoon at the pools and then had a delicious dinner at Top O the River.

River Country Infinity Pool
River Country Pool

We loved the time with our friends at both campgrounds.  The distant bathhouse at River Country was not fun when I had to get up in the middle of the night, but the amazing view was worth it.

Lessons Learned:

  • Our cooking equipment needed to be updated.  We inherited our son’s camping utinsels, which are geared to cooking over a campfire.  We have now purchased some items more suited to our cooking methods.
  • We love, love, love our KingKamp awning.  It was easy to set-up and provided much needed shade.
  • It is just too hot to camp in the South during the summer months.  We will have to find cooler areas to visit.
  • We should confirm the tent policy for future camping at commercial campgrounds.  Better to know before you go.

Happy Camping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Packing for Teardrop Camping-Our Process

The smaller the camper, the more important it is to be organized and have needed items in a place that is predictable and easily accessible. We have now been on several camping trips and have a process that works for us.

Approximately once a month, we take a camping trip.  To simplify the process, we try to keep as much camping-related equipment as we can packed in some manner so it is always ready to go.  For example:

  • Under the Bed-Extension cords, co-axiel cable, television antenna, awning, a few long tools that will not fit in our toolbox, charcoal, umbrella, 30/50 amp converter, nylon cord, and extra flashlight are kept under the bed in the camper and are always ready to go.
  • Inside the Cabin-Hanging shoe bags are attached to the wall on each side of the bed.  A laundry bag and manuals are in a cabinet.  A flashlight for getting up in the middle of the night is in the space between the bed and wall.  These items are always there and ready to go.
  • In the Galley-The galley always has some basic items:  dish cloths and towels, salt and pepper, basic spices, olive oil, a small coffee pot, toaster, small garbage can and trash liners, small flashlight, lighter, wet wipes, Saran Wrap, aluminum foil, bug spray, dish drainer mat, scrubber,  tire gauge, wet wipes and hand sanitizer.  We also keep our 30/15 converter on a shelf in the galley because we always hook our camper up to our home power before trips.
  • In a Footlocker- All the dishes that we might use for cooking are stored in a large plastic footlocker. This includes plates, utensils, glasses, bowls, skillet, pan, etc.  The only extra we sometimes bring is a crockpot or small grill, but that is only if there is a specific plan to use it.

Galley Photos

Overall View of Galley
Galley Shelf
Under the Sink

When leaving for a trip, we use the galley area to store items needed to hook up.  We put the electrical cord and water hoses there, plus the hand tool for the camper stabilizers.   We also strap gallon containers of water to the cabinet and store a foam rubber that rug we always use behind the galley.  Those items are readily available when we arrive at our campsite.

Cords and hoses transported in galley

The footlocker, rectangular table, small blower bucket,  and small folding table are always transported in the cabin of the camper.

 

Items Transported in Cabin

We use the back of our SUV to store food, chairs, a rug and whatever optional equipment we are taking.  We have a 10×10 screen room, EZ tent, porta potty, and privacy tent.  If the trip is more geared to sightseeing or we are at a site for less than 2-3 days, we do not set up a tent or screen room.  If we are very near a restroom, we leave the porta potty at home.

With most camping items pre-packed, most of my trip preparation is spent on what food to bring and what clothes to pack.  Food that does not require refrigeration is stored in three covered bins. One bin is always prepacked with dishwashing liquid, a small bottle of laundry detergent, tablecloths/clips, and coffee filters and the other two have specific food for the trip.  There is also a bin for tools–my husband likes to be prepared.

We each pack a small suitcase and take a pre-packed bath bag with toiletries.  We have found that it works better to use the backseat of our SUV for personal items.  They are always in the same spot, therefore, it is easier to locate needed items.   My husband’s items are on one side of the backseat and mine the other.  We each use the floorboard for extra shoes, hats, etc.  Also, we generally transport a small ice chest in the middle and a couple of lanterns in the floorboard.

Back Seat of SUV

Length of Trip:   Our longest trip so far has been a week.  We have discussed much longer trips and the plan for those is not very different for what we pack today.  For those longer trips, we would just do laundry and buy groceries while traveling.   I can’t wait to try out this theory!

Camping takes effort, but for me,  prepacking and organization makes it easier.  I am sure that most seasoned campers have methods that work for them and may be quite different from what I have described, but this is what works for us.

HAPPY PACKING!

 

 

Camping at Lake Catherine in Arkansas

This was my first trip to Arkansas and it was as much about seeing the sights as camping. We were lucky enough to score a site on the lake very near the bathhouse at Lake Catherine. It was very hot during our stay with highs in the mid-nineties. Because of the heat, we stayed away from camp most of the time during the day.

We loved our site at Lake Catherine.  It was #29 on loop B,  right on the lake with lots of shade and only about 50 feet from the bathhouse.  Loop B is for smaller rigs and our teardrop fit nicely in the spot.  There are two other loops to accommodate larger rigs.  Being able to fit in a smaller spot enabled us to get a nice place to stay without a lot of lead time. Check in was pleasant and we were given a 25% senior discount (only available for weekdays). There is horseback riding nearby and canoes, kayaks, water bikes, and pedal boats are available for rent.

As we have experienced with many campsites, there was not room for our 10 x 10 screen room to attach.   We could have set it up away from the trailer, but chose not to because we would be away for much of the daytime.  Our only issue was that the water connection was too far for us to attach our hose.

Site 29 at Lake Catherine

The wildlife were very friendly; we had mallards, squirrels, and birds visiting us.  They were accustomed to being fed and my husband really enjoyed seeing them.

Feeding the Mallards

Two days were allocated to see the sights in Hot Springs.  We visited Garvan Woodland Gardens the morning of our first day.  It is a 210 acre botanical garden that was donated to the University of Arkansas School. The gardens were utterly beautiful, but it was very hot.  Much of the area is shaded, but walking in heat that rose to a high of 95 was quite challenging.

Garvan Woodland Gardens
Garvan Woodland Gardens
One of Several Peacocks at the Gardens

The Chipmunk Cafe is on site at the gardens and we had an excellent lunch there.  It offers fresh lemonade and a variety of sandwiches.  My husband raved about his hamburger!  We highly recommend the Gardens and the Chipmunk.

Within the gardens is the Anthony Chapel, Arkansas’ premier wedding venue. It features 55-foot tall glass and has a complex truss system designed to mimic trees.  It is a stunning structure.

Anthony Chapel
Anthony Chapel Interior
Pavilion

After lunch, we checked out Bathhouse Row and the historic district.  It was interesting to learn that one side of the street that held shops, tourist attractions, and restaurants is in the city, but across the street is within Hot Springs National Park.   The buildings along Bathhouse Row are owned by the park service and many are leased to private businesses.  The Visitor Center in the Park is a beautiful old building that was once a bathhouse.

Our evening was spent being entertained by The Magic & Comedy of Maxwell Blade. He is a Hot Springs staple and put on a very entertaining show.  We arrived back at our campsite at around 10 pm, cranked up the A/C, and slept like babies!

Day 2 started early at the Buckstaff Bathhouse. The bathhouse is right above the natural hot springs and has been in operation since 1912.  We each had the traditional bathing package, which included individual whirlpool mineral bath, hot packs, sitz bath, vapor cabinet, needle shower, and 20 minute Swedish massage.  The building and the services are much the same as they were over 100 years old.  It was quite an experience and very relaxing.

Buckstaff Bathhouse

We had breakfast for lunch at The Pancake Shoppe, fresh-squeezed orange juice, pancakes loaded with fresh blueberries, and an amazing omelette.

Our afternoon included a Duck Tour of the city and Lake Hamilton and then a movie to get out of the heat.  We saw “Dunkirk” in our first experience with recliner seating.  The movie was good and the seats were very  comfortable!

Dinner was at the historic Ohio Club, established in 1905. It was once one of many illegal casinos in the city.  During prohibition, it was a popular place of movie stars, celebrities, and gangsters.  Mae West, Al Jolson, Babe Ruth, Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Al Capone, and Bugsy Segal are all listed as former customers.  We loved the great service, the Ruben sandwiches, and the fabulous live music.  An excellent blues band was playing the night we were there.

Ohio Club

We drove to Little Rock the next day and visited the Clinton Presidential Center and Park.  It is one of thirteen presidential libraries and we plan to visit all of them.  We had a guided tour, which made the visit more interesting.  Of particular interest were reproductions of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room.  A temporary Bug Exhibit showing how the insect world works together was on site.  You can take photos inside the building,  but can’t publish them, so my shots are all outside.   The building is designed to look like a bridge.  The grounds were very nice with an very interesting-looking bridge that crosses the Arkansas River.

Clinton Presidential Center
Portion of the Bug Exhibit
View from the Bridge

In the afternoon, we rode the River Rail Electric Streetcar for a tour of the city. Our driver was very knowledgeable and gave us a running commentary of the city, past and present. It is free for the summer and very enjoyable.

Old State House, Circa 1842

We drove back to Hot Springs late in the afternoon and had dinner at Deluca’s, a pizza restaurant.  We were back at camp at around 6 pm, our earliest time back by far.  We had observed several people swimming in the lake, so we went in for about 30 minutes.  It was very relaxing and the water was a perfect temperature.

While we were gone during the daytime on this trip, we did enjoy the peacefulness of nature in the mornings over breakfast.  The wildlife were the most abundant and willing to come close that we have seen thus far on a camping trip.  We also enjoyed the great rates ($16.50 per night with senior discount).  Lake Catherine is a great campground!

Lessons Learned:

  • Research the weather before booking trips!  We were in Branson a few summers ago and it was cool and comfortable. I foolishly thought that Hot Springs would not be too hot because it is relatively close to Branson and in the mountains.  This was flawed thinking!
  • If it is very hot, it is nice to have an outside fan.  We purchased an inexpensive box fan our first night and it helped a little with the heat and the bugs.
  • Our mini blower purchased at Marvin’s was nice to tidy up the campsite.  Though very small and inexpensive, but does a decent job.
  • If you are not spending a lot of time at a site, you don’t need a lot of stuff. Our set-up and takedown for this trip was very quick and easy because of this.
July 2017

Enjoy your summer!!

Tongue Weight–A Cautionary Tale

Our T@G is very lightweight and we pull it with mid-sized SUV, so we did not anticipate any towing issues. Our solution for hauling bikes created an issue related to tongue weight. Our earlier post, Bikes and Teardrop Camping–Our Solution, has been modified to include this new information. While what we originally had did not work, changing to a different receiver has been confirmed by E-Trailer to do the job!

We have hauled bikes with our teardrop by using a dual receiver, which enabled us to put a bike rack on the back of our SUV.

Bikes Towed with our Teardrop

When we ordered the bike rack, a customer service rep at E-Trailer explained that our dual hitch was splitting the towing capacity of the dual hitch into two amounts, each component one half of the capacity of the hitch.

Our dual hitch has a capacity of 400 lbs, so each component would have a capacity of 200 lbs.  Our trailer’s tongue weight is 160 lbs with LP and battery (less than 200 lbs) and our bike rack plus bikes weighed 100 lbs (again less than 200 lbs).

We also considered the capacity of our towing vehicle, which is 350 lbs.  One half of 350 is 175 lbs and as this is under the weight of our trailer for one component and the bikes for the other, we thought we were okay.

What we did not initially understand is that by using a dual hitch, the overall capacity of our towing vehicle was reduced.  My husband ordered the hitch on-line and was not aware of the impact of the hitch on tongue weight.   This left our towing vehicle with a capacity of 175 lbs and the tongue weight of our towing was 240 lbs.

Fortunately, we received feedback from members of camping groups on Facebook who are more knowledgeable than we and they alerted us to this problem.  However, because of the multiple things to consider, we were quite confused.

As I understand it now, if using a dual hitch, you have to compare the tongue weight of what you are hauling against two separate limitations.

1) The tongue weight capacity of the tow vehicle, reduced by 50% because the dual hitch is used.  In our case, this was 175 lbs.  Our total tongue weight was 240 lbs, and we had a real problem here.

2) The tongue weight of the dual hitch.  Our hitch has a tongue weight capacity of 400 lbs, with 200 lbs for each half.  At 160 for the trailer and 100 for the bikes, we did not have an issue with the hitch.

Because our SUV has a lower tongue weight capacity, it is the capacity that  must be used when determining our hauling weight.

We hauled our bikes on two camping trips that were relatively close to home.  The car handled well and there did not appear to be problems with the towing.  However, we had difficulty getting the leveling wheel off and on.   Also, the back tires on our SUV developed cupping. We had to replace our tires on the back sooner than we needed to replace the front tires.  We do not know that the excess tongue weight caused the tire issue, but we think it is the likely reason.

Now the good news!  I was communicating earlier with James Phipps, who is in a couple of teardrop groups on Facebook.  James and I communicated quite extensively about his concerns and he posed a question to E-Trailer to confirm his theory.  They confirmed that he was correct regarding the tongue weight issue but also offered two solutions that should be viable.  The response E-Trailer sent to James is below.

We could haul our bikes in much the same manner as we have in the past without exceeding tongue weight capacity if we just use a multipurpose ball mount instead of the dual hitch extender.

I would never have guessed that such a simple change could make such a difference.  If we were to use option 1 below, we would have a tongue weight of approximately 260 lbs and a capacity of our original 350 lbs. and will be well within our capacity.  Thank  you James for this information!

Options for hauling bikes

 

Bikes and Teardrop Camping–Our Solution

We implemented this process for towing our bikes with our camper, but have since learned that we were exceeding the tongue weight limits of our tow vehicle because of the dual hitch. This could work for those whose tow vehicle has a high tongue weight capacity, but does not work for us. See my follow-up post, Tongue Weight–A Cautionary Tale. A change to a different receiver will eliminate the tongue weight issue.

Soon after we began camping, we saw how nice it would be to have bikes with us on our trips.  We camp with friends who have much larger equipment and they routinely carry bikes, but it seemed a stretch for us.  We rented bikes on a couple of occasions and I was resigned to that option, but my husband kept searching for a solution.

He considered mounting them on the back of the camper, but we read that it is not a good idea to put a bike on the back.  We never saw any great options for an installation on top.  He had an idea of a dual receiver and was considering having a machinist make one but found a dual hitch on-line.  Below is the hitch that we used.  We have since learned that it reduces the overall tongue weight capacity of our vehicle by 50% and another hitch should be used.  See E-Trailer response below.

Our receiver caused a tongue weight issue, but according to E-Trailer, a change to a different receiver will enable us to carry our bikes.  We would choose Option 1.

Tongue weight limitations should be considered before any additional towing options are implemented.  See my post, Tongue Weight–A Cautionary Tale for additional information.

Options for hauling bikes
We exceeded our tongue weight capacity with this receiver

Next, we needed a bike rack that would work with both the camper and the hitch.  We discussed it in depth with a Customer Service Rep at E-Trailer and she helped us select a rack to carry our two bikes.

We purchased a Thule Vertex 2, 1 1/4-2 model bike rack.  Our bikes weigh about 30 pounds and the rack weighs 70 pounds.   The rack does a good job of carrying our bikes, but it does add extra steps in our hitching and unhitching process.

Bike Rack in Open Position

When we first set it up, the bikes moved around too much, which made me quite nervous.  However, they can be secured very well with two short bungee cords (purchased separately) and the adjustable strap that came with the bike rack.

Bike Rack and Securing Accessories

We had to add extenders to our safety chains because the dual hitch is longer than the standard.  We purchased the chain extenders and 3/8″ threaded connectors at Lowes.  We only use the dual hitch and extended chains if we are hauling our bikes.

Our Steps to Tow Bikes With Teardrop

  • Insert hitch into tow vehicle receiver using locking pins (one to tow vehicle and other to bike rack).
  • Attach camper to bottom receiver using appropriate-sized ball (not included with receiver).
  • Attach bike rack to top and insert locking pin (not included with receiver).
  • Attach largest bike to rack first and stabilize front and back wheel using a short bungee cord.
  • Attach second bike to bike rack and stabilize front and back wheel using second short bungee cord.  You may have to move the pedals a bit so they can fit snugly.
  • Wrap adjustable strap around both bikes and tighten the straps snugly while pulling bike frames toward the tow vehicle.
  • Hitching or unhitching with the bike rack adds approximately ten minutes to the process.

The process is reversed for the unhitch process.  We have taken our bikes on a couple camping trips and was not aware of issues with this method of transport.  We later learned about our tongue weight issue, but a change to a different receiver should solve the problem.

There are, no doubt, other ways to haul bikes with teardrops, but this has worked very well for us.  We hope it will help others who are interested in taking their bikes on camping trips.

Happy Camping!

 

Road Trip–A Wedding and the Alamo

We built a fairly elaborate road trip around a wedding we were attending in Houston. The teardrop was considered for the trip, but June in Texas would be very hot and we wanted to be in town for the many festivities. Our road trip focused on the cities of Lafayette, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; and San Antonio, Texas.

 

Houston Sightseeing

We drove straight through to Houston and on a longer path because of a tropical depression in the Gulf. It was almost 12 hours in the car and a record for me, however, we were not as exhausted as I would have imagined.  That night, we went out for dinner at the famous (with Houston family members) restaurant, Los Tios.

The next day some family members took us on a tour of Houston.  It was my first trip to Houston and it was greener and far more attractive than expected.  We spent most of our time in the downtown museum district.  There were enormous live oaks everywhere, which are my favorite trees.

With Our Hosts under Live Oak Trees

We rode a train around an enormous park in the area and visited the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural Science.  I have visited many museums around the world and have never seen so many dinosaurs in one place.  The Museum of Natural Science was very impressive.

Train Ride
Piece in Ron Mueck Exhibit
Only Triceratops Mummy in the World

The Wedding

The rest of our time in Houston was spent on wedding activities.  There was a bridesmaid’s brunch the next morning and a rehearsal dinner that night.  The wedding was the next evening and it was beautiful.  The bride and groom were so happy!   The reception was at River Oaks Country Club and included an awesome band, delicious food, and an open bar.  There were also Star Wars characters and light sabers, which the bride arranged as a surprise to the groom. We had breakfast with family the next day and then were on our way to San Antonio.

Rehearsal Dinner
Mr. & Mrs. John Barrere

San Antonio

Our hotel in San Antonio was on the outskirts of town.  We knew we wanted to see Riverwalk and the Alamo but did not realize that the Alamo was in the same area as River Walk.  It would have been much more convenient to have stayed at one of the Riverwalk hotels. If we go again, we will do that.

We took a Uber to Riverwalk that first night because we were not familiar with the area and wanted to be able to have a couple of drinks.  Riverwalk is very cool!  We had a nice Italian dinner at Paesanos and took a boat tour.

Riverwalk
Paesanos for Dinner

Our next day was all about the Alamo.  Only a portion of the original is still standing and sits right inside a heavily commercial area.  The Alamo played a very important role in Texas history and it was interesting to learn more about it.  Two famous Americans, James Bowie and David Crockett, died in the battle there.  The grounds behind the Alamo were incredible.  We took a guided tour and also explored it on our own.

The Alamo
Live Oak >200 years old at Alamo

We went to the San Antonio Botanical Garden the next morning and it was a beautiful place.  I highly recommend it to anyone traveling to San Antonio.  As it was raining, we rounded out the day with lunch at a local Mediterranean restaurant and a movie.

San Antonio Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden

Leaving San Antonio, we had lunch with our cousins in New Branfels, where their longtime vacation home is located.  It is a quaint resort town with cool restaurants and interesting shops.  I could see why they love to spend time there.  Our lunch was in an old building that was once a post office.  The food and company were outstanding!

Lunch in New Branfels

Traveling home, we stayed a couple of nights in Lafayette to break up the drive and also to check out the sights.  We toured Avery island, the home of the multi-generational family business that makes Tabasco Sauce.  We were able to view the manufacturing process and receive free samples.  One of the earlier family members established Jungle Gardens, a large Botanical Garden and bird sanctuary for the Snowy Egret, a bird that was in danger of extinction. It has flourished in the sanctuary.  We also saw an alligator, an armadillo, and some deer.

We ended the day with a movie (Wonder Woman) because it was raining and dinner at Bon Temps Grill.   Both were very good!

Avery Island Tabasco Sauce Factory
Bird City
Jungle Garden

We had a great time on this road trip to Texas and Louisiana and are looking forward to our next trip, which will be in our Tiny Trailer.

Happy Trails!

Naming the Teardrop

With a few camping trips under our belt and an idea of how camping will be for us, we were ready to name our teardrop. The approach was the same as I used for naming my children, start with a group you like and negotiate to something that works for both parties. We started with a dozen or so synonyms for “adventure” because it is what we are seeking.

We especially liked three or four names, but settled on “Endeavor.”   It seemed to fit our journey.   Webster’s meaning for the word is “to strive to achieve or reach.”  From the Thesaurus, “an effort to do or accomplish something.”  Related words are striving, struggle, throes, undertaking, trial and error.

The name certainly describes the challenge and effort that goes with teardrop camping, at least for us being new campers at our age.  It’s not like sitting comfortably in a spacious motorhome.   Ours is a much more hands-on, outside with nature form of RV camping that requires us to work together and compromise far more than we must do when at home.  It has gotten easier over time, but as we travel to more far away places and on longer trips, we will still need to endeavor.

My husband also liked the name because it sounds like a Trekkie name for a starship.  When you think of how our little cabin is our means to visit so many far away places, it fits.

A friend of ours owns  Stripe King, a local company that does graphics for police and fire vehicles, RVs, and boats.   We purchased our graphic from him and really like how it turned out.

You may have noticed that we do not have the @ in our teardrop’s name like you see on most T@Gs.  I wanted it, but my husband wanted just the regular letters.  As he has compromised so much for me, I had to let him have that one.

We are looking forward to a trip to Lake Catherine in Arkansas next month with Endeavor.

Happy camping!