Marilyn, June 2 – 20:
As Jim began to customize our Teardrop trailer, I began to conduct some online research to gather tips from seasoned teardrop and RV travelers. Getting ready involved creating the perfect plan for everything. How does that go? A place for everything and everything in its place – camp stove, bottle of bungees, Coleman fuel, locks… I even found a couple of printable check lists that came in handy. We began a show and tell tour to repurpose our camping gear that took us both down memory lane. I had worked for Eastern Mountain Sports and had quite a few items that would work. We hit Costco and Ikea acquiring a mattress topper, kitchen gear, chairs, a table and more. After reading several blogs about the perils and preparation for a successful trip, we made some adjustments. One story described the aftermath of slamming on the brakes. Two bottles of red wine and one of salsa went flying through the air, landing with unfortunate consequences. Ah, strapping everything down or discovering the beauty of plastic bins. This would prove to an important step later in the trip. Interesting issues popped up. Where do you put dirty shoes, when the entire floor becomes your bed each night?
A place for everything and everything in its place.
Jim, June 7 – June 21:
I wanted to add my ham radio and a solar power system and we were about 2 weeks from departure. The TenTec Triton II radio was mounted in an interior cabinet and connected to the antenna ball mount. A piece of 3″ PVC tubing, mounted outside in the rear, provided storage for the whip antennas and their coils. A weekend shopping trip to Costco yielded a 15 watt solar panel and charge controller that I connected to the existing trailer 12 volt system. Although we were likely to have 120 volt “shore power” when camping, the solar panel could provide power if we decided to set up camp in a remote area. Time to pack!
Ranch foreman, P.T., supervises
Galley view of teardrop trailer
Door/side view of teardrop trailer
Ham radio mounted in teardrop trailer
Solar panel for teardrop trailer
Teardrop electrical system with solar charge controller
Jim, June 1:
The Dallas/Fort Worth area is huge, so we had to take the Girl’s advice on a route to EZ-Toad. It turned out that Don (the maker) worked out of his home, and after introductions we got our first look at our trailer. We had seen photos during the build, but I wasn’t prepared for quite how beautiful the trailer was. Don was clearly a very skilled and careful craftsman. Self-deprecating, he apologized for having custom-made the side door. It seems he had run out of the factory-made models. To my eyes, the custom door was perfectly done with a fit and finish that rivaled the best work I’ve seen. It closed with a solid “thunk” that indicated both a good seal and lasting quality. The galley door, framed with tubular steel, was just as nicely done. We were both impressed.
Don had waited to complete one custom element until I was there to help: the antenna ball mount. I’m a radio amateur, and I wanted to mount a radio in the trailer for campground use. I helped him located the proper mount point and he quickly installed the mount. Perfection.
Jim meets Don at last
Jim tries it on for size
Marilyn – June 1:
At last it was time to go to Ft. Worth to pick up our very own teardrop. We left Dripping Springs on Sunday, June 1. We headed north on I-35, the major north–south Interstate Highway running from the United States-Mexico border to the Red River border with Oklahoma and as far north as Minnesota. The Interstate had been undergoing an extensive renovation and expansion project for years and traffic on a Sunday had become legendary. Jim suggested that we stop for Kolaches to prepare for the experience, a long-standing tradition with I-35 travelers. Kolache fever is nothing new in Texas, which has been home to a considerable Czech community since the mid 1800’s. A Kolach (plural kolache /kɵˈlɑːtʃi/, also spelled kolace, kolach, or kolacky), comes from the Czech and Slovak. We pulled into the town of West, Texas and The Czech Stop And Little Czech Bakery.
Onward, fortified by puffy pastry pillows from supple dough. We took directions from the disembodied female voice of the GPS that we would soon refer to as “The Girl.” We wound our way through neighborhoods of small, one-story houses until we found the home of EZ-Toad Trailers.
The Czech Stop and Little Czech Bakery
So many Kolaches and so little time
Even the cookies are more colorful in Texas
Our teardrop trail under construction
We discussed how much fun it would be to go to the Red Power Round Up in June in our very own Teardrop Trailer. There were a couple of problems however. I certainly wasn’t going to have time to build one in the available time and commercial models are quite expensive. I wasn’t sure about spending so much money just to see if we liked it. The handmade model we saw at one of the RV dealers was closer to what we wanted but still a little pricey. I looked all over the Internet, but it was the same story everywhere — teardrop trailers are a boutique item and command premium prices. Perhaps a used one would do.
The unfinished interior
Craig’s List was the next stop. It’s easy to search a town or geographic region — perfect since shipping a trailer across country isn’t easy. There were always a few teardrops listed, but nothing that really spoke to me. Then I noticed a listing from EZ-Toad Trailers. There was one available, in the right price range, but with no galley. A phone call confirmed a teardrop with a galley could be ready in time and modifications could be made to suit our preferences. I thought about it for a day or two, and called Don (the builder) back to complete the deal. A teardrop in four to six weeks!
Waiting was difficult but Don sent pictures every couple of weeks as the build progressed. We would drive to Fort Worth on June 1st to pick it up. We were now the proud owners of a custom-built teardrop trailer!
Unfinished teardrop – galley view
My long-delayed cookbook was finally out. I had started work on Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding a few years earlier. An interesting project featuring Irma Harding, International Harvester’s fictional spokesperson. The book combined original recipes, advertising and photos with new recipes. The publisher, Octane Press was going to promote it at the Red Power Roundup in Huron, South Dakota. The 25th annual celebration is where people from all around the world gather to share the history, products, literature and memorabilia of the International Harvester Company. We began to make travel plans.