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KISS*t@b

*Keep It Simple, Sweetie!

The Backyard Campout

tent back yard figurine
Image from this store.

If you are new to the world of T@Bs and possibly other small RVs, you may not be familiar with this experience. But the fact is, one of the first things I read about any kind of teardrop purchase was to driveway camp. Backyard camp. Sleep out in your teardrop and figure out–most importantly–how to make your bed so comfortable, you never want to sleep in a motel room or hotel room again.

And yes, it can be done! Those with full-time beds can even put a custom mattress inside. Those, like us, who make our beds up in the morning find other ways to sleep. You may find your upholstered seats [that form the mattress at night] are perfectly comfy. The easiest way by far to make bed is just unroll a sleeping bag on that foundation and sleep!

back yard view T@B
View of the back yard wilderness!

We knew we were going to be more difficult to accommodate than that. Remember, we gave up tent camping after thirty years of it. Our joints did that partially in order to find a much better bed to sleep on every night!

So we did what so many do–we use a memory foam mattress topper. When we broke up my mother’s house, I took the memory foam topper off her bed. She swore by that topper, and how comfortable it made her bed. She’d had it a few years. We tried it in our T@B the first time we backyarded it. At first it felt glorious. But then, it had been well-used, and before the night was over I realized we needed a new one of our own. We made a big mistake then. We threw it away. Looking back, we wish we’d cut it into small pieces to use for our dogs’ beds! The would have loved it!

We ordered one from Amazon [link to come]. It came in a box, very compacted, very heavy. I left it in the box for weeks, thinking we might change our mind and send it back, but finally bit the bullet, opened it, spread it out, and let it rest for a couple of days. Then we put it in the T@B, made up the bed, and that night? We slept on it.

Oh my. Now THAT is comfortable. [No, not everyone agrees. Each person has to find their own comfort. But memory foam toppers rank high among RVers, and we are among those who hold them in high esteem!]

lights on T@B
Yes, I even put lights on the T@B in the back yard!

We still had a problem, though. We needed to figure out whether to sleep with our heads toward the front of the T@B [the galley and wetbath] or the back of the T@B [which in our case, means under the cabinets!]. Seems obvious, right?  Who wants to sit up and hit their head on birch cabinets–even if those cabinets are made by Amish craftsman?

Well, a couple of nights experimenting proved us wrong. We found it very awkward getting in and out of bed when our heads were toward the front. Plus, it meant that if we watched a bit of television [we were in our own backyard, after all] when we were ready to go to bed, we had to stow the telly against the wall, spin around in the other direction, and punch pillows and such until we settled in.

We eventually found ourselves much happier when we turned around and slept with the cabinets overhead. You figure it out pretty quickly, and when I do roll over in the night and my arm bumps the cabinet, it’s never hard. I just shift and keep going and am right back asleep in no time.

This means now when we settle in for the night, our dogs are under the bed [under the dinette table that collapses to form part of the bed, but has a nice little cave under there for them to snuggle in. Yes, we provide blankies or other soft things for them to sleep on, and if it’s cold, they are in the warmest spot because there is an outlet for the Alde heater under there].

roxy sleeping in T@B
Roxy thinks we are being divas about this sleeping thing.

We, on the other hand, usually will be sitting up in bed, with the back dinette seat still raised. [Yes, it has to be flat to make the bed, but once we make the bed, we raise it for reading, watching telly, chatting.] And when we’re ready to sleep, we lower it and… sink back and do just that!

Now, it’s a lot easier [and a lot of fun] to figure this very vital part of T@B sleeping when you’re at home. If you need something, you run inside and get it. There’s no pressure.

Because once you’re on the road for possibly the first time? You’ll be coping with so many new things if you’ve never RVed before, having a bad night’s sleep might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  Whereas, if you pull into a campground for the first time, find yourself struggling a bit to figure everything out, and then snuggle into the best bed you can create, knowing the drill?

Everything is so much lovelier when you wake up in the morning! You’ll realize, you know what? If you can create this awesome bed and sleep like a baby all night, the rest will fall into place, too. It just takes a bit of actual camping to do the rest.

HOWEVER!

backyard company
We’ve earned our badge! Have you?

I have personally tested backyard camping beyond the bed. I’ve cooked three meals a day outside, and invited Mr Sam’sChick into T@B to eat. We’ve watched football games there on the weekend. We’ve had fun in our backyard, using the T@B.

But I do believe working out the bed situation is the most valuable thing you can do.

And then there are days like this one, where it’s stormy all around. The worst of the storms–the hail, lightning, etc.–are passing west of here. But we’re getting some lovely cool breezes and rain.

And the dogs and I are in the T@B with all the windows open, watching the rain and soaking in the glorious fresh air.

I hope your day is going as well!

 

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A T@Bavan!

One thing that makes reading Postcards from the Road a lot of fun is that not only is SplashT@b in it–so are a lot of Splash’s friends.

Pictures like this make me grin.

6 Lined Up In Parking Lot

 

Green Camping – Casita Escape’s Most Excellent Primer

The first thing that drew my eye on the Casita Escapes blog was the label, Green Camping.

I had already done some of these things,  and some of my solutions are different, but oh my gosh, these rules for the most part hit me right between the eyes.

I shudder to admit how many times I break this one, maybe intending it to be only a few seconds, but those seconds grow longer:

NEVER LEAVE THE WATER RUNNING UNLESS SOMETHING IS UNDER IT.

Mind you, Mr Sam’sChick points this out to me. I guess it’s true. A prophet is never appreciated in his own neighborhood. I needed somebody new to point it out to me. Or maybe just present it in such simply and unavoidable terms that I couldn’t dodge it!

Different people handle coffee in different ways. The Casita Escapes folks recommend “pouring boiling water into a filter with coffee grounds placed in a  regular electric coffee maker basket and let the coffee drain into a thermos to keep it hot.” This eliminates cleaning coffeemakers which saves water, and also keeps coffee hot for hours, so you don’t have to make more or heat up the old.

Since I drink a cup at a time, and usually only one a day, for me that’s overkill. Instead, I use a ceramic drip coffee filter  with a paper filter. The paper and coffee can go straight into the compost, or the coffee straight into the garden. At worst, if it gets thrown in the trash, perhaps it will help break down the less environmental things around it? One can hope.

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His tea and my coffee, one cup at a time.

And while the Casita Escapes folks recommend wiping down your dishes with a paper towel before washing them? We have dogs who enjoy taking care of that step!

We’ve also used the baking soda and vinegar ‘potions’ for various things at home, but haven’t done so when camping. Time for that to change!

What are some of your green practices while camping?

Tyler State Park [TX] March 2016

We first camped at this gorgeous park in our tent. We came here in the autumn, and again the following spring before we bought our T@B. We found out that our dogs were great campers. We always follow the rules and NEVER let our dogs offleash.

Fall of 2015 we camped here with our T@B for the first time. We were very sad that we could no longer camp in the lovely Red Oak camping area which overlooks the lake and is tent only. But we were extremely happy with the Cedar Point Campground which is mixed tent and small trailer. This is where the glory of a small trailer comes in. In our admittedly limited experience, the most beautiful areas are tent areas because so much ground has to be cleared for big rig trailers, and leveled, as well.  So a place that combines tent and trailer is generally our favorite kind.

Our first night

When we decided to go to TSP on this particular weekend, the only sites they had available were at the Big Pine Campground which is big rig city. It is a large oval with full hookup sites on the interior and perimeter sides of the road.Tyler State Park Big Pine Campground If you’re making reservations, the interior is a very wide, open space with some trees. The perimeter is, for the most part, surrounded by woods so gives you the option of some prettier views when you are looking in that direction. We ended up on the inside. It was fine. We were going to stay two nights, and were happy to be there.

This picture is deceptive because it doesn’t show that most of the open area is grassy. Mud would definitely be an issue if it rained, though.

But even though we were only staying one more night, it’s so easy to move and set up the T@B that we decided to check and see if there would be any open sites on possibly the prime camping loop in the park: Lakeview Campground. It is for tents and small trailers. There were open sites. We moved.

Was it worth the trouble? You tell me.

Tyler State Park T@B Lakeview Campground

From this angle? Maybe not so big a deal. But I point out that because the surface was smooth and the T@B is so easy to turn, we unhooked it, rolled it into place and turned it until we had great views from all windows!

Tyler State Park Lakeview Breakfast

The view from breakfast at the picnic table. Note use of color-coordinated kitchen things!

Tyler State Park Lakeview View from Picnic Table

Another view from the picnic table. This is a very large site with a very long pull-in for those with big rigs.

Tyler State Park Lakeview Views from inside T@B

The view from inside the T@B.

We thought it was worth moving. So worth moving, we stayed two extra days and only left because somebody had reservations.

Conclusion?

Tyler State Park is a lovely little jewel of a park in East Texas. It is heavily wooded and hilly and worthwhile year round because so much of it is covered with pine trees and other evergreens. The summers will be hot, as you might guess. It has great hiking, mountain bike trails, a swimming beach, rentals for rowboats, canoes, kayaks and paddle-boats, hot showers and other amenities. You won’t be sorry you stayed here!

 

How the Galley Gave Me a Color Scheme

Sort of. It began with a color–green. I decided that since the interior of our T@B was neutral-ish but had a touch of green in it, and I love green, I’d simply buy things that were that green. It’s not hard. It’s a popular green right now. But that led to pillows that were patterned green and white, which I am not positive look good with the weird pattern on our fabric. But I like it.

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But the T@B really came into her own when I noticed the set of trays that I’d had for a couple of years, that also had that green in them, along with other colors. And I started using them to carry things in and out between house and T@B. And finally left one out here all the time, and used it to add other colors.

The green soap dispenser was white plastic when I bought it. I painted it that green. And against the tray? Very nice.

The tray led to dishes in those colors.I even buy dish soap in those colors. The microfiber drying mat was bought when I was sticking to green and white patterns. IMG_3053But hey, it’s all good, right?

The color scheme now has orange and red and yellow. Very  bright and cheerful. I love it. I love bright colors.

I still stick to that green for as many things as possible, largely because it’s easy to find. We even have a great aluminum roll-top table that shade of green. So, no glamping here. No frills everywhere, or painting everything in sight, or recovering everything, or showing off collections of cute stuff I love. I am too lazy to keep up with all that.

So the question becomes… did the galley give me the color scheme? Or did I choose it when I chose that green, and then figured out that I already had stuff in my kitchen that was that shade? Or did the plastic trays give me the scheme?

I’ll still claim it was the galley, because it wasn’t until I saw that tray stacked beside the sink that everything came together.

But you could also say my muse has been tempting me with those colors ever since I was attracted to that cheap set of trays a few years ago, even though they didn’t go with anything had at the time.

Besides. Bright colors!

 

*Keep It Simple, Sweetie!

 

Youtube Is Your Friend

Our problem with youtube and T@B info is that we overwhelmingly found Little Guy and RV dealers giving guided tours. This is fascinating once or twice, but it can become overwhelming. When you first look for a T@B camping trailer you’ll find so many options, and sometimes the various youtube tours muddle together until you’re more confused than informed..

I’ll leave that up to you to work out. [Yes, I’m very helpful that way.]

What I am sharing here go beyond the initial walk-through demonstrations. These are useful links from owners who have put a lot of work into sharing how they use and/or upgrade their T@Bs.

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Dutchman T@B, Copyright PunkToad on Flicker, click for original

One of the most confusing issues you’ll find if you’re new to T@Bs is that there are so many different varieties, even though they are all essentially the same! The original T@Bs, made by Dutchman, had no wetbaths, for example. They have more wood in their construction. They are beloved and still in great demand, in no small part because so many of them are in lovely colors.

Richard Lewis is the original guru of all things early-T@B and many upgrades. Many of the things he designed ended up incorporated into later T@Bs. He has a collection of videos for you. He also wrote a great book for T@B-owners, which is available for download to read on Kindle or a Kindle-app. If you have a Dutchman T@B you’ll want this book. A lot of his tips are great for any T@B.

Sometime in 2010 Little Guy took over the T@B line, and changes have continued. To the best of my knowledge, this is when the wood framing and flooring joists and subfloors were replaced with aluminum and other materials that are impervious to rot. The interiors didn’t change substantially, but they keep bringing in new modifications and options. For example, a wetbath is now an option.

Also, they will do any custom color you want! So if you don’t want the standard offerings that you can find on a dealer’s lot, you can special order. And Little Guy has its own youtube channel where you can watch those walk-through guides. Pay attention to when they were posted so you’ll know which year you’re watching.

Now, returning to T@B-owners who love to share the love… talk about Extreme T@B Makeover! This guy bought it, gutted it, added a fireplace and sofa and… well, you’ll have to see for yourself on his two-parter. The beginning and the results! He includes some really cool ideas for any T@B in the second video.

And finally, Jenn Grover has a fabulous blog that demonstrates all things technical, and a small but growing list of videos, such as how to get your television audio to play through your stereo speakers, assuming you have the Jensen units that are a T@B option. She’s constantly updating, so expect this rich resource to become even more valuable.

As for us? I have been most fascinated by “stuff” and how people store it. How they use their limited inside space. We’ll be posting our own videos from time to time, as well!

 

*Keep It Simple, Sweetie!

 

 

 

 

Why KISS*?

green table Beavers Bend
T@Bbing while KISS*ing does not have to mean being  spartan without a luxury or two!

As we’ve read forum discussions and pored over shared images, we’ve seen some amazing T@B setups. Some T@B floor plans don’t have the wetbath ours has, and they have more counter space and storage. People take microwaves and/or toaster ovens with them. They have their favorite coffee-makers and even decorative items.

Outside they have various tents, awnings, and setups.

In addition, we’ve attended some teardrop group meetups and seen elaborate outdoor arrangements. One included a large metal pagoda with awning, standing propane grill, fire pit, two seating arrangements, and more! It was awesome. Sitting out by the lake with their teardrop to sleep in looked like ultimate luxury in the outdoors.

But as I looked at it, I thought of all the work involved. The bed of their big pickup was filled with all the extras they brought with them when they camped. Awesome, yes. Work, oh yes.

And that’s what we knew from the beginning we wanted to avoid.

Our reason for getting a teardrop was to make camping simpler. Instead of a major endeavor each time we struck out, we wanted the ability to go on the spur of the moment.

Keeping it simple will obviously vary from one person to the next. Keeping it simple shouldn’t feel like sacrifice. If having a countertop icemaker is vital to your comfort and enjoyment in the heat of the summer, by golly, you should should find a way to take it along. (We have!)

But perhaps by sharing some of our false starts and ultimate successes, we can help you find your own way to T@B (or use any other trailer or RV) delight!

 

*Keep It Simple, Sweetie!

Why a T@B?

About those videos

Youtube is the best place to research. People show you how “easy” something is and you get to say, “That’s my style!” or, “Not easy enough.”

As we said, pop-ups seemed to be more involved than we’d anticipated. And just as we came to that conclusion, we discovered this video, and teardrops.

It was perfect! It was everything we wanted!

That took us to Little Guys, and we almost bought a Silver Shadow. We would have been happy with one. But we kept thinking ahead a few years, and how a toilet might end up making a big difference in our comfort.

And that’s what led us to a T@B!

The Little Guy products are made amazingly well. We have seen many other campers of similar size, and larger, as well. While each has its strengths, the T@B is solid, extremely well designed, and ultimately superior by our estimation. There will be more specifics about them in later posts.

But most important–after a couple of years of monitoring the T@B forum on the Little Guy website and the T@B Facebook page that isn’t affiliated with the manufacturer, we’ve seen that Little Guy stands behind their products and gives amazing customer service.

Also, fellow T@Bbers are a community of support and friendship with advice at the ready any time you have a question, whether you’re just beginning to look or have owned your T@B for years.

So join us as we take off on our T@B journeys, doing our best to KISS* all the way!

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*Keep It Simple, Sweetie!

We are now “those” kind of people.

We are new T@B owners, and we entered this adventure in small living with one mantra–keep it simple!

interior-tent

We tent-camped for over thirty years and loved it. We looked at people in RVs as those kind of people.

You know the kind… the people who sit inside their Winnebago and watch their campfire through the window. [Yes, true story.] The people who can’t leave civilization behind and take DVD players, icemakers and microwaves with them in that house they drive down the road. Those people who don’t know what it’s like to be outdoors, because to them outdoors is what they step out into every morning.

Those kind of people have never heard the night sounds in the mountains, or experienced a windstorm in a tent. Their idea of outside is only one degree wilder than those who consider a Holiday Inn ‘roughing it.’

And then one morning we woke up and knew that our days of lugging tents and the paraphernalia that goes with them [sleeping bags, dishes, pots and pans, queensize, self-inflating airmattress <– we tented, but that doesn’t mean we slept on the hard, cold ground!–Coleman stove, coolers, boxes of food and cooking equipment] to camp. Our time for tent-camping came to a screeching halt.

Except we are still the same people we always were. We weren’t looking for a house to park in the state and national parks. We still wanted to spend our time outside. But we wanted a bed that didn’t make our backs hurt, and all of our gear stowed and ready so if we decided to go somewhere, all we had to do was get in the car and go.

We started off thinking we wanted a pop-up trailer. The pop-up would give us the best of both worlds. We’d still be outdoors with a tent over our heads, but off the ground with all of our camping gear there. Years ago I watched with envy as a neighbor came home from each camping trip, laundered her sheets and towels, ran her dishes through the dishwasher, and packed everything into the pop-up so that next trip, all they had to do was hitch up and go.

I love youtube.

That is not the nonsequitor that it might appear to be.

We only had to watch two or three youtube videos to see that putting up a pop-up trailer wasn’t as easy as putting up a pop-up awning! [Note: pop-up awnings are supposed to be very fast and easy to put up, almost like an umbrella. We don’t know because we don’t have one yet. Our KISS* philosophy in action.]

We might be turning into those kind of people, but we were doing it on our own terms.

We kept looking.

*Keep It Simple, Sweetie!

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