After making some changes and adjustments, I headed out for my second trip in the T@G to the Texas Tiny Trailer Rally. It is an even sponsored by Princess Craft RV and was held at a campground on the San Marco River, October 19th through 22nd.
I would like to start by I can’t say enough nice things about Princess Craft RV. They sponsor the event and all you have to pay for is your campsite. The event is not limited to people who have bought trailers from them or just brands they buy. They welcome all tiny trailers from all over the US. They provided coffee in the morning, lemonade, a couple meals, tons of activities, tech talks and forums to earn from other campers, a band and even had techs on hand to help out any issues people might be having. Along with the staff from Princess Craft they also had two representatives from NuCamp on site, who make the T@G and T@B teardrop campers. Besides answering questions and helping people with issues they also served food, washed dishes and pretty much anything else they were asked to do to help. I highly recommend both business based on the level of customer service they presented at the rally.
I knew Bella and I would not get to leave until late Thursday so I made sure we had everything packed and ready to go the night before. Packing up went much smoother this time. Using the baskets for clothes made it much easier to pack and the space created by changing to the twin bed gave me plenty of space to put the crate, chairs, and other odds and ends without going on the bed.
The drive there was easy, but the setup was not. I still have not had a lot of practice backing up the trailer and a tiny trailer is much trickier than a large one. It did not help that the site where we were were about the wide of two parking spaces and it was DARK. Living in the city you forget just what dark really means. It’s never really DARK in the city. It’s a different story in the country. After many failed attempts I gave up and unhooked it and rolled it into place with the help of a fellow tint trailer camper.
After that hick-up the rest of the setup was easy. I got the stabilizers down, chock blocks out, water and power hooked up, the external shower curtain up and the port-a potty set out, filled with water and ready to go, all in about 15 minutes. Inside setup went fast too. I just had to unload the crate and chairs and hang the baskets up. They will not stay hanging while moving and it’s easier to put them up and down than to collect all the clothes after they fall.
The first night there was much better than the previous trip. There weren’t many mosquitoes so that was a win. The new mattress was also much better and let me tell you how much I love that port-a-potty. I never thought I would ever own one but at 2:00 am when I was at the back of the campground and it was DARK, that was the best money I had ever spent. I am going to find some kind of container for toiler paper though. I didn’t want to leave it outside because I figured it would get damp with the dew and I didn’t want it to fly off with the wind, but it never failed that I would forget it and the door the curtain is over would be locked because I lock them both at night. Still a minor issue compared to having drive, half asleep to go the bathroom.
There was one issue we are going to have to deal with though…..being territorial. We live in the middle of the city in one of the few places you can still have a decent size lot and yard, so there is a good amount of space between the house and the sidewalk. When I first adopted Bella we had to do some work with that. To begin with she sounded the alarm every time someone walked by on the sidewalk. Since we are in a big city I don’t want to make her stop barking completely, just learn when it was ok for people to be close. When the Jahovah’s Witnesses try to look in my windows when I don’t answer the door she is free to bark to her little heart’s desire, but we live by a University so barking at everything and everyone was going to get old.
Over time she has learned and generally only sounds the alarm when people come up the sidewalk towards the door and in the case of people like the mailman and UPS, she recognizes them and that they are OK. In the case of shall we call, less than reputable people, she will make sure they know they should not be closer than the sidewalk and bark until they move back to and “acceptable” distance. They usually do because when you can’t see her, she sounds way more viscous than an 11″ tall dog. Since our neighborhood is relatively quiet at night she will also alert me of any noises that get too close to the house for her comfort. Even though we live in the middle of the city we have opossums, squirrels and raccoons and she also “defends” the yard and deck against them, as well as cats that have the nerve to come into her yard. (She gets along with cats otherwise, but coming in her yard is unacceptable.)
At home all of these things make her a great guard dog. In a campground where people are sleeping in tents, walking to restrooms and the sites are close together, and there are all kinds of critters roaming around, not so much. The first night she sounded the alarm every time there was noise outside, someone walked by going to the bathroom, a dog got too close, reasons I could never figure out……pretty much all night. Even though I continued to say it’s ok she would like at me like “but mom they are too close to my stuff!” I think meeting the people and dogs around us helped some with this for the following 2 nights, but I can see it will continue to be a challenge with the tiny trailer. Like with the house I don’t want to stop her completely because on our first trip she sounded the alarm in the middle of the night and I discovered a fox drinking at the edge of the water behind the camper, just going to have to figure out to manage it.
The next morning I finally got to try out my tail veil. The results were wonderful! It is the best money I have spent for the trailer. I was able to set up the screen house part in 5 minutes. It fits over the clam-shell easily, then you just have to put down stakes and tighten the bungee cords around the camper. No tent poles or other assembly. I wasn’t sure how much space there would be inside without tent poles to hold up the outside edge but it was quite roomy. Later in the afternoon when it looked like it might rain I added the rain fly and it is just as easy. It goes over the screen house and has latches to attach it to the screen part. It provided mosquito free cooking and also allowed me to leave my kitchen setup out without the fear of something flying off with the wind or some kind of critter getting into stuff. Although Bella was still on “critter” patrol. She let all the other dogs in the campground know it was her tent and that they were not allowed in……or too close.
I will have to get something to lock the zippers together in the future. Turns out the Bella is a little escape artist. I got it setup and breakfast going and went to get dressed and thought I would just zip her in it. Yes, I made sure it was completely zipped and all the zippers were touching. I left her with some food, went to get dressed and when I pulled the curtain back and found her sitting outside waiting for me, wagging her tail, all proud of herself. Like she was saying “look what I can do!” On the bright side, I do know that she will not run off from the campsite. Not that I was really concerned as codependent as she is.
Once I had a good breakfast I finished setting up the shower. This was one item I ran out of time to fix before the trip. I tried a temporary solution, but it did not work. I got o-ring for all the water connections and a Y splitter for the gas bottle so I wouldn’t have to switch back and forth. What I did not do was figure out a way to stand up the heater. I tried a carabeaner to hang it from the front handle on the trailer. There were 2 problems with this. First, it was not high enough for all the hoses to be connected and not bent. Second, and I only realized this when someone else pointed it out, the pilot light would need to be level to light. I tried it out with what I had but despite hearing the clicking of the igniter the pilot light would never light.
I will have to work on these 2 items in the future, but as with the first trip, it was warm enough that a cold shower was fine. Once I get the hot water issues worked out, the shower should work great. The rod, curtain and suction cup shower head holder were great additions. The table for the wheel cover made a great place for everything I needed. I do have one other minor thing to work out. The curtain is not so great in the wind. The rod itself held up great and the clamps did not appear to move at all, but the curtain flies in the wind, which is not great when a breeze comes while you are trying to use the bathroom. I was considering using stakes to hold it down but another camper offered the idea of weighting it down. It is actually too long so I could sew in weights in the bottom and it would keep the easy mobility without having to deal with stakes.
Another consideration I am looking at is rain. The morning of the last day it rained and I had to get dressed inside. It’s doable since I am short, but a challenge. It also makes the port-a-potty unusable when it’s raining. In the future I may look at a way to cover the rod and add a plastic liner to use it in in climate weather. Both additions may also help keep heat in for use in the winter.
Overall things worked much better on this trip but I still continued to have problems with the visor. The extension I made with the small diameter PVC fixed the tension problem, but the wind present a new problem. The wind kept catching it and blowing it up and when it did the PVC would come off and half the rod would come out. My neighbor offered a great simple solution that seems to have done the trick. He brought a lot of binder clips for use when needed, which was brilliant and I can;t believe I hadn’t thought about it. He added one to the end of the visor to hold the pole in place and it stayed the whole weekend. Even held up to the rain and made the visor useful for it’s intended purpose.
Since things went much more smoothly I was able to enjoy this trip much more. Despite the heat and humidity it was a great weekend. I learned of some great places to check out as the open forum as well as a lot of modifications and ideas that would make my trips better and easier. The pot luck dinner was quite excellent too. It was a really good experience for Bella too. I am still certain that before I adopted her she had never been around other dogs much and didn’t know how to play. It took some time to warm up but she eventually made friends with the most of the other dogs (she was not forgiving the Chihuahua that came in her tent) and got along with them on all the camper tours and at the events. She also made friends with the people right around our campsite and would go lie to them that she wasn’t being petted enough or getting enough attention.
The best part of the weekend may be the camper tours. They make a schedule of tours over the two days for everyone to go see everyone’s campers and get a tour of their modifications, additions and decorations. Most of the weekend was spent looking at what other people did and finding things that I can use. I came back with a long list of things to try or buy. Mandy Lea photography took some short video of a lot of the mods and compiled them. The video can be found in the link below. Also, if you need a teardrop camper calendar to inspire you to get out and do more, she can help you with that too.