Saturday, December 29, 2012

Florida, here we come

The Teardrop repairs are complete, the lights are all working and it's inspected. Bam.

Packing it up and leaving for Florida on January first or second.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mind the gap

Alright, time to address the gap between the bottom of the galley and the hatch.

I ripped a few pieces of wood to 3/16" thick and laminated them together creating a shim to fill in the ridiculous gap at the bottom.

The gap is at the last 8" of the hatch and increases from 1/2"  to  1-1/2" at the bottom.

The curve is very slight so it was quite easy to bend the wood to shape. You just attach it to the hatch itself, let the glue dry, then take it off. This is what it will look like:

I primed and painted the shims with marine-grade paint. Did I mention it was exterior grade???

There were still some gaps, so I ripped a few more pieces and glued them in.  This is what it looks like:

I made graduated steps to fill in the remaining gaps, applied exterior caulk, then screwed it down with exterior grade screws. Notice the theme there: exterior grade everything.

Now I need to install the weather stripping on the hatch, and I should have a pretty tight seal.

I need to figure out how to keep the hatch closed now. Currently I'm using a hasp and it's not lining up anymore.

Yeah, what the hell is a hasp, right? I didn't know until 5 minutes ago myself.  It's that piece of hardware in the picture on the right. It swings over the other piece (which isn't there) and locks. Hasp. I learn something new and trivial every day.

Anyhow, the male part can't go on the hatch where it used to, so I bought a gate hinge. Let's see if I can MacGvyer something up.  I'm betting that I can.

Time for a cocktail!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Paint, paint and paint

Time for some Rust-Oleum Topside marine-grade oil paint. I applied five coats.

This stuff is great. It goes on thick and acts as a leveler for uneven surfaces.

This stage is complete.

Next up: dealing with the gap at the bottom where the hatch and galley meet.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rain diverters for the hatch hinge

Now that the hatch hinge is sealed on the ends, it's time to make a rain diverter.

It's really easy to make, all you need is a piece of aluminum angle iron and a few tools.  You cut it with a band saw, hack saw, or tin snips, and then smooth it with a metal file.

I shaped aluminum angle to the side profile of the hinge then cold-welded it onto the hinge and side. You want zero water infiltration at the sides, and this is one way to prevent it.

The better way is keeping your hinge long enough to overhang by about 1/2" on each side - but, I'm way past that point!   -insert swearing here-

Again, it's not pretty, but it's not going anywhere and water shouldn't get in.

I used JB Weld. It's an epoxy that's incredibly strong in every condition you throw at it, at least any condition a Teardrop trailer can throw at it.

It feels like I might be in the home stretch of reapirs now.

Progress is good, progress is good (repeat).


Friday, December 21, 2012

Fix the hatch hinge

Well, this looks fantastic, doesn't it?! Not.

I'm not really sure how this happened.  There should be no hole there. It looks like I made the cut for the hatch 1" too soon.

However it happened. It's bad - very bad - and it's like this on both sides.

My answer was Bondo.  I blocked the inside with a piece of plastic and filled in the hole.

Bondo is an incredibly stable filler. If it works on vehicles in every climate, it'll work on the Teardrop.
Not the prettiest repair in the world, but the hole is gone.

Making a rain diverter is next. It will function like a gutter on the ends of the hatch hinge.

Did I hear someone pop a champagne bottle? I'll be right there...


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Time to prime and paint

The galley and hatch having been drying out for 2 weeks now. 

Today I sanded and primed the bottom and sides of the galley interior.

Next up: Marine grade oil paint, more caulk, and addressing the gap in the sides where the hatch hinge is, which I've been avoiding.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Water damage repair

I found more water damage on the bottom of the hatch.  I chiseled out the rot and let it dry for a few days before filling it in.

I keep coming back to the same thought: What the hell was I thinking not finishing bare wood?

What. The. Hell?  -sigh-

The good thing about building something from the ground up is just that - YOU built it.

You know how everything goes together and how everything could come apart. You get too see all the flaws and all the successes of your build.  So when something goes wrong or breaks you know how to fix it.

I know exactly what to do and not to do next time I build a Teardrop.

I patched the hole with exterior grade filler. I'll cut a piece of wood to fill in the remaining void. That piece will be primed and painted on all sides and then epoxied in.

Time for some champagne, because I like bubbles.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More hatch repairs

Here we have our major offender: the hatch hinge that was cut too short, and a gap rivaling the size of the Delaware Water Gap. Time to scrape and sand. What was I thinking? This is a HOLE!

Are you judging me? Well, it won't be more than I judge myself, so bring it on!  :)

Our second offender is the bottom of the hatch where it just doesn't have a good seal; there's a gap at the sides.
I started laminating thin strips of wood to fill in the gap a bit so this is phase one.

Live and learn, live and learn...


Monday, December 17, 2012

Teardrop building tip 1,129,989

Building a Teardrop trailer?

Seal every single wooden surface really, really well. This means end grain, too. Seal, seal, seal. You want to make it waterproof inside and outside. It's not impossible; you just need to be thorough.

Use paint on the galley side walls, floor and hatch interior. Use a thick, oil paint. Water will most likely find its way in at some point, dripping down a wall and puddling on a flat surface so make sure it's all waterproof.

Caulk every single seam, anywhere two pieces of wood meet. Seal it up.

That's my speech of the day.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Water damage be damned!

Well, I'm dragging my feet on this and we're leaving for Florida for a one month trip on January 2, so it's time to get my rear in gear.

I moved the Teardrop into the shop to assess the water damage in the galley and it's been raining ever since, so good timing on that.

At first I thought I might get away with doing a "little" repair, but this is like washing one spot on a dirty white wall. You just can't do one spot. There's no easy fix here.

First, I let a fan dry it out for 2 days.  Then I got out a scraper and some chisels. Fun times.

Water is getting in on the bottom of the hatch - gotta fix that.

The top of the hatch is leaking, too! Boo, leaks, boo!

I had to let it sit for a week and stare and think and stare and think some more before I moved forward.  I've removed all rotten and wet wood. Next steps are filling voids with Bondo or exterior wood putty, and sealing every crack and every spot where two pieces of wood meet, then painting the galley sides and floor with marine paint.

I also have to address the lower half of the hatch not making contact with the trailer when closed; There's a gap of about 1/2".

More soon -


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hatch still leaking

So, I taped the living hell out of the hinge with heavy duty insulation tape. The kind of tape that is rubbery and sticky on one side and shiny, silver on the other.

This is what I get for not really addressing the problem - it still leaks.

So, on to the next attempt at a fix - Z channel.  How can this NOT work, how? Don't answer that, don't burst my bubble. This really looks like the fix, something that covers the entire hinge and overhangs on each side. The overhang is the most important part of this. Consider this a gutter, like the gutter on a house that takes water away, that's what we're going for here. Away with you rain water, AWAY!!

If you're building a teardrop and reading this remember to cut your hatch hinge with a nice overhang on each side 1-1/2" or so should do it. Learn from my error.

Wish me luck.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

More shelves, more shelves!

Tiny spaces require creative storage.  I have some loose rules regarding storage: optimize the space, avoid placing things where someone will hit their head, try to work with what you already have, and go vertical, even if it's only four feet high.

I've found that stacking items in the Teardrop is very inefficient. Easy access is a requirement in a tiny space, so stacking doesn't fit the bill.

It's amazing how much more space is created just by adding one shelf in a twelve-inch high cabinet.

Adding this shelf means we can grab a bowl, a glass, or a plate without moving things around.

And really, when I want a gin and tonic, I don't want to fumble around for it.

Adding this shelf to the overhead cabinet in the cabin almost doubled the amount of space I have for clothes. Strange, but true. Though I am a bit of a fanatical folder. I can't help it.

The same goes here, stacking sucks in small spaces.

Separate stuff out as much as possible. You'll be happier.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Improved galley doors

Now, why didn't I think of this sooner? Why?

Hinged doors are not a good idea for many reasons. Most hinges aren't designed to bang down the road at 65 miles an hour, sooner or later they'll break. Secondly, they opened inconveniently right over the counters, making the counters less useful. Silly, silly me.

After a year of having to move things around every time I needed to open a door I came up with this.

Drawer slides. Yup. Full extension that slide up and out of the way.

Well, isn't that just swell? No more counter juggling.

There's a cotter pin at the top that slides out to hold the door up.

The middle door is still hinged. I like the look of it, and that door is very, very light (Butternut). Less chance of the hinge breaking.

Now on to adding more shelves...


Thursday, May 24, 2012


This is our trash after five days of camping.  It's basically the plastic bags the ice came in and a plastic wrapper from a piece of cheese. By the way, we're not trying to make zero trash, this is how we do it at home, and this is how we do it away.

I noticed that most campers produced a full bag of trash - every day. I find that to be unacceptable and lazy. Lazy is one of my pet peeves. I tend to lump a lot of things into the "lazy" category.

Not only that, some campers just threw away everything: redeemables, recyclables, wet sleeping bags, 'disposable' items. It's like magic! It just disappears when you throw it in a dumpster! Poof!

There is no excuse. You are your trash, consider it a mirror.


Bicycling trails in Lewes

We bicycled on the Junction and Breakwater Trail while in Lewes. Round trip was about 18 miles from Cape Henlopen State Park.

It's a really nice trail. One leg of it is still being finished, but it's tightly crushed gravel and easily ridden on even with skinny tires.

Directions on how to get there were a bit sketchy. No one really knew where it started. We picked it up right after the High School on Route 9 at a traffic light. 

The motorists in the area were a bit moronic when it came to bicycles. They gave no leeway, and drove far too close to bicycles. Not very safe. Fortunately, the breakdown lanes are very large. I found myself hugging the right of the breakdown lane when on the highway.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dewey Beach

Dewey Beach is one of the ONLY beaches on the East coast that allow dogs to run free, without a leash. I have to say that I completely understand why dogs are not allowed on beaches.

During the Summer dogs are allowed on the beach after 5:30, that's about the only restriction.

A one time fee of $15 and your pooch can romp on the beach. Money well spent for our little water lover.

But, please, pick up your dogs poop, don't be "that" person.  There's no excuse, poop bags are right there next to the trash can.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

....and then they arrived...

Our first night was lovely, peace and absolute quiet except for the Chuck-will's-widow at dusk. I've never actually seen one of these birds, but their call is unmistakable.

Afternoon number two arrived with the sounds of four teen-age boys setting up camp right behind us. Oh. No. Here. We. Go.

They came over and told us that if it got "too loud" to just let them know. Oh, how nice. Amelia told them if they're warning us about being loud, maybe they should find another site. I generally just scare people with silence. Why does silence scare people? I don't know, but it works. Sometimes. They stayed next to us.

At three a.m. the little rodents were still wide awake, guzzling Natural Light beer, breaking tree limbs down, running around shirtless with torch-like objects, and hurling themselves repeatedly into something trying to break it. Four words came to mind for me: Lord of the Flies. It's all fun and games until Piggy is dead.

The morning after:
Four teenagers, eight hours.

With the Conch nowhere to be found, the Crows and Grackles declare war over the carnage.

There's always a silver lining.  Most people, regardless of age, can't party like that every night. There is an ancient camping proverb, "Hangovers make night two a quiet and early one."

In the morning, Amelia let them know that yes, you were loud and obnoxious, and no, we aren't here to police you, you need to police yourselves.

As fate would have at, at 11:00 that night, they packed up in the dark and left.  Good-bye Jack, good-bye Roger, good-bye Beast, good-bye Conch. And R.I.P. Piggy.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Cape Henlopen cute cabins

Amelia and Eesah went to investigate the new cabins at Cape Henlopen State Park. Looks like they'll be ready for Memorial Day week-end.

No water or bathroom, just a kitchen/dining room, and living/sleeping room. Each one has air conditioning though, which you're going to need very soon.

I really like the screen porches.

I love tiny houses.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Eat my sausage

On our way back home a friend suggested we check out Helen's Sausage House. Amelia has a slew of face swelling allergies so she couldn't eat any sausage. She had chicken salad, while it wasn't exciting, it didn't kill her or make her face swell up.

I had the sausage, egg and cheese sandwich. It was HUGE. It was really cheap, under eight dollars for both of our sandwiches. But, I have to admit, I expected something better. The sausages were filled with several preservatives, the cheese was a bright orange tasteless goo-fest, and the eggs I couldn't taste at all.

If you're looking for cheap roadside food, this is your place. It just wasn't my thing. But, when you're traveling some things are about the experience. This is one of them.

I guess I'm spoiled. I get bread, eggs, sausage and cheese back home from farmers less than five miles away with no fillers and no preservatives, no crap.  Just good old fashioned unadulterated food.


Cape Henlopen Site

Our site and Cape Henlopen.

Trip saver

We're back! In Delaware.

We arrived a full month later than last year due to that nasty April snow storm. May is quite different than April.

We made reservations and went with site number eight, a seemingly innocent little site tucked back from the road about 20 feet. Looked really nice last year... Well, this year it was the only row in the entire campground that was filled. It was spilling over with strange, silent staring people, five tents next to us on one site, screaming children on trikes and bikes. (Shouldn't they be in school?)

Side rant:  You know when you go to see a movie and only a handful people are in the theater, but some nimrod has to sit next to you, maybe two seats away, but too damn close when virtually every seat is available. What is this about? I have ideas, but I won't bore you with my philosophy on the needy pack mentality of humans.

After a quick visit to the camp office we found another site. Hurray! We were the only campers in our new row. Boo! It was 8:30 at night, and started to downpour. The rain drops were the size of small dogs - Pomeranian-sized rain drops.

 I will not lie. Things like setting up camp in the rain can create really tense situations. It's not fun. The good news is that we're pretty quick and efficient at getting the job done.

The Northern Breeze tent was the first thing to go up, and it goes up in minutes. This thing is ah-may-zing.

It's a waterproof shelter that's also a screen tent, and two sides have large awnings. The footprint is 12'x12'. This is larger than most of the rooms in my tiny house, so I feel right at home. This tent is a trip saver. It can handle whatever you throw at it: cold weather (in Maine we zipped the sides down and it was downright toasty inside), wind, bugs, and....Pomeranian-size rain drops.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Never ending upgrades and tinkering

I have a list.

When you spend a month in a 40 square foot space, you take notice of things that could make things easier.

Small things, from having dedicated shelves for plates, to more complex things, like making a dog sleeping area on the trailer tongue, are constantly bouncing around in my overactive brain.

It's winter and cold, so I'll start with smaller, less time consuming upgrades.

Packing takes a few hours, so anything that can make packing a quicker process I am all over. When packing the Teardrop you have to consider possible breakage. Things can't be haphazardly stuffed in, glass can't be against glass, nothing can be loose, everything basically has to be tied down and tied in.

My first modifications I dedicate to Amelia Sauter, packing Queen. They will be three dedicated shelves; one for plates, one for bowls, and one for food. Right now the galley has no shelves, just three doors concealing three wide open areas.

One of the many mantras of working with small spaces - optimize vertical space, go up. Even on the tiniest of levels like a Teardrop trailer, there's more storage to be mined out.

This is my mission, and I choose to accept it.


First trip of the year

I wish I could say it's been a long winter, but it hasn't been. We didn't really have winter. In fact, we hardly burned any wood this year, less than a cord. Pretty amazing, and pretty disturbing. The snow we finally got was in April, and it did a number on all early blooming trees and shrubs.

I could roll right into glooming and dooming about the world, but that's not what this blog is about...

We're planning our first trip of the year, and decided to go back to Cape Henlopen in Delaware. We're going a few weeks later than we did last year, so we're hoping for no stupid people antics.

Unfortunately, we must prepare for the worst because the campground had limited sites available.   -le sigh-

 Hey, you never know, we have had great luck with quiet neighbors for the most part.

The next three days will be spent inspecting, improving and packing up the Teardrop for the adventure.

 I'm really looking forward to unplugging for a few days.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Site, sweet site. Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine. One month ago that's where we were, wow.

Time is going by really slow.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

St. Augustine bicycle shop

When I'm camping, one of my best friends is a bicycle. I rode more on this trip than I did the last two years in T-burg. I rode to the bathroom, to the beach, to the Tiki bar, to get ice, to get firewood, to explore, on the beach. I just rode. Loved it!

Unfortunately, I had the most horrendous seat on my bike for the trip. I had so much tailbone pain and pressure that I actually needed a good minute hobbled over my bike after I dismounted before I could walk. When your tailbone feels likes it's going to explode, standing is not so much fun.

The bike is an early 90's Terry Classic, and the seat was an old, somewhat wide, gel seat with no relief cut outs for my precious little tailbone. Seats have changed a lot since the 90's.

After two and half weeks of utter pain, Amelia and I biked around St. Augustine to check out the handful of bike shops for a seat. I ended up getting a seat at Island Bicycle in St. Augustine that literally saved my ass. It's a Unity saddle from Giant, and it has three different widths - hooray! Because, guess what, our asses are not universally sized.

Thank you Island Bicycle! It was the friendliest shop we visited. We were ignored in all the other shops. I understand hating on tourists. I get it. I grew up in the Berkshires. But business is business. Suck it up, fake it if you have to, or do something else. Tourists will buy things elsewhere. We did.

About the bicycle:

The bike is an early 90's Terry Classic I bought 2 years ago from a great used bike store in Rochester, NY, R Community Bikes. If you are anywhere near Rochester, and you need a bike, a part, or just like bikes, go there (ask for Fred, he's awesome). Well worth the trip. It's much more than a used bike store.

Their website is


Monday, January 30, 2012

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave

We packed up and left St. Augustine and got on the road by 1:00 in the afternoon. About nine hours later, what do we see???

Why, it's the creepy little South of the Border shimmering in all its late night neon glory! One thing was for sure, I had to stop here just take some pictures of all these ridiculously fantastic neon lights.

Hotel California should blaring over a loudspeaker system 24/7 here, because, well, it kinda feels like it. At 11:00 at night this place is Creepfest 9000. The number of shadowy characters lurking around in the dark was a little unnerving. But, it was dark, maybe those shadows were happy, fun-loving people, right?

It was a lot like a ghost town...with neon a strange Mexican motif...and fireworks shacks...with South Carolina. Strange.

There was nothing on the map for the next 60 miles, so we ended up camping there on a chilly 28 degree night.

When we checked in, there was a big sign at the front desk, it read - "Residents of the following counties are banned from this motel." Four neighboring counties were listed. Amelia asked why and the woman said one word, "Locals".

I slept with one eye open all night, half expecting a monster truck to run us over.


Afterthoughts: This could be the ultimate in kitschy, classic Americana-type mini amusement parks. It was actually sad to see it in in its current state. There is potential for something really fun here, but something is gone and missing. I think it's heart.

But, that's me, I see the potential of things. There is ALWAYS potential for something better.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Camp Coffee

Morning coffee is a ritual.

We must have good coffee, made in a French press with freshly ground beans each and every morning. Whether we’re camping, away for a weekend, or at home, this is how we start our days.

For camping, we bought a manual grinder. I read some reviews about manual grinders with complaints that it actually takes a little effort, oh-my-god!! You have to manually grind it?! Absurd!! Well, it works like a charm. Grind for about one minute (two for Amelia), and you have a nice, coarse grind perfect for the French press.

On our maiden voyage to Delaware last April we camped in Henlopen State Park. The park had no electric or water at sites; we used solar and filled up a 5 gallon jug of water every few days. The Park forbid the use of generators. Yay!

The campground was nearly empty and we had no neighbors for most of our stay. Then a giant 5th wheel RV came and parked right next to us. They were a family of four. After they got situated with parking the RV and setting up camp, they came over said hello and checked out the Teardrop.

Before they left the man and I had this conversation –

Man - “You drink coffee in the mornings?"
Me - “Yes.”
Man – “Boy, that's the one thing I can’t go without.”
Me – “Yeah, me too, gotta get that caffeine.”
Man – “You’re welcome to bring your coffee maker over, (with a whisper and a wink) cuz’ I brought my generator, it’s whisper quiet.”
Me – “We don’t use a coffee maker.”
Man – “What? Then, how do you make your coffee?”
Me – “We manually grind our beans with this grinder and then we use the French press, no electricity. Best camp coffee ever.”
Man – “What’s a French press?”
Me – “It’s this.” (show him the press)
Man – “Huh, well, if you change your mind! (with a whisper and a wink) I’ll be running it for just a few minutes in the morning, and it IS whisper quiet.”

Our coffee is ready within about 5 minutes every morning. Put the water on, grind the beans, steep, plunge. Drink.

He ran his whisper quiet generator (and it was really quiet for a generator) for about half an hour each morning for his coffee.

Buy yourself a French press, and leave your generator at home.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Observations of RV Life

Your issues, fears and prejudices don’t go away just because you’re on vacation. They comfortably travel with you, don’t take up a lot of room, and frequently are inconspicuous travel companions.

The frivolous things that separate us are always here: money, gender, religion,
race, class, sexual preference, insecurities, judgment. Funny, because all these things are really quite private (yes, even gender can be private – welcome to the 21st century). We judge each others private worlds, places we don’t belong.

I am no different. I won’t lie and say I don’t judge, I judge – a LOT, too much. I judge people that judge me, I judge myself for judging them. I’m an equal opportunity judger. I would never do to you what I wouldn’t do to myself.

Welcome to my tiny world of dichotomy.

What I’ve noticed so far is that the large RV world is dominated by conservative, American flag-flying, somewhat rich, doughy, older white people usually traveling with at least one small, annoying dog. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things per se; in fact, I haven’t had a lot of judgment about most of my neighbors so far. I have given in to the fact that I can’t chose my neighbors. I will have neighbors no matter what, and I’m far outnumbered.

The number of people we have had conversations with in the campgrounds so far is four. When I say conversations, I mean people who come into our site or we go into their site and actually talk. Four people.

There has been little to no eye contact as well. Is this a South thing? Is this an RV thing? Is this a vacation thing? Is this a gay thing? Is this an age thing? Is this a sign of the times thing? Yes to all those questions.

When we’re in New York or Maine or Massachusetts there seems to be a lot more eye contact, a lot more conversation, a lot more hellos. I am very much a solitary individual. I would prefer being alone in most situations.

And now I find myself three and half weeks into the trip missing those casual exchanges.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Movie Theater for Two

Camping does something to your internal clock. The sun goes down, and there you are staring into the fire for hours and hours – and it’s only 7 o’clock. You have to fight going to bed at 8 o’clock. Hence movie night. Fight the sleep!!! Fight it!!!

Of course, it’s a beautiful thing at 8 o’clock at night when most of the campground is fast asleep, a few crackling fires here and there, a pop of a beer, some laughing, people using their indoor voices. Cherish these moments people; THIS is a good campground.

We watched a few movies inside the Teardrop using the MacBook Pro. The Teardrop turns out to be an excellent audio & video space. The sound is pretty great. You really don’t need much volume to fill up a 30 square foot space.

We put the laptop on a small step stool to prop it up, popped some popcorn, and cozied in for movie night.

There’s always room for improvement, so at some point I’ll turn the cherry footboard into a drop down table by installing some hinges and chains on it.

I’ve seen some Teardrops decked out with 100 watt surround sound systems, 20” televisions, speakers installed in the galley hatch, yadda, yadda, yadda… I’m not impressed, but you probably know that already.

Keep it simple, keep it real, keep it down.


Monday, January 23, 2012


Judy and Dennis were the best campground neighbors ever. We were sad to see them leave for their next adventure. A sweet "Good morning!" every day, followed by, "What are your fun plans today?" And every evening, "How was your adventure?" They brought us brochures on the parks they visited; we found sand dollars for them on the beach. Funny, adventuresome, genuine, and above all kind. Kindred souls. Hopefully our paths will cross again.


These people were absolutely awesome. Great roles models for all of us - sweet, smart, open, honest, adventurous, great parents, fun, going on 50 years of love, original and genuine.

Their children and Grand children are lucky to have them.

I really enjoy meeting people like this, it keeps me from teetering on the "humanity sucks" edge.

It gives me hope.

Thanks Dennis and Judy!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Music Room

Welcome to the Music Room. Acoustics are incredibly good in the Teardrop.

We practiced comfortably for over two hours on two separate frigid nights inside the Teardrop. Inside, we were a cozy 65 degrees.

Other days, we've played quietly around the fire. I don't want to be "that" person playing music. I don't assume anyone wants to hear a single note. My inner Grampa doesn't want to hear a peep from my neighbors.

On two mornings, two separate neighbors came over to say, "You should play louder, or come over to our site tonight. You're in the South. We like that kind of music."

P.S. - The dog loves a night time serenade.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Solar and the Sunshine State

I assumed in Florida that I could leave the solar panel on the teardrop roof and charging would magically occur. I mean, it IS the sunshine state, right? Well, I was wrong. In five days we drained the battery down to extremely low levels.

What works best is to move the panel every few hours for optimal sun exposure. I moved it three times a day, and by noon it ended up on the roof tilted towards the sun where it stayed the rest of the day.

I imagine if all solar panel systems were built movable and adjustable that overall efficiency could be improved upon. It seems like a pretty easy concept, until you get into giant panels, and giant will never be in my plan.

Small is the mantra here, small is just better, and tiny is best.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Filling Our Days

And now I shall address the question of what one does to fill the time when one is camping for a month. The answer? Not much.

Physical activity increases. Here we are sitting in the woods, surrounded by nature trails, a half mile from the beach, near a less-traveled oceanside highway with great bike lanes. The added bonus is that exercise keeps you warm when your living room is outside.

Reading is best done in the Teardrop at night after the sun goes down and the temperatures drop. We can watch movies in the Teardrop, too, thanks to Leah’s civilized renovations and a campground with electric in every site. Only one movie so far, Midnight in Paris, which I give two thumbs up and highly recommend especially to romantics and writers.

Cook, eat, wash dishes, repeat. Meals take an extraordinary amount of time to clean up from when you don’t have plumbing and you are taking care not to soak your site with graywater.

We use our cell phones to read Facebook every morning. (Isn’t that how everyone gets the news?)

The biggest surprise has been the nature of creative projects undertaken. We had great plans when we left, but then the picnic table gets all sandy, or damp, or it’s not warm enough outside, or the bugs are bugging me, or we go for a walk and suddenly the sun is setting.

My most important realization has been that writing is a strictly solitary activity for me. Leah and I are together all the time on this trip, thinking out loud, talking, laughing. If this were a solo trip, I’d probably be writing my brains out. But it’s not.

However, I have been surprised – and excited - to find Leah and I writing songs together, a mission often discussed but never fulfilled until now. Don’t underestimate the power of throwing two people with creative tendencies into a small space together for four weeks.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cold Air and Dog Farts

It’s been quite cold some nights, in the upper 20’s and low 30’s. But, every time we get into the teardrop, within 30 minutes the temperature inside has gone up into the low 60’s. It’s amazing what body heat can do in a small insulated space.

The dog farts we could have done without. It’s quite horrible to be trapped inside a 5 foot by 6 foot space with a farting dog, not to mention the twitching, growling, booffing (that woof thing he does in his sleep) and running in his sleep routine.

So, I came up with a plan…. Currently, there is nothing on the tongue of the trailer. Most people build a box the width of trailer for extra storage. My thought is to build a dog sleeping space on the tongue.

Basically, an insulated dog house that would be 5’ wide, 30” tall, and 18” deep. I’d have to cut a hole in the front of the teardrop for an entrance, something small, around 1’ wide by 2’ high. I could make it complete with a tiny window or 2 with screens, because he does enjoy a nice view and I’m certainly not going to just throw him in a dark box (even though his stinky farts kinda make me want to).

More on this design when I get home…

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Southward Bound

Holy cow, I can’t believe that we’ve been gone for two weeks and haven’t posted anything yet! For those of you arriving late in the story, Leah and I left on January 2nd to head South for a month - with no plan - and have landed in Little Talbot Island State Park outside of Jacksonville, Florida.

This is our first time taking a super-sized vacation with the Alligator Teardrop; our longest trip to date was ten days in Maine this past September. It’s not our first time traveling for a month together, however. We took a VW bus out West twelve years ago. And while that trip was adventurous, it was no vacation. The bus was an electrical and mechanical failure waiting to happen, and was the catalyst to the now-infamous “chardonnay incident,” as well as the “lose-all-power-including-windshield-wipers-and-headlights-at-dusk-in-a-snowstorm-on-a-deserted-road-near-Vale incident.” Fortunately, that trip bears no resemblance to our current one.

The day we left Trumansburg, NY, the temperatures at home dipped to 5 degrees, reinforcing our decision to head to Florida. Our first night was spent in a hotel in Richmond, Virginia, and our second night in a dear friend’s guest cottage in Greenville, North Carolina, where the lows reached 17 degrees. (While we think we might have stayed warm enough in the Teardrop, getting up to pee in the middle of the night would have led to potentially dangerous fanny freezing.)

That’s the only thing I miss: indoor plumbing. Living in a five-by-six box with my lovey has been remarkably easy, with the huge outdoors as our living room. And we’ve had no rain, though two days that barely topped 50 degrees led to some cranky moments, which were appeased by visits to the local bar to watch the playoffs.

On the way here, we sent a few nights in the Teardrop at Skidaway Island (now affectionately known as Skidmark Island) State Park in Savannah, Georgia. Saw lots of bald eagles and even some alligators. We decided to skip Jekyll Island (too many people) and Cumberland Island (dogs not allowed). We also decided to not go much farther South, since parks get more crowded as the weather gets more tropical. In fact, a couple of our lovely campground neighbors said that even six months out, they couldn’t get a reservation in any state park in the Keys.

So Jacksonville it is. We will be allowed to stay at Little Talbot for two weeks (we’re one week in now) and then we’ll have to relocate for two nights minimum. Where we head next is a mystery waiting to be solved, though I hear the manatees have gone inland to the warm springs, and we may follow them.

Overall, Little Talbot has been sweet with biking and hiking and miles and miles of empty wilderness beach to ourselves. The campground is a short walk from the beach, and the campsite is on a salty tributary that at low tide is a restaurant for wood storks, osprey, egrets, and pelicans. There was a loud influx of people this holiday weekend – the nerve!- but we survived with the help of a new cocktail creation by Leah (“The Southern Migration”) using ingredients from a roadside fruit stand. You can visit our cocktail blog for the yummy (and funny) story at

How does one fill one’s days when camping for a month (besides imbibing tasty cocktails)? That, dear readers, will be the subject of my next post. Stay tuned.