Tillamook Cheese & Power Chords

The 57th Tillamook County June Dairy Parade and Festival celebrates the County’s dairy industry and heritage and is, we’re told, the third-largest parade in the state. The 2013 theme was “Clowning Around.” The band you hear is the Power Pep Band from Portland, Oregon. Their motto is: “Power Chords without the Power Cords.”
And, yes, there were Teardrop Trailers there, too. They ventured down from the Trask River Gathering for the parade.
Check out teardroptrailers.org for TOW info.

Richard & The Modernistics Aren’t A Band

Teardrop trailer

We asked for your stories about Camping on the Coast, wanting to know if anybody had experience traveling in, or building, teardrop trailers.

You told us about the Trask River Teardrop Trailer Gathering near Tillamook, Oregon.

As the stories rolled in, we headed to Salem to tour a Teardrop manufacturer. That video will be posted soon along with other messages from squidknot.com readers.

Richard Baize sent us his story, an example of how the tiny trailer introduced him to a tribe of outdoor enthusiasts where new friendships began. Thanks Richard for this fun and inspiring tale. Any failures in storytelling are mine, not his, the result of late-night editing.

See you in Tillamook!

R Baize Teardrops

Richard supplied the photo taken near Mount Shasta.
Check the size of the Teardrops as compared to the big-rig parked behind them.

Back in the fall of 2008, my wife Cindy and I made the decision to look for a teardrop trailer.
We’d raised two girls, which meant that we’d participated in the group campout, family weekends, and team travel that parenthood entails.
Although they were great fun, the prep work involved a ton of time and effort.

The girls are out of the house now, but we still wanted to go outdoors and recharge in what my wife called the “Big Trees.” The answer came in a small, adorable package out of the days of the Greatest Generation, the teardrop trailer.

Retro tear strong horizontal copyI was drifting though the listings on Craiglist in March of 2009 and read “For Sale, partially completed Teardrop Trailer, $300.” I nearly wrenched my arm out of the socket reaching for the phone. Patrick, the fellow on the other end of the line, filled me in. He’d gotten plans off the internet from a company called Kuffel Creek. They’d been easy to follow. He’d made simple modifications and had attached the sides after they were trimmed to the traditional teardrop shape.

About that time, his wife walked into his shop on their vineyard near Phoenix, Oregon and announced they were having twins. “Right then,” Patrick told me, “I decided that a tiny trailer made no sense.”

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I drove home with the trailer and commenced to work. The plans were extremely well-written and included a list of materials and providers. Through this list, I met Grant Whipp, who had been building and providing parts and advice for builders of Teardrops for over a quarter of a century. Like every single person who has come into my life through this delightful hobby, Grant and his partner Kay have become true friends.

Retro tear 4 square with pop effec tBy June our tiny trailer, called “Cubby” by its designers, was ready for its first camping trip. When night fell near the shores of Howard Prairie Lake, we dropped the rear galley hatch, slid inside the cozy interior, and closed the doors for the night. Since the teardrop is carefully sealed and well-insulated, the night chill stayed outside and the noises of nearby campers faded into peaceful slumber–free from critters, rocks, and rain.

The first Gathering for our little Cubbie was at Applegate Lake. However, there was a problem lurking in the glow of the campfires.  Since I’d completed Cubby, I’d been without a project. Seeing all the great trailers at the Gathering made me think the Cubby was a great little trailer, with the key word being “little.” I wanted more, I needed…more.

Teardrops BookEnter the Modernistic. Along the way I’d found a lovely little book by Douglas Keister, “Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers.” It had photos of all kinds of trailers: teardrops, “canned hams,” and the Modernistic. With a profile similar to the cross-section of an aircraft wing, the Modernistic had the shape I dreamed about–the one I wanted to build next.

I started getting information from Grant and others on the www.tnttt.com forum during the fall of 2011. Grant had the ability to trace the profiles of several types of traditional trailers and the Mod was one of them. I ordered a tracing from him and when it arrived, I unrolled it onto our really long dining room table. It was round and swoopy just like I though it would be.

–Richard Baize as told to squidknot.com

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Camping The Coast: Teardrops, Canned Hams & Pop Ups

Photo supplied by Marilyn Harris Marshall

Photo supplied by Marilyn Harris Marshall

Recently on the squidknot Facebook page, I asked the innocent question: “Have you toured the coast in a Teardrop Trailer?”

That simple request led us into a wonderful world, not just of the retro-hip teardrop-style tow-behind campers, but of a larger community who turned us on to other vintage camping rigs, like the “canned ham” style, some ultra-light pop-ups, and more.

What sparked my interest was a photo in Sunset magazine that showed a small camper by a lake. I thought, “what a perfect way to see the coast.”

Yeah, these rigs aren’t for everyone, way too small, no full kitchen, and so on. But what I like is that it’s a great compromise if you don’t want to go tent camping and aren’t interested in full-bore RV-ing. Plus, the teardrops have a cool vibe and leave a small footprint, both in terms of what it requires for support at the campsite and how much gas you burn up getting there.

If the point is to spend time outdoors on your camping trip, these small guys force you into the outdoors because there’s just not much room on the inside.

ScottsPicScott Chaney in Salem makes products even smaller and lighter than the teardrops. He runs Compact Camping Concepts, check him out at compactcampingconcepts.com. He posted this picture on our Facebook page and makes a great case for his product: “Has a smaller footprint for easy towing and storage and bigger sleeping quarters.”  The pop-ups are available at DIY kits or he’ll assemble them to the level you want. “Most people build an Explorer Box themselves following the construction manual I wrote. I can also build them to various levels of completion.”

The problem with any kind of camping on the coast is obvious: the weather is often lousy from Brooking to the San Juans. Welcome to our Northwest reality; a cautionary note provided by Jennifer and Kate who have been enthusiasts since they caught the bug in 2007. Their website is called Teardrop Trails.

If you want an exceptional tour of some of the prime spots they’ve visited, check out the photo galleries. By clicking on one of the sites between Beverly Beach near Newport, all the way south to Eel Point not far from Coos Bay, you can see what site might be best for you. Start here to begin the tour.

Kate and Jennifer were great hosts last night at Champoeg State Heritage Area, an Oregon State Park, near St. Paul OR. They’d just rolled in from Eugene for a weekend of camping, biking, and fishing.

Signs at the park entrance let visitors know they were “Full” for the weekend so be sure to reserve online in advance.

We met Kate and Jennifer at a “Sisters on the Fly” gathering to see their teardrop, and some other amazing vintage campers. Originally made by manufacturers Scotty, Williams Craft, Shasta, and others, you can tell these campers were restored with sweat and love in equal measure.

Looks like a follow-up article, or maybe a whole series, is in order. Here are a few comments we received on Facebook. Please leave more comments below.

From Amy: “I own a homebuilt Teardrop and my dad has an original 1946 Marville Dwyer Teardrop trailer and we use them as much as possible. We go to Gatherings with a group called TOW (Teardroppers of Oregon & Washington). We also have a Newsletter and website.” Thanks, Amy. The website is a great resource. We are reposting some of the information regarding their Gatherings on the coast our our events page.

From Rob: “I have an old one, home made. Great fun and so much fun. Everyone in the campgrounds asks what it is and wants a “tour”. The biggest surprise is always “you sleep in there?”

From Mark:  “I built our teardrop about 3 years ago and have taken it on a number of gatherings. They come in quite a variety of shapes and sizes. Check out the forum www.tnttt.comfor tons of information.

From Eric:  “I’ve camped all over, up and down the coast. My favorite campground near where I live is Cape Lookout State Park. Sure, weather can be a factor. You just need a canopy and a good rain coat.”

From Marilyn:  “Have a 1940 Nitey Mite that towed behind a 40 Ford from Washington to Florida. It was a blast!”

From Matt:  There is a great gathering at Ocean City. We have also done the Rain Forest, Seaquest and down the coast to Newport. We normally stick to the Cascades.”

Also hearing from lots of DIY folks. Manufacturing is happening all around the Northwest. We are a hotbed for this kind of camping.

What else to you love about camping? We’d love to hear from you. To be continued.

Teardrop Trails: http://www.teardrop-trails.com/coast.html
Link to the April 2013 issue of Cool Tears magazine here. Jim Bailey talks teardrops in the feature article.
Jim’s story starts on page 16.