My husbands sister and brother-in-law invited us out for an afternoon at their new camper at Pymatuning Lake. They had recently purchased a behemoth of a 5th wheel. To some people it may not seem big, but for my family it was immense. We usually camp in a tiny backpacking tent that you can’t stand up in. Weighing in at a mere 3.5 lbs our needs were met. This thing my sister-in-law bought had a spare bedroom with bunk beds. It was a thing of beauty.
With lovely cabinets, several couches, three big screen TV’s and a master bedroom with a queen bed this thing had a deck attached, an actual wooden deck! I was dazed and amazed. My memories of campers came in the midget size. This was crazy. I felt a stirring in my heart. Wow, this was a camper! The memories flooded back. I wanted a camper. That’s right. I didn’t want to sleep in a backpacking tent as we traveled across the country. I wanted an honest to goodness trailer.
My poor husband saw the crazed light in my eye. I think he may have known he was doomed. Now let’s clarify for a minute. Although my sister-in-law’s trailer was really nice, it wasn’t for me. I never wanted anything that big. As fancy and comfortable as it was, I had no desire for it. What I had a desire for was a tiny camper, like Micky Mouse had. I wanted it small and maneuverable. I didn’t want it to have a TV, I wanted it to have a little kitchen, so I wouldn’t have to crouch on the ground with my backpacking stove to make dinner. (I still love backpacking, but the bones are getting old and crouching isn’t always fun!) I wanted beds inside a hard shell instead of a soft tent. I wanted to be able to eat a candy bar in my bed while camping and not worry about a bear slashing through the sides of my tent and taking my Three Musketeers!!!!!
We had a lovely day at that campground with the family. My son played with his cousins, and we went boating on the lake. My sister-in-law took their large pontoon, party barge, out while we zipped around in our little inflatable boat. Their boat was large, slow moving, relaxing and it could hold a lot of people. Our boat was lightweight, fast, and could hold a couple of very close friends. We all took turns playing in each other’s “yacht. ”
In the evening we gathered around the requisite campfire and stuffed ourselves with sweet corn, steaks, and French Onion Soup made in foil packets. Life was grand. The talk turned to camper ownership. My husband knew it was coming. He kept glancing at me, waiting, and then it came. I announced that I really wanted a camper. Our son chimed in. He wanted one, too. It would be really neat. My husband’s shoulders sagged. My brother-in-law offered to sell us his pop-up tent camper, and my husbands shoulders continued their downward slump. I politely explained that although I wanted a tiny camper, I already had enough tents, I wanted my camper to have real walls, not canvas ones.
On the long drive home, the subject came up again. My husband had all of the reasons why not to get a camper: they are expensive; we didn’t have a truck to pull it; you can’t maneuver it; we have no place to store it; we have too many toys… I explained to him that all I wanted was Micky Mouse’s trailer. I used the example of our boat. His sister’s boat was large and ours was small. Hers was heavy and ours was light. Hers was expensive and ours was not. Hers was slow and ours was fast. I thought that this would help my case. He explained to me, in no uncertain terms, that he DIDN’T WANT A TRAILER.
A couple of weeks later, my husband and I were lounging in bed. He was surfing the internet on his iPad, while I was reading. It was quiet and peaceful. He nudged me and said, “Would you like one of these?” There, on the screen, was the picture of the cutest little trailer I had ever seen. It was vintage looking. It was tiny. I mean really tiny, and it had a kitchen…outside. Wait a minute, the kitchen was outside at the back of the trailer under a lift back like my Dodge Caravan. As I looked closer, I realized that you couldn’t even stand up in the trailer, It was like a little coffin on wheels. I looked at him and realized he was serious. Then he said the words he probably regretted many times since, “I could build one of these for you.” Okay, kitchen in the back, can’t stand up in it, did I want it? Oh heck, yes I wanted it. It was perfect. My husband’s fate was sealed. From that moment on, I was obsessed with the little trailer that he showed me. It was called a teardrop trailer, and I was in love. The novel I was reading was shoved aside, and I began searching the internet for everything there was to know about teardrop trailers. My husband was just as enthusiastic. He had saved that silly picture over a year ago. The idea of building me a trailer had been growing quietly in his head all that time. He finally decided that the time was right.
We looked at plans and pictures. We read testimonials and blogs. We poured over the website, Teardrops n Tiny Travel Trailers. We sketched and argued and discussed and sketched some more. The design would have been straightforward if we were going to build a standard teardrop for two. But we needed an extra bunk for our youngest son. He was eleven at the time, and it would be awhile before he left the nest, so we had to find a way to fit a bunk in for him.
One of the recurring themes we discovered in our research was that many of the builds started with a humble 4′ X 8′ Harbor Freight Utility Trailer. Sure, there were custom trailers and refurbished trailers that were used for the base of the build, but over and over we saw that people were using that Harbor Freight base for a budget build.
One day, while my husband was at work and I had the day off, I moseyed my way over to the local Harbor Freight, and the nice boys there threw one of those boxes holding all the pieces of a trailer into the back of my Caravan. When my husband came home from work, I sweetly looked at him and asked him to take the box out of my car for me. Imagine his surprise when he opened the back and saw what I had done. He was doomed. It was no longer just talk. That poor man was committed!