Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Whoot Whoot!!"

Our anticipation level has soared upward after receiving new photos from Camp-Inn showing the progress of our 550 Special! Take a tour with me:

The Galley featuring the two under counter storage areas

The additional storage space in place; stainless steel counter tops still undercover!

A fender!  Our front windows are in!  The trailer is cocooned in its protective skin!  Front storage box!

The interior end where our heads will be in our queen bed, with 2 storage cubbies!

The "foot end" of our interior with 5 additional storage cubbies, plus Fantastic Fan!

So, we are getting closer and closer to our plans for our future, our Odyssey, and the excitement is sometimes unbearable!!  When we saw these photos yesterday, we were like two kids getting a present with each photo we saw!  We let our "whoot whoots", "yahoos", and "yeehaws" with each glance at the trailer coming more and more to life!


Sunday, December 28, 2014


I've been immersing myself into many memories.  As part of our process of unloading material things, I went through my "memory box".  I created this box maybe 45 years ago and regularly placed memorabilia in it as the years went by.  A ticket stub from the Beatles concert I went to in Philadelphia in 1966.  Many notes and letters from my nieces and nephews.  Cocktail napkins from my sisters' marriages many years ago.  Some photos of family.  Birth announcements.  Old journals.  And I looked at and read every piece of this history.

However, the real tear jerker for me was reading notes from my parents to me going back to my childhood.  And my father was a doodler so I can't tell you how many scraps of paper I have with his unique artwork!  Letters that my parents wrote to me in college.  My parents are deceased, so as I read all of this, I did feel like I was in a room with them.  They felt so close.  Hence, the tears. 

It is hard to decide what to keep and what to part with.  A blender is one thing, but the pieces of our lives is another.  I haven't looked at all of these things in years, yet some of it can't be discarded, while other things can.  But having those "keepers" with me will feel like my family is with me.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Making Strides!


So we keep talking about our teardrop-to-come, and our travel plans, and retirement, and camping equipment.  We keep it alive by looking at the Camp-Inn teardrop site and participating in the forums we have discovered.  But, suddenly it isn't so much a vision or dream anymore.  We have received photos from Camp-Inn of our 550 Special being built!  Yes, it is happening!

It is really exciting to see the galley taking shape!

The 2 door openings are in place and the outside storage box is taking form!  And it is sitting on it's trailer frame!

Camp-Inn will send photos once or twice a week!  We are anxious to see the progression and feel the excitement!

Today we joined Escapees, a national RV club.  This organization offers a mail forwarding service that provides a street address in either Florida or Texas, depending where we establish a domicile.  We need this in order to register our car and trailer, get drivers' licenses, basically to have a home without actually living there.  Texas is looking like our choice, but we're still talking it over.

The little steps we have been taking are getting bigger!  The finish line is more in view now.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Go, Bonnie!

When I found this quote by Bonnie Raitt yesterday, those tiny doubts that creep in from time to time were quickly extinguished. 

"Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste." --
Bonnie Raitt, 64

Now, I accept that it is normal to periodically question ourselves about the teardrop future we are planning.  There's much to do and many unknowns out there.  We could sit here and be relatively comfortable and unadventurous, kind of accepting the status quo as these years go by.  But this sounds like a time-waster. I want to do this Odyssey because I can see my future if I do not.  I will work forever and age day by day, slowing down and losing ambition and inquisitiveness.  You know, 'the same old, same old'. 

Accepting this new chapter in our lives is not a time-waster!  This lifestyle will take us on many trails to beautiful spots, beautiful birds, beautiful people...so many new and exhilarating experiences.  We will no doubt have our challenges too, whether a fight, a mechanical issue, or fatigue.  But we will handle these challenges.  How can you stay mad when you're looking at a snow-capped mountain or giant sequoia tree?! 

So, no time-wasting for us.  "Let's give them something to talk about....".

Friday, November 14, 2014

Here we go 'round in circles...

"Cruise control isn’t practical for cars or for life. If you switch on autopilot, you lose sight of the journey. Obstacles aren’t necessarily things to overcome and forget; they’re essential to our lives because they allow us to understand joy." -- Jessica Taylor  http://www.misadventuresblog.com

I love this!  My niece Jessica, who by the way is a tremendously talented writer, wrote the above in her most recent blog entry.  For me, it applies to all of the prep for our new 'Odyssey'.  Honestly, it all overwhelms me and sometimes I just want to shut down.  I want to close my eyes, and then open them, and all will be organized.  If it isn't gearing up (or down, as we have gone through every bit of what we own and have tossed, donated, or sold a load of stuff), it is looking into the myriad of details that go with this lifestyle change.

First and foremost...where to establish residency.  Florida?  Texas?  South Dakota?  Florida?  Texas?  South Dakota?  You get the reference now to going around in circles.  This is the BIG question.  These states are the "top 3" for full-time RV'ers.  For reasons like auto and trailer insurance costs to renewing drivers licenses and registration, to mail forwarding, to health insurance, to, well, you get it.  It's a huge decision, or at least it feels that way to us.  And because it is, I'd like to close my eyes.  Then open them.  And the decisions will have been made and all of the details handled.

This is what I take from Jessica 's post.  The journey is half the fun and if we cruise through it, we miss a big part of the experience.  I don't want to lose out on a minute of the prep for this journey.  Once all of our ducks are in a row, I will be able to sit back with Michael and smile at the work we've done.  The craziness and stress will "allow us to understand joy".

Oh, and once we've figured out which state -- Florida Texas, or South Dakota -- we'll let you know.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

UPS Delivery!

We made a great choice with our purchase of Cabela's Camp Shower Shelter (privacy tent) which is now conveniently set up in our living room!  It was only $59.99 from an original price of around $150. -- money well spent!  It is large and roomy with drainage mesh on the floor, 2 windows which can be closed for privacy or open with screens, and a hanging shelf for shampoo.  Pockets are also included for eyeglasses, etc. It comes with a 5 gallon solar shower too, for when we are boondocking!  At a campground it is a changing room and bathroom in the middle of the night!  Love these modern conveniences!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

You've Got to Have Friends...

So the Camp-Inn Forum has definitely become a daily necessity.  We are thrilled with the information we are garnering from this site.  And even better, we are making friends!  Bruce and Jackie, for example, contacted as one day out of the blue, to suggest that we travel together as we are all New Englanders!  Their goal is to depart Maine April 1 and we hope we are in Necedah, WI picking up K.T. (or Katy), our teardrop, at that time.  They have since invited us to join them along the way at a teardrop gathering called the "Dam Gathering"!  It is in northern CA at the beginning of May, so that's what we are planning to do! 

(Yikes...it is hard to sit here without jumping from excitement!  To be talking about plans such as these, well, it is unbelievable we are headed towards this amazing future!)

Adrianne, another Forum member, got in touch recently with wonderful trailer insights.  Jenn has written to us a number of times, sharing her fulltimer experiences.  Jamie wrote to give us her take on the In-Camp 100 tent from REI that we ordered.  Joan, Pat, and others have been so generous with their ideas and advice. 

Where there are friends, there is wealth.
                                                 - Titus Maccius Plautus


Talk about a challenge...saving money for the future and spending money for the future.  Doing both at one time is taking some skill.  And I haven't eaten this much ramen noodles ever!

Shopping.  Yes, the loo and privacy tent are on the way.  After setting up the In-Camp 100 tent as a galley tent, and after seeing Jamie's photos that she kindly emailed to us, we have decided it won't really work well with the galley hatch open.  But, since we love this tent, we are keeping it as our "living room" and we'll order the REI Alcove (below) to be our "kitchen" tent.  One more decision made.

Camp-Inn teardrop trailer with Alcove tent over galley

 And instead of a big unwieldy 5 gallon jerry can for water, on the Forum we learned about these 3.5 gallon stackable bottles for water (or food or whatnot).  They stack like bricks!

 We found a cover for our down comforter to keep it clean.  We are looking for a small set of Corelle dishes.  And Michael bought a tie!  Yes, a tie!  He hasn't worn one in close to 20 years, but gotta have one for the Odyssey!

(Oh yeah, we call this Odyssey III, following #2 in 2000 and #1 in 1995!)

Perhaps our next two (and hopefully last) big purchases...solar panels and a controller (for the electric brakes) to go in the car.  Chaaa-ching!

This is fun!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Our planning is in full gear and it is coming and going in all directions!  We did make a decision to step down from a 550 Ultra to a 550 Special...and special she will be.  It is a money savings step and one we feel very comfortable about.  The differences are about the lighting, stove, front storage box, and sink.  We are staying with Ultra lighting fixtures...they're too sweet to forgo, and we are getting the front storage box to store our tents.  But we will find a cheaper stove and can do without the sink.  So we are saving about $3000 which can go towards our supplies.

We did order and receive our "living room" tent.  An REI In-Camp 100 (talk about irony...an In-Camp tent for our Camp-Inn trailer!) arrived a few days ago and has been set up since then.  Although I have reservations about how it will work with our trailer's open galley hatch, we tested it with the 4Runner hatch and it may work out better than I anticipate.  Michael, who cooks 100% of the time, feels it will work out just fine.  The purpose of it is to give us a place to sit out of the rain, but also to cover the galley area so we can still prepare meals when raining.
Camp Showers & Accessories at Cabela's
Next to order, is our privacy tent.  This cute little number is actually where we will shower and use a portable toilet when we are dry camping.  It is also a dressing room and a nighttime bathroom!

Oh, and the portable "loo"...    Reliance Luggable Loo® Toilet at Cabela's

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Friends Talking

Tonight Gerry and I went to meet with Elisha at the DoubleTree hotel to talk about the next Cape Cod Bird Festival (2015).  That meeting lasted about 45 minutes.  After Elisha left us, Gerry and I talked for well over an hour about many things.  For as many times that he and I have butted heads during the last few years while Festival planning, we seem to have a mutual respect and fondness for one another.

We spoke about the Festival, past and upcoming, birding, and the pending travels of me and Michael.  It was an easy and good conversation.  When Michael and I tell family about our teardropping plans, we will undoubtedly be confronted by many reactions, mostly emotional, I told Gerry.  Forget the fact that Michael and I are adults, there will be questions about our sanity and our decision to up and leave jobs, our home, the Cape.  Gerry changed the word 'emotion' to 'commotion' when anticipating the reaction family will have!  But, he also advised that Michael and I need to do what is right for us.  Agreed.  This is what's right for us. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Happy Tears

During our camper research, we discovered all sorts of tiny campers, mostly box-shaped.  For various reasons, we wrote off the Cricket.  We looked at Scamps and Casitas and other boxy styles.  We knew we needed affordable and we didn't want to be tied up in a "house on wheels" that might mean lots of maintenance and care.  Oh, what to do?!

Then one evening I came home from work and Michael excitedly said he had a video to show me.  It featured this tiny yellow trailer and its two owners camping in forests, by rivers, and near mountains.  Intriguing.  A tiny teardrop trailer.  http://tinyyellowteardrop.blogspot.com/

Say what??  This little trailer can fit people in it??  Yes, it can.  Two fully grown adults sleeping on a queen-sized mattress, with tiny cubby holes holding clothing and other essentials.  Simple.

So our next step was to look at the many models and companies out there making teardrops.  This style trailer dates back to the 30's and 40's, and is currently having a resurgence in popularity.  Many folks build their own, make them out of wood or aluminum, incorporate old classic designs, or new slick looks. Teardrop trailer companies are popping up all over.

After checking out many teardrop trailers, we decided teardrops were for us. Now how do we pick one?  You-Tube came in handy as we learned about the sleeping quarters,  options, accessories, and that the kitchen is actually a galley that opens up in the rear!  Cool!  The outdoors becomes our kitchen!  Hey, where's the bathroom?  Well, larger teardrops have them inside, like Alto's from Canada.  But for the teeny, tiny ones, bathrooms are a whole other thing!

Some teardrops offer heat and AC, TV's and stereos, and other creature comforts. Not for us, please.

We wanted something simple and cozy, and this Ultra 550 by Camp-Inn is ultimately the chosen one!  Our goal is to pick up our TD (hip nomenclature for 'teardrop') around April 1.  www.tinycamper.com
But before we signed a contract we visited Mark from Pepperell, MA to look at his larger Camp-Inn Ultra 560.  Larger than the 550, it even features a couch that converts into bunk beds!  We got to look it over in detail, check out the construction,
sit in it, and generally 'oooh and aaah' over
it.  Yep, we were ready to get a quote and send
in a deposit.

We are on our way to total retirement!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Future is a Dream Coming True

I don't mean those tear drops that run down your face when sad or laughing too hard.  I mean camping trailers that are tiny and, well, shaped like a teardrop.  I will attempt, at some point, to post a photo of a teardrop trailer, but for now, I am too much of a newbie to blogging and can't figure out where/how to find a photo!

About a year ago, Michael and I began to have this dream of retiring (actually he has been retired; I still work) and taking off in a camper to call all of the US our home.  One day I came home from work and Michael said, "you've got to see this!".  "This" was a way cool travel trailer called a Cricket.  Multi-colored, funky-shaped, and simplistically designed, we were smitten!  We've got to have this trailer and hit the road! Nothing like making a rash decision!

First, you must understand that this "wanderlust" fever has hit us before, actually two times before.  In 1994, we left very good jobs to bicycle across country, fully loaded with our camping gear and other essentials.  We took our time, traveling from NJ to FL across the southern tier of the US to CA where we took summer jobs at Sequoia National Park.  That's a whole other story.

After returning to NJ, we worked until 1999, when once again we were bitten by the "hit the road" bug.  This time we drove our Honda Civic loaded with kayaks, bicycles, and backpacking and camping gear to re-visit some special sites we had cycled through previously, and to discover new places.  After 6 months of traveling we were headed home to NJ by way of MA.   Let's go through Cape Cod!  Best decision ever...we bought a house and found jobs all within a week!  We're "wash-a-shores", the affectionate name given to outsiders like us who invade the Cape as new residents.  We settled into Cape Cod easily and here we still are 14 years later. 

Fourteen years is a long time for us to be so stable, so once again we are researching and planning a way to celebrate retirement for both of us.  This story and how we found a teardrop will come soon.