Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tiny Trailer Owner Profile: the Homespun Harros

Available at Homespun Harros/esty

Yes, I present to you the perfect portrait of Papa Bear! Based in Bend, Oregon, Mark and Kelly Harro are working artists with a flair for the bear--and also proud owners of a teardrop trailer that they built themselves.

The glamping tradition (Photos by Kelly and Mark Harro/Homespun Harros)

Two artists living in the beautiful nature of America's West, what was needed was a mobile office, a utility trailer, a home on wheels--in other words, a teardrop trailer. And so they built "Betty," using Pinterest designs and recycled auto parts. 

This labor of love was built on a utility trailer the Harros already owned, and was a fulfilling project, although it was not easy. Mark said he lost a lot of hair during the process! A full chronicle of the building of "Betty" is at DoItYourselfRV, "Montana Artists Build Teardrop Trailer Using Wrecked Auto Parts." It's a thorough article and includes more great photographs.

For those of you who would like to hear the Harros tell their story, below is a great YouTube video of their journey (6:55 minutes).

The Harros on their Etsy website have a number or fun and beautiful art products to brighten up your home, tiny trailer, or for gifts for family and friends. Below is something a grandparent would just love to give to start a grandchild off right!

Red Black Bear with Fedora Hat Organic Onesie Baby Clothes Screen Print Gift

The teardrop galley was the most difficult and time-consuming part of construction for the Harros. In this photo, notice the dish towel has a print from their art collection. The curtains utilize Papa Bear. From top to bottom, this teardrop is a product of the Harros' creative lives. "Betty" is truly a work of art, all by herself.

Homespun Harros
(To read all the Green Goddess Glamping owner profiles, check out the Owner Profiles page. Click the link or the Owner Profiles button beneath the header photo.)

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

It's Not Just How Many Miles or Places

The same road, the same campground, the same campsite. Are we boring glampers? My wife and I hitched up our new trailer and spent four nights at the same location as our last trip, Lake Sugema in SE Iowa. We've researched several other campgrounds within an hour of our home, but we decided that close by and familiar was good for us this time, just like the last time. Now that our trip is done, we realize there are some real positives to camping at the same place:
  • Less stress and a more relaxing time
  • Exploring more thoroughly the local activities
This trip was easier than the first. Our bed is a better setup with the new mattress foam and the wool pad that covers it. Our cooking was more efficient and varied--and closer to what we eat at home, so we felr better. We bought several new items to help us camp: a camp ax, a somewhat smaller portable table (so it fits beneath the bed), a wheel lock for added security, and a windshield sun block cover for the car. We also stayed a day longer this time, four nights instead of three. I found my attention this trip was not just on the necessities of adjusting to the new environment, essentials such as how does the shower work at this campground? or how far away is the water?

Lake Sugema is beautiful, and being so close to home, learning more about the environment here is really learning about nature in my hometown. For this trip I brought my tree identification book and spent time identifying different varieties of oaks, identifying one tree as a bur oak; however, I've found that tree identification isn't as easy as I thought it would be, especially for sub-varieties. For instance, I had trouble determining southern red oak from northern red oak or scarlet oak; the acorns are different in size, the shape of the cup, and in coloration. I guess I've got a lot to learn . . . but taking the time to learn more about nature around me is interesting. I also took photos and sketched and colored some illustrations of leaves and plants in my Green Goddess Adventures daybook.

Camping at a favorite spot is kind of like people who own cabins. They don't move those cabins around. They arrive, stay awhile and enjoy themselves and the beauty around them. We are doing that with our tiny trailer. Sure, we'll visit new places, but this time we repeating our visit. It's a beautiful site, the temperatures were in the 70's to low 80's, a mild breeze off the lake. We hiked the trails a bit more this time.

A book to read, a blog to write, trees to identify and appreciate, moments to share I enjoyed this trip. I've seen some new sights, and maybe seen some old ones with new eyes. Thanks, Lake Sugema, for reminding me to stop and smell the goldenrod.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Security: A Starter Pack for New Teardrop Owners

OK, you've bought your teardrop and have your rig all wired and ready to go. What are the first acquisitions before you hit the road? Owners from a couple of Facebook groups have responded with quite a few adventure-tested suggestions, which can be organized into four important categories: security, stability, emergency, and convenience. This first in the series focuses on security. Links to examples of products will be provided, but everyone should study product descriptions, Q & A's, and reviews before buying, making your decisions based on your individual needs.

Let's start with an item that fits into both the security and stability categories--a hitch tightener. When you tow your trailer (or if you have a bicycle rack or box fitted to a hitch behind your trailer), you don't want to have a lot of banging and bouncing behind your vehicle. A hitch tightener--designed to minimize hitch noise, wobble, rattle and hitch movement for cargo carriers, hitch receiver, trailer ball mounts, bike racks, hitch racks, and the like--might make your towing more safe and enjoyable. Many brands are for sale. The one I linked to has over 1,600 reviews.

As a new owner, the last thing you want to happen is for your new tiny home to be stolen. Don't worry, there are several security devices that will deter thieves, although one owner said, "I think people worry about their trailer being stolen way too much. If a thief wants your trailer, there's little you can do to stop them. So relax and enjoy the trailer and your experience. Stop looking over your shoulder." This, of course, is not a suggestion to do nothing, or to place a sign beside your hitch that reads, "I'm OK with you stealing my trailer." Teardrop trailers, especially the smallest have the additional danger of being so small. "For some, four guys could lift them onto a flatbed!" said one owner. Just take security measures that seem to you sufficient measures to discourage theft.

The first three anti-theft devices focus on the ball and hitch: a locking pin to secure the ball mount to be locked to the hitch, a coupler lock to make the coupler ball socket to be unavailable, and a special padlock to secure the coupler licking clamp. With these three items, your trailer should not be an easy mark. The prices can be expensive to cheap. Choose what makes you feel comfortable. There are many brands on the market. Below is a representative selection (the top four mentioned by trailer owners), but I have used none of these. I'm using a brand (which I'm soon going outside to check) that my son-in-law bought me at Menard's when I first purchased the trailer. (After this research, I'm thinking I might research and re-think what I'm currently using.)
  1. (expensive) Proven Lock Model 2178
  2. (expensive) GusHill Industries
  3. (mid-range) Gorilla Guard
  4. (mid-range) Deadbolt Blockhead
  5. (low-mid range) Master Lock (at TSC, a combination set)
  6. (low-range) Tow Ready (at Walmart, a combination set)
Moving to the wheels and tires, a vehicle (trailer) wheel lock and also perhaps a locking lug nut would complete the picture of a secured trailer. The wheel lock interferes with the trailer tire being able to roll. There are various models on the market. As for lug nut locks, they must fit the wheel, so research or perhaps even have a knowledgeable shop check out your trailer's wheels and order them for you. I've linked to two wheel lock brands, the Trimax TCL65 and the Stallion Trailer Wheel Lock, since they were mentioned by a couple of owners. Executing a search brings up a long list of brands and styles (although many look similar).

Here is a YouTube video on the subject of trailer security, which includes a hitch lock and a chock lock. I also follow the videos of the Long, Long Honeymoon YouTube station, a married couple that live in their Airstream. They have videos both on the wheel lock and the coupler lock. Be aware that their YouTube station activities are part of their livelihood, although I feel they are credible.

In conclusion, researching products by reading reviews and by watching YouTube videos is a way to make informed decisions prior to buying the security system that you feel meets your needs. I'd like to thank the folks who took the time to respond to my FB group posts. I've learned a lot from the interchange, and I feel my tiny trailer will be safer in the future because of our sharing.

In the final analysis, it's kind of like the Inspector Gadget movie where the inspector finds himself wearing an unfamiliar pair of underwear-- go with what you're most comfortable with--boxers, boxer briefs, or whitie tighties. Some decisions we just have to make ourselves. Each of us has to determine own level of comfort when it comes to security. I hope I've provided some food for thought. If you have suggestions or observations, please make a comment on the blog so that it will always be available when someone accesses the article. Thanks!

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Darling Overnighter at Lake Darling

A cool morning, so I bundled up!
In my quest to locate campgrounds that will work both as campsites and mobile office, I teardropped to Lake Darling State Park here in SE Iowa, seventeen miles from home. I had camped there before on overnight bicycle trips and visited for day trips, but I really wanted to scout the park to see if there was a pocket of cellphone receptivity somewhere.

Success! There is sufficient receptivity on the hill loop of the campground if I use our signal booster. The only problem is that the hill is prairie transformed to grassy campsites--no shade, and not a good spot for camping when weather is in the 90's.

An overnight trip consists mostly of arriving, setting up, eating, sleeping, and leaving in the morning. Sound like a waste of time? Well, I do see the point. However, I was determined to accomplish more than just check out the cellphone receptivity.

After checking out the receptivity,  I played (field tested) with some of my new toys: hitch tightener, foldable storage bags, but mostly using the new stabilizing jacks and jack pads. Also, I erected the awning again, using the four-inch suction cups. Everything worked well, so this was a successful "shake-down" overnighter.

Below are more photos and captions of my mini-trip.

From a bike camping trip, down by the lake.

Evening. I'd moved my chair to escape the late sun.
Early morning, preparing to leave.

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