Friday, April 19, 2019

Tiny Trailer Travels West with Bob and Dian Teschke

a Rustic Trail Teardrop camper, Grizzly model

Bears in the Wild

"There’s something enjoyable about being around like-minded people." So say Bob and Dian Teschke, online members of a Facebook group I belong to, Rustic Trail Teardrops Camper Owners Group. The Teschkes and I both own tiny trailers manufactured by RTTC--a Grizzly for them and a Polar Bear for my wife and me. My travels center mostly around home--with literally several dozen campgrounds within a hundred miles of my home. Dian and Bob, though, have been able to take off--so let me share their journeys with you. Maybe it will inspire you to see a "Bear in the Wild"--as their adventures have inspired me.

Last year in June of 2018, Bob and Dian took an "epic cross country trip," in their words. It wasn't their first time across the country because in 2002 they had driven from California to Ohio in two cars with their young sons and three dogs, staying in motels as they moved--one of those epic migrations most folks have endured at least once if they've accumulated enough years. Think forward to last year, sixteen years later, just the two of them traveling in one car: "no kids, our dog Zoey, and bringing our bed with us in the form of a teardrop." Deciding to travel Interstate 80, they pulled their Grizzly through ten states, visiting family and friends along the way from their home in Ohio to Washington state and back--twenty days and close to 5,000 miles, round trip.

Flying J, Gillette, Wyoming

Hidden Meadows RV Resort, Milton, Minnesota

In order to make time and get on down the road, they took advantage of truck stops like the Flying J Travel Center in Gillette, Wyoming, and Loves in Roscoe, Illinois.  "We planned the driving time and the stops for each day before we took our trip so we knew exactly what truck stops we wanted to stay at.  The nice thing about truck stops are 1) coffee 2) shower . . . in that order.  It was nice that we could go inside, ask where they wanted us to park, pull in, watch our DVD player and get ready for bed."  They did stay at two campgrounds on their way back home. One was Hidden Meadows RV Park, near Pine Island, Minnesota.  The other was the Belvidere East KOA in Midland, South Dakota. These camping stops gave them a chance to relax some before they got home and to enjoy themselves without being rushed.  They felt both places were very nice.

A Grizzly at Mt. Rushmore

Traveling west on their way to Washington, Bob and Dian's first big point of interest was Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. "Mt Rushmore was awesome, totally unbelievably huge," Dian writes.  "You see it on TV or in magazine photos, but you never really understand the size of Mt. Rushmore until you’ve seen it in person.  They don’t allow dogs, so we didn’t stay long.  We were fortunate that it was in the low 70s and we were able to leave our dog, Zoey, in the car, under shade while we made our visit.  We were also lucky in that I had just turned 62. We received a discount, and it only cost us $5 for parking."

Zoey at home in her tiny trailer

The Spokane area in Washington state was the farthest west Dian and Bob traveled on this trip, spending a few days with family, sleeping nights in their Grizzly teardrop parked in the driveway. Then they headed back to Montana to visit friends again and dip down to Yellowstone,  the Badlands, and then Wisconsin.

Backyard camping, Nine Mile Falls, Washington

Dian is a mountain lover, so Montana really stood out for her. "Everything was so green, and the meadows had tall grasses. The wildflowers were blooming, and with the white-capped mountains in the background, it was breathtakingly gorgeous.  Going through the Continental Divide and passes in the Montana mountains was heart-stopping. Sometimes I thought my husband was going so fast down the mountains that we wouldn’t be able to make the turns."

Old Faithful, Yellowstone

Yellowstone buffalo along the roadway

Yellowstone National Park was a real highlight on the trip back from Washington state. Dian had visited Yellowstone when she was thirteen years old, but having been to the park a second time, she now realizes she didn't really appreciate it fully as a kid. Yellowstone was on her husband Bob's bucket list, too, because he had worked on a ranch near the Tetons in Wyoming when he had hitchhiked across country in the 70s and wanted to revisit the area.  "We saw buffaloes, elk, deer, a black bear and a grizzly bear. . . . Wow!!!  Due to the time, we never got to see the Tetons and just barely made it to see Old Faithful go off at dusk.  We did get some great photos.  Mind you, we left early in the morning, and the drive through Yellowstone took all day and all evening to drive back to Bozeman, Montana.  I was able to get a senior pass at Yellowstone for any of the national parks, which saved us on the entrance cost," Dian relates.

Bear sighting in The Badlands National Park

The Badlands of South Dakota was another scenic stop on the way home, the desolation and the extreme heat providing Bob and Dian with some memorable experiences. "The Badlands National Park was not in our original plans, but everyone kept telling us we need, must, go visit and see for ourselves all the beauty of that land.  We decided to visit the Badlands on our way home.  Being free made the decision easy.  Are we ever glad we took that loop, Highway 240, through the Badlands!  The land and scenery were so surreal that we must have taken at least a hundred photos.  Outside it was 106 degrees and so hot that our phones heated up after taking pictures. We had to hold our phones up to the air conditioner in the car to cool them down.  It took us roughly two hours to drive through the Badlands, about seventy miles."

Road to adventure, The Badlands National Park

Dian can't think of a better way to travel than with a tiny trailer. "I have traveled in a Class C, a travel trailer, truck camper, and a pop-up tent.  Traveling with the teardrop is by far the best choice ever.  It's easy to tow, to park in a parking lot, to unhook or hook up and go, to stop and sleep, to driveway surf, to relax in at family’s and friends' homes, or at parks, at lakes, and at campgrounds.  The simple stop and crawl inside to sleep with no set up made it super easy to spend the night at truck stops, have everything we needed in our camper, and then ramble on down the road in the morning."

The trip did have a few challenges, but Bob and Dian met them like the experienced travelers they are. "The most challenging thing we had to do on the road was eating as healthily as we could and not spend too much money on fast food.  I did go through Pinterest for some camping food tricks and hacks which helped.  We did get a flat tire in Wyoming on our way to Montana, and I thank God that we were stopped at a gas station and that my husband noticed it before we got back on the road.  It was a truly a blessing that we had everything we needed, including a spare tire, to get the job done."

Now that the 2019 camping season is beginning, the Teschkes have plans for teardrop traveling again. "We plan to do a lot of camping this coming season in Ohio and Michigan during the weekends.  We own six acres and love taking the teardrop out to sleep overnight in the 'back 40.'  Just close enough to the restrooms.  We plan to end this year with a big bang by traveling to Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina, for the RTTC 2nd Annual Gathering. There’s something enjoyable about being around like-minded people."

Dian and Bob went into their trip thinking of all the favorite summer songs heard on the radio--the windows rolled down, hair blowing in the wind, singing loudly.  They recorded over six hundred songs on a flash drive to listen and sing to while driving.  "We had a blast singing.  We were excited to see family and to visit [Dian's] best friend from high school.  We wanted to add some new states, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota, under our belts.  We really enjoyed just being on the road again."

I wonder if one of the songs they sang was Willie Nelson's famous road song? Maybe someday you'll meet a "Bear in the Wild," while towing your own adventure down the road with you. And if those fellow adventurers are anything like Dian and Bob, they'll probably be smiling and singing happy songs.

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  1. Great article. I can't wait to meet some of the campers featured in your blog.

  2. One thing I've found from interviewing people for articles is that there are many good people out there. When we are bombarded with the negative, it's good to have positive experiences with engaging, supportive people. And you're one of those good people! Thanks for responding, Jim.

  3. Great interview! Thanks for sharing their story.

    1. It was my pleasure to write this story. It looked like it was a great trip.