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Monday, August 18, 2014

Attending the IRG tiny travel trailer rally

I had to have bunting. I'd seen photos of European and Australian "caravans" with bunting and wondered why precious few American trailers ever use it as a glamping accessory. So, I found some fabric and bias tape, studied tutorials online, and put together a strand just in time to outfit The Glampette for the IRG (International Redwoods Gathering) at the Pamplin Grove campground in Carlotta, CA (just south of Eureka) back in the first week of July.

I mentioned in a previous post that my friend Fred flew out to WA to help me drive back to MI but on the way we stopped for two nights at the IRG. It was a 14 hour detour and a very fun stop. Fred has been a member of the tnttt.com forum for nine years but hadn't ever met in person a lot of the people he'd befriended during that time.

The event started a few days before we got there but we made it in time for the group picture and potluck dinner.

While we we took turns driving during the day the funny part was we had to be able to fit into the trailer together at night. The trailer with an interior length of 5'10" long, was never designed to hold two people, least of all her builder who is 5'9" tall. But, where there's a will there's a way. I tested sleeping on my 17" wide countertop as a top bunk using a 20" wide self-inflating camping mattress while planning to let Fred use my 30" wide "guest" bed below.

When I told him I'd made the garland of bunting in pink, aqua, and yellow Fred only had one thing to say: "I better bring a tent." He did bring his own sleeping bag and his tent as a back up in case things didn't work out.

A comfy, cozy, mini sleeper for two!

He was kind of long for the trailer but, as you can see, things worked out just fine! I never even almost rolled off the counter. LOL. We discovered if he slept diagonally he did fit inside with the door closed. He's kind of camera shy so this was the best picture I could get of us in trailer at the same time to prove it could be done. I did have to sleep with my head near the door because there wasn't enough clearance for it to fit under the lower front shelves.

Arriving at the Van Duzen County Park Pamplin Grove campsite we followed the signs and in no time were in the midst of 100 tiny trailers.

The campground has three basic areas: The meadow, in the redwood grove in the upper section, and in the grove in a lower section which is where we parked The Glampette. The woody in the foreground of the lower picture is my friend's Debbie and Randy's homebuilt trailer "Monstro" that I got to park next to at the Treasure Island Meet & Greet last fall.

I am slowly building up my glamping accoutrement. I put the bunting up during the day but took it down at night so it wouldn't get wet and dewy in the morning.

The event was hosted by "The Fog Crawler" and "The Teardrop Nanny." Those are the forum names for Dean and Joanie. They host their own Youtube channel "Outdoor Cast Iron Cooking" where you can learn to make things like Humboldt Dungeness Crab, their Legendary Bigfoot Burger, Waffle Dogs, and their version of Mountain Man Breakfast all made in Dutch Ovens while out camping.

And then there were the trailers. The one I was most looking forward to seeing was "Miss Piggy" designed and built by forum member Brian Woods (aka "Vedette") from British Columbia. You can read all about how Brian created Miss Piggy in this back issue of Cool Tears magazine beginning on page 14. When I saw the pictures of her I was hooked but when I read in the article all of the parts she's comprised of I was fascinated by Brian's build:

Miss Piggy is made up of parts from the following cars, trucks and motorcycles:
  • 1959 Simca Vedette - Main body, chrome moldings, and hood on roof.
  • 1951 Studebaker – Roof, door tops, nose, grill, bullet, interior moldings, and parts of under belly.
  • 1950 Studebaker – Roof, rear window, and door tops. Interior lights.
  • 1946 Chev PU – Rear cab used for front sheet metal and front window.
  • 1942 Chev PU – running lights.
  • 1954 Ford PU - Hood was used on under belly and front corners.
  • 1955 Merc PU – Hood was used for cheeks on nose.
  • 1936 Ford - Interior door pulls.
  • 1937 Ford – Taillight lenses and rings.
  • 1947 Ford – Park light Rings with Red Lenses.
  • 1961 Studebaker - Rocker panels and heater blower fan and assembly.
  • 1955 Chrysler 300 – Hubcaps
  • 1979 Acura – Air Conditioning fan & switches
  • 1993 Toyota Trecel – Jacks for rear
  • 1972 Honda Trail – Wheel used for shoreline holder.
  • 1965 BSA – Reflector for tail light.

Equally mesmerizing was Doug Hodder's American Voyager. I'd have to say Doug is one of the top builders in the country after seeing the impeccable craftsmanship he uses in building and finishing his trailers. The AV was simply stunning! My favorite thing I saw at the entire rally were the tiny, striped, metal, snap-on awnings over each window of the trailer.

I also took a liking to the Road Rocket. With tiny rocket taillights and a rear fin that also lights up it was a great example of a homebuilt, lightweight trailer weighing in at a mere 682 lbs.

And for pure novelty nobody could beat Roly Nelson's F-117 Stealth Fighter Teardrop Camper. When I saw it all I could wonder was how many accidents did he almost cause driving it up to the gathering because I'm sure everyone who saw him on the highway not only did a double take but tried to get a picture of his creative camper while they were driving.

These were the trailers I had time to see upon our arrival. There are lots more later in the post.

For starters no sooner did we arrive it was time to head up for the group picture. Best efforts were made with a McGyver'ed camera attached to helium balloons, a cord, and a fishing pole to get an arial group shot. Unfortunately the camera wasn't facing the right direction so I grabbed this shot from a video Pinecone (aka Greg Pang) put together. Dean did get a great arial shot from high in the redwoods included at the beginning of his video coming up later in the post.

Before dinner there was a raffle to enter. Each day attendees receive a strand of raffle tickets. You walk up and down the lines of prizes and drop them in the bags of the ones you want to win. I put almost all of my tickets into the bag for this vintage Coleman picnic stove. Fred knew I wanted it so he put some of his tickets in too. LOL I think we put in 94% of the tickets in that particular bag so it wasn't a huge surprise I won it!

Now, the only problem is I found out the liquid propane fuel tanks it needs are obsolete so unless I can find a conversion kit to a current fuel source I'll have to think of a way to use it for something else.

The community picnic area is under the canopy of redwoods and includes a large kitchen.

Saturday night was a potluck dinner. I think at every tiny trailer rally Saturday night is always the potluck dinner. Fred and I were so busy socializing we barely had time to put together our fruit salad (pictured in the upper right corner) and make it up there in time for dinner. The cast iron cooks were busy that day. There were Dutch ovens lined along the tables full of steaming hot, oven baked goodness. I really want to find a vintage oven or two and start learning how to cook with them in Fred's backyard fire pit.

Dinner was served. And it was delicious!

Speaking of cooking, the next day for breakfast I made hash brown potatoes, Prather Ranch bacon, and eggs.

After making a good (but not very pretty) breakfast the first day I realized the proper order is to make your eggs first, then the potatoes, then the bacon. I kept the eggs and potatoes warm by putting them on a plate and flipping another plate over them as a lid then put them back in the fry pan after spooning out as much of the bacon grease as I could.

I also hardboiled a few eggs so we could have them as snacks.

I was kind of tickled to see my Acura Integra wasn't the only passenger car acting as a tow vehicle. While most folks use large pick ups and SUV's there were a few others who have found they are able to tow with less traditional vehicles.

There were so many trailers and so little time I wasn't able to photograph all of them. Dean did manage to include all but 20 in his video below along with that arial shot I mentioned earlier.

by Dean of Cast Iron Cooking

Here are a few I did shoot. The trailer in the top left corner with the yellow fenders and round door is one that inspired me greatly to pursue getting a trailer of my own. Way back when Vacations In a Can was featured in Sunset magazine. Based near Petaluma, CA they put the whole concept of teardropping within reach for me. I'd planned to rent a trailer to test out if I wanted one but soon found that unnecessary as I'd successfully talked myself into wanting one without ever having stayed in one before. LOL

Beneath it was the trailer of Grant Whipp, another member/builder I was looking forward to meeting in person. Grant owns Li'l Bear Tag Alongs a business that sells teardrop trailer partsplans, and custom built trailers. His website also lists upcoming gatherings and offers a nationwide classified ads section for those who want to buy local rather than build a trailer to come out to CA to pick up one of Grant's trailers.

And this is Greg Pang known as "Pinecone" on the forum. He was someone I'd become friends with online and got to meet in person. Like me, he's a huge advocate of the teardrop lifestyle when traveling. He also made this great recap video that shows what the rally was like including the days I missed. . . Take a peek:

by Pinecone (aka Greg Pang)

Another member I knew from the forum who I got to meet in person was Ted (aka "Gudmund") who had dropped into a thread I started about the DIY rain shield I made for my roof vent last winter. He recommended a Maxair II plastic vent cover that fits over the vent that shields the open vent from rain coming into the cabin and allows you to leave the vent cover open while in transit. He uses one on his teardrop "Wanderin' Aimlessly" and loves it. While I did like the idea I just couldn't imagine it looking cute or unobtrusive enough to be on The Glampette.

So he found me and brought his over and let me set it down on top of my trailer so I could see for myself what it would look like. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. From the side it kind of looked like a shark fin. LOL. And the plastic was translucent, not opaque, which made it more attractive than I thought it would be. I will say I'm more open to the thought now than I was before but still not ready to make the leap just yet :)

I also spotted a few canned ham trailers. The one on top is called a Grasshopper and looks like a teeny tiny Winnebago. The lower blue and white Sero Scotty is a classic canned ham (look a the shape).

The Glampette was much more styling by the end of the rally than at the beginning. Debbie brought over some fresh roses when she left Sunday morning so I set them on The Glampette's tongue box beside a bottle of wine Fred won for me at the raffle on Saturday night. He reads my blog so he knows I love my wine.

A big thank you to Fred for coming out to help me drive back to MI and for being such a good sport and sleeping in a trailer that was just a few inches too short and even worse, glamped out in girly colors and bunting :P

And a huge thank you to Dean and Joanie for hosting such a great event. We couldn't have felt more welcome. It was a lot of fun and I hope to make it back to the redwoods and the IRG in years to come, hopefully so I can be there from start to finish one year and see all of the trailers, not just the ones closest to where I parked.

The IRG is held every other year and has limited space so if you want to attend be sure to join tnttt.com and watch for a new thread and updates to register on time for the IRG 2016.

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