Starling Travel

March 31, 2012

Teardrop American Outbacker: Our Dream Teardrop Trailer

Filed under: Camping,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

After months and months of a teardrop trailer obsession, I have finally found one for myself. After so many unsuccessful tent camping attempts, we got to the point where we were able to consider a simple trailer. (Continue Reading…)

Camping Furniture at the Beach

Filed under: California,Camping,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 8:28 am

Mike and I spent the day at Corona Del Mar State Beach in Newport, California last week and it was wonderful. The sun was bright, the pelicans were diving for fish and the dolphins were jumping out of the water to give us a show.

We brought our camping chairs and folding table and it was the first time I had ever used my camping furniture at the beach. I probably wouldn’t have even thought of it, but we had brought the tent and furniture to camp at San Elijo. The cold air blowing over the ocean cancelled our camping plans, but having the furniture in the car made our trip to the beach idyllic.

It reminds me that our equipment shouldn’t be so compartmentalized in my mind. They aren’t just camping chairs, they are also beach chairs. It isn’t just the lightweight table I set up in our tent, it’s a beach table, holding the sea shells that Mike found along the shore.

Next time you think you need something for a day trip, think about your camping gear. Could you use it for this trip? You might be surprised at how much money you save.

March 24, 2012

Cheapest Hotel In Town

Filed under: Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 10:33 am

You know you’re in the cheapest hotel in town when you wake up to the strains of The Hangover Song coming through the wall of your hotel room. The sing song tune is easy to master and the lyrics are simple:

I have a hangover! [repeat ad infinitum]

Ironically, your hotel neighbors can only sing The Hangover Song if they are still slightly drunk from the night before.

Note: This rule does not apply if you are staying in Las Vegas, New Orleans or Atlantic City. You may be awoken by The Hangover Song even in the finest hotels in those cities.

March 16, 2012

Tailgate Partymate: The Easy Camp Kitchen

Filed under: Camping — Laura Moncur @ 11:59 am

One thing that I love about teardrop trailers is their hatchback kitchen. I’ve tried to find inexpensive ways to outfit my Prius with a similar kitchen, but without major woodcrafting, there really isn’t anything out there.

One option, however, is the Tailgate Partymate. Here is a commercial showing it off.

Tailgate Partymate at Amazon.comThat commercial says it’s three hundred bucks, which sounds outrageous, but you can get it on Amazon for only $90, so that’s a much better price.

I love my Mega Camp Kitchen, but it does take about ten minutes to set up. More importantly, it takes a bunch of space in my car. The Tailgate Partymate would sit outside my car on the back, so I wouldn’t have to fill my car with the camp kitchen.

One problem with the Tailgate Partymate is that it’s SO UGLY. That bright yellow tubing just screams. They do have options on their website to order it in your team’s colors. Personally, I don’t want a team logo on my car either.

Another problem I had with it was that the connection to the hitch made the whole thing look a little floppy. If you notice on this video, you can really see it rock when he pulls out the passenger side table.

I don’t want my hot camp stove on anything that isn’t incredibly sturdy. I can’t find a review from anyone online who actually OWNS one, so it’s impossible to tell whether these tables are sturdy enough or not.

In the end, I’m not willing to pay ninety bucks for something that might not work for me and is so brightly colored. I’m still looking for something that will work for my dream hatchback kitchen. The Tailgate Partymate comes close, but it’s not quite what I want.

March 9, 2012

3 Dreamers RV Park

Filed under: Camping — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Visiting Quartzsite, Arizona in a tent is more difficult than I thought it would be. There were plenty of RV parks willing to give us a site, but none of them would let us have electricity. Since the weather was threatening to be in the upper thirties that week, we really wanted to have an electric heater.

We kept calling RV parks, moving further and further away from the city until we finally reached 3 Dreamers RV Park.

It’s easy to miss them unless you’re looking for this sign at the side of the road. They are listed as being in Salome, but they are actually a few miles out of town.

They are strictly an RV park and didn’t really know what to do with our tent. They put us right next to the community room, where the bathrooms and showers were. They let us plug into the electricity there as well.

I liked the simplicity of the RV Park rules. The hand painted sign looked so inviting to me.

The people who lived there, didn’t really know how to deal with tent campers like us. Everyone was very friendly, though.

Every night, we heard a solitary owl outside our tent, hooting. We tried to see it, but never did. Based on its call, we decided that it must be a Great Horned Owl. We’ll always remember 3 Dreamers for that owl.

It’s not really fair to give the park credit for the lovely sunsets every night, but they were one of our favorite features of the place.

There were two negatives about the park. The first was that they really didn’t know what to do with our tent, which made us feel like we were intruding. The second was that the area smelled like manure every morning. I don’t know if there was a cow farm nearby or maybe a compost pile, but the smell was quite strong and inescapable in our tent.

On the whole, our stay at 3 Dreamers RV Park was a wonderful one. We enjoyed it there and it was a welcome escape from the noisy and busy areas near Quartzsite.

March 8, 2012

The Quartzsite RV Show: I Am Not The Target Audience

Filed under: Arizona,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Last January, Mike and I attended the Quartzsite RV Show in Arizona. It has now been almost two months since the show and I can safely say that it was not for me.

The RV shows in Salt Lake City are huge collections of trailers, motorhomes and campers all available for sale. The hype around the Quartzsite show was that it was, and I quote,

The largest gathering of RVers in the world.

I thought that meant that I would be able to look at trailers and campers from every manufacturer in the U.S., but I read it wrong. It’s the largest GATHERING of RVers, not RV dealers or manufacturers. It was a show for people who RV, not an RV show.

Sure, there were a few RV dealers there, but they brought only the biggest and most extreme motorhomes and fifth wheels. I literally had a salesman laugh at me when I said we were looking for trailers 16 feet or smaller. He said,

“You can’t even sleep in 16 feet.”

That was the moment when I realized that the man had never heard of a teardrop trailer, much less had one to show me. For weeks before the show, I dreamt about finally being able to see a Heartland MPG or Forest River RPod in person. I stared my disappointment in the face as the salesman tried to show us a Starcraft AR One, which is quite possibly the ugliest lightweight trailer on the market today.

The big tent was filled with As Seen On TV products. It was like the Utah State Fair, but there were THREE salsa making demonstrations instead of just one. There were a few representatives from campgrounds there, trying to attract RVers, but when we asked if they had tent sites, they looked at us like we were insane. I could almost hear the gears clicking in their skulls. “Why would you sleep in a tent when you can sleep in an RV?” I could almost hear the question come to their lips, but they just shook their heads and said, “No, we don’t have any tent sites.” It was as if I had stepped into another dimension, where sleeping in a tent was nearly incomprehensible.

When we ate lunch, we sat at a table with three other couples. All of us enjoyed the delicious BBQ and talked about what we had seen. I asked them a few questions. “Are any of you full-timers?” Only one couple was. The other two were escaping the bad weather in Canada and Minnesota.

“Did any of you camp in tents before you bought your RVs?” Everyone said that they had. “Why did you buy RVs?” The answers were unanimous. They were sick of sleeping on the ground. I held my tongue and didn’t mention the cots that set up in less than a minute. None of them mentioned the cold, which is the only reason I’m really attracted to an RV.

I wished them all well and gave them my phone number so they could call me when they passed through SLC on the way back home, but it was obvious to me that I would never see any of them again.

Quartzsite just isn’t my scene. I’m not the target audience.

Starcraft AR One Photo Via: Starcraft AR One 2012

March 7, 2012

The Top Five Benefits of Owning a Redneck Trailer

Filed under: Camping,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

I found this trailer in my local classified listings the other day and I was enchanted with it.

For two hundred bucks, it didn’t promise me very much.

Looking to sell camper with trailer bed. has been fun for camping trips. ice box fridge. table that folds into bed. second pull out bed up top. with cushions. closet to hang clothes. three burner stove, oven, and heater all work good. propane tank. no leaks. priced to sell for spring.

I don’t know whether there are no leaks in the propane tank or if the owner promises that the roof of the trailer doesn’t have a leak, but it doesn’t matter. Mike would never be seen in a trailer that looked like this.

I, on the other hand, could think of a bunch of reasons to use a trailer like this.

It only cost $200, so I don’t care if it breaks down in a year.

If the roof starts leaking or the axle breaks, I can just haul the thing to the dump and be done with it. It only cost me $200, so as long as it lasts one camping season, it has done its job. Any more time than that is just gravy.

People will be shocked that I am not a redneck or they’ll assume I am.

If they assume I’m a redneck and avoid me, I didn’t particularly want to meet someone who is that judgmental. If they are nice enough to get to know me, then they’ll probably be impressed that I have all my teeth and can articulate a coherent thought with wit. If they automatically like me because they are rednecks as well, then that’s one more friendly person I’ll encounter that trip.

Ugly trailers are just as warm as pretty ones.

My biggest problem with camping is that I get COLD in those Utah mountains. There is only a two month window in which camping in a tent is pleasant in Utah, but I want to camp all year long. This ugly trailer could keep me warm on those cold nights in March and October.

No phone, no lights, no motorhome, not a single luxury.

If there is no toilet, there is no black water tank to empty. If there is no faucet, there is no fresh water tank to worry about. The plainer the trailer, the easier it will be to maintain.

It’s the ugliest trailer in the campground.

If there is a thief breaking into campers, he will pass right by this rusty old thing. I could have an LCD TV and several iPods in that trailer, but they’d be safe as could be because no one would believe that we could have anything nice in a trailer that ugly.

The next time you cringe at how ugly your camping trailer is, remember that there are several benefits to owning an old and beat up trailer. Take that old girl out on your next camping trip and be proud of her.

March 6, 2012

iCamp Trailers by URVUSA

Filed under: Camping,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

I was searching under the term “truck camper on utility trailer” and an image of the iCamp trailer came up. I have no idea why it showed up in that search, but I immediately fell in love with it.

It reminded me of the T@B trailer, but roomier.

At 2366 pounds, it can be towed by a regular car like a Subaru Outback. and the floor plan is quite compact.

The first thing I noticed was all the rounded corners. All of the cabinetry has a modern feel that makes this trailer feel retro AND modern all at the same time.

During the day, the trailer has a nice, U-shaped dinette set.

At night, it folds down into a queen bed.

Best of all, it has a wet bath.

I love the look of this trailer, but it does have one fatal flaw. The interior height is only 5’11”, so Mike wouldn’t be able to stand up in it. It’s a great trailer for me or anyone else who is short, but for many men, it just isn’t tall enough.

Continue reading for more photos and video tours of the iCamp: (Continue Reading…)

March 5, 2012

Teardrop Showdown: Little Guy Silver Shadow Vs. Camp-Inn 550

Filed under: Camping,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

The two biggest producers of teardrop trailers are Little Guy Teardrop Trailers and Camp-Inn Teardrop Travel Trailers. Both of them make retro-styled trailers, but which one is better? Is it worth it to drive all the way to Wisconsin to buy a Camp-Inn? Is it better to just go to a local dealer for a Little Guy? Starling Travel is judging these trailers to answer just that using these criteria: Retro Styling, Kitchen Features, Pricing, and Availability.

Continue reading for the rest of the story: (Continue Reading…)

March 4, 2012

The T@B Clamshell: When Will It Come Back?

Filed under: Camping,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Mike and I saw a listing for a T@B Clamshell trailer at a local dealer. Even though our little Prius couldn’t tow it, we took the drive up north to see it. They are so rare to see in person, that I just couldn’t resist.

Even though the graphics on the side aren’t retro by any stretch of the imagination, I still loved how this trailer looked. The blue is the appropriate color of aqua to please me, apparently.

I even liked the huge T@B logo on the back of the trailer.

I absolutely adore the kitchen in the back of the trailer. I love to be outdoors while I’m cooking and a clamshell teardrop is the best way to achieve that with little setup. This T@B had a sink and a fridge (12V only). The water reservoir for the sink was in the cabinet under the sink. It was just a five gallon jug that you could carry to the water faucet and fill by hand.

I was a little wary of the cooktop, however. I’ve had a couple of greasy pans flare up while cooking and I would feel much more comfortable if the cooktop had a metal wind guard around it.

The downside of the T@B came inside, however. Mike is six feet tall, so he did not fit in the bed. I loved that the bed converted to a table, but Mike would have hit his head on the wall of the trailer every night if he tried to squeeze in there to sleep.

The ceiling height was 5’9″, so Mike couldn’t stand in the trailer either. It was tall enough for him to be able to put on his pants, but he would definitely have to sit on the bed or bench to put on a shirt in the cabin.

One other problem with the T@B is there is no place for Mike to sit if he’s not sleeping. There was an adorable bench next to the door and flanking a window. I imagined I could sit there and read a book if it were raining outside, but when Mike tried to sit there, he couldn’t fit. The curved roof prevented him from finding a comfortable way to sit on that lovely little bench.

He was able to sit on the spot above the Cool Cat heater, but it was a pretty small spot and it was right next to the bed, so he didn’t feel comfortable there, either. In the end, it wasn’t a good fit for my husband, but for me, I was in retro heaven.

Sadly, no one is making the T@B Clamshell design right now. Little Guy is making T@B Trailers, but they are only making the Q floor plan. You can see a tour of their T@B trailers here:

I fell in love with the T@B Clamshell and I wish I could buy a brand new one from Little Guy right now. All I need to do is convince my husband that a bumped head every now and again is a small price to pay for a lightweight trailer that can keep us warm when we camp in the winter.

Update 03-31-12: Just noticed on the T@B website that the T@B clamshell design is coming back in Fall this year!

Thanks, Little Guy, for bringing back the best designed almost-standy teardrop!

Update 11-22-12: Little Guy has just announced TWO new floor plans! The return of the clamshell design AND one with a BATHROOM!

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