Planning a trip? Dreaming of travel? Perhaps some of our adventures could inspire yours! Over the last several years we’ve had the distinct pleasure of many cross country journeys traveling though the Lower 48 in tents and our various teardrop campers as well as an amazing Alaska adventure that did not involve a camper. To learn more about our day to day adventures, recent blog posts are below. To learn more about Steve & Karen, click on the About Us link. All Things T@B is about using and caring for T@B trailers. Every other link is about travel adventures. Enjoy exploring, and leave us comments! We love hearing from you. And if you’d like to follow us, Subscribe by signing up at the bottom of this page.
Finally, Labor Day 2020 has come and gone so the camping season should begin winding down. Although we’ve stayed isolated at home since mid-March (with the one exception of a quick trip to Sugarcreek), for many it’s been a year to foray into the world of RV travel. Folks that we know and those that we follow on YouTube have been reporting unprecedented crowds at campgrounds this summer, so although camping is a good way to practice social distancing, we chose not to participate until after the holiday weekend. For us it’s been a good summer in many ways. We’ve developed some excellent new lifestyle habits, done some nice home improvements, and acquired products to enhance our life in the T@B. At long last we have now ventured out in Redford with Sc@rlett in tow. Standing Indian Campground in the Nantahala National Forest near Franklin, North Carolina was our first outing. Although visitors to the area tend to flock to the campgrounds in the nearby Smoky Mountains Park, Standing Indian is a favorite among locals. It’s lovely. At 3800 feet above sea level, these September days have been cool in the mornings and warm in the afternoon. The sites are widely spaced. We chose #53, not far from Kimsey Creek, a First Come site, because it was the sunniest spot available when we arrived and registered for three nights. Our plan was to test our upgraded dry camping capabilities. We now have rooftop solar as well as our suitcase panels to feed our batteries. Those batteries have an additional load on them now because we are now carrying a portable chest style 110V/12V compressor driven refrigerator to help the existing 110V/12V Norcold accommodate all the fresh foods we are eating these days. Also new is a drinking water filtration system so that we feel comfortable using the water from the fresh water tank for our beverages. After the first three nights we assessed the levels in our tanks and how much we’d been using our generator to supplement our solar, and registered for three more nights. Ultimately we stayed five nights. We learned that although we can do a great job of managing our fresh water usage and our gray water accumulation, the capacity of our black tank is our limiting factor. We also learned that although we appreciated the extra refrigerator space, the extra compressor was enough of a draw that with some shade, some clouds, and the shorter days of late summer that our solar array couldn’t totally meet our power needs. We needed run the generator daily, sometimes just two hours and up to six hours on rainy days. We also learned how much we enjoy internet connectivity. In some ways we enjoyed being unconnected. In other ways we regretted not having downloaded some extra ebooks, music, podcasts, and movies before we left home. We also appreciated the time to read books that we did have with us, work on some hobbies, and organize the bed of the truck. And best of all, we took long walks, had some great conversations with other campers, saw an awesome restored vintage 1960 trailer, met some T@G owners – an Atlanta based couple, and crafted some fabulous meals! Looking forward to our next expedition!
As a counterbalance to our dreaming of hitting the road, and of field testing some of our new life on the road equipment in our own driveway, we’re making a concerted effort to enjoy life in our mountain house. This morning we awakened in Sc@rlett, our T@B 400 which is currently in a dry camping mode (no shore power, no city water hookup, no sewer connection) to a chilly August morning. Our first act was to turn on the inverter and the coffee maker and watch the Victron app so see how much battery power was needed. Then we headed to the house and out onto the deck to savor that coffee, and some Berkey filtered water while sitting next to our propane firepit and doing some planning for the day. After our morning exercise we hit the kitchen to prepare a sumptuous brunch and savored that under a canopy on the deck. Now we’re onto some more testing as well as daily living activities. Now Steve’s setting up a our two Zamp 80W panels as supplement to our Sunflare 192W rooftop solar that’s chilling out in the shade and once our batteries are back up to 100%, we’ll turn on the Norcold 12V fridge in the camper and watch the draw. Then perhaps tomorrow we’ll add the newly acquired Kuppet portable fridge, which we acquired to house all the fresh vegetables that we love to eat, to the mix of appliances that create the biggest drain on our battery bank. Hopefully after Labor Day we’ll head out a nearby national forest to do some real life dry camping and give our boondocking plan a true field test.
Back in January we made an appointment with Austin at nüCamp for June 30th, the Tuesday after üCamp20 to have rooftop solar installed on our 2018 T@B 400. Little did we know that Winklepleck would still be closed and üCamp20 would be cancelled. Thus we wouldn’t already be in Sugarcreek. Knowing that the solar additon would enhance our ability for off-grid camping, a helpful thing with the profound explosion in interest in RV travel this summer, we chose to keep the appointment. And then we thought of other mods that Wendell and Mark and the nüCamp repair shop crew could do so much more easily than we. We arrived at the factory Monday evening and settled into one of the courtesy sites. Soon we were joined by Jenn & Rocky, and Allison & Darren for a lovely “bring your own chairs and beverages and sit far apart” style visit. Early Tuesday morning brought the opportunity to totally unmake our bed and transfer the mattresses and all the bedding to the backseat of our truck to allow access to both the underbed area and the dinette before turning the trailer over for mods. Then after a couple of little errands we embarked on a series of mostly outdoor visits with nüCamp friends that we’ve made through the years, Brenda, Ed, Jesse, and Marvin before learning our mods were finished and we could remake the bed and move back to the courtesy site for one more night. Oh, the joy of the lovely Sunflare panel on the roof, the Maxxair Deluxe in the cabin, the Fan-Tastic Fan relocated to the shower, the single handle shower valve, and the lightweight 2021 dinette table! Each little thing makes our T@B life just a little sweeter. Then we enjoyed an opportunity to visit with our son and his fiancée in nearby Canton. This morning we had more great visiting opportunities with Nate, Elsie, and John as we settled our invoice and a chance to meet new team member, Brent. As we returned to our T@B we were delighted to see fellow T@Bbers Larry & Janette and just before departure we had a great conversation with Joe Mullet gave us all to a chance reflect on our first meeting eleven years ago, when the two of us purchased our Silver Shadow, and all the goodness since. As we head home we are ever so grateful to be a part of this amazing organization and community!
Believe it or not, we’re on the road, prompted by an appointment in Sugarcreek that we made back in January for a couple of mods. We also see it as a test of a couple of things. Can we travel with our T@B 400 and social distance? And can we incorporate features of our newer at home routine into our on the road routine? We left yesterday early afternoon. So far so good. Using facilities in our own trailer at rest areas and fuel stops, including meal breaks is working nicely. There was an apparent non-concern over precautions at our campground check-in but we used our own masks and hand sanitizing. Now as far as new routine, we’re pleased so far. We enjoyed coffee outside then went for a long brisk walk and then another leisurely cup of coffee before hitting the road. Now we’re at a rest stop preparing breakfast! Self-contained is good!
It’s a rare treat for us to be celebrating Midsummer here on our mountainside enjoying cool misty mornings, sunny afternoons, pleasant evenings, oh yeah, and a fair number of rain showers. But then again that helps explain these lush green woods. The rhododendron are in bloom here in the Smokies and there’s quite a variety of mushrooms popping up. Of course we are thinking back to other adventures we have enjoyed on Summer Solstice. Fourteen years ago we were hiking at midnight in Talkeetna. Nine years ago today we participated in an old fashioned Sheep Shearing and four years ago when we didn’t wait for the Strawberry Moon to come up after a busy day. This evening we’re sitting by the firepit enjoying the gathering dusk on this longest day of the year, talking to and texting with friends with whom we’d love to be sharing this evening and counting our blessings.
Fourteen years ago today after three years of planning, forty-four friends embarked on a two week adventure to the Land of the Midnight Sun, just in time for the Summer Solstice. From Fairbanks and Denali to Ketchican and the Inside Passage we had one fabulous adventure after another. The two of us chronicled it day by day on our blog which you can see by clicking here. From there you can see the video recap by clicking on the green button at the top of that first page or by clicking here.
This is the time of year we usually begin enjoying a constantly changing landscape view through the windshield as we embark on a Road Trip Adventure. This year we’re at our mountain house enjoying watching the landscape change as Spring evolves into Summer and the great green curtain surrounds our house and deck. There’s another landscape that has developed inside our house and that involves fun beverages. As part of our journey of discovery of the world of cocktails we’ve learned more than we ever thought we wanted to know about bitters, that class of cocktail flavoring agents that serves as the spice shelf in the world of spirits. We were spurred on by reading Brad Thomas Parsons’ book Bitters. We recently discovered Kegworks, an online source for these little bottles and invested in an twelve pack sampler plus a few more. They have a nice beginners guide to bitters. The absolutely delightful discovery is that we don’t have to limit the use of bitters to cocktails, especially since those are just an occasional treat. Bitters can take a cup of coffee, a glass of iced tea, and any number of foods to the next level. Cheers!
Well this post is incredibly overdue. We should have introduced Redford, our new family member in the last days of October when he took on the responsibility as our tow vehicle and sole transportation. Blame it on Amanda who introduced us to Big Red Truck, lovingly referred to as Bert, last Spring. We were really impressed with the 2016 Ford F-150 Platinum as a travel and tow vehicle. Mechanically it is well able to handle our camper in all sorts of situations, even long stretches of 10% uphill grades and to travel great distances between gas stations. Then there’s the creature comforts and the 21st Century electronics and hands free communications, all very appreciated in a vehicle which is our home as well as transportation half the year. The truth is that we actually were not in the market to replace Eric the Red quite yet when we walked onto the local Ford dealer’s lot and saw this amazingly well equipped red pickup. We knew it was just what we wanted. We checked with Amanda who assured us that she had absolutely no regrets with her purchase so we headed on back to the lot and made a deal. We all got a big chuckle when we got together with her in February and the almost identical twins were parked almost next to each other! And by the way we recognized Eric parked in local parking lot early this year and got to meet his new owner. Seems like he found a great new home! Now the next challenge is to find an opportunity to take Redford out for a nice long adventure.
Today presented us with one of those rare excuses to get out of the house, to stop by the recycling center with our refuse, to fuel our truck for the first time in two months at $1.589/gallon – when’s the last time we saw that price? And especially to pick up our mail. Just getting out of the house feels like an adventure in this era of social distancing, but the mail reminded us of adventures past and future. One piece of mail was The Cahokian Newsletter reminding us of our visit last September to Cahokia, an amazing pre-Columbian urban center near St Louis that at in the 11th Century was a larger city that either London or Paris. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site well worth visiting. Another piece was the AAA Carolinas Go Magazine with an intriguing article entitiled Tell Me a Story about Jonesborough, Tennessee, a location that for a long time we’ve been promising ourselves we’d visit and explore. Hopefully restrictions will ease in the coming weeks and we may once again be free to move about the country.
As we were doing our last grocery shopping prior to our governor’s executive order to Stay at Home, we noticed some Yancey’s Fancy cheese at our local grocery store where we regularly peruse the offerings for an out of the ordinary cheese or two. Then as we started making our way through our stock of food, we saved the Champagne and the Horseradish cheeses for later. Finally last week we pulled them out and served them as an appetizer for Friday night dinner and they were a big hit! Actually it’s not our first encounter with Yancey’s. In 2013, on our first trip with our T@B Clamshell we ventured into New York and in Westfield discovered this line of artisan cheeses crafted in Corfu, New York. Of course we had to get some more and the most logical action would be to order online and have some shipped from the factory. And they’re here. As we excitedly pulled the wedges from the insulated and chilled box, we realized we’d just avoided the situation of “No Cheese” that any Wallace & Gromit fan may recognize as most dreaded. Life is good!