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Teardrops in the Plomosas
Tents and trailers teamed up for a great camping weekend in the Arizona desert.
By Fred Pausch
No matter where you travel lately it seems you’re bound to see the iconic shape of a teardrop trailer heading toward its destination. With its sleek familiar shape, there’s no mistaking this again popular if not diminutive member of the RV family. However, after spending several days with a group of teardrop owners in the beautiful Plomosa Mountains of Arizona, we found there’s nothing diminutive about the teardrop’s abilities or their owner’s loyalty.
Meeting up with the group outside Quartzsite, Arizona, we were treated to nearly the full line of Little Guy models pulled by a variety of tow vehicles ranging from Toyota Prius Hybrid daily drivers to highly modified Jeep Wranglers. From the basic 4-foot by 8-foot model to an extreme and over-the-top off-road model, it also became obvious that these versatile trailers lend themselves well to customizing. No matter what your style of camping may be, the teardrop is highly adaptable. The experience level of the owners in attendance also spanned newbie to veteran, and this outing, like most RV rallies, proved to be a valuable forum for all. Getting a first hand look at what works and how other owners had personalized their trailers helped streamline the learning curve, build confidence, avoid potential missteps and enhance the overall RV camping experience.
We convoyed to a beautiful remote campsite in the historical mining district where lead destined for use in WWI was mined and later, gold and copper ore added to the incredible mineral wealth extracted from the drifts and shafts that still crater the terrain. Recent rains had jump-started the spring bloom creating striking oases of color against the area’s stark volcanic topography.
Setting up camp was an amusing beehive of activity as colorful fitted screenrooms and awnings went up to moderate an unexpected spike in spring temperatures. It was interesting to watch the parade of gear being unloaded from the teardrops validating their unique ability to offer a simple yet complete and comfortable way to enjoy the outdoors. Equally as entertaining was the witty banter from campers who were already friends.
The Paha Que` Tent Company, manufacturer of add-on screen rooms and covers for Little Guy teardrops decided to throw one of its long-standing customer-appreciation camping trips for its tent customers to share outdoor experiences and have some fun. Paha Que’s involvement with Little Guy accessories, encouraged by Little Guy’s San Diego dealership, led to this inaugural teardrop outing where teardrop campers could meet, share information and enjoy a long weekend of camaraderie in a beautiful location. The tent and teardrop connection was a natural.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
With camp made and the first of several spectacular sunsets at hand, there were plenty of opportunities for people to relax, chat and get acquainted. Mike’s a recently retired public utility professional from Michigan touring the U.S. in his newly purchased teardrop and had stopped in Arizona to visit friends. He happened to see the online notice about this trip, was intrigued and showed up. His accidental discovery turned into a side trip filled with amazing sights and newfound friends that will likely fill an entire scrapbook. David, an Arizona medical prosthetics designer, explained that he had been searching online for Amish-built furniture and during a search the Amish-built Little Guy teardrop popped up. His interest grew in the trailer and now he and his girlfriend enjoy teardrop outings whenever they can get away.
Mary’s a retired Arizona teacher and ceramics artist who was looking online for a cargo trailer to transport her Cattle Track pottery. One of her searches turned up the teardrop design, which caught her eye. After additional research, Mary bought one of the company’s Silver Shadow models that closely resemble the original 1940’s aluminum-skinned teardrop complete with wide whitewall tires. When not used for camping, her teardrop serves as her office when attending art fairs.
Bruce got into teardrops a while back while recovering from a broken leg. In a cast and bored, a friend of his was building his own teardrop from online plans and Bruce took a closer look. Bruce was hooked and began building his own. He arrived for this trip in his seventh hand-built teardrop with a For Sale sign, apparently ready to start number eight.
Chris works in the aviation industry in Las Vegas and brought his highly modified Rough Rider model. Color matched to his Jeep Wrangler in a brilliant Bumble Bee yellow and sporting 35-inch tires on both, Chris deftly demonstrated on both trail rides that this teardrop is quite content to follow his Jeep anywhere. Designed for extreme off-road use including a roll-bar exo-skeleton for protection, the teardrop features a multi-axis style hitch, but still retains all the usual creature comforts needed to bring camping civility to the back country, including cabin air conditioning powered by a small generator. Diana, a property manager from Temecula, summed up the teardrop lifestyle for her saying “it involves the friendliest people in the world.” A teardrop meets her needs. It’s easy to pull, easy to set up, and by design offers an outdoor lifestyle. She couldn’t be happier in her 4-foot by 8-foot, “4-Wide” model.
HOST OF ACTIVITIES
Refreshed under a star-lit night, morning found the group involved in a variety of activities. Some decided to explore the nearby washes and bedrock formations with a metal detector in search of riches while others shared their favorite coffee blends, enjoyed a walk or recorded the blooming desert through their lens. Later, everyone jumped into the trail-worthy tow vehicles and set off on the first of two guided back road tours of the area led by Paha Que’s President, Jeff Basford.
Basford has explored the area and is a bit of a history buff when it comes to this region. The group was given the opportunity to get a close up, hands-on look at the mining operations of a generation past, the history of their efforts and see the colorful claim markers of present day prospectors. Jeff even conjured up the sudden appearance of a desert bighorn ram. Now that’s tour guide mojo! Only one tire dueled with the sharp rocks and lost, but after a quick tire change, we were back on the trail to camp where the rest of the evening was spent relaxing, talking teardrops and visiting under a starry sky.
The following day dawned cooler with cloud cover custom made for striking photography. A second trail ride expanded on the first offering new vistas and stories of life in the Arizona Territory prior to statehood. Returning to camp, thoughts turned to the finale potluck dinner and the realization that the weekend was nearing its end. Just before the evening meal, our tour guide and historian was recognized and presented with a thank you gift from everyone for guiding and adding such an interesting historical dimension to the trip. And if all the tasty food wasn’t enough, everyone was treated to an incredible sunset that will likely be the last entry in many journals for that trip.
These campers have discovered a unique way to enjoy the outdoors, and if you’re interested in more information about a first-rate camping experience, tents or teardrops, contact:
Little Guy Trailers, 858-277-7607,
Little Guy Worldwide, 877-545-4897,
Paha Que` Wilderness Inc., 888-700-8368,