By MIMI PACIFICO, SENIOR LIFESTYLES
Travel with all the comforts of home — well, at least as many as a 4-by-10-foot camper allows. Teardrop or tiny travel trailers have been around a long time, but are perhaps the best kept secret of the camping world.
Mary Ann Henderson discovered a simple way to enjoy the outdoors during her retirement years. For the last five, she has enjoyed camping trips to North and South Carolina and throughout Florida as part of an international club of teardrop and tiny travel trailer owners.
She caught the bug from a daughter who has a teardrop.
“A teardrop is perfect for one person, but many couples enjoy them too,” she said. “Most of the members of our club built their own, or at least have home-built models. Part of the fun of camping is to visit each site to see the different models. I have quite a collection of pictures of the different models.
“Mine has a bed about the size of a queen-sized mattress, six storage closets,’ and a kitchen that opens off the back end of the trailer. The lid of the trailer provides the roof of the kitchen complete with electric lights.
“My teardrop is equipped with a ventilating fan in the roof, cross ventilation, a DVD player and a canvass tarp, which provides a roof over my dining area. Some rigs have A/C and heat. I have an auxiliary canvass bathroom, which sets up like a tent held in place with poles. It affords a stand-up dressing area, toilet and shower facilities. The best part is it can be assembled in about 15 minutes.”
Henderson said she doesn’t care to camp much in the summer, preferring the cooler months from September through February.
“We have spent Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays outdoors,” she said.
There are several companies that build teardrops or tiny travelers but for many couples, the fun is in their own design.
“One woman made hers by herself,” Henderson said. “It is pink.”
Henderson drove a school bus for 19 years in Pennsylvania so she’s not afraid of driving a big rig or pulling a tiny one. She was also a Girl Scout leader and spent many a weekend camping with the girls. She loves the sweet smell of the woods and a camp fire. Consequently, the next step of owning a teardrop seemed natural.
At her home in Ormond Beach, she has a teardrop bird feeder and at camp, a teardrop mailbox for friends to leave notes.
As far as Henderson is concerned, she is living the good, simple life. After being a stay-at-home mom, she went to work as an activity director in a long-term care facility and as a school bus driver. Since retiring and moving to Florida in 1999, she works three days a week at Bishop’s Glen escorting residents to various activities.
“The other four days I can go camping,” she said.
On one excursion, even before she had checked in, she twisted her ankle when she stepped on a hickory nut. By the next morning, she knew the ankle needed medical attention and drove herself to a nearby emergency room. After the doctor X-rayed her ankle and put a splint on it, he dismissed his patient with strict orders: do not drive.
“If I see you get behind the wheel, I’ll call the police,” he threatened.
“The park ranger and another camper came to get me at the hospital,” Henderson said. “I spent the weekend sitting under my tarp enjoying nature and waiting for my son-in-law to fly from Portland, Ore. to drive me home.”
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