It’s crazy how things can work. A year ago we were re-energized about our little Silver Shadow and we had a great camping season despite my bad wrist issues. We were still thinking that eventually we’d get something bigger, but not likely any time soon. Yeah, it was pretty scary that last night camping in NH when I had to go to the bathroom at 3 in the morning and the bathhouse was nowhere near our site and I could hear something (not someone!) walking behind me on the way back. I was pretty sure it was a bear. But that stuff makes for good stories, not for changing camping styles.

At the beginning of this year, as we began to plan for trips this year and next, we worked on a trip to the West Coast and thought about renting a camper van to take to Sequoia and Yosemite. We started to make reservations and then decided to move that trip to next year so we could spend more time planning. We decided to focus instead on the idea of going to Acadia and Maine again this year. Our favorite spot was booked and we had planned for Memorial Day and July 4th camping as well.

Then covid-19 happened and all ideas of going anywhere got jumbled as we hunkered down to try to stay safe at home in NY. After a couple of months of quarantine, we were excited to at least open up the Shadow and get it setup to use in the driveway. But as we put it in the summer spot, we realized there had been a small amount of water damage to the front corners of the trailer and that it needed some work to get repaired and back into camping shape. As we talked about it, we started realizing that we weren’t likely to feel safe camping with the Silver Shadow this year. Sure, camping can be great for social isolation. But we depend on bathhouses for toilets and showers and they are notoriously crowded and never as clean as you’d like. With my high risk for a bad outcome with covid, we felt like we wouldn’t want to go somewhere we might risk too much exposure.

We started researching small campers with bathrooms. And an indoor kitchen–if we were going to make this change, we needed a way to cook inside when it rains for days on end. We got obsessed with small fiberglass campers thinking they were more impervious to water damage. But there weren’t any we really loved. We thought about the Mini Max that we’d been interested in a few years ago, but they’ve had notorious issues with quality. We went through every kind of small trailer we could find and none seemed right. Until we started thinking about T@Bs again and wondered why we had stopped thinking that might be the answer.

It turned out the T@B 320 S had everything we wanted. It was that familiar teardrop shape, just a little taller and a little longer than our Silver Shadow. And that extra bit of length allowed a tiny kitchenette to be moved inside along with a little wetbath, which solved the problems we foresaw with being able to safely camp AND safely isolate. It could be pulled behind our Subaru Outback. It was made in the same facility as our Silver Shadow and just looks like it’s bigger brother. It seemed too obvious that this might be the answer.

We’ve never thought we needed all the modcons, but this little trailer is packed with great design and lots of convenience. It has not just the fan that pulls air through the screens and out, but also heat and air conditioning, which might let us camp later in the season. It has 19 gallons of freshwater with a pump and hot water heater so that we could shower and wash dishes without having to use the campground services. The kitchen has a sink, stove and fridge so that everything you need to get coffee going in the morning on a wet day could be done inside. The U-shaped dinette easily goes back and forth with being seating for eating or working and then converting to a bed.

Within a few days, we had sorted out that the folks we originally bought our Silver Shadow from had exactly one of exactly the T@B model we wanted on their lot. We sent them an email and watched EVERY video we could find about the T@B 320 S and the differences between the 2020 and the 2021 models. We called and talked to the dealer and quickly decided we should put a deposit on the trailer and go see it/get it before the week was out.

We debated whether it made sense to buy a trailer in the midst of the pandemic. But were worried about the idea that over the next couple of years, camping might become a bigger thing as more people started to think the way that we had already been thinking. We fully expected that all of our trips for 2020 would be cancelled and that we wouldn’t feel comfortable flying or staying in hotels or even taking long trips and using public facilities for awhile. We kept thinking that camping is a good way to stay far from folks, but also get out in nature. We just needed our own little bathroom. And considering that we were going to have to rethink all of our upcoming trips, we had the money we’d saved for those trips set aside.

The day before our appointment, we called the insurance company and got everything ready to transfer the insurance. Then we drove to Pennsylvania and met up with the fine folks from Miller Trailer Sales and did the walkthrough of our new camper. We had arranged that while we were there they would also install the trailer braking system on our car. So while they did that, we had plenty of time to learn about the systems and spend time in the camper imagining what our new camping experience might be like. Our shih tzu had been really upset when we got the Silver Shadow out this year and hadn’t immediately setup the bed. He didn’t understand what was going on until he saw the T@B. He pretty quickly decided that it is good. He loves looking out of the windows

Not unlike our first experience buying a camper almost exactly 10 years earlier, we were a bit shellshocked to realize how quickly we made this choice to change up our camping experiences. We are working on fixing up the Shadow so that it can be sold and make someone else happy campers for many more years.

We don’t know what will happen with our camping season this year. We’re pleased to have a good site in our driveway and a nice place to “get away” even if the house is close by. It makes the whole “stay-cation” thing easier. We’re spending our spare time figuring out what fits in the new camper and testing out the gear with our new camping style. We’re also really happy to know that we’re still teardrop travelers, we’re just T@B people now!