We Bought a Tent Trailer, and It’s Already Making Me Nuts

– Posted in: Cleaning, First World Problems, Personal Insanity, Tammy Thinks, Vacation, Worst Mom Randomness
boy washes tent trailer with hose

Newt and the hose. A dangerous combination.

So yesterday, we bought a tent trailer. This came after weeks of being Craig’s List newbies and doing a piss-poor job of getting in touch with people, going out to see trailers that sucked, and not being able to get enough money on a Sunday to actually buy something. Honestly, I think one of the reasons we finally pulled the trigger was because we just couldn’t take it anymore.

I’ve had mixed feelings about the trailer. Part of me would rather just spend the summer on a beach somewhere (but then, what sane person wouldn’t). Unfortunately, that’s not possible, so getting the trailer seemed like a reasonable choice. We want to do more camping, and neither my husband, Tenzin, nor I seem to be able to tolerate sleeping on the ground.

Anyway, we bought it yesterday, right before Tenzin had to work, and so the kids, Jasper (the dog), and I ended up having to hook it up and pull it home. This was problematic for two reasons: 1) I’ve never pulled anything in my entire life, and 2) the plug to hook up the lights on the trailer was incompatible, which meant no brake lights or blinkers.

So we white-knuckled it down to U-Haul to get a new connector cable, only to discover that the Honda people hadn’t hooked up our hitch correctly, so there was no juice flowing from the connection in the first place. And because it was Sunday, of course the Honda people weren’t around…

So we white-knuckled it home, opting to take surface streets instead of the freeway. We figured even though there were a ton more stops, at least the other cars wouldn’t be going 70 when they ran into us.

Incidentally, every once in a while, I get a glimpse into how much the kids “handle” me. Apparently Jasper jumped out of the car (because I left the door open) at U-Haul, and Elfie had to chase him all over the parking lot. But what I didn’t find out until Tenzin got home was that Newt opted to stay with the car because “I knew that if Mom came back to the car and found all of us gone, she would’ve been all, ‘Oh my god! Where is everybody!’ (puts up hands in mock hysteria). So I figured one of us should stay where she could find us.”

They also made jokes the entire way home about how “nothing could possibly go wrong now…” (the characters say this all the time in the Captain Underpants books). And then they broke into “Could be worse. Could be raining,” from Young Frankenstein. I’ve taught them well.

Anyway, we made it home alive. And then the stupid part of my brain kicked in. We decided to open the thing up so we could clean it. This would’ve been fine if:

  1. I knew how to unhook a trailer and didn’t end up lifting the back end of the car up because I thought the little ball had been released and was just being difficult.
  2. Tent trailers were indeed “easy” to set up the way everyone says. Yeah. Tell that to the weak-ass lady and two kids while she’s trying to yank the beds out.
  3. Tent trailers were indeed “simple.” And didn’t have a bunch of funky little parts that have to be in just the right place and make you feel like you’re doing a roadblock on the Amazing Race.
  4. I knew anything about stabilizers. At least now we all know how Lucille Ball felt in The Long, Long Trailer.


Once we’d figured out how to keep it from rolling down the street and killing us, we cleaned that thing from top to bottom. I’m not gonna lie. I wanted to hire someone to do it. But this kind of goes with the whole philosophy of buying an old (1998) trailer that’s not perfect. Every once in a while, we attempt to do things that will hopefully keep the kids from turning into complete ass hats. And cleaning the trailer ourselves seemed like that should be one of them. So…

little girl cleaning tent trailer

We went through three bottles of spray cleaner and a mountain of rags.

kids wrestling with dog in tent trailer

After a while, the cleaning turned into more of a wrestling/water fight.

kids and dog wrestle in tent trailer

…And eventually, Jasper fell through the side of the tent and busted one of the ties. The people who sold it to us owned it for 15 years and didn’t break anything. It took us 3 hours.

Anyway, talk to me tomorrow and ask me if it would’ve been worth the 200 bucks and the possibly spoiled brat children. I’m too tired and sore to even discuss it today.


12 Comments… add one

Michelle J May 27, 2013, 8:24 pm

I’m so happy you bought this, because I have a feeling it’s going to be the source of many more great blog posts! 🙂

Tammy May 27, 2013, 11:26 pm

It’s good to know that I make your life more amusing with my pain…;)

Lindy May 27, 2013, 10:02 pm

Awesome! I predict you’re gonna love that thing. And if you don’t, will you sell it to me? I’ve been looking off and on for a tent trailer for a couple of years (the search is off right now because I have approximately $8 in my bank account). Anyway, I have such great memories of my camping adventures as a kid in the tent trailer. One problem I have now is that since we do wind sports, we’re often camping in the wind, so I’ve been told I’d need to rig up some eye bolts and tie-downs (in addition to the stabilizers) and probably buy earplugs in bulk at costco or something because of flapping canvas. Sure, I’d love to buy a 4WD Sportsmobile, but that would require several more 000’s in the bank account…
Also, I absolutely love the Lucile Ball clip. Another fond childhood memory- I remember thinking she was so funny I wanted to BE her when I grew up.

Tammy May 27, 2013, 11:25 pm

One great thing about the tent trailer — relatively cheap. I don’t know if I could lay down the cash for a big ole camper. And Lucile Ball? Genius.

Verity May 27, 2013, 11:44 pm

Oh my god, thank you for that clip. Man I needed a laugh!
Can’t wait to see the clean trailer – Jasper really went through the side??? Shall I bring over Lucky for a play date and see what the two of them can break?
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Tammy May 29, 2013, 1:44 pm

Oh my god. The two of them in the trailer would be disastrous.

Clearly Kristal May 28, 2013, 10:05 am

Wow! Thanks for all the tips on the tent trailer! It looked like a real pain in the ass, which is probably why we’ll never buy one. 🙂 But the kids look like they are (will) really having fun! I would have crashed it, and then my kids would have busted the whole thing in no time. I bet you’ll enjoy it, though, eventually. Looking forward to your first family trip in it…and a follow-up post. We are renting an RV in a couple weeks – so I’l probably have lots of “fun” stories to tell with that 5-day trip!

Tammy May 29, 2013, 1:41 pm

Okay, I can’t wait for THAT post on the RV trip. The problem with all of these things is that there’s a learning curve. It would be great if you could just jump in and do it. But we generally just look like a bunch of idiots trying to get this thing up and running. You should’ve seen my husband and me the other day, trying to get it hitched up again. We finally had to get our neighbor. Too bad we can’t take him with us!

Andrea June 3, 2013, 11:13 am

My husband rented a trailer just like yours for a guys’ weekend once, and that experience was one that he vowed never to repeat again.

I am thankful for this, as I have no interest in the outdoors. I think I’ll just teach my children to clean by making them scrub toilets inside the house.
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Tammy June 3, 2013, 11:44 am

OMG Andrea. You kill me.

I think I’m instituting the toilet scrubbing thing this summer. Kids don’t know it yet.

Momoffive August 28, 2013, 12:35 pm

Hi Tammy, just wanted to let you know we use to enjoy our tent trailer. This is why we kept it still after the roof needed repair. Just when you think things are getting better they don’t. Roof was repaired and new tent that had been sitting in box for 10+ years was installed, tent trailer up waiting to have a chance to finish cleaning it after the mice had did their thing in it after being in the garage for 7 years. Then on Sunday a big storm blew out of now where black clouds and all, we thought we were just going to get a little rain so we just zipped up the windows and thought it would be fine, wrong the wind blew it over and bent one the pole that raises the tent now they are telling us we need to get a new pole because it can’t be put back into place, and I can not see why does not look that bad. Well the adventure continues we are wondering do we put the 500.00 out to fix it or do we write it as a loss. Would like to fix it our self but do not know how hard it would be to undo the cables. Other then the problems was looking forward to camping again since we are retired, and do not have the money for motels. Thank you for your post. PS we have had our tent trailer since 1980

Tammy August 28, 2013, 1:26 pm

Ack! See, we should just sell the damn thing now so we DO have some money for hotel rooms.;)

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