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Baby’s First Camp

Senior Management, The Cougar Bait, The Geek, and the Assistant to the Senior Manager

Mom and Dad do know how to throw a birthday party.  The little Assistant to the Senior Manager celebrated her 1 month old birthday on a camping trip in the jPod.  Since this family arrangement is new to us, Senior Management and I thought it would be wise to camp someplace near our home-base and someplace that had bathroom facilities.

We camped with the family and friends who have camped together every year for almost 40 years.  The group always changes in size, company, and story but it is always fun.  It also guaranteed plenty of baby sitters if we needed a nap or something.  Little baby did well.  She woke up once in the night and I, Dad, got to change a diaper in the jPod.  I am thankful for the Fan-Tastic roof vent that I installed when building the jPod.  It pulls enough air to make the windows whistle.  It also pulls enough air to flush the soiled diaper smell out of such a small space!  Without that fan, teardrop camping with a new baby would be too much of an adventure for us.

The first night we camped, the night’s sky was crystal clear and being away from the lights of the city, we could see stars that aren’t normally viewed by city people.  It was beautiful.  I shot a ton of long exposure pictures of the stars with varying success.  It was as if the entire milky way was rolled out before us like a giant cosmic sparkling blanket that turns in on itself.

We took advantage of the fire for our cooking by using our cast iron cookware & improvising recipes.  There is NOTHING like camp food cooked over a fire.  Food, Folks, Fire, and Fun with the little one on her 1 month birthday.

It was a great trip and reaffirmed many of the design choices we made with the jPod for our place in life right now.  Plus, there is little better in life than camping with your loved ones.  I also realized that there is little more fun to be had than camping with a cute daughter, taking her on walks, and looking at the stars together.

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” ~Clarence Budington Kelland

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 58 Heald Fact Sheet


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The 58 Heald is an aerodynamic, light, comfortable, vintage-looking camping option.  Its interior queen size mattress and hand-built cabinetry assure relaxation on any camping trip.  The versatile galley makes allowance for nearly any culinary delight.  The 58 Heald is a great way to get away for any camping experience.

Our trailers are cut out by precision computer controlled machinery.  This gives the Overland Trailer added strength and a cleaner look than a traditionally built teardrop.

Basic Trailer Fact Sheet

Entire Trailer


  • 2″x1″ C channel steel frame -primed & painted to your specifications-
  • Deck Size: 5’x8′
  • Tongue Length: 3′ 5″
  • Total Chassis Length: 11′ 5″
  • Total Chassis Width (including fenders): 9′ 6″
  • #8 Dexter Torflex Torsion Axle with Easy Greasing Hubs (pic)
  • Rounded Steel Fenders -primed & painted to match your specifications (pic)
  • 2 Adjustable Rear Stabilizer Jacks (pic)
  • A-frame trailer coupler (pic)
  • Safety Chains
  • 7-pin molded wiring harness with on-frame storage clip (pic)
  • LED Running lights -Amber & Red- (pic)
  • Mounted Swivel Jack with Caster Wheel (pic)
  • 175-80-13 Bias Ply Trailer Tire
  • 13″ Steel Wheels -primed & painted to your specifications- with chrome “baby moon” hubcaps  (pic)
  • Mounted Spare Tire -with Chrome “baby moon” hubcap- (pic)
  • Model-A styled Tail Lights (pic)


    • Exterior
      • Body Size: 5′ wide x 8′ long x 4′ tall
      • 3/4″ Birch Plywood Walls -2 coats of UV stable finish-
      • Amber Porch Lights (pic)
      • 20 gauge Stainless Steel Roof Skin
      • 24 gauge Stainless Steel Wall Skins (pic)
      • Large Smoked Glass Exterior doors with locking & dead bolted latches (pic 1) (pic 2)
      • Optima Marine Deep Cycle Gel Battery -blue-top- (pic)
      • Battery Maintainer (pic)
      • Weather-proof Exterior 110V access port (pic)
    • Cabin Interior
      • Baltic Birch interior Roof Skin
      • Insulated Ceiling
      • Mattress: Standard Queen 6″ thickness- (pic)
      • Custom hand-built solid wood cabinets (pic 1) (pic 2)
      •  12V & 110 V Accessory Outlets
      • Low voltage Fan-tastic Roof Vent (pic 1) (pic 2)
      • 2 LED Interior Reading Lamps (pic)
      • 1 Marine Grade Chrome Finish Dome Light (pic)
    • Galley Interior
      • 2 Marine Grade Chrome Finish Dome Lights (pic)
      • Custom Solid Wood Cabinetry (pic)
      • Stainless Steel Counter-top (pic)
      • Shelving with storage bins
      • Camp-Chef 2-Burner Stove-top (pic)
      • Slide out Cooler Access
      • 110V -GFCI- & 12V Accessory Outlet (pic)
      • Two Gas Struts to Help Open the Galley Hatch
      • Blue Sea Fuse Block (pic)

Thanks camping gods!

Pan-less Apple Pie

Pan-less Apple Pie

As snow falls outside my window and the temperature drops into the single digets, I realize that the camping season for the jPod has come to a close until spring.  It was a great season of camping.  The jPod put on over 4,000 miles & camped in over 12 states in the US.  Senior Management and I also got to camp with our new born baby in the jPod for the first time.

The camping gods have smiled upon us. I am also thankful for my readers of this little blog.  Many of you have supported this website with your comments, emails, and financially supported the Overland Film.  I am thankful for all of the great people I have met while putting this film together.  So many great minds have weighed in on the history of teardrop trailers.  I am VERY thankful that the film is in post-production now.  It is a lot of work but I know it will be useful in high school classrooms.  I also want to thank the social studies teachers, in advance, who will be testing this film and classroom material pack in their classrooms across the US this coming spring.  I am grateful, beyond words, for all of you.

To me, giving thanks must always involve desert.  This is probably because I am so thankful for desert and that sometimes the most meaningful times of life are spent eating with people.  This year for thanksgiving, I was inspired to make an apple pie.  I’ve never made an apple pie like this one.  It has a completely enclosed top.  It was ridiculously tall (5 inches or so) and was completely delicious.  I know it isn’t camping food or even made in cast iron.  It is just a pie that I thought was amazing.  Senior Managament and I have decided that the recipe will be come a family trade secret.  Too bad your computer isn’t scratch and sniff.

Once more, thank-you to everyone who reads my ramblings & has supported this camping adventure.  What is amazing to me is that the jPod has inspired similar builds around the world  this year (Chile, Michigan, Mississippi).  That is exciting and unexpected. Many thanks to all and here’s a slice of pie on me.

Filling the jPod Bunk Bed

The Assistant to the Senior Manager

The Assistant to the Senior Manager

I never thought I’d fall in love with a hairy toothless…woman but I have.  The jPod camping crew is embarking on its greatest adventure.  The Little Assistant to the Senior Management was born in good health and cuter than any baby I’ve ever seen (of course).  Once Mom (better known as Senior Management) and I have collected ourselves and adjusted to a family of three, we plan to go camping.  I’ve already made some plans to camp before the snow flies (which is soon).

Little baby is a great sleeper and is pretty mellow.  We’re quite spoiled.  I have already become accustomed to the smell of fresh poop in the morning.  It’s not like coffee -for sure- but it does bring a measure of joy.

At the beginning of the jPod build, there was some debate about how long to make it.  8′ or 10′ were the options as we tried to determine the best fit for us.  In the end, we chose the 10′ because Senior Management claimed that the extra real-estate could hold children.  Senior Management is Senior Management because she can see things that I cannot.  So, a 10″ trailer it is.  Bunk bed for children installed.  Freshly finished & now ready for its new charge.

Not much more to say except we’re happy and can’t wait to introduce her to the adventures of camping.

Adventure Film 03: Ocean Tears

This is part 3 of the Adventure Film reports.  If you haven’t read parts 1 or 2, you can read them here:

      Glamour Shot

      Day 3

      We awoke early on day 3 to pack up and go home.  Day 3 was Father’s Day and since we’re going to have our first little baby soon, Senior Management (and the little Assistant to the Senior Manager) gave me my first father’s day gift (read about it here).

      On our way out of Ocean Shores, we made a stop on the beach to film a few more segments to the film.  It was actually pretty nice out & I enjoyed the relaxed feel & smells of the beach.  I was a bit disappointed that the weather was not better all weekend.  We had brought some stunt kites and were looking forward to using them.  As is with such things, it rained the whole weekend except when we were leaving and had no time left to fly kites.  Oh well…

      Along our way through the Mt. Rainer National Forest, Landon (film student) and I shot some stock footage for the film and talked about the sound track.  On our way, we stopped at Miner’s burgers in Yakima, Washington.  Landon got a salad as big as his face (no exaggeration),  Senior Management got a sandwich, and I only ordered fries (wheat allergy and all). I find it ironic that Washington is called the Evergreen State.  It was obviously the voters on the west side of the Cascade Mountains who passed that one.  The vast bulk of Washington is a high desert plateau.  Yakima was hot & blessedly dry.  We managed to drive our way back home to Spokane from Ocean Shores in 10 hrs.  We all enjoyed the dryer environment and Senior Management and I looked forward to being at home for one night.

      Senior Management had to return to work the next day.  Landon and I were headed to Glacier National Park the next morning (assuming we could finish arranging the necessary permits to film there).  I have visited Glacier National park several times and every time I’ve been struck by the beauty of the park.  Of all the places that we planned to visit, on this quick trip through the US, Glacier National Park holds the most beauty.  It also held the most paperwork to shoot pictures of that beauty.  There was a lot to do.

      After drying everything out, charging batteries for cameras, making phone calls, doing laundry, and making food arrangements, we went to bed.  Day 4 would be another busy day of travel and we wanted to be ready.

      We unpacked & packed everything again, while trying to slim down on the items we were taking.  Some of the camera gear is quite heavy 80 lbs + per box so we needed to be as light as we could on everything else.

      When packed, we slept and prepared for the next day’s journey.  It is a beautiful 5 hour drive through north Idaho and into Montana.  Quite a nice change from the previous day’s journey.

      Read Part 4

      Adventure Film 02: Ocean Tears

      This is part 2 of the adventure film adventures at Ocean Shores, WA.  If you haven’t read part 1 yet, you can read it here.

      Day 2

      We awoke at about 9 am but didn’t want to get out of bed.  The rain landed on the roof of the trailer and the Assistant to the Senior Manager was very active & kicking in her mommy’s tummy.  I was happy to stay in bed, feel the baby’s little foot against my hand, and just enjoy the morning.  At some point in every camping adventure, Mother Nature make’s her call and eventually, all campers must answer. It was under these circumstances that I was finally inspired to get up and start setting up camp.

      Senior Management and I made the very wise purchase of a Coleman Screen tent 2 days earlier. After getting up, we proceeded to set it up in a downpour.  After an amazing breakfast of potatoes, eggs, and fruit made by Senior Management, we started to explore & meet the other tear droppers. One or two campers had already left because of the heavy rain.  Slowly, we met & greeted each of the parties & shared stories.  Kevin, the gathering organizer, made t-shirts for the weekend and we each donned them with pride.

      I have often said that I have an obsession with teardrop trailers (Senior Management heartily agrees).  Attending a gathering only pours gasoline on this flame.  It was great fun.

      In the afternoon, arrangements were made for a potluck at 6 pm.  The campers were willing to show us their trailers & do interviews for the film.  Landon slipped into pro-camera-man mode & we heard the stories of building and adventures.  The experiences, world views, and philosophies of camping in this little group are a great example of the depth of the subculture of tear-droppers.

      In the afternoon, we all went to the beach for a group photo and to hang out.  The weather had cleared out some by that point & it was a good time to visit the beach, see the kites, and explore a little.

      The beach trip was cut a little short because we had to get some food ready for the evening’s potluck.  That evening, we ate more food than I thought was possible to eat. Each group made more than enough food.  Much of it was made in cast iron camp cookware.  We stuffed ourselves & hung out for some time.

      I made camp spaghetti in the 10” Dutch Oven.  It was the first time I’d made it the way I had and it was really good.  I modified my recipe (see regular recipe here) to fit the ingredients which we had on hand.

      The potluck was kind of broken up by some bad weather & so we retreated to our camp to clean up after the meal.  Landon and I did two more interviews with teardrop families & called it a night.

      As the sun set, many in our group came to tour the jPod and to hang out.  It was a great end to a great day.

      Read Part 3

      Craftsman but not Techmen

      This past week I have been doing a lot of sanding on the jPod in preparation for painting it.  In the middle of my mind numbing “sand-fest”, my random orbital sander suddenly developed a problem.  I would turn it on and it spun & looked great.  However, the moment I applied the sander to the surface to be sanded, it would quit spinning.  Needless to say I was frustrated.  Since it is a Craftsman sander, I called Sears to see how I could get it repaired.  Here is a brief outline of all I went through with this small problem (the whole process took about 4 hours on the phone).

      1. I called my local Sears who verified my account and then referred me to their local parts & repairs department
      2. I called the local Sears parts & repairs department.  They verified my account and then said they didn’t have a technician who could help and referred me to
      3. I visited & couldn’t find my problem in their databases so I called them too.  They verified my Sears account got me connected with a technician who gave me another number to call for assistance.
      4. I called the new number and found that it was the direct line to my local Sears parts & repairs department (who I spoke with in step 2). They verified my account and referred me to another number for help.
      5. I called the new number and spoke with a customer service representative at who was as slow as molasses in January when it came to verifying my account information.  After verifying my account information (8 min) he gave me the SAME number I received in step 3 for my local Sears parts & repairs facility.
      6. I hung up.  Grabbed the sander and went into Sears determined to stay there until someone could figure out what to do with my small problem.

      So I walked into Sears and asked the first baby-faced teen employee if he could help me.  Of course he couldn’t but he conveyed my concern to the Manager.  I never met the manager but waited in the isles of sears with my problematic sander in hand.

      In the end, Baby-face found me staring blankly at a display of fake tools for children.  He took my sander from me, marched down the sander isle, matched my sander with one on the shelf.  Then he thrust the new sander into my hands and said “have a nice day.  Do you mind if I keep your old sander?”  I was stunned but did not object.

      When I asked why I was receiving a new sander instead of some tech help, he told me that the manager of my local Sears had just made the same convoluted sequence of phone calls.  Sears seems to have an internal problem.  Eventually she shouted out a colorful metaphor into the phone at the last person she was talking with and then told Baby-face to just give me a new sander and tell me to go home.  So…I went home and sanded into the night.

      I can’t complement Sears’ technical service but I am not complaining about my new sander.  My new sander may look the same as my old one but it isn’t.  The new one is better because it works and it came with a really great story.

      The New Sander

      The New Sander


      After the initial publish of this blog post, Consumerist & Gizmart picked up the story and published it.  This is a fun event for the jPodbuild.  I have offered more information about this story & my reaction to it being picked up by the bigger news people in another post “My Blog Makes It Big