Adding the basics of cooking

In order to keep the camper smelling as new as possible, we are not going to to any significant cooking inside. That being said we needed a setup that would allow generous meal prep outdoors. We looked at a few options and settled on a Blackstone Tailgater as our main cooking implement.

The unit has a conventional bbq grill on the left and a steel griddle on the right. The large burner under the grill is circular while the burner for the griddle is an H pattern. The setup comes with a hose to connect to a 20lb propane cylinder, we added an 18 foot hose to the unit so that it could plug into the camper propane feed, located under the outdoor kitchen.
Speaking of outdoor kitchens, yes ours was ordered with this option that includes a roll out sink, refrigerator and a small griddle. This setup is really handy for reducing traffic in the camper. Having drinks in the outdoor fridge, keeps folks from having to go inside for a beverage. In addition – having a spot to wash up and cook makes larger meal prep really easy.

The camper has one propane fitting under the outdoor kitchen. I sourced an adapter that splits it into two, this allows both cooking appliances to run at the same time.

Keeping bugs out of the heater

For those that don’t know – this is the vent for the propane furnace. This is an item on the camper the wasps would love to build nests in. Living in Tenneesee we see wasps building nests everywhere.
We used the heater a few times toward the end of the season last year – but it will not get anymore use until the fall. Its a perfect opportunity for those bugs to build a home and mess up the internal works of the furnace.
We added a mesh grill cover to keep the bugs out.

The cover comes with these little spring retainers that are a huge pain to try and install. There is also no gurantee that those fasteneres will keep the grill in place. I went a different route and used some aluminum wire to fasten the grill to the furnace outlet. Being aluminum the wires will not rust will not hold heat after the furnace has been run.
So far so good, the cover has not moved or loosened up and the furnace works like a charm.

Outfitting our tow vehicle to pull the camper

Our current SUV is a 2019 Infiniti QX-80, its rated to tow 8500 lbs. The trailer weighs in empty about 4700lbs so we are well within capacity of the vehicle to pull the trailer. The QX was not outfitted from the factory with a brake controller – so I went about the task of acquiring and installing one.

Doing lots of research online about brake controllers I settled on the Tekonsha line of products. Their controllers employed technology that basically makes a smart brake controller. For those that are not familiar with how they work -the controller feeds electricity to the brakes mounted on the trailer, its the intensity of this electricity that determines how much force will be applied by the trailer brakes. Have a more feature oriented controller gives you a better driving experience & smoother braking.
I went with a Tekonsha P2 controller and mounted it with two screws in existing holes in the vehicles trim panel. The QX-80 is a lease vehicle and I did not want to put any permanent holes in the cars interior. Most Nissan/Infiniti trucks and SUVs have built in wiring for the trailer brakes. Without this you would have to run a line all the way from the controller back to the trailer itself. I ended up buying Tekonsha’s adapter cable to plug the controller right into the car. Otherwise I would have had to take the Nissan/Infiniti pigtail and marry it to the included wiring for the controller. The adapter cable was inexpensive and made the install a plug and play operation – total time was under one hour.

For the trailer hitch itself, we went with a weight distributing hitch and a sway control bar. We went with a Blue Ox BXW1200 round bar weight distributing hitch and their dual pad BX-4024 sway control kit. The dealer mounted the parts to the nose of the trailer and set things up the day we picked the trailer up. So far the hitch has performed great and with a 12,000 pound capacity it will work should we choose to upgrade the trailer later on.

Why we chose a Retro trailer.

In June 2020 we took deliver of a brand new Retro 265RB travel trailer. My wife had been looking at retro style trailers for a while. Her original idea was to pick up and old Scotty or Shasta and restore it. With the onset of Covid and looking for new vacation ideas – we went to a local dealer to look at these campers.
Initially she wanted to get a 193 but I didn’t feel there was enough room for two adults and two kids, and especially with we had guests. There was a customers 265RB on the lot and we took a look at it and liked it. The dealer had two on order and two weeks later we came back, looked it over and started the purchase process.
Why did we choose Retro? Here are a few points:
– We like the styling of the Retro trailers. They would realistically never go out of style as they are based on the trailers of the 50’s and 60’s. The simple birch interiors would wear well and never really need updating. Given the relatively neutral decor it would be pretty easy to theme up the trailer the way we choose.
– They are built on an aluminum frame which makes them lighter than similar sized trailers and prevents and potential wood rot from occurring in the critical frame areas.
– Among the reviews online this brand of trailer seemed to have less issues than most, and better build quality.
– We had a dealer that was close by and was selling these without much inflation beyond MSRP.