Not quite an Airstream (but not a white box nor hillbilly tent trailer either), the new T@Bs look to me like a next-best alternative for those, like Patty, with a Subaru Outback—meaning a lightweight towing limit—and a spouse on a budget who’s suspicious of used Type B motorhome engines. (If pressed, Patty will tell you that if she won the lottery, her preference would be to forego towing forever and purchase the Interstate.)
In the meantime, the T@B is an enormous step up from sleeping in a tent. It’s cozy, cute as a bee’s wee, and packed with clever tricks and devices built in to save space and maximize ease of use. More than once I said—out loud—“I wish our DWR had/did this.” (Blasphemy!)
But I don’t have to live in it. Here’s the new owner’s review on record, the morning after her very first night:
The bed? Not long enough for her 6’2” husband, but fine for 5’6” Patty and her two cocker spaniels. “It’s comfortable like my own bed, believe it or not,” she said, and converts fairly quickly. One simply lowers the table, inserts two little side panels (not sure where these are stored when not in use), and arranges the banquette cushions as a mattress. Fancy bedding optional.
The galley seems great for food prep (I enviously eyed the yards of countertop space), with a midget fridge, two-burner stove, cute round sink (cute is the operative word when describing a T@B), and ample oak cabinetry. The tiny tank is the drawback. “I brought extra water, so I didn’t worry about it,” said Patty. “And we could hook up to city water. If we had hookups.”
Ah, that. Paulina Lake Campground is indeed dry, without hookups, and was therefore the perfect test site for the T@B’s boondocking capability. As predicted, after washing dishes, burning the lights and cranking showtunes on the CD player, the T@B lost power and ran out of water in about 24 hours. Patty’s husband, a fix-it kind of guy, will most certainly rig up a variety of homebaked geekery to solve these and any other problems they encounter. (I’m encouraging him to join the T@B society and start his own blog to share his inevitable inventions with other users.)
Finally, what’s the deal with that at-symbol? A pretentious nod to the social media crowd? Someone’s name, “T at B”? Should the brand be pronounced “tatabuh”? Without any connectivity in the area the mystery went ungoogled. (Seriously, prepare to enjoy a cyber vacation while visiting this part of the Deschutes National Forest, though you can find a signal strong enough to check your email at the scenic overlook on Highway 21.)
That inconvenience notwithstanding, don’t miss the attractions within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument when you visit Central Oregon. So laid back, so much to do and see. While there we tackled the 7.5 mile Lakeshore Loop Trail (if we can do it, you can do it). The roundtrip hike rings the lake and offers everything: vistas, forests, beaches, meadows. Sun, shade, elevation. Picnic tables in the pines where you need them, about halfway around. Flora and fauna: ducklings, mosquitos, songbirds, the occasional Australian. And it serves as an comprehensive walking tour of the nostalgic Lodge and lakefront campgrounds.