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Camping with the Chandlers

Robert and Andrea Chandler hit the road in their new TAB 400

Like so many other people, travel plans for Robert and Andrea Chandler were on hiatus during 2020. Aside from a bit of tent camping in the summer of 2020, the Salem, Oregon couple stayed at home, even though Andrea was—and still is—one of the many victims of COVID-caused unemployment.

“I am a cellist with Pacific NW Ballet Orchestra in Seattle, so I normally spend about 12 days a month up there performing,” said Andrea. But when the pandemic hit, all that stopped. “So many musicians, theater people, and everyone whose jobs support live music, theater etc., were absolutely devastated by the 15 months (so far) of unemployment.”

Fortunately for Andrea, her husband has a good job, and she was able to continue with her private cello teaching. And while she admits to feeling guilty that “the necessary shuttering of our entire industry means we could travel more,” the two decided that, once they were vaccinated, this would be a good time to exchange their tent trailer in favor of something more weatherproof (meaning, hard-sided) and with a small bathroom.

Their choice? The TAB 400. “We had been researching travel trailers for several years, going to many RV shows and dealers and investigating many types of trailers,” said Andrea. “We wanted to keep it small, so as not to need a big truck to pull it. We gradually eliminated the other contenders until COVID inspired us to order our favorite—the TAB—which we had been considering for at least three years.”

Unfortunately, acquiring the TAB wasn’t as easy as stopping by the dealer, completing the purchase and taking it home. They placed the order in October, but due to demand and supply issues, it wasn’t delivered to the dealer until the end of January, which meant the couple didn’t take possession until February 1, 2021.

While they waited, they sought advice from various Facebook groups regarding what vehicle they would need to tow the TAB, settling on a used VW Tuareg TDI (Diesel) that tows 7,700 pounds. “We wanted a ‘car,’ not a truck, so this is perfect at nearly double capacity to weight of trailer,” said Andrea.

They also educated themselves about the ins and outs of towing something that was considerably heavier than their tent trailer. “We were not completely new to towing, although we were new to towing something weighing about 3,000 pounds,” admitted Andrea. “We watched a lot of videos and read numerous posts in special TAB Facebook groups.”

Now that they are fully vaccinated, they have been putting the TAB through its paces, taking long weekend trips and the occasional longer journeys when Robert has vacation time.

“Since getting the trailer, we have been on three long weekend trips in Oregon and took a two-week trip to southern California to visit Robert’s elderly father. It was wonderful to be out again in March and to see family after a whole year,” said Andrea. “It made such a difference to be able to travel without flying and have our own place to sleep, eat, our own bathroom, etc.! Although,” she noted, “we were very careful with contact in campgrounds and stores as cases were still very high.”

The couple also traveled to The Columbia Gorge, the Bend area, and the Oregon Coast, as well as spending three days camping and hiking at Joshua Tree with friends from Seattle, who had also been vaccinated and were traveling in their camper-van. “It was our first post-vax meet up, and we had such a great time!” The Chandlers have more destinations in mind for 2021 to make up for lost time. “We are hoping to keep camping every few weeks throughout the summer and fall even though other types of travel is possible,” said Andrea. “There are so many beautiful places to see in Oregon and nearby states that we have yet to explore.”

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