Tag Archives: camping

A Look at Pino Caravan

There are countless small travel trailers in the United States that draw attention due to their unique styling or classic looks. But if you really want to see something that’s different, you need to go to Istanbul, Turkey where you can find Pino Caravan.

Founded in 2009, Pino Caravan is one of just a handful of manufacturers in Turkey. But their offerings are small and utilize some floor plans not typically seen here in the U.S.

Pino trailers come in five floor plans: pi210, 280 Cachalote, 410 Jazz, 410 Blues, and the 340.

The pi210 has a cabin length of just under 7′ and 900 lbs. It can sleep 2 and the dinette can hold 4.

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The 280 Cachalote is a rear entry unit with a cabin just under 10′ long, weighing in around 1500 lbs. It’s got a living area for 5 and sleeping area for 3 plus having a bunk over the dinette. They’ve also made room in the rear for a shower.

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The 410 Jazz and 410 Blues are basically the same floor plans with a few variations in interior décor. The cabin is 13′ and weighs just under 2,000 lbs. It can sleep up to 4 and the dinette will hold 4, and also comes with a shower.

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The last floor plan, the 340, has a cabin length of about 11′ and weight at 1700 lbs. It sleeps up to 3, which is also the capacity of the dinette. Also includes a sink and shower. 3401 3402 3403

The 340 bares a strong resemblance to the Chinese built iCamp, which found its way to a few dealer lots in the U.S. for about a minute back in 2008. iCampElite-FR-775487

The Pino Caravans are built with a lot of components that are household names in the RV industry. They’re built on AL-KO frames, which were the frame of choice for the first generation T@Bs that were built by Dutchmen. Other familiar names you’ll find in a Pino are Dometic, Thetford, and Thule.

In an e-mail with Pino’s Tulu Karatan, she told me “Europeans are very enthusiastic about Pi2010, which offers more than a teardrop model. In Pi2010 one can stand almost totally, 4 people can dine, 2 people can sleep. All included for a perfect weekend escape!”

Now the part you’re wanting to know: How much are they and how can I get one? One and two, I don’t know. I barely found a price on the smallest model, the pi210 and after converting it from pounds, I estimate it costs around $12,000 USD. However, there are no dealers in the U.S. Only in Turkey and a few European nations carry Pino Caravans. All I can say is that if you really have to have one, contact Pino through there website at http://pinokaravan.com and they should be able to help you.

I posted this knowing that there’s a good chance not a one of you (me included) will ever see a Pino, but I like to show some of the unique offerings out there, regardless of where they may be built. However, our reach here at The Small Trailer Enthusiast is international, so this post may reach someone in Europe or Turkey who may very well be able to check one out for themselves. If that’s you, good luck and let us know what you think.

 

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And Now a Word from Our Sponsor

A few months ago, I opened up some space on The Small Trailer Enthusiast for any RV manufacturer or dealer to advertise on the site. With the addition of my first paid advertiser, I thought I’d take the opportunity to give them, and future advertisers, a little bit more publicity than the ad for them that appears to the right of this post.

With that in mind, I want to welcome Pierce RV as a partner to The Small Trailer Enthusiast. Pierce RV has three Montana locations in Great Falls, Billings, and Kalispell. They carry a huge inventory of class A, B, and C motor homes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, cargo trailers, and toy haulers.

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Of the travel trailers they carry, manufacturers include Heartland, Winnebago, Cruiser, Keystone, KZ, Prime Time, and Cricket. The history of Pierce RV dates back to 1924 when George R. Pierce started selling, as he called them, “Experienced Automobiles”. In those 90 years, Pierce Companies include an RV division, leasing division, a modular homes division, and a flooring division, employing some 170 employees among all divisions.

So if you’re in Montana or one of its nearby states, do consider our new friends at Pierce RV for your next purchase, and tell them The Small Trailer Enthusiast sent ya!

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More on the White Water Retro Special Edition

Last month I gave you a brief post on the introduction of the White Water Retro 177 Special Edition by Riverside RV. It appeared the 177SE had the same floorplan and specs as the White Water Retro 177, and that is indeed the case.

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The 177SE comes with a few extras that give it an eye-catching look that will surely draw the attention of everyone. I spoke with Riverside RV general manager Mervin Lehman recently to get the scoop on the 177SE. Mervin tells me, “This has been in the works for about 2 months and we used the 177 as it is our most popular model. The first run of these will go into production the week of May 18 so they should be arriving on or about June 1.”

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The 177SE will come as a package with no options. But the upgrades from a typical 177 include birch interior, painted rims w/ whitewall tires, radiant insulation, LED lighting, Fantastic Fan w/rain sensor, 6 cubic foot refrigerator, and a deluxe memory foam mattress.

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“There are no options with this unit as we are doing this as a special package so that every unit is built exactly the same except for color. This allows production to produce these very efficiently,  hence the special price.” And that special price is a reasonably priced MSRP of $18,600.

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Although the 177SE is an in “as is” package, customers will have a choice in exterior colors: white/aqua, white/red, or pewter/red.

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I was curious about the announcement of the Retro 177SE on the heels of the successful venture by Shasta RV coming out with the reissue of the 1961 Airflyte. When I asked Mervin if this was their response to Shasta, he told me, “The Shasta reissue had very little to do with this unit. This a very different floor plan than the Shasta unit and has been holding its own in that market.”

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Currently there is no set number of 177SE units that will be produced. “The number of units isn’t limited but we are limiting the time frame. The exact date hasn’t been set in stone but we are talking about a July 31 cut off date for orders.” And as far as orders are concerned, Mervin tells me the entire first run has already been sold.

And dealers seem to be excited. I spoke with Austin Braun of Braun’s Fun Time Campers in Indianapolis, a White Water Retro dealer. “We ordered one of these on Saturday as soon as we heard about it! I think it’s exactly what we’re looking for.”

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The specs for the 177SE should be on par with a standard 177 model: 18’6″ length, dry weight of 2530 lbs, 20 gallon fresh water tank, 32 gallon gray water tank, and 10 gallon black water tank with an aluminum framed construction.
Currently the Riverside RVs website does not include the 177SE, but my suggestion would be to keep tabs on rvtrader.com sometime in early June to find out which dealers have the 177SE in stock.

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A Look at the Shasta Oasis 18FQ

The resurgence of Shasta in the RV industry over the past few years has been welcomed with open arms by consumers with a desire for a quality trailer, but one with value in mind. Since current Shasta RV president Mark Lucas took over the reigns of the Forest River subsidiary in 2012, their line of travel trailers and fifth wheels have been streamlined and well defined.

However, aiding in that resurgence of the Shasta brand was 2014’s reissue of the 1961 Shasta Airflyte, in both a 16′ and 19′ model. Once the news of 1,941 of the Airflytes were being reissued, with a little modern technology tweaks, it created a buzz in the RV industry the likes of which haven’t been seen in decades. As a byproduct of the Airflyte reissue, the iconic Shasta name has been put back in the forefront of the minds of RV consumers who recall the days when they might’ve gone camping with their grandparents in an original 1960’s or 1970’s Shasta. And although they may not have purchased a 2015 reissue Airflyte, it opened some eyes to the main lines of Shasta trailers currently produced in their Middlebury, Indiana factory.

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Currently Shasta produces two fifth wheels: The Revere and the Phoenix, and three travel trailer lines: The Revere, Flyte, and Oasis. Today I want to focus on one that falls in the range of our theme here at The Small Trailer Enthusiast that is right at 20′ long: The Shasta Oasis 18FQ.

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I first brought this unit to your attention back in December 2014 at the RVIA trade show in Louisville, Kentucky where the 18FQ was first introduced. It’s taken some time, but the 18FQ (and its brother the 18BH bunkhouse) are finally hitting dealer lots here in April. However, we’re still awaiting Shasta to update their website with specs and floorplans for each.

Some of you loyal readers of this site will know that I recently purchased an Oasis, although a much longer floorplan, due to a growing grandchild base. So I’ve been able to have a little more of an in depth take on the Oasis than I might other brands I discuss here. The 25BH Oasis that I have is my third trailer, after owning a 2010 T@B and a 2010 Serro Scotty HiLander.  The materials and appliances Shasta uses aren’t cut rate, as it has a 6 cubic foot Dometic refrigerator, a 3-burner Atwood stove and oven, and a High Pointe microwave, which are all brands you’ll find in higher priced RVs. Shasta prides itself with the Oasis being the RV industry’s “leading value in the RV industry“.

From a construction standpoint, the Oasis utilizes a 5/8″ tongue & groove plywood floor that’s covered with a Congoleum covering that has a 3 year warranty against cold cracking. The frame is a solid steel I-beam that’s solid as a rock. Prior to purchasing an Oasis, I did some homework and asked questions. I spoke with Rusty Eckstein, vice president of  the Shasta dealer in Central Indiana at Mount Comfort RV, and he told me about the Oasis, “We have done well with the Oasis trailers.  They have been out about 3 or 4 years now.  Shasta has made improvements on them as far as looks and quality each year.  They had been trying to get us to carry the line and last year, we finally decided that they had them dialed in.  So, we picked them up.  My dad and I spend A LOT of time shopping for RV’s.  It is a large part of what we do.  The Oasis is one that we bought!”  That was pretty much all I needed to hear. I had looked at some other brands that I had knowledge of, but the floorplans didn’t quite offer what the 25BH did, so ultimately we were comfortable with what we saw and we put our order in on one. So far so good!

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This brings back to the 18FQ. I’ve been able to put bits & pieces of specs together on the Oasis 18FQ. First, it’s a single axle with a dry weight in the 3200 lbs range and is right at 20′ in length. So as trailers go, it’s relatively light weight for that size. It has pass through storage in the front, and inside has the signature Oasis 60″ X 74″ queen walk around bed in the front. Although the video I’ve attached below states it’s a 6 cubic foot refrigerator, that is not the case on this model. It’s more in the ballpark of a 3-4 cubic foot. As you can see from the photos, it’s got ample counter space, a nice sized dinette, plenty of cabinet space, and a nice sized full bathroom in the rear with a 36″ bathtub, medicine cabinet, foot flush toilet, and additional cabinets for storage.

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I was really impressed with the layout of this 18FQ when I first saw it back in December. This is an excellent fit for a couple with a smaller budget, as it gives plenty of room without stepping on each others’ toes. However, for those of you with kids and a smaller budget, Shasta does also offer the Oasis 18BH, which provides two single rear bunks. However, it does not offer the walk around island queen bed, but yields plenty of kitchen counter space.

 

While prices of the Oasis 18FQ and 18BH vary when you check on rvtrader.com, you likely shouldn’t expect to pay higher than  the low teens for a new model. And as 2015 rolls on, more and more units will be hitting dealer lots, so the need to order one may not be necessary. But if you do order one, options are minimal for you to choose from, as the Oasis line is a value driven model that cuts back on goodies so you can keep your cost low.

Below are a couple of videos. The first is of a Shasta Oasis 25RS model, but I’m including that because Mount Comfort RV shows some really good footage throughout the walk through from the Shasta factory in Middlebury to give you a brief glimpse of a few Shastas during the production process. The second video was just published a day ago by Atlantic Marine & RV in Fort Pierce, Florida of a 2016 Oasis 18FQ.

UPDATE: I’ve added a video of my Oasis here. Again, this is the larger 25BH, but it gives you a little more visual of an Oasis from yours truly:

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New Canadian Teardrop Manufacturer Emerges

Often times I’ll search the internet to add manufacturers that build travel trailers, pop-ups, teardrops, and fiberglass trailers to our Manufacturers page. And sometimes, those manufacturers come to me. I’ll go ahead and add them with little fanfare, but when Craig Elliott of Sun-Fun Campers contacted me this week, I felt compelled to put them on the “big stage” with a post.

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Sun-Fun Campers is a new…as of 2015 new…teardrop trailer manufacturer in Warman, Saskatchewan. Canada. Craig told me in an e-mail, “It appears that we are the only manufacturer of teardrop trailers in western Canada and we are hoping to grow the trend of teardrop trailers in Canada, as there are very few ever spotted here.”

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Sun-Fun is so new that they don’t even have a website up…yet. “We do not have a website, but are currently developing one. We are on Facebook and wanted to make you aware that we are now in full production”, Craig tells me. Once Sun-Fun gets their website up & running, I’ll post a link on the Manufacturers page. Until then, for those of you on Facebook, be sure to give them a “like” and check them out for those of you in western Canada in the market for a teardrop. A link to their Facebook page with contact info can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/sunfuncampers

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RVtravel.com Features White Water Retro

For the past couple of years, Riverside RVs has been pumping out its fair share of White Water Retro travel trailers from it’s LaGrange, Indiana factory. In that time, the end product has made great strides in quality from when they first showed up in 2011. When I talked to Riverside’s Bob Taulbee last year, he told me they were getting out about 1,000 Retros a year. When you do a search on RV Trader, there are (as of this posting) over 200 Retro travel trailers for sale in varying floor plans.

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(photo courtesy Braun’s Fun Time Campers)

This week, RV Business posted a short story from RVtravel.com regarding the Whitewater Retro and how it was inspired by the classic Serro Scotty canned ham trailers from the 1960’s & 1970’s. A three minute video was included in the article and explains a little further the inspiration as well as highlights some of the features of the Retro that Riverside officials believe sets it apart from other retro trailers, as well as some history of Serro Scotty from RV historian Al Hesselbart.

For more information on the White Water Retro, visit their website at http://www.riversidervs.net

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Cricket Trailer Featured in Dell Video

Houston, Texas based Cricket Trailer has been featured in a video commercial from Dell Computers that was released today on the Dell YouTube page. The Cricket is a unique (understatement!) adventure camper designed by former NASA architect Garrett Finney.

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While at NASA, Finney spent time designing living quarters in the International Space Station. It was this design background that fostered the inspiration for the Cricket.

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The Dell video highlights Taxa’s (Cricket’s parent company) use of Dell Precision workstations and SOLIDWORKS, a computer-aided design program used in designing and creating Cricket trailers.

I’ll be working on a feature of Cricket Trailers in the weeks to come, but until then, above is the Dell video that gives you a brief snapshot of the technology used behind one of the most technologically advanced trailers on the market today.

 

(Images courtesy http://crickettrailer.com)

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A look at the Bowlus Road Chief

The Bowlus Road Chief. In the history of travel trailers, the Road Chief might possibly be one of the most iconic trailers ever built. Built by Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” Superintendent of Construction, Hawley Bowlus, the Road Chief had much of the same construction methods of airplanes of the early part of the 20th century when it first debuted in 1934. However, it took Wally Byam to take control of Bowlus’ struggling company, and in 1936 rename the Road Chief the Airstream Clipper, which ultimately put Byam’s Airstream on the map for generations to come.

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Now in 2013, a new version of the Road Chief is back in production. Owner and designer John Long started building the Road Chief in 2013 after a 10 year restoration of his own 1935 Road Chief.  The new Road Chief looks as vintage as it gets on the outside, but the interior is anything but that. Creature comforts on the inside include a private “stateroom” in the rear of the trailer that features a king bed that converts to two twin beds, a full size 6 foot sofa with storage drawers underneath, birch interior, 120 watt portable solar panel, separate dinette, 3′ X 5′ bathroom with shower & cassette toilet, 2-burner stove, 3 cubic foot refrigerator, microwave, and as they say “much, much more”.

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However, the exterior is as close to the original version as it could get. Like the original Road Chiefs, the 2013 version also boasts aircraft grade aluminum that is riveted and bonded. And of course it wouldn’t be a Road Chief if it didn’t have its distinctive front entry door (with screen door) on the front of the trailer.

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The 2013 Road Chief checks in at 2800 lbs and just over 23′ long. However, the hitch and bumper are removable, which makes it possible to store one in a 20′ garage, although the 7’10” height would require a minimum 8′ door. The 6’4″ interior head room also makes it comfortable for most.

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Built in Ventura County, California, the Road Chief isn’t for every pocketbook. There is no dealer network and the $1500 reserve is just a fraction of the $100,000 price tag. However, for those with the means, the Bowlus Road Chief is a trailer that will garner the attention of everyone at the campground, and one that will send you back in time.

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To find out more about the Road Chief, visit their website at http://bowlusroadchief.com, or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BowlusRoadChief

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IndyCar manufacturer and RV innovator collaborate on carbon fiber RV line

RV innovator Global Caravan Technologies and IndyCar chassis manufacturer Dallara have announced a collaboration to build the first carbon fiber-constructed line of recreational vehicles. The collaboration includes Dallara’s expertise and advice, which include their decades of building chassis that have been crossing the finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1997. dallara-indycar-conc-19w                                                                                            (photo courtesy trackforum.com)

Called the “CR-1 Carbon”, the line will first include travel trailers and fifth wheels, and then motorhomes and specialty vehicles, according to a press release. The first models will be unveiled in December at the Dallara IndyCar Factory in Speedway, Indiana as part of the Performance Racing Industry’s annual trade show held in Indianapolis that week.

GCT promises new floorplans and options new to the RV industry. The CR-1 Carbon lines will be meant with the luxury minded and long term camper in mind, boasting full height closets, large walk through master baths with oversize showers, washer & dryer, and high end flooring and paneling.

The exterior will apparently open some eyes with patent-pending designs and body lines that will be new to the RV industry. Unique systems will include DryCamp, which is an off-grid power system, and MyControl, a power management system that completely controls the RV’s system wirelessly via an iPad. Due to the light weight of carbon fiber, fuel mileage is expected to improve up to 100% compared to similar sized units.

523a6908e4b002193858945fGCT’s braintrust has a wealth of experience in the RV industry and the business world with CEO Charles Hoefer and President Harrison Ding. Hoefer’s family history includes his father, who was a co-founder of Dutchmen RV and Four Winds RV. Ding’s business experience includes management positions at both Cisco and IBM.

Says Ding, “Our product strategy is tailored for market acceptance in North America, Europe, and Australia, and also capitalizes on the high growth opportunity in China, where RV sales may approach the US in the coming decade.”

Says Hoefer, “Our products meet specific needs, such as remote camping, tailgating, full-timing, high security, and connectivity. We know consumer interests vary, and we can build one-of- a-kind and specific-use products with automotive-level testing and validation.”
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Aside from Dallara, GCT has also partnered with other companies, both from the automotive and aerospace industry.

“For Dallara, helping GCT to design RVs applies our strengths in composites, learned from decades of experience in
racing car competition,” says Dallara USA CEO Stefano DePonti said. “It is fitting that Dallara is lending our advice and expertise to such a transformative project.”
GCT appears to be taking their collaboration with Dallara seriously.  GCT has opened a temporary office directly across the street from the Dallara factory. With my home base being literally just a couple of minutes from the Dallara factory, I hope to be able to view the CR-1 Carbon after it debuts in December.
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Where the actual units will be built is not yet known, as the sign on the GTC door states “temporary”. With the hub of the RV industry being just 3 hours to the north in the Elkhart, Indiana region, that would seem to be the logical location, but I hope to find out that info soon. And although I don’t know what size their trailers will be and thus might not even fit into our theme of 20′ or less, I found this to be some interesting news since 1) I’m a mile away from Dallara, and 2) this very well could be the future of construction methods for RVs of all types.
Oh, and for price? MSRP for all lines will range anywhere from $160,000 to customized units to the tune of half a million dollars. I look to have future posts on this topic, so as always, stay tuned, and as always, thanks for reading.

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Camping along Missouri’s Route 66

In late July and early August, my wife & I had the opportunity to attend the International Route 66 Festival in Joplin, Missouri. Although it was some 525 miles from our home base in Indiana, we decided to blend two of our loves for this trip: Route 66 and camping.

We camped four nights in our Serro Scotty on this trip at three different campgrounds, all in Missouri. This was also the first time we ever had camped anywhere on Route 66, so we had some research to do in regards to where to camp on those particular nights.

For the first night, we chose the Lady Bug RV Park just west of Cuba, Missouri. The Lady Bug is a small, privately owned park consisting of a mere 30 sites. However, they had excellent amenities there, including clean shower facilities, a fully stocked store, swimming pool, and friendly service from owner Charlotte. The Wednesday night rate of $23 gave us a full hook-up pull-thru site with wi-fi (although it was down).

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While the Lady Bug is at an interchange just north of I-44 with no other services, there is some fun to be had within 6 miles east along State Highway ZZ, which is also the path of old US Route 66. Just a mile east on Route 66 from the I-44 exit where the Lady Bug is located stands the World’s Largest Rocker, located at the Fanning Route 66 Outpost. Standing 42′ 1″ tall, the rocker is quickly becoming one of the more photographed tourist attractions along Route 66, with the help of billboards along I-44 luring travelers off the interstate and on to Route 66 for a picture and a cold drink and souvenir at the outpost.

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Less than 5 miles east of Fanning is the town of Cuba. If you’re a fan of barbeque, one of the best you’ll find is Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q, located on the east side of Cuba on 66, next to the historic Wagon Wheel Motel. Route 66 through downtown Cuba is a great stretch to park the car…or your tow vehicle…and take a stroll and view some of the murals dotted throughout town, depicting the town’s history dating back to 1857: http://cubamurals.com

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Our second night we found ourselves at our campsite for the following two nights: The Big Red Barn RV Park in Carthage, Missouri. While it may not suit some campers because of a lack of a swimming pool, it suited us just fine and gave us the things we value in our camping experience: peace and quiet. The Big Red Barn is nestled east of US 71/I-49, just off a country road, just far enough away from the noise of the highway, but close enough to Carthage (less than 5 minutes) if you need something a larger town has to offer.

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The Big Red Barn was also an excellent stay for us. With our Good Sam Club discount, our total bill for two nights was $63, consisting of another full hook-up site, but with this one also offering cable TV hook-up. Restroom and shower facilities were fine and our escort to our site after checking in is always a nice touch no matter where you’re staying. Whether you’re visiting nearby Joplin or Carthage, there are plenty of things to take advantage of in the area, including a drive-in movie at the 66 Drive-In, the Precious Moments Chapel, or a photo opp at the historic Boots Motel, all in Carthage.  For more things to see & do in Carthage, visit the Carthage Convention & Visitors Bureau at http://visit-carthage.com

Following our visit to Joplin and the International Route 66 Festival (check out the full details on that here on our road trips blog: http://roadtripmemories.com/2013/08/02/july-31-august-4-2013-international-route-66-festival-joplin-missouri/), we made our way back east through the Missouri Ozarks for our final night of camping just outside of St. Louis at the KOA in Eureka, along the shoulders of Route 66. We had stayed at a KOA only one time prior, and the service at the Eureka KOA was just as top notch. As anyone will tell you, yes, you do spend more at a KOA, as our water & electric-only pull thru site for $39 would indicate. However, the service by the entire staff was exceptional. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with a KOA, and for some, that peace of mind goes a long way.

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This last night on our trip was especially nice because of the three campgrounds, the Eureka KOA was the only one of them actually along the shoulders of Route 66. This also meant this was the first time we ever got to camp along Route 66, which is something we’ve been waiting & wanting to do for several years.

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St. Louis has a long list of things to do for tourists, from the Gateway Arch to Six Flags to The Hill, St. Louis’ Italian District. However, the lone night we stayed at the KOA, we met up with a couple of friends who live nearby who camp at our house during the Indianapolis 500. We had a great dinner at the Big Chief Roadhouse, a bustling eatery that dates back to 1929 on the old Manchester Road alignment of 66. From there it was on to a spot that is as famous to St. Louis as Stan Musial and the Mississippi River: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, located on Chippewa Street in the St. Louis city limits.

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This camping trip along Missouri’s 300+ miles of Route 66 was a good test to see how well a small trailerite would do traveling an historic highway where having to stop for photos is a “must do”, as my wife is quite adept when it comes to roadside photography. It’s easy when you’re just in a car and can pull off to the side of the road for a picture or can just pull into the location. However, when you have a 16′ trailer behind you, that can pose some challenges. My advice if you’re on an historic highway trip and hauling a trailer is to BE PATIENT. Know your surroundings, be cautious of where you want to turn around, and just use good judgement. You can still get that cool shot of that old abandoned gas station, but you have to put some careful thought into making it happen.

If you’re a novice Route 66 traveler, I highly recommend getting your hands on Jerry McClanahan’s EZ Guide to Route 66, available here. Also, when planning your Route 66 camping trip, Route 66 News has a comprehensive list of campgrounds on or near Route 66, which you can find here.

Safe travels…

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