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The Most Perfect People I Know

When I saw Teresa Miller post a picture of her and husband John’s 1960 Winnebago travel trailer decked out for Christmas on Facebook, I knew I had to borrow that for the cover for The Small Trailer Enthusiast Facebook page. But the more I thought about it, I realized I couldn’t just post that picture without going a little more in depth about the Winnebago and the folks who own it.

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John and Teresa bought their Winnebago in 2013 while they still lived in Iowa, and aside from the exterior paint, it’s all original.

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I had a chance to visit them at their southwest Missouri home in September to look into not only their Winnebago, but also their vast collection of Chevrolet Corvairs. They’ve got a great small trailer, they’re avid Chevrolet Corvair enthusiasts, and they live on Route 66. Since I’ve been involved with all three of those subjects throughout my 47 years, that makes John & Teresa just about the most perfect people I know!

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As for their Winnebago, the interior is all original, with the exception of the curtains. Everything else is how it was in 1960, and the Millers tell me it’s in campable condition.

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As for their Corvairs, I counted about a dozen scattered throughout their northwest corner lot on Missouri Highway 266 (an old alignment of US Route 66) and County Road 1210, which is just over 20 miles due west of Springfield. They purchased the home over a year ago and finally were able to move in full time earlier in 2015. Having owned two Corvairs myself totaling some 15 years, I was equally as interested in their herd of air cooled wonders as much as I was their trailer.

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John & Teresa welcome road warriors traveling Route 66 to stop by to check out their Corvairs (and the Winnebago) they have on display in their huge yard that faces Route 66. It’s across the street from the popular stop for 66 travelers, the Gay Parita Station, so have your camera at the ready for some good photo opportunities at both locations.

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To learn a little more about John & Teresa Miller, you can visit their website at http://jtvairs.com/.

(First three photos courtesy Teresa Miller)

 

 

 

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RV Park Review – Missouri’s Springfield Route 66 KOA

I haven’t done many RV Park or campground reviews, but felt compelled to give notice to one we recently visited.

We were in Springfield, Missouri for the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival and decided to haul our trailer out instead of going the motel route. We chose the Springfield Route 66 KOA because of its location close to the city. We arrived Friday afternoon and were greeted by the front desk staff and escorted to our campsite (25), per the usual KOA protocol.image

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The Springfield Route 66 KOA is smaller as most KOAs go, with about 75 RV sites and a combination of 9 Kamping Lodges, Kottages, and Kabins. But the smaller size also meant a more laid back atmosphere with little noise. However, if you’re a fan of railroads, there’s a line nearby that’ll keep your attention. IMG_8342[1]

Our site, number 25, was a full hook-up pull-through site that was nestled between many tall trees, which offered plenty of shade during this hot August weekend.

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But one of the main reasons I want to give notice to the Springfield Route 66 KOA is because of the subject that’s in their name: Route 66. Anyone who’s known me knows that Route 66 is a big part of my life, and has been for more than 20 years. What made this trip darn near perfect was that I was hauling our trailer on Route 66, enroute to a Route 66 festival, while staying at a campground with Route 66 in their name. The only thing that would’ve made it perfect is if the Springfield Route 66 KOA was actually ON Route 66! But as it goes, the KOA is located about a  mile south of Route 66 through the western edge of Springfield.

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Although they may not be located on the shoulders of the fabled Mother Road, they embrace Route 66 as if they’ve been there since the road’s inception in 1926. Owners Scott & Diane King have owned their KOA since 2004 after leaving their home in California. As business owners in a Route 66 town, the Kings definitely get it. From the signs that stand guard next to the homemade cows in the front of the office to the well stocked camp store filled with just about anything a Route 66 road warrior could use, the Springfield Route 66 KOA should be included as a must stop for anyone traveling Route 66. As Diane told me, she’s open to giving just about any kind of Route 66 merchandise a try in the camp store, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something new anytime you go in.

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IMG_8361[1] The Springfield Route 66 KOA should be the southwest Missouri stop for any RVer traveling Route 66, and dare I say even the non-RVing Route 66er. The Kamping Kabins, Lodges, and Kottages on the premises offer “komfortable” accomodations and a different way to get your sleeps on Route 66 when compared to a motel, and worth the experience. As a matter of fact, a fellow Route 66er in town for the festival happened to stay in one of the Kabins the same weekend we were there, and she told us she frequents the KOA Kabins all across the country when traveling Route 66.                   b98ec9bf-21ff-4fb4-9f60-8612d71b313dphotodaee997e-f190-480c-ade3-98067a7c04f0_jpg

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As traveling the two-lane highways of America goes, most non-RVers blow by campgrounds and RV parks without giving them a second look. And admittedly I was that way before I bought my first trailer. But whether you travel by car, motorhome, or have a trailer hitched to your rear, the Springfield Route 66 KOA is worthy of a visit, whether you bunk up for the night or just stop in to buy a Route 66 t-shirt or sticker in the camp store. For my fellow Route 66 enthusiasts reading this, we all know we aim to support those businesses that support Route 66. Let this be your introduction to another Route 66 business to add to that list.

You can find more information about the Springfield Route 66 KOA at their website at http://route66koa.com

 

 

 

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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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