Tag Archives: small trailers

2018 Aliner Ascape: Firsthand Report

Aliner has been building hard sided pop up campers since 1984, and they’ve been generally accepted in the industry as the standard which other manufacturers follow in that category. In the late 2000’s, Aliner experimented with conventional small travel trailers with the Marco and the Amelia, which were short lived with minimal success. This year, Aliner has made a comeback in the small travel trailer segment with the introduction of the 13 foot Ascape.

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The Ascape is produced in Aliner’s Mt Pleasant, Pennsylvania’s plant. In these times where every manufacturer is copy-catting what everyone else is doing, it’s refreshing to see someone come out with something that no one else has. And despite its diminutive size, the Ascape is loaded with a lot of amenities.

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One of the unique features of the Ascape is the rear entry door, which includes a drop floor creating a generous 6’4″ of interior head room. When the dinette is converted into a bed formation, it creates a very roomy 64″ x 77″ sleeping area.

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The Ascape packs a lot of standard options, including outside shower, 40 watt front roof mounted solar panel, electric brakes, 13″ aluminum wheels, 3.0 cubic foot refrigerator with freezer, 6 gallon water heater, range hood with fan, Fantastic Fan, screen door, LED lighting throughout, 2 burner range top stove, deep stainless steel sink with pull out faucet, microwave oven, dual 20 lbs propane tanks,  and 16K BTU furnace.

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When it comes to options the Ascape offers, there are just a few and they come in one package: 9200 BTU roof mounted A/C, a 5 foot Carefree awning that mounts over the rear door, Thetford cassette toilet, and a 23′ flat screen TV with a Bluetooth sound bar.

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I did mention above that the optional air conditioner is a roof mount. However, for a period this year, Aliner was installing wall mounted units, which is how these units I looked over at Mount Comfort RV were equipped. I’ve been told that newer Ascapes being produced will have the roof mounted unit. If you go with option package that includes A/C, this will negate the standard Fantastic Fan. However, if you want both the wall mounted A/C and the Fantastic Fan, as you can see from these pics, there are some out there.

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As for the exterior, the Ascape is a smooth aluminum siding with a one piece of aluminum on the roof. Four stabilizer jacks are standard as is the front mounted spare tire. The graphics packages offers four different color options. The green pictured above is standard, but you can also pick from black, red, and blue.

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As for overall specs, the Ascape is 13 feet from hitch to tail, and fully optioned will weigh right around 1700 lbs. Exterior height is 7’5″ without A/C and 8’4″ with the roof top A/C. The box width is 66″ and the total width is 73″. The hitch weight is 170 lbs and the GVWR is 2500 lbs, giving you somewhere around 700-800 lbs of cargo capacity.

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So you might ask who is the Ascape made for? Several! It’s great if you have a tow vehicle with minimal tow capacity. It’s also a perfect fit for a growing segment of buyers, and that would be single females looking for something easy to tow with minimal effort to camp in. I also see this set up well for the adventure outdoors buyers looking for something they can use off the grid, as the standard solar panel and dual propane tanks can offer some extended boondocking. Or it’s also good for those of you who like unique, cool looking small trailers with good features. Overall, my opinion is positive on the Ascape. It would be nice if there was a wet bath feature, but given the small footprint of the Ascape, a wet bath would take away much of its storage, so it would take some creativity. However, Aliner has been pretty creative over the last 30 plus years they’ve been in business, so if it can be done, they’ll be able to.

While at Mount Comfort RV looking over the Ascape, I also did a little 10 minute walk thru video for you to get a little more up close look. A fully loaded Ascape has an MSRP of just over $20,000, so you should be able to fetch one somewhere in the mid teens range.

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Little Guy transformation kicks off with the Max

 

The report of my death was an exaggeration. – Mark Twain

That famed quote by Mark Twain in a letter he wrote in 1897 is something that popped into my head on the drive back home to Indiana recently after visiting Liberty Outdoors’ facility in Somerset, Pennsylvania. For after the split of Little Guy Worldwide (now Liberty Outdoors) with longtime manufacturer Pleasant Valley Teardrops (now nuCamp RV), a lot of people left the Little Guy team for dead.

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Destined to become more than just a teardrop marketer, Little Guy entered the arena of manufacturing, something quite new to them. With the recently acquired rights to the Serro Scotty brand, Little Guy formed an alliance with Gulf Stream to manufacture an “everyman’s camper” in the Serro Scotty. The Scotty took a beating on the internet, and especially in the vintage Serro Scotty community, due to its perceived lack of styling with its standard travel trailer boxiness prevalent in the industry today. Little Guy assured everyone that this was just the first wave, and more products were yet to come that would be more in line with their roots that they would manufacture themselves.

That day has come.

Fresh from their own plant in Somerset, Pennsylvania, comes the Little Guy Max.

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The Max is just the first of many new lines you’ll be seeing coming out of the plant in Somerset over the next two years. And based on my first hand observations of the Max last month, the product offerings from Little Guy will undoubtedly set the small trailer community on its ear. But until then, let’s first take a look at the Max.

I met Little Guy Director of Operations, Dylan DeHoff, at the Liberty Outdoors Somerset plant one Wednesday morning last month. Along with Dylan to meet me was a celebrity in the world of camping podcasts, Janine Pettit of the Girl Camper podcast. Janine was lucky enough to be taking the 3rd Max built back to her home in New Jersey, as she was going to do some hands on critiquing of the Max for Little Guy on a 4 week trip out west starting this month.

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Janine and Dylan took me on a tour of hers before she took it back to New Jersey. The first thing you notice when you first step into the 21′ Max is the incredibly open feel, due in part to the seven dual paned windows throughout, including a window in the door that opens up for additional airflow. IMG_6686[1]

There are also two windows in the rear of the Max that also open, including the vertical window above the spacious 60″ x 80″ queen bed, with a mattress locally made exclusively for Little Guy.

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If there’s one word that really defines the Max it would have to be space. You really feel the space in the actual physical size of the Max, including an impressive 6’7″ ceiling height. In addition,  the light tones of the real maple hardwood cabinetry open it up to create such a refreshing environment that’ll rival the great outdoors for your time spent camping.

lg max4Space is also highlighted in the form of storage space. And for a trailer of this size, I don’t recall anything have the storage, and it’s smart storage, as the Max. A total of two pantries, a deep drawer below the fridge, storage below both the queen bed and the front dinette, as well as three kitchen drawers, and overhead cabinets and cubby holes at every turn.

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This doesn’t even cover the storage under and around the front dinette either, which there is plenty there as well. You’ll notice in the photo above the 24″ Furrion TV at the foot of the bed. There’s also another Furrion TV concealed at the front dinette that opens up with the press of a button. That front dinette also folds down to make a single bed, as typical in most RVs.

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As for construction, the Max is built quite a bit sturdier than your typical trailer in this class. First, it sits on a tubular steel frame that is powder coated to automotive standards. As is the case with most of the components Little Guy uses in production, the frames are locally built. The cage is aluminum and insulated with block foam insulation and covered by Azdel paneling. The one piece fiberglass roof and sidewalls can come in either a white or silver base, with exterior trim in your choice of black, silver, or red.

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The floor is made of a 3/4″ thick product called PerforMAX 500, which is a wood product engineered to better withstand moisture and be more stronger and stable than plywood.

performax500The construction really shines especially in the cabinetry. The dovetail construction used throughout is something you just don’t see much in the industry. I learned during my visit there that they’re building trailers to last you a long, long time. They have the confidence in their trailers that they’ve put a standard 2 year warranty on them, which in the industry is still the exception.

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As for bathroom facilities, the Max has a wet bath with a height of a generous 6’2″, giving ample headroom for most. It also includes a full size multi-speed fan, which is a rarity when it comes to trailer bathroom vents. lg max10

The standards on the Max are plenty, and things you wouldn’t even see as options on other trailers in this class. As for some of the exterior features, they include a 6’3″ Thule awning with LED light strip, 2″ rear receiver for the optional bike rack, 15″ aluminum wheels, sliding screen door, exterior speakers and TV mount, pass through storage with slam latch doors, illuminated aluminum entry step and illuminated grab handle.

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On the inside of the Max, you’ll find (aside from those features already mentioned), an 8″ deep stainless steel kitchen sink with residential style high rise faucet with sprayer, a flush mounted 2 burner gas stove with glass top, a stainless steel microwave, stainless steel 4 cubic foot stainless steel refrigerator, 13,500 BTU roof mount air conditioner, traditional 6 gallon Dometic hot water heater, LED touch screen and switch panel for monitoring tanks and lighting controls, LED lighting throughout including various accent lighting above cabinets, and Furrion Stereo, Bluetooth, MP3, MP4, DVD.

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As for standard specifications, the Max checks in with a dry weight of 2,900 lbs, tongue weight of 281 lbs, and is an even 21 feet long. The holding tanks are 20 gallon fresh water, 14 gallon gray water, and 9 gallon black water. Overall width is 7 feet and height comes in at 9’1″. There’s also an optional Rough Rider package you can buy that gives you a 3.5″ axle lift, black diamond plate, and 15″ matte black off road wheels and tires.

The options on the Max are four: solar panel, bike rack, power tongue jack, and stained cabinetry, if you want your interior a little darker.

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Even though I’ve given you a lot of information here, chances are I’m probably forgetting a few things, which is testament to how loaded this “little guy” really is. It packs a feature punch that honestly I’ve not seen in a trailer this size in the years I’ve been doing this. While some will balk at the $29,999 MSRP, once you see one for yourself, you’ll soon realize that you’re not going to really find much on the level of the Max’s build quality and features. And that MSRP isn’t as high as other similar high end trailers within its size range. And from my visit to their factory, I would consider the Max a high end trailer that will last you many, many good camping years…and look pretty cool rolling into the campground to boot.

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I asked Janine a week after she took to the Max what her impressions were of it and she told me, “Liberty Outdoors just raised the bar in the light weight towable market with their Little Guy Max. It’s built to an exacting standard, thoughtfully designed and affordable. It’s a win, win, win for all RV enthusiasts.”

Based on what I saw of the Max and the other projects set to come online in the next year, that bar will be raised even higher.  Their story is just beginning.

To find out more of the Little Guy Max, visit their website at http://golittleguy.com/lg-max/

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Winnebago Spruces Up Exterior of the Winnie Drop

A long time ago, many jobs ago, the CFO of the company I worked for once told me, “Pat, just because someone has an idea, doesn’t mean it’s a good one”. Fortunately he wasn’t referring to me, just giving me advice that’s stuck with me all these years. When the Winnebago Winnie Drop was introduced a couple of years ago, that advice came to the surface of my thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the Winnebago Industries. Not only has Winnebago been synonymous with RVing for decades, but their products are synonymous with quality. And it could be I’ve had an affection for Winnebago for some 40 years when my mom and dad bought me the famous Tonka Winnebago Indian that came out in the early 1970’s that I got for a Christmas present when I was a young lad. I really wish I still had that thing!

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But when the Winnie Drop first came out, I was initially excited about Winnebago introducing a small trailer that was eye catching, but the more I looked at one, the less excited I got. I just could not get past the graphics and the interior color. Let’s face it, the graphics were nothing short of a cluttered mess that left the word “garish” embarrassed.

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Instead of enhancing the Winnie Drop, these graphics did nothing more than distract from it. With the size and shape, as well as the exterior colors offered by Winnebago, the graphic package never did this trailer any favors. Up until now.

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(image courtesy Josh Winters of Haylett RV – haylettautoandrv.com)

This late 2017 graphics update for the Winnie Drop is exactly what this trailer needed. Now what do we have? A trailer that is accented by an excellent balance of size, shape, sidewall color and a much less vocal graphics package. Even the new Winnie Drop logo on the side is very nicely done with a simple arch incorporating the Winnebago “W” as a wheel.

Aside from the new graphics on the Winnie Drop, Winnebago has also increased the number of available colors it comes in. As Josh Winters of Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan tells me, “If yellow isn’t your color, then remember it only comes in six other amazing colors!” Up until now, the only colors it came in were cherry, blue, white, and platinum. In addition to those, you can also get it in orange, champagne, and the lemon color shown above.

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Now hopefully Winnebago will look into going with a lighter interior instead of the, as I call it, “brownish-gray” that they’ve had since its inception.

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Going with the interior color Winnebago is now putting in their Minnie line of trailers would open up the feel tremendously in their 6 1/2′ wide Winnie Drops. mi-b2f-16(image courtesy winnebagoind.com)

For those of you new to Winnie Drops, Josh put together another one of his stellar walk through videos of the Winnie Drop with the new exterior graphics. Be sure to visit the Haylett RV site for more info on their line of Winnebagos in stock.

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Small sightings at the Indy RV Expo

As the winter months drag on, I’m sure a lot of you have hit an RV show in your region. I was fortunate to work at one in Indianapolis for a couple of Saturdays this month for Mount Comfort RV at the Indy RV Expo. Seven dealers packed over 200 RVs in the West Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the 9 day event. Here are some of the small trailer offerings that the dealers brought to the show. In case you didn’t see some of these at the show(s) you attended, here’s a little more for you to research. For ease of viewing, I’ve put the 5 of the 7 dealer’s photo above all the trailers that follow it. One dealer didn’t have anything small. There were a couple I would’ve taken at Camping World’s booth, but 3 of their sales people were standing in front of them, too busy watching a football game on an outside TV on a motorhome across the aisle. Their loss….they should’ve been working.

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DSC_0570Winnebago Winnie Drop WD 1780

DSC_0585Winnebago Winnie Drop WD 1710

DSC_0571DSC_0573DSC_0575White Water Retro, Jr.

DSC_0577White Water Retro 177SE

DSC_0581DSC_0580White Water Retro 176S 

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DSC_0587DSC_0588TAXA Cricket Trek

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IMG_0583[1]Shasta Oasis 18BH

DSC_0591Palomino Palomini 177BH

DSC_0598Palomino Palomini 150RBS

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DSC_0596Aliner Scout Lite

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DSC_0601Coachmen Apex Nano 172CKS

DSC_0603Venture Sonic 190VRB

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DSC_0607Springdale Summerland Series Mini 1800BH

DSC_0608Keystone Bullet 1800RB

DSC_0609Walnut Ridge Family RV Sales

DSC_0610Keystone Hideout 177LHS

DSC_0612Keystone Hideout 185LHS

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2015 RVIA Show Prelude

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This week marks the annual RVIA trade show in Louisville, Kentucky. While not open to the public, I’ll be there bright and early Tuesday morning for the 5th straight year to bring you an overview of all the small towables on hand.

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I’ll be Tweeting and posting on Facebook throughout the day. If you use either of those social media platforms, do follow along! Time permitting in the days after the show, I’ll put up a post here on the website about what I see. In the meantime, you can like us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/The-Small-Trailer-Enthusiast-269125426471703/ or follow us on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Small_Trailers

 

 

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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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Manufacturer’s Update: Teal Camper

Not long after I started this blog, I came across Larry Drake, who was in the early stages of developing the Teal Camper, a modular camper that sits on basic utility trailer. When I first wrote about Teal Camper in November 2011, this site was just 2 months old and getting maybe 20 or 30 visits a day. In just under two years, Larry’s development has grown into full fledged production, and this site has grown to over 500 visits a day. So with that, our respective ventures have somewhat grown together.

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As Larry tells it, “The Teal Tail Feather camper has come a long way since your first article.  It is far more refined, from its trimmed out insulated automotive headliner, to the powder coated aluminum bench and cabinet frames.  We now have LED lighting as standard.  The counters feature a collapsible sink and HDPE cutting board counter tops.  The rigid door frame is now a one piece welded aluminum frame, also powder coated.  There are lots of options to choose from starting from a basic  shell to a fully outfitted camper configured in a variety of ways.  You can virtually customize it the way you want it.”

The leadership structure has also increased at Teal Camper. “Mike Eaton, our new Vice President and Director of Sales and Marketing, officially joined the team as of July 1, 2013.  Mike has been a long time supporter and consultant for us.  He has extensive experience in business and program management.  He teaches business classes all over the world to a number of Fortune 500 companies in partnership with the Stanford Center for Professional Development.  We are very pleased to have him on board.”

The distribution of the Tail Feather is expanding as well. “Although we only began production after the first of the year, we have shipped campers across the country and halfway around the world.  We are currently in a transition from our limited production in the R&D shop to a full production facility. Currently, delivery times are running about 45 days.”

We’ll continue to keep in touch with Larry and the progress of the Tail Feather and let you know of any new developments. For more information and pricing on the Tail Feather, check out the updated Teal Camper website at: http://tealcamper.com

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The Impetus of The Small Trailer Enthusiast

As The Small Trailer Enthusiast approaches the completion of four months of existence, the idea came to mind to write about how this blog came to be, and with that the inspiration for it. It wasn’t until the last three years or so that I’ve become interested in small travel trailers. My wife & I had wanted a teardrop trailer for many years, but it had always been one of the many “maybe some day” dreams we all have. When we did finally pull the trigger and purchase a T@B in 2009, it seemed to instantly fuel an interest in all travel trailers small. I’m not alone in this interest, as many of the small trailer brotherhood I know also will take interest in a diminutive towable they might see at a campground.

So what gave me the idea to start The Small Trailer Enthusiast? You need go no further than a 2400 mile ribbon of asphalt and concrete known as Route 66. My interest in this fabled highway goes back some three decades. 66 has been a big part of my adult life. Before I was married, it wasn’t anything for me to hit the road on a whim and take a 3 or 4 day weekend out west on the Mother Road for either a steak dinner 1,000 miles away in Amarillo, Texas, or 4 hours away for frozen custard in St. Louis, Missouri. It was because of 66 that I met my bride of nine years. We both had an interest in 66 and eventually met through a mutual friend who also had the same love of Route 66. Would it be a surprise to anyone that we had a Route 66 themed wedding or that we took our honeymoon on Route 66? How many of you didn’t see that coming?

 

With this interest in 66, I have always stayed on top of news from my favorite two-lane. Most of my news came from various publications and online message forums, but in 2005 Route 66 News changed the face of how information from 66 got to the general public. Started by Route 66 enthusiast Ron Warnick, Route 66 News has received nearly 3,000,000 visits over the past six years. Not only is it an excellent source of up to the minute news from the road, but is also an equally good database of Route 66 business information ranging from restauarants, motels, events, and yes, even campgrounds along its 2400 mile shoulders.

This leads up to this summer when the idea came to me to come up with a news blog relating to small travel trailers, loosely modeled after Route 66 News. Being a member of a few online forums dedicated to smaller trailers of various makes, I thought putting together a news blog for this niche just might work. So far, I’ve been pleased with the gradual growth since its inception on September 3. Daily hits to the site have gone from 9 per day in September to 77 per day as of December 15. I fully expect that number to increase as content on the site increases.

The things I look for to put on the site will focus on new models as well as news relating to existing models. I also hope to continue with the “spotlight” features, where I discuss a particular company and what they have to offer. As I mentioned in the “About” section, you won’t see anything about pop-up trailers here. Nothing personal against the owners of these trailers, but I’m just not a fan of pop-ups. The closest thing to a pop-up I might ever discuss would be an A-frame, hard-sided pop-up such as an A-Liner or a Chalet. I figured I’d need a cut-off size-wise. I picked 20′ simply because it was a nice round number, but that’s not to say I might not mention something  a little larger if it fits what I’m writing about.

Hopefully as time rolls on, I’ll develop some relationships with manufacturers so I can bring some content to you on a more frequent basis. I’m making some progress in that area with some smaller, up & coming manufacturers who’ve given me a lot of good info that have generated a lot of hits on the site. And if you’re a manufacturer or representative of a manufacturer who’d like me to talk about your company or trailer, feel free to contact me at roadmaven@yahoo.com. As always, thanks for reading…

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