Tag Archives: travel trailer

RVing on Route 66

 I’ve been a Route 66 enthusiast since the early 1990’s and have driven a portion of it every year since 1993, as it’s some 3 hours away from my central Indiana home. Throughout the years, I’ve exclusively driven Route 66 via car and stayed in motels, while never really giving campgrounds a second look.

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However, this year we decided to see Route 66 in a different light. Recently we hitched up our Shasta and took our 4 year old grandson on an RV trip along Route 66 to Amarillo, Texas. The trip encompassed some 8 camping nights at 7 different RV parks along the 1,000 mile journey to Amarillo, picking up Route 66 in St. Louis. This post is to provide some insight on how you too and comfortably RV on Route 66, as well as give an overview of the RV parks we stayed in along the way.

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Traveling the 80-85% of what’s left of US 66 in an RV, one needs to be prepared. For some, the challenge may be too much. But if you can come to terms with a few inconveniences such as maybe parking a few blocks away in a big parking lot in a small town to get to that “must stop” café or roadside attraction, you’ll find that little inconvenience is more than worth the trouble. Also, much of Route 66 can be a little bumpy and unforgiving. Afterall, there are many sections of 66 (especially western Oklahoma) that still uses the same 80+ year old Portland concrete that carried traffic when it was a commissioned highway. To aid in the adventure of traveling 66 by RV (or even just in your car), I highly suggest picking up a copy of Jerry McClanahan’s EZ66 GUIDE For Travelers, available through Amazon and other online sources.

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Jerry does an excellent job of giving some important “RV Alerts” when a section of 66 may be difficult for an RV and should be avoided. Jerry has been documenting various alignments of Route 66 for over 30 years and is a well-respected “road scholar” and photographer. He’s also quite the accomplished artist as well. His art studio is in a house just about a block off Route 66 in Chandler, Oklahoma. Visitors are welcome to stop by (306 Manvel) and browse his artwork that’s for sale, have your EZ Guide signed, or even have a picture taken.

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My best advice if traveling 66 in an RV is to use your best judgment and don’t forget to pack your common sense before you pull out of the driveway. Route 66 is never far from an interstate, so if you find a section that is getting a little too rough, you can always jump on the super slab in a short amount of time.

Now to the meat of our trip! Just a couple of notes. All sites were pull throughs with full hookups. We also received a 10% discount at the KOAs by using our VKR  discount card, and 10% at non-KOAs by using our Good Sam membership card.

Night One: Route 66 KOA. Springfield, Missouri. Recently I gave a review of this KOA on the southwest side of Springfield, so I won’t go into too much more detail, as I covered it in this post here. Despite the nearby railroad that frequents a couple times an hour, this is a well run KOA, and strong supporters of Route 66. Cost: $42.15IMG_8565

 

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Night Two: Cross Trails RV Park, Sapulpa, Oklahoma (southwest Tulsa). Where, oh where to begin with this one? If you look through their website, it sounds like nothing but sunshine and roses:

Sapulpa’s newest RV Park located on 7 Scenic acres with all the amenities that you need to feel at home. We are located in the scenic hill country on the Southwest side of the Tulsa metro area. We use the Eaton Powerhouse Pedestal that has 50/30/20 Amp electrical plugs, TV cable jack as well sewer, trash and free WiFi internet access. Our clubhouse offers a Laundry Room, Showers , a Playground area for the kids, a Dog Park, Picnic Area and Storm Shelter.”

You’d feel at home there for sure…if your home was on the surface of the moon. Why they’re open is beyond me. It’s situated next to a storage unit atop a slight hill next to I-44 and Route 66. They’re new in the sense that they’ve started construction and decided to go ahead and “open” without being anywhere close to done. There are concrete pads and electrical posts with water, but most of the pads don’t have electric and they’re covered with construction materials. We were in phone communication with the owner on the way there, but upon arrival, no one was around to take our campsite fee. When we got back from dinner, we contacted the owner and were told his son would meet us by the dumpster to take our money. At this point it was dark and I was getting a bit nervous. Approaching the fence that separates the storage facility from the campground emerged the son, where I gave him my campsite fee through the fence. From there, he disappeared into the darkness. I’m still not sure if I was in a Breaking Bad or Twilight Zone episode.

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The advertised “clubhouse” was closed the entire time we were there, likely because it was still under construction. And the dump station didn’t look like it was usable, although we did have a full hookup site.

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I can’t say that once we got unhitched for the night we had a “bad” experience, although the place is a far cry from what the website portrays. But the whole thing was just…weird. I would suggest until they show any kind of progress in completing the place and having an actual staff on duty to avoid this place. And that’s putting it mildly. Cost: $30

Nights 3Elk City/Clinton KOA, Foss Oklahoma.  Due to some wicked 25 mph constant crosswinds, we had to make it a short day on the road. We pulled into the Elk City/Clinton KOA, situated about halfway between Elk City and Clinton Oklahoma. There’s not much thrill to this KOA compared to some, but that’s OK. We were greeted by a friendly staff and given our site number among some shady trees on this hot western Oklahoma afternoon. The park is the only thing there is at this interchange of Interstate 40. It’s a good overnight stop when you’re on the road looking for a place to pull over for the night. They do have a decent playground that kept my grandson content for the afternoon. Cost: $34.65

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Nights 4 & 5: Oasis RV Park, Amarillo, Texas. The Oasis RV Park was quite the extreme from our experience on Night 2 near Tulsa. Here there are 180+ sites with all level concrete pads with full hook-ups and multiple shower houses and laundry facilities. This park, just west of Cadillac Ranch on the south side of I-40 near the Arnot Road interchange, caters heavily to retirees. Even though our Shasta is practically new at just 6 months old, I felt a little out of place being nestled amongst $100,000+ motorhomes and high end fifth wheels. I didn’t mind though, as we felt safe and sound there. Amarillo is a GREAT place for RVers to stay. There are several good RV parks in town where you won’t have any worries. I narrowed our choice down to two, so I let my grandson pick based on the playground. It worked out well, as we stayed at the Oasis RV Park in….our Shasta Oasis. There’s a Love’s Truck Stop 1/2 mile up the road near the interchange, so that makes fueling up before hitching up a nice convenience. There’s a good photo op on the grounds as well with a motorhome buried nose-first into the Texas soil, which is a nice tribute to the park’s neighbor to the east, Cadillac Ranch. Amarillo is probably my favorite Route 66 town. When there, be sure to visit the Jack Sisemore RV Museum, located on the grounds of the Jack Sisemore Traveland RV dealership. It’s small, but they have an impressive display of RVs from several eras. Click here for more info. Cost for two nights: $65.70.

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Night 6: Twin Fountains RV Resort, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Much like the Oasis RV Park in Amarillo, the Twin Fountains RV Resort in Oklahoma City caters to a lot of retirees with high dollar rigs. This place was a fantastic stay, and we were sorry we were there for only one night. The grounds were well groomed and they offered a nice lodge with 24 hour laundry, swimming pool, miniature golf, and a few extra niceties like massages and a hot tub. The park is located next to I-44/I-35 on the near southeast side of OKC, just north of Remington Park. I can’t say enough good things about this place. We look forward to heading back there sooner rather than later. Cost: $40.05 

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Night 7: Joplin KOA, Joplin, Missouri. Our 2nd to last night on our trip was at the KOA in Joplin, Missouri next to the interchange of MO-43 and I-44. Like the KOA between Elk City and Clinton, Oklahoma, this KOA is geared towards overnight stops. However, I give HIGH marks to the staff here. Any shortcomings at the facility are quickly washed away with the great staff at this park. They went out of their way to offer us any assistance we needed. The park was clean, although surprisingly sparse on the Friday night we stayed there. Someone who saw a picture of our campsite suggested we were parked in a drive-in movie lot instead of a campsite. They have a really nice playground here, but the big draw for my grandson was the fish pond. Stocked with perch, carp, and monster catfish, the office has free fish food you can take out under the shade of the gazebo and feed the fish and ducks who also patrol the grounds. I score this with HIGH marks just for this feature alone. Cost: $38.60

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Night 8: St. Louis West – Historic US 66 KOA , Eureka, Missouri. This was our final stop on our trip. We had stayed here in 2013 and it left a positive enough impression on us to stay here again. Unlike the Joplin KOA, this one was heavily activity oriented. We had a prime spot next to the pool, with Route 66 in front of us. There was a bounce house for the kids, and Sunday morning they offered t-shirt coloring for the kids as well. Again, no complaints this trip either. This KOA offers a lot of good sites for tent camping, has several Kamping Kabins, and even has a nice pavilion, where a wedding reception happened to be taking place the night of our arrival. There’s also a real caboose near the front of the park that you can sleep in for the night as well. With a well stocked shop filled with a good variety of Route 66 souvenirs, this is one of the better places for anyone RVing on Route 66 to stay when in the St. Louis area. Cost: $44.76

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We found traveling Route 66 with an RV to be a really fun experience…one that we weren’t sure about when we left home. What we found out is that there is a good amount of RV parks out there along the shoulders of 66 that eagerly cater to those specifically traveling Route 66, just as those who are out there discovering 66 via car and staying in motels. And we found some of those RVers ourselves, as I encountered several RVs at some of the parks that were sporting Route 66 license plates or decals affixed to their RV. But this trip also gave us the luxury of staying in our own bed each night, while still moving to a new place each day.

If you’re doing your own research on RV travel on Route 66 and contemplating your own journey, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It’ll give you a new way to explore Route 66 with all the comforts of home.

If you have any questions on RVing on Route 66, please leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail: pat@smalltrailerenthusiast.com

 

 

 

 

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White Water Retro Going More Retro

LaGrange, Indiana based Riverside RV has announced a new addition to their White Water Retro lineup. The popular 177 floor plan will be the basis for a Special Edition model that will hit dealer showrooms in the coming months. Additional features to the newly named 177SE will be a new paint scheme with three color options, whitewall tires, birch interior, upgraded LED exterior lighting,  and wheels painted to match the trailer’s color.

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 This looks like it will be a very popular addition to the Retro lineup, and I’d venture to say it’s an answer for those who’ve had concerns about the 1961 Shasta Airflyte reissue’s sleeping set-up, as the White Water utilizes a rear island queen bed and front dinette.

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I’ve got a call out to Bob Taulbee of Riverside RV, so once I get more info, I’ll post it here. Stay tuned!

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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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2015 Shasta Airflyte Reissue: Firsthand Report

Recently my wife & I got the opportunity to view firsthand one of the 2015 reissued 1961 Shasta Airflytes, courtesy of Mount Comfort RV in Greenfield, Indiana. To say the Matador Red Airflyte we toured was was a work of art is an understatement. Shasta RV hit a home run with it and the fact that there are very few left of the 1,941 16′ and 19′ trailers speaks volumes for how this venture by the Forest River subsidiary has taken the RV industry by storm.

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Ken Eckstein is owner and chief operating officer of Mount Comfort RV and started in the industry in the 1970’s washing RVs for a local RV dealer. He’s been everything from a technician to a salesman to an owner. He told me, “In my 40 years in the RV industry I’ve never seen anything like this”, referring to the reissued Shasta and its overwhelming popularity among the RV public.

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Overall my impressions of the finished product are positive. The novice will be fooled into thinking it’s original, and even the seasoned vintage trailer enthusiast will have to take a few looks to figure out if it’s new or classic. Many of the details were replicated to that extent. Many features were meticulously modeled after the 1961 Shasta it is based on, including the lamp over the dinette, the famous Shasta wings, the “S” magazine rack, and the chrome exterior Shasta emblems. 15764649645_d4afedf953_z

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One positive for vintage Shasta owners is that some of the components of the reissue are the same as the original 1961 Airflyte. For instance, the windows, wings, and door are the same dimensions as the originals. More photos can be found on my staff photographer’s (my lovely wife) Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadtripmemories/sets/72157648832498390/

As the 1,941 16′ and 19′ Shasta Airflyte reissued 1961 models are now making their way into the hands of their new owners and the buzz starts to die down, we can look back on these last 4 months and how this phenomenon was fueled almost entirely by social media. I first heard of the news in mid July from Rusty Eckstein at Mount Comfort RV. It was our goal to work together on being the first to bring the news to the public through this site and the Mount Comfort RV site, but alas we were trumped by Greg Gerber when he broke the news in his excellent RV news source, the RV Daily Report. It was Greg’s report that first hit just about every RV related Facebook page you could find. Then it got shared, Tweeted and then I came out with posts of my own here that were shared and retweeted. The next thing you know, just about all 1,941 units were spoken for. And the real kicker? There was NO MENTION of the 1961 reissue on the Shasta web site! This should prove to RV dealers every where what a powerful tool social media is and how important it is for dealers to have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as a YouTube channel with videos of current inventory. Oh, and an inhouse blog writer would help your cause too. 😉

Next up for me is the 2014 RVIA trade show in Louisville next week. I’ll be there seeing what 2015 has to offer for you fellow small trailerites. Be sure to follow along on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Small_Trailers, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Small-Trailer-Enthusiast/269125426471703, and right here on YOUR favorite source for all things trailer small. As always, thanks for taking time out of your day for visiting The Small Trailer Enthusiast.

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2015 Shasta Airflyte Update

As posted on the Mount Comfort RV Facebook page, Shasta RV president Mark Lucas released additional photos of the 2015 Shasta Airflyte reissue. The new photos show the Butternut Yellow and Seafoam Green color schemes. With the Matador Red scheme that initially debuted in July, this completes the three colors available of the 1,941 Airflytes to be produced.

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According to Mount Comfort RV, most of the 1,941 units have been spoken for and it’s anticipated the last couple hundred will be reserved within the next week. Production of the 16′ and 19′ models will start September 22.

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2015 Shasta Airflyte video update

As discussed a couple of weeks ago, Mount Comfort RV has made a trip up to northern Indiana to get a first hand look at the new 2015 Shasta Airflyte. Shasta president Mark Lucas gave Mount Comfort RV an exclusive walk through video tour to go over the ins and outs of the Airflyte. Instead of me rehashing in a post what he talks about, I’ll just leave all the talking to Mark. More detailed photos are up on the Mount Comfort RV website and can be seen by clicking here.

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  Mount Comfort RV vice president Rusty Eckstein tells me they’ve been taking pre-orders for the Airflyte from all over the country. And starting at $14,999, I think it’s safe to say the 1,941 that will be produced will be spoken for rather quickly. Feel free to leave comments with Mount Comfort RV on their YouTube page below the video so they can pass along your likes & dislikes to Shasta…they are listening.

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Forest River reissuing the classic Shasta Airflyte

Consider this post the first of several over the coming weeks and months to introduce you to the new Shasta Airflyte, produced by Shasta’s manufacturer, Forest River. Even though I use the word “new”, the new Airflyte will look anything but new. In fact, it will use a nearly exact blueprint from the 1961, although it will comply with RVIA specs. The Airflyte will have a limited production run of just under 2,000 units and should be available later in 2014. And this Airflyte will be a far cry from the Airflyte that Coachmen RV brought back in 2009, which happened to be featured in the very first post of this blog back in 2011: http://smalltrailerenthusiast.com/2011/09/07/a-tale-of-two-shastas/

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be privvy to some inside info on the Airflyte, courtesy of Rusty Eckstein, vice president of Mount Comfort RV, a dealer that will be carrying the Airflyte. We’ll have more info including a lot of photos, specs and even some video from the factory in Elkhart. But for now, here are two photos from the factory on the assembly line to whet your appetite. More to come!

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Manufacturer’s update: Safari Condo

As I wrote back in April, Canada’s Safari Condo had introduced a fixed roof model of their Alto model. Since then, production has been brisk. According Safari Condo’s Michele Nadeau, “We are sold out until February 2014! To respond more quickly to demand we have almost doubled our production in the last three months.”

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The Alto also sports a new color. “We have a new exterior color that replaces the yellow one and this is the Metallic blue.” As mentioned back in April, the Alto is now available through the United States.

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For more information on the Alto or Safari Condo, you can contact them through their website: http://www.safaricondo.com  You can also visit them at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Safari-Condo/123104127859354

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Manufacturer’s Update: The Whetzeldorf

When I first introduced you to the Whetzeldorf in October of 2012, builder Dan Sutton still hadn’t quite fine-tuned the look he wanted it to have.

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Now nearly a year later, Dan appears close to finding the look he’s been looking for. “(I’ve) Just finished a Retro looking version, which sold very quickly, which also may become the standard look.  I have also started another, which will include a bathroom and a galley in the back, similar to a teardrop.”

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The look of the new & improved Whetzeldorf , with the half green and half chrome aluminum siding,  has definitely changed the dynamic of this 1200 lbs micro camper.The offsetting color scheme has elevated the appeal compared to the original base silver aluminum of the 2012 models. Add to that the classic window “eyebrows”, then you’ve got yourself a camper that some will ask, “Did you restore that?” or “What year is it”?

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Learn more about the Whetzeldorf or to contact Dan with questions, visit the Whetzeldorf website at http://whetzeltracetravelers.webs.com/whetzeldorfcamper.htm

 

 

 

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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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