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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Camp-Inn Camp-Outt Tiny Trailer Rally in Mauston, WI

You may not know this but back in September and October I took a four week road trip and traveled to several places that included Wisconsin, Michigan, and Toronto, Canada.

Visit the Camp-Inn website at www.TinyCamper.com

My first stop (after dropping Kitai off with his grandparents in Washington) was to Mauston to attend the 10th Annual Camp-Inn Camp-Outt trailer rally. Fred had learned about it on the www.tnttt.com Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers' forum. I'd been planning to come out to Michigan a week later on my way to Toronto so I pushed my trip up a week and made it in time to attend the rally. There were 101 registered campsites and 194 people from 24 states all in one park for three days. It was such a blast!

If you have a thing for tiny trailers, like I do, your heart just kind of goes pitter patter at the thought of a hundred of them all in one location.

It was quite exciting. It was The Glampette's first official rally. I met up with my friend Fred (The Glampette's builder) when I arrived at the campground. He took this picture for me that shows exactly how much I love my trailer :) I just need longer arms.

The route to the campground was a little convoluted since I drove to Washington state first, but then it was almost a straight shot down I-90 to arrive at Castle Rock County Park. On the way I drove through a lot of rain, rain and a sleet storm in Montana, and a lot of wind in Minnesota. In total it was around 2,643 miles, or 38 hours, of driving not including gas stops which add an hour a day to your on the road total when you're driving 10 hours a day.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you may recall reading about Camp-Inn trailers on two occasions. It's doubly unusual because you just don't see that many teardrops in the wild, so be parked beside one twice in one summer is, I think, a rare thing.

The first was the second night after I'd left Michigan in June from picking up The Glampette when I spent the night at the KOA in Kennebec, South Dakota. When I arrived and the camp host saw my tiny trailer he was really excited and said there was another tiny trailer there that evening and he would put us beside each other so we could be friends. LOL

Turned out it was a Camp-Inn teardrop. Its owners had just picked it up the day before just down the highway from the campground the rally was held at.

I mentioned a Camp-Inn again just recently in my blog post about the teardrop trailer rally on Treasure Island at the Flea Market. Once again I ended up parked beside a Camp-Inn for a few hours on Sunday. There seems to be some cosmic thread that keeps bringing us together.

This is Shari's 550 Teardrop.

As you can imagine there were many Camp-Inns at the rally. The funny thing was that I had no sooner stepped out of my car when two women approached me. One was walking quickly with a happy smile on her face, clapping her hands together as she asked "Is that the Glampette?" LOL I almost fell over and for a moment I was speechless. I couldn't believe someone in Wisconsin knew the name of my trailer. Turns out Shari had followed my story online and recognized the trailer the moment she laid eyes on her as we'd entered the park.

Her teardrop was so cute. She even had potted plants, a nice ground cover and a pink flamingo glamping up her space.

I also met Randy, a fellow tnttt forum member who came over and introduced himself as someone who had followed my build but I wouldn't know him at all because he never posts anything in the forum himself.

Next, another friendly guy came over, pointed his finger right at me and said with a smile: "You got lost!" LOL I had. I told him I did. I made a wrong turn before I made the right turn getting to the campground. He said he saw me driving the wrong way down the highway and told his friend "She's lost." It took an extra 20 minutes or so but I finally figured it out after stopping to ask for directions.

I have no excuse other than that I was on vacation to explain why I didn't take enough photos while I was there. So, I had to pull this one from the Camp-Inn Facebook page of another model trailer they make, their flagship 560 Raindrop. It's the Cadillac of teardrop trailers. I would list all of its features but there are so many there isn't room for all of them here. You can click it's name above to see the descriptions on the Camp-Inn website. The must haves to me?

• Panoramic front windows
• The interior is 5 feet wide holds a queen size mattress and has a couch that converts to bunk beds
• Most of all it has the sexiest most modern teardrop galley kitchen I've seen to date

There's also a 500 Teardrop model with plenty of nice features but after you see the 550 Teardrop and 560 Raindrop I'd imagine it's hard to not want one of the fancier options.

And there were non-Camp-Inn trailers there too. Some were manufactured, but many were home built. That was one of the neatest things about the rally. I've noticed that everyone who owns a camper is pretty much always very friendly and fun loving. But, when it comes to rallies, sometimes things can get a little segregated. For instance you might have to have a certain brand, or a certain year to be considered "vintage," or a certain model, or style trailer to be able to attend some of the rallies.

There's a good chance The Glampette won't fit into most of them because she's new (modern) and she's not a teardrop but she's not really a canned ham either.

So both Fred and I thought it was pretty neat and very generous of the Camp-Inn folks to let non-Camp-Inns attend their annual rally.

One of the highlights for me was that Fred taught me how to use my dad's old Coleman lantern. He'd bought it in 1983 (the receipt was in the box) but hadn't ever used it so it was both vintage and new. I'd picked up some Coleman liquid fuel on the way and that evening we filled her, pumped her little knob, and lit her up. I have to say a Coleman lantern is a camping essential. More on that in a future post.

The rally was also my first opportunity to use one of the vintage folding chairs I'd found at The Antiques Colony earlier this year. I have a pair. They were green and brown when I bought them. Now they're glampy yellow!

I was also lucky that Fred was there because other than fruit and wine I didn't bring a whole lot to eat. LOL. He'd told me ahead of time I won't go hungry so I didn't worry about buying groceries since I'd been on the road for the four days previous to my arrival. Not only did he bring enough food for both of us, he even got me some honey!

It was one of the options the organizers had made available when you registered that you could purchase honey, bees wax, and cranberries because nearby the Cranfest was taking place that weekend.

Fred lives in Michigan and had arrived a day before me so he'd scouted out the available campsites and chose a picture perfect one for us right alongside the lake. That's his Northern Lite Traveler trailer to the left in the lower picture. Believe it or not it weighs even less than The Glampette with a dry weight of only #525 pounds.

On Saturday there was a huge potluck dinner. This is not the dinner we attended. Due to rain that evening, and our needing enough hands to carry our potluck contribution, dinner dishes, flatware, and our own drinking cups, I didn't have enough hands to want to juggle my camera in the rain. But, our dinner looked the same as this one, only with less sun, more jackets, and more wet.

After dinner there were announcements and awards. Guess who won the award for coming the furthest distance from the west? One guess. Mmmm hmmm. Me! So cool to win an award at my first rally. And it's gorgeous. A beautifully routed wood plaque that I will cherish always.

The next morning I woke up and went to photograph the sunrise, which was as dramatic as a sunset because of the low clouds over the lake.

There was a huge group breakfast then people departed to either head home. . .

Or go take a tour of the Camp-Inn factory in nearby Necedah. We'd signed up for it on Friday after I'd arrived.

Can I just say I felt as if I was in Santa's toy shop? But the toys were gorgeous teardrop trailers. The trailers in the lower half of the picture above are completed, the white paper is to protect their aluminum skin until they go home with their new owners.

The factory itself was very impressive. Everything was clean and meticulously organized. The jigs they use to fabricate some of their parts looked like sculptural works of art themselves. It was fascinating and the perfect way to end our Camp-Inn weekend.

Thank you so much to Craig, Cary, Betsey and everyone else who made the rally possible. It was such a treat to drive so far across the country and be so warmly received.

Not only did I take home an award, I also took home a Camp-Inn, double walled, stainless mug. Fred won a pair in a raffle after the potluck and was kind enough to give me one as a memento of our weekend in Mauston. Lucky me :)

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