Posts Tagged ‘camper’

Cool campers hit the road

June 11, 2011
  • Jill Hocking, The Australian.

“HEY, aren’t you a little cutie?” Is the woman on the bush path speaking to me, rubbing sleep out of my eyes as I emerge from our caravan? Or is she addressing my partner, Andrew, who’s lying in the shade of a coastal banksia, reading?

She approaches and peers into our little mobile abode. “Come and have a look at this!” she calls to her husband. “Does it pop up? What’s in there? Can you stand up? What do you do in there?”

Our caravan is different to others cruising Australian roads: it is low-slung and streamlined and features art-deco curves that resemble the shape of a tear. It is called a Teardrop.

We are exploring the beaches of far eastern Victoria for a few days, road-testing the second-hand Teardrop we bought from an advertisement in our local paper.

On this maiden voyage we’ll pitch up in a caravan park in Lakes Entrance and bush camp at Cape Conran Coastal Park.


This is an opportunity for us two caravan rookies to find our towing legs.

We give the woman and her husband a guided tour of the “little cutie”. Inside the Teardrop, a double mattress takes up the whole floor space. (Unless you are of Lilliputian proportions, you cannot stand up.)

Doors on both sides mean an easy exit in the middle of the night. There’s clothes storage above the foot of the bed and more stowing space behind our heads. A central fluorescent light and neat LED reading lights take care of night-time illumination.

Outside, at the back of the van, we lift the hatch to reveal the natty kitchenette: fridge, gas cooktop, sink, space for food preparation and storage for crockery, cutlery and pots and pans.

Fixed to the front is a capacious metal box for the wet-weather awning and non-perishable food. At the caravan park we pitch at a powered site and in the bush we use the battery. The Teardrop is light and manoeuvrable and needs neither stick-out mirrors nor the grunt of a 4WD to tow.

Teardrop trailers-for-two first hit the road in the US in the 1930s but it wasn’t until after World War II that the phenomenon properly took off. The September 1947 edition of Mechanix Illustrated: The How-To-Do Magazine featured building instructions for a double bed on wheels in the shape of a teardrop.

Teardrops went hand in hand with Americans’ desire for a simpler life after years of wartime austerity. The backwoods and the water beckoned; what better way to experience the romance of the open road than in a trim caravan with fetching retro curves?

Early models were built from salvaged World War II Jeep axles and wheels. Exterior skins came from the wings of wartime bombers.

Americans’ love affair with the classic teardrop waned in the 1950s. They wanted bigger and better in their mobile homes, and over the years got what they wished for: chunky caravans featuring not only a kitchen sink but dishwashers, washing machines and dryers, top-end entertainment systems and more.

At the caravan park in Lakes Entrance, our Teardrop stands out in a crowd of big rigs resembling aircraft carriers on wheels.

Curious campers sidle past our van and stop to chat. They soon work out its kitchenette is exposed to the elements and that, no, you can’t stand up inside. One couple, with a glance at our snug sleeping quarters, say wistfully, “Oh, you must love each other.” They reminisce about cosy caravan holidays of times past, all the family piled in together.

We point out its features to another couple, who look at us as if we have lost our minds. “It’s all you need,” they declare, appraising the van’s basic comforts. But is it relief I see flickering across their faces as they scuttle back to their luxury tourer, overflowing with bells and whistles?

A holiday in our jaunty little van reduces life to its simplest terms. At Marlo we pull over, raise the kitchen hatch and within minutes are sipping an alfresco coffee by the mouth of the Snowy River. We trundle into the camping area at Cape Conran at dusk, unhitch, crank the prop stands down and still have time for a swim before nightfall. In the morning we wake to the screech of rosellas high in the trees.

A Teardrop holiday might be a smallish step up from camping, but when the skies open we count our lucky stars that we are above the ground, warm and dry, and not in a tent. The LED lights cast a warm glow as we read in bed.

At Cann River we discover that our Teardrop is by no means the cutest of the pack. We stop for a picnic in the park and are approached by the local police officer. His wife is mad about Teardrops, he tells us. In his backyard shed we gaze at the sweetest, most minuscule van we’ve seen: porthole windows, shelves and a pint-sized bed. (They must really love each other.)

Little did we know when we set eyes on this second little cutie that our two Teardrops are part of a zeitgeist in retro caravanning. Across the globe classic caravans are becoming cool.

And how does the Teardrop fare on its inaugural odyssey? We hit our towing straps by day three; bumping in and out of campsites is a breeze. But the next day we come undone when we stop for a picnic on a rutted bush track and discover that a spring has shattered. (It’s not until later that we learn our double bed on wheels, built by a DIY enthusiast in 2004, was assembled on a 1970s trailer base.)

We are rescued after dark by a chain-smoking panelbeater who winches the van on to his tray truck, where it slips and slides its way back to town.

After we’ve spent two nights in a motel, the Teardrop is repaired and we are back on the road. We decide this gives a new meaning to the term “tearing up”.

Original Article



Annual rally brings campers to PB

May 22, 2011

Dressed in the fashions of the era, owners of some 250 travel trailers from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s greeted the public Saturday afternoon at Pismo Coast Village RV Resort in Pismo Beach.

Many of the Airstream, Shasta, Silver Streak, Vagabond and other classic travel trailers were decorated with accessories that could have been found inside and around them back in the days when they were new.

Some of the units were even towed by vintage vehicles ranging from 1940s Hudson pickups to 1950s Willys wagons.

The trailers were on public display during the fourth annual Trail Along to Pismo, a four-day rally organized by Vintage Trailer Camp.

For more information about the group and vintage trailer events, visit

Original Article

Hand-built caravan wins Teardrop Challenge competition

May 18, 2011

Monday, 16, May 2011 02:46

by Holly Tribe

A one-of-a-kind teardrop trailer has been crowned the champion in a caravan building competition at a recent campervan festival.

Vantastival in Co. Louth, Ireland, is now in its second year and is a festival dedicated to fans of live music and campervan culture. This year, event organisers invited revellers to renovate, or construct from scratch, a micro-caravan in the ‘Teardrop Challenge’.

The Teardrop trailer became popular in 1930’s America, and has since developed a dedicated fanbase of caravan and DIY enthusiasts. It gets its name from the distinctive teardrop profile, but models come in all sizes, shapes and colours.

Entrants were encouraged to be as off-the-wall as their imaginations would allow, with judges basing their final verdict on the exterior look and the standard of the interior finish.

According to the Donegal Democrat, the winning entrant was constructed by 29-year-old Enda McFadden, who began building the caravan just a few weeks before the start of the festival.

A carpenter by trade, Enda used his skills to construct the two berth caravan – receiving Euro500 worth of DEWALT power tools for his efforts.

The judges were particularly impressed with the exterior design scheme; Enda used blackboard paint on the caravan’s walls and invited spectators to decorate the caravan with their own designs.

Original Article

American Teardrop Trailer – Roaming Times Review

May 3, 2011

American Teardrop says: “We have been able to drastically lower the price of teardrop camper trailers by using assembly line production technique and eliminating the distributer mark up. Our streamlined production facilities make it possible for us to lower our price while giving you the quality and the features you expect.”

Important dimensions:
4 models are available – see below
Overall length 7’2″ ‘/ 13’0″
For specifications of the 4 models click here

MSRP  from $3995 (5/2011), kits avalable from $2995
(American says: “$2995 – $6995 All American made classic camper!”)



 American Teardrop


LOA 13’0″
Weight 925 lbs
Tongue weight 101 lbs


American Teardrop


LOA 11’10”
Weight 840 lbs
Tongue weight 80 lbs



American Teardrop


LOA 10’6″
Weight 748 lbs
Tongue weight 72 lbs


American Teardrop


LOA 7’2″
Weight 240 lbs
Tongue weight 24 lbs



From the Auburn Journal California:

The teardrop is designed for convenience.
 “It can be towed behind any car, including electric cars,”  Bud Hausman (general manager of American River Sales in Auburn) said.  “They’re super lightweight.  They’re the RV for the next generation.”  The trailers have been increasing in popularity for the last 15 years, “with the last two years seeing the biggest growth we’ve ever seen,” he said.
The demographic is just about everyone who enjoys the outdoors.  “Because of high gas prices, people don’t want a second high-mileage vehicle,” Hausman said. “They want to have their car and go on vacation.”
Teardrops offer a no-to-low frills experience.  “People love camping, but no one wants to sleep on the ground,” he said. “When they walk away, they want to be able to lock up all the gear inside.”

Original Article

Skillful fan builds a teardrop camper

April 24, 2011

Retro design harkens to ’30s, ’40s, draws a crowd

Two years ago, Gordon McAuliffe noticed a few unusual-looking campers pull into his Town Mountain Travel Park in Hendersonville. McAuliffe, 57, saw the unique, retro-style teardrop trailers in tow and immediately took a liking to them.

Teardrop trailers, also known as teardrop campers, gained notoriety in the 1930s, ’40s and early ’50s. The convenient, compact camping trailer got its name for its streamlined teardrop shape and is typically 4 feet to 6 feet wide, 4 feet high and 8 feet to 10 feet long.

The camper weighs about 800 to 1,000 pounds and has enough room for two people to sleep. It can also be towed by smaller vehicles and even motorcycles, McAuliffe said.

He also owns a carpentry business, Gem Painting and Home Repair, and jumped at the opportunity to build his own teardrop trailer, built out of birch and aluminum. It took four months to complete the project.

“This was a challenge because everything is rounded,” McAuliffe said.

One of the more unique features is found in the rear of the camper. A hatch opens, revealing a small cooking area called a “galley.”

Opening the hatch on his own camper, McAuliffe showed off a small gas-burning grill, a couple of coolers with a small shelf to prepare meals. Some teardrops even come with a kitchen sink.

McAuliffe enjoys simplicity when it comes to camping. “I’m a minimalist,” he said.

With the compact camper, McAuliffe said he’s able to spend more time outdoors rather than “living” in one of the larger, modern RV models.

I camp for the experience,” he added.

Although he has yet to camp with the teardrop, McAuliffe displays it at local car shows and Music on Main. He parked it at Hendersonville’s Antique Car show with the vehicles and not campers. “I didn’t know how it would be accepted,” he said.

As he pulled up, six people immediately gathered around the small camper made of birch with a rounded aluminum roof. Inquisitive onlookers peered inside the cozy cabin where a mattress sits, along with shelves and cubby holes for storage.

The lights inside run off of a motorcycle battery, and the camper also has an electrical outlet and cable hook-up if they choose to watch their favorite television programs.

But McAuliffe hopes to do more than just show off his camper. He’s looking forward to taking a road trip with his wife, Deanna, as soon as his 17-year-old son, Matthew, can manage the family’s RV park for a weekend.

“I’d like to go cross country,” McAuliffe said. “It would be a blast.”

Young RV Sales in Kings Mountain is one of the few dealerships in the state that sells teardrop trailers.

“There has definitely been a resurgence of (teardrop trailers),” said Damien Gray, sales representative at Young RV Sales.

In the past three weeks, the dealership has sold three teardrops that typically cost between $3,000 and $9,000. The appeal is that they are more environmentally friendly than typical RVs, and because they are so light, they are more fuel efficient for the vehicle towing the teardrop trailer, he continued.

“It’s like a tent on wheels,” Gray said.


Original Article

It’s What Lies Beneath

January 12, 2011

JARED MORGAN – The Southland Times

They hark back to a time when holidaying was done at a different pace, but sometimes the retro beauty of a caravan is only skin deep, according to Otatara businessman David Horsham.

Mr Horsham, who runs DH Caravan Repairs Ltd, said as the holiday season wound down it was the perfect time to check the bones of caravans.

“By the time you see any sign of a leak, it’s too late.”

Most of his six-year-old business is removing the outer shell of caravans to expose the often rotten wooden frame underneath.

It was a common problem people were not aware of, Mr Horsham said.

Most mass production of caravans stopped in New Zealand in the early 1980s, meaning maintenance, particularly of the joins in a caravan’s shell that potentially leak, was becoming increasingly important.

The only way effectively to ensure the joints were watertight was to remove and reseal them, he said.

“It’s about preventive maintenance … we had one caravan brought in that had broken at each corner after hitting a pothole. The frame had rotted and the impact broke its back.”

The work cost up to $1000 to fix a rotted-out corner but, in some cases, the extent of the hidden rot meant a complete rebuild, Mr Horsham said.

And it was at the rebuild and custom-build stage that his business came into its own, he said.

“We pride ourselves on doing things that are a bit outside the square.”

That included projects, such as building a replica classic “teardrop” caravan, through to complete restoration.

Teardrop caravans first appeared in the 1930s. Their popularity soared in the late 1940s, fuelled by plenty of war surplus aluminum.

At the restoration stage, most work involved stripping a caravan back to parts because of the way they were built, Mr Horsham said.

“If you liken it to a house, a caravan is built back-to-front.”

That meant much of the interior including floor coverings was fitted before the outer shell of the caravan, he said.

One of his latest projects was restoring a 1961 Starliner from the ground up, keeping as much of its original chrome and Formica interior fittings intact as possible.

Mr Horsham said word of mouth meant his customers came from across New Zealand and internationally.

“Mine and my father’s name is pretty well known.”

His father operated a similar business from Ryal Bush for 25 years, before retiring 11 years ago, he said.

“That was pretty much my apprenticeship. Every time I went home at the weekend it was ‘hey lad you’ve come at the right time’,” he said.

Original article

Tear Jerkers bond with tiny trailers

September 21, 2010

By Bob Scott

Nearly 50 members of the Indiana Tear Jerkers will camp out this weekend at Prophetstown State Park near Battle Ground.

The Tear Jerkers all have teardrop travel trailers. The compact trailers sleep two and have a basic kitchen in the rear.

The state chapter of the international Tear Jerkers group will camp from Friday through Sunday.

Bob and Vickie Henry of Linden are active participants in the Tear Jerkers. They have five of the teardrop trailers, including two that he has built.

“They become family,” said Vicki Henry, 56, of fellow Tear Jerkers. “We get together four times a year and look forward to seeing each other.

“I love to cook for the Saturday get-together. We swap recipes and show off our trailers. We are there to kick back around a campfire with friends.”

Bob Henry, 60, makes his living as a construction estimator with Midwest Construction in Frankfort. He said he’s been part of the Tear Jerkers since early 2007.

“The state chapter representing Hoosiers has 80 to 90 members,” he said. “I’m the only Lafayette area member that I know of.”

The teardrop style trailer first became popular during the 1930s. They faded away in the 1960s but made a comeback in the late 1990s. The trailers are usually 4 to 6 feet wide, 8 to 10 feet long and 4 to 5 feet high. They weigh less than 1,000 pounds.

Some of the trailers use batteries for electrical power, while others have power hookups.

Bob Henry said some of the teardrop trailers can cost up to $20,000.

“I have less than $1,000 each for my two home-built trailers,” he said.

The Henrys said they look forward to curiosity seekers stopping at the “gathering” this weekend.

“People go by and break their necks looking. They don’t want to bother you until you invite them over. Then they ask a lot of questions.”

The Henrys take trips to area campgrounds, including primitive sites.

“We won’t ever give this up,” Vickie Henry said. “We’ve worked so hard over the years.

“Now it is time for us to play.”

Original Article

If you ride to the left you will lose your horse, if you ride to the right you will lose your head.

August 18, 2010

  Have you ever wondered what inspired people to start building their trailers?

 After all mention the words teardrop trailer to most people and 9 outof 10  won’t have a clue what you’re talking about.  So how is it that thousands of people accross the world, became so enthusiastically engulfed in an obsession that means  that many will devote the majority of their spare time building, sleeping, cooking and crawling in and out of a 4ft high can on wheels? 

 Bob Henry is a member of the Hoosier chapter of Tearjerkers and a regular contributor to T&TTT forum. Here he tells us how he was seduced and a love affair began.

The Fork In The Road

January of  2007 was just like any frozen cold month in the construction business, slow , slow , slow.

I was at my desk “Just in case “ but there just wasn’t much happening. Our company pre builds residential and commercial buildings.  It simply becomes a follow the numbers build.  Stand wall number one then  attach to wall number two etc. you just follow the instructional layout that is provided. 

I am in charge of estimating , inventory control and shipping and with nothing happening thanks in large part to a  –8 wind chill most of the week I was doing a whole lot of nothing.

The cads designer was surfing the internet and hollered at me to “come look at this” !

This moment was to change my life it was a tiny little tear shaped trailer. I had just seen my very first “Teardrop trailer”

In the cold, slow, weeks to follow I searched and searched everything on every search engine I could find about the little trailers. I found several links to a site  a rather unlikely sounding site but I dropped in.

 It is referred to, by the members, as t&ttt . (short for Teardrops and tiny travel trailers)

I had hit the main vein in the gold mine. This was a site dedicated to the building of the teardrop and other style small campers. The main criteria seemed to be that the minuscule units measured  somewhere between  8  and 12 feet in length. It was not a hard fast rule but that was more the general feel of the members.  I  looked in and learned a great deal and on Feb 7th 2007 I  became an active member of the site.

In late March I came out of the closet and informed my wife I was going to build a tiny trailer. My very first effort was a super simple little 3×5 cargo trailer to be pulled by my motorcycle. It was a quick build and only server to whet my appetite for a larger more lavish camping size model.

So with this first little trailer build under my belt I now felt that I could construct a very serviceable full sized teardrop. At 56, and being a two job workaholic most of my adult life, I was done burning my candle at both ends. I asked for the wife’s blessing to start on my new project of building a full size teardrop trailer so we could play on weekends instead of working them away.  I felt it was the time in our lives to slow down and start enjoying the peace , quiet and tranquility of  camping.

So, appropriately , on April fools day of 2007 I drove 45 miles to pay for and pick up a used Harbor Freight brand kit trailer I had purchased on E-Bay for $75.00.

The build was officially underway.

During the month of April I assembled the frame and constructed the floor.

The walls went up in the month of  May.

The month of June was spent designing and building the galley

                     ( the little kitchen in the rear ).

Storage cabinets were installed in the front sleeping area as well.

July was roughing in all the electrical and installing insulation and then the  interior paneling. At mid month I was still scratching my head about what to install for the roof , 

Then one day I answered an ad in the newspaper for “Plastic panels” Turns out they were bronze tinted lexan that had been remover from large commercial skylites. I had found my roof material !  The bonus would be a see thru roof !

August arrived and  I fine tuned doors and  built the galley hatch lid and veneered the outside of the tiny trailer with luan panels and applied 6 coats of marine spar varnish.  I was finally ready to install the roof  but one final thing had to happen first , a queen sized pillow top mattress needed to be inserted thru the roof spars and into the sleepy side of the tiny trailer.

September arrived and the folks I had been talking with on the teardrops and tiny trailers forum  had planned a local Indiana “Gathering”  for the 17th of  the month. I so wanted to go. I worked frantically but by the date I was still attempting to finish the roof.  As it turned out we had to settle for a ride thru the park on my motorcycle and to stop and visit with the folks and look over their little trailers. 

I would like to point out a home built teardrop is never really finished ! We refer to a functioning trailer as “Campable”  This generally means all the important parts function and that nothing is likely to fall off.

In mid October, with camping season all but gone, we finally got the tiny  trailer fully functional.  We driveway camped at home.  I was heartbroken we had not been able to camp with our new found friends in 2007.

And then………

 Someone got the bright idea our little Hoosier group should be the first group in the nation to go camping in 2008. We planned for the 1st weekend after new years and 8 intrepid campers braved the snow and cold for bragging rights. We dressed heavily and stood near the campfire and visited and ate and as the sun went down so did the temps. So we retreated to the comfort of our little trailers.

       That night’s temperatures went to  –1 with a –15 wind chill index but all parties were warm an safe in their little trailers by them. Equipped with small electric heaters everyone was comfortable. This get together was our maiden camping outing we encountered several rough edges with forgotten items and learned to make do and borrow from the neighbors when necessary.

Now, well into the close of  or 2nd year of camping, we have camped in 5 states and have attended some 17 gatherings as well as 5 or 6 solo excursions.  The camping group has developed into an extended family and we have gained quite a few real close friends. Not a nodding acquaintance but a true friend, one you can call in the middle of the night broke down somewhere and they will rescue you. That kind of friend you can not put a price tag on.

Soon to enter into my 60’s I never expected to develop into a camper type but both my wife and myself look forward to each outing and arrive home at the end  of each tired and happy.

Looking back to that cold wintry day in January of 2007  I feel  so blessed that I found a small picture of a “Teardrop trailer” . It  sounds a bit corny but it was a fork in the road for us and luckily it led us down a serene wooded path to the joys of camping in comfort.

Grandma’s recipe was just the beginning

July 30, 2010

From lefse to sushi to camping trailers, entrepreneurship runs in the family.

When Laura and George Herberg decided in 1959 to market her lefse recipe, a thriving business in tiny Gonvick, Minn., wasn’t the only payoff.

Offering living proof that entrepreneurship runs in the genes, three of their grandchildren lead their own businesses, each of them with upwards of $1 million in annual sales.

There’s Lisa Edevold, 48, who has opened two thriving sushi restaurants in the metro area.

And Craig Edevold, 47, who has taken an old concept — the pint-sized “teardrop” travel trailers popular in the 1940s and ’50s — and added a bit more space and a trailerload of modern amenities.

And Mark Edevold, 49, who’s running the original family business, applying his own entrepreneurial mojo to broaden the product line and grow revenues at a double-digit rate.

Add it all up and we’re talking three businesses that grossed nearly $6 million and employed 88 folks last year.

Lisa’s Tiger Sushi bars, owned with husband Scott Mann and a friend, Chris Katayama, lead the parade with a 2009 gross of $1.8 million at a Mall of America location opened in 2003 and $1.5 million at a store opened in south Minneapolis in 2008.

So how did this blond Norwegian, who started out as a marketing manager for a couple of financial services companies, wind up peddling raw fish to a growing fan club in the Twin Cities?

“I was at the Mall of America one day, and I was hungry,” she explained. “I love sushi, so I started looking for a sushi bar — and I was shocked when there wasn’t one.” For reasons that escape the comprehension of this scribe, sushi was growing in popularity in the Midwest, so Edevold promptly decided this was a “huge opportunity.”

It was not her first foray into the business. In 1992, while working full time as a marketing manager, she teamed up with Jack Thompson to open Java Jack’s, one of the area’s early purveyors of trendy espressos, cappuccinos and lattes.

It meant working 16-hour days, but she saw the cafe grow to nearly $1 million in annual sales before selling her share in 1998 and returning to a more humane work schedule.

Starting the first Tiger Sushi was not all that easy, however. An owner of the Mall of America (MOA) resisted at first: “He said something like, ‘Raw fish in my mall — never!'” Edevold said. But she had a senior MOA manager on her side, and he persuaded the boss.

The upshot: The mall location grossed $1.9 million in 2009. And a Tiger Sushi that opened late in 2008 at 2841 Lyndale Av. S. added another $1.5 million to the pot last year.

Which brings us to Craig Edevold, a mechanical engineer in Necedah, Wis., who was aiming to buy a travel trailer for a 2002 vacation trip to the Grand Canyon. Trouble was, everything he looked at was too heavy for his vehicle to pull — until he saw an ad for a vintage “teardrop” trailer.

It was light enough, but “it was basically a box on wheels with a bed and some storage,” he said. He wanted a bit more comfort, so he built his own teardrop with a queen-sized bed, a stove, a sunroof and a few windows to minimize any claustrophobic tendencies.

“Everywhere we stopped on the trip, people gathered around,” Edevold said. “It’d take an hour to get away when we stopped for gas.” He knew he was on to something.

So, when his employer, an electronics packaging firm, closed its Necedah plant, he and another plant employee, Cary Winch, started Petenwell Industries to sell their 5-foot-wide, 4-foot-tall, 8- to 10-foot-long Camp-Inn Travel Trailers with an array of options fit for a luxury suite at the local Holiday Inn.

There’s a queen-sized bed, a couch that converts into a children’s bunk bed and a chuckwagon-style kitchen, accessible from the outside, that offers a counter, sink, propane stove, cooler and cupboards.

Tiny campers, big amenities

Throw in TV/DVD players, heaters and air conditioners and you get a trailer that can sell for about $20,000, although a more austere number can be had for about $8,000. Edevold, however, is downright shocked that his average sale is about $18,000.

“I expected most sales would be low-end models,” he said. “But we sell about four of them a year.” Result: 2009 sales approached $1.3 million.

That’s close to the gross Mark Edevold is generating as head of Winsor Products Co., the Gonvick company doing business as Mrs. Olson’s Lefse.

Since succeeding his father, Ron, as manager of the business in 2006, Edevold has seen annual sales climb from $700,000 to $1.1 million, thanks to a package of new products and fresh promotional concepts.

The biggie: He promoted lefse not simply as a holiday treat topped with butter and sugar, but as a sandwich roll-up for chicken salad, ham and cheese, even hot dogs. This attracted such new clients as caterers, restaurants and Middle Eastern markets where the lefse is valued as “flatbread.”

He also developed a line of breading mixes and built a website that now accounts for 20 percent of annual sales.

All of which is not to suggest that every decision the Edevolds made was golden. Consider the one Lisa made as a University of Minnesota student promoting Mrs. Olson’s lefse at a metro supermarket.

Clad in traditional Norwegian garb — long skirt, puffy-sleeved blouse and a little red hat — she was “laying it on thick” with a pronounced Norwegian accent when she was approached by two men who’d been plugging their new gourmet ice cream in the store.

“They said they liked my ‘shtick’ and wanted to hire me to do demonstrations for them in the Midwest,” Edevold recalled. “I took one look at their prices and decided they’d never make it, so I turned them down.” But before they departed, she asked their names.

“I’m Ben,” one of them said, “and this is my brother, Jerry.”

Dick Youngblood • 612-673-4439 •

Original Article

Along the road to greener travel

June 21, 2010
Quebec Company Safari Condo makes a camper trailer that downsizes your carbon footprint
By LYNN MOORE, The Gazette

In this carbon-sensitive era when counting greenhouse gas emissions is commonplace, it’s not always easy to declare yourself a fan of recreational vehicles.

Small vehicles are in and the pendulum is swinging to recreational pursuits that are easy on the planet. In the collective mind set, the RV is often seen as a gas-guzzling throwback to the age of bigger-is-better.

And, unfortunately, the RV industry is still introducing models that fuel that perception.

At the recent RV Salon in Montreal, there was no escaping the “sport-utility RV,” because it is so huge and it draws crowds of tire-kickers. Up to 11.9 meters (39 feet) in length, these SURVs feature a swing-down rear wall that can be lowered to the ground and used as a ramp to run an all-terrain-vehicle up into the vehicle’s interior so the RV and ATV can travel together.

But, fortunately, the industry also offers alternatives to the SURV and bus-size motor homes that clog up the roads every summer. These are smaller, lightweight units often outfitted with solar panels or powered by diesel engines.

The show-stopper among this year’s greener offerings at the RV show in Montreal was a made-in-Quebec camper called Alto.

It’s a teardrop-shaped trailer whose skin is made from a single sheet of aluminum. One distinctive feature is the retractable roof that opens up the trailer’s interior to a comfortable height. Made by Safari Condo, a family-controlled company in the Beauce region, the aerodynamic Alto can be hauled by compact cars or small SUVs.

“We wanted to create an ultra light travel trailer with the lowest possible drag ratio,” explained company spokeswoman Dominique Nadeau.

“The weight of a trailer is important but when you are driving 100 km/hr on the highway, weight is not what is holding you back … the wind is really trying to stop your car.”

Safari Condo, which also produces camper vans, tested three shapes before settling on the teardrop-shape. The patented electric retractable roof offers an interior heightof 2.08mor82incheswhile introducing light to the interior via a crescent of tinted tempered glass windows.

The first model, the Alto 1713, was unveiled in 2007, followed the next year by a model with a shower integrated in the toilet stall. These models are 5.26 meters in length and 2.11 meters wide and can be pulled by cars such as the Toyota Camry or Ford Fusion.

Introduced as a prototype in 2009 was the Alto 1733. With a slightly narrower interior -by 41 centimetres -and slightly lighter -by 38 kilograms over the 1713 -it was designed so it could be pulled by a compact car such as a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.

The price for an Alto starts around $24,000 and can reach $30,000 for a unit that is fully equipped with solar panels and air conditioning.

The base price includes a built-in sink with a glass lid that can be used as a work surface, a king-or queen-size bed in the back and a guest bed in the front of the unit. The units also come with a fridge, stove and pedestal table.

Flexible solar panels that lie flat on the trailer’s roof are optional on all models. One panel provides 68 watts; two panels provide 138 watts.

“With two solar panels, you are fully autonomous. You don’t need to plug in anywhere with that,” Nadeau said.

As much as possible, the company uses local products. The “eco-intelligent” fabric used for the Alto’s seats and cushions are from a local company and are chemical-free and recyclable, she noted.

The genesis for the 12-year-old company was the family’s love of campervans which, “are great in the city and great in the wild,” she explained.

The first Safari Condos used 16-foot General Motors chassis and in 2000 the company expanded the line to include 18-foot and 20-foot chassis. This year, the company has launched production of a new series that uses a Mercedes chassis and diesel engine.

The company, which employs about 50 people at two plants, “can’t keep up with the demand” for Alto trailers, Nadeau said. About 90 per cent of their Alto sales are for custom orders. Last year, about 75 units were produced and this year’s goal is 125 units. i

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RV ing a green way to go

The coalition representing much of Canada’s RV industry, is also trying to focus on the greener side ofRV s. GoRV ingCanadacites its 2008 study in which a third party compared the total carbon dioxide emissions of RV vacations with those that involve flying, renting a car and hotel stays. It found that for a family of four, RV vacations had a smaller carbon footprint.

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