Camp-Inn Teardrop Trailers - Wisconsin

Adventure Film 05: To Camp-Inn Teardrops

This is the fifth post on the Adventure Film project. If you haven’t read parts 1-4 of the adventure film blog series yet, you can read them here:


Days 6-7

On the morning of day 6, Landon and I did some sightseeing in the park for a while.  Since our film permit was good for only a day, we could just kick back and enjoy the place for it’s great beauty.  Unfortunately, the clock was starting to press us and it was time we burned up some asphalt if we were to make it to our next appointment in Wisconsin 2 days away.

As one drives east out of Glacier National Park, it is hard to miss noticing the collision of geographic features.  In the rear-view mirror I could see the rocky mountains of Glacier National Park jutting out of the ground like shark’s teeth into its prey.  Out the windshield, gently rolling prairie grass lands.  It really is quite spectacular.  It is as if someone drew a line and decided to start something completely different.  In my experience, this first feeling of elation at the change of scenery quickly gives way to despair because the prairie lands are beautiful but they seem to never end.  It unnerves me to look at the horizon and see nothing but the curvature of the earth.

Before we knew it, we were in Wyoming and decided to sleep for the night finally at 1am.  Since we didn’t need to charge any batteries we were seeking some boon-docking locations.  In a spirit of adventure and an exercise in the All-American experience, we camped at a Walmart that night.  I’ve never wanted to do that because I’ve seen those people camped outside Walmarts have always pitied them.  Now, I was one.  However, at the time, it was our only option.  I guess it is something everyone should experience.  I awoke a few hours later and it was back to the road and the great state of South Dakota.

The state of South Dakota is not the flattest state in the Union but it is flat enough that one could stand upon an overpass, look at the horizon, and see the back of his/her own head.
For Landon, who grew up on a ranch in Alberta, this was a small taste of home.  For me, it was a bit terrifying.  I like knowing what is ahead of me.  I like feeling like the earth has me somewhat cupped in her dirty hand.  Without anything on the horizon, it seemed possible to me that I could just fly off the surface of the earth.  After all, the earth rotates on its axis at just above 1,000 mph while screaming through empty space in its obit of the sun at about 67,000 mph.  For some reason, my mind decided to bring these random statistics to my consciousness at just the right moment.  I tightened my seat-belt for safety.

Landon and I spent some time making observations and expressing opinions about South Dakota.  Eventually our debate over the strengths and weaknesses of state drew to a close.  Landon’s view was that it was somewhat like home but not enough to satisfy.  Mine? – well you already know mine.  In fact, my fondest memory of South Dakota comes from an episode of the Three Stooges.  The setting was apparently in the Bad Lands, South Dakota (more likely someplace in California which is now a sub-development).  Since Landon is a bit too tall to drive the Jeep (6’9″) I had the honor of driving across the barren state.  We made it about 3/4 of the way before I began getting tired.  Finally, at around 10pm and after 13 hours of driving in hot weather, we called it a night & found a local campground where we could charge camera batteries.

We never expected to need to charge camera batteries that night because there was no scheduled filming for that part of the nation. A basic principal of manhood had taken over:  Two bored men in a Jeep full of camera equipment can usually think of something to film.  Landon decided to capture me pontificating about the differences, similarities, and my speculations concerning Native Americans and Teardrop campers.  He plans to use this footage for a short film.  I had never thought of comparing the two so it was a nice mental exercise for an otherwise unoccupied mind.  This footage will likely not make the final cut of the Adventure Film because I loathe seeing and hearing myself talk.

For my part, I dreamed up a short cooking show which was inspired by the interview.  We made chopped steamed veggies using only our creativity and a lot of time.  Those scenes will likely make the cut into the film because they are insane ideas that will keep the teenage viewer’s attention.

So it was that we arrived with dead batteries at a KOA (ugh).  They had nice showers and lots of bugs.  As I lay down in the jPod for another night on the road, I counted my blessings:

  1. Window screen to keep the bugs out
  2. Good food that was creatively made
  3. We would leave South Dakota in the morning!

Day 8

In the morning, we packed up our things and struck out to leave South Dakota behind us.  Landon, who as I mentioned is from Canada, thought that Minnesota was between Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota.  Thus, as we crossed the border into Minnesota there was a cheer or joy from the driver’s seat (me) and a gasp from the passenger’s seat (Landon).  We had exactly 8 hours to arrive for our interview & tour at Camp-Inn Trailers.  We were determined not to miss it.

Camp-Inn trailers is basically right in the center of Wisconsin and in the middle of some of the more rural areas of Wisconsin.  When we arrived, we pulled up the drive to find some of the guys playing with a new business that Camp-Inn is working on.  It is a motorcycle engine that can be attached to the chassis of any conventional wheelchair.  It looks like a scream and would make life much easier for a paraplegic person at an air-show, car-show, or any other event which covers great distances.  See more about this at & see a view of it in action here.

Craig & Cary are the co-founders of Camp-Inn Teardrop Trailers.  They were more than willing to give us a tour of their facility and to sit down with us for an interview for the Adventure Film.  Their customers are very committed to the company and often send pictures of their trips.  Craig & Cary have lots of great stories about the people who camp in their teardrop trailers and how their business began.  In the general teardrop RV community the Camp-Inn is often compared to the luxury cars of the world (Corvette, Rolls Royce, Ferarri,  you pick the metaphor).  Camp-Inn does live up to the hype with its uni-body construction, master craftsmanship, and brilliant use of space.  These little trailers have nearly everything that the big diesel haulers have but in a much smaller package.

The company was inspired when Craig wanted to take his family camping at the Grand Canyon.  While pouring through camping options, Craig came upon the teardrop design.  He shared the idea with Cary (at the time a fellow engineer at the same company) and the first Camp-Inn was born.  Craig and his family had a great vacation in the first little Camp-Inn and returned to Wisconsin with plans to build more.  Cary was willing to help and a collector’s trailer was born.  Seriously,  people keep track of production numbers on these trailers and are putting them in their wills and such.  This is not only a fun way to camp but it is a life-long commitment for some families.  As Cary & Craig told us, there have even been a few custody battles over the Camp-Inn trailer in divorces -This trailer is that good.  Camp-Inn was a blast to visit & I could write for pages about our time there but I must save some things for the film right??

After leaving Camp-Inn, Landon and I decided to seek out some friends.  On our way through Minnesota that morning, I had told him that I thought I had a few former students working at a summer camp in Wisconsin.  The idea to pop in on them and surprise them was born.  As it turned out, both Landon and I knew them and didn’t know it.  So the plan started to visit Camp Wakonda, Wisconsin -this is the camp they were rumored to be at.  I called the camp and spoke with the camp secretary.  She confirmed that they both were working at Camp Wakonda.  We swore her to secrecy and made our way to the camp for our surprise visit.  We surprised them at the dinner line in the cafeteria that night.  Both were completely floored to see us in Wisconsin.  It was a lot of fun to tour the camp, see where their summer memories are made, and talk about camera gear.  Camp Wakonda is a spectacular summer camp.  It is vast with a highly committed & creative staff.  It has two lakes, log cabins, hundreds of cabins, and a great main lodge.

That evening, I parked the jPod in a parking lot of the camp that night.  There was a spectacular thunderstorm that night & the humidity was almost as high as a full fish tank.  In short, a sticky & moist and very hot night.  This is the first time the jPod has been in such a moist environment (The eastern Northwest is pretty dry) and I was a bit concerned that something would go wrong.  My fears were realized in the morning when I found a small crack in the skin on the outside of the trailer.  My theory is that the inside wood got too moist and expanded.  I’m not sure how since I sealed it but something obviously was different and the only difference I can think of is the moisture.  Since I didn’t have hours to spend repairing the problem, I sealed it up with caulking and made plans for repair when I got back home.  Upon arriving at home, I fixed the crack with a reinforcing strap.  Easy fix and no problems since.

The next day we planned to go to Michigan to visit friends and finally take a day off from the crazy pace of our travels.

Click Here to Read Part 6

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