The Taxa Mantis is a utilitarian travel trailer designed by former NASA architect, Garrett Finney. As founder and designer, Finney’s vision is in every aspect of this unit.
He approaches trailer life from an outdoor-adventurer point of view, not from a POV of an RVer. This approach leads to the trailer being very adaptable to each user’s specific needs.
Before we dive deep into the Taxa Mantis, you can watch our tour & interview with the founder below:
Functionality is key with this design. Instead of hiding joinery (mostly rivets), Taxa keeps the frame and hardware visible and easy to edit. Using quality materials, this creates a minimalistic aesthetic with a focus on materials.
The powder coated steel frame also has many strategically placed holes. This allows you to connect carabiners for hanging & strapping items as you wish.
The storage areas are the size of standard milk crates. With this design you can easily store and access your goods without using customized containers.
12V DC is the main power source throughout the trailer. It has two house batteries and is ready to be connected to solar power. The Mantis can plug into shore power (they have an Air Conditioner option), but there’s only one location to plug into AC power.
Even though the Mantis only measures 17 feet, it can sleep up to four people. The front seating area transforms into a bunk bed. The rear U-shaped dinette joins to create a bed that sleeps two.
If you’re brave enough to sleep on the small top bunk, you can sleep easy knowing there’s a net to catch you.
Here’s a list of some of the key specs of the Taxa Mantis:
If your RV is over-sized, don’t give up on finding national parks with big rig camping. Plan carefully and there’s no need to deny yourself the experience of living among regional wild animals and timeless scenery in a national treasure. Here’s how.
How to Score Great Spots in National Parks with Big Rig Camping
Many U.S. national park campgrounds were designed decades ago, but they’re not always off limits if you have a larger RV. Do a little digging and you’ll find plenty of ways to RV camp inside park boundaries.
Unfortunately national park camping is so popular now that reservations are mandatory during the high season. The days of spontaneous road trips and first-come, first-served camping in national and state parks is slowly fading away. The trick for a big rig RV owner to score camping inside the park is to get your reservation in early.
It pays to plan for at least a six month window from booking your spot until arrival. And if your RV is longer than 40-feet, be patient in your reservations search. You’ll need flexible dates and plenty of good luck on your side since extra long RV spots are limited in most national parks.
Now that your reality check is out of the way, consider pointing your rig to the west. There you’ll find the easy life inside these three great U.S. national parks with big rig camping.
Big Bend National Park’s Rio Grande RV Village
True to the motto that “everything is bigger in Texas,” so are the Big Bend big rig RV accommodations. The 25 extra-long back-in full-hookup campsites at the concessionaire-run Rio Grande RV Village aren’t much to look at with their parking-lot ambiance, but you’ll be close to must-see Big Bend attractions, trails and gorgeous scenery.
Big rig RVs of nearly any size easily fit into these bare-bones campsites adjacent to the Rio Grande Visitor’s Center. The Fall and Spring seasons are perfect times to secure a spot.
Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells
Another park that’s great to visit in fall or spring, Death Valley National Park’s 5,262 square mile vistas and stark, beautiful landscapes offer an otherworldly experience. Nearly as vast as the west itself, this below sea-level destination has tons of spots for large RVs.
You can find a big rig boondocking campsite almost any time of year at Fiddler’s Campground or Sunset Campground in Furnace Creek. But for more comfort, secure one of the 19 full-hookup sites at Furnace Creek RV Park. It’s located on the south end of the park and features a restaurant, swimming pool, fuel and laundromat.
When you’re done exploring southern Death Valley delights like Badwater and Artist’s Drive, pull up stakes and move to Stovepipe Wells in the north. You’ll find it slightly less charming but offering just as many creature comforts. As a bonus, these RV spots are near other attractions like Scotty’s Castle, and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
Badlands National Park, Cedar Pass Campground
The massive 244,000-acre Badlands National Park is as endless as the open prairie. It’s also one of America’s most big-rig friendly national parks. Whether this is your ultimate destination or a stopping point on the way to Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower, the Badlands feels like driving backward in time.
Your big rig home base will be Cedar Pass Campground, an easily accessible location perched in the midst of geologic wonders and ancient fossil deposits. The 96 reservable campsites are on the rustic side. You’ll only get an electric hookup for comfort, but drinking water, restrooms and a dump station are available. Campsites are near a lodge, restaurant and amphitheater with ranger-led campfire chats.
This is just glimpse of a few great national parks with big rig camping. For more tips, bounce ideas around with other oversized RV owners in the iRV2 Discussion Forums topic “Camping, Travel and Trip Planning.”
Celebrate a little Erin go Bragh (Ireland till the end of time) this weekend in Dublin—Dublin, Ohio, that is. Full of Irish pubs and Irish traditions, Dublin’s tagline says it all: Irish is an attitude!
A great place to hang your hat while exploring Dublin is Cross Creek Camping Resort, located a few miles north of the city center. The pet-friendly resort features 200 sites and plenty of amenities like pull-throughs, full hookups, and Wi-Fi access.
Other services include 30/50 amp electrical, water, sewer, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, a camp store, playground, swimming pool, a rec room, and nearby recreational trails.
The Golf Club of Dublin will make you think you’re teeing it up on the Emerald Isle. One of the Midwest’s true links golf experiences, the Golf Club of Dublin includes a Tudor-style clubhouse that sets the tone for this Irish-themed gem.
The 18-hole, par 72 course measures 7,021 yards from the tips. Each hole on the scorecard keeps with the Irish theme and includes names like Leprechaun, Blarney, and Pot of Gold. After a round, grab a pint of your favorite refreshment in Mulligan’s Pub, which is open year-round.
Though you don’t need a passport to visit Dublin, Ohio, the Irish experience is still plentiful. Since 1988, the year after Dublin became a city, the Dublin Irish Festival was christened.
It has since grown into what is now the largest three-day Irish festival on the planet. More than 100,000 guests are expected to attend this year’s event during the first weekend of August.
Two things are certain when you come to Dublin, Ohio: You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy the city, and you don’t have to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to visit! For more information about Dublin, Ohio, check out www.visitdublinohio.com.
If you’ve been waiting for a Newmar Super C tour, you’ve come to the right place! We attended RVX in Salt Lake City where the Newmar Super Star was officially released for the first time.
Newmar is known for their luxury Class A diesel pushers. But, this year they are testing out a new class of RVs – the super c.
Super C RVs share many of the same characteristics as regular Class C RVs. However, they’re built on a larger chassis, have a higher center of gravity and are usually powered by diesel.
Newmar has been developing this unit over the last two years. Many RVers are excited about this, and other super Cs, because they offer the luxury and power of a Class A diesel pusher and solving maintenance issues can be a lot easier because the engine is more common & more assessable.
Unlike Class A’s, Super C’s have been known to ride a little rougher. Newmar is solving this problem by manufacturing a full air-ride cab. This will make travel days much smoother.
The Newmar engineers created a “collar” that transitions the air-ride cab to the fixed house of the motor home. This allows movement, which creates a more comfortable ride.
Another cool feature is the huge sky window above the front seats. Instead of an overhead bunk, Newmar’s Super C has a ton of open head room and a beautiful skylight. This will give you the feeling similar to a large Class A windshield.
This is a spendy RV! The base price will be somewhere around $350,000. With added features you may be paying more than $400,000 when it’s all said and done.
That is an expensive rig, but Newmar is tapping into their existing clientele for this unit. They are known for luxury RV living…and that isn’t changing anytime soon!
Visiting the California coast is always pleasing to the eye and good for the soul. Morro Bay on Highway 1 offers both of those elements.
Set roughly 200 miles north of Los Angeles and over 200 miles south of San Francisco, Morro Bay is a quintessential town along this fabled highway. Just look for the 581-foot tall monolith for which the town is named.
Morro Bay State Park is one of the gems along the coastline. Its popularity is such that you should make reservations long in advance, especially during the summer months. This is not only an aesthetically appealing place to camp, but Morro Bay State Park is close to lots of attractions.
The pet-friendly state park features 140 sites, 30-amp electrical, water, pull-through sites, a dump station, restrooms, showers, and hiking trails.
The Museum of Natural History is also located within Morro Bay State Park. The museum overlooks Morro Bay and offers nature walks, exhibits, lectures, puppet shows, videos, and docent-led tours, among other activities.
Nearby is Morro Bay Golf Course. Built in 1923 on a hillside overlooking Morro Bay, this golf course was originally called Cabrillo Country Club with just nine holes. The course has since expanded to 18 holes, with the original nine holes from nearly a century ago now serving as the back nine. Currently, the course is one of the most popular in Central California, along with being designated an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
In addition, the National Audubon Society has designated Morro Bay as a globally important bird area since this is a major migratory stop for thousands of birds during winter and spring.
Subsequently, Morro Rock is a protected nesting ground for peregrine falcons. While there is no public access to Morro Rock, the falcons and a large variety of other birds can be viewed from the water and nearby locations.
The town of Morro Bay features an inviting Embarcadero with a variety of shops and restaurants. The Thursday Farmer’s Market is popular, as are many of the specialty shops like California Images or Embarcadero Fudge & Ice Cream. For more information on the area, visit www.morrobay.org and Campground Reviews.
The Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough lies northwest of Anchorage, Alaska, and includes the towns of Houston, Wasilla, and Palmer. Locally known as Mat-Su, the borough is roughly the size of West Virginia (over 24,500 square miles) with about 100,000 residents living in it.
When emergencies and events that draw large crowds occur, the Borough Emergency Management team rolls out this Mobile Communications Center on wheels.
Field Comm 1 (FC1) is a mobile command center that can serve as the central location for emergency personnel to organize, communicate, and plan during an incident. One person can mobilize and set-up the rig on short notice to any incident where it is needed.
FC1 is a solid 4×4 truck, built on a 2006 Freightliner chassis with a rugged Mercedes diesel engine. Measuring 42 feet long and 13.5 feet tall, this rig contains a large slide-out section on the driver’s side, a 12-kilowatt generator, exterior power and video ports, exterior floodlights, a rooftop telescoping camera, a public address system, top-mounted observation deck, and a full weather station.
The interior is outfitted with a front computer room with four full workstations, a rear meeting room area with a touchscreen TV and large map table, phones, portable radios, a small incinerator toilet, coffee station, dispatch capabilities, ability to tether into a phone or satellite system, and can tow a matching trailer that treats bulk water for potable use.
Eight to ten people can work effectively inside the rig during an incident. This allows for the unique ability for multiple agencies to have a single central on-scene location out of the weather to coordinate logistics and resources.
FC1 is dispatched roughly 3-5 days per month for use at incidents, drills and training, and special events. Over the past decade, FC1 has been dispatched for use for incidents including flooding events, wildfires, house fires, search and rescue operations, Iditarod Sled Dog Race starts, the annual State Fair, Alaska Shield exercises, hazmat drills and mass casualty drills relating to the passenger and freight railroad that passes through the borough.
This particular rig isn’t necessarily something that RVers want in their garages, but rather it is an excellent example of a purpose-built rig that sees some heavy duty life-saving action.
Custom builds like these often draw inspiration from and use commonly found RV features (like slide-outs) that manufacturers incorporate into products for the general public.
You won’t find any wild tigers at these campgrounds, but you may find a few bears when you go camping at Lions Club campgrounds. These volunteer-operated getaways help support the international service club’s goals to create healthier, happier communities on every continent. Here’s why you should look for one of these campgrounds whenever you go RVing.
The Story Behind the Lions Club Campgrounds
Maybe you noticed their little white eyeglass donation boxes propped in the corner of nearly every post-office in the United States and Canada. Perhaps you placed your old frames inside so that the Lions Club International chapter in your neighborhood could send them out for refurbishing. If you did that, your old eye glasses got spruced up and shipped out. The recipient was a low income person who received the gift of sight, possibly for the first time ever. This eye glass recycling tradition dates back to 1925, when Hellen Keller inspired club members to advocate for vision-impaired people around the world.
But if you’re not familiar with the other projects the Lions Club takes on, you should be. Vision advocacy is just one small segment of their mission. Each day around the world, over 1.4 million club members volunteer their talents and time for community improvement campaigns. These projects include ending hunger, creating diabetes awareness programs, protecting and restoring the environment and helping children with cancer live happier lives. Despite declining numbers of service club participants around the world, the Lions continue doing important volunteer projects that improve our communities.
Visiting Lions Club Campgrounds is Money Well Spent
Tucked neatly within the LCI’s important causes are the club’s dozens of campgrounds located in North America. Many are run entirely by volunteer labor and club members. Most are in Canada. The United States has a smaller selection. The club’s campgrounds range from boondocking retreats with no hookups, to full-service, five-star RV resorts with all the amenities of a privately-owned business. You’ll often enjoy below-average campground rates and gorgeous scenery in off-the-beaten-path destinations.
An internet search reveals no one-stop-shop directory of Lions Club International campgrounds in North America. However, don’t let that stop you from trying to find one in your travels — especially if you’re visiting Canada in summer. Below you’ll find the longest list of Lions Club International Campgrounds on the Internet.
Directory of Lions Club Campgrounds in North America
In small-town Central Texas, Buena Vista Wildlife Safari opened in 2018 as a natural, uncaged sanctuary for wild animals to roam. Next door, they also have a fenced RV park and cozy furnished cabins with beautiful countryside views.
Their RV park has 35 big-rig friendly sites including pull-thrus and back-ins. Every site has full hookups, concrete pads, and access to their picnic tables, charcoal grills, and fire pits.
They also have a clubhouse with a full kitchen and pool table, and centrally located shower and laundry facilities. Covered pens are available for equestrian RVers with horses.
Each cabin sleeps about five people with a queen bed, two twin mattresses in the upstairs loft, and a pull-out sleeper with linens. The kitchens are fully stocked with dishes and cookware and the bathrooms with towels and soap.
They’re furnished with both air conditioning and a heater to keep guests comfortable all four seasons. Their Orange Eland cabin is ADA-accessible and also pet-friendly.
You can take a slow, easygoing drive through their safari to see the meandering wildlife. Look out for their freely roaming bison, deer, zebras, llamas, sheep, and wild turkeys. Armadillos, jackrabbits, emus, and even coyotes can occasionally be seen.
At the speed limit of 5 MPH, their loop takes about an hour to complete or longer, depending on how often you want to stop for photos. You cannot feed the animals your own food, but they do have a special feed in their Gift Shop that you can give them out your window.
For your safety, stay inside your vehicle during the entire drive through their safari. If you would like to visit some of their exotic animals up-close, swing by their new petting zoo.
Every drive through their sanctuary is unique, as you may not see the same animals every time. After the safari, have lunch outside in their picnic area and browse the gift shop for a new keepsake.
Also, if you’re bringing the kids, check out their Junior Explorer activities, which you can print off or ask for at check-in. Finish any three of the activities in a row and bring them in to their gift shop for a prize.
Admission to their safari is $12 for adults ($15 on weekends) and $10 for kids 11 and under ($12 on weekends). If you bring in a receipt from any local business in town, they will give you a 10% discount.
Rates for their RV sites are $40/night for pull-thrus and $35/night for back-ins. The cabins are $85/night on weekends (Fri-Sun and holidays) and $70/night from Mondays through Thursdays. Guests in their RV park and cabins can get a buy one day/get the second-day free ticket to the safari.
Buena Vista Wildlife Safari is located in Evant, Texas, just over an hour west of Waco. You can learn more about their animals, RV park, and cabins on their website. Let us know about your experience on Campground Reviews.
Number one on the list was Fuel Stations where I stated, “… they will typically have a fresh water spigot available. But, if one is not readily available, just ask. As a result, we find that most attendants will make an effort to meet your request.” Number three on the list was dump stations.
So during a recent trip through Red Lodge, Montana when I needed water and motor fuel, I headed for the Town Pump as my pre-trip research indicated they had a free dump station.
I figured my odds were good at finding water as it was a fuel station AND a dump station which was 2 out of the 8 places where one is likely to find fresh water. While fueling, I walked over to the dump station to discover it only contained a red water spigot clearly marked for tank rinsing only.
I walked farther down the curb hoping the potable water spigot might be located away from the sewage port to reduce the chance of contamination, but no luck. I then proceeded to look along the building in hopes of finding a faucet and met with success finding an open hatch revealing a faucet, only to find it took a water key to turn it on.
The next step was for my wife to go in the store and ask if potable water was available while I finished fueling. She returned in short order with a key on a large “key tag” just like you receive when asking for a restroom key that establishments don’t want you taking home in your pocket.
Obviously, we weren’t the first RVer to request potable water—they were prepared! Kudos to the folks at the Town Pump in Red Lodge!
Oh, by the way—the fuel prices were the best in town too.
If you find yourself in Red Lodge, Montana needing fuel, water and/or a dump station, you will find the Town Pump at the north end of town. You will find the dump station at N45° 11.654 W109° 14.738
Asking and receiving, just another adventure in RVing! What have your experiences been finding potable water while on the road? Please share using the comment box below.
In this article we’ll discuss who’s organizing the event, the purpose of the event, and why the RVX going to be so exciting.
The RVX is a creation of the RV Industry Association (a trade association that represents RV manufacturers and their component parts suppliers).
The RVIA serves many purposes. You may be most familiar with RVIA through their media arm “Go RVing”. But, the truth is, they are an expansive trade association that lobbies for the RV industry on a federal level, collects and shares industry data, and promotes RV life through national media.
On paper, the RVX is an industry-only event that connects RV dealers with RV manufactures for the upcoming camping season. But, there’s so much more to the story!
This year’s event is all about technology and innovation.
Almost every major manufacturer will be showcasing their newest units with cutting edge design & innovation. Newmar will be debuting their first Super C! KOA will be showcasing “Campgrounds of the Future.” And, brands like Dometic and Battle Born will be releasing their most advanced technology.
The event will also include a number of awards. They’ll feature both manufacturer and supplier awards. Most excitingly, the RVIA will name the “40 Under 40” awards!
If all that wasn’t enough, the show opens up with The Reveal. Here’s how the RVX describes it: The Reveal…will unveil the best of the best RVs chosen by a consumer-focused panel, and streamed online to thousands of consumers through Go RVing.
We caught up with the President of RVIA, Frank Hugelmeyer and this is his message to the Vibe Tribe:
“RVs are the ultimate adventure vehicle for the greatest mobile generation. Whether you’re a surfer, camper, festival goer, tailgater, roadtripper, digital nomad or all of the above, there is an RV out there that’ll fit your budget and lifestyle.”
Here’s the downside: the RVX isn’t open to the public. We’re fortunate to be attending as members of the press. But, don’t get bummed, we’ll be creating a video series that features all the must-see RVs and conduct interviews with top execs of the industry.
Well, we love technology and we love RV life! We’re excited to see how the industry leaders are incorporating new tech into their designs, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to talk to them directly about their vision.
High end RVs that have yet to be released to the public will be there….I mean that’s pretty exciting.
This is the place to witness how technology is, and will be, infused into the RV Lifestyle.
At this years event we’ll see a clear distinction between the brands that embrace technological change and those that don’t. But, above all, it should inspire all participants to visualize a modern RV experience for today’s digital traveler.