The Birthplace of Casitas

Tuesday, March 31

And we’re off! The sun is shining, the hills are alive with the sound of music spring greenery, and Bertha almost flies down the highway after the wheel alignment and shock replacement. Gee, it feels nice to be on the road again.

The Brazos River

The Brazos River

Limestone cliffs along the river

Limestone cliffs along the river

It’s hard to keep to 60 mph today, the speed I like to travel at when towing no matter how high the speed limit gets. The first reason why I do this is I’m driving on older tires right now, and the chance of a blowout increases at faster speeds. The second reason is it’s better for gas mileage.

People ask me all the time what mpg I get towing, and I can tell them that on highways I get 15-16 mpg whether I’m towing or not: when I’m not towing I’ll drive 70-75 mph and gas usage ends up being about the same.

Today there’s only about five and a half hours of driving to do, a pretty light day for me. We leave at 9:15 am and at 1 pm stop at Cameron Park in Waco, TX on the recommendation of a friend.

It’s a pretty park! It’s along the banks of the Brazos river and has 20 winding miles of hiking through woods and along a limestone bluff.

Flowers in the park

Flowers in the park

Julie and I start out on the easy rated riverside walk, but quickly lose ourselves among the twisting trails.

We end up at a little park where the Bosque river meets the Brazos and enjoy a sandwich under the picnic shelter. Birds sing in the trees, flowers sway in the breeze, it’s very picturesque.

It's like stepping into a painting

It’s like stepping into a painting

Then it’s back into the truck and off to tonight’s stop: a Walmart in Corsicana, only an hour and a half away. It’s only 15 minutes away from tomorrow’s destination: The Casita factory!

Wednesday, April 1

At 8 am sharp we pull into Cas’ birthplace. Never have I seen so many Casitas in one place! Their all more shiny than Cas, and little things here and there are different, but by and large it’s amazing how little these trailers have changed over time. I guess when you make something this sturdy, there’s little room for improvement. It’s okay Cas, your gel coat may not be shiny anymore, but you have more character than these newbies!

Cas?  Cas!?  If you can hear me, wave your awning...

Cas? Cas!? If you can hear me, wave your awning…

When I get to the service counter, the mechanic’s face falls as he explains the news. They’re behind schedule and short staffed and aren’t sure they can get the water heater replaced by the end of the day today. With Julie as moral support I’m kind but firm when I reply: “This is my home, and we’re traveling with a cat. We’re not going to get a hotel. I called you over a month ago to set this appointment up as early as possible this morning to avoid just this problem, as I explained to you then.” He goes and talks to his superior, then comes back. “We’ll have it done by the end of the day.”

With that settled, I get to poke my head inside the other Casita models, many for the first time.

All Casitas are made to order, so there are no “models” so to say. Every single trailer here belongs to someone and is waiting to get picked up or delivered. There are three in their showroom that are open for people to peek into, all 17 foot Deluxes like Cas: A Spirit (what Cas is), a Liberty (what RVSue has), and an Independence, the newest model that’s only been around for a couple years.

They all have homes, they're just still in the nest, waiting to take off on their first adventure!

They all are spoken for, they’re just still in the nest, waiting to take off on their first adventure!

I’m curious to see the Independence.

It looks a lot like a Liberty at first glance. The kitchen is split on the left and right sides of the trailer in the middle with all of the seating and bed space in the back.

The Liberty has a full-size bed in the back that can become a large dinette like my Spirit, but in front of that is a smaller dinette that can be put down to make a king size bed.

On the Independence, the bench dinette seats go from the kitchen all the way to the back of the trailer, and are wider with a much narrower isle – it’s two twin size beds that can be made into one king size bed!

The back of the Independence

The back of the Independence

If I’d been planning to travel with Julie permanently this might have been the best floorplan, but Julie is just a temporary roommate so I hold by my original decision: the Spirit was and continues to be the right choice for me.

I do like the way the new bathrooms look

I do like the way the new bathrooms look

Not available to walk-through are Casita’s Freedom and Patriot models. The very first Casita I got to see inside was a Freedom, all those years ago at Hunting Island. It’s a lot like the Spirit, but instead of the small dinette on the left side of the trailer, it has two captains chairs that swivel with the table between them. They’re more comfortable than the dinette seat cushions I imagine, but you lose the storage space under the seats and can’t convert it into a smaller bed, so Julie wouldn’t have had anywhere to sleep.

The Patriot is Casita’s 13′ model, it has the split kitchen in the middle, and the full-size bed in back without the extra seating. I got to peek inside one of those in Kanab last summer on my way out to Zion National Park, and it was adorable. As I mentioned briefly last summer, I’m contemplating downsizing in the future, and would really like the chance to look closer inside a Patriot, but there’s still a lot of time. If I trade in for a smaller RV it’s still quite a ways off.

While sitting in the waiting area, a couple comes into the showroom and starts asking each other questions about Casitas before the salesperson can get to them. I feel like walking over and answering their questions because I know the answers to a lot of them, but I imagine the staff would probably frown on that. Plus I wouldn’t want to give them misinformation, some things are different from my ’99 model.

At 3:30 pm Cas emerges from the maintenance dock with a shiny new water heater! It’s the same general model as the one I had (made by Suburban), but it’s the electric + propane version which I wanted (the old one was propane only, and you had to light the pilot light by hand from the outside which was hard in rainy or windy weather).

On the showroom floor

On the showroom floor

The maintenance guy walks me through exactly how it works and I test it right there in the parking lot. Hello hot water! For the curious, the damage came to $908 total for the water heater, new electric switch and other parts, and 4 hours of labor. Yes, I know I probably could have gotten it cheaper elsewhere but I don’t care: by getting it done here I know it was done right by people who are intimately familiar with how Casitas are set up and I got to see the place they were made. It’s a win in my book!

After another few hours of driving, Julie and I stop at a tiny Walmart in Atoka, OK. I didn’t know Walmarts still existed in this size. It’s next door to a Love’s travel center so there’s some semi traffic all night, but I still sleep well.

Driving through Dallas after the factory

Driving through Dallas after the factory

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Becky

At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

39 Comments

  1. LenSatic on May 13, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    “I feel like walking over and answering their questions because I know the answers to a lot of them, but I imagine the staff would probably frown on that.”

    They don’t mind at all. While we were waiting to have a stabilizer replaced, I sold one and made $200! The guy was there the whole time we were talking to one of the sales reps. He kept going into the “models” and back to the sales guy. I was in one looking at the upgrades from our 2008 when he came in again. He had seen us drive in with the pod and knew that we oned one.

    I ran him through all the stuff in it and answered his questions. I gave him some tips and explained about Boondocking (how our stabilizer got damaged). He got really excited and went back out to talk to the sales rep. While we were hooking up our pod, he came out excitedly and said that he had finally ordered one. He got my information and they sent me a check when he picked it up. (BTW, I had told the sales rep that I was sure that I made a sale. πŸ˜‰ )

    And…we did get a tour. We just asked Jeanie, our saleswoman when we bought it. It’s pretty damn impressive. I imagine that Casita is, by far, the single largest employer in the area.

    Did they send you to Bubba’s in Ennis for BBQ?

    Happy trails!

    Pat



    • Becky on May 13, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Now I know Pat, I’ll have a chance again this fall when I go back so service can fix something they messed up installing the water heater. πŸ˜‰

      Like I said before, I think the lack of tour might have been because they were swamped that day and I hadn’t made arrangements before hand.

      Nope, never heard of it. Again, I’ll have a second chance. πŸ™‚



  2. Terri on April 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I absolutely love love love the really small ones for how adorable they are! The Patriot, and the smallest Scamp. God, that is minimalism at its best!

    Good for you standing up for yourself with that guy and getting your boy Cas taken care of as planned.
    Terri recently posted..Setting Priorities and GoalsMy Profile



    • Becky on April 7, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      Yes Terri the tiny ones are so adorable! Some day I’ll get to take a closer look again, according to the factory Patriot orders are very few and far between – none of the ones waiting to get picked up were Patriots thus there wasn’t one to look into.



  3. Jerry Minchey on April 5, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Becky,

    Maybe you will get to Wisconsin in time to cheerfor the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA national championship basketball game Monday night.

    Since I’m in North Carolina, I’m going to have to cheer for Duke. It looks like one of us will be happy when the game is over. It should be a great game.



    • Becky on April 6, 2015 at 8:14 am

      I’m really not a sports person Jerry, but I guess I’m nominally for the Badgers. πŸ˜‰



  4. Jim in Huntsville AL on April 5, 2015 at 12:25 am

    Be sure to turn off that pilot light when you gas up the truck. I really enjoy your blog sometimes I feel like I’m along for the ride. Have fun and stay safe.



    • Becky on April 5, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      I’m being very careful to make sure the switch is off when it’s not in use Jim, thanks for the concern. And thank you for reading!



  5. Cletus fom Nevis on April 4, 2015 at 11:43 am

    We so enjoy your blog. Have always admired Casitas. Because we have a home there, and spend our summers in northern Minnesota near Backus, the birthplace of Scamps, we like Scamps too. Wonder which came first?

    We have a behemoth of a 5th wheel which we live in during the winters in Rockport TX and store there in the summer. To and from Texas and during the summers we camp in a truck camper and sometimes pull a small sailboat along so our dually truck serves a “dually” purpose.

    You may have already come across this Casita song, but in case you haven’t, here’s a link:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nATzEGQ8Ns it’s called “Casita Me Gusta”.



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      Yes I have seen that video before Cletus, it’s hilarious!

      I know Casitas have been around at least since the 80’s but I don’t know the exact date, and I know less about Scamps. In my mind though all fiberglass egg trailers are pretty great.

      Sounds like you have a pretty good system, snowbirding down in TX in the winters. Take care!



  6. dawn from camano island on April 4, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Strong work, Becky! You were right on target to be clear with them that your work should be given priority! We have the electric/propane type of water heater–super convenient. You’ll love it. Actually, I found it very restful to have semis running near us when we Wally parked. Slept like a baby!



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      I actually liked having the semis running nearby too Dawn. Sometimes I find it distracting, but that night there were severe thunderstorms and heavy downpours and the constant background noise of engines running made the storm noises less jarring.



  7. Dave on April 4, 2015 at 9:38 am

    I always enjoy reading your posts, and I’m sure it’s because I wish I was traveling too. Now I’m going to have to look more closely at the Casitas. We have a small 5th wheel, so we could get by with a half ton truck. But with a small enough trailer, we could have the bed of the truck back. Have you run this quandary through your experience before?



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      Dave – I do love having the back of my truck for storage, it’s essentially a storage unit for big things or items I’d rather not have in Cas proper. That being said, the RV size issue is such a personal thing. I couldn’t imagine living in something larger, but some people really wouldn’t be happy in something as small as Cas. Only you can answer the question for yourselves. πŸ™‚ Best of luck whatever you choose!



  8. Rosemary Rizzo on April 4, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Wonderful post as usual. I wonder how many more Casitas would be sold if they actually had a complete showroom with every model for potential buyers to look at.
    They werent the trailer for us but know many happy Casita owners.Belonging to FGRV site and being to many of their rallies, didnt meet many full timers in Casitas especially couples.
    I think they lend themselves to the single person full timer like yourself.
    Continue to have a safe journey home.
    Looking forward to pictutes in Wisc.



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this post Rosemary.

      Having lived with Julie and her cat in Cas for 6 months now I can say that I wouldn’t want to live in something this small permanently with another person, no matter how well we get along. When it’s just me though it’s more than enough space. πŸ™‚

      Safe travels and happy trails to you as well, I’m hoping by the time we get to Wisconsin the lows will be safely out of the freezing range, but that may be too much to hope.



  9. Jim at Growing Faith on April 4, 2015 at 9:15 am

    I like the photo of the park where you had your picnic lunch. I also like the photos of the Casitas. I have never seen the inside of one, but from the outside they look pretty cool. Thanks for posting this!
    Jim at Growing Faith recently posted..Pure FaithMy Profile



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      From my experience Jim most Casita owners are very proud of their little houses and are more than willing to give impromptu tours if you ever come across one while camping.

      Glad you enjoyed the photos and welcome to IO!



  10. Don Matthews on April 4, 2015 at 9:14 am

    You were traveling through our neck of the woods. We live at Alvarado, Tx about 45 minutes from Dallas. We are south of Ft. Worth. I too have been by the Casita place on many occasions. Glad you have your hot water fixed. We are heading to Big Bend National Park on Monday for a week. Have a safe trip north.



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      From what I saw of it Don it’s a nice area to live in. I hope you have a great time at Big Bend! Safe travels and happy trails.



  11. claire on April 4, 2015 at 9:06 am

    hi, becky, wish i’d known you were headed our way. my girlfriend from erie, colorado is here at ray roberts state park near sanger, tx after getting mods done to her 2003 patriot standard and i’ve got my 2013 patriot deluxe in lake dallas, tx. we would have been more than glad to give you a tour of the patriot standard and patriot deluxe models.
    we’re headed to the southern utah tour in may then the pacific northwest for the summer, in case our paths cross.
    we both simply love our patriots. they are perfect for a solo. my friend travels with 4 dogs and i have 1 little dog, a 14 lb schnoodle.
    the patriot is so easy to tow, set up and live in. i’ve removed the bathroom door and replaced the table/2 metal legs with a plywood piece for bed mode and a walmart personal folding table for when it’s in booth mode. i can easily seat 4 normal sized adults now inside! i made these changes in preparation for this extensive summer travel, wanted somewhere where 4 of us could get out of bad weather as well as easier to dry inside the bathroom in the wetness of seattle with the door off.
    except for the larger fridge/freezer and permanent side dinette, i don’t miss out on anything with the smaller patriot. if you decide to downsize to it, i don’t think you will regret it. happy travels to you, claire and merlin, excellent schnoodle



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Darn Claire, that was close!

      Oh well, I’m sure I’ll get a chance to see one sometime. Thanks for sharing your experiences and modifications to your Patriot, I didn’t realize the fridge/freeezer was smaller in them too, but as I don’t fill up my fridge/freezer now I don’t think it’d be an issue. πŸ™‚

      Happy travels to you and Merlin! Julie and I are headed north to Wisconsin now and then I’m traveling solo again out to Yellowstone for the summer. It’s unlikely our paths will cross this time but hopefully some other time.



  12. Jodee Gravel on April 4, 2015 at 8:43 am

    There were “models” at the RV show in SoCal last year so I imagine folks could find some at the larger shows to tour. It looks like there are going to be a lot of them on the road this year! We dealt with our dealer the same way – polite but firm – and they got moving. Good for you. Safe travels.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..The Reunion Ends, But We Don’t LeaveMy Profile



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      It sure does Jodee if what I saw in their yard was any indication! I overheard a salesperson speaking to a couple placing an order, it sounds like build time is around 2.5 months right now, I don’t know if that’s normal or not but it seems pretty quick really for something built from the ground up.

      I hope you got all of your issues with the motorhome taken care of now. Sounds like you had a good time at that reunion. πŸ™‚



  13. Larry Jenkins on April 4, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Becky,
    Welcome to Dallas. I live in McKinney, a northern suburb. My daughter lives in Houston so I have passed the Casita plant many times. Our house goes up for sale May 1 and as soon as it sells, we are on the road full time.



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:08 pm

      Congrats Larry! I hope your house sells quickly and that your transition to full-timing is painless. You must be very excited. πŸ™‚

      I’m not much for big cities so we didn’t do more than drive through Dallas, but I thought that skyline was pretty neat. πŸ™‚



  14. Jim@HiTek on April 4, 2015 at 7:19 am

    You had a custom install on the water heater. It’s doubtful you’d have found it less expensive elsewhere. And the best part is as you said, they know what they are doing there so it’s not a ‘kludge’ job.

    And it’s so much more convenient to have all the features; the ESI with remote start along with the electric element, that you’ll probably find it to be well worth it.

    Enjoy!
    Jim@HiTek recently posted..3rd Day in Prague…My Profile



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      I gotta say Jim, I found a great deal of satisfaction in just flipping a switch and watching the light turn from red to off once the pilot had been lit automatically. πŸ™‚



  15. Kim on April 3, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Becky – thanks for the tour. We used to have a Spirit Deluxe and I’ve always wanted to visit the factory. Gotta love those little eggs!
    Kim recently posted..Viejas Casino, CAMy Profile



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      You’re welcome Kim, I loved that I had the chance to come, even if it’s years after I did the buying. πŸ˜‰

      Sounds like you’re having a lot of fun out west with the GDB!



  16. Ed @ Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets. on April 3, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I guess our 32′ Bounder would stand out among those Casitas.

    You handled the service guy perfectly. Better than I would have.



    • Becky on April 4, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      Yes Ed, it would have stood out. πŸ˜€

      That was a best case scenario with the service guy. Often they won’t budge but sometimes you get lucky. It never hurts to ask.



  17. Elizabeth on April 3, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Oh, I really want a Casita. Do they really not have models you can look through? Or did I misunderstand?



    • Becky on April 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Elizabeth, there are models you can walk through (3 when I went yesterday) but they aren’t truly models – they all belong to someone and are finished but haven’t been picked up yet. So there are always going to be different floor plans to tour depending on when you go because the “models” are only on display short term until their owner claims them. I hope that description makes more sense.



    • Reine in Plano on April 4, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Elizabeth, If you contact the factory they will give you the names and phone numbers of folks in your area that have Casitas they are willing to show potential owners. An alternate idea is to find a rally close enough for a visit. Casita folks are pretty willing to show off their trailers. Check out http://www.casitaforum.com or other forums for rallies in your area.



  18. Ron on April 3, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I am very impressed with how you handled the potential delay with the service department.
    You done good!!!!!! Polite but firm. Ron



    • Becky on April 3, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Sometimes it works, sometimes it makes no difference, but I feel like that’s the right way to respond either way.



  19. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor on April 3, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Thanks for the tour of the Casitas! We have a 13′ Scamp, so its always interesting to see our Scamper’s “cousins”.
    Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor recently posted..C Is For Christmas In Boquillas, MexicoMy Profile



    • Becky on April 3, 2015 at 9:14 am

      Glad you enjoyed it Ellen!



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