Meet Karen Campbell – TCT Southwest Regional Representative


What is your name, location and TCT position?

I am Karen Campbell your Tin Can Tourist SW Regional Representative.   My husband Kenny and I live in Albuquerque, NM and have a lake house at Elephant Butte, NM, we share with our retired German Shepard service dog-Duke.

What trailer and tow vehicles do you own?

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Currently, we are restoring a 1976 23’ GMC shorty motorhome, we bought in Phoenix,AZ Spring of 2014. We have a restored 1958 Jewel 16’ with ½ bath trailer, we use as a guest house.  For girl get togethers, I use my 1986 Sunlite Saturn. 13’ with full bath, awning, A/C and sleeps two.   To tow the Sunlite, I have a 1995 Ford Sport Trac. When we tow the Jewel, it looks great behind our 1967 F250 truck. For long distant travel (to the East coast)  we also have a 2011 Pleasure Way 20’ class B van motorhome.

Where did you find your trailer/tow vehicle?

We find our trailers/tow vehicles everywhere.  Years ago, before, the internet was so popular we knocked on doors, and bought several from just asking.  Now, we also knock doors if we see something special, but look on line, and from talking to people at shows and events.  Sometimes they find us too.

When and who did the restoration?

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We first got interested in the trailer hobby about 12 years ago, and have restored or made usable again, 39 trailers since that time.  With exception of my 1957 Mobile Scout (just sold) a frame up restoration was done by our friend at Retro Restorations previously in Albuquerque, we have done all the work ourselves. My talented husband, does plumbing, wiring, electrical, and wheel stuff, I do, painting, caulking, upholstery, and everything else.  After this GMC motorhome, we are done; this will be our last vintage unit. I say never say never so…..

What is unique or interesting about your trailer?

Our GMC motorhome, is called the “hotrod” of motorhome.  Being 23’ long, powered by 455 Olds engine, it floats down the road-rather quickly too.  There were only 1100 of these built, most were designed for, airport shuttle use.  Many of the 26’ units are still on the road, few of the shorty’s are around today.   This one will have all the modern stuff, (TV, micro, air bags, A/C, generator) and the charm of yesterday.

Round wood corners, a mint green working refrigerator and stove, gleaming wood walls, ½ bath, and permanent full bed, make our Jewel trailer the perfect little extra guest trailer.

What do you like about vintage trailers?

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For me, I like the small easy to tow size of the canned hams.  Also the sense that for some reason, this trailer has survived. Most have been exposed to  years of being outside  and perhaps I can help it, with some work, and preserve if for generations to come. Guess it is its history – which it has been used and loved by others, wishing the walls could talk.  Anyone can buy new, but history has no price. Kenny is a totally 1950’s retro type of guy, and he liked pulling one behind his 1957 Ford, to get out of the sun at car shows.

Have you been to many rallies and what do you like about them?

I went to my first rally in 2004.   A couple of us had trailers then, and heard that there was going to be Shasta Rally in Taos, NM, about 150 miles north, and we said lets go. Not knowing what to expect, take or plan for.  We tow up our trailers, to a rather true vintage trailer park and was met by a frazzled lady almost in tears.  She said she had no idea what she had gotten herself into, but could not cope and to please take over this rally. Well, this was our first rally, so we had no idea why she asked us, or what to do, but we said ok.  If I remember right we just hung out, looked at trailers and had a good time meeting everyone.  Since that time, we co-started the Southwest Vintage Camper Association, and put on at least two events per year since then.  I guess my favorites are the themed events like the trailer trash queen, western and red neck. (A chance to get into costume and character) It is nice to have something else to do at the rally location like:  shops-restaurants, town to explore, a dance, a parade or a water to play in. Also I think no rally is complete without a few functions to meet each other and an open house.  I love seeing other trailers.  I love swap meets too.

What clubs do you belong to?

Of course we belong to TCT, also CCNM – Classic Campers of NM.  Three car clubs: the Route 66 Rodders, Divco Club of America, and the Driving Divas.  Many on line groups/clubs and a few civic organizations.

Can you share an interesting bit of information that most people don’t know about yourself?

Twelve years ago I retired from the real estate world, where I flipped homes and brokered a property management firm. During my working life, I never had a chance to be involved in a motel or campground. So, one day, I told my husband that I always wanted an old motel/campground, what did he do, he bought me one.  The Flamingo!  Now it is O gauge, (large scale model train)  but it gives me a great place to display my collection of trailer toys/models.   They look great scatted among the other scenery on our 10’x20’ train lay out.  It is a Christmas scene set in the mid 1950’s.  It  stays up all year, in its own room.  Guess I’m a model railroader-who knew.   Here are a couple pics:

Anything you’d like to share that wasn’t asked?

Enjoy this fun hobby, go to as many events as you can.

How did you get involved with the TCT and what made you decide to become a rep?

I found TCT on line while scouring for trailer parts years ago.  I liked that TCT had a purpose other than rallies. They were about preserving history, offering help and educating people.  I decided to join, in 2005, I think, I was member number 53 and the only one from New Mexico, then. TCT seemed different from other trailer groups, they offered information. When asked to be the rep, I thought about it, and then said ok. I was surprised and flattered that my new little trailer hobby here in New Mexico was recognized by a large national group like TCT.

What is your favorite part of hosting a rally?

My favorite part of a rally must be seeing the interiors of all the trailers.  I always get great ideas for my “next” trailer, and like creative use of space.  I think it is just about mandatory to have open house – open for and to include the general public. I get a little tired of hearing “I had one just like that”, but it is rewarding in so many ways.  Otherwise rallies are just for us.

What is your most memorable rally experience?

I had a couple, Kenny and Suzie, which were coming to my event to celebrate their 30the wedding anniversary, and without them knowing, we arranged a mock wedding ceremony for them. I found her a dress, flowers, minister, cake, and wrote vows for them. All done completely trailer trash style, and they loved it and were just thrilled.  Almost every rally has some great moments and wonderful people.

What is unique about your region/state in terms of camping or the community?

That is a good question.  I think with the weather in the SW, most of the year is good for camping and we have unspoiled delightful scenery. It is also great for trailer hunters, as we don’t suffer from winter road salt or rust.   New Mexico is unique, due to its large geographical area we are 5th in square miles, and 6th most sparsely populated.  So the people that have the trailers mostly live in the Albuquerque area. Here in Albuquerque we have two TCT friendly campgrounds that love vintage and sponsor their own vintage camping annual events. Enchanted Trails Campground has 3 of my past trailer, and offers overnight camping in them, like the Shady Dell in Arizona.

What future plans do you have for the region/state?

I would like to incorporate more state reps, into the master plan. With me, the regional rep, training, and overseeing the state reps.  I think most areas are best served by having a local state rep that knows the people, where to camp, what is wanted, and the best time of year etc.  I started off with the idea of wanted to do a rally in each state of my territory, and have participated in 4 out of state events now.  I plan on hosting my yearly rally the Desert Diamond, at Elephant Butte, NM.  Kenny and I will be on the road next year visiting and traveling-I always keep TCT brochures with me and pass them out along the way.   The Camp Dearborn rally that Forrest and his crew host, is fantastic, and would love to attend it again in 2015.

Every rally host brings their own unique flavor to a rally, what is it that you bring?

I like to think I bring, organization, a planned agenda, and try to offer something different at each event. My last rally, Desert Diamond, we included a boat ride around the lake, and a cocktail/desert  party at my vintage triple wide mobile home.  For door prizes, I like to ask trailer questions, with the correct response winning a prize. Mix things up a little, ad some fun while sipping on Margaritas.

How can members/participants help in your region or at rallies?

I am always open to any help or suggestions.  Members are welcome to host their own events, in their state/location, and I will offer guidance and direction. If I can I will travel to attend, their event. Showing interests and getting your local campers/friends interested in hosting rallies is a great help.

For my events, I am going to start a sign-up sheet, for volunteers. I think if people get involved they will be better participants and might be willing to host their own event.

Thanks,  
karen

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