My American Dream Trailer It's No Longer an Airstream, It's the Oliver
For those who don’t know me, I am ScubaRx on most of the travel trailer forums including Oliver’s. Over on the FGRV forum I am Steve Outlaw. I hope to be a reasonably consistent contributor to this blog. Yes, I realize “hope” is not a good planning strategy, but being new to the idea of “blogging”, I’m not exactly sure that I can be effective at it for very long, if at all.
My plan is to share with you gentle readers the information and experiences that I have gleaned over the years from owning two different Oliver’s. (What is the plural of Oliver? Is it Oliver’s or Olivii?) Oh well, doesn’t matter. I am a voracious reader and consumer of information and I currently peruse at least the Oliver and the FGRV forum every day as well as several others (Casita, Airstream, Escape) quite often. I am always looking for new ideas and ways to improve our camping experience from new locations to visit and explore to new equipment to add to our arsenal of gear. I will use this storehouse of (useful?) information to seed future posts. Most of the ideas and information I will present will be taken from sources other than myself. Any exceptions would be things we have personally learned (probably the hard way.) As an old pilot once told me “...learn from the mistakes of others son, you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself...”
Allow me to offer a little background on Tali and myself and how our current relationship with Oliver came to be.
I always thought I’d end up owning an Airstream. For years, I had been infatuated with the idea of traveling the country pulling my bed and belongings along behind me, stopping when I got tired and then moving on as whim and fancy struck. And, I had envisioned doing all that in the classic American dream trailer - the Airstream. I had an older first cousin that owned four Airstreams, at one time! They ranged from a classic 16 foot Bambi to a 34 foot, three axle custom built unit.
Airstreams were in my family and in my psyche. But everything changed one day...
In 2008 while driving into a Wal-Mart in Tupelo, Mississippi (my hometown) I saw a little white fiberglass trailer and tow sitting there in the parking lot. I circled it twice hoping to attract the attention of someone inside so I could ask some questions but no one seemed to be “at home.” I did notice the name of Oliver on the outside. I quickly called Tali and told her about it and asked her to write that name down. At that time we were semi-curious about the idea of traveling in an RV of some sort and the sight of this one piqued my interest in small travel trailers. I later learned that the trailer belonged to a couple of our fellow Oliver forum members Tom and Karen Whaley (meanderthal) so I suppose all the credit (blame) for what followed is on them. Later that night I went online and looked at the Oliver website which, by comparison to today’s offering, was by all reckoning very meager but I poured over it learning all I could.
And so began the journey to acquire our first Oliver, one of the original Elite 17 footers. Probably like a lot of the owners, we called the factory, took the tour with Robert, got the price, went home, talked it over, decided we couldn’t afford it/didn’t need it, talked it over again, decided we couldn’t live without it, went back to the factory, paid our down payment and asked when it would be ready.
We picked her up in June of 2008, dubbed her the Outlaw Oliver and during the next 5 years we traveled across a large portion of this great land. From California to Maine touching, if not actually sleeping in, most of the states between the two. Since we were both still working, our travels were limited to lots of short trips and occasionally, whenever we could both get a few weeks of vacation time together, a longer one. Most of the time Tali and I were accompanied by our three matching black and tan dogs: Storm (Doberman Pincher), Maggie (Miniature Pincher) and Lucy (Dachshund). Sadly, two years ago Storm departed us and is now waiting at the Rainbow Bridge. Last year a new canine joined our family, a red and tan Doberman we named Reacher (after my favorite character in Lee Child’s books, Jack Reacher. And yes, he did mess up the color scheme.) Now he and the rest of the fur crew travels with us.
By 2012 we had traveled about 20,000 miles with the Outlaw Oliver. Now I know this is a mere stroll in the park compared to our fellow forum member and Oliver owner Pete Marks (bugeyedriver) who has by now probably racked up somewhere in the neighborhood of a zillion miles. Of course, according to the personalized Texas license plate on his Oliver, he has “NO JOB” and therefore unlimited time to travel. But I digress... By the end of 2012 we had decided that the Outlaw Oliver was getting a bit cramped for the five of us. Though Maggie and Lucy are small dogs both Storm and Reacher tip the scales at near 100 pounds and it was as if there were 3 adults and 2 children trying to cohabit the limited space available. We started thinking about up sizing. Although the thought of giving up our beloved Oliver was seemingly more than I thought I could stand, since the production of Oliver trailers had taken a hiatus due to the downturn of the economy in late 2009, I felt we had no option other than buying a motor home or (horrors) an SOB (Some Other Brand.) We finally decided that a Class C motor home was our best bet and we started looking.
On Sunday, March 17, 2013, Robert called me out of the blue and asked “...how would you like to buy a 22 footer?” (For those of you just joining us, that’s what the 23.5 footer was called back then.) Remembering that Oliver had built three of the larger twin axle trailers prior to their production halt, I figured he was offering me one of the two that were still in Oliver’s possession. However, such was not the case, as he informed me that Oliver was going to start building trailers again and would begin with the larger of the two original trailers. In less than 3 minutes, all thoughts of a Class C flew out the window and I told him I would take the first one off the line. In late April, I joined members of the Oliver family, Robert and several other Oliver employees in Townsend, Tennessee at a FGRV Rally to discuss plans for the new trailer. I had been asked to attend to help from an “owners” point of view.
From that initial get together the Oliver team went on to build what I consider to be the Rolls-Royce of fiberglass travel trailers. I feel fortunate and honored to have been allowed to contribute to its rebirth.
I was privileged to be able to participate in the design and building of our new Outlaw Oliver (the original was sold to a nice couple and renamed the Virginia Oliver) and we took possession of her on Sunday, March 16, 2014. Although it took a year for the design, planning and build, the effort was well worth the wait and though ours was not the first trailer off the line (several demos were built), it was the first customer trailer (Hull # 50) to be sold.
We are now nearing retirement (about four more months, yea) and we plan to travel much more, pursuing but never quite able to catch the elusive, unemployed, bugeyedriver aboard The Wonder Egg with his constant sidekick, Oscar the Smiley Dog!
And so until next time, may your road go ever on...
Steve and Tali
Dogs: Reacher, Maggie, Lucy and our Beloved Storm (waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)