Train engine in Santa Fe City Park
Historic bridge, Santa Fe Park, Chanute
Waterfall in the park
Families come to the park every evening
Goose family: mom, dad,
5 goslings & a nanny
The World Harmony Run RV
NuWa Industries !!
A fifth wheel frame
Holding tanks being installed in the frame
Walls are vacuum bonded Blue Dow
styrofoam and gel-coat fiberglass --
a winning and unique combination
Walls being installed on a frame
Slide-out walls lined up
A slide-out being built
A slideout being installed on a trailer
Ceiling/roof trusses lined up
Windows lined up
Cabinets get assembled
Furniture ready to be installed
End of the line
Hey - we have that exact same wall trim
in our Fleetwood Prowler Lynx !!
Hitchhiker & Lynx side by side
Goodbye Little Lynx !!!
We join the other NuWa owners at the Chanute city RV park
May, 2008 - We had been kicking around the idea of upgrading to a fifth wheel
trailer since our winter months in Quartzsite and Yuma, Arizona. We loved the
little Lynx and it had taken good care of us. If we were traveling only part-time, six
to nine months a year, then there would have been no need to change. A 27'
travel trailer is ideal for skipping around the country seeing the sights if you have a
home to return to. However, with fulltime travel we found there were periods
where we needed to stop and simply live for a while. We couldn't keep moving
continuously. We had to catch our breath, absorb what we'd seen, and simply be:
watch TV, read, talk, write, maintain the rig, etc. During the cold months, on rainy
days and during long winter nights, we always secretly wished we had just a little
more room. So we began researching fifth wheels.
By May we had a stack of brochures three inches thick and had been in and
out of hundreds of trailers on maybe 20 different dealer lots across the
country. We had interviewed anyone and everyone that was in a fifth wheel
to find out what they liked and didn't like about their brand. We had
narrowed down the search to three prospective manufacturers: NuWa
(pronounced "New Way" as in "New Way of Camping" coined circa 1965) in
Chanute, Kansas, Alpenlite (Western Recreational Vehicles) in Yakima,
Washington, and Arctic Fox (Northwood Manufacturing) in LaGrande,
Oregon. We had seen the Arctic Fox plant the previous summer (along with
Fleetwood which has a plant 50 miles away). When we had planned to go to
Florida we had decided to stop at NuWa in southeastern Kansas on the way
home after passing through the Ozarks.
Chanute is a small city largely supported by the NuWa manufacturing plant and
its companion plants, Young's Manufacturing (which makes trailer frames,
including some for NuWa), and HiLo Manufacturing (which makes trailer furniture
and cabinets, including some for NuWa). When we signed in at the town's
historical center, of the fifteen people who signed in before us, fourteen were
visiting the NuWa plant and one was looking for a job.
We slipped out of
sightseeing mode as
soon as we arrived in
Chanute. We were
there to visit the factory
and learn more about their fifth wheel trailers. While we stayed in the city
park, a pretty park with an area for RVs, we took many afternoon and
evening jaunts around the park, on foot and by bike. It is a lovely place
with an old train engine you can climb on, a historic bridge and a waterfall
that gushes with amazing force when it rains hard.
There was a family of
Canada geese that we
watched grow up during
our stay: two parents, five goslings
and a nanny. The nanny was
always with the family, but she (or
he?) wasn't a Canada goose.
Other geese came and went, but
this family, including the nanny,
always stuck together. There
were ducks at the park too, and
one pair was on eggs.
The city park is well used by the
locals and by all kinds of travelers
too. Ninety percent of the RVs in
the park were NuWa owners
who were in town for warranty
or other service work on their
trailer. However we saw
several traveling cyclists come
through with panniers and
tents, and at one point a
carnival came into town and
their trailers filled the park.
One night as we walked we saw some very fit people milling about, and they
turned out to be part of the World Harmony Run, a group that was running relays
around the US all summer. There were eight runners with them in Chanute, and
they were running about 100 miles a day as a relay.
NuWa opens its doors to
visitors with a formal factory tour every morning. We took the tour three times,
and each time there were at least 10 people on the tour. The NuWa employees
were extremely hospitable, and Debbie in HR and Brett in Sales made us feel
right at home. We mingled at the plant almost daily, saw familiar faces fishing in
the park in the evenings, and bumped into Ed Cox, a sales manager and the city
mayor, repeatedly, all over town. We became more and more enamored of the
company. It is well run and tight knit. We visited the plant at one of the worst
possible times in their 50-year history. With the US economy slowing and gas
prices skyrocketing, the RV industry was not happy. While we were in town we
learned that four major high-end RV manufacturers had closed their doors:
Travel Supreme, Western RV (Alpenlite and Alpine Coach), Alpha (See Ya!), and
King of the Road. These were all direct competitors for NuWa. In preparation for the downturn, NuWa had consolidated two plants
into one and streamlined their workforce to carry the company forward.
We talked extensively with all the NuWa owners in the RV park.
Most would come in for just three or four days, so we ended up
becoming friendly with quite a few owners during our month in
town. Many invited us in to see their trailers, and all talked
extensively about their experience with the trailer, their dealer and
the factory. Everyone was in town with problems to be fixed, but
there was no pattern to the problems. The only pattern we saw
was that people liked their trailers (many were repeat buyers), and
they seemed very happy with the service they received.
When we arrived in town we thought we might eventually order a
Discover America 333RL, and we peppered everyone who would
listen at NuWa with questions about its various options and what
modifications might be coming up in the future. By the time we left
we had found there was a 2007 Hitchhiker II LS 34.5 RLTG sitting
in the back lot that had never gone out to a dealer. It was one of the last 2007's built and it was in the color I liked (which had been
discontinued). NuWa sells through dealerships exclusively, so we worked out a deal with Russ Herron at NuWa and Carl Fogleman
at H&K Camper Sales in nearby Columbus, Kansas, and suddenly we were the proud owners of a new trailer!
NUWA FIFTH WHEEL FACTORY TOUR
H&K Camper Sales is a fantastic dealership, and they allowed us to park
the two trailers side-by-side in the VFW park in Columbus for a few days while we moved things over and got organized. The
amount of extra floor space was startling, and the new rig felt very luxurious. It was a sad day, however, when John from H&K
towed the Lynx away. But our smiles quickly returned when we set ourselves up in the Santa Fe city park in Chanute, right along
with all the other NuWa owners!
After testing out all the systems in the new trailer and making sure
everything worked properly, we were ready to go back out west
again. We had been living in Tornado Alley for the peak month of
Tornado Season and had already been evacuated once to the Super
8 motel across the street. When you're living in a trailer in Kansas
and the cops knock on your door and tell you to evacuate, you do as
you're told!! Luckily, no tornados came through Chanute, but the day
we were evacuated, Pricher, Oklahoma, 80 miles away, was
A man living in a 1980's vintage Holiday
Rambler travel trailer that ended up in a
million pieces was really interested in
buying the Lynx from H&K. Hopefully he
worked out a deal and was able to move
in. Meanwhile we wanted to get to
panels and start our summer travels.