In Your Backyard: ROAMERICA Campervans
In this edition of "In Your Backyard," FOX26 Sports Anchor Nick King is breaking the rules, and dipping outside of California. Nick is traveling around Oregon in a campervan, rented by ROAMERICA.
ROAMERICA is based in Portland. The company was founded about three years ago, by the outdoors-loving couple, Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood. Gretchen and Taylor had been spending weekends in their own campervan for years, and in 2015, Taylor says, "We were both in full time jobs working late nights, early hours...just looked over at Gretchen one day, I was like ‘hey, let's let's rent vans.’ And she looked at me and I thought she was going to think I was insane. And she said yes. And three years later here we are."
Three years later, ROAMERICA's customers have come to explore the Pacific Northwest from California, but also Japan, New Zealand and all over Europe.
ROAMERICA offers a chance to travel, and live out of, a van. Its Sportsmobile vans are smaller and easier to drive than an RV, and come equipped with a sink and running water, a refrigerator, propane stove top, heat, and a bed that folds down. ROAMERICA also provides sleeping bags and blankets, pots, pans and cooking utensils, and much more. Basically, all you need to bring is clothing.
Taylor says, "This enables you to travel and make a vacation, constantly changing, and be able to see a lot of things without having to rent houses in different spots, rent cars - it kind of combines everything. People are really liking it because it's simplifying their vacation. Instead of bringing every known piece of gear and toy, the adventure is, you know, being in a van and you know, hiking out the back door. “
Oregon is the perfect place to spend vacation on the move. One of the state's nicknames is "God's Country" for a reason - there are more scenic byways and tour routes than any other state. There are 13 national forests, 230 state parks, 6,000 lakes and 112,000 miles of rivers and streams.
From Portland, we drove east through the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River, then south past Mt. Hood to Bend. After that, it was east through the Willamette National Forest and Eugene, before reaching the coast in Florence. From there, it was straight up the 101 to Cannon Beach, before driving west back to Portland the airport. Each day looked completely different than the one before, and the four day, 700 mile trip included snow, rain and sun.
ROAMERICA's visitors aren't restricted to just Oregon, either. Gretchen and Taylor say renters go to Washington, Canada, and California, among other places.
Gretchen explains, "They get here and they realize how close everything is together - and then they hit up the Olympic Peninsula or the Redwoods or they end up going into Canada...and their plans just go completely out the window that first morning waking up in the van. I think they're like, ‘all right, let's do this. Let's take advantage of everything. The fact that our customers come back so excited and they just they change their lives afterwards sometimes, that's just so inspiring for Taylor and I. At the end of the day it's just awesome that people are wanting to get out and explore.”