Into the Wild — in Style

There’s something nostalgic about planning a vacation that doesn’t involve hotel reservations, expensive dining, or long lines at airport security checkpoints. This summer, plan a trip that’s centralized around the vast outdoors, without fretting about leaving behind household luxuries and necessities. Whether it’s driving to a national park or to a secluded and rural campground, RVing is an ideal way to travel the open roads.

At Basden’s American RV on Baseline Road off U.S. Highway 41, there are nearly 200 new, used, and rental options — from fold-down, slide-out campers to travel trailers that accommodate 10 people with bunk areas, a play room, and a queen-sized bed — plus a 40,000-square-foot showroom lined with the newest RVs on the market.

In 1992, two decades after American RV’s inception, Evansville native J.B. Strassweg and his family purchased the company. Formerly an insurance salesman, Strassweg says he’s noticed a dynamic demographic increase in younger couples RVing and taking shorter trips since 9/11. Also, manufacturers have come a long way to meet the needs of the consumer. “Camping isn’t what it was 20 years ago,” he says. “The younger generation demands what we have at home to come on the road with us.”

Basden’s most popular RV, the Coachmen Catalina, is equipped with a full-operating kitchen, large bed in the front, bunk area, and an automatic awning. Some RVs are equipped with digital game hookups, flat screen TVs, DVD players with surround sound, satellite radios, iPod docks, wireless Internet, and more. These luxury units do “just about everything except hook themselves to your truck and unhook themselves from your truck,” says Strassweg. A leading trend within the last three years is outdoor kitchens — with a refrigerator, cooktop, sink, and storage that are accessible from the exterior of the camper and provide convenience to al fresco cooking and dining.

From early May’s Talladega Superspeedway to Halloween weekend, rental season is booming, says Strassweg. He recommends booking at least two weeks in advance around all major holidays — Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc. — and annual outdoor happenings such as music festivals, Nascar races, and college football games. One of his busiest rental months, says Strassweg, is October when Audubon State Park in Henderson, Ky., Harmonie State Park in New Harmony, Ind., and Lincoln State Park near Santa Claus, Ind., participate in Halloween-themed weekends with trick-or-treating and campsite decorating contests.

According to Strassweg, there are nearly 100 RV camping sites within a few hours’ drive from the River City. “We’re very fortunate to be located in an area where camping is really prevalent,” he says, “so there are plenty of private and state parks to choose from.”

For camping locations in Indiana, visit
For campsites in Kentucky, visit
For more information on RVing, visit and

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