While I was at the International Redwood Gathering in northern California, I noticed a custom made teardrop owned by a woman named Tracy. She was a tall person and I noticed that her trailer fit her height perfectly—especially the beautiful galley and hatch. The name of the custom trailer also caught my eye—O-rama! What the heck?
It turns out that the O-rama! Teardrop Trailer company is owned by Mike LaCroix of Washington, who has worked in RV design and construction in the past. The name of his company is defined as "an act, event, situation, or place that is remarkable, extraordinary, or extreme."
"I have always been a goof and tacked “Orama” to peoples names, for as long as I can remember," Mike said. "But I love the obscure definition of it. With teardrops being a “retro” kind of thing, Orama fits in perfectly with its meaning and the fact that back in the 50’s-60’s, a lot of businesses used it in their name. Essentially, it means more than enough of a good thing."
Mike was kind to give me some more information on his custom designs and beautiful details.
How and why did you get into building teardrop trailers?
I have always been a mechanical guy. This especially translated into RV’s, a vehicle (or cabin on wheels) you take to wonderful outdoor places. I love the fact that an RV is a rolling mechanical piece of wonderland! I love all the aspects that go into an RV build: electrical, plumbing, woodworking, heating, cooling etc. For this reason I thought it would be fun to randomly build or restore my own.
The biggest problem I had with this idea was a lack of space and a tall covered structure in which to do it, especially with the weather here in Washington. With my idea stymied, and while doing research, I came across a teardrop trailer. I have heard of them, but don’t ever remember seeing one in all of my many camping adventures. Instantly I fell in love with them and liked the idea that I could just build one from the ground up in my garage. I wasn’t even going to build it for myself. I just wanted to build one for the fun then sell it. Well, building my first teardrop was the best project I have ever worked on, and I have done a lot of fun projects. When it was time to sell it I couldn’t believe the response! It sold the first day.
After that, out of curiosity, I built another one. It also sold within days. At that point I thought why not keep building them? It was a perfect scenario. I love building teardrops and people loved buying them! A match made in heaven! So here I am today.
What do you think makes your teardrops unique?
believe what makes my teardrops unique is my wood work and cabinetry. I
would never say I am an expert cabinet maker, but my mixture of light
colored wood (pine and maple), hidden hinges, nickel hardware, and
recessed doors really looks nice together. The light colored woods also
make the interior feel more spacious. Everyone who sees my trailers for
the first time loves them and comments on my woodworking. I like to think of
my cabinetry as a big notch above the ordinary.
Can you tell us a little about the custom building process?
like to keep it simple. I have decided against building custom ground
up “however you want it” teardrops for many reasons. So the custom
building process is very simple for customers. First you start with the
entry level trailer that includes all of the nice woodwork. From there, a
customer can choose a galley package with stove and sink (or they can
have just one or the other), electrical package that includes a very
complete 12 volt and 120v system, radio, DVD/TV, etc. Other exterior
aluminum colors are also available. What makes customizing my trailers
so easy is the fact that I include so many things in the entry level
trailer that there isn’t all that nickel and dime stuff to add. Building
a fully loaded trailer, customized with every option takes me about 4-6
weeks to build.
How did you get into teardrop camping and what do you like the most and least about teardrop camping?
Early in my fledgling business, I obviously needed one for advertisement purposes and as a “model” trailer. But mostly, It was the best excuse in the world to build my own to camp in! After downsizing from a travel trailer, I loved the fact that I could pull my teardrop with any car I wanted. The small size of a teardrop just makes it fun to tow and easy to maneuver. Then, on top of that, throw in the fact that even in such a small package, you have all the modern conveniences you need, including a kitchen and a place to sleep! Amazing! The least favorite thing about teardrop camping is that I don’t get to do it enough! I love every aspect of camping in my teardrop! Seriously!
What are some of your favorite teardrop or camping products or gear?
My two favorite pieces of equipment for teardrop camping are my portable 80 watt solar system and my ARB fridge/freezer. The solar is wonderful for keeping the battery charged when you are somewhere without hookups. You don’t even need direct sun all day for it to really do a good job keeping the battery topped off.
The ARB fridge/freezer may not be for everyone because of its high cost, but there is so much about it that makes it worth it. It uses a real compressor just like your fridge at home. Therefore it can keep things as cold as you want them, or even frozen. The current it uses to do this is so little that I can leave it plugged in for an entire trip as long as I have some solar charging capabilities. It will also run off both 12v DC and 120v AC. In addition, it has an adjustable voltage setting so that it will stop running before it drains your battery completely. I also love the fact that I can plug it in while it's in the tow vehicle for the travel time to and from the campground. I just love it. No more ice for me!
Where are your favorite places to go camping?
My favorite campground hands down is Kalaloch in the Olympic National Park. It sits on a small bluff right at the ocean. The beach is beautiful to hike on, especially during low tide. This part of Washington’s coast is beautiful and preserved because it is within a national park. A close second is anywhere in Washington and Oregon along the Columbia River Gorge. I love the diversity the gorge offers.
Photos courtesy of Mike LaCroix/O-rama! Teardrop Trailers