Front Loading Our Specialty

Occasionally we get a question about the door on the front.  Now we’ve written a few blog entries on aerodynamics and the importance of a small front surface area.  But this blog isn’t about how a front door helps with loading. Dave here is demonstrating the ease of loading a paddle board. Last weekend we did some kayaking and the Road Chief swallowed our gear.


Joshua Trees

The Joshua tree’s life cycle begins with the rare germination of a seed, its survival dependent upon well-timed rains. Look for sprouts growing up from within the protective branches of a shrub. Young sprouts may grow quickly in the first five years, then slow down considerably thereafter. The tallest Joshua tree in the park looms a whopping forty feet high, a grand presence in the Queen Valley forest. Judging the age of a Joshua tree is challenging: these “trees” do not have growth rings like you would find in an oak or pine. You can make a rough estimate based on height, as Joshua trees grow at rates of one-half inch to three inches per year. Some researchers think an average lifespan for a Joshua tree is about 150 years, but some of the parks largest trees may be much older than that.

It is an important part of the Mojave Desert ecosystem, providing habitat for numerous birds, mammals, insects, and lizards. Joshua tree forests tell a story of survival, resilience, and beauty borne through perseverance.

Years ago the Joshua tree was recognized by American Indians for its useful properties: tough leaves were worked into baskets and sandals, and flower buds and raw or roasted seeds made a healthy addition to the diet. The local Cahuilla have long referred to the tree as “hunuvat chiy’a” or “humwichawa;” both names are used by a few elders fluent in the language.

By the mid-19th century, Mormon immigrants had made their way across the Colorado River. Legend has it that these pioneers named the tree after the biblical figure, Joshua, seeing the limbs of the tree as outstretched in supplication, guiding the travelers westward. Concurrent with Mormon settlers, ranchers and miners arrived in the high desert with high hopes of raising cattle and digging for gold. These homesteaders used the Joshua tree’s limbs and trunks for fencing and corrals. Miners found a source of fuel for the steam engines used in processing ore.

The Joshua tree provides a good indicator that you are in the Mojave Desert, but you may also find them growing next to a saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert in western Arizona or mixed with pines in the San Bernardino Mountains.  For more info visit


13785 Paxton Avenue

The Bowlus factory that was located at 13785 Paxton Avenue, San Fernando, California was actually the original Bowlus family ranch.  Hawley’s father, Charles Bowlus, known as CD Bowlus had moved from Ohio to start an orange orchard when Hawley was a child. He later decided to manufacture cabinets so he built a large wood shop on his property.  Hawley’s dad later became the trailer production manager. As a talented metal worker he cast and lathed all the specialized trailer parts.

It is here on the “Ranch” that Hawley built a great number of his famous sailplanes and in 1934 started his trailer business. Hawley and his family moved back to the ranch in 1931, after the death of his first wife, Inez. They lived in the old family home since his father had built a new house on the property.

With four trailers sold by the end of 1934, Hawley decided to expand the production capabilities. in early 1935, offices and drafting rooms were added.  At its peak production in mid 1935, the shop had about 50 employees. The employees were a combination of hired workers, extended family members and sailplane enthusiasts who had worked with Hawley on his various glider projects.

The business was  truly a family affair. Hawley’s brother’s, Glenn and Fred were professional engineers, one civil and the other electrical. The three brothers would collaborate on design and construction plans.  Hawley’s practical experience was augmented by his brothers’ theoretical knowledge. Ruth Bowlus was in charge of the selection of beds, seats, drapes and color schemes, often choosing plaid and striped fabrics. Ruth’s mother, a talented dressmaker helped with the sewing and Ruth’s father, Melvin Scudder helped in the shop.  Hawley employed B. F. Frank Mahoney, to be head of sales. Frank was the ex-owner of Ryan Airlines who built the “Spirit of St. Louis.”  Unfortunately  after selling his company in 1928, Mahoney lost his fortune in the crash of 1929. Despite the depression, travel trailers were enjoying the newly created network of highways.



Marine Quality

One general complain of even high end RV’s is that their finish is well disappointing. Take the lights for instance, they’re usually plastic fixtures of low quality. After all, even the most high-end travel trailer has a life span of 10 to 15 years.

At Bowlus, we are very concerned make that obsessed with the quality of our hardware and fixtures selections. We take so much care crafting our trailers both on the exterior and the interior that it would truly be a shame not to have our hardware and fixtures of the same obsessive quality.

Our lights are a good example, they are marine fixtures that is made for marine weather aka salt air. They are beautifully chromed and functionally they are adjustable in a multiple of positions. We also have LED bulbs in the lights to reduce power usage when off the grid.

Another example is our fridges, which are also marine quality. They use the very high quality German Danfoss compressor which is the best in the industry. Of course our fridge cost considerable more but they are exceptionally well-made and have the highest efficiently for 12V power usage of any fridge manufactured.

Each item we put into the Bowlus has been selected based upon quality, efficiency and weight consideration. It is this attention to detail that you’re interaction with a Bowlus Road Chief a beautiful experience.


Joshua Tree National Park – Where Two Deserts Meet

Named for the trees that are native to the park, the Joshua Tree National Park covers almost 800,000 acres, just slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island.  What we found interesting is the two deserts each with their own ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation are fascinating to compare.  The higher one being the Mojave Desert and the lower being the Colorado Desert.  In higher and cooler Mojave you’ll find endless fabulous Joshua trees.

The rocks formations through the park were formed more than 100 million years ago from the cooling of magma beneath the surface into monzogranites with roughly rectangular joints.  Groundwater then filtered through the joints to erode away the corners and edges to create rounded stones. Later flash floods washed away ground cover to expose great piles of boulders.  These prominent outcrops are know as inselbergs. The photo below was taken at our Jumbo Rocks, a fabulous spot to camp.

There is so much to do in the park, however if you’re short of time enjoy the relaxing drive through the park. Hopefully you’ve got a little more time enjoy the nature trails and ranger-led programs.  Stay overnight and experience how the moon plays along the scenery.  It’s  pure magic.  For move info visit the National Park Service


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