Gizmo here…today we’re I’m starting a new feature here on my blog…Travel Thursday. On  Thursday’s  I’ll take you somewhere fun for you and your people to visit together here in Florida. Some Thursdays we’ll have interviews with some of my favorite canine geocachers worldwide. As an added feature, we’ll be posting GPS coordinates for the locations we feature.

Yesterday I promised you information on a most unusual roadside attraction. It’s the Airstream Ranch, located roadside on the South side of I-4 in Dover, FL, about 15 miles East of Tampa. There’s plenty of room to pull off the highway roadside, or you can take Exit 14 off I-4, and turn right into the Bates RV Exchange at the SW corner of the interchange, 4656 McIntosh Road, just south of the interstate. Park in the Bates RV lot, tell them why you’re there, then follow the golf cart path from the back to Airstream Ranch.


This roadside attraction has in interesting backstory.  Here’s a 2010 interview with Frank Bates, builder of the Ranch, with the Orlando Sentinel:

…Airstream had recently celebrated its 75th birthday, so Bates conceived Airstream Ranch, where he buried seven-and-a-half 1957-1994 vintage Airstream trailers in a vacant lot next door to the dealership. He buried seven-and-a-half trailers because that’s 7.5, as in 75, the Airstream anniversary.

Bates admits he was inspired by Cadillac Ranch, 10 old Cadillacs buried nose-down in the ground, next to a stretch of Interstate 40 near Amarillo, Texas, in 1974. Cadillac Ranch is widely regarded as art, particularly since those rusting, graffiti-covered cars are supposedly facing west at the same angle as the pyramids in Egypt. Bates was going to let local “artists” paint his trailers with graffiti, but most of the graffiti turned out to be gang insignias, so he stopped.

Shortly after the construction of Airstream Ranch, things got interesting: Several residents of the neighborhood right behind the Ranch were not amused, and went to the Hillsborough County Enforcement Board. There was a big hearing. One of the neighbors called Airstream Ranch a “dirty deed” and “a cheap roadside attraction.” Others testified in favor of Airstream Ranch, including Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design, who said that in his “expert opinion, this constitutes a piece of art.”

It probably did not help Frank Bates’ case as a serious artist that he has been known to dress up as a black-and-white cow for his TV commercials, dancing and holding up a sign that says Bates RV can save you “MOO-lah” on a trailer. Or that he takes most anything in trade, including a moose pasture in Alaska, two mausoleums (apparently vacant) and a stuffed marlin. Or that he commutes to work in a red Robinson R44 helicopter that he lands on the dealership’s roof.

Eventually, Bates was told to dismantle Airstream Ranch, or face a $100-a-day fine. In March 2009, Bates and his lawyer appealed the board’s decision. Just last February, a three-judge Circuit Court panel finally overruled the board, and reversed the fines. Last March, county commissioners declined to appeal the ruling. So now, in June — after several months of waiting to see if there are any additional legal challenges — Frank Bates is prepared to declare victory on behalf of Bates RV, Airstream and art lovers.

More information is available at the Roadside America website.

If you’re in Central Florida, anywhere between Tampa and Orlando, take a break and visit the Airstream Ranch…it’s just plain fun!

GPS Coordinates for Airstream Ranch are N 28* 01.271 , W 082* 15.142. Geocachers that stop by can log a Waymark for the Airstream Ranch.


And here’s the last of the 30/30 Challenge tickers. We’ve done pretty well all in all, and tomorrow we get started on the Idita-Walk 2013!


About Gizmo

Hi! I'm Gizmo...a handsome terrier-about-town with a distinct point of view. I will write about whatever interesting things come across my desk, appear on my twitter feed @GizmoGeodog, or meet me out on the geotrails. I love to geocache cause it takes me to all the wild places & I can get back to being a real dog. I care about all my brofurs & sisfurs who haven't found their own forever homes yet, & raise funds to help them whenever I can. My girl brought me home from the shelter & together we explore our world. I do my best to make her smile, & she does her best for me. We are a team.
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  1. I wouldn’t consider this art but I love your Thursday Travels idea!

  2. catchatcaren says:

    Thank you for the interview! If I am ever motoring down that way, will have to check it out. Looking forward to more of your new Thursday feature!

  3. Well, I didn’t even know what an Airstream was, so I’ve definitely learnt something new today 😀

    • Gizmo says:

      Sometimes they get together and do Airstream Caravans…In Mexico we saw 30 of them in a row heading towards us on the highway…They were so shiny we had to pull over till they passed by…It’s like a mirror reflecting the sun right at you

  4. Gizmo, that’s a great idea. I can discover a lot of great places while laying on my bed – wow! That’s what I call traveling ;o) And I can save my “Moo-lah” woohoo… Maybe you can get an interview with Mr. Bates too – he sounds like a man with a sense of humor ;o) Thank you for the first trip to the Airstream-Ranch, Gizmo ;o)

    • Gizmo says:

      Momz sez we’re gonna let you explore Florida with us without all the fuss of airplanes and packing…just sit back and travel with us Easy

  5. Will and Eko says:

    Well…that is certainly not something you see every day! I thought it was a trailer pileup at first.

  6. Travel Thursday sounds Pawsome. We love seeing new things. Can’t wait for the next one Gizmo. Have a terrific Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  7. writetowag says:

    Gizmo…What an interesting place to visit and I really like your new Thursday posts…great idea!!!! Look forward to reading about all your new travels!!!!

    • Gizmo says:

      We’re going to find lots of kewl places, from roadside attractions, to hikes, to restaurants…anyplace you and your dog can enjoy together is on our list

  8. Gizmo, you’re my new favourite read. I’m learning so many things here 🙂

    When I read “seven and a half”, I thought it was because 1/2 of an Airstream had been taken off in a bad road accident LOL. I’m glad the RVs are staying put, at least for the moment. I like quirky art and am a fan of graffiti and street art (not tagging). So much more engaging, organic and interactive than a framed painting on a gallery wall. Hooroo! X

    • Gizmo says:

      Pea that is so nice of you to say…it makes Momz & me feel great & we’ll try to keep bringing you fun new things…Momz loves “found” art…turning a corner and finding something so unexpected and fun…

      We though of you yesterday…We watched an Australian film called “Red Dog”…and loved it…though Momz was pretty teary a couple of times…so sad what happened to such a smart and brave dog…have you ever seen his statue?

  9. Hey Giz! Hi Miss Beth!
    Great Travel Thursday post! I think the place is fun. I hope you got to wander through it! I may have to pop in there if I am ever in the neighborhood.

    And hey! I saw your post on my Travel Thursday post. You and mom should definitely go to Blackwater. The trails are easy but definitely fun to be in the forest. Maybe when the weather gets a bit warner we can all go back and go camping and hiking!
    *high paws* Oz

    • Gizmo says:

      Hi Oz! Momz sez it would be great fun to go camping with you…I’ve never been so you could teach me the ropes…Momz sez she should bring her kayak and take it on the river but I’m not so sure about that…Maybe she goes and I stay at the camp with you pal…Bark at you soon!

  10. Clowie says:

    I know Dover well, the one in the UK – it looks very different. I’ve never seen anything like that before.

  11. emma says:

    We would like to see those Airstreams in person! Thanks Gizmo!

  12. 2browndawgs says:

    I love roadside tourist trap type places, but I guess I can see why neighbors would not appreciate it. 🙂

    • Gizmo says:

      What I love most about this is that it’s totally free…anyone can stop by anytime…most stop on the highway…there’s really not that many that seek out that golf cart path and in the last two years the neighbors seem to have accepted it

  13. Jodi says:

    There’s one thing I will say about traveling through Florida, there is always something interesting to look at. I once almost had an accident on the route that takes you around Jacksonville, because I was looking at a giant shoe one of the kids had pointed out. 🙂

    • Gizmo says:

      Blame it on lack zoning laws or a love for all that’s cheesy, but you’re right we do have a lot of strange things to see along our roadsides

  14. That was a good report! If you have never played in the snow you need to come play in it. We’ll see you Saturday at Sarge’s sledding hill!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  15. snoopys@snoopysdogblog says:

    They look pretty cool!! I’m glad he’s allowed to keep them there 🙂

    I hope you’re having a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

  16. If you’re ever in Naples, FL, stop in and see my cousin Fluffbomb. He has a doggy brofur too. BTW, is that Bates guy any relation to Norman?

    • Gizmo says:

      We’ll be sure to visit Fluffbomb and his brofur next time we’re there…momz used to have a geocache by the entrance to the Bates RV Center called “Norman Hits the Road” 😉

  17. Ann Paws says:

    Very cool! This is something my dad would probably like.

  18. ilovecats says:

    Hehe… I remember seeing this for the first time on the way to Disneyworld. 🙂 I still think its neat.

  19. Thank you Gizmo 🙂 When I get up early and check out the blog, no one has posted yet, then when I’m in bed, posts pop up..BOL I just didn’t want to miss it 🙂 xxxxxxxxx Big hugs Oh and Mommy hasn’t even gt big boobies..BAAAWWAAAHHAAAA XXX

    Mollie and Alfie

    • Gizmo says:

      I figgered it was the time thing Mollie and didn’t want you to miss out on the location…Glad you asked me about it…No one’s momz could have boobz ‘that big’ Mollie…couldn’t stand up if she did BOL!

  20. Love your travel thursday idea. Looking forward to next week!

  21. Mark says:

    I too love the Travel Thursday idea. Please keep it going.

  22. Peta Love says:

    Whoa! I’d love to visit that place! Hey, Gizmo – did you get to make waterstreams on the Airstreams? You so fine.

  23. ET says:

    Gizmo, Among Travel Trailers, Airstream is a work of ART. There was once an aircraft manufacture who also built mobile Homes called ‘Spartan‘ looked very much liked Airstream. Both of these products are and was top of the line.

  24. As a kid I grew up in south Georgia, and we usta go to Florida all the time. So I just love Florida it brings back lots of childhood memories! Anyways in the future if I happen to be passing by Tampa area I will totally have to check this place out! =)

  25. Old Grognard says:

    We travel I-4 fairly often, and I’ve seen these sitting (standing?) by the roadside for many years. I had no idea their existence was in jeopardy as recently as last year.

    Do they look weird? Yes. Are they art? Maybe. Do they hurt anyone by being there? Of course not! The neighbors need to calm down.

  26. Pingback: 13 Things I Found on the Internet Today (Vol. CXVII) | Go Tripping

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