One thing the pandemic has done is drive people outdoors. It's the one area of the economy that is booming.

Camping reservations skyrocketed across the U.S. this past summer. Sales of recreational vehicles and campers soared to unprecedented levels. The demand has been so great that manufacturers have had a hard time keeping up.

If you are lucky enough to own a travel trailer, it likely has appreciated in value regardless of its condition. Vintage travel trailers and tear-drop campers are in vogue.

People want to travel without staying in hotel rooms or flying on airplanes. That's what motivated me to look at travel trailers earlier this year. I could not find anything within my budget locally. I looked too late.

There's a new place on Range Line Road where you can dream that dream of owning a travel trailer. Fun for the People by Roper has opened where Howard's Tire Center and the Tartan Traders flea market used to be. The property, located where North Hodgdon Road meets Range Line, is getting a major makeover and has a new office under construction. Roper already has a strong presence in the area that includes the Honda, Kia and Mitsubishi dealerships.

A salesman there told me people already are checking out the all-terrain vehicles and other specialized vehicles on the lot, including side-by-side utility vehicles, Polaris Slingshots and other three-wheeled motorcycles. Some of these vehicles look and probably behave like open-air roadsters. You can also find jet skis there and a selection of travel trailers that are ready to roll.

A track has been created on the property that permits you to test drive a utility vehicle before you buy it.

In doing some research on travel-trailer sales, I learned that people who live along the Gulf Coast are using them to evacuate when a hurricane approaches. That, too, is fueling the demand for them. I found that to be fascinating.

Growing up, I spent at least a week each summer camping with my family at the Viney Creek public access point to Table Rock Lake. My father designed and built his own pop-up camper trailer. Every trip produced some memorable incident that would become part of the story of our family. The fact that families during this pandemic are spending more time together outdoors camping has got to be a positive development at a time when there are so few.

New Domino's

The new Domino's Pizza, 610 S. Madison St. in Webb City, opened last week. I visited the store on Wednesday to check out the design and to order a medium thin-crust pepperoni pizza to go.

What a great design for a pizza store. It's modern, if not stylish. There's even a turnaround in the parking lot for speedy pickup. Emily Elwell, one of the owners, told me several features were added to the store to improve efficiency and production. Also added to the original design were more hand-washing stations.

I normally get my pizza from the Pizza Hut on South Main Street in Joplin. I go there because it's good and close to where I live. It had been a while since I had ordered a pizza from Domino's. I was out the door within 11 minutes of placing my order and with free Parmesan cheese to boot. Of course, the smell of hot pizza in my car was too much to resist. When I opened the box, I remembered that Domino's cuts its pizza into squares. How convenient for a trip down Range Line Road. The crust was crisp, and there was no skimping on the ingredients. It was a great value for $9.70, including tax.

Elwell told me that the store at 2316 S. Maiden Lane in Joplin will be moving to Seventh Street at some point in the months ahead. She said that store has an average delivery time of 18 minutes. That includes the food preparation. That's incredible.

How sad

Joplin's Northstar 14 movie complex, owned by Regal Cinemas and located on the east side of Northpark Mall, went dark last week. The parent company suspended operations at all 536 Regal theaters nationwide on Thursday, affecting 40,000 employees across the U.S.

After closing on March 16, the theater reopened on Aug. 21 for a trial run with robust safety measures in place. A combination of factors, including the delayed release of major movies until next year, contributed to the closing.

If you have news about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an email to wkennedy@joplinglobe.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.

Wally Kennedy is a reporter and columnist for The Joplin Globe.