Luxurious RVs For Life On The Road

The level of comfort and luxury in recreational vehicles varies wildly from basic pop-up trailers and truck campers to opulent and massive diesel pushers motor coaches.

These luxurious condo on wheels often take their interior cues from luxury yachts, with leather upholstery, fine wood cabinetry, and a slew of other high-end amenities. These plush land yachts will make you forget you’re not staying at a plush luxury hotel or spa. Whether you rent or buy, following are four options to inspire your next road trip.

Millennium Luxury Coach 

Millennium Luxury Coach

Millennium Luxury Coach

You’ll be blown away by the efficiency and innovation of a Millennium Luxury Coach.

The opulent features in the 2015 Millennium line—including a sink top glass bowl in the bathroom, quartz countertops, and Swarovski crystal accent fixtures—put this traveling home in a category of its own. The 45-foot, quad-slide 2015 Millennium H3-45 Prevost conversion is powered by a Volvo D-13 diesel engine.

Millennium is a family owned company with over 20 years history in the marine, aviation, and luxury coach building industry.

American Coach

2015 American Eagle 45A in Pacific Royale interior décor and Rich Caramel wood cabinetry

2015 American Eagle 45A in Pacific Royale interior décor and Rich Caramel wood cabinetry

The 2015 American Eagle by American Coach is outfitted with the latest and greatest perks, including polished porcelain tile floor, a cedar-lined wardrobe, shower skylight, central vacuum system, and dishwasher. Or customize your own luxury motorhome and add a washer/dryer, satellite dish, and heated tile floors.

American Coach is available in four lines—Revolution (approximately $400,000), Tradition (approximately $460,000), Eagle (approximately $620,000), and Heritage (approximately $850,000).

American Coach is manufactured in Decatur, Indiana, by Allied Recreation Group.

Thor Motor Coach

2015 Thor Motor Coach Tuscany

2015 Thor Motor Coach Tuscany

The 2015 Tuscany Diesel covers all the bases and then some. Amenities like an electric built-in fireplace, full-sized stainless steel fridge, and a cushioned dining booth will practically make you forget you’re living on the road.

The Thor Motor Coach flagship luxury Class A Motorhome offers the ultimate in beauty, styling, and power in the most livable floor plans with all the high-end amenities. The wide-open floor plans are complimented by premium Comfort-fit by Villa custom furniture, polished porcelain tile with elegant inlay, and hand crafted solid wood cabinetry.

The 2015 Tuscany is available in six floor plans ranging in length from 41 feet to 45 feet.



2015 Newmar King Aire Diesel Motor Coach

2015 Newmar King Aire Diesel Motor Coach

Newmar is a world leader in making incomparable luxury coaches that offer comfort, durability, quality, and reliability. Newmar continues to raise the bar when it comes to luxury diesel motorhomes.

For 2015 Newmar offers four lines of luxury motor coaches—Mountain Aire, London Aire, Essex, and the top of the line King Aire. Available in five distinct floor plans with four different wood colors to pick from along with four interior decors, the 2015 King Aire is powered by a 600HP Cummins ISX15 and the paint graphics are extended over the windows for a clean look.

Five years ago, Newmar created the ultimate combination of advanced technology and intelligent design. The Newmar Comfort Drive Steering System is one of the most significant innovations in motor coach drivability ever. And it’s another innovative feature that defines the Newmar difference.

For over 40 years, the Newmar mission has been to create recreational vehicles that are unlike any others.


Create only memories with an Airstream

Create only memories with an Airstream

As soon as you invoke the word Airstream, people get the attraction. It’s a part of American culture that transcends time. Airstream, manufacturer of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest and most recognized recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.

In 1931, Airstream began with Wally Byam’s dream: to build a travel trailer that would move like a stream of air, be light enough to be towed by a car, and create first-class accommodations anywhere.

Every inch of an Airstream has a function. Airstream is the most thoroughly tested brand in trailer history. Its engineering is the culmination of over 80 years of experience plus millions of miles on roads throughout the world.

Worth Pondering…

Stop wishing; start planning: A goal without a plan is just a wish.

—Larry Elder

Posted in RV Lifestyle, RV Manufactures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bird Photography is What I like to Do

With binoculars, scopes, and gazes turned to the skies, birders are often easier to spot than their feathered friends.

Green jay takes a bath in Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, headquarters for World Birding Center. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Green jay takes a bath in Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, headquarters for World Birding Center. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Birding has become one of the fastest-growing and most popular activities in the U.S. and around the world. An estimated 30 percent of all Americans go birding each year.

According to an U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study, birdwatchers contribute over 36 billion dollars annually to the nation’s economy.
Bird watching is also one of the few activities open to all ages and levels of ability.

Getting Started

It doesn’t take much to get started in bird watching. You don’t need special hiking boots or clothing and you don’t require special equipment. Birds can be observed with the naked eye, although a pair of binoculars makes the experience more enjoyable.

Field Guides

Using one or more field guides are also recommended.

The choice of a field guide for birding can be a very personal thing. Partly it depends on what you want from your field guide; partly on how you process information.

Sibley Guide to Birds

Eastern and Western editions of The Sibley Field Guide of Birds of North America.

Eastern and Western editions of The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of North America.

The Sibley Guide to Birds is THE North American bird book if you’re a serious birder.

The volume covers all the birds, and most of the plumages of all the birds you can find in Canada and the United States. If you have more than a passing fancy, it’s well worth owning. Its large size makes it generally impractical for use as a field guide. Alternately you may opt to purchase this guide in smaller Eastern and Western editions as we have.

Kaufmann Field Guide to Birds of North America

Kaufmann Field Guide to Birds of North America is also THE guide to own. The text is clear and the illustrations are very well done. Kenn Kaufman took the illustrations from photographs and digitally enhanced them to bring out the species characteristics. This field guide quickly became my reference guide of choice.

Record Keeping

Keep a list of the birds you’ve seen.

A great way for birders to keep track of the species they’ve seen is with a “life list”.

The standard procedure for recording a species you’ve seen for the first time is to include the common name, the date and time, and location. Special notes regarding identification, weather conditions, or unusual plumage are often useful for later reference.

Many birders maintain their list by recording their sightings in their favorite field guide. This is a handy approach, but more than one bird watcher has managed to lose a field guide, and also their life list at the same time.

Some birding websites also make it easy for you to maintain a life list directly on-line.

If you decide to become even more serious about keeping lists of the birds you have seen, there are several PC-based packages that make it easy to create and manage your lists.

Birding with a Camera

Bird Photographers wait in predawn light for the sandhill cranes lift-off at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bird Photographers wait in predawn light for the sandhill cranes lift-off at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A small but increasing number of birders have started to combine photography with their love of birdwatching.

It has been my experience that birding groups aren’t overly photography friendly.

Birdwatching runs at a faster pace and photographers are often considered a slowing threat for the listing expectations of the group. With their high powered scopes birders don’t require the same proximity to birds as do photographers.

As a result of past experiences I now tend to avoid groups of birders or at least maintain a distant presence. However, my encounters with individual birders have been pleasant and meaningful often sharing insights into our particular focus.

Although I deeply enjoy birding, I still consider myself first and foremost a photographer and writer. As a birder, I want to find and enjoy new birds, observe their behavior, and document what I see. As a photographer, I want to photograph birds in good light and a pleasing background, and above all return to my motorhome with quality photos.

I now take photos of birds with two purposes in mind.


The Black-vented Oriole made its home a short distance from our RV site at Bentsen Palm Village. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Black-vented Oriole made its home a short distance from our RV site at Bentsen Palm Village. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I rarely carry binoculars with me. I can more quickly find a bird and observe it with the telephoto lens on my Canon D-SLR camera. When photographing a bird species for the first time, I’ll use my photo to help me identify the bird once the image has been downloaded to my computer.

Artistic Expression

Beyond and including simple identification, I want my photos to be artistic paying attention to form and composition, sharpness and exposure. I want to avoid compositions where the background will compete with the foreground for attention.

And that’s what gives me the greatest joy in photography and birding.

Worth Pondering…

Have you ever observed a hummingbird moving about in an aerial dance among the flowers—a living prismatic gem…. it is a creature of such fairy-like loveliness as to mock all description.

—W.H. Hudson, Green Mansion

Posted in Birding, Photography, RV Lifestyle, Snowbird, Wildlife Refuge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pacific Coachworks Introduces Pacifica Fifth Wheel

Perris, California-based Pacific Coachworks Inc. has announced the introduction of its new Pacifica fifth-wheel product line.

Pacifica 5th Wheel 245RE

Pacifica fifth Wheel 245RE

The Pacifica was developed after receiving continuous requests from RV dealers seeking a high-profile fifth-wheel to be built on the West Coast, according to a company news release.

The new product line will offer many upgraded amenities including a top notch entertainment center from Furrion.

“We recognized the void or lack of manufacturers producing such a product in this market,” said Jeff Daily, Pacific Coachworks general manager.

“We are excited to be the first.”

The Pacifica fifth-wheel will unveil with five floor plans that will include two choices of interior wood grains. Its prototypes are near completion and Pacific Coachworks is scheduled to begin production of the new product on or before October 1.

The five Pacifica fifth wheel models include:

295RK (Exterior Length: 33 feet 7 inches)

Pacifica 5th Wheel 295RK

Pacifica fifth Wheel 295RK

295RB (Exterior Length: 34 feet 4 inches)

275RL (Exterior Length: 32 feet 5 inches)

275RE (Exterior Length: 30 feet 5 inches)

245RE (Exterior Length: 28 feet 8 inches)

Common specifications include:

Fresh Water Tank Capacity: 85 gallons

Grey Water Tank Capacity: 50 gallons

Black Water Tank Capacity: 50 gallons

Air Conditioner: 15.0 BTU ducted

Ducted Furnace

Tankless Water Heater

Ceiling Fan

Microwave Oven

Oven Range with Cook Top

Walk-in Pantry

Power Jacks

Outside Shower

Entertainment Center

Docking Station

Pacifica 5th Wheel 275RL

Pacifica fifth Wheel 275RL


Pacific Coachworks Inc

Pacific Coachworks was founded in 2006 as a manufacturer of high quality recreational vehicles. Pacific Coachworks proudly boasts travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, and toy haulers in various sizes.

Pacific Coachworks currently manufactures the following towable lines: Econ travel trailers, Mighty Lite travel trailers, Panther travel trailers, Tango travel trailers, Powerlite toy haulers, Sandsport toy haulers, Rage’n toy haulers, and Pacifica fifth wheel trailers.

Phone: (951) 686-7294


Worth Pondering…

The attraction of recreational vehicle travel is to see the country, visit new places, meet interesting people, and experience the freedom of the open road.

Posted in RV Dealers, RV Manufactures | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

More Celebrities Who Own RVs

When you think of celebrities, you might not picture them tooling around the country in an RV. And yet, there are numerous celebrities who have grown to love the RV lifestyle, either due to a fear of flying or just a love of cross-country travel.

The Madden Cruiser at the Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, LA., on Sunday February 3, 2002. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect)

The Madden Cruiser at the Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, LA., on Sunday February 3, 2002. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect)

These celebrity trailers and diesel pushers are a scale-up from your average weekend trailer, but the free-wheeling sense of travel is there. These celebrities have been lured in by the intoxicating mixture of open road and the luxuries of home. In short—they’re RV people.

John Madden, the well-known football coach turned TV sportscaster, turned away from the back and forth world of flying cross country when in 1979 he suffered a serious panic attack.  The confined space of a commercial aircraft without the ability to exit at any time triggered a claustrophobic reaction in Madden. In order to travel to NFL games to call, he got around in “The Madden Cruiser,” a tour bus that doubles as an RV with all of the comforts of home.

Dolly Parton isn’t famous for doing anything small, and that extends to the extravagant RV she uses on tour. You can see it in the photo below—and there’s no mistaking this RV for anyone’s but Dolly’s.

The 1939 Charles Lindbergh Travel Trailer was recently up for auction in Carmel, California. Skinned in aluminum to reduce weight and enhance appearance, the trailer boasts two axles, one at each end. The design gave the trailer a great deal of stability when parked for overnight stops and did not require that the tongue be supported on jacks when unhitched from the tow vehicle. Its interior is furnished with well-preserved oak paneling. This legend’s trailer was expected to fetch anywhere from $150,000-200,000.

Dolly Parton's custom tour bus

Dolly Parton’s custom tour bus

Twentieth Century Fox spent a rumored $75,000 in 1960s dollars ($560,000 in today’s dollars) to build a fully customized 36-foot dressing room/trailer for Elizabeth Taylor during the filming of Cleopatra. Designed in the theme of the Egyptian/Roman epic, the 36-foot Aljo trailer featured rose-colored carpeting, hand-painted ceilings, hand-painted bedroom murals, detailed crown moldings, custom makeup dresser and vanity, full columns mounted on the walls, and other columned furniture and decorative pieces. This special hideaway was designed to make the star feel like the Queen of Egypt.

A 1931 Chevrolet based custom made housecar was one of the enticements offered by Paramount Studios to get Mae West to leave the Vaudeville circuit and begin to make movies from them. It is designed as a chauffeur-driven lounge car and not as a camper unit. It features a hot plate stove, an icebox, and a small table to enjoy lunch. It was used for several years to transport Miss West from her home or hotel to shooting locations.

Vintage Mobile Dressing Room used during filming of Cleopatra in 1963. (Credit: Premiere Props)

Vintage Mobile Dressing Room used during filming of Cleopatra in 1963. (Credit: Premiere Props)

Some folks prefer a more homely mobile home, others prefer a bit of extravagance in their RVs. Pamela Anderson falls into the latter category with her highly customized Airstream trailer, a gift from Hugh Hefner. The Lovestream came with a number of unusual and unique features like mirrored ceilings, white carpeting, playboy bunny logos on some of the furnishing, a round vibrating bed, stripper pole, and a mirror ball.

Nowadays, you can’t help but pay a lot for a feature-laden motorhome. However, the expensive madness goes over the top with the opulent slightly bizarre luxury eleMMent Palazzo.

Recently sold for a staggering $3 million in sunny Dubai, the Palazzo features two floors of entertainment and extravagance, with a giant master suite, multiple bars, and a liftable “flybridge” lounge up top. It also features a pop-up cocktail lounge, a living room complete with a fireplace and a ginormous 40-inch TV set, and a master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom.

The ultra-luxury RV can reach 93 mph despite its 44,000-pound (22-ton) weight. A step up from the Palazzo is the eleMMent Viva–V.I.P. shuttle.

Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie took an Airstream with them when they filmed their Simple Life road trip show for MTV.

Along similar lines, other celebrities have also taken fondly to RVs.

1931 Mae West Housecar

1931 Mae West Housecar as viewed at RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Brad Pitt owns a vintage 345 Airstream that he likes to call The Love Sub. According to sources Brad lived in the Sub for a short while during 2005, after his split from Jennifer Anniston.

Other Airstream owners include Anthony Edwards, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, John Ratzenberger, JJ Cale, Corbin Bernsen, Rutger Hauer, Sean Penn, David Duchovny, Tim Burton, Brian Johnson, Andy Garcia, Matthew Modine, Denzel Washington, and Johnny Depp.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series on Celebrities And Their RVs

Worth Pondering…

I’ve gone from being a major league pitcher to a major league RV owner. I’ll travel roughly 5,000 miles in my RV this year. It’s a great way to see America, and as relaxed a way to see the country as there can possibly be.

—Jim Kaat, former major league baseball pitcher

Posted in RV Lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

August 2014 RV Manufacturer Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently announced two recall notice involving two recreational vehicle/chassis manufacturers—Starcraft and Thor Motor Coach.

Starcraft RV

Starcraft logoMiddlebury, Indiana-based Starcraft RV (Starcraft) is recalling certain model year 2015 18QB AR-One travel trailers manufactured June 18, 2014, to June 23, 2014. The affected vehicles may have an incorrect Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC) label. As such, these trailers fail to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 110, “Tire selection and rims and motor home/recreation vehicle trailer load carrying capacity information for motor vehicles with a GVWR of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) or less.”

The incorrect cargo carrying capacity information may result in the overloading of the trailer and exceeding the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). An overloaded trailer that exceeds the GVWR it may have sudden tire failure, increasing the risk of a crash.

None of the affected travel trailers have been sold. Starcraft dealers will replace the incorrect label with new labels showing the correct information, free of charge. The recall began in July 2014. Owners may contact Starcraft customer service at 1-800-945-4787.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach; North America's Best Selling Motorhome BrandElkhart, Indiana-based Thor Motor Coach (Thor) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Axis and Vegas motorhomes manufactured August 2, 2013, to June 18, 2014. Due to the use of an incorrect adhesive, the treads on the entry stairs into the vehicle may come loose.

Loose stair treads can result in a person slipping and falling, increasing the risk of injury.

Thor will notify owners, and dealers will reinstall the stair treads with the correct adhesive and additional screws, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in August 2014. Owners may contact Thor customer service at 1-877-500-1020. Thor’s number for this recall is RC000090.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to

Please Note: This is the 39th in a series of articles relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

Success is peace of mind in knowing you did your best.

—John Wooden

Posted in RV Dealers, RV Manufactures, RV Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caravisio—The RV of the Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

In an earlier report in Vogel Talks RV, I introduce the yacht-inspired Caravisio, dubbed The RV of the Future.

Caravisio—The RV of the Future

Caravisio—The RV of the Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

The Caravisio reflects a collective vision of what may be technologically possible in the future.

Based on both a futuristic and innovative vision of German manufacturer Knaus Tabbert, an expert group of industry-established and external suppliers and designers was established with the objective to develop the caravan of the future. Development work lasted two years, from the first sketch to the completely designed and assembled caravan.

More than just a single manufacturer’s idea, the Caravisio represents collaboration between more than 20 different companies and industry experts.

Like the classic Bowlus Road Chief and Airstream Land Yacht, the Caravisio design concept received inspiration from yacht construction as well as the future.

The Knaus Tabbert Caravisio, or The Caravan of the Future makes its first appearance at the UK National Motorhome and Caravan Show held at The NEC Birmingham, October 14-19, 2014.

Caravisio—The RV of the Future

Caravisio—The RV of the Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

The Caravisio is displayed by Lowdhams, a 50-year-old retailer of motorhomes and caravans in the UK. Lowdham is the main organizer for Knaus Tabbert in the UK, and will also display a range of 2015 motorhomes.

The Motorhome and Caravan Show, UK’s largest motorhome and caravanning event, is the only UK event where visitors will have the opportunity to check out the RV of the Future.

Caravisio is designed to demonstrate how modern technology and cutting-edge concepts of design can be incorporated into touring caravans.

So what does the RV of the Future look like?

The Caravisio features some truly amazing technologically innovative elements including a fingerprint entry system, a fully controllable air suspension, and a frosted smart glass dual-paned sliding door. These can be controlled by your smart phone using an app, as well as your laptop or tablet.

Caravisio—The RV of the Future

Caravisio—The RV of the Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

Other features include:

Charging system for electric bikes, plus bike storage facility

Movable rear sun roof

Integrated rear spoiler

Side skirts

Self leveling system

A full HD projection system

Air-conditioning equipment

Carivisio’s shell design with its pointed front-end was put through intense wind tunnel testing to create superior aerodynamic performance.

Caravisio—The RV of the Future

Caravisio—The RV of the Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

Single beds in the bullet shaped front are arranged in a V-shape and can be turned into a large double bed by way of a mattress extension, with a massive panoramic window letting light inside.

The bed positions also allow for improved aerodynamics. Attempting to transfer standards and comfort features from full-sized motorhomes to caravans, a fuller, more spacious bathroom is placed next to the front cockpit. The shower and washroom features an intelligent water control system with a storage function controlled by a touch-screen display.

The actual living room extends through an open rear door with adjoining veranda, designed like the salon of a yacht. With little effort the seating group can be converted from a comfortable lounge into a modern workroom. The seating plan can also be converted from a comfortable lounging space to a convenient working area.

Color and trim of the interior are in line with the latest maritime interior trends: Light oak, white lacquer front in matte, contrasting black glass, blue ornamental seam, and dark ship parquet floor. The cushions are air-suspended and can be easily adjusted to ensure best-possible ergonomic sitting positions.

Caravisio took an impressive two years to develop, and the result is outstanding. With innovative new technology, and a décor that impresses, The RV of the Future must be seen to be fully appreciated.

Worth Pondering…

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

—Albert Einstein

Posted in RV Dealers, RV Lifestyle, RV Manufactures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

On a cool Wednesday in March this year, a couple was enjoying their RV at a KOA campground in Nashville. Their bodies were discovered by family members who traveled to Nashville to check on the couple after they were unable to reach them for several days.

Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

One of the propane-gas stove burners had been left on accidentally, police said, filling the air with carbon monoxide. The RV had a carbon monoxide detector, but, it had no batteries. The couple had been living at the campground for about six months, according to WRCB-TV.

Every year on average, over 400 people die in the United States of carbon monoxide poisoning that’s not fire-related. Thousands more are treated and sometimes hospitalized.

The Columbia (Missouri) Tribune reports that carbon monoxide poisoning is to blame in the death of a couple in rural Pike County. They were found in a small camper where they had been living. The coroner concluded that a propane space heater in the camper likely caused carbon monoxide poisoning.

Usually, we think of this as a winter issue. That’s when gas-producing generators and fireplaces generally get fired up. But in northern areas where summertime camping is popular, carbon monoxide remains a concern in all seasons.


Carbon monoxide is produced when you burn any one of various fuels, including wood, charcoal, kerosene, stove oil, and propane. Camping stoves and grills are sources. So are internal combustion engines, like those in generators.

Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

One of the things that makes carbon monoxide so dangerous is it has no odor or color. Your only clues that you’re being poisoned may be general symptoms easily attributed to another problem. Or, if you’re asleep or intoxicated, you may not detect the poisoning at all.

So it’s important to prevent carbon monoxide from becoming an issue in the first place. Fortunately, there are good ways to do that:

Use portable generators outside only. Place far away from windows, doors, and vents. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 20 feet.) Point the exhaust away from your RV, tent, or house.

Never use a stove or grill to heat your tent, camper, or house. Even a warm, unlit grill is dangerous; warm coals continue producing carbon monoxide. The grill lid doesn’t protect you. Instead, for camping, remember to pack plenty of blankets and coats.

Grill in open air only, not even in a garage.

Don’t use a portable lantern when sleeping in a tent or RV. Bring flashlights and extra batteries instead.

Ensure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Test it monthly, and change the batteries every six months.

Don’t ride or let your children ride in the bed of a covered pickup truck, such as one with a camper shell. Exhaust fumes can gather in there.

Inspect the RV for openings in the floor and sidewalls (seal any holes with silicone adhesive or have it repaired before using your generator again). Inspect windows, door seals, and weather strips for effective seal.

Yellow flames in propane-burning appliances (coach heaters, stoves, ovens, water heaters, etc.) indicate a lack of oxygen—determine the cause and correct it immediately.


Carbon Monoxide: Odorless & DEADLY In All Seasons

Inspect the RV chassis and generator exhaust system regularly to ensure they are working properly. “Inspect for exhaust leaks at every startup and after every eight hours of running,” recommends Keystone RV Company in a carbon monoxide fact sheet. Here are a few more of their tips:

Don’t use exhaust fans when the generator’s running. They could cause carbon monoxide to be sucked into the RV.

Fully open or close slide-outs for a proper seal.

Know that parking in a confined space can reduce airflow around the RV and cause carbon monoxide to build up. Even in the woods, if there’s a lot of natural covering, carbon monoxide can hover there rather than disperse. High humidity can also create a covering.

Be aware that shifting winds can cause exhaust to blow away from the coach at one moment, but under the coach in the next moment.

Nearby RVs and vehicles can affect you too. In 2008 in Indianapolis, one man died in his RV from carbon monoxide poisoning and three of his family members were hospitalized, but the family hadn’t been using a generator. Police believe their air conditioner may have pulled in carbon monoxide from the RV parked close to them.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

Posted in RV Safety, RV Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

$4.3 Million Class Action Fraud Verdict In Membership Camping Case

In previous articles on Vogel Talks RVing, I’ve discussed membership camping—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Securities-settlements-gavel-money-article-25In an earlier article I reviewed the current information, misinformation, and confusion about membership camping in order to assist the consumer in making a more informed decision.

Today’s post details an ugly aspect of membership camping as it pertains to one—and I emphasize, only one— membership campground system—Halo Resorts Inc.

Halo Resorts consists of two campgrounds located in southern California between San Bernardino and Palm Springs—Oak Glen Retreat (38955 Oak Glen Road, Yucaipa) and Fisherman’s Retreat (32300 San Timoteo Canyon Road, Redding).

After a two week trial, a San Bernardino Superior Court jury reached a unanimous fraud verdict for intentional misrepresentation, concealment, and negligent misrepresentation and awarded $3.585 million in damages and $750,000 in punitive damages to 2,500 members who purchased campground memberships and/or paid membership fees to Halo Resorts Inc. from December 16, 2007 to February 20, 2013, according to a written announcement from one of the law firms in the case.

fraudPrevention“A jury found Halo Resorts falsely represented to its members that it was entitled to charge these fees and concealed the fact that they were not entitled to charge the fees,” said attorney Kitty Szeto with the R. Rex Parris law firm who tried the case with attorney Kevin Shenkman of Shenkman and Hughes law firm.

“For several years, Halo Resorts has sold a ‘lifetime membership’ to thousands of consumers over those years. Essentially, the membership entitled consumers to utilize the facilities and amenities at Halo Resorts’ two membership campgrounds, and obligated members to pay annual dues to Halo Resorts,” said Szeto.

“Halo Resorts charged its members fees that were never disclosed in their contracts and in violation of the California Membership Camping Act. Members were charged termination fees, transfer fees, and were tricked into going to the campgrounds to take a new photo ID but then were forced into 10 -by-10 rooms and were presented with different options: (1) to leave their memberships alone but then their annual dues would increase and they would be assessed a $60 monthly surcharge for the next five years; (2) purchase an upgrade (gold, silver, or bronze for $3,994 and up) which essentially gave them nothing more than what they already paid for; and (3) terminate their membership by paying $2,350. Unconscionably, consumers were forced to make a decision that day within the hour,” said Szeto.

A judge will be deciding three remaining claims (violation of the California Membership Camping Act, Unfair Competition, and Unjust Enrichment).

Case Name: Wilkinson v. Halo Resorts, Inc. - Case No. CIV DS 1114158.

If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, click the link below and your complaint will be sent to a consumer frauds lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.

Disclaimer: I am a member of Thousand Trails, Western Horizon Resorts, and Passport America camping club but do not represent them or sell memberships.

Worth Pondering…

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.

—Peter Drucker

Posted in Campgrounds, Camping | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Facts About Airstream

Airstream, manufacturer of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest and most recognized recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.

1958 Airstream Der Kleine Prinz

1958 Airstream Der Kleine Prinz (The Little Prince) at the RVMH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The design of the Airstream was based on an airplane fuselage with lightweight aluminum and the effect was stunning, sleek, and silver.

Founder Wally Byam stated in 1936 that he is in business “to make people’s dreams come true.”

When Airstream began, there were less than 48 trailer manufacturers that were registered for business. Five years later, nearly 400 companies squared off against each other. Today of those 400 companies, only Airstream remains.

Born in the California backyard of inventor Wally Byam and inspired by a trailer designed by Hawley Bowlus, the famed chief builder of The Spirit of St. Louis, the Airstream’s modernist aesthetic has remained relatively unchanged in eight decades, and its industrial durability has earned a reputation without peer with more than 65 percent of all Airstreams still on the road today.

Following founder Wally Byam’s credo, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements,” Airstream has remained a timeless classic throughout its 82-year history.

Wally Byam designed his first Airstream in 1931, and the current versions still maintain that early, distinctive look. Shiny, sleekly rounded and riveted together, the aluminum recreational trailers have been rolling down the highway since before there was an interstate system, picking up legions of loyalists along the way.

Wally Byam pulls his '30s Airstream in a promo.

Wally Byam pulls his ’30s Airstream in a promo.

Airstreams have always had their fans, but now they are cashing in on their cult following, with sales that have recovered from the recession and prices that exceed the industry norm for both new and used trailers. These days Airstreams seem to be popular across the board, from young travelers who tether their bikes on the back, to seniors who spend their retirement seeing the country in their Airstream Flying Clouds or Land Yachts.

10 Facts About Airstream

1. A 1960 Airstream Bambi trailer has a permanent home at New York’s Museum of Modern Art as an example of excellence in design.

2. The aluminum outer shell of the Airstream is based on an airplane fuselage design. Its rounded corners make it more aerodynamic, cutting drag by 20 percent and increasing fuel mileage.

3. Airstreamers love to attend rallies and travel in caravans around the nation, and the world. The first official Wally Byam Caravan Club was formed in 1955 in Nova Scotia. One of the earliest caravan routes was up the length of Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo.

Life on the Road in an Airstream with Matthew McConaughey

Life on the Road in an Airstream with Matthew McConaughey

4. Airstreams have some famous fans. Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Adrian Brody, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Lenny Kravitz, and Sean Penn are just a few celebrity Airstream owners. In fact, Matthew McConaughy lived in a 28-foot Airstream for several years in Malibu before buying a house there, which still has enough property for the three Airstreams he now owns.

5. President John F. Kennedy used an Airstream for a mobile office when he spent time in White Sands, New Mexico, checking out Army innovations.

6. Designer Ralph Lauren transformed four vintage Airstream trailers a dozen years ago and auctioned them off to raise money for his foundation, which benefits medically underserved patients.

7. After returning from the moon in 1969, Neil Armstrong and other members of the Apollo 11 crew were quarantined for three weeks in an Airstream to determine whether they had been exposed to lunar pathogens.

Create only memories with an Airstream

Create only memories with an Airstream

8. When flying to visit the troops in Afghanistan, first lady Laura Bush spent time in her own private Airstream on board the plane.

9. A 1957 Airstream trailer became one of the early symbols of MTV. It was displayed outside its headquarters in Santa Monica, California.

10. Two classics combined in 2009 when Airstream partnered with Victorinox Swiss Army for a world tour in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the original Swiss Army knife.

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band, I saw a needle that winked its eye. But I think I will have seen everything When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

Posted in RV Manufactures | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Gulf Coast Habitat Becomes State Park

A multi-partner coalition including the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) Foundation has announced the purchase of the 17,351-acre Powderhorn Ranch along the Texas Gulf Coast in Calhoun County.

Wetland Marsh Waterways at Powderhorn Lake

Wetland Marsh Waterways at Powderhorn Lake (Credit: Jerod Foster)

The acquisition will conserve a spectacular piece of property that is one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled coastal prairie in the state. At $37.7 million it is the largest dollar amount ever raised for a conservation land purchase in the state and represents a new partnership model of achieving conservation goals in an era of rapidly rising land prices.

In years to come, Powderhorn Ranch is expected to become a state park and wildlife management area.

Safeguarding this natural treasure has been contemplated for more than 30 years by several conservation organizations and wildlife agencies including The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Along with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), these organizations are playing a critical role in the acquisition and long-term conservation of this property.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is spearheading the fundraising for the $50 million project, which includes the purchase of the property, habitat restoration and management, as well as a long-term endowment.

Aerial Photo of Fringe Marshes Along Powderhorn Lake

Aerial Photo of Fringe Marshes Along Powderhorn Lake (Credit: Earl Nottingham/TPWD)

The real estate transaction has been more than two years in the making. Powderhorn Ranch was previously owned by Cumberland & Western Resources, LLC, whose primary investors are conservation-minded citizens who sold the property below its market value to ensure its permanent safekeeping.

A significant portion of the funding for the project is being provided by NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which was created with dollars paid by BP and Transocean in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. NFWF has committed $34.5 million over the next three years, making this the biggest land acquisition in the nation so far using BP spill restoration dollars.

The acquisition will protect in perpetuity unspoiled coastal land with forests of coastal live oak and intact wetlands. This range of habitats is perfect for public hunting, fishing, hiking, paddling, and bird watching. These nature tourism activities currently bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the Texas coast.

Cactus and Wetlands Along Powderhorn Lake

Cactus and Wetlands Along Powderhorn Lake (Credit: Jerod Foster)

The property also includes thousands of acres of freshwater wetlands and salt marshes that offer vital fish and wildlife habitat, provide natural filtering to improve water quality, and shield people and property from storm surges and sea level rise. The ranch includes more than eleven miles of tidal bay front on Matagorda Bay and provides habitat for hundreds of species of birds and animals, including the endangered whooping crane.


Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Founded in 1991, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is the non-profit funding partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.


National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation’s wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, the Foundation directs public conservation dollars to pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions.


The Conservation Fund

For nearly 30 years, The Conservation Fund has been saving special places across America. They have protected more than seven million acres nationwide including more than 193,000 acres of natural lands across Texas, including the Big Thicket National Preserve, Fort Davis National Historic Site, San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, and along the Neches River and the Gulf Coast.


The Nature Conservancy 

Powderhorn Ranch Regional Context Map

Powderhorn Ranch Regional Context Map (Credit: Earl Nottingham/TPWD)

The Nature Conservancy has been responsible for the protection of more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide and the operation of more than 100 marine projects globally. In the Lone Star State, The Nature Conservancy owns more than 30 nature preserves and conservation properties across Texas.


Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) operates 95 Texas state parks, natural areas and historic sites, 46 wildlife management areas, three saltwater fish hatcheries, and five freshwater hatcheries.


Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

What Texans can dream, Texans can do.

—George W. Bush

Posted in Public Recreation Areas, State Parks, Wildlife Refuge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment