RV Parking Rules: A Double Whammy

Rarely a week goes by without a media story about some community somewhere in the United States or Canada imposing restrictive rules, regulations, ordinances, and general hassles on owners of recreational vehicles.

RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban

RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban

Communities across the United States and Canada are reviewing and in many cases tightening up by-laws that regulate the parking of recreational vehicles. These are the issues that affect all of us RVers—right where we live and where we travel.

These restrictive RV parking ordinances tend to fall into one of two categories: those that directly impacts the home owner who wishes to park their RV either on their own property or on the street in front of their residence or the RVer who is traveling through a community and wishes to stop for a few hours to shop or to overnight in a public area such as Walmart or a truck stop.

Park restrictions on RV owners

Where and when should you be able to park your recreational vehicle at your own home? In your own yard? Along the city street in front of your house?

In previous posts on Vogel Talks RVing I have reported on communities in the United States and Canada imposing restrictive rules, regulations, ordinances, and general hassles on owners of recreational vehicles.

RV parking on private property has become a hot button issue for cities and RVers. For RVers, we’re simply looking for a place to park our RV off-season, during winter, or for any reason really.

For cities, they’re enforcing, however, selectively, ordinances already on the books to fine, tow, and cite those who park their RVs on private property. Why is this selectively enforced across the country?

There are several reasons why cities choose to selectively enforce these RV parking restrictions. For some, it’s a matter of complaints. If the city receives a high amount of complaints about a particular RV, they’re more likely to act. For others, it’s a matter of whether or not officials are driving by, notice a violation, and then issue a citation.

Staying in a Walmart parking lot. (Credit: mybirdie.ca)

Staying in a Walmart parking lot. (Credit: mybirdie.ca)

Many RV owners check with the city before parking their RV on their own property. They look at city zoning ordinances and make sure they’re not in violation. An issue can arise when the official they’ve talked to isn’t up-to-date on the ordinances surrounding RVs parked on private property. Down the line, years later even, RV owners find themselves cited or fined, sometimes worse, even after doing their due diligence and checking on RV ordinances for their city or town.

Then, it becomes a battle of RV owner versus the city. The city is always in the right, according to the law.

While this shouldn’t be an issue RVers have to worry about, it’s something they have to consider when they park their RV on private property they own.

Following are two cases recently played out in the media.

Bossier City, Louisiana

KTBS-TV reports that an ordinance recently passed by Bossier City Council states that residents cannot park their recreational vehicle or boat on the grass in their front or side yard. It also says residents cannot park them in the street if emergency vehicles can’t get around them or it obstructs the view of other drivers. RV owners failing to comply could be looking at a $250 a day fine in Bossier City.

San Diego, California

CBS 8 reports that starting August 1, the city of San Diego will begin enforcing a ban on recreational vehicles and other large vehicles parked on city streets from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
This ban was first approved by the city council last July, and was recently modified. According to the proposal, violators of the overnight parking ban would be assessed a fine of $100. San Diego residents who own RVs will be able to apply for 24-hour permits for $2 to park on the same block as their home, while preparing for trips.

RV UN-Friendly Communities

Staying in a Walmart parking lot. (Credit: rvonthego.blogspot.com)

Staying in a Walmart parking lot. (Credit: rvonthego.blogspot.com)

Numerous cities in the U.S. and Canada have enacted laws against the overnight parking of RVs in public areas. Unfortunately, this issue receives little, if any, local media coverage since it does not directly impact local citizens. As a result it is extremely difficult to obtain reliable and current information.

The city that keeps coming up again and again as being anti-RV is Flagstaff, Arizona, where no overnight parking is allowed anywhere for any reason. In fact, the Gypsy Journal reports being hassled by the local police for parking on the outside edge of a shopping center parking lot for several hour while eating at a local restaurant and shopping for a few provisions.

Other cities often mentioned in RV forums include Kingman, Arizona, and Billings, Montana.

GOD IS GREAT, BEER IS GOOD, and PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!

Worth Pondering…
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.

—Robert Frost

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July 2014 RV Manufacturer Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently announced four recall notices involving four recreational vehicle/chassis manufacturers—Tiffin, Starcraft, Gulf Stream, and Winnebago.

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc.

TiffinLogo-UnitRed Bay, Alabama-based Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain model year 2009-2011 Allegro, 2010-2011 Bus and Breeze, and 2008-2011 Phaeton and Zephyr recreational vehicles, equipped with LED clearance lights made by Command Electronics, Inc. In the affected vehicles, moisture may enter the light and cause a short between two connections on the circuit board.

A short in the circuit board increases the risk of a fire.

Tiffin will notify owners, and dealers will install a one amp inline fuse into the front and rear circuits that will blow if there is a short in any of the clearance lights, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in July 2014. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661.

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 www.safercar.gov.

Starcraft RV, Inc.

Starcraft logoMiddlebury, Indiana-based Starcraft RV, Inc. (Starcraft) is recalling certain model year 2014 Autumn Ridge, AR-ONE, and Travel Star Exp trailers manufactured February 13, 2014, through February 24, 2014. The affected trailers may have been built with frame spring hangers that may be brittle and susceptible to fracturing.

A spring hanger that fractures may result in a loss of control of the trailer, increasing the risk of a crash.

Starcraft will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the frame spring hangers, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin 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 www.safercar.gov.

Gulf Stream Coach, Inc.

gulf-stream-logoNappanee, Indiana-based Gulf Stream Coach, Inc. (Gulf Stream) is recalling certain model year 2014 Canyon Trail, Sedona, Kingsport, and Trail Master fifth wheel and travel trailers. In the affected vehicles, the rivets attaching the supports for the entry steps may fail, causing the steps to give when being used.

If the steps move during use, the user may slip or fall, increasing the risk of injury.

Gulf Stream will notify owners, and dealers will replace the support attaching rivets with bolts, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 16, 2014. Owners may contact Gulf Stream customer service at 1-800-289-8787. Gulf Stream’s number for this recall is FS110614.

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 www.safercar.gov.

Winnebago Industries, Inc

winnebago-quality-circle-award-255x144Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries, Inc (Winnebago) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Winnebago Travato, Trend, and Itasca Viva motorhomes manufactured November 13, 2013 through June 9, 2014, built on Ram ProMaster chassis. The affected vehicles may experience circuit corrosion from water intrusion around the in-floor battery cover and door footwell trim.

This water intrusion may affect the running of the vehicle and disable the air bags, stop lamps, turn signals, backup lights, and/or door locks, increasing the risk of a crash as well as injury to the occupants if the air bags do not deploy.

Chrysler on behalf of Winnebago will notify owners, and dealers will inspect all the connectors in the footwell areas, the ignition fuse and the occupant restraint control (ORC) module for corrosion, if corrosion is found, dealers will repair the connectors in the footwell area and the ignition fuse, and replace the ORC module.

Chrysler will also install a water barrier sealer on the floor, add di-electric grease to all footwell connectors and replace the body plug. The in-floor battery ignition fuse will be relocated, and add di-electric grease to the ORC module connector. These repairs will be performed, free of charge.

The recall is expected to begin in July 2014. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403 or Winnebago customer service at 1-800-537-1885. Chrysler’s number for this recall is P32.

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 www.safercar.gov.

Please Note: This is the 37th in a series of articles relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.

—Beverly Sills

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Good Sam Announces Top Scenic RV Parks for 2014

The Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory announced its list of Top scenic Parks for 2014.

Good Sam 2014-Top-Scenic-ShieldGood Sam editors and consultants chose the list of Scenic Parks from the annual publication’s database of 8,000 private parks.

These special parks are situated in some of the most attractive destinations in North America.

While putting together the list, the Good Sam RV Travel Guide’s editors and consultants included parks whose landscaping in many cases rivals the stellar landscapes of the surrounding areas.

The highlights of this list include:

  • For some parks, wildlife viewing is a key part of the guest experience. At Eagle’s Rest Campground in Valdez, Alaska, guests are frequently treated to glimpses of eagles gliding over the campground, with spectacular mountains, waterfalls, and views of Prince William Sound serving as the backdrop.
  • Some RV Parks strive to make their landscaping design as beautiful as the surrounding area. For example, Indian Waters RV Resort in Indio, California, boasts sprawling grass and desert vistas along with ponds and towering eucalyptus trees that harmonize with its surrounding desert landscape.
  • Many RV parks serve as jumping off points to scenic excursion. At Lake Mead Village on the shores of sprawling Lake Mead in southern Nevada, guests can go on sightseeing tours or hike nearby trails to take in some of the spectacular surrounding scenery.

Facts About Scenic RV Travel

Sculpted, chiseled, and twisted red rock formations more dramatic than most others we have seen dominate the Valley of Fire State Park's 42,000 acres. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sculpted, chiseled, and twisted red rock formations more dramatic than most others we have seen dominate the Valley of Fire State Park’s 42,000 acres. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to USA Today, the most scenic place in the United States is Sedona Arizona, followed by the view of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Mount Washington and the Upper Mississippi River.

DigitalCameraWorld.com advises photographers to take the time to get the right shot of scenery. Travelers should get out of the RV, find the optimal position and, if possible, use a tripod.

When planning a vacation based on scenery, travelers are advised to factor in the season. For example, trips to New England during the fall season are dramatically different than summer trips to that region.

Top Scenic RV Parks

Alaska
Eagle’s Rest RV Park & Cabins, Valdez

California
Indian Waters RV Resort & Cottages, Indio
Santa Nella RV Park, Santa Nella

Kansas
Deer Creek Valley RV Park Llc, Topeka

Nevada
Lake Mead RV Village, Boulder City

New Mexico
USA RV Park, Gallup

North Carolina
Fort Tatham RV Park, Sylva

Good Sam RV Travel Guide

The RV/MH Hall of Fame showcases the growth, history, and accomplishments of the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries, with displays and restored units dating back to 1913. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The RV/MH Hall of Fame showcases the growth, history, and accomplishments of the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries, with displays and restored units dating back to 1913. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A different category of Top Parks will be featured each month in articles released by the Good Sam RV Travel Guide.

In addition to comprehensive listings of RV parks and campgrounds across North America, the 2014 Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory features travel itineraries, helpful maps, and informative tips that RVers need for a journey anywhere in North America.

Additional camping and RV Travel information is available on the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory Camping Blog.

Worth Pondering…

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.

It is earth’s eye, looking into which, the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

—Henry David Thoreau

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Summer Time Means RVing Time

Hello summer!

Two desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, abut within Joshua Tree, dividing California's southernmost national park into two arid ecosystems of profoundly contrasting appearance. The key to their differences is elevation.

Two desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, abut within Joshua Tree, dividing California’s southernmost national park into two arid ecosystems of profoundly contrasting appearance. The key to their differences is elevation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

School is out, the sun is shining, and the open road beckons. The best part about summer RV road trips is the glorious freedom that comes with them. No beach is too far, no river is too long, no mountain is too high. Just get behind the wheel of an RV and go!

Is there no better time of year to explore the best of America’s National Parks? Summer means early morning fishing, pristine nature hikes, and RVing in the great outdoors.

A road trip to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Zion, Carlsbad Canyon, Mesa Verde is a time-honored tradition, but there are so many other options out there. For more ideas on National Parks to visit, be sure to visit here.

Tour the Alamo and River Walk in San Antonio, My Old Kentucky Home and Bourbon Country in Kentucky, RV/MH Museum & Hall of Fame in Elkhart and the Indiana Amish Country, or Brunswick and the Golden Isles in Georgia.

Rugged mountains and crashing falls, towering forests and photo-worthy small towns are just some highlights on America’s scenic roads and byways. From the dramatic Oregon and California coast to history-lined thoroughfares of New England, there are countless scenic drives across the country—and some stellar standouts.

The state of Georgia has only about 90 miles of coastline yet holds approximately one-third of the entire marshland of the Atlantic seaboard. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The state of Georgia has only about 90 miles of coastline yet holds approximately one-third of the entire marshland of the Atlantic seaboard. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The winding 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, for example, wends its way through the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks, past limestone caverns, clear mountain springs, and Appalachian majesty.

Looking for high country scenery, a road cut through desert sandstone and a drive that spans a national monument, a national park, two Utah state parks and a national forest? Utah’s 122-mile long Highway 12 National Scenic Byway between Panguitch and Torrey does exactly that, passing through the Dixie National Forest’s alpine splendor, portions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s red-rock desert, Bryce Canyon National Park’s colorful spires, and Escalante Petrified Forest and Anasazi state parks.

Red Rock Scenic Byway winds through Sedona’s Red Rock Country, often called a “museum without walls”.

Known as Louisiana’s Outback, the 180-mile-long Creole Nature Trail meanders through marshes, prairies, and along the Gulf of Mexico. As you loop through Cajun Country in Southwest Louisiana, view alligators and birds up close and in the wild.

Walk where the valiant troopers of the 7th Cavalry died with Custer at the Little Big Horn. Hear bull elk bugle in Yellowstone. Drive the magnificent Wind River Canyon in Wyoming. You will be astounded at the beauty of America, awed by the sheer majesty of it all, and touched deeply by the welcoming smiles and kind words of strangers.

Sedona and Red Rock Country

Sedona and Red Rock Country, a vacation hotspot, has appeal for every member of the family. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Touch glaciers in Montana and stand on the banks of the mighty Columbia, Mississippi, and Missouri rivers where Lewis and Clark explored. Marvel at the giant redwoods of California and the cliffs of the Oregon coast. Drive Route 66 across Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

From sea to sea, Canada is also filled with fascinating places and amazing destinations for the RV traveler. There are so many reasons to love Canada. Its premier destination spots include Vancouver, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Quebec City, and Halifax.

Jasper National Park combines some of the most spectacular scenery in the Canadian Rockies with ease of access

Jasper National Park combines some of the most spectacular scenery in the Canadian Rockies with ease of access and less crowded conditions than Banff © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) joins the two mountain parks of Jasper and Banff in one of the most breathtaking, beautiful drives that anyone can travel in the world. A series of massive glaciers line the entire length of the Icefields Parkway, with the Columbia Icefield lying along the parkway at the southern end of Jasper National Park.

Traveling the highways and byways of the United States and Canada, there are scenic wonders to discover an explore.

Yes, it is true: Summer time means RVing time.

Let’s go RVing.

Worth Pondering…

Destination is merely a byproduct of the journey.
—Eric Hansen

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Top 5 RV Upgrades

Americans are well-known for their need to be ahead of the game with the next-best-thing when it comes to the latest and greatest in technology.

Winegard Carryout G2 satellite TV antenna

Winegard Carryout G2 satellite TV antenna

Smart phones are constantly updated or upgraded, computers keep getting smaller and faster, and cars are continually incorporating new and better advancements in safety and comfort.

And RVers also have the same insatiable desire to update and upgrade their home-on-wheels to newer and bigger models or to install popular and useful upgrades to their existing model.

Following is a list of the top five upgrades currently available for updating older RV models:

Satellite upgrade

People on the go don’t want to miss out on their favorite TV shows and sports events. The next generation of portable or mountable satellite dishes has emerged. It is becoming increasingly popular, and some would say necessary, to have the complete RV home-away-from-home experience.

High-powered satellite dishes that can be mounted to the top of an RV, or a carryout satellite that can be set up on tripod or picnic tables to ensure the maximum TV reception are the norm rather than the exception.

Despite the small size of some of the latest satellite set-ups available, their reception abilities are usually incredible. So, next time you want to watch the big game while camping, plan ahead and upgrade your satellite system.

High definition TVs

Upgrade your RV lighting with LED replacement bulbs for brighter light and better visibility.

Upgrade your RV lighting with LED replacement bulbs for brighter light and better visibility.

Installing a satellite upgrade for high-definition programming begs the need for a new LED flat screen TV. One of the most common installations for RVs 5+ years old is the replacement of the old TV with a sleeker, more functional and attractive looking LCD/LED TV.

You’ll likely need to install a new mount. These mounting options range from traditional flat screen wall mount to tilting mount. The most popular type of mount is the articulating mount which allows the TV to be pulled out from the wall, tilted from right to left, and pushed back when you’re finished watching.

LED lights

Have you ever noticed that the lights in your RV become hot after being on for only a short time? Have you been horrified at how quickly your battery drains while camping without access to electricity?

Upgrade your RV lighting with LED replacement bulbs for brighter light and better visibility. LED lights stay cool to the touch and are at a minimum for risk of fire. In addition, they use an average of ⅕ the amount of electricity that standard bulbs use. This prevents electric burnout while camping (a very unpleasant experience) and saves on energy consumption and electricity costs. Some bulbs come with built-in surge protection.

Back up camera

Few vehicles roll off the assembly line without the latest and greatest technological advances a rear-view or back-up camera.

Due to the size of most RVs, it is virtually impossible to really know what’s behind you when you’re backing up. A back up camera is especially useful for those with children or pets. The installation and purchase of a back up camera is comparatively small, and many local RV dealers are able to complete this upgrade quickly than you’d expect.

Solar panel installs

Solar power enables RVer to camp wherever they want, for extended periods, without sacrificing anything.

Solar power enables RVer to camp wherever they want, for extended periods, without sacrificing anything.

Solar power enables RVer to camp wherever they want, for extended periods, without sacrificing anything. Unlike an AC generator, a solar-power system has no moving parts, makes no noise or smell, and requires little maintenance. A solar system can be cost-effective over the long term and can be sized to suit your needs, whether that’s just keeping a single battery charged or maintaining a large battery bank for running all the modern conveniences of a large rig.

A basic RV solar-power system consists of one or more solar panels to generate charging current, a charge controller, batteries, and ancillary components such as brackets, mounting hardware, and wiring.

Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Solar panels are rated in watts of output and the wattage rating is determined by multiplying the panel’s peak power voltage by its peak power amperage.

There’s always a new addition that can be made to any RV-lovers home.

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

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Should You Purchase an RV Extended Warranty?

Discussions on extended warranties are akin to dumping a can of freshly dug earthworms in a fish bait and lure shop.

warranty_bgIt’s a messy topic with heated opinions on both sides of the fence. I’m going to be honest and tell you upfront that there is no absolute answer.

Extended warranties are not for everyone. They can be a waste of money, they can be supremely helpful, and they can also be everything in between.

For most items you buy in your lifetime, extended warranties are simply not worth the money. Most are overpriced for the protection you get and you rarely get your money’s worth. In fact they are lucrative only for the company that sells them.

However, this question becomes “iffy” when you’re dealing with a very expensive item—like an RV—where the cost of repairs can be extremely expensive. At this point it becomes a grey area.

For many people simply putting money aside every month for repairs and using that “self-insurance bucket” when an expensive repair becomes necessary puts them ahead of the curve. For others the financial worry of a major repair bill is simply too much to bear and buying a warranty for “peace of mind” simplifies their RV lifestyle. You have to decide, based on your own financial situation, the potential cost of big ticket repairs, and risk tolerance whether self-insurance will work for you.

Cleaning your RV will take some time. But taking care of your RV is an investment that can pay off if you choose to resell in the future. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Should You Purchase an RV Extended Warranty? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The key thing to understand up-front is that an extended warranty is simply insurance against repairs and mechanical issues as they pertain to your RV. It is a contract that you may never use and you need to abide by all the details to get your insurance to pay up. If you go into the process with this understanding you can then make an informed decision.

The one- or two-year bumper-to-bumper manufacturer’s warranty you receive when you purchase a new RV from a dealer is a true warranty in that it covers pretty much anything that requires repair.

Extended warranties are different. You’re basically buying insurance against some future breakage/failure on an item which is no longer supported by the manufacturer. These non-manufacturer warranties can be very specific and have lots of potentially tricky “outs”.

Understanding what is and is not covered is perhaps most important thing you can do when looking into a RV extended warranty policy.

Many RV dealers will try to sell you an extended warranty when you buy your RV. They are a money maker for the dealer but may be of questionable value for the consumer.

Should You Purchase an RV Extended Warranty? Pictured above is Coastal Georgia RV Resort near Brunswick and the Golden Isles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Should You Purchase an RV Extended Warranty? Pictured above is Coastal Georgia RV Resort near Brunswick and the Golden Isles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Assuming you’ve decided to purchase an extended warranty look around and obtain quotes on several policies and read each of the contracts before making a decision. Treat the extended warranty like insurance and determine what the policy covers and the exemptions.

Make sure you read all the fine print so you know the potential “gotchas” up-front.

Most warranties will deny claims if you do not follow manufacturer-recommended maintenance guidelines.

Extended warranty companies require the claim to be assessed up-front and approve the repair before any work is started. Pre-authorization is a vital part of the service contract and it is YOUR responsibility to make sure your repair facility gets that authorization.

Knowing what your extended warranty actually covers before you sign can save a lot of headaches later. It is therefore in the best interests of every RV owner to research available warranties before making a purchase decision.

Talk to other RVers about their experiences with extended warranties, both pro and con.

Should You Purchase an RV Extended Warranty? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Should You Purchase an RV Extended Warranty? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This will also help you to gain insight about the various types of coverage currently available in the marketplace. Armed with this information, you are better prepared to make an informed decision.

Purchasing an extended warranty is a personal choice that should be based on many factors.

Extended warranties are not for everyone, but they can be a cost-effective way to safeguard the investment you’ve made in your recreational vehicle. Ideally, a RV extended warranty should allow you to save time, control your budget, and have less worries while enjoying the open road. Travel safe everyone!

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

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National Parks Impact Local Economies

National park visitors contributed $26.5 billion to the nation’s economy and supported almost 240,000 jobs in 2013, according to a peer-reviewed report.

salt flats at Badwarwe Basin

Walk onto the crusted salt flats at Badwarwe Basin (Death Valley National Park) for a short distance to enjoy the expansive views up and down the valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“National parks are often the primary economic engines of many park gateway communities,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, in a news release.

“While park rangers provide interpretation of the iconic natural, cultural, and historic landscapes, nearby communities provide our visitors with services that support hundreds of thousands of mostly local jobs.”

National park visitation for 2013 declined by 3.2 percent compared to 2012. The 16-day government shutdown last October accounted for most of the decline. National parks in the Northeast, closed for Hurricane Sandy-related repairs, were the other significant brake on visitation.

Visitor spending for 2013 was down by 1 percent. The number of jobs supported by visitor spending was off by 2.1 percent, and the overall effect on the U.S. economy was 1 percent lower than the previous year due to adjustments for inflation.

“The big picture of national parks and their importance to the economy is clear,” Jarvis said. “Every tax dollar invested in the National Park Service returns $10 to the U.S. economy because of visitor spending in gateway communities near the 401 parks of the National Park System.”

Just when you think you’ve seen as much color and sculptured rock for­mations Mother Nature can create, you enter Bryce Canyon for yet anoth­er brilliant and stunning display. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just when you think you’ve seen as much color and sculptured rock for­mations Mother Nature can create, you enter Bryce Canyon for yet anoth­er brilliant and stunning display. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jarvis said visitation so far this year indicates a rebound from 2013 and he expects a steady increase as excitement grows in advance of the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service.

The annual report, 2013 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, was prepared by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. It includes information by park and by state on visitor spending within 60 miles of a national park, jobs supported by visitor spending, and other statistics.

According to the 2013 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent), and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).

The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

Total recreation visits and total visitor spending ($000s) in selected National Park Service sites follow:

Arches National Park, Utah: 1,082,866; $120,171.7

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah: 1,311,875; $105,705.8

Carlsbad Canyon National Park, New Mexico: 388,565; $23,589.7

Death Valley National Park, California: 951,973; $75,255.1

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah: 1,991,925; $115,593.6

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: 4,564,841; $476,194.8

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee: 9,354,695; $734,086.6

Joshua Tree National Park, California: 1,383,341; $62,929.9

Two desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, abut within Joshua Tree, dividing California's southernmost national park into two arid ecosystems of profoundly contrasting appearance. The key to their differences is elevation.

Two desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, abut within Joshua Tree, dividing California’s southernmost national park into two arid ecosystems of profoundly contrasting appearance. The key to their differences is elevation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona and Nevada: 6,344,714; $260,500.1

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado: 460,237; $45,089.8

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas: 515,381; $20,967.0

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, Texas: 521,705; $28,576.1

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia:1,136,505; $72,402.6

Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming: 3,188,030; $381,762.7

Yosemite National Park, California: 3,691,192; $373,269.8

A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion National Park, Utah: 2,807,387; $147,501.9

Details

National Park Service

Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, the park service is proud to safeguard these special places and to share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

Website: www.nps.gov

Worth Pondering…

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.

—Wallace Stegner, 1983

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5 Ways To Save Money On Fuel

More than 20 million Americans will travel in RVs throughout the summer months, heading to our country’s 16,000-plus campgrounds, and enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

In spite of rising fuel costs, RV travel is still the most economical and efficient way to vacation with your family this summer. Pictured above Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In spite of rising fuel costs, RV travel is still the most economical and efficient way to vacation with your family this summer. Pictured above Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV travel can be expensive. Knowing where to cut costs, save money, and be more efficient in our travels is the key to staying within your travel budget.

Fuel prices, every summer, rise to higher and higher heights. While we have no control over the price of fuel, we can do a few things to help save money.

Most motorists share one common goal—to get the best mileage possible. The desire for the best fuel efficiency is especially strong among recreational vehicle owners. There are many ways that you can reduce fuel and related costs while enjoying life ‘on the road’ in your RV.

Many RVers take measures to reduce fuel consumption through simple steps like driving 55 instead of 65 or 70 mph and packing lighter to reduce weight in the RV.

Following are five ways to save money on fuel this summer:

1. Avoid High Speeds

Decreasing your speed saves money. The greatest improvement in fuel economy is the speed we drive. As your speed increases, your aerodynamic drag increases. Driving faster pushes more air ahead of the RV which creates more resistance to forward movement. Driving 62 mph rather than 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption by about 15 percent.

2. Do Not Accelerate or Brake Hard

scenic view point in Canyon de Chelly National Park

Before leaving on your road trip, check your tire pressure to make sure it is at the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. This little tip will save you on MPG over distances. Pictured above a Fleetwood Providence DP parked at a scenic view point in Canyon de Chelly National Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Accelerate gradually, both from a stop and when entering a freeway; avoid sudden jack-rabbit starts and rapid acceleration. By anticipating the traffic and applying slow steady acceleration and braking, fuel economy may increase by as much as 20 percent.

3. Anticipate traffic flow

Look at the traffic as far ahead as possible in order to avoid unnecessary stopping and starting within the flow of traffic. Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

Brake smoothly, avoiding fast stops; rapid braking wastes fuel and cut down your mileage.

Look ahead and anticipate traffic conditions. Slow down well before you need to. Instead of slamming on your breaks just before the line, slowly ease off the accelerator, coasting to a stop and thus avoid wasting fuel and wear on the brakes.

When the light changes green, forget that pedal to the metal mindset and, again, ease into it.

4. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Another fuel saver is to keep tire air pressures at the levels recommended by the tire manufacturer. Tire pressure can severely affects fuel economy.

If the tires are low on air, the engine has to push harder to move the RV ahead. It is important to know that tires can look normal when they are seriously under inflated.

Regularly check the air pressure in all tires, when the tires are cool (air pressure increases while you are driving).

Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency.

Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure.

5. Control your weight

Leasburg Dam State Park, New Mexico.

Control the weight you carry in your RV. When possible, travel with empty gray and black holding tanks and fresh water tank no more than ¼ full. Pictured above camping at Leasburg Dam State Park, New Mexico. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Added weight significantly decreases fuel mileage and increases wear and tear on your tires.

Keep in mind that everything you put in your RV has weight. The average couple carries approximately 2,000 pounds of “stuff,” and many full-timing couples carry as much as 3,000 pounds.

When possible, travel with empty gray and black holding tanks and fresh water tank no more than ¼ full.

The following are approximate weights of the liquids that RVs commonly carry:

Water—8.3 pounds/gallon

Gasoline—6 pounds/gallon

Diesel fuel—6.6 pounds/gallon

Propane—4.5 pounds/gallon

Now Let’s Go RVing!

Worth Pondering…

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

—Jackie Mason

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A Little Amish History

The Amish people in America are an old religious sect, direct descendants of the Anabaptists of sixteenth-century Europe who challenged the reforms of Martin Luther and others during the Protestant Reformation.

Amish buggy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Amish buggy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They rejected infant baptism in favor of baptism (or re-baptism) as believing adults.

They also taught separation of church and state, something unheard of in the 16th century.

The Anabaptists were regarded as a threat to both Roman Catholic and Protestant establishments.

In the years that followed, Anabaptists leaders were persecuted and tortured for their faith. In spite of persecution, the Anabaptist movement spread through central and western Europe.

In Holland, a Roman Catholic priest named Menno Simons (1496-1561) left the Church to become one of those persecuted for his Anabaptist beliefs. He led a group that fled to Switzerland and other remote areas of Europe to escape religious persecution.

Simons’ followers became known as Mennists, and later Mennonites.

Nearly 150 years later, during the late 1600s, dissension arose among the Mennonites regarding matters of faith and practice.

In 1693, Jakob Ammann, a young bishop in the church, broke away from the Mennonites to follow his own, more stringent, beliefs.

See and hear the Amish-Mennonite story  at Menno-Hof in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

See and hear the Amish-Mennonite story at Menno-Hof in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ammann’s group valued commitments to family and community and sought to be humble in both behavior and appearance. They believed their group should separate from the outside world. Ammann’s followers became known as Amish.

In 1727 the first Amish immigrants left Switzerland to come to America and settled near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Indiana, with the third largest number of Amish people, was settled in 1842.

The Amish are a kind and welcoming people, but you shouldn’t photograph—or ask to photograph—them as it is against their religious beliefs.

Please Note: This is Part 3 of a 7-Part series on Amish Country

Worth Pondering…

The Amish are islands of sanity in a whirlpool of change.
—Nancy Sleeth, Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

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Maintaining a Safe Campfire

Every summer, many RVers and tent campers escape the hustle and bustle of city life by relaxing in the great outdoors.

campfire-safety-hdr-imgCampfires add ambience to a campsite but should be used with caution. It takes only one spark!

Following are several basic campfire safety rules to ensure the preservation of our natural resources for generations to come.

A campfire built without safe clearance or carelessly abandoned can turn a small fire into a dangerous and fast-moving blaze. Be sure to build your campfire in a way that does not endanger other campers or the surrounding forest.

Check with local authorities on open-air burning restrictions and fire bans in the area.

Building the Campfire

ALWAYS build your campfire downwind from your RV or tent in an area that is clear of vegetation.

Build the campfire in a level, open location where it will not spread. Make certain that the campfire is well away from logs, brush, dry grass, leaves, needles, overhanging tree branches, or any other combustible material.

Campfire Safety Infographic FinalClear an area at least 10 feet in diameter. Scrape away grass, leaves, or needles down to soil or rock. Scoop a depression in the center of the cleared area in which to build the fire and put a ring of rocks around it.

NEVER build a campfire on a windy day—sparks or embers from the fire could travel quite a distance setting an unintentional fire.

While the Campfire is Burning

NEVER leave a campfire unattended—ensure that a responsible adult is monitoring the campfire at all times. Supervise children around the campfire at all times and NEVER allow horseplay near or involving the campfire, such as jumping over the fire.

Keep campfires to a small, manageable size no more than 3 feet in height and 3 feet in diameter.

Keep all combustible materials, including flammable liquids, propane cylinders, and lighting fluid away from the campfire.

Watch the wind direction to ensure sparks aren’t approaching any flammable materials. Stack extra wood upwind and away from the campfire so that sparks from the campfire cannot ignite your woodpile.

ALWAYS keep plenty of water and a shovel nearby.

Extinguished the fire completely before going to bed or leaving the camping area.

Teach children how to STOP, DROP, and ROLL should their clothing catch on fire. Teach children to cool a burn with cool running water for 3 to 5 minutes.

CampfireSafetySecure all lighters and matches and keep out of children’s reach.

Be aware that as little as one second contact with a 158-degree F campfire can cause third degree, full thickness burns. The average campfire can get as hot as 932 degrees F in as little as three hours.

The majority of children are burned the morning after a fire from coming into contact with hot ashes or embers.

A campfire left to burn itself out or put out with sand only can still be 212 degrees F eight hours later. The buried coals and embers retain their heat underground like an oven. There is also a risk that the fire may spontaneously re-ignite. A child may mistake the pile of sand or dirt as a sand castle and attempt to play in it.

The temperature, less than four inches below the surface of the sand or dirt can be as high as 572 degrees F.

Completely Extinguish the Campfire

Fully extinguish the fire by pouring lots of water on the fire. Drown all embers, not just the red ones, continue to pour water until hissing sound stops.

After carefully putting the campfire out using water, stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shove and douse again with water.

As an added precaution, shovel sand or dirt to cover the dampened coals to smother any remaining embers.

Campfire Safety. Never leave a campfire unattended!  Forest fires often start from campfires that were not put out completely.

Campfire Safety. Never leave a campfire unattended! Forest fires often start from campfires that were not put out completely.

Use the “drown, stir, and feel” method: drown the fire with water, then stir around the fire area with your shovel to wet any remaining embers and ash. Be sure to turn wood and coals over and wet all sides. Move some dirt onto the fire site and mix thoroughly to fully smother it.

And one last thing, if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!

Worth Pondering…

Only you can prevent wildfires.

—Smoky the Bear

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