The 4 Most Important Tips For Purchasing a New RV

Buying a brand new recreational vehicle is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, so it should come as no surprise that choosing the right one for you is no small decision.

2015 LondonAire

2015 LondonAire top of the line luxury diesel pusher from Newmar.

Maybe you’ll be joining the 1.3 million Americans who live in their RV fulltime, or perhaps you’re a snowbird escaping the frigid cold and snow of another northern winter. Regardless of the way you plan to use your recreational vehicle, electing to spend quality time with the ones you love while discovering our two great countries is an exciting step that will lead you on countless adventures, helping to create a lifetime of memories you’ll cherish forever.

Just like modern automobiles, today’s RVs are a long way from the coaches of old. Many come designed and equipped to feel like home, because for many, their coach is home.

To hit the open road with minimal setbacks, you need information on the most important aspects of purchasing your new RV that will help you feel confident when it comes to selecting and acquiring a quality motor coach.

Whether you are considering the interior accommodations, features, and technology or the amount of available interior and basement storage, engine power—even the quality of the paint finish—it all matters, but the process of deciding what’s right for you doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

The Tuscany line of luxury diesel pusher Class A motorhomes

The Tuscany line of luxury diesel pusher Class A motorhomes from Thor Motor Coach

When contemplating the purchase of a motorhome, take your time, do your homework, talk to owners of similar coaches, attend RV shows, and locate a good reputable dealer who stands behind his products and provides quality service.

Best of all, there is a coach for just about every budget and every family. It just takes some time to find it.

Whether you are new to the RV lifestyle or a seasoned veteran, the following information can help you navigate the most important aspects of making your dream of owning an all-new recreational vehicle a reality.

  1. Selecting an RV is a Big DecisionDo Your Research

When it comes to researching your new RV purchase, the last thing you want to be is hasty. It is important to take your time while considering your budget, wants and needs, future travel plans, and any other items you feel are important in making your decision, such as safety, quality, and reliability.

  1. The Differences Between Gas, Diesel, and Luxury Diesel RVs
2015 Holiday Rambler Ambassador 38DBT

2015 Holiday Rambler Ambassador 38DBT Diesel Pusher Class A motorhome

One of the primary aspects involved in selecting a new RV is making a decision on the type of motorhome you need.

The debate between gas vs. diesel motorhome engines has fueled many hours of debate within the RV community. It can be difficult knowing which way to go.

While many shoppers consider either a gas or diesel-powered coach, some prefer the added comfort and technology a luxury diesel RV provides.

If you are trying to decide between a gas or diesel motorhome, try to decide what features are most important to you. There is no right or wrong option, just advantages and disadvantages worth considering.

  1. Not All RV Manufacturers Are Created Equal

Once you are able to determine much of what you want in an RV, you can begin to research the manufacturers and decide which company you will trust to build the gorgeous new coach you deserve.

  1. Take Your Time When Taking Delivery

Taking delivery of your just-built motorhome can be an incredibly exciting experience for you, your family—even a handful of your friends.

No matter if your brand-new motorhome was bought off the lot or you special ordered it from the factory, it is essential that you plan to take considerable time examining your RV before you drive off on any trips or adventures.

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

Conclusion

Take the time to make sure everything on your new coach is in working order and all of your questions have been answered. You’ll be glad you did.

Whether you’re just beginning to consider the purchase of a new RV or are anxiously awaiting taking delivery of your new motorhome, remember to take your time and enjoy the opportunity to learn. An informed purchase is almost always a wise one. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be throughout the entire buying process and the better you’ll feel once you’re out on the road enjoying your shiny new motorhome.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on Tips For Purchasing a New RV

Worth Pondering…

Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

—Gloria Steinem

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Atomic Red Rocket Camper Turns Heads

Alaskan-born Bill Guernsey survived a horrific plane crash and used his two year recovery time to create something unique.

Atomic Red Rocket Camper Turns Heads

Atomic Red Rocket Camper Turns Heads (Photo credit: Anne Raup/Alaska Dispatch News)

Guernsey spent six hours a day, six days a week to create a bizarre, yet unique red rocket camper with an atomic age inspired design.

Nineteen months ago, copier serviceman Bill Guernsey was in the middle of a trip to several villages along the Kuskokwim River when his plane crashed into the river ice on takeoff from Upper Kalskag. Thankfully, Guernsey was alive, but he was seriously injured.

Seven ribs were fractured, and that’s not all. “My back was broken in three places,” he told Alaska Dispatch News.

“My neck was whacked out and my scalp was ripped from eyebrow to ear.”

But Guernsey managed to turn tragedy to triumph by using his ample recovery time to focus on the fine details of what’s become one of the builder/tinkerer’s signature projects—a 16-foot-long bright red rocket on wheels that turns heads in the Anchorage neighborhood where he lives. It’s not something one would expect to see nestled up between a huge spruce tree and a two-story gray house.

Atomic Red Rocket Camper Turns Heads

Atomic Red Rocket Camper Turns Heads (Photo credit: Anne Raup/Alaska Dispatch News)

Though it looks more like a 1950s comic book character’s ride, this is Guernsey’s camper. Actually, the Atomic Camper is solar-powered and includes a full bathroom, kitchen, and shower. Guernsey’s home away from home, he and wife Becky take it camping to Seward, Portage, and other spots around south-central Alaska.

Guernsey built the camper over the course of two years. And that’s not two years of weekends and after work.

“About six hours a day, six days a week. Whatever that works out to,” Guernsey said. And in an odd way, his injuries helped.

Guernsey has always been a builder, a maker. It’s in his DNA. His grandfather on one side was a carpenter and cabinet builder; the grandfather on the other side was a woodworker and steelworker. Their credo: “Build it, make it, do it.”

His list of major projects includes two airplanes, one restored car, two other campers, most of the furniture in his house, and numerous steampunk functional art pieces.

The Atomic Camper doubles as something of a record of Guernsey’s younger days. The walls are decorated with magazine photographs and covers from 1950s and ’60s. Popular Mechanics covers are the most numerous and include the August 1959 cover story “Race to the Moon: Are the Russians ahead?” Other clips from magazines of that era offer advice: “You can’t ration BRAINS!” and “How to Buy a 1957 Room Air Conditioner.”

Atomic Red Rocket Camper Turns Heads

Atomic Red Rocket Camper Turns Heads (Photo credit: Anne Raup/Alaska Dispatch News)

On his Atomic Camper’s theme, Guernsey says, “Everything was atomic when I was growing up. It’s the Cold War. The time of the nuclear age and the rockets and the bombs. Everything that came out was going to be powered by nuclear science. Atomic is like the turbo of today.”

Achieving the atomic look required massive time in Guernsey’s garage-based workshop. The egg shape is built like a small airplane or a canoe, on a skeleton of ribs covered with bent wood lathes, and then coated with papier-mache and glass fiber.

Other materials range from copper to aluminum to plywood to old toaster cords. There’s even a breaker panel from a boat and robots. Cabinet doors are adorned with collector-item metal robots sliced in two. Pieces from an old Erector Set contribute to the design for the panel of another cabinet door. It’s all a part of the nostalgic trip back in time for the creator.

Finishing touches are where Guernsey’s craftsmanship shines. Exotic woods like jatoba and tigerwood join the domestics of holly, walnut, birch, and ash in details of the interior. Guernsey collected the decorative materials for years—much of it bought at the Habitat For Humanity ReStore or donations from people following his Atomic Camper project.

Atomic Red Rocket Camper Turns Heads

Atomic Red Rocket Camper Turns Heads (Photo credit: Anne Raup/Alaska Dispatch News)

“People there (at the ReStore) are really sweet,” Guernsey told Alaska Dispatch News.

“They see that stuff, and a lot of the times they’ll set it aside for me. It’s nice to buy stuff there because a lot of time you’ll wreck it or break it trying to make it work in the way it wasn’t meant to work. I like buying stuff there because you don’t feel bad when you break a $5 latch but feel terrible when you break a $150 latch.”

Guernsey plans for a follow-up project to the Atomic Camper, a 24-foot long zeppelin.

It will be a cylinder that’s longer and bigger, he says.

“I’ll stretch it. I want it to look like it’s manufactured. And it will have an infrared camera—to see the bear in the dark.”

Worth Pondering…

Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.

—Neil Armstrong

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Snowbird Migrate Southward To U.S. Sunbelt

As refugees from the frozen north, snowbirds escape winter at home by migrating southward each year.

Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona

Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is an actual bird, the common snowbird, or dark-eyed junco, that migrates south from the cold in groups. John James Audubon, the great naturalist and painter, once wrote of the snowbird, “The migration of these birds is performed by night, as they are seen in a district one day and have disappeared the next.”

Then he added, “So gentle and tame does the snowbird become on the least approach of hard weather that it forms, as it were, a companion to every child. Indeed, there is not an individual in the Union who does not know the little snowbird, which, in America, is cherished as the Robin is in Europe.”

Not all of the human variety may be similarly cherished, but they do become companions. As each autumn gives way to winter, most seem to be welcomed back — warmly — to the U.S. Sunbelt.

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. As we explore North America by RV, natural beauty abounds when least expected, and surprises wait at every turn of the road.

Furnace Creek Ranch boasts the lowest-elevation golf course in the world

Furnace Creek Ranch boasts the lowest-elevation golf course in the world at 214 feet below sea level, tennis courts, spring-fed swimming pools, horseback riding, hiking trails, and carriage rides. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Each journey we take represents a passage, whether it’s an adventure to a new state or province, a day trip to a new attraction, or an outing with friends.

Never driving our motorhome along a pre-arranged route, we vary stops along the way often taking two to three months to reach our southern destinations.

Sound familiar to anyone?

Even though many consider leaving their home constitutes a vacation, this popular lifestyle should really be thought of simply as being able to enjoy life as you relocate your condo-on-wheels to more desirable seasonal locations.

Selecting your balmy Snowbird roost is when all the fun starts. Choice is in rich supply, and for those who like to hop around a bit, a combination of spots can let you sample entire regions and states.

Superstition Mountain Museum

To further understand and appreciate the Superstition Mountains area, its legend, history, and intrigue tour the 12.5-acre Superstition Mountain Museum, near Apache Junction, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perhaps the biggest consideration should be on what kind of environment you’re looking for, as well what kind of activities you’d like to pursue. Do you crave white sandy beaches and tropical temperatures? Or dry air and rustic frontier homesteads? Perhaps a thriving music and arts scene? Or maybe you’re after a balance of big city fun and small-town charm?

Many communities seem tailor made for snowbirds, complete with popular tourism attractions, spectacular national parks and scenery that’s open year-round. Check out the RV shows, farmers markets, swap meets, festivals, sports events,  and other events occurring in your prospective destination.

You’re probably familiar with the snowbird hot spots in Arizona, Texas, Florida, and California. Keep in mind that you can also find great snowbird roosts in places like Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Nevada. Great snowbird destinations thrive across the Sun Belt; all you have to do is find the one that’s right for you.

Many Snowbirds are north-south creatures, meaning those from the Northwest tend to settle in Arizona, Nevada and California; those from the Midwest flock to Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana; and those from the Northeast head for Florida.

The Cajun Palms RV Resort (Breaux Bridge, Louisiana) swimming pool contains a big plastic pirate ship for children to board and a gigantic purple-and-green dragon stretched across the middle of the water.  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Cajun Palms RV Resort (Breaux Bridge, Louisiana) swimming pool contains a big plastic pirate ship for children to board and a gigantic purple-and-green dragon stretched across the middle of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are you planning on heading directly south from your home location? Or will you cut across the country in a diagonal direction, exploring a whole new longitude?

Regardless of your journey, factor in the drive times and travel expenses. You wouldn’t want your snowbird stay to be cut short by time on the road.

While you’re at it, be sure to account for the changing weather conditions you’ll encounter on your travels. If you haven’t given yourself enough time to avoid the first frost or snow, plan accordingly. Make sure you allow yourself enough time for cold-weather driving, and bring enough warm-weather clothes to get you through the journey.

Carefully plan the stops along the way, and give yourself some time to do some sightseeing on the journey south.

Worth Pondering…

It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snow-bird life

behind the wheel.

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EverGreen RV Element Introduces Sky-gazer Window

Middlebury, Indiana-based EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC has introduced a “Sky-gazer” window in its Element 30FLS travel trailer representing the industry’s first full-view front windshield.

EverGreen RV Element Introduces Sky-gazer Window

EverGreen RV Element Introduces Sky-gazer Window

The aerodynamic construction effortlessly combines function and form.

The latest installment of the Element lineup has been completely redesigned and features the second largest piece of curved automotive glass in the industry only surpassed by that in Class A motorhomes. Accentuating the slope of the curved roof is a panoramic windshield uniquely designed for enjoying the scenic views day or night. The tinted glass allows light in during the day and a built-in shade offers privacy day or night, according to a company news release.

A large great room is created by double slides opposite one another that significantly open up the interior. A 90-inch U-shaped dinette is housed opposite the kitchen and entertainment center.

Situated beneath the Sky-gazer window is a wrap around sofa, strategically placed for appreciating the view. Once the sun goes down, a cushioned ottoman fits perfectly into the center of the wraparound sofa creating a bed, giving guests the opportunity to truly fall asleep under the stars. The 30FLS’s opposing slides, abundance of natural light, panoramic views, and private bedroom, project the feeling of a much larger trailer.

EverGreen RV Element Introduces Sky-gazer Window

EverGreen RV Element Introduces Sky-gazer Window

“This has been in the works since we launched the Element line,” explained Element Product Manager Jeff Terhune.

“We knew we had a unique design and we wanted to give people something even more special with the full-view, floor-to-ceiling Sky-gazer window. I think we found ourselves a winner.”

A centrally located bathroom, with a 48-inch fiberglass resort style shower/tub, is easily accessible from the great room or the rear bedroom. The bedroom slide creates a spacious, private room with plenty of space to walk around the bed.

A linen closet, extra shelving, entertainment center, and under-bed storage with lift struts provide plenty of room for camping gear. Pass-through storage at the front of the trailer also provides storage usually only found on much larger coaches.

Details

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC

EverGreen RV Element Introduces Sky-gazer Window

EverGreen RV Element Introduces Sky-gazer Window

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC was founded in December of 2008 with the premise that the recreational vehicle industry needed a new generation of innovative, sustainable, eco-friendly, green travel trailers and fifth wheels built like none before.

The vision of EverGreen is to use sustainable eco-friendly, recyclable, composite materials to replace wood and produce higher quality, longer-lasting products that are fully equipped, yet lightweight.

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC is the first RV manufacturer to achieve the TRA Certified Green Emerald Rating for its eco-friendly Ever-Lite travel trailers and fifth wheels.

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC currently offers six lines of travel trailers (Ever-Lite, Sun Valley, i-Go, Ascend, Element, and Amped), four lines of fifth wheel trailers (Bay Hill, Tesla, Lifestyle, and Alfa Gold), and two lines of toy haulers (Amped and Tesla).

Of the top 15 towable RV manufacturers, EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC, along with its Lifestyle Luxury RV fifth-wheel division, was the fastest growing company in the industry for both registered retail sales and total increase in market share for the year 2013.

Today, with the addition of the Skyline RV brand, EverGreen is the fourth largest recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.

Address: 10758 County Road 2, Middlebury, IN 46540

Phone: (574) 825-4298

Website: www.goevergreenrv.com

Worth Pondering…

The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.

—Ayn Rand

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9 Haunted Halloween Road Trip Destinations

Every town has a ghost story or two, but some places seem to attract more ghostly activity than others.

Salem Haunted HappeningsThe following four destinations are perfect choices for a spooky Halloween road trip this month.

Salem, Massachusetts

There is nowhere in the U.S. like Salem on Halloween! It’s got it all: fabulous fall foliage, New England charm, a horrifying history, and tons of Halloween events and activities.

This town was made famous by its witchcraft trials in 1692, where twenty innocent people were executed on charges of witchcraft. Salem pays tribute year-round to the history of the town with benches commemorating the dead and historic sites detailing the trials and events leading up to them.

Salem goes all out—there are haunted houses, special events at the Witch Museum, the House of Seven Gables, and the Witch House, street performers (often dressed as witches), parades, costume balls—so much is going on.

With most of the revelers dressed up in costumes, every inch of the town decorated for the holiday, and great themed events, you’ll feel like you’ve landed in Halloween Land! It truly is the most Halloween-themed of all of the Halloween destinations out there.

Tombstone, Arizona

Although Tombstone drips of tourism, there are ghost stories to be found.
Tombstone still looks the part of the Wild West when you walk down the old dirt road. Though the town shuts down early, you may be able to see where ‘the Swamper’ lived if you just ask.

The Swamper was a man in Tombstone who dug a tunnel through his living quarters into the mines to find silver. He was eventually caught and murdered.
In addition to the Swamper’s trail, visit the Bird Cage Theatre for a ghostly experience.

Sante Fe, New Mexico

There have been reports of Julia Staab descending this stairway dressed in black

There have been reports of Julia Staab descending this stairway dressed in black.

Santa Fe is full of ghosts. Some you hear about and some you don’t. One of the most famous is Julia Staab, who lives in, or more correctly, haunts the upscale hotel, La Posada. The beautiful Julia was the wife of wealthy Santa Fe merchant, Abraham Staab.

The Staabs were prosperous and abundant. They had seven children. Things went downhill when the eighth child, a son, died soon after his birth.

Reportedly, Julia went into a severe depression and may have even lost her sanity. Her hair is said to have turned white overnight. After several subsequent unsuccessful pregnancies, she took to her room and died in 1896 at the age of 52.

Julia is said to have loved her magnificent home and if you believe the stories, she is still there roaming the halls. Julia is a playful ghost and has been known to turn the faucets on in the bathrooms and move glasses around in the bar.

To read about our Ghost Walking Tour of Santa Fe, click here.

Galveston, Texas

Ashton Villa

Ashton Villa was built by James Moreau Brown, beginning in 1859. The family occupied the house by 1861. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Galveston is full of ghosts, but the best place to get a good dose of them is at the amazing Ashton Villa mansion. Built in the 1860s by James Brown, the 6,000 square foot home is one of the few historical buildings to have survived the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Even so, the Brown family watched as the water rose up to the tenth step of the grand staircase and flowed through the house like a river. Later it served as a Confederate hospital.

Sounds attributed to the ghost of Jame’s daughter Bettie are a frequent occurrence. Sometimes visitors on tour will hear her playing the piano. Beds will unmake themselves and chests will randomly lock and unlock. Some people claim to have witnessed ghost soldiers marching through the house. A caretaker once reported waking up in the night and witnessing a conversation from the past about marriage from two ghosts, and furniture will sometimes move.

Note: Ashton Villa is now home to the Galveston Island Visitor Information Center

More Haunted Destinations

Here are five additional spooky Halloween holiday destinations.

LanternResvFormLogoIn Decatur, Illinois, the ghosts of bootleggers and theater stagehands haunt buildings throughout the city.

In Athens, Ohio, a former mental hospital is packed with the ghosts of disgruntled patients.

And in Paulding, Michigan, locals report a mysterious phenomenon called the Paulding Light.

The religious separatist community of Zoar, Ohio, disbanded in the late 1800s—but resident spirits remain, at least according to guides with Lantern Tour of the Ghosts of Zoar, who lead haunted walks through town on Fridays and Saturdays through November 1.

Add some extra chills to an already thrilling zipline experience at ZipZone Canopy Tours near Columbus, Ohio. Freaky Flight Nights run Tuesday through Friday, October 28-31, at ZipZone, located at Camp Mary Orton near Worthington.

There is a cursed locale somewhere near you. So, pull out your costume , dust off your GPS, and grab a bag of fun-size candy bars for the road—it’s time for a haunted Halloween road trip!

Be safe and responsible during Halloween fun and travels.

Worth Pondering…

‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.
—William Shakespeare

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Tailgating &Carbon Monoxide Dangers

You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it, but carbon monoxide causes about 400 deaths in America each year. Further, carbon monoxide poisoning sends some 20,000 people to the emergency room each year.

carbon-monoxide-poisoningAs thousands pull into Birmingham for this weekend’s 63rd Annual Magic City Class, authorities are reminding tailgaters to stay safe and vigilant if they are in recreational vehicles.

“We know that many fans will be attending the football game, indulging in the festivities, and spending a considerable time in their campers and RVs,” said Birmingham Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief C.W. Mardis.

Authorities began to issue the reminders after a man died last year while camping at Talladega Superspeedway. Craig Franklin Morgan, 46, and his wife, Jami Allison Morgan, 38, were found unresponsive by friends in their RV at the South Campground outside the track. Craig Morgan was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife survived. Authorities said the poisoning appeared to be the result of an exhaust system malfunction.

And three years ago last month, five bikers in Clarksville, Tennessee, all died of carbon monoxide poisoning during a camping trip at the Clarksville Speedway.

Back in March, a couple was killed when carbon monoxide filled their RV at the KOA campground near Opryland. They forgot to turn off a burner on the stove.

Officials are using these incidents to raise awareness about the potential dangers.

carbon-monoxide-detectors-mandatory“Anytime you’re burning something, be it a propane grill, be it a kerosene lantern, anytime you’re burning something, carbon monoxide is released,” said Paul Petersen, director of the Emergency Preparedness program for the Tennessee Department of Health.

Officials offered these safety tips for campers and tailgaters to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning while enjoying the Classic weekend and other tailgating events.

Check your carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector regularly and change the batteries as needed.

Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: Headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, confused, and sleepy.

Park your RV so that the exhaust can easily dissipate away from the vehicle—do not park next to high grass or weeds, buildings, or other obstructions.

Do not sleep with the generator operating.

Leave a roof vent open any time the generator is running (even during winter).

Install an exhaust stack pipe on your RV’s exhaust tail pipe and on your generator’s exhaust piping.

Inspect generator and propane tank connections for leaks and breaks before using.

Turn off all appliances after use.

Have an emergency exit plan: know where the emergency exits are and be sure everyone can open them.

carbon-monoxide-gas-safetyMake sure you know how to quickly disconnect all power sources in the event of an emergency.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately and then call 911.

When stopping for long periods of time, be aware of other vehicles around you that may have engines, refrigerators, or generators running.

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.

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.

If you do not feel well, do not be fooled into thinking it is because you have been driving too long, you ate too much, or you are suffering from motion sickness—shut off the generator and step outside for fresh air.

Have your built-in vacuum cleaner inspected to ensure that it does not exhaust on the underside of your RV.

Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment

Carbon Monoxide: Symptoms & Treatment

Everyone is more vulnerable at high altitudes.

Consider parking in a “no generator” zone at RV rallies.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Mission a Prime Destination For Winter Texans

Located right in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, about 250 miles south of San Antonio, lies a tight knit community of friends, family, and children.

The raucous Plain Chachalacas are just one of the very common birds you can find congregating at feeding stations placed throughout the nature centers in the Rio Grande Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

The raucous Plain Chachalacas are just one of the very common birds you can find congregating at feeding stations placed throughout the nature centers in the Rio Grande Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

During winter, they embrace the thousands of Winter Texans that call Mission their temporary home. With winter temperatures averaging 72 degrees and with a ZERO percent chance of snow… why wouldn’t they?

Mission has a little bit of everything for everyone. Close enough to the hustle and bustle of a larger city, but far enough from the harsh cold winters most are trying to escape. While Mission has over 80,000 permanent residents, the Sunbelt community caters to those looking for a sunny alternative to blizzards, snow shovels, and tire chains.

Mission looks forward to another season full of fun loving, adventure seekers who also want to just kick up their feet and enjoy a margarita right on the calm waters of the Rio Grande. There is never a shortage of activities to do, places to visit, or delicious Tex-Mex food to eat.

With more than 300 butterfly species, Mission is proud to be the butterfly capitol of the US.

Two hundred butterfly species have been seen at Mission’s National Butterfly Center, a project of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and study of wild butterflies in their native habitats. This 100-acre wildlife center and native species botanical garden contains trails for exploring, observation areas, garden café, educational exhibits, and a plant nursery. The beauty of the natural world, the wonder of butterflies, particularly and the powerful role they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems and sustainable food resources. The Center is open for exploration daily.

Camping at Bentsen Palm Village RV Park south of Mission.

Camping at Bentsen Palm Village RV Park south of Mission. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The National Butterfly Center is honored to host the 19th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival. From November 1-4, 2014, attendees will spend three days exploring renowned public lands and private properties with world-class trip leaders and expert guides. The Festival is taking place during prime butterfly season, when you may reasonably expect to see more than 60 species in a day.

In keeping with all the nature that surrounds the area, Mission is also home to the World Birding Center. Known as one of the top birding destinations in the country, Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park well deserves its status as headquarters of the World Birding Center. Birders across the nation know Bentsen as a treasure trove of unique Valley specialties, tropical birds found nowhere else in the United States.

Striking Green Jays with bright green backs, purple-blue heads, and yellowish-green under parts; radiant orange Altamira Orioles; Great Kiskadee, an eye-catching mix of black, white, yellow, and reddish-brown; and raucous Plain Chachalacas are just a few of the very common birds you can find congregating at feeding stations placed throughout the park.

Other neo-tropical varieties such as Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Clay-colored Thrush, Hook-billed Kite, and Gray Hawk are also likely. Virtual clouds of migrating Swainson’s and Broad-winged Hawks are a popular spring and fall spectacle.

Pet friendly amenities at Bentsen Palm Village in the Rio Grande Valley include dog agility course and pet parade. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pet friendly amenities at Bentsen Palm Village in the Rio Grande Valley include dog agility course and pet parade. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mission prides itself on the affordable appeal of the town and it’s amenities.

New restaurants and stores open weekly and huge projects such as the University Of Texas Medical School and a Space X commercial launch pad plan to call the region home.

The recent media exaggerations of the lifestyle in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas have raised some concerns. However, contrary to what is reported by mainstream media regarding safety and illegal immigration, Mission is, in fact, one of the safest places to be. The community’s priority is the security of their visitors and residents.

With its wide variety of outdoor recreation, such as kayaking, canoeing, biking, and golfing at one of four premier golf courses and world class birding and nature attractions, Mission is a place where simple activities become rich and enjoyable experiences.

Mission extends an invitation to come for a visit and see for yourself why thousands of Winter Texans return every year.

A few of the hundreds of black-bellied whistling ducks that make their home in the Mission area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A few of the hundreds of black-bellied whistling ducks that make their home in the Mission area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Details

For additional information on the Mission, Texas, area visit the following websites:

Discover Mission: www.discovermission.com

The Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce: www.missionchamber.com

National Butterfly Center: www.nationalbutterflycenter.org

World Birding Center: www.theworldbirdingcenter.com

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Winter Texan is Better Than No Texan

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Planning For Retirement

Preparing for retirement is a lot of work. That’s one of life’s great ironies.

Don’t retire from something, retire to something. What will you retire to? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t retire from something, retire to something. What will you retire to? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Both financial and physical well-being in retirement require foresight and planning.

In his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey writes, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

Financial security in retirement doesn’t just happen. It takes planning and commitment and, yes, money. The average American spends 20 years in retirement yet most people aged 50 to 64 have nothing or next to nothing in retirement accounts and thus will rely solely on Social Security. Seventy-five percent of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts.

Aspiring to be financially independent gives you unique choices. It allows you to do what you want with your golden years. But financial goals don’t just happen. You must make them happen.

A financial plan is a road map helping you navigate to your dreams. This step requires you to assess where you want to be five, 10, and 20 years from now and answer some big questions, such as where you want to live in retirement and when you want to stop working.

Although far too many people fail to plan their financial resources, perhaps even more people fail to plan how to invest their hours and days once the structure of the work week is removed by retirement.

Retirement is a time of which most of us have dreamed. It seems wonderful to have fewer responsibilities, be on vacation all the time, and do as we please. Retirement can be all these things, but it is just as important to plan for retirement emotionally as well as financially.

How will you spend your sunset years? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How will you spend your sunset years? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In his book “Invisible Man” Ralph Ellison writes, “Don’t you know the quickest way to die is to retire?”

Unfortunately, there is considerable research evidence to suggest that he is on to something here.

Although many complain about our long hours at work, the work week establishes a certain stability and structure to our lives.

It may sound utopian to be freed from work responsibilities, and to enjoy, as Henry James in “The Portrait of a Lady” writes, “weeks and months made up only of off-days.”

The removal of this structure, however, without plans to invest one’s time, often leads to boredom, aimlessness, and decline.

Although many people have hobbies and delayed projects to fill their retirement days, others find their lives to be suddenly empty and void of meaning.

A co-worker once told me, “I’m retiring in a month and I never did figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up!” Though that’s an extreme case, I know he’s not alone in failing to set goals or planning how to achieve them.

How will we use our new freedom, our unfolding spare time? How will we convert the windfall of free time into self-fulfillment?

In “Fathers and Sons” Ivan Turgenev writes, “There’s an empty space in my trunk and I’m stuffing hay into it. It’s the same with the luggage of our own lives. It doesn’t matter what you fill it with so long as there’s no empty space.”

Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System and continues to captivate people around the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System and continues to captivate people around the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But it does matter. Retirement gives us control and choices as to how we spend our time. We now have the time to pursue hobbies and projects of interest.

In “The Chosen” Chaim Potok writes, “I am doing things I consider very important now. If I could not do these things, my life would have no value. Merely to live, merely to exist—what sense is there to it? A fly also lives.”

If there is no sense or meaning to it, then Isaac Singer’s character in “The Manor” is correct. “I can die, I am no longer needed.”

For the last seventeen years we have been making our way south, leaving the cold northern winters behind in favor of enjoying the warmth and sunshine of places like Palm Springs, Ol’ Airy Zonie, southern Texas, Alabama Gulf Coast, and sunny Florida.

The southwest is amazing. The colors are vibrant, the land varied and breathtaking. The way the Texas countryside changes from the stark desert to the prairie to the juniper forests and lush green of the hill country is spectacular.

Staying for months at a time we enjoy the Snowbird Lifestyle.

Don’t retire from something, retire to something.

What will you retire to?

Worth Pondering…

Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead—that is where your future lies.
—Ann Landers

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Family Vacation Photos Subject to Tax & Fines

Taking photos from your phone now poses a serious risk to your pocket book.

National Forest land along the Apache Trail, Arizona).

National Forest land along the Apache Trail, Arizona). © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Believe it or not, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is finalizing plans to fine photographers who shoot on federal wild lands without a permit.

Under the measure, still photography and commercial filming in Congress-designated wilderness areas would require a permit, and shoots would also have to be approved and meet certain criteria like not advertising any product or service and being educational.

These policies would require journalists to apply for a $1500 permit to photograph the 36 million acres of designated wilderness area administered by the USFS, reports Oregon Live.

These new rules would also make it illegal for independent photographers to take photos or shoot video (even with a camera phone) and would result in a fine of $1000 per shot. This even includes family vacation pictures! If you uploaded 10 photos to Facebook from a family vacation the government then fines you $10,000.

Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers said in a statement the directive has been in place for more than four years and “is a good faith effort to ensure the fullest protection of America’s wild  places.”

National forest lands at Brasstown Bald, North Carolina.

National forest lands at Brasstown Bald, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Liz Close, the Forest Service’s acting wilderness director, says the restrictions are meant to preserve the untamed character of the country’s wilderness.

Close didn’t cite any real-life examples of why the policy is needed or what problems it’s addressing. She didn’t know whether any media outlets had applied for permits in the last four years.

She said the agency was implementing the Wilderness Act of 1964, which aims to protect wilderness areas from being exploited for commercial gain.

“It’s not a problem, it’s a responsibility,” she said. “We have to follow the statutory requirements.”

Exploiting public lands with a camera? Really?

The Forest Service’s previous rules caused a fuss in 2010, when the agency refused to allow an Idaho Public Television crew into a wilderness area to film student conservation workers. The agency ultimately caved to pressure from Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Critics have characterized the rules as too vague and say it infringes on the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

Cradle of Forestry, North Carolina

Cradle of Forestry, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights

“I am very concerned about the implications this has for Americans’ First Amendment freedoms of speech and the press,” U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) wrote in a letter to Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell.

“It is also very troubling that journalists could be held to different standards at the discretion of the issuing officer depending on the content of their stories and its relevance to wilderness activity.”

Walden said he worried access might be granted “based on political calculations” and noted a majority of Oregon land is controlled by the federal government.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also voiced concern for the policy.

“The Forest Service needs to rethink any policy that subjects noncommercial photographs and recordings to a burdensome permitting process for something as simple as taking a picture with a cell phone,” he told Oregon Live.

“Especially where reporters and bloggers are concerned, this policy raises troubling questions about inappropriate government limits on activity clearly protected by the First Amendment.”

Most of the country’s wilderness is in the West. Nearly 50 wilderness areas have been designated in Oregon, including wide stretches of land around Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, and Mount Washington.

National Forest Land enroute to Fish Lake, Utah

National Forest Land enroute to Fish Lake, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights

The rules allow exceptions only for breaking news coverage of events like fires and rescues. They’re more stringent than similar policies on wilderness areas managed by a different federal agency, the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM does not require any special permit for newsgathering in wilderness areas.

The Forest Service is currently accepting public comment on its proposal.

Worth Pondering…

Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.
—Charles Lindbergh

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Motorhome Driving Is Easier With Comfort Drive

For many, getting behind the wheel of a motorhome isn’t the pleasurable experience it should be.

Comfort Drive-logo-horz

Comfort Drive creates the ultimate combination of advanced technology and intelligent design.

Maneuvering in and out of tight spaces can be a chore, while maintaining control at highway speeds—especially in the midst of a crosswind—can be downright difficult.

Several years ago, the engineers at Nappanee, Indiana-based Newmar Corp decided to change all of that. The result was one of the biggest steering breakthroughs the RV industry has ever seen—Newmar Comfort Drive Steering System.

What is Comfort Drive?

Comfort Drive Steering is an intelligent steering system that decreases driver fatigue often associated with operating a typical diesel pusher over long distances. It also aids a driver to maintain a straight path by compensating for cross-winds and crowns in the road.

Comfort Drive creates a positive on-center feel which reduces parking efforts and improves reversibility when backing up a motorhome.

With Comfort Drive, you’ll exert less effort turning the wheel when you drive, back up, and turn. This advanced technology responds to your steering—then makes your driving experience easier.

2015 King Aire 4553 Florence Interior and Sable Maple Cabinetry

2015 King Aire 4553 Florence Interior and Sable Maple Cabinetry

Comfort Drive removes friction from the steering process so you steer with a light grip, making long trips less tiring. It makes your motorcoach handle more like a car with a self-straightening wheel and lane change sensor adjustments that make it easy to stay in a lane once you’ve committed to it, even at high speeds.

With Comfort Drive you can fine-tune the system’s resistance and responsiveness with a touch of the adjustable Comfort Drive controls right on the dash.

Enhanced Comfort

2015 LondonAire Front

2015 LondonAire Front

By actively adapting to your steering inputs while eliminating friction, Comfort Drive lets you steer with a light grip that won’t leave you feeling sore and fatigued after a long trip.

With Comfort Drive, you’ll exert less effort turning thanks to a self-straightening wheel that makes parking and navigating tight spaces easy.

Experience Comfort Drive for Yourself

Newmar first introduced the Comfort Drive Steering System on its 2007 Luxury products.

Comfort Drive is now available throughout the entire Newmar diesel and luxury line, which includes:

  • Ventana LE
  • Ventana
  • Dutch Star
  • Mountain Aire
  • London Aire
  • Essex
  • King Aire

Test drive Comfort Drive today and experience the Newmar Difference for yourself.

Your Western Canada Newmar dealer is Midtown RV in the sunny Southern Okanagan community of Penticton.

Details

Newmar Corp

NEWMAR: When You Know The Difference

Newmar Corp image001Established in 1968 Newmar is an innovator and leader in the RV manufacturing industry and recognized for its excellence in quality.

Newmar Corp is privately owned and has a dealer network that spans across the United States and Canada.

Newmar Corp is located at 355 N. Delaware Street, Nappanee, Indiana.

Newmar Corp currently manufactures Class A gas motorhomes (Bay Star Sport, Bay Star, and Canyon Star), Class A diesel motorhomes (Ventana LE, Ventana, and Dutch Star), and luxury Class A diesel motorhomes (Mountain Aire, London Aire, Essex, and King Aire).

Address: 355 N. Delaware Street, PO Box 30, Nappanee, Indiana 46550-0030

Phone: (800) 860-0086

Website: www.newmarcorp.com

Worth Pondering…
In every thought and action, think excellence.

—Byrd Bagget

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