Snowbird Destinations

Snowbirds flock to Ol’ Airy Zonie, Southern Texas, Florida, and other Sunbelt states and Mexico to avoid winter’s bite, snow and blowing snow, and treacherous icy sidewalks and streets. Northern Europeans are also known to migrate to the U.S. Sunbelt, adding to these communities of seasonal residents.

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The available options are unlimited enabling snowbirds to design their winter lifestyle to suit their financial ability and social preferences.

The basic question is WHERE are YOU going to go? Do you prefer the Pacific or Atlantic coast or Gulf of Mexico with their sunny beaches, or arid desert? Is your preference for dry air or higher humidity? Do you enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, or biking?

The majority of snowbirds migrate straight south from their northern home. As a result most snowbirds from the Northwest tend to winter in Arizona and California; those from the Midwest in Texas; and snowbirds from the Northeast head to Florida.

Another consideration is finding an RV park that is within your budget. Even with the recent escalation of RV park rates, one can still find a spot for about $400/month.

Large snowbird parks offer a variety of activities: swimming, dancing, woodworking, quilting, lapidary.

With an RV, you have the freedom to check out places that appeal to you. Experiment before you decide to settle into one place. Or, like us, you may prefer to be “roving gypsies”.

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

Warm weather hubs such as Arizona, Texas, Florida, and California are tops for their predictable warm weather. But other states are also becoming popular—Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Arizona

The majority of snowbird resorts are centered around Mesa, Apache Junction, Tucson, Yuma, and along the Colorado River.

One of the hottest spots in terms of growth is YUMA (Yearly Uncontrolled Migration of the Aged), which doubles in population during winter months.

Any discussion of Arizona and snowbirds would be incomplete without mentioning Quartzsite, a rock-hound paradise since the 1960s. Quartzsite has been described as “$400,000 motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for FREE camping”.

Texas

The aptly-named Roseate Spoonbill is one of Florida's most distinctive wading birds. Spoonbills feed on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects with its unusual shaped bill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The aptly-named Roseate Spoonbill is one of Florida’s most distinctive wading birds. Spoonbills feed on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects with its unusual shaped bill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thousands of snow-weary Northerners flock to Texas during winter. In Texas—a state famous for adding its unique flair—migrating snowbirds have been dubbed “Winter Texans”.

Most congregate in one of two areas: Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Valley.

The majority of Winter Texans flock to “The Valley”, an area near the Mexican border that stretches from Brownsville and Harlingen in the east to Mission in the west—a distance of about 65 miles. Winters tend to be mild and a bit breezy. With less expensive living costs, the Valley is arguably the best bargain in the U.S. for wintering in a warm climate.

Florida

Think Florida, and you have thoughts of dazzling white beaches, wind-swept palms, endless citrus groves, fresh-from-the-water seafood, delicious key lime pie, Kennedy Space Center, NASCAR drivers at Daytona International Speedway, well-manicured golf courses, the Everglades, Key West, Disney World, and other Orlando-area theme parks.

Florida is the only state where you can winter anywhere. The further south you go, the warmer the winter temperatures.

There are so many choices depending on your interests and budget. The cost of RV parks increases as you travel further south and with proximity to the Atlantic or Gulf Coast.

California

Winter weather is close to perfect in Palm Springs and the other desert resort cities in the Coachella Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter weather is close to perfect in Palm Springs and the other desert resort cities in the Coachella Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The majority of snowbirds who make California their winter home, head for the Coachella Valley. This is desert country with an occasional oasis—some natural but mostly man-made. Known world-wide as “the golfer’s paradise”, golf courses abound.

Synonymous with the good life, Palm Springs is a retreat of the rich and famous, the ultimate in resort living. Swimming pools and fairways almost overlap. People who can afford to winter anywhere in the U.S. often do it here where winter weather is close to perfect.

In conclusion

Every fall when I hear the geese honking overhead, something starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose”. Feeling that I am at least as smart as a silly goose, I pack up the RV and head south to the Sun Belt.

And, remember, getting there is half the fun.

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Travelino—Lightweight Camper Of The Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

Last year, German camper specialist Knaus Tabbert used the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon to present its vision of the future camping trailer.

Travelino—Lightweight Camper Of The Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

Travelino—Lightweight Camper Of The Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

The yacht-inspired Caravisio was a large, luxurious home-on-wheels with improved aerodynamics. Thanks to the bed positioning, the front is arrow-shaped which has a positive effect on the upstream flow angle.

This year, Knaus went small, light and simple, presenting the Travelino concept, a compact trailer outfitted with space- and weight-saving features.

Strangely, Knaus appears to have abandoned all the aerodynamic headway it made with the Caravisio, reports gizmag.

The Travelino is much broader and less streamlined than last year’s concept trailer and appears less aerodynamic than most teardrops currently available in the marketplace. The curved trapezoidal prism is broad from every angle and unlike the aerodynamic Caravisio looks ill-equipped for head or crosswinds.

Travelino—Lightweight Camper Of The Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

Travelino—Lightweight Camper Of The Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

The focus of the Travelino is clearly not on the aero-efficient shape of the shell, but on the equipment, layout, and materials. The walls of the trailer are built from a lightweight, XPS foam-core material that helps the trailer maintain a base weight below 1,433 pounds (650 kg). Similarly, Knaus saves weight on the interior fixtures and furnishings through the use of a paper-based honeycomb board.

The 1,433-pound curb weight sounds less impressive when compared to the 400- to 1,000-pound (181 to 454 kg) weights of trailers already under production like the Teal Tail Feather, MyPod teardrop, and numerous other small lightweight trailers.

However, at over 13 feet (4 m), the Travelino is a few feet longer than the Teal Tail Feather and nearly double the size of diminutive teardrops like the MyPod Basic. Its mix of onboard amenities is also more extensive than any of those others, combining an indoor kitchen, dining area, double bed, bathroom, and outdoor kitchen.

Somewhat odd is the inclusion of both an indoor and outdoor kitchen in the Travelino design. It seems that a design so intent on saving weight and space would opt for one or the other.

Travelino—Lightweight Camper Of The Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

Travelino—Lightweight Camper Of The Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

Since Knaus does not mention any production plans, the Travelino seems likely to remain a design study for now.

Facts and Figures

Body Length: 13 feet (4.00 m)

Interior Width: 6.7 feet (2.04 m)

Interior Height: 6.5 feet (1.98 m)

Weight: 1433 pounds (650 kg)

Fully bonded, weight-optimized sandwich construction

Unique air spring suspension

Roof and floor plate GRP-planked

Windows, doors, and flaps frameless and flush

Screwless furniture cartridge assembly

Waiver of gas as an energy source for heating, kettle etc.

Benefits at a Glance

Travelino—Lightweight Camper Of The Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

Travelino—Lightweight Camper Of The Future Debuts At Motorhome Show

Comfortable ride with built-lowering and leveling

Pleasant, indirect LED lighting above and below the cabinets

Generous storage space solutions

Multifunctional use of space thanks to flexible bath, kitchen, and living solutions

Details

Knaus Tabbert GmbH

Knaus Tabbert GmbH is a leading manufacturer of recreational vehicles in Europe with headquarters in Jandelsbrunn in Lower Bavaria.

Other manufacturing plants are located in Mottgers (Hesse), Obermeitingen in Upper Bavaria, and Nagyoroszi in Hungary.

In business year 2012 the company with its six brands—Knaus, Tabbert, T@b, BavariaCamp, Weinsberg, and Wilk—reached a turnover of Euro 281 million, and with approximately 1,200 employees produced about 13,000 caravans and motorhomes.

Phone: +49 (0) 8583 21 309

Website: www.knaustabbert.de

Worth Pondering…

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

—Albert Einstein

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RV Boom & Expansion Plans

When Thor Industries purchased Shipshewana, Indiana-based KZRV in April, expansion was not on their radar.

KZRV StoneRidge fifth-wheel with black cherry partial paint

KZRV StoneRidge fifth-wheel with black cherry partial paint

But that changed a day after the purchase was finalized when Thor officials walked through the manufacturing plant.

“On the first day after owning them, management stated they could produce more units if they had a lamination facility,” said Bob Martin, president and CEO of Thor Industries.

“We quickly just told them to give us a proposal and a plan. They already had the land.”

KZRV, which manufactures towable recreational vehicles, recently announced that it plans to expand its operations in Shipshewana, creating up to 125 new jobs by 2017, reports the South Bend Tribune.

KZRV will invest up to $4.83 million to construct and equip a new 80,750-square-foot lamination facility in Shipshewana, according to a news release by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. The building, which will be fully operational by late spring 2015, will allow the company to increase its production capacity for lamination, aluminum frame welding, and towable recreational vehicle assembly.

New Spree Connect from KZRV model C282BHS

New Spree Connect from KZRV model C282BHS

Lamination is being moved from an existing building where it shared space with the assembly line.

KZRV currently employs more than 360 full-time workers. It plans to begin hiring aluminum welders and general assembly workers in late spring 2015. Interested applicants may apply in person at the KZRV human resources office in Shipshewana.

Thor Industries’ other companies have their own laminating facilities, so this will be used for KZ only, Martin said.

KZRV produces a full line of towable RVs, from high-end models like the Durango and Stone Ridge to value lines including Sportsmen Classics. The KZRV complex, with the new addition, now consists of eight buildings covering 530,000 square feet.

The Economic Development Corp. offered KZRV up to $1.25 million in conditional tax credits and up to $21,600 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. LaGrange County will consider additional incentives at the request of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp.

The expansion is the fourth announced in the last month by Thor, one of the world’s largest RV manufacturers.

Besides Airstream in Ohio, Thor’s other expansions are taking place at Heartland and Keystone. All told, about 330 jobs will be added to the Elkhart County area over the next several years because of the expansions.

KZRV LP introduces its Spree Sandlewood Edition lightweight travel trailer featuring a champagne full-body exterior.

KZRV LP introduces its Spree Sandlewood Edition lightweight travel trailer featuring a champagne full-body exterior.

Thor Industries, one of the world’s largest RV manufacturers, is based in Elkhart and employs about 9,400 people, most of them in Indiana.

It’s clear the company believes the current RV boom will last for a while.

“Airstream is a more expensive travel trailer,” Martin said.

“For that product alone to have enough production to expand their factory for the first time in 20 years speaks to the health of the industry.”

All the expansions collectively say something, too, he said.

“It’s a telltale sign that we have a positive outlook on the industry and for Thor,” he said.

“We see it as a positive trend for the long term.”

RV Boom

KZ12_StnRdgBG_02About 80 percent of all new RVs in the U.S. are made in Elkhart County.

RV shipments have been up 32 consecutive months.

Year-to-date totals through August reached 246,483, a gain of 9 percent over the 226,125 units shipped through August of last year, according to figures from the Reston, Virginia-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Year-end figures are expected to be more than 300,000 for the second straight year. Recreational vehicle wholesale shipments reached 321,127 units for 2013, a gain of 12.4 percent over the previous year. In 2007, a run of six straight years of 300,000 plus shipments ended.

Worth Pondering…

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.

—Amelia Earhart

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Snowbirds Prep For Annual Migration

Migrating birds don’t have much prep work before they fly southward for the winter.

Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel.

Pictured above Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel across I-10 for a Sunbelt park in Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Snowbirds, on the other hand, must consider how to shut down their residences before taking flight to flee the coming winter’s snow, ice, and bone-chilling cold for southern Sunbelt sunny states.

As the annual migration begins, many homeowners set themselves up for potential disaster.

Leaving a home unoccupied for an extended period of time can put homeowners at risk.

Houses are a lot like teenagers, neither one should be left alone for very long.

Snowbirds come home to problems because they failed to properly plan when they left in the fall.

But simple steps can eliminate the nightmare.

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.

Before heading south for the season, snowbirds must take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Whether you’re new to the snowbird lifestyle or an experienced RVer, creating your own customized checklist is a great way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

Remember, it will be much easier to enjoy your winter in the sun if you have taken steps to protect your home while you are away for an extended period of time.

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

Consider the following eight tips when creating your own winter-ready checklist:

Check expiry dates

Well in advance of your departure, check expiry dates for your passport and other travel documents, driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, credit cards, and membership cards—and renew if necessary.

Home insurance

Check with your insurance agency to determine how extended absences may affect coverage. Determine if your insurer requires regular walk-throughs during your absence and if so, how frequently.

Snow removal
You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep your sidewalks clear of the white stuff that Northerners know all too well.

Contact person
Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. The contact person should have access to your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, be available in emergency situations, and make repair appointments if necessary. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Contact information
Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including cell phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

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

Notify neighbors

Inform trusted neighbors that you will be away for a specified period of time. You’ll want them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Ensure they have a list of contact persons, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Water heater
Adjust the gas water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve.

Upon returning home, relight the pilot if you turned it off, and gradually turn the thermostat to the appropriate setting. Don’t forget to turn the water back on before restarting the water heater.

Home security
Check outdoor security lights to ensure the motion sensors are functioning correctly.

Lock windows and doors, and set the security alarm.

Worth Pondering…

Happy Snowbird Travels!

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day …

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”

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Airstream Announces Interstate Grand Tour Details & Pricing

In an earlier article on Vogel Talks RVing, I reported on the introduction of the new Airstream Interstate Grand Tour.

2015 Interstate Grand Tour

Airstream Announces 2015 Interstate Grand Tour Details & Pricing

Jackson Center Ohio-based Airstream Inc. has now announced additional details and pricing for its newly-released Interstate Grand Tour. The Class B motorhome built on an award-winning Mercedes-Benz chassis now offers custom-designed screen doors to allow Airstreamers to bring the outdoors in, and comes well-equipped at $153,000.

“Like our traditional Airstream travel trailers, the Interstate Grand Tour touring coach packs so much luxury and utility into a convenient package — office, bedroom, galley, the works,” said Airstream CEO and President Bob Wheeler, in a news release.

“It brings the classic Airstream design aesthetic to life, with well thought-out features, exceptional fit and finish and attention to detail.”

Built on the proven foundation of the Airstream Interstate EXT touring coach, the Grand Tour combines an amazing amount of functionality and “home on the road” features for everything from short camping trips to extended adventures with three luxurious Airstream interior décor choices.

The latest design options of the Grand Tour include:

  • Custom-designed screen doors, including a power rollaway screen at the rear and sliding door on the side
  • Larger galley with additional counter and multi-functional storage space
  • Flexible workspace desk and an expanded bathroom area
  • Oversized refrigerator and freezer
  • Standard power awning
2015 Interstate Grand Tour

Airstream Announces 2015 Interstate Grand Tour Details & Pricing

The Interstate is the best-selling Class B motorhome in the United States for three years running, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., and the Grand Tour model expands Airstream’s collaboration with Mercedes-Benz to appeal to the longer-term use buyer.

The Interstate Grand Tour EXT has an overall exterior length of 24 feet, 4.5 inches, an overall exterior width of 6 feet, 7.7 inches,  and an overall exterior height of 9 feet, 8 inches. With its car-like handling, state of the art Mercedes-Benz adaptive stability program, and standard rear backup camera, it is easy to maneuver on the road, in campsites and in parking lots.

Like all Airstream Interstate models, the Grand Tour is built on a proven, heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, providing exceptional fuel economy and driving range from its standard clean-diesel power plant. Safety and security features include six air bags, lane keeping, and collision prevention systems and parking sensors.

Standard features include UltraLeather seating, power rear sofa that converts to a 6-foot 10-inch double bed, Corian countertops, adjustable LED interior lighting, drawer microwave, refrigerator and freezer, large bathroom with shower, navigation system, Kenwood Multimedia Entertainment System with rear speakers, twin high definition LED televisions, and rear storage space. The interior is offered in a range of durable yet luxurious fabrics and colors.

The Interstate Grand Tour also includes Xenon headlights, forged aluminum-alloy wheels, hidden trailer hitch, power awning, and power entry step.

Airstream Interstate Grand Tour specifications include:

  • Chassis: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 Series
  • Engine: Mercedes-Benz 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel
  • GVWR: 11,030 pounds
  • GCWR: 15,250 pounds
  • Estimated Highway MPG: 18+
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 26.4 gallons
  • Fresh Water Tank Capacity: 32 gallons (26 fresh water/6 hot water heater)
  • Gray Water Tank Capacity: 27 gallons
  • Black Water Tank Capacity: 15 gallons
  • MSRP: Starting at $150,346

Details

Airstream

2015 Interstate Grand Tour

Airstream Announces Interstate Grand Tour Details & Pricing

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

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

A division of Thor Industries, Airstream is based in Jackson Center, Ohio.

Address: 419 West Pike Street, P.O. Box 629, Jackson Center, OH 45334-0629

Phone: (877) 596-6111 (toll free)

Website: www.airstream.com

Worth Pondering…

Airstream Song

Sometimes I wish I lived in airstream homemade curtains
Lived just like a gypsy.
Break a heart, roll out of town
Cause gypsies never get tied down
—Lyrics by Miranda Lambert, Natalie Nicole Hemby, Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert; sung by Miranda Lambert

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Preparing Your RV For Winter

Fall is fast approaching, and not far behind another long, northern winter. As the colder weather sets in, those in the Northern climes either snowbird south for the winter or prepare their recreational vehicle for another winter of ice, snow, and freezing temperatures.

Preparing Your RV For Winter

Preparing Your RV For Winter

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon the boughs that shake against the cold
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In Sonnet 73, William Shakespeare makes reference to autumn.

Oh, Autumn, that time of year when the earth changes colors before our very eyes, temperatures start to dip, the light begins to fade away, and RVs are readying for their long winter’s nap.

In true Shakespearean style, let’s count the fourteen things (as in the fourteen lines of a sonnet) that will help prepare your RV for the winter:

Perform end-of-season RV repairs. As with any vehicle that will be sitting for a period of time, it is necessary to take care of any minor or major problems that would be worsened by inactivity and weather.

Check roof for leaks, dents, or tears. Clean and examine the roof for sealant wear or other damage, and repair it. Also ensure that the seals around the doors and outside compartments are working correctly. This will also help to prevent the cold weather from getting in. To ensure that these seals and compartment locks do not freeze up, a graphite lubricant can be applied to the locks and a silicone lubricant can be sprayed around the door and compartment edges.

Preparing Your RV For Winter

Preparing Your RV For Winter

Remove personal items. Inspect the interior living space. Food including canned goods and bottles, bedding, towels (kitchen, bathroom, swim), leisure activities (books, board games, coloring books/crayons, arts/crafts supplies) and other essentials that may be needed during the winter should be stowed away and relocated or packed in an organized manner until spring.

Inventory items remaining in RV. Anything that will be left in the RV, such as kitchen tools and utensils, or bathroom toiletries, should be added to a list and filed with important RV paperwork. If at any time there is a question or concern about what has remained within the unit, this list will serve as a source of referral during the off-season.

Clean refrigerator. Remove all foodstuffs, clean the refrigerator thoroughly, and leave it open a crack. This helps prevent mildew.

Clean the RV. Clean the entire RV, interior and exterior, including all storage areas. Empty gray/black water holding tanks. Dump and flush both black and gray water holding tanks, in an appropriate manner, especially the black water tank. It is not acceptable to empty tanks in a city drain; always use a designated RV dump station.

Winterize water system. The primary concern when winterizing the RV is to ensure the water system is protected against damage caused by freezing. Drain the fresh water tank and hot water heater. Fully back flush the water system to remove all water from the lines. Add RV antifreeze to the system (NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use automobile antifreeze in your RVs water system). Open each faucet, one at a time, until the red-colored antifreeze appears. Don’t forget the shower and toilet. Leave gray water valve open. Shut the faucets.

Preparing Your RV For Winter

Preparing Your RV For Winter

RV tire covers. RV tires are especially vulnerable to the elements. Tire covers help protect tires from the sun’s harmful UV rays in the summer and from damage caused by wind, rain, snow, and freezing temperatures during the winter. Keeping your tires and wheels covered when you store your RV also helps to keep them cleaner and make them last longer and look better at the same time. Tires that are left uncovered can crack and become brittle, causing them to go flat before their time. Secure the tire covers firmly to your tires so that they don’t fly off in windy conditions. Tires should be clean, and kept off the ground during storage; boards work well. Ensure the recommended tire pressure is maintained.

Dehumidifiers. To prevent condensation buildup and help keep mold from forming, place dehumidifiers in each room and outside storage areas.

Remove batteries. Depending on the length of time your RV will be sitting, it may be beneficial to remove batteries to extend their life. Never store batteries directly on concrete.

Cover exterior. Store your RV in a covered area or cover with a tarp for added protection.

Consult owner’s manual. Be sure to check your owner’s manual and follow any additional information on storage, cleaning, and winterizing procedures.

LP gas. Turn off propane valve at the tank.

In conclusion. This list of 14 tips is a good place to start when creating your own winter-ready checklist.

Worth Pondering…

Now is the winter of our discontent.

—William Shakespeare

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Airstream 2 Go & Exclusive Resorts Reinvent the Road Trip

Denver, Colorado-based Exclusive Resorts announced its newest strategic partnership with Airstream 2 Go, a new travel venture offering fully-outfitted Airstream trailer rentals, including luxury tow vehicles.

home-three-image-slide-show-6_16-ntDesigned exclusively for club travelers, each Airstream 2 Go road trip guides guests through the stunning landscapes and natural wonders of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Montana, and Wyoming. The partnership joins Exclusive Resorts’ dynamic portfolio of unique accommodations including the newly added 114-foot Sea Legend yacht and four apartments aboard The World.

“Our club travelers want to invest in the intangible, not the tangible. They aren’t afraid to get their hands a little dirty. These types of do-it-yourself experiences like an Airstream road trip may, in fact, represent the ultimate luxury,” says Cathy Ross, chief operations officer of Exclusive Resorts, in a company news release.

“Our partnership with Airstream 2 Go opens up a new world of discovery for our guests beyond a traditional residence stay, inviting them to gently push their boundaries and fulfill that bucket list item—the great American road trip—in the world’s most iconic RV.”

Exclusive Resorts and Airstream 2 Go have carefully curated each eight- to 10-day road trip to include dedicated pre-trip planning and high-touch service experiences from catered BBQs prepared on-site to private guided hikes with local wildlife experts.

Club travelers can visit and explore America’s national parks, landmark destinations, and breathtaking landscapes from the comfort of their own sleek, modern 28-foot Airstream trailer paired with a dedicated GMC Yukon Denali. Designed by architect Christopher C. Deam, each Airstream interior is outfitted with luxe road tripping essentials from cotton-bamboo towels and flat-screen LED televisions, to integrated sound systems, iPads, camping chairs, and a portable gas grill.

PlanYourTrip“The itineraries we’ve created for Exclusive Resorts are truly one-of-a-kind and ensure that each guest enjoys an authentic road tripping experience without sacrificing the one-on-one service and creature comforts they have come to know and expect from Exclusive Resorts,” said Dicky Riegel, CEO of Airstream 2 Go.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to experience amazing American destinations in a quintessentially American way. It was our mission to make the Airstream 2 Go rental experience as easy and turnkey as possible for Exclusive Resorts, including all the right equipment and accessories to make it memorable.”

The eight-day ‘Canyon Country’ itinerary begins and ends with a luxurious stay at one of Exclusive Resorts’ two-bedroom apartments located on the Las Vegas Strip. On this trip, guests will drive through Canyon Country to Zion National Park in Utah, explore the Navajo Indian lands and stunning slot canyons of Arizona and journey through the majestic Grand Canyon National Park.

The 10-day ‘California Cruising’ itinerary guides travelers along the scenic California coast, leading them from Los Angeles through Yosemite National Park, Monterey, Morro Bay, and Santa Barbara. Along the way, they will partake in nature tours, surf lessons, tide-pool adventures, and more. Club travelers are invited to stop and extend their trip in one of Exclusive Resorts’ California destinations including a new three-bedroom residence in Sonoma or a villa in Newport Beach at the award-winning The Resort at Pelican Hill.

The 10-day ‘Big Sky Loop’ itinerary starts in Bozeman, Montana. From Bozeman, guests will stop to explore the famed Lewis and Clark Caverns before heading to their campsite at Henrys Fork River for a full day of fly-fishing. A guided exploration through the natural wonders of Yellowstone National Park and Gallatin Canyon concludes the Big Sky Country journey. During the trip, travelers can opt to stay at Exclusive Resorts’ sprawling four-bedroom villa in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

AirstreamtogoAirstream 2 Go joins Exclusive Resorts’ dynamic roster of luxury lifestyle partners including renowned event planner Jung Lee, Barneys New York, Leica Camera, and Alain Ducasse, providing members privileged access to some of the most elite happenings in the world traversing the realms of gastronomy, sports and recreation, fashion, and design.

Details

Airstream 2 Go

Airstream 2 Go is the exclusive, factory-authorized source in North America for dedicated rental Airstream trailers.

Phone: (800) 780-9880 (toll free)

Website: www.airstream2go.com

Exclusive Resorts

Exclusive Resorts features more than 300 multimillion-dollar vacation homes worldwide; curated members-only Journeys with exotic adventures spanning seven continents; privileged access to world-class events; exclusive partnerships with award-winning resorts; and a collection of exclusive VIP benefits and privileges with elite travel and luxury lifestyle brands.

Phone: (866) 863-2688 (toll free)

Website: www.exclusiveresorts.com

Worth Pondering…

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

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

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Snowbird Basics

Winter is a time for boots, snow shovels, and icy roads… unless you’re a snowbird who RVs to the Sun Belt.

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As Neil Young once sang, “the summer ends and the winter winds begin to holler all around the bend…”

The cooler temperatures have us thinking about the coming winter: snow, ice, and bone-chilling cold. You’re familiar with the drill: dig out the snow shovel, take the snow blower on a test run, and pull out the warm winter sweaters, parkas, mitts, and snow boots. Such are the joys of a northern winter!

The entire history of the human race is largely a search for comfort. Warm southern winters certainly rate high on my comfort scale.

How about snowbirding?

Snowbirds are typically retired seniors who have the desire and financial ability to be away from home for extended periods of time.

The snowbird lifestyle is to our liking since we can take our home with us when the cold weather arrives and snow begins to falls. For us the snowbird lifestyle is the best of both worlds.

Planning

Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.

Before heading south, snowbirds need to take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Creating a customized checklists is one way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

Consider the following tips as a starting point when creating your winter-ready checklist.

Check expiry dates for travel documents, insurance, and credit cards.

Check with your insurance to determine how extended absences may affect coverage.

You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep sidewalks clear and your home secure.

Ask a friend, trustworthy neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, and be available in emergency situations. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including smart phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

The long-legged, S-necked Great white egret feeds in wetlands, streams, ponds, and tidal flats.

The long-legged, S-necked Great white egret feeds in wetlands, streams, ponds, and tidal flats. Photo above at Corkscrew Sanctuary near Naples, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Place a temporary hold on your newspaper delivery.

Receiving your mail in a timely manner can be a major concern for Snowbirds, full-timers, and other RVers who plan to be on the road for an extended period of time. Arrange with your local postal service to have your mail forwarded to a mail forwarding address. Trusted and reliable mail forwarding services include Good SamEscapees, and Dakota Post.

Unplug all electronics and electrical appliances—microwave, washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator, coffee pot, toaster oven, TVs, audio equipment, radios, and lamps.

Reduce costs and save energy consumption by turning the thermostat down to 45-50 degrees F (7-10 C).

Empty the refrigerator and turn it off. Unplug all electronics and electrical appliances.

Check to ensure that all smoke alarms are in working order and have fresh batteries.

Adjust the water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve.

do your dream

Do Your Dream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This list is a good place to start, but you may take additional steps to secure your home.

Be careful what you post on social media. Burglars have started crawling social media websites to find times when a house will be empty.

Worth Pondering…

It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snowbird life

behind the wheel.

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Are You Overweight? 

Is your RV overweight?

There’s only one way to know for sure: Escapees SmartWeigh.

smartweigh-wtextThe Escapees SmartWeigh program provides accurate individual wheel weights for your RV, toad, and tow vehicle, and will help you trim the pounds if you need to.

The Escapees SmartWeigh program is an RV educational program created by the Escapees RV Club for the exclusive purpose of enhancing safety, enjoyment, and the overall success of the RV lifestyle.

SmartWeigh provides critical RV weight safety and load management information in a highly accurate and usable format. The weights determined and provided to RVers under the auspices of this program will be highly accurate as a result of using very high quality scales, which are annually tested, only suitable weighing sites, and highly trained volunteer personnel.

RV height measurement is also available at the permanent weighing sites. Available by request, just ask your weighmaster. This additional service is offered free of charge.
Escapees SmartWeigh is also available at many Escapees rallies and events.

You must sign up in advance and complete a SmartWeigh information sheet in order to weigh your RV.

To sign up for weekly weighing at a permanent weighing sites, just call the number for the location. You can also sign up for an appointment after arriving at the park (one day in advance is required).

At a rally or event where SmartWeigh is available (Escapades, Boot Camp, etc.), you can register and pay at the SmartWeigh table or booth after you arrive at the event.

SmartWeigh-290x145Permanent weighing sites offer easy and accurate weighing for traveling RVers.

Now with three scale locations to serve RV owners, the Escapees’ SmartWeigh makes it easier than ever to weigh an RV.

Site # 1

The weighing site at Rainbow’s End in Livingston, Texas, has been open all summer on reduced hours, and has resumed normal operating hours September 15. Appointments are available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. To sign up for weighing at Rainbow’s End, just call 888.757.2582 and ask for SmartWeigh registration, or come by the headquarters office in person at least one day in advance.

Site # 2

The SmartWeigh RV weighing site at North Ranch, in Congress, Arizona, will open for business November 24. Appointments are available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, or to schedule an appointment at North Ranch, contact George Wickholm, the onsite weighmaster, at 509.999.4429 or e-mail him at smartweigh2@escapees.com.

Site # 3

The SmartWeigh RV weighing site at Sumter Oaks RV park, in Bushnell, Florida, opened for business September 22. Appointments are available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, or to schedule an appointment at Sumter Oaks, contact Gaylord Coston, the onsite weighmaster, at 717.805.3400, or e-mail him at smartweigh3@escapees.com.

Weighing Fees

Motorhome: $45

Towed Vehicle (Toad): $10

Towable RV and Tow Vehicle: $55

Truck Camper: $45

Details

escapees logoEscapees SmartWeigh

Escapees SmartWeigh provides highly accurate corner weights (individual wheel weights) to help RV owners assure that their RV operates within all laws, rules, and recommendations it is subject to. The weights provided by SmartWeigh are not “certified weights”, and are intended for information purposes only.

Website: www.escapees.com/smartweigh

Escapees RV Club

Address: 100 Rainbow Drive, Livingston, TX 77351

Phone: (888) 757-2582 or (936) 327-8873

Website: www.escapees.com

Worth Pondering…

As you go through life, when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

—Yogi Berra

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San Gabriel Mountains Newest National Monument

A large area of the San Gabriel Mountains is now a national monument.

San Gabriel Mountains Newest National Monument

San Gabriel Mountains Newest National Monument

During the final day of a Southern California visit President Obama made the announcement during a signing ceremony in the wilderness northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

346,000 acres of national forest land—from Santa Clarita to San Bernardino—was set aside Friday (October 10) during a ceremony at Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park in the San Gabriel Valley community of San Dimas. The rugged mountains provided a backdrop for the event, at which Obama described the “magnificent” mountains as an important part of the nation’s history.

The towering mountain range, which spans 655,000 acres from Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County west to Interstate 5 in Los Angeles County, draws more than 3 million visitors a year who ski, bike, hunt, hike, and horseback ride in its remote reaches.

The snow-capped mountains in winter provide a postcard-perfect picture for the foothill communities of Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, and beyond. They also provide a critical drinking water source for Southern California.

The exact boundaries of the monument, which is the nation’s 110th, have not been released, reported The Press Enterprise.

The snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains as seen from the Interstate 10 and 215 freeways in Colton. (Photo credit: David Bauman, Press Enterprise)

The snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains as seen from the Interstate 10 and 215 freeways in Colton. (Photo credit: David Bauman, Press Enterprise)

The national monument announcement caps an 11-year effort to earn federal protections for the land, which has been marred by graffiti and vandalism, and trails that have not been maintained, said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena.

“This marks the biggest change for the mountains since 1908 and is an important and immediate step towards fixing these problems. With this designation, the San Gabriels will become a priority, opening up new streams of funding that can be used to ensure that the mountains achieve their full potential for all the people who have gone there to hike, fish, or just enjoy fresh air,” Chu said in a statement.

While praise for the pending designation was widespread, so was the criticism.

San Bernardino County supervisors, who first found out about the proposed monument in late August, voted unanimously in September to oppose it.

“We’re outraged by the process that we’ve been completely excluded from,” said Janice Rutherford, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors whose district includes the south-facing side of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Rutherford and Supervisor Robert Lovingood traveled to Washington, D.C., on September 19 to meet with U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonney and express their concerns.

A January 2008 storm left snow on the San Gabriel Mountains. (Photo credit: Kurt Miller, Press Enterprise)

A January 2008 storm left snow on the San Gabriel Mountains. (Photo credit: Kurt Miller, Press Enterprise)

“The National Monument proposal has bypassed public input from San Bernardino County residents, skirts Congress, and has failed to answer even the most basic questions on how this will impact the public,” said Lovingood, whose district includes north-facing portions of the mountain range.

Judi Nelson, the mayor of Glendora, said she fears such a designation will bring restrictions on the popular forest, which offers seclusion and the full gamut of outdoor activities.

“The National Forest Service has managed our mountains for over 100 years and they have done a good job, but they’re underfunded. And having this monument doesn’t mean there will be money,” Nelson said.

Proponents have said recreational activities will not be limited under the national monument designation, which could open lines of public-private partnerships. They said operations at the Mount Baldy ski resort will continue uninterrupted and cabin owners with federal leases will not be affected.

Members of the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Coalition, which includes business leaders, environmental groups, churches, and water districts, devoted years to winning the designation, which they say will provide improved visitor services, including safe river access, more rangers and multilingual signs and displays.

The forest and its rivers provide habitat for endangered and sensitive species, including Nelson’s bighorn sheep, California condors, mountain lions, and native fish, said Daniel Rossman, the group’s chairman.

“The San Gabriel Mountains are a dramatic landmark that can be seen from the desert to the sea,” Rossman said.

“And when it becomes a national monument, the forest will receive the recognition and attention it so rightfully deserves.”

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

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