Five Things You Need to Know Today: March 23

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle is a five-level cliff dwelling nestled into a limestone alcove. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Montezuma Castle National Monument located a short distance north of Camp Verde has been described as America’s best-preserved cliff dwelling. A Sinaguan pueblo ruin, Montezuma Castle was built in a recess about five stories high and contains 20 rooms. Montezuma did not actually live there—it was so named by early settlers who mistook the style to be Aztecan.

The misattribution is traced to the 1870s, when explorers, doubting that the area’s indigenous people could have built such elaborate structures 150 feet up a sheer cliff, deemed the dwellings as magnificent as the Aztec ruins in Mexico. Furthermore, the castle was abandoned almost a century before Montezuma was born.

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2. Conversion Coach Market Declines

Conversion bus shells, which traditionally have represented 10% to 15% of the commercial bus market, have declined in market share since a high point of 20.4% in 2004 to a total of 64 conversion shells in 2011 for a total of 4.0% of the U.S. bus market, according to National Bus Trader’s (NBT) March issue.

“It is interesting that while conversion shells dropped to 11.8% of the market in 2006,” says NBT, “they rebounded to 14.2% in 2007 with 309 coaches. Then the market share fell again in 2008 when the number of conversion shells declined to 195 coaches, representing only 9.7% of the total market. Figures for 2009 saw a further decline to 73 coaches and a market share of only 4.4%.

Meanwhile, refurbishing older conversion and commercial coaches, the latter of which is a real growth element in the southern Elkhart County, Indiana, community of Nappanee, has been gaining favor.

3. Living the RV life

Sales of recreational vehicles are on the rebound, with the biggest growth among families with kids, and of lighter models that can be towed by more vehicles.

Nationwide, about 8.9 million households own RVs—the highest ever—according to a 2011 University of Michigan survey. That’s up from 5 million 30 years ago.

Manufacturers cranked out 252,000 RVs last year—the highest total in four years but still well below the 390,000 shipped in 2006.

The average age of an RVer is 48, and 39 percent had children under 18 living at home, according to that University of Michigan survey. The largest gain in RV ownership over the past five years has been the 35 to 54 age group, and they make up nearly half of all RV households. Still, 3.6 million baby boomer households have an RV.

4. Chinese OEM Produces First Motorhome

A Chinese Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) first motorhome with self-owned intellectual property rights came off the production line in Qingdao on March 21, according to People’s Daily Online.

The motorhome produced by the Qingdao Chuntian Science and Technology Vehicle Co. Ltd has an internal area of 215 square feet. It is divided into four areas including sitting room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom and is equipped with modern conveniences such as kitchen range, refrigerator, and air conditioning.

Since early 2009, the company has begun to develop new energy vehicles including the motorhomes that can be powered by the solar energy and wind energy. Currently, solar energy technology has been widely applied in the motorhome developed by the company, said Liu Jie, a company representative.

5. Good Sam Rally Underway in Phoenix

Thousands of RVers converged on the Phoenix International Raceway yesterday (March 22) for the first Good Sam Rally of 2012, which runs through Sunday.

The entertainment lineup includes two Platinum recording artists: Bill Cosby and Martina McBride.

Rally-goers will also enjoy daily trade shows featuring acres of RVs on display—including a few to test-drive around the track—and hundreds of exhibitors offering a wide range of RV parts and accessories. There will also be daily seminars and tours of landmarks and activities in the Phoenix area, including a spring training game pitting the San Diego Padres against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Good Sam is hosting two other 2012 rallies: June 21-24 in Louisville, Kentucky, and November 2-4 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Worth Pondering…

When your spirit cries for peace, come to a world of canyons deep in an old land; feel the exultation of high plateaus, the strength of moving wasters, the simplicity of sand and grass, and the silence of growth.

—August Fruge

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