Five Things You Need to Know Today: May 25

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

1. Weekend Campers See Steady Fuel Prices

Vacationing campers won’t need to worry about rising fuel prices as they hit the road for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Retail U.S. gasoline prices were flat at $3.678 per gallon on Wednesday (May 23), according to auto club AAA, Wright Express, and Oil Price Information Service.

According to The Associated Press, the nationwide average for a gallon of regular unleaded has dropped by 25.8 cents since peaking in the first week of April. Gasoline is 16.5 cents per gallon cheaper than it was the same time last year.

It’s all a reflection of falling crude oil prices.

The price of oil tumbled below $90 on Wednesday for the first time in nearly seven months as U.S. supplies continue to grow.

2. Pacific Coachworks Introduces ECON Lightweight Trailer

ECON trailer from Pacific Coachworks

Pacific Coachworks Inc. announced the launch of its all-new line of ECON lightweight series trailers. The line will include a toy hauler floor plan named the ECON X.

“This product is in high demand and recent events have created what we feel to be a big void in the already successful lightweight trailer market,” said Pacific Coachworks General Manager Jeff Daily in a news release.

Brett Bashaw, CEO and president of the Riverside, Calif.-based builder, noted he is expecting that the new ECON will “add to the success and growth of the company as did the Tango, Panther, Powerlite and SandSport products after being introduced into the market during the past 12 months.”

3. South Dakota State Park Visitation Up

Many top camping spots in South Dakota have already reported a 10 to 20 percent increase in visitors. Game Fish and Parks report they’ve already booked 37,000 campsites for the summer, up from last year’s 29,000, according to KSFY-TV, Sioux Falls.

Lake Herman State Park is home to 72 campsites and looking ahead to one very busy weekend.

“Last I heard, our park was full and that means we have a very busy weekend ahead. Walker’s Point and Lake Herman are full for this weekend,” John Bame said.

“It might attribute to the warmer spring we had, and April was a good month as well. A lot of our counts increased because a lot of people came out early to recreate due to the good weather,” Bame said.

To plan for a busy weekend, staff makes sure they’ve got a clean park and each site is ready to be enjoyed.

4. Brenham: Ice Cream Capital of Texas

“Brenham—Ice Cream Capital of Texas” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Brenham—Ice Cream Capital of Texas,” proclaims the giant sign at the corner of U.S. 290 and FM 577, which becomes Blue Bell Road, home to Blue Bell Creameries.

The tour begins in a small projection room with a brief, humorous video depicting the history of Blue Bell, founded in 1907 as the Brenham Creamery Company. Afterward, a guide leads visitors upstairs to watch cream transform into frozen confections. Tour-goers peer through large, glass windows that overlook the various processing areas, Stainless steel vats and chutes crank out the chilly treats into paper tubs, which are loaded into boxes headed for the freezer.

For more on the sweet story of “the little creamery” in Brenham and the tasting test, go here.

5. San Antonio River Walk

Since 1938 the River Walk has been a hub of culture for San Antonio. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The famed San Antonio River Walk is 2 1/2 miles of beautifully landscaped waterfront with hotels, restaurants, nighclubs, and shopping and is one of the main tourist attractions in the state of Texas.

Historically, the waterway was used by Spanish explorers to provide water to their missions. In 1929, Robert H.H. Hugman submitted his design plans to turn the area into a beautiful urban park with apartments, dining, shopping and boat rides.

Since 1938 the River Walk has been a hub of culture for San Antonio. You can learn about San Antonio’s history aboard a river cruise, people watch as you enjoy delicious food on many of the restaurant’s outdoor patios and simply enjoy this beautiful piece of the Lone Star State.

For the complete story of San Antonio’s Paseo del Río or River Walk , read San Antonio River Walk: Jewel of the City.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Please Note: As a result of limited interest in “Five Things You Need to Know Today”, I’m suspending this Friday feature with this issue.

Worth Pondering…

Happiness flutters in the air whilst we rest among the breaths of nature.

—Kelly Scheaffer

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: May 18

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

1. RV Trip Wizard Available

RV Trip Wizard sample

RV Trip Wizard is a visual planning tool designed for RVers by RVers. Introduced at several Florida RV shows, it has received strong interest from a wide variety of RV owners, the developer announced.

Richard Hill, a partner in the company and long time RVer said, “A few years ago my wife and I made a 7,200 mile trip around the USA. It took us about two and one half weeks to do all the planning. That same trip can be planned in about 30 minutes using RV Trip Wizard.”

The wizard is accessible from all PCs, MACs, tablet computers, and smart phones. There is no software to buy, maintain, or update. A subscription includes a 15-day free trial and is available at rvtripwizard.com.

2. Outwell Offers Pack ‘n’ Go for RVers

Outwell Wayfarer 65 Jet Black Pack N Go Storage Bag

Bourne, UK-based camping brand Outwell has developed a range of storage solutions, the Pack ‘n’ Go collection, aimed at RV owners and campers, reports Out & About Live.

The Pack ’n’ Go collection replaces the storage boxes, grips, carrier bags, and other containers that are traditionally filled with camping gear ready for the big trip.

Using feedback from campers, the Outwell Research and Development team created the Pack ’n’ Go collection’s four ranges to address packing and storage problems associated with various outdoor scenarios:

  • Break Away collection of versatile multi-purpose storage bags
  • Day Away collection of Drift daypacks bags, Stash shoulder bags, and Coral and Coast beach/shopping bags
  • Safe Away collection of personal storage and travel safety items that range from wash bags to neck pillows
  • Cook Away collection of practical kitchen storage, coolbag, and water carrying products

For more information visit outwell.com.

3. Forest River’s Starcraft Bus Earns Ford Honor

Goshen, Indiana-based Starcraft Bus, a division of Forest River Inc., has been named Ford’s top volume pool account for the sixth consecutive year.

According to a news release, the manufacturer has purchased and sold more Ford E350/E450 bus chassis than any other bus maker in the United States.

“We look forward to our ongoing partnership with Ford as we move forward into the next decade,” said Starcraft Bus President David Wright.

Starcraft Bus services many markets, including hotels, churches, retirement centers, tour operators, and all aspects of public and private transportation. In addition to Ford, it also builds on GM and International chassis.

4. Oil Boom County Lifts RV Park Moratorium

Dunn County in western North Dakota will lift its crew camp moratorium June 1.

The Board of County Commissioners decided on Wednesday (May 16) that it will also ask the planning and zoning committee to set parameters on the number of beds and locations if different from what is stated in the zoning ordinance, The Dickinson Press reported.

“We need a place for these people to stay,” said Commissioner Tim Steffan. “If there is no place for these people to stay, they’re going to stay in all of these other places, but I think we need restrictions on them. Zero tolerance.”

Over the past year, Dunn County commissioners approved construction of six crew camps. Camps housing more than 1,000 oil workers are already in operation in Killdeer and Manning, small communities located north of Dickinson.

5. How to Locate a Dump Station?

RV owners periodically find themselves needing to locate an RV dump station.

This may be a result of dry camping with no sewer service or dump station available, spending the night at Wal-Mart or a truck stop or the weekend at a public recreation area without dumping facilities, or trying to get on the road quickly without taking the time to use the campground dump station.

Also affected are RVers that work on the road, tailgate at college and pro football games, NASCA races, agricultural fairs and exhibitions, dog shows, and other local and national events.

Finding an RV dump station along your route, near your destination, or in your home town can be a major challenge.

Click here to continue reading.

Have a great weekend.

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

Please Note: As a result of limited interest in “Five Things You Need to Know Today”, I’m planning on suspending this Friday feature at the end of May with next Friday, May 25 being the finale. If you wish to weigh in please leave your comment on my Facebook page.

Worth Pondering…

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would rather not.

—Thomas Jefferson

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: May 11

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

1. MCD to Open Elkhart Office & Warehouse

McKinney, Texas-based MCD Innovations has announced plans to open a regional sales office and warehouse facility in Elkhart, Indiana.

“With the phenomenal growth MCD is experiencing in the RV roller shade market, it is time to locate a facility closer to where most of the RVs are manufactured,” said Senior RV Market Manager Travis Townsley.

For the time being, MCD will continue to manufacture all of its shade products at its plant in McKinney, but the new facility will have capacity to warehouse emergency backup inventory for their OEM customers.

“We believe in making quality products right here in the USA,” said Townsley. “Our

The new Elkhart location will further enhance our position in the heart of the RV manufacturing industry and enable the Company to provide immediate support to the OEM community in meeting their window shade requirements.”

2. Tennessee State Parks Partner with Titans on NFL Play60
Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Titans are partnering in a number of unique ways as part of the NFL Play60 effort, encouraging kids to stay active, eat healthy, and become more physically fit—all while enjoying one of Tennessee’s great 53 state parks.

Tennessee is the first state park system to participate in the NFL Play60 campaign, which features outreach into local schools and communities to engage children with messages and activities that promote outdoor experiences, the natural world, healthy lifestyles and fun.

A highlight of the local NFL Play60 project includes 30 school visits planned throughout the state, pairing T-Rac, the Tennessee Titans award-winning mascot, with Ramble the Raccoon, Tennessee State Parks’ own beloved mascot.

3. Forest River to Build New Toy Hauler Plant

Forest River's XLR Thunderbolt toy hauler

Elkhart, Indiana-based Forest River will soon break ground on a new 100,000-square-foot facility at the company’s 240-acre industrial park on Century Drive in Goshen, Indiana, to house production of its XLR toy hauler lines.

The new facility will produce XLR’s four distinct toy hauler lines: the conventional-built, 102-inch wide body Nitro; laminated lightweight Hyper Light; V-nose designed Viper; and the upscale Thunderbolt.

Forest River currently manufactures motorhomes (Berkshire, Charleston, Forester, Georgetown, Lexington, Sunseeker, and Tsunami), travel trailers and fifth wheels (Cardinal, Cedar Creek, Cherokee, Day Dreamer, Flagstaff, r-pod, Rockwood, Salem, Sandpiper, Shamrock, Sierra, Surveyor, V-Cross, Wildcat, and Wildwood), park models (Kabana, Quailridge, and Summitt), and modular and hud homes (Sterling and Hart Homes).

4. Wasatch Front Parks in Utah to Open Early

Last winter, snowfall on the Wasatch Front in north central Utah piled up and broke records, forcing campgrounds to open later in the season. This year, the area ended up at the other end of the snow gauge and the campgrounds will soon be up and running, KSL-TV, Salt Lake City, reported.

“I just remember trudging through snow,” Carole Majeske said, recalling a walk through Spruces Campground in Big Cottonwood Creek last May. “There were five- to six-foot snowdrifts throughout the campground.”

This year, the National Forest Service recreation manager was treated to a nice spring stroll through the same area, with temperatures in the 70s.

5. Active Network Launches New iPhone Apps

Active Network Inc. has launched two iPhone mobile applications for the ReserveAmerica.com and Recreation.gov outdoor recreation websites. The apps allow users to easily find and reserve campsites at national parks, forests, campgrounds and other recreation facilities, according to a news release.

ReserveAmerica, a media property of Active Network, is the largest provider of online campsite reservations in North America.

Unlike other apps on the market, users can view instant site availability information on RV, tent, cabins, day-use, and other campground sites. The ReserveAmerica app is currently featured on the “Get Outside” section of the iTunes app store.

Have a great weekend.

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

Please Note: As a result of limited interest in “Five Things You Need to Know Today”, I’m planning on suspending this Friday feature at the end of May with Friday, May 25 being the finale. If you wish to weigh in please leave your comment on my Facebook page.

Worth Pondering…

Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation how it shall be spent.

—Samuel Jackson

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: May 4

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

1. Florida RV SuperShow Receives National Ranking

The 2011 Florida RV SuperShow earned the No. 14 ranking in the recently released 2011 Top 250 Trade Shows compiled by the Tarsus Group’s Trade Show News Network (TSNN), according to a news release.

The list represents the top 250 trade shows held last year in the U.S. ranked by net square footage.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, was ranked No. 17 and the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association’s Hershey Show in Pennsylvania was ranked No. 20.

“We’re happy to get the recognition,” Lance Wilson, executive director for the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) which annually host the Tampa show. “The FRVTA is committed to making the Florida RV SuperShow not only the largest but the most profitable and successful show for our exhibitors, and the 2013 SuperShow is already looking like another winner.”

The 2013 Florida RV SuperShow will be held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, January 16-20.

2. How to Locate a Dump Station?

RV owners periodically find themselves needing to find an RV dump station.

This may be a result of dry camping with no sewer service or dump station available, or making one-night layovers and trying to get on the road quickly without using the campground or RV resort dump station on the way out.

Also affected are RVers working on the road or visiting places such as ball games, auto races, or dog shows, and not being near campgrounds or RV resorts.

It is important to understand that the number of public dump stations at highway rest stops and some travel centers is gradually being reduced because of maintenance, service, and vandalism concerns.

3. RVing & Camping at the Best Parks in America

Best Parks in America, a national network of 65 of the highest rated RV parks and campgrounds in America, announces the availability of its newest affiliate directory, RVing & Camping at the Best Parks in America.

The directory is available free of charge at all participating parks and can be ordered from the website.

“We are pleased to provide a convenient way for avid outdoor enthusiasts to plan their leisure vacation trips”, said David Gorin, President of Best Parks in America. “For years, the camping vacationer has had to ‘guess’ whether the park would have the experience they were looking for . . . we are taking the guesswork out of vacation planning by providing a resource of highly rated RV parks and campgrounds that focus on great camping experiences.”

The directory also offers information on Best Guests in America, the complementary loyalty and rewards club for travelers who enjoy visiting the best parks as they travel. Membership in Best Guests is free always and members receive special VIP treatment whenever they check in at one of the Best Parks.

4. Thor Industries Posts 9% Increase in Sales

Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor Industries Inc. reported a 9 percent increase in sales for its fiscal third quarter, ended April 30.

Preliminary consolidated sales in the third quarter were $925.35 million, up from $852 million in the third quarter last year. RV sales in the quarter were $806.5 million, a 9 percent increase from $742.8 million the previous year. Bus sales in the quarter also rose 9 percent to $118.9 million compared $109.3 million a year ago.

Consolidated sales in the nine months totaled nearly $2.2 billion, up 11 percent from nearly 2 billion in the prior year period. RV sales during the period rose 11 percent to $1.87 billion compared with nearly $1.7 billion the previous year. Bus sales in the nine months were $326.2 million, up 9% from $298.5 million in the year-ago period.

5. Red Rock Country: Sedona

Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona is an Arizona destination not to be missed—a must-see wonders.

Sedona easily makes the “A” list of RV destinations in the U.S. due to its rugged western appeal and colorful rock formations. Tourists come from around the world to absorb the natural wonders of Red Rock Country and Sedona, its centerpiece.

Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, another scenic destination, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Coffee Pot Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Courthouse Butte, as well as its surrounding lush forests.

Click here to read more on this RVing hot spot.

Have a great weekend.

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

Please Note: As a result of limited interest in “Five Things You Need to Know Today”, I’m planning on suspending this Friday feature at the end of May with Friday, May 25 being the finale. If you wish to weigh in please leave your comment on my Facebook page.

Worth Pondering…

When you’re traveling, ask the traveler for advice, not someone whose lameness keeps him in one place.
—Rumi

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: April 27

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

1. Good Sam Appears Sunday on Celebrity Apprentice
Good Sam, one of America’s most recognized organizations was selected to be featured as a task sponsor on a 2012 segment of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” featuring American business mogul Donald J. Trump. The episode will highlight some of the many benefits and services Good Sam provides to the community.

Donald Trump commented, “Good Sam, one of the world’s largest lifestyle organizations, provides a wide and wonderful array of products and services, and we are very pleased to have them on our show.” Trump continued, “I think the episode is exciting and definitely a great fit for our audiences.”

“We are pleased to partner with Mr. Trump with his pop culture phenomenon, ‘The Celebrity Apprentice,” remarked Chairman and CEO of Good Sam, Marcus Lemonis. “Both Good Sam and ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ have a similar focus on charitable works and Good Sam is focused on providing customer assistance in a multitude of channels. Look forward to seeing Good Sam reveal a new image to the audience.”

The Good Sam featured episode will air this Sunday, April 29 on NBC at 9/8 Central.

2. 2013 Fleetwood 33-Foot Excursion Receives Good Reviews

Fleetwood RV Excursion Class A

Decatur, Indiana-based Fleetwood RV Inc. new Excursion Class A has drawn a lot of good reviews since its debut at RVIA’s National RV Trade Show last winter as one of a handful of shorter new diesel motorhomes.

But it’s not really the Excursion’s compact 33-foot length as much as its competitive $175,000 retail price tag that will draw buyers, says Fleetwood President and CEO John Draheim.

The Excursion, built on a Freightliner-based Power Bridge chassis powered by a 300-hp Cummins 6.7-Liter ISB engine mated to an Allison 2100MH transmission, has undergone minor dealer-suggested upgrades since its initial introduction.

For additional information on the 2013 Fleetwood 33-foot Excursion, click here.

3. No Finer Day in Shiner

The classic Shiner Bock is a God given blessing. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The classic Shiner Bock is a God given blessing. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Texas, the mere mention of the word “Shiner” immediately brings to mind thoughts of a cold longneck and the distinctive brew within. However, before the beer, there was the town.

Not surprisingly, the best way to learn the history of Shiner is to learn the history of Shiner Beer, as the two have been intertwined for more than a hundred years. So, I headed to Spoetzl Brewery and joined the day’s first tour.

Shiner beer started in 1909 when the town’s thirsty German and Czech immigrants decided to start a brewery to make the traditional Bavarian brews of their homeland. In 1914, legendary brewmaster Kosmos Spoetzl took over and the rest is history.

The Spoetzl Brewery is now the oldest independent brewery in Texas and still brews every drop of Shiner Beer from its “little brewery” in Shiner.

The tour gave me a firsthand look into the brewing process and, of course, a firsthand sampling of the final product, from flagstaff Shiner Boch to the 102 Double Wheat. The tour is the best way to sample the spectrum of Shiner, and it whet my curiosity as to what else the town had to offer including Friday’s Chicken.

Click here to read more stories on Shiner Boch.

4. RVs May Soon Boycott Maine

The Maine Revenue Service (MRS) has decided that the business owner of an RV that is rented to a customer who spends more than 24 hours in Maine with that RV owes the state sales tax on the original price of the RV, reports Down East.

MRS is now auditing a Vermont company, Travel-Rite, in order to collect that sales tax on all of the company’s RVs that have been rented by customers for travel in Maine.

“Imagine this scenario,” testified Chad Shepard, Travel Rite’s owner.

“Under Maine’s current tax system, Maine would impose a $5,000 use tax, which is 5 percent of the original purchase price of $100,000, even though we only earned $200 of rent from the time the RV was in Maine,” he said.

Shepard was obviously worried that his liability will run “well into the six figures” after renting RVs that traveled to Maine for many years. After 17 years in business, he said a bill of this magnitude from the MRS would “put us out of business.”

He also reported that many other companies will be vulnerable, although right now the MRS seems to have targeted his company.

Vacationland to Taxationland! Call this change truth in advertising.

5. California Increased Cost of Annual State Park Passes
California State Parks announced it will be raising the price of four of its annual passes as of May 1, 2012. Day use and camping fees will remain at 2009 levels.
The passes to be increased are as follows:

  • Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass: Current: $125; New: $195
  • Golden Poppy Vehicle Day Use Pass: Current: $90; New: $125
  • Boat Use Pass (Sticker): Current: $75; New: $100
  • Limited Use Golden Bear Pass: Current: $10; New: $20

This increase will bring the price of the annual passes more in line with the standard of 12-15 visits to pay for an annual pass.

State Parks is not sure how much revenue this will generate in the short term, but roughly estimates between $1 million and $1.5 million per year more for state parks as visitors get accustomed to the new prices. This is not enough to prevent park closures brought about by the $22 million reduction in the State Parks’ budget, but it will help mitigate the severe service reductions at parks remaining open throughout the system.

Have a great weekend.

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

Worth Pondering…

Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.

—Roy Goodman

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: April 20

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

1. New Winnebago “ONE” Travel Trailer Available

Winnebago ONE exterior. (Credit: PRNewsFoto/Winnebago Industries, Inc.)

Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries, a leading recreation vehicle manufacturer has launched the company’s first Winnebago brand travel trailer since 1983.

Unique features on the Winnebago ONE include standard laminated high-gloss gel coated fiberglass exteriors, a residential style sectional sofa, a hide-away computer table, interior, and exterior convenience centers, industry-best kitchen countertop space, private bathrooms, radius interior ceilings, and memory foam mattresses.

Initially, Winnebago ONE is available in four floor plans ranging from 26- to 34-feet in length.

“We feel that branding the first travel trailer line as Winnebago ONE is quite fitting for many reasons,” states Fred Hershberger, National Sales Manager for Winnebago Industries Towables.

For the complete story on the ONE travel trailer, click here.

2. New Kansas State Park Online Reservation System

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has announced that its new online reservation site is open for business.

Built by Active Network, Inc., a cloud-based activity and participant management solutions provider, the new system makes it easy to find and reserve campsites and cabins in the state parks as well as cabins at certain state fishing lakes and wildlife areas.

It is hosted on ReserveAmerica.com, a media property of Active Network for camping reservations. The online registration system powered by ActiveWorks cloud technology was launched on schedule just after midnight on Tuesday, April 17.

For more information, contact the nearest KDWPT state park or phone the Pratt Operations Office, 620.672.5911, and ask for the Parks Division.

3. Park’s Path Welcomes Golfers

“The Park’s Path: An Alabama Golf Destination,” is the new name for the Alabama State Parks golf trail.

Also new to Alabama State Parks golf experience is the Parks Path Golf Card, which allows players to receive 50 percent off of green fees at any of the six trail courses. The cards will be available for purchase at the Joe Wheeler, Oak Mountain, Lakepoint, Roland Cooper, Gulf and Lake Guntersville pro shops.

Courses included in the Path are:

  • The “General” at Joe Wheeler
  • The “Oaks” at Oak Mountain
  • The “Sanctuary” at Lakepoint
  • “Deer Haven” at Roland Cooper
  • The “Refuge” at Gulf State Park
  • The “Eagle’s Nest” at Lake Guntersville

For additional information and details, see Six Courses, One Name: Alabama State Parks Golf Trail Named.

4. Vintage Travel Trailers Restored

Even on a cold, dank day, it gleams and shimmers, this 1957 Airstream Flying Cloud travel trailer. But that’s nothing compared to the glint in Kevin O’Connell’s eye as he stands back and admires a classic example of Americana.

O’Connell stands in the expansive workshop of his second-career business and first-rank labor of love, Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers, just off the main drag of Guerneville, California.

Around him are examples of a bygone period, those carefree Eisenhower years when people hit the open road in souped-up trailers and campers that catered to their every need as they traveled from state park to KOA sites to see America with the family.

For the complete story on Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers, click here.

5. Need a Dump Station?

Credit: Sanidumps.com

RV owners periodically find themselves needing to find an RV dump station. This may be a result of dry camping with no sewer service or dump station available, or making one-night layovers and trying to get on the road quickly without using the campground or RV resort dump station on the way out.

Also affected are RVers working on the road or visiting places such as ball games, auto races, or dog shows, and not being near campgrounds or RV resorts.

It is important to understand that the number of public dump stations at highway rest stops and some travel centers is gradually being reduced because of maintenance, service, and vandalism concerns.

Have a great weekend.

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

Worth Pondering…

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.

—G.K. Chesterton

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: April 13

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

1. South Dakota State Parks See Record Number Campers

Custer State Park buffalo round-up. (Source: travelsd.com)

It may seem a bit early to get out the camping equipment, but that’s exactly what many people are doing this year in South Dakota.

“We’ve seen visitors from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado,” Custer State Park Campground Manager Lance Catron told KELO-TV, Sioux Falls.

“With the perfect weather that we’ve had in March, the reasonable temperatures have helped us out tremendously,” Catron said.

And while Custer State Park rented three times as many camping sites this March as they did last, the numbers for the entire state are even greater. Statewide, South Dakota’s state campsites saw a 388 percent increase.

“If everything holds true, we’ll have one of the best camping seasons we’ve ever had here in Custer State Park,” Catron said.

State parks are well on their way to breaking more records. Campground reservations are up 15 percent at Custer State Park compared to this time last year.

2. Passport America

Passport America, a family-run business, is the “original” 50% Discount Camping Club.

Passport America invented the 50% discount concept in 1992 and continued to improve upon the concept. Their stated goal is to save you money.

More than 1600 campgrounds across the US, Canada, and Mexico currently participate in the Passport America Program.

Disclaimer: I am a member of Passport America but do not represent or promote them.

To read more about Passport America and other discount camping clubs, click here.

3. Safe Driving Tips

RVs are not difficult to drive but there are a few things to keep in mind that will make your travels safer and more enjoyable.

Check lights before traveling. Prior to starting your day’s travel check the functioning of all signal lights, 4-way flashers, brake lights, and head lights.

Look well ahead. DO NOT overdrive your visibility—90% of all driving decisions are visual based.

Leave Yourself an Out. Determine the lane of least resistance and safety and maintain safe following distances. Leave room to change lanes when stopping behind another vehicle. Is there a way out of here? DO NOT drive your RV into any place that you can’t see a way out of—especially if that RV is a large motorhome towing a car.

Click here for more RV driving tips.

4. Tornadoes: The What, When & Where

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. (NSSL photo courtesy Seymour)

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms.

People, recreational vehicles, cars, and even buildings may be hurled aloft by tornado-force winds—or simply blown away. Most injuries and deaths are caused by flying debris.

A tornado is a vertical funnel of violently rotating air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.

The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 miles per hour or more and can clear-cut a pathway in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.

Once a tornado in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, carried a motel sign 30 miles and dropped it in Arkansas!

To read more on tornadoes, click here.

5. Money Saving Tips: Extending Your RV Travel Dollars

We all know that times are tough. The economic downturn has touched everyone. Many are facing unemployment and dwindling home values. Nobody knows when the economy will pick back up, or when Americans will begin to spend their hard-earned money again. When the economy tanks, we look for savings—and that true for everyone, including RVers.

Saving money on unnecessary spending frees up bucks for other things. While an RV is one of the biggest investments we can make, the ways we can save when camping with our RVs, are almost limitless.

For tips that will help you save money while still enjoying all the fun, freedom, and flexibility oft RV travel, click here.

Have a great weekend.

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

Worth Pondering…

I think, therefore I am.

I listen, therefore I know.

I travel to discover, therefore I grow.

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: April 6

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

1. Expanded Campground near Prescott Reopens

Massive boulders of ancient rock have weathered into delicately balanced forms and fanciful shapes, reflected in the surface of Watson Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Massive boulders of ancient rock have weathered into delicately balanced forms and fanciful shapes, reflected in the surface of Watson Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

City of Prescott officials are reopening the campground at Watson Lake following the addition of campsites and upgraded sites, bringing the total to 35, reports Prescott eNews.

The campground is open Thursday through Monday nights and camping costs $15 per night.

Watson Lake also offers fishing and boating with two different launch ramps and canoe and kayak rentals are available during the weekends. The lake is located in the Granite Dells area along Highway 89 in Prescott.

Click here to read more on Watson Lake and Prescott.

2. Tennessee Passes Law Requiring Carbon Monoxide Detector in Rental RVs

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law a bill to require working carbon monoxide detectors in leased recreational vehicles.

The bill was sponsored by two Clarksville Democrats, Sen. Tim Barnes and Rep. Joe Pitts, in response to the deaths of five people from carbon monoxide poisoning at a biker charity event last year, The Associated Press reported.

The measure requires all lease or rental agreements to contain a statement acknowledging that the vehicle is equipped with a working detector.

Police said the deaths were accidental after a generator was found near a vent for the trailer where the five people were sleeping. There was no working carbon monoxide detector in the trailer.

To read more on the dangers posed by carbon dioxide, click here.

3. Save with Good Sam Club Pilot Flying J RV Plus Card

Members of the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owner’s organization with over 1.3 million members across North America, now enjoy a new exclusive money-saving benefit with the Good Sam Club Pilot Flying J RV Plus Card.

Good Sam Club members can apply for their Pilot Flying J RV Plus Card which will allow them to save up to $.06 on each gallon of gasoline purchased and $.08 on diesel fuel purchased; 10 cents per gallon on bulk propane purchased, and 50 percent on holding tank dump station charges at all applicable Pilot Flying J locations in the United States.

Member discount is tied to length of time as an active Good Sam Member. The longer the card holder has been active member, the larger the discount.

Click here to read more.

4. Escapees RV Club September Rally in Missouri

The Escapees RV Club, headquartered in Livingston, Texas, will host the 52nd Escapade at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia Septenber 16-21.

A new series of seminar topics will focus on the full-time lifestyle in addition to an extensive lineup of educational workshops and lifestyle presentations for the RV enthusiast, according to a news release.

The Escapees RV Club currently has almost 60,000 members.

The gathering will also feature a number of activities, including evening entertainment, crafts sessions, line-dancing, RV driving classes, travel, computer, RV technical presentations, and daily socials.

In keeping with the Escapees mind-set of giving something back, the Club will support the Sedalia community with a food drive during the event.

In addition, Escapade delivers as much as a million dollars into the local economy while attendees shop, dine, and enjoy the charm of the local areas.

5. San Antonio River Walk: Jewel of the City

San Antonio is best known for being the Home of the Alamo and the San Antonio River, the center points of numerous activities in the downtown area. The river actually has its headwaters in northern San Antonio and travels southward through the city.

The Alamo is part of a chain of five Spanish missions that still stand along the river and served as religious institutions and economic centers 200 years ago. The five missions are somewhat connected by their proximity to the river and signage linking them along a route called the Mission Trail.

The River Walk has grown to a stunning eight miles and will stretch to 15 miles by 2013. Each part offers a unique look and feel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The River Walk has grown to a stunning eight miles and will stretch to 15 miles by 2013. Each part offers a unique look and feel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

San Antonio’s Paseo del Río, or River Walk, ranks No. 1 or No. 2 each year as the most popular tourist attraction in Texas, with up to 3 million people visiting from throughout the world. The other No. 1 or No. 2 is The Alamo. It’s a moot issue really. If you travel here to take in the River Walk, you’ll almost certainly visit The Alamo, and vice versa. They’re just a couple blocks apart, connected by an “alley” with waterfalls, snazzy shops, and lush gardens.

To continue reading, click here.

Have a great weekend.

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

Worth Pondering…

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: March 30

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

1. RV Shipments Rise in February

RV shipments to retailers rose sharply in February this year, climbing 31.8 percent above last month and up 24.2% ahead of this same month last year, according to a Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) survey.

The 24,600 units reported in the latest survey of manufacturers marked the best February total in four years for all RV products and raised the first two months’ total this year 15.2 percent above the same period one year ago on shipment of 43,300 units. On a seasonally adjusted basis, February shipments were at an annual rate of more than 286,000 units, a gain of 12.9 percent over the January rate.

Shipments of towable RVs have improved 17% to 39,200 units, while motorhome products have held their own and produced 4,100 units so far this year.

2. Entrance Fees Proposed for Illinois State Parks

Visitors to Illinois state parks would face admission fees for the first time under legislation the Illinois House passed Monday (March 26).

The bill would allow the state to charge annual fees for vehicle stickers for park entry, as well as daily admission fees for pedestrians or drivers without annual passes.

Proponents of the measure said the money is needed for upkeep at parks, where funds, personnel, and care have been cut back heavily in recent years.

The revenue would be dedicated to the state parks fund or the fish and wildlife fund, according to the legislation.

The state Department of Natural Resources currently does not charge an entry fee to state-owned or -operated land except for Wildlife Prairie State Park near Peoria and sites with beaches, where the charge is $1 a day per person for beach use, according to the agency website.

The House sent the bill to the Senate on an 81-29 vote.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn said the governor backs the proposal.

3. Land of the Sleeping Rainbow: Capitol Reef National Park

A highlight for most visitors to Capitol Reef is the scenic drive from the visitors center. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A highlight for most visitors to Capitol Reef is the scenic drive from the visitors center. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Capitol Reef National Park is filled with geological wonders that stagger the imagination.

Somewhat remote, and not as well known as the other parks, Capitol Reef is located on the northern edge of the Grand Circle Tour. Capitol Reef encompasses a 100-mile natural upheaval in the earth’s crust known as the Waterpocket Fold.

We’ve traveled Utah’s red-rock country from Bryce to Arches and Zion to Monument Valley, but none is more impres­sive than Capitol Reef. Hundreds of millions of years of geological history are contained within this long, narrow park that stretches about 100 miles from its northern to south­ern boundary.

Time moves very slowly in the ageless world of colorful spires, pinnacles, and domes that form Capitol Reef. Formed by cataclysmic events of eons past, these rock formations have been defined and redefined over past ages as ancient sea waters advanced and retreated across the changing surface of the earth.

Click here to continue reading.

4. Discover the Wildlife of Texas

The colorful green jay is usually seen in brushy areas and dense woods in the lower Rio Grande Valley.. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The colorful green jay is usually seen in brushy areas and dense woods in the lower Rio Grande Valley.. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you are a birder, a wildlife enthusiast, or just ready to discover the wildlife Texas has to offer, there’s a map that makes it easy for you. These driving trails will direct you to the best spots in the state to observe wildlife such as birds, butterflies, bats, or pronghorns. Texas is the perfect place to view wildlife; the Lone Star State is one of the top birding destinations in the world and is rich in its diverse species of wildlife.

Along the trails, you will be captivated by all there is to do and local communities will welcome you with plenty of Texas hospitality.

Texas was the first state in the nation to create birding and wildlife viewing trails, an idea that resulted in similar projects throughout North America. These trails provide economic incentives for landowners and communities to conserve habitats while providing recreational opportunities for the traveling public. The wildlife trails of Texas promote sustainable economic development and build public support for conservation of wildlife and habitats.

5. Cuisine of New Mexico

A mural in Santa Fe's historic La Fonda on the Plaza depicting Pueblo life. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A mural in Santa Fe's historic La Fonda on the Plaza depicting Pueblo life. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Renowned New Mexico artist Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life.” Millions of folks from all over the world have come to know exactly what she meant. The people, the culture, the landscape, the climate, and the cuisine—New Mexico just gets under your skin and takes hold.

The Land of Enchantment, New Mexico is known for its colors: turquoise skies, earthy browns, orange mesas, and purple sage. This time of year, though, the colors on everyone’s mind are red and green. Or maybe it should be red or green.

Chile is a term which usually refers to any of hundreds of chile peppers used in cuisines across the world to flavor and spice food.

In New Mexico, however, chile means much more than that. Chiles are the soul of New Mexican cooking, which blends Native American and Hispanic influences into a cuisine unto itself.

Chile is the New Mexico’s largest agricultural crop. Across the state chile is consumed at every meal, is celebrated in songs and at festivals, and is the subject of the Official New Mexico State Question, Red or Green?, estimated to be uttered over 200,000 times a day in the state.

To continue reading, click here.

Have a great weekend.

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

Worth Pondering…

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.

—Auntie Mame

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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.

Click here to read more.

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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