Why RV Tires Fail

Heading out with a recreational vehicle this summer? Check the condition of all tires before leaving home—and stay safe!

Take precautions against tire failure to avoid disastrous trip scenarios. Pictured above Newmar Essex diesel pusher traveling west Utah 12 Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Take precautions against tire failure to avoid disastrous trip scenarios. Pictured above Newmar Essex diesel pusher traveling west Utah 12 Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tires deteriorate as soon as they roll out of the factory. But as a responsible RV owner, you can extend the life of your tires, combat the deterioration process that’s been set in motion from the birth of a tire, and ensure your RV is safely ready to roll whenever you are.

It is impossible to predict when tires should be replaced based on their calendar age alone. However, the older a tire, the greater the chance that it will need to be replaced due to the service-related evolution or other conditions found upon inspection or detected during use.

The common causes behind tire failure are as varied as the experiences and scenery you encounter on an RV road trip.

Most RV owners can expect about five years from a new set of tires. Proper tire care, regular inspection, and periodic maintenance may eke another year or two of tire life. When a tire fails, it can not only cause extensive damage to the body of an RV, or shocks, etc., but it can also pose a life-threatening situation to you and your passengers if a blowout causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Additionally, bits of tire from a blowout create a hazard to other drivers who are sharing the road with you.

Check the condition of all tires before leaving home—and arrive safe at your destination. Pictured above Class C motorhome camped at Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Check the condition of all tires before leaving home—and arrive safe at your destination. Pictured above Class C motorhome camped at Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take precautions against tire failure to avoid disastrous trip scenarios.

There are four main offenders behind untimely tire failure.

Overheating Due To Under-inflated Tires

It’s a given that tires lose air over time. Temperature fluctuations and road use impact tire pressure, so it’s extremely important to check tire pressure regularly. Under-inflated tires generate a lot of heat while they’re rolling down the road. More rubber comes into contact with the road surface, causing excess friction and, therefore, overheating.

Overloading Your RV & Improper Weight Distribution

OOPS! Not a smart move! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
OOPS! Not a smart move! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An overloaded motorhome or other recreational vehicle leads to under-inflated tires. Too much stress on one or more tires can mean premature tire failure on the open road.

Dry Rot From Sun (UV) Damage

The sun is notorious for setting physical or chemical changes in motion. Your RV tires are no exception. Destructive UV rays affect a tire in such a way that damage to the integrity of the tire’s rubber may be nearly invisible. If you detect any cracking or splitting, especially on the tire’s sidewalls, the tire is unsafe.

Old Tires That Appear OK

A ten-year-old tire may have excellent tread, look good, and appear road-worthy. But tires are meant for rolling down the open road, not for standing still. Over time, the material that makes up a tire begins to deteriorate.

Preventive Measures

Following are a few tips that can prevent the potential tire problems listed above:

  • Check tire pressure with a trusted tire gauge every day you’re on the road, and every month when you’re not
  • Have your RV weighed to ensure proper weight distribution
  • Cover tires to protect against damaging UV rays
  • Examine tires for defects, cracks, uneven wear
  • Check the DOT’s sidewall information to determine tire age

Roadside Assistance Plan

Y'all Come back...safely! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Y’all Come back…safely! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Your personal safety and the safety of your passengers is priority number one. Ensure that you have a quality roadside assistance program in place before venturing out on the open road this summer.

In the event of a blowout, a quality roadside assistance program enables you to get back on the road by arranging to have a flat changed, providing you with a comparable new tire, or towing you to a repair facility.

Roadside assistance programs are available from a host of sources including Good Sam and AAA. For the past 17 years we have relied on Coach-Net’s RV Technical and Roadside Assistance Plan. Whether you own a Class A diesel pusher, a 5th wheel, toy hauler, pop up camper—or all of the above—Coach-Net has a membership plan suited to your needs.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

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Must-ask Questions During RV Park Check-in

It’s the end of a long day of RV travel as you finally exit the Interstate and drive along the entrance road into your RV park destination.

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a long sigh of relief as you anticipate a quick check-in process. You can already visualize settling into your site, hooking up the utilities, extending the slides, and kicking back and relaxing with a cool one.

But what happens when you walk into the office? Are you greeted warmly and treated in a friendly manner? Are the office staff approachable, friendly, and helpful?

The importance of first impression simply cannot be overstated. Once you’re all signed in, have your park map in hand, and headed to your site, you begin seeing this new and unfamiliar campground through either the lens of a good feeling, which tends to make everything look just a bit better; or through the more critical lens of a less-than-welcome feeling derived from the sign-in process. You will begin to see the park in either a more or less favorable light. But I digress.

Do you really want to whiz through check-in process paying mere lip service to the blah, blah, blah as the office staff attempts to give you pertinent information about your new designation and review the 19 or so rules.

During check-in the office staff will ask you the standard questions.

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How many in your party?

Any pets?

Do you have a second vehicle?

Whether you are overnighting, camping for the weekend or an extended period of time, there are questions you must ask during the RV park check in process. Planning ahead and asking the right questions may save your life or the life of a family member.

In addition asking specific questions will ease the transition to your new campground and community.

What county am I in?

You need to know the county to be alert of dangerous weather. Watching the nightly news or weather channel does you no good if you don’t know where you are.

Port Lavaca RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Port Lavaca RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where is the closest hospital/emergency care?

A medical emergency requiring a hospital or medi-center can happen at any hour, day or night.

Do you have a storm shelter? If not, where is the nearest one?

This is especially important when traveling in the spring and early summer in Tornado Alley but something you should always know. You may need to drive to a local community center or fire department. Planning ahead can save your life.

In the event you travel with pets, you may wish to know the location and phone number of the nearest vet.

Now that you have the information you need to handle emergency/medical situations you hope never happen, there may be addition questions to ask.

Where is the nearest Walmart/major grocery store?

Where is the nearest pharmacy?

End of the day at Van Horne KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
End of the day at Van Horne KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you have laundry facilities? If not, where is the closest clean Laundromat? Unless your RV is equipped with a washer/dryer, you will probably need this service at some point.

Is there a local farmers market?

Can you recommend a local restaurant?

Taking several minutes to ask the right questions just might save your life or the life of a family member. Be safe out there!

Now go get settled in your site and relax a bit.

Useful Websites

What County Am I In?: www.whatcountyamiin.com

US Hospital Finder: www.ushospitalfinder.com

Tornado Central: www.weather.com/storms/tornado

Find a Laundry: www.findalaundry.org

Walmart Store Locator: www.mobile.walmart.com/location/find

Worth Pondering…

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

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How To Keep an RV Travel Blog

Maintaining an RV traveling blog is a great way to keep your friends and relatives current with your travels.

blogYou can also upload digital photos and videos, links to places you’ve visited and RV parks or campgrounds where you’ve stayed, and even track your progress on a map.

Before you write each blog entry, consider the topic of your post. You might write about hiking at a national or state park, touring a local museum, or boondocking in the desert.

Try to create entries that are individually interesting, and hang together to tell the story of your travels. Skip the gory details of the time you got up in morning and what you ate for each meal unless it was alive and moving or was meltingly tender Texas BBQ or pecan pie served with Blue Bell ice cream. Describe the high points and low points because somehow that’s what everybody really wants to know.

Write in a coherent way using proper grammar and correct spelling. Be sure to do a spell check and proofread. Typos and sloppy grammar have no place in a travel blog.

Use photos with captions to describe something your readers may not have seen before and to break up the print. Include some links, for example to the website of the museum you toured, if you think the site is worth looking at for people who are interested to learn more.

Avoid including personal messages in your travel blog. That’s what email is for.

An important part of maintaining an RV travel blog is to update it on a regular basis. If you don’t think you can find time to write a blog, don’t start one.

blog-robinIf you take the time to write interesting, well thought out posts, with suitable photos, videos, and links, then you’ll get a double reward. First, friends and family will be keen to follow your travels. And secondly, when you finish your RV trip, you’ll have a great, permanent record of your journey to enjoy.

There are numerous good blog hosts for making your RV travel experience live far past the end of your journey. You can’t really go wrong with Google-owned Blogger or WordPress.

Both are free to use and provide the option to publish their posts to a social networking profile, or alternatively, to keep everything private.

Google-owned Blogger allows users to publish their first post within 30 minutes of starting, or even sooner if the user already has an account with Google. Blogger has a simple interface for writing posts and uploading photos. Users can also write a post in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and then import it into their blog.

On the downside, Blogger templates (pre-made formats) aren’t as stylishly and colorfully-designed as those offered by its rivals. Also, Google retains the right to republish you photos and content without seeking your permission.

WordPress is the leading open-source blogging platform that provides the most sophisticated controls of all of the tools. You can store your content on your own server, which means you can have your own URL, and the only person who controls your data is yourself—no one can post ads on it or republish it without your permission.

The site offers a vast array of templates for presenting your content. Setting up can take hours, though, depending on the level of customization you desire.

blog-imagesIf your plan is to start an RV traveling blogging to earn money, either by selling ads on your blog or by using your blog as a platform for selling your travel books or photography, WordPress has the best tools. The platform makes it easy to add advertisements to your blog and it often appears high in search engine results when people are looking for blogs on your travel topic.

If a full-fledged blog sounds like too much work (and it can be), then a Tumblr  account may be a better alternative. A cross between Twitter and a blog, Tumblr is a free service that lets you create an account where you can share photos, videos, posts, and more.

Founded in 2007, Tumblr is essentially image-based blogging, letting a photo speak a thousand words. Images run large, with the option to make them take up the full size of a screen, which is why Tumblr has become a hit with people who don’t want to stress out about writing fully formed thoughts.

Now go ahead. Get out there and start blogging.

Worth Pondering…

Each journey we take represents a passage, whether it be a trip through an unknown land, an outing among new friends, or the minutes, days, or years spent seeking a specific goal.

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Redding For An Outdoor Adventure

With mountains all around, miles of hiking and biking trails, a river running through it, and national parks nearby, Redding is an outdoor paradise for all ages.

Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cradled by Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen, Redding has 300+ sunny days per year. It’s a great place to escape the chill of spring and the gray days of winter, too.

Redding is also home to the famous Sundial Bridge, world-class fishing, and 200 miles of hiking and biking trails for all abilities. Head out on a day-trip to see the bubbling mud pots and boiling lakes in Lassen Volcanic National Park, or get refreshed by the waterfall at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. This 129-foot gusher is considered one of the most beautiful in the state.

Redding, an old train town named for a California & Oregon Railroad land agent, is the largest city in the Shasta Cascade region of Northern California. Redding has built a national reputation as an outdoors destination around it trail system, so much so that the National Trails Association is headquartered here. The Sacramento River Trail is paved along both sides of California’s largest waterway and the Sacramento River Rail Trail follows a course that was touted as “the road of a thousand wonders” when it was built in 1888.

Redding brags that it’s the “Second Sunniest City in the U.S.,” with 300-plus clear days a year. From the end of May to early September, families can cool off at WaterWorks Park with a trio of waterslides, action rides, and a lazy river.

Sacramento River looking west from the Sundial Bridge toward Klamath Mountains and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sacramento River looking west from the Sundial Bridge toward Klamath Mountains and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The area’s wealth of outdoor activities include Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta Lake, and Lake Shasta Caverns.

Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a 300-acre campus along the banks of the Sacramento River.

Gateway to the city’s 220-mile trail system , the Park features a botanical garden, natural history and science museum, and exploration center in the guise of a traditional forest camp. The 300-acre complex is tied together by Redding’s jewel, the Sundial Bridge that was the first American project by celebrated Spanish bridge architect Santiago Calatrava. The supporting pylon and curving, translucent deck perform as the world’s largest sundial.

Eight miles west of Redding, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is located at the juncture of the Klamath Mountain range and the northern edge of the Sacramento Valley, making it home to a special collection of plant and animal life, and year-round beauty. The park features Whiskeytown Lake, Shasta Bally mountain (6,209 feet), and numerous waterfalls, providing outdoor enthusiasts opportunities for water recreation, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Lake-based recreation is popular.

Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake near the Northwesr Entrance Station. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake near the Northwesr Entrance Station. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Redding is the jumping off point for the spectacular lunar landscape of Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park boasts incredible mountain scenery reminiscent of Yosemite as well as fascinating thermal wonders similar to Yellowstone with just a small fraction of the visitors. Lassen features three of the four different types of geothermal features including steam vents, mud pots, and hot springs; all four types of volcanoes (shield, plug dome, cinder cone, and composite); and all types of naturally occurring lakes.

The focal point of the park is 10,457-foot Mt. Lassen, one of the world’s largest plug dome volcanoes and the southern-most peak in the Cascade range. Most of the park’s major attractions are along the 29-mile link in State Route 89 that encircles the peak’s east side.

Planning a visit? Surrounded by pristine mountains, lakes, and rivers, Redding offers a wide range of RV parks and campgrounds including Green Acres RV Park, Marina RV Park, Premier RV Park, Redding RV Park, and Win-River Resort.

Our site at JGW RV Park backed onto the Sacramento River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Our site at JGW RV Park backed onto the Sacramento River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our home base while touring the Redding area was JGW RV Park, a big-rig friendly resort located 9 miles south of Redding on the Sacramento River. This is a beautiful 5-star RV park with water, sewer, and 30/50-amp electric service centrally located. The majority of pull-through sites are back-to-back and side-to side.

There was no cable TV; however, we were able to obtain a satellite signal between trees and pick up numerous local stations on the antenna. Our site backed onto the Sacramento River. Interior roads are paved and in good condition with concrete pads. Strength of the Wi-Fi signal varied throughout the park during our stay in November 2014. It was inconsistent and at times inadequate from our river front site.

Worth Pondering…

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.

—Rachel Carson

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RVs Rule the Road

Who is driving RV sales and why?

Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona
There’s an RV for every family’s budget and needs. Photo above: Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re one of the millions of Americans or Canadians planning to head out for a summer road trip, be prepared: RVs rule the road.

With prices ranging from $15,000 to just shy of $1 million, Americans and Canadian consumers have more options than ever when it comes to hitting the open road with a bed in tow.

For the big bucks your RV comes decked out with dual sinks in the master bathroom of a 46,000-pound diesel pusher built on a behemoth bus chassis. The Newmar King Aire also has Sleep Number beds, four flat-screen televisions, and a tablet to remotely manage the climate controls. Oh, and it also has a carbon-fiber steering wheel, and the driver sits in a captain’s chair with a built-in massager.

Canada’s number one Newmar dealer, Midtown RV in the southern Okanagan city of Penticton (British Columbia) sold 6 King Aires during the past 12 months.

“King Aire buyers are people looking for a modern contemporary design with the latest in residential amenities,” said Kalvin Stayberg, Midtown RV Vice-President and part owner.

Class A motorhome: 2015 Newmar King Aire
Class A motorhome: 2015 Newmar King Aire

“They also appreciate that the King Aire couples this modern design with the Newmar Heritage of quality, luxury, and power.”

While the King Aire may be over-the-top extravagant, buyers are demanding the same kinds of countertops and finishes they’re accustomed to having in their homes. Many RVs, for instance, have memory foam beds, tile floors, two bathrooms, and Corian countertops.

Those amenities are driving massive growth in what has been a sagging industry hit hard by a lousy economy and sky-high fuel prices. Last year RV dealers sold about 350,000 vehicles and expect even stronger growth this year. That’s a return to pre-recession levels not seen in nearly a decade.

Bottom-of-the-barrel fuel prices are also helping to drive interest in the RV lifestyle. Packing up the family for a summer vacation is less expensive than flying, especially when airlines with locked-in fuel costs haven’t yet passed along fuel savings to passengers. Camping is also more family-friendly and relaxing.

There’s been strong interest at both ends of the spectrum, from that $1 million King Aire to the 1930s-style teardrop trailers light enough to be towed behind a car and the always-popular Airstream.

Vistabule Introduces ‘Cab Forward’ Teardrop Trailer
Vistabule is a popular ‘Cab Forward’ teardrop trailer

Airstream celebrated a record year in 2014, with sales up 26 percent over 2013 numbers. The retro-glam travel trailer has found new life among an expanded clientele that includes baby boomers.

And smaller, cheaper, mini-trailers, like teardrop trailers, have also resurfaced as appealing options for road-trippers looking to go small.

Also receiving significant interest are “Tiny House” style RVs which some buyers remove from their wheels and use as a cozy home. The wood-sided Tumbleweed Tiny Homes were featured in an earlier post on Vogel Talks RVing.

Many consider small to be the new big. The small-house movement and a conscious move away from a consumptive lifestyle for many millennials.

But it’s not just the smaller and sleeker Airstream and teardrop trailers that are doing well. The whole industry has recently found a new stride. Behemoth motorhomes often with tag axles and travel and fifth wheel trailers—12, 28, 35 feet long—are hitting highways in the strongest numbers in years.

The design of the Cypress Tiny House RV  by Tumbleweed makes use of the most interior space, by incorporating a corner porch and utilizing the extra room as interior space.
The design of the Cypress Tiny House RV by Tumbleweed makes use of the most interior space, by incorporating a corner porch and utilizing the extra room as interior space.

Some 32,045 RVs were shipped from manufacturers to dealerships in February of this year. Compare that to 29,700 in February 2007 and 10,300 in February 2009 when the industry hit rock bottom. The industry projects it will hit its top sales in nearly a decade this year.

Plummeting fuel prices don’t hurt, either, and it’s also worth noting that Baby Boomers—folks between 51 and 69—are retiring in droves. At the same time, however, RV buyers are actually getting a little younger. According to recent report, in 2011, the average age of an RV buyer was 48 years old. The fastest-growing age bracket was 35-54.

Mainstream Class A motorhomes and fifth wheel and travel trailers run anywhere from $10,000 to $600,000 and more. After financial ability, family was the leading factor in the decision to buy an RV. People perceive these vehicles as a way to spend time with family and friends, without the hassle and expense of flights, lodging, and food.

But unless you’re living in your RV full-time, it’s about as discretionary a purchase as one can imagine. It’s a big upfront investment, and that’s before fuel costs, insurance, and license. Buying any RV indicates a high degree of consumer confidence.

The increase in sales of Airstreams and teardrops are merely part of a larger trend. Now that people perceive an improve economy, they’re buying RVs of all stripes.

The success of the RV industry is due in part to the diversity of product that offers something for every income level. You don’t have to be rich to buy a smaller trailer and go camping.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights
An RV will take you whever you wish to go including Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights

And for those families who want to spend time together while getting back to nature, RVs have an undeniable attraction and is a lifestyle that’s second to none.

Worth Pondering…

The American dream is no longer about home ownership. The American dream is that people want to travel and see America by RV.

—Andy Heck, co-owner Alpin Haus to Greg Gerber, RV Daily Report

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The Great American Road Trip

Ah, the great American road trip.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights
Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights

It’s a rite of passage, a combination of nostalgia, discovery, and misadventure ideally set against an ever changing landscape, iconic sights, and weird and wonderful oddities.

The beauty of the road trip lies in its simplicity: Little more is needed beyond a recreational vehicle, road maps, and a trusty campground directory for a Kerouac-worthy journey.

Vogel Talks RVing has boiled the planning down to several essential considerations.

The Route

How much time? Desert or forest? Seaside or lake? Mountains or canyons? Big cities, country routes, or a bit of both?

Guides abound for trips along the classic U.S. routes—California’s Coastal Highway, Route 66, Blue Ridge Parkway, Grand Circle Tour, New England Fall Foliage Tour.

If you want a unique itinerary, there are plenty of resources to help design a journey that leaves room for unexpected adventure while taking in sights you don’t want to miss.

Paisano Pete, the giant roadrunner sculpture in Fort Stockton, a true Texas icon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve
Paisano Pete, the giant roadrunner sculpture in Fort Stockton, a true Texas icon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Or, if you prefer a data-driven route, Randy Olson—a graduate student in the Computer Science Program at Michigan State and the guy who mastered the art of searching for Waldo—has planned the ideal U.S. road trip. His 13,699-mile-route is the shortest way to visit a national park, national monument, historic site, or natural landmark in each of the lower 48 states. As with so many things in life, the joy of finding Waldo is in the journey, not the destination.

Any itinerary should leave room to sample America’s rich and nutty menu of roadside attractions.

We’ve broken the route into two helpful categories: the classics and oddities.

The Classics

Some of the U.S.’s most iconic sights are road trip staples. Grand Canyon National Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Yosemite National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Acadia National Park. And if they’re not classics yet, they should be.

The Oddities

Hidalgo (Texas) is the "Killer Bee Capital of the World" and proud of it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve
Hidalgo (Texas) is the “Killer Bee Capital of the World” and proud of it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The highways are lined with examples of weird and wonderful oddities.

The town of Winslow, Arizona parked a flatbed Ford on a corner of the old U.S. Route 66, in homage to the song “Take it Easy”, made famous by The Eagles.

The World’s Tallest Thermometer (Baker, California), World’s Largest Roadrunner (subject of intense rivalry between Fort Stockton, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico), World’s Largest Killer Bee (Hidalgo, Texas), and World’s Largest Bottle of Ketchup (Collinsville, Illinois) all prove that where it counts, America’s roadside attractions are number one.

Some sights of roadside America defy classification, the handiwork of eccentrics with a singular vision, land to spare, and a knack for self-promotion.

There’s The Thing, an attraction of indescribable weirdness preceded by a miles-long billboard campaign that all but forces cars off Arizona’s Interstate 10.

Also The Mystery Spot of Santa Cruz, California; Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas; Carhenge of Alliance, Nebraska.

The Wigwam Village Motel stands adjacent to Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona, and draws a lot of business from nostalgia buffs.

Antique cars parked along Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Antique cars parked along Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Salvation Mountain, a religious sculpture made from adobe, straw, numerous fascinating and colorful objects, and thousands of gallons of paint covers a hill in the southern California desert. This unique masterpiece is located at The Slabs, a former U.S. Marine training base that attracts eccentrics and snowbirds for off-grid camping.

These places often leave you with more questions than answers. Why is this here? Doesn’t matter. The best attractions prove what another American classic put so well: If you build it, they will come.

Worth Pondering…

As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
— John Muir

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Camping Is What the Doctor Ordered

Everybody loves a relaxing weekend at the lake, a camping holiday, or an RV road trip.

Rocky Mountain Sheep. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rocky Mountain Sheep in Jasper National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Taking in new sights, varied scenery, and wacky roadside attractions while spending quality time with family. What’s not to like?

For many families, taking an vacation is not the high priority that it ought to be. With bills to pay and a hectic work schedule, finding the time to make a vacation happen can sometimes seem impossible. Trying to squeeze in an annual vacation may seem like a daunting task, but recently released studies have emerged about the health benefits of traveling. These studies have shown that traveling is actually a very important factor in your overall wellness.

The Framingham Heart Study

According to the Global Coalition on Aging, the Framingham Heart Study began in 1948 by recruiting an original group of 5,209 men and women between that ages of 30 and 62 from the town of Farmington, Massachusetts. The goal of the study was to identify risk factors or characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Since that time the Study added an offspring group in 1971, an Omni group in 1994, a third generation group in 2002, a new offspring spouse group in 2003, and a second generation Omni group in 2003.

Camping Is What the Doctor Ordered © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping Is What the Doctor Ordered © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over the years, careful monitoring of the Farmington Study population has led to the identification of major cardiovascular disease risk factors as well as valuable information on the effects of these factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, age, gender, and psychosocial. Risk factors for other physiological conditions such as dementia have been added and continue to be investigated.

The Farmington Heart Study results indicate that women who traveled and took a vacation every six years or less had a higher risk of suffering from a heart attack or coronary death as compared to other women who vacationed at least twice a year. The study also found that women who do not take vacations are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression compared to women who travel.

The results for men were similar. Those who did not take an annual vacation had a 20 percent increase in risk of death and a 30 percent greater risk of death due to heart disease. Those are significant risks for not taking some time to enjoy life.

Travel is Good for the Mind, Body, and Soul

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you want to feel good, active, and young again take yearly vacations. According to clinical studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic, one of the most important factors to achieving good health is stress reduction.

Stress has been found to play a negative role on health. It can elevate the amount of the cortisol (stress hormone) in the body which weakens the immune system and has been shown to increase your chances of suffering from adrenal dysfunction, headaches, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

RV travel provides an opportunity to relieve yourself from stressful and repetitive daily routines. Not only is it a great stress reliever, but it also increases our cognitive stimulation. Road trip planning and navigation includes using a map to plan your route, identifying interesting attractions along the way, and suitable campgrounds to overnight. These series of thought processes strengthens brain cells and their connections. It may also lead to the formation of new nerve cells.

Travel also increases your social engagement, allowing you to build new relationships and deepening your understanding of the experiences of others.

A Lifetime of Health and Happiness

If science isn’t enough to get you on the road, do it because it makes you feel good. Changing your scenery every once and a while can be a rejuvenating and uplifting experience. Take time out of your busy schedule and share moments and experiences with your friends and family.

Sedona and Red Rock Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sedona and Red Rock Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV travel and camping vacations are great stress relievers and can put you back on track if you’ve been feeling bogged down by the everyday struggles of life. Even if it’s just a short weekend camping trip in your RV somewhere close to home, that moment of relaxation will do you wonders.

Take time and appreciate the world around you. You’ll be glad that you did!

Worth Pondering…

Far too late to understand many of the missed goals in life:

Joy, beauty of nature, health, travel and culture,

Therefore, man is, time wise!

High time is it! Travel, travel!

—Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908)

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Red Bluff: Scenic Springtime Escape

Searching for a springtime escape, one that won’t disappoint?

Big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, was our home base during a recent visit to Red Bluff, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, was our home base during a recent visit to Red Bluff, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Try Red Bluff, a scenic Northern California town nestled near some of the most spectacular landscapes in North America.

Red Bluff derives its name from its location on a high vertical bank at the bend of the Sacramento River.

You can begin your explorations of Red Bluff where the town began on the west bank of the Sacramento River in William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park. A.M. Dibble built the park adobe house in 1852 that now does duty as a museum. Many of the town’s Victorian buildings that followed still stand downtown as does the classical-flavored Tehama County Courthouse and the Deco-inspired State Theatre.

Imagine the experience of learning science in a 500 acre outdoor classroom located on the Sacramento River. Just south of Red Bluff, the Sacramento River Discovery Center offers walking interpretive trails through native riparian habitats, such as riparian forest, flowering grasslands, wetlands, and oak woodlands, and a demonstration agricultural site.

The more benign surroundings of the rolling blue oak savannah above the Sacramento River are traversed on the eight-mile Yana Trail. Out on the road, the Tehama Trail leads to olive farms, vineyards, and nut orchards for tours and tastings.

Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake near the Northwest Entrance Station. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake near the Northwest Entrance Station. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For pure driving excitement, point your wheels down Highway 36 West as it winds toward the US-101 Coastal Highway.

Just 31 miles to the north is the city of Redding and a wealth of outdoor activities that include Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta Lake, and Lake Shasta Caverns.

Red Bluff is the jumping off point for the spectacular lunar landscape of Lassen Volcanic National Park. This May marks the 100th anniversary of the historic explosion that established the park.

The main park road provides north-south access through Lassen. The road links Highway 89 from the Southwest Entrance Station near Highway 36 north past Bumpass Hell, Helen Lake, and the staging area for Lassen Peak. The park road continues along Summit Lake and past Chaos Crags en route to the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station near Highway 44, the closest entrance to Red Bluff.

Lassen is spectacular. It’s the only place you can see several volcanoes that all have a different type of cone. Lassen is renowned for its volcanic past and its massive eruptions from 1914 through ’18, and as a destination for its lava-plug-dome volcanic peak, geothermal areas, great day hikes, and wilderness, including a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. And for RVers, it’s a wonderful destination with much to see and ample RV campsites.

Summit Viewpoint, Lassen Volcanic National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Summit Viewpoint, Lassen Volcanic National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The focal point of the park is 10,457-foot Mt. Lassen, one of the world’s largest plug dome volcanoes and the southern-most peak in the Cascade range. Most of the park’s major attractions are along the 29-mile link in State Route 89 that encircles the peak’s east side.

Red Bluff takes center stage each April for the annual Red Bluff Round-Up (95th annual; April 15-17, 2016) that was first staged by cattle ranchers in 1918. Now the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo is one of the West’s largest and includes a week of events throughout the community including a bowling tournament, foot race, pancake breakfast, street dance, antique shows, golf tournament, chili cook-off, parade, and more.

Planning a visit? Consider camping at big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, a 5-star resort located on the Sacramento River. Most sites are pull-through 70-90 feet in length and 30-35 feet wide. In addition there are 11 riverfront sites and 21 water-feature spaces (fountains); these sites have utilities on both sides of the concrete pads enabling fifth wheels and travel trailer to back onto the sites and motorhomes to drive forward maximizing the view and water features.

Big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, was our home base during a recent visit to Red Bluff, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights
Big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, was our home base during a recent visit to Red Bluff, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition, Durango has a number of buddy sites. The park is well laid out and designed. Utilities including 20/30/50-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV (63 channels) and centrally located. Interior roads are paved, pads are concrete. A beautiful RV resort with friendly and courteous staff. We would return in a heartbeat.

Worth Pondering…

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.

—e. e. cummings

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Top Campgrounds, RV Parks & Resorts Near Popular Travel Regions & Cities

These RV Parks stand out for their close proximity to popular travel regions and cities from Las Vegas to the Space Coast and Santa Fe to Boston.

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled on the western slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains looking out upon the vast Rio Grande Valley, the City of Santa Fe has stood for nearly four hundred years underneath beautiful blue New Mexico skies. Santa Fe Skies RV park is located just south of the city on the top of a hill. Enjoy the wonders of the nation’s oldest capital city, take in the spectacular beauty of the region, and the beautiful panoramic view of the Santa Fe area with unobstructed sunrise and sunset views from the Turquoise Trail.

Nestled Between Cape Cod and Boston, Normandy Farms is located just 30 miles from Boston where you can walk the Freedom Trail viewing unique historical sites and just 50 miles from Cape Cod where you can enjoy the salty air and the area’s unique flavor. The resort is also just 5 miles from Patriot Place and the Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. Not to mention a short distance from Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, a commute made even easier by public transportation.

Just five miles from downtown, Austin Lone Star RV Resort provides 158 spacious, tree-shaded sites complete with full hook-ups, complimentary cable TV, and wireless internet. Local attractions include Texas State Capitol, Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Zilker Park, Austin Children’s Museum, Austin Museum of Art, and Lake Travis.

The closest RV park to Capitol Reef National Park, Wonderland RV Park is located in Torrey at the junction of Scenic Byway 24 and All American Highway 12, just 3 miles from Capitol Reef. Big RV sites feature 75-foot x 26-foot pull-through and 60-foot x 31-foot back-in sites, full hook-ups with 30/50-amp electrical service.

American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A southern Arizona desert oasis, Tucson/Lazydays KOA offers 65-foot pull through sites with full 30/50-amp hookups. Tucson is a city of unique and interesting places to explore including the Barrio Historico, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Pima Air and Space Museum, Sabino Canyon, Saguaro National Park, Catalina State Park, Tohono Chul Park, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Arizona State Museum, Mission San Xavier del Bac (“The White Dove of the Desert”), Titan Missile Museum, Old Tucson Studios, Biosphere 2, and Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Las Vegas RV Resort is a 398-site RV Resort with a great location just minutes from the action of The Strip. Subject to a stunning mountain view, staying at Las Vegas RV Resort comes with 5-star amenities and luxurious facilities. Las Vegas RV Resort is a premier RV Resort offering great value.

Lazydays RV Resort offers 300 sites with full utility hookups, entertainment, breakfast and lunch in The Front Porch Restaurant, sports facilities, complimentary morning coffee and newspaper, and much more. Close proximity to the Tampa Bay area and Orlando attractions and events ensure there is always something going on. Whether the goal is to relax and unwind, or explore the area attractions, Lazydays RV Resort offers the complete RV campground package.

Located in historic and beautiful Albuquerque, American RV Park is conveniently located to downtown Albuquerque and makes the perfect Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta camping location. Attractions of note include Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Old Town Albuquerque, Petroglyph National Monument, Sandia Peak Ariel Tramway, Turquoise Trail, and Rio Grande Nature Center.

Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Williams, Arizona, is an extraordinary way to enjoy Grand Canyon National Park. With only an hour’s travel time to the Grand Canyon, you can stop in Williams for breakfast at a Route 66 corner café, grab your souvenirs, hop on a train, visit a wildlife park, take a hike, grab a pole and head out fishing, or simply stroll the streets before your drive to the Canyon. Canyon Gateway RV Park is set atop a hill just minutes away from the famous Grand Canyon Railroad Station.

Vogel Talks RVing selected the list of top campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts from parks personally visited.

American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Austin Lone Star RV Resort, Austin, Texas

Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington

Crystal Lake RV Park, Mims, Florida

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lazydays RV Resort, Seffner, Florida

Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort, Foxboro, Massachusetts

Pony Express RV Park, North Salt Lake City, Utah

Santa Fe Skies RV Park, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Tucson/Lazydays KOA, Tucson, Arizona

Wonderland Resort RV Park, Torrey, Utah

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden

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Discover Okanagan Valley

The northern most point of the Sonora Desert is Western Canada’s beautiful Okanagan Valley, home to British Columbia’s prime grape-growing region with over 8,000 acres planted and 131 vineyards and wineries.

Discover Okanagan Valley   © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in the southern interior, the Okanagan is characterized by a dry, sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and a series of lakes.

The mountains are lined with ponderosa pine, which give way to cacti, tumbleweeds, and fragrant sage brush.

The region receives a mere 10 to 12 inches of rain annually and is geographically considered a semi-desert—the hottest and driest place in Canada. But the sandy slopes are the foundation of an ever-expanding industry that is producing world class, award-winning wines.

An ever-changing panorama, the valley stretches over 150 miles, across distinct sub-regions, each with different soil and climate conditions suited to a growing range of varietals.

Lake Country/Kelowna/West Kelowna

Home to more than 25 wineries, this region has become synonymous with wine, and for good reason. BC’s first vines were planted in Kelowna in 1859 by Father Pandosy. Kelowna also boasts the province’s oldest continually operating winery, Calona Vineyard (established 1931).

Discover Okanagan Valley   © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many of the first families of the BC wine industry call this area home such as Gray Monk Estate Winery’s Heiss’ family, the Cipes of Summerhill Pyramid Organic Winery, and the Stewart family of Quails’ Gate Winery. Several wineries in the region also offer exceptional culinary experiences, some with year-round dining options.

Peachland/Summerland

Driving into Peachland and Summerland, you are greeted with spectacular views of Okanagan Lake and a glimpse of the striking Naramata Bench across the lake. Not only is this an exciting area of new development, but the region is also soaked in history with a few wineries and vineyards over 25 years old. The picturesque rolling hills will lead you to delicious Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Rosé in addition to a lineup of sparkling wines to make any occasion a little more special.

Penticton/Naramata Bench

The vineyards of Penticton and Naramata Bench boast ideal conditions for ripening Merlot and Bordeaux varieties and full-flavored Pinot Gris and Viognier. To the south of Penticton is Skaha Bench where Painted Rock Estate Winery and Pentâge Winery produce award-winning wines. And with an established (and simple) wine touring route, breathtaking views, and several wineries with delicious dining spectacular settings, it’s easy to see why the Naramata Bench is one of the hottest wine regions in the province

Okanagan Falls

Discover Okanagan Valley   © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okanagan Falls claims some of the most charming vistas in the Okanagan. Better still, this compact region is home to more than 10 wineries and 32 vineyards. Famous for its rolling hills and winding roads, the wineries are well worth the drive, offering a plethora of wine styles. Because of the unique climate and elevation, cool-climate varietals thrive here producing some of the province’s most awarded sparkling wines, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling. With wines as delightful as their owners, this a must-visit region.

Oliver

The ‘Wine Capital of Canada’, Oliver is home to nearly half of British Columbia’s vines. To the west, the Golden Mile soaks up the morning sun making it ideal for white wines such as Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, and bright fruity reds like Cabernet Franc. To the east lies the Black Sage Bench which basks in the afternoon sun, and cultivates powerful red wines and full-flavored whites. The combination of hot days and cool night’s produces fruit with the perfect BC balance―exceptional flavors as well as vibrant acidity.

Osoyoos

Osoyoos lies at the Okanagan’s southern-most tip, stretching all the way to the US border.  Officially Canada’s hottest spot, this is red wine country. Wineries from many other regions utilize grapes from the south to produce award-winning red wines. Osoyoos is home to well-known vineyards including Jackson-Triggs and the famed SunRock Vineyard, producer of the world’s Best Shiraz (2006 International Wine & Spirit Competition). North America’s first aboriginal winery, Nk’Mip Cellars is also located here.

Discover Okanagan Valley   © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wine Festivals

Wine festivals are a great opportunity to meet the winemakers and sample wine. A superb wine experience, the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival is now in its 35th year (October 1-11, 2015).

Worth Pondering…

Anyone who tries to make you believe that he knows all about wines is obviously a fake.

―Leon D. Adams, The Commonsense Book of Wine

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