Building Customer Loyalty

People gravitate toward companies because of their products and leave them because of their service.

As a customer I want stability—a stable relationship I can count on—and consistency. For these reasons I travel over 650 miles to Midtown RV in Penticton for RV sales and service where 62 percent of their sales are to repeat customers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
As a customer I want stability—a stable relationship I can count on—and consistency. For these reasons I travel over 650 miles to Midtown RV in Penticton for RV sales and service where 62 percent of their sales are to repeat customers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why is it then that so many companies under invest in this area? Research by Net Promoter Score inventor Fred Reichheld found that a mere five-percent increase in customer retention can boost company profitability by as much as 95 percent.

Most small businesses are keenly aware of the importance of customer retention—often because one lost customer can often make a huge financial impact on the company—and because of their size, they’re able to provide their customers personalized attention.

But what happens when a company begins to grow? How do they scale their customer service to help more people without losing the personal touch?

The Ritz Carlton opened in Boston in 1940, and revolutionized hospitality in America by creating a luxury hotel setting. Forty years later, they began to expand, keeping customer experience at the heart of their business by fulfilling not only the expressed but also the unexpressed wishes and needs of their customers. Now, not all of us mortals can deliver wow-factor service like the Ritz. (For $2,000 the hotel will give you a one-day course on how to deliver memorable customer service).

Newmar Factory Tour at the plant in Napannee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Newmar Factory Tour at the plant in Napannee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In today’s world of instant gratification, customers expect problems to be solved quickly and correctly the first time. For customers to remain loyal, they want a personalized experience that makes them feel as though they are a true priority—not just another sale.

If companies don’t provide personalized customer service, they’re setting themselves up for failure. Today’s consumers are more informed, less patient, and more mobile than ever.

Mattersight recently commissioned a study of more than 1,000 consumers and found that that one bad customer experience could stop 70 percent of them from purchasing from that brand again.

Companies that focus on creating hassle-free experiences are on the strongest path to loyalty and retention. As a starting point, this means having a better understanding of buyers, their lifestyles, and how they want to be served.

Rather than focusing on attracting new customers, companies should focus on the value of their existing customers by behaving as if losing a single customer will put them out of business.

Newmar and Nappanee, Indiana, are in the heart of Amish Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Newmar and Nappanee, Indiana, are in the heart of Amish Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is easier to get existing customers to buy more and to help find new customers through their advocacy than it is for a business to try to garner new customers.

Happy customers are all alike: They become advocates—to one degree or another.

Because it’s a lifecycle, nothing ends here; instead, advocates help recruit the next wave of new customers through word of mouth, or on social media—and better yet, they buy more.

Customer advocates are the lifeblood of organizations: They bring new business, provide honest feedback, and speak on behalf of you to anyone that will listen.

Here are my top three tips for turning new customers into advocates:

Be responsive—always be responsive to customers. If you can’t respond immediately, let them know when you will get back to them.

Be accountable—if the product experienced an issue or if the business dropped the ball on a follow up item, take accountability for it.

Midtown RV and Penticton are in the heart of the South Okanagan Wine Country in southern British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Midtown RV and Penticton are in the heart of the South Okanagan Wine Country in southern British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Show value early—it’s not enough to just communicate to customers; businesses need to ensure customers are receiving value. If the customer isn’t getting value, determine what steps need to be taken to improve.

What sets a business apart is how they treat their customers. Attractive prices and range of quality products and services attract new customers, but it is only superior customer experience that will retain customers.

With so many companies providing competitive pricing for similar quality products, what sets a business apart is their ability to provide consistent and quality customer service and personalized transactions. This involves understanding the customer’s needs and then finding a way to deliver on those promises every time.

Worth Pondering…

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

—Aristotle

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Cool Trailers: From Vistabule To Ecco

In a day where many recreational vehicles can easily cost six-figures and measure 40-feet or more, some customers are looking for alternatives to the mass-produced recreational vehicles.

Life on the road can be enjoyed in a distinctly different, fun, and creative trailer in one of five ways:

Vistabule

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

Streamlined and weighing just 1,220 pounds, the Vistabule teardrop trailer can be towed behind nearly any small car.

Oversized windows and a cab-forward design set the Vistabule apart by offering panoramic views that no other teardrop trailer offers. You’re oriented to the front where all the action is. The huge window affords a view to the world as well as the sky.

The queen sized bed converts in seconds into a delightful sitting space with a fold up table and the smartly fitted kitchen allows people to prepare meals while protected from rain and sun.

Colim

The Colim Caravan Concept
The Colim Caravan Concept

Facing the dilemma of whether to buy a new motorhome and toad, truck and fifth wheel trailer, or SUV and travel trailer or caravan?

The brain child of German designer Christian Susana, the futuristic looking Colim (an acronym meaning Colors of Life in Motion) is an attractive combination of car and a caravan camper—the perfect example of an intelligent motorhome design. The Colim motorhome allows drivers to detach the cockpit so they can drive around the resort more efficiently. The vehicle has a top speed of 90mph.

Lil Snoozy

Lil’ Snoozy Goes Camping
Lil’ Snoozy Goes Camping

A fiberglass trailer with an ultra-aerodynamic shape and clean flowing curves, Lil Snoozy is available directly from the manufacturer.

Customers love the Lil Snoozy because Lil’ is only 17 feet, 3 inches in length; 7 feet, 11 inches in width; and 7 feet, 5 inches high. The interior space is 14 feet, 6 inches by 6 feet, 6 inches. There’s a bathroom with shower across from a kitchen area (with sink, refrigerator, and microwave), a couch in front of an entertainment center, and a queen bed.

Within a unique two piece fiberglass unit modern coring materials and state of the art manufacturing processes have been incorporated, adding strength and insulating properties, while tremendously reducing weight.

DoubleBack

DoubleBack Ultimate Camper Van
DoubleBack Ultimate Camper Van

Looking for the freedom and mobility offered by a mid-to-full-size recreational vehicle, but want the practicality and fuel efficiency of a camper van too? The DoubleBack may just be the ultimate camper van that you’ve been looking for.

What makes the DoubleBack unique is just how much space it actually has, and how easily you can expand or contract its size to fit your recreational needs.

Need more room? Use the electric slide-out rear pod to extend the vehicle’s rear. You can even expand the roof and walk around the camper van’s kitchen and lounge.

Ecco

Functions: 1-2, Van opens; 3, electric power hook-up; 4, air intake; 5, windscreen; 6, solar power panel; 6-7 Softtop opening roof; 8, fold out stairs. (Credit: arch.nau.coop)
Functions: 1-2, Van opens; 3, electric power hook-up; 4, air intake; 5, windscreen; 6, solar power panel; 6-7 Softtop opening roof; 8, fold out stairs. (Credit: arch.nau.coop)

The Ecco is set to revolutionize the humble camper van with space-age design that includes collapsible walls and a flip-top upper deck.

A futuristic camper van, the Ecco doubles in size by flipping open “like a Swiss Army knife.”

Since space is the main theme, in design and concept, passengers enter the 15-foot-long electric vehicle from the rear through a huge stairway that folds into the ceiling. The space is then transformed with a flip-out top deck, expandable walls, and fold-down seats for extra room.

The eco-friendly camper van can sleep a family of five and boasts a kitchen, bathroom, and lounge area.

Worth Pondering…

The only important thing about design is how it relates to people.

—Victor Papane

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Bourbon Tourism Booming in Kentucky

Tourism is booming in the Bluegrass State along with production at Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries.

Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bourbon is a signature industry that helps create 9,000 jobs, generates more than $125 million in tax revenue each year, and is a growing international symbol of Kentucky craftsmanship and tradition. But more than industry, bourbon is a culture, a history, and heritage built by generations of Kentuckians from as early as the late 18th century.

Bourbon tourism is also skyrocketing with nearly 2.5 million visitors from all 50 states and 25 countries touring the world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail in the last five years alone.

Along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail—featuring such venerable brands as Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Four Roses, and Maker’s Mark among its nine participating distilleries—tourists made a record 627,032 visits in 2014, up 10 percent from the prior year, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) report.

Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thanks to its distinctive aroma, any distillery tour is a treat for the senses, full of aromatic copper and steel tanks, vanilla scents, and caramel bouquets.

Take the legendary Kentucky Bourbon Trail through the heart of Bourbon Country and stop in on seven of the state’s distilleries including Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Four Roses, Bourbon Town Ranch, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail added the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville as a stop last year.

When adding tourist stops at the nine small distilleries making up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, visits totaled nearly 725,000 last year, up 14 percent from 2013. KDA counts each stop at a participating distillery as a visit.

Distilleries have spent tens of millions of dollars on new or expanded visitors’ centers in recent years to cater to tourists.

Jim Beam Distillery, Clermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Jim Beam Distillery, Clermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

KDA projects tourist visits will reach 1 million in 2018 if double-digit growth continues. The number of participating distilleries is likely to grow in coming years as more distilleries open.

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, in just its second full year of existence, had 96,471 visits last year at its nine distilleries, up 56 percent.

Bourbon production has shot up in recent years amid growing demand from US and international consumers. The renewed popularity of bourbon-based cocktails has helped spur the growth, along with the introduction of premium, pricier small-batch and single-barrel bourbons.

The volume of bourbon aging in Kentucky has topped 5 million barrels.

Distillers are taking other steps aimed at sustaining the burgeoning tourism trade.

Distillery officials are hoping to persuade Kentucky lawmakers to relax some restrictions on distilleries as a way to fuel tourism growth.  One change would allow whiskey to be served at restaurants on distillery grounds.

Barton 1792 Distillery, Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights
Barton 1792 Distillery, Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another proposal would allow visitors to sample more bourbons during tours. Distilleries now are limited to offering two one-half-ounce samples per guest. Wineries and microbreweries in the state can offer larger amounts of samples.

Relaxing the limits would allow distilleries with larger portfolios to offer smaller samples but more of them.

Safeguards are in place to make sure no one consumes too much whiskey, according to a KDA spokesperson. The Distillers Association is very cautious to make sure that they are served only an appropriate amount of alcohol

Planning a visit? Stay at Grand-ma’s RV Camping in Shepherdsville (I-65, Exit 116).

While the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour has no beginning or end, it’s probably best to plan your trip based on the location of the campground or RV Park that you use as your base. An official trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the Louisville/Shepherdsville area is a perfect and convenient place to lay your head after so much bourbon education.

Easy-on easy-off, big-rig friendly Grand-ma’s RV Camping in Shepherdsville offers full service pull through sites with 50/30-amp electric service.

Worth Pondering…

A respectable amount of bourbon to pour in a glass is about two fingers worth. Lucky for me I have big fingers.

—Frederick Booker Noe II

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What Is Birding?

If you had asked me a decade ago about birding, I would have said, “What is birding?”

Pair Yellow-crowned Night Herons at the Valley Nature Center, Weslaco, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.
Pair Yellow-crowned Night Herons at the Valley Nature Center, Weslaco, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

I knew about some of the more common birds including chickadees, robins, finches, and blue jays, but had no idea birding was an activity people did together in an organized fashion.

Birding has become one of the fastest-growing and most popular activities in the US and around the world. An estimated 30 percent of all Americans go birding each year.

Bird watching is also one of the few activities open to all ages and levels of ability.

It doesn’t take much to get started in bird watching. You don’t need special hiking boots or clothing and you don’t require special equipment. Birds can be observed with the naked eye, although a pair of binoculars makes the experience more enjoyable.

Using one or more field guides is also recommended. The choice of a field guide for birding can be a very personal thing. Partly it depends on what you want from your field guide; partly on how you process information.

Scrub Jay at Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.
Scrub Jay at Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

The Sibley Guide to Birds is THE North American bird book if you’re a serious birder. The volume covers all the birds, and most of the plumages of all the birds you can find in the US and Canada.

Kaufmann Field Guide to Birds of North America is also THE guide to own. The text is clear and the illustrations are very well done.

According to a US Fish & Wildlife Service study on the demographics and economic impact of birding, birdwatchers contribute over 36 billion dollars annually to the nation’s economy. One in five Americans has an active interest in birding. Some 47 million bird watchers, ages 16 and older, spend nearly $107 billion on travel and equipment related to bird watching.

In Washington State alone, wildlife viewing and photography adds more than $5 billion each year to the state and local economy.

Roseate Spoonbill feeding at South Padre Island World Birding Center, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.
Roseate Spoonbill feeding at South Padre Island World Birding Center, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

About 88 percent focus mainly on backyard birding. But some extreme listers travel extensively in search of rare birds for their life lists.

The legendary birder Phoebe Snetsinger became obsessed with bird watching when she learned she had only one year to live—she was diagnosed with terminal melanoma in 1981. Living another 18 years, she fervently observed birds across the globe setting a world record of 8,398 bird species before her death in a 1999 car accident in Madagascar.

Others, like master birder Connie Sidles, find endless joy in daily visits to one favorite spot. She has written two books describing the natural beauty and wonder she finds at the Montlake Fill (Union Bay Natural Area), a premier birding oasis in Seattle. The “fill” is a former landfill located in the heart of northeast Seattle on the banks of Lake Washington.

People give different answers when asked what drew them to bird watching. For most, it starts with the simple aesthetic pleasure of enjoying the grace and beauty of birds and sharing the experience with family and friends.

Wood Stork at Long Point Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.
Wood Stork at Long Point Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

Wildlife viewing is among the most popular forms of outdoor recreation, and birds are the most visible and accessible form of wildlife, especially in urban and residential areas. You can even enjoy them from the comfort of your own home.

Birds also symbolize freedom for many because they fly with such ease. For some, it has spiritual qualities and evokes feelings of peace and tranquility. It’s healthful and restful and no doubt good for your blood pressure and general well-being.

Their exquisite plumage and vivacious songs enliven our sense of the magnificence and beauty of the world we share. Our love affair with birds connects us with the simple bliss of being alive and feeling at home in the natural world.

Like many pursuits, birding embraces a whole subculture, with many levels of expertise and intensity. For some, it is highly competitive. For others, bird watching involves serious study of physiology, behavior, and the role of birds in the ecosystem.

For many, like us, it’s a pathway into the natural world by combining photography and RV travel with birding.

As a birder, I want to find and enjoy new birds, observe their behavior, and document what I see. As a photographer, I want to photograph birds in good light and a pleasing background, and above all return to my motorhome with quality photos.

Worth Pondering…

Have you ever observed a hummingbird moving about in an aerial dance among the flowers—a living prismatic gem…. it is a creature of such fairy-like loveliness as to mock all description.

—W.H. Hudson, Green Mansion

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4 More Cool Trailers

In a day where many recreational vehicles can easily cost six-figures and measure 40-feet or more, some people are returning to basics resulting in the minimalist RV trend gaining momentum.

Numerous vintage trailers, Airstreams, and other cool campers have been featured in Vogel Talks RVing. From modular trailers to bizarre shaped campers here are four that’ll certainly turn heads.

Teal Feather Camper

The Teal Feather Camper
The Teal Feather Camper

There is no other camper on the market quite like the Teal Feather. A modular camper that fits on a utility trailer or pickup bed, the Teal Camper is 8.5 feet long, 6 feet wide, just over 6 feet tall, and weighs a mere 500 pounds, hence its name.

The camper can be put together by one person in 60 minutes by piecing together panels made of polyethylene plastic filled with insulation. Only a Phillips screwdriver is purportedly needed for the job. When taken apart, the camper’s parts occupy a space of 4 feet by 5 feet.

Inside, the camper features a sink with a drain and a bottle to pump water to the faucet. The cabinets look more like a duffel bag—they open with zippers—though they have shelves and panels to support storage of belongings.

Dub Box

Dub Box is a customizable camper manufactured in Oregon.
Dub Box is a customizable camper manufactured in Oregon.

The Dub Box is a fun and creative retro camper with a new twist. The initial design was born from the American vintage trailer, merged with retro styling, and infused with modern conveniences for style and comfort. While it may appear that the company buys up all the Volkswagen camper vans remaining on the planet, Dub Boxes are manufactured from new fiberglass shells.

The initial design was born from the American vintage trailer, merged with retro styling and modern conveniences for style and comfort. And the rest of the design is up to you.

Dub Boxes are light enough to be towed by most vehicles, compact enough to be stored in a garage, the exterior and interior decor is customizable, and the layout can be altered to suit its intended use.

Eggcamper

The Eggcamper: Lightweight molded composite travel trailers
The Eggcamper: Lightweight molded composite travel trailers

As the name suggests, the Eggcamper has a distinct eggshell look.

Distinctly different in design and function, Eggcampers are handmade from nine molded lightweight composites — the entire camper weighs less than 2,000 pounds — and thus is easy to tow.

The entire exterior is intentionally painted an eggshell white color, which obviously helps give the product its name, but also makes it simple to clean and easier to keep cool.

The company also offers a smaller Teardropp trailer that’s based on a shape that was popular in the 1930s and is manufactured using a similar process.

Mehrzeller

Mehrzeller, a multi-cellular caravan
Mehrzeller, a multi-cellular caravan

If you don’t like to follow current trends and prefer to stand out from the crowd then this bizarre shaped caravan trailer with sleek angular lines, the Mehrzeller, may be the recreational vehicle for you.

The multi-cellular caravan  design can be entirely personalized by each customer resulting in an attractive one-of-a-kind trailer. The configuration is generated by a computer using the customer’s inputs, and then the final design is done by parameters from the architects to yield an attractive and practicable result. The caravans are produced using the principles of “mass customization”: this allows both the individual wishes of the customer to be accommodated while producing the caravan with series methods.

Worth Pondering…

All things are possible until they are proved impossible—and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.

—Pearl S. Buck

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Keystone RV Introduces New Fuzion Featuring 2 Patio Decks

Goshen, Indiana-based Keystone RV Company introduced the new Fuzion 420 fifth wheel toy hauler.

Keystone RV Introduces New Fuzion Featuring 2 Patio Decks
Keystone RV Introduces New Fuzion Featuring 2 Patio Decks

“You can’t get too much of a good thing” is the thinking behind the new Fuzion model, according to a company news release.

Featuring two patio decks for a combined outdoor living area of over 160 square feet, both the rear and side mounted decks include patio awning, LED lighting, and adjustable aluminum entry steps.

In addition, the Fusion 420 model is the first toy hauler in the industry to incorporate the FastTrack2 patio system by MOR/ryde which virtually eliminates pins as part of the set up process and makes short work of setting up the patio, according to the Keystone announcement.

“Patio decks are an increasingly important selling feature for our toy hauler customers,” says Fuzion product manager Tim Markel.

“Today, well over 95 percent of our customers order their Fuzion with the patio option. Adding a second deck on the door side creates a prime entertainment or relaxing area that can easily be accessed through the sliding glass patio door in the coach or by way of the aluminum steps leading to the ground. Campers love sitting on the deck and watching TV, visiting with friends, or utilizing the deck as an enclosed play area for the kids or family dog.”

Both the rear deck and the side deck on the Fuzion 420 feature the new FastTrack2 patio system by MOR/ryde.

Keystone RV Introduces New Fuzion Featuring 2 Patio Decks
Keystone RV Introduces New Fuzion Featuring 2 Patio Decks

A Fuzion exclusive, FastTrack2 allows each rail to smoothly slide and then snap in place without pins. There are no rails to lift as both the side and end rails are permanently mounted to the garage wall and simply swing into position. Setting up the Fuzion patio requires minimum effort and can be accomplished in seconds rather than minutes.

“With extra value features like FastTrack2, the MOR/ryde suspension and pin-box system, new exterior full paint options and our Fuzion Chrome edition, we are differentiating Fuzion from other brands in the marketplace,” said Marke.

“Fuzion market share is up 22 percent in April according to Statistical Surveys, Inc. Clearly our dealers have embraced the Fuzion concept and have propelled our sales.”

The new Keystone Fuzion 420 fifth wheel toy hauler specs include:

  • Shipping Weight: 15,095 pounds
  • Carrying Capacity: 3,905 pounds
  • Hitch Weight: 3,775 pounds
  • External Length: 43 feet
  • External Height: 13 feet 3 inches
  • Fresh Water Carrying Capacity: 112 gallons
  • Gray Water Carrying Capacity: 88 gallons
  • Black Water Carrying Capacity: 88 gallons
Keystone RV Introduces New Fuzion Featuring 2 Patio Decks
Keystone RV Introduces New Fuzion Featuring 2 Patio Decks

Details

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company is a producer of travel trailers, fifth wheels, and toy haulers, with manufacturing facilities at its headquarters in Goshen, Indiana, and Pendleton, Oregon.

Keystone RV brands include Montana, Cougar, Outback, Springdale, Raptor, Residence, Retreat, Passport, Hornet, Sprinter, Laredo, Mountaineer, Big Sky, High Country, Fuzion, X-lite, Bullet, Premier, Alpine, and Avalanche.

Keystone is a subsidiary of Thor Industries, Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio, the world’s largest manufacturer of recreation vehicles and a major builder of commercial buses.

Address: 2642 Hackberry Drive, PO Box 2000, Goshen, IN 46527-2000

Phone: (574) 535-2100

Website: www.keystonerv.com

Worth Pondering…

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

—Steve Jobs

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Greenville: Upcountry South Carolina Delight

Located in the in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, South Carolina’s Upcountry packs plenty of alpine splendor. For starters, it’s home to the highest waterfall east of the Rockies—411-foot Whitewater Falls.

Falls Park on the Reedy, located in downtown Greenville'
Far more than a nature lover’s paradise, Falls Park on the Reedy, located in downtown Greenville’s Historic West End, is one of Greenville’s greatest treasures. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the hub of the Upcountry, Greenville has been finding its way onto many national Top Ten lists for its lively arts scene, its modern downtown, and its job market. With a metro­­politan population pushing half a million, this is one of America’s fastest growing cities.

Greenville owes its existence to the 28-foot falls on the Reedy River that powered 19th-century textile mills, making it the “Textile Center of the South.”

Known for its exceptional beauty, the two most distinctive natural features of downtown Greenville are its lush, tree-lined Main Street and the stunning Reedy River Falls, located in the heart of Falls Park.

Far more than a nature lover’s paradise, Falls Park on the Reedy, located in downtown Greenville’s Historic West End, is one of Greenville’s greatest treasures. The park serves as an oasis within the city—a place where people gather to work, play, and celebrate life. The multi-use facility lends itself to a wide variety of activities for people of all ages and interests.

© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Delightful walking trails along the Reedy. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It took 40 years of cleaning after the mills closed to make Falls Park into a regional jewel, crowned by the award-winning Liberty Bridge for pedestrians that was designed by architect Miguel Rosales with a distinctive curve as it pitches toward the falls.

Liberty Bridge serves as Greenville’s signature postcard setting, and downtown’s extensive collection of public artwork adds beauty and energy to its public spaces.

At 345 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 8 inches thick, the concrete reinforced deck is supported by a single suspension cable. The deck’s distinctive curve has a radius of 214 feet and it is cantilevered toward the waterfall from supporting cables on the outside. The bridge deck also inclines 12 feet or 3 percent from east to west over the river.

Below the bridge the Reedy River Falls is the site where Greenville’s first European settler, Richard Pearis, established his trading post in 1768. Later he built grist and saw mills at this same location which was the hub of early industry in Greenville until the 1920s.

The vibrant Greenville downtown scene is anchored by the $42 million Peace Center for the Performing Arts, which includes a concert hall for the symphony orchestra, a performance theater, and an amphitheater. Among the city’s several historic districts, the West End has developed into one of the Palmetto State’s most eclectic art districts, with buildings adapted for studio space and galleries.

The award-winning Liberty Bridge on the Reedy in downtown Greenville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The award-winning Liberty Bridge on the Reedy in downtown Greenville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other attractions within Greenville include a zoo with more than 200 animals and the Roper Mountain Science Center, which features an observatory, Sealife Room, living history farm, Discovery Room, chemistry/physic shows and a planetarium.

Also, at Bob Jones University is the Gallery of Sacred Art and Bible Lands Museum Planetarium. This unique attraction brings science and religion together with its extraordinary collection of religious art and biblical antiquities.

Fluor Field in the West End is home of minor league baseball’s Greenville Drive, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The park features a 30-foot replica of the “Green Monster” the mythic left-field wall found in the parent club’s Fenway Park. Across the street is a museum devoted to slugging hometown diamond hero Shoeless Joe Jackson.

The Drive nickname is a nod to BMW Manufacturing’s Greenville-area plant, the German automaker’s only production facility in the United States. The BMW Performance Center offers drivers a one-of-a-kind challenge in sliding and cornering on a wet/dry course, off-road course, and performance drive courses.

Table Rock, Jones Gap, Paris Mountain, and Caesars Head state parks all deliver Blue Ridge Mountain adventure in Greenville’s backyard as the Appalachians tumble into the flatlands of the Piedmont region. South Carolina Highway 11, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway, traces this dramatic break of the Blue Ridge Escarpment with its abundance of waterfalls. Along the route, Lake Keowee, created as a power utility project, serves up over 300 miles of shoreline for boaters and fishermen.

Planning a visit? Stay at Ivy Acres RV Park, amid beautiful countryside 10 miles from downtown Greenville.

Ivy Acres RV Park is located on 80 acres of beautiful rolling countryside 10 miles from downtown Greenville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Ivy Acres RV Park is located on 80 acres of beautiful rolling countryside 10 miles from downtown Greenville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We spent a delightful week at Ivy Acres RV Park, an adult only (45+) park with full-hook-ups including 50/30/20-amp electric service and Wi-Fi available at site. Located on 80 acres of beautiful rolling countryside on the Saluda River, Ivy Acres is like a state park. We would return in a heartbeat.

Worth Pondering…

As the old song declares, “Nothin’ could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning,” or almost any other time.

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Top Campgrounds, RV Parks & Resorts With Fun Activities For the Entire Family

These selected campgrounds and RV parks feature amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for families of all ages. These campgrounds enable families to enjoy quality time together.

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

Nestled in the woods between Boston and Cape Cod, Normandy Farms is a luxury camping destination that has been a family tradition since 1971. Family amenities include four swimming pools, a Wellness Center, bike path, Creative Arts Center, 18-hole disc golf course, two playgrounds, fishing pond, nature trails, recreational lodge with indoor pool and Jacuzzi, volleyball and basketball courts, bocce ball and horseshoes, and dog park.

Featuring 85 foot pull-through sites and wide paved streets, Ambassador RV Resort is located near Idaho’s wine country and convenient to the Boise metro area: the perfect home base for all your family activities.

Fun for all ages, Cajun Palms RV Resort is a full service campground resort located at Henderson, near Breaux Bridge in Cajun Country. Accommodations consist of over 300 Deluxe RV sites and 25 cabins. Twenty cabins are facing the waterfront view stocked ponds. RV sites have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp electric service, on-site water and sewer, and 70+ channels of digital cable.

The clubhouse contains an assembly/reception hall and features two concession stands serving prepared food, a poolside patio, a second floor deck overlooking a resort style pool, and Kiddie pool. Fun attractions and amenities include Tiki Bar, band stand, beach volleyball, arcade, miniature golf, pool toys and waterslides, and Prehistoric Park.

With approximately 12 acres to explore, you will find yourself wandering amongst some of the most feared predators ever to walk the planet. Prehistoric Park offers a unique, natural setting featuring paved walkways where you will encounter a wide variety of realistic- looking steel and fiberglass dinosaur replicas, including some animated dinosaur exhibits. There is a concession stand, gift shop, and a sandbox with buried bones ready to be discovered by young paleontologists.

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California
Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

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.

Lazydays provides fun activities for children of all ages, including a children’s playground and park. Other activities include a screened and heated pool and hot tub, tennis courts, horseshoes, beanbag tosses, ladderball, badminton, and pickleball. Whether the goal is to relax and unwind, or spend quality time with the family, the Lazydays RV Resort offers the complete RV campground package.

Nk’Mip Resort is a four season playground for the entire family, offering the ultimate Okanagan destination. South Okanagan’s largest RV park with over 400 full service sites has been welcoming guests since 1970. Perfectly situated along the shores of Osoyoos Lake with a private beach, playground, and convenience store, the all-season RV Park also offers yurt and cabin rentals and a club house with a seasonal pool and hot tub.

Nk’Mip Resort is a four-season tourism resort destination featuring premium accommodation and visitor experiences including an award-winning winery, gourmet dining, desert golf, a cultural centre, a full-service spa, and meeting space for up to 350 people.

Just a short drive from downtown Charleston, the 643-acre James Island County Park offers an abundance of exceptional recreation offerings and natural beauty with year-round enjoyment for the entire family. Activities include miles of paved trails for walking and biking, seasonal Splash Zone Waterpark, 16 acres of freshwater lakes with fishing, pedal boat and kayak rentals, modern playground, tidal creek fishing and crabbing dock, picnic areas, and off-leash dog park.

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

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama

Lazydays RV Resort, Seffner, Florida

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama
Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama

Nk’Mip RV Park, Osoyoos, British Columbia

Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort, Foxboro, Massachusetts

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California

The Campground at James Island County Park, Charleston, South Carolina

Worth Pondering…

In the end, we only conserve what we love.

We only love what we understand.

We will understand what we are taught.

—Baba Dioum, Sengalese poet

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Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together

With the arrival of summer Americans and Canadians are fleeing the cities by the thousands in search of open space and a chance to get away from others.

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above the Bavarian town of Helen, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above the Bavarian town of Helen, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That means virtually every campground and outdoor recreation venue within four hours of every major cities will be at capacity every weekend— full of people getting away from others while doing it together.

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above the Snake River at Twin Falls, Idaho. © Rex Vogel, all rights
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above the Snake River at Twin Falls, Idaho. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping courtesy (the unwritten rules of campground etiquette) is an easy way to ensure that a group of people living in close proximity together where sounds travel and light can be a disturbance continue to camp together in harmony.

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above an Acadian farmstead at Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, Louisiana. © Rex
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above an Acadian farmstead at Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, Louisiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Spending time in a campground requires a certain level of community patience and a willingness to live and let live, there are some basic rules of campground etiquette that will help create a friendly atmosphere and make the camping experience more enjoyable for everyone.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to achieve and maintain friendly camper status.

Be a Friendly Camper

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above Plimoth Planation near Plymouth, Massachusetts. © Rex Vogel
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above Plimoth Planation near Plymouth, Massachusetts. © Rex Vogel

Be friendly and greet other campers. This is part of being within the camping community and even though you may not know the other people, you all have a common goal of enjoying the camping experience.

Being a friendly camper is more than saying hi to your neighbors. It’s being the kind of camper who makes the experience better for their friends and family as well as other the folks sharing the campground. It’s really the little things that can truly make a camping trip amazing for everyone around you.

Obey Campground Rules

Follow the campground rules and regulations. These rules usually include speed limits, fire regulations, quiet times, and so on. Adhering to these rules is one of the basics of campground etiquette. Be sure to review and enforce the rules with your children, as well.

Respect Your Neighbors

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above Mount Mitchell State Park, North Caroina. © Rex Vogel
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above Mount Mitchell State Park, North Caroina. © Rex Vogel

Campgrounds are for relaxing and having fun—consider your neighbors as you kick back and relax. Keep your music and other noise to a reasonable level so everyone can enjoy the serenity of the great outdoors.

Keep in mind that others may be in the campground to get away from it all and wish to hear the wind blowing through the aspens, the babbling of a brook, the chatter of squirrels, or perhaps the call of a jay. While I recognize your right to enjoy a little music, I don’t necessarily share your musical taste unless, of course, it’s Willie’s “On the road again…”. That is why they make headphones.

Power down at night; shut off your generator and dim the lights. Remember not all generators are created equal. Some are designed to run very quietly, and others are not. Quiet hours are there for a reason.

Don’t Feed the Wildlife

Classic camping treats like a perfectly roasted hot dog or some gooey s’mores are amazing, no doubt. They’re just not amazing for the wildlife that make their home in and around the campground. This is one instance where it’s ok to be greedy with your grub.

Pick Up After Your Pets

Be a responsible pet owner. Keep dogs on leashes whenever they are outside so they are not bothering your neighbors and discourage them from barking. Never leave a dog that barks or howls unattended.

It’s great to have a furry friend as a camping companion, but make sure your pet isn’t leaving any surprises behind. When taking your dog for a walk, always pick up all pet waste. Many campgrounds provide pet waste collection bags to make clean up easy and convenient.

Leave No Trace

Clean up after yourself. When you prepare to exit the campsite, be sure to remove all garbage regardless of its origin and if the campground has a recycling program, take advantage of it.

Always leave the campsite as clean, or cleaner, than it was when you arrived. The camp host and the next camper will appreciate it.

The bottom line is that camping requires us to respect the land and one another. When it comes down to it, continued success of this ongoing social experiment requires it.

Have an enjoyable and safe camping summer.

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

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4 Cool Trailers NOT Named Airstream

According to Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey, Airstream is one cool camper!

While we can relate to the nostalgia of this classic trailer, there are other adorably cool trailers worthy of consideration.

From caravans that float to cabins on wheels, and minimalist campers to modern-day covered wagons fit for the Oregon Trail, here are four of the coolest trailers on the road.

Cricket

The Out-Of-This-World Cool Cricket Trailer
The Out-Of-This-World Cool Cricket Trailer

Part tent, part RV, the NASA-inspired Cricket Trailer is the go-to camper for the modern road tripper. Combining small-space expertise and backpacking background, a former space architect with NASA designed the Cricket Trailer, a small, self-contained pop-up camper. It’s his response to bigger-is-better RV cul­ture.

The name Cricket was inspired by an early design sketch, in which the lifts on the pop-up looked like the legs of the insect. The Cricket is a kind of hybrid tent and trailer, made of aluminum, wood and steel, with a pop-up style roof. It takes just 20 seconds to set up once you’ve arrived at camp, which basically involves popping up the roof which is made extra easy with the assistance of automatic gas pistons.

Sealander

This 840-pound microcaravan comes with an outboard motor. (Credit: sealander.de)
This 840-pound microcaravan comes with an outboard motor. (Credit: sealander.de)

Saving you the trouble of deciding between a boat and a camper, the Sealander is an amphibious vehicle that quickly transforms between the two. It can be customized to include two stainless steel gas cookers, a sink and water pump, toilet, and sound system, among other perks. And with two huge windows and a roll-up tarpaulin roof, you can stare at the stars while falling asleep to the soothing sound of water slapping against the hull.

Its wide, bowl-shaped design not only provides stability while floating, but it can easily navigate shallow waters without running aground. It also means you don’t need a trailer or a boat ramp to launch it in the water—simply back it up to a sufficiently cleared shoreline and the Sealander is successfully launched.

Leaf House

Leaf House is a tiny portable home design that takes up a small amount of space, is big enough to live in comfortably, and accommodates a family of four. (Source: tinyhousing.ca)
Leaf House is a tiny portable home design that takes up a small amount of space, is big enough to live in comfortably, and accommodates a family of four. (Source: tinyhousing.ca)

Handmade by a Canadian college professor, each 97-square-foot Leaf House is built of spruce pine and is tested to withstand even the harshest Yukon winter. It also weighs less than 5,000 pounds, thanks to lightweight concrete kitchen counters, bamboo flooring, and birch-plywood ceilings. Designed for a family of four, this fully self-contained portable house includes a sleeping loft, Murphy bed, full bathroom with a compact bathtub, a kitchen complete with a small fridge, and an open dining area.

The Leaf House is mounted on wheels, allowing you to pick up and go whenever the urge arises.

The Pod

POD-1172
The Pod

This retro caravan might be small — it’s only 34 square feet — but it won’t leave you wanting. The fiberglass and steel trailer features a four-person table that transforms into a double bed, a birch and aluminum interior, and a tiny-but-functional kitchen. And at only 705 pounds, it’s light enough to be towed by even the smallest car.

A fun and stylish living unit for two, the pod has now been in production for over 13 years and prides itself on being the forerunner of modern-retro teardrop trailers and micro-caravans.

Features of the pod include a dining area to seat four people in comfort with full size dining table and integral fold-away table, large interior sleeping space—equivalent to a double bed, large rear hatch door with gas-spring opening providing convenient access to the kitchen, quality hand-built kitchen, weatherproof foot-well with a fold-up feature, 12 volt power socket, two interior lights, leisure battery and charger, built-in storage areas, two support legs, and roof and floor vents.

Worth Pondering…

All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.

—Phillip Johnson

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