Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December 9, 2008 Issue

In This Issue:

What's New With Us: Healing Progress - Holiday Plans
Brief Article: Stocking Stuffers
Vicki's Favorite Recipes: Peg's Sour Cream Guacamle Dip


Just in time for Christmas! Reduced prices on all DVDs and e-books!

The two Alaska DVDs have been reduced from $24.95 to $19.95 each. Or you can purchase both Alaska DVDs together for only $30.00.

A prefect companion to the Alaska DVDs is the e-book "RVing Alaska: Insights and Observations" for only $9.95 (reduced from $12.95).

Looking for a gift for the RV cook? Check out Vicki's "My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes". Good information for the cook and good eating for you.

Now available in paperback: "Full-Time RVer's Homework". Until now the paperback version could only be purchased at the end of our seminar presentations.

Mailing Tip: If you want your DVDs and/or books to arrive in time for Christmas, order them before December 18 and have them sent Priority Mail.


What's New with Us.

My shoulder has healed sufficiently for me to be back at the keyboard. However, I still have a couple of months of physical therapy before I can do any heavy work. And that includes washing our motorhome. So… I hired a mobile detailer to do the job (see the photo).
Vicki was happy. She gets nervous when she sees me scrubbing the motorhome's roof. She usually mumbles something about me being a stuborn, clumsy old man who is crusin for a bruisin and then stomps into the house. What she doesn't realize is that washing the rig is my opportunity to closely examine every square inch of the outside of the motorhome. Besides, I always do a better job than the professionals.

Our next few weekends are going to be busy with family gatherings. Unfortunately we can never seem to get everyone together at the same time so this year we will have a gathering on the weekend of the 13th when our daughter her husband can travel from Sacramento. The weekend of the 20th we will have another gathering when my brother and his wife can travel from Ventura. Christmas day we will only have Vicki's dad, our two sons and their children for dinner. Three or four days after Christmas we will drive our motorhome to Yuma and celebrate New Year's with a group of RVing friends. We'll hang out in Yuma for a few days and then let whimsy be our guide.

Vicki and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Brief Article

Dear Joe and Vicki: Do you have any suggestions for RV- related holiday "stocking stuffers"? My husband and I use the holidays as an opportunity to buy things for ourselves that we ordinarily would not spend the money on.

Joe: You didn't say what price range you had in mind but here are some practical, useful items under the $50.00 mark that we think most RVers would appreciate. Just about all of them can be found in RV accessory stores like Camping World.

Digital Tire-Pressure Gauge - The air pressure in your tires should be checked before taking your RV out of storage and every few days while traveling. Since the tires should be cold when checking their pressure, I check our tires in the morning before getting on the road. I prefer a digital air-pressure gauge. It seems more accurate. There is one with a backlit display that makes it easy to see the pressure reading.

Voltage Meter – In the best of worlds an RV park or campground's electric hookup would provide 115 volts. We feel good when we see a consistent 110 volts. Most experts advise that an appliance's electric motor (like in an air conditioner or washing machine) should not be operated on less than 103 to 105 volts of power. Below that point the motor is straining to do the job and can either cause a breaker to open or, worse yet, damage the motor. A voltage meter plugged into the RV's electrical outlet allows you to keep tabs on the voltage available to your rig.

Compass – "Turn north at the first intersection" That's what the directions to the campground say. Trouble is… you don't know which way is north. A compass can help solve the problem. If nothing else, it gives you something to blame (other than your co-pilot) for getting you lost.

Bubble Levels – We have two bubble levels mounted inside the driving compartment of our motorhome; one on the dash, and the other on the wall next to the driver's seat. They are calibrated (with little lines) so I can determine how level the RV is front-to-rear and side-to-side. Watching the levels as I enter a campsite lets me move into the most level spot. The levels also tell me when my levelers have finished the job of leveling the RV. When we had a trailer I had the same type of levels attached on the outside of the trailer's front wall and to the side of the trailer tongue. The one on the wall helped me level side-to-side; the one on the tongue, front-to-rear.

Weather Alert Radio – When the weather looks ominous, a weather alert radio will provide up-to-the-minute weather reports. National Weather Radio (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast local weather reports 24 hours a day. The messages are repeated every five minutes and updated every two hours. The NWR usually requires a special radio to pick up its broadcasts. These radios, available at electronic stores such as Radio Shack, are typically battery operated or AC powered with a battery backup. Most NWR radios are also equipped with an alarm that sounds when a severe weather alert is issued. We especially appreciate ours when we are in tornado country.

Vicki: My wish-list leans towards things like a clothes washer/dryer. But here are some neat stocking stuffers:

Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer – Outside temperatures can affect the efficiency of an RV's refrigerator and freezer operation. Sometimes, depending upon outside temperatures, it is necessary to adjust the refrigerator's temperature selector up or down. Two refrigerator thermometers, one located inside the refrigerator compartment and the other inside the freezer, can help you keep your food within the correct temperature range. They even make one that sounds an alarm when the temperature exceeds your settings.

Icicles Ice Tray - Instead of making ice cubes, this tray makes ice sticks that will fit into water or pop bottles. Pretty ingenious.

Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer - This device lets us know at a glance the temperatures both inside and outside of our RV. We have one that also lets us see what the highest and lowest temperatures of the day (inside and outside) have been.

Hand-held Radio Set – We have a hand-held CB radio that I use to communicate with Joe when we are backing our RV. We have seen other RVers using small hand-held "Walkie-Talkies" to do the same thing. Mostly, though, I see couples using their radios to find each other in the Wal-Mart Super Centers.

Mesh Laundry Hamper – I like the one that has three sections. It gives me the option of separating the dirty clothes. It is also just the right size to fit in our shower. That's where we keep our laundry. The hamper is easily moved (I just ask Joe) to a place next to our bed when we want to take a shower.

RVing Books and DVDs - Our RV books and DVDs are loaded with practical, useful information about RVs, RVers and RVing.

Happy Holidays!


Vicki's Favorite Recipes

Peg's Sour Cream Guacamole Dip
(from "My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes")
(Quick and Easy)

Joe's mom, Peg, did very little cooking in her later years. She did, however, like to make this dip for family get togethers. It always disappeared very quickly.

Because the ingredients are easy to keep on hand, this is a great last-minute appetizer to bring to any gathering of RVers. Just add a bag of tortilla chips.

2 boxes (8-oz.) avocado dip (I use "Calavo" brand)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 can (4 oz.) mild diced green chiles
8 oz. sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Spread avocado dip in an 8" or 9" round pie plate.

2. Sprinkle hot sauce over the avocado dip. Distribute diced chiles over the hot sauce.

3. Cover the top with sour cream and lightly sprinkle the top with cheddar cheese.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Makes 2-1/2 to 3 cups.

Tip: Avocado dip can be found in the produce, refrigerated or frozen section of your supermarket. Allow about two hours to thaw if it is frozen.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

November 21, 2008 Issue

What's New With Us:

This will be brief. I had shoulder surgery last week (bone spur removed, tendon repaired and rotator cuff repaired) and my left arm must remain immobile for a month. So this is being typed one-handed. Lots of time and lots of typos.

Molly, our new puppy, is getting lots of attention. So much attention that she thinks her name is Molly No No. I forgot how much inquisitive mischief a puppy can get into. She is responding very nicely to her training. Goldens just want to please.

Our 19-year-old grand-daughter, Amanda, is spending the week with us. Vicki and I are thoroughly enjoying just hanging out with her. It seems like it was just a short time ago that she was bragging to everyone that her Papa was very strong and could fix anything. I worked really hard at maintaining that illusion.

More in a couple of weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Return To RV Know How


Monday, November 3, 2008

November 1, 2008 Issue

In This Issue:

What's New With Us: Meet Molly

Article: Winter RVing

Vicki's Recipes: Sausage, Peppers & Pasta


Are you thinking about: Buying an RV? Becoming a Fulltime RVer? Going to Alaska? Do you want to read about it today? Take a look at our e-books. And while you're at it, download a free chapter of our "Fulltime RVers Homework" e-book.


What's New With Us

Meet Molly

Molly is an English Crème Golden Retriever. As you can see in the photos English Cremes have a white coat. Molly, however, has a hint of blond. I guess that means she'll have more fun.

Molly, along with her five brothers and four sisters, was born on 08-08-08. We brought her home on October 21. The three of us (Molly, Vicki and I) have been in training ever since. Molly has been trained to "come", "sit", and "lie down". I have been trained to reward her with praise or a treat any time she decides to run up to me and sits or lies down. Vicki has been brainwashed into believing that Molly is a lap dog.

Vicki and I have both been trained to respond to two sharp commands - er, barks .. delivered at 6:00 in the morning. We have learned that those barks mean we have three minutes to let Molly out of house so she can visit the powder room. Vicki's logic is that while it is her end of the dog doing the barking, it is my end of the dog that needs to be attended. Therefore it is I who must get out of bed.

Molly and I are now working on the command "Go Potty". Periodically, with Molly on a leash, we go to the same area of our back yard and I give the command "Go Potty". Then I stand there like a fool talking to myself ("go potty, go potty, go potty") while Molly sniffs leaves, investigates bugs and chews on her end of the leash. Eventually her hind end drops for a moment, I lavish her with praise, and she heads for the back door. I'm not sure if she really goes potty or if she has learned that we can return to the house if she drops her hind end for a moment. One thing is for sure… she does not need to be told to go potty any other time or place. I think the training is going well.


RVing Article

Winter RVing

Dear Joe and Vicki: We are fairly new to RVing. Our experience has been limited to fair weather trips to the California coast and mountains. We would like to drive our RV from California to Virginia about mid-January but are a little apprehensive about driving conditions should the roads turn icy. Your thoughts on this and any cold-weather RVing tips would be appreciated.

Joe: In the past, our January/February speaking circuit at RV shows has taken us (and our motorhome) from Tampa, Florida to Atlantic City, New Jersey, You might say we have some experience with cold weather driving and camping. We do our best to avoid driving in snow and we absolutely refuse to drive on icy roads. We have been known to spend an extra night or two in a campground waiting for driving conditions to improve. That’s one of the advantages of having your “house” with you.

Prepare you rig as you would for any long trip. Check the condition of your tires and their air pressure. Be sure your engine coolant has the appropriate mix of anti-freeze. Fill your windshield-washer reservoir and check your windshield wipers. Engines demand more electrical starting power during cold weather so check the battery’s electrolyte level, clean the terminals, and coat them with petroleum jelly. If you begin your trip with new engine oil and filters you shouldn’t have to change them again before you return home.

You will want a set of tire chains if you intend to drive on snow or ice. Practice putting them on at home while it is warm and dry. Motorhome owners should consider the damage a broken tire chain could inflict upon the fiberglass body of their rig. It might be better to avoid roads where chains may be required.

Your RV's built-in space heating system should be adequate for keeping the interior of your coach warm. Remember, though, that a forced air furnace, in addition to consuming propane, will draw up to seven amps of electricity while operating. This could represent a considerable drain on the coach battery if electric hookups are not available.

Obviously, an electric hookup each night will prevent your furnace fan from draining your coach batteries. It will also allow you to operate the engine block heater if you have a diesel engine.

Many RVers who do a lot of self-contained camping use catalytic heaters. Catalytic heaters combine propane and oxygen over a platinum-impregnated pad. The chemical reaction releases energy in the form of radiated heat. It requires no electricity and utilizes propane more efficiently than a forced-air heater.

Most catalytic heaters are not vented to the outside. They consume oxygen from inside the RV and should only be operated when open windows and vents can provide adequate ventilation.

Vicki: Once we are hooked up to electricity, it is our habit to warm the interior of our coach with our propane furnace and then switch to a portable electric heater. The electric heater maintains a comfortable temperature and minimizes the time the furnace has to operate. If you intend to do this be sure the RV’s electrical hookup cord and any extension cord to the heater have a sufficient amperage rating to withstand the wattage of the heater. Divide the heater’s maximum wattage by 120 (volts) to determine the minimum rating of the electrical cord. A 1,500 watt heater, for example, would require an electrical cord with a minimum rating of 12.5 amps (1500 watts divided by 120 volts equals 12.5 amps).

I’m going to assume your RV’s plumbing, fresh-water tank and holding tanks are located in enclosed, heated compartments. As long as your furnace runs periodically, you shouldn’t have any problem with frozen plumbing.

We have installed two drop cords in our plumbing bay. One is near the water pump and sewer outlet. The other is on the opposite side of the compartment near the water heater. Each drop cord has a 40-watt light bulb. The heat from the bulbs keep the interior of the compartment warm when our furnace is not operating.

Remember to disconnect, drain and store your water and sewer hoses when temperatures approach the freezing level. Rather than deal with stiff or frozen hoses we prefer not to hook them up when there is any chance of temperatures dropping below 40 degrees. We only connect our hoses long enough to fill our water tank and empty our holding tanks. The rest of the time they remain in the storage cabinet.

Windows can be insulated against the cold with heavy drapes or curtains. You can also create an insulating, dead air space inside the windows by covering them with clear, heavy vinyl. Some RVers have been known to cut sheets of Styrofoam or foam-filled poster-board to fit the interior of some of their windows as insulation.

Condensation occurs inside an RV when the warm, moist interior air of the RV comes in contact with the cool surfaces of the windows and walls. We exchange humid interior air with dry outside air by opening a window about a quarter of an inch at each end of our RV and operating the roof-vent exhaust fan in the kitchen at a very slow speed.

Joe has a pair of warm, water-proof, boots he slips on when the ground around our campsite is wet or muddy (and it usually is at that time of year).

I take along a few old throw rugs. They provide insulation on tile floors and protect the carpeting against tracked in dirt and moisture. When a throw rug gets dirty enough, I just toss it in the trash and replace it with another.

Try to camp in a spot that is open to the heat of the sun and, if possible, protected from the wind. You can minimize cold drafts by facing the RV into or away from the prevailing wind.

Keep in mind that snow accumulating on overhanging branches may eventually drop off in heavy clumps or perhaps bring down the brittle branches. And don't let snow block the refrigerator roof vent.

We enjoy our winter travels. Traffic is lighter. Campgrounds are not crowded. The air is clean and brisk. Winter RVing is a little different but certainly not difficult. With a little experience you’ll soon find yourself enjoying your cold weather journeys.

One of our most memorable travel days was spent driving across the gently rolling farmlands of Kentucky on Interstate 64. A light snowfall persisted most of the day. Traffic was almost non-existent. The snow melted on the highway and, at the same time, laid a soft white blanket over the sleeping countryside. We stopped several times, turned off the engine, and stepped outside, just to experience the stillness. Not something we could have done on a Southern California interstate.


Vicki's Favorite Recipes (from My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes)

Sausage, Peppers and Pasta
(Quick and Easy)

This makes a fast, easy main dish.

2 lbs. Italian sausage, cut in 2" lengths
2 onions, cut into thick slices
2 bell peppers, cut into strips
1 cup marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Rotelle or other short pasta

1. Put sausage in a 3-quart microwave safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high 7 to 9 minutes,stirring twice, until firm to the touch. Drain well.

2. Stir onions, peppers, marinara sauce and basil into the bowl with the sausage. Cover with a lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on high 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once, until onions and peppers are tender.

3. Stir some of the cooked sauce into the pasta to moisten. Serve sausage, peppers and remainder of sauce over the pasta.

Makes about 4 servings.


Are you thinking about: Buying an RV? Becoming a Fulltime RVer? Going to Alaska? Do you want to read about it today? Take a look at our e-books. And while you're at it, download a free chapter of our "Fulltime RVers Homework" e-book.


Next Issue: Stocking Stuffers

Return to RV Know How


Friday, October 17, 2008

Greetings From The California RV Show

We are staying at the Pomona KOA where we are presenting two seminars a day, every day, at the ten-day California RV Show. The KOA is adjacent to the RV show so we don’t have much of a commute to our seminar area. Our full-service, pull-through site is in the shady area of the RV park. That also means the trees prevent our satellite dish from picking up the satellite so we are roughing it watching standard network programs (no cable service).

The California RV Show takes place every October. This year is no exception. But this year, manufacturer, dealer and booth-vendor participation are lower than in the past.

The photos below of the main outside aisle and the interior of the vendor tent were taken at approximately 1:30 pm on October 17th, the second Friday of the ten-day show. They provide an indication of the number of people who attended the show this year. Show attendance has been really disappointing.

I have no idea of how others are doing (nobody seems to be rejoicing) but our seminar attendance at this show, along with our book and DVD sales, are half what they were last year.

This is our last show for 2008. Our next RV adventure will take us to Yuma, Arizona where we will welcome the new year with RVing friends. In the meantime we will be training a new Golden Retriever puppy.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To Keep or Not To Keep

In This Issue

What's New With Us: A New Puppy!
Brief Article: To Keep or Not to Keep (that dinosaur)
Vicki's Recipe: Joe's Favorite Tacos
RVing Tip: Black Marks in The Refrigerator

What's New With Us

We're getting a new puppy! Next Tuesday, when she is old enough to leave her mom, we will be picking up a new puppy. Her name is Molly. Molly is an English Creme Golden Retriever. English Cremes have a white coat, although Molly has just a hint of blond color. Molly's litter consisted of five males and five females. We knew we wanted a female but it still took us about two hours to make our final selection. The picture shows Vicki holding the two finalists. Vicki wanted both of them. Molly is on the right.

Our last dog, Brandy, was a Golden Retriever. Golden Retrievers have a sweet and gentle nature. Goldens start out the way most larger breeds do; active and rambunctious. But after a couple of years they develop a laid-back attitude and settle down. Goldens typically love human beings. They want to be a part of the family's activities. The Goldens I have dealt with want very badly to please their humans. As a result, they are easy to train by using praise and affection.

Molly, just like our previous dogs, will be trained to come, sit, lie down, stay, go to her bed, go potty, and heel. She will have the good manners to not jump on people and will only bark when appropriate. Molly will remain outside during the day and be allowed inside at night and during inclimate weather.

Vicki and I are now negotiating on who will be responsible for which end of the dog. I have a suspicion Vicki is going to win the front end.


To Keep or Not to Keep

Dear Joe and Vicki: My motorhome is 5 years old. Things are beginning to wear out and need replacement. We are wondering whether we should keep and refurbish our present motorhome or buy a new one. What do you think?

Joe: Either way, it looks like you are getting ready to spend some money. And, whether you buy a new motorhome or refurbish the one you have, in five more years you are probably going to be faced with the same decision again.

Five years of age seems to be a mid-life crisis point for RVs, especially motorhomes. Outside, the paint is beginning to oxidize. The windshield probably has a few battle scars. The roof needs to be re-caulked (for the second or third time). Shock absorbers and brake linings need to be checked. Belts, hoses and windshield wiper blades are due for replacement. Tires, no matter their tread wear, are reaching the end of their safe lifespan. The engine and transmission may not be performing as smartly as when they were new.

Inside, the carpet, upholstery and window coverings are beginning to fade and show some wear. Fabrics and color schemes are woefully out-of-fashion. Outdated appliances have reached the point where, if they stop working, the repairman will probably suggest replacement instead of repair. The entertainment center (if you have one) has a television screen that is smaller than you like, does not have a DVD player, and has speakers that seem archaic.

And, if your RV is five or more years of age, you may only have one slide-out room or perhaps no slides at all! Good grief! You own a dinosaur!

Chances are your RV's loan balance is less than, or about equal to, its market value. Or maybe you are one of the lucky RV owners whose payments are just right – nothing per month. That means you have some equity in your present RV that could be applied to the purchase of a new one. And let's face it, a five year old RV is easier to sell or trade than one that is ten years old. Maybe now is a good time to trade.

Vicki: Before you do, however, consider what you will be doing with your present or new RV for the next five years. Do you anticipate any personal or career changes that would affect your RVing lifestyle? A new job or promotion might curtail the amount of time available for RVing. In that case, it might not make good financial sense to buy a new RV only to have it sit in storage. Perhaps it might be better to postpone that new purchase and, for the time being, make do with your present RV.

On the other hand, if you will be retiring soon, perhaps you will have even more time available for RVing. Buying a new RV prior to retiring can be a good decision. You can choose one that will better complement your extended travels. You will also have the opportunity to take it on a few shakedown trips and get familiar with it before you embark on those extended cross-country journeys.

One of the most popular reasons for getting a new RV is a change of RV lifestyle. Going from weekend and two-week camping trips to extended travel, snowbirding, or fulltiming frequently calls for a change in the type and/or size of RV.

However, if you are going to continue to use your RV as you have in the past, there are some other considerations. By now you have made a lot of personal changes and adjustments to your RV. Closets, drawers and cabinets have been arranged to hold all your "stuff". Pictures, pillows and decorations have been added to reflect your personal taste. You have decided where to keep the trash basket, laundry hamper and vacuum cleaner. You are familiar with your RV's idiosyncrasies and comfortable with its operation. Do you really want to get rid of this rig? If you did replace it, would you want the new RV to be radically different? If your present rig will satisfy your RVing interests and needs for the next five years or so, if you can incorporate the changes and upgrades you'd like into your RV, maybe you should hold onto it.

Joe: Look at the financial considerations. Before you refurbish your current RV, make a list of the things you would like to change. Take your list to the appropriate craftsmen and get an estimate of what the total project will cost. Then, determine your RV's actual market value – what you could reasonably and realistically expect to receive if you sold it today. You don't want to invest more into your RV than it is worth.

Look at the price of new RVs that are equivalent to your present rig. Chances are you will pay at least half again as much for a new RV as you did for your present RV five years ago. Not only will the purchase price be higher, but so will the sales tax. And, of course, the annual insurance premiums, and vehicle registration fees of the new RV will be higher than what you are paying now.

The money you spend refurbishing your RV may not add appreciably to its market value
but it will certainly be less than the cost of a new rig.

Vicki: Your choices seem to be to a.) keep your RV and spend the minimum necessary to bring it to satisfactory condition, b.) keep your RV and invest what it takes to renovate and update it to your satisfaction, or c.) buy a new RV that will better satisfy your interests and needs.

If you are unhappy with your present RV, if it does not satisfy your RVing lifestyle, if you want a different type, size, style or floorplan, then buy that new RV. But if you like your present RV and it can be refurbished to satisfy your RVing interests and needs, it might make better sense to keep it.

And, if you do, there's always the chance that a silver-tongued salesman will weave his magic, and cause you to fall in love with a 42-foot, quadruple slide, Whizbang motorhome and set you up with a payment schedule that will last the rest of your natural life.

Either way, in five years you will be making this same decision again.


Vicki"s Favorite Recipes (from My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes)

Joe's Favorite Tacos

I fix tacos about once a week whether we are at home or on the road. Corn tortillas are hard to find in some parts of the country, so I always put several packages in our RV freezer before leaving on a trip.

When Joe and the kids have their birthdays, they always get to choose their favorite dinner. This has always been Joe's choice. It is also the favorite of all of our grandchildren.

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 heaping tablespoons salsa
12 corn tortillas
Vegetable oil for frying
1/4 to 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1-1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, chopped
Additional salsa to spoon on tacos
Sour cream, optional

1. Crumble and brown ground beef in a medium skillet. Add salt, pepper and salsa.

2. Pour about ¼ inch vegetable oil in a skillet and heat on high. When the oil is hot, fry one tortilla at a time. Fry on one side until starting to crisp at the edges, turn over, fold in half and brown on each side. Continue for all 12 tortillas.

3. Drain each tortilla on paper towels.

4. Serve taco shells filled with meat. Each person can add their own lettuce, cheese, onions, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream.

Makes 3-4 servings.


RVing Tip

Travel vibrations can cause aluminum drink cans to leave black marks on the interior walls and shelves of the refrigerator. You can prevent this by using a plastic storage box (without the lid) as a drink-can container inside your refrigerator.


Next Issue November 1 - Cash and Carry

Return to RV Know How


Sunday, September 14, 2008

RV Show Season

In This Issue:

What's New With Us: Itchy Wheels
Brief Article: RV Show Time
Vicki's Favorite Recipes: Italian Pasta Salad
RVing Tip: RV Storage Tip


Going to Alaska next year? Read the article "Alaska! The Ultimate RV Adventure" and check out our DVD "RVing Alaska: What to Expect, How to Prepare" and our E-book "RVing Alaska, Insights and Observations" View our Alaska Journey Blogs - September 5 and 8, 2007.


What's New With Us

As Extended RV Travelers we normally go out on the road for three to four months, return home for a couple of months, and then hit the road again for another few months.

This year has been different. We traveled to the east coast to present seminars at RV shows during the months of January, February and March. Then we returned home during the first week of April. Family circumstances resulted in the cancellation of our summer travel plans (see RV Notebook post July 9). With the exception of a five-day journey to Oregon, we have been house-locked for almost six months. Talk about having a case of "itchy wheels"!!!

So we are looking forward to our 400-mile journey to Sacramento at the end of this month. We will be "camping" in a parking lot adjacent to the Sacramento RV Show while we present seminars there.

We are scheduled to present our "10 Tips For Choosing An RV" seminar at 12 noon and our "ExtendedRV Travel" seminar at 3:00 pm every day of the show. Come see us.


RV Show Time

Have you been to an RV show lately? RV shows are the dealers' way of going to the customer, displaying their products and, hopefully, making lots of sales.

A real RV show is one that has a half dozen or more RV dealers exhibiting a large variety of RVs in one convenient location. Obviously, the more dealers participating in the show the larger the number of RVs you’ll find on display.

Attending an RV show is a dynamite way to comparison shop for an RV. It gives you the opportunity to check out an assortment of trailers, motorhomes, campers and van conversions in one convenient location.

This is where casual lookers can view the new models and investigate the latest innovations. This is also where serious shoppers can zero in on the type, size and price bracket of the RV they want. They can then compare the floorplans, features and prices of similar rigs.

And, when they decide to buy, they are likely to discover that "special" show prices and deals are not uncommon when competing RV dealers are in close proximity to one another.

A big RV show will also include display booths with vendors of RV related products and services. Campgrounds and RV parks hand out literature and discount coupons inviting RVers to spend time in their facilities. Insurance agents offer free RV insurance quotes. Sellers of cleaning and polishing products give away free samples.

The vendor booth area is where you are likely to find sewer hoses, water filters, electric hookup extension cords, roof air conditioners, portable fire pits and every other common and uncommon RV gadget and gizmo. This is where the "pitch" people demonstrate their wares. You can watch them cook a meal, mop floors, peel potatoes, clean jewelry and perform any number of entertaining presentations that will convince you to buy their "must have" products.

Many RVers, content with their present RV, consider the vendor booths the reason to attend an RV show. Clever show producers recognize that, after viewing the vendor area, these RVers frequently move on to the RV displays where a good number of them end up buying a new rig.

RV show producers also recognize the growing popularity of RVs with young families. To draw them in, many shows offer clowns, mimes, magicians, strolling musicians, jugglers, ventriloquists, and other forms of entertainment. RV shows, after all, have to compete with other events for the attention of the consumer.

And, of course, a really great RV show will feature RV seminars by folks like Joe and Vicki Kieva. Our seminars provide tips on choosing, using and enjoying an RV.

Finding an RV show is not difficult. Most occur during the months of January, February and March and again during September and October. The bigger shows will advertise on local radio and television stations.

Many RV shows have their own web sites. It is not unusual for these web sites to have discount coupons you can download, print and present for a reduced admission price.

You will also find their ads in RV magazines and your local newspaper. Pay close attention; the print ads frequently double as discount coupons for admission. See if the ad offers reduced admission prices to seniors or RV club members who are willing to attend the show on weekdays. By the way, we have observed that RV shows are less crowded on weekdays and early in the day on weekends.

Take your time. Look at the RVs. Ask questions. Pick up brochures. Make notes. Keep in mind the show producer, dealers and vendors have gone to a great deal of trouble to put the show together. The least you can do is buy an RV.

If you are planning on attending an RV show, read our article "How To Enjoy An RV Show"

Joe and Vicki will be presenting their "how-to" RV seminars at:

The Sacramento RV Show in Sacramento, CA - September 25 - 28, 2008
The California RV Show in Pomona, CA - October 10 - 19, 2008


Vicki's Favorite Recipes (From My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes)

Italian Pasta Salad

This salad always makes a hit, especially at potlucks or other large get togethers. It is colorful and tastes delicious.

1 pkg. (16 oz.) tube pasta (rotelle or penne)
1 chub (8 oz.) Gallo Salame, skinned and cubed
2 green onions, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 can (2.2 oz.) sliced ripe olives, drained
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, cut into small chunks
1-3/4 cup bottled or homemade Italian dressing

1. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Drain well and let cool.

2. Place pasta in a large bowl with all remaining salad

3. Pour dressing over salad and stir well to combine.

4. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight,
stirring several times.

Makes 8 to 10 side-dish servings.


RVing Tip: (From RVing Tips, Tricks & Techniques)

Spread a half-dozen fabric softener sheets throughout the interior of your RV before putting it in storage. Your rig will have a fresh aroma when you open it up again.


Next Issue, October 15, 2008: To Keep or Not To Keep

Return to RV Know How


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Important Papers - RV Etiquette

In This Issue:

What's New With Us: Important Papers
Brief Article: RV Etiquette
Vicki's Favorite Recipes: Mexican Salad
RVing Tip: Storm Warnings


Going to Alaska? Read the article "Alaska! The Ultimate RV Adventure" and check out our DVD "RVing Alaska: What to Expect, How to Prepare" and our E-book "RVing Alaska, Insights and Observations"


What's New With Us

It is the eleventh hour. Do you know where your loved one's important papers are located? Do they know how to find yours?

Recently, Vicki's 93-year-old dad had to go into a skilled nursing facility. He seems to be making a slow recovery but there was a day or two when we thought we would lose him. Vicki is an only child so she had the responsibility of not only locating a good nursing facility that he could afford, but helping him with his financial affairs as well.

Fortunately, her dad is an organized and trusting person. He had already signed a "Health Care Directive", a "Power of Attorney for Health Care" and a "Durable Power of Attorney for Finance" naming Vicki as his agent. He had also authorized Vicki as a signer on his bank accounts.

All of his financial business was located in a well-organized file drawer in his desk. As a result, Vicki is able to determine what payments are due, show the bills to her dad and, with his approval, write and mail the checks to pay them. If the time comes when he is unable to direct his financial affairs, Vicki can step in with no problem.

In that same desk Vicki also found his insurance policies, retirement papers, his will and pre-paid burial arrangements.

Vicki's dad, being both pro-active and considerate, gathered, organized and made accessible all of his financial and important papers before they were needed. He not only did what he could to control his life during a difficult time, he made it as easy as he could for his daughter to assist him in his time of need and, ultimately, to deal with his passing.

Do you know where your loved one's important papers are located? Do they know how to find yours?


RV Etiquette

Joe: Etiquette, or good manners, is simply being considerate of others.

I am one of those people who enjoys the sound of a campground in the morning. I love the rumbling of powerful engines coming to life, the groans of trailer hitches taking up their loads, and the crunch of tires rolling on gravel. To me, it is the siren call of adventure. It makes me want to go.

However, I am not too fond of folks who leave loudly before 6 o’clock in the morning. Their preparations seem to always include lots of door slamming and tossing rather than placing their leveling boards into truck beds. They run their engines interminably and suffocate the campground with exhaust fumes.

These must be the same people who arrive after 9 o’clock at night and can’t seem to position themselves in their site without a lot of yelling and maneuvering. And, of course, their RVs are the ones with the loud exhausts and nerve-wracking back up beepers.

And then there is the guy who, after parking his RV as close as possible to my rig, extends both of his slideout rooms into my campsite. This person also seems to be the one whose leaking water or sewer hose creates a small lake under my picnic table.

I get a kick out of watching the pet owners who take their dogs for a walk, pretend not to notice the animal pooping on the grass, and then immediately head back to their RVs. Who do they think they’re fooling?

These same people are the ones who don’t seem to notice that their dogs bark incessantly all day long. How do they stand living with an animal like that?

Vicki: I have no sympathy for people who abandon their clothes in campground washing machines or dryers and, when they return, find them piled in a corner. They should be there to retrieve their laundry and free up the machine as soon as the load is finished.

Cellular phones have shortened if not eliminated the lines of people at pay phones. Still, I am grateful to the considerate person who limits the number of calls or the time spent on those calls when they see others waiting.

Now, the lines seem to be forming at the place where we plug in our laptops to pick up our e-mail. Veteran RVers pre-program their computer to dial the appropriate phone numbers before they plug into the data ports. They only stay online long enough to download (not read) their incoming e-mail and to send their prepared outgoing messages. Fortunately, this inconvenience is going away as more and more RV parks offer Wi-Fi.

Joe: I appreciate the professionalism of the RVer at the disposal station who attaches his sewer hose, pulls his valves (black then gray), disconnects his hose and immediately moves his RV out of the way so the next rig can pull into place. You can bet he is also the person who moves his rig forward after he is finished fueling but before he goes inside to pay. This, by the way, is expected behavior at truck stops.

I am impressed by the master RVer who can pull into a campground late and leave early without making a sound; the thoughtful dog owners who not only clean up after their pets but care enough to teach them how to behave; the concerned parents whose children make happy sounds at the playground and pool but don’t run roughshod through my campsite. I am impressed by the majority of RVers and campers who have the good manners to be considerate of each other. It makes me want to stay.


Vicki's Favorite Recipes (From My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes)

Mexican Salad
(Quick and Easy)

I made this salad on one of our first trips to Mexico. We had been told not to eat the produce without thoroughly scrubbing the outside, peeling or otherwise disinfecting. Tomatoes and avocados were plentiful, very inexpensive and, the best part - the tomatoes could be scrubbed or peeled and the avocados could be peeled.

This has become a favorite salad no matter where we are.

3 avocados, cut into bite-size pieces
3-4 tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
Italian dressing, balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar

1. Put avocados, tomatoes and red onion (if desired) into a medium bowl.

2. Drizzle with Italian dressing, balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar.

Makes 4 side-dish servings.


RVing Tip: (From RVing Tips, Tricks & Techniques)

Weather warnings broadcast by radio and television stations are frequently given for specific counties. Make a habit of asking what county you are in when registering at campgrounds. And don't forget to ask for the location of the nearest storm shelter.


Next Issue, September 15, 2008: RV Show Season

Return to RV Know How


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back Home for Ken

Trip Cancelled. We're Home Again!

Here is a photo of our motorhome waiting to be put into storage.

It was Fourth-of-July weekend. We were enroute to the Life on Wheels Conference in Lewiston, ID. Two days and some 800 miles into our journey we received a telephone call informing us that Vicki's 93-year old father had been taken to the hospital. Information was sketchy but sufficient for us to know we had better head for home. The immediate question was whether we should fly or drive. We made a U-turn and a few phone calls later determined that it would not be necessary to fly.

It is a week later and, today, Vicki's dad is being transferred to a skilled nursing center. He has a serious infection in his right leg and foot. The responding paramedics also observed an abnormal heartbeat. Vicki has been busy acting as his patient advocate (strongly suggested for any hospital stay), dealing with all the inquiries from family and friends, and researching skilled nursing facilities. It may take a little time but, barring complications, Vicki's dad should eventually be back on both feet.

This is not the first time we have had to respond to an emergency call from home. Experience has taught us how to plan for these events. Most important of all, our family knows how to reach us. They have our travel itinerary; even if it is a sketchy one. They know approximately where we will be on any given day. They have our cellphone numbers, e-mail address, and telephone numbers of the friends we will visit, places we will be working and, when we know, the RV parks where we will be staying.

We have discovered that campground and RV park operators are especially accommodating when their customers have an emergency situation. On more than one occasion the campground operator has had us park our RV within sight of the office and their residence and only charged us for the electricity our rig used while we were absent.

And, we learned a long time ago that it is a good idea to have at least one piece of carry-on luggage stashed somewhere in our RV (in turn, the luggage usually has a seldom-used item stashed inside it).

We are sorry we missed the opportunity to present seminars at Life on Wheels. Even more sorry that we didn't get to visit with our fellow instructors; many of whom are our best friends. The good news, though, is that the weather here in Huntington Beach, CA remains mild with temps in the mid-70s.

Return to RV Know How


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tour Our Motorhome

In this Issue

What's New With Us: Going to Alaska?.
Brief Article: Tour Our Motorhome.
Vicki's Recipes: Beef Flavored Rice
RVing Tip: Keeping Cool.

Going to Alaska?

Our latest e-book, RVing Alaska, Insights and Observations, will be available as soon as our webmaster can bring it up on our website.

If you are planning, or even thinking about driving your RV to Alaska, you will appreciate the wealth of up-to-date information this e-book makes available to you.

The book has three sections. The first provides an overview of what to expect and how to prepare for an RV journey to Alaska. Topics include personal and vehicle preparation, crossing the border into Canada, road conditions, campgrounds, availability of fuel, using the ferry system, and a brief description of the various highways you will travel in British Columbia, the Yukon Territory and Alaska.

The second section describes what it is like to participate in an RV caravan trip to Alaska. It also discusses the pros and cons of traveling solo versus going to Alaska with a group.

The third section is a detailed journal of the 44-day Alaskan RV journey we took in the fall of 2007. Each entry includes a description of the day's road condition, terrain, fuel stops and campgrounds. The journal can be used as a base from which to plan your own RV adventure.

RVing Alaska, Insights and Observations is not a flora and fauna book. It is a no-nonsense "how-to" book designed to help you make informed decisions and proper preparations for the ultimate RVing adventure.

Look for it in the E-Book section of rvknowhow.com

Tour Our Motorhome

We've been asked a number of times what kind of RV we owned. So here is a photographic tour of our combination transport, home and office. We have put about 190,000 milles of cross-country driving on it. No, it does not have any slides (or slide problems).

Click on any photo to enlarge it. Click on your "Back" button to return to normal.

1998, 37-foot, diesel-powered Country Coach Allure and 2007 Saturn Vue

Notice all the overhead cabinets

The kitchen has a side-by-side refrigerator and a microwave/convection oven. The cantilevered dinette table has no leg to bump our knees. We traded the free standing chairs for the booth seating. We like the the large storage drawers and comfortable soft cushions.

We have written and talked about some of the improvements we have made to our motorhome. Here are a few of them:

A panel under the dash in front of the passenger seat provided access to the area under the dash. But there was plenty of room behind the panel. So our son, Sean the cabinet maker, built an open-faced cabinet. The upper shelf slants down towards the back so the campground directories do not slide out. A space is provided for the thermos that holds our morning coffee while we are driving. The cabinet is easily removed when access under the dash is needed.

The motorhome's deep pantry had solid shelves. That made it difficult to locate and reach items in the back. So Sean installed three slide-out shelves.

Our couch has plenty of undrneath storage space. But the only way to gain access was by lifting the entire seat cushion section. Sean built and installed three large drawers under the couch. A real nice touch are the adjustable dividers in each drawer.

Our seminar/writing business requires that we have certain files available to us at all times. We needed a portable file cabinet that could be moved between our home office and our motorhome, depending upon where we were at the moment. We also wanted it to be easily accessible but out of the way.

Sean built a combination center-console, file-cabinet and map-drawer. It is normally located next to the driver's seat and butted up to the dash. It has wheels under the rear two corners and short legs under the front corners. Lifting the front end slightly allows the cabinet to be rolled back so the driver can get in and out of his seat. The weight of the cabinet on the legs keeps it from moving while under way. It is amazingly stable.

The cabinet consists of three interlocking sections.The console portion is a removable tray with cup holders and compartments for maps, sunglasses, cellphone, loose change and miscellaneous stuff. Removing the console tray (we place it on the driver's seat) exposes the 18-inch long file box that is wide and deep enough to accommodate hanging file folders. A large drawer at the bottom contains atlases and map books.

When we arrive home the console tray is lifted off the file cabinet and the file cabinet is lifted off the drawer section. The file cabinet and its contents are carried into our home office and placed on a slide-out shelf in our desk.

The television cabinet is located at the top of the entry stairs. It had a tendency to attack the heads of people entering the motorhome and the left shoulder of those who were exiting. The file cabinet, located on the floor under the television, redirected people away from the TV cabinet. But a better solution was cutting the cabinet back 12 inches and installing a flat-screen television.

It shows what can be done if you have a talented cabinet maker in the family. We plan on keeping this motorhome for another 190,000 miles.


Vicki's Quick and Easy Recipe:

Beef Flavored Rice

(from My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes)

This rice dish always makes a hit with everyone. The recipe can easily be halved for less people.

2 cubes butter or margarine
3 cups uncooked rice
2 cans (4 oz.) mushrooms, drained
2 cans (10-1/2 oz.) French onion soup, undiluted
1 can (10-1/2 oz.) beef bouillon, undiluted
1 empty soup can white or red wine

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Melt butter or margarine in a 9"x 13" baking pan.

3. Combine all other ingredients and pour into the
baking pan.

4. Bake covered for 1 hour.

Makes about 10 servings.


Keeping Cool

Whenever possible, select a campsite that points the front of your RV towards the east or south. This allows your patio awning to protect the entry-door wall from the hot afternoon sun. The opposite side-wall will be the naturally shady side of your rig during most of the day.

Return to RV Know How


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Rally in Perry, GA

The Rally is over! It took place in Perry, GA begining on Wednesday, March 12 and ending on Monday, March 17. We don’t have the exact figures yet but it was estimated that over 3,500 RVs were parked on the fairgrounds for the rally. The RV parks in the area were also filled to capacity. Needless to say, there were lots of people in attendance.

We arrived on Tuesday and were parked among the rally staff workers. The good news was that we had electric, water and sewer hookups. The bad news was that we were located about as far as possible from our seminar rooms. Too far to lug our books and handouts. So we rented a golfcar for $600.00. Ouch! But it was kinda fun to buzz around the fairgrounds on a motorized vehicle.

Our Verizon Aircard made it possible to go online while sitting in our RV. At times it was a little slow; probably because of all the cellular activity in the area

Fortunately, the weather cooperated. We had warm, sunny days, every day. It did rain hard one night from 10 pm to 2 am, and the wind damaged a few RV awnings that had been left out during one windy day (hello, is there a message here?).

Each of our seminars attracted audiences in the hundreds. And the folks were super responsive. Vicki introduced her new seminar, “The RVer’s Kitchen”. Folks seemed to like it. They bought a lot of her new book, “My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes”.

We also sold a lot of Alaska DVDs. We received our “RVing Alaska: What to Expect, How to Prepare” DVDs just two days before the rally started. Our webmaster assures us the new DVDs will be available on our website in just a few days. He is making a number of changes in addition to adding the DVDs so it will take a little time.

We left the rally on Monday right after our final seminar ended at noon. We have to be in Sacramento by next Tuesday for the Sacramento RV Show.

Return to RV Know How


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Myrtle Beach - Alaska DVD almost ready

Our time here is almost up. Saturday we will start moving towards The Rally in Perry, GA. We have made good use of our time here at Ocean Lakes Campground. A number of writing projects, along with some business chores have been taken care of.

The weather has been fairly cooperative. Mostly mild, sunny days with an occasional thunderstorm thrown in, and temperatures ranging from a high of 70 degrees to a low of 24 degrees. As pleasant as it has been here – overlooking the ocean, listening to the waves, eating seafood and Philly Cheesesteaks - we are ready to get on the road again.


Our Verizon aircard, a device that plugs into the PC slot of our laptop and gives us a cellular connection to the internet, is working out great. We have spent a lot of time on line during the past week or so. We have enjoyed immediate connectivity and the speed is close to that of our home’s DSL service. This device and service is a genuine keeper. You can read more about it by scrolling down to our February 10th entry.


Good News! John Holod, the DVD producer, told me the “RVing Alaska: What to Expect, How to Prepare” DVD should be through the duplication process and in our hands by Wednesday, March 12th. That means we will have them in time for our seminars at The Rally.

It was just about a year ago that Vicki and I got together with John Holod and Jodie Ginter to discuss this project. John and Jodie are videographers who produce unique DVD travelogues. They show and sell them at, among other venues, RV shows around the country. That’s how we met and became friends.

Anyway, John and Jodie were getting ready to go to Alaska to film a new Alaska DVD. We were interested in making a DVD of our “Alaska. The Ultimate RV Adventure” seminar to go along with our other RV seminar DVDs.

At first, Vicki and I were going to just film one of our Alaska seminars in front of a live audience, just as we had done with our “Choosing an RV” and Extended RV Travel” seminars. One thing led to another during the conversation and it was decided that we could produce a dynamite “how-to” DVD by having Vicki and I meet John and Jodie in Alaska. We would tape a DVD that would actually show the viewer what we were talking about. When we talked about road conditions - the viewer would see the various road conditions. When we talked about getting on and off the ferries - the viewer would see RVs getting on and off the ferries. When we – well, you get the idea.

Vicki and I went to work making a story board and writing a script. A story board, essentially, identifies and lines up the scenes you want to film with the things you want to say. The scenes are not necessarily filmed in the order they will be shown. But they do match the things that will be said in the DVD.

John and Jodie left for Alaska in early May. They filmed “B” roll for our DVD while they filmed segments for their travelogue. “B” roll is background shots that can be added to the final DVD but doesn’t necessarily require the presence of the people who are speaking. Voice and video are matched up during the editing process.

Vicki and I left for Alaska in late July. We met with John and Jodie to shoot the scenes that required our presence in front of the camera. This part of the DVD was a real challenge because the weather did not want to cooperate. We spent a lot of time waiting for the weather to clear so we could film a necessary part of the DVD. At the end of the day we would review the day’s footage. If the footage was not satisfactory we went out and repeated the scene the next day.

All total, Vicki and I spent six weeks in Alaska meeting and traveling with John and Jodie. They must have filmed miles of DVD footage with Vicki and/or me walking, talking and driving our way over the highways and byways of Alaska. We went home happy with the individual segments but not having any idea how the final DVD was going to turn out.

Next came the editing process. John is a skilled perfectionist. Editing takes time. And, at the same time, John and Jodie were flying all over the country showing their DVDs and trying to make a living. John sent us a couple of rough DVDs. In the writing world we call them outlines and drafts. I don’t know what the Hollywood types call them. Anyway we did see and approve an almost final version of the DVD.

While John was editing, the cover for the DVD case was being designed. And the picture and text that would appear on the disk itself had to be selected. Again we received drafts for our approval.

Part of the editing process involved sending the DVD to folks who created maps and graphics. And, of course, selecting background music and negotiating the rights to use it in the DVD also had to be accomplished. This ain’t no home movie, folks.

All of that work resulted in a master copy. The master copy was sent to a duplication company. They make the hundreds or thousands of DVDs that must then be placed in plastic cases.

Anyway, the reason I’m so excited, John said he was told by the duplication company that he would receive the finished DVDs by this weekend and he would send them to us by March 12th.

So, after a year of work and waiting, we are excited.

We’ll soon be offering “RVing Alaska: What to Expect, how to Prepare” for sale in the RV DVDs section of our website. That involves us making changes to the site and making arrangements for CCnow to put the DVDs on their shopping cart.

In the meantime, if you would like to be notified when “RVing Alaska: What to Expect, How to Prepare” is available for shipment contact us at kieva@rvknowhow.com
Put Alaska DVD on the subject line and provide your e-mail address.

By the way, you can see a description of the “RVing Alaska: What to Expect, How to Prepare” DVD content by scrolling down to our February 16th entry.

Return to RV Know How


Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Alaska DVD!

Our newest DVD, “RVing Alaska: What to Expect, How to Prepare” is almost ready.

Last summer we traveled to Alaska with videographers John Holod and Jodie Ginter. Together, we created a dynamite DVD that does just what the title says … it shows you what to expect and how to prepare for this great trip.

Topics include:

What to Expect
Road Conditions and Driving Tips
Fuel Stops
Repair Facilities
Grocery Stores

How to Prepare
Vehicle Preparation
Personal Preparation
Crossing the Border

Alaska Ferry System
Making Reservations
Boarding the Ferry
Eating Accommodations
Sleeping Facilities

If you would like to be notified when this DVD is available for shipment contact us at kievabooks@rvknowhow.com put “Alaska DVD” on the subject line and provide your e-mail address.

To read our detailed Alaska log on this blog, press “end” on your computer keyboard, click on “Older Posts” and scroll to September 8, 2007.

Return to RV Know How


Greetings from Littleton, NC

We are camped in the driveway of our very good friends, Loren and Nancy Benedict. If you have attended our “Full-time and Extended RV Travel” seminar you have heard us encourage RV travelers to develop 365 friends with long driveways. Well, Loren and Nancy have a super-long driveway with 30-amp electric, water and sewer hookups.

Unfortunately, we are in a location that does not have any sort of cellular service. So that means we not only can not use our cellular phone but our new aircard is useless as well. Luckily, Loren and Nancy’s router is strong enough to act as a wi-fi hotspot for us. We can go on line from the comfort and convenience of our motorhome. And we use their phone once a day to call in for messages.

Loren and Nancy used to be fulltime RVers. They traveled and lived in a 40-foot motorcoach and pulled a small truck that doubled as transportation and a warehouse for the products (mostly flagpoles) they sold at home, farm, boat and RV shows. That’s how we met them. A few years ago they came in off the road, bought a fixer-upper on the shore of 30-mile-long Lake Gaston and made a small piece of heaven out of it. They traded the motorcoach for a 28-foot trailer and used their truck/warehouse to pull the trailer. Today, they continue to sell at shows but specialize in quality flagpoles, flagpole accessories and flags. Check out their website http://www.1800flagpole.com/

Tom and Margie Hildebrand live near Loren and Nancy. They also used to be fulltimers and show vendors. The six of us worked the North Carolina RV shows, and after hours we would terrorize the local restaurants.

A few years ago, Tom was diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors said he had six months to live. Tom apparently has not decided when to start the six-month countdown. He has gone through the hell of chemo, radiation and surgery and still looks like he will be around for a long time to come. His attitude is “If you are going to cheat, cheat death”

Nancy made a huge lasagna and the six of us once again broke bread together.

Monday, we head for a repair shop in Winston-Salem, NC. Our motorhome engine has developed a small coolant leak and the cold-water connection on our water-heater also has a small leak. Both are small but located in places I can’t reach. Hopefully an RV service tech will be able to take us in on short notice (these things always happen on a holiday weekend).

Friday, we begin presenting seminars at the Charlotte RV Show.

Return to RV Know How


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Greetings from Raleigh, NC - Our New Air card

We are presenting seminars at the Raleigh, North Carolina RV Show. The weather here in Raleigh is cool enough to discourage folks from going to the beach or working in the yard but nice enough to encourage them to attend the show. The show, which takes place at the North Carolina state Fairgrounds, is experiencing a large, enthusiastic attendance. Our motorhome is nestled among a stand of trees in one of the many full-hookup campsites on the fairgrounds. Our work commute is a brief walk to the seminar building.

Enroute here from Myrtle Beach we stopped and visited with our friends Mark and Dawn Polk. Mark and Dawn are both multi-talented individuals who have made a success out of producing RV educational videos, DVDs, books and e-books. They have worked hard and, more importantly, they have worked smart to make their products and website, http://www.rveducation101.com/ , a commercial success. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer couple.

The downside to camping at the fairgrounds and in the parking lots of other shows is that we don’t have convenient access to the internet. And our business has become dependent upon having a daily internet connection. So we decided to bite the bullet and make an attempt to join the 21st century… we purchased an aircard and signed up for service with Verizon. An aircard is a device that plugs into a laptop computer and provides a cellular connection to the internet. It doesn’t matter where we are, as long as we have a cellular signal, we can connect to the internet --- at least that is what the Verizon folks told me.

The aircard, a USB720 model, cost $59.00 but that was offset by a mail-in rebate of $59.00. The monthly service fee for unlimited access is $59.00 (more if you are not a Verizon cellular customer). Our aircard plugs into a USB port on our laptop when we want to go online. It sticks out about three inches but it can also be connected to the laptop with a three-foot long cable that came with the aircard.

Sitting here in the fairgrounds, in the middle of the city of Raleigh, the cellular signal is strong and the speed of our aircard internet access is comparable to the speed of our DSL connection at home. So far, so good. We’ll let you know how well the aircard performs as we travel around the country.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Greetings From Myrtle Beach, SC

Every year, during our winter speaking circuit, we make a point of staying at Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, SC. This year is no exception. We are in a paved, pull-through campsite on the oceanfront. It has 50-amp electric, water, sewer, cable and telephone hookup. Dial-up internet access is available through the telephone connection, free wi-fi is provided near the campground store, and wi-fi is available at the campsite for a fee. We also have a strong cellular signal. The campground is uncrowded because it is off-season. And, because it is off-season the daily rate for our prime site is only $33.00.
Our time here is spent replenishing, repairing, resting and relaxing. We are restless travelers and rarely spend more than a few days in any campground. Ocean Lakes, however, is an exception. Even after a stay of seven to ten days, we hate to leave.


Last week, after the Florida RV Super Show ended, we drove to Titusville on the east coast of Florida. Our good friends, "Frosty" and Kay Ann Blake talked us into staying at The Great Outdoors RV Resort where they own an RV lot. Our visit with Frosty and Kay Ann included a tour of this beautiful resort, an introduction to the game of Bingo (as adults) at the resort's community building, and dinner at Vicki's favorite local restaurant, Dixie Crossroads. During the summer months, Frosty and Kay Ann live and work at another of our favorite campgrounds, Cherry Hills RV Park in College Park, MD, just outside of Washington DC. The folks at Cherry Hills specialize in helping RVers get the most out of their visit to our nation's capitol.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Travel Log - I-10 & I-20

We are on the road again. Traveling from Huntington Beach, California to Greensboro, North Carolina where we will present RV seminars at the North Carolina RV Show. What’s it like to travel cross-country in January? Here is our daily travel log. You will notice that we travel about 300 miles a day. We get on the road about 9:00 am and check into an RV park before 4:00 pm. That is a comfortable pace for us. More often than not we fuel our diesel motorhome at a Flying J Travel Plaza. We are familiar with the layout of their facilities and we have noticed that their fuel prices are usually the lowest in the area. We also spend a lot of our travel evenings in KOA campgrounds. Their facilities are familiar, fairly consistent and meet our needs. When we pull into a KOA at the end of a travel day we pretty much know what to expect. We also stay at a lot of other good RV parks and campgrounds.


Saturday, December 29 – Travel Day 1

Huntington Beach to San Diego, CA – I-405, I-5 and I-805 - 90 miles A heavily trafficked route best avoided before 9:30 am and after 3:00 pm on weekdays. San Diego, CA to Yuma, AZ - I-8 – 180 miles Heading east from the intersection of I-805 and I-8, the next 85 miles of I-8 is a series of grades that lifts you to about 4,000 feet and then returns to sea level near the town of Ocotillo, California. At that point the highway straightens out as it carries you across the level desert, and crosses the Colorado River into the city of Yuma. If you ever drive through Yuma during the winter months you will be amazed at the number of RV parks full of RVs you will see next to the highway. There are places here where two and three gigantic RV parks sit side by side. And they all appear to be full! I’ll bet Yuma has more RV parks and, during the winter time, RVs per square mile than any other city in the country. I’m told that the snowbirds double Yuma’s population from 80,000 to 160,000 during the winter months. Our friends, Jerry and Arlyne Ray, own an RV lot on the east side of Yuma. It is located in a development of large lots where you can park up to three RVs at a time. Most of the owners have installed one or more full hookup facilities on their lots so they and their guests can spend extended periods of time. Every year, while enroute to our east coast speaking circuit, we stop here for two or three nights to visit with Jerry and Arlyne and another couple of good friends, Joe and Joanne Annuzio. Joe and Joanne have two adjacent lots directly across the street. This year we arrived in time to celebrate New Year’s eve with them and five other RVing couples. Vicki and I hope to make this an annual tradition. We take exit 12 in Yuma to get to Barney’s Truck Stop for fuel. They have two fuel islands reserved for RVs in the truck fueling area. As you can imagine, there are a lot of good restaurants catering to the snowbird population.
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Tuesday, January 1 – Travel Day 2

Yuma, AZ to Benson, AZ - I-8 and I-10 - 271 miles After leaving Yuma the relatively level highway crosses more arid country for 180 miles before it terminates at its intersection with Interstate 10 in Casa Grande, AZ. At that point we turned south on I-10 for sixty miles to the city of Tucson, AZ. Just north of the city a sign advises eastbound travelers to get into the two left lanes. It is a good idea to do this before the traffic gets too congested to make a lane change. Remain in the left two lanes until you have Tucson in your rear view mirror. The highway goes from level to gently rolling as it takes you to Benson, AZ. Just east of Tucson we stopped at the TTT Truck Stop to have lunch and visit with our friends, videographers John Holod and Jodie Ginter. They are in the process of finalizing our “RVing Alaska, What to Expect, How to Prepare” DVD. We hope it will be ready to go by March 1st. In Benson, we had dinner with our good friends Mike and Terri Church. They are the authors of the popular guide books, “Traveler’s Guide to Alaskan Camping”, “Traveler’s Guide to Mexican Camping”, “Traveler’s Guide to European Camping”, and “RV Adventures in the Northwest”. These folks work hard, work smart and are just fun to be around. We told Terri to pick a restaurant in Benson that was not too fancy. “No problem” she said “ there are no fancy restaurants in Benson”. We ate at Reb’s Café and Coffee Shop on 4th Street in Benson. Not fancy, but good food. That evening the temperatures were forecast to drop into the low 30’s. We hooked up to electricity and cable but left our water and sewer hoses in their storage bay. We use our propane furnace to warm the rig then we switch to a portable electric heater to keep the interior comfortable. Our enclosed water and sewer bay has two 40-watt light bulbs that we turn on to keep the interior of the bay warm. The next morning we hook up our water and sewer hoses just long enough to refill our water tank and dump our holding tank. We stayed at the Benson KOA. It offers easy pull-thru sites with 50-amp, water, sewer, cable and free, at-the-site wifi.
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Wednesday, January 2 – Travel Day 3

Benson, AZ to Van Horn, TX - I-10 - 390 miles I-10 is an easy drive as it climbs from Benson at an elevation of 3,576 feet to the crest of Texas Canyon at 4975 feet. After that, with the exception of a few brief hills, the highway is relatively level all the way to Van Horn, Texas. We experienced strong winds from the south that were also slightly against us. That night the temps dropped to 18 degrees. We fueled up at the Flying J Travel Plaza at Exit 0 in Anthony, Texas. Normally we average between 8 and 8.5 miles per gallon. The winds of the previous days had reduced our fuel consumption to 6.9 miles per gallon. The easiest way to drive through El Paso is to stay in the number 2 lane. We stayed at the Van Horn KOA. It offers easy pull-thru sites with 50-amp, water, sewer, cable and free, at-the-site wifi.
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Thursday, January 3 – Travel Day 4

Van Horn, Texas to Abilene, Texas - I-10 and I-20 - 327 miles Decision time. There are two interstate routes that we can take from Van Horn, Texas to Greensboro, North Carolina. We can continue east on I-10 through San Antonio, Houston, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Mobile. Then head north on I-65 to Atlanta where we would switch to I-85 and continue to Greensboro, NC. Or, just east of Van Horn, Texas, we can switch to I-20, a more northerly route that would take us through Fort Worth, Dallas, Shreveport, Birmingham and Atlanta where we would switch to I-85 to Greensboro. I-20 is a good highway, 120 miles shorter, and avoids the road construction mess on I-10 between Houston and Baton Rouge. I-10, however, is closer to the Gulf of Mexico and the weather can be milder during the winter months. The weather reports look good for us to take 1-20. This interstate crosses level, arid land all the way to Abilene. The winds were hard from the south but also a little behind us. So when we refueled at the Tye (Abilene), Texas Flying J Travel Plaza our mileage was boosted to 8.2 mpg. We stayed at the Abilene KOA. It offers easy pull-thru sites with 50-amp, water, sewer, cable and free, at-the-site wifi. That night we ate a very good steak at Sharon Allen’s (aka Sharon Riley’s) Steak House on South 11th Street and Judge Ely Blvd. (Click on photo to enlarge)

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Friday, January 4 – Travel Day 5

Abeline, Texas to Shreveport, LA - I-20 - 361 miles East of Abilene we entered gently rolling terrain with scrub oak and dry vegetation. Winds are lighter and slightly behind us. We stayed at the Shreveport KOA. It offers easy pull-thru sites with 50-amp, water, sewer, cable and free, at-the-site wifi. Going through Fort Worth and Dallas stay in lane 3 then, after crossing I-45, switch to lane 2. This will keep you in the correct lanes on I-20 for passage through these cities.
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Saturday, January 5 – Travel Day 6

Shreveport, LA to Meridian, MS - I-20 - 329 miles Louisiana, along I-20, is green and flat. Mississippi, along I-20, is not. Immediately after crossing the Mississippi River at the city of Vicksburg the terrain becomes hilly with forests and occasional farms. With the exception of their welcome centers, all the rest areas along I-20 in Louisiana are closed. Louisiana was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. Their highway department probably had to make some hard decisions as to where their financial resources could be spent. We experienced occasional light showers this morning and light winds in the afternoon. Daytime temperatures were unusually warm – 70 degrees! We stayed at the Meridian KOA. It offers easy pull-thru sites with 50-amp, water, sewer and a data port located in the laundry room that closes at 6:00 pm. We usually avoid the traffic of Shreveport by taking the I-220 Bypass. It is an easy, scenic highway. Today we took a chance on Saturday traffic being light through Shreveport and we remained on I-20. Traffic was light but we determined that if you are going to stay on I-20 through Shreveport be sure to stay in the number 1 and 2 lanes. We would also recommend staying in the number 1 and 2 lanes through the city of Monroe, LA.

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Sunday, January 6 – Travel Day 7

Meridian, MS to Anderson, SC- I-20 - 391 miles We crossed the state of Alabama today. The highway is fairly level and in outstanding condition. The scenery is farm and forest. All of Alabama’s beautiful rest areas, by the way, were open. Unfortunately, there are no rest areas on I-20 between Birmingham and the welcome center just across the Georgia border. One of the things I enjoy about the drive from El Centro, Ca to Atlanta, GA is that 95 percent of it is done in cruise control. It seems that if you want to get anywhere in the southeast you have to go through Atlanta, Georgia. Interstates 20, 85 and 75 all converge and cross through this city. I-285 is a loop, that completely surrounds Atlanta, so no matter which interstate you are on or want to change to, you can avoid driving through downtown Atlanta. Still, it is a busy, heavily trafficked road. Today is Sunday, the best day to drive through a big city. Traffic was lighter on I-285 than it would normally be on a weekday. We refueled at the Flying J at exit 19 in Temple, GA and stayed at the Anderson KOA. 50A, water, sewer and at-the-site wifi.
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Monday, January 7 – Travel Day 8

Anderson, SC to Charlotte, NC - I-20, I-485, I-77 - 138 miles Interstate 85 crosses rolling terrain between Atlanta, GA and Raleigh, NC. It is a commercial corridor. North and South Carolina have been successful in attracting a number of businesses to their states. Huge buildings with names like Mercedes Benz, BMW and Michelin line both sides of the highway. On top of that, I-85 is the most direct route from Atlanta, GA to the Mid-Atlantic area around Washington, DC and points north on I-95 along the Atlantic coast. Truck traffic, as a result, is extremely heavy along I-85. Just south of the city of Charlotte we jumped on the I-485 loop, transferred to southbound I-77 (not quite as busy as I-85) and got off at Exit 88 for the Charlotte KOA. This KOA has long, pull-thru sites with 50-amp, water, sewer, and at-the-site wifi. And our satellite TV antenna was able to make contact with the satellite. We will spend Tuesday and Wednesday here catching up on some household and business chores before moving to a city of Greensboro campground on Thursday. That will be home for the three days we present seminars at the Greensboro North Carolina RV Show. Vicki got her southern cooking fix at a Cracker Barrel restaurant (located off I-77 at Exit 90). Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, green-beans with bacon, and biscuits and gravy. Yummo! This is quite a departure from Vicki’s usual diet of chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables but every now and then she treats herself to the kind of food she was raised on. Check out Vicki’s book: “My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes”
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Thursday, January 10 - Travel Day 9

Charlotte, NC to Greensboro, NC - I-77, I-485, I-85, - 110 miles We reach our journey's destination, Greensboro, NC, today. For the next three days we will be presenting seminars at the North Carolina RV Show. The I-485 loop from I-77 to I-85 is a few miles longer but it takes you completely around the traffic of downtown Charlotte. North of Charlotte, I-85 crosses rolling countryside with farms, forests and towns. This area, especially around Greensboro is reported to be the fastest growing part of the United States. New housing developments are everywhere. Our home while we are in Greensboro will be the Hagan-Stone City Park Campground. It is located in an attractive wooded setting and offers long, level sites with 50-amp and water hookups and a dump station. After the Greensboro RV Show is over we will head for Tampa, FL where we will present seminars at the Florida RV Super Show.

Trip Summary: Our 2,644-mile journey from Huntington Beach, CA to Greensboro, NC took nine travel days averaging 294 miles a day. Our motorhome averaged about 7.8 miles per gallon and consumed about 330 gallons of fuel at an average of $3.63 per gallon for a total fuel cost of about $1,200.00. Ouch! The weather really cooperated. We experienced a few light showers, a few days of heavy winds and a couple of nights when the temperature dropped below freezing. In the past, during this journey, we have experienced heavy winds, rain storms, snow, ice and freezing temperatures.

Next: Our next destination is Tampa, FL where we will present seminars at the Florida RV Super Show. We will leave Greensboro immediately after our last seminar on Sunday. Two hours of driving will bring us back to the Charlotte KOA where we will spend the night. Monday, we will leave the KOA at 7:00 am and drive for about nine hours to cover the 540 miles to the KOA in Wildwood, FL (just south of Ocala). It has long, pull-thru sites, 50-amp, water, sewer and at-the-site wi-fi. We will take advantage of the full hookups to do laundry, and the laundry room to launder our flannel sheets. We will also eat hamburgers for dinner at the Steak and Shake next door to the KOA and buy a mixed bag of Indian River grapefruit and oranges from the fruit stand across the street. They are the best tasting, sweetest, juiciest citrus fruit we have ever eaten. This is the highlight of Vicki’s trip to Florida

Check out Vicki’s book: “My RV Kitchen and Favorite recipes”

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