Monday, April 6, 2009

April 6, 2009 Issue

In This Issue:

What’s New With Us: Interest in Alaska - Travel Plans - RV Service & Repair

Brief Article: Familiar Places

Vicki’s Favorite Recipe: Oven French Fries

What’s New With Us

Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s the article we wrote in the April issue of Highways magazine about RVing to Alaska, or maybe it’s a combination of both. But, judging by the way orders are pouring in for our Alaska DVDs and the RVing Alaska e-book, there are a lot of folks dreaming and scheming about RVing to Alaska. We definitely think that this trip should be on every RVer’s “bucket list” (things to do before you die).

Speaking of bucket lists; Vicki and I have just signed up for a 17-day bus tour of the British isles. We are not strangers to tour buses. We always try to take a bus tour of the big cities if it is our first visit. Bus tours go to the “must see” tourist spots, provide an introduction to the city and give us an idea of the places we might want to revisit on our own. These tours, however, have never been any longer than a single day and were always in conjunction with our staying in a local RV park.

The British isle tour will be our first guided bus tour. It will have us traveling in airplanes and buses, sleeping in hotels, eating at restaurants, living out of suitcases, and adhering to someone else’s itinerary. All of this with the same people all day, every day. I’m told this is the way civilized people travel.


We live in Huntington Beach, California. We tell people that Huntington Beach is just south of Los Angeles or just north of San Diego; depending upon whether or not we are trying to impress them. Anyway, there are a lot of RVs in this part of the state. I would guess the majority of them are motorhomes. That being the case, you would think it would be easy to find skilled, conscientious RV service technicians and mechanics to work on motorhomes in the Huntington Beach area. That has not been my experience.

Recently, I called Colton Truck Terminal in Colton, California to make what would be my first appointment to have some work done on my motorhome. It was a Tuesday. The helpful, responsive person who answered the phone said I could bring my RV in the next day.

Wednesday morning I was greeted by a service writer who was helpful, knowledgeable and super professional. From the way he spoke, it was obvious he was familiar with the make and model of my motorhome. Wow! At ten years of age and with 200,000 miles on the odometer, I had a long list of things I wanted checked, serviced and adjusted on the chassis and drive train. The service writer, understanding that I intend to add another 200,000 miles, also had a few helpful suggestions.

Friday morning I received a call informing me my motorhome was ready to be picked up. And it was! All the services I had requested were completed. They presented me with an itemized bill that detailed everything that had been done. The charges for labor, parts, fluids and filters were reasonable. The bill also included the observations of the mechanic who had performed the work (he even checked a few things I had not thought of). Wow! And, the interior of the motorhome around the engine compartment was clean. Again, wow!

So, what’s the big deal about my story? I have been to any number of repair facilities across the country and received roughly the same treatment I received from Colton Truck Terminal. The big deal is that Colton Truck Terminal is 60 miles and almost 1-1/2 hours of congested interstate driving from Huntington Beach. And I had to drive that far to find a repair and service facility with the knowledge and capability to handle my motorhome. But, until I find someone closer and better, I’ll take my RV there again.


Article: Familiar Places

Dear Joe and Vicki: Don't you miss the comfort of familiar surroundings when you're away from home?

Joe: Until you asked the question, we thought the reason we traveled was to escape our familiar surroundings. We thoroughly enjoy discovering and exploring new places and getting acquainted with new people. But, now that we think about it, we do find ourselves gravitating to the comfort of familiar surroundings all over the country.

Vicki: The nationwide chains and franchises have allowed the entire United States to become our neighborhood. We know, for example, that the quality and type of facilities in KOAs located all over the North American continent is pretty consistent. We can count on finding fuel islands reserved for RVers at Flying J Travel Plazas along most interstate highways and we know that the nationwide Camping World stores can repair or service our rig.

It's an unusual mall that doesn't have a Sears, Radio Shack and a Hallmark shop. Super markets with names like Kroger, Safeway, Fred Meyer, Wegman's, Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Martins offer me familiar comfort when grocery shopping. And we find Wal-Mart and K-Mart stores just about everywhere we go.

Joe: We go to Kinko's and Staples for office supplies and business services; Home Depot and Ace for hardware items; Napa and Kragen for auto parts.

My favorite neighborhood places have names like McDonald's, Cracker Barrel and Lone Star Steak House. And when I'm in the mood for international cuisine we look for Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and International House of Pancakes.

Vicki: So, you see, we are never very far from the comfort of familiar surroundings but we still enjoy discovering roadside produce stands, exploring neighborhood grocery stores and browsing through mom and pop retail shops. They just seem to add to the adventure of being an RVer.

Recipe (From “My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes")

Oven French Fries

These French fries make a great last-minute side dish. I always have the ingredients available in the pantry.

3-4 medium potatoes, unpeeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Preheat oven to 475°.

2. Scrub and vertically slice potatoes into 1/4" to 1/2" strips.

3. In a large bowl, thoroughly coat the potatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

4. Spread the potatoes on a nonstick cookie sheet.

5. Bake at 475° for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn potatoes and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until tender and browned.

Makes 2-3 servings.

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