Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23 2009 Post

In This Post:

What's New With Us: Finding Replacement Parts
Itchy Wheels

Article: Meeting Other Campers


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"


Merry Christmas Everybody! Have A Happy and Healthy New Year!

What's New With Us

Finding replacement parts for older RVs can be a challenge; especially if the RV manufacturer has gone out of business. During our recent trip to New England, for example, it took the better part of a day for a truck repair facility to locate two ride-height control valves for our 1998 motorhome. The original valves were steel, the replacements are plastic but, so far, after 6,000 miles, they are doing the job.

Our motorhome’s cabinet-mounted microwave/convection oven died after ten years service. It was 20 inches wide and 19 inches deep. Finding a replacement microwave/convection oven that was small enough to fit into the cabinet opening and that had a cabinet mounting kit available was a real time-consuming adventure. I finally found one online. I installed it yesterday. It looks and works great.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when the roof vent fan in our bathroom stopped working. A screw hole in the plastic cover that holds the motor in place had cracked open and the motor was hanging from a couple of wires. I just knew that a replacement part for a ten year old vent fan would not be available. A new vent fan would cost $200 to $300 plus the bother of removing the old fan and installing a new one. I called the Fantastic Vent technical support department, described my problem and asked if they had a replacement part. The technician could not have been more helpful. “That should not have happened” he said, “I’ll send you a new, improved part that should do the job”. It arrived a few days later. Not only does Fantastic Vent build great products (built in America by American workers) they support their customers and stand behind their products. Check out their website:

We have a bad case of itchy wheels. And we have only been home for seven weeks. After Christmas we will cure the problem by firing up our motorhome and heading into the snow-free areas of Arizona. We will visit friends and generally bum around for a few weeks.

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Meeting Other Campers

Dear Joe and Vicki: We have just bought our first RV and are looking forward to camping in comfort. We enjoy meeting new people but don’t wish to intrude on their privacy. How does one go about meeting other RVers

Joe: I think you will find you have to work at not meeting them. Most RVers and campers are pretty gregarious. To meet RVers, Vicki and I recommend that you take two walks around the campground every day. The first walk should take place after most of the travelers have arrived but well before nightfall. You will be able to look at the various types of rigs that are on the road and inspect the ingenious outside camping gear and gadgets that RVers can come up with.

This walk also provides an opportunity to meet new people. Just observe the body language of the campers who are outside. Some will be sitting way to the rear of their campsite with their backs to the road. These folks are not particularly interested in socializing at the moment. Other campers will be sitting under their awning. They’ll be facing the road, hats on the back of their head and have a drink in their hand. Their dog will be wagging his tail. These folks are ready! A real giveaway is the guy who is sitting so close to the road he has to pull back his feet every time an RV passes by.

A sure fire conversation starter is “Hello.” Works every time. Follow that with an admiring word about their rig, dog or hat and you have just made a new friend. The most common questions in a campground are “Where are you from?” “Where are you going?” and “Where have you been?” Nobody cares what you do. It really isn’t all that important.

The second walk of each day should be taken after dark. RVers have a tendency to leave their blinds open for an hour or so after dinner. Now you have the opportunity to see how they have decorated the interior of their rig and to see if they have the good sense to drink your brand of bourbon. Both of these subjects make excellent conversation starters when you see them outside the next day.

Vicki: Many campgrounds and RV parks create opportunities for their guests to socialize. They conduct campfires with singing, story telling and other forms of entertainment. We’ve also seen quilting bees, exercise classes and craft fairs offered at RV parks and campgrounds.

The campground laundry room is one of my favorite places to meet RVers. If you are waiting for your clothes to wash or dry, you might as well start talking to the others who are waiting for their clothes.

This is an excellent way to find out what’s down the road. We have gotten some of our best camping and traveling information from people we’ve met in campground laundry rooms. There is a fifty-fifty chance that the people you are talking with have just come from the direction you are heading. They can tell you about road and traffic conditions, campgrounds, tourist attractions and good places to eat.

Speaking of places to eat. You will discover that a number of campgrounds offer morning coffee, doughnuts, breakfasts, barbecues and dinners right on their grounds. We have observed that many KOA campgrounds are offering their guests the opportunity to buy their morning or evening meal without the bother of leaving the campground. What better place to socialize with fellow campers than over a meal?

Start with “Hello.” You will discover that RVers are the nicest bunch of people in the world.

Enjoy The Journey!

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 5, 2009 Post

What’s New With Us: We’re Home!

Of Interest: Could This Happen To You?


We’re Home!

Greetings from Huntington Beach, CA We arrived home exactly two months after we left.
In our October 23rd post we were headed for Little Rock where we visited with friends for a few days. Then we took a hard look at the weather predictions to determine whether we would continue west on I-40 and cross the mountains around Flagstaff, Arizona or go around the mountains by heading southwest on I-30, I-20 and I-10. Even though it was only the 28th of October, snow had already fallen in the mountains. So our decision was made for us – take the south-west route. We drove through a heavy rainstorm in east Texas but, other than that, the weather cooperated all the way to Yuma, AZ

On the way, we had brunch with John Holod and Jodie Ginter in Tucson, AZ and dinner with Mike and Terry Church in Benson, AZ. We stayed four days with Joe and Joanne Annuzzio on their lot in Yuma and had lunch with Margie Maxwell while we were there.

It was a welcome 80 to 90 degrees in Yuma. It was also my first opportunity to really check out our new solar system. Until now, we had stayed in campgrounds with electric hookups or had campsites that were covered with trees. We dry-camped in my cousin’s horse pasture for five days while in New Hampshire. It was cold so I was able to measure how many amps our furnace fan consumed and I was able to measure how many amps our various 12-volt lights and appliances drew. But the days were o’cast and rainy so I had to use our generator to recharge the batteries.

And in Yuma (because someone insisted on connecting to electricity and turning on the air conditioner when temps soared above 90 degrees) the best I could do was rely on the inverter to make coffee one morning and watch the solar system recharge the batteries until noon. So far the numbers pretty much match what we had been told to expect.

Our motorhome has been in storage for four weeks now. Prior to installing the solar system I would disconnect the ground cables from the batteries while the RV was in storage. This eliminated the possibility of “phantom loads” discharging the batteries. But I always held my breath when I went to start the engine after the RV had been in storage for more than six weeks.

This time I was relying upon the solar system to keep the batteries charged. I left the cables connected. Yesterday I checked the condition of the batteries. The coach and chassis batteries were all at full charge and there had been no loss of electrolyte.

We’re planning on spending some time in the desert next month. A few days of self-contained camping should give me a pretty good idea of how well our solar system works.

As I said, we have been home for four weeks now. We have caught up on the things that needed tending. We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving Day with our kids and grandkids. We have been home four weeks and we are ready to hit the road again.

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Could This Happen To You?

For years now, Vicki and I have been telling our seminar audiences that we consider the RVing world a relatively low crime neighborhood. And, while we know bad things occasionally happen, we have also said that in 45 years of RVing, we have never known or talked first-hand to anyone who had ever felt personally threatened while traveling or camping in their RV.

Well, now we have heard, first-hand, from someone we know.

Our friends Nick and Terry Russell recently had a nightmare encounter of the worst kind.
Nick and Terry had taken their motorhome to an RV repair facility to have some maintenance and repair work done. Since the work was taking more than one day, Nick and Terry camped overnight in the repair facility’s complimentary camping area. On what would have been their third evening in the campground, they went out for dinner. Upon their return they came upon a burglar exiting their RV. The burglar was holding a gun. There was a physical encounter. Read what happened next in (Scroll down to the December 5, 2009 entry)

Coincidentally we wrote about security concerns in our RV Notebook Post on July 14, 2009.

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