Friday, August 6, 2010

Laundry and Lunch Stops


Dear Joe and Vicki: We're getting ready to retire and the idea of RV travel is very appealing. This may sound silly, but how often and where do RVers do their laundry while on the road?

Vicki: That's a valid question. You're not the first to ask. Would you believe, we've talked to people who minimize their laundry by taking their old, ready to throw away clothes with them on a trip. After they wear them, the clothes get tossed in the trash!

Here's what the rest of us do:

Take enough clothes for about a week or so and plan on doing laundry about once a week. If you're going to be gone less than a week, you won't have to worry about doing laundry at all.

Unless you're lucky enough to have a clothes hamper, a large, mesh laundry bag works well in an RV. The laundry bag can be stored in the shower or tub. When the bag gets full, you know it's time to do the laundry!

Just so you know, some of the larger RVs offer a built-in washer and dryer as optional equipment; a convenience worth considering if you plan on being on the road for extended periods of time.

You will find Laundromats everywhere, even in the smallest towns. Some even have showers. Many commercial Laundromats will do your laundry for you. There is a charge, but it just might be worth it to you. Drop off the clothes, go sightseeing, pick up the clean, folded clothes and you're on your way.

Most commercial RV parks have coin operated washers and dryers. Campground laundry rooms are not only convenient, they're great places to exchange travel information with other RVers who are doing their laundry.

If you're planning to use the laundry room in an RV park, you might want to check out the facilities before registering. You can go on to another campground if the facilities, equipment and cleanliness are inadequate.

Here are some tips for making laundry day easy while traveling:

Become a fanatic about saving quarters. Experienced RVers have found they can’t have enough quarters. 35mm film canisters make excellent containers for quarters (if you can still find them). Each canister will hold $7.00 worth.

Always have your own supply of laundry products. Don't depend on the vending machines that sell soap, etc. in laundry rooms. Sure as anything, just when you're trying to do laundry late in the evening or if you're in a hurry, the vending machine won't work.

Buy small or medium size containers of laundry supplies. Those large economy-size boxes and jugs are difficult to store and awkward to carry.

Use a detergent that works in cold water. Hot water may not be available.

Always, always check the inside of washers and dryers before using them. You never know what someone might have left in there.

It's always a good idea to clean the dryer's lint filter before using it. That will make a big difference in the time required for drying.

If you will be ironing clothes while traveling, you'll be happy to know that many of the
RV parks have started putting ironing boards in laundry rooms and they may even loan you an iron. You'll probably want to carry your own iron just in case.

Joe: Personally, I'm in favor of the throwaway clothes idea!

Enjoy the Journey!


Lunch Stops

Dear Joe and Vicki: When we only had brief vacations we got into the practice of being destination minded and traveling long distances every day. Now that we are retired we can't seem to break the habit. Our travel days are exhausting. How do other RVers get off the road?

Joe: Our motto is "Enjoy The Journey" One of the things we do to make our daily travels entertaining is to find an interesting place to have lunch.

The only prerequisites are that it have a reasonably level place to park our rig, and offers free or nominal admission. We typically plan on spending a couple of hours.

Here are samples of the places we have taken our lunch breaks.

Community parks or playgrounds make great places to stop for lunch if you are traveling with children. It gives the kids something to look forward to during the morning, they can work off their pent up energy and they learn how to meet other kids. Sometimes the combination of lunch and exercise will result in a nap (theirs, not yours).

Factory outlet malls seem to be located along every interstate highway throughout the country. They give Vicki something to look forward to, release our pent-up cash and definitely result in me taking a nap.

Vicki: The smokejumper base off I-90 in Missoula, Montana, offers tours conducted by Forest Service firefighting smokejumpers. After listening to their first-hand accounts of parachuting into forest fires I found myself walking away muttering, "and they love it!"

Bonneville Lock and Dam on I-84 east of Portland, Oregon has underwater windows that let you watch the salmon negotiating the fish ladders as they migrate upstream.

Natural Bridge north of Roanoke, Virginia on I-81 offers a pleasant stroll along Cedar Creek to a natural arch. The spot where George Washington, father of our nation, carved his initials in the limestone wall can still be seen. I guess this also makes him the father of our graffitti "artists."

Wall Drug Store in on I-90 in Wall, South Dakota has become a famous stop for tourists. You'll see their entertaining roadside signs for miles in every direction. In addition to gobs of parking space (including a sign requesting aircraft to park at the airport), Wall Drug offers food, western gear and lots of gifts and souvenirs. It's still a drug store, too.

Presidential Libraries make good lunch stops. There usually seems to be plenty of parking. But some are so interesting we found ourselves spending the better part of an afternoon viewing the exhibits.

Check out small town museums, old U.S. Army cavalry forts and Spanish missions. They're usually pretty quiet and provide insight into the history of our country.

Our favorite lunch stops are the places that offer factory tours. We have tasted wines in California, toured lumber mills in the northwest, watched them make steel and assemble automobiles in the midwest, toured textile mills in New England, visited cigarette factories in the south and sampled beer in St. Louis.

Try stopping for lunch at places that look like they may be interesting. Stop at a few that don't look interesting (you may be surprised). In any case, get off the road, look around and ...

Enjoy The Journey!

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