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You know if you’re a “dog person” or not. So do dogs, usually. They’re often as interested in having you pet them as you are in doing it.

But it’s one thing to know a dog you like a lot, another to have a dog in your stationary home full-time, and still quite another to hit the road with Rover—full-time or even for just a few weeks at a time.

Is traveling with a dog a bad thing? Far from it—especially if you’re otherwise traveling alone. More than 60 percent of RVers take a dog along, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. Dogs are great company, and they’re loyal, loving creatures. And they definitely increase your security. But don’t fool yourself: Dogs are a big responsibility for any RVer.

Before you go RVing with a dog, answer some questions.

If you haven’t had a dog:

  1. Do you like dogs enough to have one with you 24/7? To feed it, pet it, groom it?
  2. Can you afford a dog? Even on the road, dogs need vet examinations, shots, maybe routine medicine, and healthy food, not table scraps. It’s not unusual for a dog to cost $100 a month or more. Over its lifetime, Money magazine reported, a dog will cost about $14,500 to almost $16,000. That would pay for a lot of RV repairs.
  3. Are you willing to train your dog or have it trained? An unruly dog can be a legal and social liability.
  4. Can you tolerate the messiness of a dog—the fur it sheds, the unpleasant odor of a dog in need of a bath (ah, thank goodness for the otdoor shower!), the slobber, and the teething (and chewing) that a puppy goes through?
  5. Are you willing to exercise a dog daily? Many dogs need exercise more than once a day. Are you willing to play with it? You may have to take extra time on fueling and provision stops to walk the dog—although the walk will do you good, too.
  6. Are you willing to make the effort to find dog-friendly RV parks, some of which charge an extra fee for dogs?
  7. Are you willing to kennel your dog or pay for and allow a dog sitter into your RV if you plan to travel without your pet—say, to visit friends or go tent camping for several days? (You can install a keypad security system that accepts a temporary visitor password.)

If You Already Have an RV:

  1. Do the RV parks you’re accustomed to using allow dogs and have facilities for dog play?
  2. Is your RV accessible to dogs? Could a small dog get up the steps? Could a big dog fit comfortably through the doorways?
  3. If your RV is a trailer, are you willing to have your dog ride with you in your tow vehicle, properly restrained? After all, dogs are as unsafe in a moving trailer and a moving vehicle as a person would be.
  4. Do you have means to keep your RV cool if you’re not there? You must have or add a rain-hooded exhaust fan with a thermostat and opening windows to maintain the temperature at or below 76 degrees.
  5. Does your RV have room for your dog to be comfortable under all conditions, even if you can’t open the slide-outs when you’re parked overnight? RVing with a dog may require you to compromise on the size of dog you buy.
  6. If you don’t allow a dog to use furniture, is there enough floor space for him to rest comfortably on a dog bed or blanket and for you not to think he’s in the way? Does it have room for water and food bowls?

One Last Question

  1. Are you willing to take and give unconditional love? Dogs give it. You should return the favor.

Photo Credits: Andre Boeni (flickr.com)

Now, there really was no excuse for Lucille Ball and the Italian grape stomper to get into a fight in the grape vat on “I Love Lucy.” But, hey, stuff happens—especially with Lucy.

In Northern Georgia, starting in late summer and continuing into the fall, you can get in on the act, all while enjoying your RV at Crossing Creeks RV Resort and Spa. Crossing Creeks is a Blairsville neighbor of one grape stomp, 45 minutes from another and about an hour from two more. If you don’t get out there and enjoy the grape harvest and the grape-crush ritual, as Ricky Ricardo would have said, “You got some ’splainin’ to do.”

Yonah Mountain Vineyards Crush Fest

This year’s event, on Saturday, Aug. 24, is the 10th annual Yonah Mountain Vineyards Crush Fest. About 5,000 people turn out to hear local bands, sample the vineyards’ wine, dine on fare from select food trucks, and, of course, stomp grapes.  

The grape crushing at Yonah Mountain adds a personal touch: Owners Bob and Jane Miller serenade grape stompers with their own accordion and guitar music at 12:30, 2:30, 4:30, and 6:30 p.m. Live music is performed from 11 a.m., alternating every half-hour between the Atlanta Pipe Band and the Atlanta Pro Drumline.

Yonah Mountain Vineyards is near Cleveland, Georgia, about an hour’s drive from Crossing Creeks.

  • Event: Yonah Mountain Vineyards Crush Fest
  • Location: 1717 Hwy 255 S, Cleveland, GA
  • Date: Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019
  • Times: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Admission: Free, age 16 and under; $25, age 17 and older without wine tasting; $40, includes souvenir glass, tasting of four 3-oz. wine samples (age 21 and older); $35, Yonah Wine Club members. Tickets at the gate.

Paradise Hills Grape Stomp Fest

Just an 8-mile drive from Crossing Creeks, outside Blairsville, is the 6th annual Grape Stomp Fest at Paradise Hills Winery Resort. Paradise Hills not only celebrates the harvest and crush, but also goes all-in on Lucy lore. Every year, a contest matches costumed Lucy imitators against one another. The “I Love Lucy Look Alike Contest” runs twice during the day, at 2 and 4 p.m. Best costume wins wine.

There’s much more to the day than the crush. Live music plays all day. Available for purchase are crafts (including a kids’ corner), wine, craft beer and local barbeque.

  • Event: Paradise Hills Grape Stomp Fest
  • Location: 366 Paradise Road, Blairsville, GA 30512
  • Date: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019
  • Times: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Entry times: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. or 3-6 p.m.
  • Admission: Tickets: $15, under age 21, includes one non-alcoholic drink; $25, age 21 and over, includes souvenir glass and tasting, or one wine or craft beer.

Kaya Vineyard & Winery Spirit of Harvest Festival

How much do you know about wine? Trivia is part of the entertainment at the Kaya Vineyard & Winery Spirit of Harvest Festival in Dahlonega. The 2019 crush is on Saturday, Aug. 31, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The winery is about a 45-minute drive from Crossing Creeks.

Attendees will have the opportunity to observe or participate in the crush, and to hear discussions of winemaking at the crush pad. Live bluegrass and folk music will play throughout the event. A Kaya trivia contest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. places the names of players who answer all questions correctly into a drawing. The prize: a Kaya wine tasting for two.  

A raffle benefits the Georgia Veterans Day Association. The drawing is at 3:30 p.m.

Food and beverages are available for purchase. Admission without wine tasting is free, although non-ticket holders must pay $5 for parking.

  • Event: Kaya Vineyard & Winery Spirit of Harvest Festival
  • Location: 5400 Town Creek Road, Dahlonega, GA
  • Date: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019
  • Time: 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.
  • Admission: Free without tasting, but $5 for parking; tickets: $25, includes a souvenir glass, 5 tasting tickets, grape stomping, presentation on harvest season. 

Stonewall Creek Harvest Stomp

Will you always remember that first crush? Well, maybe as long as your souvenir T-shirt from the Harvest Stomp at the Stonewall Creek Vineyards does. The festival near Tiger, Georgia, comes with a twist: After you stomp grapes, you can deliver red footprints on a T-shirt and take it home.  This year’s stomp is Saturday, Sept. 28, from noon until 5 p.m.

Live music plays throughout the day, and barbeque is available for purchase. If you don’t want to buy food, bring your own picnic lunch. Paid admission includes not only the tee, but also a wine goblet, a tasting of four wines and a wine cocktail. Reservations are recommended to ensure that you get a T-shirt.

Stonewall Creek is just over an hour’s drive from Crossing Creeks, on a scenic route that takes you past Lake Hiawassee on U.S. 76.

  • Event: Stonewall Creek Harvest Stomp
  • Location: 323 Standing Deer Lane, Tiger, GA
  • Date: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019
  • Times: Noon to 5 p.m.
  • Admission: Tickets: $35, adults, includes goblet, tee shirt, four wine tastings, wine cocktail; $10, children. To reserve T-shirt: www.eventbrite.com or phone 706-212-0584.
Wednesday, 03 July 2019 18:49

Finding Free and Cheap Overnight RV Parking

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RVers are always looking for free overnight parking to save a few bucks. There are thousands of options, but you’ll have to do some homework to find them.

Always ask permission at any location. Sometimes chain restaurants are owned by franchisees who set their own policies. And sometimes a local ordinance bars a store from living up to what is normally a chain policy to allow RV parking overnight.

Whenever you park overnight, be courteous, quiet and clean. Quiet means no generators, no parties and no music. Take as little space as possible—no awnings, pop-outs or barbecue grills. Park where you’re supposed to. And no dumping tanks (do we even need to say this?) or leaving trash behind. Avoid using jacks, which could damage parking lot surfaces.

Here are some tips.

Truck Stops

Can you park overnight at a truck stop? Usually.

Should you? That’s a decision you have to make.

Flying J, Travel Centers of America and Love’s typically allow RV overnight parking. The simple truth, however, is that truckers don’t like having to deal with RVs taking spaces they believe are theirs. In fairness, they’re trying to make a living, and in most cases, you’re trying to take a vacation. Priorities, if you know what we mean.

At a truck stop, you may have to deal with idling diesels, especially in winter. If the stories are to be believed, you also may get parked in by truckers upset with your presence.

Use your head. First, ask at the counter if you’re welcome and where you should park. You may be directed to the truck area, an RV area or car spaces. Forgo facilities such as the showers that are intended only for professional drivers.

Return the favor: Buy your fuel there if you overnight and supplies you may need, and use the restaurant if you need breakfast before hitting the road.

Business Parking Lots

Quite a few businesses allow RVs overnight. Among them are Camping World, which caters to RVers, and Walmart/Sam’s Clubs, which will be glad to sell you whatever you need for your journey. Some restaurant chains that target travelers, such as Cracker Barrel, also allow RVs overnight.

Casinos with huge lots typically say yes to RVs. They get RVers all the time, and casinos are always glad to take your money (and usually do). Casinos have proliferated, so find out about one you may be planning to visit or merely park at.

Some sports stadiums allow parking when there’s no game, but they may charge a fee and they may not allow overnight stays. Visit their websites or call to find out.

Again, if you are allowed to stay overnight, return the kindness by patronizing the establishment. If the only gambling you do is driving on less than a quarter tank of fuel, consider dining at a casino. They’re open 24 hours; the food is usually pretty good and, for the amount a buffet offers, inexpensive.

Parks

RV overnight policies vary by locale, and by state. You may be able to find RV-friendly parks online by checking municipal rules for various locations along the route you map, and by visiting the municipality’s website.

State parks may charge a fee, but some have facilities for dumping tanks or topping up with water.   

Rest Stops

This varies by state, and usually by highway within the state. In Ohio, for instance, RV overnighting is allowed at stops on the turnpike but not at stops along other highways.

At rest stops, you’ll be parking just for the sleep and the toilets. Some, however, do have facilities for emptying tanks, and for refilling your water tank.

Good Resources

Consider these two books. They’re previewed on Amazon. The Wright guide is especially helpful in finding cheap or free overnight camping or parking. Both list seasons and hours of operation, approximate fees, pull-through availability, amenities and the number of sites that include them, directions, phone, website and reservation details.

“The Wright Guide to Free and Low-Cost Campgrounds” by Don and Joyce Wright. $25-$35. Listed state by state are campgrounds that cost less than $20 per night $12 or less in earlier editions). The guide includes regulations for overnighting at rest stops. The book is updated periodically.

“RV Camping in Corps of Engineers Parks,” Roundabout Publications. $15-$20. Only campgrounds that accept RVs are listed, and there are more than 600 in 34 states, many with lakes. Camp prices vary, but many are inexpensive.

Overnightrvparking.com. For $24.95 a year, you can consult this site, which says it lists 14,144 free overnighty parking locations for RVs.

There’s a lot to like about the 2019 Georgia Mountain Moonshine Cruiz-In, July 11-13 at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, especially if the burble of a Detroit V8 is your idea of an unmatched musical treat. If country music is your preference—how do Pam Tillis, Neal McCoy, Ricky Skaggs and B.J. Thomas sound?— head back to the fairgrounds July 19-27 for the Georgia Mountain Fair.

The fairgrounds are in Hiawassee, a mere 18 miles from Crossing Creeks RV Resort & Spa, so you can stay at Crossing Creeks and venture over to the fairgrounds along Lake Chatuge for one or more days of the festivities.

Cruiz-In Has Moonshine Roots

Illegal moonshining is the inspiration for the Cruiz-In. When liquor dripped from stills tucked away among the mountains, men with hot cars and trunks full of illicit spirits did their best to outrun the law and make their deliveries. Those runs were the progenitors of stock car racing in the South. Who among those outlaws would have guessed that their lights-out midnight drives would generate a sport that’s become a national obsession?

The Cruiz-In will commemorate those runs with a much tamer parade of horsepower. The sounds of engines from cars entered in the show will reverberate off the hills of northeast Georgia as owners drive their candy-colored creations over 60 miles of rural roads.

Have a hot rod, street rod, rat rod, bike or other custom vehicle? You can have it pictured in color on an 11x17-inch poster with the Cruiz-In logo for $20 or on an 18x24-inch poster for $30. Posters can be ordered Friday and Saturday for delivery by mail.

And there’s a real still at work on the fairgrounds.

On July 13, three 1960s rock and pop bands will perform: the Grass Roots (“Midnight Confessions”), The Association (“Along Comes Mary”) and the Box Tops (“The Letter”).

For details see the Cruiz-In website or Facebook.

Georgia Mountain Fair

Here’s an old-fashioned country fair, mountain-style.

The Georgia Mountain Fair features everything you’d expect at a proper country celebration: arts and crafts, food, a cooking contest, a Miss Georgia Mountain Fair competition, a flower show, and, of course, lots of music.

In addition to local acts, including the Georgia Mountain Fair Band, there will be well-known chart toppers, all playing two shows: 2 and 8 p.m. Tillis will headline the musical entertainment on opening day, Friday, July 19. Neal McCoy will play Saturday, July 20. The Booth Brothers will add Gospel on Monday, July 22. Skaggs will be the feature act on Tuesday, July 23. The Spinners will take the stage Wednesday, July 24. Thomas will perform on Friday, July 26. T. Graham Brown will close out the fair on Saturday, July 27.

No Georgia fair is worth an over-ripe peach without a bluegrass day, which is Thursday, July 25, at the Georgia Mountain Fair, with Del McCoury, Mike Snider and Jeff Parker. Gospel music day is Sunday, July 21, with the McKameys, Primitives and Inspirations.

The fair offers a chance to learn a few things, too. You can visit the still, tour the old-time Pioneer Village, and take in “Old Ways Demonstrations,” where the experienced show how to make shakes (wood, not ice cream), squeeze cider, mill corn and perform other country skills.

Fair rides, which require a wristband for admission, run daily.

See the fair website for times and admission costs. Parking is free. Pets are not allowed.

Photo Credits: Facebook

Friday, 03 May 2019 18:33

RVing Saves Vacationers Money, Study Shows

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If you wanted to, you could stuff a lot of money into a camper. And if you’re wondering where the money would come from, it’s from the savings you experience by using a camper instead of other forms of vacation travel. Seriously. More American families are buying and using recreational vehicles for vacations, and the savings are a big reason. A major study shows that even when factoring in expenditures for the RV, including fuel and maintenance, vacations are cheaper when families go RV camping than when they use hotels and restaurants.

It all depends on the type of RV being purchased and used, but the study by CBRE Hotels Advisory Group, done in 2018, indicates savings can hit as much as 64 percent for a family of four hitting the road with a foldout camper, and more than 50 percent for two people. Even on the lower end of savings, researchers discovered, owners of a Type C motorhome could save 21 percent for a family of four and 8 percent for a couple.

Two groups, Go RVing and the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, financed the study. Go RVing represents RV manufacturers, RV dealers and campgrounds that work to grow RV camping. The RVIA is a trade group representing RV manufacturers and parts makers.

Income-Appropriate Comparisons

CBRE, to avoid skewing the results, compared the use of different RV types to a range of alternatives. CBRE didn’t just compare vacationing in a folding camper trailer to flying and staying in a five-star hotel. The savings would have been obvious and unrealistic. Researchers did compare the costs of buying and using a luxurious Class A motorhome to flying first class, renting a premium car, staying in upscale hotels/resorts, and eating meals in restaurants.

Other modes of travel measured were:

  • Folding camping trailer.
  • Lightweight travel trailer.
  • Compact motorhome (not specified, but probably Class B and/or pickup campers).
  • Class C motorhome.
  • Traveling in a personal car, staying at hotels/motels, and eating meals in restaurants.
  • Traveling by airline, renting a car at the destination, staying at hotels/motels, and eating in restaurants.
  • Traveling by personal car or airline, staying at a rental house/condominium, and eating most meals in the rental.

In addition to gauging the cost for two adults/two children, and two adults alone, CBRE researchers measured costs for vacations lasting three, seven and 14 days.

Calculated Savings

CBRE researchers left little to chance. Among the other factors they considered were such ownership costs as insurance, average ownership periods, and annual days of RV use, and even residual value.

Here’s how vacation cost savings added up for a family of four, by RV type:

  • Folding camping trailer: 50-64%
  • Lightweight travel trailer: 31-50%
  • Compact motorhome: 31-50%
  • Type C motorhome: 21-43%
  • Type A motorhome – 41%

Here’s the vacation costs savings for a couple, by RV type:

  • Folding camping trailer: 43-53%
  • Lightweight travel trailer: 20-34%
  • Compact motorhome: 20-34%
  • Type C motorhome: 8-24%
  • Type A motorhome: 19%

Fuel Price Fluctuations

You’re probably thinking, “Ah, but fuel prices were low, so the savings could evaporate quickly when prices rise—and they’re rising now.”

It would take an exponential increase in fuel prices to erase all the cost savings, research indicates. Fuel prices would have to soar to $13 a gallon for RVing to cost more than other vacation forms, according to the study.

When fuel prices rise considerably, RVers have ways of cutting expenses rather than eliminating their RVs, the RVIA says: They drive fewer miles with their RVs by vacationing closer to home and staying longer at one location. What they don’t do is abandon RVing, the RVIA says.

The research did not include figures on the return on investment of adding a vault to an RV interior. Maybe next time.

Thursday, 28 March 2019 19:54

American Campers get Younger, More Ethnically Diverse

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More Americans went camping last year, even with many traditional campers giving up on the lifestyle, probably due to advancing age. Campers are getting younger—maybe younger than ever—and coming from more diverse ethnic backgrounds.

The question: Will newer, younger campers embrace RVing as their parents and grandparents did? So far that appears to be happening.

Figures reported by Cairn Consulting Group in the 2018 North American Camping Report, the fourth such survey conducted for Kampgrounds of America, show that between 2014 and 2017, the number of U.S. households that camp a least once a year increased by more than 20 percent. Many campers, especially new and first-time ethnic minority campers, said they intended to camp more often last year, the report shows.

As of 2017, the number of U.S. households that camped at least once a year numbered 38,558,000, up nearly 3.9 percent from the year before. Between 2014 and 2017, the researchers found, the number of households that camped three or more times per year increased 64 percent, from 11 million to 18 million.

Bouncing Back from the Great Recession

The Great Recession in 2009 and 2010 had lingering effects on American camping, as it did on many segments of the economy that involved discretionary spending. Researchers at Statista.com found that the number of American campers increased about 3.1 percent between 2012 and 2017, but that the total number of campers was lower in 2017 than for each year between 2008 and 2011.

Increasingly, Americans who do camp are using their own RVs. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association reports that manufacturers shipped about 483,700 RVs in 2018. That was a 4.1 percent decrease from 2017, but remember this: 2017 RV shipments were an all-time high, at about 504,600 units. The 2018 figures were still 12.3 percent higher than in 2016.

In 2016, the RVIA said, more than 9 million American households had an RV, the most ever. With sales increasing since then, and more first-time campers, that figure is likely higher in 2019. It’s dramatically improved over recession-level RV shipments, which totaled a mere 165,700 in 2009.

New Faces of Camping

The camping experience on all levels is spreading through the American population as never before, the 2018 North American Camping Report shows:

More young campers: Gen Xers, who make up 27 percent of the population, according to the Census, comprise 36 percent of campers. Millennials, a generation that has shown interest in the environment and physical activity, echo Gen Xers’ involvement. Although Millennials comprise 31 percent of the general population, they make up a larger share of campers—40 percent, the largest group by age. Baby Boomers, who made up 28 percent of campers in 2015, are down to 19 percent. Mature campers—that is, seniors—are down to 5 percent, less than half their share of the general population.

More minorities: More people from ethnic minorities are getting into camping. African Americans, once less enthusiastic about camping, are now participating in numbers more nearly proportionate to their makeup in the general population. Among new U.S. campers in 2017, Statista reports, 14 percent were African American, 17 percent were Latino and 17 percent were Asian/Pacific Islanders. Among all U.S. campers in 2017, whites made up 72 percent; African Americans, 8 percent; Latinos, 10 percent; and Asians/Pacific Islanders, 7 percent.

More children: More children are camping because two parent-age groups, Millennials and Gen Xers, together make up three-quarters of all U.S. campers, and many have children, Cairn researchers found. Just over half of all camping families have children who participate.

More RVs: Buyers 35 to 54 years old are the largest segment of RV owners, according to the 2011 University of Michigan study of RV consumers commissioned by the RV Industry Association. Leading-edge Millennials are fast approaching that age group. Historically, senior campers have been the strongest segment for RV ownership, an age group that baby Boomers are beginning to reach. That makes it likely RV sales will continue to rise.

Tuesday, 02 April 2019 18:54

National Parks and RVs

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Can you take your RV into a national park and use it to camp?

Yes, you can. And no, you can’t.

Confused? You might be, because every national park and national monument has its own set of rules for RV camping. The rules differ because every park differs.

If you want to take your RV into a park, whether it’s a trailer or a motorhome, the National Park Service cautions that you must check out the rules for the specific park you plan to visit well in advance. You have to make a park campsite reservation well in advance, too, because space is limited—in more ways than one.

Some RVs Welcome at Some Parks

Here’s what the National Park Service says about RV camping at national parks and monuments: “RV and towed campers are more than welcome at national parks that can accommodate them.” Note the boldface italics, added for emphasis. The simple facts are that some parks can handle RVs, some parks can’t, and some can handle RVs only if they’re within size limitations or a certain type.

“RV and towed camper sites vary from park to park (i.e., pull-through campsites, back-in campsites), and there could be space issues with slide-outs,” the park service advises.

The need for reservations is quite simple. Campsites for RVs, where they are available, are few in number compared with demand.

Parking Your RV, Not Camping in It

At some national parks—there’s that phrase again—RVers can park if they don’t drive into the park. Some have spaces even if RVs can be driven into the park or monument but not camped. But not every park has RV parking spaces, which typically are where buses also are parked.

The park service makes finding RV parking rules for each park convenient online.

Even when spaces are available, they aren’t always adequate for the number of RV-driving visitors. The parks are perennially popular. At Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana, for instance, the park service makes a creative suggestion to RV drivers who can’t find a space during the peak months of June and July—that they “drive out on the 5-mile driving tour road to the Reno-Benteen Battlefield and Entrenchment trail.”

Why? “Upon returning,” the service says, “there should be parking available.”

Simple enough.

Few Parks Have Hookups

RV hookups are rare at national parks. Where RV campsites are available, expect to boondock. After all, the parks are natural wonders. Preservation and RV hookups don’t exactly go hand-in-hand.

The website Tripsavvy.com does list three national parks with RV hookups:

  • Yellowstone National Park, Fishing Bridge Campground only, 340 sites with 50-amp electrical, water, sewer.
  • Grand Teton National Park, Colter Bay RV Park, 112 sites with water, sewer and electric; Headwaters Campground, an unspecified number of sites with 20- and 50-amp electric, sewer and water.
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Trailer Village, sites with 30- and 50-amp electrical, water, sewer, cable; RVs up to 50 feet in length.

Private Alternatives

National parks are tourist magnets. That means there are many nearby RV facilities, some with full service, some without. Look online; it’s not hard to find a privately owned RV park to suit your needs.

We added the italics because that phrase is key to understanding whether or not you can.

Always check with the park you are visiting for size restrictions and the number of sites that can accommodate RVs and towed campers.

Photo Credits: National Park Service

Thursday, 07 March 2019 19:52

On the Set: Movie and TV Productions in Georgia

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The “Walking Dead” TV show, all of Tyler Perry’s productions, the next Avengers movie and a reboot of the classic American TV soap opera “Dynasty” all have something in common: They are filmed either partly or entirely in Georgia.

You’d be amazed at how many productions are created in the Peach State—enough that you’d have a hard time missing the final product on your TV screen or in a movie theater. Since 2016, more feature films have been made in Georgia than in California, so move over, Hollywood.

Take a look at a list of scheduled releases filmed in Georgia. And that list grows continually.

Why Film in Georgia?

For one thing, the state encourages the production of TV shows and movies. It does so pretty much the same way other industries are encouraged all around the country: through tax incentives.

Film and Video producers can save money by producing in Georgia. They pay no sales and use tax. They get a 20 percent income tax credit on up to $500,000 in expenses, and another 10 percent if they use the Georgia Entertainment promotional logo onscreen toward the end of their film. Within their first decade, the claimed credits increased about 50 times the original claims in 2005. That means a lot of companies are producing here, and they’re spending considerable amounts of money in the state.

Where Filmmakers Work in Georgia

Georgia is attractive as a production destination because, quite simply, it has the looks—a great deal of diversity in its readymade scenery—and a temperate climate. Atlanta alone offers skyscrapers, historical buildings and a variety of neighborhood types for street scenes, from upscale to less than savory. (Just about any major city does.) There’s an industrial side, railroads, bridges, sports arenas, parks—you name it.

Nature didn’t short Georgia with interesting places. It has mountains, a coastline, a countryside, farms, rivers and whitewater. It also has a wealth of small towns, picturesque college campuses and some old cemeteries that are downright eerie.

Production centers in Atlanta, but there’s also a good deal of activity in Norcross, as well as in other locations.

Studios in Georgia

Turner Studios, part of TimeWarner, has been in Atlanta since its inception. It has produced both TV programs and movies in Atlanta. Perhaps its highest profile TV property is CNN, the 24-hour cable news network. Turner also owns truTV, TNT, Turner Cassic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and other properties.

EUE/Screen Gems has renovated and expanded buildings at the Lakewood Fairgrounds in Atlanta under a 50-year lease with the city, signed in 2010. Added was a 37,500-square-foot soundstage. Feature films, TV shows and commercials are recorded at the facility.

Tyler Perry Studios was founded by the actor/writer/director in 2006 in Atlanta. Perry films all of his movies there, including those in the highly successful Madea comedy franchise. Part of the “Walking Dead” TV episodes are filmed there, too.

Marvel Studios, a spinoff of the famed comic books, also films in Georgia. Among its Georgia-shot films are “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Ant Man and the Wasp” and the megahit “Black Panther.”

Other filmmakers find Georgia just peachy, too. Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood, whose film-acting career took off when he acted in Italian and Spanish Westerns, has filmed several movies in Georgia. Among them are “Tully,” “American Sniper,” “Trouble with the Curve” and “The Mule.”

Seeing Where Movies Are Made

If you want to get closer to Georgia movie productions, you can actually take tours of locations where films and TV shows have been made.

For example, you can visit sites where the zombies have tread while making the wildly popular “Walking Dead” TV series. If you’re a fan of the show you’re bound to recognize some of the places. There are scads of other sites that have appeared on film and the small screen—the minor league ballpark from “42,” about Jackie Robinson; President Snow’s mansion from the “Hunger Games” films; and the Blue Ridge TreeHouse, built by The TreeHouse Guys for an upcoming series—and available for overnight stays.

You can also tour studios, just as visitors do in Hollywood, but with Southern hospitality thrown in. The link lists studio hours and contacts.

Want To Appear in a Movie?

If you’d like to actually be in a production—maybe as a passenger at an airport, a sporting event spectator, a body in a morgue, or a zombie—click here and we’ll tell you how to go about it.

Image Credits: Steadicam

Thursday, 07 March 2019 19:40

So, You Want To Be in a Georgia-Filmed Movie

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The Crossing Creeks RV Resort & Spa blog isn’t likely to make you a star, even though we do our best to treat you like one. But we can help you go about trying to land a part as an extra in one of the many productions that are filmed in Georgia.

Opportunities to appear on film or the small screen are more plentiful than you might know, with Atlanta being the Hollywood of the Southeast. Or maybe we should say that Hollywood is the Atlanta of the West Coast, since more films are shot in Georgia than in California the past three years.

Don’t get us wrong: There’s always a ton of competition for movie parts, even for non-speaking roles in the background of movie scenes. Getting into a movie in a nonspeaking role isn’t a cinch, but it’s not impossible, by any means.

What Roles Do Extras Play?

Film extras are needed to play many types of roles.

You don’t need to have movie star looks to get a role as an extra. You don’t even need a movie star smile. Sometimes it helps, but the fact is that all types of people are needed as extras, depending on the part. Sometimes your serious look is all you’ll be asked to show.

Old people, young adults, male or female, children, skinny or rotund, buttoned-down or right off the Harley, fit or totally out of shape, babies—all are likely to be in need from time to time, depending on the film. Extras may be needed to fill a ballpark, a lobby, an airport terminal or a crowded street.

Online recently, for example, was a call for extras to play downtrodden street people in the cop buddy film “Bad Boys For Life,” now in production, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Looking perfect didn’t appear to be a priority. The “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” sequel starring The Rock was looking for college students and “upscale types.”

Sometimes there are certain conditions for extras. For example, when Clint Eastwood was in Georgia filming his movie “The Mule,” about a 90-year-old veteran who became a drug runner for a Mexican cartel, he sought real veterans for a party scene inside a VFW post. The extras had to have their own cars. And the cars had to be certain colors. White, red or custom-color cars disqualified you. Hey, you never know when they’ll want an RV with a dent exactly where there’s damage on your Class C.

You May Get Paid, But You Won’t Retire on It

Extras—also referred to as Background people, or BG—in Atlanta typically are paid about $8 to $9 an hour. That would include the time you spend waiting, listening to direction—likely in a group—and acting. Sometimes film companies will pay extras by the 8-hour day, but it still comes out to about the same hourly pay. If you run into overtime, you’re paid for those hours at time-and-a-half. Plan on a 12-hour day, typical on the set.

If somehow you end up in a speaking part—not likely if you have no experience or training—pay may go to $500 a day or more.

How To Apply

Advertisements for actors are referred to as casting calls. They are advertised online. You can find casting calls by doing a search such as casting calls Atlanta, movie rolls Atlanta or casting calls Georgia. Some of the national sites have an option to search for casting calls close to where you live, but they also have listings for other locations. Occasionally, if a huge number of people are needed, an open casting call is posted.

You really should register with casting agencies, which can be done online or in person. The usual registration includes a one-page resume and brief listing of experience, if you have any. You also must include age and basic body measurements, including height, weight and dress/coat size.

Photos for most agencies seeking extras don’t have to be professional. Selfies or cell phone shots by someone else usually work fine; they let agents and directors see how you really look. In addition to your face, a clothed body shot from the knees up is helpful. If you have the clothes, dress in outfits appropriate for different characters: a business suit, casual clothes, exercise clothes, formal attire, outdoor active wear, a period costume if you have one. You don’t need all of them, just some.

Once you’re registered, update your files periodically—annually will suffice.

Agencies operating in Atlanta include:

  • Background Artists Casting Atlanta
  • Catrett & Associates Casting
  • Cynthia Stillwell Casting
  • Extras Casting Atlanta
  • Hylton Casting
  • New Life Casting
  • Pierre Casting
  • Rose Locke Casting
  • TaylorMade Casting
  • Tammy Smith Casting

Agents Use Facebook

All of the agents listed here are on Facebook. Once you’re registered, follow the site and submit to calls on the agents’ Facebook pages.

It helps to have a Facebook page of your own containing your name and describing you and your skills for agents to see. Once the call is put out on Facebook, just write a comment saying “submitted.” You’ll be notified on the agent’s page only if you’re invited to come in for a role.

Break a leg!

Friday, 08 February 2019 19:20

Replacing RV Floor Covering

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If your RV interior is starting to show its age, especially but not necessarily only underfoot, consider new floor covering to make it look—and feel—newer.

Chances are, your RV has carpeting that shows its age where foot traffic is heaviest—definitely by the entry door, probably near the bathroom, and possibly where traffic routinely flows.

And then there’s the color. Color analysts from different industries actually sit down every year and decide not only what colors will be the “it” shades for the coming years, but even what the colors will be called. That’s right: There are people actively planning to make your carpet, draperies and furniture obsolete simply because of the colors they are.

On Being a Slave to Fashion

You can always say, “No, I’m not getting rid of perfectly good carpet.” After all, who’s going to enter your RV here at Crossing Creeks RV Resort & Spa and say, “Your colors are so outdated.” What they’ll say is, “Oh, Charlie, look. Remember when we had carpet that color?”

If carpet is worn from lots of boondocking or trips to the shore, you have choices in recovering your floor tastefully.

New Carpeting

Look for short-pile, closed-loop carpeting because it cleans up well, but you certainly don’t have to. You’ll save hundreds of dollars if you can find a remnant, often avalable at carpet store, discount stores and odd-lot bargain outlets.

You’ll have ample choices in color, whether you go with solid or a heather that gives the look of a solid but shows a little more life. If you’re having movie stars over, choose red. (OK. Just kidding.) When keeping your furniture, keep in mind the fabric on them. Get carpet swatches if you can and lay them on the fabric to make sure there’s no clash. If your furniture is solid, a pattern carpet might work. But be careful, since RV floor space is, all things considered, small enough to be overwhelmed by too busy a print.

Then choose between roll carpet, which must be stretched tightly before it’s stapled subfloor, or self-adhering carpet squares, also called carpet tiles. Laying roll carpet can be trying, including physically, but it’s possible to do it yourself. The fewer seams, the better looking the results. Make sure to snug seams so they disappear. Sometimes taping seams underneath with carpet tape helps.

Installing carpet tiles is easier. They’re often used in offices and sometimes in below-grade family rooms. You’ll have to scrape off the remnants of any previous floorcovering and pull staples so the subfloor surface is smooth and clean. You’ll also have to find the center of the floor and strike perpendicular chalk lines, starting at the center and working toward walls and furniture. That way, carpet squares in the center of the floor, where they are most obvious, will be full. Cutoff carpet tiles will be near walls or cabinets.

Short-pile carpet cleans up well. Spills, mud and sand come up easier than with plush carpet. Wet spots will dry faster.

Laminate Floors

Laminate floors have been round for about 35 years. They are laid over a thin foam pad but are not nailed down. The rectangular slats, which are high-density fiberboard with laminate coverings resembling wood or grouted stone, snap together to become one giant slab. Seams are barely visible. Laminate floors must have about a quarter-inch of play at the edges so they can float with temperature and humidity changes. Edges get moldings to cover the gap.

Installation isn’t particularly hard. You will need a chop saw to shorten some pieces and a jigsaw to cut around wall protrusions and cabinets.

When you’re done you have a wood-look floor that’s water- and mud-resistant but not waterproof. It cleans up easily from spills and tracked mud, and salt and sand don’t soak in. Dogs may need a little time to get used to its lack of traction for their claws, but they will, and claws won’t scratch it—not even after a decade of use.

For a little more color, warmth and cushion, you can spread an area rug over top, with a nonslip layer in between.

Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl plank flooring comes in two types. Both, after installation, appear similar to a laminate floor, with a wood grain look.

One style of vinyl plank is a floating floor that’s installed over a thin foam pad. Floating vinyl planks adhere to one another, but not to the pad. The second type installs more like traditional vinyl tiles, with a peel-off back that exposes an adhesive that sticks directly to the plywood subfloor.

Vinyl planks are easier to work with than laminate. They cut with a utility knife. No saw is needed.

Vinyl planks are waterproof and impervious to mud, sand and salt. They won’t stain easily and wipe clean with a sponge mop or, after a spill, with a paper towel. They hold up well against claws.

Photo Credits: ciker.com

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