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We all know the price that’s paid for deferred maintenance. You delay oil changes to save $60 and you need an engine rebuild for $4,000. You delay transmission fluid changes to save a couple of hundred bucks and you need a new tranny for $6,000. You avoid getting a roof leak fixed and you need—well, a new RV, for $20,000 or $40,000 or more.
Deferred maintenance is undeniably false economy.
Now think about something so many of us use and enjoy, the National Parks System. According to National Parks Service deferred maintenance reports, the agency has delayed nearly $12 billion in park maintenance—$313 million in fiscal year 2018 alone. The cumulative maintenance backlog includes $6.5 billion in roads and structures, and $5.77 billion in other facilities, such a campgrounds, fresh water systems, housing, utilities, dams, manmade waterways, marinas and more.
As quoted by nationalparkstraveler.org, Deny Galvin, a former deputy director of the National Park Service, told the House Federal Lands Subcommittee two years ago that most national parks facilities are more than 50 years old. Reed Watson, the executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center based in Bozeman, Montana, told the same committee that fees would need to increase to help cover costs if Congress continues to refuse a significant increase in appropriations.
The Recreational Vehicle Association has noticed, and it has gone on record to urge the first major upgrade to national park facilities since the 1960s. (Yes, you read that decade right.) The RVIA says there’s an additional maintenance backlog topping $5 billion in National Forest Service lands.
RVIA said improvements are needed but added that it wants to see parks remain affordable to visitors.
RVIA found that in a survey of 2,000 RVers, 98 percent said the national parks facilities need to be upgraded. RVers in the survey expressed a desire for longer and wider campsites, improvement of the day-to-day upkeep of campgrounds, and more RV campsites, RVIA said.
RVIA correlates the state of disrepair of national parks and a drop in national park overnights—from over 4 million annually in the 1980s to 2.5 million now, despite increases in RV ownership. Overnights in state parks and privately run parks continue to increase, it noted.
Is the entry of private businesses into park operations the answer? RVIA thinks so.
Watson already had suggested that some parks should be franchised to private operators.
In its survey of RVers, RVIA said, 85 percent expressed support for the idea of public-private partnerships to accomplish repairs and improvements. Partnerships could improve not only campsites, but also roads and bridges, making the campsites safer, RVIA says. It also suggested that better connectivity for cell phones and Internet would improve visitors’ access to weather information and emergency services when needed.
RVIA’s position is that National Park Service input on fees would keep rates affordable. But the whole premise of its support for private partnerships in national parks is that private companies would solve the need for money, then recoup their investments over time through fees. How high fees would have to be to satisfy investors’ needs is a guess.
In the meantime, if you want to let your representatives in Congress know how you feel, you can find email addresses online for members of the House and Senate.
If you look at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s leading causes of RV accidents, most are avoidable.
Some have to do with driver error while operating a motorhome or towing a trailer or fifth wheel, and some with human error before heading out on the road.
Here are some safety tips that could help eliminate these causes.
It’s so simple it seems almost silly to even list it, but overly tired drivers are a leading cause of RV accidents, according to a 2012 study by the agency.
To avoid adding to that toll, do some really simple things:
Carrying more than your rig’s payload capacity can cause an imbalance. Overweight trailers and improperly loaded trailers are both among leading RV accident causes.
Have your rig weighed on a scale that shows the weight on each wheel. That way, even if you’re not overweight, you can at least distribute the weight evenly. If you’re consistently overweight, do a cleanout. Make three piles: leave at home, discard and donate. Then reload your RV with fewer things and better weight distribution.
Leave enough time to dump tanks so they’re empty when you travel. Traveling with 100 gallons of fresh water and waste adds more than 800 pounds. That may approach half your maximum recommended payload on a modestly sized RV.
Rollovers stemming from an RV’s higher center of gravity are another leading accident trigger. Many drivers don’t account for the different weight characteristics of an RV, especially travel trailers. They are either unaccustomed to the top-heavy RV or unprepared to deal with the behavior it exhibits at speed and in crosswinds.
Use a weight-distribution hitch and anti-sway bar. The hitch shifts weight toward the front axle of a tow vehicle. The anti-sway bar discourages the back-and-forth motion that is a notorious prelude to a trailer’s overturning.
Also helpful is a brake controller with an instrument panel-mounted controller that lets you apply the trailer brakes only if you feel or see sway coming on.
Failing to see vehicles overtaking you through blind spots is another top accident cause, according to FMCSA. Install an aftermarket system if your motorhome lacks blind spot monitoring. You can also install one on your trailer or fifth wheel, with a backup camera that doubles as a rear view mirror.
If you’re towing a trailer with a truck that lacks towing mirrors, add them. You can do it inexpensively with oversized clip-on mirrors that attach without tools to your truck’s smaller mirrors. The clip-on mirrors extend far enough from the truck body to give you a clear view of approaching vehicles.
Speeding is another major cause of RV accidents with a simple solution: Drive slower, especially in foul weather, strong winds, and heavy traffic, and on poor road surfaces. High winds, another frequent accident generator, affect an RV more the faster you drive. Sometimes the best way to prevent speeding is to plan your trip well, leaving enough time to reach destinations without having to hurry.
Failing to stop in time, also a major cause of RV crashes, is closely related. Keep a safe distance from vehicles in front of you and travel at a speed that’s appropriate for the gap between you and that vehicle. Remember: A motorhome or RV-towing pickup needs a longer distance to stop safely than a smaller vehicle you may drive daily.
Runaway trailers also make the list.
Make sure your hitch is seated properly on the ball before locking it up. Cross your safety chains. And make sure the tether that triggers the trailer brakes in a breakaway is not too long—typically no more than 16 to 20 inches. Longer cables delay application of trailer brakes if the hitch becomes disconnected. Check to make sure every latch, pin, lever and chain is properly in place and tightened.
If you change RVs, especially if you move up to a Class A or a much longer trailer or fifth wheel, consider taking a driver instruction course, even if you had taken one years earlier. Bigger size changes many factors, including weight, turning radius, handling and stopping distance. You also will benefit from instruction in the many new technologies in today’s RVs.
Mistakes by senior drivers are among the leading causes of RV accidents, the motor carrier association says. If you’re an older RVer, your experience is invaluable, but think about taking a refresher RV driving course.
Photo Credits: flickr.com/JoonasTikkanen
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:
If You Already Have an RV:
One Last Question
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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:
Here’s the vacation costs savings for a couple, by RV type:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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 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 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
When water gets inside an RV, the problems it causes are a lot bigger than each of those tiny drops.
Some water damage is easy to see because it marks interior surfaces.
Other water damage is harder to see because it’s inside walls, ceilings and floors. Framing can rot. Sidewalls can delaminate. The hidden damage may be the most sinister because it may include unhealthful mold.
Water can enter an RV anyplace the outer shell is breached—and an RV has many breaches, some intentional, others not.
Here are the places leaks are likely to occur:
Every four to six months, check any Dicor coatings over seams and around equipment mounts. Look for cracks, both large and small.
Also make it a habit every four to six months, during prolonged good weather, to pull a few screws. Many screws are under decorative covers, which you’ll have to pry off gingerly to avoid breaking. (The older non-metal covers are, the more likely the sun has baked them into a brittle state. If you break a cover, replace it.)
On campers with corrugated siding, be sure to check some screws on corner moldings.
Look over the backed out screws. If the threads are rusty, water is entering.
You also should check your EDPM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) roofing. You don’t need to re-seal the roof surface, but you should clean it with a medium brush and mild detergent that does not contain petroleum distillates every six months. Keeping it clean will allow you to better identify any breaks or weak spots.
The most obvious sign of a leak is a water stain on an interior wall or ceiling, or delamination of cabinetry where water soaked it. Mildew or mold also may appear. Unfortunately many leaks simply don’t show on a surface.
Water migrates inside walls and ceilings, so the leak may be in front of, behind or beside the damage. For that reason, try to detect leaks on the exterior. One method is a pressure test. You can pay to have this done by a dealer or shop, usually for $200-$250, plus a labor charge if the shop does the repairs.
During a pressure test, compressed air is pumped into the RV. Soapy water is sprayed onto seams—around windows, doors, roof-mounted equipment, essentially all the areas listed above. If air is escaping, the soapy water will bubble. The same gaps, though quite small, that let air out probably let water in.
You can perform an air test yourself, even without specialty equipment. Make a hard cover for a small exterior opening, such as to a storage area, and cut a hole to accept the end of a shop vacuum hose or leaf blower outlet. Insert the hose and duct tape the connection, log with the edges of the patch, turn on the pressure and spray the soapy water, then look for leak-indicating bubbles.
Another method is to spray canned smoke inside where you suspect a leak, and have another person outside to look for escaping smoke.
Frequently, all that needs to be done where Dicor is cracked is to plug the cracks with more Dicor, applied with a caulking gun. Clean the surface first with a rag dampened—not soaked—with mineral spirits so the new Dicor will adhere. Dicor, which is self-leveling, seeps into the cracks after it is applied.
Warning: Mineral spirits can harm EDPM roofing, so apply sparingly. The best thing to do is wipe areas where mineral spirits were applied with a cleaner that does not contain petroleum distillates.
If there’s a crack in the EDPM, Dicor is compatible and can be applied to seal the breach. Use the same procedure as for cracked Dicor.
Also look for loose Dicor. It would probably cause a major leak around mounts or large breaches, such as for vents or skylights. Remove loose Dicor and the item it’s sealing, then reinstall and reseal the accessory. If there’s evidence of water damage in the ceiling or in sidewalls, spray with a disinfectant, then dry everything out with heat and lots of airflow before reassembling and installing a new bead of Dicor and screws. Dicor is compatible not only with EDPM, but also with wood, fiberglass, plastic, steel and aluminum.
Replace rusty screws in the proper size. Coated screws will be less prone to rust.
If you’re sealing corners, consider a tape such as Seal-Tite. Once you’ve removed the insert trim, which hides screws, remove the screws, molding and old sealant, such as tape or putty. Stretch the pressure-sensitive side of the flexible tape over the opening, being sure to close gaps due to the irregular surface of siding. Then replace the cleaned molding coated with underside beads of sealant along the two edges, and new screws. You may want to add new insert trim in the molding for better looks.
Tiny houses are all the rage. One-bedroom and even no-bedroom homes with all the amenities of home—but a fraction as big—are the darlings of shelter magazines, lifestyle websites and TV feature shows.
And you have to admit, they’re pretty neat. Don’t take our word for it; check out diminutive domiciles at the 2019 Georgia Tiny House Festival in Macon, GA, one of the biggest and best-attended festivals of its kind in the country. The show site this year is bigger, at Central City Park in Macon, GA, a little over three hours from Crossing Creeks RV Resort and Spa.
The show runs from 9 a.m., Friday, March 1, to 5 p.m., Sunday, March 3.
The Georgia Tiny House Festival, presented by the United Tiny House Association, Eatonton, GA, is in its fourth year. The primary purpose is to spread the word about the benefits of and choices in small housing. Proceeds from the show, which charges admission to attendees age 13 and older, helps local charities. Children 12 and under and military/first responders, past and present, enter free. Seniors receive half-off at the gate.
Everyone gets in free at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 1.
Primitive RV campsites are available for either one night or two, in either small (10x20 feet) or large (20x40 feet) configurations. You will be boondocking; be prepared.
A tiny house, depending on the unit, can serve for off-grid living, on-grid living, wilderness living, or urban living, according to the Tiny House Association.
Some tiny houses—think destination trailers—are built on chassis and have wheels and tires for towing. They may resemble traditional travel trailers, small cabins or cottages. Destination RVs have plumbing and electrical hookups just like more conventional RVs. Some also are set up for boondocking. Destination trailers are well-appointed, typically with a living/dining room, possibly with sleeper sofas in the living room, kitchen with full-size refrigerator/freezer, bath, laundry and queen-size bedroom. Some have a second bedroom or stairs to a loft bedroom suitable mostly for children. Many have small porches.
Destination trailers are just that: trailers best used at one site you may rent long-term or own, such as at Crossing Creeks. (Not all examples will be allowed in to all facilities, so check with management before you buy.)
Tiny houses come in many more shapes and styles. Some are factory-built and intended for permanent onsite use, with connections for well pumps and onsite sewerage. Others are conversions of things as widely divergent as shipping containers and school buses. If you’re laughing at the thought of shipping containers, you’ll be interested to know that some conversions are so high-end that they make it onto the pages of slick architectural publications.
At the 2018 Georgia festival, which was the world’s third-largest event displaying tiny houses of all types, 92 tiny houses were on display. That number is expected to grow this year. The tiny houses on display are open to tours, including some that are lived in full-time but are shared for three days with the curious.
Converting school buses has become so popular that the show’s workshop on the subject is sold out. Keep the workshop in mind for next year. Even if you don’t want to convert a school bus, a type of RV that some parks don’t allow, what it teaches about electricals, structure, plumbing, cabinetry and furniture-making is valuable to many RV owners looking to do some of their own maintenance and improvement.
Admission includes talks and workshops by people who’ve studied small houses, manufacture them or live in them. These events are scheduled daily.
2019 Georgia Tiny House Festival