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RV Life (69)

The days of striking it rich by prospecting for gold and gems in Georgia are long past, but you just might unearth a mother lode of fun. You’ll also come up with some raw, uncut gemstones and maybe even some gold!

Monday, 23 March 2020 21:19

Tips for Solving Your RV Laundry Needs

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Laundry day in the RV can be especially trying: Lug all your clothes and hoarded quarters to a coin-op laundry. Wait for an available washer. Load the machine. Wait. Hope another customer doesn’t scoop up the lone unclaimed dryer before your rinse and spin cycles end. Transfer clothes to the dryer. Wait. Fold. Carry everything to your car or tow vehicle. Drive back to your RV.

Wouldn’t it be nice to wash and dry right in your RV, without using the sink?

You can install a washer and dryer in your RV if you have the room, and with a portable you can at least wash an emergency load or two inside or outside your rig even if you don’t have the space for a laundry.

Finding Space

If your trailer or motorhome offered a washer/dryer option, then your RV—even if it lacks the appliances—has a place to build them in. Some cabinet modifications are probably needed. Look online for detailed plans for your RV or call the manufacturer’s customer service line to find out if your RV model can easily accommodate a washer and dryer.

If your RV was not designed for a washer and dryer, you still might be able to install the appliances in a closet or pantry. Some units, including washer-dryer combos, may fit under countertops if you remove a base cabinet.

Hookups

You’ll have to make sure hookups can be accomplished. The location of your washer and dryer should be:

  • Near electrical power.

You’ll need two 110-volt outlets for two separate appliances, or one for a washer/dryer combination, 240 volts for some models. You may have to relocate electrical outlets to make sure the plug will fit between the appliances and outlet.

  • Convenient to the grey tank.

You’ll have to tap into the grey tank with the washing machine’s outlet hose.

  • Tall, wide and deep enough.

The space must accommodate the height of the appliances, the recommended minimum side clearance and the recommended front and back clearance. Some units require zero side clearance.

  • Big enough for a vent.

Dryers come vented and unvented, but unvented dryers dump excess moisture into your RV interior. Venting through an exterior wall is preferable.

Appliance Styles

Options abound, making it possible to add a washer/dryer to just about any RV bigger than a teardrop or popup. And thanks to small portables, you can even do laundry in or outside one of those smaller campers.

Here’s what’s available to build in:

Washer/dryer combo. About the size of a washer alone, these front-loading units turn into a dryer after the wash, rinse and spin cycles. That saves space. Some, such as the Splendide 2100XC, automatically start drying when the washing is done. The capacity of the washer is 15 pounds, and the dryer, 11 pounds. Cost: $1,100 to $1,350.

Stackable. An RV-size front-load washer and dryer stacked, such as the Equator EW 824 and ED 850, require only the footprint of the washer, about 23 inches wide and 22 inches deep, but need about 5 feet in height. The washer is on the bottom and the dryer on top. The washer and dryer each hold 13 pounds. Cost: $1,250-$1,500.

Stacked integrated unit. Often found in apartments, these compact units have a washer on the bottom and a dryer on top. They are made as one tall unit, each about 28 inches wide. The GE Spacemaker Laundry Center needs about 6½ feet of height. It can handle 3.8 cubic feet for washing and 5.9 for drying. Some models may require a 240-volt line and breaker. Cost: $1,250-$1,500.

Portables for Tight Spaces

Tiny alternatives—portable units that wash a small load and spin the items quite dry in a separate drum—help out in small campers. An example is the Best Choice Model SKY5406 twin-tub washer. It can wash a small load, about 8 pounds, with a separate spinning drum that can dry up to 5 pounds. With a power demand of 140 watts or less, it’s possible to run on solar power. Cost: $95-150.

Portables have hoses or hookups for hoses, or you can just fill from a bucket or large bottle. These units aren’t always automatic. You may have to add water for the rinse, and the dryer drum uses the low-tech method of sensing if clothes are dry: Stop and feel them. Drain into your shower or use natural, biodegradable soap and drain outside where permitted.

Clothes Lines

If you go without a dryer, or if you use a portable, you’ll need to hang your laundry to dry.

Look for something that has convenient setup and teardown. The Smart Drier clamps onto the ladder of your camper and opens to reveal several lines for hanging clothes and linens. With the sun reflecting off your RV, clothes dry quickly, especially if hung after being spun thoroughly. Cost: $100 or less.

The Australian-made Versaline Traveller Compact RV Clothesline hangs on two wall brackets that you screwed into a side or back exterior wall of an RV or to vehicle. It removes easily and folds into a carrying case when you’re done. Cost: $150 or less.

Image Credits: campingworld.com

Friday, 21 February 2020 16:15

Portable Lithium Batteries Add Storage, Convenience

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If you live largely on solar when you’re off grid, and even if you rely on generators, portable lithium “generators” are a great addition to your RV energy arsenal.

But let’s get something straight: No matter what they’re called, these lithium-ion units are not generators. They are high-capacity portable storage batteries with built-in inverters and convenient ports for tapping the energy they store. To charge this battery, you still need a gasoline- or propane-powered generator, a campground power supply, a solar array, or in some cases, your car’s alternator and a 12v DC port, possibly with a separate inverter.

Still, once charged, they can store and deliver hours of power for electronic devices, lighting, fans and mall appliances.

Similar to, Different from House Batteries

Similar to lithium house batteries, the portable power supplies:

  • Store energy sent by generating devices.
  • Can power devices for hours, depending on the draw and the power station’s storage capacity.
  • Allow repeated deep discharges without degrading battery health.
  • Do not off-gas, making them safe for interior use.
  • Are quiet.

There are big differences, too. The lithium portable power stations:

  • Don’t get hard-wired to an RV electrical or charging system.
  • Have handles for carrying.
  • Have built-in inverters for safe, pure sine wave power.
  • Include AC and DC connectivity so devices that draw from them do not have to be plugged into an RV’s hard-wired outlets.

Connectivity

Power ports in each unit typically include:

  • 110v grounded AC power outlets for such items as fans, lamps, computers, printers, coffee pots, hairdryers, C-PAP machines and televisions.
  • USB ports for charging phones and tablets.
  • A cigarette lighter-type power outlet for 12v DC devices, such as rechargeable flashlights and tire inflators.

So you can keep tabs on how much power you’re using and have in reserve, some power stations have digital readouts and/or meters. If not, you can attach a meter such as a Kill A Watt, $20-25.

Inputs typically include a grounded (three-prong) AC receptacle, which you can plug into an RV outlet for recharging from your generator, and a solar input from your panels, whether mounted on your RV or portable.  

Advantages over Generators

Sometimes you just can’t run even a quiet generator—at night, for instance, when neighbors are close, or park if rules forbid it. And you can’t run a generator if you’re out of fuel for it.

A lithium portable battery is likely to have a cooling fan, but it is about as quiet as a laptop’s. Outdoors, it won’t disturb wildlife.

Limitations

On cheaper lithium power stations, a hairdryer or blender may work on a low or medium setting, but not on high. A microwave or air conditioner is almost surely too much to handle except on high-end batteries with a 1,000w AC output. And although a smaller portable battery can power, say, a computer or a blender, it may not handle both at once.

Breakers shut the units off if they’re overtaxed, keeping them from overheating.  

Price of Power

The more capabilities and capacity you want, the higher the price, but the price range is wide.

Here are examples:

Rockpals 240Wh Portable Generator Rechargeable Lithium Battery Pack Solar Generator, $185-200. This Rockpals portable lithium battery can power computers, tablets, cell phones, CPAP machines, small fans, drones and lamps but is not suitable for small appliances, such as hairdryers, coffee machines or toasters. At 5.5 pounds, it’s light enough to take on the trail. Outputs: USB-A (2), 110v AC (2), 12v DC car-type port. Inputs: Wall outlet, car port or solar panel.    

Suaoki G500 Portable Power Station Portable Lithium 500Wh Rechargeable Solar Generator, $500-526. The Suaoki G500 is a versatile all-around unit that can power some small appliances as well as recharge electronic devices. A digital display monitors charging input, draw and reserve. At 22 pounds, it’s not light enough for trail use but it’s quite manageable around the campsite. Outputs: USB–A (2); USB-C (1); 12v car-type port (1); 110v AC 300w (2). Inputs: wall outlet, car port or solar panel.

Maxoak Portable Power Station Bluetti EB150 1500Wh, about $1,400. The Bluetti EB150 is powerful and versatile. With 1,000w maximum sine-wave 110v output through its inverter, the Bluetti can power even wattage-hungry hairdryers and blenders, and tools, such as drill-drivers. With 1,500wh on tap, it can power a laptop for a full day, a fan overnight, and probably even a small air conditioner (not a rooftop unit) for six or more hours. At 38 pounds, it’s portable around the campsite or inside your RV. Digital readouts monitor input, output and reserve. Outputs: USB-A (4); USB-C (1); car-type 12v DC (1); 110v AC (2). Input: Solar panels; wall outlet; car 12v port, but only with an inverter.

  • 2*AC Outlets(Standard AC110V US Plug) for Most Household Appliance under 1000W Such as TV, mini Refrigerator, Household Dryer, CPAP,Drone.1*DC12V for Car Powered Devices like Car Fridge, Car Vacuum Cleaner,1*PD Type-C (Max 45W) for USB-C Devices Such as Laptop MacBook/MacBook Pro & PD USB-C Phones,4*5V3A(Max) USB for phones, Tablets, Camera, Fans, light, etc, Keep Multi Devices Powered in Case Power Failure or Away from a Wall Outlet, Widely Used for Indoor or Outdoor.
  • Solar/AC Recharge: 1)This Power Generator Can be Recharged from the Sun with Solar Panel (Open Circuit Voltage must be 16V~60V(Max),Max 500W,Solar Panel not Included). 2) This Power Station Can be Fully Charged in 10 Hrs by being Plugged into the Wall Outlet.Charge Time varies on the Solar Panel(Higher Power of the Panel, Shorter Charge Time you will Get), eg. 300W Solar Panel: About 5-5.5Hrs. 3*150W Panel in Series: About 3.5-4Hrs. Tips:Car Charge: you need buy a Power Inverter(≥300W) yourself.
  • Other Highlights: 1) MPPT High Efficient Solar Charing; 2) MC4 Solar Charging Cable is Included, No need other Charge Controller; 3) Battery Management System (BMS),Protect from Overvoltage,Overcurrent,Short-circuit, Temperature Control & more Safeguards. 4) LCD Screen to Monitor the Remaining Capacity/Charging/Discharge/Abnormal Status, Error Code will be Showed for any Malfunction; 5)Auto Shut off after Fully Charged; 6) 50/60Hz Frequency Adjustable 7)Size&Net Weight: 14.6*6.5*14.4inch,37.9lb.
Friday, 24 January 2020 16:41

Mountain Events Near Crossing Creeks Begin in March

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Enough winter, already.

Let’s start planning for spring and some things you can do in March with an easy drive from Crossing Creeks RV Resort and Spa in Blairsville, Georgia, where you can stay in comfort.

Here’s a look at some nearby fun North Georgia Mountains events early in the season:

Dahlonega Festivals

A series of 2020 festivals in Dahlonega, a picturesque town that’s not even an hour’s drive down U.S. 19 from Crossing Creeks, begins with the Dahlonega Literary Festival on March 6 and 7, and the Dahlonega Science Festival, March 6-8. More festivals are scheduled through the year, including the Bear on the Square Festival, April 17-19, and the Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival, May 15 and 16.

Dahlonega boomed in the early 1800s as the site of the first U.S. gold rush, two decades before San Francisco opened its Golden Gate. You can still pan for gold. For a while in the 19th century Dahlonega had a U.S. mint that produced gold coins. Today the town of about 5,500 people, surrounded by the North Georgia Mountains ad man of Georgia’s finest vineyards, is better known for its festivals featuring the arts, live music, and wine tastings.

The literary gathering  inside the Dahlonega Baptist Church, 234 Hawkins St., features nationally known and regional authors, readings and book signings. The list of this year’s authors is online. Admission to the event is free. Money raised through donations and sponsorships benefits literacy projects in Lumpkin County. An eclectic mix of live music will play throughout the two days.

Event: Dahlonega Literary Festival   

Location: Dahlonega Baptist Church, 234 Hawkins St., Dahlonega, GA

Time/date: Saturday, March 16, 2020, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, March 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Admission: Free, all ages

Directions: an hour’s drive from Crossing Creeks 

The third annual Dahlonega Science Festival, “Vision 20/20,” will be held on the Dahlonega campus of North Georgia University and in downtown businesses March 6-8. Events at the festival, a project of the Dahlonega Science Council, will examine all sorts of scientific topics with an eye toward the future. Planned are talks by scientists, engineers and futurists, planetarium shows, a children’s stage show and hands-on activities, including crime scene investigation.

Events are free to all ages. You can watch for a list of speakers and schedule online. Past speakers have included NASA engineers and scientists, and professors from several universities.

Event: Dahlonega Science Festival

Location: University of North Georgia Dahlonega Campus; Dahlonega downtown businesses

Dates, times: March 6-8, 2020; event times to be announced

Admission: Free to all ages

Directions: an hour’s drive from Crossing Creeks 

Hippie Fest 2020

Here’s a happening that’s far out, but not far away. Hippie Fest is a 1960s déjà vu at Uncle Shucks Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Dawsonville, Georgia, just a 1¼ hour’s drive from Blairsville. It will happen rain (just like the 1960s Woodstock festival) or shine on Saturday, March 14, and Sunday, March 15.

Stroll through the scores of vendor tents in search of that perfect tie-dye shirt. If you can’t find it, just mellow out, because you can tie-dye a tee at the show. If it’s been years since you’ve seen a rear-engine VW bus or an early air-cooled Beetle, you’ll see quite a few at Hippie Fest’s car show, which runs both days. There are prizes for car show participants, including Most Shagadelic and Most Psychedelic vehicles, and Grooviest Bug.

Family-friendly music and entertainment will be presented live each day. You’re welcome to bring your own lawn chair. You can even bring your dog and let him groove (but clean up after him, please). Food and drink are for sale. 

Hippie Fest may not attract the multitudes that flocked to Yasgur’s Farm, but maybe that’s because tickets are limited. You must reserve tickets online.

Event: Hippie Fest 2020

Location: Uncle Shucks Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch, 125 Bannister Road, Dawsonville, GA 30534

Time/Dates: Noon-7 p.m., Saturday, March 14-Sunday, March 15, 2020

Admission: Single day, $11.30 (including fees); two days, $16.45; children 10 and under, free. 

Tickets: Limited availability. Reservations required online.

Camping spaces: Boondock only. Sold out.

Directions: 1¼ hour’s drive from Crossing Creeks

Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest

This will be the 10th year for the Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest in Town Center Park in Suwanee, about a 1¾ hour’s drive from Crossing Creeks. The festival, on Saturday, March 14, 2020, bills itself as Georgia’s largest craft beer festival. Only three days before St. Patrick’s Day, the festival doubles as a day for wearin’ the green. 

Admission entitles ticket holders, who must be 21 or older and have a photo ID, to sample any of more than 300 craft beers, including some new releases. Food is for sale, as are nonalcoholic beverages. Reduced-price designated driver tickets, available with general admission tickets, do not include tasting. VIP tickets include noon admission, a goody bag, souvenir tee shirt, guided tours and use of private rest rooms. Designated driver tickets are not available with VIP tickets.

Event: Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest 2020

Location: Suwanee Town Center Park

Time/Dates: Saturday, March 14, noon-5 p.m. (VIP); 1-5 p.m. (general admission).

Admission: General admission, $50 online (rising to $55 on Feb. 23); $60 at gate. Designated driver ticket (must be purchased by buyer of general admission ticket), $15. VIP, $110. 

Pets: Certified service dogs only.

Smoking: In open areas only, not near tents.

Directions: 1¾ hour’s drive from Crossing Creeks 

Friday, 27 December 2019 16:01

RV Window Insulation Guide

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Windows are a major source of cold air in a heated travel trailer or motorhome, but there are ways to reduce drafts and incoming moisture. At Crossing Creeks RV Resort, Eeven the Georgia mountains can get pretty chilly in late fall and winter for a Southern state.

One problem with RV windows is that build quality isn’t the greatest on many RVs, and the stress from frequent travel just make that worse. Try this: Buy canned smoke or light a match and blow it out, then hold it near a closed RV window, making sure not to get too near curtains. If the smoke seemingly disappears into the wall, it’s really making its way into cracks that let in winter’s cold and allow heat to escape.

Some RV window solutions are more expensive, but most are downright cheap. All will take some degree of work to make or install, but several aren’t particularly hard.

Double-Pane Windows

Most RV windows have a single pane—not the best at keeping out the cold. If you like a lot of light, bigger windows are a great idea—until winter hits. A single-pane window typically has an R value of 1, where R signifies resistance to thermal transfer, with higher numbers indicating more resistance. R-1 is perhaps 1/20 of the insulating value of a ceiling and a tenth or less of wall insulation. The bigger the window, the bigger the gap in your wall insulation.

Add to that the air leaks inherent in many RV window frames and you have a chilly RV.

Many RVers who have double-pane windows say they make a difference, but others warn that they damage easily. If shaking from travel breaks a seal, the windows can fog. Although they are typically rated only R-2, they have a space between them that is a vacuum or filled with an inert gas to reduce thermal transfer.

Double panes can be purchased and installed as replacements for your original single panes, but they are an easier solution when you buy an RV new because there’s no extra work to do. No, you’re not likely to buy a new RV just to get better windows, but they’re worth considering if you trade up.

If you install new windows, use adequate urethane caulking, which flexes, around the frame and under the trim to eliminate air leaks.

The big bonus of double-pane windows is that your RV interior will feel warmer but remain bright.

Reflective Barriers

Many RVers use bubble-type reflective sheeting, perhaps the best-known of which is Reflectix, over windows inside their RVs. Like a single pane of glass, bubble-type reflective covers probably have only an R-1 insulation value. But if installed properly, their effective performance, like that of double-pane windows, is higher.

The key is the material’s reflective value, not its insulating value. It will reflect heat away from its shiny side, so installing the shiny side toward the interior of your RV will reflect some of the heat back into the living space. Proper installation calls for an air pocket on each side of the cover. The air pocket is critical. The higher R-values claimed by manufacturers are based on the wrap not touching the window glass.

Methods of attaching Reflectix range from duct tape to Velcro and attaching a heavy cardboard frame, then hanging the assembly, sometimes with hooks and wires. You can find plenty of how-to videos online. The tighter the seal, the better reflective wrap works as a moisture barrier.

Some RVers use the reflective bubble wrap with extruded polystyrene foam sheathing to add insulation value. Mounting the foam against the reflective wrap does not lower its reflective property.

The most obvious negative in using reflective bubble sheeting or foam is that the interior of your RV will be dark.

Shrink-Wrap Plastic

Often used by owners of sticks-and-bricks homes, shrink window plastic also has little insulating value. Properly installed, however, it seals at least partly against air leaks and the resultant drafts, and it forms an air gap between the plastic film and the window pane to reduce temperature transfer. It’s a good seal against moisture.

Cut the plastic cover to the approximate size of the window frame and mount it as tightly as possible using double-sided tape. Then heat the plastic with a hair dryer to shrink it and draw it taught to the point that it is wrinkle-free. It’s intended to remain in place for the season—not good if you like to open your windows occasionally. You can always use a roof vent for some fresh air.

The plastic is clear, so it keeps your RV interior bright, although the view through the windows may be slightly cloudy.

Insulated Curtains

Providing some protection against temperature transfer are insulated curtains.

An online search yields an assortment of sticks-and-bricks window products, but a handy RVer could modify insulated curtains for camper use. Don’t think that blackout curtains are insulated; they’re not unless they are so labeled.

You can get some good tips on making insulated RV window covers here.

Alternative Solutions

If you don’t want to insulate your windows, insulate yourself. Dress in layers inside your RV when temperatures are colder. Woolens breathe better than acrylics, which can make some people sweat—not good when it’s cold.

At night, if you’re at a powered campsite, try an electric blanket. It’s pretty cozy under there. If you don’t want to go electric or can’t, at least get a heavily insulated, conventional blanket.  

Photo Credits: alibaba.com

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.

RVIA, RVers Want Action

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.

Public-Private Partnerships

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.

Friday, 27 September 2019 14:12

Preventing Top RV Accident Causes

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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.

Don’t Drive When You’re Tired

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:

  • Get enough sleep. Simple, right?
  • Plan your trip realistically. Trying to meet unrealistic distance or time expectations may make you weary.
  • Be honest about how tired driving makes you, and the effects on you from the number of hours you’re on the road, traffic conditions, wind and weather, dealing with mechanical troubles, or the stress from not being able to find a dump station or fresh water.
  • If you’re a couple, make sure both can drive in shifts.
  • Nap if you’re tired, then get back on the road, or just stop early for the night.

Load Your Rig Properly

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.

Use a Weight Distribution Hitch and Anti-Sway Bar

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.

Eliminate Blind Spots

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.

Slow Down

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.

Check Your Hitch, Then Check Again

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.

Never Too Late To Learn

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:

  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.

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