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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.
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.
You’ll have to make sure hookups can be accomplished. The location of your washer and dryer should be:
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.
You’ll have to tap into the grey tank with the washing machine’s outlet hose.
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.
Dryers come vented and unvented, but unvented dryers dump excess moisture into your RV interior. Venting through an exterior wall is preferable.
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.
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.
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
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 lithium house batteries, the portable power supplies:
There are big differences, too. The lithium portable power stations:
Power ports in each unit typically include:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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