Category Archives: RVing

RVing Can Be A Very Good Way To Travel

The top photo is from our first RV trip to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta about 4 years ago.  This is a spectacular event to attend in a motorhome or trailer.  You are way closer to the action than if you stayed in a hotel.  Often the balloons land right in the area where you are parked, there is free transport to and from the fiesta, and this is by far the least expensive way to go.

I have been RVing using motorhomes since 1980, so this is my 39th year.  Like almost all travel RVing has it’s pluses and minuses.  If you have not traveled this way start this year.  If you are living outside North America then fly here and rent a motorhome.  Many of my business associates from Europe have done this and really enjoyed themselves.  It is very easy to rent an RV in the United States and you can learn to drive one easily assuming that we are talking about something shorter than 30ft.  For beginners 25ft is a good starting point to rent.  Huge ones like our bus take a LOT more practice to get the driving right.

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This is our Country Coach Affinity and the Jeep Wrangler we tow.  We have owned the bus over ten years and the Jeep for over 5.  Learning to use a big bus like this takes effort, but using a small motorhome or trailer is very easy.  A big rig like what we drive is expensive to maintain and buy.  A small trailer or motorhome is not.  If you already have a truck you are half the way to getting out of town in a trailer.  If you are new to RVing rent first.  My strong recommendation is to rent several times and several different types of motorhomes before you buy.  I cringe when I see posted on RV forums that someone has sold their house and is buying a new $400,000 motorhome and has never been on the road in one before.  What if they don’t like it?  What if you buy a 40 foot bus and your style of RVing is more attuned to a mini motorhome to camp in National and State parks.

Lake peck spilway clouds oly V50

When you RV you go to places in the beautiful United States that are seldom visited by people who travel by plane or car.  Like Fort Peck Montana.  It is one of the most awesome scenery places I have ever been to.  It is way out there in eastern Montana and I only found out about it because I got the AAA tour guide and took their recommendation to go.  I did add just a bit of color to the above photo but this one is right out of the camera.

Fort Peck road lamps minolta ektar

The above shot of the lake at Fort Peck is exactly how I got the photo back from the developer.  I shot it with a 30+ year old Olympus OM2n and Kodak Ekar film.  And North Coast Photographic in Carlsbad CA developed it.  If you use film and need a reliable lab that will turn out shots like the one above use North Coast.  They happily do mail order.  And are fast.

One of the features of RV travel that I love is the fact that when you close the door on the rig you own or one you have rented and start off your vacation begins.  That does not happen when you are flying off to some place like Italy.  A year and a half ago we flew to Venice and even though American Airlines did a pretty good job it was still about 18 hours of uncomfortable.  Some nit wit behind me played chess on the screen back of my head all night and so kept me awake all night.  No one should call that the beginning of their vacation.  When I get into our bus and take off I am in a big comfortable captain’s chair and I enjoy driving our Country Coach.  I also like the fact that once we get there we have a Jeep Wrangler to drive and often go to places most cars cannot.

We have not been out in our coach since the end of last summer and I am excited to go.  Of course things can happen like bad weather, bad campsite, crummy restaurant food, but we are not going far and I know the place we are going has hot mineral tubs outside so you can take a warm-hot soak and see the Milky-Way.  Plus we get to take our dog, who keeps us company.  See you on the road.

The Balloon Festival At Albuquerque Should Be On Everyone’s Bucket List

First off, the only good way to see this event is by using an RV.  The main balloon event is the mass ascension and that happens starting just after dawn.  This is very early to get up if you are staying in a hotel.  The second event is the glow which happens close to dusk.  Again, better to be a short shuttle bus away to your rig than try to fight the traffic to get back to your hotel.

Morning mass ascension
Morning mass ascension

I also recommend you stay at the on site park grounds in your RV.  You can book a tour through people like Escapees, FMCA, Adventure RV tours, or just make reservations.  If you do not like generator noise book into the areas with power to them.  The other big advantage to staying on site is you can take the free shuttle bus.  There is very heavy traffic getting to the events and the shuttle bus means you don’g have to fight the traffic.

This balloon is huge.  About 80-100 ft high.
This balloon is huge. About 80-100 ft high.

You want to book for the entire festival as some days the balloon show does not take place.  Winds are too high, it rains, and so on.  For us the mass ascension the first days we the best.  The last day they did not even have it as the winds were too high.

Somehow these guys always stuck together.
Somehow these guys always stuck together.

I do recommend you go to the balloon museum.  It is really well put together and very interesting.

So put this event on your bucket list and go.  Book early.

Life In The Slower Lane

After several decades of life in the faster lane it feels good to try letting others pass.  I did not decide to do or try this it just happened.  Now it feels normal to not always push to be first.  Instead of focusing on getting there the process or journey becomes part of the enjoyment if you are in the slower lane.  At least that is how it seems to me.  RVing, enjoying simpler things, pets, taking pictures, and reflecting on how all this fits together is part of giving up the rat race.

manzanita b + dog
Frazier on the beach in Oregon.

Life in the slower lane is not spending a lot of time with a “bucket list”.  Sky diving is likely not going to add as much to your enjoyment of life as spending time trying to get to know someone or working a little on a hobby you love.

Try driving a little slower.  You save gas, it is safer, you enjoy the trip more.

I remember my father saying one time, “I used to get headaches all the time, I have not had one since I retired”.  I used to get headaches nearly every day.  As I have reduced my stress, work, and moved to the slower lane, my headaches have become fewer as the process proceeds.

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo

I volunteer at the Zoo.  I help people find things and assist them if they need a cart to pick them up or fall.  This is very relaxing.  Sometimes hard work, but no pressure.

Since I try and relate things in this blog to RVs I want to include that RVing tends to be a very relaxing lifestyle.  Not that there are not stress inducing events such as breakdowns or traffic jams, but if you are not in a hurry breakdowns just take some time to put things right.  And for the most part you can avoid traffic jams.  RVing also is quite cheap.  Not needing a lot of money tends to reduce stress.  Of course you can add stress to the RV lifestyle by trading motorhomes every year or so.  That way they cost you a fortune and you never really learn about them and how they work before you have a new one with different idiosyncrasies.  

playing with grandkids
playing with grandkids

My advice, next time you feel stress relax and slow down.

 

Traveling By RV Causes You To Interact With Fellow Travelers.

Travel by RV in my experience gives you many more opportunities to mingle with people than travel by air or car.  We travel with a very cute and friendly Airedale Terrier.  And this almost completely assures you of meeting other RV travelers.  Take a walk through the RV campground and a couple of people will ask, “what kind of dog is that”?

Frazier on walk

And then people ask, “what kind of motorhome is that”?

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When you travel by air, rent a car, and stay in a hotel many times you interact with no one on a personal basis.  The same is true when you travel by car and stay in hotels.  Not always, but most of the time there is very limited interaction between yourself and others on a personal basis.

Some motorhome rigs really attract people.  We had a GMC motorhome for quite a while and that was a huge attention getter.  People would just walk up to tell you about the adventures they had when they were younger and someone they knew had a GMC.

GMC motorhome
GMC motorhome

Or if you buy one of the new Winnebago Braves I guarantee you will draw a crowd at every campground you stay at.

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I have to say I love this new Brave.  It is exactly the same length as our old GMC and for many uses this is the perfect size for a motorhome you are going to travel in.  It is not really big enough to live in full time, but 26′ is a great travel size.  Small enough to camp anywhere and travel without a tow car.  But big enough to be very comfortable on a vacation.

So which place would you rather be?

RV campground
RV campground
Holiday Inn Room
Holiday Inn Room

I like the first one better.  But everyone has their own preferences.

Private RV Parks Are More For The 55+ Crowd

This summer we have been spending much of our time in public RV parks.  The is a switch from our usual trips which generally include more privately owned parks.  For the 55+ crowd who motorhome you will find more people of that description in private parks as compared to publicly owned parks.

Beach Near State Park In Oregon
Beach Near State Park In Oregon

We stayed for a week near an awesome beach next to the cute town of Manzanita.  This is a huge campground.  Out of maybe 250-300 sites that were 95+% full the whole time were were there I did not see one other motorhome of 38’+.  We were the only one.  Even though this park has lots of spaces capable of fitting bigger rigs.

We enjoyed our stay here and will go back, but for those RV campers over 55 looking for other RVers of similar age and some commonality, this is not the best place for you.  The average camper here was either in a tent or had a small towable.  Most of the motorhomes were in the range of 25-30′.  The average age was more like 30-35 for the adults.  And there were lots and lots of kids.  No sewers in the hookups either.

I like walking around the RV park with my dog and striking up conversations with people.  In my opinion this is easier to do with people of a somewhat similar age to you.

 

Country Coaches Are Well Made Motorhomes

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We have owned our 2002 Country Coach Affinity for just under 5 years now.  We have added about 30,000 miles.  In my opinion our Country Coach is a well made and good performing motorhome.  Is it better than the other motorhomes out there?  I don’t know, but will say that it is by far the best of the motorhomes that I have owned or rented.  I will list a few reasons why I am of this opinion.

Full Recreational set up.

  1. I enjoy driving it.  It took me a little while to get used to the size, but after doing that I find that I look forward to time behind the wheel.  It is steady on the road even in wind or big trucks passing you.  It goes up or down big hills and mountains with ease, and does not overheat.  On good roads it is almost silent at highway speed.
  2. It is beautiful inside and out.  First class materials are used everywhere.  High quality leather upholstery.  Beautiful carpet and floors.  Custom Corian countertops.  Top end fixtures, lights, shower, faucets, wood, wood finish, paint, clear coat.  And so on.  Our clear coat is starting to have some problems on the curved part of the roof.  But the paint itself is amazingly color fast after 12 years in the sun.
  3. Top Quality mechanical and electrical.  CAT C12 motor that has plenty of power and seems to be very reliable.  Wires are all laid out carefully and are marked.  Two heating systems.  Diesel aqua hot type and roof heat pumps.  Two hot water heating systems.  Diesel boiler and electric heat.  Built in surge protector and water filter.  Basement doors hung with piano hinges for precision and durability.  Well made slide out trays in basement.  All electric coach with dual inverters and all AGM batteries.  All brass yacht type catches on cabinets.  Very well insulated.  R20 roof and dual pane windows.
  4. The high opinion of most owners and motorhome owners.  Many times the opinions of people at large means something.  In this case the almost uniform high opinion of others of the Country Coach product concurs with mine.

Campground Mt Shasta

Is our Country Coach perfect, no.  I have things fixed all the time.  But when you use something like this you always have a list of things needing attention.

If I were to buy another motorhome today I would first look for a Country Coach.  I am happy with my decision to buy five years ago.

Public Campgrounds VS Private (Commercial) Campgrounds

Emegrant Lake Oregon

Many want views like this from their campgrounds.  So do we.  This is a very nice public campground in Ashland OR.  It is called Emigrant Lake CG.  Not only do you get great views like this, but it is also fully equipped with full hookups and 50 amp power.  It is also 100% full.  Even though it is away from all road noise there are lots of activities here like jet skiing, fairly noisy dogs, and lots of kids.  And noisy neighbors very close to us sitting outside playing loud music.  Don’t get me wrong, for me this is a 8 out of 10 park.  Off season this is likely a 9 out of 10 park.  If there was wifi I would rate 1 point higher. Wifi in my opinion is a basic utility these days needed by almost everyone.  There is good 4G Verizon.

SP train from 50's

The previous couple of nights we stayed at a private park located in the Cal Expo area of downtown Sacramento CA.  That park was right near the wonderful Old Town Sacramento Railroad Museum where I took the above picture.  They even let my wife and I into the museum for free because I volunteer for CA State Parks.  The Cal Expo RV park had either asphalt or gravel/dirt spaces.  Their utilities were also complete with good 50 amp power.  A very nice fenced in dog park.  Plus wifi free that actually worked well.  Good 4G Verizon.  This was a noisy park due to freeway noise and moderate train noise.  The cost was about the same as the public campground.

Old Town Sacramento
Old Town Sacramento

Close to the Cal Expo park was shopping and eating in a great old refurbished Sacramento as it was in the 1800’s.  Both these parks cost about the same.  How would I rate this park.  Harder to do because I don’t like noise.  Because of the bare gavel and no site development at all besides utilities I am going to rate it a 7-8.  7 if you don’t like freeway noise and 8 if you don’t mind.  This park was about 60% full.

Bakersfield RV Resort
Bakersfield RV Resort

The above image is from the resort’s web site.  A couple nights before we stayed for a couple of nights at the Bakersfield RV Resort. This is one case where the word resort is true.  This is one of the best private parks amenity wise I have ever stayed at.  Very spacious sites with some grass.  Good wifi.  Very nice pool and hot tube.  Clean bathrooms and showers.  Very friendly staff.  Free DVD’s from lobby.  A good restaurant.  Not great but good food.  The freeway was a couple blocks away but you could definitely hear it.  We also noticed lots of police-ambulance noises.  This park is a 10.  It made staying in a town that is definitely not a 10 pretty good.  I did not love the noise, but the facility is so nice I am still going to rate a 10.

Conclusion.  Which is better, public or private parks?  In my opinion it depends entirely on the park.  I think generalizing does not work well.  As we continue to RV we are getting better at picking places to stay.  I generally use all the information available to pick places.  This includes, RVparkreviews.com, Woodalls-Good Sam ratings, Google ratings, Google maps & other maps.  In general planning out RV routes and places to stay is very laborious.  It takes me a lot of effort and work to do it.  I find if you just wing it you end up at places you don’t like well and skip attractions you want to go to.