You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘full-timer’ tag.

A New Year reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV! And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot to schedule those yearly rig check-ups that usually get overlooked while you are on-the-road.

 Hope 2016 brings you safe travels! 🙂

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A friendly reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV at the first of the New Year! And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot to schedule those yearly rig check-ups that usually get overlooked while you are on-the-road.

 Hope 2015 brings you safe travels! 🙂

Photo by H.S. Cooper © PVC Flag Pole

Photo by H.S. Cooper © PVC Flag Pole

If you have been in a campground, especially during a flag-holiday, you have probably seen those rotating PVC-pipe flag poles. We have seen some really creative ones. People have taken the basic pattern and added a section for a name plaque or solar lights (great in parks with no street lights so your flag is lit in the evening) or have painted the pipe either black or silver.

Usually you can find at least one person in a campground who makes them. If you want to make one yourself, there are free instructions online.

You can find everything you need to complete one at a Lowe’s or Home Depot. A good quality U.S. flag will cost you $20 – $30. Less expensive ones may fade or fray, so keep that in mind when you purchase one.

When placing your flag pole at your site, be mindful of your neighbors and the landscapers. We have seen folks place their flag pole a little too close to their neighbor’s site and when their neighbors opened their car-door they emerge into a tangled flag! Also try not to place the flag in a lawn mowers path. In addition, remember to remove your flag pole during rain and wind storms.

1) Do you live in a RV for 12 months out of the year?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO… you must live in a house, apartment or condo for a portion of the year. Sorry, but you aren’t a Full-Time RVer. You are just a Seasonal RVer. But don’t worry, there is hope for you yet! 🙂

2) Do you have a rental storage facility or a place where you keep items too large or numerous to store in your RV?

If you answered NO, continue below. If you answered YES… then you are not yet ready to be a Full-Time RVer. You may think you are a Full-Timer and can tell people you are but deep down, you really aren’t ready to part with the holiday decorations, extra clothes, “cool” 70s furniture or stuff you bought from yard sales the last 30 years…If you sit down and calculate the current resale value of the items you have in storage and your monthly/annual storage bill, you may find yourself making a trip to the local flea market to sell those “costly” treasures. With the storage gone, you’ll have the money to get those wheels moving and be one step closer to being a real Full-Timer.

3) If you made it this far, CONGRATS! You are a Full-Timer! But let’s see how devoted you are to the lifestyle… Do you periodically find yourself wondering which state you are in?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO, it sounds like you may be a Full-Timer who is stuck in the same area. Don’t forget that RVs come with wheels!

4) Can you remember the last time you visited an airport, bus or train station and/or the last time you slept in a hotel?

If you answered NO, you are a real Full-Time RVer! CONGRATS! If you answered YES… don’t let any other die-hard Full-Timers know or they’ll tease you! 😉

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rose O’Neill home and statue

So you planned to take that dream trip across the country to a national park or visit that must-see museum only to find out it’s closed… What’s a family to do about vacation plans now?

There are many wonderful hidden treasures across the USA and if you take a closer look, a few are probably right in your own backyard!

The first thing to do is visit an area’s local tourist or visitor center website. Often they will list attractions, recreation and events and have links to other websites that contain more details. Don’t forget to look for small museums, historical sites and botanical gardens! And there are still places that offer free admission, but appreciate donations. Your support of these smaller attractions and non-profit organizations helps keep them open. You may find yourself enjoying the less popular attractions as they are not as crowded and their volunteers are eager to share information about the site with visitors.

So before you begin to panic about your upcoming travel plans, browse the web! Like TV shows? Find out about your favorite and visit places from the show, like the Walton’s Mountain Museum (Shuyler, VA). Enjoy history and art? Check out Rose O’Neill’s home “Bonniebrook” (Walnut Shade, MO). Love sci-fi? Drop by the International UFO Museum & Research Center (Roswell, NM). The possibilities are endless!

If you had planned to stay in a park lodge or campground, don’t fret! Most private campgrounds offer cabins with basic bunks and beds to deluxe cabins completely furnished.  Ask if they have discounts, as most campgrounds will offer a free night if you stay longer than a week. Although private campgrounds are a bit higher priced than national and state parks, consider ones with additional amenities like playground, scheduled activities/events, ice cream socials, free breakfast, Cable TV and WiFi to get the most for your money.

This is a beautiful country and there are plenty of ways to experience and explore the USA outside of it’s national parks and museums.

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Walton's Mountain Museum

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Walton’s Mountain Museum

  

On the Road to Disaster by H.S. Cooper

If you haven’t thought about what to do in an emergency situation while on the road, consider some pre-planning with your family before making those travel plans. For more information on preparing for natural disasters, check out my book On the Road to Disaster.

Although it’s hard to escape flu-season, there are some things you can do to protect your family from disease while you are on the road…

Have hand sanitizer in your vehicle. Make sure you have a small bottle for each person (put it in each person’s door or the center council and mark their name on it). Each time a person gets into the vehicle, they should clean their hands. If the person handled other public items prior to getting in (such as touching a door or shopping cart), make sure he or she wipes off their door handle, door lock or window area (anywhere that is touched) with a handy-wipe. Also make sure to have a liter bag in your vehicle to dispose of dirty handy-wipes and facial tissue. We dispose of our liter bag every stop.

Have individual handy-wipes in your purse, pocket or backpack and use them! Do not rely on public restrooms to have filled soap containers or even hot water. I am surprised when I do come across a fully-stocked public restroom. If you are an RVer currently on the road, it’s best that you don’t rely on public restrooms. Use your own RV if you can get access to the bathroom with the slides in. Some RVers don’t like using their own bathroom during transit because they don’t like carrying extra water or don’t want to have anything in their holding tanks. You don’t have to have your water tank filled to use your toilet. You can use purchase hand sanitizer that requires no water to wash your hands and place a gallon (or two) jug of water in your bathroom sink to use to flush.

Another thing to avoid is eating out while you are on the road. We’re RVers – we’re self-contained! We shouldn’t rely on McDs or Flying J to feed us every hundred miles. Make some sandwiches or an easy-fix meal before you leave. Pull over at a rest area or find a parking spot wherever you fuel up and grab a bite.

One thing that bothers us is the lack of sanitation in restaurants. Ever have a sickly cashier walk over to get your fries? Ever see the cook come out of the restroom wearing his or her apron? And people licking their fingers and picking up utensils at buffets… Ekk! Keep your eyes posted for potential problems. And if you can, call them out on it. Let the manager know what you saw so they can take action – it could save someone’s life!

Most RVers do have their own cell phones and computers; however, if you don’t and have to rely on a pay phone or visit a local library to log-on, remember to use handy-wipes over the phone and number pad and the computer keyboard and mouse.

These are just a few ways to protect your family while travelling. With the spread of disease and a major flu epidemic today, this is a concern you shouldn’t take lightly.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

A friendly reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV at the first of the New Year! And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot to schedule those yearly check-ups that usually get overlooked while you are on-the-road.

 Hope 2013 brings you safe travels! 🙂

The first book inA 'Class A' Stash by H.S. Cooper my new Campground Mystery series, A ‘Class A’ Stash,  is now available in paperback or hardback (with dust jacket). Readers can also read a sneak peak of the second book in the series, The Propane Game – available in 2013. Books can be purchased online.

On the Road to Disaster by H.S. Cooper

From fires in the west to tropical storms in the east… this summer is providing extreme weather for those travelling and camping.

If you haven’t thought about what to do in an emergency situation, consider some pre-planning with your family before you head out on the road this season.

Although RVs can withstand moderate winds, they are not intended to be used for shelter in any type of severe storm. All Campers should invest in a NOAA weather radio or weather alert radio. A good one can be purchased for around $30 and in the event a storm Watch or Warning is issued, you will have the latest information.

For more information on preparing for natural disasters, check out my book On the Road to Disaster by H.S. Cooper.

Clear skies in the forecast for tomorrow's long haul...

A few days ago we got up in the dark AM hours to hit the road… 8 hours later… we found ourselves setting up at another RV park.

Unfortunately, a thunderstorm was rumbling in the distance and we had to set up as quickly as we could before the rain came pouring down.

Imagine our surprise on the following day when we realized our 50 amp electrical cord was damaged… but closer inspection revealed this wasn’t our electric cord! This cord appears to have been clamped at one time as well as being extremely faded on the RV plug (female) end.

Now at the previous campground we took the truck and did some all-day sight-seeing one day. The day before (at this same campground), a man came around to our site to install an electric meter at the pole. Our first thought was perhaps the maintenance man removed our cord and somehow damaged it. But again, at closer inspection we realized it wasn’t ours at all.

Even if the maintenance man somehow damaged the cord and tried to fix it with a clamp, then removed the clamp… the impression dug so deep into the cord and the fading of the plug at the RV (female) end could not have happened overnight.

Although at this point it didn’t matter, we needed to have a safe electrical cord. Of course, when you need a RV part, there are no dealers around! Fortunately we found a mobile home repair supplier with a selection of RV parts about 50 minutes away. They did not have a replacement cord, but had a new 50 amp (male) plug for us to fix this one. It will have to make do until we can get to a RV dealer or supplier and replace the entire cord.

We have heard crazy stories and experienced equally crazy things during our RVing years, but this… well, we are still amp’d up over this.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Fortunately the forecast is for clear skies… 😉

Okay, so maybe not the best time to go for a swim!

Normally, when it appears a thunderstorm is headed your way… you wouldn’t think of trekking to the beach… but then again, we’re tourists and…it’s the beach!

Our trip to Perdido Key State Park was rather short (and wet!), but it is a beautiful park with plenty of white sand, dunes and sea oats to make even the grumpiest Snowbird grin. 😉

If you find yourself on a beautiful sunny (or even not-so-sunny) day in this region of Florida, don’t hesitate to drive out to Perdido Key. Entrance to the park is only $3 per vehicle and the park is open 8 AM until sunset.

For more information:  http://floridastateparks.org/perdidokey

Shelter from the storm... well, until the wind started up!

On the road again!

What’s bright orange and goes “RRRRRrrrrr” at 7:00 am and then goes thud at 7:01 am? That would be a wood-chipper parked in the site across from us this morning, followed by me falling out of bed!

I’ll go out on a limb (You knew I would work that one in!) and say that the landscapers didn’t know about the “quiet time” hours until 8 am. However, it would have been nice if management would have told them for the sake of their sleepy guests…

Regardless, I’m wondering why suddenly healthy trees need to be removed. No doubt, some crazed Camper (I’ll be good – I won’t say some silly Sap!) complained about limbs, leaves, pinecones or some other nonsense on their insanely white chemically-treated RV roof.

Sorry, Woody! No vacancy at this campground!

Now I don’t chain myself to trees, but I do appreciate and respect them for all they do for us and fellow creatures. I enjoy their shade in summer and their heat in winter. I enjoy watching the little green buds in spring and the big flashy colors in fall. I enjoy hearing and seeing the birds and squirrels carry out their daily routine around them. Who can’t but love trees?

And I certainly understand that in some places, like campgrounds and RV resorts, trees may stand in the way (I let that one slide!) of new development or sites… yet, I can’t help but wonder about existing trees that appear healthy and are out of the road (literally).

Assuming there wasn’t a sale on tree removal and wood-chipping services this week, my guess is that complaints about tree “stuff” on RV roofs and awnings had prompted their removal.

And this is rather sad.

There are tree-less places with level concrete sites for RVers who are anti-tree. They are called Walmart parking lots.

Oh, what a hot summer… funny how most of it I’ve spent thinking about some of the “cool” places we’ve visited – quite literally! 😉

One of my most memorable would be our winter visit of Arches National Park. If you think the sandstone arches and unusual rock formations are amazing in the summer, you will definitely need to visit the park in winter.

If you visit the park in the winter and plan to walk the trails, make sure you are prepared for changing weather conditions.

For additional information: http://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/index.htm

If you ever find yourself near Penn Valley, California… and you’re just itching to try your hand at panning for gold… make sure you spend a few hours at the South Yuba River State Park.

The highlight of the park is the covered bridge. Amazing photos and information about its history can be found in the visitor’s center.

During the summer, the park hosts gold panning demonstrations. You can purchase inexpensive equipment in the visitor’s center and pan for gold right under the bridge. Don’t be shocked when you look into the water and see gold glitter! Although it’s not the “big stuff”, it is fun to see a pan full of gold water. 😉

If you do pan, you should take water-proof boots as the water is very cold after a few minutes. And if you take a picnic lunch,  keep it in your vehicle until you are ready for it. We found the squirrels were hoping to “pan-out” with our picnic while we were panning! 😉

There is some old equipment and buildings in the park which add to the history of the area. Within walking distance is an old cemetery. There are several hiking trails, one is even wheel-chair accessible.

There are different parking areas, but the main area down by the bridge is paved and has adequate room for tows and smaller RVs.

For more information: http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=496

When our fellow Campers learn we are Full-Timers, we usually get questioned about the lifestyle. Many have experience camping and towing a RV, but they don’t realize there is more to it than throwing a few things in the rig and heading down the road.

Your current RV may not be ideal for you if you decide to go full-time. One of the first things to consider is driving your rig. Are you okay with driving and towing long-distances? Can you back up? Not all campgrounds have pull-thrus and if you rely on GPS, you may find yourself backing down a road during your trip. (Yes, that story may make a top posting one day! 😉 ) If you decide on a fifth-wheel or travel trailer then you will need a pickup truck that can tow your RV. Keep in mind the towing weights when considering a truck/RV.

If you decide on a motor home or diesel pusher then you may require a vehicle to tow behind. And consider very carefully if you choose not to have a tow vehicle – especially if you decide on a larger one. Every time you require groceries or supplies, you’d have to pack up everything and drive your home into town. Unless you have other options – motorcycle, bicycle, hiking – to get to a nearby town, you should consider having a tow vehicle.

Another driving factor to consider is that your family can drive it. If something happens to you, could your spouse or travel companions drive it? Too many times have we seen a spouse need someone assist with transporting their rig when the other was ill or hospitalized.

Is your RV the size you need to be a Full-Timer? If you are going to go full-time, then everything you own will be inside. That means you need storage space, as well as enough room to function. We have a two-bedroom fifth-wheel. Everyone has their own space – no crowding, no struggling to store things. Smaller rigs may seem too small for you, but don’t forget, the more slides you have, the larger the rig becomes. And driving-wise, how big of rig can you handle? Quite honestly, some roadways are just not made for larger RVs. I think we have been along most of them! 😉 So keep in mind that although bigger is roomier, it is a lot more to handle on the road and even inside smaller campgrounds.

Another thing to keep in mind is that everything you own is in the RV and you will need storage. And I don’t mean sticking your frying pans in an outside compartment. I mean real, functional storage space. We have seen folks crawl up their roof to the add-on storage tote and pull-out extra rolls of toilet tissue… we know folks who have to store their clothes in an outside compartment… This is just not practical.

There are extra things that will eat your storage space, such as a washer and dryer. Keep in mind that the majority of campgrounds have laundries so don’t feel pressured to get a washer and dryer in your rig. A dinette booth versus a table is another space saver. Sure, dinette tables look nice in RVs, yet booths allow under-seat storage. So be aware of your needs and available storage areas.

Slides help make your RV a “home” and the more you have, the more room adds to your rig. Yet they have major downfalls. Number one is that most campgrounds (even those that advertise Big Rig Friendly) aren’t always slide-friendly. You may find that your slide(s) can’t go out because of trees, utility posts, cement barriers and other campground obstacles. This can be quite frustrating, especially if you have wide and/or large slides like we do. We were in Arizona in the middle of desert and a campground we stopped at put us on a site with the only visible tree within a mile radius, which, of course, blocked a slide! 😉

Another thing to consider with slides is that they aren’t as heavily insulated as the rest of your camper. So if you are going to a colder region, you need to keep in mind that you may need to leave your slides in to stay warm. Slides have limited electrical outlets (if any) or no furnace/air-condition ducts. Keep this in mind if you are in a hot-cold region. Slides can also be a pain if you can’t put them out. If you are traveling down the road and need to use the bathroom, can you even get to your bathroom? Some slides block off areas of your rig and you can’t use them. So keep in mind what your rig would look like with the slides in – could you get to your bathroom? Bedroom? Stove? Refrigerator? If you were blacktop boondocking a few days with the slides in, could you still live in your camper? These are things to keep in mind when planning on going full-time.

How far are you going in your rig? Are you going to be on-the-road Full-Timers or are you going to find 2-3 places to set-up camp a year? Will you drive it across the country or will you just drive it a few states away? Make sure you can handle it and that your routes (like mountains) are something your rig can handle. We’ve driven down roads that have brought our curtains down. I remember we made a sharp turn on a clover-leaf exit and the refrigerator snapped open. Imagine our surprise at the rest area when we entered and found groceries on the floor… not to mention a broken jar of dill pickles.

If you travel to a colder region (or even if it gets colder in a warmer region) that your rig is well-insulated and that you have the means or the means to protect your pipes/hoses from freezing. Many RVs have polar package that you can upgrade and get tank heaters, etc… It is definitely something to keep in mind if you decide to go full-time.

That’s some of the things you should consider before leaping into Full-Timing with your current RV. The best thing you can do is think about what you need to suit your family and make a check-list. Your “weekend” RV may not be practical for the life of a Full-Timer. So keep some of these things in mind before you consider Full-Timing in it.

We have recently been onI-10 and I-75 (Florida) and have seen diesel prices from $4.01 to $4.27. It didn’t bother us as much this time… we didn’t take the rig! Yep! These Full-Timers decided to do the “hotel thing” for a change. I guess you could say we took a vacation from the campground-life for a few days. 😉

Don’t let rising fuel prices keep you grounded this summer. There are plenty of places to travel, right in your own “backyard”. And if you find yourself on 1-10 in Crestview (FL) or in the Destin/Fort Walton region, then you’re just a short distance from the Air Force Armament Museum.

The museum is free and open every day except Sunday and federal holidays. If you find yourself arriving early, don’t worry! There are over 20 planes to view outside the museum.

For more information and directions, visit their website at: http://www.afarmamentmuseum.com

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park in Vantage, Washington is just over 7,000 acres. The visitor center overlooks the Columbia River. When petrified wood was discovered in the area the park was created as a national historic preserve. The Forest  is a registered national “natural” landmark. Although we didn’t camp there (just stopped for the day), they do have camping year-round. It is an amazing drive along the Columbia River and you’ll find rock shops nearby to stop and buy souvenirs.

Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City, California is well worth a visit! The lighthouse is actually on a small island just offshore. The lighthouse is only open (during season) when the tide permits folks to “walk” over. On our first visit we actually missed it, but fortunately there are so many other scenic sites in the area, that we had no problem returning later in the day. 🙂

NOTE: Information and driving directions to Battery Point Lighthouse can be found at: http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=58

 

 

Somewhere in Oregon... I think... 😉

 

1) Do you live in a RV for 12 months out of the year?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO… you must live in a house, apartment or condo for a portion of the year. Sorry, but you aren’t a Full-Time RVer. You are just a Seasonal RVer. But don’t worry, there is hope for you yet! 🙂

2) Do you have a rental storage facility or a place where you keep items too large or numerous to store in your RV?

If you answered NO, continue below. If you answered YES… then you are not yet ready to be a Full-Time RVer. You can tell people you are a Full-Timer, but deep down, you really aren’t ready to part with the holiday decorations, extra clothes, “cool” 70s furniture or stuff you bought at yard sales the last 30 years…If you sit down and calculate the current resale value of the items you have in storage and your monthly/annual storage bill, you may find yourself making a trip to the local flea market to sell those “costly” treasures. With the storage gone, you’ll have the money to get those wheels moving and be one step closer to being a real Full-Timer.

3) If you made it this far, CONGRATS! You are a Full-Timer! But let’s see how devoted you are to the lifestyle… Do you periodically find yourself wondering which state you are in?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO, it sounds like you may be a Full-Timer who is stuck in the same area. Don’t forget that RVs come with wheels!

4) Can you remember the last time you visited an airport (to fly somewhere) or the last time you slept in a hotel?

If you answered NO, you are a real Full-Time RVer! CONGRATS! If you answered YES… don’t let any other Full-Timers know or they’ll tease you! 😉

After a winter storm, the beach was littered with debris and driftwood. (WA)

We have winter camped in the Pacific Northwest and dealt with wind, snow and ice storms… but we never thought we would have to prepare ourselves for winter camping in Florida. With fluctuating  temperatures this season, we have had to watch for signs of excess moisture which can lead to mold and mildew.

Each closet and storage area has a Damp-Rid (http://www.damprid.com) container which is checked (drained and refilled, if needed) every two weeks. We have talked with other RVers who prefer to not have a “spill-able” container (lower half of the container collects water, while the top half or basket contains Damp-Rid flakes) and they prefer other methods, such as placing charcoal briquettes in a shallow pan or bowl.

Some folks prefer to use a dehumidifier. We don’t use one as we have heard so many stories against – from “sweating walls” to the chore of emptying it every day and even finding the space to place one.

If you find yourself with a moisture problem, you should evaluate your storage areas. Boxes draw moisture and eliminating those by placing items in sealed plastic containers or SpaceBags® (https://www.spacebag.com) will help. Also make sure your storage areas are not too crowded to allow some air flow. Inside storage closets that contain clothes or paperwork should be left cracked open while you are settled in an area.

Check around your windows for moisture. And if you have a roll of silver sunshade shoved into each window, you should keep an eye on those for mildew, especially around the edges.

Watch your humidity inside and either run your air condition when you can or crack open a window or vent to keep the humidity low.

If you are prepared for it, you can keep moisture under control before anything develops to “dampen” your winter camping experience.

After the winter "Southern Storm" that went through the SE states. (FL)

We recently saw the Tall Ship Peacemaker that has been docked for a couple weeks in Panama City. After several years of Full-Timing (and enjoying every minute of it), we actually discussed what it would be like to trade in the rig for a boat… Hmm… guess we wouldn’t have to worry about pull-thrus! 😉

If you’ve ever stayed at a campground or RV resort over a holiday or for an extended period of time, odds are the park put on a potluck. For some a potluck is the perfect way to display their culinary talents, while for others it is a nightmare trying to figure out what to bring. 😉

We’ve been to potlucks where folks just ended up bringing a loaf of bread (or in one case, 10 slices) or a container of margarine because they didn’t cook/bake or just didn’t have a special potluck dish to make.

Most parks have an activity director (in season) or a volunteer oversee the event. Parks that require prior registration and/or ticket may have a sign-up sheet indicating what is needed or a list of categories (ie. salad, dessert) to mark down what folks intend on bringing.

Several years ago I found myself signing up for a potluck and, quite frankly, I can cook with the help of box directions, I just would rather not. 😉 But I had planned on attending by myself and I needed to take an item that would serve at least ten people.

I came up with a little appetizer idea that would be easy to store in a small RV refrigerator and if I had any left, would give me something to snack on for a few days. Surprisingly, my idea was a success and I had nothing left! Since then I have made these for a few other occasions and there were just as successful.

1 –  8 oz. Philadelphia Salmon Cream Cheese Spread

1 – 6 ct. Mission Foods 10” Sun-dried Tomato Wraps

AND

1 – 8 oz. Philadelphia Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese Spread

1 – 6 ct. Mission Food 10” Garden Spinach Wraps

Container of party toothpicks

Lay out spinach wrap and spread a generous amount of salmon spread to the edges of the wrap. Roll up wrap and hold roll in place by inserting toothpicks every inch. Slice sections between toothpick sections. Repeat with remaining wraps.

These can be stored in the refrigerator in storage baggies a day before the potluck. Right before the event, neatly arrange appetizers on a plate or serving tray. Make sure to wrap the plate or tray with plastic wrap so the wraps stay fresh. This makes about 15 servings.

Any leftovers can be stored in a baggie in the refrigerator. They make great snacks and last for a couple days.

But if you want to try your hand on something fancy, there are several websites that offer recipes, such as: http://www.potluckrecipes.net/ . 🙂

You see a work-camp job ad that sounds too good to be true… you apply. A week or so later you get a phone call or email from that employer… and you find out what was too good to be true indeed was. In fact, they seem to have forgotten what their ad stated. Or, they apologize for their ad being wrong in the first place. Okay, it happens… but several times over a few weeks?

I have been chatting with other work-campers having the same increase in “bait and switch” offers this season.  Most of the jobs have either had a cut in weekly work hours (that minimize pay) or have increased the number of work hours needed to keep your camp site (and reduces the hours of pay received for hours worked over minimum site hours – if applicable). And a few have actually cut their seasonally help date from May to June and November to Labor Day weekend. This is definitely an inconvenience for those who gave notice to their current employer, only to find out they had nowhere to go for a month (or more) between jobs.

Unfortunately, the work-camp world is not getting any better. More folks are joining the ranks of work-camping only to discover jobs are not paying what they promised. And those who had previously only worked-for-site or volunteer opportunities have found their outside income stretched in these economic conditions and in need of some sort of stipend or wages to supplement the increase in food and fuel costs.

When applying for jobs or responding to employers it is necessary to double-check everything! Don’t assume you get a free site. Some employers are now charging site and/or electricity. Their park may offer WiFi or Cable TV, but don’t assume it is free for work-campers. Many still charge a monthly or weekly fee for these services.

Create a worksheet of questions to ask potential employers. See Know Before You Go for ideas on what you should ask and verify.

It is absolute vital you get a contract, signed by both parties stating the start/end dates, compensation (wages, site, cable…),  job/duties and anything else pertinent to the position. This not only protects the work-camper, but also the employer.  It gives them assurance that you will be there throughout the season or determined period.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be a little smarter in your search and you’ll find the right job situation for you.

 Just a quick reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV!

 And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot those yearly check-ups that usually get overlooked unless you are putting your rig in storage or winterizing it.

 Hope 2011 brings you safe travels! 🙂

  As we travel the country, we pick up an ornament or some little momento that we can hang on that year’s Christmas tree. Yet that tradition has left us with a box of ornaments that don’t get displayed each year.

  Well, that was our excuse for going from a 3 ft. tree to a 6 ft. one anyway. 🙂 Yes, there is a 6 ft. Christmas tree in our fifth-wheel!  And we absolutely love having a large tree again.

   In fact, I’m thinking we could have gotten a 7 ft. one… okay, well, maybe not. At least not this year! 😉

  So if you have been like us, thinking you can’t get one in your home-on-wheels, think again! Just make sure it is a narrow tree and properly secured to the stand.

 If you are a RVer who doesn’t have the storage space or site space for a large flag pole, you may want to consider a garden-size or beaded flag kit.

 I made this beaded flag (left) four years ago and it has been a great  for RV parks where site space is limited. It takes a little patience to make a large flag, but well worth the effort.

Most hardwares, garden centers and hobby shops have a section for garden-size or holiday flags. They require little storage space.

NOTE: If you make a beaded flag, I suggest buying the pony beads in bulk. A great site with beading instructions can be found at Craft Designs 4 You .

Imagine our surprise the other week when we went to put on the new license plate yearly decal and we discovered our current one was removed! Not only did the license bandit(s) take the current year’s decal, but also the last two years underneath! Fortunately we had special screws in the license plate and that wasn’t removed.

Two days prior we had noticed some cobwebs along the back ladder rack and dusted them off. The plate had the decals at that time. So we had narrowed the time down to which two days the decals were removed. Unfortunately we had been gone most of that time. And with the holidays, our “neighbors” had been out-and-about as well. Reporting it proved useless, but at least we left a paper trail.

Since then we have purchased a clear license plate cover (make sure it’s clear, not smoke or some other tint as it is illegal in some states) to guard our plate and decals. And for the time being, we are making daily “walk arounds” to check.

This experience has made us realize how easy it would be for someone (even outside contracted landscapers, maintainance, park visitors, etc…) to remove license plates and decals from RVs parked at a resort, especially those rigs which are sitting empty for an extended period of time.

If you have your RV sitting in a  resort full-time or seasonally, you may want to check your license plate and decals. Ask a friend or “neighbor” to check regularly.

If you find yourself in Pensacola (Florida) or within a day trip, I recommend visiting the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Pensacola lighthouse. Both are located on the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Citizens need to show proper photo ID at the entrance gate.

The museum has adequate parking for larger vehicles, yet the lighthouse has limited parking. Fortunately the lighthouse is across from the museum and if you don’t mind a brief walk before your “climb” up the lighthouse you can leave your rig in the museum parking lot.

Be prepared to spend at least two hours in the museum. There are two floors of exhibits, as well as other attractions (IMAX theater and trolley tour). The museum also has a restaurant, gift shop and library/gallery to enjoy. The lighthouse has an interesting history… and is haunted!

And be sure to take your camera and spare batteries, as you will be sure to take a number of photos.  I took about 600 photos that day.  

National Museum of Naval Aviation

Free Parking and Admission (see website for additional attraction prices)

Museum Open Daily (except holidays) 9 am – 5 pm

www.navalaviationmuseum.org

 

Pensacola Lighthouse

Located across from the National Museum of Aviation

Free Parking / Admission $5 (see website for additional prices and special events)

Open Monday – Saturday 10:30 am – 5:30 pm

http://www.pensacolalighthouse.org/

Check their websites for special Blue Angels dates, especially if you want to view them from the top of the lighthouse. Additional cost for lighthouse climb during Blue Angels schedule.

Several months ago a campground we usually stay at in Texas had river flooding. The sheriff came through and told folks that the river was quickly on the rise and they had to evacuate within the hour. What our friend told us still gives me chills… but basically it was as horrible as one could imagine and one man died trying to hook-up his rig before the water came.

That could have easily been us – any of us -whether you are a weekend camper, seasonal camper or a Full-Timer. After the initial shock of the news, we had a serious discussion of what we would do in a similar situation.

After some brain-storming, we made two scenarios. The first one being a “Grab and Go situation” where we have to evacuate with our tow and abandon the RV and the other being an emergency “rig evacuation” situation.

The first thing we did with each situation is make detailed lists. The lists have been printed out and I have laminated them and placed them on a metal ring. This way no matter how tense of situation (I certainly don’t promise to keep a level head in an emergency!) we know exactly what we are going to do and will not forget anything.

GRAB AND GO SITUATION

Our thought on a Grab and Go situation was that we would be able to pack our pickup truck with enough items to actually live out of the truck if we needed. Items like tarp and tape could make us a shelter either on the back of the truck or from the sides of the truck. Disaster involves everyone in an area and we would not want to completely rely on outside assistance or resources.

(This is just general information from the list as ours is rather specific/detailed. You can make yours as customize yours for your own needs.)

Gather these items first and make sure they are loaded in the tow vehicle:

Cell phone/Charger

Files/Important Documents/Safety or Lock Boxes

Medication (and health-related items, such as diabetic supplies, cane, eyeglasses, neck supports, etc…)

Purse/Valuable Jewelry

All Keys

Laptop Computer /Cords / Flash Drives

Food Kit* (and extra from pantry if time)

Med Kit*

Clothes Kit*

Bottled Water / Sodas / Juices

Flashlights / Batteries

Tool Kit

Area Maps

Camp Stove / Propane/ Cooking Kit

Bedding / Blankets / Pillows

Tarps / Masking or Duct Tape

Heavy Duty Raincoat / Boots (if needed in the situation)

* We have experienced winter storms, hurricanes and wildfires while being Full-Timers. So we actually have a food kit, med kit and clothes kit made up at all times. Our 3 kits actually consist of 2 medium totes. One is devoted to food supplies and the other is filled with medical and hygiene supplies and clothes. The clothes items (for 3 days) are stored inside the tote in Space Bags® (which I recommend to all Full-Timers) to save space and keep them weather-proof. I recommend travel-size items (such as toothpaste) in your kits to save space. Twice a year we remove our items to use and replace them with new items. We joke it’s time to “eat our rations”.

Prep camper second if there is adequate time:

(If the situation is hopeless and you know you will not be able to return to your camper or there won’t be anything left to salvage, such as a flood, then we plan to skip this and quickly evacuate)

Slides in (even if you have to skip securing items to get them)

Awning up (if down)

TV Antenna up (if down) or Satellite Dish (put away)

Appliances unplugged

A/C-Furnace Off

Propane values shut-off (don’t worry about a little food in the refrigerator – not worth it!)

Unplugged and unhooked outside (electric, sewer, cable)

Outside compartments locked

Outside stuff of value placed inside (if some type of storm, secure all outside items if adequate time)

RIG EVACUATION SITUATION

Our thought on a Rig Evacuation situation was that we would be able to hook-up our rig and leave in a short period of time; however, we wanted to ensure our “Grab and Go” items were packed in the truck in case there was a problem and we needed to unhook rapidly later in the evacuation (such as a blocked road or a structural/mechanical problem).

We would first gather items from the Grab and Go list and make sure they are loaded in the tow vehicle. Then we would prep the camper as we normally would, unless there was not adequate time. If time was limited, we would not worry about how items were packed in the cupboards (like wrapped dishes, etc.) If the situation was extremely urgent, once our slides were in we would just reinforce our cupboard pulls with duct tape (we’d worry about the mess later!) and loose items would be placed on the beds or sofa.

We figured that in an extreme situation, we could be out with our rig in thirty minutes. A rather frantic thirty minutes, but with the list and pre-made kits, we could do it.

It took us awhile to think about this and I can’t imagine trying to think about what to do and take in a hurried situation! I recommend anyone who may find themselves in an evacuation situation to take at least a few minutes with your family / traveling companions to think about what you would do. Those extra minutes could possible save a life.

rig in brf pull-thru

At least one campground in our directory truly is "Big Rig Friendly"

Have you pulled into a campground advertised as “Big Rig Friendly” only to arrive and see a maze of overgrown trees and sharp turns? Or perhaps you were lured in by the promises of “Free WiFi”… until you found out that the wireless service only extended to two campsites – both of which were already occupied by permanent residents?

Normally we gumble to other RVers and put a big X across their listing in our campground directories so that we know to avoid that campground next trip. Yet the last year of travel has left us with two directories filled with big X’s and seriously questioning the standards campground directories have.

One of the campgrounds we recently stopped at in Biloxi, MS was advertised as “Big Rig Friendly” with pull-thru sites. After passing the campground twice (they had 2 sets of directions in both directories and naturally both were wrong – as well as the omission that the campground entrance was wedged in-between two businesses along a busy highway). Once we did find our way, we were rather taken back by the appearance. This “campground” appeared to be a mobile home park with no RVs or RV spaces in sight. Although it was difficult to be sure as there were so many large trees that it blocked the sun and our headlights came on! After driving around half of the park, trying to avoid trees and keep low-lying limbs from damaging our roof, we found the office only to be “greeted” by a woman who told us within five minutes of conversation that she hated working there. Then after she escorted us to their Big Rig pull-thru, we had to tell her no. The site was on a grade and not even close to being level. We figured it would take all our blocking (and more) to even keep the door open.  Not to mention the two trees that would have prevented our slides from coming out!

 Another one we stopped at in Marianna, FL sounded peaceful and a good place to stay for a day or two. That was until we pulled up to the office “Stop” sign and an extremely rude woman came out saying who had to move off the road (it was a two-way road and there was no parking anywhere in sight) so that her residents could get out. We weren’t in anyone’s way and there was no one coming at the time. Then while we were trying to figure out how to leave, a car headed out on this two-way road and she flagged them down and they stopped beside us. We figured a way to turn around and leave, but now she had this vehicle blocking our path to turn around.  After they left she returned her attention to us and had the nerve to ask us what we wanted! Somewhat reluctantly we asked if they had any big rig sites (as advertised) for the night. She said there was and pointed to a wooded area. We couldn’t see any RVs in the area and asked if we could see the site first as we are long and have 4 slides, one of which is a double-room. She said, and I quote her directly, “Oh, you can’t take that thing back there.” When I questioned if we couldn’t get our rig back there to look that must mean we wouldn’t fit in the first place, she ignored me and started off on how people with 45’ rigs towing boats and cargo trailers had been back there. So we just started up the truck again and left her standing there. It’s folks like that we encourage more of us to overnight at truck stops and Walmart parking lots!

 Campgrounds may have “Big Rig” sites, but that does not make navigating the campground “Big Rig Friendly”. Dodging trees and low-lying limbs and turning corners on narrow streets (especially with obstacles like little street lamps, fixed trash bins and concrete curbing) is not “Big Rig Friendly” – it’s a nightmare. Especially if you have been on the road all day and eager to set up and rest!

There needs to be some national standard in campground directories. The days of rating a campground on how clean its shower house is just aren’t enough for modern RVers. We need someone to set some guidelines for these campgrounds, especially those who are using terms such as “Big Rig Friendly” and the promise of WiFi so loosely.

Until then, we will continue X-ing our way through the country and warning other RVers of those campgrounds.

If you have been in a campground, especially during a flag-holiday, you have probably seen those rotating PVC-pipe flag poles. Lately we have been seeing some really creative ones. People have taken the basic pattern and added a section for a name plaque or solar lights (great in parks with no street lights so your flag is lit in the evening) or have painted the pipe either black or silver.

Usually you can find at least one person in a campground who makes them. If not, here is a link with directions: http://www.missouriscenicrivers.com/PVCflagpoleplans.html

You can find everything you need to complete one at a Lowe’s or Home Depot. A good quality U.S. flag will cost you $20 – $30. Less expensive ones may fade or fray, so keep that in mind when you purchase one.

When placing your flag pole at your site, be mindful of your neighbors and the landscapers. We have seen folks place their flag pole a little too close to their neighbor’s site and when their neighbors opened their car-door they emerge into a tangled flag! Also try not to place the flag in a lawn mowers path. In addition, we remove our flag pole during rain and wind storms.

NOTE: If you have designed your own and would like to email me a photo to post here, I would be happy to include it along with your name and information. 🙂

I recently had surgery and found that it took longer to recovery than I anticipated. I hope to catch up before the end of the year though – especially with our travel adventures for the 2010!

I hope everyone who is on-the-road had a lovely season and is at their winter home (or on the way). It appears to be cold all over the country, so no escaping that winter chill! Even here in Florida we have had a few nights in the 30s. Brrr!

Thanks to all who emailed me while I was offline! I wish I had time to respond to you all, but if I did, I wouldn’t have any time to post more. 🙂

For those smart enough not to cancel their reservation along the Florida Gulf this summer – they were in for a treat. Most of the summer saw warm temps, sunny days and plenty to do without a lot of crowds!

One of the things we enjoyed doing the last several weeks is visit some of the “forgotten” lighthouses along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Within an 80-mile stretch off of Highway 98, you can visit four spectacular lighthouses. Starting westward at Port St. Joe, there is Cape San Blas lighthouse. There is a fee if you would like to climb it.

After returning to Highway 98 and heading eastward, you are in for a treat on your journey to Cape St. George lighthouse on St. George Island. This lighthouse is visible from the bridge and has a wonderful park and keeper’s cottage. There is also a fee to climb this lighthouse.

Heading eastward on Highway 98 once again (okay, maybe after we had ice cream cones across the street from the Cape St. George lighthouse), we found ourselves enjoying the view so much we actually drove by the Crooked River lighthouse just west of Carrabelle. So make sure you pay attention to the historic signs and banners as you approach Carrabelle. This lighthouse has a cute little museum and a wonderful gift shop. There is a fee to climb it, however you can only climb it on certain days.

After Crooked River lighthouse, continue eastward to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The lighthouse is actually inside the refuge and the main road actually dead-ends at the lighthouse. There is day-use fee for admission through the refuge. You can only climb the lighthouse during special events. However, there is an observation deck which gives you an amazing view of the area and great photos ops (like the photo I took above).

If planning to visit all these amazing lighthouses in one day, I recommend you leave early in the morning so you have ample time to visit the lighthouse gift shops and museums. If you intend to climb, wear sturdy walking shoes or sneakers. Most lighthouses have strict policies regarding open-toed shoes and sandals.

This is Florida and even folks in the best shape will find themselves breathless on a lighthouse climb. Take your time and if anyone in your party is not climbing, give them your purse or backpack to help lighten your load. Stopping at windows (especially open ones), can give you a nice rest stop. Just be mindful of the rules regarding right-of-way for stairwell traffic.

If you are staying west of Port. St. Joe, don’t forget that all these lighthouses are in the Eastern Standard Time Zone.

PLEASE NOTE: There is no parking at any of these locations to handle a RV. You could take a smaller motorhome to St. Marks and Cape St. George, however, you may find parking and turn-around space limited during busy times.

Detailed information and driving directions to these lighthouses can be found at a great website called Lighthouse Friends. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/

I know! I know! I started to update TMN and well… the beach called! 😉 But I am starting to get photos together and will be adding some Florida campground reviews soon. Plus I need to post our travels for the last few months… Hmm… is that the beach I hear calling me again? 😉

 

 

The rig is backed in a nice spot and we are digging out lawn chairs and bikes… so that means we are settling in for a few months! 😉

I will get caught up with photos, camp reviews and trip highlights in the weeks ahead.

For those still on the road or those who will be venturing out in the weeks ahead – Safe Travels! 😉

I took these photos while sitting in my lawn chair the other day… just goes to show you that sometimes it’s worth paying for a premium campsite! 😉

PHOTOS: The Guadalupe River (Texas) is a great recreation spot for toobers (that’s how they spell it here!), kayakers and rafters. As you can see from my photos – be prepared to see anything! 🙂

Rest Areas are a much needed break after several hours on the highway. They provide adequate parking, restrooms, and, well, a place to rest for an hour or two. And those which offer Welcome Centers can also save you time and money.

Freebies  – Most Welcome Centers offer free coffee, tea or juice. Some even offer in-season fruit or fresh popcorn.

Coupons  –  Many lodging and attractions will offer special discounts, special deals or even “free gift” coupons in  brochures, coupon booklets and travel magazines. Ask at the information desk for additional coupon books they may have behind the counter. If you are an RVer, ask if their state has a camping guide. For example, Texas offers a camping guide with discount card (Texas Saver  or “T.A.C.O.”card) which offers 10-15% off daily rates at many Texas and New Mexico campgrounds.

Maps – Not all of us depend on GPS – especially those who have had to back their RV down a mountain road. A road atlas is great, but doesn’t always provide enough detail. So ask at the information desk for a free map. Most Welcome Centers will ask that you sign the guest register or provide your home state and travel destination for a map.

Updates – A few minutes viewing the Welcome Center’s construction map can save you a great deal of time and aggravation. If the Center doesn’t have a construction map, they may have a wall chart or list of road work and delays posted. At the very least they should have a website, local radio station or a phone number you can call for updates. And if there is severe weather in the forecast, ask at the information desk for local updates. Many larger Welcome Centers have TVs in the lobby with the Weather Channel or CNN on. We have even hunkered down at them during severe storms (especially high winds and blinding rain) and changed our travel route around tropical storms.

Overnight Parking – Most have limited the parking time or banned overnight parking. However, those which haven’t can save you money on campground or dump station fees. Just remember to follow the RVer rules regarding Overnight Parking.  Do not put out your slides or awnings. You are parking, not camping. And if you Overnight, be alert and cautious. NEVER open your door. If someone knocks on your door, flip on your scare lights (if not already on) and open the closest window to the door. Ask the person at the door who they are and what they want. Even if they appear to be some sort of authority figure – ask them to hold up I.D.

And don’t forget to fill out a comment card or sign their guest book. Let them know what you thought of their facilities – especially if you appreciate it. Your comments may help keep it open for future travelers.

If you place an online ad for a work-camp position, you are bound to get responses; however, not all will be as you desire! Be cautious when responding to replies from public and private websites. If you don’t use common sense, you may find yourself wasting time and losing your personal information.

With the state of the economy, more and more employment opportunity sites are popping up -especially websites which cater to work-at-home, travelling sales or work-camp opportunities. Remember, placing an ad at a free (and visible to the public) website is going to attract spam, scams and those who are trying to get more information from you.

I shouldn’t have to mention this, but I will. Just this morning I saw an ad that posted too much information. I mean, literally TMI! Do not write your ad like an autobiography. This ad posted the couple’s complete birthdays, pet names, several cell phone numbers and other information that is probably used for their passwords or security information.

Keep your ads simple like: Couple seeking FHU and wages for weekly work hours. Previous campground experience in computers, snack bar and housekeeping areas. Great references. Non-smokers. One pet. Email us at: dadada@ fakeemailaddydotcom

That is adequate information for any genuine employer to take notice of you. They don’t need to know that your pet Fluffy loves cookies, what brand of RV you have or the fact you make your own clothes. Additional information (about your skills and needs) should be for follow-up emails and phone calls.

Typical spam and scam emails might contain subject lines like “workers wanted”, “job opportunity” or “employment offer”. And when you open the emails you will find the job is a hotel in the UK, a foreign textile mill ‘check casher’ or someone wanting you to help them claim money from a sweepstakes.

Others may appear legitimate work, yet are too vague to be sure. Such as the “Where are you now?” or “Can you deliver this for me?” emails. These emails generally want all your information without providing any to you. Those you should just delete! If you’ve followed some of the articles I’ve written for a few travel websites, you’ll know that delivering items for anyone is not advisable. Leave that to the professionals.

Private employment opportunity websites – which either charge a fee for posting an ad or require some sort of subscription service – can be just as bad for scams and solicitations. You will be surprised to find emails asking you to sell products (ie. Direct TV, Avon, Christmas candy) and you may even find yourself solicited to buy a campground or a timeshare unit.

I have one email that even stated, “You should give it up and buy my campground and run it the way you want it.” He found my information from a private site that I pay nearly $50 a year for and only paid employers who subscribe can view the information!

If you are planning to post your personal information at a private site, there are a few things to keep in mind. Just because the site is private, do not reveal all your personal information. Why? If you walk into Walmart and fill out a job application you know Who, Where and What-for you are applying. If Walmart calls your references, you know it’s for the position you applied for.

But if you post your personal information online, anyone can call up your references. It may be for a job you wouldn’t even want to consider! By posting all your personal information, you lose control of it.

You might think this is a time-saver – having employers you don’t know have your information. It may be, but it also alienates your references. Imagine your references getting calls and emails on a regular basis for jobs you aren’t even interested in or from employers who don’t even follow-up and contact you about the position. It does happen!

I know several people who have had this happen. And one lost a “dream job” because of it. The reference told the employer she thought the couple had accepted another job because of another call she received. The dream job employer emailed the couple a few days later saying she hired someone else, since she found out they were unavailable. They weren’t. By posting their information, another employer (who never contacted them) actually lost them the job they wanted.

When responding to replies from your private ad, keep in mind that if the job appears too good to be true, it most likely is! Make sure to ask questions in the follow-up email or phone call.

If you receive an email that states, “I need a work-camper. Send me your information and references,” do some research on the company.  This type of email tells you absolutely nothing. Quite frankly, it may be a legitimate job offer / employer, but how do you know?

If the email appears to be from a company website, check out the website. An example of finding the site would be looking at the email address. For example if it was jonnydoe@ areallygoodcampgrounddotcom – then look up the website listed after the “@” symbol. This way you can gather some information about it. If the email address is generic (Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo) then it could be from anyone.

If you choose to reply to a vague email, do not give them any personal information. After all, you could be sending it to anyone in the world. If I feel it is a legitimate employer, I liked to send out what I call a “reverse inquiry”.

It may read something like: Dear Sir or Madam; Thank you for contacting me regarding your work-camp opportunity. I am interested in knowing more about the position before I formally apply. If qualified, I would be happy to submit my resume, references and photo to be considered for the position. I look forward to hearing back from you regarding your job position.

If it is a genuine employer, they will be happy to tell you more about the position. If they aren’t – you’ll never hear back from them. I did have one actually email a note back stating they understood but would “really like” to view my information before telling me about the job, company and even where it was located. All I knew was that “Joe” would “really like” my information. Well, he didn’t get it. I’m not into secret jobs from secret companies at secret locations. 😉

If you do begin an email correspondence with a potential employer you should save all the emails. An initial email may state full hook-ups included, but when you speak on the phone he may say you have to pay for electricity or that your site will be “discounted”. If the employer contacts you regarding your ad, all you have to go on is what they told you in emails, unless they had a written contract or agreement to send you. If that is the case, make sure it includes arrival/departure dates, hours, wages/salary, position(s) with duties and any other perks included (FHU, seasonal bonus, laundry allowance, free Cable TV). And it should be signed (with copies) by both parties – not just you.

If you follow common sense when responding to your ad replies from public and private websites, you can save yourself valuable time and prevent your personal information from being misused.

May Day 2009

 

 

 

 

 

You might recall our May Day blow-out (https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/may-day-blow-outs/) last year. On the open road and in need of RV tires is not a situation I’d wish upon anyone.

After we got settled in Virginia last summer, we decided to have all our RV tires replaced. In June we made a trip to the Camping World store in Roanoke. At the time we found a helpful staff member who went over the price, labor costs and taxes with us, as well as tire availability and appointment scheduling.

We told him we would rather wait until November when we were going to be putting serious mileage on again. He said it would be no problem for us to call ahead and we would be in-and-out in no time.

A week before we were planning on leaving Virginia, we decided to return to Camping World in Roanoke and schedule our tire appointment, as well as make a few purchases.

What a difference time makes!

What a WORLD of difference customer service makes!

Now the helpful staff were gone… no one would wait on us or several other customers.

Finally, after some grumbling, staff emerged.

When it was our turn, we learned that the company no longer made those tires. We questioned this so the staff member waved another employee over. Number 2 said he wasn’t even sure those tires were even made at all – ever!

Huh?

 We pulled out our CW quote sheet printed out in June showing they indeed had the tires at that time and that we were told this was pretty common for Camping World. So after getting the attention of yet another employee, we learned that apparently their Camping World rarely had sets of tires (that matched) in stock.

What?!

Number 3 said he could go look and see what they had in stock and took off.

A fourth employee arrived and suggested we order them from a RV dealer somewhere.

Okay…

So we took our money and headed out the door in search of a Goodyear dealer. We found a dealer, pulled in the parking lot, and told them what we needed and they said, “No problem”.

They said they could put them on for us when we left, however we weren’t crazy about the idea of driving our rig into downtown traffic at the start of our journey. It was decided that we would take the tires with us and they loaded them into our truck.

When we returned the campground we asked around and found a local garage that would be open early hours the morning we left. We went down and made an appointment and they said it would be no problem putting on our new tires.

That morning we didn’t even have to pull into the garage – the gentlemen did it right from the parking lot in a matter of minutes!

Our initial quote for tires at Camping World was over $1200, plus we had an additional $300 of items we were going to purchase during our trip. Camping World – the “Walmart of RVers” – lost our business that day.

If we need anything now, our first thoughts go to supporting small, local businesses. They know their stock and they know how to treat their customers. There is a World of difference in customer service at a small business.

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