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We are eagerly keeping an eye on the Weather Channel and thinking of our friends along Eastern Florida. As Floridians we have been through many hurricanes, but it is a completely different experience when you are a Full-Time RVer. In 2004, we dealt with Hurricanes Jean and Francis only weeks apart. Hurricane Jean was our first experience as RVers and we evacuated our rig and sought shelter. After experiencing shelter conditions, we rode out Hurricane Jean at the RV resort, choosing to stay in the recreation building with a handful of other RVers. We saw first-hand the power of Mother Nature. For more information on dealing with disasters while RVing, check out my book, On the Road to Disaster.

Well, they say Florida is in for a few days of rain… thankfully we have plenty of books, games and tiny cheesecakes to see us through! 😉

Memorial Day Weekend is… HERE! And that means it is officially camping season. So if you haven’t already dusted off the camping gear, packed the RV or made cabin reservations at your favorite park… you are a little late. But don’t fret! Some parks still have openings for the holiday weekend – just call ahead and check on their availability.

No matter where you are spending this holiday weekend, please have a safe one and remember those who have fought (and still are fighting) for our freedom.

NOTE: Make a flag for your campsite this holiday:

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/rotating-pvc-pipe-flag-poles/

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/smaller-flags-for-rv-parks/

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

After ten years of Full-Time RVing, we have encountered our share of bad parks. Every unpleasant experience puts a giant X on their park listing in our campground directory and earns the offending park an unfavorable online review.

Sometimes the problem is simply the park’s location. Like the one in Texas that bragged on being the place to get plenty of rest, only it didn’t indicate in the ad that you had to sleep during the day because the campground was located beside railroad tracks that were active at night. We were also lured in to one park in Mississippi that promised Southern charm, only the appeal wore off as soon as we realized we were at the end of an airport runway. Although one of the worst locations we’ve stumbled upon was in Florida. A small, seemingly quiet park appeared to be a good place for a few nights’ rest. The first night was so peaceful we actually considered extending our stay a few more days. Luckily we didn’t because that evening we were awakened to some bone-shaking music until the wee hours of the morning. We were unaware that the backside of the park bordered a nightclub that had been closed the previous evening!

Even if the location is ideal, sometimes it is the condition of the park that affects your stay. Usually the offender is meager Wi-Fi or poor cable TV. We’ve certainly had our share of that and while it is no problem for a night or two, issues with this during an extended stay reflect poorly in our online reviews. These are generally simple fixes and if nothing is done to correct the problem it indicates poor management. A few years ago we overnighted at a park in Florida that offered a Wi-Fi “hotspot”. When asked at check-in, we were told that it was under a tree in the middle of the RV park! Another problem we occasionally encounter is water pressure, albeit that it is normally too high. Imagine our surprise when we stayed at a park in Pennsylvania that had the water pressure at twenty. However, the management insisted that such a low number was safe!

Though sometimes it is the staff members who make you feel unwelcomed. Like the time we pulled into a park in Maryland and found the office closed and no after-hours check-in board. As we started to leave a staff member appeared on a golf-cart and started screaming at us that we were going to jackknife as we swung the rig around to exit. She literally kept screaming “jackknife” over and over. In reflection, I wish I would have taken a video of the maniac screaming at us – that would have gone viral! And the time we stopped at a campground in Virginia and politely asked the clerk for a Big Rig pull-thru for the night. She said people like us needed to “just go to a truck stop” – so we did! And lest we forget the park we overnighted at in Arkansas. The cable TV didn’t work and we immediately reported it to the office since we were being charged additional for it. A work-camper came over to our site, never even looked at the frayed cable at the pedestal. He just said, “I don’t think you need it tonight” and left!

Occasionally it is the park guests who bring about an unfavorable stay. Clearly it is hard to be quiet when your slides are on-top of each other in some of the older parks. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be a good neighbor. Like the time we were staying in Washington and the woman camped beside us wanted to know what antenna TV channels we got. Instead of coming over to our site and knocking on our door, she opened her slide-window, took a cane and pounded on our door. Imagine our surprise when we answered the door to see a cane poking out a window at us! Or the folks in Virginia who parked their golf cart under our master bedroom slide because they were, well, frankly, morons. And don’t get me started on the park in Texas where the neighbors built a Tiki bar on their site. By the third day the “bar” included a large flat screen TV, karaoke machine and additional seating. They expanded beyond their tow vehicle space and then started parking on our campsite. It was senseless to complain as we saw the park manager had become a patron of the bar! We found another park for the remainder of our stay in the area.

From dry camps to high-end RV resorts – we certainly have had some memorable reviews! After all these years, we have learned to take the bad with the good. Thankfully with so many online review sites, we have a way of warning other travelers. So don’t be shy about taking recourse by writing reviews. And, remember, if you visit a RV park in Maryland and a maniac starts screaming at you – get it on video!

During the summer we were visited by the Grinch, not once, but twice. This Grinch had attempted to take items we had stored under our rear slide. Fortunately each attempt resulted in us waking from the clatter of the cable-lock being pulled. The Grinch didn’t realize our stuff was securely locked to the underside of the fifth-wheel. And it wasn’t just us; other Campers had a late-night visit from the Grinch. Lucky for the Grinch other Campers were more trusting and woke to find their Yeti coolers and other items missing.

Imagine our surprise when the other night we had yet another visit from the Grinch! Thankfully our items were secure and the Grinch ran off when the scare lights were turned on.

What can you do to deter the Grinch? First of all, lock all your outside compartments when you leave your site or go inside for the night. And if you aren’t near your RV, don’t leave your compartments wide-open. Don’t consider it a hassle to lock everything; consider it assurance that your stay won’t be ruined by a Grinch!

Another thing to do is secure your items when you go away for the day or plan to be gone longer. If you have bicycles, lawn chairs and other items scattered all over your site, who is going to notice if one just disappears? Take time to gather your items and put them in a secure spot – such as under your fifth-wheel hitch or by a picnic table. If you have bicycles, coolers or other loose items, consider locking them to your RV hitch, bumper or a picnic table. And if you know you are going to be gone a while, ask your neighbor to keep an eye on your site.

With camping toys being so expensive these days, don’t reward the Grinch! Take a few minutes to secure your stuff.

Memorial Day Weekend is… HERE! That means it is officially camping season. So if you haven’t already dusted off the camping gear, packed the RV or made cabin reservations at your favorite park… you are a little late.

But don’t fret! Some parks still have openings for the holiday – just call ahead and check on their availability. And don’t forget to take along and proudly display The Flag!

No matter where you are spending this holiday, please have a safe one and remember those who have fought (and still are!) for our freedom.

Photography book of our journeys 2007-2012

A THOUSAND WORDS: Photos from life on-the-road by HS Cooper is now available in ebook format for only 99 cents! The softcover version is now available at Amazon.com.

 

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 © Camping Santa

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Resort view from the beach

Trading the bumpy highways for some sun, sand and seafood for a couple months…

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Flowers and Flags

Memorial Day Weekend is… HERE! And that means it is officially camping season. So if you haven’t already dusted off the camping gear, packed the RV or made cabin reservations at your favorite park… you are a little late. But don’t fret! Some parks still have openings for the holiday weekend – just call ahead and check on their availability.

No matter where you are spending this holiday weekend, please have a safe one and remember those who have fought (and still are!) for our freedom.

NOTE: Make a flag for your campsite this holiday:

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/rotating-pvc-pipe-flag-poles/

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/smaller-flags-for-rv-parks/

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © CHRISTMAS TORNADO

On Christmas afternoon we found ourselves in the midst of severe weather and potential tornadoes. Instead of watching holiday movies, all eyes were on the local weather!

The RV resort lacked adequate shelter facilities, so when the tornado warning went into effect, we grabbed our hardhats (I knew that souvenir hardhat from Hoover Dam would come in handy), a couple stiff pillows and flashlights, and then made a mad dash to the Chevy Silverado. We buckled ourselves in and drove to a low ditch-area near the park entrance. Moments later we saw that other Campers had the same idea.

Fortunately the storm passed quickly over the resort; however, a park less than two miles away had a tornado touch-down. Thankfully no one was injured but several homes were destroyed.

Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation. Keeping alert of the weather and having a type of RV emergency plan can keep you and your family safe.

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.

It is hard to believe that summer is in full-swing and the Fourth of July is right around the corner. With the Fourth in the middle of the week, many campgrounds are celebrating the holiday over the next two weekends.

If you are heading out to your favorite campground this holiday, make sure you obey the rules regarding fires, fireworks and quiet times.

No matter how you are spending this holiday, please have a safe one and remember those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedoms.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper © WELCOME

Don’t forget to show your support and make a flag for your campsite:

Rotating PVC Pipe Flag Poles

Smaller Flags for RV Parks

Flag at the Keeper’s Cottage at Cape San Blas Lighthouse

For those of us living the “campground life”, it has been slow start to the summer season. But Memorial Day Weekend is right around the corner and that means it is officially camping season. Hopefully nicer weather and lower fuel prices will encourage everyone to visit their favorite camping spot.

No matter how you are spending this holiday, please have a safe one!

NOTE: Make a flag for your campsite this holiday:

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/rotating-pvc-pipe-flag-poles/

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/smaller-flags-for-rv-parks/

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… 😉

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.

For those of us living the “campground life”, it has been a rather busy start to the summer season.  Despite fuel costs, it is great to see families RVing and spending time together.

And the Fourth of July is just around the corner! Some of my favorite Fourth’s have been while RVing. One year I recall us being in Colorado, enjoying the cooler weather while decorating our campsite with flags. It was quite a contrast to the rich green mountains that surrounded us. But also a reminder of what a beautiful country this is.

One recent favorite was touring Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. It was a beautiful summer day until it began rain. It was muddy and slippery, yet we reminded ourselves that conditions weren’t always “ideal” for those who died and fought for the freedoms that make America great.

So no matter what type of memories you are making this holiday, please have a safe Fourth of July and remember those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedoms.

NOTE: Show your support and make a flag for your campsite this holiday:

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/rotating-pvc-pipe-flag-poles/

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/smaller-flags-for-rv-parks/

 

It’s late at night… you’ve been driving all day… traffic was bad… you had trouble finding the campground… you set-up outside as much as you can… you enter your RV and try to finish settling in for the night… But then the smell hits you. Yep! You’ve stepped in some doggy doo and carried it in on your shoes!

Sound familiar? No? Then how about when you get ready to step into your tow vehicle  to explore the area and find a pile of poo in your path? Or have an oddly-wet tire? Oh, and did I mention you are several sites away from the dog walk? Sound more familiar to you now?

There is something about camping with dogs that makes some dog owners, in my opinion, Crappy Campers. They completely disregard the rules and regulations of not only the campground, but sometimes also county and state laws (usually regarding leashes).

Don’t get me wrong, I love animals and certainly don’t blame them for their owner’s directions (or lack of them). Many campgrounds have posted rules and often supply a sheet or handout to pet owners. Common rules include leashes and lengths (usually six feet), designated dog areas, waste disposal, constant or frequent barking or dogs being left unattended (caged or tethered outside without someone present).

We have stayed (and worked) at campgrounds that even make the owner sign-off that they will comply with the rules or be asked to leave without refund. One campground we were at even listed each rule and made the owner check-off each one to show that it was read and understood before they signed it. In addition, they were charged $5 per pet, per night. And to make it really hit-home, they received a carbon-copy showing that they acknowledged the rules!

Many campgrounds are going dog-friendly, yet have strict rules to keep it safe for people and other pets. Unfortunately people abuse the rules. It not only shows lack of consideration for other people and dog owners, but also their own pets. A park we stayed in California was prone to bears,  mountain lions and other bigger animals (even Big Foot tales at that one!)  and at registration you had to give your pet’s name and breed/color information in event they were spotted being carried off!

And, unfortunately, those that do not follow the rules may also find their dog stolen, attacked by another dog or animal, run over or possibly dead.

So please, don’t be a Crappy Camper this summer. If you love your pet you will follow the rules and quite possible prevent me from having poo on my shoes! 😉

UPDATED: I no sooner click “post” on this when I see a woman with a little dog leaving a “deposit” on our campsite… Good grief! 😦

Since I first posted “Campground Living: Better than Reality TV” , I have received a number of requests for other reality TV-worthy “episodes” we’ve experienced at campgrounds. And yes, like Hollywood… I can offer a sequel!

We were in a campground in Texas where Tenters camped along the river and RVers had full hook-up sites above. Imagine our surprise when we heard all sorts of commotion coming from below.  Further down in the tent area a Camper’s tent and all his gear had been thrown in the river. You could see some of it still floating (part of the tent, sleeping bags and coolers) as the river current was moving it too quickly to sink. He was running and shouting along the river, apparently hoping someone could save his gear. It turned out to be quite an ordeal, as the sheriff was called and began searching the campground for the culprits.

That reminds me of the RV resort we were staying at in Florida. A seasonal RVer with a fifth-wheel got his tow vehicle repossessed right before he was going to head northward. We moved on shortly after so I don’t know how that issue was resolved.

While staying at a campground in Virginia, we were surprised to see a travel trailer back in beside us with a mobile kennel of-sorts. Their pickup truck was filled with wire, dog cages (two with dogs) and a huge dog house. They unhooked the trailer and began erecting a fence with the dog house in the center. The caged dogs were placed inside, as well as the dogs already in the trailer and the one they had riding inside the pickup truck. They told us their dogs just loved going on vacation and being outdoors. That really surprised me considering they spent the weekend barking at everything they saw and heard outside! (I like dogs, but most campgrounds do have rules about leaving them outside for long periods, especially unattended or for constant barking.)

Several years ago I was riding my bike around at a campground in South Florida. After passing the pull-thru area I realized there were two tents set up beside a fifth-wheel. It is unusual to see tents in pull-thru sites but I didn’t think anymore of it until I made my next lap around and saw the little fences set up at the side of each tent. Inside the little fences were pot-bellied pigs. Again, I didn’t think much of it… okay, at first I was a little surprised… but pets like to travel too. 🙂 But the next day when I rode by and saw them dressed up… well, that had me wondering… did they pay the daily pet charge or extra person rate? 😉

I have to say that one of the most bizarre things we’ve seen happened at a family campground in Virginia. We didn’t know the folks who set up camp a few sites down from us were on a hunting trip. Imagine our surprise when we pulled up our dining room shades only to see a dead deer hanging from the tree on their campsite. Fortunately, that week’s free campground movie wasn’t “Bambi”.

Yes - that is exactly what you think it is! 😦

Honestly though, I’d miss seeing these things (well, not necessarily a freshly killed deer hanging from a tree) if we weren’t full-timing. Forget the TV, we just pull-up our window shade and see who or what pulls in beside us ~ now that’s entertainment! 😉

PLEASE NOTE: I originally posted this without the photo, but after receiving a few emails doubting a campground would allow that… well, I decided to go ahead and post the photo. I do apologize if it bothers you.

 

 

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 signed up for a day casino trip from Florida to Mississippi. We were with forty people on a tour bus for 4 hours (one way) heading down 1-10.

Now being full-time RVers, it was nice not to have to worry about driving for a change… or so I thought…Someone (and I won’t tattle) started counting how many semi-trucks the bus driver was passing! 😉

About two hours into the trip, I realized my legs were both numb. At the next stop I was happy to get out and stretch. Unfortuantely, that’s when I noticed my knees were hurting. Apparently they were shoved into the seat ahead of me so hard, I didn’t realize I had bruised them. After arriving at the casino, I was glad to walk around and regain the use of my limbs.

The return trip was the same and the three of us stumbled out of the bus toward our Chevy Silverado. After we climbed in, there was a moment of silence before the first “ahh” cried out. Then and there we made it official – no more traveling unless it’s in a Chevy. 😉

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/ . 🙂

 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 .

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.

 Despite the poor economic conditions and many uncertain of the times ahead, the outdoor hospitality business (RV parks, resorts and campgrounds) are staying filled this summer.

Many folks have re-discovered the fun in camping, while others are exploring their “own backyard” – just travelling a few hours away from home.

With limited vacation time or funds, many Campers have figured how to make the most of both. Many are either taking one day off a week and taking their scheduled days off  – such as the weekend – to make a nice 3-4 day camping trip each month or every two weeks. This not only breaks up the summer, but stretches out the vacation time all summer.

Multiple stays at the same campground doesn’t have to be boring. Take advantage of local sites and attractions and make a series of day-trips. Driving an hour or so from your campground can be like a mini-vacation in itself!

The Blue Ridge Parkway makes for a wonderful day-trip!

The Blue Ridge Parkway makes for a wonderful day-trip!

If you stay at the same campground or RV resort, you may find yourself eligible for a “repeat” or “multiple stay” discount. Some campgrounds offer 10% or more off on their regular Campers. And many campgrounds offer discounts for extended stays that could save you hundreds of dollars!

If you have family and friends that enjoy camping, see if the campground offers group discounts and family camping areas. If they have family or group areas (for multiple families), you may find it cheaper to divide the cost among the families than to each rent a campsite individually.

If you have children, finding family campgrounds or RV parks that offer activities will benefit both you and your children. Parks such as Jellystone offer many free activities – from wagon rides and movies to crafts and dances. Low-cost activities such as bingo, mini-golf, water slides and ceramics are available at most family-friendly parks.

Make the most of your summer vacation, despite limited time and funds. Go camping… again and again! 🙂

King Kong in VA

Never know what you'll see on a day-trip!

With rising costs and the economy in a slump, many folks have been  inquiring about becoming Full-Time RVers. It makes a great deal of sense not having to worry about a large mortgage and all the extras burdens that come with maintaining a house.

And this slump also has Full-Timers and Seasonal RVers who normally do not work (because of pension, social security or savings) looking for positions that pay and/or provide a free site space to help stretch their income.

Workamping can be any type of job and any type of position – paid or volunteer. You do not have to travel around to workamp and it does not have to be an outdoor hospitality job. Yet most prefer an outdoor hospitality (i.e. campgrounds, RV parks, RV resorts, etc…) positions because they usually provide a minimum of a free site (with hookups).

Although most of these types of jobs require no or limited experience, there are are many that do (especially computer skills if working in an office). Applications and resumes for campgrounds and RV parks are generally submitted online or by standard mail. Employers usually arrange for phone interviews for those who they feel are qualified. When a decision has been made and both parties agree, often an agreement or contract is made. This covers what the workamper receives (full hookups, Cable TV, etc…), commitment dates, job or position details and any other pertinent information. A signed agreement protects both parties as it assures the workampers that a job will be there when they arrive and the employers will feel confident knowing they have help during the commitment period.

Having worked with other campground workampers and being around them as a campground/RV resort guest, I know that workamping in an outdoor hospitality setting is not for everyone. 

If you are looking for a position in a campground or related venue, then you must realize that you may be called to work at different areas or positions during your commitment period. If someone is sick or does not show up, the public restrooms still need cleaned and the garbage still needs picked it up. When you work at a campground you must be a team player.

Unfortunately, we have arrived at many jobs, only to find our coworkers either padded their resume or puffed themselves up at the interview and would not or could not handle the positions they were given. If you do not want to clean restrooms, if you cannot lift propane tanks, if you cannot operate a computer, etc… then do not apply for a position that may require it! You may think “Oh, I got the job. They won’t care what I can’t or won’t do when I get there.” Well, you are wrong! It is not only frustrating for the employer to find you have limitations or falsified your abilities, but it is a generally a nightmare for your fellow workampers. Be honest!

One of the main problems I have encountered with workampers is the refusal to work the office and / or a computer. A RV park we worked at had a very basic computer program. If you could send an email, you could take reservations. Very basic, very simple. We had one workamper that was deathly afraid of it and had nightmares about it. Her husband said she was having anxiety attacks over it and that after a few days they decided to leave. It turned out that her husband was fine on the computer and she took over his duties (housekeeping and maintenance), while he did hers (office and store). Ironically, she had put on her resume that she was computer savy and had office experience!  So if you do not like computers or are uncomfortable handling money, tell the potential employer you prefer not to work these areas. And if you can work a computer but are very slow, explain that to the employer. I spoke to one employer who said she had one woman who took 45 minutes to check in a Camper! She said she did it correctly, but the speed of the transaction was just not acceptable. The office is a crucial position in a campground and employers need workampers who are comfortable in this area.

We worked with one set who thought they were above working period. They said they knew how to do everything (yet really did not know anything) and quite openly did not want to do anything. They just wanted to sit in their motorhome all day. This meant work not getting done during an already busy camping season. This added more work to the rest of us and finally seeing how this was dragging us all down, they were fired (and given very short notice to leave the property).

Although the campground office may close at 8 PM, that does not mean that things will stop happening! An emergency may occur or other problems after hours. You have to remember that not only are you temporarily employed there, you and your coworkers also live there. If there is an emergency going on, do not hide in your RV and say “I’m off the clock”. It is unfair to the others who work there. You need to be flexible and help keep things run smoothly.

We were working as Camp Hosts and were managing a RV park for 72 hour shifts. We would work the standard office hours and be on-call after hours. If there was an emergency or a serious situation going on, we would come to the aid of our fellow Hosts and they would come to ours. Again, you are not only coworkers, you are neighbors!

Another thing to keep in mind is that you must deal with the public. You may think working as maintenance or housekeeping are jobs were you can “hide” from the public and not have direct contact such as the  campground store or office, but that is not the case. Chances are you will have just as much, if not more contact with the camp guests and visitors.

If you are not a people person then you should give careful consideration to an outdoor hospitality job. It is probably not for you!  And believe me, some people should not be dealing with the public. I worked with one man who insulted a first-time guest at check-in. The workamper told him he thought his Class A was recalled and that he should have bought a better one! How he got through that without a broken nose is still beyond me!

For those that do enjoy working with the public, there are many options. Age restricted or 55+ parks or resorts are great for those who enjoy interacting with older folks. These parks often offer classes and schedule activities. If you enjoy being around families, especially those with young children, consider a family campground or RV park. These campgrounds usually have regularly childrens’ activities and family events. Some RV parks and resorts are more inclined to nightly visitors, while others are more for extended stays. If you like to get to know folks, consider applying at one with seasonal or annual residents. 

 If you are interested in workamping at an outdoor hospitality venue, you should consider whether or not you can be a team player, flexible, honest about your abilities and limitations and deal with the public. If you cannot deal with any one of these things, then working a campground may not be for you.

NOTE: This prompted me to outline the pros and cons of workamping. So look for that being posted soon.

IN MY SITES: A Campground Mystery (Book #4)

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