Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some Links for RVers

While we are all waiting to actually get this show on the real road, I thought I would share with you some links that I have found that are a great resource for RVing in the US and Canada.

The first is a site that shares with you reviews of RV campgrounds - both commercial and public. You get the details of what the campground has to offer - type of electric service, water, sewer, cable, wifi - and also reviews written by people who have stayed at the campground. The campgrounds are indexed by the towns they are in - put in the state and then pick the town. The only drawback is that if you don't know the town you are looking for, you may not locate a campground. When you go to this site read through a number of reviews and be aware that some people like to knock things for reasons that may not effect you at all, but for the most part these reviews are considered by many to be on target. You also get a link to the campground's webpage and also a map of its location. You will also see at the top of the page other towns with campgrounds within the area - by clicking on any one of those you are taken to that town's campgrounds.


This next site fixes the one problem with the above website - it will let you put in a location and it will show you a map with all of the campgrounds around that location - so for example, if you want a campground near Washington, D.C., you put in Washington, D.C. and you get a mapped centered on that city. Move around the map - scroll it up or down, side to side and you will find all the campgrounds - regardless of knowing the town or not. And this site links you to the reviews of the above site. This is a perfect combination. And a great help if you are going someplace and need to know what campgrounds are around there.


Need to dump your waste tanks and don't know where to go? Here is a site that lists them all -


Need to know the RV/Trailer regulations for any state - here is a site to go to:


Here is one last one. Need advice from other RV owners? Have a problem or need to ask a question of experienced RVers? Here is a site for all types of RVs that will help you quickly.


Perhaps when there is another lull I will share some more...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sometimes Real Life Has a Habit of Getting in the Way

So last week I wrote about all the possible places that we would go. Guess where we went? Well, if you answered the obvious - no place - you are absolutely right. The Roadtrek still sits on the driveway. We continue to go in and out and make adjustments to this and line a cabinet or two with no slide shelving sheets, but we still have not taken a trip and it is likely that a trip will not happen for at least a few weeks.

So what happened. The whole idea was to take a Memorial Day weekend trip after Memorial Day as it was not possible to get reservations in a campground on one of the two most popular camping holidays of the year (the other being Labor Day). We were going to pick a few weekdays in a row and take off. Good plan, if you can just set obligations and work aside. Most of the time we are clear to do whatever we want when we want. Both of our work schedules are flexible - except my wife's schedule at various times of the year and the month get caught up in things that must be done then and no other time. This at the time did not seem a problem. As I began planning the long range weather forecasts looked good. But then a heat wave descended upon the Northeast and the temperatures were to rise to 100 and above - something rather unusual. It gets hot - generally not this early in the year (it is not even summer yet) and when it does the mid-90's are considered high. But early June and over a 100 degrees F and we were planning on going to places where the activities were primarily outdoors. Through in rain and storm warnings to go along with the heat and the plan to head out last week was set aside - besides, the forecast for this week was considerably cooler and drier. Perfect for our first real trip. I was all set.

I went back to planning, still not certain which of the several places that I had in mind it would be. I started routing. Got the GPS out of the dashboard of the Roadtrek and started programming a route that would get us off Long Island and out of New York State that would not take us on the local parkways - which we do not have the height clearance to drive on. (If you travel to NY beware - your GPS will likely automatically route you onto roads that you cannot drive on with a travel trailer, an RV, or a tall vehicle.)

The trip would have to be at the end of the week because something happened at X, that effected what would happen with Y, and because of all that my wife would have to go to client, Z on Tuesday. Not a problem. Wednesday to Friday was what I had in mind anyway.

On the day this article appears, we were supposed to be in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. That is where the decision was finally made to go. We have been there many times - never in an RV. We have only been there once to stay more than one day which enables one to both visit the sights and go to the new musuem on the battlefield put up by the National Park Service a few years ago. We have a coupon from our RV insurance company that gives us a stay one night, get one night free at the Gettysburg KOA campground - which I have seen fairly good reviews for. That was the place. The plan was to make the reservation on Tuesday and take off on Wednesday.

So, again what happened? Sunday night, my wife said to me, didn't you know that this Thursday is the third Thursday of the month? Actually, I didn't because June started midweek and this Monday was only the second Monday of the moth. I answered her that it cannot be, and she said, oh yes it is. Have I mentioned in some article that my wife is always right? She has told me this often - and in fact, she is right. Well, I will not get into the one big time that she was not right, but 99.99% of the time she is always right. This Thursday is the third Thursday of the month and that means we have a meeting to go to on Thursday night. Skip it, you say? Well, when you are the one running the meeting and the head of the organization, the monthly meeting is not something that you can miss - especailly when there is important business to be announced and discussed. With a great realization of reality and a feeling of disappointment, there went the trip for this week. And with that, because of an obligation next week - so went any idea of doing it then.

We did take it to the nearest dump and empty the tanks, oh, and this week I ran the generator for its monthly 20 minute maintenance run. Just in case you thought it was just sitting idle. :)

So, sorry for the buildup last week for our first trip - we all must wait a little longer. As I have said at various times, the trip getting there is sometimes more of an adventure than the actual happening. So that open road will call a bit longer...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So Go Somewhere Already!

We waited two years to get the Roadtrek so that we could start traveling again. We have had it now over a month and where have we gone? No place. Somehow, it just does not seem logical, but getting back into the swing of traveling and getting everything into place to just go, seems like an uphill climb.

I discovered before we took delivery of the Roadtrek that Memorial Day is a major weekend for RV travel. Memorial Day was coming and we would have the Roadtrek - but finding a vacancy at a campground was just about impossible. I searched the areas that we would like to go to, found campgrounds and learned that RVers make reservations for Memorial Day weekend a year in advance. So much for the call of the open road!

We started thinking that we did not have to go on the actual Memorial Day weekend. We could go during the week before or the week after. Great idea. Sure, but the nieces's gymnastics show was the week before - right in the middle of the week. And my very active, nine year old niece had her dance school recital right in the middle of the week after. And then there was the weather - rain, storms - some predicted as dangerous. Of course, the weekend looked good after Memorial Day but our living history unit had an event that weekend. We started wondering if we would ever get away. Now, I do have some reservations already made into the summer - but it just seemed like it was time to get in the thing and drive somewhere with the purpose of having a good time where we got to - not to test out this or that on the Roadtrek, but to use it for its intended purpose - a place to stay at night while we sight-see and have a good time during the day.

There are a few places we thought to go. It has been years since we have been to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut - and that is a possibility for a trip. It has been several years since we have been to Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania for more than a day's drive there and back from Lancaster and with enough time to spend time in the new National Park Service Museum complex - so that is another possibility. It has been many years since we have been to Plymouth, Massachusetts - though it requires more than a couple of days for the distance. Well, that is a possibility too. And then Atlantic City, New Jersey is always a good overnight trip - not for the gambling - I am not much of a gambler, though I enjoy the excitement and energy of a casino - but I have always liked the Atlantic City Boardwalk - from before there were casinos on it. (While many casinos allow RV overnight parking in their lots - there is an Atlantic City ordinance that prohibits it - so a campground about twenty miles away is required for overnighting to AC.)

Lots of places - all we need it to have previously un-reserved time - cooperative weather - no work complications - and a campground vacancy. Heck, we even have a coupon for a buy one get one night free at a KOA campground in the month of June. So we are going - someplace - sometime - soon. I will let you know after we get there!

Oh, and the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend - we spent the night on the driveway - in the Roadtrek.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Screen

If you have been reading these articles you read about the delivery of our Roadtrek and the salesman who just had no idea what he was talking about when he showed us through the new RV that we purchased - and going back to the beginning of the articles how we came to have this salesman after starting out with one that was super. Well, when we got home with the Roadtrek we discovered one more thing that the plumb-dumb salesman told us.

Going through the Roadtrek that day there was a window screen lying on the floor of the rear storage compartment. Mr. Salesman looked at it in a matter of fact way and told me that it had been left off so that we could put it on and off as we preferred. It belonged on the side entrance door to the Roadtrek and that you might want to leave it off for clearer visibility through this passenger side window while driving. I asked how it goes in and he told me it was easy to clip on and off. What did I know?

After a week of being home I told Meryl that I was going to put it into the window to see how it attached. The screen has a flexible, hard rubber frame with a zipper section on one side that opens to allow access to the window latch. With the exception of the driver and passenger front windows, van windows push out rather than roll down and lock with a latch. I looked all around the window frame and there were no clips. I looked all around the window frame and there were no clips. I tried pushing the screen frame into the edge of the van window frame and it just drooped down from the top and then fell out. Hmm.

I contacted Roadtrek service support from Roadtrek corporate. Where are the clips? How does this screen attach? The answer that I got was essentially - "uh oh!" that should have been installed at the factory - and if it was missed then it should have been found by the dealer during prep and installed then. Oh really?!? Plumb-dumb found it but apparently no one else had. And now I have it 200 miles away. The installation involved the screen frame being screwed into the door frame around the window. It meant drilling holes in both the frame and in the van door. This was not something that I relished doing to a new van. Roadtrek told me exactly what size screws to use and approximately where the screen went in the window frame. If I took it back to the dealer service center they would do it.

Now I had to decide, did I want to drive back to Pennsylvania just for this screen or did I want to try to do it myself. And would I do a more careful job at it than the dealer service would do. Nothing against the service at the dealer but I have found time and time again, that when you do a job yourself, you take much more care than the so-called professionals do and you do a much better finished job in the end.

I decided to do the job myself, but I wanted to see this screen in a Roadtrek window to be sure I was placing it correctly and positioning the screws where they needed to go. I asked on the forums and I also contacted the dealer - the sales manager and not the salesman- for photos. I also took the opportunity to inform the sales manager about his salesman.

Several Roadtrek owners were kind to take photos and the sales manager took excellent photos of each screw position. I purchased stainless steel screws and decided to add stainless washers to add more hold and also put less pressure on the rubber frame of the screen.

Meryl is a good helper and knows that when I do any job there will always be some frustration and yelling involved. I try hard and many will tell you that I have great patience - but when I start on a project we can always be sure that there will be something that seems to go wrong. So with that understood, I took the screen into my workshop and started to compare the photos to the frame. There were a few good reference points and taking the frame back out to the van we could line up these points and see exactly where to place the top and bottom screws. Using a fabric chalk marker we marked the positions. Back in the shop I very carefully drilled the top and bottom holes into the rubber frame. The screws on the zipper side clearly went into the corners. The screws on the other side were not as clear but using the positions of the top and bottom holes, I drilled those holes in the side. Now it was a matter of getting this on the window frame and drilling corresponding holes that needed to be much smaller for the screws to catch solidly in the door frame.

The idea was that we would tape the screen into position using painter's tape - the type that peels off without leaving any residue behind. It was a good idea if only the tape would stick which it did not. Holding the frame up was not doing much either. It was go for broke and put the frame in approximately the correct position and get the holes drilled one at a time, put in a screw and move along. It all went along well until one hole was drilled but no hole seemed to be there when I put the screw in. I moved the rubber frame out of the way and it looked like I had drilled a hole but apparently the plastic closed up from the heat of the drill bit. I drilled again and we were just about done. Of course, it is always the last screw that is a problem - and we could not find the last washer. I search of the workshop found it on the floor. All of the screws were in and I tightened them up.

It looks nice. It works. That is what counts.