Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A There and Back Trip to Camping World and Atlantic City, NJ

Camping World is a chain of camping supply stores all over the country. Of course, "all over the country" rarely includes metropolitan New York and the nearest Camping World store to us is in New Jersey, about as south as Philadelphia in PA. I have ordered things from them on their website and joined their President's Club for discounts - because the discount that I got on my initial purchase both paid for the membership and also gave me a substantial discount on top of that for what I was buying. There was something else that I decided that we need for the Roadtrek if we find ourselves needing to stay not in a campground overnight and we need to run the air conditioner. It is called a Gen-turi Generator Exhaust System and it allows you to run the generator and move the carbon monoxide exhaust up over the roof of the camper and away from you or anyone parked near you. And in this way, you don't die inside from the exhaust while you are sleeping.

Some say this is not necessary. Some say the carbon monoxide detector alarm will wake you in time, but I say, why take the chance when the solution is less than $200. And as it happened Camping World had this on sale.

I could have ordered it online but I really wanted to see it and make sure that it was going to fit without a problem both on the Roadtrek (I have been told by other Roadtrek owners that it would) and also how it will fit in the storage area. This is an assembly of three four feet long pipes. They should just fit inside the back of the rear storage compartment leaving enough room for the three laundry baskets that we keep in there to make moving things in and out of the area easier. But should fit and do fit can be two different things.

We decided that we would make a day trip of it and take the Roadtrek to New Jersey. We would go to Camping World and then travel about an hour and a half further south to Atlantic City for dinner in one of the casinos. I am not really a gambler - I would like to be but can't afford to be. We planned the trip for the end of the week. The week was hot - in the middle of a heat wave of over 100 degree F temps. I decided that Thursday, the coolest (low 90's) and less humid days was the day to go. We would not plan to stay overnight. We made no reservations at a campground and if we needed to stay over for some reason we would find a Walmart parking lot - as there is no overnight parking at any Atlantic City casino parking lot - as there is at many casino parking lots in other places. With the heat expected to climb again, I was not really interested in staying over to a much hotter day, anyway.

We put a change of clothing in the Roadtrek just in case. We made sure there was water in the tanks and we headed out to New Jersey. We took our usual route for the Roadtrek out of New York and headed for the Garden State Parkway. At least we did not need to deal with the traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike due to the construction that is going on there.

The Garden State Parkway was fairly clear and the road surface was good which means it is Roadtrek friendly and we did not have too many bangs and squeaks as we drove. We stopped for lunch at a rest area's Burger King and then continued along. We got to the turn off to Camping World in good time.

I had expected a lot larger store than we found. For some reason I imagined the mecca store for campers - much as Cabellas is for sportsmen. (For those unfamiliar with Cabellas - this is a chain of stores that are large sports/camping/fishing/hunting/etc. stores that are built for "shoppertainment". That means the store is designed to entertain as much as it is to sell you things - and you can spend hours in one.) This Camping World Store was a store with three long aisles of RV gear, equipment, and supplies. There was more than was at our Roadtrek dealer's supply store but certainly not a store to spend a lot of time looking in. Attached to the store is an RV service center and around the store was an RV sales center. We parked the Roadtrek outside near another RV and a few cars and went inside.

I had called before we left to make sure that they actually had the item in stock - as their website indicated they did. I was told that one would be set aside for me. I was not going to make this trip for nothing. We went into the store and started to walk and look. There was a lot to see that we had not seen before.

Of course, when in a store that is of great interest looking at things not previously seen anywhere, we start to shop. We soon had several items that we would gather up and purchase with the Gen-turi before we left. A collapsible tub, a refrigerator fan, a hose to connect to the sink to put water into the toilet when it needs to be power cleaned, a bottle of coconut oil lube to lubricate the tank valves and seals - how can anyone resist these things? ;)

We did manage to spend about an hour in the store. I went up to the cashier and told them that we had a Gen-turi on hold for us - and there it was right behind the counter. I asked a few questions about it and how it would fit. I decided that I could install it myself, rather than have their service department do it for almost fifty bucks. We bought the Gen-turi and the rest of what we collected along the way.

Looking at the Gen-turi in the store, I was reassured that it could be installed to work as intended with a Roadtrek. Installation is temporary and it has the correct fittings for the Roadtrek generator exhaust pipe for the part that is permanently installed. Outside, I opened the back door and made sure that the Gen-turi was going to fit where we needed it to fit to store it. The only problem was that in the box, it was not going to fit in the back as it would out of the box. We did not want to leave the box behind, so Meryl went inside to access the rear through the little aisle door at the bottom. With that and one basket removed, the box could fit down the aisle and into the back compartment. It took about fifteen minutes to get everything in place and we could be on our way.

I pulled out of the Camping World parking lot with the GPS set for Atlantic City and the directions were telling me to head not back in the direction that I had gotten off the parkway. I decided that it must be easier just reversing the directions that I had to get off the parkway I turned around and headed back the way that I had come. Unfortunately, there was no entrance back onto the parkway heading south - only north. OK. I turned around and followed the GPS.

There must be a way back on to the Garden State Parkway and the GPS did not seem to come back to it - if it ever did for miles and miles. It was heading now toward afternoon rush hour and I did not want to be on side streets. We passed a sign that pointed to the GSP South. I turned around and found that sign again, and headed hopefully toward the parkway. Maybe it actually went there - and maybe it did not but we never saw the parkway or any other sign. We were just driving in New Jersey, somewhat in the correct direction. This time we routed the GPS to the GSP South. We drove for over an hour, maybe longer, only to wind up just about where we started and came upon the Garden State Parkway - south entrance. Finally. Driving in New Jersey can be like this - and NJ is the home of traffic circles - no left turns - until you get to the right in the one place where there is, unexpectedly, no traffic circle and you need to make a left. The Roadtrek is a large vehicle and top heavy. It also has limited visibility around it. It is not the type of vehicle that you want to make sudden turns or change lanes quickly in.

We were back on the parkway to Atlantic City. Time again to relax and enjoy the day. To go to Atlantic City you connect from the Garden State Parkway to the Atlantic City Expressway and this takes you right into the middle of the city close to the Boardwalk and in the midst of all the casinos.

There are two areas of casinos in Atlantic City. The main set is along the Boardwalk. There are also a few off to the other edge of the city at what is called the Marina. We were heading to the Showboat Casino parking lot which is the last casino on one end of the Boardwalk. I chose this one because we have seen the outdoor parking lot there and I knew that we could park the Roadtrek with no problem. Other casinos seem to have outdoor parking lots. This one is large and open. I recalled that there was a large iron fence around the parking lot and I was right. What I had not realized was that there was easy access in and out around that fence so the only security would be from the parking lot cashier's booths - one on each side street. It costs money to park in the casino lots in Atlantic City. If you have a player's card from the casino it is discounted. We came with such a card. You pay one price for the whole day or any part of the day - and you pay when you leave.

We parked in an open area not too far from one of the cashier's booths. We closed up all of the windows - we have made curtains, plus the curtains that the Roadtrek came with on the windows, that do not permit anyone to look inside. I beeped the remote to lock the doors and off we went to the Showboat Casino entrance which was right across the street.

You enter here at the bus entrance and make your way through the heavy cigarette smoke of those waiting for their free or heavily compensated bus ride home. You walk down the hallway and come into the hotel lobby which immediately leads to the casino. The theme of this casino is riverboat gambler with a French accent. Every casino in Atlantic City - maybe all over the US - has the same distinctive sounds - slot machine alarms going off paying a jackpot, the sounds of machines being played - symphony of electronic bells and whistles.

I have liked Atlantic City since before there were casinos. My family would come here for a weekend or a week's vacation when I was younger - primarily in my teen years. Then the Boardwalk was filled with hucksters trying to entice you into their showrooms to sell you some very cheap things at very expensive prices. There is little of that remaining, though there are plenty of little shops selling overpriced gifts and souvenirs. I cannot go to Atlantic City and not recall the cons that would happen on the Boardwalk - all a great deal of entertainment if you had the willpower to resist getting involved. Then there were the piers - of which only a little remains. So long ago, I saw the diving horse at the Steel Pier (a little amusement park now is on a pier where the Steel Pier once stood). The Steep Pier was a wonder in those days. There were several movie theaters inside, a concert arena, rides and carnival type attractions - and all for one low admission price. Further along the Boardwalk there was the Italian Pier and inside that (the piers were covered over and mostly were roofed buildings over the water. The Italiian Pier was the place to go for great Italian sandwiches. That pier is still there, no name now, and the sandwiches are just a memory. There are still frozen custard stands on the Boardwalk and of course, you can still get fresh made salt water taffy. It is all still rinky-dink, but it is nothing like the past. For awhile this all went even further downhill and the city was desperate for a revival - and then the casinos came. At that point it was Atlantic City or Las Vegas if you wanted to casino gamble in the US. It turned the Boardwalk around, but did little for the bulk of the city which is still a high crime and poverty area. If you visit Atlantic City do not go more than two streets away from the Boardwalk. This is one of the reasons that we suspect that local ordinances prohibit overnight parking in the parking lots - safety.

We took a relaxing walk down the Boardwalk. About halfway down we stopped to go into the casino restaurant that I had decided upon to see if there was a wait. It was after 6:30 anyway, and it necessary we would just get on line which we discovered was necessary right then if we wanted to have dinner before the restaurant closed. We waited over an hour to get in to eat.

After dinner, we went back out to the Boardwalk. Because of the cooler temperatures of this day and the hotter temperatures coming in for the next day - plus the ocean being right there, a thick fog had come in and all of the neon lights were surrounded in a hazy glow. Oh boy! I am not a fan of driving in the fog to begin with - though I have done it. But with the Roadtrek that I was still getting familiar driving, I started to wonder if we might just be better off finding a place to park and "camp" for the night. No matter what we had to get out of Atlantic City, so we started walking back to the Showboat and the Roadtrek. Ah well. I had been looking forward to a night walk on the Boardwalk.

We made our way walking through the fog, avoiding being run over by the Boardwalk's mode of transportation - the rolling chairs. Men and women push these chairs on wheels with you and your family in them. They often do not care if anyone is walking in front of them. They are not inexpensive - and often you can just as easily walk than ride. We arrived at the Showboat. Looking up at the tall hotels you could not see the tops in the fog and most of the lights were just a subdued glow.

Outside in the parking lot, the fog was noticeably less. We could easily see the Roadtrek. We got in, took down the cloaking curtains and set the GPS for home. I figured that once we left the city and were more inland we would evaluate the fog.

When you drive into and out of Atlantic City you drive with the water on each side of you. The fog here was also not as thick as it had been on the Boardwalk. Visibility out the windshield was not bad. We would encounter several other places that we would be close to the ocean along the trip. Move onward and see was how we proceeded. The Atlantic City Expressway was not too bad and once on the Garden State Parkway there was no fog. The radio weather report - now that the radio in the Roadtrek was fixed we could get weather reports - said that the next day would be into the 100's. It would be a good idea to get home and not deal with that heat. Whatever geographic and weather conditions had resulted in that thick, heavy fog in Atlantic City, it was no where else. And that was good.

We got home without any more fog. It was late when we left New Jersey and it was very late when we got home. We left everything in the Roadtrek that we had with us for the day and went in the house and went to bed. Not a camping trip as it turned out, but it had not been intended as one. Think of it as time to get better acquainted with the Roadtrek; this was something that I needed to do.


  1. Sir, just wanted to drop you a note to say, this is great stuff. I intend to get a ROADTREK myself, and all the information (gouge, as we say in the Navy), will save me a lot of hard lessons learned. Keep plugging away, and keep the information flowing! I check out your blog every other day!

    Very respectfully,

    Donnie Gamboa

    1. I agree. I too am planning on purchasing a Roadtrek and this information is extremely valuable. But not as valuable as your service.....thank you for what you do Capt!