Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It Isn't All Peaches and Cream Part 4

It seems that through 2014 and now into 2015 here in the Northeast the weather has been the major factor in just about everything. Right now we have had week after week of snow and ice storms, multiples each week, and now recording breaking cold for this area with no sign that things will change anytime soon despite Spring being just weeks away. This past summer's rain has continued its pattern now with snow. Well, the Roadtrek is on the driveway and gets covered with snow and then it melts, only to be covered with snow again. Well, that is for another article but for now, we will go back in time to the end of July 2014.

We have an annual reenacting-related event that we attend during the last full weekend in July in Pennsylvania not far from Allentown - Dixon's Gunmaker's Fair. This is an outdoor event that I wrote about in 2013. Since it is an outdoor event the weather - once again - is significant to going or not. We attend for one day and combine this trip with a trip over to Hershey, PA where there is an annual quilt exposition held this same week. We plan to arrive in Pennsylvania on Thursday, go to the quilt snow on Friday, and then go to Dixon's on Saturday - home Saturday night. We meet some of the other members of our Revolutionary War reenacting unit at Dixon's. Weather reports, of course, for those days was dismal. I watched the forecasts and waited before making a reservation at the campground that is close to Dixon's. The afternoon before the event we finally called and made a reservation.

It was decent the day that we left - it had been raining in Pennsylvania the day before. We arrived at the campground (Pine Hill RV Park in Kutztown, PA) and went into the office for our space. This is a family owned and operated campground and we were greeted by the mother of the lady who is the owner. For some reason she seemed to think that we needed a space close to the restrooms - perhaps assuming that our Roadtrek had none of its own, though I don't know why as we were taking a site with full hookups, and she decided to give us one of the sites in the front of the campground near the office. When we were here last, we were in a site halfway into the campground and the site  was very good. We drove over to the site that we were just assigned and I saw quickly that this side of the campground was on a hill leading down to the area that we had been before. The sites went along down that hill - and while they were near level front to back, they were not even close to level side to side. I spent a half hour trying every possible position in the site before I gave up and sent Meryl back to the office for another site. They are always surprised when you say a site is not level and you can't get level in it. My theory is that the van is not big enough to find the footprint for a large trailer of Class A to get level - plus those RVs often have auto-levelers - push a button and it mechanically levels. Meryl returned with another site number which was not much better, but I was able to get into a diagonal position that was near enough level to be comfortable. (I will say this again - we don't need to be level for our refrigerator as it is all electric (condenser) but I am very sensitive to being on an angle and I need to get the Roadtrek as close to level as I can to be able to be comfortable inside. This is my problem and while I have spoken with others that experience the same thing, it is not something that everyone cares about - but I do.) While we usually get into a campground and find out spot on the site and check out the electric connections in twenty minutes or so, this time we spent over an hour.  We like to go over to the Pennsylvania Cabela's store in the town of Hamburg that is about ten miles away when we come to this area and we finally were able to get in the Roadtrek and go - but not before we marked the exact spot on the campsite using the reflective markers that I made to sit on the gravel along side the tire positions. If you are going to stay at Pine Hill in Kutztown, request a site in the lower half of the campground the section furthest from the office.

Cabela's is always fun and if you are any place where there is a Cabela's store go. It is what is called a destination store - a store people travel to just to go to the store. It is an outdoor store with everything including a walk through aquarium with local game fish. They sell clothing for various outdoor activities, camping gear, fishing gear, a very large firearms department with a museum where the museum guns are for sale, museum-quality displays of game animals both from the US and around the world, a restaurant, and a shooting gallery with laser rifles. There is also an archery range. Many Cabela's allow overnight RV parking and have a free dump station and water available for RVs. This Cabela's varies as to whether it is allowed or not. There are apparently regulations in the area that say no, but many say that this Cabela's will allow it.  There are often RVs in the lot when we have been to the store. We had a fine time at Cabela's before heading off for dinner and then back to the campground.

The next day we went to the quilt show in Hershey, PA. and that was good. Nothing exciting to say about it - unless you like quilts. It has a large sales floor for quilting and sewing supplies and related tools and items, sewing and quilting machines, and fabrics. As we are both fiber artists and Meryl is an embroiderer we both enjoy this show as it is one of the better quilt shows. The exiting part of the day with the Roadtrek came after the quilt show.

Near Hershey, PA is the Hollywood Casino. It has been there for only several years. Before this trip, I decided that it might be nice to go to this casino - have dinner, etc. I had heard that there was no problem parking an RV here - especially a Roadtrek. Often these casinos have specific RV parking lots and I contacted the casino before the trip to find out about parking our Roadtrek. The main parking for the casino is an indoor parking garage and the Roadtrek is too tall to go inside. There are also surface parking lots.  I explained in my email to the casino that the Roadtrek was no larger than a passenger van and that we can easily fit in a regular parking space. The reply that I got back was that the Roadtrek must be parked in a lot that they have for trucks and RVs and absolutely may not be parked in any other lot. I was to follow the signs on the road past the casino to this special lot. Fine. No problem - I thought.

So we leave the quilt show and drive over to the casino. As we approach the casino entrance on what is not much more than a country road, we see a sign that says "RV and Truck Parking - 1 mile" with an arrow straight ahead. We pass the casino driveway and keep going. As we come to the end of the road there is a sign pointing to the right and we turn right on that road and about 500 feet further ahead there is a small sign to the right again into a poorly paved road that becomes dirt, gravel, and broken pavement. We see ahead of us a small field filled completely with tractor trailer trucks parked just about wherever they decided to stop. The lot was small and there were pot holes and broken pavement where there wasn't just dirt. Along side there were maintenance buildings and no one at all in attendance or in sight. Could this be it? Yes, it was. We drove around the lot twice looking for a place to park the Roadtrek. There were no other RVs - odd, as this was Friday night in July. Other tractor trailers were pulling into the lot and also driving around looking for a place to park and with their size they pretty much make their own spaces. Now, there was one spot that we could have put the Roadtrek - in between the front of one truck on one side and the back of another on the other side. I could just see that one backing up to get out - it was just too close. I looked at the large regular parking lot that was not far away, but the casino in there message to me about parking was very direct - don't or you may be towed. We finally gave up and left. We just about made it to another restaurant that we know for dinner some distance away. Well, it's not all peaches and cream...  With a Roadtrek, Hollywood Casino in Pennsylvania is not for you. When we returned home, I wrote to the casino about what I found and what took place - I got no answer back so I guess they just don't care.

The next day was Dixon's and we headed over there before noon. Parking for Dixon's for this event is in a large grass field and it had been raining a few days before. The field was soft and that gave me some concern. There are a few places in the field with some gravel and what once was a partially paved road. I had hoped for a space on one of those more solid spots but we had no such luck and I hesitantly parked the Roadtrek on soft, partially muddy spot. I tried to position one of back tires on a bit of gravel just to give some traction when we were leaving. The Roadtrek is heavy - much heavier than a standard van and you never really want to get it into mud. It was fine.

So what about the noises. Well, where the pavement is smooth, the ride is smooth and the noises are almost non-existent. Where the pavement is rough or bumpy the noises are there and at this point were still not identifiable as to source. It was no worse, and no better. It is not until the next trip that we start to find one big one.

End of Part 4
Part 5 next.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


We are interrupting our  "It Isn't All Peaches and Cream" series for a special first on this site. We are presenting an article written and illustrated by one of our readers - Nancy O'C. We have not turned over a complete article to one of our readers before. We will return to our series with Part 4 in the next article.

Two of our readers - Nancy and Mike O'C. have a great idea for adding storage to their Roadtrek and has agreed to share it with our readers. They have a 2012 Roadtrek 190 Popular (one year newer than ours) and have found a way to create a temporary "shelf". They have called this a "Gear Loft". This will work in a Roadtrek without the front overhead sliding shelf that is an option in some Roadtreks. We have this. It is a shelf with a drop door on the front that is located over the driver and passenger seats in the front of the van.

This shelf slides forward to allow use of the overhead dome lights over the windshield when sitting in the Roadtrek at night. the shelf or perhaps better described as a cabinet adds permanent storage over the front of the Roadtrek. With this shelf we could not use the Gear Loft as described but could use it when the shelf is pushed all the way forward, though this position would cause a problem walking through under it. HOWEVER - without this option in your Roadtrek you will definitely benefit from Nancy and Mike's idea of the Gear Loft!

At this point I turn this article over to Nancy -


The gear loft temporary "shelf" idea comes in handy and takes no room to stash away when you don't need it. You could probably make this work very easily with one large mesh laundry bag and any 4 STURDY bag clips and any 4 SMALL cords.

We used a set of four very small bungee cords - each one maybe about 6-8" long with small black wire hooks on each end of the cords. (We might have found them in a little bag of various sized small bungees near the checkout at Home Depot or Lowes.) They actually stretch a little, so it might be better to just use short pieces of cord to prevent the shelf from sagging too much.

The plastic "bag clips" we used were the kind you find at places like Bed Bath and Beyond. These clips also have a hole in the part of the clip that you squeeze and also there's a rubber surface on the clip end - so it holds onto the Roadtrek's wooden rail without scratching it or slipping off. The hole is handy for attaching the bungee cords to the clips, but if you can't find clips with a hole, you could still do this. You'd just have to attach the cords to the clips some other way.

(NOTE: Even with these sturdy clips that have a strong, flat grip, if you put too much weight on the "shelf" it will sag and can pull the clips off wood rail. The only solution would probably be to find a way to attach the "shelf" to the side rails by using maybe some screw-in hooks that you could loop the cords over.)

Bed Bath and Beyond is also where we had bought a set of three laundry bags (the white mesh kind with a small one and a medium one that you can use to put small washable clothing items in before you throw them in the washing machine and a larger one to store dirty clothes in.) Use the larger mesh bag for the shelf. When you lay it flat, it's a rectangle. It will be two layers thick and maybe about 24-30" long and about 18-24" wide or something like that.

For each corner, I ran the bungee cord through the hole in the clip. Then I ran the wire hook at one end of the cord through both layers of net in one corner of the rectangle.  Be sure to run the wire through both layers of mesh try to include enough of the mesh (and include the seam where it's available) so the mesh is less likely to fray when bearing the weight of whatever you store on it.) Then I used pliers to pinch both wire hooks together - so the cord loop is permanently attached to the net and to the clip.

Just do that for each of the four corners and you're good to go.  You have a double layered net "shelf" with two clips to use on the rails towards the front of the van and two clips to use on the rails towards the back of the van. Just be sure to stretch each corner when you secure them to the side rails so the shelf doesn't sag too much when you start piling stuff on top.

You can fold or roll up the bag with the bungees and clips attached to each corner and store it behind the side rail or in the cabinet above the windshield. When you want to use it again, just stretch the bag lengthwise from left to right and attach the two "front" clips on the wooden rail above the driver's side door and above the passenger side door. Then attach the two "back" clips as far back as you can stretch the "shelf" away from the windshield. You can adjust the position of the clips to make the net nice and taut so it doesn't sag too much.

 We use the smaller zippered mesh bags (that come in the set with the laundry bag) for packing on camping trips or any travel we do. In the Roadtrek, we each use one of the two big upper cabinets above the bed to store our clothes and it was always a hassle to pull out stacks of clothes to try to find what we're looking for. We've got several of the smaller mesh bags (one set for Mike and one set for me) that we use now to keep clean clothes organized - underwear in one bag, rolled up tops in another, jeans and pants rolled up in another. It makes it so easy to stuff more things into the cabinets and pull them out and find what you need. (It's also great to use the mesh bags for packing when traveling with a suitcase. Keeps everything organized on the way and at your destination.)

Hope some of this will be helpful to someone.


Thank you so much, Nancy and Mike!

*The photos that accompany Nancy's text were taken and provided by Nancy and Mike and are used with their permission.