Gr8LakesCamper: What started us down the RV road

January 25, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 17 Comments 

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Brighton 1The following post tells the story of how my family and I got into RVing. I tell this story in the hope you also might care to share what, or who, first got you into RVing.

As for me, my extended family have been RVers for years, and growing up I always envied the tales of their camping trips. Little did I know that the RVing bug had bit me way back then, but it turned out to be an infection itching at me for many, many years before I was able to apply the ointment. It only took about 10 or so years of me whining like a hungry dog every time we passed an RV dealership before my wife finally uttered those three wonderful words … “Oh, all right.”

The first of my family to start us all down the RVing road were my grandparents, Art and Curley Brighton. That’s them in the picture, with two of my uncles sticking their heads out the window of the 1971 25-foot Superior. I love that photo, especially how proud my grandpa looks holding a bucket of KFC!

My grandparents were prolific RVers; they traveled from Alaska to the Panama Canal and all parts in between during their five decades of travel in their various motor homes. Actually, they first started by car-camping, sleeping in the back of their ridiculously huge Town & Country station wagon. Their first motor home was the brand new Superior. They enjoyed that big green motor home for over a dozen years until they bought a new 35-foot Holiday Rambler in 1984. Then in 1987 they bought a 33-foot Foretravel, and finally a 1989 33-foot Foretravel Grand Villa motor home only three years after that. They traveled quite a bit, especially after they both retired from teaching. Often they hooked up with the FMCA-sponsored rallies for months at a time, and later they would say those rallies were among their best RVing memories.

My grandparents have since passed on, but they passed on their love of RVing to several of their eight children and 28 grandchildren (31 great-grandchildren and counting!). My Uncle Art and Aunt Ellen have a 42-foot Monaco Dynasty motor home, my Uncle Tom and Aunt Diane have a 2004 Nomad North Trail fifth wheel, my parents have a 25-foot Keystone Outback travel trailer, my Uncle Bob and Aunt Sharon just bought a 2001 24-foot Trail Lite fifth wheel and my Uncle Ed and Aunt Sandy have a 2003 27-foot Rockwood travel trailer.

My Uncle Art and Aunt Ellen were full-timers for a few years and had previously owned a 40-foot Monaco Windsor and a Southwind before that, but my Uncle Ed and Aunt Sandy hold the record for number of campers owned: They bought the last Foretravel motor home from my grandparents, and their other travel trailers were a 1998 Dutchmen, 1978 28-foot Yellowstone, 1976 25-foot Golden Nugget and a 1984 19-foot Sportsman.

I also have a few cousins who are RVers; Matt and Tracy own a 2005 21-foot Keystone Outback travel trailer, and Jill and Bob were proud owners of a pop-up camper until it was completely destroyed when they were rear-ended a few years back (crumpled like a pile of kindling wood, they said).

Us? We’re the proud owners of a new-to-us 2000 Trail Lite Bantam 23-foot hybrid we bought in 2007. It sleeps all five of us, has tons of storage and has withstood many of my modifications. Plus, it’s paid for!

What do we love about RVing? Probably for many of the same reasons that you and other RVers love about it! Before our RV, we tent-camped a few times, always cursing the trek to the vault toilet in the middle of the night and the cold hard ground every morning. Not so with the RV! We’re off the ground, sleep in (mostly) comfortable beds and the bathroom – like everything else we decide to bring – goes where we go.

I like to think of our camper as a cottage-on-wheels. We can take our cottage most anywhere, and although we have a few favorite campgrounds we always seem to return to, we enjoy discovering new campgrounds in distant locations and all the area has to offer. My favorite thing about camping is sitting around the campfire, a s’more in one hand and a cold beverage in the other, and doing nothing more than relaxing and laughing with family and friends.

So there you have it. My story is not that unusual from other RVers, but it is my story and one I enjoy adding to each and every time we go camping.

Now it’s your turn. How did you get started into RVing?

From the personal blog: It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on, so there’s a couple of dozen posts on my companion blog you might want to take a look at. Most are travel-related, including a Frank Lloyd Wright tour of eight homes and Wintertime events in Chicago. A few RV-specific posts include a comprehensive list of North American RV shows now through April (complete with links), the planned expansion of Detroit-based General RV dealership and my take on RV Buddies’ recent poll results of what features people want in an RV.

Gr8LakesCamper celebrates the world of RV Camping in the Midwest. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook and the personal blog.

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Affinity Events To Host 17 RV Events During Spring 2010 Show Season

December 15, 2009 by RV Today Archive · 3 Comments 

Coming off a successful fall show season, Affinity Events will host 17 consumer RV shows during the 2010 spring show season. Affinity Events and show exhibitors are combining efforts to bring the latest RV models and camping supplies to outdoor recreation enthusiasts across the country. The upcoming shows will also feature various campgrounds from across the United States, offering RVers a chance to shop and plan an exciting summer vacation.

“Our fall shows helped bring RV dealers and enthusiasts together at a critical time in the RV industry,” said Tom Gaither, senior V.P. of Affinity Events. “It was a win-win show season. Our exhibiting dealers moved inventory and buyers capitalized on ‘Screamin’ Deals’ offered at the shows.” The Affinity Events fall RV shows drew strong crowds and helped participating dealers sell to first-time buyers as well as long-time RV enthusiasts. Gaither points to Affinity’s strong connections to RV enthusiasts through its many clubs, services, media outlets and events as a key differentiator for Affinity shows. “The relationships we maintain with RVers offer us an intimate understanding of the RV industry,” said Gaither. “We are proud to match RV buyers with dealers and we look forward to continued success for our show exhibitors in 2010.” Read more

VIDEO: Wild Alaska from behind the scenes

August 20, 2009 by Brian Brawdy · 3 Comments 

VIDEO: Wild Alaska from behind the scenes with Brian Brawdy

A few years back, and on assignment for a local CBS affiliate, I had the adventure of a lifetime in Denali National Park in Alaska. With a Lance Camper was my mobile base camp, I traveled throughout the park on a “photographers permit” and was able to experience some pretty, amazing terrains, wildlife and weather.

This experience being my first in an RV, I was obviously hooked from that point forward.

Photographer/videographer Michael Mauro shot the footage you are about to see. Although the audio/script is a bit dated, the video footage of flora and fauna is timeless. Be advised: These are wild animals, acting wild.

Learn more about Brian Brawdy at

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VIDEO: Bracken Bat Cave – Home to the Largest Bat Colony in the World

August 8, 2009 by Brian Brawdy · 1 Comment 

by Brian Brawdy

As an explorer and full-time RVer, I am constantly looking for new lessons; for new ways to learn from the wilderness at hand. Bringing the far away to my own front door is a passion of mine; learning while I am there is a necessity.

“Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.” I think that’s how William Wordsworth put it. This week during an appearance in Austin, Texas at Princess Craft Campers and Trailers I met a local college Professor with a passion for RVs and exploration. John asked if I had ever witnessed the “emergence at Bracken Cave” or the “20 Million plus bats that make the cave home.”

“Not yet, the day is young” I replied. “To the Bat Cave”…so to speak.

Just about 20 miles outside of San Antonio, Texas the Bracken Bat Cave and the Colony that lives there, is far and away, one of the coolest natural occurrences I have ever witnessed. Read more

Into Denali National Park, Alaska

July 31, 2009 by Dan Parlow · 11 Comments 

One of the last remaining wildernesses can be witnessed in Denali National Park, as can be attested to by the Rogers’ last trip described in their epic travel diary, The Rogers’ Adventure commencing at their Tok to Fairbanks journal entry. Mountains, rivers and diverse wildlife decorate the pristine, remote area in Alaska that was originally designed as a safe habitat for Dall sheep.

Traveling into Denali National Peak takes visitors along the Tenana river valley, passing through several small towns such as Nenana. Native tongue translates “Nenana” as meaning point of camping between two rivers; referring to the intersection of the Tenana and Nenana Rivers. The city of Nenana is an important shipping port, with a variety of foods, freight and fuel coming in for distribution to small towns along the river. The town of Healy is another great tourist stop, well known as being the location for the largest coal mine in Alaska, the Usibelli Coal Mine. While the mine is not open to the public, it supplies millions of tons of coal toward the operation of 6 major power plants in the State of Alaska, as well as being a chief export item to Chile and South Korea.


Denali Park itself was established in 1917, although known at that time by the name of Mount McKinley National Park after President McKinley. It wasn’t until 1980 that the park was renamed Denali National Park. In the native Athabascan language, Denali means “high one”. Fifteen miles into the park brings the visitor to the Information Center, which describes the very essence of the Park; the seasons, the history, the culture of the Athabascan people and the wildlife.

Wildlife viewing is at its optimal peak in Denali National Park. Moose, sheep, wolves, fox, grizzly bears, lynx and much more call this isolated scenic treat their home. Many of the animals have adapted their very physiques in order to survive in this vast magnificent territory; Ptarmigans are the perfect example, changing their coloration from white during the winter to brown during the summer for camouflage.

In season, the Park is bedecked in numerous flower varieties and also berry bushes; blueberries and cranberries that entice and feed the grizzlies who live in the protective boundaries of Denali. Rock formations add great character and interest to the landscape along the Savage River that runs through the Park. Dall sheep can often be seen standing haughtily erect on the sheer cliffs of the mountains; the living reason for the Park’s very existence.


Tourists yearning a more adventurous exploration of Denali National Park can book a seat on board a shuttle bus that transports guests further into the Park about 60 miles. The trip is rustic and the travel rugged, as about 45 miles of the road trekking internally is all gravel. The bus ride takes around five hours, roundtrip.

Any traveler seeking to view one of the last remaining wilderness areas of the world can find that and much, much more when visiting Denali National Park in Alaska. Beautiful landscapes, diverse terrain and fascinating wildlife will delight anyone traveling to the “Top of the World”.

Dan Parlow

Personal Travel Websites by RV.Net ; Online Travel Journals by ; Explore Good Sam Club Trip Journals ;Woodalls Trip Journals ; Travel Journals by Trailer Life Directory ; Traveling USA Travel Blogs

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Eleven tips for planning for a road trip

June 27, 2009 by Jaimie Hall Bruzenak · 5 Comments 

Not all RVers travel full time. If you are not a full-time RVer and plan to be gone for a significant amount of time, how do you make sure you bring everything you need? Here are eleven tips:

1. Create a list. As the trip approaches, anytime you think of something you want to take, write it down. You could have either different lists or have separate categories for personal items for each of you and one for the RV. Also have a things to do list. When it is time to start packing, transfer your list to a computer and print it out to make a checklist. Take the list along on your trip and add to it if you find you have forgotten anything so you can improve your checklist for the next trip.

Read more

Blogging to Alaska

April 26, 2009 by Chris Guld · 600 Comments 

Most RVers we know have either already driven to Alaska, or they want to drive to Alaska. Our friends, Greg and Marilyn Gundy drove there and spent over 3 months in 2007. They’ve been talking about it non-stop ever since and are going back … right now! The best part is that Greg is a writer, photographer, and avid Blogger. That means we can all go along!

In case you don’t know what a blog is … I’m talking about a travelogue that anyone can create on the web. Your own personal journal/photo album/travel map that you can allow anyone to see. It’s a fabulous way to keep in touch with friends and family you’ve left behind. And it’s surprisingly easy. Whenever you visit a Blog – you will see the most recent post (article) on top. As you scroll down, you will be going back in time. Read more

Will Drilling ANWR Ease the Oil Crisis?

June 21, 2008 by Bob Difley · 68 Comments 

With fuel prices continuing to climb with no peak in sight, arguments have re-surfaced for drilling off the coasts of Florida and California, on public lands, and in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Offshore drilling has been banned for 27 years and both presidential candidates are against drilling in the ANWR. But how valid are the arguments made for tapping into America’s oil reserves to lower our foreign oil imports and the price of oil? This subject has legions of supporters and detractors, especially when the subject of ANWR comes up.

Read more

Best Alaska Trip Journals

June 3, 2008 by Dan Parlow · 1 Comment 

I love living travel vicariously through others’ footsteps. Definitely the next best thing to being there.

Alaska rivals any place on earth for its sheer beauty. Here are my favourites of the best Alaska Trip Journals over the past 12 months. A huge thank-you to these incredible authors/photographers:

Most beautiful sunset, from ‘Wiseman9′:

Sunset near Whittier, Alaska

Most territory covered, from ‘AlaskaExpedition2007′:

Most Alaska Territory covered by one trip journal

Cutest bird, from ‘Tschumper’s Alaskan Journey 2007′:

Alaskan Puffin

Most colourful photo, from ‘Holladays in Alaska’:

Most Colourful Nature Shot - Moose in Denali National Park

Trip farthest afield, from ‘BinkleyAlaska2007′:

Trip Journal Farthest Afield Within Alaska

Best glacier shot, from ‘Holladays in Alaska’:

Worthington Glacier near Valdez, AK

Dan Parlow

Personal Travel Websites by RV.Net ; Online Travel Journals by ; Explore Good Sam Club Trip Journals ; Woodalls Trip Journals ; Travel Journals by Trailer Life Directory ; Traveling USA Travel Blogs

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On the Trail…in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

April 1, 2008 by Ron Dalby · 1 Comment 

Holgate Glacier

On the Trail is bringing you this tantalizing picture of Holgate Glacier in Alaska as a means of announcing plans for a series of blogs beginning in May. The series will be titled “North to Alaska” and will take readers from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast and then north to Alaska, through Alaska, and back. So far, I’ve driven the Alaska Highway some 35 times and the fourth edition of my book on the subject is due out later this month. I think it is safe to say that I know what to see and where to go as well as where to get the best price for gas and just who is gouging for gas.

North to Alaska will cover all these subjects and tell you how to visit this glacier as part of your trip, where to best see a bear or a moose or even a whale. Anyone who is looking for specific information about anything between Virginia and Alaska should post a comment on this blog or on any of the North to Alaska blogs as we go along. I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions about driving to Alaska in the modern age. This is going to be a great trip and you’re invited to come along.

If you’re interested in obtaining a copy of Guide to the Alaska Highway or archival-quality prints of any of the photos you see in my blogs, please leave a message under comments below or e-mail me directly at The books and pictures will also soon be available at my web site,

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