Gr8LakesCamper: Detroit Camper & RV Show reports huge attendance

March 7, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 17 Comments 

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Thought I might pass along this bit of good news.

The 45th Annual Detroit Camper & RV Show experienced its best show in 10 years. The show, which ran from Feb. 16-20 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, recorded 18,400 attendees — a 12 percent increase from the 2010 show. The show was sponsored by the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC).

Saturday alone saw over 9,000 attendees, making it the busiest day in MARVAC RV show history. According to Bill Sheffer, director of MARVAC, show visitors lined up on Saturday before the show opened, with strong ticket sales continuing all day.

I was able to attend the show on its opening day – more later on why I wasn’t able to go other days – and personally saw a ton of people going in and out of the 280 RVs on display. I was also able to talk to several of the RV dealers both that day and more recently, after the show was over and they had time to recuperate. Many reported customers looking for smaller, lightweight and more fuel-efficient RVs.

“Buyers are back,” said Victoria Rokas of Vicars Trailer Sales in Taylor. “Customers were upbeat, positive and confident about purchasing an RV as they look for more value for their dollar.”

“Overwhelming” was the word used by another dealer, Tim O’Brien of Circle ‘K’ RV in Lapeer. “All our salespeople were so busy.”

O’Brien said the record number of people attending the show – and willing to do more than just kick the tires – is a sure sign that the economy is improving. And that’s saying something, because southeast Michigan has been one of the hardest hit regions in the entire country during this past (current?) recession.

“I call it ‘frugal fatigue’,” O’Brien said. “People have been frugal for so long that they’re tired of it. They’re ready to get out and start looking at things, and – I know I’m biased here – but RVing is one of the most affordable ways to travel and spend recreation time. Dollar for dollar, RVs offer the most bang for your buck.”

RaptorRP365LEV_Garage_BtoFLarry See, of A&S RV Center in Auburn Hills, said he, too, was very busy during the show. That opening day I tried talking with him at length, but he understandably was needing to excuse himself as people constantly wanted him to talk about the Keystone Raptor Velocity 5th Wheel and its “rear porch” feature (which is pictured at left).

According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, RVs are now attracting young buyers between the ages of 18 and 34. In fact, the fastest growing group of RV buyers falls in this age demographic, although buyers between the ages of 35 and 54 remain the largest segment of RV owners.

MARVAC’s Sheffer noted the same trend at the Detroit Camper & RV Show, saying “show attendees varied in age, but large numbers of families with young children were prevalent throughout the day.”

As I said, I was able to attend the first day of the show, and Sheffer told me then that a banking official had casually mentioned his bank was offering nearly $100 million in financing to RV buyers, nearly double from the previous year. Sheffer added that within several minutes of the show’s opening, one dealer was already closing on sales to a handful of customers.

My thoughts on the show? It was bittersweet. It was great, but I was only able to go for a few hours of the first day. I had planned on going every day, but life got in the way.

If you want to read more about my experiences at the show, you can read the post from my companion blog here. In it, I talk more about the Raptor Velocity as well as the Fleetwood Terra and its Hide-A-Loft feature and the brand new Holiday Rambler Trip motor home.

From the companion blog: It’s been a while since I’ve posted at, so I must have about 30-40 posts on my companion blog. Most of them are about great specials and events at popular travel destinations, including St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago and in Saugatuck, Michigan, Newsbits from the Illinois DNR, and the Ohio DNR offering big discounts at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park.

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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See you at The Rally!

July 18, 2010 by Chris Guld · 9 Comments 


We hope to see you all at The Rally in Louisville, KY this week.  We’ll be hanging out in the booth (#340) much of the time.  Check out this listing of all 278 Vendors and their booth numbers.

When we’re not in the booth, it’s probably because we’re presenting one of our 5 seminars:

  1. Internet on the Road: Wed 8:30 – 10 Seminar E
  2. Every RVer Needs a Blog Thu 8:30 – 10 Seminar C
  3. Picasa  Fri 1pm – 2:30 Seminar B
  4. GPS & Streets and Trips: Sat 8:30 – 10 Seminar G
  5. Photo Story 3 Sun 1pm – 2:30 Seminar E

And, we’re not the only ones giving seminars!  Here’s the listing of all the seminars you can attend at the Rally.


Here’s a video with Brian Brawdy from last year’s rally:

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A Well Kept Secret. The Best RV Shows in The Country

May 13, 2010 by Lug_Nut · 18 Comments 

RV Show 026

A Lug_Nut tip.   RV shows throughout the country each year create excitement and attract tens of thousands of eager enthusiasts.  For the price of the admission you can view all the latest products from million dollar rigs to the latest five dollar camping gadget.  This is the one stop spot where you can view all, or certainly most, of the RV manufacturer’s offerings.  It is a place that makes comparing different rigs far easier.




If, however, you are really interested in buying a particular unit, be it a motorized or towed vehicle, better get there early, and if possible not on a weekend.  Viewing and getting the sales people’s full attention can be very challenging when they are besieged by the crowds.  New designs and high end units are normally flooded with people, many of whom have no intention of buying, let alone even affording, such a rig.  But, for the admission they paid, they feel entitled to view all.

RV Show 020There are, however, other RV shows that go on throughout the country that you may not know about.  These shows, many of which deal with the higher end products, are more personal and are aimed at the RV buyer that may be looking at moving up.  In general they attract only hundreds, not tens of thousands.  There is no admission charge to go to one of these events and personal attention from any or all of the vendors is assured.

RV Show 013These unique shows can be found at select RV resorts across the country.  Resorts such as RiverBend Motor Coach Resort, Pelican Lake Motor Coach Resort, Outdoor Resorts, and Signature Coach Resorts are just some found in the state of Florida that host these each year.  They are not private events, they are all open to the public.

RV Show 007I have attended several in South Florida over the past few years and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one.  The personal attention and the caliber of the sales people that are assigned to these events far exceed the conventional RV show offering.  By far the most elaborate show that I attended this year was at RiverBend in LaBelle Florida.  It had the same glittering coach line up as the others, middle to high end products all the way up to over two million dollars.  But, there was free shuttle from the parking lot, live music, hoe down, full bar, restaurant, beer tent, hot dog stand, craft show, vendors booths, the largest “G” scale operating train set in a Florida RV park and even free hot air balloon rides in the ReMax Airship.  All of this was topped off with a gala sold out dinner prepared by the Hendry County Cattleman’s Association with live entertainment and dancing.  Needless to say, this two day event was worth attending.

RV Show 015


So, how do you find out about these exclusive shows throughout the country?  Ask around, watch for advertising.  Ask your local RV dealer, your camping neighbor or your camp host.  Following forums like RV.NET can also be a great way to find out what’s happening and learn about such events.




Let’s hear from those that have been to one of these and those who have not, but would like to.

Just Thought You Should Know   -   Lug_Nut   -    Peter Mercer     


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From Bookdocking to Bugging Out, the SRMR covers it all

April 13, 2010 by Brian Brawdy · 3 Comments 

by Brian Brawdy

I like to think of it as my “Just in Case Place.” Balanced between wanting to boondock or needing to bug out, the SRMR (Self Reliant Mobile Residence) has multiple functions.

From the moment I began RVing, I realized the duel purposes of recreating on the one hand and evacuating on the other. There is no better way to bolt to somewhere or from something. Family vacationing emergency vacating, your home away from home can be a perfect base camp, wherever you find yourself. In a few short weeks I will be launching 3 videos here on highlighting the engineering and building of the SRMR. Read more Forum Featured Threads (Feb. 12-19)

February 19, 2010 by RV Today Archive · 3 Comments 

Here is a sampling of some of the more popular threads this past week (February 12-19, 2010) on the Open Roads Forum. Each is sure to either entertain or inform (or both):

(Participation on the Open Roads Forums is completely free. Feel free to read at your leisure. Posting on the forums requires free registration and acknowledgement of forum rules.)

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon] Forum Featured Threads (Feb. 6-12)

February 12, 2010 by RV Today Archive · 1 Comment 

The Open Roads Forum is the largest and most popular RV forums online today and for a very good reason: the quality and quantity of RV information available there is beyond compare and it grows daily thanks to the input of so many RVers like you.

Read more

VIDEO: Boondocking & Green RVing w/ the PowerSource 1800

October 22, 2009 by Brian Brawdy · 17 Comments 

Gear to Get with Brian Brawdy

One of the necessities of Green RVing, boondocking & dry camping is the ability to generate power. By tapping into the free and ubiquitous energies of the sun, I’m able to go off road, off the grid while staying out longer.

In this video, I look at the cutting edge technology of the PowerSource 1800. A uniquely designed solar powered generator.

For more information on Brian Brawdy or Greening your RV, please visit

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Boondocking Podcast with Brian Brawdy & Bob Difley

October 19, 2009 by Brian Brawdy · 18 Comments 

by Brian Brawdy

In my opening 18 months as an RVer, I have learned that the attraction, at least for me, is one of self reliance and nomadism. The places that I have explored and the people I have encountered have only reinforced the sense of independence one cultivates while bringing the far away to their own front door.

Early on I began to feel, not that I was learning this philosophy, but that I was remembering it. That adventure and exploration are latent in the human being. Today it is my great pleasure to share with you an hour long podcast with author and fellow RVer Bob Difley.

Read more

RVing… Not Just For Rednecks Anymore

July 27, 2009 by RV Today Archive · 17 Comments 

Have you seen or heard any of these RV quotes by comedian Jeff Foxworthy?

– “If your RV is bigger than your house… you might be a redneck.”
– “If you’ve ever taken out a mortgage on an RV… you might be a redneck.”
– “If you own a house that is mobile, and 5 cars that are not… you might be a redneck.”

Laugh if you will, at the fun poked at us. But I’ll be the first one to tell you – RVing sure has changed! Today, there are over 8 million RV households in the U.S. (not to mention all those Canadian RVers, eh?), and RVers are becoming more and more affluent. In fact, according to the RV Industry Association (, the typical RV owner is age 49, married, owns a home and has an annual household income of $68,000. Read more

The Pit Falls of Trying To Get RV Technical Advice

July 9, 2009 by Lug_Nut · 37 Comments 

img_0966So just where do you get reliable technical information? Correct information, like what kind of oil to use, operational procedures, acceptable variances and like practical tips.  Is it level first then slides out, or is it the opposite?   Should I store my RV with the jacks down or should I not?

The questions seem straight forward enough, and you would think it should be relatively easy to get good correct answers.  Well, guess again.  Welcome to the “my opinion club”.   In many cases, regardless of who you ask, you get their take on it, not necessarily the right or best answer.

This applies, in many cases, to even those that you may think trustworthy.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “And that came from Monaco themselves” (Fill in any manufacturer as it applies to all others equally).  My question, so who exactly is Monaco themselves?”  Well, it’s a service writer, a technician, a salesperson, or other employee of a factory service or sales center.  Perhaps in some cases it is an employee or owner of an authorized dealer.  None of these people are necessarily automatically qualified or equipped to answer all, or perhaps many, of these queries.


So where can you get the most actuate information? Probably first, what is found  within your manufacturer’s manuals.  Additionally, and perhaps the “Trump card,” is any attached labels found within the RV.  While manuals can be relied on in almost all cases, they can be somewhat generic given the number of like models made by the same maker.  We have all seen the statement “Such and such, if so equipped” within a supplied manual. This add-on, or lack of, can vary the application thus changing many other things.

Beware of the technician, or like so called informed expert, that start by answering your questions with “Well I always…….”.  If you cared how he did it you would have asked him that, but you really want to know the correct procedure.  Believe me, when you start to ask questions that are not necessarily in the manual, like “Jacks down for storage or not,” you will get a host of answers, even from technicians in the same shop.

To demonstrate what I’m leading to, let me give you actual happenings that I witnessed.

Dealing with a large, well know dealer.

Customer: Please check the SCA in my coolant.

Service Writer: SCA???  Coolant?  Okay.

They didn’t know what SCA meant: Supplement Coolant Additive.

(4 hours later)

Customer:  How was the SCA?

Service Writer:  Oh, yes, it’s good for 34 F. below.

Customer: Can you drain and replace the coolant please.

Service Writer: Change the coolant?  Why do you want the coolant changed?

Customer:  It’s over 3 years old.  Change it please.

Dealing with a factory service depot

Customer: (Activates auto-level jacks to demonstrate issue)  Coach raises on the jacks and leans heavily to the right on relatively level ground)

Factory Service Writer:  Maybe the ground is too uneven.

Customer: Hmmmmmmmm………….Waiter…….Check please!

Large RV Servicing Dealer

While getting a scheduled engine service, the technician fills a fuel filter that is specified to be installed dry.

Customer: That filter should not be pre-filled.  It is to be installed dry and electrically primed to avoid contamination.

Technician: Oh, we always do them this way.

Yes, I can imagine, and you probably top up batteries with city water and a garden hose too.  (I’ve seen that more than once)

Dealing with an engine service center

Customer: I need an oil change on my Cummins.  Do you have the 100% synthetic oil?

Technician: Synthetic?  Cummins does not recommend synthetic oil.

Customer: Exactly where does Cummins say that?  My manual does not state that nor am I aware of a service bulletin that does either.  I wonder why Cummins name is on the cases of Valvoline full synthetic oil?   (Fact is Cummins does not support extending oil change frequencies by the use of synthetic oil, but does not advise against its use.)

So, again, I’ve got to ask, where does one get reliable information? Probably, and not necessarily in this order, O.E.M. manuals, attached labels, the manufacturer’s engineering department, some service personnel and like industry specialists.  Another good source can be found within forums, like RV.NET.  While this requires separating many incorrect answers and using good judgment, it many times can help.  There are questions that perhaps do not have definitive answers, like, do you put your jacks down while in storage or not.  The choice of this is generally not even thought of by the manufacturer or servicing dealer and ends up being a matter of choice.  Life’s real time experiences of fellow RV users can be the best guide to such sought after answers.

Please understand that I’m not saying that you can not get good advice from RV service people or manufacturer’s representatives, but you have to go in with your eyes wide open.  There are many that are happy to give you advice, and many that really do not know.  Design changes, options and the computer driven age make it difficult for service technicians to stay up with current issues, and not all do.

So, if you have a good go-to-guy, that knows his stuff, hang on to him.  They are rarer than one would think.   Anyway, that’s my take on getting simple answers in a complicated world.  What’s your view?

Just Asking Questions    -    Lug_Nut    -    Peter Mercer

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