The RV FEATURE That’s Also a FLAW

November 6, 2014 by · Comments Off 

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Most every RV contains a certain design feature that also is a serious design flaw. That’s why some clever people created a special $11 product ( to “fix” the feature. Odds are that your own RV has this feature. Sure, this feature offers some nice benefits in summer, but it also causes problems. And if you are winter camping, this “feature” mostly  leaves your teeth chattering.

Have you guessed what ubiquitous RV “feature” we’re discussing? Read more

Coming soon to a Community near YOU?

May 8, 2011 by Rex Vogel · 27 Comments 

Rarely a week goes without a media story about some community somewhere in the United States or Canada imposing restrictive rules, regulations, ordinances, and general hassles on owners of recreational vehicles.

Parking restrictions on RVs

Rusty Powers stands with his son-in-law, Anthony Lyles, by his RV, that is in violation of a city bylaw because it is too big and will have to be moved elsewhere. Image courtesy Maple Ridge News

Rusty Powers stands with his son-in-law, Anthony Lyles, by his RV, that is in violation of a city bylaw because it is too big and will have to be moved elsewhere. Image courtesy Maple Ridge News

Here’s a typical article that appeared in The Palm Beach (Florida) Post News: For years Wellington has enforced its laws so that a recreational vehicle or boat must be parked on the side or rear of a lot and behind a 6-foot wall, fence, or landscaping—the maximum height village rules allow.

But, perplexingly, village rules also say that the vehicle must not be “clearly visible” to drivers or neighbors.

“If it’s 15 feet high but behind a six-foot fence, then I’m sorry, but my sight says it’s clearly visible,” resident Donna Weaver said.

Are RV Parking Restrictions out of Control?

In British Columbia, Leeann Costa lives on a quarter of an acre and stores her 12-metre (39-foot)-long recreational vehicle at the side of her house. Last month she received a letter from the Maple Ridge bylaw department and learned she must remove her RV by April 20, reported Maple Ridge News.

“We’ve lived here for 25 years. We’ve had an RV ever since we lived here,” said Costa.

“All of a sudden because somebody complained, we’ve got to get rid of our RV. We’re not the only ones who got dinged on this road, all of my neighbors did.”

Instead of the current bylaw that restricts vehicle length to 7.5 metres, the rules should consider the amount of property there is for a RV, she said. As long as you’re not interfering with anyone else, then it should be OK to have any size RV on your property, Costa added.

A newly enforced bylaw regulating the parking of RVs coming to a community near you... Image courtesy

A newly enforced bylaw regulating the parking of RVs coming to a community near you... Image courtesy

After reading this news article, I was left to wonder if the good people of Maple Ridge would be less offended if Leeann was sun tanning in the buff in her front yard than they are in being able to glimpse her RV.

According to Maple Ridge bylaws director Liz Holitzky, the bylaw has been place since 1985 and limits RV size for storage to 7.5 metres, or 24.6 feet.

Rusty Powers who parks a 10-metre (32.8-foot) -long recreational vehicle at the side of his house has also caught the attention of the bylaws department, which told him it would be sending a letter requiring him to move it.

What do you own property for if you can’t park your own rig? As long as you’re not interfering with your neighbors, you should be able to park any kind of RV on your property, he says.

Long-time resident Eric Phillips wonders what’s behind the “flurry of enforcement” in his neighborhood. He’s lived in the community for 30 years and said there’s always somebody with a messy yard.

If you don’t like the law in British Columbia’s Maple Ridge district that limits the size of recreational vehicles on lots, you can put your name a list. Jacques Blackstone set up a website to fight against the bylaw.
Once he’s heard from as many people as possible, Blackstone will include the forms as part of his presentation to district council to change the rules.

“I’m not complying because I don’t agree with the bylaw,” said Blackstone, who received his last removal order in mid-March.

What other communities do

  • Juno Beach, Florida: RVs must be completely screened on three sides in side or rear yards. Screening can be a building, wall, fence or landscaping.
  • Itasca, Illinois: Residents are permitted to park their recreational vehicles in their driveways from May 1 to October 1. Outside of that window, RV owners can be fined $25 and more for each subsequent violation.
  • Palm Beach Gardens, Florida: Must be stored on side or rear of property and screened from direct view by a six-foot wall or fence and “dense hedge” at least six feet tall within two years of planting. In general, there are no maximum heights for the hedge.

Why should RV owners need a permit to park their RV?

To read More Anti-RV Bylaws, click here.


Worth Pondering…
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.

—Robert Frost

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If you enjoy these articles and want to read more on RV travels and lifestyle, visit my website: Vogel Talks RVing.

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Gr8LakesCamper: What started us down the RV road

January 25, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 17 Comments 

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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Gr8LakesCamper: Recap of the Fall Detroit RV Show

October 15, 2010 by Gr8LakesCamper · 7 Comments 

RV Show 1 By all accounts, the recent Fall Detroit Camper & RV Show was a huge success. From day one, when people waited 90 minutes for the show to officially open its doors, to day five, when it was shoulder-to-shoulder people enjoying bumper-to-bumper RVs, the show was a good one — and certainly the best in the last few years.

I went to the show for four of its five days and tried to talk to as many people as I could. I also tried to get inside as many RVs as I could. What follows is my recap. (You can also read my individual reports from Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four and Day Five. All but Day Five includes a video.)

The RV dealers I talked to said they sold a lot of campers, or at least made some good leads for future sales. Bill Sheffer, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC), said across the state RV sales are up 16 percent over the previous year.

“Show attendance was up 20 percent over the 2009 numbers,” Sheffer said. “Dealers and exhibitors reported positive sales numbers and responses from those in attendance, and several $200,000 units were even sold during the show. Many dealers reported meeting and/or exceeding sales goals for the duration of the show.”

Vendors said people were very receptive to what they were offering, including Rick Stafford of River Ridge RV Resort. On the first day he was somewhat lukewarm about the show, but by the fifth day he was extremely pleased. He said three couples were so enamored with his amenities-laden RV resort that they took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and drove the three hours from Detroit to Stanwood, Michigan to take a look around.

And everyone attending the show looked like they were very much enjoying the true stars of the show — the 200-plus RVs lined up in row after row of camperpalooza goodness.

“We generally come to all these shows,” said Jim Felmlee of Rochester, Michigan, who was at the show with his wife, Karen. “We enjoy seeing all the new RVs. We already own our own RV, but generally we come to see all the new features and one we really like are the outdoor kitchens.”

“You know, when you’re camping, you spend all your time outside anyways,” Karen added. “So an outdoor kitchen makes perfect sense.”

Another couple I ran into was Geraldine Laczek of Macomb Township, Michigan and her daughter-in-law Debby Laczek, of Metamora, Michigan. Like the Felmlees, they already owned their own RVs and were at the show just to enjoy all the new models. They, too, liked the outdoor kitchens, and Debby, a fifth-wheel owner, said the Montana with the up-front living room also caught her attention.

Bob Dunn, president of the southeast Michigan Winnebago owners club, was telling me about the Motor City Winnies when he mentioned that the Winnebago Journey diesel motor home behind him was bought earlier that day by two other members of the Motor City Winnies, Skip and Nancy Yates of Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Naturally, I found the Yates inside their new coach. The two had perma-grins on their faces as they greeted everyone who came aboard. They happily told people they had just bought that motor home, but feel free to gently look around.

A few aisles over I found Denny Powlison, from Adrian, Michigan. He brought his wife to the show in the hopes she might catch the RV camping bug. He said she had only been camping once, in a sleeping bag under the stars — not even a tent — so he was skeptical. But she fell in love with a Rockwood Minilite #1809S travel trailer, and they’ll be back to the February show to make the purchase.

As mentioned earlier, most people I talked to said the outdoor kitchens were a big hit with them.

Other innovations and features — some not necessarily new but improved upon — that caught my eye were:

• Second bathrooms. Many of the bunkhouses now have floor plans featuring a second bathroom for the kiddies. And many of these have a second door from the outside providing direct access to this bathroom. What a great idea! Instead of tramping through the entire camper just to get to the bathroom, all you need to do is open the door, take a couple of steps, do your business and get out. No tracking sand and dirt through the camper, and I bet fewer mosquitoes make it inside, too.

• Skylights directly over showers. Again, not a new concept at all. But it seems manufacturers are designing these to better follow the shape of the showers so more natural light fills the shower and bathroom. I especially noticed this in the fifth-wheels and motor homes that had corner shower units.

• Kitchen cabinet/counter extensions. Mostly in Class A motor homes and larger fifth-wheels, these are the cabinet/counter extensions that you pull out to dramatically increase the counter space and cabinet storage.

• Outside televisions. As we all know, the flat-screen TV has been a huge innovation for the RV Industry. Whereas before the old picture-tube TVs took up 3-feet of depth by however wide the TV was, flat screens decreased that depth to a mere 3-5 inches. Suddenly, TV cabinets were smaller, freeing up space for other things, like storage, bigger TVs, etc. The flat-screens also made it easier to mount on the outside of a motor home, hidden behind a flip-up door, to watch ESPN Game Day while tailgating.

• Universal, Portable TV Mounts. I saw this on one of Dan White’s travel trailers in the H.W. Motor Homes display. The camper had three TV mounts, one outside, one in the bedroom and the third in the living area. The articulated arm that inserted into the mounts was securely attached to the TV, making it easy to move the TV-and-arm to and from any of the three areas of the camper. A simple tab locked the arm into the mount, and antenna/cable and power connections were located at each mount.

The coolest RV innovation I saw at the show was the slide-within-a-slide in the 2011 Monaco Diplomat motor home. John Monterusso of American RV in Grand Rapids, Michigan was gracious enough to meet me before the show opened on Thursday for an exclusive tour of this incredible motor home.

The slide-within-a-slide is exactly what the term implies. On the driver’s side of the coach is a slide with the refrigerator, dinette and couch. A push of a button extends that slide 3 feet out of the coach. Then, another push of a button extends a second slide, this one containing just the dinette and the couch, out another 2 feet. The whole process takes about 40 seconds, and the interior space it creates is very impressive, especially since another 3-foot slide is on the opposite side of the coach. Click here for my video tour of the slide-within-a-slide.

All in all, the Fall RV Show was a lot of fun – but I would expect nothing less. I was able to get to the show four of its five days. I enjoyed exploring all the RVs and talking to the people enjoying those RVs. And now the countdown is on for the Spring RV shows!

From the personal blog: I’ve been posting a lot of information lately about travel destinations and specials they’re having, including Ohio’s Brilliant Fall Colors and Halloween Fun at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.

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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Gr8LakesCamper: Two RV Shows a Bellwether for Industry

September 8, 2010 by Gr8LakesCamper · 4 Comments 

Picture 1Two RV shows in the next few weeks will be an interesting study on whether we can truly believe the recent reports that the RV industry is on the rebound.

Read more

One RV Travelling Pet Peeve

May 27, 2010 by Lug_Nut · 38 Comments 

Boondocking2 003

A Lug_Nut pet peeve.  When travelling with many RV’s, 5th wheels, large class A’s and towing combinations, finding a place to stop can be challenging on many roadways.  In that regard interstate highways offer the best places, the rest stop.  These pull offs provide ample maneuvering space and large parking spaces for both trucks and RV’s.  Additionally you can always find a little grass, designated the “Pet Walking Area” for Fido to stretch and take a potty break.



CrackerWant to stop for lunch at a restaurant?  Cracker Barrel offers RV parking at their many locations throughout the country and they are usually located within sight of the interstate highways.  RV parking can be found at the rear of the restaurant.  For large class A coaches towing, some of these may not be long enough.  So you may have to take a look first.  On some routes this chain is very abundant, for example my wife and I counter 49 Cracker Barrel locations off I75 from the Ohio/Michigan border to Fort Myers Florida.



At both rest stops and Cracker Barrels, over night parking may be allowed depending on the location.  Check for signage, ask the manager or inquire with the security staff if you are considering staying over night.  This, of course, is the same courtesy you would use to stay in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Boondocking2 001Most rest stops have separate parking for autos and trucks/RV’s.  Some have three sections, autos, trucks and RV’s.  The later offers the RV owner a truck free area.  This creates a somewhat safer environment for children, adults and pets to exit and enter their vehicle as it is far less busy.

So, whether you need a comfort break or a lunch stop, we have these great places to safely stop with your oversizedvehicle or vehicle combination.  Well, we do providing there is space left.  Many times these over lengthparking spots are filled with autos and small vehicles that are thoughtlessly parked because they may be perceived to be closer to the restrooms.  I have seen motor homes and travel trailers forced to move on or park on the grass shoulder towards the exit.  This is due to these cars filling the only parking spots capable of holding such a vehicle.  In every instance I have witnessed this, the car parking has numerous spaces available.

Likewise, the RV parking spaces at many Cracker Barrels also seem to attract these same jug heads that insist on parking their little car in these spots.  About a year ago I arrived at the visitor center in the Everglades.  They have several rows of auto spaces and one large RV row that would accommodate about nine rigs.  I pulled in with my 45’ coach towing an extended SUV.  The RV section was pretty well full, including a small car blocking the last two available spaces.  The auto area was not even half filled yet this person decided to take up at least one RV space.  With my vehicle combination hanging out onto the main drive-in area I approached the owner. 

Could you move your car so that I can pull in” I asked.       

When I finish eating” the slightly over weight woman that was dressed and looked like an over zealous boy scout, said in a curt manner.

By now there were cars backing up in the driveway that my tow was partially blocking.  I would have to circle around the parking area and exit if I could not pull in within the next minute or so.

I’ve kind of got the traffic stopped now, could you please move forward so I can clear the driveway?  I asked, still very courteously while motioning to my towed SUV that was straddling the main inbound drive.

“Well, you shouldn’t have such a big vehicle, and it’s bad for the environment.” She exclaimed, as if it was my fault.

Finally, the woman slowly made her way back to her car.  What seemed like ten minutes passed as she settled into the driver seat and stalled around adjusting the mirror, placing her lunch bag within the car and buckling her seat belt.  Then she moved the car and parked in an appropriate vehicle space “Hmmmm………..For that you need to adjust the mirror and fasten your seat belt” I thought to myself.  I guess I just came face to face with a Red-Neck tree hugger.

Why are these people so un-thoughtful for others or for their circumstances?  Why do people not understand where they should park or not park?  This isn’t rocket science here we are dealing with.  Also, what’s with the attitude?  Fortunately this poor attitude is not reflected on the roadway.

Well, that’s one of my pet peeves of finding a parking place with an RV while travelling.  What about you?  What’s your pet peeve while on the road?

Just Some Quiet Venting    –    Lug_Nut    -     Peter Mercer

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VIDEO: Interested in Airstreams?

April 21, 2009 by · 323 Comments 

As regular viewers of The Long Long Honeymoon know, Kristy and I have an Airstream travel trailer. Airstreams have been in production longer than most of us have been alive. The company was established in 1931.

Although Airstream has dabbled in motorhomes and other RVs, the company is famous for its travel trailers.

What makes ‘em different? The most obvious answer is the aluminum skin. The upside of aluminum construction is longevity. It never rusts, and never goes out of fashion. The aircraft inspired construction is aerodynamic and tows like a dream. We get 12 MPG towing our 25-foot Classic, which is one of the heavier models.

But Airstreams have a few quirks, also mostly related to the aluminum exterior. (Hint: When walking atop the roof, DO NOT step upon the aluminum.) And the curved roof construction that tows so well also leads to some compromises in interior space. The interior is more often described as “cozy” than “spacious.”

Fortunately, most of our servicing issues have been minor ones. We’ve had the occasional leak, or the fan that stops blowing, or the door latch that fails. We’ve had tire issues. But for the most part, the thing has been reliable. The air-conditioning has always blown cold, the electricity has always come on, and the plumbing has always plumbed. Like all towables, Airstreams lack a motor — so they also lack all of those engine-related maintenance issues.

From time to time, people interested in Airstreams ask us for shopping advice. For many of us, buying an Airstream isn’t as easy as driving down to your local dealership. That’s because most RV dealerships don’t carry Airstreams. So browsing Airstreams may take a little extra effort. As always, technology helps.

This leads us to one of the great Airstream dealerships, Airstream of Arkansas. This dealership is located in the small town of Searcy, Arkansas. And it’s one of the top performing Airstream dealerships in the entire country. They deliver new Airstreams everywhere, so you can shop with these guys no matter where you live! Personally, I enjoy visiting their site to browse the latest models. Airstream of Arkansas has an excellent website that features the wonderful smörgåsbord of new Airstreams on the lot. Although we love our 25-foot Classic, I must confess we have been sorely tempted by the new models.

If we were buying a new Airstream, our first phone call (or email) would be to Gene Morris at Airstream of Arkansas ( Gene is not only extremely knowledgeable, he’s Internet savvy. Better yet, he’s a nice guy and a straight shooter. Tell him Sean & Kristy of The Long Long Honeymoon sent you! If you have any other questions about Airstream shopping, drop me an email at HoneymoonShow

For 100 videos of our Airstream in action, check out our blog:

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VIDEO: This RV Was Built To Last

January 26, 2009 by · 8 Comments 

Some RVs are built to last. And when they do finally wear out, they often get rescued, restored, and put right back into circulation. Read more

My First Real RV Adventure

January 1, 2009 by Mark Polk · 9 Comments 

Happy New Year Everybody

Another year has gone by and looking back I reflect on how I got hooked on this thing called RVing. Thirty-three years ago I towed my first travel trailer. Of course at the time, like most teenagers, I thought I knew everything. I tent camped for years and had experienced camping in travel trailers and motor homes with a friend of mine and his family, but this was my first real RV adventure, out on my own. I had recently graduated from high school and was working for an RV dealership in Pennsylvania. I started out washing campers and eventually worked to the position of an apprentice technician. I was always mechanically inclined and had an interest in how things worked; from age twelve when I disassembled our perfectly good lawn mower to see how it worked, to age sixteen when I rebuilt my first VW engine.

Read more