The Secret to Better RV Sleep

November 11, 2014 by · Comments Off 

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Quality sleep is essential to enjoying life. If you don’t sleep well, you probably won’t have a good day. Yet many RVs are poorly equipped in the sleep department. It all starts with an essential product ( that sadly is an afterthought in many RVs. What product are we discussing? No, it’s not the oven. It’s not the refrigerator. It’s not the water heater. It’s the (you guessed it)… Read more

The RV FEATURE That’s Also a FLAW

November 6, 2014 by · Comments Off 

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

SAVE YOUR RV SLIDE OUTS with this Lubricant

November 4, 2014 by · Comments Off 

If you have slide outs in your RV, a little maintenance goes a long way. You should regularly lube your slide outs with a product like Camco Slide Out Lube ( It’s a nice value at around $10 for a 15-ounce can.

Camco’s Slide Out Lube is a dry lube that’s specially formulated for RV slide outs. It will reduce slide rail friction and the problems that ensue from such friction.

CLICK THE CAN to get yer own lube!

CLICK THE CAN to get yer own lube!

Slide out mechanisms and seals are expensive, so this is a wise investment in long term protection.

The spray should be applied to metal rails and gears. This lube will help ensure that your slide outs continue to operate smoothly without sticking.

This Camco spray-on lube leaves behind a dry film that repels dirt and grime.

Even more important, the film also protects metal surfaces against damaging rust and corrosion.

Camco’s lubricant is surprisingly durable and long-lasting.

In fact, it’s rated for 336 hours of continuous salt spray (that’s 2 weeks to you and me). The upshot? After a thorough dose of this stuff, you are free to take that two week beachfront vacation.

If you are winterizing your rig, it’s a good time to take care of some routine maintenance tasks like lubing your slide outs.

Slide outs are wonderful amenities in an RV, but they are often the source of maintenance problems. Headaches often start with corrosion, which left unchecked can ruin the entire assembly. It’s best to take preventative steps. In RV maintenance, diligence is the key.

This Camco lube addresses a couple of potential problem areas, helping the gears and rails work better while also fighting corrosion. For ten bucks a can, it’s a no brainer purchase!

Click here to get your own can.

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Election Making You Thirsty? Try These “RV Friendly” Wine Glasses…

November 3, 2014 by · Comments Off 

With Election Day approaching, more obnoxious political ads are filling our airwaves – which is leading more of us to drink. If you choose to imbibe wine, please do so responsibly and safely – with GoVino Wine Glasses ( These wine glasses are flexible, shatterproof, and recyclable. They are especially handy around an RV during this time of year.

Drinking and RV camping is always a controversial topic. Indeed, here in “the Land of the Free,” some state campgrounds forbid alcohol entirely. Last year, some friends of ours received a $150 fine for simply enjoying a glass of wine at the end of the day. (Sadly, I am not making this up.) They were simply two people relaxing at their RV campsite in front of their motorhome with an open bottle of wine, which apparently was behavior worthy of financial punishment. In this case, I guess “freedom” meant that the local Barney Fife was “free” to take money away from American citizens for engaging in behavior that would be legal throughout the rest of the Western world. So wherever you choose to camp, please review whatever ridiculous legal constraints may exist that prohibit grown adults from responsibly consuming wine at an RV campsite.

CLICK THE PIC for RV friendly wine glasses!

But I digress. The topic at hand is Govino wine glasses

The nice thing about Govino glasses is that they are made of plast… err, I mean, “food safe polymer.” While with some products plastic might be a liability, anyone who does extensive RV travel knows what happens inside RV cabinetry on a bumpy highway.

Traveling along the highway creates a small earthquake effect inside an RV. Often glass is vulnerable to breakage, especially thin glass such as used in wine glasses. These Govino glasses solve that problem. In an RV, plastic drinking containers make sense. Go ahead and call it “food safe polymer” if that makes you feel better.

The Govino glasses are stemless, which makes them easier to store. It also makes them less likely to be tipped over. Personally I prefer drinking from a stemless wine glass. I’m sure there were some valid historical reasons for the evolution of the stemmed wine glass. While it may look elegant, in practice it’s a bit of a pain.

These Govino glasses include a thumb notch in the design that makes them even easier to hold.

Please note that Govino glasses are not dishwasher safe. This is not an issue for us, since we don’t have a dishwasher in our own RV. But if you do have a dishwasher (lucky you!), please refrain from putting these inside. A good sink washing is in order for these glasses.

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VIDEO: RV Camping at DISNEY WORLD… on Halloween!

October 29, 2014 by · Comments Off 

Recently, a YouTube subscriber (click here to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and NEVER miss an update asked us to name a few favorite camping locales we’ve discovered on our Long, Long Honeymoon travels. I’m partial to remote, rural, dry camping sites out West, in obscure places far removed from civilization. But my wife has different tastes. Her favorite is probably that little full hookup spot we found down in Florida. What was its name? Oh, right… Walt Disney World. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

Any way you slice it, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground offers an outstanding RV camping experience. Here are a few thoughts about camping with Mickey… Read more

FREE “HOW TO” BOOK on Extreme Couponing

December 19, 2013 by · Comments Off 

From time to time, we like to pass along interesting ebooks to our RV camping audience. Here’s one: We Use Coupons, You Should Too! How Couponing Saved My Life. ( It’s available as a FREE download on Amazon Kindle ( for a limited time. Get it NOW while the deal is on!

Click the pic to get the FREE book!

Click the pic to get the FREE book!

Most of us are familiar with the concept of extreme couponing. We’ve seen the TV shows in which people load up two carts full of groceries, lay out a stack of coupons, and end up paying $2.37 in pennies for the entire kit & kaboodle. Often these extreme couponers simply pay sales tax and stroll out the door with stacks of free merchandise. The author of this book states that extreme couponing helped him dig his way out of $80,000 in debt.

For example, the author states that his family uses about 20 tubes of toothpaste in an average year. Through these couponing techniques, they literally get all of their toothpaste for free. Free?! That sounds smart to me. The less money we spend on toothpaste, the more we have left to go RV camping.

We don’t claim to understand the nuances of how all of this works. That’s why we’re interested in this book. We thought you might like it too. GET IT TODAY FOR FREE on Amazon Kindle.

Don’t have a Kindle? Not to worry; you can get a free Kindle app on iPad and Android tablets. Of course, if you want to buy a Kindle ( it’s a great investment in cranial stimulation. Amazon is offering some amazing deals on Kindles during this holiday season.

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Vintage Airstream Music Box (Christmas Decoration)

December 15, 2013 by · Comments Off 

If you like to collect Christmas decorations, you may be interested in this vintage camper music box ( that features lights, Christmas music, and a moving train inside. It’s a fun way to celebrate the Christmas spirit and RV travel all together.

It slices! It dices! Actually, it doesn't slice and dice, but it does the next best thing: it lights and plays music, and the train runs around inside. (Click the pic for more info.)

It slices! It dices! Actually, it doesn't slice and dice, but it does the next best thing: it lights and plays music, and the train runs around inside. (Click the pic for more info.)

In college I dated a girl whose mother collected ceramic “Christmas village” decorations. Perhaps you know the decorations I am talking about? Individual items cost somewhere between $10 and $100,000. They are usually hand painted ceramics.

On a white fabric blanket of pseudo snow, my girlfriend’s mother created an old fashioned village winter scene. It consisted of ceramic buildings (with lights), vehicles, and an assortment of villagers engaging in various winter activities like caroling and shoveling snow. To top it all off, there was a plucky model train running through the village.

In the beginning, my girlfriend’s mother’s Christmas village was charming. She set up a few buildings, plugged in some lights, and called it a day. It occupied a side table in the corner of the living room. But over time, what began as a modest little hobby turned into an obsession

In the early days, the Christmas village was a charming community. It even had a Walmart that allowed overnight RV parking.

In the early days, the Christmas village was a charming, friendly community. It even had a Walmart that allowed overnight RV parking.

Every year, at the mother’s direction, the Christmas village grew more complex and elaborate. She added more buildings, and more people. Soon there were farm animals and work vehicles and roadways and trees. More, more, more!

This was not a planned community. It was a shrine to urban sprawl.

Eventually the once humble Christmas village resembled Los Angeles during rush hour. The Christmas village became a vast metropolis, expanding from one corner of the living room to engulf an entire wing of the family’s house.

As the mother’s attention turned to new development, the original downtown area was neglected – marred by graffiti, stray dogs, and drifting vagrants. Every afternoon, a dense blanket of smog drifted across the household. It no longer felt safe.

This is what happened to the Christmas village after a few years of heavy collecting. Clouds of thick smog often drifted from the living room to the kitchen.

This is what happened to the Christmas village after a few years of heavy collecting. Clouds of thick smog often drifted from the living room to the kitchen.

The last time I saw that family’s Christmas village, the mother was promising to revitalize downtown.  She was trying to raise money for a light rail system to connect the suburbs (located in the foyer and kitchen) to the old town area. She pledged to build a domed stadium and a park to bring people back.

Sadly, I don’t know if the lady ever finished her domed stadium. After a dispute over zoning, I broke up with the girl.

And while I personally don’t collect Christmas village items, I can appreciate the utility of owning this little Airstream music box. Not only do you get an impressive vintage RV camper, but inside the camper you get a complete village scene, including train.

BOOM! One item and you’re done. That’s my kind of Christmas decorating.

It's a camper, a Christmas village, a model train, and a music box all in one.

ONE-STOP DECORATING: It's a camper, a Christmas village, a model train, and a music box all in one. If only you could sleep inside it. (Click the pic for more info.)

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Every RV Camper Needs One of These!

August 6, 2013 by · Comments Off 

When you go RV camping, you need to pack light – literally. I’m talking about actual light. You better pack plenty of flashlights because most campsites are dark after sundown, and the tasks don’t end just because the sun called it quits. That’s why we own headlamps ( They have proven to be incredibly useful around an RV.

A headlamp looks like something best suited for a coal miner or an engine mechanic. But every RV camper and outdoor adventurer needs at least one headlamp too. Even a cheap one will do. Why?

The Lighting EVER headlamp includes 18 LED lights and costs a mere $6.99! (Click the photo for more info.)

The Lighting EVER headlamp includes 18 LED lights and costs a mere $6.99! (Click the photo for more info.)

When you RV camp, you often find yourself going outside at night to address some issue.

Maybe you need to retrieve an item from your outside storage compartment.

Maybe your generator needs fuel.

Maybe you need to empty your water tanks.

You might even need to hitch your rig.

A headlamp is incredibly useful when RV camping. (Click the pic for more info.)

A headlamp is incredibly useful when RV camping. (Click the pic for more info.)

Whatever the circumstance, having TWO HANDS available is a huge bonus. A headlamp can be the difference between getting a job done quickly and easily, or not. If one hand is occupied by your flashlight, you will end up fumbling through whatever task is at hand.

A headlamp gives you enough light for doing work, right where you need it, in a hands free fashion. Genius!

I bought my first headlamp on a whim, not know whether it would prove useful. I quickly found myself using the thing on a nightly basis.

Headlamps range in price from the dirt cheap “Made in China” plasticky style to fancy high tech jobs. Mine are the dirt cheap style. Even these cheap headlamps are now LED light, which remains cool to the touch and goes easy on the batteries. Mine has three modes: low light, high light, and flashing strobe light.

Hitching - in the dark! Headlamps rock. (Click the pic for more info.)

Hitching - in the dark! Headlamps rock. (Click the pic for more info.)

The more expensive headlamps offer more durable build quality. They also may include additional features like red light (red light does not cause human pupils to contract, so it’s handy when viewing the nighttime sky). They may boast more lumens (brighter light), are dimmable, and offer longer battery life. Some are even waterproof.

At the moment I’m pleased with my “dirt cheap made in China” headlamps, although these things are proving so useful I’ll probably pony up for a nice model soon.

If you are RV camping, get a headlamp – you won’t regret it, but you may regret not having one.

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Gr8LakesCamper: Campsite Ticket Scalpers

April 18, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 506 Comments 

Bridal veil falls, Yosemite National Park

Bridal veil falls, Yosemite National Park

Fellow RVers, I’d like to start a discussion about scalpers – not ticket scalpers, mind you, but campsite scalpers.

I recently came across this news item from The Sacramento Bee, by way of the Associated Press:

Yosemite battling pest problem: Ticket-scalpers
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Yosemite National Park has a pest problem: Ticket scalpers who are selling the limited camping reservations at exorbitant prices.
Spokesman Scott Gediman tells the Sacramento Bee that park officials are becoming more aggressive as they try to curb scalpers.
The nation’s third-most visited park has only 900 reserved campsites available at any given time. They go for $20 a night but scalpers advertising on Craigslist are offering them for $100 or more — sometimes for hundreds of dollars.
They’re also selling permits to climb Half Dome, which the park essentially issues for free.
Gediman says it appears that some scalpers may have devised ways of jumping the reservation queue, possibly through automated computer programs that can instantly snag cancellations.

My only experience with ticket scalpers is at sporting events, where it always seems to be the same guys selling tickets at the same venues, regardless of the game or event taking place. Occasionally I’ll sell or buy an extra ticket, but never more than for face value.

I have no experience with this campsite ticket scalping, and was wondering if anyone else does.

In addition, what are your thoughts on this?

This obviously sounds like its something much bigger than someone selling an unused campsite. And I certainly don’t like that someone can apparently “jump the reservation queue.” That needs to be corrected – fast.

Would you ever buy a campsite from a scalper? Would you pay more than face value for it?

I don’t think I would. For something as big as camping in Yosemite (or any other popular National Park), it would be such a big vacation that planning for it would start months in advance. That planning would include securing our campsite. If, for whatever reason, we don’t get a campsite, then I think we would pick another destination.

But, like I said, I’m curious what others have to say about this.

From the companion blog: Since we’re on the topic of National Parks, I have a post about the 2011 Yellowstone CycleFest, taking place July 23-30 at Yellowstone National Park. In addition to daily road biking, CycleFest will offer a host of exciting activities including trail walking, horseback riding, rafting, mountain biking, canoeing, gondola riding and something called “water cycling.”

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: Michigan DNR looks to close 23 state forest campgrounds

April 7, 2011 by Gr8LakesCamper · 11 Comments 

In a press release issued the same day as a meeting to determine their fate, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced that the department wants to close 23 under-performing state forest campgrounds in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.

There are 145 state forest campgrounds in Michigan.

The proposed closures are due to — what else — budget cuts. The state’s Forest Recreation Program has seen a 63-percent decrease in funding in the last three years.

According to the release, the order to close the 23 campgrounds will be submitted as a proposal at today’s Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting in Lansing, and will be eligible for action by DNR Director Rodney Stokes at the NRC’s May 12 meeting in Flint. If approved at the May meeting, the closures would be effective on May 19, 2011. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. today; the State Forest Campground closures is scheduled to be presented at 3 p.m. today.

Mary Dettloff, a spokswoman for the Michigan DNR, told me that state officials were very judicious when selecting which state forest campgrounds should close. Only the ones which were least used were targeted, and she said another criteria was whether other state forest campgrounds were nearby, thus offering campers a viable option.

These parks were so under-used, Dettloff said there’s no chance the state forest campgrounds which are to remain open, as well as the state park campgrounds, would be over-used. The 23 state forest campgrounds slated for closure represent a total of just 298 campsites.

“These state forest campgrounds were developed in the 1920s and 30s,” she said. “Their original purpose was to be a firebreak. But once the land was cleared they became good for camping and people were going their with their tents. But camping habits have changed. These are rustic sites with pit toilets and hand-pumps for water. People now want to be in their pop-ups or motor homes. They want to have amenities, like a pool or a playground, so they either go to our state parks, private parks or some even choose to go to national parks and forests.”

It is very important to note that we’re talking about state forest campgrounds and not state parks. State forest campgrounds are rustic sites with fewer amenities than a state park. They are unstaffed and provide a more rustic, tent camping experience. Every state forest campground is located on a river or lake, and more than 60 campgrounds have nearby pathways for non-motorized trail recreation, such as hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature observation. Accommodations range from five to 50 campsites, with group sites available. All campgrounds have vault toilets and potable water from hand pumps. Some sites are so remote they can only be accessed by a hike through woods or paddling down a river.

General Fund support for state forest recreation programs, such as the state forest campgrounds, has been reduced every year since 2009, when $72,200 was cut. In 2010, $24,100 was cut from the program, and in Fiscal Year 2011, the program is targeted for a $314,700 General Fund reduction.

“While revenue has remained even in the last decade, due to camping fee increases in 2002 and in 2007, state forest campground fees are now at the high end of the market at $15 a night per individual site,” said Cara Boucher, assistant chief of the DNR’s Forest Management Division. “Meanwhile, the number of registrations and campers has steadily dropped over the same period. Given the long-term trend of declining use and the inability to raise camp fee revenues, the only way to absorb the current cut in General Fund support is to close some campgrounds.”

To address the reduced camping demand and insufficient funding to maintain all state forest campgrounds, the DNR will close underutilized campgrounds, Boucher said.

“We will preserve the campgrounds that perform well, and provide a diverse selection for the campers,” Boucher said. “The campgrounds targeted for closure are under-performing and close to other state forest campgrounds, so we can still provide camping opportunities in those areas.”

Currently, the highest-performing state forest campground generates more than $40,000 a year annually in revenue, while the lowest-performing generates just over $300 a year.

The campgrounds targeted for closure are:
— Beaufort and Big Lake state forest campgrounds – Baraga County
— Black Lake Trail Camp – Cheboygan County
— Lime Island State Forest Campground and Cabins and Munuscong River State Forest Campground – Chippewa County
— Manistee River Bridge State Forest Campground – Crawford County
— Deer Lake State Forest Campground – Iron County
— Bray Creek State Forest Campground – Lake County
— Blind Sucker #1, High Bridge, Holland Lake, Natalie and Reed & Green Bridge state forest campgrounds – Luce County
— Black River State Forest Campground – Mackinac County
— Little Wolf Lake State Forest Campground – Montmorency County
— McCollum Lake State Forest Campground – Oscoda County
— Pigeon Bridge and Round Lake state forest campgrounds – Otsego County
— Canoe Lake, Cusino Lake, Mead Creek and South Gemini Lake state forest campgrounds – Schoolcraft County
— Long Lake State Forest Campground – Wexford County

Dettloff said these campgrounds would be permanently closed. However if a local township or county is interested in keeping them open, the DNR would be willing to partner with the municipality in order to make that happen.

To read the informational memo on the state forest campground closures provided to the NRC at the April 7 meeting, go to the NRC’s website at and click on Agendas and Minutes to find the April 7 agenda. To read the memo, click on the box for the order on page two of the agenda.

I admit that I have never camped in a state forest campground, and I understand the state must make budget cuts because the revenue simply is not available. But that doesn’t mean I have to like this. I also question the timing of this release, and the cynic in me insists that budget cuts are not equitable among every state department.

Is this the first step down a slippery slope? Are more recreational opportunities going to be eliminated? Will user fees be increased so dramatically that the cost will be out of reach for many of us?

Ironically, at this very same meeting we are supposed to hear an update on the state’s Recreation Passport program. Instead of spending $24 for an annual motor vehicle permit or boating access permit, Michigan residents are now being asked to support the Recreation Passport with an optional $10 fee when renewing their vehicle registration with the Secretary of State. If only 1 out of every 4 motorists voluntarily choose to purchase a Recreation Passport, $18 million will be generated, which would be $7 million more than the previous system. (Read more about the Recreation passport in a previous post.)

Dettloff said officials will announce at today’s meeting that the Recreation Passport is falling short of its goal of 25 percent participation. She said 20 percent — 1 in 5 people — are buying the $10 Recreation Passport. One reason for this is the fact that there has been no paid advertising campaign to support it — they don’t have the money, Dettloff said. They are hoping social media and word-of-mouth will help spread the news.

So here’s one person spreading the news: Michiganders, buy the Recreation Passport and get your friends and family and co-workers to do the same.

The future of our recreational opportunities, literally, hangs in the balance.

From the companion blog: My posts on the companion blog include one on white nose syndrome being detected in some bats in Ohio; and family fun things to do and see in Pittsburgh.

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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