camping 3/29/21 – gtg

Get prepared to figure out all you need to know about camping. Camping lets you and your family share a fabulous experience together. To have the best trip possible, check out the tips and advice given in this article.

Find your best place for a camping shelter before nightfall. Once blackness falls out there in the woods, it can be extremely difficult to pitch a tent, pitch your tent and prepare some food. This is particularly the case for city slickers who are not used to pitch-black darkness. Avoid this situation by securing your accommodations ahead of time.
TIP! Let those you are camping with help pick the site. Discuss what state you want to visit.

It is important to remember that your person and all of your possessions will get dirty during a camping trip. Have fun in nature and don’t worry about getting messy; it happens. You can return to being clean when you get back home.

Allow everyone on the trip to have a say about the location. Discuss what state you wish to visit. There are a lot of choices in the United States and it may make it hard to choose just one. You can select a few places to have the family vote from there.
TIP! Check weather reports in the area you plan to camp in. There are several websites that will give you the weather forecast for the week.

When you buy a new tent, take it out and set it up at home before you go camping. This helps you to get the experience needed for erecting your tent. This will also help you not to be frustrated when you’re trying to pitch your tent.

Do not worry that you have packed too much for your kids. Camping can get very messy. This means that your children and their clothes can be quite soiled. While you can’t do much about that, be sure to pack some extra clothing.
TIP! During a camping trip, try to go swimming at some point. The thing people tend to miss most while camping is the convenience of their home shower.

Take a first-aid class, particularly if you are traveling with children. Be sure to do some research on the area you are visiting.

Camping can be dangerous if you’re prepared or not. Always be well prepared prior to leaving on a camping trip.
TIP! If you are going to tough it out, you can still bring along a few luxury items to add comfort to your camping trip. Bring an interesting book, some luxurious candy, or even a nice fluffy pillow. These things can really brighten your spirits

A handkerchief is a great addition to your trip. These can be used for several things, towel,s or even something to carry an item in.
TIP! Don’t forget to pack up some duct tape when you’re camping because it’s very versatile. This can help to seal and protect your tent and even protect your body.

You can not afford to forget essential items.

Take some things with you to entertain yourself while you’re camping.

Take along a specialized pillow or two for camping. If you take along a regular bedroom pillow, it can get hot and sticky when it is humid outside.

Duct tape is a handy item to include in your camping trip. It is as convenient for repairs while camping as it is at home. It can be used to repair holes in the air mattress should it get a hole. It can also seal rips in tarps, a sleeping bag, or tarp. You can even protect your feet before walking long distances by putting duct tape on them. It can also work as emergency bandaging.

Are you a novice at camping, having just bought your tent? If you are not sure how to put your tent up, practice before going on your camping trip. This will give you the confidence to pitch your tent at any time.

The idea of camping is to live with just the essentials, but it’s important to be prepared for anything. While a sleeping bag is a necessity, it’s also recommended to have extra blankets. This will keep you stay warm if it cools down at night and/or you can use them for additional padding.

Plan out all of your clothing before setting off on a camping trip. Make sure you’ll have plenty of clean clothes for the duration of your trip. Pack ample clothing appropriate for your campsite’s climate and weather. Sturdy shoes or boots are considered essential footwear for any camping trip.
TIP! A pre-made list will help you remember exactly what you need for your camping excursion. A list will help you to not forget to bring any essentials.

The helpful advice in the article above will give you the confidence you need to feel safe and relaxed on your next camping trip. Camping is a great experience, especially when you go prepared. You are fortunate to know that after today, fun is in your future.

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It can still prove to be enjoyable if you plan ahead and are passionate about your experience with Mother Nature. These tips will make your way.

When purchasing a brand new tent, always set it up at home once before taking it camping. This helps you to get the experience needed for erecting your tent. This can eliminate some of the aggravation felt when setting up your tent.
TIP! When camping, get your shelter squared away before nightfall. When night falls, making food, finding wood, and pitching your tent can be very difficult.

Flare Gun
Bring a survival kit with you and be sure to always have it on you. Your survival kit should contain a survival knife, a type of survival knife, a first-aid kit, and a flare gun. This kit may just be what helps you to stay alive if you are lost and these items are indispensable for longer than planned. Remember to take it everywhere with you and do not leave it at your campsite.

TIP! Make sure that you find out what sort of weather is forecast for the place where you are going to be camping at. There are several websites that will give you the weather forecast for the week.

Take a first-aid class, particularly if you are traveling with children. Be sure to do thorough research beforehand.
Dryer lint makes surprisingly good kindling for starting your campfire. Collect the lint from your clothes dryer and store it in a bag a few weeks before you go camping to prepare for this. Keep a plastic or ziplock bag right next to the dryer to make collecting easier. This is a good way to have kindling and leave when you’re ready.

TIP! Review your health insurance policy. Sometimes when you go to a different place, you’ll have to get an additional policy to cover you.

Duct tape is a good thing. It works quickly in a pinch for tent holes, tent holes, shoes with worn soles, sealing mosquito nets, securing tent poles, and so much more.

It would be horrible to forget something you really need like the tent or camp mat.

TIP! Not only are oranges a great snack for camping, but they also serve as a natural mosquito repellant. Use the peels to rub your body down.

Kids generally love camping, especially when you plan activities that they can do. They may not have any experience with things such as fishing or campfires. Teach them how to perform these things ahead of time to ensure a great trip.

Are you a first-time camper who has just purchased your first tent? This will give you an understanding of how the confidence to pitch your tent is to be set up and taken down. This will help you get it done before night falls.

TIP! Pillows are a good item to bring to maximize your level of comfort while camping. Don’t bring the pillows you use in your bedroom.

When you are at your campsite, look for the area of the campsite with the flattest and softest ground. Choosing a slanted or rocky area to camp in can make for an unpleasant experience. Always lay down some tarp first to prevent any water from getting into your tent.

Write down a list of all the materials you need before embarking on your trip. This will really be handy if the campgrounds are in a remote location.

TIP! Learn about any dangers that may exist at your campsite before heading out on the highway. There may be spiders or bears that could pose a threat to your safety.

Be mindful of where you set up your camp. You want to avoid erecting your tent near a wasps nest or anthills. If you are by plants or flowers, make sure that you wear tops with long sleeves and full-length pants in order to protect your body’s skin from insect bites. You should bring insect repellent.

Snacks are great for taking on a hike or as a snack after a long day when you don’t feel like preparing a meal. These kinds of foods do not spoil quickly, eliminating the worry of spoilage.

TIP! Don’t go far from home during your first couple of camping trips. You may run into problems that will require you to shorten your trip, like problems with equipment.

You may have fond memories of camping as a child and have been wanting to immerse yourself in that sort of trip again. But you may need some information to refresh yourself. Let this article inspire you to make your next camping trip an enjoyable experience that you will never forget.

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RV Accessories Checklist

Our RV Accessories Checklist can help you determine which items are ‘must haves’ for your RV living. It’s a good idea to be aware that every item on your RV Accessories Checklist has a direct impact on your RV’s weight limit.

Sliding storage tray in basement
Electric storage tank dump valves
Electric leveling jacks
Automatic leveling system
Hitch receiver on rear bumper designed for platform or towing

Floor Plan
One bedroom, separate from the main living area
Two bedrooms, separate from the main living area
Opposing slides in the main living area
Enclosed bathroom, including shower, toilet, and sink
Enclosed toilet area
Washer and dryer space for stackable units
Washer/dryer space for the combined unit
Electrical and Water Systems
One bedroom, separate from the main living area
Additional batteries for extended boondocking
RV generator for making AC power
Inverter for converting DC to AC power
RV solar panels for converting sunlight to DC power
RV water heater operates on AC power and propane
Upgraded water heater to larger capacity
High-pressure cleaning system for the black tank
Heated basement and pipe compartments for freeze protection

Kitchen
High output propane stove for high elevation cooking
Automatic ice maker
Filter for drinking water and ice maker
Countertop extension

Living Area
Recliners
Sleeper sofa
Computer or office desk and drawers
Ceiling fan
Coat closet next to the entry
Sunroof/skylight

Bedroom(s)
Queen size bed
King size bed
Two beds
Bunk beds
Large closet spanning the width of RV
Vanity
Nightshades on all windows
Separate A/C controls for bedroom and living area
Upgraded insulation for cold weather and noise reduction
Double-pane windows for cold weather
Electric heater or fireplace

Entertainment
Large screen TV in the living area
TV in bedroom
Stereo system
In-motion satellite system

Overall Design
Suitable for full-timers
Suitable for snowbirds
Suitable for vacationers
Suitable for RV campers or weekenders

Trailers: All weights within tow vehicle’s manufacturer ratings
Can be operated on state and federal highways without a CDL

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RV Departure Checklist

Our RV Departure Checklist is intended for RV campgrounds and RV parks. We encourage you to add items that suit your needs.

Review your Owner’s Manual to ensure that you complete all steps on their RV Departure Checklist for the safe operation of your RV.

Many items on this list may be completed out of sequence.

Days Before Departure:
Confirm reservations at the next RV campground.
Change postal mail forwarding instructions.
Pay RV bills for current location (ask about deposit refund).
Prepare maps and directions.
Wash laundry.
Buy groceries and supplies for the trip.
Check propane bottle levels, and fill if needed.
Check RV generator fuel levels, and fill if needed.
Check two-way radio batteries.
Check flashlight battery.
Check vehicle’s fluid levels (oil, transmission, brake, coolant, power steering).
Close gray tank valves to collect water for flushing sewer hose after dumping black tank.
Fill the freshwater tank to the desired level.

Day of Departure:
Check tire pressures.
Clean windows and mirrors.
Arrange breakable items in the fridge to prevent breakage.
Fill drinking water containers.

Departure:
Lower roof-mounted TV antenna.
Lower roof-mounted RV satellite dish (TV & Internet).
Collect and store all items from outside the RV (chairs, mats, satellite dishes on tripods, grills, etc.).
Secure items inside cabinets and storage compartments.
Secure items on the kitchen sink and counter.
Secure items on the bathroom sink.
Secure items in the shower.
Secure all other loose items.
Latch shower and closet doors.
Latch all cabinet doors.
Latch refrigerator doors.
Close and latch stovetop and oven door.
Lock tabs on external range hood vent.
Secure TVs and sliding TV trays.
Secure other entertainment electronics.
Secure computer and accessories.
Close roof vents and windows.
Remove decorative and other items and store (lights, bird feeders, etc).
Stowe and secure awnings.
Check slide tops for debris and water.
Move items out of the slides’ way inside the RV.
Move in slides and lock slide mechanism, if available.
Lie down and pad large items which may fall or shift (chairs, tables, etc).
Confirm that all sliding trays are latched and secure (external storage compartment trays, propane bottle trays, battery trays).
Empty black tanks (do this first so the sewer hose gets flushed with contents of gray tanks).
Close black tank valves.
Empty gray tanks.
Close gray tank valves.
Add treatment chemicals and a small amount of water to black tanks.
If traveling with pets, make arrangements for their needs.
Disconnect cable TV and telephone lines, and store cables.
Disconnect electricity, and store cable and adapters.
Disconnect sewer hose, and store hose and related accessories.
Disconnect water hose, and store hose and related accessories.
Confirm that refrigerator is running on 12 volt DC or is turned off.
Turn off all other propane appliances (water heater, furnace).
Shut off all propane bottle valves.
Discard all trash.
Stow all remaining external RV features such as steps.
Secure all items carried on outside or the roof of RV (chairs, bicycles, coolers, etc.).
Raise or remove all stabilizing jacks.
Raise leveling jacks.
Collect and store leveling blocks from under jacks.
Remove wheel chocks.
Confirm that all is clear under the RV.
Confirm that all slides are moved in completely and check the overall exterior of the RV for protruding items.
If carrying items on a hitch platform, load and secure (bicycles, motorcycles, etc.).
Close all internal doors (bathroom, bedroom, living room).
Lock all external RV doors and panels.
Check lights (including signal and brake lights).
Perform a final walk around. Look under and around RV.

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RV Inspection Checklist

This RV Inspection Checklist is intended as a guide for inspecting new and used recreational vehicles.

When buying a new rig, use the RV Inspection Checklist below as your PDI (pre-delivery checklist). The dealer will provide their own pre-delivery inspection, but those tend to be less detailed and performed by someone other than you. In case you are not able to perform a detailed RV inspection before taking delivery, inspect the RV as soon as possible, while still near the dealer to request warranty repairs.

When buying a used RV, consider running through this RV Inspection Checklist with several new RVs first, so that you will be able to spot problems on used units more easily.

RV Inspection Checklist (Exterior):
RV Number (your own #):
Year:
Make:
Model:
RV Type:
VIN:
License Plate: __________
Inspected By:
Owner:
Address:
City:
Phone:
Asking $:
Mileage: __________

Items to Take to Inspection:
Inspection checklist.
Notebook and pen.
Fifty-foot tape measure.
Calculator.
Flashlight with fresh batteries.
Screwdriver with Phillips and flathead tips.
Pliers.
A small mirror (for looking into hard-to-see areas).
Tire pressure gauge with 100 psi range.
Work gloves.
Rags (for checking fluid levels, wiping hands).
Wet towels (for cleaning hands).

Outside Walls:
Surface Condition
Signs of leaks
Seals and caulking
Trim
Doors & screens
Windows & screens
Vents
Handrails
RV Awning mechanisms
Awning canvas
Lights
Mirrors
Steps
Connector covers & sockets
Fuel doors, locks, and caps
Slide external seals
Slide operation, motorized
Slide operation, manual crank
Slide locking mechanism
Slide covers (toppers)

OUTSIDE Roof:
Surface condition.
Corners and edges where walls attach.
Signs of leaks.
Seals and caulking.
Vents and vent hoods.
Slide covers (toppers).
RV Air conditioners.
Antennas and satellite dishes.
Ladder condition and caulking where it attaches to RV.
RV Solar panels.

OUTSIDE Underside:
Fluid leaks.
Frame condition, signs of damage or repair.
Welds.
Axles.
Suspension.
Electric brake wiring.
Plumbing.
Holding tanks (water, waste).
Underside enclosure and insulation.
Straps, pipes, hoses, wires.< Leveling jacks (landing legs). Stabilizing jacks. OUTSIDE Storage Compartments: Overall condition. Signs of leaks. In lower compartments, look up to inspect floor condition. Shine a flashlight into all openings, inspecting all visible components. Doors and seals. Lights. Sliding tray and locking mechanism. OUTSIDE Wheels: Tire pressure. Tire tread. Tire walls. Tire date of manufacture. Spare tire. Wheel rims. OUTSIDE Utilities: Power cable and connectors. RV batteries (house batteries). RV battery disconnect switch. RV battery sliding tray secure. Cable TV connector. Telephone connector. Satellite dish connector. Freshwater hose and connectors. Outside faucet. Freshwater tank fill valve. Freshwater tank drain valve. Water heater tank drain valve. Sewer hose and connectors. Sewer hose storage tube or compartment. Gray tank dump valve. Black tank dump valve. Black tank pressure wash connector and valve. Generator hours. Generator fluid levels. Generator operation. OUTSIDE Propane: Propane bottle condition. Propane bottles and sliding tray secure. Tanks have OPD valves (triangular shape). Connections, pipes, and hoses. Level or empty indicators. Automatic tank selector device. Regulator output pressure. OUTSIDE Trailer Coupling Components: Tongue or King Pin overall condition. Supplemental hitching equipment (sway bars, weight-distributing hitch, etc.). Safety chains. Umbilical cord and connector. Breakaway switch and cable. Hitch receiver (on or under rear bumper). Trailer wiring harness and plug (for pulling toad or trailer behind RV). INSIDE GeneralFloor plan (layout): Necessities are accessible w/slides in Flooring Slide internal seals Windows and screens Drapes and shades Door locks or latches Cabinetry hinges, slides, latches Cabinetry interior Remove drawers, inspect behind them Ceiling Press up on the ceiling to detect sagging Ceiling exhaust vents and fans Furniture Look under and behind movable furniture Mattresses Pull out and fold-down beds Rodent and pest presence or damage INSIDE Kitchen: Countertops. Countertop extensions. Sink. Seals and caulking around the sink. Stovetop, burners, igniters. Stove hood exhaust fan and vent cover. Oven and pilot light. Microwave oven. Coffee maker. Dishwasher. The refrigerator works on all power sources (A/C, propane). Freezer. Ice maker. Drinking water filter. INSIDE Bathroom Toilet flushes. Signs of leaks around the toilet base. Look into the black tank through the toilet for hardened solid waste. Sink and fixtures. Shower and tub walls. Shower fixtures. Shower door and latch. Shower skylight. Washer and dryer connections. Washer and dryer. Washer hoses, any indication of leaks. Dryer vent. INSIDE Fresh Water Systems: Faucets work. The water heater works on A/C and propane. The water pump works. The water pump shuts off automatically soon after all faucets are closed. The water pump on/off switch. Freshwater tank level indicator. INSIDE Waste Systems: Gray tank level indicator. Black tank level indicator. The sink and shower drains work. INSIDE Heating & Cooling: Furnace controls. The furnace puts out hot air through all floor vents. Air conditioner controls. Air conditioners put out cool air through all ducted ceiling vents. Air conditioner filters. Electric heater or fireplace. Ceiling fans. Entertainment Electronics: TVs. TV security straps. TV sliding tray locking mechanism. Audio equipment. Video equipment. Video source switch box (antenna, VCR, DVD, satellite, etc.). Antenna signal amplifier. TV antenna controls for raising, lowering, and rotating. Satellite dish controls for raising, lowering, and rotating. INSIDE Electrical: Lights, 116.25 Volt A/C. Lights, 12 Volt DC. A/C outlets have power. GFCI breakers function. 12 Volt DC ports have power. A/C supply to RV when connected to shore power. A/C supply to RV when the generator is running. A/C supply to RV when the inverter is running off batteries. DC supply to RV when connected to shore power. DC supply to RV when the generator is running. DC supply to RV from batteries. DC supply to RV from tow vehicle via the umbilical cord. Battery charging when connected to shore power. Battery charging when the generator is running. Battery charging from tow vehicle via the umbilical cord. Battery charging from solar panels. Automatic power switching between available systems (shore power, generator, inverter). Location of fuse and breaker boxes. INSIDE Safety Devices: Fire extinguisher. Smoke detector. Carbon Monoxide detector. Propane gas detector. Emergency exit windows. Documentation: Title. MSRP sheet. RV manuals. Engine manuals. Appliance manuals. Maintenance records. Warranty documentation for all major components and appliances. Extended warranty documentation. Most items listed on this RV Inspection Checklist can be inspected by an average person; for more specialized items such as brakes, engines, air conditioners, solar panels, etc., consider having a qualified technician do the inspection. Dealers have techs on staff or contract out technicians to make sure everything is in proper working order prior to handing the rig over but it’s up to you – the RV purchaser – to make sure everything is in full and complete working order before you sign the papers and take delivery of your “new baby”. It is our hope that the RV Inspection Checklist you've just read will help you find the RV you've been dreaming of. ====================gtg A Toy Hauler is sort of like a moving target. It’s hard to hit on an exact definition for this recreational vehicle. Some would feel that utility trailers meet all of the requirements. Others would say that you have to be able to sleep in it. In fact, there are many rigs that fall into this classification of RV. Almost any rig that can carry toys of a larger variety and can accommodate people for sleeping qualifies. A Class A Motorhome which can carry a small car ‘might’ fit into this group of RVs. Or, how about the fancy extended Class C (Super C) which also houses a ‘garage’ for ATVs? Or, the towable trailer with room in the rear for motorcycles? There was a time when you could limit these rigs to those RVs which can accommodate people and off-road vehicles for fun and travel. As you can see, it’s a definition that is moving. Once, the interior accommodations for people were very basic: bunks, low technology surroundings, minimal kitchens, and bathrooms with the most basic holding tanks. Of course, when you see that guy with the Class A Motorhome hauling his all luxury golf cart or his sports car, please don’t tell him you admire his (well you know). He may not know he has a hauler. : ) Although this class of RV comes in so many varieties, the RV Manufacturers who make them have some familiar names. Please check out your RV dealership. ==================gtg RV Setup Checklist This RV Setup Checklist is intended for all RVs. We encourage you to add items that suit your needs. Review your Owner's Manual to ensure that you complete all necessary steps in its RV Setup Checklist as well for safety. Many items on this list may be completed out of sequence. Arrival & Checking In: Check-in. Ask if a discount is offered for RV clubs. Request a map of the RV campground. If arriving after the office is closed, look for after-hours check-in instructions posted near the entrance or office. Locating RV Site: Find your site on the park map and determine entry and exit plans. Walk or take alternate transportation to the RV site before driving RV into the park. Before driving into the RV park, determine if the RV will fit into the site and if all slides can be deployed. Confirm that site has the advertised facilities. Test the water faucet, especially in freezing weather. Plan RV approach path and angle, especially if this is a back-in slot. Driving In & Parking: If the site has no sewer facilities, drive to the dump station and empty waste tanks. If the slot has no water, drive to the water source and fill freshwater tanks. Perform a two-way radio check, if using a spotter. Confirm that all necessary facilities are reachable from this position. Walk around RV to confirm position allows space for slides and other RV features without obstruction. decks, etc. ). Place blocks under leveling jacks. Use leveling jacks to level RV laterally and lengthwise. Chock RV wheels. Setting Up Deploy steps and handrails. Unlock slide mechanism, if available. Deploy slides (from inside RV, confirm that slides form a seal all around). Lower or install stabilizing jacks and apply enough tension to minimize RV movement. If you have an electric outlet tester, use it now. If you have an RV surge protector, plug it into the outlet. Connect electricity and make sure the breaker is turned on. Connect cable TV and telephone line. Connect water hose and water pressure regulator. If the site has sewer: Connect the sewer hose and make sure both ends are secure. If the site has sewer: Open gray tank valves. If the site has sewer: Empty black tanks, if needed. If the site has sewer: Close black tank valves. Turn on all propane bottle valves and check for leaks. Fill the water heater tank by opening the hot water faucet valve until water comes out. Turn on the propane water heater, if needed. Turn on the water pump, if no external water source is available. Confirm that refrigerator is turned on and running on AC. Turn on air conditioners or furnaces and set the thermostat. Remove items from RV which are kept outside (chairs, grills, etc. ). Remove all fasteners used to secure cabinet doors and other items. Unlock tabs on the external range hood vent. Return all items to their normal locations. Raise roof-mounted TV antenna and RV satellite dish. Your RV Setup Checklist should be complete. ===========================gtg Toilet Paper creating havoc? All Q and A information is provided as a guide only. Please don't accept any answers as true and safe unless you have researched the topic or product yourself. If you want to comment on toilet paper, please use our contact us form. Your comment will be added to our discussion. We love to hear from you. Here’s a question that makes us all chuckle just a bit. Yet it’s a question that can have a huge impact on our RV lifestyle. Do you really need to use the expensive RV toilet paper sold by the RV supply stores for RV use only? The short answer is no. For more fun facts, continue reading. Toilet paper test: If you wish to be scientific or to set up a big production for fun with the grandkids, try this. Take the kids to the store and have them purchase 5 different types of toilet paper, maybe the expensive RV toilet paper, a ‘green’ brand and two or three ‘normal’ household versions. Set up 5 large glasses of regular tap water. Label each jar with one type of toilet paper. Place one sheet of toilet paper in its jar. If the toilet paper dissolves within 3 minutes (some people say within an hour), you have a safe RV toilet paper. The shortcut is to read the toilet paper label for ‘safe for septic systems’. OR You can buy the following brands which have been reported to us as testing ‘safe’ by RVers. Angel Soft 2 Ply, septic safe, and Scotts Note: Many RVers report using Calgon in their RV toilet tank, black water tank, as a water softener, and a deodorizer that keeps their bathroom smelling fresh. We sure hope this helps when you begin to research your toilet paper needs. =====================gtg

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Great place in Texas to visit in your RV:

Luckenbach
We drove the leisurely Texas Hill Country back roads ramble through Wimberley to Blanco to Fredericksburg. We sidetracked so that we could see Luckenbach. The town, really just a dancehall, post office, and a creek, was made famous by the song Luckenbach, Texas, sung by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg is a town built by German immigrants in the mid-1800s. The town is laid out with precision: Main Street will accommodate a U-turn by a wagon pulled by a team of 16 horses; from the center of town toward the west, the first letter of each street spells out COME BACK; to the east from downtown, the first letter of each street spells WELCOME.

The center of Fredericksburg is the Marketplatz, and the heart of MarketPlatz is the Vereins Kirche (community church). The Vereins Kirche is now a museum with exhibits focusing on the history of the area and rotating photographic exhibits.

The historic part of Fredericksburg is anchored by The Admiral Nimitz Museum. There are many historic buildings in the downtown area. Surrounding neighborhoods sport log cabins and homes with gingerbread trim, shake shingles, and huge trees. Fredericksburg is a very clean and beautiful town.

Willow City Loop
You can drive the 13-mile long serpentine Willow City Loop, one of the wildest roads in Texas. As you descend into the canyon, you can see huge gray and pink granite boulders tossed around like the building blocks of some giant petulant child.

There are smooth stones scattered about the landscape. Legend has it that the smooth rocks are stars that fell into this valley.

Tall cliffs shade the dense undergrowth, natural grasses, and pools of water left by the rain. Cattle guards rattle your undercarriage but protected the horses, sheep, and deer that wander freely in this protected valley.

Enchanted Rock
There is a millennia of geologic history, including a serpentine quarry, before the road ended at Highway 16. Where Willow City Loop ends is a short drive to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Enchanted Rock is the most famous of the formations in the Enchanted Rock batholith (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion), and the second-largest rock mountain in the US.

Take a Ride on the F&N RR
You can follow the route of The Fredericksburg and Northern Railroad (F&N RR). This railroad reduced the commute from San Antonio to Fredericksburg from two weeks by wagon to one day by train. Expensive to build and maintain, the railroad was shut down as soon as highways made train travel obsolete.

As you leave Fredericksburg on 290E, turn right on Old San Antonio Road to retrace the path of the F&N RR.

Many farm homes, log cabins, and rock walls that predate the railroad remain today.

You pass ghost towns that were once thriving railroad towns: Cain City, Grapetown, and Bankersmith, to name the ones whose remains you may still view today. After Bankersmith you will notice you are steadily climbing. This is the divide between the watersheds of the Pedernales and Guadalupe Rivers. Once past Bankersmith, you will see the raised roadbed of the railroad. For the next ten miles, the road and the rail bed will cross many times.

Stop at the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area, about four miles past Bankersmith. Rather than climb the divide, the railroad engineers decided they must pass through this hill. The tunnel is now home to over 3000 Brazilian Free-Tail Bats.

Bridge to Nowhere
As you continue, you will come to a junction with FM 473. Continue straight ahead towards Comfort. Turn left at the first small road, River Bend Road. Continue on as the road narrows and sweeps toward the Guadalupe River. Soon you will see a railroad bridge, still standing proud after 100 years.

Continue on this River Bend Road and you will come to a low water crossing over the Guadalupe. From this vantage point, you may appreciate the size of this bridge.

Notice there is not a rail bed nor road leading to or from this bridge. The bridge leads to nowhere. It is but a phantom of the Fredericksburg and Northern Railroad, left behind when the tracks were pulled up in 1944 and shipped to Australia and Alaska.

To return to civilization you may continue on River Bend Road until it ends at a T. Go to the left and you will return to FM 473.

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River Authority Parks

There are many parks and sites to see that are not affiliated with the government. Some places are quasi-agencies, like the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA).

LCRA Parks
The Lower Colorado River Authority is charged with storing and selling water, generating electricity, preventing floods, and implementing reforestation and soil-conservation programs on the Colorado River. The drainage basin spans more than 42,000 square miles-about 16 percent of the total area of Texas. The Colorado River is the largest river entirely within the state of Texas.

Impounding water has the added benefit of providing lake and riverfront recreational opportunities.

Matagorda Bay
The Matagorda Bay Nature Park is destined to become a world-class birding destination! The unique river channel, the wetlands of the bays and estuaries, and the Gulf Coast are home to thousands of shorebirds, and many migrating birds, ducks, and geese are enticed to spend a season here. Where there are birds, there are fish and shellfish.

This area is already known as an incredible fishing spot and a wonderful environment in which to study wetland soils, vegetation, and hydrology, bays and estuaries, aquatic organisms, coastal dunes and flora, organisms of the salt marsh, and shoreline shells.

The nearby town of Matagorda has restaurants, lodging, shopping, fishing guides, boat rentals and many other attractions. For area information, please view the Visit Matagorda County website.

Outdoor Programs

Guided kayak trips
Beginning birding
Angler education
Boater safety
Scouting and other youth development programs
Teacher workshops and grade-appropriate educational programs
Facilities

Natural science center with classrooms and exhibits
Fishing along the shore and from four free public piers – three on the river channel and one on the Gulf
Beachcombing
Bird watching
Tent camping on the beach
22-mile beach with vehicle access
Trails and shaded wildlife viewing areas
Group pavilion and covered picnic shelters
Half-mile pedestrian beach
Restrooms and outdoor showers
Facilities meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
This park will fill a void in coastal parklands created when Matagorda Island changed from a State Park to a State Wildlife Management Area due to budgetary concerns. While the Matagorda Bay Nature Park is not as remote as Matagorda Island, this park does have facilities such as potable water, showers and toilets, and road access that was lacking on the Island.
RV Facilities

A new 70-site RV Park with full hookups is open. The RV Park is located along the Colorado River channel, within walking distance of the beach, the hiking trail, and the fishing pier; close to the natural science center, the group pavilion, and the picnic facilities.

GBRA Parks
Coleto Creek Park
The Coleto Creek Park and Reservoir, located midway between Victoria and Goliad, is a joint project between Coleto Creek Power and the GBRA.

At normal pool elevation, it covers 3,100 surface acres with 61 miles of shoreline. The Coleto Creek Reservoir is clear and there are oyster and mussel shells on the sand bottom.

Lots of fishermen are at this lake in February and March because the warmth of the water moves up the date for fish spawning.

Westcave Preserve
Driving down a blacktop country road in the Texas Hill Country, you come upon a private road, marked only with a pile of native stone and the words, Westcave Preserve. Westcave Preserve is part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve system and one of the premier sites for viewing the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.

Journey down the dusty road, past the picnic area and into the parking area for the Warren Skaaren Environmental Learning Center (ELC). The ELC functions as a visitor center and also offers classroom space for educational programs that are part of the mission of Westcave Preserve. The ELC is a sustainable building that uses geothermal heating and cooling, solar energy, and rainwater harvesting, and features an aperture in the ceiling through which sunlight crosses a meridian at noon each day.

The Journey

From the ELC you follow a crushed gravel trail along a limestone bluff, past grasslands scattered with wildflowers, ash junipers, oaks and the cacti typical of the Hill Country. Stop to view the Pedernales River from the wooden deck. Continue on the path to the head of the stairs that will lead you down to another time and place…

…full of Indian legends about a spiritual place, with prehistoric blind fish and a bottomless spring-fed pool. When you finally made your way to the cenote-type opening, you leave behind the merciless summer heat for the magical coolness of delicate ferns and waterfall mist. Sneaking through the speckled shadows, you slip quietly over the mossy rocks down to the alluring blue-green pool. Huge stalactites and stalagmites formed a toothy opening in the mouth like the main grotto, a believable place for legends… Once you reach the bottom of the stairs, you will notice that the temperature is dropping and the humidity is increasing as you enter the lush, almost tropical canyon. This unique microenvironment permits the growth of lush vegetation, including cypress, sycamores, mosses, ferns, columbine, and wild orchids. The golden-cheeked warbler, cedar waxwing, nutria, and ring-tailed cat also find refuge here. Journey to the collapsed grotto with twin waterfalls tumbling over a fern-covered travertine formation into a deep pool. You may walk behind the waterfall and view the enclosure formed when mineral deposits left by eons of water capped a limestone overhang.

Location of Westcave Preserve

Westcave Preserve perches above the Pedernales River in the Hill Country, close to Hamilton Pool, 11 miles from Pedernales Falls State Park, 20 miles from Krause Springs, and 30 miles west of Austin.

Tours of Westcave Preserve

Visitation to the Westcave Preserve canyon trail is by guided tour only to minimize the impact on this beautiful and fragile natural site.

Accessibility

The trail is accessible by wheelchair until you reach the stairs to the canyon floor. Visitors who are unable to make the trip to the bottom should return to the ELC, from which there is a self-guided tour to the picnic area.

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Care and Maintenance of RV Holding Tanks

RV holding tanks include the freshwater tank (drinking water), the black water tank (toilet waste), and the gray water tank (wastewater). This is one area of RVing that we usually do not worry about until it is too late! However, the fun is over if your RV stinks like sewage, your gray water is black, and your drinking water tastes nasty. Do not let this happen to you!

Black Water Tank
This is the septic tank, which holds the solid and liquid waste from the toilet. You may add commercially produced additives that assist the natural process of organic decomposition and cut down odors, you may just dump your tanks and rinse the tanks at every opportunity, or you may explore other methods. Read your owner’s manual for suggestions from the manufacturer of your RV.

Freshwater Tank
The freshwater tank holds your tap water which you use to bathe, clean dishes, flush your toilet, and drink. Some locales have water high in sulfur, which tastes and smells bad, or calcium, which may eventually clog your water pipes. Campgrounds may have a break in the water service line that allows groundwater to contaminate the fresh water. You should use a filter, an inexpensive way to keep your water healthy and clean.

Empty and clean the fresh water tank when you store your RV for the winter (or summer for you snowbirds). Next time you add water, you may want to add a few drops of bleach to the first tank. You may want to bring drinking water with you until this first tank is emptied.

Gray Water Tank
No matter how you spell it, your gray water tank holds wastewater from all drains in the RV except the toilet. Although not as aromatic as black water, gray water has a smell. We suggest emptying your gray water tank before you leave the campground. First, you do not need the added weight of over eight pounds per gallon; secondly, gnats and mosquitoes can breed in the water. After you empty the tank, put a gallon or so of fresh water and a few drops of bleach in the tank. This will move around while you drive. Flush this mixture out with water pressure when you arrive at the next campground before you fill your tank.

Venting Waste Water Tanks
The bacteria breaking down the organic material in the holding tanks naturally produce gases. Ensure these gases vent to the outside and not up through your drains. Keep your drains closed when not in use. In addition, you may buy a special vent or use this T-vent that you may build yourself.

Note: I have permission to print this method. This man swears by it and he has taken heat on forums to defend it. I thought it might be worthwhile for you to read.

Black and Gray Water Holding Tank Maintenance
Using Water Softener, Laundry Detergent, and Chlorine Bleach

RV owners should be concerned with maintaining its wastewater tanks. Problems with wastewater tanks can and should be avoided. Wastewater tank repair is expensive. Due to health concerns, many service facilities will not work on wastewater tanks and lines until the tanks have been completely emptied and sanitized. This may be quite difficult when the tank(s) is in need of repair. So, common sense dictates that the tanks should be kept relatively clean at all times. Additionally, improper use of the wastewater tanks can lead to a build-up of solid wastes, which in itself may cause the system to fail.

I’ve discovered very simple, effective, and inexpensive methods of maintaining my wastewater tanks in a relatively clean condition at all times. I developed these methods myself through my understanding of chemistry, physics, and biology with a smidgen of common sense thrown in for good measure. I also read my RV owner’s manual. Although we are not full-time RVers we use our fifth wheel camper for at least one weekend a month. We never use public bathing and toilet facilities. In other words, our wastewater tanks are fairly heavily used. Since I’ve met a number of RVers who don’t seem to know how to maintain their wastewater tanks I thought many RVers would find my tips useful. If you have not been maintaining your tanks I believe you will be pleasantly surprised the first time you employ these tips. I do these things and they work.

RVs are equipped with wastewater HOLDING tanks; NOT septic tanks. Those holding tanks are nothing more than chamber pots. Chamber pots should be cleaned and sanitized after their contents are disposed of. The Geo Method is based on this fact.

1. DUMP A FULL TANK

When you are camping and your RV is connected to a sewer/septic intake, leave the drain valves closed until the tank is full and ready to dump. Dumping a full tank provides a sufficient quantity of water to flush solids from the tank. Leaving the drain valves open allows the water to drain off without flushing out solid waste. That solid waste will collect in the tank(s) and cause problems over time. If your tanks are not full when you are ready to dump them, fill them with fresh water first, and then dump them.

2. DUMP TANKS IN ORDER FROM DIRTIEST TO CLEANEST

In other words, dump the black (commode) water tank first, then dump the galley tank, then dump the bathroom tank. This way you will be flushing out the dirtiest water with progressively cleaner water.

3. USE WATER SOFTENER, DETERGENT, and CHLORINE BLEACH

This stuff is amazing and it works. Buy a couple of boxes of powdered water softener at the grocery store. You’ll find it located with or near the laundry detergent products. I prefer Calgon Water Softener because it dissolves quickly in water. Cheaper water softeners work just as well but dissolve more slowly. Dissolve two (2) cups of the water softener in a gallon of hot water. Then, pour the solution down the drain into the empty tank. Use two cups of softener for each wastewater tank in your RV. The tank’s drain valve should be closed otherwise the softened water will just drain out. Then use the tank(s) normally until it is full and drain it normally. Add a cup of laundry detergent to the black (commode) water tank at the same time you add the water softener. This will help clean the tank. The gray water tanks should already contain soap through normal use.

Water softener makes the solid waste let go from the sides of the tanks. If you’ve ever taken a shower in softened water you know that after rinsing the soap from your body your skin will feel slick. That’s because all the soap rinses away with soft water. Softened water also prevents soap scum from sticking in the tub. Get the connection? With softened water, gunk washes away instead of sticking. The same thing applies to your RV’s wastewater tanks.

I use a clear plastic elbow connector to attach my sewer drain line to the wastewater outlet on my RV. It allows me to see how well things are progressing during a wastewater dump. Before I began using water softener regularly the black water tank’s water was brown, the galley tank’s water was brownish, and the bathroom tank’s water was white. The first time I added water softener to the tanks the water coming from the black water tank was actually black (not brown) and the kitchen tank’s water was also black (not brownish). The bathroom tank’s water remained white. That told me that the water softener had actually done what I had intended for it to do and made solid waste, which had been stuck to the interior of the tanks, let go and drain away. I added water softener (and laundry detergent to the black tank) to all the wastewater tanks for the next few dumps to be certain all the solid waste possible had been cleaned away. The wastewater only appeared black on the initial treatment. I now add water softener and detergent to each tank once after every few dumps to maintain the system.

Too little water softener may not be of sufficient concentration to work effectively. Too much water softener will NOT hurt the tanks. So, if the amount you used didn’t quite do the job, then use more the next time. Don’t forget the laundry detergent.

Occasionally, I pour a half-gallon of liquid bleach into each tank to deodorize, sanitize and disinfect them. I add the bleach when the tank is about half full, and then continue to use the tank normally until it is full and ready to dump. I no longer use the blue toilet chemical because it isn’t necessary. I have no odors coming from my black water tank. The chlorine bleach kills the bacteria, which is primarily responsible for wastewater tank odor. Generic brand liquid bleach is cheap and very effective.

4. USE A WATER FILTER ON YOUR FRESHWATER INTAKE LINE

Most freshwater contains sediment. Sediment will accumulate in your wastewater tanks and your freshwater lines. It also tends to discolor your sinks, tub/shower, and commode. I use the disposable type and have found that they eventually fill up and begin restricting the freshwater flow resulting in low pressure. That’s how I know it’s time to get a new filter. It works, it’s cheap, it avoids problems, do it. When I fill my freshwater tank I attach the filter to the end of the hose and fill the tank with filtered water.

SOME OTHER THOUGHTS

WATER, WATER, WATER – and more water! The Geo Method assumes you are hooked up to a plentiful clean water supply, and that you have access to a sewer. The water softener will make the gunk let go. That’s only half the battle. After the gunk lets go it must then be flushed through the relatively small drain opening in the bottom of the tank. That takes water. Lots of water. I use a Flush King (Google it) to make rinsing more effective and faster.

CAUTION should be used when mixing chemicals. All I did when I came up with The Geo Method was use normal laundry products (water softener, laundry detergent, and chlorine bleach) and put them in the holding tanks which already contain water. I was NOT experimenting with chemicals. I simply applied laundry chemicals in normal combination to the wastewater tanks. There are chemical products under your kitchen sink, in your laundry room, and in your garage that can injure or kill you when mixed. If you can do your laundry without harming yourself you can successfully employ The Geo Method. Don’t go playing around with novel chemical combinations concocted from household products.

What was novel about The Geo Method was not in the combination of chemicals (all household laundry products intended to be used in combination) but in their application in cleaning RV wastewater tanks. Common experience, if you’ve done laundry, tells you The Geo Method is safe. Doing laundry doesn’t damage your washing machine, rot out your plumbing, or destroy wastewater treatment systems. The Geo Method won’t either. However, substituting other cleaning agents may not be safe.

There’s nothing special or fragile about the materials used in RV plumbing. RV plumbing materials are made from the same stuff that household plumbing is made from. The problem arises in figuring out how to clean and sanitize the inaccessible interior of a holding tank. Water softener prevents gunk from adhering to the inside of the tanks, detergent removes the dirt, and chlorine bleach kills germs/odors. Soaking gives the chemicals time to work. Agitating the mix by driving down the road helps the process. Think of it this way; you can put some really nasty stuff in your washing machine, yet the inside of the washing machine doesn’t get dirty. It stays clean – right? The same goes for your automatic dishwasher. The same thing applies to RV holding tanks.

Those people who claim The Geo Method is somehow harmful just plain don’t know what they’re talking about. Their objections defy common sense and common experience. Anyone who thinks The Geo Method is harmful has a simple solution available to their simple-minded concerns – don’t use it. At one time, daily bathing was thought by some to be harmful to one’s health, and they argued against it advising others to remain dirty. Those who object to The Geo Method fall into the same category of enlightened thought.

Will The Geo Method work even if most of the time I’m NOT hooked up to water and sewer? YES! Just use common sense. If you dry camp ninety percent of the time just keep water softener and detergent in your tanks (especially the black tank) while you’re dry camping. This will keep gunk from sticking to the tanks. When you are hooked up to sewer and water take the opportunity to fill the tanks with fresh water and flush the tanks. Keep flushing them until the water runs clear. I know it works because I’ve done it.

Never put regular toilet tissue in your RV’s black tank. Only use toilet tissue that is approved for RV and/or septic tank use. Regular toilet tissue may eventually dissolve, but not before causing a clog in your black tank.

Occasionally traveling with partially filled wastewater tanks containing softened water and detergent promotes cleaning by agitating the water. The same goes for chlorine bleach.

I believe this process works faster and more efficiently during warm weather. However, I know it works well even during cool/cold weather.

The process works best the longer the water softener and detergent remains in the tanks. So, I don’t add water softener during periods of heavy wastewater generation. I wait until I know we won’t be generating wastewater quickly so that the softened water remains in the tanks for several days before dumping.

If you have an older RV you may have to use water softener and detergent several times initially to completely clean the tanks of residue.

I add a small amount of chlorine bleach to the freshwater tank twice a year to disinfect and sanitize the fresh water tank and freshwater lines. A weak chlorine bleach solution will not hurt you. However, it certainly makes the water taste bad. When we have chlorine in the freshwater system we use bottled water for drinking and cooking until the chlorine is gone. YES, we drink the filtered water that we have in the freshwater tank. NO, it has never tasted funny or caused any problems.

No, I do NOT do the ice cube thing. The Geo Method works just fine without ice cubes.

My tanks are plastic and my pipes are PVC.

Don’t be afraid to use your tanks. Just use common sense about their care and maintenance.

These tips are inexpensive to do. Some of them don’t cost anything. You have nothing to lose in trying them and I encourage you to do so. I actually feel a certain amount of pride in the condition and cleanliness of both my waste and freshwater systems. Naturally, these tips make dumping a much more pleasant and sanitary procedure.

If you have odors in any of your water systems these procedures should eliminate them. Odors indicate a sanitary problem and degrade the enjoyment you derive from your RV.

When my RV is parked and not in use I place stoppers in the sink and tub drains. This forces the wastewater tanks to vent through the vent pipes to the outside instead of through the drains into the RV. Water evaporates. Once the drain traps dry out during periods of non-use, nothing is there to prevent gasses (odor) from venting into the camper. Use stoppers when your RV is stored.

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RV content – gtg for website

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RV tips/ Prudent Motorhome Tips

Many people think if they know how to drive a car, they know everything the need to handle a motorhome. Whether you buy or rent, there is much you should know in addition to basic car information.

1. Securing Your RV – If you are going to be leaving your RV to go exploring, make sure you secure all the entries. Most people do this for windows and such, but remember any openings on the roof.

2. RV Rush Hour Driving – You may be tempted to keep trucking along even if you are in a big city during rush hour. I highly advise against this. Frustrated drivers can be vicious. You will also put a lot of wear and tear on your RV.

3. Winter RV Storage – If you store your RV in the winter months, you need to take something into account – water. Freezing water expands. Empty everything in your vehicle that contains water or you could be in for a nasty surprise.

4. Shop Around For Your RV – Whether renting or buying an RV, it is important to shop around. The quality of vehicles and prices vary widely by dealer. In this case, it is buyer beware.

5. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating – When evaluating an RV, it is important to understand how much weight it can take. This is known as the gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR. Do not exceed it!

6. Fast Lane RVing – First off, going 80 in an RV is very risky. Stay out of the fast lane. Even if you can handle it, you stick out like a thumb, which means tickets from your friendly highway patrol.

7. Rest Stop Sleeping – For some reason, rest stops tend to attract strange people. If possible, try to avoid sleeping at them. If nothing else, you will not get much rest.

8. RV Internet Shopping – Before you ever go to a dealer, you should go RV internet shopping. Look at the various models and prices to figure out what you like and can afford without suffering under the pressure of a salesman.

9. Class B Motorhome Prices – Class B motorhomes are better known as camper vans. They are essentially vans converted to your living needs. Prices range from $30,000 to $65,000.

10. RVs in Big Cities – In general, you should avoid trying to drive in big cities, particularly in congested areas such as downtown. Use your common sense. Do you really think a 30 footer is going to do well?

At the end of the day, a motorhome is definitely a great way to get out and experience the world. It offers freedom at a moment’s notice and enough money to fill up the gas tank. If you get a chance, give it a go at least once.

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Buying an RV

This article is meant to be helpful to any buyer of any motor home, fifth wheel, or travel trailer. It has been compiled from personal experience as well as research that has been summed up from other RV owners. Maybe this article will help save some dollars.

I suggest that you do your research from different manufacturer’s websites. This will help you gather information and ideas on different models and floor plans that are to your liking. Be sure to read all the RV forums, as this can be another resource to gather valuable information. List your priorities. Listen to everyone, then weigh their opinion even if they may have different priorities than you do. Choose what is important for your wants/needs and priorities list.

Your requirements may be different than others, like those bunk beds for your children or the grandkids. Maybe you want slide outs or a specific kitchen floor plan. Maybe it is laundry facilities in the vehicle. You may want a motor home, fifth wheel, or travel trailer. Or maybe it is that sports toy hauler trailer. Carefully consider, what you and your family’s, priorities are. Remember to consider the grandkids or any other family member, who may be traveling with you. How many people do you think will be traveling with you at one time?

Whatever you do, don’t compromise your priorities list. Don’t get a smaller vehicle that fits the budget better, thinking that you will just trade up in a couple of years. Remember that you can lose a lot of money on depreciation and wear and tear.

Decide what kind of RVer, you want to be. You may want to be a snowbird site-seer who parks for the winter, or maybe it’s a road warrior who has to travel long distances to see family members. This kind of knowledge will help you decide what models to be looking at. Some floor plans are better suited for travel than for parking because they have slider outs which are only used when parked. Remember that once the slide outs are closed you may have problems accessing certain locations within the motor home while you are on the road.

There are larger vehicles that are more like your house because they have two or more slide outs. When you are parked and you have the slide outs, you will have more living space. In some cases, it might be more square footage than the condo at home.

As a couple, you should decide on what you are willing to pay for the vehicle itself. That will give you a good starting place for your purchasing budget. Discuss upfront exactly how much cash you are willing to use as the down payment and how much you are willing to finance. In today’s RV market, there are some really good low interest offers right now. But you should decide what your home budget will allow you to spend on monthly payments. After all, you want to have the vehicle for years to come. Here again, use caution and know what you are signing. Read the small print. You do not want to break the piggy bank as you want to be able to afford those long trips to see those grandkids.

In today’s RV market, there are some great deals to be had if you want to cross border shop. Do your research upfront, so that you know what you are looking for and what kind of deal you are getting. If you find that special RV vehicle across the border, you should know that before you can take delivery of the unit, the vehicle must be paid for in full. Before you do any shopping across the border, go to your bank manager and arrange for the financing upfront.

While you are waiting to take delivery across the border, allow yourselves enough time, to make the appropriate bank transfers. This process can take a few days for the financing to be put into place. If you have given yourself the time to take delivery there will be a lot less stress. Dealerships have to because once the vehicle has crossed over the border, it is very difficult to get the vehicle back if need be. Besides, you will need the actual bill of sale, when you cross over the border.

Before you leave home, I would suggest that you check with your local RV dealership’s service department to find out what kind of service, you can expect from them, once you bring the RV vehicle home. You will want to make sure that they will work with you in maintaining your vehicle so that it is always roadworthy.

I have a friend, who found a fantastic deal from an RV dealership in California. He flew there to take delivery and drove it back home to Texas. About six months later when a couple of parts needed to be replaced, he went to the local RV service department to get them fixed.

He found that the customer service that he was offered was negligible. He was convinced that it was because he had not bought the motor home locally. He had to order the parts from his dealership in California where he bought the motor home and have the parts sent to him. Not only did the parts cost double, but he also had to find someone who was willing to install the new parts. I cannot say that this happens at every dealership but truly it was a nightmare for him. So that is why I suggest checking with your local RV dealership to find out what their policies are. Who knows? They may be willing to match or beat any special deal you have been offered. It may save you money in the long run.

Good luck with your search for that home away from home.

Enjoy your road experience.

Drive Safe and see you on the road.

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Purchasing an RV? – Here are some helpful hints.

When you are making your needs and wants list, for your preferred vehicle whether it is a travel trailer or a full motor home coach, here are some points to consider.

How many people do you need to be able to accommodate in your vehicle?

Do you want the vehicle for just short trips where you will drive to your destination, then park for a month? What kind of RVer do you want to be a Road Warrior or one who parks your vehicle in one spot for months at a time?

If you have a family you might want to consider renting a motor home for a holiday just to see if you and your family enjoy the RV experience.

Do you want a vehicle with special air-braking systems or not. Driving a motor home with air-brakes in Canada requires the owner to be certified on air-brakes. (It is a short 3-day course)

If you enjoy long-distance holidays where you drive across the country, then park near family or friends for a two week period, then you will have to decide what features within your motor home do you need to have available while driving.

What size of a bed would be appropriate for you, regular or queen?

Are you a snowbird who will be using your vehicle for long periods (5 winter months) of time on your road experience or will it be just short weekend trips?

How much space do you require for kitchen counter space (island area), dining, and living area?

While checking the kitchen counter space note how much food storage you might need as well.

How often do you need to run appliances? (Example: oven, stove, and washer/dryer?

What would suit you best, a dining table with chairs or a dinette booth?

How much privacy do you wish in your bedroom, washroom, or shower/bath?

Does anyone in your travel party require any upgrades like a wheelchair lift or modifications to the width of the door entrance to accommodate wheelchair etc. or possibly access to the washroom? This would include an upgrade in special chairs and or beds.

On the performance of the motor home: Consider that you may lose speed while you are going up-hill because of the load you may be carrying or pulling like the car behind the motor home. Can you handle this?

Consider how much fuel your tanks can hold and what kind of mileage you may get between fill-ups. This would also bring to mind how much you should check maps and plan your trip for fuel stops.

How much does your water (black and grey) tanks hold?

Do you have long pieces of luggage that would require pass-through storage areas?

Do you want your storage doors to open a certain direction (i.e. to the side or up like a bus)?

How many televisions do you want and where would they be?

Your entertainment station (i.e. Stereo, CD/DVD player) location?

Do you require any upgrades to the soundproofing in your vehicle? Some people require their TV and stereo turned up because they may have a hearing problem? (HINT: You might consider wireless headphones for yourselves. This would also work for TV sound as well.)

You may want to note where your television location is. You want to be able to watch your TV at eye level and straight on, rather than around the counter space, cooking island, or table. You do not want to be looking up at the television when it is hanging from the ceiling. Your neck will get sore.

Do you like or need a kitchen plus a refrigerator and or an entertainment center outside the vehicle? This would be for use when you are parked?

Be sure to check other options that a specific manufacturer may have to offer that you like and may not be on this list. You can add them to your needs and wants list.

How far between fill-ups (for fuel and water) will you be able to comfortably go. Some people like to be able to travel for long periods of time, like 1000 miles, and be self-sufficient for up to 5 days.

Know that the more wants and needs that you have of course the price goes-up so be reasonable.

If you are someone who has found a fantastic deal across the border you can find all the information and tips on how to import a vehicle into the US. Do your research on how to bring a vehicle across the border legally and without any hassles. Find the right regulations and forms that you need. See regulations on importing a vehicle.

While you are considering storage areas, make sure that you choose one, with the easiest access and give you the maximum storage area. That is why a lot of people like the pass-through storage area which has doors that lift up as they do on a bus. Just think it might even have room to park that small scooter that one of your travel companions, may need while you are on your holiday.

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A great American humorist once said, “The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket.” But when RV living is your way of life, saving every penny may not be as easy as you might expect. The following RV tips are sure to help you save, and even earn, money while enjoying the RV way of life.

Ways to save money

Get more bank for your tank. Enjoy better gas mileage by practicing these simple driving tips:

1. Slow down – The faster you drive, the lower your fuel economy will be.
Inflate – Proper tire inflation is a sure way to improve your gas mileage.
Lighten your load – Eliminating excess RV weight increases your fuel efficiency.

2. Stop and shop. Forget about stocking up on everything you need for your entire trip by buying in bulk beforehand. Instead, shop often and locally. You’ll not only reduce the weight of your RV and get better fuel economy but also save money by skipping the national chains and shopping for produce, meat, dairy, and other items at a local discount and dollar stores.

3. Eating in is in. Skip the restaurants and eat in. Your meals not only will be more affordable but also they will be healthier than those bought at the fast-food restaurants and old-fashioned diners along the highway.

4. Go green. Use plastic, not paper. Although paper products are easy to use and even easier to throw away, why not go green while on the road? While the initial investment of purchasing a set of washable and reusable dishes may cost more upfront, not having to continually purchase paper plates, cups and utensils will save in the long run.

5. Try “boondocking.” According to Jack and Julee Meltzer, authors of The Smart RVers Guide to Saving Money: Have More Fun RVing For Less Money, boondocking, or “dry-camping,” usually entails staying somewhere that offers no hook-ups (water and sewer) at little or no cost. Whether it’s a parking lot or in the desert on public land, some RVers only boondock. Most RVers, however, stay at a campground every few days in order to empty their tanks, do laundry and fill up on freshwater.

6. Make house calls. If boondocking isn’t your style, why not turn your RV road trip into an opportunity to visit with family and friends? Be sure to be respectful and always ask before showing up; however, most close friends and family would be delighted for an impromptu visit that doesn’t involve clean sheets and extra towels. Parking your RV in the driveway shouldn’t be a problem; just make sure to ask if there are any city ordinances requiring parking permits in the neighborhood.

7. Join the club. RV membership clubs like The Good Sam Club, KOA, Passport America, Camp Club USA, Happy Camper, and Escapees offer a wide range of benefits to their members, including substantial discounts on campground fees. Do your research before embarking on your journey to see what deals and discounts you can find for the road.

8. Get online. RV forums can be found on numerous websites. And while you’re surfing, try finding online coupons, codes, and discounts for all of your other necessary RV purchases.

9. Save money on storage by selling your stuff. Save that monthly storage unit fee and make some money at the same time. Before embarking on your road trip, hold a sale, and eliminate all of your unused belongings, then donate whatever is left to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army. In addition to a little extra income, you’ll receive a deduction on your taxes.

10. Investigate your policies. Research your insurance policies to ensure you are getting what you need at a price you can afford. Whether you’re looking at your RV insurance options or trying to find discount RV insurance coverage for your vehicle, sometimes changing your provider or premiums can save you money.

The RV lifestyle is one of the most affordable ways to travel and experience all that the country has to offer. Utilize these helpful tips for RVing on a budget, and make every dollar stretch for miles.

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My mom and dad recently bought an RV and they already had a boat, so we got right on planning a long weekend getaway for the fall. Well, it’s fast approaching and I am getting ready-making lists and starting to pack.

Hitching up the boat and RV is the guys’ job, but getting everything else is up to us gals. We plan the meals, prepare for rain or shine and create the itinerary to get the most family fun out of every trip. Here’s what we have planned for our trip to boat and RV:

Meals

Even with all the conveniences of the RV, we still want to keep meals pretty simple. Who wants to spend their precious vacation time cooking, right? We have a beef brisket we will smoke, hamburger patties made up to grill, and pork steaks. We are making potato salad, pasta salad and cole slaw for a few side dishes and we’ll have some chips. This is the nice part about RV traveling-we have the fridge there to store the stuff ahead of time. For breakfast, we have mostly danishes, donuts, and other grab and go items. On the last day we have biscuits and gravy, which we can also make beforehand. We also got the ingredients for s’mores and my sister will make brownies and rice Krispie treats.

Clothes

A fall trip is simply wonderful. Often it’s warm enough to enjoy boating and playing in the water a little, but cools off in the evening to make a campfire just perfect. You don’t sweat through dinner and the mosquitoes are all but a memory. However, you have to pack for all seasons. You may or may not need swimsuits and it’s just as likely you’ll need sweat suits and rain gear. So, to summarize, bring it all. Again, this is when it is super-handy to have the RV, there is so much more space to keep it all.

Itinerary

Like the clothing, you kind of need to prepare for it all. What will you do when it’s pouring down rain or freezing cold? Or what if the mercury is approaching 90 degrees? We are hoping for the best and preparing mainly for somewhere in the middle, which means a lot of hiking in the mornings and boating in the afternoons. But, we’re also ready to shift gears if swimming becomes possible or if we are trapped under tarps to stay dry. Scrabble by the campfire anyone?

A boat and RV trip are all about rolling with the punches and we all have a great attitude about going. We’ll have a great time, rain or shine. Taking the boat and RV may just be our best family vacation yet!

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If you and your family are planning for a trip, an RV will help you. Rent one for your first outing and then figure out what kind of RV is right for your family. There are class A, B, C, and fifth wheels. Add to that those that have to be pulled and those with storage for “toys” like motorcycles, bikes, and watercraft. There are RV’s with bunk beds for the kids and RV’s with room for just two. You can spend as much or as little money as you have available.

Maybe you want to start just a step up and get a pop-up camper. That’s a big step up from sleeping in a tent. You have your own air conditioning and, sometimes, even a bathroom. From there, the sky’s the limit; literally. Today’s RVs can cost as much as one million dollars each. Some are even equipped with garden tubs or Jacuzzis.

Once you have decided how much to spend and on whether you are either renting or buying your RV, it is time to decide where you are going to go in it.

The possibilities are endless.

First of all, you will need to know where you are going and plan what highways to use. Remember that an RV is a lot larger than a car and more difficult to handle in traffic. You might decide you would rather take the interstates and use a car to check out the smaller roads. When you figure out where you want to go and how to get there, you need to know where you are going to stay. You can’t park an RV just anywhere. Cities have ordinances about stopping overnight in parking lots and, in some states; you can’t even stop to sleep in a state rest area. You will need to know where the RV parks are that can handle your particular type of recreation vehicle.

Some parks only allow Class A RV’s; some cater to pop-ups or small pullers.

You will need to plot your travel based on how many miles you plan to drive per day. It is a good idea to take the RV out for a few trial runs before you set off on the big trip. Always remember that an RV needs extra turning room and has to make a wide swing to turn into a road or a parking lot. There are blind spots that you cannot see without making use of all your mirrors and your rearview camera. Always watch the other guy as closely as possible because you can’t stop an RV very quickly. When you do have to put on brakes, make certain your family is strapped in tightly because it is possible for things to go flying through the body of the RV if they aren’t secured well before travel.

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Vacation is always fun. Minus the expenses that the adults have to cover, people go on vacations for various purposes. While flying is the faster way to go, traveling by land can be just as fun and you wouldn’t even notice the time passing by as you get to enjoy the sights. But if you’re tired of the whole sightseeing thing, there are other ways on how to make your road trip go by faster while you are in the car. Here are some suggestions on what you can do on your next road trip.

– Play games – Nobody is too old for fun games! Whether you are traveling with the family members in different age brackets or a road trip with your young at heart friends, there are games that you can do inside the car that can provide hours of entertainment, fun, and laughter. You can bring prizes with you too. They can be real prizes or just fun silly prizes.

The game can be about plate numbers you see, the sights you see outside the window, games about music, and many more.

– Music trip – You can have fun for hours listening, or better yet, singing along with your favorite tunes. Pop in a CD or connect your iPod and there will never be a sleepy moment inside the car. You can even turn this into a game similar to Don’t Forget the Lyrics, or the classic Name That Tune.

– Mini comedy club – Turn your car into a mini-comedy club! Have a round-robin of takes and have each other bring out his favorite jokes or tell some of your funniest stories.

– Food trip – All those laughs and singing can get you really hungry. Stock up on snacks in the car so you can immediately have a bite when you want to.

– Photo ops – If you see a great sight, and there will definitely be plenty, hop out of the car and take souvenir photos.

– Stopovers – Apart from using the bathroom, make your stopovers a food trip experience to try and explore the different food offerings from a different area.

Try to stay away from the typical fast food places such as McDonald’s. Take this as an opportunity instead to try out something new and exciting for your palette.

– RVs – Use RVs if you can so your road trip can have an element of camping adventure in it. Especially for long drives, RVs can provide homey comfort to some extent. With an RV, you can go just about anywhere, even the woods or the desert.

– Lastly, follow traffic rules. It’s not fun to be getting tickets in every city you run into so obey traffic laws and you should be well on your way to vacation and road trip fun.

As they say, sometimes it’s not about the destination, but it’s about the journey. Have a fun-filled road trip that family and friends will look forward to year after year. What is truly important on a road trip is your sense of adventure, and being able to say yes and have fun when the opportunity presents itself.

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Holy huge – Texas is massive. And there are actually signs as you go in saying don’t mess with Texas. We didn’t get to see anywhere near as much as we wanted in Texas due to weather, but it sure did deliver in terms of fun for what little time we were there. Big thanks to a friend for recommending Fredericksburg and to other friends for showing us a great time in Houston. We were a couple of hours outside San Antonio when we saw a sign for Fredericksburg and remembered our friend talking about it being a decent wine country. My wife quickly jumped onto harvesthosts.com to find a winery in the Fredericksburg area where we could stay the night. Harvest Hosts is an RV club that has relationships with wineries, breweries, farms, and museums across the country that allow people in RV’s to stay the night on their land free of charge. Pay the annual membership fee and you get access to the country-wide directory. It’s been a lot of fun so far and is nice to break up just staying in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Anyway, we stayed at Messina Hof winery and obviously went straight in to start tasting some wine after we parked. Several bottles later we left the Messina Hof cellar door, dropped the bottles off in the motorhome, and walked down the road to the next winery for another tasting. Another bottle later we made our way back to the motorhome. Hearing about some of the good German food in downtown Fredericksburg while in the wineries, we clearly had to go sample some of it for dinner. The weather was a little questionable so we just drove the motorhome into town and parked at the visitor center. That way, if we had a little too much to drink with dinner our beds would be walking distance away! We went to the Auslander Restaurant and it was awesome. My wife had some stuffed cabbage and I went straight for the brats.

While walking back to the motorhome after dinner, we walked past a sign pointing down a staircase to a basement advertising breakfast. So after looking at that menu, we were going to have to make a stop back through town in the morning for breakfast. What a fantastic decision that was! My wife ordered the duck hash; basically an eggs benedict but instead of English muffins and ham under the eggs and hollandaise it was a bed of homestyle potatoes with duck topped off with eggs and hollandaise. Now go get a towel because if you’re not drooling on your keyboard yet, you’re about to. I ordered a steak benedict. Yes, that’s right. It’s exactly what you’re thinking. Everything that’s great about eggs benedict was there except the ham was replaced with two medium-rare cuts of sirloin. If you want some good wine, good food, and a nice small-town atmosphere where everything is 5 minutes drive away, Fredericksburg is the place. We loved it.

Leaving Fredericksburg I remembered that a guy I went to high school with was living in Houston now. I hadn’t seen or talked to him in probably 8 or 9 years but I got his number from another friend and told him we were going to be passing through Houston late afternoon. I asked him if he was around and up for dinner or a beer and as luck would have it, there was a Wal-Mart less than a mile from his house for us to park the RV.

He picked us up on his way home from work about a half-hour after we arrived at the Wal-Mart and went to the Red Robin around the corner for a beer. While in the middle of catching up on what each other had been up to for the last 8-9 years, he read a text on his phone and said “I don’t know if you guys would be into it and it might not work out, but my buddy is trying to score 4 tickets to the Rockets game tonight through work.” Of course, we were up for it. Within about 15 minutes, he got another text saying that he got the tickets and that we were on for the game! My wife was going to get to see her first professional basketball game. Not a bad way to start our time in Houston.

What an awesome time that was. Free tickets, drinks, and food for the whole game then went out to a couple of bars after the game. It was a really close game and the only thing that would have been better would have been if the Astros could have closed the game out with a win.

The only downside was that it was a Wednesday night and my friend had a 7:30 meeting the next morning. It might not have been that bad but after we finally made it back to the RV, Luke and I decided that we’d stay up drinking and solving all the world’s problems until about 3 AM. He was hurting the next day but made his meeting. While that poor guy was sweating alcohol at his 7:30 meeting, My wife and I had the couch folded out into a bed watching movies, eating microwave pizzas, and drinking Gatorade. I’m pretty sure she saved my life that morning. She got up before me, gave me a handful of pills, and put me back to sleep. She woke me back up about an hour later with a bag of Cheetos, 32 oz. Gatorade, frozen pizzas, and a couple of Red Box movies…could somebody be any more perfect?! I suggest not.

My friend and I were texting throughout the morning while he was struggling through his work day when he remembered that his fiance was heading to the Maranda Lambert concert at the rodeo with some of her girlfriends. My wife had never been to a rodeo so of course, we were in. So night two in Houston we headed for the Astrodome where the Houston Rodeo was being held. We paid $18 for a full entry that got us into the carnival, rodeo, and Maranda Lambert concert. That’s a lot of entertainment for $18. Before we got into the rodeo, Luke took us down the food section which was about a 200-yard long section of southern BBQ vendors….I was in heaven. If somebody would have had a wheelchair handy, I would have let them all go into the rodeo and I would have happily wheeled my fat ass up and down that row to every vendor I could handle.

The rodeo was great and I got to see Chuckwagon racing for the first time which was awesome. During the concert after the rodeo was finished, my wife said she’d never been to a live concert before either! Two nights in Houston and we’d checked three firsts off for her. She has set the bar pretty high though with great seats and free entry to watch a good game, seats near the bull chutes at the Houston Rodeo, and her first concert being Maranda Lambert! Not a bad start. Again though, my friend and I took on another late night/early morning of drinking and problem solving with a group of his friends. At least this time he didn’t have a 7:30 meeting and was able to go into the office a little later. My wife was a little smarter than we were, not a big surprise there, and opted out of our shenanigans.

For our last night in Houston, my wife and I really wanted to get some good BBQ while we were in Texas so my friend and I figured we’d take Friday night a little easier and just head out for some dinner. Our friends took us out to Rudy’s. I thought they must have needed fuel when we turned into a gas station but then I saw the sign on the wall for Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ so we were obviously in the right place. I could not believe it. You order your meat by the half-pound, grab your beers out of the ice-filled steel tubs, and spread it all out on a piece of paper on the table to start eating. The four of us all had drinks and ate brisket, ribs, pulled pork, sausage, potato salad, and beans until we could hardly move. All that for only $15/person! The price was great and the taste was even better. Best BBQ I’ve ever had!

We went to a bar for a cleansing ale after dinner then finished the evening back at the RV bullshitting and having a few more cleansing ales for our last night in Houston. Just when we thought we were finished, they said we had to go get breakfast the next morning at Summit Donuts before we hit the road. We hadn’t been led astray yet, so of course, we were in! After a jalapeño kolache (pastry stuffed with sausage, egg, jalapeño, and cheese) followed by a melt in your mouth glazed donut that makes Krispy Kreme taste like a stale turd, we were ready to hit the road for New Orleans.

Thanks again my friends taking the time to show us around Houston and hang out while we were in town, especially on such short notice. Next time we’ll let you guys know more than two hours out that we’re coming. Looking forward to our next trip out your way!

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The newspaper for those who can read.