Thursday, November 26, 2015

RV Tip: How to Keep Your RV Stable

A good many RV parking sites are less than perfectly level, and that means there’s a good chance that leveling and stabilizing is necessary when settling in. Once you’ve found the perfect place to park that RV, you must then take to the task of getting your RV squared away. Leveling an RV provides the important benefit of preventing you from feeling like you’re sleeping on the side of a sand dune at night, or watching those round fruits bound jovially off of countertops while you’re preparing meals. In addition, RV refrigerators need the stability of level ground to function properly. Without a level RV, you’ll find that perishable food of yours feeling mighty tepid in no time.

Standard rigs often come with leveling ramps or blocks, and a small bubble level to help you determine when the RV is balanced.

Types of Stabilizing Jacks

Many travel trailers and fifth wheels come readily equipped with stabilizer jacks. High-end motorhomes and trailers often come with hydraulic self-leveling systems that manage this on their own, but not all rigs have this convenience. There are a few types of stabilizing jacks on the market, each with their own level of complexity and ease:

  • Stabilizing jack stands: These stands are portable and fairly economical, but require you to duck under your RV and carefully place them every time you set up camp.
  • Permanently mounted hand-crank jacks: These jacks, most commonly of the scissor jack variety, are permanently affixed to your RV’s frame, making is simple to crank them into place when you’re ready to set up camp.
  • Permanently mounted electric jack stands: These jack stands are the easiest and most hands-off (albeit pricier than the manual versions above) and allow you to set them up with the push of a button.
Regardless of the stabilizing jack system you have, it’s always crucially important to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper care of your stabilizing jacks and proper balance of your rig. Stabilizing Your RV Keep in mind that you should never use your stabilizers to level your rig. Stabilizers are meant to secure a level RV in position and were not designed to take the brunt of the stabilizing process into account. Level your rig first, and then take to the task of stabilizing. To stabilize your RV after leveling:
  1. Make sure that your jacks can support the amount of weight you are attempting to stabilize.
  2. It can be helpful to place a piece of wood underneath each jack to ensure each jack has stable footing. This is especially helpful on sandy or rocky ground.
  3. Place or lower your jacks into position.
  4. Extend the jacks until they are in contact with the RV and the ground. If your jacks are manual, hand-crank them a few more times to make sure they are secure.

Using your stabilizer jacks properly and ensuring that they have solid footing and are securely positioned will keep you level during your stay and get a good night’s sleep (and enjoy incident-free cooking). The proper use of stabilizers will make your stationery time in your rig unwavering comfortable for as long as you choose to settle in one spot. When you’re ready to move on, simply reverse the steps, and go along your merry way.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

RV Roadside Oddities (New England Edition)

When you think of areas in the United States that have a large number of roadside oddities, New England might not be up there. Florida in the south, sure, or maybe out west with Nevada and New Mexico – but New England? There’s nothing strange there except for maybe Stephen King’s house, right? Wrong. In fact, aside from some pretty spectacular fall colors, New England is host to a number of fascinating roadside attractions, off-the-beaten-path stops, and general weirdness. If you’re looking for a unique road trip destination in your RV, then New England might have all the oddities you can handle – and then some. Ready to start planning a New England drive that you won’t forget? Put aside foliage season and big-city sightseeing, and take note of some of these roadside and small-town landmarks instead:


Paul Bunyan Statue – Bangor

Move over Portland (Oregon), If you’re familiar with Stephen King’s seminal novel It, you might remember a giant Paul Bunyan statue coming to life and attacking the protagonists. It’s easy to imagine that King got the idea from Bangor’s own oversized Paul Bunyan, a fiberglass-and-steel figure that stands 35 feet high and weighs 3,700 pounds. Fortunately, there’s no chance it’ll be moving on its own any time soon, not even during hurricane season – as says, Paul’s frame was created to withstand winds up to 110 miles per hour. Still, you might want to keep an eye on that over-sized ax.

The Desert of Maine – Freeport

Sand dunes in Freeport sound like a practical joke, but the Desert of Maine is actually a wonder of geology. Travel Squire explains the natural phenomenon: “A glacier slid through the area more than 11,000 years ago, leaving behind a trail of a fine, sand-like substance. This silt was beneath the ground all along, but didn’t rise to the surface until William Tuttle, the landowner, began farming it.” Which means that today, you’re able to roam a very realistic desert landscape in the middle of Maine, complete with metal camels – though you won’t need to worry about dehydration or mirages.


New England’s Biggest Chair – Gardner

If you thought Canada had the monopoly on oversized roadside objects, think again. In Gardner, Massachusetts, you can hop up on the biggest chair in New England – a 10-ft. wide, 9-ft. deep red chair that can seat a ton of tourists. sadly notes that it’s no longer the largest chair in the world – that honor passed to another giant chair in Alabama, which later got dethroned (pun intended) by a 65-ft. chair in Italy – but “Gardner’s is still impressive with its ladder-back slats and reinforced seat.” Visit what’s known as “The Chair City” and take a seat on its landmark – or, if you’re into the creepier side of things, check out Gardner’s famous haunted Victorian mansion and ponder purchasing one of America’s most haunted houses (it’s going cheap!).

Gravity Hill – Greenfield

On Shelburne Road in Greenfield, there’s a strange natural phenomenon known as Gravity Hill. If you drive to the bottom of Gravity Hill and put your vehicle in neutral, it will appear as though you’re rolling up the hill. However, it’s an optical illusion – as an article about Harvard’s gravity hill (yes, there’s another one in the same state) explains, “In fact, this topographical slight of hand is the outcome of the lay of the terrain, the position of trees, and a slight obstruction in the horizon.” So although Greenfield’s Gravity Hill might just be a trick of the eyes, it’s still worth a detour to experience for yourself. (Roadside America reminds us that Gravity Hill is on a public road, so be sure to use hazard flashers and watch out for other curious drivers!)

New Hampshire

Redstone Rocket – Warren

Although the word “rocket” might make you think of Cape Canaveral, the Redstone Rocket in Warren isn’t quite the same as NASA’s vehicle of choice. Instead, it’s a missile – the kind that NASA did, in fact, once use to propel its spaceships into the stratosphere. No one is entirely sure how or why the Redstone Rocket is in a small town in New Hampshire, but according to stories collected on Roadside America, the ballistic missile appeared in Warren in 1971, apparently at the behest of a citizen who succeeded in getting the government to donate it. It now sits upright in the town square as a truly strange attraction.

Rhode Island

The Big Blue Bug – Providence

RV road-trippers with a bug phobia might want to skip this stop in Providence – but for anyone else who wants to see the world’s largest insect statue, hit Interstate 95 and keep an eye out for Big Blue Bug Solutions. Hunkered down on the roof is their namesake, a massive, inexplicably blue termite with the adorably kitschy nickname of “Nibbles Woodaway”. Nibbles has kept watch by the interstate since 1980, and according to the pest control company’s official website, he’s even appeared in the background of numerous TV shows and films. Not too shabby for a giant pest.


Queen Connie – Salisbury

Imagine a giant metal gorilla. Now imagine that giant metal gorilla hoisting a VW Bug. This odd mental image comes true in Salisbury, where the much-beloved gorilla – nicknamed Queen Connie – has stood by Route 7 in Vermont since 1987. Travel Squire reports that Queen Connie was created by sculptor TJ Neil, and has become a well-publicized attraction over the years – including appearing in Car and Driver magazine and acting as the site for marriage ceremonies. As says, nobody really knows how the VW Bug manages to balance up there on Queen Connie’s over-sized hand, but she’s managed to heft her prize for 28 years now, so she must be doing something right.

Plan a Trip to See These Oddities

The next time you think New England is all picturesque forests and college towns, it’s worth remembering that there’s a lot weirder stuff going on in those states than you might think. To that point, it’s definitely worth taking your motorhome or RV off the beaten path and checking out some of the many roadside oddities that New England has to offer. Whether you’re into supernatural lore, quirky museums, or just garden-variety over-sized objects, you’re sure to have a road trip to remember in New England.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

RV Tips: Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner in Your RV

Slideshow on Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner in Your RV

Will you be camping in your RV this Thanksgiving? If so, we have a handy slideshow with tips and suggestions on how to get started cooking Thanksgiving in your motorhome or towable RV.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Luxury RV Resorts

The RV resorts of today are a far cry from their historical counterparts, with many offering top notch facilities and stellar amenities that can feel just as all-inclusive as a five-star resort. The fees at these resorts will vary, but whether you’re a full-time RVer or simply out on the road for a jaunt across the states, there are plenty of RV resorts to choose from that can have you settling your wheels down into the lap of luxury.

Emerald Desert RV Resort, Palm Desert, California

There’s more to the desert than tortoises and hot breezes, and the Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert is a testament to all that desert living can offer.

Emerald Desert RV resort holds within its boundaries multiple swimming pools, spas, a fitness center, and a tennis and pickleball court for those looking to get in a few good games under the sun throughout the day. For those looking to pull out their clubs and play a few rounds with friends, there are also two putting greens to choose from.

At the end of the day, inhabitants can relax by the fireplace in the on-site sports and entertainment lounge. If you’re hosting a get-together, you can take advantage of the conference hall or one of nine villas that can be rented out for such events.

Zion River Resort and RV Park, Utah

Nearby the beautiful wonders of Zion National Park and the north rim of the Grand Canyon sits an RV park worth its weight in gold. Utah is known for its mining, and in the Zion River Resort and RV Park, the fun of panning is built in with its own mining sluice where you can have fun sifting for gemstones.

This river resort also comes equipped with complimentary hot showers, an off-leash dog park for your furry friends, and a game room with a pool table, television, and microwave for relaxing after a long day out sightseeing.

This resort truly exemplifies an all-in-one facility, providing an on-site store, propane center, gift shop, business center, shuttle to and from the national park, take-out grill, and 24-hour laundry facilities.

Bluewater Key RV Resort, Florida

This resort is ideal for those water-loving patrons looking to soak in the tropical ambiance of the Florida Keys. Situated a mere ten miles away from Key West, the Bluewater Key RV Resort is a laid-back resort that features RV lots which are all privately owned. While the owners are away, these lots are available to rent out for a good, relaxing time in Jimmy Buffett’s backyard.

Every site is unique, but all offer the privacy of tropical plants and shrubberies. These tropical sites offer Tiki huts and picnic tables, and many waterfront sites offer the added luxury of their own decks and docks. At Bluewater Key RV Resort, the living easy.

Bella Terra RV Resort, Alabama

At the Bella Terra RV Resort, indulgence is the name of the game. Designed for those with a taste for decadence, this RV resort does not disappoint. With a laundry list of upscale amenities, the discerning RVer will want for nothing during their stay. Bella Terra offers much more than the average resort, including:

  • Fenced-in dog park
  • Zero-entry, heated infinity-edge pool
  • Jacuzzi and dry sauna
  • Outdoor fire pit and barbecue
  • Catch and release fishing lake
  • Private movie theater
  • Business center and laundry facilities
  • Fitness center
  • Putting green
  • Private bath houses

With ample accoutrements, guests may find it difficult to want to leave once they roll their RVs through the gates of Bella Terra.

LVM Resort, Nevada

Las Vegas is the epitome of lavishness, and what could be better suited to the nomadic Vegas lifestyle than an upscale RV resort. The LVM Resort is 41 acres and 400 sites worth of RV heaven. With a 10,000 square foot clubhouse, swimming pools and whirlpools, massage room, marble showers, exercise equipment, and lighted putting and tennis courses, this desert oasis is sure not to disappoint.

RV parks around the country are stepping up their game as many RV owners begin to desire more time on the road combined with the comforts of home and all the frills of the finest accommodations in the country. When it comes to living in a luxurious motorhome, what more could you ask for?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

RV Life: Workamping

What if you didn’t have to pack up at the end of your weekend camping, and instead could wake up every day to the sounds of the natural world, share a hearty breakfast with your new neighbors, and smell the richness of the great outdoors? Sound too good to be true? With a world ever-more connected to the internet and an increasing number of jobs ideal for those with a nomadic persuasion, working while you’re enjoying the camping or RV lifestyle has become a viable alternative to many people unimpressed with donning "business casual" clothes and commuting to a cubicle every day.

What is Workamping?

A contraction between ‘working’ and ‘camping’, workamping is any work done in exchange for income/goods while living in an RV. Contrary to popular belief, workamping is not reserved for retirees. Workampers come from all ages and backgrounds, and share a common love for either part-time or full-time RV living where they are free to pursue an adventuresome and unencumbered lifestyle, moving about the country at their leisure.

What are the Benefits of Workamping?

If you enjoy the RV lifestyle and dream of taking your life on the road, then workamping is a great way to fund a nomadic way of living. Workampers combine the benefits of road-tripping with the security of income, creating a unique lifestyle that requires some sacrifices, but delivers unbeatable benefits.

With high interest rates, increasing household debt, and a cost of living that many Americans are finding to be irreconcilable, workamping offers a reprieve from the modern pressures of daily life. Many full-time RVers are looking to stretch their retirement savings, while younger workampers are searching for an alternate lifestyle that is not so laden with oppressive debt.

Full-time RVers shed the overbearing requirements of homeownership, and offer themselves the ability to move about at their own discretion, taking advantage of the best of each season across the country and sightseeing along the way. New friends and new experiences await, and nature is never more than one step down from a trusty rig.

Photo by Virginia State Parks | Flickr

What Type of Work Is There for Workampers?

Workampers pick up all types of employment, from seasonal jobs to consistent, full-time positions with large corporations. Some of the more common positions are specially suited to the workamping lifestyle, such as campground and park hosts. Other potential employment includes:

  • Property caretakers
  • Maintenance workers
  • Construction workers
  • Park attendants
  • Theme/amusement park attendants
  • Security guards
  • Hospitality / Resort seasonal help
  • Farm workers
  • Groundskeepers
  • Ranch hands
  • Nature guides
  • Food service workers
  • Delivery drivers
  • House and animal sitters
  • Graphic designers
  • Writers
  • Consultants
  • Sales representatives
  • Customer support specialists

The opportunities are nearly endless. Compensation varies, but many positions such as an RV park hosting provide a free camp site along with a monthly stipend for performing assigned duties. Many workamping positions can be found through park employers, such as Adventureland Park, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Amazon Camperforce, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and any county and state parks departments. And don’t forget to think outside the box. Wherever you find yourself, check with local establishments that might need seasonal workers for food prep, farming and harvesting produce, or retail, to name just a few. Most employers are willing to train workampers, so don’t be shy in reaching out, regardless of whether or not you currently have the experience required.

Workamping is a unique lifestyle that is picking up in America. It provides full time RV campers with an alternate option that is low cost and offers a freedom that is much sought after, but hard to acquire with today’s financial pressures. Whether you simply want to extend your RV trip, or you have decided to transition to a fully nomadic lifestyle, workamping can help you maintain a method of living that is happy, healthy, and full of new adventures.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

RV Travel: Beginners Guide to Bird Watching

Traveling and camping in an RV provides an excellent opportunity to reconnect with nature and get a closer look at those little feathered friends that cheerfully peep in the world around you.

Ask any wildlife photographer, birding requires patience, careful attention, and a zest for learning new and interesting things. Birdwatching can be made into a fun recreational activity for the whole family, and can be a wonderful way to spend a calm afternoon.

Whether you plan to hike around, learn every name, and chase elusive species, or you are simply looking to identify the birds you happen to find on the spot, it can easily become a fast growing favorite pastime.

Start with the Right Equipment

Decide how much you’d like to spend on your burgeoning hobby. In order to spot your beaked buddies, you’ll need some basic tools such as binoculars, a field guide, a checklist, and if you are into photography (and on a budget), a point and shoot camera.


binoculars for beginning birders

As a beginner birder, you likely do not need to purchase the most high-end binoculars, but if you want superior images that are durable, lightweight, waterproof, and have lifetime warranties, then you should consider 7X power or 8X power binoculars that are priced around $250 to $300.

Keep a Diary and a Checklist

A checklist helps you understand which local birds you can expect to see. This way you know which species to keep an eye out for, and how to pinpoint them. Contact the local Audubon Society for a checklist of the common birds found in whichever area of the country your RV brings you to. Oftentimes you can find these checklists available when pulling into a state or national park. Ask the park ranger what resources they have on hand. Keeping a diary as well will help you remember what you have identified, and it’s also a fun way to see how far you’ve come in your explorations.

Get a Field Guide

There are a great multitude of field guides, but any one will do, as long as it covers your particular geographic area. The Petersen’s Field Guide to the Birds, the Stokes guides, the Kaufman guide, and the Audubon Guide to North American Birds are all great field guides to begin with. And keep in mind that technology has brought us quite a ways. With pictures, videos, and audio clips, you can match unfamiliar birds by simply typing identifying features into Google.

If you prefer the old-fashioned printed route, consider picking up a subscription to a birdwatching magazine such as Bird Watcher’s Digest or WildBird.

Know their Habitats

One of the keys to successful birdwatching is knowing where to look. Different birds prefer different habitats, and you’ll find a unique set of species in each habitat you visit along your travels. You may find one species that is entirely absent in a campground, yet ubiquitous in urban areas or in open fields. Once you know each bird’s habitat, you’ll spend less time searching and more time successfully spotting them. Habitat is not limited to location, but also extends to altitude. It’s no use searching for a species near the ground if they prefer to sit atop the highest branch.

As with any hobby, it’s also great to reach out and find like-minded people. Find other beginner birders through Audubon Societies or online forums. You can even join birding trips or meet up with other birders along the road. Talk with others when meeting them as you travel down the road in your motorhome or towable RV. Park rangers, fellow RVers, and societies in different areas of the country will likely be able to point you towards trips, gatherings, or fellow travelers that can share in your enthusiasm for your feathered friends.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Make Your RV Winter Storage Ready

The realization that RV season is over can be a sad one. With autumn well underway and winter nipping at its heels, it’s time to start thinking about packing up your RV for the season. In RV lingo, this process is known as “winterizing” and it’s the preparation every owner storing an RV in a harsh winter climate should take before the cold sets in.

For those intimidated by the prospect of winterizing their RV, we’ve compiled a few key recommendations you should add to your personal to-do lists in the coming weeks.

Plumbing Precautions

This is often the first thing RV owners have on their pre-winter checklists, and for good reason. Any water left stranded in your pipes, water heater, water tank, or holding tank could freeze and burst when temperatures plummet. This website has some useful tips on how to winterize your RV’s water system.

Engine Care

Caring for your engine is a no brainer. Make sure your radiator has anti-freeze and while you’re at it make sure the oil, brake fluid, and windshield wiper fluid levels are topped up. A fuel stabilizer that is run through your engine for a few minutes prior to winter will also be beneficial.

Keep out Critters

Make sure the animals preparing for winter hibernation aren’t doing so within your RV. Pesky critters have been known to crawl into the intake and exhaust vents of on-board appliances, setting up a cozy winter homestead. Ensure you seal the roof, outer walls, and underside of your rig to prevent unwanted guests from climbing into vents and air conditioning units.

Watch out for Tire Weight

Your tires will bear the brunt of your RV’s winter hibernation. Tires can develop flat spots under all that weight, which can be a pain when you’re starting up in the spring. Flat tire spots can be avoided by using your RV’s built-in leveling jack while your rig is parked on a paved or concrete surface. If your rig doesn’t have a leveling system, you can use third-party jacks or stacked blocks beneath the axle of each wheel. If neither is an option, be sure to move your RV a one-half tire revolution during the season to better distribute the weight.

Clean is Key

Just as it’s nice to return to a clean home after a vacation, it will be much more pleasant if you can open the doors on a tidy RV come the spring. That means you should make sure all food and drinks have been removed from your RV. Even items perceived as non-perishable can freeze and explode in cold enough climates, so you’re best to also remove those just in case. Once the food is out, give everything a good scrub down. Like all other dirt and grime, messiness gets tougher with time, and your spring self will appreciate your pre-winter cleaning efforts.

Hibernation Home

The place you store your RV over the winter is important. For those with smaller Class B and Class C motor homes, you may be lucky enough to squeeze the vehicle into your home garage. Another option is outdoor storage canopies so you can house your RV on your driveway or front yard (make sure the cover you buy is breathable in order to prevent mildew). There are a number of professional service lots or campgrounds that also offer storage facilities.

A Winter Ready RV

Even the best RV “winterizers” should check their rig regularly throughout the winter months. Catching a small problem when it develops is better than discovering a full-blown problem in the spring! The tips in this blog post are general guidelines, and your specific RV owner’s manual will include more detailed information for your model.

Remember you can always reach out to one of our La Mesa RV service centers in California, Arizona, Florida, and New Mexico to receive a superior level of customer and RV service. Our passionate staff will help you determine how to best care for your rig in the cold months ahead.

List of sources