RV Tow Vehicles: What Do You Need to Know?

1:30:00 PM La Mesa RV 2 Comments

An RV allows you to live on the road and take a bit of home with you in your travels. Towing a smaller car with your RV (in RV lingo, this is often called dinghy towing) allows you to have another vehicle available for side trips or errand runs without having to break camp. Bringing another car (again, in RV lingo, a car being towed is also known as a "toad") also gives you a vehicle that is easier to maneuver and has better gas mileage. Towing a car with your RV is an attractive option, but it requires some additional preparation to be effective.

dinghy towing behind a motorhome

Things to Keep in Mind Before Towing

Before you look into how to tow a car, there are several issues you need to consider. Your first need to know how much weight your RV can tow. Some cars will be lighter, and therefore easier to tow. Keep in mind that if you are going to tow a car, you may be towing the weight of a trailer in addition to the weight of a car, as not all cars can be towed directly on the pavement. It’s also a good idea to check with the manufacturer of the car you plan to tow as to how that vehicle can handle being towed. Your local and state authorities may also have rules regarding what you need in a trailer, such as turn and brake signals or reflectors.

After you have researched what you need to have to tow a car, it is also beneficial to consider how to drive with something behind your RV. If you have never towed anything, it’s a good idea to practice driving and backing up before taking a long trip. As you drive, maintaining a safe speed and using mirrors will keep you and other motorists safe.

In choosing options for dingy towing, the most common choices are flatbed trailers, tow bars, and tow dollies. Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before making a decision.

Flatbed Trailer

Flatbed trailers carry the car with all four wheels off the ground. With the car completely off the ground, you do not need to add mileage and wear to the towed car. Flatbed trailers also work for multiple kinds of cars, regardless of size or transmission style.

There are some disadvantages to flatbed trailers. The main disadvantage of flatbed trailers is they add even more weight to your RV. The additional weight can slow the RV and lessen gas mileage. The other disadvantage is that a trailer is another large item to maneuver and store.

Tow Bar

Tow bars attach the front of the car and pull the vehicle with all four wheels on the road. Tow bars can be relatively inexpensive and easy to pack. Tow bars also allow you to more easily connect the lights of the RV to the lights of the car, which helps with signaling braking and turning.

Even with the advantages, tow bars have a few disadvantages. Because all four wheels of the car are on the ground, using a tow bar adds mileage and wear to the vehicle. Not all cars can be towed with all four wheels on the ground. Know your limitations, you must check with your vehicles owner manual first!. The biggest disadvantage of using a tow bar is you will not be able to back up the RV, because the tow bar does not allow control over the front wheels of the towed car.

Tow Dolly

A tow dolly combines the stability of a trailer with the lightness of a tow bar. The tow dolly has a sort of mini trailer for the front two wheels of the car, leaving the back two wheels on the road. In a forward-wheel drive car, this setup avoids adding mileage.

The tow dolly comes with several disadvantages. Attaching the tow dolly can be a complicated process. Tow dollies can also be expensive and cumbersome to use. Like trailers, tow dollies may require licensing from your state authorities.

Conclusion

Bringing an additional vehicle on an RV trip expands the kind of activities you can do. Towing a car means that you can access more on your trips. Weighing your options of towing equipment is a good first step to enhancing your RV experience.

While you can mount and install towing equipment to your RV or "toad" vehicle yourself, if you do not have experience, please consider having all towing equipment professionally installed for safety and security reassurance.

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Is It Time to Upgrade Your RV?

2:11:00 PM La Mesa RV 0 Comments

To buy a new RV or buy a used RV
There are plenty of reasons you may be considering upgrading your RV. Perhaps you need more (or less) room, your old gas or diesel motorhome is running high on mileage, you want a different floor plan that better suits your lifestyle, or you simply want a change. If your motorhome isn’t running like it used to or you find yourself outgrowing your towable RV, it may be time to consider trading it in. If you’re on the fence as to whether it’s time to make the change, ask yourself a few basic questions:
  • Is your RV costing you an increasing amount of cash in repairs?
  • Do you need more room or additional amenities to support your desired RV experience?
  • Can you afford to make a change?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, trading up your RV may be the next logical step in your RV ownership experience. It can offer you the peace of mind and extra amenities necessary to keep you rolling smoothly along far into the foreseeable future. The next step is to determine whether purchasing a new or used RV is the best option for you. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and drawbacks of both options.

Why Buy a Used RV?

There are benefits to both buying used and buying a new RV. If you purchase a pre-owned RV, you can lean on the experience that other owners have had with that particular model. This includes common mechanical failures to be aware of, how it handles in inclement weather, what type of gas mileage to expect, and how well the value holds up over time.
When buying used, you won’t experience the rapid depreciation expected of a new RV, but at the same time you can’t expect to find all the latest and greatest bells and whistles. But the options that are available to you will undoubtedly be offered at a more humble price. Although new RVs come with the added benefit of warranties, older rigs will undoubtedly have online communities dedicated to do-it-yourself tips and tricks, questions and answers, and general user feedback. This can come in handy when the question you have isn’t covered in the user’s manual.
Class C motorhome RV

Why Buy a New RV?

A new RV may be pricier than a used model, but it comes with a good handful of notable advantages as well. Most new RVs will generally have the latest amenities that make the RV lifestyle that much better and easier for you to live with. There are other reasons for upgrading that you may not have thought of. For example, some campgrounds have rules on the age of your RV, or on specific types of units they will allow. With a newer model, you won’t have to concern yourself with restrictions on yesteryear models.
One of the most beneficial advantages to buying a new RV is, of course, the manufacturer and extended warranties available. These warranties can cover towing and road services, some travel expenses, nationwide protection, and toll free assistance. Nowadays you can even pick up transferable protection that helps preserve the value of your vehicle.
New RVs also mean less wear and tear, less maintenance, and less of a chance that you’ll unexpectedly break down on the road. In addition, you’ll know the history right off the bat. When buying a used motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel, or toy hauler, you have to go off of the previous owner’s records and testimony.
One of the biggest advantages to purchasing a new RV is the opportunity to select an ideal floor plan and the latest and greatest amenities and optional accessories. If you want additional options that go above the standard features offered or just a little bit of extra security knowing the history of your RV, a new rig may be the best option for you.
Upgrading your RV is big decision, but also one that comes with many benefits. Whether you choose to upgrade to a new RV or used model, there are plenty of great options out there to help you get the most out of your time adventuring out on the road. And, if you need help selling your current RV model, solution exist to make that sale as easy as possible.

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The American Midwest: Our Essential Roadside Stops

3:35:00 PM La Mesa RV 1 Comments

Here at La Mesa RV we love road trips. There’s nothing like hitting the open road — and getting to stop on a whim to gawk at the amazing sights you’ll pass. With an agenda that is yours for the making, taking your RV across America offers the ultimate freedom to see attractions you may otherwise miss. And if your dream has always been to take an RV road trip through the open fields and rolling plains of the American Midwest, there’s a lot to see.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 roadside stops from state to state, all of which range from the weird and whimsical to the larger-than-life.

Enchanted Highway – Gladstone, North Dakota

You don’t even need to get out of your RV for this one. The Enchanted Highway is a peculiar 32 mile stretch that boasts the world’s largest collection of scrap metal art. The highway links Gladstone and Regent, two small North Dakota towns. Artist Gary Greff started the project in 1989, and has since been adding to the eclectic collection which includes the “World’s Largest Tin Family,” 40-feet prairie pheasant sculptures, and an intimidatingly large metal grasshopper. Many of the sculptures include their own pull-in picnic spots in case you want to spend a little longer admiring your favorite attraction.

Corn Palace – Mitchell, South Dakota

Not to be outdone by its northern neighbor, roadside South Dakota has an equally quirky claim-to-fame. It’s called the Corn Palace, and yes, the entire Kremlin-style building is covered with bushels of corn, grains, and other farm fixings (don’t worry, there is a concrete structure beneath). The palace pays tribute to the state’s agricultural history, and the exterior corn murals are redesigned each year, meaning each RV road trip will reveal a different artistic harvest.

Jolly Green Giant – Blue Earth, Minnesota

File this one under the larger-than-life category. The 60-foot-tall Jolly Green Giant statue towers along the I-90 and Highway 169. The green giant pays testament to the role Blue Earth’s factories played in canning the Jolly Green Giant’s legumes throughout the 20th century.

The House on the Rock – Spring Green, Wisconsin

The House on the Rock may provide the sensation of visiting multiple places at once. A jumble of architectural rooms, you can stroll through the Victorian era “Streets of Yesterday” and continue to the futuristic “Infinity Room” where brave roadside warriors can walk along the room that juts more than 200 feet out from the edge of the rock. This latter attraction is visible a mile away off Highway 23, so you can’t miss it from the road.

Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska

A formation of old vehicles arranged along the edge of the Nebraska sandhills casts some odd shadows along the side of Highway 87. Carhenge is this Midwestern state’s answer to England’s stonehenge — only it’s built entirely of 39 grey spray-painted cars. Spoiler alert: no RV’s were included in the creation of Carhenge.

Dorothy’s House & Land of Oz – Liberal, Kansas

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz are most certainly Kansas’ most famous exports. Visit the original farm house that inspired by L. Frank Baum’s classic tale and continue into an animated Land of Oz building where you can take your very own journey to see the wizard himself.

Backyard Roller Coasters – Bruceville, Indiana

Bruceville resident John Ivers has turned his backyard into a do-it-yourself adrenalin junkie’s dreamland. A little off US Highway 150, this attraction is worth the detour so you can experience the two homemade roller coasters Ivers has built using car parts and farm equipment. Visitors are welcomed on the weekends and are encouraged to make appointments first — the attraction is in Ivers’ backyard, after all.

World’s Largest Catsup Bottle – Collinsville, Illinois

If you visited the Jolly Green Giant in Minnesota, you’re already primed for your next giant food attraction. Take a ride down Illinois Route 159 (just off the historic Route 66) where you can stare up at the world’s largest catsup bottle. The attraction clocks in at 170 feet in height and originally served as a water tower for the local catsup bottling plant.

The Heidelberg Project – Detroit, Michigan

The Heidelberg Project has transformed a down-and-out street in Detroit into an incredible outdoor art community. While driving (or walking) along Heidelberg Street, make sure to take lots of snaps at the brilliantly colorful polka-dotted Dotty-Wotty House, the House of Soul covered in old vinyl records, and the Number House which promises to make mathematics look like a blast.

Big Muskie’s Bucket – McConnelsville, Ohio

Just off State Route 78 you’ll be blown away by the size of the bucket that once scraped away at the valley it now overlooks. The giant bucket now pays tribute to the men and women who helped mine coal and eventually reclaim the Ohio valley. Compare your RV to the size of Big Muskie — a historical photo at the local interpretive center shows a high school band playing within the bucket!

Bonus: U.S. Route 66

Known as the Main Street of America, historic Route 66 is arguably the country’s most famous stretch of road. Starting in Chicago, Route 66 runs through a handful of American Midwest states, all of which have erected roadside attractions and created kitschy town sites to welcome tourists along the ultimate American road trip route.

So there you have it – a highlight of just 10 of the many sights you can see while driving through the American Midwest. We’d love to hear where you’ve visited on your RV road trips – leave us a comment with your top tips.

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8 Must-Have Portable Cooking Gadgets For Your RV

12:30:00 PM La Mesa RV 0 Comments


Whether you’re hitting the road on a summer excursion with your family, heading home for the holidays or embarking on a weekend adventure, owning a RV and living the "RV lifestyle" truly does open the door to new sights and discoveries. Most of the time, jumping in the RV is a way for people to experience life and escape the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. When you’re not on the road, time in the RV is typically spent relaxing and socializing with friends and family. One of the best ways to enjoy your downtime is over an amazing home-cooked meal. No matter where you take your motorhome or towable RV to, there really is nothing better than having the comforts of home travel along with you.
Check out our list of top 8 portable cooking gadgets for your RV:

1. RV Kitchen Tool Set

This tool set for your RV's galley comes with everything you need to make any meal. With seven pieces in total, you get a chef knife, ladle, poultry scissors, spatula, can and bottle opener, grilling fork, cutting board and a handy carrying case for easy stowing in your RV.

2. Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

Nothing says good morning better than sitting outside with a hot cup of coffee while you enjoy your surroundings. Similar to a French press where the process involves total immersion and slight pressure, this Aeropress coffee and espresso maker uses a combination of water and air to brew full flavored, grit free, coffee within seconds. As an added plus, this Aeropress is micro-filtered and its chamber is self-cleaning! Typically this brew has a low acidity taste without bitterness.

3. Pressure Cooker

Look no further; a pressure cooker could be the only cooking appliance you will need…ever. Pressure cookers allow for convenient browning that pre-browns meats within the same pot prior to pressure cooking, and some even have a 24-hour delay timer that allows you to program cooking. This gadget is perfect for seamless cooking in your RV and caters to all dishes such as rice, soup, vegetables, meat and fish, and even desserts!

4. Margaritaville Cordless Frozen Concoction Maker

Never again do you need to let a cord stand in the way between your RV, you and your favorite blended drinks! This battery operated Margaritaville Cordless Frozen Concoction Maker is very powerful and when fully charged can blend up to 60 drinks (or 20 pitchers)! It comes pre-programmed with settings to automatically shave ice and blend all your favorite frozen drinks to perfection. It has an 18-volt Ni-Cd rechargeable battery pack and a 36-ounce shatterproof blending jar that's ideal for camping, tailgating, boating, or relaxing under the awning of your RV!

5. Portable Meat Roaster and Smoker

If you plan on fishing or hunting during your travels, do not leave home without this portable meat roaster and smoker. The Char-Broil Big Easy can hold up to a 25 lb turkey for roasting and has 180 square inches of cooking area for grilling. For added flavor, you can use the smoker box area. It is your all-in-one roasting, grilling, and smoking grill!

6. Auto Measure Spice Carousel

Before you start smoking, roasting, and grilling your meals, you might want to spice them up for added flavor. This 12-spice dispenser carousel includes a convenient circle motion to save counter and drawer space in your RV, and has built-in auto measure dials for measuring each ingredient.

7. Portable Ice Maker

Got ice? The last thing you want to do once you park your RV is to drive into town or ask the camp host where you can buy more ice. With this portable ice maker, you can produce up to 26 lbs. of ice daily in as little as 6 minutes! With two sizes of ice to choose from, you will never have to worry about sipping a cold one again.

8. Front of Sink Cutting Board

As many know, when traveling in an RV you don’t have a ton of extra counter space in your kitchen galley. Helpful cooking gadgets, such as this front of sink cutting board, are perfect for preparing fruits, vegetables, and seasoning meats. The overhang feature allows for easy sweeping of food from the front and back of the cutting board. When not in use, the board can easily be stored on its side or laid flat. A bonus benefit is the boards incline feature that allows excess liquid to drain into the sink, which reduces your kitchen mess.
Next time you pull out your road map, pack up your RV and set out on your next roadtripping adventure, make sure you have all the RV cooking supplies you need to make your trip as fun, convenient and as stress free as possible.

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Designing the Perfect Road Trip

11:09:00 AM La Mesa RV 0 Comments

Can science design the perfect road trip across the US?

Americans love the open road, especially RVers! Each year, millions of Americans across the country hit the road for both local and far-flung road trips. However, as anyone who's been road tripping in an RV can note, some road trips are better than others!

This infographic helps answer the question, "Is there a way to create an efficient road trip?"

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RV Tip: How to Increase Motorhome Fuel-Efficiency

3:51:00 PM La Mesa RV 1 Comments

RVs are perfect for traveling on the road in total comfort, but because of their size, RVs tend to have low fuel efficiency. From La Mesa RV, here is a slideshow that provides a few tips on how to increase your RV fuel-efficiency.

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5 Ways to Prepare for RV Emergencies on the Road

10:47:00 AM La Mesa RV 18 Comments

A lot can happen when you hit the open road, and there are many online tales of RV owners encountering tornadoes and high waters. Extreme weather and natural disasters are uninvited, but you don’t need to be unprepared. There are plenty of precautionary measures you can take to ensure you, your family, and your RV are prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store.

Create an Emergency Supply Kit

Just as your home wouldn’t do without emergency disaster supplies, neither should your home on the road. Everyone’s emergency supply kit will look slightly different, but here are the essentials you should include:

  • Basic toolkit
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Extra clothing: warm clothes, hats that cover your ears, sturdy boots, and jackets
  • First Aid Kit: include extra prescription medication, water purifying tablets, bandages, and other key supplies
  • Flares or an emergency signal
  • Flashlights: independent from your smartphone flashlight, with extra batteries
  • Food: non-perishable canned items and protein-rich foods. Outdoor stores also sell freeze-dried food–light and small packets that will become energy-sustaining meals when you add boiling water
  • Manual can opener
  • Physical maps of the area: ensure you have an alternative to cell phone and GPS data
  • Playing cards or a board game: not essential, but a good distraction for children during longer periods of being stranded in your RV
  • Shovel and ice scraper
  • Water: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a gallon of water per person and pet for at least three days

The best case scenario is that you will never have to use your emergency supply kit —but just in case, regularly maintain your emergency supply kit and rethink its supplies as your family’s needs change. It is also beneficial to sort these emergency supplies into a smaller go-bag: a lighter pack you can carry with you should the need arise to evacuate your RV.

Watch the Weather Report

In many ways it is easier to avoid natural disasters and extreme weather conditions when you’re living in a mobile vehicle. Still, storms brew quickly and you never know when you may be caught off guard.

While the weather report may be easy to access on the average day through phone data or another source of Internet, you can’t always count on connectivity during extreme situations.

Researching and purchasing a crank radio may make all the difference when you’re looking for the most up-to-date information on an emergency. In addition to the manual hand-cranking, look for radios that can access power through a number of sources, such as solar panels, disposable batteries, and car chargers.

Once you’ve found a radio, turn the dials to the National Weather Network’s “Weather Radio All Hazards” network in order to get the latest warnings and watches 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Be Prepared for All Kinds of Weather

Listening in to discover the kind of weather headed your way is just the start.

Snow Storms

Snow and ice storms are not outside the realm of possibility in many parts of America. Pull over to the side of the road if your RV is suddenly engulfed in white-out conditions. Turn on your emergency flashers and tie a piece of emergency tape or a bright-colored scarf to a front and back point of your vehicle. This will make you more visible to other drivers. Then bunker down — crack open your emergency supply kit if you’re stuck for any length of time, and bundle up to avoid hypothermia. If conditions have gotten really icy, a bag of sand or even cat litter can work wonders for providing the tire traction needed to hit the road again.

Flash Floods

Watch the rain reports and be observant of weather conditions in your immediate area. Flash floods can happen very quickly and can call for quick evacuations. Constantly survey weather conditions if you’re in your RV when a flash flood warning begins. Head the other way if you come across a flooded road — it takes a surprisingly shallow amount of water to sweep a RV off the road.

Not sure if you might be camped in a dangerous area? Look at the surrounding landscape and ask yourself, where is the low spot and where would the water go if a flood were to appear out of nowhere? Then make sure your rig is a fair distance away from that location! No matter how beautiful the area, or how temping it might be, help prevent a dangerous situation by never camping in a dry wash or riverbed! Even if the rain that might trigger a flood is miles away, it can take minutes or hours for a whole river channel to fill with water. If it is raining or rain is in the forecast, don't blow caution to the the wind, pack up and move your rig to higher ground if you are camped in a low area. Take your emergency kit and head to higher ground if you get stranded without the opportunity to move your vehicle.

Lightning

Lightning strikes were responsible for starting more than 30,000 wildfires between 2007-2011. If the National Weather Service is predicting a lightning storm, be safe and bring down your antenna and satellite dish, bring in your awning (especially if it contains metal components) and make sure all chairs and exterior furniture are brought inside. In a severe storm, as a precaution, it's a good idea to disconnect from shore power and store the lines, retract all RV and trailer jacks, turn your generator off, power down your computer and make sure anything vulnerable is unplugged.

Snowmads has compiled a good list of severe weather tips all RV owners should keep in mind.

Know Your Rig

It seems like a no-brainer, but it is imperative that you know your RV well enough to perform basic tasks quickly. As previously mentioned, a disaster will work on its own schedule, not yours. This means you must be prepared to pack up your RV in any weather condition at any time of day. Make sure you can hook your rig up to your truck in the middle of the night, using only a flashlight or cell phone light.

Have the Drill Down Pat

Emergency preparedness is a family affair. Talk through disaster scenarios with your family before they happen, and explain where they can find the emergency supply kit, fire extinguisher, and other essentials. You can also assign tasks to each member of your family–for example one child could be responsible for rounding up a pet you may have on board and another could be given the job of securing all windows and doors. Your family will feel more invested in emergency preparedness measures if they’re briefed ahead of time. Every member of your family should also carry an emergency contact list in their wallet or pocket should something separate you.

Conclusion

Remember that you’re already in a good situation being in an RV — after Hurricane Katrina more than a hundred thousand people in Louisiana turned to personal, newly bought, or government-loaned rigs for temporary shelter. While La Mesa RV hopes you will never be put in an emergency situation, we hope you can sleep a little easier with these suggestions in mind.

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