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  1. Boy, I tell ya, this camping stuff ain't for sissies! We've been at our campsite in Thompson Creek, Washington, where we have been Gate Attendants, since May 19.

    This is our first time full-timing and mostly it's been okay ... if you consider that literally half the time we've been here it's rained! Man! We left the high desert of northern Nevada and will be boondocking in the mountains in Washington for the next five months and this rain is something else! I guess folks around here are used to it raining for three or four days and nights straight, but I'm not! LOL! It's beautiful and green here, though.

    We had a deer grazing right across the creek the other morning, not 30 feet from the RV. I tried to take a picture of it through the window but just got a reflection of the flash LOL! When the weather's nicer, maybe I'll sit outside and wait for it. I DID get a pic of bear poop, though! LOL! LOL! We went exploring up to the top of the mountain on our day off and found it. It was pretty fresh looking (and hairy) probably from the last camper it ate, ha ha! The ride was nice until I realized that what goes up must come down .. eeek! I'm definitely a "flatlander"! LOL!

    Hubby saw either an elk or small moose by the gate about 5 a.m. the other morning. He didn't have his glasses on and about the time he reached for his binoculars, I flopped over in bed, causing the windchimes to ring and scared it off (sad face).

    We also have a little squirrel that comes bopping down the dirt road in front of us every day about 10 a.m. I don't know where it's going, but it doesn't pay attention to us at all, just goes on it's merry way.

    The local folk keep telling us that we'll have moose walking right into our camp. Apparently, moose are pretty thick around here. We've also had some folks tell us that when hunting season starts, they'll be giving us some meat. You can bet I'm excited about that! I LOVE deer and elk. I'm thinking I'll probably like moose, too!

    We had a few issues when first we got here. For starters there was a propane leak. Hubby kept arguing with me that nothing could be leaking, but I didn't give up until I found it and got it taken care of four days later (thank You, Jesus)! Turns out it was in the hose that connects the 100-gallon tank to our RV. (Hmmph! I KNEW I was right!!)

    We also had an issue with the generator. We'd bought a brand-new gen as a backup, just in case, and sure enough, we got up here and the onboard gennie wouldn't power the coach for some reason. It worked fine before we came up here. Hubby flipped switches and breakers and messed with wires ... couldn't find ANYthing wrong. It would start fine, but just wouldn't power the coach or charge the batteries. Finally Tim opened up the new generator, put gas and oil in it and fired it up. Plugged the coach in and had the same problem; not getting any power! So he unplugged the coach and plugged in a power drill. The gennie would barely run it ... ugh! Something was wrong with the brand-new backup!! (are you kidding me???!!!).

    Tim was at his wits end, had no idea what to do because he had no idea what the problem was. So, being Christians, we decided to pray about it. We know that with God all things are possible ... and I want you to know that the onboard generator worked just like it should the next time Tim tried it!! We were preparing to return the new gennie to the store and hubby decided to try it one more time. Well, guess what? Yep! It works fine too! God is good!

    Come to find out, Tim had promised God that if he would give us a generator miracle, he would not hook up the TV. It would appear that the Lord didn't want us sitting in front of the TV watching movies while we are here. Instead, we spend most of our time reading the bible and other Christian books, studying, and learning to play guitar. I've learned about five songs that we can play in church when we get back to civilization at the end of October.

    The Lord knew that He had to take us away from all the distractions of work, television, computers, etc. and bring us to a place of peace and quiet where we can spend time with Him and learn. I don't know what His plans are for us, but I know He has something!

  2. RVing Accessibility Group, Inc. is a non-profit organization enhancing the awareness of the needs for disabled RVers, especially those who are physically challenged and need to know where they can stay and have a meaningful and enjoyable experience.

    One potential national sponsor has asked us how many people with RVs are disabled. I know that 54 million Americans have at least one disability, but I have yet to find out how many of that 20% of the U.S. population own RVs. I know that 8.9% of U.S. households own an RV.

    As an 8-year member of FMCA, and being permanently disabled, this is my mission and my passion. I am also trying to find out how many total chapters there are within FMCA, because each chapter probably has at least 1 member with a disability.

    We are trying to acquire sponsors and donations to help us with the mission of providing resource information to travelers with disabilities whose mode of travel is via RV. RVIA has been some help, but we need more input from the RVing population.

    Please feel free to post any comments regarding this topic that you feel would be helpful in our endeavor.

    Thank you,

    Mark Douglass

    President and CEO

    RVing Accessibility Group

    www.rvingaccessibility.org

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    Over the years, I have done a lot of camping with my family, kids, dog and friends. With the kids, we have enjoyed a lot of under the tent camping, all seasons, including winter camping in the snow.

    As the years have gone by, we also tried, Rental RVing, in class A, in a class C, with a folding camper, but at years pass by, definitely nothing is more comfortable than a motor-home, I consider it at high end camping, even if it comes with some interesting experiences. In 2010, I finally decided to take it a step further, as I was looking for a five weeks rental for business purposes, I looked at the cost and when I realized that between the rental and the millage billing it would cost me approximately $10,000 leaving nothing after except probably a similar bill the following year for my round trip of out of town customers and shows, I started looking at second hand motor-homes. The first one I made an offer on was a 30 footer on a Ford base, fitted my budget, and I figured that with some minor work, it would to the job. Unfortunately, the dealers financial officer apparently forgot to transmit my financing request, and after a while, I learned that they had sold it to someone else and that their financial officer being gone, they had no answer for me.

    They offered me another unit, a Condor 29 that I eventually purchased under the condition that I would be able to have it inspected as soon as it had past the local authorities inspection to go on the road (it was a unit imported from the States to Canada). Things being what they are, by the time I was due to leave, the unit wasn't ready, and they had to lend me another one for the first week of my trip, and I was supposed to pick up my unit on the way back from West to East without having the time for a professional inspection. We were able to do so a week later and had a crash course on the various parts of the RV, at night, done by people that as we later discovered barely new this unit better than we did. The agreement was that in lieu of an inspection, if we had problems during our trip (approximately 6,000 miles planed), we would list them as we went and they would solve the issues after we were back in town. Trust me we discovered quite a few issues, to be precise, about two full pages typed, with small spaces and font size 11.

    As we were back, we then brought them the unit to have these problems fixed. What a mistake! It took them another month and a half if not two month to "fix" the problems, and once again, we got the vehicule back at the last minute, just as they were closing for winter, and about two week before we had planned to leave for a private trip this time. So once again, they convinced us that everything was in order, told me that despite my intimate conviction that the wheels needed an alignment, on this type of vehicule it wasn't usually done...

    So we left two week later for a trip that was actually very interesting and during which despite some technical difficulties, we really had fun. The objective was to meet some friends/clients in Atlanta where they have now lived for the past 7 or 8 years. As my first trip starting on the snow out of Montreal at night, and under the snow until Atlanta with an RV which after a few hundred miles revealed windshield wipers strange behavior, and a fairly bumpy ride on highway (as I had noticed already and mentioned to the dealer), I learned a lot about handling a more than 7 tonnes box on wheels that catches the wind very easily. We did the trip in two and a half days, with a couple of stops, once in a Walmart for the night and once at a 7/11 that accepted us on their parking for the night. In both cases, great places to stop as we were able to complete our daily shopping needs in both cases before we left the next morning.

    We spent the next two and half days in Atlanta where we had arrived at our friends to directly go to a Christmas neighbors party where every body had someone they new with RVing experience. Before we left, we went for a visit to the new Coca Cola Museum downtown Atlanta, and after a bit a challenge to park our house on wheel in the area, we had a great tour (even if I liked it less than the old museum).

    Next day, next stop at a friends winter residence in Florida, for a Christmas Turkey on the 27th of December (he had kindly been waiting for us with his fabulous turkey supper). After a fantastic evening, as we could not stay for the night in the park where our friend has his house, we went on for a stop at a nearby Wallmart and discovered on of the most gigantic Wallmart we had ever seen, open 24 hours a day (unknown to us in Canada). Again, this allowed some shopping the next morning in order to return to our friends place to offer him our morning brunch. I also had the opportunity to appreciate the kindness of the Wallmart staff as around 5h30 in the morning I discovered that the battery on my watch had died, went inside and they very kindly, replaced it; the first clerk that attended me could not do it but she made sure to find someone that helped me on the spot.

    As we were leaving that same day, I wanted to get an oil change done as we were due, after trying a few places, that couldn't take vehicles as big as ours, we finally ended up at an RV dealer. And this is where we started discovering interesting things...

    As they where doing the oil change and checking a few other items including tire pressure, and other items, they discovered that most of the bolts holding up the from part of the vehicule were either missing or broken and as they were asking me how far we had been coming from they were surprised that we didn't end up off the road. They didn't have the exact right parts but kindly repaired with available parts they had and recommended that we check with a dealer upon our return home.

    Our next stop was to take some gas at Kenwood CITGO in St-Petersburg where apparently the gas seemed to be cheaper than other places around, as it was already late in the day, and as the day had already been a long day, I didn't realize that it was written in small characters that the mentioned price was only for cash purchases or CITGO credit cards. As I am not a US resident, and therefor I don't have a valid postal code in the US, I went inside got a $150.00 pre-approved purchase for gas and went to fill up; I was in for a big surprise... Paying with a visa card made it considerably higher to fill up there than any other place I had seen on the road, and definitely more expensive than at the Shell across the street. I therefore went back inside and asked for a refund. It's only once back home that I realized that the amount had been taken off my account, never refunded, and as I looked at the receipt, I realized that the cashier had made it like a cash refund and never given me the money. I called the gas station manager right away and got hung up on. I contacted CITGO, and after many month of back and forth emails withe their customer service manager, was finally offered a small coupon to still be received (the original problem goes back to more than a year ago) and recommendation to ask my credit card company to cancel the transaction (indirect answer from the station manager) when it is not possible more than 90 days after the fact.

    Conclusion: I don't fill up at any CITGO anymore, I recommend to any one not to fill up at CITGO or to be very careful when they do so, and now, when I ask for a refund, I definitely check twice what's on the refund coupon before I move from the cashier, even if this means a delay for the line up behind me.

    So we went on with our trip to the keys. A bit shortened as by now we where already more than 3 days late on our trip. We unfortunately couldn't stop in the Everglades and will have to return for a special trip for this. We were able to go to Key-west, but unfortunately because my son had to go back to school and myself to work, we were not able to stay more than a few hours. But, this is beautiful, the Carabians attached to the continent. Another place that deserve a special trip.

    Then on the way back to the north and the snow. As we were on our way, enjoying the east coast of Florida, going to Savanna (we made a special stop to be able to spend part of the next day in the beautiful city) we slowly made our way back to the cold. One morning, in North Carolina, as I was doing my routine visual inspection before leaving Flying J, I noticed some metal on my front wheels. Oups! It didn't seem quite normal. As I am an RV member of the CAA/AAA, I called them and got the worst one of the two tires changed for the spare and directions to the nearest garage open that could put two new tires in the front. After all, I wasn't apparently so stupid thinking that something was wrong with the alignment of the vehicule. As this garage didn't do alignment, they kindly referred me and booked for me an appointment with a place downtown specializing in suspension and alignment. I was on for another surprise...

    We were welcome by a pretty nice guy that seemed to know what he was doing. They aligned the front wheels and the back wheels, obviously taking us between two regular clients, offered us coffee, while we were waiting in their garage as they had no waiting room, and afterwords gave us a good explanation of the problems. First of all, yes our vehicule should have an alignment from time to time, and apparently it hadn't been done for ages, also, he made me realize that we were supposed to have an air suspension in the front for a smoother ride, but the air bags were completely dried out and deflated therefore causing some if not most of the problems we had had with the front of the truck. He unfortunately could not get the bags in less that a week (we were fresh in the new year), but he recommended that I get if fixed back in Montreal, of if it wasn't possible that on my next trip down I call him a week ahead of time for him to order them and intall them the same day we pass by. He also mentioned that I was getting the same type of air bags installed on the back of the RV, the comfort would be greatly improved. Trust me, now that the front air bags have been changed in Montreal, I will make sure that on my next trip next to this place I'll ask him to install air bags in the back of the vehicule. Every word of what he has told me has proven to be true.

    Last but not least, as this RV seems to like a lot of TLC, our next adventure happened in the neighborhood of Baltimore. Locked inside, by the only door, on with the only lock on the vehicule....

    AAA was once again able to help us after understanding that we were in no danger, parked properly at a shopping center where we had intended to purchase the necessary minimum to enjoy a nice supper aboard our vehicule. Good to have monkeys as kids, my son was able to get out through the window, get us some food, and by the time the locksmith came in, laughing because this was his first case of attending anyone locked into an RV, we were having supper, and were able to offer him a fresh coffee.

    Luckily enough, at least for that trip, this was the end of our surprises.

    What I learned so far from this experience, and this is why I finally decided to write about it:

    • Never buy a second hand RV without getting it professionally inspected, even if this means changing completely your agenda;
    • When you buy a second hand RV from a dealer, try to find out if you can get reference on them, good or bad, at least you'll have a better idea of what you're dealing with;
    • Never trust a dealership to be honest in anything, and if they pretend to have done extensive work on a vehicule that they have sold to you, get it checked again afterwords;
    • Make sure that your AAA/CAA RV'ers membership is always up to date (they have always been fantastic in helping out an full of resources);
    • When you think something is abnormal with a vehicle that you have purchased recently, trust your guts, you're probably right;
    • When you're supposed to get a refund anywhere, don't trust the cashier or even the store to be honest, make sure every word is correct on the reimbursement form, and as soon as you can, if you are dealing with a credit card reimbursement, call you bank to cancel the original transaction yourself (at least it will be a warning);
    • There are some great people out there willing to help when you need it, particularly in placed like Wallmart, 7/11, MacDonald and many other places that if you ask will gladly let you park on their property, or go the extra mile to help you;
    • RVing is a great way to travel and in the end, (even if sometimes you have some technical problems, probably due in our case to the fact that we didn't take the proper steps in purchasing a second hand unit);
    • I'm still convinced that if we had done the same trips as we have done so far (and we have done more that I will relate at a later date in continuation of this one), we would not have seen as much, the cost would have been at least the same if not more as we would still have had to pay for the gas and use of a vehicule, for hotel or motel rooms as in many places, the tent would not have been fast enough, use many more restaurants for meals... And for the comfort, is is so great to just stop when your tired and relax as if you were at home which in fact you are...

    I recon that this is a long text, and probably, quite a few of you have lived similar experiences, but some might not, as much as I am eager to learn from others' experiences, I believe that this might help someone some day.

    (I will write more at a later date as even if we have had less problems and great experiences after this second trip with our Condor, I would like to share some of these)

  3. The attached map shows our track and stops so far.

    We are at Lake Whitney State Park to spend Thanksgiving with a cousin. The campground is top notch for a state park and filled up rapidly yesterday. It will be interesting to see the cooking that occurs today. There are bound to be a lot of deep fried turkeys. There is a burn ban so there will be no open fires, propane only.

    The deer population is abundant and just stand and watch Kirby and me walk by. Kirby would love to get off the leash and chase them but he would probably run forever and we would never see him again.

  4. I joined the FMCA this summer and truly enjoyed reading the blogs, so thought I'd share another newcomers adventures! I'm sure that the veterans will laugh and hopefully say "been there done that"!

    After much tire kicking over a few years I purchased my first motor home, a 2005 Tiffin Phaeton, this past summer. The dealer agreed to replace a foggy drivers side window. A surprise to both of us, it took 8 weeks to get this accomplished. I finally took possession of the Tiffin in August, only to find the batteries were not functioning, but an easy fix. Next I put some water in the tank and started the pump, only to have the faucets leak everywhere. Appears the previous owner didn't winterize her correctly. The dealer agreed to fix everything so I decided to take our first trip up to Maine to visit family, waterless, so that I could get a feel for things and find any other issues. On the whole it was a nice trip, relatively event free regarding the motor home. We did get to see a moose in front of my sisters place and a bear near my brothers.Neither my sister or brother had seen the wildlife in there yards before!

    Upon return the dealer picked up the home and had everything repaired. I thought getting an extended warrantee was in order so I did a search and followed the FMCA blogs to make a decision on the best company and coverage. I also took out a road service agreement. I of course hope I need neither, but if its needed I hope I made the right My truck mechanic went through the chassis and got everything up to date, so I made a reservation for the Catskill Mountains for Halloween weekend and billed it the official shakedown cruise. I loaded up, hitched up the tow dolly and car and off we went. We arrived at the camping area and were directed to a nice pull through site and proceeded to get situated. For some reason I could not get the slides to open. I tried everything I knew, called my brother who is pretty knowledgeable about such things, and even had the park manager try but we were unsuccessful. My brother looked online for inherent problems with Tiffin slides but still no extension. As we know, everything is still functional inside so I was not going to let the slides ruin my weekend! We also had an issue when extending the leveling 'pods'. There was an apparent air leak seemingly from the air bag, rear drivers side, when the home was up on the levelers. I never noticed this before so was concerned. Next the way the utilities were setup on the site, we could either have water and no sewer or the other way around as we didn't have long enough hoses to do both. we decided on water naturally. The first night went well except for climbing over each other all the time. Functional the home may be without the slides, but life is better with the walls out! The next morning we were made aware of a storm coming. Who would have thought we would get a Nor'easter in October! I decided staying put was our best option so we went to Walmart to get a few necessities and came back to reorganize. I moved the motor home to take advantage of all the utilities with the extra hoses from Walmart. We got all hooked up and were content. I decided to retry the slides and out they went! WHAT! With the snow starting to fall I didn't want to leave them out so back in they came and we hunkered down! The park had been busy most of the day as campers winterized their sites, but now we were alone! We watched videos, read and used the combo micro/bake oven, a new thing for me, to fix dinner. I made an apple pie as an oven test item and was very successful. Then I turned to grab something from the fridge and noticed "no AC" flashing on the panel. We had lost power from the land line due to the storm. No problem, I turned on the generator and felt comfortable... until I noticed the electrical/inverter panel is not showing the batteries charging. Another reason to panic. Out in the boonies, and maybe no power.... Not much I can do so we retire for the evening and hope all will be well tomorrow. I'm up around my usual 4am. and turn on the faucet for coffee water.... no water, it has frozen at the tap, and I emptied the storage tank earlier afraid that would freeze! I scoop snow to make the coffee and get out the numerous manuals to try and figure out what is going on with the power panel... a lot of information but no solutions. As it gets light out the scene is beautiful, but we have at least 8 inches of snow, and I have sneakers and sandals! I find a couple of store plastic bags, tie them over my sneakers and venture out to look over the situation. I get all our "tethers" picked up and stored and we decide to head home. The 'air leak I was concerned about is not now affecting the coach air brakes. Another fluke???I'm ready, but unfortunately, I could not find a sole around to plow a path! Trudging thru the snow in my plastic bags wasn't fun, and it was then I realized we were in the most remote sites in the park. On the third walk out, I see a plow truck plowing the pool area (go figure!) so head back to get ready to go. An hour later we are still waiting. Patience depleted, I decide to see if Tiffin can plow through the snow, assuming any movement towards the park exit was good,we take off. No problem, she cuts right through like it was bear ground. Relieved, as I drive truck and would have never tried this in my box truck, we get to the plowed area, by the pool!!!! and regroup for the trip home. As we know now, the north east was devastated by the early nor'easter and we saw much of it going thru Connecticut and Massachusetts. As I write this 5 days later many of my neighbors are still powerless!

    So that was the shake down outing! I was very happy to be home! I am still confused as too why the slides didn't work, what the apparent air leak was about and why the electric panel didn't seem to register a charge from the generator. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be thrilled to get your thoughts. My mechanic will check the air and, as he is a motor homer, look the other things over too.

    My next trip will be Florida in December/January. My brother tells me every trip will be an adventure. UGH! I need to know more than I do now about the motor home as I'm not fond of the stress. I have had 3 knowledgeable individuals take me through the motor home and its many functions, but I still find things that were not explained or not explained to cover specific events!

    Hopefully I'll have more to follow and thank you in advance for sharing any of your expertise regarding this post. Every motor homer I talked to said collectively we are a friendly lot, and my newbie experiences would back that up... see you along the way!

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    Greetings from NJ as I plan my first extended RV trip, scheduled for departure in Nov of 2011....I am new to this "blog", but not new to RV travel. I intend to travel from NJ, to Florida with a 6 week stay on the west coast, after seeing the NASCAR championships in Homestead. I will be traveling with my 2 Labrador Retrievers, so would love info on finding dog friendly RV parks. My goal is to travel the Gulf Coast, into Texas and on to Phoenix for a NASCAR Race in March, as well as a race in Laas Vegas....with a return in late March back to the NJ Shore. Please share your "must see", or helpful hints. I plan to see some of Rt 66 in Texas and always have my eye ( and stomach) on any great Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.....I will be in a 2008 Winnebago Destination with a Honda CRV in tow....any recommendations and pointers would be great......

  5. I value your comments on my pro and con opinions in re equipment for the RV at http://www.GalleyShop.blogspot.com What other products would you like to me to find or evaluate?

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    camperette99
    Latest Entry

    This is my first attempt at blogging. We have been a member of FMCA for so long that I have forgotten when we actually joined. We still work so unfortunately we don't travel far from home. We do like to visit the Georgia State Parks. Today the storm (Lee) has moved out of the area and the temp during the day is just fabulous for camping and riding with the top down on the car.

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    havefun
    Latest Entry

    This is my first time blogging. So here it goes. We are heading to Texas this winter for the first time. We have heard that it is very nice down there and the people are very welcoming to winter Texans as I guess we are called. We have spent the last five years of your motorhomeing for the winter in Florida, however, we thought we needed a change this year so here we come. We are are going to be spending time in Canyon Lakes rv resort. I sure hope it is nice because I am only going by what I have researched on line. So if anyone has stayed there or is staying there would you let me know what you think of it? It looks like a real nice place with lots to do and see. I always get nervous about a new place when it is sight onseen. We hope that there are some other members that are staying close by that we might get to know while we are down there. We are from Michigan so I don't know how many from our state stay there for the winter. I think that most of the winter people go to Florida.

    We won't be leaving until after Thanksgiving and staying until April. By then we are ready to head home. We are really excited about our new adventure and are looking forward to it. So here is hoping that we might meet some of you along the way. :)

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    This is my first Blog here on FMCA and I hope to come back from time to time to add more content.

    In 2005, I was fortunate to have been asked to take a position as a Workhorse Ambassador since I was on one of their W22 chassis. Over the course of the program I attended several FMCA Rallies and spoke to a great many FMCA members in seminars as did other guys that worked with me. The last event that I attended was the Family Reunion Rally in Perry, GA and you might have seen me in the Workhorse display. Just next door to us was Navistar's, MaxxForce Engine Group display and they exhibited the new 2010 Emission, MaxxForce 7 Twin Turbo V8. The show was on for 3 days and I was pleased to meet and greet FMCA members and speak with them about Workhorse. The typical concern and question was about how the company is moving forward now absent a gasoline engine. As most of you know, GM stopped building the 8.1L Vortec engine in 2009 and re-purposed the Tonawanda plant for engines that meet the needs of their automotive and light truck fleet. Going forward, Workhorse continues to build on their W Series heritage and is now using the MaxxForce 7 engine as the prime mover of their motorhome chassis.

    Shortly I expect to be be getting back on the road from our South Carolina home and we'll be making our way North to Madison via Dundee, OH. Once there, I will be attending the Workhorse Chassis Motorhome Club, "Amish Adventures Rally" at the Evergreen Camp & RV Resort. There is discussion about this event located in the RV Lifestyles/Clubs & Assiciations Topic on iRV2. The event runs from 8/1 to 8/5. The WCMC is a FMCA INTO Chapter. Workhorse Chassis owners must be FMCA members and are invited to join the Club attend the event.

    We are looking forward to attending the 86th Family Reunion Rally. Please drop by The Navistar Display located in Booth 1107 & 1109 to say hello if you are planning on being there. I would be pleased to meet you.

    My wife and I have been members of FMCA for almost 12 years having joined in 2001. I can normally be found on the pages of iRV2.com.

    Mike (DriVer) Pelchat

    F290540

  6. Hello! I left a black Dell laptop on top of my car Monday, June 28th at Mather Campground in the Grand Canyon. We drove from there to the visitors' center and then headed south on Interstate 64 South, headed for LA. I am thinking I heard a noise half an hour onto 64, and in retrospect, I am guessing that may have been my computer falling. If anyone comes across a computer on the roadside or in the park, I would love a call at 970-556-1650. It has 5 years of family pictures on it, and that part is pricelss!

    Thanks,

    Heidi

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    Greetings, let me start off by stating that I have never done this before so please excuse any blogging faux-pas that I may make over the course of this endevor.

    I am new to FMCA, having just joined, well, today. If you can't tell by my handle, I'm in the Coast Guard and have proudly served since 1998. Now after 3 years in my beloved Pacific Northwest, I find myself with a fresh (by fresh I mean it only took the Yeoman a month to type the orders out) set of orders directing me to depart and report to Norfolk, VA.

    Not that I am complaining by any stretch of the imagination, but just once I wish my detailer would let me stay in the same geographic area for more than one tour. I've put as many ruts in I-90 as the pioneers did in the prarie going to the west coast. So now I gurd up for yet another trip across country. This will be my fourth.

    When I graduated from the Academy I received orders to a Cutter out of Astoria, OR. So I loaded up my Dodge Ram (aka Helga)with a slide in camper and took off for the west coast. First trip accomplished. Good tour, fell in love with the PACNW, but I do have to say as a transplanted New Englander the pizza leaves a lot to be desired.

    After completing a two year tour I received orders to Norfolk, VA as part of a navy exchange tour. So again Helga and I without the camper (which unfortunately rotted out on me despite my best efforts to save her) took off for sunny Virgina. There I was assigned to USS CARR, as navigator. After a six month deployment to the west coast of Africa in 2005-2006 I managed to get in the good graces of the powers that be and successfully screened for command afloat.

    My detailer (aka Satan) emailed me while on deployement and said, "I've got one more boat for you and its your only change for command. She's the last in class, Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island." I wrote back, I'll take her and by the way where is she located. My response... Guam. So this time I left Helga at home and took a 19 hour flight to where America's day begins Guam.

    After two plus years there I received orders back to the PACNW. I had to drive Helga cross country yet again. Luckly this time I was joined by the love of my life Alissa, who I met in Guam six monthslater. I had a small little appartment that did not fit our needs and we needed to find a bigger place. While looking for a house to rent we found a 1984 Winnebago Chieftain 22 footer down the road. The price was right, and she was in outstanding condition. Following a call to Mom and Dad Family savings bank she was mine. We packed up out of the apartment, as the lease was up and moved into the Winnebago, who we affectionately called Spaceball 2, due mainly to the uncanny resemblance to Lonestar's ride in the movie. We meant to only be in her for a month at the most while we found a place... one month turned into seven. We finally found a place and started actually using Spaceballs for what we meant originally... traveling.

    So my tour is now complete and I requested every billet open to an Senior Lieutennant in the PACNW. Satan called a few months ago and told me that there was nothing available for me, and he had a honey of a job waiting for me in Virginia. By now our family had grown, two sun conures (small parrots), two cats and one dog. Regardless of the space issues in our 22 footer, I had doubts if Spaceballs could make a 3000 mile voyage across country to our new duty station. That and I could foresee the fights that might occur between my better half about her two cats being in a cage all day.

    So long story short, we just signed papers on a 34 foot 1994 Safari diesel pusher with 68K on a 5.9 cummins turbo diesel engine. We're just waiting on bank approval as it is a short sale. Hopefully we will get it, and with that I will start our fourth journey cross country.

    I think I've taken enough time on this one entry. Wish us luck and I'll keep whoever's interested posted about our progress as the time grows nearer.

    Semper Paratus (Always Ready)

    Bill

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    My wife Kim and I have been RVing for a few years now and are ready to trade in our 31ft Hurricane Class A motorhome for something a bit nicer. We have been looking at the manufactures information, but as you all know, manufacturer's tend to accentuate the positive and overlook the negative. So we decided to ask the people who live the RV life every day for your opinions. We hope you will take a few minutes to share your thoughts on the various models on the RV market today. We would like to thank you all in advance for your insight and help!!

    Regards, Barry & Kim

  7. I used the links below the editor to attach an album to this entry.

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    Getting in the right frame of mind to start putting the three-week-long summer trip together. We are still in debate over location and are in the process of pouring over pages and pages of travel guides. With the price of gas so high, we may be staying a little closer to home than usual, but our adventurous spirit is aching to get going. We loved Tennessee last summer and really enjoyed Kentucky's Mammoth Caves the year before. Weren't too thrilled with Arkansas, but then again, we didn't travel much into the Ozarks. We are thinking maybe a lingering journey toward New England and over to Niagra Falls or up into Nova Scotia, but then we are looking at logging a lot more miles than initially thought.

    The excitement is in our bones and school is almost out for the summer. Tom has to take vacation days and we will be set to go around mid-June.

    Anyone have suggestions on location? We know it's always about location, location, location.

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    The 2012 Jaguar XJ ranks 9 out of 12 Super Luxury Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 26 published reviews and test drives of the Jaguar XJ, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

    With loads of standard features, a stunning design and powerful engine choices, test drivers say that the 2012 Jaguar XJ has a lot going for it. However, the XJ loses points for its fussy cabin electronics.

    The

    JAGUAR XJ is a cab-rearward design and is incredibly riveting to stare at as it sits back on its haunches with as much cool as James Bond lighting a Chesterfield. In black, with the big-dish 20-inch wheels, the car is sinister enough to warrant its own RICO investigation.

    [/left]

    Jaguar Cars managing director Mike O’Driscoll, who’s peddled more than his share of schlock over a 35-year career with the company, is smiling more lately. He says the mission was to recapture the uniqueness of the original 1968 XJ but in a modern form.

    [/left]

    Some test drivers love the opulent surroundings inside the 2012 XJ, while others see room for improvement. Materials are mostly high-quality; some reviewers even call the interior stunning. But, one test driver comments that some small trim pieces look a little cheap and out of place, and that the radical interior styling is a departure when compared with flagship sedans like the Mercedes S-Class. The XJ’s seats are comfortable, but back seat legroom isn’t the best in regular-wheelbase models. Additionally, some taller drivers might want a little extra headroom.

    [/left]

    The C-pillars are clad in wonky glossy black panels that bridge the side glass with the backlight. Styling head Ian Callum—who gave us all of our current

    2013 Jaguar and a few Aston Martins—demanded it and got his way. You don’t hear odes to the Jensen Interceptor very often, but Callum is fascinated with the way that car’s rear glass wrapped around the body sides to isolate the roof. He wanted to create an unbroken black band around the car’s cranium, like the Lone Ranger’s mask. On lighter colors the effect is more pronounced—and a little forced, frankly—but it’s definitely not something Jaguar’s competitors would ever do.

    [/left][/left]

    Lately, the market’s air has been pretty thin at the XJ’s price point—the company sold just 1161 of the big cats in the U.S. last year, 2452 in 2008—so you can’t blame Jaguar for leaning on existing components where possible. Unexpectedly, it’s the Jaguar XFR that donates the most gear, including its suspension, steering rack, and, in the Supersports, the active electronic differential with few modifications.

    The riveted and glue-bonded aluminum unibody shares DNA with the previous XJ, but thanks to a learning curve and a change in priorities, there are substantial changes. Besides the graceful sheetmetal, there are more cast nodes in the new XJ’s skeleton, helping to drive up torsional rigidity by a claimed 11 percent, and the front subframe is now solidly mounted. In the past, Jaguar used rubber isolation bushings, something it found only negatively affected handling while supplying little isolation benefit.

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    First posting attempt. Here's hoping!

    Am surprised by the continually falling attendance and the implication that carries.

    Can only surmise membership is slipping, and therewith revenues, club viability, etc.

    Am planning on attending GLASS in MI end of this month. Whereas it used to get up to 1300 coaches, last year it was down in the 700 range. How few will attend this year I wonder?

    Using Perry as a benchmark my first was in 1996 (6632). Attendance held pretty steady through 2005 and then the bottom falls out, ie 2007 (4832), 2009 (3279) and 2011 (2707).

    Gee, but is it the economy, cost of fuel, members tire of rallies in same location, etc.

    As I believe the US is in economic decline, is FMCA membership and rallies just another symptom of a nation in decline?

    Can only assume cost of units, cost of fuel, age of members, affect attendance and participation. Anyone privy to FACTS?

    RVing is a terrific travel and family activity. Sure hate to see it wither!

    Gorm

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    My wife and I live in Florida. In May we are going to Cumming, Ga to my granddaughter's graduation. After graduation we have about a week and then we go to Bishopville, SC to my grandson's wedding. During that week need need some suggestion of places to stay in north Georgia or north South Carolina. We like hiking, walking, sightseeing, outdoor stuff. Any suggestions???????

  8. Frankturman
    Latest Entry

    It has been nearly 4 months since our last entry and we are a long way from Port Isabel Texas. We spent the remainder of December in South Texas spending the Christmas Holidays in Mission and then moving back to the coast spending the New Year holiday in South Padre Island. We then started our trek along the gulf coast stopping at Corpus Christi and Houston before departing Texas for Louisiana.

    We spent a week in Breaux Bridge which is just to the east of Lafayette. This is a nice town deep in the heart of Cajun country. The food is great with a lot of local restaurants serving all of the Cajun delicacies. We enjoy this area the people are friendly and there is a lot to see and do. Our next stop was Slidell just north east of New Orleans; we parked the coach there and flew to Fargo ND to attend the wedding of a niece. The wedding was fun and we were reminded about the reason we spend our winters in the south. The snow was about 3 ft deep and the morning we departed the temperature was -11 degrees. During our stay in Slidell we were able to get our Louisiana winery.

    We then moved to Biloxi MS for a week. This is a fun area with a lot of good restaurants, including some from Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives, the Food Network Show. We always enjoy eating in these establishments when we can. The sea food in this area is some of the best we have been able to get.

    We then moved on to South Alabama where we stayed for two weeks, visiting one of Julie’s Cousins who winter in Orange Beach. This is a fun area with a lot of things to do and places to visit. The history of this part of the gulf coast is rich in both military as well as the early settlers. We enjoy both the Alabama and Florida Panhandle areas where the beaches seem to stretch forever and the sand is white like sugar.

    We then moved to Columbus GA where we prepared to attend the FMCA Convention in Perry Georgia. While in Columbus we were able to find wineries in both Alabama and Georgia. Both wineries had good wine for this region, that being according to our pallets. We then moved to Perry for the FMCA Convention, where we spent 6 nights dry camping along with the nearly 3000 other motor homes attending. This was an enjoyable gathering with great weather, and wonderful fellowship.

    We are now in Brunswick Georgia preparing to start our trek north along the Atlantic Coast. Our travels have not taken us to the North East states and we plan on covering those in the coming months. We have enjoyed the south east Georgia coast visiting the Islands and taking in the rich history of the area. We will have to try to do better about posting our updates to this rambling narrative so you can keep track of our adventures.

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    DerrickL
    Latest Entry

    I have made it a point to avoid most controversial subjects here. That hasn't stopped me from posting one or two provocative things, I guess.

    This entry may cause a bit of conversation, but here goes.

    FMCA's membership is down. The magazine is so much smaller than it used to be due to a lack of advertisers. The RV industry is still living on the edge of an economic non recovery. Times are not very good at the moment. The price of gas is not going in the direction most of us would like and loans for RV purchases both towables and coaches new or used are still hard to get.

    Sometimes you have to adapt and take advantage of circumstances not let them get the best of you.

    There is a lot in common with all RVs when you think about it. Lots of full timers live in towables as well as coaches. Manufacturers of both use a lot of the same suppliers including interior parts, electronics, appliances and various small supplies. We all have to dump our tanks the same way!

    I believe that there is strength in numbers. We need to combine our resources, work together to make things better for those who make RVs and those who buy them and use them. Who knows maybe the RV industry could form its own lending institution and offer loans as well as lobby Congress and state governments for things that the industry needs. Sorry, but that is still necessary, wouldn't you agree?

    So to work toward the goal of making things better for all: It is my humble opinion that the Family Motor Coach Association should become the Family RV Association. All RV owners of towables and coaches should be eligible to become members of the association.

    I wasn't there (as much as I would have liked to have been) at the Perry Convention. I hope that opening the convention to towables indicates that maybe some people are thinking the same way I am.

    Am I opening a can of worms? Who knows? Let's find out.

    Comments are certainly welcome and hoped for! So is your vote...but you need to register if you a not a member of this site.

    Derrick L

    "Gramps"

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    After 13,000 miles, 38 states and nearly 5 months of travel, we have one wish: To find families who do the same thing as we are doing. There is a great shortage of kids in motor homes that travel with their families on around-the-country trips. The "Class A" motor home parks sometimes cater to kids (at least somewhat) but even the local chapters of FMCA do not have kids. If anyone knows of a local chapter specifically for families with kids, we'd like to know.

    Even if you search the blogs for the word "children" you come up empty. It has been the greatest way to teach geography, history and even American Literature by traveling and visiting state and national parks, and homes like that of Jefferson Davis, in the south, to Lincoln, and many more.

    We do home school, and this has been the greatest year. Some of our "graduates" will be visiting us over the holidays and joining us as we travel from Selma to Birmingham; walking part of the route.

    Join us here on this blog for more Kids on the Road.

    Lou & Sue Harper

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    If you appreciate being able to park overnight at Wal-Mart, let them know! A lawsuit has been filed in Utah by a Florida couple who opened thier RV door to an intruder and claims Wal-Mart should be held responsible for their security in their parking lot. We all are aware there are risks we must assume when we boondock. This lawsuit will affect any retailer who allows us to park in their lot.

    While the couple suffered an unfortunate situation, the retailer should not be held liable. Please join us in rallying behind Wal-Mart and other retailers who welcome RVers.

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    We all had fun at Stone Mountain park Ga. We got there Thursday and stayed til Monday. The park was at capacity(60,00) at 5:30 on Sunday. If you have not been in years or never been it should be put on your todo list. Laser show and fireworks are awesome. :unsure:

  9. Big Blue is what we affectinately call our 42-foot Fleetwood Excursion, which my husband had to have because of the beautiful Pacific Blue coloring scheme. It doesn't hurt that we are also avid Penn State fans and that my husband comments that he "bleeds blue and white."

    Every fall you can find us up at the Bellefonte KOA (a wonderful place) for the whole football season. Never want to be any place else!The rest of the year, our address happens to be wherever we decide to park Big Blue for the night, the week, or the month.

    My husband is still working. He telecommutes out of the RV. However, he is on call and must be able to "report" for meetings in person within a 24-hour time frame, which restricts greatly the distance from his office in Virginia Beach, Va., that we can travel.

    I am a retired CPA. After my third diagnosis of cancer, we decided to push our "dream" of seeing the USA via a motorhome ahead of our original plans. We know now how precious each and every day is that we are blessed with and want to build memories to share when we reach that point where traveling is not in our best interests. We scoured RV shows for three years and knew what we were looking for. I finally purchased our RV on June 24 of 2007 as a surprise for my husband's 60th birthday.

    This would be our entry into the wonderful world of RVing! We had no experience with tents, pop-ups, trailers, fifth-wheels or any other camping traditions. We just took off with the movie "RVing" in our DVD drive and a sense of adventure! At that time, it was just three of us: our cat, Hershey, my husband, and me. We knew nothing about anything in the camping world. Never lit a fire, roasted a marshmallow, emptied a black tank or stowed breakables for the bumpy journey. We learned the hard way about leveling the coach, emptying the tanks, choosing routes (and campgrounds) that were suitable or "big-rig friendly." We learned the precious abiltiy to stand outside the coach and scratch our heads when we couldn't figure it out, only to have a fellow RVer show us the ropes.

    I hope to share some of the wonderful experiences we have had and some new ones as they occur. There are now four of us. Sadly, last May we lost our beloved cat at the ripe ol' age of 16. Now Kobie, our 5-year-old American cocker spaniel, and Bruiser, our 2-year-old Shih Tzu, travel with us down the roads and love nothing better than sniffing out new trails, chasing squirrels and leaving their mark on every tree stump available in each and every campground in this wonderful land of ours.

  10. Dear Readers,

    By now you know we have made it to Witchita Falls and, of course, we made it to our final destination for our shake-down cruise, which was Santa Fe -- not without incident(s), of course. But we made it there and back home to Longview, Texas.

    Although we had our share of mishaps along the way, I'm pleased to report that my marriage to Ms. Wendy is stronger than ever (I hope) and that Gracie and Coco enjoyed the trip immensely. You would have thought the two of them had been RVers all their lives, although they did tend to bark a little more than I would have liked. Being small dogs, I suppose they have to try to show how tough they are.

    Along the route to Santa Fe, I will report that we had one of the windiest (is that a word?) trips that I have ever been on. We had crosswinds the entire trip from Texas to Santa Fe and back. I know that my forearms are a little stronger as a result of trying to hold our 42-foot Gulf Stream on the road. Ms. Wendy's eyes kept getting big as we would drift to her edge of the roadway. She would grab for her imaginary steering wheel and pump her imaginary brake -- I suppose because you feel so darn helpless in the passenger side captain's chair. Plus, I will admit that I tend to be somewhat of an aggressive driver when I'm in my pickup truck. I'm usually in a hurry and have little patience for people who seem to have all the time in the world to get wherever it is that they intend to go.

    So, Ms. Wendy and I struck a bargain when we purchased our coach: I had to sign a contract to drive safely and not aggressively, or else she would abandon me somewhere along the road and leave me with the dogs. Now, that might be a tempting offer to some folks, but I rather enjoy my wife's companionship and the dogs don't cuddle near as good, though they do cuddle.

    So, I am pleased to report that on our initial journey Ms. Wendy only had to scold me a couple of times about my speed: "Slow down, you're going too fast to suit me" is what she said. And, for the sake of our marriage, not to mention my legal obligation under our safe-driving contract, I would slow to a safer speed, and everyone was happy.

    I mentioned that this trip was our first RV Adventure but said it would not be our last, and it won't, if the Lord's willing and the creek don't rise, as they say in Texas. I used the word "adventure" because that is descriptive, I believe, of the entire trip, including night two in Santa Fe.

    Now, for those of you who have been to Santa Fe, you know that this charming town is blessed in many ways, including having an array of wonderful restaurants. I am somewhat of a foodie in that I love to cook and fancy myself as an amateur chef. So, I asked my friend from Longview, who owns a home in Santa Fe, for some good recommendations on places to eat. He suggested a number of places and we ate lunch at one on our first trip to the Plaza and we made a reservation for the next night to go to another. But, as we sat around our coach, enjoying the Santa Fe Skies (that is where we stayed, too, by the way), we decided we would rather stay in than eat out. So, since I did not bring much in the way of food to cook, we called in burgers and I went to pick them up and brought them back to our camp site, where we sat outside with Gracie and Coco and watched game 6 of the NBA finals. I knew at this point that we were true RVers because that is what we preferred to do -- stay in camp, rather than eat out.

    I also mentioned that I hoped this blog would sometimes be informative, if not funny. You may say, "How can a new RVer have anything to say that would be informative?" Well, I'm sure many of you reading this have years of experience in an RV. But, Ms. Wendy and I had an experience in Santa Fe, on our second night, that has hopefully prepared me like a good Eagle Scout should be.

    You see, after we had gone to bed, along about 1 in the morning, Ms. Wendy woke up to the sounds of someone yelling outside our coach. She thought at first that it was some kids who had come by our campsite earlier in the day. She told me to wake up, that I needed to go outside and see what was wrong.

    Now, I was in a dead sleep and I figured that some couple was fighting and I am smart enough not to try to get in the middle of a fight (I learned that lesson the hard way, but that's another story). Then, my wife looked out of our bedroom window and saw a huge fire burning up the other side of the ridge of which we were on top. More importantly, the winds, now blowing at about 40 mph, were blowing the embers toward our coach and over the top of it. I was aware that very day there was a grass fire burning northwest of Santa Fe that had consumed over 9,000 acres at that point.

    I told Ms. Wendy to get the dogs and put them in my truck and get in the truck and get ready to leave. I brought the jacks up and started the engine to let the air pressure build. My plan was to be ready to get ourselves out of the campground if the fire spread toward us.

    Then, I went to see what was on fire and discovered that a gentleman's Fifth Wheel RV was totally engulfed in flames. He had managed to get himself out and get his vehicles and propane bottles away so they would not burn. I am pleased to report that the fire department got there quickly and contained the fire to his RV, although the RVs on either side had some heat damage. Thankfully, and praise God, no one was hurt or killed.

    I don't know about you, but I have a hard time falling back to sleep when I've been asleep for any length of time. So, as we lay back down that night, we got to thinking and talking, What would we do if our coach caught fire? Would we be able to get out if the fire was blocking the door?. So, we put this experience to good use for us. We made an escape plan. We found the exit window and are prepared to use it if necessary. We are buying a second fire extinguisher to put in the rear of the coach where we sleep. And we will have a designated meeting place if we get separated. And we decided that we would save ourselves over our property, if it came to that. Hopefully, it never will.

    So, to sum up, I learned three things from this, our first RV Adventure:

    1. Always check the weather of your destination before you leave. A temerature of 114 degrees is no condition to travel in, what is, in effect, a metal box.

    2. You can't back up a toad vehicle with tow bars attached. Don't try it; it doesn't and will not work. You will regret it.

    3. Have an escape plan in the event of a fire and a meeting point every time you camp. It might just save your lives.

    Oh, yeah, I learned one other thing: I love RVing and cannot wait for our next adventure.

    See you down the road,

    Brad Steele