Friday, December 2, 2016

RV, Motorhome, Camper. Do You Speak RV?

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Do you need a Blue Boy for your VBR? Thinking of trading in your Class B for a fiver?  Learn here to parlez-vous RV. If you want to add to this list, please leave a comment.

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The Lingo of RV Life
    Think you know RV terms? Here are words and reasons to explore them. 
          Blue Boy, a portable tank that can accept sewage if a sewer or dump station is not available.    Also may be called a Honey Wagon. 

          Bus Conversion. The most luxurious Class A motorhomes are built on the same foundations as large tour buses. However, a homemade, converted bus is a different kettle of fish and may not be accepted at fancier campgrounds.

·         Chassis – The "works" before the "house" is put on. If you are brand loyal to, say, Ford or Mercedes, you may want to shop for an RV built with their engine on their chassis.

·         Cockpit – Area where the driver sits. In most models this has at least one swivel seat that becomes part of the “living room: after you’re parked.

·         Basement – Storage area beneath the floor of the motor home, accessible from the outside.

·         Boondocking (or Dry Camping) – Camping without hooking up to any electric, sewer or water facilities. You can still have electricity from the batteries or generator and water from your fresh water holding tank.

·         Dinghy (or Toad) – Vehicle towed behind your motor home. Could be a car, pickup, utility trailer, boat, trailered watercraft, ad inf. Know your towing capacity, then put together a package that involves the right hitch and trailer.

·         Dump Station – Facility where you can empty your black and gray water holding tanks (see holding tanks for description).

·         Extended Stay Campground – A park where you can  stay for a longer period of time, even up to an entire season, usually at a discount.  Most state parks and membership campgrounds have a time limit, so an extended stay is a good deal for snowbirds and others who don't move often. 

          Fiver. Slang for a 5th wheel trailer. 

·         Full Hookup – Campsite with direct connections to electricity, sewer and water. Sometimes wi-fi, cable RV and phone are included in “full” hookups.

        Genset: a generator that provides household power to the RV when you’re not hooked up. It’s noisy and produces exhaust fumes. You may be able to get by with solar panels, batteries and an inverter (a device that converts battery power to household power.)

·   Holding Tanks - There are three different holding tanks on most motor homes:
            Black Water Tank – Takes waste from the toilet.
            Fresh Water Tank – Stores all of the fresh water that will be used in the sinks, shower and toilet while dry camping. Most RV’s also have a hose hookup that bypasses this system when you’re hooked up to campground water.
            Gray Water Tank – Holds all the water and waste from the sink and shower drains.

·         Pull Through – Camping site that allows you to pull through when you set up and leave the area. No backing required. A back-in site is just that.

·         Puller – Motor home with the  engine mounted in front.

·         Pusher – Motor home with the diesel engine mounted in the rear.

          Resort Campground.. Rates are higher but include resort amenities such as a restaurant, spa, golf course, tennis courts, etc.

·         RV – Recreation Vehicle (note that the industry no longer uses the term recreational vehicle Combines transportation and temporary living quarters for recreation, camping and travel.

·         Rig – Another name for the complete RV (which could include a tow truck or car, a dinghy, etc.)  RBR – Really Big Rig.  VBR – Very Big Rig.

          Screen room. Screen attachments are available for some RV awnings. Freestanding screen shelters are available to pitch on the campsite.providing both shade and insect protection. 

         Slide or   Slideout, sometimes called a Bump Out. Portion of the RV that can expand to create more room inside. Take a close look at what room you’ll have with slides in as well as out. When you stop for a roadside lunch can you get to the bathroom or take a nap? 

        Teardrop trailer, an aerodynamic shape popular for tiny trailers often pulled by a motorcycle, small car or even a bicycle. 

       Stinky Slinky, the sewer hose. Take good care of it and remember that you-know-what doesn’t run uphill. It compresses like a Slinky toy, so it doesn’t take much space to have a spare sewer hose  on hand at all times.

    WallyDock, overnighting at WalMart where permitted.

More Terms

·         GCWR or Gross Combined Weight Rating  The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the trailer and tow vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the trailer, tow vehicle, fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

·         GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating  The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers. Check out these specs. You may find that there is little capacity left for your personal gear and food.

·         NCC or Net Carrying Capacity, also called Payload or Payload Capacity) - The maximum weight of fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers that can be added to an RV without exceeding the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

·         UVW or Unloaded Vehicle Weight, also called Dry Weight,  - The weight of the RV without adding fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

See shortcut but chic recipes for RV travel at 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Women Care: Your RV, Camper, Motorhome

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Bikini Wax for your RV
    First, don’t skimp on quality. Shop at automotive, RV and marine suppliers. Household cleaning products probably don’t contain weather stoppers, mildewcides and UV protection like products made for campers, cars and boats.  Expect to pay more for more features. Gallon sizes may be the best buy for a large trailer or motorhome. 
    Wash-and-wax products sound like an easy way to clean and wax at the same time, but there’s no free lunch. Why grind in old dirt and seal it in with a new wax coat?  Before anything else, start with a good wash and rinse. And rinse and rinse.

    How to understand the labels? 

    The term Cleaner Wax refers to cleaners that contain a mild abrasive cleaner plus protection against moisture and perhaps UV blocks. The word “abrasive”is always  a red flag. Use any abrasive only as a last resort,  as infrequently as possible and only in the area where it’s needed. During your initial wash job, much of the stubborn dirt comes off with soaking and a gentle nudge with a safe scourer such as a wad of nylon net.

    Straight Paste Wax requires plenty of work so it’s usually applied with a mechanical buffer. High quality waxes are traditional and time honored. Again, get an  RV/marine quality paste.  

    Polymer Wax is the latest category of protectants. Most brands are fully synthetic and contain no natural wax. Usually sold as a liquid cream, a polymer bonds with the surface and the best ones have UV inhibitors. Apply it once-–there is no advantage in two coats nowthen give it another coat in a month or so. In cold climates, two coats a year are good, according to the folks at Shurhold.  If your RV is in the sunbelt treat it more often, at least three or four times a year.  times annually.

    Vinyl Upholstery takes plenty of punishment in the RV. Dirt and stains penetrate the grain. It’s subjected to extreme temperatures. Sofas, chairs and cockpit seats are constantly flexed and stretched. If you use harsh household cleaners to get them clean easy and fast, upholstery fibers and threads break down and dirt just gets a better grip next time. Start with a mild soap solution, soft brush and a thorough rinse. Dry, then treat.

    Read labels to make sure the product adds UV protection, stain inhibitors and a plasticizer to protect flexibility. (Also read the label about care for the product itself. Some must be protected from freezing.)  After cleaning vinyl,  apply vinyl treatment, working slowly so it settles into the fibers. 

    Everything else. Your RV’s owner’s manual should contain instructions for caring for all materials inside and out. They  include many different plastics, glass, fiberglass, leather, aluminum, chrome, rubber ad inf. 

    There’s no substitute for the right stuff. 

Everything you need to know about the full-time life on wheels. Order Janet Groene's Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition,  for yourself or a gift. It begins with choosing and equipping an RV for full-timing and covers practical matters such as choosing a home state, earning a living on the go and home schooling. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Gift Season for the RV Woman

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Gifts for the Lucky RV Lady

Look into her heart and guess what gifts she REALLY wants for her RV life and travels.

Is it worth the room it takes up in the RV?  
It is practical or  a gimmick promoted by marketers who don’t really know the RV lifestyle?  
Is it her? Is it worth the money? 

These are all tough questions.  Every gift buyer , budget, woman, travel lifestyle  and RV is different. These gift ideas might work for the RV woman in your life.

Not just another folding table. If you need extra work surface as you travel in your RV this tough folding tool bench is a must-have. It’s the WORX Pegasus Worktable, It holds multiple clamps, can support many tools AND it can separate to serve as a sawhorse holding up to 1,000 pounds. It's small enough to use inside some RV's and durable enough to set up outdoors.

A portable canopy for instant shade anywhere. This one sets up in minutes, folds to a small bundle and tuck compactly into a storage compartment. 

A campfire corn popper   and/or a pair of s’mores baskets will make her the life of the campground party. A non-electric corn popper can be used over any heat source from a campstove or hotplate to a grill.  

Authentic Tilley Hat. There is only one Tilley, a favorite of campers, hikers, sailors, hunters, paddlers, equestrians, bikers and all who love the rakish look of the outback.  Fit is  perfect (it comes in many sizes) and features like the hidden pocket are superb.  It washes like a hankie and wears like iron. 

Cookbooks. If she is a cookbook collector, we hope her library will include my book Cooking Aboard Your RV, 2nd Edition for Kindle or print and my friend Cheryl Norman’s book for Kindle, Hasty Tasty RV Meals.

A Portable Makeup Mirror.   She’ll love a lighted mirror that folds away to use in the RV or take to the campground’s showers. It’s normal on one side, magnifying on the other. It worls on 110v power, no batteries to replace. 

A Hanging Toilet Kit  she can use on board or take to the campground showers and at the gym, spa, pool or golf club. Hang it up for use, then snap it closed to stuff into a drawer or cupboard. 

      Thermal Clothing.  It  has to do with the “120 Degree Rule”. If your RV woman loves the water (fishing, sailing, paddling), hypothermia can be a real threat even on warm days. Add today’s outside temperature and the water temperature. If adds up to more than 120 degrees, you're OK. It's it's less, wear thermal clothing. 

See Janet Groene's RV-ready recipes at

Friday, November 11, 2016

RV Women Warm Up the RV Lifestyle

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 Even in the sunbelt,  temperatures can plunge. Here's how to warm up your RV.

Electric heaters are a good choice for the RV because the heat is dry.  Safety comes first. With the new SmartPlug,  contact stays cooler.

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Hot Flash
If you use your RV in business or in charity work including volunteering, it may be all or partly deductible. See books by tax expert and former IRS agent Julian Block at

Take the Chill Off  RV Travel
copyright janet groene

If you will be using the RV in snow country You’ll need heated hoses, heated pads to keep tanks from freezing and other accessories your dealer can suggest.  For now, let’s just talk easy and inexpensive ways to make your RV more snug. I've seen raw temperatures in the 40's in Key West and have shivered at high altitudes even in July. It costs little to prepare for cold snaps. Here’s how.

    * Get a dark colored windshield cover. For less than $10 put this magnetic cover  over the windshield to absorb heat as soon as the sun comes out. I’ve put black plastic trash bags over windows, and they make amazing radiators, but this  fits better and the magnets hold it in place. 

* Demand for more watts in winter can put extra load on your electric hookup. Replacing the old twist-type connector with a SmartPlug system reduces the danger of overheating when you' run high-amperage devices like a heater. Thanks to the shape of the plug, it simply shoves straight in and locks on, with no twisting and guesswork.

* RV floors are usually cold. Toast your toes with this heated floor pad. Sold for use under office desks, it’s just the right size to use at the bedside or under the table.   

* For years I’ve used a 12-volt mattress pad.  Flick it on a half hour before bedtime to pre-heat the bed. Through the night, heat rises from below. 

* If your RV has a household AC unit rather than the usual rooftop AC, keep cold drafts out in winter.  This cover is for the inside. You can also get a cover for the outside of the unit, but secure it well or it will blow off at highway speeds. 

*  If your RV windows leak cold air the Duck people have a film for you. Application is an easy DIY project even if you’re unhandy, but it's important to follow directions.  This plastic film is applied with a hair dryer or heat gun that shrinks it to fit.  
      This roll-on film covers as much of the window and surrounding area as you wish.

* An inexpensive laser thermometer is great for testing the barbecue and it's also the best tool for finding sources of cold air leaks. Just point and press, and a digital readout tells you the temperature at windows, door seals, floors, etc. I was amazed to find differences of 20 and 30 degrees where cold air was leaking in.  

* Propane and other fuels raise humidity, a problem when the weather is cold and dank. Human respiration alone puts gallons of moisture in the air and more is added in an RV as you shower and cook. Electric heat is dry. I like this compact tower heater with thermostat and  remote control. 

* Do you feel a gush of cold air under roof vents? Most are a standard size, about 14 X 14 inches, easily filled with an insulated vent pillow.

Put the heat on cold snaps with these easy solutions. I’ll see you down the road. Janet Groene 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Can Your RV Pass the Smell Test?

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Hot Flash!
Do you have an RV and a need for temporary work? Go  where the jobs are.  Join Amazon’s CamperForce for the holidays. Fulfillment centers around the country provide hookups and jobs. Go to

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Passing the Smell Test

    Like the TV ad says, people can go “nose blind” to unpleasant smells. Let’s face it. In an RV we have our own kitchen, bathroom, sewer system, laundry basket and other places that can raise a stink. 
     It's not your fault but the solution IS in your hands.
    Here’s how.

The New Tank Vents
    By far the biggest problems in RV odor control are the gray and black water tanks, especially the “black” or sewage tank. Stinky gases are the byproduct of  bacteria breaking down waste.  The sewage tank has its own roof vent but it works best when the RV is underway and air flow is highest. The vent can’t always keep up, and gases may burp up with each flush. No amount of cleaning will help. 

    Thanks to the new Siphon 360, which comes in white or black, air flow is much faster. A patented design allows winds, and even slight breezes, to create a suction that keeps foul air  floating constantly out through the roof
    The new, patented vent costs less than $30 and it’s fairly easy to install by replacing the existing vent. If you’re handy, you’ll need to get on the roof of the RV and use basic tools, such as a screwdriver,  and sealant (to assure a leak-proof installation).
     While you're at it, get two Siphon 360's and replace the gray water tank vent at the same time. Even though that tank fills only with sink and shower water it develops a stale, sour smell that might belch up through the drains. 

Toilet Chemicals
    It’s easy to flush chemicals that are formulated specifically for RV holding tanks. They have been around forever and keep getting better.  They help break down sewage while neutralizing odors. 

Odor Sprays
    Dozens of household sprays are available to neutralize or mask cooking and bathroom odors. They are handy to use as often as needed and you probably already have your favorites. I like this one from the makers of the famous Maguire line of auto care products. Instead of a perfumed, flowery scent it smells like new car.

    EPA approved, these cleaners murder mildew spores and other bio-stinkers. Rather like a bug bomb, this "shock treatment" is designed to be set off in a space up to 400 square feet. Just add water,  walk away. When you come back everything should smell better. It penetrates upholstery, wall and floor coverings and other surfaces, destroying deep-seated bacteria and mold spores.
    Also a biocide, this heavy duty spray is bought by car dealers to refresh cars that are heavily stunk up with  tobacco smoke or  mold in the air conditioning system. 

    Popular in hospitals and nursing homes, ionizers work by putting charged ions into the air. They attract stray particles,  making the ions heavier so they sink to the floor. Air is more breathable but this works only on airborne odors, not the puppy urine in the carpeting. This ionizer is made for automotive use, and gives the interior a deodorizing in about 20 minutes when you plug it into the cigarette lighter outlet. It's a must for quick treatments as needed.

Clean and Green
    Charcoal is an age-old deodorizer. This deodorizing bag is filled with bamboo charcoal. Close it up in a closet, drawer, unused ice chest or other small space. Then put it out in the hot sun to “recharge”.

Upholstery and Carpet Odors
    I believe in professional cleaning for RV upholstery and carpeting, usually about once a year.  Professionals also offer deep cleaning plus extras such as allergy treatment or stainproofer coatings. In between professional treatments, a good product for the do-it-yourselfer is made by Turtle Wax. This carpet and upholstery product cleans, deodorizes and leave a protective silicone shield.

Summing Up
    Whether it’s removing,  neutralizing or covering up the odor. read labels to get the right product for the job.  Follow label directions and precautions for humans and pets. Shop RV, boating or automotive suppliers for products formulated for RV use. They are safer for RV materials and often give you a bonus, such as UV protection, that household cleaners don’t have.  

See Janet Groene's RV-ready recipes at 

Friday, October 28, 2016

RV Women Act Your Age

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My friend, Betsy, is a camper and her husband is not. She packs up the kids and her AARP spousal membership, and enjoys discounts at age 42!

Arrive alive at 55....

RV Age Dis-Scream-ination

    No, this isn’t about a 55 mph speed limit. It’s about, ahem, your age. Don’t stop reading if you think you’re too young to score a senior discount.  There are surprises waiting  for you at the corner of RV Road and Haviture Way.

    Let’s start with well-known RV and travel discounts you may already be using. The familiar Senior Pass is issued by the U.S. government to citizens ages 62 and over. (It replaces the old Golden Age Passport, which was retired in 2007). For only $10 you get discounts for entry and camping at Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife, National Park Service, US Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites. 

    These cards must be applied for in person. That’s easily done the first time you visit any of these parks. You must show proof of age and the card is non-transferable. In other words, you can’t use your husband’s card if he’s 62 and you’re younger. Nor can you claim widow benefits if he’s deceased or is not with you on this trip. If you still have an old Golden Passport,  it's good for your lifetime. No need to get a Senior Pass.

    Each state has its own senior discount program, so apply the first time you use a state park in your “home” state. (But prepared to show you’re a state resident and of the required age (usually 60 to 65).  If you spend most of your time in Florida but have a Texas driver’s license, the deal won’t work.  State park discounts are also available to  active or retired military and to people with certain handicaps depending on the state. 

    Let’s dig deeper to find savings for the younger woman.
    Age isn’t a factor in camping clubs and memberships (but Escapees get a discount on dues for retired military.). Some campground memberships costs thousands of dollars but allow you to camp cheaply at high-end camping resorts. However, memberships are another story for another day

     Other clubs cost only a few dollars a year, which is supposed to give you a discount of up to 50 percent at “participating” campgrounds. I joined one once, only to find that member campgrounds were few and far between. The savings were not worth the extra miles I had to drive to use them. And, after detouring 12 miles to to one of them,  I learned that it had been turned into a nudist camp. The discount no longer applied and I was rudely turned away. 

     Before paying up front for any such deal, decide if their “participating” campgrounds are in areas you want to travel. Then check ahead to verify that they are still “participating”. 

    AARP membership is available to people aged 50 and over, and discounts apply to a spouse of any age. My friend, Betsy, is a camper and her husband is not. She packs up the kids and her AARP spousal membership, and enjoys discounts at age 42! 

    Of course, AARP discounts aren’t available at all campgrounds but that brings me to the bottom line for all senior discounts. It is  ASK, ASK, ASK.  

    Senior discounts are offered by countless restaurants, campgrounds, auto repair places, hair salons, dog groomers, ad inf. However, they may not be published or posted, and they won’t risk making you mad by asking if you want it. So you have to ask. 

    Be prepared to show proof or age or, worse still, be embarrassed. I took Mother to lunch at a fast food place and asked the cashier about a senior discount. She shouted across the room to the boss, “Hey, do we offer a senior discount ?” Everyone in the place looked my way.  I laugh about it now but at the time I was red faced!

    AAA membership is available at any age and it qualifies you for a discount at some campgrounds as well as many restaurants and other places. Keep the list of participating businesses handy as you travel. I ate at one popular fast food chain for years before realizing I could have been claiming my AAA discount. 

    It’s a wide, wonderful world out there for RV travelers of any age. Let’s GO.
See Janet Groene’s RV-ready  recipes at

Friday, October 21, 2016

Your RV Makeover

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    It’s smart to have a reserve fund for upgrades to your motorhome. Sometimes you just have a yen for something new. Other times, the upgrade is required right now, like if the refill station refuses to refill your propane tank because it’s rusty or damaged. (It’s the law).
    Here’s how an upgrade might fit into your budget.

    Mini-blinds take a beating from highway motion and strong sunrays. They may need replacing every few years. Standard sizes cost about $35 to $90 and up each. Installation can add $50 or more. 

    Upgrade to heated, remote-control rear view mirrors for about $350. 

    A Patio awning can be added for $900 to $2,000 or more depending on size, material and the complexity of the mechanism. Installation adds about $100 to the cost of a simple, hand-cranked  awning and $200 or more to the price of a pushbutton awning with wind sensor and automatic retraction. If you need replacement for the fabric only, get quotes from two or three awning specialists. 

    Patio mats pay for themselves in good looks while keeping sand and debris out of your RV. Buy an all-weather, lightweight, reversible, folding mat to carry in the RV  for under $200. This one comes with its own carry case. Sweep or hose it clean, fold and stow.

    Privacy matters.  Even when your computer firewall is secure, it does not mask your personal  IP address and location. For additional cyber privacy, get an IP address you can set up to make it look like you're somewhere else. Hide My IP costs less than $30 and you can change your “address” every day if you want. Click on the ad at right below to see how it works. 

    Sleep better. Get a memory foam RV size mattress topper. 

     Toilet upgrade. Many RV johnnies are on the small size or low profile or both. Change up to  this taller, larger toilet for only $122. 

    A tow dolly  allows you to tow a car behind the motorhome, two wheels down. Prices start at about $1,200. It's so convenient, and it saves fuel dollars to leave the RV in camp and have a car for errands and sightseeing.   
    Tire covers take a beating from the sun while saving your tires. Get new ones for  $22 to $38 a set.

    Windshield wraps  keep the RV cooler inside and provide privacy. Get a bright, new white one here.

See  easy recipes for RV cooking and the campground at