Friday, December 7, 2018

Should You Join an RV Club?


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The Joy of Joining

    Confused about the many RV clubs out there? The list is like a Chinese restaurant menu, a wonderful profusion of great choices. You’ll want one from Column A, two from Column B and maybe  more to make a balanced meal of RV travel and RV camping. 

    Some clubs are purely social. There’s one for every interest from Jewish singles or Christian volunteers to musicians, veterans, full-timers, single parents and owners of a particular brand of RV.


     Some groups  such as the Family Motor Coach Association, (FMCA.org)  based in Cincinnati, provide great get-togethers plus invaluable services such as insurance, roadside assistance, mail forwarding, a slick monthly magazine,  discounts on campsites and tires, communications and many other goods and services. In addition to the national organization and its exciting rallies, there are hundreds of local and regional chapters including one near you.
    Once open only to owners of motorhomes, membership is now open to all types of RV’s.

    Memberships in the Good Sam Club (goodsam.com/club) start at only $29 a year. The club offers discounts on goods and services such as propane refills and dump stations and optional products such as roadside assistance and RV insurance. It has been around for generations, has chapters for all locations and interests and has more than two million members.

    Membership in Escapees, based in Livingston, Texas, (escapees.com) is a lifeline for full-timers and others who spend a lot of time in their RV’s. The group has its own campgrounds including retirement facilities with health care for long-time full-timers who come to the end of the road. If you plan to make RVing a permanent lifestyle, membership is essential.

    There is probably also a club for your RV by brand name. A long list of brands  range from Airstream to Winnebago (called WIT for Winnebago/Itasca).  When you're sitting around the campfire, shooting the breeze with other owners of rigs like yours,  you gain valuable insights into what works, what wears out and how to repair this or that. There are also groups for vintage campers or “orphan” RV brands. Special groups are just for truck campers or 5th wheelers. 

Buyer beware: club dues can be high, so know exactly what you’ll get for your membership money. If none of the club's  “discount” campgrounds are in places you want to go, or rallies are a high-priced rip-off, or membership puts you on a mail list that constantly peppers you with spam, or you have to drive 20 miles out of your way to get the member price on propane or a dump station, club  “benefits” lose their luster.


   

RV-ing Women, rvingwomen.org. is a vibrant national organization (all of USA plus eastern Canada) that has rallies, a big national convention once a year, and a long list of local and regional events for fun, networking and learning.

You can join just the national organization or one or more chapters. Chapters are based on geography. There's also one for women who travel alone and another for women who live in the RV full-time. No matter where you live there’s a chapter near you and perhaps two or more. Illinois women, for example, might go with the Ohio River , Lyte Hearts or Mid-America chapters. Tennesseans are handy to the Ohio River or Mid-Atlantic chapters.

Memberships, which is open to all campers including RV-ers and  tenters,  start at $62 a year plus a $10 processing fee the first year. The fee schedule allows for multi-year and multi-person discounts. Their 2019 national convention will be in Tucson. 

   Hundreds of blogs and websites now vie for the RV woman's eyeballs. Most are free; some come with a modest subscription cost. Embrace as many as you have time for, but reach out too for the real value in getting together over s’mores with real, live RV  folks like yourself.  

Need a quick recipe to cook in your RV?  See new meal ideas each week at https://campandrvcook.blogspot.com

Friday, November 30, 2018

Free Camping: Is It For Your?


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Free Campsites, Reality or Illusion?

    RV camping can be expensive, cheap or free but here’s where some tough decisions come into the picture, especially if you’re a woman traveling alone. Hook-ups, facilitiesm activities and security have a a price tag, usually in money but sometimes in a trade-off for goods or services.
    On the other hand, some free and inexpensive campsites-- in national forests and BLM lands for example--, offer a scenic spectacle that money can’t buy.


    Here are some options:

    Boondocking is a general term for camping with no hook-ups. It can range from parking in a friend’s back yard to membership in an organization that offers free sites. It’s also another name for staying overnight in a Walmart parking lot or truck stop (with permission.)
    I especially like a group called boondockerswelcome.com. For a small fee you have access to private homes that have space, and sometimes one or more hookups, for self-contained RV’s. In exchange you offer the same at your house if possible. 

      Note that this is not a social visit. Don’t expect access to the house or any facilities. Although members might invite you in for coffee, this is primarily a place to park an RV for one night. It’s a lifesaver when you’re going from here to there, and just need a place to sleep.

    Campground Memberships are similar to a time share. You can stay at any member campground for free or very low cost. There’s usually a large investment to buy in, and a limit on how long you can stay at each camp.  Memberships can be a good investment for full-timers.




Is  it your dream to retire early, get a home on wheels and travel carefree for life, earning a living as necessary along the way? I did. My book Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition,  tells the whole story. 

    Resort Campgrounds can be very costly but they have all the features of a grand hotel such as tennis, spa, restaurants and more. You can pay almost $200 a night to camp at Fort Wilderness in Walt Disney World in high season, yet there’s nothing quite like it.  Most resort camping is under $100 a night plus such extras as greens fees.

    Public Lands include lands managed by the U.S. Forestry Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which offer many free campsites. These sites have few facilities if any.  sometimes nothing more than permission to overnight there  Some state, county and city public lands and parks may also offer free overnight parking. To find them takes time and research.
     Try a Google search for Free Camping + Name of City, County or State. Also a Google Search for WMA+Name of State for Wildlife Management Areas.
    Camping on public lands and state parks for free or fee is usually limited to 14 days.

More Sources:
    * Bureau of Land Management, blm.gov
    * U.S. Forest Service, www.fs.fed.us

Coping: Know before you go. Is the site long enough? Wide enough? Flat enough?  Drive-though? Any hookups are available? Where is in in relation to where you want to go?
    Make sure you know exactly where it is, not just according to GPS, which can be unreliable in wilderness areas. Roads may not be suitable for large rigs, tows, winter weather, or flood seasons.
    If you’re traveling alone and rely on cell phone service, make sure it’s available.

Friday, November 23, 2018

RV Women Love Books and Book Stores

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RV Travel for Readers

Most book stores have sections where kids can read

    Many RV travelers build each trip around a theme such as “collecting” Civil War sites or genealogy research or antiquing or visiting the biggest and best discount malls. I’m a bookworm.
     Here’s an itinerary for book lovers. It’s in Southeast Florida, the place to be this winter for sunshine, seacapes and wonderful campgrounds. For book lovers this trip is a true pilgrimage to an endangered species: the independent bookseller


    Call ahead to verify that the store is still open, and its hours. If you're driving a motorhome, ask about parking. These are more than book stores. They are destinations.
 


Fifteenth Street Books
Enter the 1925 building and see every wall, window and corner has a wooden shelf filled with beautifully bound books. Although the bookstore specializes in the arts, there are many exquisite gems, such as incredibly intact first editions, which are kept behind glass, 15th century books in Latin, a complete leather-bound Italian encyclopedia and autographed Hemingway novels. Not only do they sell history but the store is historic in itself, as it's a Coral Gables landmark.
296 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables 305-442-2344; fifteenthstreetbooks.com


From first editions to 25-cent paperbacks, books and dogs are the best friends to have with you in your RV travels.

Dunbar Old Books
A simple warehouse door takes you inside a world of books and more books. Although the store has been there for ten years, it's one of those well-kept Miami secrets. See used books on every subject, especially animals, plants and history. Choose from a large selection of religious books and shelves of hard-cover classics.  Take a chair and take your time to read, browse, shop, drool.
7061 SW 46 St., Miami 305-669-8719; dunbarbooks.com

Downtown Book Center
The little bookstore always has the latest bestsellers as well as a large choice of books from Latin America on politics, art and travel. The store also carries European newspapers and magazines,  and religious books in English and Spanish.
247 SE 1st St., Miami 305-377-9939



La Moderna Poesia
This charming little store in Little Havana has Latino classics and new Hispanic authors as well as some books in French and Italian.
5739 NW 7th St., Miami 305-262-1975



Avalon Manga Shop
 Avalon is THE place for collectors of comic books, manga novels and trading cards as well as books about them. In the cyber section are computer games and tournaments. It's also a good place to meet other anime addicts.
20321 Old Cutler Rd, Miami 305-255-6900; avalonmangashop.com

West Kendall Bookshelf
This trading bookstore has the largest section of sci-fi in Miami plus romance and mystery paperbacks for half price, sometimes cheaper. Trade in your old books. If you're looking for something special, they'll save it for you.
12558 N. Kendall Dr., Miami 305-596-5353 www.kendallbookshelf.com

Spellbound Books and Gifts
Coffee and a comfy couch add up to bookstore heaven in the old section of historic Homestead. The book clubs meets once a month and there are regular reading sessions for children.
107 N Krome Ave., Homestead 305-247-5097; allthebestbooks.com


 

Books and Books
This icon was founded by Mitchell Kaplan,  co-founder of the blockbuster Miami International Book Fair. Locations are in Coral Gables, Lincoln Road and Bal Harbour and the Cayman Islands). Choose from a gigantic selection of books, coffees and foods. Bring kids for the children's events.
Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 305-442-4408. 933 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; 305-532-3222; 9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour; 305-864-4241
 

Spend the rest of your life traveling in a fully self-contained home on wheels. Not yet retired? Earn as you go. I did. Book tells all. Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition (Be sure to get the 4th edition, which has information on earning a living on the go.)

  

Friday, November 9, 2018

Cool Tools for RV Women (and Men too)


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Ms. Fix-It

  Here are some ideas for tools to carry in your RV. Even if you don’t use them yourself they  may be needed when people stop to help you on the highway or in the campground.

Tools to Carry 
 
    * A hatchet and small saw for wood for the campfire (where allowed). Fireplaces gloves are a plus handling the Dutch oven and other campfire tasks.


  
 


 




    * A tire pump or small compressor for bicycle tires and other inflatable items such as an air mattress or blow-up boat.  This small compressor is a good compromise size, small enough to be easily stowed yet  large enough to fill tires, air mattress, inflatable boat. Works in RV cigarette lighter. https://amzn.to/2yUdqWL


    * A sturdy broom is handy for sweeping the cement pad that comes with most RV campsites. Camping and boating supply stores sell a cleaning “system” that consists of one long handle that can be used with broom, soft scrub brush, mop and squeegee attachments.


* A folding shovel. Not your father’s army shovel, this is the Swiss Army Knife of shoveldom. It comes with extension handles and accessories for multiple uses. It's well worth carrying. You'll find many uses for it.
 

  * A clothesline and spring clothespins. Even though many campgrounds prohibit outdoor clotheslines, rope comes in handy for many things. Clothes pins do pinching tasks such as closing the potato chip bag. 



    *  If you have room for a metal rake  (not a flimsy plastic leaf rake) , it’s a nice tool for cleaning up the campsite . This adjustable rake has steel tines and it can be splayed out for raking  leaves or tightened up to clean up the firepit. 






When You Deal with
 Repair and Maintenance Professionals
   
    Honest mechanics are worth their weight in gold. Solid gold are mechanics who specialize in the exact brand of RV or chassis your RV is built on. The same goes for professionals who work in the “house” part of your RV: electricians, carpenters, plumbers, upholsterers, cabinetmakers, ad inf.  They must be familiar with RV electrical and plumbing systems, which are different from household.

    If possible, have work done at large, RV repair centers that work only with RV’s.  Skills required for household repairs are different because houses don’t move. Better still, check with your RV manufacturer to see if it has its own repair station(s). They’re worth a special trip across country when you need a major repair, replacement or re-do.



    If your RV is a towable ( travel trailer or fifth wheel)  or if your motorhome tows a car or boat,  have hitch work done by a hitch specialist who can make the strongest,  safest match for both RV and the tow vehicle. When it’s time to replace or rotate tires, go to a tire specialist who works on trucks and other big vehicles.

    No matter who or what you’re dealing with, know your warranty rights to the letter and make sure you get the benefits you’re entitled to. Repeated repairs for the same thing may come under  “lemon laws”, but these laws differ by state. Too, they are usually designed for autos,  so they may not apply to an RV.  have a look at lemon laws at  http://www.carlemon.com.

For easy camping recipes for couples, families or potlucks see
http://www.CampAndRVcook.blogspot.com

Friday, November 2, 2018

RV Women Shoes You Can Use

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Shoes to Fuse with Your RV Life



This post is dedicated to Wanda Ferragamo, who recently died in Italy at the age of 96. When her husband died in 1960, leaving her with six children ages two and up, she took over her husband’s desk at the shoe factory and continued the tradition of shoemaking excellence. Made from the finest leather and timelessly Italian in style, Ferragamos are a lifetime investment for travelers. 


    What woman does NOT need more shoes?  We need shoes for all seasons plus hiking boots, dress-up shoes and perhaps ski boots, waders, cross trainers.    Space is limited in an RV, so here are ways to have shoes that look good, work with RV life night and day, and are also good for your feet.

Driving Shoes give your feet more feel for the ride. That means better fuel mileage, better control and soft, supple comfort on long drives. A British study found that 27% of drivers admitted they’d had driving difficulties because of the shoes they were wearing and 5% actually had accidents blamed on shoes. 


    Driving shoes are supple and only as thick as they must be, allowing you a better feel for the pressure you’re putting on pedals. Width should be no more than you need for a good fit because too wide a sole could catch on the gas when you want the brake.  I like these shoes for bicycling too, although a serious biker will probably want dedicated biking shoes made by bicycle gear suppliers such s GIRO.

    Race drivers and other experts say high heels are a special problem because they keep you from judging pedal action and pressure.Spike heels can get caught in carpeting or floor protectors. Platform wedgies are also a no-no for driving because of the thick soles and high heels.


If you don't need hi-tops these mid-height hikers are a good choice. They provide ankle support and total foot protection
Hiking shoes or boots should fit snug at the heel with plenty of wiggle room at the toes, say the expert at backpacker.com. To that the experts at REI add “tight nowhere.” It’s a tall order, so get your fit towards the end of the day when your feet are larger than in the morning. Try them on with the socks you plan to wear with them and, when traveling, always have a least one spare pair of these socks so you’ll always have dry socks to change into.  

Dress shoes. Black pumps are as essential as the little black Coco Chanel dress that’s basic to most women’s wardrobes. Whether they are ballerina flats or the highest spike heels, we get longer wear out of basic pumps that are not too pointy, not too snub-nosed and are closed at heel and toe. You can always dress them up with clip-on bows or bangles. 

Special find! Take a look at these all-weather, wedge heel Neoprene dress flats above. They're made with smart, London Fog styling. Wear them anywhere, even dressier occasions. 


Specialty shoes. What are your special needs in footwear?  There is a shoe for you. Need a hard-to-find shoe size? Want to take up tap dancing?  Ballroom dancing? Many RV-ers plan their trips around square dancing or clogging.  Do you need high-tops for basketball or volleyball? Golf shoes? Bowling shoes? Ski boots? Waders for fly fishing?  Need snake boots for the terrain where you hike? Go for it!


Buttons, bows and socks. Here’s where you can go wild with colors, rhinestones and other clip-on trims for shoes as well as whimsical socks to suit the season, the occasion or outfit. Socks come in many colors and patterns including holiday motifs and team colors.





  * Versaility plus! These active cross trainers, also called water shoes, have drainer ports in the sole. Perfect for women on the go.

Friday, October 26, 2018

RV Camp Free or Fee at Quartzite, Airzona

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 Quartzite and the Solo RV Woman 

 

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In the RV world, Quartzite is shorthand for the world capital of boondocking (camping with no hookups)  on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) property. But is it for YOU?



    Quartzite is actually a small town in Arizona where a huge area is available for dry camping. It’s also a place where big gem and mineral swap meets occur each year. 


    Melanie Cullen, vice president of operations and marketing at Blue Sky Energy (blueskyenergyinc.com) is an expert in solar energy technology, especially as it applies to RV’s. She is also a Quartzite veteran who first began camping there with her parents. Reporting on what’s there for the solo woman RVer she says, “That partly depends on how you like to camp. There are some RV type ‘parks’ that are mostly just RV’s next to each other nearer town with hookups. There are a few actual nice parks too with some amenities


    “Most of us just dry camp out on the BLM lands for a small fee. We stay at the area called Las Posas North, and it is a first-come,  first grab your little piece of desert. People are generally friendly, so I can see if you walked by a few circle of rigs or lone ones too, you can strike up conversation and get invited to a campfire.


    “Many groups go as well, and I can imagine there is one for traveling females alone. If not in a park with attached sewer, but on the BLM or even some of the parks with electrical, you would need to drive to a dump station. They have them in the BLM area and its free or for pay at the RV parks.


    “It is easy to ride a bike around the town,if camping at Las Posas North or South or one of the local RV parks. There are many swap meets that don’t require a partner to shop with. Often, my husband and I split up as I want to linger ‘way longer than he does in my areas of interest and he lingers in all the tool places. I only linger in the tool places to buy my annual bag of gardening gloves. They are really cheap so I buy a bag of about 20 each year to get me by. I love all the rocks and minerals in the raw and always buy some for my yard each year. There is lots of inexpensive jewelry and also some nice stuff too. A number of places specialize in fossils, whether it is something for display or bowls, plates, sinks, etc made out of polished fossil rock. There are yard items, old junk yard items and I have always maintained that if you can’t find it at Quartzsite, it probably doesn’t exist!



    “We started camping in Quartzsite about 16 yrs ago, generally with my Mom and Dad’s group of friends. We have had a few of our friends from time to time join us as well. As time passed on, so have most of the original group of my parents friends (including my Mom). We were down to three rigs this year including us so next year I am emailing everyone I know that might want to join us to get our own ‘old geezers group’ going. You would be more than welcome to join us and I will add you to my list for when I send out a date reminder in the fall.



    “There are plenty of nice hiking areas. They’re still desert but pretty in their own way. I wouldn’t recommend anyone going out (on the desert alone)  unless they told someone where they were going. There is a lot of desert without a lot of people and you could get stuck out in the middle of nowhere. I think single travel is partly how a person likes to travel and how much they want to meet new people vs. enjoying their own time to themselves. It could certainly work out either way.” 


Fall and Winter 2018-19, Quartzite, a Sampling
    Many events come and go. Some stay all season. This is one sizzling place to spend fall and winter. Here are just a few of the many, many events.

 
Tyson Wells Market Centre Swapmeet. Now thru 3/31/2019

Buck Connor Days, November 9, 2018 – November 11, 2018 Quartzsite Town Park.
Rice Ranch Y'all Come Show. 11/1/2018 - 4/1/2019
Quartzite Showcase and Swap Meet, January 1- February 28

BLM Boondocking
 A two week pass costs $40; a season pass from September through April costs $180. There are also many areas to camp for free. Check rules BLM and free camping in Arizona and California. See  boondockingguide.com

Friday, October 5, 2018

When Your RV Meets a Mandatory Evacuation



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MANDATORY EVACUATION
    It can happen to anyone any time. Authorities tell you it’s time to leave your home or campsite and head for safety because of a storm, flood, fire, chemical spill or other  emergency. 



    Lucky you if you have an RV! It means you can take your family including the baby, the  aged and handicapped plus  pets, food,  your own water supply and much more for family comfort and safety.

    Here are some thoughts on preparing your RV for a quick getaway.


 

Always Prepared
   

 *Full tanks (water plus fuel for the engine, stove, heat,  generator ) Empty gray and black water tanks.


    * An ample backup of shelf-stable food supplies. Don’t forget pet food, baby food, diapers and foods for those people with life-threatening allergies.  You don’t have to spend a fortune. Survival Food Handbook has lists, tips and recipes for many types of emergencies.


    * Copies of important papers such as medical records, prescriptions, financials, ID and credit cards, insurances, home business, family contact information. All it takes is a thumb drive or two. 


    * Cash including change and small denomination bills. There are times when only cash will do. 


    * First aid kit kept fresh and up to date. Written prescriptions for eyeglasses and essential meds that you may have to pick up as you go. Oxygen tank? EpiPen? 


    * Basic wardrobe for keeping clean, warm, cool, dry



Nice to Have
 

   * Alternate means of communication such as a  cheap prepay phone, ham radio, CB and/or walkie talkie. Alternate means of charging, such as a solar charter for the phone. 

    * Empty jerry cans for water and fuel. (Collapsible water jugs take up little space). Pumps and hoses may not be available.

Grab and Go
 

    * Essential medications
    * Phone
    * Fresh milk and any other essentials from the fridge that time and space allow
    * Spare keys (house, outbuildings, RV, post office box, safety deposit box)
    * Valuables as time and space allow.
    * Count noses. In a panic you don’t want to forget anyone or a pet. Remember McCauley Caulkin? 
    * Firearms if you use them

Here’s a Tip
    We rely to much on our smart phones, we may forget that someday we may need a street address, mail address or fax number. Make it a goal to fill in the blanks in your address book.