RV Days, Issue #014– Balloons to Branson & Questions from Readers

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RV Days, Issue #014– Balloons to Branson & Questions from Readers
November 12, 2006
Here is this month’s issue of RV Days, where we focus on everyday living and having fun on your journey.

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Issue #14
November 12, 2006

Issue 14 of RV Days is Now Available

In this Issue:

  • Up, Up and Away
  • From Balloons to Branson
  • Quiet Times in the Ozarks
  • Questions from our Readers

Click here to read this issue

Up, Up and Away:

At the time our last issue was published in early October, we were headed for the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque New Mexico. While we didn’t have the greatest weather, we did have a fine time! We had never been to this event before, so we didn’t know what to expect of the standard RV parking we had chosen. We are glad to report that the location worked out just great.

We were close enough to walk to Fiesta Park, where the event was held. And there was also a free shuttle bus that transported RVers to and from the standard RV parking area to Fiesta Park. This was dry camping for about $24/night…no bargain, but better than paying the $45 – $125/night fees just to have a hook up or closer location. And staying in your own RV within walking distance and a free shuttle is much better than staying in an RV park further away and then having to drive and pay for parking or the Park & Ride system.

In addition to the fantastic Balloon Ascensions, there was a lot of great entertainment. We recommend the Balloon Fiesta as a fun destination for RVers, whether traveling individually, with friends, or as a group.

In addition to the events held at Balloon Fiesta, there is plenty to do and see in this part of New Mexico.

From Balloons to Branson:

Once we left Albuquerque, we were on a road trip over to Amarillo and across Oklahoma to Missouri. We did not make many stops on this leg of our journey, as we were headed to the outskirts of St. Louis to visit friends. We did overnight in Amarillo and visited the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, just south of Amarillo on the campus of West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. This is a worthwhile museum and you can easily spend a day. It has exhibits about the history and people of the Plains, transportation, dinosaurs, petroleum, art galleries and more.

Our friends were familiar with St. Louis, so we got a bit of a driving our through the city. We saw the famous Arch, the new stadium and the beautiful mosaic tile at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
We also visited the Missouri Botanical Garden when they had a great exhibit of glasswork by artist Dale Chihuly on display.

And then we were off to Branson, where we spent two weeks with plenty to do. We highly recommend a visit to Silver Dollar City, and be sure to get the two-day pass, as you’ll need the time to see everything. If you are headed there this time of year, they will have all the holiday lights up as part of their Old Time Christmas celebration, and it is supposed to be a fantastic display.

We visited Silver Dollar City during the Festival of American Music & Crafts, celebrating the Glory Days of the American Cowboy. We danced to a couple bands at the Barn Dance, heard Roy Rogers Jr. and saw a bunch of shows ranging from country to bluegrass to Cajun to ragtime piano. In addition to the many shows, there are exhibits, shops, food stands and an amusement park.

Elsewhere in Branson are over 100 shows and other attractions. We saw six shows and enjoyed a great RV park. As you know if you have been following our travels, we are frugal in our recreational spending – so we have a few tips for how to save money while visiting Branson.

Quiet Times in the Ozarks:

After our busy social life in Branson, we headed into Arkansas for a week’s stay near Shirley/Fairfield Bay. We enjoyed our stay in one of our Happy Camper parks. We got a warm welcome from Vicki at the Golden Pond RV Park . We happened to be here when the Arkansas Camper Dancers were having a monthly camping meet — so we had a chance to watch them square dance and joined one of their line dance sessions.

We found a few trails nearby to take a few long walks in the woods, crunching through autumn leaves amidst the fall foliage of the Ozarks. And when we got a couple days of off-and-on rain, it was a welcome excuse to just hang around the house doing this and that. I got a chance to make a new batch of spaghetti sauce and some soup. Jose fixed a bicycle tire and did the equivalent of puttering around in the garage (if we had a garage). We polished all the woodwork. Watched some old movies and daytime TV. We took advantage of the free WiFi connection to use the Internet and catch up on email. Exciting, huh?

We mention these mundane activities as a reminder that fulltime RVers are not on a vacation all the time. Certainly we get to see a lot more than many people in stationary homes, but we also spend days at a time doing everyday things that need to be done and just chilling out in our fulltime RV home.

NEW! RV Campground Basics DVD

When you purchase an RV, where to go and what to do when you get there can be confusing until you have a few RV trips under your belt. There is a lot to learn about public & private campgrounds and RV Parks, and the more you know, the better your camping experiences will be. How do you find RV campgrounds, parks and resorts? Should you make reservations before leaving on a trip? How do you register when you arrive at the campground? What kind of site should you request? Do you need a partial hook up or a full hook up? How do you set the RV up at the campground? What does campground etiquette mean? How do you determine the right camping club or camping network for you? This DVD, by Mark Polk of RV Education 101, answers all of these questions and much more. Check out this newest addition, and all the other helpful RVing DVDs and Videos.

Questions from our Readers:

We often receive questions from site visitors, readers of RV Days, or people we meet in our travels. So we thought we would share a few.

  1. Question: I am a first time RVer and am not sure what to look for when purchasing one for the first time. Also, is there an advantage to buying new, or am I ok looking at used RVs?

    Answer: As you might expect, there is no quick or easy answer to your question. There are advantages to buying new and to buying used. The best advice we can give you is to carefully consider your individual circumstances – in other words, begin at the beginning. Consider who will be traveling in your RV, where you will go, if you will RV occasionally or often, how you envision spending your days while RVing, your own budget and so on. We mention numerous things to consider on our website, Your RV Lifestyle, and we can’t overemphasize the importance of this step. Not only does it help you sort through the tradeoffs of buying new vs. used, it also helps you to narrow down your preferences for type of RV (motorhome, 5th wheel, trailer, etc.).

    When we bought our motorhome, we looked at both new and used. We ended up buying new, but the deciding factors centered on finding a rig that would suit our planned RV lifestyle at a price we could afford. If we had found a used RV that fit our needs as well, we probably would have bought used. And before we ever seriously went looking for an RV, we had spent a lot of time doing research – reading books, going to RV shows and dealers to look at the various models and brands, and renting an RV to try things out.

    In a nutshell, the biggest advantage to buying a pre-owned RV is price. You may be able to get more for your money. New RVs start depreciating once they leave the lot. Shop wisely and patiently and you may find a good price on a well-equipped late model used RV.

    One of the potential pitfalls of buying used is that you might get stuck with someone else’s problems. On the other hand, you may benefit from someone else “breaking in” the RV and working out any bugs. In this regard, know what to look for and who you are buying from. Make sure you have any pre-owned RV inspected. Take the time to read some of the books on this subject. This is a big investment – whether you buy used or new. It’s worthwhile to be informed.

  2. Question: My wife and I love to RV and we have traveled extensively across the US, but we have not yet made a trip up to Canada. Have you traveled there and if so could you suggest some places to see that are RV friendly?

    Answer: Canada is a huge country with many wonderful places to visit. Personally, we have only scratched the surface. Our very first RV vacation was to Canada, in a rented Class C motorhome. We toured Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, and made a brief stop to see the Hopewell Rocks at the Bay of Fundy. We loved this trip and would highly recommend visiting the Maritimes.

    Our second foray into Canada was to Montreal and Quebec. We were there for the Montreal Jazz festival. While jazz predominates, we also found a variety of music and a number of free outdoor performances. This is a great destination if you enjoy live jazz/music — just be prepared for an urban environment and lots of crowds. Aside from the Jazz Festival, both Montreal and Quebec offer cultural and historical sights, museums and fine food. Don’t miss the Walled City of Quebec. We stayed in RV parks on the outskirts of the cities. We learned to use the Montreal subway, which was a good way to get around. We drove into downtown Quebec, found a parking garage and then toured the city on foot.

    We still have a lot of Canada to discover and look forward to visiting other provinces. British Columbia is at the top of our list. Alberta and the famous Calgary Stampede also come to mind. When we get ready to plan our next Canada RV trip, we expect to start our research with the RV Travel to Canada e-book, which has lots of tips, info on logistics and links to travel planning resources. We will probably start our research on campgrounds via the internet, but will validate our findings with the ratings in the major campground directories.

    One thing we know for sure, we’ll allow as much time as possible to appreciate all there is to see and do.

    Read more RV tips.

    A plus for Motorhoming
    Many RVers grapple with the question of motorhome vs. fifth-wheel. We know we did, as we pondered and planned for our fulltime RV lifestyle. We think there are advantages to both types of RV. One consideration that we now take for granted is our membership in FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association). This is a great organization that provides numerous benefits and support to its motorhoming members. Their annual rallies are always packed full with nightly entertainment, lots of educational seminars, workshops, a variety of vendors and manufacturers reps, and so on. And the rallies are reasonably priced! Add to that a bunch of other benefits — such as mail forwarding, emergency medical evacuation, discounts, local chapters, trip routing, etc. — and a great magazine. We wouldn’t think of not being part of FMCA.

    Holidays are right around the corner. Time to start coming up with some gift ideas. And be sure to check out Your RV Lifestyle Store.

    Get ready to be organized in the coming year. The RVer’s Notebook helps you manage costs, keep track of where you have been and what you enjoy. Check out this handy software package to help manage all sorts of RVing things.

    The happy blogger:

    Throughout all of our adventures and misadventures, Hiker Happy has been a great companion. He doesn’t complain, makes few demands and is always smiling!

    NEW! You can add our site updates to your “My Yahoo” page (or My MSN or Google home page), or add our feed to your RSS reader. Here’s how.

    Until next time, hoping you Put a Smile in Every Mile!

    Jose and Jill

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