RV Days, Issue #019– A lot of ground

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RV Days, Issue #019– A lot of ground
February 15, 2008

Here is this month’s issue of RV Days, where we focus on everyday living and having fun on the journey.

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Issue #19
February 15, 2008

Issue 19 of RV Days is Now Available
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A lot of ground:

Since our last update, we’ve covered a lot of ground. Our travels took us up into some eastern U.S. mountains, into Florida, across the Gulf Coast, to the Hill Country of Texas, across southern New Mexico to our current location in Arizona. Along the way, we hit a few popular sightseeing stops, visited with family, took care of annual doctor visits and worked at a few RV shows.

Some of our stops may capture your interest as you plan your next trip or vacation. After leaving Hershey, PA, we drove Skyline Drive, stopped for a few days in Virginia and took in historic Monticello – very worthwhile..

From there, our trip highlights include hiking and scenic drives in the Great Smoky Mountains, great fun and gospel at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge and Nashville’s diverse sampling of country sounds and Music City legends. More about these great Tennessee RV destinations.

After our Tennessee travels, we were off to Florida to visit family , get some annual RV service work done, and to work at the RV SuperShow in Tampa. Around the holidays, it has become pretty typical that we make a Florida RV trip.

Then we made the trek northward, across the Florida panhandle and the Gulf Coast and through Texas. This was the first time that we traveled across the mid-section of Texas. Like most people heading east to west across the Lone Star State, we were a bit taken aback when we saw the first exit sign and realized we would be counting down from Exit 879. But we had about a week to make the trip and had planned to see a few sights along the way, such as the Escapee’s Rainbow Park and CARE Center, a couple of our Thousand Trails Parks in Texas and San Antonio. As a bonus, we also discovered the Cowboy Capital of the World.

Another lesson learned:

So now we are back in the southwest. Another lesson learned along the way – don’t drive in heavy wind. Actually we already knew this, and had heard the stories of RV damage caused by the wind. But before we realized how windy it was, we found ourselves caught between exits on Interstate 10 in New Mexico. The gusts got up into the rolled-up awning and the fabric started unfurling as we drove along the highway. We stopped to check things out and quickly realized that it would be impossible to do anything from where we were parked on the shoulder, wind practically knocking us over and passing trucks whizzing by.

So we prayed and crossed fingers and thankfully made it to the next exit 15 miles away. In a Wal-Mart parking lot, we were able to adequately secure the torn awning until we could get to a service facility. With things battened down, we hunkered down between the other RVs who had sought refuge at Wal-Mart, and stayed put for the night and until the winds diminished.

We will be having the awning repaired soon. The damage is an inconvenience and unnecessary expense, but it could have been a lot worse. As we kick ourselves for being on the road that day, we can only suggest strongly – don’t drive in heavy wind.

Back in step:

We are happy to be back in step in two ways. For one, we have been out hiking again, delighted to be back on the trails. And if you think we are glad, you should see Hiker Happy. For months now, he has been looking longingly at pictures of mountains and hiking boots.

So now he is …well you know, Happy! And even more so than ever, since he has the company of a new friend, Flat Sarina. Catch up on Hike’s adventures.

On another note, we’ve been lucky to find places to step out on the dance floor. We danced in Houston, Bandera, San Antonio and Tucson. And we found fantastic line dance lessons at the Escapee’s Saguaro Coop in Benson, Arizona. As fulltimers on the road, it can be difficult to find dancing venues. So we are thrilled when we find decent places to dance and especially intermediate-level line dance lessons.

In the News:

With the economy making headlines every day, one wonders about the impact on the RV industry. From at least one perspective, things seem pretty good. We recently received a message from J R Consumer Resources, highlighting some breaking news on the subject. Here is an excerpt from their article:

” So what about the RV manufacturing industry for 2008? J R Consumer Resources Inc. has published results from 2 leading manufacturers this week:

1. Thor – the world’s largest RV manufacturer – announced sales of $504 million for the quarter ended January 31, 2008 – up 3% from last year.
(And sales of RVs in general keep going up and up. 2006 for example had the highest number of RVs shipped to customers in the US – 390,000, the best annual total in 30 years – RVIA figures.)

2. Monaco Coach reported this week revenues of $1.3 billion for 2007 – equal to 2006 – with a profit of $140 million compared to $124 million in 2006 – up 13%. Chairman Kay Toolson said: “We feel the Fed’s recent interest rate cuts should help the RV market in the second half of 2008.”

No glum predictions for Monaco or Thor. And many retailers are making far from glum predictions:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that dealers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul RV Show (ending Feb. 10th) were “upbeat about sales prospects this spring and summer.” The Florida Pasco Tribune also reported this week that dealers say that “high gas prices and high interest rates haven’t slowed their RV businesses” and comment that with the baby boomer generation approaching retirement, dealers “expect the RV market to jump in the next few years.”

What does J R Consumer Resources think? We think as the Monaco chairman commented: “We believe that while some RV buyers may delay their purchasing decisions when times are uncertain, they rarely leave the RV lifestyle and can be expected to return to purchase a new RV when their confidence is restored.”

2008 is turning out to be a great time to buy an RV with low interest rates and large inventories, consumers are taking advantage of a buyers market.”

So maybe it’s time to think about buying an RV. And get the facts with their new 2008 RV Comparison Guide.

Safety first:

One of the most important things you can do to ensure a safe and enjoyable RV trip is to make sure you understand the subject of RV weight, and have your own rig weighed.

Today’s RVs have all sorts of modern conveniences. Things like washers and dryers, large holding tanks, multiple slides and large storage spaces to fill with great RVing gear. All of these mean more weight in the RV. Driving or towing an overloaded RV is a leading cause for RV accidents. The suspension system, tires, wheels, brakes, axles, and the RV itself all have weight ratings that should not be exceeded.
As they say, an ounce of prevention….

Where to start? By learning something about RV weight definitions and recommendations. Know what the terminology means and how to weigh your RV.

Smile for the Day:

The following is supposedly a true story relating to an actual guide and his response to questions.

Swiss mountain guides who always do the same trails can get tired answering the same questions over and over. One time an English tourist was giving his guide an especially hard time with silly questions. They were walking through a mountain valley that was strewn with rocks, and the traveler asked, “How did these rocks get here?”

“Sir,” said the guide, “they were brought down by a glacier.”

The tourist peered up the mountain and said, “But I don’t see any glacier.”

“Oh, really?” said the guide. “I guess it has gone back for more rocks.”

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

Jose and Jill

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