How Can Full-Timers Keep Fit on the Road?

It seems as though fulltime RVing has become more and more popular over the years. This is probably because we have all of the luxuries found in our homes in our RVs. Not to mention the advancements in technology that allow us to stay connected in the real world. There is, however, one thing missing from our RVs – a gym. Sure we’ve seen the real fancy RV interiors with treadmills that come down from the ceiling, but that sure seems like an expensive way to stay in shape. You’d also have to be all right with a repetitive workout.

So what are some good ways full-timers can stay fit on the road without breaking the bank? The first, and probably the most obvious, way to do this is outdoor activities at campground. Go for a morning or nightly walk. Venture out on a hike. Not only will you get in some quality exercise, you’ll also be able to view the scenery and get familiar with your campground.

A lot of RVers will bring along a second form of transportation on their RV trips, especially if you’re traveling in a toy hauler. If you don’t already own a bicycle, consider getting one to bring on the road. Cycling is an excellent form of exercise, and as I mentioned above, you can get familiar with the campground and scenery.

For those of you with children aboard, you may have a bit of a harder time getting them out to exercise. Not to worry though, there are now really fun video games that give you a great workout right inside of the RV. These games are not only made for kids either. Adults can have just as much fun and get the same great workout. There is one little downside to this method of exercise — you’ll have to buy the game console (Nintendo Wii or xBox Kinect). If you do decide to take this route, and I strongly recommend you do especially if you have younger ones aboard, you should check out these games.


WII Fit Plus

Wii Fit Plus uses a scale-like controller, It uses a Wii balance board which does the weight and calculates your body mass. You can customize your routine and work out on specific target areas. Has cool stuff like yoga and strength training.

 

Active Life: Outdoor Challenge

You run, you jump, you tilt, you pump your arms and before you know it, you’ll find yourself lying on the floor listening to your heart pump madly in your chest. This collection of energetic mini-games is a bit of a mixed bag in the fun department, but it will sure make you work, and you can play it with a friend.


Xbox 360 Kinect – Your Shape Fitness Evolved

This game talks you through and walks you through the exact movements you need to get in shape. When you type in your age, weight and habits it will make sure not to over do it on your work out.  It has things like Tai Chi and yoga.


Kinect Sports

Full body controller. Work out and have fun with your family!

 

So full-time Minnesota RV owners, how do you plan on keeping fit on the road?

7 Tips For Backing Up and Parking Your New RV

I ran into a friend of mine who purchased his first RV, a 2002 Forest River Georgetown, at the beginning of the summer. I hadn’t seen him since he made the purchase, and I was dying to know how his first few RV trips had gone. Come to find out… he hadn’t taken his new RV out once! I couldn’t believe it! When I asked him why, he was a little bit reluctant to tell me, but I finally got it out of him. He didn’t know how to back-up and park the RV. At first, I was shocked that this had kept him from using his beautiful, new home-away-from-home. But the more I thought about it, I realized that he was probably not alone with this fear.

If you’re a first-time RV owner, getting out on the road can seem a little scary.  After all, RVs drive a lot differently than your average four-door sedan.  Whether it’s a motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer, there are several things you should know about backing up and parking. I found seven excellent and helpful tips from the Fun Times Guide that I shared with him and would now like to share with you.

7 Tips For Parking & Backing Up RVs

#1  Stop right where you are, when you reach the point where you no longer have clear vision of where you want to go. Never attempt to move into tight quarters, if you can’t see all possible hazards.  That is, unless you have someone positioned where they can see the obstructions and they can warn you.  Your assistant must be positioned so they can see both you and the possible dangerous situation

#2  Avoid places that are impossible to get into, or nearly so. Don’t blindly pull into an unfamiliar driveway, dead end street, or parking lot that doesn’t have a second exit.

When you pull into shopping areas, stay out near the perimeter and chose your parking spot so that you can simply pull ahead to leave. Don’t go down the aisles of parked cars — because you’re likely to be making a sharp corner in a confined spot, when you get to the end of the aisle.

 

#3  Learn to rely on your mirrors. An RV isn’t like the family sedan. Looking over your right shoulder and down through the center of your motorhome or tow vehicle to back up won’t work. You have to rely on the image in your side mirrors.

Straight vehicles, without trailers, are pretty easy to back up — because a properly adjusted mirror should give you a view of the side all the way back to the rear bumper. As long as you can see daylight between your RV and the obstruction, you’re good.

 

#4  Set up temporary parking & driving patterns, using safety cones or milk jugs. Head out to a closed supermarket parking lot and set up your cones like a driveway or camping spot. Practice backing into those spots until you can do it without hitting any cones.

 

#5 Practice blind side parking. If your luck is like mine, more often than not you’ll end up backing into a campsite from the blind side with your trailer.

The blind side is the right (passenger) side of your vehicle. It’s known as the blind side because at some point, as you’re turning, your tow vehicle will no longer be in a straight line with your trailer.  You will no longer be able to see what’s happening on at least one side of your RV. This is where an outside helper is essential to keep you posted on your progress.

A trick I’ve used to increase my range of vision when backing around corners is to readjust my side mirrors at a different angle as I start making my turn. Most motorhomes, and many trucks, have electrically adjustable mirrors that you can control with a switch from the driver’s seat. Adjusting the mirrors, as you proceed through the corner, will give you a clear view most of the way.

 

#6  Never rely on rear vision cameras, because they’re pointed down toward the ground behind you and don’t give you a broad enough picture. There are overhead obstacles to be concerned about too.  Low-hanging branches, building overhangs, even sagging power lines can hook your RV. By far the best way to back into a tight spot is to have a person (or even 2) outside watching all the angles. Maneuver with your windows down, and instruct your helper to talk loud enough so you can clearly hear them. A set of inexpensive walkie talkies can be very handy for just this purpose.

 

#7  Use extreme caution when backing a motorhome with a tow vehicle attached. In fact, backing up with a toad (car) on a tow bar more than a foot or so is impossible. Since the steering axle of the car being towed is free to track wherever it wants, as soon as you start backwards it will immediately turn the wheels, causing extreme pressure to be applied to the front end components of your vehicle in tow.

Damage can occur, because you will be skidding the car sideways, with the front wheels turned all the way to the stops. If you need to back up when towing a car, just unhook the car first.  After you’re situated where you can go forward again, re-hook the tow bar. It’s the only safe way to do it.

[The Fun Times Guide]

Something else that can seem tricky at first is backing into a camping spot (especially if the two spots next to you are both occupied). There is a little trick, though, that some of us RV vets use called The Scoop. Once you nail this technique down, you’ll be pulling into camp spots like a pro. Check out this little illustration video showing exactly how it’s done. If you need any help at all with anything RV-related, don’t hesitate to give us a call or swing by.

 

The Boondocking Code of Ethics

For those of you new RV owners who may be unfamiliar with the term, boondocking, also known as dry camping or primitive camping is basically camping without the electic, sewer or water hookups.  There are generally two types of boondocking – blacktop and boonies – and there is a certain code of ethics associated with each one that we should follow. The general rule of thumb is to always leave the place nicer than it was when you got there. Let’s check out some other rules we should follow.

Blacktop boondocking is when you pos up in a parking lot (Wal-Mart, Casinos, etc.). The main appeal of this type of camping is the convenience and budget. Some places have actually passed bans on this type of boondocking. To make sure bans aren’t passed, RV clubs like The Escapees, have come up with their own code of ethics for blacktop boondocking. They have even gone far enough to post a print out of these rules that you can leave on offender’s vehicles.

Blacktop Boondocking Rules

1. DO obtain permission from a qualified individual. This way you’ll never have to worry if you are violating any sort of code or law.

2. DO try and park out of the way. Most of these parking lots are huge, and most likely there are spots way in the back that will be vacant.

3. DON’T use your awnings, chairs, or barbecue grill. These things tend to send the message that you are here to stay.

4. DON’T use slide-outs if at all possible for the same reason as mentioned above.

5. DON’T use your leveling jacks on asphalt.

6. DO try and limit your stay – one night is best, and two is the absolute maximum. We recommend staying two night only if you must.

7. DO purchase gas, food, or supplies as a way of saying “thank you”.

8. DO leave the area cleaner than you found it. This one is sometimes dificult for people to folllow, but think of it this way… you’re only helping blacktoppers reputation climb by cleaning up. Even if it’s after other’s.

9. DO practice safety precautions. This is important in any situation.

You can print out of these rules and then leave them on offender’s vehicles. Everyone should know proper boondocking etiquette.

[The Escapees]

Now let’s switch gears and take a look at the guidelines we should follow for boondocking in the boonies. As you can probably guess from its name, this type of boondocking is done out in the wilderness. A lot of campers do this purely for the wilderness experience and enjoy the peace and quiet they wouldn’t necessisarily have at a slotted campground. The more serious boondockers even modify their vehicles with solar panels and an inverter to charge their batteries so they can freely camp in the beautiful wilderness.

Rules for Boondocking in the Boonies

  • Park in previously used areas. Do not create a new road or parking spot or run over vegetation.
  • Park away from other RVs so each can enjoy the peace and quiet. If you do have a generator you plan to run, park far away from other RVs and limit your use to an hour or so in the morning and another in early evening. Generator noise carries and is not part of the wilderness experience.
  • Respect quiet hours. Do not run generators or play TVs or radios loudly after 10 p.m. or before 7 a.m. (Some areas may have different quiet hours so check with the agency.)
  • In some areas dumping grey water on the ground is permissible. Always check with the agency first. Dumping black water on the ground is never permitted.
  • Leave the area cleaner than you found it. Dispose of trash in a trash container after you leave.
  • Read and follow the agency’s rules regarding fires, collecting firewood, and quiet hours. Respect time limits, which are typically 14 days.

Boondocking is one of my favorite aspects of owning an RV, but we have to remember to always follow that golden rule in order to continue boondocking for years and years to come. Leave the place nicer than it was before you arrived.

Vote and You Could Help the Soudan Underground Mine State Park Win $100,000

Hey Minnesota RV owners, have you heard of the competition Coca-Cola is holding to find America’s favorite park? Well guess what, the Soudan Underground Mine State Park is currently ranked number two in votes!

Let’s help push the park up to the number-one ranking.  Voting is simple.  All you have to do is visit LivePositvely.com. The three parks that receive the highest number of votes by September 6, 2011, will be awarded recreation grants. First place will receive $100,000, second will receive $50,000 and third place will receive $25,000. That’s a lot of money to help restore, rebuild or enhance your park’s amenities.

Voting is unlimited and there is more than one way you can vote. Here are your options:

  • Interactive Map – Use the map to find the park youíd like to vote for, then click on the vote button. Each map vote gives your park 1 point.
  • Facebook Places Check-In – Vote while youíre inside your park and your park will receive 5 points.
  • Upload Photos – Share your familyís park activities and receive an extra 5 points for the park. Upload them through your Facebook account or directly from your computer.

Well, what are you waiting for Minnesota RV lovers?? Head over to LivePositively.com and let’s win one of our state’s greatest parks some money!

Take Precaution When Working on RV Batteries

The summer months can be hard on your RV’s battery. Overcharging and high temperatures can kill batteries. So frequently check the batteries is extremely important and you may even have to preform some maintenance. This isn’t necessarily difficult, but there are some precautions you should take to avoid spilling or splashing electrolytes or a battery fire or explosion.

Let’s take a look at an excerpt from Gary Bunzer’s book, Woodall’s RV Owner’s Handbook, that details these risks and also provides safety guidelines for how to avoid an RV battery accident.

Risks of Spilling and Splashing Electrolyte

Why it’s Dangerous:

Spilled or splashed electrolytes can cause chemical burns to skin and eyes, destroy your clothing and damage wood, metal, painted surfaces under or around the battery.

How to Reduce Risk:

Protect yourself!

  • Avoid contact between electrolyte and skin, eyes, or clothing.
  • Wear splash-proof safety goggles when working on RV batteries
  • Wear protective clothing such as rubber gloves that extend up the forearms and an apron
  • Rinse off the gloves and apron before removing them

Protect the RV

  • Don’t let battery acid splash on any surface
  • Neutralize spilled or splashed electrolyte with a solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)in water
  • Rinse the spill area with clean water
  • Wipe dry with disposable material (rag or paper towel)
  • Use a small plastic funnel or battery fill bulb when adding water to the cells in order to prevent splashing

Risk of Explosion or Battery Fire

Why it’s Dangerous:

Flooded electrolyte batteries produce highly flammable hydrogen gas as a by-product of recharging. This gives rise to the risk of explosion or fire.

How to Reduce Risk:

  • Provide proper ventilation while working on the battery or in the battery compartment
  • Avoid sparks and open flame (don’t light a smoke!)
  • Always reinstall the cell caps before charging or discharging the battery.

 

If you are planning to do any work on your RV battery or need any help checking the battery, be sure to give us a call or come down and see us.

The Number One Source for North American RV Park Reviews

Hey fellow RVers, I have found the perfect web site for picking a campground! From rates to reviews, this site has it all! Whether you’re the type of person who likes to strategically map out your camping spots or if you like to decide at the last minute, it doesn’t matter. This site is fully compatible with smartphones!

First, you select Mexico, the U.S. or Canada. Then you can choose your desired province/state and narrow your selection even further (see image below). Once you’ve chosen your area, you’ll see reviews of all the campgrounds nearby.

 

Once you’ve selected a campground, you’ll find the general camp information on the left-hand side of the page including the number of sites and the latest rate. Below that are the campground’s contact numbers, website and a map view.

On the right-hand site of the page, you’ll find a section for the campground’s accommodations and the type of hookups provided. If you scroll down the page, you can read reviews of other campers.

Click on the image to be taken to this site's information page.

The other cool thing about this site is the ability to submit reviews. There are currently more than 133,900 user-submitted reviews. If you’d like to review a campground, all you have to do is choose “Downloads” from the main page and fill out a review form.

The site also features a search function, so if you already have a campground in mind, why not check out the reviews before hitting the road with your fifth wheel or motorhome?

This site definitely gets a five-star rating from me, and I highly recommend you check it out for yourself!

 

 

 

Helpful Campground Review Site

The internet has always provided a forum for people to review different things.  When someone wants to go on a vacation, they might look at Trip Advisor.  If someone has a bad experience at a restaurant they might visit Google Places or Yelp.  But until recently, a quality site that allows people to review and share their tales from campgrounds has not had one solidified place to go.  That is until now.

Camping.com has developed an all-encompassing site that will allow RVers and campers to share their thoughts and feelings with other potential campers.  Check out this excerpt from an article announcing this new site:

“Camping.com & the LI Partner Network is thrilled to offer our consumers quality reviews and ratings with the introduction of GuestRated”, said Kelly O’Bryan, EVP, Marketing, Camping.com. “Campers and RVers will now have access to more useful reviews written by people who camp and RV. Plus, our consumers can now easily rate and review their favorite RV Parks and Campgrounds from any of our web properties”.

Campers and Rvers will now be able to quickly and easily find reviews and ratings from other like-minded travelers CAMPING.COM and other sites on the LI Partner Network.

“Mainstream travelers have long had access to reviews and ratings for vacation lodging but campers and RVers have had a much more difficult time finding information about campgrounds and RV parks, GuestRated changes that. “, said Kelly O’Bryan, EVP, Marketing, Camping.com, “The tagline for CAMPING.COM has always been ‘everything camping’ and this is one more step in delivering that promise. We are encouraging campers and RVers to visit CAMPING.COM to add reviews of their favorite RV Parks and Campgrounds.

CAMPING.COM, LLC, is a leading one-stop provider of camping and RV travel information and trip planning tools. Camping.com is the leading provider of online reservations for commercial campgrounds and offers the most complete private campground directory. The site features tips on everything from camping with kids, recipes for camp cuisine, RV travel information along with trip ideas to “must-see” destinations for both weekend and longer trips.

Is this new site something that you would use, either to comment on a previous trip or when planning out your next RV trip?

[Source: World News Report]

 

Fun Family RV Tips

We all love to bring our kids along with us on our RV adventures! But this may not always be the easiest things to do.  With all the stimuli children are accustomed to, sometimes it can be difficult to convince them of the greatness of the outdoors.  While this might be difficult, but with some planning and ingenuity, you can help create a wonderful atmosphere that you will all enjoy!

Seven strategies for traveling families:
  1. Leave a bit of give in your schedule. Most youngsters usually are not naturally continuous do-ers on a vacation. If you have an agenda packed end to end with activities, the kids will start complaining and need to stay somewhere and just hang out. Think of your kids sweating in Washington DC, hiking from monument to monument with the blistering heat and waiting in the sun at the Spy Museum. All good ideas but some down time is needed for them to retain their trip enthusiasm.
  2. Don’t expect kids to be grateful for all of the sacrifices it takes to travel on a trip. They are not going to thank you profusely or act wonderfully. Instead, watch for that moment of wonder or the pure joy smile – it is these ìmomentsî that make the trip happy and memorable. Photograph those moments and it will be all you might remember later.
  3. Set the expectation – traveling may be a nightmare. Whether by plane or car, summer vacations are filled with other people on vacation and there can be inevitable delays, traffic and waiting. Have a plan for the long waits. Donít expect a really perfect trip; if everything goes swimmingly, then it’s a bonus. Electronics might be your best friend during these moments.
  4. Let everyone choose one event/activity and one restaurant destination for the trip. After we select our destination (even if it’s a repeat), we put out a menu of options and every child can choose one of those options or propose something else. If one child chooses swimming, we make sure we get some swimming into the holiday, whether in a hotel pool or a beach. In addition they get to choose one kind of food that we will be sure to eat. This is a huge hit with our kids and helps us minimize complaints in the middle of trip. Our youngest and oldest like to do very different things but each knows that their treasured turn will come.
  5. Try to pack light and smart. It is a basic but all of us still ìoverpackî and drag around things we just donít need. So now we sit down and make a list together, then make it an event. Okay everyone bring down three pairs of pajamasî, then ìeveryone go get five shirts and one has to have a collarî, etc. And they need to carry what they pack.
  6. Everyone has to take a book. This is the big rule and my kids now look forward to going to the bookstore to select a special book for the trip. We have a kindle and the kids love to borrow the kindle to read. I also give extra credit for creating and writing inside a journal; they can write words or draw or both. I give them $1 a page for quality journal writing. It is almost certain the youngsters will be asked to write down something about their summer when school resumes so they have gotten a head start.
  7. Electronics are awesome but you’ll want to set some ground rules about usage. The ipods, phones, ipads, DSs, and other devices are amazing and really help children stay distracted during the hectic travel challenges but they should not check out and not participate in your trip.

We hope these tips will be helpful on your next RV excursion with the family!  Comment below to share a family story or add some tips to the list!

[Source: RV Cooking Show]

 

30 RV Money Saving Tips!

With the RV season in full swing, I thought it would be helpful for us to share some ideas on how to save some money on your RV trips.  Hopefully some of these tips will allow you to keep a little more money in your pocket after your next trip.

  1. Buy a local newspaper when checking into a campground or RV park and check it for coupons, bargains, and savings before going out to shop for groceries.
  2. Don’t buy all of your groceries at supermarkets. Buy food and other necessities at thrift bakeries, discount stores, dollar stores, church and charity bazaars, flea markets, roadside fruit and veggie stands, canning plants, and u-pick orchards.
  3. Shop at a local farmer’s market and chat with the folks selling the fruits and veggies. Pick up something “new to you” and ask them how to prepare it—then go back to your RV and try it.
  4. When in a campground connect to “shore power” and use THEIR electricity, not YOUR propane, to heat your water and run your refrigerator. Water heaters in particular consume considerable amounts of propane.
  5. If you’re staying in a metered park and paying for the electricity, you can determine which energy source is most economical—paying for the electricity or using your propane. Multiply the kilowatt rate being charged by 20 and compare that to the price of a gallon of propane.
  6. When eating out, look for 2-for-1 coupons and early bird specials.
  7. Eat out at lunch instead of dinner.
  8. Eat in. Cook your family favorites in the convenience of an RV and avoid the higher costs of eating out. Better yet, cook over your campfire!
  9. Check the local paper for free community events including concerts in the park, lectures, plays, etc.
  10. Attend festivals, fairs, and parades. Tourism offices and RV magazines offer calendars of events.
  11. Visit the public library and check out a few movies, make some popcorn, set up the TV outside the RV and have a date night or family gathering under the stars.
  12. Take free tours of state capitol buildings.
  13. Visit churches, cathedrals, and architectural sites.
  14. Visit museums on their free days—most have at least one a month.
  15. Take a factory tour—sometimes they’ll include bonus samples.
  16. Try local wineries for wine tasting and tours.
  17. Check out cheese factories, breweries, and farms that offer tasting tours.
  18. Pack a picnic and spend an afternoon at a local park relaxing, eating, talking, reading, exploring, daydreaming…did I mention relaxing?
  19. Window shop a fancy part of town. End the afternoon with a cup of coffee, tea, or other refreshing beverage in said “fancy part of town.”
  20. Follow the trails of the pioneer settlers as traveled the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to the Pacific Oregon.
  21. Discover the history and charm of America’s historic routes such as the Ohio and Erie Canalway in Ohio; Historic National Road in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; and Historic Route 66 in ArizonaCalifornia, Illinois, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
  22. Explore Americas Scenic Byways such as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway in Oregon, Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, and Natchez Trace Parkway in AlabamaMississippi, andTennessee.
  23. Check out the travel section of local bookstores for guidebooks on historical, cultural, and scenic travels.
  24. Visit the birthplace and memorial libraries of presidents such as the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts and George Herbert Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.
  25. Visit the birthplace and homes of other famous people such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida.
  26. Take up bird watching.
  27. Explore the public parks and gardens around the continent such as the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Stanley Park in Vancouver.
  28. Explore the beauty of the outdoors by taking a walk along a river or lake or hiking into the wilderness.
  29. Take advantage of regional bargains. Each area of the country has bargains you can take advantage of as you RV.
  30. Take a walk in nature—breathe deep, walk softly, and observe your surroundings.

While all of these tips might not be applicable to your RV vacation, take the principles that are above to heart and you will certainly be able to keep a little more money in your pocket.

Let us know what you think of this list by leaving a comment below!

[Source: RV.net]

 

Minnesota State Water Trails Interactive Map

As you already know, Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes.  Within all these waterways, you can understand how there could be some difficulty discerning one from the other as well as the tributaries and rivers that connect this wonderland of water.  In comes a new online interactive map to help residents and visitors easily navigate throughout Minnesota.  This new wonderful tool will help all aspects of MN outdoors enjoyment.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released a new online interactive map to help people explore the Minnesota state water trail system, which offers 4,400 miles for canoeing, kayaking, boating and camping along rivers and in Lake Superior.

The interactive map includes all 32 designated water trails, in addition to public water accesses and campsites along each route. The map makes it easy to zoom, search, and pan and to find and print information about facilities.

“Minnesota is the state of paddling,” said Mel Baughman, president of the Minnesota Canoe Association. “We are fortunate to have the premier water trails system in the nation. There is a DNR water trail within about an hour of almost anywhere in the state. These new interactive maps will make it easier for paddlers and boaters to plan outings and find new adventures.” The new digital map format provides paddlers and boaters with an opportunity to create a customized map and to take advantage of the connections between water trails and other public lands, such as state parks, state trails, wildlife management areas, and state forests. DNR still distributes free paper maps as well.

The interactive maps and other trip planning resources can be found atmndnr.gov/watertrails.

This could be a very useful tool in planning your next RV getaway!  Let us know what you think about the new interactive map by leaving a comment below!

[Source: The Pilot-Independent]