How Do You Stay Connected on the Road in Your Minnesota RV?

Photo Courtesy of RVBasics

Do any of you Minnesota RVers remember when you’d have to use a dial-up connection at a campground, an Internet café or a public place like a library to connect to the Internet? My how times have changed. Thanks to technology, we no longer have to find a place to get online where we’d have to wait our turn and then be limited in the amount of time we had to use the Internet.

Today we have a number of options when it comes to staying connected on the road. We can send emails, surf the web and more while we’re traveling down the road or even boondocking. The three most common and easiest choices are to simply use  a smart phone itself, tether through a smart phone or purchase an air card. The option that is right for you, all depends on how much you use the Internet.

Option 1: A Data-Capable Smart Phone. This is for those of you out there who only use the Internet to send and receive emails, get directions and occasionally surf the Internet. Your phone basically serves as your computer screen. Just remember, that data packages can get pricey if you go over your designated amount of usage.

Option 2: Tethering with a Data-Capable Smart Phone. The second option also requires a smart phone. If you moderately use the Internet, this may be a better solution for you. This is also good for those of you prefer using computers or laptops on the road. In order to do this, you’ll need to purchase a tethering plan from your wireless provider. Then you can plug your smart phone into your computer and using the Internet connection from your phone, you’ll have the full functionality of a computer.

Option 3: An Air Card. If you’re an avid user of the Internet or you work from the road, then this option is probably the best one out there. Air cards allow you to surf the web more frequently and generally have much higher-speed connections. There are many wireless carriers out there like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon who offer air cards. This is by far my favorite option, but again, you have to choose the best option for you.

So motorhome owners, which option is right for your RV? Make sure you do some shopping around before you decide. If you choose to go with an air card, check with several different carriers. Often times, they will be offering specials that you can take advantage of.

How Many Insects Lose Their Lives on Your Minnesota Motorhome?

Have you ever noticed how dirty the windshield and front of your car is after a road trip? It seems as though you’ve driven through a swarm of bugs the entire 300 miles. Well in case you haven’t noticed, RVs have much larger windshields and front ends than your car does. So instead of hundreds of bugs, it looks like thousands met their death on your RV after a road trip.

Though I’m not sure why, a Dutch biologist named Arnold van Vliet over in The Netherlands actually conducted a study to get an estimate of just how many bugs lose their lives due to moving vehicles. The results were actually pretty interesting. He asked 250 drivers to track their mileage and the number of bugs on their windshield each night over the course of six weeks. He found that a total of 19,184 miles were traveled by the 250 participants and 17,836 insects were killed. That’s a lot of bug guts to clean off a windshield.

When you do the math and take into account the entire surface area of the front of the vehicle and the total number of cars in the world, it comes to an estimated 32.5 trillion insects in the U.S. dirtying up our windshields each year. Hard to imagine that many, isn’t it?

I wonder how many of those bugs have met their demise on your RV. I’m sure the number is high, especially if you’re a full-time RVer. So what’s the best method for getting the bugs off the windshield and restoring a clear view out of the front of our RV? The most obvious choice would be the windshield wipers, but let’s be honest. Using windshield wipers to clean up a bug mess always seems to make matters worse. If you’re planning on waiting until you arrive home or at a campground, there are many different remedies you can try. I recommend using one of the many cleaners designated for cleaning bugs off the windshield. It’s also a good idea to spray some sort of protectant to make cleaning in the future easier.

If you’re one of those people who likes to have a clean windshield all the time and you absolutely cannot wait to clean up the mess at your destination, you can always use the squeegees at gas stations. For an even better result, try using the standard razor blade. All you have to do it make a downward scraping motion with the blade. This option is probably not best for those of you with weak stomachs, but if you can handle it, this method actually works really well as a quick fix. What are some remedies you like to use, Minnesota RVers? We’d love to hear your ideas!

Minnesota Wildlife – Black Bears

The black bear: a symbol of Minnesota’s wilderness. As a Minnesota RVer who enjoys camping in the great outdoors, it is important to be mindful of what type of wildlife, and in this case bears, you may encounter. Bears are most common in the northern parts of Minnesota, although they have been known to wander into more urban areas.

Conflicts between people and bears have increased as more people build homes and cabins in northern Minnesota. These types of conflicts between bear and human can arise when bears damage personal property, beehives, livestock and even agricultural crops.

The black bears natural source for food are nuts, fish, berries, insects and certain types of vegetation. However, when their natural food sources become scarce, a bear will take advantage of any food they find available and eat anything that might resemble food by its look, smell or even taste. It is when a bear’s desperate search food occurs that they will often come in contact with people.

Reducing Bear Encounters

  • Move campsites if there are any signs that a bear has been there recently.
  • Never leave food in your tent or outside your RV.
  • Use canned or dried foods to minimize the scent of food.
  • Store foods out of a bear’s reach, either in a bear safety storage box or by hanging it at least 15 feet off the ground from a
    tree limb.
  • Burn any used napkins or paper towels in your campfire.
  • Remove all garbage and any fish or other meat remains from your campsite immediately after use.

People share in the responsibility to avoid conflicts with bears. Learning effective measures to prevent bear problems will help both bears and people. The best way to avoid bear conflicts is to not attract them in the first place. If you would like more information about bear safety, we’d be happy to help!

Tire Care – Checking The Tread

The tread of your RV’s tires plays a crucial role in the performance of your vehicle as well as its safety. Knowing how to inspect the tread of your tires yourself and being able to keep a mindful eye on their condition is extremely important, especially for those of us who are avid Minnesota RV travelers.

In order to prevent dangerous occurrences while driving, such as skidding and hydroplaning, tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to a certain amount. All tires produced since 1968 have a built in tread wear indicator already in them to help you see any signs of tread concern, before it becomes a much larger issue. These ‘wear bars’ look like narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread and will begin to appear when tread is wearing down. When tire use degrades the tread depth to 1/16″ (1.5mm), smooth 1/2″ (13mm) bands seem to rise toward the surface. This indicates that these tires should be replaced. Many states have laws making this replacement mandatory once the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. These wear bars are the first sign that your tires need replacing.

Visually check your tires for signs of uneven wear before every RV road trip. You may have irregular tread wear if there are high and low areas or unusually smooth areas. Tire trouble, if gone undetected, can shorten your RV tire’s lifespan. Unforeseen issues with your tires can only lead to money down the drain. Trouble detected can also give you clues to other areas of your RV that may need attention. Being aware of what to look for and knowing how to test your tire’s tread is RVing in the smartest way.

Dear Minnesota RV Drivers, Be Sure to Watch For Deer

Deer are generally an elusive animal, and if you’re lucky, you may get to see in their natural habitat. Most often your best chance of getting a glimpse of this animal is early in the quiet, calm morning near a river or lake or even roaming around your Minnesota campsite. One place you do not expect (or in the least bit desire) to have an encounter with a deer is out on the open road in your RV.

The danger of having an accident involving a deer while driving is mostly unavoidable. Coincidentally, the high risk months (October, November and December) for deer collisions are upon us. These months happen to be the mating and migration season for deer, which only increase a motorist’s chance of having a close encounter with one. As it just so happens, we Minnesota folk fall at the eighth spot in the top 10 list of the most high risk states, with the odds of a deer collision in the next 12 months being 1 in 98. Think you can guess which state has the fewest encounters with deer? Would you be surprised to hear that it’s Hawaii; with the odds being 1 in 6,267? Shocking, I know!

So for those of us at risk, there are some things to do and not to do that can help us avoid a deer/RV collision. The following are precautions given by Consumer Report to take into account, in order to lessen your risk of being another statistic.

  • Slow down. Watch for deer especially around dawn and between the hours of 6-9 p.m. (When they are most active.)
  • Be aware. Look out for deer-crossing signs and wooded areas where deer or other animals would likely travel. And if you travel the same route to and from work every day, you might find deer consistently grazing in the same fields. Make a mental note of when and where you regularly see these animals.
  • Be alert. If you see an animal on the side of the road, slow down, and, at night, when traffic permits, put on your high-beams for greater visibility.
  • Brake, don’t swerve. Swerving to avoid an animal can put you at risk for hitting another vehicle or losing control of your own car. It can also confuse the animal as to which way to go. Just slow down as quickly and safely as you can. Your odds of surviving an accident are better hitting an animal than another car.
  • Assume they have friends. The phrase “where there’s one, there’s usually more” often holds true. Deer travel in groups, so if you see one run across the road, expect others to follow.
  • Don’t rely on deer whistles. The whims of wild animals are not beholden to this technology.
  • Buckle up. A seat belt is your best defense for minimizing your risk in a crash. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that 60 percent of the people killed in animal-vehicle collisions weren’t wearing seat belts.

The good news, however, is that State Farm Insurance reported that deer collisions have been on the decline for the last three years, with the past year’s decline almost twice than that of the two years prior combined. We all need to be careful out there during this time of year, including my fellow Minnesotan RV enthusiasts.

What Minneapolis RV Owners Should Know About Cell Phones and Filling Stations

Hey Minnesota RVers, have you seen the signs at filling station near the gas pumps that tell you not to use your cell phone while pumping gas? Recently I received an e-mail from a friend stating the dangers of cell phone use while filling up.

Safety Alert! There are several reasons why cell phones aren’t allowed in operating areas, propylene oxide handling and storage areas, or propane, gas and diesel refueling areas. For one, they can ignite fuel or fumes. Mobile phones that light up when switched on or when they ring release enough energy to provide a spark for ignition. Mobile phones should not be used in filling stations, or when fueling lawn mowers, boat, etc. In fact, mobile phones should not be used, or should be turned off, around several other materials that generate flammable or explosive fumes or dust including solvents, chemicals, gases, grain dust, etc. The following is an e-mail I received stating the rules of being safe at the pump and some interesting facts about a study done regarding incidents where fires resulted in not following proper refueling etiquette.

 

To sum it up, here are the Four Rules for Safe Refueling:

  1. Turn off engine.
  2. Don’t smoke.
  3. Don’t use your cell phone – leave it inside the
    vehicle or turn it off.
  4. Don’t re-enter your vehicle during fueling .

Bob Renkes of Petroleum Equipment Institute is working on a campaign to try and make people aware of fires as a result of ‘static electricity’ at gas pumps.  His company researched 150 cases of these fires.

His results were very surprising.

  1. Out of 150 cases, almost all of them were women.
  2. Almost all cases involved the person getting back in their vehicle while the nozzle was still pumping gas. When finished, they went back to pull the nozzle out and the fire started, as a result of static.
  3. Most had on rubber-soled shoes.
  4. Most men never get back in their vehicle until completely finished. This is why they are seldom involved in these types of fires.
  5. Don’t ever use cell phones when pumping gas.
  6. It is the vapors that come out of the gas that cause the fire, when connected with static charges.
  7. There were 29 fires where the vehicle was re-entered and the nozzle was touched during refueling from a variety of makes and models. Some resulted in extensive damage to the vehicle, to the station, and to the customer.
  8. Seventeen fires occurred before, during or immediately after the gas cap was removed and before fueling began.

Mr. Renkes stresses to NEVER get back into your vehicle while filling it with gas. If you absolutely HAVE to get in your vehicle while the gas is pumping, make sure you get out, close the door TOUCHING THE METAL, before you ever pull the nozzle out.  This way the static from your body will be discharged before you ever remove the nozzle.

Have you heard any additional information regarding the dangers of cell phones and gas pumps? We’d love to learn more about it!

Bag Up Your Omelets on the Road Minnesota RVers

When you think about making breakfast in your RV that is both simple and quick and doesn’t require a whole lot of cleanup, generally only a few things come to mind. You have things like cereal, toast, maybe a breakfast bar… but having something a little more complicated (like an omelet) usually doesn’t sound too appealing given the space to work with in an RV. Get ready though, because those mornings of omelet free breakfasts on the campgrounds are over! No need to dirty up your skillet or try and master that folding technique for the perfect omelet shape. Now you can have the perfect omelet that comes right out of the bag. Not just any bag of course, but straight from your trusty Ziploc bag. (Yields one omelet.)

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices of ham, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon onion, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon green or red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons red tomato, chopped (optional)
  • 2 fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chunky salsa (optional)

Directions

  1. Crack open two eggs and put them into a sandwich size Ziploc baggy. Press most of the air out of the bag before sealing. Shake or squeeze the bag in order to beat the eggs.
  2. Open the bag and add the desired ingredients above.
  3. Squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag and reseal.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the bag into the water and let boil for 13 minutes.
  5. Open the bag and let the now cooked omelet slide out onto a plate. (Your omelet should slide or roll out of the baggy with ease.)

Know of any other simple breakfast ideas to make in your RV? Share the wealth!

Zap the Sap on Your RV Minnesota

During the summer months, the inside of your RV can get really hot. Even on a mild day of 80 degree weather, the inside of your RV can rise to over 100 degrees in just a half hour! There’s really no way around the heat, and you probably looked for any shaded area including trees to park under and try and combat it. The only problem with parking under those wooded areas (especially on a campground) is that your RV could become covered in sticky and relentless tree sap. Recently I noticed tree sap on the hood of my RV and I decided to give her a good washing to clean it off. Initially I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult and just required a little extra scrubbing. Boy was I mistaken. Normal washing techniques and car wash product just won’t do the trick. After doing some research about tree sap removal while trying to find the best product and method for the job, I found a few different ways that work well in order to zap the sap.

  • Bug and Tar Remover – Follow the directions and this should do the trick for most sticky sap situations, just takes some extra elbow grease.
  • Rain-X – This window cleaner works well by simply using a cloth and wiping it off.
  • Mineral Spirit – Wet a cloth with this product and rub in a circular motion.
  • Ice – Because the sap can be gooey and sticky, using ice to harden it can help you to simply chip it away.

With any method you choose to use to clean the tree sap off your RV, be sure to always read the directions carefully and try a test spot (like on the top of your RV) to make sure the product or method you use doesn’t harm your paint. If you know of any other remedies to rid your RV of tree sap, let us know!

Stay Awake at the Wheel of Your RV Minnesota

Photo courtesy of TomandHelenLove

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) estimated that nearly two-thirds of adult Americans experience a sleeping problems several nights during the week, and 43 percent say they are so tired that it interferes with there daily activities. For RVers, this can be especially problematic considering we spend a lot of time driving down the road.

The U.S. National Highway Safety Administration estimates that fatigued drivers contribute to roughly 100,000 highway crashes and cause 1,500 deaths per year. It’s been said that people who have been awake for longer than 17 hours perform worse than someone with a .05 BAC! Hard to believe, isn’t it? Similar to alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs your judgment.

Though most people turn to caffeine when they are tired, this will only temporarily work. If you are sleep deprived and drink coffee, you could even experience brief four or five minute naps called “micro-sleeps”.  In those short five seconds, your RV can travel more than 100 yards at only 55 miles an hour.

The next time your about to head out on the road, please make sure you get a full night of rest before. If you ever feel drowsy, there’s no shame in pulling over at taking a brief nap.

The NSF also recommends the following:

  1. Learn to recognize and pay attention to the warning signs of fatigue. Take a break if you experience wandering or disconnected thoughts, yawn repeatedly, have difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open, or find yourself missing traffic signs or tailgating other drivers.
  2. Don’t count on tricks like turning up the radio or opening the window for fresh air to keep you awake—these things will help for only a short while.
  3. If you’re planning on driving a long distance, drive during the time of the day when you are normally awake.
  4. Also, if possible, have someone accompany you and talk with that person while driving. It’s a good idea for your passenger to stay awake, too, so that he or she can let you know if you are showing signs of sleepiness.
  5. On longer trips, schedule a break (in a safe area) every two hours or every 100 miles and stop sooner if you show any signs of sleepiness.

Use Toothpaste to Clean Your RV Headlights

Have you started to notice while driving your RV at night that your headlights aren’t shining as brightly as they used to? Or maybe you’ve noticed that your headlights have a yellowy film on them. Often times, RV owners think that the problem is on the inside of the lens and will end up spending hundreds on replacements.  However, this discoloration mostly occurs because the outside cover on your lamps has become oxidized and simply needs to be cleaned up.

While there are many different products you can spend a good amount of money on to fix this problem, I have found a solution that is quite effective and hardly costs me anything – and they call it toothpaste. Sounds a little strange, but believe it or not your toothpaste can be quite versatile.

Step 1 – Get your run of the mill, white toothpaste. Notice the word paste and not the gel kind.

Step 2 – Apply the toothpaste to the plastic cover with a dry cloth. and rub in a circular motion until you start to notice the grime wipe away.

Step 3 – Rinse with water, and wipe away any residual paste with a wet cloth.

And there you have it. Clean, clear covers and better visibility at night! If you’re still having visibility issues or the headlights still appear dirty, feel free to give us a call or swing by. We’ll be glad to help you figure out if it’s indeed time for a new set of headlights.