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.

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.

Camping Goes Glamping

Glamping – or glamorous camping – is the latest in RV trends as it offers a new perspective for the luxury camper while offering upscale conveniences. Glamping takes traditional camping to a whole new level while putting a little bit of glamour to the alternative of ‘roughing it.’ Glamping is perfect for those camp goers that desire more well-appointed accommodations, including luxury cabins, tree houses, and much more. Oh, and did I mention there are campgrounds that even offer the ladies manicures and facials?

The following is a list of locations in Minnesota that offer the camp goer an all-star glamping experience:

  • Arrowwood Resort – This luxury resort offers a wide variety of activities including a luxury evening cruise on Lake Darling.
  • Caribou Highlands Lodge – Get pampered by a certified massage therapist at The Superior Waters Spa and Wellness Center.
  • Madden’s on Gull Lake – This resort has three sand beaches stretching over a mile on the beautiful Gull Lake.
  • Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge – Tucked into the trees on this outdoor wonderland is the Fine Line Salon & Spa where you can enjoy a facial, massage or a body wrap.
  • Trapper’s Landing Lodge – Stay in these luxury units that face the shoreline of Leech Lake and take advantage of their outdoor pools and sauna.

Next time you are trying to convince those affluent travelers to hitch a ride on your RV you might want to show them how Glamping can surpass any five-star hotel experience. Know of any other Glamping type activities or have you yourself ever gone Glamping? Tell about your experience, we’d love to hear about it!

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.

Educate Yourself on RV Fire Safety

This has been a hard summer on the states with record-breaking temperatures and fire outbreaks. Thousands of acres and hundreds of homes have been lost in the lower states due to these fires, so I thought it’d be fitting to talk about the importance of fire safety in our RVs.

Photo courtesy BransonMo.gov

Did you know that fires are one of top contributing factors to RV loss in the US? RVFireExtinguisher.com said that more 20,000 RV fires are reported every year in the U.S., and about 80 percent of them were in gas-powered motorhomes. So what is the best way to prevent  a fire in your RV Minnesota? RVFireExtinguisher.com suggests the following:

To prevent, identify and put out fires there are several things you should have in place. As well as having a working fire alarm and carbon monoxide and LPG gas detectors you should also have working fire extinguishers. In fact, it is against the law in the USA not to have a fire extinguisher in your RV. The National Fire Protection Agency makes it compulsory to have a 5 pound BC fire extinguisher near every exit of the RV. Most fires in RV’s are type A fires meaning that they start from common combustibles such as paper and wood, so it is recommended that you keep a type A fire extinguisher in your RV as well as the BC which is for electrical and gas fires. It is also best to have five fire extinguishers in your RV – one in the driver’s cab, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, one in your towed vehicle and also one in storage as a backup.

Having a fire extinguisher(s) in your RV won’t help anything, though, unless everyone on board knows how to use one. If you can only remember one thing when it comes to using an extinguisher, remember to P.A.S.S. Pull, Aim, Squeeze and sweep! Here’s a helpful video that will show you exactly how to do this. If you need any help making your RV fire-safe, or just need a new RV, you can always give us a call or drop in.

 

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!