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Monday, December 31, 2007

RVers Work Around Colorado Water War

If you live in Summit County, Colorado, you know that water is scarce. County rules prohibit the 'unlawful' use of water taken from "household use only" wells. What's unlawful? Washing the car. Watering the lawn. Filling the hot tub.

Water has become so hard to come by in these parts that some ranchers are facing livelihood extinction when they can't get enough water to meet their livestock needs. Lots of folks in the area own "second homes," and for them, a hot tub is just a given. That is if you can fill it.

Homeowners Glenn and Judith Nichols have found a work-around for filling their play pool. They fire up their motorhome and head off to an RV park. After paying to stay on, they tank up the RV fresh water tank and head home, pumping it into their hot tub. Others have gone so far as to head out to Walmart and purchase bottled water by the gallon to fill their tubs.

For more information on this not-so-funny issue, check out The Denver Post.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winnebago announces 400,000th motorhome



Winnebago Industries has announced a major milestone - the production of its 400,000th motorhome. The company made the statement this month.

The Forest City, Iowa-based manufacturer will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2008. Winnebago opened in 1958 as Modernistic Industries and built travel trailers for several years before entering the motorhome market. The company officially changed its name to Winnebago in 1961, and five years later, it built its first self-contained motorhome.

PHOTO:
Winnebago's most senior employees pose with Chairman of the Board and CEO Bruce Hertzke.

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Senators urge Park Service to allow loaded guns in parks

In mid-December, 47 U.S. senators asked the National Park Service to allow gun owners to carry loaded weapons in federal parks and wildlife refuges. Many RVers will likely be interested in this proposal: a survey at RVtravel.com revealed that about half of all RV enthusiasts carry a firearm with them when they travel.

The letter, drafted by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, calls the current regulations "confusing, burdensome and unnecessary," according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Currently, firearms can only be brought to most national parks and wildlife refuges if they are unloaded, broken down and in a carrying case. There are some exceptions in places where hunting is allowed in season and in back-country areas in some Alaskan parks where loaded guns can be brought in for protection from bears.

"In Alaska, legally possessing a gun is as much a necessity as it is a right," said Aaron Saunders, a spokesman for Sen. Ted Stevens, one of the signers. "Sen. Stevens strongly supports streamlining federal regulations regarding law-abiding citizens carrying firearms on public lands."

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Mexico Travel Plans? Passport Changes--Again

Want to visit Mexico but don't have a passport? Don't worry! Uncle Sam's plans have changed once again. Check out our story in our sister blog, RVing Quartzsite.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Canada: Out of Work Fleetwood Employees Get Jobs

When Fleetwood RV closed its Canadian manufacturing facility, hundreds of line employees were out of work. Now a new RV manufacturer says it'll be putting many of them back to work. See the full story in our sister blog, Fifth Wheeling.

Motorhome -- 18-Wheeler Crash Highlight Safety Issues

A family making a holiday run in their motorhome came to grief the day before Christmas, making another footnote in the "safety" column.

It happened in California's Fresno County on a fog shrouded roadway. The motorhome driver pulled the family Winnebago to the shoulder of the road, and then attempted to make a U-turn across the avenue. What he apparently didn't see in the fog was an oncoming 18-wheeler. The results were predictably disastrous. All four riders in the motorhome were tossed out of what was left of the motorhome and sadly, five-year-old Joshua Lopez, Jr., didn't make it away alive.

California fogs are notorious for their part in accidents. Trying to make a U-turn with a motorhome in a fog is inarguably seeking a calamity, and without a doubt the driver will spend the rest of his life chewing on the "if onlys" of the situation. But perhaps the saddest detail of all, the investigating officers with the California Highway Patrol noted that none of the motorhome's occupants were wearing a seat belt. Maybe it wouldn't have made the difference, perhaps the forces in the crash wouldn't been too great. But statistically speaking, there's a much better chance that Joshua would be here today had he been buckled in.

Don't let the "recreational" part of your RV dull your senses. Please click that buckle.

Photo: KSEE.COM

Casino Camping: Guide to RV-Friendly Casinos
This 2007 directory is the best casino guide for RVers. Learn which casinos have RV parks or offer free overnight stays. Plus get tips and information about other casino benefits for RVers.
Learn more or order.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Squabbles Kill Big 5th Wheels, But T Trailers Go 25% Bigger

Last March we reported on an RVIA (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association) 'trial balloon' that would have allowed fifth wheel manufacturers to build units bigger than 400 square feet. At the time there was considerable opposition from the Recreational Park Trailer Association--an industry group of the park trailer builders. Apparently the park trailer folks felt their turf threatened. It appears the latter have come off successful--at least as far as inflating the size of fifth wheels goes.

In an interview with RV Business magazine, RVIA honcho Matt Wald says, “I don't anticipate the fifth-wheel initiative to go anywhere any time soon, (RPTIA Executive Director) Bill Garpow did an excellent job of scuttling anything we tried to do.”

But the RVIA isn't ready to roll over and play dead on 'Mac-sizing' all RVs. The RVIA recently gave its member-builders permission to upscale the size of travel trailers to 400 square feet, beginning January 1. The current maximum floor area allowed in a travel trailer is 320 square feet, so a 25% boost in size could do some amazing things for fulltime RVers and others.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

D.O.E. Says "Whoops!" on Fuel Price Guestimates


Betting on fuel prices is like betting on a pool game between two unknowns in a shady looking backstreet pool hall. A month ago Uncle Sam's energy wizards projected diesel prices for the 2008 year. Today they're running the estimates up 18 cents a gallon. Here's the breakdown:

January: $3.31
February: $3.29
March: $3.27
Whole Year: $3.21

In the last two weeks the average retail price of diesel has actually dropped 9 cents a gallon. Hurrah! But keep saving up your pennies.

Gasoline prices are expected to shoot back up to over $3.40 per gallon in time for summer drives.

Office Photo Courtesy ricardo.martin on flickr.com

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Can't Park Your RV in Your Yard? Try An RV Parking Condo


It's just the answer that all those municipalities who want to ban residential area RV parking are looking for: An RV parking condo. Metro Phoenix developers have their number--buy yourself a deeded RV garage to house your motorhome for as little as $90 a square foot.

Sid White and Harrison Gentry built their first RV parking condo in 2003 in Peoria--it's sold out. So they're aiming for a couple more: One in Chandler called "Sun Lakes Big Boys Toys," goes before a planning commission meeting in February; another in Apache Junction goes before a final vote of the city council in January.

They're nothing fancy, mind you: Just a place to lock up your RV with an electric hookup. While there are dump stations and wash bays on site, but don't think you can "fulltime" there. These 350 to 1,600 square foot garages are strictly for parking. At anywhere from $35,000 to $190,000 each, they can add substantially to the price of RVing for the 'big city set.'

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Voting Rights for Oregon Fulltimers?

Here's a ditty about what constitutes Oregon residency for voting purposes. The story is on our sister blog, Fulltime RVer.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

California RV Dealer Investigated for Fraud

Did you buy a recreational vehicle from R & R RV Sales in Anderson, California? If so, perk up your ears. At least a half a dozen customers of the firm have filed fraud claims against the company, this according to a story in the Record Searchlight newspaper published out of Redding, California.

According to the news account, at least six people have approached Anderson police claiming the company defrauded them one way or another, and in some cases the charges surround alleged falsification of DMV documents. The local police have referred the matter to the state's DMV officials who -- while acknowledging there is an ongoing investigation -- are remaining mum about specific allegations.

Phone calls to R&R are going unanswered, as the company line has been disconnected. Check out the full story online.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Life on Wheels Announces 2008 Schedule


Life on Wheels, the "college for RVers" has rolled out its 2008 schedule. No matter where you go, there'll be a conference somewhere in a US region near you:

Here's the schedule:
  • Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona, March 18-21
  • Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky, May 7-10
  • Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny, Iowa, May 22-25
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, July 6-17
  • Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, September 7-10
Life on Wheels conferences cover classes of interest to absolute newbies to seasoned RVers. For more information on class offerings and costs, visit the Life on Wheels website here.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Shooting Stars? Hollywood Movie Trailers Going on Block

If you're anywhere in the neighborhood of Utah next Tuesday, this may be your chance to latch onto a trailer with Hollywood history. Erkelens & Olson Auctioneers say they'll be running 28 travel trailers through the auction process, some with a bit of history attached. Do the names, "Jennifer Aniston," and "Spider-Man" ring a bell?

It seems a movie production company, JPS Productions, hit the financial skids. The result is this auction of trailers under bankruptcy proceedings. While you won't find a trailer that a "star" personally made home--and the company is quick to assure they're not 100% sure of what's what--some do have masking tape tags on the doors with big production names.

Some of the trailers are set up as makeup or wardrobe trailers, with associated makeup stations, others were "green rooms" where stars waited in the comfort of an Alfa Gold, sitting on leather furniture, watching a flat screen TV while resting their Scotch on a granite countertop. You get the picture.

The auction takes place in Lindon, Utah at 1:00 p.m., December 18. For more details, visit a story in the Desert Morning News.

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Looking for Texas RV Parks? Get Discount Too

An soon-to-be-in-print guide to Texas RV parks divides the state into regions, and offers a discount card enabling users to get 10 - 15 percent discounts in some parks. Visit our sister website, RV Freebies for details.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CAFE Legislation: Confused?

While Congress continues to wrangle about CAFE (Corporate Average Fleet Economy) fuel standards, the RV community wonders what it all means. It's obvious that something needs to be done about cutting back on the rabid slurping up of the world's oil, at the same time, what does the future hold for those who tow their RVs? Will new fuel economy standards wipe out the venerable pickup truck as a towing machine?

Just looking at some quotes from the press might make it look that way. Here's a look at a quote from a release from the UAW--the United Auto Workers union: "The new provisions on corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) require significant increases in the fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks. By 2020 the average fuel economy for all cars and light trucks will have to achieve an average of 35 miles per gallon for the entire industry. This will guarantee substantial savings in gas consumption, thereby enhancing U.S. energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

As much as I'd love to see my pickup get 35 miles per gallon, would it pull my fifth wheel up and over the hill if it did? I had to read a bit farther to see the 'devil is in the details.' Regarding the CAFE standards under consideration by Congress, the UAW says there is, "A continuation of the distinction between passenger cars and light trucks in the CAFE program. Requiring different rules for these different types of vehicles will ensure that light truck production and jobs are not adversely impacted by the new rules."

Ah! Evidently Congress hasn't gone over to the immediate thought that the forthcoming CAFE standards would require cars and trucks to all get the same mileage. This thought is echoed by the RVIA (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association) according to a piece in a recent posting on the RV Business website. Quoting now, “The No. 1 thing the car manufacturers wanted was to keep the distinction between cars and light trucks,” said Jay Landers, senior director of government affairs for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “It looks like that's going to happen.”

Just where it will all shake out is still about as clear as the mud coming out from under an off-roader's tires. And until it all gets out from under the Presidential Pen with a flourish of ink, it's still an early call.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Chinese Export 'Cute' RV to US

First it was "Hello Kitty!" Now it's "iCamp" Those clever marketers in Asia are selling cute to the American public. At the big RV trade show in Louisville, Kentucky, the first Chinese import RV was shown off in a trade show setting.

iCamp Elite is an 14' teardrop trailer that tips the truck scales at less than 3,000 pounds. Designed for towing behind a 6-cylinder vehicle, it looks as those iCamp has chosen the perfect timing to roll out in a big way. Big enough for a queen bed, a modern-styled galley, and an entertainment system where you can plug your iPod in, the retail price of less than $20,000 may draw the weekender crowd in a big way.

Learn more about iCamp from the US distributor's web site.

We'd probably be remiss if we didn't ask: Has that eye-popping paint been tested?

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RV maker Winnebago receives quality award for 12th time

FOREST CITY, Iowa --For the 12th consecutive year, Winnebago Industries, Inc., has received the prestigious Quality Circle Award for its Winnebago and Itasca brands. The award was presented by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers' Association (RVDA) at a ceremony conducted at the 45th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, KY. Winnebago Industries is the only RV manufacturer to have received the Quality Circle Award for 12 consecutive years.

Both the Winnebago and Itasca brands were recognized for scoring 80 percent or above in overall dealer satisfaction as measured in the Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) survey, as administered by RVDA. The DSI survey, which determines Quality Circle Award winners, was enhanced to rate manufacturers' performance in eight core areas: sales support, sales territory, vehicle design, vehicle reliability/quality, competitive price/value, parts support, dealership warranty support and overall dealer communications.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

RV Builder Inflates Tires With Nitrogen--How By You?

RV manufacturer Dutchmen says they'll make nitrogen inflated tires on their rigs a standard. How about you? Do you need nitrogen in your RV tires? Visit our sister blog, Low Tech RVing for a consideration.

Whispers: Fleetwood Towables On the Way Out?


Investment gurus and web wave makers, the Motley Fool, say that there's good news and bad news in Fleetwood land. In the second-quarter of this year the company was able to take a projected 6 cent per share loss to only a two cent loss. How'd they do it? Selling off properties helped--you'll recall that lots of Fleetwood employees got pink slips earlier this year when the company closed US and Canadian plants (and at the same time opened a plant in Mexico).

But another investor-pleaser was the fact the company's motorhome sales revenue went up, from $230.6 million to $263.8 million. Now about that bad news? In the same time period the company witnessed a huge tumble in "towable" sales revenue. From 104.1 million down to just $48 million. Motley Fool reports that one market analyst will be, "Looking for the company to provide more insight on whether it may sell or close its towables unit." Either one could mean a whole lot more out of work RV builders.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

High Land Values Put BC RV Parks in Tailspin

While property values in the US may be facing a crisis, the news hasn't reached the 'northern cousins.' Property values in British Columbia are skyrocketing, and some RV park owners are opting for the quick buck by selling out. One industry official in BC worries about the future for RVers. See the story on our sister website, RVing Canada.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Shakeups in RV Industry, But Still Holding Out Hope

A couple of news stories have surfaced recently regarding the direction of the economy, and that of the RV industry. As reported in RVs in the News, the most recent fallout from these days of tight finances was the bankruptcy and shutdown of National RV Holdings. Scores of readers have commented on National RV's woes.

Yesterday the trade journal, RV Business reported the findings of their interview with National's CEO, Dave Humphreys. Plain and simple, although the company had orders for 200 new motorhomes, they simply couldn't raise enough cash to build them. Humphreys admitted that the company's placement as only #7 on the list of motorhome builders, and a lawsuit against his firm for problematic sidewalls added to the difficulties.

Today the same journal, RV Business, indicates that while the entire industry serves as a bellweather for the economy, not all insiders are taking the situation as a sign that the industry is "down for the count." In an interview with the chief operating officer of RV builder, Thor Industries, Dicky Riegel, the COO pointed to what he feels to be a positive influence on the future of RV manufacturing. "Even as consumer sentiment and fuel prices damp RV sales, a wave of aging Baby Boomers may ride to the rescue. The industry is benefiting from the 11,000 people who turn 50 years old each day, the peak buying age for RV owners, the Thor chief operating officer, Dicky Riegel, said.

"The industry is definitely not immune to macroeconomic factors, but we still have the demographic wind at our back," said Riegel.

We look at it this way: While difficulties in the economy may make it tough to float loans for new RVs, there are millions of folks who already own RVs. We know the lifestyle, and recognize just how much a "breath of fresh air," just getting away from the daily grind can be. Heading out in your rig can take plenty of pounds of your shoulders. We may have to 'pull in the horns' on some of our expenditures, but we don't see the RVer being put on the endangered species list anytime soon.

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