Thursday, June 30, 2005

Rambling on my mind... a column by By Lynne Snifka

They arrive every summer with the regularity of mosquitoes and road construction, huge creatures that spark awe, disdain and the urge to scream “A delay of more than four vehicles is illegal, asshole!” as you putter down the Seward Highway in a 10-vehicle convoy. But sometimes when I drive behind a motor home, I'm fascinated, and jealous. What must it be like to go anywhere you want with a place to sleep and cook your favorite tortellini dish? To be able to just hit the road not knowing where you'll end up, but knowing you'll have a home when you get there? To start in South Dakota and wind up in California or Kenai with your favorite pillow? Full Story...

San Diego, California, City-owned RV park reopened this week

A city-owned RV park reopened this week at Mission Bay's De Anza Cove.

After a $1.5 million renovation, the park is accepting visitors at the 259-space bay-front property, now renamed Mission Bay RV Park.

A grand opening celebration will be held tomorrow.

The city estimates that the park will bring in $2 million a year in revenue. Before the reopening, the RV operation was run by a private company, De Anza Harbor Resort & Golf, which gave the property back to the city in late 2003.

Rental prices start at $45 per night during the summer and $30 from October through April. Spaces with bay and beach views or deluxe accommodations cost up to $119 nightly.

The city did a major overhaul of the property, installing new power, sewer and gas lines, remodeling the bathrooms and providing satellite television and Internet access.

"It's like a completely new park," said Will Griffith, the city's real estate assets director.

The site had become so dilapidated that the conditions were unsafe, Griffith said. The money for the renovations came from revenue generated by a nearby mobile home park on city land, he said.

A private company, Hawkeye Asset Management, operates the RV facility for the city.

For reservations, call (877) 219-6900 or visit the park's Web site, www.missionbayrvpark.com.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

National Campground Survey Predicts Busy July Fourth Holiday

The Woodall's/ARVC RV Park and Campground Survey estimates occupancy at privately operated campgrounds nationwide this Fourth of July holiday will be 75 percent on July 1, 83 percent on July 2 and 80 percent on July 3. Reservations are already ahead of last year's by 2 percent.

This means that about 848,000 sites will be rented on Friday, 938,000 on Saturday and 904,000 on Sunday in privately owned campgrounds. The commercial campground owners will entertain and lodge more than a million families and/or parties -- in excess of three million people over the Fourth of July weekend. Full Story...

Patriotic RVers Keep Rolling This July Fourth Weekend


Thousands of RVers will hit the road to celebrate our nation's birthday this Independence Day weekend and chances are they'll be displaying America's colors to show their patriotism. According to a recent survey by Funroads.com, more than 80 percent of RVers will demonstrate their patriotism by wearing red, white and blue, flying the flag and more while they travel this July Fourth.

"RVers are a patriotic bunch all year-round," said Mike Kline, marketing manager for Onan's towable RV division. "They celebrate their freedom to travel by showing their loyal spirit on their RV and on themselves. These folks love the U.S.A." Full Story...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Fewer new motor homes rolling off RV sales lots

On the heels of the best sales year since 1978, deliveries of new motor homes to dealers fell 13.6 percent in the first four months of the year, compared with the same period in 2004, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association reports.

Winnebago Industries cited "lower retail demand and an industrywide oversupply of motor homes" this month in reporting flat earnings for the quarter ended May 28. The inventory buildup is left over from last year's boom.

And higher gas prices are starting to take a toll. Although the $8.9 billion industry says it hasn't seen influence in the recent past, a survey of 93 RV dealers released in April by analyst Craig Kennison of brokerage Robert W. Baird found "higher gas prices were repeatedly mentioned by dealers as affecting their business."

Slowing motor-home sales are being offset by continued strong sales of travel trailers, the towable homes-on-wheels that are pulled by cars or trucks. Full Story...

RV manufacturers introduce new models to dealers

It's June and RV manufacturers have their minds on models, model changovers that is.

June is the month that most manufacturers introduce their new models to RV dealers and begin production. Full Story...

Check with National Geographic Before you go Camping

National Geographic recently entered the wonderful world of camping, traveling and visiting faraway places. Whether you're a newcomer or an old hand go tent camping have a recreational vehicle, you should check out the new "National Geographic Road Atlas -- RV & Camping Edition."

The atlas features detailed road maps of all 50 states and Canada, profiles of 22 national parks, state and provincial park listings, descriptions of 36 popular scenic drives and more than 3,700 state-by-state RV park and campground listings provided by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. Full Story...

Good Sam Club Names Its Favorite RV-Friendly Businesses

The Good Sam Club, has selected its 2005 Welcome Mat Award winners and they represent what the nearly 1 million members voted as the most RV-friendly businesses. Winners will be honored at an award dinner in Redmond, Oregon, at the Great North American RV Rally, July 11-14.

Four-time winner Cracker Barrel Old Country Store caters to RVers with special parking and easy access from the highway.

Fort Wilderness Campground and Walt Disney World in Florida have been named winners since the Welcome Mat Awards began in 2002. Full Story...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

NASCAR faithful gather in their RVs

The stock car faithful who have gathered at Infineon Raceway for tomorrow's big race worship their sport and its drivers with what can best be described as religious fervor.

In the treeless, 50-acre RV park across from the track, fans in motor homes began setting up camp on Thursday, flying flags honoring NASCAR's Holy Family: the dearly departed Dale Earnhardt, a deity in racing, and his only begotten son, Dale Jr.

In the subculture of the RV lot, the campers compete to see who has the tallest flagpole with the most flags.

In a reference to their 50-acre temporary home, one group has printed up T-shirts that say, "What happens at 50 acres stays at 50 acres." Full Story...


Florida Campground lures families with amenities

This is always a tall Find a spot for a weekend in the Florida Keys that is fun, child-friendly, boat-ready, do and not too expensive. We'd tried a couple of small motels in the middle Keys in years past. But none matched the fun we had recently at Fiesta Key Resort KOA — a 350-site campground sequestered on its own 28-acre island in a relatively sleepy section of the middle Keys near Layton.

The Fiesta Key staff politely explained the island campground offers a lot more than a place to pitch a tent and a bath house. The campground has its own marina, boat ramps, boat slips, boat rentals, a "kamp" store, a grill/pub, a small beach, a playground, a basketball hoop, table tennis, horseshoes, bike rentals, a swimming pool overlooking Florida Bay, hot tubs and a small snorkeling area. Full Story...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Americans Living Life Partly on the Road

It's the carefree life Alona and Jim Robison always dreamed of. Well, almost.

"What I want to do is wake up in the woods or on a beach and sit around a fire at night," says Alona Robison who, along with her husband, quit her job three years ago to travel the country in a 33-foot recreational vehicle. "But I still have to have an income, so I'm looking for that happy medium."

The Robisons - who used to live in a Denver suburb, but have recently been making their home in Row 3, Space 23 at a county campground here - are not the only ones combining a job with life on the road. Full Story...

Top U.S. Camping Spots 2005

According to the Travel Industry Association, camping is the number one outdoor activity in the United States, and one third of U.S. adults say they have gone on a camping vacation in the past five years.

The Travelers Advantage experts have strapped on the hiking boots and trotted out the top campsites, national parks, scenic views, hiking trails, top picnic areas and most kid-friendly parks: Get the List...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

RV Rental Companies Optimistic about Outlook for RV Rentals

Buoyed by advanced bookings and more capacity, RV rental companies are extremely optimistic about the outlook for motorhome and travel trailer rentals this summer and throughout 2005. RV rental activity is expected to grow by an average of 36 percent this year, according to a new survey of RV Rental Association (RVRA) members.

“People are ready to travel this summer and renting an RV is one of the best ways to see the country,” said RVRA Chairman Bert Alanko. “RVRA members tell us they’re adding more RVs to their rental fleets to satisfy consumer demand for vacation travel and trips to special events, such as auto races and concerts.”

Type C (mini-motorhomes) are the most popular type of rental RV, followed by towable RVs (folding camping trailers/travel trailers), and Type A motorhomes. RV rental companies are adding capacity and report the average rental fleet size is expected to increase by 12 percent in 2005.

The survey also shows that more than 75 percent of RV rental companies rent for more than 10 months a year. RV rentals by foreign visitors are expected to make up seven percent of all North American RV rentals in 2005.

The big demand for RV rentals means it’s a good idea to book your rental RV as far in advance as possible, according to Alanko. “If you’re thinking about renting, book now so you can get the type of RV you want, on the days you want it,” he said.

Consumers looking to take an RV rental vacation this year can visit www.rvra.org Web site to help them plan their adventure. The online directory is a state-by-state listing of more than 300 rental companies across the U.S., and also includes listings from Canada. The site features consumer tips on renting -- including advice on selecting the proper unit.

RV renters can also get a free DVD, CD-Rom, or video on RV travel by visiting the www.gorving.com Web site. The video contains useful introductory information on the type of RV units available.

RVRA is the rental division of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), the national association representing RV retailers. The association’s members include RV dealers, RV rental operations, and RV AfterMarket locations.

Trailer Park residents awoke to flooding

When Heather Swanstrom awoke at 5:45 a.m. Saturday, she could hardly believe what she saw in the raging river that was cutting swaths through her trailer park home.

"I lost my truck, it was 35 feet from where I parked it -- and upside down," the Wilderness camp ground resident of seven years recalled.

With 15 centimetres of water rising in her mobile home, Swanstrom knew it was time to grab husband Walter Kinder and puppy Bandit and get out. Full Story...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

RV company has grown from campground to sales lots

NEW CASTLE, IN - In a little less than 10 years, Walnut Ridge Family RV Sales has grown from a campground to a sales business that stretches across 57 acres west of New Castle.

The sales lots are full of recreational vehicles, both new and used. An indoor, air conditioned showroom is decorated with artificial plants and park benches, but customers can shop in the cool comfort, out of the hot summer sun. There's still a campground, though it's larger now, with 165 hook ups, but there's also a basketball court, playground, swimming pool, 18-hole miniature golf course and game room. A permanent building features a kitchen and enough room for 100 people to gather, whether it's for a family reunion or church service. Full Story...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A motor home fire stopped traffic on I-15 in Utah

A motor home fire stopped traffic on I-15 near the Layton Hills Mall exit during this afternoon's commute.

Flames burned through the motor home and smoke floated over the freeway.

The motor home carried empty propane tanks... so troopers closed the freeway in both directions.

The motorhome was headed to the Manti pageant.

The occupants a family of six were all able get out of the vehicle safely. See Video...

Friday, June 17, 2005

Arizona RV park plan gets an earful from foes

As part of an ongoing attempt to shed Apache Junction's image as the Valley's RV haven, some residents are challenging a developer's attempt to build an RV park near half-million-dollar homes.

About 15 home and property owners attended a Pinal County Planning and Zoning Commission hearing on the project Thursday.

Most opposed Nga Huynh and her husband Phong Dang Nguyen's application for a special-use permit to allow 10 RV spaces on 11.6 acres they own northeast of the city along Arizona 88 and Kaniksu Street.
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The property owners, most who live at least a quarter of a mile away, said the RVs would hurt their property values, destroy scenic views and create noise and odors.

"The problem with trailer parks is that they bring in transients and low-income things," said Chuck Larson, who lives on an adjacent property. "They drift through neighborhoods, they steal things and they attract druggies and riffraff. It's going to ruin our quality of life." Full Story...

It's a weekend for race cars and RVs

James and Joy Gassaway exchanged vows and wedding rings last year, not far from this shaded spot along a gravel road where they parked their recreational vehicle for the weekend.

"Yeah, we got married down in Victory Lane," James said. "I took her to her very first race 10 years ago at Talladega (Ala.). I don't have to go by myself anymore."

Said Joy: "It got me hooked. I haven't been the same since."

When Kentucky Speedway's general campground opened at noon Thursday - 56 hours before the start of Saturday's Meijer 300 NASCAR Busch Series race - the Gassaway's were 31st in a line of race fans and RVs that stretched more than one mile south to Highway 35.

"And we got here at 5 p.m. Wednesday," said James, who has held season tickets since the track first opened. Full Story...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Long Time RVers Love to get in a Jam

Marge and Elmer Kriesel have been motorhome dwellers for the past 24 years, spending every November–April in McAllen, Texas. There, they discovered, “jamming,” an informal gathering of musicians of all caliber of talent, is a favorite pastime.

“It’s quite a thing in Texas,” said the guitar-playing Elmer, 79. “You might have 50–60 people playing.”

Marge and Elmer’s love of music is life-long.

At age 11, Elmer sold garden seeds to buy his first guitar. He was inspired by his cousins, Molly and Dolly, the Sunshine Girls, who sang with cowboy legend, Gene Autry.

Shortly after Elmer and Marge were married, they paid Molly and Dolly’s parents a visit and who should drop by, but the legend himself. Even today, Marge and Elmer are still quite taken by the memory. Full Story...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Federal Fees dropped for some Arizona Recreational areas

If you're headed up Catalina Highway, you can visit several more recreational sites without paying the $5 federal fee.

Nine overlook areas on the way to Mount Lemmon are now fee-free, said Jim Payne, regional information officer for the U.S. Forest Service. The change went into effect yesterday after a review of a law Congress passed last year revealed that 14 spots in the Coronado and Prescott national forests don't qualify for charges.

Other Arizona areas where fees were dropped are:

Snow Flat Group Campground and Treasure Park Group Campground on Mount Graham.

Groom Creek Trailhead, the Lynx Creek Gold Panning Site and Mingus Summit/Rest Area in Prescott National Forest.

Advice for newcomers to the mobile home

They might have a different name in Wales but the advice to first-time motorhome buyers is the still sound. Get the Story...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Cleanup and repairs begin as Montana floodwaters recede

Fred McElhenney was sitting in his 32-foot motor home watching television Friday afternoon at Montana Pines RV Resort about eight miles north of Polson when he looked out and saw the parking and picnic area out front had turned into a pond, and the pond was on the verge of becoming a lake.

"I moved the car out, but I wasn't thinking the water was not going to go as high as the motor home," he said.

He was wrong.

The water rose at least 2 more feet over the ensuing 24 hours, and his motor home was still stranded with four tires in the water on Monday afternoon. The diesel engine was in the rear of the big vehicle and on the uphill side of the RV space, so it stayed above water and was probably not damaged, he said.

Two other recreational-vehicle parks along the east shore of Flathead Lake experienced high-water damage, and some parking and camping spots were still under standing water Monday afternoon. Full Story...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Buyers Moving Toward Diesel Power

A recent study by the University of Michigan/ Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) indicates RV ownership has reached record levels. Nearly one in 12 U.S. vehicle-owning households now owns an RV, adding up to nearly 7 million households. Another 8 million U.S. households are projected to own RVs by 2010, a 15 percent increase outpacing overall U.S. household growth.

Analysts report retail registrations for diesel RVs are up 11 percent in 2005, and for the first time ever, the number of diesel-powered motorhomes produced is expected to surpass gas-powered motorhomes in 2005.

RV Rental Companies Optimistic about Outlook for RV Rentals

Buoyed by advanced bookings and more capacity, RV rental companies are extremely optimistic about the outlook for motorhome and travel trailer rentals this summer and throughout 2005. RV rental activity is expected to grow by an average of 36 percent this year, according to a new survey of RV Rental Association (RVRA) members.

"People are ready to travel this summer and renting an RV is one of the best ways to see the country," said RVRA Chairman Bert Alanko. "RVRA members tell us they"re adding more RVs to their rental fleets to satisfy consumer demand for vacation travel and trips to special events, such as auto races and concerts." Full Story...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Workhorse builds 100,000th Motorhome Chassis

Workhorse Custom Chassis marked a major milestone Wednesday as it celebrated the 100,000th chassis to come off its production line since it began operations in 1999.

In that time, Workhorse has become the leading manufacturer of Class A (bus-style) motor home chassis. According to 2004 R.L. Polk data of new vehicle registrations, the top ten RV dealers in the United States ordered 79 percent of their Class A gas motor home inventory on Workhorse chassis.

Workhorse achieved this status by introducing dramatic innovations to improve the power, performance, ride, handling and overall appeal of new motor homes. Thanks to Workhorse, the rapidly growing RV market now has more choices than ever to offer new buyers.

Joining Workhorse in its 100,000th chassis celebration was one of its biggest customers, Winnebago Industries Inc. Full Story...

Fleetwood RV Factory to Be Featured on Episode of John Ratzenberger's Made in America

Fleetwood RV, a leading manufacturer of recreational vehicles, will drive into the spotlight as a featured company in an upcoming episode of the nationally syndicated show, John Ratzenberger's Made in America, airing on the Travel Channel on Tuesday, June 7, 2005, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The episode will spotlight John Ratzenberger's December 6, 2004, visit to Fleetwood's Riverside motor home manufacturing plant and paint facility. Alongside his crew and Fleetwood RV's Director of Product Planning Luc van Herle, John Ratzenberger dedicated an entire day to touring and filming the facility, primarily focusing on one of Fleetwood's flagship brands -- the Pace Arrow.

The Pace Arrow, a high-end Class A gas motor home, was Fleetwood's first motor home brand, which debuted in 1969. The Pace Arrow has evolved over the years and now includes such innovations as full-body paint and even a full-wall-slide floor plan.

Ratzenberger is best known as the voice of several characters from the Academy Award-winning Pixar films, including Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and The Incredibles, as well as mailman Cliff Clavin on the TV comedy "Cheers." Full Story...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Thor Reports Record RV Sales

Thor Industries, Inc. announced record sales, net income, and E.P.S. for the third quarter and nine months ended April 30, 2005 and record RV unit retail sales in May.

Thor's RV retail sales in the 5 months ended May 31, 2005 were up 8% over last year, to a record 36,038 units versus 33,507 last year. In May, Thor RV retail unit sales surged 18%, to 11,171 easily the highest for any month in the company's history and up from 9,511 last year. CrossRoads retail sales are included in both years. Full Story...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Airstream ends production of Land Yacht Motorhome

Airstream is celebrating the conclusion to 16 years of production of its most successful gasoline-powered motorhome to date, by offering a $5,000 gas rebate on its Land Yacht Gas (LYG) motorhome.

Introduced in 1989, the Land Yacht was visionary and technologically advanced, featuring a contoured radius exterior sidewall design, air suspension and the use of premium brand-name components. Its exclusive use of the Chevrolet and Workhorse P-chassis provided good handling and fuel economy. The low-profile motorhome proved to be a continued success, surviving many years beyond an "expected life span." Full Story...

DIRECWAY Hits Quarter Million Subscriber Milestone

Hughes Network Systems, provider of satellite broadband solutions, announced today that the company continues to achieve record growth in its DIRECWAY® consumer and small business subscriber base. During Q2 2005, HNS total subscriber base has reached more than 250,000 customers, achieving double digit growth from Q4 2004.

RVers on Mission converging on Waco

A group of people converging this week in Waco has pledged to go with God – via recreational vehicle.

At least 400 people from 30 states are assembling at the Heart O' Texas Fairgrounds for a three-day national convention by Campers on Mission, a Christian nondenominational service organization made up of RV enthusiasts. The event kicks off Wednesday. Full Story...

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