Monday, July 31, 2006

Motor home on the range

The asphalt gleamed under light drizzle. The Challenger, 35 feet long and at least 12 feet high, loomed before me, a cruise ship on wheels. My friends and I had loaded our duffel bags and lawn chairs, and now we stared at it, our one-bedroom, one-bath home, our mode of transportation, our rented recreational vehicle.

We'd just been through a bewildering 90-minute orientation on everything from the retractable hand-cranked TV antenna to the order of emptying sewage tanks (black water first, gray water second). Nick, our RV guru, closed with these words: "It's easier to drive than it looks. The most common thing is people hit the pole when they're leaving the gas station. You've got to remember, this thing weighs 50,000 pounds. Anything you hit is going to tear off."

That short lesson in physics didn't seem like enough to qualify us for piloting this leviathan across the Great Plains to east central Kansas and back in four days, but it was.

Our destination was an outdoor symphony concert near Emporia, Kan. The hotels and motels nearby were booked up. An RV seemed like a simple solution. We'd just drive our own hotel to Kansas. Full Story...

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Americans should start arriving at any moment.

THE Americans should start arriving at any moment.

Over by the picnic table, Gloria MacDonald busies herself with the forest of fluttering plastic bags, making one last count just to be sure.

"Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three."

Somewhere out there, picking their way along the narrow roads of Hants County, orderly convoys of recreational vehicles are heading toward the large empty field where we’re standing.

Gloria is the Nova Scotia representative for Adventure Caravan International, a Texas company that organizes modern-day wagon trains of RVers, as enthusiasts are known. These travellers assemble with their vehicles, ranging from compact campers to huge homes on wheels, and set off for the horizon, roaming around the U.S., Mexico, Canada and beyond.

"They’re all sweethearts," Gloria says of RVers. "The youngest we’ve had was 45. One chap was 85!" Full Story...

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Motorhome shooting still a mystery

After a second day of investigation into the shooting death of a man who entered a motorhome parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot, Cedar City police had yet to determine whether to file any charges Thursday.

Steven Stubbs, 26, was shot in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun at about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday after he entered the motor home and refused to leave, Cedar City Police Lt. David Holm said.

"No decisions are going to be made until we get a chance to put this whole thing together," said Cedar City Police Sgt. Jerry Womack.

The family in the motor home, a husband and wife and their two daughters, were on vacation from Cape Coral, Fla., and planning to visit Grand Canyon National Park.

Now they just want to go home, said Tracy Coltellino, the wife and mother. Full Story...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Man shot to death in Wal-Mart parking lot

A 26-year-old Cedar City man was fatally shot during a struggle in a Cedar City Wal-Mart parking lot.
Police say the intruder was shot while he allegedly tried to force his way into a motorhome parked in the lot.
A Florida family inside the motorhome told police they were on vacation in the area.
Police found the man slumped on the stairs of the motorhome and pronounced him dead.
Police are investigating the shooting. No arrests have been made.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Provincial law prompts retailer to post signs telling RVers to sleep elsewhere

After 45 years of lobbying the provincial government to crack down on illegal camping in the province, the camping industry is now receiving help from a company that has long benefited from the practice -- Wal-Mart.

The retailer has begun posting signs in parking lots it owns, informing RV owners about a provincial law that prohibits the practice and asking them not to park overnight, says Leanne Hachey of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

While the company's American counterpart views RV owners as a lucrative market and actively pursues their business by promoting overnight parking in their lots, Wal-Mart Canada is more concerned about being a good a corporate citizen than about losing revenue.

With more than 73,000 RVs visiting Nova Scotia last year alone, RV owners contribute significantly to the province's tourism sector.

The president of the Campground Owners Association of Nova Scotia says she considers Wal-Mart's decision a "wonderful first step" in helping to address the long-standing issue. Full Story...

Friday, July 14, 2006

RVs satisfy boomers' wanderlust

Angie Taylor kept calling her RV a motor home or trailer.

However, when your recreation vehicle is a 31-foot Allegra with leather seats, a master bedroom suite and washer and dryer, calling it a ''trailer,'' she quickly learned, is tacky.

''There's a whole world out there that has its own lingo,'' says Taylor, who with her husband, David, are in familiar baby-boomer territory: empty nesters with time on their hands, money in their pockets and dreams to fulfill.

Goodlettsville resident Mark Paul, who calls himself a ''boomer kid,'' has expendable income and doesn't mind using it to enjoy life wandering the country with his wife, Brenda.

''I told my wife when we first got this thing. I said, 'I'm going to be 60 soon. I don't know any real old guys who are 60, and I don't know any young guys who are 70.' ''

He says the decision to go ahead and spend the money now is easy once ''you realize maybe you've got six, eight, 10 years of good life before you're in some rest home drooling.''

He's only half joking. Full Story...

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Fleetwood Reports Fiscal 2006 Fourth Quarter and Full Year Financial Results

RIVERSIDE, Calif., July 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. FLE announced today financial results for the fiscal 2006 fourth quarter and full year ended April 30, 2006.

Consolidated Results

Consolidated revenues from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 improved 8 percent to $602.6 million from $560.2 million in the prior year's fourth quarter. The Company generated income from continuing operations of $2.8 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, versus incurring a loss from continuing operations of $55.8 million, or $1.00 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of the prior year. Net income for the quarter, which included results from discontinued operations, was $1.7 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $120.5 million, or $2.16 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

For fiscal year 2006, consolidated revenues from continuing operations increased 2 percent to $2.43 billion from $2.37 billion in the prior year. Fleetwood's loss from continuing operations narrowed sharply to $6.1 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, from $72.6 million, or $1.31 per diluted share, in fiscal 2005. The net loss for fiscal 2006 also was reduced significantly to $28.4 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, from a net loss of $161.5 million, or $2.92 per diluted share, in the prior year. Full Story...

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Deaths of two hikers weigh on minds of campers

VERLOT, WA -- By early Thursday afternoon, yellow crime scene tape disappeared and police had reopened the Bear and Pinnacle Lake Trail where a mother and daughter were slain earlier in the week.

Hikers hadn't returned, however, and the two-mile muddy path remained largely deserted -- a situation, park officials said, that might be more about two days of rain than homicides.

Even so, the two deaths were on the minds of a handful of nearby campers in the popular forest area 15 miles east of Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway.

Dennis Hill, 58, said he'd keep everyone in his group closer together as a result of the unsolved killings. "I figure my odds of being a victim are low," the retired Kenmore resident said. "But it will influence what we do." Full Story...

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Road rovers

Twenty-five years ago Buzzy and De Wood of Franklin began camping as a couple in a camper on the back of a truck.

As their three children grew, their needs changed. They upgraded to a tent trailer; then to a 19-foot travel trailer. Later they moved up to a 26-foot bunkhouse travel trailer, a fifth wheeler and then finally a self-contained motor home.

"With a motor home, there’s freedom," said Buzzy Wood. "We have no clocks, we can go where we want to go, not where the hotels or airports are and we don’t have to pay for a hotel. It’s always been in my blood."

Packing for the trips was always light -- without an itinerary. "We’d just go out of the driveway and one of us would say: ’Well, we haven’t been to Maine yet,’ and that’s where we would go," said De Wood. Full Story...

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