Saturday, August 29, 2009

RV Realities

August 29, 2009
Becket, MA

Guess what folks, it's raining again! The clouds moved into this area about 4 p.m. yesterday and it has rained continually since with no relief in sight until tomorrow. As fate would have it, we chose to undertake our travels in the wettest season for the Northeast states in over 100 years. Thankfully, in contrast to past postings, there are no leaks in the unit. I have spent a great deal of time over the past month re-sealing the roof seams and, so far, it appears to have solved the problem. If nothing else, the constant rains have helped us better understand some of the realities of full-time RV living.

As with all things, perceptions are often much different than realities. One of the reasons we began this blog was to explain the realities of our full-time RV lifestyle; both for those who may be considering undertaking the same path and those we talk with who still seem confused about the concept. Almost a year before we bought our unit or hit the open road, both of us completed extensive research on motor homes and RV lifestyles. It is amazing how much solid information on these topics can be found on the Internet, ranging from those with over thirty years experience to those who, like us, are just beginners. Thank God, because there's nothing worse than discovering, after the fact, that where you ended up is not how the territory looked going in.

So, based upon both our research and other aspects we have learned along the way, here are a few thoughts on the matter.......

First and foremost, a full-time RV lifestyle is not suitable for everyone. This was a major topic discussed by all experts and has proven true from our experiences. It requires major shifts in how one perceives - and reacts to - concepts of time, space, shelter and relationships. It requires a "paradigm shift", as it were, in relating to what you were raised to think about a home and/or shelter and then residing in an entirely new way. It requires being open to constant changes in both your environment and within yourself. It requires giving up material things and adjusting to more basic necessities. It requires adapting to new patterns in living in a smaller space, and spending more time with your partner. It requires thinking things through in a new way.

Before this is mistaken as a means to discourage others from the lifestyle, let me make it clear that is not my intention. The full-time RV lifestyle can be both adventurous and rewarding. There are just some basic realities that should be considered before making a major lifestyle change. Ask yourself these questions; how much time each day do you actually spend one-on-one with your partner?; how many of your current possessions could you fit into an RV?; could you adjust to living with fewer, or no, TV channels for weeks at a time?; could you plan ahead enough to stock a food supply for seven days?; would you know where to stop for enough fuel to fill an 80 gallon tank? These are all realities that are important for determining not only if you are suitable to the lifestyle, but also important in determining which RV your purchase and how you plan your travels along the way. They are all realities that we have found to be core to our experiences so far.

A few other things we have learned....

Become a member of AAA Auto Club, Camping World and Passport America: AAA provides up to 100 miles in towing and roadside assistance for RVs. Camping World is an invaluable resource for supplies and maintenance. Passport America provides deep discounts for stays at private campgrounds throughout North America & Mexico. The small fees required for membership in all three will save you a tremendous amount of money over the long run.

Know basic mechanical skills: Over the past four months I have re-sealed the roof, repaired a leaky toilet valve, tightened exhaust couplings, repaired cabinets, completed routine maintenance on fluid levels and oil changes in both the engine and generator, changed lightbulbs, replaced bad fuses and learned all systems of our unit inside and out. There is nothing more important when you are miles from a major population than an ability to complete quick repairs and having the tools on hand for any task that may arise.

Learn to cook with smaller appliances: Even though we have a four-burner gas stove and oven, we have found it saves a tremendous amount to cook on as many electric appliances as possible; we are paying for the electric we use at each stop, so why have the added expense of using our LP for the same purpose? Appliances like a crock pot, toaster oven, electric skillet and a small electric burner have proven invaluable in keeping our expenses as low as possible.

Be wary of GPS directions: GPS systems are an essential item to have in an emergency on the open road, but can be very unreliable in the best routes for large RV units. Had the owner of the Beaver Springs Campground not warned us to take a different exit than GPS provided we would have faced a very steep incline along narrow, twisting mountain roads. For the same reason, purchase the National Geographics Road Atlas: RV & Camping Edition: it is an invaluable resource.

Be open to change: Part of the fun we have found in this lifestyle is being open to new experiences and learning quickly to adapt to unexpected changes that arise along the way. It's part of the adventure.

Hope you have enjoyed these thoughts and insights. Will update you later from somewhere down the road.

copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer

Friday, August 28, 2009

RV Life

August 28, 2009

We arrived midday for a three night stop at Bonnie Rigg Campground in Becket, MA. The short drive along I-90 out of NY and into the Berkshires of MA was beautiful. After a very boring two week stay at Frosty Acres Campground outside of Schenectady we couldn't get here fast enough.

The focus in this posting is to share some of the realities of RV living. It was one of the original reasons for beginning this blog and we have found plenty of new reasons to pass along our experiences after staying at what I now call the Frost-My-A$$ Campground. It was not a good experience.

We came across Frosty Acres through our membership in Passport America, a very good resource for discount stays at private campgrounds throughout North America & Mexico. The place looked great on paper - free wifi, ample electric hookups, weekend activities and a great nightly rate. Sadly what we experienced was a lack of wifi, inadequate electrical currents, spaces too small to comfortably park any unit over thirty feet in length, a dump station at the top of a very steep hill, a smelly drainage lagoon within thirty feet of our area and questionable long-term residents. We can give them credit for having a well-stocked store and clean facilities, but their total apathy towards short-term guests made the overall experience uncomfortable. The bottom line is we were deceived. After managing a resort for three years it was not hard for us to quickly understand the place is badly run. Our advise is to avoid this campground if at all possible.

With that being said, we plan to relax and enjoy a comfortable evening in a lush, more accommodating forest campground setting. I will post again tomorrow and expand further upon more realities of a full-time RV lifestyle.

copyright 2009 Lane A. Geyer
Photo by Deb

Friday, August 7, 2009

New York

August 11, 2009
Davenport, NY

It has been a beautiful time for us at Beaver Spring Lake Campground in Davenport, NY.

We left our last stop early morning of July 31 and headed further North; first on I-83 to I-81 then onto I-88. Once again we experienced RAIN! The trip was smooth until we ran into construction on I-81 North of Scranton, PA. This was during some of the heaviest downpours and it was a very rough ride. There is major resurfacing underway in both directions. If you are planning a trip along this route anytime soon I would advise finding an alternative route. The backups are horrible and the ride is rough enough to dislodge molars.

We eventually arrived in Oneonta, NY late afternoon and, after a stop for food supplies, headed East on S.R. 23 to the campground.

Beaver Spring Lake Campground is located just outside of Davenport, NY in a very scenic area of the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. The grounds and facilities are immaculately kept, the scenery is beautiful, there is a well-stocked camp store and wifi access by the office. They offer 120 campsites, have an in-ground swimming pool and regular weekend events. Many of the sites are occupied by long-term seasonal guests and there is a very family-friendly atmosphere throughout the entire grounds. The weather has been warm during the days and cool during nights; sometimes very cool for us South Floridians.

Our first weekend here was a very festive occasion. On Saturday there was a huge party to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the campground being in continual operation and the 10th anniversary for current owners Bob & Betty. Hundreds of people of all ages, both those staying here and others from outside the grounds, enjoyed a glorious day of food, live music and raffle drawings. It was a nice way to settle into the area.

Will update you later on our journey from somewhere down the road.

Copyright 2009 Lane A. Geyer
Photos by Deb