I still haven’t been to the Tampa RV Supershow. Perhaps next year depending on our travels south.
According to RV news, the show achieved record attendance levels:
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) enjoyed a record attendance of more than 73,000 participants at its five-day 2018 Florida RV Supershow last week.
“We experienced the perfect storm of pent-up demand, record stock market levels, low interest rates, stable gas prices and five beautiful days of weather,” said FRVTA Marketing Director David Kelly.
The Supershow’s theme was “Wherever You Roam, You’re Always at Home,” reflecting the reality that RV users can bring hunting, fishing, and camping equipment in addition to anything else their traveling companions want, and even if they move on to a new location, everything is still with them. One of the highlights was a new seminar, “RVing 101- Everything You Need to Know,” which was aimed at first-time RV buyers and tried to answer all basic consumer questions. The seminar was so popular that more chairs had to be added to the seminar area after the first session.
“We feel that the Supershow reflects the attitudes of the RV consumers nationwide as so many attendees come from all over the country,” Kelly said. “If the Supershow is any indication, the industry is on pace to set more records again this year.”
Hopefully the Goldilocks economy continues to roll along for a few more years. And hopefully there will be some sites available as all of these first-time RV buyers hit the road. We are planning to book way ahead of our travel plans just to make sure we have a good spot.
The Freightliner Chassis Owners Club had an article in their Winter 2017 publication of RV Soul on the importance of having a towing checklist. They credit the list to Blue Ox, a company that specializes in products for motorhome owners to flat tow their vehicles.
Here is the list:
- Inspect the tow bar, dolly or trailer for loose bolts and worn part – tighten or replace before hooking up. If you have bolts that are consistently coming loose, use Loctite® or put on a double nut to keep them tight.
- Hook up on a flat, smooth surface.
- If you have a coupler-style tow bar, check the fit of the coupler on the ball. Adjust if necessary.
- Hook up the tow bar.
- Set up the towed vehicle’s steering and transmission to tow.
- Check your parking brake to ensure it is off and disengaged.
- Latch the legs on a self-aligning tow bar.
- Attach the safety cables. Cross the cables between the vehicles and wrap the cables around the tow bar legs to keep from dragging.
- Attach the electrical cable and tow brake system connections.
- Check the function of all lights on both vehicles.
- Locate your spare key and lock the towed vehicle’s doors.
- Drive with care and remember your vehicle will be about 25 feet longer while towing.
- Each time you stop, make sure to check the tow bar, baseplate and safety cables to ensure they are still properly attached. Pay particular attention to the hitch clips and pins that secure your tow bar or drop hitch to the motorhome hitch. Many breakaways occur because a pin clip has been removed and the pin drops out, allowing the toad to be dragged on the safety cables. Check the tires of the towed vehicle to make sure they are not going flat. If you are using a dolly or trailer, check the wheels to make sure they are not hot to the touch. If the wheels are hot, it may indicate a brake or bearing problem.
- Before you start each day, check the lights to make sure they are working properly.
- Between trips, clean the tow bar and cables to keep them in good shape. Also, clean and lubricate the tow bar as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions (usually by applying spray silicone lubricant).
- Have a checklist. It’s just too easy to get distracted and forget something (like ignition position, emergency brake, breakaway hook-up, transmission in wrong position, etc.).
- Make sure you have a second key to the tow vehicle. That way you can leave your rig parked and hooked up without having to worry about unlocked doors.
- Check all the connections every time you fuel up or make a rest stop.
- Never let yourself be interrupted when hooking up. Keep your mind on your work.
There were a few items that stood out for me. Making sure that we have a second key to the tow vehicle safely stowed. Checking hitch clips and pins. And having a thorough checklist.
I remember reading about Nina and Paul, the couple behind the popular Wheeling It blog, when they had their first RV accident in 2016: their tow car came loose while in transit. They avoided a potentially devastating accident although they did incur a fair amount of damage to their toad and some damage to the rear of their coach. One of the big lessons that they learned through the experience:
More Regular Checks On The Road: It’s possible we could have avoided all this by implementing more checks on the road. When we first hook-up we follow a pretty rigorous process where both of us double-check each others’ work (4x check), so we know without a doubt that the cotter pins were firmly on there when we started driving. But once we start driving we generally don’t check again. In this case we took a ferry (we were stopped for a while) and then had some bumpy driving thereafter and admittedly we did not double-check the tow connections after either of those events. I honestly have no idea if this would have helped (we really don’t know exactly when we lost the cotter pin), but I think that getting into the habit of walking around the rig and doing a double-check of tow connections whenever you are stopped (or things significantly change) is a good idea.
One thing I do think about when getting ready to travel is to treat every trip as a new trip and to be disciplined in running through our circle checks. Sometimes I just want to hop in and get started as quickly as possible. Easy to do in a car. Not safe to do in a large motorhome.
We stay at KOAs. But only when we don’t have a choice. I find most of them to be too expensive for the experience which is generally very tight sites, gravel pads and, for big rigs like ours, tight access and issues with clearing trees.
Every year, KOA selects a campground of the year. For 2018, the winner is the Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mountain KOA Holiday.
This would be one of their sites:
If that was the campground of the year, I was curious to see one of the worst KOA campgrounds. I didn’t have to work that hard to find it. Acton/Los Angeles North KOA. A typical review on tripadvisor:
Disgusting rat hole of a campground
This is the worst place ever… with the sewer smell from the septic tank… ants crawling all over the walls and toilets in the bathrooms and the laundry room is a joke and the prices this place charges you can go up to the rv resort on Sierra Highway for the same price you have cell phone service and WiFi and a beautiful view of the valley and a swimming pool that is taken care of properly …. so people if you are passing thru the Acton area this is not the place to stay. Again go to the rv resort on Sierra Highway for top of the line camping experience
The sites there appear to have no boundaries. They look to be offered on an unpaved parking lot with very little separation.
It makes me appreciate some of the beautiful spots we have found in our travels to date. Especially in the Petoskey, Michigan area.
And I am certain that we will find many more beautiful spots for our coach in the years to come. If that means the occasional stay in a more rustic KOA setting in transit, so be it. All part of the experience.
Well, I guess it is important to keep making goals, even into retirement. And I have a few.
The most important goal? Create the future us. As my retirement date quickly approaches, Lorraine and I will be pursuing a new chapter of life, the best time of our lives. We have a chance to follow passions and dreams different from the time we have spent during career and raising family. As I have been reminded time and again, we need to retire to something and not from something.
Lorraine and I have talked about many things related to retirement. More often than not, it has been focused on the financial side. Are we ready? Do we have enough money set aside?
Now that the date has been declared and the time is quickly approaching, we are spending more time talking about the what and the why. Our goals and our key motivations for the next few years.
I have some personal goals — I always have been a bit of a driven person — and I will have a lot more time coming my way to act on them. I have no doubt that I can keep myself busy however it is important to me that Lorraine and I go through this stage of life as we have through our 38 years of marriage: together, continuing to grow and continuing to contribute as a couple. Which means not just me and my goals.
We are obviously looking forward to our travels. Lots of adventures will be coming our way.
Lorraine has already started the new year with a big goal: getting us ready to explore North America in our coach. We have mapped out most of what we want to do in the United States as Canadian snowbirds during our first winter as retirees. We will need to map out the first 12 – 18 months with a bit of structure and yet leave room for spontaneity.
According to my countdown app, I have 6 months, 1 week and 3 days to go before I have a major change in how I have been living life.
A bit scared.
But still excited.
We bought a 2018 Lincoln MKX Reserve as our toad for our coach. Cash deal on the coldest evening of this brutally cold winter. A bit easier to negotiate a good deal on a vehicle at this time of year. Very few people out car shopping immediately after Christmas. And, since most Canadians are locked into their igloos right now, afraid to venture outdoors for fear of immediate frostbite in minus 30 Celsius wind chills, our dealer was more than anxious to close the deal at a fair price.
Why the Lincoln MKX over the Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Styling, features and feel. Ultimately a preference as both vehicles would have worked as a toad for our coach.
First time back to a North American car in several decades for me. This vehicle came out of the Oakville plant here in Canada.
I hope the team at Lincoln built a good car. I guess we will find out.
Getting closer to that time where we need to get our toad. Although many cars can be towed behind a coach with four wheels down, there are a limited number of vehicles where the manufacturer approves flat towing. There are guides published each year by the FMCA and Motorhome Magazine.
We have decided to tow four wheels down as opposed to a dolly or trailer. And that reduces our choice of vehicles.
Both vehicles come with generally favourable reviews. For the Lincoln MKX, they made substantial improvements in recent model years making it a competitive offering in the luxury midsize crossover market. The Jeep Grand Cherokee seems to be a standard toad vehicle for many. We see them all the time behind Class A motorhomes.
I am leaning towards the Lincoln although I will have to make sure that Lorraine is onside.
As the dealers are frozen in arctic temperatures with our current ice age weather, now might be a good time to chip away at the 2017s and make a great deal.
Just in case some of my friends in the United States have never seen a Canadian hundred-dollar note. Canadians generally do not carry large bills. The hundred-dollar note is the highest-valued and least-circulated note in Canada.
Perhaps a Feedspot with the title “Top 100 RV Blogs Every RV or Motorhome Travel Enthusiast Must Follow” is a bit like the Canadian hundred-dollar note. It takes the highest-valued websites using metrics like Facebook fans, Twitter followers and Alexa Rank and evaluates sites to score the top 100 RV blogs. And, perhaps like the Canadian hundred-dollar note, few people make use of this particular Feedspot.
I spend a lot of time following the RV community on the web and I haven’t visited most of the top 100 blogs on this particular list.
The number 1 RV blog according to Feedspot?
You can take a look through the complete list here. There were a few familiar ones for me like RV Daily Report, Technomedia, Wheelingit, RV Love but most were not. I checked out a few of them. Some Canadians were on the list like the Bayfield Bunch and Full Time Canada. A large number of the sites on the list were nothing more than storefronts for RV dealers.
And no, our blog was not in the top 100.
Another glorious Canadian winter. And, as I write this post, in our hometown, we are colder than the North Pole.
The brutal cold is a big reason why so many Canadians go south in the winter in their retirement years. I am hoping that U.S. lawmakers will pass H.R. 3513, the Canadian Snowbird Visa Act. The legislation, proposed by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla), would extend the time Canadian citizens, aged 50 or older, may stay in the United States from 6 months to 8 months.
And that would suit us just fine.
Canada is a beautiful country and in certain regions, between May and October, the weather patterns are quite pleasant. But whenever winter hits hard, it can get cold.
Really, really cold.
On my bucket list for retirement is never to be cold again.