Our plan was to attend the Hershey RV show Friday and Saturday.
We arrived on Friday to a pretty quiet day at the show. We were there from 10am until about 7pm. Long day but we had a lot of fun.
I’ll spend a bit of time posting about our window shopping first. The Hershey RV was our opportunity to relook at a number of coaches and to see if we had any tinge of buyer’s remorse. The short answer? None whatsoever. Although there was one coach that was very tempting.
There are four coaches that compete very closely: Entegra, Tiffin, American Coach and Newmar. Sure, there are other coaches from Thor, Fleetwood and Winnebago, but realistically, those four coaches would be at the top of our shopping list if we were looking to buy this year.
Having lived in the Castaway since June and having run the coach on several long road trips, we have more than a bit of a feel for the Newmar product. We love it and if we were to make a purchase decision today, we would still go with the Newmar Dutch Star. It is a wonderful coach and the Newmar support has been terrific.
Entegra was a strong candidate for us last year. Going through the coaches at the show this year, I could see why. The Entegra products offer a lot for the dollar. Now, I could nitpick on a number of items with the Entegra coaches, which is true for all of these coaches as not one is perfect, but the main issue for us was the floorplan. We could not find a floorplan we really loved in a 40-foot coach in the Entegra line. I’m not sure what impact the Thor acquisition may have on the Entegra line. Most M&A activities are conducted to build scale and lower costs. I guess we will have to wait and see what, if anything, this acquisition might due to the Entegra customer base. What that acquisition concern us if we were buying this year? Hard to say.
For us, the Tiffin line was nice but not to our liking. Again primarily due to floorplans in a 40-foot coach. We had quickly ruled their products out of the running last year when we were going through our finalist list. The one and only dealer in Ontario, McPhail’s of Harriston, was a significant distance from our home. And then there was a lot of online feedback about required trips to Red Bay, Alabama to deal with warranty items.
As we went through the Entegra and Tiffin coaches, we were reassured in our decision to buy the Castaway from Newmar.
That said, the American Coach products were very impressive. We really liked the American Dream. Beautiful coach and a really nice floorplan albeit at 42 feet and just a wee bit more expensive than the Dutch Star. Okay, maybe a lot more expensive. Very nice coach.
Oh, and I did find my Basecamp at the show. Such a cool little travel trailer.
Lots more to share about the Hershey RV show so stay tuned.
We were a bit late in finding a site near the Hershey RV show and we did not want to boondock at the show itself. We found a place to hangout for a few nights at the Lancaster/New Holland KOA.
Although the weather forecast was originally sunny and warm, we found a mostly cloudy and overcast weather pattern for our stay. No rain, but most of the scenery was tempered by a greyish mood to the light.
The New Holland area is home to Lancaster County’s Amish community. It is really quite a beautiful area and we will go back so that we can spend a lot more time here. The Discover Lancaster website is a good resource if you are thinking about travelling in this area.
We loved the area. We had a quiet campground with awesome views of the countryside. It felt private and it was also very quiet. The customer service at this KOA? About what I expected when reading the reviews for this campground. Mixed. If all you need is a place to park for a few nights and nothing else, then this place is fine. If you need anything outside of the basics, be warned. Bonnie, who has a bit of a reputation online, is not what I would consider to be a customer focused individual.
That said, we were gone for most of our time here. It took us about an hour to drive to the Hershey RV from this campsite. And we left early and returned late each day that we were here.
On our first night, we enjoyed a meal at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord.
Oh my goodness. What a place.
Good thing that we had not eaten very much that first day. So much great food!
Shady Maple is very popular so best to avoid it on the weekends.
So, without further fanfare, here is our review of the Lancaster/New Holland KOA.
Overall I would rate this park 7.5 out of 10.
We don’t mind paying more for a nice experience however this campground is overpriced. We paid $87 per night presumably for the view and the location. There is really not much else to this KOA. A basic gravel pull-through site with full hook-ups. Water pressure was low at our site and we elected to fill our freshwater tank and run off the internal water pump.
The park was well maintained. And it was very quiet. Not much in the way of kids probably because there is nothing for them to do here. Which suits us fine. We enjoy quiet and peaceful surroundings and this KOA delivers exactly that.
Getting into the Park
Be prepared for an adventurous drive getting to this campground. I have never seen such a convoluted route on a GPS. We were coming southbound on I-81 and spent almost 2 hours after leaving the Interstate to get to this KOA. We must have crossed every possible turnpike and roadway in this part of Pennsylvania. Tight roads, lots of hills, numerous small towns. If you are driving a big rig, well, let’s just say the drive to the campground will be a bit challenging.
This KOA is located in the country. It is near the small community of New Holland and it is actually a fair distance from Lancaster. We thought that we would have a relatively moderate drive of 6 hours or so. It took us more than 10 hours to get here. The toughest part of the drive was the last 2 hours. The Interstate was smooth for the most part although there was an extensive amount of construction work on the bridges of I-81 that proved interesting for a big rig. Someone needs to tell those highway folks to put the cones on the other side of the lane marker. We hit several areas where the cones were set inside our lane by a good foot or so making it very tough to stay between the lines.
Although complicated to get to this site from the Interstate, this part of Pennsylvania is truly beautiful. Wonderful vistas for the passenger. For the pilot, well I had to stay pretty focused on the driving.
Pulling into the KOA you will find a barrier just before the office. We were let in as we had arrived during office hours. The office check-in was quick. We received a basic map and a keycard with a stern warning to bring it back or pay a $20 penalty.
We were assigned X10 although any of the sites from X1-X14 are nice. Great views in front and not tightly packed. Sites 32-41 are also very nice. Similar views as the X sites. Access to the gravel sites is via paved road. Our site was level and we had no issues pulling in and getting set up. One well used picnic table and one fire pit. No trees in the X sites.
Very quiet park catering more to older couples
Clean and well maintained
Good lot size and expansive views of the Amish countryside
Limited services and facilities so make sure that this park will work for you and your family
Lots of mixed reviews on the web in terms of customer service
Our customer service experience?
Well, we had rented a car from Enterprise. We needed to leave early Sunday morning and getting the car back to the rental agency would take us about 40 minutes out of our way. We had to make the drive home in one day and we knew from our experience coming down that the drive was more in the range of 8 – 10 hours.
Enterprise kindly offered to pick up the car at the campground. Leave the keys at the office, park the car outside the gate and they would come by and pick it up.
Only Bonnie would not support that kind act. Her view was that they were not in the car rental business and that they would not hold the keys nor would they allow the car to be left outside the gate.
Fair enough. But I really did not understand why this would be such an imposition.
We travelled all the way into New Holland to return the car and travelled all the way back before we could begin the drive home.
Not a big deal but just be warned. The reviews on this KOA are mixed and I can understand why. This won’t be the type of place that will look to go much beyond the basics.
There is much to learn about operating an RV, especially what to do when things go wrong.
For the first time in my life, I was locked inside a motorcoach.
Lorraine and I were travelling down to the Hershey RV show in Hershey, Pennsylvania. On our way, we stopped at the Flying J in New Milford, Pennsylvania to top up our fuel. The stop turned out to be a little more dramatic than we had expected.
We pulled up to the lanes that are dedicated for RVs. I shut down the coach in preparation for fueling. Lorraine went to the door to exit the coach and the door handle would not open the door.
Odd. Was it still locked?
Odd. Was the deadbolt engaged?
For the next 10 minutes or so, we went back and forth. Locking and unlocking the door. Manually and with the keyless entry system. Manually and with the dashboard entry lock control switch. Nothing worked. We could not get ourselves out of the coach.
We called Newmar.
We were on hold with them for about 15 minutes or so.
They told me that they had never heard of something like this happening before.
It took them a few minutes to find someone who might be able to troubleshoot the problem.
I was told to try pulling the door hard and then moving the lock and unlock button up and down.
The lock assembly looks like this:
I pulled as hard as I could and I moved that lock up and down. I repeated this action roughly a dozen times until it became apparent that the door was not going to open this way.
I was then told to find someone who might be able to push the door from the outside.
Okay. Here we were in a Flying J without anyone nearby. We were the only RV in the RV section. Everyone else was about 100 feet or so away. How would we get their attention?
Or, do we try to use the escape window? Or exit out the rear bath door?
Lorraine went to the back of the coach, opened the bathroom door and called out for help.
A couple of men wandered over to give a hand. They both pushed hard against the door from the outside while I was pulling the door from the inside and, at some point, and I am still not certain how it happened, the door opened.
Newmar could not offer a reason for the problem. All they did say was that the door has a two latch position mechanism. We knew that from experience. If we closed the door using a normal to light pressure, the wind noise would be very pronounced in the cab while the coach was in motion. A really firm pressure engages a second latch and tightly seals the door. No wind noise.
Did we use too much pressure to close the door?
I have no idea.
We were worried about being locked out again?
I’ve jumped on the IRV2 Newmar Owner’s Corner to ask for some help. I’d like to know whether there is anything we could do to prevent this from happening again.
This little adventure took about an hour from when we stopped the coach to when we could get out the door. Once we were able to fuel the coach, we were finally ready to go again.
All part of the ownership experience.
Update: it turns out that the resolution is pretty simple and I am not sure why Newmar did not point this out when we called them. One of the forum members gave us this insight, unlock the deadbolt and door lock BEFORE you pull up on the handle. Otherwise you may get stuck. I checked with Lorraine and she cannot remember if she unlocked the door before pulling up on the handle. She has tried to open the door while it was still locked several times before so it probably was the cause of getting locked in. One more item to add to the checklist. When exiting the coach, always make sure the door has been unlocked before pulling up on the handle.
This was the first coach that we could see as we entered the RV show in Hershey, Pennsylvania last year. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the show and we are leaving bright and early tomorrow morning to attend again this year.
We are taking the Castaway down and staying at a site about an hour or so from the show. From where we live, it is a short drive to the U.S. border and then about a 6 hour drive straight down I-81 to our exit.
I will post where I can and hopefully Lorraine and I will have lots to share about the RV show this year.
By the way, the Entegra pictured above is a pretty nice machine. We almost bought that one at the show last year. Some great deals can be made here if you are in the market. After doing all of our research we opted for the Dutch Star and for working with a local dealer here in Canada.
Yesterday I posted about cleaning the inside of the windshield. And today? My approach to cleaning the outside of the windshield. Well, not my approach. The approach that I follow. I use the same approach for my car as I do for the coach. The only difference is that it takes a lot more time to clean the windshield of the coach. Oh, and there are ladders involved with the coach.
Cleaning the exterior windshield is a four-step process:
- Clean the windshield thoroughly with an automotive glass cleaner like Invisible Glass. I usually wash and dry the front cap first and then use the cleaner. Apply with a microfiber cloth using random circular motions. Buff out in an up and down motion. Given the size of the windshield, I generally place my ladder in four positions to clean. By necessity, I have to work in smaller sections.
- Clay the windshield. The video suggests using hot water. I use a detailing spray, Griot’s Speed Shine. The important point is to have some lubrication for the clay to do its work. Wipe of the excess spray with a microfiber cloth.
- Clean the windshield again as in step 1.
- Wax the windshield. I, however, do not use wax. I use Griot’s Glass Sealant. The application process is a bit different as the sealant gets applied two times. One coat applied, buffed and then a second coat applied, buffed. If you follow the video, you will only apply one coat of wax.
And that’s it.
Now go and enjoy those amazing panoramic views through a super clean windshield.
The video is from ChrisFix. His videos really helped me in my quest to get a super clean windshield.
Dirty windshields. They really bother me. And for years, I’ve tried lots of different approaches to getting them really clean. All have fallen short for me until I came across this video:
This is basically the approach:
- Use a clean microfiber cloth and, with a circular motion, wipe down the interior windshield. I break the windshield down into more manageable sections because the Castaway has a really, really big windshield. Once a section is wiped down, turn the cloth to an unused section and wipe down again in an up and down motion.
- Use the secret ingredient to get the inside of that windshield really clean: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I’ve also used the original Magic Eraser and it works just fine. Apply using circular motions. Once done, quickly grab a clean microfiber cloth and dry the windshield off using circular motions.
- Then take your favourite automotive glass cleaner — mine is Invisible Glass — and, with a clean microfiber cloth, use circular motions to apply the product to the windshield. Buff using a clean part of the cloth in an up and down motion
I am astonished at how clean it makes the windshield. It takes a bit of time to get the windshield of the coach detailed but on a nice sunny day, it is wonderful to look out of a windshield devoid of any haze or streaks on the interior.
I’ll share my method of getting the outside windshield really clean in another post.
We will be heading out to the RV show in Hershey next week. Billed as America’s largest RV show, we are looking forward to seeing a lot of the new models.
I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for the Airstream travel trailers. Their designs really bring back memories of when I was growing up, probably because of all that aluminum. It looks like something from the 1950s or 1960s although the first Airstream was built in 1929. You can find an interesting history of the Airstream trailers here.
They market the trailer this way:
Loaded with innovative features that will satisfy and amaze both the experienced long haul traveler and the weekend warrior who is just getting back in their adventure groove, Basecamp is the result of nearly a decade of planning. With comfort and convenience in mind, Basecamp allows campers to stop wondering and start wandering.
This is one of their marketing photos of the new trailer:
The Basecamp looks like the type of unit that would appeal to an active, younger couple without children. What fascinates me about the design of this particular trailer is the attention to detail and the use of space.
Within that really small footprint is a kitchen, a washroom with a shower, and a living and sleeping area. 16 feet long by 7 feet wide.
Check out the details behind the floorplan here.
I hope they have one on display at the RV show. It would be cool to see one in person.
Being able to work with the mirrors of our coach has been a bit of a learning experience. Seeing what is happening around the coach is critically important. It took me a bit of time to learn the best way to position and adjust our mirrors.
The mirror on the passenger side of our coach extends in front of our motorhome.
Apparently, most coaches have this mirror set incorrectly.
The best way to check is to stand in front of the coach and look down the passenger side. The inside of the head of the mirror should look like it is just touching the coach. When it is set flush to the side of the coach, you get the best overall view. When we received our coach, our mirror was set in too far.
The mirror on the driver’s side of our coach is swung around to the back.
A number of Dutch Star owners do not like this look. They think it lacks symmetry and some people have rotated the mirror forward. The driver’s side mirror is on a short arm so I am not sure how well it would truly balance the look of the coach. I also wonder whether the corner post would get in the way when positioning the mirror properly. I suspect that Newmar went with the short arm for a reason: to maximize visibility and to give the driver’s side a bit more maneuvering room.
My driver’s side mirror remains swung around to the back. The mirror is aligned in the same fashion as the passenger side mirror so that when I look at the mirror from the front, it looks as though it is just touching the coach.
With the mirror heads positioned properly, there are a few additional adjustments.
With the flat part of the mirror, I move it until I can just make out the side of the coach along the inside edge. I do not need to see very much of the side of the coach with my flat mirror. I adjust the flat part of the mirror so that I can see the horizon at about one quarter of the way down. I do not need to see a lot of sky when driving.
With the convex part of the mirror, I adjust it so that I can see out horizontally to the ground and the side of the coach.
I’m still learning how to drive confidently with the mirrors. I use them far more frequently that I would ever use the mirrors of a car. And that makes them far more important for driving safely.