Life On the Road With Pets & Kids

July 31, 2009

by Julee Meltzer
as appeared in Woodall’s & Camping Life – The Navigator, July 2009

When we first decided to become full-time RVers, we never imagined that we would find ourselves playing defense for a way of life that we love so much. Needless to say, full-time RVing isn’t for everyone. Space is tight. Fuel is expensive. And even though you’re living out in the margins of society – there are still deadlines to meet, bills to pay, things to fix, and lessons to learn.

However, when we first started writing about RVing with pets, we ran into an unexpected form of resistance from other pet owners that disapproved of the treatment of our traveling companions. The criticism, it seems, stems from the assertion that cats and dogs were not meant to spend their lives moving from place to place.

At first glance, I found their comments (usually delivered by e-mail) a little odd – given the fact that cats and dogs have accompanied travelers since time began. Explorers routinely took dogs along (and still do) for both companionship and protection. And without cats, ocean voyages would have been nearly impossible due to uncontrolled rodent populations that would have devoured essential food supplies and spread disease. Today, cats and dogs routinely accompany people on houseboats, yachts, RVs, cars, and everything else that move from place to place.

And yet the criticism still remains. And then, when I gave birth to my first child last year, people were amazed that a couple living in an RV could cope with the challenges of bringing a baby into the world. (Of course, they weren’t the only ones). But it was only a matter of time when a familiar criticism made its way into the conversation. And once again, the criticism stemmed from the assertion that children were not meant to spend their lives moving from place to place.

Once more, we looked for evidence to support the idea that life on the road was a potential detriment to a child’s well-being. After all, we would want to be the first to know if our actions were morally or otherwise irresponsible. But like so many things involving people, things aren’t always as simple as they appear. As it turns out, our decision to become full-time RVers was largely influenced by the needs of my husband who suffers from debilitating chronic pain; we needed to find a way to stay in warm weather all year. So when we are sporadically criticized by other people as a result of our unorthodox lifestyle and the effects on our pets and children – we take solace in the fact that we are, in fact, making the most out of a difficult situation.

That being said, if I were a cat or a dog, I would like nothing more than to spend my days and nights living and traveling on the road. When we lived in a house and maintained a “regular” life, our pets invariably had to endure the consequences of a lifestyle that was comparatively more stressful, more hectic, and less stimulating. The cats and dogs spent much of their lives napping or waiting for meals. And, while our dogs loved to go for rides in the car, we were unable to accommodate their passion due to the fact that we spent most of our days at work.

Today, our dog gets to travel continually. On big trips, she is so excited, she hardly eats or sleeps. And best of all, she never has to spend her days at home waiting and listening for our car as it pulls into the driveway. As for the cats, they are continuously surrounded by their family and have all of the comforts of home while traveling and living in a life of endless summer. They get to spend their days in a screened-in porch and their nights listening to the calming rhythm of crickets and peepers through a screen door.

We won’t be full-time RVers forever. Our child will need to go to school and make friends with other children. But, until then, we intend to travel to every place in the U.S. that we’ve ever wanted to see and experience. From the natural beauty of the Maine coast to the garishness of Las Vegas – it’s hard to beat traveling in the comfort and familiarity of your own RV.

Our animals show their appreciation in other ways. They’re never sick and they have never been more content than they are now. In fact, our very old, diabetic cat keeps coming up with new lives. Every year we think it will be his last year, yet he somehow manages to come back to health to enjoy some more time in his screened-in porch or the comforting heat of the dash of the motorhome. Our little stray cat has just finished spending all of her spare time sitting on the back of the couch, watching the lizards on the trees inches from our windows. And, our dog is always happy to explore the next new neighborhood. And, lastly, our newest pet (our little girl, Rose) is learning to meet new people from all walks of life who are enjoying their leisure time. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Is The Bible Valuable? (3)

July 30, 2009

by John Imler
John is an RVchurchesUSA Ambassor and author of It’s Never Too Late

YES, is my resounding answer to that question, even though I am fully aware that not everyone agrees with me. I continue to ponder WHY?

I am convinced that one of the main reasons is that people are afraid of this book called the Bible. I keep asking myself the following questions: Why has it been banned from being read in our schools? Why do most of the media and our society treat its teachings with contempt?

Recently the Associated Press reported a U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that a school board was correct when it did not allow the mother of a kindergarten to read from the Bible during a show and tell session, even though it was the boy’s “favorite book.” It is apparent from the newspaper and TV News that such cases are on the increase.

This does not surprise me because Satan has always said God is a liar. It appears that, if he can’t convince mankind of that, then he will just work to keep people from reading God’s Word where they will find God’s eternal truths.

You might say, “No I’m not afraid of it, I’m just not interested in what it has to say.” But perhaps the real reason is that you already know enough about what it says to know that its recommended way of life is not the way you are living. You’re afraid that reading it will make your realize that God has also given you a choice. A choice just like He gave Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16). A choice to obey or disobey, to follow God’s way or Satan’s way.

I challenge you. If you are not afraid of the Bible, begin reading it today. Learn what God has done for you, what He offers you in the way of a real full life. It’s Never Too Late as long as you still have breath. After all, what harm will it do?

John welcomes your comments either below or email him directly at [email protected]

Read part 1 or part 2 of this series by John.

Alaska: Caravan or Go It Alone?

July 29, 2009

by Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
as appeared on RV Home Yet? July 27,  2009

We are in Soldotna, Alaska at the Diamond M Ranch RV Park, staying one more night because of another tire problem! (I’ll let George tell that story.)

The park pretty much emptied out yesterday afternoon on Sunday; the weekend fishermen went home. This afternoon, though, suddenly RVs started pouring into the overflow section where we are parked. A caravan! This one is Adventure Caravan, the same one we’d seen in our park in Anchorage.  We hopscotched with a small caravan from Watson Lake to Whitehorse in the Yukon too.

If it’s your first trip to Alaska, should you take a caravan? While George and I would not, it could be a good choice for some RVers.

Here are the pros and cons that I see.

Pros:

* Someone else makes most of the decisions and arrangements. You don’t have to fool with RV park reservations or reservations for included excursions or meals. Where a day is open, you’ll have recommendations for activities.
* If you have a breakdown, the tail gunner will make sure you get help.
* You have built in social interaction with other RVers.
* You’ll benefit from inside knowledge about Canada and Alaska, depending on the knowledge andCaravan experience of the leaders.

Cons:

* More expensive.
* Confining schedule. If you’d like to stay an extra day somewhere, you can’t.
* If someone in the group is unpleasant, a complainer, late or difficult to deal with, you are stuck.
* RV parks are pre-selected as are some activities.
* Activities are chosen for the majority. If you like hiking and biking, those will not be planned activities.
* Group activities seem to be those that are more touristy and that accommodate large groups. (Smaller caravans could be different.)
* You are expected to join in at the meetings and planned activities that you have pre-paid for. If you need alone time to recharge, you may find it too much togetherness.

I have never taken a commercial caravan. The closest I have come is a tour when my RV friend Betty and I did a trip via railroad through China, Mongolia and Russia. We did have a good mixture of planned activities and time on our own. But we were several days on a train together. That did get to be wearing for me, but I like my space.

You absolutely can travel to Alaska by yourself. It is quite safe, the roads in much better shape than they were ten years ago. The Milepost gives you practically a mile by mile description so you know where all services are. Plus, there aren’t that many choices of routes! You might want to read the article George and I wrote about preparing for a trip like this.The question is, do you want to travel by yourself or do you like company (and everything planned)?

Weigh the pros and cons and then decide. However you go, RVing through Canada and Alaska is the trip of a lifetime!

Please add your comment below or email Jamie at [email protected]

reprinted with permission

What-If or What-Is Thinkers!

July 27, 2009

a devotional by Floyd Platt
Floyd is a member of our Ambassador Club

” Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat.  And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch.”   Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night andhaven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (see references below)

Are you a “what-if” or a “what-is” thinker?

I believe the Disciple Peter  (Simon) was a “what-is” thinker.

In the morning, upon returning to port after fishing all night in the same spot, Peter was asked by Jesus to sail his boat back into deeper waters and throw out his nets again for a catch (Luke 5:4).  Peter didn’t ask, “But Lord, what if ..?” Peter just trusted Jesus and did as He instructed!

In his heart Peter knew that good fishing would be even less likely during the daylight hours. In his exhaustion, he could have given in to doubts by merely concentrating on what had not happed – the lack of catching any fish after working hard all night.

Peter did not deny these facts, but in his demonstration of obedience and respect to Christ he acknowledged His deity with one powerful statement testifying to his faith: “…Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the nets.”  Luke 5:5

Simply put, Peter focused on the One giving the instruction (“what-is”) and not on the possible risks or outcomes of following the instruction (“what-if”).

You and I can truly trust God to take care of every problem when His commands or instructions seem to be unreasonable. Our Lord is not a God of disappointment or fear. He will never leave you hanging or fearful of the future.

As we obey God’s Word with confidence in His provision, we can know that He has already taken care of the “what-if” for us and His instruction will only lead to the “what-is” reality of His promises that are assured.

Starting A Business While RVing

July 27, 2009

by Ronda Templeton

How many times have you thought about leaving a job, but hesitated out of fear of the unknown — or, simply, an aversion to change? Sally Bethea doesn’t know that fear: In her career, she’s been a medical librarian, a financial analyst, a sociology professor and — today — the president of a recreational vehicle repair business.

Her secret? When a job gets stale, Bethea moves on. In her view, life is too short — and working hours are too long — for boredom. Her latest venture, Full Service RV, was born out of the RVing lifestyle she and her husband, Don Crawford, embarked upon almost by chance.

Crawford suspected the U.S. economic downturn was going to be lengthy and, more than a year ago, suggested downsizing to trim the couple’s budget. The plan including selling their Mahncke Park home, but three dogs made it difficult to show the house to prospective buyers.

The solution? Move out of their 2,000-square-foot traditional home and into a 600-square-foot home on wheels. The RV residency was supposed to be temporary, but they found themselves enjoying the lifestyle.

“Life is simple when it’s not cluttered with so many ‘things,’” Bethea said. “Moving into the RV required getting rid of a tremendous amount of stuff. But it’s much easier to stay organized when everything you own fits into a closet and a couple of drawers.”

As Bethea settled into the RV, she noticed her that fellow RVers often needed help with repairs — either to the RVs themselves or to the appliances and fixtures within.

“If your RV’s air conditioner goes out in the summer in San Antonio, getting it repaired quickly is a big deal,” Bethea said. “And none of the appliances in an RV are ‘normal’ — you can’t buy standard sizes to replace them. Don has always had great mechanical ability. One day, I said, ‘How would you feel about getting into RV repair?’”

Crawford was keen on the idea and he enrolled in a repair certification program. While Bethea takes care of marketing, accounting, software and maintaining the company’s Web site, fullservicerv.com, he handles the labor. The company is in its infancy, but the phone is ringing with requests for air-conditioning, awning, plumbing, generator, refrigerator and vehicle breakdown repairs.

Bethea, meanwhile, already is looking to the future — and, possibly, another career change. “I’m putting together a 10-year plan,” she said. “Perhaps we’ll be able to sell the business at the end of that period.”

Ronda Templeton is a freelance writer and the founder of Templeton Davidson Communications. She may be reached at [email protected].

RV’ers Serve Others

July 23, 2009

By Vincent Pierri | Daily Herald (7/3/09)

Art and Sylvia Rogers have returned from five months on the road doing service projects for needy organizations. Traveling in their 40-foot recreational vehicle, the couple are members of Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service.

Art and Sylvia Rogers are living the good life. antioc_coupleRetired and healthy, they have a little money in the bank and plenty of time on their hands.

But don’t look for them at the bingo hall or on the shuffleboard court.

The 69-year-olds from Antioch, IL want nothing to do with that.

“We’ve done that stuff and it’s boring. It’s just not us,” Art said. “We have more to give.” And giving is what they’ve been doing.

The couple recently returned home after spending five months doing service projects at schools, camps and other locations across the country.

As members of Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service, (RVICS) the pair traversed the states in their 40-foot recreational vehicle performing maintenance and construction projects for needy nonprofit Christian children’s homes and schools.

“It sounds like a cliché, but we really are living out our dream,” Sylvia said. “We’ve always wanted to travel and see the country, but not just as tourists. We are sightseeing, but helping people along the way.”

The Texas-based RVICS is a nondenominational Christian ministry that connects retired couples traveling in RVs to make repairs and improvements ranging from painting and plumbing to welding and wallpapering at sites across the nation. There are nearly 100 couples working this year.

“There is a dual blessing in this work,” said Paul Swetland, vice president of the organization. He said the volunteers not only give but receive.

Swetland said couples working together tend to become great friends, and lifelong relationships have come from the shared experiences. He said the retirees are finding value serving others in their golden years.

Married for 51 years, the Rogers not only volunteer their time, but also pay for the diesel fuel that powers the home on wheels.

“It’s a 100-gallon tank and we drove about 4,000 miles,” Art said. “It adds up. But our kids helped us out this year.”

Couples agree to spend a minium of one month at each work site. The Rogers worked at sites in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa. They were on the road from January to May.

Their work included roofing, painting, building a deck and repairing a sump pump among other tasks.

RVICS isn’t the only organization tapping the RV community for volunteers.

As the bulge of the baby boom population moves into older age, several organizations are working to connect these folks with volunteer opportunities.

Servants on Wheels Ever Ready, (SOWERS) is a nondenominational group based in Texas. Members work at orphanages, centers for neglected or abused children and recovery homes for adults among other sites.

A ministry of the United Methodist Church, Nomads on a Mission Active in Divine Service, known as “NOMADS,” started in 1988. The Kansas-based group is similar to RVICS, but also sends teams to disaster sites to assist in recovery efforts.

Syliva Rogers said her fellow retirees should consider living for something beyond the superficial.

“We’ve been to the potlucks and concerts. That’s not who we are,” Sylvia said. “We have to have a purpose in life and for us it’s service. We do it for the Lord.”

Beware – RV Gelcoat Scam

July 21, 2009

by Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
as appeared on RV Home Yet? July 2009

RVeNews had another article on scammers working the Southern California area. The scam reminds me of the old “reseal your driveway” scam of years ago. A truck pulls up and the drivers have just enough materials left over from another job to reseal your driveway so they’ll do the job for a bargain price. The job is guaranteed, they say. They paint the driveway with black paint instead and leave, never to be heard from again. They aren’t licensed contractors nor registered with the Better Business Bureau, and in fact, have out of state tags so they can’t be tracked down.

The gel seal scam is similar. They too have left over materials from another job. However, they apply a machinery grease instead of gel, which can damage the RV if not removed. An active child distracts the owners so they don’t pay attention to the product being applied. They too are not licensed and any guarantee is meaningless.

These scammers target vacationers at the beach driving RVs with fading gel coat, promising that the RV will look brand new. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Please add your comment below or email Jamie at [email protected]

reprinted with permission

Make a Difference by RV Serving

July 21, 2009

by Duane Careb
President RVchurchesUSA

We here at RVchurchesUSA have been following several compelling stories of RVers who have compassionately decided to serve the those in need – communities, individuals, churches, camps,etc – in the course of their traveling.

Jesus refers to this “life style” in Matt 25:40 and Matt 25:45 implying that when we serve those in need, we are actually giving Glory as well as Honor to Him. Whatever we do for someone else – especially those less fortunate – will most certainly be recognized and honored by God (Matt 25:23).

Most of us who serve others in need avoid fanfare and shun accolades as much as possible. Serving has little place for bragging or boasting as Paul, the Apposel writes in He also gives us clear instruction regarding humility when we serve in Matt 6: 2-4.

Here are just a few articles we’ve posted regarding the topic of serving others while Rving:

RV’ers Serve Others, MRO-Ministry to NASCAR, Another “Homeless” Family, RV Couple Uproot to Help Needy, and Volunteering- – Who Really Benefits? among others.

We’ll continue to search for more compassionate-serving Christian RVers and publish their stories here on RVchurchesUSA.

I hope you’ll consider joining other RVers as they “live” out their faith by volunteering in some way to serve, help or otherwise touch the heart of those in need – all for the Audience of One. Matt 25:21

Amen

Dinghy Towing 101

July 21, 2009

by Mark Polk
Mark is a regular contributing author

A motor home offers us the freedom to explore the open road. We can go where we want when we want. But what happens when we arrive at a destination where we plan to stay put for a day, a week or a month? How do explore the area, or take a quick trip to the grocery store? Well, we have our bikes with us right! Bikes are nice and we even get some much needed exercise, but are they really practical for touring the surrounding area or taking a day trip? Probably not, so what do we do?

One option is to disconnect everything from the motor home and take it. What a pain this can be just for a loaf of bread. Another option is to tow a vehicle behind the motor home. Now when we need a loaf of bread or want to take a day trip we have our transportation. This makes much more sense, but just how do we do this?How much weight can we safely tow? Do we need to use a tow dolly or can we tow it with all four wheels on the ground? If we can tow it with all four wheels on the ground do we use a vehicle mounted tow bar or a coach mounted tow bar? What about brakes? What else will I need? These are all good questions, so let’s start at the beginning.

Your motor home has a weight rating referred to as the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). This is the maximum combined weight of the fully loaded motor home and the fully loaded tow vehicle when weighed together. You never want to exceed this or any other weight rating. Another consideration is the amount of weight the hitch receiver on the back of the motor home is rated for. The motor home itself might have a tow rating of 7,000 pounds, but if the receiver is only rated for 3,500 that’s the most you can tow.

Some vehicles can be towed with all four wheels down with no problems while others would result in serious damage to the vehicle transmission. In some cases modifications can be made to the driveline and or transmission so you can tow the vehicle with all four wheels on the ground. You need to do your homework before attempting to tow a vehicle with all four wheels on the ground. Read your vehicle owner’s manual and check with the vehicle manufacturer. Many vehicles that can be towed with all four wheels on the ground still have restrictions like max speeds or max distances. In some situations it is best to use a tow dolly. A tow dolly is designed to lift the drive wheels off of the ground to prevent any damage to the tow vehicle. If the vehicle you want to tow requires expensive driveline modifications or has speed and distance restrictions a tow dolly may be the way to go.

If you can tow your vehicle with all four wheels down the first step will be to have tow bar mounting brackets installed on the tow vehicle. Now we can decide on which type of tow bar best suits our needs. Regardless of the type you choose make sure it is rated in excess of the fully loaded tow vehicle weight. There are two basic types of tow bars, a rigid A-frame and a collapsible. Rigid A-frame tow bars are the most basic. They are less expensive and because the arms don’t adjust or collapse they require more precise aligning to hook up.

Collapsible tow bars are more common among RVers. They are self aligning and much easier to hook up and use. The arms extend, self-center and lock in place automatically when you drive away. There are two types of collapsible tow bars, car-mounted and motor home-mounted. Car-mounted tow bars are a little easier to use and fold away on the front of the vehicle when you are finished using it. Motor home-mounted tow bars fold away on the rear of the motor home and never have to be lifted or removed from the front of the vehicle.

Most U.S. States and Canadian Provinces have their own laws on the requirement for brakes on a towed trailer or vehicle being towed behind a motor home. The brakes on a motor home are designed by the vehicle manufacturer to stop the weight of that particular vehicle, not the additional weight being towed behind it. This additional weight adds a substantial increase to the distance required to stop safely. You need to have some type of braking system on the towed vehicle to SAFELY reduce the stopping distance and to protect you, your loved ones and the safety of others.

You will need safety cables and lights for the towed vehicle. You need safety cables in the event the towed vehicle is ever separated from the motor home. One end of the cables is attached to the tow vehicle tow brackets and the other end to the receiver on the motor home.

You need to have running lights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals on the towed vehicle that work in conjunction with the motor home lights. If you don’t tow your vehicle that often you may want to purchase a light accessory kit that can be strapped to the tow vehicle or uses magnets. These kits have a wiring harness that is plugged into the motor homes wiring harness plug. If you tow your vehicle frequently you will probably want to use a more permanent method where tow vehicle lights are wired directly to the motor home lights. Once this is done you just plug the tow vehicle wiring harness plug in to the motor home wiring harness plug.

The only thing left to do is hook up your tow vehicle and head down the road. Try to get in the habit of making the following checks before you leave and every time you stop. Check the tow bar, base-plate, safety cables and light plug to make sure everything is properly attached. When you stop check the tires of the towed vehicle to make sure they are not to hot or losing air. 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. Check all of the lights everyday before towing.

To answer all of your towing questions check out my  Towing Behind Your Motorhome DVD

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk is founder of RV Education 101 and RV University

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