THE WONDERFUL FALLACY OF AN RV COMMUNITY

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

First published on AmeriGO.com website

As RV travelers, you and I are often put into the group known as the “RV Community.” It’s a marketing and journalistic term that rounds all of us up into a herd to which one title is applied. I want to dispel for you, as a novice RVer, the myth of a homogeneous RV community.

More important, I want to point out why we’re better off not being part of a single At Zion NP - 6248community.  As you travel, you’ll come across dozens, if not hundreds of different reasons people own or rent RVs and just as many ways they use their “recreational vehicles.” I put that term in quotes, because both can be inappropriate. Not everyone actually uses an RV for recreation. “Vehicle” often implies a motorized conveyance, but it also covers non-motorized contraptions like 5th wheels, trailers and bicycles.

Depending on how you use your RV, you will probably encounter all sorts of RV owners/travelers/renters (and for the rest of this article, let’s just lump us all under the term “owners”). I would say the predominance of folks we’ve met in campgrounds are either weekend users or full-time travelers, some of them working from their rigs (as I did for five years). But, every now and then we talk with someone who travels the countryside going from job to job, parking in one place for a week, a month or more.

Then there are “snowbirds,” who live double lives. Usually they are at home in the northern tier of states or in Canadian provinces for about six months until they head south to the Sunbelt states and Mexico, where they can enjoy the winter in shorts and t-shirts. In the north, they are part of a neighborhood with people they’ve known for years; in the south, they meet the same people year-after-year — Part 2 of their double life.

Out in the wilds, RVs are owned by different types of creatures – either the toy-hauler sports enthusiasts (also found at racecar tracks); boondockers who want to get off the grid, save bucks and experience life almost in the raw; and nature-lovers, including photojournalists.

Grandma and Grandpa love to host their children and especially their grandchildren, who are gaining an appreciation for the richness that this country has to offer. When we toured full-time, we were always hoping to encounter a nearby music event or local festival. It wasn’t our purpose for traveling, but it gave us a direction. Lots of “our kind of people” travel from place to place checking off attractions as they go, like ballparks, national parks, state capitals, presidential museums, etc.

In private RV parks, side-by-side sites are mostly filled with motorhomes and 5th wheels. These are primarily RVs built for comfort, more of a home-on-wheels than smaller rigs, like truck-campers and travel trailers. With prices that range from under 100 grand to over a million, owners buy the luxury that is within their pocketbooks. The size of the rig limits the places they can go, but we’ve known one Prevost couple willing to take their 7-figure fancy bright-red-and-stainless-steel bus off-road.

Truck-camper RVers are often fishermen. Not only can they drive up next to just about any remote stream, they have the advantage of being able to pull their boat or put it on the roof. We can’t do that in a travel trailer, and motorhomes usually tow a run-about car behind.

You’ll probably come across single men and women, widows, 21st Century beatniks and gay couples in your days on the road. There are a few full-time families home-schooling their youngsters (like AmeriGO bloggers Susie & Dan Kellogg). We meet many foreigners taking advantage of extended vacations, soaking up the many wonders of North America. Then there was Dermott, an Englishman, a physician, college professor, a Shakespeare enthusiast, with whom we struck up a conversation that we didn’t want to end.

Not every RV houses an interesting story or a memorable character. Yet, if you’ve gotten the gist of this blog, you are realizing that to lump all of us into one community is folly. A strong reason to get on the road in your RV is the people you meet. Unlike the manicured neighborhood where most of us live, when we’re dispersed along the highways and byways of America, we’re not all members of the same types of organizations. We don’t all have children the same ages. While the predominance of RVers is definitely Caucasian American, our backgrounds and reasons for loading up and taking off are diverse.

We are wonderfully not a single community. If you extend your reach to neighbors in your RV environment, you’re bound to enhance your life. Every time we get on the road, we know we’ll run into some interesting people, and that’s a big reason we can call ourselves “The Never-Bored RVers.” We look forward to crossing paths and talking with you on down the road.

© Photo by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved.

WHAT’S A MACERATOR? DO YOU NEED ONE?

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the seriesHow to ...

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

For what seemed like a mile, hoses crisscrossed the sod of Trumbo Point Navy RV Park, which borders on the craaazy town of Key West, Florida.   On one side of Trumbo is the year-round resort town of Key West; on the other are the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  Is this a base where you wish you were assigned?

As we casually toured the park, we finally got up the nerve to display our naivety by asking what all those hoses were doing disrupting perfectly good lawn.  “They’re for our macerators,” we were told.  Not wanting to sound like newbies (which we were), I said, “Oh, of course.”

Enough of this suspense (if you’re still reading).  We soon learned that a macerator is the alternative to using a 3-inch hose to get rid of wastewater in the grey and black water tanks.  A macerator is an impeller motor that attaches to the outflow to grind up solids, allowing a freshwater flow to force it through a hose to a septic tank or wastewater line.

Now you know the “WHAT;” time for the “WHY.”  At Trumbo, where active duty and retired military families live in RVs, it makes sense.   They don’t have to move their rigs every four to six days to empty tanks – they just press a button and the Ugh goes away.

At our tiny cabin in the mountains, our travel trailer is our guesthouse, which works great, because our guests (mainly family) can wake up when they want, fix coffee and walk down the hill to the cabin when their eyes are focused.

Up until this week (pre-macerator), what using the RV as a retreat home has meant for me is the choice of letting the black tank fill and lie dormant until we travel again, OR, AND I HATE THIS, I empty the black water into a bucket and lug it down the hill to the septic tank.  If that sounds like something grotesque, believe me, …

Yesterday I macerated … and it only took me six hours to get it working.  There was an electrical snag between instruction No. 4 and 5 that drove me nuts.  But I knew it was electrical, and I knew there was only one deviation from the instruction sheet that it could be.  Eventually, problem solved, and I rejoiced when I heard the “WHIRRRR” of the impeller motor and the sound of water cascading down 125 feet of ¾-inch hose into the septic tank.

Now for some photos, none of which show the anguish in my eyes over the time it took from Instruction No. 1 to No. 7:

Clockwise from top:  The kit, the hoses, the Macerator with attached hoses and emptying into the septic tank.  Much better than dumping buckets!

Clockwise from top: The kit, the hoses, the Macerator with attached hoses and emptying into the septic tank. Much better than dumping buckets!

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

 

 

 

BUTTERBEAN – IN MEMORIUM

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

Jame "Butterbean" Carpenter

Jame “Butterbean” Carpenter

A letter from Joyce Carpenter, wife of the RVers’ friend, James “Butterbean” Carpenter: 

THANK YOU FOR THE CARDS … ALL OUR RV TRAVELLING-BLOGGER FRIENDS MEAN SO MUCH TO BUTTERBEAN AND ME.  A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU.

NOW NEWS OF A HISTORIC EVENT: BUTTERBEAN IS HAVING CHRISTMAS WITH JESUS IN HEAVEN AND WITH US HERE ON EARTH IN HIS GREAT WONDERFUL LOVING SPIRIT.  I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO LET EVERYONE “OUT THERE” KNOW, BECAUSE YOU ALL MEANT SO MUCH TO HIM AND YOUR FRIENDSHIP WAS HIS MOST IMPORTANT CIRCLE OF FRIENDS.  YOU ALL TOOK HIM PLACES HE COULD NEVER GO AND SHARED ALL THE BIG AND SMALL EVENTS OF YOUR LIVES WITH HIM — FAMILY OF CHOICE — HE REALLY LOVED YOU ALL SO MUCH, AND I THANK YOU FOR MAKING THESE LAST FEW YEARS OF HIS LIFE WHEN HE WAS SO CONFINED TO THIS RANCH HE LOVED SO MUCH THE BEST YEARS OF HIS LIFE,

LOVE AND BLESSINGS, BE SAFE AND MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM BUTTERBEAN AND ME – JOYCE

With Joyce and Butterbean

With Joyce and Butterbean

Monique and I crossed the uninviting northern tier of Texas in 2012, enduring miles of Lone Star nothingness to visit his ranch.  We veered onto the byway that led us to their place, turning left to cross a cattle guard.   There was Butterbean, wife Joyce and their menagerie of horses coming out to greet us.  Their home, mostly hidden by their Georgie Boy motorhome parked in the front yard, is a traditional rustic one-story, featuring walls lined and countertops speckled with items they collected over the years before and since their move from the Dallas area.

Both had retired to the work of taking care of the half-dozen or so American miniature horses plus Rosie, the mare who was the first to beg Monique for attention.  When not outside with the herd, Butterbean spent his time on the computer, monitoring RV.net and other websites and blog sites.

From time-to-time we are able to accept invitations to visit our readers.  And while all of American Miniature - 0409our experiences have been enjoyable, without a doubt, our visit to the ranch will stand out as most memorable.  I don’t want to sound maudlin, but we gained an extra bit of fulfillment by being there on the edge of Nowhere, saying Howdy to Butterbean and Joyce … and Rosie, and their tail-waggin’ dog, and the American miniatures.

Joyce & Monique - 0412

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

An Island Called The Hill

Idyllwild_TahquitzRock

Tahquitz (Lily) Rock, popular with experienced climbers, overlooks the village of Idyllwild.

This thriving village of quaint, locally owned shops and restaurants is tucked among the trees of the San Bernardino National Forest. Bordered by the high peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild is a favorite stopping-off spot for weekend hikers and mountain bicyclists, and a destination for RVers looking for a place that is off the beaten track.

It is a mile high, but the 3,500 residents of Idyllwild in Southern California call it “The Hill.” As your RV plies its way up one of the three winding mountain roads leading here, you soon begin to realize that Idyllwild is essentially a remote island surrounded by the desert and population centers.

Idyllwild_campground

There are a host of places to park your RV for a night or two or more.

You won’t find a McDonald’s, Subway or any other chain restaurant. The only national retailers are Shell and Chevron.

The mayor is Max, an 11-year-old golden retriever, elected by popular vote in a fund-raiser for animal rescue. The town mascot is the Idyllbeast—ferocious-looking but always a crowd favorite at local functions, of which there are many.

Once you’ve found your space in one of the RV campgrounds, you’ll want to head to the center of town, where there are usually some events sponsored by the Art Alliance, Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, quilters or one of the 50 or so other community organizations.

Porsche and Mini-Minor owners’ clubs, hiking and biking enthusiasts, and upscale motorcycle riders all decked-out for a day’s tour are drawn from hundreds of miles around. All meld comfortably with the families and locals who wander in and out of shops, licking ice cream atop waffle cones or sipping lattes.

Above all this stands Tahquitz, a formidable rock prominently jutting out from Mt. San Jacinto.  Tahquitz is the rock of local Indian legends, the destination of many climbers, and the symbol of the town, emblazoned on souvenir T-shirts and collectibles.

Idyllwild_bluegrass

A bluegrass band entertains locals and visitors in the center of the village.

Since Idyllwild is considered one of the 50 top art towns in America, RV visitors often plan their stays to coincide with events at the heralded Idyllwild Arts Academy, breeding ground for some of the world’s most accomplished classical and jazz musicians, artists and theatrical performers. The academy’s concerts and shows rival those of top professional groups and are free to the public.

The parade on Independence Day is a tradition, Halloween is a scream, and there are wine tastings, home and garden tours, street fairs and much more. On summer evenings, a Thursday outdoor concert series features world-renowned musicians playing big band, rock, jazz, blues, classical, Cajun-zydeco and folk music.  People pack the community park—and it’s always free.

So much to do, but what most visitors take away with them is the tranquility borne of the wooded mountainous surroundings.  It’s the joy of people they meet in this pleasant environment.  It’s the clean air, mountain water and free spirit of The Hill that they carry away with them.

A couple of other characteristics set Idyllwild apart. There is no home mail delivery, just a post office that’s the daily meeting place to talk over community news. No trash pickup—locals make the five-minute trip to the dump regularly, and get one of the best views of the area’s lush hillsides while dumping their refuse. And locals entering the Strawberry Creek Shopping Plaza know to be alert for the many visitors who enter at the exit.

There are rare encounters with celebrities who retreat to their cabins or mansions among the rocks and canyons, but once you get parked and saunter into town, you’ll quickly understand why they drive 150 miles from Hollywood to seek refuge in this remote oasis.

Idyllwild_LakeHemetMarina

The Lake Hemet campground is just a few miles down the road from Idyllwild.

There are several local parks for RVs. A large Thousand Trails resort campground complete with swimming pool is just up the road from the center of town. In the heart of town is Mount San Jacinto State Park with hookups available and the maximum RV length set at 24 feet. Two county facilities provide RV campsites:  Idyllwild Park and Hurkey Creek Park. And Lake Hemet Campground, about eight miles east of town, provides sites with full and partial hookups, plus fishing and boating.

The nearest well-known city is Palm Springs, just off Interstate10, but when you’re heading west on I-10, take the “Palms-to-Pines Highway,” California 74 at Palm Desert.  From that desert community, it’s just 40 miles through the mountains, the Cahuilla Indian Reservation and ranchland into another world, one of trees, peace and a few snowy winter days. You have arrived at The Hill, the unique destination otherwise known as Idyllwild.

ePostcards

The problem with lengthy blogs about our travels and life in general is that most folks don’t have the time or inclination to read them. Why put our friends “on the spot” by asking if they had read them? Blogs could serve the purpose of reminding us of our travels, but we get that same benefit by looking at our photos.

Brevity – the Soul of Wit and higher readership – was what inspired Monique to invent the “ePostcard,” which is our way of letting acquaintances know what we are doing without demanding much time from their busy lives.

Together we fashioned our “ePostcards” which are sent out on a very infrequent basis, and following is our gallery of updates, which began in May 2010:

Northern Flicker Postcard - 5813New Orleans e-PostcardAlong the Pacific ePostcardSmilin' Gator 1746