We Don’t Need No Stinking GPS!

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Patrick Barry/Flickr Creative Commons

It’s not often we get into philosophical discussions in this blog but by gum, we’re going to today! There seems to be a schism among travelers these days: those that can navigate with a traditional map, and those that absolutely cannot get out of their driveway without their smartphone or hand-held GPS. This tends to cause a fair amount of discussion amongst the two groups with both feeling superior to the other. The attitude of “We do it the right way” get’s bandied about from time to time, but let’s look at this in a practical terms.

MAPS

Maps are the oldest and most tried and true navigational aid in human history. Maps used to be so prized that map makers themselves warranted the highest respect, even the GPS crowd has heard of Magellan. But in today’s more immediate-result, instant-gratification, digital, and satellite-heavy technological world…maps are out of favor. And I think I know the reason why. In order to use a map you have to already know where you are. The downside to a map is: if you’re already lost, what good are they? Of course the map crowd’s rebuttal would be: if you have a map, how did you get lost? Using a map promotes situational awareness, keeping your eyes outside the vehicle, as well as the security that you know where you are, and how to get where you’re going.

GPS

GPS has to be one of the biggest advancements in navigation in history since the invention of the magnetic compass…as long as you have access to batteries or electricity. Putting a GPS in your smartphone was an incredible idea, so thank you to whomever’s idea that was. It is a more or less stress free form of navigation in that as soon as you turn it on, it tells you where you are. Routing however has been a little sketchy in the past and I suppose continues to be in some regard or other. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the following complaint “Man! Google Maps (or Mapquest, or insert your nav provider here) totally took me the long way around! The road wasn’t even paved!” So the irony is, to use the GPS in the most efficient way, you more or less need to be familiar with where you are and where you’re going. The awesome awesome awesome thing that GPS does in my opinion, is calculate distance and ETA for you.

So whichever camp you belong to, recognize that there is an alternative and learn the alternative as a backup to whatever method of navigation you are using. That was there is less fuel and time wasted, and your stress level stays low!

www.pplmotorhomes.com

 

When the RV Meets a Deer

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Patrick Feller/Flickr Creative Commons

Well folks, we are getting closer to deer season kicking off and that brings to mind a little understood type of road accident. What do you do when you hit a deer with your RV?

Well, I thought we could discuss that a little bit this morning as well as some statistics and hopefully this chat will help keep you folks from hitting any deer, and if you’re unfortunate enough to do so, at least you’ll know what to do next.

Texas is in the top ten states in the nation for vehicle/deer accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were about 1.25 million accidents in 2014 involving deer and  vehicles. 10,000 of those result in injuries to people, and on average 150 of those injuries are fatal. So what do we do?

To avoid deer, you’ve got to realize they’re out there moving around. They mostly seem to start moving at sunset and during the night. So be alert, drive slower when you can’t see as far or if the road you’re on is narrow, and use your high beams. If it is obvious that a collision between your vehicle and the deer is impossible to avoid, don’t swerve to minimize the risk to the deer, just brake and hold your wheel steady. This helps prevent uncontrollable skid, as well as departure from the road. Don’t put your family’s lives at risk to save the deer or your fenders.

If you do hit the deer:

  • Pull over in a safe area
  • Take some photos with your phone of the accident for claims purposes
  • Stay away from the deer
  • Call your insurance

Call the police if:

  • There are injuries
  • The deer is a hazard to other traffic
  • There is property damage

Hitting an animal that size can be a fairly traumatic experience, so please do not continue to drive until you have been able to calm down. People all react to accidents in different ways, so if you feel you are affected, grab a cup of coffee and wait for a little while.

www.PPLMotorhomes.com

Winegard Rayzor HD TV Antennas

 

 

 

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We talk a lot about the outdoor activities you can participate in in this RV Life, places you can go and enjoy nature, different routes you can take to get there and the like. But what about when it’s raining or nasty outside? What about if you just want to curl up an veg on the settee for a little while, switch that mind to autopilot and just relax? What if you want to go in the RV, hide from your spouse and kids and watch a little TV? Well, we’ve got the perfect HD TV antenna for y’all to try out! They’re inexpensive, way cheaper than a new cable box and can be used in the camper or RV just as easily as in your home!

The Rayzor Amplified Indoor HD TV Antenna has an approximate range of 70 miles, it is phenominally simple to install and believe it or not I have one in one of my guest bedrooms upstairs and it is terrific!! For a room that gets used maybe 6 times a year, the Rayzor is a much better deal than a new cable box. These antenna’s are made to be repositioned too, so if you have on in your Rv it is very simple to move the antenna for maximum reception. All you have to do after repositioning the antenna is to run a channel scan and you’ll be amazed at how many you can pick up, and how far away they are. These antennas even mount to windows! Just think of them the way you do your cel phone, chance are where you phone works best, the antenna will too. Oh, and since these antennas are flat, the “sides” of them get the least reception, so point that big flat area towards your signal.

If you’re interested is easy, portable HD TV coverage, click right here for details and happy relaxing!

Summer Wildfire Season

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Bureau Of Land Management/Flickr Creative Commons

I heard on the news last night that this summer has been declared the worst wildfire season in our nation’s history. Wildfires poses some of their own hazards to us as the RVing population, so I thought I’d ask a friend of mine, who fought wildfires for years as an air tanker pilot, for some advice and hints.

Here’s his email:

“A big wildfire ain’t like in the Planes movie — you don’t see a large amount of trapped tourists threatened by fire… you see property threatened and folks evacuating. Depending on population density, mandatory evacs can cause roads to be choked with people leaving an area that is threatened, which in turn can cause snarls and delays for men and equipment trying to find the quickest way to the fireline.

Remember the fire in Bastrop a few years ago? That was the worst wildfire in Texas history. If I remember correctly it burned over 1600 homes, which was 1500 more than the second worst fire in Texas history. The day that thing started, I was at a roadblock at the corner of Hwys 21 and 95 for several hours and it was absolutely packed with evacuating families traveling away from the fire with whatever they could carry, and in the other direction brush trucks, command vehicles, dozers, pump trucks, and pickups full of VFD were making their way to the flank. It was a very orderly mess.

For me personally, the irony  was that this time I wasn’t flying, and this time my family’s ranch was dead in the middle of that huge fire, and I never made a single drop on it. But I spent weeks afterwards cleaning up, rebuilding fence, feeding and watering ours and other folk’s cattle while they built fence, sitting on the porch with a 30/30 to keep the looters out, hauling hay, driving the tractor for us and others, all those community rebuilding type things.

So having been at both ends of wildfire, here’s my advice: If you’re at a campsite in a National Forest or Park and you see smoke, report it immediately. If you get an evac order, don’t whine about how long you’ve planned this trip, or how disappointed you and your kids are, just pack your stuff and git! If you’re traveling and see a big column of smoke on the horizon, go somewhere else. Don’t clog up the highway so you can get a dramatic picture, don’t squat on the shoulder and rubber-neck, don’t flag down the BLM or Forest Service crews and ask em what’s happening, don’t be a moth attracted to a flame.

Here’s what you do: find an alternate route to where ever you’re headed, watch it on the news that night, and if you’re at a gas station or cafe and you see a group of folks in green pants and yellow shirts who look whip strong and like they’ve been rolling around in the dirt for a week, say thank you, shake their hands, and buy their sandwich. They don’t get paid near enough to keep that fire over on the horizon instead of in your backyard.”

www.PPLmotorhomes.com

 

Healthier Road Trip Snacking Methods

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Max Wolfe/Flickr Creative Commons

We all know that part of a trip where you’re stuck in one of those more straight, empty, boring parts of the drive. It’s August, it’s hot and everywhere you look you see 100 different shades of brown. We all know what happens right about then too. You start thinking to yourself, “Man. I could sure use a snack.” You’re not hungry really, but you are very bored and eating a little something would provide a diversion from that rainbow of ugly happening outside your windshield. Usually at that point you see a small country store gas station that is the only thing happening at the next exit on the interstate and you think to yourself, “Well, I could stretch my legs, top up the tank, and grab a bite.” Those little stores have candy, Giganto-sized sugary drinks, and all sort of stuff fried in last week’s grease. The sugar crash you’re going to have in a couple dozen miles is going to be huge if you eat that junk, so today I thought we could talk about some more healthy sensible snacking methods while you’re traveling.

If you’re traveling in an RV, you’re traveling with your own kitchen, so with a little planning and  forethought there is absolutely no need to stop at that little ghost town convenience store. The food is junk and over-priced too. When it comes to road snacks, think in terms of a filling, energy-giving snack that will keep you feeling awake, alert, and full longer than the processed sugar snakes of the roadside convenience.

For example, instead of having potato chips, why not have some nuts instead? Doesn’t matter what kind, just as long as you like them! Most verities come in a lightly salted option these days, but if nuts aren’t your thing and you’re having a craving from crunchy, throw some popcorn in the microwave. When it comes to drinks, ditch the 44oz (or larger, sheesh) soft drinks and replace them with juice (100% fruit or vegetable) or even water. You’d be surprised how well water knocks the edge off a craving. Needless to say, fresh fruit and vegetables that are pre-cleaned and sliced before you hit the road are a wonderful option, and they’re only as far away as your fridge or cooler.

We here at PPL Motorhomes are only as far away as a few clicks on the keyboard anytime you need parts or accessories out on the road. Happy snacking, happy driving!

Keeping Your Valuable Papers In Your RV

 

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Lasse Rintakumpu/Flickr Creative Commons

I know we all make sure we have our vehicle registration and insurance documents in our RV, but have you ever thought about the other valuable items you should have with you. No, I’m not an advocate of taking all your medical, financial and insurance information with you all the time, but I do believe we need cheat sheets.
I keep a cheat sheet with me all the time with the following information.

  • My name and address
  • Emergency contact information
  • Medical insurance information
  • RV insurance information
  • Home insurance information
  • Medical information including your doctors name, allergies and specific ailments

It’s a really good idea to keep a complete list of all medications including the RX number, DR.’s phone number, a pharmacy phone number and anything else you feel a first responder can use.

Here’s an interesting fact as well, many of the national pharmacy chains will offer a loaner medication program where they can dispense enough to get you home if you forgot to bring your medication. If you travel with your pet, make sure you have their most recent vaccination records and the name of your vet.  AND it’s even a good idea to have your pet’s name on this sheet, too.

I know there are some of you who may think this tip is not too safe, but I also keep one page with copies of my drivers license and medical insurance I’d card.  What if something happens to me and I do not have my wallet with me?  Yes, I could store all of that in safe keeping in my phone, but chances are that if I lost my wallet, I probably lost my purse with my phone in it, too.

Finally: Cash is king! I make sure that I have a hundred dollar bill in this same safe keeping envelope.  It may not be enough to do much, but it’s better than not having a penny to my name. Tell your emergency contact where you have hidden this envelope in your RV.  I’m not even going to try to suggest places to you.  You know your own RV and you know how to hide stuff.  After all, you’ve probably been hiding Christmas gifts and stashing cash for years.

Hopefully, these few minutes of planning will never be necessary, but it sure is nice to know its there if you need it.  See you on the road!

Leaving Home: Check List for Hitting the Road

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mt 23/Flickr Creative Commons

 

I was reading an article recently about taking care of your home before you hit the road for an adventure in your home on wheels and it got me to thinking.  I guess I do have a little routine that I go through whether I’m leaving on an RV adventure, or hopping a plane.  I’m going to share my check list with you, but you need to promise not to laugh.

A day, or two before I leave, I always leave my itinerary with my neighbor and my daughter.  Everyone should be as lucky as I am because I have the greatest neighbors in the world and a daughter and son in law who are always there for me.

Now here is my check list….

  • Make sure to move all my potted plants to one area in a shady spot in the yard where the sprinkler will hit them.  I got tired of coming home to dead plants.
  • Water my two or three house plants.
  • Check to make sure all my lights on timers are working properly.  I have a few upstairs and downstairs scheduled to come on and off at different times.
  • Run the last load of dishes in the dishwasher
  • Make sure all my laundry is done.  I hate to come home to a mess.
  • Run the disposal one last time.  There is nothing worse than coming home to a horrific smell from last nights dinner scraps left in the disposal.
  • Empty all the trash cans and get the trash out of the house.
  • I actually change my sheets the morning I am leaving so I come home to my nice clean bed.
  • Set thermostat on ac or heat.  In the winter I set it at 50 and in the summer I set it at 80. Of course, I am considering a new fancy thermostat that I can set from my phone.
  • Stop mail and newspaper delivery.
  • Grab my last minute things for the trip.  Set the alarm and leave the house.

This little list gives me peace of mind.  Basically, I always had a fear that something would happen and a friend or family member would have to come into the house to take care of something for me and I wanted to make sure they didn’t realize what a messy person I really am. Plus, it just makes it really nice to come to a fresh, clean home.

Mental Diversions On Long Road Trips

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Angus MacRae/Flickr Creative Commons

Let’s face it: the RV life is a grand one, but even the most gung-ho of us experience that creeping boredom on a long trip. Especially on those long road trips over routes we’ve traveled many times. How many times can you ask yourself, “Hey, isn’t that restaurant new?” or “WHEN are they going to finish working on that exit?” before you just couldn’t care less? With the advent of smart phones, surfing the net becomes a very dangerous yet alluring distraction. Your passenger will fuss at you and your stock response of “I’m just using the map” doesn’t make it any less dangerous, so today I thought we could talk about how to keep your mind occupied while the long straight road whizzes by.

If you’re driving by yourself and you can’t find anything good on the FM, don’t forget there is an AM side! You can hear some of the coolest local radio shows on the AM dial and it’ll really give you a taste or flavor of the region. I remember driving through the painted desert portion of AZ on I-40 heading for New Mexico and hearing the Navajo Radio station on 660. It was so interesting to hear the Navajo language spoken and hear the English words scattered throughout…for example, George Strait in Navajo is: George Strait.

All those old-school road trip games will come into play as well, but we’ve covered those in previous blogs. So a newer suggestion is to do Road Math! For example let’s say you’re in Eastern New Mexico on Hwy 285, add up the numbers 2, 8, and 5 and you get 10. Diesel costs $3.27? Add it up! You get 12! A tractor trailer goes by with the ID# 25703, it adds up to 17. It really works well when you start to get a little tired and dozy in the heat.

Dealing With Road Rage

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Dan Zen/Flickr Creative Commons

As RVers I’m sure you’ve found yourself in that situation where you’re trying to merge or pull out into traffic and folks either won’t let you in, or you’re not moving fast enough for somebody and they try to zip around you. Nobody realizes more than you do that you’re bigger, heavier, less maneuverable, and accelerate slower than the cars and SUVs around you but they still have to behave like spoiled children in order to ensure you understand their displeasure. So I thought today we could discuss ways to maintain your composure and enjoyment of road life in the face of other’s impatience, discourtesy, and dangerous driving.

First impulse when confronted with another driver’s aggressive driving is meet aggression with aggression, sometimes in the form of angrily shouting curses at the back of their car and secretly hoping a cop is going to chase them down and hit them with heavy fines, or maybe dreaming that that they’ll pick up nails in more than one tire to pay them back for being such a jerk to you and all the other drivers that have had to share the road with them today. But here’s the thing y’all, driving an RV in today’s cell phone addicted world is stressful enough without allowing that sort of frustration and anger into the RV. To some of you folks it may sound childish or even weak, but the ability to shrug your shoulders and not let a jerk turn you into a jerk is actually pretty powerful.

So here’s what you do…take a DEEP breath and imagine situations that would justify someone driving like an ass. Maybe that guy is a father who’s child has just been taken to the hospital and he’s trying to get there as quick as he can. Maybe that woman is a mother who has just been laid off and is distraught and thinking more about how she is going to pay her family’s rent in there new found jobless situation. There are any number of situations of an emergency or stressful situations that could justify erratic driving if only you knew the whole story. So instead of pounding the steering wheel and working your way towards a stroke, think of these situations that would allow for bad driving and become sympathetic to their plight. NONE of what you imagine may be true, they may just be a real ass, but the main thing is it will release your anger and keep your RV a happy place even when you’re surrounded by selfish drivers!

www.pplmotorhomes.com

RV Cooking Tips

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Tym/Flickr Creative Commons

Oh my Lord, social mealtimes have a way of creating some very long-lasting memories don’t they? Positive and negative. On the positive side, I STILL remember how incredible my grandmother’s green beans tasted ,or my great-grandmother’s homemade Lemon ice cream. MMM MMM! Unfortunately I also remember some mealtime disasters, like a ham served at a holiday mealtime a few years back. It’s impossible to truly recount the horrors of that ham, but I will tell you I slipped my serving under the table to the dog…then after the meal the dog ran outside and threw up! So today I reckon we could talk about some fairly common cooking mistakes and ways to help prevent upset tummies in our pets. Ha!!

It seems like most cooking errors come from either wanting to cut corners on time because we started late, or some other disaster in the galley has cause us to get stressed. Other errors are caused by tradition; the “Mom and Grandma cooked this way and and if it was good enough for my (long suffering) family, then by gum it’s good enough for you” mentality. Remember that secret ingredient your Grandma always told you? It’s always love isn’t it? That means caring enough about the poor folks who are gonna have to politely eat your cooking to not let your pride (or anyone else’s) or nerves get in between your loved ones and a good meal. It may sound a little harsh, but sometimes it’s as easy as:

Let the oven pre-heat! I had a relative that always threw the meal into the oven then turned it on and wondered why it was never done when the timer went off (and frozen in the middle).

Let your pans and skillets heat up! It prevents sticking, meat will sear properly, and if you want to sautee up some veggies, it’s an absolute must. Once your pan is up to temp, THEN add your oil or meat.

There is a difference between boiling and simmering! You can really mess up rice by not knowing the difference…a simmer is one or two bubbles every couple seconds or so, a boil is constant bubbles all over, all the time.

Truly simple ideas, but easily forgotten in the mad panic that sometimes happens in the kitchen. Worst case, treat everybody to a meal on the town, and everybody will sigh with relief! For any kitchen accessories you may need come to PPL Motorhomes.com and say howdy!