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Living the RV Dream, Issue #002 -- Hello Here is our first issue
August 09, 2016
Welcome aboard to the Living the RV Dream Newsletter first edition.!! We will try to give you timely and useful articles that will help you enjoy your RVing experience.
This month we have chosen some articles from a couple of our friends in the consumer side of the RV industry. For now, this will be a monthly publication, but we’ll see what the future brings.
We're on the Road AgainHello Happy Campers!! This has been a really busy month for us as we set off on our first RV trip in 17 months. Kathy has been cleared to travel and we have worked out a solid delivery schedule with her pharmacy so she can get her IV nutrition shipped every week. We took off on the 11th of July and stopped for a few days at the King’s Bay Naval Base Family Campground called Eagle Hammok. It’s a really nice campground and we did some sightseeing to Amelia Island and the beautiful town of Fernandina Beach. It was just too hot to do much else during our 3 nights there. On the way up to Maryland, we stopped at the Bass Lake Campground in Dillon, SC near the NC/SC border. This was a very nice small campground on the Passport America system. Next we spent a night at the Americamp campground just north of Richmond, VA where our friends Bill and Kris Osborne were staying. It’s so nice to meet up with old friends when we travel. The next day we had an uneventful trip around Washington, DC and then around Baltimore, MD to get to Aberdeen. We had planned a week’s stay near our son’s home in Forest Hill, MD for a week’s stay to be with his family. We hadn’t seen them for almost 2 years. Our Granddaughter Kirstin is 15 and 6 feet tall. She is quite an accomplished basketball player and we got to see one of her games. Our grandson Nathan is 11 and active in all kinds of Church activities. Now youth football has started and he is fully involved in that. We stayed at the Marylander Family Campground on the base at the Aberdeen Army Proving Ground. What a nice place! This campground has 11 spaces all concrete pads with full hookups including 50-amp electric. No cable, but we can get all the Baltimore TV stations on our batwing antenna. There is also the Shore Campground here with 29 spaces not far away. Then it was time to say goodbye for a while and head on up to Vermont for the 56th Escapees RV Club Escapade rally. We had made a reservation at the Blue Mountain Campground in Saugerties, NY. That is quite near the site of the Woodstock Music Festival where over a hundred thousand people stayed 3 days and nights in the rain to hear concerts by most of the more popular singers and bands of that time. We received a phone call from the campground the day before our stay to tell us that they had had a major water main break and our site would not be available. They had taken the initiative to reserve us a site in a nearby KOA at the same rate. When we got there we received a $6.00 discount for being former military. What a really good thing for Blue Mountain and the KOA to do. The next day it was red road city as we made our way north into Vermont on US4 and US7. It got pretty exciting in Glens Falls, NY where we missed a local detour on US4 and ended up going up about a 10-degree grade road that turned out to be one way, the other way. We met a van towards the top. The lady driving it was upset to say the least. She had to back up about 50 feet or so so we could top the grade and keep on going on US4. We went down that same grade on the way back without the excitement. The rest of the trip was very nice but uneventful. We arrived in Essex Junction at the Champlain Valley Expo Center where the Escapade was held. The awesome Escapade parking team soon had us in our assigned space in the vendor area. We had 30-amp electric and water. Three days in our tanks were pumped out for us. Great service. We arrived on Sunday, and the opening ceremony was at 3 o’clock. Kay Peterson, who along with her husband Joe founded the Escapees RV Club in 1978, brought the house down with a remembrance of Joe in a very funny story. We had dinner with our friend, RV industry journalist Greg Gerber. Monday through Thursday was the bulk of the activities at the Escapade with many, many seminars going on along with other events as well as the vendor area being open from 9 to 4 each day. We had a booth and set up to sell our books. It was so awesome to meet many old friends as well as a lot of listeners to our podcast. The food venue on the grounds even sold Lobster Rolls, so Kathy and I ate well! Tuesday morning, we did our first seminar on Workamping and we sold a lot of those books after the seminar. Wednesday afternoon we did probably our favorite seminar on Lessons Learned while Living the RV Dream. It was well attended and well received and we had a lot of fun doing it. The vendor area was closed on Thursday and we were able to get some interviews done for our upcoming shows. We were able to get interviews with Travis and Melanie Carr, the newly named president and vice president of Escapees. Then we interviewed the folks at Boondockers Welcome, the Geeks on Tour, Kimberly Travaglino of Fulltime Families, and finally we interviewed and were interviewed by Greg Gerber, editor of the RV Daily Report and Let’s RV daily newsletters. We had been chasing Kimberly all over the country and we finally were able to sit down with her and talk about her wonderful organization Fulltime Families. The closing ceremonies were Thursday afternoon and we headed out on Friday morning. We did exactly the same route without the drama in Glens Falls. Unfortunately, I had neglected to get a campground reservation for Friday night and all available campgrounds were full. That caused a miserable 475-mile trip over 12 hours. We arrived back in Aberdeen at the Marylander campground at about 8:45 and got hooked up just before dark. We will not do that again! We are now back enjoying our grand kids and planning our trip home. You can bet we have made reservations so we will have a leisurely trip home. That includes our journey around Baltimore and Washington on Sunday. We should arrive back at the Horseshoe Cove RV Resort later next week. We’ll then go into the detailed planning for our rally, the Living the RV Dream Gathering in October. I want to thank all you folks who signed up for this newsletter at the Escapade. If you like what you see, share it with your RVing friends and have them sign up on any page of our website, www.livingthervdream.com.
John and Kathy
What is a Wi-Fi Booster Actually Doing?
by Eric Johnson TechnoRVThis is a question I get asked a good deal. Wi-Fi does seem like magic, but it really isn’t. Simply put, Wi-Fi is the wireless counterpart to the Ethernet cable. Most people that have homes connect their computer to an Ethernet cable for direct access to the internet. If you want to connect to the internet wirelessly, then you use what is called Wi-Fi. All of your devices that you connect to the internet with, including laptops, smart phones, iPads, and so on, all have a component in them called a wireless adaptor. What a wireless adaptor does is takes data, or in this case the request that you have typed in, and converts that to a radio signal. The radio signal is transmitted to the access point, or as most call it, a router, and then the radio signal is turned back into data and sent to the internet via an Ethernet cable. Then the process happens in reverse to get the information you requested back to your device. So where does the problem occur? Well, there are two areas that will cause problems in this process, and one of these issues you have direct control over, and the other, you have no control over. Let’s talk about what you have control over first. That tiny little Wi-Fi adaptor that is in your device is powered to send your request and then there is an antenna that is used to receive the signal back. Your device’s Wi-Fi adaptor is not meant to pick up a good signal from a long distance. So if you are at a campground and the access point is 200 yards away, you are going to struggle to get anything. This is where a Wi-Fi booster comes into play. It is all in the numbers, and looks like this: your internal Wi-Fi adaptor has about 0.2 of a watt of power to send your request to the internet, and it has an internal antenna that has about 1dB of gain to receive the signal back. This is fine if the access point is 15 ft. away, but not if it is a quarter of a mile away. The Wi-Fi boosters we use have 2 full watts of sending power, and depending on what configuration you use, can have up to 16 dB of gain on the antenna side. Under good conditions, I have picked up Wi-Fi signal from 0.8 miles away. So there you have it, more power equals more opportunity to pick up a Wi-Fi signal from a farther distance. In essence you are using the Wi-Fi booster instead of your wimpy internal adaptor. Now, this is the good news, and you can see how a Wi-Fi adaptor can get you in touch with what is available as far as the internet is concerned. The part of the equation that you do not have control over is the amount of internet that is available from the RV Park where you are staying. The park provides what is called bandwidth, and the amount of bandwidth provided will also dictate the experience you have with speed of downloads. Let’s say I have a pizza that is big enough for 3 people, but 10 people decide to join in and eat the pizza. You get the point, if the park does not have enough pizza, then it doesn’t matter what you do on your end, there is just not enough to go around. What we experience, and our customers tell us, is that your experience can vary from park to park, or even at different times of the day that you try to get on the internet. The bottom line for us is that we want to make sure we are doing our part, because if the park has good bandwidth levels, then I need to make sure I can connect to it. It would be like them having that big pizza and me not being invited to the party. To understand the different configurations of our boosters you can watch this video: https://youtu.be/Mx487RuSO04
Uber for RV Travelers?
by Chris Guld Geeks on TourUber is the new age ride-sharing service taking the world by storm. We’ve used it a couple of times. Once when we needed a ride to the airport in Miami, and another time when we wanted to go out on the town and not worry about drinking too much to drive home. Both times the service was excellent. You put the App on your phone and you can see exactly where the Uber cars are and how long it would take one of them to get to your location. Just tap the screen and enter where you want to go and you know right away how much it’s going to cost. Once you’ve reached your destination, no money changes hands. It’s all done by the app and your stored payment information. It is especially useful in places like Europe when you are the stranger. The App you use works just the same as it does here in the US. It doesn’t matter that you and the driver can’t understand each other because you both understand the Uber App on your phone. It shows the destination. You can even watch the car as it travels the route. What does this have to do with RVers? It occurs to me that many people who travel by RV don’t have a car. Uber might make this a more palatable option. Although you won’t find Uber rides available in truly rural areas, you may be surprised at the smaller towns where Uber is available. You can use the Uber.com website “Find a City” to see if service exists in your location. We are currently at an RV rally (the Escapade) in Essex Junction, Vermont. Although not rural, this is certainly not a major metropolitan area. I open my Uber app and see that there are at least 6 Uber cars in circulation nearby and it would take one of them 12 minutes to get to me and give me a ride where I wanted to go. I thought about more rural places we like to stay, like just about anywhere there is a Thousand Trails park! I looked up Fair Play, SC and was surprised to see that Uber does provide rides there, so I asked for a Fare estimate from the Thousand Trails park in Fair Play, SC to Clemson University – an 18 mile drive:
I also got a fare estimate from the campground to the nearest grocery (7 miles away) and it came to $9-12. Uber is a free app available on Apple iOS as well as Android. You must set up an account and a payment method, but it only takes a minute and you can be on your way!
RV Industry Death Spiral – Part 1: Less than 20 years of viability remain
By Greg Gerber, Editor, RV Daily ReportTwo weeks from today, I will be stunned if I have any subscribers or advertisers left on RV Daily Report. I’m adopting the old adage, “If I haven’t offended you already, take a seat. I’ll get to you soon.” After covering the industry for 15 years as a journalist, one of the best career moves I ever made was to actually purchase a product produced by the RV industry and hit the road using it. I started observing how the industry works from the eyes of a consumer. It hasn’t been pretty. I have come to realize the RV industry is in a death spiral. The current business model is simply unsustainable and the professionals working in the industry either: •Know what’s going on, are in denial, and remain hopeful the problems will simply fix themselves. •Don’t want to know what’s going on and keep their heads firmly planted in the sand ignoring many very obvious signs. •Are aware of the problem, know it won’t end well, but are simply choosing to ride the wave as long as they can. Every other day for the next two weeks, I’ll publish another opinion column targeting a specific segment of the industry and explain how that segment is contributing to the eventual demise of the entire industry. I’ll look at: •RV manufacturers •RV dealers •RV suppliers and wholesalers •RV parks and campgrounds •RV associations •RV owners •RV media Consumers are frustrated beyond words over product quality and customer service. Every single day I hear about another issue involving a new or experienced RVer. RV owners are seething over the finger pointing response they receive when attempting to get problems addressed. Yet, industry professionals are fired up to see 400,000 RV deliveries to dealers this year – the most we’ve seen in a very long time. The twinkles in their eyes suggest they believe the industry can break the 500,000 mark. One person recently suggested we could see 600,000 RV deliveries in one year. Riiiiight! Under the industry’s current infrastructure, there is not a snowball’s chance in July that will EVER come true. Unless something is done now, the industry has less than 20 years of viability remaining. Every year it delays addressing these issues further accelerates its pending demise. It is as though everyone is having a great time at the wild and crazy all-industry party while delicately ignoring the dinosaurs in the room. I say dinosaurs because the problems have been around longer than I have – yet few people seem willing to really address them.
The industry knows a problem existsThe most telling point for me occurred during this year’s RV Industry Power Breakfast in May where the chairman of Thor Industries and the CEO of Forest River both admitted that the “customer experience” needed to be improved. During the introduction it was noted the two firms control about 72 percent of the entire RV market. With Thor’s acquisition of Jayco last Friday, that number is now up to 83 percent. If the two leaders of 83 percent of the RV market realize a problem exists with RV owners, then maybe a problem really exists. But, will anything of consequence be done to address it? According to the RV Industry Association’s market data and trends, there are 9 million RV-owning households in America today. Funny thing is that a 1997 report from Dr. Richard Curtain claimed there were nearly 9 million RV owning households. By 2001, that number dropped to 7 million. But, in 2011, Curtain claimed there were again 8.9 million RV-owning households – which he described as “the largest number of U.S. households ever recorded that owned an RV.” So, there were 9 million RV owning households in 1997, and 9 million in 2011 and 9 million today. This despite the fact that, using RVIAs own shipment numbers, there were 5.7 million new RVs built between 1997 and 2015. Yes, a whole bunch of RVers upgraded their units during that time, and some more than once. But the used RVs didn’t evaporate, did they? One would assume that people bought the previously owned RVs and added to the number of RV-owning households. But, if there are just as many RV-owning households today as there were in 1997 — despite the flood of 5.7 million new RVs into the market during that time — then there were a heck of a lot of RVs junked in 18 years.
Turning a blind eye“Would you just shut up, Gerber! There’s nothing to see here. Move along.” Oh, how I wish I could, but I’ve been too complacent for too long. Product quality and customer service was an issue when I first arrived on the scene in January 2000, and it’s an even bigger problem today despite the advent of technology designed to improve construction and service. When the industry cheers the defeat of Lemon Law legislation, it conversely conveys the message to consumers that it is willing to tolerate imposing products that don’t work and can’t be fixed on unsuspecting buyers. Over the next few weeks, I will relay some real life experiences in hopes of educating people who can actually influence a solution. As a full-time RVer I can see through the industry’s smoke and mirrors. The industry talks a good talk and markets the heck out of the lifestyle. But, it drops the ball big time when it comes to QSV — quality, service and value. My goal in doing this series is to spark a desperately needed debate or at least a serious discussion. I’d be happy if professionals would engage in a 10-minute talk in some boardroom. It is astounding how poorly connected the industry is to its consumers. Most RV industry professionals know at least one journalist covering the industry side of the business, but how many can name just one blogger? Pick any three bloggers who have the ears of consumers and their combined audiences are likely larger than that of the Go RVing website – and the bloggers aren’t spending $16.5 million a year in advertising to get the traffic. With the flurry of activity involving the ENTIRE RV industry including all the segments mentioned above, minus RV owners, it employs 289,852 people, according to the recently released RVs Move America Economic Report. When compared to 9 million RV-owning households, people employed in the industry equate to just 3.2 percent of people who own RVs. Owners vs. industry How 9 million voices can fall on mostly deaf ears defies logic. But, it happens. RV consumer forums and Facebook groups are brimming with horror stories about poor products and poor experiences. And it doesn’t just impact average everyday RV owners from Main Street USA. Highly influential people in the RV industry have abandoned the lifestyle after the very expensive products they purchased failed to deliver on expectations. I would stake my career on the fact that of the 289,852 people employed in the RV industry, just 3.2 percent – 9,275 — of them actually own an RV. A bunch more may borrow an employer’s RV for a long weekend, but my guess is they have never had to experience the pain of getting an RV serviced or in making a campground reservation. I’m about to put it all in perspective and I’m probably going to offend a bunch of people in the process, especially when I show how RV owners themselves actually contribute to the problem. But, in doing so, maybe, just maybe, some eyes will be opened.
Owners vs. industryHow 9 million voices can fall on mostly deaf ears defies logic. But, it happens. RV consumer forums and Facebook groups are brimming with horror stories about poor products and poor experiences. And it doesn’t just impact average everyday RV owners from Main Street USA. Highly influential people in the RV industry have abandoned the lifestyle after the very expensive products they purchased failed to deliver on expectations. I would stake my career on the fact that of the 289,852 people employed in the RV industry, just 3.2 percent – 9,275 — of them actually own an RV. A bunch more may borrow an employer’s RV for a long weekend, but my guess is they have never had to experience the pain of getting an RV serviced or in making a campground reservation. I’m about to put it all in perspective and I’m probably going to offend a bunch of people in the process, especially when I show how RV owners themselves actually contribute to the problem. But, in doing so, maybe, just maybe, some eyes will be opened.
It’s not too late to sign up for this year’s Living the RV Dream Gathering rally.Registration is open for the second Living the RV Dream Rally from the 11th to the 16th of October, 2016 at the Horseshoe Cove RV Resort in Bradenton, FL.
We will have 4 provided meals, entertainment on Friday night the 14th, door prizes, and seminars by the Geeks on Tour, TechnoRV, Al Hesselbart, John and Kathy Huggins, and a few others to be named later. Rig weighing will be available from the RVSEF at $60.
We will have to limit this event to 100 Rigs and there will be a waiting list. The camping cost will be $22/night during the event and $150 for a 7-day week. First time visitors to the park can stay 30 days for $199 plus E, a popular option. There will be a special price for those who used that option last year.
A special 1-month golf cart rental has been arranged with Gator Carts of $220/mo.
Due to the extra day and meals, the rally fee will be $150. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org for sign-up form and information.
Living the RV Dream, LLC is the parent company of the podcast, newsletter, website, and Facebook group all of the same name.John and Kathy Huggins Living the RV Dream, LLC Email email@example.com
Podcast - http://blog.livingthervdream.com/ Website - http://www.livingthervdream.com/
Facebook Groups Main Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/livingthervdream/ Podcast Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/ltrvdpodcast/ Sales Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/248682128841742/ Rally Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/LTRVDGathering/
Our books available as eBook or print from Amazon.com So, You Want to be an RVer? So, You Want to be a Workamper? How to Survive an RV Show and Have a Really Great Time
These books are also available as autographed paperbacks on the Living the RV Dream Store page on our website, http://www.livingthervdream.com
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