That's about $25.40 more than I pay. But wait, free checks are because I belong to a Seniors Travel Club that costs $25 a year but has a lot more "free" services in addition to checks. E.G. a couple of free meals more than makes up for the 25, and there may be more than six a year.
If your wife is a quilter you will not get past Hamilton Mo with out a stop.
Somehow, my wife failed to notice this one :). She did find the quilt shop on US-54 between Nevada and Collins, because we stopped at the affiliated RV park (Arrowhead Lake).
If you are trying to avoid long stops at quilt/fabric stops, be aware that there is another one along US-400 between KS-99 and Augusta. Don't know the nearby city names because I'm coming up on 99, and there aren't any cities anyway, between Chanute and Wichita.
California is a big place. What's the destination? The best route to San Francisco is not necessarily the best route to Los Angeles. Let us assume Los Angeles (Disneyland, Hollywood and half the population of the state).
I-40 would be my route of choice, April through October, if time matters, going to southern California. There is plenty to see and do. From Oklahoma City west, you are mostly on or near Route 66, and all the sightseeing places were developed in the 50s and 60s for that traffic. The sightseeing place we call the Grand Canyon is where it is because it is close to this route. The actual canyon is much more extensive, we just visit the place close to the highway.
East of OKC, Nashville, Memphis, and Little Rock are worth visits. To the west, Las Vegas, Death Valley, can be not too far out of the way.
In winter, for Interstate travel to southern California, I would try to get down to at least Atlanta, and take I-20/I-10.
But from West Virginia, you can also leave on I-64 to St Louis, stay on I-70 all the way to Utah, then down I-15 to Las Vegas and southern California. This route takes your through Missouri and Kansas (which I've learned to appreciate after 30 years on the Great Plains) then across the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, where they are more impressive, and onto the Colorado Plateau to see a half dozen of the best National Parks, Monuments or Recreation Areas in the Park Service inventory. Season for this route is late June through early October.
If the destination is northern California, I recommend I-80 if in a hurry, US-50 if not, but the season for getting across the Sierra Nevada is narrower. Winter can be very long in the High Sierra.
If the question is just about "what is the road like, I-40" then the answer is "it varies." Past few years I-40 has been totally closed for months, a couple times, through the Appalachians. The road is usually pretty good through Tennessee, Nashville is always a mess at the wrong time of day (2-3 hours twice a day) and West Memphis is always a congestion point. A small section between Memphis and Little Rock (crossing a flood plain) was notoriously bad for years, but they've just finished rebuilding it. Most from Little Rock to Oklahoma City has recently been rebuilt, but there may still be projects working in OKC, my preference is to use I-240 to bypass the downtown. West of the Oklahoma City suburbs (El Reno and beyond) is still in decent shape, as is the section in Texas to Amarillo.
Beyond Amarillo, I can't vouch personally. Last time I came through they were rebuilding the highway between Santa Rosa and ABQ, but that was almost 10 years ago, it has certainly been finished but is has been long enough that the road could be beat up again.
The standards for the Interstate Highway system produce roads for 8-10 year lifespan, less if states allow loads over 80,000 pounds, which most do. This means along any route some sections will be almost destroyed by traffic, some will be being rebuilt, some will have been recently rebuilt. Pick any of the highways, East-West particularly, travel 2000 miles on the highway, and you will encounter all three situations.
When time doesn't matter, I avoid the Interstate system as much as I can. From West Virginia I might follow U.S. 50 to Northern California, U.S. 60 towards Southern California. I've followed both from the Atlantic to the Sierra Nevada, both are interesting trips, both are quite slow trips, even when dropping onto the Interstate to get through major cities on freeways rather than surface streets.
I haven't done it, but I've seen it a few times, usually a first or second generation Voyager or Caravan (not the long wheelbase "Grand") or the first generation Odyssey (which is still the size of Honda's minivan for markets in Europe and Asia). Front-drive Mazda MPVs and later Mazda 5 are a similar size, and can be dolly towed. With manual transmissions they could be towed 4-down.
Minivans got really big as more manufacturers came into the business with "hey, our minivan is roomier." Roomier is what the market wanted, large families carry a lot of stuff.
For smaller minivans today, look at the Mazda 5, Ford's Transit Connect or Nissan's NV200, although that may not be available retail as a passenger van, it is for the taxi market. Chevy has come into the market with a City Express, but I don't think they are doing a passenger van.
All of these smaller minivans share the compromise involved with the original Voyager/Caravan: you carry people or cargo, not both. Five passengers with huge luggage space, almost twice as much as a mid-size SUV, or 6-7 passengers and space for luggage of 2-3 people, the way Americans pack for travel.
A lot will depend on how many seats you need. NV200 is only five seats, Mazda 5 (now extinct) was comfortable at six, Transit Connect will carry seven but the rear seat is really cramped.
This one is not in the catalog archive. There is some styling resemblance to the low-profile Itasca Windcruiser from this era, but that was more conventional, on a front engine Chevy chassis with a tag axle.
I think the price is pretty low for something that probably belongs in a museum.
If you go across the Pennsylvania Turnpike and follow I-70 south from Breezewood the highest elevation will be about 2600 feet. Fifty years ago when I was doing it, that was the only way to go, except there was not a I-70 out of Breezewood, it was still all U.S. numbered highways.
Crossing the Appalachians further south may take you to slightly higher elevations, but those routes don't make sense for Detroit to DC.
The best corridor, for road quality, traffic, safety and speed, would probably be I-68. I think on that one, the highest point is about 2300 feet.
While this is higher than what you've done so far, as the routes from Detroit to Nashville do not cross very high areas (most of Michigan is higher elevation than western Tennessee), rather the hills or grades are mostly down into river valleys and then back up.
Elevations along Interstate highways through this part of the country are not a particular problem; they stay low enough that there is not much power loss, even for unsupercharged engines. What impacts your towing are the grades, how steep and how long. Grades are what stress your tow vehicle, more power needed to climb, heating the engine and transmission, and braking to manage speed going downhill.
I-68 probably has more grades than the route across I-70, but not steeper, as there is a standard for grades on the Interstate system. There should be nothing steeper than what you encountered going to Nashville, but some of the grades will be longer, measured in miles rather than fractions of a mile. The added safety of wider lanes, wide grass medians, and more gentle curves designed for higher speeds would make I-68 my preference towing. It also saves on tolls.
The proposed amendment is about "truth in labeling." The current method of distinguishing recreational vehicles (exempt from building codes and HUD standards) from manufactured housing (built to permanent housing standards) was size, and this has become broken by larger park model RVs and large fivers. In addition, park model RVs, particularly, are being sold into the permanent housing market in places where building codes allow this. Many people buying these are led to believe they are getting a mobile home rather than a RV.
The proposal is that RVs built to RV standards be labeled as such, for buyer awareness. It proposes no restrictions on what RVs can be manufactured (indeed, it allows for larger RVs by removing size as the criterion for the HUD standards exemption). It proposes no changes in building codes, which are local, and are the real determinant as to what is considered adequate housing where.
Pulling down a lead-acid battery too far can kill it. This can happen the first time you do it, or after several cycles of this abuse over time. A lot of RV batteries that could last 4-8 years or more die in 1-2 years from being discharged too deeply, or being "cooked" while left attached to the wrong type of charger.
That your charger-tender shows the battery to be bad could be a charger-tender issue. A battery pulled down too low has too little resistance for the charger circuitry to handle, so the charger protects itself by refusing to try. Many "booster" systems do the same, though some have a manual over-ride.
Higher-end chargers might be able to get a charge started on a really low battery, some old resonance chargers could do it, but another way to get started is to hook it up in parallel to a charged starting battery, which should be able to handle the high initial load, which might be comparable to spinning a starter motor. Running jumpers from an engine battery being charged by an alternator sometimes also works. This has to be done very carefully, with heavy cables, because it is almost like hooking up a short circuit, you can expect major sparking on the final connection, enough to explode any hydrogen gas that might be venting from either battery.
My experience, however, is that a battery reaching this stage often also has a cell shorted, or has lost a lot of usable plate area, and really should be replaced.
"Residential" is usually a misnomer when talking about use of compressor refrigerators in RVs. What is usually being installed is a compact to mid-size refrigerator made for apartment, dorm, motel room, mini-bar use.
Small compressor fridges built for these uses will consume much less power than big "frost free" models most of us buy for home use. Greatest power consumption in residential use is usually running the defrost cycles, after that it will usually be the ice maker, while this also depends on patterns of use, e.g. how often the door is opened, ice-maker used. Leave out these features in a fridge with a small box, power consumption goes way down.
Still, running off an inverter means running off a 12V source, which could be your trailer battery or the battery charge line from your tow vehicle, if that source has adequate voltage to the inverter. These refrigerators are more often installed in motorhomes where there is adequate supply from the alternator when moving, at least 150 amp-hours battery capacity (sometimes a lot more than that) and a generator ready to self-start when battery voltage drops.
In a trailer, you are on batteries only if not hooked to a power post or running a generator, but the "how long" depends on the size and charge condition of the trailer batteries, how much power is needed by the specific refrigerator, and what else is drawing from the batteries.
I would have no problem with the idea of replacing the 6 cu ft absorption fridge with a similar-size non-frostfree compressor fridge, because most of the time I'll have the engine running or be hooked up to power, and if it is really hot, I'll be running the generator anyway for air conditioning while on the road or parked temporarily. With a travel trailer, I would have to be more careful about watching power use, and for dry camping, I want a fridge running on LPG.
Back again. If amount of space is the prime concern, and you are sure you have enough pennies saved, your best option is the Extended Long Wheelbase Sprinter. The high top has 6 1/2 foot headroom in the empty cargo van, the super high top has another 10 inches. The dual rear wheel version of the 3500 has a GVWR of 11,030 pounds, for almost 5000 pounds of carrying capacity, and it can still tow 5000 with the V-6.
That's about 700 pounds more capacity than the equivalent Transit (DRW LWB-E High Top), and the Ford needs the diesel with optional axle ratio to exceed that towing capacity. There are no equivalent vans from Ram, Chevrolet/GMC or Nissan, as single rear wheel axles hold GVWR under 10,000 pounds at highest ratings.
Whether not GVWR matters depends on the nature of your conversion, Chevy and Nissan will still have at least 3000 pounds of cargo capacity to handle your RV build and passenger and cargo loads, and some manufacturers have successfully built "camper" (as opposed to "motorhome") conversions on 150/1500 models with 8000-8600 pound GVWR option packages.
Expect to pay about $8,000 to $10,000 more for a base level Sprinter, compared to a Chevy or Transit, and upwards of $55,000 for a heavily optioned 4x4 dually cargo van. Either is about $4000-5000 more if you want to start with a passenger van, and the extra trim and seats will add 600 to 1000 pounds to the empty weight.
I use 36 several times a year from Hannibal to either I-35 at Cameron or on into Kansas (but not beyond US-75).
36 is four lane divided, but it is not limited access, it has many small crossings and slow vehicle are permitted. Most of the crossings are low volume, and there are interchanges for most major highway intersections. There are no stoplights between Hannibal and Cameron, with usually light traffic until St Joseph, where the road starts serving as local expressway.
You can make good time if you stay close to the posted speed limit. Highway patrol will pull over traffic running 5 mph over, and the road is hilly enough for them to hide in the dips and catch you on radar as you crest a hill.
In the hilly parts you need also be watchful for agricultural traffic, during plowing and harvesting seasons particularly. Slow traffic will usually run on the shoulder, where it is paved, but it can also be crossing the road or shifting left to cross the median.
Last time I took 36 into Kansas, last summer, they were repaving from just west of the river all the way to Troy, with some long waits for single lane one-way at a time. I haven't gone that far since, but likely the project is now finished, as Kansas is real good about getting highway construction done quickly.
No. There is not even a website or directory listing all campgrounds in the U.S. Based on the number of campgrounds and small RV parks I pass traveling the "back roads" through the middle of the country, I suspect the best listings might include half of the RV parks, and fewer than a quarter of the campgrounds.
Most listings have "minimum service" criteria that tend to exclude small public campgrounds in out of the way places, and "convenience" RV parking at gas stations, small motels and travel centers. Listings are starting to cover RV parking at casinos, but not the camping networks at farms and vineyards. RV parks that primarily serve seasonal workers mixed with permanent residents, and RV parking in mobile home communities are also usually excluded.
Most of these places that are not in listings will not have reservations systems, so you would not find them by availability date even if they were listed.
For campground systems like the recreational access facilities at Corps of Engineers Lakes that show up on the recreation.gov reservation site, all that will be listed will be what is reservable, while there are often additional campsites (and whole campgrounds) at the same Corps project that do not get listed because sites cannot be reserved.
If you are looking for a certain class of RV park or RV-specific campsites in campgrounds, the best starting point I've found is RV Park Reviews, though it does not provide reservations service. What it does well is help to identify the types of campgrounds and RV parks catering to recreational RVers.
I hear a lot of good things about lazy daze MH's. What would be the price of a new lazy daze compared to a higher volume produced MH similarly equipped? And is the extra dollars worth it?
LD prices can be found in their website.
I'm not sure you can find a similarly equipped high-volume C, because of the differences in the construction quality of the furnishings, and the consideration that any other C above entry level or rental grade will have slideouts. Ingnoring that compared to middle-line C's the price of a LazyDaze will usually be lower than the MSRP of the mass produced C. And LD will be much lower priced than MSRP of the few premium C's that are not direct factory sales.
The "cost" that keeps LD sales volume down is the wait. That's why I didn't buy one, actually paying more the 2004 LD prices for a used lower-grade Winnebago (but it has two slides for the roominess my wife wanted).
Whether it is worth it probably depends on how long you plan to keep it and use it. If you want to be in something new, frequently trading to do that (e.g. you get your cars on 18-24 month leases) then you are probably not a candidate for a RV that requires several months wait after you order, and doesn't change much at all model year to model year. If you are buying something to keep and use for the next 10-20 years, then you would be a LazyDaze or BornFree buyer candidate, although any mass-production C can give you 10 years with proper care.
Until it takes the surge that kills it, as surge protection is sacrificial. With respect to surge protection, it is like a crash helmet. One hard hit and it is done, a few small hits and you are wondering how much protection remains.
For other features like power management and filtering, a good one should last tens of years if never hit by a destructive surge. That's better than the crash helmet, those get stinky after a while, even if it never hits anything.
Progressive Industries devices can be rebuilt to restore surge protection. If it gets hit so hard that it can't be rebuilt (think lightning strike) the warranty should get you a new one. Supporting that policy is the reason for the high price.
BTW, when I bought my last van, I was offered a deal on a new E-150 8-passenger van ($38,000 on X plan, down from $45K MSRP) but chose to buy a 6 month old ex-rental 12 passenger van with 19,000 miles for $22,000. Took out the back seat to make it an 8 passenger.
You will find these deals on whatever is being used by rental companies, most of whom do not title the vehicles during the short period they use them, so you become the first "owner."
I don't know about Sprinters, Transits, ProMasters in the ex-lease or ex-rental market, but the Fords and Chevys used to take huge depreciation hits in that first year, because the secondary market is small and frugal, mostly institutional buyers or very large families with lower incomes.
Most of the places I stay are public parks, the trash gets carried to the dumpsters, which might be at the park entrance, or might be conveniently located.
Most of my camping trips are short enough that, with my recycling and waste management practices, I can pack it all out with me when I leave. Typically do not fill more than one 13 gallon bag per week with stuff I cannot take to recycle.
I would not expect a "better" unit buying the Sprinter-based Class A (Via/Reyo) vs the Sprinter-based Class C (View/Navion). Winnebago uses the same materials, house components, production methods and workers to build both lines, and they are trimmed to a similar level. The biggest difference is that the C comes with a Daimler-made cab built to automotive safety standards for the vehicle, the A you will be driving from inside the house structure in a Winnebago cab.
Your choice should probably be made based on how well the living space fits your needs. In my RV club experience the past eleven years, most of the second thoughts, buyer remorse and trading for "something better" has to do with the living arrangements not fitting the buyers' needs.
For children of appropriate age, I like the over-cab sleeping space of a C, because it gives them a space they can consider their own. You can get that in a bunkhouse RV as well, but not at a size this small.
"Hotels don't do this and they take cancellations right up until the date you are supposed to check in."
Not entirely accurate, hotel reservations often have different terms, depending on the rate at which you book, and might have cancellation fees. They can even be entirely non-refundable. It can be the same for transportation, even purchases as big as cruises. Did you ever lose a $18,000 worth of cruise bookings because you chose at the last minute to cancel, or failed to get to the port in time to sail?
Many campgrounds are using third-party reservation systems, so that there is a fee to them for a booking, and a fee for a cancellation. This is case now even for reservations at public facilities. If you show up and pay the camping fees, those costs get hidden in the fees; if you don't show up, it is either a loss to the campground, or they get it from you.
Cool points of interests depend on your interests. I am a geologist, with a sense of geological time scale, so the Holbrook meteor crater is a key point of interest. It is as if this relatively small piece of rock hit us just yesterday, and today another could wipe out the human race in an instant.
But I was first trained as a historian, so I like to visit early settlements (San Antonio is great for this). Otherwise, a quiet place in a forest with wildlife wandering through the camp; national forests work for this.
OTOH, my two youngest sisters will be traveling from theme park to theme park, and my oldest daughter is looking for hotels with ghost stories, my youngest for art museums and galleries (so she would be headed to Taos and Santa Fe). My grandson, I'd be taking to historic railroads.
A small hard-side is not a difficult tow. But there are minivans and there are minivans. An Astro/Safari with 4.3 V-6 can tow a lot more than an early 4-cylinder Caravan or a Mazda MPV, and there is a whole range of other vans in between. Astro has essentially the 1500 Silverado six cylinder drive train, which is fine for light towing.
I would put a transmission cooler on any minivan that did not come with a tow package (which sometimes includes the cooler but often a beefed up cooling system for both engine and transmission, plus electrical and suspension upgrades).
I'd be wary of towing much of anything with 2nd generation Odyssey, they liked to eat up their undersized transmissions even if not towing (my daughter went through three trannies in two vans).
A lot depends on which hard-side. The smallest A-Liners can be towed by a subcompact sedan.