RV Sales Consultant: Barbara Andrews General RV Center 1577 Wells Road Orange Park, Fl 32073 Toll Free 888 904-0104 or 904 458-3000 Cell# 904 610-1018

Posts tagged ‘camping’

Your First RVing Adventure!

Hooking Up For The First Time

RVers are some of the friendliest, most helpful people you will ever meet. Don’t be surprised if you pull into your site and your neighbor, whom you never met, is right there to assist you with hooking up, leveling and offering advice. Never be afraid to ask for help – everyone was a first-timer at one time. RVers often ask to tour your RV if it’s a model they are unfamiliar with and likewise will invite you in to see theirs.

A Basic Campground Setup Checklist: 

RVs vary, so this checklist is not meant to be all-inclusive. It is just a list of the high points to be sure you have it covered when you first take to a campground in your RV.

  • If you’re new to RV camping, at check-in, ask if the campground provides an escort service for first-timers. A seasoned staffer will guide you to your site and assist you in getting parked and leveled.
  • Determine if you need to back in or if it is a pull-through site. Know where your water, electrical and sewer hookups are on your RV. Position the RV so you have easy access to the hookups on the site.
  • Survey your assigned site. Be sure there are no low-hanging branches or other obstacles that will interfere with the RV. If you have a slideout or awning, be sure there is room on either side for those to fully extend.
  • Once you are positioned properly on your site, apply the parking brake if you have a motorhome (as a safety precaution, slideouts will not operate if the parking brake is not engaged).
  • The ground is not always flat, so level your RV as necessary, using blocks or stabilizing jacks if your RV is equipped with them.
  • Chock the wheels securely to keep the RV stable on the site.
  • If you are in a towable RV, disconnect the unit from the tow vehicle and stabilize the trailer hitch.
  • Manually pull the entry steps out or if yours are electronic, turn the switch off so the steps stay out when the door is closed. (Don’t forget to turn the switch back on before leaving or to pull up your steps before driving away.)
  • If you have slideouts, remove the travel locks or brace bars. Whenever you are operating slideouts, keep all windows closed for safety and have someone on the outside watch for people, clearance and obstacles in its path.
  • Make a connection. Plug the electrical shore power cord into the campsite receptacle that matches the amperage requirements of your RV. Electrical adapters may be needed, but keep extension cord use to a minimum.
  • Switch your refrigerator to the AC setting to draw on the electricity rather than your propane.
  • Always use a white potable RV drinking water hose. Attach it to the tank on the side of your unit and run the other end to the campground water supply. Turn on the water and check for any leaks.
  • When you are hooked up to a water supply, you don’t need the 12-volt water pump, only the pump to draw water from the fresh water tank when an external source is not available.
  • If you have sewer service at your site, wear latex gloves to remove the cap from the sewer hose valve and attach the sewer hose to the sewer drain outlet. Be sure to turn it so the locking tabs securely lock in place. Place the sewer hose seal in the campground sewer connection. Attach the other end of the sewer hose in the seal and securely connect.
  • Prop a rock or sewer hose support under the hose to create a slight slope from the RV down to the sewer connection so everything drains smoothly.
  • If you are hooked to a sewer connection, you can open the gray water tank valve to allow sink and shower water to drain directly into the sewer. It is the smaller of the two valves. Never leave the black water tank valve open.
  • Turn the main LP gas supply valve on at the tank or bottles.
  • Now it’s time to set up the exterior of your home away from home. Put an outdoor carpet mat down if you have one.
  • Set up the lawn chairs.
  • Put the awning out per the manufacturer’s instructions – be sure to close and secure your awning if storms or winds are expected.
  • Now relax and enjoy your getaway.


Water Regulator – Very Important
Don’t leave home without it ….. very important to add to your RV Camping Checklist! Most campgrounds and RV parks don’t tell you, but their water pressure can go up to very high pressures at different times of the day and night. This high pressure can severely damage the plumbing and even burst the water lines in your RV causing a flooded RV. You can pick up a water regulator at most RV stores and at some RV park stores. They attach to the water faucet on the outside of your RV screws on to your water hose. Make sure to get the high volume one so your water pressure will still be good for taking showers. They are rated at 40 lbs.

RV Holding Tanks
Understand your RV holding tank and how to dump it properly before going on your trip. The RV park or campground is usually not a good place to practice the first time you hook up your hose. Try to find a dump station in your area to practice. You can often use a clean-out hole on your home’s sewer connection if you know where it’s located. When we arrive at an RV park we usually leave the black tank closed and only let the grey water pass straight through to the outside sewer. If you let the black tank fill up you will avoid toilet paper from building up a pyramid in the tank and you will be able to flush it out well with a full tank. If you don’t do this your tank could possibly build up with toilet paper and eventually plug it up. It’s not a fun job getting it unplugged. We always close off the grey water the night before we leave the park so we’ll have some shower water to flush the hose out when emptying the RV holding tanks the next morning.

When you’re ready to dump you might want to first practice with the grey water holding tank. Let just a little water out at first to make sure there are no leaks. Do not empty the grey tank yet. Go now to the black tank and dump it next. Open the valve all the way when the tank is empty and then switch back to the grey tank and finish flushing the hose with the grey water. That way your hose will be a lot cleaner. Make sure your dump hose is in good shape. They don’t last very long and develop holes and cracks quite often. Handling this hose a minimal amount of times is a good thing. I use the Flex Products. I like them the best because the hose collapses into its own holder to carry around with caps on each end. No fumbling around trying to dig it out of a bag somewhere or trying to cram it back into a storage bin.

Have a great Adventure!  And don’t forget the bug repellant.

Barbara Andrews


Upgrade Your Life by Camping!

Camping as a Family Bonding Activity

Reserve a week end to connect to the people who mean the most to you–Your family. When outdoors, sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows, family’s become close in a way that you can’t possibly at home with the distractions of TV, phone and computer. Whether your are in a RV or tent the results are the same. Every kid loves sleeping in a tent under the stars – and every adult likes the break from their BlackBerry.  The importance of family bonding, whether it be with family, friends, or any acquaintance. Bonding is so important for success and happiness at all levels.

The world is in hyper-speed, and we all need to slow down and work on our bonding. From the simplest of things, like an all out weekend adventure, and anything in between, like playing kids games, or any other kids activities. The future of our children and everyone’s happiness depends strongly on this one simple task, and yes, family bonding is that simple and very do-able. Have fun and let the kid in you out! Who knows what might come of it.

Do you sometimes feel like you hardly know your family members anymore? With each one of you leading busy lives: dad spends 10 hours slaving away in the office, mom spends 8 to 10 hours at her  job, and the kids are each busy with schoolwork and after-school activities. It’s about time you found the time to do something enjoyable together as one tightly-knit family unit.
National parks are always a good place for camping as they offer plenty of amenities and are always dramatic. No matter where you live, you should be able to find a camping place that suits you. Keep track of the weather if you don’t want to spoil the fun. Schedule out your activities beforehand as it will also help to avoid your family from getting fed up. Ensure to arrange your activities so that all ages can partake. You can do all sorts of activities together such as hiking, animal or tree spotting, fishing, crafting with nature, treasure hunts, in addition to playing games.
Ensure to have a backup indoor activities plan, in case of  poor weather. There is nothing more annoying than having your camping adventure destroyed by the rain. Starting a custom of camping with your family will  inspire them, a lifetime love of the outdoors and a strong respect for Mother Nature. Moreover, you will be building plenty of memories that they can treasure for life, and a strong craving to pass this type of family togetherness and union, to their own children.  Don’t forget the marshmallows.  Barbara Andrews.

Good Clean Dirty Fun!

Western North Carolina in the heart of the Smoky Mountains.

If you are looking for something to do with the family. Plan your next Vacation or Trip to Franklin  North Carolina mining for gems. Here is a link to several RV campgrounds.  A good place to start for the basic information is at the Franklin Chamber of Commerce’s Gem Mining Page. However, there is other information that is important to know as well. First, know that at only a few of the mines will you be mining in native dirt. Most mines are “salted/seeded” with the tailings from other mines overseas. About the only completely native operations remaining that I know about in the area are Mason’s (not to be confused with Mason Mountain) and Cherokee. Some of the others will offer a combination of native and salted material, while with others you may be dealing with entirely salted material.

What does this mean for you, and how should you base your decision on where to go? Personally, I prefer to go for the native stuff at Mason’s, I have not been to Cherokee yet but, plan to this May. Although you will not find nearly as much, you have the chance of finding something VERY good. This option is best for purists, serious rockhounds, and those with good attention spans. With the salted material, you will find much more, but as it is stuff that has already been gone through, your chances of finding something extremely valuable are quite slim. However, it isn’t to say it is all junk (especially if you buy some of the more expensive salted buckets), and you may get more than your money’s worth. Keep in mind, however, that with salted it is more of a grab-bag than true mining. But if you only have a little time and are just interested in the experience and coming home with some souvenirs that look neat, and particularly if you have children in your party, the salted operations may be a better choice.

Mason’s Ruby and Sapphire Mine

Mason’s Ruby and Sapphire Mine – My favorite mine! This is the only dig-your-own operation where you are allowed to go into the mine itself to dig your own dirt… this place can be a lot of work (especially in the early spring when things can be very muddy), but tons of fun and definitely worth it! For adults, it is $30 a day with no admission fee, $15 for kids, and once again, bring cash. They also have food and drinks for sale at very reasonable prices. The water is very cold as their site mentions, but they do have extra gloves on hand, which really come in handy. This mine is in a really beautiful location, but is a bit out of the way– be sure to look for the yellow signs directing you to the mine, as the area is very easy to get lost in. This mine is actually open all year round, weather permitting, but be careful about attempting the roads (Airport to Olive Hill to Upper Burlington) if the weather is snowy or icy.

This mine was opened to the public in 1942, and a long time before that, it was once mined by Tiffany & Co. The sapphires that come out of here are mostly in the lavender to pink color range (it is mostly sapphires, rubies seem very rare. Though of course they are the same mineral, corundum crystals, only true red ones are called rubies, the rest being sapphires). You can get some very valuable stones out of here– the small facet quality pink sapphires that come out of here can run up to $400-500 a carat or more. Most of the stones you will find here will have a hexagonal shape, often enlongated. Most will have some coating on them, but keep your eyes out for any hint of that pink or purple coloring. As the mud here is quite tough, you will have to put extra effort into making sure your stones are cleaned. Good material in the mine tends to run in horizontal layers. Look for lighter grey soil, rather than the deeper red, and if you find a good location– keep an eye out for lots of mica in the screen, and sapphires in the vein material– dig around there in the same layer. The staff is very helpful– you may come across some older reviews bashing the place, but since the new management has taken over, things are agreed to be  MUCH better.

With regards to the mining itself, be SURE to completely clean your dirt in your screen. Most operators at the mines will pound this into your head, anyways, as it is something that causes many to miss seeing gems. You may be on the lookout for different things at different mines, so if you have no clue, ask for help or to see some samples before starting (and at many places the staff will also help you by looking through your “tailings,” i.e., the stuff you have already gone through). As an important rule of thumb though, bear in mind that rubies and sapphires will often have a six-sided shape and are heavy compared to other stones. You may want to bring a container for holding your finds, even though mines will usually provide them if needed; a Ziploc will work just fine, as will film canisters and medicine bottles for smaller stuff.

I’ve found that it is a good idea to bring a small hand shovel, as well. Some mines provide them, but some don’t, and they really come in handy for getting dirt from the buckets into your screen. Depending on the time of year and the weather, things like sunscreen and insect repellent can be useful to bring too. Basic materials like the screen, and shovels at dig-your-own operations, will be provided. Be sure that you know your destination mine’s accepted methods of payment– if it is cash only, you may find yourself backtracking quite a ways to find an ATM. Though it might seem obvious, be sure to find out the hours and season of the mine you wish to visit; April-October is the usual season, but  Mason’s Ruby & Sapphire Mine are open all year. Bring plenty of fluids and snacks.  Barbara Andrews.

Explore Life! Enjoy Life!

It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it were the only one we had. One of the best Family activities is RVing and camping. The Family bonding time is priceless and educational. It is a fact that Rvers and campers are happier and healthier people. Life is an adventure waiting to be enjoyed….so what are you waiting for?  Don’t put it off any longer find the Travel Trailer, Fifth Wheel, or Motorhome that’s right for you and your Family. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get started. Find a good used unit that will serve your purpose. Make sure it has been taken care of and that no roof leaks have occurred or buy a new unit if you can afford it. You can always start out tent camping to get the family involved. Life can be an adventure and a awesome journey. There are many local and state parks to Google in your area, life is to short. Treasure your family Enjoy Life! Explore Life!  If you live in the North Florida area stop by and see me @ General RV Center Orange Park, Florida 904 458-3000  Barbara Andrews. Your Vacation Starts Here!

The Dollars Spent On RVs Make Sense


There are more first time buyers purchasing RVs to live in full time than ever before. I, am a  fulltimer for all the same reasons given to me when they purchase one. Which are, the uncertain economy,  the expensive home living and maintenance cost that are still on the rise. You can move anywhere at anytime within an hour,  no home owner tax, and less stress. One of the biggest reason was that they were able to save money and the other was that they wanted to be mobile in case of a disaster. Things that make you go Hmmmm.

Why live in an RV?

I can tell you of many great reasons to live in an RV, but I’ll just cover some of the biggest ones. Maybe most important, it forces you to live a simple life and focus on what’s really important. You can’t waste your time looking for a beautiful dinette set because you have nowhere to put it.

When I bought my first house a good portion of my time and money was spent furnishing it. More time was spent maintaining it. Mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, shampooing the carpet, ect. Think about that for a minute. I bought this house to live in, and then spent a good part of my life working on the house. A lot of this was fun but, at the end of the day it was a self-perpetuating cycle.

An RV will not hold you’re junk. If you don’t have a use for something, get rid of it. It doesn’t have the room. You don’t remodel it well; you can if you want to but, why?  If you want to move unhook it and put it in drive. Even though you have less stuff, you always have it with you. Your files are with you, your clothes, your computer, your bed, and your bathroom. If you can’t fit it in the RV, get rid of it. You never stop home on your way somewhere because you’re always home. Home is where you park your RV. I live in a RV Mobile Home Park for $295.oo a month. I pay for my electricity and cable everything else is furnished. I’m 10 minutes from work and loving it!

You’re ready for any activity. You can take a quick shower if you need one. You can have a snack or cook dinner. When you go on vacation, your bedroom comes with you. Living in a RV feels like an adventure. Remember the feeling of camping in the woods as a kid? It sort of feels like that when you sleep with a breeze coming through the screen window at night.

It’s also cheaper, of course, than living anywhere else. Once you buy the RV you know that you have a place to live no matter what. That means that you can take financial risks and not jeopardize your lifestyle You can live wherever you want, anytime you want. Living in an RV isn’t for everyone, but I think a lot more people would give it a try if they knew how genuinely awesome it is!

We all know that something is coming we just are not sure of what. Chance often favors the prepared. Barbara Andrews 904 458-3000.

Prime Time Fifth Wheels

Sanibel – a luxury fifth wheel built with a level of Intelligence that far exceeds the status quo. Whether you are examining construction, design, features, or eye appeal, Sanibel has been carefully crafted to provide the highest level of owner satisfaction. Sanibel also has a two year bumper to bumper warranty. The Sanibel is equipped with 12-volt DC heating pads wrapped around fully insulated holding tanks for additional protection from freezing. Prime Time also uses radiant technology in the roof and floor to achieve R-52 insulation values and R-38 in the slideout floors where it is needed most.

A fifth wheel trailer is especially popular with fulltimers because most of these RVers want to go as big as the towing vehicle will allow. The fifth wheel is easy to connect and disconnect from the truck. It’s relatively easy to back up. Its tendency to sway is much less than that of a trailer coach. Because it can easily carry more height, it allows for more storage space – something every fulltimer wants.

That brings us to the most serious issue with fifth wheels — size and weight. The towing and carrying capacities of pickups have increased greatly over the years, enabling them to pull larger and heavier fifth wheels than ever before. The question is now, “Should they?” Loss of control may become a serious problem for ordinary pickups, with their relatively short wheelbases and low curb weights. In other words, we may begin to see more of the dangerous “tail-wagging-the-dog” behavior that is already common with trailer coaches.

Perhaps the answer is to use a larger tow vehicle. For example, if you buy a 40-foot trailer with four slideouts and all the luxuries of home, a medium-duty truck (MDT) should pull it safely and reliably. But do you really want to drive and park a nearly 60-foot long, 8′ 6? wide, 30,000-pound truck-and-trailer combination?

An obvious common-sense solution for most RVers is to simply choose a smaller, well-built trailer that can be towed safely and reliably by any large pickup. For pointers on selecting the proper truck to tow your trailer, see the Fifth Wheel Weight Calculator.

This introduction to fifth wheel travel trailers should be just the beginning of your research into techniques for choosing and using. We encourage you to begin your studies with the Tow rating Search.

We hope that you, as a member of RV Consumer Group, will contribute by sharing your experiences and observations. Making RVing safer and better always begins with you.Barbara Andrews 904 458-3000

So You Want To Go RVing

We often get asked for advice on how to get started RVing.
Here is a list of top ten “to dos” for those thinking about the RV lifestyle or just starting out.

These are easy to accomplish items that will help avoid costly mistakes or lousy RV experiences. Enjoy this great lifestyle by starting with adequate (and fun!) preparation.

The tips here are important for every new or wannabe RVer…and are especially important for those considering living fulltime in an RV.

  1. Read a few books about RVing. If you are pondering a fulltime RV lifestyle, there are some great books about fulltiming. These are typically written by fulltime RVers, and it is worth it to get a few different perspectives. Reading an assortment of these books was one of my first activities when I started dreaming about the lifestyle, and it has proven to be an invaluable activity.If you are in an RV-buying mode, there are a number of relevant books, such as the RV Comparison Guide and books that cover what to look out for when buying a used RV.
  2. Attend RV shows and dealers…spend the time needed to check out an assortment of RV types and brands. I did this for years, sitting in the rigs, mentally going through the motions of doing everyday activities, talking to people, listening to comments of others as they did their own looking around, and then I became an RV sales Consultant. It is actually a lot of fun, and helps you become an informed consumer.
  3. Go RVing – try it out.

    Before making a major RV purchase or a decision to go fulltime, have at least some experience RVing. Many people who upgrade their RV, or go fulltiming, already have had years of RVing experience. But if, like me, this is not the case, then rent an RV or buy a used RV… for vacations, weekend getaways and/or on a long trip where you can envision how it would be to live on a fulltime or “most-of-the-time” basis.

  4. Join a few RV clubs(such as Good Sam, FMCA and Escapees) and read their magazines.Even if you aren’t currently RVing, these clubs and their publications provide a lot of good information, services, and food for thought. We continue to learn from the magazines, and the various clubs hold rallies and local chapter events, which are also great learning opportunities.
  5. Be diligent and informed when you buy an RV. Quality, storage space, carrying capacity, towing limits, operating systems (plumbing, electrical, cooling/heating) and floor plan are all important. Think about how you will spend time in the RV day-to-day and make a list of things that are important to you.
  6. Evaluate your expectations and motives. Take a few minutes to jot down what you hope to get out of RVing. This is a good first step, but it is also a good exercise after you have done some of the above items. Once you start learning about the RV lifestyle via books, videos, shows and experiences, it is worth it to revisit what you hope to get out of RVing. You may validate your initial thoughts. Or you may discover that the RV experience you desire is a bit different than what you initially envisioned.
  7. Share the dream. If you are planning to RV with others (spouse, family, whoever), make sure they are part of the planning and learning process. Discuss expectations. Consider compromises. If you are going to spend time in close quarters with others, things will go much better if everyone is on the same team.
  8. Prepare a written budget – estimate your expenses, think about how you will spend your time, get it down on paper. Plan for recreation, insurance, emergency and maintenance costs.If you are considering the fulltime lifestyle, working on the road may be an important consideration.
  9. Consider connections. Depending on your circumstances, this might include keeping in contact with family and friends while RVing, having internet access, cell phone connectivity in different geographic areas and use of email. For a short vacation, this may be a minor subject. For fulltimers or those traveling for extended periods, it is a big consideration.
  10. Enjoy the journey. And we don’t just mean the RV journey once you are on the road. Also enjoy the “getting ready”, the learning phase. Have fun and take your time as you get to “know your stuff” about the RV lifestyleBarbara Andrews 904 458-3000.

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