Roaming: Where Shall We Go Part 3

Hi! I am Angie and this is my first ever blog post. Pam has blogged about us and our camping before but this is the first time I have ever written a post. I am not a huge writer, actually you will find that I am the shy, quiet one of the group but I am excited about camping season and sharing our camping adventures with you all.

Here is my list of places that I would like to visit.  My list does not involve fishing or really anything in particular. They are just places that I would like to visit. Have you been to any of them? I would love for you to share your tips if you have!  If you missed our other weeks, you can check out Pam and Wayne’s post here. Stay tuned, my husband, Allen, will share his ideas next week.

Great Smokey Mountains – We are making this trip this summer  and I am very excited about white water rafting (which I have never done). I also like to do some hiking when we are camping and I am sure there are some great places to hike.

Yellowstone National Park – I feel like this trip is a must if you live in the US.

Mount Rushmore – I don’t think that there is much to do around this area other than Mount Rushmore, but I really want to see it. It might have to be a stop on the way to something else.

Oregon/Washington State – I have not traveled much to the west coast. I have seen pictures of this area and it looks really beautiful.  I would love to see all the old, tall trees. I don’t really know much more about this area and will have to research it more.

New York – I know this is not exactly place to go when you think of camping, but I really want to go to New York. They have to have some place outside the city where you can camp and take a short train ride to the city ?  Right ?

Mount Vernon – I love history and I think this would be a great place to go and learn more about our first president.

Gettysburg – Again I love history !

DC/Virginia – This trip could be combined with the Mount Vernon trip, I don’t think that they are that far apart from each other.  Allen and I have spent the day in DC and it was not long enough. I would love to go back and be able to spend a week in DC and the surrounding area.  Arlington National Cemetery is a must see if you are in the area.

 

Well, there is my list of places that I would like to visit. I know that I will come up with more as we start to travel further in our campers and see more of the US.  I can’t wait to get the camping season started.

 

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Angie

 

5th Annual Family Camp-Out

Enrollment is now open for the 5th Annual Family Camp-out. 

Whether you are camping one night or two, or don’t want to camp at all but want to spend the day outside you can find something that fits you and your family. No matter how long you plan to stay, this camp-out is packed full of family fun!

Smithville Lake is a 7,200 acre lake and has more than 175 miles of shoreline.  Located just 20 miles north from downtown Kansas City, we have made this beautiful lake the site of our annual family camp-out for five straight years.

Reserve Your Spot NOW!!! The only way to get us all together is to reserve spots early. You can make reservations at this link. You want Loop G, Spots 407-416. Tent campers can coordinate with me to find you the best spot.

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We have a very exciting weekend planned. Remember last year’s Glow Party? We had such a great time we decided to bring it back again. Glow Party 2.0!

Need some inspiration? You can checkout past years here:

Make your reservations now! See you at the campfire!

me Pamela

Roaming: Where Shall We Go, Part 2

This is the second week of our Roaming: Where Shall We Go series. Join us as each of us daydreams about where we would like to spend warmer days and longer nights. If you missed the first week, you can catch it here.  So, without delay, here is Wayne with today’s post:.
I guess I should start out by saying I love to fish. Fly Fishing to be specific. So, most of the places on my list are going to be fly fishing related. If I can do two of my favorite activities at the same time, fly fish and camp , I’m a very happy man. I also like to hike, float, and bicycle. Camping for me is best when combined with an activity, so, if I can camp and fish, or camp and float, or camp and bicycle that’s right up my ally.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
There are many reasons why I put this National Park on my list. First and foremost, there is fly fishing. Along with many other activities such as white water rafting, bicycling and hiking. I’ve never been to the Appalachian Mountains so I’d like to hike part of the Appalachian Trail as well.
Sequoia Nation Park, California
Back in 1984 I took a trip with my dad and best buddy to the summer Olympics. It took us two weeks to camp and fish our way from  from Kansas City to Los Angeles. That was a long time ago and I don’t remember a lot of the details of the trip, but there is one thing I’ll never forget…The plan was to drive west to the coast in northern California and then head south on scenic Highway 1 all the way to LA. As best as I can recall, it was a late night when we were heading west towards the coast. I was sleeping in the back when my dad woke me up and told me we were camping “here” for the the night. It was late, we were exhausted and instead of pitching a tent we just threw our sleeping bags onto the ground. When the morning light came and woke me, I realized that we were in a redwood forest. Looking up, I can remember seeing giant redwood trees all around us. It was truly an awesome sight and something that will forever be etched into my memory. I’d like to see that again. There is a ton of places to see and to camp, it may take several weeks to explore this area.
Rocky Mountain National Park
This area has been on my places to visit list ever since the wife and I got an opportunity to visit some of her Denver friends over an impromptu weekend getaway. We were able to stay in an unbelievable cabin in the mountains near Leadville, CO. I was able to fly fish in a mountain lake while there and it reminded me of a lake that my dad took us to on a visit to Colorado back in 1984. I want to do that again, but only with a little extra time to explore. There are many RV camps in or around the Rock Mountain National Park Area, if anyone has any suggestions, feedback would be appreciated. I would like to find an RV park near some good hiking trails and high mountain lakes with trout.
Yellowstone, Fishing Bridge RV Park
I’ve seen pictures of Yellowstone; I’m thinking it’s one of those places that you just have to see in person. I want to stay at Fishing Bridge because of its central location inside the park. When we go, we plan on taking an extended trip, hopefully we can see most of the park in about 7 days or so. I like this destination because of the many activities and wondrous sights offered in the park.
Badlands National Park South Dakota
I’m interested in the area because of natural geological wonders in this area. I’ve always been interested in geology and how nature has a way of creating and changing itself over time. I want to see how natural erosion has shaped the landscape creating the “badlands.”  Also, I want to see the historic Black Hills and, of course, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. We only briefly discussed camping in the area, so we are open to some input on where to camp.
 Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
 It’s the Grand Canyon.
Yakima, Washington
A few years ago, I came across a series of YouTube videos featuring a fishing guide named Joe Rotter from Red’s Fly Shop in Yakima, Washington. I’ve learned a lot about fly fishing watching the Red’s Fly Shop YouTube channel. All that watching has made me want to actually go to Yakima and hire Joe to take me fishing! Unfortunately Yakima, Washington it’s a LONG ways away from my home, so this destination may have to go to the back burner for a while.
Camping near the Ocean
I love the ocean. I don’t like the beach or swimming in the ocean, there are things in the ocean that consider me food. So, I don’t like being in the ocean, but I love boats and fishing in the ocean. I have a few friends that live along the gulf coast that have boats and fish in the ocean regularly. One lives south of Houston, which is within my travel trailer hauling distance. I’d like to find a nice RV park near the ocean and experience what the coastal area has to offer. Researching, there are several ocean front RV parks. If you have any suggestions, let me know.
wayne       Wayne

Roaming: Where Shall We Go?

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In the Midwest, we winterize and put our campers in storage for the long winter months. However, that does not mean we stop camping. More camping trips are planned and booked during the winter than you can ever imagine! Campgrounds open reservations any where from one year to six months in advance, so if you want the prime spots, you have to plan early.

Here at Roam With Friends we have been dreaming and planning trips since last fall. Over the next four weeks we are going to share with you some of our dream locations. This should provide some insight into how the four of us select travel destinations.  We would love it if you have any insight into the places on our list. Maybe you have been there before and have some insider tips.  Maybe you have a camping spot recommendation or local activities for us to try. We welcome the feedback!

So, I am kicking things off! Here are my top destination spots.

10. Tulip Festival in Pella, Iowa. Okay, so it is not elaborate or exotic. But there is something about tulips in the spring that just feeds my jaded and calloused soul.  I have wanted to visit here for some time and hope we can make that happen in the next year or so.

9. Ozark National Scenic Riverways: Last year we visited this area during our fishing trip to Montauk State Park and I fell in love with the beautiful Ozark Mountains and the crisp clear waters. I am adding it to my list because I hope to return for a float trip down the Current or the Jack’s Fork Rivers, or maybe both!

8. Memphis TennesseeThe birth place of rock and roll, the home of the blues, plus Elvis Presley, and BBQ. Who would not want to visit? Memphis is too far away to be a weekend trip, but, then I wonder, is there enough to hold our attention for  a longer visit?

7. Nashville, Tennessee I grew up on country music. True story: when I was a little girl I wanted to be Barbara  Mandrell, never mind that I can’t sing a lick. I want to go and immerse myself in the culture of Nashville.

6.Jackson, Wyoming I made a brief stop here in 2013 and just got a taste of the area. I would love to visit again and linger. When we were there in 2013 we encountered two Moose on the way into town. I found myself wondering if the people of Jackson still stop in awe any time their paths cross an Elk or a Moose. I think I would like to find out.

5.Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Campground Okay, another confession: if I love anything as much as I do my family and RV camping, it is Disney. My husband says I have used up all my Disney vacations for the rest of my life, but I think he is just a bully. (Just kidding honey!) I have yet to visit the park during their Christmas celebration so I am thinking a December trip. Has anyone out there been during that time? We also heard a lot of negative feedback about the camping when we were there the last time. Does anyone have anything positive? Can a Disney campground surpass the Disney Resort?

4. Dauphin Island, Alabama My boss took her family to Dauphin Island a year or so ago. I googled it and fell in love with the photos. We have not ever had an RV beach vacation but I think I am up for the challenge. I am not one to just sit and relax on a beach for a week, I will need activities. Any suggestions?

3.Great Smokey Mountains National Park This national park is high on my list of places I want to visit. White water rafting, tubing down the river, Cades Cove, maybe even Tail of the Dragon. We actually have a week booked here this summer and I am excited. We have selected to stay in Townsend, close to the fly fishing.

2. Grand Canyon National Park I have started looking at visiting Grand Canyon. I learned there is a North Rim and a South Rim and even a West Rim. That is about the time I got overwhelmed and put it on the back burner. Have you been to the Grand Canyon? Pro’s and Con’s of each rim? Will I feel cheated if I select the North Rim. Will I be too crowded at the South Rim?  Any help for a newbie?

1.Yellowstone National Park  The number one destination on my list is Yellowstone National Park. We had talked about making this trip in 2016 but the Todd family needed a new tow vehicle to tackle the mountains so we pushed it back and made plans to visit the Smokey Mountains instead. I have been to Yellowstone twice, once as a teen with my family and then a few years ago.  I so want my children to experience this park and walk away with a whole new appreciation for conservation and preservation.  Due to my husband’s love of fly fishing, the only thing we know absolutely is that we hope to be staying at the Fishing Bridge.  Getting to Yellowstone seems to be half the fun. Do you have any suggestions on routes and stops?

There you have it, my top 10 camping destinations. We will have to wait and see what the others come up with before we settle on any course of action.  I know I have asked you lots of questions, so I should just say thank you for your advice in advance!

me

 

Pamela

Missouri Camper Award

There is a trend here at Roam With Friends that you might soon pick up on. Let me save you some time and just put it out there: we love camping at state parks. We love the price value, we love the sites, we love the activities, we love the adventure, and we love the choices the state parks give us. With that being said, our stay in a state park is usually short (two to four days).

A few years ago, we learned that our state parks system has a rewards program for frequent campers. It is called the Missouri Camper Award. I learned about the award doing one of the things that I do best; reading. Angie and I were sitting together at a picnic table on one of our very early camping trips and I was reading through the brochures the camp host handed us at check-in. Am I the only one who reads those brochures?  There in one of the brochures I found a tiny paragraph about earning the camper award. The eligibility for the award looked simple: camp in five different state parks in one year, obtain the camp-host signature, return the form, and earn a patch. Our geek-ness took over and Angie and I decided we wanted the award!

The Missouri Camper Award was actually started in 1971 with only 13 recipients. Each year the program has grown to reach nearly 600 recipients in 2011. In addition to the Missouri Camper Award, Missouri also offers a “Distinguished Missouri Camper” award. You are eligible for the Distinguished Missouri Camper award for every five years of participating in the Missouri Camper Award.

To participate in the program  you need a Camper Award form. You can get these directly from Missouri Department of Natural Resources or you can just ask the camp-host at check-in. Every time you visit a new state park you ask the host to certify your form (they date it, sign it, hand it back to you).  When you have camped at five different state parks, you mail it in the the Department of Natural Resources.   Shortly after that you will receive a package back in the mail.

Your package will contain a certificate, a patch and a year bar for each member of your family. After your first year, you will receive a new year bar and a certificate. It is up to you to decide how you want to display your patch. We made a flag for ours that welcomes people to our campsite.

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We will be working on year number three this summer. We have four trips to state parks lined up and are looking for one more. What about you? Does your state have a rewards program? If so, tell us about it!

Fly Fishing At Montauk State Park

When most think of trout fishing they think of exciting places like Colorado, Montana, or maybe even Tennessee. I am pretty sure Missouri is one of the last places people would think of.  I am here to assure you, there is amazing trout fishing right here in the great state of Missouri.

Missouri State Parks operates three trout parks in the state: Roaring River  State ParkBennett Spring State Park, and Montauk State Park. This post is about our time at Montauk State Park.

Montauk State Park is located just outside of Licking, Missouri. From Kansas City, that is a 245 mile drive southeast, from Springfield it is a 110 miles east and slightly north, and from St. Louis it is 140 miles southwest.  The drive is longer than we would make for a two day weekend so we usually add a few vacation days and stay for at least three-four nights on trips to this park.

The park is a state park so camping fees are very reasonable (approx $25 per night). There were no full hookups so we camped in an electric only site. Missouri State Parks offer an online reservation system that allows you to see photos of each site. When we camp in an electric only site, we always try to select a site close to the water source in case we need to refill during our stay.

Setting up and settling in was relatively easy. We took a tour of the park and hiked around exploring the spring that feeds into the river. The Park stocks this river each night with trout. The fishermen like this river for fishing because they say there is more space to fish in, which means a less crowded fishing environment, and larger fish to catch.

The women judge the campgrounds by the campsite and the activities available to keep the young non-fishermen kids entertained while the Dad’s, brother, and papa spend hours each day fishing.

The Campground: 

I wish we had brought our bicycles. We opted not to bring them as we were visiting the Ozark Mountains and honestly felt we would be required to bike up and down hills all day long. On the contrary, the park is relatively flat.  At first inspection, it seemed that the shower rooms were really far from our campsite, but in actuality they were only a short walk away.

We lost all cell reception a mile or so before we reached the entrance to the park. We noticed there was wi-fi available in the park but we could not connect to it. We had no TV reception but that was not a big deal.  Our electric box kept blowing the circuit but a quick call to the camp office and someone came out and replaced it for us. (We learned later it was not just a maintenance man but actually the park superintendent!)  On Day 3 of vacation the superintendent came back to our site to fix the “broken wi-fi” which we had no idea was located between our two sites. As soon as he fixed it, we could once again interact with the outside world (still no cell service).

Our camp space was huge! The staff were nice host. They even came by and cleaned out our fire ring while we were visiting. My only complaint is that the trash dumpster was located right in our site and since the fish cleaning station was closed for repairs, there was a lot of fish parts going into the trash dumpster. Unfortunately, that made for some pretty foul smelling air. Our buddy, The Superintendent, did tell us that the dumpsters get emptied and washed out three times a week. That did help the later part of our stay but there was two days of unpleasantness to get through!

Camp Activities:

Each night of our stay the park had a scheduled event. One  of the events, a candle-lit bat tour, looked like a lot of fun to us. However, we never managed to make it there. I do wonder, are we the only people who lose track of time when camping?

Hiking: 

There are hiking trails at Montauk State Park. There was a short hike to the spring as well as a Lake Trail. Both of these hikes were easy and the short people in our party loved hiking them. We passed the hatchery, the lake, and we saw a variety of wildlife even during the short hikes.

We did convince the kids to hike the Pine Ridge Trail despite it having a rugged label.  The Pine Ridge Trail is listed as a 1.5 loop trail. I think our girls were finished before we even hit the 1/4 mile point. That is when the complaining started. By the time we were 1/2 of a mile into it, the girls’ complaints were getting more desperate:

Short Person #1: “Mom, I think there are ticks on my socks!”

Mom #1: “No, honey, those are not ticks, that is dirt. You are fine, let’s just keep going!”

Short Person #2: “Mom, there are ticks on my legs and they are crawling all over!”

Mom #2: “There are no ticks, you are fine, stop complaining!”

Big Brother #1: “Those are not ticks, you are sweating and it is tickling your legs.”

By the time we reached the 3/4 mile point, it was obvious to all of us adults that in fact we had walked through a nest of seed ticks and they were hungrily crawling up our bodies at a very fast pace! We could no longer brush the short chic’s (aka our daughters) complaints off as just whining!  We rushed through the hike as fast as possible, went straight to the showers to wash as many off of us as possible.

In case you have never seen seed ticks before, I found this photo online. Those might look like oil spots on the jeans but in fact they are seed ticks. It took us hours to remove all we could find. And if that were not enough of a vacation time commitment, it also required a trip into Licking the next morning to visit a laundry mat so we could wash all clothing (including our shoes) to really make sure we had eliminated them.

And as if this were not enough, I should also say that we not only were eaten alive by the seed ticks but we also encountered more than our share of spiders, spider webs, and apparently mosquito and chiggers. Our bodies were covered in bites and required weeks to recover from being the main course at the human buffet table.

Swimming: 

There is no swimming allowed at Montauk State Park. Or wading for any purpose other than fishing. Or canoeing. The sole purpose of the river at Montauk State Park is for trout fishing.

However, with that said, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is very near to the state park. A short drive outside the park will lead you to Tam Vat, or other areas on the river perfect for swimming. I should warn you, the water at Tam Vat is near to the spring and therefore it is cold. Very cold.  That of course, did not stop our short people from playing in the water.

Sight-Seeing:

My mother has a first cousin that lives in Licking, Missouri just a few miles from Montauk State Park. He invited us to go exploring with him and his family on our second day of vacation. We arrived early and the girls were able to assist in doing chores of their animals before we headed out of a day long trip.

The first part of our tour was a very personal one for me. The first place my second cousin took us to was my Great Grandparents grave sites. My mother has longed to re-visit this place as I think the last time she was not yet in kindergarten.  In addition to the cemetery, we also drove past their former property. Some of the land has been redeveloped into a shooting range, so maybe the landscape has been altered but I can say it is not at all what my four year old brain remembered.

After we chased my Mendenhall family roots, the cousins took us to Alley Spring and Alley Mill. The mill is a 100 year old grist mill near a natural spring that pumps out 81 million gallons of beautiful turquoise water a day.  The water feeds into Jack’s Fork River and Current Rivers.

The Mill is not functionable but many of the tools used to grind flour 100 years ago are still located inside the mill and are available not just for viewing purposes but we were able to open them and explore how they actually operated.  What is funny about Alley Spring is that as I am standing looking at the beauty of this bright red building surrounded by turquoise water, I got the largest sense of de ja vue. I knew I had never been there before so it took me a few moments to realize, I had seen this building before; on an old calendar hanging in my growing up home!

A nice hiking trail surrounds the spring and leads you along the river’s edge. The rocky bluff to the right of the river is full of small caves that our short people enjoyed poking their noses (as well as whole bodies into).

After Alley Spring, we headed to a public access area on the Jack’s Fork for a mid-day swim.  The water was perfect! Clear as you can imagine, crisp and cool but not cold and frigid! The short people had so much fun jumping off the log embedded in the river. We watched people cliff dive into a deep pool right across the river from where we were.  What a wonderful day to spend a summer day!

After our swim, we headed in another direction from Eminence, Missouri to visit Rocky Falls. Rocky Falls is a shut-in, a narrow passage way or a constriction in a waterway. Rocky Falls is on the Current River and has a steep cascading waterfall that empties into a deep pool of water. People from all over flock to the area to sit in the water, slide down the rocks and just enjoy this geological space.

The short people loved it! The mommies were very disappointed that we did not bring our swimsuits!  Instead we settled for cooling our toes, our feet, ankles, and maybe even calves in the water. If Rocky Falls had not been 2 plus hours away (one direction) from our campsite we might have returned to play another day!

Alley Spring, Rocky Falls, as well as Round Spring, Big Spring, Blue Spring, and Welch Spring are all located within minutes of Eminence, Missouri and are all part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. They are surrounded by National Park Services and have many campgrounds. This area is also part of the United States Bicycle Route System (Highway 76) so watch out for bicyclist as you visit this part of the state!

The Fishing:

Despite the fun we had exploring a part of the state we had never visited, the men folk never left the state park. They came all this way to fish and fish is what they did!

They got up early, they fished until the bell rang in the evening. They caught large fish. They caught small fish. They kept some fish. They threw back some others. Lines got tangled. Daily limits were met.

Other odd things happen when you least expect them to. The Husband ran into baseball friends of ours at the lodge one day. They were down to enjoy the canoeing on the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers and happen to come to the lodge for dinner one night. The Husband invited them to try trout fishing and they did. (Is it harder than it looks? I promise you should keep trying!)

We caught enough fish during our four days of fishing to host a fish fry on our last night. Threat of storm did not prevent us from enjoying the freshly caught trout.

To summarize, fathers taught sons a few lessons. Students might have out-fished their teachers.  Best friends shared more than a few frustrations and developed a deeper appreciate for how tough it is to get the fish with a little mouth to open up and bite the tiny fly. But as our time at Montauk State Park came to an end, everyone agreed that the any vacation that includes trout fishing is a good vacation!

5th Annual Family Camp-Out

It is almost time to start planning for our next family camp-out. This will be our fifth year of camping by the water and under the stairs. The date is set, and the activities are planned. The only question left is; will you be joining us?

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ITINERARY:

Friday, September 16, 2016 Arrive at the camp-out. Dinner is on your own. I would like to think we will have a fire going if that helps with your plans.

Saturday, September 17, 2016:  Breakfast is on your own. Camp-stove/Campfire will be available. Suggested Meal: Breakfast Burritos

Lunch: This is a camping tradition for us: Walking Tacos! I will be sending out a SignUp Genius later for this community meal..

Mid Day Fun: Inspired by the book, GO DOG Go by Dr. Seuss, we will be having a hat contest. Create a hat to wear around and see if you can come up with the wildest, craziest, most creative hat. Additional Saturday Fun will be announced later.

Evening: Another camp tradition: Hot Dog Buffet. Any way you want a hot dog will be available. This meal will also be included in our SignUp Genius.

Saturday Evening Entertainment: Back by popular demand will be a GLOW PARTY 2.0!  Get your outfits ready, it is time to glow! The black lights will be back as will the music. It is time to dance under the stars!

Sunday Morning: Camping Food at it’s best: Dutch Oven Breakfast Casserole. This one will also be included in the SignUp Genius.

Mid-Day: The Kansas City Chiefs have not released their 2016 Schedule yet but if there is a game on, many of us will stick around to watch it. We will have left overs or bring an appetizer to share as we watch the game outside under the oak trees.

RESERVATIONS:

Smithville Lake accepts online reservations. Reservations can be made six months in advance, so that means by March 16, 2016 you can book your spot at the Fifth Annual Family Camp-Out.  Remember, if you wait till the last moment, a stranger could take your spot, so reserve early. Our usual spots are sites 408-416 at Crow’s Creek Campground. These are electric sites but we are near water.

If you are tent camping, you are allowed to double up on an RV site. We can also put 2 tent campers together on their own site. Please leave us a comment and let us know what you need.

Set your alarms, get those reservations made. I hope to see you all there!

Developing a Relationship With Your Dealership

The dream of RV ownership often takes new buyers to the door step of a RV dealer.  As I mentioned last week, we have purchased four RV’s; two of those have been through dealers. An RV Owners relationship with a Dealer does not end at the purchase of the RV, thus making it a very important relationship for any RV Owner.
A point came in our RV ownership that we wanted to upgrade from a small pop-up to a larger one. I spent a lot of time researching on the intranet. We knew we liked the convenience of storing in our garage so I first focused on what our options were for that size. After we decided that, I started looking for available units. My search lead to a dealer in Davenport, Iowa. They had brand new pop-ups at unbelievable prices. We took a three-day weekend and drove up to the Quad Cities to purchase and brought home our new pop-up camper.
Since we had a lightweight, easy to tow unit, we began traveling the state with our new camper. On the way home from one of our longer trips (500 miles round trip) we encountered one of those weird things that you think could never happen to you. We were less than 10 miles from home, recounting our weekend, making plans to unpack when all of a sudden we felt the truck pull and I saw simultaneously a tire bouncing into the sky and sparks engulfing the pop-up. When we got pulled over and stopped it was apparent we had lost a tire, lost the step and we were not getting the camper home without a tow truck.
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Normally, you would have the camper towed to the dealership you purchased the camper from. This was not possible in our case because we our dealer was 5 1/2 hours away from home and additionally, there were no local authorized dealerships for the pop-up that we had purchased. I made a split second decision to have the camper towed to a nearby dealership, the same dealership that The Todd family used to purchase their camper. Can you imagine their surprise when they arrived for work on Monday morning to find a broken pop-up camper on their door step!
After evaluating the damage, the shop told us that we were going to need a new tire, wheel, stairs and other miscellaneous parts. On the surface it looked like the damage to our camper was caused by loose lug-nuts but the seasoned service men saw through that and noticed that our brand new lug-nuts sheered, likely from defective parts. Although this particular dealership didn’t handle the brand of RV we had, they called the dealership where we purchased the camper from, reached out to the manufacturer and after many phone calls and an appeal or two they got the entire repair covered under warranty.
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It took a couple of weeks for the manufacturer to send the parts and another week or so to for the shop to get the parts on to the camper. The whole ordeal took a little over a month. We did not even miss a single scheduled camping trip! That being said, we couldn’t have been happier with how the local shop went to bat for us and got the repairs cover under warranty. When we picked up the camper, one of the owners of the dealership showed us the work that was done and while he was getting us the paperwork, I made sure he knew how much we appreciated his shop manger working with the manufacturer to get the repairs done under warranty. I also told him that the next time we were in the market for a new camper, they had earned our business.  I mean if they work that hard for you when you didn’t even buy the camper from them, how hard will they work for you if you if you do?
Fast forward several months… The wife and I just stopped by the dealership to just “look around” and BAM! We found ourselves the proud owners of a brand new Keystone Bullet with two slides, a bunk house and an outdoor kitchen.
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Since then, we have returned to “our” dealership a few times: once to get our hitch adjusted, to buy tools to winterize, and once to get some minor repairs made to our new camper. Every time we go in, we feel more at home. The salesmen and the owner know us, maybe not by name, but they knew who we were and what camper we bought. It was really nice to be recognized and we loved being ask about how we like the new camper and where we have taken it camping and about future plans. Of course we love talking about camping nearly as much as we love camping!
Let me be very clear, not everything was roses with our purchase from the local dealership. We did have some issues that arose that did not settle with us. In fact, we were pretty annoyed a few times. However, they recognized the errors, they apologized, and made efforts to compensate us. In the end, our positive experiences have by far outweighed our unpleasant experience.
This past January, attempting to take the edge off of the cabin fever, we attended our local RV show with The Todd’s. After we got there we also ran into other friends we often group camp with. Of course our favorite dealership was there, their sales team exited to show off their latest models and shiny new campers. They made huge efforts to introduce us to the manufacturer representatives so that we could ask any questions we had about the new models, but they also wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to give them our opinions and feedback. Again, we left feeling as though we were valued customers.  The owner of the dealership also made sure our daughters were well taken care of by supplying them with snacks and water. I think he might have earned the business of a couple of future RV buyers!
We’ve purchased campers from private sellers, from a dealership that was located a long way away, and now from a local dealer.  A dealership is more than just the sales department, or finance department, or service center, or parts department. It is all of those things at once.  So, if your path to RV ownership leads you to the doorstep of an RV Dealership remember that you are embarking on a relationship that will last the life of the camper not just the duration of the sale. And just like any other relationship, there can be positives and challenges. Try and look at the totality of the entire relationship.  Over the past year, “our” local dealer (Liberty RV in Liberty, Missouri) has defiantly earned our trust and loyalty.
Wayne