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To protect your valuables when you’re away from your RV, any of several security measures—or a combination—can help without breaking the bank.
At Crossing Creeks RV Resort, you rest easy because the park has security, you know your neighbors, and they know you. But what about when you’re on the road?
Any of the following will enhance RV security:
The cost of an effective security system has dropped. It’s possible to get a motion detector that automatically alerts a monitoring service, police or you when it detects a break-in. The best systems, when they detect a break-in, place a cell call automatically.
The Tattletale, for instance, sits on a desktop or counter and is battery powered. It has a built-in motion detector and optional exterior detectors. Everything is wireless. It can be set to prevent false alarms from pets.
Price: $400, plus $21-$29 monthly for monitoring.
If someone approaches the RV, the infrared-detecting fixture senses the heat given off by the body and lights up. Intruders don’t want to be seen, and sometimes this is enough to discourage them. Installation and connection to the 12-volt electrical system is simple. Some models are battery-powered. Look for one that blinks to warn of a low battery.
It’s not hard to come up with a key that will open another RV: Manufacturers make only a few unique key cuts and tumblers. That makes locks on an RV more vulnerable than those on your home.
Much stronger than standard RV door latches are solenoid-operated deadbolts. They also are more difficult to override. Solenoid deadbolts need electrical power. Some are hard-wired with contacts on the door and doorframe. Others use batteries, which you would need to replace from the inside yearly. Solenoid locks open either with a keypad on the outside of the door, or by buttons on a pocket fob—perfect when your hands are full of groceries. You set the combination, so the chances that an intruder can steal the code are slight.
You must choose a model that will fit your door.
Sound corny? Don’t pooh-pooh it. A dog that is protective of its turf and barks at the sound of someone outside the RV actually is quite a deterrent.
He doesn’t have to be big and ferocious, but it helps if he sounds that way. A “Beware of Dog” sign doesn’t hurt. The downside: The interior must be cool enough so that the dog’s health isn’t threatened, and the time you’re away is limited by his bodily demands. Still, a dog is effective. You’ll have to train, feed and groom a dog, but he’ll repay you in companionship, in addition to guard duty.
Price: Variable; adopting cuts your purchase cost.
If you’re worried about your RV itself being stolen, try a wheel lock. A boot type lock prevents the wheel from turning and blocks access to the lug nuts, the same way a boot prevents movement of a parking ticket scofflaw’s vehicle. A hitch lock prevents hooking up to your hitch ball.
Columbus, GA, provides a wealth of history and touring opportunities for visitors, and though you might not expect it, excellent whitewater sports on the Chattahoochee River.
The city of about 190,000 lies across the river from Alabama in southwest Georgia. It’s an easy drive of about 3½ hours by Interstate 85 south, or by taking the scenic route over Georgia 515 West.
Columbus, named after the explorer, was a native American trading center, then an industrial center since before the Civil War. The war’s last significant battle, between armies commanded by Union Gen. James H. Wilson and Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, was fought in and near Columbus. Johnston’s army actually capitulated after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Union Gen. U.S. Grant. Among the wounded: chemist John S. Pemberton of Columbus, said to have developed the recipe for Coca-Cola as part of his recuperation.
Columbus is along the fall line, where mountains north and west of the city spill their river waters onto the plains that run from Columbus to the Atlantic Ocean.
Columbus is the home of the Army’s Fort Benning, which trains infantry. It’s only fitting that the city also contains the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, adjacent to the fort entrance. See likenesses of U.S. fighting men and women in uniforms of different eras. “The Final Hundred Yards” depicts infantry warfare from eight battles.
The National Civil War Naval Museum recounts a developmental time for maritime warfare. The Civil War advanced the steamship and introduced ironclads, which were armored ships designed to deflect cannon fire. Many civil war battles were fought in and around river ports, with naval activity launched from rivers, not the Atlantic Ocean. The museum contains remnants of ships rescued from the Columbus River, and re-creations of Union and Confederate ironclads. The Water Witch is a full-size replica of a Union side wheeler captured by the Confederates; it served both sides during the war.
The 15-mile Chattahoochee Riverwalk follows the river for much of its length through and adjacent to Columbus. Walk or bike the trail, from the city’s northern limits to the gate of Fort Benning and the National Infantry Museum on the south.
A National Recreation Trail, the Black Heritage Trail of Columbus is a walking tour that connects buildings and other places important to regional black history. The tour includes brick streets laid by slaves. The “Ma” Rainey House was the home of Gertrude Pridgett Rainey, an early-20th century recording artist and “Mother of the Blues.” Spencer High School, originally an all-black high school, was integrated in the 1970s, largely by children of Fort Benning families. Churches, libraries, cemeteries and two theaters also are on the tour. Walk, bike or skate the trail.
Columbia’s 2.5-mile whitewater rafting and kayaking course is the world’s longest urban stretch. If you dare, cross the Chattahoochee round trip between Georgia and Alabama, suspended on the Blue Heron Adventure/Whitewater Express zip line at speeds up to 40 mph.
Other Columbus sights: Columbus Museum, Columbus Botanical Garden, Coca Cola Science Center, Heritage Corner.
In an RV, tools often are best if 12-volt powered, since the power circuit of your RV is 12-volt.
Here are a few good ones.
A 12-volt vacuum is a major convenience. Small, lightweight vacs are ideal when storage is at a premium. If you live in your RV only a few weeks a year, you’ll probably use the 12-volt vac to keep things tidy. Rely on a bigger vacuum that works off 110-volt house current and is stored elsewhere for thorough seasonal cleanings.
You can go a couple of different ways: A dry vac, such as the Black & Decker BDH1200FAV, or in case of spills, a compact wet/dry vac, such as the Stanley Wet/Dry 1-gallon 12-Volt Vacuum.
Price: B&D, about $35; Stanley, about $40.
With the compressor, you can fill a compressed air tank or directly inflate a tire.
A compressor with a good compromise of capabilities, price and size is the Klutch 12-Volt High Volume Air Inflator 52509 from Northern Tool. It has a maximum 120 PSI capacity and 2.1 CFM airflow, both better than only slightly cheaper compressors. The cables with battery clips are 8 feet, and the coiled air hose extends to 16 feet, so you’ll be able to reach just about anywhere you have to. It can fill a tire on a full-size pickup in a minute, and it can run uninterrupted for 15 minutes. In its carrying case, it takes up about 1 cubic foot. Price: About $65.
If you lose something tiny in the camper at night — an earring, maybe — or you have an emergency outside the camper, a really bright light helps. The Brinkman QBeam 800-2380-W handheld spot is rated at 1 million candlepower. It uses two lithium-ion batteries, so it’s rechargeable, meaning it doesn’t have to be tethered. It can be used while plugged into a 110-volt or 12-volt circuit. The batteries can be recharged while in the unit or while removed.
The plastic casing is tough, and the lens is tempered glass to resist breaking. The light and parts, including charger and cords, store in a vinyl bag.
This is great if you have no refrigerator, or if your built-in refrigerator is too small. A 29-quart cooler can store two or three days of food to help keep you on the move without having to stop for restocking. Or it can hold 28 12-ounce cans; that’s a lot of beer and soda if the party ends up at your campsite. It cools to within 40 degrees of the ambient temperature.
The Koolatron Voyager Cooler doesn’t throw off a lot of heat. You can use the well-insulated fridge as a chest or as a vertical unit. The plastic casing cleans easily. It measures less than 18 inches square and weighs 13 pounds.
Price: About $120.
Some things to think about: If your product comes only with a cigarette lighter plug, or only with alligator clips for connection to a car battery, pick up the other type and an extension so you’re ready for any use. An air tank will fill a tire faster, plus it can be used with a compressed air hose to blow things clean, so add a tank if you don’t have one.
Maybe you travel as a family, and the kids are along, or maybe the grandkids are traveling to Crossing Creeks RV Resort to spend some time with you.
If they came down from the North, one of them is bound to say, “I miss snow. It’s winter. There ought to be snow.”
Hmm. Unless you travel out of state and hit a ski resort (there are none left in Georgia), that’s not likely to happen. And if you don’t ski, well ….
Go to Atlanta. Atlanta? For snow? Well, it’s not far from there.
It’s at Stone Mountain Park, about 16 miles east of the city.
The snow is made by machine, and it gets the job done. Many ski resorts on the edge of snow country make their own snow, especially in warm winters.
And what exactly do you do with manmade snow outside Atlanta?
Go snow tubing.
Kids love this.
The side of a hill — call it Snow Mountain, please — has lanes created in the snow, so it looks like a giant white sliding board. Starting at the top, tubers park themselves in the doughnut hole of their tubes. And off they go, down the hill — for run after run. A Snow Mountain session is two hours. You can get your own adult pass to go tubing, too. It’s a pretty gentle ride, so don’t be afraid. With the lanes separated, you won’t go bounding into other tubers, and they won’t crash into you. There are even family-sized tubes — rafts, really.
After sunset, the Snow Mountain tubing run turns into Galactic Snow Tubing. It’s along the lines of nighttime laser bowling, or spooky miniature golfing around Halloween — lights, but with snow rather than bowling lanes or putting greens. The colors on the white snow make for quite a show. Remix versions of Top 40 tunes play over the sound system, with the lights keeping time to the music.
You’ll need advance registration.
Your daily pass includes two hours of tubing, so reserve time at 4:30 or later to experience the Galactic light and sound show, which starts at 5:30.
When they’re not tubing, kids can just play in the SnowZone, building snowmen, getting on their back to make snow angels and just plain having fun. Snow Mountain runs Nov. 8 Feb. 25.
Make sure you dress the kids appropriately. If they don’t have snow pants, layer them and get them into something warm and dry as soon as you get back into the RV. Hats, gloves and boots are all good ideas, especially the gloves.
You can get a variety of passes, some including entertainment and/or a meal, if you plan to be there for the day. There’s also a daytime Christmas exhibit. Holiday packages are available for RVers and must include an arrival or departure date that falls within Dec. 2-3, 8-10 or 15-31, and Jan. 1-3. There’s also an early New Year’s Eve party for kids on Dec. 31 that ends before midnight.
Camping includes full- and partial hookup sites, tent sites, and stationary RV and yurt rentals. Multi-day packages for RVs are available, as are in/out privileges.
Price: $31.95 to $54.95 per person (daily). Holiday RV cost (2-night stay): $159 (includes 2 single-day park passes) to $262 (4 single-day park passes), plus $15 parking fee; additional passes @$25/person. Check for snow park availability. Camp open Christmas Day, but park closed.
It’s a good time to look at gift possibilities for the RVer. Only you know best what would work for the RVer in your life — after all, you’re probably an RVer too — but here are some ideas, from leading-edge tech items to classics.
If you enjoy a little wine after dinner outside your RV, and a proper wineglass is required every bit as much as your most comfortable jeans, here’s a place to securely set down your glass. The clip-on wineglass holder works on any chair with an arm no thicker than 1 inch.
One end is a spring clip that latches securely onto the arm. The other end has plastic fingers, allowing you to slip the wineglass stem between them. The glass won’t go anywhere, which is good, since you’ll have your feet up won’t be going anywhere, either. Price: $10
If somebody’s got to play outdoor chef — and enjoys doing it — a grilling set makes the job easier and more enjoyable. Wayfair.com has a good choice of sets, each with a compact storage case that makes RV storage easy. Some cases are hard and hinged, while others are soft and flexible. Typically you’ll find a basting brush, tongs, carving knife and fork, spatula and skewers. Some sets include steak knives, and sometimes forks, as well.
Price: $30 to $200.
You’re taking in a fabulous view, and you think If only I could get a little higher or closer to see better. A drone does both — virtually — and shoots video at the same time. The Mavic Pro’s 4K video has four times the pixels on your 1080p TV screen. Video is shake-free because the camera is steadied by a gimbal, a small version of what stabilizes Hollywood films. Stills are 12 megapixels, and Mavic takes hands-free selfies.
The 1.6-pound Mavic Pro is great for RVs because it stores small, with foldable arms and propellers. The remote controller folds to pocket size. You see live on your smartphone what the drone sees. It has a range of 4.3 miles, and it automatically returns safely if the battery runs low. Fly over 20 minutes at up to 40 mph.
Why recommend a book about America published 55 years ago by an author who’s since died? Well, because it documents a trip around the U.S. in a truck camper by a man and a poodle, Charley. For another, it’s by one of the country’s most celebrated writers. And it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. For all of you who write blogs about life on the road in your RV, and all of you who wish you could, here is the original, written half a century before the Internet.
The publisher admitted more than 50 years after publication that much of this writing is fiction, but it’s interesting to read this insightful writer’s observations of the changes in America — and the fears stirred by change. Many of the problems and fears are still with us.
Price: About $6 online for a paperback, or you can spring for a rare first edition, about $110.
Slideouts that enlarge an interior room on your motorhome or trailer are almost a requirement these days, but there’s another kind of slideout that makes RV living easier: a sliding cargo tray for an external storage space.
A sliding cargo tray is so convenient you’ll wonder why you went without one.
A storage tray pulls out on rollers and what looks like a pair of giant drawer glides. Once it’s fully extended, the pullout provides unimaginably easy access to whatever it’s holding. There is the tradeoff: Better access will cost you a little storage volume.
Sliding cargo trays come in different materials, sizes and strengths. They are sized for small cubbies, your RV’s largest external storage area, or cargo holds in between. With the variety of sizes, you can put a slider in half of your biggest storage area and leave the other part without one.
Put whatever you want on a slider, especially if it’s one of the heavy-duty models. The common-sense approach is to put frequently used articles on the slider, while leaving seldom-used items on a stationary surface. So, things like outdoor picnic tables and convenience tables, chairs and grills can go on the slider because they’re coming out almost as soon as you park and level off.
Sliders can ease maintenance. Battery arrays, your generator or an inverter can be placed on a slider, which makes troubleshooting a breeze. You may have to replace standard cables with longer examples so that they will not restrict the sliding action.
You can actually mount a gas grill and use the slider as a pullout cooking station. Think of the fold-down grills that are all the rage on new Class A and Class C motorhomes. Some have the grill only, others the grill and a flat work surface on one or both sides, and some a sink.
A grill mounted to a slider may not be as fancy, but it can be as functional. Metal sliders are the material of choice for grill-mounting. Full-width sliders allow space for cooking utensils, spices, sauces and plates in addition to the grill. You could also mount a small refrigerator/freezer next to your grill.
The nice thing is that you don’t have to lift the grill into place repeatedly; just mount it to the sliding tray once and pull it out for use, then slide it back after cleaning. Measure the height, mount a wooden table or box, then the grill to that surface. Without the need to lift your grill repeatedly, you just might be tempted to get a more elaborate grill that you once thought too impractical.
Small items are best placed in handled plastic tubs to keep them from scattering during travel. Just slide out the tray, lift out the tub and carry the contents to the spot where they’re needed. A good example is all of your cleaning products, including a rolled up hose and brushes.
You can buy sliders at RV dealers, or just slide over to your computer and order online. Expect to pay $250 to $750, depending on size and quality. If you’re handy, you can also buy materials and build one yourself. Find glides at the same sites that sell the finished products.
Nothing on your RV says “relaxation” more than your RV awning. You press a button to open it, take a seat in its shade, and probably — quite often — dine under it. And when you’re ready to hit the road, you just press a button again to retract it.
But even this relaxation station requires maintenance. Moving parts need lubrication periodically. And the fabric (usually woven vinyl) requires cleaning, removal of mildew, and application of a sealant/protectant — especially before long-term storage.
You’ll want to clean your awning first. Always check your owner’s manual to make sure you are using chemicals that won’t harm it. Mildew builds up on an awning after it gets wet, and sometimes when it’s rolled up. So it’s good to use a product that contains bleach or a mildew fighter. An alternative is a mixture of a ¼ cup bleach and ¼ cup dishwashing liquid in a 5 gallons of water.
Things you’ll need, all of which you can buy at a home center:
Now it’s time to lubricate. You’ll need two things:
That’s it. You are now ready for weeks — maybe months — of enjoying your awning before having to do this again.
Until your next major cleaning, use a sponge to spot-clean soiled areas, such as bird droppings. If the awning gets a lot of use, do intermittent cleanings with a non-bleach cleaner, such as Simple Green. It’s not as harsh on the fabric. This biodegradable, natural concentrate eats through grease effortlessly.
RVs are as much a part of football as the forward pass. And so is tailgating, with stadiums in Georgia no exception.
The nationwide sports website Bleacher Report actually ranks colleges for their tailgating appeal, and it rates the University of Georgia as the No. 6 football tailgate experience nationally. USA Today ranks the University of Florida-University of Georgia tailgate in particular as the fourth best. It’s nicknamed “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party.”
But don’t just drive to any football stadium assuming that RVs will be welcome, that RV space is unlimited, or that you’ll be able to tailgate outside your RV. You might get tackled for a loss.
It’s best to go online or call and check out several things before you go:
Here are some RV tailgating facts for major Georgia football sites:
UGA sells RV parking permits in advance for parking near Sanford Stadium. The cost is $125 per game. RV permits for half the games were sold out in August. Trailers are permitted. Tailgating is allowed after 7 a.m. on game day. Grilling with gas is permitted only if gas is in disposable containers of 17 ounces or less. No deep frying. Tables, grills, chairs and awnings may not extend into adjacent parking spaces and may not block traffic lanes.
RVs with a permit can enter RV parking areas for Bobby Dodd Field at 5 p.m. Friday before a Saturday game. They can stay until noon on Sunday. Here’s the catch: Permits are sold for an entire season only and already are sold out for this year. You can get on a waiting list by calling 888-849-4849. Georgia Tech offers online help to RV owners in finding nearby privately owned lots that will accommodate them.
RV parking permits in the Yellow Lot are $80 per game on a first-come first-served basis. There are no advance reservations to park RVs for the Falcons’ NFL games. The Yellow Lot is closer to the stadium than the Marshaling Yard, also $80. The lots open five hours before kickoff. Tailgating is permitted, but deep frying is not. Tailgate parties must wrap up within two hours of the last down. Tents up to 8x10 feet are permitted. Traffic lanes must remain open to a 14-foot width. Trailers are not permitted.
While colleges usually limit actual stadium permits for RVs, you can go online to find nearby parking lots that accept RVs for games. It’s not unusual for some privately owned lots near any major college to accept RVs and/or trailers. Some even reserve a certain number of spaces for home-team fans and a certain number for away-team fans who are visiting.
There are also RV parks and resorts near many football sites that rent camping spaces on game weekends. It’s not uncommon to see tailgating activities at these locations. An advantage of renting these spaces is that hookups are available, while they typically not at colleges. Sometimes shuttles to the stadium are available.
There don’t appear to be any regulations against trash talking, but a warning if you like to brag and your team ends up losing: You may be eating crow at your post-game tailgate.
The drive to Crossing Creeks RV Resort & Spa — or any number of places you and your family may travel in your RV — requires keeping your children or grandkids busy.
A movie will take up a big block of time, but you’re going to need more than that. Here are some kids travel ideas, some of which require very little to keep everybody happy, and some of which require just a little imagination. They get everybody to interact.
Well ahead of time, look at a map, your GPS or Web sites to find good places to stop along your route. You’ll need to stop anyway, for rest and food. Make some of those stops interesting places. A petting zoo, a public garden, a park or maybe a small museum would provide plenty to talk about. Before the trip, print out facts about the sites or the history behind them to spur discussion off and on the road.
This can take up loads of time, and it’s fun for everybody. Pick a person to start the story. For instance: “Once upon a time, a boy was born — with wings. He could fly high and far. Then he went to school, where he was the only boy with wings …” Then the next person has up to one minute to continue the tale — and the next, and the next — until it ends. Sometimes stories will continue for two or more rounds. You will do another story — guaranteed. Give each person a turn at starting a story.
Get karaoke discs online or at a store that sells CDs and take turns singing. Play the discs on a laptop and display the lyrics on your smart TV. A karaoke song sounds very much like the original pop song, but without the singer’s voice. It’s up to you and your kids to do the singing. The onscreen lyrics light up in time with the music. Just follow along and belt out a tune. Chances are your kids will know the songs already, but having the lyrics onscreen will inspire confidence. Add a microphone for even more fun. And don’t forget to clap or cheer for each performance!
(This is how karaoke lyrics will look on your TV, helping everyone sing along as the words light up in time with the music. You can buy discs with kids songs, pop and country hits, and songs of faith.)
This is a fun way to get your kids to actually look out the windows while traveling. Look up places along your route and download photos of landmarks from Web sites. Print the pictures out, put them in folders, and give a folder containing all the landmarks to each of the kids. Don’t pick too many sites, and make sure they’re all in just a part of the route, so discoveries don’t take too long. The first person to spot a landmark gives the photo to Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa — whoever is not driving. Place each photo of a discovery in a notebook or folder and mark down who saw it first. Give a quarter for each landmark found, or maybe a dollar to the winner. Talk about each landmark and the history behind it as it is discovered.
Turn your kids into discoverers. Print out Internet photos of historic places along your route, such as the Cotton Exchange Building in Augusta, to make rest stops interesting. Whoever “discovers” the building wins the point. (Wikipedia)
Before you know it, you’ll be saying, “We’re here!”
If you’ll be at Crossing Creeks RV Resort & Spa the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 21, you’re in for some spectacular entertainment — a rare total solar eclipse.
Just about anyone in the United States will be able to see at least a partial eclipse if there’s no cloud cover. But only people in a 70-mile-wide swath from Oregon to South Carolina will be able to see the eclipse in its totality. Blairsville, Ga., home of Crossing Creeks, lies within that path.
The eclipse, from partial through full and then again through partial stages, will last up to 3 hours. It will begin about 1:07 p.m. It will reach totality about 2:37 p.m., making it look as if nightfall has arrived. You may not want to miss it: A total solar eclipse won’t be visible again in northern Georgia until 2078.
But be careful how you view the eclipse. I found information on safe viewing from the people who know a thing or two about heavenly bodies: NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA says it’s safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye only in its total stage. The total eclipse — when the sun appears to be a black sphere surrounded by a bright aura — will last a mere 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Looking directly at the stages before and after the total stage can injure your eyes.
NASA recommends using eclipse safety glasses. These solar filters, held together by cardboard frames, are sold online and in discount stores for $4 to $5. Eclipse glasses meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard. The American Astronomical Society, part of the National Science Foundation, says the following manufacturers make certified eclipse safety glasses: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.
Make sure the glasses have no scratches or holes. Put them on before glancing at the sun, NASA suggests. Look away from the sun before removing them.
Warning: Normal sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe for viewing the eclipse. Even dark ski goggles are not safe. And NASA warns not to look directly though a camera or telescope unless equipped with properly fitting solar filters.
Here are two ways to watch indirectly:
You don’t need to climb up on your RV to see this show. There are air conditioning units, luggage racks and solar panels up there, and it’s a long, dangerous way down if you fall. You’re safer on the ground, unless your RV is set up to handle rooftop sitting.
Enjoy the show!