This week, Jeff Johnston takes us to the Washington tri-cities, an interesting RV destination.
Next, we join Michelle and Laurie from Two Gals and a Boston Brood as they get their new Winegard ConnecT 2.0 WiFi extender installed on their Lance trailer.
Then we'll join Joe and Kait Russo from We're the Russos as they take us to Yellowstone National Park in the new Storyteller Overland camper van.
Later, we'll catch up with Mark and Dawn Polk from RV Education 101 and see what they have in store for us this week.
Washington Tri-Cities; Kennewick, Pasco and Richland
Jeff Johnston: There's literally no end to the fun places you can find to explore while you RV around this country of ours. Today's quick stop is Washington's Tri Cities, Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland.
This area abounds in outdoor activities, history, and interesting things to see and do.
For example, there's this big guy, the lighthouse on the river. The lighthouse is fairly new, built in 2010 as part of the Clover Island redevelopment, and a functional lighthouse to aid in marine navigation. It's a good place to start your Tri Cities exploration.
The convention and visitor bureau is, of course, the best place to gather information on local attractions.
Michael Novakovich: The Tri Cities is a wonderful place for RVers to come and visit, particularly if you're into outdoor adventures. We're sitting at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers. The Yakima river comes into the Columbia here, so our waterways are rich.
We have 23 miles worth of paved trail that goes around our community along the Columbia river, it's called the Sacagawea Heritage Trail. Whether you're a runner, a walker, you like to ride bicycles, it's perfect. Great banks for fishing.
If you want to get out in the river, you can rent paddleboards here and kayaks, a good opportunity there, jetskis as well.
We have a number of different RV spaces, KOAs for instance. We have state parks down along the Snake river.
There's multiple places to park down there, camp, and fire up a grill and enjoy it.
And then here within the Tri Cities proper, we have some campgrounds with great amenities, everything from swimming, to general stores, to playgrounds, to nicely landscaped areas. So, I think there's probably a little bit of something in there for everyone to enjoy from the RV lens.
Jeff: All around this part of the country, you see boulders like this strewn all over the landscape looking like they don't belong there. They're just sticking up out of the middle of nowhere. In fact, they're visitors.
Back when the last glaciers covered this area and the last floods were shaping the basins up here, these guys came down with the glacier or the floods, hung around a little while. The glaciers went away, the floods disappeared, and these were deposited, and they're called erratics. This one, for example, is made out of granite, which is definitely not one of the local stones. He's probably came from, oh, somewhere up in Montana, I suppose.
This is just one of the interesting features that you can learn about here at the Reach Museum in Kennewick, Washington. Natural history, Native American, and industrial history are all specialties here at the Reach Museum.
The Reach Museum has been open five years now. It really tells the stories of the Mid-Columbia Basin. And all the stories that we tell here are tied together by the Columbia river itself.
Hanford history is a big part of the story of the Tri Cities area starting with World War II, but going all the way up through the present as we talk about the Cold War and also the cleanup efforts at Hanford since the Cold War has ended.
And then just the story of the Hanford Reach, the longest stretch of the Columbia river that's undammed, stretching from McNary Dam to Priest Rapids Dam, nearly 60 river miles. And the efforts that have been--that have gone on to help preserve that as a national monument.
The hickory smoke porter is one of a handful they have on draught at any given time. Mmm, for fans of dark beer, this one will hit the spot.
So, if you're in the Tri Cities area and you're down by the Reach Museum and you got a bit of a thirst or you're hungry for something to eat, stop in Kimo's Restaurant and Sports Bar and Rattlesnake Mountain Brewing. Good stuff.
Jeff: When you're ready to hunker down, there are top notch campgrounds in the area, including Columbia Sun RV Resort.
Dave Schlotfeldt: Welcome to Columbia Sun RV Resort. We're 145 sites on 25 acres. We have full hookups. We have 20, 30, and 50 amp at each site, water, sewer. Seventy-five sites are pull-through. We have large sites, very easy access for any rig, both large and small.
We have an outdoor pool and spa, heated. We've got an event center, adult fitness, and kids playroom. We also have an outdoor sports court and kids playground equipment. On the holidays like Memorial Day and Fourth of July and Labor Day, we do barbecues for all of our guests. Columbia Sun has something for every RVer here in the Tri Cities, both large and small.
Winegard ConnecT 2.0 Installation
Michelle Fontaine: Laurie and I are here at Major's RV in Bourne, Massachusetts to have our Winegard ConnecT 2.0 installed on our Lance trailer.
Major's RV was started by David's father 45 years ago. The unique thing about Major's RV is they don't sell RVs. They specialize in service, and they do it quickly and correctly. And they were also highly recommended by Winegard.
What happens when you put a couple of gals in an RV parts store? Hmm, they go shopping.
Now it's time to get our product installed. We're not great do-it-yourselfers yet. We're getting there, we're trying, but this particular installation involves a roof and holes.
David Majors: And holes on the roof, yep. So, we're going to be doing the installation today for Michelle. And what we're going to do is install a Winegard 2.0 so we can have improved Wi-Fi and cellular reception.
We're going to be mounting up on the roof, so we're going to have holes through. We're going to show you how to get that sealed properly. It is all low voltage, 12 volt, so it's nice and safe.
This is the unit that's going to go up on the roof. So, I'm going to go up on the roof right now and place it in a nice, flat position that we've already scoped out so there's no wires underneath. And we've located where we're going to come through our roof to the inside for our 12 volt switch and pick up our 12 volt power.
Next, I'll show Michelle how to operate the Winegard 2.0 and see if we can get us hooked up into our local Wi-Fi that we have here in the building? So, first thing we're going to do is we're going to download the Winegard Connect app, either for your iPhone or for your Samsung device. So, now we're just going to turn on our Winegard 2.0, with the brand new switch Al installed for us.
Now we've turned on the Winegard, and it's going to take it just about a minute for it to initialize itself and start broadcasting its signal. And this device will show up now on the Winegard Connect app. This down below now is setting which is showing the different networks. Okay, so rear building, we have 98%.
When you get to Bay View pick that scan for Wi-Fi. Then you're going to pick up the Bay View campground wi-fi. It's going to pop up and you're going to choose it, and it's going to ask you for their password. Then if anyone else wants to hook into your device, they don't download the Winegard app. All they do is open up their device and search for Wi-Fis. They're going to see your network and they're going to log into that if they have the password.
Yellowstone National Park with 'We're the Russos'
Joe Russo: Our journey to Yellowstone National Park started at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, where I grabbed a cup of chuckwagon coffee with some biscuits and beans. That's some strong stuff.
There are five museums at the center, including the Cody Firearms Museum and a natural history museum, which explains all of the wildlife found in Yellowstone National Park. Buffalo Bill Center is awesome.
As with any good RV roadtrip, we spend a night at the local Wal-Mart. I think this has to be the nicest Wal-Mart we've spent the night at. The view is absolutely gorgeous.
We drove the scenic byway to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park, and pulled over to admire the elusive moose. That was awesome, first moose sighting ever. After taking our photo at the park sign, we stopped at the northeast entrance to pick up a hiking guide and get a few tips on wildlife viewing spots.
Trout Lake is an easy one-mile trail with breathtaking views of Yellowstone and the wildlife that live in this area. I feel like I keep saying everything is absolutely gorgeous. I don't know a better way to describe it, it's just--Wow.
Although we didn't get to go on the trail, we enjoyed exploring the Mammoth Hot Springs and taking a stroll on the boardwalk, where we saw one of the resident snakes and an elk running through the area. On the drive to Tower Junction, I decided to stop at a pull-out and make myself a cup of coffee. Making coffee and watching the bears.
With no availability at any of the campgrounds inside the park, we drove back out to the national forest, where we found a free camping spot with an awesome view. As much as we enjoy dispersed camping in a national forest, making the roundtrip drive meant less time inside the park. Kait and I decided to wake up early and drive into the park to see if we could snag a first come, first serve spot at Norris Campground. Well, there were two RV sites left, and we got one of them.
I feel like we got more of a tent site than an RV site, but as long as we have a place to park, I don't care. After scoping out our $20 camping spot, we headed to Norris Geyser Basin to see the different geysers and springs in the area. We can now saw we've seen the largest geyser in the world. We just haven't seen it go to its full eruption.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the grand canyon of Yellowstone and trails along the rim drive before calling it a night.
So, it is day four, and today we're going to pick up a couple of the things we missed yesterday: the Grand Prismatic Springs and Old Faithful. The Grand Prismatic Springs is the largest natural hot springs in the US, and one of the most iconic springs at Yellowstone National Park.
Joe: After watching the Old Faithful eruption, we checked out one of our favorite geysers in the area, the Beehive. It's been an amazing few days at Yellowstone National Park, but it is time for us to get back on the road.
We want to thank Storyteller Overland for letting us borrow their prototype mode 4x4.
RV Cooling Tips from RV Education 101
Hi, I'm Mark Polk with RV Education 101. It's fun to get outside and enjoy all the summer activities, but when your fun in the sun is over, you want your RV to be an oasis to keep you cool. Here is my list of five inexpensive products to help keep you cool when you are camping this summer.
Number one, small portable fans. We take several small fans with us on hot weather RV trips. They can be used anywhere in the RV, and they do a great job circulating the air and keeping you cool.
Number two, patio awning shade. If you don't have a patio awning shade, you don't know what you are missing. A patio awning shade provides extra shade and privacy at your campsite. To get the right length awning shade for your RV, just measure the roller tube on your patio awning. The awning shade slides into the utility groove of the awning roller tube, and it can be set up or taken down within a few minutes. This is one of my favorite RV accessories.
Number three, LED lightbulbs. Incandescent light bulbs get extremely hot. If you use several lights in the RV on a hot summer night, it adds that much more heat inside the RV. LED lightbulbs don't create the heat other bulbs do, and they use less energy too. It's easy to upgrade your RV lighting to LED bulbs. Just match the base of the existing incandescent bulb with the new replacement LED bulbs, or search for replacement bulbs by number. Installation is the same as the incandescent bulbs. Less heat, less energy, and brighter lights, a win-win for RV owners.
Number four, reflective insulation. If you don't have window awnings to help block the hot sun from entering the RV windows, products like Reflectix can help beat the heat. This type of reflective insulation can be purchased at home improvement stores in various sizes for a reasonable price. The concept is to use the product to reflect the sun and heat away from the RV, hence keeping the interior cooler.
If you have windows in the RV that let the hot outside temperatures inside the RV, just cut a piece of reflective insulation to fit the window. You can use window visors, mini blinds, or day/night shades to help secure it in place against a windshield or windows. Depending on the product you use, this inexpensive DIY fix can reflect up to 97% of radiant energy away from the RV windows.
Number five, ventilation. Proper ventilation helps prevent excess heat in your RV. You can install vent covers over the existing roof vents to help increase ventilation in the RV. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and they let the fresh
air in even when it's raining.
A few more tips for staying cool that won't cost anything are to reserve or request a shady campsite, try to avoid opening the entry door as much as possible, cook outside rather than inside, and if all else fails, head to the campground