On this week's show, we catch up with Michelle Fontaine at the Camp Taylor Campground in Columbia, New Jersey, where she meets up with Janine Pettit, founder of Girl Camper and learns all about this fast-growing organization.
Also we join Michelle on a tour of the Camp Taylor Campground along with an interesting visit to the adjoining Lakota Wolf Preserve.
Then we visit with Jon Krider, vice-president of product development at Thor Motor Coach and check out the all-new Tellaro Class B motorhome.
Later, we'll join Mark and Dawn Polk from "RV Education 101," our source for everything you need to know about RVs and RV-ing, and see what they have in store for us this week.
Girl Camper Organization
Hi, Michelle here from "Rollin' On TV" and we're staying at a campground called Camp Taylor in Columbia, New Jersey. We just bumped into someone we've been trying to bump into for a while, Janine Pettit. I messaged Janine yesterday and I said, "We're going to New Jersey to camp for our first night on our cross-country trip," and then what happened?
Janine: And then I said, "Well, how far away are you?" And you say, "Yeah, I'm 130 miles from Columbia, New Jersey." The Girl Campers are up here this weekend. We're having a gorgeous fall campout. Come on down. We'll make you feel at home.
Girl Camper is an organization that really helps women get out there. Our tag line is we-- "Going Places and Doing Things." But, now you're looking at all the girl camping groups out there, right? There's the Mitten Kittens and the Getaway Gals and all these groups and I thought, you know what, there's all these women and they're looking at other groups on Facebook and they're going, "This looks like so much fun but how do I get started?" I noticed that nobody was really educating women on safety with the RV.
I was observing and I saw all these women just buying vintage trailers, hitching 'em up, no idea what they weighed, no idea of their condition, not having them inspected, you know? So I thought, "I want women to do this but I want 'em to do it safely." So I started creating content that had to do with the safety of girl camping and then I started a weekly podcast, I just recorded episode 190 ranging in topics from what is gross vehicle weight rating and why is it important to how do I meet girls to go camping with? And just interviews with women who had the dream and did it. Just so inspiring to other women so we created Girl Camper as a means for people to find other people to camp with and to mainly to just be safe, create an educational component to the whole girl camping world.
Michelle: Last night around the campfire we met three ladies, three girl campers. One had a regular minivan and she said, "I was so inspired by Janine's podcasts. It's a matter of just go and do it in whatever you have." And another one has a truck with a tent set up, planning on an RV. It's--don't wait 'til you get the perfect vehicle. Just do it.
Janine: So I don't want people to have the impression that if you're gonna be a girl camper, you've gotta have some tricked-out vintage trailer with all the bells and whistles or some big class A motorhome. If you wanna be outdoors we want you to come and we don't want you to wait. So this woman with the minivan, you're talking about. Her name is Laureen and she had written me a letter. She said, "I'm raising kids. I don't have any money for a trailer. Can you suggest something?"
We always try to choose a campground in which there are cabins for rent. If there are no cabins, I say, "Do you have a minivan?" She said, "Yes." I said, "Well, throw all the seats out of it, put a twin bed in it and just come." There's no perfect timing. Just come. So her husband surprised her. He wanted her to do this so badly. She's just a great mom. She was also taking care of her mom with Alzheimer's. She needed respite time. And there is so much in the power of female friendships and just getting away for a weekend with the girls. Not being responsible for feeding people, just sitting around the campfire. And her husband, he got that. He surprised her and took her up to Cabelas, outfitted the whole inside of that minivan with a cot and bedding and a camp stove and a E-Z UP and she joined us and she camps with us five or six weekends a year now and it's just rejuvenating.
Michelle: Janine, I hear there's something new coming along with Girl Camper.
Janine: What I did is I took Girl Camper and we recreated Girl Camper chapters. So now we have the Girl Camper Front Range in Colorado and the Texas Girl Campers and the Ohio-West Virginia and New Jersey and Pennsylvania and Delmarva, Virginia, Florida. And these Girl Camper chapters are going to help mentor women in their area because we're educational and also they are the experts in tourism for their area. So if you decide, "I'm gonna go visit the Rocky Mountains," get on to Girl Camper Front Range, you can find out where to camp, where to rent things, where to get something repaired, all the information.
And all of our girls are creating their own content and their own stories, and they're picking up the slack because I can't be everywhere - girlcamper.com will be where all these places will be tied together. In addition to telling all about their area, they're also reviewing gear and talking about whatever kind of trailers they tow, all kinds of great RV information as well.
Michelle: What's next for you?
Janine: I am heading your way this year because everyone is always talking about Quartzsite, Quartzsite, Quartzsite. That's where the whole RV world goes in January and I'm going this year. My good friends over at Lance Truck Campers, are giving me a truck camper and I'm gonna tool around down there. Hopefully, I can twist your arm and you will go with me down to Quartzsite. I'm gonna take that Lance 650 on a Ford F-150 diesel and I'm gonna do Quartzsite and that whole area.
Lakota Wolf Preserve
Michelle: While staying at Camp Taylor, we learned that right up the hill, are you ready for this, is the Lakota Wolf Preserve. So, of course, we had to check it out.
Wolf Guide:This is our first pack of wolves. These are timber wolves. Timber wolves are anywhere from blond to a black color, lots of different color pelts. The females weigh about 80 to 90 pounds. A lot of us have dogs at home which are well over 100 pounds. Most people think of a wolf, they think of a big massive dog. They're a very skinny animal.
Wolves, in fact, are so afraid of humans, there's never been a case of a wolf attacking a human in the United States ever. It's all from folklore and fairytales.
(Watch the show to learn more and see these beautiful animals!)
Michelle: Camp Taylor is located in the beautiful mountains of Northwest New Jersey. It has 150 sites and 400 acres of pristine forest and within Camp Taylor is the privately owned Lakota Wolf Reserve.
Janine describes her favorite campground: Jean and Clayton Taylor own this campground. Clayton's father built this pond, like, 50 years ago. To me, this is the nature lover's campground. This is an old-fashioned campground where it's about camping. It's got a cute little store up there where you can get an ice-cream cone. There's no, like, bouncy pillows here and stuff, and we sit out here at night and you can hear the Lakota Wolf howling. It's just a beautiful natural campground. This is how I camped when I was a kid.
They have about 350 acres here. The hiking is fantastic here. You can get to the Appalachian Trail from this property. If you hike all the way up to the top, you can connect to the Appalachian Trail. Or you can get in your car and drive about 6 miles away to the big parking lot and pick up the trail there. So you could do a nice day hike on the Appalachian Trail but there's beautiful trails right here on this property. And it's a good hike.
They offer electric and water at some sites but no septic.We're right in the border here, the Delaware water gap, so we're right across the river is the Poconos and here we're in New Jersey and this is solid rock so it's very hard to build the septic here. So for most campgrounds in this area, you're not gonna get septic on your site.
You can go into Strasburg and do all the museums and antique shops and have a great lunch so there's a little bit of everything.
Michelle: As we were saying goodbye to owner Clayton Taylor, he gave us one more great tip: don't follow your GPS to get here.
Clayton Taylor: There's a very steep hill coming up this mountain. We do not recommend trailers coming that way. On our website and all of our camp directories, you come up Benton Road, Wishing Well Road, and Mount Pleasant. It's about 3 miles longer but the hill is not nearly as steep so make sure you don't follow your GPS; follow our direction.
Tellaro Class B Motorhome
I'm Jon Krider from Thor Motor Coach and we're sitting in the brand new Tellaro motorhome. We're really excited about this because it's a new entry into the B van market. Earlier this year we introduced the Sequence. The Tellaro is the follow-up project.
And the Tellaro has a few different features than what the Sequence has and I think the first thing that you'll look at when you look inside of this motorhome it's very bright, it's very cheery, whether you're looking at the cab seats, you're looking at the paneling that we use, whether you're looking at the flooring, the countertops, everything is very light and very bright.
And I think that's a huge advantage that Thor Motor Coach has because we have a female designer. She goes through and she looks at it and she looks up the trends in the market, but then she also goes back and she figures out how can she take those trends that come out of a large area and put 'em into a small area like a motorhome.
And then when you work your way back through the vehicle, you're gonna see lots of places for storage. So B vans inherently are small, but we try to make them as big as possible on the inside so you got lots of drawers, lots of cabinets, overhead, below the cabinets, and then, of course, you have a pretty unique bathroom situation where you have a mid bath. It's an all-in-one bath and from there you've got a nice timber door that covers up the entry in and out of it so you have privacy.
And then in the back of the vehicle you have more or less what is a king size bed. So you have a very large bed back there and the bed comes in more or less three pieces. There's three cushions so you can actually flip up the center cushion and now you've got storage so if you've got something big, like a kayak or fishing poles or oars for your canoe, you can put all that right down the center and you're taking it with you and then when you get to wherever you're camping, there you go, you just pop it out the back or you just take the bed, flip it down over the top of it and you can still keep all your belongings inside.
This vehicle is this is our first entry into a lithium battery system. We call it the reliable power system by Thor Motor Coach and we've partnered with a company called Master Volt, and Master Volt is really large into the industrial space and also the marine space. And we have 11,000 watts of electricity on this. Now, that's an option and this option gives you two batteries, it gives you a underhood alternator, it gives you an autostart for the engine. And it is gonna be the largest battery pack that there is out there in the market for the Pro Master chassis.
The reason we went with Master Volt is because they have more than 40,000 batteries currently in the market and so they've got a proven track record since 2008 of putting these kind of batteries out into the market that are made for vehicles. They're not made for in your house or storage areas that don't move. They're made for mobile environments.
Now, if we move to the outside, the outside's got a ton of features too. On top of this vehicle, we have a pop top. So Thor Industries purchased Erwin Hymer Group which is the big motorhome manufacturer in Germany and, obviously, they had some really great ideas for small motorhomes that they do overseas, and we were able to take some of those ideas and add it here to the Tellaro van.
So there is a queen size sleeping space that's up above the van, and above the van you can pop the top up when you get somewhere. It's tent material, it's got a fiberglass roof on the top and it's got little windows that zip down so if you're on the beach out in California or you're headed down to Florida and it's nice and cool in the spring, you can open it up and kind of enjoy the outdoors on the indoors.
We also use all Thule products on the outside so your awning, your roof ladder, your bike rack on the back, are Thule and, of course, that's a name brand that most people are gonna see if they've ever been to an REI store or ever gone, you know, camping out in the Northwest. Probably one of the last things is, is that this coach is completely multiplexed.
When we were coming up with the design, we thought it was a really good idea to make a central panel in this van where you control everything. So whether it's your HVAC, your lights, your awning, anything on this vehicle is controlled from a single panel which is also compatible with your cell phone so you can take the app and you can control everything in the vehicle from your cell phone from out in the campground or maybe even just down the beach a little bit further.
5 RV Storage Tips from RV Education 101
Hi, I'm Mark Polk with "RV Education 101." When temperatures drop, we winterize our RV so we won't have problems next spring but winterizing your RV is only part of preparing your RV for winter storage. Lots of folks don't think about it but proper RV storage procedures are just as important as winterizing the RV's plumbing system.
Here are my top five RV storage tips.
These RV storage tips do not cover everything you need to be concerned about when storing your RV but it's a good start. RV storage tip number one: when preparing the unit for storage, I always wash the exterior and clean the interior thoroughly. Make sure all awning fabric is clean and dry before stowing the awnings.
This is a good time to inspect all roof seams, body seams, and window sealant for any cracks or openings that would let water penetrate the surface. Water can get in the smallest opening so it's important that you really inspect all of the sealants. Consult your RV owner's manual or RV dealer for sealants compatible with any surfaces you are resealing.
RV storage tip number two: the best storage scenario is to store your RV indoors or under a covered area. But that's not always possible. If the RV is stored outside, avoid parking it under trees or in areas where grass and weeds will grow. The sun and other elements can damage your RV. The best investment you can make for an RV stored outside is a quality RV cover. The cover should be made of a breathable material to help promote air circulation and to prevent mold and mildew.
RV storage tip number three: inflate the tires to the manufacturer's recommended pressure. Place some type of blocking between the tires and the ground. Make sure the blocking is larger than the actual footprint of the tire to prevent damage to the tires. Cover the tires to protect them from the sun and harmful UV rays.
RV storage tip number four: inspect the underside of the unit thoroughly. Look for anywhere mice or other rodents can get inside and seal these areas using silicone or a spray foam product. You can use mouse and ant traps in and around the unit or use a product like Sniff 'n' Stop to prevent mice from nesting inside the RV.
Remove all consumables that would attract mice and other rodents and remove all perishables and anything that can freeze. Defrost the freezer compartment and clean the refrigerator. Place some baking soda inside to absorb odors and leave the refrigerator doors propped open.
RV storage tip number five: make sure the batteries are prepared for winter storage. Batteries self-discharge when in storage. A discharged or partially charged battery will freeze much faster than a fully charged battery. Check the batteries' state of charge every month and charge batteries that are at or below 12.5 volts for 12-volt batteries or 6.25 volts for 6-volt batteries. Check the electrolyte level in lead acid batteries and add distilled water as required. You can plug the RV in once a month for about eight hours to keep the coach batteries topped off or use a product like Battery Minder to keep batteries topped off.
In addition to these RV storage tips, if it's a motorized RV I recommend you fill the fuel tank prior to storage and add a fuel stabilizer, run the engine and the generator long enough to get the stabilizer through the entire fuel system. It's also a good idea to change the oil and oil filter on the engine and generator prior to storage. Acids accumulate in used oil and can corrode engine bearings.
I mentioned at the beginning of the video that these tips don't cover everything about storing your RV but if you winterize your RV and follow these simple storage tips, your RV will be ready for the upcoming camping season next spring.