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It’s winter! It’s show time!

Tuesday, January 31 2023

I’m convinced there are two types of winter RVers. Those who, like Canada geese, make a beeline south as soon as the first frost hits. Then there’s the second type…who, in the middle of January, all wish they were the first type.

If you weren’t lucky enough to escape to the land of warm sun and cold beverages this year, I have two words of advice: RV Shows. It’s no coincidence that RV dealers haul their Class A’s into convention centers in the middle of winter. People want an escape from the cold and gray. RV shows provide that. And if you plan your visit just right, they provide a lot more too.

Here are some tips to get the most out of your show experience:

  1. Go with a plan. And a budget. – It’s fun to dream big, especially when you’re surrounded by the latest in luxury motorhomes. But know what you want and what you can afford. It will make your search more focused and rewarding.
  2. Ask questions. Lots of questions. – The best RV dealers know their stuff and aim to please. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything related to the purchasing, owning and maintaining of your rig. The only bad question is the one you don’t ask.
  3. Bring the fam – If you’ll be traveling with more than just the two of you, bring the kids and grandkids along. Make sure the space and amenities match your lifestyle wants and needs.
  4. Take photos – There’s a lot to see at a show…so much so, it can be hard to take it all in. So take pictures. Plenty of pictures. Decisions are easier to make later on when you have photos you can reference.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes – You’re going to do a lot of walking and stair climbing. Wear shoes that are up to the job.
  6. Relax. Have fun. – If nothing else, an RV show is a great reason to get out of the house on a cold, winter’s day. Enjoy your time exploring. Don’t feel pushed or pressured. Hey, it’s called a “recreation” vehicle for a reason.

If you’re headed to a show, tell ‘em Bob sent ya.

Best,

Bob

Twas the Night Before Christmas…in the RV Park

Monday, December 19 2022

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the park.
Colored lights were a’ twinklin’
To brighten the dark.

They hung on the canopy
And round our RV.
It all looked so festive,
As the neighbors could see.

Our kids were up north
While we snowbirded here.
With welcome warm temps
And skies, blue and clear.

We’d finished our round
And stored clubs away.
Had dinner with friends
We’d call it a day.

Momma in her hoody
And me in my jams
Had settled ourselves
For a new Netflix program.

When all of a sudden
We heard a great “wump”.
It was not quite a bang
Yet not quite a bump.

I jumped to the window
Pulled up the blinds
And quickly concluded
I’m losing my mind.

For there in site 12
In a shiny Class A
Was Santa himself.
But where was his sleigh?

His 30 foot rig
Was painted in cherry
With trim made of holly
It was certainly merry.

Santa had no red suit
His shirt was Hawaiian
He wore shades that were cool
Without even tryin’

His laugh was still hearty
And his big sack was stuffed
With goodies and gifts
So all got enough.

He left each a present
Without a sound or a jingle
Then boarded his rig
That merry Kris Kringle.

And quicker than lightning
He took to the sky.
Who would have thought,
A Winnebago could fly?

I heard him exclaim
quite loud and quite long
Happy Camping to all!
And stay Stromberg Strong!

Home is where our heart is…

Wednesday, November 30 2022

Thanksgiving is over. The cheerful house guests have all gone home. The last leftover turkey sandwich has been consumed (the stuffing and mashies were gone by Friday.) Home is quiet again. Which gives me a little time to relax and reflect on Thanksgiving and the holidays in general.

I have so much to be thankful for. A warm, loving family. Great friends to share a smile, story, or complaint with when needed. Not to mention the amazing places and people we’ve been able to visit throughout our many years on the road. There are too many blessings to count.

I guess what I’m really thankful for are all the memories that come flooding back to me when I have some downtime. I think back to when the kids were little and we’d spend long weekends at our favorite Northern Michigan park…convenient, close to home, and it still felt like getting away from it all. I also think about being first-time “empty nesters” when we could finally take those big, bucket-list trips. Now with grand kids, we love sharing the great outdoors with a whole new generation of RVers. It’s a full circle kind of thing that makes the whole family feel connected and complete.

So, yes, I love the traveling lifestyle. But for all the miles and special moments, there’s something to be said for being at home. The environment is comfortable and familiar. The days are thankfully predictable. And I can quickly take the tarp off the rig when the adventure bug bites.

I hope your holiday season gives you plenty to be thankful for…wherever you’re headed.

Enjoy!

Bob

Ready for a grand fall finale?

Wednesday, October 26 2022

I think October might be my favorite month. The temps get comfortable. The bugs die down. And nature puts on the most amazing show. As I watch the geese overhead depart for warmer climates, it reminds me that I need to get my act in gear. I need to get in that last, long weekend trip before the flakes fly.

If you’re like me, you probably do all your big, bucket-list trips over the summer. But come fall, I like to keep things simple. Convenience is the name of the game. Camping close to home (within three hours for me) means I get to spend more time camping and less time driving.

But fall camping requires some smart planning. Fall is fickle. It can be 70 degrees one day (or hour!) and 30 the next. I bring clothes for layering. I pack extra blankets too. The weather doesn’t affect just me either; my rig is impacted too. Cooler temps can mean lower tire pressure. I check the tires regularly to ensure top-end performance and safety. I also keep an eye on our heating system. Before I even pull out of the driveway, I check hoses. Mice love chewing these and I don’t want any surprises, especially on a chilly morning in some remote location.

Chilly nights can also affect your water system. If the temps are going to be near freezing, I open our cabinets to allow heat to reach the pipes. I also pack some RV antifreeze. I even add a small amount to the black and gray tanks to prevent problems. I also bring an electric space heater…better safe than sorry, right?

Lastly, as we’re prepping to go home, I pull out a broom and sweep off our slide outs. It’s amazing how many leaves and pine needles can pile up here in just a couple days. This little exercise ensures that nature stays where it belongs…on the ground, not on our carpet.

If you’re headed out soon for your “grand fall finale”, I wish you all the best. Stay safe, warm and take in all the beauty that our great outdoors provides.

Enjoy!

Bob

It’s Tailgating Time!

Tuesday, September 27 2022

I grew up in a football family that also owned an RV business. This meant fall weekends were often spent surrounded by other diehard fans and RVers, cooking brats, cracking jokes and making predictions about the upcoming game. Tailgating was a weekend tradition.

Even today, the cool fall air and heated team rivalries get me fired up for some pre-game excitement. I never was much for face painting and donning all the logo wear, but I still had plenty of team spirit and could scream and cheer with the best of ‘em. The Michigan State Spartans are my team. I still remember weekends outside Spartan Stadium, the crisp fall air, the red and yellow leaves waving like banners in the breeze. And frenzied friends having far too much fun. The memories have never left me.

Today, weekends tend to be more tame. Yard/house work and everyday errands tend to take up my time. I still follow the Spartans. But it’s been more years than I care to count since I tailgated in East Lansing. My RV adventures now are usually reserved for family get-togethers, enjoying the kind of peace and quiet that only nature can provide. This suits me just fine. Although, it wouldn’t take much persuading to get me to join Spartan Nation for a tailgating trip down Memory Lane. Now if someone would just invite me….

Shameless Plug…a tailgating must!

If you are tailgating this season, give our new Base Pad Shoes a try. They slip on to your jack pad, just like a shoe, to shore up your RV’s foundation. You won’t tear up the grass or ground where you’re tailgating…the property owner will be really happy! What’s more, no more storing pads with dirt and mud caked on them. Lastly, they’re quality made with molded rubber, instead of crumb rubber that’s just glued together. Our Base Pad Shoes will last long after the season is over.

If you’re heading out this weekend to cheer your team on, enjoy!

Go Sparty!

Bob

Back to school means back on the road…

Wednesday, August 31 2022

As a kid, I always had mixed feelings about this time of year. On one hand, I looked forward to seeing all my buddies again at school. The newness of the new school year always thrilled me. On the other hand, I would miss the pure freedom of summer. The long, sunny days filled with excitement and very little expectation from the adults. My time was mostly my own.

Today, things are different. When September is staring me down, I look outside. To the open road…and I’m ready to go. The heat of summer is starting to cool. The crazy traffic is slowing down. And the parks, near and far, have more spaces for me and mine to stretch out in the great wide open.

For me, you just can’t beat that last trip before September and fall is in full swing. Here are some spots that are close enough to be convenient (for me, anyway) yet far enough away to feed my “adventure bug”.

• Porcupine Mountains (Michigan) – The Porkies are a magical place. Located in the far western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the area is a nature lover’s paradise. This quiet corner of the state has it all—cascading waterfalls, towering pines, breathtaking views of big water and miles of scenic hiking trails. Plan a four-day weekend and bring your binoculars and a comfortable pair of hiking shoes. Or if you prefer, a good load of firewood and a great book. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

https://rvshare.com/state-parks/michigan/porcupine-mountains-wilderness-state-park

• Wayne National Forest (Ohio) – Located 50 minutes southeast of Columbus, Wayne National Forest feels much further away than that. Covering almost 250,000 acres, the area is a patchwork of rolling hills, open meadows and accessible forests. The area has 130 fishable ponds and lakes, so pack your rods and tackle box. The woods are laced with miles of trails too, so bring those mountain bikes. The major hubs of Ohio are all within an hour or so driving distance, so big city excitement is always an option too.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/wayne/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=6203&actid=31

• Sault St. Marie (Ontario) – It’s not often I need my passport to go camping, but it’s well worth the little extra security check to head north of the border. The Soo offers a number of camping options, so you have your choice. Several places are right on the big water; perfect for long beach strolls or even charter boat fishing. Other campgrounds are tucked into the woods, letting you enjoy some much-earned peace and quiet. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, there are a couple parks right near the casino. Make your plans early and enjoy the Soo for all it’s worth.

https://campgrounds.rvlife.com/regions/ontario/sault-ste-marie

I hope you find some time to get away before the leaves (or, gulp, the snow) starts to fall. If you do, share your stories with us on Facebook.

Enjoy!

Bob

My Summer To Do List (Camping Version)

Friday, July 29 2022

I live in the Cherry Capital of the World (Traverse City, MI). Every year, we have the National Cherry Festival (of course). The festival helps balloon our local population from about 15,000 people to 250,000. It’s a crazy, busy summer, to say the least.

The festival splits our summer in half. As I’m kicking back, watching the Blue Angels perform their impossible aeronautics, I perform a mental inventory of everything I’ve done and plan to do over the summer. In order words, I ask myself those big camping questions that will haunt me in February:

  • How about a Family Reunion?
    Does anyone else host their family reunion at an RV park? We sure do. It’s the best and most inexpensive addition I never built.  Well, okay, I did add a 50 amp plug and a 4” PVC to my septic tank with the reunion in mind, but that’s a small investment for one of the best and biggest highlights of the summer.
  • Did we get above “The Bridge”?
    No summer is complete without a trip to “Yooper Land” (The Upper Peninsula, for you out-of-towners.) My blood pressure drops every time I head north across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge. The Keweenaw Peninsula, at the northern tip of the U.P., is a hands-down favorite. The deep forests and big-water views rival Maine’s coast. McClain State Park is a great home base for exploring the area’s deep history and amazing scenery. Highlights include The Quincy Mine, Copper Harbor and Calumet (almost the capital of Michigan). https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=423&type=SPRK
  • …what about Duluth?
    A trip to see my grandson in Duluth, or anywhere in between, usually caps off our travel season.  Hey, it’s all about family, right? We usually hunker down in Duluth and take daily trips, like hiking Gooseberry Falls State Park and stopping at Betty’s Pies in nearby Two Harbors for a slice (or more) of their heavenly fruit and custard pies. https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/park.html?id=spk00172#homepage

That’s my summer to-do list. If I can’t hit all these highlights, it’s just another excuse to get out there next year. Whatever is on your summer agenda, I hope it’s a safe and happy camping season. Hey, hit us up on Facebook and share your stories…we’d love to hear them!

Enjoy!

Bob

Tis the season…for family!

Thursday, June 23 2022

Summer is a crazy time of year. Especially here in the north. The season is so full of promise and possibility…we want to experience it all. The beach. The barbecue. The long walks in nature. The stories and laughter shared around a crackling campfire. We don’t want to miss a thing.

For me, summer isn’t so much about what I do or where I go—it’s all about who I’m with. It’s about family. This time of year, I really feel the tug of family ties. I need to see the kids. I need to spend time with them…time unfiltered by cell phones, schedules and the worry of the work day. Time we specifically set aside to regroup, reconnect and really experience what we love with the people we love.

This feeling was driven home to me this past week as I passed by our local state park. The aroma of lingering campfires hung in the air. For just a moment, the sweet smell filled my car and quickly conjured up memories. A first fish held proudly for all to see. Small hands holding a sticky marshmallow. Sleepy smiles on little faces.

Wherever you go this summer, I hope it leads you to great moments and memories with your family. Make time to make it special, with the special people in your life.

Happy Camping!

Close to home. Close to perfect…

Tuesday, May 24 2022

It’s May in the north. A time of year we celebrate the retreating snows and fast approaching camping season. I’m usually as excited as a 5th grader, counting down to summer vacation. But it feels different this year. Gas prices are up…way up. COVID keeps hanging around. It feels like another year that we’ll have to put that dream trip to Bannf on the back burner.

But then I pause…let’s think this through.  Sure, we’ve had to put a lot of plans on the shelf these past two years. My family definitely has. But when we look around us, there’s plenty to be thankful for…family, health, community. Not to mention, the beauty that beckons just outside our back door. So why not do a “Stay Close-cation”?

No matter where you live—rural Maine or urban L.A.—chances are there’s a state or national park within easy driving distance of your home. In fact, there are over 400 national parks and over 6,600 state parks within the U.S. (yes, I Googled it.)

Many of our fondest family memories were made just a stone’s throw from our driveway. A familiar place where the air was clean, the trees were tall, and the stars danced above the roaring campfire. We never felt like we were missing out. And knowing we were so close to home was an added bonus.

So this year, instead of waiting for things to “normalize”, make your own new normal. Hop online. Check out what local parks are to be had. Book now! And get excited about planning your adventure. Sure, you might not witness a majestic sunrise over Mount Columbia. But you’ll experience something even more precious…time outdoors enjoying what you love with the people you love.

Happy Camping!

Competition and COVID-19

Wednesday, January 27 2021

Bob Brammer, President of Stromberg Carlson, discusses what it takes to fend off the competition, both foreign and domestic. He also walks through the lessons his company learned from almost a full year of battling COVID-19. Lesson one: Take care of your people.

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