Planning Your Excellent Adventure… There comes a time in every RV enthusiast’s life when you just have to decide which direction to take… east to the Maritimes, West to the Rockies, North to the Canadian Shield, South to the discount malls, or around the loop for another memorable voyage of discovery. At our house, the annual motorhome tour, which we like to refer to as “RV Lifestyle’s Excellent Adventure” revolves around a specific theme.
Beginning with a schedule that takes into account vacation time, budget, and special interests, we plan our trips to include enough flexibility to keep the vacation interesting and entertaining, without the burden of a rigid schedule. Over the years, we have learned many of the tricks of the trade that help make an RV tour more enjoyable. Depending on our destinations, we pack our gear to suit the climate and facilities we expect to encounter, and the special attributes of the RV’s we will be using for the trip.
As RV Lifestyle Magazine Road Test Team members, we don’t have the advantage of using the same vehicle for each trip – so the preparation for an “RV Lifestyle Excellent Adventure” must include all RV supplies as well as our personal gear. We keep the kitchen supplies in a set of plastic bins that fit neatly into the typical RV galley drawers, the washroom supplies in a box that fits into a bathroom vanity, and the tools and miscellaneous RV oriented gear in boxes that generally fit nicely into the exterior storage compartments. Every component is checked after each trip, and stowed in its proper location, so that we can be ready to head off on the next adventure at the drop of a hat. Each family member has a checklist to cover clothing, sports and entertainment, identification documents and personal items, and we pack our vacation wardrobes so that the clothes we anticipate wearing each day are readily accessible.
Preparing for a major trip involves a fair amount of planning. We list all of the destinations that each member of the family would like to visit, and plot the locations on a map. Back in 2004, once we had a general idea of the route and travelling schedule, we used Rand McNally’s TripMaker software to finalize our itinerary. In 2021, we would, of course, use the vehicle GPS or one of the mapping programs on our smartphones, but in 2004, these technologies were not available… We call each campground at least a month in advance when we travel during the summer season, and we generally have at least two alternatives available in case the prime destination is fully booked.
Getting there is half the fun!
There are two basic types of RV travel – the mad dash to cover as much distance as possible on your way to a specific destination, and the RV “tour”, which features a number of interesting destinations along a specific route. After many years of long distance travel, we prefer the “RV tour” mode. Depending on the time available, and the routes, we plan each day’s travel, lodging, and activities based on no more than four hours travelling per day. We plan to start each leg of the tour at 8:00 a.m., and arrive at our destination for the day by noon, and we generally adhere to the schedule, except when we discover something really interesting along the way… then we follow the old adage “getting there is half the fun”, and we adjust our schedule accordingly.
Daddy, you got some ‘splaining to do!
Our Excellent Adventure, Summer ’04 edition, focused on three main destinations, each satisfying the interests of at least two family members. As proud members of the Boomer generation, and the heads of the family, my wife and I decided that it would be neat to visit Jamestown New York, birthplace of Lucille Ball, and the home of the Lucy-Desi Museum.
The younger generation, Josh, 17, and Lindsay, 11, had only the faintest inkling of the “I Love Lucy” show, based on snippets that they had encountered while channel surfing, so it took some effort to convince them that this would be a worthwhile destination… a trip to the video store to rent some of the classic episodes of “The Lucy Show” was just the ticket to generate some enthusiasm, especially when Lucy and Desi went camping, and flooded their trailer with soapsuds. By the time we reached the episode where Lucy and Ethel ate their way through the chocolate factory, it was more a question of “why haven’t we gone there before” than “why should we go there on this trip?”
While the Lucy-Desi Museum is small, it is filled with memorabilia, including Lucy’s Emmy awards, a collection of outstanding Hollywood portraits from Lucy’s pre-television career, and more than enough fond memories to keep you busy all afternoon.
If you are really lucky, or if you plan your trip to coincide with the annual Lucy Convention, you will see busloads of Lucy fans, all decked out in red wigs and replica attire… it’s well worth the drive to Jamestown!
For lots more information, and a glimpse at the collectibles available through the Lucy-Desi Giftshop, visit the 2021 updated website at https://comedycenter.org/lucy-desi-museum/
In the interest of fairness, our second destination catered to the interests of the men in the family. On previous adventures, we had visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and followed up with trips to several of the major league baseball parks in the northeast. See the Baseball Hall of Fame Adventure here: https://www.rvlifemag.com/the-national-baseball-hall-of-fame-and-museum/
This year, it was only natural to expand our sporting destinations to include the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Hut one, hut two, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
We’ve been to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, so the most logical destination for our 2004 RV Lifestyle Excellent Adventure was the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
This is a spectacular destination – as fascinating in 2021 as it was 16 years earlier…
From the thrill of the Game Day Stadium theatre to the interactive exhibits, the Pro Football Hall of Fame offers fans and their families an exceptional insight into the nuances and the milestones of the game. Distinctive architecture and exquisite displays pay tribute to the first century of professional football in America, with a collection of enshrinee mementos that span the generations, and a museum store that is worth the visit all by itself.
Admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005 was $12 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children, and a family pass was available for just $30. PLEASE VISIT THE WEBSITE for updated admission prices and hours of operation.
This destination is certain to fascinate the whole family – football fans and bystanders alike!
For more information, updated to 2021, please visit www.profootballhof.com.
To round-out our “Hall of Fame Tour” we decided to visit Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… this destination was a unanimous decision – from Buddy Holly to the Rolling Stones, we all love Rock and Roll, and it was the best reason ever to turn up the volume on the CD player, and show the kids how much fun a sock hop could be.
Choosing the right RV for the trip
With two adults and two teenagers, our ideal vehicle for an adventure of this type was a class C motorhome, similar to the vehicles that are available for rent at many RV dealerships. The class C, or “mini-motorhome” embodies all of the RV components in a chassis that is more maneuverable and less expensive than the traditional bus-style “class A” motorhome, and substantially larger than the compact “class B” or van conversion motorhomes.
Our friends at Winnebago Industries suggested that we try out their 2005 Winnebago Minnie 31C, a 31’4” class C model featuring a large central slide-out section and very attractive Stone Dust beige interior with Portsmouth Oak cabinetry. The floorplan was ideally suited to a family of four to six people, and the Ford chassis powered by a V-10 engine promised more than enough performance to handle the hilly terrain we planned to cover.
The Minnie rode very smoothly and handled like a dream, thanks in part to the optional rear air springs, and the driving experience is enhanced by the rear monitor system, which features a sun-visor mounted LCD screen – it takes the worry out of many driving situations, and even at $833 US it’s the best option you can add to your vehicle.
For the utmost in travelling convenience, the Minnie was equipped with an optional Onan 4 KW generator, which is reasonably quiet in the campsite, and a definite asset when you stop for a break at a rest area.
The Minnie 31C is ideal for a family of four, and the on-board RV systems can accommodate several days of “dry camping” at a time. You never have to worry about the status of your RV systems, because Winnebago Industries exclusive TrueLevel™ holding tank monitoring system incorporates Mirus™ detector cell technology to ensure accurate fresh and waste water tank level readings. Mirus detector cells produce a micro-electrical field that detects liquid levels from outside the tank.
With plenty of interior cabinets, the Minnie can be fully stocked, yet maintain a clean and uncluttered interior décor. Outside, the The StoreMore Slideout System extends in seconds, riding on steel rails that support very roomy compartments that slide out with the wall section – you don’t have to go diving under the extended slide-out to get access to your gear, and the compartments are well lit and sealed for weather resistance. Best of all, one key opens the storage compartments and the entry door!
Inside the Minnie, we enjoyed the optional 24” TV and entertainment system; the optional exterior audio system is ideal for the more private campsites, when you can languish under the awning and enjoy life to the fullest.
For Canadian RV enthusiasts, the Minnie offers optional heated mirrors with defrosters, and Winnebago Industries’ Thermo-Panel composite wall construction with high-density block foam is well insulated for use throughout most of the year. The one-piece fiberglass roof is crowned to shed rainwater, and we did not see any sign of sidewall streaking so common with other roof construction and materials.
The Minnie is built with a combination of steel and aluminum frame components, which incorporates interlocking joint construction for exceptional strength and durability.
UPDATE: To see a full range of Winnebago and other Class C motorhomes, visit www.rvlifemag.com and look in the Road Test section for Class C Motorhomes. For the latest information on the 2021 Minnie 31C, and the rest of the Winnebago Industries’ RV product line, visit www.winnebagoind.com.
We get by, with a little help from our friends…
When we road test U.S.-based press fleet vehicles, we generally arrange to pick them up at an RV dealership within reasonable driving distance of our home base in Toronto. Meyer’s Campers in Hamburg, New York, just a half-hour west of Buffalo, has been one of our favourite RV Lifestyle Road Test dealerships for years. As a full-service RV specialist, they provide the pre-delivery preparation for the Winnebago products that we feature in the RV Lifestyle Magazine, and their expert staff is always helpful, suggesting routes and side trips that enhance our travelling experience.
The Meyer’s Campers staff are always happy to help visiting Canadian RV’ers with their service requirements, and with six New York state locations in Hamburg, Caledonia, Churchville, Bath, and the Superstore in Syracuse, they can help you out across a very large portion of the state. Check out their website at www.meyerscampers.com.
RV Lifestyle Road Test Team at the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll is here to Stay!
It’s worth the drive to Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Just five hours from Toronto, the glass pyramid housing the classic memories of the greatest musical phenomenon of the 20th century beckons from the shoes of Lake Erie.
We planned our visit by researching Alan Freed and the Rock and Roll genre that began in 1951, and continues to be one of the greatest influences on North American musical culture.
For the 50’s generation, seeing the exhibits on Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, B.B. King, Elvis, and their contemporaries was a wonderful celebration of our youth. Our kids enjoyed seeing the wardrobes of AC/DC, Elvis Costello, Prince, and Britney Speers.
We had only one disappointment on our visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – due to contractual obligations to the various performers whose memorabilia is on exhibit at the Hall of Fame, there is a complete ban on photography – yes, we had to check our cameras at the door, even with special press credentials! Aside from the few photographs that we were allowed to include with this story, you will have to take our word for it – there is enough Rock and Roll at the Hall of Fame to make your visit well worth the effort.
For more information on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame visit www.rockhall.com.
Where to Stay
Our first day on the road revolved around picking up our road test vehicle from Meyer’s Campers in Hamburg New York, so we planned to stop for the night at the Westfield / Lake Erie KOA, on Route 5, just before the NY/PA state line. As experienced RV travellers we calculated the distance to Jamestown, NY to be about 30 miles, or approximately an hour’s drive.
As usual, we were surprised by what the locals referred to as the permanent construction on route 394. The traffic was barely moving, so out came the map, and we changed direction. Our detour around this situation was scenic, but included some very low arched underpasses…. Low enough to stop for a measurement of the total height of the vehicle, including the roof air conditioner. On paper, we had at least ten inches to spare. In practice, we stationed one spotter with a radio in front, and another behind, and drove under the dead center of the overpass. Cleared it by almost a foot, but we resolved not to take the same route back to the campground!
We quite enjoyed the drive through the Chataqua region of New York State, rich in history and performing arts… a very scenic consideration for future RV adventures.
Our second leg of the trip took us to the Canton, Ohio area, and we dropped in at Bear Creek Resort Ranch KOA in East Sparta, OH, but the weather was too stormy to take advantage of the horseback riding facilities that had attracted us to this KOA, so we decided to explore the area.
We had heard about a really nice KOA Kampground near Shelby, Ohio, and decided that it was worth the extra mileage to visit Gary and Vicki Cole and their staff. We discovered one of the nicest KOA’s in the system, complete with all of the amenities, including mini-golf, paddle boats, a great pool and a 300-seat banquet hall. No wonder the Shelby-Mansfield KOA was a President’s Choice winner! We sojourned at the Shelby-Mansfield KOA, enjoying Gary’s deluxe patio site, complete with outdoor fireplace, and we made it our base for the visits to Canton’s Football Hall of Fame, and Cleveland’s Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Check this Kampground out at the 2021 link: https://koa.com/campgrounds/shelby/
On the return leg of our trip we stopped by the Niagara Falls KOA on Grand Island, one of the Kampgrounds that is currently undergoing substantial upgrading. While this is just an hour and a half from our home base in Toronto, we plan to visit this site as a destination trip next summer.
For information on all of the KOA Kampgrounds, and access to the on-line reservation system, visit www.koa.com