Closing Out 2022: A Year of Travel

Alaska RV Road Trip

Another year past and 2022 is in the books. It seems like just yesterday that our vision of working from the road as we travel in our RV came to fruition. It was just an idea on paper 10 years ago. Today, we’ve hit most of the major National Parks and camped in almost all 50 states.

2022 was an eventful year! Let’s see… In January we put stakes down in Arizona, and in February we added a new member to our family! Yes, Atlas Russell, aka. “AT” and grandson number two, was born to Brandon and Dayna on February 12. What a joy little man is, and instant best friends to his brother Bodi.

We spent a good amount of time with Spencer and Melissa building an RV pad at the new house in Mesa. Did some desert hiking and camping all over AZ and Nevada. Spent a lot of time in San Diego getting to know Atlas, and did a fair amount of work on the RV preparing it for the RV Road Trip to Alaska.

We returned to SLO in November and finished the year with Christmas in San Luis Obispo. It was an awesome year and an epic finish. Plans are in developing for more travel in 2023. Stay tuned!

Road Trip Photos and Travel Journal – Alaska 2022

Mile Zero – Alaska Highway

And we’re off! Leg two has begun and all systems are go to Alaska.

As I write this short little blog post to update those of you following our journey, I’m nursing approximately 20 mosquito bites. Apparently no part of the bod is off limits to these relentless creatures. They just don’t stop and you can never let your guard down.

Today we crossed into the Yukon and have witnessed amazing scenery. The glacier lakes, mountain peaks, and wildlife is breath-taking. Every turn makes you want to stop and take photos, but the best you can do is just slow down. Cheryl has become a quick draw on her phone. Most of those photos are her doing.

Aside from the scare on the 13% grade, all is going well at around 3,400 miles since San Diego. The brake rewire at Dawson Creek is holding and the truck is performing exactly as it should. It’s a beast of an engine, powerful, and so reliable.

We’re having a fantastic time and getting along well after our 3 to 5 hour daily drives. We try to arrive before happy hour, set up, and then go explore either on bikes, foot, or in the truck.

Our last journal entry is Sikanni River Campground. I’ll write about that stop later, but for now it’s dinner time. Navy bean soup and grilled cheese is on the menu. Until next time, check the Alaska page for the latest photos.

Snowing in Mt. Hood, Sweltering Everywhere Else

Bonneville Fish Hatchery, East of Portland, OR

What can you do in 50 degree weather with a steady rain? Turns out a lot. Locals don’t even call it rain. They bike, hike, golf, and run in what I’d call rain. We’re not local and our definition of rain is different, so we decided to take a drive to Hood River and check out the sights yesterday.

Our destination was about an hour drive from Mt. Hood Village RV Resort to Full-Sail Brewing in Hood River where we had lunch and a brew while watching the boarders. It was the perfect side trip out of the rain and into some decent weather. The hard core paddlers were thick along the East Fork of the Hood River which was really moving fast.

Hood River, the town, has a cool little downtown, a lot like SLO with historical buildings, shops, theatres, eateries, and galleries. More photos in our Alaska trip stop #11.

We stopped by the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, as well as the locks and dam on our way back. Remarkable what the Army Corp of Engineers can build. Amazing stuff and fun to ponder how they did it. BTW, lot’s of people fishing from the shoreline, and they seemed to be successful.

Today is laundry day, one more task on the things you can do in the rain while traveling in an RV. Given it’s snowing on Mt. Hood and raining here, we’re doing laundry, fixing the stereo, blogging, and smoking… chicken that is.

As the chicken cooks I’ll get after that stereo re-wire so we can play the TV through the sound system. We’ll see how that goes.

We’re off to Portland to see the sights, visit Bill and Lisa in Camas, WA. for a pub crawl and see their new house, then off to Vancouver, BC to meet up with Ron and Stace for Leg #2 of our trip to Alaska.

We’ll be posting along the way, so enter your email below if you want to get notified of new photos or blog posts. Safe travels to all!

Do I Have to Drive or Tow an RV Rental?

No. Delivered RV rentals are now available nationwide. Sometimes described as “dropped”, the emergence of peer to peer RV rental platforms, such as RVPlusYou and others, have made delivered RV rentals more popular than ever.
Travel Trailer Rental delivered

The rental above is available for delivery throughout San Diego county. Hitched RV Rentals specializes in ‘delivered trailer rentals’.

5th Wheel Rental available for delivery

Not all ‘delivered RV rentals’ are travel trailers, some are 5th wheels. Occasionally you will find Class C and Class A motorhomes available for delivery as well.

Why rent a delivered RV, rather than a drivable RV?

The biggest reason to rent a delivered RV is cost. It can be much less expensive to rent a delivered RV, as opposed to one you can drive.
RV Rental at Mission Bay San Diego

Why is a delivered RV rental generally less expensive than a drivable RV rental?

The main reason for the high cost of drivable RV rentals is the cost of insurance. Insuring novice drivers for an RV carries a huge amount of liability.

The cost to maintain a motorhome is always going to be more expensive than a travel trailer, yet the amenities are identical: Kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms, both RV’s have them. In many cases, travel trailers have more room because they don’t have engines.

Maintenance is one reason for higher cost, but the photo to the left illustrates the main reason why drivable rentals are more expensive than deliverable RV rentals. This was a first time RV renter in panic mode.

The cost to insure novice drivers is extraordinary, see details. In most cases, this cost must be passed on to the renter.

In the case of delivered RV rentals, the insurance cost is very low resulting in a much lover overall cost.

In addition to a lower cost of the RV rental, there is more service: For a small fee, delivery, set up, and pick up are all included! You don’t even have to empty the tank!

Not all vacations can utilize a delivered RV rental service. Sometimes you just need to hit the road. However, plan on a bigger RV rental budget for drivable RV’s vs. delivered RV rentals.

If you would like more information about delivered RV rentals, give us a call or email us about having one of our rentals delivered to your next family reunion, camping trip, or event!

How To Build an RV Pad on Your Property

Temp housing for visiting the grand kids

So, we’ve received a lot of questions over the years about where we go when we’re on the road, or where we stay when we visit our kids in San Diego. After all, we’re gone up to 8 months out of the year traveling in our RV and some of that time we’re visiting our kids.

Where do we park our rig when we visit? I recently wrote a blog on how to build an RV pad. It’s really just a share of photos and how we did it. If you want to see the details about where we park, click read more…

RV Power and a Residential RV Refrigerator

What you need to know about the residential refrigerator option in your new RV

Chosen Equipment and Rig – Part One

Speaking from first-hand experience I can say that power in your RV, for both AC and DC devices and appliances, is all important, especially if you have a full size residential refrigerator in your rig that requires 110V – AC power, AND you want to camp off the grid, better known as “dry camping”.

We did a 6-week trip from June 15 through the end of July, 2017 the year we purchased our 35′ 5th wheel. We traveled from San Luis Obispo, CA up to Jasper, Alberta Canada, then down through Icefield Highway along the Rockies. We visited Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, Estes Park, CO, then cut West back through Bryce Canyon and Zion through Las Vegas, eventually finding our way back to California. This is our RV power story.

Most of the larger RV’s are now offering 18 to 26 cu ft. 110V refrigerators. Yes, these are full size refrigerators in your RV, same as the one in your home. It is an option now and who knows, they may be be standard in most of the bigger rigs if power technology keeps improving on the same track that it has. AC power is much more efficient and cost effective to use in the right environment.

These set ups require a sine wave inverter that turns your 12V DC current coming from your battery bank into 110V AC current, same as your house.

26.8 Cu. Ft. Residential Fridge

Given the solar and inverter technology available today, as well as the LED lighting efficiency, many RV’ers are choosing this option. If you spend any time at all in your RV, it’s pretty cool to have all that fridge space, an ice-maker, temp control, power efficiency, and yes, even filtered water.

Not sure you can call this camping, but whatever it is we do quite a bit of it in State and National Parks, not just RV Parks. It’s cool to be in a remote location but still have some conveniences.

We had planned this Canada trip to break in the new beast, then after that spend about 6 – 8 months out of the year living in this monster as part-time/full timers. Needless to say, we needed a rig that we could live in, work in, and use for off-grid camping.

Given our situation, we had to figure out a way to bring our own power with us. Note: The single 12 volt deep cycle battery that they give you when you buy your RV is NOT enough power to keep a rig like this going, no matter what they say. You’re going to need more power.

In 2017, the RV manufacturers didn’t generally offer upgrades that include sufficient power needed for power hogs like microwaves and residential refrigerators. It was baffling at the time, but recently they’ve begun to offer real solar and battery solutions. They figured out that profit was available somewhere in this equation, so why not offer it up?

Given that we only had after-market choices at the time, we had to choose between the following: 1) A big, heavy, noisy, and expensive on-board power generator, 2) an inverter/charger/solar system, or 3) a combination of both. We chose the combo option with a small portable quiet generator used when the sun wasn’t shining. The efficiency of the 3 in 1 inverter by Go Power allows for a small generator to charge the system.

Cardinal 3250 Fifth Wheel

Before the power decision, was the question of which rig to buy. We chose a 5th wheel; a 2017 Cardinal 3250. I count 35′ 3″ nose to stern, but they say an even 35′. We haul it with a 2015 Ram 2500 Turbo Diesel which has plenty of power. Again, at the time, there was no option to buy that rig with a sufficient power supply system. We had to buy aftermarket, and we chose to use the dealer. More on that decision later…

We chose the following power configuration: 2-160 watt solar panels, 4 Lifeline AGM 6 volt deep cycle batteries, and a Go Power IC 2000 inverter/charger. This design was the recommendation from the service department at the dealer. It was supposed to keep us in all the power we and our big fridge needed. Well, it wasn’t even close.

I’m sure all you electronic engineers out there are saying, “duh”. Well, you’re right. Only now can I give enough advice to help others not make the same mistake.

Now, with our power and equipment backstory out there, I’ll share our power woes which started at our first off-grid site in Jasper, Alberta Canada.

Tech Fail: Part Two

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more beautiful drive or scenery: Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta Canada are stunning. The experience absolutely blew my eyeballs away. Icefield Parkway is breathtaking and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The tough part about many of Canada’s National Parks is that the sun isn’t always shining. On top of that, there are trees everywhere and they will likely be shading your RV nestled in your campsite. Plus, you’re pretty far North which put our fixed panels in a non-optimal position. This was the case for us in Jasper, summer of  2017.

Having driven up from an RV Park in the Kamloops area on a cloudy and stormy day, we didn’t get much sun on our panels for the drive into Jasper. We had shore power at the RV Park, so I wasn’t too concerned. We set up camp in a dry site at Wabasso Campground. Not easy to maneuver into that tricky spot, but we did it. All is well so far, until… morning number one, we woke to sound of a faint alarm consisting of 3 short beeps coming from the storage bay where the inverter/charger was located.

It turns out that this Go Power inverter is super smart. Among other safety features, it won’t let your batteries discharge beyond a safe limit (50%), meaning they won’t let you discharge completely and damage your batteries. It simply turns itself off. Of course this means everything turns off, including your fridge.

After doing what I should have done from the beginning; read up on how the inverter works, we were able to determine that the alarm was a good thing and we simply needed to charge the batteries. No sun, no charge we thought. Should be fine with a charge. We cranked up the generator and let that go a couple hours.

Between a bit of sun and the charge from our Honda 2000 generator, we thought we had enough juice to crank it all back up. The sun would soon be shining directly on our two solar panels and we’d be back in business.

Not so. We ran the batteries down below 11.5 volts, into the 39% range. The inverter/charger had to charge up the batteries, then power up that fridge that had been off for a few hours. The compressor had to turn on and was calling for a big load of alternating current. We got about 20 minutes of AC juice before the UVP alarm sounded and our power was out again. Uh oh.

We had another 4 days off the grid in Jasper planned. This clearly wasn’t going to work. Step one was to call someone who knew power. We called a local RV repair guy in Hinton, AB who knew solar power and serviced RV’s from a mobile truck, but he never answered my voice mails, emails, and general pleas for help, so that wasn’t going to be an option.

We then called the folks at DDRV in Westminster, California who we bought the rig from and who installed the system. After all, they installed it so they should know what the issue was, right? Doug, our service rep, was nice enough. His advice was to use a separate battery charger to get the batteries back to full before starting the inverter again. He figured we had run the batteries so low, we had no choice but to bring them to full charge. Well, that required a 4 hour round trip drive to from our campground in Jasper, to the town of Hinton for a decent battery charger. Aaargh!!

After the drive, the subsequent charging with a 20 amp battery charger, more intermittent sun, and a lot of frustration we tried again. After all, we used the correct charger settings for AGM batteries and now the voltage was reading 13.4 and 90% on the controller. We got it all turned back on and what did we get? About 60 minutes of power. We went to bed that 3rd night knowing the frozen fish wasn’t so frozen anymore.

We transferred some critical foods to my brother’s trusty, but tiny absorption propane fridge, but we couldn’t fit it all. We needed power real fast. We were in luck; a cancellation allowed us to move from Wabasso campground to Whistler’s campground on our last night. It was a site that had 30 amp shore power and lots of Elk. Phew, saved for now, (or so we thought).

Part 3 – The problem

Glacier Skywalk

By no means were we out of the woods yet. We were able to get the fridge back up and operating, the batteries took a full charge (not just a quick surface charge), and the inverter seemed to be working fine.  Cool! Off to Banff we went. The drive from Jasper to Banff is truly spectacular. The views on Icefield Parkway are so breathtaking, you simply can’t believe what your eyes are taking in. That was a great day, until we arrived.

By the time we arrived and set up at the Lake Louise campground, just 4 hours later, the inverter was in alarm again and had turned itself off. Fridge was off and we were without AC power yet again. But then we had shore power at Lake Louise, so good for now.

After all this expense; solar, powerful inverter, and battery upgrade, we couldn’t make it 4 hours without shore power? This was unacceptable. We were pissed off, and that’s putting it lightly. What was going on? With a full charge on the batteries, why wouldn’t it power the system?

We got in touch with “Mike”, lead tech at Go Power, to try and trouble shoot. Great guy and very knowledgeable. He was accessible, great follow through, and very helpful over the next few days and many calls. By now I’ve read a lot about how the thing worked; settings, alarms, and specs. Mike has walked me through a lot and I’m feeling much more in control and still happy I went with Go Power.

It turns out that we had multiple problems. First, the cables installed from the battery bank to the inverter were undersized. I read the metric info on the cables to Mike who said, “That’s not our cable. That’s something else and not to spec.” Two gauge cables are called for in the Go Power specs, DDRV installed smaller gauge “welding cables”. They weren’t even from the GoPower wiring kit we purchased from DDRV. Yes, I’m extremely upset at this point.

Second, the system requires a 300 amp breaker between the batteries and the inverter. Again, a 300 Amp breaker comes in the kit that I purchased, but DDRV installed a 200 amp fuse which had blown between Jasper and Banff. To this day, we don’t know why it blew. Maybe the quality of the non-GP fuse? Perhaps the load on the wrong cables that were installed? Never did figure that out. We measured and bypassed the fuse at the block to confirm that the breaker was blown. The nearest place to get a fuse; Calgary, another 4.5 hour round trip drive. Wow.

At this point in our adventure we we’re beyond upset and simply in problem solving mode. There’s a point in any challenging situation where blame just isn’t a solution. We had to solve this and deal with the cause and justice later. So we made the drive and picked up the $162 fuse and matching block required. Installed it, and proceeded with the process of charging, then testing, charging, and more testing.

We had more dry camping reservations coming up and spots of boondocking planned. From Banff, we had planned campsites at Redstreak, Kootenay National Park, Emery Campground at Hungry Horse reservoir near Glacier National Park. All dry camps with more dry camping planned in Colorado and Utah. Ugh.

Dry camping wasn’t going to work. Our plans had to be changed, which isn’t easy in the middle of peak summer camping season. Everything was booked. We proceeded to move it all around and opt for power. We had no choice and it was absolutely no fun at all. Again, solutions, not blame.

Luckily, we had power at Tetons and Yellowstone. Fishing Bridge is not much more than a parking lot, but we were out hiking and exploring, so who cares. The fridge worked. We had dinner with my brother and sister-in-law at their site in Bridge Bay, which is much nicer (our opinion). Our campsite at Fishing Bridge was not much more than a storage location during Yellowstone.

Our next stop was Moraine Campground, Estes Park, CO. We stayed a night at Sleeping Bear RV park in Lander, WY, again, for sleep and power on our way to Estes Park, but alas, a full charge wasn’t enough to get us from 11am check-out in Lander, through to Estes Park the next morning. At Moraine dry camp, we woke again to the UVP alarm.

We had to cancel 2 nights at Moraine Campground in Estes Park, CO and were able to squeeze in at Manor RV Park for the last 2 nights needed. We cancelled other National Park campgrounds in Bryce as well and opted for private parks with power. It was extremely maddening and disappointing, but you do what you have to do. Our expensive power system was now just about useless. It was getting us anywhere from 4 to 12 hours of off-grid AC power depending on the load and how deep the batteries where charged.

Conclusion: There were multiple issues:

  1. The wiring between the batteries and the inverter was just too small. The heat from those cables when inverting was too hot to touch. It didn’t appear to melt the insulation, but it was close.
  2. The connections to the 4 Lifeline batteries wasn’t correct. They should have wired the power needs to a positive and negative terminal, which then ran one connection to the 6-volt batteries that were in series and parallel to make one giant battery. Instead, these masterminds at the dealer connected the DC to one battery, the inverter to another, the hydraulics to another.
  3. The recommended system wasn’t enough to power our needs. Had it been installed correctly, we would have had enough to power they fridge but only in full sun. We needed more panels.

The fact is that the installation done by DDRV back in 2017 was not to code, and not to the Go Power specifications. Their recommendation on size wasn’t correct and they swapped the cable and fuse from the cable kit I purchased and used different parts. They modified the battery bay at great expense, sold me 4 very good Lifeline AGM 6-volt batteries, and they proceeded to hook them up like amateur’s who knew nothing about DC power on an RV. I’m told by professionals today that this install could have easily burned down my rig with us in it.

Part 4: The solution

At this point in the story, readers should have two conclusions swirling around in their heads:

  1. Do it yourself if you can. Owning an RV is expensive. It’s not an asset, it’s a money pit. If you can’t do the work yourself, then at least follow the next tip.
  2. Check the work. Do your homework and know what you’re buying and who you’re buying it from. Not all dealers are bad, and I’m not even saying DDRV is a “bad” dealer. They do what they do which is sell RV’s at a reasonable profit, then service them at an insane profit. I’m saying that you should check their work. Get a second opinion on their advice or suggestions. Shop around and hold vendors accountable.

The last leg of our 2017 RV trip was through Las Vegas and on to San Luis Obispo, CA. Ah, home sweet home. Vegas is always hot in the summer, but the last weekend of July, 2017 it was a scorcher. That weekend was over 110 degrees at peak. Wow. Glad we had two AC units on our rig. Maybe that contributed to blowing the 300 Amp fuse, or maybe it was just the way our dealer wired the expensive power system.

We left Vegas on the morning of July 31st and headed home. We stopped in Tehachapi for lunch and checked on the inverter. After all, we spent 3 nights plugged into 50A shore power. Four brand new fully charged AGM 6 volt deep cycle batteries would certainly power an ice cold refrigerator for a 7 hour drive.

The inverter was off after 4 hours of “off-grid” driving. The 300 amp fuse I bought in Calgary had blown. Again, it was hot and that doesn’t help but the wiring that DDRV used was simply not to spec. The likely culprit was battery wiring; trying to draw too much through one of 4 batteries through a 300 amp fuse. No doubt we were towing a fire hazard.

After we got home and settled, it was time to solve the problem. I called DDRV and scheduled an appointment for the following week. It’s a 4 hour drive from San Luis Obispo to Westminster, so we had to make arrangements for accommodations. Another, ugh and big expense.

Doug was kind enough; of course they would fix their mistake, and maybe more. We had them fix a bunch of warranty work while they were at it. Forest River gives you one year to find and fix all of their mistakes. After that, it’s on you. So, we asked DDRV to fix the shoddy work and lack of attention to detail: Molding that simply fell off, doors that didn’t close, blinds installed wrong, etc.

GP Elite Solar Kit

When I bought the rig, I knew I’d have issues; everyone does when they buy new. All of the advice from veteran RV’ers was buy 1 to 2 years hold. Let someone else take the hit on depreciation and fight with dealers and manufacturers on repairs.

We knew this, but we also wanted what we wanted and this 5th wheel was it. It turns out that DDRV is the only Cardinal dealer in California, so we negotiated the price with Mike, a very nice sales rep with good follow through, then bought from DDRV.

We knew we wanted and needed more power given the residential fridge, so we went with the solar system they recommended and upgraded the batteries as recommended by Ryan in service. He said I could save money, and that I could always add more panels, so start with the Go Power Elite Kit, then add more panels, if you need them. Made sense to me.

Well, I had no way of knowing how many panels I needed after our trip because they wired it wrong. It didn’t work at all. What I learned later, and should have known before, is that you can’t expand beyond 3 – 160W panels with the same 30 amp controller that the Elite kit comes with. It requires an upgrade to an 80 amp controller/regulator. That was my big beef with Ryan; don’t give advice to people who don’t know how to ask questions. If you do, ask them questions and make sure you’re selling a solution. In this situation I later learned that I’d have to replace the 30 amp controller with a $840 unit. It’s like installing the system twice to upgrade and go beyond 3 panels. Note: Adding panels is a money maker for dealers.

I knew from all the post-install homework that I needed at least 3 panels, 6 being optimal given weather and location of campgrounds. I decided to have DDRV add one more panel, the max allowed on that controller. Why them you ask? Because I figured they would probably do it for free. After all, I had racked up thousands of dollars in expenses and hours of frustration on our trip. Surely they would want to make me whole with one more panel. If I needed panels beyond 3, I’d do the work myself.

DDRV charged me $540 for the extra panel, plus 20% mark up. They agreed to discount one hour of labor by 50%, and refund me the cost of the fuse I bought in Calgary. “Is this the best you can do given all I went through?” Yes, was the answer. The 20% mark up was $108, labor savings was $40. This tells you where their mindset was when it comes to how they view the customer.

I explained that I was in the RV business and I write blogs. I explained that I’m going to tell this story; “Are you sure that this is how you want to leave it?” Confirmed. They had to make money to keep the doors open.

So, this was my story about RV power and how demand drives an economy. It closed that chapter of extreme RV aggravation and education. It’s called experience and felt the need to share many more RV’ers have this same question about residential refrigerators and the power demands we have today.

Part V: The Final Solution

After our maiden voyage to Canada in the summer of 2017, I embarked on a quest to find a solution to my power problem. DDRV did not know off-grid DC solar, except what they knew from installing kits. What’s worse than not knowing, is thinking you do, telling customers you do, and then selling solutions with lack of understanding.

In my opinion, the RV industry, in general, is first about chasing a buck and paying lip service to quality or customer care. What all RV owners should know is that the RV industry isn’t well regulated. The RVIA is the main association representing the RV industry. If your rig is RVIA  certified, it means that the manufacturer passed the minimum standards of the RVIA  in manufacturing, but what are those? What about assembly? Not easy to know, unless of course you’re a manufacturer. Go ahead and try.

Most people think the RV industry is regulated similar to that of the auto industry with lemon laws. Not true. I won’t go into details, but I will offer an eye-opening paper for readers to contemplate. Whether you own an RV, or are thinking of buying one, I would encourage you to read The RV Industry Death Spiral, by Greg Gerber. I recommend you read this before you buy.

Dealers are part of the industry, and yes they out for profit. Will they try and get the most out of the buyer that they can? Yes. Caveat emptor. Do your homework folks. There is nothing wrong with chasing profit but in this case, you better do your homework or you will be skinned alive.

My solution was a guy named Scott Esh who owns a small business in Tennessee called My Homestead Marketplace. He provides everything you need to be off-grid, but DC solar is his specialty and RV’s are all about DC. Scott comments and provides solar and electrical advice through his group on RVillage. You can find his posts here. I highly recommend you read his work before you invest.

I got in touch with Scott through the RVillage group and began to ask questions. I found him extremely giving and honest. We spoke over the phone several times, and based on his advice to others in that RVillage group, plus the conversations over the phone, I decided to have him redesign our power system using new parts I purchased from his store, and existing parts that I had purchased from DDRV.

I bought 3 more 160 watt solar panels, a MidNite 80 Amp solar controller, and a custom designed wiring system based on his recommendation. Had I gone to Scott in the first place, I would have saved about $8,000 with zero power issues.

I bought the system online toward the end of 2017 without meeting Scott face to face. I had it installed by a local RV repair shop exactly as Scott had designed it with complete instructions. After install, the new system set up was producing 960 watts of power, but still not charging as designed. Scott didn’t disappear, he helped me figure out the battery issue over the phone.

Given the batteries were toast after just 1.5 years into a 5 year warranty, I was able to speak to the owner at Lifeline who gave me a discount considering my story. He knew exactly what DDRV had done and explained why it was not only dangerous but it was guaranteed to wreck the batteries.

I later met Scott at Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee, about 2 hours away from where he lived. He drove out to meet me and test the system he designed. We had a great conversation, he installed two new busbars for me at the campsite, rather than stacking 5 terminals on one post.

The system is working great now. We have plenty of power and rarely have to pull out the generator. Solar truly is the way to go, especially with a resi-fridge.

One of the main points of this article, besides making me feel better, is to educate. I wanted to explain what buyers of new RV’s are up against; the industry as a whole, the dealers, the quality of your new RV, and the people who earn their living from this industry. I think I’m fair in how I presented these facts and how this particular dealer responded with a solution, and we all know that every dealer is different.

I’ll leave you with this one last story to make my point: My company, RVPlusYou, attended the big RV Show in Pomona last year at the Fairplex. As a vendor, I was able to go in early, well before the show started and customers began to mill around and pine over the shiny new RV’s.

On the biggest day, a Saturday morning, I passed a large group of sales people preparing for the day. I won’t say the name of the dealer, it wasn’t DDRV but it was a So. Cal dealership. The sales manager was a woman leading the meeting and whipping up the sales team to “go sell”. The song they played: “I Wanna be Rich” played loudly for the team. “I want money, lots and lots of money…” were the lyrics designed to prep the team for the prospects about to enter their hen house.

I hope this article helps those people shopping for RV’s. The industry had record sales in the last few years and 2020 was through the roof given the pandemic and demand to be outside. This year looks good as well. My hope is that this story will provide a glimpse into the industry and an idea of what you’re dealing with when you go to buy a new RV and choose the various features and options.

If you know an RV owner, or you know someone looking to buy, please pass this on and share. You might save them some heartache, you might help them with their power and refrigerator decision, or you just might help contribute to improving the RV industry. Hopefully they can steer themselves into a better direction.

What RV Rental Companies Deliver in San Diego County?

Hitched RV Rentals is one of the many great RV rental companies located in San Diego

Sonoma Bunkhouse Sleeps 8 at Mission Beach, San Diego

We’ve put together a list of top RV rental companies who deliver and set up at local campground destinations throughout San Diego County.

The following is a list of the best places to find RV rentals that can be delivered to locations such as Campland on the Bay, Mission Bay RV Resort, Chula Vista KOA, Ocotillo Wells, Glamis, San Elijo State Beach, Silver Strand State Beach, Santee Lakes, and many others.

Top 20 San Diego RV Rental Companies
  • Hitched RV Rentals
  • Travel Time
  • Camp n’ Style
  • Alberts RV Rentals
  • Luv 2 Camp
  • California RV Rentals
  • El Cajon RV Rentals
  • RV Pro Rentals
  • San Diego Ultimate RV Rentals
  • Star RV & Trailer Rentals
  • RVPlusYou – RV Rentals
  • Outdoorsy
  • RV Share
  • Cruise America
  • Road Bear RV Rentals
  • El Monte RV Happ
  • Apollo RV Rentals
  • Happy Camper RV Rentals
  • RV Rentals San Diego
  • Camptime RV Rental

Do a search for the websites above, and find RV rental inventory starting at just $85/night plus delivery and set up fees.

What is the advantage of renting a delivered RV?

Many people are discovering why a delivered RV rental is the best way to go when it comes to camping.

Convenience – No driving or towing, simply arrive at your reserved campsite and start camping! When you’re done, simply check out and leave in your own car.

Efficiency – Haul your toys to the desert or your boat to the lake and meet your RV at your campsite. Your RV is set up and ready upon arrival!

Low Hassle Factor – Most delivered RV rental companies allow you to avoid lengthy contracts and expensive insurance.

Comfort and Protection – By renting an RV to be delivered next to your family or friends, you’re camping in comfort with zero hassle and all the protection of a home.

Affordability – A delivered RV rental means you’re paying less. Yes, you will usually pay less and here is why: No driving. When you drive an RV rental, there are all kinds of costs that go into allowing this risky endeavor.

Yes, a delivered/set up RV rental comes with a delivery fee, but it’s usually much less than the overall cost of driving or towing an RV to your destination after you factor other costs involved in driving or towing yourself.

What is the average cost to rent a delivered RV?

The average nightly cost is $165/night for a travel trailer, plus $150 delivery, plus extra mileage which can be up to $3/mile.

Compare this cost to an RV rental that you drive, such as a class C motorhome which will average $220/night. Extra costs include extra damage and liability insurance coverage for driver, travel kits such as dish or linen, generator time in hours, extra miles over budget, and fuel at approximately 6-8 mpg.

Still have more questions?

Give us a call, or email us and we’ll answer all your questions before you commit to a rental company or a particular RV.

Phone/Text: 805-801-3456


RV Travel During a Pandemic

Plans vs. reality

Having been affected differently than most by the stay at home order, executed just days after we left California, our current 2020 RV trip requires some explanation to anyone following our 2020 Social Distancing RV Trip, the COVID-19 diversion.

The thing about traveling in an RV while you’re supposed to be sheltering at home is that your home is on wheels. Sure, we have a sticks and bricks home back in San Luis Obispo, CA but it’s currently occupied by a lovely family who got caught up in this mess while remodeling their home. They leased our home during construction and while we were on our “East Coast RV Trip”. Of course this turned into the social distancing tour that we’re on as I type.

Shouldn’t we be somewhere physically distancing? What about moving around, is that safe? Can one follow CDC guidelines while camping in an RV? Aren’t all the campgrounds and RV parks closed, where do you stay?

The previous questions all make sense to ask, but only in this warped world we all find ourselves in. There are over 1 million full time RV’ers, mostly baby boomers who either sold their houses and hit the road, or they travel part of the year like us.

At this “COVID moment”, we find ourselves affected only by the number of destination campground options we have to stay in, and how long we’re able to stay there. In the non-pandemic world, we’d have a lot of options but alas this is not a normal situation.

When state governors started handing down orders to shelter at home and practice social distancing, many states closed their public and private campgrounds. National parks closed, along with BLM and National Forest campgrounds, and private RV parks in California stopped taking new reservations. Most of our hard fought East coast trip reservations from the gulf states, Florida and up the East coast cancelled about the time we hit Arizona.

All of our trip plans changed in March of 2020, but the reality is different for everyone, and for some it was devastating. Families separated, jobs lost, businesses trashed after years of hard work. A pandemic of this magnitude is communal and far reaching, but in this writer’s opinion it is always important to think global, act local. Make plans as close to home and family as you can with the big picture in mind. We can all see the results of a big centrally planned pandemic reaction handed down to the most individual outcomes.

Reality determines next steps

Everyone has been affected by this pandemic and it’s the reality that determines our next steps. Our governors all had different realities to deal with. Each county board and city mayor had their own different set of issues. Each business and each family, right down to each individual in this country, all had a different reality, perspective, and level of impact given their own health, financial, and work situations.

We got lucky in that we had already planned to be on the road, away from family, for six months while our house was leased and we continued our “work from the road experiment” that we did last year as well. We planned to travel and work in our RV from different locations along the East coast. Our income was not determined by an “employer” and we had the open road to look forward to.

When the full impact of this pandemic hit us, we had to factor hospital capacity and infection rates for personal health reasons in the state where we landed; Arizona. In mid-March it was about flattening the curve to increase hospital capacity. At the time, we felt that we had landed in the perfect place within a great state to ride out a pandemic. So our reality and our options were in the “very good” category compared to the heartbreaking situation others were dealing with.

Arizona decided not to close public and private campgrounds. This was good for us from an occupancy standpoint because it turns out that the end of March is when the snowbirds from Canada and the Northern states leave places like Tucson and Phoenix. There is a golf saying that applies; better to be lucky than good. I love golf!

There are over 2 million snowbirds that flock to Arizona in the Winter, then leave in early April. 300,000 of them are RV’ers. The prime minister told his Canadian flock that insurance wasn’t going to cover them in Arizona past April, so they left early. The end result was a timely increase in Arizona campground capacity. Again, lucky.

So, even though many of the national park options were closed to us, we had state and private campground options that we could string together throughout the state. Social distancing? There is no better way to socially or physically distance than to go camping. Thank God Arizona and Utah both kept their state facilities open to RV’ers. Both governors implemented a thoughtful approach resulting in a very low impact on RV’ers, as well as the local economy. Again, lucky.

The evolution of the COVID-19 reality

As I write this, we’re 2 months into lock down. After following the news day in and day out, scouring CDC and WorldoMeter website stats, reviewing medical journals, and listening to politicians drone on, we find ourselves with a different and much clearer view of this pandemic today vs mid-March, and we’re not very happy about what we see.

When a news reporter, commentator, author, or politicians says that our economy was destroyed due to COVID-19, I have to pause and remember that it wasn’t the virus that shut down the economy, it was the politicians. Sure, I still think it was necessary but I have a different opinion today…

So, now that we’ve collectively evolved to understand the impact, the control and the options we have over this virus and how it can affect our lives, what do we do? How do we act?

When there is no direct answer to a question, we rely on principle to guide our actions. I believe that it is now time to take personal responsibility for ourselves and for our loved ones. I don’t trust politicians to make good decisions. Everyone acts in self-interest, but the difference between us and politicians acting in our own self-interest is outcome.

The decisions always need to be made locally at home, in the communities, with guidance from the state and federal authorities. However, it’s now time to calculate our own next steps with our businesses, with our family, with our events, and with our tribes.

Until we have treatment and/or herd immunity through vaccine or infection, we need to think of others, be smart, follow CDC guidelines, and yet live. Think globally, act locally.

Life doesn’t happen when we live in fear, life happens when we take chances to progress, to move, to build, to change, and to conquer. Yes, we can and eventually will die. The circle of life renews at death and we do all we can to balance life and death every day with the personal decisions we all make.

It’s time to take the power away from the elite politicians and let local economies in local communities decide how they emerge from this disaster. Liberty and freedom does mean more to people than fear and safety, even if some don’t realize it.

Let’s go camping!

Why I Purchased the RV SnapPad for my 5th Wheel

If you own an RV, or are in the market for one, you need to consider this product. I don’t rave about much, but in this case I need to share because this RV jack pad makes a huge difference when leveling your rig.

5th wheel using RV SnapPadsSometimes called an ‘RV leveling pad’ or ‘motorhome jack pad’, these are essentially shoes for your RV. Most leveling jacks have metal feet which holds up the weight of your rig. Most RV owners simply use blocks or plastic snap pads to cushion the stress.

The problem is that a metal jack, set on top of the ground, a wood or plastic block, or a brick, is not stable. Not only do your jacks get torn up, but they’re a pain to set each time. The metal jack can slip against the block, especially at a site that isn’t level.

When we purchased our new 5th wheel last year, the service guy said, “look, I don’t make a commission on this product, but the best jack pads out there are SnapPads. Order them online, they’ll be there when you get home, you’ll be glad you bought them.”

RV SnapPad installedHe explained the concept, it made sense; a durable hard rubber shoe for your jack that stays on the jack. It protects the jack and provides grip with whatever it meets to hold up your rig, whether it be ground or block. I took the advice and I’m so glad I did, mainly for two reasons:

  1. Because they work. I did 8,000 miles last summer along with dozens of other smaller trips since we bought the RV, those pads saved time, aggravation, and provided peace of mind knowing that my 3 ton rig wasn’t going to slip off the blocks. I press auto level and I’m set.
  2. Customer service. It turns out that didn’t install one of the pads correctly, and after a year of heavy use, I hit a tire tread on the freeway. The rear wheel of my truck kicked it up and hit the front ShapPad that was damaged. I watched it fall off in the side mirror… lost. I had to buy a replacement. When the company learned about my mishap through my product review, they promptly credited my replacement purchase and called to follow up. Wow. Who provides that kind of service these days?

So, for those two reasons, I simply had to share in a bigger way than just an online review. If you’re in the market for jack pads, or you’re tired of buying plastic lego blocks, I recommend looking at RV SnapPads. The product works, and the company is first class.