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Toy Haulers – Where To Go?

In the last installment we looked at the recent popularity of toy haulers. They are a great way to transport your entire family and all the toys to a fun filled destination of playing and camping. If you are new to off-roading or thinking about joining this family friendly lifestyle, you may be asking, “where can one go to camp and ride?” This a great question and periodically in the months and years to come this blog will occasionally suggest places to go camp and play.

Henderson Flat in Central Oregon will be featured this week.

Henderson Flat 1

One of Many Campsites

Henderson Flat OHV trail system is part of the Crooked River National Grassland and features open stands of juniper spread over rolling hills and interspersed with vividly stunning red rimrock breaks. The trails rise above the Deschutes Basin with great views of the Cascade Range to the west. The area encompasses 1,480 acres and ranges  in elevation from 3,000 to 3,400 feet.

The area offers scenic campsites among the trees, sweet dual track mixed in with a few dirt roads, well signed and maintained trails with other loops of varying length, mountain views, easy to difficult rated trails, hill climbs, open play areas, a beginners loop, light crowds and more.

The trail system is designed for quads, three-wheelers or motorcycles less than 50″ wide. Off-highway vehicles are allowed on designated routes and areas only. If it is not signed as open, it is closed.  The trails are open to horses, mountain bikes and other recreationists, so please watch out for others and share the trails.

Henderson Flat 2

Scenic Trails

The trail area is open from April 1 through November 30. The best riding is cooler in early spring and late fall. Mid-July through September can be hot and dry, making riding uncomfortable. During periods of extreme fire conditions the trails may be closed to public use.

The trails and facilities were developed and are being maintained for your enjoyment through a cooperative effort by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon ATV Fund, Central Oregon Motorcycle and ATV Club and many other volunteers.  Maps are available online here.


Dispersed campsites make up the bulk of the camping opportunities at Henderson Flat. The staging area is limited and will not hold a large number of RVs. The staging area features a vault toilet and loading ramp for your convenience. The dispersed camping areas provide ample room for large groups of off road vehicles and RVs. The graveled roads leading into the Henderson Flat dispersed camping areas are well maintained and suitable for larger RVs. There is no water available in the riding area. There is no garbage service provided; pack it in, pack it out applies.

 Campfires are permitted, but the Forest Service requests that you  please keep them small and don’t leave them unattended. High winds and dry conditions can fuel a wildfire even at unlikely times of the year.  Please limit your stay to 14 days.

Getting There:

From Madras: Drive South on Highway 97 for 14.9  miles. Turn left on Park Lane and travel east for 2.3 miles.

From Redmond: Drive north on highway 97 for approximately 10 miles. Turn right on

Park Lane and travel east for 2.3 miles.

You will find the intersection of Hwy 97 and Park Lane at N44 25.160  W121 11.932

You will find the staging area at: N44 25.814  W121 08.762


All major services are available in Redmond or Madras.

Rules and Regulations:

 Operator requirements:

-   Operators with a suspended or revoked driver’s license may not operate any class ATV

- All youth under age 16 must hold a valid ATV Safety Education Card

- All youth under age 16 operating an ATV on public lands must be supervised by an adult who is at least  18 years old and holds a valid ATV Safety Education Card and can provide immediate assistance and direction to the children

- Youth and any passengers under age 18 must wear a DOT approved helmet with the chin strap fastened

-   All youth under age 16 must meet all the following minimum physical size requirements as set by the manufacturer                          

 Vehicle must have:

- ATV Sticker (Operating Permit)

- USFS approved spark arrestor

- Muffler under 99db


For Additional Information:

Crooked River National Grassland
813 S.W. Hwy. 97
Madras, OR   97741

Toy Haulers

The last decade brought about a transformation in the RV industry. For years, RV owners have desired to take their motorcycles, scooters or ATVs with them on camping trips. However, they had to get creative to do so by adding carriers to the back of their RV, building decks for their pick-up truck beds, taking two vehicles or making two trips to carry everything.

Toy Hauler

To solve this dilemma, many RV manufacturers began building garages into the rear of their 5th wheels, travel trailers and more recently motorhomes allowing RV owners to take along their motorized toys when they hit the great outdoors. These soon became known as “toy haulers“.

Toy haulers come in virtually every size from small travel trailers to a full size class A motorhome that has all the comforts of home, plus some. Many include queen size beds, spacious bathrooms with tubs, gourmet kitchens and microwave ovens along with large flat screen TVs hooked to a satellite receiver. 5th wheel toy haulers typically provide the largest garages and payload.

Toy haulers feature a fold down ramp for loading and unloading your toys and other equipment. Most garages are very sturdy and well-constructed being lined with diamond plate or other durable material along with tie downs to secure your toys for transit. Toy haulers are designed to carry a lot of equipment and to get you where your preferred recreational activity occurs. Most will have an onboard generator, or a place to carry one, so you won’t even need to seek out hookups. Many are also equipped with an onboard fueling station, eliminating the need to carry or store fuel cans.

When you are finished playing for the day or just need a break, you will be able to relax in your toy hauler, enjoy a home cooked meal, watch a little TV, take a shower and sleep in comfort all within a climate controlled environment.

Toy haulers are priced comparably with other  RVs of the same size and type. When considering the purchase of a toy hauler it all comes down to the type and size of toys you want to take along, where you want to go, the time of year you will use it and how much you should spend.

Toy Hauler 1

There are new and used toy haulers that will fit most tow vehicles, lifestyles and budgets.  Because of the extra material needed to construct a stout garage and the undercarriage to carry the weight of your gear, toy haulers are heavier than similar sized conventional RVs requiring at least a ¾ ton truck to safely pull them. There is no better place to shop and compare toy haulers than at a RV show where all the types and brands are together in one location.

Toy haulers provide active RVers and their toys with access to adventurous places all across this great land of ours to explore. If this is you, then be sure to consider a toy hauler when shopping for your next RV, you can take your toys with you while enjoying all the creature comforts RVs provide.

RV Road Trip Fun & Games

The middle of June means school is out, or is about to be out and parents are thinking about taking much-needed time away from work. What a great time to load up the kids in the RV and escape for a summer vacation.

Summer RV Fun

Let the fun begin to roll as soon as you leave your driveway. Enjoy the drive time on the way to your destination by passing the time with some tried and true games from yesteryear. Before there were portable electronics, in car DVD players and CD players, kids had to entertain themselves with games that made them aware of their surroundings.  Below is a list of the most popular time tested games that have entertained generations for miles and miles on long road trips. The odds are your kids will love them as well.

However, if your kids can’t survive without an electronic device in their hand, you can still enjoy your childhood favorites as there is an app for that. Go to the app store and type in GetAWAY. Go RVing and have modernized some of the classic road trip games like license plate bingo, destination alphabet and drive and spy into an interactive app that will keep the family entertained for miles.

Summer RV Fun 2

Alphabet Game

How to Play: The objective is to find words outside the vehicle and NOT on any other vehicle that begin with the letters of the alphabet, starting with the letter “A.” Once a player calls out an object they see with the letter “A,” they move on to the letter “B.” The other players continue to look for items that begin with the letter “A.” You cannot use the same word that another player has used for a particular letter. For the letter “X,” an “ex” word can be used, such as “exit” or “exhaust.” However, if “exit” was used for the “e” word, it cannot be used for the “X” word. The first player to reach the letter “Z” wins the game.

Game Notes: Mom and/or Dad may need to act as referee if more than one player sees and says the word at the same time. The one who calls out the word first gets the word.


Animal Game

How to Play: Each player thinks of an animal. Other players then take turns asking simple questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” (For example: Is it a reptile? Does it have four legs? Can it be a pet?) Guessing continues until either the animal is identified or everyone gives up. It is then the next person’s turn to think of an animal. There is no scoring and no winner need be identified. This game helps kids use logic to solve problems.


Are We There Yet?

What You’ll Need:

  • A map of the territory you will be covering on your trip. Take it to somewhere like Kinko’s or Mailboxes Etc. and photocopy it in black and white.
  • A folder to hold the map and keep it neat
  • Light-colored crayons, colored pencils, markers

How to Play: Mark the starting point and ending point for the day on the map. During the trip, the kids can color the map with light colors only so that they can still see the words through the colors. They can only ask you, “Where are we now?” That way they can look at their own map and keep track of where you are on the trip. Only YOU can ask THEM the question, “Are we there yet?” This way, not only will the kids have fun and keep busy for a while, they can also learn to read a map, learn about mileage and learn to keep a lookout for the road signs necessary to find on a trip.


Bury Your Horses

What You’ll Need:

  • Two eyes and a mouth

How to Play: Everyone in the vehicle watches for horses and cemeteries. The first person to see a horse claims that horse and gets to add it to their count. The first person to see a cemetery shouts out “Bury Your Horses!” and everyone else but the shouter’s horse count goes back to zero. Repeat. The first one who counts 50 horses wins!


Car Color

How to Play: Everyone in the vehicle names the color of the next car they will see in oncoming traffic. No two players can select the same color at the same time. Whoever gets the most right wins.

Game Notes: ?Instead of color, you can use vehicle type: Jeep, pickup, minivan, 18 wheeler, etc.


Car Color (variation)

 What You’ll Need:

  • Pad or sheet of paper
  • Pencil

How to Play: Everyone chooses one car color. Each person playing should have a different color. Set a time limit, say 10 minutes or half an hour. Now keep your eyes open for cars that are your color and put tally marks on your pad. At the end of the time, the one with the most tally marks is the winner. You might want to write down the color you are looking for on the top of your page. For younger children, take a crayon and color on the top of the page to help them remember what they are looking for. When the game is over, take a short break and do it again.

Game Notes: After you have played the game once, everyone switches colors and plays again for the same time. Continue until everyone has had a chance to look for each different color. Another variation is for everyone to look for a specific kind of vehicle, such as truck, camper, SUV, car, 18 wheeler, etc. The choices will depend on the age of the children playing. At the end of the time limit, see which kind of vehicle was seen the most.


Comic Strip Game

How to Play: Prior to your trip, Mom or Dad can cut up a cartoon strip into individual squares. Then, mix up the squares and place them in an envelope or paper clip them together. On the road, kids will have fun trying to put the squares back in their original order by taping or gluing the strips onto a sheet of paper.

Game Notes: ?For a challenge, cut up two or more comic strips for the kids to put back together.


Commercial Game

How to Play: Players take turns thinking of a commercial slogan or jingle, such as “Double your pleasure, double your fun” for Doublemint Gum. The other players take turns guessing what the product is. Players can assign points for each winning guess. The first player to earn a certain number of points, such as 10, wins.


Cow Game

How to Play: Each person (or team, if there are four or more players) is assigned the right or left windows of the vehicle. Each person (or team) counts the number of cows they see out “their” side. Cows are counted until the trip is completed. The catch? If a cemetery is spotted on “their” side of the road, “their” cows must be “buried,” and they begin counting cows again, starting from zero. The side with the most cows at the end of the trip wins. If you are traveling in an area without cows, the game could be played with other objects, such as mailboxes.



What You’ll Need:

  • Good eyes
  • License plates with five (only five) numbers
  • Someone to keep score on a piece of paper

How to Play: Arrange the five numbers to get the best cribbage hand. Take turns until the first player reaches 121 points. This helped us to teach our kids to count.


Dictionary Memory

How to Play: One person picks a letter out of the alphabet. Starting with the next person in line, that person says a word that comes to mind beginning with the letter that was chosen. The game continues on to each person, and a time limit is set for trying to remember a word. Eventually each person is eliminated.


Goin’ On A Trip

 What You’ll Need:

  • Nothing

How to Play: Take turns going around the group. First player says, “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to take a(n) (object beginning with letter “A”).” The second player repeats the phrase including the first item and adds an item beginning with the letter “B.” Play continues through group until last turn, which names 26 items “A” through “Z.”


Grandma’s Cat

What You’ll Need:

  • Mouth

How to Play: First player says, “Grandma’s cat is ____,” finishing the sentence with a one-word description starting with letter “A” (like “adorable”). Second player must use letter “B” (like “black”), and so on. Great vocabulary builder, and older kids like it, too.


Grocery Store Game

What You’ll Need:

  • Total concentration!

How to Play: ?First person starts with letter “A” by saying, “I went to the grocery store today and bought some apples.” Second person has to repeat from letter “A,” “I went to the grocery store today and bought some apples and bread.” Continue on with as many people as you want, going all the way through the alphabet. The first person to make a mistake is out, and then you keep going with the remaining players until you have a winner.

Game Notes: The best is when you buy items other than groceries.


License Plate Challenge

What You’ll Need:

  • Good pair of eyes
  • Your brain :)

How to Play: Player(s) look out the windows while on the highway and search for different license plates (plates of other states/provinces). Begin by saying what state or province that plate is from (in the beginning, it can be any plate), and the player(s) then have to find a license plate beginning with the last letter of the first plate (for example, if a player finds a Vermont plate, they must find a license plate beginning with the letter “T” (for example, Tennessee, Texas, etc.). Game stops when player(s) can’t find a state/province with that plate or when player(s) give up.

Game Notes:? For states or provinces with two or more words (like New York), search for a plate beginning with “K” (e.g., Kansas). Game can also be played the same way with anything else (e.g., car makes/models, animals, guessing cities, etc.).


List Game

What You’ll Need:

  • A list of items made up for each person or team. Can be made ahead of time.

How to Play: Each person or team gets a list of 10 to 15 things that you may see while driving. Each list is different (for example, police car, wishing well, airplane, weeping willow tree, white cat, church steeple, riding lawn mower, no exit sign, golf course and pizza shop). The first one who gets everything on their list wins.

Game Notes:? You can vary the difficulty of the lists depending on the ages playing. We find all ages enjoy this game. It can stretch over several days sometimes, depending on the length and difficulty of the lists.


Memory Game

How to Play: This game can be played by any number of players, but the level of difficulty increases with the number of players. Players choose a category, such as sports. The first player names a sport, such as baseball. The next player then repeats that sport and adds another sport, such as football. The game continues until a player fails to name one of the items in the correct order. New categories can be chosen and the game can begin again.


Name Game

How to Play: Players first decide on a category of names, such as TV or movie stars, musicians, athletes, etc. One player begins by naming someone in that category, such as Michael Jordan. The next player then names someone beginning with the same letter as the last name of Jordan, such as Joe Montana. Players take turns until someone gives up. The game can begin again with a different category.

Game Notes: If you are playing with more than two players, you can add this challenge. If Player 1 says “Daffy Duck” and Player 2 says “Donald Duck,” it is Player 1’s turn again rather than Player 3’s turn. This is because Player 2 named someone whose first and last names had the same initials as Player 1.


Pack Your Bags

What You’ll Need:

  • 2-10 players

How to Play: As you go around the circle, have each player name an item that starts with that person’s name. Or to make the game more challenging, have the item rhyme with the player’s name (for example, if the player’s name is Paul, he could bring the pots and pans).



What You’ll Need:

  • Your eyes
  • Nighttime

How to Play:? Have at least two players watching traffic in either direction. When you see a car with only one headlight, say “Padital” and tap the roof of whatever you are riding in. A car or truck with a “Padital” is worth 1 point, a bus is worth 5 points, an 18-wheeler is worth 10 and a police car automatically wins the game. The game is usually played to 25, but it can go on for however long you want. Remember to have fun while playing.

Game Notes: ?Best if played at night.


Picture Game

How to Play: ?One player draws a picture or shape on a piece of paper, but does not show it to the other players. He or she then describes the picture, one element at a time. For example, “one vertical line on the left side of the page.” Then, “a half circle across the top of the page,” etc. The player who comes closest to drawing the picture correctly gets a chance to draw a picture or shape, and the game starts over again.


Popcorn Counting

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 people minimum
  • 4+ is better

How to Play: One person starts the game by counting the number “one” out loud. Someone else has to follow that with “two,” and so on. The idea is for anyone to jump in and count the next number (there is no such thing as turns). The catch is that if two (or more!) people speak at the same time, everything starts back over at “one.” See how high you can count, or try to beat your own record!

Game Notes: Setting up patterns or signals about who is going to say the next number is off-limits. The more people playing, the more challenging (and fun) it is! Wonderfully simple, challenging and addictive.


Rainy Day Easter Egg Hunt

What You’ll Need:

  • Colored paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape

How to Play: Just because it rains or is too cold to go outside on your Easter camping trip doesn’t mean you can’t have the fun of an Easter Egg Hunt! Space is often limited in RVs, so this is an easy and fun way to have a hunt despite the weather. Cut out egg shapes with the colored paper. Now these can be hidden nearly anywhere! Tape them to the back of cupboard doors, poking out between folded clothing, even on the ceiling! (Be careful using tape on certain surfaces; some reusable sticking putty may work better.)

Game Notes:

  1. Each egg could be “worth” a certain prize, which is written on the egg, such as “chocolate bar” or “peanut butter egg.”
  2. Different shapes can be used for different seasons, such as gingerbread men at Christmas or stars on Independence Day.
  3. Eggs can also be colorfully decorated with markers, glitter, etc. Be sure to let them dry before using them.


Reading License Plate Game

How to Play: Observe license plates on other vehicles and “read” what they “say.” For example, the plate “007-BVD” could be read as “James Bond’s underwear.” (And, yes, we have seen this one!)

Game Notes: ?Vowels may be added to make up words. For example, the plate “001-LVR” could be read as “Number one lover.”


Travel Bingo

What You’ll Need:

  • A pencil and a sheet of paper for each player with the name of states randomly marked in rows five across and five down like a bingo card
  • Each card marked differently. Can be prepared ahead of time by a family member.

How to Play: Each player has his or her own bingo card to work from and searches for vehicles with the states on their card. First person to get a row calls bingo. More games can continue by erasing the boxes covered, and four corners, the letter “L” or “T,” or blackout can be played, as in regular bingo games.

Game Notes: Road symbols can be used instead of license plates (stop sign, railroad crossing, school zone, pedestrian crossing, etc.).


Treasure Map Game

How to Play: Prior to your trip, Mom or Dad prepares a treasure hunt on an old or unused map. Begin with one place as “Start.” Determine where “Finish” will be and write it down separately. Describe points along the way, such as “go north at park,” “turn right at bridge,” then “take Chester Street,” etc. When the kids think they know the “Finish” destination, have them circle it on the map. Then see if they are correct.

Game Notes: If there is more than one player, the kids can make up treasure maps for each other.


Word Game

What You’ll Need:

  • Nothing except your ears and mouth

How to Play: The first person says a word that starts with the letter “A” like “apple.” The next player will then have to say a word that starts with the last letter of that word, which in this case would be “E,” so they could say “elevator.” This keeps going until someone gives up.


Family Fun Weekend!

Looking for a weekend RV getaway that is fun for the whole family? Don’t want to travel more than a hour from Seattle?  Do the camping fees and activities need to be affordable?

Then head to Denny Creek Campground and enjoy. The campground is located along the south fork of the Snoqualmie River in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, offering visitors stunning scenery and easy access to an abundance of recreational activities. Following are a couple of the family activities that await you.


Franklin Falls

The Franklin Falls Trail (No. 1036) starts just east of the campground past the group sites. The trail travels along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River through the forest, gently climbing above the river on the way to the falls. There are a few roots, some rocks and several stairs to climb along the way, but it is still easy for even the youngest hiker. Fences and bridges keep curious children from cliffs and other hazards. The trail passes within sight of Road No. 58 (the old Sunset Highway) a couple of times en route to the falls. Just before the trail descends to Franklin Falls it comes to a signed junction. The trail to the right is the upper end of the Wagon Road Trail, straight ahead are the falls. Overall, the Franklin Falls trail is in great shape, but the last few yards of steep rock could be treacherous when wet. Hold on to young hands through this section. Upon reaching the falls, an impressive 70 foot drop into a crystal clear pool, there is a large gravel bar for splashing, enjoying a picnic or throwing rocks. Those brave enough to challenge the icy water can swim or wade here. During the spring snow melt, the spray can create quite chilling, so be prepared. Even in summer it can be cool, as the sun doesn’t make it into the canyon until late morning or early afternoon. Plan to bring a light coat if you want to linger. The large bridge above and to the left of the falls are the westbound lanes of I-90.

Return to the campground via the historic Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road (Trail No. 1021) mentioned above. Though the trail is not as well maintained as the Franklin Falls Trail, it will give you an idea of what our RVing forefathers had to travel over with their covered wagons a hundred plus years ago. The historic trail is a remnant of the Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road dating from the 1860s. Other than a sign on Road No. 58 and one near Franklin Falls, the trail is not well signed. The trail crosses Road No. 58 three times and only cedar posts mark the path, although you can clearly see the swales caused by years of wagon travel.

What Lies Below

Franklin Falls.
Note people at bottom right for scale



Not even adults can resist the slippery waterslides on the Denny Creek Trail, a summer favorite for travelers of all ages. Denny Creek Trail No. 1014 begins from the trailhead at the end of Road No. 5830 (Across the river and north a couple hundred feet up the road from the Franklin Falls Trailhead). In the summer this trailhead fills up with cars early, so be thankful you have a nice place to park your RV in the campground.

The trail is wide and easy to follow as it makes a modest climb through the forest. Several ancient trees grace the trail along the way and spur trails lead to better views of Denny Creek. Children should be discouraged from using the spur trails due to steep terrain and lack of guardrails.  After about half a mile, you will cross Denny Creek on a rustic bridge, shortly thereafter you will pass under westbound I-90. Be sure to look up and watch the traffic streaking across the drain grates high above you. Just over a mile from the trailhead, the trail crosses the creek again. You have now arrived at the waterslides. Descend to the creek, take off your shoes and refresh yourself in the mountain stream water. The water-scoured rock slabs provide smooth chutes for youngsters and the young at heart to slide down. Sheets of clear water fan out and spill down the rocks in all directions. The area is relatively safe for children, unless the water is high from snowmelt. If you love waterfalls, journey north to the top of the waterslides, there you will find a picturesque cascade worthy of a visit. Hikers wanting more exercise can continue up the trail to Keekwulee Falls (1 1/2 miles from the trailhead) and Snowshoe Falls a bit further. Beautiful Melakwa Lake is further yet (4 ½ miles from the trailhead).

What Lies Below - slides

Water Slides


There are no fees involved to enjoy the above two family hikes if you depart from the campground. If you choose to park at the trailheads, you will need to display a NW Forest Service Pass in your vehicle.

Now you know where to go to have a fun filled family weekend in the RV for under $50 plus fuel for a 100 mile round trip. Enjoy!

When you go…

Getting there: From Seattle, take I-90 east to Exit 47 (before Snoqualmie Pass). Turn left at the stop sign and cross to the north (left) side of the freeway. At the “T,” turn right. Travel one quarter mile and turn left on Denny Creek Road No. 58. Continue for approximately 2 miles to the campground entrance on the left.

Note: The campground can also be accessed from Snoqualmie Pass via the east end of Road No. 58. This route contains two very tight switchbacks and is not recommended for longer RVs.

Camping: Denny Creek Campground is located between the east and west bound lanes of I-90, yet there is surprisingly very little traffic noise that can be heard since the freeway lanes are above the campground on the mountain slopes. Another surprising fact about Denny Creek is that it is a USFS campground containing water and electric hookup sites. Stays are limited to no more than 14 days out of 30. Eleven of the sites have power and water, the rest do not. The group site has two hookup boxes with 30 amp hookups. There is room in the group site for more than two RVs though. The campground is one of the few USFS campgrounds that was built with larger RVs in mind. Allowable RV length is 35 feet, with a few suitable for up to 40 feet. Current rates are $24 for electric, $20 for non electric sites.

Pets: Leashed pets are welcome in the campground and on the trails.

Trail data: Franklin Falls is two miles round trip from the campground with 200 feet elevation gain. Denny Creek waterslides are 2 1/2 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 500 feet.


Backing Up Your New RV

Are you a new RV owner after attending the RV show? If you answered yes, congratulations, you are about to embark on a very enjoyable lifestyle. Now it is time to load your RV with your personal gear, fill it with propane, water, fuel and head out on your first camping trip.

Regardless of the RV type (towable or motorized), for many new RVers the biggest challenge of the new lifestyle is backing up the RV. Even seasoned RVers will inform you that backing into a campsite is often the most stressful part of an otherwise enjoyable trip. Safety experts teach the acronym of GOAL to keep things simple and safe. Many RVers have adopted this acronym as well. Following is one of many GOAL descriptions you will find online:

“What’s your goal? To get the rig SAFELY backed into the campsite with as little fuss as possible. Notice we put safety first. There’s much to be said about that. Fuss is at the other end of the spectrum. Yes, if you’re in a crowded campground we know there’ll be plenty of rubber-neckers who will have nothing better to do than watch you struggle to get into the site. For most, though, it gets better with practice.

So what’s the GOAL method? You may have guessed, it’s an acronym. Get Out And Look. There’s really no substitute for physically removing yourself from the behind the wheel and walking back and eyeballing your parking situation. Backup cameras are great, a spotting helper can do much, but just eyeing it with your own peepers will do more to help you get a feel for what you’re doing than any other method.


One RVer put it well when he said he backs part-way into the site, hops out, eyeballs, then backs more, and repeats the process. He admitted that it wasn’t as impressive as being able to simply back in the rig in one sweep, but you’re far safer with the multiple visualization method. Don’t just look at what you might hit with your bumper, either. Look UP to catch low hanging branches that might hit the roof or roof-mounted units. Ensure you have room to extend your slide outs, too.

And when using the GOAL system, DON’T succumb to the “Are we there yet?” crowd. Keep the kids strapped in the tow unit, even if you have a spotter working with you. The spotter will be more concerned about keeping an eye on the kids and your chances of hitting something greatly increased.”

Enjoy your new RV and remember to employ the GOAL method when backing into your first campsite. Happy trails!

Manufactured Housing Day at The Puyallup RV Show

A bonus feature you will find at the 2014 Puyallup RV Show are two landscaped and fully decorated manufactured homes on display. To highlight manufacturing housing and the leisure lifestyle they offer, opening day Thursday May 1st has been designated Manufactured Housing Day at the show. By attending Manufactured Housing Day, you will not only learn about all the benefits of manufactured housing, but you can save too! Purchase your tickets ONLINE and receive $3 off opening day admission compliments of DeTray’s Custom Housing, Lakeview Meadows, Skyline Homes and Palm Harbor Homes, sponsors of Manufactured Housing Day.

MHD 66

The Palm Harbor Home displayed by DeTray’s of Olympia can be built to suit varying needs. Del DeTray states, “The Palm  Harbor Home displayed at this years Puyallup Show is very flexible, it can be a “Man Cave” (as is it is displayed at the show) or we can build it as a “Double Master Suite” with 3 bathrooms. It also can be ideal for a family as it can be built as a 3 or 4 bedroom home with a home office. It is a great open concept home and has lots of storage in the kitchen with the availability of an added built on garage.”


Wouldn’t This Look Nice of Your Vacation Property!

DeTray’s Custom Housing based out of the South Hill of Puyallup will be displaying Skyline’s, “Scenic Beauty”. This country home featuring rustic wood siding, cozy fireplace, natural wood interior doors and trim, plus a very inviting front porch would be eye candy for anyone’s lake front vacation property.

Why manufactured housing at a RV Show? Many attending the Puyallup Show are searching for something to place on their vacation property. While a RV or park model makes sense some of the time, a manufactured home may be a better solution. A typical RV is built for weekend getaways and a week or two long family vacation, not for long periods of occupancy like manufactured homes can withstand. Manufactured homes offer better value than other housing solutions. Since manufactured homes are built to a different set of standards than RVs or recreational park models, the cost per square foot is often considerably less. For what you would pay for a nice 400 square foot fifth wheel or park model, you are likely able to buy nearly 800 square feet worth of a residential styled manufactured home. Maybe you have been considering a site built home for your vacation property. Once again, manufactured homes are a better solution. Consider the following: finding a builder to construct your vacation home can be a difficult task. Most onsite builders subcontract the majority of the work to other businesses such as plumbers, electricians and roofers making scheduling difficult and in many cases driving the cost of the total project through the roof. If your vacation property is in a rural area the cost rises even more as all these sub-contractors add for their travel time. With a manufactured home these costs are controlled in a factory setting. Building in a factory maximizes efficiency, eliminates mistakes and there is never a construction delay due to the weather. Manufactured homes are fast too! Once your site is prepared for a manufactured home, the home can be delivered, set up and ready for you to occupy in a matter of weeks, not months. The quick installations that manufactured homes offer make them a great option for areas with short building seasons like the mountains too.

Manufactured homes also make the perfect retirement home for RVers on the go. Since manufactured homes are built indoors to a national building code (unlike conventional site built homes) they are better built requiring less care and maintenance than their site built equivalent allowing RVers to spend more time on the road and less time on home repairs. For even a more carefree retirement experience consider placing your manufactured home in a 55 plus park like Lakeview Meadows.


Today’s Manufactured Home!

Quite often manufactured homes are also suitable as auxiliary dwelling units. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) also referred to as accessory apartments, second units, or granny flats, are additional living quarters on single-family lots that are independent of the primary dwelling unit. The separate living spaces are equipped with kitchen and bath­room facilities and can either be attached or detached from the main residence. These are a great choice for an aging relative, college student/young adult who needs a place to call their own, or as a guest suite.

As you can see, manufactured homes are very versatile and can serve for a variety of housing needs including a vacation home on the lake.

Be sure to attend Manufactured Housing Day and take a look at what today’s manufactured home offers. While you are there be sure to thank our sponsors DeTray’s Custom Housing, Lakeview Meadows, Skyline Homes and Palm Harbor Homes for the discount on admission.


Seminars Return to the Puyallup RV Show


After a hiatus of several years, seminars will be returning to the 2014 Puyallup RV Show May 1st – 4th at the Washington State Fair and Events Center.

Everyone’s favorite and nationally acclaimed speaker Gary Bunzer “The RV Doctor” will be headlining the seminars at the Puyallup RV Show sharing his technical knowledge of today’s sophisticated RVs. He will present the following four seminars at the show:


Gary Bunzer “The RV Doctor”

Technically Choosing Your Next RV presented by Gary Bunzer “The RV Doctor”

You are considering purchasing either your first RV or perhaps a brand new RV. You’ve perused and studied many articles and websites on how to “choose” the coach of your dreams. You finally narrowed the field of possibilities down to your own version of the Final Four; now what? Toss those names into a hat and hope for the best? Why not compare your short list from a more technical standpoint? It just may highlight important differences between two or more seemingly similar coaches. Learn what to look for in this informative seminar.


10 Important RV Facts of Life presented by Gary Bunzer “The RV Doctor”

Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, has seen it all over the last 45 years in the RV business. Over time, the Doc has collected a few RV Facts of Life. Learn how to cope with and even take advantage of these non-negotiable RV realities. If you want to get the most out of your recreational investment, this seminar is for you.


Optimizing the 12-volt Battery Systems presented by Gary Bunzer “The RV Doctor”                

Without question, the majority of today’s technical problems associated with RVs involve one of the 12-volt battery systems.  Rarely, if ever, does any RV, new or used, leave the dealer’s lot or its home base with all battery systems operating at optimum performance. In order to optimize the DC battery system, some configurations are better than others. In this seminar, Gary explains why and how to determine if your battery bank is balanced and being charged correctly and completely.
The Spring Shakedown (aka De-Winterizing) presented by Gary Bunzer “The RV Doctor”

After each period of non-use, regardless if the motorhome was winterized, simply sat in the backyard, or was kept in a secure garage, every coach must be thoroughly prepped before being put back into service. Though procedures and processes may differ slightly, every owner must at some point, go through the ritual of what is termed, the Spring Shakedown. Gary explains how to accomplish this task without letting something “fall through the cracks.”

Once you have learned which RV fits your needs and Gary has safely taught you how to operate the house portion of your RV (or soon to be RV), what about driving it down the road? Not to worry, as Lorrin Walsh of RV Drive Smart Publications will be presenting a daily seminar and conducting two Live RV Driving Workshops.


Drive Your RV Like a Pro presented by Lorrin Walsh

This informative seminar will guide you through the do’s and don’ts of safely maneuvering your house on wheels down the road regardless if it is a motorized or towable RV. Even if you have years of experience you are likely to learn a thing or two from Lorrin as he shares secrets learned in his 30+ plus years of driving big rigs.


Lorrin Walsh

Live RV Driving Workshops:

- Motorhome Maneuvers: In this 45 minute workshop industry expert Lorrin Walsh will demonstrate the tips and tricks professional drivers use to safely negotiate today’s motorhomes

- Fifth Wheel Backing & Turning: Towing and backing a fifth wheel is considerably different than a conventional travel trailer. Join Lorrin Walsh of RV Drive Smart as he demonstrates the ins and outs of maneuvering a fifth wheel.  After attending this workshop you will be able back up a fifth wheel with confidence.

Torklift presenter

Matt Lynch from Torklift


Proper Dinghy Towing presented by Matt Lynch of Torklift

Are you a motorhome owner looking to pull a second vehicle? Are you bewildered by the various methods available to you? Then attend the Proper Dinghy Towing seminar where you will learn what equipment you will need to safely tow your dinghy.


Proper Travel Trailer Towing presented by Matt Lynch of Torklift

Trunnions, L bars, receivers, sway controls, ….. determining what you need to safely tow a travel trailer can be over whelming! Attend the Proper Travel Trailer Towing seminar and learn travel trailer “hitch lingo” and the optimal way to tow your travel trailer.


Proper Fifth Wheel Towing presented by Matt Lynch of Torklift

In the past when it came to fifth wheel hitches you didn’t have a lot of options. Today there are countless manufactures and types of fifth wheel hitches for short bed, long bed and flat bed trucks that adjust in corners, can be easily removed or nearly hidden in the bed of the truck. The Proper Fifth Wheel Towing seminar will explain your choices allowing you to make the right choice to safely pull a fifth wheel with your truck.


Equipping Your Truck to Carry a Camper presented by Matt Lynch of Torklift

If your choice of RV is a truck camper how will you safely carry it on your truck? Mounting and suspension will be topics of discussion at the Equipping Your Truck to Carry a Camper seminar. The correct equipment can make owning a truck camper a safe and enjoyable experience for the whole family.


Finance with Confidence – RV Loans 101 presented by WSECU

Are you considering purchasing a new RV. How do you plan to pay for it? Will you pay cash, take out a second mortgage on your home or obtain conventional financing? Did you know interest on a RV loan can often be a tax deduction? The Finance with Confidence – RV Loans 101 seminar will provide the information you need to make a knowledgeable decision.


Boondocking & Backroads – Planning the ultimate RV adventure                                       Presented by Dave Helgeson

Tired of crowded campgrounds, overrated and expensive attractions, schedules and reservations? Then throw away the AAA guidebook , break free of the typical tourist traps and experience the full freedom and adventure the RV lifestyle offers by attending the Boondocking & Backroads seminar. In this seminar you will learn how to find unique geological formations, historic ruins, forgotten sites and other places of adventure along the backroads of the west. In addition you will learn how to find free places camp (boondock) near the areas you will be exploring.


Now that you know how to plan the ultimate RV adventure, put it to use by planning a trip up north. There are plenty of places to explore and boondock on your way to Alaska and points beyond.


Rambling By RV Through Alaska and Yukon Territory by Nyla Walsh

The land of the midnight sun, it’s the definitive RV journey and on most RVers bucket list. Quit dreaming about it and join author Nyla Walsh as she shares her experiences RVing in Alaska and the adjacent Northern Territories of Canada. You will come away from this seminar with the confidence and knowledge to aim your RV north up the Alaska Highway this summer.


Surveys indicate that the vast majority of RV owners carry a firearm on their travels. If this is you or you plan on becoming a gun owner do you know the laws? Are you carrying it legally? What about in other states? How does the Castle Law apply to those traveling via a motorhome? Northwest Safety First will be presenting two seminars daily to help answer these and other important elements of owning a firearm.

NWSF logo jpeg constant contact


Concealed Carry Permits for RV Travelers presented by Northwest Safety First

How to obtain the proper firearm permits for RV travel in different states, with different laws.  Transporting firearms across state lines in an RV may be a felony in many states.  Understand the firearm laws that affect interstate travelers. Be safe!  Be legal! …..There’s more to it than just reciprocity.


Home Invasion & Burglary Safety presented by Northwest Safety First

You are on a peaceful road trip and the criminals are invading your unoccupied home.  Often, the burglar will have plenty of time to scoop up what he needs and be long gone before a watchful neighbor notices.  Learn how to make your home unattractive to potential invaders.  Learn how to keep your RV safe while on the road or parked for the night.


Choosing a Firearm for RV Travel presented by Northwest Safety First

Shotgun? Rifle? Handgun?  We all carry a fire extinguisher in case of fire. We all carry a first aid kit in case of injury.  Explore the advantages of traveling with a firearm.  For most violent threats while on the road, you will be your own First Responder. With proper training and equipment, a firearm may increase your safety & security while on the road.

Couples Tactics and Defensive Handguns presented by Northwest Safety First

Do you have a Traveling Companion? Team Tactics for couples faced with responding to threats while on the road and in the park. Create a conditioned response and increase personal safety and security while on the road. Strength in numbers.  Two of you are more secure than one of you.


RV’s, Guns, Law Enforcement & Litigation….. presented by Northwest Safety First

When is your RV a motor vehicle? When is it your home?

Guns in the vehicle laws.  Guns in the RV laws.  Open carry & concealed carry laws. What to say & do before a shot is fired.  What NOT to say & do AFTER a shot is fired. Traveling with guns & children.  Safe transport and storage.


For the schedule of seminars at the show, click here.




Learn RV Driving Skills at the Puyallup RV Show

New at this year’s Puyallup RV Show will be a RV Driving Workshop along with driving seminars taught by professional RV driver Lorrin Walsh of Drive Smart Publications.

Lorrin and his wife Nyla have owned motorhomes for over 35 years and trailers before that. Lorrin’s employment history includes GrayLine of Seattle as a Driver Guide and as a driving instructor teaching people to drive motor coaches up to 60’ long.  Lorrin put his experience as a driving instructor and his 30 plus years of motorhomes in a book, “Drive Your Motorhome Like a Pro”.  He has also written a book on towing fifth wheel trailers, “Tow Your Fifth Wheel Trailer Like a Pro”.  Both books have been produced as DVDs by RV Education 101. You can watch a short RV Education 101 video on driving a motorhome here.

Rv Driving

Everyone Can Drive a RV

Following are some driving and towing basics useful for any RVer.

Whether you drive a motorized RV or pull a towable RV, you should always:

  • Before leaving your driveway, sit in the driver’s seat and adjust all mirrors for optimal viewing down the sides and behind your RV.
  • Allow for your RVs size when making a turn. The front and rear wheels will track paths much farther apart than those of a standard passenger vehicle.
  • Allow more time to stop, change lanes and accelerate onto a busy highway because large RVs take more time to accelerate and slow down than small ones.
  • Whether you’re driving a motorhome or a tow vehicle, make sure you and every passenger wear a seat belt. According to the National Safety Belt Coalition, this is the single most effective thing you can do to prevent serious injury and death in a traffic accident.
  • If you’re an experienced car driver, you already have the skills necessary to drive a motorized RV. The automatic transmission, power brakes and steering you’re accustomed to are standard features on most RVs.
  • It’s also advisable to have someone stand outside the vehicle to make sure the driver avoids any obstacles not seen in the mirrors. If another person is not available, the driver should inspect the area behind the vehicle prior to backing up. Doing so can prevent surprises and accidents.

    RV Driving 1

    The RV Driving Workshop Will Include Live Demonstrations

Drivers towing a folding camping trailer or travel trailer also should:

  • Match the proper tow vehicle to your RV by checking the maximum weight it is rated to  tow.
  • Use the proper type of  trailer hitch and make sure it is correctly secured.
  • Before each trip, make sure that the trailer’s brakes, turn signals and taillights are functioning in conjunction with the towing vehicle.
  • Back up with care. By placing your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel, the trailer will move in the direction you turn your hand. (For example, to move the back end of trailer to the right, move your hand to the right.) Once the trailer is moving in the proper direction, avoid any sharp movements of the steering wheel.

For advance RV driving tips be sure to attend the 2014 Puyallup RV Show May 1st – 4th at the Washington State Fair & Events Center as Lorrin shares his extensive driving knowledge of big rigs.

Rv Driving 2

Turning and Backing Will Be Taught by Lorrin


2014 Puyallup RV Show – Preview

The 2014 edition of The Puyallup RV Show is May 1st – 4th at the Washington State Fair & Events Center. The RV industry is growing by leaps and bounds as more and more people discover RVs provide the perfect getaway for active families and those looking for adventure. By attending The Puyallup RV show, you get the opportunity to walk through vast array of vehicles, compare different layouts and shop various dealers. It’s one stop shopping that makes looking at the numerous styles, brands, models and prices easy.

The 2014 Puyallup Show is expanding not only in size, but in scope as well! Let’s take a look at what you can expect at this year’s event.

 More Dealers: Over 16 RV dealers (four more than last year) are expected to exhibit at this year’s show providing more variety of RVs of every size and shape. The motorhome market has been rapidly expanding over the past year with production up nearly 40% since 2013, assuring the best selection of motorized RVs since the recession.

Puy Preview - RV

Hundreds of RVs Await Your Inspection

Expanded display areas: More RV dealers, equals more RVs which means the show is the biggest in many years with more new RVs to compare.

Your best deal is at the show: More dealers equates to more competition between them making you the winner when it comes to negotiating the best deal on a new RV.

Fulfills every need: The show again offers everything to meet every leisure need from a tent trailer to a vacation home suitable for your lakefront. Not only will there be hundreds of RVs to browse, but vacation homes too for those looking for something to place on their lake property.

Puy Preview - Home

Perfect For Your Lake Front Property!

MORE TO SEE & DO: Not only are there more RVs to investigate, but three new activities will debut at this year’s show.

Seminars: This year’s Puyallup RV Show will have two seminar rooms with a full slate of speakers. Currently scheduled are technical seminars by nationally renowned Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor), RVing in Alaska, proper dinghy towing, home schooling on the road, RV financing, travel trailer hitches, boondocking & backroads, choosing a firearm for RV travel, fifth wheel hitches and concealed carry permits for RV travelers with more topics in the works. Stay tuned to this blog and the show website for additional details.

Puy Preview - Seminar

The “RV Doctor”

RV Driving School: Author and pro RV driver Lorrin Walsh will be presenting a RV driving school where “students” can get a taste of the ins and outs of maneuvering a RV. Tips will be supplied for owners of motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheels.

Vintage: Retro is all the rage these days and you can expect to see some classic RVs at this year’s show. Vintage RV clubs from across the northwest have been invited to display at the show. Currently the oldest RV to be shown is a 1947 Westwood Coronado. If you have a vintage RV and would like to join in on the fun, send an email to: or check out our Facebook page. Speaking of vintage, be sure to check out the antique tractors pulling the people mover throughout the show.

Puy Preview - Vintage

1947 Westwood Scheduled to be at The Puyallup RV Show

Finally, by attending The Puyallup RV Show you will also be supporting Washington State Parks. One dollar out of every $10 adult ticket and $9 senior ticket purchased at the box office will be donated to the state parks system with our sponsor WSECU matching the donation.

Don’t miss out on The Puyallup RV Show, May 1st – 4th, it is the last big show of the season and your chance to experience everything the RV lifestyle has to offer.


Weight Distribution Hitches

Towable RVs (those not self propelled by their own engine) make up the largest percentage of the RV market. Within the towable segment, travel trailers provide the bulk of sales. Therefore about a third (or more) of you reading this are likely to own a travel trailer or considering the purchase of one. If you are in the group considering a purchase, there is a term you have probably encountered once or twice. That term is weight distribution hitch (aka equalizing hitch).

In this blog entry we will attempt to answer the most common questions regarding weight distribution hitches. 

A weight distribution hitch creates a stable ride for your tow vehicle and travel trailer. Using a weight distribution system helps to ensure a smooth, level ride while also allowing you to tow the maximum capacity allowed by your hitch. The blog entry will answer some of the most basic questions about trailer hitches, including:

Weight Carrying (Non Weight Distributing)

When you’re towing a trailer with a bumper hitch or utility shank in a vehicle mounted receiver, all of your trailer’s tongue weight is transferred to the rear axle of your tow vehicle. As a result, the back end of the vehicle may sag while the front end raises. If this happens, your vehicle’s rear axle will bear the weight of not only the trailer, but much of your tow vehicle’s weight as well. Less weight on the front axle of your vehicle can cause diminished performance in terms of steering, traction and stopping power. It can also increase trailer sway. Also, your view of the road may be limited due to the awkward angle.

weight dist

Weight Distributing

Weight distributing hitches use spring bars that help alleviate the problems that often occur with standard weight carrying hitch systems. Adding spring bars to your towing setup applies leverage to either side of your system (think of the handles on a wheel barrow), which transfers the load that is pushing down on the rear of your vehicle to all of the axles on both your tow vehicle and your trailer. This even distribution of weight results in a smooth, level ride, as well as the ability to tow at the maximum capacity of your hitch.
When Is Weight Distribution Needed?

You would likely benefit from a weight distribution hitch if:

  • Your trailer weight ( GTW – Gross Trailer Weight) is more than 50 percent of your vehicle’s weight (GVWR – Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)
  • The rear of your tow vehicle sags when the trailer is hooked up
  • You experience trailer sway
  • Your tow vehicle headlights point upward
  • You find it difficult to steer and/or stop your rig
  • You want to tow to the highest capacity allowed by your vehicle’s trailer hitch receiver

weight dist1

How Do I Know Which Weight Distribution Hitch Is Right For Me?

There are many different types of weight distribution hitches on the market, each with different features. But before you can choose which of those features you’d like to have, you must determine which size system will work best for your towing setup. As with any towing component, capacity is key.

A weight distribution receiver will have two weight ratings – the (GTW) gross trailer weight and the tongue weight. In choosing the correct hitch, you must first determine the following:

  • Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) refers to the weight of the fully loaded trailer in its actual towing condition.
    • GTW is measured by placing the fully loaded trailer on a vehicle scale.
    • Rating of weight-distribution system must match or exceed your GTW.
  • Tongue Weight (TW) refers to the tongue weight of your trailer and the weight of the cargo that sits behind the rear axle of your vehicle.
    • Trailer TW is measured using a tongue weight scale.  If you don’t happen to have a tongue weight scale, you can use a bathroom scale following these guidelines.
    • Typically tongue weight is about 10 to 15 percent of GTW

The TW rating is the most important factor in determining which size weight-distribution system you should use. If the bars of the system you choose are rated too high for your setup, they will create a rigid ride, which can result in a bouncing trailer and frame damage in some instances. On the other hand, if the bars are not rated high enough, the system will be unable to properly distribute the weight, rendering it virtually useless.

Hopefully this short tutorial on weight distribution hitches will provide you with the information you need to choose the right hitch to safely enjoy your current or future travel trailer.

A short informational video can be viewed here.



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