Archive for 2011

Campground and RV park operators, hurt by the state’s hot, dry summer, are anticipating a rebound this season because of “winter Texans,” those out-of-state residents who migrate to the warmer parts of the Lone Star State to avoid the coldest weeks back home.

“Many of our affiliates are reporting much higher bookings for the winter season than they experienced last year,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners.

This summer’s drought hurt many RV parks and campgrounds, particularly those located on lakes or rivers.

“Last summer was the worst summer I’ve had in years due to the drought,” said Doug Shearer, owner of Parkview Riverside RV Resort in Concan, near Uvalde. “But our winter is looking good.”

Shearer said reservations were running 10 to 15 percent ahead of last winter.

Bryan Kastleman, managing partner at Hill Country RV Resort in New Braunfels, said his bookings are up because of more than just winter Texans. He said the surge in the San Antonio economy is creating a need for workers to find temporary places to stay.

“It’s looking really strong,” Kastleman said of the winter bookings.

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INDIO, Calif.— It’s not the standard Christmas set-up, but put on some Perry Como or Mannheim Steamroller and plug in the icicle lights, and even the plainest aluminum camper takes on a holiday sheen.

Snowbirds throughout the Coachella Valley are decking the dashboard of the Tiffin and trimming the hitches of the Airstream. They’re roasting prime rib and honey-baked hams in convection microwaves.

And on the big day, they’ll be Skyping with the grandkids in Missouri and Pennsylvania.

The RV community is by definition a nomadic one, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas traditions get left behind along with the heavy furniture and the permanent address. But there is definitely some scaling back that comes with the cruising lifestyle.

“I’ve always had 25 to 30 people at my house,” Sandy Gotwalt said.

“Worked our butts off,” interrupted her husband, Brian.

“This is what retirement is all about,” she finished the thought, shaking her silver Frosty earrings.

Every winter, retirees like the Gotwalts leave colder climes for the desert’s warmth. Their wheeled homes fill RV parks from Palm Springs to Coachella.

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The RV/MH Hall of Fame continues to open its doors every day, playing host to the streams of RVers eager to view the industry’s past and present depicted in the array of eye-catching and instructive displays.

That in itself is an accomplishment, says Tom McNulty, who took the reins as executive director of the financially strapped museum around eight months ago. “When I first came on board, there were people that were saying we wouldn’t last two months,” he said. “But we’re still here, and our hope is we’ll be here for the long run.

Vintage Travel Trailer on Display at RV/MH Hall of Fame

Vintage Travel Trailer on Display at RV/MH Hall of Fame

“There are some good things happening and actually our cash flow is better than it’s been in a couple of years. Attendance during the summer was 100 to 150 people a day and we are seeing greater returns from our convention center.”

McNulty is by no means trying to mask the financial quandary that fostered those doomsday predictions. The hall, which officially opened in March of 2007 on the northeast side of Elkhart, Ind., continues to run in the red, exacerbated by the country’s economic collapse and a resulting accumulation of debt that came to a head in the past year.

“We are still in the throes of negotiating our debt,” McNulty said. “At times we think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, but then someone turns off the switch. It’s very frustrating to say the least.”

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