The most wonderful thing about RVing is being able to go nearly anywhere in comfort. Big towns, small towns. Mountains, seashore, lakes, desert. There is so much out there to see and experience beyond what you see in a “normal” life in a sticks and bricks home. One of the bad things, sometimes, about RVing is being far away from the big stores or in an area where the prices are outrageously high. If you workamp as I do, you may be far away from town thus requiring a great deal of time or gas money, or you may be stuck at a location and unable to get into the nearby towns very often. What’s a camper to do if something goes kaput and a part or replacement is needed? The answer is online shopping. Whatever you could possibly need, you can likely find it online and sometimes it may be cheaper. I am always amazed at what I can find on sites like Amazon. It isn’t just for books and DVDs anymore. You can get groceries, RV parts, RVs, Shoe Goo glue, auto parts, electric scooters, computers, software, towels, scissors, batteries, kitchen gadgets and appliances, cat litter, pet food, and just about anything else. Even Wal-Mart has gotten in the game. If your local Wal-Mart doesn’t have the exact item or model you want, check their site online. They have much more in their online store and they will ship it free to the nearest Wal-Mart or you can get free shipping direct to your RV if ordering at least $35 worth of goods. Even their pharmacy will ship to you. Holy cow, Batman!
Are you a Harbor Freight fanatic but stuck in an area without one? You can order from them online and access their coupons too. Even if you plan to go to their store in person, signup for their email newsletter and they will send you sales ads and coupons that you can print out to take with you. Some coupons can be used online. Their shipping rate is very reasonable if you order more than one item.
Last week was Black Friday in all the stores and it is continuing through this week. Unfortunately, I’m stuck guarding a gate I can’t leave. What’s a girl to do? I fired up my laptop and shopped all the sales online. The one thing I wanted from Wal-Mart last year was sold out when I got there but I managed to snag the deal this year online. If I don’t like it or there is a problem with it when it arrives, I can easily return it direct to the nearest Wal-Mart store within 90 days. Black Friday just doesn’t get any easier! Of course, not all the deals will be online such as the door busters but sometimes they will surprise you with hourly deals just as good. As I write this, my new Black Friday sewing machine just arrived at my gate. Happy dance!
Will they ship somewhere that is not my home address? YES! Most will though it is harder if you use Paypal. Be sure you get the shipping address exactly correct and the billing address is the same as what you normally use for your credit card. One recently asked me to use Verified By Visa (free bank service) after taking the order to prove I was the true credit card owner. It is possible your credit card company will reject it if they are not used to you traveling. Just give them a call if needed. Bank of America is notorious for that.
What about the time it takes to ship and shipping costs? Be aware of how long you plan to be in your current campground, the campground’s policy on deliveries (most will accept UPS and FedEx at the office but not US mail) and the store’s shipping time which can vary by season. If you checkout and find the estimated time they quote is too long, either cancel the order immediately or contact their support online to have them do it for you. You can pay more to ship faster (lots more!) or have it sent to a campground you have a reservation at though that is risky and you should let the new campground know. Otherwise, shipping costs are generally not that bad and may be offset by the time and gas it would take to go to a store. If you shop Amazon a lot, get an Amazon Prime membership for free shipping on thousands of items, free returns shipping, free book borrowing, free movie and TV show streaming, and free 2 day delivery. The $79/yr. cost is well worth it. I personally prefer store shopping where you can see and touch an item, get it now (the yuppie in me), and return it easier but online shopping really works great too. It won’t replace store shopping but sure does add to it.
Is it safe, though? Recently, a group has hacked a major credit/debit card processor for brick and mortar stores and has been stealing credit card numbers from local grocery stores in one area. Crime happens offline too. Shopping online can be reasonably safe with some precautions. Use a payment processor like Paypal whenever possible to keep the merchant from getting and storing your credit card info. The fewer places that have your card info the better. If a Paypal-like option is not available, use a regular credit card rather than a debit card. With a debit card, they can raid your bank account which can take months or even years to straighten out while with a credit card, you can protest any charge and they don’t have direct access to your cash. If you do use a credit card, you may want to transfer money immediately to it as a payment for the amount you will be charging or move it to a savings account to be sure it is there when the bill comes due.
There are other things you can do for better security. Read your monthly statements to look for unauthorized charges. Always double-check the URL in the address bar of your browser. It should start with “https” which means your connection with the site is encrypted. Check the full URL to be sure you actually are shopping at the right store and not a fake copy site. Use a strong 10 character or more password for your store account that includes letters and numbers, uppercase and lowercase, no full words, and if possible, a special character (.,&%!^*). If an online store or bank sends you an email notice of any problem, do not click on the link in the email. Go to the usual URL you use for the store by typing it in yourself and then contact their support/help desk from there.
In summary, if you are the type of RVer who likes to spend a week or more at a place to fully explore it, online shopping can be a real winner for you. Most stores these days do have a website. Just don’t run up those credit cards all year or blame me to your spouse.
Notice: I am affiliated with Amazon and Wal-Mart but I am also an avid customer of theirs.
Our sister site, rvquartzsite.com
, now has a full business directory listing just about anything you might want to find in or around Quartzsite before or after you get there. Whether you are looking for RV parks, parts, grocery stores, dining, veterinarians, hospitals, water, sewer pump outs, mail, etc. it has it. Know before you go and feel more comfortable while you’re there. There is a small fee to become a member to view the directory but it is very reasonable and many exciting upgrades are on the way to make it even more valuable to members. Stop on by and feel free to give us suggestions for improvements to the site or let us know if you are going to Quartzsite this season.
For those of you who have discovered the wonderful world of eBooks along with both the weight and space savings in your RV of keeping your entire library on a Kindle or tablet running Kindle software, Amazon now has a program to buy very cheap Kindle versions of paperback or hardback books you have previously purchased through them. They call it Kindle Matchbook. Click on the link below to learn more about the program and see what books you may now be able to move to your Kindle.
Amazon Kindle Matchbook
According to CheapRVLivingBlog.com
, the National Forest Service is hassling and ticketing full-time RVers and van dwellers due to a law prohibiting residing in national forests. The law was created to keep the homeless from camping perpetually in our forests or even for 1 night but as usual has unintended consequences. Since those of us who live in their rigs all year often no longer have a sticks and bricks house to go back to, technically we can be ticketed under this law even though we are just camping for a few days then moving on to the next sight to see. Even one night can bring a ticket. If rangers show up and don’t see a car at your campsite, they may assume you are working poor and cite you. Apparently they are leaving the folks in expensive class As alone but those of us in cheaper or older rigs may get nailed. Class warfare rears it’s ugly head again! To protect yourself, be ready with an address you can tell them is home and DON’T tell them you are a full-timer or working anywhere. If the address on your driver’s license looks like a regular address rather than a PMB, you may be able to use that though some may be familiar with some mailing service addresses. Perhaps you can use the address of one of your children or other relative. In any case, be prepared at all times to ante up with a home address if asked and watch what else you say. Don’t make your site look too lived in or comfortable either.
With no idea when the water would recede and I could get back to work, I paid for a week at a campground. With nightly rates being very high in the oil patch, that was a bargain even if I didn’t stay a week. I ended up staying 4 nights which did come out cheaper by the week.
Even in disaster, some good can come from it. With time off, I cleaned up my home thoroughly and then was able to explore Carrizo Springs shopping all I liked. I got to check out what a Stripes was that the guys are always running off to. It turns out it is a super gas station or truck stop with lots of local food for takeout. Their egg rolls are very good and the bean burritos were good. I’ll have to try their chicken next time. I picked up a couple newspapers to see what was going on in town.
I did my usual grocery shopping at the HEB but with more time, I was able to stock up more. It was nice to hit up the Redbox machine outside as well. I can’t do that when I’m working since I only get off the gate every 2-3 weeks. I finally got to see the latest Star Trek movie. I liked the previous one better but this one was OK.
Later, I thoroughly explored the Wal-Mart which is pretty pitiful. It isn’t very big at all so don’t expect variety or many of the usual departments you find in other Wal-marts. It’s useful but just barely.
Now that I was finally away from the grass and soil heavy with spiders, snakes, and bugs, I was able to get some work done on my rig. I moved around underneath it spraying foam in every hole I found. One hole was a 4″ square the previous owner had cut into the subfloor. I’m sure mice were using it to get in under my kitchen cabinets. Because of the material around the hole, a piece of wood screwed over it was not going to work. I cut a piece to size of the old plastic mudguard from my truck that I had saved. I then slipped it between the subfloor and rail and screwed it to the wood edge on the opposite side. It works!
Inside, I finally fixed the broken bedroom window. I have had the parts for months but no free time and it was just too hot to do it. I had to completely replace the bar which they don’t make to size. I ordered in bar stock with the slit already cut in on one end then had to cut it to the right length and cut in the slit with whatever tools I had on hand. That was interesting. Thankfully, I got it right. I was able to wiggle it and the other parts into the window with some patience and a bit of math. Then I removed the bent or broken slats from the window blind, salvaged those I could, and replaced them. It is so nice to have my privacy back and I don’t look like trailer trash anymore.
I was informed we were released from the gate I was at so I wouldn’t be going back to that gate. I had mixed feelings about that. I want to work certainly and gates are getting harder to come by now that the snowbirds are coming back down but that location was below the road and surrounded by grass so I knew it would be problematic from the start. Happily, a new gate opened up with my previous rig crew returning to work it. It isn’t far from where I was though it is on higher ground. I went out there to take a look. The pad hasn’t even been built yet and the entrance is too muddy to get my trailer in so I get a couple more days off.
On the way home, I stopped by the previous gate to see if I could retrieve any of my stuff that floated off. Luck was with me and I managed to find my missing long awning stake and 2 yellow plastic levelers. I also found one tire chuck but it was damaged and had already been replaced. The shovel I bought when I started this job and carry around sure has come in handy. Not only is it good for killing snakes, I used it to tap the ground as I walked out into the bushes in my boots to get my stuff and then to lift the items up to me or toss them out to the road. Later, I used it to bury the mice I found in my mouse traps inside my rig. Every gate guard should have a long handled shovel.
They say the second movie is never as good as the first. With floods, that just ain’t so! We got a really hard rain in on Sunday. It lasted much longer than the usual 2 minute Texas rain. When the ranch manager came by to let the horses loose and told me to watch for flooding I took it seriously and kept an eye out. The rig had already moved on so I was alone waiting for the next phase to start. Unfortunately, an eye was not enough for a flash flood which occurred the next day long after the rain had stopped. Late in the day, the rocks I had admired out my kitchen window just half an hour earlier disappeared. I went outside to check and found water just starting to run underneath my trailer from behind. It was running very fast. I immediately began disconnecting all electrical and shut down the generator. I started pulling outside items to higher ground and saw the water begin coming in from the side as well. I knew I was in trouble.
I tried to call my support person for help but he was too far away to be able to help. I tried calling the ranch manager but got no answer. I drove my truck out of the water and up to the ranch manager’s gate but no one answered the page or honking horn. I tried waving down a trucker but he thought I was waving hello and just waved back and drove on. I was on my own and the water was rising fast. It was now across the road and coming from the other side too.
All I could do was pull all the cables in, move things inside to pull in the slide-out which had water on it that drained inside as I closed it, crank up the jacks, and hitch up my truck. That took a lot of precious time and I was trudging through deep water the whole time. The water got higher. My support person kept calling and checking on me to see how I was. The external sewer tank I was connected to started to float. I had to work at it to get disconnected from it since it was hard-plumbed to my outlets. Then it started to float off so I had to take time to pull it around the back of the RV to beach it. The water rose.
Continue reading Flood 2!
With several states hurting for tourist dollars and working out deals to re-open national parks, the government finally came to an agreement to re-open for business. National parks, forests, landmarks, and BLM lands are once again inviting the public in to ooh and ahh at nature’s wonders while spending their hard earned cash on entrance fees, parking, camping, and concessions.
A lot of revenue was lost during the shutdown so some states will still feel it. What is fascinating to me is that the furloughed government workers will be paid for the forced time off while civilian workers will not. While I certainly feel bad for all who were furloughed, it doesn’t seem fair that one group will be paid for doing nothing while the others will not. How also are they handling getting back workampers and volunteers they kicked out who may have moved on to other jobs. What a mess! This is also not the end of it. The beings in power only agreed to postpone their issues until January of next year. This could happen again during prime snowbird season on BLM lands. I for one am not looking forward to January.
Due to the efforts of state governors to provide payments to re-open and run several national parks for 10 days, several parks will be re-opening on October 12th. While they may pursue getting re-paid by the government when this farce is over, there is no guarantee they will be reimbursed nor that government will re-open before the parks close again so help out your state by visiting one of these parks if you can. Who knows, it may be your last chance to see them for a long time. Word has it that Recreation.gov is honoring reservations already made to camp within those dates but is not accepting any new reservations.
Arches National Park, Utah (open October 12-20)
- includes Devil’s Garden Campground, Fiery Furnace Tours
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (open October 12-20)
Canyonlands National Park, Utah (open October 12-20)
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah (open October 12-20)
Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah (open October 12-20)
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah (open October 12-20)
Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah (open October 12-20)
Zion National Park, Utah (open October 12-20)
- includes Watchman Campground
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (open October 12-20)
- includes Moraine Park Campground
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (open October 12-18)
- includes Mather Campground
The Statue of Liberty, New York (open October 12-20)
Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota (open October 12-20)