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Keeping up The Old RV

As you know, I have a 5th wheel. It’s a 1993 30 foot Fleetwood Terry Resort. I bought it used and in need of repairs but I love it! The space inside is huge when the slideout (entire living room) is out, the kitchen is bigger than in my previous trailer and situated just the way I like it, and the shower has a seat in it which is handy. Best of all, it cost so much less than a new one that it is fully paid for! Most of the repairs I was able to do myself but some have needed extra help and were not cheap by any means so I do have a good chunk of money invested in it. It is my home. Unfortunately, not all RV parks or employers can appreciate its fine qualities. They see the date of manufacture, the weathered, peeling decal on the door, a few dings here and there (Hey, I didn’t put them all there, some it came with!) and they assume it is falling apart. No matter what you do to fix up the insides or items hidden from view, it is important to keep the outside up and make it look like you care about your rig. Here are some things you can do to get past the age police:

1. Wash it! Nothing makes a rig look better than not having dirt, mud, or black streaks on it. You don’t have to pay to have it professionally cleaned or find a car wash with a trailer wash stall. I was actually able to get a teenager to wash mine once very cheaply and he did a fantastic job. If you are in a park that doesn’t allow running a hose to wash your rig, then use a bucket. It works! It may not look perfect afterward but it will look nicer and I have never had a park jump on me for bucket washing. You can also have some fun and use a good rain storm. Anytime it rains where I am, I run out with my extendable brush and wipe down my truck. It’s perfectly good water so why let it go to waste?

2. Wax it when you can. Folks like to see a gleaming trailer no matter what the age. Even if all you wax is the front and the side that faces the office when checking in, it can help make a good impression. To get out extra paint from hitting a post or other vehicle, try rubbing compound on metal sides but go gently and try it on a small area first. Don’t advertise that you or the previous owner aren’t perfect drivers and don’t ask me how I know this works. Winking smile

3. Get rid of the frayed awning hanging down. If your awning is all torn up, carefully release it (see YouTube videos on this) and get rid of the fabric or better yet have it replaced. I can’t tell you how ugly a torn awning looks to your fellow campers and park staff. It is OK to keep the arms and roller if they are not damaged but don’t wait a year to do something about that bad awning if the damage to it is obvious.

4. No duct tape outside or blue tarps. Both are very useful when you first find an issue but they were never meant to be permanent. If you can’t afford a professional repair, then be creative and try doing some sort of repair yourself. Caulking is easy and cheap. Eternabond is great stuff and available at most RV parts places. YouTube videos can show you how to repair something easily yourself.

I had a small crank open window that just would not stay closed when traveling. It broke several times even after repairing properly because of the design and constant wind where I travel. I used duct tape as a temporary fix but then I finally just screwed the darn thing closed. I never use it anyway and it looks normal and nice outside now. Note: Never screw an emergency exit window closed! Those you must properly fix.

I have also had an issue where I believe a mouse chewed through a marker light wire in an inaccessible location below the floor under my bed. Replacing it perfectly would have meant opening the skin under the front of my 5th and cutting the floor outside or just cutting open the floor inside. What if we missed cutting in the right place the first time? That could get ugly very fast and in any case is very time consuming. Instead, we bypassed the break by running a new wire from one nearby marker light after testing it by connecting it to a battery to see if that would turn on all the marker lights again. We ran the wire through a closet and under the bed to  a small hole we drilled to drop down to the umbilical cord where we knew we had power. Creativity can be cheaper than perfection and still look nice.

5. Paint it! I have seen the most elegant looking old rigs that look even better than many newer rigs thanks to a good paint and/or decal job. When you buy a used trailer from a dealer, often times they have cleaned up rust and repainted parts to make an RV look better for sale. If you don’t feel like painting the whole rig or most of it looks a little aged but otherwise fine, how about doing like the dealers do and paint those smaller parts to show you care about your RV and extend the life of those parts. With electric sanders or multifunction tools, Rustoleum Rust Reformer, and a can of paint, anyone can make their RV look a little better. I recently painted the 5th wheel hitch on the front of my RV and the bumper on the back. They don’t make my 23 year old “baby” look new by any means but it does look much nicer  than with all that rust showing. If you don’t know how, then ask the guy at the hardware store, check YouTube, open a discussion around the campfire. There is nothing difficult about painting and the rewards are really worth it. For those of you who don’t have a home garage to do it in, you may be able to rent a space to do it in a garage or storage area or check if  a nearby RV park has an area they will let you do it. The Escapees park in Coursegold, CA actually has a workshop area for repairing vehicles, etc. Be sure to ask permission first and cover anything paint might get on that it shouldn’t including the ground.

RV bumper painted5th hitch painted

6. Don’t clutter outside. Whether you are staying in a campground for a day or a month, keep it neat out there. If you must keep a lot of items outside, put them together in a location that is not as in your neighbor’s face like under a slideout and keep them covered. A green or tan canvas tarp looks a lot better than the blue plastic tarps and aren’t as noisy. If you can keep them in the back of your vehicle, do it. Turn your 5th wheel hitch area into a nice storage area by making a skirt out of heavy vinyl or get one made for you. Put items away after use. Get rid of anything you don’t truly need and use A LOT!

7. Stand and take a good look at what shows through your windows.  Are your blinds broken? Are the curtains some wacky pattern or in tatters? Can anything be seen through the windows that wouldn’t look good including your old butt stepping out of the shower? Whatever it is, fix that view. Speaking of views, if your RV sports any bumper stickers, make sure they don’t include a date on them or anything that would make the age more obvious like “Vote for Harry Truman” or “Woodstock or Bust”.

8. Lie. That’s right. I said lie. If your RV is only a little older than 10 years, then when asked the year, tell them a year that brings it in at 9 years old. Learn that year. Commit it to memory. Update it next year. Repeat until it is too obvious that your rig is older than 10 years. Rarely do RV parks actually ask for proof and if one does, you can always say, “Oh, I thought you meant the year I bought it.” to cover. If you have followed the above steps and made your RV look nice outside, many won’t question you any further while others will let you stay anyway. Campgrounds and employers with a 10 year rule usually (though not always) will use some discretion when enforcing that rule.

While many of these may seem obvious, a lot of people either forget to do these things, don’t have money to fix it “perfect”, don’t know how, don’t notice the aging, or think it doesn’t bother them so why should it bother others. Unfortunately, we do live in a world that judges us all the time. There are still many people, especially local politicians, who don’t understand the RV life and consider us trailer trash. A good looking RV (and sometimes a little lie) will often trump RV age discrimination.

Senior Discounts

One of the upsides (and they are few) of getting old(er) is getting discounts at various places. Amazingly, some of the discounts are offered to folks as young as 50! Any money saved on one dinner out or at an attraction is money saved for more fun so everyone should be paying attention to these. Not all discounts are advertised either. You have to do a little research and keep a list around then you need to actually ask for the discount. Even if you look as old as Methuselah, they won’t offer the discount to you. You have to ask for it. Keep in mind too that you can join AARP for only $15 a year and get lots of discounts through them as well and they have a smartphone app that will let you know when you are near a place with a senior discount. You can also search the app. Another great place to look for senior discounts is at SeniorDiscounts.com. Check your appstore for more discount apps and always check the online website for any attraction you plan to go to. Don’t forget to get you Pilot-Flying J RVer card for all ages to save on gasoline and propane.

RESTAURANTS:

Applebee’s: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)

Arby’s: 10% off ( 55 +)

Ben & Jerry’s: 10% off (60+)

Bennigan’s: discount varies by location (60+)

Bob’s Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)

Boston Market: 10% off (65+)

Burger King: 10% off (60+)

Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee ( 55+)

Chili’s: 10% off ( 55+)

CiCi’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)

Denny’s: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members ( 55 +)

Dunkin’ Donuts: 10% off or free coffee ( 55+)

Einstein’s Bagels: 10% off baker’s dozen of bagels (60+)

Fuddrucker’s: 10% off any senior platter ( 55+)

Gatti’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)

Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)

Hardee’s: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)

IHOP: 10% off ( 55+)

Jack in the Box: up to 20% off ( 55+)

KFC: free small drink with any meal ( 55+)

Krispy Kreme: 10% off ( 50+)

Long John Silver’s: various discounts at locations ( 55+)

McDonald’s: discounts on coffee everyday ( 55+)

Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)

Shoney’s: 10% off

Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)

Steak ‘n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday ( 50+)

Subway: 10% off (60+)

Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)

Taco Bell : 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)

TCBY: 10% off ( 55+)

Tea Room Cafe: 10% off ( 50+)

Village Inn: 10% off (60+)

Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)

Wendy’s: 10% off ( 55 +)

Whataburger: 10% off (62+)

White Castle: 10% off (62+) This is for me … if I ever see one again.

RETAIL & APPAREL:

Banana Republic: 30% off ( 50 +)

Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month ( 50 +)

Belk’s: 15% off first Tuesday of every month ( 55 +)

Big Lots: 30% off

Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days ( 55 +)

C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (50+)

Clarks : 10% off (62+)

Dress Barn: 20% off ( 55+)

Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)

Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)

Kmart: 40% off (Wednesdays only) ( 50+)

Kohl’s: 15% off (60+)Modell’s Sporting Goods: 30% off

Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions

Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday ( 55+)

The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off ( 55+)

Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month ( 55 +)

GROCERY:

Albertson’s: 10% off first Wednesday of each month ( 55 +)

American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday ( 50 +)

Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)

DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)

Food Lion: 60% off every Monday (60+)

Fry’s Supermarket: free Fry’s VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday ( 55 +)

Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)

Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)

Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)

Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)

Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)

Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)

The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday ( 50 +)

Publix: 15% off every Wednesday ( 55 +)

Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)

Uncle Guiseppe’s Marketplace: 15% off (62+)

TRAVEL :

Airlines:

Alaska Airlines: 50% off (65+)

American Airlines: various discounts for 50% off non-peak periods (Tuesdays – Thursdays) (62+)and up (call before booking for discount)

Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations

Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)

United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)

U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)

Rail:

Amtrak: 15% off (62+)

Bus:

Greyhound: 15% off (62+)

Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50+

Car Rental:

Alamo Car Rental: up to 25% off for AARP members

Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members

Budget Rental Cars: 40% off; up to 50% off for AARP members ( 50+)

Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off ( 50+) Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members Hertz: up to 25% off for AARP members

National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members

Overnight Accommodations:

Holiday Inn: 20-40% off depending on location (62+)

Best Western: 40% off (55+)

Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)

Waldorf Astoria – NYC $5,000 off nightly rate for Presidential Suite (55 +)

Clarion Motels: 20%-30% off (60+)

Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)

Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)

Econo Lodge: 40% off (60+)

Hampton Inns & Suites: 40% off when booked 72 hours in advance

Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)

InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)

Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler’s Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)

Marriott Hotels: 25% off (62+)

Motel 6: Stay Free Sunday nights (60+)

Myrtle Beach Resort: 30% off ( 55 +)

Quality Inn: 40%-50% off (60+)

Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)

Sleep Inn: 40% off (60+)

ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT:

AMC Theaters: up to 30% off ( 55 +)

Bally Total Fitness: $100 off memberships (62+)

Busch Gardens Tampa, FL: $13 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)

Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)

Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off

Massage Envy – NYC 20% off all “Happy Endings” (62 +)

U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)

Regal Cinemas: 50% off Ripley’s Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket ( 55 +)

SeaWorld, Orlando , FL : $3 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)

CELL PHONE DISCOUNTS:

AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $19.99/month (65+)

Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service ( 50 +)

Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+)

Consumer Cellular: AARP and Good Sam discounts

MISCELLANEOUS:

Great Clips: $8 off hair cuts (60+)

Supercuts: $8 off haircuts (60+)

Museums That Will Make You Mad!

Museums are wonderful places to go to learn about things you have never heard about and things you have heard of but never seen. They show us both our past and our future. Whether it is a full blown modern building, a shack in some small town, or even just a historical marker by the side of the road, museums and markers enhance our lives and are something that should be visited as often as possible. However, there is a downside to some museums. What is taught in school history books is only a minor glimpse into the past. Much of our past, especially the secret and dark sides of it, won’t be found in the books or may be glossed over in them. Here are some museums sure to make some or all of you mad!

In Seneca Falls, New York you can visit the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. We have all been schooled in the civil rights movement and women’s suffrage was lightly touched on in school. Who among us has not been taught that all men are created equal? Are you actually aware though that as late as the 1970s women were still discriminated against in education? The top schools in the country such as Yale, Harvard, and Princeton did not allow women in their student ranks. Women were serving in the military to defend their country but could not attend the best schools with men. Until 1995, women wanting military careers could not enroll in the Citadel. Going back further, the Women’s Rights Museum showcases how women were denied property rights and in fact treated as property by the law. It discusses an interesting important conference on slavery where women attended with their husbands as representatives but were quickly told to shut up and sit down by the men in charge. Tour this museum at your own risk. I am still MAD!

Women's Rights MuseumWomen's Rights

In Cooperstown, New York the Baseball Hall of Fame draws millions of visitors every year. It is a place to feel closer to the Great Bambino, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, Yogi Berra, and all the other greats of the American game. It is also a place to learn about the “other” baseball greats who are never mentioned, the women of baseball. It isn’t just that there were women’s professional baseball teams once upon a time that we were never taught about until the movie, ‘A League Of Their Own”, came out but also that women have been involved in baseball since its inception in America and have also been denied from it. One year we could play, then we couldn’t. Another year we could play again until a little girl showed too much talent and then females were banned again. It took a court case in 1973 to get women back into baseball for good though women currently are not represented in our all male professional teams.

A League of Their Own - Columbia Pictures, Geena DavisWomen in Baseball - Cooperstown

In Fayetteville, North Carolina is the 82nd Airborne Museum. There you will learn about the real reason we invaded Grenada but for some reason were never told by American media even though it is a perfectly good reason. You will also learn about the operation in Panama and a prisoner we freed and almost killed while doing it but again media did not bother to tell us.

Panama Operation - Airborne Museum, Fayetteville NC

Andersonville, Georgia is the home of one of the most notorious Civil War prisons. When war was declared, neither side had made any preparations to take and house prisoners. Andersonville was erected as quickly as possible and filled with far more prisoners than it was built to handle before it was even completed thus making conditions deplorable. Inside the walls, they created a buffer zone between the yard and the walls which was defined by “the deadline”. Any prisoner that crossed that line was shot immediately! Disease killed far more soldiers than the guards did though thanks to lack of space and proper housing, poor medical care if any, bad food, and water from a stream that ran through the prison which was contaminated from the guard camp bathrooms up stream.

Andersonville PrisonAndersonville

The United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. will certainly make you mad when you see a gas chamber and a room full of shoes taken from holocaust victims. The displays are haunting and not easily forgotten once seen. How could any people be so incredibly cruel?

<Picture taking not allowed>

The Believe It Or Not Museum in Newport, Oregon and the Hill Aerospace Museum in Salt Lake City, UT are for the most part quite interesting but there’s an exhibit at both about Japanese balloons which were released into the air during World War II to carry bombs on the ocean air currents and hopefully drop them somewhere in the U.S. with no regard to any particular target or civilians. One that landed was found by a couple and their children on a picnic. The mother and children died when it exploded.

Japanese Fugo Balloons

Have you visited a museum that made you mad?

Quartzsite RV Show Opening

It’s that time of year again! The RV Show and the Big Tent open tomorrow until January 24th. If you aren’t there yet, why not?! The crowds are thinner this year so this may be the the best time to go if you have never been to this RVers’ mecca in the Arizona desert. Whatever you might need for your RV can be found there along with lots of fun items as well. Along with the show, there are hot air balloon fests nearby and lots of music and entertainment in the area.  Don’t miss it! For all the information you need to go join the annual party on the desert, see our sister site,  RVQuartzsite.com.

Quartzsite Big Tent Inside Quartzsite Big TentTyson Wells in Quartzsite