The Latest news in Self-Driving tech

Volvo’s 360C concept car demonstrates the driverless tech industry’s vision of a fully autonomous car in what they see as the not too distant future. 

That vision is a car without a steering wheel that can autonomously navigate roadways all on its own while passengers do other things like read or even sleep. 

As driverless technology is starting to be taken more seriously by the automotive industry, there are more people asking exactly when can we expect driverless tech to hit the market and in spite of all the hype - what exactly would a driverless car or big rig really look like?

In an attempt to define how sophisticated the technology will be in coming years and where it actually stands as of now, the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE) has established a system for categorizing the different levels of automation. 


Currently there are five levels of automation:

Level 1 driver assistance – when the vehicle is able to assist with either steering or braking but not able to perform both simultaneously.

Level 2 partial animation - the vehicle can assist with both steering and braking simultaneously but your attention is required on the road at all times.  Both Tesla’s Auto Pilot and General Motors Super Cruise are examples of this level of automation.

In these examples, a combination of radar, sonic and optical sensors deliver data from a precisely mapped Lidar database to give the system accurate location data.  Lidar is similar to radar, except that it uses light instead of radio signals to determine the distance to objects around it.

Level 3 conditional automation – a certain criteria of circumstances allow the car to handle most aspects of driving and the driver has the ability to take their eyes off the road temporarily.  

Level 4 high automation- in the right conditions the car can take full control, giving the driver a chance to focus on other tasks. 

Level 5 full automation - in theory there will be no need for a steering wheel or a driver because the car drives you!

Most experts agree that the technology is currently somewhere between levels two and three, while levels four and five are probably still decades away.  The technological development of the higher levels of automation is just one hurdle for the industry; the other is the condition of our roadway infrastructure.  The higher and more sophisticated levels of driverless automation will require clear, easily recognizable lane markings and road signs, not to mention roads that are well maintained – meaning an absolute minimum of potholes and other sorts of damage.  

Vehicles also need to be wirelessly connected with traffic infrastructure and they will also be required to communicate with one another in real time.  Volvo is already testing a wireless technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other via a cloud based network.   

When that time comes in the not too distant future, when cars and trucks are operating at high or even at full automation, the auto insurance industry will likely be profoundly affected and big changes will be on the horizon.  And the politics of legislating for our nation’s brave new world of cloud based traffic infrastructure tech will come with a host of new challenges as well.  But it seems the full vision of this new cutting edge technology is an inevitability, to be sure!


campfire cooking grill

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Recipe Courtesy of The Sunday Glutton

4.  Campfire Rosemary Potatoes

This is a great recipe for potatoes over an open fire.  You will have to boil them in a pot of water first to keep the fire from burning the outside before the inside is soft enough to eat and this will also hasten the overall cooking time for the potatoes.  Remember to soak your wooden skewers for 30 minutes before grilling.  The full recipe is here.

The Smartphone has certainly brought us a level of convenience that few of us could easily live without.  We use it for just about everything and the ability to send and receive emails and browse the internet while away from a computer and even out on the open road has become an absolute essential that we now think of as hard to live without. 

In addition to your Smartphone’s calendar and GPS there are other apps of convenience designed specifically for the professional truck driver.  These apps are designed for the owner-operators and small trucking fleet owners, all of which are tailored to help you save time and money. 

The following is a list of eight of the most popular Smartphone apps for professional truck drivers!


Drivewyze is a Smartphone weigh station bypass app that saves drivers time, money and weigh station hassles.  If you’re device is Android or an iOS Smartphone or tablet, you can receive bypasses across the nation – without a transponder!  Depending on your carrier safety score, you can bypass scales up to 98% of the time.  They offer a free 30-day trial for drivers and fleets alike, making it one of the best trucking apps going into 2020.

Weigh My Truck App

If you are unable to bypass a weigh station then Weigh My Truck App will assist you when you do pull in to a weigh station.  This app is built to work with CAT Scales to save drivers time at the weigh stations.  Weigh your truck and pay for your weight using your Smartphone at the scale.  No need to leave your truck.  The app accesses your location; you fill in your truck and trailer info and pay straight from the app.  A copy of your weigh ticket is emailed to you.  Available for iOS and Android.

CoPilot Truck Navigation

This mobile voice-activated GPS app helps truckers calculate the most efficient route, highlights potential commercial vehicle restrictions based on the type of load you’re hauling and identifies the best route for multi-stop trips. A huge benefit of CoPilot is that the GPS can work offline, saving your data for better activities. CoPilot Truck is available for Android and iPhone and runs about $149.99 for a 1-year subscription.


Never overpay for diesel gas again. Fuelbook specializes in helping truckers find the best gas prices at over 7,000 gas stations and truck stops nationwide. The pennies saved at the pump can really add up, and the app is free.

Weather Channel

The Weather Channel provides forecasts up to two weeks in advance to help you plan ahead.  Get severe weather alerts and see the conditions easily and quickly for the area you’re in. (Free, or $3.99 for ad-free; App Store or Google Play)

Waze — GPS, Maps, Traffic Alerts & Live Navigation

Waze uses your location to instantly tell you about traffic, construction, hazards, and more. It will automatically route changes to avoid any obstacles and traffic so you can get where you’re going faster. (Free, App Store or Google Play) 


GasBuddy is an app that truck drivers have been using for years. It is one of the best free apps for finding low gas prices, including diesel prices. If you are looking to save money fueling up your semi truck truck for long distances you may want to give the GasBuddy app a try.


Audiobooks from has many books in audio form that you can listen to while driving that will help keep your mind sharp, focused and alert.  They are known for having the largest selection of audiobooks.


boy with grilled cheese sandwich
Polydrop Travel Trailer
RV parked by river Yellowstone National Park

U.S. Infrastructure Graded

The Little Town of Quartzsite, Arizona holds their Annual Vacation and RV Show during the last 2 weeks of January and is considered to be the kind of gathering every RV enthusiast should experience at least once.  It’s known as a true boon docking mecca and one of the biggest RV parties you’ll ever attend. 

Timberleaf Travel Trailer

4-Legged Camping Companions:
A lot of people love to take their pets camping, and a national park can be a terrific place for your dog to enjoy.  The National Park Service allows dogs at their campgrounds at no charge, but you’ll need to observe the pet policies.

All dogs must be on a maximum 6-foot leash and you can’t leave your dog tied up at camp.  Most campgrounds allow you to leave your dog alone inside your RV, as long as it is well ventilated.  Usually dogs aren’t allowed on the trails, but you can walk them within and outside the campground.

Know Before You Go:
RV camping at national parks can be an incredible experience as long as you’re familiar with the rules and regulations for RVs ahead of time.  If you do a bit of research on each park’s website you’ll spare yourself any unwanted surprises which will translate in to a more relaxing and enjoyable vacation for you and your family.

winding road through the desert southwestern USA
campfire rosemary potatoes
campfire cooking
Rocky Cliffs Zion National Park Utah

It's getting close to that time of year again to winterize the RV or camper for the coming cold weather months until spring comes round again. 

This post focuses on four of the most important steps to remember in preparing your recreational vehicle for the colder months ahead.  A failure to properly winterize can lead to thousands of dollars worth of damage and a shortening of its life out on the open road.

So what are the four key areas to focus on when it's time to store your RV for the winter?

Many RV owners begin with the plumbing.  This starts with draining all the fluid from various systems.  Simply draining the lines won't be enough, as small amounts of water can get trapped almost anywhere and cause problems.  You have to completely drain everything, or add RV non-toxic anti-freeze so the lines don't freeze once the temperatures plunge.  Always be sure to use RV anti-freeze, never automobile anti-freeze.  

Failure to properly drain everything could lead to water freezing in the lines and other systems, burst pipes, damage to the water pump, toilet and sink valves and drain traps.  

For the Plumbing - Be Sure To:

  • Removal of all water from system
  • Refill lines with anti-freeze
  • Winterize all plumbing traps
  • Drain water heater / lines
  • Clean anode rod / drain plug
  • Open all faucets


For Moisture Control:

  • Moisture build-up inside the RV can be a problem in some climates. 
  • Be sure to cover all vents and holes. 
  • You can choose from chemical absorbents to prevent the development of mold and mildew to charcoal products.


Rodent Control: 

  • This is a great time to check your roof for cracks or tears
  • Seal any leaks before winter
  • Close off as many openings as possible  


Proper Maintenance All Year Long:

Year round maintenance should be performed to help prevent any unwanted surprises when you finally do attempt to winterize at the end of camping season.  Regular maintenance will help you to identify potential problems that can become much larger after a summer long series of road trips and camping fun. 


In short, thoroughly winterizing your RV is critical to keeping it in top operating condition and extending its life. There are a ton of helpful YouTube videos on winterizing RVs and campers which go through the process step by step.

If you have any questions about winterizing your RV or if you'd like to use any of our RV services, feel free to contact us or stop by our location in Waldorf, Maryland.


family camping dog
old road sign | antique cars | Arizona desert

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is located in southern Arizona, right on the border with Mexico. The Twin Peaks Campground has 208 sites and can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in length. It’s a clean, comfortable campground, with water spigots every few campsites. There are solar showers in the restrooms, but be cautious, as the water can get searing hot on hot days.

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We all know that cooking descent meals over an open campfire always begins with having the right camping gear.  Even tough many RV campers are blessed with a luxury micro-kitchen in their RV, many camping enthusiasts are still drawn to the open campfire.  There is just something so satisfying about cooking this way - given a little experience.  Let’s just say it’s the call of the wild, inherent in human nature!

That being said, there are several must-have items that can make your campsite cookouts simpler and safer; enabling you to actually turn out some of your most impressive campfire meals.   

In this post we share the equipment we consider camp cooking essentials for front country RV camping and explain how the right gear can really elevate your outdoor cooking experience.  Each gadget listed is linked to a website where the item can be purchased.

As any barbecue chef will tell you, the type of logs you burn will impart flavors into the food.  If you have the option of bringing your own fuel, go for a hardwood like a cherry or oak, because it’ll burn hotter and cleanly.  If you’re foraging for firewood, beware of trees full of sap such as pine.  Pine can create acrid smoke that’ll leave a tarry taste to your food.

Adjustable Camp Tripod
The adjustable campfire tripod is an important tool for cooking over an open fire.  Some hard-core seasoned campers may prefer to make their own tripods on the spot out of very sturdy sticks but this lightweight all steel version is easily packed away into a heavy-duty tote bag for easy storage and transport.  Most tripods include a 36 inch stainless-steel chain with S-hook. 

Cast Iron Cookware
The Dutch oven is a virtual “camp stove” and is the pot that does it all.  The flanged lid holds hot coals and inverts for use as a griddle.  The integral legs allow the oven to sit perfectly over hot coals.  The bail handle is for use with a tripod.  The Cast Iron Dutch Ovens, Skillets and Griddles all come with a seasoned finish that helps to create a non-stick finish for easy maintenance.  And each of the three are popular campfire cooking tools.

Over Fire Grill

Most campgrounds have campfires with grates, but this collapsible grate will give you the freedom to grill even in the boondocks.  Simply create some hot coals and set it over your campfire, and you're ready to start cooking.  Foldable legs make transport and storage easier and it’s made of steel for durability.

Camping Rotisserie Grill and Spit
A rotisserie really helps you to expand your outdoor cooking repertoire.  While cooking on a grill grate over a fire pit really only allows you to cook smaller pieces of meat, a rotisserie opens it up to all kinds of roasted meat.  Your typical rotisserie is stainless steel and stops in four positions and has two swinging arms and an adjustable height.  Also has a 16" x 24" grilling surface.


Campfire Grill Heavy-Duty Log Tweezers
Having a set of heavy duty extending steel log tongs is perfect for moving burning logs around in a campfire.  The tongs are curved specifically to grab large logs without bending. A set of these log tweezers will help you to keep your campfire burning strong or even enable you to lower the fire’s strength while cooking.

Deluxe 20 Piece Grilling Tool Set with Aluminum Storage Case
Your campfire cooking gear would not be complete without a sturdy set of utensils for grilling.  This convenient grill set is packed in an aluminum carrying case which allows for safe transportation of sharp items and keeps everything organized.  The kit contains a spatula, tongs, basting brush, skewers, and a cleaning brush with replacement head.   In addition to that there is a digital temperature fork that displays actual and desired temperatures, has an integrated LED light for checking food at night and has an alarm alerting you when food is done!

There are a vast number of handy gadgets and tools out there on the market like the ones listed above that are well worth the investment if you plan on doing some open-fire cooking on your next trip into the great outdoors.  And as a friendly reminder, always properly extinguish your campfire for the safety of all.  

Happy Camping from Beltway Truck and Tire!

campfire s'mores

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Yosemite National Park

Food Storage:

National parks are home to many kinds of wild animals, including bears and other scavengers.  These animals have a keen sense of smell and they will find any food that is not properly stored.  Even RVs can be vulnerable to bears.

If you have a hard-sided RV or trailer, keep the food out of sight and make sure your windows, doors, and vents are closed at night and when you’re not at your campsite.

DO NOT store food in a pop-up trailer or other soft-sided camper. Instead, store it in a bear box if one is provided, or hang your food.

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Horseshoe National Park Utah

Yellowstone National Park


Each national park has size restrictions on their RV campsite lots.  The average permitted size for an RV is 27 feet, but there are sites whose lots that range anywhere from 20 to 40 feet.  For a larger site, be sure to make early reservations.

Campgrounds typically have sites that are designated for RVs.  RV length and trailer length are not the same thing however.  Many campsites have different lengths for RVs and trailers, because they’re back-in sites with a limited turn radius.

Time Limits:
There are limits on the length of time you can camp at a site.  Generally, the limit is 14 consecutive days of camping at any one given site.

Most camping enthusiasts tend to call it quits once the winter season begins, but there are those campers who love to escape the cold winter months in their RV by flying the coop to warmer camping destinations in the southwest that are winter migrant friendly.

Winter camping in the southwestern U.S. can be an exhilarating experience with its beautiful sunsets and unique flora & fauna!  Often the national parks and monuments of the region happen to be too hot for summer camping and are more popular with off-season campers.

This is due to the desert typically staying so hot until around mid-November when the weather suddenly switches, and it becomes pleasantly cool.  It stays on the cool side, with mornings being quite chilly until around mid-March when it starts to warm up again. 

There are 14 million acres of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, as well as several large conservation areas and wildlife refuges in the southwestern part of the U.S. where you can camp for free for up to 14 days at a time.  For longer stays you can purchase a permit from the BLM.  The permit gives you unlimited camping for up to seven months at seven specific BLM areas.

Check out this list of southwestern parks where the late fall and winter are a great time for camping and outdoor activity, according to National Parks Traveler.

top 5 Winter Camping destinations in the American Southwest

The first of these Teardrop Travel Trailer designs featured in this post is the Timberleaf, weighing approximately 1500 ponds with 150 pond tongue weight.  With a starting price of $19,750 for the base package, this towable camper is perfect for the minimalist outdoors lover.  The company’s masterful woodworking skills are employed with beautiful craftsmanship throughout.  Inside, the cabin features a massive skylight which is perfect stargazing, and ample shelving guarantees plenty of space for your camping essentials.  With a rounded back, the hatch reveals a birch wood galley with a cooktop, sink, shelving and pull-out drawer.

Bonus: An optional custom-built cooler provides ice retention for days.
Pricing: Starts at $19,750 for the Classic Teardrop’s base package

The Polydrop Travel Trailer

Image Courtesy of Echoes of Laughter

1.  Lumberjack Breakfast

Be sure to bring some heavy duty aluminum foil on your trip for this recipe.  This breakfast pack includes eggs, veggies, sausage, frozen hash browns, and cheese.  This breakfast will give you the fuel you need for your day of hiking.  Follow the recipe here.

Courtesy of Rachel Ray

3.  Campfire Grilled Shrimp

Place a grate over the coals in your campfire.  If your grate doesn't have legs, rest it on some rocks.  Cook the shrimp directly on the grate, turning once with tongs, for 2-3 minutes per side, or until they turn pink and opaque. Get the full recipe here.

lumberjack campfire breakfast
puppy looking expectantly
Joshua Tree National Park in California
Ivy clad hive shaped iconic rest stop
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona

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5 Easy Campfire Recipes for Your next camping trip

Image Courtesy of Fresh Off The Grid

2.  Apple, Bacon & Cheddar Grilled Cheese

It's so easy to get stuck in a rut over lunch when camping because hotdogs and hamburgers tend to be the go-to lunch ideas.  But grilled cheese sandwiches are pretty simple to cook over a campfire and you can dress them up to a gourmet status with this recipe.  The possibilities abound for what you can stick between two slices of bread when you are hungry enough.  This recipe will not disappoint! 

vintage teardrop camper

When it comes to venturing out on to the open road in your RV camper or travel trailer, you’ll want the full advantage that mobile phone apps can provide.  These apps are designed to assist the traveler in many ways to make the road trip easier then it's ever been.  These days there are so many apps to choose from that it can seem like a hopeless task to sort through them all to find the ones most suited for your outdoor adventuring spirit, so we've pulled together a short list of some of the most popular mobile apps among RV camping enthusiasts.  These road trip apps are free to download and are designed for both iOS and Android phones.


Planning Your Road trip


When you need to organize the varied tasks of RV ownership, Togo is a helpful tool.  This app creates checklists for packing, tracks maintenance tasks, locates service centers, and sets up notifications for your trip.

Free for iOS and Android devices


This is a 100 percent volunteer nonprofit project that aims to help people around the world find places to stay on the road.  The database includes camping, hotels, and restaurants; service stations, water, and propane.  You can even browse everything on a map.

Free on iOS and Android devices



Google Maps

Google Maps is a great app for clean, straight forward navigation.  Google Maps delivers navigation for over 220 countries and territories with real-time GPS traffic and transit info, and even the best bike routes.

Free on iOS and Android


This app is for navigating traffic and getting real-time arrival estimates.  It works best in or around large cities, and it’s convenient for comparing routes and times to Google Maps for accuracy.

Free on iOS and Android

CoPilot RV

Designed specifically for the RV owner, CoPilotRV provides reliable offline navigation that calculates your route according to your vehicle size and class.  This helps to prevent dangerous run-ins with low bridges or propane-restricted tunnels.

Free for iOS and Android


Tech Assistance

Wi-Fi Finder

When planning a road trip in which you’ll be working on the road, locating places with decent Wi-Fi is essential. This app has offline functionality so you can download maps for the places you’re traveling to.  Featuring only verified hotspots with info on the type of venue and speed, this app will help ensure you get some work done as well as having lots of fun in the sun.

Free for iOS and Android devices


Trails, Guides & Roadside Attractions

REI Co-op National Parks Guide

This top-notch app provides trail data and hike descriptions for the most-visited National Parks in the U.S., like Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and more. The data is available offline, and your phone uses its built-in GPS to show your location on maps. There’s also a list of family friendly hikes.

Free on iOS and Android devices

Lonely Planet

When traveling near or in a city, download this Lonely Planet app for excerpts of city guides that are in a user-friendly mobile format.  Maps and recommendations work offline and you can also bookmark your favorites.

Free on iOS and Android devices


If you’ve ever been at a loss on where to stop for roadside attractions during your road trip, Roadtrippers will help you to know what’s out there ahead of time.  The app helps you find quirky rest stops, scenic points, and parks, and you can save your trips or favorite places on your journey.  The free version only includes up to seven waypoints, so you may want an upgrade to the more advanced version eventually.

Free on iOS and Android devices

Happy Road Tripping from All of Us at Beltway Truck and Tire!

These historic rest areas were often iconic and picturesque and not designed as food courts and quickie-marts.  Once upon a time, you might pull off a highway in Arizona for a picnic under a rest stop shelter shaped like a teepee and surrounded by peace and quiet.  Whereas today you're more likely to stop at something that looks like a shrunken mall and purchase the same iced coffee or slice of pizza that you can get anywhere else in the country. 
When the US first built its expansive system of highways in the 1920s, rest stops were simple safety areas designed for motorists to take much-needed breaks from driving long distances.  Back then, the cars and trucks were slower and the roads were rougher.  By the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps turned rest stops into miniature roadside parks.

The post-war interstate era brought with it rest areas designed to immerse the traveler in the culture and history of the local; accentuating what is unique or special about a particular state or region.  Tables were set at strategic spots for observing the best scenic views the rest area had to offer.  Stopping at these distinctive rest areas became an integral part of the experience of being out on the open road.

In recent years, these quaint and pastoral rest stops have become American relics in their own right.  Unable to compete with the conveniences of modern day travel centers that house fast food restaurants, large bathrooms and wireless internet service; the traditional rest area is now a part of America’s roadside past.  Rapidly declining with age, many have been bulldozed and removed.

The trucking industry is experiencing a shortage of drivers and it’s threatening to raise the cost of just about every product that gets shipped across the country.

For a number of years now, the economic upswing has been creating heavy demand for trucks, but it's hard to find drivers with unemployment so low. For some young Americans, ignoring those job openings seems to be due to the concern that self-driving trucks will soon dominate the industry.  

While it is true that companies like Waymo, Embark, Daimler, Volvo and Tesla have all launched their own self-driving truck pilot programs, trucking industry veterans argue that we are ages away from self-driving technology being anywhere near fully autonomous.

According to the American Trucking Association, about 51,000 more drivers are needed to meet the demand from companies such as Amazon and Walmart that are shipping goods across the country.  The driver shortage is already leading to delayed deliveries and higher prices for goods that Americans buy.  The ATA predicts that it's likely to get worse in the coming years.

The American Trucking Association published a report in October of 2019 showing that last year’s national shortage of 50,000 drivers may swell to a shortage of 174,000 drivers by 2026.

Many trucking companies are so desperate for drivers that they are offering signing bonuses and pay raises.  The trucking industry is currently demonstrating how an extraordinary labor shortage in one corner of the economy can spill out and affect the economy more broadly.

In the spring of 2018, Congress began considering a new piece of legislation proposed by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., called the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, also known as the DRIVE-Safe Act.  It aims to allow 18 year olds with their commercial driver’s licenses, or CDLs, the ability to drive commercial vehicles across state lines in an attempt to help prevent a nationwide driver shortage.

Most states allow truck drivers under 21 to crisscross a state, but those 18 to 20 are not allowed to cross state lines.  But many truckers are reaching retirement age in the next decade and leaving the workforce, and companies say they are having a tough time hiring new drivers. 

Supporters say lowering the age limit would expand the labor pool.  While the pay is decent – the average trucker’s salary is about $60,000 a year – it’s a tough job that requires drivers to be on the road for months at a time.

As it stands now drivers under the age of 21 must attend an apprenticeship program requiring them to complete, at minimum, 400 hours of on-duty time, including at least 240 hours of driving time chaperoned by an experienced driver in a truck equipped with cameras and a set speed cap of 65 mph.

The U.S. Department of Transportation set the rule decades ago because of concerns that drivers under 21 had a higher risk for accidents.

The proposal has come under recent criticism by those who agree with the DOT, arguing that allowing younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck is a potential recipe for more accidents.  There has always been the concern among industry experts that young drivers lack both overall experience and are less safe behind the wheel than older drivers.  Critics of the bill also say that this is just an effort to keep drive-churn going, keeping wages for truckers as low as possible.

But some in congress say that the change is necessary because the trucking industry is crucial in delivering goods, ranging from fresh vegetables to petroleum, around the country – and costs will go up on goods and the availability of those goods will go down if the current driver shortage isn’t addressed.

So the big question is, are younger drivers mature enough to safely manage a long cross-country trip?  Truckers have a great deal of responsibility on their shoulders when they are behind the wheel and it requires serious discipline and self awareness to be good at it.  Knowing your own limits with fatigue and weighing the demands of a scheduled deadline are essential for safe driving.  People often underestimate how much hard work goes into these long hauls that are so currently in demand for the industry.

What is your opinion on lowering the driving age for crossing state lines for the trucking industry?  Feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook Page.


TAXA Outdoors has recently come out with their new design for the teardrop trailer with a new class of modular camper called the Cricket.  The Cricket comes as two different models: the Cricket Camp and the Cricket Tent.   At only 15 feet in length and weighing a mere 1450 pounds, the Cricket can be pulled by most 4-cylinder vehicles.

As most teardrop campers sleep a maximum of two people, the Cricket, however, expands to sleep two adults and up to two children, and all with integrated plumbing and electrical systems that allow you to stay off the grid for days.  Swing windows with shade and mesh screens allow for ventilation and the interior boasts a pop-up table, covered sink and 6 cubbies for kitchen prep, storage, and cooking, and 12-volt lighting throughout the cabin.

The Cricket includes a custom patio awning, roof racks, fully enclosed shower tent, and a fridge and freezer in the galley at the rear.  Both models, however, have a bunch of additional features that can be added to make your Cricket just the way you like it.
  Head over here, for more info.

Bonus: A panoramic, 32-inch by 20-inch rear window ensures the cabin is awash in natural light.

Pricing: Starts at around $33,317.

There are a number writers and photographers that travel the country in search of these iconic rest stops; committing the memory of these vanishing icons to the pages of books that detail their stories and their locations.  If you appreciate these little roadside remnants, you may want to pick up one of these books and go visit them yourself, before they too are just memories recorded in a book.    

campfire cooking caldrons
dog playing in stream

Successful campfire cooking can be a real challenge when new to the experience of cooking over an open fire.  But one of the thrills of camping is the chance to break out of our daily routine and to live a little differently from the day to day grind we all know so well.  And with many camping recipes, you have the convenience of few or limited ingredients and that seems to be due to the simple enjoyment of cooking outdoors.  After all, who needs a lot of fancy ingredients when you're enjoying a canopy of stars!

Since the previous blog post covered some of the latest and greatest campfire cooking equipment on the market today; this week’s post will be a short list of some of the top campfire recipes that experienced campers have developed over time.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area on the Arizona-Nevada border south of Las Vegas, includes two large lakes and seven developed campgrounds: five on Lake Mead and two on Lake Mohave.

Although campgrounds in the park are open all year, the climate is much more pleasant in the fall and spring. NPS campgrounds offer restrooms, running water, dump stations, grills, picnic tables and shade. RVs, trailers and tents are welcome. Concessionaire-operated campgrounds with recreational vehicle hookups are also available within the park.

Wintering in the RV at the SW desert is fabulous for its wide, open landscapes, the extensive hiking & biking trails, and the fact that you can travel at your own leisure for very low cost. With fewer campers about due to the off-season, there is typically plenty of space available for you and your RV. 

It’s not the warmest winter spot in the USA, and it can get notoriously windy but it’s dry and without bugs.  Daytime temps are perfectly warm and if you want a bit of isolation, you can easily go boon docking in the desert to scout out some of the more private spots.

The Top Gear for Great Campfire Cooking


12099 Action Lane Waldorf, Maryland 20601

24hr Roadside Assistance: 240-299-0258

Phone: 301-870-5115 | Fax: 301-932-5706

Established 1996

Big Bend National Park in Texas offers three developed campgrounds that vary widely in suitability for various types of vehicles, and in elevation and climate.

Big Bend National Park in Texas

Joshua Tree National Park in California has nine campgrounds, and several which are closed during the period of low summer visitation reopen on October 1.

The park website has details about each campground, including the number of sites, elevation, and perhaps most important in a desert park, locations where water is available. You’ll also find information about which campgrounds accept advance reservations and which are first-come, first-served.

3 Newly Released Teardrop travel trailers

Teardrop campers which were originally popular in the 1960s have been making a comeback.  This style of camper delivers very well on convenience but does still present the same old challenge for some campers - claustrophobia!  But to be fair, the charm of these tiny travel trailers is that they are much less expensive than large towable campers and RVs, making them easier to tow across the country.  They also present convenience and lower costs for winter storage. 

The larger towable travel trailer designs require a robust vehicle to transport them because they can weigh as much as 3,500lbs.  So it's no surprise that the market for tiny trailers has grown substantially over the last decade as the go-to preference for camping enthusiasts who want more than a tent for their travels but don’t exactly want to commit to a larger RV.   A full size RV with all of the amenities may feel spacious and modern enough to dub a second home, the tiny towable camper is for the camping enthusiast who loves the full-time adventure of the great outdoors; spending only enough time under a roof for a good night’s sleep.  The tiny teardrop trailer  design is perfect for the hardcore ‘under the open sky’ outdoorsman and outdoorswoman.  

The Upside:

  • They are more affordable than a caravan or camper van, ranging from $10k up
  • They are easier to tow because they are about the size of a trailer and can be towed by a 4 cylinder economy car
    It’s easier to set up when you arrive at your destination - compared to a tent
  • You have a comfortable bed for the night, plus somewhere comfortable to retreat indoors to
  • They are insulated for greater temperature control, like staying warm at night
  • You have a kitchen to cook in, with bench space, sink, cutlery drawer and refrigerator.  The kitchen is permanently set-up, so it’s easier to use than a campervan kitchen.

The Downside:

  • The kitchen is outside.   If it’s raining, it won’t be very convenient but you can use tent extensions to help guard you from the storm.  
  • There is no toilet or shower (except for our third model listed here), this is clearly designed for campgrounds with access to bathroom facilities

Here we list three recent releases of the genre to highlight how far light-weight towable camper designs have come in recent years and how much convenience and comfort they provide for those who long for the road trip without the challenge of size, expense, and towable weight as a concern.

The Timberleaf Teardrop Travel Trailer

Kyung-Hyun Lew, a young college student developed this new look for a light weight and less expensive teardrop travel trailer; probably due to his own need for a self contained getaway space for summer break.  The result is what you might call a space age looking cabin on wheels, complete with gull-wing doors, and weighing in at less than 800 pounds.  The idea being that a 4 cylinder compact car can tow this travel trailer. 

Once he finished college he went into business producing the Polydrop for the Teardrop camper market place.  The unit starts at around $9,000 and sports a wooden cabin with an aluminum exterior and up to eight inches of insulation imbedded in the walls to keep out the elements.  There is an electric heater that runs off of shore power, instead of a gas heater.    Inside a “three-quarter” mattress will comfortably stow away two-adults.  In typical teardrop trailer-fashion, the rear roof lifts up to access space for a galley.  The entry-level $9,000 rig doesn’t include any appliances or other gear, so customers will have to add those items on their own.  Check out their website for more. 

Bonus: A 100-watt solar panel provides juice for LED lighting.

Pricing: Base Price - $9,000.

The Cricket Teardrop Travel Trailer

Mountains of Yosemite National Park

Some Helpful Tips for RV Traveling with Man's Best Friend

Gaviota Pass Rest Stop in California

Highway rest stops are one of the country’s most underrated elements of the enduring charm of Americana.  Many rest areas across the country were uniquely designed to reflect the history and appeal of their given city or state.

The Interstate Highway System, designed in the 1950s was a standardized highway from coast to coast, making all highway roads across the country uniform, from the thickness of the asphalt to the width of the double yellow line.  

The one design element that stayed under state jurisdiction was the design of rest areas.  Rest stops were designed to be unique and provide a window into local regions as tourists and truck drivers passed through them.  Developers decorated shelters with regional imagery such as bull horns, wagon wheels and windmills and designed buildings that reflected the architectural heritage of indigenous people.

As better roads allowed the traveling public and hard working truckers to travel increased distances it became apparent that they would need places to stop along the way.  Rest stops emerged in rural areas where commercial establishments were often unavailable.  They frequently appeared in areas of scenic interest or merely in a location where there was room for a car or truck to safely pull off the roadway.  These earliest waysides were born out of necessity.


Zion National Park Utah

Not every campground has hookups and dump stations.  You can usually get all the information you need at the park’s website.

Generator Regulations:
Every national park has its own rules about using generators, and some do not permit them at all.  Usually, you can use a generator, as long as it’s quieter than 60 decibels at 50 feet.  There are often designated hours when you are not permitted to run a generator.  Whether you use a generator or not, quiet hours are usually between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am.

The Cricket Teardrop Camper

Image Courtesy of Just a Taste

5. Berry S'mores

S'mores are a true campfire tradition and loved by anyone who has ever had a sweet-tooth.  Adding smashed berries to your s'more recipe is a refreshing twist and there are a number of other tasty versions of this campfire favorite.  Check out berries.comfor 9 fun alternatives to the traditional campfire s'more recipe.

There are a lot of really great campfire recipes out there and a lot of sound advice online for how to successfully cook while enjoying the great outdoors. As you see, you don't have to settle for standard camping food when you feel like having something more reminiscent of real home cooking.  Sometimes it's just a matter of a bit of creativity, a little know-how, and having the right campfire cooking equipment on hand. 

Happy Trails!

Image Courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

The National Park Service – NPS has long been dubbed “America’s best idea” and there are 397 National Parks across the US.  When you go camping in an RV, the nation’s most majestic scenery can be just outside your door.  But RV camping at our nation’s parks has its own rules and regulations to consider. 

rest area with bench and mountain and valley view

When spending time traveling across the country in an RV, you may reach a point where you want to bring along the family dog on trips instead of hiring pet sitters or frequenting kennels and pet hotels. 

After all, most dog owners feel their dog is part of the family and leaving them behind is one of the toughest parts about going on vacation.  Not to mention the popular trend of full time RVing which means living in very close quarters with your pets all the time.   So if you plan to take your dog with you on the open road, it will help to prepare for the unexpected and have a strong routine in mind for your dog's safety and well being.

One of the first things to consider is record keeping.  Campgrounds will often ask for proof of current immunizations so you want to get an extra copy from your vet of current immunizations to keep in your camper or RV.   Traveling away from home with your pet is one of the strongest arguments for micro-chipping your pet.  After all, if they escape in a strange and unknown environment, the chances are much slimmer that they will be able to find their way back to you in the same way the are able to in a neighborhood they are familiar with.

Acclimating your dog to your RV before setting off on a trip if your pet is nervous in new situations will benefit them.  Help them find their “spot” in the rig, and remember that many RV noises can scare them at first—especially the generator, water pump, furnace, and toilet.  It’s important to establish a daily routine from the beginning of your time together on the road to ensure that your pet learns the routine as quickly as possible.  You can smooth the transition by bringing along their favorite toys, treats, and their favorite bed.  This also helps to give the RV the familiar smells of your home and will help to relax your pet.  

Most dogs love to explore new places and they make excellent adventure companions!  Remember most campgrounds and trails require a standard 6-foot fixed leash so you'll have to leave the Flexi-Leash at home.  A dog pen for smaller dogs will be useful, so they don’t have to be on a leash all the time while enjoying the atmosphere of your campsite.

RVs and campers are capable of over heating easily like any other parked vehicle.  This is a top concern for your pet while camping.    Parking in the shade and using light reflecting blinds, cooking outside, and using an awning to block the sun from hitting your RV will serve to keep both you and your pets form getting overheated.

Remember that on the occasions where you have a long day or night away from the RV, you can use a nationwide pet sitting service like Rover to find local dog sitters to keep them from being confined and bored.

RVing with dogs is a fantastic way to travel.  It's easy to entertain the pups with adventures like hiking, swimming, even tubing or kayaking!  Remember to always have some of their favorite treats on hand to get their attention when needed.  Finally, know your surrounding flora and fauna where you're staying so that you can keep the dogs out of harm’s way.  And most of all, have fun with your 4-legged companions!  They'll absolutely love you for taking them on a road trip!

Horseshoe National Park Utah


Being that National Parks are visited by millions of travelers every year at peak season, any onsite or nearby campgrounds tend to be crowded places for the RV traveler.

While many NPS campgrounds have a combination of reserved and first come - first serve campsites, some campgrounds may only accept reservations made 5 days in advance.  RV camping reservations can be made through each park’s "Camping" section which can be found by clicking on the "Fees and Reservations" link on their home page.  

Experienced RV campers generally don’t recommend that you try and find an RV campsite at the last minute in these popular locations.  Sometimes you can find a non-reserved camp site but you have to be at the campground early and should expect to wait to find out if there are any openings.  Often 12 noon is considered to be too late for many campgrounds, so plan your trip to allow for early campground registration if you don't have reservations.

beltway truck and tire

Repair Shop & Inspections


golden field with stream yellowstone national park

Every four years, the ASCE  (American Society of Civil Engineers’) determines the quality of the country’s infrastructure by assigning a letter grade Report Card based upon the physical condition, performance, and necessary investments for the improvement of American infrastructure.

In both 2013 and 2017, the cumulative grade for America’s Infrastructure is a D+.  In decades past, our infrastructure has been a source of national pride but currently our roads, bridges, water, energy, and aviation networks are all in need of key investments for upgrading and reinforcing our near-failing system.  

The U.S. faces a funding shortfall of at least $2 trillion to bring infrastructure into an “adequate” state of repair.  The country places twelfth in the world in terms of quality of overall infrastructure, according to the World Economic Forum.

In recent years the AFL-CIO has launched a major effort to push for funding to upgrade the nation's aging infrastructure and energy-saving retrofits.  One of the key parts of any good infrastructure proposal according to the resolution on infrastructure passed at the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention, is that the plan should be “to reach into our communities—urban, suburban and rural—to help more Americans obtain workforce development opportunities that lead to middle-class careers, which our failure to invest has left out of reach for too many.”  

The Grading Scale According to the American Society of Civil Engineers:

The infrastructure in the system or network is generally in excellent condition, typically new or recently rehabilitated, and meets capacity needs for the future.   
A few elements show signs of general deterioration that require attention.
Facilities meet modern standards for functionality and are resilient to withstand most disasters and severe weather events.

The infrastructure in the system or network is in good to excellent condition
Some elements show signs of general deterioration that require attention
A few elements exhibit significant deficiencies
Safe and reliable, with minimal capacity issues and minimal risk

The infrastructure in the system or network is in fair to good condition
Shows general signs of deterioration that require attention
Some elements exhibit significant deficiencies in conditions and functionality, with increasing vulnerability to risk
The infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard
Many elements approaching the end of their service life
 A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration
 Condition and capacity are of serious concern with strong risk of failure


The infrastructure in the system is in unacceptable condition
Widespread advanced signs of deterioration
Many of the components of the system exhibit signs of imminent failure

In 2017 President Trump unveiled his long-awaited $1.5 trillion plan to repair and rebuild the nation's crumbling infrastructure.  Well beyond the halfway mark of his first term, the President has not been able to deliver on this plan.  The proposal is not one that offers large sums of federal funding to states for infrastructure needs, but it is instead a financing plan that shifts much of the funding burden onto the states and onto local governments.  Critics say that this plan will lead to higher state and local taxes, and an increased reliance on user fees, such as tolls, water and sewer fees, transit fares and airline ticket taxes.

Calls for infrastructure investment have increased from both major parties as concerns grow about disrepair and inefficiencies hamstringing the U.S. economy and costing lives.  In April 2017, 76 percent of Americans said they support Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, versus 12 percent who responded that they did not, according to a Gallup poll.

Members of both major parties see infrastructure as an area of universal political appeal.  President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have both cited it as a subject where they could cooperate in the current Congress.