11745 Pika Drive Waldorf, Maryland 20602

24hr Roadside Assistance: 240-299-0258

Phone: 301-870-5115 | Fax: 301-932-5706
beltwaytruckandtire@gmail.com

Established 1996

VW Logo on front of vehicle

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
The Cricket Teardrop Camper

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.

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 different.  Sometimes it's just a matter of creativity, a little know-how, or even just having the right campfire cooking equipment on hand. 


Happy Trails!

Polydrop Travel Trailer

America’s Endangered Iconic Highway Rest Stops

campfire cooking grill

Essential Considerations When RV Camping at National Parks

MARYLAND | WASHINGTON DC | NORTHERN VIRGINIA


 Truck & Trailer Repair | RV & Camper repair 

Heavy Equipment Rentals

The Electronic Logging Device Mandate ~ as it Currently Stands

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

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 beautifully designed birch 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

vintage teardrop camper
old road sign | antique cars | Arizona desert

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.


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.

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.

 

Yellowstone National Park

Campsites:

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.


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.

truck driving on highway
boy with grilled cheese sandwich
campfire cooking

Tips for Keeping Mice Out of Your RV

5 Easy Campfire Recipes for Your next camping trip

Big Bend National Park in Texas

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.    

Horseshoe National Park Utah

Reservations:

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.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona

Most Loved Road trip Apps for Camping Enthusiasts

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.

puppy looking expectantly
Joshua Tree National Park in California

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.

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

TogoRV

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




iOverlander

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

 



Navigation

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



Waze

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



Roadtrippers

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!

Latest News & Topics of Interest

Horseshoe National Park Utah
Gaviota Pass Rest Area in California
Lake Mead in Arizona
winding road through the desert southwestern USA
mice eating a loaf of bread
campfire rosemary potatoes

FMCSA’s Notice of Proposed Revisions to HOS Rules ~ August 2019

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.


The Association of Equipment Manufacturers recently launched a digital ad campaign intended to remind the new Congress and the Trump administration of the bipartisan support for upgrading U.S. public works and urging them to "start with infrastructure" in 2019.

The $100,000 campaign ran for two weeks, from the beginning of December through to the 14th and featured a 30 second online video with a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent touting the importance of modern highways in California for on-time deliveries, broadband technology in Texas for agricultural yields, and reliable infrastructure in Ohio for clean drinking water.

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway, and bridge improvements returns $5.20 in the form of lower vehicle maintenance costs, decreased delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, lower road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow. 


In 2017, the Value of Water Campaign commissioned a poll for Infrastructure Week in which they found that 67% of those surveyed said rebuilding the nation's infrastructure should be a high priority for Washington.

There was a time when Congress would pass multi-year plans to fund improvements to the nation's transportation system.  The last highway bill covering multiple years expired in 2009.  Since then, congress has passed a series of 36 short-term measures, each of them lasting only a few months each to prop up the Federal Highway Trust Fund.  In December 2015, the House and Senate approved one of these short-term measures - a $305 billion bill intended to repair and expand highways, bridges, and transit for five years.


According to Transportation Department data on the nation's bridges for instance, report that more than one in four bridges (173,919) are at least 50 years old and have never had major reconstruction work, according to the department's analysis.  State transportation officials have identified 13,000 bridges along interstates that need replacement, widening or major reconstruction.

The five states with the most deficient bridges are Iowa with 4,968, Pennsylvania with 4,506, Oklahoma with 3,460, Missouri with 3,195 and Nebraska with 2,361. The eight states where at least 15% of the bridges are deficient are: Rhode Island at 25%, Pennsylvania at 21%, Iowa and South Dakota at 20%, West Virginia at 17%, and Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma at 15%.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) has remained very active in their support of the federal government continuing to have a strong role in funding our national highway infrastructure.  The ATA has testified before Congress at least 19 times since 2006 in support of increasing the federal fuel tax to inflation, but Congress has so far refused to support an increase.

The ATA in early 2018 called on Congress to implement the Build America Fund which assigns a 20-cent-per- gallon user fee on all transportation fuels including diesel, gasoline, and natural gas.  The fee would be applied at the wholesale terminal rack, before fuel reaches the retail gas pump, and indexed to inflation and improvements in fuel efficiency.  It is estimated that the fund would generate $340 billion over the course of a decade.

At some point the fuel tax would need replacing as the primary funding source for highways due to advances in alternative fueling systems.  A Vehicle Miles-Traveled Tax might be implemented but there are serious issues related to privacy, data security, and evasion that would need to be addressed.

With trucking freight alone expected to increase 29% in the next 10 years, not to mention the increase of personal vehicles on our highways and bridges; the big question for the transportation sector and for the nation is how will our infrastructure handle such anticipated growth?


The Classic Teardrop Looks To Be Back in Business for 2020 and beyond

the nation's Highway Transportation Performance


Where do we go from here?


As we all know, automakers are under increasing pressure from regulators to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.  And this in addition to recent emissions scandals that have prompted Volkswagen to pursue a radical shift toward electric vehicles.

Volkswagen officially announced that the year 2026 will be the last product start on a combustion engine platform,” VW chief of strategy Michael Jost said at the Handelsblatt automotive summit conference near the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.  “Our colleagues are working on the last platform for vehicles that aren’t CO2 neutral.  We’re gradually fading out combustion engines to the absolute minimum.”

Increasingly, European automakers are expressing a newfound interest in electric vehicles and other zero-emissions drivetrains.  At the Paris Motor Show last October,  BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Volkswagen and numerous other automakers all showed concept cars and future products that focus on emissions-free driving, whether via battery-electric or some other form of propulsion.

Volkswagen plans to add a subcompact crossover costing about $21,000 to its all-electric I.D. range, expanding its lineup of zero-emissions vehicles that are more affordable and therefore more accessible to those who’ve been waiting for a more affordable model of the EV to hit the automobile market.

Jost said Volkswagen will continue its internal combustion engine technology after the next-and-last generation rolls out over a period of a decade.  Volkswagen envisions a role for gasoline and diesel vehicles in remote areas lacking sufficient charging stations.

It is rumored that the entry level vehicle may be built at VW’s factory in Emden, Germany but the plan hasn’t received final approval by the manufacturer’s supervisory board as of yet.  Sales could start sometime after 2020, and the company expects to sell about 200,000 per year.  That would put it on par with current production levels of the more-expensive Tesla Model 3, the U.S. electric-car leader’s most affordable vehicle.

A resolution was just passed last autumn in Germany’s Bundesrat, the government’s legislative body representing the sixteen German states, that would ban the sale of internal combustion engines in the European Union by 2030.  Only zero-emissions vehicles would be allowed on the market after that time, according to the resolution which passed with bi-partisan support.

The resolution implores the EU Commission to ban the sale of new vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel internal-combustion engines starting in 2030; vehicles sold before the ban would still be allowed, but after 2030, automakers would be banned from selling new fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the EU. 

The Bundesrat has no direct authority over the EU, and cannot demand changes to the EU's transportation regulations. But as the largest government and most powerful economy in the EU, German government decisions exert a powerful influence over the EU and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

 

campfire s'mores

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! 

Keeping mice out of your RV can be even more difficult than keeping them out of your home – especially when parked for the winter season.  Here are some effective ways to help prevent visits from these unwanted guests.


Most people assume that by cleaning up immediately after meals and ensuring that all human and pet foods are sealed your RV will be mouse-free. 

This strategy may work in a traditional living space like your actual home but it may not be quite so easy in a nontraditional living space such as an RV.

Recreational Vehicles require unique solutions for pests - as they do for many other things.  And despite your best efforts, cleanliness may only go so far.  There will always be critters looking for a warm, dry place to call home. 

Many RV owners are resourceful people and they have lots of helpful suggestions for mouse problems.  Here we are going to examine some of the suggested solutions for preventing mice infestations in to help you figure out the best answer for your situation.

Using Scent and Sound Deterrents

Scents:
Using various scents to keep mice at bay is usually the first thing RVers try to correct the problem.  Mice are very sensitive to certain types of smells.  Commonly recommended deterrents include peppermint oil, mothballs, pine needle spray, dryer sheets, and it has been said that even Irish Spring bars of soap deter rodents.

Out of all of these suggestions, it seems that mothballs and mint oil have the best track record according to various RV bloggers.  While mice may not like these smells, they are extremely persistent.  A mouse might keep coming back until the deterrent has worn off, or they will find a place where the deterring smell doesn’t reach well and is less irritating to them. 

Never the less, it seems the best practice for a scent deterrent is to place multiple bowls of mothballs or pieces of cloth soaked in peppermint oil in the various spots you suspect they may be entering and hanging around at.  Replacing them as needed.  

Ultrasonic Sound Devices:
Another suggestion is to use ultrasonic devices that repel mice.  While they may work right next to where the device is plugged in, that doesn’t help much in areas where the mice actually enter and dwell in your RV – typically where there are no plugins.  Professional pest control services routinely state that the level of ultrasonic sound waves emitted by these devices is actually too small to have much effect throughout even the smallest of living spaces.

Creating Physical Barriers

 Spray Foam and Caulk:
The best way to combat mice is to prevent them from entering your RV in the first place by creating impassable physical barriers.  One popular quick fix people try is using canned spray foam to plug up holes where the mice chewed through the floor or wall.  While foam is a fantastic way to stop air from flowing through open cracks, it won’t stand the test of time against mice.  It is simply not a match for their teeth.  

The same thing goes for caulking.  Caulk is great to help prevent drafts from coming in.  It also helps keep smells of food you have in the RV from seeping out and acting like a beacon to area mice.  However, if you are dealing with known mouse entry points, you need to consider other options because they can chew right through caulk.

 Steel Wool:
One tried and true barrier material for plugging up mouse holes is steel wool.  Mice will not chew through it.  You can purchase steel wool in any hardware or paint store; just be sure to get the variety without soap.  You want the steel wool that’s used for stripping wood, not cleaning pots and pans.

Simply take a wad of steel wool and stuff it back into the hole where you know mice have entered, then seal up the hole.  Next, go around to the outside/underside of your RV and try to figure out what path a mouse might take to get inside and try to locate any other potential access points. 

Mouse Traps

Poison Traps:
Many people turn to this option when dealing with rodents.  Most RVers however, have an appreciation for nature and something to think about when you set out D-con or other rodent poisons is that you may very well spread that poison to animals like owls, hawks, foxes, and even cats because the mouse may wander outside before it dies and could then be eaten by another animal. 

Mouse Traps and Humane Catch and Release Traps:
This of course makes a good argument for the old traditional spring mouse trap and even the humane mouse trap; a type of trap that allows you to catch and release the mouse.  They sell an electronic ‘no touch - no see’ version for the extra squeamish among us.  The key to this tactic is that you would check the traps frequently and relocate the mice to an open field or set of woods far enough away that they will not be coming back to your neck of the woods in their lifetime.  You can buy multiple traps in a pack and they are very affordable.

Every setup is unique, and each of us must decide what works best for our RV, camper, or motor home.  And even the most suitable solutions can still require minor adjustments.  Now that you have some insight into what your fellow RV enthusiasts have been experimenting with, you can actually begin to plan your own strategy for combating this common problem……..just in time for winter!          

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.

Timberleaf Travel Trailer

On December 18, 2017, new regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) came into effect.  They require the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), for almost all commercial semi-trucks.

ELDs record date, time, location, engine hours, mileage, trucking company, specific vehicle, and driver ID.  Law enforcement will use the data from the ELDs to fine trucking companies whose drivers exceed the legal limit for hours on the road.

Most truckers are adapting to the new rule, which was put in place to make sure they didn’t exceed driving limits.  Truckers are limited by federal law to driving no more than 11 hours a day within a 14-hour workday.  Drivers must then be off duty for 10 consecutive hours.  The electronic device mandate was part of a transportation reauthorization bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2012.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed a request with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for at least a five-year small-business exemption from the mandate’s requirements.  The request came sharply on the heels of the FMCSA announcing it has granted a 90-day extension of the enforcement date specifically for agricultural haulers, including but not limited to those hauling livestock.  Many livestock producers have been pushing for a longer exemption period.

Already, some specific exemptions for other entities, like United Parcel Service, have been granted.  Other exemptions include drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000, because the devices aren’t compatible with older engines.

The electronic devices hold drivers to a more rigid compliance with hours-of-service regulations, which federal regulators and law enforcement officials say is needed to prevent fatigued driving.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates the devices will eliminate 1,844 crashes, prevent 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually.  Though the underlying rules for driving times haven’t changed, the tool for measuring compliance with those rules has.

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday May 20th stamped approval on a 2019 Department of Transportation funding bill that would give livestock haulers until October 2019 to adopt the electronic logging device.  The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

If enacted, the act would also allow carriers with 10 or fewer trucks to use paper logs to record duty status, instead of electronic logging devices.  To become law, the bill must be passed by the House and the Senate and be signed by President Trump.

Congress has already exempted livestock and bee haulers from compliance with the ELD mandate through September 2018.  The House’s DOT funding bill, if passed as-is, would extend that same waiver to the end of the 2019 fiscal year — Sept. 30, 2019.

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!


RV parked by river Yellowstone National Park
truck driver | electronic logging device

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. 

Highway infrastructure repairs
lumberjack campfire breakfast
campfire cooking caldrons
Rocky Cliffs Zion National Park Utah

Volkswagen to Begin Phase out of Combustion Engine Car by 2026

Age Limit Changes on the Horizon Due to Truck Driver Shortage

Ivy clad hive shaped iconic rest stop

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.

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the number of hours a truck driver may drive per day and also the total number of hours they are permitted to work per week.  These rules have been established for both the safety of the drivers and the safety of others on the road.  Such regulations place a limit on how much time can be spent driving to ensure drivers are adequately rested each time they get behind the wheel.  

On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the promised changes they’ve proposed for the Hours of Service (HOS) rules.

“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

FMCSA Administrators are encouraging drivers and all CMV stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed changes to the HOS rules at regulations.gov .

 

The 5 Key Revisions to the Existing HOS Rules:


  • FMCSA proposes tying the 30 minute break rule to 8 hours of continuous driving time without an interruption for at least 30 minutes. The break will be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving, rather than off duty.
  • Modify the sleeper-berth exception allowing drivers to split their 10 hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least 7 hours and the second of no less than 2 hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth.  This will not count against the 14-hour driving window.
  • Allow an off-duty break of 30 minutes up to 3 hours that would pause a driver’s 14-hour driving window, if the driver takes 10 hours off-duty after the work shift.
  • Modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending the drive time window by 2 hours.
  • Change the short-haul exception and make the driver’s max on-duty period 14 hours instead of 12 and extend the distance limit from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.




The changes proposed to the HOS regulations will not increase driving time for CMV operators and will still require a 30-minute change in duty status for every 8 hours driven.  FMCSA’s proposed rule is estimated by the Department of Transportation to save the U.S. economy and American consumers $274 million. 

family camping dog

Zion National Park Utah

Hookups:
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.

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. 

dog playing in stream

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.

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.

Essential Gear for Great Campfire Cooking

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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.

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top 5 Winter Camping destinations in the American Southwest

rest area with bench and mountain and valley view
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golden field with stream yellowstone national park

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.

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.  Young Americans are ignoring the job openings because they fear self-driving trucks will soon dominate the industry.  Waymo, the driverless car company owned by Alphabet, just launched a self-driving truck pilot program in Atlanta, although trucking industry veterans argue it will be a long time before drivers go away entirely.

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 more 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 2017 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.

Drivers undr the age of 21 are required to attend an apprenticeship program requires young drivers to complete, at minimum, 400 hours of on-duty time, including at least 240 hours of driving time chaperoned by an experienced driver and equip all training trucks with cameras and a set a 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 some who agree with the DOT, arguing that allowing younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck is a recipe for disaster.  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 say that this is just an effort to keep drive-churn going and keep wages for truckers as low as possible.

But Rep. Hunter is saying the change is necessary because the trucking industry keeps America going by 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 issue 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.  You know, knowing your own limits with fatigue and weighing the demands of a scheduled deadline.  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.



 

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.


Firewood
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!