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Venice, FL

Venice, FL

Our best trip ever.

October2013

By Herb Clark

We purchased our 2012 Libero last summer. After a few shake down cruises, we embarked on a trip to visit family and friends across much of the eastern half of the country.

Starting in Kansas, we headed to Rhode Island to share family birthdays with our son and grandson. It just happened to be mid-October so we got to take in all the beautiful New England fall foliage during this part of the trip. We said our farewells and set our GPS for Charleston, SC to visit our daughter and her baby there. The fall foliage tour continued with breath taking scenery traveling through the Appalachians on Interstate 81. Our time in Charleston was a joy spending time with our year old grandson and visiting one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to.

Our next destination was Venice, FL to spend some time with my Brother and Sister-in-law. Our first time to Florida and it was perfect. Right down to the local tradition of sitting on the beach and watching the sun set. As someone who has spent most of my life with a snow shovel in the garage, I get it Snow Birds! Florida rocks!

Then it was on to Dallas, TX. We have great friends there and spent a week visiting with them and going to some great restaurants. After 6 weeks of being “on the road”, we finally headed back to Kansas for some much needed sitting on our front porch. We love to travel but it is always great to get back home.

So, you ask, how did the Libero handle this 5000 plus mile trip? In a word, perfect! We had no problems and the “rig” did everything we asked of it with ease. We are already planning our next trip. We have been RVer’s for many years. This is our 3rd motor home and without question, the finest one we have owned.

On our way to Venice, FL.

On our way to Venice, FL.

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Vulcan, Alberta
September2013

My husband and I just bought one month ago, a Free Spirit SS and have been having so much fun travelling around our backyard Alberta. One trip we stopped at Vulcan, Alberta and snapped the attached picture. We think the van looks good in front of the Star Trek Enterprise. We have lived in Calgary, Alberta for over 30 years and never took the time before to stop and enjoy places like this until we got our Free Spirit SS. Thank you Triple E RV.

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Holland, MI
July2013

We have just arrived in Holland Michigan. What a neat little town. Lots to see and do. Holland State Park is right on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan with the big lake on one side and the small harbor at Holland on the other. We will be in this area and further up into upper Michigan going around Lake Superior in Canada to International Falls Minnesota and then circling back through Minnesota and Wisconsin for the next several weeks. This a great place to start our trip.

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Kutztown, PA
July2013

We took three months to tour the Northeast states and Ontario. It was a fun adventure with our one year old Unity IB. No tow car was needed since we only stayed for 1 or 2 nights in each place. We did our sightseeing in between destinations.

While in Kutztown, Pa we got lost and found ourselves at an old covered bridge. We were happy to be able to fit under it and continue on our way. Had we been traveling in our former A class, we would not have fit.

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East Coast, USA
June2013

My wife Steffi and I have been RV’ing since the early 70’s. Over the years we owned just about every type of RV that was available. However, our last three motorhomes since the early 90’s included a 32’ Class A Gas, 30’ Class A Diesel and for the past six years a beautiful 40’ thirty-four ton American Tradition diesel with two slides. During this time we have travelled more than 250,000 miles back and forth across our beautiful country. Mostly on the interstates.

Recently I turned 70 years old and was considering giving up the RV lifestyle. Driving forty footer, towing a car, unhitching the car in the campground etc was getting harder each time. In January at the Tampa FL Super Show I spotted the Unity 24MB. For whatever reason, I could not get this little coach out of my mind. This past May we stopped into RV World in Lakeland FL and were afforded the opportunity to test drive a brand new Unity 24MB. As I pushed the gas pedal to the floor going up the on ramp onto I-75w, I noted the speedo reading 80MPH. My last coach, at best, would be up to 40MPH entering traffic at this point. So to make a long story short, we purchased the Unity 24MB coach that very day.

A few weeks later we decided to take a trip from our home in Florida to Washington DC and tried to stay off the interstates as much as possible. We spent time with my younger son parked in his driveway in NC. His 20Amp circuit keeps the AC humming. Then onto the NC Outer Banks via ferry for several days of dry camping next to the ocean, then it was off to the Army Corps of Engineers project on the NC/VA border directly overlooking the John H Kerr Reservoir with 800 miles of shoreline in a pristine campground, complete with 50 Amps of power and water for only $12/day. Something we always wanted to do but were unable because of our past coaches size. Then up, and over the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Skyline Drive to my son’s home in DC we went. After five great days visiting with my oldest son and his wife and our grandchildren it was time to head home. This time we were it a little hurry to get home… so it was I-95 south. In the other coaches we owned we never wanted to drive more than five hours a day… we found it to be tiring to keep on trucking.

I don’t know what they did at Triple E, but my little 24’ coach took off south and we drove in comfort 12 hrs. a day for the 24 hour trip. The weather was ugly… hard rain 24/7, windy with limited vision… but we kept up with the big guys all the way. I think that the driver’s seat was designed to drive long periods of time. My other coaches had plush seating with perhaps less support. The distance from my house to my sons in DC is only 1000 miles. However as we pulled into my driveway in Florida, I noted that we actually drove 3,200 miles. We averaged just under 17 MPG travelling 62-65 MPH.

Lastly when most folks purchase new coaches, they plan to make a number of trips back to the dealer to get things fixed. I am sorry to say that the only thing that my new Unity 24MB coach needs is a good cleaning after all the bad weather we had during this trip. Along the way we met a number of folks that could not believe how much room we had inside. The in-wall Murphy Bed makes our little coach into a modest coach of at least 34’.

Thank you Triple E for making a coach that older folks, like me, will enjoy.

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By Guy & Connie Carter

We recently returned home from a wonderful 45 day trip out west in our 2012 Regency GT24MB leaving on May 25th from Memphis, TN and returning home on July 8th. Our trip was awesome, and the Regency performed flawlessly. We went 6,127 miles, traveled in 19 states, and toured four National Parks, state parks, and went into Canada to the factory at Winkler for some warranty work before heading home.

Canyon view campsite at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Canyon view campsite at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

The temps ranged from 112 degrees in Needles, CA to 42 degrees at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in the early morning. We dry camped there for seven days running the generator at the 2 hour allowed time in the morning and evening to recharge the batteries. Needless to say we used the AC, heat pump, and the furnace during our days on the road, and all that great insulation in the Regency really helps in the heat as well as the cold. Having the slide, Murphy bed, and wonderful large shower made for a wonderful camping experience.

We dodged a tornado in Oklahoma, but got hailed on in Amarillo, TX. which put holes in the bathroom vent cover. We drove heavy rains, in awful 40 to 50 MPH cross winds numerous times across the desert southwest, and went up and down 10%+ grades in the mountains. We traveled on interstates, state highways, and curvy narrow back roads. Touring four national parks – North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, AZ; Bryce Canyon National Park, UT; Capitol Reef National Park, UT; Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND; plus the Valley of Fire State Park, NV in the Mojave Desert gave us beautiful memories and many picture opportunities. We saw awesome scenery, met many wonderful people, had a fantastic time, and got to spoil our grandsons in Helena, MT. for a wonderful 5 days. Our Basset Hound, Bogie went along for the ride.

Scenic drive at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Scenic drive at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Now we are in the process of cleaning out the Regency. It’s great to be home and a special “Thank you” to Triple E for building a quality coach that we hope to use for many years ahead.

 

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Fort Casey State Park, WA

Fort Casey State Park, WA

Like your Own Cabin on the Waterfront

May2013

Only 40 miles from home, one of our favorite fair weather campsites is at Fort Casey State Park, on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island. Located right off the beach, next to the Washington State ferry terminal and public boat launch, one never tires of the many activities available. Walking through Fort Casey offers a historic glimpse of Coastal Artillery defenses a century ago. Beach combing, salmon fishing and the Keystone Scuba Dive Site are a stone’s throw away. If time permits, one can walk on the ferry for a half hour cruise to downtown Port Townsend for a bit of shopping. Or just relaxing at our campsite, listening to and watching the world around us, makes this a great weekend getaway.

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Camping on the Beach

Our two favorite forms of transportation

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Organ Pipe, AZ

Organ Pipe, AZ

A trip worth repeating.

January2013

By Wayne Towriss

Birds for a Snowbird.

It’s a mid January, 2013 morning, a degree or two below freezing, and we are headed south on the Alaska Highway. We’re going hunting for birds. Just leaving our home in Whitehorse, Yukon, my wife, Joyce, myself and two dachshunds, are in our 2012 Serenity Leisure Travel Van, taking advantage of the warm-weather window to make a dash for sunny Arizona.

Road Runner at Dead Horse Ranch, Cottonwood, Az

Road Runner at Dead Horse Ranch, Cottonwood, Az

I am a retired photographer and now take pictures mostly for my own pleasure. Bird watching is the number one sport in North America. I am not a true “birder” but a photographer who enjoys taking pictures of birds. I take the photo of the bird then check its ID in my bird book. Bird watchers seem to do it the other way around.

We have made this trip 6 times before to avoid winter months. I guess this makes us “snowbirds”. Most of these trips were in a truck and camper, and last year, on the winter shake-down cruise for our RV, it had been a chilly 30 degrees colder. This year we want to make miles before any change in the weather. The pavement is sanded on curves and hills, and we have a pleasant first-day run to Liard Hot Springs.

The Serenity is toasty warm.

Liard is a beautiful natural hot spring with swimming winter and summer. The campground is snowed in so we choose to spend the night with the semis in the rest stop just across the road. The pull-out has out houses. We don’t water-up until further south, when temperatures get high enough to prevent frozen water lines. We have dinner, throw an extra comforter on the bed, turn off the furnace and doze off to the purr of the idling trucks. They come and go all night.

Sandhill Crane at Whitewater Draw, Az

Sandhill Crane at Whitewater Draw, Az

Morning arrives. It is even warmer (about +13C) and is pouring rain. The highway has been amply sanded and after an hour and a half we arrive at Toad River Lodge. We top up our fuel (always a good idea traveling in winter). Although diesel is expensive on “The Highway”, I almost enjoy fueling up as the Serenity is getting close to double the mileage of the truck and camper. At the lodge we are told that the sanding truck has broken down, the highway is icy to the south with trucks in the ditch, and it is recommended that we don’t go any further that day.

“Just find a spot to park out back, no charge, and spend the night.”

We drink lots of coffee, read everything in the camper, eat a nice dinner in the lodge, and make the bed. The motor home is mud from front to back and it is raining even harder.

Morning brings a different day. The torrent that came down all night has stopped and our home has been washed sparkling clean. We have breakfast in the lodge and by 10 a.m. trucks are getting through from the south. The sander has done its job. Truckers tell us the highway is now good all the way to Dawson Creek, but a storm has come in behind us. There is a foot of snow on the road to Whitehorse and at least one truck is on its side in the ditch. Good thing we are headed south!

The trip is uneventful down through British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and we cross into the USA at Osoyoos. In winter it usually takes us about 24 hours of actual driving time from Whitehorse to the border. We spread it over several short days. We head south through Omak on Highway 97, through Moses Lake to Pendleton (Walmart parking lot) and then cut east on Highway 94 to Ontario. We travel on down into Winnemucca, Nevada, where we hit the coldest temperatures of the 2013 trip; -17C when we leave in the morning and -22C only half an hour later. Down Highway 95 through Fallon (use the car wash) , Tonopah, and on to a little RV park just north of Beatty. Temperatures are now up to +10 C. We water up, spend a warm night, and go west into Death Valley. Temperatures climb by at least 15C more and we take a week to photograph the sand dunes and warm up.

On to Quartzsite where there are thousands of RVers camping in the desert visiting the huge annual rock and rv show. This little town of a few hundred swells to upwards of a million and the show is advertised as the largest gathering of RVs and RVers on earth.

We overnight then move on to Yuma, AZ, spending a few weeks relaxing with friends and relatives. Yuma is my first real opportunity to do some bird photography. I have spent hours in the Hummingbird Park along the river that separates Arizona and California and more hours with the Long-billed Curlews as they feed near the Sunny Sands RV Park on their northern migration.

On east to Organ Pipe National Monument. We never miss a chance for a date shake at Dateland. It sounds like a strange drink but is absolutely delicious.

Looking into Mexico, over Organ Pipe Campground

At Gila Bend, before heading south to the park. You might run into a fellow that will tell you “H—-No! Don’t go down there! The Mexicans will shoot you or the military will bomb you (the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range is in the area).” This is what he told us on our first trip and I have met several others who have heard the same story. I don’t know what his problem is or if he owns an RV park in the area, but disregard everything he says.

We go anyway and feel safe doing it. Thousands spend weeks every year, camping among the cactus in the area, some on the public BLM lands in the desert, some in private RV parks in small towns along the route, and many, like us, go straight to Organ Pipe National Monument.

Organ Pipe is one of our favourite spots. The rustic campground is full of birds, cactus, and (when the weather and rainfall is right) flowers. It has lovely trails and I have spent hours and hiked miles searching for Cactus Wrens, Gila Woodpeckers, and Sage Thrashers. In February these birds are in their early nest-building stage and are quite easy to approach.

Camping at Organ Pipe

Camping at Organ Pipe

One thing that many desert parks don’t promote is the fact that Pack Rats like to build nests on, and chew the wiring of, RV motors. It helps to keep the hood up at night. We were having a glass of wine with friends about 10 pm when we heard a noise. I opened the hood to find one of the rats chewing on the firewall of my brand-new Serenity. Apparently the wall is soy based and the rodents think it is a great late night snack. Rats like dark places so even starlight helps keep them away if the hood is open at night.

Southern Arizona is full of bird-watching areas and bird-watchers. Some of our other favorites are Dead Horse Ranch State Park (where I shot hundreds of photos of Great Blue Herons and other water birds, as well as hundreds more of Roadrunners), Lost Dutchman State Park (where I have spent a good deal of time with Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxia, and the Vermillion Flycatcher), Cave Creek (for Acorn Woodpeckers) and Whitewater Draw, near Tombstone, where thousands of Sandhill Crane and other water birds stage before heading north. We also usually spend couple of weeks at Lost Dutchman each trip. It is also a great park for scenics when the Mexican Poppies are in bloom.

The Elegant Trogon at Patagonia State Park

The Elegant Trogon at Patagonia State Park

The single bird I have had the most fun with is the Elegant Trogon at Patagonia State Park. This parrot-like bird lives primarily in Mexico and points further south. I am told there are fewer than six individual birds in the United States, but I have managed to find and photograph this one on six different trips. In 2013 I got great shots of him again, before we were forced out of the park by a late blizzard. We pushed more snow between Patagonia and Tucson than we did down the Alaska Highway.

The male Elegant Trogon is a gorgeous specimen with reds and greens and I love to get new photos each time I find him. I keep hearing there may also be a female in the park. She has more drab colouring, but beautiful as well. It would be great to have a picture of both.

Maybe next year.


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California / Arizona
January2013

When I bought my Serenity I was the proudest owner that could ever drive this vehicle. Everywhere I went I felt okay that people were more interested in looking at my vehicle than me. So when I took in on my Snowbird trip in January 2012…I was not prepared for the change in my travel experiences.

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It was cute at first. The couples strolling and stopping to ask about the van and its features..It was even okay that they came in and had a look around. I was so excited to tell them about the pantry (my fav feature)..and all the storage. It was even okay that I felt I had to houseclean every morning in case of unexpected visitors. Then the rules had to change…I brought some brochures along and thought maybe its time I changed my approach…Then we had to go to alternately pretending we were sick..:”:Sorry not today”….or that one of us was sleeping…”Sorry”….

But it didn’t stop them…Sitting outside sipping liquers ..watching an Arizona full moon ….little tiny voice..”Excuse me…could we bother you” So we moved inside for meals…but still…tap tap tap….’Sorry to disturb you..my wife would love to see inside”….So another cold meal later we had made them happy..the older ones are so cute..how can you say NO….

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Then ….the best one…Coming out of Safeway parking lot , I looked in my side mirror and saw a small car , lights flashing, male driver waving. Not an easy task, I pulled my Serenity to the curb..He got out and said “I hope I didn’t scare you..but my wife and I just have to ask to see your van”.

So then had to have a fix….so got out brochures and gave them to each person…Told them to go online and watch Dean , who would give them a virtual tour of the van…

img_0184We were prepared in 2013 and had tons of brochures…The trip started a bit slower and quieter..but then we heard the voices (we almost missed them)…”Excuse me………..” and we would give in once again.

We love our Serenity. Can’t wait for 2014 Snowbird. We are making up a little sign..cute one….NO TOURS TODAY…hahahhahah

- Laurie Jones

 

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New York State Parks, NY
September2012

Our decision to travel along the northern coast of New York proved to be an excellent one. The first State Park we stopped at was a true gem. Although it was one of the tiniest parks we’ve ever encountered, with only 50 sites, Golden Hill was thoughtfully planned out, so that every spot had a great view.

Because it was past Labor Day and the crowds of summer were long gone, we had our pick of sites. We chose one right on Lake Ontario where I could have my morning coffee and evening glass of wine sitting peacefully in the charming gazebo right outside our door.

We had just arrived when the camp host invited us to watch the blazing sunset from the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse, another of the park’s unique features. After at least five major shipwrecks in the area due to the treacherous rocky shoals and shifting sandbars of the Lake, the Lighthouse was built in 1875. The tower’s navigational light could be seen from 18 miles away, giving sea captains the ability to identify the shoreline location.

If you would like to step back into the 19th century, you can even rent the lighthouse attendant’s quarters, which have been fully restored by the Friends of Thirty Mile Point.

Manny and I are usually on the move, staying one night or two at each location. Golden Hill State Park, however, was a special place, one where we luxuriated for four whole days.

Further north, we stopped at another New York treasure, Cedar Point State Park. One of the oldest State Parks in New York, it was established in 1897.

Once again, Manny and I were graced with a terrific campsite.

As we sat by our campfire enjoying the evening air, we could almost reach out and touch the huge freighters as they thundered up and down the mighty St. Lawrence River.

For the full story, see http://2adventurers.com/america/new-york-state-parks/nggallery/

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Trois Rivières, QC
September2012

Manny and I both have our duties. He is the driver, dumper, videographer and webmaster. I am the cook, travel coordinator, photographer and writer. Surprisingly, the job of travel coordinator is the most difficult for me to pull off successfully. It isn’t easy to go into a new city and know where to go, what to see and when to do it all.

Most travel guides, even those provided at the tourist information centers, are painfully boring. I’ve started consulting Trip Advisor and similar travel websites for the opinions and photos of other visitors.

We were headed for Trois Rivières, an old port city between Montreal and Quebec. A friend of ours, Kathy Lariviere, owns a web design business in Iowa called Three Rivers Promotions, so Manny and I wanted to buy her a memento from her French namesake. While there, I wanted to check out what Trois Rivières had to offer.

On almost every web site I visited, the number one recommendation was the Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Cap. Visited by thousands of believers each year, the basilica is Canada’s national shrine to the Virgin Mary. The Madonna inside the chapel has been considered miraculous since 1888, when her eyes allegedly became animated.

We wound our way down narrow streets, through construction bypasses and rush hour traffic, and finally arrived at the massive church. Although it seats over 1600 worshippers, Manny and I were the only ones there to experience the peace and tranquility that filled the sanctuary. After lighting a candle for Gerardo, Manny’s father, we left the basilica feeling refreshed and renewed.

Just as we wondered where we would spend the night, we noticed a number of RVs parked below the church in an expansive lot bordering the St. Lawrence River. When we approached, we read a sign which indicated that this area was designated as accommodations for the pilgrims who wished to stop at the peaceful haven and rest in a spiritual environment.

Aside from its massive church, Notre-Dame-du-Cap offers visitors a wonderfully serene garden with sculptures depicting scenes from the lives of Jesus and Mary, where one can stroll and meditate peacefully.

Although neither Manny nor I consider ourselves religious, we are spiritual people. Like many other weary travelers, we felt welcomed at this retreat. As it was late in the year, after most of the visitors had left, there was plenty of room for our little Serena.

When we entered the area, we were received warmly, instructed on the rules —including a three day maximum stay— and given an envelope for whatever donation we wished to make. Although there was no water or electric provided, the sites were spectacular, with the best and closest river view we have had yet.

For the full story, see http://2adventurers.com/canada/a-church-with-a-view/nggallery/

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By Mike, Lani & Ryan Elias

The day started bright and early, just after 5 AM. Apparently it’s quite chilly at that time of day, but with a quick coffee we were out the door. We were on a mission to shoot some brochure quality photographs of the two RV’s we had brought out to the Whiteshell Provincial Park. On some summer mornings, there is a beautiful “misty” fog over the lake, and we were hoping that we would be so fortunate. Well, it turns out that missing a few hours of sleep that morning was most certainly worth it. We shot a number of photos around the lakes in the Whiteshell before heading off to Kenora to see if we could find some different backdrops there.

With a good portion of the exterior photos for the 2013 brochures taken in one day, I’d say overall the day was a success. Here’s a few of the photos from the day.

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Bryce Canyon, UT
March2012

One of my favorite parks to tour in my Free Spirit is Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. I visited in mid march which meant that there was still snow on the trails but it was not crowded at that time of the year and there was plenty of parking. The views are incredible. One has to see the rich red and orange colors of the hoodoos to really appreciate them. I wanted to stay longer but a winter storm was on the way which ultimately dumped several feet of snow on the mountains.

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Cannon Beach, OR
July2009

By Mike, Lani, Ryan & Lori Elias

Our 5-day trip down to Cannon Beach started out in Vancouver, BC. The first day of our trip consisted of a few hours of driving and a tour of the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. For anybody travelling in the area, it is well worth the trip. It was amazing to see how something of such large scale is put together.

cliffsDriving down the Washington and Oregon coast was absolutely stunning. The views from the cliffs looking down on the coastline was a sight to remember. We stopped off at the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook, OR. We enjoyed the tour, along with some tasty souvenirs for the road!

The highlight of the trip was most definitely Cannon Beach, OR. The views, the sand, and the town all made for an enjoyable couple of days. The beach features the famous “Haystack Rock”, which extends over 200 feet above water. What an impressive site! One interesting thing about Cannon beach is you can buy firewood (at least you could during our visit) in the town and make yourself a oceanside campfire!

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