The Xscapers 2019 Annual Bash in Review

The Escapees/Xscapers 2019 Annual Bash is underway here in Lake Havasu and to say we’re wildly impressed would be an understatement. What the Escapees RV Club has done with Xscapers is nothing short of incredible. And seeing the explosive growth of the Annual Bash from 2018 to 2019 has us wondering just how big this event can really get!

Before we get to this year’s event, let’s take a short hike back in time to give some history on it all. As much as we know anyway.

Xscapers was founded as a part of the Escapees RV Club a few years back to give digital nomads a more direct relationship to the broader RV community. It’s not necessarily geared towards younger RVers so much as it’s geared towards those who actively work while living a life on the road. Of course, being that its made up of mostly working age nomads it does tend to trend a bit younger, but attending an Xscapers event will quickly reveal it’s becoming a comfy home to a wide range of nomads from all walks of life and all age ranges.

This is the fourth annual bash, we believe. The first one had just a hand full of RVs. The second one was much bigger. Last year (2018) saw the number of RVs climb into the hundreds and 2019 is a a significant increase that shows the sky is the limit on where this all goes moving forward.

You see, in 2018 the bash was held in Quartzsite on BLM land. It was big. Very big. And at the size it had grown to a point in which managing everything became a challenge. Being BLM land the organizers can’t put up structures or tents. Making the idea of organized events and meetings a challenge. Especially with the number of RVs that were clearly going to be attending the event from that point forward.

So in 2019 the event was moved to Lake Havasu and hosted in a more controlled environment. It’s at the Lake Havasu City Rodeo Grounds, a sprawling piece of land with buildings, stands, coordinated sections of dirt lot and bathroom/shower facilities. Not only is it a great place for an event such as this, it shows that event organizers are going to have a big challenge on their hands in the many annual bash events ahead.

Why? Because the event is already outgrowing this location and it’s only been here once. In fact, according to Xscapers staff tickets to this event sold out. Meaning, they may have been able to DOUBLE the 500+ RVers here. Or even triple! Who knows because they sold out!

Amazing to say the least. Now let’s review each component.

PARKING & SET UP

Anyone who works on large RV events know the key is a good parking experience. Xscapers have proven to be masters at this. When you have hundreds of RVs piling into one entrance point in a single day there is no room for error. Any bottle necks or wrong moves can create chaos. Chaos that sets the tone of the entire event.

This was possibly the smoothest opening day we’ve ever seen. Ever!

RVs didn’t back up in huge lines. The gate staff were friendly (even fun as they were all dressed like Elvis!) and welcoming. The entire RV parking process was about as quick and painless as one could hope for. Very, very impressive.

And in terms of the parking layout it’s very clear Xscapers listened to feedback in previous years and made plans based on making it all even better. There is an area for the partiers, keeping the late night noise contained to a section anyone who wants sleep can avoid. And giving those who want to “bash” a place to do it without concern of what others think of it all while trying to work.

There is a generator area and a generator friendly family area that keeps all the RVs without solar in a section where the noise doesn’t bother those who don’t need to run generators all day. And there is a big solar area for those seeking a more quiet experience without being too far from all the action.

This is genius. Very well thought out and perfectly executed.

5 out of 5 on the parking.

EVENTS & SCHEDULE

Last year was pretty impressive. There were plenty of panels to learn from and events to participate in. But this year is a whole different animal. There are bounce houses, live music on a nearly daily basis, unique potlucks/food gatherings, panels, demonstrations, kick ball and so much more. There is definitely something for everyone. And everything is spaced out so as not to feel extremely overwhelming. There are family oriented events, solo events and events for all of the above.

And because it’s all hosted in a more controlled environment, the events happen in a much more comfortable atmosphere. With a more coherent central gathering point.

5 out of 5 on events and schedule.

STYLE & THEME

This is a world class event. And that’s one of the most fascinating parts of it all. Last year it was out in BLM land so in a lot of ways it just felt like hundreds of us were boondocking together at the same time. This year’s event feels more like a carefully planned and managed event. And you feel like you’re at something with intent and purpose.

The branding is fantastic. There are themed nights (Kick off night was 80s night) and a lot of attendees are going full throttle to make it all a blast.

If you’re here you know why you’re here and you know why everyone else is here. There aren’t random RVs just happening into the area. There are no strangers. It’s all Xscapers and we all know it. So it has a very tight Xscapers community vibe and that vibe is strong everywhere you go.

5 out of 5 on style and theme.

FINAL WORDS

Our team at ENTV/RV Nomads has always viewed Escapees RV Club as THE club to join if you were to pick just one. Escapees has something for everyone. From mail services to RV parks, they’ve got it all. And now that Xscapers itself is pulling off major events like this we anticipate even more massive growth moving forward.

If you aren’t yet an Escapees/Xscapers member, we highly recommend you consider joining. And if you haven’t yet experienced the Annual Bash, mark your calendar to be in Arizona in January of 2020 and don’t miss this event. It is, hands down, the coolest event of its kind in the movement. There is nothing else like it and you need to be a part of it.

Bravo to the Xscapers team! Very well done. Those of us on the outside looking in are impressed on a level that words just can’t describe.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT XSCAPERS!

PRODUCER’S NOTES: Let’s Talk About the Apocalypse Looking Scene in the RV Nomads Movie

Last September (2018) our team hunkered down in Spokane, WA to finish writing out the story framework for what would, a month later, become the RV Nomads movie. This was a wonderful time of creative freedom because we had terabytes of fantastic footage and a blank slate on the storyline. We knew the core components of the story (And Tom Morton from Mortons On The Move did an amazing job at capturing it all as he Directed the movie) but still had to write the narration and fill the holes with supporting narratives.

Writing a 3 – 10 minute video storyboard is one thing. But writing one for an 82 minute run time is a completely different animal. Especially when it has to include 12 sub-stories (those of our cast/subjects). There has to be purpose, conflicts and resolution, emotion, truth and yes… we had to push the limits to tell the story in a compelling and intriguing way.

I mean, let’s be honest here, writing a full movie about RV living is a challenge. If not done correctly it could be very boring. But if we pushed too far it wouldn’t be realistic. So finding a middle ground in which we had emotion, conflicts and resolution and yes… a touch of the current issues of our time, without going too far in one direction or the other was incredibly difficult.

In fact, one segment in particular was debated for about two weeks. It’s a segment that, I kid you not, is brought up at every camp fire and every conversation with someone who has seen the movie. The vast majority got it right away. 9 out of 10 viewers loved it and connected with it. For that 10% it takes a few minutes of talk to explain it in full, so I decided to post this walk-through explaining the mindset behind it all.

First, let’s take a look at the segment. And please note it can be challenging to see it in context if you have not yet watched the entire movie.

While the piece is very serious, it was actually rather exciting to put it all together. It’s the only part of the movie that it could be argued got borderline political, but it can also be argued that it did so in an apolitical manner. Meaning, in this segment there are no political sides chosen. Nor are there any political sides described. It’s a blanketed, generalization that would be next to impossible to argue is not a reality we all face in our current society.

Turn any news network or program on and try to get through it for half an hour. It doesn’t matter which program and it doesn’t matter how you vote. The narratives coming through are all the same. We’re a divided people, our nation (USA) has significant issues to work through, our economy is in many ways built upon a house of cards, our election system is in turmoil and there is hatred flowing from all sides of the debate.

Now while some of the above is true, some of it is baked into our minds through this kind of constant messaging and is not based on reality. Do we all hate each other? Are we all angry at each other? Is it impossible for us to work together as individuals for the common good?

I don’t know about you, but in the circles I camp with there is no hatred. There may be a disagreement or two over certain issues, but no RVer is turning against another because of how they vote. No RVer refuses to assist another RVer because of how they vote. What kind of nonsense would that be?

Yet if you live in a major city or urban area this is what you’re taught to believe. This is what you see day in and day out. You’re surrounded by hatred, divisions and labels. None of which are an accurate depiction of who you are and what you believe.

It’s a nasty matrix. And we internally called that segment the matrix because it fits by definition. In fact, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary matrix means “something within or from which something else originates, develops, or takes form.”

In these cities, and I say this as a former Chicagoan who lived right smack in the center of Chicago, our hearts and minds are being shaped by false narratives. If you disagree with someone, they might hate you. And since this is the case, you should perhaps not like them in return.

How on earth are we supposed to make progress as a culture and society if this is what we’re led to believe?

To make matters worse, the media has for decades now followed the script that “if it bleeds it leads.” So the local and national news we’re all being fed is in most cases true, but we’re only seeing the blood. We aren’t seeing the good. We aren’t seeing what can happen when we set disagreements aside and work as one. We’re just being told we’re all divided, there is hate all around us and in the end, for many people, this causes a complete and total loss of hope.

Without hope. Without a vision of better times, positivity and a bright future… the matrix is leading many to believe all hope is lost. And when a society begins to embrace this, terrible things can happen.

That’s not to suggest terrible things will happen, but they certainly can. Everyone knows this. Add to that the reality that natural disasters can happen too, and when cities are filled with people who can no longer live independently… the outcome of such scenarios have can have a profoundly negative impact on literally everyone.

You see, this movie was designed for RVers, no doubt. But it was also designed for those who have not yet heard about this lifestyle. Those who aren’t aware of it. Those still sitting in the matrix wondering if this is all there is to life, if perhaps there is a different way to live, a different way to explore, a different way to be… they need to see examples of how others have broken free from that grind. From that mindset. From that constant barrage of negativity.

It’s definitely true that all RV Nomads transition to this lifestyle for different reasons and with different goals in mind. But it’s also true that in the nearly 50 hours of interviews we conducted for the movie, there was a common theme that couldn’t be ignored.

Something is amiss.

For some it might have been consumerism had, well, consumed them. For some it was a desire to travel and see more over anything else. For some they had a difficult time grinding from paycheck to paycheck in the city life, and for some they just wanted to get away from it all. But for ALL of them something was amiss. Something wasn’t comfortable. Something wasn’t right.

And they wanted to dramatically change direction before it was too late. RV life for these now nomads was the change they so desired. Because of that change, they can now reflect back and see all the potential pitfalls, and they can do so knowing they are relatively free from it all.

Free, independent and able to chart their own course no matter what.

That is, without question, the true implied meaning behind the segment. And, I believe, this is how it is taken by most viewers. Some didn’t quite catch it that way and hopefully this helps makes sense.

-Eric Odom

Increase Fridge Space-Beverage Coolers for 5th Wheels | NewAir AB-850B Review

 
Do you like camping or tailgating? Is your RV fridge too small? Are you tired of going inside every time someone needs a drink? Does your RV fridge not get drinks cold enough? Have you considered switching to a residential fridge because you’re fed up?
If you answered yes to any of those questions you’re in the same boat as many other RVers. Even if your RV manufacturer put a large enough fridge in (highly doubtful) I’ll bet that propane fridge doesn’t get your drinks cold enough. When turned on low this beverage cooler got down to 28 degrees before I turned it back up. (I don’t know when soda will freeze and explode.)
This little drink cooler literally solves every problem I listed.
You can set it outside, it’s only 49lbs. You can just carry it out there and run an extension cord so everyone’s not in and out of your rig every few minutes. That’s big for us because the dogs get all excited ever time the door is opened. It also keeps the heat and dirt outside.
Beverage Coolers for 5th Wheels | NewAir AB-850B Review

If all that wasn’t enough, here’s some more cool features:

  • It has an internal LED light that’s bright enough to actually see everything inside. It can be turned on or off.
  • The shelves are height adjustable.
  • The shelves have stop bars on the back. You can turn them around and lay cans on their side.
  • There’s a door lock. It comes with two keys so you can keep your kids away from the alcohol and caffeine.
  • It sips power.
  • There’s a tall section on the bottom for bottles, energy drinks, etc.
  • From room temp, it will cool down to where you set it in 30-75 minutes. Depending on the setting.
  • It holds almost 90 cans.
  • Last but certainly not least, it can hold a box of wine on its side.

I don’t think we’ll throw any ravers with it, but it’s sure nice to have a separate drink cooler. Neither of us have ever had a drink cooler before, we think it’s pretty cool.
Fridge puns!

Click on the fridge below and use the discount code “HEBARDS” to get 20% off!

Boondock Like A Pro: Finding the right location for you

Finding great locations to boondock can be a challenge when you start out boondocking. This is our method of finding incredible locations around the country we want to stay at around the country. This includes finding places with cell service so that we can continue bringing you awesome videos on youtube!


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Allstays.com

-Allstays-

is a great resource to help you find the place you need, with or near amenities you will need during your stay. It features easy to use maps, filters to downsize the list of places by what they offer, and from what we can tell has more locations than any of the other maps out there. It is typically our first choice when starting research on where we are headed next. The maps are available via desktop and by app so you can use this on your phone easily.
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Allstays lays things out in a really easy to understand way that is clear about what kind of campsite, campground, or area you are heading to. It shows fuel stops, truck stops, restaurants, Walmarts, public lands, private campgrounds, National Forest Lands, even Elk’s Lodges and Moose Lodges. When you select an icon it will show you a quick view of what it is and some details, and when you fully expand the description it will share reviews, websites, directions, and what others have experienced there. The only things that this app is missing, is the ability to user report the cell signals, and it is not as nicely laid out as apps like Campendium.


-FreeCampsites.net-

This is typically our second resource. Often FreeCampsites.net will have locations that AllStays does not. It tells you wether the spot is free or what others have paid. This is web based so there is not an app that goes along with the program. It does not have as many listed locations and occasionally you will run into things that have changed from the reviews. An important thing to look for when using this app is when it was last reviewed. We have been to a few places where it was not as the user said it was, likely due to things changing after they wrote it. The Green Tents indicate that they are free spots and the red tents indicate that you have to pay. A nice feature of FreeCampSites.Net is that it outlines the public lands, places you will need a permit, or places that need more research.
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– Campendium –

Campendium is an excellent resource to find pictures of the location so you know a little more about what you are walking into. User reviews are added easily and their form/process of adding the reviews is very streamlined and efficient. They give cellular signal reviews so that you can tell if you will have service or not there. This is more widely used than the previous two among the RV Community. The only downside is that there are many places that we have been, that have not been added yet. We suspect this will be remedied in time to catch up to our other two apps that we use regularly.


A really nice feature of Campendium is that you can build a profile, so if you are a fulltime traveler and have a blog, or do reviews frequently, this is a great way to connect with your audience a new level. This also allows users to search for their favorite reviewers check out the locations they have been. If you have someone who typically travels like you do, you can see where they have been and reviewed.
The layout is the cleanest among all of our favorite apps so it is easy to look at and know where things are. Literally the only reason we do not use this as a primary resource is that it does not have as many locations as the other two. As soon as it does, this will easily be our top choice.
Each program uses different elements to give you the best overview of where you are headed, so you will know what you need and what to expect.

Lot-Docking (A Subdivision of Boondocking)

Become our-5
Every person we ask has a different take on what Boondocking is, we have touched on this in videos prior to this but to us Boondocking is a type of RVing that has no hookups, and is generally free. Within that category there are several types of Boondocking.
1. Lot-Docking– Typically in a parking lot of a retail store or restaurant. Some of the famous places include: Costco, Sam’s Club, Super Walmart, Cabela’s, some Bass Pro Fishing Stores, Cracker Barrel, Home Depot and Lowes. The typical etiquette we have heard repeated across the board, is that even if there are RVs in the parking lot, it is generally a good idea to go in and ask permission. We have yet to be turned down and we always buy something even if it is a candy bar from the checkout area. Asking gives us the peace of mind that should we gain permission, we can relax and not worry about getting the knock on our door after the business closes for the night.
2. Mooch-Docking- Staying at family or friends places and occasionally even getting electric, water, and possibly a place to dump on the property. This is really utilized while visiting family and friends but it can be a rare scenario if you have a larger rig.
3. BLM (Docking?)- Staying on public lands, stay and amenities vary and often the traveler needs to be very self sufficient to enjoy this.
4. Federal Lands (Docking?)- Staying on National Forest Service Land, National Parks, or State Parks. There are often some amenities but not available at the sites (depending on where you are going) This is another level that requires self sufficiency in most cases.
5. GigDocking- It’s a relatively newer concept that our friends from GeoAstroRV informed us about. They travel the country putting on astronomy shows so people can come to them and see incredible stars and galaxies that they have likely not seen before. Traveling to find places to share your hobby or your livelihood and obtaining a place to stay in return.Become our-5

Cabelas has long been one of our favorite places to find for a few reasons. They typically have RV spaces that can accommodate longer rigs. From what we have seen there is always a place to get water, dump the tanks, and sometimes has kennels and horse pins for dogs. I can’t see an occasion where we would want to use the kennels but it is something they offer.
The store closes at night which means less traffic outside of your rig in the middle of the night. You get to go shopping at one of the coolest outdoor stores that still exists (hoping Bass Pro does not change this too much). They have clothing, often a restaurant, but food regardless. They have all kinds of home goods that can make just about any RVer feel at home, and they have clean restrooms.
What are your favorite places to Lot-Dock? Were there any you didn’t see on the list?

Sturgis 78th Annual!

John and Luis Class from 1st Class RV Adventures head to Sturgis, SD to check out the 78th Annual Sturgis Rally! This year they are estimating about 500,000 bikers in attendance. This rally is held every year except for 1942 to save on fuel (World War II). Custom world class bikes, some crazy storms rolled in, we’ve had tornados in the area, one only 10 miles from us at the badlands, so they decided it was time to go! They took a ride in slingshots, ate from street vendors, and went through the hordes of bikes looking at the incredible designs.

Guide to Boondocking Like a Pro: How We Find Great Locations

How do you pick a boondocking spot?
If you haven’t done much boondocking picking a site can be a little daunting. We had a pretty rough time when we started. We had only stayed in RV parks, campgrounds or parking lots for the first year and a half of fulltiming. Why is that? Well RV parks and campgrounds are easy. For the most part, you don’t have to do any planning other than picking a park near where you want to go. However, boondocking requires more planning. And without proper planning, you can put yourself in a bad situation. You don’t want to have to back up your RV a few miles because there’s no place to turn around. We know people that had to do that.
Here’s what you need to know for anyplace you want to boondock.

  1. How long you can stay? Many public lands have a 14 day limit, but not all.
  2. Is there a fire ban? You don’t want a big fine so check before hand.
  3. Are you allowed to scavenge firewood? Plan ahead and bring wood if you can’t scavenge and fires are allowed.
  4. Do you have to check in with anyone?
  5. Can you park anywhere or only in designated sites?
  6. Is there dangerous wildlife in the area? Is it safe to leave a grill out or will it attract bears?

For these questions calling a local field office (BLM, US Forrest Service ETC.) will be the best place to find answers.
Other things you need to know

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We use the Aquatank2 to refill

  1. How far is the nearest drinking water source in case you need to refill?
  2. How far is the nearest hospital and veterinarian if you have pets?
  3. How far is the nearest grocery store?
  4. Is there cell service?
  5. Can your RV even fit?
  6. Where’s the nearest dump station? In case you need to use a blue boy during your stay.

Many of these questions will be answered in the apps and websites we use. If you can’t find the answers there Google is your best friend when researching. And remember, it can be the best boondocking site in the world. But, if you have to drive two hours to do anything it may not be worth it. On the other hand, if you can bring everything you’ll need and don’t have to leave that won’t matter.
 

 
It took a little trial and error to figure out which apps and sites had which information, and what order to do our research in. You may have, or find, a different way that works best for you. If so, we’d love to hear about it.
The first place we check is the Allstays app, it’s our primary source. It provides great filters to find your favorite type of RV parking in the area you want. They also have many good reviews and photos. If there isn’t anything available for where we want to go, or we want to know more about an area, we then visit www.freecampsites.net.

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Freecampsites.net

This will typically provide a few other options not on AllStays, but it’s more targeted. Once we’ve picked a few  possible locations we use Campendium to look at more reviews and photos to polish the plan and narrow it down.
Once we pick a site we verify the route with google maps and Google Earth. These will also give you a good idea if your RV can make it to the site. Also, don’t blindly trust reviews. The terrain, roads, etc. may have changed since it was written. Check when you get there. Don’t be afraid to detach and scout an area before trying to take your RV in. Drones can also be good scouting tools if they’re allowed in that area.
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Cellular coverage map

We verify cellular coverage by googling AT&T and T-Mobile coverage maps.
We’ll also check previous weather records and trends. We attempt to chase 70 to keep the RV comfortable. If it’s been 50 degrees the month we’re looking at going for the previous three years then we’ll pick a different area.
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Previous weather 

 
 
Final tips when you arrive.
Don’t park in a low-lying area if you have a choice. Mud can quickly develop a sticky situation. Park using the landscape to your advantage, use trees or rock walls to decrease wind, be careful of tall trees with low hanging limbs, not only while parking but in case of storms.
Other useful resources.
Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts are great for finding someplace to park overnight. We don’t use them often since we try to find boondocking sites that can accommodate several RVs for a few days.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Building A Mega Solar System For A 5th Wheel

Many have made divisive definitions in the past about what is and is not this type of RVer versus another. In our opinion, there is one name for all of them and how they choose to accomplish that goal, is just a personal preference. I know that statement make be a shocking revelation to some.
Many find their comfort level in different aspects of the scale below when they set out RVing. Sometimes it can take years, sometimes it is known from the start. Their are financial obstacles, as well as mental changes that occur. You probably didn’t come here to read our opinions on this, but we wanted to make one part very clear. Our journey was never to set out to define ourselves by societies terms, it was to find the way we wanted to live.

Solar-2

“1600 Watts, really?!”

That’s the reaction we’ve been getting since we announced we would be taking the plunge into solar. It should be known that wanting to get a system this large was not some kind of point of pride, it was in fact born out of necessity. We needed to be able work and to keep our creature comforts on the road, while also keeping the rigs systems functioning properly.
First and foremost, there is that Residential Fridge. This was a pretty picture of our rig before we moved in, notice the dark valences… yeah. Anyways, That fridge consumes 1000watts by itself. That is no small feat. The RV industry likes putting them in. Consumers love to buy rigs with them.
2016_forest_river_cedar_creek_36ckts_kmo588510_5
If your goal is to go from RV Park to RV Park and keep it plugged in for the majority of the rigs life, this is the fridge for you. It’s big, holds anything a standard home in America would have in the fridge. Then there are the people like the scale shows above, a smaller percentage, who want to be able to be self sufficient while traveling and not have to rely on paying a nightly fee to obtain power. That’s where we were. Not only because of the budget growing smaller each day as we launched our own business, but in reality, we wanted to be free. We didn’t want to only be in places that had a decent RV Park or Campground dictating where we could go, when and for how long.
If you only came here for the list of main components to this system, here are the clickable links to each component:
4 FullRiver DC 400-6 AGM Batteries
Magnum 3000watt Hybrid Inverter
Magnum Advanced Remote Control
Morningstar TriStar 45amp
200 Watt 12v HiTec Solar Panels
Victron Battery Monitor
Universal Tilt Brackets
Z Brackets for Mounting
Deltec 500 Amp Shunt
Blue Sea Battery Shut Off
Black 1.5″ Heat Shrink
Red 1.5″ Heat Shrink
#4 Welding Cable
$2 Welding Cable
#4 3/8″ stud ring connectors, non insulated
#2 3/8″ stud ring connectors, tinned copper

We filmed this entire series and put it together to show how we put the system together and how it works. There are several tools and smaller items that were personal choices such as the fuses, that are shown in the videos. Please let us know if you have any questions, preferably on the youtube video in the comments (it notifies us instantly and we can reply the fastest to the questions).
Mounted on passenger side using Z Brackets and framing.-4
 
Special thank you to Pau Hana Travels, Opting Out of Normal, and Pullen On The Road for their help and guidance in putting this system together. We could not have done it without your help!
Thank you Northern Arizona Wind & Sun for providing the components and walking us through how they will come together. You were great to work with and even making exchanges you made it really easy for us. Thank you!
The links above to Amazon, are Amazon Affiliate Links. They do not add more onto your purchase price but they give us a small percentage for linking to their webpage. This helps support our channel and blog and provide quality content for viewers in the future. If you have any questions about this, please contact us at hebardstravels@gmail.com.
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"Chasing 70", and Avoiding Extreme Weather Events

If you “chase 70”, as we do, you’ll often find yourself in the path of extreme weather as the seasons change, especially in the Midwest and South. Chasing 70 means that you travel to areas of the country during the times of the year you’re most likely to encounter an average 70 degree temperature. This strategy makes it much easier to heat and cool your rig. It also provides a much more pleasant outdoor experience for the traveler. Chasing 70 degrees is not quite as simple as it sounds if you don’t want to go to the same place every time. RVers tend to look for or create maps like the one below. While monitoring temperatures is a good first step, there are two more parts of the equation.
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Part 2 of  “Chasing 70” is knowing the regions and the seasons, and how to avoid the really dangerous storms. Visiting the Midwest when the seasons change from winter to spring can be very dangerous and volatile with severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and strong winds. Visiting the south from June 1-Nov 30th can put you in the path of a hurricane. It’s very important to know the best time of the year to visit an area.
Part 3 (and the most crucial part to us) of “Chasing 70” is having appropriate monitoring equipment for when things don’t go as well as you hope. In our first year of RVing we visited two locations that had tornadoes within the first couple weeks of arriving. Thankfully, we had a weather radio and in each scenario it was the only thing that warned us a tornado was coming. People like to say that they just their weather apps, we had the weather apps at that time too, but with decreased cell signals, the weather radio was the winner every time. In Canyon Lake, TX it alerted us 18 minutes earlier than the weather apps for a nearby tornado. Tornadoes develop very quickly and leave little time for the sporadic updates on a cell phone app to catch up. It was literally the difference in time it took for us to get the animals and ourselves to shelter before the storm hit.

In other words: The major flaw with only relying on Cell Phone Weather Apps, is that they do not update frequently enough to give you the most amount of time to prepare.

Granted, these were both areas where the tornadoes were not nearly as big or as powerful as in Kansas. But at that point we didn’t know how big or how fast they were rotating, and neither will anyone else until after it has passed. In Texas and in Florida, they did not have adequate tornado shelters because they said they don’t typically experience the tornadoes we were used to experiencing in the Midwest.

Regional Weather Hazards:

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While traveling it’s important to know what types of extreme weather you can experience where you are, and during that time of year. Obviously the chances of a July blizzard are pretty low. But what about a January tornado? We ran into one of those in Houston. We never thought that was possible until we were taking shelter watching the news on our phones of a tornado touching down only a mile away from us.
Here are the typical threats you can expect for each region:
Midwest:

  • Spring/Fall: Very powerful thunderstorms that can bring Tornadoes, flooding (especially flash flooding), hail (possibly large and destructive), and high winds.
  • Summer: Wildfires.
  • Winter: Blizzards, ice storms.

North & Northeast: May have snow storms that can strand you in the area for days, or even a few weeks.
Southwest:

  • Spring/Summer: Dust storms (Arizona/New Mexico) are a big threat. Also, monsoons that can be very dangerous for hikers or travelers in the washes.
  • Summer: High Heat.

Pacific North West:

  • Spring/Winter/Fall: Heavy rains, mudslides, and wind storms that down trees and cause catastrophic damage to properties, shelters, and especially RVs.
  • Summer: Wildfires.

South & Southeast: 

  • Spring: Hurricanes, floods, severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes
  • Winter/Fall: Severe thunderstorms that can bring tornadoes, flooding (especially flash flooding), hail (possibly large and destructive), and high winds.
  • Summer: High heat.

Rocky Mountains:

  • Winter: Extreme Cold, blizzards.
  • Summer: Wildfires

 

This is not meant to dissuade anyone from wanting to travel, in fact seeing an epic thunderstorm or having rainy days can be very enjoyable in an RV. RVers as a population tend to be prepared to handle things on their own and the way you live is built around that principle.

 

How To Prepare For Severe Weather 

Monitoring: Have at least one weather app, but more can be better. We actually monitor 3: Weather Underground, Windy, and NOAA. We rarely trust a forecast until two or more begin to agree. If an emergency alert is issued, we follow the recommendations. If we can tell it is coming a few days out, we decide whether we wish to stay and ride it out, or pack up and head to somewhere safer. This is the weather radio we use, but sadly they don’t make them anymore. However, there are many upgraded models now. We recommend having a handheld NOAA radio that is battery operated so you can take it in the vehicle or on foot, with you.
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Wind: The number one question we see about wind is with slide toppers. In high wind scenarios, they make the RV feel like it will literally fall apart. Between the snapping of the slide toppers and the rattling as they billow and retract, it can leave you laying awake all night wondering if you will be OK.
With no obstructions to the wind, we have found that 35-50mph wind speeds and gusts require us to pull the slides in. This not only takes away the snapping and shuddering of the walls from the slide toppers, but it makes the RV rock less because you decrease the surface area for the wind to grab. We were hesitant to do this at first because we thought it would make it easier to tip the RV if the winds were broadside. We have never felt less safe pulling them in.
If you have enough time in advance, you should also point the front of your RV to directly face the wind coming in. Lastly, placing a vehicle in-between you and the oncoming wind can greatly help break it down before it slams into your RV, taking a lot of the motion out of the equation.

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The Windy App for iOS and Android allows users to see forecasted windspeed, direction, and map overlays to determine how the wind will effect your day.

Water: Travel with at least ¼ tank of water. Even if you are just moving from RV park to RV park you never know what could happen en route. We feel the extra weight is worth the risk of being stranded without at least some water. If you do not use your fresh water tank often, make sure it is sanitized properly before heading out.
Cold: Keep at least one set of cold weather gear on the RV. Even though most RVers prefer to “Chase 70”, depending on the region this can fluctuate wildly at night, or even if a cold front moves in. Either way, being cold in an RV becomes very uncomfortable very quickly.
Move: Don’t be afraid to move. If weather forecasts are predicting an incoming hurricane or a really nasty storm front several days out, don’t wait until the last minute to move the rig.
We have watched the forums for the last couple of years with the monster sized incoming hurricanes and it has become some sort of pride with those choosing to stay during a hurricane. This not only puts your life in danger, but makes it more difficult for the people coming in afterwards to put the community back together. If you have the option and ability to leave, we advise you to do so.
Prepare: Know where important items are ahead of the storm and assemble them together so that you can evacuate quickly. If you have a trailer, storing things you will need in your truck at night can help you get out that much faster.
See below for what we choose to pack in the event we are caught in tornado watches. If you have time (meaning a few hours of notice), bring in slides, and outdoor items that could be damaged or blown away.
Severe Weather
 

Our Top Picks for Advanced Weather Monitoring: Personal Weather Stations for RVers:

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AcuRite 01013M Weather Station with AcuRite Access, Color Display and Remote Monitoring

  • Monitor actual weather conditions from your RV, from anywhere using your smartphone, tablet or computer.
  • Includes Weather Station Display, AcuRite Access and All-in-One Weather Sensor.
  • Create custom alerts to get notifications sent directly to your phone when changing conditions need your attention.
  • Share your weather with friends, family, and online weather communities like Weather Underground.
  • You can connect up to 7 compatible devices so multiple travelers can access the data.

 
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Ambient Weather WS-2902 10-in-1 Wi-Fi Professional Weather Station with Internet Monitoring, Compatible with Alexa

  • The Professional weather station allows you to monitor your RV and weather with an easy to read, color monitor.
  • The enhanced Wi-Fi connectable option that enables your station to transmit its data wirelessly to the world’s largest personal weather station Network, Weather Underground.
  • View your personal weather information with you on the go using your computer, tablet, or mobile device.
  • The weather station measures wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, outdoor temperature and humidity, solar radiation and UV.
  • Also included inside the console is temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. The weather station also calculates dew point, wind Chill and heat index.

 
Both of the weather stations above are links to Affiliate Links to Amazon. We have seen these products used and we do recommend them to traveling RVers. We do receive a small commission for talking about these items, however it does not add more to your purchasing total for using these links. It does help our channel grow so we can continue to bring you ideas and things to make RV life more fun and more enjoyable. Thank you!