Monday, June 18, 2012

Face-off pits Camping World, Lazydays

TAMPA, Florida -- The gloves are off between RV retailing giant Camping World and RV dealer Lazydays. The fight is taking place at the Lazydays RV SuperCenter at Seffner. The contenders include Marcus Lemonis, big chief in Camping World parent-company, Affinity Group, and new owners of the Lazydays dealership.

Lazydays and Camping World have a contract going way back: Camping World has a store in the same compound as Lazydays, in fact, the land is still owned by Don Wallace who founded the dealership but sold out in 2006. In the covenant, Camping World agrees not to sell RVs within 50 miles, and Lazydays says it will buy all of its repair parts and RV maintenance items from Camping World.

Here's where it gets ugly: Lemonis says they've found out that Lazydays new owners are buying parts from other suppliers. But Lazydays has a complaint of its own: They say Camping World has violated the 50-mile "no sales" radius by rebranding an RV supply store, formerly known as Dusty's Camper World, and are selling RVs there at Bartow--a mere 42 miles away.

It may not be Louis and Schmeling but there's plenty of noise coming from the match. Camping World's Lemonis says in his view, Lazydays has defaulted on the contract. His answer to the problem is to drag in RVs from other Camping World-controlled stores and sell them right next door to Lazydays' operation. "We'll have everything they sell, but for less," brags Lemonis to the press. He further renders the opinion, "The nature of the Lazydays business now is dramatically different. I'm not going to mess around with these turkeys anymore."

Just how the "turkeys" will respond to the threat isn't clear yet, other than papers have been filed in court. Will someone please send for the playground referee?

RV resort to pay $200,000 in settlement on "membership" cheat

photo: steakpinball on
A Massachusetts RV resort company has accepted a $200,000 settlement after burning its membership owning customers after using what the state's Attorney General termed, "Unfair and deceptive practices."

Owners of Peters Pond RV Resort threatened residents they would lose their sites in the RV park and be forced to move without financial compensation if they didn't knuckle under and buy a new $16,000 membership in the resort. Defendants who settled up in a lawsuit include Peters Pond RV Resort Inc., Morgan RV Resorts LLC, Ideal Private Resorts LLC and Robert Moser.

The state's attorney says the company "strong armed" retirees after the customers invested in park model RVs for the sites near Sandwich, Massachusetts. While the rigs are owned by the customers, the actual RV park lots are leased--which residents thought they could lease indefinitely, provided they kept up with rent payments and lived up to the resort rules. The defendants told tenants if they didn't buy into the new "membership" and additionally fork over $6,000 in annual fees, they'd be out of the park.

Fearing the worst, over 100 residents signed up for the club; when some later tried to sell out, it is said the defendants utilized brokers to "assist" with the sales, who charged a $2,000 transfer fee.

As part of the settlement, the defendants will have to pay refunds to those who bought into the membership deal, must allow customers to chose an appropriate broker for sales, and may no longer pursue the alleged unlawful sales practices.

New system eliminates need to dump RV holding tanks

If the invention by Namon Nassef takes off, many RVers will never need to dump their black water holding tanks again.

Nassef, president of Nassef Engineering and Equipment Company, has developed a new way to dispose of RV waste that uses green technology to eliminate sewage from RVs.

The ThermalTreat Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) Sewage Elimination System uses a small gallons or less sized tanks, grinds up the solids, and then dissolves the solids in the liquid. It then pressurizes this liquid and injects it into the hot exhaust gas of the engine. Steam and negligible minerals which come from the food people eat leave with the hot exhaust gas. The system is small, lightweight and uses no chemicals. It produces no odors, liquid, or solids to handle.

"We believe that there is a growing desire for environmentally friendly energy recovery methods to handle sewage," said Nassef. "It is our belief that when this technology is offered and demonstrated, the demand for it will be overwhelming since it is more efficient, cost effective and green. The current markets are huge -- valued at several hundred million dollars per year -- and the international market is immeasurable."

The ZLD processing unit without the EQ tank is approximately 12-by-18-by-24 inches -- the size of a medium suitcase -- and weighs less than 100 pounds. Still, it can process approximately 300 gallons per day depending upon available heat simply using engine exhaust to treat and dispose of sewage with no liquid discharge.

Nassef predicts it will eliminate large holding tanks in RVs, thus giving designers more storage space for other needs, such as clean water or cargo. It also eliminates the problem of dumping sewage holding tanks when there are no convenient places to dump, he noted.
Advantages of the system include:
  • No odors
  • No liquid discharge
  • Energy recovery
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Small/lightweight
  • Operable worldwide
  • Operable in all climates and harsh environments
  • Quick start/stop or storage/use cycles
  • Plug-and-play design for replacement or repair
  • Potential water reuse
  • No chemicals required
  • No sludge to dispose
For more information visit

SOURCE: Nassef Engineering Equipment and RV Daily Report.

Friday, June 15, 2012

West coast state parks facing huge expense removing Japanese debris

By Chuck Woodbury

With state park budgets squeezed everywhere, the last thing the state parks of the U.S. northwest coast need is to spend their already tight dollars picking up and hauling away Japanese tsunami debris from their beaches.

The first of it has begun to show up. In Oregon, the huge Japanese dock that washed ashore at Agate Beach State Recreation Area near Newport needs to go. Already, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff, paid contractors and volunteers have removed about a ton and a half of plant and animal material.

Now comes the 66-foot long, 132-ton dock itself. Six companies have bid to remove it, either in pieces and hauling it off, or towing it away. The cost: Low bid $79,922, high bid $240,000. The winning bid is expected to be announced next week.

"The cost is solely on us," said Chris Havel, spokesman for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. "No one else has stepped up to help out. About $20,000 was already spent on other issues before this first wave of tsunami debris began to arrive. This will decimate our budget."

The park system's biennial debris budget for debris removal is $135,000. That covers the removal of dead animals, derelict vessels, plastic and aluminum cans, buoys and other material that washes up. "We don't know if anything big like this will show up again but what we do know is that removing even the small debris will quickly overwhelm our trash systems," said Havel.

The department and other partners are working on a coast-wide plan for disposal of tsunami debris, and exploring longer term funding for the effort, but details are still in the works.

Meanwhile, other Pacific states anxiously await the arrival of the debris on their own shores. By some estimates, the area of the debris field is twice the size of Texas, some of which may be radioactive from exposure to the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility.

SOURCE: Permission to reprint granted as long as source is credited.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Encore RV Resorts and Thousand Trails support Great American Backyard Campout

Pio Pico RV Resort, Jamul, CaliforniaEncore and Thousand Trails RV resorts, in support of the initiative behind the National Wildlife Federation's annual Great American Backyard Campout, is offering a camping special to encourage people to experience the great outdoors.

The Great American Backyard Campout, scheduled this year for Saturday, June 23, was created to help children foster a healthy outdoor lifestyle through camping. Encore and Thousand Trails are offering tent campers a buy one get one deal at 90 participating campground locations on June 22 and 23.

According to the National Wildlife Federation's website, only 25 percent of today's children play outside daily where 75 percent of children did so only a generation ago. The Great American Backyard Campout encourages children to get outdoors to develop healthy and active lifestyles. "We support the effort of this event which encourages families to explore the great outdoors." said Seth Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "We know how great the camping experience is and we're excited that this event will introduce more campers to this great lifestyle."

Tent campers who purchase a night's stay at any of the 90 participating Encore or Thousand Trails campgrounds on Friday, June 22 will receive a free night's stay on Saturday, June 23, at the same campground. To take part in the Great American Backyard Campout at any of the 90 participating Encore and Thousand Trails locations, visit or call (866) 730-0637.

SOURCE: and Encore/Thousand Trails news release.

Thousand Trails Sweepstakes' prize includes cash, free camping

MapThousand Trails, home to some of the most beautiful and natural campgrounds across the United States, is giving outdoor enthusiasts and their friends a chance to get out and camp with the Camping is Better with Friends Sweepstakes.

One lucky camper and a friend will win a free week of camping and a camping gear package, with a combined value of $2,100.  Sweepstakes entrants will also be entered for a chance to win one of five second place prize packages.

Yosemite Lakes RV Resort, Groveland, CaliforniaThe sweepstakes grand prize includes a week long camping trip for the winner and a friend at any participating Thousand Trails or Encore RV resort campground.  In addition, the winner and his or her friend will both receive a package of camping gear, including the following:
  • Eureka! Mansard tent
  • Rand McNally Trip Maker RVND 5510
  • Slumberjack Big Timber 20 Strongback chair
  • Lodge seasoned carbon steel skillet
  • ThermaCELL outdoor lantern, mosquito repellant appliance plus refills, holster and swivel light
  • Coghlan’s Camper’s S’mores Grill and Corn Popper
  • MyRVMarket Party Table
  • Funky Colored Flames
  • Lunkerhunt Edu-kit and fishing lures
  • Winlow Handy Beaner
  • ChicoBag Bottle Sling rePete
  • Outdoor Products Trail Diva
  • Camp Cooking
  • Industrial Revolution Stormproof Match Set
  • Nite Ize Meteorlight LED ball
  • Coleman Instastart Coffeemaker
  • Coleman All-In-One Portable Sink
  • $100 gas card
  • Thousand Trails backpack blanket, travel mug, koozie, window cling
  • One year subscription to Trailblazer magazine
  • Nature-Zyme products
Five additional winners and a friend of their choice will be selected to receive a second prize package that includes a Thousand Trails backpack, blanket, travel mug, koozie, window cling and a one year subscription to TrailBlazer magazine.

To enter, visit the Thousand Trails Facebook page at  Entrants are also encouraged to invite their Facebook friends to enter. All official terms and conditions can be found on the Thousand Trails Facebook page. The contest will run through June 29.

SOURCE: Thousand Trails news release.

KOA now selling luxury vacation cabins

Kampgrounds of America, better known as KOA, has gone into the home selling business. Well, sort of. . .

Through a new partnership among the Stockton (Calif.) Delta KOA, Phoenix, Arizona-based Cavco Industries, and West Sacramento-based Reliable Home Solutions, a dozen luxury park model cabins are available for purchase from mid-$40,000 to mid-$60,000.

Purchasers of the units will also need to pay a lease fee. Annual site lease costs range from $900 to $1,900 for the first year, then jump to $3,960 to $5,400 for each year thereafter.

The Stockton Delta KOA is the first KOA campground in the western United States to sell new versions of the popular vacation cabins. The 400-site Stockton KOA is located in Lodi on the shores of the California Delta next to the Tower Park Marina, which KOA also owns.

Many of the park’s guests are boating enthusiasts from the Bay Area and Santa Cruz who like the southern reaches of the Delta near Stockton because of the area’s warmer weather and excellent fishing for striped bass, small mouth and large mouth bass and salmon.

“Having a vacation cottage at the Stockton KOA is going to be very attractive for people who are looking for affordable ways to have a weekend getaway cabin or vacation cottage,” said Gene Davis, president of Reliable Home Solutions, which is marketing the units on behalf of KOA and Cavco.

The 400-square-foot Deluxe Cabins, which are called “park models” in the campground industry, are manufactured by Cavco, which has been building park model cabins and cottages for use as private vacation cottages in campgrounds for nearly 20 years.

While park models have been used in campgrounds throughout much of Arizona, Texas and Florida as well as the Midwest and East Coast regions, they are just now being introduced in campgrounds in the West, and even then mostly as rental accommodations.

SOURCE: and news release.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Couple still traveling to chronicle U.S. National Forests

Fred and Suzi Dow, publishers of the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide website (, have visited every Forest Service national forest and grassland but they don’t see their project as completed. They have set off for another six months of visiting, surveying, and exploring national forests that might have been thought of as completed more than a dozen years ago.

The idea for the website was “hatched” during a return trip from a weekend of camping more than 18 years ago. One reason for re-visiting those early national forests now is to take advantage of the advances in evolution of technology. Another is to discover any changes to the campgrounds.

Suzi Dow remembers those early days. "When we started our project in 1994, there were no cell phones, GPS devices, or digital cameras - at least none that were affordable and readily available to the public. Pictures were captured from an analog video camcorder, converted to digital with a device called Snappy, and uploaded (very, very slowly) to Dial-up was the standard back then and getting access from the road was a huge challenge.

Besides "begging" merchants such as Radio Shack to use a telephone line to upload/download, we used an acoustic coupler in telephone booths. I held the [very expensive] laptop while Fred attached the coupler to the telephone receiver and keyed whatever on the laptop, all at 1200 to 2400 baud. To say things have changed would be a gross understatement.”

“Our mission,” says Fred Dow, “is to provide the public with a consolidated, complete and comprehensive guide to national forest and grassland developed campgrounds. In the last 18 years, we’ve driven over 300,000 miles, made hundreds of friends, developed a following online, and are ardent supporters of national forests and grasslands. The fact that we’ve accomplished so much means a great deal to us. We hope people will follow our trek and celebrate with us online.”

In addition to managing and developing the, the Dows also self-published Ebook CD, and download versions of the U.S. National Forest Campground Guides organized by geographic region, which can be purchased online at

People can follow the Dow’s travels via Facebook, Twitter, the online forums, “Camping with Suzi” blog, and a monthly “National Forest Wanderings” newsletter.”

SOURCE: and news release.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Best Parks introduces new RV park rating system

Best Parks in America has announced the introduction of a new rating system to be used to evaluate RV parks and campgrounds that wish to join the national Best Parks network of premium RV parks and campgrounds. The Best Parks Board of Directors endorsed the new system at a meeting on June 6, 2012 and agreed to implement the measuring system immediately.

"As Best Parks continues to build a new market segment and create a niche audience that seeks higher end, premium parks to enjoy, every effort must be made to assure consumers that parks affiliated with BPA stand out and truly are the best. Continued reliance on the Trailer Life and now Good Sam ratings is no longer appropriate and doesn't provide a valid measuring tool on which to judge parks for inclusion in Best Parks," said BPA board member Mike Gurevich, owner of Cherry Hill Park, College Park, MD.

"It's imperative that Best Parks continue to raise the bar as it creates a new industry segment. Every park in the network reflects on every other park and the goal is to come as close as possible to universal agreement among consumers that each park in the network has earned and deserves the recognition and brand as one of the Best Parks in America. This new rating system is an important development in this direction," said Board member Randy Packard, owner of Pine Acres Family Camping Resort in Oakham, MA.

The new system scores 110 elements on a scale of 1 to 4. Initially, parks that attain a score of 225 or higher can be considered for Best Parks affiliation. The system takes into account the diversity that exists among parks in different geographic areas, among those serving various demographic groups, and the value of the overall consumer experience at the park.

"Just as KOA, Leisure Systems and other companies have their way of evaluating the properties in their group, Best Parks will now have in place a way to assure that each park in the system will meet the high standards expected by its target consumers and is of the highest quality in terms of guest experience, facilities, amenities, hospitality and service," said BPA President David Gorin.

Best Parks in America is the leading national network of premium-level outdoor hospitality properties representing the finest RV resorts and campgrounds in the USA. Its mission is to organize and promote an exclusive group of independent outdoor resorts, including destination campgrounds, luxury RV parks, romantic cabins and expansive self-contained RV resorts.

Established in 2003 by forward-thinking leaders in the outdoor hospitality industry, it started with 21 initial members. Today, the current 66 affiliated Best Parks in America are independent and unique and all are committed to delivering rich, authentic experiences their guests have come to expect in their vacation experience. To be welcomed into the Best Parks family of outdoor destination resorts, each property must adhere to strict quality standards and be committed to offering the best in hospitality services.

For more information, visit or call 714-698-9509.

SOURCE: and Best Parks news release.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Million dollar coach vanishes from Walmart.

Like a lot of other RVers, Larry Socha parked his motorhome at Walmart, overnighted, and the next day, ran a few errands in his towed car. Returning that afternoon, Socha was--well, surprised at least--to find his rig had vanished.

Socha's 40' Prevost Marathon coach (with $40,000 in the safe) hadn't been heisted. Rather, after knocking on the door a couple of times to no response, the Glen Ellyn, Illinois Walmart manager simply had the rig towed away. Socha, who happens to be a Walmart stockholder, was a bit dismayed when he couldn't even get an apology from management. Still, he takes the situation with a bit of philosophy.

Telling the local newspaper, TK, "Will I stop shopping there? No, I'm not a jerk," Socha said. "I learned a lesson." The lesson was a hard one, a tow bill to the tune of $872.50. Making matters a bit more stinging was history. This wasn't the first time Larry Socha had parked at the Glen Ellyn Walmart--he'd done so last year for several days--with no trouble. Socha says he found he could park there on a Internet website.

Still, Walmart says there are signs in the lot that indicate "No truck parking," and that towing will take place. Had Socha "checked in" on his arrival, he might not have had his Prevost pulled. A Walmart statement quoted by the paper reminds all of us, "Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV."

Campground industry officials were quick to jump into the issue. Says the paper, "'Whenever Walmart allows free overnight camping, it not only results in lost business for local campgrounds but lost transient occupancy tax for local cities,' emailed Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.  He noted that campgrounds pay for licenses, pass health and safety inspections and offer services not found in parking lots."

With 40 grand in the RV safe, why would Socha park at Wally-World? He makes a good case: The nearest RV campground would have made for a two-hour round trip to visit his mother in Glen Ellyn.