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↓ Episode 112- What Can an RVer Do in the down Months of Winter? Plan your next improvement and your itinerary for Spring and Summer Travels.
25th November 2022 • The Smart RVer Podcast • Eric Stark
00:00:00 00:29:53

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This is Eric Stark with The Smart RVer Podcast delivering the smarts you need to enjoy the freedom of the RV Lifestyle without the fear of breaking down! Living the RV Life: Eric discusses how to research and find tools for your RV. He talks about how it's important to utilize the winter months to get as much done on your RV so it's summer ready!  Staying On The Road: In this section, Eric discusses being aware of low-priced awnings and other important RV products on the internet. It's important to know the difference between quality and garbage. You want the best for your RV so you’re sure it's reliable. Eric also discusses how important it is to book appointments for any non-DIY repairs. Call your local RV shop now before the busy season! The Next Stop: The Blue Ridge Mountains. Eric and Alexis have a discussion on the Mountains located between Georgia and North Carolina. They talk about the best places to stay and arguably, more importantly, the best places to eat!  They also list fun activities for all ages!  RV Envy: Eric talks about vent stuffers or also known as vent pillows! He goes over why they are important to have and where you can purchase them today!



What can an RVer do in the down months of winter? You can plan your next improvement and your itinerary for spring and summer travels. This is Eric Stark with The Smart RVer Podcast, delivering the smarts you need to enjoy the freedom of the RV Lifestyle without the fear of breaking down. So, I want to welcome everybody to the show today.

And you too, Alexis. Good to see you.

Alexis- Hi. Good to see you.

Eric- There we go. So, before we get into living the RV Life and the rest of the show, there's one thing I want to talk about just for a brief moment, and that's portable diesel heaters. People have been asking about those. Talking about them, and so I did some research on them and to me they're not as cool as.

they seem like they're being billed as, oh, okay. You know, they're, they're portable to a degree, but you do have to exhaust them. They have an exhaust pipe that has to go outside, so you have to drill a hole in your RV. And I noticed some of the pictures online, they show them kind of like right in the middle of an RV and a family sitting there.

And it's really not that, that's not reality because what are you going to do? Drill a hole in your floor or right. You know, they, they make it look so easy and you have to do that. You know, you got a heater, and it might work well. But you know, looking at them too, some of the information says that, you know, the seals go bad, you have to replace those kind of regularly.

So, you'll have to have extra seals and this doesn't look like one of those things you can just get spare parts for easily. Oh boy. Seems like there's two brands, but I think they're just one brand kind of disguised as two. And then like in the hundred dollars range, which makes me a little leery of the of them as well.

I mean, we want to save money, but we do have to be careful. and they're diesel, which is nice, but you're putting a diesel heater inside your RV and you know, if the fuel tank were to leak, you'd have diesel everywhere. You're probably going to get fumes of diesel too. So, there's another consideration. And diesel's kind of nasty.

You'd get it on furniture, your clothing, it's going to smell. Mm-hmm. . . And the other thing too is they're not really made for like a full RV. They're made for, like trucks or semis, smaller heating areas where they're going to heat them, like the, the sleeper in a semi. Oh, okay. Or the, or a van, but not a big RV.

You know, it might help in an RV, but it's not going to heat it. Or at least it doesn't seem like it will. Right. So just a word of caution. They're becoming popular, but we do have to be careful what we do. It might not be worth the money. To buy one of those, you know, maybe look at other options. They seem cool.

I was going to buy one just to play with it, but after looking at it online, no I'm not going to waste my money on it because I don't think I'd ever use it for anything. I gotcha. Other than looking at it, throwing it away. Um, not that impressive, at least to me. But you might have an application where that's going to matter.

Um, just looking at some microphones here just dawned on me.


Okay. So anyway, we're going to get on with living the RV. So, you know, during the wintertime, it seems like it's a pretty dead time. Not a lot to do. Um, I mean, our store is Slowing down, right? Alexis? Little bit. Yeah. Things have changed. Yeah. So, less people walking in the door.

But that's all right. It gives us time to do other things that we need to work on. So, for the typical RV though, you know, if they winterize the RV, they're not going to be using it until, you know, March, April, may, somewhere in there. They have a lot of time. Maybe plan for the springtime when it does come, and maybe you don't make, take your vacations right in the springtime, but you know, getting ready, thinking.

So, there's a lot of things you can do as far as researching products and tools to making the RV lifestyle easier and even more enjoyable. So, you know, during this time it's a good time because there's no pressure. You're not like your back's not against the wall trying to get ready for a trip. You know, you're just got leisure time here.

So, it's a great time to look up products that you want to get for your RV. Maybe you're thinking about doing some upgrades. We're going to get that a little bit more too this winter time's kind of the theme here, getting stuff done. But you know, by looking at products now you can really do the research because you have the time.

You know, maybe you're not going to put on the product until springtime. Maybe you don't need it till the end, but you want to look at it so you can see if that product's worth investing in. Like a diesel heater, for example, , is it worth the money? And so, you can look at solar panels, awnings, I mean, the list goes on.

Anything a store would have in it. And you can start planning what you want to buy, where you want to buy it. You can look at all the information. So, you're making the right purchase the first time. So, in other words, he's got a ton of time right now to really research products. It's a great time to do.

Then when springtime comes, you're ready. You know, you got your product, you're ready to go, or you just order it, you know, it makes it a lot easier. And it's the same with campgrounds and planning your itinerary for trips. You know, look ahead, where do you think you want to go? Now's a great time to start planning and, and some of you do that because of where you go.

It's so busy. You have to plan now. But you know, you start planning now and you're guaranteed to get, or almost guaranteed to get, you know, a place to stay where you want to go to. You can, you know, figure out what it's going to cost or put the money away, getting the RV ready, you know, little things you need to do.

Cause it seems like with an RV trip, there's always something that must be done. Oh yeah. You know, every time someone's going on a trip, they're in the store buying something, asking, hey, I'm getting ready to go on my trip. Or, hey, I'm leaving tomorrow. Can you do this for me? exactly. Tomorrow doesn't cut it.

And I know we tend to put things off in the wintertime towards spring, but just stay ahead of it. Now's a great time to do that. Okay, so now, you know, um, I brought, I talked about that, that diesel heater. So as you're doing your preparation work, also be, be cautious of low priced items online.

There seems to be more and more of them coming out, and you really have to question it when there's like a, you know, if something's $75 in a store and it's $15 on the internet, you have to question the quality garbage, right? If it's a, if it's like an electrical item, you know is going to burn your RV down. You have to look at that kind of stuff.

There's just a flood of this stuff coming out. All right so now let's go to Staying on the Road.


So, this is the segment of the show. Everybody's always looking forward to talking about repairs and such. So today we're not going to dig into any one repair type job. What we're going to talk about is the winter months, the long winter months.

So, if you're not using your rv, as I previously said, it's a great time to make plans for springtime. But when you have repairs that maybe need to get done or you want to do some upgrades, now's a great time to start really thinking about that. You know, what do you need to do? You know, what are your goals as far as the repairs or the upgrades?

You know, when do you want to do it? And I bring this up now because. You know, this is a great time to start planning ahead because generally what we do in this time is put everything off until springtime. Yes. I'm already doing it at my house, it's, oh, that can wait till spring. This can wait till spring.

You know, it's cold outside. I don't want to do it now. Yeah. And we've been going through an exceptionally cold spell right now, so. You don't want to do anything. You know, you want it to warm up to at least 32 degrees at least. So, it's an easy time to put things off. And so that's where planning ahead now can help us avoid that.

So, when the springtime does come, we’re not in this rush to get things done. You know, and, and I know from like here until now or the end of the year, there's a lot of stuff happening. You know, people are busy doing things, doing some, you know, some wintertime travel, seasonal travel. So, you know, it might be best to just put some of this off until January, but get it done.

That's the thing. You know, I would think, or I would recommend getting a to-do list started. With all your RV related items. So, they're, they're penciled out at least, you know. Yeah. Maybe not detailed, but at least penciled out. It's like our shows when we plan these ahead and everything gets penciled out.

That's right. And Alexis knows what goes into that. It's tedious sometimes, but it has to be done. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. You know, so just doing a little planning and so right now it might feel too early. You're thinking, wow, April's pretty far away, or marches or, you know, may, whatever it is, whatever that date is.

But really, it's not because before you know it, it's going to be here, you know, get ahead of the curve. So let's start with talking about repairs, you know, uh, that a service shop is going to do. You're going to take us someplace and they're going to be doing. So, a lot of service centers are slow right now. Some of them are extremely slow, but then again, some are very busy depending on where you live, you know who's there, what kind of work they do.

They might be pretty busy right now, but you know, if you call them in January, well actually, you know, so getting on their list now, you know, you might be booked out for months. They might say, well, if we can get you in May. And that sounds crazy, but that's the way it's going right now. With the shortage of people to hire, it's much harder to get in, get things done.

Shops are really suffering, um, with the shortage of people. And some shops get booked up early. Other people plan and say, hey, I want to get this done. You know, I want, so they get on the schedule. So that might be an obstacle you're going to have to overcome. So, if it's a non-essential ladder matter, it might not even re.

Uh, mean anything to you? You know, if it's a non-essential repair, then it, maybe it can just wait, you know, no big deal. Maybe it's an upgrade that can, you know, doesn't matter if it gets done in the springtime or summer, it's just something you want to get done, then it doesn't really matter. But, you know, if you called a shop in November, December, and, and they might not want to put you on the schedule, they might say it's too early, you know, it is too early for us to plan that far out because they're not.

Maybe they're not that busy in the wintertime, and so they're basing everything on that and they're not thinking about, if you call in April, then they might already be booked up. They're just saying, call us later and kind of putting you off. Well, I would ask to get on the schedule anyways.

Mm-hmm, because if you don't, you might miss that opportunity. Mm-hmm, you know, once they get busy, they get busy. , and you know, then you miss the boat, and then there you are waiting to use your RV because you need to have this repair done. Right? Or maybe there's a rush that comes unexpectedly. Mm-hmm. that they weren't planning on, and all of a sudden they're super busy.

Or maybe a technician quits, gets fired, or two or three of them get sick. You know, who knows what can happen. Then all of a sudden, you're waiting again. Now, that could interrupt a schedule no matter what, but at least you're on their schedule. And so, a shop will be more apt to work, harder to get those ones done that were already scheduled to do something.

Mm. So after you talk to the shop, um, and you know what your upgrade is going to be, you know, you, you want to possibly buy that part, or if you're talking to them, let me back up here. So, if you find that shop and you go in and you talk to them about the upgrader, you know, that might change your thinking on things.

You know, maybe you're going to do an upgrade, you know, upgrade to a purple widget, and then you just talk to them. It's like, no, that isn't really going to work the way I was planning. So, then you might have to regroup, or maybe the repair is much bigger than you thought it was going to be. So that might be another reason to regroup.

So that repair upgrade might not actually end up being what you thought it was going to be, or as easy as you thought it was going to be, you know, might be more d. And so that can change your plans as well, but by talking them to an advance, that might save you some time. And headaches too. You're not planning on something, and Allison is not going to be doable.

Like maybe an upgrade. Maybe you wanted to put solar system, or you know, solar panels on the roof of your RV and you're thinking, you know, maybe four of them and some extra baddies, and you go to a shop, and they really start explaining to you the difficulties of it because of your r. You don't have space on the roof, you don't have room for the batteries.

If you went with lithium ion, they could be put anywhere, but they're going to cost a lot more. So, you might have to rethink the whole thing and go, okay, maybe this just isn't what we're going to do this year. We got by last year without it, so we'll get by this year. Mm-hmm. So those are some of the things that can happen.

And also, if you anticipate needing a part that has to be replaced, I would check with the service center to make sure they have. and that they normally stock it. And if they don't, if they can get it in a reasonable amount of time, you know, a day or two. Um, if it's mission, uh, if it's a mission critical part, I would consider buying it.

Now, you know, when you talk to them or you're making this plan, I would buy the part if, you know, you absolutely need it to make sure that they have. And I would buy it through the shop who's doing the work, just get it up front or make them really guarantee that yes, we will have that part. There are no problems.

We'll kind of keep an eye on this because if you talk to them in January, things can drastically change by April or March or April, even February. So, it's just kind of staying on top of that to make sure that that part is available. Cause I've seen it time and time again. Where you hear from customers is they plan on this, then all of a sudden, they take the RV there, you drop it off, you get home, you get a phone call.

Oh, we can't get that part for six weeks or two months. Yikes. Yeah. So, you don't want to do that. Yeah. And that makes people frustrated, which is rightly so. So, make sure that the parts available and you can get it. And then adjust your schedule if you need to. So, the other scenario that could uh, play out here is doing the repair yourself.

You know, and you might put it off because it's cold out. You don't have the ideal place to do it. Maybe you have to do it outside, which is okay when it's warmer. But in the wintertime, it kind of, you know, would suck to do it outside, you know, possibly LA of snow or water, ice, whatever it might be. Or it's just cold.

You don't want to do it like that. So, you know, you might put it off till springtime and that's fine because you're in control. So, you can put it off till springtime, there's no waiting list. It's just you. So I would get the parts, I would get mentally ready for that. Um, I would set a date, like, you know, the first week in April.

If the weather's good, then I'm going to do this or the second week, week. And, but I would have the part there, um, and be mentally ready to do it. Think about how you're going to do the job. You know what it's going to take. That way you mentally, you're prepared to do it. You know, and maybe there's going to be some little obstacles you can do some re research, uh, research on those to see what will take to overcome the obstacles.

Which might not be a big thing. It might be a big thing. You have to talk to someone and get, really dig into it, or it the, our job is now going to be three hours, or the one-day job is now going to be two days. So having that thought out can really help, especially if you're in that edgy time of year where you're going from winter to spring, there might be rain, things like that to consider.

You can give it some extra time. So just in case you have an unexpected problem, you see you can plan for this. So basically you get all your ducks in a row and you're ready to take care of this either in the date you set or if there's a good day somewhere between now and then you could just take care of it and have it done.

Or maybe it's something you could do one half one day and one half another day. It doesn't matter, like let's say it's solar, you could put the solar panels on the. Do the charge controller and the batteries another day. You know, there's ways of doing that. So that is something you're in control of. If you take it to a shop, you lose that control and most of the stuff on an RV is pretty much do it yourself.

So, it's not that hard, hard to do. So, what I always do, Is I buy the parts for better or worse, and sometimes they sit around for days. Sometimes they sit around for weeks and sometimes they sit around for months. But I have them there. So, if when I'm ready to do it, I'm going to do it. And if they do sit there for months, that's because I just bought it way early and I really don't care about getting it done type of thing.

It's not that I put those stuff off like that, but having the parts there just. Easier, you're more prepared to do it, you know that you have to do it. Sometimes the parts are nice reminders as well. They're right in front of you and you're like, oh, I have to get this done. Yep. Okay. So, and with that being said, some parts and accessories might take two weeks to get, three weeks to get, um, you know, and that's whether you order it or, or shop orders.

It doesn't. You know, the manufacturer could be running behind. Um, there could be problems in the supply chain in general shipping problems, but plan ahead. You know, one thing that we get phone calls quite often for is this last minute thing, because people don't understand that shipping takes more than 24 hours.

You know, if you live in LA and you're buying it from Amazon, yeah, you might get the same day, but you know, that's a different story. It's like we might get a call from somebody on a Wednesday afternoon asking to order a slide out fabric, and so somewhere in that conversation we asked them, when do you need to have this?

You know, just to make sure that the shipping time, the, well, actually the processing of the order time, the shipping time meets within their deadline. And quite often we hear something like, well, we're, we need a Friday, we're leaving Friday afternoon and they're on the East coast, we're in Montana. That's just not going to happen.

Mm-hmm, even if you next day aired it, you know, for 200 bucks, it's still not going to happen because we have to process the order, we have to go through the motions of the order. So, think ahead, you know, allow shipping time and don't just count on that. They're going to ship it the same day you order it. It might be two or three days before they ship it, you know, like it was something we make.

Sometimes it's up to two weeks before it ships. So always plan ahead as far out as you can. Um, well within. And so that avoids some frustration. Yes. Cause what happens, Alexis, when that happens, when someone wants to order it and they expect it Friday, are they happy?

Alexis- Frustrated.

Eric- Frustrated, but yeah. And frustrated at who? Themselves Or us?

Alexis- Us.

Eric- Us, we're the bad guys. and that's okay. We don't mind being the bad guys, but it’s just, it's frustration. It doesn't need to be mm-hmm. and, you know, in these post pandemic days, we need. Plan a little bit more. Anyway, so the bottom line. Is to just plan ahead, be ready, whether you're taking it to a shop or doing it yourself.

You know, this is one of those things that you probably want to overthink and not under think so. And that way you'll have a good trip, less frustration. So, if you have a question about any project you're working on, just let me know. You can text me, email me, call me. Everything you need to get ahold of us at TheSmartRVer podcast is available.

On our website, that's So, anything you need to know, you can go there. And that's the starting point. Well, not anything you need to know. A lot of things you need to know about RVs. We are here to help.


Eric- So now we're going to the next stop. Ooh, yay. And where are we going today, Alexis?

Alexis- Looks like we're going to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia.

Eric- So, are they in North Carolina or Georgia, or both?

Alexis- They're in both.

Eric- Okay. So, these are, uh, it's a border destination.

Alexis- Yeah, exactly.

Eric- Okay, so if we were to go to the Blue Ridge Mountains, what is there to see there?

foot path in the us. Uh, it's:

Eric- Okay. And so that's the mountains to sea trail. Yeah. And how many miles of biking. Are there on the trail? Do you know?

You know, the whole thing is:

Eric- Oh, okay. So, yeah. So, it's still a good, they could turn into a day, week, long trip, whatever.

Alexis- Oh yeah, absolutely.

Eric- The biking. Mm-hmm. And then hiking. Is that longer than the Continental Divide Trail?

Alexis- I wouldn't think so. I don't think so.

Eric- Oh, you said marked footpath. Yeah, marked footpath. Okay. Yeah. So, the Continental divides’ different.

Alexis- Yeah, it would be. It would be different.

Eric- All right. So, if you're thinking of doing the Continental divide, maybe this would be the place to start.

Alexis- Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. That works out for you.

Eric- All right. So, after you're done hiking the trail or biking the trail, And you're thirsty for a beer, where would you recommend going?

Alexis- You're going to need refreshment, so you might want to hit up the grumpy old men brewery. Just the name sounds great, right? It's one of those names that just, uh, right, you have to. You have to see it.

Eric- Yeah, Okay. Then, um, If I was looking for some gems or felt like doing some mining while there. Where would you recommend?

Alexis- Yeah, especially if you have kids, but even if you don't, this might be something fun. It's called the Lily Pad Village, and you can do gem mining there and fishing and mini golf.

Eric- All right. Miniature golf. You can't beat that. That's right. So that sounds like a good place for the kids.

Alexis- Exactly. Yeah.

Eric- So, if you have your kids with, you know, you can negotiate a deal with them to go there for a while. All right, so here's one last place on your list. Captain Joe's Lake Adventure. Yeah. Now, me personally, anything with Captain in the name just sounds scary. It sounds creepy, but. So, what's, what's Captain Joe cooking.

Alexis- He, he's an amazing captain. He's really cool. He'll take you out on these fishing trips. You can get a group, or you can do a private charter, but he'll show you where all the good stuff is. He'll make sure, uh, your catch is awesome, and you'll just have a good time with him. He's, he's a good guy. I don't know him personally, but that's what I hear.

Eric- Captain Joe, I don't know. All right, so with Captain Joe, the private charters kind of gets my attention, because if you can ever do a private charter on a boat or a plane, it's totally different than when you're out with a crowd. Mm-hmm. , they spend more time with you. It's more personal. You're going to learn more information about the area and what you're doing. You know, heck, he might even let you captain the boat, depending on the boat. You never know from the plane, whatever, whatever. So that sounds like it's cool. So, um, I'm sure there's places to eat there.

Alexis- Uh, absolutely. Um, there's one called Southern Charm that's cute. Um, they have fried foods, of course, good for the soul. And then they have sweet treats as well.

Eric- Okay, very good. So, there's always places to eat. And is there some place to stay for the RVer.

Alexis- Yeah, there's actually a few places around. Um, one of them is called the Blue Ridge Lodge and RV Park. They've got big, big sites, so if you're hauling a big motor home, you can go stay there. There's also the River KOA that also has big spots, so there's just a couple.

Eric- Okay. Nice. Yeah. And what's the best time to go there?

Alexis- Well, honestly, I mean, over there you can go anytime of the year. Um, but if you want to miss the crowds, then maybe January, February, March would be a good time to go. Less people reduce costs, save, save on money, a little

Eric- So, it's probably a little colder.

Alexis- Slightly. It's still not miserable.

Eric- Right, exactly. Yeah. And so fewer people always makes it nice. Um, That's kind of a case. I like fewer people. Yep. Now, you know, when you go with fewer people, like we went to Alaska and it was a different, we went in April. Oh, early. But we are able to do a lot more than I think if people were there. Absolutely. You know, see more, you get closer up front chartering boats and planes. Yes. We got a totally different treat than I bet if we are with a group, so yeah, that makes sense. Awesome. All right, so it's January through March. That's the time to go, and that's the Blue Ridge Mountains. So, if you haven't been.

Some place you want to put on your schedule. Great family vacation or family trips. So now let's go to RV Envy.


So today we are going to talk about vent stuffers. And I forgot to bring one up if you're watching on YouTube, but if you're listening, it doesn't even matter. And just for the record, um, we will have a, or a, uh, video on vent stuffers soon enough.

We have a, it is going to be one of the Fast Tip Friday videos and we've got them scheduled, lined out, and so they're coming. Um, you, there's one every other week, so takes a little bit to get through them all, but the vent stuffers are on that, and especially since we talked about it. So, what's cool about a vent stuffer, if you don't know what it is, it goes in your regular 14 by 14 rough.

And it's a little bit smaller. They're like 12 by 12 or 13 by 13. I don't remember the dimensions. There are different types of them. Some of them come wrapped in like fake fur. They might have, um, silver foil on one side, or it might just be a piece of foam. I mean, it's something you could make yourself.

Mm-hmm. But the point is it goes up in the vent and it just holds itself there because it's oversized. So, it blocks out the. But if you're in an area where it's cold or it's hot, it's going to keep out the heat or the cold. So, it's going to keep it a little more insulated. It's really just a vent. Insulator is what it is, but they're called vent stuffers.

Vent insulators, and they're a nice little item to have, even if you don't use one all the time. Just having one for each vent in your RV might be worthwhile. Um, Over the years, I've always had them in my RV. Um, I always have Max Airs on the roof or the Camco, vent covers, and I leave the vent lid open.

And depending on the time of year, just throw a vent stuffer in there. Lids never close. In fact, they disintegrate, fall apart and don't even worry about it because the vent stuffers there if you really want to block it out. or the elements. So, event suffers are pretty cool and you can go to the website, our website, smart rv parts to look at a couple of them different choices and flavors.

So, wow, that's a, a wrap today almost. We went through that pretty quick. I thought it was going to take longer, it's invent suburbs weren't as complex as I thought. Oh, not really. It's pretty simple. All right, so you know, all of our episodes, everything we talk about is put on the smart website, everything.

Eric- There's nothing that's left out. And then we're doing the Fast Tip Friday videos, which are coming out every other Friday. The first one started November 4th, and it'd be November, whatever, 18th, I believe is the next one. So, they're a couple weeks apart, but they're in between each podcast episode that we do.

So, there's something every week coming from us, so the website's getting more information on it. And remember a lot of the stuff we talk about, especially the next op and some of these, Oh, the RV lifestyle. It's just things to get you excited about the rv, you know, the adventure, the lifestyle, and you know, to motivate you to do a little more research.

You know, we’re trying to plan trips for you, but we're trying to give you ideas of places to go. So, look at it that way. But all the stuff's on the website, whether it's the Next Stop, RV Envy, RV lifestyle. Everything I talk about in the podcast, most of that is on the website. I mean, there's always the transcript in the podcast episode, so if you're listening on iTunes or Spotify or you know, Google or whatever it might be.


You know, go to the website occasionally and check it out. There are things there that sometimes you're not going to see. Army not going to hear on the podcast. All right. So, I want to thank everybody for coming or listening to the show today. So, this is Eric Stark with TheSmartRVer podcast. It has been great hanging out with you.

If I don't see you on the road, let’s connect at