Westland Camping Service Tip Video- Checking Your Trailer for Water Damage

This time of year, it is important to do a thorough checkout of your RV for loose or damages seals, as well as the rest of the things you need to do to fully winterize your trailer.  No matter if it is a 5th wheel, travel trailer of a pop up camper.  These items are probably the number 1 on the list of important seasonal checks.

 

Here is a video from the folks at RV Education 101, quickly explaining what to do to check out your trailer.

 

If you want a practiced eye looking at this stuff, feel free to call us and we will check it out for you.

Video: Pie Iron Recipe: Ham Breakfast Sandwich

We at Westland Camping Center love our Pie Irons.  That is why Pie Irons are our first official Accessory of the week.  The are as easy as you want it to be, or can be as extravagant as you like, and it all tastes better over a fire.  Check these guys out, and see for yourself how easy a hot lunch can be.

Testimonial: Awning Cleaner

Best Awning Cleaner from Westland Camping Center

Best Awning Cleaner from Westland Camping Center

I just got this email from some customers regarding Best Awning Cleaner.  They had bought a used 5th wheel, and were cleaning it up before taking it out on the road:

 

“Steve, Linda and I used the awning cleaner this morning just before it went back on the 5th wheel. Our old awning looks like new. This stuff cut through the dirt and mold fast. We used paper towel and went for fresh towels as the old ones got saturated with the green and brown slime. We did not have to scrub the same spots over and over, the best awning cleaner worked great.

Thanks, John and Linda”

 

If you have any thoughts about a product you found at Westland Camping, send me an email at steve@westlandcamping.com, and give the product some love!

Camping Isn’t Easy, But it is Worth it.

Westland Camping research team at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Westland Camping research team at Sleeping Bear Dunes

I know this may sound counter-intuitive for a camping professional to say, but it is true: Camping isn’t easy. There is a lot of planning that goes into a camping trip, planning routes, destinations, menus, etc.

But the value of going camping far surpasses (in my opinion) any other family vacation option. I grew up in a camping family, and every year we would travel to some new destination such as the U.P. or the Smokey Mountains. We even camped at the Wisconsin Dells one year, and it was awesome.

It took some planning on the part of my parents, but the time we spent playing catch by the beach, learning about animals, and perfecting S’mores was worth it to me – and them.
I am taking this opportunity right here to thank my parents, Dave and Irene, for taking the time to plan out our camping vacations.

To help get you into the planning groove, do a little research. Practice makes perfect. You have the advantage of the internet, so use it. To make preparations easier, there are checklists available online that other campers have put together and published for the common good, but feel free to adapt them to your specific needs.

Find what works for you and do it. Your kids will thank you in twenty years.

Westland Camping Fishing Stories: Harsens Island Big Pike Hunt

33" Pike, caught on a 15' Ocean Kayak Prowler

33" Pike, caught on a 15' Ocean Kayak Prowler

I headed out to Harsens Island for some pike fishing this past April,with about 35 of my closest kayak fishing buddies for a multi-day fishing tournament.

Harsens Island is a perfect location for pike due to lots of shallow weeds for spawning, and dramatic drop offs for hunting pike.  It was a little early for spawning this year, so we trolled from our kayaks over 15 foot depths.  Most people had success with rapala  size 11, in fire tiger, but most of the fish I caught were on X-raps, size 14, in hothead or glass ghost.  I felt that size 14 might be too big, but hey, go big or go home right?  Caught lots of hammer handles (23-29 inch pike) on that size, so I kept with it for the first two days.

Saturday was the big fishing tournament, and that’s when I broke out my secret weapon, the River2sea V-joint, a fantastic jointed lure with excellent color choices. With $100 for the first place fish, plus bragging rights, I thought I might use something that the pike haven’t seen yet.  We hit the water at about 9:00 Saturday morning, and it started out slow.  I cruised up the middle channel, without so much as a nibble for about an hour.  So I decided to change tactics a bit.

One river mouth in particular had been producing good sized pike, so I beached the kayak, and started casting from knee deep water to the drop off at the mouth.  Still nothing, except very cold feet.  That’s when I decided that today’s biggest fish probably wouldn’t be very big at all.  I thought that I would have a good chance of winning if I caught any fish.  So back into the kayak to troll a bit more, and cover as many inlet mouths as I could. I also switched out the running depth of the lures from 5 or 6 feet, to 3 foot, and kept the kayak tighter to shore, in about 8 or 10 feet of depth.

As it turned out, that was the winning strategy.  I hooked into a 33” pike, and she dragged me into some shallows, managed to rap the second line I had out around the kayak.  After I landed her, I had to get out of the kayak and unravel the mess she had made during the battle.  After a couple of photo ops, I headed back to base camp to break the bad news to everyone.  It turned out up until I showed up with 5 hours to go in the tournament, the largest was 29”.  The angler who had that fish gave me a dirty look, put his dry suit back on, and headed back out to try and top me.  No dice, and I walked away with the kitty, and a year’s worth of bragging rights.

Westland Camping Product Review: Microwave S’mores Maker

Microwave S'mores Maker

Might look odd, but it is tasty, and easy.

The first time I saw this, I was drawn to the look of it.  Really weird.  My second thought was why would you make s’mores in the microwave?  But the truth is, more and more campers are made with microwaves, sometimes more than one, counting the trend towards outside kitchens.  But when thinking practically about the steps involved in making s’mores over the campfire, I thought maybe this could very well be an easy way to get the gooey s’mores I wanted, in an easy to use, home and camper friendly fashion.  So I decided to give it a try.

I first tried this product in our home microwave as a treat for family movie night.    I filled the back with water, placed the gram crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow under the arms and popped it into the microwave.  30 seconds later I had a warm gooey S’more (minus the burnt exterior I get from the fire pit).  My daughter and I watched the S’more heat and it was amusing to watch her eyes grow with the marshmallow as it heated up.  The thing grows like crazy, easily tripling in size during the cooking process.

Some tips for use; use a thin chocolate bar if you wan the chocolate to melt through.  Stale marshmallows don’t expand as much as fresh ones so the melting process is not as even.  There are all sorts of different flavored chocolates and marshmallows it might be fun to experiment.  While nothing beats that over the fire S’more, I would recommend this product.  No sticks required.

Westland Camping Kayak Review: Ocean Kayak Prowler 13T

Prowler 13T from Westland Camping

Prowler 13T from Westland Camping

The Prowler 13T sit on top kayak has hit the perfect balance of speed, maneuverability, performance and stability. This kayak performs well in almost any water application but you’ll notice the superb performance in breaking surf and rough seas.

 

The great Part of sit on top kayaks is the stability you get naturally due to it’s design.  It works great on any of your Michigan waters, and is so versatile, that you can fish, surf, paddle, explore, and camp right off the boat.

I like this boat so much, I bought one for each myself and my wife, and the cargo hold even sits my 5 yr old daughter perfectly.  I think you will be happy with this boat on any waterway in the midwest.

Westland Camping RV Service Tips: Dumping (Part 2)

RV Toilet

RV Toilet

RV DUMPING; NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK: Part 2 (Standing to the side)

 

Last time I discussed the things you need to do every time you use the sewer system, let’s review:  The proper chemicals with a few gallons of water, and the proper tissue.  Everybody caught up now?  Good, let’s move on to the actual job at hand…

You may be at a site that has a full sewer hookup, or you may use some sort of Tote Tank, or just stop at the dump station on your way out, but the basic procedures are about the same, although the specifics vary from trailer to trailer.  Hook up your sewer hose, pull the valves and wait for it to drain, then close the valves, rinse.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a good quality sewer hose kit.  They may be a little more money, but not leaking on your shoes is totally worth it.  Try to get a set that has a sewer fitting attachment, so that you get a good seal at both ends.  Also get yourself some disposable dump gloves.  I know some people have heavy rubber gloves they store and use over and over again, but I prefer to use fresh ones every time (and always stand to the side when taking off the cap to the dump valve, there is almost always a teeny amount of liquid in there).

After dumping both the black and grey water tanks, many places have a hose you can use to rinse your sewer hose, or if you have a sewer tank back flushing system, now would be a good time to use it.  The more water you have circulating in that tank, the more effective the dumping is, and the less likely you will have issues later on.

Only one more installment to go: Home maintenance and Storage!  I have goose-bumps.  Seriously.

Westland Camping RV Service Tips: Dumping (Part 1)

RV DUMPING; NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK: part 1 (The ingredients)

 

Nobody likes thinking about it, nobody likes doing anything about it, but it is the single most important element to a successful vacation: THE SEWER SYSTEM!!!  This is part one in a series that will help de-mystify your black water system, and teach you prevent problems, and be a hero to your whole family.

It’s hard to get excited about this, but think about it, nothing can ruin a camping trip faster than a sewer backup, or plugged or leaking drain assembly.  And if a few (fairly easy) steps are actually performed consistently, you should never have a problem:

  1. Use the chemicals.  There are lots of different choices in toilet chemicals, both pre-mixed liquids, as well as pre-measured drop-ins.  The chemicals do two things, they break down the waste and toilet paper, making the dumping (emptying) process faster and easier, with less chance of blockage or back-ups, and they deodorize the tank to help keep the odors in check.  If you don’t know which one you like, try out a sample package, and see what works for you.  And make sure whatever product you use, you add a couple of gallons of water into the tank to make sure you have good chemical coverage.
  2. Use the right toilet tissue.  No, regular 1 ply T.P. is not the same as the T.P. specifically designed to break down in the toilet chemicals.  There are a few different brands of this as well.  You can shop by price if you want, but make sure it says that it is designed for RV sewer systems.  Other “cheap” toilet papers lead to clogs and what I call “sewer spit wads” that can clog the drain pipes, and cling to the sides of the tank, and the probes that tell you how full the tank is leading to false readings.

There is a lot more to learn, but this is a good start.  Next time, we’ll cover what happens at the dump station, and how to make it a clean and easy process.

Westland Camping Michigan Campground Review

Camping Destination: White Birch Campground

White Birch Campground

Westland Camping Approved!

If you are looking for a cool place to spend a weekend that isn’t too far away, The White Birch Campground is a great place to go.  Located a short four miles west of Houghton Lake, nestled on the banks of the Muskegan River, White Birch is a relaxing place to spend a long weekend.

The year 2010 saw some changes for this company, including new ownership, and an increase in both facilities, and service.  Having stayed at this campground under both owners, I was greatly impressed with the new improvements.  There was firewood delivered directly to the site, as well as a shuttle service to the local convenience store for supplies every weekend night.  We had a larger group of tent campers, so we stayed on the group site called “The Point,” which is surrounded on two sides by the river, and was about a hundred yard walk from the parking area through the woods along the river.  We were not looking forward to lugging all of our gear there, but we didn’t have to.  They used a tractor and trailer to haul all of our stuff down, so all we had to do was unload and unpack.  These are all free services offered, and greatly appreciated.

The campground also has a livery service right on the spot, dropping off customers at multple points along the river depending on what kind of time you want to spend on the river.  They offer canoes, kayaks, and tubing, for whatever kind of river trip you are looking at.  My wife and I had brought our own kayaks, and they shuttled them for us as well, with only a nominal fee for the trouble.

The campground includes flush toilets and showers, as well as water and power hookups, and a sewer dump station.  The property is private and out of the way and mostly tree covered, but some spectacular stargazing can be had with only a short walk to open farmland, where our group got to witness a meteor shower in full effect (it was pretty cool).

For entertainment, there is (aside from the kayaking) an outdoor game room, horseshoes, water volleyball set up in the river, and of course, fishing and swimming galore.

And after talking to the owners, they have big plans for White Birch, so this season, if you want a great weekend away, look hard at a trip to Houghton Lake, and White Birch.  You will also be impressed.

Westland Camping Center Video Tour

 

Ask any person who has ever shopped for an RV at an RV dealership, and they will probably tell you about being set upon by teams of hungry salespeople, ready to jump on you and shove you into the most expensive thing that your credit can get you, all while dripping hair oils on your new jacket.  Whether you are looking for a travel trailer, 5th wheel or pop up camper, Westland Camping is committed to selling you exactly what you want.

We take the time to figure out what your needs are, what you can safely tow, how many people are you going to be accommodating?  It takes time to do, but matching up the right camper for your needs shouldn’t just be price driven.  Remember, if the trailer isn’t right, the price never will be.

 

Westland Camping also make sure you leave here with everything you need, from cooking utensils to activities like kayaking and fishing that you can enjoy while you are out.

Come on and check us out, we would be happy to help.

Flagstaff 30 WFKSS Video Tour

 

This past weekend saw Westland Camping at the RV show in Novi Michigan, where We got the opportunity to show off one of our favorite Flagstaff Travel trailers, the Flagstaff 30WFKSS.  This Trailer is part of the V-Lite series, identified by the distinctive V shape in the front.  Come on and take a look.  you can also read more about it in this article on the Gr8 lakes camper blog.

Westland Camping Education Department Presents: Picking the Camper or RV for your Needs

SABRE  34 TBOK

SABRE 34 TBOK

Every day, people walk into Westland Camping looking to purchase a new travel trailer 5th wheel or pop up camper, and we ask them some basic questions about what they are looking for.  An alarming number of people really have no idea.  I am going to talk about the basic steps you need to take to find the right RV for your family’s needs.

First of all, how many people are you looking to sleep?  Is it just you and a spouse?  Do you have kids or friends you need to accomidate?  This is an important first question, because your answer can eliminate over half of the floor plans out there, making your choice that much easier.  For example, this 831 FKBSS is great for sleeping 2, and equipped to sleep up to four, but utilizes the air mattress hide-a-bed.  This 831 BHWS unit is set up to sleep 10.  Both are about the same size, and about the same price, but are set up for very different families.

 

The next thing to consider is what kind of tow vehicle are you planning to use to pull it?  Or are you planning to pull it at all? any vehicles can either narrow down your choices or open up opportunities you hadn’t considered before.  Small tow vehicles such as the Ford Escape or Dodge Caravan are limited to 3,500 pound tow limits (if equipped properly), a Jeep Liberty can tow up to 5,000 pounds.  The Ford F-150 can tow over 10,000 pounds if properly equipped.  If you do have a smaller tow vehicle, then maybe you should consider a Walkabout trailer, designed fromt he ground up to be Ultra Light-Weight.  (like, super light).  Knowing the answer to this can help you direct your attention to units that fit your vehicle as well as your family.

 

One last thing (at least for this article) is what type of camping are you planning on doing?  If your dream is a lot of longer trips where you do a fair amount of moving from place to place, maybe you would like a unit with less set up, like a travel trailer.  But if you like the feeling of sleeping outside, then perhaps a tent camper (or pop up camper) or hybrid travel trailer is the right unit for you.

 

These are a few of the questions you should ask yourself when choosing the right camper or RV for you and your family.  Obviously, this doesn’t take into account new/used, price ranges, financing, or that sort of thing, but that is going to have to wait for it’s own article.  If you have any questions, about what RV is right for you, then give us a call, and we will be glad to help.

Westland Camping is back at the RV Show!!!

Westland Camping Booth February 2012 RV Show

Westland Camping Booth February 2012 RV Show

This February, we have the opportunity to show the latest and greatest RV’s for all to see at the Suburban Collection Showplace.  Here are the details from the RV show website, from MARVAC, the Michigan Association of Recreational Vehicles and Campgrounds:

 

When

February 8-12, 2012
Add this event to your calendar)
(If prompted to OPEN or SAVE, choose OPEN)

Hours

Weekdays 2-9 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Display

All types of new recreation vehicles—over 250 units and 50 brands displayed; folding campers, motor homes, travel trailers, truck campers, fifth wheel travel trailers and toy haulers, ranging in price from $4,999 to more than $400,000. Booths featuring parts and accessories, campground information, on site RV financing and RV rentals make this the complete RV show experience. Consumers can pick up the new 2012 RV & Campsite. This guide to camping and RV dealers in Michigan now includes coupons.

Where

Suburban Collection Showplace (formerly the Rock Financial Showplace)
46100 Grand River Avenue, Novi, MI 48374.
On Grand River, south of I-96 between Novi Road and Beck Road.