They may be selling RVs at a record pace, but there are lots of lingering Pandemic Problems for the RV Industry
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc across all aspects of the economy including the RV Industry. And while RV sales have never been better, the damage done by the shutdowns and the resulting incredible demand for RVs continues to stress the industry.
In Episode 315 of the RV Podcast, we talk about Pandemic Problems for the RV Industry and much more.
We interview Dean Corrigal, of Leisure Travel Vans. Dean is probably America's Best-known RV Salesman because of his amazingly detailed walk-through RV reviews on YouTube.
We talked to Dean about a lot of things about how the pandemic is still affecting the RV Industry, including:
- The Rise of the Digital Nomads, the near 5 million people who now work remotely from their RVs
- The lingering effects of the pandemic and critical, ongoing shortages in RV parts and components
- The incredible demand for RVs and how if you want to order a new one, you shouldn't expect to see it for 14 months!
- And how some are predicting the U.S. Canadian border will remain closed for RV travel through next spring!
This is an interview you will not want to miss.
Plus, we have lots of RV news. RV Lifestyle questions, tips and another great off the beaten path report from our friends Patti and Tom Burkett.
You can listen to the RV Podcast in the player below. And scroll down this page for complete shownotes, transcripts, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about.
RV PODCAST opening: WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
Here's what's happening with us this week…
- We’re back from UP…where we encountered the best fall foliage ever. We timed it for peak color. And except for Mike losing a memory card from his drone with the best aerial shots, it was an awesome 10-day trip.
- Mike has a new drone coming this week and hopes to up his aerial photography videos and still photos
- We’re planning to be in Southwest Michigan next week along the Lake Michigan shoreline
- October is a very busy time in RV campgrounds every weekend Halloween… decorating rigs… There will be NO Trick or Treating in many places… but decorations and the festivities are on tap at most campgrounds. Most are booked up every weekend in October.
This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Camping World – America’s #1 RV Dealer
RV PODCAST NEWS OF THE WEEK
You can listen to the RV Podcast in the player below. And scroll down this page for complete shownotes, transcripts, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about. The News of the Week comes about 13:20 in.
Florida RV SuperShow WILL happen this January, organizers announce
It's now official: The Florida RV SuperShow is on! The show, one of the largest in the nation, will happen in person (vs. virtual) on the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa Jan. 13-17. Show organizers say they will do everything possible to provide a clean and safe environment for exhibitors and attendees. Currently, Hillsborough County, where the state fair is located, is under a mandatory indoor mask order which – if that is still in place in January, will be enforced. The Florida RV Super Show is one of our favorites. To see past reports we have done click here.
New regulations spell out e-bike rules for federally managed land, including national parks
U.S. Department of the Interior finalized its e-bike polices last Friday, announcing e-bikes are allowed where traditional bikes are permitted on land managed by the National Park Service or Bureau of Reclamation land. For the Bureau of Land Management, an authorized official must say where the e-bikes can go, and a refuge manager must determine if e-bikes are appropriate for land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Many e-bike users were excited about being able to take their bikes on national parks trails, but some environmentalists feared people riding too quickly might alter the ambiance of the trails. Personally, Jen and I are big fans of e-bikes. They permit you to petal on your own, providing a little assist where you need it. To see a report we did a while back on our e-bikes, click here.
GPS from cell phones show parks are the one place more Americans are visiting more during the pandemicAn interesting story out last week tracked GPS from Americans cell phones and found every category Google is tracking – visits to stores, the office, restaurants, and so on – is down except one category – parks. According to the Google tracking numbers, visits to parks including beaches, dog parks, marinas and federal land like national parks, are up – significantly, something many of us can attest to anecdotally. To see the story click here.
Company ranks the best national parks for night sky viewing
Those who, like Jen and I, enjoy gazing into the night sky will want to check out a star mapping company's ranking of the best national parks for viewing the stars. The company, called Under Lucky Stars, used a measure of the artificial light ratio, to help with the ranking and came up with its list of the top 10. Photographing the night sky is one of my favorite activities. For photography tips, check out this blog post here.
KOA reporting strong, near record-breaking numbers with 25 percent of campers trying for first time
For months we have been reading about record RV and camping trailer sales. Now the private campgrounds are also starting to gather their numbers. Kampgrounds of America announced that despite tens of thousands of cancellations in March and April, the company had an amazing summer and is within 10 percent of last year's record numbers. According to the KOA report, one-quarter of the people who camped this summer camped for the first time. And about 80 percent of these campers were families with young children, seeking a way to vacation during the pandemic.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes, America's #1 e-bike brand, offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping
RV PODCAST QUESTION OF THE WEEK
You can listen to the RV Podcast in the player below. And scroll down this page for complete shownotes, transcripts, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about. The question of the week can be heard about 19:25 in.
This question comes from our Podcast VoiceMail number (586-372-6990)
Hi, Mike, and Jennifer, it's Karen.
I really enjoy your RV lifestyle newsletter and podcasts. I got a question. I'm a retired sixty-two-year-old female and I recently just sold my Class C 24 ft RV.
That was on a Chevy 4500 chassis and I really loved her. She was perfect in so many ways, but I wanted to buy something smaller.
So now I'm kind of confused as to what I should do. I've been searching on RV Trader and different places and I really want a van type RV because I want to go places that will accommodate shorter length and height vehicle.
I know I want gas vs. Diesel and I really don't want to spend over $55,000 total.
I can't justify a new one because the prices are way too high.
So I've been looking at Chevy models because I really like how mine drove very strong and reliable and I want to be able to travel during all seasons, winter camping, boondocking, off the grid. Go to the mountains, you know, go wherever I want to go.
So I'd love to have something with an all-wheel or four-wheel drive to get me in two different places, but I don't know if that is really a necessity and it's very difficult to find those.
I'm also considering buying a cargo van and having it built out or partial build-out and doing some of it myself.
I was thinking also maybe an older model Pleasure Way because I've always gravitated to those.
So I was wondering if you had any advice on what type of vehicle I might want to consider or if my thoughts are in the wrong direction.
I really don't like the fold-down electric beds. I think I prefer twin beds and I want to be able to bring a kayak in a bicycle.
I travel along with my dog and no I'm not afraid to travel alone. I've done it for quite a while now. I also backpack and hike so I'd be bringing that type of equipment along I've been looking at a lot of YouTube videos.. Doing a lot of research, but I'm kind of confused. The more research I do, the more I'm thinking that it will end up costing near a new price when I'm done building or retrofitting an older model vehicle.
So if there's any advice that you could give me or considerations on purchasing an older model vehicle, or maybe why not to purchase one, I'd really appreciate it.
Thank you so much. Mike and Jennifer. I hope you can answer my questions and maybe use it on your podcast. Okay. Have a good day. Thanks. Bye.
Jennifer Wendland: What a well thought out question.
Mike Wendland: Yeah Karen has done her homework hasn't she?
Jennifer Wendland: She certainly has.
Mike Wendland: Well Karen you don't sound confused. You have a pretty clear list of what you want, and that is good. But let me give you a bit of a reality check. For $55,000 if that's that's your top budget, you're going to have to make some compromises. To buy a new RV, with most of those features that you want, you're going to be talking about double that, $100,000 or more.
Now you can find really cheap RVs and I'm just not going to recommend them because people make them and they're really cheap. I mean, they are and all you got to do is look at them. So to get a new one, that has a number of those features you wanted. It's going to cost north of $100,000.
Now used, you're right in finding that, but be realistic. You're going to have to buy something six or seven years old. So probably a 2013, a 2014 model will get you close enough, close enough to your $55,000. So I would start looking at those figures.
Jennifer Wendland: I thought Karen was right in saying that she's looking at used ones that the all-wheel and the four-wheel drives are hard to find.
Mike Wendland: Because you're going to have to go back six, seven years to get that price. I don't even think they made all-wheel [crosstalk 00:01:38] and four-wheel drive's back then. Those are fairly new within the last few years. So, and to just give you our experience, we have all-wheel on our current RV and I did use it.
It did come in handy a couple of times on sand when we were up boondocking last week. But we did have a four-wheel drive at one point, an RV with four-wheel drive and we never needed it. I don't even think it was selling. We just never needed it in the couple years we had it.
Jennifer Wendland: If I recall right that was a very bumpy ride, the four-wheel drive.
Mike Wendland: It was. The four-wheel drive is a very stiff, bumpy ride. It wasn't comfortable. So I don't think the all-wheel or four-wheel drive, are anything you have to worry about. You'll still be able to go off the beaten path.
If that's what you like, the Chevy models from that era, I would suggest you look at the Roadtrek brand. The ones that were built in 2013, 2014, they were still building on the Chevy chassis. new those things are bulletproof.
Jennifer Wendland: They're like little tanks, they don't wear out.
Mike Wendland: The ones before the company was sold to Hymer, the ones that were built before that on the Chevy chassis, they just go and go. They're like to Duracell Bunny, they just keep going. And those are built on the Chevy van chassis and everybody who has one of those, they just don't give them up. I think that's why Roadtrek quit building them because people weren't buying them new because the old ones worked so well.
Jennifer Wendland: They couldn't get the Chevy chassis is what they say.
Mike Wendland: And that is the case that Chevy, has stopped making those chassis available for RVs. Another chassis to look at though, that has become very popular, is the Dodge ProMaster chassis. That's become the replacement for the Chevy chassis for many. And those have been around now for about five years, It's used by many RV brands. You might get lucky and find a Roadtrek Zion, one of the early models that they made on that ProMaster chassis. And you might be able to find a later model from another manufacturer. I don't think it will be at your $55,000 price point, but who knows.
Jennifer Wendland: I found it interesting that you say you've always gravitated towards a Pleasure-Way and so to get a B in Pleasure-Way or even Leisure Travel Vans. They used to make a B.
Mike Wendland: They used to, and that would put you in that 2013, 2014 model year.
Jennifer Wendland: They're good products. And if you have always gravitated towards something, I'd check that out.
Mike Wendland: Yeah. Some other models that would fit, I would suggest the Winnebago Travato particularly because it has those twin beds like you like, and it has that center corridor. I think the Travado came on the scene in 2015, maybe 2016. So you might have trouble finding one at that price, maybe one of their bare-bones models, but it's a nice unit. I think America's most popular B van right now is the Travado.
I mentioned Roadtrek earlier for the Chevy vans, but on the Sprinter chassis, they make the SS Agile, which is the Short Sprinter on the 19 foot chassis. I don't know whether you'll find anything near that price, but it's perfect for one person and a dog. It's really perfect for a couple.
Jennifer Wendland: I was thinking I don't know how large the dog is. But the twin beds you could leave one made up like a bed and use the other one as a sofa to sit on. And the dog could maybe have the other bed. Like I say, I don't know how large this dog is.
Mike Wendland: Yep. So that's some of our advice to you. As for carrying a bike and kayak, you've got the back bumper for the bike. To carry a kayak is pretty tough. You're going to have to either store that on the roof or down that center aisle on the inside. And then there are inflatable kayaks, which fold up and you could take one of those. But you can figure all that kind of stuff out. So you're doing good. You're doing a lot of research on YouTube. Know that if you're going to get something used at that $55,000 rate, it's not going to have all the latest technology. It's not going to have lithium. It's not going to probably have solar. That all came a little bit built.
Now she did ask about having one built and yes, you could probably do that at $55,000. You could buy the chassis and you could have somebody do all the plumbing for you and the electricity and even rough it in. And it sounds like you're pretty handy and you could finish it yourself. And I think you could get one that's very usable for the price that you're looking for. You might want to make that an ongoing project but you could start using it. And then as you go, and even as you travel, be finishing it off.
We've got a couple of videos on our YouTube channel. I think last year or the year before at our winter camp out at Tahquamenon Falls when we ran into two couples. They didn't even know each other, but they came to camp out. They parked across from each other and they both had DIY vans. One bought a used Sprinter, and one of them was on the Ford Transit chassis.
So I'll tell you why that makes a lot of sense because as you'll hear in the interview coming up with Dean on new RVs, it takes 14 months to get a new one. People are buying them sight unseen. They're just are unavailable. It's really a competition to find one. It is the same with used RVs. They're selling faster than anything, but buying a Sprinter or a Ford Transit chassis. And we really liked that Ford Transit chassis. Having it upfitted the way you would like. That makes a lot of sense.
Jennifer Wendland: I can't say enough good things about the Ford Transit.
Mike Wendland: Yeah it drives so nice.
Jennifer Wendland: It handles beautifully.
Mike Wendland: Yeah. So I don't know if this helps you Karen, but you have thought this through well, and we think that you're on the right track. Let us know what you do decide. We would love to know and best of luck to you. I think Karen's going to make it and she's going to be out there and we're going to run into her on the road next year.
Jennifer Wendland: I hope we do.
Mike Wendland: I do.
Call the RV Podcast with your Question
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer or a comment on the things we’re discussing? If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Battle Born Batteries, maker of quality, safe, and reliable lithium batteries that can be installed in just about every RV. Get in touch with Battle Born to find out what lithium batteries and an upgraded energy management system can add to your RV Lifestyle.
RV PODCAST INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK – The Rise of the Digital Nomad and Pandemic Problems for the RV Industry
You can listen to the RV Podcast in the player below. keep scrolling down this page for complete shownotes, transcripts, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about. The interview can be heard about 32:11 in.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc across all aspects of the economy including the RV Industry. And while RV sales have never been better, the damage done by the shutdowns and the resulting incredible demand for RVs continues to stress the industry.
Our guest on the interview pf the week is our friend Dean Corrigal, of Leisure Travel Vans. Dean is probably America's Best-known RV Salesman because of his amazingly detailed walk-through RV reviews on YouTube.
We talked to Dean about a lot of things and we have both a transcript and a video version of the interview on our shownotes page.
So let’s get right to it with this very honest assessment from Dean on the lingering pandemic problems of the RV Industry, starting with the challenges posed by the unprecedented rise of the Digital Nomad, those identifying themselves as remote workers.
Here is a Video version of the interview on the Rise of the Digital Nomad and Pandemic Problems for the RV Industry
Here is a transcript of the interview on the Rise of the Digital Nomad and Pandemic Problems for the RV Industry
Mike Wendland: Joining us right now to talk more about this new breed of digital nomad workers from their RV, is our friend Dean Corrigal from Leisure Travel Vans. I don't know what we call them? Digital nomads, I guess.
Dean Corrigal: I don't know. They don't call them RVs anymore. They're a home; they're a hotel in your driveway, right?
Mike Wendland: Yeah. Tiny homes.. mobile offices……digital nomads… am I the only one that uses my RV sometimes as a man-cave?
Dean Corrigal: Man-cave? Absolutely. I think that's the cool thing about that size of motor home is it's just not one thing. It's many things; many, many things.
Digital Nomad – Statistics
Mike Wendland: Well, we want to talk about the statistics that we're seeing that estimate now pretty close to 5 million people are identifying themselves as digital nomads, working from the road from an RV. How are you guys at Leisure Travel Vans seeing that? Are you noticing that demand and then what form do you respond?
Dean Corrigal: There was a little bit of it in the last three or four years but nothing major, but obviously the COVID-19 shutdown of business in March, moved people home. A lot of people started working from home that they had never done before. So out of the office, worked at home, and then they figured out, well, what's home?
Home can be a Leisure Travel Van, an RV, and that's when it all came together that now it's a mobile office. Yeah, it's way more, way more. I don't even know what the number would be, but I would say that now 30 or 40% of the people are using the motor home for some type of business, work-related.
Mike Wendland: Yeah. And how has that affected the design or the questions you get from people as they order these new RVs? What kind of things do you respond to? How's that affect them?
Dean Corrigal: Definitely big question now is where can I work with a laptop or internet? Getting lots of questions on satellite dishes that would send and receive signal versus just receive signal. Lot more questions on that. Now that 5G is starting to come out, everybody wants to get the wifi boosters updated and things like that, to be connected all the time.
That is the big thing. Luckily we have the Winegard 2.0 which has the 4G capability… You can buy the service or put a chip in from your cell phone and then you're live everywhere, but that's definitely the number one question is how can I be live in my motor home or my RV?
Changing RV Buyer Demographics
Mike Wendland: Your audience used to be primarily retirees, didn't it?
Dean Corrigal: I would say, yeah; we did. That was our primary buying group, was people that were about to retire or retiring. Yep, absolutely.
Mike Wendland: How has that changed now as we've seen more and more young people and digital nomads?
Dean Corrigal: Yeah, absolutely. Because now a lot of people that were working at an office and now they're working from home and now they figured out I can work from my RV now. They say, hey, now we can utilize an RV more. We're just not using it to go on vacations or day tripping. Now we can use it as an office.
We can be on… not on holidays, obviously, but we can be working from our motor home. So yeah, it's huge. You just see on the leads that are coming in, mobile office needed to do some work in the office, you know what I mean, make sure that we're connected to the world. So big, big change; big, huge change.
Mike Wendland: What kind of response do you guys, as a manufacturer make on that? I mean, are you making separate work areas for digital nomads? What are some of the things that you can do in these small motor homes but with all the luxuries?
Dean Corrigal: No, luckily we were probably a little ahead of the curve a few years ago because we always try to have a good work area, a good table, a good area.
We always had the Winegard wifi booster up on the roof, so we were a little bit ahead that way. But now people are almost really wanting that little office that I can see in the background, or my little office here, in their motor homes somehow. How do you create a little mobile office and get it out of the way?
We're going to have to work on that because this really happened, I think, in the last three or four months. I mean, from the point of yeah, some guys did use it as an office to I need it as an office, which was a big difference.
We have to get caught up. The design guys are working on trying to be more innovative with space. How do we hide the space, utilize the space, because it's not always an office. So we need to make that space into a living area as well.
Mike Wendland: It's funny, we noticed the statistics show, at least in the US, about 42% of all workers out there are now working remotely from home, and then, as you say, people are saying, well, I can make my home anywhere. We were just up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which is pretty remote, and every campground was filled. And many of those campers are much younger people. Have you any statistics or anecdotal evidence that the age of the buyer is coming down now?
Dean Corrigal: I can't tell you exactly from the buyer because we tend to always be sold out a little bit more in advance than we would like to be, but I can tell you the leads coming in are from way younger buyer, way younger buyer.
The leads in, which are future buyers, much younger demographics. At the end of this year, we always kind of pull it all together to see where we are on the age of our surveys, so we'll know exactly where we are by the end of this fiscal year, how much younger the crowd has got.
But we had a big drop, I think it was three or four years ago we were 65 plus, and then two years ago we dropped down to 60, which is a big number. It doesn't sound like that but to drop for five years of buyers from 65 to 60, and I bet it'll be 55, maybe 50 soon.
Mike Wendland: Yeah. I think you're probably right just from what we see out on the road. So many more younger people in particular. I've passed a Unity the other day on one of the interstates and I honked and I felt it's going to be one of our viewers, and driving it was a young guy. I mean, he had to be in his twenties and it looked like his wife or his partner next to him and she was pretty young. I don't know that they were borrowing mom and dad's or the grandparents, but I never would have seen that before.
Dean Corrigal: There's another one that you just listed off as an RV, mum and dad can buy it, the kids can use it. That's another usage of an RV. It doesn't have to be one family.
The Pandemic Resulted in an RV Sales Boom- Dean Predicted it!
Mike Wendland: The pandemic hit everybody by surprise, everything shut down. And I believe you were the first one to predict, right at the beginning, that this was going to become a boom for the RV market, with this pandemic, and you were right on that.
Dean Corrigal: I was, yeah. No, that was funny. I wish I could pick seven lottery numbers correctly, but I can't, but that one, I felt it. I mean, I just felt it. It just… It felt that it was going to result in a boom.
Mike Wendland: What are the effects now on this as this demand has surged, for people who want to order a new one. I get all sorts of mixed messages from people who say, “Oh, I ordered and they said they can't deliver it for a year and a half.” Is that true for many of them?
Dean Corrigal: I would say yes. I've never seen as many orders come in. I'm stuck in the office because there's no RV shows which… There's a petition to have me moved out of the office forever, from the other office staff because I'm driving them nuts. They gave me, as a matter of fact, I even got an award as Employee of the Month. I know that's sarcasm, but-
Mike Wendland: For sarcasm, yes.
Dean Corrigal: Anyways, yeah it's been crazy. The amount of orders that we got in, we are probably running a year, 14 months out from date of order to date of delivery. I can't even explain it. I've never seen such demand. Like July normally is our slowest month next to December, as far as new orders come in, traditionally, because July is a quieter month because everybody's out RVing, and I think we had 250 or 260 orders came in, retail sold, which is unheard of.
People are buying luxury RVs (costing $130,000 and up) sight unseen!
Mike Wendland: People must be buying these things sight unseen.
Dean Corrigal: Yep, sight unseen. Yeah, that's the other crazy part. I mean, there's no stock out there. I mean, if we hear of one we send customers to wherever we heard there might be one and usually it's gone before the customer can even check on it, even used-
Mike Wendland: That's crazy. What advice would you give people who say, “Look, I want an RV,” and obviously if they want a Leisure, and this is true of any brand you want because they're all… Everybody's having this-
Dean Corrigal: Everybody's busy.
Mike Wendland: What advice, particularly those who want to be a digital nomad, what advice can you give them?
Dean Corrigal: I would think that you just got to get it on order with a dealer, and then, because some people may come off of it. I mean, you never know on the lead time, and then once… Get it on order, I think that is the key for us because we'll… I had a customer from San Francisco, he's like, “Well, I need an order. I need it right away.”
Well, he didn't. “Well, you have to put an order in because I can't even help you until you have an order in the system. You're not really… You don't exist yet in our system.” So I think the key is to get it into the system with a dealer.
The Pandemics still causing massive shortages of RV Parts and Components
Mike Wendland: For those who are already out there in an RV doing this digital nomad stuff, there is one issue that hasn't gotten a lot of attention and that is the difficulty of getting parts. All RV manufacturers are experiencing that.
Dean Corrigal: I was just going to say, so here's the problem. We talked back in March, I think I was probably the… You and I probably did an interview right when the pandemic started. I remember…
Mike Wendland: We did. We did, yeah.
Dean Corrigal: Because I'd come back from the Portland Show and I had to self-quarantine at home so I was stuck at home.
Mike Wendland: Yeah, that's where I interviewed you Yeah.
Dean Corrigal: That's right. So here's the problem, all the factories in the RV business and probably in the world, shut down for six to eight weeks back in March/ April. Everybody shut down, our suppliers for our air conditioners and refrigerators. As a matter of fact, you have a little bit of a fridge problem, they can't get you a part.
Mike Wendland: Yeah. but it's fine. I mean, it's not a crisis for us.
Dean Corrigal: I know, but the problem is that, well, when your factories aren't running for six or eight weeks, eventually you're going to be six or eight weeks behind. Sorry, that's just logic. If your plant's not running, eventually you ran out of water pumps or you ran out of air conditioners or refrigerators or… Here's the craziest thing, we just built 60 or 70 motor homes in the last couple of weeks, we had no pull valves for dumping the tanks; no pull valves.
Mike Wendland: You can't get the valves?
Dean Corrigal: Right. It sounds like a stupid little thing but we couldn't ship them because we had no pull valves. They've come in now, but that's how crazy it is. You're reliant upon the smallest part to finish a motor home.
Mike Wendland: And this is across the industry? All of the manufacturers, and all the parts?
Dean Corrigal: Across the industry yeah, not just ourselves. I heard some of the trailer guys have 2,000 trailers sitting in their yards because they don't have any furniture because there's a shortage of foam. They can't make furniture. I know, it's crazy.
The Pandemic is keeping the US/Canadian Birder Closed” Perhaps until Spring!
Mike Wendland: Yeah. Last question, Dean, we've all been forced to avoid travel between the US and Canada. It was certainly a big RV destination and now is the Snowbirds in Canada want to come South into the U.S… What's the talk out there about how long this closure is going to go? I know it's extended to the rest of October but they seem to be renewing that every month. What are you doing?
Dean Corrigal: Out of all the people that want the border open it's me because I want to go to new RV shows because I've been stuck in the office for seven months now and I'm going crazy. Well, our provinces of Ontario and Quebec are getting hit pretty hard right now with the COVID-19 and the capital of Canada is in Ottawa, so a lot of decisions get based on Ontario, and Ontario is really hurting right now.
I'm kind of hearing spring. I mean, I'm not a government official, but I think it's going to be tough and I have a lot of friends that are Snowbirds that go down to Arizona, California, and Florida, and they're very upset because they're going to have to spend winter in Canada not using their motor home. it's sad. I want everybody to be safe and I don't know what the right answer is on this, but…
Mike Wendland: Sure. In the meantime, it's far from over.
Dean Corrigal: Yes, I wish it was over.
Mike Wendland: I think the positives side though that so many new people are trying RVing.
Dean Corrigal: Absolutely.
Mike Wendland: The industry is obviously going to be very healthy for a long time, and one show that is on the schedule, they just announced it again last week, is the RV Super Show in Tampa? I know Leisure is always there when it's on and…
Dean Corrigal: Yeah, I think we got 10 units going to the show. We're scheduled to go to it. I think Wally's going to the show, I think. So…
Mike Wendland: Yep. Well, we'll be there as well.
Dean Corrigal: I begged him to come. I begged him to come. I said, I'll go. It's not my area, but I'll go.
Mike Wendland: I don't think you know how busy that show is going to be.
Dean Corrigal: You should have a petition to make Dean go to the Florida show.
Mike Wendland: I think the people in your office would be the first to sign that.
Dean Corrigal: I think they would.
Mike Wendland: Hey Dean, thanks for taking some time and to help us-
Dean Corrigal: Thank you.
Mike Wendland: … understand these new nomads and how it goes, and I look forward to talking to you face-to-face sometime and we'll catch up.
Dean Corrigal: Yes, we're going to do that.
Mike Wendland: Please give our best everybody at Triple E and Leisure Travel Vans.
Dean Corrigal: And to you and your family.
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RV PODCAST OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT – Colonial Beach, VA
You can listen to the RV Podcast in the player below. keep scrolling down this page for complete shownotes, transcripts, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about. The off the beaten path report can be heard about 51:40 in.
BY PATTI & TOM BURKETT
If you get off US Highway 17 in Port Royal, Virginia, cross the Rappahannock River, and head toward the Potomac, you’ll eventually end up in the town of Colonial Beach. You're traveling on what's called the Northern Neck of Virginia, a peninsula between the Rappahannock and the Potomac.
Shell middens and other archaeological evidence show human habitation here as far back as 500 BC. European settlement dates to the seventeenth century. In the day before long bridges and personal automobiles, ferries brought residents from DC and Maryland here for the summer holidays.
Along the Potomac, here in town, are several little buildings built up on platforms. They look a bit like fire watchtowers, though not as high. It turns out they're part of why the town continued when the ferry service petered out. Just north on the neck is Dahlgren Naval Base. It is the center for development and testing of naval artillery. When the base was being established, the need to draw and keep skilled workers in the area caused the Navy to establish schools, churches, and businesses here. Eventually, the town grew up and became self-sustaining.
Here's the interesting thing about that. The Navy, to this day, maintains an ordnance testing range along twenty miles of the Potomac River, including the stretch that runs beside the town. The elevated buildings are ranging stations, used to test and establish guidance for naval artillery.
Every new and existing ballistic Naval weapon is tested and ranged in here. All along the river are sensors and cameras used to observe the tests. When firing is underway, shock and sound waves travel all up and down the river on both the Virginia and Maryland sides.
In the mid-twentieth century, the waterfront was lined with pleasure palaces. Though all but one are gone now, they existed because of another unique feature of the area. The entirety of the Potomac below the mean low tide mark on the Virginia side belongs to Maryland. Maryland, unlike Virginia, allows gambling.
These buildings, set on pilings over Maryland water, allow local residents and visiting tourists to bet on horse races, play the slots, and engage in otherwise prohibited entertainments.
The town has a waterfront area lined with businesses and, in the summer season, itinerant vendors. Among the permanent establishments are Willey's barbecue, an excellent Thai restaurant, a microbrewery, and art galleries. Kayak and paddleboard rentals are available. There's a nice, long municipal pier good for fishing and photographing the waterfront, art galleries, ice cream shops, and the second-longest sand beach in Virginia.
A walk or drive around the town rewards the observant visitor with a wide variety of seaside architecture. Old, low-slung beach cottages along the waterfront mix with much fancier homes built by notables from times past. Perhaps the most interesting and beautiful of these is the summer home purchased by Alexander Graham Bell's father in 1886.
There are other period homes along the roads, as well as the homes of year-round residents both classic and modern. Several marinas dot the long waterfront and are home to impressive sailboats and yachts, as well as charter fishing boats and the working vessels of trawlers, shrimpers, oyster harvesters, and the legendary crab fleet.
One of our favorites is the Riverview Inn, a sumptuous art deco motel with a classic neon sign, green-lit balconies, and a courtyard with painted lounging chairs right out of the fifties. Just down the street is another classic, Doc's Motor Court, apparently closed and just waiting for the right hand to bring it back to its glory days as well.
Word is that the town is pretty crowded in season, but come calling in the Fall when the leaves are changing and you can have it mostly to yourself, your own nostalgic Chesapeake resort, out here off the beaten path.
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