I’ve had the pleasure of traveling up and down the Oregon Coast a few times now, I do really love it and highly recommend taking the time if you are able…Here are a few observations or tips I acquired while traveling on the wonderful coastal 101.
PICK A DIRECTION IF YOU NEED - I feel the North and South are vastly different!….The North is more touristy town, good for shopping and eating, nice beaches to bring a chair and hang out all day….The South is more rugged beaches, smaller towns with not a lot going on and more scenery and parks…Both are fun, but if you don’t have time to do the entire coast, this might help decide.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DEALS / MEMBERSHIPS / PASSES - The coast can be expensive, the restaurants, supermarkets and campgrounds are all pricey so be sure to take advantage, here are a few examples:
Oregon State Parks Pass - if you don't camp at state parks but like to see the beaches and hike a parks pass is a must so you are not paying at every turnoff or hike you want to take.
Senior National Parks Pass - There are no National Parks along the coast but if you have the Senior Pass you get half off Federal campgrounds. ** If you have a standard National Parks Pass you get free access to any Federal fee locations for hiking ect.
Casino Camping - there are a few along the coast, they are not totally free always, but still a great deal…plus you can usually get a cheap (and pretty good) meal at one as well….not to mention free coffee.
SEA FOOD, EAT FOOD - Anytime you are on a coast you must take advantage of the awesome fresh seafood the coast provides, does not always need to be at a pricy restaurants, do your homework and find the little local spots with great eats. And pass along your knowledge, I ate wonderful fish and chips at a place called The Crazy Norwegians Fish and Chips in Port Orford because a friend recommended it….and this leads to my next point...
ASK FRIENDS AND SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HELP - The 101 is popular and well traveled, and there is SO much to see and explore. Ask your friends of places to stop and check out, ask questions over Facebook, Facebook Groups and Instagram to help plan and make the best adventure you possibly can. Plus you can search Instagram at your location and get insight of cool places to explore.
PORTS - For those who travel simply and might not always have a shower opportunity every morning, cities which have ports will have showers to use…..bring quarters!!
TAKE YOUR TIME - Sometimes easier said than done, but if you have the chance don't rush your experience, take things in, get to know the communities and be in the moment!
GET OFF THE BEATEN PATH - This does not mean go wonder into the abyss but some people tend NOT to get off the 101….there is a lot to see that right off the 101…..a few of my favorites:
Pacific City - The 101 does not go through this small ocean town….the beach is beautiful and you can have a beer while your feet are in the sand at The Pelican Brewery.
Manzanita - Another small town off the 101….South of Canon Beach, Manzanita makes for a nice stop to check out the beach and grab a coffee
Cape Blanco State Park - I just love the Port Orford area, some of the best coastal views in my mind, about 5 miles off the 101 Cape Blanco offers amazing ocean views, beach, hiking and a lighthouse.
My last post I wrote about my 5 favorite items to travel with…Now I move to phone apps!
There are thousands of apps out there, my phone is full of them! But the truth is I really only use a few…. same goes for travel apps…I have quite a few on my phone but when it comes down to it I only use a few…
**You can find all these apps though your app store on your smart phone
Google Maps - I use Google Maps for twp important tasks, searching for places (campgrounds, grocery stores etc.) and as my GPS….
SEARCHING - I love the simple fact of searching for a grocery store for example, finding the closest, seeing my ETA, get reviews and directions…And if I’m concerned about parking I can take a 360 degree look of the area….all in one app
GPS - I usually always have Google telling me where to go…even when I pretty much know, its nice to have a heads up when my turn is coming when driving a big camper….BUT I have to say Google takes me down roads from time to time my camper has no business going down…and sometimes the directions are just off, or slow/behind….I would be open to finding a GPS that would warn me about rough, narrow roads etc…..any out there??
Spotify - My last post I mentioned bluetooth speakers, the Spotify app is what powers my music….I can listen to pretty much anything, they also have a radio function and playlist I can save to my phone for when I'm off grid…they also have podcasts as well.
Yelp - I was not a big Yelp user before I started traveling, But I love it now! I will still use Google to find places, but after that I will search that place via Yelp to see if they have outdoor seating and is dog friendly….Having a doggy, that's a must!
Weather App - I don't get fancy here, still lean on the side of “Don’t know the weather, look outside” BUT I will glance at the app for planning out future activities and travel. Anyone have a favorite weather app?
Untappd - Being a beer lover and enjoying visiting breweries along the way this app is great! If I go to a city or town with multiple breweries the app is great to help decide which one to visit…usually has to do with their beer list. Then you can also keep a record of all the breweries you have visited, give “stars” to the beers, include photos and notes….can also be friends with others like Facebook…I don't use that part of it but if anyone wants to be beer friends find me at Travelingdesigner.
Harvest Host - There are a bunch of camping / campground apps out there…too many for me, hence the fact I just use Google Maps, But I do love Harvest Host, and being a member I do use the app. If you have not heard of Harvest Host, you get to camp for FREE (but they ask you to buy something) at wineries, farms and other super cool places!! BTW….The price is going up starting Jan. 1, so get signed up…Best $45 you can spend.
All Trails - Cool app for find trails near you. The app divides trails into their difficulty, has maps, trail descriptions, user photos and reviews.
Please share if you have any apps that you use a lot while traveling. I just traveled with some friends and leaned of a few new ones I might try....so this list might change....stay tuned
Being an RVer we all travel in different ways, have different rigs and like to do things in different ways. I think we can all agree that we all have items that make our lives better, easier or we just take pleasure in as we travel.
Here are my top 5 must have travel items:
1. WiBoost - I work as I travel, and I do like to get off the beaten path and camp in places where cell coverage is not great…My Booster is wonderful….The booster usually boosts my signal 2 bars or so….Don’t leave home without it!
2. DC to AC Power Inverter (plugs into lighter) - I do have solar, but a inverter like this is great to power up phone, jetpack and smaller devices…and if I'm in a place with clouds and rain I can plug on computer and charge if I'm lacking sun.
4. Computer / Phone - Most of us are controlled by our devices, right?…No different being on the road…My phone is my camera, GPS, hot spot sometimes, music and entertainment…I use my computer not only to work but stream movies and sports
Taken from eco gear's Instrgram Page
5.Bluetooth Speaker - I love music…my old rig had terrible speakers and a good Bluetooth Speaker with great sound quality is a must. I use it inside and I can take it outside at my campsite.
We at Tough Tops do our best to address questions we get from our wonderful customers to make everyone’s user experience with us the best it can possibly be. One question we get often is also one that is sorta tough to answer: “What is the difference in color between our off-white, champagne and sand colors on our 15oz. fabric?”
First off we have stated that our colors do NOT match A&E Dometic or Carefree of Colorado! The Tough Top colors of off-white, champagne and sand are not far off from each other, but they do have different color shades and this can be important when trying to choose the right color for your needs. On our website we do have color swatches and we also overlay those colors over an awning to give you an IDEA of what the color may look like on your rig.
The Tough Top Awnings website showing colors
We sell 95% of our awnings through our website and this means most of you are seeing the awning colors though the eyes of your computer. And for those who have computer knowledge know that computers show you color differently depending on the room light and glare... BUT more importantly by the color calibration of your computer monitor. We put this to the test one day at our offices and saw that the color swatches on the website slightly varied from the three computers we had in the office.
SO, WHAT TO DO? To be honest, the computer calibration has not been a big issue but wanted to bring it to everyone’s attention….most folks just want to see the differences in the shades between the three….So below are the three colors next to each other for comparison. If you still are not sure, the next step would be to contact us and we can send you a fabric color sample so you can see the color in person to make the right choice.
If anyone has any questions or comments or suggestions about our colors feel free to contact us….We would love to hear from you.
To learn about all our products and see complete product list, clickHERE
*** If you are concerned or interested in the calibrating of your computer screen….First off I would go to a website you know and have a good understanding of the colors….for example, if you shop at Target, go get a Target bag or newspaper ad and compare the red color of the logo with what’s on your screen…if it’s off you know your screen needs calibrating….here is a link to help you out.
We have said many times how much we love the RV industry and feel honored to be part of it, we love meeting all the wonderful RVers and enjoy helping each one of you find the replacement RV awning for your RV or trailer!
We have been in business for over 12 years now, and we have added many new products over the years. If you are a new RVer, or an experienced one we still get questions about what kind of RV awning you need. Below is a list of the entire Tough Top Awning product line with a description of each product to help you decide what awning is best for you.
As always if you have any questions you can email us or give us a call.
SLIDE OUT TOPPER REPLACEMENT FABRIC RV Awning. A fabric that attaches to the coach or a guard to a roller tube that covers a slide out (bump out) room that extends from a coaches side. GO TO PRODUCT PAGE
Patio RV Awning. Either an electric or manually operated awning that comes out over the passenger side of a coach or trailer that extends approximately 8 feet over the main entry door. GO TO PRODUCT PAGE
Omega RV Awning. A discontinued product made by Carefree of Colorado. This slide out topper also, doubled as a window shade to pull down and secure to the side of a slide out to act as a slide topper and window shade. GO TO PRODUCT PAGE: WITH VALANCE WITHOUT VALANCE
Privacy Panel. (RV Awning extension.) A fabric that attaches to the bottom channel of a roller tube to extend your main pull-down patio awning space or provide shade and privacy. GO TO PRODUCT PAGE
RV Awning Accessories
Soft Connect (Made by Tough Tops). A 4.5 inch or 5.5" strip of fabric used to attach a Carefree of Colorado main electric patio awning with an Aluma Guard to the coach. This thin fabric would run the top edge of the guard the entire length the guard. GO TO ACCESSORY PAGE
Anti-Bellowing Device. A small kick stand looking leg that mounts on an A&E Dometic slide topper's end cap. Positioned at 1pm on the driver side and 11am on the passenger side with the room in, it would prevent the fabric from unraveling when in transit. GO TO ACCESSORY PAGE
Pull Straps (Made by Tough Tops). A thin strap that mounts to the underside of the roller tube on a A&E Deometic or a Carefree of Colorado manual pull down patio awning. GO TO ACCESSORY PAGE
Straight Pick. A short stainless steel handled pick. Used to secure a roller tube on an A&E slide out topper or an A&E Electric Main Patio Awning. For the purpose of securing the spring for fabric replacement. GO TO ACCESSORY PAGE
Deflapper. A device that sandwiches the fabric on a main pull down patio awning. To stop the fabric from slapping in the wind. This device secures to the structure legs. GO TO ACCESSORY PAGE
Fuel filter Vise Grips. A specialized round gripping pair of vise grips designed to grab round items and lock them securely in place. This is a very useful tool for securing roller tubes on Carefree of Colorado Slide Toppers. GO TO ACCESSORY PAGE
Silicon. A type of spray lubricant that has been used by professional awning installers to ease the entry of new fabric into old channels. Our CRC brand is good fit for installation as it doesn't leave behind a residue. GO TO ACCESSORY PAGE
We also have some installation kits available....Please visit our full Accessory Page HERE
Until now I have avoided customers that would say the name Girard, when it came to slide out toppers. Basically, it was a small tool that I have never seen and the only way to get one is to either buy a fabric from Girard and get a free one or make your own.
Since I’m not in the business of buying someone else’s fabric I opted for make my own. It’s not too bad and since I am in the business of helping customers save money here is the how to make your own tool and replace a Girard Slide topper.
Start with a hand-held grinder with a metal cutting blade, a pair of glasses, (Safety First) and one 3/8” socket driver. Also, some good gloves to save on the cost of band aids.
Securing your socket driver on the edge of a work bench and start cutting in the tip straight up and down. You will need to cut down to past the secure spring ball on the end of the driver.
Now you are ready and the tool goes into this small hole in the center.
Now with your new de tensioning tool and socket driver in place to hold the spring tension. Remove the 2 screws below. This is where the spring tension will need to be released, by letting the unit unwind with the socket.
Now with the tension out of the spring. Remove the 4 screws that secure the end cap. 3 on the outside and one on the bottom.
Now you are ready to remove the roller tube and the fabrics by sliding the roller tube out of the cradle.
The fabric on the flexible guard on the end of the slide can be secured with a screw underneath or the guard could be crimped causing it not to slide out. You will have to use a flat blade screw drive to un crimp it.
After removing the old fabric and installing the new fabric. It is ready to put it back together.
After sliding the tube and the fabric in the guard at the same time. Secure the side of the roller tube without the spring in the center hole.
Now secure your end cap on the side with the spring with the 4 screws.
Now you are ready to reload your spring tension with your new de tensioning tool. Take it 13 full rotations and while holding the tension. Re install your tension screws.
Replace the decorative end caps and enjoy your new water proof fabric from Tough Top Awnings.
Now that was easy, right? : )
If anyone has questions or comments, please let me know..... And pass this along to folks who might need it.
CLICK HERE (coming still) to view photo gallery of the Girard install we just did
We are all on the road for different reasons, some of us are on vacation, some retired, some working still….and with that we all have different budgets, BUT the one thing we all have in common is the need to find places to lay our heads at night!
I fall in the “still working” category and I’m on a budget for sure. When I first hit the road I looked at my rent and figured out what I pay per day to live in my apartment in Boulder, CO and used that as a sorta guideline, my goal was to save money on “rent”, but it’s not cheap to camp these days! Spending most of my time in CA and OR the average price to camp at a State Park is $35….so, thats around $1,050 per month, and if you stay in RV Parks its much more, and over time that can really add up, especially if you travel full time. For me its balance between roughing, finding those cheaper or free places to camp and spending the money for a nice place to camp. I have to admit I find joy when I find free camping or say “my average stay for a week was about $7”!!
When it’s time to find camping here are some of the places online I look at and the process I use….hope some of this you find useful.
I first start by starting a “my maps” map on google. I’ll mark the places to want see and explore. Those usually are State Parks and National Parks, wanting to be close to hikes or other nature related things (camping on the beach ect.) and towns and want to visit.
Then I’ll move onto camp sites…I start by looking for free camping….cheap next, followed by State Parks to RV Parks and add those to “my map” as I find them….I don't stay in many RV Parks, more because I look space and trees, but I gotta fill with water and empty the tanks….and sometimes I just want cable TV to watch game or a nice shower!!
So, where do I find these places? Here are my go to sites
http://www.freecampgrounds.com -Great resource, many of the locations are out there, in the woods and such so plan accordingly. They list free and very cheap options. If you have a van or smaller camper this is especially a great resource….be sure to read the reviews of the posts and ALWAYS do research on the spot….anyone can post and some people post pull off and stuff that’s not safe, or are not really camp “sites” at all….and if you have a big rig, think about using google earth to look at the terrain
http://www.casinocamper.com - Casinos are the best!! Most offer free to cheap places to dry camp from anywhere from 1, 3 to 7 nights….check out each casino’s website as well about rules and regulations…..here are a few of my favorites
Cher-Ae Heights Casino - Trinidad, CA - One of the best views you can find….a 50 yard walk from the parking lot is a cliff overlooking the ocean….Just beautiful, and a quick drive to town and the State Park…$20 for 3 nights
View from Cher-Ae Heights Casino
Quinault Beach Resort and Casino - Ocean Shores, WA - They have a huge parking lot just for RVs thats hidden away, people can put their chairs out to relax…You can hear the ocean from your home and its a 5 minute walk to the beach….$10 on weekends and $5 during the week
Mill Casino - North Bend, OR - Not a huge fan of the town but its close to some awesome State Parks. The Casino is nice, there is a RV Park there but you can dry camp in the lot for $15 a night, use their bathrooms, showers and laundry. You can access free WIFI from outside of the casino and they have some good, cheap food options (as most of them do)
View from coast hike near Mill Casino
I have stayed at casinos for free in Florence, OR, Pendleton, OR, Oroville, CA and Palm Springs…among others
3 .https://harvesthosts.com - $40 a year gets you access to farms, wineries and other cool places….they do ask you to purchase something….but $30 for camping, a bottle of wine and wonderful experience is worth it
Winery in Northern CA....Harvest Host location
4. “Google” Ski Resorts in the area you want to stay - Ski resorts usually offers free to cheap parking in the summer months….I’v stayed at Ski resorts in Taos, Lake Tahoe and Bend
5. ONP Walmart phone app - Phone app that lists the Walmart's and people can comment on their visits, the free camping site lists many Walmart's too….again, do your research as not all Walmart's allow overnight parking
6. Trucker Path phone app - List truck stops, Walmart's and other places to overnight park…good when your in a bind or just need a place to sleep for a few hours
7. http://www.rvparkreviews.com/ - When i google RV Parks and camping this site comes up a lot and provides good info for all kind of camping options
8. “Google” “Fairgrounds” - many fairground have camping options when there is not an event going on. I have stayed at fairgrounds in Eureka, CA, Booneville, CA and Ontario, OR
9. BLM Land - great place to boondock but I have not found a good resource….I usually find these spots by being in the area and talking with other travels. One of the best places I have ever camped is in the Alabama HIlls, which is BLM land and free. There is also a BLM campground nearby for $5 night with drinking water, restroom and I got almost full bars of feel service
Alabama Hills in CA, BLM Land
10. And lastly word of mouth - meeting and chatting with other travels you will learn all kinds of cool stuff
I always make sure I have a Plan A and Plan B, just in case something does not work out
After that I just Google parks in the area I want to go and read the reviews….If i’m going to stay at a RV Park I do want the review to be good…hope they have trees and some space and if I get greedy a hot tub : )
*If anyone can add to the list don't be afraid to comment