My name is Rick Kessler and I’m excited to bring a little bit of my Gr8LakesCamper blog to General RV! Each week, I’ll be sharing stories about RVing and camping, including information and insights on destinations and tips and hints on getting there and back. I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but at times I will pretend to be funny. (That was the first attempt, by the way.)
A little bit about my Gr8LakesCamper blog:
Its unofficial motto is it
“celebrates the world of RV camping in the Great Lakes region. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations.”
I use the Gr8LakesCamper blog to tell stories and pass along information. The stories are personal camping experiences that you might enjoy, always paying close attention to the conditions of the campground. And the information I pass along typically is things I come across in my day job that RVers might find useful.
I have been writing the Gr8LakesCamper blog since May 7, 2010. Since then, I have had more than 1,600 posts and nearly 475,000 page views. That, and 99 cents will get you a cheeseburger at McDonald’s.
A little bit about me:
I’m the managing editor for Heritage Media, a chain of 11 newspapers in southeast Michigan, including The News-Herald in Downriver, Dearborn Press & Guide, and six in Washtenaw County alone. It’s a grind and lot of stress, especially given the well-documented struggles of the newspaper industry.
That’s my day job. On the weekends I go camping.
My wife, Angie, and our kids, Hannah, Luke and Ben, have been RVers since 2007. We were tent campers prior to that, but only just a few times. The last time we went tent camping is when we woke up sore, cold and wet and promised to never again go camping unless we were in an RV — an experience shared by many RVers, I bet!
Although we only have been RVers since 2007, several members of my extended family are RVers from way back. My grandparents traveled most of North America in their motorhomes since before I was born, and several sets of aunts and uncles travel in 5th wheels, travel trailers, hybrids and pop-ups. Some even break out a tent every now and then!
A little bit about our RV:
Our camper is a new-to-us 2000 Trail Lite Bantam Hybrid C-21B we bought in 2007 from General RV. One of the reasons we bought it was because our tow vehicle at the time was a 2002 Pontiac Montana minivan. It came with a factory-equipped tow package, but even then its maximum tow capacity was 3,500 pounds (which includes four adults).
We assumed we were destined for a pop-up camper until the Bantam came along. The dry weight is 2,700 pounds, but me being skeptical I think the actual dry weight is closer to 3,000. That left us with 500 pounds to spare — not much. I’m sure we were pushing the limits.
We upgraded our tow vehicle in 2009 to a 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer LT EXT. With its extended wheelbase, 5.3 liter V-8 engine, locking rear differential and the 3.72 rear axle ratio, the Trailblazer doubled our tow capacity to 7,000 pounds. Pulling the camper is now an absolute dream.
Our setup also includes the Equal-i-zer sway control— something I am completely satisfied with and would highly recommend. Our first brake controller was a Prodigy, but we have since gone to a POD — no complaints.
We live in southeast Michigan, which means our camping season is confined to seasonal jurisdictions. On top of that, our kids are all active in sports and other activities so our spring opportunities are somewhat limited as well. Still, we manage to camp a couple of times a month from June through September, plus at least one week-long trip.
We consider our RV our cottage. We like that we can take our cottage most anywhere, and we enjoy discovering new campgrounds in distant locations and all the area has to offer. My favorite thing about camping is sitting around the campfire, doing nothing more than relaxing and laughing with family and friends.
Although I post every day on my Gr8LakesCamper blog, I’ll be contributing a post once a week to General RV. The way I see it, it’s another place to enjoy a conversation about camping: where to go, where to stay and how best to enjoy the trip.