Archive for RVing

Bourbon, Beale and Broadway: A J&J Guide to the Americana Music Triangle, Part 1

When we decided to go south for our month long road trip last September, we didn’t have much of a plan. Unlike our Route 66 trip in 2014, we weren’t focused on a single direction but we definitely wanted to experience more of the good time nostalgia still alive and well in small-town America. We also agreed upon a few “must see” destinations, all of which revolved around music.

The first of those destinations was New Orleans, Louisiana. When I was younger, The Big Easy was at the top of my travel bucket list, second only to Las Vegas. Thirteen years and three trips to Vegas later, NOLA was just itching to be crossed off. There is no place quite like New Orleans during Mardi Gras but we knew that the inherent mayhem would not allow us to explore the city at our own pace. We were looking forward to a leisurely visit during the Carnival off-season.

We landed on Bourbon Street on a not so Fat Tuesday but it didn’t take us long to become completely immersed in the unique culture that can only be found in the French Quarter. From street performers to masked partiers, New Orleans was everything we expected and more! After a couple of NOLA’s famous Hand Grenades and filling our backpack full of beads, there was no cooler place to be. So many things were going on but the one constant was the sound of blaring horns and raspy voices emanating from nearly every curbside bar and restaurant. We didn’t know it yet, but we were about to begin a journey into the heart of America, a trip back in time to when music had the power to transform entire cultures. We had just entered the Americana Music Triangle.

Americana Music Triangle

New Orleans is universally considered the birthplace of jazz music. Its humble roots inspired countless different musical styles and artists, several of whom were native Louisianians. Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Jelly Roll Morton and Louie Prima began their careers in the darkened clubs of New Orleans and contributed to a major cultural shift, which included the rise of mainstream radio and the first notable youth rebellion in the United States. During the 1920’s, jazz culture permeated everything from fashion to literature and served as a bridge to unite black and white Americans.

Today, there are proud reminders of the city’s musical roots everywhere. From Louis Armstrong Park to New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park (where we were treated to a delightful rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” by the resident Park Ranger band) visitors from all over can discover the rich history of the Jazz Age. Even if you’re not a jazz fan, New Orleans must visit destination!

Come back next week for Part 2 of our Triple B experience and check out our Bourbon Street and NHP posts to read more about our time in New Orleans!


10 Pre-trip Operational Checks for your RV

This is another article we published on some months back. We thought we’d share it again here for our readers who could use a guide before hitting the road on their next new RV adventure. Enjoy!

No matter how much you prepare your RV for a road trip, there always seems to be at least one thing, often something obvious, that is overlooked. The following are 10 essential pre-trip checks to keep you on the road!

10. Turn on the refrigerator at least 24 hours prior to your departure. This will allow plenty of time for cooling and help you detect any issues.

9. Make sure that the gray and black water tanks have been emptied and the appropriate chemicals have been added. The less waste in the tanks the lighter your rig will be, however, leaving, at least, ¼ of a tank of water will help the chemicals dissolve.

8. Flip your switches! Switches for your tanks, water pump, propane, and appliances should all be in working order. Broken switches can be replaced cheaply and easily.  CompleteChecklist

7. Fire up your generator, even if you won’t be using it. Let it run for at least 15 minutes and check for oil or gas leaks. If your generator has an altitude adjustment, make sure that it is set appropriately.

6. Top off your propane tanks. Keeping your tanks full (no more than 80%) will prevent interruptions to your heat, hot water or stove. Although many campgrounds offer propane services, it may be difficult to find convenient fill-up stations while boondocking.

5. Fill your fresh water tank ¼ to ½ full if you intend on using any water while en route to your destination. Visually inspect your toilet, shower and faucets to ensure they are functioning properly and there aren’t any leaks.

4. Test all external lights to confirm they’re working. Check all inside lights and make sure you have extra bulbs and fuses on hand. Some bulbs may be unique and tough to find at a regular department store.

3. Check your engine and generator fluids. Making sure that your oil, transmission, brake, radiator and other fluids are topped off and/or changed as needed before you leave will minimize surprises down the road.

2. Inspect your tires!! Each tire should be in good condition, with proper inflation and no noticeable damage. Your tires are carrying the weight of your rig, gear, tanks, and passengers so regular maintenance is essential to help reduce blowouts or other damage while on the road. If your RV has been in storage or in the same position for an extended period, you may experience damage to the tires’ chemical makeup. Additionally, prolonged exposure to the elements will reduce UV protection, which can cause cracking and dry rot.

1. Know where you’re going. We’ve got three letters for you: G P S! If you don’t have one, have your atlas, maps and directions handy. Research height and weight restrictions as best you can before you leave. Otherwise, you could end up with a boat or a convertible!

The most important part of any trip is to HAVE FUN! By being prepared, you’ll always be on the way to your next destination.

See you on the road!


Boondocking Safety Tips

Hello J&J readers,

We originally posted this article on a while back and we wanted to share it again on our blog. We hope you find it helpful!

Staying safe and secure while dry camping (boondocking) is easy if you maintain situational awareness, Situational awareness is simply being conscious of who and what is around you and remaining alert in order to make quick and correct decisions.

Boondocking in New Jersey

Boondocking in NJ

An easy way to keep your RV secure is to always park where there is plenty of light. This will deter anyone who may be searching for an easy target. A perpetrator is more apt to be seen if you are in a well-lit area and you are more likely to notice someone’s shadow as they approach your rig.

You should always keep your doors locked when parked and make sure to look before you exit. Check outside your windows on all sides and always exit with another person, if possible. It’s also a good idea to keep a light on inside while sleeping or if you have to leave your RV for an extended period of time. If someone comes upon your rig, having a light on will make it more difficult for them to determine if there is someone inside.

If you need to go inside a store or truck stop at night, we recommend as little socializing as possible. Some people may be genuinely friendly but those intent on causing harm have ways to get information out of you by initiating random conversation. If you do speak to strangers, be cautious of what you say and don’t disclose personal details about yourself or your destination. For example, you shouldn’t tell a stranger that you are traveling alone or broadcast what you have in your RV. Additionally, don’t flash a lot of cash around. Select a secure spot for cash and important papers and leave them there. Carry only what you need and always get a receipt for purchases. Provide as little temptation as possible.

Concerning firearms, you should research the laws for each state that you will be traveling in to determine if they recognize your firearms permit. Every state has its own laws and permitting process. There may be federal transport laws that would allow you to transport the firearm but it would likely need to be locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition. There are serious consequences for violating interstate firearms laws so take the time to research!

Another option to consider is a pellet or BB gun. Most states require that an individual is 18 or older to purchase a pellet or BB gun and anyone younger would need to be under adult supervision. The more well-made models are indistinguishable from a real firearm and could act as a distraction long enough for you to get to safety. Again, check the laws for each state that you will be traveling in.

Other weapons you can carry on your person or in your rig include pocket knives, mace (check the laws for each state), a stun gun (check the laws for each state), or a good old-fashioned club. Many truck stops sell “tire thumpers” that are designed to check tire pressure on big rigs but double as a solid self-defense club.

Although it’s impossible to foresee everything that may occur while you’re on the road, following these tips can help you can avoid many unpleasant experiences. Preparedness is the key to travel safety!

Be safe and have fun! J&J

Photo of the Week – Skyline Drive

One of the many scenic views from Skyline Drive
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

View from Skyline Drive in Shenandoah Valley

Photo of the Week – Route 66, Oaklahoma

Leaning oak trees along Route 66 in Oklahoma

Leaning trees Route 66 in Oklahoma