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4/15/12, 7:50 AM:  You can now subscribe directly to this blog to get immediate notification of new posts!

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2 thoughts on “Subscribe/Unsubscribe

  1. Loved your 94 page E-book. Have a question if anyone has time can let me know please. Am searching now for a used mini-van but I am nervous when there is not much room from the front seats to the front bumper of the vehicle. Do any of the mini-vans have more space there than others so I will not feel like there is not much between me and an on-coming car? Thanks for any advice. Maybe a passenger seat that goes far back from the dash so I will feel more comfortable. I looked at a picture of the chrylser town & country mentioned in the e-book and it does not look like much hood. What I am looking for is a bigger hood space I guess. Thanks for any input.

    • Hi Doris,

      Thank you for the great question! Most minivans do have rather short hoods, but on the other hand, they have far better protection built in than some of those that have the engine in the back, like the older VW’s. Unfortunately, when you get into things that have longer hoods, it usually means going to a larger body, larger engine, and far less gas mileage. Larger vans, like the Nissan NV offer a longer hood, but are basically a van body on the same front end as their large pick-up trucks. They also offer a V-8 engine and more towing ability, but not everyone wants or needs that stuff, especially at the cost of less fuel efficiency. To my knowledge there are no minivans with long hoods, but that has little to do with safety. The newer vehicles with short hoods have a much better safety factor than older vehicles with long hoods, simple because of advancements in computer aided design, and better testing in crash tests. They are much safer than you think.

      Older and larger vehicles are also much more rigid, so when you hit something (or vice versa) they don’t crumple as easy to absorb the impact. You can easily get thrown through the windshield, even though the front of the vehicle may not look like it’s damaged very much. The newer vehicles are designed so that the front end will crumple to absorb the impact and lessen the “sudden stop” factor for the driver and passengers. In other words, as the front end collapses, the passengers receive a cushioning effect that actually saves their lives. That, coupled with proper seat belt use and air bags, makes them MUCH safer than many larger vehicles.

      Think of it this way… would you rather run at full speed into a solid brick wall or one with a mattress covering it? The difference in stopping distance may only be 6-inches (or less) but the effect on the body is nearly exponential!

      Another option besides a minivan is a pick-up truck with a cap. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about the gas mileage of the newer Ford F-150 trucks getting up to 24 MPG on the highway, which rivals that of most minivans. If you stick with a supercab (rather than the quad cab), you can still get an 8-foot bed, which is the same length a minivan has. Get a nice cap for the truck, and it will already come with windows and screens, and maybe even curtains, so that takes care of one drawback of the minivan. Interior height and width would be about the same with a straight cap, or you can get one that is extra high at the back end, to allow more headroom. You even have the option of getting a truck with 4-wheel drive. There are a lot of possibilities in what to use for a camping vehicle, without getting to some fancy pre-built conversion that costs more then the vehicle itself!

      However, if you still can’t get beyond that “short hood” syndrome, then maybe you should look into towable options that will let you choose what vehicle you want to use to tow a small trailer. There is a brand new online magazine that just released its first issue today, and you can find it at CoolTears.com. We already have a Harbor Freight 4 x 8 trailer, so I am seriously considering building my own tear drop trailer to use in conjunction with our minivan, and there are a lot of reasons for that.

      (1) Having a second vehicle is great for reserving camp sites when you have to leave to go somewhere. It has happened to us already where our site was taken after leaving for a supply run or to go out to eat. By being able to drop a trailer there and secure it, no one will take your spot while you’re gone!

      (2) It offers extra carrying ability, whether it be for bikes, or some other need, and you have the option of using either the trailer OR the tow vehicle for that extra storage.

      (3) It offers extra sleeping room. If you have a partner who snores, for instance, it can give each their own separate sleeping area. Also, when we have been on trips over the holidays, it has been customary that my wife’s sister will fly in to spend a few days with us. In the motorhome it was no problem, but a minivan would be, so having the extra trailer provides “guest quarters” for relatives, kids, travel companions, or whatever you need it for. Also, it is much easier to provide some utilitarian comforts, such as air conditioning and heating, or simply a vent for fresh air, with a trailer than with a minivan.

      (4) Although you lose any stealth ability, you also don’t have the issues with curtains and/or other window coverings with a trailer, like you do with a minivan.

      (5) When you think about it, the design difference is not that great between a tear drop trailer and a minivan. You have approximately the same amount of room in either one, you can’t stand up in either one, but yet they both offer the same amount of comfort and safety, and amenities. Many tear drop trailers weigh less than 1500 pounds, and are easily towable with small 4-cylinder vehicles.

      (6) A trailer doesn’t depreciate like a driveable vehicle does, nor do they reflect the mileage they have traveled, so ten years down the road it will be worth nearly as much as you paid for it. If you can build your own, that’s better yet! Manufactured trailers may have a used price point set by NADA books, whereas home-builts will not.

      (7) You can choose more easily what you want to drive, including opting for something with 4-wheel drive, and the size or configuration will have little to do with your camping ability. Your driveable vehicle can even be your “overflow” vehicle for extra storage, without cramping your comfort.

      I could go on and on, but there are many advantages to towing a small light weight trailer in addition to a minivan, SUV or some other vehicle. But there are some disadvantages, also (backing up with them, extra length for parking and turning, stopping ability, etc.). Every person’s needs are different, and you have to look at all the options available to you.

      The good thing is that the basic concepts in my free 94-page ebook (soon to go to a paid version) are designed to give everyone a complete understanding of camping and RV’ing, from the electrical aspects to the safety aspects, and the principles apply to however you camp, whether it be by car, minivan, full-size van, pick-up cap, truck camper, travel trailer, fifth wheel, or even larger trucks and RV’s. There’s something there that everyone can use.

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