"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Rochester's Dome Arena RV SuperShow brings a hint of Spring to the Camping World - Free Admission!

by Jim Bessey, editor

PRESS RELEASE: 15th Annual Dome RV SuperShow runs Saturday, Jan 21 to Sun, Jan 30 -- two full weekends of camping fun!

15th Annual Dome RV Show
Some say that Spring is just around the corner, and the show to prove it is just down the road in Henrietta, NY. The Outdoor Store by Camping World hosts the big event, held in the renovated Dome Arena. Admission and parking are both free. There are plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and accommodations nearby for those who want to make it an all-day event.

About 200 new and used RVs will be on display, and available with deep pre-season discounts. Several area dealers will be represented. Low-rate financing is featured, and dealers claim they'll take "almost anything" in trade -- motorcycles, boats, cars, even used RVs! When we visited on Saturday, we saw quite a few deals in progress; always a good sign.

You'll see the complete range of campers, from Class-A motorhomes and fifth-wheels in the big dome to the newest innovations in pop-up and trailer technology in Minett Hall. Starcraft is promoting a couple-sized travel trailer for under $10K, or less than $90 a month (long-term financing). You can also register to win this model. The Thor brand shows a 23' 2011 Class-C Four Winds camper for about $50K, an often-difficult price-point to find in new RVs of that type. Outside in the cold, rows and rows of used rigs of all types await you.

Come for a leisurely stroll, or an intensive buying excursion. Bring your camera and/or your checkbook. The RV industry is cautiously recovering from the disastrous Great Recession (it ain't over yet), and there will be big bargains. Haggling welcomed, even encouraged. Refreshments available on-site.

For directions and lists of nearby accommodations, see the Dome's website.  Hours are Mon-Sat 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday 10 to 5 pm. On-site parking is much improved from previous years, and there's a nifty new Wegman's supermarket right next door, too.

  2695 E. Henrietta Road
  Henrietta, NY  14467

Hope to see you there!
We stopped over midday Saturday, and took some pictures to share later. The Dome's just down the road from home, and is also the site for WBEE's twice-yearly Guitars and Stars Shows, which we love. We aren't in the market this year, but we sure do love to look at all the shiny new RVs. Nice that admission is free, too. It's cold and snowy here in Rochester, but nice and toasty inside the Dome. Great show!

Better Camping requests for 2011: 10 improvements campers need for the New Year

by Jim Bessey, editor

camping is better with enough air!
Good thing this air mattress is...   from keith011764
Raymond Alexander Kukkee and I agree -- "we like camping better." But camping isn't perfect; some things could be better. The New Year is here, it's 2011; time to consider improvements we'd like to see for a better camping experience.

Big Stuff:
  1. Low-price Late Check-out fees ~ Why should your final day at a campground be spent frantically packing? For weekend campers, this means Sunday morning is not for relaxing, but for breaking camp. If there isn't anyone coming in to take your site that day, why not a simple $5 late check-out fee? Hell, even $10 would be fine. Just let us relax a little before we head home.
  2. Kinder, gentler pool-use policies ~ Yeah, yeah; we know it's all about the Insurance Companies. We get it. But "Two adults must be present, not IN the pool, for any swimming"? When my son and I camped during the week last year, this meant that we had to FIND HELP in order for either one of us to take a dip. There has to be a better way.
  3. Much better use of photography for campgrounds ~ Let's face it: most campground websites' photo galleries just plain stink. Why don't you guys take some new pictures? Why aren't there decent aerial views of most campgrounds? What happened to the promise of hi-tech "virtual tours" for travel destinations? Maybe some of the big-budget RV parks are doing it, but I haven't seen any progress here in upstate NY yet. We want to know what we're getting into before we get there, okay?
  4. Better miniature golf course maintenance ~ Our gang always plays mini-golf when we go camping. It's one of our things. Even at the nicest campgrounds, those little golf courses are generally crummy. Why? They made the space, put some money into it in the beginning, and then walked away? I know they aren't huge money-makers for campgrounds, but it matters to us. If the windmill is supposed to turn, it should, dammit! And how about some fresh "turf" every few years? Is that too much to ask?
  5. More patio pull-thru sites for big rigs ~ What a great idea: Add a simple concrete or paver pad next to the pull-thru driveway for Class-A motorhomes. Maybe a nice picnic grill, too. I've seen this here and there. Most places insist on "no carpets" and fight with campers about infractions all the time. This nice, thoughtful improvement makes the campground look good and solves the dead-grass issue perfectly.
Little stuff:
  1. Reasonable prices for firewood on-site ~ We're a captive audience, and most parks have those annoying signs urging us not to bring in "contaminated" firewood from outside the area. They don't want us to burn construction debris, either (not that I pay any attention -- I save all sorts of lovely hardwood and softwood cut-offs all year long for burning). So, if they want us to buy their firewood, keep the price down. They'll sell more firewood, and their customers will appreciate the courtesy.
  2. Dependable Wi-Fi ~ How many times have you lost the signal when you access the Web while camping? If a campground is going to offer internet service, then make it good. Buy a decent router and install a strong repeater system. Campers will talk about the great signal strength among their friends. It's just plain good for business.
  3. Good, hot, drinkable coffee at camp stores ~ Why is campground coffee so bad? Is there a secret rule somewhere? Clean the pot. Buy some decent coffee. Use a coffee service, even. We campers love our coffee, and we don't suffer bad coffee quietly. Pretty please?
  4. Simple, easy, quiet air mattress inflation ~ There must be a way. I'm serious. Are you listening out there, Inventive Geniuses? Those annoying, whiny, slooow DC-powered mattress pumps are so old-tech. There must be something out there similar to the way a life-raft inflates, something affordable that would fill up a queen-size bed in 20 seconds. I'd buy it!
  5. Improved tent-flap zippers ~ Needs no explanation. We've all been there.
So that's my list, large and small. Some pet peeves, and some wishful thinking. I'm not asking for cleaner restrooms, or actual hot water in the showers, or big discounts for repeat customers. Just some give and take to make our collective camping experience better for 2011. I don't think I'm being unreasonable, do you?
What are your ideas for Better Camping? What drives you crazy when you're camping? What nifty invention would make your next camp outing cooler? If you're a campground owner, I'd especially love to hear from you. Happy New Year!