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High gas prices not expected to deter Tahoe RVers

Susan Wood
Nevada Appeal News Service

Today’s travelers can get lost in luxury RVing in America – especially at Lake Tahoe where campgrounds are sprucing up their grounds or considering it for the burgeoning market.

Forget high gasoline prices. These open-roaders have money to spend.

“For people who can afford them, fuel may be less of an issue,” AAA spokesman Sean Comey said. He predicts RVers may simply adjust their schedules to accommodate the fuel prices.

South Lake Tahoe Parks Superintendent Steve Weiss estimates 70 percent of the business at the city-run Campground by the Lake comes from RV travelers. Camp Richardson Resort’s upcoming redesign of its grounds may include a beefed-up RV section. The resort hosted an Airstream convention last year. Moreover, the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s travel planning magazine dedicated three pages specifically to RV park listings.

“We get a huge response off that,” said Carol Chaplin, spokeswoman for Aramark’s Zephyr Cove Resort in Nevada. She’s noticed more younger people traveling in RVs.

The resort’s $3.5 million expansion four years ago takes direct aim at these tourists. For the upcoming season, the resort has added 20 bear-proof trash containers, worth $2,000 each.

The 2001 renovation included resurfacing of roads, registration office, more bathrooms and showers. All the RV camp sites have Internet, cable television, electricity, water, sewer and telephone hookups. The upgrade paid off as the post 9/11 travelers relinquished air transport for the ground. And family get togethers became the outing many were seeking.

“We have a lot of family reunions,” said Scott Englehardt, the resort campground manager.

Englehardt said the 93 sites for recreational vehicles remain 30 percent occupied in the winter. It completely fills up from June through August.

“If the sun shines on the weekend, they’re coming, and sometimes they won’t call,” he said.

Herb and Melitta Strandberg of Roseville pulled into Zephyr Cove Resort Saturday.

Their 36-foot RV has all the comforts of home for the retired computer programmers. Now they book a singer they enjoy, Tommy “O” Organiscak of Branson, Mo., in entertainment venues.

They started traveling via RV a few years ago after hauling boats, then a tent trailer, then a travel trailer. They got a $187,000 bargain for their RV.

The Strandbergs enjoy updating their Web site with pictures of their journey.

“Look at this one,” he said of their stay at the Emerald Desert Golf and RV Resort. A photograph shows the RV parked next to a lit Christmas tree in Palm Desert.

They pick campgrounds like Zephyr Cove Resort off Highway 50 between Stateline and Carson City, where wireless technology provides access at every site.

When they feel like cutting loose from the computer, they have DVD, videocassette and TIVO players.

“It’s like having a new house and new view,” Melitta said, playing with the remote controlled awning. When the wind blows more than 17 mph, the awning automatically retreats back into the RV.

Melitta knows her way around the RV, trading off the steering wheel with her husband. “Most women don’t like to drive, but if something happens to him, you got to know how to get home,” she said.