By Michelle Coyne
Tonka trucks or a 10 ton dump truck, it doesn’t matter how old a boy gets, he will always want to play with toys. These days men of all ages (and let’s face it, some women too) have their share of toys. Below are just a few.
An RV is, perhaps, the most luxurious of toys. Wouldn’t it be nice to tour the country in home-like accommodations? If you’re thinking about becoming an “RVer”, then you will be joining the nearly 8 million U.S. households who own at least one RV. Contrary to the belief that RV owners are retirees, you will be surprised to know that the typical RV owner is between 35 to 54 years old. According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, the typical RV owner is 49 years old and married.
“More and more, you see families coming in and buying RV’s,” said Douglas Cordo, sales manager at Boat-N-RV warehouse in Albany.
RV is short for Recreational Vehicle, which is a generic term for any pleasure vehicle that contains living accommodations. The larger the vehicle, the more comfort it can provide. The amount of occupants you’ll be traveling with and the amount of space you’ll need are important factors to bear in mind when it comes time to purchasing one. There are many types of RV’s and even more models for each type. Here’s a breakdown:
As suggested by the name, a motor home is a home on wheels. It usually contains a kitchen, sleep area, bathroom and dinette. Inside, you can enjoy electricity, heating and air conditioning. There is also running water and propane gas to cook with. When camping, the RV can be hooked up to electricity, water and sewer drains for conservation purposes. There are three classes of motor homes, each differing in accommodations and price.
Class A motor homes are considered the largest and most luxurious, measuring between 21-40 feet. They come with the amenities listed above, and some models even boast hot tubs. One of the newest and most popular models is the Georgetown, 315DS-SE. This RV comes with a slide out feature that expands the sides of the RV for more living space. The price ranges from $50,000 to $900,000.
Class B motor homes are more commonly referred to as “van campers”, because they actually look like a van. But don’t let appearances fool you: they come equipped with temporary eating, sleeping and bathroom facilities. The price range for these can be anywhere from $38,000 to $70,000.
Class C motor homes are a scaled down version of Class A. These mini motor homes provide the same luxuries of the Class A except they are generally 20-28 feet. General prices range from $42,000 to $121,000.
If you’re not ready to purchase a motor home, you can opt for a trailer. Trailers can be towed by a pick-up, van or car while offering some of the best comforts. There are two types, the Fifth-Wheel Travel Trailer and the Travel Trailer.
The Fifth-Wheel Travel Trailer offers all the comforts of a Class A motor home (running water, electricity, etc), with the added convenience of being able to detach the trailer at a site and use the pick-up for side trips. These usually vary in size between 21-40 feet and can vary in price from $12,000-$99,000.
The Travel Trailer is exactly like the Fifth-wheel, but does not necessarily need to be towed by a pickup. With a bumper and hitch frame, the trailer can also be towed by car or van. There is also the option of the Telescoping Travel Trailers that can be lowered to car-top level, thus making it more fuel efficient by eliminating wind drag. These trailers range in price from $9,000 to $76,000.
There are two general types of campers, truck campers and folding tent campers: Truck Campers are attached to a truck bed or chassis. These smaller versions of trailers actually offer a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping arrangements, but with limited space. These generally run 18-21 feet and can cost anywhere from $3,300-$25,000.
Folding tent campers are the more economic choice. The lightweight dynamic of the tent camper allows them to be towed by almost any car. When arriving at a destination, all you need to do is unhitch it for full enjoyment. The cost of these trailers ranges from $3,500-$18,000.
So there you have it: A beginner’s guide to some of the more fun vehicles out there. And with plenty of retailers in the Capital Region, you’re sure to be able to find your dream RV and hit the open road.
Spas, Hot Tubs and Whirlpools
Who doesn’t dream about having their own hot tub, spa or whirlpool at home? They’re a great escape to forget the day’s events and unwind every muscle in your body. If you’re having a tough time deciding which model is best for you, there are some things to keep in mind before making your purchase.
Today, the word “spa” and “hot tub” are used interchangeably, describing a jetted, heated tub of water. Hot tubs are above-ground jetted pools that combine water and air and bubbles pumped from the seating areas. Water inside the pool is treated chemically and is periodically drained. A spa is similar to a hot tub, but is built in-ground (though there are new models of portable spas built above ground.) Both have either contoured or bench seating and come with different amenities. They are best suited for outdoor use.
A common misconception with spas and hot tubs is that they differ from Jacuzzis. But the term Jacuzzi is just the name brand of a hot tub.
Now that you know the difference, you can begin to ask yourself the key questions to help you choose the right model.
Where do you want to place your spa or hot tub? When installing a hot tub or spa (indoors or outdoors), be aware of placement of pipes and hoses so you can easily fill it.
Electricity anyone? Make sure your spa is near the appropriate power sources.
Weight control? Be sure (especially indoors), that the location will be able to hold the weight of the spa, water and the people inside.
How much insulation? You don’t want to worry about your spa’s affect on your energy bill. All spas use a solid layer of rigid foam insulation between the inner shell and the outer walls. The thicker the foam, the better the insulation and the less energy it takes to keep the water hot.
How much do you want to spend? Two person hot-tubs can start around $4,000, while a six person package can bring you up to or more than $10,000.
No matter what you choose, it’s advisable to always have professional installation for spas and hot tubs.
No “big boy toy” would be complete without the cool customizable amenities that can be added, such as:
- Jets—Though they come standard, the amount of jets can be customized as do the way they work. Jets can gush, pulse, or move water in circular motions depending on what really relaxes you.
- Seats—Do you want a regular bench style seating? Love seats for cuddling? How about padded seating or a lounger option that allows you to recline in the water?
- Controls—Everything has a remote these days, why should your hot tub be any different? With a remote, you can operate your hot tub from indoors or opt for a floating remote to keep by your side.
- Color therapy—Many whirlpools, hot tubs and spas now come equipped with underwater lighting that changes colors. Some experts have even praised the therapeutic qualities of color therapy.
- Entertainment—Who wouldn’t love to listen to their favorite music while enjoying a soak? Or how about watching your favorite show? Many models have built in sound systems and TVs.
These are some of the basics you should know about the ultimate relaxation devices. The best part of shopping for one? Trying them out! Grab your suit and hit the showroom to enjoy a test run.
Motorcycles are for everyone
There was a time when the word “motorcycle” conjured up images of scruffy haired men with tattoos. Today, that stereotype no longer applies. Over the past few years, the typical biker has been transformed from truly hard core to the neighbor next door.
Between 1985 to 2003, the number of bike owners who were business professionals increased 12 percent according to figures from the Motorcycle Industry Council. In fact, many professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, have taken up motorcycle riding, and have even been dubbed the “Rolex Rangers”. Dean Spligttgerber, owner of Spitzie’s Motorcycle Center in Albany, can attest to that.
“It’s nothing new to see professionals buying motorcycles…politicians, judges, lawyers everyone under the sun uses them.”
Many use the weekend sport as a way to clear their minds on the open roads. In actuality, it’s also cost effective way to travel. According to the Department of Motor Vehicle website, most motorcycles can get upward of 80 miles per gallon.
Wondering what types there are out there for you? Here are some model types and 2007 manufacturer models to go along with it.
This is a great model for first time bike owners. They’re less expensive and are a wise investment for the novice rider. Dubbed “naked” bikes because they tend to have little or no plastic, they can be customized, and since they’re not as heavy as other bikes, they offer versatility.
Also, you can travel for long or short periods of time. If you’re looking into the standard model, there are plenty to choose from.
A great standard is the Harley Davidson Sportster XL883. This Harley offers a no-frills, yet sturdy bike that will give you all you need and run you only about $8,000.
Sometimes referred to as a “crotch rockets” because of their lightweight capability and small design, the sports bike is meant to go fast. It doesn’t come with many frills, but it handles turns expertly and is a great ride if you’re looking to take a short trip
The BMW F800S is the newest model. Yes, the ultra chic car dealership has been turning out all types of motorcycles models since the 1920s. The F800 is a middleweight bike that is perfect for jetting around town. This new model from BMW debuts this month and will run you about $10,000.
These are the stereotypical Hell’s Angels bikes. They come with lower seats, fatter rear tires and tend to be heavier than most other bikes. These bikes are longer than most and handle great at high speeds. Check out Yamaha’s new Stratoliner Midnight, which was voted 2006 Cruiser Rider Magazine bike of the year. It’s no wonder: the bike comes with some great detachable items such as a windshield and back rest for your passenger. This is great for short weekend trip and will cost you around $16,000.
The touring bike may look big and bulky, but don’t let that fool you. If you’re already into biking and love taking long trips, than this is the ultimate bike for you.
From optional GPS packages to heated seats and audio systems, a touring bike is the mother of all bikes. The Honda Gold Wing Airbag model comes with the same optional features that you would find in a car – enhanced audio, GPS, heated seats, anti-lock brakes, and an airbag. But, all these features means a hefty price tag of around $25,000
For about the same price, you could also check out the Harley Davidson Street Glider, a model that Spligttgerber said is popular in the area. It gives you all the comfort of a touring motorcycle with a lower slung seat and smoother ride than most.
Some tips to keep in mind:
- No matter what style you choose, comfort and safety are the two key things to keep in mind before you purchase. Make sure you’re comfortable with your seat height and location of your handles.
- Always protect yourself. Make sure you’re wearing protective clothing and boots. And most importantly make sure you have your helmet!
Home theater systems: Who needs the movies?
Friday nights at the movies used to be a fun experience. But wouldn’t it be nice to just lay back and watch the movies in the comfort of your own home? Well now you can. One of the best ways to enjoy the amazing feeling of being at the movies is by setting up your own home theater. You’d be surprised how many new home owners are having houses built with them already installed. If you aren’t one of them, don’t worry. With many companies now offering all inclusive packages it’s easier than ever to purchase all the right components. And for once you can enjoy a movie and not have to fight someone for the arm rest.
First, educate yourself with the basic components of a home theater: a television over 27 inches, a DVD player, a home theatre receiver and speakers. But, instead of building your own system, you can purchase an all-inclusive package.
The Sony Dream Systems DAV-DX225 comes with the works—a five-disc DVD, CD changer, AM/FM radio, front, center and surround speakers and a subwoofer. The beauty of this technology is that the price tag probably isn’t as much as you’d expect – only $300.
For around $1,000, the Bose sound system offers the 3.2.1 GS Series 2 Home Entertainment System. Like Sony, it has a built in DVD/CD player as well as AM/FM radio. But the Bose comes with the added convenience of fewer wires than most and more powerful speakers. The design is unobtrusive and the receiver and speakers are smaller and blend nicely with any decor. This system is great for small spaces.
The Yamaha DTX-CS870 comes in a sleek black design and offers a five disc DVD changer, amplifier, five speakers, as well as a subwoofer. It also comes with some fun amenities that aren’t always included in the standard home theater system, such as XM satellite radio and as an added bonus, is also iPod ready. The price tag for this is about $650.
These are just a few of the many choices out there in home theater systems. They come in varying color, sizes and with different added bonuses. Finding one is just a matter of taste and sometimes space. But, no matter which system you choose, you’ll find that your movie experience at home will have changed for the better.
For the true TV buff, chances are you will want to purchase the most popular “toy” to go along with your new home theatre system—the plasma flat screen TV. These are probably best suited for your home entertainment needs since it’s widescreen ratio (16:9), is designed to match your field of view, much like regular movie theater screens are.
They give you crystal clear images, while its flat design (usually only 3.5 inches in depth), still conserves space. The TV’s come in 42, 50 and even 65-inch screens. And best of all, plasma is meant to work best with Digital TV (DTV) or a High Definition TV (HDTV) signal, so you can count on even better viewing quality. You might want to look into the Panasonic TH-65PX600U; the 65-inch plasma is the ultimate toy. Not only will it hook up seamlessly with your home theater system, but it also comes with the added bonus of memory card slots, so you can view your digital photos on one of the largest plasma screens. But it will cost you around $10,000.
TRX 400EX ATV—Honda’s ’07 TRX 400EX ATV has one of Honda’s best XR engines. It’s the ATV of your dreams with a rugged steal frame and radial tires for smooth handling. With triple disc brakes, its stopping power is superior. The ATV comes equipped with a reverse gear and a push button electric starter. The design ensures you’re as safe as possible, while the sporty look will make you the envy of all your friends. Price tag: $5,999.
2007 RS Rage GT snowmobile—This snowmobile by Yamaha has a four valve engine, a lightweight hydraulic brake system and rear exiting exhaust that allows for maximum airflow through the engine. It also has some of the best amenities going, including electronic ignition, tall windshields that offer protection from snow and digitally controlled hand and thumb warmers. Price tag: Starting at $12,699.
2007 VX Cruiser—For all you water lovers out there, Yamaha also offers various jet skies. The VX Cruiser has a lightweight design and an added seat that ensures the comfort of both you and your passengers. The reverse jet propulsion system makes sure you don’t get stuck in any tight spots. And the electronic fuel injection system makes it both environment and fuel friendly. Starting at $8,999.
Tahoe 195 I/0 deck boat—If you’re looking for a more relaxed day on the water, then you can look into this deck boat by Tahoe. With a hand laid hull, UV resistant vinyl and thread, and a heavy duty rub rail you can be sure this boat is built to last. It can seat eight people comfortably and offers stereo remote and CD changer, making it perfect to take out for a day of relaxation. Price tag: Around $20,000.
- The iPhone —The craze of the Apple iPod is pretty self-evident, everywhere you go you can see the telltale white earphones dangling from people’s ears. Now all that technology has been converted into a super sleek and useful phone. The iPhone has the capability to not only play mp3’s, but stream live video, check email, take and send pictures, and, oh yeah, make phone calls too! With touch screen technology this is one “toy” you definitely won’t get bored of. Price tag: $499.
- The Casio Ex-V&SR—This is one of the newest and most advanced digital cameras out there! It’s slim and sleek while still being functional. With a 7X zoom lens, you won’t miss one shot of action no matter how far away you may be. The camera also has the newest movie format, the MPEG-4, which allows you to take amazingly clear video and save it in smaller file sizes leaving you more room to keep capturing the moments. Price tag: $399.
- Ducane-60,000 BTU Stainless-Steel 5-Burner LP Gas Grill—The grilling fanatic in your family will fall in love with this piece of machinery. This Ducane gas grill model offers a side burner on top of the already five primary ones, two shelves for easier preparation and a rotisserie and warming rack. The 60,000 BTU’s and 832 square inches of cooking space is enough to keep grilling through the night. Price tag: $899.