Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Wow, I can’t believe Back To School activities commence in just a few short weeks. It was not that long ago when my wife Misa and I began planning for an active and engaging summer break with the kids. Maybe it was the two-week Japanese venture to Tokyo Disneyland that hyper-accelerated our July. Since we base the major events (usually overseas) on the girls’ two birthdays, the time in-between seems to fly by like eagles. Either or we couldn’t endure another season without organizing the clan for a summer camping trip deep in the woods of South Jersey with 36 anxious and energetic family members.
The Fit Fathers headquarters is based in Silver Spring, MD while half of the family lives in Delaware and New Jersey. Our middle ground for the inaugural Rawlins/Redds Family Summer Vacation would be the picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean and one of South Jersey’s finest campgrounds known as Pine Haven Camping Resort. With so many minions to get from locale to locale I looked into Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter division and scheduled a 12-passenger unit to handle the bulk of our transportation needs. Yep, that tall ubiquitous European van has been updated for 2015 to continue its impressive array of amenities for suitors. It was the ideal vehicle for the journey with the ability to carry each passenger and their luggage, which fit perfectly under each seat. There was also enough cargo volume behind the third row to store our food, sports equipment, additional luggage for those that over packed, a few baby strollers, and two adult bikes since our model was devoid of a hitch. More importantly, the family school bus and its 26.4 gallon fuel tank is powered by clean diesel. In fact, we only made one fuel stop during the round trip road trip.
I loaded up the Sprinter Friday morning before the drive and called each family to ascertain they were ready when the Fit Fathers Express came rolling into town. Everyone was eager to hit the water and simply relax for a few days so of course there were no delays. Full of a cadre of recreational activities including basketball, two fresh water lakes, volleyball, two pools, mini-golf, an arcade, and a playground, Pine Haven covered all of our active needs. We lucked up and found four cabins that slept nine. Each came with a deck/porch, kitchens, bathrooms, A/C, linens, Wi-Fi, and a fire pit. Wait, there’s more. Movies are shown on the outdoor big screen with your favorite classics, family bingo is played in the evening, and morning crafts are scheduled for early risers. Situated within acres of pine and oak woods, Pine Haven is a few miles from Sea Isle City Beach where I snuck off with my mother and father while the group was doing their own thing. Next year we will make sure to include this beach town as a confirmed activity on the agenda.
The trip down was fluid with all passengers giving the thumbs up for comfort. This Swiss Army knife of vans covers everything from RVing to cargo applications. Many proud owners embellish their Sprinters with sleeping quarters, mini kitchens, and lounges. Our $51,205 Jet Black 2015 Sprinter 2500 Passenger Van included the Driver Comfort Package, the Cold Weather Package, the Premium Appearance Package, and the Rear Passenger Comfort Package. Given the extra load, the vehicle’s 3-liter V6 BlueTEC turbo diesel and 5-speed automatic transmission performed adequately together. Yet, I had no desire to overtake anyway on the highway with its limited acceleration. The new Sprinter is also equipped with an elective Super High Roof and Crosswind Assist to keep the van on its path during strong gusts. The base engine is the 2.1-liter 4‐cylinder BlueTEC turbo diesel with the 7G Tronic automatic transmission. The audio and Nav systems were pretty basic so we plugged in our iPods for tunes and used Google maps on our iPhones for directions.
It was a momentous time for the Rawlins and Redds family since we rarely see one another. Especially watching each age group of kids take charge of their lives for two days. They jump roped, swam, and hooped while the adults entertained one another reminiscencing, cooking and chilling. I even managed a few workouts including one with mama bear. On Saturday morning she walked an hour and I ran six miles while the other 34 slept. Next year I’m going to implement a Fit Fathers 60-minute boot camp!
Everyone is excited for the 2nd Annual Family Summer Vacation in 2016 at Pine Haven Camping Resort, so I guess I should put in an order for three Sprinters!
But before you take off for your summer road trip make sure to review Fit Fathers “Family Travel Tips” list from Goodyear:
To make sure you are completely prepared before your family hits the highway, make sure to pack an emergency kit including water bottles, cell phone charger, a spare tire that is properly inflated, an air pressure gauge, a first aid kit and other essential items. Enrolling in a roadside assistance program can also be very helpful.
- Tire Pressure
As temperatures changes, so can tire pressure. Proper tire inflation is essential for automotive safety, optimum driving performance and significant cost savings including better fuel mileage, so check that air pressure now. Tires should be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations printed on the vehicle door placard or in the owner’s manual. This will improve the overall drive and ride performance. Properly inflated tires can even improve gas mileage and provide proper contact to the road, making your springtime drive a more enjoyable experience.
- Checking Tread Depth – This Only Costs a Penny!
Perform the quick “penny test” to see if you need new tires. When inserting a penny upside-down in the tread grooves of the tire, if you see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires. For drivers in need of new treads for their vehicle, the Assurance Fuel Max tire offers confident road traction in any weather and money-saving benefits of fuel efficiency.
- Inspect Your Car
Visibility is key! Inspect your wiper blades and replace them if they are cracked, torn, cut or streaking. Also, replacing your air filter can improve a car’s performance. 90 percent of your driving decisions are based on vision, so make sure you inspect your wiper blades and replace them if they are not up to standards.
- Breathe Free!
Although you may be breathing in that crisp summer air, your car could still be choking on the pollen, dust and sand it sucked in over the spring months. Replacing your air filter improves air flow to the engine and increases engine performance and gas mileage, especially during warmer months.
- Might be Time for an Oil Change
Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine that keeps your vehicle running as smooth as possible. Every vehicle is different and each manufacturer requires the oil to be changed at different intervals or mileage points. Check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, because after a summer of driving, it may be time to get your oil changed so that you’re ready for your fall getaway
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