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If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 24, 2016 is a fee-free day. In celebration of National Public Lands Day, most parks will be free. To find a park near you, visit their website and click on “Find Your Park” in the top left corner.

As I have posted before, when you decide to make the move from a stick-house to a recreational vehicle, there are many things to consider. Prices vary on RVs, but most are very affordable with the majority being much, much cheaper than a stick-house.

After price, the next thing to consider is how comfortable you are with driving. Are you okay with driving/towing? Can you back up? If not, you may consider contacting your local RV dealership and see if they recommend a driving school (or perhaps they offer lessons) for a newbie RVer. If that isn’t an issue, than you need to consider other driving issues such as a tow vehicle. If you decide on a fifth-wheel or travel trailer (and, of course, a truck-camper) then you will need a good pickup truck to tow your RV. If you decide on a motorhome (Class A, Class C or a van) then you may require a vehicle to tow behind (either on a trailer or tow dolly). And consider very carefully if you choose not to have a tow vehicle – especially if you decide on a larger motorhome. Every time you require groceries or supplies, you’d have to pack up everything and drive your “home” into town. Unless you have other options – motorcycle, bicycle, hiking – to get to a nearby town, you should consider having a “vehicle”. Another driving factor to consider is that your family can drive it. If something happens to you, could your spouse or travel companions drive it?

What size of RV do you need? It depends on if you are going to be Full-Timers or Seasonals, as well as how many people are living in it. If you are going to go Full-Time, then everything you own will be inside. That means you need storage, as well as enough room to function. Smaller rigs may seem to small for you, but don’t forget, the more slides you have, the larger the rig becomes. And driving-wise, how big of rig can you handle with where you plan to travel? Quite honestly, some roadways (especially in the mountains) are just not made for larger RVs. So keep in mind that although bigger is roomier, it is a lot more to handle on the road and even inside smaller campgrounds.

And let’s mention storage again. Like size, this depends on if you are going Full-Time. If everything you own is in the RV, then you need storage. And I don’t mean sticking your frying pans in an outside compartment. I mean real, functional storage space. There are extra things that will eat your storage space before you even get it home. Do you really need a washer and dryer? What about that dinette booth versus a regular table? Sure, dinette tables look nice in RVs, yet booths allow under-seat storage that you may need.

RV slides are probably the best RV-addition and the more you have, the more room adds on to your rig. Yet they have major downfalls. Number one is that most campgrounds (even those that advertise Big Rig Friendly) aren’t slide-friendly. You may find that your slide(s) can’t go out because of trees, utility posts, cement barriers and other campground obstacles. This can be quite frustrating, especially if you have wide and/or large slides like we do. Another thing to consider with slides is that they aren’t as heavily insulated as the rest of your camper. So if you are going to a colder region, you need to keep in mind that you may need to leave your slides in to stay warm. Do your slides have electrical outlets or furnace/air-condition ducts? Keep this in mind if you are in a hot-cold region. Slides can also be a pain if you can’t put them out. If you are traveling down the road and need to use the bathroom, can you even get to your bathroom? Some slides block off areas of your rig and you can’t use them. So keep in mind what your rig would look like with the slides in – could you get to your bathroom? Bedroom? Stove? Refrigerator? If you were boondocking (or dry camping) a few days with the slides in, could you still live in your camper? These are things to keep in mind when RV shopping.

How far do you plan to travel in your rig? Will you drive it across the country or will you just drive it a few states away? Make sure you can handle it and that your routes (like mountains) are something your rig can handle. We’ve driven down roads that have brought our curtains down and broke the jar of dill pickles in the refrigerator. If you are going to take your rig down the road make sure the cabinets and refrigerator have good locks, that sliding doors have snaps, etc… Also, if you travel to a colder region (or even if it gets colder in a warmer region) that your rig is well-insulated and that you have the means or the “extras” as far as it goes to protecting your pipes/hoses from freezing. Many RVs have “polar packages” that you can upgrade and get tank heaters, etc… Well worth the extra money.

Most salespeople will push whatever they have on the RV lot, but if they know you are interested in a new one (especially custom-built) they will push the extra features. You don’t need most of them, yet there are a few that you should consider. A generator is a must in my opinion – especially a propane one. It will cost extra money, but you’ll find it money well spent during your first major outage. No smelly gas tanks to drag around – just regular propane which you’ll use in your RV anyway! And make sure you get a switch to turn the generator on from inside your RV. Those stormy or cold nights you are without power, all you have to do is crawl out of bed, flip the switch and your generator is on. No fuss and anyone can do it! Another extra is the polar package (if you are traveling far or in colder regions). Flip a switch and your water tank will be heated! No wrapping hoses or dripping faucets.

Now, that being said, let’s get serious. What happens if you or one of your family members becomes ill or disabled even for just a short time? Could they be able to navigate the RV with a cane, walker or small wheelchair if they needed to? When considering our custom-built fifth-wheel the only thing that we considered might be a problem someday were the three steps leading upstairs to the bathroom and master bedroom. Just three little steps. Well, today I currently find myself dealing with cancer treatment and those three little steps might as well lead to the first base camp at Everest. Luckily, an added rail-guard has helped alleviate that big trek up the stairs. A fold-able walker allows me easy movement upstairs, while a small wheelchair allows me movement downstairs. But we never planned this – who does? Fortunately our RV had the room to accommodate me during this time. So plan ahead – consider you or a family member navigating your RV while ill or disabled. It will require some adjustments, but at least give you the peace of mind that you are together in your home.

And don’t forget to think of  everyday things you’d like to have in your perfect RV. Do you like TV and movies and want to sit and watch them from a sofa or a recliner? Do you like plants? They have optional greenhouse windows in RVs… Entertain? They have wine racks and mini-bars… Think about what you NEED and what you would LIKE to have and write them down. Make a check-list for each RV you visit, that way you see how close it comes to your perfect RV.

Been too busy to participate in National Park week? Don’t worry, there is still plenty going on at your local National Park Service this weekend! In addition to waiving park entrance fees, the park service has some other events going on. Click on the links below to find out more information on how you can participate.

April 22nd Earth Day

April 23rd National Park Instameet

April 24th Park Rx Day

 

A New Year reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV! And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot to schedule those yearly rig check-ups that usually get overlooked while you are on-the-road.

 Hope 2016 brings you safe travels! 🙂

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gulf Islands National Seashore - Fort Pickens (FL)

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gulf Islands National Seashore – Fort Pickens (FL)

If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 26, 2015 is a fee-free day! In celebration of National Public Lands Day, most parks will be free. To find a park near you, visit NPS’s website and click on “Find a Park” in the top left corner.

National Public Lands Day is the largest volunteer event to help clean up public lands. Want to lend a hand on that day and earn another free day (coupon)? More information about NPLD can be found at the Public Lands Day website.

To kick off U.S. National Park week, the National Park Service is waving entrance fees. In addition, some other special offers may apply this free-weekend.

April 18-19, 2015 (opening weekend of National Park Week)

For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website.

A friendly reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV at the first of the New Year! And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot to schedule those yearly rig check-ups that usually get overlooked while you are on-the-road.

 Hope 2015 brings you safe travels! 🙂

Traveling through Alabama today and found ourselves along a rainy stretch of highway.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Garden Fountain

Looking back…

During the start of Summer 2010, we found ourselves on-the-road. In need of a break we decided to stop at a few of our favorite places in Louisiana. Unfortunately, while we were there, the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico occurred. This changed some of our plans, as coastal communities were busy with rescue, cleanup and media crews.

There was still plenty to see and do, from gardens and casinos to exploring the back roads. We even managed to partake in our first crawdad “buffet”. Which is was quite an event in itself. I never imagined seeing adults wearing bibs and gloves, eating buckets of crawdads! But that is one of the cool things about being a Full-Time RVer… detours are no obstacle and new experiences are always welcomed. 🙂

Photo by H.S. Cooper © PVC Flag Pole

Photo by H.S. Cooper © PVC Flag Pole

If you have been in a campground, especially during a flag-holiday, you have probably seen those rotating PVC-pipe flag poles. We have seen some really creative ones. People have taken the basic pattern and added a section for a name plaque or solar lights (great in parks with no street lights so your flag is lit in the evening) or have painted the pipe either black or silver.

Usually you can find at least one person in a campground who makes them. If you want to make one yourself, there are free instructions online.

You can find everything you need to complete one at a Lowe’s or Home Depot. A good quality U.S. flag will cost you $20 – $30. Less expensive ones may fade or fray, so keep that in mind when you purchase one.

When placing your flag pole at your site, be mindful of your neighbors and the landscapers. We have seen folks place their flag pole a little too close to their neighbor’s site and when their neighbors opened their car-door they emerge into a tangled flag! Also try not to place the flag in a lawn mowers path. In addition, remember to remove your flag pole during rain and wind storms.

 

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rain Delay

We were planning on putting some major mileage in today, but Mother Nature had other plans. Flooding and severe storms in the region have us staying inside and watching the Travel Channel instead. The summer adventure will just have to wait a day… or two. 🙂

 

1) Do you live in a RV for 12 months out of the year?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO… you must live in a house, apartment or condo for a portion of the year. Sorry, but you aren’t a Full-Time RVer. You are just a Seasonal RVer. But don’t worry, there is hope for you yet! 🙂

2) Do you have a rental storage facility or a place where you keep items too large or numerous to store in your RV?

If you answered NO, continue below. If you answered YES… then you are not yet ready to be a Full-Time RVer. You may think you are a Full-Timer and can tell people you are but deep down, you really aren’t ready to part with the holiday decorations, extra clothes, “cool” 70s furniture or stuff you bought from yard sales the last 30 years…If you sit down and calculate the current resale value of the items you have in storage and your monthly/annual storage bill, you may find yourself making a trip to the local flea market to sell those “costly” treasures. With the storage gone, you’ll have the money to get those wheels moving and be one step closer to being a real Full-Timer.

3) If you made it this far, CONGRATS! You are a Full-Timer! But let’s see how devoted you are to the lifestyle… Do you periodically find yourself wondering which state you are in?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO, it sounds like you may be a Full-Timer who is stuck in the same area. Don’t forget that RVs come with wheels!

4) Can you remember the last time you visited an airport, bus or train station and/or the last time you slept in a hotel?

If you answered NO, you are a real Full-Time RVer! CONGRATS! If you answered YES… don’t let any other die-hard Full-Timers know or they’ll tease you! 😉

Just a quick reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV!

And if you are a Full-Time RVer, don’t forgot those yearly check-ups that usually get overlooked like cleaning propane regulators and draining the hot water tank.

Hope 2014 brings you Safe Travels! 🙂

Once again we put up two trees in our fifth-wheel. I blame it on all the souvenir ornaments we buy. Well, that’s my excuse anyway! 😉

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Leaving the RV resort

I took this photo as we were leaving the RV resort this morning. Hmm… that was a whole state ago!  Not sure where we are? I’ll try to keep the TRAVEL section updated in the weeks ahead. 🙂

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rose O’Neill home and statue

So you planned to take that dream trip across the country to a national park or visit that must-see museum only to find out it’s closed… What’s a family to do about vacation plans now?

There are many wonderful hidden treasures across the USA and if you take a closer look, a few are probably right in your own backyard!

The first thing to do is visit an area’s local tourist or visitor center website. Often they will list attractions, recreation and events and have links to other websites that contain more details. Don’t forget to look for small museums, historical sites and botanical gardens! And there are still places that offer free admission, but appreciate donations. Your support of these smaller attractions and non-profit organizations helps keep them open. You may find yourself enjoying the less popular attractions as they are not as crowded and their volunteers are eager to share information about the site with visitors.

So before you begin to panic about your upcoming travel plans, browse the web! Like TV shows? Find out about your favorite and visit places from the show, like the Walton’s Mountain Museum (Shuyler, VA). Enjoy history and art? Check out Rose O’Neill’s home “Bonniebrook” (Walnut Shade, MO). Love sci-fi? Drop by the International UFO Museum & Research Center (Roswell, NM). The possibilities are endless!

If you had planned to stay in a park lodge or campground, don’t fret! Most private campgrounds offer cabins with basic bunks and beds to deluxe cabins completely furnished.  Ask if they have discounts, as most campgrounds will offer a free night if you stay longer than a week. Although private campgrounds are a bit higher priced than national and state parks, consider ones with additional amenities like playground, scheduled activities/events, ice cream socials, free breakfast, Cable TV and WiFi to get the most for your money.

This is a beautiful country and there are plenty of ways to experience and explore the USA outside of it’s national parks and museums.

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Walton's Mountain Museum

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Walton’s Mountain Museum

  

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © By Outlaw Run SDC

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © SDC view by train

If you like rolling hills and coaster thrills, consider planning a trip to Silver Dollar City just west of Branson (MO). Silver Dollar City is an 1800s theme park with a handful of roller coasters, water-themed rides and toe-tapping shows. There are a number of craftspeople and specialty shoppes, in addition to some older attractions to see. And don’t forget the train ride! 🙂

With the numerous shows schedules and rides there is just no way to enjoy the whole park in just a few hours. So if you are one of those folks who want to see and do it all, plan on a second-day visit.

Like other theme parks, admission and food costs are high. But free parking is available and they have tram service from each parking lot so you can save your feet for the hilly park. If you are just passing through the area and want to visit, they  have designated RV parking.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Geyser Gulch at SDC

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Fire-in-the-Hole at SDC

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © No, Thanks!

Stopped a flea market the other day… boy, you just never know what you are going to see when you get off that highway! 😉

 

Although it’s hard to escape flu-season, there are some things you can do to protect your family from disease while you are on the road…

Have hand sanitizer in your vehicle. Make sure you have a small bottle for each person (put it in each person’s door or the center council and mark their name on it). Each time a person gets into the vehicle, they should clean their hands. If the person handled other public items prior to getting in (such as touching a door or shopping cart), make sure he or she wipes off their door handle, door lock or window area (anywhere that is touched) with a handy-wipe. Also make sure to have a liter bag in your vehicle to dispose of dirty handy-wipes and facial tissue. We dispose of our liter bag every stop.

Have individual handy-wipes in your purse, pocket or backpack and use them! Do not rely on public restrooms to have filled soap containers or even hot water. I am surprised when I do come across a fully-stocked public restroom. If you are an RVer currently on the road, it’s best that you don’t rely on public restrooms. Use your own RV if you can get access to the bathroom with the slides in. Some RVers don’t like using their own bathroom during transit because they don’t like carrying extra water or don’t want to have anything in their holding tanks. You don’t have to have your water tank filled to use your toilet. You can use purchase hand sanitizer that requires no water to wash your hands and place a gallon (or two) jug of water in your bathroom sink to use to flush.

Another thing to avoid is eating out while you are on the road. We’re RVers – we’re self-contained! We shouldn’t rely on McDs or Flying J to feed us every hundred miles. Make some sandwiches or an easy-fix meal before you leave. Pull over at a rest area or find a parking spot wherever you fuel up and grab a bite.

One thing that bothers us is the lack of sanitation in restaurants. Ever have a sickly cashier walk over to get your fries? Ever see the cook come out of the restroom wearing his or her apron? And people licking their fingers and picking up utensils at buffets… Ekk! Keep your eyes posted for potential problems. And if you can, call them out on it. Let the manager know what you saw so they can take action – it could save someone’s life!

Most RVers do have their own cell phones and computers; however, if you don’t and have to rely on a pay phone or visit a local library to log-on, remember to use handy-wipes over the phone and number pad and the computer keyboard and mouse.

These are just a few ways to protect your family while travelling. With the spread of disease and a major flu epidemic today, this is a concern you shouldn’t take lightly.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

A friendly reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV at the first of the New Year! And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot to schedule those yearly check-ups that usually get overlooked while you are on-the-road.

 Hope 2013 brings you safe travels! 🙂

Photo by H.S. Cooper

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©
Our first winter on-the-road!

This September marks four years of THREE MODERN NOMADS. I started it when friends and folks we encountered along the way suggested the idea… and here it is four years later!

I have recently made some changes to TMN. The major one is redesigning the TRAVEL page. Before each year-season had its own page and it was rather difficult to read. Now there is only one travel link and when you click on it, you can read our travel “diary”. The diary was written in start-and-stop fashion, so you will noticed at times I stop and then continue on days or perhaps weeks later. Photos that were posted in that section are being moved to the appropriate state. And State pages are being updated… another work-in-progress!

Another change to TMN is that the posts (article) pages have been removed. For older posts, you can type in a keyword or topic in the SEARCH box located on the left side of the HOME page. Relevant archived posts will appear and you can scroll through finding the one you are looking for. New and popular posts will remain as “stickies” to the HOME page. If you subscribe via email, any new posts will be emailed to you. However, new photo pages will not – so be sure to stop and visit the site occasionally if you are a subscriber.

I am also moving and uploading new photos to their own pages under the appropriate state. Links can be found on the left side of the HOME page under PHOTOS (and then State). Updating links and adding more images and slideshows is still a work-in-progress, but without the hassles of constantly updating the REVIEWS page, I have more time to focus on photos. You may have noticed the campground review pages no longer exists! Updating campground and RV resort reviews was a never-ending project for me. I have a few ideas of how to do that without making it such a “chore”, so that section may return in the near future.

The FAQ (Frequent Asked Questions) page has been updated with common questions I often receive via email. I will add more general questions to this page in the near future. And the QUOTE page is a more readable now and I’ve added some new photos.

And what’s a celebration without a few surprises? You’ll just have to wait and see what September brings… 😉

I want to thank all of you who have liked, shared, commented and emailed over the years. It’s been great to hear about your travels as well!

Safe Travels!

— H.S.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper © RAINY FLORIDA DAY

Just a rainy Florida day… watching the Weather Channel and trying to figure out what Tropical Storm Isaac is going to do! If you RVing in an area that may be affected by this storm, please don’t take it lightly. Although RVs can withstand moderate winds, they are not intended to be used for shelter in any type of severe storm. Monitor your weather alert radio for changing conditions and follow evacuation orders. Safe travels!

Weather, Weather Everywhere

Evacuation with the RV

Weathering the Storm

Preparing for Disaster

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gulf Islands National Seashore (FL)

If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 29, 2012 is a fee-free day. In celebration of National Public Lands Day, most parks will be free. To find a park near you visit: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm and click on “Find a Park” in the top left corner.

National Public Lands Day is the largest volunteer event to help clean up public lands. Want to lend a hand on that day and earn another free day (coupon)? More information about NPLD can be found at: http://www.publiclandsday.org/highlights/fee-free-day-and-coupons

We won't be taking the "home" across this bridge! 😉

We have pulled off the road and are ready to explore a bit of Pennsylvania and the surrounding states this summer. Although I think we are going to have to keep an eye on some of these bridges. 😉

Thank goodness for rest areas and picnic stops... is it just me or are U.S. highways getting a little rough?

We are on the road again and I must say, it has been quite an adventure already! From the 15 mph traffic in Austin (which may have had something to do with X-Factor auditions that day) to the super-speeders (80+ mph) east of Shreveport. Let’s see what tomorrow brings on the road, well traveled! 😉

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©LBJ ENTRANCE
A driving permit is required, but free at the Vistor Center.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©LBJ birthplace

If you find yourself along Highway 290 between Fredericksburg and Johnson City (TX), make sure to stop at the LBJ National Historical Park’s LBJ Ranch.

Entrance to the park is free and just requires a stop at the State Park Visitor Center to obtain a driving permit and audio CD for the driving tour. Some sites to see include the old schoolhouse, LBJ’s birthplace (turned guest house), LBJ and Lady Bird’s burial site, the working cattle ranch, the hangar and the “Texas White House”. Oh… did I mention all the pecan trees, Texas Longhorns, bison and white-tailed deer?

A 25-30 minute tour of the Texas White House is only $2. If you have the time, I highly recommend the tour. You will be surprised to see how things were left exactly the way they were. From embroidery pillows to clothing in the closet to family photos on the dresser. No photos are allowed inside the house.

Before leaving the area, make sure to stop at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farmstead, just east of the visitor center. A tour of the early 1918 farmstead is free and you will literally step into living history – just watch out for cow and sheep patties! The folks dressed up as settlers actually grow and can the foods you see on display. Around lunchtime they actually prepare foods as they would during the period.  And all the food comes from the farmstead (including the meat).

There are actually two parks, the national and the state historic park. Part of the state park is located in Johnson City, so if you may want to venture the 14 or so miles to see that after touring the LBJ Ranch.

There is plenty of parking for Big Rigs at the visitor center, however, you probably wouldn’t want to drive around the whole loop of LBJ Ranch. When you obtain your driving permit, ask what they recommend. There is parking at the Sauer-Beckmann farm, yet is is reserved for smaller vehicles. Yet the farmstead is only a brief walk from the visitor center.

For additional information on these, please visit their websites:

http://www.nps.gov/lyjo/index.htm

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lyndon_b_johnson/

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Lady Bird and LBJ’s resting place

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©LBJ Plane
Air Force “One and Half” as called by LBJ

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©TEXAS WHITE HOUSE
The “Texas White House” – well worth a tour!

Those who have been following along in our travels recall last year we upgraded from a 3 ft. Christmas tree to a 6 ft. one in order to hold all our travel ornaments. Well… that was our excuse anyway. And no, we didn’t upgrade to a 7 ft. one this year! 😉

However… the overflow of ornaments did require a bigger tree… and well… I’ll let the photo say a thousand words! 😉

Yes - it's a two-tree Camper Christmas. 😉

‘Tis the Season! The Seasonal RVers are heading for their winter base camp…and by the looks of the local Walmart parking lot today, I’d say there’s many still en-route. 🙂

I just hope they will remember the “parking etiquette” that RVers follow when overnighting at retail (i.e. Walmart) parking lots, truck stops and rest areas. These guidelines (supported by the RV industry) help ensure that the privilege of staying over one night is not abused. Repeated abuse of this etiquette can have negative effects on RVers. With an increase in parking prohibited locations (including rest areas), RVers need to remember that this privilege can be taken away as easily as erecting an OVERNIGHT PARKING PROHIBITED sign.

First of all, stop and ask if it is okay to overnight – esp. at retail businesses. Verify the parking policy with an employee (someone with authority) and ask them if there is a particular area designated for larger vehicles and RVs.

If you are in a business parking lot, make sure you are off to the side or the very back of the parking lot. Try not to take too many parking spaces. Parking spaces equal money to the business. Another reason to park away from the main flow of traffic… we once saw a newer Class A (with their slides out  😦 ) have two shopping carts jammed under their slide. I won’t repeat the language coming out of the owner’s mouth as he was trying to get them out without causing more damage!

Overnight at Flying J

If you are at a truck stop, remember not to get in their way. Find a parking spot on the end or toward the back. If you see other RVers, try to park by them. It is very important that while at a truck stop (especially if you are parked with the semi trucks) that you stay within your lines. If you have trouble backing your rig or have trouble staying in your lines, find a pull-thru if you can. But if you find a truck stop with a double pull-thru, make sure you pull all the way forward so that someone can park behind you. And don’t be surprised if you find another RV behind you in the morning. 🙂

No matter where you overnight park, remember to be courteous and try to get in your spot as quickly as possible without holding up the traffic flow.

You should not put your slides out. If your RV layout blocks a closet or another area you need access to, make sure you re-locate those items to easy access areas prior to overnighting. Some people arrange their RV so that a slide may actually be over a concrete area with grass or mulch landscaping and not interfere with the parking lot.

Do not use your hydraulic jacks. And by no means should you put down your awning or set up camp (lawn chairs, rugs, BBQ grill, etc…) while overnight parking. You are not camping, you are parking.

While you are there, please patronize the business. Buy fuel or shop in their store. Grab a bite to eat from their restaurant. We have found some of the best pizzas around can be found at truck stops! You don’t have to spend a great deal, but if you aren’t at least buying fuel at a truck stop, buy something – bag of chips or some travel souvenirs – anything to show your gratitude. And even if you have your cupboards full, you should be able to find something at a business like Walmart – books, magazines or even travel maps.

There are some safety issues with overnighting. Turn on your door light and your scare lights. Make sure all you RV doors, outside compartments and tow vehicle doors are locked. Never, ever just open the door to someone who knocks on it! Open a window near the door and speak to them through the window until you know what is going on. If you are overnighting at a truck stop, do not go wandering around a night. If you must walk your pet, make sure to do it near your RV. Traffic never ceases at a truck stop or a busy store like Walmart. Tired drivers may not see you in the shadows.

Safe Travels! 😉

– HS

NOTE: The Escapees club has parking etiquette cards and the Good Neighbor Policy letter which can be printed out for RVers to share. Visit their site at: http://www.escapees.com/Boondocking.asp

We are currently in Texas and a walk along the Guadalupe River today revealed some Fall colors. 🙂

Clear skies in the forecast for tomorrow's long haul...

A few days ago we got up in the dark AM hours to hit the road… 8 hours later… we found ourselves setting up at another RV park.

Unfortunately, a thunderstorm was rumbling in the distance and we had to set up as quickly as we could before the rain came pouring down.

Imagine our surprise on the following day when we realized our 50 amp electrical cord was damaged… but closer inspection revealed this wasn’t our electric cord! This cord appears to have been clamped at one time as well as being extremely faded on the RV plug (female) end.

Now at the previous campground we took the truck and did some all-day sight-seeing one day. The day before (at this same campground), a man came around to our site to install an electric meter at the pole. Our first thought was perhaps the maintenance man removed our cord and somehow damaged it. But again, at closer inspection we realized it wasn’t ours at all.

Even if the maintenance man somehow damaged the cord and tried to fix it with a clamp, then removed the clamp… the impression dug so deep into the cord and the fading of the plug at the RV (female) end could not have happened overnight.

Although at this point it didn’t matter, we needed to have a safe electrical cord. Of course, when you need a RV part, there are no dealers around! Fortunately we found a mobile home repair supplier with a selection of RV parts about 50 minutes away. They did not have a replacement cord, but had a new 50 amp (male) plug for us to fix this one. It will have to make do until we can get to a RV dealer or supplier and replace the entire cord.

We have heard crazy stories and experienced equally crazy things during our RVing years, but this… well, we are still amp’d up over this.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Fortunately the forecast is for clear skies… 😉

Death Valley National Park

If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 24, 2011 is the next fee-free day. To find a park near you visit: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm and click on “Find a Park” in the top left corner.

Why this particular day in September? Well, it is in celebration of National Public Lands Day – the largest volunteer event to help clean up public lands. Want to lend a hand? More information about NPLD can be found at: http://www.publiclandsday.org/

On the road again!

What’s bright orange and goes “RRRRRrrrrr” at 7:00 am and then goes thud at 7:01 am? That would be a wood-chipper parked in the site across from us this morning, followed by me falling out of bed!

I’ll go out on a limb (You knew I would work that one in!) and say that the landscapers didn’t know about the “quiet time” hours until 8 am. However, it would have been nice if management would have told them for the sake of their sleepy guests…

Regardless, I’m wondering why suddenly healthy trees need to be removed. No doubt, some crazed Camper (I’ll be good – I won’t say some silly Sap!) complained about limbs, leaves, pinecones or some other nonsense on their insanely white chemically-treated RV roof.

Sorry, Woody! No vacancy at this campground!

Now I don’t chain myself to trees, but I do appreciate and respect them for all they do for us and fellow creatures. I enjoy their shade in summer and their heat in winter. I enjoy watching the little green buds in spring and the big flashy colors in fall. I enjoy hearing and seeing the birds and squirrels carry out their daily routine around them. Who can’t but love trees?

And I certainly understand that in some places, like campgrounds and RV resorts, trees may stand in the way (I let that one slide!) of new development or sites… yet, I can’t help but wonder about existing trees that appear healthy and are out of the road (literally).

Assuming there wasn’t a sale on tree removal and wood-chipping services this week, my guess is that complaints about tree “stuff” on RV roofs and awnings had prompted their removal.

And this is rather sad.

There are tree-less places with level concrete sites for RVers who are anti-tree. They are called Walmart parking lots.

If you ever find yourself near Penn Valley, California… and you’re just itching to try your hand at panning for gold… make sure you spend a few hours at the South Yuba River State Park.

The highlight of the park is the covered bridge. Amazing photos and information about its history can be found in the visitor’s center.

During the summer, the park hosts gold panning demonstrations. You can purchase inexpensive equipment in the visitor’s center and pan for gold right under the bridge. Don’t be shocked when you look into the water and see gold glitter! Although it’s not the “big stuff”, it is fun to see a pan full of gold water. 😉

If you do pan, you should take water-proof boots as the water is very cold after a few minutes. And if you take a picnic lunch,  keep it in your vehicle until you are ready for it. We found the squirrels were hoping to “pan-out” with our picnic while we were panning! 😉

There is some old equipment and buildings in the park which add to the history of the area. Within walking distance is an old cemetery. There are several hiking trails, one is even wheel-chair accessible.

There are different parking areas, but the main area down by the bridge is paved and has adequate room for tows and smaller RVs.

For more information: http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=496

A growing number of RVers have discovered some of the most reasonable camping in the country can be found at casino locations. Even if you are not a gambler or crazy about all-you-can-eat buffets, you should give it a try!

Our first experience at casino camping was actually staying at a KOA right beside the casino. Although it was within walking distance, a shuttle from the campground was available at any time. At check-in we not only received discounted buffet coupons, but also casino free play! (If you are not familiar with this, “free play” is what some casinos give new players to get started. It is actually “money” on a players card you are given to play free. Many casinos offer this with amounts ranging from $5 to over $20. You never know… $5 and the right game may win you a new RV! 😉 ) And after we went into the casino, we were rewarded with free gifts (mugs and shirts) for just signing up! As you walked through the casino there were self-serve drink stations where you could get sodas, teas, coffee, ICEEs and flavored waters for free!  And if the ICEEs didn’t lure you in, the free popcorn did! 😉

Of course, this was a KOA campground beside the casino and all the amenities – Full hook-ups, WiFi, Cable TV, Big Rig Friendly concrete pad pull-thru site, etc… were available. Yet it made us realize that not only where casino campgrounds a great place to overnight, but also get a cheap meal, souvenirs and be secure.  

Casino campground in California

The larger and modern casinos which offer their own RV parks are normally designed for Big Rigs as the goal of the casino is to keep you there. They don’t want you to have to unhook, so sites are long and wide and usually the pad is concrete and level. And since most casinos are in remote areas, they know you don’t want to feel too isolated and often offer Cable or Sat TV in addition to high-speed WiFi. Overnight rates that would often run into $60-70 at other campgrounds may be as little as $20 at a casino campground! In fact, we have stayed at some that were less than $20 and received additional nights of camping free! There was one we even stayed at for 10 days (all the amenities, plus a pool and tennis court) and it cost under $100. Although casino campgrounds do have limits to the length of stay allowed.

Smaller casinos (especially those in the Western US) may not have a RV park, but might offer an area for RVers to camp away from other casino patrons. We have seen areas simply fenced off that have water and electric and allow RVers to stay overnight free or for a few dollars. The only concern we have in this type of situation is how often the casino’s security patrols the area. We had visited one in Arizona with this type of camping area and it did not interest us at this particular location. However, most are patrolled regularly and some even have a guard-house nearby the designated camping area.

Some casinos don’t have a RV park or area for camping, yet allow overnight parking. If you aren’t sure if they allow overnight parking, you should contact the casino first. Even if you’ve purchased a casino camping directory or visited a casino camping website, you should verify it with the casino as policies can change at any time and special rules may apply.

Casino campground in Louisiana

If you find yourself overnighting in a casino parking lot, you should follow the rules of overnight parking. And, you should be especially considerate of where you park at a casino. Don’t take too many spaces, yet make sure you allow a proper distance between you and your RV neighbor. If there are no other RVs there when you arrive, remember you are setting the standard!

If the casino has special instructions for overnighting (such as providing your license/vehicle information or obtaining a window tag ) make sure you tend to that right away. They may also have additional information about how long you can stay and they may also have their own policy/rules regarding blacktop boondocking.

Some casinos may not allow overnighting (especially those which offer RV parks). If they don’t allow it and you just want to patronize the casino for a few hours, contact security or customer service and let them know you are in the facility and are not planing to boondock.

Camping by a casino in Nevada... where are we? Oh yeah, way back there! 😉

 Even if you are not planing on gambling, there are other ways to patronize casinos. Many offer not only buffets, but also cafe, speciality and formal dining restaurants. Some of the best pizza we’ve gotten has been from casino eateries! 😉 A growing number of casinos offer special performances and  shows (sometimes tickets are reduced or free for folks staying with them) , spa and hair salons, gift shops, gas stations and convenience stores.

And some have set up reward systems so that if you sign up for a free players card, you earn points for free items or discounts. In California, several of the casinos we stopped at had discounted fuel for those with players cards! And if you had earned points on it from playing, shopping or eating at the casino, you got more of a discount.

So the next time you see a casino, you may want to consider giving casino camping a try. You never know, they may have a buffet, free tee-shirt or discounted fuel just waiting for you. 😉

 If you haven’t been taking advantage of the free admission at over 300 U.S. National Parks, then don’t fret! National Park Week continues on through April 24, 2011. 🙂

Find a park near you at: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm

Hoh Rainforest - Olympic National Park

Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City, California is well worth a visit! The lighthouse is actually on a small island just offshore. The lighthouse is only open (during season) when the tide permits folks to “walk” over. On our first visit we actually missed it, but fortunately there are so many other scenic sites in the area, that we had no problem returning later in the day. 🙂

NOTE: Information and driving directions to Battery Point Lighthouse can be found at: http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=58

Most RV resorts and campgrounds have a listing of rules that Campers are to follow. Unfortunately some parks don’t have posted rules, while others just don’t enforce the rules they have. Good neighbors follow the park rules and respect their fellow RV Neighbors. However, not all folks are mindful. Here’s a brief list from campground “horror” stories I’ve heard… Something for everyone to keep in mind as “Camping Season” begins.

Good Neighbors

Wave, nod or say “Hi” when they see you out

Follow park rules

See you or a neighbor needs help and offers it

Are mindful of your site space

Bad Neighbors

Slams cupboards, drawers, doors – constantly, at all hours

Leaves outside TV or radio on all day (and night) whether they are there or not

Park on your site space or allow their visitors to

Drive a golf cart, scooter or other motorized vehicle around your site

Run their generator for several hours without reason

Intentionally build a large “tower” fire with flames and smoke heading toward your site

“Borrow” your ladder and/or water hose while you are gone for the day

Ugly Neighbors

Have the entire contents of their RV on their site or pad

Throw their garbage outside… and it never seems to make the designated trash bin or curb for pick-up

Erect a series of fencing or cages for their animals to stay outside (not always dogs, as in the case of the pot-bellied pigs…)

Haven’t had their RV washed in several years

 

 

Somewhere in Oregon... I think... 😉

 

1) Do you live in a RV for 12 months out of the year?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO… you must live in a house, apartment or condo for a portion of the year. Sorry, but you aren’t a Full-Time RVer. You are just a Seasonal RVer. But don’t worry, there is hope for you yet! 🙂

2) Do you have a rental storage facility or a place where you keep items too large or numerous to store in your RV?

If you answered NO, continue below. If you answered YES… then you are not yet ready to be a Full-Time RVer. You can tell people you are a Full-Timer, but deep down, you really aren’t ready to part with the holiday decorations, extra clothes, “cool” 70s furniture or stuff you bought at yard sales the last 30 years…If you sit down and calculate the current resale value of the items you have in storage and your monthly/annual storage bill, you may find yourself making a trip to the local flea market to sell those “costly” treasures. With the storage gone, you’ll have the money to get those wheels moving and be one step closer to being a real Full-Timer.

3) If you made it this far, CONGRATS! You are a Full-Timer! But let’s see how devoted you are to the lifestyle… Do you periodically find yourself wondering which state you are in?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO, it sounds like you may be a Full-Timer who is stuck in the same area. Don’t forget that RVs come with wheels!

4) Can you remember the last time you visited an airport (to fly somewhere) or the last time you slept in a hotel?

If you answered NO, you are a real Full-Time RVer! CONGRATS! If you answered YES… don’t let any other Full-Timers know or they’ll tease you! 😉

We recently saw the Tall Ship Peacemaker that has been docked for a couple weeks in Panama City. After several years of Full-Timing (and enjoying every minute of it), we actually discussed what it would be like to trade in the rig for a boat… Hmm… guess we wouldn’t have to worry about pull-thrus! 😉

If you’ve ever stayed at a campground or RV resort over a holiday or for an extended period of time, odds are the park put on a potluck. For some a potluck is the perfect way to display their culinary talents, while for others it is a nightmare trying to figure out what to bring. 😉

We’ve been to potlucks where folks just ended up bringing a loaf of bread (or in one case, 10 slices) or a container of margarine because they didn’t cook/bake or just didn’t have a special potluck dish to make.

Most parks have an activity director (in season) or a volunteer oversee the event. Parks that require prior registration and/or ticket may have a sign-up sheet indicating what is needed or a list of categories (ie. salad, dessert) to mark down what folks intend on bringing.

Several years ago I found myself signing up for a potluck and, quite frankly, I can cook with the help of box directions, I just would rather not. 😉 But I had planned on attending by myself and I needed to take an item that would serve at least ten people.

I came up with a little appetizer idea that would be easy to store in a small RV refrigerator and if I had any left, would give me something to snack on for a few days. Surprisingly, my idea was a success and I had nothing left! Since then I have made these for a few other occasions and there were just as successful.

1 –  8 oz. Philadelphia Salmon Cream Cheese Spread

1 – 6 ct. Mission Foods 10” Sun-dried Tomato Wraps

AND

1 – 8 oz. Philadelphia Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese Spread

1 – 6 ct. Mission Food 10” Garden Spinach Wraps

Container of party toothpicks

Lay out spinach wrap and spread a generous amount of salmon spread to the edges of the wrap. Roll up wrap and hold roll in place by inserting toothpicks every inch. Slice sections between toothpick sections. Repeat with remaining wraps.

These can be stored in the refrigerator in storage baggies a day before the potluck. Right before the event, neatly arrange appetizers on a plate or serving tray. Make sure to wrap the plate or tray with plastic wrap so the wraps stay fresh. This makes about 15 servings.

Any leftovers can be stored in a baggie in the refrigerator. They make great snacks and last for a couple days.

But if you want to try your hand on something fancy, there are several websites that offer recipes, such as: http://www.potluckrecipes.net/ . 🙂

 Just a quick reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV!

 And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot those yearly check-ups that usually get overlooked unless you are putting your rig in storage or winterizing it.

 Hope 2011 brings you safe travels! 🙂

IN MY SITES: A Campground Mystery (Book #4)

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