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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.
If you have ever seen “Haunted Collector” on the SyFy Channel, then you probably recognize Pythian Castle. This historic landmark is located in Springfield (MO) and can be toured. They offer historic and haunted tours.
This unusual structure was built by the Knight of Pythias in 1913 as an orphanage and senior home. In the 1940s, the government took over the property for injured WWII vets. A lot of “souls” have visited this landmark.
If you find yourself near Springfield and want to stop for a tour – be advised that Pythian Castle is located near the downtown area and streets are narrow for wide-turning RVs. Although there is ample parking at the castle, you would be better off just taking a tow vehicle.
For information on tours and times, visit their website at: http://www.pythiancastle.com
Have you pulled into a campground advertised as “Big Rig Friendly” only to arrive and see a maze of overgrown trees and sharp turns? Or perhaps you were lured in by the promises of “Free WiFi”… until you found out that the wireless service only extended to two campsites – both of which were already occupied by permanent residents?
Normally we gumble to other RVers and put a big X across their listing in our campground directories so that we know to avoid that campground next trip. Yet the last year of travel has left us with two directories filled with big X’s and seriously questioning the standards campground directories have.
One of the campgrounds we recently stopped at in Biloxi, MS was advertised as “Big Rig Friendly” with pull-thru sites. After passing the campground twice (they had 2 sets of directions in both directories and naturally both were wrong – as well as the omission that the campground entrance was wedged in-between two businesses along a busy highway). Once we did find our way, we were rather taken back by the appearance. This “campground” appeared to be a mobile home park with no RVs or RV spaces in sight. Although it was difficult to be sure as there were so many large trees that it blocked the sun and our headlights came on! After driving around half of the park, trying to avoid trees and keep low-lying limbs from damaging our roof, we found the office only to be “greeted” by a woman who told us within five minutes of conversation that she hated working there. Then after she escorted us to their Big Rig pull-thru, we had to tell her no. The site was on a grade and not even close to being level. We figured it would take all our blocking (and more) to even keep the door open. Not to mention the two trees that would have prevented our slides from coming out!
Another one we stopped at in Marianna, FL sounded peaceful and a good place to stay for a day or two. That was until we pulled up to the office “Stop” sign and an extremely rude woman came out saying who had to move off the road (it was a two-way road and there was no parking anywhere in sight) so that her residents could get out. We weren’t in anyone’s way and there was no one coming at the time. Then while we were trying to figure out how to leave, a car headed out on this two-way road and she flagged them down and they stopped beside us. We figured a way to turn around and leave, but now she had this vehicle blocking our path to turn around. After they left she returned her attention to us and had the nerve to ask us what we wanted! Somewhat reluctantly we asked if they had any big rig sites (as advertised) for the night. She said there was and pointed to a wooded area. We couldn’t see any RVs in the area and asked if we could see the site first as we are long and have 4 slides, one of which is a double-room. She said, and I quote her directly, “Oh, you can’t take that thing back there.” When I questioned if we couldn’t get our rig back there to look that must mean we wouldn’t fit in the first place, she ignored me and started off on how people with 45’ rigs towing boats and cargo trailers had been back there. So we just started up the truck again and left her standing there. It’s folks like that we encourage more of us to overnight at truck stops and Walmart parking lots!
Campgrounds may have “Big Rig” sites, but that does not make navigating the campground “Big Rig Friendly”. Dodging trees and low-lying limbs and turning corners on narrow streets (especially with obstacles like little street lamps, fixed trash bins and concrete curbing) is not “Big Rig Friendly” – it’s a nightmare. Especially if you have been on the road all day and eager to set up and rest!
There needs to be some national standard in campground directories. The days of rating a campground on how clean its shower house is just aren’t enough for modern RVers. We need someone to set some guidelines for these campgrounds, especially those who are using terms such as “Big Rig Friendly” and the promise of WiFi so loosely.
Until then, we will continue X-ing our way through the country and warning other RVers of those campgrounds.
If you have been in a campground, especially during a flag-holiday, you have probably seen those rotating PVC-pipe flag poles. Lately we have been seeing 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 not, here is a link with directions: http://www.missouriscenicrivers.com/PVCflagpoleplans.html
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, we remove our flag pole during rain and wind storms.
NOTE: If you have designed your own and would like to email me a photo to post here, I would be happy to include it along with your name and information. 🙂
For those smart enough not to cancel their reservation along the Florida Gulf this summer – they were in for a treat. Most of the summer saw warm temps, sunny days and plenty to do without a lot of crowds!
One of the things we enjoyed doing the last several weeks is visit some of the “forgotten” lighthouses along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Within an 80-mile stretch off of Highway 98, you can visit four spectacular lighthouses. Starting westward at Port St. Joe, there is Cape San Blas lighthouse. There is a fee if you would like to climb it.
After returning to Highway 98 and heading eastward, you are in for a treat on your journey to Cape St. George lighthouse on St. George Island. This lighthouse is visible from the bridge and has a wonderful park and keeper’s cottage. There is also a fee to climb this lighthouse.
Heading eastward on Highway 98 once again (okay, maybe after we had ice cream cones across the street from the Cape St. George lighthouse), we found ourselves enjoying the view so much we actually drove by the Crooked River lighthouse just west of Carrabelle. So make sure you pay attention to the historic signs and banners as you approach Carrabelle. This lighthouse has a cute little museum and a wonderful gift shop. There is a fee to climb it, however you can only climb it on certain days.
After Crooked River lighthouse, continue eastward to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The lighthouse is actually inside the refuge and the main road actually dead-ends at the lighthouse. There is day-use fee for admission through the refuge. You can only climb the lighthouse during special events. However, there is an observation deck which gives you an amazing view of the area and great photos ops (like the photo I took above).
If planning to visit all these amazing lighthouses in one day, I recommend you leave early in the morning so you have ample time to visit the lighthouse gift shops and museums. If you intend to climb, wear sturdy walking shoes or sneakers. Most lighthouses have strict policies regarding open-toed shoes and sandals.
This is Florida and even folks in the best shape will find themselves breathless on a lighthouse climb. Take your time and if anyone in your party is not climbing, give them your purse or backpack to help lighten your load. Stopping at windows (especially open ones), can give you a nice rest stop. Just be mindful of the rules regarding right-of-way for stairwell traffic.
If you are staying west of Port. St. Joe, don’t forget that all these lighthouses are in the Eastern Standard Time Zone.
PLEASE NOTE: There is no parking at any of these locations to handle a RV. You could take a smaller motorhome to St. Marks and Cape St. George, however, you may find parking and turn-around space limited during busy times.
Detailed information and driving directions to these lighthouses can be found at a great website called Lighthouse Friends. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/
In all our years Full-Timing, I don’t think we’ve ever had to pack and re-pack as much as we’ve had to this winter. For instance, the last few days it has went from air-condition to furnace conditions – and oh yeah – throw in two days of sleet!
And just when you don’t think you need that winter jacket and place it under the bed storage area and dig out those souvenir tee-shirts again… well, Mother Nature pulls a fast-one. For those who live in a RV – you know how it is with the clothing storage situation!
So our winter in Texas has proven to keep us busy watching the Weather channel! 😉
Yet somehow I have managed to get all my camp reviews typed and photos organized and ready to post. I’ll be doing that soon… Updating some links and adding a few suggested by RVers. If you have some you’d like to share, feel free to comment here or email me with them.
And to those who have emailed or messaged me at RV groups – yes, I’m still alive! A little chilly now and then, but still going! 😉
Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road…
— Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”
Well, it seems like only yesterday we pulled the rig into our winter home site… oh yes, it was only yesterday! 🙂
After a very very busy summer and a rather exciting haul to Texas, I find myself falling behind in everything from silly forwards clogging the inbox to posting here. I apologize to those who emailed me with “Where are you?” and “Did you give up RVing?” emails. It’s just been a rather busy year. Quite frankly, I’m surprised we are already headed for December and 2010!
So I promise to post more in the weeks ahead. After all, you need to know about our crazy search for RV tires, our disappointment in Camping World (the one in Roanoke), tropical storm Ida and all the latest campground news!
I also will try to get caught up on campground reviews and posting photos. And for those who wanted more “inside” information on workamping – I’ll be sure to post more pieces regarding the lifestyle.
Meanwhile, I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday! 🙂
Every day there is a mention in the news about the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu). It has spread throughout the entire US and the number of cases is on the rise. Apparently the virus can linger on surfaces for five to seven days.
The past few weeks I’ve been seeing people allowing their children to run in-and-out of public restrooms bare-footed, snotty-nosed children touching everything in sight, adults sneezing into their hands and then open doors and a handful of unsanitary scenes.
Campgrounds, RV parks and resorts are not immune to the spread of disease. Here are some things you can do to protect your family from disease while staying at your favorite campgrounds.
First of all, don’t go camping if you or a family member is sick. Sleeping on the ground in a tent will not make them feel better. Or crowding them in a RV with others will only put the entire family at risk for sickness.
Use hand sanitizer! Make sure you have a small bottle for each person. The best kind to have is the ones that require no water. Each time a family member handles public items (door knobs, trash can lids…), make sure he or she wipes their hands with sanitizer or a wipe.
Use facial tissue! When you are finished, make sure you put it in the trash. Don’t leave it lay on counters or throw it on the floor. Make sure it goes into the trash receptacle. If it is your trash receptacle – remember to empty it regularly and spray the receptacle with Lysol or clean it with some disinfectant.
If you are a RVer try not to rely on public restrooms. Some RVers don’t like using their own bathroom because of the size, the extra work required in dumping the tank or they don’t want to pay for sewer hook-ups. If this is the case, then make sure you are wearing shoes (surprisingly, most public restroom floors are not sanitary) and have your own handi-wipes in your purse, pocket or shower bag and use them. Do not rely on the campground’s restrooms to have filled soap containers or even hot water. I am surprised when I do come across a fully-stocked restroom these days.
And if you are using a campground’s restroom and shower facilities, don’t harass the folks cleaning it! If the building is closed for cleaning, ask them where other facilities are located. You wouldn’t believe what workampers and housekeepers put up with. Some Campers get rather rude when the restrooms are closed for cleaning. Yes, it may be a temporary inconvenience, but a person cleaning them is a good thing!
Another thing to watch the sanitation practices in the campground’s café, snack bar or restaurant. If your cashier seems sickly or is propped up on the counter picking their nose… If you see the cook walk out of the restroom wearing his or her apron…. Well, you’re better off eating in your camper or throwing some burgers on the grill. Keep your eyes posted for potential problems. And if you can, call them out on it. Alert the campground manager that you saw the cook going into the restroom wearing an apron or the cashier pick his nose and handle food, etc… It could save someone’s life!
Teach your children to use sanitizer, handi-wipes and facial tissue. Make sure they understand how important it is to prevent the spread of germs – especially in areas like restrooms, playgrounds, water parks and arcades.
A few days ago I was in a public restroom and a small child came up to me stating the sinks didn’t work. I had to show the little one that they weren’t “smart” sinks, they didn’t know we were there wanting to wash our hands. We often forget that children have learned to wave their hands and water or paper towels suddenly appear. They don’t know that not all public restrooms have “smart” technology. So make sure you accompany your children into the restroom to help them wash up properly.
These are just a few ways to protect your family while camping. With reports increasing on those who will become infected (and die) from the H1N1 virus, we all have to use a little more common sense to stop the spread.
Many folks have re-discovered the fun in camping, while others are exploring their “own backyard” – just travelling a few hours away from home.
With limited vacation time or funds, many Campers have figured how to make the most of both. Many are either taking one day off a week and taking their scheduled days off – such as the weekend – to make a nice 3-4 day camping trip each month or every two weeks. This not only breaks up the summer, but stretches out the vacation time all summer.
Multiple stays at the same campground doesn’t have to be boring. Take advantage of local sites and attractions and make a series of day-trips. Driving an hour or so from your campground can be like a mini-vacation in itself!
If you stay at the same campground or RV resort, you may find yourself eligible for a “repeat” or “multiple stay” discount. Some campgrounds offer 10% or more off on their regular Campers. And many campgrounds offer discounts for extended stays that could save you hundreds of dollars!
If you have family and friends that enjoy camping, see if the campground offers group discounts and family camping areas. If they have family or group areas (for multiple families), you may find it cheaper to divide the cost among the families than to each rent a campsite individually.
If you have children, finding family campgrounds or RV parks that offer activities will benefit both you and your children. Parks such as Jellystone offer many free activities – from wagon rides and movies to crafts and dances. Low-cost activities such as bingo, mini-golf, water slides and ceramics are available at most family-friendly parks.
Make the most of your summer vacation, despite limited time and funds. Go camping… again and again! 🙂
No, it’s not Stonehenge… it’s Foamhenge. Just a few miles off I-81 in Natural Bridge, Virginia you’ll do a double take when you drive by this foam replica. You just never know what you’re going to see from your RV! 🙂
I have been noticing a number of RVer forums and billboards with flaming posts about digital conversion. Some folks are even saying that it will not bother RVers because all campgrounds have Cable TV (this is not true) or that RV TVs are already equipped for this (again, not necessarily true). This is an issue for everyone who has older TVs and those without additional services, such as Cable or Satellite, and does indeed effect many RVers.
What is Digital TV?
Digital TV involves advanced broadcasting technology that will allow broadcasting stations to offer better sound and picture quality, as well as multicasting ability. Multicasting means the bit stream can be split offering more than one channel. That’s a mouthful, but basically it means a broadcaster can offer more channels.
I have an older TV that I refuse to part with (it has a built in DVD player that I love) and I had to purchase a digital converter box as most of the campgrounds we stay at are not located in areas with Cable TV. I currently pick up a San Antonio channel on box channel 5.1. Multicasting has allowed the broadcasters to turn 5.2 into a local weather channel. Another example is I get a local religious channel on 23.1. The following channel 23.2 is a religious children’s channel. After that, channel 23.3 and 23.4 are religious movie and educational channels. Instead of one channel “23”, I get four channels from this broadcaster. The same with the Spanish channels (one for news, one for Soaps, one for movies). Now this is on our regular RV TV antenna, plus my digital converter box. This is not Cable TV! Right now I get twenty-six channels on my TV with the digital converter box. Before I hooked up the digital converter box, I only received four local (analog) channels at this campground!
There are a few different types of Digital TV, but the most common is Standard, Enhanced and High Definition (HDTV). My converter box is just a SDTV (Standard). It’s not the best quality of the bunch, but quite honestly, I can’t tell the difference between my SDTV and our HDTV!
More information on this can be found at http://www.dtv.gov/index.html.
Digital Converter Box and Antennas
For RVers with newer TVs, you don’t have to do anything. Your TV should be ready for digital. Dig out your owner’s manual or flip through your TV menu and see what options you have. Some TVs are simple, some may involve some reading. Our living room TV (that came with the fifth-wheel) is a flat-screen HDTVand is rather intimidating. It has us digging out the manual just to autoscan channels!
If you are like me and dragged your old TV into your RV, then you will need a converter box. This is no different than hooking up a VCR and if you follow the steps in the manual, you should be watching Digital TV in a matter of minutes.
I was amazed at the features my little Magnavox converter has! I now am able to display a TV guide, digital closed caption and a handful of other great options. Since the digital transition is still taking place, some channels are not operating at full strength, so I do have to autoscan for channels every few days. I’ve picked up a couple more since I hooked up the converter. And as you would every time you move to another campground, you will have to run autoscan to pick up local channels.
Most converters are running $40 to $70. I recently saw a pallet full at Wal-Mart for $29. There is a TV Converter Box Coupon Program, but they have run out of coupons. There is a waiting list and with the delay in the switch to DTV, you may have a chance to obtain one. (Go to https://www.dtv2009.gov/ for more information on this coupon program). Even if you do obtain a $40 coupon, you must use it within ninety days of receiving it and you must pay all taxes on the box. I bought mine in California and with local and state taxes it was almost $9 (out-of-pocket) for a $40 converter box with the $40 coupon.
You need a converter box for each TV. So if you have two TVs in your RV and both of them are not DTV-ready, you will need two boxes. If you get involved with the coupon program, you are allowed two coupons ($40 for each) and that can help reduce the cost.
If most of the campgrounds you stay at do have Cable TV or SATV, then you may not want to worry about. You can still hookup your TV to a VCR, DVD player or use it for gaming. If you have reliable internet access, you can watch most of your favorite shows online. Several sites, like Hulu ( www.hulu.com ) post TV shows several days after the show’s original airdate. Some networks, like Fox, post them the next day on their own website. I often watch TV (and movies) online and prefer the lack or reduced frequency of commercials!
RV antennas are not the greatest, but again, if you stay at campgrounds outside major areas, you should still be able to pick up major networks. We have been touring Eastern Texas the past three months and have been fortunate to be near larger cities (San Antonio, Austin and Houston) and haven’t had problems picking up digital signals. I still get channels without the converter on, but boy, the picture is so much prettier on digital! Now snow or lines with the digital converter box. I can see Judge Judy as plain as day! 😉
If you are a RVer and have an older TV or are not staying at a campground with Cable TV or SATV, then you will be without TV reception after the digital transition takes place. Hooking up a digital converter box only takes a few minutes and will transform your snowy analog channels into clear digital ones.