First Time Meeting People from the Internet

It’s a funny thing to meet people who you have only gotten to know on the internet and something neither Lee or I have ever done before.  I will say it has been an awesome experience, but you have to leave what you think you know about a person from what they right and get to really know them as n the flesh people.  Some folks are exactly the same as you pictured them and others are different…not bad just different.  We spent last night and today meeting so many people who I have been talking to in the forums and it has been really wonderful. Usually in every couple there is a one person who posts and another who gets told to read certain posts lol.  In our little group it’s been mostly women doing the posting but the guys that do post are extremely knowledgeable and active.  One of my favorites is Red and he and his wife got to come when they took the spot of a last-minute cancellation.  Red and Pam have been camping for years, but just started full-timing when they both retired.  Lee and I just immediately felt so comfortable with both of them.  They are very kind and helpful but are careful to say they don’t know everything….I think they do but appreciate the humbleness 🙂  One quick story to tell you what kind of people they are…we had told ourselves the very first thing we would buy was a surge protector…because we had heard horror stories about folks who didn’t have one and lost their entire electrical systems in a storm.  Did we buy a surge protector first…nope..why because they  are very expensive and there were more fun things to buy.  So we get to the campground and the mother of all storms is coming in…tornado warning, flood warning, and heavy thunderstorms.  It’s 7pm when we realized we had a serious problem and decided we would have to unplug everything all night…not the greatest prospect.  Red leaned over to Lee and quietly whispered “I have an extra one you can borrow.”  He didn’t make a big deal about it…as a matter of fact he went out of his way to say it quietly and then took Lee and gave him a rundown of what he recommended us buying and why.  Long story short the next morning we drove to camping world and bought exactly what Red told us to buy…and yes it was extremely expensive (around $800 with the Good Sam discount)  but replacing the electrical system can run $2500.  You have those moments in life when God/universe  puts the right person in front of you at just the right time…and I really believe this was one of those moments.  Ok so this is what Lee bought…one is a surge protector and the other is a voltage regulator.  The surge protector stops the electrical system from getting fried and the voltage regulator “boosts” the power you are getting from campsites with low voltage.  It’s really cool how it does it.  It takes in juice and holds it and then adds to it so you always have the correct amount of power.  Power drops can hurt your TV and computer and this stops that from happening.  Think tape delay when watching a live television event 🙂

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We also met several other couples who are our age and who  just bought new 5th wheels or Class A’s.  I had been communicating with many of the wives online because we all were asking similar questions and going through the same things at the same time.  We totally bonded over the RV-Dream forum topics and meeting in person solidified that.        Some of my favorites so far are Kelly and Bill (screen name Jersey Girl),Jo and Ben (Jo and Ben)  Cori and Greg (bylandandsea), Linda and Scott (Liberty Linda), Jo and Craig (Mary Sunshine),  and Debbie and Steve (Debbie M).  In addition to folks I “knew” we have met several other been doing this a long time… couples such as Greg and Sue and Neil and Connie.  Plus when you meet people you get to see the insides of their rigs which is awesome for great ideas on how to maximize storage space.  Pam had put tension rods up high in her shower to hang towels on and we LOVED that idea and have already copied it in ours.  thanks Pam!!!

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After spending the day meeting people on our own we finally registered for the actual educational rally.  The introduction was fantastic and Linda had everyone organized and having fun in no time.  Howard and Linda (RV-Dreams) have been traveling the country for the last 9 years and they host and teach at these rally’s.  Linda had everyone stand up in different categories…do you own a Class A, Do you own a Fifth Wheel, who came the farthest etc…which not only got everyone involved but allowed people in the group to see who they might want to talk to.  Many people haven’t bought an RV yet and are staying in a cabin or nearby hotel and Linda made a point to ask those of us who had RV’s to invite folks back during lunch to see our rigs.   She did a VERY good job getting people loosened up and then we all played a game where one representative at every table was a jockey in the Kentucky derby.  I have run a couple large training seminars and the logistics are crazy…Linda was awesome at corralling 150 head strong people in a fun way with a very personal touch.

Howard and Linda

Howard and Linda

 

 

 

 

Kentucky Derby Game

Kentucky Derby Game

We headed back to our site around 9 thinking it was time for a good nights sleep and then Bill and Kelly came by walking their dog and we all sat and talked until 11pm 🙂  We are usually in bed really early so for us that was a late night and we had such a wonderful conversation it was hard to go to bed.  Can’t wait for tomorrow when the classes start…yes I know I am a geek but can’t wait to post more lessons learned 🙂

Lessons Learned

  • No seriously buy the surge protector first
  • Invest in a voltage regulator
  • Go to a Rally you meet the nicest people
  • Meeting people from the internet can be really cool (yes I know we are late to this party but better late than never!!)

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First Time Traveling Long Distances – Bristol, Indiana

Back on the road… Sorry to leave the farm behind and a little nervous about trying to book travel as we go. I have read many posts about how folks don’t book their campsite until very close to the location… Many times just driving in and seeing what they have available. I wanted to give this a try as the allure is maximum freedom, but have been nervous about it all going horribly wrong since before we started the trip. We knew today would be a long day, as we had to get through Chicago. The idea was to follow the GPS and try to squeeze through avoiding rush hour traffic. Might have worked too, but a truck was broken down in the middle lane on the outer belt, leading to a traffic delay that had us hitting Friday afternoon rush hour. Not good :(. Lee and I have been switching off driving every two hours or so, which is working much better, and he got stuck with most of the Chicago traffic. He was a trooper though and while we were creeping along I started to look for campsites.

There aren’t any campsites close to Chicago, so I started looking around Gary, In. Unfortunately Notre Dame was a home game on Saturday and the campgrounds were treating it as a holiday weekend with a minimum 2 day stay. I think I dealt with the curve ball pretty well though, and we decided we would just need to go a little farther down the road. I found Eby’s Pines  Campground in Bristol, Indiana…right off route 80 with an off-season price of $37 per night. I didn’t want to risk just showing up, and I was glad I didn’t because the office closed at 8pm. The lady who checked me in over the phone was extremely nice, stating if we were late they would tape our pass and map to the office door.

Once out of Chicago I took my turn driving and we realized we were closer than we thought because right before Bristol we passed the time zone change and lost an hour. Still fewer miles is good and we made it by 7:30 right when we lost our light. The same woman was at the desk and she was very helpful and we went over to site 172. Lee had never setup the outside totally in the dark, but he got the head lamp out and got started. Unfortunately there was no water near the sewer pipe on this site and he had to stretch the hose to the site next to us. Thank heavens we carry extra hose, because the office was closed by the time we knew we had a problem. A really nice man at the site next to ours came over and offered his assistance and then invited us to hangout at their campfire. Great vibe at the campground with quiet laughter and lots of campfires surrounding us, but because of the water issue and extreme closeness of the sites have to rate it 2 out of 5 pinecones. Still worked good for a quick overnight.

I situated the inside pretty quick and then started the fire in the dark. I had thawed chicken and knew it would take a while to cook. Luckily, I had been hanging onto some instant rice which tasted great with the BBQ chicken and some slaw I threw together. Very filling and relatively easy. We were exhausted at this point and went to bed. Tomorrow is another travel day and hopefully less stressful.

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t drive through Chicago at rush hour
  • Use you Gas Buddy app to check gas prices well in advance.  They could vary as much as 50 cents per gallon state to state
  • Carry extra sewer hose
  • When booking campgrounds on the fly keep in mind the offices are not open 24/7 like a hotel
  • Check for local events around where you think you might say, could impact availability and price

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First Time Staying on a Farm

Tuesday we drove to Luck, WI, which is a very small town of about 1000 people. Our daughter Katy’s boyfriends family lives outside of town on a farm and offered to let us stay on their land. I was a bit nervous as this would be our first time camping on someone’s property. As we got off the interstate, Katy had warned us to be careful of deer and she wasn’t kidding! At one point 3 deer crosses the road in front of us and we had to slow to a crawl. The sun was setting which made visibility poor and we were navigating by GPS coordinates so things were a bit tense. Then I saw a bald eagle on the side of the road eating a dead deer. Amazing, it was so huge and I wanted to stop and get a picture but we were seriously losing the light at this point and pushed on. When we made it to the long driveway it was country dark… With no moon but lots of stars. Katy and her boyfriend Micah and his parents Jim and Linda rushed out to greet us and it was hugs all around. What a wonderful welcome after a long day on the road.

Jim offered to park the trailer next to his barn and Lee quickly took him up on the offer. He parked it neatly and in no time we were hooked up to their water and power and partially deployed. Linda held dinner for us, so we ate pork roast, potatoes, carrots, and bread. I have to stop here and say Linda and Jim are the most hospitable people I have ever stayed with and they fed us WELL. Almost everything they cook is raised on the farm and there is nothing like fresh, wholesome home-grown food. Plus they are serious foodies and everything was spiced with farm grown herbs. All I can say is wow. We stayed up talking until I was so sleepy I had to call it a night and was sound asleep in about 2 seconds flat.

The next morning we woke up before the roosters. In the field next to our site, they have game hens and a pen on laying hens with 4 young roosters so were forewarned about the farm alarm clock. Lee’s an early riser and was proud he beat the roosters. We finished setting up and enjoyed the beautiful morning sunrise. Katy came over as soon as we were up and we spent some time catching up with our beautiful and feisty daughter. Linda came over and let us know she was making breakfast and French toast and sausage followed. So good. I started to feel a bit guilty about all the meals, but Linda really wanted to feed us and we were more than happy to keep eating 🙂

Jim took the day off work (a rare occurrence) just to hang out with us and gave us a tour of the farm. Jim and Linda have 27 acres, and his brother Mike and his wife Barb work the acres next door as part of a non-profit sustainable farm they run. The farm is called Ananoth Community Farm and supplies vegetables for a local co-op. The brothers also have 4 cows, 4 pigs, and tons of chickens which they use for their own needs along with selling the excess to friends and neighbors. One of the coolest thing is Mike and Barb have interns from nearby colleges come and stay and work the farm. There is a separate bunk house for the interns and they work and learn about sustainable farming. Barb was also teaching some of them how to can and make homemade Applesauce … Yum. Even thought they were deep in the potato harvest, Mike took the time to answer my million questions about how he kept the plants so healthy without pesticides. One of the neatest things was that they plant eggplants as a throwaway crop to keep the bugs off the potatoes. I guess eggplants taste better… Genius.

It was a lovely 3 days with great conversation, great food, and capped off by an impromptu concert by the brothers and their wives around our campfire one night. Beautiful music sung by absolutely beautiful people and I am very grateful that I got to experience it. It truly was difficult to leave and I can’t wait to come back for a longer visit in the future.

Lessons Learned

  • Staying with friends is great
  • Water and electric from a barn works perfectly
  • Farm fresh food really does taste so much better
  • Fresh herbs are amazing

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First Time Traveling Long Distances – Joliet, IL

Got up this morning and left for Joliet, IL. It was weird to not stop and stay In Columbus, but we were excited about continuing our road trip. Couple of things about Indiana… The roads really suck. Super bouncy and ill maintained. But there are tons of RV dealers everywhere you go. It was hard not to stop and look. Tom Raper in Richmond, IN seems to be the biggest dealer, but there were lots of others. We made need to bargain shop out this way when we buy our 5th wheel.   One other good thing about the drive was Indiana  flat and the mpg in the truck went up and gas was way cheaper.  Hooray for the Gas Buddy app.

We made it through some pretty intense traffic south of Chicago and landed at the Hollywood Casino in Joliet, IL.  Part of the purpose of this trip is to try things we have heard about but unfortunately things were pretty disappointing from the start. The casino was near an industrial area and although it was green the train sounds were pretty common. Also no fire ring. First time we ever saw that,  although a nice woman I spoke to who stays at casinos all the time says they rarely have them. Since Lee has been wanting to buy a portable fire ring and I have continually said we don’t need one… not so good for me. I had to say the dreaded “you were right and I was wrong”  🙂   Also it was $55 a night and although all the literature said that the sites had full services, when we got there,  no sewer hookup.  So we used a dump station for the first time.  The dump experience went pretty well.   I had read a lot about how nasty dump stations were, but it wasn’t so bad and we dumped before we parked and again the next morning. We filled up the gray tank completely in one day though…got to get a handle on our water usage.

We deployed pretty quickly and one thing I did like was every site has a concrete patio.  The patio allowed us to  quickly set up. It was quiet there too and I didn’t realize why until Lee said … said no kids. Makes sense no kids in a casino campground. It was neat and orderly with well-groomed grass, but definitely not our speed, although the older couple next to us said they like casino campgrounds  because they are very safe. They also said the bathrooms are very clean.   We talked about going to the buffet but it was 17.99 a person (no discount for staying on site or coupons available) and frankly I didn’t want to spend the money. We ate spaghetti instead,  which I had made at home in advance and frozen into camping size two people batches. Delicious and inexpensive. Finally we were settled so decided to go over to the casino.  It was incredibly lame. I wasn’t expecting Vegas, but for those prices, I expected more.  There were only a few blackjack tables open and although there were lots of slot machines none of my favorites. We took $40 out (paying $6 in ATM fees) and played for less than 30 minutes on $20 a piece. In Vegas I can play for an entire week on $20.   Love those nickel slots and high payouts 🙂  Very disappointed we left and went back to the camper and called it a night.

Even though it was a bust we did learn a lot. Casino camping is not always the bargain everyone says if is. Plus I absolutely know I don’t like tearing down and setting up in a new place everyday.  This every day moving is pretty wearing and luckily Lee agrees.  Can’t wait to get to Luck, WI and stay in one place for the day.

Lessons Learned

  • Casino campgrounds aren’t all they are cracked up to be
  • Indiana roads are super bouncy

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First Time Traveling Long Distances – Columbus, OH

This morning we woke up early, and decided to go watch the sun rise at Niagara Falls. With unwashed hair and pajama pants we drove over to the State Park.  It was fantastic. We didn’t have to pay the $10 for parking or deal with any crowds and a nice man took our picture for is. It was lovely and quiet, exactly what it should have been and I loved it. I know a lot of folks do things like this all the time, but for use venturing out on a whim un-showered and  is definitely NOT the norm. I don’t think Lee has ever done it in his life. That’s what is so amazingly awesome for us in being a camping couple. The more relaxed lifestyle has so many cool benefits and makes it clear what really matters in life.  See below for how happy we look 🙂

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As we traveled along to our hometown of Columbus, Ohio we discovered Gas Buddy is a fantastic app. We used it and found gas for 50 cents cheaper per gallon on the Seneca Reservation in NY. It also showed Erie, PA was 50 cents cheaper as well. When your filling up a 36 gallon tank, that is a significant difference.  Oh and the speed limit in Ohio is 70 now. That was nice! Lunch today for me is leftover hot dogs. The microwave doesn’t work without power but the gas stove does,  so a quick heat up in frying pan (along with sauerkraut of course) and I am good to go. Well not so good to go.. The best laid plans. First off I took a nap in the truck and woke up disoriented. Then the camper was parked so that the inside leaned quite a bit which made the experience similar to what I imagine eating lunch in a fun house would be like. Heating up the hot dogs worked well,  but we don’t have fresh water in the tank so no good way to clean the pan. I really need to spend some time thinking this through, but we are learning 🙂  

We had dinner at the in-laws along with my mom at Bob Evans and some nice conversation. It was fun to show everyone the camper in person.  We also parked the camper right outside my in-laws house so $0 for camping fees tonight 🙂  Next stop Hollywood Casino in Joliet, IL.

Lessons Learned

  • When you stop for lunch pick a flat place to park
  • Think ahead on how to clean your dishes and dispose of your trash after having a hot lunch
  • Niagara Falls is really neat first thing in the morning

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First Time at an RV Show

Lee and I had read so much about RV shows on the various forum that we decided to take a weekend and drive to the Hershey, PA RV Show which is one of the biggest RV show in the northeast.   I travel quite a bit for work so had some free hotel points available and the drive was only 6 hours for us, so it seemed like a fun way to see what was out there.  We have been talking about 5th wheels as the next logical step in our adventure and this would be a great way to see most of the available new models in person, plus I had read the seminars were really great and you could find neat vendor items that weren’t easily available anywhere else.    We were pretty excited (you would have thought we were kids going to Disney World) and we ended up getting up and on the road by 4 am.  The drive was fine and put us down at the park by 10:30 which was really good timing.

We bought a 3 day pass for $30, which was well worth it since we didn’t have to stand in the long line as much on Saturday and off we went.  Our strategy was to walk the aisles and look at floor plans, then pop into anything that looked interesting.  This was pretty important as the grounds were absolutely huge and walking up and down into the steps into the RV repetitively can play havoc with the knees.  We are still pretty young and in good shape, but 10 hours walking in a day is not part of our normal routine 🙂  I also am a little claustrophobic, which can be an issue when dealing with some models.  So Lee was kind enough to pop in, and then stick his head out and give me the nod if he thought it was worth going into.  This really was incredibly generous as he must have saved me the steps on at least 100 models.   We really like the floor plan where the living room is raised and in the front and we looked at this type by all the manufacturers (hence the 10 hours per day of walking) and also liked one floor plan where the rear was a living room with a door.  As we walked we realized what criteria mattered the most to us.

  • Price – we are not independently wealthy so anything above $70k was rejected out of hand (This may sound as a lot of money and certainly is, but we are considering this our vacation home and it would be tough to buy a condo in Florida for that money)
  • Weight – we are resigned to buying a larger truck but any weight over 18,000 and you are constantly watching what you carry.  I don’t want to vacation like that where you can’t boon dock in a national park because the fresh water you need weighs too much.  The models we liked were around 16,000 lbs which gives us an extra 5,000 lbs for stuff.
  • Separation – we love each other, been married for 25 years, but at times frankly we need to go to our separate corners.  Since I know in those situations Lee will grab the premium space, that leave me with the “other” area.  Unfortunately in 90% of the models this is a very small bedroom which is in front and not a great place (for me) to hang out
  • The feeling of claustrophobia.  I never realized I had an issue with this until we started looking at campers, but many models I walked in and walked right back out.  Kitchen islands for example (which are all the rage now) enhance the feeling of claustrophobia so any model with a kitchen island was out.  Low ceilings same thing, so any models with particularly low ceilings not possible.
  • Bathroom shower you can easily turn around in.  Don’t need a tub but the little seats so you can easily shave your legs a big deal.
  • Cabinet space in the bathroom.  So many models have almost none and the ones we liked had lots which was a huge plus.
  • Cabinets with full depth drawers.  I can’t tell you how many models we saw where you would see these fancy drawers and you would open them up and they would be shallow.  Made me crazy.

In short walking around was a great way to determine what really mattered and significantly reduced the choices.  We narrowed it down to 5 then 2 then finally 1.  The winner is the Open Ranger Roamer 386FLR .  Incredibly excited!!!

     

 

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Two cubbies with couches that become full beds which will be great if the girls all come to visit

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The TV hides behind the fireplace and there is a front window very rare

 

 

 

 

 

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A standard queen mattress will fit rather than a short queen.  The problem with short queens is you are stuck getting a RV specific mattress which are really expensive.

On the outside Lee loves that the propane tanks are 4 – 20# and they are on slide-out trays, the hard sewer case permanently attached and did I mention TONS of STORAGE.   We plan on trying seasonal camping next summer (leave your camper on the same site all season long) and the extra storage will allow us to avoid schlepping stuff back and forth.

In addition to seeing darn near every 5th wheel on the grounds, we also went to see some seminars.  I really enjoyed listening to the wisdom of folks who have been camping since the 1960’s and learned tons which I have shared in the lessons learned section below.  Combine all that with excellent meals at Bob Evans and Texas Roadhouse and we were VERY happy campers!!!  The only downsides were I had made arrangements to meet a couple I had “met” on RVForum.net (something I have never done before, but since every talks about meeting when they are at events together I decided to give it a try.  Despite tons of texts we were unfortunately unable to meet up which was a bummer.  Also we stayed in a Residence Inn using free points I had and it was a pretty crappy.   Normally I like Residence Inn’s but this one was not up to their usual standards.  … I should have known what I was in for when the clerk gave us room 113 on Friday the 13th 🙂  One positive thing though was I realized how much nicer it is to vacation in our camper then in a hotel and it really went a long way towards solidifying out decision.  I suppose in a way the universe was watching out for us.

Lessons Learned

Matching your truck to your trailer – Presenter Walter Cannon (on of the founders of RV Safety & Education Foundation)

  • Pulling and towing are two totally different things.  You can pull many trailers with many trucks but can you safely stop it at 70 mph??
  • GCWR = Gross Combined Weight Ratio
  • GVWR = Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio  (for a diesel truck this info is found in the diesel supplement of the owner’s manual)
  • GAWR = Gross Axle Weight Rating
  • Payload = weight trailer resting on the truck bed or hitch
  • Truck GVWR = base weight + options (ie: 4×4 weighs extra) + hitch + weight of passengers, firewood, tools, bikes, etc
  • The way I understood it (and I am by no means an expert)  the weight of a 5th wheel is essentially divided into thirds.  One third on the rear axle, one-third on the front axle, and one-third on the hitch pin (payload).   Your towing safety can be fine in one single area but not fine in another.  Indeed according to RV Safety.com, over 50% of the vehicles weighed are over weight.
  • When assessing your safety you MUST look at the weakest link and make sure ALL areas are safely rated.    RV  Safety weighs vehicles using full -time RV’ers across the country and will help provide an assessment.  In addition, we spoke to Peter from Ford at the event and he is VERY helpful in educating us about towing safety.   We met him in the safety seminar (which he used his lunch break to attend) and then talked to him later and he was absolutely amazing.    He worked with us once we picked the trailer to help us determine what Ford truck will work.  That being said, everyone (including  Walter and Peter) stated salespeople lie about this issue all the time.  Whether they are truck salespeople or RV salespeople, they often tell you the towing ratios are fine to make the sale.  The only way to be sure is to an independent source weigh both truck and front and rear of trailer and do an assessment.
  • Make sure you have a full tank of fuel when weighing the truck
  • Make sure you take into account the weight of a full tank of waste water (8 # for every gallon of waste water) and/or fresh water especially if you are planning on boon docking.
  • Finally, don’t listen to me on this.  Visit RVSafety.com and research with the experts.

Extended Living in an RV – Bob and Cheryl Marx

I was really curious as to what a “snow bird” couple would say about spending extended periods of time in an RV.  Since we are going seasonal next summer and thinking about maybe taking a two-week cross-country trip I was dying to hear the wife’s perspective.  Unfortunately Cheryl didn’t speak at all, but she did answer one-on-one questions at the end.  Some of this doesn’t apply to us, but I found it fascinating anyways and there were some awesome tips.  Well worth the hour and a half plus it was nice to sit for a while and take a break for all that walking.    

  • Prescription emergency options
  1. Local Pharmacist can mail them if they are not narcotics
  2. National chain’s will fill them in a remote location (Walmart, Walgreen, etc) as long as they are not narcotics
  • Check with the campground to see where the closest medical facilities are in case of emergency
  • Carry hard copy medical records with you if going on an extended trip.  Medical facilities will NOT accept electronic copies on a flash drive due to virus issues
  • Mail forwarding
    1. Give prepaid envelopes to a family member or neighbor and have them forward mail (cost roughly $5.50 a week
    2. Post office has a snow bird mail forwarding service $25 to sign-up and $15 a week
    3. Escapees Club out of TX offers a mail forwarding service for those folks going on extended cross-country trips
  • Every year check your RV for weight and/or clutter.  You collect things in an RV just like in your home and in such a small space it can quickly get out of control.
  • Carry different credit cards than your spouse so if either the wallet or the purse are stolen you can cancel those cards and still have access to credit if away from home.  Great tip!!!
  • Check fuel prices from state to state as state taxes can make a big difference and fill up before leaving the cheaper states even if you are not on empty.   For those who smoke the same would go for cigarettes.  Gas and cigarettes were WAY cheaper in PA than in NY so we stocked up on both prior top leaving Hershey to come home.
  • RV specific GPS’s are great.  You can type in the type of vehicle you have and it will route you accordingly and show fuel and gas stops that are appropriate to your size along the way.  Lee was looking at one of these and did not buy one, but after listening to Bob rave about his we are going to get one.
  • Check local papers for restaurant coupons if you get tired of cooking, you can get some great deals
  • Agree to driving time up front and stick to it.  If you can only drive 5 hours a day, plan your route accordingly.
  • Many people  don’t make reservations at campgrounds in advance when in “traveling” mode because they don’t want to be held to a schedule.  We are going to try that for the first time on the way back from Minnesota in a couple of weeks.  Will let you know how it goes.
  • Try to finish traveling by 2pm every day if possible.  Not only do you have a better shot at getting a prime campsite, but you miss the rush hour traffic.
  • Only use encrypted wireless for any sensitive information (ie: banking websites).  This one seems obvious but honestly never really though about it much.
  • If you want to meet people put four chairs out at your campsite.  This was a great piece o advice because if someone comes up to chat you can invite them to sit down and I guess this is camper code for let’s chat!!!

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Just Camping

We have spent a considerable amount of our camping time taking in the sites or running errands, so this weekend we decided we would just camp. with the exception of one trip to the farmer’s market (which I will talk about in a bit).  Relaxing (for me at least) is not as easy as it sounds, and in my opinion is a skill that for some must be learned.  I personally intend on perfecting the skill 🙂

I was working in Albany this week so Lee and I selected one of the campgrounds that we liked from our weekend research trip that was located somewhat in the middle between Keene and Albany.  We met on the site, landing within 10 minutes of each other and for me it was a beautiful drive across Vermont farm country on Route 11.  Despite the pretty drive it was a bit difficult to just dive right in.  I was still in work mode and did not find it that easy to make the adjustment.   Thankfully the setup went very well, with me focusing on the inside and Lee on the outside and the weather cooperated with a nice and reasonable temperature.  We had gotten our first choice (Site 117) and it was even bigger than I remembered.  This lot is fantastically large.  We easily fit the truck, camper, and my car on it and could have fit several more cars to spare.  It is well wooded which we like and the campsite was quiet and not crowded.  I have to say based on the site alone, any other campground would be hard pressed to match it, and we settled in for a pleasant stay.

Since I was out-of-town, Lee selected a couple of recipes from my growing “try it” pile and completed the shopping.  I don’t think I mentioned it, but for years I have collected old and unusual cookbooks.  Since I travel so much, they have largely been collecting dust, but over the past month while at home, I have been looking at them and cutting out any recipes I thought were interesting.   Yes I did feel a twinge for cutting up books, but many of these I have had for 15 plus years and it was the only way for me to make sure the recipes actually got used.   The end results is a small plastic coupon holder that is now full of recipes to try, and the results of those experiments are what occasionally show up on these pages.  As I mentioned before, I am only experiencing a 50% success rate, but apparently Lee is a better selector than I am because all three of his recipes were good!!!

The next morning we were up bright and early and Lee asked me to try to find a farmer’s market to supplement his meal choices with some fresh veggies.  Perkinsville is really in the middle of no where, and the closest one I could find was 45 minutes away, but he quickly found a farmers market that opened at 10am within a 10 minute drive.  Lee is the Goggle zen master 🙂 So we jumped in the care and drove to the market.  It was basically a large roadside stand, but they had tons of products from local growers.  While there we bought the mushrooms for that night’s dinner and I found some homemade dog biscuits for visiting puppies at the sites.  We decided to not bring our dog on these trips (she’s a bit of a princess and incredibly high maintenance) but I do enjoy talking to other people and petting their dogs.  The organic dog biscuits were just the thing and should be acceptable to any dog owner, even those who have dogs with special dietary issues. In addition they had small chunks of local Vermont cheese… yummy.

After the farmers market we went into town (basically a cross roads and a few stores) and went into the grocery store/deli to pick up some dishwasher soap.  It was amazingly well stocked (if small) and had its own little salad bar and hot bar for $5.99 a pound.  We both made a salad for lunch and Lee got a couple of yummy ribs that had just been cooked to take back to the campsite.  “Foraging” for local food is fun and in this case reasonably priced and absolutely delicious.  Next we went across the street to the local feed store to look for a wire grill cleaning brush.  I had been using a plastic one and it wasn’t getting the job down, and luckily they had exactly what we needed.  In addition, I picked up a great pair of rubber farm boots for $20 and two bags of kiln dried kindling for $4.95 a piece.  I love feed stores and have fond memories of visiting them as a child, but had forgotten how much of an eclectic selection they could contain.

Finally we stopped at one more farmer’s market (I couldn’t help myself it had a statue of a goat outside that grabbed my attention) and picked up a little jar of honey, maple cotton candy, eggs, and some egg salad all locally made.  It was a nice little trip to see the area and only took an hour or so, and then we were back at the campsite.

Dinner that night was an unqualified success, Beef Satay, Mushrooms, and Roasted potatoes then we watched a movie and went to bed.  Oh yes somewhere in the day I took a nice long nap.  In my real life I never nap but the fresh air and soothing sounds of the birds made a nap just the thing, so between some solid sleep at night and the nap I feel VERY well rested. Since the campground is so inexpensive $70 for three full days Fri – Sun, we paid for the extra day and will take our time leaving.  Stoughton Pond is within walking distance and if it’s warm enough we want to try out our kayaks, which Lee brought in the truck.  Overall the trip was very nice and relaxing and definitely showed the value of just camping.

Lessons Learned

  • When driving to the campsite straight from work allow a little extra time to decompress
  • Just camping is fun

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