One Year Camping Anniversary

One year ago this weekend, Lee and I had our very first camping adventure here at Swanzey Lake Campground.  It’s been an amazing year so I thought I would take a second and recap what we have done.  If you looking for the full read…check out the Key Moments tab.  In one week we decided to buy a camper, found one, bought it, and had our first camping experience.  Last summer we went camping over 13 weekends and visited 9 states.  We saw our daughter in Wisconsin, went to the ocean in Maine, and saw the Olympic village in Lake Placid…just to mention a few highlights.  What we knew by the end of the summer was that we love camping and being together just the two of us.  The summer allowed us to reconnect to one another.

At the end of the summer we decided we wanted more (including longer trips and more boon docking), so we went to Hershey RV show for two days and found the perfect 5th wheel for us.  We ordered a new truck, ordered the new 5th wheel and endured a VERY long winter waiting to get out there again.  Finally the 5th wheel came and we attended an amazing rally and met so many other people who are as passionate about camping as we are.  So it’s been a year and we sit in the same site (this time as a seasonal) grateful for the many gifts last year brought us.   Because we are selling our house and getting our last child to graduate HS we intentionally picked a campground 20 minutes from the house.  I am going to wait a few more weekends before I compare seasonal camping to going to different sites.

One thing I can say is whether you are moving around or staying put camping is a really great way to spend the weekend.  Because I have been traveling so much, I absolutely had to go into town this morning and run some errands and I went from super relaxes to stressed in no time at all.   The lights and noise in a super store are jarring after the stillness of the campsite.  Everyone waves in the campground…no waves out in the “real world” plus I saw some pretty rude behavior in a couple of stores you just don’t see in the campground.  It’s funny because these are the same people who live in town but there is something about nature that seems to bring out the best in people.  So how do I feel after a year…pretty darn awesome about the whole thing 🙂  It just gets better and better and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

One of the really fun parts of camping for me is trying out new recipes.  Cooking was a chore with three kids but now I can really explore different foods and God love Lee for being willing to eat just about anything.  So this weekend I had menus that were all new items.  Most of them were a bust unfortunately…either didn’t taste that great or waaay more trouble than it was worth, but I did discover two winners and have listed the recipes below.  It’s a lot of fun even if the experiments don’t turn out that great and it’s a good way to kill time on a rainy day.  I love old cookbooks and found the following in one of the church cookbooks that people put out as fundraisers.  The recipe was written by Ruth Arledge and I thought I would pass it along.

A Happy Home Recipe

  • 4 cups of Love
  • 2 cups of Loyalty
  • 3 cups of Forgiveness
  • 1 cup of Friendship (I add a second cup because I think it’s so important)
  • 5 spoons of Hope
  • 2 spoons of Tenderness
  • 4 quarts of Faith
  • 1 barrel of laughter

1.  Take love and loyalty, mix it thoroughly with faith.

2.  Blend it with tenderness, kindness, and understanding

3. Add friendship and hope, sprinkler abundantly with laughter

5.  Bake with sunshine

Serve daily with generous helpings.

 

Sesame Scented Snow Pea Pods

Super easy and delicious

  • 1/2 pound fresh snow pea pods
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  1. Steam snow pea pods for 3 minutes.  If you have a steamer for the microwave this works well.  If you don’t have a steamer, blanch the snow pea pods in water for 1-2 minutes until bright green.
  2. Drain peas and pat dry.
  3. Place in bowl and toss lightly with sesame oil.  If you have spray oil this works great.  Squirt 3 times then toss then 3-4 times more to taste
  4. Serve right away

DSC01821

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon-Seared Pound Cake

Simple to make and REALLY good.  The grilled cinnamon flavor goes great with the strawberries and the bread has a little crunch.

  •  1 16oz bag frozen strawberries (thawed)
  • 1 10-1/2 oz package frozen pound cake – thawed  (Sarah Lee is pretty yummy)
  • 2 TBL butter (softened)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Whipped cream
  1. Place undrained strawberries in blender and blend until smooth.  Chill in refrigerator
  2. Blend softened butter and cinnamon
  3. Cut thin slice off each end of pound cake
  4. Cut remaining cake into 6 slices
  5. Spread butter on one side of each piece of pound cake
  6. Place cake, buttered side down, on grill.  Cook for one minute then flip and cook for two minutes
  7. Place cake on plates with strawberry mixture and top with whip cream

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  • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Search Amazon Here
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First Time Having Guests at the Seasonal Site

 

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks since we got back from the rally.  I have worked out-of-town both weeks and the weekend in between we finished getting our house ready to sell.   We definitely did NOT want to miss the Memorial Day weekend house hunting traffic, so we scheduled two open houses; one on Saturday, and one on Sunday.  The downside was no camper time while we got it ready for that.  Lee snuck out a couple of times and setup some basics and he put the new reclining love seat in and removed the original couch, but there was still lots of work waiting us when we hit the campsite Friday night.  The first day and a half was spent squaring things away and it was weird unpacking for a seasonal stay versus moving around all the time.  When you’re on the go everything is placed for ease of packing up and making sure it’s secure.  When you’re stationary you can put anything you want wherever you want, which is nice, but totally different from the rally arrangement.  While I situated things Lee worked on the support box under the couch.  In the pictures below you can see we bought a love seat with zero clearance so each side can tilt back and out.  It’s SUPER comfortable but does look pretty weird in that small a space.  That being said I don’t regret the purchase at all and until we can get to Amish country and buy a custom couch I am super happy.   I started down the path of thinking where would guests sit…how it looked etc, but as Lee quickly mentioned guests will mainly be outside and “Do you want to be comfortable or not?”  The man had a point and once I sat in it I was sold…slightly weird looking or not.  One last note Lee built a box for below the couch because the new one sticks out a little farther than the old one, so it needed something to rest on. The box didn’t look very good until he removed the padding and leather from the old couch and used it to upholster the new base. It looks great.  The man is a genius!! (It’s true. I am a genius. – Lee)

Here's the wooden box he built

Here’s the wooden box he built

Finished box on the bottom

Finished box on the bottom

My daughter Kay curled on the couch

My daughter Kay curled on the couch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was the other thing..my daughter who is 18 gave up her Friday night and came out to visit us right after work.  It was so fun, we had hot dogs and marshmallows and she kept us entertained all night with weird facts from an app her phone has. She’s a good girl and it was sweet she came to hang out.  The lack of wifi was a bit of a bummer for her though.

One of my other favorite things was I got my rock collection sorted out.  I like rocks and have collected neat ones in all my travels.  I really thought I was going to have to give up my rock collection…partly for weight and partly because vision of rocks flying around the camper was giving me nightmares.  Lee and my in-laws all threw themselves behind solving my rock problem though (so sweet) and helped me find these very nice plastic containers at The Container Store.  I will be able to strap these in when we move and I now have three different rock carriers with plenty of space for more to come!!  I don’t know about you, but it’s the little things in life that give me true joy…so thanks to Lee, DeDe and especially Denny for helping me make this happen. (If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend The Container Store. It’s my personal mecca. The have anything you need for putting anything into anything. They even have little boxes you can put littler boxes into. – Lee)

My rock collection...left to right Gold...Black...Red

My rock collection…left to right Gold…Black…Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally on Saturday Lee hung my Audrey Hepburn picture (which I fretted would not work and make the room smaller and turned out to be perfect) and covered the cabinet mirrors with Artscape Window Film.  I really hated the fact that the cabinets across from the bed had mirrors for a variety of reasons…not the least of which is that I am not that crazy at looking at myself all the time. (I am not nearly as happy as she is about it. Who doesn’t want a wall of mirrors facing the bed???  Bow chicka bow bow, baby. – Lee) So I did some research and found a window cling at Home Depot.  We weren’t sure what it would look like on a mirror since it’s made to go on a window, but Lee, ever practical, said buy one roll and if it doesn’t work you’re only out $22.  Not only did it work…it completely surpassed my expectations…LOVE LOVE  LOVE it.   And, again, the room does not look smaller which was a concern.  So here’s my updated bedroom thanks to my great handy-man hubby. (The Artscape window film is really easy to work with, and looks great on windows, and apparently, mirrors, although the more colorful and detailed patterns probably wouldn’t look as good on a mirror as a simple etched or frosted glass look. All you do is rough-cut it to fit, spray the glass with water that has just a few drops of liquid soap in it, and then position it and squeegee it until there are no air bubbles or water left. There’s no adhesive, it just works based on the laws of fluid mechanics. Or magic. Then you use a very sharp razor knife to trim the edge, and sit back and enjoy the adulation and kisses from whoever you did it for. Hanging a picture is even easier and hardly ever requires squeegeeing anything, so the work-to-kisses ratio is more in your favor. – Lee)

 

My Audrey Hepburn poster

My Audrey Hepburn picture

Before and after with mirrors

Before and after with mirrors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee at work

Lee at work

Finished product looks so much better

Finished product looks so much better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday night we had our friends Georgia and Jim over.  They had not seen the campsite yet and we were happy to be ready to share it.  I went with hot dogs and chips but I did make my Mom’s amazing potato salad.  Usually I’m lazy and buy a vastly inferior product at the grocery store, but making a small batch for just the four of us was super easy and it lasts well in the fridge.  I have the recipe at the bottom if you want to try it out.  It’s truly yummy delicious.  I also have been looking for years for that hot dogs that mimic those of my childhood memories and I finally found them.  Jordan’s Ball Game Treats are very inexpensive and taste just like the hot dogs I ate when I was a kid.  I am sure they are terrible for you…but I’ll take a good ole basic hot dog over one of those fancy ones any day. (Fancy hot dogs??? What the hell are fancy hot dogs? I don’t think she knows what hot dogs are made of. – Lee)

Oh I also keep forgetting to mention Lee put up a bird feeder on the window that Dede and Denny gave us and a hummingbird feeder.  We have had friends in both along our travels and since they are right outside my desk window I can sit and watch without scaring them away.  I included the hummingbird feeder mixture in the recipe section because it’s easy to make but I keep forgetting the ratio.

 

Bird feeder and hummingbird feeder outside my desk window

Bird feeder and hummingbird feeder outside my desk window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia and Jim (two of our best friends) came over and we had a great time.  Their son worked for Lee and he is the son we never had.  He chose the same career field as Lee and is doing very well in it so we had a very enjoyable night talking about our kids, our plans for the future, and of course showing off our new camper 🙂  It was also cool that despite having intermittent rain all weekend it was perfectly dry all night.    Thanks so much Georgia and Jim for helping us kick off our seasonal summer!!  Look forward to many more nights by the fire.

Speaking of the campsite here are the pictures of the campsite and our friends Georgia and Jim.

Campsite at night

Campsite at night

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Kay and Lee hanging out by the fire

Kay and Lee hanging out by the fire

Big rock on our site

Big rock on our site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very well wooded love that...we have neighbors but can barely see them through the tress

Very well wooded site.. love that…we have neighbors but can barely see them through the tress

 Connie’s Best Ever Potato Salad

1.  Peel potatoes and cut into 4-5 pieces

2.  Boil covered until you can easily cut through with a butter knife but remove before mushy.  Rinse with cool water

3.  Boil eggs and allow both eggs and potatoes to cool

4.  Use a fork to mix egg yolks, mayo, mustard, and good seasons

5.  Mix potatoes, green onions, and egg whites

6.  Mix dressing into potato mixture gently stirring.

7.  Refrigerate until served (best if made the night before)

Connie's Best Potato Salad Ever

Connie’s Best  Ever Potato Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hummingbird Feeder Solution

  • 1 part sugar (must be the real deal)
  • 4 parts water

Stir well prior to filling up the feeder

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First Time Closing Up for the Winter

So it’s the last camping weekend before we have to close up the camper and since we are planning on buying a new one in February not only does it need to be winterized, but also completely cleaned out and ready to sell.  In order to winterize, you need access to water, sewage, and power so we went back to Swanzey Lake Campground for out third visit.   While we were hanging out and relaxing, we realized this was definitely the location that we wanted to try as a seasonal camper.  Seasonal campers buy a year-long pass and stay in the same site, which eliminates the need for the constant tear down and set up of the camper…a huge plus!!  Also, you don’t have to pay for storage through the summer months because you keep the camper at the campgrounds.

We had the opportunity to stay at 13 different places this summer (more activity in a summer than we have ever had in our married lives:) ) and it’s funny that we actually came full circle.  We booked a seasonal site at the very first place we camped at, Swanzey lake Campground.    Although it wasn’t either of our overall favorite for the year (mine was Tree Farm Campground and Lee’s was Oxbow Campground), it is the closest to our house and offers a little bit of everything…wooded sites, a lake, a beach.  Plus the folks here have been very helpful to us newbies.

Lee went to the office to get a packet and found out there were only 4 available seasonal sites left…yikes!!  We walked around to see them and luckily one of my favorite n sites 102 was on the list.  Sold!!  I am particularly fond of the big rock at the back of the site.   So this is our new camping home for 2014.  The cost for a seasonal site is $2700 from April 15th – Nov 1st which is pricey, but in New England they are all pretty expensive so it is in line with prices we got from other campgrounds and still way cheaper than a one week vacation.

One thing that was very interesting was as soon as Lee paid the deposit, the entire campsite experience changed.  The women at the office/store started introducing him to other seasonals and the security lady, Vicky,  who drives around and keeps an eye on things, stopped by and introduced herself.  Apparently there are lots of activities for seasonals only…who knew.  Definitely going to be a different experience and I am looking forward to trying it out.

Once the fun stuff was done it was time to get down to business.  Although we have been sharing most of the chores Lee is definitely taking the lead on the tear down and winterizing.  He did a lot of research online and learned that the tanks have to be flushed multiple times (he’s done it five times so far as i am writing this).  Once they are completely flushed, an air compressor is used to blow out any remaining water and then a special RV/Marine antifreeze is put in the lines.  Luckily our local Walmart carries it or it would be another trip to the camping store.  In addition ALL the food must be taken out of the camper.  He thought canned goods would be fine, but apparently they can burst if they freeze solid then thaw..so that’s good to know.   And of course all cloth of any kind must come out.  Essentially if a rodent could use it for food or a nest …must be removed.  Finally, you put Bounce dryer sheets  everywhere!!!  Don’t skimp and buy an off brand… rodents and spiders don’t like the smell so you put them absolutely everywhere.  The batteries are disconnected, but the propane tanks can stay.. they just need to be turned off and covered.  The camper is also swept on the top and sprayed off the get some of the grime off.   It is going to take Lee a couple of days to do all of the tasks and thankfully I get a pass and get to work on other things 🙂 

It’s sad that we are done, but what a terrific summer.  We camped for over 40 days in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.  We  bought our first RV, went to our first RV show, and picked out our second RV.  We bought our first truck and have picked out our second, a diesel.  We stayed at a farm, a casino, and on the ocean.  We took a magical hike, tried tons of new recipes, and learned so much, not the least of which was how much we enjoyed each others company.  It was a great time and I can’t wait until next year to see where the journey takes us.  You won’t be hearing much from us until February when we start the process of buying our Open Range, so talk to you in the spring.

 

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t leave canned foods in the camper in the winter because they can explode
  • Take all cloth and food out of the camper for the winter
  • Use an air compressor to blow out the water in the lines before putting in the antifreeze
  • Put Bounce Dryer sheets EVERYWHERE.
  • The bathroom sink is connected to the black water tank

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Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Search Amazon Here
  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.