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The Florida Caverns State Park is one of those perfect half-a-day side trips, offering a guided tour of a fascinating geologic wonder, some nice hikes and an opportunity to kayak and explore a wilderness river that offers up a blue hole as a bonus.
And at the end of the exploring, there’s a nice campground available, too, if you’re in need of a place to overnight.
Located near the town of Marianna in Florida’s panhandle just off I-10, the underground tour offers inspiring vews of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies.
Formed about 38 million years ago when sea levels were much higher and the southeastern coastal plain of the United States was submerged. Shells, coral and sediments gradually accumulated on the sea floor. As sea levels fell, these materials hardened into limestone. During the last million years, acidic groundwater dissolved crevices just below the surface creating cave passages large enough to walk through.
You can still see some of those fossilized shells, as well as fish skeletons embedded in the limestone throughout the subterranean system . On the ceiling of one of the underground rooms our guide used his flashlight to show off what he says is an ancient shark’s tooth.
The tour lasts about 45 minutes and reminded us a lot of the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Developed in 1935 during the height of the depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Projects Administration. Both groups emerged from President Roosevelt’s New Deal, established in 1933 to provide jobs to men during the Great Depression.
Using not much more than pickaxes, shovels, wheelbarrows and a flatbed pickup truck, it took nearly a decade to carve out an underground path that wanders between “rooms” of the caverns. Most of the tunnels and caverns are about 25 feet beneath the surface, Subdued lighting runs throughout the system and, like any good cave tour, there will come a moment when the guide will turn off all lighting to show how totally dark it is underground.
Although the tour is not strenuous, there are places where the passages are very narrow and low, meaning you need to be flexible enough to be able to duck down and walk under spots that are no higher than four feet or so.
A welcome bonus in visiting the caverns during the hot and steamy Florida summer is the constant year-round temperature of 65 degrees in the caverns.
Hiking trails run throughout the 1,319-acre park and kayaks can be rented to paddle the Chipola River, which has a deep blue spring – named the Jackson Blue Spring to differentiate between the Florida’s Blue Springs State Park near Orlando – flows at an average rate of 76 million gallons of water a day. With five other smaller springs, it feeds Merritts Mill Pond, a major scenic and recreation area.
Click the image to enlarge:
You enter the caverns through a door that takes you 25 feet beneath the surface.
Some of the rooms are quite large.
A statue out front honors the nearly 10 years it took for CCC workers to excavate the path through the caverns.
They call this the “Wedding Cake.”
It requires you to stoop to navigate through some of the spots.
A ranger explains how caverns and caves are made.
More beautiful formations
For sixteen years we have returned to the Rio Grande Valley, in the southern tip of Texas, each fall. We enjoy the mild winters and the abundance of recreation, natural resources and wildlife in the area. The December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine is dedicated entirely to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV). This publication from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is an excellent resource for those looking for a spot to visit in the winter, perhaps like us, you'll find it to be just what you are looking for in a winter residence.
In commemoration of their 75th year in publication they decided to focus on a single area of Texas and the staff decided that focus had to be on the RGV. They sent the entire staff to the RGV, housing them at Estero Llano Grande State Park south of Weslaco. Every article in this issue of the magazine is about the RGV; its people, nature, history and recreation. A one year subscription (10 issues) costs just $18.00. There are regular offers in the magazine for $12 per year and 2 years for $20. You should be able to purchase this issue at any Texas State Park. You can read any or all articles in this issue at: https://tpwmagazine.com/
Diane and I have a saying that started after our grand boys came along. We used it on them (and they would use it back if necessary) if one of them or I (Diane has complaints but never whines about anything) mumbled and groused about something. “Whining is not attractive” Matters Of The Heart Blog Post
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When I became a long distance cyclist, spring became a favorite time to head south for a week-long biking vacation. Even though I was still working, each March I would head to Florida for a week-long bike ride with the Bike Florida group. I did those rides for 8 years and got to explore many areas of north and central Florida from the seat of my bike. It was these rides that gave me the notion for escaping the New England winter and spending that time in Florida
Areas of Florida
Securing a Place to Stay
Many RV parks offer seasonal discounted rates for month-long stays. The park where I stay in Fort Myers Beach offers seasonal rates for 3 month stays. Many snowbirds find a park they like and then keep returning year after year. Some parks cater to their returning customers and will let you keep the same site as long as you reserve it a year in advance. This is what we have started doing. Before we leave Fort Myers Beach in April, we'll book our reservations for the following year.
Renting a house or a condo, works almost the same as getting a campground or RV site. You need to book in advance. Many local realty companies offer rentals or you can try sites like vrbo.com and airbnb.com.
If you rent a house or condo, you may not get the social interactions that you can get at an RV park. I found this to be true when we rented at St. Augustine Beach and at New Smyrna Beach. The Villages is an exception to that statement. We spent one winter renting a house in The Villages and it was one of the most fun times we've had. I played golf all winter on the free golf courses, rented a golf cart to get around, took several dance lessons, and went to music events just about every night. It was a blast and I really got hooked on that lifestyle. When my RVing days come to an end, I may settle down in The Villages.
The Snowbird Lifestyle
You can see more or my journeys at my website: jdawgjourneys.com
Disclaimer: References to specific campgrounds, RV parks, or websites is for example only. These aren't listed as recommendations and I have no affiliation with any of the businesses or websites that are listed in this post. All rates and prices listed are approximate based current published rates at the time of this posting.
As we near the end of our winter get away we decided to spend a few days unwinding. Yesterday we took a drive over the mountain to Culpepper VA. It was another beautiful blue sky day. The views from the mountain were spectacular. The balance of the day was spent at our CG enjoying the 70 degree weather.
Today we traveled over the mountain again to have lunch with another Bradford neighbors. The Marshall's were in Virginia visiting Judy's sister Karen and her husband Mike. When we found that out we just had to have a get together. After a few stops at restaurants that were still closed for the season, we managed to find a Pub in Sperryville. All had a light lunch and 2 hours of nonstop conversation.
Tomorrow will be spent getting Gracie ready for a 4 week rest in PA until we return for a wedding and finally bring her back to NH for the summer.
Did anyone find the deer in the pictures with my last Blog?
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Wow! Can’t believe it is almost August! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun! Since my last blog entry we have traveled from Kartchner Caverns, Bensen, AZ to Phippsburg, Maine. Had a pretty good trip across country even though we took a dog leg route to Forest City, Iowa to Winnebago Industries to have a few things checked out on the new to us motor home and a had few items worked on. The Horizon had a dishwasher which we really didn’t need so we had it removed and had two more kitchen drawers installed to take its place. Being full-timers having extra storage is always welcome. We also had the roof inspected and all the sealants checked and replaced where needed. One does not need leaks and Maine is not like AZ it actually rains here in Maine a lot.
We sold our house here in Maine to our son and daughter-in-law so we are staying at a campgrounds right down the street from the old homestead. Really nice to visit family and see how fast our little grand daughter is going. Also we came to see our son off as he is deploying with the Maine National Guard so we will be nervous parents for the next year until he returns. It is hard to see your son leave for a war zone and I know how hard it was for him to leave his family. I spent 21 years in the Navy so I know how hard it is to deploy and leave your family behind. We got to go on family day that his guard group put on and got to meet a lot of his comrades in arms, a great bunch of dedicated people who are very proud to serve their country. We are really proud of them all.
We are really enjoying being back in Maine again and so far the weather has been really good. Some days are very humid though sure different than the hot dry weather of AZ and TX where we spent the winter. Have been really scoffing up the Maine seafood especially the lobster and clams! Yum! We are loving the Horizon more than ever as it is so roomy and homey. The dogs love it too as they have plenty of room to spread out and sack out as well. LOL! The campgrounds we are staying at are really nice with quite a few summer residents that are really friendly and lots of fun to be around. Lots of fisherman here as well and I have been enjoying fishing along the coast as well. The stripers aren’t running too well as yet but it is still fun to get out there and enjoy the coast. It is really hard to beat the coast of Maine in the summer and early fall; however, I do not want to be here in the winter anymore. Winters seem to drag on forever here so being full-timers and traveling to the south in the winter is really the way to go. The summers just seem to go by so fast here but I am going to enjoy every minute of it while we are here. Hope all is well with everyone out there and you all are enjoying the summer!
... and the adventure comes to an end
July 5, day 37: A drive day from Las Cruses, N.M., to Tucson, Ariz. Nothing exciting along the way.
July 6, day 38: A drive day from Tucson to our home in Cathedral City, Calif., 380 miles on I-10.
So ends a great 38-day adventure. We drove 6,822 miles and traveled through 14 states. We had set a trip "on the road" budget of $7,600, or $200 per day, for food, fuel and park fees. However, we actually spent $6,900. The savings was in fuel ... we had budgeted $3800 (6 miles per gallon), but we ran at 8 to 9 miles per gallon; hence the savings.
For RV park fees, we had budgeted $1,900 and spent $1,672, and for eating out the budget was $1,900 and we spent $1,959.
The trip was a eye-opening experience for us. We did learn that we could live together in a RV for at least 5 weeks and still be talking to each other at the end of the trip. Even Dale the dog is OK, his tail is still wagging
The RV itself did not have any major problems. On the last day of the trip the front air-conditioner unit's squirrel cage did lock up, but that is an easy fix. Other than the AC issue, the RV worked as it should.
When we first walked back into our home, we had "bigness shock" -- the house is only 1,350 square feet, but compared to the RV, which is about 300 square feet, the house is a mansion Once back, we had the chore of unloading (ugh ) the motorhome, which will continue tomorrow.
So long for now. We are deciding where to go next ....
Dale, Trudy and Doug
It has been nearly 4 months since our last entry and we are a long way from Port Isabel Texas. We spent the remainder of December in South Texas spending the Christmas Holidays in Mission and then moving back to the coast spending the New Year holiday in South Padre Island. We then started our trek along the gulf coast stopping at Corpus Christi and Houston before departing Texas for Louisiana.
We spent a week in Breaux Bridge which is just to the east of Lafayette. This is a nice town deep in the heart of Cajun country. The food is great with a lot of local restaurants serving all of the Cajun delicacies. We enjoy this area the people are friendly and there is a lot to see and do. Our next stop was Slidell just north east of New Orleans; we parked the coach there and flew to Fargo ND to attend the wedding of a niece. The wedding was fun and we were reminded about the reason we spend our winters in the south. The snow was about 3 ft deep and the morning we departed the temperature was -11 degrees. During our stay in Slidell we were able to get our Louisiana winery.
We then moved to Biloxi MS for a week. This is a fun area with a lot of good restaurants, including some from Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives, the Food Network Show. We always enjoy eating in these establishments when we can. The sea food in this area is some of the best we have been able to get.
We then moved on to South Alabama where we stayed for two weeks, visiting one of Julie’s Cousins who winter in Orange Beach. This is a fun area with a lot of things to do and places to visit. The history of this part of the gulf coast is rich in both military as well as the early settlers. We enjoy both the Alabama and Florida Panhandle areas where the beaches seem to stretch forever and the sand is white like sugar.
We then moved to Columbus GA where we prepared to attend the FMCA Convention in Perry Georgia. While in Columbus we were able to find wineries in both Alabama and Georgia. Both wineries had good wine for this region, that being according to our pallets. We then moved to Perry for the FMCA Convention, where we spent 6 nights dry camping along with the nearly 3000 other motor homes attending. This was an enjoyable gathering with great weather, and wonderful fellowship.
We are now in Brunswick Georgia preparing to start our trek north along the Atlantic Coast. Our travels have not taken us to the North East states and we plan on covering those in the coming months. We have enjoyed the south east Georgia coast visiting the Islands and taking in the rich history of the area. We will have to try to do better about posting our updates to this rambling narrative so you can keep track of our adventures.
I have been very silent here for the last several months, primarily because my wife and I have not had our motorhome out of the driveway since before Thanksgiving. The reason for this very unusual hiatus has been, we have been renovating our primary house. I have often heard that if your marriage can survive such a project, it can survive almost anything, and now I know what they mean.
This has been one of the most stressful, depressing, maddening experiences of my life. Those of you who have done a major renovation to your stationary home can understand. Those of you who have not had this experience, let me just say that a root canal without anesthesia is a more pleasurable option. We are still having struggles with our heat pump ( I don't know if I can mention the brand name here, but it's a major brand), so I don't know when we will get to go out again. Last weekend, we had the factory rep from the manufacturer out here. Still doesn't work as it should. I don't know what this next weekend will bring, but it probably won't be what I long for most -- a trip into the woods to gather my sanity after more than two months of excursion into insanity.
Hopefully, though, soon Donna and I will be back on the road, and we'll have lots more to write about. I look forward to that in more ways than one.
RV Camping in Mountains and Near Lakes
By Bob and Pam Stephens
North Central Arkansas is composed of Ozarks (meaning â€œrounded hillsâ€) with three large lakes: Bull Shoals
http://www.bullshoals.net/ , Heber Lake http://www.heber-springs.com/content/ and Norfork Lake. http://www.lakenorfork.com/ All of the lakes are great for boating activities, and all kinds and fishing. While you are in the area, check out Hand Cove Resort and RV Park http://www.handcoveresort.com/index.htm on Lake Norfork! The White River flows out of the Dam just below Bull Shoals. Bull Shoals-White River State Park is a wonderful Arkansas State Park; a must see area, if you can but make reservations early. Near the State Park is a restaurant called Gaston's. http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/park-fin...tours.aspx?id=8 It's great to enjoy the river and have a good meal. Sit by the three-sided glass windows and enjoy your dining experience and views of the White River. The White River area is known for some of the best trout fishing in the country. There is a small airport located at Gaston's, and people fly in from all over the county to fish.
Near the northern end of the state of Arkansas is the Buffalo River Basin. This is a stunning place http://buffalorivergallery.com/index.php?cat=8 Take a float trip down the Buffalo River. http://www.ozarkmtns.com/buffalo/bfg.html The scenery is great and so is the fishing. Don't come to Arkansas and miss the float trip. Paddling over the course of several hours can be very tiring, so be sure you are up to it! There are several different float trip lengths to choose from! Drive the upper Wilderness area of the Buffalo basin and you will find it is stunning, too. What about a motorbike ride? Grab the Harley because this is a wonderful area for motorcycle riding with curvy roads and great views. Don't miss the town of Jasper off Hwy 7-scenic! http://www.arkansas.com/city-listings/city...ail/city/Jasper It sits in the upper Buffalo wilderness area and there is a wonderful view from the restaurant there, and good cobbler! There are several primitive camping areas in the Buffalo area. If hiking is your thing, this area is a must see. Want to see a campground location for your RV before you pull in? www.campgroundimages.com
Near the Bull Shoals Lake and Norfolk Lake are some very nice small towns and places to live. Mountain Home is a very nice area situated in the Ozarks, so it is a very pretty area. Mountain Home has golf courses and it is near the Lakes. It is in the north end of the state so the weather in the summer is better than the central or the southern part of the state. Stop by and see the small towns of Yellville and Flippin, Arkansas! Ranger Boats are made there! Yes, there really is a Flippin, Arkansas. http://www.flippinweb.com/
Traveling east along the north end of the state you will come to Mammoth Springs, which is a very scenic area. The Red river flows here too, which is a great area for fishing and floating. Riverside Park is set on the banks of the Red River. The only drawback for us was traveling on a dirt road for two miles and there is a railroad tracks close by, but it's a very nice grassy RV Park.
Continuing East and South you will come the Crowley Ridge Area, which is very beautiful http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/crowleysridge/ . If you like to go horseback riding or mountain biking in the Ozarks, this is a must area to come see. This is a great area for hiking, fishing, boating or just taking a nice ride in the car. There are several State Parks in the area to meet your needs as well as Corps of Engineers Parks. Further east of here is the Mississippi Delta area is the town of Jonesboro. It's nice for shopping and dining out.
Heading South and then back toward the middle of the State you will come to Heber Springs. This is a very popular Lake. It is large and is great for fishing and hunting. It is surrounded by the greenery of the Ozarks. If you're into water and boating this is a must. North of Heber Springs is the town of Mountain View http://www.ozarkgetaways.com/index.html It a very old town and is known for its folk music. Throughout the year they have folk music and Blue Grass festivals there. http://www.ozarkgetaways.com/things_to_do.html Stop by and spend a few days â€¦you will be in for a real treat!
Tell them Bob and Pam Stephens, Bob@CamproundImages.com sent you!
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My wife Kim and I have been RVing for a few years now and are ready to trade in our 31ft Hurricane Class A motorhome for something a bit nicer. We have been looking at the manufactures information, but as you all know, manufacturer's tend to accentuate the positive and overlook the negative. So we decided to ask the people who live the RV life every day for your opinions. We hope you will take a few minutes to share your thoughts on the various models on the RV market today. We would like to thank you all in advance for your insight and help!!
Regards, Barry & Kim
Our 1998 Southwind was overdue for a roof rehab - see photos 1 and 2. The original top layer was almost gone in places and we were having a lot of trouble with chalking and grey streaks forming on our windshield, windows and side panels.
I researched various treatments in forums, ads and websites. I wanted something long-lasting and relatively easy to apply, since this would be a do-it-yourself venture. I was tempted by an expensive two-part liquid roof system, but the cost would have been over $1,000. Following up on an ad in one of the magazines, I found Ultimate Roof, from RV & Marine Technologies. Theirs is a one-part acrylic laytex rubber that is applied with brushes and rollers. They use a fabric reinforcing strip over joints and seams. You apply two heavy coats of this material. It is supposed to last 10 years or more. Because you put it over all your existing caulking, they say you don't have to caulk again. Their website is www.rvroofing.com. They sell the materials and application kits, or you can hire them to do the job for you. The materials and application kit for my 33 ft coach cost approximately $650.
I got started late last fall on this project, which turned out to be a problem. I was trying to do this in early October in Maine. I didn't get enough warm weather and sunshine to cure the material before the dew started. We also got frost, then a heavy rain that washed off much of the uncured rubber from my edging job. I cleaned up and recoated the damaged areas, but I could tell that I was fighting a losing battle. We called our warehouse and made arrangements to get the MH inside immediately for winter storage.
This spring, I was doing another project at home in my "spare" time, so I was a bit late getting back to the MH roof rehab. Today, we finally finished it. Yea! I think it came out well. Check out the photos.
Now, I can give the coach a good thorough outside cleaning and it should stay much cleaner than it used to. Our coach has never had water damage on the inside. I think we can keep it that way for a good while yet!
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It was once suggested to me that celebrating Thanksgiving in our RV was an utterly ridiculous notion. “HOW can you prepare such a grand meal in such a small space?!” “WHAT on earth could you serve without access to a full kitchen?!” “WHO would ever want to join you on such an adventure?!”
Never one to back away from a challenge, I am here to break it all down for you. Hopefully, by the end, you will be convinced that you, too, can have your own epic campout for your next Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving and eating go hand in hand. Good eating, that is. So if you are going to eat well, then you need to prepare it well. RVs are not known for their spacious kitchens, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make magic happen. You just need to be creative!
- The turkey fryer – The first time that I heard about this method, I was completely repulsed. Turns out that this way of preparing a turkey is DELICIOUS! The outside is crispy and the insides are super moist. But it's important that you take precautions. Do not do what anyone did
. Or. If, after seeing these, you would still like to try frying your turkey, then you can use an indoor fryer or an outdoor fryer.
- The toaster oven – Everyone should have a toaster oven. I have a full-size oven in my home, and my toaster oven is used far more. It just makes so much more sense when considering heat and energy output. Some toaster ovens offer fancy options while others are quite simple. These compact ovens are perfect for a batch of mashed potatoes, stuffing or baking a pie.
- The slow cooker – This kitchen wonder saves my life every holiday season. Slow cookers come in all shapes and sizes, large and small. They can handle casseroles, ciders, breads, dips and so much more. One year we even used ours to cook our holiday ham.
- The barbecue – No RVing adventure would be complete without the ol' trusty Bbq. There is something so wonderful and comforting about cooking outside over an open flame, and to do so on a holiday makes it that much more special. Have you tried barbecued turkey breast or grilled root vegetables? Divine!
I don’t know about you, but I like a Thanksgiving dinner that offers a lot of options. A few main dishes, a lot of sides and a generous array of desserts is the perfect ticket. The joy of holiday campouts is that you get to eat all of this amazing food for at least a few days. Meal planning is an important part of RVing, even more so on holiday weekends. I have thrown together a sample of what one of our Thanksgiving plans would look like:
- Turkey breast – to be roasted in heavy duty foil in barbecue.
- Many types of sausages – to be cooked on barbecue.
- Onions, carrots and celery – to be roasted with turkey breast on barbecue.
- Stuffing – Prepare before trip and store in zip-top bag. When ready, empty contents into 9X13 pan and bake in toaster oven. When finished, remove and cover in foil.
Green bean casserole – Prepare and bake while stuffing is cooling.
Sweet potato casserole – Thanks to my slowcooker and Pillsbury. Works every single time.
- Mashed potatoes – Make these ahead and freeze. When ready, pop in the microwave and serve hot.
- Gravy – Heinz Home Style with some beef bouillon added for depth. Microwave and serve.
Cranberry sauce – Okay, the child in me still can’t get enough of the cranberry in a can action. You can have your fancy cranberries because mine are so awesome, they don’t even need chewing.
- Buttered peas – Microwave the frozen peas. Top with a pat of melted butter.
- Black olives – Again, canned. No Thanksgiving is complete without 10 olives on 10 fingers.
- Pickles – Every year these make a showing on our table. They are small, they pack a punch and they have just always been there.
- Cheese platter – This doesn’t need to be fancy. We like sharp cheddar, swiss, a soft goat cheese, nuts, fruit (dried and/or fresh) and some crackers.
Hawaiian Rolls – Always buy more than you think you’ll need. They go really fast.
- Banana Cream Pie Jars – Banana pudding, Cool Whip and crushed Nilla wafers layered in a mason jar. YUMMM!!
- S'mores – We kick these up by including peanut butter cups, Starburst (yes, Starburst), pretzels and caramel filled chocolate squares.
- Spirits – wine, beer, Kahlua, Bailey's and bourbon. For sharing of course.
Speaking of sharing, this is really what Thanksgiving is all about. The camping community is made up of wonderfully adventurous, kind and lovely people who just want to have a good time. Mix that with a four-day holiday dedicated to food and fun and you have the recipe for epic memories. It is a beautiful experience to see how campers come together to share and care. The drinks flow freely, the food is never-ending and you are surrounded by people that become lifelong friends. I know a group of people who met for the first time at a campground’s Thanksgiving party in 2007 and have gotten together every year since. After all, tradition is what Thanksgiving is all about, right?
So there you have it -- the how, what and who explanation as to why you should spend your next Thanksgiving in your RV. You don’t need an enormous space to create an unforgettable meal for your friends and family. While planning and patience are critical, gratitude truly is the most important ingredient for your ultimate Thanksgiving campout.
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Who would have thought? A RV dealer that is actually standing by the product he sells. At least he made me happy.
Now that the coach is home again it is time to look at some preventative maintenance. I created a checklist of things that need to be done soon. The list looked like this:
â€¢ Wash, wax, polish the coach
â€¢ Change all fluids
o Engine oil
o GenSet oil
o Brake fluid
o Tranny fluid
o Diff fluid
o Leveling Jacks
o Fresh beer in fridge
â€¢ Check if the coach got Daylight Running Lights
â€¢ Aim head lights
I was not in a rush to get the stuff done. I want to do as much myself as I can. I start my to do list with washing and polishing. I took the coach to a local RV wand wash. It took me $60 to get the coach washed. Now I drove back to my storage place and start the polish part of the job. I have no idea what to use but after checking around at RV.net and IRV2.com I settled for NuFinish.
So there I am. 1,000,000 square feet to polish on a nice Saturday morning in October. I am armed with NuFinish and ragâ€™s. Motorhome, here I come. I start my adventure on the roof. I figure if I do the roof first I know it is clean and all the run off should be clean. The roof on my HR Vacationer is a 2 piece Aluminum roof. I simply assume that my NuFinish will do a good job up there. Up to the roof I go. For the age of the coach (itâ€™s a 2002) the roof looks very very very good. No dirt or tree sap at all. I start my Job on the front cap. Wipe on, wipe off, wipe on, wipe off. After around a quarter of wiping on and off I had enough. I NEED A POWER POLISHER. I jump into the car and off to the closes Canadian Tire. Found a 10â€™â€™ Orbital polisher for sale for $20, good enough for me.
While on the roof I noticed that the joint sealing tape is coming loose on the edges and corners. I am sure that this is not Ethernabond that Monaco is using here. For now I will just use some Dicor and seal everything off. Next time I am up here I will start replacing the tape they use with Ethernabond. With the Polisher it took me 3 hours to get the roof done. Cleaned polished and sealed. I now move to the side walls of the coach. It took me the rest of the on Saturday and most Day on Sunday to get the coach polished up. This was the longest it ever took me to polish anything. By the time I had the polish job done I was beat. BUT it looked good.
I used the generator for 2 days to do the polishing. I noticed that the generator got around 250h on the clock. I thing that is actually not to bad for a 7 years old unit. The entire coach only got 17,000 miles on the clock to the unit was definitely not used a lot by the previous owner. I decided that I should give the generator an oil change before I got home. I went to a local Cummins shop and got me filter. To my surprise the filter was only $7. One more thing done on my check list.
We did one last trip for Thanksgiving. After that weekend it was time to winterize. I checked the owner manual for everything I needed to know. I must say that Holiday Rambler got a great 240 pages owner manual. The manual gives instruction for both methods of winterizing, Blow out the lines or use 5 gal antifreeze. I somehow donâ€™t trust the blow out method. I live in Canada and it gets cold here (in fact we had snow the last 24 hours and it is May 19, 09 today). I am sure there is still water in some low points where the air simply blows over the water. So I choose the antifreeze method. So I start looking around for plumbing antifreeze. RV-store, Home Depot, Rona, Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart all carry the stuff BUT the price difference is huge. I took the cheap stuff at Wal-Mart and just to make sure I got 7 gal of pink.
Totally motivated I head out to the coach. And start winterizing. I actually have the owner manual open for this. Point 1 of the manual instructs me to remove the in line water filter. Of cause by the time I am at point 16 no clue what point 1 was. So I hook up the antifreeze and open the kitchen faucet. Of cause I did not remove the water filter. The filter was only 2 trips old. Darn another $60 down the drain.... literally. Ohh well, I finished my winterizing project without any more problems. I used just over 6 gal of the pink stuff. Now I was planning to do an oil change on the engine.
Now I continued my Maintenance Adventure and my brake fluid. There is a lot written online about Brake failure on the Workhorse W22 chassis. I had never done this before so I used the trusted Internet to find the information I needed. I choose FORD DOT 3 brake fluid. I chose to use the Ford fluid because it got the highest wet boil point of the DOT 3 fluids I found. I spend an other $20 on a vacuum pump. I clean out as much of the old fluid for my reservoir and refill with the new DOT 3. From there I went under the coach starting with the rear pumping out the old fluid making sure there is always enough new stuff in the reservoir so I will not get any air into the lines. This entire project took me less than 2 hours.
By this time, it was time to start hibernating. If was already November. And camping season was definitely over. So I am putting my coach to rest for the winter.
Sometime in the early 1970s, my parents returned from Colorado to the East Coast to visit with family and to take care of unfinished business after our nine-month trip. Once we got there, my Aunt Cindy asked us to transport two horses to a show. So, my dad picked up a two-horse trailer.
At the last minute, Aunt Cindy also asked us if we could pick up a pony they had just purchased in Chintogue at “Pony Penning Day.”
My dad looked at the trailer and looked at the space in the front where tack and supplies usually go. Dad figured ponies were small and one would probably fit in this small space up front. He carefully cut an access door on the side and added additional hooks for tie-downs.
Once we got to where we were to pick up the pony, Dad was unpleasantly surprised to find that the pony was much larger than he expected and it would not fit in the new space in the trailer!
So we improvised.
We built a ramp out of spare plywood and 2x4s to go up the steps to our motorhome. We threw down rain slickers, old blankets and hay on the floor in the back of the motorhome. With much pushing, shoving and cajoling from my dad and several other strong helpers, we got the pony into the back of the bus.
From there, we drove to our next destination, which was an FMCA rally. We arrived late and found a spot to park for the night. My parents and I slept up front, but my sister slept in back with the pony. What other 9-year-old girl could brag that she slept with a pony!
The next morning, we were all wakened with a loud whinny from the pony announcing that it was time to relieve himself. The rally attendees knew the Guenthers were truly crazy, seeing my dad shoveling manure out our back window!
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I am sure there are some of you all out there that have previously make the trip to Alaska. We live in Florida and would like to find a route from here to Fairbanks. I talked to a couple last summer in South Dakota
that traveled through I believe he told me Montanna into Canada. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Lex and Karen Cauffield
Lake Placid, Florida
Gulf Stream Tourmaster Constellation 45g
Jeep Grand Cherokee
I'd noticed that the plumbing manifold had some rusty hardware, and was dripping.
Actually, the first impression was that the Aqua Hot on the opposite side of the coach was dripping; but, good detective work and a drop light led me back to the true source: the Manabloc manifold.
I'll spare you all the trials of rebuilding the manifold, replacing connectors, etc. and skip to the end: someone had not properly winterized the rig, and there are tiny cracks from freezing in the top of the stack.
To the rescue came Louise Stout at Viega, who now owns the Manabloc name. She can be reached at 800-976-9819 Ext 220 and is one of those rare treasures we in the RV community love to have working on our side.
Foremost, she told me that creativity on my part to undo the damage done by RV technicians' cross-threading the cold water supply line would parallel their own level of poor methods: it turns out that the threads atop Manabloc manifolds are NOT the standard plumbing variety, that they are a proprietary pitch. She referred me to Pex Supply equpping me with a part number (46414) for the correct 1" female connector that joins up to 3/4" Pex.
Then, she looked up my manifold model number in their computer, pronounced it a rarity no longer in production -- heck, my RV is only a 2007 model -- and put in a work order for their shop to custom-build me its replacement. For $140, I get a new manifold and all outlet connections.
Checking the plumbing manifold should be part of your monthly inspection routine.
- Open up the plumbing bay and inspect the floor for water. If power has been off the rig, rusty hardware might be the sole indication of leakage.
- Check under the rig for signs of long term leakage. Painted garage floors will have a telltale halo that indicates a leak/evaporation cycle.
- Touch the top of the manifold to ensure the recessed aren't harboring water.
- Check outlet fittings for security and leakage.
- Inspect manifold hardware for signs of moisture, eg rust.
- Open up the plumbing bay and inspect the floor for water. If power has been off the rig, rusty hardware might be the sole indication of leakage.
PREPARE FOR LANDING!
Hard or soft? Sooner or later? Where? When Cor and I opted for a life on the open road; we envisioned roaming the US at a leisurely pace, pausing long enough to savor the essence of north woods, prairie mountain, mesa, and bayou. Arrival at new campgrounds was exhilarating: so much to learn about the area. There were chutes in Ontario, fossils in Wisconsin. The first sight of the Rockiesâ€™ ridgeline at sunset was breathtaking. We had loved meandering by boat; so why not by RV. At least we wonâ€™t sink.
Marina life buzzed with excitement, meeting new people, learning of their ports and sometimes storms. So it was with our early campgrounds; neighbors gathering by the fire, singing songs, exchanging stories. Keep moving, keep learning. Reality set in when the stock market dove. Weekly, even monthly rates were not going to be sustainable. We decided to try the season in Venice, FL, our old hometown. Camp Venice was delightful, under the shade of live oak trees, along a shoot of the Myakka River.
Visits to our former doctors kind of alerted us to what lay ahead. Mine sent me off with the admonition that falls are the biggest bugaboo to the elderly. (Iâ€™m beginning to accept that term.) Corâ€™s doctor wanted him to return for balance problems, but Cor forgot the appointment.
We began to write our customary lists of â€œPros and Cons.â€ We love our very comfortable National Dolphin, but it takes dexterity, stamina, and strength to set up, take down, maintain, and maneuver -- especially when you realize you arenâ€™t 60 anymore. As Cor has often said, â€œIf others knew some 90-year-old geezer were tooling down the highway at 70 miles an hour in this beast, theyâ€™d probably head for a ditch.â€
What are the criteria for a landing site? First -- friends, but they, like you, are getting older and canâ€™t be â€œforever.â€ Family: We have two families (his and hers.) The majority live in New England -- CT and MA. Another lives in FL and the one we thought weâ€™d be settling near, moved to CO. Somewhere along I-95 would be good for most. Climate: We tolerate cold (in front of the fire) better than heat. Access to medical facilities: Face it! We need them now and will need them more in the future. A town where we could get around without a car. A town with some action, be it music, library, senior gatherings, or just plain sitting in a park to watch the squirrels and listen to the birdies sing.
Now to find this town of our dreams. Where do we start? Since all our furniture has been stored in Lebanon, New Hampshire, (to be accessible to the daughter who promptly moved to Colorado) and our car and motorhome are registered there, we looked for a campground to take us for the summer while we searched. Ever-reliable Google turned up Exeter Elms, nestled along the banks of the Exeter river, a heavenly mix of hardwoods, evergreens, ferns, chipmunks, and songbirds. Even in this Spring of rain and cold, it provided a serene haven in which to once again â€œget organized.â€
Within a week, we began to appreciate what this town has to offer: exquisite architecture (my college major,) a first class hospital, central â€œdowntown,â€ new library with large print books, senior center (never thought Iâ€™d need one,) good supermarkets, walk to many parks as well as the riverfront, an active bandstand, theater groups, concerts, farmerâ€™s market -- you name it! Everybody smiles here. Amazing!
Again online, we found an apartment plunk in the center of town on the main street overlooking all the action (weâ€™re great watchers now.) We even enjoy the weekends with a steady stream of motorcycles cruising through town on Rt. 27 -- who would have thought?
If thereâ€™s a message here, I guess it is to THINK AHEAD. While you are enjoying your rambling (especially full-timers who have given up a home) keep your eyes open for a good place to land. Make a list of your presumed priorities (they may change with time.) When you are in a town or city, take note of the shopkeepers and people on the street -- are they smiling and helpful? Are drivers pushy, or do they signal for you to enter? You will be calling this â€œhome,â€ so make it happy.
We still have the rest of the season at the campsite, but our apartment lease started July 1, so weâ€™ve moved our stored â€œstuffâ€ down from Lebanon to Exeter. We are taking our time emptying the cavernous bays that carried more "stuff" -- will we ever learn? Now to do the final cleanup here. If anyone is interested in the perfect full-time motorhome, and a prepaid site on the banks of the Exeter River through leaf-peeping season, take a look at our website. Never underestimate the power of the Internet! We found our apartment on Rent.com; found the campsite on Google searches once weâ€™d picked a state to live in; checked out all the tax consequences and medical facilities on various state sites; and still keep in touch with friends and family on Facebook. Call me a wired junkie, all thanks to my Verizon Air Card. It has allowed me to get online almost everywhere. No more eating a hamburger just to get a few free minutes of access at MacDonaldâ€™s.
LIFE IS AMAZING, ISN'T IT?
It must first be said it was my yard, my tree, and my motorhome, so I do not know what the big problem was. I was not going to sue myself or call my insurance company to file a claim...
But when I took Minnie out to have her house batteries checked for the second time in two months (they kept going out due to yet another case of operator error, I learned..), lo and behold, a huge tree branch became attached to her rear ladder. Woven between the rungs, it was. I was not completely surprised, because I had backed her near a tree in the front yard to turn around before exiting the driveway. But, still. It was huge. It was leafy. It was standing straight up, as if I had planted it on the second rung, and then purposefully threaded it upward. I kinda liked it. I was as if Minnie decided she needed to make her own shade.
I didn't look as if it had scratched anything much on the coach. I thought, She is here for repair, so they can just remove the greenery whilst they are at it. So while I waited for the repair folks to drive her away, the jokes began. One FMCA member couple drove up in a gorgeous, huge Type A and remarked about how much I must like trees. A man who worked at the facility strolled by, giggled, and told me it was "SOME decor!" I laughed with them all. Another even echoed what I had thought: "Decided to make your own shade, did ya??!!"
Then I got home and realized that while Minnie and the tree were getting acquainted, a huge piece of plastic covering one of her vents had snapped off. I picked it up, ran to the car, drove back to the repair shop, and left it at the pickup counter.
They tell me they reattached it, and all's well. And I don't leave the house batteries on all the time, anymore, while the coach is just sitting in the driveway. And I almost miss that big 'ol branch.
Sorry it has taken so long to put another entry on this blog. I must confess that I (Gloria) have been writing Charlie's blog and will continue to write it. As you know, I am traveling with the "Prez."
We left home on December 26 and went to Kennedale, Texas, to visit with Sheri Brewer and Gene Miller. We spent New Year's with them along with Rod and Ethel Sartwell who were also at Sheri's house. On January 2 we left Kennedale in Sheri's coach along with Sheri headed for Indio, Calif., and the Western Area Rally. Sheri needed worked done on her awnings and it could only be done at the factory in California.
The weather out to California was good and we were ahead of schedule. We stopped in Arizona to visit Sherry and George Tomaszewski. They took us to a car show and it was fun seeing all the cars that brought back memories of days gone by. We also visited with Lloyd and Wendy Holloway and Steve and Beverly Martin in Havasu City. We did not plan on stopping by and they were surprised when we called and told them to look out the window.
We arrived in Indio, Calif., and the Western Area Rally with lots of hellos and hugs. We have met so many people we feel we have family all over the country. We were invited to a BBQ with the Overland Trailblazers and had a good time. They are experts at BBQing and trimmings. We even signed up to go to their post rally on the Columbia River after the Redmond Homecoming.
The Apollo Amigos also had us for breakfast on Saturday morning. We enjoyed the breakfast and especially meeting and visiting members of the chapter. They have a real "rally in a rally." They set up their own kitchen and have meals together throughout the Rally. What great fellowship we had with them.
There were lots of vendors and seminars, and the ladies tea was really entertaining. They had Sarah Getto perform several songs; a fashion show; and Debbie Reynolds' daughter-in- law demonstrated her makeup by doing two make-overs.
After the Western Area Rally Charlie went to Pomona, Calif., for a sight visit for the 2015 Winter FMCA Homecoming. I went to Las Vegas with Sheri, Wendy and Beverly. We relaxed, shopped, walked through the hotels, shopped, had good food, shopped, and just had fun laughing and being silly. After eight days in Vegas, Sheri and I met Charlie in Kingman, Ariz., and headed by to Texas. It was quite a sightseeing all the shopping bags and luggage going into the coach.
We left Sheri's and went to Bella Terra in Foley, Ala. Tom and Lorna Eller hosted a Wine and Cheese reception for us and Charlie promoted FMCA. Attendance was good.
On January 26 we arrived in Brooksville, Fla., for the SEA Rally. It started raining and did not stop until Saturday evening in time for the parade. The rain and chilly temperature did not deter anyone from seeing the vendors, attending the seminars, playing games, and going to entertainment.
I enjoyed the vendors, too. They had different types of vendors that I don't usually see at rallies and money was spent. The ladies tea was well attended. The entertainment was a lady who collects vintage clothing. She had several models who wore the clothing well. Clothing from the Victorian era through the 1960s was shown.
Boy, I tell ya, this camping stuff ain't for sissies! We've been at our campsite in Thompson Creek, Washington, where we have been Gate Attendants, since May 19.
This is our first time full-timing and mostly it's been okay ... if you consider that literally half the time we've been here it's rained! Man! We left the high desert of northern Nevada and will be boondocking in the mountains in Washington for the next five months and this rain is something else! I guess folks around here are used to it raining for three or four days and nights straight, but I'm not! LOL! It's beautiful and green here, though.
We had a deer grazing right across the creek the other morning, not 30 feet from the RV. I tried to take a picture of it through the window but just got a reflection of the flash LOL! When the weather's nicer, maybe I'll sit outside and wait for it. I DID get a pic of bear poop, though! LOL! LOL! We went exploring up to the top of the mountain on our day off and found it. It was pretty fresh looking (and hairy) probably from the last camper it ate, ha ha! The ride was nice until I realized that what goes up must come down .. eeek! I'm definitely a "flatlander"! LOL!
Hubby saw either an elk or small moose by the gate about 5 a.m. the other morning. He didn't have his glasses on and about the time he reached for his binoculars, I flopped over in bed, causing the windchimes to ring and scared it off (sad face).
We also have a little squirrel that comes bopping down the dirt road in front of us every day about 10 a.m. I don't know where it's going, but it doesn't pay attention to us at all, just goes on it's merry way.
The local folk keep telling us that we'll have moose walking right into our camp. Apparently, moose are pretty thick around here. We've also had some folks tell us that when hunting season starts, they'll be giving us some meat. You can bet I'm excited about that! I LOVE deer and elk. I'm thinking I'll probably like moose, too!
We had a few issues when first we got here. For starters there was a propane leak. Hubby kept arguing with me that nothing could be leaking, but I didn't give up until I found it and got it taken care of four days later (thank You, Jesus)! Turns out it was in the hose that connects the 100-gallon tank to our RV. (Hmmph! I KNEW I was right!!)
We also had an issue with the generator. We'd bought a brand-new gen as a backup, just in case, and sure enough, we got up here and the onboard gennie wouldn't power the coach for some reason. It worked fine before we came up here. Hubby flipped switches and breakers and messed with wires ... couldn't find ANYthing wrong. It would start fine, but just wouldn't power the coach or charge the batteries. Finally Tim opened up the new generator, put gas and oil in it and fired it up. Plugged the coach in and had the same problem; not getting any power! So he unplugged the coach and plugged in a power drill. The gennie would barely run it ... ugh! Something was wrong with the brand-new backup!! (are you kidding me???!!!).
Tim was at his wits end, had no idea what to do because he had no idea what the problem was. So, being Christians, we decided to pray about it. We know that with God all things are possible ... and I want you to know that the onboard generator worked just like it should the next time Tim tried it!! We were preparing to return the new gennie to the store and hubby decided to try it one more time. Well, guess what? Yep! It works fine too! God is good!
Come to find out, Tim had promised God that if he would give us a generator miracle, he would not hook up the TV. It would appear that the Lord didn't want us sitting in front of the TV watching movies while we are here. Instead, we spend most of our time reading the bible and other Christian books, studying, and learning to play guitar. I've learned about five songs that we can play in church when we get back to civilization at the end of October.
The Lord knew that He had to take us away from all the distractions of work, television, computers, etc. and bring us to a place of peace and quiet where we can spend time with Him and learn. I don't know what His plans are for us, but I know He has something!
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I hear this question often, and the answers vary…
“Motorhome or Towable … Which is best for me?”
The simple answer is “It Depends…”
But…that’s probably not what you want to hear.
Honestly it depends on how you answer this 1 simple question…
“What’s your intentions?”
Do you intent to ‘camp’ or ‘travel’?
There’s a difference…
If life is busy and weekends are your primary escape.
If your plan or desire is to visit campgrounds for long weekends and the occasional week long getaways or vacations you fit into the ‘camping’ category.
If your desire is to travel longer distances, visit sites along the way and move frequently then you fit into the ‘traveler’ category.
Towable RV’s are great for short term stays, infrequent use and are low cost entry points for camping.
Motorhomes excel at comfort on the road often granting quick and easy access to supplies and facilities.
Setting up and breaking camp is often less time consuming when compared to a towable RV.
I’ve owned, traveled and camped in pop ups, travel trailers, fifth wheels, pickup campers, class C, Class A, bus conversions and diesel pushers.
When traveling and discovering a beautiful beach, hiking trail or roadside attraction - having all supplies on board are often the difference between, ‘maybe next time’ and ‘let’s do it!’.
The comfort, convenience and mobility of traveling in a motorhome is my current choice.
What’s your choice and why?