Well, it is time to get the dirt daubers and spiders out of the motor home and start packing her up for our Summer RV Trip cross country tour. We seem to operate a little differently than the average “weekend warrior” or full-timers. We don’t do very many weekend quick trips, and I work part time from anywhere I can get good Wi-Fi signal. Norma works for the school system here so she is off every summer. This tends to give us a good way to travel during the summers to take long get-a-way trips to see many places that we would otherwise never have an opportunity to visit.
With all that said, we are planning a “re-visit” tour up through Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Newburgh NYC, Boston/Plymouth, Kennebunkport, Portland, Bar-Harbor, Bangor, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. I know that is a lot of stops, but we will setup base camp in the RV and drive the Honda Civic to the specific points of interest. We plan to be gone a month +/- the drive there and back may slow us down a day or two. We Can’t Wait !!!
New You-tube Channel to compliment the blog
Check out our RVacationer you-tube channel to find out a little more about us and our setup. Please help us out by subscribing and hitting the “thumbs-up” and “notification bell”. This is a good way for us to share our experiences both good and bad with you, and get your comments back on how to improve, and find out from you things that will help us do better in the future.
Online Planning Tools
The online tools we us for planning are of course maps.google.com, then rvparky.com, www.rvtripwizard.com, which is a member based tool good for pin-pointing common points of interest like Walmart, Pilot, Flying J, etc, and displays warnings to avoid low bridges, toll roads, and other hazards that would be a problem for a big rig. Then we use the street view to do a virtual drive on any roads that are suspect for being narrow or tight neighborhoods getting into the campground.
As many of you, we have been waiting since our RV Thanksgiving trip last year to get out into the world again. After winterizing the motorhome last November my wife and I sat by the window waiting for the first chance to get outside without frost bite. We are finally going on our first RV trip for 2018 to a local campground about 20 miles away.
We unplugged from house shore power, cleaned the drains, and removed the cob webs and drove about 20 miles away to Lake Guntersville State Park RV campground. This is our favorite local campground as well as a good place to de-bug anything that may have happened over the winter.
As expected, we had a few issues but nothing to diminish the thrill of being back outdoors. Our site had a great look at the lake on one side and the mountain up to the Lodge and golf course out the other side. What we didn’t plan on was this being the states “Spring Break” for schools and there were lots of others who had the same idea.
What went wrong
Our only incident that caught us by surprise was a small water leak coming from our ice maker. My wife noticed the carpet was wet in front of the cabinet that had the ice maker and I immediately unloaded the cabinets and turned off the feed valve. It turns out that it just needed a refresh of the silicon plumbing tape around the inlet. I just happen to keep enough plumbing tools and spare parts with me for this very reason. While I was at it I replaced the water pressure regulator at the faucet as well.
After we fixed the leak
We tested for other issues that may have been caused by winter’s cold temperatures. We checked the toilet, washing machine, and all the sinks, toilet, and shower. Then, our Ubiquiti wi-fi amplifier system pulled in seemingly unlimited internet bandwidth for streaming our favorite news and sports channels on directvnow.com. Our site was .4 miles from the wireless access point and it got enough signal to browse and stream TV. Something we do when RVing is to play games like scrabble or cards. Those things are a lot of fun, but we don’t seem to find time when we are at home.
The wife and I went on several nature walks and saw one huge buck at the golf course late in the evening, and as much as we could in the low light we think we counted 18 deer in and around the lake area.
Lake Guntersville State Park
We didn’t do much cooking or lounging outside because it was still a little windy and cool to be comfortable. However, we sure did enjoy our first adventure for the year. Our wonderful experiences have made us look forward to doing this at least a couple of times per month. The RVing season in our area is usually from late March through late November. Until the temperatures turn back to freezing and force us back to our homestead we are “On the Road Again”.
After having spent time earlier doing a traditional Thanksgiving with our family, this is our second year to relax at our annual Thanksgiving RV trip and enjoy white sandy beaches this season at the beach in Gulf Shores State RV Park in Alabama. This RV park is spacious with very large, level, asphalt sites. There is a large space between sites for parking, playing, storage, etc. My wife and I enjoy this park because of its close proximity to the beach and short drive to many wonderful seafood restaurants. Gulf Shores is only about 6 hours drive time away from home for us, so it makes for a good one-day drive without having to dry dock overnight to get there like we did earlier this year getting to Yellowstone NP. This year the temps were between 40’s at night, and up to 70 and sunny during the day.
Our experience “so far” is the Fish River restaurant and the Shrimp Basket in Orange Beach are our personal favorites. We haven’t tried all the options, but of the ones we have tried these made the top of the list. They are ranked highly based on affordable and delicious food, not the atmosphere or ambiance. We like to relax and enjoy a nice meal without having to mortgage the farm.
We travel with a 40 foot Dutch Star diesel pusher and tow a Honda Civic. Our traveling friends who we have shared many miles in this wonderful country, went with us this year and last year. They pull a 36 foot 5th wheel with a dually Dodge Ram with all the bells and whistles. If you read some of my last few blog posts you will see photos and read about our travel adventures.
The rates we paid are $43 per night. This includes access to the beach and other park amenities. There was plenty of moderate to lengthy walking trails. One of which we measured as a little over 4 miles. They are all level and well taken care of, including wooden elevated walkways over the swampy areas. The walkway also branched off to go over to the beach, but the cross-walk over the highway wasn’t yet complete.
There were quite a few out of state residents that were obviously setup for lengthy stays which speaks highly of the park ( in my opinion ). We met some full timers that were there with a new Dutch Star and two motorcycles and their tow vehicle. Very nice folks that sold everything and were just traveling the country with their black lab.
This year we ventured out in the toad to visit the Navy Flight Museum in Pensacola Florida about 45 minutes away. It was fascinating and had a wonderful tour guide that had actually piloted several of the planes in the museum. The display of the Blue Angels was hanging from the building structure and the pilot said they were actually further apart in the display than they actually fly. You will find this to be well worth spending a day there. There were also movies, and “4-D” theater to show a 3D movie with seating that will make you feel as if you are flying along side of the Blue Angels.
Today was the day to do what our son had selected as his adventure for the trip. When we were planning and budgeting, I told him that if he was going to some of the RV driving and all the toad driving at each destination on our “tour-de-America” trip, then I would join him on his selection.
He selected zip lining and white water rafting. He signed up for both of us to do the zip lining first while the morning was still cool in the mountains. The plan was for us to do the white water rafting adventure in the afternoon when the sun had heated the day up (but the water was still ice-cold). I am not a high adventure kind of guy. My idea of high adventure is to try to beat the crowd to the buffet.
We selected Montana WhiteWater in Gardiner Montana because they offer both adventures from the same location. They are located just outside the North entrance at Yellowstone in a small little town of 600 population. This was about 2 hours from our west side campground but is still a breathtaking view of scenery and wildlife.
Our zip line guides were Chris and Libby and they couldn’t have been better. They made it seem like there was nothing to it and inspired confidence in even this old fat man. One guide would go first to make sure to catch us as we get to each stop platform. The other guide then would stay with us and make sure we were each properly connected to the line and send us off and join the group last at each landing.
The one detail that the didn’t tell us is that when we arrived at the last platform which was 60 feet off the ground, there are no steps to get down. We had to free jump with nothing but a rope inside a self breaking pulley mechanism. This old fat man did not like that part as it was a free fall for the first 1/2 the way down, then it worked by slowing you down before you hit the ground. Clearly since I am writing this article, I lived to tell about it.
The white water adventure was later in the day after the sun had heated the day up. The water was still around 50 degrees, but the company provided wet suites, and vinyl pull over coats that provided adequate insulation from the water. That made the trip much more enjoyable.
There were 4 rafts that took the tour at the same time with each raft having its own guide. I found this to be fun once we were headed down the Yellowstone river. This adventure to me was much more like work as we had to carry the raft to the river from the bus. Then we had to do a lot of paddling forward and back during most of the trip. I was quite tired and am now sore as a result of this activity. However, All-in-all, it was fun.
As usual the week started out beautiful, warm, and sunny as I witnessed from my office. My wife is also off work this week for Spring Break so what better time to get in the RV, hook up the tow car (toad), and head out on another adventure.
We wanted to go somewhere we haven’t been for a while. We spent a couple of days searching, and reading reviews on several places within an hour or two from the house. The decision we came to was to leave Thursday and stay the weekend at Desoto State Park in Fort Payne Alabama. It has beautiful scenery, and is a difficult enough drive for us to test towing the car up mountains and around fairly tight curves and obstacles.
[Photos of RVing at Desoto State Park]
So, the 100% guaranteed forecast every time we go camping, it turned off rainy, foggy, and cold. BUT ALAS, that did not deter us from our long awaited adventure and getting out and enjoying our RV. So much for sunshine, and warm weather. IT IS GOING TO RAIN IF WE GO RVing !!!!
We are very blessed to have several friends that decided to join us and we followed each other to the beautiful Desoto State Park. Traffic was mild as we had hoped it would be since we decided to drive after the 8:00 rush hour was over. We had no issues driving up the steep mountain other than one of those huge oversized crane’s that have 10 axles was going 15 miles per hour up the mountain to the campground. When we arrived we were greeted with hostesses that were exceptionally helpful and friendly.
We were checked in by 10:30 in the morning and were driving to the pull through sites which both of us benefited from. However once we got everything disconnected from the tow car, and his truck disconnected from his fifth-wheel. We realized the sites were a little more uphill than they appeared. My camper had to sit the front bumper on the ground by evacuating the air from the suspension, while raising the back jacks to the point that the rear tires are just barely off the ground <yikes>. But, again, I am happy to be RVing with my wife and friends.
After about an hour of levelling, and hooking up electric, water, sewer, and putting the slides out. We also stretched out the awnings for the first time since last season. I ALWAYS get my wife to check the faucets while I turn the water on ( read other pages to find out why ). The kitchen faucet blew completely off the sink due to over pressure and it appears it may have frozen and cracked over the winter. Anyway, no big deal, there is a Lowes at Fort Payne and we picked up a repair part and replaced the sink nozzle.
Our friends also were working out some kinks from their winter storage too. They got settled in just to find out they have no hot water. So we worked with that for a short while. GOOGLE is great for troubleshooting, but in this case everyone who posted their problems, and their fixes were all unique. Nothing in common with his problem. So my fall back strategy is to take things apart one screw at a time until I find the problem.
We checked fuses, circuit breakers, power, tried lighting the gas pilot light with a manual charcoal starting lighter. All to no avail. I started taking things apart to see deeper into the problem, and the only thing I noticed was that their was a normal oxidation from being an outside appliance. There was normal wear and tear from a gas burning element which left a little rust like residue inside the burner tube. We vacuumed that out, and cleaned everything we could find with a steel bristle tooth-brush. When we put it all back together we asked the ladies to turn it on and see what might happen, and POOF. It light right up immediately which I wasn’t really expecting because we didn’t really do anything but scrub off the oxidation and put it back together.
Summary after thought was that cleaning everything and tightening everything back must have grounded wires back to a better surface connection. For whatever reason, it works so we took credit for fixing it like we knew what we were doing. Our wives were happy that their skilled men fixed a critical and life dependency for hot water.
No better day than today to go RVing! I love my camping adventures.!!!!