A Look Back

It’s the last day of the year.  2016 is almost over.  What a year we have had!  Some good, some very good, some not so good, but all in all a great year.  Some of our highlights were:

  • We bought our very 1st motorhome.   A 2011 Winnebago Itasca Suncruiser.
  • We celebrated 45 years of marriage.
  • We took 3 nice trips:  Mackinaw, Ohio and Illinois.
  • We got to have our granddaughter Kayleigh come stay for part of the summer.
  • We were able to go camping 11 times, 26 nights, 7 different campgrounds.
  • Our oldest son, Scott got married to his long time sweetheart.
  • Hubby had knee replacement surgery.
  • We went to the Lions football game on Thanksgiving with family.  And we won!
  • We bought our toad.  A 2016 Ford Focus with everything we wanted on it.
  • We got to spend almost every weekend with our adorable triplet grandchildren and our grown grandson, Tristan.

Yep, it was a good year spent with family.  Just the way we like it. I hope all of you are able to smile when you take a look back at your past year and that your next year is even better, with good health and happiness.  Happy New Year all.

Until next time,

Kathryn

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7 1/2 Months Later

Last May 10th I posted about being overwhelmed with all that is involved in owning a class A motorhome.  I was asked by my son Scott how I felt now about my abilities and on a scale between 1 and 10 how familiar am I with Winnie.  I had to stop and think about that for a bit.

I no longer feel quite so overwhelmed as I did in the beginning, but in no way do I feel like I’ve got it all figured out.  Everyday we learn something new.  Most times, unfortunately, it’s learned the hard way-like having the batteries run dry.  We had taken Winnie in to the dealership to be repaired and during the couple weeks they had her the batteries ran down.  The repair guys didn’t check the batteries and sent us on our way home.  The next week we couldn’t figure out why the batteries wouldn’t hold a charge.  We finally figured out they were dry, bone dry.  The steps wouldn’t retract and the front shades stopped working.  After adding water to the batteries and plugging her in to shore power, she is now holding a charge.  The steps go in and out, but the shades still do not work.  We haven’t figured that out yet and it is too cold to play around with them right now.

Lesson learned:  Batteries need water.  Lots of water.  Always check batteries.  Don’t take anything for granted.  The dealer doesn’t care.  They only do as little as they have to and no more.  (At least that’s how it is with the dealer we purchased Winnie from).

We still haven’t figured out when to use the inverter and when not to.  The electrical system in a motorhome is still over our heads.  The generator is still a foreign object.  I know many of those things that we haven’t quite figured out will eventually be a piece of cake.  The lightbulb just hasn’t gone on yet.

We would love to boondock this spring and summer, but we aren’t quite sure how to do it successfully.  I’m sure we will give it a try and make a few mistakes.  In the end we will figure it out and enjoy many more nights off the grid.  Our goal is to eventually be able to boondock in Quartzsite, Arizona with other RV’ers.

So, to answer your question Scott, I feel much more competent than I did at first, but I’m still learning.  On a scale between 1 and 10, 1 being where we were 7 1/2 months ago, I would say I am at a 6 right now.  I know the more we get to use her the more at ease we will be.

Remember, we are the couple who rent movies to watch and take them back unwatched because we can’t figure out how to work the DVD player.  Yep, just one or two more things to figure out.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

Senior National Parks Lifetime Pass

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There has been a lot of talk and press about the price of the National Parks Senior Pass being raised from a lifetime use fee of $10.00 to $80.00.  It is believed this rate hike will take place the first of the new year.  We originally were going to wait to buy our passes when we went full-time and were at a park to use it, but with a hike that big we decided to buy ours now.  I understand the need to raise park pass fees, but that’s a big jump and we need to save every penny we can.

So, today was the day I ordered our passes on-line.  It was very fast and easy to do.  I took a picture of our license’s, sent it to my email to open on the computer.  I went to this site and ordered the senior park pass kit.  I had to order each of our passes separately instead of together,  which wasn’t a problem.  I just didn’t log out at the end.  It is also $20.00 each instead of $10.00 when you order them on line.  Processing fee I guess.  I kept wondering where and when to upload our license but it wasn’t until the very end that it asked me to do it.

It really was quick and easy to order ours.  I suggest any of you who are 62 years or older to get your lifetime pass before the end of the week.   Per the USGS:  The Senior Pass covers Entrance Fees or Standard Amenity Fees at sites managed by U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USDA FS), National Park Service (NPS), Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation).  The Senior pass may provide an additional discount on some fees at Federal recreation sites. Please contact specific sites directly for information on what is or is not covered.

One more step completed on our way to being full-time RV’ers.

Until next time,

Kathryn

A Grill for Winnie

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Look what we got for Christmas!  A new Weber Q1200 gas grill in my favorite color, burnt orange.   And, we got the portable stand (not pictured).   Such a thoughtful gift from our daughter’s Melissa and Tina.  I am looking forward to warmer weather to try it out.

We will be shopping for a grill cover and some small propane containers.  We had thought about getting a propane tank smaller than the one we use for our home grill and a bit bigger than the tiny 16.4 ounce used for table top grills.  But, the more we thought about it the less we wanted one.  Safety was the main concern.  Propane needs air to breathe so that it doesn’t explode.  Our large propane tank that is used in Winnie is hidden from site but open underneath.  None of the other basement compartments are open and breathable.  It is also dangerous to carry propane in the toads enclosed trunk.  Another reason for just going with the tiny tanks is weight.  Lightweight, easy to carry, disposable and doesn’t take up much space.  Just easier all around.

Next I will be looking for some good recipes to use.  If you have a favorite recipe or tip that you are willing to share, please do.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

Toad has a Hitch

Well, just when you think all is going good someone points out a flaw in your plan.  You see, I thought Pearl, our new 2016 Ford Focus Titanium, could be towed 4-down without disconnecting the battery.  At least that’s what Ford’s 2016 towing guide and Motorhome’s 2016 Dinghy Guide says.  Thankfully I stay connected with other very knowledgeable and helpful RV’ers at iRV2 forums who informed me that I most definitely needed to disconnect the black cable to tow 4-down.  I checked the manual that came with the car and sure enough it says you must disconnect the black cable.  A big thank you to those of you who spoke up.  We really appreciate it.

Ugh!  So, a small hitch in our plans.  Too late to look for a different tow vehicle and I’m not really sure I would want to.  We really like Pearl. The only other negatives so far has been the amount of trunk space and the fact that this car doesn’t have a button to connect the car to the garage door.  The trunk space is a little disappointing but the garage door won’t be a problem once we sell our home and we are on the road.

What we have found that we love are the heated seats, remote start, Wi-Fi, navigation, and the list goes on.  Pearl is a really nice comfortable ride that will look like she belongs following behind Winnie. We will just have to add another step to the process which we don’t plan on doing until later in the spring.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Winnie Finds a Toad

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Finding just the right dinghy to follow behind Winnie (our Winnebago Itasca Suncruiser motorhome) took us a bit of time and consideration.  Winnie has a gas engine with a 5,000 pound hitch weight.  That means we need a light weight vehicle that is also a comfortable ride.  The heavier the vehicle the less personal belongings we would be able to take along with us.  Not going over the recommended total carrying capacity is important for both safety and insurance purposes.  At least that is the way we understand it.  If we are wrong, please let us know.

Many full-time RV’ers love to go off road and need a rugged ride to accomplish that.  We are more sightseeing “glampers” (glamorous campers).  Our vehicle needs to get us to good restaurants, local sights, souvenir shops, grocery stores and laundromats.

Another requirement we have in our toad is the ability to tow 4-down.  We prefer not to use a dolly and have another item to store or add weight.  We also are looking for the simplest and easiest way to hook up, tow and go.  We don’t want a vehicle that needs to have the battery disconnected or other inconvenient processes.

We currently have a 2014 Ford Focus that we could use as our toad.  It meets all of our requirements except one-it has cloth seats.  You see, we have a pug.  She is a small, sweet, cute, loveable pup, but a shedder.  Anyone familiar with pugs knows how much they shed.  I think they take the blue ribbon for the dog breed that sheds the most.  Every single hair sticks in the cloth seats and refuses to be vacuumed up.  So, we need a vehicle with leather seats, easy to clean and pug friendly.

We considered any make or model vehicle under 4,000 pounds, able to tow 4-down. We narrowed our search down to the Ford Focus, debating whether to either keep our 2014 (not our 1st choice) or purchase a new 2016 or 2017.  When we looked at the 2016’s the 2017’s had not come out yet.  We thought we would wait until they did come out and order just what we wanted.  When the information on them became available we realized Ford had changed the tow requirements.  The 2017 Ford Focus now needs to have the battery disconnected to tow 4-down.  Not good.

Narrowing our search down to the 2016’s meant we needed to speed up our search before the new ones were gone.  Luckily we were able to get exactly what we wanted; leather seats, platinum white with a sun roof.  Isn’t she a beauty!  I think we will name her Pearl.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

Snow and Football

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View from our back deck

The weatherman says expect 8″- 11″ of snow.  This picture was taken early this morning when the snow first started to come down.  It is so beautiful to look at and to play in if you enjoy winter sports, but not much fun for those who must drive in it or shovel it.  It is a good day for staying indoors curled up with a good book or watching your favorite football team on TV.  For us, it was watching our Detroit Lions win another game.  This time the Lions played the Chicago Bears.  Final score: bears-fb Bears-17  Lions-20.

It got me to thinking.  Will we be able to pick up our sports teams on TV in Winnie?  We have an antenna that has worked fairly good so far.  We also have a satellite dish on top Winnie but, we do not plan on paying for service right away.   Cable or satellite would have to be included in our entertainment budget and we would rather use that money to explore and see new sites.

As for the snow, I love winter and snow; just not months at a time.  Give me a couple weeks of snow and cold at Christmas then it can go away.  I’m looking forward to spending my winters sitting outside with that good book I would normally be reading snuggled up in a quilt.

Until next time,

Kathryn