A Lookback at 2018

Good morning. It is going to be a pleasant day here in the Rio Grand Valley; sunny with a high of around 70º. I’m sure I will find something to do outside.

I was looking back at our first full calendar year as full-timers and thought I would share some of what we did.

As full-timers we spent all 365 days in our motorhome. Although while we were at my daughter Melissa’s, we did sleep 4 nights in her home while our motorhome was parked in front of her house. So technically we spent 361 nights in the motorhome.

Here is a breakdown of our year:

We spent 222 nights in State Parks.

  • 103 in Michigan. 71 at Brighton Recreation Area and 21 at Proud Lake State Park
  • 21 in Ohio at Caesar Creek State Park
  • 10 in Florida. 2 at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center and 8 at Ochlockonee River State Park
  • 45 in Alabama at Gulf Shores State Park
  • 4 in Missouri. 3 at Lake Wappapello State Park and 1 at Wakonda State Park
  • 40 in Illinois at Jubilee College State Park

We spent 28 nights in a County Park (Cameron County) on South Padre Island. Isla Blanca Park.

28 nights were spent in Corps of Engineering parks.

  • 14 at Lake Lavon, Lavonia Campground in Texas
  • 14 at Waco Lake, Airport Park Campground in Texas

45 nights were in private campgrounds. 9 of those nights were in a KOA.

And, lastly we were able to enjoy 41 nights free.

  •  6 were Walmart parking lots
  • 1 was a Flying J
  • 1 was at General RV while we were getting repairs done
  • 33 were at or because of family members. Thank you for your kind and generous hospitality.

We spent $7,752.75 on Camping Fees. That breaks down to $21.24 per night. Which is down $2.00 per night from the year before. I would like to see it come down even further this year.

We drove a total of 6,213 miles and spent $2,078 on gas for the motorhome. We also spent $488.19 on propane. If you add the camping fees, gas and propane together we spent $10,318.94 total which comes out to $28.27 per night or $859.91 per month. We are going to try very hard to bring that total down considerably this next year.

We had some nights with full hook-ups, some with electric only and some with no amenities. We enjoyed the wilderness, lakes, ocean and RV parks. We have seen everything from Motorhomes decked out with everything imaginable to bikers sleeping in a hammock tented. Everyone has been kind and friendly.  We had a good year.

I hope this information is helpful for those of you considering our lifestyle. I know we have talked to many of you throughout the year who were either considering it or just curious.

Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Charter Fishing

Good morning. Today is going to be a perfect day to be outside; sunshine with a high around 80º. Unfortunately for our northern friends and family it’s not going to be as nice, unless you are a kid or adult who enjoys the snow.

Yesterday morning Clyde and a few of the guys here in the park went to South Padre Island to go fishing. Clyde is not a fisherman, nor has he ever been on the ocean to fish, so this was a first for him. The only other time he went fishing on a large boat was on Lake Michigan and he spent the entire time hugging the rail and emptying his stomach. It was not a fun experience. So when our friend Steve asked him to go with him and the other guys he was a bit hesitant. And, who could blame him. But, he said what the heck and was willing to try it again.

The guys went on Danny B Fishing Charters for a 4 hour trip. The charter provided a pole for those who needed one and bait to fish with. The bait they used was shrimp and some kind of fish. They will also clean your catch for a small fee, which most of the fishermen took advantage of.

Clyde had a nice time and didn’t get sick. He did catch a few fish, but those who knew what they were doing caught many more. Clyde said most of the fish the guys caught were whiting. I am told whiting is a good eating fish and after looking it up I found out it is what you get when you buy imitation crab. We have enough fish for about 3 meals. Now I will be looking up different ways to cook it.

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Steve asked Clyde if he would like to go again next month and Clyde said yes. Good, I love fresh fish.

Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

Oh Poop

Good morning. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Yesterday Clyde went to dump our holding tanks for the first time since we’ve been here and I heard my name being called loud and clear. I came over to find him holding the sewer hose, trying to keep the poop from spewing all over. He needed me to close the valve. Apparently the sewer line was blocked.  One of our new friends (the couple who lent us one of their golf carts) stopped by and asked “now what did you break”.  He immediately called the office to report our problem. They send over a crew to work on the issue. Unfortunately the problem couldn’t be solved. They ended up bringing over PVC pipe to extend our line and connected us to a different sewer line. That’s fine with us. The problem is solved and we didn’t have to move to a different site. We like our site.

We haven’t got everything put back away in the basement storage areas yet from our water tank fiasco, as we are trying to get the storage bays thoroughly dry before doing so. But, I have moved our patio mat off the cement patio to enlarge our sitting area. It also will help make it a little more level, as the edge of cement and grass under our mat was a trip hazard.

It was a beautiful day yesterday with some sun. I was able to sit outside and work on my basket. I will post a picture of my basket when it is completed.

Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Water Tank Woes

Good morning. It’s going to be another pleasant day here in Harlingen; high 70’s, but unfortunately not much sun. That’s much better than bundling up in winter coats for sure.

Yesterday Steve came over to see if he could fix our hot water tank. We have been without hot water for a couple of months now. One day it just stopped working. The water just stopped coming out of the hot water faucet. While we were on the road, Steve had us try a few different things, but none solved our problem. So, until we could get here and have him take a look at it himself, we have been taking showers at the campground facilities and heating water in the tea kettle to do dishes. Not much different from before we got the motorhome and enjoyed camping. Only now we are full-time RV’ers and I would really enjoy the modern convenience.

Clyde and Steve went and bought a part Steve thought might solve our problem, but after taking a look, it turned out that was not the problem. The two of them spent most of the morning crawling around on the ground checking things out. If you know the workings of a motorhome, everything is compact and never easy to get at to repair. In the end, Steve called Winnebago to get some advice on where to look next. They gave him another idea. Hopefully, this will solve our problem. They will take a look at it again tomorrow.

While they were working on the hot water tank, I was busy cutting a couple of pieces of vinyl to cover the bottom section of the screen door. We are hoping to block Patty Peppers view to the outside world so that she won’t see as many things to bark at. While Clyde and Steve were out shopping they stopped and bought a 1/2 yard remnant of black vinyl to use. Steve’s idea was to cut two pieces, glue them together so that the black will show both from the outside and inside of the door. We attached the vinyl with Velcro to the inside of the door so that it would be easily removable when we wanted the air to flow through. It worked perfectly and it looks very professional. I love it when a plan comes together.

Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Harlingen, Texas

Good morning. And a very good morning it is. We have arrived to our winter Texas home. We are now officially what is well-known down here as being “Winter Texans”. We will be staying here for the next 4 months. Yes, that’s right. You heard me correctly. Four (4) months. Let me explain. When I was in the office registering us, I inquired about what an additional month would cost. The longer you stay here the cheaper it is. I was told because we registered and paid for 3 months the 4th month would be free. It is a one time only offer. If we come back again next year that offer would not apply. I was shocked and surprised thinking how can we pass that up. I asked if I could talk to my husband about it first and she said sure. We decided we can’t pass up a deal like that. So even though we will have to re-think our summer plans, this is going to be a very nice winter for us.

Everyone here is so friendly and nice. They are making us feel at home and very welcome. While we were setting up we met a few of our neighbors. I will never remember everyone’s name. I am very bad at that.

I can’t believe how dirty the car got from being towed. It was the dirtiest it has ever been. I think all that rain we drove through did it. The first thing we did after setting up was find a car wash. She looks much better now.

The park also has a vegetable truck come through every Thursday afternoon. We timed it just right. I had just come out of the office and the truck was there. Oh my, what nice looking produce. I got a little of everything. We will be eating healthy for sure.

When we got back to our motorhome and were putting things away, our neighbor came over and invited us over for “happy hour”. It was a nice chance to get to know them and a couple other neighbors as well.

When we left there we headed over to our friend Steve’s for “happy hour” at his place. We took Patty Pepper who was perfect. She must remember being here last year, as she settled right down. What a nice time we had. It’s so nice to be back.

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I took a picture of our site. Our patio isn’t set up yet. We will do that today. But, don’t you just love our Yucca plant and the street is lined with palm trees. Our son pointed out that we have a sidewalk.

Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

Eastern Screech Owl

Good morning. Yesterday was another wet rainy day. Today should be a bit better. No sun, but thankfully the rain has moved out for a few days.

In-between the rain drops yesterday, we went up to the nature center to see a presentation about the Eastern Screech Owl. Her name is Archimedes. She has resided in the nature center for many years. As she only has one eye she is unable to survive in the wild. She lost her eye while hunting for a mouse. She wasn’t paying attention to what else was around and was hit by a car. The doctors were able to save her life, but not her eye.

Screech owls, unlike other owls, have perpendicular ears. Meaning they cannot tell immediately which direction a sound is coming from because a sound will hit both ears at the same time (like humans). With other types of owls their ears are at an angle so sounds that are coming from below are heard by the lower ear first and sounds that are coming from up high are heard from the higher ear first. This makes it quicker and easier for them to know where to look for both animals who prey on them and animals they prey on. Screech owls are also much smaller in size than other types of owls. They are sometimes mistaken for a baby Great Horned Owl.

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Eastern Screech Owl

I finished my first pine needle basket yesterday. It’s not perfect, but I am really happy with how it turned out. I still need to seal it with some shellac. Others have used bees-wax, varnish or Mod Podge to seal and protect their baskets. I’m not sure what is best or which I will use. I do know that bees-wax is very expensive but is natural and a highly recommended sealant.

I now know that each basket uses quite a few pine needles. Which means more walks on the trails looking for nice long clean pine needles. I also now know that each basket takes some time to create. With each stitch I take I need to add another pine needle. It is a time-consuming process, but very relaxing. I guess that’s why I enjoy doing needlework.

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1st Pine Needle Basket – 5″w x 2 1/2″h

I won’t be able to start on another basket until I purchase some waxed thread or artificial sinew. But that’s not a problem. It will give me time to collect, clean and prepare more pine needles.

Loving our lifestyle. Have a nice day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Eagles

Good morning. It got cold enough last night to leave frost on our car windows. Looking forward to another sunny but cold day with a high of only 55º.

Yesterday wasn’t much warmer but we braved the cold and took a guided nature walk to see an eagle’s nest in the park. We were told this is the female’s third mate. Her other two mates died. We were also happy to hear that she just laid eggs a couple of days ago, so they are busy protecting their nest. With it being a clear sunny day the nest was easily visible with my camera and binoculars. This is our first eagle sighting in a natural setting.

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In the afternoon we went to the nature center for a presentation on snakes. I’m not a reptile enthusiast, but it was very interesting and we learned some very valuable information. Now if I could only retain what I was told it would be great. I do have to say that those who have given the presentations are very knowledgeable. Their time in the field and education is very evident.

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We also managed to fit in a trip to the laundromat. Always a fun time (not), but it needs to be done. We were very tired and ready relax by the time we got home.

Today is my pine needle basket class. Can’t wait. Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn