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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Decisions Decisions

Good morning family and friends. Oh my it got cold last night. The temperature is only 34° now, but at least it is supposed to warm up to 61°; which is warmer than it was yesterday.

Tomorrow is a travel day. Our original plan was to spend the next two weeks in a Corps of Engineering campground along the Georgia/Florida line. We have had to change those plans. One month ago hurricane Michael decimated much of the Florida panhandle and surrounding areas. The East Bank corps of engineering park on Lake Seminole was one of the areas that suffered damage and is still closed for repairs.

So what are our choices and where do we go. We could stay here another 6 days, but that would mean we would need to leave on Thanksgiving day. No thank you. We have reservations for the month of December at Gulf Shores state park in Alabama. We were there last year and really liked it. Looking at our options heading that way were slim and none. The parks were either damaged from the hurricane and closed, or they were full or too expensive for our budget.

Fortunately we were able to get a site at Gulf Shores state park. It is not the same site we have for the month of December, which means we will have to move in 2 weeks. But, that’s fine. At least we were able to get in. They have a long waiting list. It is a very popular park.

Gulf Shores is about 265 miles from here. For us that is about a 5 1/2 hour drive. The park is also in a different time zone. We are in the eastern and the park is in the central time zone (1 hour behind us).

Mapquest has us going north along I-10. I would like to take the scenic drive along the ocean, but I am a bit leery. I am not sure the roads are all clear from hurricane Michael. For us, driving a motorhome pulling a car is not as easy as just going through an area in a car. We cannot back up. If we get stuck some place we have to unhook the car to turn around. What to do. Decisions decisions.

Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Full-Time Lifestyle 1st Anniversary

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Jubilee College State Park-Site C21

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Jubilee College State Park

Good morning everyone. This post is a few days late as our 1st anniversary as full-time RVer’s was last Saturday the 15th (also our daughter Karen’s birthday). I’ve just been so busy having fun I haven’t had time to post. I guess that’s the way it should be.

We have completed one full year of living the RV lifestyle. It sure has gone by fast. Looking back I had my doubts we would ever be able to start our adventure. We had so many road blocks that kept getting in the way. My health being the biggest one. But, here we are living the lifestyle with no regrets.

Many people have asked if I miss not having a home. My answer is always the same. Winnie is my home. I do not miss owning a large home or do I need all that space. I have everything I need right here. I do not have to pack and unpack a suitcase or sleep in a strange bed. We are always home wherever we are.

The best part of living this lifestyle is that we get to visit our children more often. With our grown children living in 4 different states we didn’t get to spend as much time with them as we would have liked. Now, we are trying to divide up our time equally between the states and we still have time to see family and friends who live farther away.

We have been asked many times which of the many places we went was our favorite. I can honestly say I don’t have one. We enjoyed so many of the places we went and saw for different reasons. We enjoyed the Corps of Engineering campgrounds for the wildlife and wilderness settings. We love any campground that is by the water. I mean, who wouldn’t.  And, we love any place that gets us closer to our friends and family.

Another question we have been asked numerous times is what has been downside of living this lifestyle. The answer is not too much. The same things you find unpleasant living in S&B home you will find just as unpleasant living in a motorhome. You still have to clean, things breakdown, the weather is not always pleasant and you sometimes have to deal with unpleasant neighbors. We just get to move if we don’t like where we are.

We have learned a few lessons along the way. First, take your time and don’t try to rush when setting up or leaving an area. Second, don’t try to do things when you are tired. That is when accidents happen. Just ask Clyde.

We have had a great first year living this lifestyle and I am so happy we are able to continue living the dream.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

Lake Wappapello State Park

Good morning. What a quiet night. Not even an owl hooting. The only sound we heard was the furnace turning on and off. It looks like we have only a slight chance of rain this morning and then cloudy sky’s with a high of only 49. Tomorrow sunny and a high of 53 if we decide to stay one more day.

Day 121. We had decided before we left the Walmart in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas that we would like to find a campground not too far into Missouri, which would be around lunchtime. We were hoping to get into the Corps of Engineering Campground in Greenville, but we could not get anyone to answer the phone so we did not know if they were open or if they had any available sites. We knew there were State Parks in the area also, but again we didn’t know if they were open. We decided to do what we do best and just wing it.

I was having a hard time finding the exact location for the Corps of Engineering Campground. Our Corps book gave vague directions and google maps was not cooperating either. Usually I have no problem getting directions. As we drove we saw a sign for a State Park and decided to go for it. We had no idea what we were in for. The road to the park was “white knuckle” the entire way. We went up very steep inclines, down the same “hills”, no shoulders, straight down drop offs, and the road wound in and out and all around. We were going deeper and deeper into the woods. It seemed like it took forever to find the park. Our favorite type of driving-not.

When we finally arrived and saw cars and people we took a sigh of relief. We just sat there for a few minutes to let our stomachs settle before going in to see if we could get a site. I know I teased Clyde for not wanting to go into the mountains, but if we were both this nervous driving in the hills of Missouri, I don’t think I’m cut out for going through the mountains in our motorhome either.

The park ranger was very nice. She told us yes they were open and to just go find a site and set up. They use the honor system to pay. After you set up you fill out an envelope, add your cash or check and drop it in the box. We were happily surprised to find out it was only $8 a night with 30 amp electric for us, as senior citizens. They have a dump station and a place to fill up with potable water if we need it.

We got back in our motorhome and took another deep breath. We had to go up another very steep hill to get to the campsite. I think we were holding our breath, hoping we would make it all the way up. Like The Little Engine that Could, “I think I can, I think I can”.

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Road to Campsites

There was only one other camper and they were leaving as we were coming in. We had our choice of any site. The problem was all the sites seemed to be next to a cliff, not easy to get into or very level. A couple of sites were pull-through. We decided one of those would work best for us, as we knew they were long enough for us to fit into. We had just gotten set up and leveled out when it started to rain. Boy did we time that good. We only drove about a hundred miles, but some of them were very stressful. We were glad to be set up and have a place to relax for a couple of days.DSC_0022DSC_0025DSC_0026

The park itself is deep in the forest on Lake Wappapello. So far we haven’t seen much wildlife. It is so tranquil here. A perfect place to be one with nature. And, Patty Pepper won’t have anyone to bark at. Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

Texarkana

Good morning. We had thought we would be staying put for today, but our plans changed like the weather. Today we will be heading east into Arkansas. My thoughts are instead of going further north, if we go east we can stay with the nicer weather a little longer. Again, we don’t have definitive plans, we are just winging it.

Day 119. Yesterday we left the Walmart in Wharton, Texas and drove next door to the Bucee’s for coffee and a bite to eat. That place was almost as busy in the morning as it was the night before at dinner time. We were on the road and headed north before 8:30 am. The weather wasn’t bad for traveling, just not as nice as the day before. It was overcast and gloomy, which is better than thunderstorms, high winds or snow storms.

We drove through Houston without any problems. We hit some traffic, but not anywhere near as bad as it would have been on a week day during rush hour. We also encountered road construction and those wonderful concrete barriers along the sides of the road that Clyde just loves-not. I think the last time we had to drive through that type of construction for as long as we did was in Ohio. Not fun. Clyde calls it his white knuckle driving.

Just before 11 am we came across our first rest area. Patty Pepper was not settling down and was trying to tell us she needed to be let out.  We also needed to stretch our legs. We aren’t as young as we used to be you know.

The route we were on took us through long spells of nothing but farmland and grazing cattle. When you are driving a motorhome that is pulling a car, finding a gas station that you can get into and out of without problems is not always easy. We still had a half of a tank of gas, but with the lack of gas stations or anything else around, we decided to keep our eyes open for the next station with decent prices and where we would be able to pull in and out of easily. We found a Texaco in Marshall, Texas at $2.29 a gallon.

For those of you who have asked or are just wondering how expensive it is to drive a motorhome, I have figured it out to be anywhere from $3.17-$3.70 a mile depending on the cost of the gas. I guess we’d better like where we are going and enjoy the scenery.

Our plans were to stay at a Corps of Engineering campground near Texarkana, Texas for the night and possible the next, but that was not to be. There were four campgrounds in the area and they were all closed due to flooding. That meant we needed to find another place to stay for the night. The Walmart in this area was one that does not allow for overnight parking, so that was out. Besides, we wanted and needed a shower.

As it was getting late (almost 5 pm) we decided to pull into a campground we saw along the side of the road with a big sign that says Texarkana RV Park. It’s a clean park with gravel parking sites. Some of the sites are pull-through, which we are using one of so we don’t have to unhook the toad. We also have full hook-ups, 50 amps and free Wi-Fi if you wanted it. The park also has a pool. Clyde said the showers were really nice; big and clean. There are also washers and dryers if you needed them and a game room with tables to play at and a TV. We were able to use our Good-Sam’s discount which was nice, but it was still more than we like paying for a one night stay. But, again we do what we have to in a pinch. We are just south of Texarkana, Texas. We would stay here again if we needed to.

I’d better get a move on. We’ve got to figure out where we are going today. For sure it will be in Arkansas. Loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Leg South

Good morning.  We went to sleep last night with the bedroom window open listening to the waves hitting the shore.  How cool is that.  It is 61 already this morning, but it’s not supposed to get as warm today as it was yesterday.  The high is forecast to be only 64 with possible showers and high winds.  It doesn’t look like a beach day to me.  That’s ok, there is a lot to see here on the island.

Day 75.  We were up and ready to get on the road for our final leg of the journey to South Padre Island by 8:30 am.  A Murphy’s gas station was just across the Walmart parking lot, where we went to fill Winnie up.  Gas was $2.34 a gallon, which we thought was high until we went further south and found that the price had jumped to $2.49 a gallon.  It’s a good thing we won’t be needing to fill her up again for another month.

The drive was uneventful with moderate traffic and some construction along US 77.  We saw palm trees, cactus, cattle, a few wind turbines and even the boarder patrol along the long stretches of open land.  We stopped at the Harlingen Travel Information Center to stretch our legs and walk Patty Pepper.  This was an easy on and off the highway stop, with plenty of space for us to park.  While we were there we decided we should have lunch (pb&j sandwiches) so we weren’t starving when we got to the campground.

We passed through Port Isabel, crossed the 2-mile-long causeway which was named Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge and arrived on South Padre Island.  A total of 162 miles.

After checking into Isla Blanca Park and setting up we were ready to take a short walk down to the beach and check it out.  The temperature was perfect in the 70’s, but a bit windy.  The red flag warning was out.  We are hoping for some nice weather beach days while we are here this month.  I didn’t see any shells.  Perhaps this won’t be the beach for collecting any. I did read that if you wanted any shells you needed to walk the beach early in the morning.  We will see.

This park is the complete opposite from the Corp of Engineering campground in Waco, Texas we just left.  The sites here are so close together – “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand . . .” . Just sayin’.  This is a first for us.  We’ve stayed in campgrounds that we thought were a bit too close together, but none compared to this campground.  I’ll let you know how I feel after a few days.

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Our site #C443

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Our site #C443

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View from our couch window

What enticed us here to this area was the warmer weather, close to the ocean with sights to see and things to do. I’m looking forward to exploring the area.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

How Many Steps?

Good morning.  Wow, it got cold last night.  It’s only 27 right now.  Thankfully the temperature is supposed to go up into the mid 60’s today with sunshine.

This is going to be a busy day.  We have a lot to get done, as we will be leaving here tomorrow morning bright and early to spend the month of February down at South Padre Island. It will be a new adventure for us, which we are both looking forward to.  We have really enjoyed this park and highly recommend it to others, but we have seen what there is to see in this area and we have so many other places we are looking forward to exploring.

Day 72. I’ve been trying to get out and walk more.  I need more exercise.  When we owned a house I got some steps in each day even if I never left the house; by going up and down the stairs numerous times and walking throughout the house.  Living in the small area of a motorhome makes any indoor steps minimal.  Besides you feel so refreshed after a good brisk walk in the fresh air and sunshine. Yesterday and the day before we got out and walked the park two different times both days.  It sure felt good.

How many steps do you need each day to be healthy and not live a sedentary lifestyle?  My phone keeps track of the steps I take.  I thought I was doing really good getting around 5,000 steps in a day; which is two laps around this park. That is about 2 to 2 1/2 miles. Wrong. According to health experts the average person gets between 5,000 and 7,000 steps per day.  They also say in order to reduce health risks and manage your weight you need to take 10,000 steps or more per day.

I am happy with my 5,000 steps a day for now.  That is more than I was able to walk this past year.  I just need to work on increasing my steps back up to a 10,000 per day average.  I am really hoping the weather down in South Padre will be perfect for getting out and walking.  Loving this lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn