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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off to Ohio

Good morning. It is a comfortably warm sunny morning which is always nice for a travel day. Our time here in Peoria is over. It sure went by quickly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; we never seem to have enough time anywhere we go. I hate saying goodbye. We always have such a nice time with those we love.

Today we are on the road heading to see our daughter Melissa in Ohio. We will be staying in a state park we have not been to before. There is a KOA very close to her home but they want an arm and a leg camping fee which is not in our budget. Besides, we like state parks much better. Caesar Creek State Park is only about 20 minutes from her home, which isn’t bad. We have always had to travel that far for shopping anyway, so we are used to it.

The weather is nice now, but looking ahead I see rain.  Some rain is ok, I just hope we don’t run into high winds and bad storms. Maybe we will get lucky.

Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

Back Again Peoria

Good morning. We made it. We had beautiful day for traveling yesterday and made it to our destination without any drama. Just the way we like it. 415 miles total.

We are at Jubilee College State Park, which is just west of Peoria, Illinois. We stayed here last spring when the park was only partially open for the winter. We were snowed in the first night. We came back north just a tad too early.

The campground has 3 loops. Last spring we stayed in the 1st loop, Coyote Cove. The other two loops were closed off for the winter. The 2nd loop is Possum Bend. The 3rd loop is Woodchuck Ridge, where we are this time.  At the moment we are the only campers in the campground. I don’t think that will last long. There are still plenty of weekend campers that love fall camping. Yes, fall. It is September even though the temperatures are still summer like.

There are a handful of 50 amp sites in this loop. The majority of sites are 30 amp. We prefer 50 amp when we can get it. The sites all have a gravel pad, picnic table and fire pit. Our site is located along the outer circle backing up to the woods. It is nice and level. I will take some pictures to share. It really is a pretty park.

As for amenities, the park doesn’t offer many. I see two pit toilets in the loop, but no shower house or flush toilets. There is a building in the 2nd loop with showers and flush toilets but I haven’t checked them out yet.

The weather forecast is showing all day rain for the next 3-4 days. That puts a damper on enjoying the outdoors. But, I always have my crafts or a book.

Loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

Seymour, Indiana

Good morning. Today is the final leg of our journey to visit our daughter Karen and her family in Berea, Kentucky. As we traveled more than 1/2 way yesterday, that leaves us only about 165 miles to go, about 4 hours give or take.

The weather is finally nice once again. I just hope it stays that way for a while. With temperatures around 75º today and 80º Friday, who can complain.

Day 143. On travel days we like to be on the road by around 9 am. We dumped our tanks and had the toad hooked up ready to leave the park on time. Then we had a little hick-up, which delayed us a short bit. No biggy. We are retired remember. We do things on our time. Besides, by 10 am we were gassed up and on our way.

We took our time, had lunch at the Farmland rest area in Illinois just before we hit the Indiana border. PB&J for us now. No more eating out all the time. We are back to the basics, home cooking, which isn’t all that bad.

I was able to do a little beading while we were on the road. At times it becomes a little challenging to thread a bead with the condition of some of these roads. We were bouncing all around. No matter, I still enjoyed myself.

We stopped for the night a little before 5 pm having traveled a total of 291 miles to the Seymour, Indiana Walmart. 5 pm isn’t a bad time. It gives us plenty of time to heat up our leftovers and eat our dinner. Then we like to go into the Walmart to do a little shopping. As I’ve said before, it is nice for us because we can get a few things we need before arriving at our next destination and it is a way for us to show Walmart our appreciation for allowing us to spend the night in their parking lot.

This is a busy Walmart with many truckers coming and going. There is another motorhome here also. It is an easy in and out also. That is always a big plus.

If you wanted to eat out you could walk to Steak ‘n Shake. We watched a few of the truckers do just that. There is also Applebee’s across the street.

Not a very exciting day I’m afraid, but sometimes that’s a good thing. Loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Goodbye Peoria

Good morning. Today is a travel day. Our destination is Berea, Kentucky to see our daughter Karen and her family. Berea is about 455 miles from here, which is too far for us to travel in one day. We would like to go at least halfway or maybe a little further today. How far we travel in a day is always dependent upon the weather and the traffic. We plan on spending the night in a Walmart parking lot. We can usually find a Walmart that is conveniently located right off the expressway and has plenty of parking space. That way we do not have to unhitch the toad and we are able to get a little shopping in before we settle down at our next destination spot. I like to locate 2 or 3 different Walmart stores ahead of time to give us options.

Day 143. Our last day with Scott and Tina was bitter-sweet. We sure enjoyed our time with them and we hate to say goodbye. We didn’t get to see Scott’s wife Melissa, as she works late, so our goodbyes with her were made on Sunday.

We went over to Tina’s house in the morning, while she was at work, to take showers and do a couple of loads of laundry. With the state park not having the water turned on for the season just yet, we’ve needed to impose on Tina (she doesn’t mind a bit). We are also able to use her washer and dryer. As we had just washed our clothes on Sunday, this day we only needed to wash our sheets and rugs. The rugs seem to get dirty faster when you live in a motorhome even if we try to take our shoes off at the door. I also wash Patty Pepper’s blankets with the rugs. Because she is a pug, and pugs are notorious for shedding, her blankets get disgustingly dirty very quickly.

While we were waiting for the laundry to finish drying, Scott came over to see us. It was lunchtime and we were all hungry so we did what we do best-went out to eat. Scott took us to a little diner close by called Lucky Dog’s Pub and Eatery. It’s a burger joint with good food and a very nice wait staff.

Later for dinner we met up again with Scott, Tina, Jo and her 2 boys for dinner. For our last meal together they decided to go all out and took us to Osaka Hibachi & Sushi Bar. It was a fun place to go with our large group. We all enjoyed watching our food be prepared in front of us and the comical performance the chef put on while doing it.

Saying goodbye was hard. It never seems like we have enough time together. The only thing that makes it any easier for me is knowing that in a few months time we will be back again for another visit.

On our drive home (back to the campground) I was pleasantly surprised to spot the same owl I had seen the other day and I was able to get a picture of him before he flew off. It was as if he was posing for me.

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How cool is that! I just love spotting wildlife and being able to capture the moment with my camera (this time it was only my phone camera).

I best get my move on. I’ve got a few things to do before we head off. Loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

 

Canasta

Good morning. This will be our last day in Peoria. Tomorrow is a travel day. Our next destination will be Berea, Kentucky to see our daughter Karen and her family. We have really enjoyed our time here in Peoria even though we have had to endure cold weather and snow. We will miss Scott, Mel and Tina, but it is time to move on. We will be back here again in the fall. That is the best part of living in a motorhome – we can take our home anywhere we want, any time we want, for as long as we want.

Day 142. Scott came over for a while in the afternoon to spend some time with us. We decided to play Canasta. It is a rummy type card game that we haven’t played in years. It was a very popular game in the 1950’s when my parents used to play it all the time. I learned how to play it from them. You can either buy the card game (which we have) or you can use 2 decks of 52 playing cards with 4 jokers.  It took us a little while to refresh our memories and learn how to play the game all over again. Once we figured out the rules and the strategy of the game we decided we should play it more often. It really is a good game and I can see why it was so popular. It can be played by 2 to 6 players. We had the 3 of us, but it would definitely be a fun game to play with 4 players and have a partner. The strategy would be completely different. Another plus is that it is a good game to play while camping. It doesn’t take up much room and is fun.

For dinner Scott, Tina, Clyde and I went to Pizza Works. Mel missed out due to work. But we made sure to send some pizza home for her with Scott. Pizza Works is an old favorite of ours. We have been there many times before, whenever we are in the area. We weren’t disappointed. It was just as good as I remember.

Loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

Hy-Vee

Good morning. There is snow on the ground, again. We got a couple of inches last night. The good thing is the temperatures are going to be a much warmer all this week so it should melt fairly quickly.

Day 141. The closest grocery store to the park is about 9 miles away. It is a very nice, very large, upscale supermarket. The Iowa based Hy-Vee was founded in 1930 and now has more than 245 stores throughout the Midwest. We do not have any Hy-Vee stores in Michigan however, so this has been our first Hy-Vee experience. You can find almost anything you would want or need here. We have shopped here a few times now during our stay in Peoria. I couldn’t believe the quality and selection of fresh fruit I was able to get at Easter for my salad.

Hy-Vee also has a restaurant attached to it with an entrance from both inside the store and from the street. Last night our group decided to eat in the Hy-Vee Market Grille. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, at the quality of the food. Every bite was mouth-watering delicious. I had grilled salmon with wild rice and broccoli. A couple of the others decided on one of the pasta dishes. Everyone said the same thing, the food was very good and they would highly recommend this restaurant.

I’m going to miss eating out so often when we leave here. If you asked me which was my favorite Peoria restaurant I would have a hard time deciding. The Peoria area has so many good restaurants to choose from.

I think all of us would agree the most memorable restaurant moment was when we were eating hamburgers and tenderloins with French fries and we asked the server for some silverware. You could tell the young server was new and not experienced. Her response was not sassy or sarcastic or rude, but more of a puzzled one. She looked at the food and then at us and said “you need silverware?”.  It was like in her mind our food choices were meant to be eaten with our hands, not a fork. I don’t think she ever did bring us the silverware. I think Scott just took some off another table. We still laugh at that.

Enjoying our lifestyle. Have a good day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Museums

Good morning. I’ve got my cup of coffee and I’m looking outside. The sun is coming up and it looks like it’s going to be a nice clear day. The only pit-fall I see is the snow they are predicting for later this afternoon. I sure hope the forecasters are wrong.

Day 140. With all of the cold weather we have been having and the prediction of snow forecasted, we decided we had better dump our tanks (grey and black) and fill up Winnie with propane. We still have no idea how we are going through so much propane, as we are using the electricity for heat and our “foodie” family has taken us out to eat more than I have been cooking. That’s one more item to put on our list to be checked out when we take Winnie in for maintenance at the end of May.

We were done taking care of business here, at the motorhome, and ready for a fun day with family just before lunch. Of course, our group had another restaurant for us to try. The Peoria area sure has a number of good restaurants. Today we went to the Blue Duck in downtown Peoria. It is right on the river and across the street from the museums we were going to after we were done eating. Three of us ordered the Brisket which was very good. I believe the other two ordered the tacos, which they had enjoyed before and wanted again.

When we were done eating, we walked across the street where we met Tina’s sister Jo and her son Edward to tour the museums with us. The two museums are right next door to each other. The first one we went in was the Caterpillar museum. As you walk into the building the first thing you see is the huge piece of machinery. The tires on it are enormous.

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Scott & Tina

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797F Mining Truck

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We were led inside of the truck where we sat down in a theater to watch a short movie about Caterpillar. As I said, this truck is huge.  The presentation was very informative. One interesting tidbit of information we learned about this truck is that 75% of the drivers are women, so watch out guys.

We enjoyed looking at and learning about some of the very old pieces of equipment.

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Clyde

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Scott

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When we finish perusing the Caterpillar museum it was time to see what the other museum had to offer. The Peoria Riverfront Museum has different main exhibits displayed throughout the year. This time the special exhibit was celebrating 200 Years in the Land of Lincoln.

The museum also has other permanent exhibits which is where we went first. The first area was an interactive, very kid friendly, exhibit which we adults enjoyed too. Another area was about the formation of the land, rivers and lakes throughout Illinois and about the wildlife native to the region. Again, I really enjoyed and learned some things I had not known before.

The Lincoln exhibit was interesting also. One piece they had on display that caught my eye was a framed quilt map of Illinois from 1888. It is pieced together in silk, wool and velvet. As a quilter and crafter I can appreciate the time it took to create this piece.

 

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Callistie Anna Anderson Alsop – 1888

We had a very enjoyable day with family. There is so much to see and do in the Peoria area.

Enjoying our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

Brasky’s and so much more

Good Morning. A very cold morning it is. We got down into the teen’s last night and we won’t see the temperature here in the Peoria, Illinois area above freezing until after noon. For our southern friends, who enjoy letting us know what we are missing, it looks like we are going to be getting more snow; 2″-4″ more on Monday and Tuesday. Someone forgot to let old man winter know it was time to leave.

Day 139. We enjoyed a nice day going to various places with our son Scott and his wife Melissa. It was very cold and windy so the plan was to do inside activities for the day. We got together mid-morning to have brunch but the restaurant Scott had in mind was closed and reopening in a new location in a week or two.

His 2nd choice was to wait a half hour and eat lunch at one of his favorite pizza places that was in the same shopping complex as his 1st choice. The outdoor shopping complex, know as Junction City, is very inviting with a number of different shops and restaurants to peruse.

Melissa suggested we go into the Pumpkin Glass Gallery & Studio which turned out to be a very nice jewelry and bead store. The bead section of the store has everything a crafter could want. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Scott kept apologizing to his dad for bringing us in here. I, on the other hand, thanked the two of them numerous times. I didn’t have any problem killing the 1/2 hour we needed to wait for the pizza place to open. I was able to get a few things I had been needing and wanting. With a very happy smile on my face we left to feed our bellies.

As we walked into Brienzo’s Wood Fired Pizza you could smell the delightful aroma from the wood fired brick oven. I couldn’t wait to try the pizza. We were not disappointed. The pizza was delicious. I especially loved the crust. It was flavorful crispy and soft all at the same time. I will definitely want to come here again.

Scott and Melissa then took us to the Luthy Botanical Gardens. On a nice warmer day we could have walked around the grounds and enjoyed the many themed gardens. Today we stayed indoors and checked out the greenhouse where they have many tropical plants and flowers.

Our outing would not be complete without having something sweet to eat. Trefger’s Bakery is in a huge old building with plenty of parking. We walked around trying to decide which of the many mouth-watering delights we couldn’t live without trying. They have breads, coffee cakes, cinnamon rolls, turnovers, cookies, pies, cup cakes, cakes, and so much more. We each made our choices. The bakery also has an area where you can sit and enjoy your baked goods and a cup of coffee. We didn’t have any coffee, but we did try our baked goods. Yum. Another good choice by Scott and Melissa.

It was time to split up for a while so that each of us could take care of a few things. We needed to go back to the motorhome and let Patty Pepper out. After that we went back to Scott’s and Melissa’s for a game of Trivial Pursuit. A game that took longer than Monopoly. It’s not one of my favorite games, but I enjoy spending time with family.

As I’ve mentioned before, Scott’s business is entertainment and events. He started out as a DJ but his business has evolved into much more. He is still a DJ at heart and has standing gigs around the Peoria area. Once a month he is at Brasky’s Bar & Grill where he plays music and does karaoke. We went with Melissa to kick back and have some fun. The place was packed and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. The karaoke was a hoot. Clyde and I both enjoyed our evening.

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*Scott with Clyde, Sue & Melissa*  Singing “Love Shack”

Loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Goodbye Mouse

Good morning. I can’t believe it’s Friday again. Time sure is flying by. It seems like the older you get the faster the days and weeks go by. I want to savor every minute I have with those around me while we have this time together. Life is short, but it seems like the time we have with those we love is even shorter. Especially with everyone scattered all over in different states. This is our last week-end here with this group of family. Next week we will be leaving Peoria and heading to Berea, Kentucky to see our daughter Karen and her family.

Day 138. Yesterday we stayed in and just relaxed. I had fun beading bracelets and Clyde got some steps in. One of the times he left with Patty Pepper to walk the garbage down to the dumpster I was on the phone with my daughter Melissa. I had just gotten up off the couch and was headed to the refrigerator to get my water when I was greeted by Mr. Mouse. He was just as startled as I was. We both froze in our spots not moving an inch. If I moved I was afraid he would take off and I wouldn’t be able to find him again. So I did what any normal person with a phone camera would do. I took his picture.

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Mouse in the House

Sorry I couldn’t get him to turn around and smile for the camera.

My next thought was how was I going to catch him and get him out of my house. I saw a clean disposable plastic cereal bowl drying on the counter that Clyde had used for his breakfast. Could I reach it and if I did would the mouse still be sitting in the same spot. I had to do something. We both weren’t going to stay frozen in our tracks all day. Meanwhile, I was still on the phone with my daughter who was trying to give me ideas. I decided to go for it. I grabbed the bowl and plopped it down on top of the mouse. Now what.

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Mouse under blue bowl

Step 1: Trap mouse. √ done. Step 2: Get mouse out of house. But how was I going to do it. The clean wastebasket was right there. Thankfully Clyde had just taken our garbage to the dumpster. The problem was how to get the mouse into the wastebasket.

I decided I would slide the bowl to the steps going out of the motorhome. I could put the wastebasket on the step. Then I could slide the bowl with the mouse into the wastebasket. It worked! I now had mouse and bowl in the wastebasket. Now what. I couldn’t stand there holding the bag with the mouse forever and I certainly wasn’t going to kill the little guy. Ugh. I just didn’t invite him into my home.

I decide to release him back into the wooded area. So I walked outside and flung the bag with the bowl and mouse in the direction of the woods.

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Mouse Released

I did my job. I would let Clyde pickup the bowl and bag when he returned. Hopefully the mouse would be gone by then and would not return.

So far in this park we have seen 1 squirrel, 1 rabbit, 1 feral cat (who wasn’t doing a very good job of keeping the mice away), a few birds and now 1 mouse.  We saw deer tracks in the snow, but not the deer.

Still loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn