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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Airport Park

Good Morning.  We are now in Airport Park, a Corp of Engineering Campground in Waco, Texas.  The temperature is currently 14.  We took the same precautions we took the last few nights to protect our home from having the tanks and pipes freeze up.  So far so good.  The only thing we’ve noticed is the ice machine is not making ice.  Hopefully when we warm up above freezing it will start working again with no ill effects.

Day 60.  We took our time getting on the road yesterday.  It was very cold outside and we knew we weren’t going too far to get to our next destination.  We left Lake Lavonia about 10 a.m.  

The only thing we really needed to do before arriving in Waco was fill up with propane.  By the time we were ready to leave we were down to a 1/4 of a tank.  Thanks to another reader and full-time RV’er, Al and Debbie of Our Coddiwomple Blog who suggested a Flying J in Waco that has propane, we weren’t worried about where to find it.

Once we were on the road, after looking to see what exit we were getting off and which exit the Flying J was at, I realized the Flying J was a few exits beyond the one we were getting off.  I needed to find another option to fill our propane tank.  Looking in the Next Exit book I found a Loves gas station, exit 386 off I-35, in Italy, Texas that not only had propane, it also was an easy in and out.  It was just ahead of where we were and Patty Pepper was restless and not settling down. We needed to stop and let her out.  How could you resist that cute face.

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Patty Pepper

 

I love the Next Exit book.  If you are a traveler and haven’t heard of it, I recommend getting one.  It lists each exit and rest stops along the highway and what you will find at each one.  We have the 2017 edition but the 2018 is now out.

When we pulled up to the propane tank at the Loves gas station a young man came out.  You could tell he had no idea what he was doing.  I asked if he had ever filled a motorhome before and he said no.  I then asked if he could get someone with experience to show him what to do.  He did.  It all worked out in the end, but they only filled it 3/4 full.  That was ok with me.  I’d rather 3/4 full than overfilled.  Propane there was only $2.09 a gallon.  That’s the cheapest we’ve seen it on our recent travels.  We got 10.8 gallons for $22.57.  We wanted to fill Winnie up with gas but we didn’t like the price.  The young man we were talking to said it was cheaper further south.  So we decided to wait and get it later.  With that accomplished we were back on the road.

We stopped for lunch at a rest area that again just happened to show up when we wanted to stop.  How convenient.  It was a really busy place.  Every trucker on the road must have been hungry too.  I love the ambiance of the Texas rest areas.  Each one is a little different but inviting.

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Texas rest area at 362mm off I-35

Our next stop was gas.  We got off at our exit 339 and saw gas at $2.13 a gallon.  That’s the cheapest we’ve seen in a long time.  It was a Valero gas station and it was an easy in and out.  $81 later we were on our way to our campsite.

Like the last Corp of Engineering campground, this one was off the beaten path too.  The GPS on my phone had us turn in a road too soon.  The sign said Airport park but it was the boat launch and also the road for airport personnel.  A nice lady was right behind us and told us we needed to go down one more road.  Unfortunately we had no room to turn around so we had to unhook the toad. While we were unhooking the car from the motorhome two more RV’ers also pulled into the wrong road.  I guess we aren’t the only ones who mess up.  Instead of hooking the car back up once we were turned around, I just drove it to our campsite.

We arrived at our site #61 about 2:30 pm.  Again it was a bit later than we had thought we would be, but then again we are in no hurry.  We traveled a total of 136 miles.

This campsite is perfect.  We have a beautiful view, a long paved pad, large site with a separate patio area with a picnic table, fire pit and standing grill. We also have full hookups with 50 amps!  There are a lot more campers here than at our last campground.

We are looking forward to exploring our new area.  Loving this lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

Manipulating the Electric

Days 47 & 48.  The sun was out and the temperature is a bit warmer.  These were good days to explore the area.  We took a ride through the park, checking it all out.  It really is a pretty park.  The lake is huge, much bigger than we thought it would be.  I can see that this would be a busy park in the summer.

There aren’t many campers here right now.  There are a few 5th wheels and motorhomes, but what surprised us both is there are two campers in tents.  We still can’t figure out why this park doesn’t have any showers.  We do have full hookups-water and sewer, but those in tents wouldn’t utilize those perks.  So, where do they shower?

Today we took a ride into the town of Wylie.  We found the laundromat for next time and did our grocery shopping at Walmart.  We also found a place to get propane.  They are open Monday – Friday until 4pm.  I just hope we don’t run out before Monday.

We are learning how to manipulate the minimal electric we have here.  It seems to vary in strength.  Sometimes it is better than others.  Usually I would think it would have to do with the number of campers using it, but we have very few people here right now.  Last night we had to wait for the furnace to turn off before we could pop the popcorn.  Minor inconveniences.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Oh,What a Day!

Day 46.  Oh, What a day!  We had a decent nights sleep at the Flying J.  It was a bit noisy with all the truck traffic coming in and going out all night long.  This was an extremely busy Flying J.  We were just glad they found a spot for us and they let us stay all night.  We were on the opposite side of the gas station from the truckers and even with the generator running all night you could still hear the truck engines. It really didn’t bother me at all, although I’m sure it would some people.  City folks like city noise to sleep by, country folks like the sounds of nature to lull them to sleep.  I’m not particular, either is fine.  I just have a hard time with loud people noise, the inconsistent sounds.

We had decided the night before that we would fill the propane tank up before we left in the morning, after we had used it all night for heat.  We were ready to leave a little after 8:30 a.m. and pulled up to the propane filling area.  Posted on the gate was a note that said they were all out of propane. Oh boy, I guess we will have to find somewhere else.

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We stopped at the Texas welcome center which was less than 3 miles from the Flying J.  We gathered up some information for areas we would be passing through or staying in for the next couple of months.  It will be fun going through the brochures to see what will be of interest to us.

Our next stop was a Pilot gas station that from what I had read online said they had propane.  NOT!  Another major boo-boo made by my dear hubby.  He pulled in and thought he could pull around the back of the station to see if the propane was there.  Well, guess what.  It was a dead-end.  Remember, we can’t back up with a toad.  To his credit he didn’t lose his cool.  He unhooked the car, turned the motorhome around and re-hooked up the car.  To top it off, there weren’t any propane tanks at this station and the gas pumps were too close together for us to get gas.

Down the road a little farther we decided to stop for lunch.  Usually we stop in a rest area and make our lunches, but we were out of bread and I needed to grocery shop.  We chose an exit that had a number of restaurants and fast food places to choose from.  Clyde wanted to eat at Long John Silvers but he passed up their driveway.  We turned at the next light thinking we could either drive behind the row of restaurants or park a little bit away and walk to it.  The road lead us to Walmart, where we were able to park easily.  After assessing the distance to Long John Silvers and taking into consideration the extremely cold temperature we opted out.  Our next choice was Sonic, which was close to where we were parked.  Problem; there was no eat in space.  This one was a car-hop restaurant only.  Strike two.

We ended up walking across the parking lot and getting our grocery shopping done in Walmart.  I then made our lunch which we ate before taking off again.

I still couldn’t find any place that had propane, but the Murphy USA gas station was right next to the Sonic and they had a pump that was an easy in and easy out for us to get gas.  Nice!

The drive the rest of the way was pretty uneventful.  We never did find propane.  We passed a rest area that had covered tables for shade and on top of the roofs were little oil derricks. They were so cute.  I wanted a picture but didn’t get my camera out in time.

After driving for about an hour off the expressway, we got to the Lavonia Corps of Engineering Campground.  The roads are rough but our site is on the water and the view is amazing.

The woman who checked us in said they were without power last week.  When Clyde plugged us in the amps were under 30. A little power, better than none, but not good.  We were hoping to use our electric for heat and save our propane.  Not going to happen.  We are having problems just using lights and TV.  I’ve had to put the refrigerator and the hot water tank on propane, along with the heat.  I made Quiche for dinner and continually blew the circuit.  I’m not sure how we are going to make it work here just yet.  We will figure it out.

One more problem is the bathrooms here.  The water is turned off and there are no showers, which means Clyde will have to take his showers in Winnie.  I like showering in her, but he doesn’t have enough elbow room to maneuver comfortably.

So, to sum up our day, what we thought was going to be a 3-4 hour drive turned into a 7 hour drive.  We drove 172 miles and got here about 3:30 p.m.

Tomorrow is another day.

Until next time,

Kathryn