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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Harlingen-Day 2

Good morning. What a perfect day it was yesterday for being outside. The sun was out and the temperature was mid 70’s; not too hot-not too cold, just right. It really could be like that all year round and I wouldn’t complain.

We were able to get a lot accomplished, but still have much to do. We did get ourselves a mailbox with a key and everything. And, we have an address so if I want to order something it will come here. Almost like when we had a S&B house. Then again this is a park that has both permanent residents and those just passing through.

What I like about Park Place Estates is that it has an area that is all park model homes and another area that is mixed and a third area for only those staying a short while. It is a very large park with something for everyone. We are set up in the mixed area. Our neighbors next door and across the street have park model homes. They do not stay all year round. They too are Winter Texans.

Back to what we got accomplished. My mind does wander. We got our patio set up; awning out, mat down, chairs and tables out, grill out, etc.. I was going to take a picture to show you, but forgot. Sorry, I will do it today.

I think I’d like to buy a couple potted plants to put out to make it a little more homey. I’m not sure what kind to get. I did ok with the fall mum plant. I didn’t kill it. I do have a brown thumb. But then, we did have a lot of rain that helped keep it alive.

Clyde still needs to finish pulling everything out of the basement storage areas to check for dampness, rust, dirt, bugs etc. as we were by the ocean with the salt air and we had so much rain. Besides, it is good to do spring cleaning every now and again.

Oh ya, I was going to mention, we did get our propane and it was an easy in and easy out just like our friend said. We also found out that they will come to us in the park to fill us up if we need it again while we are here. Nice, huh.

This morning the park is having a craft fair. We will probably go check it out. It looks today is going to be just as nice as yesterday. I will for sure be spending it outside.

I did start my second pine needle basket yesterday while enjoying the outdoors. My, how I love this lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

 

Victoria, Texas

Good morning. We are here in Victoria, Texas where we spent the night in a Walmart parking lot. This is a huge parking lot. We had no problem finding a spot away from the crowds. We are also along the curb where we were able to put the bedroom slide out without any problems. That’s always nice.

We only drove 304 miles yesterday, but it was steady rain almost the entire day. Plus, driving through Houston during that rain didn’t help, nor did the construction cement blocks, which Clyde hates with a passion, that went on for miles and miles. It is still raining this morning. Hopefully it will have had enough by the time we are ready to leave. I know I have.

We also tried to fill up with propane again. We stopped at a Flying J, pulled up to the propane tank and Clyde went in to inquire about filling us up. When he came back he said you won’t believe this, the guy won’t come out in the rain. So no propane again. I’m not sure if it was a safety issue or if he just didn’t want to get wet. Thankfully our friend told us where to get our needed propane when we get down to Harlingen. He says it’s an easy in and easy out. That’s one less thing to worry about.

On the plus side, there is a Hobby Lobby in Victoria where we stopped just before settling down here for the night. I was able to find the artificial sinew I need to make the pine needle baskets with. Now I will be able to put some of those long pine needles we have been collecting to good use. See my big smile.😊

Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

Using Mobile Apps

Good morning. It looks like today is going to be a nice but cool day with a high of only mid 50’s. It will be a perfect day to check out our new surroundings.

Day 159. We said goodbye to Karen and Rob, filled up with propane at the Oh! Kentucky Campground (which is located right off I-75 in Berea, Kentucky) and we were on the road by 10:30 am. It was a beautiful day, perfect for a travel day.

I use the mobile apps on my phone Park Advisor and RV Parky quite often to locate places to stay or to get gas and propane. This time it was Park Advisor that helped me find a place to dump our holding tanks. A Flying J off I-75 (exit 171) in Walton, Kentucky met our needs and had good reviews. We were able to use our Good Sam’s card to get a discount on both our gas and the dump fee, which is always nice.

We arrived at our destination, Lebanon, Ohio around 1:30pm. Our daughter Melissa met us at the entrance of her subdivision to guide us through. She moved here right after Christmas, so this is our first opportunity to see her new place. There is a lot of new construction going on and the roads are quite narrow. We wanted to weave our way through the subdivision only once and be headed in the right direction to park our motorhome in front of her home. Her driveway is quite level, but not long enough to fit all of the motorhome. We can comfortably use our motorhome with only the bedroom slide-out opened. So, that is what we opted to do.

With the necessities taken care of, it was time to relax and enjoy our time together. Patty Pepper made herself right at home by eating all of Lady’s food as soon as she came in. You would think we starved the poor dog. It is good to see Patty Pepper adjusting so well to our new lifestyle. It doesn’t seem to take her anytime at all to relax and feel at home at each new location.

Loving our lifestyle. Have a great 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

 

 

 

Card Game 99

Good morning. A very cold morning it is. 18 degrees right now. The furnace in our motorhome is struggling to keep us warm. We had to turn the heat option from electric to propane in the night. The electric heat wasn’t able to do the job and was blowing cold air. All we can hope for right now is a quick warm up to above freezing. The weather app on my phone says that will happen about 10 am. Not soon enough for me. Unfortunately, every night this week is forecasted to go down into the low 20’s.

Day 134. We had a very nice Easter Sunday at our daughter Tina’s home. She invited a few others to join us for brunch. After brunch we sat around talking and playing games. Today we played the card game 99. It is a good fast game to play with a number of people. There were 7 of us playing. The game is played with 3 coins each. You can play for money or to determine a winner, we just use the coins as tokens. It is a good game to play with kids too. It helps them hone their math skills without making it seem like schoolwork. It doesn’t hurt us old folks either to keep our minds active. It is also a good game when camping, as you only need a deck of 52 cards.

Later in the afternoon, our son Scott and Mel joined us after making the long drive back from Mel’s Mom’s, where we had spent Saturday. We are really enjoying our time together and we will hate to see our visit here in Peoria come to an end.

Loving our lifestyle. Have a good day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Trials and Tribulations of Propane Filling

Good morning. Today is going to be a busy day. We have plans to go to the Peoria Riverfront Museum. I’m not sure what we will see, but it will be a day spent with family and that is always good.

Day 131. Yesterday I noticed that our tank read that we were out of propane. I’m not sure how that happened, as we haven’t been using it for anything but cooking and I certainly haven’t been doing enough of that. We have been heating the motorhome with electricity and we have the hot water tank set on electric, not propane. Anyway, we needed to find a place to get the tank filled up. With a busy weekend coming up we didn’t want to wait.

Clyde asked our son Scott where we could take our motorhome to get propane and he suggested Menards. Clyde called Menards and was told they did have the capacity to fill a motorhome and bring it on over.

After putting everything away and getting our Winnie ready for travel we took off for Menards. With the campground out in the country, every place you go is a bit of a drive. Menards is about a 1/2 hour drive.

As we pulled up, the large propane tank was very visible with plenty of room to get in and out of. That’s a big plus for us. And, as with most propane refill places, they have a call button on the outside to ask for someone to come out and fill your tank.

We waited quite a long while for a young girl to come out and take care of us. When she did we found out she had never filled a motorhome before and that she didn’t know what she was doing. Not good. The young girl called someone on the same intercom we used to ask for assistance who gave her verbal directions. She still could not figure it out and the person on the other end of the intercom determined that the propane tank wasn’t working. And that was that. She said sorry and went back in the store. They never sent anyone with any experience in filling motorhomes outside to check it out for themselves. Clyde went inside to talk to someone and was given the brush-off. No one cared.

Like some gas stations, Clyde had to pre-pay for the propane. That means they put a hold on our money even though we ended up not getting any propane.  The hold was not released when we left the store. When we realized this had happened Clyde called and was given the same brush-off. He was told we could drive back over to the store and they would take care of it then. Other than that they said there was nothing they could do. I told Clyde we would wait until morning and see if there was still a hold on our $125.. This morning I checked our account and found there is now a hold for $2.15. I guess she did get some propane out of the tank after all. And, I guess even though it is only $2.15 we will be stopping at Menards for that refund. It’s the principle of it.

This experience has given us a bad feeling about shopping in Menards. We had just recently gotten a Menards in our area in Michigan when we left and had not had much interaction with them before this. I would say the company really need to improve their customer service policy. Management also needs to do a better job in training their employees.

We did manage to get the propane we needed. I called one of the U-Haul locations listed on-line. A very nice gal answered the phone and said yes they do have a propane re-fill tank but it wasn’t working at the moment. She suggested we call another location that also had a large propane tank. I called the location she suggested and they said yes it was working.

We went to the U-Haul on University. It also was easy to get in and easy to drive out of. The fellow that came out and filled up our tank was very knowledgeable and friendly. When he was done filling us up, Clyde went inside to pay. He paid for only what we had gotten. It was a much smoother and friendlier visit than we had at Menards.

Still loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn