Bill and Kit’s 2019 Excellent Adventure, Journal #2


The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.
Oprah Winfrey

 

Monday, January 14, 2019: Up, to cold temperatures!


These are Maine temps…yikes, need to head further south!

Kit and I had breakfast and started breaking camp. And “breaking” is the operative word…it seems our fancy-schmancy electronic leveling jack system decided to join the Feds and declare a shutdown!?!? So, with only an hour to checkout time, and with someone expecting to occupy the site we are now stuck to, a SNAFU (It’s a legit word, look it up!) has developed. Calling the MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) folks and explaining my dilemma they reassigned the incoming camper to another site and gave us an extension.

So, with that reprieve it was troubleshooting time…however, before we get into all that a bit of RV humor to lighten the mood!

And, a warning…the next two paragraphs are a bit wordy, what Kit calls: “Blah, blah, blah”. So…if this kinda stuff hurts your brain, feel free to jump ahead to Wednesday.

I was successful in using the emergency crank handle to lift the camper, move the truck under, and slowly retract the front jacks to safely latch truck to trailer. Now, at least if we must move it is doable…however, the two rear leveling jacks are more difficult to retract manually and were still extended and too close to the ground to comfortably move the camper very far. After a few minutes of internet searching followed by a few hours of electrical and mechanical troubleshooting, I was ready to call in the RV Repair Cavalry…but unfortunately, the nearby Mobile RV Service Technician who could get to me at some point tomorrow. Yep, another call to MWR to beg for another extension, which they graciously provided. Cold, tired, and a bit frustrated I called it an afternoon and declared an Early Happy Hour.

 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019: With a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, I came to the realization to call the manufacturer of the leveling system, and to my surprise a real person answered, and transferred my call to a real technician! While on the line, he directed me to steps I had taken yesterday which I dutifully followed. Then he had me locate an “auto level control module” located somewhere on the centerline of the camper and affixed to an overhead horizonal structure. Apparently, the location of this module varies by trailer manufacture, so it took a bit to find in a storage compartment. Then, after removing half the contents from my basement storage, I noticed a bright shiny red 14-gauge wire dangling in midair and in close proximity to a ¼ inch stud marked with an “+”. Checking with a volt meter there was 12 VDC on the cable’s terminal so I reconnected the cable to the naked positive stud. After crawling out of the camper’s belly and pressing the retract button on the system touchpad I once again had full system operation…Eureka. Thanks Lippert Industries for the assistance! The rest of the day was spent relaxing and preparing for tomorrow mornings departure.

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019: At 1130, we finally departed Redstone Arsenal and were on the road with a fully functioning truck and trailer. Found our way to Interstate 565 and headed southwest under darkening skies.

Crossed the Tennessee River for the third time in a week as we headed for the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Why Birmingham? Well, my father was raised in that southern city during the depression years and had often talked of his experience growing up in the old south, so figured we would strop for a few days and poke around a bit.

About two hours into today’s trip, Kit started looking for camping opportunities, and discovered an Alabama State Park about 30 miles north of the city that looked promising. Kit and I much prefer municipal, state, or national parks as not only are they typically in historic and scenic areas but are generally more rustic. In addition, they are frequently less pricy not having all the RV Resort frills we seldom use. Kit called and they had ample room, so we set the trucks GPS for Rickwood Caverns State Park, pulled in, registered for four nights, and set up in a nicely wooded site.

Spent the rest of the afternoon walking about the campground and going on a short hike into the neighborhood hillside.

It’s nice to see some green vegetation on this warm winter afternoon.

All along the well blazed trail were rocks with the distinctive erosion marks of swiftly flowing water.

In various areas that are cordoned off from the visiting public there are small entrances into the earth that foretell a vast network of caverns…

… which I hope to explore tomorrow!

 

Thursday, January 17 through Saturday, January 19, 2019-Warrior, AL: Kit and I mainly spent the three-days here exploring the area. As mentioned, my father grew up in Birmingham which is just 30 miles to the south of where we are camping, and I’ve often wanted to revisit this historic city.

Birmingham is, at over 200,000 folks, the most populous city in Alabama. Chartered in the late 18th century, it grew from a small agricultural region to a major industrial city following the discovery of Iron Ore and the corresponding laying of two intersecting railroad lines. The burgeoning steel production led to rapid growth and a large middle class…giving the city the nickname of “The Pittsburg of the South”. At the peak of prosperity, the Great Depression hit, and decimated Birmingham’s economy. More than 80% of the city’s residents became unemployed and “Hobo Villages” cropped up throughout the region. Fortunately, my grandfather was a lineman for the local telephone company so maintained part time employment being called in when the phone lines needed repair. Even with that, the family had a rough time making ends meet. Birmingham was rescued from this dismal situation by the advent of WWII and the need once again for American steel to support the war effort.

A historical monument to the cities steel making heritage is a statue of Vulcan, the Roman God of Fire.

The statue was relocated from an intown spot to the top of Red Mountain in 1936 and oriented in such a way that he was overlooking the blue-collar city of Birmingham…

Photo from the Web

…while “mooning” the upscale enclave of Homewood, Alabama to the west!

The “Iron Man” is 56 feet tall and stands on a 124-foot pedestal which can be climbed by a set of stairs to an observation platform where panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed.

An interpretive center nearby explains the history of steel production in Birmingham and displays all the materials that go into producing “Pig Iron” …

…ingots of raw steel that received their name as they resembled piglets. This product of Birmingham was shipped worldwide for use in manufacturing various steel products.

The boys and men working in the iron ore mines were primarily recently arrived immigrants or African Americans…some of whom were leased to the mine owners by the city while incarcerated in the municipal jails.

In those days, a charge of vagrancy was enough to be locked up and subject to forced labor in the mines…a common tactic in the segregated south.

Another Birmingham attraction we chose to visit was the Civil Rights Institute.

Opened in November 1992 and designated a National Monument in 2017, the institute is dedicated to the collecting and preservation of Civil Rights Documents and Artifacts. Contained within the Institute is a museum depicting the struggle to eradicate segregation and improve race relations in this vibrant city.

Following the Civil War and during reconstruction, racial prejudice and discrimination was rampant. The buzzword of the times was “separate but equal”. The local and state laws required separation of the races but rarely were the facilities equal.

Kit and I came across a pair of drinking fountains similar to the above in Shreveport, Louisiana while on our move to Key West in the mid 1960’s. The sight of these separate but unequal drinking fountains were confusing to us California kids who grew up in a culturally diverse neighborhood.

The black folks created their own communities and culture trying to abide by the Alabama State laws.

Black-White separation extended to services as common as hospitals, schools, funeral parlors, and even laundries.

During this era, a secret order of extreme separationist grew in the city and attempted to terrorize the black population.

The above museum artifacts were used in a Klan initiated intimidation campaign in the early 1970’s. The charred cross was donated by the FBI and the Klan Costume was donated by an anonymous Klansman.

African American churches served as meeting places for discussing and planning anti-segregation marches and other civil rights actions. As such, from the late 1940’s to the mid 1960’s there were 50 racially motivated church bombings in Birmingham, including the notorious explosion at the 16th Street Baptist church on Sunday morning, September 15, 1963. This act of domestic terrorism, against an African American church, and at the time of morning services, killed 4 young girls and injured 22 additional parishioners…one of the casualties of this heinous act was eleven-year-old Denise McNair.

And one of the more poignant artifacts in the museum is young Denise’s pocketbook with her personal property still enclosed including a small bible.

As a side note, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lived in Birmingham and was eight years old at the time of the bombing. She was a classmate and friend of Denise McNair but was attending services at her father’s church a few blocks away that fateful morning.

A sad day in our nation’s history, and one that galvanized caring citizens to demand an end of race baiting, terrorism, and all laws thinly disguised as harmless municipal ordinances. As a result, this cruel and cowardly act resulted in a fundamental change brought about by caring and concerned Americans and helped lead to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Located on the opposite corner from the Civil Rights Institute is the historic 16th Street Baptist Church.

Which, following repairs from the bombing, was reopened and is in service to the congregation today. And as a part of the historic civil rights movement, the church is also open to the public.

A short film about the bombing and its aftermath is shown in honor of the four young lives lost that day.

A beautifully serene church and an institute of comfort to the parishioners some of who are on site to share their experiences and answer questions.

A great day in a great city. But now it was time for dinner, so on advice of a few locals we made our way to Jim ‘N Nick’s BAR-B-Q.

A cozy southern barbeque joint and a great place to talk and relax over a meal.

Over the years, Kit and I have enjoyed food in some of the nation’s most famous cities for barbeque and this place rates in our personal top five. The barbeque was moist and flavorful…and there was plenty of it!

What a fantastic way to close out the day!

On yet another day during our stay at Rickwood Caverns State Park I decided to tour the namesake cave while Kit enjoyed some quiet “Kit Time”. The cave is estimated to be over 300,000 years old and was created by water rushing through the limestone strata of the area. It was commercially developed in the mid 1960’s into a “show cave” by two gentlemen who bought the property then used a contraction of their names to form the word “Rickwood”. One of the men was the local Boy Scout leader and as a scout project pressed his troop into service to explore, excavate, and create safe access and trails for the anticipated paying public. Years later, the land and cave were purchased by the State of Alabama and a state park was created.

My tour guide was a delightful young lady by the name of Anizia.

And I was her only customer for the tour so enjoyed a personal and more in-depth tour.

In order to gain access to the best part of the cave, the Boy Scouts hand-built stairs and installed steel handrails.

These improvements constructed over fifty years ago are still in service today!

In order to gain access to other parts of the cave, the scouts had to blast tons of rock using dynamite…try using youngsters to do that today! Then, rather than haul all this material to the surface, they used the excavated aggregate to create rock walls and barriers.

Their excavation efforts were well worth the trouble as it opened the most spectacular parts of the cave.

The path through the cave is a loop that leads you down 175 feet by way of stairs, hand-built trails, and natural passageways…

…created by an underground river…

…which is still flowing today in the deepest parts of the cave. The pipe you see in the photo above provides cool, clean water to the surface for the state parks use…primarily as a source to fill the parks swimming pool in the summer. Pretty creative!

Rickwood Caverns is a live cave.

In that, surface water is still percolating through the ground and dripping from the caves ceiling which continues to create the stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations.

The below photo appears to be inserted into the journal upside down.

But I assure you that the perception is an optical illusion brought about by the cave dripping water from the ceiling over thousands of years and the subterranean river eroding the ceiling.

Speaking of ceilings, they provide the perfect perch for the many bats that call this cave home…such as this cute little fellow.

There were other critters and marine life in the cave thousands of years ago as evident by the many fossils protruding from the cave walls.

And evidence of early man visiting and possibly living in the cave is documented by various primitive tools and other artifacts discovered and displayed in cases at the state parks’ interruptive center.

Some of the passageways required some stooping and bending to navigate.

And others were an easy stroll.

A little-known fact was that during the cold war period, Rickwood Caverns became a designated fallout shelter and tons of civil defense food, water and other materials were stored in an area of the cave out of sight of the tourists.

During our past Excellent Adventure trips, I have toured dozens of caves, including the biggies, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and I can safely say that Rickwood caverns is the second finest state-owned show cave that I’ve visited, falling just behind Kartchner Caverns in Arizona. If you’re anywhere near this area, treat yourself to an enjoyable tour of a fantastic cave.

Returning to the camper cold and hungry, an incredible smell greeted me as I opened the door.

Kit had made one of her signature pots of soup and it was delicious!

Since my father’s people grew up in the Birmingham area it stood to reason that some of our relatives would still reside in the area. Due to Kit’s computer sleuthing, she discovered a cousin that we had not seen since 1975.

Cousin Sandy, and her husband Vern reside a mere five miles from where we are camped and graciously invited us over for an afternoon of conversation, apple pie, and coffee.

What a great time reconnecting, reminiscing, and catching up on the past forty-four years…Thanks folks!

Well, that’s it from Birmingham, tomorrow we head south…or west…or east! Stay tuned!!

Kit’s Bit’s: It was great to finally spend some time in Birmingham. Seems we’re always in a hurry to get “somewhere” and never took the time to explore this area. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Civil Rights Museum. From news reports between the 60’s up to the 90’s, I remembered many of the incidents that were portrayed at the museum. Also, I enjoyed visiting the 16th Street Baptist Church, right across the street. There was a large group of students there and the Docent was discussing many of the events that had taken place there. The best part of our stop here was reuniting with Bill’s cousin Sandy and her husband Vern. We had visited Sandy and her family during our cross-country trip (due to USN transfer from San Diego to Norfolk) in 1975, then, lost track of them. It took many years to finally catch up with her! We had a delightful afternoon! Thanks, Sandy & Vern!

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Bill and Kit’s 2019 Excellent Adventure, Journal #1

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
Jack Kerouac

 

Friday, January 4, 2019: It’s early (0406 to be exact) on a frosty morning and we are off on another winter RV adventure to parts yet unknown.

Yes, this is about 5 weeks later than Kit and I have historically departed, and we were deferred even further due to a small snowstorm that grazed the Maine coast.

Fortunately, we were only delayed 24 hours, and the light fluffy snow that clung to the camper’s roof was systematically deposited along the roadsides of our sleepy little town on our way to Interstate 295.

After a quick safety stop at the Kittery Rest Area to verify that the wheels were still on the rig, we continued to motor south through New Hampshire and on into Charlton, Massachusetts where we took a break for breakfast and fuel. Back underway at 0835 I noticed a truck milestone event when the odometer rolled over to 60,000 miles! Not too bad for a 2015 vintage truck, until one factors in the fact that most of that mileage comes in six-month increments.

Twenty-five minutes later we entered the State of Connecticut, and another hour and a half found us crossing the Hudson River at Newburgh, New York.

Little RV traffic this time of the year, but we did encounter this fellow snowbird who was hauling a modified 1955 Chevy.

If your going to tow your daily driver to a southern wintering over spot, it might as well be a classic car.

Speaking of classics, shortly before departing Maine, Kit finished up a cover for our down comforter.

One side has road signs, and the other woodies and surfboards…three of our four favorite things!

By noon we encountered the State of Pennsylvania and began discussing where to lay over for tonight. Typically, on the first night out and with the camper winterized, we opt for a nice motel…however the temps are mild by Northeast standards and it is predicted to stay above freezing tonight, so we called ahead to secure a spot at The Western Village RV Park in Carlisle, PA.

After a quick stop at the local Wal-Mart for some groceries, we pulled into the park at 1700 hours logging a whopping 599 miles for the day! Which is twice the daily road mileage we try to adhere to, but typical for the first day out…gotta get south to warmer weather as soon as possible you know?!

As Kit prepared the inside, I attended to the outside chores including leveling and stabilizing the camper…

…then draining and flushing the freshwater system.

After a glass of vino followed by a nice warm meal it was off to an early slumber…good night!

 

Saturday, January 5, 2019: Up relatively early following a very restful sleep. Kit and I enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast and lounged around a bit before breaking camp and hitting the road at 1130 hours where we continued to follow Interstate 81 southerly.

There are many people Kit and I have introduced through these journals and enjoy spending time with during our trips…one special couple is our high school friend Joanne and her husband Ron.

Sadly, Ron passed away a few weeks ago following a relatively minor surgical procedure. A retired long-haul truck driver, and a physically imposing individual, Ron was the proverbial gentle giant, treating his friends with courtesy and lovingly taking care of Joanne as she was battling her own health issues. Rest in Peace buddy…you will be missed by more folks than you ever imagined.

Day two is also historically a travel day, and this year followed suit. So, we didn’t take time for any sightseeing or tourist stops…still a bit raw in these parts to spend too much outside.


By 1233 we rolled into the State of Maryland, then 13 minutes later crossed the Potomac River into West Virginia and by 1336 hours were in the State of Virginia. By 1600 Kit started to look for a viable spot to camp and discovered the Shenandoah Valley RV Park in Mount Jackson, Virginia.

Where the fees were reasonable, the grounds tidy, the facilities clean and the sites spacious.

Following some walking around time and a nice meal, it was once again time to retire early for our two weary travelers.

 

Sunday, January 6, 2019-Mount Jackson, Virginia: Over coffee this morning, Kit and I decided to take a layover day to rest up and attend to some truck and trailer maintenance items. I

This is a good spot to highlight our family in pictures as we’ve done most winter trips over the past ten years.

Fortunately, all is well in Tuckerland and everyone is thriving. Daughter Kim, son Joe, and his girlfriend Whitney are all working in Maine and taking care of overseeing our home while we are away.

Son Joe and daughter-in-law Ann still live about an hour away and are doing well.

Their offspring are developing into fine young adults…Katie is working in the world of high finance in New York City and Chris is a first-year student at a university in Rhode Island.

Daughter Suzanne and son in law still reside in Las Vegas…

…and their children Jack and Tucker are doing well and spend a few weeks with us in Maine each summer.

Then there is our great grand dog, Finny who we miss terribly…along with the rest of the family of course. We really enjoy having The Finster in our lives.

Kit and I are very proud of our family and enjoy watching as they successfully navigate through life!

 

Monday, January 7, 2019: Hit the road at 0952 and found our way to I-81 to continue south.

Kit is a great traveling companion and frequently helps in navigation chores and does 90% of the campsite research and selection. And I’m not a very good passenger, so I do most of the driving, which is fine with Kit as she can get some reading or knitting or napping accomplished during the long travel days.

At 1500 we crossed into Tennessee and an hour later Kit found us another wonderful campground to spend the evening.

A rustic mom and pop place built, owned, and managed by a backwoods character named Hal.

The sight of old gas pumps and other petroliana elicited a conversation about old cars and truck. Hal had just finished a COE flatbed built to haul his vintage pickup.

The pickup features a 383 stroked Chevrolet motor and 4:11 gears making for a stout combination to run shine along the back roads of Tennessee. He is now in the market for his next project…busy man!

Hal started constructing the campground twenty years ago and has done most of the work himself …and, it’s still not finished! The grounds are laid out very nice and feature hand-built structures featuring many country artifacts from his lifelong hobby of picking. Hal keeps his campsite prices very reasonable by doing most of the daily chores himself.

Having plenty of land, he took it upon himself to take his tractor and carve out a two-acre fish pond.

Then stocked it with catfish and added some waterfowl to the project.

Hal purchased a white swan and two black swans which he feeds daily with the assistance of his puppy Pepper.

Of course, the feeding is also enjoyed by the catfish as well as various migratory birds.

Kit and I agree this would be another campground to spend some downtime, however coming on the heels of yesterday’s layover, we decided to continue on in the morning.

As evening fell, we enjoyed some wine, a nice dinner and a beautiful Tennessee sunset.

Goodnight!

 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019: Another travel day and we were up and on the road before 1100.

Within the hour we jumped on Interstate 40 and then intersected Interstate 75 to continue south.

Around noon we crossed the Tennessee River and stopped at a Flying J Truck Stop for fuel and lunch. Shortly after resuming our trek found us near Chattanooga where we shifted to Interstate 24 South. Soon we were in Georgia, then back in Tennessee…this interstate winds a bit across the two state lines at this point of its travel. Crossing the Tennessee River once again, we encountered State Road 72 South which we cruised into Alabama and encountered the Central Time Zone. At 1600 hours we pulled into the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal just south of the city of Huntsville and set up for a few days stay in their very nice military RV Park.

Kit and I have driven through Huntsville during previous Excellent Adventure trips and vowed to one day stop and explore the area…this is the day!

 

Wednesday, January 9 through Sunday January 13, 2019-Huntsville, Alabama: Spent time here doing some shopping, clothes washing, fixing a bent clip-pin on the camper, washing the rig, repairing a leaking dump hose, and driving about the base and city.

One attraction that we (I) wanted to spend time at is the US Space and Rocket Center.

The museum is owned and operated by the State of Alabama with support from NASA and The Smithsonian. It claims to have the largest collection of space and rocketry artifacts in the country and, in addition to various exhibit halls, has a huge building housing an entire 363 foot long by 33 foot diameter Saturn V Rocket.

This three-stage rocket was developed for Americas moon landing missions and the first stage hosts five gigantic Rocketdyne F-1motors.

The motors develop 7,891,000 pounds of thrust in order to lift the 6,500,000 pound rocket off the launchpad and rocket (no pun intended) the Saturn V to a height of 42 miles at a speed of 6,164 MPH…all in under 3 minutes! Then the first stage separates and turns over the duties of flight to the second stage, followed by the third stage which boosts the mission payload into space.

In addition to many other artifacts and informative displays housed in this massive building are a Lunar Rover and the actual Apollo 16 Command Module.

This unit carried three astronauts to moon orbit where two of them transferred to a smaller Lunar Lander to access, explore, collect samples and depart the surface of the moon. Then once safely back onboard, the Command module returned to earth burning through the atmosphere…

…to a parachute assisted landing in the ocean, where the US Navy was ready to retrieve the module.

Kit and I vividly remember the first successful manned moon mission in July of 1969 and now to see many of the components that made that possible was a real treat!

Another treat was in meeting and spending some time talking to an authentic rocket scientist. Gray (yep, that’s his real name) spent 43 years working at the nearby Marshal Space Flight Center and spent considerable time working on various Nasa projects including the Apollo Missions.

Now retired, Gray volunteers a few days a week at the Space and Rocket center to help visitors understand the complexities of the equipment that successfully delivered man to the surface of the moon…and, more importantly successfully ensured their safe return to mother earth.

Another display of interest was one of four Mobile Quarantine Units.

Basically, a highly modified Airstream travel trailer, these units were placed on the recovery Aircraft Carrier to quarantine the astronauts until it was deemed safe for them to mingle with the earth bound public.

Other exhibits of interest were a training mockup of the International Space station…

…which one could walk through and see how the inhabitants lived, worked, slept…

…and accomplished other things.

Also, on display was the nose cone that carried the first two living American creatures to the upper atmosphere during a 1,600 mile flight.

In May of 1959, a pair of monkeys named Able and Baker (yea, I know…creative, huh?) launched atop a Jupiter Rocket sustaining 38 G’s of force and nine minutes of weightlessness, before they were successfully returned to earth.

Able died a few months later but Baker was cared for in a special enclosure here at the Space Center delighting the visiting public with her antics until succumbing of old age at 27.

NASA engineers were very bright, and a bit playful as well…one engineer took it upon himself to design and prototype a water powered Space Toy.

Oscar D. Holderer built this toy to encourage rocketry in a younger generation. I recall playing with a similar toy as a youngster!

Also, on the grounds is the US Space Camp.

Where youngsters and adults can learn about careers in the space program and utilize many of the museums trainers to practice their new-found skills.

What a great day at the US Space and Rocket Center, if your travels ever find you near Huntsville, we highly recommend taking a day to spend at this premier facility.

A few miles to the north is the home of Debbie, a former Vermont friend, and her husband Sam. Whenever we are in the area, Kit and I try and spend a few hours with this delightful young couple.


Thanks for a making time for us!

Well, that closes out week one of our 2019 Excellent Adventure…stay tuned for further exploits from the road!

Kit’s Bit’s: So far, our trip has gone smoothly. However, I’m thinking we need to figure out a better “first day routine”. Fortunately, this was our smoothest first day on the road but, driving 699 miles over 12 hours is a bit insane. We need to find a campground within 300 miles to stay in the first night. As always, it was a joy to visit with Sam & Debbie. We try to see them whenever we’re in the area. Hopefully, if they make it to Vermont this next summer, they will have a little extra time to come see us in Maine. 😊

 

RV’er Etiquette

 1. Leaking Black Tank – There’s no easy way to say this, it’s not a simple DIY fix. If your black tank is leaking call a professional.  

2. Encroachment– Walking on other people’s sites is a No-No. There is already not enough space, and to occupy someone else’s is just selfish.

3. Freeing The Beasty– Walking dogs off leash. This may be shocking to pet lovers, but the whole world isn’t dog friendly.

4. Bass up to 10– Noise levels should be kept at respectable volumes, RV walls are very thin.

5. Pet doo- Clean up after your pets. It’s your choice to have them, and your responsibility clean up their doo.

6. Trash. Yeah, it actually has to be said, sadly. Trash left out, no matter how innocent, invites creatures to your area.

8. Toys– If you have children, please keep their toys corralled on your site. No one wants to wake up in the morning and trip on toys, or worse step on a lego. Yeah… not cool.

7. Bathing Pets– I don’t care how tiny and adorable your Yorkiepooshnookems is. Don’t Bathe them in an RV Parks shower or facilities unless they have a dog wash station! Some might see this as a brilliant opportunity to nt have to deal with the mess in their RV. In reality, they usually end up doing the doo in the shower with yooooou. Gross.

10. Parking Don’t occupy your neighbors spot. If your site has your door facing your neighbors door in close proximity, ask if you can have a different site. It’s super awkward to have to see someone you barely know everytime you open the door. Try to give, and keep, your privacy. Some people don’t RV to party.

11. Hanging Laundry– Hanging a wet towel in the sun is one thing. But thongs, bras, and more private clothing items do not need to be the main attraction of the park. You can hang them in the privacy of your RV. I know some don’t want to pay for dryers or buy a dryer. If you choose that route, maybe keep it in a not visible area?

12. Drive slowly. I mean you should listen to those 5 or 10 mph signs. RV Parks don’t always have big streets. If you hit someone’s child, dog, spouse, etc… let’s just say you have changed lives forever, and in a pretty terrible way. Even a pet owner is not going to forget the deed.

14. Allergies HIPA basically guarantees I have no clue what you are deadly allergic to. It requires conversation. We keep our pets on short leashes and keep them to ourselves. In a emergency situation, this is where pet owners get a bad rep. I don’t want you to die, and I don’t want my pets to die… If you are seriously that allergic please speak up, kindly. Also, pet owners who are sheltering their pets in an emergency, keep your pets to yourself for everyone else’s sake. Multiple pets in a shelter for a tornado or hurricane etc, is not social play time. Pets go through the emergency too, and Fido can become Kujo very quickly.

15. Judging– Don’t be so quick. If someone is usually a great neighbor and all the sudden they are running their generator every night, take a minute to see if they need help. On the same token, don’t avoid seeking help for a week and continue to run your generator all night. Being cheap shouldn’t wreck your neighbors sleep.

16. Mooching- Using fellow campers private grills, chairs, hoses, or any other items without having some kind of permission is just violating. Don’t be that guy. Our drinking water hose is not for your shoes to get cleaned off with. If you would like to borrow something just ask. Most RVers we have met are so incredibly nice, I hope that never gets spoiled!

17. Distraction– When someone is hitching up to leave or coming in, this is absolutely not the time to be social. Distractions can lead to their process being disturbed, which can lead to very expensive or serious accidents. Things break easily enough on RVs. Try to say good-byes or hellos when they are not doing something so safety concerning.
I’m sure there are many more we will learn from the more informed RVers! If you have any input please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Just please don’t knock on our door. 

 

Do You Have What It Takes to Be an RVer?

By Alyssa Padgett

Not everyone is cut out to be an RVer. These are six qualities I think you need to have to enjoy RVing. 

To most people who don’t RV, there’s a certain stigma associated with RVers. You either must be retired with nothing to do, or so poor that you live in a trailer just to survive.

I suppose the third option is that you’re a hippie or a bum driving around in search of yourself.

In my husband’s hometown in Texas, residents recently petitioned to get an RV park off I-10 closed because it was too close to a school. They worried it would attract those types of people.

Since joining the RV community last year, I rolled my eyes at the residents who see RVers as trashy or likely criminals. After staying in RV parks across 48 states, I know for certain that most RVers are nothing like that.

In fact, RVers are some of the nicest people who I’ve had the chance to meet.

It takes a special kind of person to be an RVer. You must be a cut above most of humanity, showing exemplary compassion and inner-strength.

Here are six qualities I think you need to have to be an RVer:

1.) You aren’t attached to objects.

Four days after my wedding,  I started full-time RVing. All my wedding presents are tucked away in a closet in my parent’s house, unused.

But as an RVer, you know that you don’t need a KitchenAid mixer and a dozen shiny pots and pans. You only pack the essentials. Anything else is clutter!

You should be able to simplify, getting rid of what you don’t need and freeing up your cabinet space to fit all the cool souvenirs you’ll find while traveling. When we first hit the road, we created a “One-Month Rule.”

If we hadn’t used something in the first month after we bought it, we packed it in a box and shipped it home.

2.) You’re not high-maintenance. 

To be an RVer, you must be pretty low maintenance. You’re okay with hand washing all your dishes instead of using a dishwasher. Carrying your clothes to the laundry center at the RV park is fine with you. That’s just part of RV life!

You also don’t mind sweeping or vacuuming the dirt and mud that finds its way inside your rig. And we don’t always need to stay at fancy RV resorts—national parks are just fine with us! We’re here for the adventure of travel, not the luxury of it all.

 3.) You love America.

This might sound funny but let me explain. You must see the good and the beauty of the world if you plan on RVing. Have you ever met those people who always find something wrong with everything?

“The sun is too bright. It’s too windy. This would be beautiful if…” Those people aren’t cut out for RVing.

RVers may complain about unlevel sites, but our glass is always half full (probably with beer). We don’t complain about America. We can’t wait to keep exploring the country! We love the world around us for its freedom and beauty.

 4.) You keep your cool.

Picture this: You’re following the directions from a GPS unit to your destination.

Your rig is cruising along the road with your car towing behind. Suddenly, you’re in a construction zone, the road narrows, the street you’re supposed to turn on is closed, you’re lost, and you’ve got no other choice than to make a U-turn. (If you’ve RVed for any amount of time, you can picture this vividly as it’s probably happened to you at least once before!)

My cousins once missed a turn (using a real map, not a GPS) and found themselves on a small mountain road in Colorado with snow banks on either side. They had to unhook their Honda CR-V and U-turn their 26-foot Super C on this snowy mountain road and retrace their tracks down the hill.

If you’re prone to stress or have ever been called a “hot-head,” RVing isn’t for you. As an RVer, you’ve got to be able to keep your cool in these situations.

When your dump hose breaks – when it rains, and your RV gets stuck in the mud – a good RVer must be level headed.

5.) You want to help others.

 “We have a problem,” my husband said walking back inside the RV.

After dry camping in Grand Teton National Park for four days, he was dumping our tank. “Our hose just snapped in half. We have another one, but I have no idea how to switch them out, and we don’t have cell phone service to find out how.”

Fortunately, a couple in a small class B was dumping their tank at the station in front of us. They came to our rescue!

For the next twenty minutes, Kelly showed my husband how to change out the hose.

As we’ve encountered troubles in our travels, we’ve never worried because there’s always a fellow RVer around to help. Whether it’s something simple like backing up your RV or something as complex as burping your fridge, RVers are always willing to help one another.

6.) You’re friendly.

I’ve met some grumpy RV park owners, but rarely do you meet a mean RVer.

Most RVers are friendly, and eager to meet new people on the road. If you’re not friendly or don’t want to spend your evening chatting with your neighbor about your rig, then you’re not cut out for RVing.

RVers love hanging out with strangers and making new friends.

So, how do you rank? Are you cut out for RVing?

RV MYTHS

Spend any amount of time researching information about RVing and you’re bound to run into some common RV myths and misconceptions. For new RV owners, or those interested in pursuing an RV lifestyle, this can be problematic. These myths often lead people to make decisions based on information that simply isn’t accurate.

To sort it all out and separate myth from fact, here are six widely-believed RV myths regarding the RV lifestyle and the truth behind them.

 

RV Myth #1: The one best type of RV.

Some people wouldn’t dream of traveling in anything other than a fully outfitted motorhome with 4 slides, a washer/dryer combo, and a bedroom the size of a small apartment. While others turn up their noses at any RV that takes up more than a regular size parking space.

Truth: The best RV is the one that fits your needs.

There is no single RV type that qualifies as “the best”. RV choice is personal and depends on factors such as family size, where and how often you plan to use it, whether you already have a truck for towing, how confident you feel making repairs, and many more considerations. If you’re in the market for an RV, don’t simply go out and buy a fifth wheel because your uncle said it was the best. Instead, talk to people with different types of RVs or maybe even rent a few to try them out. In the end, the best type of RV will be the one that you use.

 

RV Myth #2: RV travel is only for older, retired people.

There was once a time when the typical RVer was a retired couple spending their golden years traveling around the country. This couple most certainly does exist – spend any time at an RV park in Florida or Arizona and you will meet lots of them — but they are far from the only type of RVer.

Truth: RVs are suitable for people and families of all ages.

These days, most campgrounds contain a mix of families, retired couples, solo travelers, and an increasing number of younger working age people. People of all ages are turning to RVs for travel and full-time living. There is no age threshold you must cross to call yourself an RVer!

 

RV Myth #3: RVing is expensive – or cheap.

The most common RV myth is about how much it costs to RV. Depending on who you are talking to, the prevailing view is that it’s either really expensive or really cheap. Which side of the coin your conviction lies on is directly related to the decisions you make regarding travel style and RV choice.

Truth: Buying and traveling in an RV is as expensive or as cheap as you make it.

One of the best things about RV travel is how versatile it is. Unlike airfare, hotels, and rental cars, the range of cost associated with RVing is vast. Can RVing be expensive? Of course, if you make it expensive. You can buy a fancy new RV with a big price tag, drive a lot which means spending tons on gas, and stay at expensive resort style RV parks. On the flip side, if you want to save some bucks, you can buy a modest used RV that needs some TLC, limit your driving time, and seek out less expensive camping options or even places to stay for free on public land. Most RVers fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

 

RV Myth #4: Taking an RV trip means driving all the time.

The logic goes that an RV is a vehicle, therefore, RV travel must involve a lot of driving. And sometimes it does. A road trip from one side of the country to another is going to necessitate a bit of time behind the wheel. Of course, how much time you spend on the road is all about how you plan your trip.

Truth: RV travel allows you to slow down and enjoy the journey.

Taking a road trip in a car and taking a road trip in an RV are two very different experiences. Car travel usually means putting in as many miles as possible in an effort to get where you’re going. RV travel can be similar, but it really doesn’t have to be. In fact, any RVer will tell you that the most enjoyable way to travel is at a slow pace. When you bring along a place to sleep and prepare meals, there really is no need to rush from destination to destination.

 

RV Myth #5: RVs must always stay in crowded RV parks.

Of all the RV myths, this one turns potential RVers off the most. We’ve all seen the photos of parking lot style RV parks where the rigs are lined up in tight rows and your picnic table is practically on top of the neighbor’s sewer hose. Crowded RV parks do exist. In fact, there are a lot of them along highways and in more populated areas.

Truth: RVs have a wide variety of camping choices, including some options that are nothing like crowded RV parks.

Guess what? Just because you’re traveling in an RV doesn’t mean you have to park in a crowded RV park. There are an amazing variety of campgrounds out there that offer so much more. State parks, national parks, national forests, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, and many county-run parks are all great places to camp if you want a bit more nature and a bit less asphalt in your RVing experience. RVs can even camp off the grid. The southwest is full of free land where RVs can and do spend weeks at a time camping in complete solitude. RV parks have a purpose, but the idea that RVs are limited to this type of park is definitely a myth!

 

RV Myth #6: RVing is NOT the same as camping.

This one usually goes along with sentiments like, If you don’t have a fire, cook outside, get dirty, sleep on the ground, or end the weekend smelling like a pile of old laundry, then you’re not really camping.

Truth: Camping and RVing are as similar as they are different.

There seems to be some scorn out there among “purist” campers who look down on those who travel in RVs. I guess there’s something about sharing a campground with folks who brought along a comfy bed and a bathroom with running water that makes them grumpy.

The thing is that most RVers are rarely concerned about how they are living up to the title of “camper”. People choose RVs for all different reasons. Some have physical limitations that rule out tent camping, some like the convenience of an RV, while others simply find it’s easier to take the whole family on a trip in an RV versus a tent. None of these people set out to dilute the sentiment behind camping.

In fact, the dictionary defines camping as, “the activity of spending a vacation living in a camp, tent, or camper”. There’s nothing in there about having to rough it without running water, sleep on the cold ground, or cook your food on a stick over the fire. In the end, whether eat your food off a stick or with a fork, sleep in a hammock or on a real mattress, watch TV in your RV or the stars at night, the act of setting up a temporary place to call home in nature is considered camping, plain and simple.

Happy Camping!

 

Total Excellent Adventure Statistics as of May 2018

  1. Total time on the road: 1,439 days
  2. Longest trip: 207 Days
  3. Shortest trip: 99 Days
  4. Total distance traveled: 118,503 Miles
  5. Total fuel consumed: 11,202 Gallons
  6. Average price per gallon: $3.25
  7. Average cost per night for campsite: $25.83
  8. Average spent on campsite fees and fuel per year: $6,714.42

A side note:  $6,714.42 X 10 years = $67,144 and if one takes that amount in one-dollar bills and lines them up, they would reach all the way to a Corvette dealership…just saying!

  1. Number of nights camping for free: 303
  2. Lowest elevation visited: -279 feet at Bad Water Basin, California
  3. Highest elevation visited: 11,158 feet at Vail, Colorado
  4. Lowest temperature experienced: 26 degrees at Coconino National Forest, Arizona
  5. Highest temperature experienced: 102 degrees in Globe, Arizona
  6. Number of states visited: 46, only Rhode Island, Washington, and Alaska remain.
  7. Number of National Park’s enjoyed: 27
  8. Number of Canadian provinces visited: 4-Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
  9. Number of Excellent Adventure Journals issued: 249
  10. Number of hits on our webpage: 130,661
  11. Number of address’s in group notification email list: 203
  12. Number of folks signed up for notification of release of latest journal: 68
  13. Number of comments from readers: 1,936
  14. Top commenters: Chet G, Pat C, and Nancy G…Thanks Folks!