Posted in: Costco

Costco: Canada, please let us in!

We have really been missing Costco. There were none in Maine and there weren’t any close in Vermont or Pennsylvania. While near Niagara Falls, New York, there were several across the border in Canada. We had heard crazy stories about the food courts in Canada (think poutine!) and really wanted to see what the Canadian Costcos were like. Unfortunately, the borders were still closed (COVID).

To get our Costco fix in (and some protein drinks for Will), we drove almost an hour and a half to Rochester, New York. We did manage to get the protein drinks, new shoes and gym shorts for the boys.

We saw a few new items as well.

Their food court was very busy and understaffed, so it took quite a while to pick up our pizza. When we got it, it was the first time we had been disappointed in a Costco pizza. It wasn’t cut well and the toppings were a little messy.

Posted in: Costco, Sightseeing

Costcos We Have Visited

If you know us at all, you know we are big Costco fans. Why, you may ask. Well, we like the quality of some of the items we get there, the cost savings on others, and the fun of seeing the stock change multiple times a year. Although we can no longer store the huge amounts of toilet paper or some of the other things we used to buy, we still love finding a Costco near us to get some of our essentials. Some of our favorites include protein drinks for Will, organic chicken and ground beef, precooked turkey breast and chicken strips, frozen burgers, and bottles of water. I am also a huge fan of the mac and cheese and mashed potatoes for an easy side to move day dinners. It’s a great place to find shoes and clothes for the boys now that they are growing like weeds. Will has sprouted several inches just on this trip, so we have had to replace a lot of clothes.

Costco is like a treasure hunt for us. We like to find what is different at each one; not every Costco offers different items, but we can usually find at least one new thing. In Texas, it was the Texas-proud reusable bags. In Florida it was guava topped cheesecake and flan.

Of course, it’s hard to go wrong at the Food Court too. The hot dog/drink combo and pizza are good deals for a quick meal.

Along our trip, we have tried to take a picture outside of each one. Sometimes I forget, so these are a few of the ones we have been to!

Here are the ones we have been to since moving into the RV:

  • Ohio: #1185 Dayton, Deerfield #384 (our favorite one back home). Updated to add #1226 Boston Mills (had diesel), #334 Mayfield Heights/Cleveland
  • Montana: #96 Bozeman
  • Colorado: #1030 W Colorado Springs, #629 Thornton, #1014 Colorado Springs East, #439 Aurora
  • Utah: #672 St. George (had diesel)
  • Nevada: #1320 SW Henderson, #673 Henderson
  • California: #781 Chula Vista, #401 Morena Blvd, #488 Mission Valley, #460 Rancho Del Rey (had diesel)
  • Arizona: #1079 Tucson
  • Texas: #1173 Fort Worth, #655 Dallas (business center), #693 Sonterra Park/San Antonio, #689 San Antonio, #1006 Selma, #1189 Houston (Woodlands)(had diesel)
  • Louisiana: #1147 New Orleans (No self service stations or pizza order phone number.)
  • Florida: #1235 S Orlando, #1023 Kendall/Miami
  • South Carolina: #360 Charleston (How are there none near Savannah?), #1319 Mount Pleasant, #338 Myrtle Beach (had a garden center)
  • Virginia: #247 (Williamsburg/Newport News), #202 Norfolk, VA

Costco is even international! According to their April 2021 sales report “Costco currently operates 809 warehouses, including 559 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 105 in Canada, 39 in Mexico, 29 in the United Kingdom, 29 in Japan, 16 in Korea, 14 in Taiwan, 12 in Australia, three in Spain, and one each in Iceland, France, and China. Costco also operates e-commerce sites in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia.” As you can tell, we have many more to go, even in just the US.

Below are some of the cool things we have seen along the way.

click to enlarge

Posted in: Costco, Exploring South Carolina, Sightseeing

Charleston, South Carolina

We are slowly moving up the eastern coast, trying to stay under the freeze line. Our next stop on our journey was Charleston, South Carolina.

We got to our campground, set up, and drove into Charleston. We found a parking spot on the street. It seems like most parking is paid lots, garages, or on-street parking. Several streets were residential only parking.

We walked over to the Historic City Market. The front entrance was limiting visitors and masks were required. However, the city market does span several blocks and different buildings (all down a straight row), and the other entrances were not really limiting the people entering. We did a little bit of shopping and found a few gifts.

Next we walked around Charleston and just enjoyed the sites. However, we only had a two hour parking meter, so we didn’t get too far until we needed to head back to the truck.

We drove past Rainbow Row and admired the houses along the river. We also drove across the Ravenel Bridge.

Signs and sights around Charleston, bottom right: Rainbow Row and a rainbow we saw on our drive back

Of course, our next stop was the grocery store and Costco. This Costco didn’t have too many new items, but they did have a 6 pack of mini-carrot cakes!

Posted in: Costco, Exploring Florida, Food

Visiting Miami, Florida

After being in Orlando for a few weeks, we wanted to see Miami as well. The drive wasn’t too long and we found a RV site at a Thousand Trails. This one wasn’t part of our membership, and we ended up paying for the stay.

We drove to Miami Beach and South Beach, but were only able to get glimpses of it from the road. We were unable to find any parking spots, so we didn’t make it onto the beach. From what we could see, it did look beautiful.

It was still really neat to see the city.

We also stopped at a Costco (I know…huge surprise!) and saw a few new items. This Costco had cheese flan, guava topped cheesecake, raspberry lemon muffins, and cornbread muffins.

We grabbed lunch at Casa Carlos. It was in a strip mall and was really good food. We got a Cuban sandwich, flan, and fried plantains.

Posted in: Costco, Exploring Texas, Sightseeing

This Blog Post Made in Texas

When I told my sister about our trip she had a lot of great things to say about Texas. She has made a few visits to Austin to visit friends over the years. One of her observations was that Texas is very proud. From our experience, she was right on. This pride is neat to see and can turn into some crazy stuff sometimes.

Texas Pride marketing is used heavily in the grocery store for things that were not made in Texas. My favorite was Louisville Kentucky Bottled Bourbon and Gin labeled as Texas Spirit Gin:

Costco

Obviously the Texas slogan “Don’t Mess with Texas,” is prominently displayed.

Other than Colorado, we have not seen a state with more pride in their flag. The Texas flag is everywhere and on literally everything.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, from the 3L soda to the size of the flags, to the display of political opinions, (Not clear on the backstory for this front yard political display, but they are not pulling any punches here) it is a larger than life state.

Large Object Series: Boots, Wooden Nickle, Beavers
Large Object Series: Belt, Cow, Spur

The only stereotype we missed seeing was anyone open carrying firearms (that wasn’t a cowboy actor). Maybe the news exaggerates this aspect of Texas or everyone here has gone to conceal carry or we just missed it entirely.

We had a great time in Texas and wouldn’t change a thing. Their pride seems to pull them together. I may never understand the draw of a HEB grocery store or wear a state flag based shirt, but I hope to visit again soon.

~Ben

Posted in: Christmas, Costco, Food

Wineing in the RV: Advent Calendar Days 10-15

Day 10: White wine. Atlas Bear, Chenin Blanc, Product of South Africa. I think this was the first South African wine I had ever had. The label art alone was worth a purchase. Who doesn’t love a bear on a bicycle transporting balloons? It was a standard white wine for me. A little dry.

Day 11: Red wine. Bold Bull. It was good, nothing really stood out.

Day 12: White wine. Not a favorite of mine. It was ok. Carrete Viognier, Chile.

Day 13: Red wine. This was decent merlot, nothing too crazy. The Conductor, Bulgarian Merlot.

Day 14: White wine. This one had a little of a floral/fruity smell. It was a little sweet for a white wine with an almost tangy aftertaste. Baciato Dal Sol Trebbiano (Italy).

Day 15: White wine. This one has been my least favorite so far and would not try/buy it again. There was a slightly sour bite to the first sip, not the sweetness I usually like in a rosé. LTD Rosé Blend Grenache-Cinsault.

Posted in: Christmas, Costco, Holidays

Wineing In The RV: Advent Calendar Days 1-9

Let’s tuck in for some drinking!

The wine Advent calendar was super cute. After you open the outer box you can see 24 little circles that you poke out for the countdown.

Day 1: Started with a Red wine. Vieux Ciseaux Merlot from France. Ooh la la. I was carving a pumpkin at the time and felt it accompanied it well. NOTE: The half bottle fits nicely in my wine glass, so technically I only had 1 drink.

Day 2: Red wine. I like reds more than white wines, so I was excited to see where this was going. Nightfall, California Zinfandel. I think I liked it. Going to have to try another to remember.

Day 3: White wine. Okay, I guess we had to have equal treatment with white and reds. Ciel Bleu D’Aquitaine, Sauvignon Blanc. It was nice for a white wine.

Day 4: Red wine. Ceilo D’Oro, Sangiovese, product of Italy. I drank this on my birthday after visiting Roswell. I was hoping for an out of this world wine, unfortunately it didn’t quite deliver that. It was nice. I enjoyed the previous Red wines more though.

Day 5: Red wine. Pasarica, Malbec from Argentina. An outstanding accompaniment to foil dinner over the camp fire. Works well when gearing up to take on laundry.

Day 6: White wine. Ballun, Pinot Grigo, from Moldova. Nice wine after a long day with the cattle. I enjoyed this after seeing the Fort Worth Stockyards. Nice grassy overtones or that might have just been my jeans. Either way, solid white wine.

Day 7: Red wine. Heros, Syrah, Vin de France. This one comes with a story of regret. It was a little drier than I normally like. But, unfortunately due to a 400 square foot, child induced earthquake, we lost this wine and a seat cushion before I could give it a thorough review. Fortunately, no family members were harmed in this winetastrophe.

Day 8: White wine. Octopads, Macabeo, product of Spain. Drank this after a visit to Dallas. It was fine, but not one I would seek out in the future.

Day 9: Red wine. A nice Pinot Noir, not my favorite, but not bad either. Three Brothers Pino Noir.

So far, so good with this experiment. I will say, I am a little behind with my consumption (only averaging a bottle every 3 days). I guess I should have started this in early September. So either I am going to start day drinking for the rest of December or these bottles may go to just tastings for some of the wines, especially the ones I don’t love at first sniff.

Wish me luck!

Posted in: Christmas, Costco, Food, Holidays

Wineing in the RV: An Advent Calendar with a Kick

During our Costco adventures, we found a wine advent calendar! Ben got it for me and I have been enjoying it since October. It contains 24 half bottles of wine. I started Advent early this year (on Halloween), because there is no way I could drink that much wine in 24 days! It has been a neat adventure. There are a lot of different types of wines in the calendar, most of which I probably wouldn’t try on my own.

The wine Advent calendar cost $99.99 (+tax). I’ll have a few posts with pictures of the bottles from the wine journey as we prepare for Santa’s arrival over the coming month!

So far I like this type of wineing a lot more than what we normally have in the RV.

NOTE: For you beer lovers, I also saw a beer advent calendar at some locations.

Merry, Merry Advent!

Posted in: Christmas, Costco, Holidays, Newbie Tips

Christmas Gifts for RVers

We have been traveling full time for over 150 continuous days in a travel trailer. Below are a list of some of the products that have helped us the most along this journey. If you get to buy presents for a RV enthusiast these are sure to please.

NOTE: The costs listed are what we paid and may change. Please use these as general guidance and check for yourself as you may be able to get better pricing.

LevelMatePro* While some of the newer (and nicer) Class A and C’s have auto-leveling, ours does not. It does have an electric jack and stabilizers, but you still have to level it. Instead of taking a level and doing it the old fashioned way, LevelMatePro was recommended and we love it. It mounts in your rig and uses your phone to show how level you are from left to right and front to back. I would recommend this product especially for those that are in travel trailers or have an older rig. Unless you are parking on a perfectly level concrete pad, it is super useful on travel days. (Cost: $145)

WeBoost* This helps boost all signals in the area, so we use it for our cell phone hotspots and the independent hotspot. There are a few different types of the WeBoost (home, car, RV, etc.) to meet your needs. We have seen a little bit of a difference in the signals. When you work/school from home, it’s important to have good internet signal. (Cost: $400)

Leveling Blocks*. These are like giant Legos used to help level the RV. We use these for the stabilizers, the jack, and to level the RV. We’ve even add them under the steps when there is too big of a gap. (Cost: $30 – we bought 3 sets)

Blackout curtains. Great for keeping the sun out for sleeping, heat out on hot days, and the cold from sneaking in on cold days. (Link to post on hanging our curtains.) (Cost: $25 each – we bought 4 sets for our 11 windows)

Air purifier*This is great if you have allergies. As we have traveled the country we have each discovered new pollen and molds to be allergic to. Luckily I had this air purifier at home before we left. It may be a little big for RV life. It does work really well though! (Cost: $85)

Costco membership. Although we don’t buy quite as much as we used to (just don’t have the room for it), we still love our Costco membership. We love the organic ground beef and chicken, as well as the frequently changing inventory. It’s fun to discover what each Costco has. Many of them carry different things. For example: Ohio doesn’t sell liquor; New Orleans sold Ben’s favorite “souvenir” (a collapsible tote); California sold boogie boards; Many have specific city/sports team gear. Gas prices are usually pretty good as well, but we’ve only come across a couple that carry diesel. Plus, it’s hard to beat their hotdog/soda ($1.50 special) and pizza ($9.95 for a very large pie) prices! (Cost: $60 for Basic; We upgraded years ago to the Executive for $120 because we spend enough that the 2% cash back just makes sense for us).

Propane Fire Pit. We just got this and have only used it twice. It had great reviews, rather light weight, small enough, and runs on propane. There are separate things you can buy for it, including a rack to cook on top of. We were looking for a wood alternative (although Ben loves a wood fire), since most of the places in the West have had a wood fire ban. NOTE: Some places are out of stock, with more coming in the first week of December. Try calling the store. It was listed as both in stock and back-ordered online at Camping World. I called and they did have one in stock (and they held it for me at the desk). (Cost: $150)

Viair Compressor*. As expected, this is an air compressor. This guy does a great job with the RV and truck tires that require higher pressures. The real win is the compressor connects directly to the travel trailer battery to run and has plenty of accessories to allow a reach to all of the tires without too much relocation. (Cost: $300)

Dehumidifier. We have been in locations with unusual heat waves and deserts lately. There have been a few times (mostly in the beginning of the trip) where the humidity in the RV has gotten high, even with the A/C and the bathroom fan on. The one thing we have read a lot about, is that RV’s can grown mold somewhat easily. We try to keep the humidity at a normal level. I have used this humidity/temperature sensor* for years, and it does pretty well. We brought it with us on the trip. We ended up buying a small dehumidifier* to help with the humidity in the RV. (Cost: Dehumidifier $45, sensor $17)

Fire extinguisher*. Most new RVs come with a fire extinguisher by the front door (kitchen area). We have one in the outdoor kitchen and one in our bedroom as well. You just can’t be too safe. (Cost: $30)

First aid kit*. My mom made ours for us before we left. She combined many of our existing kits and confirmed everything was in date. This is a great gift if you have the energy and time to DIY. She did a great job of getting most of what we needed, but still kept it to a reasonable size. We used an art container with internal dividers. It slides nicely between the bed and the wall. We have already had to restock the bandaids from multiple falls from bikes on gravel. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make a first aid kit, this looks like a thorough one that should fit most situations. (Cost: $30)

Solar Decorations*. This one is just for fun, but we ended up loving them. We got solar powered coloring changing balls. We hang them on the awning arm. It makes it nice to find the RV in the dark and adds some ambience when sitting by the campfire. (Cost: $17)

Hope these suggestions make your holiday shopping a little easier! If we missed any RV essentials, please remind us in the comments. Happy holidays!

*Affiliate links

Posted in: Costco, Food, Holidays, Thanksgiving

Cooking In The RV: First Large Scale Meal, Thanksgiving Dinner

A few of you have asked about how we cook in the RV and if we had a “real” Thanksgiving dinner. We made a few modifications due to the small oven, but we did have a full Thanksgiving dinner. I think it turned out pretty well. The meal consisted of turkey, cranberry, stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, rolls, and green bean casserole.

We did a bit of cheating this year to make it work. We bought microwavable mashed potatoes from Costco (they were really nice, we’ve had them a few times), pre-made rolls, and turkey breasts instead of a whole turkey (there is no way a whole turkey would have fit). It was a bit of a juggling act to get things ready close to the same time. I am very thankful that our travel trailer has an island for more counter space!

I started with the turkey. I used a disposable 13×9 pan (labeled a stuffing pan) for cooking the turkey. I found a BBQ and a bacon wrapped turkey breast at the local grocery store. I was so excited about the bacon one, as I used to make a bacon sweater for the whole turkey back in the house. (NOTE: These were from Honeysuckle. They turned out ok. I have made turkey breasts from Butterball before, and those turned out much better.)

I browned the bottom of the bacon wrapped turkey on the stovetop, per the instructions and then placed in the pan with some water and aromatics (onions, carrots, lemon, and orange). The bacon turkey went into the oven first, as the baking temperature was higher. I added the BBQ chicken later and basted/spooned the liquids back over the turkeys several times during the cooking time. It took around 3ish hours to cook completely. Unfortunately, the bacon did not get very crispy and the oven does not have a broiler feature to it.

When I had about 40 minutes left on the turkeys, I put the sweet potatoes in the InstantPot*. I am not a sweet potato lover, but Nick and Ben are. The InstantPot is amazing for potatoes. (Sweet potatoes are done in 30-50 minutes, baked potatoes are done in 15-20 minutes.)

While the turkeys and sweet potatoes were cooking, I made the green bean casserole. To make it go faster, I used all canned green beans this year. (Normally I use half fresh green beans and half canned.) I also used a 13×9 disposable pan for this dish. After the turkeys were done, the green beans went into the oven. I kept the turkey covered with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Once the green bean casserole was finished, I popped some of the rolls in to crisp up and get warm. They were already baked, but there is something just better and more satisfying about warm bread and rolls! I opened the can of cranberry (jelly), and we were good to plate and eat.

I made a little too much, so we had leftovers for the next day. The one thing I really miss about having a larger oven is being able to make pizza; I would have loved to used the leftovers to make Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza!

*Affiliate link