Posted in: Food, Frequently Asked Questions, Newbie Tips

Cooking In The RV: Salmon In The Air Fryer

Ben and the boys love fish (me, not so much). I used to make fish on an outdoor grill, but we do not have a grill at the new apartment. However, I found an easy way to make it: the air fryer! It doesn’t take very long and the boys seem to enjoy it every time.

You will need:

  • Salmon filet(s)
  • Olive oil
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Any other seasonings you enjoy (I like to sprinkle a little Cajun)
  • Pastry brush
  • Optional: non-stick spray

Directions:

  1. Using a pastry brush, gently spread a thin layer olive oil over the filet. Season with paprika, ground pepper, salt, and any other seasonings you like on your fish. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
  2. Cut filet into smaller sections to fit in the air fryer. (I normally cut ours into about 6-7 inch wide sections).
  3. Oil the basket tray of the air fryer using a non-stick spray or the olive oil.
  4. Place a filet in the air fryer and cook at 390℉ for 7 minutes.
  5. Check to make sure fish is done and enjoy! (Repeat cooking steps for each filet.)
Posted in: Christmas, Frequently Asked Questions

Practical Christmas Gift Ideas for RVers

It’s day two of RV gift recommendations! If you need to buy presents for a RV enthusiast these are sure to please.

RV/SET UP:

  • 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)
  • Viair Compressor*. As the name implies, 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)
  • Back Up Camera*. This is a great gift for new RV owners. This made backing into spots and even seeing the cars around us on the highway so much easier! (Please make sure this will work with their RV.)
  • TPMS System. This is another gift that is very practical, but really useful. It helped save us from a tire blow-out on the highway.
  • Telescoping Ladder*. Great for working on the outside of the RV.

KITCHEN/BAKING/COOKING:

  • Blackstone grill*. We do not have one of these, but people rave about them!
  • InstantPot*. We used our InstantPot a lot for cooking meals. The oven took awhile to cook larger items (and used propane, so when there were propane shortages, we used the InstantPot for food and the propane for heat/water.)
  • Baking Pan*. My normal baking pans would not fit in the smaller oven and I found a Quarter Sheet Pan that works really well in the RV sized oven. I still use it for roasting veggies in the full sized house oven.
  • Hamilton or George Foreman Grills

INDOOR:

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Berkey water filter*. Great for those places with iffy water.
  • Flashlights. We had small flashlights in every room. When we went hiking, we packed a headlamp and a hand held light. These also come in handy when you realize the grey or black tank are full and have to be emptied at night.
  • Happy Camper. We really liked this black tank treatment. It worked a lot better than the drop in tablets.

CLOTHES/SHOES:

  • Crocs. Great for running over to the pool, the showers, or to empty the tanks.
  • Thermals/base layers
  • Hats
  • Hiking boots

ACTIVITIES:

  • Waterproof bag/purse*. I brought this to hike in the Narrows and when we went on to the beach.
  • Gimbal*. Helps take the shaking and sudden movements out of videos.
  • Tripod
  • Hiking sticks/poles
  • Reusable water bottles (for hiking, etc.)

MEMBERSHIPS & APPS:

  • 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.)
  • RVLife. This app allows you to input your RV height/weight/width to help navigate on road trips. It helped us avoid low bridges and other roads were we would not have fit.
  • If you are traveling full-time, a campground membership may be helpful. Thousand Trails, KOA, etc.

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

NOTE: The costs listed are what we paid and may have changed. Please use these as estimated prices and check for yourself as you may be able to get better pricing.

*Affiliate Link. If you buy an item from Amazon using my links, I may receive a small commission for the referral. It does not affect your cost at all! If you want more information, please visit the Disclosure page.

Posted in: Christmas, Frequently Asked Questions

Fun Christmas Gifts For RVers

We’re going to start off our RV gift buying lists with the fun items! Check back tomorrow for the more useful and practical gift ideas.

OUTDOOR FUN:

  • Solar Decorations*. I bought these on a whim, when we were at a super dark campground and we ended up loving them. We got the solar powered coloring changing balls and would hang them on the awning arm. It made it nice to find the RV in the dark and added some ambience when sitting by the campfire. (Cost: $17)
  • 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: These can go out of stock quickly. Call the store directly to see if they have it in stock and can hold it for you. (Calling helps because the online inventory does not update as quickly as you may need it to.) (Cost: $150)
  • America The Beautiful National Park Pass. This was one of the best gifts we received. It allowed us to see so many of the National Parks along our trip. This is such a good deal if you are planning on seeing a few parks in a year. (Cost: $80)
  • Hammock Chairs*. These are foldable like camping chairs, but give you more of a reclining, hammock feel.
  • Hammock*. For when you want an actual hammock. These go up quickly and store in a small bag. We got these for the kids last year for Christmas and they loved them. (Cost: $23)
  • Football or basketball. Most campgrounds will have either an open area to throw a ball or Frisbee or a basketball hoop.
  • Kayak: there are so many options now including the standard, inflatable, and foldable.
  • Extendable roasting sticks (hot hot dogs and marshmallows)
  • Electric bike. We bought a folding electric bike at Costco and it worked fine for us. There are ones that have the larger tires and are more of a mountain bike* that people seem to love!
  • Propane pizza oven. These look so fun! We don’t have one, and it may be impractical for trips, but it looks fun.
  • Christmas tree. Of course, this would be needed to give ahead (maybe as a St. Nick’s Day gift!). We bought a felt tree to hang on the wall for Christmas. It came with Velcro ornaments. Ben cut little slits in the tree and we added battery operated lights. There are also small artificial tabletop sized trees.

GAMES:

  • Nintendo Switch*. What?! Electronics for camping? If you are traveling full time in a RV, you quickly find that there are some days where no one wants to go explore outside or it’s raining. We had the Switch before we left and brought it with us. It is small, which is great in an area where space is limited. We even hooked it up to the large TV and played family game nights on it. Since it is small and portable, it also came with us in the truck on long move days.
  • Furglars*. We absolutely love this board game. It is great in the RV (it’s small) or in a house. We play it a lot; it’s a fun and quick game.
  • Roadtrip themed games like Radical Road Trip or Road Trip Board Game.
  • Roku stick*. The TV in our RV was a smart TV, but did not have the Roku app. We bought a Roku Stick so that we could access Amazon Video and Netflix.
  • Christmas RV themed books, like Ben’s Twas The Night Before Christmas: Campground Edition.

INDOOR:

  • LED Coloring Changing Light Strips*. We had a strip of these LED lights in the living room. It was nice to be able to change the color of the lights for the different holidays!
  • RV Shaped Planter. We found one at a local grocery store during our travels. I loved having a small enough plant/planter that I could pack it in the sink for travel days. There are several different kinds available on Etsy and Amazon.
  • US Sticker Map. We took turns placing the stickers on our map. We now have it hanging on our living room to remind us of all the places we have been.

APPS:

  • All Trails. There is a free version, but the Pro/paid for version allows you to download the maps which is really useful in areas of low to no cell service.

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

*Post Contains Amazon Affiliate Links. If you buy an item from Amazon using my links, I may receive a small commission for the referral. It does not affect your cost at all! If you want more information, please visit the Disclosure page.

Posted in: Frequently Asked Questions

How We Sold Our RV

Selling your RV is a lot like selling your house. You can sell it yourself, or go through a dealer (who will outright buy it or selling it on consignment). We contacted some RV dealers, but they were offering extremely low-ball offers, so we decided to sell it ourselves. It was just like selling a house: fixing little things, cleaning out our stuff, doing a deep clean inside and out, and posting it in different places.

Step One: Clean and Repair

  • Make any repairs and clean. We fixed a few small things like holes where screws were taken out when we removed the couch, dinette seat, and bottom bunks. We looked around the outside and made sure all the seals and caulking were in good condition. We did a thorough clean on the inside and scrubbed and waxed the outside.
  • We emptied the RV of all of our stuff. Since we were close to home, we kept things with us at my in-laws where we were staying or at the storage locker. Less clutter makes a tiny space seem bigger.

Step Two: List Your RV

  • RVs are like cars: you need to pay off the loan to get the title. Before listing, we paid off the RV. Once we received the Loan Release letter, I went to the DMV with the letter to get a paper copy of the title. (Ohio now has electronic titles and you have to go in person to an office to get a paper title.)
  • We listed it on Facebook Marketplace, several RV Facebook groups, and RVT.com, RV Trader, RV Postings.
    • Similar to listing your house, some places charge* for the listing.
      • RVT.com charges $29.95 for a Basic listing (Listed 30 days, 5 photos, unlimited text) all the way up to $239.95 for the Ultimate National (Listed Until Sold, unlimited photos, unlimited text, video, National spotlight, National search featured, National homepage listing).
      • RVTrader.com starts at $54.95 (Listed 2 weeks, 4 photos) and goes up to $199.95 for the Best Package (Listed 1 year, 50 photos, YouTube video, featured on homepage and results, premium placement).
      • RVPostings.com starts at the Standard free package (Listed 3 months, 20 photos, video, featured on social media page) and has a $12.99 Featured Package (Listed 3 months, 20 photos, video, featured on social media page, featured on homepage above standard postings).
    • I started with the Basic packages on the listing websites, but soon realized that the more expensive packages could help sell it faster. I upgraded the RVTrader.com listing to the Best Package. TIP: If you are even thinking about changing later to a higher package, do it first. When I clicked “Upgrade”, it charged me the full amount, even though I was upgrading packages within the original package listing time-frame. You will not get a prorated amount for the higher packages, you will just be charged the full amount for both types of listings.
  • If you are able, place a For Sale sign on the RV. These signs are $1 or less at Walmart and are an easy way of passive advertising. However, not all campgrounds will allow the sign. The campground we were out removed it.
  • Make sure your timing is right. In general (for the Midwest at least), not a lot of people are going to be buying in the winter, unless they are looking for a great deal. We wanted it sold relatively quickly, as we were at a Thousand Trails campground and only had a limited time to stay (21 days). Once our first time was up, we placed it in the storage yard at the campground. We had just made a bunch of minor fixes, cleaned and waxed it, and really didn’t want to chance driving it again and having something happen (you just never know when you are on the road). The week in the storage yard counted as our time out of the park, so we were able to come back in for another couple of weeks with our membership.

STEP THREE: SHOW THE RV TO BUYERS

  • We had a buyer reach out to us to look at it and we met them at the campground on 7/30. At this time the RV was in the storage lot, but they still wanted to see it. They lived almost 2 hours away in Kentucky!

STEP FOUR: NEGOTIATE

  • They gave us a $500 deposit to hold it for them, as they were leaving for vacation and the closing date would be later than what we were hoping for. They had a RV Inspector come out on 8/3 to look it over. We had just moved it to a full hook-up site, so the timing really worked out well. Once they received the report and we negotiated the price a little bit, we settled on a closing date.

STEP FIVE: FINALIZE DETAILS & SELL

  • We had requested a cashier’s check for payment, as we had heard stories about cash transactions going poorly (Thank you Uncle John for the cashier’s check idea!).
  • I printed out a bill of sale, since I didn’t know what Kentucky would require in order for the buyers to get tags.
  • We wanted to make sure the funds were in the bank before handing over the keys, so we arranged to meet the buyers at our bank. I called the bank to make sure a notary would be there. On the date of closing, we met at the bank to notarizing the title and the bill of sale and to exchange payment. Once the check had been deposited and the paperwork notarized, I handed over the keys. They were first time RV owners and wanted me to walk them through the RV and our process for setting up/breaking down. They hadn’t even seen it with the slides out since they had been on vacation! The boys and I headed up to the campground to show them around. They were a really nice couple and I am glad to see Betsie go to a good home.

STEP SIX: RELAX

  • It was a big relief when the RV sold. We no longer had to worry about where to store it for the winter, carry payments and insurance on it.

Money Breakdown:

  • Bought for $31,101.03 on 6/4/20.
  • Had a payoff balance of $30,093.47. Unlike a home, you have to have the balance paid off in order to get the title to hand over to the buyer. We moved a few things around and were able to pay it off before selling it.
  • Listing Fees: $284.85.
  • Of course, there were other expenses along the way, just like owning a home. During our trip, we had to replace the propane tank regulator, have a Mobile RV Tech come out to replace the computer board in the bathroom fan (luckily the manufacturer sent us the part under warranty), I replaced the water valve in the toilet, and other little repairs and fixes along the way.
  • Paper Title: $16. Ohio has electronic titles now. You have to go into the DMV with the cleared loan letter to get a paper copy.
  • Sold it with the TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) ($327), Furion Back-up camera ($545.65), and the WeeBoost. We also included the futon we replaced the broken couch with ($200).
  • Sold on 8/10/21 for $29,500.

All in all, after selling the RV, it costs us about $2700 to live in the RV for a year (not including campground fees).

*Prices correct at time of post. Please check current pricing before you sign up.

Posted in: Frequently Asked Questions

What Are We Doing With The RV?: Saying Goodbye to Betsie (Frequently Asked Questions)

Who the heck is Betsie?

Betsie was what we named the RV, as her coloring reminded me of a cow (the black and white ones). We went back and forth on the issue of keeping her or not. We had a bunch of mixed feelings on the whole issue. She was our home for a year and we had some attachment. We knew some of her quirks and were settled in the space. We still have places in the country we want to see and traveling in the RV made it easier in some ways to see the country. Our whole house moved with us, so we didn’t have to keep packing and unpacking clothes. It also gave us the option to make our own meals instead of eating out all of the time. It was nice to have our own space, a home base.

In the end, we decided to sell for several reasons.

  • Space. We are renting right now and do not have the space for the RV where we live. To keep it, we would have had to winterize and find a storage place.
  • Budget. With the kids back in non-public schools, our budget is tighter than when we were on the road. If we kept the RV, we would have had the monthly loan payments, the general upkeep of a RV, and the storage costs in addition to the house rent and utilities. The RV industry, including used RV’s, is still at a high demand, so it was a good time to sell.
  • Travel. We still want to travel and see more of the US, Canada, and other countries. However, with the kids back in school (in-person) and Covid flaring up again, we weren’t sure when that would be. We didn’t want to keep the RV in storage for a year or more without it being used.

So, in the end we did decide to sell the RV. We sold it to a nice couple just starting out who will be traveling for his job. There were mixed feelings as we sold it as well: relief that we didn’t have the debt for it anymore, and sadness that that part of our journey was over (at least for the moment). We’ve talked about getting a different RV when it will be just Ben and I traveling (when the kids are in college).

If you are curious as to how we sold our RV and more of the details, that post is coming soon!

Posted in: Frequently Asked Questions

Do We Miss It? (Frequently Asked Questions)

We have been asked by almost everyone if we miss being on the road. The answer is yes and no. Ben definitely has more of the wandering feet than I do, so I think he misses it the most. I am more of a homebody, so being able to stay in one place for a while is nice.

What I don’t miss:

  • Sharing 1 bathroom. Seriously, 3 boys and 1 girl sharing a bathroom. I’m not even that needy in the bathroom, but I can’t pee outside as easily as they can.
  • My house moving while I sleep. No, I did not sleep in the trailer on move days (which is illegal for tow behinds). Nick is very energetic: he bounces while he walks, and tosses and turns in his sleep. Since they were at the front and we were in the back, we felt every time he turned over.
  • Dealing with poop. I know there is the occasional clogged toilet that may happen in my future. However, I do not miss having to keep an eye on the black tank levels, having to empty the tank, and deal with the hoses on move day. I also enjoy not having to add water to the black tank and adding chemicals every time we emptied it. I will say that the height of the RV toilet was really nice. It was taller than a standard toilet, so the first time I went to sit down on a regular house toilet, I fell a bit.
  • Hearing our neighbors. I like our new location and when we first moved in, we only had neighbors on one side and they are really quiet. Some RV parks presented us with interesting neighbors. RV walls are not very thick; if I can hear people talking outside, then the chances are they can hear us inside, which I didn’t like.
  • Navy showers. The water heater and grey tank could only hold so much, so any showers were Navy style (get wet, water off, soap up, water on to rinse off). Our shower now is huge compared to the RV shower. We can turn all the way around and I can actually bend over to shave in the shower. The water pressure is also much better.
  • The bed. RV beds are not really known for being very comfortable for more than a weekend. We added a foam mattress topper which really helped. However, the normal RV beds are short queens. You can occasionally find normal sized queen or king beds, but when we were looking, it seemed like it was all short queens. A normal queen is 80×60″, a short queen is 75×60″. Those 5 inches make a big difference. (RV Listings will list it as a queen, so if it matters to you, ask if it is a real queen or measure it.)
  • Mom and Dad, don’t read this one! The expression “don’t come a knocking when the trailer is a rocking” is valid. No matter how stable we made it, certain things made it… um… bounce.
RV shower vs House shower

What I miss:

  • Seeing new things. We normally moved every 2 weeks, so we got to see new things pretty often. I am hoping that once we get more settled into our schedule, that we start adventuring near home. There is plenty of “tourist” stuff that we have never done, even though we’ve lived here forever! It was nice to have a different view out of our windows on a regular basis though.
  • Cooking with gas. Our new place has an electric stove/oven, but I really miss cooking with gas. Ever since we were married, we have had a house with natural gas and the RV had propane. I like how it heats up faster.
  • “Free” electric and water. Water was included in the campground fees, and unless you were staying a month or longer, so was electric. Now we have bills!
  • New neighbors. What?! Didn’t I just say I wouldn’t miss campground neighbors? I did, and I won’t really miss the rowdy ones. We had neighbors move into the empty apartment next to us, and they are not quite as quiet as the other side. For the most part they are ok, but when the parents are gone, the group of teenage boys get a little loud. Being in a stationary house means we can’t just move and get away from them.
  • The kids had no place to hide when trying to sneak video games. With only 3 rooms of living space, we could tell when they would sneak off to play video games. The house is great for having our own spaces, but with it being a 2 story, it is easier for them to sneak in more video game time.

Will we do it again? Maybe! We are thinking of possibly renting a RV and finishing up the west coast (Yosemite, Alcatraz, maybe Canada). Ben is still interested in continuing a nomad life after the kids are out of high school/go to college. However, we would be looking at a Class C or Class A with a toad (towed vehicle) when it’s just the two of us. It is certainly nice not to have to find suitcases and pack/unpack all your clothes to go on a trip when your whole house (and dressers) just moves with you!

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Campground Review, Food, Frequently Asked Questions, Hiking, Internet, Maintenance, Newbie Tips, School, Sightseeing

How We Pick Out A Campground (Frequently Asked Questions)

There are a ton of campgrounds out there and it can be overwhelming trying to find the “best” one to call home! They range from independent places, chains (like KOA and Thousand Trails), city owned, state owned, and federally owned. Some only accept military/retired military, some only accept Class A’s, and some have age limits on the RVs or the people they let in. A lot of places also have dog restrictions based on breed.

We have a few things that we always look for in a campground: location to sightseeing, internet, full hook-ups, and a laundry room. Our biggest one is a good internet connection for school and work. There are a few different websites that I visit to check reviews: campgroundreviews.com, GoodSam, and Campendium are my first ones. After those, I will go to Yelp/Google Map reviews (make sure to type RV Campground or RV Resort, not just campground as you will get results that will not work with RVs or may not have hook-ups), and then to Facebook for the RV groups to see if anyone has stayed there before.

Our favorite RV Campground Review Sites

I always check multiple review sites, especially for internet issues, but sometimes you still don’t get it right. For example, the Garden of the Gods RV review stated that our 3 providers worked. However, when we checked in, there was a note with our paperwork saying AT&T did not work in the park. This wasn’t mentioned on the campground’s website at the time. (This is just one of the reasons why we have three internet providers!)

I also try to read about the general campground conditions (sites, roads, etc.). If a lot of reviews with bigger RVs say that sites or internal roads were tight or not well maintained, I will pass on that campground. We’ve even double checked the reviews on the way to a campground and changed our plans last minute based on the current conditions. Conditions of campgrounds can change frequently. For example, when we booked one Texas site, it had decent reviews. On the drive there, we were reading the reviews from the last week and it was filled with reports of sewage problems throughout the campground (eww!), so we frantically searched and found a new campground to stay in. The most recent one was a change due to a review saying the T-Mobile signals were weak. T-Mobile is where most of our working internet comes through. We have some hotspot data through our cell phones, but the T-Mobile hotspot is the workhorse.

Campground amenities can also be a big indicator for the nicety of a park, although not always. There doesn’t seem to be a regulation on who can call themselves a RV Resort vs a campground, so reading reviews are important! We had one Thousand Trails claim to be a resort and they only had a laundry room and a walking trail. Nothing else was available or was broken and the sites and roads needed some upkeep. On the other hand, we had a Thousand Trails in Orlando that lived up to the resort title with many amenities and things to do.

An on-site laundry is also a requirement for us, as we do not have a washer/dryer on our travel trailer.

We have learned to always check (recent) reviews across the different review sites. It can be worth spending the extra money to get a nicer campground, especially for longer stays.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Frequently Asked Questions, Hiking, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

What Is Your Favorite National Park?

We’ve been to quite a few of the National Parks this year. The America The Beautiful annual pass is really quite the deal at $80.

There are so many to choose from, and I think we all have our own favorites.

The Parks, Monuments, Preserves, and Historical Sites we have been to so far are:

  • Mount Rushmore National Monument
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Tetons National Park
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Cabrillo National Monument
  • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (BLM)
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve (Barataria and Chalmette)
  • Everglades National Park
  • Biscayne National Park
  • Fort Pulaski National Monument
  • Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park
  • Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
  • Colonial National Historic Park (Jamestown, Yorktown)

Sarah: My favorite is Yellowstone. There is so much to see and the landscape changes. One minute it is a flat field, then rivers and bison herds, then thermals (hot springs, geysers). There is something for everyone.

Yellowstone National Park: hot springs and geysers, creeking, elk, bald eagle, bison by river

Ben: My favorite is Bryce. The landscape was very different; but beautiful with the hoodoos and different colors. I had a sense of accomplishment when we were done, as during part of it I didn’t know if we would finish the hike.

Bryce Canyon

Will: My favorite is Colonial National Historic Park because of all the history.

Colonial: Jamestown and Yorktown

Nick: My favorite is Zion. I liked hiking the Narrows.

Zion: The Narrows, a lizard, Canyon Overlook Trail

Honorable Mentions: Carlsbad Caverns (it is quite the experience, it’s a little other worldly) and Everglades (so much wildlife)

Posted in: Frequently Asked Questions, Maintenance

Truck Maintenance On The Road (Frequently Asked Questions)

We’ve been lucky so far to just need regular oil changes and a few maintenance things. Most locations have been easy to find a quick oil change place.

This was our first diesel vehicle. Diesel trucks require a few more things than a gas-powered truck/car. Diesel oil changes are generally more expensive, as it was recommended that we use synthetic oil. DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) is another routine adder to the truck. Diesel trucks also have fuel filters, which our gas-powered cars did not have. The fuel filters that diesel trucks require are $100-$200 to replace. California and Colorado seemed easy to find someone who could replace the fuel filters, but South Carolina was a struggle. For example, the Jiffy Lube in California would replace a fuel filter, but the one in South Carolina would not. I had to call several places before I found one that would replace it.

Oil Change at Jiffy Lube and All Pro Tires

In South Carolina, we noticed the back wheel of the truck was starting to lose pressure frequently. We checked over that tire but couldn’t find any nails or anything stuck in it. When we took it in for the last oil change, I had them look at it. There was a nail in, but the head had broken off and you couldn’t see it easily.

Our maintenance so far:

7/7/2020 check up and oil change before we left Ohio (Barnes, $144.45)

8/13/2020 replaced fuel filter (15,085 miles) (Chuck’s, $179.65).

10/16/2020 oil change (Jiffy Lube, $196.76), bought and replaced air filter (AutoZone, $30.41)

12/28/2020 oil change (Jiffy Lube, $170.22)

3/17/2021 oil change, 1 of 2 fuel filters replaced (30,311 miles), patched slow leak in tire (All Pro Tires, $378.21)

Posted in: Frequently Asked Questions, Maintenance, Newbie Tips

Laundry Day: Doing Laundry On The Road (Frequently Asked Questions)

We get a lot of questions when we talk to people, so we thought we would address some of them! If you have any questions, please feel free to email them to us (tepetravels@gmail.com) and you might just get your answer!

I picked laundry as our first topic, as it happens weekly and is something everyone has to deal with. I will say that one of the things I miss the most is having my own washer and dryer. Some of the Class A’s and 5th Wheels have a washer/dryer combo installed. Our travel trailer did not come with the built in hook-ups for a washer/dryer unit and we didn’t think we had the room to store a portable washing machine*.

WHERE: When I book a campground, I do look to see if they have a laundry room listed. I also check to make sure it is open. Due to COVID, we have come across a campground or two that have closed their laundry facilities; however, almost all of the campgrounds we have stayed at have been open. Most of the campgrounds have had laundry rooms, although we have gone to a couple of laundromats as well. You never really know what you are going to get with campground laundry rooms. We’ve had some with really old machines that were a little rusty and broken (that’s when we go to the laundromat). We’ve also stayed at places that have had really nice high-end machines. Most of the places have taken quarters (which was fun during a national coin shortage), although some have only accepted credit cards or tried to push an app on your phone.

HOW MUCH: The costing of the washers and dryers have varied, sometimes significantly. It may seem like $0.50 isn’t a lot, but we normally have 2-3 loads a week and that difference really adds up. The cheapest we have had were $1.25/load for washers and $1/load for dryers and the most expensive were $3.25/load washers and $2.50/load dryers. I would say it averages around $2 per load. I’ve learned to always keep my quarters with me because you never know when the dryer won’t actually dry the clothes, or the laundry pod will not dissolve, or the washer will kick the pod onto the door frame and the detergent pod won’t actually go through the wash with the clothes and get the laundry clean. TIP: I would buy your roll of quarters when you are able to, whether it is at a bank or the campground. Some of the campgrounds do not have change machine or will not sell quarters.

LIQUID DETERGENT VS PODS: At home we always used the liquid detergent. However, with a tiny space and a weight limit, I switched to the pods for a while. For the most part they worked great. When we moved down South, the pods started not dissolving all the way during the wash cycle. I thought it was the campground, but it happened at 3 different ones. Maybe we got a bad batch of pods? We switched over to the liquid again when we found a smaller bottle. We were tired of finding pieces of laundry pods stuck on our clothes. There are also laundry sheets* that some people rave about, but they are pretty expensive (per load of laundry vs other detergent) so I haven’t tried them yet.

So far, we have spent about $300 in laundry (on average $10/week), not including detergent or dryer sheets. We were very lucky that we had a washing machine that we could use for free in Florida for several weeks!

*Affiliate link