Posted in: Christmas, Exploring Ohio, Holidays

Light Up Middletown

Ben and I had a date night and went to Light Up Middletown. The drive through Christmas light display has lots of displays. Some of our favorites were the Calling Birds (on cell phones) and the reindeer with whales. There were a few unique ones including a steel smelter and an OH-IO.


We have a YouTube video of the drive (about 16 minutes long) or the super sped up version below.

The light display entrance fee is by Cash Donations! For more information, here is the link to their website. I would recommend going early, as the line gets very long to get in (we were in a line for about 45 minutes).

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: Christmas, Elf On The Shelf, Holidays

Elfing Around: Adventures of Mini E, Days 21-23

Day 20-21: Hid in my hat. Kids couldn’t find Mini-E the first night and asked the he stay put so they could find him.

Day 22: Writing a postcard to Santa.

Day 23: Hanging out in the kitchen.

Posted in: Christmas, Food, Holidays

Wineing In The RV: Advent Calendar Days 21-24

Day 21: Red wine. I liked this one, it had a nice taste. A little sweet. Barcelos, Red Blend Touriga Nacional, Portugal

Day 22: White wine. This one definitely had a puckering lip reaction. Ben called it “sour grapes” taste. I would not drink this again. Flutter, Chardonnay, Spain.

Day 23: Red wine. This one was ok, not my favorite. Ben liked it though. Chateau Cap De Biolet, Bordeaux, France.

Day 24: Brillant Sparkling, Vino Spumante Brut, Italy.

Posted in: Christmas, Holidays

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas Campground Edition (Poem)


Happy Christmas Eve! In the light of the giving season, Ben wanted to share the poem version of his book. No matter where you are, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Campground Edition) by Ben Tepe, 2020

‘Twas the Night before Christmas, when all through the park, quiet hours dictated even dogs shouldn’t bark.

The stockings were hung on the slide out with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were restless and wiggly in their bunk, until I yelled “Be still or Christmas is sunk”

Mom in her Christmas jammies and I in my suit, had just fell asleep tired out and kaput

When out on the gravel there arose such a clatter, I tumbled over mom to see what was the matter.

Was it a new neighbor or just a giant racoon? This late arriver flew in without plane nor balloon.

No diesel pusher, nor skoolie, nor gas; this guy was unorthodox and travelled en masse.

He drove his ultralight barely room for his stuff, with his load quite unstable, he wasn’t looking too buff.

All the campers around him peered out through their blinds, this sleigh and reindeer nearly made them lose their minds.

No need for a pull through nor hook-ups at all, this guy was in a hurry to bring joy with a doll.

More rapid than campground billing, his team he could enflame, they listened to him ‘cause he called each one by name.

“Now, Keystone! Now, Grand D! Now, Thor and Jayco!  On Airstream! On Tiff! On Winnie and Pal-o!”

“To the peak of that A-frame, to the dome of this rig. Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away jig!”

So, up to the roof top of course they flew, with a satchel full of treats and Santa Claus too!

Fearing the load this furry group had created, Magic alone kept the roof unperforated.

Down through the bath fan Santa came with a bound; dressed for the hunt, he was Christmas Camo gowned.

No time for chit chat he had things to do. To torture the neighbors, he started by leaving a kazoo.

Not sure how he did it with his magic of lore, the whole living space was filled, gifts ceiling to floor.

It doesn’t take much to fill up 200 square feet, but he managed to jam in four TVs, and a pound of dried meat;

A propane fire pit, bike lights and a hammock chair too; St. Nick left nothing out, even single ply for our poo.

Just as fast as he’d come he was gone with some speed, His job now complete he was done with this deed.

But I heard him exclaim in his thick Texas drawl, “Merry Christmas to you, and safe travels to y’all!”

To buy the eBook, complete with the story/poem and illustrations, click here.

Posted in: Christmas, Holidays, School, Word Find

Christmas Word Find: Travel Trailer Shaped

I know I did one of these at Thanksgiving. However, the kids requested a Christmas one, so I thought I would share.

We hope you and your families have a very Happy Holiday season!

For a printable version click here.

Answers, click here.

Posted in: Christmas, Exploring Texas, Food, Holidays, Sightseeing

Exploring Austin, Texas

Austin was a little over an hour away from the campground and we were excited to see it. We had heard a lot of good things about the city, plus there were a few holiday events there that we wanted to check out.

We started off at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar. It was a really neat store with booths from different artists. Nick made out with a new baby Yoda face mask and a keychain guitar pick holder. I found a chocolate bar with locally sourced ingredients. It looks like it will be tasty. They did a great job with Covid precautions: everyone had to wear masks and they were limiting the amount of people allowed in the space.

We drove further into Austin and had a little bit of a hard time finding parking. There were several artist booths with items for sale ranging from food to jewelry and clothes. We found a couple of items for Christmas gifts. We wandered around and tried pizza from Home Slice and ice cream from Amy’s. We explored this amazing candy store called Big Top Candy Shop. The inside decor was awesome and they had all different types of candy (chocolates, gummies…).

We also saw the Austin Motel’s Winter Wanderland. This must be a fun place to stay. It was close enough to walk to shops and restaurants and had a really cool vibe. They decorated the courtyard (even the pool area!) for Christmas with a lot of trees and garland. Even the prickly pear cacti had ornaments on them! It was really neat to see, super festive.

I did notice as a whole, the part of Austin we were in did a much better job with wearing masks, even outside.

Posted in: Christmas, Exploring Texas, Holidays, Sightseeing

Drive Through Nativity

Although we certainly do not miss the Ohio winters, there is something about snow and lights that get you in the holiday spirit. There are not a lot of Christmas lights or decorations up at the campground yet, just our lights and two other RVs. It certainly doesn’t feel like Christmas time yet, even with our River Walk experience.

After searching online, we found a few Covid safe events. Our first event was a free one at a local church, a live drive through Nativity.

It was only held one weekend and had quite the line to get in. The church had its own app which had a music track. If you didn’t have the app, they also offered a CD for you to borrow for the car. They had their own radio station playing a live broadcast as well.

The story began with the three wise men and their three camels. These were the only animals we saw, the rest of the “live” was from the people. The town setting of Bethlehem was really neat (although I only saw 1 person wearing a mask in the scene). At the end there was even an actual baby for Jesus! The scenes, props, and costumes were quite elaborate.

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