Posted in: Exploring Michigan, Food, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Frankfort, Michigan

Although we stayed in Bear Lake, we frequently went into Frankfort, Michigan. Frankfort was about 15 minutes away and was a cute town. There was a grocery store and gas stations near town. The main street had several restaurants, a bookstore, bakeries, and a neat beach area with a lighthouse. We found a Little Library and a Little Art Library.

There were several ice cream places in town as well, and the two we tried were both good. The bagels from L’Chayim were delicious, the ice cream cake from Kilwin’s was amazing (but expensive), and The Bookstore was fun to explore.

On Nick and Mom Day, we walked the jetty to the lighthouse. It was very foggy and you couldn’t see the lighthouse from the shore when we started. We spent some time on the beach at the swings. After telling Ben about the fun things at the beach, we all headed there the next clear day. The benches and swings all face the Lake! There were also a few sand volleyball nets. Restrooms were near the parking lot. It was a great place to relax. You could swim there, and some people were, but the water was too cold for us.

Frankfort was a nice walking town. If you are in the area, I would check it out!

Posted in: Exploring Maine, Sightseeing

Exploring Bar Harbor, Maine

We finally made it to our Northernmost Eastern Coast stop: Maine. For our stay here, we focused on being near Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

We had never been to Maine and were eager to explore. Bar Harbor is a cute waterfront town. There are several parking lots and the streets are lined with parking meters. We saw a sign stating that paid parking was in effect May to October. The lots are pay by machine or app, and the parking meters are pay by credit card/quarters or app. The weekend was very busy and parking was hard to come by. I was not expecting it to be this busy so early in the season. The town itself didn’t really open up until around 10:00 for most stores.

Town: fountain, park overlooking water, playground and little library, shops

We found the one pressed penny machine in town inside a store. (The National Park did not have one, so if you collect pressed pennies, you have to go into town.)

There was a great walking path around the water called the Shore Path. There were also historical signs around the town called The Museum In The Streets. There was some interesting information on them and are found throughout Bar Harbor.

click to enlarge

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.

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Posted in: Exploring Virginia, Sightseeing

Cape Charles, Virginia

This cute little town was about 18 minutes from our campground. It is set on the water, so there was a beach area to enjoy. There was also the main street (Mason St.) that was lined with shops and restaurants. We really enjoyed walking around the town. Parking was free when we were there, mostly on-street, although there was a parking lot by behind the main street and also over by the marina.

There were some really cute stores, where we picked up some gifts for people. There seemed to be an ice cream store almost every block. We tried Brown Dog Ice Cream and tried the turtle ice cream (this turtle had a chocolate ice cream base instead of vanilla). As we walked further along, we stopped at the bakery and picked up a Nutella loaf of bread and some shortbread cookies. Our final treat of the day was at Cowlick’s Creamery where we tried a peanut butter ice cream (custard). Both of the desserts were really nice.

The boys loved finding the little libraries scattered around town. There were 4 listed on the map, but we found an extra one near the beach. They didn’t have much luck finding a book, but were able to drop some of theirs off for others to enjoy.

Sand Dunes at Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

We walked along the beach for a few minutes and saw a crab and a few shells. We also saw some small jellyfish on the beach, although I’m not sure what kind they were.

Posted in: Exploring Virginia, Sightseeing

Pearl Market (Cape Charles, Virginia)

We went out adventuring on Saturday. Our game plan was to go into Cape Charles to explore the town. On our way there, we saw that the Pearl Market was open. We had passed this store front many times, but it had always been closed. The place looked packed and we decided to stop. (NOTE: It is only open on Saturdays.)

There were several artists’/crafters’ booths set up inside, as well as a few outside in the back. There was a coffee stand and a couple of food booths. There was a nice variety of offerings inside from wood bracelets and rings, to cups and mugs, to decorated oyster shells. There was a demonstration of glass blowing going on as well.

We stopped at one booth and chatted with the couple there. She paints and makes these beautiful decoupage oyster shells and he made these amazing stained-glass hummingbirds. We ended up getting an oyster shell as a gift. I loved the humming bird too, but was worried about it surviving on the road. They had such a neat story! They take a boat to the barrier islands and find the oyster shells, along with sea glass. They showed us some great pictures of these beaches. They even gave us a piece of the blue bottle sea glass that they find. Check them out if you are in Cape Charles!

If you are in the Eastern Shore/Cape Charles, Virginia area on a Saturday, I would definitely check out this market!

Posted in: Exploring Virginia, Hiking, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

Visiting Yorktown, Virginia (National Park Service)

We did it. We completed the triangle!

We went to Yorktown with our friends who were visiting for the weekend, the Piatt’s. I can honestly say that I don’t think any of us had high expectations (except for Will). However, we were pleasantly surprised. The Visitor Center was partially open for the bookstore/gift shop. The store had the passport stamps, but did not have any pieces of paper to use if you forgot your passport (or use in your journal like we do). You could buy a sticker sheet for $0.95 (+tax) to stamp though. All the kids got a Junior Ranger Program booklet to work on. A lot of the museums and houses were closed due to COVID, but there is a free audio app that you can download. The app has some information on different sites in town, as well as the two driving tours.

Monument, Visitor Center

We walked into the town from the Visitor Center using a nice paved path. It wasn’t a long walk; I think they said 456 yards. We saw the Statue of Liberty, not to be confused with the one in New York. It was a super cute little town with some shops and a coffee shop, and the Historical plaques that Will had missed seeing in Williamsburg.

We stopped at the artists shop at York Hall and found a few nice pieces. Ben found a colorful quilt. It was History Day, so there were a few demonstrations in the front of the Hall, including some children’s games.

We walked down to the waterfront and saw the beach area. There were a few sections of beach and a fishing pier. It was pretty crowded, so we didn’t get near the water.

There are two driving tours you can take in Yorktown: the red (Battlefield, 7 miles) and the yellow (Allied Encampment, 9 miles). After circling back to the Visitor Center, we got into our cars and took the red driving tour. I had downloaded the audio app, so we were able to go to each stop, park in the lot, and listen to the tour. There are parking spots, so you can also get out to look at things and read the historical informational signs.

Yorktown was a neat area with a mix of history, beach fun, and shopping. It ended up being one of my favorite places to visit while in Williamsburg. (In fact, we went to the town twice!)

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $15/adults, $0/child (ages 0-15), Free with Interagency or Annual Pass. COVID Restrictions: masks required, some buildings closed
  • HOURS: Bookstore/Gift Shop Tuesday-Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm
  • PARKING: Some parking near town and at Visitor Center
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Exploring Louisiana, Sightseeing

Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-Op (New Orleans, LA)

While walking through the French Quarter, we stopped at the Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-Op. They had some awesome pieces in there ranging from photographs to jewelry.

I wish we had more room (or didn’t have to worry about things breaking during moves), because there were so many neat pieces in the store. Each artist had their own section/display.

Note: They did have their masks on the whole time until the picture. We stood 6 ft away and were the only ones in the store.

We had a great chat with two of the artists that were in that day, Paul and James. Paul had some great wood creations, including bow ties! James had some unique jewelry made out of records. They were really unique and bright.

Ben bought me a really cool jellyfish necklace. I need to get a longer chain for it, but it is certainly a unique piece that is unlike anything I have.

I don’t think they ship, as I didn’t see anything on their website, but if you are in the French Quarter, you should definitely check it out!

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, 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: Animal Sightings, Exploring Texas, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Exploring Fort Worth Stockyards: Shopping, A Cattle Drive, And A Gun Fight Show

The last time we went into the Stockyards, we didn’t time it right to see the daily cattle drive or the gunfight show that happens on Saturdays and Sundays.

We headed back on Saturday to walk around, shop, and watch the shows. Nick found a new belt, complete with large buckle. Will and I found new straw cowboy hats.

We saw the cattle drive first. It was pretty cool to see the long horn cattle. Each of their horns were different shapes and lengths. There was an announcer prior to the cattle drive giving some interesting facts. So far, the widest longhorn horns have been almost 11 feet wide (he lives in Alabama though)! VIDEO: Fort Worth Stockyards Cattle Drive

We were waiting for the gunfight show to start, so Ben and Will explored a store (Stockyards Trading/Stockyards Back Forty) by the action. They finally found a hat for Will, but the show was starting. The shop was nice enough to hold it for us until after the show. Will thought it was a little snug, so the shop used a wooden hat stretcher to help it fit better.

The gunshow was a little crowded and it echoed a little in the area. The kids seemed to get a kick out of the show. VIDEO: Fort Worth Stockyards Gunfight Show

Ben also bought me a pair of earrings. There was so much cute stuff in the shops at the Stockyards. We’re going to miss the big Christmas event, but we still found a few things to ship back home for gifts.

Walking around the area was fun to do by itself too. We saw the stockyard pens in the back. There was a walkway that goes over the top for observation. There was a really cool old turnstile as well.

We also found two large objects: a set of spurs and a belt.