How We Wrapped Up 2016

The month of December brings us to the end of another year. This year has had ups and downs. January started with me taking a part-time job as we sat in Tallahassee trying to decide if we were going back on the road or staying put. It didn’t take but about six months for us to decide that what we really wanted was to be on the road travelling, so off we went. Our first trip was only for a couple of weeks to Louisiana and back to Florida. Come July we began what was supposed to be a 4 month trip to the New England states and back along the eastern coastline.  This marks the second time we have tried to visit the eastern coastline and had to cancel and head back home. The first time being back in 2015 when we first began our full-time travel.  

Our journey north started out good and for the first couple months we really enjoyed all the places we got to visit. The most memorable being our trip to Niagara Falls, followed by all the covered bridge sightings. Our time in the North Carolina mountains brought us or at least me some scary moments on the trip up and down the mountain, but nothing that I wouldn’t attempt to do again as the sights were beautiful and seeing the elk was more than worth the drive.

Unfortunately in September we were hit with a big setback when Greg had to have emergency surgery. Thankfully he is doing good and we are hopeful that in February he will have a second surgery to reverse part of the first one and once recuperated we will be back on the road enjoying this beautiful country. After two attempts of trying to see the east coast, we are going to forego that area for now and head west. We want to view some annual lots around Lake Fork in Texas, where we hope to settle one day, before heading to Monterey, California.  

CHRISTMAS

While staying in Florida, I was able to see two of the grandkids at Christmas time. I visited the one who lives in Louisiana right before Thanksgiving and since his mom is expecting a little girl in April, I decided to forego a trip back there until closer to delivery time.

 

Greg and I spent Christmas day out on the lake as we have a great RV spot on Lake Talquin that is known for great bass fishing.  We try to go out in the boat at least once a week at a minimum.  

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas holiday and we wish you all a very Happy New Year!

A Synopsis of our Summer Travel in an RV

A trip which started in June and ended in October included 120 days of traveling over 10k miles through 18 states. Our trip started and ended in Florida, which serves as our home base. 

The first 23 days of our journey included traveling through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. We had both wanted to visit Duck Commander in West Monroe, LA, so off we went to see if we could meet any of the Robertson clan. The scariest part of this journey was the roads as they were the worse roads we have ever traveled on and some I hope we can avoid in the future.

Once we left Louisiana we headed back to Florida as we were supposed to meet the rest of the family at my parents to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. Once we done that, we were headed out for the next 97 days traveling up to the New England states and back down the eastern coast.

Our state map shows all the states we have traveled through regardless if we spent an overnight or not. For us, if we spend a good part of the day sightseeing, then that’s good enough to add a state to the map.

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The other states we made it through were: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey. Wow! Saying that out load is scary! I can’t believe we covered that many states in only 4 months. I know there is still so much to see in these states and hopefully we will go back one day and see more.

If you’ve been following my blog, you already know our trip was cut short due to a medical emergency, so we didn’t make it to DC and Maryland, nor the eastern coastline through Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and eastern parts of Florida. Hopefully we will finish that portion of the trip in the future.

Our total miles over the expansion of 120 days of traveling were 10,497; of which 5,074 were actual travel miles. The rest were all the miles we spent going on sightseeing adventures looking for waterfalls, covered bridges, lighthouses, Elk and so much more. You can read about all of our adventures in the archives.

Our average cost for camping fees were $29.09 per day for the entire 120 days based on how much we spent on campground fees as well as 4 months’ coverage for our Thousand Trails membership, which we pay monthly.

We learned a lot on this journey and hope to put that knowledge to use when we get through this medical crisis and get back on the road. In the meantime, I’ll spend some time working on my photography skills, reading, sewing, crocheting and knitting. Oh and a little fishing on the lake won’t hurt either as we found a nice quiet little spot on Lake Talquin to spend the next few months.

How to Deal with Medical Emergencies on the Road

Living on the road full-time moving from city to city every few days, few weeks or months can be a hardship when faced with a medical emergency. Things can happen that we are never prepared for, but should take some precautions, so when faced with hard times everyone knows how to handle things at home.

We were hit with a medical emergency on a day that we were suppose to be moving to the next city. We ended up in the emergency room with my husband having to have abdominal surgery, which resulted in a five-day hospital stay and two weeks of staying in a town that we had no intentions of staying in. We were only in this area to pick up our new RV, which we had done on the Tuesday before this happened. Our plan was to head to D.C. to continue on our four-month trip that we were in the middle of; however, our plans were drastically changed.

The biggest obstacle we faced wasn’t going to the ER. The biggest obstacle was that I don’t know how to hook up and pull our fifth wheel and unfortunately we couldn’t stay in the site we were at at the state park. I drove my husband to the ER not knowing how bad the situation was until after several test including a CT scan and blood work were done. The word surgery started floating around and by 11:30 I had to leave to somehow get the RV moved while not knowing what would happen while I was gone. The hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long time is leave my husband at the hospital with so many unknowns and go handle the RV situation.

I was lucky that the dealership we just bought from was willing to send someone over to move the RV. By the time they showed up I had the fifth wheel loaded, but couldn’t get the hitch to lock into place. I could have probably pulled the RV and parked at the next location which I found right across the street, without help, due to the adrenaline rush I was on, but I was still scared of screwing something up and we had only owned the RV for three days. By the time the driver showed up, an hour late, I was growing more anxious as all I wanted was to be at the hospital. I also had two dogs to care for while all this was going on and they knew something was wrong.

Finally by 3:00 pm I was set up and able to head to the hospital. Let me tell you the worse fear is to get to a hospital knowing you left your husband there and being told he wasn’t there, then being told he was in surgery. After what seemed like a lifetime I was brought up to speed as to what was going on and began the wait for him to get out of surgery and finally make it to his room. Five days later we were leaving the hospital hoping our stay in this town would end on the following Monday after his follow-up visit. Unfortunately the doctor wanted to wait on removing the staples, so we would be around another week.

I cannot express enough how important it is for all persons to be able to drive and set up the RV. I’ve watched and helped do the outside stuff enough to know how to hook up water, electric and sewer, so that part I’m familiar with and so should all of you be. Driving on the other hand had only been for about 20 minutes in our old rig, but that will be changing once we leave here. I never want to be put in this position again of not knowing how to do something when it comes to our home.

Since my husbands recovery will take 4 to 6 weeks and then eventually another surgery, we are headed back to our home base in Florida for the next six months at least. Not what we had planned, but we’re just thankful that he’s okay and everything worked itself out in the end. Once he’s all better, we’ll get back on the road headed west.

We Bought a New RV

We arrived back in Ohio on Sunday, September 11th to finish up last-minute packing before picking up our new RV, a Keystone Montana model 3791rd. We arrived at the dealership on the 13th at 9:00 am having no idea what to expect.  Lucky for us RCD Sales made the experience very simple. We were given a tour of our Montana, completed the necessary paperwork and then on to the real chore of switching from one RV to the other. Take my word for it, it is much easier moving from a sticks and brick to an RV than from an RV to an RV. One of the biggest features of the 3791 model is the storage underneath, and one of the main reasons we decided to purchase this model so we took advantage of all that space and moved 90% of our stuff to the storage area. Six hours after we arrived we were headed back to the campground for the real work to begin. We had two days to get the RV organized as Friday was our anticipated departure date to get back on track with our current trip. 

One of the other features that I was looking forward to was the stackable washer and dryer instead of a combo feature like what we had before. I started washing clothes the moment we were set up and felt like I would never get through. Unfortunately on the second to last load the dryer started sounding really bad so no more drying clothes until we can get it looked at. We talked to the dealer and they were going to look at it on Friday morning before we left, but unfortunately we never made our planned departure on Friday as my husband had emergency surgery that morning instead. By the time I posted this blog post I had finally got to bring my husband home from the hospital and call the dealership to have the dryer looked at. They had to order another one, so it will be a few days before we get it back. Lucky for us we have to stick around for my hubby to recuperate from surgery so it worked out in the end.

The other big feature for me was having an ice maker. The water line that the dealership showed us to turn on turned out to not be the one for the ice maker and once we found the right one and turned it on, it ended up leaking, but we didn’t notice until the pantry floor was covered in water, which is where the water line on/off valve is located. Luckily my husband was able to fix it himself and save us from having to wait on the dealership.

As of today (Sept 23rd) we have been in the house for 10 days and finally at the point that we can start to enjoy this beautiful home. I am so happy we made the change as the layout and space is perfect for us. The raised living room has seating for at least 6 and includes 2 full-size beds if anyone wants to come for a visit. The recliners are perfect not only for us, but also for the furbabies. We have eaten at our dining room table more in the last 10 days than we ever sat at our table in the old house or our sticks and bricks house for that matter. It will also serve as my sewing table so being a multi-purpose table was essential for us. The kitchen layout is perfect for cooking and I’m learning to use our convection oven. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I have never cooked in one before, but look forward to conquering the challenge. Although the bathroom is smaller than our last RV, it still rocks and has all the necessities. Loosing the bathtub hasn’t been an issue as I prefer the shower seat any day. The king size bed gives us enough room for the furbabies to sleep with us and us to still have actual room to sleep. It’s funny how much room two 15 pound dogs can take up, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. They are our family and life would not be the same without them. 

Now for a tour of our beautiful home…. a few views from the outside.

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Different views around the living room. Two couches on each side of the room in a slide out that convert to full-size beds. The loveseat recliners are in the pic on the bottom right. They face the tv head on.

living-roomCan’t have a house without a bathroom!

bathroomNot sure if I should call this our bedroom or the furbabies as they spend as much time in here as we do.!bedroom

Of course I saved the best for last….THE KITCHEN!!!! 

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The sink and stove with covers added giving more counter space!

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Without the covers!

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Coffee bar and crock pot cooking today!!!

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The view from the kitchen to the living room. The dining room table is on the left.

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The view from the living room into the kitchen.

The multi-purpose dining room table that also serves as my sewing table.

The multi-purpose dining room table that also serves as my sewing table.

 

Our Experience with Thousand Trails

I was very skeptical about buying a membership with Thousand Trails (TT) as I wasn’t sure we would actually get our money’s worth. One thing I learned right away is to read the fine print. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting into.  I understood that I was only buying certain zones, but one of the things I didn’t realize was that you couldn’t book more than 60 days out. I had bought our membership in May in hopes that I could start booking for our big trip north well in advance. Instead I had to wait until 60 days prior to the first day of my stay at each place I wanted to stay at.  In the end, it didn’t seem to be a problem as I was able to make a reservation for each place I wanted to be at once I reached the 60-day prior mark. However, it wasn’t until we got to the first Thousand Trails park that we booked that we found out that even with a reservation, it doesn’t mean they will have a spot for you. What’s the purpose in making a reservation, if there not going to have a spot? In all our months of RVing we have never run into this problem as it makes sense that if you make a reservation you expect to have a site waiting for you.

The first TT we attempted to go to was Gateway to Cape Cod RV Campground located at 90 Stevens Road, Rochester, MA. It was our first experience and the worse. The first thing we learned was when you arrive at a TT park, you get to choose your campsite. That is, if you can find one. Driving around looking for a site is not something we have ever had to do as all campgrounds/resorts we have visited always direct us to where we are to go even if I have picked our site out online, the host still directs us as to where to go and how to get there. The host at Gateway was of no help and very rude. She didn’t even have a clue as to which sites might be available. Just said drive around until you find something and then come tell me where you are. I’m sorry but this is not the way to manage a campground. After this experience I was ready to cancel our membership and never recommend them to anyone. This is when we discovered that even though we had a reservation made for over 60 days, it didn’t guarantee us a site upon arrival. Luckily we were able to find another campground to stay at; however, it ended up costing us $200. 

Our second TT was at Sturbridge RV Resort located at 19 Mashapaug Rd in Sturbridge, MA, which wasn’t too far from Rochester. Our experience was better as far as the campground having space available, but the spaces were so close together we couldn’t even open our awning. If we had, it would have touched our neighbor’s RV who had come in on the same day we had. They were supposed to stay for 10 days, but they left the next day, which I assume was due to lack of site space. There ended up being a water leak at our door on day two and they didn’t even consider fixing it until the day we were to leave. They wanted us to leave by 9:00 am so they could get started, but I’m pretty sure check out was not until noon. I understand the leak needed to be fixed, but we had already been inconvenienced with lack of space and having to walk through water, so what would another hour or two hurt.

The third TT was at Timothy Lake North at 6837 Timothy Lake Road, E Stroudsburg, PA. As for the ranger, she was great. She told me several sites that were opened and showed me how to get to them.  As for space, well let’s just say it was much better than the last place; however, the grounds needed a lot of care. They were trimming trees and cutting grass near the check-in, laundry, pool and up front areas, but they failed to manicure the rest of the property.  We parked on an end site in a pull-through only to discover that we would have to back up to get out as we couldn’t make the turn to the right pulling a fifth wheel and the entrance/exit to the left was blocked off.

We finally made it to our fourth TT park in Lebanon, PA at Hershey RV & Camping Resort located at 493 S Mt Pleasant Road and found the best park of all.  Not only was the ranger full of information and a breath of fresh air, but everyone else we have had contact with during our stay was as well. Our stay was during Labor Day weekend for eight nights and being that we were arriving on Friday before the holiday, we were afraid there wouldn’t be any spots available. However, we arrived right before noon and luckily there were several. We lucked out with a spot that no one can park behind or in front of us, so we are more than happy with our site. There is so much to do here to entertain yourself, from a pool and spa, to tennis and volleyball courts and so much more. Our only complaint is the Wi-Fi, which when it worked was very slow. Liking this place makes coming back to this area a big possibility in the future.

If you’re considering purchasing a membership to Thousand Trails make sure you read every word of the contract before you obligate yourself. If I had known then what I know now, I would not have bought the membership and because of the issues we had in the beginning I will not renew when the times comes.

 

A Couple Weeks in Pennyslvania

After we completed our visit through the New England states we spent a couple of weeks in Pennsylvania. Our first stop was only for a couple of days in the Pocono area so we could visit the Pocono NASCAR track. At some point we plan on chasing NASCAR all over the country to see the races live, but in the meantime we’ll keep visiting the tracks along the way. We actually got to ride in a pace car from the fan store to the track for a tour. 

NASCAR Pace Car

NASCAR Pace Car

On days that the track is not hot, they actually take you on the track, but unfortunately the track was being used on the day we visited. At this particular track you can drive a stock car by yourself around the track. They put you through a training session before they put you in the car, but then your strapped in and able to drive as fast as you want to go. Our tour guide said an 84-year-old lady had done it and went 135 MPH around the track. Neither of us participated in this activity, but it was tempting and something we might give into in the future. I mean why not what have you got to lose?

More pics from our trip to the Pocono Raceway…

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From here we headed to Lancaster county. I was looking to see some Amish country and more. We took a day to head to Lancaster and done a buggy ride that took us through farmland, a working farm and more. We both enjoyed the tour and wished it had actually been longer. If you ever get a chance to go, do yourself a favor and do the private ride, so you don’t have to share your time with others as some people are not always polite during events like this and when you pay money for something, if your like me, you want to get your money’s worth, which means I like to hear the tour guide talk, not the others on the tour.amw_9782

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At the farm, we stopped and got to walk through several of the barns, one being where the calves are stored once removed from their momma. Some were barely a month old. As you can see from the pics below, they were completely adorable. The next barn was the milking barn, which had all the milk cows. The milk cows produce as much as 10 gallons of milk per day. The Amish use a machine on the udders to gather the milk, which goes into a big vat that houses the milk until the trucks show up to get it and take to the factory for further processing. The cows are only given an hour of outside time per day.amw_9793

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In addition to the cows, we saw chickens, mules and miniature horses. The children attach a wagon to the miniature horses to be pulled around. One of the things that sets an Amish property apart from others is the long clothesline in the yard. I miss having an outside clothesline as when I was growing up that was the only way we dried clothes. 

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I put the pics below in black and white as it gives them that ole’ time look and reminds me of days gone by.

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We spent a day at Hershey’s Chocolate World. We were thinking the tour would be more of a behind the scenes type of tour, instead it’s a narrated ride telling you how things are done. There are several types of tours you can do as well as a trolley ride through Hershey; however, we opted to spend money on gifts for the grandkids, no chocolate, but something just as good.

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We spent time looking at covered bridges, the farmlands and just resting up for the rest of our journey. Overall it was a great stay and one that I could do again. From here we head back to Ohio to pick up the new RV before picking back up on our journey in Washington DC and then down the eastern coastline.