We found this great 2014 T@B camper/travel trailer. We totally fell in love with its cuteness and versatility. It is lightweight (about 1600 lbs) to tow but still has all of the amenities of a full-size RV. We have a kitchen, hot water, propane stove, air conditioning, and even a commode/shower combo.
Check out the latest video of our little teardrop being delivered….did I mention that it is the coolest shade of blue?
This is a two-part series while exploring Elk City, Oklahoma this summer. Great free camping right off of I-40 in Oklahoma! So many roadside attractions to see along the entire length of Route 66. It is a great summer road trip idea… especially in your RV!
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It was hot and humid late August in Tennessee. We stopped in Nashville to stock up at Costco since we were going to be out in the country right off of the Natchez Trace Parkway. I love pulling up the RV right into the large Costco lot shopping and putting the groceries right into the fridge! What we didn’t know is that part of the Parkway was closed for some reason. In a car that would be mostly ok but in a 36-foot Motorhome pulling a smart car not so OK. It required a turnaround possibly u-turn. It was not even marked ahead of time nothing written on the thousand trails website! (See the video for full information. It did say it would be closed for a while on the sign.)
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile long drive through 10,000 years of History. (NPS Gov Website referenced) From Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN you can bike, camp, tour, hike and more recreational opportunities abound in this area.
We were intrigued by the ominous story of Lewis and Clark’s Meriweather Lewis and his suspicious death. While we did not have time to drive the length of the parkway, there is a ton to see in each area!
I would caution those in RV’s to make sure to check the height of the bridges and make sure to have ways around the low clearances. We had a bridge right outside the thousand trails campground entrance that was 11 feet tall while our RV was 12 feet 10 inches tall.
After a failed attempt work camping at Amazon in Campbellsville, KY in August 2016. (I hurt my foot and decided to leave – longish story but not that interesting) We moved to the closest Thousand Trails campground and that happened to be this one to regroup and decide where our RVing adventures would lead us next.
The thousand trails campground is located right inside of Mammoth Cave National Park. So after my foot was mostly healed, I could not leave the area without some exploration of Mammoth Cave. The area is full of rolling hills and known for their underground passageways that have been explored and mined for hundreds if not thousands of years.
This was a really really hot and humid August summer day in central Kentucky. The kind of day that is really meant for sitting in a pool or drinking some ice tea on a front porch somewhere. What was the most remarkable thing I remember about the tour? Standing outside on that hot day and having a cold breeze taking over the air. It was a dose of mother nature’s air conditioning. It seemed to just pour out of the entrance.
The tours vary in length and activity level. I chose a moderate cave tour with stooping and and a ton of steps (at the end over 155 steps to reach back to the outside trail) I was able to complete the hike within the cave even with a swollen foot from my short stint at my work camping job. They give you plenty of warnings at the pre – hike lecture and if you need to change your choice at that point you definitely can. Just be honest with yourself on your level of comfort in the dark and what you can handle physically. It is a long way up and a crew to come down and get you out of the cave can take hours!
The temperatures in Western Washington have been really cold. We decided it was time to start thinking about making a heated hose to prevent frozen pipes in our RV. We had problems last year in Albuquerque when the hose bib itself froze and we luckily had enough in our fresh water tank until that unfroze the next day.
Here is a pretty detailed video of he we made our own heated water hose.
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Well, it has been a long time coming, but here it is. The very first in a series of Fireside Traveler YouTube videos. This one was taken in June 2016 while we were camping in southern Massachusetts at the thousand trails campground called: Gateway to Cape Cod. What an obvious name 🙂 It really was a perfect day. The temperature and weather was spot on. Which made for a great day to begin this journey. I wanted to see if I could make a video. I have no prior experience and definitely still in the learning process. I hope you enjoy this and there will be many more to come!
We just passed our 4 month anniversary of full timing in our Motorhome. woo hoo! I thought it might be time to share some our essential items for living full-time on the road in an RV. This is by no way a comprehensive list and your mileage may certainly vary depending on your needs.
Water Filters – We tend to be water snobs. Water quality really varies from place to place. So we try to make sure we can depend on the taste or lack of taste to the H2O. We have gone back and forth with buying water, using the refill stations at Walmart and using filters. We have settled on and use a three filter system. At the water spigot we start with the cheapo Camco blue filter Camco Blue water filter two pack to make our expensive internal filter last as long as possible. Then in our water bay we have a Watts Flo Pur water filter
which is also a whole RV / House filter. When we bought Franklin, we received a gift card from the dealership to spend on parts in their parts store, so…we loaded up on filters. Lastly, inside we filter again through a Brita Pitcher. The dual filter coming in is also great for our ice maker
GPS – specific to RVing. We plug-in our height, weight, how much propane we are carrying, our length etc. and it will route around any restrictions. It has become really valuable recently when I-84 was closed in New York for a horrible accident. We were off of the highway and onto a lot of back roads where there weren’t detours set up. We use redundant GPS systems from time to time, and the RV specific one has saved us a few times. Rand-McNally RV GPS
3M Dual Lock – This stuff is sort of like Velcro on steroids. It is super strong and holds more weight than command strips. The little bristles lock together and hold art or thermometers or whatever on the wall. We usually find ours at Home Depot. Stick with the heaviest duty kind you can find, you will not be sorry. David used some to stick down his studio monitors to our desk and they have not budged in several thousand miles on the road. Dual Lock
Surge Protector – This is really a must have. Power can be super unpredictable at campgrounds. There are a lot of different models out there and it is really how much you want to spend depends on the quality. However, we do have one built into our motor home. So we have kind of a low to mid-range external to double up. We scout our campsites in our tow car and leave the RV parked somewhere in the campground while deciding on a site. So, we take the surge protector and plug it in to a site we are looking at before we ever bring the RV over to check for correct wiring. (we check the water too…making sure it works)
Dog Bones – I know what you’re thinking… but not those kind.
Get a full set from Amazon and be prepared for any level from 50 amp to 20 amp.
Water Pressure Regulator – We like the kind where we can dial in the pressure. No matter what kind you choose…don’t go without it. We have been at a park that had a sign up at the check in desk because their pressure was at 70 psi and you had to sign a waiver that you were using a regulator.
Rivets – What we don’t hang with 3M Dual Lock, we hang with rivets. Small holes and with thin RV walls… it just works. If the hole is bigger than the rivet just add a washer to the item you are hanging. poof done! (see above Dog Bone Photo)
Basic Set of Tools – Things happen in RVs all the time. A basic set of tools is definitely an essential. Doesn’t have to be super fancy. We use this one from harbor freight tools: 130 piece tool set . You will probably need to add a few pieces specific to your situation along the way, but this is a good start. OK, full disclosure, we also still carry many tools from our sticks & bricks days..hmm…still need to pair some of the tools down. Put it on the to-do list.
Walkie Talkies – We use these all of the time! So there are places that still have no cell service. We use them mostly when backing the RV into a campsite. Certainly use hand signals too but these are worth it…trust me on this one. Also great when one person is driving the toad separate for some reason, or if you are caravaning with friends.
Tire Pressure Monitoring – We do not have ones for the Motorhome and are thinking this might be an upgrade in the near future and any suggestions are welcome. However, we do use them for our tow car which happens to be a Smart Car. The Smart Car is super lightweight at 1800 pounds. If we blew a tire 36 feet behind us, we would not hear or see it. This gives us peace of mind to monitor the situation from the cockpit.
Comfortable Seating – our last RV just had a U-shaped dinette. It had bench seating which consisted of cushions on top of plywood…not even a little bit comfy. So when we got Franklin, we made sure it had a sofa that we could lounge in or lie in when we needed it. Oh yeah, our outdoor chairs are the bomb and are really comfy and great on the back too!
These are for sure our top RV essentials at this point. Thank for all of the support so far and keep an eye out of a YouTube channel coming soon!
We are big fans of free factory tours…so when we had the opportunity to take a side trip to Pennsylvania to see how Martin Guitars were made, we jumped at the idea. (Besides we got to stay in the beauty of the Poconos) We decided to stay at the thousand trails campground in Scotrun about thirty miles from Nazareth, PA where the Martin Factory resides.
entrance to the factory
The factory tour lasts about 1 hour from start to finish. I really appreciated how you get up close and personal with the guitar makers…seeing every detail of what goes into making a Martin Guitar. When you walk through that door into the factory it is sparkly clean! They have a super effective system to remove all of the dust that normally floats through the air when wood working. Our tour guide is a second generation in her family to work at the factory. (Since they have been the finest guitars here for 175 years, I am sure she is not the only one) This is the definitely the kind of place I would love to work as a wood worker. But as they said…woodworking skills are not required. All are trained on the job…can you believe that is amazing! Only about 11% of the staff play guitar at all.
initial cut out
Bending guitar bodies
guitar forms with model numbers
Where the music begins
Each and every guitar that we saw in process was already sold ….had an order for it. They actually have a backlog right now…which is a great place to be in manufacturing. The picture below shows how the guitar is laid out on the wood…then they check to see if they can cut around imperfections to optimize the use of the wood.
Martin Guitars are known to be the instrument of choice for a lot of musicians and I can see why. Make sure to check out their tour from the Martin Guitar website.
The different stages of finishing are shown here. I loved the desk of the man who is known for his inlay skills. My personal favorite!
What impressed us most about the tour? I think it is how many hands it takes to create a Martin Guitar! In this age, there are skilled artisans hand-working each and every CF Martin Guitar! There is still so much skill.. from hand sanding, to finishing, to inlaying the edge banding and much more. There are real people behind these guitars! From what I have seen, sure shows one way that this company is supporting the community that same way it has for over 100 years. Each and every hand that touches your Martin guitar gives that distinctive sound!
I must admit I did not know what to expect from New Jersey. I had only been in the Newark airport a few times. My perception of this area was very industrial almost rust belt. I know it is named the garden state, but my preconceived ideas were totally off. It is green with views of the ocean and little lakes everywhere and of course a ton of history!
We camped in a little town called Port Republic, New Jersey. The area surrounding the campground is filled with homes on large lots deep in the woods. What surprised me the most about the area is the combination of rural property so close to a large draw like Atlantic City.
Foggy Day Atlantic City Boardwalk
If you decide to venture into Atlantic City, the tollway really takes you right into the tourist area of Atlantic City near the casinos and the boardwalk. However, there are ways to avoid the toll roads to enter the city off of Hwy 30. For those with RV’s, there is a tunnel that does not allow propane in the area. Typically parking is not free in this part of town, but some is validated and for us we parked in the parking lot of the Bass Pro Shop and made a purchase and parked for 4 hours for free. This was really walk-able to most of the casinos, the ocean, and boardwalk areas.
We typically eat most of our meals at the RV and reserve our money for other experiences, but we had to try a Philly Cheese-steak on the Boardwalk with an amazing view of the ocean! I am really not sure if this is normal in this area… but the fog was super interesting and localized right over the beach.
If you happen to be in the area, make sure to check out the historic town of Smithville, NJ! Super cute lots of baked goods, restaurants, and shops! http://historicsmithvillenj.com/ Even though some of Smithville has been around since the revolutionary war, in the 1960’s many buildings were brought in from around New Jersey to create this cute little town. I guess I would describe it as quaint.
Gardens at the Palace of the Govenors Williamsburg, VA
Mmmm beer samples
My last post was all about the settlement of Jamestown, VA in 1607. The City of Williamsburg was founded as the capital of the Virginia Colony in 1699. At the time Colonial leaders requested to relocate the capital from Jamestown to Middle Plantation, five miles inland between the James and the York Rivers. The new city was renamed Williamsburg in honor of England’s reigning monarch, King William III.
Why did they move the capital? There are three main reasons for the move: 1. the drinking water was contaminated by seepage of saltwater, 2. the living conditions became dirty caused diseases, and 3. Williamsburg was situated at a higher elevation than Jamestown.
Some kids go to Disney as a kid…I got to go to Colonial Williamsburg. It was one of the most memorable trips for me. I was a really shy kid so I told myself one day that I would be able to make stuff like the artists at Williamsburg.
Slowly over the last forty years or so, I have kept that silent promise to myself. I make yarn out of fiber on my spinning wheel. I have a loom and can weave. I have successfully created all kinds of wearable art and sell my own jewelry. I sell silver jewelry and know how to be a silversmith. We have sold more wood turned items than I can count. We have even had our own wood shop. I even have a letterpress machine so I can make prints or business cards. However, I can’t leather work or blacksmith…yet!
Williamsburg is was one of those places for me that made an lasting impression throughout my life. So, this was my second time coming here to Williamsburg. I come to it from a much different perspective.
Colonial Williamsburg VA Visitor center
Williamsburg Visitor Center
There are two ways to see Colonial Williamsburg…the first way is totally free. You can park on the outskirts of the area like Merchants Square and walk in. You experience what it felt like to be in Colonial Williamsburg in the 1600s. Walk the street, see the architecture, and talk to towns people. Parking for two hours is free or you can park in a garage for about $1 per hour.
The second way is all inclusive. Make your way to the visitor center where you park for free. The visitor center has two gift shops: one British themed and one Colonial themed. Buy a ticket which is about $41 per ticket(adults) for one day or a multi day ticket for $51 (adults). Check the Colonial Williamsburg, VA website for more ticket prices and specials. With the ticket you get to see the tours of places like the governors palace etc. and seeing the artisans at work.
I was a little afraid Williamsburg would not live up to my expectation. It held a really high regard in my mind. I can say it was equally inspirational the second time around.