Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Here's what Dave had to say:
"Future fellow RV'er"
I've just finished reading your blog and listening to your "blogtalkradio" shows. I really found it interesting and well written. Like your other "fans", I wish you would write/podcast more often. I'm in Annapolis, MD and I'm getting ready to head out in my RV. I plan on heading out around the first of the year. I'm thinking I will do some local area camping in order to shake out any problems and make sure I have everything that I'll need. After that, I don't really have any plans on where or how long I'll be out on the road. I'm also into riding my motorcycle and need to figure out how to take it with me. One problem I have is deciding which bike to take. I have a full size Harley Ultra Classic and a Kawasaki KLR 650 (dual sport). I like the dolly that you have. According to the manufacturer's website though, my Harley would be too heavy. My KLR would work. That may be the best bike to take since I also love to go exploring dirt roads/off-road etc. The other option is to set up my pickup truck as my toad and have a lift installed in the bed to lift either bike into it.
In any case, I don't want to make this first email too long. One question I have is, how do people treat you as a single person traveling by RV? I think you have a lot of guts to travel like you do as a single female. I really admire that. As a guy, I really don't worry about my safety. I'm just thinking that I may get some of those looks or questions at the campgrounds :) On the other hand, maybe some of the "old ladies" (I'm 46) will take pity on me and invite me for a home-cooked meal once in a while!
Thanks for any info or advice you may have,
Here's my reply:
Thanks for checking out my blog and radio show. I'm happy you've found the info I've shared to be helpful. So, how did you find me out there on the big wide web?
I think you have a really good short term plan as far as doing your shake down close to home. There are many RV resources at your disposal there near Annapolis who can come to your rescue if need be...let's hope you never have to call in the cavalry! I suggest you become a member of Good Sam if you haven't already and definitely purchase their roadside assistance program. It's helped me out in a couple of tough pinches and been worth every penny I paid for it.
I take it you've invested in a diesel RV if your toad will be a pick up truck. That's an interesting idea for taking either bike along with you...be sure you're within your tow rating. I've seen many diesel pushers towing pick ups. I love my dolly, but the tongue is too short and I've managed to jack-knife it and ding the back of my coach. I've called the guy who built my dolly and suggested he design his product with a longer tongue so this won't be an issue.
I'd like to recommend a great place for RV parts and installation: http://www.northernvirginiarecreationalvehicles.com/ that's Restless Wheels in Manassas, VA. I've done quite a bit of business with them and always had stellar results. I do not recommend Reines just off of RT. 66. If you were to take a trip to Manassas in your rig for installation of towing devices or any other fun stuff, stay at Bull Run Regional Park which is only about a 10 minute drive from Restless Wheels. Bull Run is a fantastic place to go for a shake down! They have large rig spaces and the park is gorgeous. Be sure to say hi to park manager Jill for me if you should head that way.
As for your question...well, people always ask me if I'm solo and are pretty surprised when I say yes. So far, so good! I haven't as of yet had any problems as a single RVer. Of course like anything in life, you have to use common sense and go with your gut. If something looks like trouble, smells like trouble or even has a hint of trouble...it's trouble! The nice thing about having a house with wheels is that if I'm not comfortable somewhere, I can always pack up and roll on down the highway.
"Those looks or questions" are the best part of flying solo...so amusing! There are many single RVers out here on the road. I run into a lot of "us". Workamper.com is a good place to network with RVers single and coupled. Check out the links on my blog for other great resources. I've made a ton of RV friends and I make sure to get their email addresses so I can keep in touch with everyone. The chances of me running into most of the folks I've met (again) are slim as we're all over the place, but I've made enduring friendships and email keeps them going. I love writing to my friends and sending them pictures and I enjoy hearing about their adventures too!
I suggest you invest in a Verizon wireless air card. You'll be amazed at all the places where you can get a signal. IMHO Verizon truly has the best network. I also have a portable Wilson Trucker Cell Antenna and extra cable which I mount on my ladder and it boosts my signal. As a matter of fact, I'm able to email you right now because I'm using my wireless card and my booster antenna. You can get an antenna and cable at any truck stop. You'll need an adapter cord specifically for your particular model of wireless card (available from Verizon) which plugs into your laptop or desktop via USB. I don't like to rely on WiFi as it's very unreliable at most RV parks and the signal can be interrupted by wind, clouds, fog or any type of atmospheric condition. Also, as more people hop on to use the WiFi the bandwidth deteriorates and service slows to a crawl. With my wireless card I can get on the web whenever I want to and get reliable service at a decent load speed. For more info go to http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/index.html
In addition to email, I also use Skype for staying in touch with my friends. Skype to Skype computer calls and video chats are FREE! Yahoo Messenger also has voice and video chat with picture and file sharing capabilities and it too is FREE when chatting with another Yahoo Messenger buddy.
And as we all know…FREE is GOOD! ;-)
So, nope...I doubt you'll have any big problems. Just watch your cornering with your toad (use those mirrors) and be very aware of your surroundings at all times...go slow, don't ever be in a rush. Take this tried and true advice and you'll be one very happy camper as you head out and grab on to your very own custom made, make it up as you go along adventure. It's all a process and you'll learn something new every day...that's the fun of it! Not everyone is cut out for this RV life, but for those of us who embrace the lifestyle, we're the lucky ones. A day of RVing sure beats a day at the office...every time! (Unless your office is in your RV.)
Keep the rubber side down and the sunny side up...and blessings on your journey!
All my best,
Monday, November 10, 2008
(Toads = tow dolly containing car and motorcycle = 5,000 pounds towing.)
Here's the route:
I shot down 5 South to 18 East through Apple valley (lots of lights, but nice wide roads), continued East on 247 to Yucca valley (down to 2 lanes), then headed South on 62 through Morongo Valley and...voila! I'm in Palm Springs!
I arrived at 9:30 this morning.
Now the work begins. It's time to level the coach and set up the yard. I'll post pictures when I'm all settled in.
PS: YAY, I'M HERE!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Just wanted to give you an update from the road to let you know how my journey's going. Sunday is a great day to drive! There's been very little traffic. The weather was sunny all the way down to SoCal until I hit Central Valley south of Pasa Robles area...then it was clouds and rain until Bakersfield.
I've just pulled into Barstow. I left the river at 8 this morning and got to Barstow at 8 pm....12 hours on the road. I have just 2 more hours before I hit Palm Springs. I'm at a Flying J, and I plan to boon-dock here tonight and drive the rest of the way in the morning. Also, a hot shower and hot food sound like heaven...and they have both here.
So far it's been a good trip...I napped for an hour at a rest stop on the 5 and stopped at a cute little Mexican Restaurant in Tehachapi, CA for a bite to eat earlier. I've only had to cross over mountains once, otherwise it's been flat all the way.
Ahhh...it feels good to be horizontal on the couch. Thank heavens for lap tops!
Closing for now...
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I’ve been at Duncan’s Mills Camping Club since the end of August and it’s been absolutely terrific! The atmosphere is laid back, the members who camp here are very friendly, staff and management are wonderful, welcoming people. I’ve settled into my routine here at DMCC, keeping an eye on the gate, making sure our guests are happy and content, answering phones, taking reservations, the usual camp host stuff. It’s been fun and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself.
But now it’s time to move on.
Yes, I’m melancholy as I leave the pristine coastline of NorCal and the Russian River behind. I’ve made lifelong friends while staying here these past 6 months. I’ll have long lasting cherished memories that will bring a smile when I reminisce.
At the end of September, I took a trip down to Palm Springs to check out RV resorts. Yes, that Palm Springs, the picturesque oasis nestled between the glitz and glamour of L.A. and the Colorado River aka the Arizona State line. The Palm Springs where the rich and famous frolic in the arid, scenic California desert. As I drove east on I-10 approaching my exit, the first thing I noticed were the giant windmills, slowly rotating in the wind, row after row, feeding the hungry desert valley with electricity.
I spent 4 grueling days pounding the pavement hitting every RV resort in the area until I found 2 Springs Resort located in North Palm Springs, brand new still in its Phase 1 building stage. Complete with a huge pool, tennis courts, pickle ball courts and the ever important practice putting green, I feel as though I’ve hit the jackpot. I even have a view of the San Jacinto Mountains from my front yard. Not bad! I’ll only be about 10 min. from downtown Palm Springs and golf courses are a-plenty!
I’ll be spending my winter months basking in the warmth of the winter sun, golfing, motorcycling, hiking, exploring and enjoying all the wonders the California desert has to offer.
I’ll be back to NorCal…but until then I look forward to all the promise which awaits me as I step into my new adventure!
I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Well, I've moved from Casini Ranch. I gave notice and headed down the road about 3/4 mile right into the heart of "downtown" Duncans Mills which consists of an old time general store, a post office, a bakery, a restaurant, a few antique stores and shops and a small railroad depot and museum...maybe 15 buildings at most. This is the proverbial "one horse town" and I LOVE it here! It's so magical I didn't want to leave...so I looked around for a new place to park the coach and ended up as a work camper at a private membership resort on the Russian River. It was sad to leave Casini Ranch, but actually...I didn't! Because I'm so close by, they've asked me to stay on to continue as their webmaster and to keep up with the programming on their TV station. My hours have been cut back quite a bit, but at least I still have my position there. So now I'm working at two campgrounds in town...how about that?
I'm settling in at my new "home" the Duncans Mills Camping Club and it's very nice here. They have beautifully landscaped camp sites, which are quiet and secluded. The membership is just under 400 and the campground is usually at 10 - 15% capacity at any given time, except during holiday weekends, of course. My site is surrounded by grape and blackberry vines that form tall hedges. It's very beautiful here! They also have a very nice beach right on the river, a family lodge and an adult lodge, a huge jacuzzi / lap pool, shuffle board, basketball, volleyball, horseshoe pits, kayaks and a canoe, a playground and an adult fitness center. I feel as though I've hit the jackpot! This is certainly a great place to visit and stay!
There is so much to yet explore and do here at the Russian River...I haven't even scratched the tip of the iceburg. With 135 wineries, 114 farms that are open to the public, golf courses, hiking, biking, fantastic motorcycling, ballooning, horseback riding and water sports...I'll have to stay longer and come back next year!
If you're interested in finding out more about the Duncans Mills Camping Club, call my friend Chris to arrange a tour at 1-888-422-6736 and visit online at http://www.duncansmillscamp.com/ for more information.
Until next time!
Monday, August 11, 2008
3 more weeks...
...and summer is over! Well, if you're the kind of person who thinks summer ends after Labor Day. In the work-camping world, Labor Day Weekend is pretty much the end of summer. For me, this means no more noisy large crowds at the campground. It also means it's time for me to be looking for a new spot to park my coach, a new front yard. So...alas, the search has begun. I've enjoyed my time here at Casini Ranch, but layoffs are imminent as they'll be cutting their payroll. The axe will fall the Tuesday after Labor Day.
I've fallen completely in LOVE with this part of the country. I've made great friends and shared really wonderful moments with them. We've spent time hiking the picturesque and rugged Pacific coastline and coastal mountain range, had many inebriated moments (that I can barely remember, thank God for Mudslides!) poolside at the resort, eaten the best Mexican food (I've ever tasted) at the picnic table in front of the Guerneville taco truck, danced, and danced, and danced some more, laughed, been a little naughty (yay!), consumed many bottles of lip smacking delicious Sonoma and Napa wine, been witness to some of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen God paint...and let me just say this:
I DO NOT WANT THIS TO END!
So, I'm boycotting the end of summer.
I refuse to let my Summer of 2008 come to an abrupt halt, just because some idiot (somewhere) got the notion that summer ends the day after Labor Day.
NO!!!! Emphatically NO! NO! NO!!!!...summer doesn't officially end until the Autumn Solstice, so I will continue to enjoy all that this little slice of heaven called "Russian River" has to offer. I will soak up every available moment of bliss and revel in it with uncontrollable delight.
Anyway, when summer does finally tuck itself into bed for much needed rest, it's only the beginning of...
...and I like Autumn. She's often been very kind to me and I have no doubt she has many pleasant surprises in store, though I am glad I brought warm clothes. It's gets chilly here!
Warm fires among the California redwoods and snifters of port wine with dear friends await. Suddenly I feel the sweet lightness of being as I look forward to embracing these moments to come.
The Summer Knows
The summer smiles
The summer knows
She sheds her clothes
The summer smoothes
The restless sky
She warms the sand
On which you lie
The summer knows
The summer's wise
She sees the doubts
Within your eyes
And so she takes
Her Summer time
Tells the moon to wait
And the sun to linger
Twist the world
Round her summer finger
Lets you see
The wonder of it all
And if you've learned
Your lesson well
There's little more
For her to tell
One last caress
It's time to dress
And if you've learned
Your lesson well
There's little more
For her to tell
One last caress
It's time to dress
-- A. Bergman
Until next time!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. It seems now that I’ve had time to be in one place for a while (a little over 2 months) I’ve had time to settle into a routine…work, work, work! I’ve been keeping really busy at the campground, also working on consulting projects, and deejaying in my spare time. I haven’t done much exploration lately.
I did find a beautiful place to hike, “Armstrong Woods” which is a gorgeous preserve of old growth redwoods…actually they are ancient trees. There’s another place I hope to get to soon called “Salt Point” which is out on the coast and to the north of here about a half an hour up PCH-1.
I endured my first earthquake a couple of weeks ago. It happened at 2:00 am on a Thursday night/Friday morning. The wind here is fierce, so when the coach started rocking, I though it was a huge wind gust. I found out the next morning that it was a 5.0 quake. Well, now I know the best place for me to be when an earthquake hits…in my coach which is on shocks and suspension! I’m parked in a wide open field, so there are no trees to fall on my “house on wheels”. Thank Heavens!
However, there have been hundreds of fires burning in NorCal for over a week now. Even though the fires are about 2 hours north of here and an hour south and east, the wind was blowing the smoke this way. Now that the wind direction has changed it's much better. The sun finally came out. It's so good to see sunshine and blue skies again! I admit the sunsets have been brilliant, big orange balls that sink into a murky sea. Quite unusual!
It seems most of the fires are now under control, just in time for July 4th, but honestly, I think the locals here need to think twice about selling fireworks…which are sure to be a 100% fire hazard over the upcoming holiday weekend. Everything here is DRY! If a spark catches, holy smokes…everything will go up in smoke, LITERALLY!
I’m enjoying my time here at Casini Ranch Campground. The ranch is very, very rustic. Lots of cows, sometimes horses, lots of geese and ducks. Working here has been quite interesting. Management did a big house cleaning recently and let 5 work campers go. Never a dull moment.
They got rid of the chickens too because they walked in and helped themselves…picked bags of candy right off the hooks…they kept stealing candy from the general store and eating it on the front porch of the store! Too funny!
I do most of my shopping at our general store (which is located right behind my coach) and sometimes I shop at the Safeway which is 15 miles inland. The closest Whole Foods is about 35 miles away. I live in the country! It’s much easier on the gas tank to shop here at the ranch.
The weather in this part of the country is also very interesting. They have micro climates here. I live 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean where it can be very foggy (the coastal layer), damp and windy...just 4 miles inland where I'm located, the fog lifts and the sun comes out around noon. Driving farther east (inland) about 15 minutes from here, the temperature shoots up 10 - 15 degrees, and about 20 miles inland the temps go up another 10 - 15 degrees. Finally, once you get inland into the valley about an hour or so inland, the thermometer gets into the high 90s to low 100s. So the temps go from humid moist high 40s to mid 50s at the coast to the dry arid desert 100s in the valley on the other side of the mountains...it's amazing!
I'm in Sonoma County which is famous for it's world renowned wine…and grapes are planted on practically every available square inch of land. The plants are gorgeous. There are also tons of orchards...everything you can imagine. Back east we plant corn, corn, corn. Here it’s grapes, grapes, grapes.
It's a wonderful, picturesque, magical and very spiritual place to be. I’m glad I’ve taken the time to stay in this spot for a while. It’s starting to grow on me. Hopefully, the temps here along the coast will warm up soon so I can peel off the sweat shirt. I’m not accustomed to the weather being so chilly this far into the summer. It’s weird to me! I just can’t get used to it. One thing I don’t miss is the muggy humidity of the east coast.
But I do miss my friends...very much!
Until next time!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
It's been an entire month since I've blogged.
Well, I've been super busy...sorry I haven't written lately. I have so much to share with you, but for now, this will be an update to let you know where I am and what I'm up to. I'll write more about my adventures later.
I've taken a position 5 miles from the California coast and 30 miles west of Santa Rosa in the tiny little town of Duncan's Mills, population 85, elevation 35 ft. I'm camped on the Russian River. It's very rustic here, just my style. I found this job on a lark actually, just by happenstance. Originally, I was supposed to take a position in Gualala about an hour north of here on the coast. It didn't work out...nothing bad happened, it just wasn't meant to be. So, I retreated to Santa Rosa for a week where I planted my butt in the parking lot of the fairgrounds, sent out my resume and got busy looking for a host position. I called campgrounds around the Santa Rosa area and heard there were openings at a place near the coast. I called and yep, they had openings as several hosts canceled due to high fuel prices, a blessing for me!
I drove out to chat with the manager and because they had no cell signal, I left without doing an interview. It was a Friday night and they were slammed! I didn't want to waste his time, so I headed back inland. He emailed me that evening and asked me to come back out the next day as the cell tower was to be turned on "any day now". So I gave it a second chance, took the position and so far, so good! I work 24 hours per week, all hours paid and I get a FHU site with CATV and WiFi. Also, this is a real working ranch, complete with cows, horses, ducks and geese. I really get a kick out of the geese, that's for sure! They've become accustomed to having me around (those crazy ganders) as I enjoy feeding them almost daily. They come running and cackling when I break out the feed. I'm the "corn lady", lol!
I'll admit, I am glad to finally be in a non-moving mode for a change. I've been a gypsy for a while now and I'm road weary. It's been an incredible trek coming from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific...a magical and majestic journey, but I'd like nothing more than to settle in for a time and do no more driving. So far, I've been working on marketing stuff, graphic design, helping the campground place ads for staffing, editing their website, doing television production for their cable channel and I've landed a part time job in Guerneville, the summer capital of the Russian River, a San Fran favorite. It's good to be here. I'm trying to get out and make new friends and so far everyone has been very nice!
I'm really enjoying NorCal. I'm camped smack in the middle of wine country. It is absolutely gorgeous here! Wine is cheap...like $3.99 for a mouth watering bottle of excellent wine. It's all so delicious and abundant. Back East we have rows and rows of corn in the field. Here they have rows and rows of grape vines stretching on for miles, as far as the eyes can see. The weather is pleasant, although it's very chilly and windy at the coast. It's quite warm inland and everyone escapes the heat by heading to the river or west to the ocean. The coastline is jaw dropping, rugged, pristine, and so different from the Eastern Atlantic shore.
California is amazing! It has everything...desert, mountains, oceans, incredible rivers, volcanoes, geysers, snow...I've never been to a more diverse place.
Check out this slide show to see my recent Calli pics:
I'll admit, I'm a bit homesick as I miss my friends, but NorCal is being very kind to me. I'm working and making money, meeting and making new friends and having a really great time. I'm so happy!
I plan to stick around here until October and then head to Southern Calli (San Diego or maybe Palm Springs)...or maybe back to Tucson for the winter months. I'm not really sure yet...still too early to tell. Anyway, I'm leaving everything in the very knowledgeable and capable hands of God and the Universe...!!
It's nice not to be in charge of what happens and to let everything simply...unfold.
Until next time!
Friday, April 25, 2008
It's cold here in Williams this morning! I'm waiting for my coach to warm up and for the water in my hot water tank to actually become HOT! Seeing as how I have a few spare minutes on my hands before shoving off for Calli, here is a slide show of the train trip to the Grand Canyon.
Until Next time,
Grand Canyon Railway:
I travel first thing in the morning...bright and early, before the sun wakes up. I'm pushing off from Williams, AZ and heading for Calli.
I've decided to check out the Pacific Coast south of San Fran before heading to my gig in Gualala. I'm going to try to make it to Barstow tomorrow for the night, then onto Paso Robles for a couple of days to see the Hurst Castle. A friend of mine told me about a cool campground in Hollister where I can camp in the mouth of an extinct volcano right on the San Andreas fault line...sounds like fun, so I'm going to try to make it there by Sunday or Monday. Hopefully I can get a campsite at this exciting little spot. We'll see! I also want to hit Monterrey before sliding into the San Fran area and then on up to NorCal.
In the meantime, see below for more pics from my Grand Canyon adventure!
You probably won't hear from me for a few days as I have no clue when I'll have WiFi again..so in the meantime, live your dreams!
Until next time!
Pics of my trip to the Grand Canyon:
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I took the Grand Canyon Railway up to the rim of the Grand Canyon yesterday. On the way up I sat in the "bubble" coach...with a glass enclosed ceiling. Way cool! On the way back, I hung out on the rear platform of the very last car for two hours and shot video so I could put together this little movie and share my experience with you. If you want more info about the train ride to the Grand Canyon check out http://www.thetrain.com
Until Next time!
"The Train" video. Music is "Eple" by Royksopp:
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
If you’re new to the RV lifestyle, there are usually 3 tanks installed on most RVs: the fresh water tank (we'll discuss that topic in a different blog), the black water holding tank, and the gray water holding tank.
Today we’re going to tackle the sometimes messy, always gross, but very necessary dumping of gray and black water tanks. I know…yuk. I’m reminded of the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams…well, although sensationalized, his ordeal wasn’t really too far off the mark. In this case, crappy things can happen to nice people. Let’s not leave anything to chance. This blog will be your step by step guide to dumping your tanks efficiently and with minimal effort.
To accomplish this task successfully, you’ll need the following:
· A box of rubber or vinyl gloves
· A garden hose at least 25 ft. in length
· An RV sewer drain hose, usually comes in 10 ft. sections and you’ll need a clear sewer pipe adapter to twist the hose onto the drain valve coming out of the storage tanks and you’ll need a elbow fitting that you insert into the sewer hook-up in the ground.
· A “rinsing wand” – found at Wal*Mart or any RV store such as Camping World. This contraption is a long narrow PVC pipe that has an on/off valve and a threaded fitting for attaching the garden hose to one end…and at the other end there are tiny holes where the water jets out.
· Liquid sewer chemicals
· Paper towels
· Disinfectant cleaner such as Clorox Bleach Cleaner
Let’s chat about hold tank chemicals for just a moment: There are special chemicals you should use, especially in the black tank, to reduce odors and the buildup of solids in the tank, which could cause problems down the road. There are many brands and types on the market, from powder to liquid. Regardless of the type, it is usually recommended (or required by most campgrounds) not to use chemicals that contain formaldehyde, which is a chemical that is harmful to some septic systems. There’s a big debate going on about the use of formaldehyde in holding tank products…I use Thetford Campa-Chem Holding Tank Deodorant. I’ve used both non- formaldehyde and with formaldehyde and as far as I can tell they both work equally well.
Please note that use caution when using holding tank chemicals. They are used for breaking down waste…they can be hazardous if you don’t follow the directions.
Now that you’ve had your warning…generally speaking holding tank chemicals are very easy to use. Just follow the directions.
One more thing…toilet paper. I recommend you use one-ply Scott toilet paper…labeled “septic-safe” on the package. You can buy the special RV brand of toilet paper and use it, but it’s expensive and it doesn’t last very long. The Scott brand works just as well, for less money.
A couple of other pointers you should know: RVs come with “tank level indicators” so you can just press a button to find out how full your tanks are. These lights are usually mounted in the kitchen area, but are sometimes found in the bathroom.
However, if the sensors in your tank are covered with muck, the indicator lights can be deceiving…they will lie to you! That’s why it’s crucial to keep your tanks clean, especially if you’ll be RVing for more than 3 – 4 days. I can go up to 2 weeks before dumping my tanks. I’m a fanatic when it comes to clean tanks!
Keep your black and grey tanks closed and dump them when they are at least ¾ full or completely full…which is best.
Dumping a full tank provides a sufficient quantity of water to flush solids from the tank. Leaving the drain valves open allows the water to drain off without flushing out solid waste. That solid waste will collect in the tank(s) and cause problems over time. Trust me on this!
The #1 problem with the black holding tank is clogging! Do not put facial tissue, paper, sanitary napkins, ethylene glycol based products, automotive antifreeze or household toilet cleaners in the holding tanks. Do not put anything solid in any tank that could scratch or puncture the tank.
If the drain system does get clogged:
Use a hand-operated probe to loosen stubborn accumulations. Seriously clogged P-traps may require disassembly. Be careful not to over tighten when putting everything back together. Do not use harsh household drain cleaners. Do not use motorized drain augers.
It might even be best to call a pro when if you’re not feeling comfy about tacking a clog. It’s up to you!
DUMP TANKS IN ORDER FROM DIRTIEST TO CLEANEST! In other words, dump the black toilet water tank first, then dump the grey tank which is the shower, bathroom sink and kitchen sink tank. This way you’ll be flushing out the dirtiest water with cleaner water.
Never, never, never dump grey or black water on the ground….especially black water! Black water is raw sewage is a bio-hazard. I’m reminded of the time I was staying in a park and someone dumped their black tank water on the ground. When management “caught wind” of this…they called 911 because they are required to do so by law. Well, about 5 snappy minutes later a HAZMAT team arrived on the scene, all dressed up in their HAZMAT gear, they cordoned off the area and evacuated part of the park so they could clean up the “bio-spill”.
Now you see why you should NEVER dump your black water on the ground. In some places it’s against the law and sometimes result in a hefty fine and a possible stay in the local jail. Think about it for a moment…that is some vile, disgusting stuff coming out of that black tank.
Back in the old days, people would toss their sewage out of the window and onto the street…well, this is what you are doing when you dump black water on the ground. Also, don’t dump your grey water on the ground….that stuff is also gross. Don’t be a lazy “Terd”…please either dump at your site (if you have full hookup) or at a dump station!
Before we get started, look for the FHU (full hook up) at your campsite…both the water spigot and sewer hook up are usually located very close together. Remove the cap from the sewage drain (if it’s capped).
Here are your step by step instructions…let’s dump your tanks:
Step 1: put on your rubber or vinyl gloves
Step 2: find the compartment where the dump valves are located, open the compartment. You’ll see a 3 inch black “Y” pipe coming down out of the bowels of the RV with two T shaped pull handles…or if you have a really long 5th wheel, you’ll see two separate 3 inch black pipes sticking out from the bottom of your trailer…these should be connected to drain pipes and Y-ed at the sewer hook up…at any rate…(do not pull the T handles, not yet!)…you’ll see a termination cap fastened to the end of the 3 inch pipe.
Step 3: While the T handles are still CLOSED, unscrew the termination cap slowly from the end of the pipe.
Step 4: Attach the clear sewer pipe adapter to the end of the pipe.
Step 5: Attach the sewer hose to the end of the clear adapter.
Step 6: Insert the other end of the sewer hose with the elbow fitting into the sewer hook-up in the ground.
Pat yourself on the back…so far, so good!
Remember black first, gray last! This means, always dump your black tank first and save the gray tank for last. This way the grey water will flush the black water residuals down the hose and into the drain.
Step 7: slowly and carefully open the black water T handle. The liquid and waste will start to flow down and out.
Step 8: attach the “rinsing wand” to the garden hose. With the wand securely attached to the garden hose, insert the wand into your toilet…far enough down so the water will not blast out of the toilet and all over the bathroom or you. Make sure the on/off valve is set to “off”.
Step 9: slowly turn on the garden hose until flow is at 100%.
Step 10: slowly turn on the rinsing wand. Gently move the wand around to hit the walls of the holding tank and loosen material (toilet paper, solid waste, etc.) from the holding tank. Continue to do this for about 5 minutes, turn off the rinsing wand.
Step 11: turn off the water to the garden hose.
Step 12: disconnect the rinsing wand from the garden hose and insert the garden hose into your toilet…far enough down so the water will not blast out of the toilet and all over the bathroom or you.
Step 13: shut the lid to the toilet, so it closes over the hose, but does not restrict water flow.
Step 14: slowly turn on the garden hose until flow is at 100%. Check on your hose to make sure water is not flooding your bathroom. (By the way…it’s good to have a “helper” when doing this.)
Step 15: go outside and watch the water flow through the clear sewer pipe adapter. When the water flows clear and you no longer see waste debris washing through the adapter, turn off the water and close the black water T handle.
Congratulations! You have successfully drained your black water holding tank…now let’s do the gray water tank!
Step 1: slowly and carefully open the gray water T handle. The liquid and food waste will start to flow down and out.
Step 2: remove the garden hose from your toilet…drain excess water into the bowl.
Step 3: spray a paper towel with Clorox cleaner, wipe and clean the rinse wand…wipe and clean the garden hose…remove both from the bathroom. Stow the rinse wand, keep the hose handy…you’ll be using it again shortly!
Step 4: look at the clear sewer pipe adapter…when the grey water flow is at a trickle, close the grey water T handle. Let any water in the sewer hose finish draining.
Step 5: gently disconnect the clear sewer pipe adapter from the end of the 3 inch pipe.
Step 6: turn on the garden hose to a gentle flow of water…50% flow…and thoroughly rinse out the sewer pipe, the rinsing wand, and the garden hose.
Step 7: stow everything for next time.
Step 8: following the directions on the label, pour the suggested amount of blue holding tank chemical directly into your toilet and flush into the holding tank….run the water for a few minutes.
Voila! You are finished…remove your gloves, toss them in the garbage, wash up and have a great day!
You did good!
…and remember, practice, makes perfect!!
To find out more information about this subject just google “dump RV tanks” and you’ll see several links to online articles with photos, opinions and how to tips. Also, go to CampingWorld.com and click on the link “RV sanitation and sewer” where you’ll see many of the hoses and fittings we’ve discussed during the show.
And of course, everything we’ve discussed here in this blog can be downloaded via podcast so you can take your ipod with you and follow my step by step instructions. Just go to MyRVLifeRadio.com and click on the “podcast” link.
Until next time!
Friday, April 4, 2008
I uploaded podcasts to iTunes today, but they won't be available for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, when I get a spare moment I plan to experiment with putting podcasts on my website. It's a bit challenging...the directions don't make sense to me, confusing. It's kind of like programming the VCR...oops, I mean the DVD recorder!
I also recorded radio show number 3 last night...I talk about work camping and how to make money being a work camper. I know a lot of my friends are already doing this, but maybe someone will be inspired to give this RV life a try!
Can you tell I'm really enjoying my new radio show? Yep, I'm pretty psyched about it!
I think I'll take a break from the computer and head out to a really cool place called the Catwalk. Everyone keeps raving about it and I hear there's a great little place to stop for home-made pie on the way...sounds like it's gonna be a good trip!
Hope all is well in your neck of the woods!
Until next time,
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Just a reminder, I'd like to invite you to check out my new radio program on Blog Talk Radio. So far, I have three shows recorded and you can listen by visiting my host page located on the web at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/MyRVLife
I am totally enjoying my time in
But you’ll be fine…trust me! I made it up and back, so can you! Just take your time. Oh, and by the way…DO NOT drive your RV, 5th wheel or travel trailer up Hwy 15 if it is over 20 ft. in length. They do not allow vehicles over 20 ft. long to drive on that road…too narrow, too many tight switch backs. If you want to camp up there, take Hwy 35…which by the way is still twisty, but much more manageable. The same rule applies: If an RV crashes over the cliff in the forest and no one is there to hear it…just don’t even go there!
The views are spectacular! There are several places to pull over for photos, so take plenty of batteries and a memory card with lots of storage. I shot about 500 pics on the way up and about another 500 once I finally made it to the dwellings.
Oh, I forgot to mention…you should pack a lunch and take it with you. You can picnic along the way. I stopped at the Lower Scorpion Campground and had lunch under the trees. Afterward, I explored the cave dwellings and pictographs there to wet my appetite and prepare myself for the “big” dwellings at
I arrived in the parking lot where I found a small nature center containing artifacts and information about the people who inhabited the dwellings roughly 800 years ago. You may think the ancient cave dwellers may have been unsophisticated, but quite frankly, they were genius in many ways. For instance, they had a written language in the form of pictographs that survive to this very day….still found of the walls and faces of cliffs 800 years after they were written there. They had to survive in harsh conditions, so they developed tools and methods of survival to sustain them through good times and bad.
The trail to the dwellings is a 1 mile loop. It’s a half mile up and a half mile back. It’s a gradual climb until the very end…I had to sit down and rest. Be sure to take a bottle of water with you and a walking stick if you have one. Just carry a back pack…and stow your gear in it. It works out well!
The scenery is amazing! I felt a connection with this serene, spirit filled place and found it hard to leave…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Once you get to the top, you’ll be greeted by a very friend park ranger who will give you a little background and answer any questions you might have…and then, you ascend up the stairs into a completely distant work…far removed from the modern day world you and I inhabit. I met folks who had visited 20 and 50 years ago…long before major excavation had taken place. Most of the ruins have been rebuilt and much of the structures are new, but made to look and feel authentic. Never the less, the dwellings are magnificent and awe inspiring!
As you climb deeper into the womb of the dwellings you get a real sense of what it must have been like to live there 8 centuries ago as an inhabitant. It amazes me that people walked by foot from
In one dwelling I saw corn husks that were still there…after almost 800 years! In another dwelling I saw what looked to be the remains of an oven…there were doors and windows and many interesting things to look at.
As I said before…it was very difficult to leave this sacred, holy ground. I could almost feel the spirits of the Native Americans who lived there. As I finally turned to leave, I saw the wide expanse of the wings of a gorgeous Golden Eagle soaring just over head. Perhaps the spirits are still there…reminding us of a different time and a different place where there were no worries about ever escalating gas prices, getting the kids to soccer practice on time or the constant interruptions of our hectic "modern" life.
I sighed and walked back down the path and back into the year 2008.
Until next time!
Before I get going here, I'd like to invite you to check out my new radio program on Blog Talk Radio. So far, I have two shows recorded and you can listen by visiting my host page located on the web at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/MyRVLife
Today's topic…one that’s on the minds of many…the extremely high cost of gas and diesel fuel. The oil companies made a $123 billion dollar profit last year. That’s sickening. The oil execs are completely out of touch with reality…of course they are. While you and I struggle to get by, they drive whatever they please, live in big fancy homes and live the lavish lifestyle. You and I are paying for it.
Gas has cost more than a gallon of milk for a very long time. Now it costs more than a happy meal at McDonald’s. How much more do they thing we can take? And our government gives the oil companies…of all things…tax breaks! Don’t these guys realize that you can’t get blood from a stone? The greedy jerks are breaking the backbone of
Just yesterday hundreds of truckers across the
The only way to stop big oil from robbing from us “regular” people is to do what folks did in the 70’s. Stop buying gas! We need to take a vacation from the pump for about a week. Just fill up on Sunday and don’t go back to the gas station until the following Sunday. Don’t buy gas!
Little Jane can miss gymnastics and little Bobby can miss soccer practice. It might even be nice to have everyone home together for a change. But, we all have to get together on this or else things will only get worse.
People, it’s just basic economics…supply and demand. If the market will bear higher prices at the pump, the oil companies will charge them. If we take a stand and stop buying gas “en-masse” for just one week…guess what? The oil companies will get the message and prices will come down. We need to stop whining and just buck up. We need to “just say no!”
I’d like to read something to you from the website http://www.boston.com about the April Fool's Day 2008 trucker strike:
Using CB radios and trucking Web sites, some truckers called for a strike Tuesday to protest the high cost of diesel fuel, hoping the action might pressure President Bush to stabilize prices by using the nation's oil reserves.
"The gas prices are too high," said Lamont Newberne, a trucker from
On the Turnpike, southbound rigs "as far as the eye can see" staged a short lunchtime protest by moving about 20 mph near Newark, jamming traffic on one of the nation's most heavily traveled highways, authorities said.
"We can no longer haul their stuff for what they're paying," said David Santiago, 35, a trucker for the past 17 years.
Charles Rotenbarger, 49, a trucker from Columbus, Ohio, said he felt helpless.
"The oil company is the boss, what are we going to be able to do about it?" said Rotenbarger, who was at a truck stop at Baldwin, Fla., about 20 miles west of Jacksonville. "The whole world economy is going to be controlled by the oil companies. There's nothing we can do about it."
Jimmy Lowry, 51, of St. Petersburg, Fla., and others said it costs about $1 a mile to drive one of the big rigs, although some companies are offering as little as 87 cents a mile. Diesel cost $4.03 a gallon at the truck stop.
The threat of nationwide $4-a-gallon gasoline, perhaps this summer, and $100-a-barrel oil is producing strong political reverberations, even as lawmakers acknowledged there is little that Congress can do to bring prices down.
Now…this business about the oil refineries being affected by Katrina…remember when gas prices shot up right after the hurricane? Well, truth be told, that gas had been sitting in the refineries for months. The gas we were being charged more money for had absolutely nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina. The oil companies are just plain greedy! No one who actually works for a living…I’m talking about the middle class here folks and also let’s not forget those living on fixed incomes can possible benefit from higher prices at the pump.
So, let’s put things into perspective. Those big juicy steaks the oil company executives eat, the cars they drive, the gas they put into their vehicles tanks, everything they consume is delivered by….you got it…truckers! And now truckers can’t afford to deliver the goods.
But here’s the kicker: the rich guys can afford to have their consumables flown in, delivered, etc. They can afford to find a way around a shutdown. You and I my friend, cannot! We don’t have that luxury. We will have to pay more for everything…from toilet paper to potatoes! …and there could be shortages of necessities. Not good!
Now let’s talk about how that affects you and I, Mr. and Ms. RVer…it’s not pretty! We won’t be able to take long trips in our rigs. No more cross-country outings, long summer trips with the kids and/or grand kids. We will become more limited in our choices of where we can travel and where we can work camp or volunteer. Our overall quality of life will be affected and diminished. I don’t know about you, but it makes me angry to think I won’t be able to come and go as I please because I won’t be able to put gas in my tank. I won’t be able to drive my coach as much. I won’t be able to see things and do things I’ve always wanted to do.
As a full timer, I relish my freedom to roam and explore. I love the call of the open road. It saddens me to think that one day…in the not so distant future I may not be able to answer its call to adventure. As a citizen of our great nation, (yes despite all the muckity-muck on Capitol Hill, I’m still a red-white-and-blue, all American girl) I believe it is my right to pursue my American dream and enjoy my personal “pursuit of happiness”…which is living in my 32 ft. Winny, traveling all over hill and dale to experience the sights, sounds, smells, flavors, textures, all the wonderful delights that our country has to offer.
So, here’s what I’m asking you to do...think about what I’ve said here tonight. Call your congressman or congresswoman. Tell them to take away the tax breaks congress is giving the oil companies. Contact the RV lobbying groups who have friends in
We all need to be in this together…or we will find ourselves stranded on the one way street going in the wrong direction toward the point of no return.
…unless of course…we are already there!
In my next blog, I'll detail my adventure up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings just north of Silver City, NM. Incredible!
Until next time,
Monday, March 31, 2008
I didn't make it to Del Rio as I had intended as the coach needed a new spare tire. Of course, the only time I could get in to have this taken care of was on the Friday I was planning to head to Del Rio. I had the service performed at Potranco Automotive in San Antonio, TX. Please note, they did not honor their original quote claiming they couldn't get the tire they quoted. My spare tire ended up costing me $300.00! Quite a bit more than the original quote! I felt the sting of the old "bait and switch". What could I do? They knew I was leaving town and I didn't have much of a choice. That really sucked for me!
(Before going any farther, I want to thank my friends Dave and Larry who helped me load my car and motorcycle onto my tow dolly. The bike didn't quite make it up the ramp and thanks to these two wonderful guys a disaster was averted. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I couldn't have done it without you!)
I left San Antonio on Friday afternoon after finishing up with the tire replacement. I made it as far as Ft. Stockton, TX where I spent the night at a lovely little RV park right off of I-10 at Warnock Road, Ft. Stockton RV Park. I think the best thing about this former KOA campground is they have a full service cafe (Roadrunner Cafe) serving breakfast and dinner at great prices. Menu prices top out at $8.95. I had the catfish dinner and portions were generous. Their convenience store stocked all of the necessities including beer and wine! The park is quiet and it was easy to get in and out of my pull through space. All sites are gravel, not much shade, but well kept. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The only negatives I can comment on is placement of the the sewer hookup which is located far away (to the rear of the sites) from the electric/water hookups. You'll need an extra long hose to reach or you can do what I did...hit the dump station on your way out. Also, they claim to have free WiFi, but while I was there I could never get connected. There is no CATV. Amenities include: pool, playground, horseshoe pit, basketball court, outdoor BBQ pit/patio and laundry facility. Rates are reasonable. Using my Good Sam discount I paid $24.30 for one night.
The next stop on my journey west was in Deming, NM. A quaint little (tiny) town, where (as my good friends Dave and Audrey told me) all the action can be found at K-Mart and WalMart both of which are conveniently located right next door to each other. I stayed overnight at Little Vineyard RV Park located on Business I-10. This park was busy (in and outs) and a bit noisy, but nice. All sites here are loose gravel, not much shade, but I did manage to find a site with a tree affording me shade in late afternoon. The laundry facilities are nice and clean and inexpensive, only $1.00 per load to wash and dry. They advertise free WiFi, but I was only able to connect one time. It didn't work 99% of the time. CATV worked perfectly! Rates are reasonable. Using my Good Sam discount I paid $22.25 for one night. Visit Little Vineyard (hit your back button to return to this page)
I made it into Silver City, NM on Sunday...hitting WalMart to do my grocery shopping before heading over to my current location at a really neat RV park, the Rose Valley RV Park (just one stop light away from Wally-Mart). Wow! This place is great! I was going to stay downtown, but I'm glad I ended up here. Situated about a mile outside Silver City, Rose Valley is off the highway so it's very quiet. The park is large: 44 quietly secluded acres and looks just like a rustic old-timey western cowboy town circa 1800's, but with modern amenities. This park is gorgeous...very new and well planned. There isn't much shade as most of the trees are young and not fully grown. When designing the park, it's evident the owners went out of their way to preserve the natural vegetation and beauty of the land. All pull through sites are long, wide and spacious, though all are not level...not surprising considering the park is located in the middle of the mountains. Back-in sites are a bit smaller yet are still quite spacious. Each campsite has a privacy barrier which is made from sheets of tin attached to large upright rough-hewn posts and logs which make for a nice front yard and wind break. WiFi here is also free and once connected, it works perfectly! There is no CATV. Amenities include: fitness room, laundry, and group facilities.
Rates here are a bit more expensive than other RV parks in the area, but in this case you get what you pay for! I plunked down $180.00 for a week's stay in a pull through site. Pull through sites are $180.00 per week regardless of length of stay. I was thinking of upgrading and staying for the month for $300.00, but when I checked with the front office, they only had two spaces available for the month of April at a rate of $400.00 per month. Apparently the $300.00 monthly rate applies to back-in sites with an electric meter...you pay for your electric usage separately. Back-in sites without a meter are a flat $400.00. I think I'll continue to move west when my week's stay is over as I'm not crazy about the two remaining sites. Let's hope I can fit all of my adventures in! Visit Rose Valley (hit your back button to return to this page)
Links to New Mexico pics (hit your back button to return to this page):
My front yard in New Mexico
New Mexico Visitor Center
New Mexico Visitor Center 2
The road to Silver City
New Mexico Mountains
In my next blog...City of Rocks, Gila Cliff Dwellings, The Catwalk and more!
Until next time!
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I'm leaving San Antonio for Del Rio the last week of March. A very dear friend of mine relocated to Del Rio to work at Laughlin AFB and through email, we reconnected. I'll explore Del Rio for a few days, maybe head down to Mexico and then push on to Silver City, NM. I hear that part of NM is amazing on motorcycle so I'll spend about a week, maybe more there. Then I'm headed to Tucson to bike and explore that area. I'll probably stick around there for a week and then blast off for CA. I have a friend in Los Angeles who just had a baby and she's invited me to visit. We'll see. I leave my life loose and enjoy being spontaneous. My summer gig is waiting in Northern CA, so I should really try to be up there by the end of April so I can get settled in.
I've been planning my trip from Arizona to NorCal and it looks like it'll be a challenge. Hopefully, with enough forethought it won't be quite as challenging as my trip to Texas.
One can only hope...and pray!
Until next time!
I have two mantras for you:
1. Do your homework, do your homework, do your homework!
2. Don't guess, don't guess, don't guess!
Here's what you need to know:
1. Do your math. Figure out what your rig is rated to travel fully loaded (GCWR) and how much it's rated to tow. You do this by looking at your weight ratings usually posted inside a cabinet door. My rig can tow up to 5,000 lbs and it says so on the sticker on the tow bar. Never tow more than the bar is rated for. If you do and you have an accident, guess what..(?)..your insurance will most likely not pay the losses!
You add the total weight of everything together! For instance, on my rig my GCWR is 21,000 lbs. When I'm towing my dolly, bike and car I cannot exceed 21,000 lbs total. My bike is 450 lbs, my car is 3,700 lbs, my dolly is 600 lbs, for a total of 4,700 lbs which is within the hitch rating. My coach can only weigh 16,300 lbs loaded with clothing, food, fuel, stuff in under storage, etc. (16,300 + 4700 = 21,000 total GCWR.)
To find out how much your rig weighs, take it to a certified scale at a truck stop and weigh it when it's full and then remove items you can do without so you can safely tow your dolly, bike and car within the tow rating.
Tow hitch ratings:
Class 1 style hitches have a 2000 lbs. gross towing weight and 200 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.
Class 2 style hitches have a 3500 lbs. gross towing weight and 350 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.
Class 3 style hitches have a 5000 lbs. gross towing weight and 500 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.
Class 4 style hitches have a 7500 lbs. gross towing weight and 1000 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.
Class 5 style hitches have a 10000 lbs. gross towing weight and 1200 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.
Info source: Hitches Online
2. Motorcycle lifts: Before installing a motorcycle lift to the chassis of your coach or trailer, call the manufacturer. Many will not honor the chassis warranty if you go welding a lift to it! Winnebago will not honor a chassis warranty on any chassis that has been "modified". Do your homework on this...call the manufacturer and ask! While you have them on the phone, ask them what they recommend when towing with their product.
3. Tow dollies: Why buy a tow dolly? Yes, they are a hassle. However, this is the best way to go if you want to take your bike and car with you when you travel.
All tow dollies are not created equal! There are many brands out there from which to choose, but not all are made sturdy enough to tow a car and a bike. Definitely shop around and compare quality, price, warranty and features.
I don't recommend a bolted together tow dolly for this particular application...too many screws to vibrate apart! Buy something that is welded together and built like a tank. You'll be towing two vehicles. Don't take any chances! I bought and recommend the Landgrebe TD 40 101 with Extended Tongue and Motorcycle Carrier (click the underlined text for link), hand made craftsmanship...expensive, but IMHO the best money can buy for the sake of quality and piece of mind.
4. Electric brakes or surge (hydraulic) brakes? I recommend electric brakes with an in cab brake controller. Surge brakes are illegal in some states. Also, when coming down a steep incline, you can heat up surge brakes to the point where they will literally melt. Electric brakes offer electronic and manual control. Do not use electric brakes on boat trailers for obvious reasons (h2o and electricity don't mix).
5. Do you need a license tag (hard plate) for your dolly? In some states you do and in some you don't. I'm a FL resident. FL does not require you to tag your dolly. Contact your state DMV to find out for sure.
6. Insurance: I recommend you call your insurance carrier to check on coverage for your dolly. ALWAYS lock your dolly when not in use and store it in a safe place. Dollies can be easily stolen!
Have fun with your toys and keep the rubber side down!