The RV full timing Adventure – 2014
We officially became full time RVer’s on July 10, 2014 when we closed on the sticks & bricks. But on July 21, 2014 is when we pulled up levelers, and pulled out of the state of NY, where my husband was born, raised and worked and I lived most of my life. Our journey now begins.
August 24, 2014
We left Kansas in sweltering heat and headed to Oklahoma, towards more sweltering heat. Dagny did her best, we were able to keep her about 20 degrees less than it was outside. Several campgrounds we stayed at were treeless. The winds were too strong to put the awnings out, so it was a challenge to stay comfortable, but we did it. We basically got to the bottom of Kansas, and did an overnight stay at the Oasis RV Park in South Haven, KS ( http://www.kansasrvparks.org/rvpark.php?page=camp/oasis_rv_park ). We pulled in, and quickly realized we were the only ones there, except for a few non-occupied RV’s and the ‘camp host’ RV. I went into the office, which was open, lights on but no one was there. We weren’t sure what to do, so we just picked a site and set up. I said to Ruski, I feel like we are in a Steven King novel. We finally met the Camp Host and owner, Chet, who was very nice and we ended up talking for almost two hours. Was it windy! The next stop was to do a small piece of Old Route 66. We stayed at Oak Glen Mobile Home & RV Park ( http://www.oakglenrv.com ) in Chandler, OK. We were able to get there early, set up and then take the Jeep out onto the route. We found a couple of the old gas stations that you see and read about.
There was this Phillips 66 station that was under renovation, it was ran by the owner from 1928 to 1978.
That was about it. We must have not been on the most scenic stretch of Rt 66, that may be out west. The towns and villages looked a lot like downtown Chandler – we are not used to seeing pull in parking like this.
So I had to have some ribs in Oklahoma, so we did a rare treat and had dinner at Dan’s BBQ Pit. They were delicious.
We left the next day, and my trip planning did not go the way I wanted it to as we only went about 1 1/2 hours away to our next campground. I really did not mind it so much, but we were quite bored. Anyway, we stayed at the Catfish Round-Up & RV Park ( http://www.travelok.com/listings/view.profile/id.1144 ) in Prague, Oklahoma. This was a restaurant and good little RV park that was perfect for a lay over. Again in no shade and it was 102 degrees out (I am not complaining!). Now, people from our area always ask: is it humid? The answer is ‘no’, it is very dry but it is very, very hot! We treated ourselves for dinner again that night, for you know what – catfish. No, we did not eat this huge albino one, there was a very large aquarium with very large catfish in it. I really was not sure how I felt about that. Onward to the bottom of OK state to Ardmore, where we stayed at Hidden Lake RV Park ( http://www.hiddenlakerv.com ). It was another overnighter, in a open wide site in windy, 100 degree weather. Oklahoma was nice to drive through, I enjoyed seeing the drills, the farms and the ranches with the western arches over the ends of the driveways; some with names, some not. Yesterday, when we crossed over into Texas, it was really, really exciting. We made it to our work camp destination – finally. It just felt like we had been travelling forever! We are in Paradise Isle RV Park ( http://www.lakeforkrvparks.com ) which is a ‘long term’ RV park. Lake Fork in Alba, Texas is actually a reservoir for Dallas. They have not been able to drain this lake for their drinking water because the machinery failed. I am glad. I can’t wait to paddle this lake and it’s already about 2-3 feet low due to the very hot and drought conditions, so I want the lake to be full! These lily pads are HUGE.
We can not say enough about the truly awesome Texas hospitality. We were greeted by the CG maintenance manager and he helped Ruski meander thru the park and back in to our site. More pictures and description of the park later. Then the owner came down to greet us. Both are very nice. It looks like Ruski will be the work camper – I will find a job. But working for the cost of your site? Priceless in my opinion. We will see how it goes. We are in shade, the wind is not here and it was 102 yesterday and we can put out the awnings. We are very grateful to be here.
August 17, 2014
We left South Dakota on the 12th and arrived at Pine Grove RV Park & Campground in Greenwood, Nebraska ( www.pinegrovepark.com ). This was another nice campground with level sites so we did not have to unhitch. They also had their own little restaurant, which we decided to partake in a pizza and beer. The owners are a military family, Marines and Army, and had great décor honoring the Military. The cornfields, thousands of miles of them, are well over my head.The drive to Kansas was not bad at all, except in Omaha, where you continue on Rt 80 and it was a bit confusing. I think we have our ‘system’ down with my following Ruski and all the work going into trip planning has so far paid off with good routes and good campgrounds. We arrived in Junction City, Kansas by way of mostly Rt 77. Now this was a lovely drive in my opinion. I just loved the rolling farmlands and not a suburb or big city in site. I felt completely at home. We arrived at Owl’s Nest Campground( www.owlsnestcampground.com ) on the 13th to stay and visit with Ruski’s Army son and his wife. This campground, I knew, was not picked for its views but for the practicality of being close by to where Josh lives. I tried to get into Milford Lake State Park, but it was full. I am really looking forward to getting to a site with no road or highway noise! So, we got a tour of Fort Riley and that was very interesting. This park and monument was built to honor the 1st Infantry Division in downtown Junction City.
Josh and his wife, Hanna, have military housing on base, in the oldest section. It is not horrible, they have not liked it. Josh says they are planning on tearing it down and building new apartments. I hope that happens, our Military deserves the best. Josh will be honorably discharged in September and we are very proud of him.
I have found that when I do our trip planning, I have been doing it soon after arrival at a destination so I don’t have to think about it again for the remainder of a stay. Our next plan is to head down to Texas. We decided we would take some time to drive a small section of Route 66 between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. We should arrive in Texas to our work camping job by the 23rd. I am surprisingly looking forward to not travelling. So far, we have been traveling to take care of business stuff, coming to Junction City and then planning on a relaxing, meandering travel to Texas is to see the sights and avoid the big highways going through big cities – finally! But I am ready to be planted for a while. When I get planted, I will have to figure out why I want to be planted and see how long it takes to want to travel again. I think part of it is we are not working, and seeing funds go out with nothing coming in is a bit weird – even though we budgeted and planned on it – the sense of it is just strange. I have landed a interview at a psych facility to do admissions in Greenville, Texas, close to where we will be work camping. It is a PRN (as needed, fill in for vacations and such) position. We shall see, it has been a few years since I have done psych nursing, I actually am looking forward to doing that again and we can use the added income. So the weather is calling for some 100 degree or more days when we leave on Tuesday - that is going to be new experience!
August 9, 2014
We are officially South Dakotan’s now. We went to Madison to get our mail and complete our vehicle and voter registrations and get tags from the Lake County Treasurer. We then had to go to Mitchell, SD to get our driver’s licenses. It was all very different how it is done here. Once we left Mitchell I think there was another landmark accomplished and it just felt great to get it all done. I also got the vehicle insurances done. You are allowed to renew your license online in 5 years, but need to be physically present the 5 years after that – so we technically do not need to return to SD for 10 years! There is no inspections, so when hubby scrapped off all the stuff on our windshields from NY state, it was even more liberating. After what seemed to be days of driving and travelling, we finally got some kayaking in today.
There is a state park near Salem, Lake Vermillion, where we chanced the wind and irritable weather to get some paddling in. I really wanted to ‘stretch out’ so to speak. Here Ruski is quietly approaching a very, very large heron or crane? Not sure but it was very tall.The lake looked calm here, but the wind started picking up and we paddled back in a strong head wind and then I really got the work out I was seeking.
This turtle on the rock was wondering where the sun was! Since we arrived it has been warm but raining off and on. This was a great day to get out and enjoy some of what our new home state has to offer.
August 6, 2014
Well, we made it through Route 80 in south Chicago without too much bad traffic. Of course, we forgot there would be a time change while we were traveling from eastern standard to central standard time, so it was like changing the clocks two times a year; the animals were ‘off’, we were ‘off’. So I can’t tell how long it took us to get to Davenport, IA, but it was way longer than the trip planner I used (Good Sam’s). I have used a bunch of different trip planners and NONE of them give accurate travel time frames. It isn’t the time it takes for bathroom breaks for the Zoo or for the humans, but if I tack on 1-3 hours then maybe the travel time gets more accurate. So much for trying to limit our drive times to 3-4 hours. Anyway, the first campground we overnighted in was Interstate RV Park in Davenport. They do not have their own website. It was a nice pull thru spot.
I was quite pensive about the drive to get here, and the next morning, it was all gone. I think I am transitioning gradually, like going through a tunnel and not quite out the other side yet. We are on a mission to get to SD to get our domicile done, and maybe this new full timing feeling will all be different once residency is done. So, we had a well deserved and rested sleep here. Our next stop was about 5-6 hours away, in Onawa, Iowa. The campground was On-Ur-Wa RV Park ( http://www.onurwarvpark.com/ ). They had level, pull thru spots so we did not have to unhitch just for an overnight stay. As it turned out, the owners of this park are from Watertown, NY, about our age and they became owners of this park after we stayed in it 4 or so years ago when we went to Yellowstone. Two great things about this park: they had a fenced in pet park for Tasha and Corky to roam about unleashed and second, Iowa makes their own wine! They even make it from their own grapes. This “Marquette” is their version of a dry Cab Sauv-
and is it dry! I love dry wine and this one challenged me for sure. It was sold right in this RV park office. Coming from a really blue law state of Indiana, state stores in PA and only alcohol sold in liquor stores in NY – this was a real treat to have this so accessible! Anyway, it was a lovely park and we hope to stay on our travels here again.
Today, we arrived in South Dakota. Again, that sense of being on a journey, more relaxed, calmer feeling but not quite ‘through it’. We are calling SD ‘home’ – even if we don’t stay very long. Despite our windy, rainy trip today, SD looked beautiful. We arrived at none other, and very appropriately named, Camp America Campground in Salem, SD ( http://www.campsalemsd.com/ ). We will be here for the next 6 nights – ahh, no driving for a while and a nice rest. This CG also has wonderful pull thru, level spots. We put together all the paperwork and ID’s we need to go to Madison tomorrow. I am very excited about getting it all done.
This is a picture of postcards, yes, postcards – the nice ladies in the office gave me the top one for free and is a aerial picture of the campground, the second I purchased for a quarter. The ladies were a bit rattled from dealing with a nasty camper before us and they had a bad time with tent campers last night for the first time ever. We had a nice chat, I like to think it restored their faith in the fact that most RVer’s are not nasty and disrespectful and I made them a promise that Ruski and I will become good SD residents. They kindly welcomed us.
August 1, 2014
Well, what a week. So we arrive at the Mor/ryde facility, and stay Monday night in their parking lot. Not too bad, 50 amp electric was available. I was nervous about hubby walking the dogs, but he managed. We had to be up and ready by 0700 Tuesday morning. It was confirmed in the morning that once the rig was in the garage, the slides had to stay in and it was not recommended that the dogs stay in the rig, but the cats would be okay. So, we left the kitties in the rig. Then they had hubby back the rig into their garage, o-m-g. Well, he was guided very carefully by the staff and he did very well – a huge sigh of relief when that was done. It was unusually cool out, so the dogs hung out in the truck: Tasha tethered in the front seat, Corky in the back. They had frequent walks and visits by the staff – everyone loved them. One of the staff took us on a tour of their facility, and then we saw our beloved Dagny. Her wheels removed! Her axels removed! And who knows what else that only the guys understood! THIS is what we were going to sleep in tonight? The poor kitties are in there! I was assured that everything is “okay”. Well, it was quite the challenge to have the dogs get out of
the rig – hubby had to lift each dog in and out to get the stairs right. When we went in for the night, the kitties were just fine. Everyone ate, we had terrible 3G service- I made sure to suggest to place another WiFi in the garage. So, I was advised we had to get up at 0430 because the guys wanted to get to work at around 0600. Okay, well, the sooner they get done, the better. I was psyched to get up and be able to get out of there on Wednesday. Hubby added a pin box install, but that was not going to delay getting out of there. So, another nice cool day, I hung out in the office lounge. We met another couple who had been full timing for 12 years and talked a lot to them. So the afternoon rolls around, and hubby said “do you want the good news or the bad news first?”. Why does that question make my stomach twist a bit? The good news? They were done! The bad news? Well, apparently, the staff discovered they were “off” on the axle replacements by about 1 1/2 inches. Those who know me, would know the expression on my face at this statement, and also know what I said to it, which I can not write here without having the NSA throw me in Gitmo. The bottom line: we had to stay in the garage one more night. And so we did, but we had the routine down a bit. We had a scare inside the rig when it ‘moved’ a bit – hubby went out and put the remaining levelers down. Right. We did wake up- again – at 0430- still level in the rig- and let the guys fix what they needed to. These guys were very professional, they felt awful for what happened. They had integrity, honesty, accountability and did the right thing. So we did get out of there by Thursday morning. Headed back to the Elkhart Campground again and are staying until Monday, when we will head out for South Dakota. While we were at the Mor/ryde, we went to the International Flag Store and I finally found my flag pole.
It was an appropriate symbolic thing to do to fly that American flag – freedom from the garage! Although I would not recommend this experience for others with a Zoo, the quality of the work has my hubby happy, the rig hauls better and is more stable. This is our house after all, and it needs to last us for a very long time – heck if that couple we met has been full timing for 12 years, we will be as far as we can tell for at least that long. It is worth getting quality safety stuff on your RV home in our humble opinion. Oh, and a Mor/ryde t-shirt.
Today, we went to get groceries, but not before going to the RV Museum – it was only about 15 minutes away. It will probably be the only museum I will want to go to, it was very interesting. They have overnight parking for RV’s – but you are not allowed to put out your slides – that is not very helpful for over nighters.
Anyway, I planned out our trip and made reservations at our stop overs for going to South Dakota. It seems now the journey is going to begin – but then again – we’ve already started it! Hopefully, it won’t be in a garage again for a very, very, very long time to come.
July 26, 2014
It has almost been one week since we left Hickories, and it feels like it has been so much longer. Ofcourse, Ruski & I had to look up what day of the week it is today. The trip from Lake Milton to Elkhart was planned on being a little longer than 3-4 hours, but it was 5 to 6 hours and that was way too long. We are still hammering out a really good system to navigation. My hubby uses the GPS for 18 wheelers and I have the printed out trip in my hand.We communicate by radio. I have to admit, I really dislike this arrangement. I do not mind driving, I mind not being with Ruski. For now, and with the Zoo, and not knowing if I will need the Jeep to get to work assignments, this will have to be the arrangement. So we had our first miscommunication getting to Elkhart, which I will call ‘the radio silence’ afterward. I had declared the exit number to get off and for whatever reason, it was missed (I was following the RV, it seems to work better?). Anyway, we ended up going on Route 33 north leading to Elkhart. After apologies, ‘the radio silence’ ceased and we enjoyed really driving this route. It was rolling hills of farms and cornfields, which is apparently in a very large Amish community. Then we knew we were heading in the right direction when a lot of RV’s went by us, more and more as we got closer to Elkhart. We got separated once, and so the plan emerged from this that I can always put in a GPS route for myself and get to where we are going. So we finally arrived at Elkhart Campground ( http://www.elkhartcampground.com/ ) and Ruski immediately recognized it as a campground we stayed overnight at when we came out West on our Yellowstone trip. So we have full hook ups, a level spot and all is good- just not the most scenic. My brain fog lifted from driving that long by the next morning. So Monday, we go get the Mor/ryde suspension and breaks. Apparently we boon dock camp at the installation place. They start work on Tuesday morning. We can leave the cats in the rig while they work on it. I do not think Carly, pictured here, will be especially pleased with this arrangement.
She is the noisiest when crated in the back of my Jeep. Jakey just goes to sleep, he has picked up on the traveling thing very well. Carly at least will be in the RV and not in her crate. I worry too much about them, they tend to be more adaptable than I at times. So while the rig is being worked on, we have to find something to do – with two dogs. So, we are thinking of finding a park and hang out if the weather permits. Then, we return to the rig, in the garage, and sleep in the rig, in the garage. We apparently will at least have 50 amp electrical service. We are given a pin number to the door of the garage that Ruski will be going in and out of to walk the dogs. Okay, I admit it, I had major anxiety attacks about this yesterday; we took a drive to where we are going to see the place. I am better today.
I can take some lessons from Corky and Tasha to chill out. The good Lord will not give us anything that we can not handle and I have to FROG it and drink wine. All will be okay. This is the one and only business thing we have to do and be in this predicament. Then it’s onward to South Dakota. I do love the adventure – just not the one leading into a garage.
July 22, 2014
So it must have taken us 3 hours to pack up and finally leave Hickories Park in Owego, NY. We were there just over a month and wow, I can not believe how much we had to pack. So with the dogs in the pick up, the cats in the Jeep with me, we head out. We had to pull over at the first rest stop because our radios were not working. That was a must because I had printed out directions from the Good Sam Trip Planner and hubby had the GPS for trucks. Well we finally got going and then it got close to our first destination, and hubby’s GPS bounced signal all over the mountains and took us on a highway way out of the way. Finally getting to our destination, running on fumes. We set up, got the animals situated and then went on another adventure just to find gas. Oh, brother. Well, the GPS is fired and my print out directions are the final word from here on out! The very first place we stopped was at Nittany Greyhound kennels in Port Matilda, PA ( http://www.nittanygreys.org ) This is who we adapted Corky from, and wanted to meet his foster crew and get his paperwork. Toni and her wonderful family put us up on her front yard to mooch-camp. We had some neighbors that entertained our kitties.
These folks do wonderfulrescue and have a beautiful farm. We are so appreciative of their hospitality. I knew Corky wanted to come with us when he smiled and ran to us when he was in a dog run. Poor Tasha thought she was going to be left behind; both loved getting into the truck to go this a.m. The kitties do not like the travel, I don’t think any do. So we try to go 3-4 hours at a time. We pulled into Green Acres Lake Park Resort in Lake Milton, OH ( www.GreenAcresLakePark.com )today, for a two night stay with electric and water. We used the Passport America benefit for the first time and it did pay for itself – 1/2 price for both nights! It is a sweltering 95 degrees. From here we go to Elkhart, Indiana for suspension and brake upgrades. We are thrilled to begin our journey throughout America.