RV Rally in Sevierville TN – Wrap-up

It’s been over a week since we returned home from our first RV Rally, and we’re so glad we invested the time and money in the experience. We met a lot of great like-minded people who both inspired us toward our full-timing dream and also challenged our assumptions about what the full-timing life is all about.

Kudos to Howard and Linda Payne for putting together an event that was fun, educational, well-organized and inspirational. These guys know their stuff, and they are also hella fun to listen to as they recount their adventures and mishaps on the road.

One of the highlights of the week was on Saturday afternoon when many of the attendees graciously opened up their rigs (their homes) for tours. Andy and I concentrated on the fifth wheels since that will likely be our next purchase once we graduate from Lizzy, our 22′ Class C. If you’ve never been inside a fifth wheel RV, you should make it a point to check them out whether you’re planning to buy one or not. These units are amazing, with all the comforts of home but the flexibility to live just about anywhere you choose (as long as you have a big enough truck to pull it around). I’ll have to admit, I experienced a fair share of “rig envy” while touring these beautiful homes, but I’m doing my best to suppress it!

We did have one free afternoon during the rally, so Andy and I took the car and drove from Sevierville, through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, to Cherokee, NC.

Took a drive through the beautiful Smoky Mountains today. Fall colors are just starting to appear.

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It was a beautiful day for a drive, and the leaves were just starting to develop their fall colors. We stopped several times to get out of the car and enjoy the scenery.

Great Smoky Mountains on a beautiful fall day.

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When I was growing up, my family took several vacations in this area. I remember vividly staying at the Redskin Motel in Cherokee, and happily spending all my allowance money at the tourist-trap souvenir shops along Cherokee’s main drag. We couldn’t afford a family vacation in Gatlinburg, so Cherokee was a great alternative base camp. The little town has, of course, changed so much over the years, and now has an impressive area developed by the Native American Cherokee people that includes a park, museum, and other infrastructure that was all new to me. I would love to go back and spend more time in the area and become more educated about the history of the people who were there originally.

This is as high as we got today!

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The rally officially ended on Sunday morning with a send-off breakfast, but we skipped that meal since we weren’t convinced that their sad attempts at vegan options would be better than what we could prepare for ourselves–plus we needed to get on the road for the long trip home. We pulled out of Sevierville just after 9am, and got home around 4pm as I recall. We spent an hour cleaning out the RV and getting her back in her storage lot, and then it was time to rest up to return to work the next morning.

Our main take-away from our first RV rally was simple–we are more convinced than ever that this is what we want to do. We are financially ready for this. We are capable of handling challenges intelligently and calmly. We are excited about seeing new places and experiencing different cultures that exist outside our comfort zone. We know there is a support system of like-minded, kind individuals who are happy to share their knowledge and experience with relative newbies like ourselves.

So we’re moving forward with the grand plan! Our first yard sale is taking place this weekend as we begin the process of divesting ourselves of almost all our worldly possessions in order to fit into that little RV named Lizzy.

Wish us luck!!

Our First RV Rally – Sevierville, TN

Greetings from the River Plantation RV Park in Sevierville, Tennessee, at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. Andy and I have been here since early Monday afternoon, attending the RV-Dreams Fall Educational Rally. So far it has been a wonderful experience, giving us the perfect opportunity to learn more about the fulltime RV lifestyle from those who are currently living it. It has also been a chance to learn more about our own RV by using it in ways we have not until this point.

We left Tupelo last Sunday afternoon just after 3PM, timing our departure so that we would arrive in Chattanooga, Tennessee just after sundown because we wanted to get our first boondocking experience under our belts. We parked the rig (and our Prius which I was driving as a chase vehicle) in the Walmart parking lot and settled in for the night. While it wasn’t the best night’s sleep I’ve ever gotten (we were near a train track), it was not bad at all. We ate our dinner in the rig, baking potatoes in the microwave while we ran the generator. The following morning we had overnight refrigerator oats that I prepared before we went to bed. We took our time and pulled out of Walmart just after 10am since we couldn’t check in at the RV park until noon.

Settled in at Camp Walmart.

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The River Plantation RV park is also a new experience, it’s our first private park (as opposed to the state parks we’ve been using). They provide full hookups, including electricity, water, sewer, and cable TV. They have two swimming pools and a hot tub, a lazy river, pickleball courts, a video game arcade, an onsite RV/Bus wash facility, and other amenities, including the conference center.

We’ve had a couple of issues with the hookups:

  • The breaker on the hookup pedestal has tripped three times so far. One of those times was when we were away from the campground, and when we returned the power was off to the RV. Wouldn’t be a huge issue except that the kitties were in here and without A/C it was starting to get a little stuffy.
  • The park advertises that they have free wi-fi, but it was not working all week until just this afternoon (hopefully it continues to work).
  • The sewer connection is on a PVC pipe that sticks up out of the ground. Our RV’s outlet is pretty low, so there’s not much downhill slant between our outlet and the sewer drain. We would prefer a lower-to-the-ground outlet.

But overall, we are enjoying our stay here at River Plantation. We had our RV washed yesterday (they charge $2/foot, so it was $44 for our rig).

We’ve met so many interesting, helpful people, many of whom are just like us, in the early stages of getting their rigs and their lives ready for fulltiming.

Interestingly, we are the only ones at this conference who are in a Class C rig. Everyone else is in a Class A, a fifth wheel or a travel trailer. That just makes us feel special, not weird.

The cats have done well on this trip, with the exception of one little scare. When we were getting ready to move the rig to the RV wash facility yesterday, Andy opened the drivers side door and Molly fell out of the RV. She had been hiding on the floor between the door and the drivers seat, sensing that we were about to start moving. As soon as she hit the ground, she ran up under the RV and would not come out. I had to belly-crawl on the gravel, under the RV, to get hold of her so I could pass her out to Andy, who put her back in the RV. She immediately hid under the laundry bag on the bed and stayed there the entire time the RV was being washed (I stayed inside with the kitties while Andy stayed outside watching them complete the wash). But as soon as we got back to our campsite and settle back in, she was fine.

#Molly says it’s bedtime. #forliz #rvcats

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Tonight we’re having a potluck at the rally, so I’m cooking spaghetti (vegan, of course). We have two more days of seminars and rig tours, and then we’ll head home on Sunday, driving straight through to Tupelo.

We’re having a blast this week!

Tombigbee State Park – Timelapse on the Lake

I shot this footage three months ago on our first camping trip to Tombigbee State Park. It was my very first attempt at a timelapse with the GoPro Hero5 Black, and I was just winging it–had no idea what settings I should use. I wasn’t going to publish it at all, but since I spent two hours of my life on it (not to mention the mosquitoes taking two pints of my blood in the process), I’ve decided to release it from the hard drive.

One thing I’m really looking forward to when we go full-time is to be able to really concentrate on my photography and videography again. It’s been awhile since I’ve spent a lot of time behind the camera, but I’m just itching to get back into it. I have the gear and software that I need (well, the major part of it anyway), and now I just need the time and the subject matter to shoot.

This clip is only 1:24 long. Enjoy!

Wall Doxey – Return of the Ants

We made our second trip to Wall Doxey State Park over the Labor Day weekend, and despite an “antsy” start, we enjoyed the weekend immensely.

We left home after I finished work on Friday afternoon, pulling out from home just after 5PM, and arriving at our campsite a little after 6PM. This time we were in site #36, which has a perfectly level concrete pad and lots of great shade.

We got set up pretty quickly, and then I cooked some pasta for dinner. The sauce was from a jar but I added sauteed onion, garlic and mushrooms, as well as some vegan Gardein meatless meatballs. Andy had made a big chopped salad for the weekend, which we topped with our favorite gourmet vinegars, and we also opened a bottle of wine. Great dinner!

However, it didn’t take long after we got there for the ants to find us! When we were at Wall Doxey two weeks earlier, we had a problem with ants getting in the cat food that we normally just leave on the floor for the girls to nibble on, so we knew we couldn’t leave the cat food out. But this time the ants found the chocolate chip cookies that we were storing in the overhead compartment. The cookies were in a clamshell package from the bakery, and the little buggers had no problem at all finding their way into the package. They were also trying to get into the Tupperware container that held the dry cat food, but fortunately they had not succeeded when we sighted them.

We wound up putting the cat food in the refrigerator, but the cookies were a lost cause as far as I was concerned. But my hubby, who can’t stand to watch a TV show where someone is drawing blood or throwing up, decided that a few ants would just add some protein to his cookies. He spent a good half hour going over each individual cookie, brushing off the ants he could see (they kept burrowing and hiding under the chocolate chunks), and then he put the cookies in zip-lock bags and put them in the refrigerator. And he’s still eating those cookies, even though an occasional ant still scurries across the surface.

Even after we hid everything that we thought the ants might be after, I was still seeing a line of them in the overhead storage area, as well as some others scattered around the RV (around the sink, near the dinette, in the shower). So I finally grabbed a can of Off! and sprayed the overhead. Dumb move….with the vent fans blowing, the bug spray quickly spread throughout the RV, and only then did I think about the cats breathing in that stuff (as well as myself since it blew back in my face).

Long story short, the ants pretty much disappeared and the cats survived, although one of them threw up a little bit right before bedtime. I felt terrible about possibly harming them with the spray, and won’t make that mistake again. Before our next trip, Andy is going to bomb or spray the RV thoroughly to get rid of any critters that might still be in there. We’ll also carry some ant baits with us in the future.

Otherwise, it was a very relaxing weekend. The weather was perfect, considering it is still late summer–the remnants of Hurricane Harvey had passed through here the day before we left and there had been a lot of rain, but the rest of the weekend was mostly sunny with lower temperatures and humidity.

We did a hike on Sunday morning around the lake after having our “traditional” Sunday-morning-in-the-RV breakfast of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls. We cooked a foil-packet meal of onions, peppers, garlic, potatoes and Tofurkey kielbasa. We had our first campfire of the season on Saturday night, although the wood that Andy gathered was pretty damp from the Harvey rain so it didn’t burn very well.

One of my favorite parts of each camping trip is getting up early in the morning while Andy is still asleep and then going for a walk while it’s still peaceful and quiet outside. The temperatures each morning were in the low 60’s, and I enjoyed some peaceful walks around the campground and down to the lake.

We broke camp around noon on Monday (Labor  Day), and after a stop at the dump station we headed home. We let the cats ride free both coming and going on this trip, without being confined to their crates. I drove on the return trip, and Maggie eventually settled on the back of the dinette where she could look over my shoulder out the windshield. Molly, however, decided it was safer to stay under the seat, which was fine until we got home, and she refused to come out. It took me a good 15-20 minutes to finally drag her out without hurting her or pulling any of the under-seat wiring loose. While we don’t mind the kitties hiding under the seats while we’re in camp, we’re going to have to come up with a solution to keep them out of there while we’re in motion–another project for Andy before our next trip.

Since we’re planning to become full-timers, we try to learn or experience something new on each trip that will help us in the future. In addition to the above, some other new things this time were:

  • Tested and used the outside shower (just for rinsing dishes, not washing our bodies!)
  • Concluded after five trips that the coffee percolator is not a good fit for the RV life, even though it makes great coffee.  It’s just too messy to clean up all those coffee grounds. We have already purchased a small five-cup drip maker that uses a paper filter basket–much easier clean-up.
  • This was our first trip when we didn’t have to run the A/C 24/7. We were able to use just the fans quite a bit, which was nice but it also meant managing humidity levels differently in the RV.
  • The pasta meal was something new–and we learned that cooking pasta, sauteing veggies, simmering sauce, draining pasta and cleaning up splatters is quite challenging in a very tiny RV kitchen. The foil packet meals on the grill are much easier, but we wanted to practice options for when we can’t cook outdoors.
  • We took ice cream with us this time, and confirmed that the freezer works VERY well. That ice cream was rock-hard even with the freezer set on medium.

Last of all, we have a bit of a mystery going on. The RV has two bubble level indicators on the back to help when setting up. On our last trip we found that one of the indicators had lost the liquid from the little glass tube.  On this trip we found that the second indicator had also lost its liquid. No idea what’s happening to them, but we need to get those replaced.

Now we have just under three weeks to get ready for our next adventure, which will be a 381-mile trip to Sevierville, TN for our first RV rally! Stay tuned!!

New Video – RV Camping at Wall Doxey

I finally got my video published from our last camping trip to Wall Doxey. I’m just starting to learn how to use the GoPro, and how to edit videos into a coherent story, so I’m not totally satisfied with the quality of this one. I wound up buying a new laptop that has enough processing power to handle video editing (my older laptop just crashed every time I tried to edit). I’m using Corel VideoStudio Pro X10 as my editing software–not enough time to learn to use the Adobe product right now.

Anyway, if you have 20 minutes to spare, here’s a look at our last adventure. Enjoy and share!

More RV Maintenance, Outing #4

Since our last posting, we’ve sunk some more money into Lizzy to get her in prime shape for traveling.

First, we took her to a local tire store that specializes in truck tires. Andy was having some problems reading the tire pressure on one of the valve stems, and we wanted to have all the tires inspected, even though they have less that 12,000 miles on them. Turns out two of the tires had some dry rot and weren’t exactly safe, so we replaced those. All the other tires appeared to be fine, and we got the valve stem problem taken care of.

Secondly, the air conditioning in the cab wasn’t working properly since the day we picked her up from the seller (it worked fine during the test drive). The cold air would blow through the windshield defrost vents as well as the floor vents, but would not blow through the main dash vents. Andy took Lizzy over to the local Ford dealership, and for only $51, they solved the problem–squirrels or mice had chewed through some of the connections behind the dash. Easy fix, and not nearly as expensive as we were expecting.

So after that, we were excited to head out on our fourth outing. This time we went further from home, about an hour away, to Wall Doxey State Park near Holly Springs, Mississippi. This is an older state park, built by the CCC back in the day, and it’s really beautiful. The campground has just over 50 RV sites, and they’re mostly wooded, with lots of space between most of them. They have paved surfaces, most are very level, and they provide electricity and water (no sewer at the individual sites but there is a dump station).

There’s a beautiful lake in the park with a hiking trail that goes all the way around, and there are several pavilions and lots of picnic tables for day use.

We arrived there on a Thursday afternoon, so it wasn’t crowded at all. In fact, even over the weekend it never was more than about one-quarter occupied, which I find amazing considering the beauty of the park. The sites are $18/night, unless you get the senior discount like we do, then it’s $14/night. An absolute bargain.

We got some rain on the first night, but after that it was a beautiful weekend, although it was very humid and pretty warm. I did the hike by myself on Friday afternoon, but couldn’t talk Andy into going with me because of the heat.

Being in an RV sure beats camping in a tent when it's raining like this! #rvlife #snugasabug

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The cats did very well on this trip. For the first time, we did not take the car with us, so I got to ride shotgun in the RV on the way over, while the cats stayed in their crates on the floor just behind our seats. On the way home, I actually drove the RV for the first time since we did the test drive.

We decided to let the cats stay out of their crates on the return trip–but it didn’t turn out exactly as planned. When we stopped at the dump station on the way out, I realized that the bathroom door was standing open, so I asked Andy to close it before he got out of the RV to dump the tanks. Later as we continued the drive home, Maggie tried to get in my lap a time or two while I was driving, so Andy was occupied trying to keep her corralled. We heard Molly in the background, but couldn’t spot her. When we got home, we found her–she had been locked in the bathroom for the whole hour-long drive home. We felt terrible, but she was actually probably better off in there without being exposed to the passing 18-wheelers going by the windows–that would have freaked her out a lot more!

Right now we’re planning to return to Wall Doxey on Friday afternoon for the Labor Day weekend, but we’re watching the weather closely to see how much rain we might be expecting from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey, assuming he ever moves out of the Houston area. We can deal with a little rain, but don’t really want to expose ourselves to possible tornadoes and flash flooding if that kind of situation develops.

Finally, I just bought myself a new laptop to use for video editing. The laptop that I’m currently using just doesn’t have the graphics or processing hardware to handle the demands of video editing software, and I want to be able to share our adventures on my YouTube channel. The new laptop is supposed to be delivered today, and I’m hoping to get a new video posted by the end of the week, before we take off on our next adventure.

 

RV Trip #3 – Continuing to Learn

We just wrapped up our third outing since buying our RV, a 23′ Class C Thor Chateau 23E. We returned to Tombigbee State Park for a quick, two-night getaway, only 15 minutes from our house. And like the two previous trips, we gained experience and made modifications that will help us be more comfortable and confident when we finally embark on our full-time RV adventure.

First, we finally got around to trying out the TV. We had used it on our first trip to play some DVDs, but we had never used it for watching regular television. The previous owner lived in the Nashville area, so all the TV channels had been programmed accordingly, and we couldn’t pick up anything around here.

On Saturday I finally got around to running the setup menu and scanned for local channels, and we actually got about nine or ten digital channels here in the area. We got the local NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and CW affiliates, along with a few other random things. While scrolling through the channels, we caught a short clip of an African American lady preacher who gave some great advice–“This is the day that the Lord has made. Don’t mess it up.”

Since it was raining on the second night, it was kind of nice to have some entertainment in the RV, although we typically don’t watch much television. But it’s definitely nice to know that we will have a source of information in case of severe weather.

This being the South, it was hot and humid over the weekend. We finally remembered to bring batteries so we were able to get our weather station setup. We used it mostly to monitor the humidity inside the RV. It was very high, especially in the morning. For instance, on Sunday at 7:29 AM, the inside temperature was 70.8°  (with A/C running) and the humidity was fluctuating between 84% and 94%.  The outside conditions were 73.4° and 98% humidity at the time. It did feel damp inside the RV, but I’m not sure what more we can do besides possibly purchasing and running a dehumidifier. Something to think about.

On this trip we added a new dish to our camping repertoire–veggie kabobs. I found a great recipe for oil-free balsamic marinade, which I prepared and added to the cut-up veggies before we left home. Andy cooked them on the grill and they were scrumptious! That was on Friday night. On Sunday, we cancelled out that healthy meal with our new tradition, Sunday morning cinnamon rolls. Oh, well!!

 

Right now we’re pretty sure that we’re going to actually start our full-time RV life in Lizzy, rather than trading up to a larger unit. A couple of weeks ago we looked at some fifth wheels, and of course we fell in love with one. But when we looked at the numbers, we decided that it made sense financially to stick with what we’ve got for the first few years, even though the living space will be tight. Our primary goal is to travel and see as much as we can see, and there are many places where a larger rig just cannot go. We decided it will be worth some inconvenience of living in the smaller RV in order to be able to get into some of those smaller boondocking spots, primarily in the forests of the western U.S.

So on this trip we started concentrating on how we might organize and store things as full-timers. It will be tight, but we’re confident that we can make it work.

This weekend was the second time that the two kitties, Maggie and Molly, have gone camping with us. On their first excursion a month ago, Molly would not come out of her crate until we went to bed on the first night. This time, she came right out as soon as I opened her door. They have both adjusted very well to RV life. I brought along some toys for them and spent some time playing with them to give them some exercise. But we know we need to consider how living in a confined space might impact them when we go full-time. We’re looking into halters and leashes so that we would have the option to take them outside. Since they were both de-clawed as kittens, we are not comfortable just letting them roam around a campsite. They have always been strictly indoor kitties. Still something we have to work on.

 

I know it sounds like we should have already figured out some of this stuff. But since we aren’t able to keep Lizzy at our house (we keep her in a storage facility several miles away), we don’t have ready access to spend much time in her between camping trips. It’s just easier to wait until we get to a full-hookup site and then just move in for a few days and see what happens.

Lizzy Gets Her Mojo Back

If you remember from my last post, Lizzy was having some electrical issues with the 12-volt system. We did a lot of research and located the breaker that was tripping and reset it. We thought we had the problem solved.

But when Andy went to check on her a day later, the breaker had tripped again, so we knew it was time to give up and call in the experts. So we took her to our local Camper City and left her for some good old-fashioned TLC. We asked them to do what we should have done before we bought her, and that was to perform a thorough check of all the electrical and plumbing systems and fix any issues they might find.

Turns out the two house batteries were both bad. The technician at Camper City told us that when the RV is in storage it should only be plugged in to shore power about 24 hours every 3-4 weeks, just to top off the batteries, and that the rest of the time she should be in “store” mode. This is exactly opposite of what the previous owner told us–he kept the RV plugged in all the time. According to the technician, that’s probably what ruined the batteries.

So now we have two new house batteries and everything seems to be working fine.

New house batteries

We’re taking her out again this weekend for a short two-night stay at nearby Tombigbee State Park. It will be hot and humid, but we want to continue getting acquainted with Lizzy and RV life, since one day in the not-too-distant future, she’s going to be our home on wheels. We’ll have shore power so we can run the air conditioner, and we’ll be parked in the shade with a fan for breeze. I think there’s rain in the forecast, so we’ll see how it goes.

Leaky Window | No Battery Power

Anyone with an RV will tell you that there are always things that need fixing or maintaining–after all, you’re driving around with your house on wheels, rocking and rolling through potholes and bad weather. And as RV newbies, we know just enough about our Thor Chateau Class C to be dangerous.

The first issue we encountered was a leaky window. When we went on our last camping trip, I climbed up into the overhead compartment to retrieve the privacy curtain which was folded up and stored in a little nook under the overhead side window. I found the curtain to be wet, but couldn’t determine where the moisture was coming from. Nothing else was wet, so we decided that water must have dripped in through the window and landed on the folded curtain.

After the trip was over and we returned Lizzy to the storage lot, Andy did some testing. In the space where she’s parked, she leans just a little to the left. Andy was running the air conditioning, and as the condensation from the A/C unit pooled on the roof, it eventually ran over the side of the RV, right down onto the leaky window.

Andy called an RV service shop here in Tupelo to see if they could take a look at it, but they said it would be about a week, due to the holiday weekend. In the meantime, we turned to YouTube to get some ideas for temporary fixes–saw a lot of suggestions for duct tape. And that’s what we were about to use until we saw a video where an RV owner was showing how to clean the tracks and weep-holes on RV sliding windows.

Andy decided to check the tracks on our problem window, so he headed back to the storage lot with a shop vac, air compressor, cleaning supplies and tools. He got on a ladder and looked for the weep-holes on the problem window, but didn’t see any. He checked all the other windows–they all had weep-holes. So he went back to the problem window and looked more closely.

And there it was–someone had put dark adhesive tape over the weep-holes. It blended in so well with the frame of the window that it was almost invisible. He pulled the tape off, and immediately water drained out of the tracks. He tested it thoroughly, and it has stayed dry ever since.

Problem #1 – SOLVED!

The second issue has been more challenging. Our RV has a battery disconnect switch just inside the door that is labeled Store / Use. We were told by the previous owner to put the switch in Store mode when we were storing the RV, and to put it in Use mode when we were actually using her. He didn’t specify whether or not it made a difference if we had her plugged in to shore power while being stored, and we are such newbies that we didn’t make the connection.

So when we put her in storage, we plugged her in and put the the switch on Store.

BAD!

We didn’t notice anything particularly wrong except that the audio system/backup camera display wouldn’t work consistently. But on the last day of our last camping trip, we tried turning on the overhead lights after we had unplugged from shore power, and nothing worked. The battery monitor said the house batteries were fully charged, but we were getting nothing. Nada.

So when we got home we started researching, reading the pitiful excuse for an owners manual that Thor puts out, searching Google and YouTube, and posting in the online RV forums. Andy even called Thor’s support line, and the guy told him to crawl under the RV and look for a 50-amp breaker under the chassis, which would need to be removed and replaced. Andy did as he was told, but there was no such breaker there.

So I got back on the user forums this afternoon, and finally found a post from 2015 where someone with our same unit had the same problem. He stated that he found the reset switch–but to get to it you have to pull out the bottom kitchen drawer that is under the stovetop, and the breaker reset switch is bolted to the floor under/behind the drawer.

I showed the post to Andy who had just started cooking dinner. We dropped everything, got in the car, drove to the storage lot and started working on Lizzy. We finally figured out how to remove the drawer from the suspension tracks so that we could get into the space under the counter, and sure enough, there was the breaker and relay we were looking for. There was a tiny, tiny little black button on the side, and when Andy pushed it we heard a click. We unplugged the shore power, pushed the button again, tested the overhead lights and they finally worked!

The lights were significantly dimmer than they are with shore power, so we’re thinking the batteries may be drained, or may even need to be replaced. But now we know several things we didn’t know before:

  • If the RV is plugged in to shore power, the battery disconnect switch should be in “USE” mode, even if it’s technically in storage. It should only be in “STORE” mode if it’s unplugged.
  • We now know the location of the reset switch.
  • We now know that we actually have a bottom drawer under the stove–we had been told that was just a decorative panel on the cabinet face.
  • We now know how to remove the drawers from the suspension tracks.

This is exactly why we wanted to spend some time in a smaller “practice” RV before we pull the trigger to buy a larger unit and go full-time. We need these kinds of learning experiences to build our confidence and skill set so that we can take care of ourselves and our future home on wheels. Every time we’re able to troubleshoot and resolve a problem, we gather information and gain experience that will serve us well in the future!

Tombigbee State Park | Kitties Go Camping

It’s been a week and I’m just now getting around to reporting back on our camping experience at Tombigbee State Park on June 9-12, 2017 . It was awesome!

Tombigbee SP is located less than fifteen minutes from our house, and we chose that location because we were taking our two kitties, Maggie and Molly, along with us for their first ever camping experience. We wanted to be close to home in case there was a major freak-out in the RV and we needed to take them back to familiar surroundings. We needn’t have worried however; once we got to the location and let them out of their crates, Maggie made herself busy exploring her new environment inside the RV. She’s always been the more adventurous of the two. Molly, on the other hand, stayed inside her crate up in the overhead compartment until we went to bed, and then she came and got in bed with us. She was fine after that for the rest of the weekend.

Molly Ann – she liked the high space

Maggie Mae – The explorer

We parked our RV, Lizzy, in site #11, which turned out to be a perfect spot. It was very shady with lots of grassy space behind the RV. There was a nice picnic table along with a fire ring (which we did not use). The space was not quite level, but a few leveling blocks took care of that. The site had full hookups (30 amp electricity, water and sewer), and we paid $14/night using the senior discount available to those over 65 (hubby, not me!).  We were right across from the bathhouse, which was very nice and clean. In addition to toilets, it had free showers along with pay laundry machines. The sites in the campground were well-spaced, and the people camped there were all friendly and well-behaved.

There’s not a lot to do in the park as far as activities go. There’s a lake for fishing, and there are two disc golf courses that meander through the beautiful wooded hills. There’s a big playground for the kids, and several hiking trails. There are also cabins for rent, and they look decent. We were happy to spend our time reading, walking, shooting video with the GoPro, and cooking and eating some delicious food.

Sunset on the lake in Tombigbee State Park

Each morning I enjoyed taking a walk down the park road shortly after sunrise. It was quiet and peaceful with only the birds making noise. I saw a huge owl fly up into a tree not far from me–it turned and looked at me for a couple of seconds before flying on. So spectacular! I also came across this turtle that had just dug itself out of the rain-softened ground to get some morning sun.

Good morning, Mr. Turtle!

I saw beautiful flowers blooming, as well as wild blackberries on the side of the road.

Wild blackberries

Wildflowers in bloom

We stayed three nights in the park and enjoyed every minute of it. We did run the air conditioner the whole time we were there as the temperatures were in the mid-to-high 80’s. The humidity level on the first day was around 39%, but it got up into the 65-70% range on the last day. We brought along a large electric fan that we used when sitting outside under the awning in the afternoons and were very comfortable.

Our living room

We liked Tombigbee State Park so much that we have already reserved a space for July and August. It’s just so convenient to have such a beautiful park so close by as we continue to learn more about how the RV functions. It’s comforting to know that we’re close to home in case something goes haywire, at least for the next few trips. In fact, I had a dentist appointment scheduled for Monday morning, our last day there. So I just got up early, drove home to take a shower and put on my non-camping “face” and clothes, went to the dentist and got my teeth cleaned, and then drove back to camp!

We did have one little issue with a leaky window on this trip, and I’ll be filling you in on the details in my next blog post, so stay tuned for that!