In my last post, we were preparing to head out on our first RV weekend of the year after a cold, wet winter. And we’re so glad we took advantage of the temporary break in the weather because it’s been messy and wet ever since we got back, at least on the weekends.
We drove to Tombigbee State Park on Thursday afternoon, March 1 and stayed in campsite #12 for three nights. This site has full hookups (electric, water and sewer) and is located on the back side of the loop, just across from the bathhouse.
When we pulled the RV up on the leveling blocks, I noticed that the rear outside tire on the passenger side was low. This was concerning because we also found that the valve stem appeared to be bent to the side down inside the wheel itself, so there was no way to check the pressure with a gauge or to air it up.
When we put the RV up on the leveling blocks, we had only put the blocks under the outside tires on the rear, so we went back and put blocks under the inner tires as well. This appeared to help the low tire since it was no longer bearing all the weight by itself. But the whole time we were there, I was concerned about the low tire pressure (more on that later).
Other than that problem, the rest of the weekend was perfect. Technically I was still on the clock for work on Friday, but since I work from home most of the time, I was able to bring my laptop and Blackberry with me, using my AT&T hotspot for data connectivity, and therefore enjoy my Friday workday from the campsite. As far as my job duties go, there was no difference between what I did in the RV and what I would have done sitting at my desk in my home office.
Andy and I enjoyed a hike on Friday at lunchtime, but I couldn’t talk him into hiking with me on Saturday and Sunday, so I hiked alone. He said he was still sore from Friday! The weather was sunny and pleasant the entire time we were there with highs in the upper 60’s and low 70’s. We had campfires on two nights, and used both the charcoal grill and the Instant Pot for dinner preparation. Of course we had our usual Sunday morning cinnamon rolls from the convection oven–those are a MUST!
Our two cats, Maggie and Molly did very well on this trip. We crated them for the short drive to the park (less than 20 minutes), and once we arrived and let them out of the crates, they settled right in with no complaints. I think they actually enjoy RV life since they get to be with us so much more in the tight quarters than they do at home.
It did get down to the low 30’s at night. We had decided that since we were going to have shore power for this trip that we would use a small electric space heater rather than running the propane furnace. Why spend our own money when we’ve already paid for electricity, right? So I ordered the Sunpollo 1500W Ceramic Space Heater from Amazon, and it performed beautifully. We ran it on low during the night just to keep the chill off, and when I got up in the morning to make coffee I turned it on high to warm things up a bit more. We’re very pleased with this product so far!
I was so sad for the weekend to come to an end, but we have plenty to do to continue with our preparations for full-timing later this year.
But first of all, we had to resolve the issue with the low tire. Since this was a brand new tire that was just put on the RV last fall, Andy drove Lizzy back to the tire store where they were installed. The good news was that the valve stem is actually designed to bend, and it was no problem to straighten it out where we can access it for monitoring the pressure and airing up the tire. The not-so-good things we found out were (1) we still can’t reach the valve stems on the inside tires, and (2) our little air compressor was not powerful enough to fill up these big truck tires.
So, it’s back to Amazon. Andy did some online research and then ordered the Viair 40047 400P-RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit. It comes with a nice case and all the necessary attachments to run it from the rig battery (house or engine).
He was able to use the new compressor to get all our tires to the appropriate PSI, and now we don’t have to worry about being far away from a gas station when our tires need air. The old compressor will go into our next garage sale.
I’m still working on decluttering and downsizing, completing several projects over the last couple of weeks:
- I finished scanning and digitizing all of my/our paper photos, saving them to JPG files which I’ve uploaded to my Dropbox account. Andy still needs to go through his old photo albums and decide what he wants to do with them.
- Speaking of Dropbox, I went ahead and paid for a 1TB storage space since this will be our Cloud repository for documents and photos that we want to keep and have access to while on the road.
- I bought three Case Logic hardshell DVD binders to store most of our DVD collection. Each case holds 70 discs, so there’s room for 210. We had already picked out which DVDs we planned to keep, so I transferred each of them from their individual cases into the new binders. I also printed out labels for each of the slots in the binder, as well as a list of all the titles in each binder so we can easily see which DVDs are stored where.
It doesn’t look like we’ll have another chance to take Lizzy out before we do our two-week trip in April. Right now our plans are to spend two weeks meandering around southern Mississippi and Alabama, as well as northern Florida. However, we’re going to wait until the week before we leave to make any concrete plans, as we want to see what the weather looks like. If it seems like it will be too warm and muggy on the coast, we may possibly go north into Tennessee or even the Ozarks of Arkansas instead.
That pretty much brings you up to date with our RV life for the moment, at least the details that I can share publicly. When the time is right, we’ll talk a little more about our long-range plans, so stay tuned!
This has been a miserably cold and wet winter, but wonder of wonders–this weekend is supposed to be beautiful here in Northeast Mississippi! So we have booked a reservation at Tombigbee State Park for the upcoming weekend, just about 18 minutes from our house, and we’re going to spend some quality time with Lizzy!
On my lunch break today we went to the storage facility and removed the cover from Lizzy, exposing her to the sun for the first time since last fall. We found a couple of little things that weren’t perfect–there was a little bit of water on the bathroom floor below the overhead vent, and the vent fan over the bed had a tiny bit of water caught in its bug screen. Both vent covers were intact, so we’re thinking it was probably (hopefully) just condensation. We plugged Lizzy in to shore power so the refrigerator can start cooling down, and I left a dehumidifier running inside. It’s supposed to rain quite a bit over the next 48 hours, so we’ll check to make sure there are no leaks.
On the outside, we found that a section of the vinyl insert trim molding had come loose above the cab on the passenger side. We were able to re-insert it into its track to cover the screws, but it may not hold since it’s been stretched. We’ll need to keep an eye on it.
We’re still making upgrades and improvements to systems in the RV. For instance, the TV is located in the over-cab area, and we watch from our seats at the dinette. On our previous trips in the summertime, we found that it was really hard to hear the sound from the TV while the air conditioner is running right over our heads. To resolve the problem, I purchased a YanLitek Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the back of the TV and transmits the audio to our Hex 808 Bluetooth speaker. We can set the speaker on the dinette ledge right next to our heads while we watch TV or movies. Unfortunately there is a slight lag between the audio on the TV speaker and the audio transmission via Bluetooth to the Hex 808, so we can’t use both audio sources simultaneously, but just having the Hex speaker close to our ears at the dinette will make a huge difference.
Here’s a link to the product description on Amazon. It was $18 and change, and is well worth the small investment.
Since we’ll have shore power for this camping weekend, we’ve decided to use a small Sunpollo ceramic electric heater for nighttime warmth (supposed to be in the high 30’s at night). After all, why deplete our propane supplies when we’re already paying for electricity? We ordered this heater for our RV from Amazon for $38.
This past Sunday afternoon we took a drive over to the park to check out the available sites. We’ve had a lot of rain lately, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t reserve a site that had a lot of standing water, especially around the picnic table or fire pit. We decided on site #15 as our first choice, and site #12 as our backup. By the time I got around to making the reservation on Sunday evening, site #15 was already gone. Bummer! But it just tells me that there are a lot of other people who are itching to get outside once the sun comes out and the the temperatures rise a little!
Now it’s time to plan the menu for the weekend and get the packing list printed out. So excited!!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I saw beautiful flowers blooming, as well as wild blackberries on the side of the road.
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.
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!