Tag Archives: camping

Rainy Day blues

I have decided to change my format of my blogs. Keeping it simple. One photo, a tid-bit of information and a personal connection. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jim looking out of the back window of Betty Deux at Limon, Colorado KOA.

Willie Nelson sings that “If you don’t like this rainy weather you better pack your bags and move.”

The wind howls and screams past our little home, rocking her uncomfortably. Rain and hail pelt the windows as we wonder at the difficulty of packing up and leaving during a crazy prairie storm.

Limon KOA is located on the Colorado’s High Plains. A beautiful, clean and quiet park, 90 minutes from Denver and Colorado Springs along I-70. We stopped there on our way from Kansas. They provide a playground, bike rentals and swimming pool (seasonal). Many of these things were being worked on or were closed due to Covid-19. Pets are welcome. Sites are pull-Thru RV sites, a little close but easy access. The store has some RV supplies, groceries and gifts. Our most memorable moments? JackaLopes. We had Kaelin believing jackalopes were real. https://koa.com/campgrounds/limon/

This photo, taken at the beginning of our Summer 2020 adventures, represents how I feel right now. Sad to be no longer traveling in our little home. Sad to be back in the oppressive heat of Florida. Sad and watchful of how things are in our world today and scared of the upcoming storms.

Plan, Prep, (pray)

We have planned. We have prepped. We now pray. And this being spring and summer of 2020 we do a lot of praying. It’s inevitable. Something will happen, it’s going to and nothing you do stops it. When the Coronovirus hit we prayed majorally. We prayed, like everyone else, for it to be some big mistake. Then school was cancelled. Being teachers we went into panic mode – they were going to cancel our summer! The very thing we looked forward to the rest of the ten months of the year. When one state after another shut down, we prayed they wouldn’t cancel our reservations in Michigan. They did. We heard that campgrounds across the nation were closed and it didn’t look like an end was in sight. We prayed for an alternative. Our prayer was finally answered in the form of Riverview Campground in Loveland, Colorado. Being a private campground they were able to open sooner than the state and national parks. Hallelujah! We were on our way.

Then the praying was kind of superficial. You pray for what you might have forgotten to pack. It can’t be helped, you will forget something. Usually, we forget something important. Our classic was when we forgot to pack coffee and the coffee pot into the Chrylser, our sailboat. You don’t just run over to the local Wal-mart from a sailboat! Coffee is Important!! That has never been forgotten by either of us and serves as a reminder every year to check twice. This year we did very well, primarily because our planning and prepping paid off. We only forgot a drill and our new “We’ve Camped There” stick on map. Livable mistakes. Make a list people; can’t stress it enough.

You pray for good weather and safe roads. We really had both this year, so far. For the most part, we have managed to steer clear of any real major rain. We had lots of wind in Kansas and one crazy storm in Limon, Colorado. Even the other day, coming back from seeing the Pawnee National Grasslands Buttes (which are amazing) we managaed to skirt around a really bad storm system. We could see it off in the distance, always keeping to the right of us. It made for some impressive skies. I don’t know why Capt’n Jim didn’t want to constantly stop for me to take pictures.

Crazy wind and rain at the Limon, Colorado KOA. Almost as bad as Kansas wind.

You pray that your travels are uneventful. Well the laugh is on you. Something always happens. Last year it was our wheel bearings seizing up on Betty Deux. We had to leave her at a rest stop overnight and Jim had to take off work to fix her just enough to get her home. The whole ordeal was awful! New axles, bearings and tires later…

This trip was no different. “Oh darn, I don’t think we turned off the water pump.” “It will be alright until we get to our stop.” No, I don’t think so. Several hours later, we stopped to get gas and turning the corner Jim saw water pouring from the camper. Water pump no problem, until something bumps against the kitchen faucet and turns the water on into the covered sink. 40 gallons of water throughout the camper. We spent the next several days soaking up as much water as possible. At one point, Jim even had to suck water out of the heater vents. As far as we can tell we got it all. Pray? Praying no further damage shows up later down the road because we didn’t follow our checklist. Of course, now it’s a joke every time we pack up and leave. “Is the water pump off?”

40 Gallons of water all over Betty’s floor, under the slides, cabinets, bedroom carpeting and even down in the floor vents.

Yes, you pray. We pray that we are making a safe choice this year due to Covid. But we are taking our precautions. We wear the dreaded mask any time we are in public. We keep our distance. Hand sanitizer is our new go to after store trips and yes we follow the arrows! Well, most of the time.

We have seen many people, for example in Missouri, not follow guidelines and it’s very disconcerting. Colorado, however, has been great. Very few people don’t follow the mandated protocol. Very few. We are outdoors, in some of the freshest air we have smelled. (Well, maybe except for Greeley, Colorado. But, that’s for another story.) It’s beautiful here and so worth it. Yes, we pray for our health, but knowing that we have partaked of the great outdoors of the Rocky Mountains and it’s surrounding area, I think we are good.

The Immensity of it All! Rocky Mountain National Park

PLAN (PREP) PRAY

For once, Jim feels the truck and camper is completely ready. He worked tirelessly over the past several months making many alterations and upgrades. He’s excited about our new cell phone booster. Boy will be doing online classes again this year, so he will need the extra connectivity.

In addition to the booster,, he also installed shock absorbers for the axles to smooth the ride. In addition to the shock absorbers, he put two new tires on the trailer and new heavy duty axles. We had the horrible experience of the bearings burning and caused the axle to bend. This is not an experience worth repeating! So, of course, prior to this trip all wheel bearings were greased and lubed. On the lighter side he installed a poop hose holder, cleaned the ac and the vents, replaced the thermastat with digital.

We also did a complete bathroom upgrade. I noticed that we were having a lot of separation of the vinyl wallpaper. We have had that issue in the main living area from the time we bought it and then it showed up in the bathroom. I was concerned for moisture getting into the walls and causing mold. I removed the wallpaper (with a hairdryer) and applied 4 coats of really good paint. Jim installed a real (not plastic) water faucet and then he installed a stone backsplash (again, real, no press on stuff) behind the sink. This was done after he also raised the bathroom cabinet higher. He was tired of bumping his head everytime he brushed his teeth. New caulking, new shower curtain and a few pretty photos and voila, new bathroom.

Cooking prep has begun: hamburger for taco salads in a jar, hamburgers premade, rice cooked and frozen for cauliburgers. I make salads in a jar which gave us an easy healthy alternative for a couple of nights. They can be made ahead and kept for up to 5 days. I baked muffins and egg/sausage “muffins” for easy breakfasts. Freezer was packed.

Clothes were packed at least a week ahead. I told everyone to wear it twice if you have too! We did buy a few clothing items to have some fresh wear on the trip. I never had the chance to do that in my earlier years so I like to take advantage of summer buying and then again right before school.

All laundry is done! House is cleaned (no one wants to come home to a dirty house.) Dishes cleaned. Coffee pot emptied (believe me that is not cool to come home to!) Mail stopped. Lawn guy hired. This was a new one for us and hopefully it will be helpful to come home to a nice mowed yard and not a jungle. I’m sure the neighbors will appreciate it. Betty Deux (camper) gets washed and waxed. Bertha too. That’s our truck. You know because she has a big butt!

Then comes the last two days. That’s when it gets real. Gas tanks filled. Toiletries and meds in. Pillows and of course Boy’s blankies. Cameras, printers and computers go in. All those little things you couldn’t put in ahead of time. We also turn off the AC and the water heater in the house. I empty the fridge and we turn it off. My daughter laughs that she needs to keep some room in her fridge for my yearly purge! If you are going to be gone an extended time why pay for utilities that you aren’t going to be there to use. We do put a light on a timer. That helps for safety purposes and have someone check your house often or use securtiy cameras connected to your phone.

Prepping takes time and is best done over time. Don’t wait until the last minute. It will not be worth it. Use your list you created in the planning stages and check it multiple times. Have your partner check it too. We really followed the list well this year and it helped tremendously. I think when it came down to it we only forgot a couple of things. We forgot the drill for doing the levelers, but bought another one at Walmart. We also forgot my new sticker map. I was so sad about that, but I’ve been informed that we can just buy another one as it wasn’t that expensive. YAY! Can’t wait to start inserting all those places we have stayed on the new map. (Oh, and if you are wondering, we are from the “It’s where WE have stayed overnight” camp.)

Next step: Pray

Wanderlust

Wanderlust settles in me like a too tight favorite jacket.  I’m excited about wearing it, but it pinches all the same.  School wraps up this week and the countdown begins.  With that comes intense anxiety.   Can I get everything done in time?  What will I forget?  I’m adding to and amending my packing list constantly.  That, I think is finally almost publishable!

On the other hand, my mind plays previews of roads not even traveled yet.  Open highways, mountain views, and quaint towns. My excitement can hardly be contained.  Jim watches lots of YouTube videos and travels Google Earth in preparation for the trip.  I think this is his mental meditation.

We have a destination and a few weeks ago we weren’t even sure we would be going any where. Originally we were to go to Michigan, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic we had to change gears.  Now we are Colorado bound! 

In the past, travel took the form of short burst, several days to several weeks at a time.  This year we reserved a month at Riverview RV park in Loveland, Colorado where my daughter lives. We stayed 2 days there last year, so know pretty well what to expect. Of course even this causes that anxiety jacket to pinch again.

It’s the unknown that rubs at my nerves. It’s also the unknown that makes it exciting. I am reminded that the goal is not the destination, but the journey.

This is my first post in a long time. I find writing blog post time consuming and always seem to find excuses. Perhaps this year will be different. That being said, I would like to change the name of my blog site. 2bikes1boat served its purpose, but no more. I would like something that reflects our traveling ways, our sense of adventure and wonder. Ideas Welcome!

Singing Hills Campground Cave City 6-17-18

We used Passport America to find a campground near Mammoth Caves in Cave City, Ky.  Singing Hills Campground http://www.singinghillsrvpark.com/  was fairly nice campground very near the many touristy attractions in the area.  We were surprised at how many there were.  However, we were there for the caves!

Singing Hills is run by a very nice couple.  The wife, Beth Brown, we discovered was a retired teacher.  We ended up chatting with her for quite some time as we cooled off from our excursions.  She told me about a children’s book series, “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” perfect for my first graders and introduced herself as the author of her own book, “Parenting is Rocket Science.”  Listening to her stories about meeting Mr. Brown and raising their family were definitely uplifting.   https://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Is-Rocket-Science/dp/0929540093

The campground sites are clean, but too close for Captain Jim and my comfort and very little shade.  Shade was much needed as it was hot as Hades or the  according to Jim, “the 4th level of Dante’s inferno!”  We spent very little time outside; it just wasn’t possible.

We stayed 3 nights, but only because it was cheap (with the Passport America discount) and we would be going to the caves.  It would have been too much trouble to find another campground.

Kaelin was  happy with that decision because he could ride his bike and he even met a little boy he played with for short while.  He also enjoyed that Mrs. Beth allowed him to take a couple of books with him.  He’s now a fan of the “Warriors” book series.

I give Singing Hills a 3.5 rating.  They really need some shade and cutting the grass would have been helpful.  Also sites too close.  I hate to give it such a low rating as the Brown’s are lovely people.  Perhaps the cooler months?

Captain Jim would only give it a 3.  He was not happy with not being able to hang out in the great outdoors.  Of course, the heat was not the campground’s fault, but shade would have really helped that issue.

Little River Campground

Just outside of Ft. Payne, Alabama lies a quiet and most pleasing campground.  We found Little River Canyon Campground on the Passport America app.  We had driven quite a ways and was ready for a break.

The campground wasn’t hard to find and was fairly close to Ft. Payne, which made day trips to town easy.  Hardest part was some 6% grades downhill with some sharp curves.

We were fortunately met by the owner when we pulled up.  Normally it is pay by honor system, but she was there helping someone else.  Jim spoke to her telling her we wanted to use Passport America.  She made him a deal he couldn’t refuse.  We ended up getting a full week for $150 which broke down to approximately $21 a night (cheaper than Passport deal.)

We were so glad.  This campground could be the model for all campgrounds.  It was clean, had level sites, quiet and well maintained with beautiful landscaping all around.   Some of the sites even had tomato plants.  Others had daylillies, rock walls and lots of wildlife (frogs, lightening bugs). The sites were well spaced out and my favorite no blaring lights at night.  I didn’t have to Bat Cave it (towels pinned to the windows).  There was a pretty pond complete with ducks near the Back Forty.  It does look like they are expanding further and we wish them luck on their continued endeavors.

There were many activities nearby that we ventured on but one of the most important was…..laundry!  Being a camper can mean wearing outfits a few times in a row and Yuck!  Their laundry was small, but clean and inexpensive.  We were able to get it done and not have to endure a “commercial laundromat.”

Another plus was their WiFi, which was included.  This was important as Kaelin is doing an online class this summer.  Their signal was strong and took the worry off us.  He was able to get a lot done.

Tim and Janet are a hardworking couple that apparently have day jobs, but that doesn’t stop them from updating the campground weekly.  We admire what they have done with this little gem.

We went for the night and stayed the week and we’d do it all over again.  This campground is a must visit!

We give this campground a resounding 5 stars.  Again, we wish more would follow their formula.

http://littleriverrvpark.com/

Cherokee Rock

After a great fail trying to get to Chief Ladiga campground Captain Jim used freecampsites.net and found Cherokee Rock Campgrounds (Alabama.)  It wasn’t far from where we were and had promising reviews.  Hmmm?

Although we did not encounter anymore Bridge Out signs we did have to endure a quite steep, narrow entrance road to the park.  Once we got to the park our initial impression was quite positive.  It was very clean with almost new pavilion and office.  It was based on the honor system, however the prices did not match with what the website stated.  The website and the envelope stated $10 a night, the sign stated $20.  There were no maps to the campground and we had to just guess where to go.

As we drove through the park we could see tent camping along huge rock outcroppings.  It was obvious this was strictly for tents only.  We headed into the wooded area in search of RV camping.  There were, I repeat, NO road signs!  We ended up on a dead end and a dead end definitely means a dead end, NO TURN AROUND!!!  Captain Jim had to back Betty and Bertha up in a narrow, crooked area.

We were, at this time, then met by the “Campground Host,” which then proceeded to help us back up and find a site.  And they had to do this because NO SITES were MARKED!  They got us into a site not too far from them.  Was it a great site? NO.  It was so unlevel that we had to pull out every leveling tool we could find and warned the Boy, NO Jumping!

I will give it this, it was quiet.  No lights blaring in the window.  Some campers came and went, but we have a feeling they were camping on the sly (coming after dark and leaving before sunrise.)  I will admit we only paid the price that was marked on the envelope as this campground in no way warranted $20 per night price tag.  There was no water, electric, sewer and trash was definitely not in walking distance.

The campground host sounded like he and his wife had been there quite a while.  There were promises of future improvements, but it doesn’t seem like it has made it to the back forty of Cherokee Rock, including cutting the grass (which he said he was going to do the next day.)  Funny thing was Jim said he’s pretty sure he was “cutting grass” just not the kind we wanted cut.  He noticed quite a few “plants” in a tent on their site.  Perhaps this was why the “host” seemed so happy to be there.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad.  The rocks were amazing to walk through and climb on.  They were massive and parts overlooked a beautiful valley.  We were able to get some amazing photos, although we were disappointed that the sunrise did not cooperate with us.  It was quite misleading.

I’m sure there was quite a lot of history there.  It was a shame, however, to see so many of these beautiful wonders of nature defaced by senseless graffiti.  Really people?  Get a grip.  This is not a chalkboard and nobody cares that you were there.

Overall, we feel that this campground was good for tent campers and young people as their sites set next to the valley or rocks, not nestled in the bug infested woods.  We decided this was not a place to where we would back.

Captain Jim gives this place a  2 mostly because of the rocks if it were a day trip (no camping).  If you are a tent camper and young it would get a 4 or 5.  I agree with his conclusion.

Flat Tires and Jonathan Dickinson State Park (Old Post, Never Published!)

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We headed to Jonathan Dickinson State Park via 95 then in Jupiter switched over to the turnpike. Most of this trip was unevenful except that near Titusville we had a flat tire on the camper. I say flat but truthfully it didn’t go flat. The outer tread was stripped completely off the tire, hanging by a thread. Like peeling a banana. Jim says he’s never seen anything like it. Jim remained extremely calm in this situation. Me, I would have been cussing up a storm. Luckily we were able to get two new tires at a nearby Walmart. Jim wants to thank them for providing him with a large jack as we forgot to bring the hydraulic jack. $300 later and we were on our way.
It took a few more hours for us to arrive at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This was definitely just a stop over spot as it was not a “comfortable” camping area. It was very open, no trees for shade. I’m sure there was things to enjoy further into the park but not at the camp ground. It did however, allow us to rest for the night. The trip to the Keys is a long trip and I would recommend this park if nothing else as a way to break the trip in half.
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Continue reading Flat Tires and Jonathan Dickinson State Park (Old Post, Never Published!)

Campground Nowhere

Last night we stopped at a county park campground in Bastom, Alabama, called Neal’s Landing. This campground was an unmarked almost free campground. We found it on the site https://freecampsites.net/. We had to use their directions because Google tried to take us somewhere else. That somewhere was an exercise in determination and patience for Capt. Jim as he had to turn the camper around in a tight space. He did well!

Neal’s Landing was very pretty with tall pines throughout, surrounded by a thick wooded wildlife management area. We chose a site next to the river although we could not get to the river from our site due to a steep embankment. There was a boat ramp further up. We chose not to put the canoe in as the river was fast moving. Kaelin had fun running through the campground. It would have been perfect for his trike however, a flat tire flattened those plans.

We had many sites to choose from as there was only the campground host as a neighbor. Quite empty. Although it was very pretty and cost us a whopping $5, we stayed only the one night. The biggest drawback, besides the relentless bugs, was NO WATER. Anywhere! This is truly some boondocking!! We did enjoy a very quiet, dark nights sleep.

This campground could be such a gem with a little more management. Add even just water spigots and you might increase the camper population.

I give it a 3 star rating for cleanliness, quiet and layout.

Captain Jim gives it a 4 star rating for it’s boondocking mystique.

On the Road Again

Another school year done, another summer to begin.  This year promises to be quite interesting as we are changing things up a bit.  Normally, Capt. Jim prefers to make reservations for the whole summer.  This year we are “winging it.”  NO RESERVATIONS!  We plan on heading north, northish.  (Originally we were to go to Colorado but alas, that will have to wait another year.)

Our first stop on our plan with no plan, should be the Panhandle.  One of our dear former students just had his high school graduation near the Florida Caverns.  Unfortunately, due to some important appointments and lagging behind on prepping “Betty” and “Bertha,”  we missed the graduation.  However, the idea of camping near the Caverns seemed appealing.  Our hopes are to meander around finding campsites (or boondocking sites) near caverns or places like that.  We went last year to Linnville Caverns in North Carolina.  That was really cool!  For information about Linnville Caverns visit their website:   http://www.linvillecaverns.com/   

The ultimate stop will be Mammoth Caves if we can make it there.  I went as a child and remember being awed by the immensity and beauty.  Here’s hoping weather and roads are kind to us  as I am excited about the prospect

For information about Mammoth Caves visit their site at: https://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm

We really cleaned up Betty (our RV) including polishing it with Zep floor polish.   Yes, floor polish!  Capt. Jim saw how to do it on YouTube and wow did it work.  I even used in on the wood floors in the camper.  Betty is so happy!

This will be our first trip with Bertha (last name Big Butt as she is a big ol’ diesel.)  Capt. Jim has done many upgrades to her as well and we are anxious to see how well she does.  The Ford did her job well, but it was time for Bertha to move in and take over.

We are also doing something new with Little Man.  He is going into fifth grade next school year and we don’t want him to get too bored during the summer vacation so we signed him up to take keyboarding through Florida Virtual.  He’s already started and doing well.  The best thing we can do as parents is to keep him engaged in a routine and to introduce him to many experiences that only travel can provide.

To do Little Man’s class online we needed to get a WiFi hotspot.  I went with Verizon’s Jetpack.  This should also allow me to do a better job of blogging.  Hopefully!  So, follow us again this summer as we once again say, “Always an Adventure!”