One of the challenges in full-time RV’ing is storage.
Once we pared down what we’d be bringing, and then pared down again, it was time to play Tetris! How and where would we store the chosen items? How can we use our space most efficiently (and find things later)??
Some items that had NEVER co-habitated in our sticks-and-bricks home had to make new friends — and hopefully, play well together! Knives that always had their own apartment at home now had to share their digs with the small whisk,—big brother couldn’t come—the apple slicer, a single pie server, and others.
Items in the kitchen cabinets are packed in tightly (never the same way twice it seems!) to use up every last morsel of available space. Glass banging against glass? Put unbreakable items between those that could break. Some food staples in bags? Think walnuts or flour. Transfer the contents into plastic containers that stack. Cereal boxes too tall to wrestle into the top shelf easily? Cut them down so they will fit easily in a cabinet. And it’s plastic ‘glassware’ for the win!
And…probably the most helpful tool of all — the TENSION ROD.
They’re ubiquitous. They hold things in place while we travel in just about every cabinet we have. We wedge them tightly either top to bottom or across to keep things in their place. Well, they’re supposed to . . .
Sometimes you also need to think out of the box—see what I did there? Look at this great place to store toilet paper and the huge ziploc bag of laundry detergent! (Yes, we have a washer/dryer.)
All of this said, it can make it a challenge to find something you know (or think) you brought along. We’re still having to empty most of an entire shelf to find that one thing we are pretty sure is in there…at the back, of course. Hiding.
Many experienced RV’ers told us that towing your rig down the road is equivalent to an earthquake. We plan for that and wedge things so that they won’t tip over. I even got creative with some leftover rubbery shelf liner strips to protect the Corelle. Score!
And then, before we depart for the next campground on our itinerary, there are a few things we need to do. We try to remember to check that:
All cabinet doors are securely closed;
Waste baskets are emptied and placed in bedroom closet;
Bedroom closet doors are latched;
Shower head and shower doors are tightly velcro-ed in place;
Electric toothbrush is unplugged and stowed;
Counters are clear — silverware tote and the teapot are in the sink, etc.;
The microwave glass is wrapped up in dish drain pad and secured;
TV has been lowered into its cabinet;
Bathroom door is snapped open with its handy traveling strap;
No loose items are on the floor except under the dinette in a plastic tub; and
Both rugs are rolled, each secured in a bungie cord, and placed next to the dinette.
“Be careful when opening overhead compartments as contents may have shifted during flight.” Yup.
Even with the precautions we’ve taken, we’re still getting an occasional surprise when we open Rhett up after a long drive. We can be pretty sure that, if we were traveling on an interstate in really rough condition (thank you, Indiana!), we’ll find at least one cabinet open. With a few escapees who wanted a better view traveling down the road.
Looks like it might be time to install those really cool magnetic cabinet closures that we bought a few months ago. You lock them with a ‘key’ — and they’re guaranteed to keep the cabinets closed.
We’re writing this on Sunday; we’ve now completed one week of our adventure! Time flies, and so do the miles… We’ve now covered 1195 miles since leaving our house. (Kathe corrected me (Al) when I referred to it as “home.” We have our home with us.)
We cheated a little bit to get going…
Our plan was to leave early on Sunday, August 19 and go to Wakeda campground in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. We’d get up really (really) early, and do the last steps to shut down the house: draining and winterizing all the pipes in the house.
We decided instead to do that Saturday and then find a hotel room in the Bangor area, leaving from there on Sunday morning. Good thing, too. The “draining the pipes” ceremony took much longer than we thought it would have. We would have been quite frazzled had we tried to do it all Sunday.
Wakeda is a nice, large private campground, with over 400 sites–but you’d never know it. We didn’t feel cramped at all. The road from the office at the entrance to the actual camping areas is almost a mile (you pass a grass landing strip on the property!).
Many of the sites appeared to be (multi-) seasonal with porches or other structures built on (some had sheds!). However, it seemed that the temporary campers (like us) were separated from the seasonals.
We enjoyed biking around the campground roads, but didn’t venture out into the surrounding area.
We planned to meet friends we hadn’t seen in several years in Hampton Beach on Monday, so we used Sunday to do some more figuring out just how we should make use of the limited space in the camper. We will probably have several more rearrangements before we’re through! We did go in to Hampton Beach for dinner on a second floor patio overlooking the beach and all the motorcycles and cars “cruising” on the main road.
The visit with friends went very well, with lots of catching up with lunch across from the beach, and a very nice dinner at “CR’s The Restaurant” in Hampton. Nice atmosphere, very good food!
While we were at Wakeda, we noticed a slight smell of propane, so we know that we have a leak somewhere that I have to find.
For right now, we’re using the propane very sparingly. On. Cook the pancakes. Off. On. Cook the tapioca pudding (my favorite). Off. You get the idea. Our refrigerator can run on 120 V AC power (home wall plug power) or on propane, so that the fridge can stay cold while we’re traveling. Since we don’t want to leave the propane on for extended periods we’re not making use of that feature; we let the fridge warm up while we travel. Fortunately, we have a 12V cooler in the back seat into which we put the most perishable items.
I don’t know whether we will find this true of most KOAs or not, but this one provided more than kampsites. There was cable TV, a large pool, miscellaneous sporting equipment, and little pedal cars (for kids and adults) that could be used for free. However, we didn’t take advantage of any of that equipment. There was also a wine store on site. No, it couldn’t be used for free! Fortunately, there was also a propane fill station. Did I mention that we noticed we had a propane leak?
We were greeted by a crane (not sure which type) as we drove into the campground.
The sites, while close together, were wooded so there was a sense of separation and some privacy that we wouldn’t have had were we on just an open field.
It is interesting that they call themselves “New York City North.” Yeah. WAY north. About 62 crow miles, or 75 car miles north. They do offer transportation into the city.
Neither of us had been to West Point since childhood. Google maps said we were about 26 miles away, so visiting was a no-brainer. If you haven’t gone, or haven’t gone recently, it is well worth a visit. There is a very nice display in the Visitor Center and there is also the West Point Museum, considered to be the oldest and largest collection of miltaria in the Western Hemisphere. Due to time constraints we were not able to visit the museum, but we did take a bus / walking tour through the grounds, where we learned some of the high points of the Academy and garrison. There are one-hour tours every hour through the day, and two-hour tours twice a day. We just missed the two-hour and didn’t want to wait until the second one, so we took the one-hour version.
Here are some pictures, but the limitations of the tour (MUST stay with the tour guide–“or you will have a very bad day,”) and the scale of the Academy grounds mean that these do not do any justice to the site.
The original garrison was located here at the direction of George Washington because it was a choke point on the Hudson River, and could prevent the British from going all the way up the river and isolating the “troublesome” colonies in what is now New England from the rest of the country. An iron chain was placed across the river (and removed each winter); 13 original links remain.
One of the bus stops was the Cadet Chapel, a non-denominational Protestant church. The stained glass rivals some of the churches we have seen in Europe, and the organ is amazing, with more than 23,000 pipes. We’d love to hear a concert here!
After the tour we had lunch across the street. “Lunch” is an understatement. It was also dinner, and lunch the next day!
We had a very enjoyable visit with our niece, Susan, that evening.
Friends and relatives have been telling us about the great camping opportunities at state parks. This was our first experience, and it was a good one! Gifford Pinchot is jointly managed by the State and the National Park Service.
The biking trails were fabulous and we jaunted out several times. It was lovely to ride along the lakefront and see so many people out fishing (boats were available). Yes, we both have a fair way to go to get as fit as we’d like but we figure if we ‘give it a go’ on a daily basis (biking, walking, or hiking), we’ll get there eventually. Right?
Eager to fly our drone (“Butterfly” — see what we did there? GWTW?), we needed to do some research about whether this was a restricted area. (We know that you cannot ever fly a drone in a National Park or anywhere near an airport or landing strip.) Turns out that there are only six parks in the whole PA State Park system that allow drones; GP is not one of them. Oh, well . . .
It was at Gifford Pinchot, however, where Al befriended a next-door (next site?) camper who was eager to talk shop about all things RV-ish. Tom and Al ended up exchanging tips and lessons learned while Sue and I shared some organizational, interior ideas. Before long, the guys were under Tom’s camper checking the torque on U-bolts. Apparently, it was a good thing they did! It was fun to meet another couple who has also just started their full-time RV lifestyle.
Also momentous at this stop, we used our washing machine for the first time. It worked great! It was somewhat of a challenge to find the powdered high-efficiency detergent that is required; we are now the proud owner of a gallon Zip-lock bag of detergent that will last us for 100+ loads (it only takes 2 T per load).
It was a wonderful first week — we were surprised at how much room the campgrounds had — we’d been told that campsites are very hard to come by. It was great to have a reserved campsite at each location, but we probably could have gotten one on the spot anyway.
We’re off to Indiana today for an 8 day stay at a county fairgrounds. More about that later!
We moved to Mount Desert Island about ten years ago, in large part to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by Acadia National Park. We’ve had a wonderful time in the park, and had the opportunity to explore parts that most people don’t see.
In those ten years, we’ve also been blessed to form many friendships through church, work, the MDI-SAR rescue team, and social groups. Despite the excitement we feel about beginning our adventure, leaving is hard.
We live on an island. Other than by boat, there is only one way to leave–over a single bridge. Our church made the leaving easier, surprising us with this large sign attached to a power pole at the end of the bridge.
It’s August 19th and we are ON OUR WAY! Where to, you ask? How’d we end up here?
We love to travel. Al just retired. And we’re tired of New England winters.
Over the last three winters, we came to love the desert southwest. Being warm in February really appealed to us — it felt great! “Hey, I can really understand that snowbird mentality now,” I remarked to Al in February 2016 after our first trip to Arizona. Wow.
When we returned there in March of 2017, we ventured northward and were blown away by Page, Sedona, the slot canyons, Horseshoe Bend, and more. We ducked over the border into Utah one afternoon–wait a minute — there are FIVE national parks in Utah. “Wow! Look at those affordable condos!” I quipped.
But did we really want to be stuck in just one place? There are many fabulous national parks, state parks, national monuments, and more. We didn’t want to be obligated to travel to the same place each year and started musing about RVs. Hmmm. . .
We started investigating RVs and Al joined several RV forums online (Psst, honey? Don’t look now, but you’re using social media!). We started visiting a few dealerships in our area. Over several months, we went from Class A motor home (too large – and who wants to tow a car?), Class B motor home (if we didn’t tow a car, we’d have to pack up everything just to go for a dozen eggs?), and soon we were considering a fifth-wheel (and a truck!). Let’s go to the Hershey RV Show in September! Yeah, that’s the ticket! We won’t buy, we won’t buy…we’re just going to look … we won’t buy!
Meanwhile, I was starting to get a bit more encouraging. . . um, pushy…er, insistent…about the prospect of Al’s retirement! We could travel a lot! And we could do it while we’re still young and healthy enough to hike, ride bikes, etc., etc. It was a well-timed choreography — just before we left for the Hershey RV show, he decided he was ready to set a date for retirement. Yay!
Well, let’s just say that despite our good intentions, we signed a sales agreement for a 2018 Grand Design 310-GK fifth-wheel before the weekend ended! We fell in love with the layout, size, and many, many windows in the 310 (I need lots of natural light). We’d have to come back to PA to pick it up as soon as we were pretty sure winter was over.
Soon thereafter, time to buy a truck. A BIG truck. A ruby red, long bed, crew cab, dually! We named her Scarlett (thanks for the color suggestion, Nancy Jones!) and had to name the 310 Rhett. Of course.
So after many months of planning and more planning, Al is retired, and we have chosen the start of a route to travel the US — we’re not sure for how long and where our travels will eventually lead us. We can’t wait to share our travel adventures with you.
And, oh, yes—why “The Lobsters”?
Our grandkids named us Grandma and Grandpa Lobster years ago to differentiate us from their other set of grandparents. We live in Maine. And we’re traveling. We’re Lobsters on the Loose! We hope you’ll follow our adventures as we discover and rediscover each other and these amazing places we know as The United States of America and Canada!