duluth City downhill

Dinner Guest – Poor Man’s RV Life

duluth City downhill

Last night we had Curtis over for supper from Poor Man’s RV life.  We love meeting new people when we travel around.  You would think that meeting new people would be easy, but I feel like in the RV world, it is a little more difficult then it should be.

People have a tendency to stay inside their RVs.  Why not?  The RV is air-conditioned, has a clean bathroom, and all your toys!  A good RVer ignores their neighbor, stays quiet, and never cuts thru a camp site.

So we where pretty excited when Curtis agreed to come over for a meal and a visit!

Curtis is  a long time RVer and a car camping expert.  He also is a great writer.  I think I picked his brain about writing and social media as much as we talked about RVing and full-timing.

If you are not subscribed to Poor Man’s RV life you should.  He is just starting out the full-time  RV part of his journey so he is bound to have a lot of great stories.  I can’t wait to see where he ends up as he escapes the cold winter clutches of the Duluth area and heads towards warmer weather.

So thanks for stopping over Curtis!  I am a little sad I didn’t take any pictures, but what can you do?  I think I feel dumb asking people to take pictures with me.

So good luck on your journey, Curtis!  Hope we meet up again sometime – hopefully it will be someplace warm and not up North!

P.S. – Picture looks understated, but all of Duluth is on a massive hill.  All the roads feel like you are going to fall down the hill and land in lake Superior.  When you drive up the hill you feel like your vehicle may pop-a-wheelie!  I used this picture because I never took a picture of or with Curtis!

 

harbor

Learning To Rest

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The hardest part of the Fulltime RV life for me is learning to slow down and rest.  Every morning my mind races with tons of projects I could start or continue to work on.

I have so many unanswered questions, so many unknowns, yet I am sure of one thing.  I need to slow down and just learn how to breathe.    I need to remember to daily mediate and hear from God.  I need to pay attention to my family.

After almost 10 years of crazy hours it is really hard to just slow down and rest!

I honestly believe that learning to rest is one of the hardest things for anyone to do.  I have met and talked with a lot of people who travel full-time.

They are working 12-16 hours a day 7 days a week.  They have to constantly hustle to make it.  At my last job many people who volunteered to help out also worked 2 or 3 jobs at a time in addition to volunteering.

I may have to go back to a crazy grind like that, but right now I am learning to rest.  A famous Bible passage is Psalms 23 – It says “The Lord MAKES me lie down in green pastures…”

Over and over in the Bible we are commanded to rest.  How many of the Old Testament commands are about feasting and resting and celebrating?

Why would a God force us to celebrate and rest?

I believe that celebration and rest are not in our DNA.  To rest or to celebrate is about expending resources in a way that has no return.

The very act of rest and celebration is an act of true Faith that we have a God who will look out for us.

So today I will do what God asked me to do.  I will spend time with my family, meet a new friend, and spend time admiring the beauty that is around me.

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Fuel Tip – The Gas Cap

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So one of the more annoying features on my RV is that the gas cap is exposed.  There is no door cover over the cap.  That is a little perplexing because it leaves the problem of no location to put the gas cap when I fill up.

The last time I had this problem was when I was in college.  I had a 77 Ford Granada.  After losing a few fuel caps I learned to wedge the cap in between the flip down license plate.  That way I would see the plate was down and not forget the cap.

I KNEW I would be losing our gas cap if I couldn’t find a good place to hold the cap.

As you can see from the picture above, I finally found my gas cap holder.  I put it in the holder where the fuel pump goes.  Now when I put the pump away I will not forget to put the cap on!

Simple, maybe for you it’s not a problem, but I have seen enough forum posts to know I am not the only person who struggles to remember to put the cap on!

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What We Learned About The 4th of July as Fulltime Rvers

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So we made an almost fatale first time full-timer Rv mistake.

We didn’t plan for the 4th of July Holiday.   From an outsiders perspective it doesn’t make sense that we wouldn’t have a spot reserved for the holiday.

The problem is what happens when you start full-timing in an RV.  First you start losing track of time.  Then you lose track of the days of the week.  Then you lose track of months.

I am serious.  Everyday my kid asks what day of the week it is.  Then he asks what month it is.  I am pretty sure he thinks that his December birthday will be here next week.

Weekends don’t really matter so much.  Monday, Friday, and Saturday might as well be all the same day.  I literally still have to calendar my day so I can make sure I do a full day of work.

So it was no surprise that Independence Day snuck up on us.  We never had made plans to stay overnight before.  We pick a park, drive on over, pay, and leave when we are ready.

Tracy was the first to realize that the parks were are full.  About 2 weeks before the 4th she called a few parks and was denied a place to stay.  I didn’t bother to help because I figured she was exaggerating.  48 hours before the holidays started are only camping spot was a Harvest Host location Tracy had picked out.

On our way to our Harvest Host location we stopped at a coffee shop.  I then proceeded to call about 30 different private campgrounds within a 2 hour radius of our location.

All of the campgrounds were full.

We then did an emergency plan.  We drove to 4 campgrounds and begged for a spot.  We were denied by all 4.  One campground gave us hope, but in the end it didn’t work out.

Then, at the last minute when we were about to give up hope someone called us back.  A campground in Minneapolis had a few spots.  They of course wouldn’t take a reservation, but they said if I called back tomorrow they would give us a spot.

At 8:30am in the morning I called back and confirmed a spot.  I didn’t actually get a picture of our spot – I have no idea why I didn’t, but it was a nice shaded spot.  The RV park was nicely located near the heart of the Twin Cities.

One of the things we were excited to do was get out and see the fireworks.  We drove as close as we could to the best viewing spot we could find online.

Everything online said that we should go stand on this stone bride.

Let me just say that the bridge was pandemonium.  It was crammed full of people.  By the time the fireworks started the bridge was just shoulder to shoulder people crammed on the bridge.   I can’t believe how many people could be put in one spot.  I felt a little bit molested while I was waiting for the fireworks to start.

To make matters worse we started feeling uncomfortable so we went to the side of the bridge we entered on.

This was our view of the fireworks when they started:

fireworks

Lucky for us Tracy found another view were we could actually see most of it a little ways into the park around the corner from where we were standing.

Our walk home was also interesting.  Every single automated sprinkler was turned on.  Plus we tried a shortcut that dead ended.

The good news was that after we found our truck we managed to drive home quickly because the RV park was close enough we could take all back streets and avoid the holiday traffic.

So the Holiday was saved and we learned a few things:

  • Schedule Now for Labor Day (umm…we still have to this)
  • always leave a message for a park that doesn’t pick up – they will actually call you back
  • always ask how big the waiting list is – many of the parks had no waiting list – so if someone cancelled you could be next in line.  The parks almost never offered a spot on the waiting list – we had to asked to be put on it.
  • Schedule out the major holidays!  I know its a repeat, but repetition builds habits!

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rvfamily vacation

The RV Family Vacation

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The American RV family vacation is unique.  Other countries have various forms of trailers and campers, but only in America can a family affordably climb into a gigantic self contained house and drive around.  America and Canada have the roads, infrastructure and support that no other country can so readily provide.

No special licensing, no special permits, and no special fees.

When families from other countries visit N. America, renting an RV to tour the country is a privilege that only a small percentage of the world ever has a chance to experience.

What is more uniquely American than experiencing the pinnacle of freedom on the open road in a RV?

After a few hours of driving you can pull into a rest area or scenic overlook.  You can walk around your very own hotel room on wheels.  Use the bathroom, make a snack or meal in the kitchen, take a nap on the couch or bed, and sit in the front captains chairs and gaze at the scenery.

As you look around you can see people lining up use the restroom or eat some terrible fast food.  You can see people in parked cars with the windows rolled down a bit trying to catch a few winks of sleep in the blistering heat.

Your family is able to bring the amenities from home.  Delicious meals, clean bathrooms, clean beds, and climate control.

Taking a family vacation ends the “Are we there yet?” question that children so often ask.  If the family gets bored looking out the extra large spacious windows of the rolling home, they have power for computers, onboard satellite reception, access to the bathrooms, and access to their own bunks for when they get tired of each other.

Your family vacation stops being split into travel days and vacation days.  All the days just become vacation days!

RVs even give you freedom to choose what kind of environment you wish to camp in.

When most people go on vacation they end up in a hotel room.  In a city or at a resort.

When a family takes an RV vacation they can usually choose to stay in a urban campground in the city.  This allows the camper to be close to all the city amenities and activities.

The RVer can also choose to camp in a wilderness park far away from all the hustle and bustle of city life.

Did you know that the government maintains thousands of acres of land just for public enjoyment and use?  These wild acres are located all over the United States and can be camped in for very little money.  In addition to the wild lands the government also maintains national parks, and your local state government runs state camping parks as well.

If your family vacation is part work and part vacation, the RV makes the perfect compromise.  You can park the RV at the office meeting hall or the convention hall for a few days.  Minimize your commute time and get close to all the action.

You may have always wanted to take an RV vacation.  Everyone should experience an RV vacation at least once in their lifetime.  You may even have your dream RV picked out.  Cost and time definitely are a limiting factor for many families.  The good news is that renting is starting to become accessible and affordable.

We used to stay in hotels, and then people opened up bed and breakfast homes.  Now we have AirBnB, a service that lets people rent out their homes on a short term basis.  We even are at the point where AirPnP (bathroom rentals!) is being launched for your convenience!

The same thing that is happening for room rentals has started happening for RVs.  Your only option used to be to purchase an RV.  Then various rental services popped up.  Now the AirBnB for RVs has launched as well: RVshare.com.

RVShare.com lets people rent out their RVs during the times the owners would not normally be able to use the RV.

This lets the owner help offset the cost of owning and maintaing their RV, and lets a guest experience the true awesome freedom of travel that can only happen in an RV.

Renting an RV takes the burden of RV ownership away from the renter.  Instead of maintaing and taking care of an RV you can now affordably rent your perfect RV for just the time you need it.  You will not have to worry about winter storage, leaks, or maintenance!

Summer is just getting started!  Book your time-off from work while you still can!  Make your family vacation a journey instead of a destination this year!

RVing used to only be accessible to a very few because of the large initial investment one needed to make.  We are now seeing the RV family vacation starting to become affordable.  If you get a chance to rent an RV this year, be sure to drive out and visit!

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duluth skyline

Visiting Duluth in an RV

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We have moved on to Duluth, Minnesota!  We also have hit the RV Parking spot jackpot!  We managed to snag a last minute spot downtown Duluth at a marina / rv park.  Our first night at the marina had this spectacular view out our front window!

The spot in the picture is just temporary.  It does not have a sewer, but the view is so awesome we don’t really mind!  We are now moved to a regular RV spot, but in a few weekends we will back back at the boat slip spot.  This park gets so full on the weekends we are playing RV Tetris.  Some weekends here are booked a year in advance.  That means we have to be willing be shuffled around if want to stay here longer than a week at a time.

Some RVers love getting out in the wilderness.  We also love the wilderness, but for us we love being in the heart of a city as well.  Being in a city is exciting!  You are close to all the stores, museums and other cool attractions.

If we were not in the city then we would have missed out on the visiting a Soviet themed hipster mexican restaurant and brewery.  How does that happen?  Tracy and I went out one night and entered their cribbage tournament.  We both won our first round, but we both lost 2nd round.  There were about 20 people in the tournament so we were happy with our first attempt.  We are going back next weekend to win!

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Being in the city also gives us another advantage we like – unlimited 4g data.  We both recently switched to T-Mobile phones.  Most of the country has very slowly or spotty data with T-Mobile, but a lot of cities include unlimited 4g data.  We just bought a cable to let us hook our iPhones up to our television.

We are now able to watch Netflix again!

The best part about this park is the views of the city.  It is awesome to look out our front window and see the city of Duluth on the side of a large bluff overlooking the water.  All day we see and hear the sights of the city skyline, large freighter boats going in and out of the port, the beautiful lake Superior reflecting back the sky at us.

We also have been enjoying the cool temperatures.  The ceiling vent fans are able to finally take a break from cooling us down from the summer humidity.

This is one of my favorite parks we have visited so far.  I love seeing the hustle and bustle of the local sailors at the marina.  Everyday lots of new RVs come and go.  The harbor is full of change and visual drama.

Tracy remarked that Duluth is at the top of her choices for us to put down roots when we stop traveling.

I am still holding out for a view of the mountains in Idaho, but I have to say Duluth is an amazingly cool city with lots of things to do and see.  I have enjoyed the company of everyone we have met so far.

We have talked a lot about how we need to slow down when we travel.  Duluth makes me glad we are taking our time.  I can’t wait to see and experience all the things we can in Duluth, and I don’t want to be rushed!

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Harvest Hosts. A new kind of camping.

I am trying a new post. The campground wifi is down so I am attempting to post with my phone. In the next week we will chose some sort of wifi card so we will have better internet access soon. So until then you get unformatted pictures and weird auto correct problems!

After we collected our kid from the airport we left our campground the next day.

This was a mistake.

We made the fulltime camper rookie mistake. We didn’t count on all the campgrounds in the United States to be full for Independence Day.

We ended up calling about 30 campgrounds. Everything was full.

At the last minute we managed to find an open campground. The problem was it was getting late and they couldn’t take any more reservations that day.

Lucky for us Tracy had signed us up for Harvest Host. Harvest Host is a organization that plugs RVers and farmers together.

RVers get to stay at the farm for free and farmers get new people who will visit and buy from their shops.

The farm we stayed at was pretty great. We had a huge lawn behind a garage all to ourselves. When the sun went down it was BLACK outside. It was awesome!

We had a great view of a young apple orchard. You could look outside and see the farmer’s dogs running around.

When we arrived the farmer drove out to meet us. He directed us to the place we could park.

He was eating supper so he said he would come back out and visit. We never did get to meet and greet the owner.

We had no power and were positioned on a yard in the back. I didn’t want to put down my jacks and sink into the ground so that meant no jacks and therefore the slide had to stay in.

We also had no power. Our 2 little AGM batteries worked fine but in the morning I had to crank up the generator for about 4 minutes so I could use the microwave!

Overall Harvest Host was a great experience. We will definitely use the service instead of overnight parking in Walmarts or other stores.

You end up feeling much safer at the farm. You don’t have weird headlights lighting up your house all night. You are not worried a cop is going to stop and harass you.

Plus you get the benefit of buying fresh products from a farm!

I will definitely write more about Harvest Hosts in the future. I will also go back and put up some links in the future as well!

Providing I get this post to work, you can expect more posts in the future!

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the flight out

Teaching Your Children Adventure Starts At Home

airport wait

Our kid doesn’t understand what we have given him.  He doesn’t understand that most kids don’t get second chances.  You develop a reputation with your friends and neighbors and you get typecast.

Our kid gets a chance to reboot his image and his life over and over.

For the foreseeable future he gets to learn how to be the person he wants to be.  He can reset who he is and he will not have any one to make fun of the fact he is changing his style or his behavior.

He can be a good boy for one month, then he can be a bad boy the next month.

The boy gets to move away from his mistakes and get a new chance every time we change parks.

Every time we do new things the boy is not always pumped about it.  Why accept change when you can have stability?

We have slowly been working with our kid over the last 5 years to help him understand this lifestyle.  We work with him daily to teach him to not rely on us, but to learn to develop himself into an adult who can support himself.

We make him do his own laundry.  We make him help with dishes.  We make him help cook something every week.  We send him to the store by himself.  We make him ask people for help.

We could give into his demands.  It would be far easier to never let him help in the kitchen  We would have way less fights.

We could just do his laundry.  He wouldn’t be so angry when it was laundry day then.

We could drive him to the store.  Then we wouldn’t have to worry about him getting lost or taking too long with his shopping trip.

We make the boy do all those things because we don’t want a wimpy kid.  We want a kid who is not afraid travel and adventure.  We want a kid who can cook and clean when he moves out of the house.

Children naturally physically turn into adults.  Children need help so that they can emotionally turn into adults.

We sent the boy across the country to visit my sister this week.  It was only his 3rd flight ever.  We showed him maps of the airport, we wrote down on a cheat sheet all the info he needed.  Every day for 2 weeks Tracy went over the process with the boy and made him practice talking to security guards and the airline workers.

You know what?  The boy flew with a 2 hour layover in Chicago and he made it to his destination just fine.

The solo trips to the story to buy candy and snacks paid off.  Understanding and learning how to talk to strangers taught him how to confirm he was standing in the correct gate.  Learning how to control himself helped him be a great guest at my sisters (so far anyway!)

If you want your children to be emotionally and physically an adult when they turn 18 you have to start training them to be independent now.  Understand the process is not easy for you and it is not easy for them.

Also understand that it is that pain and that inexperience that ultimately ends up giving them the confidence to be the person you raised them to be.

the flight out

 

kidfree

New Location, New Parking Lot, New Adventure

kidfree

We have moved to a new location for a week!

We sent our kid across country for a week!

We bought 6 used tires for our RV!

My in-laws are here visiting!

That is enough news for a week and it is only 3 days into the week!

We knew after Sioux Falls we had to head back east towards Minneapolis because my kid needed to fly out to visit my sister.  She bought the tickets 6 weeks ago.  We didn’t know where we would be at so we guessed.

We didn’t manage to guess far enough West, but that is ok, that is why we live nomadic – we can make anything work now!

We have made a few new travel discoveries.  If Google Maps says we need 4.5 hours that means we need 6 hours.  We stop a lot more over long distances, we frequently are going way less then the posted speed limit, fuel stops take a lot longer, and rest stops tend to drag on.

It is easy to make 30 minute breaks when you have a king size bed in the back for naps!  Plus snacks quickly turn into meals when you can fire up the generator and have access to running water and a microwave!

At 65 MPH with the generator and both air conditioners running I was getting about 8.5 mpg. That is pretty good for a 24,000lb gasoline powered vehicle!

We often end up going over back roads to get to our destination.  I have no idea why this happens.  I swear the GPS leads me off the interstate all the time.

When on back country roads you often end up slowing down to the 30mph range.  In a car you can do 55  mph.  When a sharp turn shows up the signs usually tell you to slow down to 45mph or 50mph.  No worries, you feel the G forces, but you are low to the ground and feel safe.

In an RV when you see the speed limit drop 5-10mph you slow way down.  My RV towers 13 feet tall and it feels really fast at 35mph!  I do care how many cars are behind me, I am not going to go faster then I can feel safe doing.

We ended up at Treasure Island RV park.  The park is fine.  It is on an Indian Casino.  The laundry mat is large, clean and modern.  The park itself doesn’t have many amenities, but it is cheap!

The big draw to the park is free shuttle service to a casino about 1/2 mile away and you get free access to the hotel hot tubs and swimming pools.

We have yet to take advantage of the pools, but I am sure we will soon!  I want to go swimming!

I also bought 6 used tires.  The tire installer guy said I should replace them in the next year, but for the price of 1 new tire I  will get 6 tires and they will be mounted, balanced and installed.

This means I bought myself 12 months to learn how to make an income!  Hopefully I won’t have to be talking about tires until 2015!

Since we are only 5 hours away from our starting point my in-laws stopped by for a few nights.  It is always nice to see family again.  Tracy is having a lot of fun catching up with her parents!  My kid is going to be sad he missed out!

So things have been really busy here.  I have been so busy with driving, airports, and tires that I haven’t really managed to get any work done this week.  I am going to be making a new schedule with Tracy soon  so that I can keep a schedule that lets me produce better products more often.

We have a very busy week, but I will hopefully have some cool news to share with you all later about work.

I was looking for adventure when we started.  I think we have a lot of adventure coming in this week!

40 feet still fits in parking spot double fill inlaws car

 

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