Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Things That Work For Us V0.2

I believe one of my first posts after starting our Full Time Journey had to do with "Some Ideas to Share" which was intended to be just that.  Over the years, I have often thought I should like to continue with more things.

As I look around the Roadrunner I wonder if other people are approaching things with the same solutions.  In case you wondered that too, Here goes with Five More:

Drain Baskets
I read somewhere that one didn't want to have a lot of things going down the kitchen sink drain.  At the time I didn't realize how much food particles smell.  Not to mention they clog up drains.  We learned our lesson early and have been buying 'sink baskets' at the Dollar Store and flea markets.
We use them on the kitchen sink and the shower drain.  It collects a lot of gunk that otherwise would blog things up.  After we started using them on the sink, we rarely have any smell issues.

iPad for GPS
For years I have missed out on really knowing where we are going.  I could do more pre-travel route study, but I often don't.  Once I made a holder for my iPad I can plug in the route and see details or the entire route as we travel each day.
This has been a game changer for me.  I don't have to fool with my iPhone while traveling and Pam (Chief Navigator) and I are much more in synch as to where we are and if we need to make changes in the route.  We found Google maps goes out of its way to make us go to toll roads.  Sometimes that is not a bad idea, other times we don't like to do that.

Solar Panel on Roof
Although I don't understand the technology too well, I like the fact we have a solar panel on top of the Roadrunner.  At worst, it allows us to keep a good charge (trickle charge) on the batteries when we dry camp.
I haven't figured out how many panels it would take us to depend on solar 100% but I believe what I've read that indicates it would take a LOT of dry camping to save money with solar to pay for those panels.  Having said that, I'm glad we have it and can always add more.


Hooks for Jackets and such
The Roadrunner obviously is a small space to live in, so we don't want to hang things all over the place and make it seem even smaller.  In cooler and cold or rainy weather, we need more coat hooks than what came installed on the Roadrunner.

I believe only one coat hook came with the coach.  When we were at Red Bay, we found another one and hung it near the bathroom door.  They are sturdy enough to hang a sweater shirt and jacket or two each.  
Another dilemma we had was what to do with rainy and wet coats.  Our 'mud room' is essentially the first step inside the front door.  I found a couple of innocuous clear plastic hooks that work great for wet raincoats.
Two coats can hang here and drip dry and be out of the way unless we need to go out again.
Inside the living area we have a couple of other places we can hang a coat or two if we need to.  Or a hat. Or whatever.

In the back outside the shower, we have three of these over the door hooks.  Good for a couple of towels.
Often I turn them inside the shower and can hang things that are dripping, wet like swimsuits.

In the bedroom, there are a couple of more places I've put hooks.  Good for a belt,
or a jacket you don't want to put in the closet.

Heaters
It's important to efficiently heat the Roadrunner and these two items are indispensable.  The electric heaters take the stress off the heat pump and gas heater we have onboard.   Cold floors are a real wake up in the morning in the winter, so we use these to augment our main heater.
These two units are pretty inexpensive and do a good job.  We have used more rugs in the past to cover most of the living room and down the hall and into the bathroom area.  But we have opted for less rugs because we like to see the tile floor throughout the coach.  And it is easier to clean with out a lot of rugs. A couple of throw rugs are the right balance for us.

So there are five ideas that work for us.  And more ideas to come...

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  As always, we appreciate you stopping by for a look.  And a special thanks to those of you that leave comments.  We love hearing from you!



Roadrunner Camping Spots in January 2016

I find it hard to remember where we were at times.  If I had created this kind of a blog post the last 79 months we have been on the road as Full-Timers, I could have done a quick search to see where we were when.

Maybe I'll go back and create one like this for each month.  Then again that sounds like way to much work.  We'll see, but for now here's a look at where we camped during the month.

In January, we were in the following locations:

Anglers RV Campground, Cedar Keys FL:
It took a while to find this one but it turned out to be a pretty good spot.  The campground is a bit aged and there are plenty of long term people there, but we scored a level spot with lots of space from our neighbors.  Plus the price was right.  Price is always important to us.  We spent a lot of time inside the Roadrunner, so it is not like we have to have a great view of something at every campsite.

We like it here and even prefer it over the more pricey and newer Cedar Keys RV Resort probably because of both the price and the privacy.

It is only 7-8 miles from scenic and historic Cedar Keys so it is a good spot.  If we returned to this area, we wouldn't mind staying here again.


Racoon Creek FamCamp, MacDill AFB, FL
This is our first campsite at MacDill AFB.  We were told a lot of sites were getting upgraded to 50 amp and there were a lot of longer term seasonals that were displaced so it was going to be 10 or 11 days maybe at this site.
At $10 a night, it was not a problem.  We don't mind boon docking and the shower house and laundry are large and one of the better ones at Air Force campgrounds.
But the next day we were called and asked if we wanted to move to a site with full hookups.  Of course that is the preferred approach so we did and got a normal spot.  It was more crowded than our last place but a very typical campsite.

Another thing we liked was that we ended up being right across from friends Jim and Betty.

There is not much of a view but it is a short walk to a nice but small beach.  I liked the pickleball twice weekly at the base gym with other RVers from the campground.  It was rainy and windy and a bit cold most of our stay, so we didn't get out this time to play.

One of the detractors of this location is that it is on the back side of the base.  It takes 15 minutes from the campground to the front gate.

Even with that, this is a  it was a good campground for us and we likely will return again.

Sanlan RV Resort, Lakeland, FL
This was a decent place for us.  I liked the grass site.  It was level and we had easy access for our satellite TV.

The best thing about the campground it was where Bill and Marg were staying for the winter.  They snowbird at this resort from Ontario Canada.  We were able to spend a week there and lots of time with them.

The resort is in good shape, has a tidy feel to it with a good mix of long term park trailer models and seasonal campers.  And it has plenty of spaces for overnight and weekly renters.   I liked the location and Bill and I got out for a couple of rounds of golf which was nice.

About the only detractor to me was the issues in the front office (not sure exactly what all is going on there but they are definitely undergoing some stress...) and the higher rates we ended up paying ($41/night).

If Marg and Bill are here again, we likely will return.  If not, we probably would find a less expensive place.


Twelve Oaks RV Campground, Sanford, FL
As Pam just said to me, Florida is amazing!  We love exploring and learning all about this state.  It if full of history and some beautiful and warm places!  Obviously it can be crowded with a gazillion other snowbirds, but we try to stay away from high population areas.  At least on the weekends.

We love it here and are thinking about becoming Florida residents despite the higher costs than South Dakota and Texas.  But more on that on another blog.  We love Florida.  It has the best State Parks in the country, great major and minor highways and is very RV friendly.

That's a recap of where we were for the first month of the new year - thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!



Sunday, February 7, 2016

Great Days in Ocala

Ocala is about an hour away from our site at Rodman Campground but we have been over there a few times in the last week.  The first time we went to check out Salt Springs and visit the historic Ocala downtown area.  One thing we came away with was the notion that this area is big on horses!  There are a lot of horse farms in this part of Florida.

We have an appointment scheduled later in month at the Cummins Repair Center so we found where it was and saw that they have a number of pedestals and water sites for an overnight stay.

The Ocala RV show was in town and we got tickets on the BOGO day (Buy One Get One free).  Last month we visited the Tampa RV show.  That was a big one.  This was much smaller.  Last year they had about 5000 visitors.
It was a rainy, blowing kind of day and a little cold so there wasn't a big crowd.  And we got there a little early.  Later when we left lots more people were showing up.
The entrance tent had the typical selection of tables and booths.  We didn't see any new products this time.

We are always a little intrigued by the smaller Aliner campers.
And I like to check out the Class C RVs.
But the real surprise for me was the Vanleigh 5th wheel by Tiffin.  I didn't realize they had gotten into the market but sure enough.  They brought the Vilano model to the show and it was impressive.  We are not in the market for a new RV but this really surprised me.

Since it was still a little early in the day, I was able to talk with the salesman some and he indicated they have built 85 and have 61 sold and in the campgrounds throughout the Southeast.
Tiffin Motorhomes bought an old mobile home plant in Burnsville, Mississippi and currently employs over 125 people. We look forward to going through the facility in May when we are planning to get some work done in Red Bay.

By far the highlight of the day was getting a chance to stop by and see Howard and Linda Payne.  We have known them for years.  They have been very generous with advice and information about this lifestyle on RV-Dreams.com.  Anytime I talk to someone about RVing, I send them to their web site first.
They both are doing well and we got a photo before we left.  We are big fans...

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Murals of Palatka FL

Palatka is about 12 miles from our campsite at Rodman Campground along the Majorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.

The greenway is a designated Florida Recreation and Conservation area after a storied past of litigation and partial progress.  FDR authorized funds for work in 1934-1935 to construct a canal across the state.  Work also was re-initiated in 1964 before President Nixon stopped the project by Executive Order in the 1970's.  Finally Congress de-authorized funding and all lands were transferred over to the state of Florida.

Today the canal is far less than what was intended, and only covers 110 miles of canal connecting the St. John's River (near Palatka on the east coast) with Yankeetown on the west coast.

Our interest in the area was two fold:
1) We needed to find a place to stay for a week in February after waiting until December to find a campground in Florida.  This presented a few issues, mainly -- all the State Parks were filled (except for a couple of days here and there; and
2) Commercial campgrounds this time of year command a pretty high dollar.  After all it is in the middle of snowbird 'high season'.  Rodman Campground fees:  $24.42/night.

After a couple of hours of calling around and finally securing a spot at the Rodman Campground, we looked forward to 'checking out' the local area.

Palatka is about 12 miles away from Rodman Campground in the middle of the Ocala National Forest.  On one trip to Palatka, we stopped at the local Chamber of Commerce.  We learned Palatka had a number of murals depicting snapshots in its history.

This caught our interest as we have been to a number of other towns with murals.  Some of those we have seen in our travels included murals in:
- 29 Palms, California, January 2010
- Lake Placid, Florida, February 2013
- Vicksburg, Mississippi, June 2013

Each have their own unique style and approach but we find them all pretty interesting.

I think we captured most of them after tracking them down on the city map.  Sometimes we had to go down another street and change directions.  Lots of pictures here which are probably not the best way to represent them, but for documentation reasons when we want to go back and relook at some Roadrunner adventures years from now -- we'll be able to find them in one place.

Here they are in no particular order:
Train Station
 Mary Lawson Hospital
 Harlem Nights in Palatka
 Mural on side of local business
 Night Passage
 Putnam Treasures
Annie Oakley
 Senator B.C. Pearce
 Cattle Drives to Paines Prairie
 High Time in Palatka
 Work in Progress:  Honoring Vets including those that served in Iraq and Afghanistan
 Bygone Days
 To God Be the Glory
 Night Passage
Putnam County Wildflowers
 Battle at Horse Landing
 William Bartram 
 The Putnam House
Putnam County Jail
 Putnam County Courthouse
 Bronson-Mulholland House
 Palatka City Hall
 Old JT&K Railway Station
 Old Palatka Waterworks

One of the reasons we chose this area was because we wanted to get to know the Central Area of Florida a little better.  We've been able to get a glimpse of the Canal, Palatka, the Ocala National Forest.  Plus we've put a few hundred miles on the car as we have taken a number of day trips.  Its been fun to get a semblance of 'the lay of the land'. 

And we enjoyed chasing down the Murals of Palatka.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!