I can still remember the excitement I felt riding in the back of our gold station wagon (with a 455-cubic engine!) that pulled my family’s 1970 Starcraft travel trailer. It was an older RV but my siblings and I didn’t care. We were off for a weekend of adventure that meant time to roam the woods, explore caves, and roast marshmallows around a campfire. My childhood was filled with road trips and weekends at campgrounds that remain some of my fondest memories. The love of the road is a gene I inherited from my parents.
Like the one belonging to my parents, our own first RV, a 1996 Jayco folding camping trailer, was over a decade old. We had a small budget but big plans to give our kids oodles of childhood memories. Although that RV was 13 years old when we bought it, it gave us years of fun as we camped on the shores of the Pacific Ocean or under a canopy of Redwoods. It required very little aside from general maintenance and was in exceptional shape for its age.
When we decided to become full time RVers in 2011, we bought a five-year-old fifth wheel. We purchased it from the original owners who had been meticulous about maintenance. We put over 50 thousand miles on that RV with very few problems proving a used RV with a little care can provide miles upon miles of wonderful memories.
Since our little Jayco, we’ve owned three more RVs including a vintage Avion that was as sturdy as a tank but the wrong floorplan for our family and an older Airstream that we are currently customizing. These RVs had one thing in common: regular maintenance. Whether new or used, regular maintenance is the key to keeping your RV on the road for many years to come.
We aren’t the only ones with stories of older well-loved RVs. I talked to other people who bought new and kept the same RV for many years or who decided to buy an older RV. If you are considering purchasing an older rig or wondering how long your new rig might last, read on for these encouraging stories showcasing the staying power of older RVs.
Todd and Tammy Smith purchased a new 2001 Terry travel trailer to live in while they built a house. At the time they had 7 children and lived in it for about 8 months. Since then it’s been used heavily, for camping, summers visiting family and twice they used it for extended trips traveling across the US. One trip lasted for 7 months and another for 6 months. Tammy says, “It has held up remarkably well. We make sure it’s winterized each season, lube the slide, seals, and gaskets. We have remodeled it several times, most recently painting the interior walls, cabinets, and trim. We have resealed the roof twice. It’s important to inspect the roof regularly, and if looking at an older rig, check for soft spots. We have also repaired a minor tear in the awning. Water is the biggest enemy of an RV. Making sure it’s tight with no leaks will keep it in good shape.”
The Weed Family has been a full time RVing family for 18 years. Living in Beverly Hills, CA, they hit the road, so they could spend more time as a family since Kevin, the dad, was spending so much time away for work. They have visited 45 states and their oldest son has driven across the entire United States at least a dozen times! Tara says this about their first RV, “We lived and traveled in our old RV, which we bought new, for over 14 years. Yes, it had issues but was a solidly built rig.” They are grateful for the memories they made in their first RV and sometimes still miss it. Moving out into their new rig was bittersweet indeed.
After considering a 5th wheel the Chan family decided on a 1985 34’ Airstream. While their RV has its quirks, overall, it’s been a good rig for their family. Maintenance so far has been replacing the tires and lubing anything that moves, as well as a few fan replacements. Bigger things they plan to do are strip and reseal all the exterior seams and lube the window gaskets. Their advice for people in the market for a used RV, “If you are going to consider an older rig, definitely spend the money to get it professionally inspected. While we love our rig, there are some things that we found later on which might have made us continue looking for another one. Even though we had a good checklist and were pretty thorough, there are some things we see now that were symptomatic of other potential issues. We could have negotiated for a lower price and at least went in with eyes wide open.”
The Siemens family chose a 2007 Newmar Allstar 3950 because they loved the layout. They decided to buy used for a few reasons. One, the floorplan was perfect for their family and it was only available in 2007. In addition, they wanted to be able to customize without feeling bad for taking out brand new furniture and painting new cabinets. They say, “We renovated the entire inside complete with new furniture. We have done regular oil changes and the ONLY maintenance we have had to do is replace a wheel bearing!! I always encourage people to buy older rigs for the reasons listed above and to take the time to renovate it to make it your own! Our RV is unique and is a perfect home for us!!”
It started with a single picture that popped up in a search for vintage trailers. Scott and Corrinne Gilbertson were not looking for a motorhome, but a bit of research revealed that the sleek, blue and white 60s-looking RV was a Dodge Travco. Travcos were once king of the RVs, Johnny Cash toured in one and John Wayne used one on several sets. Today while there are still quite a few on the road, they aren’t very common. The Gilbertsons continued to watch Craigslist somewhat obsessively until, about six months later, they found one that was what they were looking for, at a price they liked. They brought it home and got to work. It took about eighteen months to get it road ready. They’ve had it now for almost three years and lived in it full time for the last nine months. Scott says, “There have been challenges, and it definitely has quirks, but we love it. And, as a kind of bonus, we’ve met scores of people in our travels who came over to just talk to us about our RV.”
Dustin bought a used 1995 Cobra 26’ 5th wheel by Sierra. There were a few problems but Dustin is handy and has dealt with almost everything, plus adding improvements that are not always found in older RVs like LED lighting. His advice about owning an older RV, “All in all, this little, old RV works great for me. I do wish it had a slide out, but the price was right. As of right now, it’s just me in it. The water heater will (mostly likely) need maintenance right away when you buy it. Plan on replacing the anode rod immediately. These are pretty easy to replace and give you a good opportunity to inspect the tank. The anode rod is designed to take all the corrosion and to fail, keeping your water heater safe and in good working order. Also, plan on replacing the smoke detector as they usually have a 10-year expiration date. This is a good time to upgrade to a smoke and CO detector. It is advisable to install a propane detector on the floor at this time. Not all older units have them.”
Whether new or used or in between, with regular maintenance and care you can expect many years of enjoyment and miles of memories in your RV. What about you? Do you have an older RV with staying power that you love? We’d love to hear your story!
It’s early morning and you’re tucked into your warm and comfy RV bed when you begin to hear it . . . *Plink……Plink…………….Plink* — it’s the sound of Mother Nature’s gift of rain showers dancing on the roof of your beloved RV. Be it a brief passing of rain, or a torrential downpour– you can either embrace the rain, gear up and head on out – or you could cozy up inside your RV and enjoy some rainy day activities that seem to be even more comforting when it’s pouring rain.
Simple and Fun Jewelry Work
I always make it a point to bring along my little plastic compartment box full of beads and little jewelry making treasures I have found during our road trip adventures. Stopping off in little towns along the way you are sure to find a rock and gem store where you can pick up some of the most unique pieces to incorporate into a simply strung beaded bracelet or necklace. In my kit that I keep on board I have a variety of beads, feathers, crimping beads, a pair of needle nose pliers (for the crimping beads) and a spool of elastic bead cord – easily found at craft stores or online. This kit can grow quickly so I make sure to leave some extra compartments empty in order to accommodate beads and supplies I’ll find in the future. The process of stringing beads and creating as you go is truly meditative, especially with the sound of raindrops outside.
Another activity that I think is so enjoyable to do when it’s pouring rain, is discovering a new recipe. I’m always challenging myself with my little RV oven and I feel so very accomplished when a batch of cookies turn out perfectly. During the fall I like to get a head start on my holiday baking and begin my “test kitchen” of sorts by testing out different cookie recipes I’ll be preparing for the holidays. I take notes and tweak the cookie recipes as I go so when the holidays roll around, there’s no second guessing. The recipes are ready to go and have been tried and tested. Plus the boys don’t seem to mind this “test kitchen” time (win-win).
Another hot cup of tea and some great books to read are tops on my list. My favorite books to read are those that educate me and help me plan for future road trips.
Take for example the Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer Detailed Topographic Maps for one – this Washington State book is HUGE but it gives me the *big* picture as I can easily read the roads and routes which helps me plan future road trips I’d love to take. There is just something about holding a big ole’ map in your hand vs. scrolling online. I’m also very fond of my Pacific Northwest Camping Book by Tom Stienstra – full of RV park recommendations that are indispensable to anyone looking for the perfect campground. It tells you the good and the bad of the campgrounds and so much more. I couldn’t be without it.
Getting to Know Your Camera
If you’re an experienced photographer or just beginning to learn, you probably have the instruction book that came along with your camera, somewhere. For the longest while I tossed that little instruction book back deep into my camera bag and never gave it another thought until one rainy day I decided to have a closer look at it. I was amazed at everything I learned about my trusty camera – so many tips, tricks and calibration techniques. I often sit down with my camera during a relaxing rainy day in the Airstream and take some time to go through my book chapter-by-chapter, with my camera on the ready next to me so I can test out the new techniques that I’ve learned from the book. You’d be surprised how immersed one can get in that little instruction book so please don’t toss it aside like I once did. There’s a lot to be learned!
Either way, rain or shine – all of the above activities I have mentioned can be thoroughly enjoyed in your RV. But for some reason, these activities accompanied by the sound of raindrops falling on the roof make for an exceptionally cozy experience!
If you have a favorite rainy day activity you’d like to share, I’d sure love to hear from you in the comments below.
I’m a sucker for wilderness anywhere, on any day of the year, but having visited in all four seasons I am now totally sold that autumn is the best time of year to visit Yosemite National Park. Our trip timing bypassed the swell of summer visitors (estimated at over 600,000 in August alone) to less than half of that number in October, just in time for the fall colors that showed up and showed out in waves of yellow, reds, and ochre blanketing the landscape. And there were no winter road closures or snow chains required.
We were advised by the resort staff to leave camp for the park around 9am to climb ahead of fall weekend visitors, and help ensure we could find space to park our over-sized vehicle. Rodney did the driving the first day and now it was my turn to drive the motorhome. With me behind the wheel, Rodney and the kids were able to enjoy the panoramic views out of the big front window. The meandering drive and stunning vistas of the valley approach were breathtaking.
Rue Mapp Driving the RV
After paying $30 for our week-long pass at the park gate, we wound easily down into the valley, stopping to take photos at the most iconic views of the Yosemite landscape. Within an hour, we arrived at Half-Dome Village (Curry Village) and parked in the adjacent parking lot, taking up two spots vertically (and legally!) — we then ran into a friend of Outdoor Afro who remembered us from our epic leader training weekend back in 2016.
Reuniting with Old Friends
From there we took the free park bus shuttle that stops at all the major valley destinations and many hiking trails beyond. Our afternoon filled up nicely with a delightful, casual lunch at Degnan’s in the valley, followed by leisurely hiking and time spent in the visitor center to learn more about the formation and history of this important and beloved national treasure.:
One of the Many Hikes
Before we knew it, our Yosemite sun began to set westward. Without quite getting our fill of the park’s trails and stories, we reluctantly decided to get back on the road to allow plenty of time and light to re-connect our RV to camp, enjoy our planned Taco Night — and of course, more s’mores!
The Perfect Marshmallow
By the time I climbed into bed Saturday night, I could not believe our trip was coming to an end the next day, just as we became accustomed to the rhythm of the RV life. I knew we could have easily stayed another two nights — or more!
Our 5 Tips For RVing Weekend Warriors
Plan for a long weekend if you can – consider the journey and destination in your RV as a total adventure, and take your time along the way!
Choose an RV Resort with amenities for everyone, such as recreation rooms with WI-FI, swimming pools, organized activities and park model cabins – perfect for those who want to try out the RV lifestyle, but aren’t ready to buy.
It’s all about preparation. Just like with any camping experience you’ll benefit from advance meal plans, prepping fruits and veggies, marinating meat, etc. All help to save time, and bring only what portions of dry goods you need from home to reduce waste #Grits
RVs have plenty of storage: Grab toys and games from home such as balls, board games, and cards for those down moments, especially before bedtime.
Eat lots of s’mores!
What are your must-have tips for weekend getaways in your RV? Let me know in the comments!
What is the first thought that comes to mind when someone mentions Disney World? Most people would say Mickey Mouse, Magic Kingdom and loads of kids with their parents in tow. Oh, and let’s not forget about strollers! Yes, I will admit that I love taking the whole family to Disney World.
And, I fall into all of those categories with my kids and their meltdowns from the overstimulation of a huge theme park. It is certainly one of my favorite places to go for a fabulous family vacation. Now what if I told you that there are a couple of months out of the year when Disney World can be a fabulous destination for adults, with or without kids?
Now I have your attention.
I decided to take the family down to Orlando for yet another Disney vacation, but this time it was all about the adults. Sure, the kids came along for the ride, but this was not for them. Some might find that to be a bit selfish. However, sometimes mama and papa bear have to have some fun, too.
Personally, I think that it is good for our kids to know that even though we love to bless them with fun experiences, we are people too. Parents deserve to have a little fun.
So instead of the usual trip to Magic Kingdom and the like, we decided to hit Epcot for the International Food and Wine Festival 2017. I have become such a foodie over the past 5 years that I was excited to see what goodies I would find at the Food and Wine Festival. Not only does Epcot do a fantastic job of offering a glorious variety of culinary delights from around the globe, but they offer wine pairings for their dishes, too.
There was one small wrinkle in my plan. My husband is a traditional meat and potatoes kind of guy but my recent decision to partake in a plant-based diet would limit the variety of dishes that I would be able to consume. I even had to ask myself if I would be able to eat anything other than a salad.
Once again, Disney World did not disappoint!
First thing is first! This mama bear will always find a way to entertain her little cubs, so we registered the boys for a scavenger hunt. Now that the boys were sufficiently entertained and distracted, it was time for us to begin eating our way around this culinary Epcot world.
One place that is only available to eat at during the Food and Wine Festival is their Africa region. There I was able to thoroughly enjoy the spicy Ethiopian red lentil stew with vegan yogurt and quinoa. This dish had me wishing that I had some take home containers in my bag.
Due to my dietary restrictions I have learned, albeit the hard way, that it is always best to do a little menu research prior to heading out to eat. To my delight, Epcot had a couple of vegan/vegetarian options at each food spot around the park.
If you plan to visit the Epcot Food and Wine Festival it is best to go in the middle of the work-week and plan to arrive as close to opening as you can. I failed to adhere to my own advice and went on the weekend. It was packed with tourists as well as local Floridians taking advantage of the weekend to get their grub on.
Nonetheless, this event is a must for adults who wish to visit the most magical theme park destination in the world. The festival offers so many options to parents taking a break from the traditional Disney experience. If you plan ahead, you can book your spot to participate in cooking demonstrations and seminars led by well-known chefs and television personalities. That said; plan your visit well ahead of time.
As for our family, we will be back! The kids had a great time and they were happy to see that mom and dad had a magical time, too.
For the most part RV refrigerators are efficient, but sometimes RV owners do things that result in the refrigerator being less efficient. Today I want to discuss some tips and tricks that will help your RV refrigerator operate at maximum efficiency.
1) First and foremost the RV must be fairly level for the refrigerator to operate properly. Older RV refrigerators required more precise leveling, but even newer models need to be close to level for optimum performance. Over time a cooling unit operated out of level can be permanently damaged. When you set up at the campground you can use a carpenter’s level to ensure the RV is close to level front-to-rear and side-to-side. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but close.
2) The initial cool down process can take four to six hours. I recommend turning the refrigerator on the day before you plan to leave for a trip, and before you put any food in it. When you do put food in the refrigerator it should already be cold, and food put in the freezer should already be frozen. Adding already cold food, rather than warm food, lets the refrigerator work more efficiently. One common mistake people make is to over-pack the refrigerator. There needs to be space between the foods for air to circulate throughout the refrigerator compartment. In most situations you will have access to a store where you can buy food, so a two to three day supply should be enough.
3) To assist with air circulation you can purchase an inexpensive battery operated refrigerator fan. Install the batteries in the fan and place the fan in the front refrigerator compartment blowing upwards. The fan will improve the refrigerator’s efficiency by circulating the air and it helps reduce the initial cool down time by 50 percent.
4) The heat created by the cooling process is vented behind the refrigerator. Air enters through the outside refrigerator vent and helps draft the hot air up and out through the roof vent. Periodically inspect the back of the refrigerator and the roof vent for any obstructions like bird nests, leaves or other debris that might prevent the excess heat from escaping.
5) Another good idea is to install a 12-volt, thermostatically controlled refrigerator vent fan at the back of the refrigerator, or at the top of the roof vent. The fan will assist in drafting the hot air away from the refrigerator. If you are mechanically inclined, these fans are fairly simple to install, or you can have your RV dealer install one for you. Either way it’s worth it. The fan removes the heat from behind the refrigerator, improving the refrigerators performance by up to 40 percent. Note: Some new RVs come with a fan already installed.
6) The outside temperature also affects the operation and efficiency of your RV refrigerator. When it’s cold outside you might need to lower the temperature setting and when it’s hot outside you might need to raise the setting. Extremely hot weather will directly affect the refrigerator’s efficiency. When it’s really hot outside try parking the RV in the shade, especially the side the refrigerator is on. Note: Some RV refrigerators are preset by the manufacturer and you cannot manually adjust the temperature.
7) Last but certainly not least you should always keep a thermometer in the food compartment. Food can begin to spoil at temperatures above 40 degrees. A small thermometer will let you know at a glance if your RV is operating efficiently.
RV refrigerators will operate very efficiently if we apply these simple tips & tricks to help make the refrigerator’s job easier and less demanding.
We recently spent an amazing 25 days exploring the Pacific Northwest, and the single most surprising thing was how much we enjoyed our stop in the Mount St. Helens region.
To be completely honest, we pretty much expected a cool photo op and not much more. Look kids…a really big volcano. Smile!
Well. It was in fact an amazing photo op. But it was also so much more.
Mount St. Helens ended up being one of our very favorite experiences, and we all wished we had more time to explore the area. In fact, we are already planning a return trip when the boys are old enough to do the 10-mile round trip hike up to the summit.
So, what is there to do at Mount St. Helens besides look at a big volcano? Here are our top recommendations for your visit.
The West Side: Exploring Route 504 from Silver Lake to Johnston Ridge Observatory
Start at the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake.
Get your map and chat with a ranger about your plans for the day. Even though we usually have a game plan before we arrive at a national or state park, it’s great to get some feedback from the experts. You will also find a chronological timeline of events leading up to the explosion, an educational movie, and a step-in model of the volcano.
Drive to the Forest Learning Center.
This awesome place is on your way up Route 504 to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Whatever you do, DON’T skip stopping here. The Learning Center is run by the Wyerhaeuser Logging Company and is chock full of hands-on exhibits and jaw-dropping news footage of the time immediately before and after the volcanic eruption. The children’s area was particularly impressive, and we pretty much had to drag our boys away from the wildlife displays and interactive learning experiences.
Hike the Hummocks Trail.
This 2.5-mile loop trail is located in between the Forest Learning Center and the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The relatively flat trail offers beautiful views of Mount St. Helens as it meanders through fields of debris left from the 1980 eruption and mudslide. Then it continues through the recuperating alder forests, ponds and wetlands.
Visit the Johnston Ridge Observatory.
Even though this monument is run by the National Forest Service, your annual national parks pass is honored for admission. You do not want to miss the excellent 16-minute movie with a show-stopping ending (no spoilers from us!). There are also options for short ridge hikes and lots of daily ranger programs.
Eat at the Fire Mountain Grill
We packed a lunch in our cooler, but at the end of a very busy day the Fire Mountain Grill hit the spot for a yummy dinner. The porch out back has a pretty water view, and the menu offers plenty of hearty fare like chicken and dumplings, steak, burgers, and coconut prawns. We also rewarded ourselves with the mountain berry cobbler and chocolate lava cake for dessert.
The South Side: Forest Road 83 to Ape Canyon
Explore the Ape Cave Lava Tube
If you ask our boys what their favorite experience this summer was, they’d tell you that the Ape Cave was the coolest thing ever. Make sure you dress warm since the underground temperature is a chilly 42 degrees, and bring a flashlight or headlamp for everyone in the family. You can also rent lanterns at the entrance of the cave. There are two hiking options: the lower cave is an easy 1.5 miles round trip, and the upper cave is also 1.5 miles but more challenging with rock scrambles and tight squeezes. Choose wisely and have fun!
Hike the Trail of Two Forests or the June Lake Trail
The Trail of Two Forests is a short interpretive trail that takes you through an old growth forest entombed by a 1,900-year-old lava flow. If you are up for more of a challenge, the June Lake trail is a little over three miles and runs along a rushing stream before reaching the lake.
Swim at Lake Merwin, Yale Reservoir, or Swift Reservoir
One of our great disappointments was that we did not bring our swimsuits when we visited the south side of Mount St. Helens. There are many day use areas along Forest Road 83 that offer great places for an afternoon dip. Next time we will follow up our hikes with a nice swim in one of these reservoirs.
Eat at the Lone Fir Café
We didn’t expect very much from this little dive in the town of Cougar, but we were all quite pleased with our meals. The older boys gobbled up a BLT and club sandwich, while our little guy devoured the pizza. The service was friendly and the beer selection was impressive.
Back at Basecamp
During our trip to the Mount St. Helens region, we stayed at the Silver Cove RV Resort in Silver Lake. We couldn’t have been happier with this beautiful campground, which offered the perfect basecamp where we could unwind and relax after our adventurous and action-packed days. During our stay there we loved renting paddleboards and kayaks on-site to paddle around in the lake. The staff was also warm and welcoming…and the freshly brewed coffee in the camp store was free.
Our four-day visit to this area went way too fast, and we were all a bit sad to leave. However, we will surely be back in the future, since now we know that a trip to Mount St. Helens is so much more than a photo op…it really is an epic RV destination.
A love of design and of the outdoors led Jill Evans to combine these passions and create a rolling home on wheels where adventure and the comforts of home and hearth go hand in hand.
While growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, Jill Evans learned the fine arts of needlework and quilting from her mother who had a needlepoint shop. She had no idea that her creative child play would turn into a lifelong passion and that her mother would become her role model, mentor and friend. Jill’s dad was also contributing heavily to her other passion, the outdoors. An avid fisherman who loved lake life and took the family shore camping on the lakes around Kentucky, planted in Jill a love for nature that has never left. Those happy childhood camping trips and sewing sessions would become Jill’s outlet for the creative drive that would lead her to open an antiques mall, restore a vintage trailer and create beautiful quilts for family and friends.
After graduating from college with a degree in advertising Jill took a dream travel job and became a flight attendant for Delta Airlines. When she and her high school sweetheart Ed married and settled down to raise their sons Clay and Beau, they moved back to Kentucky and the comfort of family. Ed grew a family automotive and parts business and Jill set out to create the memories for her children that she and her sister had received from theirs. Ed and Jill purchased a motorhome with their friends Chris and Jennifer who had six young daughters. As one big happy group they hiked, swam and camped the lakes all around Kentucky. Evenings were spent around the campfire toasting marshmallows and telling fish tales. As a group they made an annual pilgrimage to their favorite campground and their children looked forward to camping as much as the grownups did. Clay who is now a sophomore in college, is a collegiate fisherman at Murray State University. Beau, still in high school has a deep interest in boxing.
Jill was always a collector and enjoyed antiquing and refining her home with things “that make me happy.” She looked at the trends in Louisville and saw a gap in the way antiques malls operated. She knew that there were many dealers who would like to have a shop but worked full time and couldn’t shop sit. Jill, along with a partner, bought a large brick building in a resurging area and opened it to dealers with no commitment to work there. She and her partner kept the shop hours along with hired help. They filled the over 100 spaces and built a thriving business. Jill had first crack at all the antiques and collectibles that came through her door! She used these finds in her trailer to make the camper as inviting and comfortable as home. One of the things Jill loved about camping is that having the motorhome allowed her to travel and still be at “home.” She filled the trailer with quilts, board games and comfortable bedding and seating. Wherever they went they felt rooted.
Jill and her best friend Jennifer got wind of the Girl Camping movement and hatched the idea that they would find themselves vintage trailers to doll up just for them. Jill found a vintage Shasta in Milwaukee in very good condition. She named it Laverne!! Her BFF found one too and named hers Shirley. Once Laverne was deemed safe for the road she set to work on the outside removing all of the rusty screws and replacing them with new stainless steel ones. She also rewired and replaced the broken exterior lights. When the tough work was done she had it professionally painted. She then did something that would make most purists faint – she painted the original birch wood interior of the trailer all white and brought a modern mix of salvaged finds, new and vintage textiles and a boho chic design to the interior. I found her on Instagram and fell in love with her aesthetic. I was heartbroken when she sold Laverne but cheered up when she revealed that her boys want to continue camping with her and had outgrown the Shasta. She wanted a trailer that could hold all four members of the Evans family. Any mother with teenage boys who want to be with her would have done the same thing!!
Because she was raised in the 70’s she has a nostalgic affinity for all things from that era. She began the search for a 1970’s Airstream and hit pay dirt when she found one three hours from home. The owner had purchased it and restored all the mechanics of the trailer but had not touched the original interior. Perfect! All the safety things checked off and none of the design things addressed. She could get right to work making a home on wheels for fishing trips, hiking outings and hopefully some girl camping on her own. When all put together her new Airstream, named “Georgia,” is a place of respite for her, a gathering space for family game nights and big enough for the cross country family adventure they are planning for the summer of 2018.
Jill has some principles and rules she uses in design that give her projects a signature look. She loves starting with white walls and cabinets and the first thing she did was paint out the whole interior of the dark paneled trailer. From there she adds the things she loves but keeps them to a minimum for a clean look. Every interior she does whether trailer or home, includes new and old quilts. She has a love for textiles and uses them sparingly allowing them to make a statement. Life is changing for Jill. Her young men are almost out of the nest. She has sold her antiques business and is enjoying some down time and watching for her next opportunity. Jill plans to make her first solo girl camping trip this April in Texas. I have no doubt she will feel at home wherever she roams.
“Jill’s Design Tips” below can help any RV owner create a rolling home on wheels where adventure and the comforts of home and hearth go hand in hand.
For me, my design must-haves are WHITE WALLS, because it opens the space up. I will break up the white by covering a door with wallpaper, upholstering cushions in color, or painting cabinet doors a different color. This will allow you to take the space in any direction. You can girl it up, or make it more appealing for the men that may be sharing it with you.
I love to incorporate WOOD AND PLANTS in the camper for the obvious reason that they are natural elements that will surround you while camping. You are bringing the outdoors in! And again, this largely appeals to men but can be softened up for the gals!
LIGHTING is an aspect I do not ignore. I want my camper to glow at night, not look like a spotlight. I only use soft white bulbs, no fluorescents. I have found some wonderful cloth wrapped electrical cord, so each space can have its own hanging light and the harsh overhead lighting does not have to be turned on. Don’t forget outdoor lighting-I go soft out there, also.
GAMES are always a part of my camper decor. If it is rainy or cold, or while having morning coffee, we will play cards, dominos, backgammon, etc, so they are prominently displayed and used as a design element.
My last must have: QUILTS! Quilts are comfort to me, whether I have made them or I found them at an antique mall. There are at least 10 quilts in my camper at all times!! Quilts=Love!
Whatever objects bring you happiness, make it a part of your camper life!
Many ladies are intimidated by the thought of taking the RV out on their own. This is especially true if you have only gone RVing with your husband and the kids.
If your situation is anything like mine, as the wife and mom, I am responsible to pack everyone up and be sure that we have a meal plan before every trip. Once we arrive at the campsite, I am the one who gets the RV’s interior situated and starts the evening supper in the crockpot. Meanwhile, my husband goes outside to connect the RV to shore power, sewer and fresh water. Yes, everyone has a job and since our maiden RV voyage in 2014, we have perfected this process and I must say it goes off without a hitch…most times.
But, what is a girl to do when she decides to take the RV out solo or at least sans the husband and kids? What if I took the RV out with a couple of my girlfriends for the weekend? Am I able to do this without my trusty life partner? I have seen my husband hook up the RV many times and I am very comfortable driving it. So what do I really have to worry about? I can do this!
Now before you start thinking about hiking and all the awesome possibilities of the great outdoors, this was not what I had in mind at all for this getaway. You see, I have never been that outdoorsy type of gal. Don’t get me wrong! I love to go hiking and exploring with my boys, but this was a girls’ weekend. As such, we were looking forward to being pampered, relaxed, and dined.
Now since this was our first “Girls Trip” we were determined to stick to a few rules.
No discussions about husbands, kids or work.
No phone calls with the above parties. (Except for emergencies, of course)
No morning wakeup alarms.
No reservations, no time schedules to keep.
Okay, so the groundwork has been established let’s go!
The first thing on our list of MUST DO’s was to find a spa where we could enjoy a nice massage. As women we play so many different roles during the course of the day. We are a wife, mom, daughter, sister, confidant, therapist, nurse, cook and household CEO and that is before we ever step foot outside of the house. Therefore, it is vitally important to take some to rejuvenate oneself periodically. Heading to the spa for a full-body massage and foot reflexology was the best decision that we could have made for ourselves, as it set the tone for the remainder of the getaway.
The next item on the MUST DO list was to simply relax. Many ladies will agree that this is easier said than done. But remember the ground rules that were set in place prior to leaving on our Girls Getaway? In order to relax you have to be able to allow your loved ones to handle the day -to -day responsibilities at home. You have to be able to unplug and just be.
Here is where RVing makes its most influential impact. Being able to sit outside and just enjoy nature is so peaceful. The girls and I were able to just talk about things that were important to us as women and sometimes just be plain silly. It was our time.
Last, but certainly not least on our MUST DO list was to eat some good food. Being able to go out with the girls to a trendy food spot in the city that did not offer a kids menu, was priceless!
Our RV has given us so much more than we ever intially thought it would. This getaway would have cost us twice as much if we had to reserve hotel rooms, and we certainly would not have had the peaceful and homelike atmosphere that we enjoyed at the campsite. Yes, our RV has proved to be very instrumental in improving the quality of our vacations and ultimately the quality of our lives.
*Confession…As the day approached to begin this trip I was nervous and unsure of myself. I am so happy that I soldiered through my apprehensions, because it was so worth it. Not only am I more confident in my abilities to travel solo, I am so happy that I was able to share some much needed girl time with these incredible ladies.
As most folks know by now, I am all about helping people positively connect with nature in any way they can. My travels as founder and chief instigator for Outdoor Afro have helped several thousands get their nature swagger back through outdoor recreation. We have come to appreciate RV experiences over the years just as much as the back-country treks that allow you to carry all you need on your back.
We have had the pleasure to RV in California’s Sierra foothills along the American River with a teardrop trailer in tow, used a larger RV to camp the awe-inspiring Big Sur, and have been regulars at KOAs up and down the California coast. This time, we decided to grab a Type C motorhome, and head to iconic Yosemite National Park!
An RV is a comfortable lodge on wheels from which to pursue a mind-boggling variety of camp destinations and public lands. You can just roll up, and anchor your family in nature and enjoy the pop-up communities all over America!
My family is still chattering and reminiscing about our whirlwind RV adventure that jumped off from our home in Oakland, California. We wove our way through California’s Central Valley and scenic rolling woodland foothills to ascend the majestic forests of Yosemite National Park near our destination at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort — our weekend basecamp.
Thanks to the folks at Go RVing, we were loaned a Type C- motorhome from El Monte RV, suitable for our family of four — me, my partner the indomitable co-captain Rodney, with our teen roadies Arwen and Will. There was plenty of room for cooking, eating, lounging, and sleeping for all of us with room to spare for two additional youths.
This RV was the largest we have driven, yet it handled smoothly with great visibility and fewer blind spots than our SUV at home. Anyone who feels comfortable driving a truck or minivan will manage navigation with a Type C well, with no special licensing required. Inside, we had all the comforts of home with a four burner stove, oven, refrigerator/freezer, and tons of cabinet storage that locked securely keeping our belongings tucked away in case of any bumps in the road. The rear contained a queen sized bed and upfront there is a full-sized cab over sleeping area. Adding to the convenience was an onboard shower and bathroom with a flush toilet – so thankfully, no middle of the night, chilly treks to the bathroom for us!
Before picking up our RV, we made runs to our local grocery store with lists for our carefully planned meals decided on by the family the night before. We also saved money by bringing a bunch of items we already had from home, like garbage bags, cleaning supplies, spices, pots and pans, bedding, linens; and other pantry items measured in just the right amounts for our favorite weekend recipes (can’t leave home without my grits!).
Grits provide a hearty and hot camp morning base topped with breakfast meats, eggs, shrimp, or sauteed veggies for a complete breakfast!
Leaving early afternoon on a Friday allowed us to spend a leisurely four hours on the road from the RV pick-up, and we used a travel app to weave around the usual traffic. By 5pm, we arrived at the resort with plenty of light on our side to tour the site, and selected one of their first-come-first serve spacious and shaded camp spaces.
Yosemite Lakes RV Resort sits in a prime location overlooking a beautiful river landscape, just minutes from Yosemite’s entrance with options for all styles of campers. Guests can drive in and select a cozy yurt that overlooks the scenic river, stay in a park model cabin, or pitch a tent along the developed hillside if they don’t have their own RV.
The hospitality and check-in at the campground was warm, quick, and informative thanks to our cool camp ranger Jeremy. And at our site, we were able to get our water and electricity hooked up within minutes before we took off to explore the campground’s many other amenities. With a television and Wi-Fi in the main lodge, the teens and man were eager to unwind from our marathon preparations and drive, catch a glimpse of Game 3 of the World Series, and share some of our adventure on social media before settling in for dinner.
By nightfall, we were more than ready to throw down on the grill some pre-marinated steaks, along with garlicky potatoes and asparagus, before the evening campfire with ranger Jeremy.
We finally tucked in for the night after the last toasted marshmallow was consumed, with lots of family jokes and giggles, excitedly looking forward to the splendor of Yosemite Valley the next morning.
Our adventure was well underway. Stay tuned for Part 2!