Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cool Paces to Visit in San Diego…


As I mentioned in our previous blog we have been acting as tour guides of the San Diego area since our daughter Katie and her boyfriend Brooks are here for a visit. The day they flew in they stayed their first three nights in an Air BnB which we had no previous experience with  They found a wonderful place to stay at a great price and the couple who hosted them were very welcoming. They really enjoyed their time there and we were delighted when the couple gifted them with some delicious Satsuma tangerines from their backyard tree.


On day 4 they moved over to our RV so things became a bit cramped in Abbey we all navigated our way around in around 400 square feet. This was Brooks first time to San Diego so we wanted to share the sights and sounds of this awesome city. One must-stop for all travelers is a visit to the huge cross at Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial. Not only is the memorial interesting but there are no finer 360 degree views of the surrounding area of greater San Diego than from atop this peak.


From atop visitors can see into Mexico and the city of San Diego to the south. Also visible are La Jolla, Torrey Pines, University of San Diego and many other features. We also looked down into Mission Bay where we are staying and saw the beautiful coastline from Pacific Beach down to Coronado Island. This was a great spot to point out all the places we were either going to visit or already had.


Brooks is an avid golfer so of course we had to take him over to see one of the most famous public courses in all of America, Torrey Pines. This magnificent and very scenic golf course sits atop some shear coastal cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Two championship 18-hole golf courses can be found here as well. Brooks found a souvenir Torrey Pines shirt and we wandered around the course a while to take pictures before moving on.


We also spent some time walking around downtown Gaslamp District of San Diego taking in all the sights including a stop near Petco Ballpark. Of course no visit to San Diego is complete without a stop at the Saturday Little Italy Farmer’s Market. This is one of the largest markets we have visited during our travels however the Portland Oregon market is still our all time favorite.


We have plenty more to see and do with Katie and Brooks before Brooks has to leave to fly back to North Carolina…

NOTE: We will be here at Mission Bay RV Park in San Diego California until December 4th.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New RV Surround Receiver and Side Camera…


Our time in San Diego has not been all fun and games as there are some looming repairs needed while we are able to have packages delivered. Before our arrival in San Diego I had a side view camera fail. This camera is supposed to come on when I use my right turn signal and the on the on-board display allows me to see down the right side of the RV making the “blind spot”… well not blind!


I really love my side view cameras so I took the old camera off which turned out to not be so easy. After much consternation I successfully removed the camera and its casing. It appeared to have a lot of corrosion inside the casing making me assume water had gotten inside it. I attempted cleaning and reconnecting the camera hoping for the best but it continue to fail. I called a few places looking for a replacement only to discover they no longer make my camera!!!


Finally I made a call to Tiffin to see if they had a replacement or could make a recommendation. They told me they had a new version but it might not fit the old casing. I ordered it and was able to install it but they were right about the casing so it looks completely different than the other one. Not sure what I’ll do about that yet but at least it works now. And for only $350.00! Yes that’s right, that little camera cost $350… what a scam. We RV’ers always seem to pay a high price for replacement parts.


Well our receiver for our surround sound system also failed about the same time as the camera. I did a lot of research and narrowed my choices down to following recievers:

Yamaha RX-V381BL (275)
5.1-channel, 70 watts per channel surround sound and the dimensions are 17-1/8"W x 5-5/16"H x 12-7/8"D

Yamaha RX-V481 (400)
5.1-channel, 80 watts per channel and the dimensions are 17-1/8"W x 6-3/8"H x 12-7/8"D (8-3/4"H with Wi-Fi antenna raised)

Yamaha RX-S601BL (600)
Slimline 5.1-channel amplifier, 60 watts per channel and the dimensions are 17-1/8"W x 4-3/8"H x 13-1/16"D (6-15/16"H with Wi-Fi antenna up)

Onkyo TX-NR646 (300)
7-channel amplifier, 100 watts per channel with +Dolby Atmos and DTS-X and the dimensions are 17-1/8"W x 6-13/16"H x 13-5/8"D

Harman Kardon AVR 1610S (260)
5.1-channel, 85 watts per channel 17-3/8"W x 4-13/16"H x 11-13/16"D

Denon AVR-S510BT 180.00
5.2-channel amplifier, 75 watts per channel and the dimensions are 17-3/16"W x 5-15/16"H x 13-9/16"D

Denon AVR-S710W ($479)
7.2-channel amplifier, 80 watts per channel and the dimensions are 17-1/8"W x 5-15/16"H x 13-9/16"D (8-1/2"H with Wi-Fi antennas up)

Sony STRDN1060  7-channel amplifier, 100 watts per channel and the dimensions are 17"W x 6-13/16"H x 13-5/8"D

After reading all the reviews I finally settled on the Onkyo TX-NR646. Each of the ones listed above were worthy replacements but I chose the one I did as it offered all the new technology in sound so if or when I upgrade the TV it will accommodate all the newer technology. Hopefully if anyone else needs to replace their RV home theater receiver these models I listed will save them some research. I included the dimensions as they are very important when replacing receivers in an RV!

Product Details

Of course after receiving it I discovered I needed a powered sub-woofer for that deep base sound and not the passive (non-powered) sub-woofer I currently own. More research and more money but I found a nice 8” powered subwoofer that would fit in a cabinet under our table and would secure to the wood well without me worrying about it moving around. Lastly, I ordered some banana clips to make hooking it all up easier than twisting down all the wires. So now all I have to do is put it all together… wish me luck!


In the meantime there is always time to squeeze in a nice walk around the De Anza Park surrounding our resort. The older park model areas have now been abandoned as the residents were required to vacate their homes so the city can redesign De Anza Park. This does make the walk a bit creepy as the abandoned homes have taken on a feel of a bad neighborhood with all the shuttered and dilapidated buildings.It is all for progress and of course a better environment as the city will increase the acreage of wetlands and improve the water quality of De Anza Cove.


Well I need to get the projects done before our daughter and her boyfriend arrive from North Carolina so we can hit the ground running on their whirlwind tour…


NOTE: Many of today’s pictures were taken on our many walks along the Pacific Beach boardwalk which we always enjoy… We have been busy here entertaining our daughter and her boyfriend and will be leaving here on December 5th.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Loving La Jolla California…


One place we love to visit while spending time in San Diego is La Jolla. There is no prettier place for a stroll.  The scenery is grand without having to drive very far. It is a short 10-15 minutes north of us where we seek out one of the illusive 3 hour free street parking spots near the La Jolla Cove.


There is always plenty to see…the majestic ocean views, the white sand pocket beaches, the wind and sea carved sandstone cliffs as well as the ever changing waves rolling inland while crashing onto the rocky shoreline slowly taking sand back out to sea.The constant ever changing elements include the weather conditions, abundant bird life, people watching,  the ubiquitous seals, sea lions and intriguing tidal pools.It is almost too much to take in all at once so we feel called to visit often to admire it again and again while embracing whatever it has to offer on any given day.


Along the seaside stroll is the pristine rocky shoreline, the Children's Pool and to the north are the La Jolla Caves. Just past the caves the trail continues along the cliffs on a dirt trail which ends near a high end neighborhood. (Well I guess all the neighborhoods in La Jolla are high end!)  After walking the long stretch we either return the same way we came and stay along the waterfront or we walk inland through the quaint village of La Jolla


Recently we met up with some friends on one of these trips to La Jolla, Dan and Merlene. We first met them in Abbeville Louisiana at Betty’s RV. They are staying nearby and we decided to join forces to reconnect while enjoying a stroll along the waterfront . Afterward we rolled over to the Rock Bottom Brewery who hosts an excellent happy hour where several of their drafts are $3 per pint which is less than half of what many craft beers go for in this area. On Tuesdays there are $6 growler fills….amazing!  We had such fun there we all forgot to snap photos!


The day before we met up with Dan and Merlene we met another couple we had also previously met at Betty’s RV, Rick and Barb. We met them over at Ocean Beach where we had happy hour and dinner at the OB Noodle House (a Diners and Drive-ins featured spot). Not only was the company great the food was fantastic! It would really be cool if all six of us could somehow find a way to get together before we all part ways again but only time will tell if  we can pull that off.


In the meantime we are enjoying living the good life here for our five week stay in beautiful, sunny San Diego..n

NOTE: We will be here at Mission Bay RV Park in San Diego California until December 4th.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A 2016 Updated Buying Guide for RV Kitchens…

What do RV’ers need in their kitchens? Here is a list compiled from many opinions of full-timers regarding what they have, use and or wish they had. I first created this list a year ago but have since updated it for 2016-2017. With Black Friday looming once again here is a summary of items we have found invaluable in our kitchen over the six years we have been full timing.

For those of us living in small spaces with limited storage space and continually moving around we have acquired things that fit this lifestyle to a “T.” Most of these items will either be lightweight or take up little space as those are the two major factors we had to consider when purchasing kitchen items for our RV’s. Many items are items you would use in any kitchen but some are a bit more specialized for this lifestyle. A few items mentioned will simply be those that make life much easier for us in our confined spaces. So what are they?

Common Kitchen Needs – Of course everyone needs silverware and plates, bowls, cups and the basic utensils. So I won’t recommend any particular silverware or basic utensils since most people will just bring those they currently have with them to their RV. But if you don’t already have them make sure you have a good set of SHARP knives.

Now we kept our glass dishes and glasses and simple figured if we were going to live in an RV it should be homey. However, many folks get rid of their dishes and glassware and but Corelle Dishes and plastic glassware including those cool plastic stemless wine glasses.

ZELITE INFINITY Chefs Knife 8 inch - Best Quality Japanese VG10 Super Steel 67 Layer High Carbon Stainless Steel-Razor Sharp, Superb Edge Retention, Stain & Corrosion Resistant! Full Tang Ideal GiftProduct Details

Collapsible Kitchen Items – We have several of these Items such as a the collapsible strainer,  the collapsible measuring cups and the collapsible salad spinner. These collapsible items take up so little space and are easy to clean and sanitary. The colors of the measuring cups also makes it easy to grab the one you want… well, that is after you remember which color goes with which measuring cup!

Premium Collapsible Colander, Strainer, Red, Silicone 1" Flat Space Saver, Hot or Cold Food

NonStick and Heat Resistant Baking Mat Set

We use this all the time when baking as it can be used in the oven, microwave, toaster oven or even freezer. This simply turns any baking sheet into a non-stick surface without having to use oil or cooking spray.  It can also be used as a flexible cookie sheet. They are flexible so are easily stored anywhere!

Heat Resistant Kitchen Spatulas

We love these flexible silicone spatulas that are heat resistant so they won’t warp or melt like plastic ones do. Also since they are solid silicone they have no crevices like wooden ones for bacteria to collect and grow. We like having multiple sizes so we can get all the goodies out of any size container with one of these!

Below are some other kitchen tools that make our life easier and help keep our non-stick pots and pans protected.  These are rated up to 480℉ for handling heat. Now while we don’t have this complete set we do have several of these tools and if I were starting all over this is the set I would want in our RV. Add to this a Silicone Whisk Set and the utensil list is pretty much complete.

We currently still have heavy cutting boards but I would trade them in for a set of these flexible cutting matts. By purchasing a set of these matts in assorted colors with nifty food icons means we could use separate mats for different raw foods thus avoiding any cross-contamination. Cool!  I really don’t know why we don’t own these… maybe I should get us a set for Christmas!

Another item we have that we love for their durability and light weight are our Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls. They are light weight and easy to use and with the polished finish they are easy to clean as well.!

CounterArt Flexible Cutting Mat with Food Icons, Set of 4(Set of 6) Dozenegg Mixing Bowls Standard Weight Stainless Steel, Mirror Finish, 3/4, 11/2, 3, 4, 5, and 8 Qt.

Since we are both short our must have is a Folding Step Stool. Without this much of our storage would simply be unusable. It is great for reaching the higher cabinets and cleaning those otherwise out of reach places. Sharon also loves it for resting her feet on when we are traveling since her feet don’t touch the floor when she is seated in the passenger seat.

One of the things we quite often reach for is our Hand Held Blender.  While this is not the one we have this Hamilton Beach 59765 2 Speed Hand Blender is an almost exact duplicate of the one we bought five years ago. With the attachments we are able to do everything from puree sauces, chop a small amount of vegetables or nuts and even beat egg whites to a a peak. So this is also used as our mixer.  We wouldn’t leave home without one…

Home-it Super quality Folding Step Stool great for kids and adults 11 Inches. Black, holds up to 300 LBSHamilton Beach 59765 2 Speed Hand Blender

While we don’t have one of these many of our RV friends swear they couldn’t live without an Electric Frying Pan. We simply don’t have the storage to have one of these so we list it here simply because so many others love their electric fry pans. They do make them as small as 7 inches which has tempted us but we still have never purchased one. We love our Cast Iron Skillet.  Ours is a small 8” skillet but they make larger ones as well. While these break the rule of lightweight items, we really wouldn’t be happy if we didn’t at least have a small one of these to cook with. Best of all they now sell these pre-seasoned making them ready to use right away!

Product Details

Another item we don’t have that a lot of RV’ers say they love is a toaster oven. Storage is the big issue here for us but for those with more storage space you may want one of these! I think if we were to have one we would probably buy this one -  Hamilton Beach 31334 Easy Reach Toaster Oven. We do have a regular toaster because sometimes we crave toasted bagels! We store ours inside our oven when we travel.

A bulky item we do have but really love is our countertop double burner. The one we currently have has two burners, one at 600 watts and one at 900 watts. We love using this as it frees up counter space and also, let's be real… why pay for propane to use our gas stove when we mainly receive electricity for free. Our one complaint is that it takes a long tome to boil water on 900 watts so I would prefer more wattage. In fact when this one dies we will likely buy one of the newer induction burners. While these are pricier than the one we have the safety it offers is more than worth the additional cost. And we would get one that ranges up to at least 1800 watts as well.

Brentwood Appliances TS-360 Electric Double Burner, 1500-Watt, WhiteDUXTOP 1800-Watt Portable Induction Cooktop Countertop Burner 9100MC

Two items we don’t have but wished we did!

A couple of other small appliances that are nice to have are a compact blender and a nice coffee machine. While we have items that perform these tasks these are two items we would love to get! For RV'ers short on storage space it pays to find a good compact blender. Having yourself this powerful micro blender means not missing out on smoothies or your favorite frozen cocktail. The Ninja Master Prep is, we feel, the one to get for RV’ers but a lot of folks love their Magic Bullet Blender.  Not too small and not too big this blender can whip up favorite beverages in its 48-ounce pitcher. After all any bigger and you might just imbibe a bit too much!

Coffee drinkers typically find space for their favorite coffee maker. We are still using our old trusty Cuisinart while many others make space for their Keurig's or Expresso coffee machines. We figured we would use the Cuisinart until it died. So what would we like to have to replace it? We would love to have a the Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker. This compact coffee maker uses an air pressure brewing process to make 1 to 4 cups of American or espresso style coffee. Boy, as coffee lovers, we would love to have one of these!

While this is not a comprehensive list we thought this would be a good time to share per the request of some of our readers a list of some of our favorite items and a few items we would love to have as well… Hey, fellow RV'ers, chime in with what items you have in your kitchen that you simply can’t live without?

Some items other RV’ers mentioned in the comments and emails are below:

Crockpots can be a real time saver and are great for those days of traveling. We prefer the smaller 4 quart size but there are many other sizes up to 7 quarts in size. Great for making many meals and especially useful for impromptu pot lucks!

Many also mentioned a rice cooker and although we agree they always make perfect rice we don’t have one since we usually make our rice the old fashioned way by boiling water on the stove. If I had more storage I would probably have one though just like I would have a bread machine like the one made by Oster.

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Three larger specialty items were mentioned a lot and although we have one of them I really never considered it part of the kitchen but maybe it really is. That item would be the BBQ Grill. There are two great products to choose from for RV’ers. We currently use the Coleman Grill and love the dual cooking grills it has. One slotted one for cooking meat and another flat one for grilling vegetables. However, many swear by the Weber which I admit may be a better grill but until mine dies I won’t consider replacing it.

Coleman 9949-750 Road Trip Grill LXE and Coleman NXT(TM) RoadTrip® Grill CoverProduct Details

Other specialty items we don’t have but many others do are the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W and the Portable Ice Maker for the Countertop. Now from what I had heard about the Instant Pot I definitely want to get one of these but something else that it replaces will have to break first. However, many RV’ers swear by their Instant pot and from the reviews it sounds like a great RV product! As for the portable icemaker we don’t need one since our refrigerator already makes ice. But for those that don't have one this one is of the Amazon best sellers.

Some odds and end that maybe every RV'ers won’t need but many we know have these items and use them frequently. A Pizza Stone not only comes in handy for making great pizza but you can leave it stored in the bottom of your RV over (if you have one) and it will help distribute heat better in those small ovens. Also for the wine drinkers you will need a nice compact cork screw and some nice stemless wineglasses.

Now I am sure this list is still not comprehensive so add any of your favorite items in the comments below….