Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas to All From Sunny Florida…

Image may contain: one or more people, beach and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoorWow another Christmas Day is upon us and boy do we have so much to be thankful for this year. We have been on the road nearly 7 years now and our finances have held up enough that we haven't had to supplement our income and for that we are very thankful. Better yet are heath continues to be good allowing us (unlike so many) to continue are journeys into the foreseeable future. When will we stop… we certainly don’t know yet ourselves.

Our RV continues to impress us by not having any major issues (knock on wood) and the issues we have been having are primarily due to wear and tear. We are in the slow process of “pimping our ride” as we were able to replace some of our flooring (all our tile) this year and have plans to find and replace the remaining carpeted are soon.


Also in the coming year we plan to replace many of our day/night shades to something more modern. Ours have continued to fail and I have replaced the strings on multiple occasions but some of the hardware is beginning to fail on some of them and really we can’t seem to ever get them  to look clean again so it is time for them to go. There are several options we are looking at and none of them are very inexpensive. Also, most of them require some type of modification of our existing valances so we have much research to do before we replace them.

We are thankful we had no major mishaps on our travels this past year and hope to continue that fortune well into the foreseeable future. We traveled through 20 states this year covering many miles all fraught with immediate peril to which we did not succumb. What a fantastic year of travels.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, drink and indoorAnd while we won’t be spending Christmas with family this year as we have in years past we are thankful that we got to spend some extended time with each of our children in North Carolina and Texas, as well as our grandchildren in Texas. We know that if we weren’t traveling we would have surely not been able to spend as much time last year with them as we did. It is our travels that allow us that opportunity and it also allows us the opportunity to reconnect with many of our friends (new and old). It is our friends and family along with our travels that enrich our lives so very, very much.

And since we have had a good year we decided to reward ourselves with a vacation from our nearly seven year vacation as we have booked a cruise on the Holland American Eurodam that sails the Caribbean on January 7th 2018 for seven nights. We have not been on a cruise in a long time and look forward to relaxing those seven days. This was one heck of deal at $399 per person plus port fees and taxes. It also included pre-paid gratuities and on-board credit. And although this is a large expense for us we have taken the plunge and look forward to enjoying our time at sea…

NOTE: We are now in our winter home for the next several months in Bonita Springs Florida at Imperial Bonita Estates RV park and Coop.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Reorganizing our Closet and Other Chores…

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Time seems to be compressing as we get closer to Christmas Day. We have been busy here doing tasks on the motorhome and of course enjoying the 80 degree afternoons and pleasant evenings.

One major undertaking was repairing our bedroom closet. Five years ago I basically gutted our closet (it really only had a closet rod for hanging clothes on) and converted it into a more functional space. Using a closet organizer I bought at Lowes I attached some supports on the back wall and hung wire shelves to increase the usable space in the closet. It has performed well over the last five years but this summer a big bounce as we were crossing a railroad track pulled out one of the closet rod supports.

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So we basically took everything out of the closet and took advantage of that situation to discard any items and clothing we hadn't been using over the last several years. Then I had to reattach the supports in places so the structure would be strong and support the load of clothes and items we have stored iin our closet. It took the better part of a day but our closet in back in tip top shape.

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Getting the closet cleaned and organized led us to cleaning out the bathroom storage area as well. While in the bathroom we also had a very minor leak on the base of our shower enclosure that i needed to apply a small bead of silicone caulk along the bottom of. This easy patch keeps the water inside the shower enclosure where it belongs.

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I also replaced the slow burn fuse in our slide out that I finally found. I had a 30 amp non- slow blow fuse in it that worked but was not what is needed. Also taking advantage of having an address we got online and registered both our vehicles in Texas. We are once again legal on the road…

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, drink and indoorAnother small task was to repair a spring that had broken in one of our dining room chairs. I had to be a bit creative but was able to re-secure the spring using a makeshift anchor. Hopefully it will last a good while and if not we can always take it in to an upholstery shop to get property repaired.

We also renewed our Good Sam's membership and renewed our Good Sam's Roadside Assistance plan. The Good Sam's Roadside Assistance plan has sure saved our bacon a few times and we wouldn’t be on the road with out it. Speaking of bacon we have been taking advantage of the warm evenings here to grill some great food and of course we have made time to check out a few watering holes.

Well with Christmas coming I hope everyone out there ahs found a great spot o be for the holidays. Whether it is in a nice campground, a remote boondocking site or back home to see the family here is to hoping everyone has a great Christmas break…

NOTE: We are now in our winter home for the next several months in Bonita Springs Florida at Imperial Bonita Estates RV park and Coop.

Friday, December 15, 2017

2017 Updated Buying Guide for RV Kitchens…

With Christmas looming I thought this would be a good time to come up with a list items we have found invaluable in our kitchen over the last seven 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 one must consider when purchasing kitchen items for RV’s. A few items on the list will simply be those that make life much easier for us in our confined spaces. So what are they?

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!

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 new T-Fal 12.5” skillet that. We recently replaced our very favorite Cast Iron Skillet with this one and it’s non-stick capability is simply amazing!   Eggs simply never stick in this pan!

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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!  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 new Instapot. While we have items that perform these tasks these are two items we would love to get! For RVers 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.  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!

The Instapot is one of the hottest kitchen products around now and they come in all varieties. Once our crockpot dies we will most likely replace it with one of these. We find it hard to buy one now when our crock pot works just fine. So it is on our Christmas wish list for now.

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 Kuerigs 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 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!

New on Sharon’s wish list this year are some Airtight Storage Containers. We had some aluminum ones with clamping styled lids that broke. So we bought some inexpensive ones at an Aldi’s Grocery Store that we loved except they were too cheap and the lids are failing. So after we ditch these we will replace them with higher quality ones. We love being able to see what's inside and the best part is that they keep all the bugs on the outside for that inevitable time you get invaded by ants. Although they are a bit pricey we figure one ant invasion thwarted will pay for them by saving the contents inside!

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 RVers, chime in with what items you have in your kitchen that you simply can’t live without?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Doing Minor RV Repairs and We Love our Awning Shade Attachment…


We have slowly settled into our site here in Bonita Springs Florida for the winter. It is always fun to set up all of our more “permanent stuff” when we have these extended stays. One of our favorite long term stay items is our extended awning shade screen we bought several winters ago. It creates a sense of privacy and of course a sunscreen from the glaring sun when facing the west which we are this season. I simply attach it to our awning with little “S-hooks” which are also used to hang our Christmas lights on. It is surprising how much cooler it keeps not only the outdoor area but inside as well…


For wind protection I attach our screen to the ground two ways. First I use a good quality rock climbing rope to tie off the corners. I use this type of rope since it has a lot of give and spring to it letting the awning flex in higher wind gusts. I attach the rope by looping it over the awning bars and then I use a corkscrew type anchor to tie it off on. After both corners are secured I use tent stakes a few more cork screw anchors to tie of the bottom  so it will flare outwards and help secure the awning screen. I love, love , love the little room this set up creates.


We have been spending mornings after breakfast walking around our large park. We also have been ticking off repair items piled up over the course of this year's travels since last winter. Obviously we fix major items as needed but smaller items and items that can be put off  just get put on a list until we get somewhere for an extended stay. This way we can order items and have them delivered so we slowly accomplish every task on our repair list.

A few items i needed to order were a new drain “pop-up center” for our bathroom sink and a new drain screw for the bathroom shower. Our RV is almost 10 years old so these items had rusted completely through. A long screw holds the shower drain in place and it had actually rusted in half leaving part of it in the baseplate it screwed into. I had to drill out the baseplate and rethread it so I could plug in a new screw down drain. Thankfully the drain/stopper in the bathroom was much easier to replace.


I would suggest that if you haven’t done so is to check and see if your screw holding your drain in the shower can turn without disintegrating. If you can get the screw out take it to your nearest Lowes or Ace Hardware to buy a stainless steel screw. as stainless steel will never rust and then you will never have to replace your drain like we did.

I also had to replace the small LED bulb which burnt out in our water pump indicator switch. I hate it when these burn out since it makes it so you never know if your water pump is on or off. These are very easy to fix and for less than a buck you can get two replacement bulbs. It is a bit tricky getting the old light bulb out and I chose to solder it back in place but others choose to wrap the wire leads around to the posts on the other side of the switch. If you don't understand what I am talking about  this link will explain in detail how to replace the LED bulb.


It sure is nice having a mailing address so we can easily get needed items for our repairs. I have many more things to repair but at least we have gotten off to a good start. After repairs, we will go through every drawer and cabinet to purge and organize. Such is life during extended stays on our Road of Retirement.

NOTE: We are now in our winter home for the next several months in Bonita Springs Florida at Imperial Bonita Estates RV park and Coop.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Made it to Bonita Springs Florida for the Winter…


Well we had a very short drive down to Bonita Springs Florida. We will be staying at Imperial Bonita Estates, a park we have stayed at before. This year we expected it to be different. So the day before we needed to be there we drove the 20 drive south in our CRV to check out the site they assigned to us. We had some concerns since it was on the street that had the worst damage from Hurricane Irma and the worst flooding from the Imperial River.


Sure enough our site was smack in the middle of two heavily damaged park models that are both slated to be destroyed and hauled off later in December. So we went to the park’s office and asked if any other sites were available and luckily for us there were three others. So we selected another site on one of the two roads we originally preferred to be staying on anyhow. Although the park is still showing signs of the extensive damage from the hurricane and flooding we think we will still enjoy our winter stay here. We better… as we will be here for three months not leaving until March 1st, 2018.


One other task I tackled while we were in Fort Myers was I decided to take on the task of replacing my CAC hose that I bought in Jacksonville Florida. Remember the Cummins Service Center there wanted $1000 to install this hose and had they managed us better they would have gotten that $1000 too. Well even without the right tools and without the knowledge of the tricks to replacing the hose it took me less than three hours to get the task done. I would have saved an hour if I had insert the hose first at the pipe end inside the RV rather the the pipe end from the outside of the RV. Nonetheless, we saved $1000 so I felt as if I got paid $333.00 per hour to do it myself.


The drive to Bonita Springs was uneventful but best of all we had no whooshing or squealing sound from our engine. So it appears as if my repair was the key to getting rid of the noise and apparently I did it right since it never squealed. Hooray!!!


The first few days at Imperial Bonita Estates (know as IBE to my readers for now on) we mostly spent time getting set up and organized. However, there was one event we simply had to attend as we have always had a good time at the Greyhound Race Track on their “Dollar Days” promotion. Sure enough we had a great time and even won several of our bets. No big winners but when hotdogs, beer and popcorn are only a dollars each we come out winners anyhow…

NOTE: We are now in our winter home for the next several months in Bonita Springs Florida at Imperial Bonita Estates RV park and Coop.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Few Hikes Near Fort Myers Florida…

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Although we spent most of our time in Fort Myers staying at our fabulous RV resort we did make time to go on a couple of hikes. One was a nice hike I would rate four stars and the other one was pleasant but not more than a two star hike..

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Although I rated the Prairie Pines Preserve Trail a two star hike it was still good and worth taking the trail for a change of scenery. The boardwalk loop trail we picked was very short but took us though a nice representative stand of habitats typical in this part of Florida. The preserve has about 20 miles of trails but most were closed due to Hurricane Irma damage so we might have missed some of the better trails.


The other hike I rated higher was at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. It had just recently re-opened after having been closed to clean up damage from the hurricane. It has a wonderful loop trail which is mostly on a boardwalk that meanders through a beautiful young swamp. The boardwalk trail is less than 1.3 miles but requires one to walk very slowly to take in all that there is to see and experience. Volunteers are seen throughout the park answering visitor questions and pointing out wildlife.

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There was a parking fee of $1 per hour at this preserve but definitively worth the small price to pay to enjoy this saved piece of Florida wilderness. Even in late fall there was much to see. Turtles and snails were everywhere as we approached each of the small lakes within the preserve. We saw American Alligators resting on one the two ramps made by park staff. At first I was put off by these unnatural ramps but then got to thinking that they were probably great lounging places for the alligators since so many people traipse through the park.

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Water snakes were hidden in the swampland below the boardwalk and wading birds were milling around in search of a nice tidbit to eat. Small birds were flitting around and hawks were trolling the area as well. However the best sighting of all was spotting three young wild pigs barging through the thick swampy underbrush while pushing their snouts deep into the soil in search of a morsel. We watched the three little pigs mill around and feed to their hearts content. Standing quietly on the boardwalk we were within 10 to 20 feet of them most of the time, What fun that was…

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NOTE: We are now in our winter home for the next several months in Bonita Springs Florida at Imperial Bonita Estates RV park and Coop.