Wanna Camp for Free?

Say you get tired on your journey…or you are just not in a hurry…or maybe your budget got sucked dry by an unexpected expense. There are a lot of reasons for not ending up in a campground for the night.

Most everyone knows about free overnight parking at Walmart. All you have to do is check in with the manager at each store first.  I would be careful and do some investigating first, however.  Walmart stores can be in less than favorable areas of town. There are absolutely no amenities except for level ground.

Kmart has recently allowed overnight stays, but are very similar to Walmart – see above.  LOL

Many casinos have become accommodating to RVers as well.  Some also have dump stations and water, but you would have to call ahead to verify amenities.  Built in entertainment is available for those who are inclined.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offers free camping indefinitely if you are traveling across country.  You can stay for 14 days free before you have to choose another site 25 miles away. Please see the following link for more information:

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/Recreation.html

One can boondock just about anywhere if you have the right equipment such as solar power, a large water tank, enough RV storage for food and good organization/planning skills.  You don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere and run out of toilet paper!  Actually, I think I’d be more worried about food and water.  Have you ever seen me hungry?  NOT PRETTY!

There is even a website for boondocking on fellow RVers’ properties.  The site lists hosts by county or state making it a friendly site.  There is an annual fee of $24.95, but if you can also be a host and provide a location, you qualify for a discounted host membership.  So it isn’t totally free, but may take away some stress about safety and give you peace of mind if you freak out without any amenities.  Some hosts provide a safe, legal location that is free to stop for the night. Most hosts only expect guests for 1-3 nights.  Check out how it works for yourself:

https://www.boondockerswelcome.com/content/how-it-works

Camping World is an RV friendly option – sometimes.  It is recommended that RVers call each Camping World to verify their policies.  Some that are on private properties are determined by the property owner. Some local ordinances may not permit overnight parking. Camping World suggests checking with each Camping World store about overnight parking. I’ll assume just for the sake of argument that many of these property owners are RV dealers and campground owners.

Cabela’s sounds like a place I’d like to try.  They have large sites that allow free overnight parking with fresh water and dump stations.  Most also have a kennel for dogs to run and even a place to let horses out to stretch their legs. Some have signs designating overnight RV parking and most require a call. Bass Pro Shops are very similar. You can even shop while you stay!  A win win!

It’s nice to have a few safety nets just in case. Hope this helps!

An RV Tip – Propane and Propane Accessories :-)

propane

I sure have a lot of questions now that we are spending more time in our 5th wheel.  Most questions can be answered by my husband, but it doesn’t solve my curiosity. Sometimes I feel like a little kid:  “How does this work? How do you know blah blah blah?” Do men automatically come with mechanical solutions? It amazes me how he can put something together without instructions.  Not that most men want to read them anyway, but I digress. So I started researching to see what secret tips others have learned, or already knew, along the way.  I thought I’d share in case any of you have any cat traits like me!

Have you ever wondered how much fuel is really in that solid, white propane tank? How can one plan, OCD or not, if you don’t have the facts? Here are a few ways:

Check for dew on your tank first thing in the morning.  Wherever the moisture stops is where the propane level is.

Did you know a propane tank weighs around 30 pounds, plus the tank weight?  That’s one way of doing the math.  I don’t know if I want to travel with a scale, though.  Do you?  I’d rather stay in denial and judge my weight gain, or preferably loss, by the way my clothes fit. If there was a scale in our RV, I couldn’t help but torture myself by standing on it.

My favorite suggestion is to pour boiling water down the side of the tank.  The condensation line is where the propane level is.  Now THAT seems doable to me!

Or you could be like my husband.  He somehow never worries about it.  He just shakes it, or lifts it and says, “AH there’s plenty left”! Maybe that’s because we always have an extra tank for the fire pit and barbecue on hand. So we always have a back up.  But what if we run out of both at the same time?  I’m thinking we should monitor closer when we plan on being off the grid.  Yeah, that’s it.

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Thanksgiving on the Road

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Oh yes – it can be done.  There are lots of ways to pull off Turkey Day in a small space.  We did it last year and it was one of the best holidays we’ve ever had.  We have a new baby in the family now and her mom and dad (our kids) are hosting this year.  We couldn’t pass that up! So we will be celebrating in stix and bricks this year.

Every year I create the menu first – no matter where we have Thanksgiving.  Most times, it is the same.  Once in awhile I’ll add something new if the mood strikes.  Here is a sample of our traditional menu:

Turkey
Dressing
Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Green bean casserole
A veggie my husband will eat (corn) - I'd rather have brussel sprouts (IJS)
Fruit salad

And then there is dessert (oh how I’d like to get some lessons from my bestie, Claudia’s on her homemade pies), but unfortunately, my homemade desserts are not pies.  Those are provided by someone else. Mine are usually cake related (I can do that) or bakery bought.

There are so many ways to roast a turkey if you are in an RV.  Today’s technology has given us many gadgets for our appliance bone yards:

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Nuwave 20326 Pro Digital-Controlled Infrared Tabletop Oven, Black

 

This little handy tabletop oven fits a 16 pound turkey – along with a lot of other things.  It’s actually Convection, Conduction and Infrared.  A dream come true for those who love to cook and experiment in any kitchen.

Another option is a turkey fryer.  I understand fried turkey is delicious, although I’ve never tried it.  It kind of seems dangerous and less healthy, but I’m not judging.  With my luck, I’d set the whole campground and myself on fire.  But it’s a good way for the brave and experienced to get a bird done outside with no fuss and no basting.

Here’s how we did our first turkey on the road.  First, it was made easy by camping with full hookups.  I have (had) a favorite roasting pan.  It was the perfect size for a small roast, potatoes and carrots dinner all in one pan.  I was sure it would fit in our small oven, but it was just a bit too large.  So my husband sawed the handles off !  It fits perfectly now and I still get to use it.  We put a pampered chef stone in the bottom of the oven to disburse heat evenly, added an oven thermometer to monitor the eat and boo-yah – it worked!  I will definitely do this again – with or without electricity.  Propane is very useful and efficient!

Next – since I was on vacation and doing most of the cooking myself, I didn’t want to risk ignoring the turkey and ending up with a dry mess.  So I put some fresh garlic cloves in a self-basting roasting bag, washed and rubbed down the bird with olive oil, garlic and a poultry rub and threw it in the bag.  The best turkey we ever had. Period. And so easy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t eat the skin, I don’t care what the turkey looks like and the most important thing to me is moisture and taste.  So for us – it was perfect!

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving – on or off  the road!  I know I’m definitely taking one day to indulge!

See you soon!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Harvest Hosts

Would you like a unique overnight stay with a view?  Do you like wine, farms or different experiences on the road?  How about spending the night for free? Interesting and fun locations including wine tasting, museums, homegrown produce or farm tours await you.  Some even have gift shops with homemade crafts perfect for holiday shopping.

All you need is a self-contained RV (no tents or pop-up trailers) and a membership.  You can purchase one online for $44 per year, or $40 with an automatic renewal option.

Hosts include wineries, breweries, open-air museums, wildlife rescues, fruit and vegetable farms, orchards, flower and herb gardens, dairies and creameries.

Per the website:

As a member you will be able to:

  • Customize Host lists
  • Download Host Directories
  • Search maps of the Host locations
  • Create custom trip routing
  • Upload and read comments, reviews and photos directly on the Host pages

Here is a map of locations:

nov-map

 

There are only a few things asked of you as a guest of the hosts:

*Be sure to call ahead. *Arrive during business hours. *Show your Host your membership card for the current year. *Park only in areas indicated. *Use any facilities with moderation.  *Take trash with you. *Ensure water tank is full and waste tanks empty.  *Do not empty gray water. *Never light fires or BBQs. *No awnings. *Take care with children. *Keep all pets on leash and pick up after them. *Ask before using your generator. *Do not stay longer than 24 hours without permission.

Not much to ask for a free overnight stay (or more with prior permission).  I can’t wait to try our membership out!

If you’d like to check it out for yourself, click here.

Happy Camping!!

Fall – Colors without Fluff

Here is another writing prompt in the 500 Word Challenge by Jeff Goins:

“Cut the fluff. Write 500 words without using the word “that” or “very”. Try to use absolutely no adverbs (hint: “absolutely” is an adverb). See how much stronger your writing is when you just get to the point? Why not just do that all the time? Don’t worry. You can have your fluff back tomorrow, but see what you can learn from this exercise.”

Fall – Colors without Fluff

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between fall and autumn? I had to Google it for the sake of my own curiosity. Fall and autumn are the only season with two names and originally called Harvest. Fall is an Old English name brought to the New World from Britain, but it is unknown when or where the name autumn originated. American English primarily uses fall (fall of the leaf) and British English uses autumn almost exclusively.

My favorite season is fall for many reasons: Cooler weather begins, beautiful colors appear from the tops of trees to the earth, and the holiday season is just around the corner. The transition between summer and winter represents a break in extreme temperatures like fresh, crisp air after a heavy rain.

Summer heat has always been uncomfortable unless the ocean, a lake or river was at my disposal. Hot air sucks the breath, energy and life right out of me. Maybe I have no energy because I cannot breathe. I find it difficult and timely to cool down once overheated as well. Not only am I uncomfortable, but I am miserable a long time!

Cold or freezing temperatures are more tolerable, but still not ideal. I have always been of the opinion that cooler weather is easier because one can always add clothes to get warm. Summer weather does not always afford the opportunity to remove clothes to cool down. Sometimes it wouldn’t matter if all of them were removed anyway! Either choice – cold or hot climates leave me searching for warm shelter or relief from an air conditioner and water.

The beginning of fall is beautiful with red, orange and yellow leaves on the trees. The perfect temperature means being able to spend time outdoors to take in spectacular sunsets in living color. The cozy decorations of gourds, sunflowers, aromatic candles and earth tones are homey and soothing. Childhood memories of Halloween make it one of my favorite holidays. I always looked forward to scavenger hunts, going door to door for candy, eating popcorn balls and dressing in costume. Happy times.

AND FOOTBALL STARTS IN THE FALL! Who can forget American tradition and all its glory? Holidays would have certainly been different without the whole family gathered around the TV for the San Francisco 49ers, chips and dip and laziness at its best. It meant Thanksgiving, our large and traditional family gathering would be right around the corner.

A candlelit house, a roaring fireplace, a roast with fixings in the oven, and a football game on the television means fall to me. I love walking outside on the first day fall is in the air. It happened today. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to write this until I could feel it. Maybe my love for the season is why there are sunflowers in our house all year. The yellow, happy flower reminds me of what good feels like.