Category Archives: RV Parks

Riverview Campground (Waco, Texas)

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Riverview Campground seems to be out in the boonies when you transition from the highway to the back roads that take you to it.  But it’s actually  just 15 minutes from downtown Waco and the dealership where Mike was working. Be careful driving those rural routes, though.  You might have to navigate around roosters in the middle of the road like we did!

RiverviewCampground5

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Riverview is a lovely park with pull-throughs, full hook-ups, and paved sites.  We paid $30 a day for our 50-amp, full hook-up, pull-through spot that included Wi-Fi.

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Amenities include a brand new laundry room/shower building and a small play area for the kids. The property has three different club houses for large or small RV clubs.  Next to an in-ground, salt water swimming pool is a large dog run with a park bench and a couple of trees to provide shade from the sun.

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

We celebrated our six-month anniversary of being on the road while we were there in early January.  Most of the trees were bare.  We figure it’d be beautiful in the spring, summer and fall when the leaves and flowers are in full bloom.

Warrior RV Park (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

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 cable, campgrounds, full hook-ups, Oklahoma, photography, propane, pull-throughs, travel, Tulsa, Warrior RV Park, Wi-Fi

Mike was working at Myers-Duren Harley-Davidson, so our next stop after Waco was Tulsa. We chose Warrior RV Park because it was fairly close to the dealership, had good reviews, and was reasonably priced. $28 a day included a pull-through site with full hook-ups and a grassy strip with a picnic table.

 cable, campgrounds, full hook-ups, Oklahoma, photography, propane, pull-throughs, travel, Tulsa, Warrior RV Park, Wi-Fi

Warrior RV Park has 38 pull-throughs with 30- or 50-amp service and concrete pads that are 8 feet by 15 feet. There are also 17 back-in spots with 30-amp service.  There’s a dumpster on the back side for trash along with a larger grassy area for walking the dogs.  The highway runs next to the park, so it can be loud.  Our rig’s insulation kept the road noise to minimum when we were inside. A bathroom/laundry building is roughly in the center of the park.  The park has decent free Wi-Fi and a ridiculously large selection of free cable channels.  We especially appreciated the propane tank on property because we wanted to have plenty of propane as we headed out to Milwaukee.

 cable, campgrounds, full hook-ups, Oklahoma, photography, propane, pull-throughs, travel, Tulsa, Warrior RV Park, Wi-Fi

My memories of our stay in Tulsa will always be bittersweet. We had to say goodbye to our Charlie kitty while we were there.  He developed a saddle thrombus in the afternoon on January 14th that cut off the blood supply to his legs.  Mike was able to leave work early, bringing the Jeep with him, and we took Charlie to a vet Mike’s students had recommended.  The vet and his assistant were very kind, but there was nothing they could do to save our boy.  Since Charlie was 23 years old, we knew his time was going to come soon.  It still broke our hearts, though, to have to let him go.  He was with me for half my life, and he’s irreplaceable.

When I learned that the wife of the couple that owns the park rescues cats, I gave her Charlie’s leftover food and made sure to buy a chocolate bar that she sells for fundraising.  I rescued Charlie all those years ago, and it made me feel good to help someone else trying to do the same.

 cable, campgrounds, full hook-ups, Oklahoma, photography, propane, pull-throughs, travel, Tulsa, Warrior RV Park, Wi-Fi

The Vineyards Campground (Grapevine, Texas)

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 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

We stopped for a couple of days in Grapevine, Texas, to visit our friend Jim before heading to work in Waco.  The Vineyards Campground was lovely even in the bareness of winter. Our “gold” spot right on the lake was just $75 for a two-day stay, and it came with a complimentary wine tasting. A sweet perk! We had a spacious, circular pull-through site with full hook-ups and our own private deck overlooking the water.

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

We made good use of the complimentary Wi-Fi and cable, and our first day was warm enough that we gave the RV a much-needed bath.  Unfortunately, the temps dropped significantly after that so we didn’t get to enjoy the extensive amenities at the park:

  • Bicycle rentals
  • Boat ramp
  • Children’s playground
  • Courtesy docks
  • Regular activity programs
  • Family swim beach
  • Fishing pier
  • Golf cart rentals
  • Group pavilion
  • Horseshoe pit
  • Kayak rentals
  • Nature trail
  • Paddle boat rentals
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Disc Golf
  • Board games
  • Complimentary coffee/popcorn while supplies last each day

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

A pack of geese roamed among the rigs every day, and I discovered that these birds can be aggressive!  As I was snapping pics of them with my iPhone, one came rushing toward me, necked extended, loud honks coming from it’s open beak.  I guess he wasn’t a fan of the paparazzi!

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

6 months on the road!

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travel, photography, Waco, Texas, RVing, full-time, full-timing, living on the road, Riverview Campground

The whole fam on a rainy morning at Riverview Campground in Waco, Texas, on our six-month anniversary of full-time RVing

Today is our six-month anniversary of full-timing.  Woohoo!  We bought the rig on May 21st, spent several VERY hot weeks clearing out our rental home and rehabbing the rig, and ultimately left Vegas on July 8th.  It’s been a quite an adventure ever since.

Highlights:

  • Cheapest campground (with full hook-ups): $16 a day at Main Street Station (would be $14 but they charge $1 per dog)
  • Most expensive campground (with full hook-ups): approximately $70 a day (can’t remember which one exactly; gotta keep better records of that)
  • Average stay in one spot: 1 week
  • Longest time spent in one spot so far: Milwaukee for five weeks
  • Miles driven: 13,467
  • States: 28
  • Most epic commute: driving over 2000 miles in 3 days from Milwaukee to Vegas in late December through snow, sleet and ice storms
  • Easiest commute: driving from Brookline, New Hampshire, to Stowe, Vermont, in late November under clear skies and light traffic
  • Sweetest moment: There have been so many sweet moments!  But if we had to choose, it’s been seeing all three of Mike’s daughters in the same year.  (That hadn’t happened since our wedding in 2009!)
  • Toughest moment: Leaving Vegas for the second time after visiting over Christmas

Work

Mike’s business as a technical trainer was already going well before we left Vegas.  The constant travel involved was what prompted us to hit the road in the RV in the first place.  Transitioning to the RV lifestyle has opened up other work opportunities for him.  This summer, during his normally slow period, he had the chance to work as a mechanic on Harley-Davidson’s demo fleet.  And now there’s a brand new, very exciting gig he’ll be doing for Harley, starting in a couple of weeks.  Those two opportunities would not have happened if we hadn’t been mobile.  And there’s the prospect of more cool stuff on the horizon.

I gave up my job as Deputy Administrator for the State of Nevada’s Housing Division to do freelance work on the road.  It’s been hard for me emotionally to shift from my identity as an accomplished professional.  Although this change is allowing me to nurture a creative career, it’s been discouraging to make a quarter of what I made before.

Freelancing is fickle and challenging, as I’m learning firsthand.  I’ve been sussing out my niche, and I think I’m on to something with Coffice Girl.  I frequently work in coffee shops and teahouses that offer free Wi-Fi, and I’ve started to profile those workspaces that I call “coffices” (cafe + office = coffice).  Over the next year, I will continue to develop Coffice Girl into my brand – focusing on my freelance writing, social media and illustration and celebrating the freelance lifestyle as well as small, local coffee and tea shops.  I am lucky in that I have consistent paying work (social media posting and strategy, writing, web design, virtual book marketing) and have had interesting, unexpected gigs (like working Harley’s 110th) come my way.  And, if we lived at Main Street Station (or someplace equally as cheap), I could even cover my own living expenses without Mike’s salary.  Still, staying positive about my new career is sometimes a struggle.

Friends & Community

When we got back to Vegas, after 5 1/2 months away, my friend Kimberly asked me, over dinner, if I’d been lonely.  I thought about it for a moment and realized that I had not been lonely, which struck me as odd initially.  I think, though, that it was because we’d seen so many people on our travels up to that point.  We saw all three of Mike’s daughters within a couple of months.  While we were on the east coast, we saw my mum and dad and their significant others, and I saw a girlfriend I hadn’t seen for seven years.  We saw my aunt and uncle while we were in North Carolina.  In Viriginia Beach, Mike was reunited with a cousin he hadn’t seen for over 20 years.  Mike’s brothers visited us in DC a few months after we left Vegas.  Then, we were back in Vegas to see all of our friends for Christmas.  I Skyped with one girlfriend a couple of times and kept up with everyone else through Facebook, e-mail, text messages and phone calls, which helped me feel connected.

Returning to Vegas and then leaving again was heartbreaking.   Being back in the nice weather, getting to see all the people I love and love to laugh with, seeing how my cherished city is blossoming was so wonderful, and I just wanted to stay.  Even Mike, who hadn’t been missing home as much as me during our first six months, felt it.  He has especially missed his North Las Vegas airport community and being able to fly regularly.

Milwaukee is as close as we come to a home base, since Mike teaches there one week a month from October through March, and thankfully, we have great friends there.  So, there is a community for us in Milwaukee, especially for Mike because he’s been working there for several years.

Health

One benefit we anticipated from moving into the RV was that Mike would get healthier.  In some ways, he has, and in some ways, he hasn’t.  The RV lifestyle is more physical than sticks-and-bricks living, so Mike’s moving more than he was.  But, he’s not eating as healthfully as we’d hoped for two reasons: 1) the tendency to nosh while driving and 2) eating out more than cooking in.

I am in my 12th year of a lifestyle change in which I lost over 100 pounds.  One of my biggest fears, going on the road, was that boredom and depression over leaving my friends and work would lead to overeating.  I am about 20 pounds heavier than I want to be right now, but I am maintaining my weight, just like I had been in Vegas over the last couple of years.  With the bad weather we’ve encountered on the road, I’ve had to change up my exercise routine.  I’ve found great workouts I can easily do in the rig (JessicaSmithTV.com), and I exercise about six days a week.  Mike bought me a FitBit Flex for Christmas, so I’m back to logging my food intake, as I did in the beginning.  Controlling my eating will always be difficult for me, but at least it hasn’t been made worse by RVing.

I am an avid obstacle racer, and traveling has both helped and hindered that.  It’s been hard to have a consistent OCR schedule because we’re not in one place.  Conversely, I’ve had the chance to do races in differenct locales that I normally never would.  It’s been easier to find running races at the last minute, so I’ve done more of those than obstacle events.  Mike has started coming along so that we “wog” (walk-jog) them together!

travel, photography, Waco, Texas, RVing, full-time, full-timing, living on the road, Riverview Campground

Expenses

We figured that Mike’s salary and the money he previously spent on airfare, rental cars and hotels would more than cover our living in the RV.  We figured right.

I used my retirement money from the State to pay for the rig in full, so we have no mortgage or rig payment.  We have no other debt, and we saved as much as we could before we hit the road to cover emergencies and lean times in Mike’s work.  We’ve had a few things go wrong mechanically like the air conditioner’s compressor seizing and snapping the fan belt and water issues, but with Mike’s ingenuity, we’ve kept moving without too much of a hit to our savings. So far, it’s all worked out beautifully.  We have money to cover our expenses and still have funds left over for dinners out and entertainment.

Our focus now is building our retirement fund and figuring out our insurance through Obamacare.

Another challenge has been reducing our Internet costs.  We currently spend $450 a month for two smart phones and 40GB of data.  About $200 of that is the data that we use for Netflix and Amazon as well as web.  We are continuing to investigate options to bring that cost down.  Thankfully, we can afford it right now, but we’d like to be as lean as possible going forward.

Pets

Traveling with two dogs and a 23-year-old cat has been, um, interesting.

Charlie, our cat, is marvelously adaptable, and it’s a delight to see him stretched out on the dash, soaking up the sun as we motor down the highway.  However, dealing with his litter has been a nightmare.  With almost no carpet and only 300 square feet of space, the crystals get EVERYWHERE.  I’m continuously appalled by where it turns up!  I simply can’t vacuum or wipe or sweep enough!  And, to put it bluntly, his stinky poops overwhelm the senses in such a small environment.  When Charlie moves on to the great cathouse in the sky, we will not get another cat.

The biggest issue we have with Meeko and Sadie, our Rat Terrier and Boston Terrier, is the lack of a doggie door.  In our house in Vegas, we had a doggie door and an enclosed back yard. So, the bark babies could dash outside to potty or sunbathe whenever they wanted to – whether we were there or not.  Now, one of us has to be up between 6 and 6:30 in the morning to take them out to do their business.  And someone has to take them out around 10 at night for their last potty of the day.  In the nice weather, it’s not that big a deal, but when it’s 5 degrees out, windy and snowing in Milwaukee, it kinda sucks.

Small Space Living

Living in 300 square feet hasn’t bothered us.  Ironically, that’s almost been the easiest thing to deal with!  We downsized a ton before we moved into the rig, and we’ve downsized even more along the way.  We’ve learned the most effective organizing techniques for our stuff.  Some things we thought would work (like silicone baking pans) haven’t, and some ideas have worked exactly as we expected.  We have a general policy that if something comes in, something else goes out.  Keeping the rooms tidy and putting items away is fairly easy – once you’ve figured out where and how to put ’em away.  And, it feels spacious when our one living room slide is out.

Decorating has been harder than anything because of the movement and things not sticking to the textured walls.

Other than that, we don’t feel cramped in our  hallway on wheels, and it’s starting to feel like home – with reflections of us and what we love scattered about.

Summing it up…

Overall, our first six months on the road have been extraordinarily wonderful.  We’ve gotten to spend every day together, a first in our seven-year relationship.  Sharing all the triumphs, the hardships and the ordinary moments has strengthened us as a couple and brought us even closer than we were before – which hard to believe since we’ve been super close from the beginning!  We’ve already seen so much of this amazing country, and we’ve done all kinds of fabulous stuff like ziplining, flying in small planes to historic places, ropes courses, shooting competitions, paddle boating, cooking classes, scenic bicycling, and much more.  We’ve visited far-flung family and friends.  We’ve explored new communities and checked out the fun and funky small businesses that give those communities their unique flavor.

When we started, we committed to a year.  I’m excited to see what the next six months brings.

Christmas Morning in Downtown Vegas

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travel, photography, downtown Vegas, Christmas, Christmas morning, Hogs & Heifers, picture-in-a-picture

Christmas morning • outside the Downtown Grand • @Downtown3rd #Vegas • looking at the bar where Mike and I met

travel, photography, downtown Vegas, Christmas, Christmas morning, Hogs & Heifers, picture-in-a-picture

The beauty of staying at Main Street Station’s RV Park in Vegas is its proximity to the newly revamped downtown. After a relaxing brunch on Christmas morning, we wandered around a bit, checking out the new development and snapping pics. A perfect way to start the holiday!

5 Tips for RVing in the Winter

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5TipsForRVingInTheWinter

We’re just shy of five months into this motorhoming escapade, but we’ve already encountered plenty of cold weather.  Where we go is dictated by where Mike is working, which means that we’ll be dealing with frigid temperatures fairly regularly.

Here are five things Mike has learned that are helping us stay warm and watered during the winter.

1.  Not every park delivers propane to you.  Packing up, unhooking, and driving across the street to refill is a hassle.  Plus, propane can get pricey.  Besides that, you surely don’t want run out when temps are below freezing.  (Which we did.)  Using as little propane as you can is crucial.  Buy electric heaters to run off of the park’s electricity – that you’re already paying for – to save your propane.  This is ours.  It’s pet-safe, has other safety features, and comes with a remote so we can control it from anywhere in the rig.  We also have a propane heater.

2.  Stuff bubble pack insulation in the windows. Your rig might feel like a cave, but it makes a HUGE difference, even with double-paned windows.   (This also works great in the summer when you’re cooling the motorhome.  We know from firsthand experience.  We started this lifestyle in Las Vegas… in July.)

3.  When you’re hooked up to park water, keep your hose as short as possible.  Coil the rest of it up and store it inside your wet bay.  Insulate what’s left outside with foam pipe insulation.

4.  If you’re in a Class A, run small electric heaters in the wet bay to keep the pipes and tank from freezing.  Make sure they have tip-over and overheating protection.   You may also want to buy thermostatic plugs that’ll turn the heaters on just above freezing and turn them off at warmer temperatures.

5.  If you have an electric water heater, leave a trickle of hot water dripping into your sink.  It keeps water circulating through the hose so it doesn’t freeze.  Also, leave the gray tank open so the trickle of hot water runs down the hose.  It keeps the gray tank from filling up, and the heated liquid prevents the sewer hose from freezing.