The Happy Place Diaries

A Happy Life starts with a Happy Place

fullsizeoutput_358The sun is finally out and the buzz is all about getting outside, de winterizing the RV (if you do that) and the hitting the campground! But you can’t hit the road until the cooler is packed and the play list is loaded!  You have to have your tunes to get the camping started… right?
We have a very eclectic taste in our music, everything from Rock to Country… ahh sorry for those that like Hip Hop.. but that’s not part of our music taste.  But pretty much everything else is loaded and ready to play.
When we travel, we like to listen to local radio too.  It gives you a feel for the community, updates on traffic, and events that we want to check out.  But we all have those dead spots on the road.  Between the Portland Metro area and the Oregon Coast for example there is no radio so having a good play list ready to go helps pass time and keep you entertained along the way.
We like many use iTunes and have a subscription (not a paid endorsement).  We like it because there is everything there.  We download lots of music and a nice feature is you can download entire playlists that are full of hits.
We like to sing along, although neither one of us sing well.. we sing loud and have fun with it!  The pups even like a few songs and when they hear “Chicken Fried” they know it camping time!  It’s the song most likely to lead off the trip.
So what’s in your iTunes library?  What do you jam out to when you hit the road?
Here are a few of our favorites.
Kenny Chesney – Pretty much all of his stuff
The Zac Brown Band – We have a couple of their albums loaded.. yep starting with Chicken Fried.  And Toes is one of Teresa’s favs!Of course AC/DC, Journey, and George Straite make the Top 10.  Darius Rucker has made it into the list, since he left Hooty we actually like him.  No playlist would be complete without Chicago’s Best.  Rockin’ out to Boston is always there and then over to Oingo Boingo to keep us jammin’ on the road.  Hey I told you we listen to everything.  Country music is probably the most listened to though.. we do love our Alan Jackson and Billy Currington.
Ok.. I think you get the idea of what is on our playlist and downloads for great road trips.
So what is on your list?  What do you need to have playing for your perfect road trip.  Music is such a great part of our lives and yep.. keeps us happy!
Please share with us.. I may want to add some to our list..  And yes, the picture for this post is a screen shot of my iTunes.
Have a Happy Day!

Today I am going to leave you with a short video.  Something that I stumbled in a few years ago that got me to thinking about this whole “Happiness” thing.  Again, we are happy folks and the reason we are happy is because we chose to be happy.  We make a choice every day to keep our priorities straight and live the life that we want, not the life that people want us to live.
There is no right answer to happiness, we all get to pick our road to it and define what the destination looks like.  We have ours, you will have yours.  The Journey is so much better when we are happy.
I know way to many people that worry about things they can’t control, stress over things that don’t matter, and get caught in a trap of despair because they don’t know how to be happy.  Happiness takes work sometimes, but when we stay the course and keep our eye on the journey we can make it happen.
We can care about the world we live in without letting that world dictate our happiness. Politics, Religion, and Money won’t matter in the end.  They are like the tides.. they come and go.. are good and bad… are influences in our lives but don’t have to drive our happiness.
We all have our passions, our cares, and our causes.  How you let them run your life is up to you.  I chose to be happy.  That is not burying our head in the sand.. ignorance is not bliss.  But what I have come to realize is that things come and go in cycles.  Things are not always as bad as they seem and sometimes we need to filter the BS from what we believe is real.  But in the end.. are you happy is the question you need and answer and you are the only one that can.
So here is a little video that may help you focus on your happiness.
Thanks for visiting our little site.

11080005This week we upgraded the door windows of our Passport.  We went with the AP Products Thin Shade.
We went with these windows for a couple of reasons.  First, we love the shade that is built into the window.  The older windows allowed for privacy, but the look was just not what we liked.  The old windows looked like the glass that you find in a restroom.
Second, we love that the new windows match the smoked glass look of all of the rest of the windows on the trailer.  It makes the look of the RV much nicer and the door side now has a matched texture of the glass, it just seems to flow better.
Finally, the price was right.  We got an incredible deal on the set of windows.  We stopped by camping world.  The windows were on sale from $133 a piece to $119.  Then we got to the register we discovered thanks to the associate that there was another price marking on the box.  She told us that she had to charge us whatever the price is on the box.. so we got both windows for $180.
The project took only 20 minutes to install both of the windows, the hardest part was taking the old windows out.  Once I got them out and cleaned up the door the new install was quick and easy.
It says that the windows fit most RV’s.. they fit in our doors like fingers in a glove.  Perfect fit and great look.  Looks like they came installed from the factory… which begs the question… no it actually doesn’t.. I understand why the factory does not do the cool upgrades and I appreciate that.  The money spent later is well worth it because then you have the ability to customize your rig.
So another nice upgrade to the RV.  Glad we got it done.
Heres a video that gives you an idea of the project.
Have a Happy Day!

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First leg of the Big Trip!

We have been planning a big RV trip for this summer for some time and this past weekend the plan finally came together.
The plan was originally to go out to LeesSummit, MO to visit my wives sister and brother in law and return.  Then we decided that while we had to pass through some great country to get there, we would stop and see some sights.  So the plan started to take shape.
We will be departing the Monday after school lets out for the summer, Teresa is still working at the school so we can take off as soon as the last bell rings.  The trip will end in mid July.  This will be the longest trip we have ever taken together and the biggest trip in the RV.  It will take us 4682 miles round trip from Troutdale to Lees Summit, up to South Bend and over to Chicago then the trip West through South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and then out to the Oregon Coast.
We have made all our reservations to camp along the way.  We were surprised to find just how inexpensive the trip is going to be.  As we looked into RV campgrounds along the way we wanted to make sure that we were staying in nice, safe, and around the path that we are heading.  Looking into the camping we used the Good Sam Club trip planning web site.  It is a great tool for planning your trip, unfortunately they are shutting it down in April.  The thing that we liked about the planner, and I am sure that there are others like it, is that you put in your destination and it shows you the route, gives campground suggestions, and allows you to filter to meet your needs.  What we found was that using the filters for campgrounds that have a good rating and met our needs of staying on route and around attractions that we wanted to see, the KOA camps kept moving to the Header-KOA-Logotop of the list.  So we purchased a KOA membership for the year.  It only cost $30 and we got one of our nights along the way free plus discounts at each site we are staying at. Over the past three years we have become masters of the discounts.  Using Military discounts where we can, Good Sam discounts, and other deals that we find, we have kept our camping costs as low as we can.  The KOA option may not be the best but looking at the web sites we concluded that they are all pretty well regulated and at least have a standard that has to be met to maintain the KOA franchises.  This means that for most of our one night stays we will be in campgrounds that are safe, clean, and offer the amenities that we need along the way.  Pretty much hook ups and a place to stay.  The cost was not bad either.  The most expensive night we have on the whole trip is only $56 a night.  Still cheaper than any hotel and I get to sleep in my own bed.
The second part of the plan is that we are going to do a daily VLog on our YouTube Channel of the Trip.  I am not certain as to the logistics and rhythm of a daily Vlog, editing, posting, etc.  But we thought it would be fun to share the journey.   The good, the bad, and the ugly of travel costs, places we stay and visit, and of course a month in the RV.  Stay tuned for that.
We look forward to hitting the Road on this great adventure.  June can’t come soon enough!

Have a Happy Day!

This last weekend.. which is why we missed the blog on Friday we took a trip to the other side of the Columbia River Gorge to Maryhill State Park in Washington.
Maryhill and Maryhill State Park sits right at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge’s East side.  For those heading East across Northern Oregon and Southern Washington this moves you from the Willamette Valley into the high desert of Eastern Oregon and Washington.  The Gorge is amazing rock formations that were cut as the Columbia River was formed.  It is.. pardon the pun Gorgeous.
So last Thursday we loaded up the RV and headed East.  We arrived at Maryhill State Park in the mid afternoon, it is a one and a half hour drive, and discovered that the park was empty and covered in snow.  The check in station was closed but a sign directed us to do self check.  Since we had reservations, we just drove in to find our site.  When we got to our site, a pull through site looking out at the river we found that we could not get in there.  The park had plowed the snow but created snow banks that I just could not maneuver our 33 foot trailer and truck through.
So removing the urgency from the situation I saw a Park Rangers truck at the office and drove over there.  I explained the situation to him and he offered a group camp site to us.  Since we were the only ones in the park and the only reservation for the weekend he said we could go pretty much wherever we wanted.  He drove us over to the group site which had hook ups and a ton of space and we set up there and waited to the rest of our camping party to arrive.
This weekend was all about learning and playing with the Canon M50 camera that we have recently upgraded to.  When we first got it I followed some advice from the internet… yeah go figure…  and messed up the settings.  So I did basically a factory reset.. took a legitimate tutorial on the camera and the results I think are fantastic.  I thought I’d share some of the pictures we took here on the blog.
If you ever get out to Maryhill be sure to visit the Maryhill winery, they have some amazing wine and the testing bar is fun and you learn a lot.  Also you need to check out the Maryhill Stonehenge.  It is really neat and gives you a great view of the Columbia River Gorge.
Let me know what you think of the pictures.

pcod5AE5iIt’s a balmy 32 degrees outside as I sit and click at the keyboard.  We have a reservation at the Mary Hill State Park tomorrow and the forecast is for cold.. real cold temps.  So the question is… How low will you go?
We have taken the RV out in some pretty nasty weather and cold temperatures, and yes we always have a great time.  But there may come a point where the temps are too low or the weather is too nasty that we will need to make that decision or determine just how low we will go.
Thank goodness we never have Minnesota temperatures and the weather tends to come and go here in Oregon, so most of the year is camping season.  Last January we camped around the Bend, Oregon area at a beautiful state park.  It was extremely cold and icy, but at least it was dry.  The Trailer handled it well, we have the four season package on ours so it is insulated well and the pipes are all covered so I have never really worried about freezing pipes or systems on the rig… not since the water heater broke.
Since we are not full time RVers, we do have the luxury of saying enough is enough and just going home if we need to.  But we tend to like to push it a bit.  As long as we can pull the trailer safely, we will go.
This weekend is going to be a test of that I think.  My only concern is pulling through the Columbia River Gorge.  It gets pretty icy out there so we will have to see how it goes.  Like I said, turning around is always an option, but we need see.  I am pretty sure that once we get out there and get set up its going to be fantastic.
As long as the heater works, propane is full, and we have a great view, the weekend will be fun.
wintercampingSo the question is… How low will you go?
Leave us a comment and let us know.
Thanks for hanging out with us.
Have a Happy Day!

March is here and we look forward to some better weather.  25 degrees this morning here in Oregon, but we ready the Passport for another weekend adventure.  Last week we did some upgrades to the RV, one that was a must and a couple others that are just upgrades or nice to have.
smartjackFirst, the must item, and the more I think about it… yes it needed to be replaced, but we decided to replace it.. again, with a better one.  I am talking about out Tongue Jack.
On our last outing the Harbor Freight tongue jack that we replaced the original crank jack with finally gave out.  We got a good three years out of it so in Harbor Freight terms, we got our money worth.  It was a serious situation that when it finally did give out and we did a quick $60 fix (removed the urgency from the situation).  Last week however I went down to Camping World and picked up a new Smart Jack from Lippert.  It is a 3500 lb jack and has some cool features like setting the hitch height.  It was a super easy install and it is functioning great.  Lesson learned.  When you raise the Jack for travel and you hear the “Clunk”.  You have gone to far.  Repeatedly raising the jack to the absolute top will eventually wear out the gears and it will seize up.  The fix.  I am adding a strip of duct tape to the drop leg at the point before it reaches the top.  This will allow for some space so I do not reach the top and hear the “Clunk”.  This will keep the gears from seizing and wearing out.  You can see the install here.
faucetThe second upgrade we did was to replace the faucet in the bathroom sink.  We removed the standard plastic faucet which did not fit very well with the sink.  It was hard to wash hands, brush teeth etc.  We replaced it with the 4 inch faucet from Valterra.  This new faucet is higher and has a better reach into the sink.  The single handle is a nice feature that we like and it matches the faucet that we have in the galley.  We went with the nickel brushed look.  It goes well with the counter top in the bathroom, as it does in the galley.  This too was a real easy install.  Literally took about 10 minutes, mostly because I was shooting a video that showed the install.  I really like how it looks in the bathroom and adds to better functioning of the bathroom sink.  I wish we would have done this upgrade years ago.
So a word about things like hardware for the sink etc.  I understand why the manufacturers put in less expensive and lesser quality items like plastic faucets and sinks and hand crank tongue jacks in the trailers.  First it reduces the overall cost.  I appreciate that.  In most cases it cuts down on the weight of the trailer also.  That in the grand scheme of things is not that important to me.  My tow vehicle can handle the weight and the frame, axels, and build the trailer will certainly handle the extra weight of a new bathroom faucet.  So it really is a cost issue.  All of us are looking at ways to save money, but in the long run, if you are going to make your RV something that you love, you will eventually upgrade items.  We have been doing this little by little and one item at a time.  We find the items when they are on sale or when we can.  Little by little we have made the trailer better and better.  Many times its the little things that make a big difference.
57325753895__2428A478-4BF3-41D1-8114-C77E8A873B4DThe other upgrade that we are replacing is our stabilizers.  We bent one on a trip out to Sera and Sand RV resort a year ago.  It has not stopped the functioning of the stabilizer, but it is bent and I don’t like it.  I saw a video of a guy that replaced his stabilizers for beefier more solid stabilizers, again, the manufactures put on stabilizers that get the job done, but are lesser quality.  So we went to our RV dealers store and picked us up some of the EAZ Lift 5000 lb stabilizers.  Not that we will ever need or put 5000 pounds on each of the four stabilizers at any given time, but these stabilizers are …. well…. stable.  They reduce the wiggle and sway and are solid.  The old ones can literally be shaken by hand, the new Eaz Lift stabilizers give a fit and feel of stability.  I am looking forward to getting out and seeing the difference in our RV with these on.
Well, that is it for now.  We are doing some little things inside the RV, adding some personal touches, but major purchases are over for now… oh except the big upgrade.  For those of you that follow us on Instagram you saw it last week.. We paid off the trailer!  A major upgrade in for our financial situation!
What are some of the upgrades you have done?  We’d love to hear.
Have a Happy Day!

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