The Happy Place Diaries

A Happy Life starts with a Happy Place

In a recent video I watched from a great couple that I follow there was a discussion on how far or how long are you comfortable driving when traveling with your RV.
I thought this was not only a timely subject as we are planning our big cross country adventure, but it was a discussion that we have had repeatedly.
The video got me looking into our plan for June and as a result we actually added a day to the trip to accommodate our limitations on how far and long we like to be in the truck pulling the trailer.
I am typically ok within a five hour circle from home.  What ever that distance is, typically about 400 miles, we are comfortable with traveling.  It does require a stop or two to stretch our legs and take a bio break.  The nice thing about having the RV is that you bring your comfort station with you.  Bathroom, kitchen etc. is all just a rest stop or view point away.  I can stretch that to ten hours if we need to, and we will on our trip, but those days need to be spread out and have a great destination when we arrive.
One of the other things that we consider when planning is our arrival times.  Whether that has to do with check in times for camping near us or the time and distance that we travel, arrival times is a factor.  If we want to arrive and be able to see some sights we need to get into our camp site before 3:30 PM.  So that is what we usually plan around.  Again, when planning for our June trip and knowing that we are only staying in most places for one night, if we want to see anything we need to be in by 3:30.  So we back out our distance and the time it take to cover it and come up with our departure times so as to arrive by 3:30.

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 7.57.39 AMLike I said based on the time and distance and looking at how much I am comfortable with we added a day.  The spreadsheet above is the tool I use to plan.  It does not reflect the added day which will be at the beginning of the trip on the 16th.  That will cut the 10:45 drive in half and that way I won’t have to do two back to back long days.  We also through in a floater day (30th) the grey block that will allow us to either go home for a night in the way to LL Stubb Stewart or spend another day en route from Butte.
Without taking a look at the plan we would not know to make changes.  I know that some people don’t plan as much, but I like to know what I am getting myself into.  I also like to know that it’s doable.  On this trip we have not allowed for too much flexibility, but that is because we have places and people that we need to see and get to.  The fact of the matter is that we do have a few days in the middle that we can shift, move, or do nothing with.
Planning for us is key.  When we look at space and time, we want to fill it with how we are comfortable and keep it safe for our travel.  Its all about having fun and so we feel the need to plan to make it that way.
What are you comfortable with?  How do you plan? Let us know.
Be sure to check out one of our favorite YouTube Channels, You,Me, and The RV!
While you are it.. pay a visit to our channel!
Have a Happy Day!

540x360We love to camp at our Oregon State Parks.  They offer great locations with amenities and outstanding camping experiences.  Our State Parks are a great place for a weekend trip or staying for a week to take in the sites, relax, or just pass through on your way across our State.
We tend to spend most of our camping at the State parks as the prices are good, especially as a Disabled Veteran, but even at regular prices for what you get you can not beat it.  Most of the State Parks have full hook ups or at least power and water and offer dump sites.  There are some parks that are for tenting only or day use, but the parks we visit are all RV friendly.
If I had to have one beef with our parks it would be that many of them need a face lift.  Our Park system has been active for a long time and back when they established the RV sites the average RV was pretty small.  So the pads need some improvement at the older parks to adjust to today’s RV.  But even with that one minus the plus’s certainly outweigh any gripe I may have with our Parks.
It is nice to plan our trips around the State using the State Parks.  They are all right where the activities are.  The mountains, the beach, and the High Desert.  There is always something to see and do at or around our parks.  So we enjoy them as destinations, especially when we book our week long stays.
If you are ever passing through Oregon, plan to stay at one of our Parks, you will be glad you did!
A couple of our favorites are:
Wallowa State Park.
LaPine State Park.
Ft. Stevens State Park.
Check them out, they represent just a few parks, but they give us three completely different Oregon Experiences.
What are some of your favorite places to camp? Let us know in the comments section.

DIY-bandeau-1This week we added another upgrade to our Keystone Passport Travel Trailer.  We seem to be in a mode of upgrading some of the little things and some that may seem a bit larger.  As discussed in a previous post I understand why the manufacturers tend to go with “cheaper options” when constructing an RV, it all comes down to cost and time.. so be it.  In talking with a Keystone rep at the last RV show he gave us the “insider scoop” that if you want everything perfect you need to go to the factory and get it made that way.  Well for most of us that is not an option and when it comes to cost I think doing the little upgrades a few at a time will ultimately save you money in the long run.  Besides, being new to RVing I really didn’t know what I wanted until about a year in the RV and seeing other trailers.  So it really is trial and error for a while and then you fall into the get what you want mode.
For us every upgrade we make now is a plus.  The RV is paid off so all the cost now is added value to us and it makes the trailer more suitable to how we use it and meets our needs.  The thing that we have learned in this process is just how much you can do yourself.  Now there are things that I won’t do like drill holes in the side of my rig to install a Slider Topper.. nope.. way out of my wheel house.  But I am finding that many things can be done by myself and at a tremendous cost savings.  The case in point, and it cost me too much for this lesson, is this weeks upgrade.  We had installed (there’s the mistake) a set of Morryde Step Above steps.   We saw them at the RV show and immediately knew we needed them on our trailer.  They replace the existing fold out steps on the rig.  I spoke with the Rep from MorRyde at the show and demo’d the steps and some of the other MorRyde products.  They are fantastic, solid, super stable steps and they are great on the trailer.  I took the brochure home and did all the measuring to find the set we needed to fit our rig and went to Camping World to buy them.  They are running a $59 “We install anything” deal right now…. which is not entirely true after you pay for the parts and labor.. not to mention the item itself.  But I had them install it and came to find out one of my doors is smaller than the other and so only one set could installed.  MorRyde does not make the small door option yet.. I sure hope it’s coming.  The install took a few hours, I’m sure it is because they are installing a ton of stuff with the $59 deal, but what it amounted to was putting the stairs in and mounting them with 6 screws.  Six screws that are easily accessible.  After looking at what took Camping World 2 hours to do I kicked myself in the rear for spending the money on the install.  I could have done it in 10 minutes.  Had I ordered the steps on Amazon

6Exm0vKKTYe50TdyCU7OIgand had them shipped to my house I could have saved about $200 in shipping, labor, and install fees.  Lesson learned, look into the DIY options before you buy.
I have done a lot of little improvements to the RV.  Today I installed a pole in the closet.  We converted our bedroom closets using inexpensive drawers we found at Target so we needed to make the lined closet usable to hang jackets and shirts that need to be hung on hangers.  Took me 5 minutes and it’s done the way I wanted it.  The point is that I am learning to do it myself.  As we take our trailer out more and more and see what upgrades or manufactures are doing with the newer trailers we see things that we like and want.  From now on we will be always be looking at how we can do it ourselves before we jump to the install.  Now if it is stuff that I just not comfortable with then paying for piece of mind is always worth the cost.
So here is a list of the what we have upgraded or changed in our Keystone Passport to date:
New Mattress on bed
Installed cup holders around dinette
Bedroom closet drawers
Hall closet hanger
MorRyde steps
Slide topper
Replaced Door windows with Thin Shade windows
Replaced curtain stays as they have been breaking with zip ties
Replaced Scissor Stabilizers with Eaz Lift stabilizers
Vent Covers on the two vents on roof
Added antenna booster to TV
Lost of Command Hooks around to hang things
Tongue Jack replaced
Kitchen sink faucet replaced
Bathroom sink faucet replaced
Shower head replaced
Started changing our light bulbs inside to LED bulbs
Seat Cushions in Dinette replaced
I’m sure I am forgetting something here, but we are making the RV the best for us and we love it!
What are some of the upgrades that you have done on your rig?  We would love to know heck maybe it will inspire us to do more upgrading.
Let us know!
Have a Happy Day!

fullsizeoutput_3c4Well.. it took six months, but I am back to work…  A labor of absolute love though.  Three days a week I get to have the best unpaid job in the world… hanging out with my Grandson.  Yep, I am now a babysitter for Mr. Levi.
It is great to have him over everyday.  Had to get used to having a baby in the house again, it’s been 25 years since we changed diapers, bottle fed, and had to adjust schedules around sleep and entertaining the little one.
But he is a gem.  He is really pleasant to be with, rarely cries and has a smile that will melt your heart.  A big part of our happy life.  Our Daughter in law went back to work from Maternity leave on Monday and thanks to great timing with my retirement and all of the other stars lining up it works out that we can save the kids some money as well as create those life long bonds that Levi and I will certainly have.  So Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s I have Levi by myself from 7 AM till about 2 PM when Teresa gets off work.  On Thursdays our Daughter will help watch Levi as that is her day off.  Then Friday’s he is at home with his Mom on her day off.  At first it seemed a bit like a juggle, but we would much rather have him surrounded by family than at a day care.
I personally am ready for our little guy to start walking and talking so we can start doing great adventures together.  He is bringing great joy to our lives and watching him grow what seems to be daily is fun.  His personality is starting to shine and he is quite the character.  Learning ways to express himself and exploring his new world.  Little things like what his fingers do and what happens when he wiggles his feet.  A whole new exciting world awaits him and it’s going to be fun to help him on his journey.  My hope for him is that he remains happy.  Right now he is the happiest kid I know and we want to keep it that way.  Teresa and I will do our part to help in that endeavor.  We hope to model happiness for him.
Well, looks like my break is over, time for a bottle.
Have a Happy day!


Giving Papa a Break.


Part of our trip this spring break is to test our video process.  We started the week by videoing everything on our Canon M50.  On day two we used nothing but GoPros.  And yesterday we filmed using our iPhones.
Lessons learned…. so far.
Doing the video with the M50 and GoPro is super easy to transfer on to the computer for editing.  Using the iPhone is a challenge when you do not have wifi and the personal hotspot is not enough to get the video from the phone to the Macbook.  I thought it may be easier, and maybe I am not doing it right… but to say the least, it is a process I need to work on.
The video quality of all three is amazing, I am pleasantly surprised by the video quality of the iPhone.. it really is fantastic.
bsbSo for today, we need to work on getting video from the phone to the computer.
Other things that we have tried is our new Solo Stove Bonfire.  Awesome is the word I would use to describe this wonderful piece of engineering.  We enjoyed some relaxing time around it yesterday evening.  A perfect addition to the glamping life in the RV.
Yesterday evening, since we had beautiful weather, we poured a nice glass of BSB and relaxed by the fire.  The dogs settled down and enjoyed the quiet evening and Teresa and loved spending this great time together.
This trip is much needed.  Just the two of us and the pups.  This is the happy life.
Thanks for coming along!

We are spending the week at the Oregon Coast this week.  It’s spring break, and even though are kids are grown and gone Teresa still works at the school.. so we have the week off together.  We will be down here at the beach till Friday so we thought we would do some “practice” for the big trip we are doing in June.
And by practice I mean working out the cameras for our videos and keeping up with the blog.  We also got some new gear so we are giving that stuff a work out also.
IMG_0499We purchased a Solo Stove Bonfire.  It is an amazing piece of engineering.  You can learn more about it at their website.  We used it last night.. it totally changed our camp fire experience.
We are also working out the habit of using multiple cameras and making time for sitting down and posting to the blog.  Right now it is looking like the evening may be the best time to edit and upload.  Doing this in the morning while we are on the trip may not work out as we are planning on early departures to reach our next destinations in the late afternoon or early evenings.  But it takes time so this week is a great practice on establishing some routine.
So this week, along with getting some good relaxing in, we are practicing for our month long trip in June.  It is going to be fantastic!
If you want to follow along with us on the trip, we will be posting just about daily videos on our YouTube channel.  Please check it out.  If you subscribe and select the little bell icon, it will let you know when something new gets posted.
Thanks for coming along!
See ya in our 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!

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