March RV Upgrades

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!

4 month review

analyticsI would like to start this by saying Thank you to everyone that has paid us a visit, left a comment, and started following this Blog.
We started this blog at the end of October 2018.  The intent was to document our Journey.  I was quickly approaching my retirement date and wanted to have a place to share our Journey as we started a new chapter in our lives.
It’s been 4 months since we started.  This is the 56th post and the numbers are in.
65 of you are following the blog via WordPress.  but it looks like we are gaining some traction with the blog views.
In 2018 we had 626 views from 337 visitors.  134 of you liked what you saw and 5 even left a comment.
In the two months of 2019 we have already seen some growth which leaves us motivated to keep it up and share away!
507 views so far from 309 visitors with 58 likes but already 6 comments.
Ok.. why share those numbers?  I don’t know.
Seriously.  It is not about money or fame, it is about sharing.  We don’t make money on this site and even though we became an Amazon Affiliate and encourage people to visit Amazon using our link.. that money..when we make some will all be going to charity.
So what’s with the numbers.  It’s about exposure.
The more numbers the higher you rank on the internet search engines and thus, more traffic is driven your way.  If we are going to share.. we want to share big!
So, while it’s not about the numbers.. it helps when we know that we are in fact reaching an audience that is along with our Journey.
I just thought it was interesting to see our blog grow in just a few months.  I am curious to see how it grows over the next 2 months as we reach our 6 month mark.. and then again at the end of this year.
Just like the blog we are watching our Youtube Channel as it grows… Extremely slowly.. but from 4 subscribers to 24 (at the time of this post).  Not monumental, but hey at least some one is watching.  I am sure at some point it will get traction also as we get better with our content and production.  Either way.. it’s about sharing our story and having some fun with it.
Thanks again for coming along.
If you are new here.. consider following the blog and check out our Youtube Channel.  And join the community by leaving us a comment.
Thanks again.
Have a Happy Day!

 

 

 

Happiness Tip #1- Remove the Urgency

16864200_10210956663766032_2572772815531985169_nI heard a good saying the other day as I watched a YouTube video from the Keep Your Daydream channel that reminded me of a leadership principle that I have used all of my adult life.  Remove the Urgency.
Today’s post will the first in a series of posts of things that I believe lead to or add to a happy life.
So lets talk about Removing the Urgency.  For many people the urgency of a situation gets in the way of thinking about the resolution.  Removing the urgency allows one to reduce stress and anxiety over the situation.  For example, when on a recent trip we hooked up the city water and within seconds of turning the water on it began to shoot out of the bottom of the trailer.  You could hear water flowing into the pad and it was coming quick.  The immediate action was to turn off the water.  Rather than go into panic mode I removed the urgency.  What was the worst that could have happened and how did it effect the rest of our weekend?  At the end of the day what did not having water mean in the grand scheme of things?  The answers were simple and it removed the urgency from the situation.
First, the water was off and no longer flowing.
Second, there are shower houses and sinks at the campground, so we still could take showers etc.
And finally, after a quick inspection of the trailer, there was no damage visible.
After a quick evaluation and removing the urgent need to get into “fix it” mode we discovered that the connection from the city water into the trailer had become disconnected.  An easy fix, but I know some people that would have packed up and called it a weekend, taken their trailer into the shop and disrupted their weekend.
Removing the urgency takes the stress away from the situation.  Stress is a major contributor to people being unhappy.  If we can do things to eliminate stress we can be happier.
Now I know that there are people out there that absolutely can not function without stress.  And I have never seen them to be happy.  I have seen that people that do not have the ability to remove the urgency from a situation often spiral out of control in decision making.  I have seen this in combat, I have seen this in wilderness first aid situations, and I have seen this in peoples everyday lives.  Simple situations become mountains that they can not cross.
Removing the Urgency from a situation can be applied to any if not all situations in our lives.  But it takes a willingness to not want stress and make things simple.  Simplicity is the key.  It allows you to declutter your thoughts and see things for what they are in the midst of a crisis.  We could have panicked in our water situation, but understanding that there was no need.  Panicking or creating energy around the situation would only lead to stress.
How many of you have had a flat tire.  There really is no need to panic or stress.. just change the tire and be on your way.  If there are more issues address them as needed.  But don’t let the situation get the best of you.  It will never fix things in the long term and only add stress.
So… The first part of being happy this week is to reduce stress by removing the urgency of the situation.
On Wednesday we will discuss reducing clutter.  Stay tuned!
Thanks for checkin’ in with us.
Have a Happy Day!

Is this thing on?

thingonWe teach in the Scouting Leadership Course Wood Badge that Feedback is a Gift.  Feedback is an important component in the Communication loop.  You know, you have the Sender, the Message, the Receiver, and then Feedback to the Sender knows that the message has been received.
When I was a Sergeant Major feedback was an important part of how I communicated.  There was an understanding that I was sending a message and a need to know that the message was received.. sometimes loud.. but always clear.
What I am finding in writing this blog is that there is not always a clear understanding of the receipt of the message.  The message is being sent, and we can see that other computers are seeing the message, but a blog is a discussion.  Our intent is to build community and without feedback, we can not effectively communicate.
I took an online class on blogging.  Part of the course was how you format your content. In that content they suggest that you create a call to action.  Ask a question or solicit comments.  This is supposed to drive feedback and spark discussion.
I wonder how that works.  I read many blogs and see that some get tons of comments, while others (like ours) receive very little or no comments at all.
I don’t know if this is an indication of good or bad communication, or a community that would just rather not.  I am sure that as the content grows and the community grows with it that at some point the gift of feedback will happen.  Until then.. we wonder…
Is this thing on?
Leave a comment and tell us whatever you want…

The Games we play

One of things we love to do while we are out on our adventures in the RV is sit around in the evening with friends and play games.  Card games and board games most often.  We have a few that are our favorites, we thought we would share them with you.  First of all, I need to say that we are not getting paid for this post by the game manufactures etc…
The first game that we really like to play is called Knuken Futz.

knuckenfutz

Knuken Futz

Knuken Futz is a game that was invented by a group of women from Warrenton, OR.  We camp a lot around Warrenton and fell in love with this face paced game that is a ton of fun.
Another card game we like to play is Phase 10.  Phase 10 is a great game if you like card games.  Our group loves to play this… it takes time and allows us to chat and have a great time.  We have been playing this game for a long time and is an absolute favorite.  We have Phase 10 card sets in the trailer, at home, and pretty much every place we go.
Mexican Train is the next in line for the games that we love to play.  This is a real fun dice game that requires some strategy and gamesmanship.  We spend hours playing Mexican Train.  This another one of the games that we keep everywhere we go.  It’s in the RV and we have a couple sets at home.
A new game that we have added to our favorites is CodeNames.

This a great game that really gets you thinking and a great way to get to know how your friends think.  It is a game of strategy and skill.  You need to figure out a way get your teammates to figure out what you are thinking.. or better yet, what you mean.  We first played this on our last trip in the RV and immediately ran out and bought it.  This is a game that I was not sure about, but after we played it once I was hooked on the game.  It really is fun.  You can play up to 8 players, but we found 6 to be about perfect.  If you are looking for some real great fun, this is a game that you must have.
Because we camp in Oregon we need to have that plan B for rainy and chilly evenings while out in the RV.  Board games and card games are a great answer.  We have a lot of fun with it!  Yep the pictures are good links so you can get out and have as much fun as we do.
Hey.. what games do you play… like… or keep in your RV?  What game is a must have for you or your absolute favorite?
Leave us a comment and share with us.

Old Man Winter

IMG_0252Well, Winter has finally paid us a visit here in the Pacific Northwest.  It’s been pretty mild so far.  Typical winter weather passed us by in December and January, but February has come in with a cold snap and even dropped a bit of snow.
A great opportunity to talk about winterizing the RV.  Now I need to make a disclaimer here.  When I mean winterize I am not talking Minnesota winterizing.  We do not go through the entire process of buttoning up the trailer for the winter as we use it all year long and keep it plugged in when the trailer is at home… kinda our RV Docking station.
So our process is simple, but we do it when ever we start seeing temps that are getting into the 30’s.
The first year we had our trailer I failed to completely prepare for the cold weather and paid the price for it.  $900 to be exact.
So here is what we do to prepare for the cold.
First.  We drain all the water out of the trailer.  We do this by unplugging the low point drain plugs and allowing all the water to drain.  Yeah… it’s pretty much that simple.
Second.  I pull the plug on the water heater and drain the 10 gallon heater tank.  This was the expensive lesson learned.  In our first year I drained everything except the water heater.  It froze, split, and the valve cracked.  A total replacement was needed.  So now I pull the plug and let it drain.  Have not had a problem since.  Our water heater does not have an anode rod, so pulling the plug is a bit more easy.  Once the water heater is drained I place a piece of reflectix in the panel that I have cut to size.  I am not sure that this does much, but it does add a layer of insulation and reduces the wind contact to the water heater.
g2JbTOBLSK6gloapvSdntgSecond.  I open all the faucets.  This allows for anything in the pipes to air out and expand.  It is also part of our breaking camp routine.  That way when we get into camp the next time we can bleed the air out of the system as the city water hook up is turned on.
Finally, I add a gallon of RV Antifreeze to all the drains.  I pour it down the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, and toilet.  I use the whole gallon to make sure some gets into the holding tanks and leaves antifreeze in the P traps.
This has been an effective way to keep the trailer systems (water) from freezing up.  It also allows for us to still use the trailer as there is no antifreeze in the pipes for us to have to flush and we can always add more after the trip.
Sometimes, like right now when we are having sub freezing temperatures I will run our electric heater in the trailer.  It will keep the inside of the trailer at a bearable temperature.  We have that luxury because we have the trailer plugged into the shore power.
So that is our process for keeping our RV from freezing.  It seems to work as we have not had an issue with freezing since the water heater in 2017.  A $900 mistake that I won’t make again.  What is your method of winterizing your RV?  I know that we all do it a bit different.  Please share what you do in the comments.
Have you made one of those big money mistakes?  I am sure we all have learned our lessons the hard way.  Please share your story… promise we won’t laugh.
Thanks for joining our Journey!

Campers to RVers

img_0057This past weekend we spent at an RV Part in McMinnville next to the Evergreen Air & Space museum.  During our stay there we had many discussions with some “Newbie” RVers.  Among the discussions of our RV set ups and how to’s, we discussed the reasons why we started RVing.
For us it was something that was never really discussed until it was.  What I mean is we have never really considered buying an RV until camping in the tent stopped being fun.  That point for us was in September of 2015.  We were camped at Nehalem Bay on the Oregon Coast.  We have always been campers and avid outdoors types.  We have always loved to hike and explore and get away for the weekends and camp.  As we grew as a family, so did the tent sizes and the gear.  Needless to say, we have gone through many evolutions of how we have camped, but the constant is that we always have camped.  In September of 2015 we made plans, like every other camping weekend.  Head out to the coast on Friday night, set up camp, and enjoy the weekend.  We were camping with the usual group of friends and my parents, who were in there 17 ft. Jayco trailer.  We got into the State Park on Friday afternoon and set up our tent.  The tent was a big REI Hobitat. rei-hobitat-4-cabin-dome-tent-footprint A tent that you can stand up in and move around.  So big in fact that we put a queen size air mattress in it.  The weather started moving in on us throughout the day on Friday and by Friday night the winds were blowing pretty good.  Our puppy was going crazy as the tent flapped and popped with the wind.  The winds got so bad, that the tent was literally folding down us.  Around 5 in the morning on Saturday, we had had enough.  I went into my parents trailer and informed them that we were no longer having fun and we were packing up.  The winds continued to gust reaching 70 mph and trees were starting to snap around us.  So we packed up and went home.  All the way home we talked about our future camping and made the decision to go to the RV show.  In February of 2016, we purchased our Keystone Passport and it has been a wonderful journey since.
But the discussion this weekend was not about why we made that choice, rather, it was about the style of camping that we have embraced.  We concluded that in the RV we participate in two different styles or kinds of “Camping”.  The full RV Park destination camping and getting away into the woods camping.  They have one thing in common, the RV.  The Full RV park destination style takes you to places to go and see.  Like camping next to the museum and heading into town for a nice sit down meal.  Or wine tasting in the Willamette Valley.  Or the Trip to Disneyland and staying at the Anaheim RV Resort next to the Happiest Place on Earth!
Then there is the State Parks and KOA’s that offer the unplug and get away experience.  While we still may have all the hook ups, these get away’s off the out door camping experience while maintaining the RV amenities and comfort.  It gives us the best of both worlds when we have the ability to get out, but retreat into the comfort of the RV and all that comes with it.
The idea that we are always packed and ready for a trip.  The luxury of having the comforts of home while out in the woods and enjoying all that nature has to offer.  It is one of the best things I love about the RV.  It is always ready and waiting on us.  The transition that we made from “Campers” to “RVers” was an easy one for us.  It took us a bit to recognize what we were doing, but we have fully embraced the life style of the RV community.
We look forward to our longer trips that combine both the outdoor experience and the RV Park luxury.
Have you made that transition?  What does that look like for you?  What was your turning point?
Leave us a comment and share your story.

The BIG 5 List – Pets

44497060_10215972748805023_4616306690273312768_oThis weeks BIG 5 List is all about pets.  Yep for the most part our four legged friends that love to hop in the RV and head out for adventures with us.
We have two traveling companions, Sadie and Chunk.  They are campers through and through.  When it’s time to load up the trailer, they are first to the door and ready to go.  Our little family members are seasoned campers  They have their spot in the RV and the truck and seem to love being out for the ride.
This week we will list our BIG 5 things to consider when traveling with your pet.
Here we go!
1.  Treat them like family.  When we take out little ones with us, we include them in most if not all of our activity.  We don’t bring them so they can just sit in the RV.  We have pets for companionship.  Leaving them alone all day is not why they want to be with you.. or the other way around.
2.  Make sure to give them their space.  We throw a extra large dog bed on the floor of the trailer.  It is a place for them to nap, lay around, or delight in a treat.  But it is their space and they know that they are welcome when we give them that place to be a part of our journey.
3.  Take their favorite stuff.  We have a blanket they like, their bed and of course their toys.  Again, it is a part of making them welcome.. that and when you do have to leave them alone, they have their stuff to keep them entertained.
4.  Make sure their shots are up to date and bring along their medical record/shot records.  You never know when you will need them.  An unexpected trip to an out of town Vet or a trip to Petsmart for a special Spa Day.  You will need to have that documentation.  I have even heard of some camp grounds or RV resorts that want to know that your pets are current.
5.  Our Dogs love to take walks.  Help your dogs help you stay fit.  I see too many dogs just leashed (chained) up to a tree in the campsite while the people ignore them.  Walks on the beach are Sadie and Chunks favorite camping activity.  Chasing the ball on the beach is Chunks idea of heaven on earth.  So get out and active with your pets.

We love our pets and want them to be a part of our lives and our camping adventures!  If you bring them along have a great time with them.  They are special to all of us.
Oh.. a bonus item for the list…
If you have barkers… yeah ours tend to bark at times too.. but they typically bark when they are scared or lonely.  The more they know you are there for them, the less they bark.  At least that’s our experience.
Thanks for coming along with us… what are some things you do with your pets and hey… how about giving us a tip on your pet experience.  Leave us a comment.
Have a Happy Day!

The Journey

We just put a video up to talk about our journey.  We are looking at establishing direction with the YouTube Channel and as we study and learn what it takes to produce content for the channel we also are trying to refine our audience.  We don’t know what that looks like yet.  While one of our goals is to share our journey with everyone, we also want to maintain focus on the RV community and helping new RVers discover the joy that it brings.  It is our Happy Place!
So if you have not checked it out yet.. please consider it.  Subscriptions are totally Free!
Thanks for coming along the journey with us!