Tumalo State Park

tumalo state parkAs we prepare the RV for another weekend get a way We want to share with you our last trip to Tumalo State Park.  A gem of a State Park in Central Oregon between Bend and Redmond.  It’s about a 3 hour drive from our home, but worth every mile and minute.  This is one of our favorite places to camp.  There is so much to do and see in the area that you could spend a week and have a great time every day.
The campground sits right along the Deschutes river which offers great kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and rafting opportunities.  The fishing is world famous along the Deschutes and something that you should try while your there.
If you are into hiking, the network of trails in and around the park are outstanding and great hikes are all within 15 minutes of your RV.
And then there is Bend and Redmond.  Two really cool cities that are wonderful to visit.  Brewery’s and nice shops make the day in either Bend or Redmond something worth the drive.
If you are ever in Central Oregon, pay a visit to the Tumalo State Park.. you will be glad you did.

The DIY Option

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!

Window Up Grade! AP Products Thin Shade

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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Maryhill

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.

How low will you go?

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 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!

Anniversary Weekend

We spent our 27th Wedding Anniversary at the Oregon Coast this past weekend.  It was a typical February at the coast.  Sun, Rain, a little Snow.. you know.. typical Oregon February weather… but nothing to stop us from having a wonderful weekend.  We pulled the RV down to Cape Lookout State Park, one of our favorite State Parks.  It was quiet and fairly empty this time.  A couple groups were camping in the Yurts at the park, but the RV spots were wide open.
IMG_0243

We got a break on Saturday and the sun came out.  We spent about two hours walking on the beach letting the dogs run and have some fun.  Friday night we went into Pacific City to the Pelican Brewery for a nice dinner to celebrate 27 years together.  The setting was beautiful and the meal was wonderful.  My Sister and Brother in Law brought their RV down also and joined us in our celebration.  This is their 27th year also, but they will celebrate in June.
AkOw0W1nTD+EiDtkGofebwWe went into Tillamook and picked up a few things that we needed, things that we could have got at home, but hey we were out.  We did make a trip to the Tillamook Country Smoker store.  We love their meat sticks and jerky and the prices at the factory store can not be beat.

The rest of the weekend we spent playing games and just relaxing.  We enjoy just being out and spending time together and with friends.  There is something about being in the RV for us that is wonderful.  We are automatically put in relax mode when we hook up and drive away with the Passport in tow.
A wonderful way to spend the weekend and celebrate 27 years with the love of my life.. yep.. Happiness!