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!

Question of the week:
Have you checked out our YouTube Channel?  If so, have you subscribed?
We are looking for 100 Subscribers to help our little Channel grow!
Please consider a free subscription to stay connected with us on YouTube.

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!

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!

The Good, The Bad, and the …

LOVE and HATE__As we sit around in our RV we can’t but get into those conversations that ask…
What would we change if we did it all over again?  What is it that we absolutely love about our RV and what do we hate?… we hate is kinda rough.. what, if we had a magic wand would we change in our RV or what would we like in our next RV?
So here are some of the Good, the Bad, and the.. well we really don’t have anything Ugly.
The Good.
We Love the layout and the space of our RV.  It gives us lots of room to hang out with friends, play games, and relax.  I love the fact that when you walk around in the trailer you don’t have to walk sideways or wait till the other person moves.  There is plenty of space.  With the Rear Lounge layout we have great seating for socializing and relaxing in the RV.  I love the big rear window and the views it affords.
We love the two rocking chairs that are in the rear lounge.  They are comfortable and are in the perfect place for relaxing and being social.
We love the Bedroom, or specifically the queen size bed.  With the added memory foam the comfort is incredible.  We also love that the bedroom is completely apart from the main living area and has a pocket door that allows for privacy during much-needed nap time.
The restroom is a good size, but the feature I love the most there is shower.  There is plenty or room in the shower and we don’t have to hunch down to get wet.
The kitchen area is serviceable.  It does what it is designed to do.  The stove top is nice with its three burner cook top.  The oven is small, but works for what we need it to do.
There is not a lot of counter space, but the dinette is right across from the galley, so prep work can be done there.
Where we do have a lot of space is in storage.  There is a ton of cabinets and storage space in this trailer.  We love to have a place for everything and have everything in its place.
The Bad.
There is nothing so bad with this trailer that you can’t live with.  But as we are always looking for the next best thing, or things that can be better here are the things that we would change if we had a magic wand.
First, and what will more than likely be our next project is the bathroom sink, specifically the faucet.  It is positioned under a medicine cabinet that does not allow for you to really get over the sink.  This makes even washing hands and brushing teeth a bit of a challenge.  A faucet with a longer arm or corner placement would have been better.
The space around the bed in the bedroom.  This is a tight area and makes walking around the bed tough,  Another 4 inches or so would be nice.  But then we would sacrifice the Queen bed… that’s not an option.  Maybe in the next RV we get a slide out in the bed room too.
The couch in the living area.  It is a fold out bed and seats two.  It’s not the most comfortable, but then again, it’s not terrible.  I would replace it with recliners or two more rockers though.  It would be a better use of seating and space.
The table at the dinette.  It is a good size table as is… but when we get in the trailer to play cards or board games with our friends, it can get tight.  A table with about 6 more inches in width would be perfect.
And that is it.  We love our Passport Trailer.  It is our Happy Place.  While we can dream and wish and fix things up, at the end of the day this trailer is a gem.  We love it.
If you could change just one thing in your RV… what would it be?  Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.

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.

Upgrading the Camera- Canon M 50

img_0209Recently we have been learning how to make better videos and as a result trying to learn to shot better photos.  Thank goodness for Youtube, there is a lot of information out there.  Now that I am on a fixed income… camera gear has to fall into a serious budget and so we needed to find bang for our buck.  After doing a lot of research we decided to go with a camera that shoots fantastic video and takes good to great pictures.  I still have a lot to learn about the set up and mechanics of photography, but this camera is set up to make it a fantastic entry level camera.
I am still learning, but there are some great tutorials out there.
Here are my impressions of the camera after using it for the last few weeks.
First.  The size. Unlike the DLSR camera’s this camera is a lot less bulky.  It fits well in the hand and still has lots of fantastic features.
Second.  It has a nice flip screen on the back which is also a touch screen.  This feature is nice as you can control the camera by touching the screen.  Focus, menus, and camera settings are all right there at the touch of the screen.  For a beginner, it is nice to see the changes in the picture as you make them.  This has really helped me learn what the camera and settings do.
Finally.  The price.  Yeah, the price was a big factor in getting this camera.  I picked it up on Amazon for $599.00 and got free shipping.  The value is certainly worth it in my opinion.  I think that a combination of the size, ease of use, and quality help me learn and actually use the M 50.  It is very convenient to haul around and use.  I am liking this camera a lot.
So here are the specs for the M 50.

Specifications

Key Specs

  • Maximum Video Frame Rate- Up to 60 fps
  • Wi-Fi Enabled
  • Lens Mount Compatibility- Canon EF, Canon EF-M, Canon EF-S

Dimension

  • Product Width- 4.6 inches
  • Product Height- 3.5 inches
  • Product Depth- 2.3 inches
  • Camera Body Weight- 0.78 pounds

Compatibility

  • Remote Compatible- Yes
  • Memory Card Compatibility- Secure Digital, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC), Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)

Display

  • Display Type-
    LCD touch screen
  • Varying Angle Screen
  • Folding Display Form Factor

Connectivity

  • Number Of Memory Card Slots -1
  • No Internal Memory Included
  • Output(s)- HDMI
  • No Integrated GPS
  • Tripod/Monopod Mountable

Included

  • No Memory Card Included
  • Batteries Included
  • Number of Lenses Included- Kit Lens 15-45mm
  • Lens Series- Canon EF-M

Performance

  • Not Shock Resistant
  • Records Audio
  • Self Timer

Power

  • AC Adapter Compatible
  • Battery Model- LP-E12
  • Removable Battery
  • Rechargeable Battery

Feature

  • Digital Camera Type-  Mirrorless Camera with Lens
  • Integrated Flash
  • Slow Motion Recording

Imaging

  • Lens Type- Standard Zoom
  • Image File Format(s)- JPEG, RAW
  • Face Detection
  • Low Light/High Sensitivity
  • Brightness Control
  • Number Of Images Per Charge- 235

Exposure Control

I hope you enjoyed this review.  I like the camera and am learning so much about photography by using it.  Hopefully the quality of our videos and the pictures that we take on adventures will get better and better.

What camera do you use?
Thanks again for stopping by our Happy Place.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

high-windThis last weekend there was a big Scouting event out at the Oregon Coast.  Specifically, the event is held annually at a National Guard Camp.  The Scouts like it as it provides some real nice facilities and barracks, which is really nice for an event in January at the Coast.  But as you can imagine, a room full of Scouts or Scouters can be a bit loud and the snoring in the adult rooms is overwhelming.
The event being at the Army camp is great for me as a retiree from the Army.  The camp has an RV park, full hook ups and nice and level.  So each year, I bring the RV so I can participate in the event and still get a great nights sleep.  Win Win! Seeing as this is an Order of the Arrow event and not a unit event I don’t have to be with the boys from our Troop.
Friday we arrived at the Camp and got set up.  There was a little drizzle, but the weather was coming in.  By Friday night the winds were blowing steady at around 30 mph and gusting to 50 mph.
I had the slide out in place and the slide topper was smacking the roof.  It sounded like a freight train was coming through.  I went outside to check on the topper, nervous that it would rip or come unattached from the trailer.  I had never been in the RV with winds so high.  Being safer than sorry, I pulled the slide out in to keep the topper from being destroyed.
This settled the rocking down a little and I could sleep well knowing that no more damage would be done to the RV.
The trailer shook and rocked so much that it actually shifted off the blocks I put the stabilizers on.
The next morning the sun came out and the winds had died.  I did a good walk around the trailer and found no damage.. whew.  The topper was in place and worked properly when I put the slide out.  Relief.
We have never been in anything like that before in the RV.. it reminded though of the reason (one of the reasons) that we got into the RV.. We were camped in our tent at the coast when we got hit by 70 mph gusts.. it just was not fun anymore.  So on the way home from that trip we talked about looking into RVing.  We have not regretted that storm since.  But this time was a little different in that now it is our RV and I did not want to see it damaged.. A rip in a tent is a small issue compared to damage to an RV.
I am glad that I was in it though.. the Shake, Rattle, and Roll, of the RV was still better than a tent, and way better than sleeping in those barracks.
Question of the Week…
Whats the biggest storm you have been in with your RV?
Any great stories?
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!