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!

Happiness and Joy

Happiness: The State of being Happy.
Synonyms: Pleasure, Contentedness, Satisfaction, Cheerfulness, Cheeriness, Merriment, Merriness, Gaiety, Joy, Joyousness, Joviality, Jollity, Jolliness, Glee, Blitheness, Carefreeness, Gladness, Delight, Good Spirits, High Spirits, Light- heartedness, Good Cheer, Well-being, Enjoyment, Felicity.

Joy: A feeling of great pleasure and Happiness.
Synonyms: Great Pleasure, Joyfulness, Jubilation, Triumph, Exultation, Rejoicing, Happiness, Gladness, Glee, Exhilaration, Ebullience, Exuberance, Elation, Euphoria, Bliss, Ecstasy, Transports of delight, Rapture, Radiance.

crismeI had an interesting discussion yesterday with a dear friend of mine about Happiness. We talked about this journey that Teresa and I have set ourselves upon to have a Happy life. He expressed that he was not as much interested in finding happiness as he was in finding Joy. He thought this was an important distinction, I called it semantics. So I had to look it up.  It turns out that it can be a matter of semantics.. or… a matter of perception.  You see, my friend is a great guy and a Godly man.  His perspective, while we both see the same thing is viewed through the lens of Grace.  I hope I am not over simplifying this, but when I think Happy and all that it mean in our lives, he see’s Joy.  After looking at the synonyms for both words the appear to be interchangeable.  It will come down to what you are feeling or looking for as you seek Happiness or Joy.  I can totally see where he is coming from because I know him.
Good Spirits and Light Heartedness are all well and good for him… but being Elated and having a feeling of Exhilaration are much, much better.  And don’t we all want that. Everyone that knows me knows that I love to laugh, joke, and have a great time.  They also know that my friends are a big part of what makes me happy.  It is exhilarating to have wonderful people in my life that make me happy.
As we entered this “Retirement stage” of my life I took stock of the way we lived our life.  I have mentioned before that the Happy Place Diaries is not our attempt at finding Happiness, rather it is our quest to keep our lives Happy.  And that requires us to know what that looks like (our vision of happiness).  As we talked about our life and what we want we went to the definition of Happiness and looking the synonyms we loved what we saw.  It fits us.
Happiness and Joy go hand and hand.  After our little discussion last night I can’t help but think of this like a steak from Sizzler or a steak from Ruths Chris Steak house.  They are both steak, but one is a better cut, much better flavor, and just the thought of it makes your mouth water.  They are both good and fit, but Joy is taking Happiness to the next level.
So maybe in a few years we will start the Joy Place Diaries.. a Journey to a Joyful life… or we keep being happy with the life we have.. Content with who and what we are and we find Joy in that.
We are blessed to have friends like this.  He brings Joy into my life and I am glad we had some fantastic talk last night.
I hope that you all are finding Happiness and Joy in your lives.
Your thoughts are welcome.

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!

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!

 

 

 

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.