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What is all the Buzz about???

Camping, Glamping & the World of Recreational Vehicles

“Oh, the places you’ll go!” Dr. Seuss

My husband calls me Camper Crazy because I have been nagging him for the past 3 years to buy an RV.  I keep pitching the idea that we should live full-time in an RV when we retire… just a few years away! 

However, he thinks I am Crazy…Irrational…and just plain NUTS!  My husband is a workaholic and not one that likes to try new things.   The thought of buying a camper totally stresses him out.  So we have decided that we need to entrench ourselves in finding the pros and cons of camping and glamping and figure out which RV would work best for our circumstances and our future goals. 

We have visited many blog sites and watched 100’s of videos on different types of RVs…..MANY ARE SO BORING. Plus, they have done nothing to convince my husband that an RV is something we need to buy, let alone live in.  Let’s face it, you can only watch so many RV Salespeople showing you the features of an RV and then you find yourself…. snoring and dribbling spit on your pillow.

This site is a multi-family combined effort featuring the World of Camping, Glamping and Recreational Vehicles.  Why should YOU subscribe to our blog and follow us on You Tube?  Because we will give you the  Buzz of info to be off and running as another CAMPER CRAZY, FUN LOVING INDIVIDUAL!

  • We will follow some RV trips of new campers and experienced campers.  We will share their likes and dislikes, pros and cons. 
  • We will learn the dos and don’ts – tips and tricks – and share Hilarious, Outrageous  stories!!!   
  • What kind of RV works best for young families, working couples, seniors, and single people?  A CLASS; B CLASS, C CLASS?  No we are not talking about school for you non-campers.
  • But wait…Mark and I have been involved in construction all our lives.  In fact, we volunteer a lot of our time in helping with disaster relief work.  Wow….you would think he would want an RV to be able to do more in this type of work. 

Is retrofitting an older camper more logical, economical and conducive to a more attractive interior?  We may be retiring in a few years but I don’t want our RV to be classified as a Grandpa’s or Grandma’s Camper.  Jeez, that is why we call ourselves Pa and Gigi to our granddaughters.  If you didn’t know…Gigi is a grandmother but so much cooler!  So, for me a Cool Awesome Camper is absolutely a necessity. Plus, my 8 year old granddaughter would never want to vacation in an ugly camper with her Gigi. Gigi & Derby Adventures are never boring and are very cool.

  • What do we buy for our RV, when we determine which one to buy? After all, we want our married children and their families to travel with us on family vacations.  Our son, Shane is so much like his father and thinks RESORT = NO RV.  But his wife Kelli, would love joining us on RV trips.  Our daughter Summer is with me.  She would love to get an RV and is trying to sweet talk her husband Garth so maybe…just maybe they can join in on the family fun with our grandbaby Cookie.
  • And what about food?  What meals are the healthiest and easiest to make on the road? 
  • What campsites are the best?
  • We will also share pics and videos of areas you may want to visit and more!

This site is dedicated to finding the answers and featuring REAL LIFE CAMPERS in REAL LIFE (sometimes messy) RVs.  Most of all, it is dedicated to helping everyone become Camper Crazy!!! 

Next up….The First Time RV Family

                YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS…A young couple with 3 kids on their first RV trip from Florida to Canada, driving a Ford F-250 pulling a new Grey Wolf Travel Trailer, (their rig on top of blog page).   So far, this trip falls somewhere between the movie RV and the National Lampoon Griswold Family. If anything can go wrong on this trip, so far it has.

Stay tuned to the adventures of Brent (B.J.) & Shanna, with the teenage son who likes video games and computers, the 9 year old daughter who likes to run 5k races with her mom and their adorable baby who has some special needs and the motivation for BJ to purchase an RV.

And then….Chuck & Dana

                A mid-aged (mid-life crisis maybe?) couple with 3 married children:  their eldest son and his wife and their travel friendly puppy, Tokyo catch up with their parents in California and travel up the coast, then they will be joined by their daughter, an Irish dance instructor and her husband.

Chuck and Dana are traveling from Florida to Vancouver on a six week trip in their brand new Winnebago View.  Their children are taking turns flying in to travel different legs on the trip with their parents.  This trip got off to a rough start, but the pics and videos are amazing.  You won’t want to miss being a part of this trip.

Traveling with them on this trip are her parents:

                Danny & Mary Ellen, who are Totally Experienced Glampers to the Extreme!  From previously traveling in a coach fit for a King and Queen, to now traveling in a new Pleasure-way Class B, they offer so many tips and tricks.  But, don’t let their fancy lifestyle fool you.  Danny is also an experienced Kayaker and Hiker.  He is a true camper and can help us learn the best items to use when camping in a small tent in the wild…yes with wild bears and snakes and bugs of every sort.  You can check out some of his hiking trips on YouTube @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngBadyvqGEM

So, now we are off…let the Adventure begin….join us at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-KjzYdmcJRpcRS3AAEEjQA and subscribe to join the fun. Our goal each week is gaining 100 subscribers to our channel and our blog. Can you help us reach that goal?

Please subscribe on the Blog Home page so you can get all the Camper Crazy Buzz!

Meals on Wheels – The RV Kind

What’s for dinner?  I’m hungry! Is it time to eat yet?  Those words can even be more aggravating when you are camping and you are the only one that cooks in the family.

Frequently I see people asking the same questions, and moms making the same comments over and over again on different social media RV Group sites:

 “Can anyone give me some easy meal ideas?”

 “What are some healthy foods that are best for camping?”

 “Tired of hot dogs, burgers and steaks!”

 “Tired of cooking & cleaning, no fun for mom!”

MEALS ON WHEEL 101

Be Creative:  

1. Make a menu. Design a menu that suits your family and utilize 30 minute recipes. Rachael Ray & Food Network has many 30 minute meal ideas.

Creating a menu can be time consuming but you will save time and money at the grocery store and you will know each day what you are making. It also helps you store your food in a way to access what you need first. 

2. Save time at camp – Meal prepping will make life a little easier at mealtime. While I am a make it from “scratch” cook at home, I don’t want to spend all my time cooking when camping especially if our kids & grandkids travel with us. Meals on Wheels means sometimes my family will HAVE TO SUFFER as I utilize some packaged foods like Zataran’s Rice & Idahoan Instant Potatoes, Bob Evans Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes or Amy’s Organic Mac & Cheese.

3. Combine, condense and collaborate.

Combine & use the same ingredients in different ways. For example roast a chicken in advance or purchase a couple at your grocer and shred it. Vacuum seal part of it for nachos. Prepare a chicken salad with part of it and make chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. Use part of it in a pasta salad.

Condense items by VACUUM SEALING IN PORTION SIZES PER MEAL. For instance if you purchase premade hamburgers, take them out of the packaging and VACCUM SEAL to save space in the freezer or refrigerator. Same goes for anything that comes in a box like perogies.

Collaborate – If traveling in a group and you think you may end up eating together some evenings, talk among yourselves and decide what each person is doing on a given evening. Saves confusion and time.

4. Tools of the trade. Figure out what items work best for you to quickly make meals. We utilize our grill most, but I also use an electric skillet, a crock pot, a small waffle iron and 1 iron skillet and 1 nonstick skillet. Others swear by the Instapot and Air Fryers. Figure out what works for you and how much room you have to store such items. Mini Waffle Iron is fabulous on Amazon https://amzn.to/3yNJKqQFood Saver Vac Seal is our favorite on Amazon https://amzn.to/3i19hWI

TIP: CREATING A MENU TAKES TIMEDON’T WAIT TILL THE LAST minute. 

If you get stuck – design a menu using a theme or by specific cuisine.

TIP: DON’T DISCARD MENUS. SAVE MENUS for future trips. Tweak what you didn’t like and improve it if necessary

TIP: Use your menu & make a shopping list. If you hate making lists, use an online site to save your recipes and enter the list of ingredients first in the recipe and use it when shopping. Paprika App, Pinterist & Big Oven are just a few. My sister has used Onetsp.com for years.

Tip: Check yourself out and bag your food by meal day plan, dry & canned foods together and refrigerated foods together. Our camper sits in our driveway, when I unload the car I carry all the dry/canned bags into the camper. I store the last day ‘s menu food items in the back of the cupboard and work forward so on the first day, all your main ingredients are in the front and you are not digging around trying to find what you need to cook.

When it is just the two of us for a few days or a week, we typically eat a large lunch consisting of a grilled protein and have a salad. If you plan to make salads, prep before hand. For example, make your hardboiled eggs in advance. I also precook my bacon and then it only takes seconds to warm in the microwave for breakfast or add to a salad. When grandkids are coming, I make pancakes in advance & then it only takes a few minutes to warm them and add that already cooked bacon and serve it up. Look for creative ways to serve your food. Then it won’t look like the same ole thing!

MY FIRST DINNER MENU TRAVELING WITH FAMILY

Since our daughter’s family was traveling with us, I thought it would be best to utilize basic dinners and make sandwiches for lunch. Then breakfast could be a combination of cereals, muffins, yogurts and fresh fruits. Our campground had a great little ice cream bar so that took care of dessert each evening.

Sunday: Chicken Kabobs with Cilantro Lime Rice (Vigo or Zatarain’s) and Grilled Pineapple (Mojitos for adults)

Monday: Pulled pork Sandwich with cole slaw, mac and cheese & Watermelon slices (Jack & Coke for adults)

Typically I make pulled pork & freeze it for camping trips. Then I use it for BBQ Sandwiches or have it with rice and black beans. Or if I am pressed for time, I use Jack Daniels Frozen Pulled Pork . I prefer to make my mac & cheese from scratch but when camping we use Bob Evans Mac and Cheese or Annie’s Frozen Mac & Cheese depending on refrigerator space.

Tuesday: Shrimp & Crawfish Boil (Grilled Mahi for our daughter) (Hurricanes for adults)

Wednesday: BBQ Ribs, cole slaw, baked beans and Pasta Salad (Long Islands for adults)

Thursday: Filet Steak tips with onions and mushrooms with mashed potatoes. If I have enough space in the fridge I used fresh mushrooms but just in case I also buy jarred mushrooms & a jarred gravy if necessary. (Old Fashioned for adults)

Friday: Grilled salmon with grilled bacon wrapped asparagus and baked sweet potatoes/ baked Idaho potatoes (Chelsea Sidecar for adults)

Saturday: Chicken Alfredo – Prefer to make my own sauce but take jarred sauce just in case we are pressed for time.

(A nice bottle of wine….just for me!)

CHECK OUT MY FUTURE INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL MENUS BLOG

Coming Soon: Cool Charcuterie Boards, Which Hitch, Additions for Travel Trailers and don’t forget to subscribe!

HAPPY CAMPERS

The beginning of going broke – The RV Spiral

TIPS & ACCESSORY LIST FOR YOUR RV

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ IT ADDS UP QUICK!

After purchasing our new Apex, which in all respects is a very modest purchase, the real shocker is what we would need to purchase to actually use the RV.  From basic items like towels and bedding; to water pressure meters and tire gauges (which requires changing the stems on our truck & trailer tires) and wheel chocks, etc……

Yes, this is only the beginning. (If you are a blog skimmer, if nothing else, pay attention to the items highlighted in Red.)

If you end up purchasing a travel trailer, the first big extra expense may be the HITCH.  We researched for several months and made a decision that we were going to purchase a hitch that we felt would be one of the safest to pull with.  Of course, it came with a high price tag but to us it is worth it.  It required a conscious decision to be willing to sacrifice on other items.  I would rather be covered up with a cheap blanket sleeping cozily in my bed, than covered up with dirt six feet under.

In a future blog we will focus on the hitch purchased and why!

We kept adding to our list and had to choose between “this” and “that”.  My husband likes to go a little “over the top” in anything that has to do with tools, meters, gauges.  So that means that in order to not totally go broke, we must make sacrifices, for instance, choosing between the coffee maker I really want and end up buying an inexpensive one from Walmart.  It boils down to what is most important.

DO THIS FIRST: My first recommendation is purchasing the basics before picking up your RV. If you purchase from an RV Dealer you won’t necessarily get the best prices. Also, look in your house drawers, cupboards and closets for doubles of anything that you can utilize in your camper.  Do this BEFORE you go shopping. Otherwise, you may see the latest and greatest gadget and decide not to use that old wine opener and leave it laying in the kitchen drawer to take up space.

LOOK FOR ONLINE COUPONS & COMPARE PRICES: Since we started shopping for items online due to the pandemic, we looked for coupons and compared prices.  Although Amazon Prime is just so easy to use and purchase from and to RETURN if you don’t like something, I have found a few great deals at Camping World and E-trader.  If retail shops are open where you live, look for clearance items.  Don’t overlook stores like Homegoods, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Ross where you may find great deals on oven mitts and storage bins. One RVer said she bought her storage baskets at Dollar Tree.  Another said Dollar Tree has all the common spices in light weight plastic containers

If you have friends that own RVs, ask them for advice on what you need, and good places to purchase from.  You may find that they may have an extra “something” that they purchased and never used and simply give it to you or give you a great deal.

The following is a COLLECTIVE LIST OF ACCESSORIES AND MUST HAVES from family and friends!

It is not totally comprehensive but will give you a good start.

Note: In an effort to get into the fulltime RV Lifestyle, I started this blog and some of these links may be part of an affiliate program that may pay a small commission. To enable us to get into the RV World full-time sooner, we are hoping this blog will enable us to make a little extra income and reach our goal to GET & STAY ON THE ROAD and share our tips along our way. Thank you in advance for any that use these links and find them helpful.

General items:

  1.  Grilling equipment and accessories – Our RV came with a grill, however many RVers like the Blackstone grill. This is a small table top version: https://amzn.to/2Tvp3Rx Here is a nice little grill accessory kit: https://amzn.to/2TuQ73n
  2. Mosquito repellent, citronella candles, wasp spray, ant traps   We purchased Thermacells which so far are working well. I purchased the one like a lantern so it is easy to carry and move around. We love, love, love these: https://amzn.to/3wiltHH Ants seem to want to inhabit our RV since our little outing last week. Personally we try and use eco-friendly repellents if possible but I purchased ant traps to keep on hand. Cinnamon is a strong ant repellent as well as other natural products that you may want to consider.
  3. Camping chairs with cup holders and a bag.    This is where you can choose “this” or “that”.  We purchased Zero Gravity Lounge Chairs at the end of the season last year at Home Depot for $30 on clearance.  Friends have purchased chairs for as little as $6 at Walmart anD others purchased PICO CHAIRS that cost in excess of $100. On my list of A FUTURE must buy is a rocking chair for camp since I have a beautiful grandbaby. I found this one and have it on my list! https://amzn.to/3xjDd6B
  4. Camping Table – this is a recommendation we received from my niece an avid RVer. This is a nice ultra-lite option: https://amzn.to/3hisCDF
  5. Picnic Table Cover & plastic clamps to hold it down in windy weather. These are an inexpensive option and also on my list to purchase: https://amzn.to/3hEID5E
  6. Outdoor area rug for under awning. We purchased a few smaller rugs that were on sale. I wished I had purchased a much larger rug like this one that comes with its own bag! https://amzn.to/3wjR0ZC On one of our last RV trips we saw a neighbor with a rug edged in LED lighting which probably will reduce tripping at night (unless you are drunk and then that probably won’t help anyway). Found one that looks pretty cool: https://amzn.to/3wdQCfi
  7. Bic lighters – Ok seems like a no brainer but we forgot to purchase before our first trip. https://amzn.to/3jSxUqS
  8. Water hose & filters (camping in cold weather – consider heated water hose) – We have never been disappointed with any Camco products so far. Here is a BPA & Lead free drinking water hose that is thicker and an Anti-Kink design: https://amzn.to/3yoXub9 The filter is also made by Camco: https://amzn.to/3xjz7LP
  9. Water Pressure Regulator – Of course my husband did not want just a basic water regulator although many of our friends use this: https://amzn.to/3yqeY77 He wanted one that looks like he works for the Water Utility Company, but he is very happy with it. However, it is a little over $20 more expensive but gives him an exact measurement: https://amzn.to/2SNrs9B
  10. Sewage hose with clear fitting 90 https://amzn.to/3hgK6Qx and a DONUT (not the kind you eat) https://amzn.to/3Ar35Qh and GLOVES to handle sewer hoses https://amzn.to/2TDjsZh
  11. STORAGE CONTAINER for sewage hoses and gloves – Currently we use basic rubbermaid storage boxes with lids but I am not thrilled. Looking for new options.
  12. STORAGE CONTAINER for water hoses, filters – Currently we use basic rubbermaid storage boxes with lids but I am not thrilled. Looking for new options.
  13. Leveling blocks and wheel chockshttps://amzn.to/3jOLgEG & https://amzn.to/3Au6RZ5
  14. Mop – Broom System (we use Norwex Small Mop System) https://summerpinnock.norwex.biz/ or a Small Vacuum https://amzn.to/3e4cZ0H
  15. EMS ELECTRICAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM SURGE PROTECTER: This is a must have. Any surges in power or lightening strikes around the area may damage your electrical components within the RV. Replacing electrical components or appliances can be very costly. Although this unit seems very expensive, it is a lot less expensive than replacing a damaged appliance or other electrical device or computers. IF YOUR RV REQUIRES 30 AMP PROTECTION CHOOSE THIS: https://amzn.to/3hfAWnE IF YOUR RV REQUIRES 50 AMP PROTECTION CHOOSE THIS: https://amzn.to/3jKGeck My husband with an electrical background chose this because it constantly monitors electrical activities with a security locking bracket. Although we have never had any issues with anything coming up missing when we camp, we do secure our EMS with a basic bike key lock to the electrical post. https://amzn.to/3AvB7ma
  16. Lockless Monster Anti-theft Cable to secure several toys and bikes, etc. https://amzn.to/3AtlXxT
HAMPTON ZERO GRAVITY CHAIR

GENERAL ITEMS & INSIDE THE RV:

  1. Museum Putty – Help secure items on counter. This is a MUST HAVE: https://amzn.to/3ynvapG
  2. Command Hooks – For hanging pictures, hanging towels, etc. https://amzn.to/2V1stM0
  3. Magnetic Hooks – We use these outside in our pullout grill/fridge https://amzn.to/3qOVoPt

Bathroom:

#1 CHOICE FOR BLACK TANK TREATMENT
  1. Wall mounted shampoo & soap dispenser – if needed – https://amzn.to/3hGj7wK I have not installed ours and I forgot to store the shampoo bottle and conditioner after our last trip. So what did we find when we stopped? Broken bottles on the shower floor with shampoo and conditioner everywhere. For us, this is a need!
  2. Foaming Soap dispenser (I purchased a set of two and use one at the kitchen sink) https://amzn.to/3jSKQwW Just adhere these with museum putty and you don’t have to worry about them tipping over when you travel or remembering to store them away when you leave camp.
  3. Waste basket, toilet bowl brush and BLACK TANK treatment – Each RV bathroom differs greatly in size so that will determine which waste basket you can use. This may be a good option for us and I am excited to try it: https://amzn.to/2VcaeUk There are so many black tank treatments but the one that we prefer to keep that stinky smell away without using awful chemicals is “Happy Campers”https://amzn.to/3AvXGaw
  4.  Towels & Wash cloth – Our original purchase was Turkish Towels – the benefit is that they dry very quickly and you can purchase in multi-colors so each person knows which towel is theirs while traveling.  These were recommended to us because they are softer and seem to be better quality than some of the others.…the fringe seems to stay tied better too.  Just tug on knots before and after washing. https://amzn.to/3AvXGaw

OUR TOP CHOICE FOR BATH AND KITCHEN TOWELS AND WASH CLOTHS, LAUNDRY SOAP AND MORE:

NORWEX – This great quality microfiber with BacLock stuff is amazing. You can even wash without soap, using only a body cloth and you will not smell and you will be clean. You can simply hang the towel and face/body cloth after your shower and they dry quickly and do not have any odor. Read WHY the products are so great and to purchase: https://summerpinnock.norwex.biz/ But the TOWELS ARE AMAZING. They absorb all the moisture off your body and dry quickly and even have a built in loop to hang.

FAVORITE TOWELS FOR RV

 KITCHEN:

  1.  The basics:  Dishes, silverware, kitchen utensils, collapsible colander, thin plastic cutting board, steak & cooking knives, toaster, coffee pot, towels, wash clothes, can opener, hand mixer, blender, skillet, collapsible measuring spoons https://amzn.to/3dJyvaC, etc. For dishes we use Corelle. This is a neutral white set that could work for all decor: https://amzn.to/3hwuZS8 Although this is the set we have for our RV: https://amzn.to/2Twfr9a
  2. Sink strainers – Collapsible strainers and colanders help save room. This set has collapsible spoons as part of the set: https://amzn.to/36h4Cdy
  3. Pots and Pans – Nesting pots are a great choice with limited storage. They have removal handles and are stainless steel. This is a great choice: https://amzn.to/3xwqSvW and another less expensive option with an aluminum core is a 7 piece set by Camco is: https://amzn.to/3dLl228
  4. Stainless steel mixing bowls with plastic lids can be used to mix ingredients, serve in and store food in the fridge. This set even has 3 grater options & non-slip bottoms! https://amzn.to/3jJr1ID
  5. Pot holders – These are so cute https://amzn.to/3Ayk1Ec and we know that life is always greater at the campsite as these remind us: https://amzn.to/36jOTuc\
  6. Glasses, coffee cups, pitcher.  Experienced RVers have recommended Tervis Tumblers with lids as a good choice since they are lightweight and keep beverages hot or cold. Tervis (I use these for my cold drinks and coffee) A set of four gives us 2 for us and 2 for guests. We use multi-color lids so we know which drink is for each person. https://amzn.to/3dKPxp4 Clear Tervis 16 oz. tumblers & multi-color lids https://amzn.to/3AykRAQ My husband is a Steelers Fan (boo!) but I bought him this Tervis Coffee Cup anyway: https://amzn.to/3hkvCiV but I guess as a Brown’s fan I need to buy this for me: https://amzn.to/3AyE8SG
  7. Cloth collapsible storage bins (For campers with limited drawers or clothes storage areas) We use these for our clothes and store them in the bin above our bed: https://amzn.to/36h6yTn
  8. First Aid Kit – DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT A FIRST AID KIT. This 299 piece kit is easy to store and has the basics of what you may need. https://amzn.to/3AvLAOF
  9. Meat Thermometer (Great for grilling & more) Lavatools PT12 is a great digital instaread thermometer. Check it out: https://amzn.to/3yv4Da7
  10. Wine & Beer Opener – As a former bartender, something like this would work: https://amzn.to/3e4t7zh or you could use a magnetic beer opener like this: https://amzn.to/3dLFnEo

Of course there are other items you will need, but if you are new to RVing, this list should help you save some time in your research so you can purchase some basics and get you well on your way in traveling down the RV Spiral!

Note: In an effort to get into the fulltime RV Lifestyle, I started this blog and some of these links may be part of an affiliate program that may pay a small commission. To enable us to get into the RV World full-time sooner, we are hoping this blog will enable us to make a little extra income and reach our goal to GET & STAY ON THE ROAD and share our tips along our way. Thank you in advance for any that use these links and find them helpful.

POP-UP PIZZAZZ

WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH $3000

Technically speaking an expandable camper would include any type of tent or RV that is able to be expanded once it is set in place. For the purpose of this blog the focus is FOLDING POP-UP CAMPERS!

With a new interest in purchasing and renting RV’s because of COVID CRAZY 2020, camping has become trendy even among those that may have never considered it before. But now, it is considered an ideal way to travel and vacation. A very easy way to vacation while keeping a safe distance from others, it can be a very economical choice for a family – especially if they purchase a used Pop-Up Camper. It is lightweight and easy to tow, can easily sleep a family of four+ (even if they all look like they are professional basketball players), and can be bought used for under 3K, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

A few weeks ago glancing through my Instagram feed, I noticed a pic of a used pop-up tent camper. The person posting the picture is a very close friend of our family and is a successful reseller of vintage clothing and accessories. “Could she now be in the business of reselling campers?”…I wondered with furrowed brow.

Her husband who is the same age as my oldest son did not seem like the “camping type”. I have known him for years, just doesn’t seem like something he would want to do. I guess I didn’t really know him after all. They have a recently graduated high schooler and a senior in high school this year, surely they would be bored going to campsites I thought. Yes, I was convinced she was going to flip that camper! Then I saw another pic where she was starting to renovate the camper. Absolutely! She was going to live my dream, buy a camper on the cheap, fix it up and sell it and make some extra cash. I was so excited for her! So I called her and much to my dismay, she was not fixing it up to sell.

Like so many other families this year, they decided to try camping since it seemed like the safest alternative in Covid Crazy 2020. They planned to take short trips from home and get a change of scenery. They didn’t want to spend a lot of money and it had to be lightweight since they would be pulling with their SUV and it had to sleep 4 VERY TALL PEOPLE. The answer? An old, almost ugly pop-up camper! The model is an early 2000’s model, not very attractive but in decent shape. Our family friend who can see the beauty and value in a vintage piece of clothing that she purchases at a garage sale and then flips on Ebay or Poshmart for a hefty little price tag, can see the value and beauty of this pop-up tent camper.

New pop-up campers can range anywhere from $10,000 to more than $20,000. Of course with any type of purchase, you will have pros and cons. With a pop-up camper most would probably say the cons outweigh the pros, but not for every family. Some of the things to consider is that once you are at the campsite, you now have to expand it. Expanding it once it is at the campsite can be cumbersome especially if it is raining that day.

Many pop-ups can sleep up to six and the beds are large on opposite ends so that is great for taller campers or a way to sleep a few little kiddos in one bed. If it is a cold night, pop-up campers can be hard to keep warm and keep cold on hot summer days due to the canvas wall construction. There is also very little storage space and limited floorspace. On the other hand, I don’t know many campers that want to hang out in their camper day and night….unless you get consecutive rainy days and then you better hope you don’t have any holes that will leak. If you want a nice big shower and private bathroom, you better hope the Campsite facilities are top notch. However, the money you save with a pop-up during this pandemic can be used in the near future when eventually we can travel the world and go to a swanky hotel.

One of the pros of camping in a pop-up camper are the stories you will long remember. Family camping stories can be filled with fun and terror, struggles and hilarity. When I was a child our dad bought a pop-up tent camper. I have no idea why and I only remember taking it to my grandparents place in Pennsylvania sometime in the 1960’s. They had a berry farm on several acres and there were a couple family homes on the property. We were sleeping in my aunt’s house, but my brother and boy cousins were supposed to sleep in the camper. In the middle of the night we all jumped out of bed when we heard the boys screaming. The nightmare for me started when my dad ran out of the bedroom with not a stitch of clothes on but with a rifle in his hand. He and my uncle ran out into the pitch dark not knowing what they would encounter. The boys were screaming that a bear had been trying to get into the camper. I am pretty sure that if a bear was trying to get into a pop-up camper it would no doubt have been able to make one swipe with a massive paw and torn the canvas apart. Being a small child of course, I was convinced it was one of those scary black bears. Of course my dad and uncle did not find any evidence of any black bears but they did see some minor scratches on the camper in the morning. My mom and aunt thought it may be a bobcat. Other family members thought it was a racoon. But whatever it was, nobody ended up sleeping in the camper the rest of the night!

So if you are looking for an inexpensive way to try out camping, you may want to consider a pop-up camper. If you are thrifty like our friend and use a little ingenuity you can transform a used camper into something very cozy and useful for you and your family. It is amazing what a little paint, new fabric, a few cute pillows, new flooring, fresh bed linens and drapes can do. Our friend purchased the used pop-up camper for less than $2600 and she is not called thrifty for nothing. The best part is that she looked for great deals and was able to transform the interior for less than $400! I call this transformation POP-UP PIZZAZZ! Watch the following video to see the finished product:

Drive to Wyoming

I have to say, when traveling across the country pulling 40’ behind you a myriad of things can go wrong. And sometimes they do. Fortunately, as of the time of this writing, it’s been relatively smooth driving. The weather has been fairly cooperative as well.

While I think it’s great that some people who travel have their plans scheduled out a year or months in advance—our family has never traveled like that. That does limit us sometimes when it comes to campgrounds. Many times the nicest ones are booked so you end up calling and hoping they had a cancellation or settling for what you can find. If we’re just stopping overnight it matters little to me (as long as it’s a safe area) what the campground is like, as I have MY home on wheels, which we love, so as long as we have full hookup or even just water and electric I’m happy. Now this kind of traveling isn’t for everyone, it’s just how we do things.

Our drive from mid Nebraska to Cheyenne went well. We stopped at the KOA Cheyenne https://koa.com/campgrounds/cheyenne/?utm_source=campgroundreviews.com&utm_campaign=RVLife_Campgrounds&utm_medium=referral for the evening. I would stay there again. We have found that sometimes the KOA’s are hit or miss. Some are quite nice and others—well, they leave a lot to be desired. There’s approximately 500 of them around so probably if you’ve traveled for any length of time you’ve stayed in one or two. Most of them offer different amenities (for instance the one in Cheyenne had a fenced in dog park, mini golf, a pool, horseshoes, etc.) which is great. Typically we don’t partake of many of the amenities, but they are there if we decide to. They can also be a little pricier than a different campground in the same area—so just do your due diligence and check out the reviews.

Cheyenne KOA
We appreciate the fenced in dog park after a long day of travel!

After one night at the KOA we were off to Montpelier, Idaho. Yes, Idaho. But no worries we had reservations for a site in Alpine, Wy for a few days next so it was literally a stop over point. There we stayed at a KOA https://koa.com/campgrounds/montpelier-creek/ as well…..mostly because there isn’t much else in the area. While there wasn’t anything wrong with it, this one seemed a little more run down than the one in Wyoming. While it was completely filled it didn’t have the same vibe as the one in Cheyenne. It felt a little older and the sites could use a little updating. But for one night it was fine. There was a nice little walking trail that bordered a creek and had wild roses growing nearby which was a lovely 20 minutes spent.

You’re also close to the Oregon trail center, which I think would be super informative and educational to visit. Maybe next trip.

Oregon trail center
Hubby on bridge over creek
Wild roses

The drive between Cheyenne and Idaho was pleasant. I enjoy driving through Wyoming and in all honesty it’s one of my favorite states. The variety in landscape is quite amazing. Eastern Wyoming I would consider an extension of Nebraska. Flat and kind of desolate. One interesting features we saw on rte 80 in Wyoming were the vedauwoo rocks. This is shortly after you leave Cheyenne. People come from all over to rock climb these structures and camp nearby.

Vedauwoo rocks

There’s a lot to see in Wyoming if you have the time. I will say something that can be frustrating (to me at least) is when you’re traveling with a huge 5th wheel you can’t always stop and see things you want to on a whim. Many times I’ll see something and want to stop but we’re limited by our size and parking—or maybe just the route—so I make a note and will try to make plans to see it next time when we can stay closer. So I would say that’s one of the down sides to driving such a big rig.

So after a few days of driving we made it to Wyoming. What will we decide to do next?

We made it! Wyoming!

And we’re off…

No, not to the races—our next stopping point on vacation. Our new trip. It’s like a trip within a trip (The Inception version of vacations maybe) How often does anyone get to do that?

I would like to point out however, because of the Covid outbreak everything is done very thought out and methodically. Only one person goes in to pay for gas, we don’t go into souvenirs shops or to use the public bathrooms anywhere we always wearing a mask, avoiding contact with unnecessary people, all our activities take place outside, etc. Unfortunately because we drive a Ford F-250 diesel and are pulling such a large rig we can’t stop at a typical gas station. We have to use truck stops. Which means that hubby always has to go in and pay for gas otherwise they treat us like they would a truck driver —which obviously costs several hundred dollars to fill- and automatically put a $500 hold on your credit card. (I’m sure that number varies, but we learned that the hard way last year after we stopped twice without knowing that). So when you’re traveling lots of miles and need lots of diesel all those holds add up. So that’s just a tidbit of info for you all who may be in the same situation. We go in and just say we want $x.xx on our card and it works much better.

Moving on…..unfortunately we do have to backtrack some after making this adjustment so back we travel through all of Tennessee. yes we the backtracking too and it easily added an extra day to our drive but I figure any traveling is good traveling so there’s nothing to be upset about. We stopped the first night in Clarksville Tennessee at a cute little RV park there. https://clarksvillervpark.com

We stayed there last year so we already knew it was adequate and had what we needed. Everyone was friendly and they did curb side check in so we didn’t even have to get out of the car.

Their cute little vintage mascot trailer out front!!

It was full hookup with plenty of space so we didn’t have to unhook our camper for the night, which certainly makes it easier to get going in the morning.

After Clarksville, we were headed thru Kentucky (FYI—State of Kentucky—you seriously need to fix your interstate. The roads are in awful shape!) to Illinois and Missouri.

Yes, we viewed the gateway to the west through the car window this drive through St. Louis.

Our stop that evening was Cottonwoods RV park in Columbia, MO https://cottonwoodsrvpark.com.

When we got there we realized we lost a tail lite cover on our trailer somewhere that day—probably Kentucky. This Rv park is somewhere I would absolutely stay again for an evening. The sites were very level and had a lot of space for your RV—once again not having to unhook.

Now I know in writing this it probably makes people anxious that we are only driving and not stopping and doing things, or unhooking for the night—but hey, this is how we roll, I guess!

Also typically we would check out the amenities that each campground has to offer like bathrooms, showers, laundry etc, but to keep risk of contamination low this trip we are avoiding all these things!

Our drive upon leaving Missouri and heading to Nebraska was a little more fun filled. Now, if you’ve ever been through Nebraska you’ll realize that it is 93% farmland. Seriously. So I watched a documentary on the Smithsonian Channel that I enjoy at home frequently—Aeriel America—(https://tve.smithsonianchannel.com/video/series/aerial-america/62184). If you’ve never seen it you should. It gives you a flyover if the state as well as the history. It’s quite interesting to watch.

However, seriously, there is little to see or do. (However we did get hit with a nice rock and now have a huge crack in our windshield so jay has to be fixed when we get home.) So I went on rvtripwizard.com, which is where I do all my route planning and campsite finding, and found a campsite that had only 2 reviews but they were both 5*. I then went to their campsite to look at their website. Looks great! I book it!

We pull in and we’re like…..What? So while it was an okay stopover spot, after being there and parking we realize at one point in time this used to be a campsite and a motel for travelers and these new owners are trying to fix it up and make it nice again! http://firefly-meadows.com So, while right now it’s nothing to write home about, it did seem like they are putting lots of effort and money into it to make it a great place. I don’t have anything negative to say about it at all, actually, just from outward appearances, it was a little run down. I would be interested in checking back next year to see what they accomplish this summer actually.

Firefly meadows campground—under renovation!

We did, however enjoy a most beautiful sunset over the prairie.

So this morning we headed across the plains of Nebraska to tonight’s destination—Cheyenne, Wyoming!

Plains (and trains) of Nebraska Rain headed our way (Nebraska)

Now that we’re here what will tomorrow bring?

What now?

To tell the truth when we left Erwin we were a little unsure about our next destination. Our trips are usually jam packed scheduled out to the day, meticulously researched and busy, busy, busy every day. (Otherwise what’s the point of traveling, right?)

Well obviously my family was unhappy (I heard I’m bored approximately 7,624 times a day) with what was taking place this trip. Which was not very much. We’d sleep in and maybe take a hike in the afternoon—killing a few hours and then do what? Not much. Lots of family togetherness and little WiFi. The kids were clearly dying by this point.

So as we left Tennessee everyone was wondering what we were going to do at our next stop in Fries, Virginia. (Yes, it is spelled like fries, the food, but it’s pronounced like freeze). We were scheduled to be there for a week with NO agenda. Yikes!

It was only a few hours drive to our next RV park and we were there and got set up. The first thing we noticed was that this campground was meticulous and gorgeous. I would highly, highly, highly recommend anyone staying there for a night or longer. http://www.friesrvpark.com/

The owner was a super nice guy named Tom and every sight is creek side with a nice gravel site and a plush lawn. Clearly the owner takes a lot of pride in his park and it’s not overwhelmed with trailers. It’s close to Fancy Gap, Virginia and about 18 miles off of Rte 77 so if you are in the area traveling stop there! In fact, when we travel to visit family in Ohio it’s definitely going to be a stop over point for us!

Small creek and lawn
Our camper from small overlook trail

The town itself has an interesting history, which we learned all about from Wikipedia (and our daughter) as we were traveling through. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fries,_Virginia. It’s an interesting read if you have a few minutes. The town also has a very large waterfall which was quite pretty to watch as it was surrounded by some wildflowers as well.

Fries falls

Here’s the only problem. There’s not much to do—or should I say—there’s not much to do that my family enjoys. So after a very long discussion—-weighing the pros and cons and safety factor—we decided to ….. wait for it ….. drive to Wyoming! What?!?!?

I know, right? So here we go! It’s like starting a whole new trip! Wyoming here we come!

Who are the people in your (RV) neighborhood?

Yes it is a song from Sesame Street but I feel it’s quite appropriate for this situation. Before we left Erwin we had a chance to chat with some of our neighbors. While my striking up conversations with people drives my family (mostly the kids) crazy I think you can learn a lot by being friendly.

(Don’t worry—all these conversations took place while using social distancing guidelines…lol) For instance, one young mom and her daughter had booked a cabin there for 3 months and were only 10 days into their trip. They were from Texas. Another gentleman and his daughter lived there in the area and from the sounds of it somehow were involved with the owners of the RV park (maybe his parents?). He was a contractor and was thinking about moving to New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

The most interesting conversation happened while we were trying to start our fire (FYI—if would never survive in the wild—we couldn’t even start a fire with a lighter 🙄). Our RV neighbors we hadn’t seen at all until then. I asked something simple and found out they had been there for a few days and were from The Villages in Florida. This is about 45 minutes from where we live. Of course, we then mentioned we weren’t FloGrown we were born and raised in Ohio. Where? The Cleveland/Akron area. What? They lived and raised their children one town over from where my husband was born and raised. Crazy right?

We then find out they are in Nolichucky because the husband is hiking the whole Appalachian Trail. Evidently this is a thing . You have one year to hike the whole Appalachian Trail. https://appalachiantrail.org/explore/hike-the-a-t/thru-hiking/. It’s 2,190 miles long. That’s a lot of walking. Our neighbor, we found out, had left in February and then got stopped when they shut the trail down because of Covid. So they added an extra 10 weeks onto his time so he can finish. He mentioned about 3,000 people a year sign up but only about 1/4 of them are able to finish the journey.

I meant to get his information before we left so that I could follow his journey and see if he is able to finish, but the opportunity to talk again never happened! Listening to him I learned a lot that I previously didn’t know, so I hope he is able to accomplish his dream and can do so successfully!

So, if you get a chance to strike up a conversation with your RV neighbor try it. Most people are quite friendly and you might learn something you didn’t know before!

Where in the world is Erwin, TN?

Good question. If you read my last blog you realize this years vacation is slightly different than prior years. So how did we end up in Erwin, TN staying at the Nolichucky Gorge river and cabins (http://www.nolichucky.com/)?

Basically we stumbled upon this place by accident. We’ve wanted to visit the Asheville area for awhile and decided this was the perfect time to do so. The only problem is that finding a quality campground on short notice in a popular tourist destination is often times difficult.

This is how we ended up in Erwin, Tennessee. This small little town is a a stones throw away from North Carolina and about 50 miles north of Asheville.

In our limited travels we have noticed that R.V. only campgrounds are slightly different than campgrounds that have camping in tents with activities to do.

As you get off the freeway you must traverse along a very narrow road to get to the campground. I’m not going to lie. We followed the GPS (and there was a sign saying which way to go) and then finally the GPS said we arrived and yet there was nothing indicating there was a campground, so onward we went (basically because we were on a one lane road next to the river and had no other option at this point).

One lane road to campground

After about another 1/2-3/4 mile we finally made it! Whew! The campground sits next to a white water rafting company (http://www.usaraft.com/) so the area is a little crowded when you pull in.

We arrived on a Tuesday and it was very pleasant. There are about 8-10 spots for your campers or RVs and then a lot of spots for tent camping. Our 5th wheel fit nicely and the spots were all graveled and nice and level. You have your own picnic table on a little raised platform and they provide a fire pit for you! (And evidently I forgot to photograph this 🤷🏼‍♀️). However the view and river are beautiful.

Daytime view
Nighttime view of river

While we had a lovely few days at the campground (we used the app Alltrails to find some local trails and hiked to several beautiful waterfalls in the area.). Sill Branch Falls and Martin’s Creek Falls. They are easy enough hikes and while we were there they were deserted so it was perfect!

Sill Branch Falls
Martin’s Creek Falls.

We also took a day trip to the Smoky Mountain National Park, which was about a two hour drive to the entrance, so it is a whole day!

View from scenic overlook

While we had a nice time I will say that the demographic did change towards the weekend. There ended up being a ton of tent campers and day river rafters and loose dogs and people just milling about everywhere. While this didn’t affect us so much—because we had a specified campsite—I could see if you were just there with a tent there would be very little privacy and people all over each other.

We checked out on Sunday morning to head to Fries, VA so stay tuned to see what happens when we arrive!

Where should we go in 2020?

When talking with different people who “glamp”—many of them plan their vacations months or even a year or more in advance. Is that what we do?

What fun would that be? Owning a small contracting/remodeling company often times our schedule is dictated by what jobs we have going on and when we may have a little break in the schedule. We have found that typically the beginning or middle of June is a perfect time to get away for a few weeks.

About the middle of April we start examine the work schedule and upcoming jobs to see what is going to work for us.

Last year we left after my daughters dance recital and planned our first stop in Atlanta so she could go see JoJo Siwa (https://itsjojosiwa.com/) in concert! We then continued our trip to Glacier National Park in Montana up to Banff national park in Alberta! By the time all was said and done we had traveled more than 6,000 miles and totaled our brand new trailer.

My husband said we needed a re-do this year so we had planned originally to drive to Acadia National Park in Maine and then cross the border into Canada and go to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (yes a dream of mine since I first read Anne of Green Gables).

Enter Covid.

So here I am blogging from the Nolichucky Gorge Campground and Cabins in Erwin, TN. (Nolichucky.com) How did we end up here? Erring on the side of caution we decided to stick a little closer to home and continue social distancing as much as possible. Easy to do when you’re camping in a small campground. (I’ll post more about this place later!)

We did however make our first stop in Stone Mountain Park just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. (https://www.stonemountainpark.comCampground).

The views from Stone Mountain were lovely as we stayed in an orange site, which we prefer, because it’s much less crowded than some of the other colors. We had plenty of room to back in our 5th wheel and didn’t feel crowded at all.

We were able to do several small walks seeing very pretty, well preserved buildings and bridges from the early 20th century.

Grist mill
Old covered bridge

There are miles and miles of dog friendly trails to enjoy! (Did I forget to mention we also have a 6 month old bernedoodle that’s traveling with us??).

6 month old puppy with our 2 year old son!

We were even able to meet up with the original Camper Crazy Buzzers and have some nice Socially Distanced Visiting.

Original camper crazy buzz blogger!

Is it the same as camping pre-pandemic? Absolutely not. But we are trying to make the most of it and still enjoy our time together!

So what’s next on the agenda? Follow us to find out—(although I kind of already spoiled it a little. Next stop—Erwin, TN. Lol) I

CAMPER CRAZY bought an RV and then Covid-19 happened

After four years of looking and begging my husband, we went to the Tampa RV show in January with family and friends. There we found almost everything we were looking for in a travel trailer. If we had gone on our own we probably would have left without buying anything except some popcorn and beer. However, we succumbed to peer pressure. We even bought from a vendor we swore we would never buy from (General RV). We left excited and looking forward to picking up our new RV the end of February.

Great layout with lots of storage

My list of must-haves were not many:

  1. Length of trailer should be no longer than 30′
  2. Lots of windows and lighter colored furnishings
  3. Dual wheels
  4. A good amount of storage
  5. A large bathroom
  6. Must sleep at least 5/6 people
  7. An outside kitchen
  8. Two doors for entering and exiting camper
  9. Ultra Light weight
  10. A simple exterior without outlandish designs and a neutral color palette
  11. Room for my husband to work with his multitude of electronic devices
  12. Heated and enclosed underbelly
  13. NO aluminum siding
  14. At least one slide with a slide topper
APEX by COACHMEN

The APEX 265RBSS met all of my wants with the exception of two. The RV has 1 door. I kept weighing the pros and cons and decided I could live without the extra door. It has one nice slide, but no slide topper. That I didn’t think I could do without.

My husband had other items that were important to him as far as the construction and features were concerned. He was happy with the overall construction, however he was adamant that we have two air conditioners. So, we agreed to pay extra for the slide topper and an air conditioner and negotiations began.

We picked up the RV the last week of February and then camped at Lazy Days for two days with our granddaughter. With four years of watching countless videos on camping and RVs, writing posts and interviewing experienced campers you would think we would have this RV camping thing down. HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA

“Okay, what do I do with this?”

So we thought, no problem, we will take a few short distance trips over the next few months before we hit the road for a long trip. Then Covid-19 happened and we were told to stay in our homes. Yes, we are in that age group, you know, the 60 and over group. One more challenge to our RV dream.

But maybe this is not a bad thing after all. Why do I say that? Well, my next post will address that subject.

This is just the beginning..