Archive for the ‘RV lifestyle’ Category
With the start of the new year, my thoughts stray to thoughts of another season of camping. To me, camping, surrounded by towering trees, endless horizons, and challenging trails, is a rejuvenating experience.
This year, 2013, may not be as rejuvenating as past years but it is still early and we’ll see. This year we have three options: stay close to home and enjoy the national forests in Arizona; take a long delayed trip to Puerto Rico to research and survey the El Yunque National Forest; or, maybe, take a couple to three months and revisit the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri and the Chequamegon National Forest in Wisconsin. So many possibilities, were to start planning.
Since I am most familiar with the national forests in Arizona, that will be the first itinerary I’ll developed. I think I’ll try to integrate visiting some of Arizona’s wineries in our plans. An important starting point to my planning is the when do we start. At the moment, I doubt will be on the road before June no matter the option we pick. Option 1 (Arizona) and option 3 (Missouri and Wisconsin) will probably require two or three months while Puerto Rico will be only a month long. However, the duration of our travels will be determined by number of campgrounds, their physical locations, what there is to do nearby, etc. Also things like dump stations, grocery stores, laundromat, and such must be factored into the equation. I think it is all called “Logistics” and it is something all moms know about.
No matter the option, there is a pile of research to be done and a ton of planning before we hit the road. Just between us, all the research and planning makes me more ready to get on the road. Camping is so much more fun then the preparation.
Yosemite National Park is impressive. It is also congested, busy, and too commercialized for my tastes. For a long time, the Inyo National Forest‘s Mammoth Lakes area was my preferred “go to” alternative to Yosemite. Then it seemed everyone had discovered it, too. However, much to my delight, there are still places you go and thing you can do and still feel the solitude and enjoy the wonder of a national forest. I guess it is all a matter of how an area is developed and managed.
One example of the Mammoth Lakes area’s development and management is the newly completed Mammoth Lakes Trail System. From granite crags to trout-stocked lakes, pine forests to alpine meadows, there’s 300-miles of trails providing access all seasons, interests, and abilities, for the motorized and non-motorized alike. The network of trails connections to three wilderness areas, Devils Postpile National Monument, the Pacific Crest Trail and more. With 300-miles of designated and maintained trails visitors to Mammoth Lakes have the opportunity to experience the area’s beauty and wonder plus the many miles means visitors are spread out over a larger area so there are less crowds and congestion.
It has been years since we last visited the Mammoth Lakes area. We have been tempted to return but just haven’t. Now that I know about the completion of the Mammoth Lakes Trail System, and considering how much I like hiking, I think the Inyo National Forest‘s Mammoth Lakes area is got to be moved closer to the top of our “To-do” list.
It just goes to show ya, you can have a nice weekend of camping even when the night-time temperatures drop into the teens. The sunshine all day gave us the false impression of warmth but the brightly sparkling stars in the cloudless night sky clearly declared very cold temperatures.
I’m not a fan of temperatures normally found in the freeze box of my refrigerator but that’s what we had. And here are some of the techniques we used to continue camping comfortably here are Catalina State Park.
Of great importance is not having our fresh water and sewer lines freeze. (Have had both happen to us and, trust me, it ain’t pretty.) The best way to keep external water supply line from freezing is to detach it. We filled the on-board tank and use it at night, reconnecting the water hook-up during the day. When the tank got low, we just refill the tank. After disconnecting the water hose we drained all the water we could from the hose, curled it up and stowed it under the mh. We have also stow that hose in the shower stall.
Although Catalina State Park didn’t have sewer hook-ups, normally a sewer hose is handle likewise. You would use the on-board holding tanks to collect grey and black water until they are full. Now, connect the sewer hose, empty the
tanks and put the sewer hose away, after making sure all the water is out of the hose.
During the day, to help conserve propane use, we run a little cube shaped electric heater. During the night, we’ll rely on our mh’s furnace. And leave cabinet doors open to insure some warm air circulates into the deep, dark recesses.
Two other points: Hiking is a great way to warm up and, I think since we are burning more calories staying warm, calorie counting diets should be put on hold <G>.
Cold weather camping requires an RV have a dependable and adequate source of heat, reliable batteries with enough amperage for your needs and a way to charge them, full propane tanks, plenty of warm clothes, extra food for “just in case” situations, and some way of receiving weather reports.
Cold weather camping is more labor intensive. It is also a wonderful experience, when one is properly prepared. Here are some hints we were given and found useful:
- Remember that batteries become more difficult to recharge as the temperature drops
- Keep antifreeze in holding tanks so drains won’t freeze.
- Crack a winder when heating the RV with any type of propane or solid fuel heater
- Keep lower cabinet doors ajar so water lines will not freeze.
- A hair blow dryer is useful for thawing frozen drains and iced over doors. A can of de-icer is an alternative.
- Each night discount sewer and water hoses. Bring the water hose into the RV to prevent freezing (we stow ours in the shower stall).
The bottomline is be safe and enjoy.
Thought I’d make some turkey (yes, there was some tucked way in the back of fridge) and biscuits sandwiches for lunch yesterday. Now, I am something of a Gal-from-the-South so biscuit making is as much a part of my cooking as hush puppies and cornbread. Well, you can imagine my surprise when my biscuits looked more like pale hockey pucks than their normal puffy pillar of goodness. Turns out the problem was my baking powder. A check of the “Use by” date showed the powder okay but what they don’t tell you is there is only a six-month shelf life for baking powder and baking soda after opening. I ran a “viable” test and discovered it was the baking powder that killed kill my biscuits.
Here’s the test I used:
Baking Powder – Mix 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 1/3 cup of hot (from tap *not* boiling from kettle) water.
Baking Soda – Mix 1/4 teaspoon with 2 teaspoons of vinegar.
If the mixture bubbles, it’s fresh. No bubbles, dissolve the baking soda in a bucket of water and use to clean the refrigerator. Sprinkle expired baking powder on carpet, let set for about 10 minutes, than vacuum up to freshen fabric. Both work well at boasting laundry powder just add a couple of tablespoons to water as your washer machine fills.
Had to spend some time in Tucson, AZ and decided not to stay in a motel but to use our motorhome (MH). There are some really nice campgrounds in and around that town (they call themselves “RV Resorts”) and this was an opportunity to see just what that means.
It was another opportunity for me to see if I could limit the use propane by not depending on the MH’s stove and over. Since we would have electricity power so why not develop a menu using my microwave? (Maybe there is a cookbook for RV campers in that idea.) Here is what I came up with:
First night dinner (prepared at home) – Spaghetti Casserole and Tossed salad (see below)
Next day -
Brunch – Pumpkin bread w/Eggs on top of potato and bacon hash
Dinner – Beef Stew w/potatoes and carrots and Green Salad
3-2-1 cake with blueberry sauce
Breakfast – Bagel w/cream cheese w/orange juice
Lunch – Ham ‘n cheese Sandwiches w/potato chips
Dinner – Cheesy Chicken Pasta Pot w/Tossed Salad (see below)
Breakfast – Cereal w/fruit and orange juice
Lunch – Chicken Salad with ham sandwich w/potato chips and fresh fruit
Dinner – Frozen Salisbury Steak (bought at a local grocery store) w/mashed potato ‘n peas (see below) and tossed salad
Breakfast – Bagel w/peanut butter and orange juice
Lunch – Ham salad sandwich w/potato chips
Spaghetti Casserole Serves 2
Cook 4 ounces of pasta per package direction. When cooked el dente, put in a large bowl, and set aside. Meanwhile, oil baking dish (I use a loaf pan) and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup mozzarella, 2 ounces cream cheese (softened), and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese. A sprinkle of dried Italian herbs is a nice addition. Pour at least one cup of spaghetti sauce of choice over the cooked pasta and toss to mix. Assemble: Place a layer of half the pasta and sauce mixture in the bottom of a glass baking dish sprayed with oil. Put heaping spoonfuls of all cheese over the pasta and sauce and top with remaining pasta and sauce mixture. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top. Cover with wax paper and place in the microwave. Cook on high for 5 to 10 minutes or until bubbles can be seen around the edge. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Per serving: Put 1/3 cup of Old-fashion oatmeal, a sprinkle of salt, some dried fruit, and 2/3 cup of water. Let set 20 to 30 minutes then microwave on high for 2 ½ minutes. Let stand 1 minute before eating
Cheesy Chicken Pasta Pot serves 6
12 ounces Angel Hair pasta, uncooked and broken into 2″ pieces
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups frozen green vegetables (we prefer peas)
½ cup chicken broth
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup light mayo
1 cup Mozzarella cheese. shredded
(I cut the recipe in half when it is just Fred and I.) Fill large glass bowl at least half with water and add a pinch of salt. Place in microwave and cook on high for 3-6 minutes or until water is boiling. Add broken pasta and chicken to bowl and cook for another 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked thorough and pasta is tender. Add vegetables midway to cook them. Drain bowl but save up to ½ cup of pasta water. (Option: Don’t drain and use a chicken bouillon cube here.) Add broth, cream cheese, mayo and return to microwave. Heat just to a simmer or until cream cheese starts to melt. Give it a stir and microwave another couple of minute. Stir until sauce is well blended. Add shredded cheese, stir 1 min or until melted, and serve.
Mashed Potatoes and Peas
Follow the package directions for instant mashed potato but before adding the milk and potato flakes, pour in as many peas as desired and give it a stir. Return the water to boil and complete as directed.
Here’s a tip from my days of long distance airplane travel that works wonderfully after a day of long distance car travel – Buy a single serving size of your favorite yogurt, plain or flavored/nonfat or regular, and smear about a teaspoon to tablespoon all over your face and neck. Sit down and either eat the remaining yogurt or read some of your travel literature and relax until the yogurt has dried completely. Now rinse with cool water. See how good your skin feels?!?!?
Exit 41 off Interstate 25 crosses the Rio Grande just before you get to Hatch, New Mexico. At the top of a sweeping turn off the bridge is a colorful structure and a sign announcing Gilly’s Chile – Stop Here. We always do and each time it is like meeting a long lost dear friend. I think it could be a week or 10 years and Gilly would be just as happy to see you. His stand has expanded every year but the quality of his chilies is the same – super excellent. I’m told next year Gilly will have a little cafe were he’ll be selling food made from his own recipes and his own chilies. Sounds good to me.
We first met Gilly because our navigation software indicated a short-cut home through Hatch. The problem was we hadn’t picked up any “Thank you” gifts to the people back home who had been watching our house, yard, mail, etc. during our absence. So, when we just happened upon Gilly and his chili stand, it was most fortunate. Got to love happenstance. And we have been stopping every year since.
“In season on-site RV storage” is one of the suggested proposals in the American Recreation Association (ARC) “Modernization of Recreation Sites” plan. The concept is that the U.S. Forest Service would give concessionaires operating Forest Service campgrounds the authority to permit, for a fee, the parking of unoccupied recreational vehicles on an active campsite for an extended period of time. According to industry sources, this would allow campers, especially from urban areas, to travel back and forth without having to haul their rigs each time they want to spent time in the forest. This, according to an ARC representative, would be easier on the environment and reduce fuel consumption. The assumption is both would be a good thing. And getting more people enjoying time in the out-of-doors would be good, too.
According to ARC, the number of people enjoying the out-of-doors, specifically in national forests and grasslands, is steadily declining. Although this representative admits obtaining accurate and comprehensive numbers for the number of people who are enjoying national forests and grasslands is nearly impossible, he suggests the decline is more a function of “working mothers” not having the time or energy to perform the logistics necessary for a family to spend time in the out-of-doors. My response is that’s nonsense!
I have been camping for a long time, before children, with children, working outside the home, and now, in “my golden years” when it is just Fred and my dogs heading for the woods. It is always a challenge planning, packing, and preparing for any trip, and trip camping is no different. However, there are techniques and methods that make it easier and possible to, at-the-drop-of-a-hat, head for the woods. Plus, many working mothers have a helper known as the “dad.” (And by the way, Mr. Recreational Industry Representative, EVERY mother is a “working mother.”) Don’t blame declining numbers on “working mothers.”
There are many factors likely influencing the possible decline of people using national forest campgrounds. Deteriorating infrastructure in campgrounds and the ever increasing influence of concessionaires could be reasons. An infrastructure where the vaults are not maintained or there is an absence of drinking water would discourage many potential campers. Fees for having pets in a campground, restrictions on collecting dead and down wood so campers must purchase firewood from the concessionaire, and closing of campgrounds as soon as schools are back in session, voiding the possibility of camping in the less crowded “shoulder” season, are likely to contribute to the reduction in people camping at concessionaire-operated campgrounds. Perhaps ARC and others in the outdoor recreation industry should look at other factors contributing to the alleged decline in national forest and grassland campground occupancy before pointing their finger at the “working mother” or suggesting “in season on-site RV storage” would miraculously improve campground occupancy.
At least, that’s my opinion. What’s yours? Please, tell us how you feel about this proposal.
You are currently browsing the archives for the RV lifestyle category.