Remember that when you leave this Earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given, a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage. -St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

4 years

Looking back on my RV journey...

I purchased my RV in April 2011 and began my full-time journey in November of 2011.

1st night @ Lazydays RV in Florida

Although I had looked at some RV's at dealers in IL and checked out a few on Craigslist, I pretty much just jumped into this RVing life. I found my RV on a website. The dealer sent me measurements and videos of the interior. For a small refundable deposit they held it for me until I was able to get to Florida after tax season.

When I arrived in FL, I had never driven an RV. Luckily, Lazydays RV in Seffner, FL offered a free driving class. A few hours after finishing the class, I was heading down the highway.    

                            Mustang Island, January 2012

        May 2014 - leaving San Antonio - heading to Cody, WY

      Along a dirt road in Montana

                                                                       Texas State Parks

I would like to have a "home base" someday. A small piece of land to park the RV, maybe a few outbuildings. Just a place to stop and rest between travels. I really am not interested in owning a house again. Of course, I could change my mind in the future.

    Red rocks of Utah - near Bryce Canyon

I have overnighted in only a handful of states so far... 

Florida - Mississippi - Missouri - Illinois
Kansas - Colorado - Arkansas - Texas
Wyoming  - Montana - New Mexico 
Utah - Arizona - Oklahoma - Iowa and Louisiana 

                North Rim of the Grand Canyon

I've worked at Mesa Verde National Park, Grand Canyon North Rim and in the town of Cody, WY near Yellowstone.  I also worked at the South Padre KOA and volunteered at Laguna Atascosa NWR in South Texas.

It is an amazing experience to live/work for several months at a national park, most visitors only stay a few hours.

I work seasonally and I have the freedom to travel, explore and visit with family whenever and wherever I want. I am not limited to a specific number of vacation days and I do not have to worry about getting back to a home that needs to be taken care of.

My hopes and dreams are to travel to all the corners of the U.S. and Canada - Alaska is high on the list.

Wishing you Health, Happiness and Prosperity                                                       

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Martin J. Dies, Jr. State Park

Catching up on missing posts from this summer.

Texarkana, August 1st
Jasper, Texas  August 2nd and 3rd

After leaving the state park on Saturday morning, I continued along I-30 until I reached Texarkana, TX.  I camped at a KOA near the highway, a place to do some laundry and sleep, nothing special except for the nice swing at my site.

Sunday morning was a nice drive south along Highway 59 through some small towns. I turned into Martin Dies State Park and remembered being there before.  It was very hot and humid and there were not very many campers.  I decided to use one of the coupons for 1/2 off a 2nd night and paid for 2 nights. My site had a view of the lake through the trees. 

It was too hot to do much, I did go for short walks and short bike rides in the early mornings or right before sunset. I did a little bit of sewing in the afternoon, setting up my sewing machine on the picnic table. Mostly this was a relaxing, lazy stop along the way.

Love the large sites that are standard at most state parks.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sea Rim State Park

This post is from August 2015

Several years ago I read an article about Sea Rim State Park on the SE coast of Texas.

      View from my campsite... low tide

I decided to head down and see this park, but would only be staying one night. I would have liked to stay longer, but I was on my way to meet with my family on South Padre Island. 

This park is in an out of the way secluded area. A place to relax on the beach, walk along the shore or to fish. There are also several kayaking trails. 

"Its where the marsh meets the gulf" 

You drive right through some refineries to get here - the benefit of that is low gas prices. 

The road heading west toward the Galveston ferry is permanently closed, so there is only one way in/out and you have to backtrack. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A new converter

I have access to internet at my RV again for a little while. I have been stubborn and refuse to pay a lot per month to use the internet. I can do most internet related tasks using the unlimited data plan on my Sprint iPhone, except use it as a hotspot. I do not want to drag my big laptop around to use it in places with free wi-fi, so have been doing without. 

I have heard that Sprint recently announced that we can tether our phones to another device for a limited amount of data per month. I need to call and see if my plan allows this now. 

So time will tell how I keep up with the blog. I can write short posts using the Blogger app on my iPhone, but its a pain for longer posts. 

I've been having problems with my 12V system for a few years now. The problems would come and go. Suddenly things would get dim and then I would have no lights and no power to the control panel. So no A/C even though I was plugged in at the RV park. 

In August when a mobile tech looked over things, he disconnected the converter,  so that everything ran off 110, for one day until he installed the new batteries. 

At an authorized Winnebago service center I was told to just keep playing with the battery disconnect switch near the door. 

I've also stopped to have things checked out at a few more repair places and they basically told me everything was ok. 

A few days ago my lights appeared dim. 
I shut off anything that worked off 12V. It seemed to get a little better. And, yes, I pressed the disconnect switch a few times. Luckily I have a small plug-in desk lamp, so I wasn't totally in the dark. 

On Wednesday evening, no lights, no control panel and the light on the LP detector was red - indicating low voltage. I had new house batteries installed in August - they couldn't be the problem. 

A mobile tech came out Thursday and switched out the original converter. The new one is different, but fits in the same space. He did have to modify the way he attached the cover because the screw holes for the cover were a part of the original converter.

The new converter is a WFCO Ultra III, model WF-9800. I hope this solves the problems. 

           New converter - ready to wire

                  Getting things ready

       Work space near the side door

                      Old converter

                Inside of old converter


My coach is a 2008, delivered to the original owner in the Fall of 2007 - so it is now 8 years old. The average lifespan of a convertor is 10 years. 

November 6, 2011 is the last day I was in my "sticks & bricks" house. Happy 4 year RV anniversary to me. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Random Photos

August 25, 2015

Sometimes life does not go as planned.

Weather, illness, mysteries, death, new life and other things can change the direction of your life. 

 I'm on an Amtrak train heading back to San Antonio and then will drive the RV to Aransas Pass to work short-term at the tax office preparing returns on extension. 

Here are some random pictures from my summer. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lake Catherine State Park

Poplar Bluff, MO - Thursday, July 30th

Lake Catherine State Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas
Friday, July 31st

After leaving Camp Lakewood on Thursday morning, I traveled down I-57 through IL and across the Mississippi River into Missouri.  I decided to take it easy with short traveling days and a lot of stops along the way.

Thursday night I stayed at Camelot RV Park in Poplar Bluff, MO - not far off the highway, but not too busy and I had a quiet, peaceful night. Everyone was very friendly.                .

My preference is state parks, but they are not always where I need them to be and sometimes they are booked well in advance.  I did not make any reservations for this trip back to Texas because I was not sure how I would be feeling or how far I would travel each day.

On Friday, I ended up at Lake Catherine State Park in Hot Springs, AR.  I did not go into the city of Hot Springs, as I had been there before.  If there were sites available, I would have stayed a second night. Weekends in state parks can be crazy, this park was full, but it was very quiet and I had a large beautiful site at the end of a row.

Friday night, I walked a short trail near the rental boats and the swimming beach. On Saturday morning, before leaving the park, I went on a short hike to the waterfall.  There was just a trickle of water running down the rocks. Oh well, it was a good morning walk anyway.

      A short swinging bridge on the trail

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Camp Lakewood - Effingham, IL

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Camp Lakewood, Effingham, IL

This post is about the date listed above. Seems like I lost some time. Since my last post.  I have been to Chicago and back to Texas. Today, August 7th,  I am in South Padre Island, TX.

This is my 3rd visit to Camp Lakewood.  It was the 1st campground I stayed at when I sold my house and became a full-timer in November 2011.  I allso stayed here in May 2015 on my way to Chicago. It is a convenient stop that is about 200 miles south of Chicago.

For a commercial campground/RV park is it very nice. Most of the sites have a view of the lake. I have stayed in 3 different sites and have been happy in all of the sites.  The park is a short distance from I-57 and about a mile from Walmart.

                     Behind site #1

                   Site #1 W/E only, back-in

              Site #3 full hookup, pull-thru site

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

After my last blog post, on May 18th, I traveled North to the Chicago area.  I driveway camped for 3 days at Jim and Genny's house in Geneva, IL and then on the morning of Memorial Day I drove to my sister's house in Palos Heights, IL. My daughter and her family arrived the next day, they could only stay for a few days before returning back to Texas.

Before arriving in Chicago, I had scheduled some routine medical exams and was planning on a visit to the opthamologist. I did not plan to spend so many days going back and forth for medical tests and procedures. I spent more time with doctors this summer than I have my entire life.

I was having mysterious medical issues while in Chicago. I ended up staying in the area for about 10 weeks. I underwent many, many tests and procedures and after not finding anything else, it was determined was that I am anemic. My iron levels were low, but my B-12 levels were high. Anemia, a loss of red blood cells, causes you to not have enough oxygen circulating around.  I was prescribed iron pills and need to have my levels checked in a few months.

I was trying to follow a heart-healthy vegan diet, but was obviously missing something. I am currently back to eating meat until I talk to a dietitian or nutritionist. None of the doctors that I saw mentioned anything about nutrition. I also discovered that many packaged items, like cereals, almond milk and juice smoothies have added 50% to 100% of the daily B12 - and I was taking a daily B-12 pill. Although B vitamins are water soluble and any excess is supposed to leave your body, I was getting way too much and it was showing up as an excess on the blood tests.  I think the doctors ordered the B-12 test to check for a deficiency and were surprised to find the levels so high. The last blood test, before I left Chicago, still showed high levels of B-12, but not as high as 2 months earlier. I have been avoiding any foods with added B-12. I probably should have just been taking a multi-vitamin that included iron, instead of a daily B-12 pill. 

I also found out that I need to wear driving glasses, so those were ordered, my new glasses are progressives. My eye doctor thought it may take up to 30 days to get used to the new glasses, but I did well with them after a few days. The 1st full day of driving was kinda weird, but I just had to make a minor adjustment.  But there is no way I could now drive without them.

My family and friends took very good care of me. Driving me to appointments, giving me a place to stay and feeding me very well.  Now I just have to keep up with eating iron-rich foods and making sure I eat enough. 

I had originally planned on spending the summer in Mackinaw City, Michigan.  My last test results were received on July 27th, so instead of heading North, I decided to just head south.

I am going to try and add posts of the missing dates and travels. 

***An interesting sidenote:  I currently have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas PPO health insurance, and because I have a multi-state plan, all of my medical bills in Illinois were covered.  Blue Cross had announced that they will not offer this plan in 2016, so I am not sure what my options will be for medical care while traveling in the future.  Do I need to change my state of residence, so that I can get the best medical insurance plan for traveling? 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rain, rain, go away.........

I've been trying to get to Chicago from San Antonio and have changed my route several times. Good thing I gave myself 2 weeks to get there.

Remind me to not travel in the Midwest in the spring. Oh ya, its is the 3rd time I've done this :). 

I attempted to leave San Antonio on Wed, May 13th, stopped for gas and groceries, then received an alert on my phone of a tornado watch before I reached the highway. 

Thursday morning I headed to the Escapees Rainbow Park in Livingston, just a few sprinkles and good travel, except for going through/around Houston. I stayed in the wooded area of the park for 2 nights. 

My original route was to stop at several state parks in TX, AR and IL. The parks in TX along the route had flooding or electrical problems due to storm damage. 

The state and national parks usually post "alerts" on their websites. This is a great help with planning. 

Next stop, Shreveport KOA (Tall Pines RV) - a port in the storm - pretty trees - but not my style of campground. I have a small RV and prefer an actual campground, I don't need easy pull through rows of sites.  

Weather reports indicated tornadoes, floods and storms on my north easterly route, so I needed to stay south and took I-20 East. 

                       Vicksburg, MS

Weather was pretty good, some sprinkles and wind and about 10 minutes of heavy rain east of Vicksburg. And a lightning strike very close to the RV while I was on I-20 between Vicksburg and Pelahatchie.  The right outside mirror and the windshield lit up with a purple glow and there was a chemical smell, that I later read was ozone. I thought I smelled propane and for a few seconds was concerned that the RV was actually hit by lightning. Later that day, I was not able to turn the valve for the propane tank, like it was soldered shut.  I am the one that opens and closes it, so it should have not been too tight.  

After that event, I landed at Jellystone on the Lake in Pelahatchie, MS. Its a beautiful campground and not crowded yet. I probably would not camp here in peak season when it is full, but it is quiet and peaceful this week. 

Two days later, on my way North, I stopped at Camping World near Memphis and the tech could not turn the propane valve, either.  He ended up using a wrench, then filled the tank and I had no other problems, so it is still a mystery of how close I was to the lightning.

Next up - North on I-55.  I would prefer to drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway but there are currently thunderstorm and flash flood warnings. I don't want to get stuck on a flooded country road. I'll have to come back to the parkway in the fall. 

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Overnight stays in these states:

Overnight stays in these states:
It is the sandstorm that shape the stone statues of the Desert. It is the struggles of Life that form a person's character ~ Native American Proverb