OK, so I’m not really camping. But we are on vacation and visiting my sister in Utah.
We started with another amazing experience at the Best Friends Sanctuary on Monday and Tuesday. We volunteered both days with the cats and met some fun ones. I want to post all their pictures here, but that would be a long post. It’s definitely quieter there in February than in June, but there’s still plenty to do. Monday we spent mostly socializing cats, but Tuesday we did some cleaning. We also got to walk two cats – yes, we took cats for a walk. Bob (the cat) seemed to really enjoy it while Murray was more content to walk about then plop down in my lap in the sunshine. The staff there is amazing as always. Heather and Alisa were especially friendly and helpful.
Scott (another cat) was still there. He was there when we volunteered last two years ago. He’s a really special guy and I would take him home in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the spraying thing.
Yesterday we went out and about the Ogden area and visited a store called Smith and Edwards. The billboard signs for it say “Holy Cow what a fun store!” I agree. It’s like a hardware store + clothing + Big Lots + army surplus + candy store. ( + many other things I’m sure I missed) I only bought a new wallet (for $6!) and some Jelly Bellies. However, given more time I could do some damage there. Fun place to browse around because you never know what you might find. Here are some examples:
It’s a butt bucket!
The part about this that I don’t quite understand is the “designed to tolerate heavy top loads.”
Today I think we’re going to head up into the mountain areas, maybe take some pictures, maybe just take in the sights. Going to stop at a vape shop and possibly a few other stores just to poke around. And tonight we make homemade gnocchi!
Jon and I went to the RV show last week. I’d love to post that we found something amazing – that we found our next RV. But actually I’m happier to post that we are still in love with our current trailer!
It was the usual setup at the Cleveland IX Center, although we both thought the show was bigger this year. All the local dealers were there, as well as camping stores and campgrounds from the region.
As far as campers go I have to say that nothing really stood out for us. Well, except for the fifth wheel that had a basement. Sorry I forgot to take pictures, but it was a 2014 Open Range Roamer 346FLR. Many fivers don’t have much storage space down below, but this one had a basement that fit a 14 foot kayak! It was pretty sweet! The living space was in the front which is the floor plan that we like. You walked into the kitchen, and then the bedroom was up a stair and into the back. We’re pretty fond of the Open Range line.
Something else we noticed was the expanded use of LED lighting. Many of the RVs now have LEDs throughout, and a good number of them seem to have the LEDs lighting up the awnings. A nice touch that I saw on some was the stair lighting with just a simple, single LED light. Jon says he thought some of the LEDs were a little “blingy,” and in some places I agree. But overall it’s nice to see them being used since they are so much more efficient and therefore purposeful in the application.
We also noticed that there were several copycats of our trailer. I forget the name of the one we went into, but it made me like ours even more. The wood was very dark, and despite the almost exact same layout as ours I decided I liked ours better. The 2014 version of our trailer wasn’t too different. Except it did have a shower surround which I might have to add. Nothing like shower water all over the bathroom!
Overall the effect of the RV show was to a) remind me how much we like our little camper, and b) how much I am already ready to go camping! Just a few short months…
The time from October until now has been a blur. There has been no camping, little time off, and has been pretty tiring and stressful. That’s retail though for you during the 4th quarter… So I thought I’d post a little update so my two readers don’t think I’ve fallen from the face of the earth.
I woke up in Columbus this morning – on purpose. We’re actually on our way to Cincinnati for the weekend to stay at Cowan Lake State Park. I wish we had the trailer with us, but since it’s winter we’re staying at a cabin. At least we’re still going to be in a campground, right? We had quite the drive down last night. I encountered flash freezing rain for the first time while on the road. It was a little scary as the windshield suddenly frosted over, but all was well.
This is our first road trip with the new (to me) Accord. So far it’s been a great travel vehicle – nice ride, comfortable, fun to drive. And the heated seats are a huge bonus when it’s 20 degrees outside. It’s the V6 variety which is amazing to me because I’ve only owned cylinder cars. I’m trying not to let 271hp get me into trouble.
In a few hours we’ll be on our way to Cincy. We’ll probably check out the local scene, find somewhere interesting to eat, and then have some good, quality chill-out time. It’s the first time since October and I’m quite happy to have some down time.
I know it’s too early for camping withdrawal, but I’m already a little bummed out. This is my first weekend off since April that we haven’t been camping. Here’s what I miss:
- The anticipation of leaving work knowing we’re getting away for the weekend
- The feeling of leaving the world behind when we hitch up and pull out of the driveway
- Driving a huge vehicle down the highway
- The moment when you get to the campground, set up, and plop into your camping chair
- Beverages by the campfire
- Talking by the campfire
- Getting to explore a new town
- Finding great places to eat
- Miscellaneous festivals
- Having time with my partner
- Getting up slowly in the morning with no schedule or timelines
Ok, the countdown begins now. Just over 5 months until camping season begins again!
While I lament the end of the camping season for us in NE Ohio, I’m finding ways to look forward to next year already. One of the things I was thinking about was getting a discount camping membership to save on some camping fees next year. But as I look into discount camping clubs further I’m finding they may not be as useful as I would have thought.
I do actually have two camping discounts already. One of them I got by accident. Our Good Sam membership started out as a discount at Camping World. I got it a few years ago when we started shopping there because it would pay for itself after a few trips. Then Good Sam kinda merged in there, and now I have 10% off some campgrounds as well. I’ve used this one a few times this season.
I also have a KOA Value Kard Rewards membership because there is one nearby that we stay at a few times each year. We’ve also found that we rarely have a bad experience at a KOA so when we travel to parts unknown we often look for them. I’ve found that this one readily pays for itself because we probably save $10-$15 each time we stay there, and we earn $10 off rewards from time to time. They even had a free night one weekend which pretty much paid for the membership itself.
I was looking into Passport America because they seem to have a large network of campgrounds that accept it and it looks like a great deal. 50% camping for about $40/year. Staying just 4 nights would seem to make this one pay for itself. Even some of the Ohio State Parks participate which is great because we love to stay at the State Parks. I also looked at a few other discount clubs that have similar offers.
The problem is the limitations that are imposed by the accepting campgrounds. For many that I looked at on the websites they have maximum stays (which I can understand) and they limit the days of the week that the discount can be used. Most of the time the limitation is that you can’t use it Fri-Sat. For weekend warriors such as ourselves, not being able to use the discount when we do most of our camping makes it useless.
I think the point here is twofold. One is to always read the fine print. ”Certain limitations and exclusions may apply such as every day that you want to camp…” I think the other is to know your camping habits and needs and use that to determine if a camping discount or club would be useful. I think if I were full-timing a discount that is valid from Sunday to Thursday would be beneficial. But for the part-timers/weekend warriors it may not be such a great deal.
When we go camping for 2 days, we always wish we had a third day because that would make the trip so much better. When we go camping for 3 days, we wish for four. And when we camp for 4 days.. well, I think you get the idea. We left on Wednesday evening and made it to just north of Columbus near Alum Creek. We stayed at Cross Creek which is a very nice park, and apparently was totally booked for the weekend. That was ok though because we were only staying the night. Despite our later than usual arrival they were very friendly and accommodating.
The next morning is where the fun began. As we drove away we noticed that the brake controller in the truck didn’t seem to be registering that it was actually controlling the trailer brakes. That’s important when you have 3400lbs behind you to stop. We ended up at RCD Trailer Sales near Deleware, OH. Long story short, they were really great! They got us up and running very quickly despite their facility having been burnt down recently.
After a lunch and shopping trip at Cabela’s (which is quite RV friendly) we headed towards Cincinnati for our weekend destination. We arrived at Spring Valley Frontier Campground and were shown to the last available spot for the weekend. Another full campground! I hadn’t expected this so late in the camping season. The owner got us set up and went about his way getting the campground ready.
On Saturday we went to the Ohio Renaissance Festival. We went last year and had a blast so we went again. It was VERY busy, but we got to see Albannach and the Tartan Terrors perform which was very cool. I’m not usually a fan of bagpipes, but I really liked their sound. Unfortunately they’re not on Spotify, but I found some on iTunes.
It was a really great weekend to round out the camping season. I’m assuming that my next weekend off may not be ideal for camping, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed. After that it’s off to Mentor RV for some winter warranty repairs on the Visa.
A few photos from The 2013 Ohio Renaissance Festival. The best part of it was the performances by Albannach and the Tartan Terrors.
Flickr – RenFest Photos
The campsite for the next few days…
Some of us are blessed to have a tow vehicle that is made for towing a behemoth behind us. They have built in brake controllers, automatic towing mode, and large mirrors that stick out so you can see what’s behind you. Our Canyon was not made like this. So we have done our best to adapt the little Canyon to it’s task – get us and our home on wheels where we need to go.
One of the best things we did this year was to upgrade our towing mirrors. It might sound like a little upgrade, but I think it has made the biggest difference. Before we had some little strap-on mirrors. They did better than the factory mirrors because they stuck out further. But the view was small and sometimes even distorted (or worse, useless). Often they would sag as we drove along. Clearly a view of the pavement was not helpful.
Then we found the Grand Aero Towing mirrors on Amazon.com. They had good reviews, and we thought they had to be better than what we have. The difference is amazing! These don’t strap on – they actually have grips that attach them firmly to your existing mirrors. Then they do something amazing – they stay in place. I’ve driven hundreds of miles, and I haven’t been stuck with the view of the concrete I just drove over. Ever.
Then there’s the view. Some say the best view is the one ahead. Generally I agree, but when towing the view from behind is just as important. I can actually see the entire back of the trailer AND the adjacent lane. I can even see where my trailer tires are so I don’t drive over curbs – at least not without seeing it myself. One might even say the view is grand.
One of the better points of having these new mirrors is the peace of mind it brings while towing. No longer do I have to wonder who might be in my blind spot, flip the turn signal, and pray. I just look. It makes towing a much less stressful experience, and probably a heck of a lot safer too!
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not those of a professional. I bought these myself and am not compensated for my opinion. If you need to use these for uses beyond trailering consult your dealer or local optometrist.
Only one week has gone by since our last camping adventure, and I’m already ready for the next one! Just a few more days and we actually have a long weekend – that is unless someone’s civic duty (jury duty) interferes. Last weekend we were at the Streetsboro KOA which we frequent several times each year. It’s become kinda like a home park for us as it’s not too far from home and family, but close enough that we can get there for a quick weekend away. It’s a nice park with good size campsites and a staff that has been helpful and friendly every time we’ve been there.
Last weekend we stayed for the KOA Value Card Members free night. You pay for Friday and stay Saturday for free. The campground had a pretty good crowd, and we met a friendly dog and her person as we walked around to investigate a strange sound. There was a loud rushing sort of noise coming from the back of the campground, and when we went to see what it was we saw the hot air balloon pictured here. It was cool – they were letting kids ride in it. They’d take them up about 20 feet or so and then land. Not a wold ride, but something fun and different to do.
Next weekend we’ll be at Geneva State Park which is right up by Lake Erie and also happens to be the weekend of the Grape Jamboree. It should be a fun time. There will be a festival downtown, and of course all the local wineries celebrate as well.