Monthly Archives: November 2019

I Am Grateful ….


In this season for giving thanks, I want to express gratitude for all of the many blessings God has showered on us. I am so grateful for:

  • Our robust good health,
  • The financial ability to enjoy this RV life of adventure,
  • Our guardian angels who have kept us safe along the way, despite our newbie mistakes and steep learning curve,
  • Our life in this beautiful country that provides so many amenities in the way of parks, highways and rest areas,
  • Our family and friends that support and cheer us along the way,
  • And for you, dear readers, that have joined us on our journey!

We wish all of you a most blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

Wintering in an “Active Adult Community”

rp-signWe’ve been traveling RV full-timers for just about two years now. Our first winter was spent crossing the Southern US from Charleston to California. During our second winter, we bounced around Florida from Orlando, to South Florida, back up to Orange City. We knew we wanted to come back to Florida for this winter, but where?

I REALLY liked the Orlando KOA, but it was uber expensive (plus, it’s closing this year anyway). Orange City was less pricey, but there wasn’t much to do around there. We had originally thought to go back to South Florida, but I didn’t want to spend the whole winter at the County campground. The bath houses weren’t great, and there wasn’t much for me to do unless I had my own transportation. Plus, the weather stays pretty hot that far south. What I really wanted were the amenities and planned activities that I had at the KOA, at a more affordable rate. We searched around and found …. Recreation Plantation.

This RV park is located in Lady Lake, Florida, adjacent to the mega-retirement community of The Villages. Recreation Plantation is an “active adult RV community” that takes its activities very seriously! There is a full time activity director that creates an overflowing calendar of options for approximately 1000 resident sites. Do you like sports? You can take part in softball, pickleball, tennis, volleyball, horse shoes, shuffleboard, table tennis, corn hole, or badminton. Like exercise classes?  There’s water aerobics (deep or shallow water), Zumba, Yoga, Dancercise, Walk Aerobics and Line Dancing. You can play games: poker, hand & foot, bridge, euchre, 500, mahjong, bunco, etc. Bingo is on Wednesday nights. Square dancing is Friday night. You can meet to craft with fellow woodworkers, quilters, knitters, and crocheters. There is literally a full slate of activities every single day including regularly scheduled dances,  dinners, and socials. Attendance at the Thursday morning meeting (free coffee and donuts provided) is the only way to keep up with it all!

If you get bored with the park activities, you only have to go a couple of miles down the road to The Villages for additional entertainment, dining and shopping. Each of the three Villages town squares offer free entertainment, every night. There are movie houses ($5 Tuesdays!) and live theater venues. We’ve already caught a several band theater shows: Simon and Garfunkle Story, the Authorized Blues Brothers and The Beatles Abbey Road.

It’s summer camp for grown ups!

Much of Recreation Plantation consists of fixed RV’s or park models, with a couple of sections open for transient RV’ers like us. Our site is grass/sand but it’s level and large. Electricity, cable TV and HIGH SPEED INTERNET is included in our site monthly rate. Yes, real honest-to-goodness high speed internet, sufficient for streaming! I hardly know how to handle that any more. All this for about half the cost of the Orlando KOA!

Most residents here are regular seasonal visitors, with a not insignificant year-round population. Folks here are friendly and welcoming — we feel right at home! People wave as you pass by and folks are always willing to teach you an activity if you’re new. The facilities are nice and, all things considered, it’s a very comfortable place to set a spell.

However, as much as we like it here, we’re not ready to settle down permanently (or even semi-permanently) at a place like this. Looking around, the average age of the population is, like, 75. We are definitely among the youngest here. But for now, we are learning Pickle ball and Line Dancing. I’ve picked up Swedish weaving and am learning how to play mahjong. Our days are full, and we are meeting interesting and active older folks. For this winter, it’s going to be fantastic.

But come spring, it will be time to continue our adventures!

Campground Review: Disney’s Fort Wilderness, Disney World, FL

035Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
  • Dates of stay: October 23-30, 2019
  • Location: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground Entrance, Fort Wilderness Trail, Orlando, FL 32836
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent
  • Cost: $125/night
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: 30 days (per reservation)
  • Accepts mail / packages: did not ask
  • Cell reception: ATT good
  • Website:
  • Pros: You’re at Disney!!
  • Cons: cost, availability is tight

Full Review

If you are a Disney-phile and you like camping, you HAVE to do Fort Wilderness, at least once. Camping in the happiest place on earth is just, well, magical!

As we routed back into Florida for the winter, we scheduled our Fort Wilderness stay before our previously-purchased annual passes expired. That way, our park tickets were taken care of, we just needed to pay the camping fees. And Fort Wilderness is not cheap – it averaged (for us) $125/night including taxes. It is officially the most we’ve ever paid for a campsite. But, hey, you’re in Disney!

037Our campsite was amply sized with an approximate 18 by 80 foot pad. During check in, we asked the clerk about size of pad and ease of back in (all sites are back in), and selected a site based on our needs. We had to wait a couple of hours in the overflow parking lot for that site to become available, but it was worth it to us to get the larger spot. When the site was ready, I received a text, and we proceeded directly there. The site itself was immaculate and equipped with full hookups (50 amp electric, water, sewer) and cable TV. Only at Disney will you find your utility pedestal disguised as a tree stump! We also had a picnic table and charcoal grill. Our site, like most at the Fort, was wooded and thus not satellite friendly.

042Staying at the Fort offers all of the perks and advantages of staying at any other Disney resort property. This includes free magic bands, 60 day advance Fast Pass selection, Extra Magic Hours, and all of the Disney resort transportation. The campground itself has two pools, restaurants, camp stores, playgrounds, and laundry facilities. The bathrooms are fully as nice as any hotel and kept immaculately clean. If being at Disney World isn’t enough, the campground offers a variety of activities including archery, crafts, horseback riding, etc (for a fee). Each night there is a free campfire sing along followed by a movie at the main pool. There is no lack of things to do!

The Fort is so large (at least a mile end to end), that it continuously runs 3 internal buses connecting you from your camping loop to the various transportation options and amenities. The boat dock to the Magic Kingdom is at the far north end of the resort, while the bus depot to all of the other Parks is at the south end. Many guests rent golf carts for their stay — we just rode our bicycles.

We took in the Hoop Dee Doo Review dinner show during our stay — we thought the food was just okay, but the show was hokey family entertainment at its finest and very enjoyable.

One tip is to stock up on groceries BEFORE you go! The on property camp stores have just a few basics and Disney restaurants are pricey. Being able to save a little by (mostly) cooking your own meals is one of the benefits of camping.

Bottom Line: It’s Disney – worth it!

Throwback Thursday Post: Random Stuff I’ve Learned While Roaming the Country In An RV

Random MusingsI first published this a year ago and it’s all still true!

Here are a few tips, observations and random musings gleaned from our life on the road:

When you hook up your sewer hose, make darned sure that all of the “hooks” are engaged and the hose is securely seated against the fixture. Otherwise you will end up with a disgusting smelly mess when you go to dump the tanks. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Did you know that California passed a law prohibiting shops from providing disposable plastic bags for free? You have to take your own shopping bags or purchase a re-usable plastic bag from the store for no less than 10 cents each. Same goes in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since I re-use plastic grocery bags to scoop the kitty litter box, I was forced to purchase rolls of disposable plastic bags from the pet store for that purpose. Does that make sense to you?

Investigating the local cuisine of every area is fantastic! We’ve enjoyed New Orleans Cajun and Creole cooking; Arizona authentic Mexican food; fantastic smoked salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and finger-licking Memphis barbeque. In New Mexico, green chili capital of the world, you can have your New Mexican dish served with green chilis, red chilis, or both (Christmas). Christmas is the best!

I’ve attended Sunday morning service at different denomination churches all over the country. I find that the similarities far outweigh the differences. Maybe we would get along better if we focused on the love of Jesus rather than sectarian differences.

When you buy an RV, make sure it is livable with all of the slides in. We have spent days at a time with our slides in – while in transit, while getting warranty repair work done, and while at campsites where we can’t effectively level. Aside from having a few cabinets/drawers that are inaccessible, we can live quite comfortably. That’s good design.

If you travel to higher elevations (like, Santa Fe at 7500 feet), things you bought at sea level will randomly spit at you when you open them. Mustard. Hand lotion. Shampoo. The occasional can of root beer. You have been warned.

Check your tires’ inflation pressure early and often. Inflation pressure varies significantly with altitude and temperature changes. Since both can vary greatly during national travel, it’s better to over-check than not. Investing in a tire pressure monitoring system is even better.

The desert has a lot of spiky, dangerous plants, but the worst is the teddy bear cholla cactus. A furry-looking plant with a deceptively gentle name, its easily-detached segments studded with a million tiny fish hook spines exist solely to cause you harm. They will hurt you. Avoid at all cost.

If you belong to a Credit Union, they likely belong to the Credit Union Co-op / Shared branches scheme. That grants you access to a nationwide network of “sister” credit union branches at which you can conduct business: deposit checks, make withdrawals, arrange for wire transfers, and complete essentially any transaction that you can perform at your home location. It effectively turns your local credit union into a national bank. That’s been extremely useful for us as we travel.

After travel, please be careful while opening overhead bins as items may have shifted during your flight. Also, the refrigerator.

Wine tasting at 3 wineries is about my limit for one afternoon. Any more than that and I’ll get loopy and buy too much wine. Then we are forced to drink it. Such a problem.

That’s all for now!



Doing Disney at Fort Wilderness

021Since we wintered in Orlando last year, we sprung for Disney annual passes. We spent quite a bit of time “doing Disney”, visiting all of the parks and most of the resorts, and experiencing three of four Epcot Festivals (Festival of the Holidays, Arts Festival, and Flower and Garden Festival). As we completed this year’s travel circuit and headed back toward the big Mouse, it seemed fitting to round out our Annual Passholder year at the Disney campground: Fort Wilderness. We’ve stayed on Disney property a number of times, from budget to deluxe hotels. But, taking our actual home to Disney took the fun to a whole ‘nother level!

033Staying in Disney offers many wonderful perks, including the use of all of the transportation options. Depending on our route and destination, we could take a boat, bus, tram or monorail. We essentially parked our car for the entire stay. The campground itself is HUGE, more than a mile end-to-end, so our bicycles came in very handy for getting around. (Many campers rent a golf cart for their stay).

As I’ve described earlier, Disney is ALWAYS busy. However, staying IN the park offers one extremely fabulous perk — Extra Magic Hours. That means that Disney resort guests can gain entrance to one or more parks BEFORE the general public! With less crowds you can ride the popular rides without the crazy wait times. During our Halloween week stay, the new Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars land) section had just opened up. Due to the expected demand, Disney offered Extra Extra Magic hours every single day! We were able to enter Hollywood Studios at 6 am, a full 3 hours before everyone else!

In addition to this great perk, Disney resort guests can book FastPasses 60 days in advance, rather than 30 days for other ticket holders. You can bet that I was on my computer at 7 am on the 60th advance day to book all of the most popular rides. Between the early entry and Fast Passes we were able to do all of the cool rides — sometimes several times! Since we’re early birds anyway, we would typically arrive at early-hours rope drop and knock out all of the really good stuff by early afternoon. So efficient, and not nearly as exhausting as waiting in line for 2 hours for a ride. We hit the Hoop Dee Doo review dinner show at the Fort, snagged coveted lunch reservations at the ever-popular Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, and practically walked right into Star War’s Olgas Cantina.

One of the trip highlights was the “Keys to the Kingdom tour”, a 5 hour tour of the Magic Kingdom including a visit to the famed underground “utilidors”. Even though I had been going to Disney World for years, I learned a ton of new things about the design and function of the parks. We learned that the four Disney “Keys” is the shared code of conduct: Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency.  I won’t spill any secrets, but if you are interested in a “behind the scenes” look, this is an awesome tour! As an annual passholder, we got a 15% discount for the tour, and it included lunch.

Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival was going on during this time, and we tried quite a variety of food offerings. Each of the festivals have their unique features, but the emphasis for this one is quite clearly the food. There are easily twice the food offerings compared to any of the other festivals and the dishes are varied and creative. Marissa’s family joined us for one of our Epcot days, which was great fun! As a side note, virtually all of the parks are undergoing some level of renovation, with Epcot more than most. It seems like half the park is under construction! I’m sure it will be fantastic when finished.

Fort Wilderness itself was also fantastic as a campground. Our site was amply sized and the facility was beautifully kept. One unexpected benefit of staying in the Fort during Halloween was the incredible camper Halloween displays! Some of them were downright professional. I had no idea this went on. We spent several evenings just bicycling around the various camping loops, marveling.

We spent 6 days straight playing in the Parks. You might think we’d get Disney overload, but …. nope. I was sad to leave the happiest place on earth. Until next time!


Campground Review: Jones Station, Mebane, NC

012Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Jones Station RV Park
  • Dates of stay: September 23 – October 20, 2019
  • Location: 2710 Jones Drive, Mebane, NC 27302
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent
  • Cost: $18/night (monthly rate)
  • Additional fees: metered electric
  • Stay limit: none
  • Accepts mail / packages: yes
  • Cell reception: ATT fair to good
  • Website:
  • Pros: Affordable, new, big-rig friendly, quiet
  • Cons: no-frills, not the best location for us

Full Review

Our son lives in Greensboro, so we wanted to find a suitably nice campground as close to him as possible. The pickins’ are slim around Greensboro – either small/older campgrounds that can’t accommodate our size, or campgrounds with dubious ratings. Jones Station RV Resort is 45 minutes out from Greensboro – not an ideal location for us, but perfectly suitable in every other respect.

Jones Station is almost brand new, only a couple of years old. It was laid out with big rigs in mind — equipped with wide internal gravel roads, ample turning radius, and long pull through gravel sites. (Some sites are shorter and back-in). The campgrounds terrain is a bit rolling, our site in the back was reasonably level, but some of those in the front appeared to be less so. Your mileage may vary.

Our gravel pull-through site was quite long, easily fitting our bus, toad and motorcycle. The newly installed 50 amp electric, water and sewer hookups worked flawlessly. Our site was open and satellite-friendly, although many other sites are wooded. The park did not offer cable, but quite a few over the air channels are available. The park ostensibly offered wifi, but we never got it work at our site way in the back.

Being a new park, the bath house was also new, nice and clean. Other amenities included a picnic shelter and small playground. Overall, the facilities were immaculately kept. Even though clearly some of the residents are long term, their sites were tidy and maintained. Shopping, including a Wal-Mart, a Tanger outlet mall, and a fantastic meat market, are just minutes away.

Here are the pluses:  The park is just so darned affordable. The $500 per month rate (plus electric) averages to less than $20/day. Our site was large and perfectly functional. The bath house is nice, the park is pretty and quiet, and the people friendly.

The minuses: There’s no fancy amenities here if that’s what you want – no pool, hot tub, or game room. The freshly laid gravel is loose in spots, making for tricky motorcycling.

BUT, for us it’s the best option available. We’ve already booked a return stay in April.

Bottom Line: New, affordable, no-frills RV park. We’ll be back.


008I am sooooo behind in blogging!! Time has simply gotten away from me, but I’ll do my best to catch you up!

After departing the Hendersonville area, we traversed to a spot between Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Our campground was located about 45 minutes from Sean’s place in Greensboro, a bit farther than we would have liked, but it was the only suitable place for us. I’ll do a full campground review later.

Our main purpose for being there was really just to be able to spend time with Sean and Marissa. The weekends were the only time they were free, but we made the most of the time we had! We rode bicycles along the local greenway, caught a movie, enjoyed meals together, and even fit in a Broadway show (Aladdin) at the Durham Center for the Performing Arts. (The show was highly entertaining!) One Saturday we travelled to nearby Pilot Mountain State Park to hike and watch Sean show off his (impressive) rock climbing skills.

It was fantastic to see how they are settling into their new home. Sean’s rock climbing gym is 10 minutes away, and some of the best climbing in the East US is within an hour or so. A beautiful bicycle greenway literally travels through their apartment complex, providing immediate access to a variety of mountain biking trails. His new job is going well. Marissa’s medical residency program is extremely demanding, but she takes advantage of the recreational opportunities as her schedule permits. All you want as a parent is to see your children happy and successful. It’s all good!

During the weekdays, we explored the area. We discovered a little gem of a park: George and Julia Brumley Family Nature Preserve. The park includes a network of flowy mountain biking, hiking, and multi-use trails that worked perfectly for our regular work-outs. As the weather cooled during our month-long stay, we got just a taste of chilly fall weather and changing leaves.

During our stay, we also had plenty of time to catch up on chores such as washing the bus, sanitizing our fresh water tanks, changing water filters, and such. It is a pleasant area, but it’s not a particularly exciting place to visit. If it weren’t for Sean and Marissa living there, it would not have been on our radar!

The only fly in the ointment, literally, were those darned stinkbugs! As we prepared to pack up and leave Greensboro, we pulled in one of our slides to find dozens of those pesky critters imbedded in one of the slide seals! We likely picked up the infestation at our Hendersonville location and carried them unknowingly to Greensboro. We squished all we could find, cleaned out the seal, and went on our way, knowing that there were likely plenty that we had missed. After reaching Florida, we went on an intensive bug hunt, through basement and cabinets, high and low, seeking and destroying. Nearly a month later, we still see an occasional stinkbug emerge from some unknown crevice. It’s rare though, so — I think — we’ve got a handle on the little stinkers.