RVParking.com
17Nov/110

Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort Provides A Tranquil Resort Setting The Whole Family Will Enjoy

Today's blog post is another post from Stephanie Mulac from Mulac Family Marketers. If you enjoyed reading this post, you'll also love her post about Las Vegas Celebration Spots. Up next on the blog will be more photos of the day.

When considering a visit to Las Vegas and conjuring up images of luxurious pools, hot tubs, palm trees and plenty of activities for the kids, the notion of accomplishing this in your RV at a campground is seemingly impossible unless you check into a hotel that provides the resort amenities you are envisioning.

The pool and waterfall area at Oasis Las Vegas Resort

The pool and waterfall area at Oasis Las Vegas Resort

Most Las Vegas campgrounds were built to cater to travelers who arrive to gamble, as evidenced by the many “cement parking lots” that offer hookups and a straight path to the casino floor. And while there’s nothing particularly wrong with that style of camping convenience, if you are seeking a family friendly resort-like atmosphere that boasts green grass, lush foliage, and family activities, a lot of campgrounds in Las Vegas simply won’t fit the bill.

There is one campground though where families will hit the jackpot (no pun intended) and that is Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort. It is one of our all time favorite campgrounds anywhere and will likely spoil you in more ways than one with its amenities, conveniences and close proximity to the Strip.

What is most amazing about Oasis is that you are one block off of Las Vegas Blvd., and a mere 7 blocks away from the heart of the strip – but while you are inside the property, the tranquility and amenities would have you believe that you are a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the strip. So you truly have the best of both worlds.

oasis_rv1The cleanliness of the park is beyond reproach, but at the same time, it is not so pristine that you feel restricted from sprawling out and using your spot to its fullest or made to feel uncomfortable in the likely event that the kids poke their heads out a window or are so bold as to want to play outside the RV. To the contrary, this is a very family friendly park and care is taken to make everyone feel welcome.

The staff is experienced, knowledgeable and very friendly – much like you would expect to find when checking into a luxurious resort and they maintain a robust calendar of events focused around holidays, special occasions and weekly activities that include family movie night, bible study, horseshoe tournaments, karaoke & poker nights (adults only for these since cocktails are served).

During the last Easter holiday, there was an Easter egg hunt, Easter brunch, and church services to cover every base. And one year, we spent New Year’s Eve at their family gala where the kids were welcomed to dance the night away in a formal ballroom setting that rarely the younger set is able to attend. (And the added bonus was no one at the ball had to worry about driving “home” afterward!)

In addition to scheduled activities, there is a beautifully maintained 18-hold putting course on natural greens that winds players through the entire property to enjoy not only a golf outing with the whole family, but also to absorb the lush landscaping and flora throughout the park.

One of the other showpieces of the property is the pool and waterfall area. An adult only pool removes any hesitation for kids to be kids as this separation allows everyone to enjoy what they are seeking. But it’s the family pool anyway that boasts the sandy beach area, with a walk-in edge and a cascading waterfall that the whole family will comfortably enjoy in lounge chairs spread throughout the area. This is truly a tropical oasis and brings the beach to the desert in style.

Another feature at Oasis is the on property restaurant, called the “Divine Café” and offering a scrumptious menu for breakfast, lunch & dinner, a full bar and daily specials. Moderately priced, this on-site restaurant offers alternatives to heading to the strip for meals and snacks.

Everything is conveniently located right on the property, including a well-stocked store for essentials, souvenirs, snacks, drinks, and yes – even a few slot machines tucked in the corner if the adult family members need a quick fix without traveling to a local casino.

Rounding out this wonderful campground is the excellent security staff which provides a level of comfort not found in a few other campgrounds around town. The older kids can easily move about the property, ride bikes and explore without fear of safety – a major bonus these days in any big city.

And finally, the shower facilities will spoil you forever! Conveniently located in multiple spots around the park are huge walk in restroom/shower buildings that are setup as self contained, individual units – usually 6 per building, so rarely a need to wait for availability. Each of the units feature toilet, sink, shower stall, plenty of hooks and benches – perfect for families with small children that want the privacy of showering without being in an open stall setting.

We absolutely fall in love with this campground every time we return and with a small staff turnover, our daughters look forward to seeing their favorite employees who always welcome us back like family. Las Vegas Oasis Resort is truly a diamond in the desert and won’t disappoint.

Stephanie Mulac along with husband Greg and daughters Marina & Morgan are known as the Mulac Family Marketers. They hit the road full-time in April of 2008 along 2 cats and a contagious zest for life. With an established online Internet-based business model that allows them to work from anywhere & set their own schedule, they currently divide their days between roadschooling their daughters, coaching, speaking at events & workshops and enjoying abundant quality time as a family to explore and absorb all that the Universe brings their way. Stephanie thrives on the gratification she gets from teaching others to "monetize their passions" - learn more about their journey at http://www.mulacfamilymarketers.com.

13May/110

The 8 Basic Items a Woman Needs to Tow on Her Own

2010 had me on the road for 42 days. Traveling to gain a renewed control over my life and the tragedy that had encompassed the preceding 2 years, One morning I packed up one of the ranch dogs, told my husband of 16 years to let me be by myself for at least a
week before he’d start calling (that lasted 2 days due to obvious concern) and picked one of my 16 trailers, a 2001 Airstream Bambi 19’. Off I went, first for 3 weeks in August to the Sierras, Reno, Quincy, and back around to Red Bluff then home. Then again to Taos to deliver a trailer and visit friends from Scottsdale to Tucson to Flagstaff to Santa Fe. (This time I got my husband a ticket to Albuquerque to drive home with me).

The solo time was much needed. It started in Auburn at my partners ranch. His concern for my mental health was supported by his history as a counselor (mind you a counselor for prison guards is a tough job). I spent 3 days with him and his wife, then another week
with them at the end as we were obligated to fulfill our commitment of attending a vintage event in the area. Ok, so it’s a long haul….it was a long haul…and it was necessary to be prepared, especially in the state of mind I was departing in. I’ve been traveling for the past 14 years for our business, now back to being fondly known as a ‘collection’. I didn’t need anymore things ‘coming up’, so I went off prepared. Being prepared for mishaps on the road is important for everyone, but if you’re a woman… we will at least take a rag and wipe down the grease before we get back into the tow vehicle.

Remember the 8 Basic Items a Woman Needs to Tow on Her Own:
1. Tool Box:

  • Hammer
  • Rivets/Rivet Gun (I had a part of a panel come off on a trailer I’d just bought)
  • Pliers
  • Electrical Tape - for frayed wires
  • Tester - if your power goes out/re-wiring to the tow vehicle is necessary
  • Wrench
  • Multi Screwdriver - contains both Phillips and Flat heads
  • Duct Tape - amazing what it can do in a pinch
  • Wire - to tie up loose pieces under the frame

2. Gloves. Feminine colors won’t have anyone ‘taking them’.

3. Extension Cord - 75’ is as short as I carry. My husband has never run off w/my bright pink one.

4. Floor Jack - Aluminum ones are lighter and much easier to handle, check weight restrictions.

5. Tire/Wheel/Battery Generator, to add air when needed

Tire Iron (older trailers have different lugs sometimes, so be sure on the lug size.)
Also be sure the spare is inflated and ready to use, double check size.

6. Blocks/Chocks:

  • 4-Heavy wood blocks for under the jack stand (at least 6”x6”) *extra if they split!*
  • 4 Chocks (plastic or wood or metal, for a un even ground where you must park)

7. Extra Tow Lights (in the event of a complete power outage at night)
8. Lavender hand wipes, moisturizer, a glass of wine and a book.

Being prepared is easy. We have a complete package w/most of the required tools if you visit us at VintageAluminum @ yahoo.com and request the information. You can also visit our website at VintageAluminum.com. Be safe and have a great time as one of many women trailerites on the open road.

6May/110

Las Vegas Celebration Spots and Free Attractions Fit For The Whole Family To Enjoy

Today's post is from Stephanie Mulac of Mulac Family Marketers. In a few weeks, we will feature an article about Stephanie's favorite Las Vegas RV Park as a follow-up to this article. For those of you looking for places to stay in Vegas, however, there are reviews of Las Vegas RV Parks from other RVParking.com members at the end of this post. Coming up are posts from Wendy of Vintage Aluminum about trailering for women and Cherie Ve Ard of Technomadia about useful iPhone apps for RVers.

A lot of people are under the assumption that Las Vegas is no place for kids, so when we told our family and friends recently that we were going to Vegas to celebrate our daughter’s 10th birthday, that got more than a few chuckles and curious looks.

But to the contrary, our many trips to Las Vegas have allowed us to amass quite a few favorite spots that are not only kid friendly, but in fact were conceived just for kids (or the big kid in all of us!).

SKYZONE: Because this particular trip was to celebrate a birthday, we booked a party for 10 at Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park. Noted as the creators of the world’s first all trampoline, walled playing field, this was the perfect spot for young and old alike – so whether the party is primarily kids or a mixture of adults and children, this is a venue that can be enjoyed by all who are willing to let their hair down and be a kid for a day from tots, to teens and beyond.

SkyzoneSkyzone has both open jump sessions as well as organized, scheduled activities such as 3-D Dodgeball, crosstraining, SkyRobics and SkyRobics4Kids. We had previously visited Skyzone for an open jump, so when thinking about a great birthday spot, I headed to their website to check out what they had to offer. Having booked many a birthday party, I think at $10/guest, Skyzone’s party package may well be one of the best values in Vegas! The package includes an hour of jump time, a private room with festive decorations and lots of balloons, 2 giant pizzas, unlimited soda, color coordinated napkins, plates, cups and plasticware, and an attendant that setups up, cleans up and takes care of everyone in the party from beginning to end. And even though our group on this particular occasion consisted of many teens and adults who were self sufficient, I’ve been on the receiving end of 20 kids at a party and the value of having a cheerful party hostess tending to everyone’s whim is priceless – not to mention the cleanup afterward being handled while mom & dad simply carry gifts to the car!

As a final bonus, the birthday child gets a free t-shirt and 2 free passes to return again, with no expiration. (An important consideration to those of us traveling full-time, of course.) Our day was amazing, and even those of us who discovered new muscles we hadn’t known about in years concluded it was well worth it for this unique birthday celebration.

Olivia's DollhouseOLIVIA’S DOLLHOUSE TEAROOM: For a prior birthday we spent in Las Vegas for our youngest daughter, we discovered what I think is the most charming, memorable locale for a little girl to celebrate a birthday that I’ve ever seen. It’s aptly named, Olivia’s Dollhouse after the founder’s daughter who is now grown up and working with them. It all began back in 1994 when Tom and Jeanie Trikilis were searching for party places for their own daughter and finding the options slim. They saw a need in the market, filled it and 17 years later they’ve grown to 9 locations throughoutCalifornia and Las Vegas. The festivities include the opportunity to pick from a room full of 100 gowns to wear as well as from an eclectic array of hats, shoes, tiaras, purses, jewelry and make up. After making their selections, the girls receive updos, makeup, and nail treatments before proceeding onto the next room to present their fashion show for the adults in attendance.

Then, the princess treatment culminates with a catered “tea” party including sweets, finger sandwiches, a heart shaped cake and party
favors--all in a Victorian dollhouse atmosphere. The birthday child gets to sit at the head of a heart shaped table and is instructed to ring a special bell when party treats run low or her honored guests are in need of more pampering.

The birthday girl table at Olivia's Dollhouse Tearoom

The birthday girl table at Olivia's Dollhouse Tearoom

Even the adults at our party were captivated by the décor as we strolled from room to room marveling over collectibles and one-of-
a-kind items. "They're all full of animation and interactive features," Tom Trikilis explains. These include moving doll houses, animatronic dolls and interactive art that moves and plays an audio track when a child pushes its button.

In addition to princess parties, (and boys are always welcome and catered to equally) Olivia’s Dollhouse also hosts top model/glam parties, baby/bridal showers, or adult teas. No matter what the occasion, a party at this award winning locale will provide memories to last a lifetime.

Free “Family Friendly” Vegas Tourist Attractions:

In addition to celebration spots, we’ve also discovered other excellent options to pass the time while in Las Vegas with the under 21 crowd, such as:

MGM Grand Lion Habitat – Nestled amongst the bells and whistles of the slot machines, the renowned Lion Habitat provides an up close and personal view of these majestic animals as well as educational events throughout the day.

Silverton Casino & Hotel Aquarium - Named the "Best Free Attraction" in Las Vegas, Silverton Casino's saltwater aquarium is large and impressive. The signature 117,000-gallon reef aquarium will transport you to a tropical oasis where you can admire more than 4,000 tropical fish, and three species each of stingrays and sharks. Interactive feeding shows are scheduled daily at 1:30pm, 4:30pm and 7:30pm.

Rio Casino - Masquerade Show in the Sky - This is one of our all time favorite free shows that immediately transports you to Mardi Gras, complete with beads being thrown by the dancers from gondolas that hang from the ceiling and wind their way around a huge circle above the casino floor. In addition, there is a balcony for viewing with pint sized guests, so no worries about getting grief for standing still on the casino floor with the under 21 family members while watching the show. I also highly recommend the $15/person opportunity to be a part of the show and ride in one of the gondolas and get a backstage view of the performers getting ready to wow the crowds. We did this and it was an amazing opportunity, well worth spending a little extra!

lasvegas_signAnd rounding out any trip to Las Vegas, you’ll usually find us stopping by Dancing Waters - Bellagio Casino; The Fremont Street Experience Light Show - Fremont Street, Downtown Las Vegas; Sirens of TI Pirate Ship Show - Treasure Island Casino; The Volcano outside the Mirage Casino; Ethel M Chocolates Free Chocolate Factory Tour in Henderson, and last but not least, under the “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign which now has a convenient pull in location right in front of Mandalay Bay, for photo ops to commemorate your family’s stay.

Stephanie Mulac along with husband Greg and daughters Marina & Morgan are known as the Mulac Family Marketers. They hit the road full-time in April of 2008 along 2 cats and a contagious zest for life. With an established online Internet-based business model that allows them to work from anywhere & set their own schedule, they currently divide their days between roadschooling their daughters, coaching, speaking at events & workshops and enjoying abundant quality time as a family to explore and absorb all that the Universe brings their way. Stephanie thrives on the gratification she gets from teaching others to "monetize their passions" - learn more about their journey at http://www.mulacfamilymarketers.com.

RVParking.com Picks for Las Vegas

Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort - "Great park located close to freeways and the south end of the strip. We have found the east side of the park to be very quiet, family friendly, and plenty of room between RVs."

"Very nice park with many amenities and casino shuttle service." Read more.

Sam's Town RV Park - "Sam’s Town is convenient in that it has a great shuttle with 2 drop off points... The park itself is basically a parking lot, but nice, stays full. We had a somewhat secluded spot off to the back, this was nice just because we had fewer campers around us, a little more room to spread out." Read more.

1May/110

Newbie Nomads in the Desert

Today's post comes from Vesna of the blog Mudakiller. For those who don't know Muda (無駄) is a traditional Japanese term for an activity that is wasteful and doesn’t add value or is unproductive. So, instead of wasting time on things that aren't important to them on a deep level, Vesna and her family took to the road to spend their time on the relationships and experiences that matter to them.

We are a nomadic family of 5. We started this new life in January, 2011 after a two year awakening to what is important to us in life. We came to the conclusion that the mortgage, and all the ‘things’ piling up in our home, were not what mattered to us on a deep level. What matters to us, more than anything, is relationships and experiences. Since our career is in software, and we have the ability to work remotely, we eventually came to the conclusion that we could travel to where the people we love and the places we want to visit are. And so our journey began in January in a pop up trailer after selling everything we own (including the house... the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere in adulthood 4 ½ years!). We will be purchasing a C or A class later this year, but the pop up was to get us started traveling across the southern States for the winter/spring. Upon our return to the Toronto area in May, we’ll be heading out to Europe for the remainder of the year until we come back to travel the southern state circuit again.

Snowbirding Season Challenges
After spending over a month in California, we moved on to travel across the desert. Finding places to stay in California was pretty easy and reasonably priced. We started meeting people our age with and without kids who had just come from east to west across the desert. The stories about finding camping were not good. There were age restrictions, and just plain not-so-great camping places. The great places we were told about, Big Bend in Texas, etc. were places we had every intention of going to. But, with our work, and not having satellite internet, or a gray water tank or bathroom, we really needed to stick to RV parks more than state parks. Next year’s circuit will include a *lot* of state parks!

As soon as we hit Arizona, park after park after park was for age 55+. And if the age restriction wasn’t there, they were not accepting pop ups. And if they were accepting pop ups, they weren’t accepting the add-a-room we have. This wasn’t particularly a big deal, but it makes for a difficult longer stay.

Tombstone, AZ - One Gem of a Find
We did find a decent park just outside of Tombstone, called Cochise RV park. We stayed there for one night. The view in the morning was breathtaking with mountains all over. It was a nice park, but in a suburban setting and even without the age restrictions, it was quite obviously not for the non-retired. Not that they were unfriendly, but we did get a few eye brows raised. We spent the next day exploring the town of Tombstone and the site of the OK Coral. We read all about the town and founder online (thanks Wikipedia!) before checking it out for the day. The kids had a blast at the Boothill Cemetery and in the town of Tombstone itself. We learned about the 30 second long gun fight, the founder, and the silver mine he built the town around. We went down into the mine on a tour and is was quite fascinating! Great history for the kids!

Boothill Cemetary, Tombstone, AZ

Silver Mine

OK Corral

We were off towards the Carlsbad Caverns we’d heard so much about in New Mexico. However, the drive was too long, so we tried to find a place in the first part of New Mexico. We don’t like showing up and setting up too late at night – especially for one nighters. But, we found a place online called the Hidden Valley Ranch RV park. From the descriptions online, it looked nice and far from any town. 10 miles away from anything all around to be exact. Since we weren’t ready to travel too far off the trail with the pop up, this place looked pretty good. And it had wifi! Even though we have an air card, it’s still good to have park wifi as a backup.

We were a little late getting there, so we turned off the main road in Deming quite a bit after sunset. Pretty soon the road turned to gravel...and then dirt. The comforting city/town lights were dimming quickly, and the GPS was having a hard time figuring out where we were and finally quit. As did our air card. The road was bumpy and dark and there were signs about an ‘open range’. The kids started wondering and getting nervous. As the trailer bounced behind us, I too was getting nervous. I had thoughts of flat tires (we’ve had a total of 5 on this three month trip alone!) in the middle of nowhere. The 10 miles of slow driving seemed to take forever. We entered a valley with what looked like hills around us and finally saw a single light in the distance. We rolled up to the gates just when I was about to give up. I was so relieved at the gates that I did not see the “Welcome to an adult community” sign that Mike seemed to be focussed on. We sat there idling in front of the gate and pondered. There were definitely campers inside the gate, but everything looked all dark and closed up. I didn’t want to have to drive all the way back out and look for somewhere else (for there was nowhere else....a hotel perhaps??) this late at night. We decided we were setting up no matter what. We found info about after hours set ups. The next morning we found out that it was indeed ok that the kids were with us. The adult part was for the long-term campers. WHEW! With the star filled nights, the road runners, the hiking up the hills, and the complete silence of the desert, we stayed there two more nights for a total of three. There wasn’t a pool or playground, or anything else of the sort, but it was a wonderful experience to be away from everything.

We then headed out to the Carlsbad Caverns area at the Carlsbad RV Park. Great place for kids – amazing playground, indoor pool, game room, etc. and of course the Caverns nearby. There, we met up with another nomadic family we had met on Twitter. We stayed longer than expected and enjoyed their company. The Caverns were incredible! It was quite a trek to walk around the entire area, but it was amazing! The kids got their junior rangers there as well. Unfortunately, we were too early for the bats. That really sounds like it’s an amazing experience and we do hope to catch that at some point in the future. Prior to visiting the Caverns, we learned about the boy who had stumbled upon them and explored them with a friend.

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

Carvings

A Rough Texan Start
From there, we headed to Texas. After deciding to skip Big Bend (which we will catch the next time!), we drove straight to San Antonio. The intention was to stay a few days at the Travelers World RV Resort right in town and see San Antonio, the Alamo, etc. We did not get a good feeling from that park. It seemed nice and clean enough, but there was a gut feeling about safety that we did not like. It was raining the first day and was so humid in the trailer (especially after the dry desert) – everything was wet. We just wanted to move on along. So, we left early the next day and completely missed the Alamo, but will definitely return the next time around.

We drove to an amazing state park in Corpus ChristieMustang State Park. The wifi was sketchy, as was our air card, but it was enough for a week. It was a complete relief to be on the coast again after being in the desert so long. We got the surf board out, did some surfing, camp fires on the beach, and just enjoyed being steps away from the water. We hadn’t camped that close to the water the entire trip! March break was starting and kids were starting to show up, so the boys had friends to play with. It was a wonderful week!

Corpus Christie Surfing

The next stop was a wonderful RV resort called the Jamaica Beach RV resort. It was just across the street from the Gulf of Mexico, had mini putt, pool, hot tub, horse back riding, etc. all on site. We stayed about a week there as well. Surfing on the beach, went horse back riding, and lots of spring break friends coming through for the boys. It was another fantastic week at a fantastic park!

Galveston

Since then we stayed for an extended 3 week stay in Titusville, Florida, and are currently heading up the east coast before heading to Europe for the remainder of the year. Next January through April, we intend on taking our time through the desert and hitting quite a bit more state parks, as well as staying at some of the RV parks we’ve already been to. We’re very much looking forward to going back!

Vesna's RV Parking Picks

Cochise Terrace RV Resort, Benson, AZ
"
If I was a senior who wanted to be around seniors and not have a ton of kids running around, I'd rate it a 5."
Read more.

Hidden Valley Ranch RV Resort, Deming, NM
"This park was awesome... It's nice and small and we stayed there for a few days before we hit the road again."

Carlsbad RV Park & Campground, Carlsbad, NM
"Clean, great laundry, indoor pool (avoiding the wind/dust of the desert), awesome game room for the kids and an amazing playground."
Read the rest of this review plus two others.

Traveler's World RV Resort, San Antonio, TX
"It was clean and right in the city, but the area of town seemed sketchy and we were warned about keeping stuff locked up at the park."
Read more.

Mustang State Park, Port Aransas, TX
"Very small and pretty much right on the beach."
Read more.

Jamaica Beach RV Resort, Galveston, TX
"Great wifi, great laundry - BEST BATHROOMS EVER!!"
Read more.

Stay tuned for another "RVing with Kids" series post next week. Stephanie Mulac of Mulac Family Marketers will share celebration spots and free attractions in Las Vegas.

26Apr/110

Review of Corpus Christi, TX and Colonia del Rey RV Park:

Today's guest blog post about Corpus Christi comes from Stephanie Golden from the Golden Gang. Stay tuned for another guest blog post from Vesna of Mudakiller about her trip through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas (including Corpus Christi).

It was our first excursion in our RV as a new, full-time family on the road.  Where would we go?  Well, after a lot of thought, we chose to start south, and head north!  We chose to visit Corpus Christi, Texas.  Corpus Christi is an interesting place to visit, not only because of the location, warm weather, friendly culture or many attractions, but it also has a National Seashore that is really informative.  At the National Seashore, the kids were able to earn their first Jr. Ranger badges, as well as, a "Clean the Beach" patch.

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While we were at Corpus Christi, we stayed at this RV Park:

Colonia del Rey RV Park, Corpus Christi, TX
http://www.ccrvresorts.com/

***This RV park is our first RV experience, and I have to say that it was a great experience.

Facilities: Very Accomodating- Laundry, pool, rec-hall, very clean shower house/restrooms

Staff: Wonderful!  Very friendly and helpful.  They were more than willing to help us and answer any questions.  They guide you to your spot, and help leave, if you need help getting around tight corners.  When Tanner offered to work in any way available, they actually allowed him to earn a little money for raking!  :)

Area: This location was very close to all the attractions. (20 min. or less)

Price: For our family of 7, it was $193/week.

Overall: I would recommend this RV park to a family, or older couple.  Everyone was so sweet.  We even hung out and played BINGO one evening, and everyone made us feel welcome. :)

Corpus Christi has a lot to discover, along with many attractions! I already mentioned the National Seashore which is on the beach, but there are also many museums to visit as well.  The Art Museum, which gave us a nice perspective on all kinds and types of art, was appreciated.  The Surf Museum was also pretty interesting, showing the different shapes and sizes of surf boards.

IMG_0307

But, it was the History & Science Museum that truly astounded!  Not only is there a wealth of Science and History artifacts, including huge specimans of animals and sea creatures, but also many interesting documents, and a great indoor play center.  Outside, was a fabulous, guided tour onto the replica ships of the Nina and Santa Maria that Columbus had sailed on when he discovered America!  Too cool!

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But if you decide to travel down south to Corpus Christi, make sure that you visit the USS Lexington Aircraft Carrier Museum on the bay.  It is a retired vessel that is out of this world!  It has a breath-taking view from the top of the ship, where you can observe many planes of all designs, but you also have the privilege of touring the inside compartments.  To be able to visualize and walk through the halls where so many of our sailors lived for months on end, truly gives a new appreciation of the sacrifice our military lives by on a daily basis.

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I am thankful to have visited Corpus Christi, TX.  I want to encourage you and your family of all ages and backgrounds to explore and enjoy this enjoyable city in our great nation.

Stephanie Golden

Stephanie is a homeschooling mother of five from Spring, TX.  She and her husband made the decision to sell or give away many of their posessions to travel America, and learn first-hand about all the beauty and culture and history there is to discover, while living full-time in a motorhome!  Life is an adventure, and curiosity abounds!  Follow their travels on her blog: goldengangusa.blogspot.com

7Apr/111

Unique Camping Experiences: The Charm of the Farm

“So, what’s been your favorite camping spot?” We’ve heard this question a lot. And, each time, I find it impossible to answer. There have been so many wonderful campgrounds or overnight parking spots; each of which was memorable for different reasons.

Like many RVers, the Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, and Yellowstone standout as memorable. But, there are also those surprising gems that you find when you least expect it.  For us, it was the Blue Lake RV Resort in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.   And, of course, we’ve had our share of unusual parking/camping spots.

When we first started out, I couldn’t believe we would actually stay overnight in a Wal-Mart or Flying J parking lot. Now, it seems so normal to pull into a Wal-Mart and sleep, no? We’ve done some urban stealth parking in several towns. We even stayed on the grounds of a former mental institution/prison where our “backyard” was filled with hundreds of unmarked graves. That last one was by far our creepiest overnight spot (although there were a few Wal-Mart experiences that that come close to holding the creepy title.)  One of our favorite (and most non-traditional) campsite, however, occurred last summer.

In April 2010, we settled for the summer at a campground in New Hampshire to prepare for the birth of our first child. While there, we joined a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm where we received a basket of fresh fruits and vegetables each week. We became friends with the owners of the farm and at the end of our summer were invited to stay at the farm--after we left our campground which turned out to be a not-so-pleasant place. What started as just a one-night stay on the farm turned into two weeks.  They let us park in their driveway, hook up to their power, and experience the farm life, a life we’ve been contemplating for ourselves in the near future.

1780 Farm

We awoke every morning to the quacking sounds of Click and Clack, the farm ducks, who waddled out of the barn and past our trailer each morning. We fed our food scraps to the pig each night. I sat out on the homemade swing with my newborn daughter and watched the chickens freely roam the land. We learned that corn eaten right off the stalk is the sweetest taste ever. Our farm hosts took the time to teach my husband how to process a chicken, a valuable lesson for one who is interested in farming. (They invited me to get in on the lesson but I, well, I chickened out...this time).  My husband had the opportunity to help out with other farm tasks, an opportunity he had long awaited. And, most importantly, we learned that a fussy infant finds a tractor ride soothing.

1780 Farm 1

Throughout our farmstay, we continued to receive our plentiful basket of fruits and vegetables, which included bonus items such as recipes, bread and fresh cut flowers. We were often invited to dinner for a farm fresh meal and wonderful conversation and then our evenings ended with incredible sunset views over the beautiful New England farm.

While farm life has always been of interest to us, our first-hand experience was invaluable and encouraged us to continue our farm dreams. This summer as we get back out on the road, in addition to campgrounds, Wal-Marts, Flying Js, and the like, we intend to find some more farms on which to park our home.  Through organizations such as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, we can locate farms throughout the U.S. that are offering food, places to stay, and an educational experience in organic farming, in exchange for volunteer opportunities on the farm.  (Please note, that while WWOOF can be an excellent source for locating farmstay opportunities, not all WWOOF farms allow RVs.)  Another source is Farmstay US, a site that specializes in agritourism. This site also allows you to specifically search for those farms that have camping opportunities.

If you are looking for a unique camping experience this summer for your family, consider a farmstay. Support an organic farm, eat local, and have a great summer!

In June 2009, Chris and Lani sold the majority of their belongings, bought an Airstream travel trailer and said goodbye to Virginia and hello to the open road. Lani thought this adventure would only last three months. She was wrong...thankfully. They continued their travels into 2010, welcomed a baby girl in July 2010, and are currently spending another winter in Florida with family before heading back out onto the road in April. Follow their travels at http://aluminumbliss.com/.

7Mar/112

Experiences of a Lady Nomad

The first post in our series about solo women RVers comes from Judy Patton of Ladynomad on the Road to Nowhere. Since she has been full-timing for 9 years, she is an ideal person for kicking off this series. If you are a solo woman RVer who would be interested in contributing to this series, please let us know.

Bio: My name is Judy Patton. I am in my mid-50s and prior to my RVing, most of my career was as a logistics analyst within the aerospace industry, although I also worked as a Federal Investigator, a tax accountant and before/after school care provider. I have been a full-time RVer for 9 years. My journeys are recorded on my blog: www.ladynomad2005.blogspot.com.

I started my RVing lifestyle with my husband, Jim, in 2002. We traveled throughout the U.S., including Alaska, doing volunteer work about 5 months a year with MMAP (Mobile Missionary Assistance Program), Everglades National Park and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Florida. This went on for 3 years until Jim became ill and died of cancer in 2005.

For the next 2 years I was a volunteer at French Camp Academy (a Christian Boarding School in Mississippi) during the school year, traveling to visit family and friends during the summer months. But in the summer of 2007 things changed and I ended up back on the road again full-time. I had left to meet up with friends at the Winnebago Grand National Rally in Forest City, Iowa, planning to return and go to work full time back at French Camp Academy when the summer was over. I was going to sell my RV and everything. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the lifestyle, but I did not enjoy doing things alone. I’m a very active person, enjoying hiking, biking, and sightseeing, and although I could do these things by myself, I didn’t want to. But at the rally in Iowa I met Sharon Del Rosario who was at the time president of the Solos, the singles chapter of the Escapees RV Club. She invited me to attend one of their rallies in Kendallville, IN, in September 2007. It was there I found out about several other singles RV clubs such as the SI’s, the singles chapter of FMCA; the LOWs, Loners on Wheels, a national club with chapters in every state; and the WINs, Wandering Individual Network. Although I remain a member of the SOLOs and the SIs, I spend most of my time traveling with the WINs.

I was surprised at how many single women were out there traveling in their RVs, some full-time and others just part-time. The ratio is about 50/50 men to women within the clubs. Each club has its own benefits and style. The SIs and SOLOs usually meet throughout the year for rallies, staying a week or so, doing some sightseeing and lots of visiting and socializing, but then they scatter until the next rally. The WINs, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to travel with other singles virtually 52 weeks a year if you desire. Their style is gatherings within a circuit or caravan, moving each week or so to a new location. Many times there are multiple gatherings going on at the same time.

Let me explain. Last summer the group started in St. Louis about mid-May and ended up in Astoria, OR, Labor Day weekend, following the Lewis and Clark Trail. They kayaked various locations along the way, including an overnight trip on the Missouri in Montana.They biked several rail-to-trails, including the Hiawatha Trail in Idaho. This upcoming summer will see one group heading to the east coast, taking in Niagara Falls, NYC and Washington, D.C., while another group checks out the Pacific NW. The newsletter announces the dates and locations of gatherings and you show up at the ones you want to participate. Some people attend only a few gatherings a year, while others travel along the caravan route most of the time. To join the WINs you must own an RV, be single and under the age of 70. During the winter the club hangs out in Arizona and southern California, starting with Thanksgiving at Borrego Springs, Christmas and New Years in Yuma, AZ; moving on to Quartzsite for the RV show in January and ending with a dance rally in Casa Grande in February. In between these gatherings the group may be on the beach in Mexico, hiking in the Superstition Mountains, visiting ghost towns and dancing wherever they can. We rarely stay in organized RV parks, choosing instead boondocking locations. We find places to stay on BLM land, forest service campgrounds, National Park campgrounds and other locations. Most of us are equipped with solar panels (I have 3) and inverters. I have gone months without hooking up to electric, just finding a place to dump my holding tanks and filling up with water every 2 weeks. Many of the group belongs to various fraternal organizations. I belong to the VFW, Eagles, Elks and Moose. I can usually find one of these lodges somewhere close to where I am heading and if there parking lot is large enough and there is no prohibiting city ordinances, the lodges welcomes travelers. I truly feel like a modern day nomad, traveling with a group of friends which have become family. People come and go from gathering to gathering, but like any other community, you have friends with which to enjoy the activities of this lifestyle.

For more information on the WINs, check out their website: www.rvsingles.org.

Getting ready to kayak the Current River in Missouri.

Getting ready to kayak the Current River in Missouri.

Biking the Cumberland Gap in Kentucky

Biking the Cumberland Gap in Kentucky

Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

24Feb/112

Eureka! One RVer’s Bright Idea for New Fulltimers

A while back, we took to some of our most trusted RV forums to ask what research our users (that's you!) did before making the transition to Fulltime RVing in preparation for a future post. Some of you replied with the names of books, e-books, and websites that you used for your research. That particular blog post is still coming but we did want to share one recommended website, Travels with Andy in the meantime. Below Andy shares with us his RVing back story and a couple of popular tips from his book, "From Camping to Fulltime" and his CD "Eureka 2 - Bright Ideas for your RV".

Upcoming Contest: We'll be giving away a couple free copies of both Eureka 2 and From Camping to Fulltime in the near future.  So make sure to come back on Monday, 2/28 for the upcoming details for how to enter to win!

Eureka! One RVer's Bright Idea
I fell into RVing almost by accident. A friend was looking to upgrade from her small, 15-year-old motorhome to something larger; I had become fascinated by her tales of adventure, and when she mentioned that “Gertie” was for sale, I ended up buying the rig.

Once the initial thrill of having a cozy home away from home had worn off, I began to notice things that could be improved. After leaving my gas cap behind at a filling station, I made a simple wire gas cap holder so I’d have a place to put it while filling up. Then I worked on organizing Gertie’s storage space. I added a few halogen interior lights. It seemed there was always something more to do.

And I took photos, at first mainly to show my friends the enhancements I was making. But pretty soon I realized that I had the makings of a website, which I called “Improving Gertie.” I started getting a lot of compliments on the site. Complete strangers would email me to say things like “You have a well written, interesting site... Any wannabe, newbie or someone wanting fresh ideas (‘RVing 101’) should read ‘Improving Gertie.’ ”

Gertie-improv

The email that really caught my eye, though, was this one: “Have you thought about getting ‘Improving Gertie’ published in book form? I think it would be a great read, and a help to anyone thinking about RVing.” That set me thinking... and writing. I ended up expanding the “Improving Gertie” website into an electronic book with more than three times the material, covering everything from “home improvements” of all kinds to safety tips. I called it “Eureka! Bright Ideas for Your RV,” and it’s now in its second edition.

What is Eureka?

Over the years I’ve done a lot of tinkering with my rigs, and I’m always looking for ways to make them better—more comfortable, more space-efficient, more home-like. Eureka is a cornucopia of hints, tips, and projects based on my experiences. Everything from how to shower with less than a gallon of water... to plans for making a quilt that turns into a pillow... to ten useful things you can make with coat hanger wire... with more than 800 photos and illustrations showing how to put Eureka’s ideas into practice. But heck, why just talk about it? Here are a few quick examples.

The school of hard knocks
Here's a true story. When I was one year old, I fell down a flight of cast-iron stairs at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology and landed on my head. Some of my friends would say that this explains a lot. It may account for the fact that I can't seem to see a shiny silver awning strut until I walk right into it.

Well, I'm not completely stupid. After a few bruises and a lot of embarrassment, I got the bright idea of slitting a couple of foam swim noodles lengthwise and slipping one over each awning strut. Now the struts are not only visible, but padded. No more black eyes!

awning-strut

Another tip: if your dinette table, like mine, has a leg that sticks out, you can cut off six inches or so of the swim noodle and put it on the bottom of the leg, where it'll keep you from stubbing your toes.

A stretchy solution
The small items in my medicine cabinet tended to wind up in a jumbled heap. Here's what I mean:

meds-before

So I stapled a strip of 1"-wide elastic across that area, and now everything is nice and neat!

meds-after

The first time I tried this, I put the elastic halfway up the space... but then discovered that it was difficult to remove or replace the items. Keeping it low (about an inch above the shelf) worked much better.

Turn up the pressure!
My old rig’s shower spray was a bit anemic, which made showering less enjoyable, not to mention taking longer. But I came up with a simple fix: plug half the showerhead's holes, and the flow from the remaining holes is twice as strong. I tested the idea first with tape, and it worked... so I laid a bead of epoxy glue around the outer set of holes, giving me a much more vigorous spray at the same water-saving flow rate.

showerhead-glued

Sleep cheap
Many RVers use the Travasak “sleep sack”, a sleeping-bag-like pair of comforters with a removable bedsheet insert. It’s nice, but pricey at $150 to $230. I made my own sleep sack from a couple of sleeping bags and a couple of twin-sized bedsheets—an easy job for anyone with access to a sewing machine. Eureka includes my plans for making your own under-$60 sleep sack.

Doorstops in the cupboard?

Yup! In my kitchen cupboards I use doorstops—the kind that resemble tightly coiled springs—mounted upside-down on the cabinet shelves. They keep the stacks of dishes from sliding around, yet still make it easy to pull them out.

doorstops

There’s more to Eureka than quick tips, of course. Full-length illustrated chapters cover topics such as understanding and troubleshooting your electrical system without being a technical wizard, connecting to the internet while on the road, keeping your refrigerator cool, building a pantry closet, and making the most of your limited storage space (I have lots of tips on that topic!). For example, here’s a link to Eureka’s complete chapter on electronic books and ebook readers—an increasingly popular way to save space and weight while traveling.

The best part of putting together Eureka has been the enthusiastic response from folks who’ve bought it. Comments have ranged from “Wow, what a gold mine!” to “A must for everyone with an RV” to my favorite: “Eureka is the best money I have ever spent.” No matter what kind of RV you own, you can pick up some bright ideas from Eureka. To get an idea of the book’s scope, you can take a look at the complete index or visit the Eureka homepage for more information.

Andy Baird was plodding along at a desk job, convinced that he couldn't afford to retire... until a friend introduced him to RVing, and he learned that as a full-time RVer, he could retire and live comfortably on a fraction of his salary. Since then he’s traveled over much of the US, and has written several books and many articles about his adventures. You can read about his experiences on his “Travels With Andy” website.

21Feb/111

Family Boondocking in Quartzsite

Since several of you have requested RV destination posts that are written with the family in mind, today we bring you a post about family RVing in Quartzsite by Erin Provost, a mother of three who blogs at Provost Recess. We have many blog posts to come including another post in the RVing with Kids series about the National Parks Jr. Ranger program, reviews of the new Eddie Bauer Airstream from four RV bloggers with Airstreams, a post about RVing in Hot Springs Arkansas and more. Since we've added an RSS feed button to the blog, so it will be easier to keep track of the great things to come.

When the price to park on 500 square feet of asphalt starts rivaling a perfectly decent hotel room it gives one pause. After all, with an RV we bring everything we need with us.

DSC_0068

To us, one of the great joys of RVing is boondocking. A free place to park is a welcome perk. (Think great justification for a dinner out sometime.) So, it is no surprise that we love Quartzsite, Arizona: arguably the boondocking capital of the world.

We have not visited during the main season, we prefer the off-season lack of crowd thing, but if you like flea markets Quartzsite’s reputation is unsurpassed.

There are different areas with different options. Knowing how long you will be staying and what amenities you will need can help you choose what works best for you. We have always been passing through and have planned to be completely self sufficient allowing for more seclusion. Therefore, we have always opted for the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land.

Our last visit we did have a hard time finding a place to dump when we were leaving town. In retrospect, we might opt for paying a $40 fee to one of the gated parks which would give us access to their dump for up to two weeks and still used the BLM camping area.

There are 5 BLM areas; we use the Roadrunner area which is on the 95, 5 miles south of Quartzsite at mile marker 99. It is on the west side of the 95.

When you pull off you enter a web of primitive roads, I uses the term road loosely here, that go in all directions. It can be daunting, at first, and I recommend arriving before sunset. Something we failed to do on our first visit. It turns out my husband finds it easier to avoid cactus, yucca, rocks and deep ruts when he can see.

DSC_0073

Deciding where to park is a big decision. One certainly doesn’t want to park on top of another camper, but people’s space bubbles are all unique. Our loose rule of thumb is we want to be far enough away that we could leave our curtains open and not be observed. We don’t actually do this, but we like to know we could. No one wants to be on the wrong side of a fish bowl.

We find a place to park, not too close to any neighbors, and before we cool the engine the kids are out the door, running in a large circle hooting and hollering. Why? Because they can, and really, how often does this opportunity present itself anymore? Nobody is pulling into a KOA and behaving like this…. well, we certainly don’t allow it so the kids relish this opportunity!

jamie bobby outside

Quartzsite is back to camping basics. Our perfect evening proceeds with dinner, a desert sunset (providing you have followed my prior advice,) a campfire (with your favorite associated activities,) and star-gazing (though not pitch black, compared to any city the stargazing is breathtaking. Our kids now understand why our galaxy is called the Milky Way.)

Board games, good books, long conversations, baking, long intricate games of pretend, there are so many ways to spend time when there is no where to rush off to. These make for the kinds of evenings memories are made of.

Sunrise

Fresh desert air and quiet cool nights make for good sound sleeping which in turn allows for my favorite aspect of Quartzsite; the desert sunrise. My daughter may rival me as the family’s biggest fan and the budding photographer and her trusty assistant were brave enough to be out in robes to capture the magnificent spectacle. Even my sleep-loving husband couldn’t resist the kids’ enthusiasm and braved the morning chill to get their pictures. After I provided the hats, mittens, and warm pumpkin tea of course.

q bobby cactus

I kindly volunteered to stay with our sleepyhead little one (you know, under the down comforter) and take my view from the window. She joined me eventually.

You can get your magic in so many ways and we found a little piece in Quartzsite.

Erin Provost is a wife and mommy to three. After living at the same address for 6 years, longer than she has ever lived at any single address her entire life, she decided it was time for a break, a recess if you will. As gypsies do attract, her crazy husband and kids completely agreed.  They sold everything, fixed up a 1975 Newell and set off. You can follow their adventure at www.provostrecess.blogspot.com.

8Feb/110

Bella Online’s Spotlight Article on RVParking.com

Erin Floresca, RV Editor at BellaOnline.com and one of our frequent guest bloggers has written a spotlight article on RVParking.com. Erin asked us some really great questions that we're sure some of you have been secretly wondering about as well.  Like "Are you RVers? If so, what kind of rig do you own?" and the ever popular "What city is RVParking based out of? ". We've included a little excerpt from the article below. As always feel free to comment with any questions that you still might have for us and enjoy!

"So, after writing two guest blog posts and contributing a few park reviews, I decided it was time to find out more about the folks behind the site.

RVparking.com was founded by Erik Budde of T2 Media, a company dedicated to building niche online businesses. According to Budde, "Some of our previous businesses include AboutAirportParking.com which offers detailed information on where to park at over one hundred airports. That site has grown very rapidly and handles more than two hundred thousand parking reservations a month." T2 Media also runs TravelwithYourKids.com, a great resource for parents traveling with children.

So just where does the RV lifestyle fit into this picture? Budde’s parents began RVing about five years ago and he’s been on a number of trips with them. "Looking at the resources available for RVers, I felt that the existing tools weren’t nearly as strong as they could be," says Budde. While some of the online resources his parents utilized featured park reviews, the information available on them was limited. Others had plenty of park reviews, but the listings were often incomplete and the sites were hard to navigate. "No one seemed to offer one of the most valuable items—real user photos," says Budde. "Finally, although RVing is inherently mobile, there were almost no mobile solutions."

Continue reading RVParking.com Spotlight article here

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