Headin’ South

September, 2018 – Springfield, MO to Gulf Shores, AL We managed to leave Springfield as planned two days after our daughter’s wedding. I was miserable with a cold and I asked Jim to please get me to the beach. I assured him if I was not cured by the time we got there, a good dose of sea and sand would heal me. So we made a beeline for Gulf Shores, Alabama.

We took 6 days to get there, stopping in 4 places along the way. The most interesting stop we made was 2 nights in Little Rock Arkansas. The Downtown Riverside RV Park was in the heart of the city and right on the Arkansas River. The price for our full hookup site was $31 per night per night.

There was a great pedestrian bridge just at the end of the park that you could walk or bike to the south shore where Clinton’s Presidential Library and Park are located.

The Arkansas River Trail runs for 21 miles along the river and if I had felt better there were tons of interesting places we could have biked to from our campsite.

I was starting to feel better by the 2nd day of our visit so we took a walk over that bridge and along the south shore stopping at The Central Arkansas Nature Center where they had lots of great exhibits.

We then continued a short ways to another interesting pedestrian bridge, the Junction Bridge, and then home.

It was about two miles round trip and felt great to be moving again!

Each night the bridges are lit with a light show at the top of every hour.

Once we reached Gulf Shores we had an amazing 4 nights at Gulf State Park. This is definitely one of our favorite parks. Last year around this same time we had a brief stay that was cut short by Hurricane Nate.

I was feeling about 80% when we arrived but one afternoon playing in the ocean and lying on the hot sand and that jumped to 95% cured. Another dose of sea water the next day and I was my old self. I, and I’m sure Jim, was happy to see her!

This is a very bike friendly park so we gratefully unleashed our bikes from their bumper carrier and set them free. There is a network of trails around the park totaling 15 miles that make up the Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trail. All the trails we rode were wide and either paved or most often, wooden boardwalk.

From our site we could bike less than a mile and cross one awesome pedestrian overpass to reach the beach. Our third day there we biked 5 miles total with a swim in the ocean as an intermission.

One of our favorite spots in the park is the pier. Admission to the pier is included in your camp fee. We love watching huge schools of fish darting willy nilly to avoid the predators stalking them from the depths. What is even better is when you actually get to see those predators.

Our first afternoon on the pier we saw a couple sharks and thought that was pretty awesome. We returned one evening to watch the sunset and were thrilled to see several more sharks as well as quite a few rays near the shore. But when I forgot my sunglasses that evening and we went back the next morning, our last, in the vain hope they might still be there, we really hit the mother load.

We saw shark after shark that morning. There was one spot where it was rather shallow and you could see them really well against the sandy bottom. There was a whole gang of sharks weaving in and out of this area so who knows how many there really were but at one point I saw 7 at once! I am pretty sure the majority of the sharks were Blacktip Reef Sharks although we definitely saw at least one nurse shark as well.

We had to leave on Friday morning as the park was full for the weekend. We had a big move to make that day, a whole 18 miles to Big Lagoon State Park just on the other side of the Florida state line. We were just riding out the weekend before moving to another of our favorite beach parks on Sunday.

As is often the case we had to seek a less popular camp for Friday and Saturday nights. Big Lagoon was actually a very pleasant park though: uncrowded, with lots of room to move, and just a few miles drive from the amazing Johnson Beach National Seashore.

Goat Yoga and Other Happy Occasions

September, 2018 – Springfield, MO We spent the four weeks following our Round Spring trip in Springfield. We had committed part of our summer to helping our oldest daughter, Carie, finalize her wedding plans. She had made all the important decisions and planned an amazing event. We were just there to help her any way we could.

There wasn’t really all that much work to do but we wanted to stay in town so we could handle anything that came up. Our days were not terribly exciting. I concentrated on getting 3+ miles of walking/running in every morning. I seem to be fighting a losing battle with the scale lately but I was determined to look my best for the special occasion. We also got our bikes on Springfield’s trails as often as possible.

Most afternoons were spent doing a little shopping or running errands as we made and then crossed off list after list of wedding details that needed attended to. Carie works weekdays so we kept our weekends free to collaborate with her. We also tried to squeeze in as much quality time with our friends and family as possible. We were lucky to not have any vacancies or major projects necessary on our rentals this summer but we checked on each of them and took care of minor maintenance projects.

Last spring I had read about a small farm offering goat yoga just outside of Springfield. I though it sounded like fun and suggested organizing a girls’ night kicked off by goat yoga for those involved in the wedding and for the groom’s family. It would give us all a chance to get to know each other better. Everyone seemed amenable so we set the date for the Saturday after Labor Day.

That particular weekend turned out to be a very rainy one in Missouri as a result of Hurricane Gordon hitting the Gulf Coast earlier in the week. The effect on our date with the goats was uncertain until we finally got a message that goat yoga would take place in the barn where a fresh layer of hay had just been added. Everyone seemed excited that it was a go and we showed up with a total group of 9 ladies ranging in age from 8 to a little older than me.

I would guess there were 30 or so participants all together in the barn. There was ample enough space although it was a little darker than it might have been if we had assembled outside in the yard. Most of the participants were women but there were a few guys in attendance.

The yoga instructor came in and told us what to expect and what we could and shouldn’t do. She then introduced us to her husband who was to act as goat wrangler. Then they went out to fetch the goats.

They brought in around a dozen goats. The goats had been holed up in other barns all day because of the rain so they were a little frisky. They roamed around checking out the big barn but not really showing too much interest in their visitors.

After telling us about the individual goats we got down to yoga, sorta. The yoga was really just an excuse to be on the ground and interact with the goats. We got down on all fours (not sure what yoga pose that even is) and, with a little nutritional encouragement from the goat wrangler, the goats would walk across our backs. By the way, rather than sharing pics of our group in awkward positions, the ones in this post are of various other participants in the barn.

The goats were not miniature goats. Most were pretty large. It’s hard to explain what them walking across my back felt like. Funny is the first description to come to mind. It didn’t hurt (usually) but it wasn’t especially pleasurable either. It was just a unique, odd sensation that made it impossible not to laugh.

Next we did downward facing dog.

You actually waited for a goat to climb on your back while you were on all fours and then raised your rump to the correct position. Here I am in all my glory.

Most of the poses were more photo opp than yoga but it was all good fun and everyone had a great time. The goats were running around, often head butting each other as goats will do. Here are two about to do just that.

You did have to watch out as they could get a little wild. And these animals were not potty trained so they would occasionally go on somebody’s mat. Here is our goat wrangler with one of the crew on his shoulders.

The couple who run the farm are incredibly nice and you could tell they really loved their animals. I felt the $20 per person fee was very reasonable. The experience was a hit with all involved and it had its intended results, we all got to know each other.

That was very important as we would see a lot of each other in the coming weeks. We had a bridal shower, a rehearsal dinner, and the actual wedding to come. We are very lucky that the family Carie married in to is a large, warm group of people and it was such a pleasure to become friends with them.

The week of the wedding I came down with a severe cold. We were far enough ahead in our preparations that I was able to take a couple days off to rest. I was then able to rally and hold it together for the important events with a pocketful of cough drops and a tube of hand sanitizer ever present.

We did so much visiting during the rehearsal dinner that the day of the wedding I sounded like Kermit the Frog. The wedding went off without a hitch though. The weather was perfect for the entirely outdoor event. The ceremony was touching. And the reception was a blast.

The next day I woke up with absolutely no voice. I could barely get out a whisper. We ran the necessary post event errands and then we zoned out the rest of the day. Our plans were to leave town the following day.

Echo Bluff State Park

August, 2018 – Eminence, MO We had plans to meet our friends at Round Spring Campground the weekend before Labor Day. We realized we didn’t have anything going on the week before that required us to stay in Springfield so we left town on Monday. We had a tough time deciding where to go but finally landed on spending a few days at Missouri’s newest state park, Echo Bluff.

Echo Bluff was only a few miles from our weekend destination. It wasn’t quite open the last time we ventured this way in July of 2016 so we had never been there. And it is said to be frequented by the wild horses of Shannon County which I have always wanted to see.

We didn’t have to wait long. Soon after we got set up Jim spotted some horses near an old barn across the road from the campground. I grabbed my camera and headed that way.

I stayed on the sidewalk with a guardrail between them and myself, quite a distance from where they were, hoping not to spook them.

I was afraid they would leave when they noticed me. I was totally unprepared for what actually happened. They spotted me and started galloping toward me! Doesn’t the one on the left look a little maniacal with that hair?!

I hurriedly walked back to Jim who was coming to join me. I didn’t know what protection he could offer me from three crazy horses but I was pretty sure my old farm boy would know what to do. Thankfully we didn’t have to do anything. The horses reached the road, stopped running, and calmly walked past us. They must enjoy messing with the newcomers!

It turns out that these three horses, though part of the wild herd, choose to stay in and around the state park. In fact they appear to be a bit of a nuisance. We saw them being shooed out of many a campsite while we were there.

The pony especially seems to have no fear of humans and, of course, no training. This combination can make him quite the pest. One day he tried to eat our welcome mat. We put it away after that.

The park turned out to be a delight. Sinking Creek runs through the park. It is clear and warmer than the many spring fed creeks and rivers in the area. There are many places along its banks to wade and there are a few decent swimming holes to enjoy.

The park includes cabins and a lovely lodge, both of which had fairly reasonable rates.

The lodge’s back deck looks out on the park’s namesake, Echo Bluff.

The campground was beautiful each morning with mist rising from the creek and the sun rising behind the hills.

It was the perfect park for my morning walks. It was far from crowded in the middle of a week after local schools had started. There were exactly three miles of pavement between the campground, the lodge, the cabins, and their fabulous playground.

On Friday we made the big 3 mile move to Round Spring Campground. I shared the details of Round Spring Camp and Cavern with you on our last visit two years ago. I kept telling my family and friends that they had to make this float with us but it was so hard to get an RV site at the campground. I looked in May and this particular weekend, the one before Labor Day, was the only one they had any RV sites left. They happened to have three and we snapped them up.

As the date approached I started to worry that this group was not going to enjoy the float. The water was a little low in August so it wasn’t moving as fast as it does in the spring and a 9 mile float was longer than they usually like. Jim suggested that we look into putting in at Current River State Park which is around halfway.

This park does not have an official launch but when we visited several years ago they said they were working on one. Their website and everything else we could find on the internet suggested there was not one but we decided to drive over early Saturday morning to see what we could find out.

Several of us arrived soon after 8 am Saturday assuming they would be open. The gate actually said they did not open until 9 am so we parked at a nearby trailhead and walked past the gates. Soon after we began our walk to the river the gates were opened a couple times by employees arriving to work.

About the time we got to the main area of the park a gentleman pulled up and introduced himself as the park’s superintendent. It was still well before 9 but he offered to open the buildings for us and proceeded to give us an outstanding tour. Having been to the park before, we were most interested in showing our friends the gymnasium.

We were impressed with the diamond patterned ceiling which doesn’t have any boards more than a few feet in length. According to our guide this is one of only two examples of this construction still standing in the US.

We had never had the opportunity to tour the rest of the buildings before. Our guide opened each of them and gave us a ton of information on each. The whole property was a corporate retreat for a box company in its heyday.

There was a main lodge which included men’s quarters. Later they added a ladies dorm. And this building on the right was the pool hall.

One of the more interesting features of the buildings was the fireplaces which were all built with formations from a nearby cave, now closed. I realize from a conservation standpoint this is an atrocity, but it was done a really long time ago so we might as well appreciate how unique it is and how much craftsmanship it took.

After an hour tour we asked him what we came there for “Could we launch our kayaks from the park?” He informed us that yes we could but the best place to launch was pretty muddy at the moment and he wouldn’t recommend driving down there. Also he said we would have to have our vehicles gone by the park’s closing at 6 pm.

We headed to camp to load up our boats and get the rest of our group. We then drove back and put in. The place we chose was a bit of a haul and not terribly easy to launch but I think with a little more investigation we could have found a better launch in the park.

We had a great float. This launch cut the 9 mile float to less than 4 which was much more to our group’s liking. There was no need to paddle and plenty of time to fish. We stopped at practically every gravel bar and then spent almost an hour at our favorite spot, the confluence of Sinking Creek and the Current River not far above our takeout.

We enjoyed our time in this area very much. This visit cemented our opinion that this is one of our favorite areas of Missouri. It is nice to know that visitors now have additional options for camping and lodging in the area and another option for starting or stopping a float on the beautiful Current River. FYI: the local outfitters will pick visitors up and return them to their lodging in either Round Spring Campground or Echo Bluff State Park and they offer several great floats on the Current, most of which are around 9 miles long.

The Wild and Scenic Eleven Point River

August, 2018 – Riverton, MO While visiting with family in my hometown of Doniphan several of us decided to take a day and float the nearby Eleven Point. This river is part of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. It has been under the protection of the national government since 1968 and therefore there is zero development along its banks and relatively few accesses.

The outfitter, Hufstedler’s, said the simplest float for a group our size would be Whitten back to their location, Riverton. We would park at the takeout and they would haul all of us upriver.

We made a late start at 11am. Then we had an hour’s drive to the outfitter and it took another hour between waiting on their bus and a long ride to the put in. At 1pm the eight of us were finally on the water.

It was a perfect day and very hot. That’s a good thing because the Eleven Point is a very cold, spring fed river.  On this Friday we didn’t have to share it with one single other floater.

We noticed some water flowing into the river below a bluff and several of us got out to explore up the stream and see if we could locate a spring.

The stream got colder and colder the farther we walked. We came across the remains of what I presume was a mill.

When we finally found the origins of the spring it was unimpressive. The water was seeping out of the ground and pooling in a small pond before making its way to the river.

The river is beautiful and clear with plenty of bluffs along its banks.

It was too late in the day to see much wildlife but we did see plenty of turtles. Most of our crew saw a bald eagle. One person swears they saw an armadillo swimming. I wish I could have seen that!

There were lots of wildflowers along the river. These blooms were impossibly tiny, about the size of my pinky nail.

Although our clan is not a stranger to this river, none of us remember ever floating this particular section before. The water was a lot slower than other sections we have floated.

Late in the afternoon we were all paddling steadily towards the end and not particularly interested in the scenery any longer when we passed a sign that said Boze Mill. Noone cared to investigate but just down river we heard a roar of water. We paddled up the resulting stream and found this magical place.

Everyone forgot their fatigue and their rumbling tummies and got out of their kayaks to explore. If you climbed on top of the dam the springwater continued peacefully upstream.

The abandoned mill parts added to the area’s interest.

Everyone agreed it was worth the delay but we finally had to get back in our boats and make the final push. Not far above the takeout were the biggest rapids of the trip. Jim was watching to make sure everyone made it down safely but no one had any trouble navigating them.

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Shortly thereafter we rounded a bend to the most beautiful sight of the day: the bridge that signaled we had made it to the end.

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Although the outfitter claims this is a 7 mile float, my GPS clocked it at over 9. We finally made it back to our trucks at 6pm. While we were taking out we witnessed something you just don’t see every day, a stretch limo hauling a boat. lol

This was an awesome float and everyone agreed they wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Jim would like to come back and do it again so he can fish it more. We’ll just get an earlier start when we do!

Florida! What?!

Goodland, FL – July, 2018 When putting together our summer calendar many months ago we realized we had one three week window where we didn’t have anything going on in Missouri. It was not hard to figure out where we wanted to go. We had a house, a boat, and a car in Florida.

We had been planning on buying a small used car next season so instead we found one before we left. We bought this 2006 Cadillac CTS in April. We got it for a great price and it only had 65,000 miles on it.

It makes it so easy to zip around Marco Island and Naples and to find parking in places our big truck just doesn’t fit. It gets a little better gas mileage and it will help keep the mileage down on the Ford. We hope we got a good enough deal that we’ll be able to resell her in a year or two and recoup most of our investment.

We booked flights on Allegiant Airlines from Springfield to Punta Gorda for $350 total. Then we rented a car for 24 hours on each end of our trip to make the 85 miles drive to our home in Goodland. We were able to rent at the airport and return it in Naples and vice versa. It was $85 one way and $55 the other. Ubers and such would have been over $100 each way.

We enjoyed three wonderful weeks in a place that is starting to feel very much like home. We have officially been Florida residents for some time now and are certain we want to eventually settle somewhere in this state. But for now we are loving this area. And this home, while not our forever home, is still very dear to us.

Many have told us how miserable Florida can be in the summer. We often heard how terrible the humidity is and couldn’t help but wonder how much worse it could be than Missouri which is a pretty humid place in the summer. During our stay there is no doubt it was humid. But we didn’t feel the humidity itself was what made it so uncomfortable.

The temperatures weren’t much different than they were in Missouri but in our opinion it’s the sun that makes the difference. This part of Florida is so much closer to the sun than the rest of the country. Unless you are lucky enough to have some cloud cover, the heat can be intense.

As far as working in the yard or exercising outdoors, we had to get those things done by 9am because after that it was just too hot. The only place to be after that was in the air conditioning or on/in the water. Guess where we preferred to be.

We had a great time boating and had our favorite beaches all to ourselves most of the time. The area is not really crowded in the winter but it is downright deserted in the summer.

We saw very few dolphins. I assume they enjoy the cooler waters further out this time of year. The water temp was around 87 degrees.

We had heard the fishing would be better in the summer.  We didn’t have much luck catching anything edible. But we still had fun trying.

We were fishing one day when I saw this Blue Crab swimming across the top of the water. Jim handed me the net and I scooped him up. A quick perusal of the fishing guidelines confirmed we could keep him.

Jim cleaned him and we added him to a shrimp boil we already had planned. We got about a teaspoon of sweet crab meat each and decided that although it was good it wasn’t worth his life or the trouble.

One of our neighbors, who has fished these waters most of his life, said that the red tide is the reason we weren’t catching. We are lucky to have only a little red tide around Goodland but it is really bad not too far up the coast. So it makes sense that it would affect the fishing here.

Another thing people often complain about is the rain during Florida summers. When our daughter spent last summer in Bonita Springs it seemed like it rained from the day we left in May until Irma hit in September. During this visit we had only a couple days where it rained, or threatened rain, all day long.

We woke to thunderstorms one morning and I grabbed a cup of coffee and my camera and headed to the back porch. The view was amazing! Huge thunderclouds and a lighting storm in front of us. The sun was coming up on our left and a full moon was setting to our right.

Unfortunately I failed to capture a lightning bolt. In this picture the light in the clouds to the right is actually lightning but you’ll just have to take my word for it. I finally put my camera down and just enjoyed the splendor.

Another night we were in the midst of a very loud storm and I stepped out the front door and got this image of lightning behind our neighbor’s house.

We did get our share of afternoon showers but generally they were a relief as they brought the temperature down for a short time at least. They did often create some drama in the sky and make for some beautiful sunsets.

It was really cool having this paradise seemingly to ourselves. So many of the houses of our fair weather neighbors were vacant. The guy across the street is a full time resident but he even went on vacation a whole week while we were there.

The ravages of Irma are still apparent on Goodland but they are slowly being erased. On our morning walks we’d occasionally notice a newly vacant lot where once there was a damaged house or trailer.

One sign of the area’s recovery is the reopening of popular restaurant that had been closed because of the hurricane . We had heard great things about The Crabby Lady and were excited to try it. We waited until our last Sunday there and went for an early dinner since they have live music on Sunday afternoons.

The restaurant is on the water and is apparently very popular with boaters. They are the only restaurant on Goodland that serves breakfast and the only one open during the off season. The band was great and we enjoyed our meal immensely. We look forward to many more Sunday Fundays at this establishment when we return.

Peddling Around Springfield

June, 2018 – Springfield, MO We spent all of June in Missouri. We hung out with our kids, played with our granddaughter, and caught up with our friends.

We also tried to get our bikes out as often as possible. Springfield is blessed with many great bike trails. It has miles of asphalt just for pedestrians and bicyclists.

It’s a little harder to find level pavement in this area of foothills. We certainly want to work up to some elevation gain but Jim’s trike doesn’t perform very well on hills. And I’m not even a huge fan of flying down hills. I usually ride the brake not wanting to take a chance on hitting something on the path and losing control.

Rails to trails are always a good bet for a fairly level ride since the trains the paths were designed for couldn’t handle steep grades any better that we can. Springfield has a great one of these, the Frisco Highline Trail.

It has about 8 miles of asphalt starting on the north side of Springfield and continuing south through Willard. It is a very nicely done trail with a bike rental stand at the Willard trailhead and rest stops like this one. The storage facility across the road has facilities for cyclists including a bike storage program.

This trail continues all the way to Bolivar, 30 miles away. The remainder of the trail is gravel. We rode a section of it and it was very hard packed. We’d like to do more of it as we have walked many miles of this trail in the past and it is very scenic.

One morning we checked out the Wilson’s Creek Greenway, one of the few trails we hadn’t walked before. The trail description I found said minimal inclines. Ha!

When we headed north from Tal’s Trailhead we had to climb a large hill through some woods almost immediately. At the top of the hill we came out of the woods and had to go through a gate. We were now in a cow pasture and there were gently rolling hills as far as we could see.

We made it about a mile farther before we came upon several short but steep hills and turned around. We pedaled back past the trailhead and continued another mile south hoping it would be easier in that direction. It was actually much hillier.

I ended up walking my bike a couple times and we finally called it quits with only 5 miles ridden but 370 feet in elevation gain

The trail was very pretty and if you are better prepared for the hills and ready for a challenge I absolutely recommend hiking or biking it if you are in the area.

One of our favorite trails is the Galloway Creek Greenway on the east side of town. We rode it on Father’s Day with our son Adam, an avid cyclist. This trail is very popular but it is also quite wide so sharing the path was never a problem. The trail has several metal sculptures along the way.

You ride past many businesses including several bars and restaurants.

And the funnest part is riding under some busy streets and one train trestle.

This particular day we rode from the trailhead at Pershing Middle School to the old iron bridge over James River for a round trip of around 10 miles.

The South Creek Greenway is another great trail in the heart of Springfield without too many hills. It includes a great bridge over the very busy Kansas Expressway.

It has 6 miles of total pavement so it is about the perfect length for us as we enjoy getting in about 10-12 miles if there is not too much up and down.

We took the bikes to the Lake Springfield Park one morning and discovered it has a really scenic trail along the lake.

It was better suited to walking however since it was only about a mile long. We rode some other roads in the park to eak out a 3 mile day.

I haven’t been carrying my cameral on the bike and instead enjoy taking photos with my phone, often while in motion. I have certainly missed my camera a few times like when this red winged black bird kept swooping by one morning.

For all its convenience though I think the phone does a decent job.

Residents and visitors of Springfield are lucky to have these and many other trails and parks to enjoy. Information and maps for all these trails can be found at the ozarkgreenways.org website.

I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden!

Along with the Sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometimes.” Lynn Anderson sure nailed it in her 1970 hit Rose Garden. It was released the year I was born and a favorite song of my dear departed mother who was known to regularly break out in song. So though I can’t specifically recall her singing me those exact lyrics when I threw a childish rant, I am still quite sure she did, and that she is the reason they, and many other lyrics, pop into my head, and usually out of my mouth, when an appropriate situation arises.

RVing is not all rose gardens, unicorns, and rainbows. I wouldn’t want to be accused of glossing over the pitfalls and troubles that sometimes go with the lifestyle. I try to tell it like it is in my posts and include in my accounts the bad with the good as in “A Great Weekend and One Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

But honestly there are a LOT of minor inconveniences and annoyances that it would just seem petty for me to bring up on a regular basis. But it also seems almost dishonest to never bring them up at all. So here is my top 5 list of the worst things about fulltime RVing.

Sometimes RVing Stinks! There, I’ve said it. Living in close proximity to your sewer system is usually the culprit. But why are you smelling your gray or, god forbid, your black tank? It is not always the easiest question to answer.

Example #1 When we first got our Mesa, it smelled really awful every time we changed locations. We thought it had to do with the actual movement of the trailer. We finally realized that trailer was so much more airtight than our last, that when we opened the slides it was pulling air from our sewer traps. All we had to do was open a vent or I often just hold the front door open a crack while I extend the slides and now it pulls fresh air into trailer instead of sewer gases.

Example #2 Our Mesa has a mechanical sewer vent in the basement. For some reason the manufacturer didn’t run the vent for the shower all the way through the roof. This results in a less than pleasant smell from our gray tank that sometimes emanates from under our kitchen sink. We thought the mechanical vent had just malfunctioned as they sometimes do, but we replaced it and it didn’t help. So we finally taped a plastic grocery bag over it, leaving some room for it to still work, and remarkably, it’s no longer a problem.

Example #3 The water from the bathroom faucet of the Mesa really smelled terrible. It didn’t make sense that the same water coming from the shower or the kitchen smelled just fine. It was just that sink.

This went on for months and was really annoying. We avoided using that faucet at all. Jim tried everything he could think of, even taking the faucet completely apart and cleaning it.

Finally, while perusing an RV site one sleepless night, he read that the clothes washer supply lines, when not in use or properly shut off, can somehow cause this. I still don’t exactly understand the how or why of it. But since he drained those lines and then closed the valves to them it has been fine.

Unfortunately it is not only your own sewer system you have to contend with. When you are in a trailer park you will often find your neighbor’s sewer dump in your front yard. You have no control over how or when they dump their tanks. If they want to do it in the middle of the family reunion you organized at your picnic table that is their prerogative.

They don’t make them like they used to. Our newer 5th wheel, which we love living in, just wasn’t built as sturdy as our old Alpenlite. Like so many things these days, it just wasn’t made to last. There are more durable models still out there but they are way, way out of our price range. There are also many less well made models available.

That brings me to the reason this song came to mind this particular morning and prompted me to finally write this post. On the way from Florida to Missouri one of our rear jacks stopped working. Jim announced that we had sheared a shear pin.

The same thing happened to the other rear jack about this time last year. Jim took that one off, finally located a new shear pin, and rebuilt it. So he knew what was necessary and he wasn’t prepared to tackle that project in the panhandle of Florida.

In order to get us moving again he did have to climb under the slide and remove the jack, which was not a minor project in itself. We’ve been making due with 3 jacks since then and Jim has worked on the jack several times and every time he puts it back together it shears the new pin. He’s finally decided that the jack is slightly bent and we’ve got a new one on the way.

My point is this. Jim is very mechanically inclined. He chooses to do the work himself. He wants to know how everything works so if we are in the middle of nowhere he can handle any situation. And he likes to save money too.

If he had to call for help or take the trailer into the shop every time there was an issue then we would be out some serious dough, occasionally homeless, AND probably dissatisfied with this lifestyle in general.

Where am I?! It is not at all unusual for it to take me a full minute or so to remember what is outside the thin walls of my trailer when I wake up, be it the middle of the night or at dawn. OK, that doesn’t sound like such a horrible dilemma.

But often sleeping in strange places night after night can be a challenge and disorienting. More often than not we are in an RV park, packed in like sardines, where other residents arrive late into the night or leave ridiculously early. Our neighbors are often celebrating their weekend or trying to enjoy their vacation and quiet time does not seem to apply to them. We try to go with the flow in these instances and are grateful that at least we don’t have to get up and punch a clock the next day.

That leads me to my next issue, lack of privacy! As a weekender, this is not a big deal. You’ll go back to your minimum quarter acre, your six inch walls, and your privacy fences on Monday.

However, if this is your whole existence then it is what it is. So if you are trying to enjoy your tiny patch of grass and one of your many neighbors is blasting some godawful music, having a fight with his girlfriend, or even enjoying (hopefully) marital relations on the other side of that 2 inch wall, well there is not much you can do about that. Boondocking is usually a dream, however if you are on public land and someone chooses to park right beside you, you are also out of luck.

Where the H E double hockey sticks is IT? Can your favorite and least favorite thing be the same?! I have a love/hate relationship with the amount of storage in my RV.

We once owned a large home. We also had an office in town with an apartment upstairs in case we didn’t want to drive a whole 30 miles home. And, of course, we had a travel trailer as well.

I swear we once owned a half dozen refrigerators. The only thing I disliked more than taking more perishables home than we needed, was getting home and having to waste gas to make the 10 mile trip back to the nearest grocery store for whatever we couldn’t live without.

I was constantly looking for stuff: tools, clothes, kitchen gadgets, etc. etc! I hated buying things we didn’t need because I couldn’t locate them. Usually as soon as I broke down and replaced an item I had given up on ever seeing again, it would magically appear.

My favorite thing about full time RVing is that practically everything we own is within a 50 foot radius. If it is not inside the trailer, in the truck, or in the basement of the trailer, then it just does not exist in our universe.  You would think keeping track of things in this limited space would be simple. Not!!

There are 44 cabinet doors and drawers in this trailer plus a large underbed storage area. There are plenty of places for us to lose things. Then we have a large basement which is thankfully accessible from both sides of the trailer. More often than not, whatever we are looking for is right in the middle of it and requires us to unload almost everything before we can reach it.

When we first started I was determined to stay organized. I made notes and drew diagrams of where everything in the trailer was stored. I even redid it a couple times. But I finally gave up.

The good news is we have the time to look for things and reorganize our storage areas as often as necessary. And when looking for one thing we often run across something else we forgot we even had. Sometimes we are very happy to see whatever it is and sometimes we realize we must not need it very badly and it joins our donate pile.

That’s all I have to say about that. That was a lot of words but I got it into one post and now I can go back to focusing on the many positives of having a location independent lifestyle. For us, they far outweigh the minor inconveniences and occasional unpleasantness.