Archives For motor home

Who’s with me?

Leigh —  March 14, 2013 — 6 Comments

I love my seventeen year old motor-home. There, I said it.

Say whatever you want about me.  Call me a redneck.  I don’t care because I love my RV.  At night when I’m in it, all snuggled in the bed, I think, “This, right here,  is my happy place.”

OK…so maybe I’m a little defensive about my attachment to our motor-home, but yesterday I had a revelation that some people might find the idea of camping to be revolting.  This newfound enlightenment came in the most likely of places…while folding clothes and watching sitcoms, of course.

I happened to catch a snippet of an episode of The King of Queens.  It was the one where Doug wants to rent an RV for his vacation with Carrie.  As you can imagine, she is way too sophisticated for such a trip.  While she’s going on this rant about why spending a week in Doug’s tenement on wheels would be her own personal hell, I wondered, “Is that how most people see RVing?”

This was news to me.  I figured whenever I talked about camping everyone was extremely jealous of me, but maybe I’ve been wrong all this time.  Perhaps I’m lowbrow, and I didn’t even know it.  After all, if I had to choose between a cross-country camping trip or Paris, I’m going with Doug.  I would choose the RV in a heartbeat.  (DISCLAIMER: I’ve done both.  I’ve traveled to Paris and camped all over our great country.  So this is an informed decision.)

Why go to the Louvre when you can experience the greatest artwork in nature all around you?  And who needs croissants when you can have smores made with Nutella?  I don’t know, maybe I’m alone in all this.  I’m just a simple girl with simple tastes…but right or wrong, I’m afraid I might be raising my kids to feel the same.

You think they would chose touring Notre Dame over fishing…

…or playing in the mud with new friends?

Not likely!

Not that I’m against taking my kids to Paris one day.  I hope to travel the world with them, but I might just wait until they’re older… like when Roark no longer wants to collect souvenir rocks.…or is perfectly content riding this kind of train instead of the Chunnel.For now, we are all perfectly happy to just go camping in the woods with the deer and squirrels.  I am curious to know if I am the only girl out there that feels this way.  Are most people like Carrie Heffernan? Or are you with me and Doug on this?

Our Trip in Pictures

Leigh —  October 8, 2012 — Leave a comment

So I mentioned that we were on the road last week.  Here’s some of our trip in pictures:

Our first stop was Richmond, Virginia.  This is a twelve hour drive from Birmingham, and we decided to just bite the bullet and drive all twelve hours on the first day.  It was a long day, but the kids did great.  They watched movies and played the whole way there.

Months ago when we were making the decision about whether to buy a motor-home vs. a travel trailer, we kept coming back to how much easier it is to ride in the motor-home. With a travel trailer, you can still go camping, but on these long distance trips, you’re still stuck in the car the whole way there.  I knew we’d made the right decision when I microwaved my TV dinner while riding down I-81.  It was pretty awesome.

The kids and I got a little stir crazy at one point.  So we brought out the camera to entertain ourselves for a little while.  Either this is a really strange camera angle or Roark’s head really is the same size as mine. Either one could be true. That kid’s got a big noggin’.

Never to be left out of the fun, here’s one of Edie.  I let the kids use my camera and take pictures of us as well, but I’m not posting any of those.  We’re all a big blur, and I get car sick just looking at them.

We spent several days in Richmond while Ken worked at the Science Museum of Virginia.   The kids and I spent most of our time in Richmond staying close to the campground.  We ventured out a couple of days to see the city and sights, but since there was another little girl who was camping as well, my kids were content to spend the days playing with her.  It’s always a treat to find some other home-schooled kids when we get to a campground.  It’s rare.  So we took full advantage of the kids having a playmate.

One night we even had an impromptu dinner at our campsite with her and her parents. We sat around the campfire, roasting marsh-mellows and talking with our new friends.

For some reason, it never occurred to me to pull out my camera while we were in Richmond…too busy relaxing to be bothered with it, I guess.

After about five days, Ken’s work was done in Richmond.  So we turned the motor-home back towards Birmingham.  We decided to stop off in Gatlinburg, TN on the way home since we were driving right past it.

Gatlinburg was all decorated in pumpkins and scarecrows.  I think all the pumpkin patches within a fifty mile radius of Gatlinburg must be empty because there were a zillion pumpkins on every street.  The city looked beautiful.  Everywhere we turned there was another spot for a photo-op.

I mentioned in an earlier post that we still had clean underwear at this point.  However, maybe my bragging wasn’t quite truthful.  Even though his underwear was clean, Roarkie really didn’t have any “photo worthy” outfits to wear by the time we reached Gatlingburg.  This didn’t really bother me until I started wanting to take his picture with all the pumpkins.  Of course, I’d just spent the week before we left for this trip embroidering fall t-shirts for the kids, but do you think I thought to pack them…no way.  Oh well.  At least Edie looked adorable…unlike Roark who looked like he’d stepped straight out of a campground.

We stopped at all the main sights…including Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen.  Gatlingburg hasn’t change one bit since I was a kid.  It’s funny.  This place is exactly how I remembered it.  Ripley’s, Guinness’ World Records, all the haunted houses, arcades, and salt water taffy.  It was all still there.

And you can’t go to Gatlingburg and not stand around, watching the taffy machines in the window. That’s just part of the experience as well.

We let the kids spend some cash in one of the arcades.  Roark spent most of his tokens on this ride.  He is easily entertained…just make him think he’s driving something, and he’ll be happy.

Edie, on the other hand, chooses her games by their ticket output.  She only wants to play something if it’s going to result in a lot of tickets.  I remember being the same way when I was her age.  In the end, she purchased this lip whistle and pirate necklace with her ticket winnings.

The joy from the pirate necklace was short lived though.  After we left the arcade we rode the sky tram up to Ober Gatlinburg where the necklace broke and the charm fell between some wood slats on a handicap ramp.  She cried.  I felt terrible for her.  So I bought her some more sugar to make her feel better.

While on our trip, Roark invented a new game.  I’m not sure how it started, but the basic gist of the game is to yell out “FIRE HYDRANT” every time you spot one while riding in the car.  Really, he’s the only one that plays.  Edie might occasionally join in, but he never lets a hydrant go by without pointing it out.  He’s a pro at the game.

So when we were walking down the streets of Gatlinburg, just spotting a fire hydrant wouldn’t suffice.  He wanted to touch every one we saw.  On our way back to the car, he asked me to take his picture with this one.  It’s rare this kid stands still long enough for a picture.  So when he actually asks for one to be taken, you do it.

We did a lot of other things as well…campfires, the Museum of the Confederacy, lots of walks, the Science Museum of Virginia.  We had a great time, and I can’t wait for the next time Ken has to work out of town.  I wonder where we’ll get to go next?

 

Back to Normal

Leigh —  October 3, 2012 — Leave a comment

We’ve now been on the road, staying in the motor-home, for eight days.  We’ve roasted marsh-mellows over campfires, visited a couple museums, ridden a sky tram, and spent days relaxing in the outdoors.  It’s been a good eight days.

Our trip started on a whim last week when Ken told me that he was going to Virginia for a week.  I told him that was fine as long as he took us with him.  Lucky us!  He agreed.

We left within 24 hours of that decision.  Not my ideal way to prepare for a trip of that length, but here we are and everyone still has clean underwear.  So I guess I pulled it off.

Tomorrow we come home, and life goes back to normal.

Sometimes normal is over-rated.

Number 12: Go Camping

Leigh —  August 7, 2012 — Leave a comment

It’s official: We’re RVers!  As promised, Ken took us camping as soon as the roof project was completed.  For our first camping adventure we decided not to venture too far away from home.  I was a little worried there might be some unforeseen problems since this would be the first time we’d spent any real time in the motor-home.  Don’t get me wrong.  We’ve spent plenty of time ON TOP of the motor-home or AROUND the motor-home, but never this much time IN it.

The Falls

So Friday afternoon we loaded up and headed out 59N to Noccalula Falls Campground.  We’ve been to Noccalula a couple of times in the past.   It’s a great campground to visit with kids.   In fact, Noccalula Park is a fun place to visit even if you aren’t camping.

We arrived after lunch on Friday.  We just piddled around for awhile.  The kids road their bikes and big wheels while Ken and I sat in lawn chairs and visited with other campers.  For dinner, we decided to take it easy and went to Top of the River where we ate our weight in fried goods.  Edie and Roark have decided that they are now fans of popcorn shrimp and fried dill pickles.  They have very sophisticated palates.

By Saturday morning, we had already experienced two hiccups, but neither were motor-home related…dead battery in the Saturn (our tow car) and an ear ache for Edie.  Both were easily rememdied even though one cost me a $40 co-pay for the doctor to tell me she was perfectly fine to enjoy our weekend.

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Here’s my gang in the park, waiting for the train.

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I told them we could go into the park on one condition: they had to let me take as many pictures of them as I wanted.  They agreed, but I should have specified “good” pictures meaning no funny faces.  I’ll know better next time.

DSCN5982 Roark has never seen a train he didn’t want to ride.  So when it was time to get off, he let us know his disapproval.

DSCN5984He held it together as it pulled away, but just barely.

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The deer served as a good distraction, but the train just goes in a big circle around the park.  Which means everywhere we went, we could either see it or hear it tooting.  So every twenty seconds or so, Roark would ask about getting back on the train.  I know there are going to be things I miss about him being three-years-old, but his one track mind isn’t going to be one of them.

You can ride the train as many times as you want because it’s covered in the admission of the park, but the rest of us didn’t come to just ride the train in circles for two hours.  We had other things to do…

DSCN6000Like feed some goats, for example.

DSCN5997We all got in on it.

DSCN5992And eventually Roark decided it was worth getting off the train.

Inside the park, there is also a pioneer village, a petting zoo, and various other animals to see.  You can hike down to the falls, and maybe when it’s not a furnace outside, it would be a lot of fun.  But none of us thought 352 stairs sounded like a good idea in the sweltering heat, so we just climbed on some rocks instead.

Our next stop was the campground pool, but don’t worry, we did let Roarkie ride that train one last time.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon playing at the pool.  The kids met several new friends to swim with while I visited with other campers.  I really love the camaraderie you find among the people in campgrounds.  Before you’ve even said “hello” you know you have something in common, and everybody wants to talk about it.  They talk about what kind of rig they have and what they had before.  We talk about other campgrounds and trips we’ve made, the good ones and the bad ones, and what we would do differently.  There is a simplicity among being with these people that I love.  All different walks of life, but yet, we can talk for hours.

After the pool, we came back to the motor-home to just relax outside while the kids road their bikes some more.  Yes, it was a very full day.

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Roark’s two favorite things about the motor-home: the jacks and the stairs.  They blow his mind!  He is just amazed that they can go in and out, or up and down.  When he’s at the camper, he talks about them all the time (more of that three-year-old one track mind thing).  Here he is on his big wheel with his “jacks out”.

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I made Edie let me take this picture of her as punishment for hitting me in the head with that green boomerang.  She made even more friends when we got back from the pool.  She entertained them until nightfall with horseshoes and red kool-aid.  She was quite the hostess.

We finished the evening off with hot dogs and catching lightning bugs.  It was an awesome way to spend our first full day camping in the motor-home.

We spent the next morning doing more of the same, talking to other RVers and poking around the campsite.  We did go back down to the park for a little while to feed the geese.

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I just about threw my back out, slipping on some goose poo.  At times, camping is not very glamorous.

Our trip was not without some setbacks, and my sweet husband did come home with several motor-home projects to add to his list.  But that didn’t stop us from having a blast.  I’m convinced that this weekend was only a glimpse of how much fun we are going to have together in this motor-home. And I can’t wait to go again.

We’ve done some pretty crazy remodeling projects in the past. We’ve tackled a kitchen, two bathrooms, built a deck, and remodeled our den complete with new fireplace mantel and built-in shelves.  So when our motor-home needed a new roof, I should have known that my sweet husband was going to talk himself out of paying someone else to do the work.

It really is a trait I love about him because I am super cheap and always looking for the best deal.  In fact, I am way cheaper than even he is.  So the fact that he goes to so much trouble to save us money makes my heart all a-flutter.

Ken spent a week researching our roof options, going back and forth.  Should we do it? It’s a MASSIVE project.  Should we pay someone else to it? It’s a MASSIVE amount of cash. Looking back, I might have weighed in on the decision a little more had I known that I was going to be his right hand man on the job.

Let me back up.  We bought a motor-home in May.  We were all giddy and excited, making big plans.  The kids and I had many discussions about roasting hotdogs and marshmallows and how everybody needed new bikes to go with our new motor-home.

I personally was about to pop I was so excited.  Seriously, picture young, little Lei-Lei on Christmas Eve night, under the covers, eyes wide open.  That was me the week we bought the motor-home.  I didn’t sleep for several nights because I couldn’t believe our luck.

Then Ken went out of town.  And then the kids and I went out of town.  And then Ken went out of town again.  And then I went out of town again.  Basically, someone from our little family was gone over the months of May and June, and there our motor-home sat, all sad and unused.

When we bought the motor-home two months back, we knew it was going to need a little TLC.  Cosmetically and mechanically, it was fine.  Really, better than fine, but there was one glaring problem.  The roof.  So we bought it knowing we would be addressing this issue before our first adventure in campground heaven.

Ken read everything he could find online about rubber roofs.  We spent many nights watching poorly produced youtube videos.  Until finally we came to the conclusion that if  Daryl and his other brother, Daryl, could apply a rubber roof, then so could we.  I mean, we built a deck…FROM SCRATCH, and it’s still standing.  Surely we could do this too.

Weekend One: take off the old roof and remove accessories.

Here is what lies beneath the rubber lining.  Wood?  Who knew?

DSCN5863What you can’t see in this picture is the thick sticky glue covering the wood.  This glue is what held the old roof in place.  I now have an idea of what it feels like to be trapped on fly paper.  The roof was so sticky it would actually pull your shoes off your feet as you tried to take a step.  At first I was very annoyed by the stickiness, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

I get kind of light-headed where heights are concerned.  So obviously, I had some reservations about climbing on top of that motor-home, but with my fanny glued down to any place I sat it, I slowly became more and more comfortable with being up there.  Had we not had life-sized fly paper covering the top, I might have continued to be shaky the entire project.

Weekend Two: Cover the top with new wood.

DSCN5869We just put the new wood on top of the old.  This was a hard day for me because we had removed the attached ladder from the back of the rig.  Ken was very understanding as I made him jump through all kinds of hoops moving ladders to help me up and down from the top.  I only cried once the entire project, and it was on this day.  I really hate heights.

DSCN5871You see the orange ladder in the back?  I climbed that ladder 864, 472 times over the four weekends we worked on this project. Give or take a thousand.  That ladder and I became really close, personal friends.  I think now that the project is over, it’s lonely and misses me because I haven’t climbed it in days. It longs to hear me swear some more and manhandle its legs while I move it from one end of the motor-home to the other.  I did that about 378,206 times.

Weekend Three: Apply the new rubber roof. Here is Ken doing some final prep before we roll out the new roof.

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DSCN5932I know the beauty of this picture is going to be lost on most people, but this one is definitely my favorite of the series.  OUR NEW ROOF!  All glued down and clean.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Weekend Four (Yes, this project took FOUR looonnng weekends): Reattach accessories like roof vents and air conditioners.  I forgot to take pictures on this day, so I’ll share a couple I snapped of the two special men in my life.

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I think Ken should be up for father of the year this year.  He works crazy hard at work to provide for us.  It’s through his hard work that our family is able to afford these kinds of luxuries.  Then he works even more on the weekends getting it ready for us.  He’s a catch.

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And then there’s this guy and his fake smile. Working on this project served as a great reminder of how much I love this stage in my children’s lives.  We were able to work and bring them with us.  This was a freedom I haven’t known since I had kids because they’ve always been too young to stay out of trouble.  But for the first time in a while, I didn’t have to schedule our work around their nap times.  They were with us pretty much the whole time, picking up trash we’d dropped or playing.

And while I’m feeling all sentimental and all, a very big “thank you” goes out to my parents for letting us use their covered parking area.  There is no way we would have been able to do this work ourselves and save all this cash had they not been gracious and let us take over their driveway for a month.

And since the inside of the motor-home will probably not ever be this clean again, we took some pictures of it as well.

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IMG_6955Let the fun begin!