07 Nov

Girl Camper: Episode 109 Favorite Gear of the Year with Jeremy Puglisi

 

On this week’s show I am talking gear with my favorite gear geek, Jeremy Puglisi from the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast. It’s almost comical when Jeremy and I are camping together. Our poor spouses just sit on the sidelines while we compare our wish lists of the latest gear we saw at someone’s site, read about in a trade magazine or happened upon in the camping section of a store we went into to buy motor oil and we are now coveting.

Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi of the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast

This year it seems like I got a lot of new gear and with over 50 nights in the camper so far, it all got a thorough testing. Today I am naming my Top Five Gear additions of the 2017 season and Jeremy is chiming in with his. Warning: Gear Geeks on board – talk may be dangerous to your budget.

Ryobi ONE+ P731 18V Volt Dual Function Cordless Inflating/Deflating Air Compressor, Bare Tool

My Ryobi Air Compressor was a great addition to my tool kit and I used it daily on my National Parks Tour in the summer of 2017. It is lightweight and the lithium battery holds a charge for weeks.  It reads the tire pressure and the can be set to the desired PSI. It has two speeds for airflow.  The lower speed allows it to fill air mattresses and bicycle tires while the higher one allows for filling truck and trailer tires. It comes with adapters to inflate sporting gear and the hoses wrap and pack up tightly for storage. This retails for $39.95 and was the best bargain of the season in gear!

I travel with a Dometic refrigerated cooler that lets me have what I want for lunch, when I want it and best of all, where I want it.

The Dometic Refrigerator/Freezer was a great addition to my summer gear. It can hold 60 12 oz cans and runs on AC/DC, 12V and off of solar panels. It has a USB port built into it and a WIFI app that allows you to raise and lower the temperature remotely. The interior is lighted when you open the lid and it has an adjustable storage bin for flexible use. It can be used as a refrigerator or a freezer. I found it to be very well built with reinforced corners and heavy duty metal hinges. The compressor was very quiet and I used it at home as well as for camping trips. We plugged it in to the 110 in our car although it could have been used off the cars battery as well. We loved having our lunch each day and cold drinks and fruit with us. When we got it back each night we plugged it in on the outside of the trailer and lowered the temperature to add ice from our ice machine to it. This turned out to be a great addition to our camping gear that we also have gotten a lot of use out of at home as well. It is the largest model and retails for $599.00.

 

The Luci Light by MPowered is not only a great way to support under served nations struggling to find solutions to  dirty energy issues but it is a great little light! I wrote an article about it a few weeks ago and find that I am using this product at each camping trip. The light makes a great nightlight in a camper bathroom and you don’t need to turn on the light in the middle of the night. I love using them on the dinner table at night because they allow you to see your food without having to ruin the mood with bright lights. I so love the companies mission that I have taken to giving these at baby showers. I gave it to my nephew for his new baby and his wife loves having it on the changing table where she can turn it on low in the middle of the night for a diaper change. The lights are inflatable, have three light settings and an emergency flashing light as well. The are sold at most retail outlets and are also available at Amazon for the best price.

My new bed linens for the Max trailer were a home run. Beddy’s Beds make this great bed set that makes making the bed in a trailer a piece of cake. The bed set has a bottom sheet built in to the quilted side panels and a matching quilt top zips in place to give you an easy to make and neat and tidy bed. I chose the grey Chevron pattern that is a neutral and I added my own favorite accent pillows and throw blankets. The upper quilt is lined with a soft fabric that acts as the top sheet. The set came with two Queen size pillows shams and two regular pillowcases. I loved having the bed neatly made all the time without all the huffing and puffing and calorie burning !! The set retails for $399.00

My favorite piece of personal gear for the year were the Cabela’s hiking boots that I got before my Yellowstone trip. The Gore-Tex low rise boot dries quickly and has good support. I normally run into trouble with hiking boots over time but these are still comfortable and I didn’t need a big break them in period before hitting the trails. I paid $130 for them but they are on sale now for half price so I ordered another pair for next year. They also have been great running shoes for home.

 

01 Nov

Scout Inflatables: The Scout 365

The Girl Camper Podcast welcomes a new sponsor, Scout Inflatables, makers of the new Scout Inflatables pontoon boat. I had the pleasure of testing out this boat over the weekend and fell in love. I wasn’t really in the market for an inflatable boat but what I did have was an issue transporting my kayak that made me willing to give this a try. 

To be honest I think that row boats are a lot of work. When you think about the physics of row boats, it’s a hull that is partially submerged in water and you are the power source that moves it through the water. About every five years I succumb to the allure of renting a row boat and I am never more than 100 feet from the shore before I remember why I don’t like them!! They’re a lot of fun if you are the person in the bow that is lounging back with a shade umbrella and a festive summer drink while someone else rows you around the lake. That was what I was thinking when I heard “inflatable row boat” but I was heartened when I learned there was an option for a small outboard battery or gasoline powered motor and I decided to give it a try.

Last weekend Stephanie Puglusi, co host with her husband Jeremy of the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast and the producer of the Girl Camper Podcast,  and I,  did a little Girl Camping. We decided to test out the Scout. I was thinking that it would take us about an hour to an hour and a half to take it from box to on the water. It took less than 30 minutes, ten of which were devoted to figuring out the valves for inflating and deflating. Once that was figured out we had the boat in the water fifteen minutes later.

Stephanie inflates to floor mat on the Scout 365.

I inflated the pontoons with my Ryobi Air Compressor to the prescribed 70% and then inserted and inflated the floor piece of the boat. The floor piece gives the boat incredible rigidity. After that was inflated the pontoons get finished off. I finished the pontoons with the foot pump that came with it. It provided more pressure than the battery operated one and was so large that it only required five or six compressions to make the pontoons as hard as any wooden or metal boat.

We attached a set of oar extensions that came with it and then the oars themselves. The oars attach to posts which have a screw on top that prevents them from coming off easily. After the oars were in place we slid the aluminum bench seats in place and set off for the water. The boat has a nice pull handle at the bow and both of the rear pontoons have heavy duty easy grip rubber handles. It was easy to tug across the lawn to the launch site and the bottom of the boat is designed with heavy duty vinyl to allow it to be dragged across rocky beaches without being damaged.

The Scout 365 glides over the water when rowing but also can be paddled kayak style or used with a small battery or gas powered motor.

The flat bottom design makes the boat very stable when getting in and out of it but also, to my delight, makes it incredibly easy to row. Rather than pushing through water, the design allows it to glide over water. I took a turn around the 22 acre lake without breaking a sweat. I began to see a world of possibilities for RVers with this boat.

  • The first big advantage to me is the fact that it is inflatable and fits in a carrying bag that is stored in your RV, backseat or truck bed. That means no towing a trailer or hoisting a heavy kayak above your head onto a roof rack. It also means not having to purchase that additional equipment, maintain it or in NJ, register a trailer with the state and keep current motor vehicle tags on it!
  • I also thought that it gave me everything I love about my kayak but more. I love taking my kayak out in the afternoon to look for water fowl and to just troll the shoreline but that’s all I can really do in it. The Scout offers many more options for use.
  • I like the idea that the boat can hold two people so its a couple or friend activity if you want it to be.
  • It can also carry cargo much easier than the kayak can so if I want to pack a picnic lunch and stop at a shore or island on a lake I can do that.
  • I can also add a motor if I want to go further with it than I would be willing to paddle it.
  • I do like the option of being able to fish from it as well. It does have an optional guard that can be installed to allow standing and casting from the boat.
  • Another option is the duck blind that comes with it that lets you duck hunt, bird watch and use it as a tent for camping when you are done on the water for the day.
  • It is far more stable getting in and out of it than a kayak or canoe and once on the water does not rock like a canoe or kayak.
  • It can be paddled in the same manner as a kayak, rowed like a row boat (only much easier) or used with a motor.

I was so pleasantly surprised by the easy way the boat inflated and deflated that I am already rethinking my camp sites for the coming year. Last year I stayed at a lot of campgrounds with water access and did not take advantage of the opportunities available at them. I am already planning my adventures for next year to include using this boat. I think it will add so much enjoyment to my RV adventures! Stay tuned on this one. I’m going to get the motor!!

 

31 Oct

Girl Camper: Episode 108 Personal Safety for Girl Campers with Holly Boros

My guest today is a returning one, Holly Boros, personal safety expert and NRA Firearms and Safety Instructor. Holly was a guest on the show way back when on episode number 28 where we chatted about some strategies for personal safety in daily life and on the road. We are taking up that subject again today because…as my Mom is fond of saying, “You can’t be too careful.” Often women who travel alone and in groups ask the question of whether it is safe to sleep over night in a rest stop, at a Walmart parking lot or in an obscure place where they are unlikely to be seen. Holly brings her experience as an Army brat, military wife, solo woman traveler and safety expert to the podcast.

Holly Boros solo travels in her own Girl Camper as well as with her husband in their larger family trailer.

Holly discusses personal safety on a daily basis and defines “white alert” – a state of awareness of your surroundings at all times. She shares the posture, attitude and air we should possess when shopping, going to our cars and in our daily errands. She includes safety tips for getting from the store,  back into your car.

  • Have keys out and in hand.
  • Walk to car using the center  of the parking lot aisle.
  • Pass your car and look between your car and the car next to it to make sure no one is there before going to drivers side door.
  • Unlock the drivers side door only with one press of the key fob.
  • Immediately lock the door and drive away.
  • Do not sit in the car and check email or make phone calls.

Holly also shares her tips for resting on the road during long trips, using rest areas, and staying safe while traveling solo.

Save the date!! Waxahachie, Texas!

24 Oct

Girl Camper: Episode 107 Full Timing – Dream v. Reality with Ginny McKinney

On this  weeks show returning guest Ginny McKinney shares the ups and downs of full time RVing. Many people share the dream of one day selling the house and packing up an RV to hit the road full time. Freedom from the cost of home ownership and the work of maintaining a home are two frequently sited reasons for wanting to make an RV your prime residence. Ginny shares her journey and what she liked and disliked about a life lived on the road.

Ginny’s first trailer purchased after her husband Dan passed away.

Ginny writes her own blog called Marshmallow Ranch, is a blogger for the Sisters on the Fly and is a sought after speaker.

When Ginny made the decision to sell the house and full time she upgraded to a larger trailer and tow vehicle.

To listen to Ginny’s interview, click here.

17 Oct

Girl Camper: Episode 106 Simplifying Weekend Get Aways

On this weeks show I am talking about ways to make more use of your RV. You dreamed the dream, you made the purchase but now it seems harder than you thought to use it as often as you hoped. I discovered that weekend get-aways sometimes feel as pressure filled as the big trips. Having the RV packed and ready is only half the battle. Having the right state of mind is key as well. How do you shut the negative loop that starts telling you to “just stay home and relax here this weekend”?

I have a new check list of things to do when the camper rolls in the driveway from the last trip that make the next trip less pressure. In addition to the usual things like emptying the trailer of food, garbage and laundry I have now added these time savers that make the next trip more likely to happen.

When You Get Home

Strip the bed of dirty linens. Even if you don’t wash them until Tuesday or Wednesday, at least they’re in the house and it’s more likely to get done before the weekend.

Stripping the bed as soon as I get home allows me to get the bedding changed during the week and have the bed made up and ready to go before Friday afternoon.

Clean the trailer when you get it home rather than when you are ready to use it again. Getting out there in the middle of a busy work week can feel like a chore and add to the loop that starts playing telling you to just stay home. I now wipe the floors, bathroom and surfaces after I strip the bed. Having it all clean just begs you to repack it and get out.

During The Week 

Think of food differently when planning quick trips. I always have this ideal for camp meals and I want to make them extra special. Ideal meals are a bit of a dream. I think I’d rather sit around the fire with a reheated leftover than be at home with probably the same leftover. Some ways to not overthink the food are to:

Cook an extra large meal during the week and freeze a portion for travel. When you get to the campground on Friday you can unwind with a heated up leftover rather than ramp up and start chopping and dicing.

Freezing a serving or two from a weekday meal makes it easier to get out of Dodge on a Friday afternoon without worrying about what’s for dinner.

If you plan a special meal for Saturday night,  buy the ingredients when you are doing your family shopping. Don’t make anything so special that you need to make a special trip to get ingredients. Freeze it if necessary but get what you want when you are already at the store.

Have a pantry with ‘go to’ meals that don’t require refrigerated food. Tuna casseroles with Ramen noodles make great camp comfort food in a pinch. Beans and Rice. Tomato soup and oyster crackers. White sliced potatoes and hash. Ask yourself if the meal is more important than the location and if the idea of food having to be “special” is stopping you from even going, you may need to rethink the food part.

Ramen

The Night Before

Plug the trailer in so that the refrigerator is nice and cold and you can transfer the food items you need for the weekend to the trailer right before you leave. I cleared a shelf in the home refrigerator and I use it as my stash for trailer sized food. Mini sized condiments and things I like in the trailer and then I don’t have to search for them around the fridge. I put them on the bottom shelf on the door because no one will ever find them there!

I now know keep my RV sized condiments on the lower shelf of my home fridge so I can grab them quickly when I’m packing for a weekend.

Add the clothes items that you need for the trip and put them in the trailer the night before. I use packing cubes which I bring in when I get home and then I can add the clothes I will need during the week as I am watching what the weather forecast looks like. I have coats, rain gear and extra shoes in the trailer all the time so I just need the street clothes for the weekend ahead.

Gas up the tow vehicle. Having to make one less stop on the day of departure is a real stress reliever. It puts you closer to your goal of getting to the campground as soon as possible. Last minute errands on a Friday take longer than the rest of the week because of high traffic volume  and create tension when the goal is to start unwinding.

Having the trailer hitched the night before makes the travel day a lot easier.

Hitch up the trailer the night before if you don’t need the tow vehicle to get to work. If you need your tow vehicle to get to work on Friday, check the tire pressure on all the tires (trailer and tow vehicle) as well as the fluids on your tow vehicle so that on departure day you only have to hook up and check the lights and hitch connections.

Camp close to home so that you are not overwhelmed by the traffic, tolls and hours in the car. The goal is to get to your happy place. A site in the woods 25 miles from home offers the same benefits as one 100 miles or more away.

One of my “go to” campgrounds close to home for a weekend get away is Camp Taylor Campground in Columbia, New Jersey.

Making the most use of your trailer can mean spreading out the tasks over the course of the week. If you pull it off you can find yourself sitting around a campfire on Friday nights instead of ordering a pizza and spending the night at home paying bills or organizing your sock drawer!