16 Jan

Tire Tools and Safety Tips

On this weeks mini podcast I am sharing the tools I keep in my tire safety and maintenance bag.  Tire failure is one of the leading causes of RV accidents and it is a preventable one. I am also providing the links from my “go to” safety guru Mark Polk’s articles on tires and tire maintenance. Mark is an industry expert with hundreds of YouTube videos and articles on all things RV’s. I have read and shared these articles more times that I can say. Here is the link. 

Using a piece of chalk is a great way to highlight the small print on a tire. Remember that the number on the tire is the maximum PSI that the tire manufacturer recommends for that tire and is not the number you have to inflate your tire to. Look inside the drivers door for the tow vehicle manufacturers recommendation for that particular vehicle.

My Tire Tool Kit 

The Tekton 5941 Digital Tire Gauge. I have had several tire gauges over the years and this is one that I have used and liked. It has a four star rating out of over 4,800 reviews. It costs under $12 on Amazon and has been a great little tool with a built in light to be able to read the dial at night.

Rhino USA Heavy Duty Tire Gauge. I also have used and really like this   old fashioned analog gauge that has a large and easy to read dial. It is American made with heavy gauge copper and a woven covered hose. It has a a five star rating of over 500 reviews and retails for about $20.00. When I have used this and tested the readings over and over I get the same reading. That has not always been the case with other gauges. This is actually my favorite gauge.

Ryobi P731 One Dual Function Power Inflator/Deflator 18Volt     

Once you have determined that you need air you will need a way to get air without driving to the service station. You need to check the tires before you drive anywhere and then need to put air in them. I bought this Lithium battery operated tire inflator and deflator. It has several attachments for balls, bike tires and inflatable rafts,  beds and pool toys. It also has a built in tire gauge that takes a reading and then lets you press inflate. It automatically shuts off when you reach the desired PSI. The lithium battery holds a charge for a very long time and at $40 I thought it was a great value. It had a 4.2 rating for 565 reviews.

Mark Polk’s articles in the links above will help you determine what your desired tire pressure is. Keeping those numbers in your phone or a handy place where you can get at them when needed is important. It is also important that you take these readings the first thing in the morning before you drive anywhere. Forming good safety habits can make your travel not only safe but more enjoyable.

Click on the arrow to listen to the podcast.

 

09 Jan

Girl Camper: My Favorite Cold Weather Hot Drinks

Oh the weather outside is frightful and I’m breaking out my favorite cold weather, hot drinks! I love spring and fall camping when it’s still chilly and a warm drink around the campfire is a necessity. During our last snowstorm had a few days at home to rank our very favorites between episodes of shoveling! Here they are!

The Classic Hot Toddy! 

Fresh squeezed  lemon juice

Honey Whiskey

Heaping tablespoon of honey

Tea Bag optional

My recipe is with boiling water, a heaping tablespoon of local honey, 1/3 of a lemon squeezed in the mug and a dose of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey. Some people use a tea bag of their favorite blend. When we were kids and suffering from sore throats my mom made this with the tiniest bit of whiskey and a pat of butter floating on top!

Hot Milk and Honey with Orange

Organic Whole Milk

Local Honey

Orange Slices

Optional Brandy

Heat Milk in the microwave or on the stovetop and add honey and a squeeze of fresh orange. Preheat the mug by filling it with hot water and letting it sit while the milk and honey warm. Dump the water and add it to the mug. You can float an orange slice and add a splash of brandy too. I like to stir mine with a honey spoon!

S’mores Hot Chocolate and Kahlua

Store bought instant hot chocolate

Chocolate syrup

Graham crackers (crushed)

Miniature marshmallows (toasted)

Kahlua or coffee liquore

Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray it with non stick spray. Make little piles of marshmallows and put them under the broiler for a few minutes. Watch them closely. Pour some chocolate syrup in a saucer and dip the mug rim in the chocolate and then in the crushed graham crackers. Make the instant hot chocolate with organic milk and add a dash of coffee liquor. Place the toasted marshmallow on top and drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle the crushed graham crackers on top of that!

Hot Milk with Cinnamon and Sugar

Whole Organic Milk

Cinnamon

Sugar

Whipped Cream

Cinnamon stick

Optional Brandy

Warm the milk in the microwave in a large measuring cup and then add two teaspoons of sugar and cinnamon powder to taste. If you add the cinnamon to the cold milk it clumps and floats to the top. Stir into warm milk until it’s dissolved. Pour in mug, add whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

 

02 Jan

Buying Gear – Tuesday Tip

The off season is a great time to do some gear analysis, gear upgrades and gear replacements. Here’s my system:

  • The first thing that I do is check all of my equipment for irreparable damage and determine if it has met its life expectancy. Even the best made equipment will eventually need replacement and I try to do that before the fail actually happens. This year I am replacing my grill grate which is twelve years old.
  • The next thing I do is make a list of things that I actually need and are essential to camping. Things that keep me warm, that I use to cook with or to stay dry and then there is the, “I just want it” list of things! For me an “I just want it” thing is the table top heater. There are quite a few manufacturers and a bit of a price range. There is one at Ace Hardware that I like and I am toying with buying this. It is definitely a non essential item!!
  • After I get my essential and non essential list I start by surfing the web. The first thing I do when I have an item I want is to crowd source. I get online and start asking the members of RV groups if anyone has the particular piece of equipment I want or if they can make a recommendation. I get valuable information about cost, ease of use, packability, quality, and value from actual users. I then go on and read reviews from seller sites.
  • When I get the feedback that I need and make the decision to buy I start price shopping the Internet and looking for coupon codes, sales and the best price including shipping. The online groups are a good source for this information as well. Because I am shopping in the off season I can be patient.
  • It’s also a good idea to call the outfitting stores that sell it and ask if and when it will be on sale. Everything to do with cooking outdoors is always on sale in June for Father’s Day.

When buying used:

  • Shop Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Repurpose Stores.
  • Another resource is the spring time surplus of Church bazaars, garage sales and flea markets.
  • If you don’t see what you are looking for, place an ad “in search of” the equipment you are looking for. Many people read these and their “junk” could be your treasure.
  • When you find used equipment make sure to thoroughly examine it. Unlike a store it is understood that when you buy something used, there is a “no return” policy.

Buying used is a good opportunity to purchase something at a significantly lower price than retail. With camping supplies you are purchasing something for intermittent recreational use. Not having to make a big investment in something you may not use often is a great way to build your gear and keep extra money in your pocket to get outdoors!

30 Dec

Girl Camper: Episode 116 Top Picks from 2017

To listen to the podcast associated with this blog, click on the arrow below.

On this week’s show I am exercising that end of the year nostalgia and sentimentality and reviewing my favorite campgrounds and spots of my 2017 travels. This year I spent over 60 nights in my trailer, traveled over 10K miles and stayed in more than thirty different campgrounds. Along the way there were highs and lows and today I am sharing the highs along with some moments that I will savor for a long time after the year has passed.

FAVORITE CAMPGROUNDS OF 2017

A side stop near the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park

One of my favorite campgrounds I visited this year was the one at Custer State Park. I stayed at the Blue Bell Campground there but it was not just the campground but the whole park that I loved.  I vowed to visit again and stay in one of the five beautiful lodges they have at the beautiful state park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. They have one lodge that is open during the winter and the park can be used for snow shoeing, cross country skiing and the wildlife loops are open to see the animals in winter.

Blue Bell Campground at Custer State Park

Sandy Pines Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine is a new campground that was founded by former hoteliers who applied their customer centered hospitality to the campground business. Every inch of the campground is manicured and pristine. The glamping tents are in an enclave that feels like it’s iwn little canvas village. They have a communal fire pit which is lit by an employee each night. The RV sites are level and narrow but quite long. The bathrooms are all brand new and spotlessly clean. Sandy Pines is situated on the salt marshes and a short drive to the beach and town of Kennebunkport. I enjoyed my trip there so much I plan to make it an annual pilgrimage.

The glamping tents at Sandy Pines Campground

The Luray KOA Campground in Luray, Virginia is at the base of the Shenandoah National Park. It’s a quiet little campground with beautiful views, sweeping lawns and VIP sites with large concrete pads, stone fire pits and Adirondack chairs. I particularly enjoyed the ping pong table available on the lawn for guests.

The beautiful views at the Luray KOA made stargazing and sunsets so enjoyable.

FAVORITE PLACES OF 2017

Glacier National Parks Going to the Sun Road was my absolute favorite stop of the year. It’s long been on my list and although I could only spend a few days at Glacier I knew I wanted to make the drive that tops so many tourist lists of must see places. I wrote a blog about it for Go RVing.

Going To The Sun Road

The cowboy town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a quintessential tourist town without the tacky souvenir shops. Its situated around a town square park with arched entrances on all four corners constructed of elk antlers. Every tourist is compelled to stop and take their photo there.  A favorite stop is the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar where you can literally saddle up to the bar on bar stools with Western Cowboy saddles on them. The town is full of art galleries, restaurants and shops. I loved all the galleries and the Pendleton Shop. In addition to being a great town it is surrounded by the best fly fishing in Wyoming . It’s fifty miles from Teton National Park with river rafting, kayaking, hiking and mountain climbing.

The Jackson Hole Wyoming arches.

Mount Rushmore was a place I felt I had to at least stop at and hit tag.  I had no real burning desire to see it but couldn’t pass it up when I was so nearby. It turned out to be one of my favorite places. I went in the early evening when they put on a beautiful and patriotic evening lighting ceremony. I loved learning more about the men who are carved in stone but also about the construction of the monument.  At the end of the presentation the lights are ceremoniously lit to illuminate the trailblazers memorialized above and all of the tourists stood for the national anthem. After that the veterans in the audience were asked to stand and be acknowledged and thanked for their service. In the current political environment it felt good to be united in respect for those who served.

Mt. Rushmore

19 Dec

Girl Camper: Episode 115 Top Picks from the Louisville Show

On today’s show I am talking bout my top picks from the big RVIA show in Louisville. Each year the RV industry gathers the week after Thanksgiving and all of the manufacturers show off their new products to RV dealers, suppliers and the press.  This is one of the places that RV dealers go to choose the trailers the will be on their showroom floors next spring and the RV industry is changing to meet the demands of the new consumers out there. They are still building Class A buses and large travel trailers and fifth wheels for the empty nesters and families to enjoy but they are also building off road adventure vehicles, compact vans and sleek, smartly designed lightweight travel trailers for a new generation of RVers. Today I am talking  about my favorite new innovators, designers and visionaries making waves in the RV world.

The Tiger Moth by Taxa is an outdoor adventure vehicle that was designed by Garrett Fennley a former engineer from NASA that worked on the International Space Station. He applies the small space solutions for space travel to the Taxa brand models. The Tiger Moth weighs only 900 pounds and can be towed by almost anything on the road. It sits 12″ off the ground and can be used off the grid for 5-7 days at a time. Some of the available options are a two man roof tent, screen room and Thule roof carrier. It retails for between 12K-15K depending on options.

The Luna trailer by Intech is another lightweight trailer making a mark in the RV world. The Luna weighs in at 1800#’s and has an overall length of 14′. The box is 6′ wide with the wheels sitting outside for an overall width of 7′. It has a clamshell kitchen with ample counter space but limited storage. The interior is versatile with movable cushions for visiting, reading, and television watching. The large front window is positioned over a storage bench with a built in table and storage below. There are two beehive doors and large windows with a 40″ television. There are also two nice sized storage compartments in the floor of the trailer.

The final of the three trailers I chose for innovation in design is the No Bo by Forest River. No Bo is short for No Boundries. This trailer has immediate eye appeal. It weighs in at 1570#’s and has a Cargo Carrying Capacity of 2,992 lbs. I also has a fresh water tank capacity of 30 gallons, step up wheel covers for access to the roof racks, two sided awning and a rear side door or optional ramp. The interior provides flexible configurations and the option of a dining table that is hidden in the floor when not in use.

The No Bo trailer by Forest River. (Photo Courtesy of Hi Way Campers)

In other news the Florida RV Show is taking place January 17-21 and I will be there with Chris Baum of Liberty Outdoors and we will be showing off the Max trailer at Como RV in booth #335. All are welcome to stop by and join the fun. Tampa, Florida is a great place to be in January!! Reach out via Facebook Messenger or Instagram to check our schedules or follow along as we show off what’s new at Liberty!!