At first I thought I would be writing my blog for my family and close friends, but now I realize I am writing it more to share our journeys, our motorhome modifications and our camping places. Most of my followers are either RVers or my Fiber Friends whom I have met around the country. I hope that you find the pages helpful, if not a tad a bit entertaining?
Yes, we are still frozen and cold and stuck in Wisconsin on a dreary January day. After that wonderful Packer playoff win over Atlanta last night, we are cheered on a bit by something to keep us occupied until our departure date for escaping to warmer temps. The playoffs will be front and center until the Super Bowl in early February.
We have a few obligations in February that we need to handle, between working, business, meetings, doc appts. and taking care of granddaughter Chelsea and the two rat dog chihuahuas while her parents run away for a week on the beach in Mexico! Once those things are all done, Steve is able to take a big chunk of his vacation, and we are going to hop in and GO!
My list is growing of things to prepare for our 7 week trip,
so I don't forget anything. It goes like this:
call credit card companies and debit card to notify we are traveling to other states
This is done so they are aware of our traveling mode, otherwise they deny out of ordinary charges and call us to verify any charges made that are unusual to our account and normal spending habits and locations.
split up credit cards between us
We normally each carry the same cards from 2 credit card companies (and our debit cards which we barely use anymore) If, when traveling, by chance one of us were to get our wallet stolen, that would make ALL our cards worthless if we had to report one of our wallets stolen. By splitting them up, we would be ensured of at least having one card still usable while waiting for a replacement of the other card. Example, he takes an American Express and I take the Master Card so we are not both having the same cards in our wallets. I read about an RV couple who had that happen and had to have family wire them $500 to get enough gas to get home. Most credit card companies will only mail a replacement card to the home address too. Hard to get one mailed to you if you are on the road.
Another good hint is to take all your credit cards, driver license, insurance card and club cards and lay them on a photo copy machine. Take a scan of the fronts of all your cards, then flip them over and take a scan of the backs. Then you have all the phone numbers, acct. numbers and correct names and spellings needed to report a problem or a loss. Keep the photocopy in a safe place too.
We will stop our mail while we are gone, but have Erin pick it up every week or so at the post office and look it over for us. We live rurally by a tiny town and they said it was fine for her to pick it up. The post office will only hold it for 30 days by policy, so after our 4th week she will submit a new hold card for us that we can sign ahead of time. Most of our bills are paid online, but in case something else were to come along, she will be able to open it up and tell us what it is. She and Mark will also be checking at the house and the neighbors shoveling the snow and keeping a close eye on the house.
(like I said in a past post, anything of value will be with us,
so robbers and thieves,
don't bother breaking into our house)
get a gift card for heathers birthday
Yes, we will be gone for our daughter's birthday in March. So we are going to give her a gift card and tell her to go shopping. She can email us photos of what she chooses to buy for herself. If we were to buy her a present now, she would not be able to wait to open it, I know she would peek!
update our Flying J card
We just got an email from Pilot/Flying J that their RV Real Value Club has changed to a new program. It's now called the Frequent Fueler Advantage. Although we don't use them that much here in Wisconsin, because we don't have any Flying J's or Pilots around here. They said we can update our present card status into the new program: Already have a Frequent Fueler, RV Real Value Club, or Driver Payback card? No need to get a new card! Register your card today at www.frequentfueleradvantage.
- Pump Start: Ability to start pumps without having to prepay
- Special offers on retail and restaurant items
- Automatically enrolled in our Coffee Club: buy 5 hot beverages and the 6th is on us!
- Bonus Points after registration is complete (for Professional Drivers only)
Now earn shower credits! 1/2 credit on every 14-49 gallon gas or diesel purchase and earn points on diesel fuel purchased. Instant fuel discounts (gas, diesel & propane) & discounts on dumping fees
print up RV Calling Cards
We have met RVers in campgrounds who have handed us their RV Calling Cards.... so I made up some on my Microsoft Publisher and will print them out and cut them up this week. On the back I will print our FMCA and Good Sam membership numbers. Nice way to keep in touch with folks you meet out and about, and refer back to their email address, cell phone or names. One couple featured their pet's names too, so I added ours. I did two designs, these two images are just a screen capture of the layout, and the printed final card with be clear and sharp. Let me know which one you like better?
now for the next part of the list.....
extra speakers for ipod/mp3 player
I already own two sets of these neat little speakers, but I took the motorhome set into the house for my studio and have to remember to bring them back out again. You can plug in an Ipod, Iphone or mp3 player and they work quite well. Not a loud volume speaker, but nice for quiet soft music in the background without using electricity. Great for boondocking.
batteries from drawer in house
We never have enough batteries along... AA, AAA and big D cells. So I will clean out the stash in the house and pack them along in the motorhome. It's Murphy's Law that whatever flashlight is dying, you never have the right batteries to reload it! LOL
Lila and I plan to get some beading done when we meet up with her and Roger somewhere along the way... she does wonderful beading and I need some new ideas too. Beads are such a nice small portable craft to take along in the RV, as is my knitting by hand on needles. I also plan to take along the antique sockknitting machine, but not so sure if I will take a table loom or the spinning wheel. Still thinking about that. We will be so busy seeing stuff, not sure how much time I will to play with the bigger fiber toys.
swapping out the pressure cookers
We use a pressure cooker a lot for cooking on the stovetop (not a big canning pressure cooker, but a smaller kettle style with a rocker weight for pressure regulation) I even do steamed rice in a pressure cooker by setting raw rice and water in a metal bowl and putting the bowl inside the cooker with an inch of water. 7 minutes later you have perfect rice! The one in the motorhome is fine for the two of us, but the one in our house is a bit bigger. In case of those impromptu pot lucks or gatherings, I think it would be nicer to have the larger one along. So I think I will swap them out for the trip. We LOVE the tender way it cooks meat fast, like turkey breast, tenderloin tips or lastly, BBQ ribs - which we don't have that often any more due to high fat. But it makes them fall apart tender and we add a bit of BBQ sauce and set them under a broiler or on a campfire to *brown up* a bit.
dog brushing tools and nail clippers
Being gone 7 weeks will mean those silly doggers still need to get brushed and groomed while on the road
membership cards for camping clubs and discount cards for RVing
I gathered all of our cards and put them all in one handy folder.... all of the cards for Passport America, Good Sam, FMCA and Camping World and our AARP cards. We also added the card for our insurance agent, hopefully not having to use it.
call our insurance agent to double check our policy. (done last week)
Our good friends Sharon and Fred went through a horrendous battle with their insurance company after the wreck of their fiver and truck, we don't want to run into some of the troubles they did. We doublechecked on things like towing...
is it only for a wreck or is it for roadside assistance?
does it only pay a set amount?
does it pay only to get towed to the first place?
what if they can't fix it or it's after hours and nobody knows if they can fix it till they open two days later?
who pays for the second tow to the next place?
what if diesel fuel leaked all over in the case of a crash? who pays the HUGE cleanup fees being imposed in some areas for hazardous waste (which can run well over $5,000 in a single crash and some insurances won't pay for it)
We got all of our questions answered and have updated our list of personal items as well as normally kept items in the motorhome. We carry an extra rider for those possessions, because most RV policies only cover $500 worth of personal items. In the event of a loss, you either have to eat it or prove those items were from your home that you brought along and hopefully your homeowners policy will cover some of them. Whew!
bottles of wine
Steveio is bringing along some of his stash of homemade raspberry wine for our special RVing folks we run into on the way.... and I am bringing some of my Michigan Wild Blueberry Jam!
Very important to take these along, not only if we decide to hop down into Mexico for a day or two, but also we read on Al's blog that sometimes there are checkpoint stops in some of the southern states and showing a passport is good proof that you are a US citizen. Though neither of us look very Hispanic, it's nice to have them along!
I am getting all of my prescriptions refilled for 3 months worth so we don't run short. Avoids the hassle of trying to refill while on the road. We don't use a major chain, we use our small town pharmacy at our local tiny hospital for most of our refills. They have to pre-approve with the insurance company to get some of the prescriptions filled ahead of time, citing "7 week vacation" as a reason for the earlier refill. Some of my drugs are from Walgreens Mail Order. Last time we were on vacation, we thought we could just stop in a regular Walgreens store and get them filled at the counter. Nope... those are two separate entities and not transferrable between the two systems of Walgreens. So we had to call the doc office, get them to call in a new one to the physical store, which we had to pay for IN FULL PRICE because the insurance would not cover duplicate prescriptions. This took over 2 hours of sitting in a sweltering hot parking lot with the generator running to keep the motorhome cool with the AC units We were later told if we reported the first prescription damaged or lost, we could have had a refill without paying the full cost. Oh well, we were honest and had to pay the big bucks.
water jugs in basement
we often take along 2 big five gallon water jugs of our well water from home that our dogs are used to. We can use these for the dogs drinking water when on the road. Our collie Dumb Ducky has a sensitive stomach and tends to end up with diarrhea on her hindquarters from any changes to diet or water. We can also buy bottled water in big jugs too if we run short. Long haired dog butts are not pretty if the dog is sick. Even with the outside shower unit, that is still a wet doggie butt in the rig stinking like "wet dog" as we travel. Not fun. Been there, done that. We have along their shot records and rabies tags on the collars. Their collars also have tags on with our cell phone number in case they were to ever wander off. We always planned to get them microchipped, but never made it to Petco on the clinic days where they had it being done. Might do that before we leave, which entails a 70 mile round trip to the nearest Petco to have it done.
I have a couple large rolling suitcases that I will pack up with some of my most popular handwoven rugs, towels and knit socks for selling along the way. Many times folks wonder about my crazy contraptions if we are set up in a campground and I am weaving or knitting or spinning under the awning. Having a stash of pre-priced and finished items available for impromptu sales is an added bonus. The sales add to the traveling budget! I have business cards and brochures along too. I can also ship out if any of the items are sold from my online Etsy store http://kareninthewoods.etsy.com/ People pay me via PayPal, and I ship them out from the nearest post office when traveling. I am also taking along a stash of yarns for knitting which are easily shrunk down in those wonderful Space Bags. I LOVE those things! I can stack a lot of yarn or fiber in a small space using those bags. We have a vacuum cleaner with a hose to reshrink any bags if I take some out.
backup drive unit for my laptop
I am kinda debating on this one.... I will do a complete backup right before we leave, but should I leave my backup drive at home where it's safe, or should I bring it along in case of a computer crash to restore my laptop while on the road?
small dvd player and dvd movies from in the house
Our present DVD player/recorder deck unit in the motorhome is an older model and more *sensitive* to playing back certain brands of home recorded dvds. Some it will play and some it won't. Same with it's recording feature, it will burn a DVD of home made video content, but only on certain brands of blank DVDs. Sometimes I like to copy video that we film on trips, day by day, right onto a burnable DVD blank so I can clear the video camera's SD disc each time to film again. That is why we have a player/recorder unit in the motorhome. We have a lot of purchased and copied entertainment movies that we found will not play back on that particular player. So I think I will bring along the unit from the house that is a small player only, and hook that up if need be. The small one is newer and seems to play anything. We will probably be out in the boonies a lot and possibly out of digital tv station range. This way we can pop in a movie on a dreary day or a long rainy night with no campfire going. Without having satellite for tv (we really don't watch that much) we can at least pop in a DVD to watch if we want.
fleece pelt for Ducky to lay on
Dumb Ducky who is now ten years old, has been laying on a big sheep fleece pelt at home from time to time for her aching joints on damp or humid days. So we will have to remember to toss one in the motorhome for her to get comfy on. Other days she rams around like a young puppy, so who knows. She just may be a spoiled princess? All Duke needs along is his frisbee and some doggie biscuits and he is happy. Of course, also their leashes for walks. We added these to their flexi leashes.....
postage stamps for postcards
I have to pick up a few pages of postcard stamps, to send cute postcards home to the grandkids as we travel. We will also visit with the grandkids via Skype on the webcams too, but only when we find some wifi somewhere. The Skype uses up a LOT of bandwidth on my 5gb limit aircard, so to conserve, we will just locate hotspots here and there to do our special visits.
Tomorrow Steveio is going to locate the macerator hose he wants and get that all configured and stowed in a tote underneath that is labeled just for black water drainage use. We have a variety of totes, each labeled as to the contents so it makes it easier to sort and find things in the basement compartments. I did a previous blog post on our basement organization if you would like to see it at:
Don't worry, we are still below our CCC capacity on the things we are loading up..... The only other things are more clothes and food, and we are good to go! Toss in the laptops, the cameras, the router, antenna and aircard.... hook up the Tracker toad and hit the road=================
Now, if you think I am over-planning ... well you should see what Steveio is trying to add to my list! He wants an extra rebuilt alternator, extra RV water pump, extra sensors and belts and hoses and gosh knows what else along. He figures if you DO have the parts on board, then the item you are preparing for will NEVER break down. It's Murphy's Law!
Yesterday we had a wonderful time at our daughter Erin's house... it was the family party for little Chelsea, the youngest of our three grandchildren. All the kids were there, and we had a wonderful time. She chowed down on the birthday cake and was delighted with all her new toys....
Cake made of cupcakes in the shape of a number 1 Handmade crocheted bee toy by Auntie Heather
Jameson wants the CAKE! All the cousins came, and so did Great Grandma!
Cousin Jameson giving her a Birthday Kiss Cousin Allegra came to PARTY!
Sooo Where is this CAKE thing? In no time at all, she got into the cake-eating-routine.
"Thank you for coming to my Birthday Party!"