Tag Archive | camping

A Day in the Life of a Full-Time RVer

There is never a dull moment when living full-time in Gypsy.

If you miss taking the trash off by one bag  (to the local campground dumpster), you then have two bags, three bags….. and/or the list goes on until you finally decide it’s too much to do the convenient thing and head to the campground dumpster so you do the nice thing instead and head to the dump. Good. Very good.

Except ‘dump’ day ends up being on a holiday, as you so conveniently have forgotten. Drats!

But that’s not all. As stated before in some other post, making a house a home requires some things that are just plain useless but happens to give a sense of happiness and fulfillment when looked at or touched. Oh dear! That does include the ‘greenhouse’ that lives out in the front yard, the rainforest full of tropical foliage, overseen by Matilda, the pink flamingo, who’s beauty is probably seen only by me. Oh well. Still, it’s good. Very good.

Then there’s the over-abundance of clothes which are in all different sizes so as to accommodate the big span of weight difference that varies, sometimes significantly from day to day. So we’re keeping the biggest clothes and the rest are being sorted in various boxes to be donated whenever. Dump day sounds good.

Then there’s the camper toilet. If there’s one thing that needs to be maintained in a camper, it’s the toilet (most especially the grey and black water tanks). Any questions or problems are answered by YouTube, complete with demonstrations. No problem. None at all – until you find out there’s something that you should or should not have done and it should have started a year ago when the Gypsy first started being a home. Oh, good grief! Talk about live and learn! Chalk up another notch in the belt.

Thank goodness for the knowledge of the electric cord and the breaker switch – otherwise, this last hook-up might have turned sweet Gypsy into cinders. There’s nothing quite like the sounds of ‘snap, crackle and pop’ when you plug in the cord, all before you even turn the breaker on! That’s what you call being on your toes. Easy fix though – plug the 30 amp electric plug into a 50 amp converter and it runs as smooth as flowing water. Chalk another one up for the belt.

One thing that’s not good but not strong enough to do anymore is lower the stabilizers. Four of them. Oh yea, they’re total manual, as in a lot of elbow grease. There is zero energy to turn the hand crank to get it done. It’s been mentioned to get a whatever it’s called and do it mechanically but it will void the warranty. However, with things the way they are, it might be useful to have that tool on board, just in case. Otherwise, everything is cool and we’ve been completely safe.

The smoke detector does not like cooking and proceeds to let everyone in the general vicinity know on a pretty regular basis by yelling – loudly. Repeatedly. Makes me wonder what’s wrong with Gypsy’s smoke detector because we don’t hear anyone else’s smoke detector going off. That’s just the cooking part. Wait until it tells you it’s time for a new battery. Peace and quiet then, all of a sudden, you’re about to make a new door through the roof! Battery changed. Mission accomplished.

Even the carbon monoxide detector has to put its two cents worth in every now and again. If that’s not a royal pain in the butt, I don’t know what is. Get on the floor with a lighter and see what happens. Good grief! Nothing happens. The flame doesn’t blow out and we’re not dead. There are candles and incense burned inside and no problems yet. Think it’s just testing itself for something to that effect but don’t know that for sure. Maybe it is something but so far, everything and everyone is alive and well.

Many, many things to learn while living and traveling in Gypsy but the one that takes the cake is the one that happened today.

The a/c. As in quit. Stopped. Kaput. Died. No juice. None. Oh NO! Not only is it hotter than hades here, the humidity is higher than the temperature a lot of the time. Here come the tears as the sweat begins to poor. Weird thing is I’d been reading about the RV a/c online today, about how to maintain it, what to do when there’s condensation, how the heat AND humidity affect the unit, among other things I found to add to the knowledge bank.

Then it died. Dead and not working and would not come on; the coming dread of being stuck inside a hot box with no a/c was quickly overpowering. Calm down, you can do this because you are no dummy. Okay. No Problem. Since the pep talk was working, I pulled up the instructions I already had, briefly read the Greek, then went and turned the whole unit off. Probably blew a fuse was the thought, at least that’s what the most hopeful thought was. Dead, as in graveyard dead, did not fit into this thought process. Grabbed the mag light (a.k.a. the lethal weapon) and hit the floor in front of the fridge. Why do you always have to get on the floor to fix something? Anyway, pulled away the fuse panel cover and looked around. Hmmm…. this was interesting. It wasn’t one of those little fuses you pull out and replace with one of the 20 extras you already have. No, it was like a regular fuse in a regular house, all neatly marked and organized, thank you very much. Flipped the switch for the a/c then flipped it back. That one didn’t blow. Good news. Then there was the Master switch. Flipped that one off and back on. Wasn’t that. Things weren’t looking too promising at that point. Then I noticed this ‘thing’ above the Master switch. Pushed it and it stayed in. So I pushed it again and it stayed out. Pushed it back in again and stood up. Have to try it and see if I’m even close to being on the right track. Either it’s going to work or it won’t. Turned the thermostat back on to low a/c and voila, a/c came on! It must have gone into overload mode and the safety switch popped it off. The ‘hot box’ was steamy within five minutes after the a/c quit but is now cooling the air nicely. First time there’s been a goose bump all day.

Another notch in the belt.

A lot of ladies I know would never do this, travel or live in a camper and go thousands of miles away because they don’t think they can do it.

Yes, they can. Yes, you can. It only takes one time and you can pep talk yourself into anything you think you can’t do.

You learn by the predicaments you get yourself into and by figuring how to get out of them. You store away every little bit of knowledge that YOU experience and rely on that in the future. You ask for help when you are really in a jam and someone will be right there to help you. (Believe me, I would have searched the world over (actually, the campground) for Ron if the a/c did not come back on and he would have helped)! Most fear failure – the only failure there is will be if you don’t try something outside of your boundaries and comfort zone, especially if you want to badly. It doesn’t have to be camping – it can be anything you want it to be.

Just believe in yourself. You’re smarter than you think you are and a lot smarter than most people think.

On a personal note, there are many legitimate fears in my life that will never be conquered before I leave this life, and I don’t want to waste any more precious time trying to beat those fears when I can do the one thing that doesn’t cause me fear. Gypsy. Towing Gypsy. Living in Gypsy. Traveling in Gypsy, Miss Ellie and Hershey, the Wonder Dog. She’s home, no matter where we are. It’s a great feeling to hook her up and set off to some far off place with no specific plan in sight. The feeling that brings trump any and all ‘real’ fears.





Camping Friends






Campers like to eat

There are many reasons people camp and although I’ve never ‘interviewed’ anyone, per se, I’ve listened to enough stories over the years to find there are lots of viable reasons for primitive camping and/or hauling a travel trailer/motor home.

By far, the number one reason for any type of camping is the freedom involved and the sense of peace that comes from that freedom. Whether you’re pulling into a campsite or have everything in a pack on your back as you walk in the woods to that special place, nothing else could possibly give someone that sense of melding with nature, letting that feeling roll not only over you but inside of you. I’ll admit that even in a campground with others around, that same sense of peace is still there, knowing all you have to do is walk out the door and be in a world that’s quite different from the norm.

Years ago, when my kiddo was a young son and I was a single mom, we lived in the beautiful mountains. Camping was our weekend excursions. Every weekend. The truck was always ready with the necessities and all we needed on Friday afternoon was to pack a bathing suit, some food and be on our way to wherever we decided to go. It always involved hiking on the hilly terrain and hours in the lakes. We’d spend a lot of time walking around the campgrounds, talking to different folks, enjoying their stories, meeting the campground host or hostess or both, watching the local wildlife making their way around and watched our step for snakes. Yea, there’s a story or two or ten about snakes. Regardless, we looked forward each year to our first weekend back in the woods after winter. So many different people and it was all so interesting.

Years later, I advanced to a camper, an Airstream to be specific. She was set up on a lot and my learning experience on how to live small. After a couple of years of that, I invested in Gypsy ~ The Cherokee and decided she would take me around to unknown places far and wide.

Well, she has and it’s been a blast. I’ve seen things I’ve only dreamed of or seen pictures of or watched documentaries of. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I could change landscapes from one day to the next and see all of this with my own eyes.

A lot of people camp together, in groups. Four or five campers in a group and everyone knows everyone else. That is so cool. My guess is they’re either in a camping club or everybody just enjoys the great outdoors and sharing it with each other. I sit on the sidelines and watch, smiling at their antics and all the fun they have with each other. I find it much more interesting to be on the outside looking in than inside contributing limited information. I find I learn a lot more this way.


Camping friends


Facebook can be a wonderful tool when finding people with the same interests as yours. There are several ‘friends’ that are campers and I follow a lot of the long-distance hikers of the PCT, CDT and AT. I ‘met’ a friend via Facebook who lives in a more southern state that camps with his wife. We’ve been friends a year or two. Not too many weeks ago, I had the wonderful chance to meet this gentleman and his lady one evening, along with some other friends. We had a blast! My very first camping friends! They had traveled up to the Eastern Shore and were staying locally a few miles down the road at another campground.

I’ve been invited to visit when I’m way down south in their neck of the woods. It will be nice to visit with them again and enjoy their company. It’s nice to pick the brain of a fellow camper but it’s even nicer to find out more about these special people.

Camping brings freedom and peace; and it’s nice to be around people who enjoy that same thing and also understands the need that drives it.



On The Road Again – Part 7

The stay in Oklahoma completely swept my heart and soul away, leaving it right there amongst the prairies and the plains. How could a ‘place’ from my childhood dreams and imaginations actually be a real place? Well, it was. Right there, in all its majestic glory.

Oklahoma Praire

I can hear it being said now….. ‘There’s nothing out there.’ Oh, I beg to differ. Small, rolling hills with even smaller trees making wide open spaces with very few homes, lots of dirt roads, plenty of cows and the occasional ranch and oil rig sliding by.

Oklahoma Route 66Found Route 66 is the way to travel if you want to get to the heart of the beauty, and beauty it was to these old eyes. There were tears, happy tears, knowing something out there was really real and maybe it wasn’t because of my imagination or wishful thinking on my part. I just didn’t realize it existed, this place dreams are made of.

Wide open spaces, the plains and all that entails, plenty of red clay and lots of red roads, people and homes separated by miles and miles of pasture, cows everywhere, clay red trucks with ‘cattle pushers’ on the front to push only God knows what, sunrises and sunsets that had to be some of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen.

Still, I couldn’t believe it was real – but it was and I was constantly seeing it.

Oklahoma SunriseDidn’t take but a day and it was on to Texas. Oklahoma was the stopping point but I kept on going with the truck. Too many things to see, too much land to look at, so many cows and ranches and a few more oil rigs. Still, not many people. Houses and ranches still miles and miles apart. It was magical, and humbling.

Silence and solitude. How lucky can one be? I’m talking about those people, the ones that live this life. Do they feel the same way about their home as I do? It makes me wonder. To some, that’s all they know and wouldn’t have it any other way. Others, I’m guessing, would want a more social life around social events with a variety of people and a big city. Me? I could fix a dugout on a hill and live the rest of my time perfectly content.

When I hear people say things like, “There’s nothing out there,” I automatically know it’s probably going to be some place I’ll love to be. Whether I received that bug from my adopted farmer dad or the genetics from the biological parents, I don’t know. It could be just me, my own life. I do know that the words, “There’s nothing out there” mean something out there is some kind of beautiful.

Oklahoma Sunset

I put off leaving Oklahoma for three days. I shed a few tears each day because I didn’t want to leave. Period. At all. Almost to the point of leaving Gypsy and Miss Ellie behind and Hershey and I hopping a plane instead. But no, that wasn’t going to work, not this time anyway.

We finally left the campground for the long trek East. Once again, I ‘oh my gollied’ all the way to Oklahoma City, where the land changed again. Then on to Arkansas, Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Asheville until…….. the Eastern Shore. A long, tiring and, truth be known, emotional drive. I took great pleasure in the Western NC, North GA, Eastern TN mountains, as always, but the rest….. I missed Oklahoma and it’s beautiful, unpopulated land.

I wouldn’t trade all I’ve seen, done or experienced the past four months for anything.

A most awesome learning experience that I do not and will never regret.



Hershey and I

On The Road Again – Part 6

Being stuck in Mississippi for five or so additional days because Wonder Woman was taking the trailer hitch off really laid up the plans. However, it couldn’t be helped. I’m doing this by myself which means I still have to do it by myself. Besides, I do it every day and don’t think I’d trust anybody else to couple the trailer and truck together, and add the centerline anti-sway bars. Yea, just a little picky about that.

Hershey was a good sport while doggie mama laid around or hobbled around for food, the potty and taking him outside. That was tough! He is heavier than he looks! Had to pick him up while down on my knees and grab the door hand to stand up. After a week of those NSAID’s that I’m not to take, most of the pain is gone. Hopefully, it will get better with time. Still, not going to stop me from hooking up to go adventuring.

We left the Mississippi camp early and headed into Arkansas. New places, new roads, new views. All you have to do is smile and it’s reciprocated. A beautiful state but could tell that it had been through and probably was still going through some tough times. Was this the place? I didn’t know but it’s out there somewhere.

We stopped at the campground after dark. I found my lot, pulled in, grabbed the power plug and whoops, no power. I finangled things around like I usually do to get things to work but the power just did not work. Plus, there was no lighting nearby and I wasn’t having much luck with the flashlight – add that to the fact my back was hurting so bad I was almost in tears. Made my decision; I pulled camper and truck up to the front office, parked, opened the windows and we slept the night away. Expected a banging on the door first thing in the morning but that didn’t happen. Of course, when I told the owner why I was there and what happened, the power worked. The second male I have dealt with that had an attitude I think based on the fact that a woman is doing something a woman should be doing. They’re around, and I’ve run across two of them so far.

Parked, hooked up and never left the campground. Had to fix the back or else I wouldn’t be able to manage. Another change of plans. Ho hum. However, it does teach patience and also, the back feels very sore instead of stabbing pain. Did what I had to do but wow, was I ever so ready to get away from that campground. It definitely is not on my list of “Places to Stay” again.

So we didn’t see any of the sights or visit any of the historical locations that were close by. What I was thinking was ‘Oh boy, Oklahoma is only 13 miles away!”

That was exciting. I was getting us closer to where I had always wanted to be – wide open spaces. I just didn’t realize ‘what’ wide open spaces really meant until I saw it. After crossing the state line, I couldn’t quit saying, “Oh my gosh” over and over again, all the way across Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, I’ve stopped here for now. Have to return east for those obligations.

I don’t want to, at all. I will be back in a few weeks.

It feels good here. It fits.

And I have a friend.



On The Road Again – Part 5

(FYI – no pics for this post. Connection speed too slow. Sorry.)

Finally made it out and away from the comfort zone. There’s something about the Appalachian mountains that always give me a ‘feel good feeling’ and see nature’s beauty all at the same time. Not to mention all the things that interest me like the little mountain towns, the big town of Chattanooga, the Cherohala Skyway, Cloudland Canyon, country road after country road with a side-view of pasture and cows, which Hershey, the Wonder Dog thinks of as his own personal play toys. The list just goes on and on.

The last afternoon in Georgia started with a simple drive down a country road, camera at the ready, to experience another country drive and see where we’d end up. Of course, I knew where we would end up – Alabama – but didn’t realize just how beautiful the view would be nor did I realize Lookout Mountain traveled as far as it did. Regardless, I did manage to find a few stopping places for pics as we traveled slowly along. Mountains, houses here and there, pasture and barns, and a sun wanting to sink behind the mountaintops, close its eye and rest for the day. So much to behold in the beauty of nature (not to mention the perfect timing).

After 40 miles or so, we ended up in Ft. Payne. Anybody with any country music experience from previous years will know about Ft. Payne. The country group ‘Alabama’ mentions Ft. Payne in several of their songs; there’s also an Alabama museum in the town. Not interested in the tourist trap of traveling but Ft. Payne was a cool little town. Lots of little digs and dives, BBQ and blues. Quite enjoyable but had to end and head back. Chose the interstate north for speed and quickness, to which we promptly arrived back, safe and sound and tired.

That’s it, I thought. Time to ride away from all the familiar and see what I can see, feel what I can feel, experience all the new digs along an unknown trail.

So that’s what we did. Hit the trail running. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s always exciting being on the move.

But first, let me tell you about my skills and how I’ve adapted to this roaming home away from home lifestyle. I love it. I am literally ‘at home’ no matter where I am in this country. The camper has become a glove, fitting close enough that I know pretty much when anything is not quite right or off-kilter just a bit. As far as towing Gypsy down the road, it feels like second nature. Road conditions let me know beforehand how much ‘stuff’ I’m going to have to pick up inside when we stop for the night. That never ends, no matter how well I pack or how secure I think it is. The kitchen pantry loves to play with me – every trip! I’ve only asked for help one time this trip and not because I couldn’t back the camper in but because to get the camper exactly where it needed to be would have me running over metal pipe holding the elevated lot together. That would burst the tires. So I backed her in (never realized just how patient I really am) until I knew I needed a little more experience than what I had. Brian, the campground owner, knew what to do. Took him a while also but he got it just right and all was well and intact.

Gas stations are easier now. I don’t need a truck stop anymore. Still, some stations won’t work and I might not realize it until I drive in, which I promptly ride back out of. I have that down pat. There’s something about a female with a big truck, hauling a big camper that stops people in their tracks at a gas station. Why? I don’t know but I think it might be for fun and games, such as ‘let’s see how this chick is going to accomplish all that without hitting something.’ I’ve seen more than one grin in my gas station experiences and can’t help but believe that was exactly what they were thinking and maybe they were disappointed that I didn’t wreck anything…??? Yea, it’s that girl power thing. I’ll drag Gypsy anywhere now because I know I can get her out; I can backup with the best of them; albeit slowly, but I’m not afraid to back and I’ll jump out and check myself as many times as I think necessary.

So we left Georgia and all it’s beauty, heading towards Alabama. It was here I found US Route 82. It was going to take me to the next stop, which would be Mississippi. Talk about an awesome drive! It was beautiful! Campground was on a lake, complete with levee; the place was quiet and shady, a good place to be. In the country as far as I could get. Six to eight miles west of the town, which houses the University of Mississippi. A beautiful, historical downtown area. The best BBQ in town had a bible verse from the chapter of Romans highlighted by the door. That, however, didn’t stop their business. The parking lot was full, the street was full, the side street was full – I talked with a fella who was heading inside and he informed me this was the absolute best BBQ around. Reference to the bible in no way deterred their business. Of course, that was before I had listened to the local evening news and realized that two days before, two students had been arrested at the airport before boarding for Syria. They had been recruited by ISIL. Two days before I arrive. Recruited. Arrested. Weird feeling – it was like waiting for something to happen. Just shows me it’s everywhere – there’s really no pick and choose, it’s just here… and there.

Then comes the trailer hitch/back incident. Talk about a change of plans! Attempted to head down south to the bayou but that plan was not going to be fulfilled this day. Oh my ouch! Came back and eased myself into bed. This was so not cool! I also knew I should baby the back somewhat but preparing the camper for hauling or unhauling requires the back and sometimes gumption. No matter how bad it hurt, the chores had to be done.

Slow. Slowly. Slow.

Gave it a day of rest but the ‘roaming the road’ itch won. Decided the route, reserved a campground lot, and painfully hooked up. Only took about twice the normal amount of time. Sheesh! At least I’d be sitting a few hours of the day so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

With a last good-bye at the camp office, complete with another offer to spend the winter there, Hershey and I began blazing the trail for that day’s adventure. It was to be a day of many ‘firsts’ in life. Excitement was in the air!

In the words of Dusty (Twister)….. “We gone, baby!”



On The Road Again – Women On The Road

In almost three months of living and traveling different places, driving untold miles, I often hear the phrase which has become quite familiar – “I know a few women who travel around by themselves.” Although I have yet to meet one, there are ‘plenty’ of sisters out there enjoying all the good and fixing what goes wrong. There is my own internal wanderlust to deal with. Personally, I’d like to “Walk Across American” like Peter Jenkins did.

This morning, a friend sent me an article written by a wanderlust female – she’s been around the block a few times and still going strong. I don’t follow women campers only because I don’t know any but I’ll follow women hikers, those who do long-distance thru-hiking. All it took was for me to have the chance to read two original manuscripts that were going to be published. After that, it was on. Those manuscripts were so much more interesting and fulfilling than the best-seller, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.

Thanks to my friend for sending me some of the most motivational words I’ve read in a while. This lady deserves a pat or two…..or 15 on her back. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.



On The Road Again – Part 4

Summertime is best enjoyed in an beautiful, naturally green area where people don’t quite understand what ‘hot’ really means. Oh, don’t get me wrong; it’s hot out here, a whole 90 degrees worth, but it feels so much different than it did on the Eastern Shore.

To be honest, this heat actually feels good. It’s nice to sleep at night without the a/c. As always, Hershey and I fight over the covers. Nothing new there. All you have to do is cool the camper down as the sun starts dropping behind the trees and voila, no a/c at night. That’s when the cicadas start to sing. The natural evening choir and my music have a running race each evening to see which ‘tune’ can be the loudest and since I observe the rules, the cicadas always win.

It’s nice to get things done and be relaxed while doing it; however, this has been a really strange week. We were planning to head out Tuesday but I started feeling off-kilter. No matter I was good and tired from the long haul to get here but that’s different than being off-kilter. It happens sometimes. Actually, it’s happening more than sometimes, more this trip than the last one.

I can’t do anything about it until the body decides it’s ready to come back to life. Usually, it’s about a day and a half before the energy comes back and I can think and focus again. This time, it was almost three days. Three days of sleep, bathroom breaks for us, and cooking something because regardless, I feel I need the fuel and plenty of it during these times. Thank goodness I keep a well-stocked kitchen with plenty of fresh vegetables, homemade greek yogurt, plenty of organic olive oil and coconut oil, popsicles for fluid and the occasional pint of ice cream for the fat.

I’m sure it’s weight related…again. Became a 108 lb. pumpkin while on the Eastern Shore and now at 102 lbs. Before, I felt the best at 101 lbs.; anything 100 lbs. and below fizzled me out like a dead firecracker and I’d have to do what I’ve done this week… sleep it off. And eat. Now is seems like the body is having to find the right weight again and doing me in during the process.

I ate enough yesterday to kill a small cow. I even cooked and ate one whole block of tofu. I cooked three meals and ate everything I cooked. And I weighed 102 lbs this morning? I feel like I’m playing ‘Ring Around the Rosie’ with my body and keep falling in the grass.

No matter. I’m used to it.

I’m not, however, used to my friends that are much sicker than me. I’ve friends that have had accidents recently that have changed the entire course of their existence, I’ve other friends with cancer – one of which who has battled cancer for at least 20 years and recently decided no more, I’ve two friends who have recently had heart attacks (and they are my age), I have friends with Diabetes, RA, Myotonic Dystrophy, grief from the loss of losing someone they’ve loved and God knows what else. All I know to do for these friends is think about them, offer prayers for their health and well-being and hope there will always be someone there for them. Not something to be done for fame or fortune or even to give you inner peace; it’s all about each of them and their needs; and what can “I” do to make their life a little bit better? IS there anything I can do to make their lives a little bit better? When I was on the Eastern Shore, I could go visit or vise-versa. I cannot do that on the road so I have to be creative, which I’m not. So they’re always in my heart and soul. When I’m thinking about those special people, I’m not thinking about me, only them. Yet still, so much of the time I don’t know what to do.

With that said, it seems like I’ve spent the past days just thinking of me. Not really true, of course, but off-kilter days that require me to be still and sleep makes my mind feel like an overflowing file cabinet. On good days, the file cabinet is neat, organized and prioritized.

So Monday, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we’ll be leaving for new territory, blazing new trails, see what’s out there, find different people, enjoy life.

Inside, just underneath the surface, are all those wonderful friends that I keep in my heart and soul. They help keep things positive and in proper perspective.