December 23, 2019

The Best Gifts Never Come Wrapped

My daughter, Kyra, and I recently traveled by car then train to spend a day together in New York City.  (It's sort of a tough place to bring your RV.)  With her six-days-a-week work schedule, we don’t get to enjoy adventures like this on a regular basis.  We did a bit of shopping, a bit of sightseeing, a bit of eating and a whole lot of walking and talking.  The photos in this post were taken with Kyra’s phone and a small point-and-shoot camera that would fit in my pocket because I didn’t want to lug my good camera around with me all day.  Big mistake.  The photos from Kyra’s phone were fine but the ones from my camera, well, not so much.  So, please overlook the horrible photos.  While many of them leave a lot to be desired, the adventure itself was excellent - New York City is a glorious destination during the holidays, especially when you share the adventure with someone you love.

When I began thinking that I wanted to extend greetings of the season to you, for some reason my mind wandered around to the gifts of the season.  And then it just sat there, contemplating.  We celebrate Christmas at our house and, yes, gifts are exchanged.  Many come in boxes with holiday paper and bows.  Some are experiences or gift cards that represent future experiences.  All are thoughtfully given and graciously received.  But what about the gifts that never come wrapped?

December 14, 2019

Grand Canyon National Park - We're Big Fans of the North Rim (National Parks Trip #2)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the second of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.  At the time of this trip in 2010, our son, Ryan, was 16 and our daughter, Kyra, was 11.  We were on the road for 4 weeks and 1 day.

Alan and I have been tent camping since we were married 40 years ago.  But it wasn’t until 2006 that we purchased our first travel trailer.  That first “RV summer,” Ryan was 12 and Kyra was 7, and we started out by frequenting private RV parks with amenities and activities that we felt the kids would enjoy.  It was on our first cross country National Parks camping trip in 2007 that we tested the waters of dry camping (camping without water, electric or sewer hookups) in Yellowstone National Park’s Madison Campground.  We discovered that we loved waking up in the Park surrounded by nature instead of other RVs.  The space, solitude and scenic views we experienced at Madison ignited our passion for camping in State and National Park campgrounds.  The rest, as they say, is history.

November 25, 2019

"The Four Tendencies" - An Upholder and A Questioner Square Off

Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with or receiving payment from anyone – I’m just sharing my thoughts and experiences with you. 

Two years ago, New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin (some of you may remember her from “The Happiness Project”) published a book called “The Four Tendencies.”  I read the book when it was first published, and just recently finished reading it for the second time.  I wish she had written it sooner.  Like back in the first decade of my marriage instead of the fourth.  That way, Alan and I could have easily avoided 478,296 repetitive disagreements and had 478,296 laughs instead.

November 11, 2019

Campfire Talk

On Veterans Day, a warm word of gratitude to all of our Veterans for serving on our behalf, and to their families for sharing their heroes with us.

I’ve been trying to come up with an appropriately descriptive title for the posts that have a little bit of everything thrown in, and I think I’ve finally settled on “Campfire Talk.”  You know how you get a really good conversation going with your camping buddies when everyone is sitting around a fire in the evening?  The talk flows seamlessly from one topic to another, everyone is engaged in it, and there’s often a lot of storytelling and laughter going on.  Those occasions are truly enjoyable for me because, most often, it’s a smaller group of people which is a lot easier on us social hermits to handle than a large group.  Trying to visit or talk with everyone in a larger group feels more like speed dating than anything else to me, and I find it more difficult to make personal connections.  Campfires have been bringing people together for centuries, and so has good conversation.  I like the relaxed feeling of a campfire chat, and enjoy the warmth of both the fire and the pleasure of the relationships I share with the friends and family members in the camp chairs around me.  So, Campfire Talk it is.

Now that I have the title of the post down, you’ll know that anytime you see the “Campfire Talk” heading, the post will have a little of this, a little of that and who knows what else.  Please note that I’m not affiliated with or receiving payment from any of the companies or organizations mentioned in this post.  I’m just sharing with you bits and pieces of what’s been on my mind lately – you know, the kind of stuff you might talk about around a campfire with fellow camping enthusiasts.  Please do feel free to throw in a comment or two, so it really is more of a conversation among friends than a college lecture!  The photos in this post were taken in 2017 along the Oregon coast, during our third cross country National Parks camping trip.  Now, on to the first official edition of Campfire Talk . . .

October 23, 2019

Bidding a Fond Farewell to this Year's Camping Season

We just closed out this year’s camping season at our family favorite – Northampton Beach Campground on Great Lake Sacandaga.  Even though we have a true four-season travel trailer, we always wind down our camping season in September or October – for a couple of reasons.  One, many of the State Parks we favor in the Northeast close down on Columbus Day weekend.  I’m sure that I could find a few private RV parks that stay open later but, since our hearts belong to the State and National Parks, giving up the spacious campsites and lovely natural views that we enjoy so much in public campgrounds just doesn’t seem worthwhile to us.  Two, in our neck of the woods, snow is not unheard of in October.  In order to settle in the Creek Side on its pad up in the back where it spends the winter months, Alan needs to back the 32’ trailer up the driveway, across the front lawn, make a corner around the birch trees, guide it through two gates and squeeze past the boat garage.  Did I mention that we live on the side of a small mountain, so it's an uphill battle for part of the way?  If you saw him pull off this maneuver, I’m betting that you’d just stand right up and start clapping.  It isn’t a feat for the faint of heart.  Once there’s snow on the ground, it becomes Mission Impossible, especially since the turn around the birch trees can be a bit slick in just rain, never mind snow.  And there’s that little embankment to worry about if you do start sliding on the turn.  While our Creek Side would allow us to enjoy winter camping, we always tuck it safely away before the first snow flies.

It was with happy hearts that we set out for Northampton Beach in early October and with heavy hearts that we returned.  (That last camping trip of the season hits me hard every time.)  But this visit was SO much better than the week we spent there in June when it rained.  Nearly.  Every.  Day.   This time around?  Delightfully sunny skies.  Nearly!  Every!  Day!

October 04, 2019

North to Alaska . . . Not!

I was going to title this post, “The Year of the Cancelled Vacations,” a phrase that Alan and I had each come up with independently of each other over the past week or so.  But it was so darn depressing that I couldn’t do it, no matter how accurate a title it was.

Right after the first of the year, I cancelled all the reservations we had for our spring trip to the southern states because we found out that our son’s long-time girlfriend would be graduating with her Master’s degree on one of the Saturdays in May we had planned to be away.  That’s one of the pitfalls of travel planning more than a year in advance.  (We ended up swapping our 2019 scheduled trip for one we were hoping to take in 2020 and it worked out just fine - more on that at another time.)  Then, in June when we had returned to our #1 favorite campground (Northampton Beach on Great Lake Sacandaga in central New York), and watched the rain come down day after day after day, we decided to cancel our fall camping plans at another State Park so that we could come back and (with good-weather luck!) have a chance at enjoying our favorite lake one last time before our camping season ended.  In my last post about the Outdoors RV Owners East Coast Rally, I noted that we almost had to cancel that trip a couple of weeks ago due to a malfunctioning trailer brake system.  All of those situations were minor bumps in the road compared to the major pothole we hit as our 40th wedding anniversary drew near.

September 25, 2019

The 2019 Outdoors RV Owners East Coast Rally - An Excellent Adventure!

In March of 2017, Alan and I purchased our second travel trailer – a Creek Side 26RLS made by Outdoors RV Manufacturing (ORV) in La Grande, Oregon.  If you’re interested in the why and how of that whole complicated story, you can find the details in the post from March of 2018 called "Today is Our 1st Anniversary! (link HERE)  At the time we were researching our purchase, it became apparent that there was a strong sense of customer loyalty among the owners of ORV travel trailers and fifth wheels, and that this small company worked hard to remain connected with its customers. 

Every year in June, ORV hosts a get-together for the owners of its rigs at an RV Park in Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains near the ORV manufacturing facility.  While I have to admit that the setting is, indeed, beautiful, I also have to say that a round trip of more than 5,000 miles to attend a three day owners’ rally is a bit far to travel.  However, since the majority of ORV customers reside in the states of the Pacific Northwest and the provinces of western Canada, it certainly makes sense to hold the gathering out there.  But what about those of us in the eastern part of the United States who enjoy our rigs just as much as our counterparts in the west, and who would love to get together with other ORV owners to trade stories about our RVs and our travels?  Granted, there are far fewer of us in the east than in the west.  But, thanks to an ORV owner in Ohio, the Outdoors RV East Coast Rally debuted in 2018.  Sadly, Alan and I missed that inaugural event due to the ongoing construction project at a rental property.  But, with the construction project behind us, we decided we weren’t going to let 2019 slip by without making a valiant effort to attend this one!

September 15, 2019

It Was 40 Years Ago Today . . .

On September 15, 1979, two young kids said “I do” with absolutely no idea as to what really lay ahead.  Since that day, Alan and I did a lot of growing up together, made some big plans and saw them through to fruition, lost all four of our parents and brought up two amazing kids.  In between all that, we traveled a lot of miles together.  A lot.  Indeed, we’re both road trippers at heart.

August 31, 2019

National Parks Traveler - A New Addition to My List of Favorite Places!

I’m pretty sure I’ve made it obvious to readers of this blog that, while Alan and I are passionate about traveling in general, we’re particularly fond of the State and National Parks scattered throughout our beautiful country.  So I was absolutely delighted when I recently ran across National Parks Traveler, an organization dedicated to providing news about our National Parks and an extensive collection of ways to enjoy them and other public lands.

August 22, 2019

Mesa Verde National Park - A Step Back in Time (National Parks Trip #2)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the second of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.  At the time of this trip in 2010, our son, Ryan, was 16 and our daughter, Kyra, was 11.

When one or both parents are working, it can be difficult to build the vacation you really want to take around a limited number of days off.  It’s very true that Alan, I and our two kids could have flown to our various destinations, rented a car and booked a hotel - and there are certainly countless families that do that and have absolutely wonderful vacations.  For us, however, camping is the adventure and having all the comforts and conveniences of home tagging along behind us is just how we prefer to roll.

Luckily, by the time our second National Parks trip was in the planning stage, Alan had six weeks of vacation to work with.  (That grammatical error was just for you, Mike!)  I was working part time in the local school district, so my summers (and the kids’, of course) were free.  Once Alan’s approval came through for a four week block of time, we had a major decision to make – the same one we faced every time we started to plan a vacation.  Do we limit the stops and immerse ourselves in each one?  Or do we try to fit more in, but make the visits to each National Park shorter?  It was never an easy choice and, honestly, we would have had a great time no matter which option we chose.

August 14, 2019

Blog, Blog, Blog

The miscellaneous photos in this post are from some of the many places we’ve been to but I haven’t had the chance to document yet – and there will be plenty more to come, “Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.”

I did it again.  When I looked back to the prior installment in the series on our second cross country National Parks camping trip, I found that it has been more than five months since my last post.  Yikes!  My intent was to document that trip on a much more regular basis but, alas, it seems like there’s always something more pressing at the top of my mind and the tip of my tongue.

August 04, 2019

"My List"

Within the past week or so, two things occurred that have given me so much food for thought that this post practically wrote itself.  First, Alan and I got into a Bucket List discussion which happens occasionally around our house.  Then, I heard an old Toby Keith song called “My List” written by Tim James and Antonina Armato that hasn’t been on the airwaves in a while.  In 2007, our kids, Ryan and Kyra, traveled on their first cross country National Parks camping trip with us.  Ryan was 13 and Kyra was 8.  When we returned, I created a DVD of photos and videos from that trip set to the music of “My List.”  (You’ll find some of them below.)  To this day, I can’t listen to that song without that DVD playing in my mind.  Memories of the trip and talk about our Bucket Lists started tumbling around in my head.  Here’s what I shook out . . .

July 21, 2019

Today is National Ice Cream Day!

I was not aware that today was National Ice Cream Day when I drafted my last post on Pennsylvania’s “Pursue Your Scoops” Ice Cream Trail.  Now I am, and so are you.

Back in 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.  As if I needed an excuse.   But wait, there’s more . . .

July 14, 2019

The Pennsylvania "Pursue Your Scoops" Ice Cream Trail

Let’s talk about ice cream.  Specifically, about my love affair with it.  I just adore ice cream – or, I should say, I adore what I consider to be really good ice cream.  The most memorable ice cream from my childhood was a Rabbit Ears cone from Mr. Softee – that was the name of our neighborhood ice cream truck and, by default, the man who drove it.  Regular cones cost a dime (yes, I know, I’m dating myself) and they were yummy.  But a Rabbit Ears cone cost a quarter and, boy oh boy, was that a special treat!  Soft chocolate ice cream filled up the wafer cone, and that was topped with a soft vanilla ice cream head and two squiggly rabbit ears.  A quick dip of chocolate sprinkles (or jimmies, as they’re known elsewhere) on the ears and the addition of a maraschino cherry nose were the finishing touches to this delightful treat.  Happily, Mr. Softee’s tasty treats were not my only ice cream adventures when I was young.

July 06, 2019

TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System - I Promised I'd Get Back to You

Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from Truck System Technologies or any other companies that manufacture Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.  I simply wanted to share our experience, just in case any of you are interested. 

Alan and I log a LOT of road trip miles.  Our first travel trailer had over 40,000 miles on it when it “retired.”  Our current travel trailer is closing in on 15,000 already.  Earlier this year, Alan and I decided to invest in a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) so that we could monitor the temperature and pressure of our travel trailer tires while we were on the road.  Our reasoning and my very non-technical research can be found in my post from February called “The Least Technical Post You’ll Ever Read About Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems” (link HERE).  We decided against a flow through system and chose a cap sensor system instead.  Our purchase was the 507 Series 4 Cap Sensor system from a company called Truck System Technologies (TST).  At the time we bought it, we still had snow on the ground and limited access to the tires of our travel trailer.  Alan ended up installing the system shortly before our trip to the Florida Keys in May – a trip that provided a test of more than 4,000 miles for the new system.  If you’re interested in our experience setting it up and a report based on our road trip experience, read on.  If the thought of slogging through a post on a TPMS bores you to tears then, by all means, please go read a post on another one of your favorite blogs – but please be sure to come back another day!  (We’ll all miss you if you don’t!)

June 25, 2019

Northampton Beach Campground - "The Lake is My Happy Place"

We’re back.  Again.  Due to a complete revision of our spring travel plans, Alan and I ended up at Northampton Beach Campground in Mayfield, New York, almost immediately after we arrived home from our recent round trip to the Florida Keys.  We did cancel the first week of our stay at Northampton Beach, because we simply didn’t arrive home in time from the Keys.  As disappointed as we were to miss that first week, we were thrilled to have been able to continue what has become an annual tradition for our family.

June 10, 2019

Well, THAT was Fun! (Random Thoughts on Our Recent Journey)

We’re back.  Alan and I just spent a little more than 3 weeks on the road beginning in mid-May, the result of a MAJOR revision to our travel plans early in the year.  You can find the full story on why the vacation we took was not the one we originally intended to take in a post from February entitled, Our Spring Travel Plans Went Right Out the Window” (link HERE).  But let me just say here and now that, although it was an extremely busy vacation, it was also an extremely fun-filled one, too.

Because we both came back to a really long "To Do" list, we’re scrambling to catch up on both business business and personal business.  It took me a full day just to wade through the piles of laundry and sort and prioritize the mail.  I have no medical background, but I do understand the concept of triage, and I can assure you that there was plenty of that this past week.  Since we’re still playing catch up, I only have time for a quick post.  So, I’d like to simply share with you some random thoughts on a vacation that felt kind of like a variety show, along the lines of the old Ed Sullivan Show.  For those of you who are too young to remember the show:  It appeared on TV every Sunday night from 1948 to 1971 and was hosted by (guess who!) Ed Sullivan.  The various acts that appeared included singers, dancers, comedians, acrobats and circus acts – if it was a legal form of entertainment that could be fit into a ten minute time slot, it probably appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.  And I’m so sorry you missed it – it was a classic.  But, I digress.  As I was saying about this vacation, it really did feel like a variety show because we enjoyed such a, well, variety of people and activities.  I’ll be returning with future posts that contain more details but, for now, I’d like to share some random thoughts and observations on our most recent adventure . . . 

June 03, 2019

I'm Adding "iRV2" to My List of Favorite Places!

Anyone who enjoys the RVing lifestyle knows that RVers are some of the friendliest people around.  They thrive on sharing travel stories and are quick to offer a good tip or even some hands-on assistance when needed.  That's why I love poking around on forums designed specifically for the RV and camping lifestyles.

May 16, 2019

It All Started with the Family Picnic

Regular readers may recall that I use my local library a lot, and the benefit I appreciate the most is being able to request a book or movie from any of the locations within my regional library system.  When you live in a small, rural town with a tiny little library, the ability to request an inter-library loan makes a huge difference in the amount and type of material available to you.  Of course, the larger the library system, the more people who can request books so, sometimes, I end up waiting weeks or even months for something especially popular.  But patience is a virtue and my patience was once again rewarded when I was finally notified that the most recent edition of “100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas” had been delivered to my local library for me.

The book is a beautiful one, thick with ideas and enticing photographs, but what struck me and stayed with me was author Joe Yogerst’s very first sentence in the book’s introduction:  “I cannot imagine my life without parks.”  It actually stopped me in my tracks because I realized at that moment that the sentiment he voiced applied to my own life, as well.  In giving it more thought, I realized that, for me, it all began with the Family Picnic.

May 02, 2019

Knowledge is Power – and Sometimes it Translates into Cold, Hard Cash, Too

Did you know that April was Financial Literacy Month?  No, wait!  Don’t go!  Yes, this is an RV lifestyle blog, but bear with me, please.  In fact, because this is a longer post than usual, you may want to grab your favorite beverage and settle in . . . Many of you know that my employment background is a combination of finance and human resources, and I can tell you that my affinity for numbers has been a huge benefit on countless occasions throughout my life.  Anyone involved in the RV lifestyle knows that RVs don’t come cheap, a dependable tow vehicle or toad (towed vehicle) is critical and travel expenses can add up rather quickly.

I read an article about Financial Literacy Month a couple of weeks ago.  Just before that, I had been giving a lot of thought to some conversations and situations that had recently occurred in my personal life, and this seems like a good time to share them.

April 16, 2019

Ausable Point Campground - Adventures on Magnificent Lake Champlain

Last fall, Alan and I enjoyed a short camping trip to State Parks in Vermont and New York that were completely new to us, followed by a week at a waterfront site on our beloved Great Lake Sacandaga.  I detailed the first leg of the journey in a recent post about Half Moon Pond State Park and our adventures in the Vermont countryside (link HERE).  Our family time at the Northampton Beach Campground on Sacandaga was covered in a post back in October (“I Just Love these Guys to Pieces” - link HERE).  So this post is the third and final one recounting the time we spent on the middle leg of our journey, camping at Ausable Point.  I know that was completely out of order but family always comes first! 

When Alan and I left Half Moon Pond State Park in Fair Haven, Vermont, we turned our wheels westward and made our way to Ausable Point Campground in Peru, New York.  To say that we were excited about this next stop would be an understatement.  Since we are campers and boaters, the opportunity to camp directly on the shore of Lake Champlain held a huge appeal and we were most definitely looking forward to our first stay at Ausable Point.

April 09, 2019

Celebrating National Park Week 2019 – Why It’s Impossible for Me to Choose a Favorite Park

National Park Week 2019 runs from Saturday, April 20th, through Sunday, April 28th, with a “fee-free” day on the 20th to kick off the week of celebration.  Other “fee-free” days during 2019 are August 25th (the birthday of the National Park Service), September 28th (National Public Lands Day) and November 11th (Veterans Day), so mark your calendar accordingly.  Spring is a perfect time of year to get out and enjoy our national treasures, and many of our National Parks have special events scheduled during the week.  Plus, the National Park Service has assigned a theme to many of the days during National Park Week such as Junior Ranger Day on April 20th and Bark Ranger Day on April 27th.  (Yes!  Some National Parks and Monuments do allow pets!)  National Park Week focuses on the beauty and benefits of these glorious public lands – OUR public lands - and the countless opportunities that exist for us to enjoy them.

Photo credit:

Many of you know that our love affair with our National Parks began back when Alan and I honeymooned by tent camping across the country on a journey to visit several of the iconic Parks in the American West.  Currently, there are 61 National Parks in existence, but properties managed by the National Park Service number 419 and include National Monuments, Battlefields, Military Parks, Historical Parks, Historic Sites, Lakeshores, Seashores, Recreation Areas, Scenic Rivers and Trails, and the White House.  We’ve made a dent in that list, but we still have a long way to go to see them all.  (Interesting tidbit of information:  The largest National Park is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska at 13.2 million acres, and the smallest is the Thaddeus Kosciuszko Memorial in Pennsylvania at 0.02 acres.)  With all of those Parks to choose from, (okay, Mike, I admit it should be “from which to choose”), the question that inevitably comes up is, “Which National Park is your favorite?”

March 23, 2019

Half Moon Pond State Park - Fall Explorations in Vermont

Last summer, the push was on to complete a major construction project at one of our rental properties.  Hoping we would be done by late August, but not knowing whether or not we’d actually be able to complete the project by then, Alan and I made no camping plans for the spring or summer of 2018.  However, if all went well, we would be free to take some time off in the fall.  I was reluctant to plan any type of extended or complicated vacation because I had visions of cancelling numerous reservations if the construction project wasn’t completed when we expected it to be.  So, the decision was made to shoot for a couple of State Park visits within a full day’s drive from home.

March 18, 2019

Great Sand Dunes National Park - Playing in the Biggest Sandbox I've Ever Seen (National Parks Trip #2)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the second of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.  At the time of this trip in 2010, our son, Ryan, was 16 and our daughter, Kyra, was 11.

Regular readers of this blog know that I spend a lot of time planning our travels, paying particular attention to campgrounds that are the best fit for our preferences and specific sites within those campgrounds.  Some people view a campsite simply as a place to catch some z’s and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that because they often are.  To me, the campsite is an integral part of our traveling experience, unless we’re specifically making time between point A and point B, in which case we do need just a place to rest our weary selves.  Yes, Wally World has been our “campground” of choice on more than one occasion.  But I enjoy selecting campsites that I know our family will really like and make the most of – whether that’s because of the seclusion, the view or the easy access to a lake or hiking trail.

Because I had identified Piñon Flats within Great Sand Dunes National Park as our go-to campground for this visit, I spent a great deal of time looking at the photos of the sites there on  Many had beautiful views of the dunes and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains behind them, but the sites tended to be smaller and there were not a lot that I felt we could comfortably fit in with our 30’ travel trailer.  I was having a difficult time deciding on a site based on what I was seeing on and I had questions on more than one of the sites I was considering.  What to do?  Take a chance, book a site and keep our fingers crossed we would fit?  Play it safe and stay at a private RV park outside the National Park?  Neither one of those options appealed to me and I decided to try something I had never done before.

March 17, 2019

Quick Post - is now

Just a quick update today while I’m working on a regular post . . .

I’m not sure when the change occurred, but is now  (The change is reflected in my list of favorite places in the column to the right.)  The content and web site design are still the same and you can find nearly 350,000 reviews of more than 18,000 campgrounds and RV parks on this extremely helpful site.  It’s one of my absolute favorite trip-planning resources.

I’ll be back soon with another post.  Meanwhile, have a good day and try to make it a better one for someone else!

March 06, 2019

Unique Travel Experiences Enrich Our Lives in Distinctive Ways

Since I posted the most recent installment detailing the second of our cross country National Parks camping trips, a thought has been percolating in my mind that I’ve been having a hard time putting into words.  Actually, I think it’s more about feelings than words and, although I’ve been pondering for weeks, I’m still having a difficult time expressing those thoughts and feelings.

When I wrote about our visit to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, I felt like I didn’t successfully convey just how much the opportunity to ride the tiny tram up to the top of the Arch really affected me.  That got me thinking about a number of other experiences we’ve had in our travels.  Let’s face it – I love to travel and I believe that all travel experiences enrich our lives in many ways.  I remember almost every single one of our travel adventures in a positive light (although there are a few exceptions that I’d be just as happy to forget).  Some served to relax and recharge after an exceptionally busy or stressful time.  Some provided a sense of personal satisfaction as a check mark was placed next to a Bucket List item.  Some simply brought the pure enjoyment of being in a magnificently scenic setting. But, every once in a while, we enjoy an experience so rich, so unique or so fascinating that it is forever imprinted on my mind, my heart and, maybe, even in my soul.  Like I said, it’s really hard to explain, but I’m going to give it a try.

February 24, 2019

The Least Technical Post You'll Ever Read on Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from any of the companies mentioned - I’m simply sharing our experience with you.

In March of 2017, Alan and I traveled clear across the country to buy our new travel trailer – a Creek Side 26RLS made by Outdoors RV Manufacturing in eastern Oregon.  Due to the multi-year construction project at our rental property, we only used the Creek Side for a couple of weeks in the fall of 2017 and several weeks in the fall of 2018.  Now, with that construction project in our rear view mirror and the open road stretching out for miles in front of us, Alan and I intend to get back to the pleasures of traveling and camping.

February 18, 2019

Our Spring Travel Plans Went Right Out the Window

I feel awful.  Right after I posted a reminder to sign up for email delivery of new blog posts from Reflections Around the Campfire, I read that several other blogs were having problems with their Feedburner email subscriptions.  If you recently signed up for email delivery and are having any issues receiving new posts, please try unsubscribing and/or signing up again.  I do apologize for any trouble you are having.  That being said, my last post was published on January 30th, so if you haven’t received any new notices since then, it’s me, not you.  Life has been a bit hectic around here lately . . .

Around this time last year, Alan and I took a look at our camping map of the United States.  When the kids were young, we had printed off a basic map and started coloring in the states in which we had camped with colored pencils.  It’s not fancy and it’s not the type we would put up on the travel trailer; it’s just a simple map on cardstock that lives in one of our travel binders.  A good look at our camping map made it obvious that we really needed to make a concerted effort to visit some of our southern states, so we decided to make a loop through that area of the country, focusing mainly on the states between Florida and Texas.  Then I started planning our itinerary.

January 30, 2019

It's a Pop Quiz - Let's See How You Do!

Please note that I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from any of the companies, places or products mentioned in this post.  It’s all just conversation around the campfire.  The photos scattered throughout this post were taken today - after Mother Nature spent yesterday dumping a foot of snow on us.

Back in June of last year when Reflections Around the Campfire was just over six months old, I had posted a quiz about my personal preferences so that you, my friends, could get to know me a little bit better (link HERE).  Since this blog celebrated its one year anniversary in December, I thought it might be time for another quiz.  Let’s see how you do on this one!

January 21, 2019

Gateway Arch National Park - and Other Adventures in St. Louis, Missouri (National Parks Trip #2)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the second of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.  At the time of this trip in 2010, our son, Ryan, was 16 and our daughter, Kyra, was 11.

With the fun and games of Branson, Missouri, behind us, our family headed northeast toward St. Louis, with a visit to the impressive Gateway Arch next up on our itinerary.  You all know that we prefer camping in State or National Parks over private campgrounds, enjoying the solitude and the scenery that only our public lands can provide.  Well, our best State Park option near St. Louis was the Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park in Wildwood, but it was about a 30 mile drive into the city.  This Park looked lovely, received good reviews and is currently enjoying an 8.5 rating on (link HERE).  But we had booked tickets for an early morning tour at the Gateway Arch and factoring in the time we’d need for breakfast and driving in to the city made that particular Park a doable but less than perfect option.  So, we had to decide - should we bite the bullet and make the drive or look for a private campground?

January 12, 2019

Tidbits - Including a Rant About

Welcome to a compilation of random thoughts and tidbits.  Very random, so be prepared.  Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from any of the companies or organizations mentioned.  I’m just sharing what I consider to be interesting or useful bits of news with you – you know, the kind of stuff you might talk about around a campfire with fellow travelers.  Included in this post are a few photos taken on January 4th at the Hudson Valley RV and Boat Show in Troy, New York. 

Each day I set aside time for catching up on what’s going on in the world of travel, health, finance and retirement.  I’ll peruse the online newsletters I subscribe to, visit the blogs in my sidebar (and check out any new ones that sound intriguing) and try to catch up on the magazines that I read regularly.  This is usually done early in the morning with a wonderfully hot cup of coffee in my hand – a ritual that began when the kids were young and which has continued for more than twenty years.  Back in the day, the only time I could hear myself think was when everyone else was still in bed, and my morning “quiet time” provided the opportunity to get a good, solid grasp on the day ahead - before the invasion of the little people.

In addition to the tidbits I pick up when I’m reading, topics will often come to mind when I’m taking my daily walks, and I’ve been keeping a running list of random items to share with you.  None of them are worth a full blog post, but I can write at least one paragraph about just about anything, so here we go . . .

January 01, 2019

Today is a Brand New Day!

I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions.  Never have been and, most likely, never will be.  It’s not that I don’t have goals or habits I’d like to change (I do), but the new year is not a momentous occasion for me.  I tend to set smaller goals throughout the year rather than one or two lofty goals at its beginning.  I work at making good choices on smaller decisions on a more regular basis instead of focusing my efforts on a major goal from which daily life will do its best to sidetrack me.  I’m always working on a goal of some type, but I don’t need or want binoculars to have to see it.