RV Holiday Decorating

Note: Be sure to visit the other links below for more of the “Christmas in the Camper 2017” series. We are one of 15 RV bloggers participating!

You may think RVers would not decorate much for the holidays. Before we moved into our travel trailer full time, we downsized a lot. We did keep a few small bins of decorations (mostly unbreakable ones.) If you visit or camp at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground, you will see how some campers actually do go crazy decorating their sites! We have been here since September, and Halloween and Christmas are the two big holidays to decorate.

One site even built a walk through Haunted Mansion for Halloween!

These were our Halloween wreath and decorations.

Craig and I put a few things up for Thanksgiving and then decorate for Christmas the weekend after. We made this grapevine wreath for the door with some small decorations.

Here is our little Thanksgiving set up. Chip and Dale by the campfire are new.

We got the natural wood tree from Target this year. I love how it can fold pretty flat! Most of the decorations we kept have a camping or woodsy theme. Craig made new green plaid pillowcases for our couch pillows.

I guess when you have the Disney parks and resorts for inspiration surrounding you, it makes you want to go all out!

Here are some more amazing Fort Wilderness campsite decorations from the past few days.




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Goodbye

Today Craig’s coworkers threw a really nice party to say goodbye. He has a few days left of work and then we get down to packing the last of our stuff and the truck! People are coming Labor Day weekend to pick up the couch, TV and table. Then it will really be empty in here!

We loved all the cute decorations and food. The highlight was the camper cake our friend made.


We Bought an RV!

Our RV shopping trip to Florida was a success! We went to look at several RV parks and a few RV dealers. We also went back and forth by email with some other dealers to make sure we were getting the best price we could. In the end we decided to order a new 2018 Grand Design Reflection 297RSTS from the factory. It will be ready for us to pick up in September. Grand Design seems to have a good reputation in the RV world.

The first RV dealer we looked at was Lazydays in Tampa, Florida. This is a large dealer with an RV resort, big store, restaurants and even training classes. I had heard they did not deal much, but we knew they had a lot of stock to look at and we were interested in seeing everything they offered. We wound up buying our Reflection from Lazydays. They offered us a nice percentage off of MSRP, we liked our sales person and we loved the ability to stay overnight (or several nights) and test everything out. They will give us a full walk through of our travel trailer and even have classes we can attend since we are new to all of this. They are also a close drive to Orlando where we will be for several months in case we need any warranty work done.           

Lazydays is so large we were driven around in a golf cart. Our sales person dropped us off near all of the Grand Design Reflection and Imagine travel trailers. He asked if we wanted him to look with us or come back. Since we wanted to take our time in the trailers and not rush, we looked for a while without him hanging over us. He had other customers waiting around too so this worked out well for all of us. Many of the trailers were hooked up to electric and the AC’s were running. This helped us to get an idea of how cool they stay in 95 degree Florida heat!

The floor plan we chose was one we had been eyeing online for a while. It is just shy of 34 feet and has a nice layout for full time living. There is a small fridge and grill outside as well as a television. Not sure how much we will use that, but it is a nice option. The loveseat folds out to a bed and the recliners are heated and face the TV and a small fireplace.  

We decided to go with a free standing table and chairs even though we thought we would like the dinette better. The dinette was not comfortable and Craig was really cramped at 6’4. We also opted for a second AC since we will be staying in some hot areas (like Florida in September and October.) There is a lot of cabinet space, so hopefully we can fit the small amount of items we are taking with us. It looks like a small cat litter box can fit in the bathroom and a crate can fit near the center kitchen island. Their water and food also can fit in the kitchen area. There is a combo washer/dryer hookup in the bedroom, but we will see if it is worth loosing some closet space after we move in.

We also looked at Orlando RV in Winter Park, Florida. They were very nice to us, but did not have any Grand Design Travel Trailers there. We got to look at several floor plans that were really nice, but the RV companies (Forest River, Jayco, etc.) do not have great reputations from my research. I feel like we have been researching for years, so it is so exciting to finally have a decision made! Now for the truck shopping… And job applying…

When we got home our new campsite sign that we custom ordered was waiting. We love it and can not wait to get on the road! 3 more months!

 

 

       

It’s Official

Yesterday we gave our landlords notice so it looks like our start date is official! We are going to be heading to Florida on September 10th or 11th.  The departure date depends on how fast we pack the truck. I think a Monday will be the better travel day, so it will probably be the 11th.

We are going to Acadia National Park with friends for Labor Day weekend and held Blackwoods Campground again. We are staying 5 nights, so that gives us 4 full days to pack all of the things we are taking when we get back. Right now, that is not much. We plan on having about 10 boxes, a few bags of clothing, tools, camp gear and a few odds and ends. A lot of things we need for the RV we will get while we are stationary in Florida.  We need a few things like a surge protector, a water pressure monitor, a few Corelle dishes and a generator.

Next week we are looking at several RV dealers in Florida. I am excited to see the floor plans and RVs we like in person. We will look at more up north as the weather gets nicer too. Some of the local dealers are having open houses with give-a-ways. I want to win a national park annual pass one of them is giving away!

We continue to get rid of furniture and clothing. Last week we sold our bureau, desk, big chair, shelving and coffee table. We are down to the bed, couch and dining table. I did get a few collapsible pet bowls for the cats. I figured they would be good on the trip down to Florida. They have been really calm with all of the packing and furniture moving. I think they know they are going on an adventure soon. This place has been way too boring for all of us.

   

We also cleared out some more things from Craig’s parents storage area. They are holding a few boxes with pictures and scrapbooks for us. I am bringing some framed prints to friends in NJ and FL-hopefully they all fit. We did have a free coupon to make a softcover scrapbook/memory book online so we used it for a small one we can bring with us. We might get a small digital photo frame too. We can always show people pictures on the TV or our phones. It is so nice to not have a ton of huge photo albums sitting around. I love pictures, but we only looked at the hard copies once in a while.

       

I will post pictures of the RVs we like after we get back from Florida. 

 

Dry Tortugas National Park

The Dry Tortugas are seven islands located nearly 70 miles west of Key West. You can take the official concesionare ferry (the Yankee Freedom), a seaplane or your own boat to get there. Most visitors plan a day trip by ferry. The ferry costs about $175 per person, but check during the year for coupons. They sometimes give $25-$50 off. You should know, the Yankee Freedom ferry is very fast and several people were seasick on our trip. We took Bonine just in case and were fine. We stood out in the front of the ferry for most of the trip back and forth. I saw a huge sea turtle! You can also camp for $8 per night. The Yankee Freedom ferry will carry your gear for you. The campsites were pretty nice and some were shaded by trees. They were steps from a beautiful beach.

The Island you will visit on your day trip is Garden Key. Most of the island is taken up by Fort Jefferson. This fort was built from 1846-1875. It was built to protect an important shipping channel. In 1825 a lighthouse was built to warn vessels about the dangerous reefs. There are many shipwrecks all around the islands. The fort was also used as a prison during the Civil War. Audobon loved the islands for bird watching and Hemingway for sport fishing.

There were two tours offered of the fort. A 30 minute one and one that took an hour and 1/2. Craig and I just did a self guided tour. There are apps you can download for this. We toured the fort for about half an hour-45 minutes, got our national park stamps in the visitor center and then went snorkeling with our new masks! We rinsed off, changed and had lunch on the ferry. Then we went back out to take more pictures. I also got a new t-shirt in the gift shop. It takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to Garden Key by ferry. We left at 8am from Key West and got back about 5pm. We did not feel rushed, but would love to spend more time on the islands camping for our next trip.

It was a great visit and our 18th national park! Craig and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary and we had a wonderful time in the Florida Keys and the three Florida national parks. More posts about our Florida road trip soon!

The Precipice Trail-Acadia National Park


We had a great long weekend in Acadia National Park. One of the highlights was The Precipice Trail to the top of Champlain Mountain. The Precipice is an iron rung and ladder route up the steep cliffs along the east face.


Last year, we were not able to hike the Precipice  because the parking lot was packed. We did the Beehive instead. The Precipice is twice as long as the Beehive and harder. This year we took the park shuttle from Blackwoods Campground where we were staying with friends. It worked out great.


There is an 850 foot elevation gain up the trail and it takes about 1 and 1/2 hours if you go at a safe pace. Wear good hiking shoes and bring water. This hike/climb would be hard to do if you are afraid of heights! There are several exposed areas and narrow ledges. Sometimes you will have to wait on a ledge for others to climb. 

There are a few different trails you can take back down the other sides of Champlain Mountain.

I thought the Precipice Trail was amazing and challenging. I am glad we hiked when it was a cool 70 degree day out. It was definitely more like climbing than hiking. Have fun and be safe if you do The Precipice. Remember the trail is usually closed from March-August for Peregrine Falcon nesting.

Two New Books

I am reading two new books that I thought you all might enjoy. Here is the description for The Hour of Land:

“America’s national parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why more than 300 million people visit the parks each year. Now Terry Tempest Williams, the author of the environmental classic Refuge and the beloved memoir When Women Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, a literary celebration of our national parks, an exploration of what they mean to us and what we mean to them.

From the Grand Tetons in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas and more, Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making. Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, The Hour of Land is a meditation and a manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America.”

Under the Stars is both funny and interesting so far. It is a history of camping. Here is the book description:

“The definitive book on camping in America. . . . A passionate, witty, and deeply engaging examination of why humans venture into the wild.”―Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

From the Sierras to the Adirondacks and the Everglades, Dan White travels the nation to experience firsthand―and sometimes face first―how the American wilderness transformed from the devil’s playground into a source of adventure, relaxation, and renewal.

Whether he’s camping nude in cougar country, being attacked by wildlife while “glamping,” or crashing a girls-only adventure for urban teens, Dan White seeks to animate the evolution of outdoor recreation. In the process, he demonstrates how the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, Roosevelt, and Muir―along with visionaries such as Adirondack Murray, Horace Kephart, and Juliette Gordon Low―helped blaze a trail from Transcendentalism to Leave No Trace.

Wide-ranging in research, enthusiasm, and geography, Under the Stars reveals a vast population of nature seekers, a country still in love with its wild places.”

Check them out of the library like I did or look for them at the book store or on Amazon!