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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Whirlwind!

So it has been a whirlwind three weeks, but we are finally settling in. Our road trip down to Florida was beautiful even though it was rushed. I am so glad we saw Shenandoah, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Savannah and Charleston! I can highly recommend all of them. 



There were some hiccups along the way. We hit a huge pothole in NJ that cost us $400+ due to a back wheel issue. We could not fit in the Adams Inn’s reserved parking spot (actually an old, small garage) in DC, so had to drive on to Shenandoah. And Craig’s bike was stolen from Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground last night. Very aggravating since we use the bikes often. Scary since we were in the RV when the thief cut our cable lock and took it! 


They (Disney management) are giving us a golf cart for a few days until it is all sorted out, but looking at posts online it is an ongoing issue. Even the Magic Kingdom has fallen prey to thieves. Sad. 


Otherwise, we love the RV so far and have nearly everything set up the way we like it. Can’t wait to start applying to Yellowstone and Grand Teton jobs next week!


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.


Mysteries in Our National Parks Books

I just saw these mysteries mentioned on one of my Facebook groups and I thought they looked great for young adult readers. Heck, I might read some of them! If you are going on a national park road trip or vacation with kids, it would be fun to get them a few of these. Here are some descriptions from Amazon:

“In this fast-paced adventure, the Landons trail a wounded wolf in Yellowstone National Park. The park is abuzz with rumors of a wolf attack. Meanwhile, a killer stalks the woods. Unaware of the danger, Jack and Ashley are more concerned about rebellious teenage foster child, Troy Haverson. From the opening moments at Old Faithful through 48 action-packed hours, the tension builds: What is lodged in the wolf’s radio collar? And what is the meaning of the Native American story of Sin-a-Wavi? A heady mix of suspense, adventure, and moments of tenderness lure readers into this story of kids discovering the natural world. The book’s afterword, by Yellowstone’s Michael K. Phillips, explores the park’s Wolf Restoration Program.”

“The Landon family is Southbound—headed for Florida to investigate a mysterious illness plaguing endangered manatees in Everglades National Park. Jack, Ashley, and their friend Bridger soon find themselves in deadly waters with a seven-foot shark, an injured manatee—and a mystery to solve. Who was the stranger in the speedboat who snatched Jack’s camera? And what does he have to do with the manatees? Join the heart-stopping chase through a maze of mangrove islands to find out!”

“Life-threatening accidents keep plaguing the Landon family as they investigate the mysterious deaths of white mustangs at Zion National Park in Utah. Even before they get to the park, Jack Landon knows that Ethan Ingawanup spells trouble. Things start to go awry after Ethan and his sister—two Shoshone kids—are placed in the Landons’ care. The questions begin to mount after Ethan teaches Jack and Ashley the ancient Ghost Dance: Are all the hair-raising events just coincidental? Or is there some strange magic in the dance ritual? The answers await in the raging waters of a slick-rock canyon called The Narrows. The afterword by Lyman Hafen of the Zion Natural History Association discusses white mustangs and public lands in Utah.”

Enjoy, and let me know how they are!


We Finally Found a Truck.

I feel like we have been looking for a tow vehicle for such a long time now. Finding a truck was actually harder than finding a travel trailer! Diesel trucks are very expensive here in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire area. I would do 150 mile searches every few days. We also looked in Florida since that is where we will be registering the truck and RV and living off and on.

Since we bought the RV new, we  had to go with an older truck. New diesel trucks can be $75k! We wanted a Cummings, Duramax or old 7.3L Ford engine. There was one F350 with a 7.3L and a cap already on it that we liked, but it had a ton of rust when we went to look at it.  We nearly bought another F350 dually with a 7.3L engine in it. It was a beautiful truck and in great shape, but after checking the Car Fax we found out the odometer had been rolled back 100,000 miles! Pass.

A closer dealer had been emailing us truck info that might interest us when he got them in trade. Once GMC 2500 looked promising so we went to look at it this past weekend. We really liked the truck and it is in pretty good shape for an older vehicle. It has a Duramax 6.6L V8 Turbo and an Allison transmission-great combination. The dealer also took our old Monte Carlo in trade and knocked nearly $2,000 off the truck. This one drives much smoother than the F350’s. It is also much quieter. It does not have the crew cab that we liked, but the cats came for a ride in it yesterday to get their shots for the road and the extended cab worked fine.

Since we needed a cap to store our moving boxes in the truck bed, we looked on Craigslist. There was one cap that popped up in NH that seemed to be the same color and size as the GMC. It had been on an old Chevy. We decided to chance it and drove 45 minutes yesterday to take a look. It worked out great! The color is nearly the same, and after some adjusting, the cap will be a great fit. The guy selling it even had the clamps to hold it to the truck bed.

We are both so relieved to have the tow vehicle worked out. The dealer gave us a 30 day warranty, so it has been good to drive the truck around and see what might need to be done. They are going to replace the fuel gauge for us since that was acting up and got us a new spare tire. So far so good! Can’t wait to start our adventure in September. Now to price out a hitch…  


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.