Tag Archives: RV living

The SPAM Museum and summer fun!

Well, we’ve spent the last three weeks hanging out in Forest City, Iowa waiting for repairs to our coach.  Arriving just before the July 4th holiday meant that we would have to wait with about 30 other coach owners for our turn and hope that somehow we would get in before all the employees left on holiday.

We watched our name move up on the waiting list, but unfortunately it did not move up fast enough.  We were going to be living in the Winnebago parking lot for the holiday weekend.  And maybe quite a bit longer…

So what to do?

Dave busied himself with repairs that he could do on his own.  Someone’s big butt broke the bed.  That person shall remain nameless.

With the parts department right across the parking lot, things were quite convenient.

I did a bunch of Face Timing with my little granddaughter…

And a bunch of wash…

And we both drove down to Clear Lake to catch the Fourth of July parade.  It was a beautiful day for a parade and a perfect way to make the best of our current situation.

So I did a bit of research to see what else is in the area.  I mean, you can’t go to Iowa without checking out the sites, right?  And about an hour north, just past the Minnesota state line, was something that we definitely needed to see.

The SPAM Museum!

Yes, SPAM is the undisputed king of mystery meat. Made of pig parts and secret spices, cooked in its own cans right on the assembly line, SPAM is an American institution!  And SPAM has its own museum right in Austin, Minnesota.

As you walk into the museum, you are met by a towering wall of SPAM, rising to the ceiling in the lobby.   Very impressive for mystery meat.

SPAM is made by the Hormel company, whose headquarters is also in Austin.  Spam was introduced by Hormel in 1937. At the time it was introduced, it was the only canned meat product on the market that needed no refrigeration.  That made it quite popular during World War II as a staple for the soldiers.

In the museum, you can find displays of vintage cans.  Did you know that Dinty Moore stew was created simply as a way to fill 500,000 empty cans?

A small theater, its doors shaped like the face of a grinning pig, screens a 15 minute SPAM video.

Or you can do what we did and read all the displays.  Lots of great old photos and anything and everything you ever wanted to know about SPAM.

The SPAM museum also has another claim to fame: It’s apparently a great place to get married! On April 25th, 2017, Mark Benson (who legally changed his name to Mark “I Love SPAM” Benson) married Ann Mousley at the SPAM Museum. They traveled all the way from Liverpool, UK to live out their dream wedding.

And I thought I was a bit strange.

Of course, we had to stock up on many flavors of SPAM.  We found them in the gift shop along with most any kind of SPAM souvenir that you could think of.

If you get a chance to get to Austin, Minnesota, be sure to check out the SPAM museum.  Admission is totally free.  And the SPAM, well it is worth the visit.

And finally the coach is repaired!  We are a bunch of happy campers!  We hit the road a few days ago, and are now heading to our job in Boston/Cape Cod.

Stay tuned for lots more!  Who knows.  Maybe they have weird food museums in New England too.

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Full Time RV Living- The Highs and Lows

Three days ago, we hit the road heading to our next destination, Boston/Cape Cod, MA.  It was a rainy day in Atlanta and was going to prove to be a rainy trip to our first stop in Gaffney, SC.  But we were headed out ahead of the tropical storm that would hit the gulf coast the next day.

Upon our arrival in South Carolina,  we discovered that the full wall slide will not go out. Apparently the motor has broken (for the second time in two years). This means that our roughly 400 square foot motorhome is now about half that size.  

Then I dropped an entire glass jar of pickles on the floor resulting in pickles and broken glass everywhere.  The final straw? We forgot Ralph’s insulin in Atlanta. 

We had to unhook the car (did I mention it is pouring rain?), go to Walmart for the insulin and then spend the evening trying to make my coach floor unsticky.

And to think we left this sweet thing to deal with faulty equipment, pickle juice and rainy Walmart runs.

This is our second issue with the slide mechanism on this coach.  Winnebago is aware of the problem.  Apparently the motor which operates the slide is too small for the weight of the full wall slide.  They have solution.  Which means a trip to Iowa to the Winnebago Industries facility.

So there you go.  Plans are changed instantly.  As full timers, we are getting used to the highs and lows of this lifestyle.  With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of those highs and lows in order to put this past experience into perspective.  I mean, at least we aren’t stranded on the side of the road, right?  (Knock on wood).

Let’s Start with the Lows

Broken Finger

living full time in a rvThis little incident that happened at our first campground of residence in Bar Harbor, ME.  Word to the wise, don’t wrap the leashes around your finger while walking the dogs.  You see, an errant squirrel can cause quite a bit of havoc.  One little 20 pound dog totally broke my finger.

Medical insurance is not what it used to be.  We are currently on Obamacare and with the latest changes and the fact that we have next to no selection for healthcare, we are limited to seeing only doctors in our home of record- Atlanta, GA.  That doesn’t help us much when we are dealing with a broken finger in Maine.

We ended up paying for this injury in full.  On the bright side, I have to say that the folks at the hospital in Ellsworth are amazingly friendly.

Bad Employment Experiences

two guns ghost town in arizona

With any job you have to expect that you are not going to get along with everyone.  There will be things you don’t particularly want to do.  There will be days that you won’t want to go to work and days where everything seems to go wrong.

More often than not, those experiences are balanced by good experiences, people that you love to work with, great employers, and beautiful places to work.

We have been lucky in the fact that in the two years that we have been on the road, we have only experienced one place that made us regret our decision to work there.  But I have to say that we learned a whole lot from that experience.

Pet Illness


Our dog Ralph has been through the ringer this past year.  In early 2016, he was diagnosed with bladder stones and diabetes.  He had surgery to remove the stones and then was put on insulin twice a day.

Learning to give him shots was pretty traumatic for both of us.  And getting his diabetes under control was a whole other issue.  It wasn’t long before he went blind.

After much thought, we opted for eye surgery to remove his cataracts.  It took months of recovery and a huge dent in our wallet, but Ralph can now see again, and his diabetes is under control.

Click here for a look at the Highs from the past two years

Taking a break in Georgia

It has been family time in Georgia for the past three months.  I cannot believe that time has passed so quickly.  When we showed up here at the end of March, there weren’t even leaves on the trees.

Now we are in mid summer.  The coach has been parked in my daughter’s driveway snug as a bug, waiting for us to take on our next adventure.  But I have to say that this adventure here has been exciting also!

I mean, just look at the nice backyard that we have gotten to enjoy this summer!

My daughter was concerned that we would have a bit of trouble getting used to living in a regular home for a few months.  So, they prepared a nice little apartment in the basement of their home for us.  We have been quite comfortable here.

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We have the coach right nearby if we need anything, and are able to plug the refrigerator into an outside outlet.  A perfect spot for a few months visit.

Of course, this post will be peppered with baby photos.  The main reason for our visit was our new granddaughter, Esme.  She was born on April 20.

Being grandparents has been a wonderful experience.  Esme is good-natured (with the exception of the occasional evening tantrum), and such a beautiful little girl.

We will miss her so much when we hit the road again.  Life changes sometimes make for even more life changes.  We will roll with it and be visiting Georgia much more often than we have in the past couple of years.

The great thing about our lifestyle is that we are (for the most part), free to decide where and when we will be living.

So what have we been doing these past three months besides loving on that baby?

Well, of course we needed to check out some of our local favorite places to eat.  I mean, you gotta eat, right?  There is nothing better on a hot Georgia day than a raspberry chocolate chip shake from Steak ‘N Shake.

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5 Things to think about before becoming a Full Time RVer

Living in a 400 square foot motor home isn’t for everyone.  When we made this decision about 2 years ago, we weren’t really sure what we were getting into.  All the planning for years in advance does not totally prepare you for the reality.  But we knew that any obstacles would be figured out on the fly.  I mean, you only live once, right?

So we jumped into it with both feet.  Now that two years are behind us, we are so glad we made this life-changing decision.  In an effort to keep things real and help out anyone else who is considering this lifestyle, here are 5 things to think about before you hit the road.

never say free on Facebook estate sale

Downsizing is pretty painful

In order to fit your life into 400 square feet, you have to decide which possessions you can and cannot live without.  Unfortunately, many of them will have to go, especially if your are a full timer that also sells their home like we did.  I have to say that many of our treasured belongings went to people that did not treasure them nearly as much as we did.

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As I talked about in my earlier post “Never Say Free on Facebook“, the hardest thing about simpler living is learning to let go.

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What can you live without?  Well, sometimes it takes a little time to know.  We packed the bottom of our coach with those things we could not part with such as vintage books, golf clubs, various craft supplies and fabric.  We have reached the point now that we will be going through those things again.  What we haven’t used in the two years on the road will find a new place to live.  Downsizing is hard, but it really is freeing.

mount washington new hampshire

Choose a coach with an all-weather package

Coaches are rated for living and traveling in various types of weather.  Unfortunately, that is something we did not know when we bought ours.  Ours is a bit shy on insulation and it really hates cold weather.  Which means that we spend a bit of time each year avoiding cold weather and just like the snowbirds, head south in the winter.

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Even so, places such as Tucson can get cold in the winter.  This year we purchased an electric radiator to help keep the chill out.  But we still have to worry about pipes freezing.

It is best to choose an all weather unit to ensure that it will hold up to temperature differences and be comfortable no matter where you are.

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Choose a RV that works for your lifestyle

I have to say that love our washer and dryer.  I would never want to have to hang out at the laundromat once a week like many of our coworkers do.   We also love the large storage area under the coach.

When planning to hit the road consider what is important to you.  What conveniences you really would love to have.  Because once you are out on the road, those things are not always as easy to come by.

Gadgets make life easier.  Be sure to check out my list of 10 Great Gadgets for the RVer.

Keep the clutter down to a roar

Living in tight quarters involves a bit of organization.  We have two people and two dogs in our coach.  Everything has a place.  Otherwise craziness will ensue.  I’m lying if I say that my RV is always organized, but each day I put in an effort to keep things down to a roar.

I am a professional crafter, and about half of the cabinets in our coach are designated for supplies.  Keeping things organized helps keep us both sane.

What is great is the fact that there is always that amazingly beautiful place right outside our front door to enjoy when things get a little tight inside.

visit to monument valley

Keeping in touch with the rest of the world

I’ll tell you now, most campground wifi is not worth the effort.  Occasionally, you will find a good one, but for the most part, there are too many people trying to access it, too many people trying to stream videos and not enough signal to compensate.

We use our own data most commonly, but that involves having a decent phone signal.  We have actually turned down jobs where a phone signal was not existent.  Because of my websites, this is one area where I cannot compromise.

While life on the road full time can be a major adjustment, we took the chance and have never looked back!

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12 Great ways to make a living on the road!

We often get asked how we support ourselves on the road.  Our answer up until now has been work camping and my website income.  I wanted to show you 12 more ways to make a living on the road.

Of course, we have cut our living expenses down simply by not owning a home any more.  Traveling as we do, our expenses include lot rent, insurance, our rv payment, food and spending.

You can lower your expenses even more by not having a rv payment, staying longer in one place, cooking at home and even boondocking (camping for free without water, electric or sewer connections) when you can. You really have a surprising control over your overhead.

But there will be overhead.

We chose this life to get away from the stress of a 40+ hour a week workweek.  We wanted to get away from the traffic, the crowds, the chaos and the strict time schedules and wanted to be healthy and stress-free.

Having the freedom to decide how much you want to work and how much free time you want is one of the biggest advantages of living the RV lifestyle.  And there are so many opportunities out there to take advantage of!  I have talked a bit about work camping (working in campgrounds in exchange for a site and/or pay), but let’s talk about some of the other things out there!

Our main sources of seasonal employment opportunities are websites such as:

Work at KOA
Workamper News
Coolworks
Workers on Wheels

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There are jobs to be found everywhere.  You won’t get rich, but you should be able to support yourself and your lifestyle on the road.   Seasonal and work from home positions are readily available if you look for them.

Here are some of the positions that we are considering for future:

Make a living as Guest services and maintenance at a resort ranch

Most resort ranches offer accommodations, hiking, water activities, horse back riding, fly fishing and often a full service restaurant.   Positions available are usually seasonal, but offer a full range of interesting opportunities depending upon where your interests may lie.  Often resorts will offer you pay along with room and board.  In some instances, they have their own mini rv parks to house some of their employees.

pemaquid lighthouse maine

Make a living Working at a lighthouse

Often this is a volunteer position, but there are instances where you can get paid as a park ranger.  As a lighthouse worker, you would be responsible for overseeing the lighthouse and keeping it secure during off season.  This job usually offers a place to stay on site (sometimes even a place for your coach).

Click here for more!

A Review of 2016 on the Road

We left Atlanta in April of 2015 for a life on the road.  Over the past nearly 2 years, we have enjoyed lots of great sights, met lots of fun people and experienced living in a 400 square foot “tiny home” with 2 dogs and one bathroom.

And this is just the beginning!

santa fe new mexico
Santa Fe, NM

We get asked a lot if we will ever settle down again in a regular home.  At this point in time, we have no plans for that.  We have absolutely no regrets.  We love our new roaming lifestyle and the fact that as we work-camp across the country, we get to actually experience each area as the locals do.

traveling in amarillo texas
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX

With the year 2017 on the horizon, I wanted to do a review of the past year on the road along with some of the trials and tribulations that went along with it.

Many ask about our financials, so I will go into that a bit, along with a few things we have learned and experienced as we traveled this year.

traveling in amarillo texas

Total Mileage this year

We began our year working in St. Petersburg, FL at the St. Petersburg KOA.  Our job ended there near the end of March.  Our next job would begin around May 1 in Williams, AZ, but we needed to make an extended stop in Atlanta due to health issues with our dog, Ralph.

route-to-atlanta

Our route took us to Orlando, a short pit stop in our favorite campground on Tybee Island, then onto Atlanta for a total of 633 miles.

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route to williams

We then traveled westward through Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and finally Williams, AZ, right near the Grand Canyon.  This was a total of  1,798 miles.

where-are-we

Our job in Williams ended on October 31 and our job in Tucson began on November 15.  We took the long way with a detour through Laughlin, NV and Lake Havasu City, AZ, adding another     520 miles.

Grand total miles on the coach for 2016 was 2,951 miles.

Click here for more!

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Life in Tucson

As full time RVers and work campers, we find ourselves moving with the seasons.  Most campgrounds hire for a six month long season.  You can work longer if you’d like as long as the campground is open all year.  Unfortunately, in the wintertime, most of the campgrounds in the northern section of the United States close due to inclement weather.

Our new home...
Our new home…

And not to mention, our coach has issues with below freezing temperatures.  In the future, we have learned that when buying a coach, you need to get what they call a “Polar Package”.  This includes not only heated floors, but extra insulation and a heated undercarriage.  These were things we didn’t think about at the time, and as usual, we learn the hard way.

With that said, we move to warmer weather just as the snowbirds do.  In fact, I guess that makes us snowbirds too!  LOL!

Our view from our front yard
Our view from our front yard

We find the majority of our work camping jobs on the internet and in May, we ran across an opening at the Lazy Days Tucson KOA for kitchen staff.  After several seasons of working the front desk, reservations and check ins, we decided we would love to have a small break.  So we applied.  I figured we would either love it or hate it, but either way- we only will be there through the winter.

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Sunset on the campground
Sunset on the campground

Why stay in Arizona?  Northern Arizona was absolutely beautiful with its pine forests and high mountains.  We wanted to also experience the desert of Arizona.  Tucson is located in southern Arizona very near the Mexico border.  Here we can experience the local desert, beautiful Saguaro forests, local Indian and Mexican influences, and much more.

Thanksgiving dinner at the KOA
Thanksgiving dinner at the KOA

We arrived here in the middle of November and enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving celebration with everyone on the campground.

Tucson KOA is a huge campground with around 500 sites.  Every site is gravel, with a poured concrete patio and and a small asphalt driveway for your vehicle.  And every single site has at least one fruit tree.

Click here for more!

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A little break from the real world at Lake Havasu

Our contract at the Williams Circle Pines KOA ended on Oct 31, and our new job at the KOA in Tucson began on Nov 15.  That gave us about 2 weeks to take a break as we make our way down to Tucson.

Bet you wondered what happened to us.  I’m a bit behind on my posting!

Over the summer, many of our guests had come from southern Nevada, Laughlin and Lake Havasu.  They had come to Williams to get a break from the heat as that area of the country sees triple digits all summer.  We decided that we would check out that area of the country in a round about way to Tucson.

rv-in-laughlin

Our first stop was the Laughlin Avi Casino KOA in Laughlin, Nevada.   Laughlin is located on the southernmost tip of Nevada along the Colorado river where Nevada, California and Arizona meet.   The town is known as a fun casino town.

where-are-we

It is about a half day drive from Williams.  And all down hill.  We went from over 7000 feet above sea level in Williams to about 500 feet above sea level in Laughlin.

laughlin-nevada

While we missed the heat of the summer, it was still nice and warm there.  I enjoyed sitting under the palm trees and working on my laptop in my beautiful new back yard.

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On our second day there, we took the London Bridge Jet Boat tour down the Colorado River from Laughlin to the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.

This is a great way to see the area from the water.  The trip takes about 2 hours to get to Lake Havasu City, you get a 2 hour break there to check out the bridge and grab a lunch, and then take the 2 hour ride back up the river.

And best of all, it was very affordable at about $70 a person.

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We really enjoyed the boat tour and our tour guide was incredibly informative.  Check out the green tint of the water behind Dave.  It was really that green!  Apparently from minerals in the water.

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Autumn in Northern Arizona

We we planned our move to Arizona for the summer, the last thing I was expecting was to see beautiful leaves in the fall!  It’s a desert, right?

Wrong.

autumn in northern arizona

Depending upon the altitude, Northern Arizona is a mix of tall pines and hardwoods such as Aspens.  So with Fall in full bloom, we took advantage of a few days off and checked out the local foliage at the San Francisco Peaks.

A perfect way to say goodbye to this beautiful part of the country.

autumn in northern arizona

You see, we will be heading out of Williams this week and on to our next destination.  Time flies when you are having fun, right?

bear-warning

And there appears to be bears in the vicinity!  Who knew?

All this time we have been here, the only wildlife that we have come across besides those animals at Bearizona and the petting zoo was the occasional Abert Squirrel!

autumn in northern arizona

Luck was with us and we actually got photo bombed!

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But seriously.  It has been an amazing experience here.

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Lot’s of things are happening at the Circle Pines KOA as we finish out the season.  They erected  a new huge sign for the entranceway.  Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

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We spent this past week telling all of our friends and coworkers goodbye.  Starting a season can be exciting, but finishing one out can be sad. We may run into some of our friends again along the road.  It is a small world after all.

But part of being a seasonal worker is making new friends along the way.

So what have we been doing these past few weeks besides checking out leaves and saying goodbye to our friends?

plumbing-problems

Well, there were plumbing issues.  Seems that we should have named our coach “Always Something”.  Fortunately, Dave and Ralph had it handled in no time.

canine-diabetes-cataract-surgery

And speaking of Ralph.  His diabetes has not been under control. About 3 months ago, he suddenly lost his vision.  The local vet recommended a specialist down in Phoenix.  We had to mull it over a bit as the cost was pretty high.

One of Ralph’s favorite past times is sitting in the window watching the squirrels.  When his eyesight deteriorated, not only was he running into things, but his demeanor changed.  He became depressed and not his normal self.

We were told that we had to get the diabetes in check before they could do anything about his eyes.  So, we spent the last few months keeping him on a strict prescription diet and having his glucose levels checked weekly.

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On October 5, we finally were able to get the surgery done.  Ralph had two new lenses put in his eyes.

Yep.  We bit the bullet and spent the money.  Ralph is one of the family after all.

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Recovery from the surgery takes about 6 weeks total.  And for many of those weeks, we had to keep him in the “cone of shame” full time.  This meant that I had to hand feed him.  And he had to learn how to get around with that huge cone on his head.

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A few weeks ago, we finally got to see his big brown eyes again.  I think he is really enjoying the fact that he can see his old nemesis  the Abert Squirrel.

He has a few more weeks of recovery, but he can already see better than I can.

sunset-in-williams-arizona

So that has been our last month in Williams.  Saying goodbye, fixing problems with the coach and helping Ralph recover from surgery. Oh, and I’m putting together a video of our season here.  I should have it ready this week.  So stay tuned.

We will be leaving the area this week and heading onto Laughlin, NV and Lake Havasu City for a short break before we go to our next job in Tucson, AZ.  I have to say that we will both miss the Williams area.

And who knows, maybe we will come back one day!  It totally could happen.

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Of hail storms, tumbleweeds and crazy looking squirrels…

We have been here in the high desert about three months now.  Time is certainly flying by!  We are half way through our season at the Circle Pines KOA in Williams, AZ already.

I want to talk about a few unusual things that we have discovered here in this beautiful place.  Things like extreme weather,  tumbleweeds and funky squirrels.

Oh my!

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Northern Arizona was really not what we were expecting.  Having never been to Arizona before, I figured we would be living in a desert.  And true to form, much of Arizona is just that.  But the towns of Williams and the Flagstaff area sit at about 7300 feet above sea level.

And that makes all the difference in the world!

williams arizona

At such high altitude, we often have folks showing up at the campground with altitude sickness.  It takes at least three days for your body to adjust.

You also have to think about things such as adding flour to your baking recipes and the fact that water boils much slower.

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But I’d have to say that the biggest thing to get used to was the quick and dramatic changes of weather that are so common here in the high desert.

Monsoon Season

sedona storm clouds

When visiting the town of Sedona a few weeks ago, we took a bunch of photos of the beautiful rock formations and the gathering clouds behind them.  It was in the 80’s that day.  Sunny and warm.

And then we went into a restaurant to have lunch.

sedona storm clouds

We came out to several inches of pea sized hail and temperatures in the 60’s!  Freak storm?  Hardly.

It seems that at this altitude, these types of storms are quite common.

sedona hail storm

Especially during the Monsoon season of mid July through August.  Most days are sunny and temperate.  Most afternoons are full of interesting surprises.

We are right in the clouds.  Thunderstorms can be very dangerous.  The weather here can kill those that do not properly respect it.

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