Friday, January 27, 2012

You can't always get what you want (sing it with me!) but if you try sometimes...

I'm back obsessing about camping. I am reading the rv.net board. I am spending an inordinate amount of time on the Camping World website. And I am looking on and off for a new tow vehicle, probably a 2500 Suburban.

One thing I've done this year that I hope to repeat in the future is that I've been planning ahead more.

I booked our first campsite of the year for Memorial Day weekend, although we do hope to camp sooner than that. South Higgins Lake again, which is one of our favorite spots to visit. It's far enough that it feels like we made it "Up North," but not so far that it took us half the weekend to get there.

We're also planning a two-week trip to the Grand Canyon, with the trailer. I've got it all plotted out, with each stop scoped out, including which campground we should stay in. I spent some significant time on rvparkreviews.com and it sounds like I found some winners.

All I need to do now is actually ask for the time off from work. Minor detail.

I did start a little stash of things I've picked up for the trailer. Here are a couple of my favorites:

https://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/water-tank-filler-with-shut-off-valve/4674

http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/product/water-hose-entry-elbows/1532

Also got some cords to go around our hoses; cup hooks so we can hang some of our rods in the storage bin; and small plastic boxes to help organize our cupboards.

I also started a list of things we want to have Camping World install or do to the trailer before we pick it up, so that we don't have to spend four hours looking at trailers (gee, it's just torture!) while they work on ours:

* De-winterize
* Install vent covers in the bathroom and kitchen: http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/product/maxxair-ii-vent-covers/7047
* Install Oxygenics shower head; per rv.net poster, make sure it has a shutoff valve
* Install furnace and fridge vent screens
* Install gauges for the two propane tanks: http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/gaswatch-propane-level-gauge/55643
* Install curved shower curtain rod: http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/product/extend-a-shower-expanding-shower-rods/7591
* Fix bottom panel of screen door, which popped out last summer.
* Ask about greasing the hitch ball; someone suggested i cut a plastic cup down, put grease in it, and turn it up-side-down on the ball to grease it; or are there covers for the hitch ball?
* wash the outside of the trailer

It's the end of January. First camping trip last year was the first weekend of May. Should we try to beat that???

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My curent obsession: Health

What's taken camping's place this winter when I can't go camping in Michigan? A health kick.
It started with a return to tae kwon do. I'm officially training for my black belt. In order to build some muscle - and after reading a ton of online reviews - picked up Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD. Wowza.
Unfortunately, I overdid it with my bum shoulder and had to take a few breaks.
But I was soon back in the exercise saddle and have learned to keep away from things like planks and pushups. I just substitute some other exercises during those spots in the DVD and I've been able to keep it up so far with no re-injuries.
Because I was getting a little tired of the same routine, I did s'more research online and ordered Jillian's Ripped in 30. I like it even better than 30 Day Shred, even if I had a hard time keeping track of the similar titles at the beginning.
I like Ripped better mostly because Jillian spends a bit more time explaining moves. She also seems to switch them out more often than with Shred. And, more importantly, my knees don't hurt as much. I'm not sure if it's because I've built the appropriate muscles, but they just don't. They do still bother me, but it's a more tolerable, annoying pain. Before, I was having to take Aleve almost every day. Not so with Ripped.
As part of the current obsession, I'm also trying to eat a bit better. I'm not talking about all-organic, free-range chicken eating. But I am back to following the Eating for Life philosophy. Part of the Ripped plan includes a very nicely developed menu. Not one I can realistically follow, but I am trying some of the products Jillian recommends.
This week, it's PopChips and So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage.
First, PopChips: Where have you been all my life? Crunchy, tasty and abundant. I bought the bigger bag with three generous servings. Ate them as a snack with mango salsa. It's my new favorite snack. Jillian recommends eating the chips with cottage cheese, which I don't like. Need to find a protein I can eat with the chips, which are all natural and don't have any fat, but have about 20 grams of carbs.
Now on to the "coconut milk beverage." I'm still not ready to rate this product. What I can say is that it doesn't smell like almost anything, the consistency is similar to that of skim milk and it does have a bit of a coconut taste, but it's not strong at all. I used it instead of skim milk to make another favorite: a Yoplait Yogurt frozen smoothie, which I also doctor up with protein powder and Splenda. I couldn't tell the difference at all and may continue to use it instead of milk if I can find other uses for it. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Say it ain't so

They say all good things must come to an end and all that jazz. We're currently on our last camping trip of the season. Just DH and me. It's quiet. There are about 10 other sites with a plethora of domiciles – from a pop up that's seen better days to a gigantic, make your eyes pop out of your head gorgeous RV.

It's also cold. When we got to our campground just after lunchtime, it was 44 degrees. Feeling very blessed to have a very comfortable – and very warm – trailer with a functioning gas furnace in addition to my 20-below sleeping bag. And wool socks. And fleece jammies.

Looking back on the summer, we gave the trailer a workout. A cursory review of our on-board journal tells of s'mores eaten, bug spray cans exhausted and lots and lots of firewood burned. There's the first trip of the season when we found that our hybrid travel trailer bunk had a very serious leak. And the Upper Peninsula trip when DD11 ran across a girl she befriended the year before at the same campground. Then there are all the notes of even better campsites to be explored next year.

Looking back at the past month, I can't believe we didn't try harder to get out here. I got a new job. DH the teacher and all three kids went back to school. We got lazy.

I promise to do better next fall.

In the meantime, we're weatherizing the unit tomorrow. Emptying everything out over the next few days. And finding a spot for storage.

May all the memories we made this summer come tumbling out when we pick her back up next spring. And may there be no leaks or rodent infestations.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

P-I-Z-Z-A

There's camping and then there's "camping." With camping, we partake of the full experience. We bring the canoe, go fishing, have a glowing fire and roast marshmallows for s'mores. Yeah, we bring our laptops and other toys, but the focus is on the lake, taking long walks and and sometimes sightseeing.
This weekend, we partook of "camping." We drove to South Haven where we'd planned a beach day followed by a quick dinner and icecream. Storms, including so much water that there's now a pool of mud just outside our door instead meant a day inside, "relaxing." Our youngest and I made it to the tie-dye T-shirt activity, the swing set and a long walk with the dogs before the heavens opened up.
With a sea of mud outside our door and soaked fire wood, we instead ordered pizza from the camp store (we're at a KOA) and picked up the movie RV for later. Was that our plan? Not even close. Are we having fun yet? You betcha. We're together, we're fed and we're dry. What else can we ask for? Oh. Ice cream! Got some in the freezer, some waffle bowls and even some Magic Shell. Life. Is. Good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Are we there yet?

We've spent so much time in the trailer this summer that when we got home a couple of weeks ago from the Upper Peninsula trip, I tried to step on the front of the toilet to flush it. Now with two weekends in a row at our stick house, I'm having a bad case of camping withdrawal.
Spent about an hour this afternoon looking for campsites at a Michigan state park, but our favorites within a couple of hours of our house are booked solid. We could have tried something else, but I didn't have enough time to do proper research and just don't feel like taking a chance.
So...I booked us at the Covert/South Haven KOA for next weekend. We spent a few days there already this summer and found it to be a nice spot to relax while being close enough to Saugatuck to make the drive for some shopping, dinner and the prerequisite ice cream shop stop.
If you've not made the trip, please add it to your list. Saugatuck is very much a resort town with gorgeous views, high-end stores and, of course, a highly rated beach (Oval Beach). For fantastic pizza, check out Marro's Italian Restaurant; for a restaurant with a view, excellent service and good food, try the Mermaid Bar and Grille, which came recommended from friends who live in nearby Douglas.
If you're like us and just want to spend a few hours in town, work off your meal by taking a stroll on the boardwalk on the Kalamazoo Harbor, keeping your eyes peeled for interesting boat names and gleaming yachts. Or take a stroll to the seemingly endless amount of jewelry shops and boutiques.
If you've got more time, there's plenty to do. There's an 18-hole golf course nearby, designed by Arnold Palmer. Lots of boat and fishing tours. And sand dunes to be climbed.
But it's the arts that are probably the biggest draw. We've not visited, but there are theaters, art galleries and even a film festival.
In the end, the weekend is more likely to involve walks around the campground, potentially some swimming, definitely some swinging in the (albeit rather small) swing set, and my favorite: s'mores!