Best Places To Visit In Pensacola, FL

Pensacola, located in the panhandle of Florida, offers a rich history that dates back 450 years. Its 18 miles of sugar-white sand beaches bordered by the emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico have lured visitors from all parts of the globe annually to its pristine shores.

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The white sandy beach in Pensacola, Florida. Photo by Tobin on Flickr

Where to stay in Pensacola

For RVers visiting the area, the family owned and operated Pensacola RV Park is a great choice. This pet-friendly facility offers 67 sites with 23 large pull-through spaces and full hookups.

Amenities include 30/50 amp electrical, sewer, water, showers, a laundromat, kitchen facilities, Wi-Fi throughout the park, cable TV at each site, and a peaceful park setting with no road noise. In addition to nearby beaches, a quality golf course is just down the road.

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Pensacola RV Park. Photo via TripAdvisor

Golfing in Pensacola

Dubbed by many as the best golf course in the Florida Panhandle, A.C. Read Golf Club is also a member of the Florida Historic Golf Trail. Located at the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Escambia County, this venerable course offers terrific views along Bayou Grande.

Naval Air Station Pensacola is known as the “Cradle of Naval Aviation” and occupies more than 5,000 acres. In 1942, NAS Pensacola constructed an 18-hole golf course to provide recreational activity for the soldiers stationed there.

The golf course is named in honor of Albert Cushing Read, an avid golfer and graduate of the first aviator class at Naval Air Station Pensacola in 1915.

Today, the A.C. Read Golf Club is still a challenging golf course in a beautiful setting. The public 27-hole golf complex features three 9-hole tracks—Bayou, Lakeview, and Bayview, which are played in 18-hole combinations.

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A. C. Read Golf Club

Each 9-hole course features three sets of tees playing from 2,600 to 3,200 yards and the 18-hole combinations play from 5,400 to 6,600 yards.

The A.C. Read Golf Club also includes an 18-hole, par-60 executive golf course featuring three sets of tees playing from 4,000 to 4,300 yards. The original 18-hole golf course has been incorporated into portions of the entire golf complex.

Attractions in Pensacola

After a round of golf or walk on the beach, explore the National Naval Aviation Museum, also on the grounds of the NAS Pensacola. Set on 37-acres, the National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest naval aviation museum.

You can experience hands-on history, and see more than 4,000 artifacts and 150 beautifully-restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard aviation. Visitors can experience the thrill that pilots do by strapping into a flight simulator.

The Giant Screen Digital Theater provides amazing life-like thrills. The National Naval Aviation Museum also offers a café and Flight Deck Store for souvenirs.

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National Naval Aviation Museum. Photo via Facebook

Admission is free to the museum, which offers 350,000 square feet of indoor exhibition space. For civilians wishing to visit the museum, proper identification is required to gain access. Details are available on the National Naval Aviation Museum website.

Adjacent to the museum is the historic Pensacola Lighthouse, which was built in 1859. Take all 177 steps to the top for one of the Gulf Coast’s most dramatic views.

Also located on the Naval Air Station Pensacola is Fort Barrancas. Part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fort Barrancas is a beautifully preserved brick fort that overlooks Florida’s Pensacola Bay.

Naval Live Oaks is also part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore This reservation is the first and only federal tree farm designed to reserve the valuable live oaks desired by shipbuilders in the 1800s.

Annual activities

If visiting Pensacola in July or November, be sure to look skyward as the famous Blue Angles will be practicing and performing.

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Blue Angels performing. Photo via Facebook

An estimated 15 million spectators view the squadron during air shows each year as the F/A-18 fighter jets reach speeds of nearly Mach 2, almost twice the speed of sound, or about 1,400 mph. The Blue Angels official title is the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron.

During spring and summer, minor league baseball can be experienced at the Blue Wahoos Ballpark, home of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

Santa Rosa Island is a must-visit any time of year. This stretch of sugary, white sand beach is peaceful beyond comprehension. You will feel yourself relaxing with every step in the warm sand. This uncrowded sliver of an island stretches 35 miles along the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s waiting for you!

For a comprehensive overview of the greater Pensacola area, check out www.visitpensacola.com.

Rick Stedman is an avid golfer, RVer, and writer who lives in Olympia, Washington. Rick writes a weekly golf blog, The 19th Hole, for RV LIFE. You can reach him at rstedman@gmail.com.

See also: 15 Scenic Places To Camp Along The Gulf Coast



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Tips For New RVers And Seasoned RVers

New Years is a time to reflect back upon the year that has passed and a time to anticipate what the coming year holds. I have been writing this blog for over ten years and as I reflect on the hundreds of thousands that have read my blog entries over those years, I really have no idea who my readers are.

Are you old, young, male, female, longtime RVers, just entering the lifestyle, live in the west, live in the east, maybe you live abroad, pet owner, some may just be looking for interesting places to travel? I suspect there is a mix of everyone I just listed.

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Boondocking in the sun. Photos via author

As I shared in my last post, I have been camping and enjoying the RV lifestyle my entire life. I can remember the days before RVs had gray tanks, you didn’t need a battery to operate your furnace or refrigerator, and most travel trailers were pulled by cars.

On the RV industry side of the equation, I have held every position in an RV dealership other than bookkeeping (my wife handled that end of things), so I understand how the industry (sales and service) works, its strengths and weaknesses.

In those ten years that I have been blogging, millions of new RVs have been purchased, some by those already enjoying the RV lifestyle and others just joining in the fun. While I don’t have statistics to confirm it, I bet there have been over a million first time RV owners during that time.

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Author speaking at FMCA Convention

That said, I would love to help my readers (whoever you are—old, young, seasoned, or new to the RV lifestyle) reach your New Year’s RV resolutions by addressing items you are looking to tackle in the months to come.

Maybe it is camping more often, being a better dry camper, finding out-of-the-way places to explore, keeping certain parts of your RV maintained, what type of RV is best for me, etc.

Please use the comment box at the bottom of the page to give me a rough idea of who you are and what you would love to hear about in future blog posts.

While it is unlikely I can respond to everyone’s request, I will do my best to write entries that address the subjects I am qualified in and of interest to many. Hope to hear from you soon and may your New Year hold many adventures in RVing!

See also: 5 Free Resources For Your New Year’s Resolutions



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DIY Airstream Kitchen Remodel – Vintage Airstream Argosy Renovation

One of my favorite elements of our Airstream Argosy renovation is our Airstream Kitchen Remodel. I had this dream of a big beautiful butchers block countertop that extended from our kitchen to make a bar table that we could eat and work at.

In our Fiber Stream, the dinette turned into the bed so we could never have both at once and very often would just eat and work in bed to avoid the hassle of breaking down the bed and finding some place to store the heavy mattress toppers. It was such a pain… I wanted a working/eating area to be a priority in our new home on wheels so I worked the layout over and over and over again until we ended up with this –

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We stayed pretty true to the model, except the shower and toilet swapped sides for plumbing reasons, I moved the sink to where the stove is, so it would be under the window and the little fridge by the door is actually a floor to ceiling structure with a bigger fridge. We’ll also be adding cabinets over the couch or what I refer to as “the reading nook” to expand storage. I knew I wanted these at the time but they blocked visibility in the design, so I left them out. Also, the glass door separating the bathroom actually a cool vintage door we found.

The long counter is a pretty key feature in this design, so I had to find the perfect counter top. I had the idea of getting a 10ft butchers block counter top and staining it a dark walnut color and sealing it up really well with some kind of urethane product to waterproof it. This means it’s not food safe and you can’t cut directly on the countertop, but I never intended to do that in the first place. If you want a butchers block you can cut on, you need to leave off the stain and seal it with a food grade conditioning oil and re-apply frequently.

I found the size butchers block I needed on the Home Depot website but between the cost of the counter and shipping, it left very little in our budget for the Airstream kitchen sink and faucet. I was so bummed, but we are trying to be cost effective and it just didn’t make sense. We ended up finding exactly what we wanted at a home discount supply store near us. We happened upon a whole pile of butchers block counters in different sizes and we ended up saving around $240! I was beyond thrilled.

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Next, we carefully cut out the holes for the sink and strove. Then, we stained it with 3 coats of Varathane Dark Walnut stain and let it dry thoroughly. We waited about an hour between coats and 24hrs to fully dry before sealing. When it comes to the sealing part we first tried a triple thick polyurethane and that ended up being a total fail. It was impossible to apply evenly and it left tons of streaks. We sanded that down as even as possible and went over it with two coats of Helmsman Spar Urethane. It applied in a nice even coat and turned out perfectly!

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All that was left was to secure it down with brackets and install our beautiful black sink and faucet and our shiny new Dometic stove. Everything is plumbed up and we have running water, but we have to install the propane lines. It’s all coming together quickly and we’ll have cabinets finished by the end of the month!

It’s so exciting to see our vision finally come to life and we couldn’t have gotten so much done so quickly if our friends Tom and Cait of Mortons on the Move, hadn’t come down and helped us out for the past month and a half. We’re so grateful to have such amazingly kind and hard working friends. We thoroughly enjoyed sharing this process together and the lifelong memories we created!

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All-Electric Motorhome Coming to the RV Marketplace in 2019

Climate change forecasts grow more dire by the day. But a new all-electric motorhome could shine a bright spot in the bleakness when it hits the European marketplace in early 2019.

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The Iridium all-electric motorhome. Image: EFA-S & WOF.

The RV of the Climate Change Age: Iridium, the All-Electric Motorhome is Here

By the time you read this article, a real world all-electric motorhome will be on its way to the January 2019 CMT travel trade show in Stuttgart, Germany.

The exciting clean energy breakthrough in the European campervan industry is the result of a partnership between two German automobile companies, WOF and ElektroFahrzeuge Stuttgart (EFA-S). Both are known for their work in the country’s robust electric vehicle marketplace. The campervan’s electric-powered chassis is built by WOF, while the drivetrain and battery technology is made by EFA-S. Swiss RV designer, Maurer Fahrzeugbau built the RV body. The end result is a sleek motorhome that’s a leap forward in the clean energy vehicle marketplace.

Images of the interior won’t be released until after the January reveal. But this promotional video of a conceptual solar-powered RV design highlights what Iridium’s European-style living quarters might look like:

Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries: the Electric RV Breakthrough

Until now, the biggest obstacle in creating an all-electric motorhome has been wind. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to move a heavy, tall vehicle at 65 miles per hour. A RV’s wind resistance places a huge load on batteries. This limits most large electric vehicles to a short driving range, typically under 100 miles of travel before they need recharging.

The Iridium all-electric motorhome will be different. Each is powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries (the same type used in Dometic’s new portable PLB40 battery). Don’t confuse lithium iron phosphate batteries with lithium ion batteries.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries are the new kid on the block. They weigh less, are more efficient than lead acid batteries, have a longer life expectancy, and require less maintenance than old-school lithium ion batteries. This video explains more lithium iron phosphate battery advantages:

Meanwhile the Iridium RV has a travel range of about 125 miles — for now. Company representatives say that rapidly changing developments in the RV battery marketplace will give buyers’ driving range a boost in in the near future.

“Iridium customers can benefit from the fact that battery capacity is rapidly increasing,” says EFA-S Managing Director Bastian Beutel in the press release. “The same vehicle can, therefore, more than double its range in the near future with the same battery weight by replacing the battery”.

Travel distances aren’t as much of a problem in the densely populated areas inside Europe. Thankfully, Iridum buyers won’t need to worry too much about where they recharge the batteries. Each of these units comes with an integrated charger. This component enables owners to charge batteries anywhere from campgrounds to electric vehicle charging stations.

Meanwhile Across the RV Pond  . . .

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Winnebago’s experimental all-electric motorhome.

Back in the States, Winnebago is currently toying with their version of an electric specialty motorhome vehicle. The experimental RV is so new it doesn’t even have a name yet, but Ashis Bhattacharya, Vice President, Strategic Planning and Development, and leader of the Specialty Vehicles Division, says this is just the first step in a marketplace Winnebago will be a part of. “We believe that all-electric vehicle applications continue to evolve to serve numerous end-user needs and this is our first step as a participant in this space,” says Bhattacharya.

 



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RV Resorts For Ages 55 And Older, Senior RV Parks

Some RVers prefer a more quiet setting without kids running around everywhere. These 55-and-older RV parks are dedicated to traveling seniors and they have some fabulous amenities.

1. Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Seniors and snowbirds love Southern New Mexico for its sunny year-round weather. This RV park is ideally located in Las Cruces with easy access to Interstate 10, I-25, and US-70.

View from Sunny Acres. Photo via TripAdvisor

The resort is 12 acres large and has 40-foot-wide spaces with full hookups. You’ll appreciate the wide gravel roads, laundry room, restrooms, and meeting room facilities. Discounts are available if you’re a member of AAA, AARP, Good Sam, or Escapees.

2. Waters Edge RV Resort, Punta Gorda, Florida

Southern Florida is another hot spot for senior RVers. Waters Edge RV Resort is a popular favorite for its central location between Sarasota and Fort Myers in Punta Gorda.

Waters Edge RV Resort. Photo via Facebook

The resort surrounds a 20-acre fishing lake with over 100 RV sites for rent and for sale. They have activities planned throughout the year; from November through March, the events range from golf and water aerobics to game nights and Bingo.

The community comes together to celebrate events like Thanksgiving dinner, a Super Bowl party, and even a cribbage tournament. If you’re staying long-term, join them on an organized trip like dinner theater, a ladies’ luncheon, fishing, casino trips, or cruises.

3. Voyager Resort & RV Park, Tucson, Arizona

Voyager Resort is a quick stop off I-10 near Tuscon with over 1,500 spaces for RVs. The gated RV park has full hookup sites as well as park homes and hotel rooms.

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Voyager RV Resort. Photo via TripAdvisor

The resort has their own bar and grill, 9-hole golf course, and heated pools. They also have outdoor sports like pickleball, volleyball, tennis, shuffleboard, and horseshoe pits.

4. Venture In RV Resort, Show Low, Arizona

A scenic drive north of Tucson will lead you to this resort in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona. The RV park is at 6,300 feet in elevation and opens seasonally from May through October.

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Venture In RV Resort. Photo via RV Park Reviews

Some of the best trout fishing in the state is within a half-hour drive. Their facilities include a game room, laundry, a clubhouse, library, and access to bike and hiking trails.

5. Lakewood RV Resort, Flat Rock, North Carolina

Lakewood Resort lies off Interstate 26 in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Their large shaded sites include full hookups, concrete patios, picnic tables, and WiFi. Discounts are offered for members of AAA, Good Sam, FMCA, and for seniors.

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Lakewood RV Resort. Photo via Facebook

They also have a clubhouse, a large heated swimming pool, a catch and release fishing pond, and a dining area with a full kitchen. The resort is a quick drive to downtown Hendersonville, the local Cracker Barrel, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

6. Caliente Springs Resort, Desert Hot Springs, California

This mineral springs resort in the hot and dry California desert is a true oasis. Caliente Springs Resort has hot tubs you can soak in along with matchless views of the San Jacinto Mountains.

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An aerial view of Caliente Springs Resort. Photo via Facebook

Their sites are big-rig friendly and have full hookups and spacious patio pads. Cable TV and WiFi are available as well as laundry facilities, a clubhouse, and a couple of grassy, fenced dog areas.

7. Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, Casa Grande, Arizona

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort is minutes from Interstate 10 and the Sonoran National Monument.  They have over 2200 RV sites, park homes, and activities to keep you busy all winter.

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort. Photo via Facebook

You can play pickleball, tennis, billiards, or a round of golf on their 18-hole course. Afterward, cool off in one of their three swimming pools or Jacuzzis and soak in the mountain views. They also have card games, lawn bowling, and special events planned every week.

8. Mesa Spirit RV Resort, Arizona

Mesa Spirit RV Resort is about an hour north of Palm Creek Resort in Old Town Mesa. They have over 1,800 full hookup sites as well as park models for rent and for sale.

Mesa Spirit Resort. Photo via Facebook

They host seasonal activities and amenities including a pool, fitness center, and laundry room. The historic town has lots to see and do including Mesa Grande Cultural Park and Papago Park.

9. Olde Mill Stream RV Resort, Umatilla, Florida

Central Florida has year-round sunshine and close access to big-name attractions like Disney World. Olde Mill Resort is about an hour north of Orlando with 427 sites, each with a concrete pad, picnic table, and full hookups.

Olde Mill Stream RV Resort. Photo via Facebook

The landscaped resort has mature trees, grass, shrubs, flowers, and lampposts that light up after dark. The Rec Hall and Clubhouse house their laundry room, billiards and more. They’re within a day drive of attractions like Disney World, Universal Studios, and Gatorland.

10. Mission Bell RV Resort, Mission, Texas

In Southern Texas, Mission Bell Resort is only minutes from the US-Mexico border. Their amenities range from two saltwater heated pools to a dog park and a pet wash station.

Mission Bell Resort. Photo via Facebook

Guests can also make full use of their laundry room, picnic areas, and library. Their current activity schedule lists a little something for everyone from Bingo and potlucks to quilt making and cribbage.

11. Pegg’s Adult RV Park, Long Beach, Washington

The Long Beach Peninsula is a scenic stretch of the Washington Coast. One of the most popular age-qualified resorts on the peninsula is Pegg’s Adult RV Park in Oceanside. From your campsite, it’s an easy walk through the dunes to reach the sandy ocean beach.

Pegg’s Adult RV Park

Long Beach claims home to the longest continuous beach in the country that you can drive on (at 28 miles). This area has lots of museums and local shops and restaurants, and every August they host the International Kite Festival. I highly recommend visiting the wacky and wonderful Marsh’s Free Museum to see Jake the Alligator Man, their quirky gifts, and antique coin-operated machines.

12. Uncompahgre River RV Park, Olathe, Colorado

Uncompahgre RV Park lies on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains. The riverside park is only about a half-hour from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and makes a perfect home base while you hike and explore the area.

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Uncomprahgre River RV Park. Photo via Facebook

If you’re not bringing the RV, you can rent one of their cabins or luxury alpine fifth wheels. They have local artistic wooden sculptures throughout the park as well as a pond and a book exchange.

13. Tropic Winds RV Resort, Harlingen, Texas

Tropic Winds RV Resort is less than an hour from South Padre Island on the Gulf Coast. The resort includes over 500+ RV sites along with a swimming pool and spa, fitness center, and a clubhouse.

Gorgeous sunset at Tropic Winds RV Resort. Photo via TripAdvisor

The RV park is open all year with daily, weekly, and monthly sites available. You can learn more about Tropic Winds Resort on RV Park Reviews.

14. 81 Palms Senior RV Resort, Deming, New Mexico

You don’t have to venture far off I-10 to reach 81 Palms Resort in Deming. The senior resort has 106 long pull-thru sites with full hookups and access to their community amenities. They have spotless restrooms and hot showers, an indoor heated swimming pool, coin-operated laundry, and a pet run.

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81 Palms Senior Resort. Photo via website

They’re a quick drive to a few state parks including Rock Hound, City of Rocks, and Pancho Villa State Parks. The town of Deming also has some great local shops and a historical museum to browse.

15. Sunflower Resort, Surprise, Arizona

North of Phoenix, Sunflower Resort offers RV parking in addition to resort-style amenities. They have a swimming pool and spa, a Tiki patio bar with Happy Hour, an on-site salon and spa, and various activities like water aerobics, ping pong, tennis, and pickleball.

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Sunflower Resort. Photo via Facebook

The resort is close to a golf course, as well as the NHL Phoenix Coyotes arena and NFL Arizona Cardinals Stadium at the nearby Glendale Sports Complex. If you plan on boating or fishing, you can easily reach Lake Pleasant about a half-hour north.

You may also like 8 Luxurious Resorts For Class A Motorhomes & Other Big Rigs



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Building a Custom Airstream Bed

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Building a custom Airstream Bed doesn’t have to be hard!

We have been renovating our 1979 Argosy Airstream so completely, that its essentially a new trailer. The only thing original is the frame and the aluminum skins. We designed our layout to have a front bed and rear bath. This meant building a bed frame around the front curve, over the water tank (which is actually original too now that I think about it) and with lots of room for storage underneath.

I’m no woodworker, so this is a simple design, nothing fancy, but super functional. I started with a simple sketch to come up with the general design and then I just went for it. I used 1×2’s and 2×2’s for the whole frame so its pretty lightweight too! I used 1×2’s for all the supports along the floor that I would be screwing into and 2×2’s for anything that would be bearing weight.

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I decided I wanted to add 4 cubbies to the front that could be accessed without lifting the Airstream bed, I measured a storage basket I liked the size of and made the cubbies 14″ H x 14″ W x 16″ L.

This is slightly bigger than the actual basket and gave a little wiggle room for taking it in and out.

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After I measured everything out on the floor (accounting for the 1.5″ width of the 2×2 framing between each cubby) I started framing it out. I just used wood screws to assemble everything but I hear a pocket jig is a wonderful tool. I’m hoping to acquire one for Christmas.

The most challenging part was measuring the angles for the supports connecting the corners. I just traced the angle underneath and put the table saw to the widest angle and used spacers of scrap wood between my piece until I got to the “right” angle.

After the frame was finished I created a template from kraft paper to cut the plywood pieces for the top. There will be a hinge connecting the two pieces and we will purchase a bed lifting kit to easily lift the bed up to access storage once the mattress is on top. We left all that off in the meantime to have better access for plumbing.

Pro tip for those who are a bit more frugal like us – For areas of flooring that won’t be seen regularly, you can get inexpensive rolls of vinyl flooring from Home Depot and Lowes. We got a scrap roll for $24!

We saved a lot of money this way, and significantly reduce weight. Our nicer heavier duty vinyl tongue and groove planks are beautiful, but they can get heavy and pricey, so we save that for all the visible and high traffic areas.

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I finished off the cubbies by cutting some thin plywood paneling  to create walls and a bottom. I still need to add the hinge to the bed, the lifter arms and some trim around the cubbies to give it that finished look, but River seems to approve the new Airstream bed so far!

For the Mattress, we plan to buy an 8-10 inch memory foam mattress and use a bread knife or electric carving knife to cut the curves out. We will use the front plywood piece of the bed platform as our template before we screw it down.

We’ll let you know how that goes in a future post!

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How To Make A Swedish Torch For A Campfire Using One Log

A Swedish torch (also known as a Swedish candle, Swedish fire log, or Schwedenfackel) is a very practical alternative to a traditional campfire.  With a little prep work, they are easy, efficient, and require little resources and little tending.

They are particularly nice if you are winter camping, have wet ground, or a limited supply of firewood.  If you are the kind of person who enjoys cooking over a campfire, a Swedish torch makes for a very easy cooking heat source with directional heat and a quick start (versus waiting until coals cook down).

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A Swedish Torch is a great way to have a campfire during the winter (Photo by TC Wait)

The Swedish torch dates back to the early 1600s when Swedish soldiers used them as heat and light sources and for cooking during the Thirty Years’ War.

The Schwedenfackel—a medieval term—were used to conserve firewood that was scarce and heavy to haul.  One log would last several hours, burning from the inside outward and requiring little tending.

The Finnish Raappanan Tuli fire is very similar, but uses a log cut only in half, requiring a larger diameter log for stability.

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The chainsaw method for building a Swedish Torch (Photos by TC Wait)

To make your own, start by being sure you are in an area where it is OK to have a campfire and no current fire restrictions or bans are in place.  Be sure you have good fire safety procedures and tools available.  Find a safe ground location and clear all other flammable material well away.

  • Find a dry, seasoned log about 2 feet long and a decent diameter (at least 6 inches or so). Green wood (recently cut) won’t work as there is too much moisture in the wood to keep the fire going.
  • Make sure the ends of the log are flat. This gives a stable base to the log and a flat surface for cooking.
  • Using a chainsaw*, cut lengthwise down the center of the log making 2-3 slices as you would cut a pie into quarters or sixths. Do not cut all the way through the end of the log; leave about six inches at the bottom uncut to hold the slices in place.

*Note:  If you don’t have a chainsaw or wish to be more of a historical purist, you can also use an ax and cut the log into wedges, then reassemble the log using a piece of wire around the circumference to secure the pieces.  The Swedish soldiers in the 1600s did not have chainsaws, after all.

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  • Situate the log in the location you want it to burn. You can dig the log into the ground a few inches if you need additional stabilization.  If you will be cooking on the log, make sure the top is flat.
  • Start a small fire using tinder on top of the center part of the log. Continue to tend this fire with small bits of kindling until coals start to form and fall into the center of the log.
  • You can use a stick to poke the fire down into the center as it burns, just take care not to block air flow through the wood.  You can help it along by blowing gently through the cracks in the lower part of the log to get the chimney effect going for optimal airflow.
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Build a small fire using tinder and kindling on top of the log to start it burning. (Photo by TC Wait)
  • Keep feeding the fire kindling in the log until the log catches and starts burning on its own. The log will continue burning from the inside and out the top.
  • Once the inside starts burning, you may see flames shoot out of the top of the log like a candle.
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As the log catches fire, it will burn from the inside out over several hours. (Photo by TC Wait)
  • Get out the cast iron skillet, Dutch oven, or teapot and cook your meal while you enjoy the pleasant heat and light produced by your Swedish torch!  As with any open fire cooking, don’t forget a lid for your cookware unless you are ok with some fire ashes in your dish.
  • Depending on the type of wood, how big around, and how dry your log is, it should keep burning on its own 2-4 hours without needing to be tended.

Remember to be sure to extinguish your fire completely (out COLD) when you are done enjoying your fire!  Happy camping!

See also: The Benefits Of A Portable Propane Campfire



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Gifts We’re Thankful For This Christmas: RVer Family Traditions

I was born into a family that was part of the fledgling travel trailer business. I grew up washing trailers, fixing trailers, ordering parts for trailers, managing different departments of my parents RV dealership and eventually, with my wife, owning an RV dealership of our own.

Three generations of RVers. All photos via author

While many wouldn’t consider washing RVs year-round (rain and cold) a gift, I wouldn’t have appreciated moving up in the world if I hadn’t started at the bottom.

As I reflect on that gift I am reminded of many other things that I am thankful for, and as I ponder them I realize they are also gifts I did little to earn or deserve. Let’s take a look.

1. The gift of RVing with my parents and siblings as a child.
2. The gift of a wonderful woman, that would become my wife, that also camped as a child. In fact, our honeymoon was spent traveling in a 27-foot Airstream trailer!
3. The gift of camping with my children as they grew up.
1985: My wife and daughter camping at our favorite state park
4. The gift of becoming empty nesters, allowing my wife and I to leisurely RV the desert Southwest.
5. The gift of freedom that RVing provides—going wherever, whenever together.
6. The gift of gab, allowing me to speak at RV shows and rallies sharing this great lifestyle. I was very shy as a child!
Author speaking at an RV show
7. The gift of introducing others to the joys of RVing.
8. The gift of living in a free country with hundreds of thousand acres of public land on which to recreate and camp.
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Public land to camp on with friends
9. Given the gift to write for this website, other sites, and magazines where I can share the joy of RVing with others.
10. The gift of my son-in-law being able to join the RV industry and continuing the family tradition.
11. The gift of witnessing my children continuing the family tradition by purchasing an RV and camping with my grandchildren.
Over 30 years later—My son and grandson camping at our favorite state park

To those of you that celebrate the gift that was given in the manger so many years ago, may your Christmas be merry and full of joy—and for those of you that observe another holiday may you enjoy a joyful time with family and friends.

What gifts are you thankful for this Christmas? Please share in the comment box below.

See also: 6 Gifts For RVers That Keep On Giving All Year Long



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RV Resort Near Clarkdale, Arizona: Rain Spirit RV Resort

A new RV resort recently opened in the Verde Valley region of Central Arizona. Just south of Flagstaff and Sedona in small-town Clarkdale, Rain Spirit RV Resort has full hookup RV sites with panoramic views and some amazing places to visit nearby.

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Rain Spirit RV Resort. Photos via Facebook

The resort can accommodate RVs of all sizes with their wide paved roads and 63 large sites (both pull-thrus and back-ins). From your RV, you can get wide open views of the Tuzigoot Monument, Verde River, and Sycamore and Verde Canyons.

They’re a quick drive to Tuzigoot National Monument, Red Rock State Park, and the Verde Canyon Railroad Train. The resort’s also close to Old Town Cottonwood, Dead Horse State Park, and the Verde Valley Fairgrounds.

RV resort

When you’re not exploring the area, make full use of their brand new facilities. You can take a dip in their heated pool and Jacuzzi, or relax in the air-conditioned rec room with a pool table and a kitchen. They also offer a fitness room, dog run, laundry room, and WiFi throughout the park.

RV resort

Nearby there are enough attractions to keep you busy for weeks or even months. Take your time to explore Tuzigoot National Monument (about a mile from the resort) as it has Sinagua ruins dating back to 1100 AD. Grab one of their RV spaces 8-18 for the best views of this ancient Puebloan structure.

Verde River Canyon should also be on your list of places to visit. This vast area has ATV trails, kayaking, fishing, biking, bird watching, and the Verde Canyon Railroad tour train. Park your RV in one of their sites numbered 1-7 for a view of this massive colorful canyon.

RV resort

The hillside mining town of Jerome is also less than ten minutes from the resort. Explore their local museums, art shops, gift shops, and restaurants, or visit Jerome State Historic Park to see the old Douglas Mansion built in 1916.

While you’re in town you’ll also want to visit the Gold King Mine Ghost Town. This abandoned town still preserves an old mine, dilapidated buildings, and various old cars and trucks.

Have you visited Rain Spirit RV Resort yet? Let us know about your experience on RV Park Reviews!



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Any Residential RV Refrigerator Regrets? Most Say “Nope!”

Modern RVs have plenty of creature comforts, but hard ice cream hasn’t always been one of them – until now. Residential RV refrigerator installations are on the rise as RV owners are opting for sticks-and-bricks refrigerators in their rigs. But does the thought of having a “real” refrigerator live up to the expectations? Most RVers who have made the leap say “Absolutely!”

They Rarely Regret a Residential RV Refrigerator Purchase

“We did it and never looked back. Lots of ice and stays COLD!! This Samsung has a lot more room and did I say it stays COLD!” says iRV2 Forums member Mark Miller shares about his 2008 Damon Tuscany motorhome’s unit.

Residential RV refrigerator regrets
Residential RV refrigerator of Mark Miller, iRV2 member.

Another RVer on Facebook agrees. “Love my residential. Same footprint as the rv one, way more room. New residential fridge, inverter and 400 watt solar system to run it when boondocking was cheaper than a Rv fridge,” explains Dan Aldridge.

In fact, scan any iRV2 Discussion Forum topics about Residential Refrigerators in RVs and you’ll likely discover that the vast majority of RVers who have opted out of traditional gas absorption style refrigerators say that it was a good idea to do so. They agree that although traditional RV gas absorption refrigerators can be powered three ways – by liquid propane, 120V conventional power and sometimes 12V power produced by the RV’s batteries – the downsides of owning a unit outweighs the positives.

Pros and Cons of Residential RV Refrigerators versus Traditional RV Refrigerators

Residential RV refrigerator
Image: Dan Aldridge

Look at the basic differences between a residential RV refrigerator versus a traditional RV refrigerator and you’ll see subtle but important differences:

Residential RV Refrigerator Pros

  • More space inside
  • Consistently cold temperatures
  • Performance not effected by outdoor temperatures
  • Shorter time to power up and cool down for travel
  • Costs less money
  • Typically longer lifespan
  • Weighs less

Residential RV Refrigerator Cons

  • RV interior modifications are often necessary for the unit to fit.
  • Usually requires extra RV batteries, larger generator and solar power investment to power while dry-camping
  • Not built for travel: doors will need to be secured during travel
  • Sticks-and-bricks appliance technicians may not work on unit unless it’s removed from the RV

Traditional RV Refrigerator Pros

  • Multiple ways to power the unit
  • Smaller size fits nicely into RVs
  • Built for rugged travel

Traditional RV Refrigerator Cons

  • Costs significantly more than a residential RV refrigerator
  • Propane and ammonia-driven cooling power increases fire risk
  • Requires precisely level campsite for efficient operation
  • Consistently improper leveling may damage unit over time
  • Extreme temperatures outside affect cooling performance
  • Requires several hours to chill before packing food inside
Residential RV refrigerator
Modifications for residential units are usually necessary. Image: Dan Aldridge

Is a Residential RV Refrigerator Good for Boondocking?

The power consumption of a gas absorption-style refrigerator versus a residential RV refrigerator are so similar that most RVers say they don’t notice the difference. But because residential RV refrigerators can only be powered by conventional electricity, many people are under the impression that boondocking is not an option when you install one of these units. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you enjoy dry camping, don’t dismiss owning one of these units as an option. Talk to other hard-core RV boondockers with residential RV refrigerators to get the real story.

“We dry camp often. Have residential refrigerator. Don’t find it to be a problem. With our coach the RR option included six rather than the standard four batteries,” explains vsheetz, an iRV2 Forums member.

“We also dry camp a lot and have upsized from Group 24 to CG2 golf cart batteries – 4 total. The refrigerator will consume about 25% of the battery capacity in a 24 hour period absent any charging,” says 2Escapees iRV2 Forums members.

If you keep your RV long enough, your refrigerator will need replacing. If you’re thinking of buying a residential RV refrigerator, rest assured that for most RV owners, installing one of these units was the best thing they ever did to enhance their RV travel experience.



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