HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE | Go RVing

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

     It’s the time of year for giving and if you’re like me, treating yourself to a few items on your own wish list as well. Since I grew up in a camping family in the 1970’s, using a lot of hand me down items from the 1950’s, I tend to be drawn to classic camp items that evoke the nostalgia of happy times and the simple pleasures of life. I found a few of those to share as well as some new things bound for classic status. Here are a few of my favorite things!

Mollyjogger Old School Ice Box – When you come across these in an antiques shop they tend to be pricey and sketchy. I’m reluctant to put ice in them if I plan to put that ice in a beverage later. They usually have pitted aluminum walls. I’ve been using this new “Old” Ice Box on my bar now for two years. It is where I store the ice I use for drinks. It will keep a bag of ice for about 24 hours and its size makes it great for the floor of the passenger seat in my truck too. I keep drinks, snacks and lunch handy there. Plus, it just looks great! $89.

 

 

Kavu Long Johns – These are long johns with a twist. In addition to the classic bottom to top one piece style they have the added features of a drawstring hoodie, center pockets and thumb loops, a requirement for cold nights around the campfire.  They are 97% polyester jacquard knit for easy washing and have tight cuffs and bottom hem to keep the cold out. A classic! They are the perfect sleep, nap and lounge apparel on a chilly campout.  $90

 

 

Keen Sneakers – Those who know me know that I love statement footwear! It’s hard to get me out of my bowling shoes but these sneakers hit the mark for me. First of all, they are plaid. Can there be too much plaid in the world? I think not. They are a classic design with lots of toe space, soft interior, nicely rolled edges that don’t rub, aluminum eyelets that let your feet breathe and a really rich fleece fabric that brushes clean. These are not hiking shoes. They are day tripping shoes for running errands, getting stuff done and looking cute while doing it. $79

 

 

Pendleton Motor Robe – Back in the old days when my grandfather would take us somewhere in his car on those freezing Chicago winter days, he had the Pendleton blanket on the seat for us to sit on. My grandfather was a steel worker in Indiana who owned very few duplicates of things. He had a dress coat, a suit, a summer and winter hat and he had a few Pendleton shirts! We all wish we knew what happened to them!! He understood the value of a dollar and quality. There are few things more timeless than quality wool and items that get passed down. I have taken to giving this blanket to the nieces and nephews as engagement gifts in homage to our “Poppy.” It’s a great size for the RVer in your life because it serves many purposes. It fits on a camp chair nicely and adds a layer of warmth between you and the night air. It folds neatly across the bottom of a bed to pull up in the night if it gets too cold. It’s a great lap robe around the fire, at a game or while tailgating and even if you have seat heaters, it’s a welcoming sight to a cold hiker getting back to the car! $99

National Parks Candles – The Good and Well Supply Company was started by Megan McLaughlin, a Girl Camper on a quest to harness the scents in nature. She traveled the US camping in her tent and storing up treasured memories from National Parks. She resettled in the Pacific Northwest and began making 100% soy candles in small batches that she sells in pint, half pint and travel tins. The labels are truly art and each candle is made from 100% renewable soy, have balsa wood wicks, are petroleum free, GMO free, and lead free. A portion of each sale is donated to the National Parks Foundation. $36

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles – by Laura Farenthold.  A good read for RV lovers and anyone who has ever been dealt a crushing blow in life. This is no sad tale of widowhood and its trials but instead it’s the tale of a woman who used RVing to help herself and daughters gain their footing again after the sudden loss of her husband and the girls’ dad. It is full of poignant, funny, and mystical coincidences that kept me turning the pages at a rapid rate. It’s a book of hope, chutzpah and perseverance mixed in with stories of our National Parks, backroad towns and the strangers they met along the way who were angels in disguise. A really uplifting read. $15

 

 

LL Bean Boots – There are two things about these boots that grabbed me. One, I love festive footwear and two, plaid IS my favorite color. I have bought several pairs of LL Bean knockoffs over the years while my sister in law has had the same LL Bean boots since high school. Every year she breaks them out for winter footwear, sledding events and to use to and from the ski slopes at her family’s weekend home in Vermont. I realized that if I added up all my quick-to-deteriorate replicas I could have owned the real McCoy! I indulged in the 10”, hand crafted 106 year old tried and true design and think I just acquired my last pair of boots. That’s Yankee thrift for you. They are incredibly warm with duck rubber soles, shearling lining and wool plaid outer layer. The boot bottom has Thinsulate lining and supported steel shank, they are triple stitched and still handmade the old fashioned way, one boot at a time, by craftsmen (elves?) in Maine. They also are just sooooo cute!!! $245

Wicked Good Cupcakes – I fell in love with this idea when I first saw this mother- daughter duo present their idea on Shark Tank. I then received a six pack of these gooey homemade cupcakes in Mason jars and fell in love with their taste. They are now my new go-to “have to send a gift” item.  I’m thrilled to find a fun alternative to flowers and fruit baskets. I recently spent close to $90 to send a fruit bouquet to a camping buddy in need of a hug from afar.  I wish I had known that for $26 I could have sent her two S’mores in a jar and sat around a virtual campfire with her. They come freshly made and packed in ice packs. They will last a week without refrigeration on your countertop but can be frozen for up to six months!! Wicked good idea!! Two pack $26 including shipping.

Dune Jewelry – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a shell or sand or pine cones from far off places and packed them to take home. What happens when it gets home is the problem. How do you keep and display sand from a favorite beach? Dune Jewelry makes beautiful keepsake pieces to remember a vacation by. You can mail them your own sand, dried flower petals, crushed stones or other elements that you gathered on a vacation and then choose a design.  They offer cuff bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings and charms. If you don’t have your own sand they have an element bank to choose from. I purchased a necklace filled with sand from the beaches in Cape May, NJ. We had a home there when our children were little, and my oldest daughter is very sentimental about Cape May. I was thrilled when I saw they had Cape May sand in stock!! Each piece of jewelry is handmade by metal artisans. I’m thinking of starting a travel charm bracelet with element charms from the National Parks. After all, how many hoodie sweatshirts can you have? $36-$200

 

 

Old School Flashlight – When we camped as kids there were two light sources after dark, the Coleman lantern which kids could not touch, and the single flashlight our family owned. If you had to walk to the bathroom at night you were “entrusted” with the flashlight under pain of severe reprisal should anything happen to it. The batteries were probably more valuable than the flashlight.  I collect vintage flashlights which I use while camping and display around the house and trailer. I was excited to come across this little treasure online. The Chrome Vintage Flashlight is made by United Pacific and costs $9.95 on Amazon. It uses two “D” batteries, has the kid intriguing Morse Code Button in case of danger and the built in retractable hook to hang it from the tent pole at night. It’s sure to inspire lots of nostalgia and tales of the old days if you put it in an “old fart’s” stocking. $10

 

 

Williams Sonoma – Plaid Insulated Beverage Container. It’s a new “old” thermos with a nod to the Plaid Skotch Koolers I grew up with. This new version of a camp classic holds 16 fluid ounces, has double walled insulation to keep beverages hot for up to 12 hours and like the old version, the cap is also the cup!! $29.95

 

 

Chill Angel – I was gifted these incredible PJ’s last year and this year I got a second pair in this festive Christmas color for myself. I used these camping all year and discovered what they knew in the old days about the properties of wool. Have you ever wondered how the Civil War reenactors can be standing around in the heat in July and not sweating? It’s the wool uniform. These Merino wool pajamas are made of the best moisture managing and temperature regulating fabric known to man. They are made from super fine Merino wool that feels so soft on your skin but which also rapidly dissipates heat, minimizing temperature spikes during your sleep cycle. If you are one of those people who wakes up during the night kicking off the covers because you are hot, these PJ’s will return you to normal temperature and back to sleep quickly. If you just like luxurious pajamas that keep you cool in hot weather and very warm in winter you will love these as much as I do. They are not just sleepwear though. They are the perfect loungewear on a rainy day and a great gift for outdoor enthusiasts. $39-$139

 

 

Camco “Life Is Better at the Campsite” Goodies – This year Camco Manufacturing came out with a new product line aptly titled, “Life Is Better at the Campsite.” I couldn’t agree more! I’ve got two fun items for the holidays from Camco. The first is their new wrapping paper which is a perfect way to wrap gifts for your RVing friends! But, look closely, it’s not actually holiday paper. It’s all seasons. You can put a pretty Christmas bow on it during the holidays or use it for birthday gifts in July! The other fun items from Camco are their happy mugs!! I really loved this red ceramic one. It’s got speckles that make it look like snowflakes and it holds 12 oz. You can also put this in the microwave. It’s full of holiday cheer!! This will be my official hot chocolate and hot toddy mug all winter. I think it’s a great stocking stuffer or grab bag gift. Paper – $16 Mug – $10

 

 

 

 

https://www.mollyjogger.com/cart

https://kavu.com/products/wildwood?variant=12113657593927

https://www.keenfootwear.com/p/W-ELSA-SNEAKER-FLEECE.html?dwvar_W-ELSA-SNEAKER-FLEECE_color=1017967&cgid=womens_footwear_shoes

https://www.pendleton-usa.com/product/motor-robe-with-leather-carrier-71376.html?dwvar_71376_color=9442&cgid=blankets-throws#start=5&cgid=blankets-throws

 

https://goodandwellsupplyco.com/collections/national-park-candles

https://www.amazon.com/Pink-Steering-Wheel-Chronicles-Story/dp/1578267684/ref=asc_df_1578267684/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312176338241&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14434448599435065161&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9003956&hvtargid=aud-466606931481:pla-490943437427&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=60258870897&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=312176338241&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14434448599435065161&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9003956&hvtargid=aud-466606931481:pla-490943437427

 

https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/121340?page=bean-boot-10-shearling-lined-wool-plaid&bc=474-630&feat=630-GN1&csp=f&attrValue_0=Bn%20Boot%20Brown/Burgundy/Bn%20Boot%20Brown/Gum

https://www.wickedgoodcupcakes.com/

https://dunejewelry.com/

https://www.amazon.com/United-Pacific-C5013-Vintage-Flashlight/dp/B07BKR5LPZ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1543975543&sr=8-2&keywords=Chrome+Vintage+Flashlight

 

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/plaid-insulated-beverage-container/

https://chillangel.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Camco-Decorative-Different-Designs-Excellent-53239/dp/B07K565B5F

https://www.amazon.com/Vintage-USA-vintage-interior-Flashlight/dp/B01GCELIVM/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1543972589&sr=8-10&keywords=Chrome+Vintage+Flashlight

 

 

 

 

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Ultimate Recipe Guide For RVing Holiday Dinners

Some holiday traditions should be abandoned, like slaving away in the kitchen. What fun is it if everyone else is having a good time but you’re stuck with the cooking? If you don’t enjoy the hassle of making a big holiday dinner in your sticks and bricks home, it’s time to start the holiday season on the road with RVing holiday dinners.

RVing holiday dinners
It`s easy to cook old favorites such as green beans, brussels sprouts or even asparagus – seen here – over an open grill at a campsite for a side of any holiday dinner. Photo courtesy of Bruce B www.airforums.com member.

RVing Holiday Dinners are Easy

Do you live in an area with mild weather this time of year? Then pack up the RV and move your holiday season celebrations to a great RV campground. When you move the party to your favorite state or national park it`s like gaining an extra summer weekend at year’s end. As a result, the best part is that RVing holiday dinners are less labor intensive than a traditional sticks-and-bricks feast, but they are just as much fun to enjoy. Here’s how to prepare for your all new custom:

Meal Prep Tips for RVing Holidays

Many traditional holiday meal components like dips, salads and pies can be prepped and even made ahead of your departure. What`s more, once you arrive, a barbecue grill, pressure cooker and cast iron skillet can replicate your favorite holiday meals at the campsite, without any fuss. Use them in the following ways:

  • Toss the turkey and try Cornish game hens or turkey sausages. Most RV ovens are too small to cook turkeys, so consider grilling your main meat dish instead.
  • Pre-cook time intensive side dishes like squash and potatoes in the pressure cooker. Make them in shifts then pop them in the oven together.
  • Cast iron skillets for sides can be placed on a stovetop or campfire. Cook old favorites like green beans or seared Brussels sprouts with garlic in this multipurpose pan that’s a must-have for RVers.

Great Recipes for RVing Holiday Meals

RVing holiday dinners
Fruit compotes are easy to make in RV kitchens.

Keep your favorite holiday meal recipes and retire the rest. For some added excitement turn to these innovative RVing holiday dinner recipes spotlighted by RVlife.com food writer and culinary maven, Marian Platt.

Celebrating Diversity on Thanksgiving” shares an entire RVing holiday meal menu including:

  • Clam Dip
  • Apple, Pecan and Dried Cherry Salad
  • Chilled Cranberry Maple Sauce
  • Corn Pudding
  • Grilled Cornish Game Hens
  • Italian Turkey Sausages

Stuffing or Dressing?” starts your holiday meal right with four stuffing recipes:

  • Cranberry Stuffing Balls
  • Southern Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
  • Traditional Bread Stuffing with Herbs
  • Fruit and Vegetable Dressing with Nuts

Holiday Sweet Potatoes” mixes up this old favorite. From candied and mashed to baked, here’s a collection of several ways to enjoy this must-have side dish, including:

  • Baked Sweet Potato Sticks for Two
  • Mashed Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes with Apples
  • Sweet Potato Pie

Give Thanks for Succotash” pays tribute to the corn and lima bean classic, with variations such as:

  • Traditional Succotash
  • Down Home Succotash with Bacon
  • Succotash with Zucchini and Peppers
RVing holiday dinners
Make old favorites ahead of time.

Tis the Season for Pie” gives suggestions for pie fillings you can easily make in the RV. Just pour into a pre-made pie crust and enjoy any of these:

  • Pear Cranberry Lattice Pie
  • Pecan Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Sour Cream Raisin Pie
  • Mince Pie
  • Apple Pie

Eggnog, a Holiday Tradition” puts everyone in the festive spirit with creatively cooked ways to enjoy this popular favorite, including:

  • Bread Pudding
  • Fruit Topping
  • Eggnog Cake

Great RVing holiday meals don’t have to be restricted to the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Make the most of your year-round camping climate by adding Thanksgiving and the winter holidays to your annual RV celebrations.

Images: Pixabay.com



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A Complete Guide to The Nature’s Head Composting Toilet

We bought our Nature’s Head Composting toilet about 3 years ago. We’ve had plenty of time to discover the pros and cons of this unit and we’re going to share our experience with you today. This is the only brand we’ve tried, but we’re currently renovating an Airstream Argosy and we plan to install an Airhead composting toilet, to see what the difference is. We will do a comparison between the Natures Head and Airhead in the future…shall we call it a “head to head”? 😅

What is a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet?

A composting toilet is a toilet that treats human excrement by allowing microbes to break down the organic matter into compost. This happens under controlled aerobic conditions and usually in some sort of medium like peat moss or coco coir. However, this process takes months to fully compost, so most RV composting toilets are actually more of a dry toilet.

The biggest brands on the market are Natures Head and Air Head and both have a unique diverting system that separates the urine from the solids to prevent a foul odor from forming. Though to be honest, the urine reservoir can smell really bad when changed. We’ve tried the recommended vinegar and sugar and it doesn’t help much, but we only smell it when emptying the reservoir or after we’ve travelled with a full tank.

We hear a splash of bleach works best for the urine odor, but never use it in the solids compartment or it could kill those microbes doing all the compost work. The composting side typically just smells like soil and have never found it offensive, unless than fan goes out and isn’t able to evaporate the excess liquids.

Why did we Choose a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet?

We went with a Nature’s Head composting toilet for a few reasons. We have a ridiculously small black tank on our 16ft 1985 Fiber Stream camper and the composting toilet needs to be changed less often than the original the black tank. It saves a ton of water, none is needed for flushing, so we can be extra conservative with our water and we can get rid of our black tank.

How do you Dispose of the Waste?

Ideally it would be added to a compost pile or bin, but while traveling it can be buried or disposed of in a bag. We wouldn’t recommend burying it, because of the potential of contaminating ground water, the size hole required and that it may not be allowed where you’re camping. We recommend a sturdy bio-degradable bag that can be disposed of in the nearest public use dumpster or trash can. Urine can be dispersed in nature, or emptied in public restrooms.

Is it safe? From all our research this seems to be the safest, recommended method for those of us who travel full time. Our friends Live Small Ride Free wrote a great blog post about proper disposal and the answers they found when contacting EPA and other government agencies.

Thoughts After 3 Years

Our composting toilet has suited our needs and method of travel well. I definitely think there are some design elements with the Nature’s Head that could be improved upon though, especially for the price point. We look forward to trying out the Air Head in our new rig and seeing how it differs. We will report back with our findings!

Overall, we’ve been satisfied with our experience and think we made the right choice in going with a composting toilet. Here are our pros and cons for this unit –

Pros :

  • Easy Installation
  • Conserves water
  • Can remove black tank or add extra gray tank
  • It’s self-contained, so it can be removed or moved easily

Cons:

  • We’ve had to replace the fan about 4-5 times
  • The compost bin has to be opened to remove the urine bottle
  • The seat is not comfortable
  • The agitator does not reach the compost in the corners of the bin

Here’s the link to A Nature’s Head Composting Toilet if you’re interested in trying it out! We especially love the Nature’s Head because we love boondocking – learn all about boondocking here!



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RV BUYING GUIDE: THE RV PURCHASE PROCESS

This is third blog post in a six-part series aimed at new RV owners. The first post gave tips for choosing the right RV type. Should you buy a Class C, a Fifth Wheel, a Toy Hauler, or some other RV type? We attempted to help you answer those questions. In the second post we gave valuable tips about how to pick the perfect floorplan.  

Now it’s time to dig down deep into the RV purchasing process…

 

The first thing you need to understand is that shopping for a new RV is very different from shopping for a new car or truck. While there may be some similarities, there are many more differences. Chances are you have dozens of car dealerships, representing every major brand, within a short drive from your house.

This is not the case with RV dealerships. They can be spread out far and wide. So while you may have a local RV dealership nearby (we consider a dealer within two hours drive to be “local”), you may also need to drive a few hours to a non-local dealer to find the RV of your choice, or you may need to buy at an RV show. These are all good options, but there are some important things to consider with each.

 

 

PURCHASING FROM A LOCAL DEALER

 

  1. Purchasing local is very convenient for shopping: Shopping at a local dealer saves you precious drive time and if they have your dream RV, may just be the ideal situation.
  2. Purchasing local is very convenient for warranty service after the sale:  Every RV needs to go in for either warranty service or basic maintenance at some point, and when the dealer is close to home a trip into the shop can be very convenient–or at least not too inconvenient!
  3. But a local dealer may not have your dream RV, or a preferred brand: Very few dealers carry every, or even most, RV brands. So, if there is a certain dream RV that tickles your fancy you may need to expand your search geographically to find it.

 

 

 

Purchasing From A Non Local Dealer

  1. Purchasing from a non-local dealer greatly expands your RV brand options: If your local dealer doesn’t carry your favorite brand don’t despair, just get ready to drive further to find it.
  2. Expanding the reach of your search may also increase your bargaining power: The more dealers you look at geographically, the more bargaining power you have when it comes to negotiating a purchase price.
  3. May not be convenient for warranty work or maintenance after the sale: This might be our most important tip–so listen up! If you do end up buying your dream RV far from home, are you prepared to drive it back for warranty work and maintenance? We strongly recommend that you call around to your local dealers to see if they will do warranty service on an RV purchased at another dealership. Having a game plan for this type of situation will save you a lot of irritation in the long run.

 

 

Purchasing at an RV Show

 

  1. RV Shows have a carnival like atmosphere making for a fun shopping experience: We love going to RV shows because they are a complete hoot! RV owners are a tribe of happy and adventurous folks–when we go to shows we feel like we are among our people and you will too!
  2. Free educational seminars prepare you for RV ownership: Many RV shows have free seminars about maintenance, RV travel, and RV culture. As a potential newbie RV owner there is so much to learn, and you can learn a whole lot of it by attending a good seminar.
  3. Many brands and floorplans to explore all in one place: While a good local dealership may carry three or four brands and dozens of floorplans, a good RV show will give you a chance to look at dozens of brands and hundreds of floorplans. A massive national RV show will enable you to look at the vast majority of RV’s in production. Bring good walking shoes!
  4. RV Show pricing is very good because many dealers are competing in one place: If you are not a big fan of heavy negotiating, but you still want a great price, an RV show may hit the sweet spot for you. RV show prices really do tend to be very competitive–dealers are competing with each other and they are motivated to move a lot of inventory in one day.
  5. But you don’t get to drive the rig home that day: You will need to pick up your RV at the dealership even if you buy it at a show. They will want to prepare the rig for you, and give you a walk through to teach you all of the RV’s systems and operating procedures.

 

 

And that is the topic of our next blog post in this series! We will give you a detailed list of items and systems to check while your dealer is giving you the walk through, so that you can be fully prepared to bring your RV home and start enjoying it!

 

 

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The Complete Guide to Workamping

If you’re interested in learning about what workamping is, how to find a workamping job, or the unique challenges of workamping…then you’ve come to the right place. At the end of the article we’ll even include 5 tips from current workampers on “how to find the best workamping jobs!” We were able to create this […]

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