Go RVing on Distillery Trails and Savor the Flavors

RVing on distillery trails is the perfect trip if your taste buds savor the flavors of an Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour cocktail made with small batch craft spirits. It’s never been easier to wrap an entire vacation around sampling the newest and best selections.

Boozin’, Cruisin’ and RVing on Distillery Trails in the USA

rVing top five distillery states
Distillery trails are in every U.S. state.

Small batch craft spirits are more popular than ever. In the U.S., about 1500 small distilleries are scattered from east to west, with more launching every year. Made with love by licensed mom and pop proprietors, these distilleries can call themselves “small batch” producers because they make under 750,000 proof gallons each year. They also aren’t owned or controlled by a large supplier.

An industry report called The 2017 Craft Spirits Data Project notes that the popularity of small batch whiskey, vodka, gin and other spirits is quickly catching up with craft beer sales in America.

RVing on distillery trails like Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail is a neat experience, but you won’t find much variety when it comes to the types of spirits being produced. If you’re out to cover a range of flavors, change your course of direction and go RVing in the top five states with the most craft distilleries. There’s nearly 550 distillery destinations between them (and counting!).

rVing top five distillery states

*source: American Craft Spirits Economic Briefing Data Project 10/17

Distilleries in these five states make up nearly 35% of the entire craft distillery market in America. They also happen to have plenty of great places to park your rig so you can imbibe responsibly and generously. The Distillery Trail features nationwide listings of craft distilleries, many of which are located in close proximity to one another. You won’t find better places to go RVing on distillery trails than the following five states.

Best California Distilleries for RVers

Over a dozen small distilleries are operating throughout Southern California. You’ll find them from San Diego to Palm Desert, up to the Ventura coastline. You’ll have a hard time deciding where to go RV camping in California, but you’ll find the real epicenter of California distillery operations to be in the San Francisco Bay Area. The majority of craft spirit makers in the state are doing business from Sonoma County to Lake Tahoe.

Top New York Distilleries for RVers

You don’t need to maneuver your RV through Manhattan to sample craft spirits of New York. The biggest share of New York’s small, family-owned distilleries are pouring samples in New York’s RV-friendly summer destinations, like the Hudson Valley and around the Finger Lakes region.

Road Trip through Washington Distilleries

Craft distilleries boomed when Washington’s liquor laws changed. Today’s micro-distilleries can sell their spirits on-site and serve half-ounce samples as long at least 50 percent of their ingredients come from inside the state. The Greater Seattle area boasts more distilleries but you have many options in more RV-friendly destinations. You’ll find them in the Southwest quadrant, dotted along the coastline where Washington RV campgrounds and parks are plentiful.

Two Step to Texas Distilleries

Texas state law doesn’t allow the public to buy more than two bottles per month from craft distilleries. But that hasn’t stopped a craft distillery boom in the Lone Star State. Turn to Central Texas RV parks for the most choices. Then stay a while to enjoy the finest craft distilleries, from San Antonio to Austin, and west to the Hill Country.

Go RV Camping near Colorado Distilleries

This state ranks fifth in the nation for the number of craft distilleries. But for many people, Colorado RV parks rank first for scenery and fun. The majority of micro-distilleries are scattered in populated areas along Interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. But you’ll also find craft spirit tasting rooms in spectacular settings like Breckenridge and the Arkansas River Valley.

The best way to plan RV trips with craft distilleries in mind is to check out RV Trip Wizard, a trip planning app made with RVer’s needs in mind. An internet search for “Distilleries in (state)” can also provide a long list of places to explore when RVing on distillery trails throughout North America and beyond.

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Three’s Company When Full-time RVing with Relatives

The nomad life felt like a natural fit for Maya and Ryan. Back when they started, full-time RVing with relatives just wasn’t on their radar. With a few years of travel under their wheels, things were rolling right along in a small Class C RV as they explored the U.S. and discovered ways to support their lifestyle. But when Maya’s mother’s health declined in 2017, everything changed for these minimalist lifestyle advocates. Today, the trio is traveling together and giving Maya’s mom a lifestyle that’s the envy of many home-bound seniors.

The Unexpected Joy of Full-time RVing with Relatives

full-time RVing with relatives
(L to R): Maya, Tahoe and Ryan

Two years ago, Maya and her mother lived on opposite ends of the country. Maya and Ryan roamed the west in their car-free RV lifestyle, and Joan enjoyed a quiet life in her remote cabin perched in New York’s Catskill Mountains. The property was Joan’s retirement dream. “It was quiet and filled only with the noises of the animals like bears, deer, doves, squirrels, chipmunks,” Joan explains. “It was the home that I retired to and I loved it very much. But I was told that I couldn’t live alone any more due to my health.”

Joan’s diligent daughter Maya visited and helped with her mother’s health challenges. But she needed a permanent solution. Joan would have to move closer to the family. Convincing her mother to switch lifestyles didn’t happen overnight, says Maya. The simple living evangelist and creator of The Gradual Minimalist lifestyle movement was forced to initiate long, challenging conversations with her mother about the benefits of downsizing and living closer to West Coast relatives.

Off to California (and Beyond)

full-time RVing with relatives
Joan, Maya’s mom, Safari Park, Oregon

At one point Maya asked her mother “If you could travel anywhere on this continent, where would you want to go?” The answer: to finally meet her young grandchildren in California. Maya agreed the trip would be a good idea, but Joan would have to let go of her retirement property, become a Californian and live with her son. The idea wasn’t exactly met with enthusiasm.

“We also had conversations about how much stuff do you actually need? We talked about valuing people over things. Eventually she got to the point where she was willing to move out,” said Maya. Gradually, Joan downsized her life over the next few months. Soon she was ready to travel and move in permanently with her son in Northern California. The trio, along with three cats and a dog, began an unforgettable cross-country journey in Maya and Ryan’s small Class C Leprechaun RV. Joan describes that first RV home as “terrifyingly small.”

“I was unsure of how I would be able to adjust to it but after a little while on the road, it became easier,” explained Joan. Traveling from coast-to-coast introduced her to an unconventional lifestyle that she hadn’t ever considered. From Lake Erie in New York to the Oregon coast, the traveling family enjoyed an unforgettable adventure.

full-time RVing with relatives
On the road for the first time.

“My most favorite stop of all was the Wildlife Animal Safari Park, where Maya and I petted a baby leopard and other wonderful animals. The drive along the Oregon and California coastline, on our way to South San Francisco, was also magnificent. All in all, I am very happy that I saw such wonderful towns, cities and waters along the route,” says Joan.

They arrived in Northern California and as planned, Joan moved in with her son. But the genie was out of the bottle. A few months later, Maya and Ryan saw their family matriarch was happier. Now, she was living a freer, nomadic lifestyle in the RV. After discussing it over with each other, the couple agreed that Joan should live with them – but definitely not in their Leprechaun. “It’s a 150 square-foot studio apartment on wheels,” wrote Maya in her blog. “It worked for a month while we took her on a trip. But it was starting to wear thin towards the end; therefore it’s a shortcut to driving us all insane if we tried to live in it.”

Reversing Minimalism for the Greater Good

The path to sanity appeared in the form of a two bedroom, 1.5 bath fifth wheel RV. A better description would be the RV with a mother-in-law apartment unit. It was bigger and a totally different way of RV living from Maya and Ryan’s smaller RV. But the rig was a no-brainer with mom along for the ride. It’s a much larger rig than they ever imagined for themselves. But the size gives everyone on board enough space and privacy, whether they’re traveling to a destination or staying parked in a monthly spot. “I am never alone but I still have lots of privacy,” says Joan.

full-time RVing with relatives
The fifth wheel with a Mother-in-Law apartment.

For most people, the thought of full-time RVing with a parent is inconceivable. But these two minimalists are definitely not most people. Free of the anxiety Maya felt when leaving her mother in a place where she had little contact with the outside world, the couple now enjoys the dramatic change in her lifestyle and theirs. Maya wouldn’t have it any other way. “This is my mom. She did all of the raising,” she writes in her blog. “I owe her one, and she needs me now.”

Joan, meanwhile, relishes every new experience that the lifestyle has given her. Adapting to it took time, but overall she says she’s loving it now. “I realized how much freedom there is in an RV life,” she says. “You can set your own schedule to suit yourself, you don’t have to rush anywhere (except for medical appointments) and you can see what you’d like to. Most importantly, though, what made it easier was having the loving company and care of both Maya and Ryan. They are deeply concerned with my well-being, for which I am very grateful.”

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How to Stay Legal When RVing with Marijuana in Canada

Canadians made pot legal at the federal level, but that still doesn’t mean RVing with marijuana in Canada is a joy ride. Many important rules apply when you’re carrying cannabis on board.

How to Go RVing with Marijuana in Canada

In 2018 the Canadian Cannabis Act set the national ground rules for legalized production, distribution, sale and use of cannabis products. Today, any adult over 18 can legally buy, possess, grow and share cannabis with other adults. But, Canada’s provincial and territorial governments have the right to override these rules however they see fit.

Don’t assume what’s legal in one place legal in the other. Here’s what you need to know about RVing with marijuana in Canada.

First, you’ve gotta ditch your stash before you get to the international border.

The Canadian Government’s stance on border crossing with cannabis says “It is illegal to bring cannabis into Canada. If you do have cannabis or products containing cannabis with you when you enter Canada, you must declare them to the Canada Border Services Agency. If you do not declare cannabis products when you enter Canada, you can face enforcement action, including arrest and prosecution.”

Whether you’re coming or going between Canada and the U.S., transporting weed in your RV across international borders is completely illegal, even if you are crossing in a state where cannabis is legal, such as Washington.

“This applies to cannabis or any product containing cannabis or even if the intended use is for medical purposes. Those who do can face serious criminal penalties, such as fines or even jail time, even if unintentional,” said immigration attorney Scott Bettridge in an interview with Forbes.com.

Then you’ve gotta know where pot use is legal.

Once you get through customs you’ll find that when you go RVing with marijuana in Canada’s provinces and territories, you’ll encounter a puzzling patchwork of laws that differ from place to place. For example:

  • Manitoba doesn’t allow public consumption of cannabis anywhere. You can only use it in “a private residence.”
  • Alberta says go ahead and toke up anywhere in public where where smoking tobacco is allowed.
  • British Columbia rules state that cannabis use follows the same rules as tobacco smoking. Wherever it’s banned, don’t do it. Wherever it’s cool, go ahead and light up. Just don’t pass the doobie anywhere kids play, like in parks and athletic fields.

The good news for RVers is that many Canadian cannabis laws state that a recreational vehicle is considered a “temporary residence.” So go ahead and take your pot from place to place in your rig. Just don’t drive stoned.

And remember that in most territories you need to transport marijuana in a sealed container away from vehicle occupants. Alberta and Quebec are the exception.

Finally, carefully choose where you decide to camp with cannabis

Once you arrive at a campground, it’s important to understand the cannabis regulations. Authorities treat it much like alcohol and many of the same usage rules apply. For example:

Private campgrounds and resorts can write their own cannabis rules. If they don’t explicitly state them on your check-in materials, it’s your responsibility to ask if you intend to consume marijuana on their property.

The Parks Canada Agency (similar to the U.S. National Parks Service), has a general rule that says campers can enjoy cannabis at campgrounds in all provinces and territories. But you can only consume in your campsite and definitely not in common areas. Avoid lighting up in playgrounds, kitchen shelters, washrooms, trails, or roads.

However, each province, territory, or municipality can enforce their own cannabis laws if they have a Parks Canada campground under their jurisdiction. Some allow cannabis consumption in places like park trails and in the backcountry, some do not.

The Parks Canada “Cannabis use at Parks Canada places” website lists important rules you need to know when visiting a Parks Canada destination.

The Canadian government says it’s an individual’s responsibility to understand cannabis laws wherever one travels. Before you go RVing in Canada with marijuana, take time to understand the Canadian cannabis laws in all provinces and territories and you’ll steer clear of any hassles with the authorities.

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RVing Couple Shares Their Experiences

Marsha Petry and Janet Shown of Buffalo Creek, Colorado are not completely new to RVing, but have recently upgraded and are about to embark on the next chapter of their lives with a new rig.

We have all been there at one time or another, and all had similar struggles with the learning curve, fears, and uncertainties, and what we are needing out of our rig.  Sometimes we find that learning curve more than once!

Marsha and Janet recently agreed to share some of their newbie and not-so-newbie experiences, dreams, and trials that might help others considering taking the RVing plunge.

Camping with a family of large dogs can create space issues! (Photo by Janet Shown)

In the beginning, Marsha and Janet decided to get an RV as a way to extend the camping season and to be able to travel with their dogs—large Leonbergers—and gear.

“We both have always loved outdoors activities—backpacking, camping, hiking, skiing and snowshoeing,” Marsha says. “In the early years when we were dating, each of us took our dog(s) and cared for our own dog(s)—it was fairly simple… but then we started to share our backpacking tent, and that tiny tent got pretty cramped with dogs and people.

We got a bigger tent, which in turn lent itself to more car-camping because the tent was too heavy to pack.  When we moved in together we decided to get more dogs! and car-camping with the large tent became the standard mode.”

Soon they were out camping every weekend, which involved loading and unloading the truck roof racks and setting up the large tent to accommodate their five giant dogs, who were more than happy to track in all sorts of dirt into the tent.  Once September rolled around and snow descended on the mountains, camping trips had to stop.  During one winter, they began to think about the benefits of using a trailer instead of tent camping.

Marsha outlined the benefits of a trailer as:

  • We could have a bed to ourselves! (That didn’t last long but, seriously, that’s what we thought)
  • There’d be a safe place to leave the older dogs who couldn’t hike as much,
  • Our camping gear could be stored in the trailer so that we wouldn’t have to climb and pack/unpack the roof racks every weekend, and
  • Bonus! We could extend our camping season into the fall.

After their first experiences with a trailer, she adds:

  • Finding hotels that would take 3-5 big dogs is/was always a problem. The dogs ALWAYS go on any vacation.
  • For long trips, don’t have to stay in who-knows-what-has-gone-on hotel rooms.
  • The expense is less for many trips.
  • Be able to go spur of the moment without reservations (assuming we stay in National Forest dispersed campground areas).
  • Doubles as a 2nd home if some emergency happens (wildfire etc…).  For example, they stayed at a park for a week during the evacuation of the Lower North Fork Fire in 2012.
Marsha and Janet camping in their first trailer, the Trail Manor 3023 (Photo by Janet Shown)

They found a lightweight, hard-sided pop-up style Trail Manor 3023 trailer that their Ford Ranger truck could haul.  They took the little trailer across the country between California and Maine, and joined the local Trail Manor club to participate in the club outings.

For many years, they used their trailer from spring through fall.  And then, life happened (as it often does) and between family obligations and building a home, any time they had to go camping got consumed with other tasks.

Eventually, Marsha and Janet were able to think about the possibility of retirement ahead.  They were able to reflect on how their lives had changed and came to realize how much they missed their camping trips.  They had given away the first trailer and started looking for a rig that they could use year-round as much as possible.

In the fall of 2018, they found a trailer they wanted, an Outdoors RV Timber Ridge 21FQS, and a Ford F250 tow vehicle.  Marsha and Janet’s “Must Have” features that made this the rig for their next chapter of adventure including a slide-out (must have more room for dogs), heated water storage and insulating for 4-season camping, room to walk on both sides of the bed to avoid crawling over one another and for ease of making the bed, power next to the bed, a large sink/prep area and counter, lots of windows in the sitting area, and a toilet far from the sleeping area.

Marsha and Janet’s second trailer, an Outdoors RV Timber Ridge 21FQS that offers more space and features for their needs. (Photo by Janet Shown)

They also considered some of the “Nice to Have” list items like a microwave, solid surface sink/counter, a toilet that uses main water (not a separate water storage), a cabinet by the back door to hold leashes, wet clothing, gear, and an extra large propane tank.

Marsha and Janet are now looking ahead to traveling with their new rig.  They plan on taking a 3-month trip to Canada as one of their first adventures and spending quality time together with their dogs while traveling around the country catching up with friends they haven’t seen in years.

They would love to try to do extended boondocking with added solar to maybe go for a few weeks or months off-grid.  They have a condo in Arizona and are hoping to snowbird south for the winter months while spending summers camping and possibly campground hosting.  Full-time RVing is a definite maybe—Janet would be eager to try, but Marsha is more reserved about that prospect at the moment.

When asked about the concerns or “unknowns” for planning their RV trips, they shared several that are food for thought.

  1. Getting stuck in the snow (Happened with our old trailer, but we weren’t camping so it wasn’t a huge deal, still… made us think).
  2. The current political climate is increasingly hateful towards lesbians and gays. If that doesn’t change we could be back in danger for our lives camping in back road areas. We don’t plan on going back into the closet but will it be dangerous to be “out”?  Certain regions of the country are scarier than others.
  3. Health issues—As we get older, it is scary to think about being in the backcountry without health resources.
  4. Medications—Currently, we need monthly medical visits which can’t be quickly swapped to a different doctor. Not sure how we’re going to deal with that… fly back to Colorado each month? How else to get medications?
  5. Right now we’ve done at most month-long trips—What if we need “alone time”? How will we get it?
  6. Exercising dogs—We’ve always had a big yard and we will need to find places where the dogs can run and get more exercise. Will that be possible?

In addition, Janet fears not having the technical knowledge and RV handling ability to run things if Marsha is hurt or there is an emergency.  Marsha does most of the techie stuff and driving and Janet knows she needs to be comfortable doing those things but currently is not.

Marsha’s biggest fear is the increasing lack of remote boondocking locations that they enjoy exploring.

“We were always able to find out of the way places for backpacking and tent-camping but more people are now full time RVing, working/living out of cars, and even full-time boondocking.  Twenty or thirty years ago it was rare to see people living in their cars and, when someone did, it was usually a rare, dire circumstance; nowadays, it’s a “thing” to RV full time or live & work out of a car.

Multiple National Forest primitive inexpensive campgrounds are being shut down or locked, and fewer, “suburban”, expensive, crowded campgrounds are being built.  More public land “No Camping” signs go up, forcing campers into expensive private campgrounds.  Will we find out-of-the-way places anymore? Or will every accessible camping area be full?”

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The Climate Change Impact on RVing: Can You Cope?

RV sales are hot right now, but not nearly as scorching as the climate change impact on RVing we’re about to experience. You don’t need to hang up the keys, but rather learn to stay alive during cataclysmic weather events predicted for the future. Here’s what you need to know to keep climate change from ruining your adventures.

Get Ready for the Climate Change Impact on RVing Adventures

climate change will impact RVing
Climate change will impact your travels in 2019.

According to the experts at the Fall 2018 Northwest Climate Conference in Idaho, the U.S. and the rest of the world will see more wild weather in 2019. “If the guesses are right, if the models are right, things are not looking good,” a University of Idaho scientist told colleagues at the conference, according to the Idaho Statesman Newspaper.

If you camped beneath the smoke-filled skies of the west in 2018, you know what these scientists are talking about. During summer, over five million acres of forest lands burned to the ground.

More unpredictable and scary weather events are expected to follow. Watch for flooding, severe storms with high winds and more out of control wildfires.

For a preview, check out the 2018 Climate Assessment Report. Published by over 300 U.S. scientists, weather predictions include less snow, more flooding, droughts and increasingly unpredictable rain dumps across the west. In the Midwest, flooding, soil erosion, and water quality issues from agricultural runoff will dominate the landscape. Back east, worsening humidity, rising sea levels, algae blooms and record numbers of tropical storms will continue.

In addition, the effects of the upcoming weather phenomena known as El Nino and La Nina will likely have a tremendous impact on the planet’s climate. Climate change will impact RVing into next year and well into the future. Here’s how to deal with it.

Choose a Boondocking Campsite with Care

Your first step in staying safe is to pick a campsite carefully. For instance, secluded boondocking campsites are lovely but in a fire or other emergency they are deadly. Look for a spot with multiple exits. And when you get there, keep your car keys and vehicle nearby, prepped to go in the event of an unexpected evacuation.

Live to Tell About Your Flash Flood Camping Weather Disaster

Spring runoff is often dangerous. RVers camped along rivers and streams are at great risk. If there’s even a small chance of rain in your region, don’t camp close to water. Also skip camping in a canyon, near low spots or anywhere with steep mountain walls closing in on you.

Practice Wildfire Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life

Keep an eye on current wildfires near your camping area. Learn which agencies are reporting on burn activity. Facebook and Twitter are helpful tools to check for the latest updates. Remember, road closures are common, so monitoring road condition websites is also important.

In addition, these other tips will help keep your rig, your family and you safe in all of the extreme weather events expected to roll our way in 2019.

Don’t Freeze in Winter

How To Avoid Winter Camping Problems In Your RV.  Frozen holding tanks, poor insulation and poor refrigerator performance are common issues you might encounter during unpredictably cold winter RVing weather. Here’s how to cope with them.

8 Ways To Stay Warm While Camping In Cold Weather. Don’t let the cool temperatures keep you from getting out and camping. Here’s how to stay comfortable in cooler temperatures and keep on adventuring.

Hot Tips to Stay Cool in Summer

(Don’t) Get Injured Or Die In The National Parks. Most tourist deaths are the result of overconfidence or just simple bravado. Check out these surefire ways to end your national parks vacation on a bad note.

Keep Mosquitoes Away in Summer. Keep biting pests to a minimum with these camping tips to avoid mosquitoes.

Memorize these Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke Symptoms and Prevention. Remember the symptoms to watch for and the steps to take to prevent heat-related problems that can ruin your trip and threaten your health.

Got any other extreme weather camping tips? Share them in the comments below, let’s all learn how to stay safe in a climate change RVing world!

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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


























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When I Go RVing with my family, we make everything over the fire. We grill steak,

veggies, potatoes and more. We even heat up our cider with mulling spices to stay warm over

the fire. It’s always the best dinners in the world.


By the time dinner is over though, I start to crave something sweet. Not something too

sweet, but something that will really hit the spot. You know what I mean?


Bourbon… Apples… Sugar…


When I have a sweet tooth craving around the campfire, I tend to make my Simple Bourbon

Apple Crisp. Made with tons of sliced apples, bourbon, brown sugar, cinnamon and more. This

one skillet dessert is so simple to make with minimal dishes or prep work. Seriously, it only

takes about 15 minutes of work.


So why does it only take 15 minutes?


Instead of baking the crisp, you will cook the apples then add a blend of oats, pecans,

and more sugar. Stir in this blend to the added crunch and texture that we all love about fruit



Add a little bit of bourbon for a night cap, and I am off to bed in the RV. Goodnight!




Cooking Details

Yields: 2-4 Servings

Cook: 10 minutes

Prep: 5 minutes

Equipment: Cast Iron Skillet and Spatula.


Fruit Ingredients:

  • 8 apples, sliced
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp maple syrup

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Vanilla ice cream (with serving)



  1. In a skillet, add butter and let melt until beginning to brown. In a bowl, add all fruit

ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add fruit ingredients to skillet and cook for 8 minutes.

  1. In another bowl, add all topping ingredients. Pull skillet off of fire, add toppings and let

sit for 2 extra minutes.

  1. Serve with ice cream and enjoy!


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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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As a professional photographer, I get asked all the time: What is a good camera to buy?   What should I get to document my upcoming trip?  What do I need to capture non-blurry photos of my kids?



And my all-time most commonly asked question: What do I do with all the pictures and videos I have on my phone?  As a pro, I understand the benefits and limitations of cameras very well, but I am not an all-knowing camera salesperson.  Instead of trying to pretend to understand your ideal photographic solution, let me shed some light on the differences between each category of cameras, and you can make an informed decision from there as to which camera is right for you.

First, let’s discuss what you need the actual photos for, and more importantly, what you plan to do with them.  This will help you to understand what modern tool you need for the job.  In the old days cameras were much more straightforward.  For the most part, you bought rolls of film, inserted them into your camera and took photos.  When you got the photos back from being developed, you either enlarged and framed one or two or even bought a basic sticky album to put them all in.  (Or worse yet, you just left them in the envelope they came in from the lab.)  That was a simpler time in imagery for sure.  Now we seem to be more thoughtful storytellers with our photos and need the right tool to make it painless and simple to operate, manage and distribute all of our work.

Some fundamental questions to ask yourself before picking the right camera.

  • Am I creating a visual documentary of my travel journey?
  • Will I be capturing photos only or photos and videos in the same device?
  • Are the photographs I’m capturing for Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook etc.
  • How will I carry the camera and how big can it be?
  • What is my budget for a camera?
  • Will the photos be brought to an archive system and saved for future use and printing?
  • Will I be creating a masterpiece for the wall of the RV/Home?


Although diving deeply into this series of questions is an entirely separate blog post, you must first know the outcome of your work to know what tools you need.  Let me guide you through the types of tools you can bring with you on the road, and you can refer back to those questions to find your answers.


There are essentially four basic types of cameras.



The first camera is probably the most common one, and that is the camera on your phone.   The second is the most common “real camera”, and the one people think about purchasing first – the DSLR camera.   The third is the exciting newer genre of cameras that has dominated imagery the past few years – the Action Camera and 360º Cameras. And lastly, the slowly dying breed of cameras called Point and Shoots.

The first camera to talk about is your phone’s.  Phone cameras are at best as middle of the road point and shoot cameras.  They are of similar quality, but with excellent editing and sharing capabilities (Sharing is SO vital to so many people, and the lack of low overall quality is overlooked for the convenience of shooting and sharing.)  Yes, even the newest phone’s camera sensor is not in the same quality league as the sensors from DSLRs and Mirrorless SLRs.  Despite their quality shortcomings, their ease of use makes them the go-to camera for millions. Coupled with the speed of sharing and accessibility, they will continue to dominate.  The drawbacks to the camera phones are many and begin with lack of true manual control (to override the auto settings), lack of quality accessory expandability (like lenses), and lots of people claim to feel that creativity suffers when using their phone.

How does the camera phone cause lack of creativity?  Simply put, the camera phone is so readily accessible, people tend to shoot anything and everything that might spark their interest.   So much so, that they are carelessly shooting nonsense much of the time, which ultimately buries their greatest moments deep within piles of garbage pictures.

When we load a memory card into a Mirrorless SLR or DSLR, we are essentially saying, “Ok, I inserted my blank canvas. My camping trip to the shore will be my paintbrush to work with.”   When using a DSLR I treat each memory card as if it was a roll of film for that day/event/place only.  I then deliberately capture to paint a beautiful story of our trip.   One picture at a time I pick and choose what I want to capture and document.  For some reason, the act of carrying that camera with me forces me to think one frame at a time and the results show.  Something a phone just can’t seem to do as well.  (Side note/Pro Tip: I then download that memory card the second I get home and label the folder of images MMDDYYYY_NameofTrip/Event and save it under a folder of the year)



The DSLR and its modern cousin, the Mirrorless SLR, are likely the only cameras you will handle that will genuinely give you that sensation of working with an actual creation tool.  The long and short of SLRs are their endless expandability from lens options to flash options to the sheer quality in the files.  (What I mean by quality in the files is how clear the images are at close zoom while viewing in the computer) Big camera sensors mean big clean files you can enlarge, enhance & print.  You can change lenses that allow you wide-angle viewing as well as telephoto zoom lenses to get you right up close.   DSLRs are larger than anything else you will handle, but the quality of file of your once in a lifetime trip will be something that is undeniable.



You have to weigh the cost vs. size vs. personal use of images to know if an SLR is for you.  Most all, SLRs now offer incredible video capabilities as well that translate to a powerful multitool for both mediums and increases their value.  SLRs have always been the only way to go, and the whole photography industry is watching everything that is happening around the new smaller Mirrorless SLR phenomenon.   Only an SLR will allow you to do something like this 30-minute exposure of our camper in the middle of the night.



The incredibly shrinking niche in the photography market is undoubtedly the Point and Shoot marketplace.  For all practical purposes, these cameras have always had small lenses and small sensors, and quite frankly, the camera phones of today just outperform that of the traditional point and shoots.  One point and shoot exception is the “Tough Waterproof Cameras.” They offer unique differences like underwater shooting and shockproof/drop proof shots.  These types of cameras as you can imagine, make exceptional backpack cameras for hikes, beaches, vacations, etc.  They are virtually indestructible pocket cameras that aren’t fixed wide-angle/fisheye cameras like action cameras.   Point and shoot cameras still have a purpose such as manually overriding the auto settings, long exposures, self-timer, etc, but more and more you will see this segment dwindle away as phones take over their space completely.



Wearable action cameras have been the fastest growing segment in photography for a few years now.  These little pint-sized cameras are mostly known for their impressive video capabilities, but quite honestly, I have ALWAYS used them as still cameras.  Whether attached to my bike, my backpack or even my dog Cole.  (Side note/Pro Tip: I set these little powerhouse cameras to take interval timer photos (once every 5 seconds) and let them shoot away.  Then I submerge my family in the scene and act out life as usual.



The result is a memory card full of images, but after I select a handful of my amazing favorites, I delete the rest and enjoy a few fantastically candid scenic photos of ourselves.   Action camera benefits are clearly their size, their wearability, and their environmental proofing.   Recently, I have been having a blast with my new 360º camera and that market has yet to officially take off.



OR Embed  in VR with photo on our FB Iframe Code: <iframe src=”https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Four1chance%2Fposts%2F1934410313269591&width=500″ width=”500″ height=”614″ style=”border:none;overflow:hidden” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ allowTransparency=”true” allow=”encrypted-media”></iframe>


Keep your eyes out for how the cool VR/AR photos and videos will play out over the next 4 years.

So, with all that said, which type of camera is the most important to have?

THE ONE YOU HAVE WITH YOU!  I know that isn’t the answer you were looking for but it’s a complex subject.  As a pro photographer, I happen to have all of these types of cameras and can honestly say I use them all for each of their individual strengths.  Captured with my Phone



No one camera is going to be your end-all, so you have to work within your budget and decide if you want something expandable, self-contained, wearable, etc.  Each one is so uniquely different that I feel the need to have all of them to feed my soul as an artist, but of course, I don’t expect people to get all types.  (My DSLRs are what I make a living off of so those tools of the trade are unfairly weighted)


I’d love to continue the conversation with you about camera needs, wants and desires.  Leave a comment below with some questions or head over to our blog http://www.our1chance.com or on social @our1chance and DM us your question.

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RV Clubs For Solo Women Travelers: RVing Women

There is a growing number of women who enjoy RVing independently, whether because their families are not into traveling, or because they are single, or just for the adventure of being alone in the wilderness.  Many women who might consider independent RVing are hesitant to jump in and get started.  That is where groups like RVing Women can help.

RVing Women
Exploring Quartzite (Photo by IRV2 member Jpony56hd)

Janet Miller has been a member of RVing Women for over 15 years.  When she found herself nearing retirement, she relocated from her home in Wisconsin to Nevada in order to enjoy the warm Southwest climate.

She had met some friends who traveled in an RV through work and found the lifestyle intriguing.  After reading through the RVing Women magazine, filled with helpful and interesting information, she bought a small Class C motorhome and began traveling with her partner on weekends.

After retirement, Janet vowed to attend one of the RVing Women Rallies to see what they were all about and meet some fellow lady travelers.  Over the three-day rally, she met many other members, learned a lot, and enjoyed the community and ease of traveling with a group of women.  Everyone was very helpful and no question was too simple to be asked. Janet shares,

The most challenging part of my entry into RVing was learning the in’s and outs of preventative maintenance, and the need to be aware of all systems of the “Motor” part of the motorhome (engine, tires, brakes, shocks, etc.) and the “Home” parts (refrigerator, air conditioning, stove, water heater, etc.)  In addition, I had to learn the basic housekeeping associated with Fresh Water storage and exit water storage (black and grey.)  Fortunately, I had good teachers either through devouring the Internet, reading Motorhome and RVing Women Magazine and by receiving the help of other RV’ers along the road.

Since that initial rally, Janet has made it a goal to get out with her RV at least once a month, with a “use it or lose it” attitude to keep her out exploring.  There is no RVing women chapter in Nevada, so she joined as a member of the Arizona and Southern California groups in order to attend rallies in neighboring states.  Through the years, she has become an active member and is hosting the upcoming boondocking rally in Quartzite, AZ starting January 17, 2019.

Janet finds that the benefits of being a member of RVing Women are largely the safety and comfort of traveling in an all-women group with different lifestyles and life stories are accepted without fear or humiliation—regardless of your experience level.

Single women, widows, divorcees, or those just looking to get away—the common thread is a group of women with a taste for adventure.  Some have new, fancy rigs, others have found older RVs that they have creatively and lovingly refurbished to their individual needs and tastes.

Some women are retired, others still working, and some are full-time RVers.  Rally attendance can range from 20 to 100 and is largely dependent on the space available at the hosting site.  Rally hosts work a year or two in advance to secure campsite areas, permits, and activities.  Often rallies are coordinated around another event, like an RV Show, or music festival.

RVing Women Rally at Quartzite, AZ, 2017 (Photo via Janet Miller)

In addition to the rallies, the group often hosts informal “meet-ups” throughout the year, from weekend trips to “rolling rallies” where members travel over many days or weeks as a caravan to enjoy destinations like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone.  These longer trips are great for single travelers who might be hesitant to attempt the journey by herself.

There are 17 RVW chapters across the United States, and members can attend any rally across the US that interest them.  Many members travel south for the winter and may join a southern chapter such as the Arizona or Florida Chapters, but return home during the summer months where they might participate in rallies associated with their home state area.

RVing Women also has an annual convention that changes location across the country each year, so that members can attend periodically from all parts of the country.  Tours and educational seminars, as well as entertainment and vendor offerings, make this a very interesting event to attend and members often arrive early and stay later to enjoy a 10 day or so experience with their RVW “Convention Friends.”

For more information on the RVing Women Quartzite Rally, click here.  For other chapter rallies, visit the listing of events on the left side of the RVing Women web page.

See also: Solo Women RVers Hit The Road

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