The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men Go Oft Awry

The best-laid plans of mice and menSo penned Scottish poet Robert Burns in his famed work, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough.” (Almost as famous as “Auld Lang Syne,” but not quite.)

Molly and I were literally ready to begin the adventure of our lives, living and traveling full-time in our RV. I had pretty much everything packed except our daily needs–you know, everything you can’t pack because you need it within the next 12 hours.

At the moment of supreme culmination, Molly and I heady with anticipation over all the adventures now at our fingertips … somebody yanked the wrong string and months of planning turned into a noodle-heap of yarn at our feet. First the radiator died. Next thing you know, the battery died. As we were limping to the repair shop, the rear wheel died.

Continuing our references to literature and the arts–It’s a wonderful life.

While my RV now has a shiny new radiator, the scrape and grind of a failing wheel was the death knell. According to the mechanics, someone had previously attempted to repair the worn-out wheel, but did a sloppy job. The mechanics spent a week looking for parts. News came back–no one has those parts anymore. (It’s a senior camper.) The best they can do is renew the same “Band-Aid” fix-it that was done before.

“Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!” quoth Burns, no doubt clicking his tongue.

Heartbreak aside over losing that darling little camper … it’s getting cold in these parts. Too cold to test another camper and get used to it before hitting the road. It is with great sorrow that I’m forced to announce … the RV adventure is adjourned. 
For now. 
Who knows? Maybe I can outfit a better camper next spring. And in the meantime, there are plenty of places for Molly and me to explore closer to home. 
One thing’s for sure–a camper may die, but the spirit of adventure is much harder to kill. You can take the girl out of the adventure, but not the adventure out of the girl. I’ll find ways to satisfy that craving–and you’re still welcome to come along for the ride! 
In the meantime, stay in touch with my Facebook page, too– I’ve got some videos coming up featuring everybody’s favorite adventure dog … 

I Love Google “Tilt the View”

01 St Mary Campground Screenshot (640x360)I’m more or less indifferent about the new version of Google Maps, except for two things.

  1. I miss the little yellow stick figure guy
  2. I love Tilt the View!

Street View

The little yellow stick figure was SO MUCH FUN! Click, drag, and drop him almost anywhere on the map and get the street view. Of course, street view is still available in the new Google Maps, but while clicking anywhere on the map is convenient, it’s just not half as much fun as dropping a stick figure down from on high without a parachute.

Thankfully, I can still access the old version of Google Maps anytime I miss the stick figure guy.Let’s face it: Puppies, kittens, and stick figures are the cutest things on earth.

Tilt the View

On the flip side, my favorite part about the new Google Maps is Tilt the View. This feature is available when viewing the map as a satellite image. You click “Earth” in the lower left corner (to access satellite view), you zoom in as far as you like, and you click the icon on the lower right that looks like a window pane tilted flat.

And presto! You get a view that makes you feel like a little airplane zooming over the landscape. I always wanted a pilot’s license …

Why I Like Tilt the View

Aside from totally awesome images, it’s a really fun way to get an idea of the road ahead. What’s the elevation like? Where do trees stop and open landscapes begin? How far from the town to the lake?

Plus you’ll find a banner of images along the bottom of the screen. When you hover over the image, it draws a dotted line to a point on the map. What a cool way to locate areas of interest!

02 Apgar Campground Screenshot (640x360)It’s also a fun way to explore campgrounds in an area I’m thinking about visiting. Search for “campgrounds near (fill in the blank),” then tilt the view and get a comprehensive idea of what the scenery is going to be like in your destination. In the view on the left, we’re facing south. The mountain scenery and the lake look amazing, and there’s a town just in the distance. But if you were looking forward to beautiful sunrises over the lake, note that there’s a mountain in the way. (Also read that: mornings are likely to be chilly.)

Now all I want is to see the yellow stick figure guy go skydiving through Tilt the View …

10 Places I Really Want to See

I always said my dream home would be a little house with a big yard. I didn’t exactly have an RV in mind when I said that, but what d’ya know? My house on wheels is just 23 feet long, and my yard pretty much covers the North American continent.

It’s going to take me a while to explore these extensive grounds. So here are ten places I’d really like to see (in no particular order):

Yosemite National Park

2013-10-20 Illilouette_Fall_08911 Yosemite National Park - Wikimedia Commons (480x640)

Mountains, forests, waterfalls … The pictures remind me of the opening scenes of Disney’s Snow White. According to the Yosemite National Park website, most of the park is operating normally despite the Rim Fire.





New England in the Autumn

2013-10-20 800px-Vermont_fall_covered_bridge_2009 - Wikimedia Commons (640x414)

I don’t know if it’s true, but I picture New England as a quiet place time forgot, where the rivers roll lazily and horses’ hooves clop across covered bridges as they haul wagons brimming with maple syrup. (Oh, never mind. Syrup season is in spring.)

Cape Disappointment State Park, Washington 

2013-10-20 Cape_Disappointment_and_Cape_Disappointment_Light - Wikimedia Commons (640x428)

I saw the name on a map and knew I wanted to go. One story behind its strange name says that Lewis and Clark, upon reaching the Pacific Ocean, hoped to meet a ship that would take them back home. No such luck. Cape Disappointment also holds the title as one of the foggiest locales in the US.

Fort Jefferson, Florida

2013-10-20 Fort-Jefferson_Dry-Tortugas - Wikimedia Commons (640x425)

I could think of worse places to serve time. This fort in the Florida Keys remained in Union hands during the Civil War and was used as a prison. Not too sure how I’d get the RV there …


Grand Canyon

2013-10-20 Grand Canyon - Wikimedia Commons (640x190)

Okay, sorry, this one’s just obvious.

Kentucky Horse Farms

2013-10-20 Kentucky_horse_farm - Wikimedia Commons (640x480)

Kentucky’s famous blue grass pastures … idyllic farm scenes … and grandiose stables that put the Walt Disney Castle to shame.




Atlantic Coast Lighthouses

2013-10-20 Portland,_Maine_Lighthouse - Wikimedia Commons (640x480)

Any one will do. Particularly if it’s really cute, and if there’s brightly-painted fishing boats on the water, and if there’s 30 different seafood restaurants in town (even though I can’t stand seafood–I’m just there for the ambiance).


Sequoia National Park

2013-10-20 Sequoia_Tunnel_Tree - Wikimedia Commons (516x364)More modern pictures reveal that the park system still hasn’t finished removing this dead tree. (But who’s complaining?)




Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

2013-10-20 400px-Bagpiper_in_Edinburgh_001 - Wikimedia Commons (400x600)As close to Scotland and Ireland as my RV will ever get! Fiddles, pipes, bodhráns, sword dancing, step dancing … even the signs along the highways are written in both English and Gaelic.




Glacier National Park

2013-10-20 Saint_Mary_Lake_and_Wildgoose_Island - Wikimedia Commons (600x399)Okay, I did save the best for last. More than anywhere else in the world, I want to see Glacier National Park. I was in Colorado once and fell in love with the Rockies, but not with the major metropolitan areas nearby. Montana is pretty sparsely populated, and that’s what I call paradise–a place where you can be alone with nature and with God and with your thoughts.

Some of the places I’ve listed are pretty well known, but the ones I’m most excited to find are the places no one’s ever heard of before. The quiet retreats you share with five or six other campers, the off-season locales, or the forgotten nooks you can have all to yourself.

What about you? Where do you most want to go? Leave me a comment, and you might tempt me to alter my “top 10” list!


How to Survive Cold Weather Camping … without a Four Seasons RV

004 (640x427)It’s getting cold these days. As repairs on the ol’ camper drag on, I’m watching the thermometer droop ever downwards. Needless to say, I thought I’d be on the road by now, but Murphy and his law had other plans.

So here I sit, watching the odd snowflake drift by, mockingly, and ask myself: How cold does it have to be before the pipes freeze on your RV?

Winter Camping

Am I completely crazy? Almost, but not quite. According to Google, people search for the term “winter rv camping” about 210 times per month. Not a lot. More surprising—people search for the phrase “winter camping”—meaning tent camping—about 4,400 times per month. So get this: tenting in the winter is about 21 times more popular than RV camping in the winter. Now that is crazy. Better put it on my bucket list.

How Cold Before Your Pipes Freeze?

I paid a little visit to several RV forums, like and Imagine my relief when I discovered that RV water lines don’t magically freeze solid the instant the thermometer brushes against 32° F. More than one person noted that if you set a dish of water out on a night that dips below freezing, you won’t find any ice in the morning. Generally speaking, most RVers find their water lines are good down to the upper twenties.

Two important factors come into play:

  • Ice takes time to form–several hours of below-freezing temps
  • The RV itself retains heat, helping to keep the pipes warm

But what if I accidentally get caught in really cold temperatures? I found cool answers to that question, too. RVers are a very creative and determined group of people.

How to Turn a Three Seasons RV into a Four Seasons RV

  • Perform an emergency winterize. Drain the tanks and water pipes and fill with RV antifreeze (usually used for storing your RV over the winter). Then outfit yourself with several gallons of drinking water, park next to a bathroom, and voilà.
  • Perform an emergency semi-winterize. Several people noted that you can still use your own bathroom, so long as you pour RV antifreeze into the holding tank. Flush with bottled water.
  • Invest in heat tape. This stuff looks so cool. It’s like a string of Christmas lights, minus the lights. You wrap the tape around your pipes, cover it with insulation, and plug it in. Tada! Heated pipes.
  • Apply skirting. From the pictures I’ve seen, campers don’t actually look cute in skirts—but it’s the only viable option for severely cold weather. Tarps, plywood, styrofoam, straw bales, and snowbanks have all been used for skirting. For extra coziness, you can park a little heater under the camper. (Does this create heated floors, too?)

Everyone is quick to note that none of these options are fail proof. So you could just …

Buy a Four Seasons RV

I’ve been a very naughty girl. While I’m at the RV stores getting repairs done and picking up supplies, I always succumb to the urge to peek inside the big, fancy new models. Apparently, I’m not the only one who wants to enjoy cold weather camping. Four seasons RVs are the thing now days. They sport such niceties as enclosed and heated water pipes and are guaranteed down to 0° F. Of course, they also come with flat-screen TVs and electric fireplaces. Hey, I wouldn’t complain!

So what do you think? Will I and my camper survive this dare against Jack Frost?