2020 – Lake Texoma Thousand Trails – Gordonville, TX


We enjoyed another nice stay at Lake Texoma Thousand Trails, near Gordonville, TX. The August heat was intense and that kept us inside more than we would have liked. However, there was a bit of a reprieve in the mornings and evenings. We took advantage of that to get some walks in and to sit outside and enjoy our morning coffee.

The virus has limited activities at Lake Texoma as it has most everywhere. However, the pools are open. They received plenty of action, especially over Labor Day weekend. I was a bit surprised to see several nice sites unused over the holiday. I’m guessing it was the result of unseasonably hot weather plus the virus concerns.

I’ve reviewed this Thousand Trails before, so I’ll just add a few more photos in this review. We enjoy this campground and will look forward to staying there again.

All Lake Texoma reviews are here.

2020 – High View CoE Campground – Ennis, TX

We have traveled between Lake Conroe Thousand Trails and Lake Texoma Thousand Trails a few times. Frankly, the 300 mile drive is longer than we like traveling in a day. Our desire for a nice, yet inexpensive spot along I45 brought us to High View CoE on Bardwell Lake at Ennis, TX. The campground is about 10 minutes from the Interstate, and with our America the Beautiful Pass the price is right. One night stops aren’t our cup of tea, but this campground is just about right for a short stop between north Texas and Houston.

The sites offer 50 amps and water. However, the water hookups are well behind the sites, so bring plenty of water hose. Since our stop was a short one, we didn’t explore the entire campground, but in the first section there are only 10 or so sites that will accomodate a larger rig. We were in site 09 and it worked out just fine for us. The sites on the side of the road toward the lake are mostly short and downhill toward the lake. They would make good tent sites but you wouldn’t be able to put a bigger rig into them. When reserving online pay attention to site length!

We were told that the place was really hopping over the weekend. Our Monday night stay was very quiet. There were no campers anywhere near us.

I think High View will be on our list as a decent overnight as we drive between the Thousand Trails campgrounds.

2020 – Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, TX


We’ve spent a lot of time at Lake Conroe Thousand Trails at Willis, TX and I’ve written many reviews of this nice campground. However, our stays haven’t been in the heat of August. The afternoon heat has been brutal at times. Still, we’ve enjoyed some pretty sunsets over the lake and also some nice evenings. There were plenty of available campsites when we arrived although the campground filled up over the weekend. The Activity Center is closed and the pool is operating on a limited basis because of the pandemic. Because of the weather and the health related limitations I wouldn’t rate this stay as one of our better ones. Still we like Lake Conroe. It is one of our favorite Thousand Trails. Here are a few photos from this stay.

More Lake Conroe reviews are here.

2020 – Green Caye, Dickinson, TX

Green Caye RV Park, Dickinson, TX

We’ve been at Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, TX several times through the years so we pretty much know what to expect when we arrive.  Some of our favorite spots are in the cul-de-sacs of the campground.  There’s a bit of a community feel in these areas of the campground.   Most of the people in the cul-de-sacs are long term residents who get to know one another.  Since the cul-de-sacs are quieter with larger sites they are popular.  When we arrived at the campground in November we asked to be put on a waiting list for one of these sites.  It was February before a spot opened up and we were able to move in.

Our 3-4 month stay over the winter of 2019-20 turned into a nine month stay. Not only did the Coronavirus throw a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans, but we also filled in as an interim pastor at a local church. That position also lasted longer than expected.

Green Caye is a RV residential campground with lots of working people and permanent residents. The property is well cared for with a responsive maintenance staff. The grass is mowed on a regular basis and problems, in general, are taken care of in a timely way.

On the other hand, there are no activities most of us associate with “camping.” This is a place where people “live” in RVs and there is nothing “recreational” about it.

There are some nice walking areas on the property. The longer route circles a now-closed par 3 golf course that has been converted into cattle pasture land. The shorter route circles a retention pond that is well populated with ducks, both domestic and wild.

Since I’ve written other reviews and posted lots of photos through the years, my photos feature the many pretty sunsets we enjoyed during our evening walks.

Other Green Caye Reviews are here.

Click this for full screen photos

Six ways to battle the Texas summer heat in a RV

Like a lot of people our travel plans have been preempted by the pandemic. In our case, we had already decided to shorten our travel adventure this year as we are serving as interim pastor at Houston’s Southwest Church of the Nazarene.

And, not that this will come as a surprise to you, summers in Texas are hot! In our case, we are near the Gulf Coast, so not only is it hot but it is humid too. Not a fun mix. Not only that, but there’s no shade.

Our motorhome has two air conditioners. The bedroom a/c does a good job of keeping things cool. The living room unit, though, struggles to keep up. We’ve made six adjustments that make a big difference.

    1. Of course, we keep the front window curtains drawn. Not only that, but we have giant sunshades (similar to what people use in their cars) for these windows. We certainly miss the view out of  our big “picture window” but this is the number one thing that keeps things comfortable in our living room.
    2. It probably goes without saying, but I keep an eye on the air conditioner filters. Running as much as the units are, the filters need cleaning a couple of times a month. Our units also have “Quick Cool” (or “air dump”) vents. We open them to dump a lot of cold air straight down into the RV, rather than running air through the vents where the heat from the roof warms the air a bit.
    3. Another big improvement is adding Reflectix to several windows. This is a heat reflecting insulation that is cut to fit. We have put this product on our west facing windows as well as on other seldom used windows.
    4. The next thing we have done is install curtains the width of the rig behind the driver’s/passenger’s seats, creating a sort of vestibule. This keeps the cool air from the a/c concentrated in our living room and kitchen and helps trap the warm air from opening the front door in the front of the rig. There’s around  a 5 degree difference between the driving area and the living room.
    5. We are running a couple of electric fans that keep the air moving. One of the fans is an oscillating tower that makes a nice difference.
    6. Finally, as long as the hot wind isn’t blowing too hard, in the afternoons we leave the awning extended on the curb side of the rig. This shades the west side of the motorhome and keeps the walls from heating up.

We know that the best RV summer solution is moving to a cooler spot. However, there are times when that isn’t possible and “all the above” does help us stay comfortable.

So what are your tips for weathering summer heat and humidity in a RV?

Splendide Washer/Dryer Combo again


I’ve written before about Second Wave Expenses – these are expenses that arise from equipment wearing out, etc. and needing to be replaced. While you can’t anticipate all of this kind of stuff it is wise to leave some wiggle room in your budget to update or replace items. If you aren’t ready the unexpected expenditures can put a real crimp in your traveling lifestyle.

In our case, the latest Second Wave expense is the untimely death of our Splendide 2100XC. One of the first things we bought in preparation for fulltiming was the Splendide. In fact, we bought our used 5th wheel, went straight to a tire shop and had new tires put on it and then we dropped the new-to-us rig off to have the Splendide installed.

If you haven’t used one of these machines let me describe it’s use. This is an all-in-one unit that washes and dries in the same drum. It is made for tight quarters so it is nothing like a big home style washer and dryer set. The loads are small and it washes a bit bigger load than it dries. As a rule of thumb, you wash a load a day.

Because of that, the Splendide gets used a lot. My estimate is that our Splendide did 2500 loads and served us for seven years before it died of bearing failure. This failure was telegraphed to us as the poor machine began shaking the rig even more than usual during it’s spin cycle.

Really, no complaints.

We found that a local dealer had these washer/dryers on sale and decided to just bite the bullet and get a new one. Frankly, if the new one gives us the same service we’ll be satisfied. Still, these kind of Second Wave expenses do tend to bring pain to the bank account.

Other Splendide posts are here.

Fulltiming and the Coronavirus

2019 – Airport Park CoE, Waco, TX

The coronavirus outbreak is a fluid situation.  Today’s guidance from officials may be outdated by this evening.  To some extent we are all just waiting for the next domino to fall.  Fulltime RVers aren’t exempt from all the uncertainty.  The other day I saw a meme on Facebook picturing a class C parked alone on a peninsula overlooking a pretty lake.  The caption, meant to bring a smile, said that they were practicing social distancing.  Then, in less than a day I saw a news article that New Mexico was closing its campgrounds.  I couldn’t help but wonder if that RV was being evicted from that isolated spot.

I see that FMCA and Escapees have announced changes in their rally schedules.  No doubt that leaves some fulltimers looking for a place to land now that they won’t be attending their rally as planned.

In our case, we’re still at our winter campground.  In fact, we had already planned on a longer than usual stay while I serve as interim pastor at a local church during their pastoral search.  A few days ago I mentioned to the campground management that we just might be staying into the summer – not because of the church assignment but because our summer plans might be disrupted by the pandemic.

At this point I think fulltimers might be wise to find a campground they like that will allow longer stays.  Many of us are in the higher risk group and it makes sense to take advantage of our more unstructured lifestyle to land in an acceptable spot and wait for the storm to blow over. Of course, everyone has their own particular concerns: family needs, events, appointments and the like. If possible, though, I’d be looking into suitable long term parking.

And, while I’m writing, I’ll switch to my pastoral identity for a moment.  From a health point of view, we’re urged to wash our hands to protect against a virus infection.  From a spiritual point of view, I urge you to spend time with the Lord – maybe whispering a 20 second prayer each time you wash your hands – pray for our world and for ourselves and those we love.  Ask the Lord to protect you against the infection of fear and anxiety that is sweeping across the world. Also, you might include a prayer of thanksgiving for running water and soap. Oh yeah, also pray for our President and other national leaders; maybe health care providers and medical researchers too.

Come to think of it, you might need more than 20 seconds for those prayers.

2020 – Plans written in Jello


The phrase “our plans are written in jello” didn’t originate with us. However, we think it’s a great way to describe not only our touring RV lifestyle but our general approach to living. Twice before we adjusted our plans to serve as interim pastor. This year we’ve been asked to serve the Houston Southwest Church of the Nazarene in Richmond, TX during their pastoral transition. We’re enjoying getting to know the good folks of the church – they’ve made us feel right at home.

Hopefully, our presence will smooth the transition between pastors. Once we finish at Southwest we plan on yet another type of RV adventure, but that plan is also written in jello at this point.

2019 – End of the Year Expense Report

doing-the-budget
Here’s our 2019 end of year Expense sheet…

I’m listing the camping related expenses as line item monthly averages. Then, I total everything else up and give just a general dollar figure. If you are researching fulltime RVing you already know what you pay for food, health insurance, etc. (or even if you don’t, my figures for such things won’t have any real world connection to what you spend on them). Also, by combining the non-RVing expenses I feel I’m better able to maintain our privacy.

We didn’t do any volunteering this year, so our campsite expenses are what we actually spent (with memberships prorated and included).  One mitigating factor here is that we spent about four months paying a monthly rate.  The rest of the time we enjoyed our touring lifestyle, moving an average of every 9-10 days.

I want you to know that our 2019 RV Maintenance and upgrades expenses aren’t as accurately reported as has been done in the past.  In January we bought a 2005 Safari Cheetah motorhome.  We sold our 5th wheel and pickup, and then bought a small car to tow.  I’ve never included capital expenditures in these reports.  This year as we moved into the motorhome we had many “moving in expenses” that I lumped into the cost of the RV; they aren’t reflected in this report.  Beyond that, as we began traveling, we had a mixture of RV expenses…some were part of getting set up for travel. Others were related to problems that developed as part of living the RV lifestyle.  I’ve tried to separate out the “we’re just getting the new rig ready for travel” from the “stuff happens” kind of expenses.  I’m considering the “getting ready” costs as part of buying the rig.  The other costs are included, but the figures are more ball park numbers and not as exact as they have been in other years’ reports.

And, sorry to say the higher medical costs from the previous year continued into this year, driving up our “just living” numbers. Aside from that our expenses have been fairly level compared to other years.

As you consider this expense report please remember that we aren’t trying to get by as cheaply as possible.  We just try to live within our means.   With the motorhome purchase and setup this year, we stretched things to (and honestly beyond) the limit!  There’s a lot of minimalist information on the internet – if that is your goal, this information won’t help you very much.  In other words, this isn’t a competition to see who can spend the least.

2019 Monthly Expense Averages
Camping fees (Out of pocket + pro-rated annual memberships*) $408.36
Cell/Internet/TV $256.87
Diesel (pickup sold early in the year, the rest was fuel for only the motorhome) $175.58
Gas (note that we now tow a small, very fuel efficient car for a daily driver) $39.43
Misc $25.88
RV Maintenance and upgrades (see the explanation above)
$500.00
Vehicle Maintenance (Mostly on the pickup prior to it’s sale in the early spring)
$185.89
Registrations/Vehicle Insurance (prorated to monthly and adjusted to reflect vehicle purchases and sales) $217.50
Propane $3.17
Mail Service $15
TOTAL $1827.68
Non RV expense – food, medical, “just living”** TOTAL $2275.80
MONTHLY GRAND TOTAL AVERAGE
$4103.80

*Note 1: Like Thousand Trails, Good Sams, etc. – prorated to monthly cost -but NOT including original buy in costs, if any

**Note 2: These expenses include items like: Groceries & Dining Out, Clothing, Hair, Medical & Dental Expenses, Charity, Health Insurance, and Entertainment – but not Income Tax and a few other expenses – or capital expenses like buying a car and getting it set up to tow four down

PS: If you find this information helpful, please leave a short comment so I’ll know it is worth the effort needed to provide it. Thanks.