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 – 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.

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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?

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.

Reflecting on our 2019 Adventure

Click on the map for details

Our 2019 Adventure was our first year in our 2005 Safari Cheetah diesel pusher motorhome. Traveling in the motorhome as opposed to the 5th wheel presented a bit of a learning curve for us. We got the Cheetah in January and put a lot of effort getting comfortable on the “camper side” of the rig. However, when we started traveling in April (and in spite of our having taken a few shake down cruises in it) we began finding mechanical issues that needed attention. Not only that, but we had a few mishaps that added to the list of needed fixes. We worked our way through them as we traveled and finally felt we had resolved most of problems.

Over all we drove the motorhome just over 4200 miles, visiting 31 campgrounds in 17 states. Our longest move day was 305 miles but our average move was just 136 miles.

Our winter stay was a bit longer than usual. Our year started and ended at Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, Texas – 150 days total for the year. This isn’t anything close to being our favorite park, but it is near friends and family (and doctors) so it is a reasonable winter landing spot for us.

Our Thousand Trails membership continues to be a good investment for us. This year we spent 154 nights at Thousand Trails campgrounds in six states.

Our favorite campgrounds, though, remain Corps of Engineers campgrounds. Our America the Beautiful pass makes these great campgrounds a real bargain for us.

One of the highlights of the year for us was having our family join us at Hershey, PA Thousand Trails. We had a great time visiting all the sights of the Hershey-Lancaster-Gettysburg area. It was especially fun sharing with them some of our favorite attractions in the area – places like Jiggers in Mt Gretna and the Bird In Hand Farmer’s Market.

The other highlight of our year was celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary at Niagara Falls.  We celebrated all week, exploring the area everywhere from the beautiful Gorge to taking a boat ride through locks on the Erie Canal.  We saved our day at the Falls for the actual date of our anniversary and then went out for an excellent meal after a busy day at the Falls.

In a couple of weeks I’ll finish the year with an expense report – admittedly, it has been a pretty expensive year. Still, as you can see, we got a lot of bang for our buck!

2019 – Lake Conroe, TX Thousand Trails


We’ve stayed at Lake Conroe Thousand Trails near Conroe, TX several times and I’ve written several reviews of the place. Rather than rehash previous reviews I’m going to focus on just the new section (Section B) which is near the entry gate. It seems strange to us to be set up in a nice campground loop that we remember as a big, unused field. Even now new construction continues as vacation cottages are being built adjacent to the new Loop. There’s a lot to like about this section. The roads are very good and the campsites are all concrete, including a large concrete patio on each site. There are several pull through sites in addition to nice, easy access back in sites. As you can guess this new area of the campground is quite popular and sites in it don’t stay vacant for long.

Still, there are some things you might want to know about “B Loop.” As nice as the sites look, several are rather sloped. Pay attention to the back in sites closest to the big retaining wall. The sites aren’t all sloped, but some motorhomes had tires a considerable distance off the ground as people tried to get level. People in 5th wheels can get by better than those in longer motorhomes, but some have considerable piles of blocks under their jacks. On the other hand we were backed into a beautiful site on the north side of the section and got level front to back without much effort. I wouldn’t even try some of the other sites.

The only other thing to think about is that the new section is a ways from the Activity Center, the pool, and especially the lake. If you have children who want to spend time at the basketball, tennis, and mini-golf facilities you might be happier in a campsite closer to the center of the campground. In that case, the real plus of the new section for you is that there are more sites available in sections of the campground closer to the recreation facilities.

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2019 – Airport Park CoE, Waco, TX


As I have said before, Corps of Engineers campgrounds are our favorites and we have enjoyed Airport Park CoE again this stay. The campground is located on the northwest side of Waco on Lake Waco. There are many campsites with great lake views. We were in the middle loop. Only three of the campsites in our loop have full hookups. All three FHU sites are on the side of the road away from the lake. We still had great views but there were campers in pull through sites (but no sewer) between us and the lake. I think the loop most distant from the entry has more FHU spots. On future visits we will probably try for one of those sites (but see the information on the airport below).

A previous review is here.

Still, though, we had little to complain about. Our view out the front window was very nice, the site was paved and easy access, and we enjoyed having FHUs. Most of the sites slope a bit toward the water. Because of that I noticed that the motorhomes especially that had back in sites with the rear of the camper toward the water had a harder time getting level – something to keep in mind when making reservations.

And, if you are coming over the weekend, you will want to make a reservation. This popular campground fills up often.

The fact that this is called “Airport park” might help serve notice that the campground is adjacent a busy airport. Everything from recreational small planes to passenger jets to military aircraft come and go. During our visit a major fall cold front came in (record lows in the 20’s matter of fact). With a north wind, the air traffic came and went right over the campground and lake. Our middle campground was a bit west of the primary traffic – that most distant campground I mentioned was directly under it. After a few days the wind shifted and so did the air traffic. There was still some action, but not nearly as much.

Waco is a neat city with lots to see and do. We visited Magnolia attractions, went to a big Christmas market and book sale, and walked across the famous Brazos river bridge in downtown. There is more to see, but this is not our first visit to Waco. With the cold, rainy weather throughout the first part of our visit we were mostly happy to hang out at the campground, staying inside, enjoying the view.

This is a great campground and we recommend it to you.

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2019 – Lake Texoma Thousand Trails – Gordonville, TX


Due to the fact that Lake Texoma Thousand Trails, near Gordonville, TX, is located near the north-south route in and out of the Houston area it is often on our travel itinerary – either coming or going! We have stayed here several times and I have written other reviews, so there is no need to do yet another. This stay included the weekend prior to Halloween and the park went all out to make it a special time for the children. This is a popular weekend at the park and there were lots of children in attendance. Jackie enjoyed helping out with the carnival.

We also enjoyed worshiping with and visiting with our good friends at Denison, TX Church of the Nazarene.

All Lake Texoma Thousand Trails reviews are here

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2019 – Belle Starr CoE – Lake Eufaula, OK


Belle Starr CoE is another great Corps of Engineers campground. It is located on Lake Eufaula in beautiful eastern Oklahoma, about 10 miles south of I40, just off of Highway 69. This campground has a lot going for it. Most of the campsites offer a lake view, in fact, a many of the sites are along the lake. We were in a section of good pull throughs that are long enough for any rig, and right along the lake. These sites are quite popular, so it might be a challenge to just arrive and snag one of them. There are also several spots that would be ideal for smaller rigs, each right on the water.

The soil is sandy here, so there are plenty of sandy beach areas. The sand, though, is also a negative for the campground due to considerable erosion caused by flooding over the past few years.

None of the campsites have a sewer connection. Many are water and electric, although not all have water. The section we were in had 50 amp electric service. While most of the sites seemed reasonably level, I noticed that a few were obviously sloping toward the lake. I had to do some leveling back to front, but, in general, our site was quite good. In fact, I’d say that this may have been our prettiest campsite of the year.

Our Verizon signal was good and, since aiming at the satellite was out over the lake, there was no problem seeing the satellites.

This is an outstanding campground for those traveling north and south on Highway 69 or east and west on I 40.

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2019 – Beagle Bay RV Park – Sarcoxie, MO


We were invited to serve as speakers for a series of services at Mt Vernon, MO Church of the Nazarene and this RV park is right down I44 from the church. First, I’ll tell you the good things about this campground. It is very convenient to the interstate. The sites are all pull-through, full hookup, and (I think) all 50 amp. The roads and sites are pretty good gravel surface. Most sites are reasonably level. There’s a pool that appears to be maintained, although it was unused during our October stay. There’s a laundry that seems to get plenty of use. I had a clear view of the sky for the eastern Dish satellites although the shady sites would likely make it difficult if not impossible to get satellite TV from many of the sites. Our Verizon signal was solid. One unique feature of the campground is that nearly every site has porch swings installed.

The close proximity to the interstate is both a good and a bad thing. The sound of traffic never ceases. After a while you tend to tune it out, but, of course, the closer you are to the front of the campground the louder it is. It appeared to me that overnight guests were generally put in sites that put the main building between them and the interstate – a wise move. The campground, in general, just feels tired. I saw a worker painting and, honestly, there’s a lot of painting needed. The bathrooms were clean enough but had a funky smell – a mixture of old plus musty.

Several sites are occupied by longer term residents – mostly working people who get up every morning and return in the evenings. Their campsites are generally orderly and we had no negative impression of them at all. The campground workers were friendly and helpful.

Most travelers stop off just for an overnight and this campground is quite suitable for that: right on the interstate, pull through sites, easy in and out. This is far from our favorite campground, but we’d stay at it again without any hesitation.

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