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2019 – Project: Roof Vents Repair and Upgrade

One of the few things we don’t like about RV Fulltiming is dealing with severe weather and the other night we had a big thunderstorm come through. For a few minutes we had nickle sized hail. Tell you what, having hail beating down on the RV is attention-getting! Our motorhome has three roof vents/exhaust fans. One is covered. The other two, one in a hallway and the other in the bathroom, have no cover over the lid.


We were already aware that one of those lids had a small corner crack so replacing it was on the agenda. The hail storm, though, moved that project to the front burner. The hail broke through that lid, knocking holes in it. The other lid cracked but held. As the storm continued, I grabbed some gaffer tape and taped the broken lid from the inside the best I could. The next morning I got on the roof to survey the damage. Happily, the only damage was to the two lids. I taped them both up some more and ordered replacements as well as new vent covers.


The project was easy enough and in an hour or so I had the new lids plus new covers installed. The covers will not only protect the lids in rough weather and against sun damage but will keep the rain out if the vents are left open. They can also be cracked open when we are traveling to create airflow through the camper.


This is an easy upgrade and I recommend it to anyone who has a RV that doesn’t have the covers.

2018 – Shenandoah Valley Campground – Verona, VA


We only intended on spending three nights at Shenandoah Valley Campground, Verona, VA. It turned out that our stay was shortened by a day. The campground is reasonably near I81, nestled in the Middle River valley. The campground is all about that river, which is a gentle stream, perfect for tubing most of the time. Then, near the popular tenting area is the real gem of the campground: a beautiful waterfall dropping in from the higher ground opposite the campground. Again, our stay was brief and in the week following heavy rains from what was Hurricane Florence. With the river running high (and it was flooding the campground in the days prior to our arrival), the waterfall was stunning.

There is a camping area on the plateau above the large camping area on the river; that’s where we stayed. Really, we were glad to be a bit higher, knowing that the river was pretty full and that more rain was forecast. My thinking was that even if the river overflowed its banks again we would be high enough to be clear of any danger. After the Hurricane Florence related flooding the campground staff worked many hours putting fresh gravel down throughout the large water-front area of the campground which is all gravel – roads and campsites.

This is a destination campground with a large, heated pool and several hot tubs located indoors. There’s also a nice fishing lake and a couple of playgrounds. The kids have a blast bike riding, fishing, tubing, swimming, and feeding the many mostly-tame rabbits.

WiFi is slow and only available in the campground store.  My Verizon signal was poor to zero.  I got a satellite signal but not many people would.  Having a homestyle dish on a tripod let me set up in the only sweet spot, just peeking over the trees to the south of us.  The sites themselves are pretty tight with neighbors very close in on both sides.

As I said, our stay was supposed to be three nights but after a night of rain on Saturday night a staff member knocked on our door telling us that the entire campground was being evicted by the sheriff’s office. The issue wasn’t flooding in the campground. Rather, it was the county road leading to the campground that was in danger of going underwater. We were told that we needed to be out within the hour.

So, we skipped breakfast and gave up on attending church and began preparing to move. It usually takes us a bit less than an hour to be ready to pull out. In this case, we were ready to go in around 40 minutes. The road out was fine, but there is one section that dips down right beside the river for a 100 yards or so. Water was lapping against the pavement as we came through.

For us, it was more of an inconvenience than anything else and we just moved down the highway to our next scheduled stop. I do feel sorry for the campground especially in light of all the work they did to get open again following the flooding.

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2018 – Kenisee Lake Thousand Trails – Jefferson, Ohio

Kenisee Lake Thousand Trails at Jefferson, Ohio has a lot going for it. There are many nice campsites. The big rigs have some really long pull through, 50 amp, FHU sites that are out in the open. There are also a number of back in sites suitable for most any sized rig. Other areas of the campground have more trees. Most of those sites are 30 amp FHU sites. Many are big enough for bigger rigs, but are popular with those with smaller rigs. Kenisee Lake is an unusual Thousand Trails in that campsites are assigned rather than the usual pick-your-own site approach. It works here because those with larger RVs are happy to park in the big 50 amp sites. Those with the smaller rigs are happy to park in the prettier sites near the lake. Everyone likes the set up with people being assigned suitable sites. If there was a mixture of FHU and W/E only sites there would be a lot of pushback about this campground breaking with the Thousand Trails first-come-first-served policy but as it is people are okay with this approach. It might be worth noting that the big rig portion of the campground has no restroom or bathhouse. Also, as is the rule rather than the exception, there are many sites that have been sold to seasonals.

Other reviews are here: 20132019

The main feature of Kenisee Lake is, well, Kenisee Lake – a pretty lake. There is also a small pool, nice mini-golf course, basketball court, Activity Center, and other amenities. The tenting area is more popular than we usually see at Thousand Trails.

My Verizon signal was usable but not strong. Data throughput was slow but workable, especially using the signal booster. I had no problem getting satellite TV.

During our stay the weather wasn’t great. It seemed to be either raining or, when the rain ended, very hot and humid. While the gravel surface of our campsite kept us above water the rest of the campsite tended to go underwater. Of course, we can’t blame the campground for the weather but it would be nice to not have to wade through water to get in and out of the RV.

I don’t think, of all the Thousand Trails we’ve visited, that I’ve ever seen as active, on hands manager as Vickie. She was out and about constantly and when there was an issue with my electricity she’s the one who showed up with the multimeter to check it out.

We like Kenisee Lake and will happily return here on future trips across northeastern Ohio.

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2018 – Counting down to D-Day (Departure Day)

 Our 4 1/2 month stay at San Jacinto Battleground where we have been volunteering on Battleship Texas is drawing to an end.  This has been our 4th season here.  It is nice feeling we are helping out and the staff always makes us feel appreciated.  We also like being close to family and friends during these winter stays.  We had more winter this year than we wanted with several cold, icy days.  All in all though, we have few complaints; enjoying meeting people and getting to know our fellow camp hosts.

This year, in addition to our hours volunteering, we have filled in as interim pastor at Baytown Nazarene.  The church isn’t far from us and we’ve helped out there the entire time we’ve been at our “winter quarters.”  The church family has treated us very well and it has been good getting to know them better.  If you add our time filling in at Denison prior to arriving at San Jacinto, I’ve ministered nearly every Sunday over the past 5-6 months.  No complaints, but it hasn’t felt very much like retirement to me!  Lord willing, I’ll enjoy some down time now that we’re beginning our 2018 Adventure.

The closer we get to D-Day the more time I spend looking at potential travel routes and campgrounds.  Several reservations have already been made; especially at popular campgrounds during the busiest times of the year.   Our ultimate destination this year is the coast of Maine, but we won’t make it that far till mid- to late summer.  As a planner, I enjoy putting the trip together and then refining it. That process will continue all through the Adventure.

So, it won’t be long before we blast off.  We’ll keep posting sightseeing and campground reviews here to the blog.  Stay tuned!

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2017 – Wilson State Park, KS

We spent four nights at Wilson State Park located in central Kansas, not far from I70. I had to smile as I realized we were in the “Hell Creek” area, but camped near Tatanka Lodge, a large shelter where church services are conducted through the summer months. This portion of the state park has a cluster of campgrounds scattered in the hills surrounding a pretty lake. The steep hills don’t match the traditional view of flat land Kansas! In our case, though, the wind very much did fit the Kansas stereotype. We had lots of hot, dry wind with gusts rocking the camper and blowing one lawn chair clear across the road. Obviously, this isn’t an everyday occurrence, but we dealt with the wind (at times over 40 mph!) our entire stay.

There are only a few full hookup sites in this part of the state park and we were happily settled into one of them. Like most places, there were very few campers present during the week, but things got busier over the weekend when every spot, including camping cabins were booked. One thing you might want to know is that above the camping fee there’s a $5 a day entry fee. There’s a nearby Corps of Engineers campground with, I think, electric only that might be a better short stay.

I had no problem getting a satellite signal – keeping it was a different thing, as the strong winds tended to move the dish just enough to disrupt the signal. During one especially strong blast associated with a passing thunderstorm one of the guy wires I had put on it snapped. My Verizon had a weak but usable signal.

We enjoyed the star-lit nights and beautiful sunsets over the lake. The near record temperatures and constant winds rocking the camper, though, kept us inside through much of the day. Had the weather been more enjoyable I think we would have been quite satisfied with this stop. The weather, though, caused us to look forward to calmer, cooler days elsewhere.

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2017 – Farm Island State Recreation Area, Pierre, SD

20170818_145911.jpg After driving nearly 200 miles across the corn and hay fields of the South Dakota Prairie we dropped into the Missouri River Valley and arrived at a beautiful lakeside campground on the outskirts of Pierre, SD. Farm Island Recreation Area is a pretty spot with large, level sites and 50 amp electrical hookups. There is a convenient water and dump station near the entrance. We arrived, happily with reservations, on an August Friday afternoon and the campground was nearly full. There were many families and the kids had a blast swimming in the lake. The lake is fed by the Missouri River. It has a sandy bottom and is pretty shallow for a good distance out – making it perfect for children. Because of the layout of the campground only a fourth of the sites are by the water. Because of that, people pretty much walk through those sites to get to the lake. I know some people get bent out of shape when that happens, but at this campground it’s just the way it is. We smiled and said “hello” and they smiled in return. By Sunday evening, though, that was all over. The place was nearly empty and we pretty much had the campground to ourselves the rest of our stay.

20170818_141312.jpg Here are a few things you might want to know if you plan on visiting Farm Island. In addition to the camping fee there is a South Dakota State Parks vehicle entry fee of $6 a day. Since we were intending to stay four days and then visit Custer State Park later on we got a $30 annual pass instead. There is also a $7.50 out of state booking fee. I had no problem getting satellite TV which is a good thing because I don’t think there was any over the air TV. My Verizon signal was solid. When I tested the water with our TDS meter it reported numbers as high as 1000. That’s really high and at the limit of what is considered fit for human consumption. I suggest you bring drinking water. Finally, the flies are real pests throughout this area. Be prepared to defend yourself unless the wind is blowing.

20170821_123147.jpg Our final day at Farm Island was “eclipse day.” We woke to a severe thunderstorm that was pretty scary – wind, hail, and a downpour. Really, we should have bugged out to one of the shower houses. However, the storm was on us before we knew it. After 10 or 15 minutes of (thankfully) small hail, things let up. We feared the heavy clouds would block our view of the eclipse which was at nearly 90% for the area. However, at just the right time the skies cleared and we had a good view of the impressive display of God’s handiwork.

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2016 – New Air Conditioner Project

20160621_120731.jpg Our surprise  change of plans means we’re “enjoying” our first Houston summer since retirement in 2013.  It’s also our first extended hot/humid stay in our 2007 Hitchhiker II.  Of course, the weather isn’t unexpected.  After all, we lived in this area for many years.

While we’re ready to cope with the “summer swelter,” apparently our Hitchhiker isn’t.  It’s wired for two rooftop units, but only has one and as an uncommonly hot June arrived the comfort level in our house, well, let’s say it wasn’t so comfortable.

My first effort at keeping my cool was putting Reflectrix on several of the windows.  It makes the camper feel a bit cave-like but it does help.

Unfortunately, not enough.

My second effort was to close off the vents in the bedroom and keep the door closed.  The idea was to keep all the cool air I could in the kitchen/living room area.  I think it made a difference – at least it made the bedroom hotter.

So, unfortunately, not enough.

My third effort was buy a portable air conditioner.  These units have a big dryer-like hose on them that vents the hot air and humidity out the window.  The 10,000 btu unit we got was pretty loud and, if I put it in the closed-off bedroom it worked okay.  However, downstairs still got uncomfortably warm.  Not only that, but the unit we had tended to spit water at us.  I decided it was not only lacking in cooling ability for our needs but was probably somewhat defective.  I took it back.

We still didn’t have enough.

My fourth effort was to call an a/c guy to come in and evaluate our rooftop unit.  By now I was starting to think my only hope was adding the second rooftop air conditioner.  He thought my air conditioner could use a good cleaning and that it might help a little.  However, he warned us that our air conditioner was, after all, a 2007 (or earlier) model.  Freshly cleaned or not it was getting close to going to the air conditioner retirement home.  Maybe, he suggested, it was time to bite the bullet and go for a new one.

A few days later, with the wallet somewhat deflated, our Hitchhiker has a new 15,000 btu air conditioner.  I’m not sure how it will do come August, and it may be that we will have to deflate the wallet even more for a second unit, but for now….

….I think we have enough.

Reflections on our 2015 Adventure

We enjoyed our 2015 Adventure very much! It took us to the northern Midwest with an emphasis on Wisconsin and Michigan and included some great stops along the way, both coming and going.

100_4806.JPG Our favorite campgrounds are Corps of Engineers. They almost always offer great campsites in pretty settings. Our America the Beautiful pass gives us half-price camping at these parks, making them not only great spots to camp but also provide a real savings too. Some of these campgrounds only offer water/electric hookups but others offer full hookup sites. You probably need to plan ahead and make reservations if you want to stay at these popular campgrounds on busy summer weekends.

Topping our list this year in order of our visits are these Corps of Engineers Campgrounds:

PHOTO_20150727_142048.jpg We also found some great city and county parks like Castle Rock, Friendship, WI (people kept asking us how we found this local, but out-of-the-way camping gem), Holtwood Campground, Oconto, WI, and Finn Road Campground at Essexville, MI. While these campgrounds don’t offer us the great America the Beautiful pass prices, they are still economical, great campgrounds that beat most private campgrounds we visit.

IMG_4220.JPG Our membership in Thousand Trails is our best choice when it comes to finances and we stay in them whenever we can. However, we don’t want to limit our travels to only Thousand Trails. Depending on the parts of the country we visit they are more or less a part of our plans. This year we were in areas where there aren’t as many Thousand Trails so we didn’t use our membership as much. Also, these campgrounds are generally not our favorite places to camp. Some are quite nice and others aren’t nice at all. We are glad we have our membership and plan to use it a lot in the future, although there are a few Thousand Trails we would likely skip all together.

P8129962.JPG I think the sightseeing highlight of the year for us was Pictured Rocks National Seashore at Munising, MI at Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The natural beauty is amazing. Running a close second was Mackinac Island, MI, just a couple of hours east of Pictured Rocks. This is a world class tourist destination that shouldn’t be missed.

I think Michigan in general, and the Upper Peninsula specifically was our most pleasant surprise of the Adventure. The area is interesting and beautiful. I don’t know what I expected, but the UP was a fun place to visit and I’ll happily return in years to come.

2015 - Cundiff Family on a rainy day at Silver Dollar City - Branson, MO.jpg One lesson learned in this Adventure is how much fun it is to rekindle old friendships. Since Jackie and I met while in college at Olivet Nazarene in Illinois, and thanks to Facebook reconnects, we were able to visit with people from those days. It was so good to get together in person. Also, we met up with RV friends, both old and new, as we traveled. We even enjoyed a weekend with Jackie’s brother and sister-in-law plus time with my sister. Our son and his family joined us for a fun, if wet, time in Branson, MO. While we love traveling, there’s something special about these friendship connections that does nothing but add to the joy of our journeys.

20150327_142949.jpg We have yet to have a full-scale mechanical breakdown while on the road but this year we came very close, not once, but twice. Both times Good Samaritans came to my rescue and repairs were made. I’m very thankful for help beyond the call of duty. Also, I was reminded this year of just how much I dislike threatening weather while in the 5th wheel. We had multiple instances of severe thunderstorms with rain, wind, lightening, and hail. I try to not overreact to these storms, but I spent too many nights watching weather radar and listening to the weather radio.

100_3734.JPG In 2015 we decided to try out volunteering at the San Jacinto Monument Texas State Historical park in the Houston, TX area. We spent the first months of the year there, helping out at both the Monument and on the Battleship Texas which is on the same property. In return for volunteering 25 hours a week we were given “free parking” there. We enjoyed the experience enough that we signed up for another stay in the new year. For us, this is a great win: it is interesting and fun, close to family and many friends, and a real money saver. We also enjoyed being part of the community of volunteers and staff. That’s not to say there are no negatives, but overall, it’s a positive experience.

As you can see we had a good 2015 Adventure and, yes, we’re already working on the 2016 Adventure. We plan to head for the Rocky Mountains – Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and then across to the Black Hills of South Dakota!

Project: Lasko 755320 Ceramic Tower

We have three options for heating our camper:

  1. The furnace – which is very inefficient but produces a lot of heat; runs on propane which we always pay for
  2. The heat pump – part of the air conditioning system but of limited use when the outside air is colder; runs on electricity which we may or may not pay for
  3. A space heater – amount of heat depends on the unit; and, again, we may or may not pay for the electricity

100_4707.JPG The past winters we have used a combination of the three.  However, in our case we generally spend the winter months in places where the electric service is part of the campsite, so using electric heat makes a lot of sense for us.  We’ve had  “cube” heaters that help a lot but still leave the 5th wheel feeling a bit drafty and with uneven heat.

On the RV forums I kept reading about the Lasko 755320 Ceramic Tower and how happy people are with it so we decided to give one a try.  You can find them at several retailers or online.  The tower has a digital readout, can be programmed, has a timer, and rotates.  It also comes with a remote control.  When we got ours it was 68 degrees in the camper – that running our little space heater and with the heat pump set on 72 and cycling on and off.  Within a half hour the Lasko had raised the temperature to 75.

I’m thinking we’ll remove the space heaters from service all together; although we may keep one as a backup and to supplement the heat on especially cold mornings.  At this point, I recommend this unit to RVers who are looking for alternative heating solutions.

Campground Review: Crystal Lake Campground – Strum, WI

PHOTO_20150714_095727.jpg Crystal Lake Campground is a nice city operated campground in Strum, WI. It’s a few miles south and west of I94 and within easy driving distance of Eau Claire, about 30 minutes away. There are basically two sections of the campground. The older section consists of sites 1-21. These sites are grass camping spots with plenty of trees and a feeling of privacy. They are also water/electric only. Sites 22-42 are developed gravel campsites offering full hookups. There aren’t as many trees, but a few of the sites look out over the upper portion of the lake. Many of the others border a big open grassy area that has a mown park-like feel. There are restroom/shower buildings in both sections of the park as well a big children’s playground and two volleyball courts – these get a lot of use by the locals.

PHOTO_20150718_101537.jpg The lake itself is a small, but pretty lake. Right at the campground it’s more of a fast moving stream emptying into the lake. However, a short walk toward town takes you right along the lake shore and then over the highway bridge and dam into the small downtown.

Adjacent to the campground and, in fact, right next to several of the campsites in the older section of the campground is a nice nine-hole golf course. If a person likes to golf they can basically walk out of their camper and onto a fairway. The golf course also has a restaurant.

Aside from the golf course, the only other primary draw is Eau Claire which does have some nice attractions as well as about any kind of shopping a person might want to do. There are campgrounds closer to the city, but for the price and amenities, Crystal Lake is an excellent alternative.

100_4170.JPG My Verizon 4G worked well and since we were backed up to a wide open field I had no problem at all getting a satellite signal. Also worth mentioning is that the campground has excellent WiFi, a rare find in most any campground. We had not one, but two severe thunderstorms during our one week stay. Both times park personnel knocked on our door (once at 3:00 a.m.) to warn us of the coming storm. I appreciated that extra effort. However, the concrete block restrooms were a distance from our campsite and the “official” place of refuge was the fire station in town, a 5 minute drive away! We stayed put, watching the weather radar on the internet. Had there been anything bigger, though, we would have been in a tough spot.

The open sky could be a real plus for fans of sitting out at night and counting satellites. However, the bad weather I just mentioned plus the abundance of smoky campfires pretty much drove us in after dark. In the right conditions, though, this place would be great for people who like to star gaze.

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