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Tampa, Stop #3 Family and Local Attractions

Our son, Shawn, and his girlfriend, Laura, were really sweet to us on a recent trip to Tampa. They offered us a lovely bedroom, cooked us wonderful breakfasts, and drove us all over to see the sights. It was also special to be able to spend Veteran’s Day with my favorite veteran!

We were in the Tampa area for four nights, two with  Shawn and Laura  and two at Hillsborough River State Park.   It was wonderful to be with them and to be in Tampa, which offers lots to see and do, plus some pretty great food.

We went to an interesting restaurant our first night, Ford’s Garage Restaurant.   Vintage cars abound and everything automotive is the theme.  Onion rings are served on an oil funnel and tires are around the sinks in the bathroom.  Very cute decor and the food was excellent.  I had the Kobe beef on the high-octane burger with sweet potato tater tots.

High Octane Burger

Our next day was Veteran’s Day and we started the day with a visit to Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center.  The manatees are attracted to the warm water that is produced by the generation of electricity and at peak times, hundreds of manatees are present.  It has been active for thirty years with over 5 million visitors.  However, our visit was early in the season and we only saw a couple of manatees.   We also saw some big fish and a shark.

Shawn and Laura at the Manatee Viewing Center
Shy manatee sighting

Next, we headed to Sarasota and Saint Armand’s Circle on Lido Key.  There was an Art Show that day and we saw some interesting pieces, however,  the parking was horrific.  We spent a good bit of time driving around looking for a spot to park.   Saint Armand’s has many restaurants and shops.   There is a Ringling Brother’s Museum in Sarasota, but we did not have the time to visit.   Lunch was at Cha Cha Coconuts—another fine meal.

Cha Cha Coconuts

Dinner was at the award-winning Columbia Restaurant at Ybor City.  The restaurant was established in 1905 and is Florida’s oldest restaurant.  We were joined by Laura’s mother and aunt and their  significant others.  Our dinner included a Flamenco show, which was entertaining.   The best part of our dinner was the 1905 salad which has an unlikely ingredient, Worcestershire sauce.  Delicious! I would also highly recommend the mojitos and the white chocolate bread pudding as well.

Laura and Shawn
Rose and Jack
Josie and Ross

Our second full day was overcast with a good bit of rain.  We had considered visiting Busch Gardens, but the weather was not great for it.  Instead, we visited John’s Pass at Redington Shores.  We were able to avoid the rain and do some shopping.  We returned via the Sunshine Skyway, a Tampa landmark, and a very cool bridge.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

We returned to our campsite on this afternoon.  We said goodbye to Shawn and Laura and to the granddogs, Gator and Axel.  It was so great staying with them!

Gator and Axel

On our final full day, we visited Tampa on our own.  We went to the Tampa Museum of Art and also had a nice lunch there.  The museum featured some ancient Egyptian art and the works of Mernet Larson, an artist upon which I was unfamiliar.  Her art was interesting.

Mernet Larson, Getting Measured

The museum is on Tampa’s Riverwalk, which we also visited.  It was a warm, sunny day and the walk was very pleasant.  We discovered that a branch of the Columbia Restaurant is also on Riverwalk.  That 1905 salad was calling us,  so we walked for about a mile with frequent stops along the way to get to it.

Laura’s office in the Pink Palace is in the background
Lots of shaded seating available along the Hillsborough River

The Columbia Cafe did not disappoint.  Great service, a beautiful view, and another 1905 salad with drinks.

Columbia Cafe
Mojito and beer, so good!

After our early dinner, we took a Lyft back to our car and headed back to the campground.  We were on the road to Anastasia State Park, the last leg of our Tampa trip early the next morning.

So long Tampa!

 

 

 

 

Tampa, Stop #2 Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River is a Florida State Park located about a half hour northeast of Tampa. It is a beautiful park with a “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” look with its gorgeous live oak trees and abundance of spanish moss.

We have family in Tampa and this trip was more about visiting them than camping.  We decided to spend a couple of nights at their home, so we left Endeavor, our teardrop, all alone at the park.

We set up our rug, awning, and chairs so it would look like we would return at any time.  Teardrops are so light, it is easy for them to be stolen and we worried a little about being gone so long.

Our time with family was great and we did a lot of cool things in Tampa.  I will cover those activities in a separate post.

On the afternoon before we left to return to the park,  I received a disturbing message via Facebook Messenger.  It went something like:  “Ma’am, this is the Ranger in Charge at Hillsborough River.  I need you to call me ASAP.”  This freaked me out!  My first though was that something had happened to our camper.

I called immediately and spoke with the ranger.  He was concerned about us and said that several people had noticed that we had not been around.  He wanted to be sure that we were okay.  I thought it as really great that he went to the trouble of tracking us down to confirm that all  was well.

We had two nights and one full day with Hillsborough River as home base.  The river and a canoe launch was just across from our site, #32.

River is beyond the trees
Hillsborough River
Cedar Landing Shelter

We sometimes camp with friends and play games at night.  The above  shelter would be nice for this as it is screened and would enable us to be protected from bugs.  Bugs were not bad at all during our time at the park, but we were not outside with lights on for a long period.

There were some nice amenities we did not use.  There is a very large pool, a cafe, and rentals for canoes and bikes.   There is also a playground and several hiking trails.

One thing about Florida State Parks that I really like is that they have dishwashing stations with hot water.   With our limited cooking, I loaded up our dirty dishes in a plastic bucket and carried them to the station for washing.  With no sewer available, this was a lot easier than it is in parks without this option.

We were given a large, heavy-duty cot by our son’s girlfriend and we tried it out one beautiful morning.  It was glorious laying on the very comfortable cot looking up at the gorgeous blue sky and amazing trees!  The cot actually holds both of us.

Our new equipment—thanks Laura!
View from the cot
Path to our site

We had a very relaxing stay at the campground and hope to visit it again.  It is the most beautiful park I have visited in my limited camping experience.  We are big fans of Florida State Parks.  One tip, the bathhouse near site #77 is much newer and nicer than the one nearest site #32.  However, we loved our site and think it would be a good one for bigger rigs as well.

HAPPY CAMPING!

 

Hanging out on the new cot

 

Tampa-Stop #1 Falling Waters State Park

Falling Waters State Park was a place to stay the night on our way to Tampa. It was the first of three Florida State Parks on this trip. The park has Florida’s tallest waterfall, which is 73 feet. A gristmill was powered by the waterfall during the Civil War.

This trip was primarily to visit family in Tampa, but we did not want drive  the ten-hours to get there in one day.  Falling Rivers State Park is roughly at the half-way point, which worked very well for us.

We reserved site #3 and were very happy with it.  It was on a pull-through concrete slab and, for the first time, I parked us at our campsite.  My husband is the back-up king and getting us installed at campsites has always been his job.

This was our first Florida State Park and we really liked it.  It was a small campground, but very well-maintained.  Typical of state parks we have visited, it has electrical and water, but no sewer or cable.  There is an older bathhouse and two newer family bathrooms with heat.  There is also a dishwashing area.

We did not disconnect from our tow vehicle as we were not leaving the park until the next morning.  We had a late lunch in Dothan, Alabama, at the Thai House, so dinner was only minimal snacks.  By the way, the food at Thai House was delicious.

Site #3 Falling Waters State Park

We removed items stored in the cabin and set them under the galley door to protect from moisture. We did not set up any tents, not even the privacy tent, as the bathhouse was very close.  In the photo below, you can see the bathhouse from our site.

Bathhouse in the background

We had a couple of hours of daylight left, which we used to check out the waterfall and the sinkhole into which it flows.  It was an easy walk to the waterfall with a path that was mostly level trail with an abundance of boardwalks along the way.

Trail to the waterfall
Boardwalks along the path

We had inquired if the waterfall had very much water and already knew it had been dry in the area and it was only a trickle, so it was not a disappointment.  It was interesting to see it with the sinkhole below.  It was certainly worth the pleasant walk to get there.

The waterfall
The sinkhole

The sign below reminded me that we are in Florida and alligators are everywhere. Not a pleasant thought when you think about getting up in the middle of the night and walking to the bathhouse. I kept my flashlight close.

Alligators have been known to attack humans

We showered when we arrived back at our camper and had some snacks, then we settled in for the night.   We are off daylight savings time and it gets dark early.  It was cool to be outside, but very comfortable in our camper.

We tested our little makeshift air antenna and were pleasantly surprised to see that it pulled in ten stations, all with a great picture.  Of course, results would vary greatly by location.  I like it because it is so small and easy to store and retrieve.

Air antenna

There was a gentle rain most of the night.  We had our fan vent slightly open but rain did not penetrate our cabin.  We were warm and comfortable.

The next morning, there was very little to do before leaving as we were having breakfast on the road. Next stop, Hillsborough River State Park, which is in the Tampa area.

HAPPY CAMPING

Falling Waters State Park

 

Adapting to a Teardrop Without a Toilet

A bathroom was on our list of “must haves” for a camper. We ultimately purchased the NuCamp T@G for many good reasons, but the lack of a toilet required a major adaptation on my part.

I am a newly-retired, former accounting professional, newbie camper who has never been particularly outdoorsy.   We wanted to give camping a try, but did not initially consider campers without toilets.  I felt that giving up an indoor toilet was just too much.  However, we settled on our T@G because it fits in our basement and is easily pulled by our tow vehicle.

For some readers, this post may be TMI, but I would have liked to have read something like this when we first considered our camper and in the early days of our camping.

The biggest challenge for me would be to adapt to very uncertain and varied bathroom options.  I was not worried about showering at campsites, but I was worried about how I would handle getting up in the middle of the night, which happens often.

We have been on nine camping trips to ten different campsites and I can honestly say that I am far more comfortable with camping in our T@G, but it has been a process.

Worst Nightime Experience 

This occurred on our first camping trip.  On the first night, I had a flashlight handy and had checked out the bathhouse location in the daylight, so felt I was as ready as I could be for my nocturnal trip.  The bathhouse was down a trail with a couple of turns. It was well-lit, so I had no trouble finding it.  Coming back, I took a wrong turn and ended up in a different area.  I could have wandered around for quite awhile, but recognized one of our friend’s campers, which helped me navigate to ours.

The next night I used a five-gallon bucket filled with kitty litter and topped with a toilet lid.  (This was our very low-tech solution.)  It was in a tent on our campsite and was far better than hiking in the woods.  Despite the convenience,  I did not like the cleanup.

New Strategy—Camp Near a Restroom

This strategy actually worked very well!  Compared to hiking through the woods, walking a short distance to a bathhouse you could see from your campsite was easy.   I stayed with this strategy through several camping trips and will use it again whenever it is a good option.

It was not a good option on a trip with a group of our friends.  We booked our sites early and they had prime spots.  I chose not to stay in their area because it was not near a restroom.  Our area was not as shady as theirs, had far more bugs, and we were not able to be where the action was with them.  This got me to thinking another option was needed.

Next Strategy—A Porta Potty

A friend had been suggesting that I get a porta potty since we began camping, but I had been resisting.  I was afraid that dealing with cleanup would be gross.  I was ready to give it a try though and I bought one on line.  I also bought a privacy tent because we had discovered that we did not always have the option to set up a tent.

I was also a little bit intimidated about how they worked.  I will go into some detail here for those who may be unfamiliar with them.  The one we purchased seems pretty standard.  There is a top section where water is stored for flushing and a bottom section for waste.  We also use holding tank deodorant and it works very well; there is no unpleasant smell.

Disassembled Porta Potty

The photo above shows the potty disassembled.   Upon arrival at campsite you just fill the section on the right with water and the attach it to the section on the left.  Then toss in one of the deodorant packs into the bottom section.  When utilizing it, you pull out the lever on the bottom and when finished, you press the waffle valve on the top to flush.  You then close the lever on the bottom.

Cleanup was not bad at all.  My husband volunteered to handle it, but as I am the primary user, I felt I should do it. It was far easier to use and clean than I feared.  The assembled product is below.

Assembled Porta Potty

This gave me such flexibility!  I no longer worried about being near the restrooms.  We always brought the new equipment when we were uncertain about the closeness of campsite facilities, though sometimes we did not take it out of the box.  We could camp at the best sites with our friends.  Our little privacy tent goes up and down very easily and we were set.

Privacy tent/toilet

You would think that with our new equipment and my adaptation to using them that no indoor toilet would be a non-issue.  However, we have encountered one other situation that is not resolved.

The No Tents Dilemma 

We recently camped with friends at a beautiful RV Resort.  Upon arrival, we learned that no tents were allowed, not even a privacy tent. I raised it a couple of times with management and they were not budging.  We were not near a restroom, but we were only there a couple of nights.  We were with friends and I decided to just make the best of it.  It was a pretty far hike for the middle of the night, but it was well-lit and easy to navigate.  Fortunately, my previous trips trekking to restrooms has made me flexible about nightime walks.

Summary

The fact that our camper does not have an indoor toilet is no longer a big deal. I could not have said this at the beginning of this journey.   We love our T@G and the economy it brings to our camping trips.  For those who are first considering camping without an indoor toilet, I offer the following recommendations:

  • Be open to new experiences.  If you want to adapt, I believe you can.  Also, this is camping, not luxury travel.  It has its own kind of special beauty, but it is not primarily about the comfort.
  • Remember that you are getting a lot on the plus side with a teardrop.  Light, easy towing and the ability to conveniently store in your garage.  That was worth a lot to us.
  • Always look for the close restroom option when it works for you.  No bathroom to clean at all; how cool is that?
  • Don’t wait to get a porta potty.  They are easy to set up, use, and break down.
  • When booking campsites, always get a clear understanding of any restrictions related to tents.  I suspect this would be primarily related to RV resorts.  You may want to go anyway, but it is a good idea to know what to expect.
  • Enjoy your camper and embrace new adventures!

Happy Camping!

 

October 2017

 

 

 

Retirement: In Sickness and in Health

We often hear that you should retire when you are relatively young so you will have good years to travel and enjoy retirement. However, there are no guarantees.

Everyone knows as you get older, you are more likely to have health issues.  I retired this year with goals of traveling and adopting a very heathy lifestyle as primary motivations for leaving the workforce.  I loved working, but there were so many things I wanted to do.  “Life is short, even in the longest days” to quote John Mellencamp.  (Great song, by the way)

Our year started great, with both of us feeling good with trips to the gym each weekday.  Our days were slow and leisurely.   We had more time with family and to do those things around the house that we were always postponing.  We planned trips in our tiny trailer and worked on ways to make it more functional.

Just three weeks into the year,  I developed a respiratory infection that kept reoccurring and then I got the flu.   I was sick for three months with three separate episodes of fever over 101.  There were times when I was getting better-before the times I was getting worse.  During those better times, we were able to take a couple of preplanned trips, but had to cancel one.  But I was not really well during any of this time and it was very frustrating.  I felt like I would never be back to where I was before getting sick.  Finally, a diagnosis of mild intermittent ashma and it came as a relief.  Hopefully, next time I am sick I will be able to get medications to make me well.

We really love to travel.  We bought our camper because it allowed us to travel as often as we liked because it is so inexpensive.  While we did a good bit of traveling this year, we did not plan any big or long trips.   My husband has a knee that has been very painful for several years. Many have told him how much knee replacement changed their quality of life.  We planned for this to be the year to take care of that knee, so we spent a lot of time pursuing a knee replacement for him.

His orthopedic surgeon identified issues with the veins in his leg, which is why his leg has always been so swollen.  The veins increase his risk of a blood clot with knee replacement, but the risk would be less if the vein issue was addressed.

A vascular surgeon assessed him and an ultrasound identified a vein in his leg with a defective valve, technically called Venus Insufficiency.  It allowed blood to flow down into his leg, but not back up.  The pooling of blood in his leg is what was caused it to swell. We scheduled an ablation procedure to stop blood from flowing into that vein.  A long, painful recovery time was not expected and we would schedule the knee replacement after vein surgery recovery.

My husband had the surgery and went home with no issues.  He was also doing very well in his follow up visit.

Right before vein surgery

However, he had extreme pain in his chest a few days later and was spitting up blood.   The E/R visit confirmed blood clots in his lungs (pulmonary embolism) and in his leg.  This was a very serious complication and very painful.  He had to stay in the hospital for three days while they administered heparin, a blood thinner, intravenously.  They also had to manage his pain, which was very intense.

During the time in the E/R and the first day or so at the hospital, we were both very scared.  We could not be certain a clot had not gone to his heart, which can be deadly.   He hurt so bad, I think he must have felt he was dying.  It was so hard to watch and not be able to stop it.  They gave him very strong painkillers, but they only mildly relieved the pain.

Prayers of many were answered and he was remarkably better by the time we left the hospital and continues to get better every day.  There was some damage to his lungs, but it is expected to have a minimal impact when his lungs heal.

I too have had some recent issues:  a high heart rate during exercising and dizziness after working out.  For awhile, I feared that something was wrong with my heart, but recent tests have not identified any issues.  I still do not know the specific cause of my symptoms, but thankfully it is not related to my heart.

My husband and I have been sicker this year than we have ever been.  It  makes me acutely aware of the frailty of life.  I am so grateful that we are now looking at full recovery from his recent issues, though it is uncertain if he will be able to have the knee replacement surgery.  I would love for him to get his knee fixed, but his life is more important than his mobility.

We have been married for thirty-one years and have been fortunate that they have been very healthy years.   This is our first year with so much illness but at this stage of our life, there is no doubt we will have others.  I do not look forward to the sickness part of our marriage vow, but will definitely want to be there for that part as well.

Recent health issues have shown me not want to take anything for granted.  I cherish each day that I can spend with my husband and our family.  We may have many more good years or it could all come to a grinding halt in a heartbeat.  The future is not known, but each day should be lived knowing that it will not go on forever.  I will try to do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Year Summary and T@G MAX XL Modifications

Year one of camping is under our belts! We bought a new T@G MAX XL and it was pretty much good to go. However, we have made a few modifications.

We purchased our teardrop in September 2016, so it has been a year now since we became teardroppers. Being new to camping in general and never previously having owned any type of camper, we learned a lot in this first year.  This past year, our camper has been towed 3,430 miles on eight camping trips to five different states (AL, GA, FL, TN, & AR).

There were not any exceptionally long trips this first year for two reasons:  1) we had to figure out what we were doing and 2) we are actively working toward a knee replacement for my husband and it precludes long trips planned well in advance.  Our longest trip lasted a week.  We expect much longer trips next year.

Our T@G is really well-designed and is comfortable and functional, despite its size, but we did make a few minor changes.

1) Removal of the Headboard:  

We had our dealer remove the headboard at the time of purchase.  My husband is 6’3″ and he really needs the extra space.  The headboard was nice, but comfort trumped utility in this instance.  He is able to sleep very comfortably with this modification.

T@G without headboard

2)   DVD Light-Blocking Panel

My big guy cannot stand any light while sleeping and the light on the DVD player is quite bright.  One of the first things he did was to make a panel to block the light.  It attaches with Velcro and works very well.

Light-blocking panel

3)  Head Protection, Cabin and Galley

My husband’s height has caused pain on a couple of occasions. The open shelving over the head of the bed had some hard edges and bumping his head motivated him to look for a solution.  He installed foam padding attached with glue strips.   There have been no injuries since this was done.

Padding on the Shelf

He also shortened the length of the hex studs on the galley door.  They were longer than necessary and he had scraped his head on them before the mod.

Modified studs

4) Greywater Drain Access

Having to crawl around on the ground to attach the hose to drain water from the sink was not one of my favorite things.   A lady on one of the teardrop Facebook groups posted that she has a solution to provide easy access and I immediately requested the modification for our camper.  Her solution was lower to the ground.  We raised ours upon the recommendation of a plumber so it would be less likely to get caught on a curb or on uneven terrain.

Greywater Drain Access

5) License Plate Holder

The original way the holder was mounted was flimsy and hung low to the ground.  One of the first things we did was to purchase a black plastic tag holder and mount it appropriately 1 1/2″ higher to the lower frame using the existing screws.

6) Naming the teardrop 

We had no idea how camping would be for us and did not have a name for the trailer initially.  After a little experience, we named it Endeavor and had the name installed on the back.  There is an older post that describes the naming process and installation.

7) Inexpensive and easy air antenna

We purchased an air antenna at the time we got our camper and tried to use it several times.  It did not do a great job, but we were often not in high reception areas.  I saw a post on a Facebook teardrop group a where a gentleman was using a co-axel cable about 6″long to attach to the cable receptacle with the outer insulation stripped off by about 2.5″.  It worked fairly well the one time we tried it and is more compact than the one we purchased.  I am not sure how useful it will be as reception is not usually strong at campsites, but I like its simplicity.

Inexpensive TV Antenna

8) Memory Foam Cover

As many campers have suggested, we installed a memory foam cover over the mattresses  Ours is a 2″ cover and we also use a mattress pad for comfort and an added layer of separation from the memory foam itself for allergy reasons.  It has made our bed quite comfortable.  I don’t think the mattresses alone would have been adequate.

Modification Reversal

We had a diffuser over the air conditioner because the constant blowing of air directly on us was annoying.  It was a plastic traylike apparatus that was rather flimsy and stuck out quite a bit.  We seemed to have more issues with condensation using it and it was an obstacle to be avoided. I managed to knock it down and break it the second trip it was used and we decided to not replace it.

Under Consideration

My tall husband has to stoop when under the galley.  We checked with our dealer about the possibility of adding the Outback wheels to raise the overall height.  This would get us electric brakes as well.   It is a little pricey, but the bigger issue was a concern about the width and getting it into our garage.  We still may do this at a later date.

Summary

Our first year in Endeavor was wonderful and we have not make a lot of  changes.  Looking forward to year two!

 

 

With Family at the Beach

This is not my usual camping or travel post and as such, will not be posted to camping sites. This post is to capture some wonderful memories with family at the beach. If you happen upon this post, there are some photos of some beautiful sunsets and some great times with family.

Our son, Shawn, and his girlfriend, Laura, rented a condo at North Redington Shores, Florida, for Labor Day weekend.  They offered us one of the extra bedrooms and Laura’s mom and her boyfriend the other.  We really enjoy Laura’s mom and was just meeting her friend, Jack, who was fun to be around too.  We had a wonderful time with them all.

Most of our past beach trips have been in the panhandle and we have never spent time on the eastern Florida coastline.  Redington Shores is in the Pinellas Park area and very nice.  It was not especially crowded considering it was Labor Day weekend.  The beach was nice and well-maintained.

The condo, the Ram Sea, is right on the beach and the unit we were in was newly-remodeled.  It was very nice!  Below is a photo of our bedroom.  This was not tiny trailer camping!

Unit 610 At the Ram Sea

Shawn and Laura were outstanding hosts.   Laura cooked us big, delicious breakfasts, venison stew, and baked ziti.  They had an abundance of Cuban sandwiches and fried stuffed potatoes (a delicacy with meat in the center).

We were blessed with a beautiful sunset our first evening.  The sun sets directly over the water and it is an incredible sight.  We used it for a photo opportunity.

View from balcony on first night
Shawn, Laura, Rose & Jack
My honey and me
Shawn and Laura
Rose and Jack

This trip was all about relaxing on the beach.  Shawn and Laura love spending all day on the beach and they do it with maximum comfort.  They put up two tents and there were chairs for each of us, plus snacks and adult beverages.  So relaxing!  My husband is not a big lover of the beach, so I am not accustomed to this much time and comfort. Greg would hang out with us for awhile each day and then head for the condo.  He was a really good sport about it.

Our spot on the beach
Relaxing under the tent
Greg joined us

The condominium also has a nice pool that we enjoyed as well.

Ram Sea Pool

We had dinner out a couple of times.  Our favorite was Seabreeze Island Grill.   They had a delicious grilled grouper and fantastic drinks.  We were joined by Rose’s sister, Josie and her husband, Ross.  They were fun and we have a good bit in common; they are dancers.  After dinner, we played a game that was new to me, Rummy Royal.  Fun!

Dinner at Seabreeze

We spent four nights at the Ram Sea and I loved every minute of it.  It was great being with Shawn and Laura and her family were incredible.  The weather was perfect with the exception of a few hours of rain one day.

Ironically, the very next weekend the area was under extreme threat from Hurricane Irma.  I am so glad that the worst case scenario did not occur.

We loved our time at Redington Shores!

 

Camping Etiquette

As a relatively new camper, I want to be a good neighbor to my fellow campers. I posted a request for dos and don’ts on a couple of large camping groups on Facebook and received many comments. Most are on existing lists, but there are a few that I have not seen published.

My background is in accounting and auditing and I am very much a rule-follower, but my husband is just the opposite. He, on the other hand, is very charming and gets away with a lot. 😏  Camping etiquette, however,  is about being a good neighbor, which we both want to be.

The list below is not in the order of importance.  I think if you had ten people rank the list, you would get many variations.  I have tried to organize the information into just a few categories.  Also, remember to observe and obey the rules at your particular campground.

  • Respect Your Neighbor’s Space 

This was the area where I received the most feedback.  Do not run, walk, or bike across an occupied site.  Do not allow pets or children to invade the area.  Do not block access to the site.  These were all mentioned multiple times in the feedback I received.  Park in the middle of your campsite or in such a way that you allow neighbors on both sides adequate space.

  • Control Noise

Respect quiet hours, generally from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Run generators only in the daytime.  Keep music at low levels that extend only to your campsite.  Use quiet voices, especially when arriving late.  Don’t leave outdoor TV on when not there and don’t leave outdoor speakers on when inside.  At night, don’t slam doors and double click remote door locks if horn beeps. Don’t let diesel engines idle unnecessary.

  • Fires

Always thoroughly put out fires before going to bed or leaving.  Be sure to have enough water to ensure fire is out.  Do not leave fires unattended.  Do not burn trash, plastic, or styrofoam as this creates very unpleasant odors.  Build fires only in designated areas and not where it will allow smoke to drift to open windows.   Do not allow cigarette to smoke go into campsites of others.  (In the responses I received, it was acknowledged that controlling where the smoke goes can be difficult.)

Don’t bring firewood from other areas as this may bring non-native insects that can devastate an area.  I did not previously know the reasons for this; it is always good to know the why.

  • Clean and Tidy 

Keep hoses, power lines, and sewer lines as close to your rig as possible for groundskeeping.  Keep your campsite neat and tidy and don’t let trash accumulate around your site.  Don’t use the fire ring as a garbage can.  Clean up after yourself in bathrooms.

Leave your campsite clean for the next camper.  Do not leave garbage or cigarette butts behind.  Put everything back to original spots if moved.

  • Water Issues

Don’t wash dishes in the bathhouse.  Don’t take longer than necessary showers if others as waiting.  Appropriately dispose of grey water.

These next items are a bit unfamiliar to me as we have a teardrop, but I am including for those who have a black water tank.  Don’t dump at campsite that does not have full hook-ups; use dump station.  Don’t dump while neighbors are eating.  Don’t leave black water tank valve open at full hook-up site as it can result in a “pyramid of poo”.  I don’t know exactly how that works, but it sounds really bad.

  • Lights

Turn off lights when going to bed, generally during quiet hours. Do not leave outside lights on overnight.  Many people mentioned lights left on at night as an issue, though often they specified bright or LED lights.

When arriving late or departing early, use lowlights.  If setting up or tearing down in the dark, use flashlights.

  • Children

Teach children to be respectful of others and their camping space.  Teach them to not leave bikes, toys, etc. in the road.  Don’t let them over utilize the bandwidth by excessive use of the Internet.

Don’t use bad language that children can hear.  Also, keep in mind that children are there to have fun.

  • Pets

Keep pets on a leash and limit barking.  Clean up after your pets and do not allow them into the campsites of others. Don’t leave a barking dog at a  campsite. Do not walk your dog during quiet hours, which causes all other dogs in the area to bark.  Don’t wash pet bedding in public washers unless you intend to clean them after you have used them.

  • Interactions with Neighbors 

Greet neighbors and be friendly and polite.  With new arrivals, give them time to set up before going to talk to them.   However, do offer help if it appears it is needed.  Be friendly, but do not overstay when talking as walking by.  Leave any leftover firewood you may have for the next camper or give it to a neighbor.  Share excess goodies if you have them.

  • Wildlife

Don’t feed the wildlife. They remember where they have been fed and will come back for more.  The results can be a nuisance to others and may also be dangerous.

Summary

Many people mentioned the Golden Rule and just being considerate and respectful of others, which is at the heart of the desired behavior.  We are all in very close proximity in a campground and our behavior can significantly impact others and their ability to enjoy their vacations. I prefer to know the things that can irritate others so I can be as considerate as possible.

The items in this post originated from comments from camping groups and multiple camping etiquette documents.  I hope you will find it useful!

Enjoy Camping and Your Neighbors!

 

 

 

Camping and a Total Eclipse of the Sun

This trip included a solar eclipse, two waterfalls, two campgrounds, more cooking than I have ever done while camping, a fabulous play, and lots of games with some wonderful friends.

A good friend proactively booked us a campsite in the path of totality for the solar eclipse that occurred on August 21st.  We viewed the eclipse from Deer Run RV Resort in Crossville, Tennessee.  The campground was packed with moon gazers, but very nice.

We scored a couple of the last available sites and they were great, except for being in full sun.  Temperatures were in the upper 80s and we really felt the impact.  Our 10×10 screen room and a new awning were utilized this trip, more equipment than is typically used.  It was great having the shade, but putting the screen room up and down in full sun was miserable.  We have decided that summertime camping in the South is not for us.  (Looking for recommendations for summer camping locations that are not hot.)

Campsite 18 at Deer Run RV Resort

Deer Run has full hookups, a beautiful lake, swimming pool, and very nice bathhouse.  It was more expensive than the state parks we usually visit, but we received a 10% Good Sam discount.  It also has a restaurant and grocery store with limited options.

Deer Run Resort Lake

The eclipse was the big event for this trip and it was amazing.  The full process of the eclipse lasted about three hours and I expected it to be gradually getting darker until fully dark and then gradually lighter.  Wrong!  We were viewing the sun through the special glasses and could clearly see the moon as it blocked the sun, but it remained very bright outside until the sun was completely blocked.  I did get an interesting photo (below) of gravel with sunlight coming through the trees that showed the crescent shape of the sun.  The coolest part, of course, was the two minutes of total eclipse.  It was like nighttime and the temperature dropped significantly.  The two minutes went by very quickly and then it looked like normal daytime again.

Sunlight Through Trees During Eclipse

Crossville is near Fall Creek Falls State Park and we went to see the waterfall and walk across the hanging suspension bridge.  The area was beautiful, but the waterfall did not pack very much power and bridge was very shaky.  We sat around for awhile and watched people trying to coaxe their dogs to walk across.  The dogs were not interested!  Lunch at Gaul’s Gallery Restaurant in the park was excellent. It had the best banana pudding I have ever had at a restaurant.

Fall Creek Falls

While in Crossville, we saw the play, “Lying in State”, at the Cumberland County Playhouse. It was a hilarious political satire with flawless performances by the cast.  It is my understanding that people come from all over to the Playhouse.  It is a “must see” for visitors to Crosssville.

Most of our Crossville time was at the campground.  We spent an afternoon in the pool and played games with our friends most evenings in the 10x 10. It was very nice to be outside with lights on and not be overrun by bugs.  I cooked a couple of dinners while there and omelettes one morning.  The teardrop galley did well overall, but it was very hot cooking in the evenings.  Crossville camping was four nights.

The second leg of our trip was in Gadsden, Alabama, at the River Country Campground.  This time we were right on the river with a gorgeous view and afternoon shade.  There was a downside though; no tents were allowed, not even my small privacy tent.  It would not have mattered if the bathhouse had not been about three blocks away.  Therefore, our campsite was very simple, but it was pretty.  How could it not be with that view?

Site P12 at River Country

While in Gadsden, we visited nearby Noccalula Falls, which bears the legend of an Indian princess who jumped to her death over a tall ledge because she could not marry her true love.  Her father had promised her in marriage to one from another tribe.

Noccolula Falls

The park was lovely with beautiful landscaping, a quaint little train, a Pioneer Village and a petting zoo with a lioness.  It was a relaxing and inexpensive way to spend a few hours.

Train Ride

River Country Campground has the nicest pool area of any campground we have ever visited.  There are actually three pools:  an infinity pool, regular pool, and kiddie pool.  The infinity pool is right next to the river, which creates a striking effect.  We spent a very peaceful afternoon at the pools and then had a delicious dinner at Top O the River.

River Country Infinity Pool
River Country Pool

We loved the time with our friends at both campgrounds.  The distant bathhouse at River Country was not fun when I had to get up in the middle of the night, but the amazing view was worth it.

Lessons Learned:

  • Our cooking equipment needed to be updated.  We inherited our son’s camping utinsels, which are geared to cooking over a campfire.  We have now purchased some items more suited to our cooking methods.
  • We love, love, love our KingKamp awning.  It was easy to set-up and provided much needed shade.
  • It is just too hot to camp in the South during the summer months.  We will have to find cooler areas to visit.
  • We should confirm the tent policy for future camping at commercial campgrounds.  Better to know before you go.

Happy Camping!