Sunday, November 16, 2014

Emigrant Lake County Campground

Not too long after you get into Oregon going north on Interstate 5 is this beautiful campground on a lake.  The campground is at the first Ashland Oregon exit.

Emigrant Lake 
We stayed here for a number of days earlier this year.  We had a great full hookup site with great views from the coach or sitting outside.  The picture above was 50 steps from our front door.  

our camp site
another shot of our camp site
This campground does take reservations and is popular.  So if you are going in the summer book early.  And I would say if you are going on holiday weekends when it is not too cold you should get reservations.  

A short walk from our camp site
The campground reservations can be found here  

Our site was large and had full hookups.  There are not many large sites.  Most are for smaller RVs.  

The mid sized town of Ashland is very worth you time to go into and explore.  It is about 5-6 miles from the campground.  The town is famous for it's Shakespeare festival, but there is a walkable downtown with shops and restaurants.  My suggestion for places to eat is just to walk around and look at menus or go through TripAdvisor.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Days On The Road ARE Better Than Days At Home Or The Desk

Well we are at the end of our last adventure RV trip of 2014 and I am adding up the year.  It was a very good one.  This is the best year ever overall for RVing for me.  We started out with a trip to the Bluegrass Festival in Blythe and then to Quartsite.  Followed up with a real adventure in Moab UT.  Then the big summer journey to the North West, including a cruise to Alaska.  And now we are at the end of going to NM and the Balloon festival.

Frazier on the beach in Manzanita OR
After our big summer trip was finished and we had had time to unpack and read the mail it only took a couple of days for me to be sitting at my desk and to think, "This is not as good as being on the road in the motorhome."

A few weeks later we flew to Ohio to be with Barbara's wonderful large family.  I love interacting with all of them.  They are so interactive and just fun to be with.  Plus Ohio weather co-operated and was great.  We stayed at a very nice suite hotel close to Barbara's sister and were busy every day.  Thing is, I prefer staying in the coach to any hotel suite.  (Except maybe the Plaza in NYC or the Fairmont in SF.)

Emigrant Lake in OR
Without of doubt our motorhome had too many visits to the RV doctors this year.  This was the year of plumbing problems.  It is mostly my fault and that our motorhome is getting older.  I got lazy and did not put on the external pressure regulator while at an RV park in Junction City OR.  The built in pressure regulator has given up and needs to be replaced.  So I blew fresh water lines in several places.  Got them fixed at Country Coach sort of.

The fresh water pressure regulator that has aged out and is not working.  
Turns out there were several other water leaking episodes for follow on the trip.

The bottom line.  Travel by RV is something to savor and enjoy as long as possible.  That is why we put up with these snarly beasts called RV's.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Wilson Sleek Cell Phone Reception Booster

Shortly before we left for our summer trip the middle of June this year I bought a Verizon 4G Wilson Sleek cell phone booster kit.  Wilson shipped it to me quickly and it was in perfect condition.  My plan was to hook it up to the built in cell phone antenna that came with my coach.  For the first 10 days of our trip there was no reason to try the Wilson as the cell phone reception we got was fine without it.

But soon after we arrived at our campground near Mt Rainier I discovered that the cell reception at the park was so poor that there was not any high speed data available.  And voice calls were not possible.  So I got out the Wilson kit and hooked it up.  The first snag was that there is more than one coax cable connector size and the one at the end of the cable in our motorhome did not match the one on the Wilson.  So I hooked it up with the included small antenna.

You need to have a cigaret lighter to power the Wilson Sleek or some other 12volt source.  So I plugged it in and put my Motorola Maxx in the cradle.  It promptly increased the signal and we got reasonably good data speed and good voice call quality.

After about 30 minutes I went over to pick up my phone and it was very warm.  It seems the Wilson generates quite a bit of heat.  With a phone sitting in the base cradle with no space between it and the base I was worried about ruining my phone.  So I tried moving one side of the phone a bit away from the base plate.  This significantly reduced the heat by allowing it to dissipate and the cell signal seemed to be the same as with all the phone right on the base plate.

During our trip we used the Wilson a couple of times and it worked well each time.  The heat on the phone does worry me.  In my opinion it likely will degrade the phone over time.  I still have not bought the adapter coax connector.  Radio Shack did not have them.  Wilson has them on their web site, but they are not cheap.

Monday, September 1, 2014

RV Things I Bought For This Summers Trip I Can Recommend or Not

This summer was a great trip.  We were gone 2 months and drove about 3,500 miles.  Before we left we added quite a few things that we wanted / needed to make the trip better.  So here is the scorecard of what worked and what did not.

1.  Garmin 760LMT

I have had Garmin's for a few years and this is my third one.  This has a large 7" screen and can be set for either car or RV mode.  The great thing about the RV mode is that it routes you on roads and underpasses that are appropriate to your rig size.  There are a few tricks to learn if you are used to older Garmin's to get the best out of this one, but overall I loved using it for travel this summer.

2.  Garmin BC 20 wireless back up camera

Adding this backup camera really made the Garmin 760 even more useful.  When I bought my Jeep a little over a year ago a backup camera did not come with it.  The Jeep Wrangler is tall and small low to the ground cars can hide from your sight when you back up.  I had that happen and had a very sight impact with a small Honda.  When that happened I wanted to drive more safely and so I had this in mind.  When I got the 760 Garmin as a gift then this was a no brainer.  On top of it being a good idea it was super simple to install on the Wrangler.  There is a youtube video showing how to do it.  I followed the instructions and it worked the first time I tried it.

This is not a cheap setup.  $550 for both.  To me that is a good value for what it does.  I like the Garmin's far better than any other GPS type system I have tried.  I do have a late model smartphone that uses the Google system for directions.  Sometimes the Google system is better, but it is just not reliable.  And it does not work if there is a break in cell coverage.  The Garmin is near 100% reliable. The Google phone might be 50% reliable.  If you are driving a big rig around you need something you can depend on.

3.  Aurelia Robust Nitrile powder free gloves.

I got these on Amazon for a little over 10 bucks for 100.  Highly recommended.  I have always used garden gloves.  This summer when CAT overfilled our oil after changing it and then we developed a small oil leak because CAT did not put on a part a year ago there was a lot of oil over the back of our rig, our car, hitch, bikes, and so on.  Even if it were not for the oil being over everything these gloves are super.  They are thin enough so you can do far more with them than garden gloves, but they are thick enough so my skin gets some protection.

4.  Sure Fit Deluxe Sofa Pet Throw

Our dog likes to be on the sofa.  Our sofa is covered with leather.  Plus we like it clean.  We have been using beach towels.  This is better.  Of course you have to tuck in all the edges so the dog does not get it all tangled up, but once you do that this is a great pet cover.

5.  High Quality Hoses.

I bought several things on line from the Water Filter Store which is in Temecula.  Everything I bought there, water softener, sediment filter, Watts pressure regulator, and extra filters was very good and delivered quickly.  However, a special mention has to go to the three hoses I bought from them.  They are just super.  The quality is first class+.  They don't kink and the brass hardware is heavy duty.  The heavy duty hardware is so much better than standard hoses there is just no comparison.  My set up when I camp now is water regulator on park faucet (the regulator I bought is adjustable and has a gauge on it to read pressure), connect to hose to get close to water compartment, then sediment filter, short hose, water softener, then to the rig water.  My rig has a built in canister filter also that removes chemicals and some bacteria.

With all this hooked up the water that comes out of the rig is vastly improved.  Bad taste is gone.  Water is soft so the dishes soap up easily.  In the shower you use a small fraction of the water.  In our rig washer the whites now come out white instead of grey.

I did buy several things that did not work out so well.  So here are my thumbs down awards.  

1.  Wilmar filter wrench

These did not work well and smell bad.  Stunk up our garage for a month.  If these were made correctly they would work fine, but the design and materials on these is lousy.

2.  Valterra Water Pressure Gauge

Mine worked maybe once and now the gauge never goes below 20 psi.  If we had not been on our trip I would have returned it.  I bought a Watts unit which is much better quality and it works fine.

3.  The sewer treatment I bought at Quartsite two years ago.  I bought a case because it was so cheap. It was so cheap because it did not work.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Oregon & Washington Are Great Places For Summer RV Trips

We are just back from two months up to the North West in the RV and also an Alaska Cruise.  All of that was good.  Oregon especially welcomes RVers with many great State Park Campgrounds, a lot of great private RV parks, and lots of good repair and service at reasonable prices.  Or motorhome was made there 12 years ago.

Frazier on the beach at Manzanita Oregon.  This is right next to our RV park.
There are a lot of campgrounds on the beach in Oregon.  The picture above is a lovely beach campground right next to the picturesque town of Manzanita.  The beach is an off-leash area for dogs.  Keep in mind that even though we were there in July we had some sizable rainstorms.  Or normally rain impervious rear slide leaved during one of these deluges.

We also stayed at Emigrant Lake in the Medford - Ashland area.

This view was steps from our motorhome.  
Book reservations at both places if you want to stay there.

When we were in Oregon we had our Country Coach serviced at the Country Coach dealer.  If you are lucky enough to have a Country Coach Junction City has several very good options to get your rig worked on or upgraded.  Junction City is near to Eugene, which in the summer is a good place to visit.  They have a great farmers market on Fridays.

After Oregon we went to Washington.  As a general comment Washington RV parks that are desirable book up early.  So look fairly far ahead if you want to camp in WA in the summer.  We stayed in Port Townsend.  We loved it here.  We stayed in the Marina RV Park right in town and had water views.  This is a great place to camp.

This is the beach right in front of our campsite in Port Townsend.  
Besides the beach Port Townsend is a great walkable place or bike.  My knee is not so good any more so I biked to town several times a day.

A b&b in Port Townsend.  
We also camped at a Thousand Trails park in Monroe Washington.  We parked on the side by the riven and this was a delightful stay.  TT parks get panned for their facilities sometimes, but this is a very nice spot about 1 hour from Seattle.  My sister lives here and my son.

I will warn you that the traffic in the Seattle area is epic.  Avoid the 405 freeway if possible.

We left from Seattle to go on an Alaska cruise.  That will be the subject of another post.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Take A Break From Hurry-Up, RV

So what is one of the biggest attractions to RVing, no hurry-up.  You are in your second home, with wheels, make your own pace.  Like some place you find by accident, stay a while.  Don't like the location, move.  And you are in your own home.

This was taken steps from our camp site in Port Townsend WA a few weeks ago.

Being in your own place when RVing came real to me a few weeks ago when we left our motorhome to get some work done on it and took an Alaska cruise.  During the cruise we had to leave our dog behind and live out of suitcases.  I very much enjoyed the trip to Alaska with all of it's awesome scenery, but was quite glad to get back to my familiar bed, cloths closet, my coffee pot, and also all that space you have in our rig.

A glacier calving in Glacier Bay Alaska
We are 7 weeks into our current RV trip.  I am in no hurry to get home.  If I had been traveling out of a suitcase for 7 weeks I would have been ready for home long ago.