It's been three months since we ditched the stationary lifestyle and moved into our RV. There have been setbacks and a learning curve, to be sure, but neither of us would ever be satisfied sitting still in a house again. Wanderlust is a real thing and we've both always had it.
Since April we have stayed in 13 states: CO, NE, SD, WY, UT, KS, MO, IL, MI, OH, PA, NJ and MA. That's over 8,000 miles, 14 parks (4 of these were Thousand Trails resorts, 2 moochdocking visits (friends and family) and numerous boondocking stops, including Walmarts, city parks, a Cracker Barrel and a marvelous 3-night stay on the cliffs overlooking the Badlands.
I keep getting the question, "What has been your favorite place to camp?" By far, for sheer serenity and solitude, the Badlands has been our favorite stop. There's something about not only being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nature but having such a panoramic view of the isolated region from your doorstep ... well, it was special.
Several of the items we purchased for full-timing have worked out well. Our generator has been extremely valuable, as has been the lower-power portable air conditioner (that runs off the generator). How the humidity on the eastern Midwest and the eastern seaboard itself affects the heat index cannot truly be appreciated until you live in it. In a couple of the parks we actually used both air conditioners to dry out the air in the 5th wheel as much as possible. We decided early on to purchase a washing machine that was a smaller version of a regular home-style washer and the Giantex machine is great, running in the shower and stored next to the dresser in the bedroom when not in use. I even made a Y connection in the shower so we didn't have to disconnect the shower head.
The air fryer has been a hit, unlike the disastrous purchase of the Instant Pot, as have the portable ice maker, the dual-burner induction stovetop, the ice cream maker and the manual K-cup press. The recent purchases of the MORryde steps and the additional awning screens have also worked out much better than expected.
Electronically, we've got a pretty nice set-up, with the new Wifi Ranger pulling double duty as our Wifi booster and our internal network router. Along with the WEboost and our unlimited Internet from our AT&T Mobley device, I can't imagine how we could have worked on the road as well as we have been. The omnidirectional TV signal booster from King Connect has been useful, but when we haven't had any signal to boost, our Amazon Fire devices have worked well to stream Sling, Netflix, CBS Full Access and YouTube. In addition, I installed two 12v Lithium Ion batteries to replace my lead acid pair and added a Victron battery monitor that is accessible on a cell phone via Bluetooth.
I also recently organized my basement to 1) increase my usable storage space and 2) make accessing my stored bins and items much easier. I not-so-simply added two shelves from door-to-door across the rig's primary basement, and time spent on set-up and put-away has been reduced greatly. I'm thinking now about installing a locking generator box on the back bumper of the 5th wheel to free up some space in the front basement compartment and to make it more convenient to use the generator when needed.
Last month our TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) sure came in handy. We installed a PressurePro PULSE and had it running when a bolt punctured a tire on the driver's side. The alarm allowed me to pull over before any further damage was done, and the tire itself was able to be repaired.
sWe have spent thousands of dollars on our rig getting it ready to full-time in, and there have been far too many important purchases to list them all in one post. You can find some of those reviewed in my Product Review section and several are listed on our Amazon Affiliates page, RV Products.
A Thousand Trails Resort
Address: 4085 Bear Cave Rd., Buchanan, MI 49107
Phone: (269) 695-3050
# of sites: 135
Full hookup price: From $54/night
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Warnings: mosquitos, first-come-first served
Sitting on the St. Joseph River, this campground is lush. There are several areas in this park to camp and the first section we stayed in had full hookups, including sewer. We actually left this park in the middle of our stay to travel to Mackinac Island for a few days, then returned to continue our stay. On the grounds is the only naturally-formed cave in Michigan. This cave has a lot of history, with its connection as a stop on the Underground Railroad and having the silent film, "The Great Train Robbery," shot here.
Michigan has many, many lakes and there were probably a hundred or so within 2 hours' drive. We were also a half-hour from Lake Michigan and several tourist stops and eateries on the shore.
If you are a motocross fan, this is a perfect RV park for you as the world off-road racing championships and other major races are held at the nearby Red Bud racing complex. They were getting ready for the championships while we were there.
This is one of the few "first-come-first served" campgrounds we've used, meaning that you can reserve space in their resort but no site is assigned. It was disappointing that there were no full-hookup spots our first night or during our stay after we returned from the U.P. We were able to find 50-amp sites (most have only 30-amp in these areas) but we did not have sewer hookups. When you spend all that money with Thousand Trails, it's upsetting that you aren't even guaranteed a full-hookup site when reserving months ahead.
Another con was the mosquito problem, something they face all over Michigan because of all the lakes and standing water in the region. I had 5 bites just walking the dog one evening, and that was after using Off!
The famous cave was closed due to flooding, so no opinions about that attraction, and the heavy rain caused there to be no swimming or fishing in the river as well.
Overall, this is a decent park and we really enjoyed our neighbor's fully-stocked bar one Saturday night. Evidently they own their space and have a permanent trailer set there and decked out for weekend use. This is basically a buyer-beware park. I would make sure to start any camping stay on Sunday afternoon to make sure premium spots are available and bring lots of DEET.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 7 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.