RV GETAWAY TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK PART 2

Yosemite Never Disappoints

I’m a sucker for wilderness anywhere, on any day of the year, but having visited in all four seasons I am now totally sold that autumn is the best time of year to visit Yosemite National Park. Our trip timing bypassed the swell of summer visitors (estimated at over 600,000 in August alone) to less than half of that number in October, just in time for the fall colors that showed up and showed out in waves of yellow, reds, and ochre blanketing the landscape. And there were no winter road closures or snow chains required.

Beautiful Yosemite

We were advised by the resort staff to leave camp for the park around 9am to climb ahead of fall weekend visitors, and help ensure we could find space to park our over-sized vehicle. Rodney did the driving the first day and now it was my turn to drive the motorhome.  With me behind the wheel, Rodney and the kids were able to enjoy the panoramic views out of the big front window. The meandering drive and stunning vistas of the valley approach were breathtaking.

Rue Mapp Driving the RV

Yosemite Views

After paying $30 for our week-long pass at the park gate, we wound easily down into the valley, stopping to take photos at the most iconic views of the Yosemite landscape. Within an hour, we arrived at Half-Dome Village (Curry Village) and parked in the adjacent parking lot, taking up two spots vertically (and legally!) — we then ran into a friend of Outdoor Afro who remembered us from our epic leader training weekend back in 2016.

Reuniting with Old Friends

From there we took the free park bus shuttle that stops at all the major valley destinations and many hiking trails beyond. Our afternoon filled up nicely with a delightful, casual lunch at Degnan’s in the valley, followed by leisurely hiking and time spent in the visitor center to learn more about the formation and history of this important and beloved national treasure.:

One of the Many Hikes

Before we knew it, our Yosemite sun began to set westward. Without quite getting our fill of the park’s trails and stories, we reluctantly decided to get back on the road to allow plenty of time and light to re-connect our RV to camp, enjoy our planned Taco Night  — and of course, more s’mores!

The Perfect Marshmallow

By the time I climbed into bed Saturday night, I could not believe our trip was coming to an end the next day, just as we became accustomed to the rhythm of the RV life.  I knew we could have easily stayed another two nights — or more!

 Our 5 Tips For RVing Weekend Warriors

  • Plan for a long weekend if you can – consider the journey and destination in your RV as a total adventure, and take your time along the way!
  • Choose an RV Resort with amenities for everyone, such as recreation rooms with WI-FI, swimming pools, organized activities and park model cabins – perfect for those who want to try out the RV lifestyle, but aren’t ready to buy.
  • It’s all about preparation. Just like with any camping experience you’ll benefit from advance meal plans, prepping fruits and veggies, marinating meat, etc.  All help to save time, and bring only what portions of dry goods you need from home to reduce waste #Grits
  • RVs have plenty of storage: Grab toys and games from home such as balls, board games, and cards for those down moments, especially before bedtime.
  • Eat lots of s’mores!

What are your must-have tips for weekend getaways in your RV? Let me know in the comments!

RV REFRIGERATOR TIPS & TRICKS

For the most part RV refrigerators are efficient, but sometimes RV owners do things that result in the refrigerator being less efficient. Today I want to discuss some tips and tricks that will help your RV refrigerator operate at maximum efficiency.

Refrigerator pic#1 level RV

1) First and foremost the RV must be fairly level for the refrigerator to operate properly. Older RV refrigerators required more precise leveling, but even newer models need to be close to level for optimum performance. Over time a cooling unit operated out of level can be permanently damaged. When you set up at the campground you can use a carpenter’s level to ensure the RV is close to level front-to-rear and side-to-side. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but close.

Refrigerator pic 2 Dawn loading food

2) The initial cool down process can take four to six hours. I recommend turning the refrigerator on the day before you plan to leave for a trip, and before you put any food in it. When you do put food in the refrigerator it should already be cold, and food put in the freezer should already be frozen. Adding already cold food, rather than warm food, lets the refrigerator work more efficiently. One common mistake people make is to over-pack the refrigerator. There needs to be space between the foods for air to circulate throughout the refrigerator compartment. In most situations you will have access to a store where you can buy food, so a two to three day supply should be enough.

Refrigerator pic#3 fan & batteries

3) To assist with air circulation you can purchase an inexpensive battery operated refrigerator fan. Install the batteries in the fan and place the fan in the front refrigerator compartment blowing upwards. The fan will improve the refrigerator’s efficiency by circulating the air and it helps reduce the initial cool down time by 50 percent.

refrigerator pic 4 inspect vent

4) The heat created by the cooling process is vented behind the refrigerator. Air enters through the outside refrigerator vent and helps draft the hot air up and out through the roof vent. Periodically inspect the back of the refrigerator and the roof vent for any obstructions like bird nests, leaves or other debris that might prevent the excess heat from escaping.

5) Another good idea is to install a 12-volt, thermostatically controlled refrigerator vent fan at the back of the refrigerator, or at the top of the roof vent. The fan will assist in drafting the hot air away from the refrigerator. If you are mechanically inclined, these fans are fairly simple to install, or you can have your RV dealer install one for you. Either way it’s worth it. The fan removes the heat from behind the refrigerator, improving the refrigerators performance by up to 40 percent. Note: Some new RVs come with a fan already installed.

Refrigerator pic#5 parked in shade

6) The outside temperature also affects the operation and efficiency of your RV refrigerator. When it’s cold outside you might need to lower the temperature setting and when it’s hot outside you might need to raise the setting. Extremely hot weather will directly affect the refrigerator’s efficiency. When it’s really hot outside try parking the RV in the shade, especially the side the refrigerator is on. Note: Some RV refrigerators are preset by the manufacturer and you cannot manually adjust the temperature.

refrigerator pic 6 thermometer

7) Last but certainly not least you should always keep a thermometer in the food compartment. Food can begin to spoil at temperatures above 40 degrees. A small thermometer will let you know at a glance if your RV is operating efficiently.

RV refrigerators will operate very efficiently if we apply these simple tips & tricks to help make the refrigerator’s job easier and less demanding.

Happy Camping,

Mark J. Polk
RV Education 101

MOUNT ST. HELENS

We recently spent an amazing 25 days exploring the Pacific Northwest, and the single most surprising thing was how much we enjoyed our stop in the Mount St. Helens region.

 

To be completely honest, we pretty much expected a cool photo op and not much more.  Look kids…a really big volcano. Smile!

 

Well. It was in fact an amazing photo op. But it was also so much more.

 

Mount St. Helens ended up being one of our very favorite experiences, and we all wished we had more time to explore the area. In fact, we are already planning a return trip when the boys are old enough to do the 10-mile round trip hike up to the summit.

 

So, what is there to do at Mount St. Helens besides look at a big volcano? Here are our top recommendations for your visit.

 

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ROAM SWEET HOME

A love of design and of the outdoors led Jill Evans to combine these passions and create a rolling home on wheels where adventure and the comforts of home and hearth go hand in hand.

 

 

While growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, Jill Evans learned the fine arts of needlework and quilting from her mother who had a needlepoint shop. She had no idea that her creative child play would turn into a lifelong passion and that her mother would become her role model, mentor and friend. Jill’s dad was also contributing heavily to her other passion, the outdoors. An avid fisherman who loved lake life and took the family shore camping on the lakes around Kentucky, planted in Jill a love for nature that has never left. Those happy childhood camping trips and sewing sessions would become Jill’s outlet for the creative drive that would lead her to open an antiques mall, restore a vintage trailer and create beautiful quilts for family and friends.

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GIRLS RV GETAWAY

Many ladies are intimidated by the thought of taking the RV out on their own.  This is especially true if you have only gone RVing with your husband and the kids.

 

 

If your situation is anything like mine, as the wife and mom, I am responsible to pack everyone up and be sure that we have a meal plan before every trip.  Once we arrive at the campsite, I am the one who gets the RV’s interior situated and starts the evening supper in the crockpot.  Meanwhile, my husband goes outside to connect the RV to shore power, sewer and fresh water.  Yes, everyone has a job and since our maiden RV voyage in 2014, we have perfected this process and I must say it goes off without a hitch…most times.

 

 

But, what is a girl to do when she decides to take the RV out solo or at least sans the husband and kids?  What if I took the RV out with a couple of my girlfriends for the weekend?  Am I able to do this without my trusty life partner?  I have seen my husband hook up the RV many times and I am very comfortable driving it.  So what do I really have to worry about?  I can do this!

 

 

Now before you start thinking about hiking and all the awesome possibilities of the great outdoors, this was not what I had in mind at all for this getaway.  You see, I have never been that outdoorsy type of gal.  Don’t get me wrong!  I love to go hiking and exploring with my boys, but this was a girls’ weekend.  As such, we were looking forward to being pampered, relaxed, and dined.

 

 

Now since this was our first “Girls Trip” we were determined to stick to a few rules.

 

  • No discussions about husbands, kids or work.
  • No phone calls with the above parties. (Except for emergencies, of course)
  • No morning wakeup alarms.
  • No reservations, no time schedules to keep.
  • HAVE FUN.

 

Okay, so the groundwork has been established let’s go!

 

GET PAMPERED

 

The first thing on our list of MUST DO’s was to find a spa where we could enjoy a nice massage.   As women we play so many different roles during the course of the day.  We are a wife, mom, daughter, sister, confidant, therapist, nurse, cook and household CEO and that is before we ever step foot outside of the house.  Therefore, it is vitally important to take some to rejuvenate oneself periodically.  Heading to the spa for a full-body massage and foot reflexology was the best decision that we could have made for ourselves, as it set the tone for the remainder of the getaway.

 

 

RELAX

 

The next item on the MUST DO list was to simply relax.  Many ladies will agree that this is easier said than done.  But remember the ground rules that were set in place prior to leaving on our Girls Getaway?  In order to relax you have to be able to allow your loved ones to handle the day -to -day responsibilities at home.  You have to be able to unplug and just be.

 

Here is where RVing makes its most influential impact.  Being able to sit outside and just enjoy nature is so peaceful.  The girls and I were able to just talk about things that were important to us as women and sometimes just be plain silly.  It was our time.

 

DINE

 

 

Last, but certainly not least on our MUST DO list was to eat some good food.  Being able to go out with the girls to a trendy food spot in the city that did not offer a kids menu, was priceless!

 

Our RV has given us so much more than we ever intially thought it would.  This getaway would have cost us twice as much if we had to reserve hotel rooms,  and we certainly would not have had the peaceful and homelike atmosphere that we enjoyed at the campsite.  Yes, our RV has proved to be very instrumental in improving the quality of our vacations and ultimately the quality of our lives.

 

 

*Confession…As the day approached to begin this trip I was nervous and unsure of myself.   I am so happy that I soldiered through my apprehensions, because it was so worth it.  Not only am I more confident in my abilities to travel solo, I am so happy that I was able to share some much needed girl time with these incredible ladies.

 

 

CHEERS!