Our Covid Thanksgiving

With having had so much question and anxiety this year over what the future would bring, Kathy and I now have so much to be thankful for.

Although this will certainly be a different sort of Thanksgiving than any we’ve ever seen before, we will celebrate the fact that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Things WILL get better for all of us as we move forward.

As I’ve shared with you in previous posts, we remain in Ohio until early spring 2021.

Kathy and I are blessed to have a safe place to hang our hats since March of 2020. Our daughter and son-in-law welcomed us back “home” where we can live on our own in the bunkhouse, just a hundred feet or so from the main house.

Panoramic view of the bunkhouse

Although we had been sharing the dinner table with them on a daily basis, recently our son-in-law’s work location has had a half dozen or so positive Covid cases. He works in the physical therapy department at a local nursing home.

So as a result, the last week or so has found them eating dinner on their own. So it’s been a more lonely time for Kathy and me. We miss the daily interaction.

We just took a small turkey breast out of the freezer, Kathy will make her yummy Greeny-Beanie Casserole and of course we’ll have the usual mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy along with my homemade apple pie for desert.

Hopefully Stu and Sara will feel comfortable enough to come on up to the bunkhouse and join us in our celebration of all that we have to be thankful for. Thankfully, Stu has tested negative several times over the last 10 days or so. But nonetheless we’ll keep our distance as best we can.

Speaking of being thankful – we’re blessed to be retired and not have to go to a workplace where we might have to be in close contact with others on a daily basis. Kathy is able to stay home and I am working part-time driving a county bus delivering local folks to medical appointments and such.

Herb at work

We give thanks that the election is finally over. The count is done and we have a President-Elect who will take office on January 20th. A lot of changes are forthcoming for which we are very thankful.

We’re thankful for our (mostly) good health. Sure, at this age we do have some aches and pains that we didn’t have just a few years ago, but we’re really in pretty good shape for the shape we’re in. Nothing medically major in the foreseeable future and we’ll try to keep it that way.

We’re thankful that a vaccine is nearly here, and we look forward to being able to get back on the road, seeing more of this beautiful country, renewing old friendships along the way, and making more new friends as we travel.

We hope for you, that although your Thanksgiving will very likely be different from years past, you will be safe in your celebration so that you and your loved ones can celebrate for years to come.

We’d love to hear from you. What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Where are you? How will you celebrate? You can leave your comments in the comments section below or if you’re reading this from the Facebook link, feel free to respond there if you like.

As always, we appreciate your reading and leaving comments and we wish only the best to you and yours.

Until next time,

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Really? Unlimited Streaming for only $25/mo ???

Yes that’s right … truly unlimited streaming for just $25 a month. It CAN happen and Kathy and I have been taking advantage of this great value for a full year now. And you can too.

And when I say $25 per month I mean TOTAL cost. No additional taxes, fees, or hidden charges. And there’s no contract either – quit the service whenever you want.

The service is called Visible and it’s owned by and operates on the Verizon 4G network. Wherever you can get Verizon service you can get a Visible signal. NOTE: This statement is accurate for the U.S. only – Visible service does not work in Mexico or Canada.

There’s no special phone or hotspot to buy – you may well be able to use what you already have, just swap out the SIM card with the new one. If for some reason your phone is not compatible with the Visible service, don’t despair as they have plenty of varied inventory on their web site at competitive prices.

Don’t have a hotspot? We bought our ZTE model R2 Android phone from Visible for $19. Although this is actually a cell phone, we use it exclusively in hotspot mode 24/7. It just stays plugged in setting on a table next to our TV. It connects to the TV and our other digital devices in the coach via it’s own built-in wifi.

Looks like their least expensive phone now is priced at $59

We have no indoor or outdoor TV antenna, no cable, no satellite dish. The Visible hotspot is our ONLY television and internet provider.

With Visible you get unlimited data and no throttling of data speeds. There are two caveats however.

  1. When you are using a device in Hotspot mode (providing internet data to TV or other devices) the speed is throttled down to 5mb/second. We have found however that this is NOT a problem. We can still stream every day whether it’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, You Tube, You TubeTV, PBS, CBS, or any other streaming service we’ve tried. Occasionally there are a few seconds of buffering in the very beginning of any stream, but once this goes away, the rest of the show or movie is fine.

The pictures below show our hotspot data usage over the last three months. You can see that we average approximately 170 gigabytes of data per month.

Caveat #2. When using a device in hotspot mode, there can only be one external device connected at a time. To get around this limit we purchased a small $39 Wi-Fi extender/repeater/router. Here’s the link to that particular router we bought. Connect this little router to your new hotspot and then connect multiple digital devices (TV, computer, tablet, etc.) to the router.

How does the $25/month price work? By utilizing what Visible calls “Party Pay”. When you sign up as a new customer the standard price is $40/month and you get a $15 credit as a new customer first month credit bringing your first bill down to $25. From then on it’s $40 unless you take advantage of their Party Pay program by inviting others to join Visible. For each other person that joins your “party”, you each get $5 off your monthly bill. Get 3 folks to join your party and your bill (and each of theirs) is now down to $25/month.

Here’s the link to Visible’s Party Pay web page so you can see for yourself how it works.

And getting others to join your party is easy-peasy because there are Facebook groups and other sites where Visible users post the link to their party inviting others to join. Kathy and I now have three Visible devices with three “guests” in each party so we pay a grand total of $75 per month for 3 devices that provide cell phone service and unlimited data streaming. Pretty good, eh?

I’ve found that if, for any reason someone decides to drop out of one of my parties, I get an email from Visible. I then re-post the link to my party on the Party Pay Facebook group and within minutes I have a new member bringing that monthly bill back down to $25/month!

So what’s the downside? There are no Visible stores and you can’t get any Visible service by contacting Verizon either by phone or going into a Verizon store. You can only communicate with Visible Customer Service online either using their app or on their Facebook page.

Before switching to Visible, we were paying Verizon about $180 per month for service on our three devices (2 Android cell phones and a Verizon hotspot) with a data cap of 25GB/month before they cut the transfer speed to virtually nothing. It was nearly impossible to even check our GMail without severe buffering making us wait what seemed to be forever.

By the way, there’s nothing in this for me. We are not paid to promote Visible service nor do we receive any compensation for new customers other than our Party Pay groups I’ve already talked about. I’m sharing this because I know the service works and just trying to save you some money.

I’m curious … what are you paying for cell service and do you think you might save money by switching to Visible?

Let me know if you have any questions – always glad to help others save money and make life a little easier.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Sharing Some News From Mexico

If you’ve been following along for a while now, you know that we spent a couple of weeks last February visiting Baja California, Mexico.

We traveled there with the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 – The Mexican Connection. Chapter 8 has been organizing Mexico caravans for nearly four decades now and we found the trip to be exciting and relaxing at the same time. The countryside was beautiful and our interaction with the locals made the trip all that much more rewarding. We look forward to the next Chapter 8 trip

Map of Baja California, Mexico

As a refresher, you can go back and look at some of our posts by following this link. Clicking on this link will bring up a search results page with links to each of the posts I wrote while we were on the trip.

What I wanted to share with you today is that our caravan Wagonmaster (Kassandra) recently received some pictures from our friend Miguel at La Jolla Beach Camp. Miguel was not only our host at the beach camp, but was also instrumental in helping to identify local areas of need where we, as travelers and guests to their area might be able to help.

One of those groups of folks that we so enjoyed getting to meet were the residents of what we here in the states might call an “assisted living” center. In Spanish it’s called La Casa del Abuelo (Or “The House Of The Grandfather”). I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here because I’ve posted about that visit back in February and you can go and refresh your memory by following this link.

Some of the work we did at La Casa del Abuelo included interior insulation and exterior paint

But I do want to share with you the pictures that Miguel sent along. These show how the monies that we donated through our auction and through individual donations have been used to pay for fabrication and installation of the new range hood in the kitchen along with installing new gates on the compound to promote the safety and security of the residents.

I know that our fellow Chapter 8 members are just as proud as Kathy and me that our efforts and our donations have been put to good use and we look forward to a return trip so as to be able to help even more.

If you’re an RV’er and you’d like to find out more about Chapter 8 and their caravan to Mexico each year, check out the chapter web site at www.mexicanconnection08.com

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Off The Road During Covid

Well, it’s November 2020 and we continue to lay low in Ohio during this Covid 19 pandemic.

You might remember that we sold the house in Ohio and hit the road full-time in September of 2016 and up until a few months ago, we had no thoughts of stopping our travel and volunteering lifestyle anytime soon.

In early 2020 we had just finished our 2 week February trip to Mexico with the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 and then made it back to our RV lot in Casa Grande, Arizona. We stayed there at the park for just a few days before rolling out and heading east through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and on into central Florida for a couple weeks where we enjoyed hooking up with our good friends from our school days along with a stop to visit my sister in Jacksonville.

Our intention was to head north out of Florida by the end of March to fulfill our commitment to serve as campground hosts at a beautiful little campground nestled in the forest near Waynesville, North Carolina. We were scheduled to be there for April, May, and June through the July 4th weekend. Then we would come back to Ohio for July and August to spend time with family and in September we would head up into Michigan (including the U.P.) and take all of late September and all of October to travel down through Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and on to our RV lot in Arizona by November 1st. We would be visiting friends along the way. It was a good plan. But it was just a plan ….

And then the Covid pandemic seemed to really “hit” and become a reality to us while we were in Florida. Frankly, we got a little nervous about what the future was to bring. There was talk of closures to include restaurants, gas stations, campgrounds, state borders, and even highway rest areas! Little was really KNOWN about what was to come and it seemed that every state was making up its own rules as the days passed. It seemed we couldn’t count on anything anymore.

Would we be able to make it to North Carolina? SHOULD we proceed to fulfill our commitment to serve as hosts at all? What about the dangers of coming in contact with so many strangers traveling from all over the country? How safe would Kathy be working in the office? How safe would I be cleaning the bathrooms? Or should we just hunker down and stay in Florida until this all “blows over”? But how long might that be? And would we even be able to find a spot to rent given that there were so many state parks and campgrounds that were closing?

There was so much unknown … we decided the best thing to do was cancel out on our 3 month working stint in North Carolina and just head right on up to Ohio while keeping our heads down. Along the way we spent evenings either in highway rest areas, local village Elks Lodge parking lots, or anywhere we might find a parking lot where we could park and spend the night without having to be in a situation where we would have to interact with others. We are fully self-contained with plenty of onboard water and ample solar-powered electricity so a night or even a couple weeks without hookups was not a problem for us.

You might remember that when we started our new lifestyle that we had sold our Ohio home to our daughter and son-in-law. But years before we had finished off what had been a 2nd floor workshop above the garage. Our intent was to provide a private apartment for a guest visit, to add value to the property, or possibly provide for rental income. We never had any idea that WE would be the guests!

But we’re blessed that Sara and Stu welcomed us back to the area and it’s great that although we are “close” physically, we’re not TOO close. As it’s turned out, we prepare and share dinner over here in the bunkhouse for the four of us and then we have the rest of the evening to ourselves!

Panoramic view of the inside of the bunkhouse

Well, here it is November. We’ve been here seven months now. The beauty of fall in Ohio is pretty much gone. The red and gold leaves that drenched the roadsides with glorious bright color have fallen and winter is starting to settle in. Since the Covid situation hasn’t improved any (we’re now in the 3rd wave), our earlier logic used to get us to stay low still commands that we not travel and come in contact with a lot of other people.

The coach is in heated storage for the winter – and it’s just a 1/4 mile away!

I’ve taken a part-time job (about 30 hours/week) driving a small bus for the local Morrow County Transit Service. We transport folks to local shopping and medical appointments. All drivers and riders are required to wear masks and the vehicles are disinfected daily to protect us all.

Kathy’s been keeping busy preparing dinners for the four of us along with helping out Sara by keeping her home as well as ours clean and all the laundry done.

I have to admit, we have had some level of “hitch-itch” while here and we’ve taken just a handful of short camping trips with only our closest friends that we feel comfortable being around. And even at that we’ve avoided any hand shakes, hugging, or even sitting in close proximity to each other in an effort to do our part in keeping the spread of Covid at bay.

We’ve also had the opportunity to visit my sister Betsy and Brother-In-Law Bob at their new home in Owosso Michigan.

Another real pleasant surprise was the opportunity to meet up with one of my old bosses. Ken and his wife Jan were traveling through Ohio from Michigan and stopped to spend a couple days in our area! I worked for Ken from about 1980 to 1990 (I think). We by chance connected on Facebook and Kathy and I ran over to the KOA just a few minutes from our home and spent the afternoon with them and their Great Dane “Magnum”. It was great to see them again after so many years.

We’ve decided that we’ll stay the winter. Although we miss all our friends at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, Arizona this year, we will look forward to seeing them next winter – when hopefully things will be much better. Just today on the news Pfizer has announced that one of their vaccine products is showing a 90% success rate in 45,000 study participants.

Along with Eli Lilly and other manufacturers working on a vaccine, and new leadership in Washington making the fight against Covid a priority, maybe we will be able to resume in spring of ’21 our life of RV travel and volunteering. We certainly hope so.

Speaking of 2021, here’s our tentative plan and more details will follow in future posts as the date gets closer.

We are going to be campground hosts at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in Burkesville, KY for April, May, and June through the July 4th weekend.

Then we’ll head on up to Baldwin, Michigan to spend a couple days at Pere Marquette Oaks Resort so we can spend some time visiting with great friends we made when we worked there as host couple during the summers of 2017 and 2018.

By mid-July we will hook up with Matt and Sherry who are fellow full-time RV’ers that we first met in Livingston Texas. We’ve since worked with them in South Dakota and met up with them in other areas of the country. This time we are planning our own little caravan (of two rigs) to motor across the Mackinac Bridge and over into Canada via Sault St. Marie.

Matt and Sherry

Assuming the Canadian border is open by then, we’ll all head SLOWLY west through the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and on into British Columbia with arrival in Vancouver BC by September 1st. Matt and Sherry will “peel off” at Creston BC (just north of Idaho) so they can zip on down to visit their son at Missoula, Montana.

Kathy and I hope to take a couple ferries across from Vancouver area to Port Angeles Washington where we’ll get on Route 101 down the Pacific coast on through Oregon and into northern California.

At some point, we’ll work our way over toward Reno, Nevada and then on down (and around) Las Vegas and back to Rover’s Roost by November 1st, 2021.

That’s it for now .. we wanted to bring you up to date on what little is going on in our lives and our plans for the future.

We wish you well and happiness – we’re doin’ fine and still enjoying life – even as it is.

What about you? How are you handling the situation we find ourselves in? What are you doing to occupy your time if you’re quarantined? Are you still able to work either from home or at your work location? If you’re working away from home what are you doing to stay safe?

That’s the main thing – stay safe by staying home if you can. Use a mask if you go out in public while maintaining the 6′ distance from others and then wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitizer as soon as you get back in the car so you are not transferring anything from your hands to your steering wheel and ultimately back to your face.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Thinking About Full-Time RV’ing?

Are you an RV’er? Maybe you’re a Weekend Warrior? – does your RV spend more time in storage or parked in the driveway than on the road? Maybe you’ve dreamed of the time when you can “get outta Dodge” and hit the open road full-time?

As we’ve traveled and worked in RV parks, campgrounds, and museums around the country we’ve made many new friends with other full time RV’ers. We’ve had the opportunity to sit around the campfire or share a dinner together after work. We’ve all shared our experiences with each other and now we we want to share some tips that you might find helpful.

Is the full-time RV lifestyle really for me? If you have a partner, keep in mind that you’ll be spending a LOT of time with each other in close proximity. If you’re not already good with each other, getting rid of the house and changing your lifestyle so drastically might not be for you. Maybe you should just rent a rig and try a long trip away .. maybe a couple months or so to see how things go.

And while you are on this “Trial Run”, don’t chase down every destination you can – slow way down. Remember .. the purpose of this test run is to simulate what your life might be like when (and if) you do make the change to full time RV’ing. Running from location to location to “see everything we can” will more closely simulate a vacation than a lifestyle.

Most full timers stay one or more weeks in any one location .. sometimes even months. This gives one plenty of time to be able to become immersed in the surrounding area seeing lots of new sights and very often developing new lasting friendships that just wouldn’t happen if you’re only in a location for a couple days at a time.

If your trial run goes well then the next step might be to find an RV that fits your needs, likes, and pocketbook.

Again, renting a rig might be a good idea although most folks just find what they THINK they will like the first time. Studies show that RV’ers typically own three RV’s before settling down on one type or brand vs another.

There are just so many choices out there; travel trailer or fifth wheel or motorhome? What length? Gas or diesel engine? New or used? What floor plan suits you? Oh, and yes, what does the pocketbook allow? I’m not going to pretend to think I can tell you what type RV is the best, that’s a decision you’ll have to investigate further and decide on your own.

Read RV blogs written by actual RV’ers, not by professional writers. Follow RV’ing You Tube videos. Join Facebook RV groups. I especially recommend Chuck Woodbury’s “RV HORROR STORIES” on Facebook, you’ll learn a lot about what brands (and dealers) to stay away from.

Our personal experience has been that buying a good used rig is favorable to purchasing new. We had never done any camping of any sort in our 40+ years of marriage. Our first rig was a used 30′ Dutchman 5th wheel, followed a year later by a 34′ Monaco gas motorhome and then after another year we finally settled on our current 36′ Airstream diesel motorhome.

The fifth wheel was parked at a nearby lake adjacent to our pontoon boat, then we bought the gas Monaco after selling the 5’er and the boat. We made a few short trips with the Monaco gasser, but decided to buy the Airstream diesel pusher once we knew that we were going to “take the plunge” and go full-time.

All of these rigs had some problems, but none that convinced us we shouldn’t have made the purchase of a previously owned RV. Even though we had to pay to have some of the repairs made (I made many of the repairs myself), the cost was still FAR BELOW the cost of buying new. And further, we didn’t have the aggravation of trying to get warranty work taken care of. As you’ll learn soon enough, so many dealers use stall tactics to delay completion of your warranty work because they have a higher profit margin doing non-warranty work that’s paid by the customer rather than warranty work paid by the manufacturer. Again .. check out Chuck Woodbury’s “RV Horror Stories” page on Facebook to see what I’m talking about.

What about joining clubs? Our advice is don’t get caught up in subscribing to every magazine and joining every club out there. Many of the magazines are nothing more than corporate-owned platforms for advertising their (or their affiliates) products.

There are lots of clubs out there that cater to those who own a specific BRAND (Monaco, Arctic Fox, Airstream, etc.) of RV, others that attract owners of TYPES of RV’s (Pickup Campers, Fiberglass “egg” style campers, etc.)

Our advice is to look seriously at Escapees RV Club. This club was founded by a husband and wife full-time RV couple in 1978 who saw the need to come up with a way to support other full-time RV’ers. This club offers all the perks the other clubs offer (product discounts, caravans, rallies, training, etc.) but we’ve found it’s so much more than that. It’s truly like a family – our family out on the road. We encourage you to find out more at Escapees.com – at only $39.95 a year it’s a great bargain. If you DO decide to join, please mention our names as those who referred you – we get a little something. It all helps!

Have you thought about how you’re going to finance this new lifestyle? If you sell your sticks ‘n bricks home, you can use that money. Maybe you have an income stream that can work for you on the road. That’s one of the great things about technology today – many of us can work from just about anywhere provided we have a good internet connection. Or maybe your savings and investments you’ve developed can carry you a long way down the road.

Personally we decided we were going to live on our Social Security income and Kathy’s small pension from the school system she retired from while keeping our savings and investment nest egg intact.

In order to be able to do this we sold our modest home and paid off all our outstanding debt so that we were debt-free. We also determined that it would be less stressful (on our emotional well being and our pocketbook) if we were to Workamp and volunteer. We found that by volunteering 10-12 hours each week in exchange for our site and utilities we could live, in essence “rent free” and not receive any taxable income. To find out more about one of our Workamping experiences you can visit this link. You can also just use the search box here on our blog and enter the word “Workamp” or “Volunteer” to learn more about the types of opportunities that we’ve had.

What about an “Exit Plan”? After all, nothing lasts forever. If you DO decide to go all-in and sell the sticks-n-bricks home to hit the road full-time, what might you do when the time comes to get off the road? As we age, we tend to develop health issues that require more attention by medical professionals and could very well cause us to suspend travel – either for some extended period of time (while we recuperate) or permanently. So what might you do should that happen to you?

We’re getting close to 4 years full-time and much of that time we’ve been Workamping and volunteering and you can read more about some of those gigs here. But we have begun to think more and more about when that time comes for us.

Many RV’ers buy or lease an RV lot in a park or campground that they can use to “lay low” for extended periods of time. For us, we have a lifetime lease on an RV lot at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande, AZ. This lot is ours for as long as we want and when we are not there, the lot is in the rental pool so we receive some income from the rental.

Do we miss our friends and family? Absolutely! We try to make a pass through Ohio once a year to visit. We realize that we don’t t need to be there all the time. With all the technology available to us today to visit online, our once a year visit in person gives us the recharge to head out again.

There are other more boring considerations too like; what to do about mail and packages, how and where do I get health care, what state do I claim as my “residence”, and figuring out what cell phone and internet plan might work best for you on the road.

I’ll talk about each if these issues in upcoming posts, but for now I think I probably have given you a bit to chew on.

So yes, there’s a lot to consider when thinking about making the move to full-time RV life.

I wish you well in this uncertain time and trust you will stay safe wherever you happen to be. Be good to yourself and to each other and “this too shall pass” in time – let’s just hope not too long.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Additional Discounts on TSD Fuel Program Announced

I recently wrote a post telling you about the TSD Logistics Diesel Fuel Savings program. If you missed that post you can read about it here.

Just received some good news from TSD – “We have some great news. TA/Petro has come back to us with some great rates. They will likely be the lowest price out of all of our vendors.”

They are also continuing to work with other fuel vendors to add more opportunities for us to save on diesel fuel at the truck pumps.

We have also added Kwik Trip and Kwik Star to our discount program with 10 cents off per gallon. We are reaching out to others now to see if we can increase to some of the smaller chains. Our current discount network is TA, Petro, Loves, Road Ranger, SAAP Brothers, Ambest, Kwik Trip and Kwik Star.”

I’m going to type up this list of fuel vendors and keep it within arms reach from the driving position so I can be on the lookout for these suppliers.

If they are not already there, all of these suppliers will soon be merged into the TSD/EFS app that we use to find the best price in our area.

The EFS (Electronic Fuel Systems) app is showing that the Loves along I-71 at Bellville, OH has the lowest price on diesel near me.

Here’s a clip of the Loves web site this morning showing their current pump price on diesel at $2.42/gallon.

Not a bad savings, ($.77 per gallon) eh?

If you haven’t already started using the TSD Logistics RV Fuel Savings Card, I encourage you to take advantage of the savings and the ease of use. Yes, they do charge a nominal fee (10% of the SAVINGS you get) but it’s well worth it.

If you have any questions, feel free to write me here in the comments section below or connect with me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/herbnkathyrv and I’ll be glad to share my experiences with you.

I know right now very few of us are traveling the way we were a few months ago but “this too shall pass” and while you’re sitting still now is a good time to take a few minutes to sign up for the program. Besides, right now you know where you’re going to be over the next few weeks … so they’ll have a good address to send you the EFS card.

And when the time comes … safe travels to you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Day 43 of Isolation for Full Time RV’ers

It’s another day living with the Covid-19 Corona virus issue and we’re dealing with it although missing our previously taken-for-granted freedoms.

But we’re finding that working to stay as safe as we reasonably can, it’s not as bad as it first sounded a couple months ago.

As of early May Ohio is now starting to “open up” as Governor Mike Dewine has modified his previous “Stay At Home” order to “Stay Safe Ohio” still encouraging all of us to maintain social distancing and to use face coverings whenever we are out in public. Kathy and I plan on continuing to basically shelter in place and only travel out for the necessary and always take the appropriate precautions. Our hope is that we will all be able to get out more freely by the end of summer – but that remains to be seen.

We consider ourselves fortunate that we have a place to stay safe that allows us to still have the freedom to go outside and enjoy our surroundings. There are so many others that live in a small apartment or condo and really have nowhere to go out and stretch a bit. If we had stayed at our RV park in Arizona – or any other park for that matter, we would be confined to our motorhome or our patio area.

As it is, we are “parked” in the Bunkhouse above the garage at the home of our daughter Sara and husband Stu. We sold them our home when we hit the road in 2016. We had finished off the storage room on top of the garage making it into a small apartment a few years ago as a guest room since the main house was an open floor plan with just one bedroom. Little did we know at the time that WE might end up being the guests!

The “Indian Mound Lodge” – our previous home built in the early ’60’s sits on 6+ acres of woods
Inside the lodge looking through the kitchen into the living room

During the time the governors stay at home order was in place, we only made a trip to the grocery about once a week … and I have to admit that I also made a few trips to Menards or Lowes to get supplies for the projects I’ve been working on here at the bunkhouse. I’ve always kept my distance from other shoppers and used the mask during my visit and hand sanitizer when I got back in the car.

The Bunkhouse above the garage. The big silver tarp covers Sara’s therapy pool

The projects around the house here have been my savior – they’ve allowed me to keep from going crazy with boredom.

The “Bunkhouse” apartment above the garage (panoramic image)

I’ve done some painting (yellow) of a couple walls in the living area along with the bathroom and spent considerable time (I’m not a carpenter) installing new kitchen cupboards/counter top/sink and shelving for the kitchenette. And of course hung some things on the walls to make it feel a little more “homey”.

The newly completed kitchenette awaits the arrival of an electric range

And Kathy has been wonderful at keeping busy helping Sara with spring cleaning of the house and they also worked together helping a friend of Sara’s to make masks for others.

Sara and Kathy working on cutting material for masks in the porch
Sara at work

Sara just went back to work yesterday. She had taken a layoff from her job driving a mini-bus for the local county transportation service. Once the stay at home order was in place the bus runs to doctors appointments and shopping trips dropped off drastically and so the bus service reduced their driver pool from 18 drivers down to only five. But that’s ok – it gave Sara the long awaited opportunity to spend time outside working on the beds planting and transplanting .. something she really enjoys doing.

In addition to working on the bunkhouse, I had asked Stu to make a list of things I could be doing while he is at work. Stu works in Physical Therapy at a nearby nursing/rehab facility. He came up with a list (on a yellow legal pad) of about 15+ items! Since it’s early spring a lot of what I/we have been up to has been outside as long as the weather is above 40 degrees or so.

Kathy, Sara and I trimming, collecting and burning brush
Bringing another load of firewood to the splitter

Our son David, his wife Lisa and son Garret live just about a mile down the road. David works from home and hasn’t had to do any traveling since this whole thing started. They’ve dealt with the stay-at-home order fine as they live on 8+ acres, have a few animals to take care of and Lisa always keeps a very well stocked pantry and freezer so they’ve not had to go out hardly at all. Garret doing his 6th grade school work at home via computer. He’s also been working on some life skill lessons. Papa worked with him on making some Squirrel Picnic Tables that he’s selling on Facebook and he’ll be working with David and me next week learning how to wire lights and switches in their barn.

Garret at the radial arm saw cutting material for the squirrel picnic tables

The other day I decided to show Sara that I trust her explicitly and allowed her to cut my “hair”.

Although we miss the opportunity to eat out at some of our favorite restaurants, we’re also learning some new recipes and enjoying dinners together with Stu and Sara.

Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with Ricotta/Mozzarella cheese and spinach – Yummy!

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day – I know it’ll be another great day.

Stay safe.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Saving $ on Diesel Fuel (New Program)

As we travel around the country in our diesel motorhome, we’re always looking for savings on fuel. I’ve used the Gas Buddy app to find stations and their pricing, but it seems I most often gravitate to the highway exit stations like Loves, Flying J, and others because of the convenience being right off the exit ramp and knowing I’ll always have plenty of room to navigate in and around the pump islands.

Although Gas Buddy might show a good price on a station in town, I don’t know how the roads and/or traffic might be getting off the freeway and down to the station, and I have no idea how large the lot is or how many pumps they have. When you’re driving a motorhome pulling a Toad (that means you can’t back up) you want to know you can get in and out easily.

Pilot/Flying J has offered discounts to RV’ers that carry the Good Sam (Camping World) Preferred Customer card. This gives gasoline customers five cents per gallon and diesel customers eight cents per gallon discount. This card works in the RV lanes and not in the truck lanes.

But now we have an even better alternative. A commercial trucking company called TSD Logistics out of Texarkana, Texas is now offering it’s negotiated pricing with some of the more popular truck fuel stops to RV’ers who purchase diesel fuel.

Large trucking companies negotiate fuel prices with suppliers based on annual volume. In order to get the best discount possible, TSD saw that by opening their program to RV’ers their total annual volume would increase thereby getting them a better price in future negotiations.

For the RV’er the process is simple. Go to the TSD site and register for an account. There’s no fee for signing up. Once you receive your TSD / EFS debit card in the mail just pull in to any Loves, Petro, T/A (Truckstops of America) and some others. Pull up to THE TRUCK PUMPS. You’ll use your new TSD / EFS card and follow the prompts on the pump screen. It’ll ask you a few questions and then you’ll be able to use the big-boy hose and fill that big diesel tank much more quickly than at the regular or RV pumps.

I blocked the account number for obvious reasons

The TSD/EFS debit card will be attached to your checking account. I recommend that you set up a new checking account just for this purpose. I use ALLY online bank because it’s an interest bearing account and there’s no cost to set up or maintain the account.

With the ALLY app on my phone I can easily transfer funds from our household account to the ALLY account at any time. The pictures below show the ticket from the Loves station in Bushnell Florida along with the screenshot from the EFS app showing my actual cost and savings.

Note pump price of $2.68 per gallon
We paid $1.853 per gallon vs. the pump price of $2.689 / gallon

On our most recent 4000+ mile trip from Arizona through Florida and on up to Ohio, we paid $765 for 391 gallons of diesel fuel and saved $255 off the pump price for an average per gallon price of $1.95 per gallon.

If you’re interested in signing up for the diesel fuel program, check out the web site at https://www.tsdlogistics.com/services/fuel-program/ and if you have any questions about it you can reach out to me in the comment section below or send me an email direct to herbsells@gmail.com

Oh, and by the way … you’ll see on the TSD site that you can get $25 from TSD by referring any of your friends to the program. So if and when you sign up, please indicate that you were referred by Herb Baldwin.

Thanks!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Home Safe In Ohio

The first image at the top of this post is of Sara and Kathy out on the side porch working on cutting material to be used in making masks.

It was a whirlwind February and March with our traveling in the coach from Arizona to Mexico for a couple weeks then back to Arizona by the end of February and by the first of March on over to Florida and ultimately up to Ohio (4800 miles total).

The Covid-19 virus put a screw in the works. When we left Arizona for Florida on March 2nd and traveled through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama there were no precautions taken by us or anyone else that we knew for that matter … but that all changed shortly after we arrived at the Escapee RV Club Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, Florida.

Our home base for 2 weeks in February (Bushnell, FL)

From then on we were still able to take the car to visit friends and family but hand-shakes and hugs were strictly a no-no. As time went on we were hearing rumblings of “stay-at-home” orders and the possibility of closing state borders to keep residents safe.

Our original plan included a 3 month “layover” in Sylva, North Carolina where we were scheduled to Workamp at Moonshine Creek Campground starting April 1st and running through the July 4th weekend.

Kathy was going to be working in the office greeting new arrivals, handling check-ins and taking reservations in addition to working in the camp store. This would mean she would be face-to-face with customers every day. I would be mostly outside taking care of the grounds, helping arriving RV’ers get parked along with being responsible for the daily cleaning of the bathrooms in addition to the new added task of 3x/day disinfecting of same.

As we started hearing reports of the virus and the precautions that different states were taking, we started to use Social Distancing as well. We did not go anywhere that there might have been a large crowd – Ooops – I just remembered. We DID go to Weeki-Wachee near Brooksville Florida to see the mermaid show. We went with our good friends Matt and Sherry on March 13th. They had just checked into the same park we were at in Bushnell while traveling from Tampa Florida to their newly acquired RV lot in Hondo Texas. Matt and Sherry had plans of a trip to Ireland in April but by now they knew that wasn’t going to happen.

You can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image

From that point on however we were only with our friends or family and at all times with only 1 other couple at a time. We always kept our distance and washed our hands regularly.

We have always fulfilled our Workamping commitments in the past and felt badly that we needed to back out on this North Carolina job, but under the circumstances felt it best for us to cancel. With all the uncertainty, we didn’t want to get stuck anywhere if they did decide to try to limit travel and close any state lines.

After visiting my sister Marilynn and brother-in-law Rick in Jacksonville, we left Florida and as we traveled northward we stayed overnight at Elks lodges two nights along with one night in an RV park. In all cases, we never saw or interacted with anyone in person. The arrangements for our stay were made either by phone or online.

We are back in Ohio. Although we claim Texas as our domicile now, Ohio is home in our hearts. Our children and their families are here along with so many good friends we’ve made over the last 30+ years living in Mount Gilead. We’ve missed them all so much and now we’ll have (hopefully) plenty of opportunity later this summer to make up for lost time.

The coach is at our son and daughter-in-law’s home about a mile down the road while we are living up in the bunkhouse above the garage at our daughter and son-in-laws home just north of Mount Gilead, Ohio. We made it here late March and spent the first few days getting the bunkhouse organized for us to live in for the next few months. We took some of Sara & Stu’s belongings over to the coach (for storage) and brought other things from the coach over here.

It was kinda funny actually and a good thing that our home on wheels is parked only a mile away. We’d make a list of things to bring over here and drive over to David and Lisa’s place to get those items. Later that day we were already making another list of things we forgot to bring. This went on for at least 3 or 4 days! We’re blaming that on old age …

The Bunkhouse above the garage

In addition to working on the bunkhouse, we’re keeping busy here helping Stu and Sara with the annual spring chores. There’s always springtime tasks like; raking out the flower beds, picking up fallen sticks and branches from the many trees around the house, cutting the grass, and cutting and splitting firewood for the next winter season.

I enjoy doing these chores … I need the exercise and enjoy working outside (provided it’s over 50 degrees and sunny) and the kids can use the help.

Moving firewood over to the splitter
Kathy, grandson Garret, and Herb splitting and stacking firewood
One of my favorite pastimes

The first image at the top of this post is of Sara and Kathy out on the side porch working on cutting material to be used in making masks.

Stu is (thankfully) still working during this time. His physical rehab work at the nursing home is considered essential and so he is still working. Sara, who was driving a mini-bus for the county’s transit system has taken a lay-off. Their normal crew of 18 drivers has been cut down to only five for the remaining runs to medical needs that include dialysis and other essential services.

For years before we left Ohio and hit the road full time, we made a regular Friday night ritual of having dinner with 3 other couples of very close friends. Often we went out to a restaurant and occasionally we enjoyed each other’s company and dinner at one of our homes.

We were certainly looking forward to meeting up with our “Friday Night Gang” again when we eventually got back to Ohio after our North Carolina gig. This would have happened right after the July 4th weekend.

But in the meantime, we’re using ZOOM to meet virtually. We tried it Saturday night and it worked great! There are four couples and each of us had a corner of the screen and we could all see each other during the whole 40 minute meet-up. It was great and so much better than emailing, texting, or even talking individually on the phone. What made it so special and fun was that we could all see each other’s expression and body language just as it would be if we were around the dinner table from each other. And when any one of us said something funny, we could all laugh together! Although we couldn’t give and get hugs, it was wonderful to have that personal connection again. We’re making a date for 7:00 p.m. every Friday night from here on out until we can once again meet in person.

Here’s an example of what the ZOOM app looks like on your computer

So we are doing very well under the circumstances. We miss seeing our friends, we miss being able to come and go as we please. We are staying on the grounds here at Stu and Sara’s home as Sara is doing the grocery shopping. There are plenty of projects to keep me busy, although Stu is the one to stop at Home Depot or Lowes on his way home from work to pick up any materials or supplies we might need.

I was saying to Kathy just this morning … I want to go out for breakfast again … but that’ll have to wait.

What about you? How are you handling the situation we find ourselves in? What are you doing to occupy your time if you’re quarantined? Are you still able to work either from home or at your work location? If you’re working away from home what are you doing to stay safe?

That’s the main thing – stay safe by staying home if you can. Use a mask if you go out in public while maintaining the 6′ distance from others and then wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitizer as soon as you get back in the car so you are not transferring anything from your hands to your steering wheel and ultimately back to your face.

We look forward to hearing from you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our time in Florida and Covid-19

Things have changed dramatically over the past couple weeks. The virus has seemed to have exploded and as a result we’ve had to carefully consider our travel and visitation plans.

We are now in Wauchula Florida where as of yesterday all restaurants are closed except for take-out.

Social distancing and self-quarantine are the norm. The streets and sidewalks, although not barren, are considerably less crowded.

Before arriving here, we were able to enjoy visits with Dave and Robyn in Crestview, Matt & Sherry along with Larry & Darlene in Bushnell, Ed & Sandy in Orlando, Mike & Deb along with Chuck & Joanne in Wildwood, and Dane & Shiela in Bushnell.

Dave and Robyn. Dave and I have been good friends since grade school
RV’er friends Larry & Darlene, Matt & Sherry along with Kathy and me. We’ve known these folks since we started RV’ing and Workamping in 2016
Ed and Sandy. Ed lived across the street from me starting in 2nd grade
We’ve known Chuck & Joanne since 2017. (Sorry I missed getting a pix of Mike & Deb)
Shiela and Dane (who I’ve known since grade school)

But now things are different. We have to be super conscious of who we spend time with, and from what distance we socialize.

Although some might say we’re being reckless, the fact is .. we take our home with us, we meet and spend time with only one other couple at a time, and we’re careful to wash our hands often and be cognoscent of what surfaces we touch.

We moved the rig from Bushnell to Wauchula on Thursday because our RV friends Paul and Chris have been here a couple months and since we wanted to head to Fort Myers to visit Dave & Judy, Wauchula was a good overnight spot along the way and we could catch up on things with Paul and Chris.

We’re parked in Overflow. The shop and a unit in storage are behind us, otherwise we are alone.
Here’s another shot of the beautiful Florida SKP RESORT in Wauchula Florida

Unfortunately, the park instituted a new rule the day we arrived. Since we were coming from (who knows where) we are to self-quarantine and have no access to any amenities like the park clubhouse, laundry, or swimming pool. Think maybe we should get a credit against our 3 night rent?

We also couldn’t visit with Paul and Chris while we were here because of the new rule. Bummer.

So we stayed Thursday night, got up Friday morning and leaving the coach at the park, we drove our car down to Ft. Myers to spend the night at Dave & Judy’s home.

We’ve known Dave & Judy since high school

We had a wonderful visit with Dave and Judy. They took us for a drive Friday night down to Old Town Ft Myers where we were planning on having a nice dinner .. unfortunately the restaurants got the order from the governor at 4pm that afternoon that ALL restaurants in the state were to close their dining rooms. Fr Myers was like a ghost town as we walked the streets.

Almost NOBODY downtown Ft Myers Friday night

Tomorrow we will leave Wauchula and head up to Jacksonville where we’ll spend a couple days visiting with my sister Marilyn and her husband Rick.

After that we’ll move on up to Jekyll Island Georgia where we’ll spend a couple days with friends that we attended church with in Mt Gilead over 30 years ago. They live in Iowa now but usually winter at Jekyll Island.

From there we are scheduled to move on up to North Carolina for a Workamping gig in April, May, June and through the July 4th holiday weekend. We’re having 2nd thoughts about whether that’s a wise move or not. More on that later as the time gets closer. Actually … the decision may be made for us by others (government)

More later .. in the meantime if you’re traveling then safe travels to you. If you’re staying put, then our best wishes for your good health through this difficult time.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
NOTE: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.