Saturday, September 17, 2016

CONTENTS

The "highlighted" link is the one most recently modified.



WORKAMPING WITHOUT A TOW CAR - Reviewed my current workcamping assignment in West Yellowstone.



PRODUCT REVIEWS - Reviewed Amazon Fire TV.
 
ALTERNATE VEHICLES -  
 
SIGHTSEEING -
      
LOCATIONS WITH GOOD PUBLIC TRANSIT -

Places Where You Can Bike or Walk  -

Stories from Others Who Don't Tow a Car 

EMERGENCIES and Creative Situations -

RENTAL CARS   -


WORKAMPING WITHOUT A TOW CAR


 CURRENT WORKAMPING ASSIGNMENTS:

* Worked during summer of 2016 in West Yellowstone, Montana as a Night Auditor at an upscale hotel. Actually, I was the backup for two full-time Night Auditors.  I worked two nights at one hotel and two nights at the other.  One hotel was across the street from where I was staying and the other was about a 20 minute walk.  I felt perfectly safe walking to work.  It is also close to other hotels in case you are working at those hotels.  If you are working at the IMAX, it might be more of a "healthy" walk to that business.

If your employer has you stay at Fort Jax RV Park, you will not need a car.  Fort Jax is there only for workampers and is GENERALLY not rented out to the public.  Fort Jax is a very basic RV park.  There is a bathroom with showers, and a laundry area.  There were always machines available, never had to wait to get a laundry machine.  And, in the event the laundry room is out of order (it did happen once during my stay, had to install a new water heater), there is another very nice laundromat across the street .  

From Fort Jax, most of the things you will need are within a brisk walk if you are healthy.  The closest grocery store was about four blocks away.  There is a second grocery store farther down, more of a "healthy" walk.  Most restaurants are between brisk walk and healthy walk.  Just be careful at the Asian restaurants.  They have a tendency to "pre charge" the tip.  I was stupid at one of the restaurants and left a tip and didn't find out until I got home and looked at the receipt that a tip had already been charged! 

There is a vet in town, but since my cat died last summer, and I don't have another pet, I can't comment on the vet service.

If you need a car there are two car rental agencies:  One of them is Big Sky Car Rentals located within Yellowstone Vacations.  This was a two block walk from where I was staying.  See my Yelp Review:  https://www.yelp.com/biz/yellowstone-vacations-west-yellowstone  .  Budget Rental is also available both at West Yellowstone Airport (which only is open in the summer) and at another place in West Yellowstone within walking distance.  I didn't try Budget because Big Sky was closer.  

There are also a lot of other "makeshift" RV spots for workampers.  If you are put in one of these, then things will not be as convenient.  The biggest issue was being close to laundry facilities.  If being close to laundry facilities you can walk to is important, make sure you are put in Fort Jax. 



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UPCOMING WORKAMPING ASSIGNMENTS:




WORKAMPING ASSIGNMENTS I AM APPLYING FOR AND HOPING TO GET:




Previous assignments I have completed:


* Worked during winter of 2015-2016 at Columbia Sun RV Resort in Kennewick, WA.  Although there is mass transit service in this area, the transit did not come out to the area where the resort was located.  The closest grocery store was 5 miles away, but on a very busy highway.  Therefore, I do not recommend riding a small scooter or bicycle.  Not to mention, it was winter and often got cold and surprisingly had a lot of rain.  Rain is rare for this area.  

For this assignment (November 2015 - March 2016), I rented a car the entire time from Enterprise Car Rental in Kennewick, WA. The great thing was that I got a 12% discount (instead of the usual 10%) for having a membership in well known warehouse.  Even though I kept the same car, it seems their prices kept changing due to time of year and whatever specials were being run.  The most I paid for a four week rental was $740 with taxes and discount (for November 2015) and the least I paid was $518 with taxes and discount (for January 2016).  The remaining months, I paid around $699 with taxes and discount.  

Other than needing a car for this assignment, it was a great workamping job.  The owners were wonderful and treated workampers great!  I worked housekeeping (cleaning toilets).  Although it's not the most glamorous job, the park is relatively new so it wasn't bad.  I had great hours and worked M-F with weekends off.  

* Worked during summer of 2014 and 2015 at Adventureland Amusement Park  near Des Moines, IA. This was a paid job where I worked in Retail. I also had occasional assignments in RIDES because they were short handed.  At this employment area, there is a really nice RV park within walking distance of the employment area.  The general public stays in the RV Park, too, but if you are a workamper, they charge a very small amount for the entire summer.  (NOTE:  FOR SUMMER OF 2016, RV CAMPING WILL BE FREE IF YOU ARE AN EMPLOYEE OF ADVENTURELAND!) You have to stay the entire season to get the great deal.  The RV park has plenty of laundry machines spread around the park.  I was always able to do laundry when I needed. 

There is a Wal-Mart a scant mile from the RV park.  You can walk to it, if you are in good health and don't buy too many groceries.  Or, I was able to ride my scooter to Wal-Mart.  There is also a Hy Vee grocery store about three miles away.  Occasionally, a nice workamper neighbor would invite me along when they went grocery shopping.  There is also a dentist, a "walk in" medical clinic, and even a very good veterinary for pets a scant mile away.  I was able to ride my scooter to the medical clinic when I had a couple of minor medical issues.  I even rode my cat to the vet on my scooter, but he wasn't thrilled about it....

If you get tired of cooking, there are a few restaurants (such as Perkins Restaurant and Bakery ) within walking distance.  Plus, there are a few fast food restaurants around the Wal-Mart.  Short ride on my scooter. 

I was able to easily rent a car when I needed from Enterprise, or I was able to call a taxi.  

If you don't tow a car, a workamping assignment here at Adventureland can easily work for you.




*Gingko/Wanapum State Park near Vantage, WA (May 2009, March 2010, May 2010, March 2011, March 2012, and March 2015).

This is a beautiful but small (50 spaces) park in the middle of Washington State along Interstate 90.  May 2009 was the first time I had camp hosted EVER. The nearest town, Vantage, didn't have a grocery store, just a "convenience" store. Nearest grocery store was 30 miles away. I stocked up on food before I got here, and had WAY TOO MUCH. Also, this State Park didn't have laundry facilities, so twice I had to unhook the RV and drive 3 miles to Vantage to do laundry. Little bit of a pain, but not bad.

This park gets a lot of business from people
who attend concerts at the Gorge. If there is a concert, the park is usually booked full. The weekend of May 15, 2009 featured the Grateful Dead (along with Doobie Brothers and Allman Brothers) at the Gorge. Park was full, but wasn't bad for duties. I survived the "Deadheads." On the other hand, Memorial Day weekend was also packed, to include people attending "Sasquatch Festival," and I was very busy!

Duties were:

- Sell firewood
- Fill ice bags and sell ice
- Campground surveillance (extra vehicles, any problems or issues) of campground, boat ramp, and day use area

- Trash Pickup

The crew here was wonderful, a bunch of really fun people!

My only complaint was that I couldn't get FOX (or other channels) on my TV Antenna! This was desperate! I had to watch Jack Bauer save the world on the last three hours of "24!"
(Note to self: Next time I camp host, bring CD's and DVD's in case I can't get TV stations.) Ended up downloading the last three episodes of "24" from the FOX website. Each episode took 400 mg on my air card. Not bad. Didn't exceed my 5 GB limit. UPDATE:  During my March 2012 hosting stint, I discovered you cannot get any TV channels over the air.  The Ranger said a lot of tranlator transmitter towers were removed.  It was the same in March 2015, when I hosted again.  No TV reception over the air. 

Also, if you host at this park, it does get windy.  During the time I was there for May 2009, I endured 9 windstorms of from 20 mph to 40 mph. Some lasted 12 hours, starting at 7:00 in the evening and going to 7:00 AM the next day. But, the crew was so wonderful, I ended up camphosting again for subsequent sessions in subsequent years.



When I hosted in MARCH 2010, I had a bit of a "challenge." For the first couple of weeks in March, the park was in "winter" mode. This means they were open weekends only, and NO WATER HOOKUPS! There is a "winter water fill" near the park entrance. With a little planning and conserving, I was able to go five nights on one 45 gallon freshwater tank.  I had to unhook and drive to the winter water faucet (about 50 yards) for water. 

On the other hand, having to unhook, and drive once in awhile is probably a good thing.  I'm parked on a gravel pad.  Even after you get your RV "level," the RV still  tends to "sink" a bit in the dirt/gravel.  Having to drive for the water every few days gives me a chance to "re-level" the RV. 


On March 17, 2010, the rangers put the water faucets back on.  YAY! Rest of the month was pretty uneventful, not much wind that I can remember (although it can get windy here!).

When I hosted again in MAY 2010, I endured four days in a row of extreme wind (common for this area).  This time the wind was so bad it knocked down two tall Russian Olive trees in one of the campsites.  The trees fell over, knocked right out of the ground, roots and all!  Fortunately, it was a weekday (not too many visitors) and no one was in the campsite.  After the Ranger chopped it up, I helped haul it to the chipper shredder pile.

Also, during this time, I decided to see if I could drive my  laundry to town on my E-Bike.  On May 6, it was a beautiful day (no wind!), and partly cloudy, about 65 degrees. I straddled my laundry bag between my legs and rode to Vantage (3 miles).  It  was cumbersome, but I did it!  Sure beats the pain of unhooking the RV, putting things away so I can drive, etc.


During the hosting I did in March 2015, I was able to rent a car from Enterprise in Ellensburg, WA.  This way, I could do laundry in Ellensburg, which had much better laundry facilities than Vantage.  Also, I was able to shop at Fred Meyer in Ellensburg, or Wal-Mart in Ephrata.  See post on "Rental Cars."  

 


* A two month VOLUNTEER assignment in Kentucky workamping (for free camping only) with US Fish and Wildlife at a Fish Hatchery in Jamestown, KY.

I left my home on
June 20, 2009, arrived on July 7, 2009. Stayed until September 8, 2009. This picture on the left is my RV spot at the Wolf Creek Fish Hatchery. NICE! The        picture on the right is how close the deer come to the campspots, both in the morning, and the evening. There are five RV's here volunteering, I got the "end" spot (which is the PRIMO spot!). The RV spots have good spacing between them, so I can blast my favorite CD's (any JOSH GROBAN fans?) and don't have to worry about annoying the others. I am ten miles from Jamestown, a bit far for my little e-bike. However, I can unhook and go somewhere on my days off.



* A 30 Day Hosting during July 2010 and July 2011 at Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park near Coulee City, WA .

This is a larger park with two camping areas, the  main camp area with 100+ tent and RV sites, and the smaller Bretz campground with 30 RV utility sites and one group camp area that holds up to 100 people.  The good news is....  I get free laundry here!  YAY! I  don't have to unhook and go somewhere.

As for  my Verizon Air Card:
- In 2010, I had a 3G Verizon Air Card, and it didn't work at all.  My cell phone barely got a signal.  But, the park had a "courtesy DSL connection"  for hosts with laptops.  Bit of a pain to drag my laptop down to the office every day but it worked for me.

- In 2011, I had a Verizon 4G Air Card, and it worked VERY SLUGGISH.  If it got windy, I got no signal at all.  My cell phone faded in and out. My newest wireless device, "Home Phone Connect" from Verizon, was pretty dependable, even if the signal was weak.

There is a nearby resort (part of the state park, but operated on a concession permit) within  walking distance that has a store with most of the food basics (overpriced, but still....).  If you don't tow a car, you can easily get by hosting here and not have to worry about going anywhere for laundry or food.  Plus, there are peddle boats and canoes to rent.  The park has swimming, boating, golfing, and mini golf.  Plenty do do!  Don't have to go anywhere as long as you have enough food.

There are four hosts here:

Main Campground Host - gets free phone and free hookup, and is in a shady spot, but jammed in close to other RV spots. Can easily do this without a tow car.

Day Use Host - gets free hookup over near Ranger Residences.  Can easily do this without a tow car.  The worst thing about this volunteer opportunity is perhaps shoveling "goose poo."

Bretz Campground host - gets free hookup, has a spot away from the campground, but has no shade.  Can easily do this without a tow car.

Camp Delaney (Environmental  Learning Center for groups)  - gets free hookup, but is way out about 2 miles from the park.  This is a neat hosting assignment, but I would not do it without a tow car, too isolated. 

Also, volunteers at the interpretive center get free sites.  I'm glad I didn't volunteer for the interpretive center.  It's 3 miles from the campground.  I could get there on my bike, but if I HAD to ride the bike every day to get there and I got a flat tire, I would be hosed and have no way to get there but to walk.  Being a campground host at this park, having my bike is a plus, but not a necessity.

This campground is very busy in the summer.  I would recommend anyone who wants to host here have previous hosting experience SOMEWHERE.  If it's your first time camp hosting, you might want to come in early Spring or Late Fall, or ask for Bretz or Day Use.  Bretz or Day Use might be better for "first timers."  If you host here in the busy summer without having done this before, it could be a little overwhelming.  The picture below is the Bretz campground.


* A Five Week Hosting Assignment at Alta Lake State Park near Brewster, WA.

I was here from August 12 - September 17. This is a beautiful park in the Cascade Mountains.  There are three camping loops, one loop is close to Alta Lake.  If you get a tent spot on the lake, you are allowed to anchor your boat at your tent spot (after launching at the boat launch).

There are 120 sites or so, consisting of both tent and RV.  Basically, at this park, I just pick up litter, clean fire pits, and answer questions. There are two camp hosts here, but they only use two during the busiest part of the summer.  I met the other host couple, they were getting ready to leave, as I was arriving.  One of the camp host spots is in a woodsy area, very spacious, lots of shade, gets a decent signal on the Verizon air card, but the down sides are that it's next to the restroom building and the spot is somewhat cumbersome to get into.  The previous camp host couple was in a Travel Trailer in this spot and even they had difficulty.  The other camp host spot is in the lake loop, easy to back into, good view of lake and Day Use area, but the down sides are no shade and can't get a Verizon signal.  Take your pick!  I spent the first week at the Lake host site, until the electrical box fried.  Fortunately, no damage so far to my RV.  I moved to the other camp host spot.  Toward the end of my stay, I moved back to the first spot because the Rangers wanted to close the other loops down.  The electrical box still wasn't fixed, so I parked midway between the camp host spot and the next one over, and plugged into the next one over.

No laundry facilities here, the closest town(s) are Twisp, 30 miles one direction, and Chelan, 30 miles the other direction.  I was told the better laundry facilities are in Twisp.  This is my experience doing laundry while I was here:

- Weeks 1, 3, and 4:  I went to Twisp.  The laundry facilities are near a gas station and a nice grocery store.  Very nice laundromat, but somewhat pricey at $2.50 per wash, despite having the large front loaders.  The dyers gave you 8 minutes for each quarter.  I had to park next door at the grocery store ( Hank's Harvest Foods ) which had plenty of room for a few RV's.  If you do laundry here in Twisp, be sure to buy some stuff from Hank's Harvest Foods if you use their parking lot.

- Week 2: I drove to Chelan, 19 miles away.  If you are NOT towing a car, I do not recommend this option.  The laundromat was ok, $2 to wash, large capacity top loader washers.   However, there was no good place to park the RV. I finally parked next door in front of a small "nutrition" business.  I don't think they appreciated it.  I scraped my rear tire against the curb (not a good thing for tires!) trying to park close enough so traffic could get by. I had to pull in  my driver door mirror.  While I was parked, some "person"  (comments withheld) had the nerve to drive their car on the sidewalk (ok, it was a "dirt walk") next to my RV! 

I did not take my e-bike on this trip, left it at home.  

This picture below was taken from my RV while I was in the lake loop host site, and is of a few of the tent sites.


* A One Month Assignment in Idaho: During October 2010, I completed a one month assignment at Farragut State Park in Idaho.  Farragut State Park in Athol, ID is a beautiful park, very woodsy.  There are four campgrounds (Waldron, Gilmore, Snowberry, and Whitetail) with two to three hosts per campground.

I hosted during October, so only one campground was open (Waldron).  Since it wasn't busy that month, I was the only camp host.  Normally, each campground area has 2-3 hosts who trade off.  The good news is, the park has laundry facilities for the hosts.  The bad news is.... it's not within walking distance.  Also, my Verizon air card didn't work here even though my Verizon cell phone did work (barely....).  So, the challenges here were laundry and Wi-Fi.

There is a Wi-Fi that can be accessed up near the park facilities shop area, but it was a Wi-Fi service that you have to pay for.  It apparently works in any Idaho State Park that has the service.  One price gets you access for a year.  At the time, the Wi-Fi was offering a price of $21 for the rest of the calendar year.  I thought about it, but decided not to.   

For Wi-Fi, the rangers suggested driving to Bayview, ID (four miles from the park) to a place called Ralphs.  Ralphs is a coffee shop, with a laundromat, and free Wi-Fi.  I tried this the first week I was there, and found no adequate place to park the RV.  I finally drove to Rathdrum, ID and found a laundry place, which was also within range for my Air Card.  I sat outside in my RV and used my computer while my laundry was in progress.  Did I mention that the laundry prices were expensive? $2.50 for a wash! 

For the remainder of my stay at Farragut, I used the laundry facilities at the park.  The park had a very nice washer that could take large loads, and a very good dryer.  Better than paying $2.50 for washing at a local laundromat!  But I still had to drive my RV to a nearby town once a week so I could sit in a parking lot and use my Air Card.  This took a lot of planning.  I had to write down a list of things to do on the computer (download this bill, pay that bill, check email, post on boards).  This required coordinating billing dates and dates bills were available online with the weekly trip. 

This was a bit of a pain, but I wouldn't let that stop anyone from camp hosting at Farragut State Park.  This is a beautiful park, and the Rangers were great to work with.  Since I hosted in October, I was the only camp host.  If you host in the summer, there are other hosts.  October is a very relaxing time to host at this state park, if you don't mind being the only host. 

Also, since it was October, the Rangers shut down the water about mid-month.  The Rangers, bless their hearts, tried really, really hard to find a way to leave my water faucet available.  But it didn't work out.  The Visitors Center had a working faucet on the outside of the building.  On the days I drove to Rathdrum to check email, I stopped at the park's Visitor's Center on the way back and filled my tank.  I appreciate the effort the Rangers made to make my stay comfortable and fun! 




The top picture is my spot.  The bottom picture is where the other two camp hosts would be if there were three camp hosts in this loop.

* A One Month Assignment at OCEAN CITY STATE PARK - Ocean Shores, WA (December 2010, September 2011, June 2012, and June 2013)
I have hosted here four times.  This is a great park on the Washington State coastline and is open year round for camping.  There are four loops, but during winter, only two loops are open. The picture above is the road through one of the loops.  The other two loops were flooded.  During December it rains a lot.  The Ranger told me that about 40% of their business during winter is winter time activities, especially clam digging.  The first weekend I was here, I was surprised at the number of people who came to clam dig!

DECEMBER 2010:  Temperatures are in the 40's/50's.  This is a FUN time to camp host!  It might be BRISK out there in 40 degree temperatures, but this is a way to REALLY be RVing and see to what extremes you can do in your RV!  I was there through Christmas and New Years.

SEPTEMBER 2011:  Temperatures were in the 50's and 60's.  All four  loops were open, and I got to see what the previously "flooded" loops look like when they aren't flooded!  The first three weekends were pretty busy and full with Labor Day, and then special events the next two weekends. The last weekend wasn't as full, and it started to be misty and wet.
 
JUNE 2012:  Temperatures were in the 60's with occasional sunny days in low 70's.  Rained most of the time.  All four  loops were open, and some camp spots had mud problems due to the rain. Stayed there until July 5.  Park was pretty full on July 4th.  Had some nice weather in the 70's over the 4th.

JUNE 2013:  Temperatures in the 60's with occasional sunny days in low 70's.  The Park participated in the local community Flag Day celebration. 

The staff at this park was great and very helpful. 

When I was here in December 2010, I had a 3G Verizon Air Card.  It fluctuated, the signal fades in and out. I have to "catch it when I can."  I wonder if air card signals go in and out with the ocean tide......  When I was here in September 2011 and June 2012, I had the 4G Verizon Air Card, and it was better.  Still some fade in and out, but not as bad!  During June 2013, I had the Verizon JetPack.  Worked GREAT!  No signal fading in and out with the ocean tide. 

I found out that there is a bear that likes to run around this place at night.  I noticed a trash can had been overturned, and I KNOW it wasn't windy the night before!  One of the park staff told me about the bear.  Oh well.  Guess it happens. 

The picture at the right is my camp hosting spot.  It's a very spacious spot and my cat was entertained from looking out the windows!  The host spot is located next to the community dump station, but I wouldn't let that stop you from hosting here.  Besides, you can always talk to the people using the dump station and ask them if they had a nice stay!  The trash can mentioned earlier that was knocked over by a bear, well, it was the one at the community dump station.  That close and I didn't even hear it! 

Duties at this time:
-  Pick up litter along entrance road, beach trails, and campgrounds
-  Lightly sweep the restroom buildings in use
-  Check toilet paper
-  Shovel out firepits after campers leave
-  Check arrival campsites to be sure the campsite is clean and free of debris
-  Answer questions

Also, I'm learning about standards for hazardous materials exposure.  Further, since this park is on the Washington coastline, there are posters about rip tides and Tsunami warnings.  During  my September  2011  hosting, we had a Tsunami drill.  Camping Guests could ignore  it, but I had to "duck and cover" or whatever it was.

At the time, I stored my car here in Ocean Shores, so when I hosted here, I used my EGO bike to go get my car. As of January 2015, I no longer have a car and just depend on Grays Harbor Transit, and rental cars from Aberdeen, WA when I'm in this area.


* Three Assignments at SEAQUEST STATE PARK - Castle Rock, WA

I  served here in January - February 2011 for a six week assignment; then two more times in May 2012 and May 2013.  During the January/February 2011 time, it was winter and part of the park was closed off.  But for wintertime camping, this park features fabulous Yurts. These yurts are quite roomy, have bunk beds, and heat!

Also, this park has a washer and dryer that hosts are allowed to use. 

During the winter session in 2011, I had a 3G Verizon Air card, and it worked just fine.  However, in May 2012, I had the 4G Air Card and had trouble getting a good signal.  But, as long as I didn't need to shop for any food, I didn't have to leave.  During the May 2013 stint, I had the Verizon JetPack.  Didn't work at all.  Verizon let me temporarily switch back to the 4G Air Card, and I barely got a signal as long as I was outside and it wasn't raining.

During the January/February 2011 time, I did not have the EGO bike with me.  The starter shorted out while I was at Ocean City State Park during December 2010.  My fault, it rained the whole month and I didn't put the cover on. My bike was repaired in Port Townsend at Townsend Electric.  Colin of Townsend Electric was highly recommended.  It appears that this business repairs all kinds of electric items, to include the EGO bikes.  It would have been nice to have the bike while here, as the city of Castle Rock is 5 miles away, an easy ride.  On the other hand, I brought the bike during the May 2012, and it was great for riding to Castle Rock for groceries. I also had it during May 2013, but never got to ride it.  I had RV problems twice during this stay, so I pulled out and went to Uhlmann RV in Chehalis, WA (good folks!).  I did my shopping during that time.

Seaquest State Park is across the street from the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center.  Camp Hosts are allowed free admission in order to inform camping guests about this facility.  

Usually, this park has 3 hosts:

-  Yurt Host:  Yurts, Group Camp, and Day Use
-  T1 Host:     The "T" Loop, the North Loop, and restroom check in Mid Loop
-  T5 Host:     Mid Loop, South Loop, Dump Station

The wintertime activities are the hunting crowd during hunting season and anyone who wants to camp in the Yurts for a unique experience.  Summer activities are visiting Mt. St. Helens and hiking.

* A Six Week Assignment at Eleven Mile State Park - Lake George, CO


My hosting stint was May 1 - June 15, 2011.  The elevation here is 8600 feet.  This park features nine fabulous campgrounds, but only two of them are hosted.  The two "hosted" campgrounds are Rocky Ridge (144 sites, some electric only, some dry camping) and North Shore (81 dry camping campsites).  Rocky Ridge has breath taking views of the mountains and the reservoir, gives you good shield from the frequent winds, but is a bit of a ways from the fishing area. North Shore features wonderful campsites right on the reservoir.  You could throw your fishing line out from some of the campsites!  But the bad news on North Shore is is that if the wind comes up, you are SLAMMED.  In my camp hosting spot in the A loop of North Shore, when the wind came up, it was ROCK AND ROLL!  I had to pull my slides in.  Not to mention the crazy weather, it snowed a few times during MAY!  Got down to the teens and my water pump froze.  Memorial Day weekend had great weather, except for the wind! 

The staff here was great to  work with.  The requirement was only 20 hours a week, SWEET!  The Ranger told me that they prefer you do your 20  hours on Fri - Mon, then you get  Tues, Wed, and Thurs to explore Colorado!  Well, I don't tow a car so where am I going to go?

This park has laundry facilities, $1.50 to wash, and $1.00 to dry for 60 minutes.  The wash is cold water only.  Other than that, the nearest laundry facility I found was n Woodland Park, about 35 miles from here.  Woodland Park has a public parking area for RV's, but the laundry places themselves had NO room to park RV's.  

The closest town is Lake George, 11 miles from the park.  Lake George has a post office.  This park would not allow mail to be forwarded to the park, so I used General Delivery at the Lake George post office.  I had to unhitch the RV once a week to get my mail.  Worked out pretty good, gave me a good excuse to reposition and re-level the RV.  Lake George does have a very good family owned pizza restaurant.  But nothing else.  

For groceries, there is a grocery story in Divide, CO (about 20 miles from the park) called Divide Venture Foods.  They sell the BEST salsa I've ever had, made by Cripple Creek Salsa Company.  If there aren't too many cars in the parking lot, you can fit a 32 foot RV in the parking lot, but not much bigger.  If there are a lot of cars in the parking lot, well, don't try it.  Farther away in Woodland Park (35 miles from Eleven Mile State Park), there is a very nice CityMarket, which is part of the Fred Meyer/Kroger chain.  Your Fred Meyer/Kroger cards work there, and you can get gas discounts. Plenty of room to park the RV.  I had to travel to Woodland Park for some personal business on one of my weekly trips out.

My Verizon Air Card (4G) worked a bit sluggish. My Verizon cell phone, and my newest wireless device, "Home Phone Connect" from Verizon, worked fairly well!   

* A one month Assignment at DAROGA STATE PARK - Orondo, WA


Daroga State Park in Orondo, WA is a BEAUTIFUL state park!  I hosted here in August 2011.  The RV sites and tent sites have plenty of acreage between sites.  It is difficult to get a hosting job here, because the hosts tend to come back year after year.  I managed to get a slot because another host cancelled.  I had put my name on the list a year earlier.  

At this park, all you have to do is sell wood and ice, twice a day.  The Ranger insists that will keep you busy enough, and the Ranger was right.  It did keep me busy, and I did learn a lot about "inventory management," but still had plenty of time to enjoy this beautiful park.  I got a State vehicle to drive around in.  The vehicle had STANDARD transmission.  The last time I drove a stick shift was 1984!  I almost forgot how!  

No laundry facilities at this park.  The closest is to go to Wenatchee, about 20 miles away. Wenatchee is a small city with major box stores where you can get groceries.  However, when I tried to go there for laundry, I found the following issues with the four facilities I found:

-  2 of the facilities did not have room to park the RV
- 1 facility had room for the RV, but I didn't feel safe in that area
- 1 facility was across the street from a Park & Ride I could 
              have parked at, but getting into that Park & Ride in 
              the RV was cumbersome

So, I ended up driving to Chelan, WA.  I had used this place before when I hosted at Alta Lake State Park in 2010.  Chelan is a small tourist kind town, but does have a major grocery store for shopping. 

My Verizon Air Card (4G) worked great here!  WHEE!!!!!! A good signal!  My Verizon cell phone, and my newest wireless device, "Home Phone Connect" from Verizon, worked fairly well!  On the other hand, TV reception via antenna was lousy.  All I got was a very snowy FOX channel out of Spokane.     

* A one month Assignment at   Stephen C. Foster State Park - Fargo, GA


STEPHEN C. FOSTER STATE PARK  in FARGO, GA.  I hosted here in November 2011.  Temperatures were in the 70's and 80's.  YAY!  This park is far away from everything.  My Verizon cell phone BARELY got a signal, but my Verizon HOME PHONE CONNECT worked fine!  I barely had a signal on it, but it worked fine!  On the other hand, my Verizon Air Card didn't work at all.  


 


As for laundry, there are laundry machines here, CHEAP!  $1 to wash, $1 to dry.  The park has a way to reimburse you for your laundry costs, so your laundry is essentially free. 
If you host here, you get some GREAT perks!  You can go on the swamp tours or rent a boat FREE, space available.  Ok, on the down side, you have to clean bathrooms.  '


There are two host positions, but at the time I was there, I was the only host.  I had to take care of 68 sites in two loops.  It wasn't too bad.



* A 4 week Assignment at Cross Ranch State Park near Center/Hensler, ND

I hosted here for Session 3 (mid July - mid August) for both 2012 and 2013.  I like the fact that North Dakota does 4 week "sessions" as opposed to "calendar months."  These "sessions" can nicely dovetail into a schedule both after coming off and before going back to a "calendar month" hosting job. 

The park features primitive sites within a wildlife management refuge.  There are also RV electric sites at the Sanger Campground.  This park is along the Missouri River.  Here is my camp host site:


This park has some great cabins to stay in, complete with cooking facilities, refrigerators, bedrooms, and family rooms.  No bathrooms, have to use the vault toilet outside.  In addition, there are some fabulous Yurts with propane stoves in them for wintertime use.  This park has lots of activities.  The park Interpretive Specialist had some very interesting programs for children.  We learned to make ice cream without needing an ice cream machine.  We even learned how to add berries to the ice cream.  We had a good program on geocaching.  Also, the park hosts some great concerts of bluegrass music.  One weekend was the "BlueGrass Goes Pink" concert featuring the band Special Consensus from Chicago, as well as a local bluegrass band called Cottonwood. 

This park did not have laundry facilities, so once a week I had to unhook the RV and drive to Washburn to do laundry.  But..... since North Dakota gives you that wonderful benefit of a 10 night free camping pass, I used those days to drive to another park and spend one night.  You are encouraged to do that!  

If you haven't hosted in North Dakota before, I highly recommend applying to host in North Dakota.  They have some great parks! 

 * A 4 week Assignment at Icelandic State Park  near Cavalier, ND.                       


I have had a wonderful time here hosting during Session 4 (mid August to mid September) both in 2012 and 2013.
 My Camp Host spot was great and very shady, even with the 95 degree temps we had in late August 2013.  Get a load of that "easter egg" cart I drove around.  It's a GEM CAR .  Those are the coolest things to drive.  Electric! 
This is from the entrance to West Loop.  There is also a North Loop, South Loop, and a great primitive area for Tents!  Also a lake with a beach. 






This park features 160 camping sites that include three cute little cabins, three modern camping loops that have all pull-through sites with water and electricity, three "hike in" tent sites down by the lake, and one primitive camping loop with a vault toilet.

This was also a very busy park.  The wonderful Canadians to the north like to come to this park.

One of the things that kind of surprised me was the "North Dakota thing" of shared water faucets.  I saw this at other North Dakota State Parks I stayed in.  One water faucet is placed between every two camping spots, and you share the water faucet with your neighbor.  You need about 50 and sometimes 75 feet of hose to connect to the water faucet, depending on the configuration of your RV and the location of the water faucet. 

The park has two trailers for seasonal staff:  A women's trailer and a men's trailer. Both had washers and dryers.  I was allowed a key to the women's trailer, and I was allowed to do laundry there. 

After the Labor Day Weekend rush, I was trained on how to collect money for camping permits.  I got to do that for the period of time I was here after Labor Day.

Among the "services" offered at this park are:

- compressor for filling up air mattresses, etc.
- free use of a "blue boy" in case your tanks got full while you were camping.

With this park being 6 miles from the city of Cavalier, I was hoping to use my E-bike to ride to Cavalier.  Discovered that I could not, because North Dakota requires all scooters, to include electric scooters, to be licensed. Another thing:  There was some road construction to the park entryway that necessitated a 3 mile detour over a rough gravel road both in 2012 and 2013.  No way could I ride my scooter over that!

In 2012, I had so much fun I didn't leave when I was supposed to!  I stayed an extra two weeks!  Ok, the real truth, the day after Labor Day, I stepped out of my RV and stepped wrong and fell, tearing some ligaments in my left ankle.  Fortunately a friend was visiting at the time.  The friend took me to the doctor, where I was given one of those "velcro moon boots" to wear.  Actually, the rangers graciously let me stay an extra two weeks so my ankle could heal up before I drove home.  I finally left on September 25 of 2012, but ankle wasn't all the way healed.  I left just before the snow came to North Dakota.  But I still had a wonderful time!

In 2013, I had a great time!


* Gold Beach/Brookings, OR (October 2013 - March 2014).

If you workamp or stay in Gold Beach or Brookings, OR, you can get by without a tow car, but it does require a lot of planning.  Between Curry Public Transit, Dial A Ride, and rental cars, you can make it work.  I worked at Turtle Rock Resort which is a couple miles south of Gold Beach. These are the  parks in Gold Beach, OR and these are the  parks in Brookings, OR.   

The Coastal Express schedule runs Monday through Friday with very limited service.  The Dial A Ride runs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (but not Thursday) in Gold Beach between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM, and Monday - Friday in Brookings from 8:30 AM -  4:00 PM. 

Rental cars are available both in Brookings and Gold Beach.  In Brookings, it's Carpenter Auto Rental, which is near the Rays Supermarket where Curry Public transit drops you off; and Little Bay Motor Company further down Highway 101.  As of this writing, prices are approximately $40 a day with a limit of 50 miles or $60 a day with unlimited mileage (based on rental from Carpenter Auto, I didn't get a chance to try Little Bay).  The cars are not new, they are basically "rent a wrecks" but the cars are in good condition.  In Gold Beach, rental cars are available at Port of Gold Beach.  As of this writing, prices are $25 a day PLUS 25 cents a mile.  There is no "unlimited" mileage option.   If you just want to drive around Gold Beach, the Port rentals work fine, but I wouldn't use this option for driving to, say, Coos Bay.  If you wanted to drive a distance, it would be better to take Curry Public Transit down to Brookings to get a car with unlimited mileage.  

If you are workamping, try to get a schedule where you are working weekends, and your days off are on weekdays.  This way you have the public transit available to you.  While working at Turtle Rock, I worked Thursday - Saturday, which left me Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to use the public transit and rental cars when I needed.  I also used my EGO Scooter Bike when possible. 

PRODUCT REVIEWS

In this section, I will provide reviews of products that I have tried, either officially or on my own.  Items colored this way are "thumbs up."  Items colored this way are "thumbs down."  In addition, I am "yelping" on services.    NOTE:  See update below on  mattress toppers.


MY YELP REVIEWS

My "yelp" reviews are here:  YELP REVIEWS

 MY PRODUCT REVIEWS

AMAZON FIRE TV BOX

Loving it!  It even works with the Jensen 12 volt TV's I currently have in my RV!  The sales rep at Best Buy indicated and strongly felt I could get by with the cheaper Fire STICK.  The sales rep said there wasn't much extra on the Box that you don't get on the Stick.  The reason I bought the BOX is because.... the way the TV's are mounted in my RV in recessed areas leaves very little room to insert a stick and I wouldn't be able to put the TV back on the wall. (I have since heard that you can buy connecting cables for connecting sticks in this situation...)  My front TV in the Entertainment Center has the stabilizing cross bars located in places that cover up the HDMI port.  No way am I removing those cross bars. So, I bought the Fire Box.  Fire Stick at Best Buy was $49, the Fire Box was $99.

It was easy to install!  The directions are very clear!  The issue I have with instruction manuals is that the writers don't want to make the instructions too complex or it scares people away.  So they leave out stuff and make it short, hoping you will "read between the lines."  And sometimes you just don't know enough TO "read between the lines."  I followed the instruction manual and IT WORKED!

You have to purchase an HDMI cable.  The Best Buy sales rep said it doesn't have to be an expensive one.  Just have to get one, as it isn't included in the package. 

The Fire TV box worked very well with the MiFi from my phone provider.  I haven't tried it with the RV park WiFi where I'm staying.  I'm hesitant to, as I know it's kind of impolite to hog the bandwidth on the limited RV Park WiFi.  But I may try it when I know everyone else is asleep late at night.....

There is only one little BUT that I have to mention..... It will use up your gigs if you have limited WiFi.  I went to a Verizon store and changed my plan to 10 gigs.  When I came back to my RV, I had only used up 1.9 of the gigs so far this month.  I watched two episodes of SUITS (love this show!) and next thing you know I had used up 8 gigs.  I watched one more episode of SUITS and shot the 10 gig limit and I still have half a month to go!

This will allow you to have TV in remote areas (as long as you have cell service with your provider).

But, another caveat.  The "Cut the cord" with cable and satellite movement that is being pushed at us.... well..... if you don't have unlimited WiFi, cable or satellite will probably be cheaper! 


EGGTASTIC

I bought this item EGGTASTIC  at Smith's in Bozeman, Mt.  The good thing is that it's porcelain ceramic, so there aren't the issues with using plastic.  The directions indicated to "mix your eggs" (and you could add some vegetables if you wanted) in the ceramic bowl.  Most scrambled egg recipes  use a little bit of milk.  The directions did not specify whether or not to add milk, it was "silent."  I used milk as usual, and it came out just very slightly goopy.  I also had to add more time on the microwave (1100 watts).  Perhaps if you do not add the milk it may work.  I will give this another try without the milk.  For now, I am giving it a "neutral."

UPDATE:  I tried it without milk.  I put two eggs and some grape tomatoes, cilantro, green onions and cooked bacon.  It was a little better, but I still had to do two more cookings of 20 seconds each to completely cook the eggs.  I followed the directions for 1100 watt microwave.  Taste-wise........ it was.... meh..........  Therefore, I'm giving it a thumbs down.  


PRIME ROTATING SURGE TAP

I bought this item ROTATING SURGE TAP at Smith's in Bozeman, Mt.  I really like it! This is much better than using a strip on the floor.  However, I still have to remove it if I'm going to pull in my slide.  The plug in where I am using it is on a wall where a slide comes in, where my computer desk is.  The neat thing is that you can rotate the plug ins to accommodate the plugs.  On a strip, if you have a large transformer plug in, it will cover two plugs even though only plugged into one.  This one, you can plug a large one in front and turn the next one sideways so you can plug a smaller plug in that one.  Good space saving surge protector for an RV.
 

SLIME PORTABLE AIR COMPRESSORS

These items are MUST HAVES!   Slime Portable Air Compressors for Tires
Although the various models indicate they can inflate a "standard" car tire (30-35 PSI) in 4 to 8 minutes depending on the model, do NOT use them for inflating an RV tire from ZERO.  You need a high powered compressor for that, as these Slime models cannot be run for more than 10 minutes and they need a 25 minute rest in between.  But they are good for adding air to RV tires.
I have three models:
Tire Inflator with Raft Pump and Light.  This model will inflate tires and rafts.  It will go up to 150 PSI.  It has a dial where you can pre-set the PSI and it will automatically stop at the preset PSI.  This model operates off a 12 volt connector.  Now, if you plug it into a Power Pak suck as the Costco model or maybe a Black & Decker, make sure the 12 volt connection can handle up to 10 amps.  The Costco Power Pak (which they no longer make) that I used to have could handle this.  The Black & Decker Power Pak that I currently have can only handle 5 amp loads.  The one negative is that this model still uses the "tire chuck" which sometimes I found difficult to work with on RV tires.  ALso, this model does not come with any "extension cords" so if you drive a motorhome and plug it into your cigarette lighter, you will only be able to reach the front tires.  You cannot reach the rear tires with this.  Thus, I would plug it into a portable Power Pak such as the Costco model I used to have.

120 Volt Garage Inflator. I love this model!  You can plug it into 120 volt outlet, such as one at an RV pole.  It also comes with an extended air hose.  By plugging this into the 120 volt outlet at an RV pole, I was able to inflate the front and dual rear tires on the driver's side of the motorhome.  By adding a heavy duty extension cord, I was able to reach the front and rear dual tires on the passenger side of the motorhome.  This will inflate up to 120 PSI, but again, do not run it for more than 10 minutes at a time, with a 25 minute "rest." There is no "pre-set" but the guage is easy to read while you are pumping air.  This model comes with the "screw on" hose instead of the tire chuck. I found the screw on hose easier to use than a tire chuck.

2X Tire Inflator.  This model comes with jumper cables to connect to an engine battery if you do not have access to 120 volt electrical outlet or with a sufficient 12 volt power supply.  It also has an extended air hose.  I haven't tried this one yet, bought it for "just in case." 


MR. HEATER BIG BUDDY PROPANE HEATER

I am in an area that doesn't get cold often.  If it does, it's rare and even more rare for two separate cold spells.  When the second cold spell (High in the 20's, low in the teens) started, my two space heaters couldn't get it past 40 degrees in the RV.  I wasn't sure how long my propane tank would last running my furnace.  Decided to supplement with the Mr. Heater Big Buddy Propane Heater .  I purchased the MH18B, which takes TWO propane cylinders.  Oh, the Coleman Propane Cylinders WILL work in this heater.

I have a 32 foot RV.  It put out enough heat for the front and made it quite toasty (on HIGH).  But the heat didn't quite get to the back of the RV.  I placed the heater in front underneath my Fantastic Fan vent, and had the vent open for ventilation.

As reviews have said, on HIGH, you get 2.5 to 3 hours of heat.  When it was 20 degrees outside, HIGH is what you need.  Some of the reviews I have read have specified that running it on Medium is pointless, run it either LOW or HIGH  However, when you first turn it on, you have to put it on Low or Medium. You can't turn it to HIGH until one of the panels turns orange.  Didnt take long to do that.

 If you are running it on low or medium, you can get by with ONE propane cylinder. 

When the propane ran out, I noticed the cylinders had frost on them. It's basically condensation but it looked really cold.  I recommend using chemical gloves (or some type of protective gloves) to remove the cylinders when they have frost on them. I fear you could get frostbite.

Also, when you put the cylinders in the heater, it's important to squirt soapy water on them to check for leaks.

I read some reviews where the reviewer said, "We NEVER run our furnace as this keeps us warm."  Ok, one caution here.  If temperatures get below 30 degrees (FREEZING) then YOU NEED TO RUN YOUR FURNACE!  I was trying to stretch my propane in my RV tank out, didn't want to pack up to get more.  So I used the Mr. Buddy, then when it was warm enough, turned off and used space heaters.  Well, next morning, I had frozen water lines because my city water connection froze (even though I had a heated hose and had wrapped the connection, obviously not good enough...) and my water pump was frozen, couldn't use water in the tank.  Running your furnace at night keeps these areas warm enough IF your RV is "all weather."

One minor thing I noticed.  Apparently, not all Coleman 1 lb propane cylinders are the same.  Some of them are 16 oz (1 lb) exactly, and some are 1.02 lb (16.4 oz).  I found that if you try to "ignite" with the 1 lb (16 oz) one, it will not ignite or "flame." Make sure that when you try to ignite it, you are using the 1.02 lb (16.4 oz) propane cylinders.  Discussion on Facebook kind of concluded that the 1 lb (16 oz) cylinders don't "seat" properly.  I have no idea, just something I noticed.  



ZERO WATER PITCHER AND FILTER


I bought an interesting water filter at Fred Meyer (part if the Kroger chain). It's called "Zero Water."

Here's the Web Site: https://www.zerowater.com/

It's not like the Brita and Pur. It's supposed to filter out 99% of solids, plus the filter is "ion exchange" process. Ion Exchange is not the same as reverse osmosis but it's supposed to remove nitrates similar to reverse osmosis. Plus, you get a free "tester" with the pitcher and with the filters. The pitcher cost me $30 (ok, $29.99) and a pak of 2 filters was $15 (ok, $14.99).

Here's some info I found on "ion exchange":

http://www.watertechonline.com/removing ... -exchange/

I'm working at a park that is having a nitrate issue with their water, so I'm trying this out.  The water tastes really good.  I have read some reviews that complain about a "fish" smell after awhile in the filter.  I am not getting that "fish" smell, but I have found that it's better to remove the filter and dry it out after you strain the water.

I have no way to ascertain whether it does remove the nitrates.  The "tester" I got is a "pass/fail" one (Light ON=FAIL Light OFF=PASS).  I have read that some of the Pitcher kits come with a digital tester.  But this still does not tell me if it removes Nitrates.  But I like it better then BRITTA.   

ADJUSTABLE WATER PRESSURE REGULATOR

Here is an example of this product from Camping World.  I bought mine at an RV Park.  My only complaint is that there are NO directions other than, "do not use past 60 PSI."  I installed it on the water faucet.  The package said "preset to 45 PSI."  Well, the guage shot up to 60 PSI.  So, I turned the "adjuster" using a flat head screw driver like it said.  I screwed it all the way in, only to have it still say "60 PSI."  So, another neighbor in the RV park informed me that when you install this, you need to have an "open" faucet.  So I turned a faucet on, only to have the water pressure go down to 20 PSI (because I had screwed it all the way in).  So, with the water running inside, I adjusted it up to 55 PSI, just under the 60 recommended limit.  The water regulator I was using previously automatically took pressure down to 45 PSI and I got tired of waiting 20 minutes for my bathtub to fill up with 5 inches of water.  This guage is MUCH better!  I love it! 


RAPID OATMEAL COOKER

Bought a rapid oatmeal cooker   for $3.99 at Fred Meyer. I am giving it THUMBS DOWN.  It is supposed to work with either instant or "old fashioned" oatmeal.  There are two lines in the bowl, one for the oatmeal and one for the water.  I didn't think it was enough water.  Directions say to cook on high for 2-3 minutes.  Tried that, didn't like it it.  Tried doing half power for 10 minutes, still didn't cook right.  The best way to cook oatmeal in a microwave is to use the specific amounts shown on the box (1/2 cup oatmeal to 1 cup water) and cook at 50% power for 10 minutes.  Or cook on stove.


 WINEGARD INDOOR APMPLIFIED HDTV FLATWAVE ANTENNA

Here is an example of this product from Amazon.com.  However, I purchased mine for $39.99 from Costo in Omaha, NE and used it during the summer of 2015 in Des Moines, IA.  My RV already has the "Jack" antenna, which is supposed to be great a pulling in channels.  During my summer in Des Moines, IA, using my "Jack" antenna, I had problems getting ION (channel 39-1) and "The CW" (either 23-1 or 23-2).  Those channels would fade in an out no matter where I rotated the "Jack."  I attached the Flatwave to my bedroom TV (which is a Jensen 12 volt which works great!), and I got both the ION channel and "The CW" channels much better, no fading in and out. However, I with the Flatwave, I was unable to get the ABC (5-1) channel.  I rarely watch ABC so it wasn't an issue for me.  So, bottom line is.... you might get some channels better, but you might not get other channels.  The only hassle is that if I need to connect to cable at an RV park, or if I want to watch a DVD on the bedroom TV, then I have to disconnect the antenna and reconnect to my RV system.  Fortunately, this only takes a couple minutes. 

Although I purchased mine at Costco, I notice at Costco Online, they don't seem to sell the amplified version, only the NON-Amplified version.  I'm not sure how much different the non-amplified version might be.   Here are the reviews on Costco for the non-amplified version.  The reviews also indicate that the amplified version is not available at Costco.  I recommend getting the amplified version if you can. 

When I got back home from Iowa, I tried it at my home place.  Still got the same channels I always did, didn't get more, didn't get less.  However, my home area actually doesn't get over the air reception, I just happen to be in a "sweet spot" that happens to get something.


UGO BLUETOOTH MINI SPEAKER

I purchased this mini bluetooth speaker from a vendor at the Iowa State Fair.  At the time, it was $100 but they threw in as a freebie an additional mini speaker which did not have the Bluetooth feature.  (The mini bluetooth speakers are selling on Amazon.com for about $90 as of this writing....) I haven't tried the additional mini speaker yet, just the bluetooth version.   However, I haven't used the Bluetooth feature yet.  At the fair, they told me you could play songs on SD cards.  What they SHOULD have said was MICRO SD CARD.  I bought a "Regular" SD card, only to find I needed the MICRO.  Their owner's manual is not very detailed, you have to do some reading between the lines.  Also, I had difficulty getting the MICRO SD card in the little slot.  Once I figured it out, it was fine.  However, it seems to help if you turn the speaker on BEFORE putting the card in the slot. If you put the card in first, then turn it on, it gets confused.

There are four "modes.  1. Bluetooth  2. Micro SD Card  3.  Radio  4.  "Line in."

I have not tried the Bluetooth mode yet.  Once I figured out how to put the Micro SD card in, I got great sound!  I was able to turn it up loud in my RV and the sound did not go outside the RV where it would bother the neighbors.  Even with the window open.  But the sound was GREAT!  I haven't tried the "radio" mode yet.  My understanding is that you have to "capture" some local radio station somehow and then it plays.  And I haven't tried the "line in" yet, I'm guessing this is for hooking up to a stereo or something.....


If you are using the Micro SD card mode, your files MUST be MP3.  As of this writing, the UGO cannot play MP4 files.  Regardless of how your music files are, you can convert them for for free at this website.  There are other websites that will do this, I found this one useful.  Occasionally a file that was "converted" would skip and not play correctly.  When I found this, I just went back to the website and reconverted the file and replaced it.

The battery lasts about four hours.  The recharger must be connected to a USB port to recharge.  I purchased a 12 volt car charger with a USB port and I plug this into a 12 volt connection in my RV and it works great!   Or you can plug it into your computer and charge it while your computer is "on."

I tried the Radio option, didn't get a lot of local radio channels.


 COPPER HANDS GLOVES

I was recently diagnosed with mild arthritis in three of my fingers.  I had read about Copper Hands Gloves and how "wonderful" they were. THUMBS DOWN!  The gloves do provide great compression which relieves arthritis pain.  But the "copper?"  Just like I read on some reviews.  It's nothing more than "painted dots."  A cheap pair of gloves with fingers purchased at Wal-Mart accomplished the same thing.  I wear those when I sleep and it works fine.  Don't waste your money on "Copper Hands" gloves.
 
MEMORY FOAM CURVE PILLOW


I have tried contour pillows, they hurt my neck.  On a lark, I decided to try the  Curve Pillow purchased at Costco for $24.99.  I am a "slide" sleeper and recently have found that sleeping on my side has caused nerve pinches that make my fingers stiff in the morning not to mention my neck is stiff.  Originally, I gave this a "thumbs up" as I slept on this pillow and had a great night's sleep for the first time in a long time.  No stiff neck.  No stiff fingers.  The one bad thing is that, like all memory foam products, you have to put up with this awful "smell" for about 48 hours after removing from the packaging.  But after awhile (about six months), I started getting stiff necks again.  So, I am changing it to thumbs down.


EGG TIMER

A friend of mine had this AMAZING egg timer.  He bought it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and it looks like this.

I like my eggs soft, but not runny.  I tried the "medium" setting, too hard!  The "Soft" setting was just right.  You put this glass stone in your water along with your eggs.  It changed color, and when the changed color gets to where you want your egg, take egg out.  PERFECT!


 QUICK n' BRITE

The only place I have ever seen Quick n' Brite sold was at State/County fairs.  I heard TARGET may sell this product.  I saw this at the North Dakota State Fair in 2013.  Talked to the lady selling the product.  She ASSURED me that it was WONDERFUL for cleaning RV holding tanks.

I'm giving it a THUMBS DOWN!  I put two ounces in my black tank, added some water, as instructed in the Quick n' Brite instructions I was given by the sales lady for my RV tank.  Then I let it slosh while I drove.  Yeah, right.  Didn't even clean the lights, as I'm still showing "full" when it's completely empty.  Right now,  I continue to use it in my black tank just to get rid of it.


SHARK  CORDLESS PET  HAND  VACUUM

If you have a pet, you must get this:   SHARK CORDLESS PET HAND VACUUM    I paid $39 for it at Wal-Mart.  I only have carpet in one small area of my RV, but it's an area my cat likes to hang out.  I was impressed by how much pet hair it pulled out of the carpet.  Some things to note:

  • User's Guide was very specific about NOT leaving it on "charge" constantly.  Once it is charged up, you are to remove the charger.  You must use it until it runs down, then charge it up again.  Don't just "plug it in" when not in use unless it's completely drained.
  • The filter is plastic, and can be hand washed.  Thus, you don't have to keep buying filters.  On the other hand, the User's Guide was also specific that you "air dry" the filter.  Don't use a hair dryer, don't use a washing machine or clothes dryer.
This model lasted about two years before the battery got to a point where it wouldn't take or hold a charge and I had to get a replacement.  But I still recommend it.

CHAM - WOW  CHAMOIS  CLOTH

I bought this product in 2013 from a vendor at the North Dakota State Fair.  The fair vendor called it a "Chamois Tex Super Absorbent German Towel" but told me it was basically the "Cham-Wow" that you may have seen advertised on an informercial on TV.  The reason I bought it was to use with the Breathing Mobile Washer that I purchased (see "options for laundry" below).  I needed something to help wring out the items I wash.  I didn't want to purchase a  manual clothes wringer   (and I can't believe someone still makes these things!).  I had already purchased a few chamois cloths, but wanted to see how these work.  I was able to wring out two full size towels with these things, as opposed to one towel with a regular chamois cloth.  So, these work ok.


MOSQUITO  REPELLANT  -  CLIP  ON

I tried this product made by OFF .  I paid $6.98 (plus tax) at Wal-Mart.  From my understanding of the directions, it basically works only if you are sitting still reading a book.  The directions kind of "imply" that if you are walking around it won't work effectively.  I used it, but made sure I also had spray on mosquito repellant as a supplement.  I'm not sure this is really worth the cost.  Not to mention, it requires two AAA batteries (included with purchase, but how long will those last, and then you have to buy more......).  Further, the cartridge lasts 12 hours (there is a small narrow window showing you how much is left).  Replacement cartridges come in packets of two, and I paid $6.49 (plus tax) for one packet of two at a "Do It Best" hardware store.  Almost as much as the fan itself.  I used it mostly while walking around, didn't try it sitting still.  

OMELET WAVE

I love omelets but I'm horrible at making them.  I tried out this product:  Omelet Wave .  It has both an omelet maker and an egg poacher.

Omelets:  It's ok......  you have to follow the directions to the letter, but the omelet was still not perfect......  Useful if you are a solo.

Egg Poacher:  The egg poacher part is a royal pain.  You have to start and stop the microwave.  NOBODY wants to do that.  When it comes to microwaving, people generally want to "set it and forget it" (with apologies to RONCO...).  When it comes to poaching eggs, I've also tried This Wal-Mart product and it's the same thing:  constant starting and stopping of the microwave for 30 second increments.  Who wants to do that? 

FASTA PASTA

I was given a FASTA PASTA as a gift.  It is FANTASTIC!  It works as long as you follow the directions to the letter.  You do not put the lid on.  You wait until the pasta is cooked, then you use the lid to drain the water.  (Hint:  I drain the water down in my RV toilet to add liquid to the toilet.) Then, you can put spaghetti sauce in and microwave a few minutes more. 

POCKET HOSE

The POCKET HOSE comes in 25 feet or 50 feet.  I bought mine (25 feet) at Fred Meyer for $12.99.  Basically, I bought it to use on the tank rinser outlet on my RV.  Customer Reviews at Wal-Mart and Amazon are mostly negative.  I agree, the hose ends are cheap plastic that could easily break.  But, the hose did collapse when I stopped running water.  The hose collapsed faster than I could drain it, so I basically got squirted while trying to drain the hose.  Basically, it costs the same as a regular hose, but takes up less space.  I would use it for "light duty" work.

OPTIONS FOR LAUNDRY

Since I don't tow a car, laundry is an ordeal if the place I'm working at does not have laundry.  Once a week, I have to pack up and do laundry.  One of my friend's has been researching some alternatives for me. We have come up with the following:

Two videos on the Breathing Mobile Washer (I have a small but deep bathtub in my RV, the below would work....)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUqACGizd30

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhUUxKPWzkg

Here is something called the WONDER WASH:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk-CK_2OmHk

Or, here is a NON-ELECTRIC washing machine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaPdcO2Hwlo

Or, we can go to a reinvention of the old fashioned scrub board....

http://www.thescrubba.com/

I decided to try out the Breathing Mobile Washer.  I washed a towel that contained cat vomit, a couple of "rag" washcloths, and a cap I wear a lot.

I used my bathtub to wash the items.  The directions say to use 4-6 inches of water.  I agree with the directions.  You definitely need 4-6 inches of water or the washer doesn't agitate all that well. If I had been using a bucket, wouldn't need as much water, as the bathtub is "spread out" water. But, the bathtub gave me more room, in my opinion, but this is personal choice.

It's a lot of work to bounce that "toilet plunger" up and down. The directions say two minutes is all you need. I think overall I did four minutes, but it wasn't continuous........

Now for rinsing!  On the cap and the two washcloths, I just held them under the bathtub faucet to "rinse."  I used cold water, as my hot water had run out by then.  I wrung them out by hand and put them on a chrome drying rack I carry.

The large towel on the other hand, was going to be an issue!  I drained the bathtub, then got out my small Rubbermaid tub that I use in the kitchen sink, put the towel in there, ran more cold water, swished it around, then did a manual hand wring.  But, on a big towel, a manual hand wring isn't quite enough. I had purchased two LARGE chamois cloths, (meant for drying cars....) put the towel between the two chamois, rolled it, and got most of the water out!

Now, did the items get clean?

The two "rag washcloths" were kind of stained already. They got as clean as they were going to get.

My cap looks clean!

And, the towel is clean, I don't see any signs of "kitty barf."

If you need to wash a few items at a time, it works.....



FLUPPI

I bought this Hand held sweeper tool at the North Dakota State Fair in 2012.  I travel with a cat, and I get tired of dragging out the Shop-Vac to sweep up cat litter that gets tracked out of the litter box.  I have tried carrying battery operated portable cleaners but they take up space, and eventually the battery goes POOF and won't recharge.  Although I have a litter tracking mat under the litter box (that is SUPPOSED to pull the stuff off kitty's feet), it's not enough as cat litter still gets on the carpet.  Thus, when I saw the FLUPPI, I was motivated to try it.  It works great, even with kitty litter on the carpet!  It will pick up stuff off linoleum floor, but it seems to work better on carpet.  If you have a small spill of stuff and don't want to drag out the vacuum cleaner, this is good in a pinch! 

CLICK**IT**HOT

I bought this item at the North Dakota State Fair in 2012.  It's a Re-Usable Heat Pack.  It's a bunch of gel inside sealed plastic.  Comes in about four colors that I saw.  There is a little silver disc that floats in the gel.  You find the disc, and click it. Immediately, the gel crystalizes and produces heat.  It produced wonderful heat for about 30 minutes.  Now the down side.  When it cools off, it stays crystalized.  To return it to the gelatinous state, you must boil the item.  You need to place a dishrag inside the pot and fill the pot with water.  The dishrag prevents the heat pack from melting against the metal of your pot.  You must boil it until 100% of the crystalized stuff returns to gel.

Plusses:  It gives you a great heat pack without the need to plug in to anything, and thus go against your amperage limit in the RV.

Minuses:  The requirement to boil the item to return it back to gelatinous state is a bit of a "fuss with it" factor, and I'm thinking people will consider it to be a bit of an inconvenience.   

BOGS RUBBER SLIP ON SHOE from Altrec

If you RV to really WET areas, you need theseThey are so comfortable!  I bought a pair in black.  I ordered one size larger than what I normally wear, and I'm glad I did.  I ordered mine through Amazon.com and got them cheaper than the price quoted here.  The BOGS brand goes with a variety of shoe styles, shown here

TRUDEAU   SILICONE   EGG   POACHER

I'm mixed on this product:  Silocone Egg Poachers   I do love poached eggs.  Can use an electric skillet or stovetop pan.  I used an electric skillet, about 200 degrees.  I oiled the inside of the poacher with cooking oil, then put the egg in it, put it in the skillet, then put the lid on.  The egg tasted kind of "flat" although I don't know if the taste was more about the way I cooked it, or the product.  Then, the egg still "stuck" to the poacher and I had to "dig" the egg out.  Not sure this is worth purchasing, not to mention, I'm still not sure whether making cookware out of silicone is a good idea healthwise.  

TRUDEAU  SILICONE  FOOD   STEAMER

I had good luck with this silocone food steamer .  However, it's a bit too big to use in a standard stovetop pan.  If you prefer to steam in a stovetop pan, stick with the metal version.  But if you have a large "stock pot," this steamer can be used in the stock pot and made great steamed vegetables.  Since using this, I have become a fan of steamed vegetables. However, I still wonder if silocone cookware is a good idea healthwise.
 
NORDICWARE   MULTIPOT

If you enjoy rice or pasta, this is a "must have" in your RV: NordicWare MultiPot  If you follow the directions exactly, to the letter, to include the rice "rinsing," it does a wonderful job with rice, gets it just to the correct "stickiness."  If you use it for long pasta, like spaghetti or fettucini, I recommend you break the pasta pieces in half.  Also, no more than two servings in this model for pasta.  This pot also steams vegetables, but I have not tried that feature yet.  Previously to having the MultiPot, I used this model:  NordicWare Microwave Rice Cooker .  This also worked well for rice and was able to handle long pasta without having to break it down.  However, the handle clips eventually broke off, and the rice cooker itself eventually melted, which led me to the purchase of the NordicWare MultiPot.                                                     


POWER STATION PS 5000 from Costco

No RV should be without one of these:  Power Station .  I love mine!  It has jumper cables to start a car, an air compressor for putting air in tires or mattresses, and some 12 volt and electrical connections.  The air compressor should NOT be run more than 10 minutes at a time.  I think I overtaxed it one time when I had a really low tire, and now the air compressor doesn't work right.  But no problem, I bought a portable air compressor from an auto supply store, and I plug it into one of the 12 volt connections.  I have used the electrical outlet to power up my computer when I have stopped at rest stops, thus avoiding use of the generator.  The electrical outlet is good for up to 300 watt appliances, wouldn't try to run a hair dryer or curling iron on it.  And, I have used the jumper cables a few times for starting cars.


BLACK & DECKER CITRUS JUICER

I like this device Citrus Juicer, it does a fairly decent job of squeezing out every last drop of juice from limes, lemons, and oranges.  Not so good on grapefruit.  With this appliance, you can adjust the strainer to have as much or as little pulp as you want.  However, the "strainer" part, to me, was difficult to clean. I'm not sure I got all the crevices clean, had to resort to a toothbrush to clean that part.  Good appliance for squeezing all the juice out, but sometimes I still prefer the old fashioned glass juicer dish that you can find in antique stores, like this glass juicer.

THETFORD STAY-TION SHOWER HOOK

The hook that holds my shower in place (I think it's called a "spray holder") cracked.  I cannot find a replacement, as the replacement parts in RV stores don't have the "installation holes" drilled in the right place.  One RV dealer told me that the kind of shower hook I have is from a place back east that they don't regularly trade with.  Another RV dealer told me that the kind of shower hook I have is "hard to find" right now.  So, I purchased a "suction" hook to hold my shower.  This is a new product from Thetford, the maker of a lot of RV products.  (At this time, I am unable to find a specific link to this product on the web.  Here is a link to where you can purchase this product as a "combo" with other products:  Shower Spray Holder  )  I tried it out.  My shower area has a "grainy" finish.  The suction hook will not stay on a "grainy" finish.  So, THUMBS DOWN on this product!

MICROFIBER  DRYING   MATS

I bought a Microfiber Drying Mat for my RV, I love it!  I use it on top of the "Oak Silent Top" described below.  It stays in place during transit as long as it's on the Oak Top. 

OAK "SILENT TOP" FOR STOVE

Go to Camco.net and do a search on "Oak Accents Silent Top."  I bought one of these from an RV dealer and I LOVE IT!  It gives you more counter space.  It was pretty easy to follow the template and instructions to install the rubber stoppers that grip the grill on the stove to hold it in place.  I have had no trouble with it during transit.  It stays in place!   However, you need to remove it from the top if you are cooking something below in a propane stove. 

READING   SUNGLASSES

So far, even at my "middle age," I don't need to wear regular glasses, just "reading" glasses.  I can see long distances, but I cannot read the dashboard of my car or RV without "reading" glasses.  This presents a problem when wearing sunglasses.  My car dashboard and my GPS unit screen are both blurry, yet I can see long distances through the windshield window.  I have seen people put sunglasses on top of regular glasses, so they are wearing "two" pairs of glasses.  To me, this looks, well, "doofy."  To alleviate this "doofy" look, there is an invention called FIT OVER SUNGLASSES .  This way, you don't have the "wearing two pairs of glasses at the same time" goofy look.  Good concept, and some people look great in them.  Not so hot on me.  So, at Costco, I found another solution.  You can purchase a product called READING SUNGLASSES.  I bought a pair.   Wow, I can shield my eyes from the sun, and still see my car or RV dashboard!  But, the problem went the other way.  Since they are "reading" sunglasses, I now cannot see long distances.

Ok, bottom line.  Reading Sunglasses are great for reading books while sunbathing on the beach, or general walking around.  But don't try to drive with them, or you will have to wear them low on your nose and look over them to see long distances.  Also, do not try to walk with them, because the ground will look like it has "dips" in it, and you will stumble.  And for heavens sakes, DON'T look through them while going down stairs unless you have the ability to train your brain to compensate. 


WEATHER ALERT RADIOS

Two different friends gave me, as gifts, two different weather alert radios as follows:

Eton Weather Tracker Model FR800 

Uses 3 "D" Batteries if you don't want to plug into electricity.

I cannot find a way to turn radio completely off when unplugged.  Therefore, when not plugged in, it uses battery power.   On the other hand, the use of the 3 "D" batteries seems to last a longer time than the other radio with the 4 "AA" batteries.

Programming this is cumbersome, I have to consult the manual each time I want to change the station or the counties I want to get alerts from.

I used this radio when I was in northeast North Dakota, and there was a storm that came that didn't show on either this radio or the TV.

(More to follow)

Midland All Hazards Weather Alert Radio Model WR-300 

Uses 4 "AA" batteries if you don't want to plug into electricity.

Can be turned completely off so the batteries aren't drained when it's unplugged from electricity.  On the other hand, the use of the 4 "AA" batteries didn't seem to last as long as the other radio with the 3 "D" batteries.

Programming is cumbersome, I have to consult the instruction manual each time I want to change programming.

But, the instruction manual is easy to follow. 

Instruction manual has a place for you to write down commonly used county codes.

Used this radio in 2013 when I was in central North Dakota and there was a storm alert on the TV, but radio never picked it up.

(More to follow)
____________________________________________________

Comments common to both products:

  • Both allow you to program in alerts for a specific county or to hear all alerts within your range. 
  • To get your S.A.M.E (and how this works) County Code for alerts, go to this web site: NOAA Weather Radio County Codes
  • Both allow you to tune in the NOAA weather reports that come over the seven radio frequencies .
  • Both have AM/FM radio listening.
  • Both come with an adaptor to plug into an electrical outlet.
  • There are parts of North Dakota where you apparently won't get alerts on either radio.
 I am alternately using both radios.  Not sure which is better than the other.

This website is a good supplement to your emergency radio:

EMERGENCY EMAIL


 
MATTRESS TOPPERS

Mattresses that come with RV's tend to be really BAD.  I tried these options:

  • "Memory Foam" Toppers - I tried two different "memory foam" toppers, one that I purchased at Costco, and one that I purchased at Wal-Mart.  Both were about 2 inches thick.  I found that "memory foam" toppers made it a little more comfortable, but created other problems (like, stiff neck, etc.)  
  • Egg Crate" Foam - I tried an Egg Crate foam, didn't really like it that well.
I finally found something that worked best for me.  It was a "combo."  It was "egg crate foam" on one side, and about a half inch of "memory foam" on the other side.  I purchased this at Wal-Mart.

UPDATE:  Although I found the "combo" to be more comfortable than the memory foam or egg crate, later, I developed "nerve pinch" issues in my shoulders and fingers which I believe are related to the use of these kinds of products.  Can't prove it, but I believe it to be so.  Thus, I discontinued to use the combo.