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RV Travel – Our Magnolia Day

Visiting the Magnolia Silos and Magnolia Table on our recent RV travel trip.

One of our most memorable RV travel trips to date was to Waco, Texas to visit The Magnolia Silos. Over the years I became addicted to the show ‘Fixer Upper’ and the amazing designs of Joanna Gaines. I would binge watch episodes with my son and daughter-in-law, and dream of one day having Joanna design a house for me. Of course, this was before I met Bill, and we moved into a 21′ RV!

When we took a temporary job in El Paso, TX, I knew this was my opportunity to visit Waco. Waco was out of the way, but Bill was happy to add the destination to our trip.

Magnolia Table

We started our Magnolia day off with breakfast at Magnolia Table. As we arrived at the front door of the restaurant, the doors were opened for us by two lovely employees and we were warmly welcomed.

The restaurant was simply breathtaking. From the wall décor to the menu presentation, you could tell Joanna took the time to make sure every detail had her touch, and boy did it.

Bill & I both ordered the French Toast breakfast that was highly recommended in all of the reviews we read. We were shocked at the amount of food that was so beautifully presented to us. Along with our french toast (with strawberry butter) our order came with 2 eggs, peppered bacon and the most amazing homemade tater tots! The tater tots along would have been enough to fill me up!

We both managed to stuff ourselves full of the delicious breakfast. Everything was perfect. The service, presentation, taste, and atmosphere made this one of the best restaurant experiences we’ve had.

The Silos

Next, we headed to the Magnolia Silos. If you’re not familiar, Chip & Joanna Gaines purchased the silos and re-purposed the property that now houses The Magnolia Market, The Silos Baking Co., and Magnolia Seed & Supply and it has become a vacation destination for families from all over the world.

We found it truly amazing what they did with the property. We spent time just strolling around the grounds, looking at every detail that was decorated to perfection. In the center of the grounds, there is an area for the kids to play corn hole, kick a soccer ball around, or just run and be kids!

The property is lined with food trucks and picnic tables where your family can relax and enjoy great food, or simply relax and enjoy watching the children play.

Because Bill & I live in a small space, our shopping was focused on gifts for our children. Everyone got something special from the Magnolia Market, and Bill & I got something special from the Silos Baking Co.

During our time at The Silos, we noticed that each employee we came in contact with was not only friendly and helpful, they actually took the time to have a genuine conversation with us.

Our Magnolia day turned out to be one of the best RV travel trips we’ve taken to date. If you’re in the Waco area, we definitely recommend a visit to both the Silos and Magnolia Table.

Full Time RV Living – Tips on How to Tackle your Finances

Three things to consider before you dive into full time RV living.

Whether your plan is full time RV living or to become a weekend warrior, you will need to take a good look at your financial health.

Here are 3 things you should consider:

  1. Debt: Before you can comfortably enjoy RV living, you may want to get rid of your debt, or as much of it as possible. Depending on the amount of debt you owe, you may need to begin this process a couple of years before you leap into life on the road.
  2. Credit Score: Cleaning up your credit should be at the top of your to-do list. If your plan includes financing an RV, you will need good credit. Additionally, most insurance companies consider your credit score when quoting insurance premiums. The better the score, the better the rate!
  3. Income: For many folks on the road, having an income is a necessity. Whether you plan on collecting retirement benefits, live off of your savings or your plan is to work on the road, you need to have all of you I’s dotted and your T’s crossed before you head out.

Here is a look at how Bill & I tackled our finances before full time RV living:

  • Made a list & checked it twice
    OK, actually we checked our list a few thousand times, but you get the point. We made a list of everything we owed and came up with a plan to wipe it out. Once our plan was on paper, we got to work.
    After leaving my job in November of 2017, we came up with a plan for Bill to teach me how to draft so that I could work with him. With two of us working together, we were able to take on more work. Bill reached out to his work contact and let him know that he was trying to pay off some debt and could use some extra work. The work poured in and we found ourselves working non-stop. To help pull in even more money, I started a dog-walking business that immediately took off. As we went through the process of downsizing, anything that we could sell, we sold. All of the extra money went towards our savings for the new RV. Before we knew it, the majority of our debt was paid off, and we were able to purchase our new RV. We are still working crazy in order to finish paying off the remainder of our debt and build up our savings before we can hit the road full time.
  • Played the Numbers Game
    Many folks suffer a hit to their credit score after a divorce. Bill & I were no exception. Both of our scores had dropped over the years, and we hadn’t done much to clean them up, so we had a little work ahead of us. 
    We each signed up for free credit monitoring (Credit Wise) that is offered through our bank (Capital One). With Credit Wise, we were able to access our credit scores and report every 7 days. The report explained why our credit scores were what they were and gave us suggestions on how to improve them. After following the suggestions and working hard to improve our credit, our scores have been climbing back up. Most importantly, we now have credit available to cover any unexpected emergency expenses while we are traveling!
  • Created Income When we made the decision I would leave my job, we knew we had to find a way to make money from wherever we were traveling. Bill convinced me that I could learn how to draft and work with him. Surprisingly, he was right! We are now working together in drafting and engineering for Telecommunication companies. The majority of our work is done online remotely, so we are able to work from the road. Additionally, we are in the process of creating income by sharing our stories from the road as we travel around the country. The best advice we can offer is that you need to create your plan and begin working on it before you begin full time RV living. Make sure you celebrate each goal met, and don’t give up! We hope to see you someday on the road! 

 

Full-time RV living – Should you sell or donate your stuff?

Downsizing Before Full-Time RV Living

Once Bill & I made the decision to move into full-time RV living, we had, and still have, a to-do list that seems to never end! One of the biggest tasks we’ve had to handle was getting rid of the things that we just don’t have room for. It’s been difficult, but we’ve made a lot of progress.

Once the decision was made to get rid of an item, we then had to decide if we should sell or donate it. In the beginning of our downsize, it was tough, but it’s gotten much easier.

To help, here are a couple of the questions we ask ourselves:

  1. What’s the value of the item? We first decide what the value of the item is. If we can only get a couple of bucks for it, we’ll add it to our donate pile. If it’s worth a couple hundred, we’ll consider selling it.
  2. Is the value of the item significant enough to warrant our time? We recently tried to sell some leather riding jackets on Facebook’s Marketplace. After a couple of days listed, Bill drove to meet a guy who wanted to buy one and even though the size was listed in the ad, the jacket wasn’t the right size. With gas and time wasted, we felt it just wasn’t worth it.
  3. Will we benefit more from the write-off or the cash? If you’re itemizing your taxes, consider the benefits of a write-off. The IRS allows you to write-off the fair market value of your donations. A lot of times when you sell something, you get below the fair market price.

After addressing these questions, we are able to make the best decision. We ended up donating a lot of our clothes and shoes, small household items and trinkets. To stop the meet-ups to sell items online, we dropped a lot of our boat stuff off at a boat consignment shop. To our surprise, this is working out great! They sell our stuff, and we get a check in the mail, can’t beat it!

If you’re preparing for full-time RV living and struggling with downsizing, just take it one item at a time, ask yourself those three questions, and before you know it, you’ll be living your dream!

How to Save on Gas on Your Next RV Trip

When you are planning for an RV trip, considering gas prices is an essential task. Here’s how to save on gas before you head out on the road.

Want to save money on gas for your next RV trip? Oh, don’t we all? Fluctuating gas prices can be a never-ending stress for budget-conscious RVers. But you may be surprised to know there are apps out there that can alleviate some of the stress and hassle of fueling up your RV.

We’ve saved you some time by compiling the best apps and tricks we’ve discovered to help compare gas prices and find the cheapest way to fill up at the pump when you are on RV adventures.

Slow Down the Pace

RV life is about freedom and enjoying the ride, is it not? That’s a good reason not to rush and speed down the road in urgency. Here’s another reason: Each 5 miles per hour you go over 60 mph can cost you from 7 to 23% on gas prices. Every little bit counts when it comes to your fuel up costs.

Lighten Up

Make sure your RV load is as light as possible. Get rid of any unnecessary junk—especially if it is on the heavier side. For every 250 –pounds of stuff on your RV, you will lose 1 to 2%.

Get the GasBuddy App

GasBuddy is a free app that helps you to locate the cheapest gas in whatever area you are in—as long as you are in the U.S. or Canada. With a few clicks of your fingertips, you can see the nearest gas stations and their latest gas prices. Plus, you earn points and can win prizes just for reporting the gas prices you see on the road.

Give the Waze App a Try

This is a crowdsourced navigation app that can direct you to the gas station with the cheapest gas and will let you know exactly how much you will pay for gas on a given trip. You can also access special Waze deals at certain gas stations to help you maximize savings.

Whether you are looking to save money on gas for your next RV trip or just want to learn the ropes of RV living from someone who is doing it now, connect with us online now to stay in touch. We are happy to share our experiences, tips and tricks for making the most of your RV adventures.

Looking at Full Time RV Living? Do THIS First

What on earth do you do with your mail when you are giving full time RV living a go? Here’s what you need to know before you head out on the open road.

Full time RV living comes with many perks—freedom and adventure being two major benefits. However, there are also a few inconveniences to consider. Not having a permanent address can make it difficult to get mail. Of course, you can set up bill pay online, but what about other types of mail and correspondence that you will need to receive from time to time?

The good news is there are services available to help you to turn this inconvenience into no problem at all. You’ll need to get this mail situation figured out before you begin your adventure in RV living, so let’s take a closer look at some top options:

  • Rent a PO box at the UPS Store. While this will work in some cases, some entities may not consider this a legal address. There is also a fee involved to rent the box.
  • Use Traveling Mailbox. This service receives mail for you, scans in the address and mail content, converts the info into a PDF and then e-mails it to you, so you never miss anything while you are on the road. They also offer storage facilities to keep the hard copies of your mail for future reference.
  • Use Family Motor Coach Association. Among many other benefits related to RV living, paying for an FMCA membership means you can get mail forwarding for a fee, a legal South Dakota mail box and address, with digital mailbox service upgrades available.

We’d be happy to share with you how we handle our mail situation while we are out enjoying RV living. Connect with us online now to learn more.

Luxury RV Resorts – Not a Fan? Try Sportsman Lake Park

Sportsman Lake Park is a Great Alternative to Luxury RV Resorts.

Staying at luxury RV resorts really isn’t our style. So during our recent visit to Cullman, Alabama, we followed the recommendation of a friend and reserved campsite #1 at Sportsman Lake Park.

Back in 2011, after a tornado ripped through this small town, Bill spent 4 months there helping them rebuild their telecommunications. After he returned home to Florida, he had stayed in touch with a couple of the friends he made during his time there. So, when we realized we would be close by Cullman, we knew we had to stop.

The park is located in downtown Cullman, but, you wouldn’t know it. It’s surrounded by trees and wraps around a beautiful lake that’s full of fish for fishing and home to lots and lots of wildlife for viewing.

We arrived in the afternoon, so we set up camp and relaxed while waiting for our friends to arrive for a great evening catching up. We enjoyed a delicious BBQ on the lake and lots of great conversation and laughter. 

Our second day at the park was spent exploring and playing. There’s plenty of fun activities for the whole family.

Our first activity was hitting the bike trail. The winding trail took us through the shaded campground, recreation and picnic areas and by The Veterans Memorial Park. There’s also some exercise equipment along the bike trail so you can stop and work out (we skipped that part)!

After our bike ride, we rented a paddle boat (they also have kayak, canoe & row boat rentals). Because we are terribly out of shape, we headed back in after about 20 minutes on the lake and headed straight for the soft serve ice cream!

We hopped back on our bikes and cruised back to the campground side of the lake for an afternoon of relaxation and just a tad bit of work.

The park also includes:

  • Bounce Houses
  • 18 hole putt-putt golf course
  • A fenced in playground
  • The Splash Pad – a place to get wet and beat the summer heat
  • Bike rentals
  • Covered picnic pavilions
  • A fenced in dog park
  • Concession stand
  • Small scale train – the whole family can ride

The campground has 17 RV & Tent sites with electric, and water hook-ups. A picnic table and grill are included. The showers and restrooms were very clean, and a dump station is available on site. The staff was very friendly and the natives (ducks) were also very welcoming, that is as long as you had plenty of quarters for the food dispensers! Sportsman Lake Park is definitely one of our favorite spots so far.

So if luxury RV resorts aren’t for you, give Sportsman Lake Park a try if you’re ever near Cullman, AL.

RV Vacations – Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground

Planning RV Vacations? You’ll Enjoy a trip to Raccoon Mountain.

After a recent visit to Alabama, one of the first RV vacations we took, we made a quick trip up to Chattanooga, TN. We had heard a lot of great things about Ruby Falls, Rock City & Lookout Mountain, so we decided to go. We reserved 2-days at Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground so that we could spend a full-day visiting Ruby Falls, Rock City & Lookout Mountain.

We hadn’t realized until we checked in to the RV park that there was actually a cavern on-site. This worked out great for us and gave us something to do that first afternoon at the campground. After we settled in to our site, we walked over to the cavern and took the Crystal Palace Walking Tour. The tour lasted just under an hour and our tour guide was great. There were only 5 of us on the tour, which made the tour that much better!

We learned that in 1929 Leo Lambert, who had discovered Ruby Falls, was invited to explore the area to see if he could find a cave. During his exploration, he discovered the area that is now known as the Crystal Palace Room. It was opened to the public for tours in 1931.

20 years later, other areas were discovered, and as of today over 5 ½ miles of paths have been discovered.

For those of you in better physical shape, there is another option for exploring the cavern. The Wild Cave Expedition Tour offers 5 different tours ranging from 2 hours up to 4 ½ hours. You will be crawling through tiny openings and you will get dirty. Safety gear is also provided on these wild tours.

The RV Park & Campground includes Full Hook-up sites, water & electric sites, primitive sites and furnished cabins.

The campground is a bit pricy if you’re on a tight budget, but we definitely felt that paying just a bit more for a site was well worth it, we were so close to the attractions we were visiting.

If you’re planning future RV vacations to the Chattanooga area, we definitely recommend a visit to Raccoon Mountain Caverns and Campground.

Should You Sell or Rent Your House to Go RVing?

So you are ready to go RVing…should you rent out your house or sell it? Here are the important factors to consider as you make your decision.

Once you have decided you are ready to go RVing as a lifestyle, you have many important decisions to make. Perhaps the biggest one of all is whether you should rent out your house or sell it. Unfortunately this isn’t a cut and dry answer with a solution that’s right for everyone. Each person or couple’s situation is unique.

Let’s take a look at some important questions to ask as you move forward in your decision-making process:

  • What are the top reasons to sell your house?
  • What are the reasons NOT to sell your house?
  • Do you need the proceeds from your house sale in order to buy your RV?
  • Is being debt-free important to you? If so, would selling your home enable you to achieve that goal?
  • If you are considering renting out your home, do you know what it takes to be a landlord and are you willing and able to perform the necessary tasks?
  • Do you want to cut ties with your house and be truly free from it when you go on the road?
  • Do you have deep emotional ties to your house that will make you regret selling it?
  • If you decide to leave your house behind without selling or renting it, are you prepared to handle the security issues and pay taxes on a property you are not using?
  • Can you afford to keep the house AND travel in the RV?

Make a Pros and Cons List Before You Go RVing

As you answer these questions, line the answers up in a Pros/Cons list. Yes, we mean actually write it down! This will help you to assess what’s right for your unique situation. While the answer to sell or not sell your house may not appear like writing on the RV wall panels, it will help you to gain more clarity and get you closer to making the best choice for you.

Need some help as you take your first steps to go RVing? We are always here to help. Whether you want to learn more about our personal RV adventure or need some guidance from people who have been there done that, connect with us online now. We’d love to hear from you. 

Instant Pot Recipes – Everglades Chicken

Everglades Chicken for The Instant Pot

Because our kitchen in the van is so small, we’ve been experimenting with our Instant Pot. Here is one of our new favorite Instant Pot recipes we’ve created.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil

1lb. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – Cut into bite sized cubes

¾ Cup Chicken Broth

1½ lbs. Petite Red Potatoes

1½ lbs. Green Beans – Cleaned and the ends cut off

3 Tsp. Everglades Heat Seasoning

Salt

Pepper

4 Tbsp. Butter – Cut into pieces

Preparations:

Add coconut oil and chicken to Instant Pot. Select saute on Instant Pot. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth, red potatoes & Green beans.

Sprinkle the Everglades seasoning, salt and pepper into the pot. Toss with a spoon. Add butter.

Cover the pot and secure the lid. Set pressure release valve to “sealing.” Set the manual/pressure cook button for 3 minutes.

The pot will preheat / pre-pressurize and automatically start the 3 minutes countdown. Once the timed 3 minutes are up, the pot will beep.

Quick release pressure by moving the valve to venting. Once pressure is released remove the lid.

Stir the contents of the pot and serve.

Everglades Chicken Instant Pot Recipe

If you don’t already own an Instant Pot, what are you waiting for? Click below to view the Instant Pot on Amazon. We’ve also included a link to view the Everglades Heat Seasoning. Yes, we may receive a small commission if you purchase. It won’t cost you a penny more, but it will help keep this site going. Thank you!

To View Instant Pot on Amazon:

To View Everglades Heat Seasoning on Amazon:

Amazing RV Adventure in Teklanika River Campground

Amazing RV Adventure at Denali Park & Preserve 

Camping at Tek was one of the highlights of our RV Adventure to Alaska. We had read all about it and couldn’t wait to get there, in fact, we were the first campers to arrive at the campground for the season. Of course, we got the best campsite and had plenty of time to chat with the camp hosts before the other campers arrived.

Here are 3 tips for the ultimate adventure at Teklanika River Campground:

1. Purchase the Tek Pass: The Tek bus pass is a necessity if you are camping at Teklanika. Vehicles are required to turn around at mile 15 unless you are camping at Teklanika. Once you arrive at the campground you cannot move your RV, or vehicle until you are leaving the area. The cost of the pass is $40 per camper and the pass is good for as long as you are camping in the park. The pass can be purchased in the Mercantile at Riley Creek Campground. The buses run along the only road within Denali. You can catch the bus at any point along the Denali Park Road. We took the bus every day to different points in the park for day hiking adventures.
2. Head Off on your Own: By far, the best way to experience Denali is to head off on your own. Even the camper bus drivers recommend it. While riding on the camper bus our first day, we met a couple from California. We hit it off immediately and decided to hike together when we departed the bus. We got off at the Toklat River and headed off along the river bed. In early spring, the water level of the rivers is still very low so the river beds make for great hiking trails. We ate lunch along the river and caught the attention of some Caribou close by. A couple of the younger caribou were very playful with us and entertained us while we ate lunch. As we were hiking along getting to know our new friends, we encountered a grizzly bear. He was walking directly towards us. After the initial panic, we followed the recommendations of the rangers, (make noise and make yourself appear larger than the bear). I had my bear spray ready to go, and we walked, not run away from the path the bear was on. We got a little bit scared when we realized the bear was following us, so once again we raised our arms in the air and the bear turned and continued on his way!
3. Take Advantage of the Extended Day Light: This is a once in a lifetime trip! That said, take advantage of every second of daylight. Head out into the wilderness and explore.

We spent an entire week in Denali National Park & Preserve during our RV adventure. We highly recommend staying at Teklanika River Campground. We spent hours wandering around the wilderness on our own and saw lots of wildlife. The experience was one we will never forget!