We are still ‘Liberty’ and she’s still our Land Yacht. We just needed an ‘identifier’ for networking and social media. We will continue to use the same format (for now) as its what we are comfortable with. As well, with our professional blog writing and other submissions (yes, we have jobs!), we are already incredible busy. We’d rather go out and FIND cool stuff to blog ABOUT than sit in our Land Yacht Liberty making our blog all nice and pretty. Its what works for us. In the next few months though, we will be tweaking to include more:
Product Reviews (Sharing our experiences with products used in/on Liberty)
Main Control (Maintenance and Modifications on Liberty)
Grog & Grub (Pub & Restaurant Reviews)
We are always up for requests and suggestions to make our blog more appealing to not only RVers, but travelers (no matter which mode you choose) and those who wish to live vicariously through our experiences and stories. We also vie for a following from school-age children and teachers as we blog about the cool places we’ve visited and their history, geography, geology and other goodies to enrich their minds. We hope also, to be an inspiration for others who may want to throw their own caution to the wind and follow suit. Whichever it is, you can email us at email@example.com, or Facebook private message us at Always On Liberty. We are always up for finding new places to visit and see friends and family. That’s why we have wheels! Do you have a clean, level spot on your property to accomodate our 42′ fifth wheel, our dingy (small tote that holds our dual sport motorcycles) and Captain America? We’d love to come visit! We are becoming more self-contained and self sufficient. Or, if you’re close to an RV park or resort that can accomodate our size, we would love to come visit (when its warm and sunny outside LOL).
So, we are grateful for all of our followers! It shows us that you are interested in what we are doing and where we are going. Did you know you can ‘subscribe’ to receive notifications via email anytime we submit a new blog story? Up there in the top right of our blog is where you submit your email.
Finally, NONE of our travels would be possible without the support of our friends and family; even though when we came clean with our idea, they thought we were crazy in the head! We appreciate all of those who cross our paths with insight, advice, suggestions, and a helping hand when we needed it. We always ‘have our ears on’. Likewise, we are always eager to helping others whom need our weak minds and strong backs (or vice versa!)
Until our next blog entry…fair winds to you all.
— Captain Dan, Lisa (Navigator, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer) and our Nomad Cats, Krissie and Kandi
When it comes to trip and destination planning, its a tedious job. Its probably the hardest thing we endure in our travels. Extensive research and considerations are made before we actually make a reservation at a campground, RV park or resort.
One of the most frequented questions we are asked is ‘how do you decide where you’re going to park?’
That’s a good question, because really, there’s no simple answer. We will tell you that in our year and a half OTR (on the road), we’ve learned what works for us and what works for us may or may not work for others who we follow or who follow us. As well, what works at one location may not work for another location. There are so many variables that makes our choosing a bit of a task; it takes considerable research. Admittedly, it can be a little stressful in our planning.
1) SIZE MATTERS!
No really! Joking aside, its probably THE most important issue we contend with when considering a reservation or where we moor. Liberty is 42′ (actually 41′ 6″ but who’s counting, right?) and Captain America (our dually truck) is about 20′ and we now have an 8′ Idaho Tote extension off the back of our coach. So ‘hooked up’, we are 70′. We need space to maneuver to hook, unhook and wiggle ourselves into our site. Typically, to reach our comfort zone, we ask for sites at least 85′ or longer; the more the merrier.
Liberty fully hooked up and ready for the road.
Our leveling jacks and wood blocks not only protects the site surface but also helps reduce shake or instability due to full jack extension.
That said though, if no pull-through sites are available and/or we opt for a back-in site, we can try have our back wheel of our coach on the edge of the concrete or gravel site pad depending on other contingencies (read on). There are times though, campground/park/resort owners will not allow our auto leveling jacks sit on 10″x10″ blocks to sit on the grass aft of the site. As well, if we backed our back coach tires to the most rear of our site, this may not allow proper placement of our utility hookups (electric, water & sewer). That would put our aft leveling jack pads & blocks on the grass which most park and resort owners disapprove of because of landscaping. If we opt for a back-in site, we unload our toys from our Idaho Tote prior to pulling in. Now, not only our length is a determining factor, we also consider site width. When we park, we certainly don’t want to have our coach entry door and steps out into the grass, dirt or mud. Nor do we appreciate ‘tight’ spacing where literally, our awnings touch the coach next to us. That’s too close for our comfort. Most parks or resorts have enough site width to include a small patio with methodical placement of where ‘most’ coach doors ‘would’ be however, depending on the age of the facility or site planning, that’s not always the case. Our width during tow with slides in is 8′ however, when fully set up, our slides add another 4-5′ so typically, we need a site at least 15′ wide or wider. Again, the more the merrier. Older campgrounds, parks and resorts may have been surveyed and designed with narrower sites back before slide-out concepts appeared on RV’s.
Here’s a good example of tree issue. The big front tree doesn’t affect Liberty, however, the rear awning over the slide out cannot be fully extended because of tree branches that hinder extending and retracting.
Then there’s the issue of trees and obstacles (ie. permanent grills, poles, concrete or wood parking barriers, etc.). A lot of older parks or campgrounds may have nice shade trees and think they are doing you a favor however, if they are too close and not pruned or cut back, we run the risk of scratches on our full body paint and slide-outs or awnings being hindered from full operation of extending or retracting. Trees can be a double edged sword for us. Yes, they protect from wind and shade from hot sun, they also can be damaging to our coach.
Older campgrounds, parks and resorts have been surveyed and setup for smaller campers (ie. under 36′), so door placements are quite different than many of the bigger rigs. As well, there’s a difference between entrances of a Class A Motorhome than a 5’er or travel trailer. Most times, entrances to Motorhomes are near the front of the coach with 5’er and travel trailer more centered.
2) PAVED vs. GRAVEL vs. DIRT vs. GRASS:
We try to avoid dirt sites the best we can. Personally, just the idea of tracking in dirt constantly or wind blowing dirt around isn’t our forte’. It’s a choice most don’t mind however, we are finicky. We just put dirt sites last on our list. Nothing worse than the Captain having to go out after a torrential rainstorm to clean up what has splashed up all over the coach and her underbelly…and Captain America (our dually). Grass sites aren’t as bad however, we have to deal with mounds and leveling issues. Not forgetting to mention, critters tend to hide in the grass which can result in a short journey up to our rig in places we wouldn’t think of them entering. Gravel is ‘ok’; prefer finer gravel vs. larger chip stone because finer gravel allows our leveling jacks to settle better and more evenly. We noticed we get less shake. So, paved sites are ideal for us but not a deal breaker if they’re not. Its cleaner and nicer. You can ‘see’ things on the ground (ie. creepy crawlies, etc.) Also, you can store a few things under your coach and not worry about ‘things’ making homes around them as opposed to being on dirt or gravel.
Liberty on a ‘paved’ and level site on Galveston Island, Texas
3) LEVEL…KEEPING LIBERTY ON AN EVEN KEEL:
This is hugely important when parking. Yes, we are gifted with a 6-point hydraulic auto-leveling system and it’s awesome! With a push of the button, Liberty automatically levels itself giving us a message beep when its completed its leveling process. ‘Usually’, its right on within a degree or two. Sometimes though, we have to override the leveling system manually to get it to our liking. Nothing like trying to cook soups or having your peas roll off our plates because were not as level as we thought; kind of like being on a yacht…or a ship…or a boat…or a canoe. You get the picture. We can tell if Liberty is off a degree or two just by how cabinet doors and drawers close. We are now skilled by eye and feel when our coach is off a couple degrees. Captain Dan has this wonderful CLINOMETER app on his phone that he pulls up and places it on the floor if we feel ‘not level’. We always ask parks and resorts how level their sites are when making reservations. Nothing is more unnerving than having part of our site level with a slope or crowning which makes hooking and unhooking frustrating.
Ha! Boy did we learn our lesson on this one after our first few parking experiences. We would get all cocky thinking we were all set and unhook…well, that was until we start to put our slides out only to see that we were inches from the water spigot or the electric box or couldn’t extend fully. So, we’d have to button it all up and reposition Liberty. Placement of Liberty on a site is contingent on where the utilities are, where our slides coincide when extended and our entry steps. Again, older outdated facilities are more than likely to give us issues because back when they built and configured their campground in the 1940’s, slide-outs didn’t exist. Our electric on our toyhauler was mid-coach but on current Liberty, our electric cord is aft. We now have an extension if we find ourselves in a predicament of odd electrical box placement.
5) WiFi CONNECTIVITY:
WiFi connectivity is extremely important to us. We’ve learned not to depend on their ‘free’ WiFi (*eye roll*); most times is weak at best to nonexistent. Nothing is ‘free’. You always get folks who take more than they should and stream videos or movies leaving the rest of us out of connectivity. So, we need for our own service providers give us data coverage. We have an AT&T hotspot with 40 GB monthly data which we use mostly for Lisa’s work and trip/destination planning and a smaller data bank with Verizon for a backup in case AT&T doesn’t work and for keeping connectivity with family and friends and for leisure. For some RVers who work OTR, that’s a very small data plan; we know others who use upwards to 500 GB per month *GASP*. We have been in areas where neither work; mostly and coincidentally at military bases/posts. We think it has something to do with communication jamming because campgrounds on military bases/posts are usually near air command facilities. Its at those places where we concentrate less on internet and more on going out and doing things. We can always catch up later.
So, there’s the five things we research prior to making a reservation. Those are the necessities. Now that we’ve discussed all that, let’s now talk about our destination planning.
We usually sit together over morning coffee or campfire cocktail and talk about places that interest us (ie. National Parks, great hiking places, friends and family we wish to visit, etc.) Then on trip/destination planning day, we set up our table with laptop, IPad, and both of our cellphones, our road atlas, calendar book, two pencils, two pair of reader glasses and a couple books. This is when we need good connectivity.
We open our laptop up to a website called ‘RV Park Reviews‘ which is a compilation of campground and park reviews of fellow RVers. We rely on their reviews however, they also are ‘opinions’, so we take those into consideration. We also belong to several online forums and network with RVers with ‘like-minded interests’, standards and coach size/requirements. We all keep our own notes and those of us who blog, have our own RV Park Reviews section that we all can resort to; thus, we open a window to their blog or website. We also will open a window or two of potential park or resorts we’ve narrowed down to look at their rates, park site map, rules and other essentials.
We open our IPad to Google Earth. This is an incredible tool for not only locating the park and seeing its location in relation to the roads leading to it but also the park/resort site layout, obstructions, how many trees, close approximities to neighboring sites, how wide roads leading into sites, etc.
We use our phones to check out our interests (ie. National Parks, historic sites, hiking adventures, etc.) on Facebook groups (ie. RV 5th Wheels, Full-Time RVers, etc.) which we will post our queries on Facebook groups. In a matter of minutes, we oftentimes get our answers which is wonderful…and we reciprocate. Its called ‘networking’ and it works. We ask ourselves, ‘how on earth did RVers do it before the internet?’
While one of us is looking up the location we want as a destination, the other will research the park/resort reviews and Google Earth it to make certain of accessibility. We work as a team. Once we narrow down our choices, we make our phone calls to check availability. We have learned, to ALWAYS nail down reservations for holidays well in advance (ie. Memorial Day weekend, July 4th weekend, Labor Day weekend, etc.); sometimes even 6-12 months in advance. We’ve learned the hard way in regards to that subject…which…is a very SORE subject between ourselves and vowed never to leave ourselves without a place to go.
Once we’ve made our phone call and made a concrete reservation, we enter the information in our paper date book. Yeah, call us ‘old school’ but its what works for us. Other’s do it electronically but we like to have a datebook where we can pull it out at moment’s notice and see where we will be, when and for how long. We use highlighters to differentiate reservations. We make notes of the campground/park/resort, phone number, address, confirmation from whom we spoke with, and our total amount. Most places require a credit card to make the reservation and some don’t. For one or two night reservations, we pay cash (and tell them) and longer term, we pay via credit card. We always read the fine print of what the penalty is if we have to cancel a reservation or arrive later due to weather, RV or vehicle repairs or other unforeseen events.
When we arrive at our destination, I always have in hand a) our datebook, b) credit card or cash, c) any discount card (ie. military ID, Good Sam, Passport America, KOA, etc.) and good manners, a smile and patience. Once checked in, we go park; sometimes escorted by staff or volunteers but most times, we do it on our own. We NEVER allow anyone else other than ourselves to direct whomever is driving into our site. We work very well together with hand signals and commands. When we get positioned correctly, we unhook, level up, and plugs into electricity. Captain Dan puts out our yard art, puts up our flagpole, awnings out (if its not windy), outdoor carpet, grill, firepit and outdoor chairs while Lisa puts the slides out, checks for water leaks when Dan hooks up the water, and pretties up the inside and VOILA!
Yeah, we still get those nights where we stare at the ceiling with a zillion things going on in our head to wee hours of the morning…or is it the MSG in the Chinese food we had last night? But here I (Lisa) am thinking, ‘what’s a girl ta do’? Well, as LT John Dunbar in the movie ‘Dances with Wolves’ said in one of his lines, ‘I think I’ll write’. If you remember, he was a ‘paper blogger’ in the movie; although his was not read by hundreds or thousands, his blog was in a small handmade leather-hide book with irregular pressed paper pages. Nonetheless, he blogged to pass time and to record his thoughts for reference just like we do here.
Sooooooooo…I’m just going to write some random thoughts, just as LT Dunbar did, putting them down in our internet diary in hopes that perhaps I can maybe get some droopy eyelids at the same time, offer a bit of insight or advice to others who may seeking this wild adventure.
We’ve been doing this ‘RV thing’ for almost a year now and looking back, all we can say is ‘we’ve come a long way, baby!’ Several months prior to us actually throwing off the bow lines and putting our wheels on the highway to destinations unknown, our 30 year old son ran into another RV couple while on one of his ‘hard core’ camping trips in Colorado (he ‘camps’, not ‘glamps’ like us!). Quite interested in what we were about to embark on, our son boldly went up to the couple ooooo-ing and awwww-ing their rig (they had one of those big. fancy, drive-able, movie star, bus-like RV’s…his words) and asked, “if there’s one thing or word of advice you could give to my parents who are about to be doing the same thing, what would it be?” The man a little older than our age pondered that question for a short moment and came back with a Captain Obvious…“don’t give up in your first year”, he said, “that’s all…don’t give up because your first year is a learning process in EVERYTHING; marriage, smaller living conditions, new type of home engineering, diesel instead of gas powered tow vehicle, medical issues, finances, OH, the list goes on.”
So, as our year since has passed, we can honestly say, that was the BEST advice he or anyone could have given us and its advice we pass onto others who are following suit like us. It wasn’t advice of ‘which RV we should get’?. It wasn’t advice of ‘what truck has the best towing capacity’? It wasn’t advice on ‘oh, you should go here or go there’. The man’s advice was poignant and true; straight to the heart.
Approximately three months after taking delivery of “Liberty”, Captain Dan was out doing his weekly maintenance and canvassing the engineering processes and came inside looking quite perplexed. Now, if you know Dan, he’s always one who contemplates and carefully calculates E V E R Y T H I N G. I say that with endearment. He’s a ‘list guy’. He’s a ‘planner’. He’s meticulous. They are traits he acquired during his tenure in his 30 year Coast Guard career. And its certainly enviable personal characteristics to have when embarking on this type of action.
I asked him what ailed him and he looked at me and said, ‘I wonder if we made a $$$ mistake.’ Now, he’s rarely been a man of doubt so this kind of threw me for a loop for a moment. Sad, actually to see him like this. He said, ‘this is all so new and SO MUCH to learn’. I mean, this guy has been on every RV Tips, RV Tricks of the Trade online forums, bought RV maintenance books on Amazon, mastered YouTube videos (LOL for not being an ‘internet guy’!) that I swear I’ve never seen him seem so serious…or delirious? I just looked at him with my reassuring smile, ‘Boo, remember what the RVer man told our son, “don’t give up in our first year”. Okay then. Agreed! Never spoke of that moment again. Well, until now. The reason I’m blogging about this particular moment is it was an integral part of our growing. This was one of those ‘Come to Jesus moments’, it was either sink or swim. “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP!”
So, days went by, months skated past and now, here we are, almost to our 1 year “nomadiversary” and what a difference a year makes! BOTH of our confidence in this way of life not only boosted but surprised us. Yes, you CAN teach a dog new tricks. We’ve had early on, this agreement that he would take care of everything engineering and outside the coach and my job is trip planning, reservations, cooking, interior decorating, minding the finances, keeping the inside of Liberty clean and of course presenting him with new ideas someone else has shown on a forum or video (Oh boy!!).
I’m going to go on a bragging binge now. (Shhhhh, maybe Dan won’t read this!) To say the least, I’m every bit of proud of him because he didn’t give up the ship…maybe that’s why HE’s the CAPTAIN! His gears are always turning.
Remember I mentioned Dan’s watched YouTube videos, read forum after forum, etc.? Well, who better to get good ideas, advice and improvements than from others who have paved the way for us. Here’s a list of improvements that Dan has put his hard-working hands and engineering know-how into. Some may be or look simple but, again, RV engineering is quite different than an S&B (‘sticks and bricks’ house).
Changed the globes on the pendant lights. (took a little bit of alteration)
Installed stemware holders (a girl needs her wine glasses; even if they’re plastic)
Ordered, modified and installed a pullout pantry in the galley
Built and installed sewer hose housing underneath the steel frame
Installed JT StrongArms on leveling jacks (for added stability)
Individually replaced and changed out all 6 tires
Installed television in berthing (bedroom)
Installed rods inside laundry closet to keep my scarves, belts, small purses, etc.
Installed his Flag Pole Buddy
Hand-made a yard flag holder
Built wood leveling blocks
Researched and installed plugs to cover rivets on our deck patio railing
Built and installed sewer hose housing underneath the steel frame
Updated Light Globes and Installed Stemware Holders
Sewer Hose Storage
Installed JT StrongArms & Made Leveling Blocks
These are just a fraction of updates and improvements he’s made. In this RV living, its about improvising and in small scale. We are always mindful of our weight and keeping within warranty guidelines. We are a good team. We do well with what we are blessed with. We take extreme care of our ‘home on wheels’. It may take a couple times to get it right; a stern look or pat on the back.
So here we are, almost a year later. Other’s who park or camp next to or near us will spot something on our coach/camper/rig/landyacht and say ‘hey, that’s cool!’ and of course it always sparks up conversation and handshakes…and then to a campfire and cocktails…and friendship…and most important, we become a part of RV FAMILY.
We visited this Fort as it was recommended by a friend whom we visited in Broken Bow, Nebraska in 2015. Appreciating how we are interested in military history, this proved its worthiness and made a few of our brain cells shine.
Welcome to our blog! I guess this means we’re ‘big time’ now. We ask that you all be patient with us as we try out this blogging thing. Unless you’re a internet wizard (which we are not), this doesn’t come easy for us but we’re willing to give it a go.
We’ve read several other RVers blogs and figured we want to do the same.
As I write this entry, we are pleasantly parked at Cheatham Annex Naval Station “Kings Park” near Williamsburg, Virginia. Its a beautiful sunny day outside while I try my hand at blogging ‘inside’ while the Captain is doing outside chores.
So, please be patient as I chance this thing called ‘blogging’.