Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Products We WOULD NOT buy again:

 Here is a list of 5 products we WOULD NOT purchase again and why.

#1 - SureCall cell booster kit

Well like so many we had a misconception of what this actually does.  We thought the $486 system would have increased Internet speed so we could work from the road, but it does not.  We found out that all it does is help strengthen the cell signal for long range.  We used it once in the two plus years we have it to get one bar on our cell when boondocking.  We have a Pepwave system ($1,000) to increase Internet speed.

Check out Mobile Internet Resource Center video called mimo vs boosters: Do cellular boosters provide the best signal and data performance.

#2 - LevelMate Pro (not the pro plus)

So we got the LevelMate Pro device and app to save us time at setup, but from day one it never really worked.  Took time to connect to our phone app and sometimes would not connect.  Called LevelMate to troubleshoot the issue, they indicated that the receiver might be out of range, so we moved it not once but twice.  Finally moved it to the basement near the water system and still not worth the hassle.  LevelMate Pro cost us $140.  We purchased the bubble levels that stick to the outside of the rig for less than $11 and use them all the time.  I noticed that a YouTube channel is promoting using a level when setting up, not the levelmate pro; as they were before.

#3 - RV Trip Wizard

Mike wanted this to give it a try.  Me; I was happy with all the free apps to help plan our trip and map our routes.  So we paid $49 for a year and well… we will not renew.  Most campgrounds have dirt or gravel roads, so if you have the setting set to not route you on those roads it takes you out of the way and we found we double checked it and trusted Google maps more than RV Trip Wizard.  So paying $49 for a year of service and double checking against a FREE app everytime does not make sense to us.  Next month I will have an article on the free apps we use to plan out trips.

#4 - automatic transfer switch

Well after 1 ½ years our GoPower automatic transfer switch stopped working.  So what was automatic, now became manual due to a relay control board failure and because there is a parts shortage.  The automatic transfer switch cost us $150.  We had to purchase a manual switch anyway and that cost $26.  So you see where I am going with this?  

#5 - KOA membership

The KOA campgrounds are nice but pricey.  We really don’t have anything against KOA campgrounds, we just don’t seem to go to them.  These parks are great for families. 

The amenities are nice, people are friendly and the parks are clean and well maintained.  The main reason we cancelled our $39 membership is because of the price of the parks, they just don’t fit our budget.  Overnight stays cost between $40 to $100 per night, depending on where and when you stay and you do save 10% with your membership.  But for us it's not worth it.

Do you disagree?  What products did you purchase and now wished you hadn’t?  Let us know in the comments below.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

RV Decorating Mods - Summer 2021

This summer we did four decorating mods in our RV.  All these are budget friendly that anyone can do.

#1 - Valances

We changed the valances and I outline how to do this in the blog post link below.  The curtain panels we used from Walmart were about $11 for 2 panels, enough for all the windows in the RV.

#2 - Painting the slide trim on all three slides

Mike painted the trim on each slide (three) black.  It looks like a dry brush and it looks so much better.  We had the black paint so no cost, just time to do this mod.

#3 - Painted the bedroom wall blue 

Mike painted one wall in the bedroom blue to add a bit more color.  We used the same blue paint  from the kitchen / entry walls; so no cost, just time to do this mod.

#4 - Dining chair seat covers

We re-covered our dining area chairs.  I picked a blue pleather to make them easy to clean and keep with the blue color scheme.  Purchased the pleather from Amazon for about $10.

Not happy with the chairs but will do for now. Plan to replace them with a brown pleather storage ottoman for more storage. Like we have on the side of the loveseat.

What do you think?

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

2nd Nomadic Anniversary


Wow!  Two years already!  Where does the time go?

I hope you watch the video recap I posted on Facebook yesterday.  If not, here it is…

The main reasons we decided to full-time RV in our 40s/50s…

  1. To visit our parents and family in Montana, Florida, New York and Ohio.  Mike’s Mom has cancer and my Dad has COPD with heart issues, so that was our final nudge.  Mike and I spend winters in Florida with my parents and summer in Montana with his Mom and step-dad.  In between we visit my brother and his family, Mike’s aunts and cousins, and friends we have made along our journey.

  2. Life is too short and you don’t know how long you have in this life, so make the most of it.  I lost a friend, Tommy, to cancer when he was 40.  Mike’s Dad, Ray, passed away at 67.  So you don’t know how long you have.  Also we wanted to RV and have adventures, while we are still young and healthy. Money and things are just that “things” and money can always be made.

In two years we visited so many places and met some amazing friends.  We look forward to what the future has in store for us.

Thank you and God bless. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Roads & Trails

I know it has been awhile since our last post, but when you are stationary for a long time (6 months in Butte MT) not much goes on to report.  Last week Mike and I participated in Roads & Trails in Whitehall MT, sponsored by Christian Motorcyclist Association (CMA) of Montana State and WE HAD A BLAST!!!!!!!!!!

What is Roads & Trails?  It is a family weekend event, where you can ride motorcycles, dirt bikes, quads (4-wheelers) or dual sport motorcycles on roads or trails.  You meet your trail boss or road captain in the morning, plan your route, discuss safety, pray and then ride.  After your ride, you eat, fellowship and tell stories on each other during a slideshow of pictures and videos everybody takes during the day.

Our friend, Lori, let us borrow her quad 2-up on Friday, so Mike and I took turns driving on the dirt trails of Pipestone, Montana.  This was my first time driving, except for driving Aunt Betty’s 4-wheeler up and down her driveway this summer.  Mike taught me when to put it in low, to keep it level as much as possible and when to put it in 4-wheel drive.  I did great.  Our trail boss, Lois, took us up to Ringing Rocks, through easy trails and as we progressed in our confidence more advanced to the most advanced trails.  We stopped and had lunch with the kid group at Four Corners in Pipestone.  FYI, it looks like there are abundant RV spots for boondockers.  We rode from 10 AM to about 4 PM.

(Friday's ride)

(Us ladies)

Side note: I purchased a motorcycle jacket at the CMA state rally during a silent auction, plus we purchased 1storm helmets from Amazon for about $60 each before the Roads and Trails event.  Oh and I purchased motorcycle gloves for $10 through Amazon, before our weekend of fun riding on the dirt and rocky trails.  

(Mike driving - Nice helmet)

(Me in the white helmet and white motorcycle jacket)

On Saturday, Lori loaned the quad to me and a dirt bike to Mike.  It has been 36 years since Mike rode a dirt bike, so he took my motorcycle jacket since he is most likely to fall and hurt himself.  But he did great!  It was like riding a bike (pun intended).  His trail boss, “G”, took his son Alex, a CMA member from Wyoming Jeff and Mike to Flintstone house (nature formation in the mountains), the old granite quarry where they got the granite for the Butte courthouse stairs and some amazing challenging trails.  Mike only fell and dumped the bike about three times, but didn’t hurt himself because he had my jacket, gloves and a helmet.  Me on the other hand… that’s a different story.

(Flintstone House)

(taking a break)

So Ramona, JaraLee, and I followed our trail boss, Lois, through more advanced and most advanced trails throughout the day and I did great!  I used low gear and 4-wheel mode when needed, kept it level, was so confident that I would stand during the moguls on some of the trails.  I said I did great all until the trail to get us out of the Pipestone park.  Yep, you guessed it.  I tipped the quad and fell.  On the last trail there was a hill and at the top a sharp turn to go down hill and the quad I had was a bit long.  I took the corner but in doing so had to go up the bank to make the turn and was too much of a bank that I tipped the quad.  As it tipped I got scared and grabbed the handle bars but in doing so pushed on the accelerator and it got away from me and down we went (Melissa and the quad).  Thank the Lord I was wearing a helmet as my head hit the ground.  I scraped my elbow real good and bruised a few ribs, my hip and leg.  I should have been wearing my jacket, but Mike and I thought he needed it more as I did so well the day before.  As I hit the ground I rolled as I didn’t know where the quad was landing and didn’t want that heavy sucker landing on my legs or on me period.  

(Me all dirty and hurt)

As I jumped up to get to my feet and assess the situation, I was grateful to be second in our group, so I could stop Ramona and JaraLee behind me.  Lois noticed it was taking us too much time so she reversed course to see what the issue was and JaraLee flagged her down.  That is when we noticed my scraped up elbow.  The Lord sent three dirt bike riders on the same trail that we flagged down to help us right the quad and get us to level ground.  I mustered up the courage to get back on that “horse” and took my time getting off the trail.  I gingerly took my time getting back to base camp as the dirt road that kept guiding the quad off the road and I was a bit shell shocked to say the least.  I was determined not to let fear win and scare me from getting home.  The old Melissa would have said “call Mike to come and get me, I’m not doing this anymore.”  Sat there and pouted. Not the new courageous Melissa, she is determined to do things afraid and fight the fear as I don’t want the devil to win and steal my joy of living a life of adventure.  

What did I learn other than courage?  Well that the Lord was watching over me, as it could have been worse and he sent the three dirt bike gentlemen to help us, but looking back I got cocky in my ability and as I was turning on the steep bank I was thinking stop, reverse and straighten it out before continuing and I should have listened to that inner voice.  I also learned that I want a quad and want to do it again.  We can’t wait for next year’s roads and trails.  

(before the accident)

Mike and I want to thank our friends, Lori and Dan for letting us borrow the quad and dirt bike.  They were so understanding of the new scrapes.  

Remember to do things you are afraid to do… it’s called courage.  Who knows you might have a blast and enjoy your life.  Thank you and God bless. 

#roadsandtrails #roadsandtrailsmt #rnt #rntmt #cma #cmausa #cmamt #christianmotorcyclistassociation #christianmotorcyclistassociationusa

Monday, August 16, 2021

What happened?

I wanted to give you all a follow-up on what happened last week.  If you missed it below is a link to our blog post on Our Worst Travel Day.


We had so many of you ask us… How did that happen?  What could have caused this?  As are we.  We came up with scenarios as to what would have caused us to lose (shear off) seven of our eight lugs on the driver side rear tire on the truck.

Scenario 1 - Over torque

When we were on the side of the road last Saturday a man pulled over to see if we needed help, he talked to Mike and said he was a master mechanic.  Mike told him the situation and he said that over torque could cause this as it happened to him.

Scenario 2 - Our torque wrench is out of calibration

I asked the mechanic that worked on the truck and he said it does happen.  Mike checked ours to his step-dad’s and that is not likely.

Scenario 3 - Forgot to check and re-torque

This could be the most likely scenario.  Mike just painted the rims a few days before our travels to Lewistown, then Fort Benton and back to Lewistown.  We forgot to recheck the torque on the tires before heading back to Butte.  The mechanic indicated that the lug nuts on the other tires were a little loose.

The mechanic had to replace the lugs by dropping the axle in the parking lot. Then they put on our spare tire since the rim lug holes were oblong due to the wobbling of the wheel.  This cost us $187.45 and we camped in Walmart parking lot for two nights.  We were going to try to just find a replacement (similar style) rim, but the style of rim we had was discontinued 8 years ago so it would be impossible to find a new one. We thought about going to a salvage yard but being these were custom wheels we were afraid that the offset, etc. wouldn’t match the existing rims. So we broke down and purchased new rims for all four wheels for $1,060.  Then the TPMS sensors in the tire needed to be replaced because of the rim style, that was $160.  Mike and I decided to replace our spare tire with one of the good old rims (since there was a size difference between our spare and tires), so that was $40 for a used tire.

I know this was a bit of money, but so grateful that it was not as bad as it could have been.  The mechanic said that when an issue like this occurs, the tire usually comes off the truck and as the truck drops down it will land on the loose tire and damage the fender, brake rotors, etc.. Luckily our one lug held the tire on and this didn’t happen to us. 

So what did we learn… 1. Not only check tire pressure before leaving, but also the torque on all tire lugs.  2. The Lord is with us.  He is with you as well.  

Travel safe.  Watch out for one another.  God bless.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Our Worst Travel Day

Our worst travel day, yesterday (Saturday, August 7th), this is what happened…

We were staying with Mike’s Aunt Betty in Lewistown Montana.  While hitching up the camper to the truck, Mike stepped in dog poop.  (A sign of what’s to come.) He walked our dog Abby, earlier that morning and we forgot to pick up the poop.  After cleaning up his shoe and hitching up, we headed out on the road.  About eight miles down the road from Aunt Betty’s, we hear a noise (like something blew up or off) and the truck jerked.  I thought it was a tire, but Mike thought it was a head gasket on the engine as he started to see black smoke coming out the tailpipe.  So he pulls over, checks the engine with a quick glance and didn’t see anything.  He decides to take us a little further down the road to get us safely off the road.  As he was driving, he noticed the truck not driving correctly and the turbo sensor indicated that there was an issue.  We reach a big turn off area on the road to check the engine again.  This time he noticed the pipe from the turbo on the engine to radiator disconnected so he was able to fix it.

As we continued our trek to Butte, we kept the radio off and questioned to ourselves and each other every noise we heard.  Through Bozeman we noticed that the truck was not feeling correctly.  At first we thought it was the road, then Mike thought we lost a balancing weight on a tire as he experienced that before, I thought it was a tire.  We stopped in Whitehall for a rest stop and gas up before going over the mountains.  Mike checked the tires to pacify me.  He didn’t notice anything.  So we continued.  Not long on interstate 90, a lady (or angel) in an all-white class c camper towing a small all white car, pulls alongside us then pulls in front of us, slows down and flashes her lights and is pointing out the window.  Mike passes her but as we pass we see her waving at us and pointing at a tire, so Mike pull off the next exit, Pipestone.  We just made it off I 90, we stopped on the shoulder at the top of the exit and Mike could see our driver side rear tire barely on.  When we got out we saw with horror that our tire was only on by one of eight lugs and lug nuts.  Seven lug studs have been sheared off (gone, nothing holding them on).  This lady or as I call her an angel stopped to see if we were ok.  I think she was so afraid for us and others.  She saved us and others from a possible accident.  (I say lives but Mike says I exaggerate.)

Mike tried to tighten that one lug to get us down the exit ramp to the bottom on level ground, but the tire said “uh no” or it would have fallen off.  Mike could see how it was wobbling and not safe.  We called Coach-Net, our roadside assistance company, to send a flatbed truck and bumper pull hitch to come and get us and take us to Butte.  Mike called his Mom and step-dad that live in Butte to possible pickup lugs and nuts at the auto part store and bring them to us to fix and limp to their home.  When they arrived Mike and his step-dad Jerry determined that they couldn’t fix it on the side of the road.  We were towed (truck and camper) to Butte.  The camper was parked at the Walmart parking lot and the truck to the auto shop across the street.  Now we wait to see how much the truck repair will cost and take.

I say and believe the hand of God was over us, for numerous reasons… we just renewed our Coach-Net membership last month; the engine made us more aware of noises and signals around us; the lady in white spotting our tire is an angel from God; we got safely off the road and on the flatbed with one lug; the tow vehicle could take both our truck and home; it happened when it was still light out until 9 pm so it was safer to deal with this issue; it happened 30 minutes outside Butte, close to Mike’s Mom; Mike’s Mom had an extra vehicle for us to get around until our truck is fixed; I kept my peace during the whole situation yesterday (today I cried thinking about it and gave God praise); and on and on.  God is with us and He is good.

Be safe out there.  Watch other drivers and make them aware of issues you see.  Have a good roadside membership.  Our membership with Coach-Net covers the tow for the truck and camper.  Safe travels and God bless.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

RVing with a Dog

Our dog, Abby, is 14 years old.  In the two years we have been RVing, she has adapted well.  This post is about her and caring for her while on the road.

Abby is a springer spaniel and even for a senior dog she is still very energetic.  We walk her twice a day and manage her weight.  Every summer while at our summer home base (my mother-in-law's driveway), Abby get’s her annual checkup and all caught-up on her shots.  We also get her prescription refilled for heartworm, flea and tick prevention.

Every six weeks we groom her and have her nails trimmed.  In the two years RV living, we have not found it an issue finding a groomer for her nails.  PetSmarts are almost everywhere and a lot of vets will do walk-in nail clipping.

We have a monitoring system to keep watch of her while we are out shopping or sightseeing.  We contain her in the main living area to prevent her from jumping on the bed which I feel is too high for her.  Turn the TV on to block out the outside noise and close the blinds, to prevent her from barking at our neighbors. We have two baby monitor cameras that we have hooked up to the WIFI that we can access while we are out to monitor her.  We also have a temperature monitor system that is also hooked up to the WIFI that we can check while out. It will also alert us on our phones if the temp gets too high or too low.

This past two years, we had to take Abby to an emergency vet twice this year.  Early this year, she gave us a scare.  We had to keep her overnight at the West Palm Beach Emergency Vet, because she had old dog vertigo.  After the stay and medication, in just a few days, she recovered.  Then in June, we had to take her to the vet because she had a UTI.  Again after a few days and medication, she was healed.

She is a good travel companion and she loves spending all her time with us.  We love spending all our time with her and look forward to traveling with her for many years to come.

Thank you and God bless.