Friday, February 24, 2017

One Kit Every RV Woman Should Have

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Dozens of  RV things are made easier or more fashionable with easy-to-install grommets.  

Make a Hole in One

    Usually this blog’s focus is on the social and travel aspects of RV fun. The campfires. The trips. The freedom. The friendships.
    Then this week I went gaga for a simple grommet tool set that has me punching holes all over the place. It’s one of the most practical tools in my very limited bag of handygirl skills. 

    You’ve seen grommets in shoes, garments and handbags.  Sometimes they are a fashion touch, forming a design in jeans or a skirt. Sometimes they have a practical purpose such as making a hole in a backpack to hang an extra carabiner. 

    In the RV life, grommets create durable holes in all kinds of camping fabrics from the awning to the RV’s windshield sun cover to curtains. One clever RV woman even put grommets in a flat piece of canvas to made slip covers that she laces on with leather thongs. They fit tight, are easy to remove for washing and they look like high-styled custom decor.

    Here’s how to get started in grommet wizardry without spending a lot of time and money. 

    * Make new RV curtains with your favorite fabrics.

* Make custom size fitted sheets for your odd-shaped RV mattress by putting grommets in flat sheets. Secure with elastic or cord. 

* Put vent holes in your storm coat, sun hat and workout clothing to make them more comfortable in hot weather. 
  * Put plenty of grommets around the edges of your beach towel. Use inexpensive plastic tent stakes (seen above) in the sand to keep it from blowing away. 

    * Make tarps and  sun flies of any size from outdoor fabrics such as Sunbrella. They stow in little space. Hang them around the campsite to make shade. 

    * Canvas can be used as replacement fabric for webbing in folding lawn chairs.  Make sturdy, generous hems and install grommets in them. Then lace the fabric to the frame.  

    * Put grommets near each corner of the tablecloths you use on campsite picnic tables. Fasten with cord or bungee to keep them from blowing away. 

    * Need an extra notch in the dog’s collar or your belt? Protect it with a grommet. 

    * Are there things you could secure with bungee if only they had sturdy holes in them? 

  * It takes only one small grommet in the corner of a towel or wash cloth to make it hang-able on the smallest nail or hook.   
    * Take a cue from pilots, who put bright flags on parts of the plane that need to be opened, closed or checked before takeoff. Did you ever  drive away with your step extended or TV antenna not folded down? Flag it!
Need to know:
    * Grommets come in many sizes. Find them online and in craft stores, automotive stores, fabric shops.
    * Grommets come in many materials from cheaper aluminum and steel to rust-proof brass, stainless and plastics including clear plastic. Consider strength, durability, washability. They also come in colors.

Always have emergency meals on hand or in camp. Survival Food Handbook shops the supermarket for familiar, affordable, shelf staples and provides recipes for turning them into great meals.

Friday, February 17, 2017

RV Camping Games for Indoors, Outdoors

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The Games We RV-ers Play

    The human need for social interaction hasn’t been totally replaced by smart phones and iPads.  At least not yet.   We still need games to play in the RV on rainy days. Outdoor games to play on a small campsite. Games we share with guests and campground neighbors of all ages.

    In RV travel, games are a way to make new friends in campgrounds, enjoy the company of family or friends who are on board, to exercise body and mind.  Here are ideas for smart, fun, compact games to take on the road with you. Most can be played by as few as two people.

Stomp Rocket is a run-and-stomp outdoor romp for active children, tweens and young adults. Pro: It’s ideal for active families who camp where wide open spaces are available. Con: It is light weight but requires space to play.  

Bocce ball is a common outdoor game in Europe. (pronounced BAH-chi).  Pro: It’s as much fun as bowling or croquet but can be played on a very small space.  Con: It’s compact but heavy. The best sets are not cheap.

Cribbage is a time-honored table game favorite, often handed down through generations in cribbage boards like this beautiful hardwood set. Pro: compact, play almost anywhere. Con: it takes time to learn.

Lawn Darts no longer have knife points. They are fun exercise in a small space AND these glow in the dark. 

Yard Dice is a good choice to play at the campsite. Pro: make up  many different ways to play with these 3.5-inch dice.   Toss or roll them on a small campsite. Con: bulky to stow.

Dominoes are a favorite indoor game. Pro: takes up little space, stows in a sturdy tin box, develops math skills in players 8 and over.  Rules are simple. Smaller children can turn them into building blocks. This set in a tin case will last for years.

Playing cards are a must for all ages, all skill levels. Pro: light to carry and stow. Almost everyone you need knows how to play at least one card game. Durable. Stow in their own plastic case. 

Ring toss: an oldie but goodie for all ages. Featherweight to carry in its own case. No complicated rules. Low cost. More compact than almost any other outdoor game. 

BullZiBucket is popular for tailgate parties, the beach and camping. Toss at the target. it’s a sophisticated game yet can be played many ways for different ages and skills. Breaks down to carry its own backpack. Only a tenth the size and weight of cornhole.

Board Games 
    Shop for age-appropriate table games that challenge and entertain. New themes include
     RV and Camping (Rally Ho, Camp, Fishing Camp)
     National parks (Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly all have national park versions. Other such games include  Trekking National Parks, Yellowstone, Jr. Rangerland)
     Nature  (Wildcraft, Nature Bingo, Appalachian Trail Card Game)
     Travel Theme Board Games   Names include JAX Sequence States and Capitals, 10 Days in the USA, Melissa and Doug License Plate Game and Spinning Hat Travel Trivia. )

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Checklinst for your RV Guest List

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Every RV is different. It's wise to give your guests some guidance, even if they are RVers.

Checklist for Your
RV Guest List
 Your RV looks like a home and it does almost everything you expect a home to do. Problems begin when your guests treat it too much like a house and not enough like a vehicle. For day visitors a quick check-out will do. For overnight guests, you may want to print out more of a Welcome Aboard list.

Here are some things they need to know. (If you can add to this list, please leave as a Comment.)

 * The old sailor’s sayings are, “Don’t put anything in this head (toilet)  that you haven’t eaten first” and “There are no plumbers at sea.”  Remind guests that the RV toilet empties into a tank that empties into a hose that eventually reaches a sewer. If anything hangs up along the way, well, you don’t want to know. Provide a waste basket in the bathroom and tell them it is for EVERYTHING except your RV-friendly toilet paper and you-know-what.

 * Kitchen plumbing should be respected too.  No grease.  No wasted water. No Drano (unless your owner’s manual says it’s OK.) Use a rubber scraper to pre-clean dishes.

 * A generator or inverter can provide household power, but it may have to be rationed or juggled. Induction burners can use as high as 3,300 watts. Appliances such as the air conditioner, compressor type refrigerator and air compressor have much higher starting loads than running loads. You don’t want a well-meaning guest to start blowing up beach toys outside at the same time you’re cranking up the AC inside. Communicate. 

 * Seat belts are smart and are also the law.  Whether it’s the passenger seat or the "living room" sofa, my wheels don't move until you’re buckled up.

 * At rest the RV may have automatic or manual jacks to keep it  steady. When it’s not jacked up, it can  rock and shock at unexpected  times. It is, after all, a vehicle. Some large slides also need their own jacks before the kids start rough-housing.

 * Show guests where to find and how to open all exits including emergency exits. Show guests fire extinguishers and the locations of light switches for both 12-volt and 110-volt lights.

 * Even the largest motorhome is a small space and steam builds up quickly. Our rule is to use the bathroom fan when showering.

 * An RV carries its own utilities and they are limited. Depending on hook-ups, explain today’s special needs. For example, you may be hooked up to unlimited incoming water, but you still have to be conservative so the waste water tank can handle it. Or, you could get only 30-amp service even though your RV needs 50 amps to use everything at once.

Do you use your RV as a guest house on your property? Let others take your RV on road trips? How has it worked out for you? Please share with a Comment.

Janet Groene's newest book is Survival Food Handbook, a guide to stocking your camper, boat, home or vacation cabin with shelf-stable foods from the supermarket. No high-priced survival foods needed.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Best RV Freebies on the Road

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Never Pass up a
Visitor Center

Love freebies? The best free advice RV travelers can find on the road is at official Visitor Centers/Centres in the U.S. and Canada.
How can you make the best of these resources?

It may be called a Visitor Center, Visitor Information Center or Welcome Center. In some small communities, the Chamber of Commerce also serves as the welcome center. The key word is official.

Start with a search for Visitor+Center+State (or region or city).

* You’re looking for centers sponsored by state, regional or local  authorities. In tourist areas,  don’t be lured by big signs for tee shirt shops, discount Disney ticket sellers  and other for-profit businesses that call themselves information centers.

* Scope it out ahead of time,  by phone if necessary, to make sure there is parking for an RV.  Ask about other facilities. It may also have spacious grounds, dump station,  a dog walk area, picnic tables and playground equipment. 

  * State and provincial welcome centers are usually found at interstate exits at heavily
 traveled entry points from adjoining states. Note their hours of operation, which may vary seasonally.

* Most have brochure racks,  clean restrooms and free maps. Many also offer discount coupons for camping, hotels or meals. Ask.  Some  sell state fishing or hunting licenses. Staffers may also be willing to call around and get a last-minute campground reservation for your.

* The center may offer an app or CD describing a self-guided driving or walking tour of the area.  Ask.

* Spend time here to stretch your legs, rest your eyes. The best staffers love to talk about where you’re from and where you’re going. The more you chat, the more insider information you get.

* Don’t fail to sign the guest book. Their funding is based on the amount of traffic they get.

* Shop here for  souvenirs. If they sell local arts and crafts, local citizens benefit.  

* Take time to look at the center’s exhibits. Some centers are like small museums, well worth a lingering visit.

Outstanding Visitor Centers include:
If you have a favorite welcome center, please leave a comment and share. 

Detroit Mexicantown Downtown Welcome Center, Michigan,  overlooks the Detroit River.  It has vending machines, picnic tables, restrooms and an RV dump station.
            St. Augustine (Florida) Visitor Welcome Center has a special parking area for RV’s. Leave the RV here, see the movie, then walk the nearby historic area.
            Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, Orick , in the Redwoods region of California. The complex offers ranger talks, a film, books, souvenirs and beach access.

Enter through Janet Groene’s author site, then do your Amazon shopping. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Fresh Look at RV Travel

blog copyright janet groene. This blog has had more than 128,000 views.  To ask about rates to place one ad, one year, all Groene sites,  email

This just in, a new chewing gum for athletes, active travelers and others who can't always brush. It is minty, refreshing,  contains no aspartame and is sweetened with dentist-approved xylitol.

Go Ahead
Get Fresh with Me
    We all know the feeling of being a bit sticky-whiffy after a workout or busy day.

     In an RV we can’t always pop in and out of the shower every time we feel like it. Sometimes we are conserving water, or we don’t have time to take the “path to the bath”,  or it's a lot of work to wipe down the bathroom each time, or your skin is just too dry to take extra showers. 

    Here are some ways to make do.

    * Commercial spray-on bathing substitutes are costly. Make your own. Start with a fine mist sprayer that can be refilled over and over. Fill it with a cup of water and a teaspoon of Avon Skin So Soft (moisturizes) or a tablespoon of Listerine mouth wash (no oil). Shake well before using. Spray on. Wipe off with a nubby towel. 

    * Instead of disposable hand wipes to take fishing and hiking I make reusable wipes. These fluffy white wash cloths are cheap and durable. In a bowl mix 2 cups water, 1 cup rubbing alcohol and a drop of tea tree oil or  essential oil of choice. Wring out washcloths in this solution, fold and seal each in a snack bag. In hot weather, keep them in the icebox or freezer.  Bleach them clean in the next wash load. 
      * Herbal cool wipes were developed for women with hot flashes are but a boon to all ages and all genders. Several brands are available.  They are formulated to cool the skin for up to 30 minutes.
      * Even if you don't wear makeup, a sweaty face feels better after a wipe-down with a makeup remover wipe
    * These disposable,  supersize bathing wipes are developed for sick room use. One or two are enough for a refreshing, overall wipe-down.  

    * After getting down and dirty in touch football or rock climbing, rub soiled areas with a super-gentle shaving cream.  Rub in or use a soft brush. Wring out a washcloth in clean water to wipe it off. You'll be clean and the cream leaves a spicy scent.

    * Too cold to go out with a wet head?  No time for a hair-do.  Use a waterless shampoo.

    * No-rinse body baths are ideal for the sick room or a quick body refresher. Follow label directions.

Important Tips on RV Freshness
* Read labels. Some cleaners must be kept away from eyes and other sensitive areas.
* Some wipes are more oily than others. You may prefer a type that does not leave a greasy coating and make you feel hotter. 
*  If you're allergy-prone, try a little of the cleaner first in case you are sensitive to ingredients such as oils or spices. If it’s sold as fragrance-free, is it really non-allergenic?
* My grandmother’s formula for a spit bath? Wash down as far as possible. Wash up as far as possible. Then wash Possible. LOL. I’ll see you down the road.