Friday, August 18, 2017

Party Time in the Campground

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Let’s Throw a Party!

Remember when you could give a party for 20 people in your dorm room? Playing hostess at your campsite is a snap by comparison.  Here’s how to have a whale of a party in a sardine-size space.

* First, check  campground regulations. Non-registered guests are probably not allowed in the camping area.  Observe campground quiet hours and rules regarding alcohol.  

* Hanging or attaching  ANYthing on trees may not be allowed and you may not be permitted to bring your own firewood. 

* Make reservations well in advance to get your group’s campsites as close together as possible. You’ll also need a reservation if you want to use the clubhouse or picnic pavilion. These are usually booked weeks, even months in advance. 

* Round up extra camp chairs, disposable dinnerware and lots of trash bags. I love these collapsable trash bins.  Line them with disposable trash bags to use over and over. At the party, have one for recyclables, another for general trash. 

* Bring lots of coolers, lots of ice. Aluminum cans or plastic bottles are lightest to carry and easiest to serve, chill, recycle. 

* Extra tarps and sun flies don’t take up any storage space. They’re easily rigged to provide extra shade.

* Set up several self-serve stations around the campsite for drinks and food so guests don’t all cluster in one spot.  Have several trash stations around the site too.

* Try to keep everything outdoors if possible. Guests who want to help can be stationed outside the door while you hand down dishes from the RV.  

* To make maxi use of a mini oven, buy foil casseroles in the largest size that will fit. Safety note: disposable foil pans are heavy and floppy. Put them on a cookie sheet for safer handling.

* One way to serve a big crowd is to make nosebag lunches in advance. Use gaily colored paper bags or tie lunches in bandanas, hobo style. (They cost less than a dollar each and they  make colorful souvenirs. 

*  Classy sandwiches easily made in advance might include sharp cheddar on rye with chutney and crisp bacon, cream cheese with jelly on nut bread,  or provolone with thinly sliced tomato and sweet onion. Complete the menu with a shiny apple,  a packaged brownie and a napkin.  

* Platters of finger foods are always good: sliced watermelon, corn dogs, sliders, raw veggies, raw oysters on the half shell, poppers, cookies, cupcakes, chips. 

See Janet Groene's smart and shortcut recipes for camping and RV trips at 

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Trio of Top Ten Lists for RV Trips

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Your RV Travel Bucket List
3 Top 10 Lists
  10 most visited national parks
  10 most luxurious RV parks
  10 best state parks 

What do others say about the best of the best? Here's how others rate the great RV destinations. 

America’s Most Visited National Parks
Does your RV travel bucket list include visiting as many national parks as time allows? Here’s the Top Ten for visits according to the National Parks Conservation Organization. 


1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the eastern U.S.  is the nation’s most visited, with more than 11 million visits each year.

2. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

3. Yosemite National Park, California

4. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

5. Zion National Park, Utah

6. Yellowstone National Park in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming

7. Olympic National Park, Washington

8. Acadia National Park, Maine

9. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

10. Glacier National Park, Montana,  with not quite 3 million visits per year

Top Ten Luxury RV Resorts

Do you like luxury activities, amenities like spa and golf and rich neighbors? We found an RV lot for sale in a Florida luxury RV resort for $350,000, with maintenance fees an additional $2,800 per year.  That's just for a place to park your RV in a fancy gated community. According to, the nation’s Top 10 Luxury Camping Resorts are

1. Zion River Resort outside Zion National Park, Utah

2. Bella Terra, Gulf Shores, Alabama

3. Norrmandy Farms, Cape Cod

4. Shady Dell, Bisbee, Arizona

5. Bluewater Key RV Resort, Key West, Florida

6. Poison Motorcoach and RV Park, Montana

7. Aztec RV Resort, Fort Lauderdale

8. Petoskey RV Resort, Michigan

9. Mountain Falls Luxury RV Resort, North Carolina

10. Solstice Motorcoach Resort, Nevada

Top Ten State Parks
According to Fodor’s the nation’s Top Ten State Parks are

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

2. T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Florida

3. Adirondack Park, New York

4. Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

5. Itasca State Park, Minnesota

6. Franconia Notch  State Park, New Hampshire

7. Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

8. Slide Rock State Park, Arizona

9. Lime Kiln Point State Park, Washington

10. Custer State Park, South Dakota

See Janet Groene's easy recipes for camping and RV trips at 

Friday, August 4, 2017

RV Checklists: Safe, not Sorry

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A Checklist of Checklists

    My friend DeeAnn was two days into her RV trip from Ohio to Maine  when her credit card was refused for a Walmart purchase. Wisely, her credit card company flagged the charge as a possible theft. It was “suspect activity” for the card to be used so far from DeeAnn’s home address.   Before she left home,  she could have called the company to alert them to expect such charges. 
    Checklists are lifelines to the RV woman. Keep yours on your phone, iPad, clip board or spiral notebook. Each list must be precise and personalized to you and your trip, such as letting your pet sitter know how to reach you in an emergency or getting a SIM card for Canada or  having someone water your prize hydrangeas. How many of these will work for you?

Leave Home Checklist. Before your RV trip, stop the mail, set the alarms and let a neighbor or loved one know your route and contact information. These sound like no-brainers but trust me, you’ll feel better seeing them checked off in writing.  Load clothes and shoes for the places you’re going. Put an ICE (In Case of Emergency)  number in your smart phone. Bring your DNR.
    Check due dates on monthly bills and know how you’ll handle them while you’re gone. Pickup dry cleaning. Return library books. Arrange for your cousin’s 25th anniversary present to arrive on time.

Startup Checklist.  This list should be used before every startup, even if you’ve just stopped for fuel. Walk all the way around the rig to eyeball tires. Make sure slides and  hatches are closed, the step is in and there are no puddles from leaking hoses or tanks. Are inside cupboards and fridge closed, no loose gear on counter tops. Propane oven and furnace off? 

Annual Checklist. Month by month, list when to review insurances and warranties. Even if you use the RV only in season it’s good to have reminders of things that have to be done infrequently such as reserving campsites, renewing your driver’s license and paying dues in FMCA. In addition to warranties on the RV itself, the meter is ticking on things inside the RV such as the television and  microwave and the 90-day free trial on the mattress. 

Emergency Pantry Checklist. No matter how small your RV it’s wise to have enough food on hand for two or three extra days.  Roads close. Engines quit. Plans change. Stuff happens. Stash away a good balance of  foods,  safe and separate, and re-do as often as possible. It takes little space to keep a small supply of protein bars, dried fruit, rice,  Spam, canned beans.

Hookup Checklist. A checklist of hookup routines is useful when you break camp too so you don’t leave behind your own water pressure regulator, clothes in the dryer or pigtail. It addition to the written list it’s also wise to hop out of the RV after pulling out of the campsite and quickly check the site for items left behind. 

What is on your checklists? Email me at

Friday, July 28, 2017

Bathroom Hacks for Your RV, Camper, Motorhome

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Eight Great Must-Haves
For Milady’s RV Bathroom

The reason we have an RV in the first place is to have a complete home everywhere we go.  No grotty gas station rest rooms for us!  With an RV we can choose our own bedding, towels, soap,  toilet paper. We can close the door and be at “home” anywhere the highway takes us.  
No matter how large your motorhome’s loo,  or how tiny your Class B’s biffy, here are eight great items to have in that all-important RV bathroom.

1. A waste basket, even if it’s just an small trash stasher sold for cars. Don’t throw anything non-organic, such as dental floss, tampons or even baby wipes, in an RV toilet. 

2. Plenty of towel racks and hooks where towels and washcloths can be hung to dry. When they come from the factory, new RV’s never have enough drying space.   Look for versatile towel holders that  fold out of the way when not needed. If space allows, a spring-loaded shower curtain rod is also a good place to dry towels and light laundry. Put it up in the shower stall or elsewhere as needed.

3. A clothes hamper  or mesh laundry bag. 
From the first night you spend on board, laundry happens. You need a well-ventilated place to stash it until washday. 

4. A really good squeegee.  I discovered this one while boating and it's  the best I've ever used. And, unlike squeegees with a metal frame, there is nothing to rust. The better you can dry down wet surfaces, the less dampness remains.  

5. An anti-mildew shower curtain

6. A personal toilet kit for each person on board. It is easily stowed underway and, if you want to use a campground shower room, just grab it and go. This mesh shower/bathroom caddy  is portable and made of tough mesh that drains and dries quickly.

7. Air fresheners and deodorizers. Each woman will have her favorites here, from pre-poo toilet drops to sprays. Think compact, automatic, carefree but avoid 110V plug-ins that work only when you’re  hooked up.  

8. A wall-mount dispenser for body wash, shampoo, conditioner. In a tiny bathroom space it’s usually possible to mount a unit handy to both the sink and the shower. Because it's permanently screwed to a wall,  invest in a high quality, stainless steel unit that will last a long time. 

See Janet Groene’s Foil Recipe of the Month, a meal cooked in foil and eaten from the foil, at

What’s your RV bathroom must have? Leave a Comment. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Home Again from Your RV Travels. Now What?

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Coming Home: 10 Ways to UN-Trip Your RV

You’ve home again after a wonderful RV trip. You’re exhausted but energized  with great travel memories. It’s time to put away the RV, safely and with gratitude,  until next time.

Do it right and it will pay off in an easier departure  next time. It will also pay back eventually in resale value.

Do you live in your RV full-time? These tips work for you too when you get to a place where you have time to catch up on your housekeeping. 

Make a shut-down checklist, just as you have a start-up checklist. Here are ways to UN-trip your motorhome, RV or camper for short-term storage. (We’ll cover long-term  lay-up at another time.) 

* Empty the black water tank as late in the home-bound trip as possible, preferably after a long run, so solids are stirred up. The tank will drain more thoroughly. It’s also good to store the rig with the fuel tank full and ready to go. 

* Launder everything, even if you slept on the sheets only one or two nights. Modern fabrics have a special affinity for body soil. That’s why we like fabrics that “wick away body heat and sweat”.  However, odors and stains stay in these fibers and develop stinks and stains, even in garments, bedding and towels that were used briefly.   

* Deal now with any stains in upholstery or carpeting. The longer they set, the tougher it will be to dislodge them.  

* Charge all batteries and battery-operated accessories like the Dust Buster. For longer storage times, remove batteries so they don’t leak and corrode. (Don’t forget the TV remote and the kids’ toys). 

* If possible, put galley gear through your home dishwasher from time to time. The hotter water and harsher detergent will rout out soil that is missed in hand dishwashing. Don’t forget the cutting boards and the crumb tray from the toaster oven. 

* Remove opened food packages and anything that could attract roaches or mice. After washing the fridge, leave the door ajar for air circulation. 

* Covered storage is a plus. If not, close curtains and use shades where possible such as in  the windshield and over the tires. 

* Leave drawers and interior doors ajar for air circulation.

* In some situations it’s wise to use jacks so tires don’t develop flat spots. If you leave the refrigerator on it’s essential that the rig is stored level. 

* Lastly, set off a bug bomb as you close the door for the last time, especially if you have had a pet on board.  If any fleas or flea eggs were left behind, they continue to breed. I’ve heard horror stories of people being swarmed by starving fleas as they stepped into an RV that had been stored for even a few days. 

What’s on your shut-down checklist? Please share by leaving a Comment.
See Janet Groene’s easy recipes for RV travel at Camp And RV Cook

Friday, July 14, 2017

8 Ways to Save RV Battery Power

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Do your slides require battery power to open and close? Know all the places in your RV that require electricity. The full list may surprise you.

8 Ways to Conserve
RV Battery Power

    By now you know that your RV batteries allow you to light up and cool down even if you are not plugged in or running a generator. 

    Known as the “house” batteries (as different from your engine’s “start” battery)  they are designed for long periods of use. Even if you operate on household power that is supplied by an inverter, it’s the batteries that provide the juice.

    House batteries are charged when you plug into an electric hookup and may also be charged by solar panels or running the engine. 

    How long and how strong depends on how you use them. Here’s how to make them last longer.

    1. First, know what items in your RV draw on battery power. It isn’t just lights and a 12-volt fridge. It’s pumps, electronic ignition in the gas stove and gas furnace, entertainment electronics, the electric awning, vent fans, slides  and the chargers for your phones and other devices. It’s easy to forget that you’re using battery power when, say, flushing the toilet or  running the electric step in and out. 

    2. Learn new habits when it comes to using juice. You can’t just take it for granted any more. For example, when running the fridge on battery power you can turn off the automatic icemaker, which uses extra power. 

    3.   Even if you’re not tech savvy, have a general idea of what appliances are the biggest battery drainers. Generally, that’s is anything that makes heat such as a 12-volt hair dryer or slow cooker. Do the lights go dim when a motor kicks in? That too is a clue to high energy use. 

    4. When you plug into shore power don’t forget to fully charge all your rechargeables including tools, flashlights and the Dust Buster. When recharging from an inverter, unplug chargers when finished or they will continue to consume power. 

    5.  As much as possible switch to LED bulbs. They give much more brightness for much less power. 

    6. You don’t have to go to a complete solar installation to make use of sun power. The RV market offers solar vent fans that are easily installed on existing overhead vent spaces. Automotive and office supply  markets offer inexpensive windowsill solar phone  chargers for phones and other small appliances. This solar fan cools the refrigerator vent when the RV is parked in hot sun.

    7. Watch that energy waste when you are outdoors and using RV power. Replace awning lights with LED bulbs. Use LED lanterns outside instead of the RV’s lights. Keep tabs on the kids when they are using 12-volt inflaters for beach toys. In fact, this is a good time to educate kids in all types of energy conservation. In an RV, supplies are limited.

    8.  Explore alternatives to 12-volt appliances. Heat water on the gas stove to use in a drip coffee maker or French press. Devise a fireless cooker to replace the slow cooker. Snuggle under a goose down duvet instead of a 12-volt electric blanket. 

         When we were kids, Dad always reminded us to turn off the lights when we left the room. It's still a good habit to have. 
See Janet Groene's RV-ready recipes at htttp:// 


Friday, July 7, 2017

12 Great RV Space Savers

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12 Smart Ways to
Save Space in Your RV

    Today’s marketplace offers many space-pinching gadgets but your RV moves. That means stored items must be secured, not just stowed.  

    Hanging from a hook, an item will sway from road motion and scar the wall. Left on a open shelf, items will fall out when you round a tight corner. In a panic stop, things leap off shelves and hit you in the back of the head.  
       Here are ways to help you carry more items, more secure and handier too.


* Invest in a lifetime supply of square, space-efficient, stackable,  storage modules for food, hobby supplies, nuts and bolts.  Square and rectangular containers store better than round. Small containers here
Larger square containers here


* Instead of throw pillows, buy or sew pillow shams and covers. Stuff them with things you have to store anyway such as down vests, beach towels, extra linens, fleece throws, lingerie, knits. Bonus points: these refillable covers are usually machine washable.

* Designed to roll between washer and dryer, these rolling storage shelves will fit a nook or cranny in your RV. They  are only 5 inches wide. Once it’s in its nook, devise a strap to keep it in.   

* Save ribbed tops from worn-out socks and use them as storage sleeves for rolled sun hats, bras and paired shoes and slippers. 

* Pull out the drawers in your RV galley and see if there is any wasted space behind them. Often there’s enough room in what I call “dead storage” to stow lightweight supplies such as tissue boxes and toilet paper. 

* This high quality “shelf” rolls up for storage. It unrolls to fit over the sink as a drainer, defroster or shelf space. I love its easy-cleaning lines for the galley.
 roll up sink drainer.

* Raise your computer monitor and add storage space too. See this space saving
monitor stand  

* Attach these grippers anywhere. They are just the right size for spice bottles.
Spice bottle gripper 

* Tuck in your scarves and paired socks or hose in this hanging scarf holder.

* Swing-out towel racks are always a plus in the kitchen and bath areas of the RV, especially when they are heavy duty, high quality stainless steel like this one.

* Most rolling storage shelves are at least five inches wide, which is necessary for storing most food or laundry supplies. However, this little gem is only 3.5 inches wide. That’s ideal for spices. Rolling spice storage shelves only 3 ½ inches wide see

See easy recipes for camping and RV travel at New feature, Foil Recipe of the Week is a recipe you can cook in, and eat from, foil. No dishes to wash! 

My friend Laurie bought a used RV that had belonged to a smoker. She washed hard surfaces and rented a carpet cleaner but the stink remained in upholstery until she unzipped the covers and gave them a home dry cleaning  in her dryer. While covers were off she sprayed the foam cushions with an odor neutralizer and put them in the sun to dry. It worked!