Moving to New Blog Address

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As those following this blog know from our last post we sold our 5th wheel.  As we get ready for retirement the adventure will once again begin anew with a Class A Motorhome.  We’ll maintain this blog and its related content from our 5th Wheel adventures but start anew for our Motorhome adventures in retirement at:

Camping for the Rest of Life Blog

Please redirect your views to the new site as we will not be posting new content to this site.




Affordable Camping Rig SOLD

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As might be suggested by the time between posts, we’ve not been as active on the blog as we were after we first bought the Sundance.  It isn’t that we gave up camping…just that our “adventures” were more repeats of previous trips.

As readers of this blog know we’ve been camping throughout our 30+ year marriage and know its something we love.  We’ve camped throughout Florida and now seek to venture out to see and camp the rest of this beautiful country.  That will take time…and longer trips than we can accomplish while working so we’ve decided to pass our rig on to the next family to love and enjoy.  No, we’re not giving up on camping….just changing things up a bit.  Our goal is to put our heads down and work hard for the next couple of years so we can fully retire and spend more time camping!

Just as we enjoyed passed along our previous pop-up to a young family with kids, our 5th wheel will now become the next adventure vehicle for a family wanting to move up in size and comfort.

We think what we have is special in a couple of ways:

  1. Its affordable – Although we’re happy to sell our 5th wheel separately from our diesel truck, the price for both is actually less than half of what a new rig would cost.  At $49,500 $45,000 for both, or $24,500 $19,500 for the 5th wheel only, we think they’re a bargain when you consider all the extras we’ve added and the ability to simply pack your clothes and groceries and go.  Its also easy on fuel getting 10-12 mpg.
  2. Its complete – Our 29′ rig has the best of a bigger rig – triple slides, big kitchen with lots of storage, leather his/her stress-less chairs, full shower and separate porcelain commode, luxury memory foam queen mattress…all the luxury appointments of rigs 10-15 feet longer…and heavier…yet:
    1. It fits in state park sites
    2. Can dry camp for up to a week with sufficient fresh water and grey/black holding tanks.  Has LED lighting so a simple house battery will keep things running if you’re careful even disconnected from power.  Can run major systems on propane or electricity.
    3. Is balanced – the rig and truck are perfectly balanced for each other offering easy towing
    4. Has all the things you need to camp…hoses, fittings, tools, etc.
  3. It works for all kinds of camping – Looks right at home in luxury campgrounds or out in the woods dry camping
  4. What its not – To my amazement the number one question I get when we get responses to ads we’re running on Craigslist and the newspaper – “Does it have washer-dryer hookups”.  The answer – NO.  It takes a rig at least 3-5 feet longer to get the extra length to fit a washer dryer.  And, with the washer dryer the ability to dry camp goes away.  No rig has big enough water or holding tanks to be doing laundry without full hookups.  I don’t begrudge those who want to do laundry in their camper but, frankly, we’ve camped for up to two weeks at time and haven’t missed it.  Most campgrounds have more than adequate laundry facilities to do a load of wash…and trips into town for groceries can easily be combined with a Laundromat stop if more loads are needed.  And, you can do more in a single load in a regular washer than multiple loads in the smaller all-in-one camping models.   And, not it doesn’t have a dishwasher either…he isn’t being sold with the rig!


Rock Crusher Canyon

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OK…so now its been a really..really long time between posts…

We’re at Rock Crusher Canyon in Crystal River Florida.  No…we didn’t stop camping.  It simply got easy to go and not find the time to talk about it here.  Found an app for my Blackberry tablet that makes posts on the fly easy so hopefully I can post more easily while we’re out.

Rock Crusher Canyon RV

Kayaked Crystal River.

Beautiful fresh water from springs like Three Sisters Springs.

2012 in review

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The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Myakka State Park 2012

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Finally a chance to check out the new Panther Ridge campsite at Myakka State Park east of Sarasota on SR 72.  Myakka State Park is a 1930’s era CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) park with gobs of things to do but campsites that were  intended for the popups and smaller travel trailers of a past generation.  Although capable of accomodating today’s larger RV’s and 5th wheels, the park’s existing loops didn’t give as much “elbow room” and had water and electric only.  Panther Ridge is a totally new loop opened in 2011.  Its nearly 50 brand new sites were designed with today’s large rigs in mind.  Our site was 78 x 19 with full hookups.  These dimensions did not include a “side yard” with picnic table, grill and fire ring.  All sites in the new loop are level with shell contained by a concrete footing around the edges.  Smaller “pea gravel” was placed beneath the “side yard”.

Our trip was short (Thursday through Sunda) and we had so much to do I never got around to taking a picture of our rig on the site.  The pictures here are the online reservation photos for the site we stayed in.  Myakka has nearly 40 miles of hiking and biking trails (see PDF map link at bottom of page accessed by this link) and two lakes along the Myakka River which drains a large area of this part of Florida, eventually flowing into Charlotte Harbor south of Sarasota.  Water levels were low but we had no problem kayaking the river’s Wilderness area south of the ranger station.

Myakka is known for alligators.  Gators team in the upper lake which can be viewed by a large 40 person airboat called the Gator Gal.  The banks of the river have everything from huge grown gators to lots of little baby gators.  Unless fed by humans or antagonized, gators are happy to sun themselves on the banks and will quickly enter the water and seek safety underwater if you pass too close.  Does get the heart beating a bit tho.







Another fun feature of the trip is the Canopy Walk.  Completed in 2000, the structure was the first public treetop trail in North America.  You’ll see a few pics of Karen and I and friends Mark and Jamie who joined us tent camping on our site Saturday nite.

Here are the pics from our trip.

WARNING:  This loop is going to be really popular.  We checked this evening (1/29/12) to see about reservations for New Years 2012 and most of the sites in Panther Ridge were already booked.  The “snowbirds” have already discovered this treasure.

December 2011 Fort Desoto

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A nice long weekend at Fort Desoto, one of our favorite parks.  We are joined by first time Fort Desoto campers and fellow Heartlanders Mickey and Bonnie and Tony and Janis.  We stayed in the pet loop so everyone could bring the pups who also seem to enjoy Fort Desoto.

Fort Desoto is big rig friendly but requires some recon to understand which sites work for the biggest rigs.  Plenty of Class A’s and 5th wheels but the longest 5vers require knowledge of backing into sites as pictures will show our friends parking prowess at  39 and 40′.  A good time with good camping friends.

More Photos HERE.

Unicoi State Park, Georgia

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I better post this quick…back two weeks and the details are already fading!

This post will detail RV camping on Unicoi State Park.   We stayed 10 nites in a 32’ 5th wheel, Big Brook Loop, Site 28 of 29 total sites last week of October and first week of November 2011.  Majority of sites in this loop take rigs to 40’ and widths of 12-16 with slides (CLICK FOR PICS of SITES IN BIG BROOK LOOP).  We had no problem with our awning although we really didn’t need it for shade (see below).   Asphalt paved entrance roads to the park and within the campground.  Asphalt parking slab with 2 steps to a large hard packed dirt picnic area.  “Big Brook” stream to rear had moving but marginal flow,   might be more interesting with more rain.  Lots of trees so expect shade most of the time….it was “dark” till 9:30 am and again by 5 pm because Big Brook Loop is in a “hollow”.  Other RV sites in adjacent loops had many sites as big as ours but no sewer.  Park also has tent sites, cabins of different sizes and locations, and a Lodge with dining room.

We found few detailed reviews of this park for RV camping so we wanted to do a more detailed review with pictures (above).  Reservations are made online for Georgia State Parks but while all Georgia parks guarantee you a spot for a specific level of service (full hookup or water/electric)  they do not reserve a specific site.  We got there early on a Sunday since we weren’t sure how many “big rig friendly” sites there would be….and had no problem.  We waited for about 30 minutes as folks were leaving the site we wanted, but there were 3 or 4 to choose from that would have worked equally well.   Check park website for availability.

We made 2 weeks of peak “leaf season” reservations in February.  Relatively easy pull into Unicoi from the South, and I assume east or west.  Unicoi is at the south end of the Appalacian mountains so there will be hills and small mountains extending north up the East Coast of the US.  Towing elevations to Unicoi were less than 3000’ all the way into the park from Florida.  On our daytrips in the truck we only got as high as 4000 +/- except for a hike up the paved trail to 5000’ (Brasstown Bald).  There are many scenic, 2-lane drives through the mountains north of Unicoi that I would pave pulled our rig, albeit with slow and easy travel.  The best part about Unicoi is that you don’t have to pull into the mountains.

Anna Ruby falls just 10 minutes outside the park.  Several nice hikes within the park including the EZ Lake Park Loop.  Lodge has 3 meals buffet style with lunch and dinner best.  Relaxed and casual.  Lake trout in the evening.  Adjacent conference center can be busy but you can check with the lodge to find the “off” days.

From Unicoi there are dozens of waterfalls.  See HERE and HERE and HEREMany small towns (SEE MAP) and interesting American history within 30 minutes to an hour in all 4 directions.  Waterfall hikes as short as 100 yards and we did one that was about 5 miles roundtrip (relatively easy hard packed dirt paths….there were lots of folks with dogs).  Much more to do than we had time for in 2 weeks and enough to make coming back for additional years worthwhile.  Within a mile or two of the park is the “alpine” village of Helen, Georgia.  October is obviously “Oktoberfest” so the Fest Haus had German music, lots of dancers having a good time.  If you don’t take Helen to seriously it’s actually a nice little town.  Betty’s Grocery for most grocery/supplies and a host of interesting  local specialties.

Café La Piazza for good Italian,   Nacoochee Grill for steak, chicken seafood and great ribs, adjacent Nacoochee Village Tavern and PizzeriaPaul’s Steakhouse and adjacent  Viele Margaritas with 17 big screen TV’s for sports with a nice view of the stream through downtown Helen .  We “cooked in” except for a couple of nights out.

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