Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 Florida RV SuperShow

This past weekend we went to the Florida RV SuperShow put on by the Florida RV Trade Association in Tampa. This was only our second RV show ever and it was definitely "super" sized.

Bag pipers and many others were there to entertain us along the way
RV's galore!
After being in our travel trailer for more than 6 months, we have a much better idea of what a family of four needs in an RV to live and work on a daily bases. Basically it boils down to more space - go figure!

We checked out some new travel trailers but quickly realized if you want more storage space a fifth wheel is the way to go. Here is a smattering of units we looked at - some practical and some just for fun.

Coachman 365BH by Brookstone

This fifth-wheel had a big bunk room for the kids and a very nice kitchen. Not to mention actual drawers for clothes in the master bedroom. I do miss those! Here is the floorplan with specifications.. One major con is the weight. We'd need a huge tow vehicle for this sucker.
Look at that kitchen - especially the giant refrigerator!
E and uncle Jay taking a break on the cushy couch

Canyon Trail SLT 31FBHS by Gulfstream

I really like the floorplan of this fifth-wheel. There is an adequate size bunk room with it's own partial bathroom. Our family of four using an itty-bitty vanity has been challenging. I didn't get a picture but the sofa in this unit was very comfy. And I love, love, love the wardrobe slide in the master bedroom. Also, this one is advertised as a half-ton towable which is very good. It weighs about 3,500 lbs less than the Brookstone model above.
Nice light fixtures
Counter space comes at a premium
Checking out the bunks


If we were to seriously consider another travel trailer, this Kodiak would definitely be a contender. We really liked the bunk room with the dinette for homeschool and play. And the island in the kitchen area was a nice surprise. We could just about pull this one with the mid-size truck we have. But, again, no real added storage space.

Modern finishes that reminded me of an Airstream


This was probably my favorite of the day. It wasn't the heaviest but it wasn't the lightest and no wonder considering the double sized refrigerator and normal sized shower and awesome recliners. Yes, I did fall in love with this one - lots of sighs as I walked away. The seating in this unit was so comfortable and there was so much storage in the main bedroom. And, a second partial bathroom for the kids. 
Look at all that comfy seating.
Terrible picture, but you get the idea.
Huge frig!

Crazy Big Toy Hauler Rig

I think this was a Cyclone Toy Hauler by Heartland but I'm not certain. Regardless, it was huge and felt like a house. There was a "garage" with bunks and a table - the back (a.k.a garage door) folds out to use as a deck or ramp as needed. The kitchen/living was plush and had a loft up above. The sliding door opened to a fold out patio which let in lots of light and added to the spaciousness. Very cool, but so not practical - for us anyway.
Nice kitchen!
Behind the ladder is a big pantry area.
Huge, inside and out
Upgrade?

The travel trailer we have is sufficient for weekends or even a couple of weeks of camping/living and best of all it's nearly paid for? So, after six months of living in an RV, the real question for us is, "Are we going to continue this lifestyle full-time?" Just today my 7 year old son stated in frustration at having no place to put/display his LEGO creations, "For my birthday and Christmas this year, all I want is a house." And my five year old keeps asking when she can get her toys out of storage. For now, we are exploring all options as we consider our plans and living arrangements into the foreseeable future.
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Monday, January 06, 2014

Antietam National Battlefield

Previously, I shared about the development of my son's passionate interest in the Civil War. As a result, we make an effort to visit Civil War related sites wherever we go. After visiting the Manassas Battlefield outside of Washington DC, I thought it would be worth a day trip to the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland.

The Battle of Antietam occurred more than a year after the battle of First Manassas and a month after Second Manassas (a.k.a 1st and 2nd Battle of Bull Run). By this time both armies were much more experienced and skilled at killing one another. This, along with the fact that this battle was the first major one to be fought on union soil, meant that this battle was destined to be brutal. The resulting casualties were well in excess of 22,000 Americans thus taking it's place in the annals of American history as the deadliest one-day battle in all of United States history.

As in the case of Manassas, the battlefield is kept much as it would have appeared in 1862. Compared to the Manassas Battlefield though, the serenity and beauty of this battlefield is significantly enhanced by the more sparsely populated area and the terrain of the Appalachian foothills within which it is located.

There are numerous walking trails on the grounds including the now infamous "bloody lane." Confederates piled fence rails along what was then called the "sunken road" and dug in. In three hours of fighting, it is believed that 5,500 soldiers were killed or wounded and the "sunken road" got it's new name. Four hours later, Federal troops finally forced the Confederates out. At the end of the day, neither side had won a decisive advantage and General Lee's army retreated back across the Potomac River.


Another amazing thing about the battlefield is the number of elaborate monuments to the men that fought and died here. Find out more about the monuments on the National Park website where you can see detailed information and even adopt one.





A stone observation tower was built on the site and is accessible to the public. From the top, the views are spectacular.




As you follow the driving tour you will also come to what has come to be called "Burnsides Bridge" another landmark where intense fighting occurred on this day. Details surrounding the defense of the bridge by the Confederates and taking of the bridge by Union troops can be found here

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Thursday, January 02, 2014

RV Life: The New Playroom

Rain is a bummer when you're camping, even when you have an RV. When it's raining, this family of four lives, works, and homeschools in about 240 sq. ft. If the weather is nice, we have lots of outdoor space as our "living room." We just moved out of my parents house where we took over the guest bedrooms for 6 weeks during the holidays. Of course, our first day at the new campsite we get drizzle, followed by sunshine, followed by downpour after downpour and then drizzle. Welcome to Florida!

Luckily, with some input from me, the kids Great Grandma Hall got them a tent and some sleeping bags for Christmas. I was thankful for that little extra dry space today. After getting soaked coming out of the grocery store, I got home and had to put things away which is like putting a puzzle together in our limited cabinet space. Having two little people hopping around in the way does not help the process. They did help get the bags inside and then voluntarily disappeared into their new "playroom." Meanwhile, I was able to get organized and start supper in peace. Yay!

So, if your staying in an RV for any length of time with kids, a tent is still a valuable asset particularly on rainy days.



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