It’s hard to believe that nearly a month has gone by since my cruise to Alaska. My husband and I cruised with 2 other friends. The natural beauty of the Last Frontier was breath taking. I have so many photos of spectacular mountains and waterfalls, each one more awe inspiring than the last. We were blessed with beautiful weather, sunny each day with not a drop of rain (despite everything I’d heard about being prepared for rain daily). It was an experience I’ll never forget. We want to return someday just to explore more inland. I highly recommend our travel agent, Terri, she was great – and put up with lots of questions 🙂 Continue reading
As you know, I love to travel. You also know, I am a detailed-oriented, planning and list making kinda girl 😊 I want to share some of my tried and true travel tips with you (a little bit of a tongue twister there).
Cruising is one of my favorite ways to travel. I love being on a huge ship, it almost feels like you are in a city … a city at sea. I love that you are always moving, traveling from one place to the next. I love that you wake up in a different port each morning. I also love that you have the same room and only have to unpack once yet get to experience so many different locations. Continue reading
As many of you know, I love to go camping. I’ve decided to write a campground review of my personal experience during my travels. Of course, these will be my honest opinions based on my visit.
MENDOTA HILLS CAMPGROUND
6642 US HIGHWAY 52 ~ AMBOY, IL 61310 ~ 815-849-5930
Mendota Hills Campground is a family owned and operated campground. It has close to 200 campsites, with probably at 2/3 being seasonal sites, and the remaining sites available for overnight guests. There are 3 lakes stocked for catch & release fishing. There is also a swimming lake with a sandy beach and water toys. It seems the main mode of transportation once your camp is set up is by golf cart. There are couple nice trails for an easy hike. The staff is friendly and helpful. The camp store is well stocked with supplies you may have forgotten. In addition to ice and firewood, they have candy, novelty ice cream and an arcade room. They have public restrooms, shower houses and laundry room. There is a nice playground near a pavilion. Also nearby is a volleyball court, basketball court and archery range.
Everything you might expect from a family owned – family friendly campground 😊
I have stayed at this campground on 3 different occasions.
- June 2016 (back-in electric/water site – it was hotter than Hades)
- September 2018 (rental cabin – it was cold & rainy)
- May 2019 (pull-thru FHU site – it was perfect IMHO sunny and 70’s)
Let me start by saying that I had a great experience all 3 times 😊 I mention the 3 different visits because I experienced a different type of campsite each time.
Here are some points that I feel they do right:
- They have weekly themes
- Family/kid friendly activities (mostly on weekends)
- Pet friendly
- Non-denominational church services are offered on Sunday mornings with a pot-luck lunch afterwards
- Free Wi-Fi
Here are some points that I feel could be improved:
- The back-in electric/water only site we were at was very unlevel
- The pull-thru FHU site we were at had very odd placement of the power pedestal, water spigot and sewer drain (we had to borrow a 30amp power extension cord and 2 additional stinky slinky extension hoses to be completely hooked up)
- General updating (however, we spoke with the owners and they were telling us that there are in the process of updating the campsites section by section)
Overall, I feel this is a lovely place to spend a long weekend relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors. I give it 2 thumbs up (although I have simple needs) 😊
Our New Home Away from Home
We did it! We finally bought a new (to us, anyway) camper! We did our walk through and took possession of it this morning! We are the proud owners of a 2015 KZ Sportsmen S302BH Travel Trailer! Eek! I feel like my emotions are all over the place ~ like a combination of excitement & anxiety!
Since I’m not sure if you regularly read my blog posts, or this is your first one, I’ll recap some of the story leading up to today. We first started camping about 10 years ago. That first year, we camped in a tent. We had a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of work. I also figured out that I’m not a big fan of sleeping on the ground 😊
The next year, we bought a used pop-up trailer. We loved that we could store all the camping gear / supplies we needed in the camper … not to mention sleeping in a bed. It was also nice to have a warm, dry place to hang out during rainy weather. We owned our pop-up for 5 years and usually went camping 4 or 5 weekends a year.
I think its human nature to want what you don’t have. Like after tent camping for a season, I wanted a bed off the ground. Then after 5 years of having a bed off the ground, not to mention a warm/dry space to play games or read a book on wet/dreary days, we wanted to have a bathroom.
So, the next year we bought a small travel trailer. We actually bought it on eBay. There were plenty of pictures and the owner was prompt in answering my questions. I placed a bid and then set the auto bid feature that stops when the auction hits our price limit. Then I sort of forgot about it until I got an email informing me that we won the auction. We were so excited!! ~ that is, until we got it home ☹ But that’s another story for another time (or you can read it here now if you want).
We only used that trailer for one camping season. If you’ve read the story, you know that purchase left me feeling taken advantage of and not so trusting. However, we knew that we loved camping and that we loved owning a camper. That summer, we learned the basics of owning a travel trailer. We also used our camping trips as a time to scope out other campers at our campgrounds, making lots of notes of what we liked and didn’t like. We ended up selling that camper in the fall and started saving money for the perfect camper.
For two summers, we cabin camped. It’s a lot more work than camping in a travel trailer. Think of it like tent camping except with a roof over your head.
We knew we need a bigger, more powerful vehicle to tow the type of camper we wanted, so we saved to buy our Yukon Denali. Then we started looking for a trailer that fit our tow capabilities. Lots of online browsing until I found a few that checked off most of our wish list boxes. We went to see them, and we fell in love with one. We thought the asking price was a tad high for a used model. It was the middle of RV Show season and most dealers usually offer great discounts. But we really liked this one, so we made a lower offer and they accepted it 😊
Today, we dotted all the i(s) and crossed all the t(s). We are now the proud owners of a 2015 KZ Sportsmen. While we were having our walk-through, we had them install a new weight distribution hitch on the Denali. We can’t wait to go on our maiden voyage, hopefully in May.
😊 Now to find the perfect campground …
As many of you know, I am a big fan of getaways. I really believe that a little downtime every so often is very important to our health and sanity. It doesn’t need to be a full blown vacation, just a couple days away from the every day routine 😊
I love to go on romantic weekend getaways with my husband. I also love to go on weekend camping getaways … we sort of unplug and enjoy nature, naps, board games and yummy food.
So each year, I plan a girls getaway with my friend Kari. We’ve been doing it for about 10 years now. It’s usually a 3-day weekend that usually (but not always) includes a women’s conference. Then we do some touristy things before and after ward. We look forward to it every year.
The Holiday season is upon us, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year. There are so many fun things to do, like spending time with family & friends … traveling … going to parties … shopping … wrapping … not to mention, celebrating the actual Holiday.
All these things are wonderful, but can also be stressful. Adding these fun activities to our already busy schedules can sometimes feel overwhelming. You are only one person, and you only have so much time. It’s the perfect time to have a Personal Assistant !! Continue reading
My husband and I love to go camping 🙂
As you know from a previous blog post, we purchased a used travel trailer last month. That post detailed all that happened, but to sum it up, we were deceived and bought a camper that had several issues. We spent the month of May and many $$ to get it ready for safe travels … everything isn’t perfect, but we repaired what we felt were the most important items.
This weekend we are embarking on our Maiden Voyage with it 🙂
We picked it up from the RV repair place on Thursday, and I have been getting all our camping gear transferred from our old pop-up camper to the new one. It’s been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun setting up house in our new (to us) home away from home.
We have been watching lots of You Tube videos to learn how everything works. We’ve (well I have) read the owners manual cover to cover. We have camped for many years, but never in a camper.
We have to learn how to:
- level the camper at the campsite
- hook up the electric and water
- operate the awning
- make sure the propane is on and the frig & stove work
- take care of all the bathroom chemical stuff
- emptying the holding tanks (you know what I’m talking about)
- and stuff we haven’t even thought of 🙂
I’m hoping for a wonderful weekend filled with fun memories of this first camping trip in our new camper. And I’m hoping that these new fun memories will replace my first disappointing ones & help me to regain the excitement I had when we first decided we were going to buy a camper with a bathroom – a definite upgrade from our pop-up.
Let the fun begin 🙂
I love the month of May! The weather is getting warmer, the lilacs and other flowers are blooming … and it’s time for camping 🙂
My kids were older, both teenagers when we started camping with our family. Our first trip was as part of a larger group of families that camped every year over Father’s Day weekend. We bought a large tent, tarps, a camp stove, and a lantern. We already had sleeping bags and other essentials. We bought some old pots & pans / dishes at a garage sale. We had a great time. We did this each Father’s Day weekend for 3 years. It was our only camping trip each year.
Then my hubby and I decided we were getting tired of sleeping on the ground, so we bought a used pop-up camper. We continued with the annual trip each June for a few more years. Now the kids, ahem … young adults go on this annual trip without us. Over the past few years, it has been just the hubby and I, and we really like it. We enjoy the peace and quiet 🙂 We usually plan a 3 day weekend camping trip for June, July, August and September.
This Spring, we took the plunge and bought a used travel trailer! No more middle of the night trips to the bathroom for us 🙂 We actually bought it off EBay and went to pick it up last week.
We were so excited when we first saw it. We knew from the eBay description that there were a couple of minor things wrong with it. It’s a 1999 model, so just age alone was a contributing factor. We trusted the seller when they said that there had been a previous leak but it had been completely repaired and no longer leaked. We trusted the seller when they said the awning had a tear but was still usable. We trusted the seller when they said that the crack in the plastic vent cover was only cosmetic.
Then we drove home with it, six hours in the pouring rain. Then we parked it outside our house for the night, and it rained all night long. The next morning, the sun was out, so we decided to start moving our camping gear from the pop-up to the new trailer. The first thing we noticed when we went to unlock the door was that the entire plastic vent cover was gone … it must of blown off during the long ride home from southern Indiana. So, I taped a piece of plastic over it so the back of the refrigerator didn’t get any more wet than it already was. Then we went inside to discover that it did leak … not giant puddles, but the wall was moist and soft to the touch in the same place the previous water stain was. We then opened the awning to find the tear was nearly half way across. I was mad … so mad. I hate being lied to. So I waited a couple days to cool off, then sent a (very professional, not emotional) ebay message to the sellers explaining that we were very upset that we had been deceived by their description, and that we thought they should be responsible for the cost of the repairs to get it to the way it was described as perfectly usable.
I waited a week for them to respond, and then I opened a resolution ticket with ebay motors. EBay has strict guidelines about items being “as described”. They will investigate the situation and try to work with us to get some of our money back.
We are taking it to a RV repair place to get an estimate for the needed repairs. Hopefully eBay will convince the sellers to cover those costs.
We really do love our new (to us) little camper and can’t wait to take it out for her maiden voyage 🙂 We just didn’t expect to have to put a lot of money into repairs so soon 🙁
Oh, and by the way … our pop-up camper is for sale … make us an offer we can’t refuse 🙂
As you may or may not know, I used to be a travel agent. Planning a vacation was one of my main job duties. I was actually employed in the travel industry for 25 plus years. As well as being a travel agent, I also worked in the reservations department for Apple Vacations for a couple of years, and worked for United Express Airlines for 14 years. All that to say, I’ve planned a vacation or two in my day 🙂
Lots of things have changed since I graduated from travel school in the 80’s … the internet being the most profound one. Planning a vacation online is easy for anyone with even a modest familiarity with computers.
Many people book their own travel these days. Most travel websites are very user friendly, guiding the user along each step of the way. After just a few clicks of your mouse and entering in your credit card info, you can pretty much start packing your bags 🙂
Perhaps these check lists (that I’ve found online) will be helpful to you as you plan your next vacation …
Always remember, if you don’t have the time or just plain don’t feel like it, I would be happy to “help” you by doing all the vacation planning research for you … I’m just a phone call away 🙂
Are you traveling for the holidays? Do you need a ride to or from the airport? Maybe you need a ride to and from a doctor’s appointment or hospital for an out-patient procedure. Many people choose to take care of medical appointments at the end of the year to take advantage of flex spending account balances and paid deductibles. Continue reading