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Road Tripping in an RV – Part 2


In Part 1, I mentioned the general costs associated with renting an RV and listed additional expenses one might encounter. Here’s the details on those additional expenses:

  • Campground Fees: Prices vary greatly from campground to campground, as do your surroundings & amenities. You may more for premium sites with full hook-ups (electric, water, & sewer). I think I paid an average of $35 per night. I discovered late in my trip that some RV stops like Flying J offer free overnight parking. So you can pull in & sleep. They don’t have hook-ups, but in moderate weather it would be great.

  • RV Dump Fees: One thing you have to do periodically…or regularly with 5 people…is dump the RV waste storage tanks which are called the Black Water & the Grey Water. That’s toilet & shower/sinks, respectively. If you’re paying for a full hook-up site at a campground, it’s included in your overnight cost. If you’re parking in your sister’s driveway at night, you need to find an RV dump at a gas station like Flying J or at a campground. Flying J is $10 for non-card holder & $5 for card holders. Most campgrounds are $10.

    I want to pause for a moment to tell you a funny story. We left my brother’s house in Birmingham on August 30th. I had dumped the tank in Chattanooga on Sunday morning the 28th. So, I figured there would be a dump station somewhere along the freeway early on our drive. I was wrong! We were 2 hours out of Birmingham & still no Flying J or other site. I was trying to locate a station with Gas Buddy on my Android to no avail.

    I pulled over at the next rest area so I could do a Google search for a dump station. It was still coming up with nothing! I must have sat there for 15-20 minutes trying to locate an RV dump along our route.

    Finally, I gave up & headed toward the rest area exit. Would you believe that there was a FREE RV Dump station right there at the end of the rest area??? We were 16 days into our 16 day trip. I laughed at only now discovering free RV dumps at rest areas (not all rest areas have these). And I thanked God for providing an RV dump when we really needed it. (I didn’t want to lug all that water waste on a 10 hr drive as it’s weight cuts down on fuel efficiency.


  • Propane Costs: To tell you the truth, I was terrified of the propane. I used it sparingly because I feared having to refill it and being clueless. What I discovered was that, at least at the Flying J, they refill it for you. I paid $3.09 per gallon. I used about 1/3 of the propane I started with in 18 days.

  • General Maintenance (oil changes, tires, etc. these are reimbursed): It is possible to have to take the RV rental in for an oil change if you are driving long distances. Tires, of course, can always be an issue. I had to take our rental in for a tune up…which is basically unheard of, according to the man at the rental center. It was annoying, but I didn’t have to pay out of pocket (Not typical! Usually you will pay out of pocket & get reimbursed at the end of the trip.)

  • Air for Tires: This can range from free to a few dollars.

  • Potable Water: This is generally free at RV stations like Flying J, campgrounds you stay at, and any home that you can get a garden hose to the water tank. There are some places that will charge for it, so my advice is fill it with free water whenever you can.

  • Generator: The on-board generator runs off your fuel and also has a meter. Cruise America charges $3 per hour of usage of the generator. You also have to add oil to it. It was one of those things I avoided out of fear of not knowing what I was doing. It isn’t a “necessary” thing in most cases unless you are camping in a primitive area and need to run everything electric at once or long-term. Most things in the RV run off an on-board 12-volt battery or the propane.

  • RV Toilet Chemicals: After you empty the black water tank, and before you use the toilet again, you have to put a toilet chemical into the black water tank. I think I paid $10-15 for a bag of 15 packets and I still have 4-5 left over that I left in the RV for the next person. The chemical indicated you could add it to the grey water tank as well, but Cruise America never advised me about this and I dumped the tanks regularly (daily as I could). This chemical packet breaks down all of the waste & toilet paper sitting in the tank and manages the odor as well.

  • RV Toilet Paper: It’s typically sold in small, 4-pks for about $2.99. It’s single ply and easily breaks down in the black water tank to avoid clogs in the system, hose or sewer drain.

  • Ice: Coolers are recommended for frequent access to cold drinks, so ice tends to be a necessity. It paid anywhere from $1.47 to $1.99 for a small bag and up to $3.99 for a large bag.

  • Drinking Water: Even though you connect the RV to city water or fill the water holding tank, it’s not considered safe to drink or use for cooking. So, I purchased both bottled water (for the cooler) and kept 2 gallons of drinking water on hand for cooking & rinsing tooth brushes. Bottled water was generally less than $4 per 24-28 bottles and the gallons were usually under a $1 each.


In my next RVing post, I’m going to talk about the things I really liked & some things that I did not like.


Anne-Marie

Christian wife & homeschool mom to 4 in NE FL.

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Road Tripping in an RV – Part 1


It all began a few months ago. Another homeschool mom who has her children enrolled in the same private school for unschoolers as I have mine enrolled in, asked if any other families enrolled in the group lived in an RV and traveled about the country.


Until that day, I hadn’t even considered an RV for our travel needs. And I’ve done a lot a traveling with my kids (with and without my husband). I really started thinking about renting an RV when I decided to take my 4 kids to Indiana. There is only 1 hotel where we were going. I’ve stayed there once. It wasn’t that great and now I would need two rooms at an outrageous $90 per night. (Trust me, the place is worth $35 TOPS!) After considering hotels outside the area (a minimum 30 minute drive each way), I started to wonder about renting an RV.


I didn’t know much about renting an RV, but I did recall Lisa Whelchel writing or talking about traveling for a year in a Cruise America RV. So, that’s where I went first to check it out. I then searched for other RV rental websites; contrasting & comparing prices & other details. Eventually, I decided to book with Cruise America.


So, that’s the long & short of how our RV adventure started out.


Along the journey, I had people everywhere we went ask me questions about renting the RV. Mostly people wanted to know how much it cost. In simple terms, you have a per night cost, plus a mileage rate. Of course, you have to pay for gas too. Oh, and insurance coverage is included in your rental fee with Cruise America (I can’t speak for anyone else, but this could be the standard in the industry.)


But there are other expenses an RVer can encounter.

  • Campground Fees

  • RV Dump Fees

  • Propane Costs

  • General Maintenance

  • Air for Tires

  • Potable Water

  • Generator

  • RV Toilet Chemicals

  • RV Toilet Paper

  • Ice

  • Drinking Water


In my next post, I will go into more detail on those expenses.


Anne-Marie

Christian wife & homeschool mom to 4 in NE FL.

Cattertainment


Day 4 – My 21 Day Fast from Social Networking

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This is Raney. She’s about 9 months old. Apparently she likes video games, especially ones with animal-like noises & characters.  My husband’s description of how she acts while he plays this is that she watches intently & paces back and forth.

This picture is one of many that make us love our cats even more. They amuse us constantly. And it’s pictures like this that makes us think our cats need their own blog.

What do you think? 

Old Family Tradition – New Family Business


I’ve recently returned from Pennsylvania where I was privileged to learn the candy-making secrets of Grandma Ida. Grandma Ida, my husband’s paternal grandmother, has been making hand-dipped chocolates since the 1940’s! No one in the family, until now, has held her recipes.

While I’m not faulting anyone, no one else has had the interest in carrying on her tradition. Well, that’s not entirely true. She also had no interest in letting just anyone have the recipes. But of the people she would have given her secrets to, they just don’t have the time or the desire to do it.

Enter me. I love to learn new things. And my father-in-law has been asking me for years to come up while Grandma is doing candy so I can learn to do it. A few months ago it was decided that it was now or never. So, I gave up my plans to go to Hawaii (alone) for the opportunity to learn to make Grandma’s candies.

Long story short, it wasn’t a picture perfect week, but the candy-making effort was so successful that we’re now moving forward in starting a family business.

There are lots of things that I am researching and working to pull together to get this endeavor launched. One of the most important things, in my opinion, is the right name. That’s where you come in. I am asking you to cast a vote http://twtpoll.com/r/zqjg2e for the most appealing name on the list. Could you do that for me? Thanks! I really appreciate it!

Anne-Marie
Christian, homeschooling mom to 4, Republican Club Officer, local campaign manager, life-long-learner, home-birther, birthmother, ….and now candy-maker.

HomeSchool Peace…at last!


For several years we homeschooled under our state’s Home Education Program (HEP). The HEP required a Letter of Intent to the school district to announce our establishment of a homeschool program (done for each child), an annual evaluation by 1 of 5 state statute approved methods, and the mandatory keeping of portfolios. These things were sore spots for me. I complied, reluctantly, because I didn’t see that I had any other options.

Because of my strong dislike for the public school system under which I was tortured and persecuted (a topic for a whole post of it’s own), I wanted no association with the public schools. I tried to keep the contact to a minimum and hoped they would never ever ever call me to submit to a portfolio review. (We did get called in 2008, but were dismissed because of a scheduled trip out of state on that date.)

Annual evaluations always felt more like judgment day even though I have had nothing but wonderful certified teacher’s who have evaluated my children’s work. However, there are just so many things you can’t take pictures of, moments and achievements that cannot be demonstrated in a 3-ring binder. The longer I homeschool, the further away from workbooks I move. We do a lot of oral work. I read to them (a lot!) and we have long discussions. How can any evaluator ever “see” that?

From the very beginning, we have had trouble finishing certain subjects by the end of the “school year”. So we often rushed through the last month of our math curriculum, with me crossing off things I didn’t think they needed to review yet again, especially with next year’s math not so far away. Instead of allowing them to work at their own appropriate pace, I felt I was homeschooling to meet bogus requirements. That was very contra-indicative of our purpose.

The portfolio concept, while warm and fuzzy to an eduction major and politicians, is the furthest thing from my natural abilities. Try as I may, different methods of compiling throughout the years, it was always a last minute rush to put it together. I hated it! As I already stated, a portfolio never contained an accurate picture of what my children were learning. It was a big farce.

Each year at convention time, I longing gazed at umbrella schools. I was attracted to the idea of not being under the government system, but two things prevented me from going with an umbrella school. Costs and feeling like I was under an even bigger thumb.

Then last summer, someone on Twitter introduced me to a free private school (umbrella school) for homeschoolers…or rather, unschoolers. I was in the process of yet again compiling several portfolios for a very impromptu portfolio review that a friend had arranged for anyone who wanted to get it done and over with. As soon as I dropped my annual evaluation paper in the mail to the school district, I enrolled my children in Florida Unschoolers.

Now I have finally gotten to the reason for my post today. It’s March and I had to order MORE curriculum. My 10yo son completed his 4th grade math a few weeks ago and is now into his 5th grade math curriculum. My 11yo son is two days from completing his 5th grade math and will be starting his 6th grade math next week. We are 3 weeks from finishing our history curriculum. There have been numerous other accomplishments this year as well.

Without an impending portfolio review to worry about throughout the year, we have been free to learn without restrictions or regulations or government interference. And we have gotten more accomplished in a shorter time than in any previous year!

We are rolling right into “next” year’s curriculum, finally realizing the dream of year-round homeschooling. Year-round isn’t really as bad as it may seem. It’s not working 5 days per week for 52 weeks straight. It’s being able to take breaks without falling behind (to cram for portfolio evaluations). It’s each child working at their own pace and being able to have time to focus on their interests as well as having some structured learning. It’s working on family projects, doing life, learning new skills and training up the next generation. It’s losing the summer knowledge loss and gaining consistent reinforcement of important concepts.

Never in the course of our homeschooling journey have I felt more at ease while feeling we’re getting somewhere, where each child needs to be. We’ve got so many cool things on the horizon. And I finally have the strength to tackle and plan some new things with my kids…things they have been begging to do.

I am so thankful to God for this new opportunity He brought to me,. For opening my eyes and helping me change my original perspective. For seeing me through the rough times and for pouring out His peace on me along this journey.