We have been searching everywhere for a 2019 Travato 59GL and finally found one in Arizona. The price was right but the logistics were crazy with two kitties so we turned it down. We finally decided to stay local and put in an order for a 2020 with the options we really want. So, she is on order with an expected delivery date of July 31, 2019. What do we do all summer without a way to camp? It's time to do those chores around the house that are so easy to put off when you have a van waiting to take you on an adventure.
I can't believe we have decided to sell our beloved 2017 Travato 59K. We have decided we would like the Pure 3 Lithium batteries and to change our floor plan. We are going to look for a 2019 59GL. We placed our van on RV Trader and had several folks interested, but this really nice person in Florida was especially interested and drove up to put down a deposit for us to hold for a week. She returned to buy and it was such a great experience to have someone fall in love with the van. It was bittersweet to see it drive off and leave us vanless. Now on to our search.
We found this 360-mile trail in the Friends of GA State Park magazine and decided to take off in June 2018 to see what we could find.
Our trip began in Habersham County taking Hwy 441 to Cornelia GA. We visited the Train Museum, had lunch at Bigg Daddy’s and walked the City Walking Trail. We then drove to Mount Airy, GA and camped at Lake Russell Recreation Area. The last stop in Habersham County is Clarkesville GA and we stopped for lunch at Batesville General Store. The next county is Rabun County to visit the Goats On The Roof in Tiger GA.
We crossed the Chattooga River to SC on Hwy 76 and camped at Chau Ram River County Park. We stopped in Walhalla SC to visit the Oconee History Center, but it was closed.
Our next stop is Jackson County in NC and we stopped at Gorges State Park for the views and drove through Lake Toxaway. We stopped next in Cashiers NC for lunch and drove through busy Highlands NC. We spent the night just outside of Highlands NC boondocking in Van Hook Glade Forestry Campground.
The next county is Macon County and we walked around Franklin NC and on to Clay County. This was Sunday and we drove leisurely through Hayesville NC and on to Cherokee County. We stayed two nights in Murphy NC at our first KOA Park. Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino was less than a mile away.
Polk County is next and we drove through Ducktown TN and to Thunder Rock Recreation Area in Benton on the Ocoee River. This is the site of the 1996 Olympics Whitewater Rafting competition. We left TN and headed back into GA and Murray County. We stayed at Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, GA. The ride to the park was beautiful and a little steep.
Gilmer County is next and we drove through Ellijay GA. Carters Lake is a great camping area in Ellijay. We drove through Blue Ridge GA and one day will return to take the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway drive. We drove on down to Blairsville GA, which is in Union County to have lunch, and visited the Byron Herbert Reece Farm & Heritage Center. Vogel State Park is a mile away and we snagged the last spot for the night.
Towns County is next on the list with Hiawassee being a big attraction but we were ready to head home. This was a great driving tour and very relaxing.
In March 2018 we loaded up our new Winnebago Travato van and headed west. We decided to travel on I10 and didn’t make any reservations.
The van was wonderful and it was so easy to stop for the night or stop and visit a museum such as the USS Kidd in Baton Rouge LA. We had a “first for us” overnight at a casino in CA, a Holiday Inn parking lot in TX and of course many Cracker Barrel’s along the way We learned to boondock in the forest for free or as little as $5.00 with our senior card.
We made it through Texas and into New Mexico and stopped at White Sands National Monument. It was amazing and free with our senior pass.
We reached Tucson AZ and spent a few days with Mike’s school friend, Seth, camping on his driveway. Now it’s on to Quartzsite AZ.
We made it through Los Angeles and reached the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Coast Highway and views of the ocean were beautiful. We were able to camp directly on the beach and feel the ocean breeze.
We decided to take I40 out of California and headed to Flagstaff Arizona. We visited the Walnut Canyon National Monument and camped for free on a forest road just outside of the park. Then it was on to Tasayan AZ to see the Grand Canyon. Words cannot describe the feeling when you first see the beauty and depth of the Grand Canyon.
The scenery and mountains were so beautiful and we’ll never forget the red rocks of Sedona. We boondocked in the Coconino National Forest on Red Canyon Road BLM land. On to Winslow AZ to “Stand on the Corner” and followed Route 66 along I40. We drove through the Painted Desert National Park and were speechless. The colors were magnificent. We saw a few weird sites on Route 66 and enjoyed lunch at the Road Kill Cafe in Seligman, AZ
We traveled back through New Mexico and made a wonderful stop in Albuquerque to have lunch with Mike’s niece, Sara, and her sweet family. We passed through Amarillo TX and on to Oklahoma and Arkansas. It was nice to see the green trees in Arkansas.
The weather began to get a little rough in Arkansas and a huge storm was heading our way so we decided to head down to I20 and made our way home. What a wonderful trip. We traveled a little over 6000 miles and visited 9 different states.
We have taken possession of our new Travato and chose Fort Yargo in Winder, GA for our maiden voyage. We found it so easy to throw in a few clothes, pack the refrigerator and load up the cats. Off we go and found driving to be a pleasure.
Pulling into the campground and finding a site was so easy in the van. We hooked up the water and electricity in five minutes and wondered what was next. Are we forgetting to do something? This was too quick and easy!
We spent four days learning a new way to camp. The kitties did very well in a small space and we walked them on their leashes and kept them outside during the day. We are looking forward to being more mobile.
We are making a big change in our camping lifestyle. We have traded in our 2011 Allegro 35' Open Road Motorhome for a 2017 Winnebago Travato Van. We have loved the motorhome and all the places it has taken us, but we are ready to downsize and go on an adventure at a moments notice.
Our last motorhome experience was a trip to New Jersey to visit with our children. We stayed at Turkey Swamp County Park in Freehold, NJ and it was difficult to maneuver the dirt roads getting into and out of the park. Driving the motorhome long distances has become a chore rather than a fun experience. In a 35' motorhome we missed being able to stop anywhere to take in the sites along the route.
We returned home in July and put the motorhome in storage to begin the process of emptying to sell the RV. This was quite an undertaking and very similar to moving out of a sticks & bricks home. We were amazed at how much stuff we had accumulated and were carrying around with us.
We then began the process of looking for a smaller RV to suit our needs. After much research and visiting dealerships we decided the Winnebago Travato 59K was best for our budget and lifestyle. Fortunately, we found a new 2017 at a local dealership and have completed paperwork. The Travato is being prepped and we are waiting for delivery.
We are very excited and hopefully we will be able to park the van at home to use as our second vehicle. Our next blog will be all about stocking the Travato and taking off for a new adventure.
There is a timeless debate on whether or not to leave your grey valve open when hooked up to a sewer connection. I thought I would add my two cents.
Of course, you should always leave your black tank valve closed until the tank is full or at least 3/4 full. You should not skimp on water in the black tank because this water helps keep everything in your tank solvent. I think everyone agrees.
The grey tank being open or closed seems to cause much controversy. Here's my take.
During normal use the grey tank does collect some unwanted residue from dishwashing such as crumbs, food, soap scum and grease. Grease could potentially be the worst thing sitting in your tank. It can become insoluble and cake on the sides and bottom of the tank.
It makes sense, if you leave the valve open, some grease will naturally drain with any liquids. It also makes sense some grease will solidify on the bottom of the tank and some will solidify around the valve. On the other hand, if you leave your valve closed, much of the grease will stay on top of the water some may solidify on top of the water once the water cools. Very little will accumulate around the valve area, but some will always cling to the sides.
If you keep the valve closed, which is what I do, when you open it, the force of the water should wash most of the debris and grease out. If you leave it open, it would make sense to close it a day or two before emptying your black tank to flush your sewer hose. Once in awhile, you could partially fill your grey tank with warm water to liquefy any grease build up around the valve area.
All that being said, one must remember, when leaving your valve open, you are leaving it open to the campground sewer. I have heard of instances of worms or bugs swimming past the pea traps and coming up through the kitchen sink. This is probably very rare, however, it seems very possible they could be swimming around in your tank. Why this doesn't happen at a bricks and sticks, I don't know. Of course we've all heard of the stories about rats and snakes coming through the sewer lines.
Whether you choose to leave it open or closed, most RV'ers don't have a problem, open or closed. The argument for leaving it open seems to be one does not have to remember to open it every couple of days and face grey water coming through the shower drain. It could be a problem if you have a lot of people taking showers.
I say it's a personal choice.
I know there are campers that prefer and expect total darkness at campgrounds, especially in national forests. That usually is not going to happen unless one is boondocking.
We all want to be good neighbors when camping so it would be courteous to keep this in mind when using lights. No one should be using the large industrial lights one might pickup at Home Depot. These are very annoying. Some of the lights that are on the exterior of RVs are blinding. If leaving these on, you may want to consider switching them out to a soft amber light. Some RVs come with bright lights on the front (usually some fifth wheels). All lights, if not needed, should be turned off at quiet time. If you have to keep your area lighted for safety or security reasons, invest in some solar spots and point them towards your RV.
For those that prefer total darkness, keep in mind many RV'ers are older and need these lights for safety and security. If you are in your 60's, 70's and 80's and scramling out of your RV in the middle of the night, you need your steps and the area around your camper well lit.
For both sides of this issue, please remember everyone has different needs and try to be courteous and understanding.
We previously talked about our camphosting experience at Bolding Mill CG on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Ga. We cleaned bathrooms, campsites, blew off roads and helped campers with their problems. The hours were 20 hours a week per campsite. If one person worked 10 hours, it counted as 10 hours. If two persons from the same campsite worked 10 hours at the same time, it still only counted as 10 hours. Guess what, most of the time, only one of us worked. In spite of it being 95 degrees, we enjoyed ourselves, mostly because of the clients/campers and the fellowship with the other volunteers.The volunteers got together for cookouts and such. That being said, we probably won't volunteer in the heat of the summer again.
Last September, we camphosted at Edisto Beach State Park. It's one of the barrier islands near Charleston, SC. It was twenty five hours per campsite. Five, five hour days. It was the same deal as Bolding Mill so I worked the twenty five hours by myself and left my significant other at the RV. The duties were about the same except we didn't have to clean bathrooms. The Rangers and other volunteers were very nice. There was very little interaction between volunteers. The volunteers did not have sewer. We won't do without sewer in the future. This experience reinforced our decision not to camphost during the summer in the South. The mosquitos were intolerable.
We are now at Sawnee CG on Lake Lanier for the winter. So far, so good. We have had one cookout and we see the other volunteers often. The hours are as they should be. If we both work 5 hours together, we get credit for ten.
All in all, camphosting has been a good experience. Next year, we may not camphost. We will travel more and spend all the money we saved!
Since we have finished our very first camphosting job, I decided to add, from a camp host's point of view, the following to our original blog about camping etiquette.
1. Don't flick your cigarette butts all over the site. This is just plain rude! As a former smoker, I can sympathize. My favorite alternative when there is no ashtrays is to twist the butt between your fingers until all you have is the filter. Put the filter in your pocket until you find a trash can. The next best alternative is throw your butts in the fire pit.
2. Don't leave trash all over you campsite and don't use the fire pit as your trash can. Yes, I know you say, what's the matter with burning the trash? Well nine times out of ten unburnt trash is under the ashes and pop tops, cans etc. do not burn (last time I checked).
3. Don't leave a fire unattended! This is just common sense! A burning ash can easily flutter to the ground and start the woods on fire. This goes for grills also. At the very least place a metal mesh barrier over the pit to keep big ashes from getting away. Please don't check out and leave a burning fire unattended.
4. Keep your site uncluttered. This is your temporary home, treat as such. Your neighbors don't want to see your dirty house.I know this is very difficult when camping with children and you have five bicycles, five wet towels, five swimming trunks, five skateboards - you get the picture. Just make the effort.
5. Read and follow the campground's rules.
I am sure I will follow up on campground etiquette with part three in a latter blog!
Mike and Sherrian
We love to travel in our 2011 Allegro Open Road Motorhome about half of the year. Join us, if you will, to see where our adventures take us.