Saturday, September 16, 2017

2017 - Trip #2 - Lake In Wood Campground

Lake In Wood is quickly becoming one of our favorite campgrounds to attend.  It is an easy hour drive with no hectic areas of traffic, similar to Colonial Woods which we liked so much as well which is an hours drive the other direction.  So, off to the land of the Gnomes we go!

Arrival was smooth and simple and Becky picked up the golf cart we rented while I drove back to the site at the far end of the campground.  Having a site upfront is nice since it is close to the activities, but with the hills and distance combined when in the back of the campground it is definitely nice to have the golf cart.  We also were camping with friends that we met last time we were here who have their granddaughter with them, so lots of running with the kids to activities and pool and back to the camper!

Every site we have arrived at I always test the shore power pedestal to see what I have voltage and plug type wise, and after reading the RV No Shock Zone by Mike Sokol, I've learned a lot about my 120V and 12V systems.  When we purchased this RV, we also purchased a Progressive Industries Surge/Voltage protector.  This time, it kept telling us there was an open ground at the plug.  The plug was also loose, so I made a call to the front desk.  After some back and forth discussion, the maintenance guy reluctantly opened up the box to check it out.  The box was not bonded, so he did that, and also tightened up the outlet and checked the ground.   Satisfied, we plugged in and were back in business shortly after my tester reset.  This device has now saved us twice in the past two years.

This trip we are also camping next to friends that we met our last time here which is a lot of fun for the kids as they have another person to play with.  They rode bikes, when on walks, lots of swimming, and more!

There were many fun activities that Lake In Wood offered too this weekend to keep us all busy.  We did ceramics again this year so I was able to paint another Gnome for our campground sign and the kids each did a small ceramic.  Then, we went out and did the Gnome Scavenger hunt that they have at the campground which was a lot of fun for us all.  We rode the golf cart around to find the clues and solve the riddles and earn great little prizes for the kids.  Free Mini-Golf, Ice cream coupons, and more.

Madison starting our Painting at the lodge
Madison, Bella and I went to the lodge in the afternoon because we signed up for one of those group painting classes.  It was a lot of fun and Madison and I did one canvas together.  She did the main backgrounds and then I worked on adding the forground black,.... with some creativity from Madison as she wanted Palm Trees instead of the Bob Ross Happy Tree.  And here is the final result!!
We were quite creative today!  
Becky and I even got out for a little walk around the lake while the other kids were playing back at the site with the neighbors.  It's nice to get out together once in a while!

Our site, could have used about 6 more feet to keep things straight with the Truck.

Launching Rocket Balloons in the field!

Ally, Lilly, Madie, and Bella playing horseshoes at the Pits!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Upcoming Trip Reports!

We have been out camping and have some upcoming trip reports in the works!  We recently spent a few days with some new camping friends in Lancaster PA followed by a week long trip to Assateague Island State Park in Maryland,... with an unexpected twist!

Next up is a fun summer trip to Knoebels, and then I can get some posting going here to relive our trips and share some new experiences while the kids are away at Summer Youth Camp.  Wow, this summer is going by fast so I hope that you readers out there are enjoying your time out camping with family and friends as well.

More to come, so please check back often for updates.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Passport 217exp - Modification Summary

This journey with our Passport 217exp all started back in August 2015, when we traded in our first Popup and took delivery.  A sad, and exciting, day all at the same time.  Since then I continue to tinker on the camper making things better for us as this is our long term solution for camping.  One Bed, Two Beds, Three Beds,.. so much flexibility for my wife and I, or all the kids, or kids and friends.

To see the modifications we have done to the 217, you can click thru the history on the right side of the page, or you can follow each link here below to go directly.  If you hold the CTRL key when you click on the link it will open in a new tab so you don't lose this page.

  1. Why we chose the 217
  2. Pre-purchase Inspection Findings
  3. Basic Initial Additions - Battery Disconnect, Reverse Lights Part 1, Other basics
  4. New Additions - Door Handle, Oven Cover, Electrical Trick, Awning Support, LP Switch Access
  5. Winterizing Tips - Using Air to blow out the lines
  6. Rear Hatch Strut - No more holding up with your Head!
  7. Backup Lights - Part 2 - Wheel Well LEDs when in Reverse 
  8. Popup Gizmos for the bunks to keep them cooler and cleaner
  9. Kitchen Backsplash with super easy sticky tile from Home Depot
  10. Kitchen Outlet and Fantastic Fan Installation
  11.  MaxAir Vent Cover on Fantastic Fan
  12. Black and Grey Flush Tank Kits - A very nice addition for that 'job'
  13. Pantry LED lights, just 5 minutes! and $17
  14. Boogie Lights LED Awning Light system
  15. Plumbing fixture upgrades - Bathroom and Kitchen
So,... what will I think of next  :-)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Plumbing Fixture Upgrades

Reasons for upgrading,.... we will be keeping this camper for the long haul,... haha,.. get it!?  And little investments like this will be nice to have.  The bathroom sink drove everyone crazy with the short spout it just made it difficult to really wash up or even brush your teeth.  Many times we have talked about replacing that.  The kitchen was more of a finish factor than a need.  The tall bent spout was loose and couldn't be tightened, at least that I could figure out.  It was made of plastic and definitely wasn't going to last for many years to come.  So, once we found a faucet that we liked for the bathroom we used that as a basis for the finish and form of the kitchen.

Bathroom Sink, notice the short spout


Bathroom was a simple upgrade as it was installed with PEX threaded connectors which are standard for faucets.  Reaching up behind the basin, I could just undo these and then reach the threaded on clamp rings for the faucet.  Undo those, and out came the old fixture.  A few minutes later after cleaning the counter the new fixture fit right into the standard holes and I could just thread on the new bracket and then re-connect the thread on PEX lines.  Literally it only took about 10 minutes total.

The kitchen would take a little longer.  The fixture that we have in the camper already was similar to the bathroom with thread on connections, but the new fixture we purchased had the need for a 3/8" compression fitting.  Since I have done the plumbing in my house I had two 1/4 turn shut off valves already for PEX and the output was the standard 3/8",... coincidence!  So, rather than type it out here I have a short video showing the final configuration for this installation.

Water connected and everything tested,... no leaks.  We will get a better review of this upgrade on our next trip in June after the kids are out of school.  Hard to believe another school year is nearing completion already.

Friday, May 5, 2017

2017 - Trip #1 - Little Red Barn, Quakertown, PA

Hooray!!  First weekend outing with the family and the camper is now completed!  We made a short hop with the camper over to a favorite little spot when we had our popup, Little Red Barn Campground.  This used to be a tent camping facility and the owners have made some improvements over the years to get it better situated for RVs and even some Class As.  But, be sure to bring along an extra 25' water hose or electric line to supplement your normal setup, as many of the sites still have crossed services making you scratch your head for where to place your camper for the best fit to both services.
Standing on Site 74, looking at our site on 73.  Needed 50' of water hose this time.
We were on one of the pull thru sites, #73 this time, which makes you face back the other direction when in line with the other campsites.  This is a little odd, but this time we didn't have anyone on 74 which we would have been directly facing.  #72 is a big pull thru for the larger campers which was also vacant for this weekend.  Setup was rather easy as the site was pretty flat and only required boards under the door side and the height front to back was just right after cranking up off the truck hitch.  Winds were light, so we could leave the awning open and hang our globe light, but more importantly give the LED awning a try.  WOW, those things are BRIGHT!  Since we faced towards other campers I toned them down a few clicks and put on a nice light blue.

The Night Setup 

First Camp S'Mores of the season!  New table with drink holders and Hershey's S'More box!
 Saturday was a relaxing morning and the girls made some new friends at the site a few down from us.  A family new to camping with two daughters.  We all went to the craft for the day which was Pine Cars for the Pine Car Derby later in the evening.  Just the basic kit, the wedges or blocks could be painted and wheels assembled, but to our girls they still thought it was cool.  They each did one car with their own characteristic style.

Ally's Croc, Madie's Snoopy Racer, Bella's #23 (year she graduates)
 After craft, we let all the kids play together again and the dad and I threw some washers while the ladies talked a little.  Found out, he worked for the airlines managing some of the ground crews for nearly 19 years, and he had 17 hrs in training for his Private Pilot before his kids came along.  We chatted a little about aviation and my current flying gig, the Paramotor.  Then, the kids made some noise and came running over saying Ally caught it!  What?  A Frog,... a big frog!  She named him "Bob", which is her current must name everything name.
Internet, Meet Bob.
Shortly after dinner it was time to go and race against the other kids in the Pine Car Derby.  A few rounds of racing in the bracket and the numbers were dwindling.  Bella was called again to race and we found out she won 3rd Place!!  For the one that wasn't super excited, she was now!

Our Globe Light with Camper inserts

Finally a good picture of Rob!

Bella is starting to like Cooking

Each season gets off to a different start.  Sometimes we have everything together and even some extras, and others,... well, we need to make a list.  Becky thought it would be fun to remind me that I forgot the bedding on our trip to Assateague two years ago and we had to purchase it all at Walmart.  At least we did with the new camper colors in mind.  So, here is our list to pack for next trip, where we will be in the woods of Lancaster PA for 4 nights.
Only a few things  :-)

Till next time,...

Happy Camping!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Boogie Lights Awning LED Lighting System

The newer 2016 model of our Passport 217 camper has an LED Awning light rather than a porch/patio amber light.  Our camper has the patio light which is really nice for when we are in a dark wooded campground to leave on at night in case we have to get back from BINGO or just relaxing by the fire.  The LED awning lights are sometimes a little bright at the campgrounds.

Enter the Boogie Lights LED Awning system.  These are available online and also on Amazon, isn't just about everything, and these have more options than a stock system.  These LEDs can change color, and have adjustable brightness, as well as sequences if you would like.  We planned to add these last year but things got in the way so I figured I would order them this year early before the season started so I would have some time to properly get them installed the way I wanted.  The instructions were very clear and even had many tips and tricks to help the installation go smoothly.  So,... grab a drink and watch below.

Pre-planning is always an important part of any project, even more so when looking to wire thru a camper walls and cabinetry.

The Installation begins with cleaning the camper well and then mounting the LED strip with 3M Adhesion promoter as well as high strength 3M tape.

I managed to even get some help on this project!  It is definitely a two person project to carefully clean the camper and also to support the LED.  You need to be sure it doesn't get twisted or kinked, as well as not to add tension to it when installing it.

Wire through the wall, with a slack loop.

Wiring things up inside took some time, but it turned out great and I'm very happy with it.  Here is a video of the installation path of the wires.

Cleaned up Switch Wiring inside the cabnets

Completed Switch Panel Installed

The Final Result!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

KULED Pantry Lighting

Quick and easy addition to the pantry area of the camper today!

I saw some discussion about these little LED lights on the Keystone camping forums and thought I would give it a shot.  For a few dollars on Amazon, you can purchase a 3 pack of these LED light bars that have an integrated motion sensor.  These will act like those motion lights you turn on at the frozen food section of the grocery aisle as you walk past.  Simply mounted with a magnetic strip that 3M tape adhears to the cabinet wall, they provide a nice light to the inside of the pantry to help you find that package of hot coco mix!

Here is a quick little video of the install and how they work.  ( Click here if you have trouble with video )

You can order them on Amazon at this link here: ( CLICK HERE )

More to come soon!