Do we have gas?

Catchy title, huh? It is not what you think! Propane keeps your RV warm, gives you hot water, stove and oven, and in some cases your refrigerator. It is a big challenge in winter is to make sure you have enough propane. You need it to keep yourself warm, but also to keep the pipes from freezing and breaking. We have had several different friends that woke up cold in the middle of the night! It is pretty hard to find a place that refills propane at 3 AM!

I have been afraid of this, so erred on the side of caution, and filled my tanks frequently. I knew there had to be a better way. There are guages that you can attach to your tank, but reviews were terrible! They were not accurate at all, and left several people with that 3 AM cold feeling……

There are also stickers that you can put on the side of the propane tank, but they only work well when the temperature is just right. Also, we have a plastic tank cover that would make reading these stickers pretty hard.

After digging around some more I found a better solution. It is the LP Tank Check with monitor. It has sensors that fit by magnet on the bottom of the tanks. Then there is a monitor that you can mount near your switches inside your RV. The best thing is an app on your phone that you can check the level of your tanks with amazing accuracy. It connects to the monitor or to your phone via bluetooth – so you have to be within 50 feet of your tanks.

Installation went very well. I went to Tractor Supply, and had my tanks filled. Then, before putting them back on HOWE (home on wheels) I turned the tank over, and cleaned the bottom. I put a bit of the dielectric grease on the bottom and stuck the sensor on. It has a strong magnet that holds the sensor on.

The only challenge is with the install of the standoffs, or risers to lift the tanks up for a bit. The sensor is thick enough that the bottom flange of the tank needs to be a little taller. They include aluminum standoffs that increase the height of the tank. They press on, and don’t stay on as well as I would have liked.

Pairing them was so easy that I forgot how it went. There were great instructions, and it was super fast.

screenshot of what it looks like on my iPhone

After installing these devices, I do not have to worry any more if I have gas or not.

Willard Bay State Park

3rd trip – Day 8-10, Sept 25-27 Willard Bay State Park, South Marina, Utah

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

We found this place from a camping app. A few days prior to going, I looked at reviews and they were awful! People, sometimes full-timers, said it was the worst campground they had ever been to. Some of the reviews were this month. I was a bit wondering. I even checked on availability at a KOA campground in Brigham City in case we needed to leave. 🙂 It wasn’t bad at all. The South Marina is a “parking lot” with grass (dead grass this time of year) behind the trailers with nice picnic tables and fire pits. We picked a site on the end and had lots of lovely trees around. Other tables that didn’t have shade had nice covers. Yes, there were a few mosquitoes but what do you except, you are by a lake. They weren’t bad at all. A few gnats but more in Helper than here (see other post). I know in the summer the bugs can get really bad around the lake.

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

We got settled into our camp spot and I took a walk-about. I like to see how other people set up their campsites. Next to us was a large motor home with 2 TV’s on the outside. Wow!

We couldn’t see the lake because we are next to a long berm, or dam. But across the bridge and up some stairs and wow, this fresh water lake is huge! There isn’t a beach here on the south side but there is a boat ramp. Several people were fishing. Of course I got my iPhone out and started snapping pictures.

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

For our evening walk-about we walked along the water on the berm/road. After about 15 minutes we started feeling the mosquitos and goodness, we should have sprayed ourselves. Kevin is sweeter than me and got several bites. I didn’t get bit at all. It was getting dark and we went inside, relaxed, and read. OH boy, we sure sleep great in our trailer! Every night is just like being in our comfy bed at home. The mattress is the same size, a queen, and very comfortable.

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

The next morning Kevin cooked on the Blackstone Griddle that his brother gave to us. He cooked hash browns, bacon and eggs. Delicious!

Come and get it! Breakfast is ready.

After cleaning up, we drove the truck north to the main marina. Kevin wants to try a kayak and we checked into them. They are cheap to rent. But the wind had picked up and it was a bit cold to be on the water. He will try it another time. We drove through the two campgrounds. Back to those reviews, some said the freeway noise was horrible. Kevin agreed. Something with the noise bouncing off the close mountain made it exceptionally noisy. (I wouldn’t know became I am deaf. 🙂 )We found a spot we would like to stay at on the water’s edge. Next time.

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina, Sept 25-27, 2020

Next we headed south to Lifetime Products Factory Outlet. They make hard plastic chairs, tables, play grounds and sheds. We were interested in a shed so we can move yard tools and things out of the garage. That way we have more room to get around our vehicles, and Kevin has more room in his wood shop. We found one we like and asked about “scratch and dent.” We bought one; the only thing that was damaged is the box. We will need to pick up this week. It is a cute one.

This is the finished shed after we put it together. 🙂

I looked up in my Traveler’s Quilt Book and found a few fabric stores in Ogden, where we were. We went to “My Heritage Fabric” and bought some fabric that had cute quilt saying on it. I will make them for my sewing friends for Christmas. As we were checking out, I saw a lady with an amazing panel: a map of the US and then National Parks around the edges. I have been looking for a good National Park fabric, even online, and everywhere was sold out. And I liked this one better than any others I had seen. After she left, I asked the saleslady for it. She said that lady had bought the last 3 panels. Oh, I was so disappointed. She offered to call her “sister store” and see if they have it. They do! We drove to the other side of town and got it. A darling store, in an old house, called, “Bertha & Beulah’s”. I got great fabric to go with the  panel. Kevin suggested a quilt for the trailer. Oh yeah!

My Heritage Fabrics quilt store.
Bertha & Beulah’s quilt store

On the way to our campsite, we stopped in at Smith & Edwards. It started out as a military surplus store. It still has a lot of military surplus, but has expanded to sporting goods, farm supplies – just about everything. It is a huge store. I mean, ridiculously huge. Kevin bought me a hiking pole.

Back to our campsite. After relaxing, armed with my new hiking pole, we walked along the lake for about a mile. The wind had picked up but it wasn’t really cold. We liked to watch the seagulls and the boats. We tried for find a geocache but it looked like it was in the canal. Nope, not going to do that. Back to the trailer and Kevin made smash burgers on the Blackstone. I had them all mixed and prepped in balls at home so it wasn’t so messy. Oh man, they are delicious! After dinner, Kevin made a fire in the fire pit. No bugs, light wind, perfect relaxation. Let me tell you, the sky gave the most amazing sunset. I kept running up to the lake and over to the trees to take pictures. The sky was breathtaking.  

Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020
Willard Bay State Park, South Marina Campground, Sept 25-27, 2020

Sunday morning I heated up the breakfast from yesterday. The temp outside was 47 but we were nice and warm inside. We didn’t even have to turn on our heater at all this trip. It as a great weekend and we want to come back. We will try the north campground by the lake but not in the summer.

As I look back at photos I have taken, I realize I like old posts. 🙂

History of Smith and Edwards

Willard Bay State Park

Just Put That Thing On The Coals.

A fun way to cook while camping is: put it together, set it on hot coals, let it cook, open it, and enjoy. Oh, clean up is easy because you throw it away.

Foil Pack cooked in the fire pit on hot coals

Let me explain. 🙂

A Foil Pack, also called Hobo Dinner, Packet, and several other names, is where you use aluminum foil to wrap up the food and then you place it on hot coals. You can cook all sorts of things this way. Start with 2 large pieces of aluminum foil (I like to double it so food doesn’t burn as easily.) You don’t want your food to stick to the foil so you can spray the foil with cooking spray, add butter, or add oil. Place the food in the center of the foil. Grab the long ends, bring them together and then roll down towards the food. Leave some room for air and steam. With the short ends, crimp and fold over a few times. You place the foil right on hot coals and let it cook. When it is done, use a shovel or tongs to take the pack off the coals. Be careful where you set the Foil Pack because it might melt something plastic. Open carefully, remembering the steam will be very hot. Let cool slightly and then enjoy. Be sure to look online for other tips to use. There are a lot of Foil Pack recipes online as well.

One time I had planned what sounded to be a yummy Foil Pack Breakfast. That morning I woke up and I thought, “ What? Am I crazy? How long will it take to start a fire, get it nice and hot, let it get coals and then be ready to place my Foil Pack on it? Too much time, I am hungry now.” 🙂 So instead, I made it in our trailer on the stove. Just like cooking at home.

Too hungry to wait for coals so I made this on the stove in the trailer. 🙂

Our favorite is Foil Pack Taco Burger & Potato Delight. In fact, years ago when we were camping, we made these. We liked them so much, we drove down the mountain to a store to buy more ingredients to make them again the next day. 🙂 

Foil Pack Taco Burger & Potato Delight

1 pound raw hamburger meat

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning

1/4 cup milk

3 cups frozen southern-style hash browns

1 can condensed fiesta nacho cheese soup

Mix the first four ingredients together. Form into 4 patties. Place one patty each on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Mix together the potatoes and soup. Put onto the 4 patties.

Cook about 40 minutes. Make sure to test the doneness of the meat.

Other ideas:

Italian sausage links, bell peppers, onions, olive oil

Chicken, taco seasoning, black beans, salsa

Flank steak, bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, provolone cheese

Nacho chips, cooked chicken, enchilada sauce, black beans, nacho cheese

Eggs, hash browns, ham, cheese

Camping Castle Gate RV Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

The possibilities goes on and on. Please share with me if you have a favorite Foil Pack recipe.

Who did the town of Helper help?

2nd camping trip- Day 5-7, Sept 11-13, 2020 Helper, Utah

Kevin found a campground through the app called “Good Sam” and we thought the area would be a nice place to explore. We left on Friday right after Kevin got off work. We drove up Highway 6 through Spanish Fork Canyon. The truck pulled the trailer with not a problem at all. Kevin is an excellent driver and very safe. Hwy 6 is a stretch of road that used to be the worst in the US. Thankfully, UDOT has added a lot of passing lanes and I know that has helped reduce so many accidents. We got to our campground and greeting us was a huge barn that is several stories tall. It looks new-ish and has the registration, store, and laundry for the campground. The people who built the campground said (on their website) that they traveled to Helper over the years for the Art Galleries, Christmas festivals, and other times throughout the year. They wished there was a campground there. So, they built one and it is charming. It is called, “Castle Gate RV Park”. The campsites have tiny, packed gravel with different colors so you know where to park.

Camping Castle Gate RV Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Once we got set up, we had sandwiches and then just relaxed for the evening. Our evening walk-about was nice with just a few swarms of gnats. When searching the area for things to do, I came across a museum that sounded like something we would enjoy. However, it  was closed due to Covid. That evening, I looked up the website again and it said closed, but opening in the Fall. Well, I exclaimed, THIS is Fall! HAHA 

The next morning Kevin called the museum and yes, indeed, they had opened back up the day before. Wahoo! After I cooked eggs and hash browns in the kitchen, we ate, and then drove through the tiny town of Helper. So named for the trains that need to “help” the long trains up the incredibly steep grade.

Display at Western Mining & Railroad Museum, Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Many of the houses are original to the coal mining days. The town has a small grocery store, several bars, a school, and a few other stores. We drove south of town because I thought I saw an old train water tower and building. As we got closer, we saw they weren’t ancient. 🙂 The railroad tracks led into an old repair building.

Train maintenance shed, Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

We followed a dirt road up the canyon and enjoyed beautiful mountains with layers of rocks. We were able to drive several miles before coming to the end of the road and a gate.

Beautiful layers of rock. Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Then it was off to see the Western Mining and Railroad Museum. Masks were required, which we were thankful for. We were there almost 3 hours! We decided to walk down the old main street. Many of the buildings we read about in the museum, we now saw with our eyes. How cool is that! It was way past lunch time but there wasn’t a lot open. We walked to a gas station, got big drinks, packaged ice cream treats and sat at a nice picnic table they had outside.

Main Street, Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Back to the campground for lunch. Then we took our chairs and walked behind our campsite where the rush water of Price River was flowing. We sat under the shade and read our books the rest of the afternoon.

Camping Castle Gate RV Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Dinner was foil dinner (AKA Hobo Packets) with brats, peppers and onions. You put the  pack right in the fire pit on the coals. It is done when I smell it. HAHA

Camping Castle Gate RV Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Ate outside and enjoyed it. We sat around the campfire the rest of the evening. One thing I noticed about our trailer is that the smoke doesn’t get inside the trailer. That is nice: I like campfire smell outside, not in. HAHA

The next day it was time to pack up and head home. The campground was great; I think with the rocks it would be terribly hot in the summer,  but when we were there, it was perfect.

If you want to learn more about Helper and the “help” the engines were to the railroad, read more here..

Wikipedia on Helper

Castle Gate RV Park

Railyard, Helper, UT Sept 11-13, 2020

Next time I will share some tips and recipes for camping.

I can’t believe I said that! I am deaf!

I became 100% deaf a year ago, March 2020. So how do Kevin and I communicate when he is driving? How do I help him back up the trailer into a campsite when I can’t hear what he wants me to do? How do I help set up the trailer when I am on the other side of the trailer and can’t hear when someone asked for something? These are just a few of the questions that come up for someone who is deaf. I ask you, if you are a hearing person, please read on so that you can understand what is going on for deaf people. If you are hard of hearing or deaf, I hope you find a helpful hint or two here.

Kevin and I have an amazing relationship: married over 32 years, best friends, and truly part of each other. We get along incredible well and are each other’s favorite person to be with. So with all that, suddenly I am deaf and we can’t communicate while he is driving, or when I am driving, for that matter. I can’t look away from the road to see what he is signing (American Sign Language) and he can’t let go of the wheel to sign while driving. What is a couple to do? It wasn’t until October last year when we finally figured out something that would work. I have an app on my iPad called “AVA” that we have used before. It needed internet connection and that doesn’t work when you are camping and driving around the middle of Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, for example. Around October, AVA company made it to work without internet connectivity. This opened up a whole new way for us. When Kevin is driving, I set the iPad on my lap and as he talks, AVA uses voice-to-text to type out his words. Now, believe me, it isn’t great and makes many mistakes including thinking we are swearing! 🙂 But it is better than no communication at all. While we have to start and stop the app often, it is fine because at least we can work on getting it right and thus having hours and hours of communication.

What about backing up the trailer? I call Kevin on FaceTime. He has the phone on the console in the truck but if he needs to communicate something with me, he can stop, pick it up and sign to me. I talk him through backing up. Instead of using “left/right” (which I think could be terribly confusing.) I say “driver’s side” or “passenger side” depending on which side I want the back of the trailer turned towards. It works out great for us. Well, except for one time! I was talking to him as he was backing up. I keep saying into FaceTime, “driver’s side” pause “driver’s side” pause “driver’s side (a little louder)! Then I start pointing because he isn’t putting the back of the trailer where it needs to go. Stop! I walk up to Kevin and he says he is so confused…did the mirrors get turned upside down because I am pointing in the opposite way I am talking. For goodness sake, I realize I had been saying the wrong side! So then I said, “Well….backseat DRIVER’s side?!” We were laughing so hard we were crying!!! Now don’t worry, this was backing up into a large storage space (we will tell you more about that when we get to October camping).

As for setting up or tearing down our campsite, I have found things that are helpful but don’t need to be talked about. I can set the chocks and stabilizers. Did you read the blog post about our first campground? My job then was just to stay out of the way. HAHA But now we have it down where I can help with a few things.

Now, here is the part where I can’t believe I said that!!!!! We will tell you more about this camping trip when we post about November but I will let you know this part now. 🙂 We were camping in Mesquite, NV and in November, it was a perfect warm place to be. We don’t eat out much because of Covid but in looking for a fabric store (squeal with excitement) we passed a Mexican restaurant with outdoor dining. We looked at each other, our eyes wide with excitement, as we both said we wanted to eat there that evening. Later that day, we went to this restaurant. The nice young man led us to our seats out on the patio. As he handed us the menus, I asked, “What do you recommend?” I kid you not! Sometimes I completely forget I am 100% deaf. This nice young man starts to rattle off what he recommends. I am trying to suppress a huge giggle and Kevin is about losing it, trying not to laugh. I nod politely as I assume he told me his recommendations. I was so glad Kevin was there to be able to answer follow up questions. We STILL laugh about this when we think about it.

Of course, losing one’s hearing isn’t all fun and games. It is life changing. I have jotted down little thoughts as I started down this journey of being deaf. Maybe I will share it sometime.

Sometime down the road, I will write about traveling on an airplane and tell you about being deaf and getting a wheelchair handed to me. 🙂

I would like to read any comments you have. Please comment below. Do you have questions about being deaf or hard of hearing? Are you deaf or hard of hearing and having ideas to share to help others who are traveling? Comment below. Thank you.

Craters of the Moon

We left our trailer at the KOA, and drove to Craters of the Moon National Monument. We had been there before, but I got a new passport book, and a goal is to get as many stamps as possible in the book. A lofty goal would be to get all of the national parks stamped! The drive up there was nice, as there was a lot of farmland to see. The visitors center was closed due to Covid. I understand this, but it was disappointing because you couldn’t get a feel for what makes the park special.

Craters of the Moon is a park like no other. It is a gigantic lava field with different types of lava. By types I mean it was how the liquid lava dried. Some dried in smooth flows, others in a splatter pattern. There are miles and miles of black, hardened lava. In places, dirt blown in from erosion is starting. Some green plants are following the dirt. It is definitely an other-worldy feeling. The park itself has a one-way loop with several spots to pull off and hike. We took a short walk and looked at where the trees and plants are getting their start in this barren landscape.

We still had some time in the day, so we saw a pamphlet for Shashone Ice Caves. They offer tours through a lava tube that has ice in it year round. Sounds interesting! When we pulled up, we instantly knew it was a tourist trap. There were high walls up hiding whatever is behind it. There was a huge 40 – 50 foot dinosaur with a caveman riding on top. When we went in to see about tickets, the small gift shop was PACKED with people! Many were not wearing masks, none were social distancing. That was the last straw…..we went no further. It looks like the actual tour might have been interesting, but we had a hard time getting beyond the tourist trap facade.

We then drove to Sun Valley. It is well known for skiing. Since we live in Utah (greatest snow on earth) it left us a bit disappointed. Since we are not skiers, and it was still early fall…..it would be hard to judge. We were used to Park City where it FEELS like you are in the mountains. This didn’t have that feeling for us. We still had a blast driving.

I listened to an audio book and Charla read while we were driving back to HOWE (Home on Wheels). When we got there, I lit a fire, and we roasted hot dogs. You can’t beat roasted hotdogs over a campfire. We then relaxed, people watched, and walked around the campground. We went into the camp store, and they had a lot of cute things. Charla was impressed that grocery items weren’t overpriced.

The next day we packed up and started heading home. There were warnings for strong winds, and it threw us around a bit going home. You know, we “accidentally” scheduled to be hungry when we were going by Tremonton, Utah. JC’s diner has the best chicken fried steak! I am sure they have other menu items, but the chicken fried steak is so good, it will be a while before I try anything else.

This was a fun first trip. It was great to realize that we were prepared and did not forget anything. We did add a few things to our shopping list for the next trip though. Amazon is my friend.

Fabric Store and a Bridge

I started a new hobby in Feb. 2020. It is quilting. My friend told me fabric stores in different parts of the country will often have a section of fabric MATCHING their surrounding area. (For example, a fabric store in the Southwest of the USA might have more fabric that shows a southwestern theme.) She showed me a book she used when they traveled around the country. The book has a new updated edition often. It is called Quilters Travel Companion and shows fabric stores from every state. Kevin bought me the latest edition and we decided that we “must” look up a fabric store in the places we travel. 🙂 This book is how we came upon the idea to stop at Rupert, Idaho. I had looked up the store on the map a few days before and saw there is only parallel parking in front of the store so we knew we would need to park a few blocks away since we were pulling our travel trailer. It being a Saturday, it wasn’t a problem to park farther away in an industrial area. The Gathering Place boasts 10,000 sq feet of fabric. Of course I found a cute Autumn fabric to buy. 🙂 Kevin liked this store a lot…he could relax while I looked around!

Kevin is happy The Gathering Place fabric store has a comfy chair!
Continue reading “Fabric Store and a Bridge”

We almost sold it!

1st – Day 1-4, Sept 4-7, 2020 On the way to Craters of the Moon. Idaho

It was so hard to wait for Kevin to get off work because we were both so excited for our first camping trip in our new trailer. The second he was done, we were out of here. As Kevin was driving, the truck would seem to float and at some times seemed like it was picked up and when the front came down, it might almost be in a different lane. It was really bad when the road was rough. The ride was so bumpy. He had to slow down quite a bit. I thought we would just have to camp very close to home because it was so hard for Kevin to drive and almost made me motion sick. We were both disappointed. Maybe we just need to sell the trailer?!

Charla, staying out of the way!

We stayed at Aspen Grove Campground in Tremonton, UT. We pulled into the campground and was shown to our site. It is fairly new so the trees weren’t grown. No campfires allowed. I guess because it is in the middle of the town and maybe people would not like the smoke? I don’t know. But that was fine with us. Kevin got electricity and water all set up and I did my job…stay out of the way!

Why do I need to stay out of the way? Well, how do you ask someone on the other side of the trailer to do something when she is deaf and can’t hear? HAHA It is easier for him to do the set up then run around, find me, sign (American Sign Language) to me, and then go about what he was doing. 🙂 Once Kevin had the hoses, cords, chocks, and stabilizers all set up I was able to set up inside. This being our first night out in our trailer I had made a pasta salad at home and put in the fridge. We ate outside in our camp chairs. After supper, we decided to go for a walk and look for geocaches. Downtown Tremonton has some neat old buildings. Because of Covid, we weren’t able to go into them but hope to at some point down the road. I was able to take a picture of a very old building. The center park was pretty. We only found one of a chain of geocaches but that was fine with us. We enjoyed the walk. Went back to the trailer and sat outside as it got dark. Our trailer bed is a queen and so so so comfortable! I couldn’t believe it. We both slept great.

The next morning, after bagels and coffee/hot chocolate, Kevin emptied the black tank (holds stuff from the toilet) and gray tank (holds the water from the sinks). He noticed they were very full for how little we used them. Then we were on our way. Immediately we could tell a difference in how the truck felt. It turns out…the gray and black tanks were full! The RV place had filled them to check for leaks but didn’t empty them and didn’t tell us. THAT is why it was such an uncomfortable ride!! HAHAH Whew, we were so relieved we were giddy. We don’t have to sell it!! The rest of the drive was smooth and we could go faster.

Next stop…Idaho.

I wonder what this building used to be used for. Tremonton, UT

1st camping spot. Tremonton, UT.

Internet – when we want it, where we want it

We live in an age where internet is a necessity. We are not in the position to retire, so I need reliable internet to work from any location we happen to be in. From my experience, campground wireless internet is hit and miss. Even if I am connected, it is not fast enough even for basic work.

So what is the answer? There are several different options out there, but the best and most reliable is cellular. I have an iPhone that I can “hotspot” my computer to, and so far it has been working great! The challenge is when cellular signal is not good.

Continue reading “Internet – when we want it, where we want it”

What? I can’t hear you!

Covid 19 in 2020 was and continues to be a big deal to everyone. I don’t need to tell you about it because everyone in the entire world experienced the “shutting down” of life as we knew it. On March 19, 2020, I experienced something different. I became 100% deaf. I was Hard of Hearing (HoH) for several years. I was deaf without my hearing aids but with lipreading and the aids, if I could hear the cadence of the voice, I did pretty well. But all that changed on that day. Thankfully, we knew this would happen at some point but were a bit shocked it came earlier than we had hoped. Over the past few years we have been learning American Sign Language. What a blessing! Kevin and I are still able to communicate by using this beautiful language.

Below is a picture of me watching a movie on my iPad. I have to have the closed captions on. Sometimes they help but sometimes they are a mess!

The fun logs is the balcony of Daniel’s Summit Lodge. We spent a great weekend here including lots of walks in the mountains, relaxation, and even our first time on Razors. Whoa, what a blast!

Be sure to follow along because I will be sharing tips, tricks, and my experiences as I navigate this world and traveling while being deaf.