Splendide Washer/Dryer Combo again


I’ve written before about Second Wave Expenses – these are expenses that arise from equipment wearing out, etc. and needing to be replaced. While you can’t anticipate all of this kind of stuff it is wise to leave some wiggle room in your budget to update or replace items. If you aren’t ready the unexpected expenditures can put a real crimp in your traveling lifestyle.

In our case, the latest Second Wave expense is the untimely death of our Splendide 2100XC. One of the first things we bought in preparation for fulltiming was the Splendide. In fact, we bought our used 5th wheel, went straight to a tire shop and had new tires put on it and then we dropped the new-to-us rig off to have the Splendide installed.

If you haven’t used one of these machines let me describe it’s use. This is an all-in-one unit that washes and dries in the same drum. It is made for tight quarters so it is nothing like a big home style washer and dryer set. The loads are small and it washes a bit bigger load than it dries. As a rule of thumb, you wash a load a day.

Because of that, the Splendide gets used a lot. My estimate is that our Splendide did 2500 loads and served us for seven years before it died of bearing failure. This failure was telegraphed to us as the poor machine began shaking the rig even more than usual during it’s spin cycle.

Really, no complaints.

We found that a local dealer had these washer/dryers on sale and decided to just bite the bullet and get a new one. Frankly, if the new one gives us the same service we’ll be satisfied. Still, these kind of Second Wave expenses do tend to bring pain to the bank account.

Other Splendide posts are here.

Fulltiming and the Coronavirus

2019 – Airport Park CoE, Waco, TX

The coronavirus outbreak is a fluid situation.  Today’s guidance from officials may be outdated by this evening.  To some extent we are all just waiting for the next domino to fall.  Fulltime RVers aren’t exempt from all the uncertainty.  The other day I saw a meme on Facebook picturing a class C parked alone on a peninsula overlooking a pretty lake.  The caption, meant to bring a smile, said that they were practicing social distancing.  Then, in less than a day I saw a news article that New Mexico was closing its campgrounds.  I couldn’t help but wonder if that RV was being evicted from that isolated spot.

I see that FMCA and Escapees have announced changes in their rally schedules.  No doubt that leaves some fulltimers looking for a place to land now that they won’t be attending their rally as planned.

In our case, we’re still at our winter campground.  In fact, we had already planned on a longer than usual stay while I serve as interim pastor at a local church during their pastoral search.  A few days ago I mentioned to the campground management that we just might be staying into the summer – not because of the church assignment but because our summer plans might be disrupted by the pandemic.

At this point I think fulltimers might be wise to find a campground they like that will allow longer stays.  Many of us are in the higher risk group and it makes sense to take advantage of our more unstructured lifestyle to land in an acceptable spot and wait for the storm to blow over. Of course, everyone has their own particular concerns: family needs, events, appointments and the like. If possible, though, I’d be looking into suitable long term parking.

And, while I’m writing, I’ll switch to my pastoral identity for a moment.  From a health point of view, we’re urged to wash our hands to protect against a virus infection.  From a spiritual point of view, I urge you to spend time with the Lord – maybe whispering a 20 second prayer each time you wash your hands – pray for our world and for ourselves and those we love.  Ask the Lord to protect you against the infection of fear and anxiety that is sweeping across the world. Also, you might include a prayer of thanksgiving for running water and soap. Oh yeah, also pray for our President and other national leaders; maybe health care providers and medical researchers too.

Come to think of it, you might need more than 20 seconds for those prayers.

2020 – Plans written in Jello


The phrase “our plans are written in jello” didn’t originate with us. However, we think it’s a great way to describe not only our touring RV lifestyle but our general approach to living. Twice before we adjusted our plans to serve as interim pastor. This year we’ve been asked to serve the Houston Southwest Church of the Nazarene in Richmond, TX during their pastoral transition. We’re enjoying getting to know the good folks of the church – they’ve made us feel right at home.

Hopefully, our presence will smooth the transition between pastors. Once we finish at Southwest we plan on yet another type of RV adventure, but that plan is also written in jello at this point.

2020 – Green Caye, Dickinson, TX

Green Caye RV Park, Dickinson, TX

We’ve been at Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, TX several times through the years so we pretty much know what to expect when we arrive.  Some of our favorite spots are in the cul-de-sacs of the campground.  There’s a bit of a community feel in these areas of the campground.   Most of the people in the cul-de-sacs are long term residents who get to know one another.  Since the cul-de-sacs are quieter with larger sites they are popular.  When we arrived at the campground in November we asked to be put on a waiting list for one of these sites.  Today, in February a spot opened up and we were able to move in.

We will be here for a while as I’m filling in as an interim pastor at a local church.  I’ll do another post about that later on.  For now, we are enjoying our new spot – about 1000 feet from our old one but a nice step up for us.

2019 – End of the Year Expense Report

doing-the-budget
Here’s our 2019 end of year Expense sheet…

I’m listing the camping related expenses as line item monthly averages. Then, I total everything else up and give just a general dollar figure. If you are researching fulltime RVing you already know what you pay for food, health insurance, etc. (or even if you don’t, my figures for such things won’t have any real world connection to what you spend on them). Also, by combining the non-RVing expenses I feel I’m better able to maintain our privacy.

We didn’t do any volunteering this year, so our campsite expenses are what we actually spent (with memberships prorated and included).  One mitigating factor here is that we spent about four months paying a monthly rate.  The rest of the time we enjoyed our touring lifestyle, moving an average of every 9-10 days.

I want you to know that our 2019 RV Maintenance and upgrades expenses aren’t as accurately reported as has been done in the past.  In January we bought a 2005 Safari Cheetah motorhome.  We sold our 5th wheel and pickup, and then bought a small car to tow.  I’ve never included capital expenditures in these reports.  This year as we moved into the motorhome we had many “moving in expenses” that I lumped into the cost of the RV; they aren’t reflected in this report.  Beyond that, as we began traveling, we had a mixture of RV expenses…some were part of getting set up for travel. Others were related to problems that developed as part of living the RV lifestyle.  I’ve tried to separate out the “we’re just getting the new rig ready for travel” from the “stuff happens” kind of expenses.  I’m considering the “getting ready” costs as part of buying the rig.  The other costs are included, but the figures are more ball park numbers and not as exact as they have been in other years’ reports.

And, sorry to say the higher medical costs from the previous year continued into this year, driving up our “just living” numbers. Aside from that our expenses have been fairly level compared to other years.

As you consider this expense report please remember that we aren’t trying to get by as cheaply as possible.  We just try to live within our means.   With the motorhome purchase and setup this year, we stretched things to (and honestly beyond) the limit!  There’s a lot of minimalist information on the internet – if that is your goal, this information won’t help you very much.  In other words, this isn’t a competition to see who can spend the least.

2019 Monthly Expense Averages
Camping fees (Out of pocket + pro-rated annual memberships*) $408.36
Cell/Internet/TV $256.87
Diesel (pickup sold early in the year, the rest was fuel for only the motorhome) $175.58
Gas (note that we now tow a small, very fuel efficient car for a daily driver) $39.43
Misc $25.88
RV Maintenance and upgrades (see the explanation above)
$500.00
Vehicle Maintenance (Mostly on the pickup prior to it’s sale in the early spring)
$185.89
Registrations/Vehicle Insurance (prorated to monthly and adjusted to reflect vehicle purchases and sales) $217.50
Propane $3.17
Mail Service $15
TOTAL $1827.68
Non RV expense – food, medical, “just living”** TOTAL $2275.80
MONTHLY GRAND TOTAL AVERAGE
$4103.80

*Note 1: Like Thousand Trails, Good Sams, etc. – prorated to monthly cost -but NOT including original buy in costs, if any

**Note 2: These expenses include items like: Groceries & Dining Out, Clothing, Hair, Medical & Dental Expenses, Charity, Health Insurance, and Entertainment – but not Income Tax and a few other expenses – or capital expenses like buying a car and getting it set up to tow four down

PS: If you find this information helpful, please leave a short comment so I’ll know it is worth the effort needed to provide it. Thanks.

Annual Expenditures Wrapup

Note: These are the same figures you’ll find in the individual annual expense reports (which show monthly averages rather than annual totals).  Those posts offer a bit more explanation and detail.

Note 1: 7 months of  fulltiming, pro-rated to a year

Note 2: Here’s why 2016 is missing

Note 3: Like Thousand Trails, Good Sams, Passport America, etc.

Note 4: Prior to buying our motorhome in 2019 we only had the car with us 3-6 months each year

Note 5: These expenses include items like: Groceries & Dining Out, Clothing, Hair, Medical & Dental Expenses, Charity, Health Insurance, and Entertainment – but not Income Tax and a few other expenses

2019 – Adventure Map

Other travel maps: 2013201420152016 – 2017 – 20182019

1. Green Caye RV Park, Dickinson, Texas – Review
2. Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, TX – Our Ford C-Max Towed Review
3. Southern Living RV Park, Greenwood, LA – Review
4. Ameristar RV Park, Vicksburg, MS – SightseeingReview
5. Wendy Oaks RV Resort, Florence, MS – Review
6. Roosevelt State Park, Moran, MS – Review
7. Little Tallapoosa Park, Carrollton, GA – Review
8. Pine Ridge Campground, Roebuck, SC – Review
9. Forest Lake Thousand Trails, Advance, NC – Billy Graham LibrarySightseeingReview
10. Holly Point Campground, Wake Forest, NC Review
11. Williamsburg Thousand Trails, VA – Jamestown SettlementBerkeley PlantationReview
12. Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails, Gloucester, VA – Battleship WisconsinRevolution MuseumReview
13. Harbor View Thousand Trails, Colonial Beach, VA – Museum of the Bible – Washington, DCGeorge Washington Birthplace – Colonial Beach, VALots to see in the Northern Neck of VirginiaReview
14. Gettysburg Farm Thousand Trails, Dover, PA – SightseeingReview
15. Circle M Thousand Trails, Lancaster, PA – SightseeingReview
16. Hershey, PA Thousand Trails – SightseeingReview
17. Back to Gettysburg Farm Thousand Trails, Dover, PA – Review
18. Thompkins CoE Campground, Lawrenceville, PA – Sightseeing Watkins Glen, NY State ParkReview
19. Daisy Barn Campground, Wilson, NY – SightseeingReview
20. Kenisee Lake Thousand Trails, Jefferson, OH – SightseeingReview
21. Overnight on the Road – SE Michigan
22. In for repairs at Elkhart, IN
23. Horseshoe Lakes Thousand Trails, Clinton, IN – SightseeingReview
24. Bo Wood CoE, Sullivan, IL – Review
25. Stanton / Meramec KOA, MO – Review
26. Beagle Bay RV Haven & Campground, Sarcoxie, MO – Review
27. Belle Starr CoE, Eafaula, OK – Review
28. Lake Texoma Thousand Trails, Gordonville, TX Review
29. Airport Park CoE, Waco, TX Review
30. Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, TX Review
31. Green Caye RV Park, Dickinson, Texas

Reflecting on our 2019 Adventure

Click on the map for details

Our 2019 Adventure was our first year in our 2005 Safari Cheetah diesel pusher motorhome. Traveling in the motorhome as opposed to the 5th wheel presented a bit of a learning curve for us. We got the Cheetah in January and put a lot of effort getting comfortable on the “camper side” of the rig. However, when we started traveling in April (and in spite of our having taken a few shake down cruises in it) we began finding mechanical issues that needed attention. Not only that, but we had a few mishaps that added to the list of needed fixes. We worked our way through them as we traveled and finally felt we had resolved most of problems.

Over all we drove the motorhome just over 4200 miles, visiting 31 campgrounds in 17 states. Our longest move day was 305 miles but our average move was just 136 miles.

Our winter stay was a bit longer than usual. Our year started and ended at Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, Texas – 150 days total for the year. This isn’t anything close to being our favorite park, but it is near friends and family (and doctors) so it is a reasonable winter landing spot for us.

Our Thousand Trails membership continues to be a good investment for us. This year we spent 154 nights at Thousand Trails campgrounds in six states.

Our favorite campgrounds, though, remain Corps of Engineers campgrounds. Our America the Beautiful pass makes these great campgrounds a real bargain for us.

One of the highlights of the year for us was having our family join us at Hershey, PA Thousand Trails. We had a great time visiting all the sights of the Hershey-Lancaster-Gettysburg area. It was especially fun sharing with them some of our favorite attractions in the area – places like Jiggers in Mt Gretna and the Bird In Hand Farmer’s Market.

The other highlight of our year was celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary at Niagara Falls.  We celebrated all week, exploring the area everywhere from the beautiful Gorge to taking a boat ride through locks on the Erie Canal.  We saved our day at the Falls for the actual date of our anniversary and then went out for an excellent meal after a busy day at the Falls.

In a couple of weeks I’ll finish the year with an expense report – admittedly, it has been a pretty expensive year. Still, as you can see, we got a lot of bang for our buck!

2019 – Lake Conroe, TX Thousand Trails


We’ve stayed at Lake Conroe Thousand Trails near Conroe, TX several times and I’ve written several reviews of the place. Rather than rehash previous reviews I’m going to focus on just the new section (Section B) which is near the entry gate. It seems strange to us to be set up in a nice campground loop that we remember as a big, unused field. Even now new construction continues as vacation cottages are being built adjacent to the new Loop. There’s a lot to like about this section. The roads are very good and the campsites are all concrete, including a large concrete patio on each site. There are several pull through sites in addition to nice, easy access back in sites. As you can guess this new area of the campground is quite popular and sites in it don’t stay vacant for long.

Still, there are some things you might want to know about “B Loop.” As nice as the sites look, several are rather sloped. Pay attention to the back in sites closest to the big retaining wall. The sites aren’t all sloped, but some motorhomes had tires a considerable distance off the ground as people tried to get level. People in 5th wheels can get by better than those in longer motorhomes, but some have considerable piles of blocks under their jacks. On the other hand we were backed into a beautiful site on the north side of the section and got level front to back without much effort. I wouldn’t even try some of the other sites.

The only other thing to think about is that the new section is a ways from the Activity Center, the pool, and especially the lake. If you have children who want to spend time at the basketball, tennis, and mini-golf facilities you might be happier in a campsite closer to the center of the campground. In that case, the real plus of the new section for you is that there are more sites available in sections of the campground closer to the recreation facilities.

Click this for full screen photos

2019 – Airport Park CoE, Waco, TX


As I have said before, Corps of Engineers campgrounds are our favorites and we have enjoyed Airport Park CoE again this stay. The campground is located on the northwest side of Waco on Lake Waco. There are many campsites with great lake views. We were in the middle loop. Only three of the campsites in our loop have full hookups. All three FHU sites are on the side of the road away from the lake. We still had great views but there were campers in pull through sites (but no sewer) between us and the lake. I think the loop most distant from the entry has more FHU spots. On future visits we will probably try for one of those sites (but see the information on the airport below).

A previous review is here.

Still, though, we had little to complain about. Our view out the front window was very nice, the site was paved and easy access, and we enjoyed having FHUs. Most of the sites slope a bit toward the water. Because of that I noticed that the motorhomes especially that had back in sites with the rear of the camper toward the water had a harder time getting level – something to keep in mind when making reservations.

And, if you are coming over the weekend, you will want to make a reservation. This popular campground fills up often.

The fact that this is called “Airport park” might help serve notice that the campground is adjacent a busy airport. Everything from recreational small planes to passenger jets to military aircraft come and go. During our visit a major fall cold front came in (record lows in the 20’s matter of fact). With a north wind, the air traffic came and went right over the campground and lake. Our middle campground was a bit west of the primary traffic – that most distant campground I mentioned was directly under it. After a few days the wind shifted and so did the air traffic. There was still some action, but not nearly as much.

Waco is a neat city with lots to see and do. We visited Magnolia attractions, went to a big Christmas market and book sale, and walked across the famous Brazos river bridge in downtown. There is more to see, but this is not our first visit to Waco. With the cold, rainy weather throughout the first part of our visit we were mostly happy to hang out at the campground, staying inside, enjoying the view.

This is a great campground and we recommend it to you.

Click this for full screen photos