Toilet Upgrade?

Now this may be one subject y’all may not have expected to be reading about this morning, but I have had some questions lately from customers about what they can do to upgrade their RV’s either for their own comfort, from the standpoint of increasing resale value, or doing some inexpensive upgrades to help decrease the amount of time their RV is on consignment. A lot of folks skip the lav area…other than making sure it’s clean.

Thetford Aqua Magic STYLE PLUS Toilets

Thetford Aqua Magic STYLE PLUS Toilets

If you own an RV that’s 10 years old or older, chances are that installing a new toilet is just what the doctor ordered. Not only does it allow you an opportunity to change the seat height if needed, and if you’re getting older that is a surprisingly helpful option. Let’s talk about seat height for a minute. Have you ever had that stiff back first thing in the morning? Maybe you didn’t stretch before playing 18 holes the day before, or maybe you spent a fair bit of time walking on concrete, or maybe that mattress just isn’t as supportive as it used to be. Well, having a higher seat will prevent you from wincing as much when you have to sit down in the lav. On the other hand if you’re traveling with young children and having a higher seat isn’s as important to your age group, installing a lower seat will help prevent…um, accidents with your kiddos.

If some of you have the older style blade-and-seal style toilets, you know how sometimes toilet paper can get caught in that groove that the blade goes into. Well, if you upgrade to these more modern styles that particular problem will go away. The ball and seal on these newer models do wear, but you won’t have to get after them with a screwdriver at the most inopportune times to clear a jam! If you’re interested in checking these new toilets out, more information can be found HERE.

Take a Step Up!

step-stool-yellow kwikee-quadra-step

There are those days, and sometimes those parking situations, where a little help making that first step up into the camper or RV is greatly appreciated! Y’all have probably been there too: managed to park perfectly over that pothole so now the last step down onto the ground is almost twice the length it used to be. Pretty dangerous when you think about it, especially in the dark! So one of the ways to mitigate that problem is either carrying a small folding stool with you, or mounting those retractable step that you can extend when needed. It just depends on what kind of gear you’re camping in as to what you need, both have their advantages and disadvantages.

The folding stool needs no introduction, everyone has seen one in there Mama’s kitchen or out in Dad’s workshop. Their advantage is their portability, lightweight, and overall handiness. I mean you can sit on one next to the campfire, use one to step down from the RV, step up to reach something in the top cabinets, as well as use them to help out during maintenance. The disadvantage is that they need a fairly large area of fairly flat surface otherwise they tip over, and take you with them.

As for the retractable step, they are amazing! They’re very sturdy, rigidly mounted to the entrance door area of your camper or RV, they come in various sizes to fit various uses, and most of all they are always there when you need them. The disadvantage, of course, is they’re only able to be used in one spot…and if you’re independent like me…the other disadvantage is asking your son-in-law to help you get them mounted to the RV, I prefer doing things myself!

Both styles are beneficial, and help solve some fairly unique problems, so my suggestion is to have both available for all those “what-ifs” that seem to pop up. And why not? The retractable steps fold up and out of the way under the chassis, and the folding stool obviously folds up and you can stow them out of the way next to the fridge or where ever it fits in your own situation. Both styles can be researched, priced, and admired right HERE. Adding a step to your RV beats adding a limp to your life! Love y’all, Nana.

Winter Chores to Maintain Your RV

Vicki Watkins/Flickr Creative Commons

For those of y’all that aren’t year-round RVers and who put their baby to bed to hibernate all winter, this article is for you. You’ve winterized your RV. You have gone down the checklist, everything is buttoned up, and you’re just waiting for springtime to arrive to pull the covers off and head back out on the road. You’re pretty much done for the winter right? You can park your feet on the coffee table and wait for the temps to climb back up right? Well sure, but there are some things you can check on during this winter break that will make your transition from hibernating to vacationing a little smoother.

For example, do you have your RV or camper trailer under a cover? Is it just a blue plastic tarp? Maybe think about using a breathable cover so mildew and mold doesn’t grow under the plastic tarp which you’ll just have to bleach and scrub on in the spring. Also, if you have a camp trailer, make sure that it’s stored with the tongue at an angle so rain or snow will run off and not just collect in big puddles. Water-based storage problems are pretty common down here on the Gulf Coast all year long!

Another thing to think about doing is if you are storing your RV or trailer on it’s wheels over the winter, move it forward a foot or so every now and then so the tires don’t “get square”. While we’re talking about tires, another thing that is good to do especially if you’re storing your camper outdoors is to place something between the tires and the ground. Think about a small sheet of plywood for example, something larger than the footprint of the tires. This will help prevent the trailer sinking into the ground during the winter. And don’t forget those chocks!

Winter is the slow time for a fair portion of the RVing community, but you can use this time to help your transition from shed to road be that much faster. And remember to come say howdy to us over at the website, we can help you with any parts or accessories you may require during the winter.

A Christmas Orange: a PPL Motorhomes Family Story

Kumar’s Edit/Flickr Creative Commons

One of my wonderful co-workers, Andrea J., has done a really wonderful thing and shared one of her Christmas family traditions with all of us at PPL Motorhomes this holiday. It’s a story that comes with a simple, but powerful message and really captures the spirit of giving and selflessness. Here’s how the story goes.

Jake lived in an orphanage with nine other young boys. In the winter time it seemed any extra money went for coal to heat the old buildings. At Christmas, the buildings always seemed a little warmer, and the food a little more plentiful, but more than this—Christmas meant an orange. It was the only time of the year such a rare treat was provided, and it was coveted by each boy like no other thing they ever possessed.

Each boy would save his orange for several days, admiring it, feeling it, loving it, and contemplating the moment he would eat it. Some would even save it until New Year’s Day or later, much like many of us relish saving our Christmas trees and decorations until New Year’s just to remind us of the joy of Christmas.

This particular Christmas Day, Jake had broken the orphanage rules by starting a fight. The orphanage mother took Jake’s orange away as a punishment for breaking the rules. Jake spent Christmas day empty and alone. Nighttime came and Jake could not sleep; silently, he sobbed because this year he would not have his orange to savor with the other boys.

A soft hand placed on Jake’s shoulder and startled him and an object was quickly shoved into his hands. The child then disappeared into the dark to leave Jake alone to discover a strange looking orange—an orange made from segments of nine other oranges—nine highly prized oranges that had to be eaten that Christmas night, instead of saved, admired, and cherished until a later date.

This year, may the orange remind us all of the unselfish love taught to us by our Savior that we share for each other.

Of course this story was handed out to every PPL employee by Andrea and, of course, it was accompanied by a ripe and delicious orange. Her simple act of generosity, thoughtfulness and sharing of a family tradition inspired me to write and share it with all of my readers. It’s a simple story with a wonderful message that I will never forget. So, as the holidays come and go, it certainly isn’t the only time we should be generous and count our blessings. Every day I wake up, I will look in the mirror and remind myself to always be grateful for my family, friends, co-workers and my fellow humans…then I have an orange for breakfast and give one to someone in need.

The Christmas Card Is Alive and Well for RV Nana!

Mike Brand/ Flickr Creative Commons

The Christmas card is a wonderful part of my Christmas each year.  In our family we had a tradition where we would place all the unopened Christmas cards we received in a holder and one of our traditions was to open all of them on Christmas Eve.  It was a special time when we would look at the wonderful photo cards, enjoy the letters and the sentiments and walk down memory lane.  Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle of our lives along with the electronic world we live in has made many people simply stop sending them.  It’s really hard to walk down memory lane reading a multitude of email memos. Not to mention, the card itself says so much about the person sending it.  From religious sentiments, snowmen, Santa or puppy dogs to Garfield and Snoopy, each one is unique to that sender.

I would love to say that I am so organized that I have all my packages wrapped, food prep done and cards all in the mail early in December, but that is not me.  I am what some refer to as the over achiever.  I always add one more thing to my list, one more party to host, one more event to attend, one more decoration to hang or cookie to bake and I really wouldn’t want my life to be any other way.  My holidays are always busy and I always plan more things than there are hours in the day.  Because of my self-inflicted hustle and bustle I have to admit that I have been known to mail out Christmas cards the day before Christmas (and then there is the one year that I sent Valentines cards instead).  It really didn’t matter when I sent them because my friends all know that I am a last minute kind of girl.  The message is what really matters.  I am one of those people who writes a small book on some of the cards in hopes of bringing a smile to someone’s face.

So, take time to send a card today and, hopefully, it will make you smile inside.  After all, friends, family and memories are what make the holidays special!  Merry Christmas!

Post-Thanksgiving Relaxation: RV Style!

Matthew Juzenas/Flickr Creative Commons

We survived another Thanksgiving y’all! The leftover turkey is carved up into easily stored to-go style containers, the family has wandered off to their favorite Black Friday spots, the grandkids are probably watching cartoons or movies, and now it’s time for a nice, brisk sit. We all have our favorite ways to relax, but today I thought I could give you folks, specifically you RVing ladies out there, some suggestions that you may not have thought of.

The key to getting thoroughly relaxed is to get some solitude, so here’s what you do: while your husband is at Sears buying all the Craftsman stuff he could ever need, and while your kids are out buying that 136″ flat screen TV Walmart had advertised at $49.99, and while the grandkids are curled up in front of the TV, now would be the perfect time to grab a bottle of your favorite wine, sneak the keys to the RV into your pocket, and loudly tell one of the teenage grandkids that you’re going to go walk the dog and would they look after the younger kids while you’re gone? Once they have rolled their eyes and said, “Yeah gramma!” you make your escape!

Walk quickly and quietly out to the RV, looking neither right nor left, swiftly unlock the door, flip on the lights and the AC/heater, and lock the door behind you. Close all the shades, roll out the slide outs, have a nice quiet sit in your favorite chair and pour yourself a much deserved glass of wine. This is a perfect time to purge your mind of all the drama of Thanksgiving. It doesn’t matter anymore that your daughter-in-law didn’t eat any of your stuffing, or that your son-in-law insisted on telling awful jokes all through dinner. It doesn’t matter that your husband didn’t lift a finger to help all week long. None of that matters now, all that matters is you’re alone with your wonderful glass of wine, it’s quiet, and nobody needs anything from you… because they can’t FIND you!! Haaaa Haaaa Haaaa! Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving RV Style!

Richard Leeming/Flickr Creative Commons

As y’all know perfectly well, Thanksgiving is one of the most heavily traveled weeks of the year here in America. A lot of folks start to feel hurried, grumpy, stressed, tired, and very unthankful that they have to be the ones on the road going to visit those family members they feel they could do without. We’ve all been there at least once on Thanksgiving. I think as an RVer I have a way to avoid those feelings of obligation and stress. It’s definitely an idea that may cause concern to those of you who prefer to celebrate the holiday in a very traditional manner, but have faith that my idea holds true to the underlying concept of the holiday! Here’s what I propose for next year’s Thanksgiving:

Spend the next few months giving some very careful thought to where you and your family would like to ideally be for next Thanksgiving…and I mean get downright SPECIFIC! Do you want to be by the water, in the pines, or perhaps in a place with no burn bans so a campfire is an option, maybe surrounded by fall foliage, or perhaps down by a beach where it’s still warm and a little humid? Pick out the ideal spot for yourself and your family. Then reserve your spot way early! Now you have a location that the family will look forward to visiting instead of that same old kitchen table or den where that same old football game is running in the background and everybody’s all dressed up and bored to tears.

Now that you have the location sorted out, start asking what they REALLY want to eat for Thanksgiving. I have some friends that cook Tex Mex for Thanksgiving one year, and pasta the next because they understand the sentiment behind the holiday: enjoy your time with family and be THANKFUL for your time together. It doesn’t matter if you’re eating the perfect turkey or cranberry sauce, what matters is that family is together and happy for a couple days. We all know how difficult a feat that can be to pull off at times, so let’s start thinking outside the box and put family before tradition. I bet you’ll see more smiles and that’s what it’s all about!

Nana’s Recipes: Hot Toddies for Sore Throats

Dinah Sanders/Flickr Creative Commons

Well folks, it’s that time of year you know. That special season when Texas REALLY still wants it to be summer, but winter peeks it’s nosy nose in our summery business so many times that we end up tanning one week and freezing the next! Ah autumn in Texas is truly a fickle affair. The end result, of course, is it becomes sore throat season. With all the pressure and temperature changes, plus adding in oak molting season, and the occasional camp fire when you can find a spot in non-fire restricted counties…it makes this time of year  Hot Toddy Season!

My grandfather used to swear by a small sip of bourbon with honey in it when his throat got achy. My grandmother of course used to say how funny she thought it was that he had a sore throat every night of his adult life! All joking aside, there’s something absolutely wonderful about a hot toddy when you’re feeling under the weather. It’s almost undefinable, like that bowl of chicken soup when you’re sick. Needless to say there are all kinds of recipes, the recipe in the photo at the top of this blog comes from the 1940’s and you’re welcome to try it. As a matter of fact please do! The recipe we’re going to use for today’s blog is an attempt to make a wonderful drink into useful medicine, so here’s what you’ll need:

  • a bag of your favorite herbal tea
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite honey
  • a shot of your favorite bourbon
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • oh yeah, you’ll need some hot water as well!

So relief is as easy as bringing the water to a boil, letting your tea bag steep for 10-15 minutes, adding in the honey and stirring, then adding the bourbon and squeezing the lemon juice. Sip yourself to feeling awesome! needless to say, enjoy this home remedy AFTER y’all have reached the campsite! And hit us up at PPL for anything you might need!

How To Minimize Trailer Sway

Bill and Vicki T/Flickr Creative Commons

How many times have you driven down the highway and watched somebody dragging a trailer along behind them and that poor thing is just swerving left and right like crazy? How many of y’all thought, “Bless their lil’ hearts, they’re going to crash!” Well today I though we could talk a little bit about a few simple steps that will help to prevent that scary fishtailing motion from happening to you!

The main thing you can do is to ensure that your trailer is loaded in a balanced manner. This could be as small a trailer as a little utility trailer with your lawn equipment loaded on board, to a full fifth wheel luxury travel trailer. They all react more or less the same way to an out of balance load…they get unruly. What your looking for ideally is weight on the trailer tongue at the hitch. No so much that the front wheels of the tractor get light, but enough to ensure positive downward pressure on the hitch. In order to do that you need to add the load onto the trailer in such a way you have the center of gravity slightly forward of the trailer axle (or axles). You may have noticed that most of the heavy kitchen equipment is located on or slightly forward of the axle for example.

Another way to help reduce sway is to install a trailer sway control kit to your trailer. This is usually a series of dampers that help reduce a trailer’s oscillations which could also be caused by wind, bow wave of air pushed by eighteen wheelers, or even something as simple as unequally inflated tires. Sway kits are very common, and fairly easy to install. If you don’t feel up to installing one yourself, any competent mechanic can do it for you at a reasonable cost. Oddly enough we feature several sway kits on our website, come check ’em out!

Boost Your Brain Power and RV, Part 2

“Brain Power” by
Allan Ajifo/Flickr Creative Commons

As I stated last article, there’s never a bad time to boost your brain power. RVing actually gives us even more opportunity for relaxation and focus, which is the perfect environment for doing a little brain sharpening. I’ve continued researching and have collected a few more tips on how to keep that old melon nice and ripe.

  • Eat Avocados: Go ahead, twist my arm, right? I’ll eat them on the half shell without giving it a second thought. Add a few drops of red wine vinegar and a pinch of sea salt…YUM! Avocados, being rich in brain stimulating medium-chain fatty acids, increase brain power by reducing inflammation.
  • Daily dose of Aspirin: First talk to your Dr. before you take anything to make sure it is appropriate. Aspirin continues to prove itself in studies and research as possibly lowering the risk of dementia.
  • Fall-Proof Your House: I’ve recently seen a study from Tufts University that suggested that even one major head injury can lead to Alzheimer’s. Now you don’t have to nail down rugs, or put foam padding all over your RV, just know that if there are any slippery, or “trippy” areas in your RV, be aware of them.
  • Mind you “B’s” Mister!: Take you B vitamins folks! B vitamins lower homocystine which is linked to dementia. Oranges, pasta, rice, cereal , papayas etc… It’s easy to find a delicious B vitamin source.
  • Start Moving: Get up! Move around! That hole you’ve created in the couch is a bad thing, you aren’t active enough. Regular aerobic exercise can actually increase the size of your hippocampus. That’s the part of the brain that helps you learn and remember. You don’t have to relegate your activity to exercise alone either. I prefer to go dancing.
  • Be a Tourist: When you set camp at your park, or site, take some time to really see the area around you. Likely you’ll have ample area to explore and town shops to patronize. Again, moving around actually makes you smarter.

I’ll have a few last suggestions for was to boost your brain power while RVing on Friday. In the meantime, stop reading this, get away from your computer and go for a walk,


-RV Nana