12 Day Camping Trip - Reflections and Confessions of a Newbie! ;) - Fiberglass RV

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Old 06-26-2016, 02:14 PM   #1
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Name: Dean
Trailer: 2005 Casita 17' Freedom Deluxe
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12 Day Camping Trip - Reflections and Confessions of a Newbie! ;)

Laura and I bought our new to us ’05 Casita 17’ Freedom Deluxe trailer in November, ’15 as an early empty nest toy. We bought the tow vehicle, ’09 Kia Borrego V8 Limited rated to tow 7,500 lbs in December. I started planning camping trips in January. I decided that I wanted to have one camping trip with the girls, Natalie (21) and Claire (18), before Claire left for college in August. Laura and I started camping in March and the following trip represents our fourth trip and our first trip that exceeded a long weekend. Claire graduated from high school on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. We left on Tuesday, May 31st for our trip that I planned in January before ever camping or towing:

Tuesday, May 31st – Typical of our trips, we left around 11 am rather than the desired 8 am to 9 am. Still working on mastering the hitching/packing routine. More “stuff” than usual since there was going to be four of us for 12 days rather than Laura and I for three or four days. Laura, Claire, and I picked up Natalie in Lexington. This was our first experience towing the Casita in a somewhat urban environment. It was not pleasant, but it was manageable. We then proceeded to the Fox Fire KOA just east of Huntington, WV. By the time we got there, it was nearly 7 pm. We unhitched, ran back into town for dinner, got gas, and came back to do the bed routine. The girls spent the night in the Borrego since the KOA would not allow a tent on our RV site. The KOA was nice. The staff were very nice. We had a pull through full hook up site. The bathrooms were nice in terms of the facilities, but warm, humid, and mildly unkept. We dumped our tanks Wednesday morning since we had sewer. Nice place to stop for a quick overnight. Towed about 300 miles for the day.

Wednesday, June 1st – Hooked up. Packed up. Had coffee. Hit the road. Left mid morning, but between breakfast, lunch, gas stop, and a few rest stop breaks, we pulled into Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland between 5 pm and 6 pm. We had a very woodsy pull-off site with electric only. If needed, potable water was close-by. We did not need to use the central dump station. The bathrooms were utilitarian, but nice and clean. The girls were able to use a tent for sleeping. Rocky Gap was very cool. Staff were very nice. They even had a casino, but Claire was too young for us to go in. No big deal, I am not a casino fan anyway. Rocky Gap also had a lake, beach, and lots of hiking. After unhitching, we drove to downtown Cumberland for a nice dinner. Got up the next morning and had coffee and a light breakfast. Got a little bit of rain in the morning, but nothing major. Got on the road by mid morning. Towed about 300 miles for the day.

Reflection – I have a long history of loving road trips and driving a car 500 to 700 miles a day. I thought keeping our tow days to 300 miles would be manageable. I was already beginning to realize that late starts and 300 miles of towing left very little time to see things at the cool places that I picked for us to stay. We did not get to see much of Rocky Gap State Park. I believe a good reason to go back again.

Thursday, June 2nd – Departed Rocky Gap State Park. Got to do some hilly towing on I-68. Some the grades were as much as 6%. I conservatively kept my speed under control and used the transmission as needed. It was a great learning experience for me. The Borrego excelled. I was careful not to get the brakes overheated. No problems.

Thursday, June 2nd to Monday, June 6th - By 5:30 pm, we arrived at Lake in Wood Resort in Narvon, PA after catching a nice dinner at an Italian Pub close to the resort. We attended the RVFTA Rally from Thursday, June 2nd and departed on Monday, June 6th. Lake in Wood was in Lancaster County (Amish Country). It was a beautiful resort. It was huge. It was too big to walk and we did not even drive the perimeter; however, it did not feel big. There were lots of loops and lots of woods. The girls stayed in a tree house! Lake in Wood has all kinds of units besides cabins, such as a wig-wam, double-decker bus, caboose, yurts, Noah’s Ark, a tree-house, etc. The tree house had electric and water, plus a ˝ bath and AC. Very cool. It was still a bit rustic for Claire. She did not appreciate the dead bugs in the windows, nor the wood boring bees that she could hear in the wall next to her head! Our site had full hookups. The campground bathrooms were fine, but could have been a bit more kept at times.

Laura and I absolutely loved the rally and the resort. We finally got the chance to cook some meals at our site as well as making s’mores, etc. Lake in Wood is full of all types of family activities, including playgrounds, a lake for fishing, hay rides, swimming pools, a camp store with ice cream, as well as a grill for food. The rally also included a number of activities, such as campfires, a potluck, morning yoga, etc. Most importantly, there was ample time to visit and socialize with the other folks attending the rally. On Friday, we grocery shopped at a cool store with lots of Amish products. Saturday we stayed at Lake in Wood and participated in rally activities. On Sunday, we took a day trip to Hershey World. While there we did the 4D Mystery Movie (kid oriented, but fun), a chocolate tasting, a trolley tour, as well as an educational ride that reviewed the chocolate making process. We had lunch while we were there. It was a very nice day.

Reflection – The RVFTA Rally was a wonderful activity and Lake in Wood was a great RV/camping resort (very family oriented). Even though we were arrived on Thursday and left on Monday, I would have liked more time to relax at the resort and tour the area. It was so cool to meet many of the folks that we have met on the RVFTA forum.

Monday, June 6th – We left Lake in Wood by late morning. The plan was to drive to Ohiopyle State Park in PA and stay there for two nights; however. . .

Reflection – After six nights of the Borrego, a tent, and a tree house, and with Ohiopyle being a fairly rustic campground with electric only, we decided to change our plans a bit. Our primary reason for going there was to tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. This was still the plan, but we decided to cancel our camping reservations and check-in to the Best Western just west of Cumberland, MD. Executive decision that two nights of tent camping for the girls might be pushing it.

We drove from Lake in Wood Resort in PA to west of Cumberland, MD. It was around a 225 mile drive. Once we settled into the Best Western, we hit Cracker Barrel for dinner and then settled in for the evening.

Tuesday, June 7th – This day consisted of touring Falling Water. Our tour was at 1 pm. We arrived early to Ohiopyle to check out the state park’s visitor center and to have an early lunch. We then drove a few miles to Falling Water. Our oldest daughter, Natalie, is an architecture major at the University of Kentucky. While at Falling Water, she took notes, sketched, and even had a tape measure to measure steps! She indicated that touring Falling Water was the single greatest day of her life! LOL! After Falling Water, we went back to the state park to hike and sight-see a bit as well as to have ice cream. I was so impressed with Ohiopyle and the state park. The area is renowned for its white water rafting. It was a beautiful area with lots of outdoor activities.

Reflection – Once again, we just did not have enough time to even scratch the surface of the area. Spending two nights in the Best Western was a great idea. It worked out really well. The girls enjoyed a couple of nights in the hotel. It was fun to have all four of us together.

Wednesday, June 8th – We were on the road by 9 am. Wow, a first for us! We had a long day of driving, but it was beautiful day. Actually, it got down to the upper 40s in the mountains by morning. It was only getting in the upper 60s in mountains and was kinda chilly when we would stop at a rest area for a break. Felt good! It was also quite windy for the first few hours. This was another experiment/learning experience for me. I got the chance to see how the Borrego/Casita would handle in the wind. I was very impressed in how well the Casita handled and the wind did little to impact our progress. By the time we got to Carter Caves State Resort Park in eastern Kentucky around 5 pm, it was a beautiful and in the low 70s. We ate dinner at the restaurant at the lodge. We had hoped to get the girls a room in the lodge, but they were full, so we broke out the tent one last time and the girls camped on our site with the Casita. As it turned out, it was a beautiful night to camp. Clear skies and low 50s. In fact, I even put the cube heater on top of a cooler in the tent to keep Natalie warm. The tent stayed toasty for them. Our longest travel day of the trip. We covered about 320 miles.

Thursday, June 9th - We took our time in the morning for breakfast (coffee, fruit, and Amish peanut honey butter and toast). We got on the road by around 11 am, but we weren’t rushing. We drove approximately 125 miles to Lexington. We dropped the girls off in Lexington, so Natalie could pack. After packing, they drove onto Bowling Green, so Natalie could begin her summer job at WKU as a camp counselor on Friday. Laura and I drove about 75 miles to My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown to attend the Eggs A La Bourbon Rally.

Reflection – Once again, we had to leave Carter Caves State Resort Park having spent very little time exploring the park and the area. I really liked the campground. Full-hookups and a nice balance of rustic meets family campground. The bathrooms were adequate, but not great. The cost was about $25 per night. Very nice. I would definitely like to go back to hike and explore the caves. The lodge restaurant was mediocre at best. Most of the lodge restaurants at the state resort parks in Kentucky offer decent home-style cooking, but I was not impressed with this particular lodge restaurant.

Thursday, June 9th to Sunday, June 12th - My Old Kentucky Home State Park is a smaller park. I am guessing no more than 40 sites primarily water/electric only sites. Approximately, 5 sites have full-hookups. The sites are mostly shaded. Some of the sites are a bit small. The campground is adjacent to the park’s golf course. Unless you are playing golf, the primary reason to stay at the campground is to explore Bourbon Country and Bardstown (The Bourbon Capital of the World!). The campground is less than 4 miles off the parkway. You pass a Wal-Mart and restaurants on the way to the campground, plus there is easy access to gas. The campground sits just on the edge of Bardstown, so it is easy to explore. There are many activities to see and do, including regular performances of the Stephen Foster Story, an evening dinner train, bourbon tours and tastings, Abraham Lincoln history close by in Hodgenville, and much more. Given we only live 90 miles from Bardstown, Laura and I were careful not to tour too much. We can easily go back. Instead we spent a great deal of time at the campground just relaxing and enjoying the fiberglass egg rally. There were probably 2 dozen egg campers there. Rally activities included community campfires and music, trailer tours, and a potluck. Once again the bathrooms were adequate at best.

Reflection – Our site was electric and water only, so we used a dump station for the first time. All went smoothly. After 9 days of significant traveling and camping with the girls, it was very nice to slow down and be lazy for a few days. Laura and I would eat a couple of meals per day at our Casita. We wandered around Bardstown for pubs and/or an evening meal. Once again, we really enjoyed the rally experience. As a newbie, I really enjoy interacting and learning from other RVers.

Sunday, June 12th – After enjoying breakfast, visiting with other camper friends, hitching up, and dumping our tanks, we exited the park at 1 pm and drove 90 miles home. After arriving home, we spent the next hour or two unloading and unpacking the trailer before jumping right into evening errands and getting ready to return to work on Monday! ☹

Final Summary, Confessions, Analysis, and Reflections – We achieved a number of firsts:

1. First trip longer than a long-weekend.
2. First time to have a back-in site (3).
3. First time to use a dump station.
4. First time to tow in the wind.
5. Towed considerably in the mountains, but we did a bit of this when we visited the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in late April.
6. First time to camp with the girls.

We traveled, 1903.4 miles (mostly towing, but probably 350 or so miles touring without the Casita); we averaged 42 mph; we spent 45 hours and 14 minutes driving; and we averaged 13 mpg. In terms of a learning experience/experiment, I would rate this trip as an A+; in terms of a relaxing vacation, I would rate this trip as a C+. I planned this trip in January before ever using the Casita. I thought 12 days of vacation with travel days of no more than 300 miles would be easy. I found out that I don’t like driving 300 miles only to get up the next day and press repeat. For Laura and I, an important aspect of RVing and camping is to relax; therefore, I think I would rather take more time or travel less distance.

Along the way, Laura and I discovered that our old iPhone 4S devices had a very difficult time keeping up with the demands of modern GPS apps and poor service. We need to upgrade our phones. We may also want to consider a stand-alone GPS device or upgrading the GPS software on our Borrego. Speaking of technology, my girls will vehemently support the limited WIFI capability in nearly all the campgrounds where we stayed! Laura and I don’t have a TV in our Casita and so far don’t miss it at all. We have the hook-ups, but no TV. That might change in the future, but for now there is too much to experience to watch TV.

Given that Laura and I bought the Casita to create empty nest adventures, taking the girls with us was a novel thing to do. With Claire going to college this fall, I wanted to have the experience of one big family camping trip. We had lots of fun, but we don’t really have the best setup for family camping. The Casita is designed for one or two. It has limited space and storage space. Our mid-size SUV has limited storage space as well. Twelve days of camping and traveling with the girls was much different than Laura and I camping and traveling over long weekends of 4 or 5 days. Therefore, if our goal is to focus on Laura and I, we will use our Casita for our empty nest adventures. If we are going to vacation with the girls, it will involve more of what they want to do in a cabin in the mountains or a condo at the beach for 5 to 7 days.

This 12 day adventure was the last camping activity that I planned in January. As of today, we have completed four camping trips besides two nights of drive way camping. We have 20 nights under our belts and my goal is to get 30 nights or more of camping before the end of our first season. I wanted to see how these first four trips went before scheduling anything else. I have now scheduled us to attend the Land Between the Lakes Fiberglass Egg Rally in early October. It was this rally in the Fall, ’15 that resulted in Laura and I buying our Casita one month later. We also know that we will return to the Eggs A La Bourbon Rally in June, 2017. We have discovered how much we like rallies. I really like to talk RVs and learn about the RVing lifestyle from others. We have met so many wonderful and knowledgable FG egg camper owners. What a great group! I will repeat something I have said several times over the last couple of months. In many ways, the American Campground appears to me to be the nostalgic neighborhood that We long to be part of.

At this point, I like the destination more than the journey. Once we get more experience, maybe this will change. For this reason, I think I would like to keep most of our trips to 300 miles or less, so we can maximize our time camping rather than driving. We still need to perfect our efficiencies in terms of the time to pack and hitch-up, etc. We enjoy eating at our site. I like to cook and grill, but I have not quite figured how to most effectively to do this while camping.

In closing, well, it looks like we need more practice ☺ and I want future camping trips to integrate what we have learned from our first four spring trips.. We hope to see ya in the Campground!

If you are interested in seeing some pictures of this trip, I plan to post them on Instagram at DeanCHS1980

Laura & Dean | '05 Casita 17' FD | '09 Kia Borrego Limited V8 2WD
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Old 06-26-2016, 02:27 PM   #2
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Name: Sergey
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MPG is terrible... I'm getting 16-17 MPG travelling coast to coast towing Scamp 16' with 2013 F150 5.0L.

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Old 06-26-2016, 02:42 PM   #3
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Name: kootenai girl
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Thank you, great detailed trip report. Really enjoyed your reflections and wonderful that you could include your girls even though that wouldn't work long term.
When I retire I would like to take a trip and try and visit as many Frank Lloyd buildings as possible, they fascinate me too.
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Old 06-26-2016, 03:08 PM   #4
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1980 18' Sunrader Motorhome and 1971 Trails West CampMite Campster
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I would love to see Falling Water. How nice of you to take your daughter there!

I wrote a report at school on Falling Water when I was only 8 years old back in the 1950's. Of course I have also watched video tours of it and on the huge restoration project they did.
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Old 06-26-2016, 06:51 PM   #5
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Great trip reflections. It was nice meeting you guys in Bardstown.
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Old 06-27-2016, 09:48 AM   #6
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Name: Gilda
Trailer: 2011 Scamp 13'
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Welcome to the world of camping with a FGRV!

What a fabulous trip you have had with your family. You have made many beautiful memories together, which is what camping is all about.

We, after 5 years of ownership, continue to strategize how to improve our experiences with our trailer whether they be the road-trip, the comfort/function of the trailer, or the campsite. You have learned much about yourselves, your preferred style of camping and about your new rig. We basically use the refrain, "Less is More" frequently. For example; one duffel bag, one set of dishware, one chair per person.

Falling Water is on my bucket list! Frank Lloyd Wright's influence is in our own backyard as he designed the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, California. Docent tours are given on a regular basis. (see photo) My uncle commissioned FLW to build his magnificent coastal home in Mendocino, CA. Here's a list of some FLW buildings in California.

The Gleeful Glamper
Gilda (Jill-da)
"Here we go again on another amazing adventure"
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Old 06-27-2016, 12:09 PM   #7
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Thank you for the trip report. On long camping trips with the Boy Scouts, we would schedule a layover day every 4-5 days to rest and recuperate, wash clothes, do some more complex cooking etc. The loss of layover days was the only thing I regretted in 2007 when I took a 1 month LOA from my job, bought a tent larger than my first apartment, and then took the whole month of June to take the grandchildren, 13 and 8, north with the spring-South Florida to Niagara. It was memorable for all of us.

I think your account makes me more sure that it is wise to schedule layover days every so often. I understand being on a tight schedule sometimes, lol, BTDT.
"The island is not sinking!" Eric the Viking
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Old 06-27-2016, 12:11 PM   #8
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Name: Keith
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Thanks for the great write up.

We are about 6-9 months behind you and will just be taking our first trip at the end of the summer. Our plan is for several long weekends within 200 miles of the nest and then one longer trip at spring break. It'll be our break-in year. Just hope we don't end up broke or broken.
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Old 06-27-2016, 03:16 PM   #9
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I agree about the layover days. When I was young my family lived in the Mid-Atlantic, but my grandparents on both sides of the family lived in the Pacific Northwest. We took regular cross-country trips with our tent trailer, typically two weeks out, two weeks visiting, and two weeks back. Dad was with us as his work schedule allowed.

About every three or four days, we spent an extra day or two in one spot to explore some interesting places more thoroughly. It was a welcome respite for young children, and even better if there was a swimming hole or pool! Back then there was no AC in car or camper…

Now my Mom is 90 and still travels in her RV. She drives at most every other day, sometimes stopping for two or three days in one place. The luxury of retirement!

It's sometimes hard to know how many days a spot is "worth" until you've been there, but I'd rather err on the side of visiting a few places thoroughly than many places superficially.

Dean, thanks for the great write-up! We visited Falling Water on one of our journeys. I'm not a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan myself, but the setting is undeniably stunning. I stayed in Rocky Gap SP quite a few times both with family and with Boy Scouts. But a casino??!!!
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Old 06-27-2016, 04:39 PM   #10
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Thanks, Dean, for another great write up! Each time you have written of your travels I have learned something new and helpful.

Happy Trails!
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Old 06-28-2016, 07:52 PM   #11
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Name: Dean
Trailer: 2005 Casita 17' Freedom Deluxe
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Hi All,

Sergey, I am impressed with your MPG from your F-150. Nice!

Kootenai girl, you are welcome! Nice to have the girls along on my learning expedition. Despite Natalie being the Frank Lloyd Wright fan, I could see Laura and I traveling and seeking out other FLW sites on our own.

KC, impressed that your did a Falling Water report when you were 8! Yup, they did a MAJOR renovation several years ago.

Kevin, thoroughly enjoyed meeting Cindy and you. Great job hosting the Eggs A La Bourbon Rally! Laura and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Gilda, "Less is More", I like it. Works well with a Casita! Wow, the FLW designed Civic Center is amazing. Yes, you have to see Falling Water!

Mitzi, impressed reading about the Boy Scout trips. Yup, layover/recovery days are important. I have definitely learned that in terms of what we like while RVing and traveling.

Keith, look forward to reading about your adventures!

Jon, loved reading about your younger days travels. Also, loved the comment about your mom. Wow. Very impressive. Yes, I think I, too, would rather err on the side of more depth over superficial visiting of an area when traveling.

Triker, I appreciate your comment.

Time to plan a long weekend trip soon! Hey, and I am wee bit smarter and wiser. Thanks to all for your encouragement, interest, and support!

Take care,

Laura & Dean | '05 Casita 17' FD | '09 Kia Borrego Limited V8 2WD
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Old 06-29-2016, 06:25 PM   #12
Name: Denise
Trailer: Amerigo FG-16
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Great trip report! And it was wonderful that you got to enjoy it with your daughters. I adore FLW's Falling Water. I've been there twice and find the "summer" place very enchanting. Somewhere, waaaay back in our family genealogy FLW is actually an 8th cousin or something like that. His design and architecture are quite amazing. As a glass artist I enjoy seeing the windows he also designed. Thanks for sharing your adventures!
73 Amerigo FG-16
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Old 06-29-2016, 09:35 PM   #13
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Name: Dean
Trailer: 2005 Casita 17' Freedom Deluxe
Posts: 342
Hi Denise,

Glass artist! Very cool.

I was so impressed with the function and integration of the windows and their placement in Falling Water in terms of air flow and the ability to "bring in" the outdoors.

8th cousins! Sweet!

Take care,

Laura & Dean | '05 Casita 17' FD | '09 Kia Borrego Limited V8 2WD
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Old 06-30-2016, 09:17 AM   #14
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Nice report. I try and keep my driving down to just 3 1/2 or 4 hours a day. Does not sound like much but I really don't like driving or being on the road. With one pit stop about half way the dog, my teenager (13 two days ago) and I can make it OK.

Falling Water is on my list, if I could find my list.. As a Building Inspector I got to inspect the personal home of one of Mr. Wright's "Fellows". At least that was his story. He had an interesting home but the Carpenter in me thought certain aspects were a nightmare and made no sense.

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