Grandma’s Got Good Tea

great long island iced tea at grandmaBefore I forget, here’s a quick review of a watering hole to hit for any budget-minded drunkard. Grandma’s Sports Garden in Duluth has $4.00 pitchers of Long Island Iced Tea! I think this may be a Happy Hour special, though I’m not certain. I do know the hour we spent there was pretty happy. We got four decent sized drinks out of one pitcher, along with a decent buzz. They weren’t too sweet and not too strong. Just right. A long way from the Square Cow Fun Bar drinks of so many years ago.

Upon arriving at the Lake Head Boat Basin Marina, we drove by the Garden and didn’t think twice about hitting the sports bar scene. But after hearing about this bargain, we were more than happy to follow advice from a couple fun loving locals down on the docks. What we didn’t care so much for was the particular racial epitaph one of these very blonde guys used multiple times to describe certain people in parts of town we shouldn’t visit.

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Honey Do Day

RV cabinets come loose!I laughed when our friend Spoonie once referred to us as homeless without jobs. We are not homeless! Just houseless. But one thing is certain, home repair days don’t last nearly as long in the trailer as they didback in our 3,800 sq. ft. stick house.

And I don’t recall where Rene heard this, but another thing is certain about living full-time in an RV. Everything comes loose. Oh, how true that is. But with a little routine maintenance and thoughtful repairs, taking care of chores around your home on wheels can be quick and easy.

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And now for the fun part…

Aside from the few scratches and small dents we’ve put in the trailer and truck, we have been fortunate to have not experienced any major RV catastrophes … yet. Though we came very close when dumping our tanks after the recent stay at Lum Park in Brainerd, MN. Anyone who has seen the Robin Williams movie RV, and remembers the dump station scene, may think …

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Minnesota Milk Shake Goodness

The Discerning Ice Cream CriticI know what you’re thinking … This long on the road and you haven’t reviewed any ice cream joints! So that may not actually be what’s on your mind, but for the record, no parlour has yet been worthy. OK, the real truth is, we haven’t gone out for ice cream since we’ve been keeping some on hand in our RV fridge. After long days on the road the soft serve treatment is delicious!

There was that pretty good milk shake in Bridgeport at the roadside burger joint of which I can’t remember the name. And then there was the fast food “milkshake” we just had to get at a drive thru in Spearfish, ND because we were starving and it was nearly 100 degrees out. Then there was the cone we shared like two teenagers in love as we watched the drunks stumble around downtown Deadwood. But none can compare to the real thing directly from the source.

During our visit to the Crow Wing County Fair in Brainerd, MN we enjoyed one of the best chocolate milkshakes ever – sold by actual local farmers outside the cattle barn. But the farmers must have been busy milking because their kids were doing the serving. And yes they had a variety of flavors to choose from, but for the purpose of this review we chose the favorite old standby.

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Which Shall It Be: Bankruptcy of Purse or Bankruptcy of Life?

Finally, I have our budget numbers for our first month out. But keep in mind, there’s no such thing as a “budget” when you’re on the road; it’s in reality, a “spending plan.” As the super frugal CFO of this family, these circumstances are difficult for me at times. Maybe this is why many people who want to do this kind of trip never do, because spending money while not working is terrifying.

When we decided to take the gamble and go on this trip, we put the following passage from the Sterling Hayden book Voyage: A Novel of 1896 in our bathroom medicine cabinet, for daily inspiration;

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The Grass Is Getting Greener

enjoying the cool shadeI’ve been trying to remember the last time I wore long pants. I don’t think I’ve donned blue jeans since we said goodbye to friends back in Eureka over two months ago. I certainly do like my new uniform of shorts and a tank top, but we’ve finally made it to a climate where a short sleeve shirt is actually bearable.

We even slept with the blanket our first night at Joe’s Lodge. And the cool evening was quite a relief. One tip for new full-timers getting ready to hit the road: don’t over-pack, take only what you think you will need.

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Living and Eating in a West Coast Bubble

Self Serve Produce StandYesterday in Grand Forks, ND, I found another health food store. They’re becoming less than a few hundred miles apart now, a good sign that we are getting closer to larger populations where healthy food & environmental consciousness matter. The stores we’ve encountered are reminiscent of what health food stores were like on the West Coast many years ago; small and hippie-ish, with a focus on supplements and little, if any groceries and produce. This one in Grand Forks did have some local produce, but no lettuce or greens.

I noticed a sign-in sheet for a local CSA Farm on the counter. The farm was about 50 miles from Grand Forks, and it turns out, is the nearest local vegetable farm for the area, but they only produce for CSA members. For anyone else who wants organic produce, they can take a gamble and go to the nearest supermarket, but chances are that the produce came from hundreds of miles away. Huh? No local produce in stores during summer? Barbara Kingsolver would be appalled.

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Road crew tip takes us to Hoven

Henry Huft sends us to Hoven, SDI think one of the hardest things about this trip will be trying to remember everything about all of the interesting places and colorful characters we are meeting along the way. There’s simply not enough time nor photos to tell this whole story.

For instance, we had planned to stay at Cow Creek campground one evening along the banks of the Mighty MO on our way to Fargo, ND. When stopped by road construction, the flagger walked up to ask about our truck and we ended up chatting for a bit. That’s whatchya do in these parts donthchyaknow.

By the time he waved us on, good ol’ Henry Huft had told us that he will never where a hat – though it was 106 degrees out – because he was born without a hat, and he’ll stay that way. He also told us that we just had to go on to Hoven for a steak at Boone’s Bar and Grill, and that for vegetarians they had big shrimp and a salad bar.

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Good RV Eats

Organic ProduceOne of the biggest fears I had about taking this trip, was that I wouldn’t find any good produce in small towns between coasts. Well, the good produce IS there, only it’s in people’s backyards. Otherwise, I was told by a local in South Dakota today, don’t count on organic produce or farmer’s markets unless we hit big cities. On the prairie, everyone grows their ow, you won’t find organic or super fresh produce in grocery stores. So, my solution; either get to know the locals, or make do when we aren’t around any.

Today we received this lovely farm fresh produce from a wonderful couple in Hoven, South Dakota. This is the best produce we’ve seen. Otherwise, we’ve been making do with so-so eats. The food we’ve been eating is good, and 95% of the time, we are cooking our own meals. I’ve always been a tightwad about going out to eat, and just as expert RV’ers predicted, our eating out habits are mostly the same as they were when we had a stick house. By seldom dining out, it helps our budget and makes our nights out truly special.

One of the best things about eating on the road, is that the view from the dinner table is always different. We also get to eat outside. And when it’s too hot, we have the AC vent right above our dining room table.


Some big lessons we’ve learned about meals on the road include:

  • You never realize how much you depend on a toaster until you don’t have one.

  • Loose tea is a hassle when you don’t have a garbage disposal
  • Cast iron is the answer.
  • Life on the road requires extreme flexibility—sometimes, boxed meals are the best solution.
  • Use what you’ve got until it’s all gone, or else your produce will turn to mush and spoil in hot weather (as coastal people, we weren’t used to food spoiling due to heat).

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Outrageous RV Name Survey

Mike’s comment on my recent post regarding campground etiquette for big rig RVers prompted me to finally compile the list of outrageous RV names that we’ve been jotting down since we embarked on this journey. Below is our top ten list of ironic RV names that we’ve come across. Please vote and let us know which names are the best. Or shall we say worst?

[ edit: survey widget no longer worky worky ]

If you said other, be sure to post a comment and let us know what you’ve seen. other names that didn’t quite make it onto our top ten list include:

  • Prowler
  • Hitchhiker
  • Wild Cat
  • Challenger
  • Conquest
  • Ultimate Advantage
  • Avenger
  • Bounty Hunter

Note: I say these names are ironic because I think its funny how recreational vehicles are supposed to enable people to get out and enjoy the peace and quite of nature and commune closer with our mother earth, yet the names imply otherwise.

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Where did all the ads go?

Granted, many readers may be saying to themselves, “Thank God all those ads are gone!” But by the time others read this post, they may be thinking, “What on earth is this guy talking about?” If you’re the slightest bit interested in making little extra spending money by placing Google ads on your own website, or you wonder why we’ve stopped running ours, please read on. If not, rest assured the ads will be back. Hopefully soon.

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The View is Always Different

For the record, the trees all over the hills around Deadwood, SD have always been dead. One can only assume that’s how the town got it name. But one thing I enjoy about this full-time RVing thing is how the view from our kitchen table is always different. and whenever I look up through the skylight in our shower – yeah, that’s cool too – …

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This Small Town Versus That Small Town

George Michelson Bike Trail, South DakotaOne of the reasons why I wanted to leave Humboldt County was because in the nearly 10 years that we lived there, many of the great ideas that people have about improving the area, never get off the ground. With the exception of the Redwood Technology Consortium who won the fight to connect Humboldt to the real world with fiber optic cable a few years ago, it seems that most great ideas never go anywhere.

Every improvement from the badly needed pedestrian / bike trail connecting Eureka and Arcata, to the fabulous Bay Trail, to the Marina Center Project, requires 10 consultants and 100 studies, and 10 years later, guess what? Nothing. Now, that definitely isn’t the fault of great residents like my friend Jen Rice who are so dedicated and try to get things like the Bay Trail to happen. No, not at all. It’s just that there are so many darn factions and infighting in Humboldt, that nobody can agree on anything. Every great idea that comes up will have a fight on its hands by some group claiming to know what’s best, guaranteed.

So as we head out into the rest of Small Town U.S.A., we are taking note of which towns have leaders and citizens that can work together and get things done.

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