Lake Okeechobee & Gators

By: Kevin

Heather’s grandparents invited us down to their RV, which was parked in a RV resort along Lake Okeechobee, for a visit. Instead of hauling our RV down there, Heather’s grandparents were nice enough to reserve us a rental unit, which was probably as big or bigger than our RV. It was also really nice because it had a laundry set, so we took the opportunity to do numerous loads of laundry while we were visiting. Since we do not have a washer/dryer in the RV, it is off to the laundromat on a regular basis for us, and being able to put in a load of laundry at our rental and come back a few hours later without wondering where our laundry had gone was a welcome luxury.

The morning after arrival we took a trip down the road to one of many places that offered air boat tours of the area. We saw quite a few gators, some small and some not-so-small. I was amazed at where all the air boat could travel. We drove across water, reeds, and occasionally solid ground for a few feet. I can see why they are the choice of vessel for the marshy area.Our tour guide even showed us the natural mesh matrix found inside cat-tail reeds that lead to the invention of medical gauze that is widely used in the medical field today. As a nurse, I found that particularly interesting.


After our morning air boat ride we traveled a little farther down the road to Gatorama in Palmdale, FL. They had quite a few gators, as one would expect, and we were all able to pick up and hold baby gators. In the afternoon they had a feeding show on the main wooden bridge, and the host was very good at entertaining the crowd. For an extra fee one can participate in the feeding, but we enjoyed someone else risk their fingers instead.

After our visit to Gatorama, it was back to the grandparents’ RV for dinner. Grandpa grilled pizza, which I had not thought of before, but if you have one of those tiny RV ovens you may want to give it a try. It actually turned out resembling a brick-oven pizza with a nice crispy bottom. I have tried it a few times at our RV now, and find that a griddle rack works best, but a regular grill grate turns out decent results as well. Just remember to get thin crust pizzas, otherwise the middle takes a while to get done.

Walt Disney World

The Most Magical Place On Earth

By: Kevin


Since we were in Florida, Heather’s mom suggested that we take the kids to Disney World. The last time we (Heather and Kevin) were at Disney was back in 2006, well before we had kids. This trip would require additional planning, logistics, and baggage. Heather’s mom rented a condo in Kissimmee, FL and she, our family, and Heather’s grandparents all met at the condo, which served as a base of operations for our Disney visit. We awoke early, made it through traffic, and were parked early so as to make the most of our time. We enjoyed revisiting old favorites like the Swiss Family Robinson tree house, Pooh Bear’s Hundred Acre Woods, and the haunted mansion. We also enjoyed watching the mid-day parade that winds through the park. We covered some good ground during the long day, including a stop for autographs from Cinderella and Rapunzel.

We did have a ‘scare’ at the haunted mansion because after we came out we purchased ice cream from a stand along the street. Karla, Heather’s mom, set her wallet down on the cart so she could help get the kids’ ice cream wrappers opened. We then all walked away with ice cream in hand…..but not the wallet. It wasn’t until dinner time that Karla discovered she no longer had her wallet or the large sum of cash that she had in it. She was absolutely sick to her stomach. She returned to the cart, but nobody had seen it. We checked with park security, but nobody had turned it in. As we tried to make the most of the rest of the day, I could tell that the wallet still weighed on Karla. She checked back with security a few more times through the evening to see if it had been turned in. We finished off the night watching the Electric Parade to the delight of all. If we return to Disney in the future it is my understanding that the Electric Parade will sadly not be there, as Disney is discontinuing it sometime this year. On the way back to the mono-rail and parking lot shuttles we stopped in at park security one last time. They had still not received Karla’s wallet. By this point, we figured if it did turn up it would ‘magically’ be void of all cash that previously resided within it.

We returned to the condo for the night and had additional visiting time and Christmas presents over the next few days while we finished our mini-vacation in Orlando. Then 2 days later as we were eating at IHOP before pulling out of Orlando we got the call from Disney security. The wallet had been turned in, and to our complete surprise, not a dollar had been removed from it. Karla was overjoyed!! We were all happy and amazed that after that much time it was actually turned in, and  especially happy that whoever grabbed it had been so honest. Thank you to whomever you are!

Daytona Beach/Flagler Beach, FL

Sept 2015-Feb 2016

By: Kevin

My second assignment was a blast! My job was in Daytona Beach at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center, and we took up residence in Flagler Beach at an Encore/Thousand Trails campground, Buloh RV Resort. We met another RV family there who also homeschools, and our kids had plenty of play time with them. Heather and the kids made a weekly trip across I-4 to Clearwater, FL to babysit my sister’s youngest and pick up my sister’s older kids from school so that my sister could attend a college course that was only offered once a week and in-person. We spent many hours at Flagler beach and in the warm ocean water of Florida. I also made good use of my motorcycle to commute to and from the hospital. The advantage of spending the winter in Florida: even on Christmas day I rode my motorcycle in short-sleeved scrubs and was perfectly comfortable. I could not have done that in Ohio.

We discovered Publix grocery stores and the great people that work there. Everyone is so friendly and will accommodate your needs if at all possible. The baggers even offer to push your cart to your vehicle for you. We also discovered that Publix deli makes sub sandwiches that, in my opinion, are better than Subway or other sandwich chain stores. We also found that nobody at Publix knows what Skyline Chili is, most likely because it is an Ohio thing, and they do not stock it. We did find that Wal-Mart still stocks it in Florida.

Our campground was near a state park with plenty of hiking trails, some old sugar mill ruins, and a wildlife area. We toured the ruins and hiked a few of the trails. We could have made more use of the state park, but there were so many other things to do that we simply ran out of time.


Along the endless beach there were plenty of cool places to visit, including this place, Crabby Joe’s, which is a restaurant perched on a pier along route A1A in southern Daytona Beach. They serve great food at a good price. They also have a full open bar at 7am, which night nurses can appreciate as they are getting off work in the morning and want to hang out and de-stress with their coworkers. My fellow night shift nurses and I visited Crabby Joe’s a few times as the sun was coming up. We did occasionally get odd looks as the waitress delivered shots to the table with our breakfast.

I did take the family to Crabby Joe’s a few times and the kids really loved eating over top of the waves. The floor of the restaurant is the pier and you can actually look down through the cracks between the boards and see the glimmer of the waves and water beneath your feet. Just be careful not to drop anything small on the floor, as retrieval may become a significant challenge if it slips through the cracks.

While in Daytona Beach we were also visited by some friends from Ohio who were on Christmas vacation and decided that the Florida (snowless) climate was a pleasant change. We met them at a restaurant in St. Augustine and enjoyed a lengthy discussion over delicious Mexican fare.

Shortly after Christmas we hosted a family Christmas get-together at our campground which my parents (who live in Ohio), one of my older sisters, and my younger sister and her family attended. Buloh RV Resort has cabins in addition to RV sites, so my family was able to stay in a few of the cabins so we did not have to squeeze everyone into our RV. We ate a “Christmas Dinner” together and went swimming in the outdoor pool. It was an event enjoyed by all who attended, and decided we should do something similar in the coming years.

A New Tow Vehicle

From 2003 Chevy 2500 to 1996 F-350

By: Kevin

If you read about my stressful trip south you should not be surprised to hear that I was in need of a new tow vehicle. I knew I had a minimum of three months to find a new tow vehicle so I did not need to rush out and buy the first truck I could find. I searched around including Craigslist and Facebook buy/sell groups. I looked at many trucks, some better than others. Some I was surprised that the owner could even fathom asking for the posted price. I had an idea what I was looking for, but had some flexibility in some of my wants/needs. I finally found exactly what I was looking for, and for a price I could afford. Meet the new tow vehicle, a 1996 F-350 dually long-bed quad cab with a 7.3L direct-injection Turbo-Diesel engine. THIS would be an appropriate vehicle to tow our 14,000 pound RV.

Now, if anyone knows me, then you already know that the vehicle changeover had just begun. I spent the next few weeks moving antennas, radio equipment, power wire, a new stereo, and emergency lighting from my former vehicle to the dually. I also installed a trailer hitch, bed rails for the fifth wheel hitch, a BackRack, and a tonneau cover. I also had to do some work in the fuel tanks which were showing their age and had started to leak. New tanks were ordered and installed which also eliminated the constant smell of diesel around my truck. While I may never claim that I am completely “finished” messing with my truck, I now had an appropriate tow vehicle with all my electronics installed. The 2500 was sold and we were again down to only 3 vehicles instead of 4 for Heather and I.


The journey south: a home divided

By: Kevin

Time came for our first assignment to come to an end. Friends were made, but it was time to move along. We were preparing to head to sunny Florida for the winter. Our next assignment? Daytona Beach! However, my contract did not end until the middle of September. My sister was starting a college course in Florida, and we had committed to watch her youngest child while she attended class since we would be within a driveable distance from her. The catch? Her class started in late August….a full two weeks before my contract in Ohio ended. So, Heather and the two kids loaded up the minivan and headed south ahead of me. It took them two days with an overnight at a hotel just south of Atlanta, GA. Their trip was uneventful and they arrived in Clearwater, FL at my sister’s house to find eager cousins ready to visit and play with the kids who they had not seen in over a year.

Then it came time for me to make the journey south. I had the truck, a Chevy 2500 (non-HD) 6.0L gasoline tow vehicle and the 32′ fifth wheel. This would be the truck’s maiden voyage with the trailer since towing it to Mansfield almost a year prior. The trailer was now fully loaded and had my motorcycle strapped down in the back of the RV. It was heavy….around 14,000 pounds of trailer. Needless to say that it was a bit (or more) over the approved towing limits of the truck. But I had no fear, the suspension had handled it well and we had moved it empty before without any issues, so we should be fine, right?

I hitched up the RV and pulled out of the campground. I was on the road! Everything was going well, I had made it from New Paris through Dayton and was approaching Cincinnati. I started experiencing slower traffic and ended up in rush hour traffic in Cincinnati. My engine started to heat up a bit with all the stop-and-go, but well within the acceptable limits. I made it across the I-71/I-75 bridge over the Ohio river and found a long uphill pull that proved to be too much for my transmission. While the engine and suspension were up to the task, the transmission became the weak link in the system. Half way up the hill my transmission temp shot up over 300 degrees (210 degrees is normal) and the transmission went into limp mode, with a maximum speed of 10 MPH. I am sure I annoyed many drivers as I made it across 3 lanes of traffic to the side of the road and assessed my situation. Had I destroyed the truck? I let the truck idle for about 30 minutes to allow the transmission fluid to circulate and cool. I put the truck back in gear and to my relief I started rolling up the hill again. While my temperatures were still high, I was rolling southbound! It took less than an hour to determine that I could get my truck up to about 3,000 rpms before it would kick back into limp mode. I learned to feather the gas peddle between 2,000 rpms where my truck started rolling and 3,000 rpms where my truck started limping. Obviously my speed was now limited and I while progress was slow, I was still moving. I made it through Kentucky and was now facing the Tennessee smokey mountains. Let’s just say the following hours were extremely stressful, slow, and many miles were driven in the break-down lane to the right of the solid white line. I drove through the entire night, not necessarily because I wasn’t tired, but because I was so angry that I was unable to sleep. By morning Heather was urging me to stop and sleep as I had been driving for many stressful hours. I was able to get 2 hours of sleep in a freeway rest stop before I was back on the road.

Finally I made it across the Florida-Georgia line. I had made it to Florida! I had not, however, made it to my destination. I kept trucking, but the margin of usable tachometer was narrowing. I was now down to about 600 rpm instead of the original 1,000 rpm margin, which severely limited my speed and was now going into limp mode when I tried to cross a simple overpass for roadways that crossed under the freeway. It was now mid-afternoon, and I had been driving for 20 of the past 24 hours.I had had enough!! Heather had called around and had found a towing company that didn’t charge an exorbitant amount of money, and I took them up on their offer to make it the last 100 miles to the campground. The heavy duty tow truck, capable of pulling semi-trucks, arrived and hooked up the truck. After the drive shaft had been disconnected we started off down the interstate with what resembled a small train. A large tow truck…towing my truck…towing the RV. We arrived at the campground in Flagler Beach, FL shortly before dark and I was pleased to find that my site was a pull-through site which meant the tow truck could pull the whole rig through my site and drop the truck and trailer right where it would need to sit.

The next test was to determine if I had destroyed the transmission or whether, once unloaded, my truck would function as normal. The moment of truth had come, and HALLELUJAH! The truck functioned perfectly after being unhooked from the heavy RV. My driving was not done yet however. I traversed I-4 for 3 more hours to my sister’s house in Clearwater, arriving shortly before midnight. Needless to say I was dead! I slept for about 10 hours that night, but I had officially arrived.

Greenville/New Paris, OH

April-September 2015

By: Kevin

Greenville, OH. Our first travel assignment.

It took a little while to really get moved in, everything arranged, and into a normal routine. We discovered a sharp learning curve exists when transitioning from a house to an RV. We learned that everything must serve multiple purposes and occupy minimal space since we downsized from 2,000 sq. ft. to less than 300 sq. ft. We learned that the hot water heater has bypass valves that must be turned to fill the tank after winterizing, and that the element will in fact melt and burn out if turned on with no water in the tank.


I started living at Arrowhead Campground before it officially opened for the season, so I found the nights at the camp to be very quiet, and very DARK! There were no security lights around our site, so a flashlight became a necessity after sun-down.

Once other campers started to move in for the season we started developing friendships and the kids were quick to find play companions around the camp.


We enjoyed the outdoor pool at the campground, and explored Richmond, IN which was actually closer to the campground than the city of Greenville, OH where I was working. We found a number of city parks around Richmond, IN including Richmond Falls. There was also a very nice bike trail that we rode multiple times over the course of our stay.


Below is the view of the campground from our RV door. The second picture is the large wooden deck at our site complete with rope lighting that was left by the previous campers. I really enjoyed sitting out on the deck at night with the lights on. It was very peaceful.


While in the area we visited the KitchenAid Experience which included the retail store as well as a small museum detailing the history of KitchenAid mixers. It was actually more interesting than one may expect. We also visited Dayton, OH and the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY.

In addition to exploring the area and working, I was working on my BSN which required a good deal of study time, which sometimes proved difficult in such tight quarters. I used two bedside stands as a makeshift desk. With my Crazy Creek camp chair, this setup seemed to work fairly well for me.


In the Beginning…

By: Kevin

We started thinking of traveling back in 2014 when my mother-in-law suggested travel nursing as a means to a higher income within the field of emergency nursing. We discussed and evaluated our options, and decided to go for it. We started looking for an RV that would fit our needs and after researching tiny houses, school bus conversions, Class As, Travel trailers, and Fifth wheels, we decided on a used 2008 Forest River 32SRV fifth wheel toy hauler. We went to look at it, offered cash, and towed it home the same day. However, our travel plans were put on hold due to the quickly approaching Northern Ohio winter, as we purchased it at the end of the season. The RV sat in the side yard of our rented 2,000 sq. ft. farm house until spring. However, we did perform some upgrades over the winter, such as changing all the interior 12-volt lighting to LEDs to reduce heat and energy use.

In the early spring we started moving items into the RV with an anticipated launch date of May or June 2015. That abruptly changed when I was offered my first travel nursing contract starting in mid-April in Southern Ohio. With the bare essentials moved into the RV, I moved the RV to a campground 3 hours away to start my first contract. This move was made possible thanks to Heather’s grandfather’s diesel truck, as my truck was currently in the shop getting major bodywork done. Apparently telephone poles don’t move much….oops.

For the next few weeks Heather sorted the majority of what remained in Mansfield, OH and organized a garage sale. The garage sale occurred over three days, one of which was sunny, one was rainy, and one day it snowed. That’s typical Ohio weather for you! We shuttled our remaining belongings one vehicle load at a time to Southern Ohio, and officially moved in to the RV as a family around the end of April. I should note that over these few weeks I was working 36 hours a week in Southern Ohio as well as running back and forth to Mansfield which made for a busy schedule, especially since I had started an online BSN program.

And so started our RV travel adventures…