Sunday, July 17, 2016

Don't Back Into has newspaper mention!

Don't Back Into the Palm Tree! Real Life Lessons for New and Wannabe RVers has received mention in Jacksonville's Sunday Time-Union!

Based on posts to this blog, Don't Back Into the Palm Tree! is a personal "confession" of the mistakes my husband, Jim, and I have made during our first five years of RVing. But, it doesn't stop there. Rather, we provide recommendations to new and wannabe RVers on how to avoid those commonly made mistakes. The aim of the book is to make RVing an enjoyable experience--not one new owners will regret.

The book is available on, in both Kindle and paperback editions.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A lesson in cooling down

We live in Northeast Florida, where temperatures hover in the low 90's from the end of May through the first or second week of September. That wouldn't be so bad, except that the humidity usually matches the temperature. Fortunately (for our electric bill) Jim and I are comfortable keeping the indoor temperature at about 80 degrees. The AC takes out the humidity, and overhead fans circulate the air.

When we are in our motorhome, keeping cool is more of a challenge. The air conditioner runs almost all of the time when the outdoor temperatures escalate. Despite the laboring AC, we manage to keep cool, even when our cantankerous back AC decides to quit on us.

Not so, our engine. Last year, when we were traveling toward the midwest, we began to experience overheating. Jim would keep maintain a lower speed, to keep engine RPMs down, but when we were climbing  mountains, the engine worked hard--very hard. Once or twice we had to pull over and let the motor cool down.

I believe it was in Macon, Ga.,  that Jim did some detective work and found out that a dirty radiator might cause overheating. As best he could, he hosed down the radiator. The engine seemed to work better, but we still would occasionally experience the temperature gauge creeping up to an unsafe level.

Jim had hoped that the overheating problem would improve once he had repaired the rusted-out exhaust pipe, which was attached to the manifold. With the work on the exhaust system done, last week we took Junior out for a test drive up I95, to see if it would run cool. It did not. The overheating problem persisted whenever he went over 60 mph--and that was without towing the car.

Mr. Fixit decided to clean the radiator more thoroughly. As he was working on that, I did some research on engine overheating. Among my findings were two significant recommendations:

  • Replace the thermostat every couple of years. According to the experts, their efficiency can be affected by age.
  • Maintain antifreeze levels at a 50-50 (antifreeze to water) mixture--even in Florida. Too much antifreeze reduces the coolant's ability to keep the engine cool.
Well, when I read Jim this finding, he started thinking: He had been topping off coolant levels with pure antifreeze. When he checked the specific gravity of the antifreeze, it was too high (too much antifreeze)! So, he diluted the antifreeze with water. He also replaced the thermostat.

Once he had diluted the antifreeze and replaced the thermostat, it was time for another test drive. This time...success! Jim pushed the speedometer up to 75 mph. The engine never overheated. Yea!

Now as we keep our cool, so will Junior's engine.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

P.S. You can learn more about our (mis)adventures in Don't Back into the Palm Tree! Real Life Lessons for New and Wannabe RVers, available now as an e-book or in paperback on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

For Your Reading Pleasure...

If you look to the right of this post, you'll see what looks like a book cover...and it is!

After much procrastination and a lot of hard work, I have finally compiled the Reluctant RoVer's (mis)adventures into an e-book form. (Print book to be available soon.)

Don't Back into the Palm Tree! Real Life Lessons for New and Wannabe RVers is available in e-book (Kindle) format on (You don't have to have a Kindle to read the book. You can get a Kindle app for your cell phone or any type of tablet--Android, PC, or Mac/iPad.)

We've learned a lot during the 5+ years we have been RVing. My main purpose in writing this book was to share our experiences and mistakes so that others--new and wannabe RVers--don't have to make the same mistakes. I am sure we will continue to learn as we travel throughout the country, and I will continue to blog. I hope, though that my blogs will finally be able to focus on more adventures instead of the (mis)adventures of the motorhome failing to run properly.

One of the links below the book-cover image will give you a sample of the book. The other will take you to the Amazon page, where you can purchase the book. I would appreciate your honest review of the book.

I'll keep you posted when the print edition is ready. It would make a fine gift to any of your friends you might be thinking about hitting the RV road.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Putting Junior Back Together

We are finally getting ready to travel!

We had planned to take a two- or three-week trip to the west coast of Florida in January, but our plans were sidelined by health issues. Jim developed an outer-ear infection, which became very severe--into a form of osteomyelitis (bacterial bone infection) of an ear bone. It was so bad that the ENT immediately sent him to an infectious disease MD, who put him on 24/7 IV injection drugs. After almost six weeks of antibiotics, the infection was cured. He is now back to normal.

At the time when the infection took hold, Jim had discovered (and fixed) a fuel-line problem in Junior. Replacing the leaking coupling was challenging because of the confining space in the engine compartment, but he got it done. However (isn't there always a "however"?), when he was fixing the fuel line, he found that the exhaust pipe attached to the manifold had rusted out. We could not travel with that known issue. He managed to get the exhaust pipe and its fittings removed and our RV-park neighbor (a welder) welded the new flange for him. But before he could put everything back together, the ear infection sidelined him.

Yesterday, he put the exhaust system back together. Yea!

We learned an important lesson from this fuel leak/exhaust-system problem: When buying an RV (new or used) examine how to get into the engine compartment.

Routine maintenance, such as checking and changing oil and transmission fluids and checking belts, is done through the engine door on the backside of a diesel-pusher RV. However, to work on the engine requires opening a  trap door to the engine compartment, usually found under the bed.

We knew where the trap door was in Junior, our 2005 Country Coach. What we did not know (until Jim had to actually work on the engine) was that to open that trap door, he had to remove the mirrored sliding closet doors, unscrew and remove the closet-door track, and prop up the bed before he could unscrew and pry up the trap door.  It is apparent that the interior designers did not collaborate with the chassis designers when this model was built.

The engine compartment is a tight fit. Jim had to crawl out onto the engine to finish putting the exhaust system together.

Crawling out of the engine compartment was in itself a challenge! Visible on the left is the propped-up bed.

If we ever buy another RV (I hope not), ease of access to the engine compartment would be on our checklist.

With the RV now put back together, where will we go? Our first trip will probably be to Florida's panhandle, where we would like to fish in the gulf, paddle our kayaks down some creeks, and do some fishing.


Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,


Back home again...

Rob and I hit the road about 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 15. The movers were incredible: They had everything loaded into the huge moving tru...