Winnebago Micro Minnie 1706FB After Two Years

It is once again that time of the year in which we celebrate our second RVing anniversary, and Minitini the Trailer’s second birthday, belated this time. We signed on the dotted line on August 30th, 2014 and barely a week later in September 5th 2014 we took delivery. Owning this small travel trailer has literally changed our lives. We have discovered so many new places around South Florida and the rest of the State, and the rest of the USA. It has also brought us a step closer to the nomadic lifestyle we want to have in the not so distant future.

minitini-2-yrs-thumb

I order to accommodate our needs I have made several upgrades over the past two years. I am going to enumerate the most important ones.

 

Although we don’t really watch TV all that much, it is good to have. We have found decent TV reception virtually everywhere, except for, oddly enough, Jensen Beach, Florida.

  • Oxygenic shower and dispenser

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F5MU5YY/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FGCW0K/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

OK, these are two in one but they serve the same purpose: having a nicer shower. If only the water heater would cooperate. The Oxygenic shower provides great water pressure, and the dispenser makes our shower gel, conditioner, and shampoo readily available

  • Power inverters

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004MDXS0U/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ATXEPQI/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ATXERNO/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I know I should have spent the money and bought a good pure sine wave inverter and hardwire it to the electrical system. Instead I have bought a couple of smaller inverters and wired them across the camper and they are great to charge our phone, computer, and camera batteries when off the grid

  • Fantastic Vent

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HQZASRW/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This one has been a life changer. Before having this the RV was way too hot even for a pit stop along the road. We have used it while boondocking and it keeps the camper fresh and cool at night.

  • Solar Panels

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BFCNFRM/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It is great to have peace of mind knowing your battery will remain charged using the power of the sun. It has proven indispensable for boondocking more than one night.

  • Knife rack

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EDUUFS/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This one isn’t earth shattering, but it frees up space in the drawers for other stuff

There are many other little things we have done to make our lives easier, such as a mirror on the bathroom door, and a small rack and hooks to hang clothes.

We have many upgrades planned for the future, and this year I intend to make a few of them.

  • Hardwired 3000W pure sine wave inverter
  • 5 gallon or more water heater to replace the on demand one we have now
  • Battery upgrade when our current one dies
  • Dinette replacement for an office style desk

Do you have any upgrade suggestions? We look forward to your comments.

Memphis, Tennessee: Elvis is Alive!

It is running of fumes that we arrive at Memphis, Tennessee; and I’m not talking about old Kia. It is us. It has been an intense whirlwind road trip for almost two weeks now, and we are really ready for a break that won’t come for another two days. I, however, am ecstatic to be staying here right next to the west bank of the Mississippi. I have always been fascinated by this river mainly because of Mark Twain’s stories. I can almost imagine Jim and Huck’s raft coming downstream.

memphis-thumb-play

We ignore our fatigue and decide to explore downtown a little bit. We walk along the bank of the river enjoying a spectacular sunset. Then we walk towards historic Beale Street, which is lined up with bars, most of them featuring live music. It is a real shame we are not really in the mood for partying.

On the next day we go to the main tourist attraction in this town: Graceland. This was Elvis Presley’s home all the way from the 1950’s until the time of his death in 1977. Some of the rooms were redecorated for the tour, reflecting different eras in the life of the King of Rock and Roll. There’s also a whole building dedicated to the many awards he received as well as costumes and memorabilia. There is a meditation garden where Elvis, and well as other family members are laid to rest. Across the street there are two main attractions. One of them is the two jet planes Elvis Presley acquired in 1975. The other is the automobile museum, showcasing his extensive car collection.

After the museum we go to one of the most famous barbecue restaurants in Memphis: Central BBQ. While it is a tough comparison, I do believe the one in St. Louis was a little more tasty, but I could have taste bud fatigue at this point so don’t quote me on that.

Our last point of interest in the city is the Memphis Pyramid. It was originally conceived as an sports facility, but something about the dimensions prevented it from becoming an NBA arena. After much financial distress, the property was leased by Bass Pro Shops, where they have built the largest over the top store. The highest freestanding elevator in the United States takes you to the top of the pyramid, where they have a restaurant and an observation deck.

We depart at sunset and spend the night in Tupelo, Mississippi, very close to Elvis Presley’s birthplace. In the morning, we briefly visit the site, and then spend most of the day driving south towards the Florida panhandle.

St. Louis, Missouri: Gateway to the West

In this week’s video we are visiting St. Louis, Missouri: The Gateway to the West.

St Louis Thumb play

As it is our tradition lately we are going to do the most important or touristy thing first, and then work our way down in order of priority. The undisputed winner in this city is the Gateway Arch, an engineering and architectural marvel. It is the tallest arch in the world and the tallest monument in the western hemisphere. Its catenary shape makes it perfectly balanced on the ground. It has a unique elevator system that is actually a closer cousin to a Ferris wheel. Due to the nature of the arch a traditional vertical elevator was impractical so they designed this unique contraption for such purpose.

After aimlessly wandering a nearly deserted downtown we decided to visit what is arguably the next best known landmark here: The Anheuser-Busch brewery. They have an excellent complimentary tour in which you visit the Clydesdales and their historic stable, the aging cellar, the also historic brew house and then you get free beer.

After our beer drinking extravaganza we felt it was only appropriate to sample some authentic St. Louis Barbecue, so we went to Pappy’s Smokehouse, which didn’t disappoint. For desert we decided to try another St. Louis staple, frozen custard. For that we went to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, in the Dutchtown neighborhood. The area doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to crime rate, but we had no problems.

We stayed two nights at the Casino Queen RV Park, just across the river in East St. Louis, Illinois. From here we continued towards our next destination: Memphis, Tennessee. On the way there we had lunch at another unique and iconic restaurant called Lambert’s Cafe, Home of the Throwed Rolls. Eventually we made it our destination, the Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas.

I hope you enjoy this week’s video. See you on the next destination.

Chicago: Road Trip to the “Windy City”

What can I say! This is the pinnacle of our road trip, 1500 miles in the making: Chicago, Illinois. In my latest video we finally make it to the “Windy City”.

Chicago Thumbnail

Unlike other large metropolis, this one has a relatively inexpensive place to “camp” right off downtown. The McCormick Center Truck Marshaling lot charges $35 for overnight parking (as of spring of 2016). I sarcastically refereed to it throughout the video as our luxury accommodations, just because it is a luxury in itself to be so close to downtown.  We spent two nights there and did as much as we could with the allotted time. We learned our lesson in Paris last year, and decided never again to leave the best for last. For that reason we pretty much knocked down the bucket list items first. Right after we arrived, we went to downtown and saw the Millennium Park and the Cloud Gate (The Bean). We also had a deep dish pizza at Giordano’s. That same evening we took the Architectural Foundation River Cruise.

The next day in the morning we went to the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower. This is perhaps the most important landmark in Chicago, since it was the world’s tallest building for almost 25 years. With the most important stuff checked off the list, we leisurely walk around the city and the lakefront. We pass by the famous Navy Pier, but early on realize it is not for us. There is a Chicago Cubs home game happening so we decide to go to Wrigley Field and mingle with the locals at the stadium’s spot’s bar. Finally we go to the other great observation deck in the city at the Hancock Building. We have dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant called Rosebud on Rush.

On the following day we just take a leisurely stroll on the Riverfront Trail, eat at a local fast food place called Portillo’s, and get on our way south towards St. Louis.

Driving Through Indiana

In this week’s video we drive through the great state of Indiana.

Indiana Thumb Play

In the morning, we leave our campsite at the Louisville Metro KOA and begin driving north. The idea is to reach Elkhart, the RV Capital of the World by sundown.

As part of our journey we go through the Indiana capital, the great city of Indianapolis. Although we don’t get to explore much, we do drive through downtown, see the Capitol building, which in Indiana is called the Statehouse, and the also famous Soldiers and Sailors Monument which is an obelisk in a very centric traffic circle, which honors the veterans of the Civil War. As we leave the city we also see the Scottish  Right Cathedral, one of the largest masonic buildings in the world. Did I mention it belongs to the Freemasons?

As we continue north we also drive through Kokomo. Remember the Beach Boy’s song? “In the Florida Keys there’s a place called Kokomo”. Well it turns out the real Kokomo is here in Central Indiana, and it doesn’t display any of the tropical innuendo depicted in the 1980’s hit song. There are a bunch of automotive plants, which is surprising because I was under the impression we didn’t manufacture anything anymore.

We continue and eventually reach Elkhart. The reason we are here, besides it being a pretty town, is because on the next day we pan to visit the RV/MH Hall of Fame. It is an RV museum, and in their collection the have some of the first houses on wheels, going back to the beginnings of the automobile invention.

Don’t forget to check out my social media links and if you would like to make a donation to help us continue traveling, here are the links.

Thank you for your support
https://www.paypal.me/roadnomad
http://patreon.com/travelingrobert
http://freeinmyrv.com

As always thank you for watching and see you on the road.

 

Kentucky: Bourbon, Horses, and Family

The definitive Kentucky video is finally here.

Louiville Thumb Play

First we visit Makers Mark Kentucky Bourbon Whisky distillery. At the beautiful property we learn about their history, the whiskey making process, and at the end we get to sample 4 different varieties, including the raw moonshine-like white alcohol, before they put in the oak barrels to age. That is some potent stuff.

After our whiskey adventure we continue towards Louisville, crossing through beautiful rural Kentucky and Bardstown, self-proclaimed the Whiskey Capital of the World.

We are staying at the Louisville Metro KOA, which is actually on the Indiana side of the Ohio River in the city of Clarksville. Here we get to spend some time with my cousin Juan and his wife Thelma. Cousin Juan has lived here most of his life in Louisville and Thelma was born and raised here so they know the town pretty well. On the ride around the city they share a lifetime of memories with us, going back to the 1960’s.

No visit to Louisville is complete without going to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, and although we skip the museum this time, we enter the building and go into some of the gardens. We also have breakfast at Wagner’s Pharmacy, which is actually a diner, very popular with horsemen since the 1920’s. The walls are covered with pictures of horses from the many years of horse racing tradition.

We also tour Old Louisville Historic District, particularly the St. James Court Area. It has the largest contiguous collection of Victorian era homes in the United States. We also drive on Bardstown road, in the Highlands neighborhood, which is famous for the numerous bars, night clubs and restaurant in the area. After an afternoon nap to recharge batteries we are joined by Juan’s sister, cousin María for dinner at Louisville’s best Cuban restaurant called Havana Rumba.

Mammoth Cave National Park

I have been meaning to write a blog post for over two weeks now. A good portion of editing videos involves writing the script of what I am going to say. That type of writing, however, comes to me much easier than this one. Writing a blog post involves more precision somehow.
That being said, since the las blog post I have released another fabulous video about the largest cave system in the world, located at Mammoth Cave National Park.

MAMMOTH CAVE
Mammoth Cave Thumb play
We took the two-hour long Domes and Dripstones tour, which took us through three different types of cave passageways. First we descended nearly 200 feet through a long system of stairs going down a sinkhole. This sinkhole was discovered while trying to find a new entrance to the cave, and the actual entrance was blasted using explosives. It is called the “new” entrance to the cave. As the passageway levels off we enter a large room called “Grand Central Station” because of its size and because many passageways emerge from it. The next part of the cave is very dry and no longer being  affected by erosion. The flat ceiling gives it almost an artificial look. This type of passageway has become stable over many years as layers of rock have collapsed against each other. The las part of the cave is the Drapery Room, which is more like your typical picture perfect cave with stalagmites, stalactites, and many delicate rock formations caused by water erosion over the course of thousands of years. The most dramatic feature is a rock formation called the “Frozen Niagara”.
After our visit to Mammoth Cave National Park we had to go through decontamination because of some fungal spores that are spreading and are causing bats to die from something called the “white nose syndrome”.
After our fabulous cave visit we continue north-east towards the Bourbon Trail,, going through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen in our great country.
On the next video, coming soon I will take you Bourbon tasting with us to the Maker’s Mark distillery on Loretto, Kentucky.

RV UPGRADES
As many of you know, I have been, little by little making some improvements to Minitini the trailer. The two main upgrades I have made recently have been a Fantastic Vent and a solar panel system. I don’t know how I survived without them.
Fantastic Vent Play
The Fantastic vent installation was the first o the two. It is basically an extractor that sucks warm air our while letting fresh air come in through the windows. It works great as long as there is actually fresh air coming in. In my experience when it is 95° Fahrenheit outside there is little you can do to get cooler. However in the cool spring nights it worked great. We even had to use our bedsheets one night. The unit I purchased has a couple of extra features such as a remote control and rain sensor.
Solar Panel Play
The other great addition has been the solar panel kit from Renology I bought and installed. Before I got it, I always had anxiety about my house battery being depleted. One time I even had to connect the car and turn it on to recharge. I don’t really want to deal with the weight and noise of a generator so this is a great solution. Not only does it fully charge my 80 amp-hour battery on a couple of hours during a sunny day, I also never have to disconnect the battery when I am going to stay put at home for a couple of weeks.

Lately, I have received requests from a bunch of companies to review their products on my YouTube channel, so you will see a couple of promotional videos in the future, some of them will even give me a commission if you buy with the provided link
Universal Yums July Play
Follow the link to get your Universal Yums subscription
http://www.universalyums.com?ref=travelingrobert
Please let me know what you think about these promotions. It would be great not having advertising on the channel, but travel can be expensive and every bit helps.
Follow any of the links below to support the show.
https://www.paypal.me/roadnomad
http://patreon.com/travelingrobert
Get your sticker at http://www.freeinmyrv.com

Until the next time! See you on the road!

Nashville: Music City

Nashville Thumb white play

In this week’s video we arrive at the Music City and enjoy Nashville’s notorious night life. The main drag is called Broadway. It begins at the Cumberland river and it goes for about a mile to the west. This is the site of all the famous honky tonk bars, and there is great live music everywhere.

In the morning we explore downtown a little bit. We pass by the Tennessee State Capitol, the Legislative Plaza, and the war memorial. Back in the broadway area we pass by the  Ryman Auditorium, often called the Mother Church of Country Music. We also enjoy a beer for breakfast and some wonderful country music at the Legends Corner. Our next stop is the Country Music Hall of Fame, and my favorite part, the guided tour of RCA Studio B, where Elvis Presley and many other great luminaries of rock n’ roll and country music recorded many hit songs. We end our day at the Centennial Park, admiring the only life size replica of the Parthenon in the world.

We left so many things unseen in this great musical city that a second date is a most. We shall return soon. The next time I want to eat some hot chicken and see the Musica fountain, which became controversial for depicting nudity. I also want to go to the Grand Ole Opry, and attend a concert in one of many acoustically perfect venues.

Until the next time thank you for following my YouTube Channel and see you on the road!

Remember to SUBSCRIBE

Rock City: I Can See Seven States… Maybe

On this week’s video we visit a famous roadside attraction near Chattanooga, Tennessee called Rock City. Rock city is located on the Georgia side of the border, on top of the Lookout Mountain Ridge.

Rock City Thumb 2

Rock City became a tourist attraction back in the early 1930s, at the site of a community called Fairyland, founded by one Garnet Carter and his wife Frieda. These rock formations happened to be inside the Fairyland community, and it was Frieda’s idea to develop this part of the property into a great rock garden, with all kinds of plants, trails around the rocks, and statues of gnomes and other fairytale characters imported from Germany. They claim that you can see seven states from the top of the mountain: Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. While on a clear day you can see the Smoky Mountains, that’s still the Tennessee side. I don’t have hard evidence of this but I have read that Kentucky, Virginia, and South Carolina are below the horizon, so the only way you could see them is if the Earth was flat.

In Rock City we also enjoy the music of Matt Downer – Old Time Traveler, an Alabama native and Chattanooga resident. He plays the fiddle, the banjo, and the guitar, and he has dedicated his career to the preservation of traditional music. He has studied the repertoire and techniques of many of the elder Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia musicians, so he is the real deal. What a treat it is to listen to his music.

As we continue towards Nashville  we run into some trouble climbing the Cumberland Plateau , also known Monteagle Mountain. The car started overheating on the long 5% grade. While technically not a mountain, Monteagle got it’s popular culture name due to a Johnny Cash song describing this treacherous portion of the road.

Without further preamble, here’s the video.

Great American Road Trip 2016 Part 2 – Rock City: I Can See Seven States… Maybe

Great American Road Trip Part 1: The Long and Not So Winding Road

GART1 FL-GA Thumb2This is the first part of our Great American Road Trip, a series documenting our trip to Chicago in the late spring of 2016. In this first installment there is a lot of driving involved, as we want to get as far away as possible from South Florida. We start driving on a Friday afternoon, as far north as we possibly can before going to sleep. We manage to make it all the way to Orlando. On the following morning we continue pushing north stopping several times along the way. We make to to the Florida-Georgia border at around noon. We take a quick break at Valdosta, and then drive through downtown Macon. We continue north through secondary roads through the Piedmont National Wildlife Preserve until we arrive at the outskirts of Atlanta, and have dinner with family members. We spend Saturday night at the Walmart in Marietta. In the morning we continue driving to the northwest, along the foothills of the Appalachians, until eventually, at around noon we arrive at Rock City, where the real adventure will finally begin.

This is just an introduction to this two-week “Great American Road Trip”. I will try to post videos weekly as follows:

  • Rock City Gardens: I Can See Seven States
  • Nashville: Music City
  • Kentucky: Caves, Bourbon, and Horses
  • The RV/Motorhome Hall of Fame
  • Chicago
  • St. Louis: Beer, Barbecue, and Frozen Custard
  • Memphis: Elvis is Alive
  • Destin: Vacation From Our Vacation

As always thank you for watching my videos and see you on the road!