The fear that almost kept us from RVing

Is fear ever truly healthy? If so, how do you decipher if the fear gnawing in the pit of your stomach needs to be fed or starved?

That is the question I was staring at two years ago. I was wrestling with the unknown. My required response was either flee my fear or face it. Facing my fear may seem like the desired logical, brave, big-girl reaction. However, I wasn’t just scared to talk to a homeless man or visit Florida. This fear was fueled by the desire to keep my children safe from unknown predators.

Let me take you back to the beginning

A few years ago, after a period of intense heart stirring, my husband and I began tiptoeing down a new path of surrender. We felt the Lord nudging us toward lightening our load in preparation for an unconfirmed future. We sold things, we downsized and we began considering things that we’d never considered before. The further down the road we walked, the more curious we became—where was God leading us? Soon we approached a bend in the road, a place where we could not see around the corner. We believed that selling our home was probably our next step of faith. However, we had no clarity for what would come after or where we would live. Once again, we returned to prayer and asked God to lead us into the unknown.

The offer

At this time we received a unique offer to move a few hours away and help oversee an RV campground. In exchange for our time, we would be compensated with free housing and food. There were many aspects to this proposition that appealed to us. We could be free of our mortgage while we continued to seek wisdom for our next step. Our efforts to downsize would be rewarded in a smaller living space. We would be stepping out in faith toward something new.

The offer is considered

In order to gain clarity and better understand the possible situation in which we would be moving into, our family drove a few hours to visit the RV park. Throughout the duration of our stay we experienced several unique confirmations that pointed us in the direction of wanting to accept the offer and move forward.

On the last morning of our visit, our kids were outside riding their bikes. When they returned to the house, our daughter had a look of concern clouding her face. “Mom, there was a man in one of the cabins who was yelling at us out his window and he made me feel really uncomfortable,” she confided. At that moment it felt as though the air was being sucked out of the room. Suddenly my confidence shattered and wondered how I ever thought this arrangement could work.

The offer is poison

During our drive home my mind was racing faster than the car. Who tries to raise their kids in an RV park? What kind of mom would I be to bring my children into an environment teeming with strangers–not just strangers: transient strangers! How could I ever live with myself if something happened to them just because we decided that an unconventional living arrangement was a good idea? Later, after discussing these concerns with Trent, we both agreed that it was not wise to move forward unless we both felt peace. I certainly didn’t have peace so I set my mind toward accepting the hard truth that seemed to be staring me in the face: we were not going to move after all.

Days passed and I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling in my heart. My lack of peace, which I had previously decided was brought on by divine discernment, caused me to feel restless and agitated. How was it possible that everything had pointed so clearly in one direction only to have it sharply U-turn unexpectedly? Wasn’t this feeling of unease from God as well? Wasn’t it? Somehow I couldn’t reconcile the two extremes.

Contemplative reflection

I found myself in contemplative reflection as I remembered previous times in my life in which the Lord had clearly directed my steps. In an attempt to gain more clarity into those situations, I pulled out old journals and sought to retrace those moments of clear conviction. I read about occasions when I had stood at the crossroads of decision and God brought a confident answer through a time of prayer and fasting.

That next day I determined to beseech wisdom from God and set aside an agenda of food in exchange for focused time in prayer and reading the Bible. That afternoon I sat down on my bed and opened my heart asking God to help me know His will. I asked for confidence in how to decipher the feelings of anxiety I felt over the safety of my children. Finally, I asked for peace in whatever decision He was leading us into. I opened my bible and began to read from the book of Psalms. When I reached the third chapter, I felt as though the blinds had been pulled back from my eyes and the light of truth was pouring into the dark room. In this chapter David has fled from his son Absalom who was seeking to harm him. He exclaims,

O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, there is no deliverance for him in God.

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.

Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God! For you have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people!

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

In that moment I understood that David was able to exclaim confidently “You, O Lord are a shield about me…I will not be afraid…You have relieved me in my distress…hear my prayer” despite the fact that he was being hotly pursued by thousands because he understood that the Lord was his protector. I saw that David cried out to the Lord and the Lord answered him with a confident assurance.

Untangling the lies

I now realized that the deceiver had woven lies, whispered fears and I had quickly cultivated them in my heart. I knew that God had used this particular passage of scripture to remind me that He alone is our true shield and protection. My desire to keep my children safe is no reason to refuse to walk the path that the Lord places before me. Once I uncovered the truth, my fear fell away. In its place came a peace that allowed us to peek around the corner at the next step in our path: listing our home for sale.

Finding the truth

As I reflect now on our year and a half living as managers in that campground before launching out on our RV traveling adventure, I am reminded of the crippling effect that fear can cause. The entire course of our family stood in the balance over one fear craftily woven. The ironic truth is that our family loved that year and a half. The transient strangers that I feared never materialized and instead we were blessed with unique friendships and community.

It causes me to stop and wonder, are there any fears that I am currently cultivating? What move of God might those fears be preventing? As I continue to lean into this theme of pursuing fearlessness won’t you lean with me?

RV camping: Florida Everglades National Park

If visiting Florida was therapy for my unfounded fears, RV camping in the Florida Everglades National Park was to be my culminating coronation. The reoccurring theme in my Florida fear rehabilitation was that becoming familiar with something new is often the best antidote to overcoming a fear of it.

RV camping in the Florida Everglades National Park

Was this a bad idea?

While I’d failed to have a bad National Park experience thus far, I was open to the possibility that this might be my first. The rumors of mosquitoes, thick like clouds combined with the seemingly dangerous, if not deadly, animal population was enough to make me second guess our sanity.

Thankfully, once again, I was shown the error in my thinking and my preconceived notions were corrected and realigned. What I’d previously overlooked or even discounted as irrelevant swampland, I now understand to be a unique and vital part of our country’s ecosystem. Perhaps you are curious to know what it’s like to visit the Florida Everglades National Park in your RV. Here is my quick rundown:

The everglades wildlife

In my opinion, seeing wildlife in its natural habitat is always far superior to a view in a zoo. While in Florida, our family had already felt blessed to be able to see alligators, stingrays and sea turtles in the wild. Our hopes were high but our expectations of viewing an American crocodile, manatee or dolphin while in the Florida Everglades National Park was pretty low.

We were therefore overjoyed to view multiple crocodiles sunning themselves in plain view just a short walk from to the visitor center. We also saw both alligators and crocodiles on our ranger led canoe trip (more on that below). Two days later we were treated to an up close and personal view of several manatee in the marina near the visitor center. The following day, several bottlenose dolphins were swimming in the bay and we could easily see them cresting as they made their way across the Gulf. In addition to these new-to-us viewings we also enjoyed sightings of many bird species including Coots, Pelicans, Osprey, Turkey Vultures, Egrets and the Great Blue Heron.

Everglades Ranger led talks & activities

One of my favorite aspects of the National Park system are the ranger led activities. The number of talks, walks and tours available in the Florida Everglades National Park amazed us. During our stay they offered a free 3.5-hour morning guided canoe trip, daily 30-minute afternoon talks and a one-hour program every other evening. They also offered bird walks, tropical tree walks as well as a ranger led car caravan.

We attended many of the 30-minute talks with subjects ranging from the American crocodile to manatees, hurricanes and pythons (which, not to freak you out, have basically exploded in number to such a degree that authorities are now simply hoping to contain them from spreading throughout the entire Southeastern United States). . .

On a lighter note, we also participated in the morning canoe trip as well as an evening program.

While on our morning canoe trip we were able to silently paddle past a handful of lazy alligators and crocodiles (did you know this is the only place in the world where the two co-exist in the same habitat?) while navigating around and under the low laying branches of the red mangrove trees. I did my best to maintain a calm veneer as we proceeded through placid waters welcoming top-of-the-food-chain predators. I took my cue from the calm ranger and just kept paddling. . .

Stopping from time to time, the ranger pointed out various aspects of the vegetation or delicate eco-system around us. We marveled not only at the surrounding beauty, but the fact that this unique tour was offered free of charge.

I highly recommend taking advantage of as many of the ranger led activities as possible during your stay. You can click here for more details on their schedule. In addition, there are also paid boat tours available which can take you north deeper into the Everglades or south into the Gulf of Mexico. We didn’t participate in any of these tours, but the accessible availability was appealing to many visitors to the park.

Rv camping in the Florida Everglades

RV sites in the Flamingo campground within the Everglades Park were $30/night for the 41 electric hook-ups sites. A water and dump station is available on-site. The bathrooms were clean. Most of the showers are solar heated. We mistakenly choose the non-heated bathhouse and found the water temperature to be quite “refreshing”. Once we made a point to look for the buildings with the large solar panels (on the last day of our stay), we rejoiced in a very comfortable water temperature. There is an outdoor sink on one side of the bathrooms for dishes if needed.

If you can snag an RV site right next to the shower house and have an extra long water hose, you may be able to get water. However, the sites next to the bathrooms do not have electricity so you will be forced to choose between the two. Our RV is 41′ long and we could have comfortably fit into any of the sites offered (they were ALL pull-through)  which is a really wonderful plus for a National Park! Although, the quality of this photo is not high, it may give you a feel for the open ease of access.

rv camping florida everglades national park

If you are willing to boondock, there are many sites available but the number of electric sites are limited. We reserved our site online several months in advance because we were not sure how fast they would fill up. Initially we reserved two weeks. Later, we canceled one of those weeks in order to visit the Keys. In the end, we felt that one week was plenty of time for our family to enjoy the park at a laid-back pace. You can find more details about the Flamingo Campground here.

Everglades National Park Travel notes:

Tours and education

-The 3.5 hour ranger led canoe trip is free and for ages 10 and up. Ages 14 and up may paddle. Reservations are expected. You can reserve your spot in the visitor center. It was expected that both paddlers be from the same party/family. One underage (10-13) rider may sit between the two paddlers in the middle of the canoe. Surprisingly, mosquitoes were practically non-existent due to fish eating up the larvae. This made for an unexpectedly pleasant bug-free morning. I highly recommend this tour.

The Jr. Ranger program at the Florida Everglades National Park requires 4 pages to be completed regardless of age. You can ask for ranger packets at the visitor center, park entrance or even when checking in to your camping site. Or if you really want to be ahead of the curve, click here and print your own copy! Activities in the booklet are not difficult and there were many to choose from.

Transportation

-Bikes were a plus for our stay. We used them on several occasions to ride to the nearby visitor center (about 1.5 miles from the campground) or the beach (think clay, not sand) although we could have easily used the car.

The Flamingo RV campground is about 38 miles past the entrance of the park. Although the town of Homestead is just outside the Everglades Park, it will take you at least 45 minutes (one way) to drive there. We planned ahead and did our grocery shopping for the week before arriving so that we would not have to leave the park for food. Speaking of food, there is a small restaurant at the Flamingo visitor center (the one by the RV park). We never ate there but that is an option if you want to make use of it.

Communication

-We currently use Verizon and Wi-Fi within the park was non-existent for us. However, I’ve heard that people with AT&T were able to get service. There is free Wi-Fi at the visitor center. The visitor center closes at 4:30 each day but the doors remain unlocked and you can access the Wi-Fi both within the building our just outside of it. We took the opportunity to decompress from our devices and found our week without Internet to be a welcomed change.

Mosquitoes and other things that bite

-Mosquitoes were the main drawback to our stay in the Everglades. Come equipped with good bug spray. During the dry season (from December-April) you will find the mosquito numbers to be most favorable. Keep in mind that “favorable” is a loosely used term. Although our stay was technically during the dry season, we are told it has been wetter than normal this year, which meant more mosquitoes than average. We did our best to avoid being outdoors until mid-morning and then again retreated into our RV around sunset. During those early morning and late afternoon periods of time the number of mosquitoes felt laughable to this Idaho girl. However, even for my mid-west man, the levels were irksome. That said, from mid-morning until late afternoon most days quite pleasant. There was often a slight breeze and we could enjoy our time outside in the sun with little interaction with mosquitoes.

-Although personal safety due to wildlife was an initial concern, I can honestly say that I never felt we were in danger (even while gliding past alligators in our canoe). Having a ranger with us on our tour may have had a lot to do with that. However, I was reminded that although wildlife can be dangerous, as long as we give them adequate space and respect their young, it is possible to enjoy the same space without fear.

Outside perspective

-A friend and fellow full-time RVer wrote a good review of her time in the Everglades over at Barry Good Times. Her family only had time for a one day visit and they explored a different part of the Everglades than we did so I thought you might enjoy reading her take on the park as well.

How about you? Have you been to the Florida Everglades National Park? If so, what was your experience? If not, do you plan to go in the future? Why or why not?

The National Park Jr. Ranger Program

What is the Jr. Ranger Program?

The National Park Jr. Ranger program has been a fun way for our kids to go a little deeper into the history or science behind the National Parks we visit.

Participation involves completing a predetermined number of pages within a Jr. Ranger booklet (provided at the visitor center). Some activities may include watching a video, going on a hike, observing nature, drawing a picture or attending a Ranger led program. Upon completion of the booklets, Jr. Rangers raise their right hand and are sworn-in by promising to protect the National Park system, obey their parents or eat their vegetables (it all depends on the personality of the ranger on duty). Finally, a free badge and certificate of completion is awarded and there are smiles all around.

Our experience with the Jr. Ranger program

Our daughter (11) has been participating in the Jr. Ranger Program through the National Park system for a few years. Our younger two (5 and 7) have recently joined her. In our family, a green ranger vest is awarded once five badges have been earned. Now all three of them show up vested and ready for serious park business when we enter a new visitor center. Call me crazy but there is something seriously cute about seeing these three walk around all vested up with badges clinking.

National park Jr. Ranger pros:

  • With the exception of the Smoky Mountains National Park (which charged a few dollars per book), all ranger booklets have been free. Small pencils are typically provided as well, however this is not always the case (Mt. Rushmore did not), so it is good to keep a few extra in the car just in case.
  • Activities in the books often provide a great overview of the park. Details about what make the park unique are often presented in an age appropriate way.
  • The Park Rangers have been very kind, supportive and encouraging to our children at all of the parks we have visited.
  • Our older son almost opted to participate with the plan to sell his newly earned badges on eBay for a profit. We noticed that Jr. Ranger badges can sell for around $5-$8 so if you have a budding entrepreneur this might be the angle that intrigues them most!

national park Jr. Ranger cons:

  • Depending on the length of time we have to visit a park, we have occasionally felt almost enslaved to the completion of the booklets, especially if the required number of pages is on the upper end and our time in the park is on the lower end. I therefore really appreciate parks that say “complete as many pages as you like” in order to qualify.
  • Some of the pages are more along the lines of what I would consider to be “busy work”. For example, some children really enjoy word searches but I don’t consider them to be highly educational and yet they seem to be a very popular inclusion in the booklets.

national park Jr. Ranger tips:

  • If you have multiple children, try paring up youngers with olders to help work on the booklets. Most booklets are geared for ages 4-12 however all ages are welcome and even adults can participate. I recently heard from one mom who has been earning badges right along with her kids and said that made all the difference in their motivation.
  • I recently learned that the Jr. Ranger booklets are typically able to be accessed on the National Park’s website and printed off at home. This could prove to be very useful if our time in a park is going to be short and some activities could be completed ahead of time.
  • Keep in mind that if you don’t complete your booklets before you exit the park, you can mail them in. A ranger will review your child’s booklet and send their badge in return. We have not done this yet but have heard positive things from others who have–including a hand written note of congratulations from the ranger and some fun extras!
  • Ranger vests cost about $35.00 but we’ve found that this varies by a few dollars depending on the park. I’ve also noticed that not all parks carry every size on hand at all times. In addition to that, most parks don’t have sizes that accommodate children much older than 10. Therefore, if you are hoping to purchase a vest for an older child, keep your eye out at each visitor center gift shop and perhaps check on eBay for a used vest.
  • Purchasing an $80 America the Beautiful annual pass is a great value if you are going to be visiting several parks in a year. However, it might be worth researching ahead of time the entrance fee of parks you plan to visit. We’ve been surprised at how many parks have been free. In general it’s the larger National Parks that charge an entrance fee while a lot of the National Monuments and Landmarks that we have visited have been free.
  • If you have a 4th grader, be sure to take advantage of the Every Kid in a Park program. During your child’s 4th grade year your entire car load of family and friends can visit ANY participating National Park for free by simply filling out the form online and printing your pass ahead of time (homeschoolers are eligible as well)!

Still hungry for more?

  • In doing research for this post, I discovered a neat WebRanger program that allows your child to explore parks remotely and participate in a variety of activities in different degrees of difficulty.

How about you? Have your kids tried out the Jr. Ranger program? What has your experience with it been? What have been your favorite National Parks to visit?

overcoming my unfounded Florida fears

I spent most of my childhood growing up on a fruit orchard on the Columbia River in Washington State. Our white two-story farmhouse was perched on a small hill, nestled within the protective arms of a pine tree covered hillside. If I tilted my head just right, I could see a sliver of placid blue water through the distant trees beyond my living room window. Our summers were hot and dry and the winters were cold and white. Although my family made many trips to Southern California to visit family, that was the extent of my travels and for all I knew the rest of the world looked a lot like the west coast of the United States of America.

First taste of freedom

In 1993 I turned 15 and my parents offered me my first chance to step outside my comfort zone and see well beyond my living room window. A pamphlet from Teen Missions International based in Merritt Island, Florida beckoned offered a travel experience like no other: two weeks in Florida for boot camp and then on to diverse international locations such as Mozambique, Papa New Guinea or Brazil. I scoured the brochure attempting to select the most ideal location like a discerning shopper looking through a fashion catalog. Dog-eared and worn, I poured over my printed options with vigor, circling those that seemed most promising and adding stars to the ones that seemed extra romantic. In the end, France captured my teenage heart and I submitted my application for adventure.

What the brochure failed to mention however, was the fact that no geographically informed individual would consider traveling to Florida in the height of summer. I was, up to this time in my life, grossly uninformed and blissfully naive to matters of humidity, chiggers and mid-summer mosquitoes. I was also somewhat self-absorbed and walking that difficult road of confident ignorance. (If you are over the age of 25, I trust I’m not alone in recalling memories from this period of time with embarrassing clarity.)

Reality check

What greeted me that July as I stepped off the airplane in Orlando, was a wash of reality served fresh on a plate of heavy humidity mixed with intense heat. Arriving late in the evening, I traveled under the cloak of night by bus to the boot camp location. Because of my late arrival, I was treated to a night on the floor in my sleeping bag in an air-conditioned building. This would be the last comfortable night of sleep I would experience in Florida.

For the next two weeks, my sleeping bag rested inside a small pup tent amid the forest floor. I learned to wash my clothes by hand and forgo the expectation that they would dry in the moist air before I needed to wear them again. My only comfort was that I was not alone. My team of 32 other teens had signed up for this self-inflicted experience as well.

Because there were thousands of teens representing countless teams traveling all over the globe, our conditions were set up to mimic those of the most primitive team. Every aspect of our boot camp adventure was designed to mimic conditions on the mission field and help us overcome culture shock before we left the United Sates to our varied international destinations. This included our dress code of jeans and combat boots despite the sweltering summer weather. Team building opportunities included classing in construction, puppets, drama and survival skills and a morning obstacle course through the jungle complete with a rope swing over a muddy slough and scaling a 12 foot wall.

Occasionally, I would peer into the night sky and see the blinking lights of an airplane. I’d stand in awe that somewhere in the stratosphere people were sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned cabin drinking soda with ice cubes clinking in their plastic cups watching an in-flight movie. How I wished I could be among them! As sweat dripped between my shoulder blades in the heat of the night, I made myself a promise: never again would I be dumb enough to visit Florida.

Lasting impact

Twenty-three years later I was staring hard into that promise as our family began charting our RV travel route. Logically and logistically wintering in Florida was the best choice.

For a lunatic, I reasoned.

We wanted to visit the states we’d never been to as a family. We wanted to travel up the east coast in the spring. Florida made perfect sense.

If you want to be an idiot.

Let’s set aside the humidity and the insects and pretend those are inconsequential. How can we ignore the alligators?

People say they are “everywhere.”

What about the hurricanes?

We are traveling in an RV for Pete sake, we’d likely blow right out to sea!

That’s not even taking into account red tide, sinkholes or the Zika Virus!

I might as well call CPS and report myself if I think it’s safe to subject my children to the dangers of Florida.

Facing unfounded fear head-on

unfounded fears

In my first post of 2017, I addressed the topic of fear. Please understand that was not written from a hypothetical or metaphorical standpoint. I’ve met fear face-to-face on many occasions and in varying degrees of circumstances or intensities. This time was guilty of nursing a twenty-three year old memory well past the weaning stage. I’d let the news, social media and those around me feed that fear. It’s embarrassing to admit but over time my fear became bigger than my God and my faith was in the words of those confirming my doubts. If you are looking for a good place to get lost in insecurity, turn inward and wrap yourself in a blanket of anxious thoughts. It’s awfully lonely, but at least you will be warm.

Choosing to winter in Florida this year was a deliberate move to throw off the anxiety blanket and step boldly toward fearlessness; away from hypothetical “what ifs?” and unfounded fears and toward more calculated curiosity and logical reasoning. What I have discovered after a month in the Sunshine Sate has been surprisingly straightforward: yes there are unpleasantries in Florida. It’s humid. It’s buggy. There are alligators, crocodiles, snakes and panthers. Hurricanes are possible and sinkholes occur. But that is only the view through one lens. Realistically speaking, the Northwest, where I call home has bears, cougars, moose, and poisonous spiders. The winters are cold and summer brings the treat of wildfire. Despite all of those perceived dangers, I’ve never questioned my sanity or well being living there. Have you noticed how relaxed we can become inside our zones of comfort?

I could have so easily missed out

Here is what it comes down to: my fear of the unknown is often deeply rooted in just that–the unknown. Becoming familiar with something new is often not only the antidote to fear, but also a close-minded outlook. My fear faded as my education grew. I learned that hurricanes more or less follow a predictable schedule and just like in Idaho, the wildlife prefers to keep to itself. Once I was willing to use a different lens, I saw that manatees were swimming in the same waters as the crocodile and shark teeth could be found on the opposite shore of the lazy alligator. Beauty and wonder co-existed with my misplaced fears. I could so easily have missed out.

Those Blue Angels that flew over our heads on the beach in perfect formation…
That spontaneous Dominion game night with three other couples…
The decadent Key Lime Pie purchased in Key West…
Standing on the southernmost tip of our continent…
Seeing a sea turtle both in the wild as well in a rehabilitation hospital…

Spotting stingrays…
Discovering shark teeth in a riverbed…
Sitting inches away from wild manatee…
Trying Cuban coffee…
Attempting to see the sunset while a cruise ship moved in to block the view…
Picking strawberries in January…

 Making new friends…
Biking through the Everglades…
Eyeing crocodiles sunning themselves on the riverbank…
Canoeing through mangrove forests while gliding silently past submerged alligators…
Watching dolphins swim in the Gulf of Mexico…

I could have missed it all.

Now certainly one could say that had we not been in Florida, different memories would have been made in another place. This is true and they could have been wonderful. However, in addition to all that we gained in friendships, memories and experiences, I can also add the lesson of facing my unfounded fear and realizing that the reality was much different than the expectation. Call me crazy but if I tilt my head just right, I just might see another Florida winter in our future.

RV upgrade: adding a Splendide 2100 washer/dryer

From Trent:

We’ve come a long way baby…From days of muddy city streets filled with animal feces and chamber pots thrown out of 2nd story windows, to our modern-day concrete jungles complete with hand sanitizer stands at every big box entrance.  These little bottles of gel stand like sentry guards challenging you to enter without a hand baptism (or full submersion if you prefer).  If you manage to sneak past these guardians, your evil shopping cart handle will probably infect you before you can reach for your virus infected paper money to pay for those chemically sprayed vegetables. Soon, we will all have to enter our own personal protection bubbles to shield us from anything harmful before we venture outdoors. But I digress…

Staying out of the dark ages

Washer and dryer machines keep us clean and out of the dark ages. These wonderful machines give us back so much time that was lost to washboards and squeegee rollers.  The Ledeboer’s declared that we needed these modern marvels inside our tiny home on wheels.

Splendide washer/drayer install in three easy steps

How does one go about installing two large machines in a tiny home with a skinny hall you may ask?

First, find a good friend with a strong back.
-“Check”

Splendide 2100 install

Second, combine the washer and dryer into one machine.  (I didn’t know this was possible until just a few months ago.)
-“Check”

Third, cut a hole in the side of your RV for the dryer vent, first making sure it is in exactly the right location.
-“Umm, not check”.

I accidentally cut the hole for our dryer vent in the wrong place. Thankfully, the remedy was fairly simple. This is the text conversation that I had with Heather when she came back to the RV while I was at the hardware store looking for a solution:

splendide install

Thankfully I did return from the hardware store with a work-around. Watch the full video for details on how we overcame this Splendide install dilemma.

A note from Heather:

We went back and forth about getting a washer/dryer combo unit in our RV. There were pros and cons to each option which included:

-Cost: A few hundred dollars up front vs. paying per load at a laundry mat.
-Time: About 10 minutes a day vs. an hour+ each week at a laundry mat.
-Effort: Locating a used model and learning how to install it vs. finding a laundry mat in each new location we travel to.

We tried to weigh these various factors: how much it would cost to purchase, how often we would use it, and the weight that it would add to our RV.

In the end we felt that the pros would outweigh the cons. We found a used Splendide 2100 model on craigslist for $600 and as Trent outlined above, learned some valuable lessons in the process. Now that we’ve had our Splendide washer/dryer for several months, I can confidently say that I am glad we decided to purchase one.

New laundry routines

As you may expect, the drum size of our Splendide is significantly smaller than our previous stackable front loading machine. This necessitates more frequent washings in order to stay on top of our laundry. I’ve established a daily routine, putting in one load each morning. I’m no longer as picky as I used to be about separating out our lights and darks because it is easier to run one load a day by simply throwing everything in together. By the end of the day I find time to pull out the dry clothes and because the load is small, it’s quick and easy to put everything away. Prior to RVing I had no idea that there were combo washer/dryer units. I do enjoy that once I start the load I don’t have to do anything else until I’m ready to pull it out and put it away due to the fact that it automatically begins the drying mode once the wash cycle is completed.

I can see that it might be nice to have some quiet time in a laundry mat as I catch up on our laundry once a week. However, there have been many weeks in which I have been thankful that we didn’t need to work that into our routine. In addition, our youngest still struggles to have consistently dry nights. Each time I need to wash his bedding, I appreciate that I don’t have to go any further than my bedroom closet.

Although our kids loved the novelty of washing their own clothing at the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead, I am not ready to adopt this into our regular routine and I’m thankful for the advances we have made since the days of emptying chamber pots into the streets!

splendide (early model)

How about you? Did you know there were combo units like this? If you have an RV, do you have a washer/dryer? Why or why not?