Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's an RVing Thing: Campsite Signs

RVing thing: Camping signs
While travelling around to different resorts and campgrounds, we enjoy checking out the "neighborhood" as we take Molly on her walks. That's the excuse anyway. We really just enjoy being out, and seeing how other RVers decorate or do things. There are some great ideas how to setup camp out there! Some people gather all the chairs around the fire ring, while others open up a storage bay and gather round a big screen TV tucked inside. Some parents setup a screened in gazebo to eat under, while others pull the picnic table close to the RV to take advantage of the awning. Sometimes on our walks we see elaborate setups, and some people just put out a folding chair or two. It's great how we all can camp and enjoy the outdoors differently.
For the RoadAbode Crew, how we setup depends on how long we are staying. Less than three days, and we'll put out our camp chairs as we need them. For longer stays, we'll setup our ez-up shade room,  our boot-brush stand, a few of our interlocking floor foam pads as a patio mat, and our chairs, with one or two at the ready for guests. We cover the the top and benches of the picnic table with nice matching red plaid covers. We hang up some nice lights under the canopy - not too bright, but good for sitting and playing cards or board games. The last thing I like to put out in a prominent spot on our campsite is our Camp Sign.

We've seen some great signs over the years. It gives you a sense of the family or couple that are staying there. Some speak to "who's the boss" (Mom). Others about how blessed they feel to be out together. What teams they root for, or a little of their wit. Sometimes it's letting you know all about the owner's kids, grand-kids or "furbabies." As we walk with Molly past our camping neighbors, I wonder what are the stories and adventures that are behind the signs we run across.
RoadAbode Sign
Our Campsite Sign at the Canadian KOA, Niagara Falls 2006

Our RV campsite sign is pretty simple. Just a slice of a log with a burned-in image of RoadAbode, our name, RoadAbode logo and this blog's address. The story how we got our sign is maybe a little different though.
My parents both passed away in 2005. My Mother in the spring, and my father followed along in the fall. While doing the arduous task of cleaning out their home  with my wife and brother, I found on my father's basement workbench a wood-burning kit I had gotten him a few years back. "Opa" when he was well was a great whittler and woodcarver, making figurines, animals and other decorative objects. His art was crafted from small blocks of cherry, walnut, cedar and other woods he would procure through various methods. As he got older, he carved less. I thought the wood-burning starter kit, with instructions and "hot-knife" might give him a creative outlet.
When I found the wood burning kit in his workbench, I was at first a bit perturbed. "He didn't even open it!" But I realized I had given it to him before his world had changed drastically; my mother passed, and his health declined.
I decided the wood burning kit was one of the things I would use to remember him by - to remember when he could be artistic, and proud of what he could accomplish. That winter I set to work on the large and small slabs of wood that came with the kit. I'm not particularly artistic, but I can use computer software to manipulate images pretty well! So I created an image in black and white, an outline of a Class C RV. I made sure to draw in where RoadAbode's door and windows are. Then I flipped the image backward in the software, and printed it from our inkjet printer in "Best" mode - using the most ink. I used this mirrored image, and placed it on the wood face down, and using a tablespoon, rubbed the inked side onto the wood surface. It worked! The ink transferred and gave me a good template to follow for wood-burning. The wood-burning was an interesting process, and I had to be careful - that "hot-knife" could burn skin just as quickly as wood! I also transferred our family name to the smaller wood cut using the same process. After completing the burning to what I thought looked presentable, a few spray coats of polyurethane sealed the piece, and a few eye hooks and length of chain pulled RoadAbode's camp sign together. A shepherd's crook hanger lets us put it on whatever spot has some soft earth so we can put it on our campsite.
Our Camp sign may not be the funniest, or most inventive we've seen, but it does hold a special place in our heart when we display it. Our camp sign lets other RVers and campers know - "RoadAbode is Here!"
RoadAbode Camp Sign
RoadAbode Camp Sign
Do you have a camp sign? does it hold an interesting story? We'd love to hear about what kind and why you have the sign that you do. Happy RVing!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

RoadAbode RoadTrip ~ Bethlehem PA ~ More than Just "Christmas City"

RoadAbode RV RoadTrip Bethlehem PA

Don't underestimate Bethlehem PA. The RoadAbode Crew was not ready for the amazing amount of diverse ways to experience this historic town along the Lehigh River. We discovered Bethlehem is a town growing into it's own as an Arts hub, rising from the ashes of what once was a booming steeltown.
It's Moravian origins, the growth and demise of Bethlehem Steel, and the subsequent nurturing of the Visual and Performing Arts in this Leigh County town is something we plan on discovering more of.

Where Bethlehem Came From

Moravian Stars
Hand Crafted Moravian Stars
In 1741, a small group of Moravians, founded a mission community, naming it Bethlehem, along the banks of a tributary of the Lehigh River. Until the 1850s, only members of the Moravian Church were allowed land plots in Bethlehem. There are still historic buildings standing, remnants of the communal living of the Moravian culture from that time period. Tours are available by checking in at
We stopped by what is reputed to be the oldest continually operating bookstore in the world. The Moravian Bookstore is quite inviting. It is actually four or five street front stores interconnected, including not just an interesting collection of books, but also unique gift items, a quaint cafe and a whole area within the store devoted to handmade Moravian Stars and other European inspired Christmas decorations. These geometric stars were adopted by the Moravian Church as a symbol of the birth of Jesus and represent the star of Bethlehem. According to tradition, a Moravian Star is hung the first Sunday of Advent and remains up until Epiphany, January 6, which is believed to when the wise men (or Magi) arrived to pay homage to Christ. The city of Bethlehem PA erects a large illuminated star that can be seen for miles during the Christmas season. During the holiday,  tours of decorated historic homes, churches, and special events occur throughout it's neighborhoods, earning it the name of "Christmas City."
Though the Moravian faith and traditions established the history of Bethlehem, What caused it's growth was steel. Starting in the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s, the Bethlehem Steel Company was the economic giant for the Lehigh County region. At it's height of production in the 50s and 60s, Bethlehem Steel was named the second-largest steel producer in the United States, with Pittsburgh Pennsylvania's US Steel taking top spot. The company became a major supplier of  steel for both World Wars, and became one of the larges shipbuilders, producing 1,100 warships for the United States war efforts.. After approximately 140 years of metal production at the Bethlehem Steel plant, the company closed operations of its massive foundries in Bethlehem in 1996. Bankruptcy and the closure were due to combination of cheaper imported steel, rising costs supporting pensioners and lack of innovations by it's management team. Many thought the closing of Bethlehem Steel would be the death knell for the surrounding town.
In 2006, Sands Casino Corporation brokered a deal that is the largest redevelopment project of a former industrialized property in the nation and the largest casino development investment made to date in the state of  Pennsylvania. To date, the casino is in operation, and old steel mill buildings are being methodically revitalized as entertainment venues, restaurants, and shopping areas. Within the revitalized area is where the Banana Factory, ArtQuest and SteelStacks are located.
The Historic district is only a short drive, or twenty minute walk from the site of the old Bethlehem Steel site, and has experienced it's own revitalization with interesting boutiques and a nice collection of eateries.

What to do in Bethlehem

SteelStacks, part of the old Bethlehem Steel Complex
The three Art Centers we visited were The Banana Factory, SteelStacks, and encopassing ArtQuest district. We visited the Banana Factory for their Urban Art Street Festival. Various performing and visual arts were highlighted, including glass-making, photography, jewelry craft, knitting, sculpture, street dance and 3-d chalk drawing. Some artists had booths selling their crafted pieces. Food trucks and Pennsylvania brewer Yuengling provided interesting lunch options. If visiting, The Banana Factory is open to the public on "First Fridays" and has other special events through the year. Check in at for what is going on when you visit.
SteelStacks offers both a historical look at Bethlehem Steel, and acts as a backdrop to music and performing arts. Musikfest, an annual August festival since 1984, is held there. For a performance schedule, check in at
Besides the previously mentioned Moravian Bookstore in the Historical District, we also strolled off the main avenue to investigate the Steampunk exhibit being held in the Kemerer Museum of the Performing Arts. This museum is one of only fifteen in the United States concerned with the design and manufacture of beautiful objects that are also functional. The Steampunk exhibit was very interesting, but smaller than expected. What really made it interesting were the informative and friendly docents, giving  information on the various pieces in the collection. The Kemerer Museum afrer falling in disrepair was revitalized and re-opened in 2012, and features regionally influenced peices of decorative art. Check their hours and information on other historic Bethlehem locations at
After enjoying our Steampunk adventure, as we walked to our car parked by the Moravian College, we passed a small festival in a park going on. It was located next to the Public Library We strolled over, and found out it was celebrating the connection with Bethlehem's sister city, Tondabayashi, Japan. There were demonstrations of Japanese culture, foods and hands-on origami folding . Was a cool little add-on to the day administered by students  from Moravian College and other volunteers.

Bethlehem really surprised us, from the variety of festivals, art community, historical finds, and the dining possibilities (which we didn't take advantage of this trip). We all agreed there were reasons for each of us - from teenage to fifties - to visit again!

Where we Stayed

When in the Kutztown area, we usually stay at Pine Hill RV Park. It's located right next to a horse farm, and a mile down the road is the lovely Pinnacle Ridge Winery, a small local vintner with some wines we enjoy. Pine Hill is a great park, especially for older couples. We did see families here, but currently the do not have a pool, which kids love, and there is road noise since you sit a top a hill overlooking Route 78. That does not bother us "city folk" though. I love the views and have grown up with the occasional loud truck.
Pine Hill has done lots of upgrades since we first visited in 2008. It's a great location for when we visit Hawk Mountain and Cabelas. It was also perfect for this trip as well. Central Bethlehem was only 30 minutes away, Allentown even closer and the RV park is only a few minutes from a shopping district. On Route 100 near where it intersects with Route 78, the Pine Hill Staff recommended we try the Starlite Diner for a meal. Glad we did - this is what a diner should be! great specials, an expansive menu, great salad and soup bar, and plenty of dessert options. Everyone in the RoadAbode Crew was full and enjoyed their meal.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The One Tool Every RVer Should Carry

One Tool Every RVer Should Carry
When we travel in RoadAbode, we always carry a full tool kit with us. Since we are traveling in a "house on wheels," there's always the possibility of something rattling loose, or in need of repair. It's good to have a kit to do a simple "fixit" to keep your weekend or road trip going, at least till you can complete a more substantial repair when back home if needed.
Even with our tool kit on board, there is one tool I have on my person at all times. I've used it at work, church, home and even in fancy restaurants. This one tool actually has 12 tools in one, but it's compact, stays in my pocket, and  the only place it has not gone with me is government buildings or airports.
And you can't get buy one exactly like mine anymore - it's been "retired".
The founder of the company has been making these multitools for over thirty years. The standard for quality, durability, precision and attention to detail are what make these tools like no other. Ever since it first was invented this particular tool manufacturer has been known for just one thing - creating the world's highest quality multipurpose tools. 

My One "GottaHaveIt" Tool
For me, the one tool I always have on my person is my Leatherman SideClip. This compact multitool with twelve usable implements, can take on many of the jobs I have throw at it. From tightening a few screws, gripping or bending a part in place, to cutting my apple for lunch. No other tool I own has gotten (and taken) more abuse, and continues to survive. The tools included in my SideClip include:
Knife Blade - Ruler - Bottle Opener - Can Opener - Hard Wire Cutters - Large Screwdriver - Medium Screwdriver - Needle-nose Pliers - Phillips Screwdriver - Regular Pliers - Small Screwdriver - Wire Cutters
It really can do just about everything the RoadAbode Crew needs in a tool. Held right, it's even helped me hit in a nail or two in a pinch.
In camp I can shave some kindling, cut open a box, tighten some screws, or measure exactly how long athat caterpillar is our kids had found. It's ready for all sorts of jobs!

A Bit of History
Tim Leatherman is the founder of the Leatherman Tool Company. In the 1970's he received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University. After school, Tim's time spent traveling abroad - which included staying at hostels and driving an unreliable Fiat - convinced him of the need for a pliers based, multi-purpose tool. At the time, nothing was available on the market. According to the Leatherman website Tim explains it this way: "I was carrying an old Boy Scout-type knife and used it for everything from slicing bread to making adjustments to the car. But I kept wishing I had a pair of pliers!"  Tim Leatherman, from that one idea developed and created the original multitool.
In 1983 The Leatherman Tool Group officially incorporated in Portland, Oregon. Their product line grew from a few simple, but fundamental principles: manufacture the highest quality products that deliver excellent value to the consumer, while providing good, living-wage jobs to the local Portland workforce. My SideClip is very close in usability and form to the original "Pocket Survival Tool" (PST) made by Tim Leatherman in the early 1980's. My SideClip is very similar in simplicity - with the addition of a clip that lets the tool sit in snugly at the top of my front pant pocket - always at the ready.
Thirty years later the Leatherman company is still crafting their famous multi-tools and are  proud to support U.S. workers who are dedicated to the quality craftsmanship that goes into each of their originally American designed multi-tools.
Though the original PST and my SideClip have been retired, Leatherman still make tools that are of high quality and meet or exceed your needs.The other major plus of owning a Leatherman tool is the 25-year guarantee on all tools - Repaired or replaced - no questions asked, except if the tool has sentimental value. They ask if it has sentimental value so they can return it if they cannot repair for you.
My personal SideClip - about as old as RoadAbode I think
Leatherman Multitools are really made well and last long. It's the first tool I pull out on a lot of small jobs. If my Leatherman can't do it, then it's time to pull out the big toolbox. If you want your own, check some of the models available now from Amazon. The "Wingman" is probably the most economical, and closest to the SideClip they currently have. Leatherman does make a add-on clip so the tool is like my SideClip, but it is only able to be attached to the more pricey  New Wave, Charge Ti and Charge XTi multi-tools.
New Wave Leatherman Tool

Do you have a Leatherman? What have you used it for? If you have another tool that is your "#1" - we'd love to hear about it- Tell us in the comments below!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

A RoadAbode Bucket List: 30 Iconic Parks to Discover on the EAST COAST

30 Parks to Discover on the EAST COAST

Everybody wants to hit the Big Name Iconic State and National Parks. It seems many people's bucket lists always start on the "left coast."  Don't get us wrong, we do enjoy or want to experience the likes of the La Bea Tar Pits, Yellowstone and Redwood National Parks and a slew of others out west. We just strongly feel people should show some love for the City, State and National Parks on the East Coast. From Maine through Florida, there are some awesome opportunities to see the beauty that draws millions from around the world to the United States.

The RoadAbode Crew discussed and decided on our list of the top thirty parks we enjoy or are on our personal "bucket list."  These include some City, County, State and National Parks that RVers should experience located up and down the East Coast. The places we selected offer natural wonders, interesting history, quiet serenity or if your lucky, a bit of all three. Nothing we mention will compare to the jaw dropping beauty or size of the Grand Canyon, but there are definitely some hidden gems that if given the opportunity, should be on your bucket list to visit. In no particular order:
  1. Acadia National Park Bar Harbor, Maine - Hike Cadillac Mountain, indulge in Jordan Pond Popovers, and eat at a lobster pound!
  2. Mount Washington State Park, New Hampshire - The summit of the Northeast's highest peak, surrounded by the extensive 750,000-acre White Mountain National Forest.
  3. Grand Isle State Park, Vermont - The location of South Hero Island on Lake Champlain is a place for quiet serenity.
  4. Cape Cod National Seashore Wellfleet, Massachusetts - Discover wild natural beaches, lighthouses, and wildlife.
  5. Watkins Glen State Park Watkins Glen, New York - Natural gorge carved seemingly artistically by the power of water. 
  6. Island Beach State Park, New Jersey - The largest reserve of undeveloped barrier island in New Jersey
  7. Ricketts Glen State Park Red Rock, Pennsylvania - Hike along over twenty-two beautiful waterfalls.
  8. Hopewell Furnace State Park, Elverson, Pennsylvania - The history of iron in early America. Check out neighboring French Creek State Park for fishing and boating too!
  9. Fairmount Park, Pennsylvania - Woven through the city of Philadelphia, this park  is one of the largest urban park systems in the United States.
  10. Delaware Seashore State Park - Experience miles of ocean and bay shoreline. The park borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and Rehoboth and Indian River Bays to the west. 
  11. Susquhanna State Park, Maryland - Where the powerful Susquehanna river meets the Chesapeake Bay
  12. Cape May Point State Park, New Jersey - A birder's paradise neighboring the iconic Cape May Lighthouse
  13. Assateague Island National Seashore - Catch sight of two herds of wild horses which make their home on Assateague Island, while still being close to a hip, cool seacoast town.
  14. Historic Jamestowne - Where John Smith first landed, and currently an active archaeological dig site.
  15. Shenandoah, Virginia - Features Skyline Drive and over 200,000 acres of protected lands.
  16. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, West Virginia - Eleven mile long heritage railroad nestled in the mountains of West Virginia.
  17. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky - The longest mapped cave system in the world..
  18. Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Kentucky
  19. Carolina Beach State Park, North Carolina - Known for opportunities to observe carnivorous plants
  20. Fort Fisher Recreational Area, North Carolina - Remote beaches and site of a historical naval engagement during the American Civil War, this park is also an important nesting ground for sea turtles.
  21. Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina - One of the best preserved examples of South Carolina's natural coast.
  22. Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia - While best known for the 12,000-acre Allatoona Lake, this state park is also a hiker’s haven.
  23. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and North Carolina - Running the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, this  homeland of the Cherokees offers fantastic hiking and a historical glimpse into the way of life of old-time southern Appalachia.
  24. Fall Creek State Park, Tennessee - Fall Creek Falls, at 256 feet, is one of the highest waterfalls in the Eastern United States.
  25. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Fla - Watch the live mermaid show, but be taken by the natural beauty found within this park.
  26. Jockey's Ridge State Park, North Carolina. - Discover the tallest sand dune on the Atlantic coast; and enjoy spectacular sunsets.
  27. High Bridge Trail State Park, Virgina - Rail trail that includes the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and among the longest in the United States.
  28. Biscayne National Park, Florida - Ninety-five percent of the park is water, and the bay shores are the location of an extensive mangrove forest. 172,971 acres includes the first of the true Florida Keys.
  29. Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, Florida - Home to the Fountain of Youth, 14 million gallons of pure water emerges daily from the Ponce de Leon Spring.
  30. Florida Caverns State Park, Florida - Only state park in Florida to offer cave tours to the public.
Did we miss your favorite East Coast Park? Know something cool about one we did mention? Share your favorites and what makes them unique in the comments section below!