Tuesday, June 30, 2015

RoadAbodode's June RoadTrip

This June for our annual "Afterschool RoadTrip" we ventured to parts familiar to us, and beautiful interesting new territory. The landscapes and surrounding areas of each were relaxing as we would like, but still offered more activities to take part in that we could possibly do in our week away. Since part of the fun of having a motorhome is travelling, we stayed part of our time in the woodlands of South-Central PA, then moved on to our first stay in the First state - Delaware.
Panorama of our Jonestown KOA Campsite next to the Swatara Creek

First Leg of RoadAbode's June Trip

We need to store RoadAbode outside the city. This slightly limits what the girls can pack - which I believe is a good thing. We pack up our tiny Honda Fit coupe with the possessions needed for the week, and head to RoadAbode's home at the storage yard. Once there, we all pitch in to more the load. We also prep the Honda Fit with tow lights, as we use it as our "toad" - pulled  behind RoadAbode with a tow bar. The Fit is the second car we've had a tow bar setup installed on, and makes as a perfect little car to explore wherever we are.. We pull RoadAbode out of her spot, pull the Honda Fit behind, and connect the car to the tow bar. Our eldest daugher has been helping connect up for years now, and knows the process. Amy does the drivetrain process - each car that is towable has a specific way to shift gears and get ready for towing. Finally we check each other and  are on our way!
It helps that we have four android phones with us. We have some favorite Apps we use. My smartphone is used as our GPS using Google Maps. (we still consult a printed map as well from time to time, or utilize campground directions) Amy's is used to scout out eateries, grocery stores or gas stations along our route. Hers is also used as our main phone if we want to contact the campground or anyone else during our drive. The other two switch off between listening to music, or consulting the Internet for interesting things to do at our destination or sights as we travel. And yes, sometimes the girls will ignore us up in the cab for a while and just use their smartphone to read or play a game, especially on longer trips.
I forgot to mention Molly, our Lhasa Poo pup. She can be found either sitting on Moms lap, on the couch with one of the girls, or way in the back snoozing on our bed. She really enjoys the RVing life!
On this trip our first destination was only two and a half hours away. We arrived at Jonestown KOA about an hour before check in, but they were gracious enough to check that our site was ready, and one of the young ladies escorted us to our site. There was a car parked not in our site, but close in front of it, making it difficult to pull in. The KOA staff right away checked with campers in the area, and quickly figured out it was a guest of someone staying at a Kabin close by. (They were having a birthday celebration for a child there) What some would have found aggravating turned out pretty nice, because it gave us a chance to meet the neighbors and find out how the weather's been, and where they were from.
Our site was perfectly level, so we connected the essentials of water, electric and cable, then set out to get Barbeque! Within a 15 or 20 minute drive of the KOA sits a building that looks more like a feed store than a place to get good eats Shakedown Barbeque. is located on firehouse lane, which is a small winding farmers road off the beaten track in the middle of cornfields. Inside this establishment you find some of the best pork, brisket and chicken barbque you can have. Sit inside, outside, or take with - you will not be disappointed. Large portions of flavorful meat - with delicious sides. They also occasionally have live music to enjoy outside.
Reconnecting at waters edge

After getting our fill of pork and brisket, we headed back to RoadAbode. Normally we'd wade the creek looking for crawdads, fish or other creatures but because of recent storms, the waters of the Swatara were too deep and swift. Our plans for tubing or canoeing right from our site would have to happen another time. We sat a bit outside watch the waters, relaxing, reading and reconnecting. It's one of the joys of RVing together as a family.. As the day turned to twilight, we decided to play a game of monopoly. It's fun to be a little competitive, and maybe even chat a bit how just life - like monopoly - isn't always fair, but we can still help one another out. After an enjoyable competitive game, we watched a little cable, did a little reading, and headed off to bed.
Dogs are probably more excited about camping than we realize. Monday - At the crack of dawn, Molly was waking me up to go out and explore. New sights and especially new smells were waiting for her to check out. And there are chipmunks and squirrels to chase after! I enjoy our walks as well. There are usually a few other early rising dog owners to say hello to, and sometimes we get surprised by seeing a doe or groundhog along the way. Additionally, since we are on vacation, I really dont want to waste too many moments laying in bed!  Once Molly had sniffed and marked new territory, we headed back to RoadAbode for her breakfast, and my first coffee of the day.  Remoting into work to check server processes was next on the agenda.
Once everyone was up we start planning the day. Since playing on the rain swollen Swatara was off the menu of activities, the girls decided to do one of their favorite past-times - thrifting. I enjoy hunting out a good bargain too, so finding some  places to stop was as easy as asking "OK Google, show me thrift shops" We found a line of them on Route 422 in the nearby county of Lebanon.  First thing is breakfast - and as a treat we head first to The Farmer's Wife Family restaurant in Ono, down the road from the KOA on Route 72 about 20 minutes. Great meal, quick service and not expensive. Having some plate-size pancakes with farm fresh sausage and eggs was perfect for a vacation treat! The girls thrifting finds included dresses with hoop underskirt (different stores) they will use as costumes for our church's Vacation Bible School, and Amy found a new Vera Bradley purse for $12 (apparently that's good)
PA National Guard Museum Exhibits
Back at RoadAbode, lunch was a healthy salad since we were still pretty full from breakfast. In the afternoon, we took a short ride over to Fort Indiantown Gap. Though the National Guard Museum was already closed, we still enjoyed looking at the aircraft, tanks and memorials relating military history. Back at RoadAbode, our day progressed with lots of lounging, reading, or relaxing watching TV at our campsite till evening. A few games of cards were in order to close out the night.
On Tuesday, since the creek was still relatively high and murky, we decided if we wanted to do any boating, Memorial Lake State Park in the middle of the Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard training area was our best bet. We took the the short ride over, only to find out that boat rentals are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. We still enjoyed a short hike around the lake, but no boating this RVing trip out! We had some brats grilled over the fire for our evening meal, and enjoyed a game of clue for our the night's entertainment.
Memorial Lake State Park Boat Launch

Second Leg of RoadAbode's June Trip

After a relaxing few days at Jonestown KOA, it was time for a change of venue! Wednesday was our pack up and travel day. We've never stayed in the state of Delaware before, so we let Google map our drive down to our next stop - Delaware Seashore State Park. We stayed in the new North Inlet Campground  Here is a Photosphere of our Campsite. You can drag the photo around with your cursor for a 360 view of our campsite.

Most people call the bridge by the campground the Indian River Inlet Bridge. It's given name is the Charles Cullen Bridge, after a state highway commissioner of the 1930s . This beautiful cable bridge was built in 2012 and replaced a string of wooden and girder steel beam bridges.  Check this link to learn the history of the bridges that spanned the inlet in this location over the years.

After setting up RoadAbode in our campsite facing the bay, we jumped in the car and took a ride to check out the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk. Parking in Rehoboth is all metered, and open parking was hard to come by. We lucked out and found a spot only a block away from the southern end of the boardwalk. The boardwalk is one mile long, quite short compared to the Atlantic City (4 miles) and Wildwood (2 miles) boardwalks we grew up on. It still has all the excitement of "Jersey Shore" boardwalk, just in a more family friendly "fun size".  Being a bit hungry, one thing we had to try were the famous Thrashers Boardwalk fries. Hot authentic boardwalk French fries were a great treat as we wandered up the boardwalk and poked our head in a few of the shops. Amy saw a funnel cake stand and decided to partake of one of her favorite desserts. If you've never had this concoction, it's simply a cake batter drizzled by a funnel (hence the name) in a rotating pattern onto boiling oil, and flash fried. The crispy yet doughy mess is then lifted, drained and placed on a paper plate and liberally coated with powder sugar. There are versions that include chocolate, whipped cream and fruits - but my wife is a woman with simple tastes :-)
While waiting for us to pickup Amy's order, the girls sat and people watched from a nearby bench. They also looked onto the dunes, and found a tiny bunny nibbling on the sandy. Never though of rabbits living on the beach! After the bunny sighting, we headed back to our Honda Fit, (meter almost out) and out of Rehoboth beach, back to our North Inlet Campsite.
The sky as the sun was setting looked like it was on fire from our campsite, and the bridge light in blue gave this spot an almost patriotic feel. Great end to the day.
Sun Setting over the North Inlet Campground of Delaware Seashore State Park
Indian River Inlet Bridge at Night
The sun is up early here! Guess it should be, since we are right by the Atlantic Ocean. For a June trip, this probably was the most drastic environment change we've experienced. From stream and woodlands to a ocean beach spot with no mature trees at all in one day.
Molly was ready to walk before 6am, and with the sun already up, so was I . This new campground is aligned between the bridge and the US Coast Guard station. There is also a public access parking lot directly next to the bridge. All the roadways are black macadam, and the walkways white cement. As we walked around the campground, there were only one or two campsites that those residing there felt needed leveling blocks or jacks. When we set up, we basically pulled in, checked the level, and then setup. Besides being well laid out, this campground also has very nice shower facilities, and even a great laundry room with large washers and dryers. Include that we have full electric, water and sewer hookups, and this is probably the nicest and well equipped state park we have enjoyed camping.
Down past the campground if you continue walking the inlet road is the marina and Hammerheads Restaurant. Plenty for Molly to sniff on her morning walk!
Today we stayed mostly close to camp. The girls headed to the beach, while I stayed back with Molly and enjoyed just watching the people and boats on the Inlet, and some light reading.
Claire and Sophie of "ComedySportz World Tour"

On one of Molly's walks we noticed a Class C motorhome with "Comedy Sportz World Tour" emblazoned on the side and back. A quick Google search and we found the story of Claire and her pup Sophie. So Amy and I wandered over, and interrupted Clair relaxing and reading a book outside her RV. Seems Claire had a great idea as an office dweller for Comedy Sportz - which is an improv group with locations in major cities through North America. She pitched a travel and marketing campaign - via a motorhome. She got the go ahead!
You can follow Claire, Sophie and their travelling comic companions as they criss-cross the country to visit and work with other comedians. Check out ComedySportz here.
Back at RoadAbode, though we all did snack as the day went on, we decided to head out for an early dinner. Using a Google Maps search for restaurants close to us, we found the highly rated Nalu in Dewey Beach. We piled in the car and headed over.
Tiger Shark hanging from the ceiling of Nalu
Only a 10 minute drive from the campground, Nalu is a Hawaiian surfer themed bar and grille. With open swing-out windows, palm trees, totem poles, tiki bar, and huge Tiger Shark hanging from the ceiling, we had the feeling we were sitting at an outdoor luau. The decor, may be over the top, but really put us in an island frame of mind. If you ever get the chance to head there, make sure to try the HUGH Nachos, and a plate of bacon wrapped pineapple. Plenty of tasty choices on the menu, many with a Hawaiian twist!
After being thrilled with our dining find and filled with a tasty mix of seafood, pork and more, we headed back to camp. There were a few excited people pointing and taking pictures as we were about to enter RoadAbode. A pod of dolphins were swimming up into the bay! It was so cool to see dolphins - right from our picnic bench! Did not get good pictures, but you can see the dolphins a bit in this video.
To end the day on a literal high note, the Park staff had scheduled a musician to play in the pavilion leading to the beach. As the sun set, a mix of laid back beach and old rock ballads drifted through the campground. After the music, everyone was invited for a beach campfire featuring toasted marshmallows. Great way to bring a close to the evening!
Since Friday was predicted to be wet, we planned a few inside activities in Rehoboth Beach. Traffic was crawling through Dewey and Rehoboth. Looked like day trippers and weekenders were clogging the roads. We stopped at the Fractured Prune for a breakfast of doughnuts. Their specialty is made to order hot donuts. Unique flavor creations abound, with combinations of sprinkles, toppings and glazes to make your own taste sensation. I went with a staff favorite - Maple glaze with cinnamon sugar named a French Toast doughnut. The girls went with a mint chocolate chip concoction, and a berry mix of some sort. We all enjoyed our sweet treats!
Our main stop was to the Nassau Valley Vineyards. Beautiful grounds with well kept colonial buildings, the Winery was quite busy readying for an afternoon wedding and serving other tastings. We opted for a self guided tour, showcasing the history of wine-making more than the winery itself. Once we were able to get a tasting (requiring an additional wait after our tour) we tried a few wines on the sweet end of the spectrum. We did end up with a bottle of True Blue Blueberry and Peach Ambrosia - more for the novelty than because of the taste. The True Blue is produced from 100% locally grown blueberries. Still was fun to try some different vintages, and enjoy a short walk through the art gallery and grounds. The girls day seemed to be made more by meeting the vintner, who was a surprisingly young muscular surfer type that seemed to catch all the female eyes in the room. The young man being just a bit shy when introduced by the ladies who led our tastings seemed to make him even more interesting.
We decided to stop for some "touristy shopping" as we headed back to RoadAbode. One place that caught the girl's eyes was The Sea Shell Shop. Connected to a mini golf course and ice cream parlor, the store seemed to have the trifecta of tourist traps rolled into one. Filled with all things nautically inspired, the girls found some trinkets to keep for themselves and for a few friends back home. I did well with my new motto "simplify." I don't need more clutter, though some of the items available were pretty.
For our last full day enjoying the North Inlet at Delaware Seashore State Park, Amy baked a light breakfast of homemade buttery croissant rolls, which we devoured while watching the boats entering and leaving the Inlet. After cleaning up, we headed out to find out what the Mid Atlantic Sea Glass & Coastal Arts Festival was about. We learned that collecting sea glass, much like collecting gemstones, is become a "thing." People look for certain colors, shapes and love the jewelry and mosaics created with the glass. If the glass can be authenticated as from a certain age bottle, or from a period type of glass - it has more value. The items we saw were beautiful, even while walking among the booths in a slight drizzle. There were plenty of other artisans there with paintings, carvings and various interesting artwork - all ocean and beach themed. Add that they had some food and a live steel drum musician, and it was a downright good time.,  The girls picked up some seaglass to remember the trip, and a few other items. After, we walked and perused some of the stores on nearby 2nd street.
Some Island sounds during the Sea Glass Festival

The rest of our day we just enjoyed lounging at RoadAbode reading and enjoying our campsite by the sea.

Sunday was our reluctant pack-up day, and we left at 11:55 am - right before our Noon checkout. We were not in a hurry to leave! I was surprised the traffic was not heavier on the way through Dewey and Rehoboth Beach. In face, we kept moving pretty well until we were at the Pennsylvania border. If this had been coming from the New Jersey Shore, we would have been in bumper to bumper traffic for over four hours all the way home! We made the trip back to storage in a little over 2 and half hours.

We really enjoyed this year's trip, even though we were no more than 3 hours away from our home in Philadelphia. We had a nice mix of things we'd enjoyed before, and some new places to discover. We definitely recommend both Jonestown KOA and The North Inlet Campground at Delaware Seashore State Park. If you've been to these places, we'd love to hear what you enjoyed - or didn't - in these places. Hope to see you down the road! Happy Travels!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Relaxing at Jonestown KOA

Our Campsite along the Swatara Creek at Jonestown KOA
We've stayed a few times at this campground, before it was even a part of the KOA network. At our first visit it was still named Lickdale Campground. We discovered the park by talking to the owner at an RV show in Oaks, PA - outside of Philadelphia. The conversation was friendly, and the park sounded like our type of campground. Plus, we had not camped in the area before so soon after arriving back home we booked a stay. We're glad we did!

Jonestown KOA is near the juncture of I-78 and I-81 in  Southern-Central Pennsylvania. Being within a mile or so of the interstate seems to make the campground a great stop-over point for travelers heading toward northern or southern destinations. From the brief conversations we've had with other RVers - and the license plates on the motorhomes, trailers and fifth-wheels we see - there are plenty that make this a regular stopping point while passing through Pennsylvania. There are even special, easy access & pull-through campsites for these come-n-go RVers.

The camp store is what you want a camp store to be! in fact, the locals use it as their "go to" convenience stores. The store, which is also the camp office, has frontage on Lickdale Road where it intersects with State route 72, making it truly convenient in and out. The store does not stock just your essential camping items, but has a full deli, Ice cream shop and even tasty broasted chicken - that can be delivered right to your campsite!
To top off the activities at Jonestown KOA, they also sell tickets for, and will shuttle your family to, Hersheypark.
The amenities and location of Jonestown KOA are all great, but what draws us to this campground are its camping spots directly next to the Swatara creek.
Swatara Creek & the Lickdale Bridge
Each camp pad along the creek has a concrete patio, with steps leading down the bank to the the water's edge.  There are plenty of Sweetgum, Oak and Maples to shade your site. Depending on the height of the creek from current rainfall, you  can sometimes wade in, or just fish from your campsite. The campground also rents tubes, kayaks and canoes. They will shuttle you to a entry point upstream to start your journey. Nothing like floating on the water and being able to beach your craft at your own campsite!

If you want to go check out local cuisine, there are plenty of great small restaurants to partake within a twenty minute drive or less. We have two favorites:
Shakedown Barbeque is located on a little windy farmers path called Firehouse Road and may look like a feed store from the outside. But inside you'll find the awesome mouthwatering goodness that only excellent Barbeque can provide. The portions are big enough to share, or take home some to enjoy later at your campsite. Whether Pork, Brisket or Chicken, don't forget to get a side of crispy, seasoned fries with your order. If you are wondering what to wear, go comfortable. We've seen everything from biker leathers to dads in polo shirts. Everybody seems happy because they are eating tasty BBQ and enjoying the eclectic mix of blues music and the Shakedown's cordial staff..\
Menu Board from Shakedown Barbeque

Farmer's Wife Family Restaurant (no website) in Ono,PA  is a no nonsense eatery. We've enjoyed great breakfasts, lunches and dinners there. The menu is stuffed with variety, and the prices are very reasonable.

Things to do in the area besides HersheyPark include Indian Echo Caverns, Linda's Speedway (Where Jonestown KOA sponsors a driver) Swatara and Memorial Lake State Parks, and the National Guard Museum Aircraft and tank displays. You may even see the National Guard doing practice maneuvers.
We highly recommend Jonestown KOA as a great base for checking out Central Pennsylvania!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

RoadAbode's New Roof - One Week Later

Wanted to give an update a week after our application of Liquid RV Roof. Our aches and pains are just about subsided. The roof is nicely sealed and bonded to the old roof.
Take a look at some before and after shots - my apologies for not getting the exact same angles on these before and after photos
Before Cleaning the Roof
This shot above was while taking off our MaxxAir Covers. You can see the gray or ashen color of the roof. It didn't have cracks or rips, but it felt thin and chalky when you ran your hand over it.
Day After Applying Liquid Roof
The picture above shows how the roof looked the day after application. The roof is smoother and shiny now. Notice there are what look like wrinkles or bubbles on the new roof. The week after when we visited to put the Maxx-Air Vent covers back on - they were almost all gone. According to our reading this is a normal occurrence when applying Liquid Roof. I did find a small bubble while Amy was putting the vent covers on, and decided to gently press it down - as Amy scolded me for doing so. It went down and stayed down and seemed pretty solid. Pretty confident the roof will be holding up well.
Oh yeah - that black thing you see in almost the middle of the photo? A grasshopper or locust decided to get stuck. 
A Grasshopper or Locust - Now Gone
The bug pretty much fell apart a week later. 
As Amy put the vent covers back on, we noticed we can still smell the roof (it has a particular "new rubber" smell), so it is still curing.

Toward the back - a Week Later
I took another photo as Amy was working on the MaxX-Air covers. You can see there are no bubbles now in the new roof, so the roof seems to be adhering to the old material  well - as we had read it would, and had hoped.
Roof Edge and look - no bubbles!

The only area I am not satisfied with is a section along the driver side edge of the roof. Really nothing wrong with it - except I can see some of the old roof right on the edge. This might be because we pulled the painters tape off early. Later in the camping season I'm considering using some dicor lap sealant along that edge just to make sure we are sealing the old roof material as best as we possibly can. 

Any questions or comments, let us know! Safe Travels - hope to see you camping or on the road!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

RoadAbode ~ Coating with Liquid RV Roof ~ Learn from our Mistakes!

Coating with EPDM Liquid RV Roof
In retrospect, this ended up being one of the toughest jobs (physically) we've done so far on RoadAbode.

We've done plenty of different upgrade, maintenance and repair jobs on RoadAbode. From repairing our entry steps to updating our couch and dinette seating areas and fixing small section of delamination. On all these jobs we research, read, ask questions and finally undertake the project. Most times it comes out pretty much how we envisioned, or even better!. Our recent project undertaken - removing our cracking decal stripe went so well that perhaps when tackling this latest project one week later, I was a bit too confident in our abilities to recoating the entire roof the way we did.
The recoating was a success, and RoadAbode's roof is completely recovered and looks great. We got the job done and are glad we were able to finish. If you would have asked us how the job was doing halfway through, we might have not been so positive. Below, we hope we can be informative and help if you decide to undertake this job. We'll be posting what EPDM is, what tools we used, the actual work,  what we think we did right, and what we could have possibly done better.

What's EPDM and Liquid Roof?

RV roofs are usually covered by either fiberglass, or a EPDM rubber membrane, which is what RoadAbode's roof is made from. EPDM is used for buildings with flat roofs, in the automotive industry for door seals, for pond or pool liners, and of course, RV Roofs. It's perfect for RV roofs because of it's elasticity in cold and hot temperatures, and it's durability against UV rays. If we would have used EPDM sheet material, we would have had to remove the old membrane, all the vent covers and air conditioner, and re-glue the new material back on. For us, that would have been a near impossible task - without having multiple days and a dry place to store in between
The product we used is Liquid Roof by EPDM Coatings Inc. Liquid Roof is made specifically for RVs, and  is true EPDM rubber, and is the only one sold in liquid form. It makes installations easy. It can be described as a liquid version of single-ply EPDM membrane sheet product. When sold, it includes a catalyst additive in a separate bottle that must be mixed with the the liquid EPDM. Once mixed, the material will bond chemically to the old roof material. When cured, it is all one piece.
Tools used to Apply EPDM Liquid RV Roof
Tools used to apply EPDM Liquid RV Roof

The Tools

For a month before, I researched, bought and made sure we had the tools needed for the job. I knew that some of the tools would be used once - cleaning liquid rubber out of the roller cover or brush did not seem worth the time, or doable after. We had paint rollers, we just needed to get covers that had a short nap. We didn't want the rollers to hold the Liquid Roof as much as push it into place. I purchased the least expensive brushes possible - but wide. These were great for getting under the air conditioner (something we were not moving) and for cutting in along the vents and edges of RoadAbode's roof. I also purchased painter's tape for around the edge, to prevent dripping on the sides. The tape we used was 2 inches wide. Dripping didn't present too much of a problem because the Liquid Roof product is so thick. Still glad we protected the sidewalls. One tool that is very important and did not have was a drill driven five gallon paint mixer. This made sure the catalyst was thoroughly mixed with the Liquid Roof. To complete my "roofing" tools I also used RoadAbode's extendable ladder, a five foot folding ladder, tarp to work on while mixing or pouring the product, and the five gallon bucket full of EPDM Liquid RV Roof.
Before we could start laying down Liquid RV Roof, we had to make sure it was clean. To do that we used a  hot water and light bleach mixture, a mop, and a soft-bristled brush (one that we use for our car wheels worked nice)
Tools are together - time to get started!
Time Lapse of washing the roof and rest of RoadAbode

The Work

Cleaning the Roof We started gathering tools at 7:30am, and by 8am were getting on the roof. Amy first removed our MaxxAir vent covers so she could could clean well and access underneath them. To remove them, we first started with a ratchet, but found my drill was not much noisier for our neighbors at 8am, and was much quicker.
Removing MaxxAir Vent Covers
Removing the MaxxAir Vent covers
Washing was accomplished with a mop, two gallon bucket and a few capfuls of bleach. In past years when we clean RoadAbode's roof we did the same, and it works well for us. For stubborn stains or grimey areas, we used a soft bristle brush to help move the dirt along. As Amy washed, she inspected the sealant around vents, TV antenna and any other cutouts on the roof. RoadAbode is stored near a quarry, so we washed the roof well three times, and between each wash, rinsed with plenty of water from our hose with spray nozzle. As Amy was washing the roof, I was washing and cleaning RoadAbode's sides, plus front and back cap.I washed with a regular car wash liquid and an extended handle brush. I used a black streak remover on stubborn spots with a rag.  After Amy was done washing the roof, I did one more wash of RoadAbode for any residual roof stuff, and then we let her dry in the sun. We were now at Noon.

Mixing Liquid Roof
Mixing Liquid RV Roof
Prepping for Liquid RV Roof Application After a 30 to 40 minute drying period (the sun was beating down that day!) we started taping out with the painters tape around RoadAbode's front and rear cap, and sides. We wanted to keep the Liquid Roof  off the sides and on the roof! We used Two inch wide painters tape, which was easy to work with. We used part of one roll (we had purchased two) As Amy finished taping I opened up our tarp, put together our drill & paint mixing bit and started to open the can of Liquid RV Roof. The top is metal, and clamped tight. I had to use my pliers to grab each metal tab and pry the tabs up. It took a few tries to figure out the best way to quickly grasp and pull each tab. Once open, inside the can was a separate section with a bottle of catalyst placed inside. Pulling up the plastic section liner revealed the Liquid Roof product.
Since Amy finished with taping, I recruited her to pour the catalyst in while I started the paint mixing. With the vortex of paint moving, she poured it right down the middle as I mixed. The catalyst has a slight purple hue that quickly gets lost in the white of the Liquid Roof. How long to mix? Depends on what you read. The top of the can said two to three minutes. The label on the catalyst did not list a time. The online instructions said ten minutes. I made sure to use up and down strokes and move around the sides to get everything evenly mixed well. I stopped after eight minutes.
Time to apply our new roof!

Applying Liquid RV Roof Carrying a fifty pound bucket of goo was not on either of our agendas in the heat, so we opted to sacrifice a dollar store beach pail to carry up the ladder. We just used a throwaway larger plastic cup to dip-n-pour from the larger container to the smaller. This worked pretty well with the Liquid Roof, which has a consistency of warm marshmallow fluff.First portion of the job was cutting in around the vents and edges of the roof. This took longer than I expected, and the now mid-day heat did not help to speed up the process. Cutting in was done using two and thre in wide brushes. We also removed the top of the Refrigerator vent to more easily paint Liquid Roof around it. As Amy continued working around the vents and sides, I put away any tools or items we were done using. Amy took a much needed water break and rested inside to recoup from the heat. I did as well. After our fifteen minute break we resumed with coating the roof. Amy was able to work more quickly with the roller, but we found the cover kept slipping off. We exchanged  the roller with one that fit tighter and less issue. Amy worked From front, down the driver side, to the back, and finished on the passenger side.
She was exhausted, and needed to lay down to recoup this time. It's then when I realized we still had lots of Liquid Roof left. After about 40 minutes, she felt well enough to had up small buckets to me as I poured more material on the expanse of the roof, and spread with the roller. It was slow going and hard to do leaning over from the side of RoadAbode, but I was able to do. It was not the preferable method, but did get the job done. We went through lots of gloves and had to start using some backup "food service" gloves that ripped more easily, and tended to slow me down.
Once we used most of the Liquid Roof, we started cleaning up. With my rush to finish using the product, I did get a good bit on the ladder which needed to be cleaned off.

Our Finished Roof (Air conditioner you see is our neighbors)

The Finished Project

Though it was a tough job, we love the results! The next day we took RoadAbode back to where we store her, and will be putting our MaxxAir vent covers back on later in the week. We did see some bubbling, but expect these to go down as the product cures per others experience.  RoadAbode has been with us for over ten years, so this project was needed.

What We Did Right

Looking back at doing this project, there are the areas we think we did well.
Protected our Skin with Sunscreen and Gloves - It was a very sunny day, so we made sure to use sunscreen. Even cloudy days you need to protect if you will be in the sun as long as we were. We wore throwaway vinyl gloves - they kept our hands clean as we handled the brushes roller and buckets used with the Liquid Roof. We went through quite a few pairs.
Stayed Hydrated - We made sure to drink plenty of water. Even more so because the day was hotter than expected, we tried to get into the shade and drink every 30 minutes or so. Amy ignored that a bit and we could see that her recoup time was not worth it. Plus who likes feeling queasy when trying to finish a job? Hydrate - and take breaks if you are in hot weather - and full sun.
Collected our Tools - Before we began, we made sure to have our tools at the ready. There was less hunting around, and more "grab and go" to get this project finished.
Used a Tarp - We used an inexpensive tarp. No matter how careful, some of the material ended up on the tarp. We did our mixing and pouring from the large five gallon to our smaller pail over the tarp. It also gave us a place to lay our brush and roller when we took a water break. Afterward, anything that we were not saving (and we did not try to clean the brushes or roller at all) was put into the empty can of Liquid Roof, or into the tarp and disposed of. I could imagine how much more work it would have been trying to remove solidified Liquid Roof from our sidewalk.
Started Early - We started gathering tools and readying our work area at 7:15am. Between washing the roof three times, and RoadAbode's sides twice, then letting dry, applying material to the final cleanup, we worked for a good nine to ten hours.
Washed/scrubbed the roof well - We wanted to make sure the Liquid Roof adhered well to the existing roof, so we washed with a bleach and water (mostly water) solution three times and rinsed between each wash thoroughly. We used a combination of a household strip mop and a soft bristle brush to remove anything loose, and make sure the roof was clean. We have washed the roof before, but probably never this well.
Rinsed Well - Rinsing with a strong jet (but not a power washer) is important. The spray left the existing roof material that was in good condition alone, but removed and washed away the dirt. I've seen videos where the white material was stripped from the black EPDM completely with a pressure washer, this is not what we wanted to accomplish. Ours old roof was still adhering well, and we want to the new material to bond to and build up onto what was existing.
Taped out the Edges - After the Roof was clean, and had dried completely, we taped the edges. Liquid Roof is pretty thick, but just in case we pushed to far to the edge, it gave us a line of protection all the way around RoadAbode. If it had dripped down her sides, it would have been another mess to have to clean up!
Read the Instructions - We read the instructions, but I think that some information on the website, and the PDF instructions linked via our email receipt may be contrary to one another. In the very least some measurements are off, or terms interchanged. We should have also read the Q&A facts on the website, which would had cleared up some of our questions like how long to cure, and how thick a layer we can put down. It's not brain surgery, but having more information would have helped.

What We Could Have Done Better or Differently

After all the sweat, sore muscles (and almost tears) these are the things we would do - differently.
Worked in the Shade - If we had the room, or place to park her it would have been better for us to work in the shade. The sun really took it's toll on us as we worked throughout the day. Maybe an overcast day or less heat would have sufficed and kept us happier campers.
Wore Sunglasses - We experienced the same problem as snow blindness - when you've been out playing in or shoveling snow too long on a bright day. Go back inside and everything looks dark, and the lights have a pink hue! Because the roof is white (once clean) and the product is bright white, it was disorienting when coming off the roof and going in the house to grab a drink or rest in the shade. Sunglasses would have helped.
Use a Rubber Squeegee - to spread out the material moving the material is more like spreading marshmallow fluff than paint. I had seen recommendations to use a squeegee, I just did not heed them. I should have.
Kept Better Track of  Product Usage - This was probably our biggest issue and what extended our day so long. Amy was doing the bulk of the roof work. She's great at painting walls at home because she gets the paint spread well and doesn't over use. The exact opposite idea should be used with Liquid Roof, and I didn't emphasize that idea to her enough. When she had coated the roof and though she was finished - there were still more than two gallons left in the five gallon bucket! We spread too thin!. She was exhausted, and we could now not  walk on the roof to apply. So I stood on our ladder reached over, and poured the product on in sections, rolling over what she had already laid down. Fortunately, it still did not have a skin formed from drying yet, so as I applied and spread over the roof with the roller, the product leveled itself out onto the roof. In our rush to get the rest of the product on the roof, I ended up getting some on our ladder (which we use for RoadAbode's front bunk) on the pole for the roller, making it difficult to control and on me. So cleanup just took longer, and seemed more difficult since we were already hot, and tired. We did pretty good at keeping our emotions in check - and got through the issue. According to my reading afterword, "You can apply too little, but not too much". Just increases curing time. Lesson learned and noted.
Leave the Painters Tape on Longer - I did not find till after in reading how long to keep the painters tape on the sides of RoadAbode. We pulled off after we had cleaned up. We were worried that the Liquid Roof would adhere too tightly to the tape. Later reading we did on the EPDM website stated to leave on till the next day.
Do the Project Over Two Days. I read thisc idea on the EPDM website the night we were done. Since you only have 4 hours to work once the Liquid Roof can is opened and mixed, we could have purchased and opened  a separate gallon first - to do the cut ins. Then next day roll and squeegee the five gallons on the roof. This idea would have cut the project into more manageable parts for our achy muscles.
Read the Q&A on EPDM Coatings Website - The Instruction PDF we got via email from the company is not very concise. The Q&A area of the website answers questions I didn't even know I had. I think some of how we would have done the project would had changed had we read these first.

Follow the link more information on Liquid RV Roof - Remember to check their Q&A section.

We'd love to hear from you - have you done this project? How'd it work for you? Did you do anything differently that we did? If you have questions, tips or comments leave  them below.

Monday, June 08, 2015

RoadAbode - Removing Old Decals

As a family living the "Weekender" RVing Lifestyle, though we want to go and play as many weekends in our RV as possible, some we have to stay put and do the maintaining of our home away from home. We've noticed that over the past ten years the top stripe decal on RoadAbode has become very worn looking. Faded and cracked, it really takes away from how the rest of RoadAbode's exterior looks. The other decals are in good condition, and have few crazing marks or dullness. We decided that for this season removing the stripe would be the best option. We can decide later if we want to replace it, do a different type decal, or leave the area blank.
Over the winter I had done plenty of research, both on RV forums and various blogs and YouTube Channels. There were plenty of people with opinions how to remove the decals. Using a heat gun. Using WD-40 to soak the decal. Using turpentine to rub on the decal. Using a scraper after soaking and rubbing..  The best information - both concise and with tips on "what they'd do differently," came from a video posted by full timers Laura and Sasha. Though they were removing all the decals from their fifth-wheel, the information they shared still made the process completed on RoadAbode much easier. I modified my process compared to how Laura and Sasha worked slightly.

Gathering the Tools.

The eraser wheels Sasha used were by 3M. Each wheel cost between $25 and $30 dollars. In part of the video, Sasha mentioned that he had seen a less expensive, off brand wheel online that might have done the job just as well. A quick search on Amazon and I found the wheels he meant - six eraser wheels including a drill adapter for $50 including shipping. I ordered a set.
Packaging of an eraser wheel
The next great tip Sasha mentioned was to use an electric, plugged in drill for doing the majority of the work with the eraser wheel. The constant running of the drill at high speed just wore out the batteries too quickly on the cordless he had. 
Old reliable. Probably twenty or more years old
I had an old Craftsman power drill that was up to the challenge. One thing that concerned me but was unfounded was the bit that screwed into the back of the eraser wheels was fairly smooth where the drill chuck gripped it. It never was an issue.
WD-40 and Goo-Gone Didn't need 'em
I also brought along WD-40 and Goo-Gone Cleaner. Neither was needed. The only other tools I used were some rags to dust off the "eraser shavings" from the sidewalls and my five foot ladder from home. RoadAbode's extendable ladder leaned against RoadAbode would have worked, but I would have been working more closely to the sidewall, with less room.

Safety First!

Before I forget, I did use safety goggles to keep the eraser shavings out of my eyes, and a pair of leather work gloves I use on jobs like this because I always forget and grab the drill too close to the chuck. On Sasha's suggestion, I wore my oldest jeans and workshirt - and glad I did. It wasn't all that "dirty" but a combination of rubbery grit and dust. By the time I was done I felt like a whole elementary school had saved up all the eraser shavings from a years worth of figuring out math problems and dumped it on me. I was thankful I wore a long sleeve shirt - it kept a good bit of the stuff away from my skin. I even wore some older (but sturdy) boots I had at home. One think I could have used was maybe a dust mask to filter some of the shavings. It wasn't really fine dust, but pretty sure I'll be blowing my nose to get eraser stuff out for a few more days.

The Actual Work

Removing the stripe was not as bad as expected. I thought that it would take two or more full days to get the job done. I expected little bits and pieces of the decal to stubbornly stick on, but there was no issue. The stripe on both sides and back of RoadAbode came off in about four hours. I wasn't rushing and took my share of water breaks too.
 I noticed that when I first started using the wheel some of the color of the stripe would get smeared and be difficult to remove. It seemed to be from a coating on the wheel itself, perhaps to seal the rubber wheel and give it a longer shelf life. Once that was gone, the stripe really just started disappearing. I tried to keep the whole edge of the wheel evenly against the side of RoadAbode. I remembered that Sasha had problems keeping the wheel wearing evenly. I had finished one side and was half way through the second when the drill was getting really hard to control. The Wheel was out of round. Rather than get hurt trying to work with the half used eraser, I switched it out. Made the work go way easier - and quicker. 
A new wheel on the left, half used on the right
In relation to other jobs I've done on RoadAbode, this job went pretty well. I did only use two eraser wheels, but already am thinking of removing "Petey," Coachman's Dalmatian mascot on the front cap and rear of RoadAbode. Petey is the only other decal that looks worn around the edges.

Her's a little time lapse of the work on RoadAbode:

If you have any questions or want to share how you've removed decals, let us know in the comments section below. See you on the road!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

What Type of RVing Lifestyle Fits YOU?

As head of the RoadAbode Crew, sometimes I'll refer to myself as an "RV LifeStyle Advocate." The kids will usually roll their eyes. But all that means is - I enjoy traveling with friends and family in our motorhome RoadAbode, and love to relate our experiences to others. Ask questions on how we spend time together, or the different places we travel in RoadAbode, or how things work on an RV and my passion for RVing get's revealed. My hope is to help people understand the value and fun of traveling and staying in an RV. It's something we really love doing as a family, and we get excited when people discover the pluses (and take on some of the challenges) of owning and traveling in an RV.
The RV Lifestyle actually includes a variety of  ways of utilizing an RV. There are plenty of crossovers between the various ways to live in or use an RV too! Let's examine some possible lifestyle types.

Weekend RVers


Weekenders make up the majority population of the RV community. They usually use their RV to get away with family and friends to a favorite campground, or state park. Some will go to the same park, or hit a "circuit" of parks where they've built friendships with some other weekenders. Other Weekenders travel to a different destination each weekend they can make it out. Weekenders tend to use their RV as their mobile cabin for the hobbies and activities they enjoy. Whether snowboarding, rock climbing, fishing, hiking or just getting away to relax outdoors, their RV get's them there and keeps them comfortable as home base.

Tailgator RVers - tailgating with an RV


Tailgaters love to support their local team. Whether their kids soccer team, College sports, Nascar or the favorite Big Leagues team, RVs are perfect for tailgating! Most RVs have a full kitchen, television, and bathroom to support the tailgaters and guests Some RVs are even built or custom modified to be the ultimate tailgating machines, with outside kitchens, big screen outdoor televisions - with satellite hookup - and WiFi, and even rooftop viewing stands. The community is friendly, but can be competitive. Cookoffs and informal pickup games with good food and adult beverages are the norm for these gatherings.Be prepared to know your stats and discuss the pros and cons of the home or opposing teams! Here are some great tips for an awesome tailgate

Summertime Adventurers with an RV

Summertime Adventurers

This group are fortunate enough to have two, three or more weeks to travel in their RV. School teachers, Seasonal workers, entrepreneurs  or mobile workers can make up this group. They RV for the love of travel - sometime adventurous, sometimes to relax and just explore a new place or an old favorite. With trips planned for the summer, they travel from one location to the next. Sometimes they have a certain criteria for their tour - "All the major league baseball parks", "Top wineries" or "All the National Parks in the Southwest" Sometimes it's just to visit friends and family- and an RV becomes their home away from home. Maybe the theme is hiking, rock climbing or kayaking. Whatever their passion, Summertimes Adventurers have a set time to spend on their hands, and a specific idea of how to spend it.

Snowbirders with an RV


Snowbirders are usually defined as retirees that follow the sun. Right before the cold winter months, they travel from as far north as Canada and drive toward the warmer climes of Southwestern States, along the Gulf of Mexico, and the state of Florida. Some have vacation homes in the warmer climates, but we are focusing on the RVing set. The demographic is starting to change though, as more people can work remotely, they can pack up from their "stix and brix" home, and go on the road for extended period of time, taking their work with them. At the end of the work day, rather than fight traffic on snow covered roads, or start shoveling when they get home - they can throw on a swimsuit and lounge by the pool, or do a bit of fishing on the coast.

Full Timers with an RV

Full Timers

Full Timers seem to get the most press. Maybe they write more blogs, have more YouTube channels or podcasts than the other lifestyles of RVing combined. Maybe the public is most curious and wonder how possible it could be to really downsize your life and live travelling on the road. Full timers are perceived as mostly vagabond retired couples, but recently many blogs are done by a younger generation of RVer, who can use their tech savvy to work remotely, or have careers that entail travelling. Some are even fulltiming families, homeschooling on the Road like a real life version of the Gornicke family from the movie "RV". Full timing is truly a way of life, not just a style of life. They "give up" traditional lifestyles to be able to live on the road, and travel when they want, or hang out and linger to explore a place. Maybe - it's not what they give up, but what they gain. Living more simply, economically. Having an ever-changing view out the window. An ability to feed their craving of wanderlust. Being able to take time to hike and investigate some remote wilderness and even cities that would be expensive to live in full time. We follow the blogs of a few full timers, and each has a unique way of living their lives with no permanent anchor. Here are a few of our favorites to follow and learn from:
Technomadia | Gone with the Wynns | Roadtirement | Snowmads | Drive.Dive.Devour | Chris Travels

Workcampers with an RV


Workcampers can be a sub genre of any lifestyle mentioned above. Ten years ago when we started RVing, workcampers were defined as workers at commercial campgrounds, or volunteers working for a campsite at local, state or national parks. They clean, work in the office, take care of landscaping - using whatever skills they have learned through previous work experience.
Workcampers today still do that, but now includes people who will camp near tourist areas; and work as support for amusement parks or other entertainment venues. They may work as interpretive guides, or period actors for historical attractions. Work Campers can work in oilfields and call their trailer or fifth-wheel home. They may follow certain crops to work at harvest time. Amazon even has it's own "camperforce" that help at strategically placed warehouses throughout the country during the holiday rush. Fulltimers that use technology to work remotely are even considered by some "workcampers" (their at a campsite...working). Traveling nurses, technology, and construction workers are all needed sometimes for their mobility, and use that to workcamp their way across the country. There are hundreds of jobs where you don't need to be tied down to a specific space or place to complete your work.

What's the RoadAbode Crew?

How does the RoadAbode Crew RV? We are basically weekenders, and do some tailgating support for some church outings. We love taking longer weekends, and try to get out with "Guys Weekends" or Girls Weekends"  every year. The dream as our kids grow into adulthood is to start snowbirding and work toward some fulltiming workamping adventures. 
So those are the basic types of RVing Lifestyles. There are plenty that cross over into the others, and ways to use your RV that we didn't even mention. How do you RV? If you think we missed or should add something - let us know in the comments below! Peace! Safe Travels on down the road!