Alberta, Canada - Banff Park - Two Jack Lake by Dave Hileman

Site #34 Two Jack Lake, Banff $24

Very nice park, no services but location, location. We were nestled in among some tall trees and a walk out the back of our trailer and you were immediately in the thick forest. It was convenient to what we wanted to see in the area as well. Quiet at night and we saw elk walking through our site.

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Wyoming - Devil's Tower NM by Dave Hileman

This park does not take reservations when we arrived about 3 in the afternoon we had a lot of sites to choose from. We picked one in loop A and from our door had an unobstructed view of the Tower. No power or water on site, restrooms on both loops. This is a perfect place to explore the Tower and its environs. We did three trails one in the evening and two in the AM. Really special location. Loved it and only $10.

Looking up

Looking up

Looking down

Looking down



Iowa - Hudson - Hansen Dairy / Harvest Hosts by Dave Hileman

Night three was our first Harvest Hosts stop. We were in Hudson, Iowa at the Hansen Dairy. This is a same family owned 155 year old farm starting their seventh generation of owners. Wow. Beautiful spot and even better people. We enjoyed a peaceful night next to a small pond & ate wonderful ice cream fresh from the dairy. We also bought milk and cheese curds that Cindy pronounced “delicious.” The site  had showers in the tour building available. Nice, hot, longer shower! In the morning we took a neat tour of the dairy.

All in all an amazing stop making Harvest Hosts a great investment. 

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Kentucky - Lexington - Cabela's by Dave Hileman

We stayed here on Wednesday night. It is easy access from I-75 and very close to I-64. Large parking lot and we were told park anywhere. There are a few dedicated sites on the east side of the building but we did not want to use up one of those large sites. They have a pay dump station. It was quiet with 5 others in the lot. There are a multitude of restaurants on the other side of the interstate, maybe 1/2 mile away. We left in the morning about 8. Very good stop.

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Short by Dave Hileman

I went out to the trailer at the storage unit last week and the running lights were on and nothing was connected. So I asked the question on the Oliver Forum and got excellent help. The plug that connects to the truck when you ought to have lights (and brakes!) had a short and I had to take the end off the plug, clean the connections and then sprayed it with electric connection cleaner. I could have replaced it but It cleaned up well so I don’t think that is needed now. Just another maintenance type of job I did not even know you needed to do. Always learning something. Anyway, no ghost lights. Yay.

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Power by Dave Hileman

Our Oliver trailer has a shore electric hookup so when we have access to a plug we have full power. We also have 200 watts of solar cells that assist in keeping the batteries charged and that is the second system for power, the deep cycle batteries. We have an inverter but it rarely works. But 12 volt only and occasional 110 power is not always sufficient for us. We do a lot of camping with no power hook-ups and we can easily run the battery down as these lead acid batteries only are usable for a little less than half of the rated power. So we also have a generator. It is a Honda 2200i that is fully capable of being used for lots of power needs even more specialized equipment like a laptop. This unit is easy to start and is really pretty quiet. When we are inside the trailer you can barely hear it running. I keep it in the very back of the truck and it is secured with a strong cable that allows me to move it about 10 feet with out disconnecting. I just serviced and checked everything out for the upcoming trip and it works well. Glad to have the extra power because two or three days of rain in a row you a pretty much out of juice. So far well worth the investment. Maybe next year I will add lithium batteries to the trailer but not this year.

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South Carolina - Columbia & Charleston by Dave Hileman

We stayed at two campgrounds, one near Columbia SC and one near Charleston SC that were marginal at best. The first was a small campground -cash only - with full hook-ups and semi-working wifi in a rather unfinished setting. Wood Smoke Family Campground was not much of a place to enjoy the outdoors but, it was close to where we needed to be on Sunday morning and it was inexpensive. I would stay here again in similar circumstances if there were no other options.
The second was a KOA in Ladson about 15 miles west of Charleston. This, too, had full hook ups but very poorly maintained. No covers on the sewer connections, for example. Our water spigot did not work correctly and there were high weedy patches and low standing water places on our site that backed up to the fence that separated the KOA from a rough looking trailer park. The KOA had lots of seasonal workers using it while they were in town for construction or other jobs. Then there were the military jets all night which would be fine if they had mentioned that in the park information.I wonder how they keep the KOA rating as it was not one that I have found typical of a KOA. I would not stay here again.

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South Carolina - Huntington State Park by Dave Hileman

We are in the newer campground with concrete slabs to park on, water, sewer and electric and a very iffy wifi. We can hear the surf a very short distance away. The older “north” campground has more space and trees but fewer services. I had made an error in registrations but the staff were very patient and helpful (Thank you, Deb & Don!) and we got settled yesterday afternoon. We camped here is a tent in 1974 and in 198? with two kids and a large cumbersome trailer and that time for Thanksgiving. It was my favorite camping spot. Still pretty close call. Beautiful beach, nice ponds with alligators and lots of birds and a very unique old estate to tour. We took a 2 mile beach walk late afternoon between rain. Lovely. Brookgreen Gardens is across the street. Cost was about $60 with full hookups.

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Sorting, Cleaning, Testing and Packing by Dave Hileman

I was going to post this in Alaska but it is really the every spring task and some it it each time we travel as well. These are all things that go in the truck. I have just started to sort and replace, clean and repack things. We carry water, tools, generator, fuel, grill, hiking boots, air compressor, dirty laundry, spare parts, trailer hook up stuff - hose, power cord, blocks, and extras, like sleeping bag if it gets really cold, hiking sticks - lots of things that can get dirty. We store most things in clear boxes with lids.

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First box nearly done, two things are here temporarily and a couple are missing. We do have extensive check lists to keep track. This is the shallow box that slides in a frame and is under the water hose, power cord, filter and electric surge protector.

First box nearly done, two things are here temporarily and a couple are missing. We do have extensive check lists to keep track. This is the shallow box that slides in a frame and is under the water hose, power cord, filter and electric surge protector.

Power by Dave Hileman

This is the last item I think we may need for support on the trip - actually any trip. Now I have a compressor, a screwdriver and duct tape, what else could you need. Twice my truck has failed to start and both times I was able to use jumpers to get started. Off in some National Forest miles from help and surrounded by hungry bears I don’t want Cindy to have to walk for help so I bought this little charger. I have not used it but it was highly rated on two different web sites. It is well packed, small and light weight. It has power to jump a battery 10 times if fully charged and it will do cell phones, laptops, etc. So when it went on one of Amazon’s special day sales I bought it. I would be glad if I never have to use it but even happier if I do and it works! Seems like a great thing to carry not just while camping but on most trips.

Well packed

Well packed

Accessory side

Accessory side

Unit nestled in foam

Unit nestled in foam

less than 8 inches long and about 1 inch thick, easy to store and I imagine easy to use.

less than 8 inches long and about 1 inch thick, easy to store and I imagine easy to use.

First Night by Dave Hileman

I don’t recall the name of this campground but it is at the exit of the Natchez Trace Parkway at Route 412, the road that leads down to Hohenwald and at the Oliver Trailer sales office. Once you pick up your trailer they assign someone to do an extensive walk-through of all the systems and then you take your new trailer up a few miles up to this commercial campground where they assist you in setting everything up and will aid in the AM if you need help on breaking camp. It was helpful and a very nice idea just not a very nice campground. It was weedy, uneven and poorly drained so it did not make a great impression. In fact, it was likely our least favorite place we have stayed. There are so many beautiful places near the town and I imagine Oliver could set up a 6 or seven spot campground on property they own or could buy and really do a first night well. Location does influence your experience and while the trailer was great the environment was far from ideal. If you are going to provide a service to your guests and customers, it ought to be the best you can do. Here much of the experience is out of Oliver’s control and leads to a less than great event.

Pretty trees but not much else to recommend this place.

Pretty trees but not much else to recommend this place.

Communication by Dave Hileman

We are often told that communication is a key for a successful marriage. This may be true but it is clear that if you want your marriage to work while backing a trailer into a camp site, you need to not just shout instructions you need a plan! We struggled to get this done. I think largely because of my lack of ability to actually back up the trailer let alone back into a rock and tree-lined site designed by M. C. Escher. Enter help via walkie-talkie. This was not our idea but the recommendation of the folks from Long-Long Honeymoon who have an excellent YouTube channel on the joys and travails of RV travel. (Mostly joys) We bought these two made by Arcshell with chargers from Amazon for just a bit under $25 and they work really well. The sound is clear, they announce your channel so you don’t have to guess, they hold a charge for many days and we look very cool using them. We first tried to use our phones but often - and usually with the most challenging site, we would not have cell coverage. We used these several times on our last two trips and they made slotting into a camp site a much easier job. We even followed their suggestion that we drop left and right and use passenger side and driver side, very helpful. Highly recommend. And while we have linked to Long-Long Honeymoon for a long time in our Connections tab here is their web site - http://longlonghoneymoon.com, go and be inspired.

We bought ours at Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Arcshell-Rechargeable

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Set Up Organization (3 photos) by Dave Hileman

I found quickly that I needed organization for the things I needed to set up the trailer. The box I had dd not really work and all the stuff needed did not fit and everything needed to be in one place. So I found this closet organizer at the Container Store - a very dangerous place for me. In fact in nearly four years in Raleigh I think I have earned my own parking space out front with a sign and everything. Anyway, this was on sale in January two years ago and I bought it. It has three drawers - you need the metal ones for the top two. I secured it in place with two velcro ties and they keep it from sliding around. I keep blocks on the top row, electric connection, water hose, filter, cleaning rag and electric surge protector in the second and the third gets little things, hose wrench, gloves, oil, small parts, tapes, repair parts, rags and more. The lid is important for this one to keep stuff clean because dirt filters down from the top. In four long trips it has been perfect. It all fits behind the tailgate and under the cover. Everything is easy to get to and put back. This cost about $75 on sale and has been well worth the investment.

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Tennessee - Townsend - Little Arrow by Dave Hileman

I stayed here four days for a photography event in the GSMNP in fall of 2016. I was in a nice spot by the creek and it was quiet at night as the campground is the very last thing before entering the park, so no traffic at night. It had on site water, electric, sewer and cable and was about $55 a night. Way less than staying at the lodge for the conference but more than I would normally spend. Still just fine, convenient to the park and well kept at the time.

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New Jersey - Cape May - KOA by Dave Hileman

I bet you are thinking, what a great camping site. You would be wrong. The photo is the Cape May - Lewis Ferry on route with our trailer because I never remembered to take a photo at the campground. In my meager defense, I was tired. We dropped off the trailer about 2 (after asking for a better site, their belief in my ability to squeeze backwards into a tiny spot was overly optimistic). We went to a play in Ocean City and back very late and had to be at the ferry by six-thirty. So no photo. This was an old campground transitioning to KOA and had a bit to go. But we were OK, level in the new site and were out easy and early. https://koa.com/campgrounds/cape-may/

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Maryland - Frederick - Church by Dave Hileman

I parked at this church on Saturday evening - with their permission, of course. Turned out to be a really nice night, easy place to park and easy to exit in the morning. But do go to church if you ask! I have a bit of a relationship with these folks so I was not coming to them as a stranger. Still, very nice of them and perfect for us.

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Maine - Orland - Bucksport KOA by Dave Hileman

I imagine it is very hard to transition an older, perhaps a bit run down or with different standards RV park into a KOA. My experience has been very positive with KOA overall and I have been pleased with the three parks we have been in that were in the midst of the transition. One in NJ had a long way to go, this park, near Bucksport and Fort Knox in Maine is well underway. It might be because of the engagement of the owners, David and Marlene. I was impressed with their plans and with what they had already accomplished. For our purposes it was a perfect stay. Why? We were headed to the NP campground in Acadia and there we would not have any services for five days. I wanted to: 1. fill the water tank, 2. completely empty grey and black tanks, 3. refill propane and 4. have all the batteries fully charged. We did all that at our site. It was a just enough angle to fully empty tanks, David had the propane filled and everything else worked. We were also only an hour plus to Acadia so easy access to MDI and we arrived early enough to settle in, take a couple of hikes and get ice cream. We MAY have gotten the ice cream first. Good stop, fair price, nice people lots to see in the area. https://koa.com/campgrounds/bucksport/

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Massachusetts - Hingham - Wompatuck State Park (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

We chose this park for its proximity to Boston and access to the ferry system. It turned out to be an excellent choice for several reasons. First, the park was priced fairly, about $27 a day for out-of-state with electric and water. I really liked the electric stations that were lit at night and had holders to keep the cord off the ground. (it was also easy to see for those of us with poor back up syndrome!) The site we had in the first loop on the right was D007. It was level, had a nice table and fire ring and the site was well spaced with lots of trees. We were about a 10 minute drive from the ferry terminal and since we were going to the NP on a weekend parking was free and the ferry - $15 to Boston. It is fast and convenient. We went first to the Boston Islands NRA, specifically Fort Warren. The second leg was from the island to the dock in Boston. There we spent a day seeing the African American Park and Revere’s house. We also had dinner, dessert and a great walk. Hingham is the home of Talbots, so, just a note you can shop in the original 1948 store and they they have a factory tour which we missed but one of us is a big Talbots fan so when we come back, not only is that on the agenda but we will stay at Wompatuck.

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Vermont - Quechee Gorge - KOA by Dave Hileman

Sorry but this photo does not do justice to this KOA. It was well decorated and situated in a pleasant locale but it was raining hard and I was ill with migraine number two on the trip. The KOA had a nice level spot, cable, water, electricity and a clean bathhouse. The folks were very helpful, even to bringing me some oil that she felt would improve my headache. The area is a prime tourist spot, the Quechee Gorge State Park in Vermont is popular. We did not visit there for we had been there twice before and, I know you will be surprised to read this, it was raining. We did go to the King Arthur Flour complex: store, cafe, bakery, exhibit bakery and classrooms. What a great place if you love to bake (Cindy) or love to eat (DAVE) or want to get very clever tools, amazing variety of flours and eat fresh baked goods (DAVE). The KOA was a tad more expensive than the other two we stayed at but fairly priced and well run. The bathhouse was clean and bright. The dump station was a bit of a challenge to navigate but the staff were super helpful Great place to stay. https://koa.com/campgrounds/quechee/

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