Pineknot Rally

We enjoyed another fiberglass RV rally at the Salmon Lake RV Park near Grapeland, TX October 23-27. We shared a hook up post with our good friends George and Sandy Childs. The park is quite unique. The previous owners bought numerous old buildings, brought them in, and renovated them into several cabins (nice on the inside, Old West on the outside). The ground there is very sandy, so rain just soaks right in.

We had beautiful weather (except for one night and day of drizzle). But even the rain didn’t dampen the spirit of the group who attended.

Of particular note was Little Home on the Road in attendance. I was able have them install the first “factory install” of the new battery slide-out. It makes servicing and testing the battery a piece of cake!

Pineknot was entertaining and very enjoyable. There were also several Escapes in attendance, and the president of the company flew down from Canada to give a presentation. But the best part of all were all the friends we saw and the new friends we made (Ray and Ron among others!)

Javelina Roundup 2019

We had a wonderful week in the Davis Mountains State Park at the Javelina Roundup 28 Sep – 5 October. We decided to stay the night before, and again on the way home as well, at Fort Stockton RV Park, just east of Fort Stockton on I-10. It was a wonderful stay. We enjoyed the cafe on the grounds, and Two Terriers loved the dog park. They met many new canine friends, helping greatly in their socialization.

Shortly after we arrived at the Fort Stockton RV Park, another fiberglass RV (Escape 21). When they got set up, I went over and introduced myself. It turned out to be Jerry and Lou Todd, who were also going to Javelina Roundup. We had a great time with them for dinner and breakfast, and travelled together to the state park.

The Davis Mountains State Park is a wonderful park with spacious sites, full hook ups, and beautiful views. Mikey and Toby (the Two Terriers) drug me all over those mountains, and showed that they were trail-running fiends. They LOVED going on trail walks. We also visited the McDonald Observatory, and attended a Star Party. We were able to see the moon up close, and we saw the rings of Saturn. Amazing!

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The Black Bear Restaurant at Indian Lodge has good food and good views of the valley below. The town of Fort Davis has a very well-stocked grocery store (Porters), and a Blue Bell ice cream parlor, The Caboose. In the town of Alpine, we stopped at the Davis Mountains Nut Company, and bought various flavored pecans. I had a nice conversation with the owner – very friendly.

Music for the Roundup was provided by “Slim Pickens and the Can’t Hardly Playboys”. They were very entertaining. I gave a Cowboy Poetry recital one morning during the morning coffee gathering.

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We saved a visit to the Fort Davis Historical Site for next year’s roundup. We WILL go back again.

A Weekend Getaway

We decided to take a last minute trip out to Belton Lake for the weekend, and stayed at Live Oak Ridge Park, an Army Corps of Engineer RV park just above the spillway at Belton Lake Dam, Belton, TX.

“Live Oak Ridge” is the perfect name for this park. The pups and I took many walks among the large, old live oak trees that cover the campground. It is enchanting to walk through a dense canopy of live oaks that are certainly many decades old. The park sits atop a ridge overlooking Belton Lake on one side, and the spillway along another side.

The restrooms were tiled, clean, and well-stocked. The entire park was mowed and the park hosts made the rounds. It is obvious they take pride in the park. Even the crushed granite patio areas had been raked! I also saw the county sheriff twice. It felt good to see them on patrol.

There was one other Casita there, an older Spirit Deluxe. On Saturday morning, I saw them hooking up, so I went over and introduced myself. They were Dick and Mary Herrmann from Tomball, Texas. Their daughter lives in Temple, and they had been here four days visiting her. Dick is 80, and Mary is 78. Could have fooled me! They looked much younger! This is their second Casita. They purchased this one used, about five years ago. They go to Salmon Lake Park a lot, so I told them about Pineknot Rally in October.

I was very pleased with how both our refrigerator and air conditioner worked in the 100+ degree heat. We took the pups to Belton Lake for a swim. When we got back, we bathed them with our new outside shower! It is so nice!

Mods, Mods, and More Mods!

When we began learning about RVs in general, and Casitas specifically, we were impressed by how popular it is to personalize your camper by making modifications (mods) to it. The months leading up to delivery of our Casita were filled with anticipation, research, education, and planning. It was a great time of excitement for us, as we began the process of personalizing our Casita even before we picked it up.

We prepared a list of desired mods to the Casita, and began prioritizing it in preparation for our delivery day. Frank made arrangements with Little Home on the Road, in Haslet, Texas for our first set of mods to be added on 19 April 2019, just two days after we picked it up. 

First, we added front scissor jacks for stability. The Casita comes from the factory with rear scissor jacks installed, but the front end is on a single tongue jack. So these will eliminate any shaking from wind or movement inside the trailer.

Next, we had the Orbital Machine Works (OMW) shock kit installed to reduce vibrations on the road. Vibration is the enemy of rivets!

The front porch light could only be turned on from the outside, so we had them add a light switch on the inside by the door to be able to turn the light on and off from the inside (especially for inclement weather). 

Everyone in the Casita world emphasized the need for stronger hinges on the refrigerator, because the plastic hinges from Dometic will fail. Not if, but when! So we had the stainless steel hinges installed. 

For ease of seeing when our water pump and water heaters are on, we had the lighted switches installed. 

And, because horizontal surfaces are at a premium in the Casita, we added a folding shelf next to the sink for additional meal preparation space.

The folks at Little Home on the Road (“We know Casitas”) truly do know these trailers inside and out. They are free with their advice, but they never push any recommendations on you. They are friendly, fast, and efficient. I highly recommend them to anyone owning a Casita that wants some work done on their trailer.

Once we got her home, it was Frank’s turn to start working on some mods. Our first mod was to build a couple of towel rods affixed to the vent pipe behind the toilet. It was an easy design that we got from Alan at RV Adventures on youtube.  We also followed Alan’s method of installing command hooks around the top of the shower area to hang a full size shower curtain to keep the toilet area dry when we take a shower.

We also purchased a “butt guard” to protect the buttons on the front of the refrigerator from being accidentally bumped. Refrigerator power management is very important in these trailers, so you don’t want it being switched to another power source without knowing about it. This was the easiest mod of all! Just peel and stick!

So far, the mods I have described were completed before we went to the Bluebonnet Casita Rally just one week after we picked up our camper!  We learned a great deal more while at the rally. One of the most important mods was to secure the awning to withstand stronger winds. During the Egg Parade (where we all walked around looking at each other’s Casita mods), I took pictures of how one guy had secured his awning using painter’s poles and strong clamps from Harbor Freight. He also used some 12” lag screws to secure the legs of the awning by drilling them into the ground. I was amazed that they back out as if they were in wood.  We now have a secure awning that we can trust in moderate winds. 

Casita has begun equipping their new deliveries with bug guards over the vents for the water heater and furnace. However, the water heater vent is larger than the square vent cover installed by Casita. We purchased the rectangular bug guard while at the Bluebonnet Rally, and installed it in place of the square guard that didn’t fully cover the vent. 

The 7-pin connector that provides electricity from the tow vehicle (TV) to the trailer is normally wrapped around the tongue jack when not in use. This exposes the connections to the weather, so Frank installed a cheap holder designed to cover the connector, thus minimizing corrosion or dirt from contaminating it. 

7 Pin Connector Holder

Debbie found a nice spare tire cover that had the state of Texas boldly displayed, so we purchased it and Frank installed it. Someone at the rally told me to take the spare tire off, then turn around the cover to protect the fiberglass from the tire, because it tends to make permanent marks on the fiberglass. So, when I installed the Texas cover, I reversed the original Casita cover for that purpose. 

Proud to be from Texas.

We made two modifications to the Casita’s door. First, I cut a piece of plexiglass the size of the lower screen, and velcro’d it to the inside of the door frame. We were afraid that the Two Terriers would go right through that screen someday in their excitement to get at something. The second mod to the door was to add some louvered shades to the window so that we can close it off at night, and see what’s outside when we want to!

Toby and Mikey approved!
Zarcor door shades!

We recently took the trailer up to All Pro Window Tinting in Decatur Texas to have window tint installed for reduction of heat. We chose the ceramic film one shade lighter than limousine black to get maximum UV protection without making it too dark inside the Casita. We LOVE the results.

These folks know Casita windows! We highly recommend them!

Our most recent addition has nothing to do with the Casita itself, but adds to the camping décor of the campsite. We learned this one from Jerry at “I love RV life” on youtube. He takes 4×4 posts, and turns them into wonderful camping lights using cheap solar lights you can buy just about anywhere. We had a very old 4×4 post down at the barn, so Frank made a couple of these lights. We like them so much, we are planning to make a bunch of them and sell them at the Casita rallies.

Future mods will include a PVC toilet paper holder similar to the towel rods, a larger tube for the sewer pipe affixed to the bumper, and some window awnings over the back window and street side window. We will also add some stick-on gutters above the windows. Debbie is busy planning for a valence over the windows and a rag quilt for the bed. 

Now to get out there on the road an enjoy “Our Happy Place”!

Bluebonnet Casita Rally, 24-29 April 2019

Just one week after we picked up our new Casita, we were driving to Bandera, Texas (Cowboy Capital of the World) to attend the 2019 Texas Bluebonnet Casita Rally. We arrived at the Skyline Ranch RV Park a short time before a spring thunderstorm arrived. Frank was able to get the electricity and water hooked up, the Casita leveled and scissor jacks down for stability just as it began to rain hard. All the studying of the steps to take upon arrival really paid off, as we had to set up in a big hurry. But soon the rain left, the skies cleared, and we had beautiful weather the rest of the week.

Casitaville at the 2019 Texas Bluebonnet Casita Rally, April 24 – 28, 2019

In attendance at the Rally were around 150 fiberglass trailers, the vast majority were Casitas. Everyone at the Rally was friendly, knowledgeable about all things Casita, and willing to help the newbies like us. Here is another view of the RV Park.

Looking from the Clubhouse back towards the park entrance. Casitas everywhere you looked!

We had done a lot of research in the 2 1/2 months waiting for delivery, and we were fairly well equipped to setup our first real campsite. We had purchased several essentials for electricity, water, and waste (gray and black water). But the single biggest and best acquisition was the purchase of our Clam Quick Set popup shelter. We instantly fell in love with this marvelous shelter. We can set it up in less than 1 minute, but it takes several more minutes to secure it.

Our setup with the Clam Quick Set Shelter.

This was Mikey and Toby’s first long camping experience, and they were wonderful. We were worried beforehand that they would be barking and unruly. They were pure gentlemen, walking silently, meeting lots of people, and watching numerous other dogs go by without being obnoxious.

Mikey and Toby enjoyed the Clam as well, as they were not restricted to the Casita.

The Rally was extremely well organized with group dinners, functions, and entertainment. We were treated to wonderful BBQ and the great Almost Patsy Cline Band! One of Debbie’s favorite activities was learning how to use a Dutch Oven to cook just about anything. There is one or more of these in our future!

The Cast Iron Cooking Class was very educational and well done!

George and Sandy Childs played a large part in our decision to get a Liberty model of Casita. In our research about the Casita, we joined the Casita Forum online. Through the forum, we found this local couple who were more than willing to let us come over to their house, and spend a few hours getting all our Casita and camping questions answered. They never steered us wrong, and their advice was exactly what we needed. Just a couple of days after our visit, we took the trip to Rice, Texas to order our camper. Here’s George as one of the Cast Iron Cooking teachers.

George Childs teaching the Cast Iron Cooking Class.

The facilities were first class, the organization was fantastic, and we give our hearty thanks to all the staff and volunteers of this Rally. We plan to attend again, and perhaps join in the volunteer force.

The Skyline Ranch RV Park Clubhouse. Top notch facilities!

One of the highlights of the week was the Egg Parade. The Casitas stayed in place, and everyone walked around to the other Casitas to see how folks had modified their rigs. One guy told me we were the “Rock Stars” of this year’s egg parade because we had the newest Casita on site, being only one week old, and having the new standard equipment installed, especially the new gray interior and vinyl flooring. One of my favorite mods that we saw was how to secure an awning to hold up in even strong winds. Needless to say, I followed his instructions to a “tee” and we now have a secure awning.

Our interior setup for the Egg Parade.
How to Secure an Awning.

We will be back!!!

Long overdue

How did it get to be June already?

We picked up our Casita Liberty Deluxe travel trailer on 17 April from the Casita factory in Rice, TX. We spent our first night at High View RV park just west of Ennis, TX. The weatherman was predicting severe thunderstorms with large hail. Fortunately, we only experienced an average thunderstorm. The pups were scared, but the Casita never shook or budged. I felt very secure inside during the storm.

We stayed close to the factory just in case there was anything wrong with the trailer, and it’s a good thing we did. It was hot and muggy and we spent our first evening sweating in the trailer with no air conditioning. The fan worked, but the compressor never kicked in. It turned out to be a bad thermostat. Within an hour of turning it in at the factory, we were on the road again to our second destination near Azle TX, the Silver Creek RV Park.

The following morning, we drove up to Haslet TX, to get some modifications (mods) done to the trailer. Little Home On The Road was fantastic, as they installed scissor jacks for stabilization, a shock kit to reduce road vibrations, an indoor light switch for the porch light, and an extra shelf for more counter space. In less than four hours, they were done, and we headed to Weatherford to show off our new home to our daughter and grandsons.

We then traveled back home to Kempner, TX and parked the Casita under our car port next to the house. The following week, we had the Casita’s car port installed, as its permanent base. During that week, I made some towel racks for the bathroom, and added the “shower curtain mod” to create a nice shower area that would not soak the toilet or area behind the toilet.

We began packing for our first extended (5 day) trip to Bandera TX and the Bluebonnet Casita Rally. More on that later!!!!

Frank