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Amazing inflatable kayak- Sea Eagle 330

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One of the best investments we ever made was buying a Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Sport Kayak on Craigslist! We found a steal of a deal. For $200 dollars we bought a kayak, 2 paddles, life jackets, water shoes, a pump for inflation, seats and the carry bag. We scored! We decided that an inflatable kayak would be a great first kayak for us since we could store it in one of the RV bins. We didn’t want to have to purchase a car carrier/rack for our first kayak.

The first place we tried the kayak was in our apartment complex pool! No kidding! We inflated it next to the pool and practiced getting in and out. It was a small pool, but we were able to get some short strokes in. It was just what we needed to get used to how the kayak felt and moved.

Sea Eagle Boats, INC is a family owned and operated business. They have been making boats since 1968. The boats were mainly sold through catalogs. They manufacture a variety of boats including 10 different kayaks, pontoon fishing boats, and even an inflatable canoe. The company says the kayaks can even be checked as luggage since they are so light and compact.

The Sea Eagle kayaks can be taken through rapids, or gently paddled on a lake. The kayak weighs 26 pounds and the carry bag doesn’t take up much space at all. We pack it in one of the RV bins underneath. We have also take the kayak in the car, and the bag fits just fine in the back of the Honda CRV. The kayak is very durable and can hold 2 people or up to 500 pounds.

Inflating the kayak is very easy. The foot pump is fast and gets the boat inflated in under 15 minutes. One way valves make keeping the air inside the boat a piece of cake for inflation and fast deflation. The 2 of us are very comfortable sitting in the kayak. I am 5’9 and have plenty of room for my legs in the back of the kayak. There is a bit of storage space even behind the back seat. We are able to fit a small dry bag there. There is also some rope/trim along the front and back so you could hook a bungee cord to carry additional gear. The hardest part is transporting the kayak once it is inflated. Carrying it to the water’s edge with paddles and additional gear can be a little tricky.

We have used the kayak in both fresh and saltwater. It handles very well with 2 paddlers. We enjoyed the comfort and stability. While in Maine we used the kayak to explore the Western Bay in Bar Harbor. It was neat to paddle around the edge of the campground and see crabs, fish, hermit crabs, and even a squid in the salt water. We have also taken the kayak on a fresh water lake. Since we are beginners, we don’t have any plans to use the kayak in rapids. The Sea Eagle 330 seems to be a popular choice among RV’ers. We have met 2 other couples that also own the 330. They like the compact size and easy set up too!

The Sea Eagle 330 Deluxe kayak package includes 2 paddles, 2 inflatable seats, a foot pump and carry bag advertised on the web site for $279 (valued at $525). We have really enjoyed our Kayak and look forward to many more water adventures!
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A handy addition called The Yard Stash

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When we think of buying a present for our loved one on Valentine’s Day most people think about flowers, chocolate, a mushy greeting card or maybe a candy heart. My Valentine bought me a Yard Stash for Valentine’s Day last year!

The Yard stash has been a great addition to our RV storage solutions! Most camping sites include a picnic table and a fire ring, but no storage shed. We have bicycles and wanted to have a place to store them and lock them up at the campsite. I’ve seen bikes stashed under the neck of 5th wheels, or locked to RV bumpers, which maybe fine for a weekend, but not for a season. We wanted to have protection from the elements for our new bicycles, and didn’t want them “visible” to other campers. The Yard stash was the perfect solution for us. We have 2 full size adult Diamond Hybrid bikes inside the yard stash. We are also able to store some additional gear; the bike helmets, bike car rack, bike pump, and other outdoor supplies. If rain is in the forecast, the fold up camp chairs also fit inside the Yard stash. The full zippers keep everything dry, and prevent dust and critters from getting inside. There is a small vent in the front of the tent that can be opened for ventilation. We had quite a bit a rain in Maine, and the Yard stash kept everything nice and dry!

The Yard stash is like a portable shed for outdoor gear or equipment. The storage options are endless! The Yard stash could be used for bikes, pool supplies, outdoor toys, garden tools and pots, storage of plastic containers, or other outdoor equipment.

The Yard Stash is made out of heavy duty waterproof, UV material. It has a rip proof tarpaulin roof and full zippers that make access very easy. The floor of the tent is also made from a heavy duty material. Being able to unzip the doorway along the top and bottom makes getting equipment in and out very easy.

The Yard Stash comes in its own carrying bag, and was very easy to set up. The website has a suggested set up time of 15 minutes. The poles are color coded which made set up very easy. Since we are stationary in our RV for 6 months, we set up the Yard Stash directly against the back of the RV. The tent is made in a space saving design with a flat back wall. There is a flap in the back wall of the Yard Stash that allows for a cable to be passed through so equipment inside can be locked up. We have a long cable the goes around the RV bumper to the bicycles. I really liked the flap feature because the bikes are “out of sight” and locked for extra security. The Yard Stash is green so it fits into the surroundings of camping well, it doesn’t draw a lot of attention at all.

Make the Yard Stash a part of your portable RV storage space!
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Thule 990XT Doubletrack Platform Hitch Bike Rack Review

Thule

We purchased the Thule 990XT Doubletrack Platform Hitch Bike Rack over a year ago to transport our two mountain bikes using the 2” trailer hitch on our truck. The rack came with an adaptor which allows it to be used with a 1 ½” hitch. The rack was new and we paid $299.99 for it. An employee at the Houston bike store we purchased the rack from installed it for us and it took him less than 30 minutes to put it together and mount it on the truck.

Using the hitch around town was easy. Luckily, our two mountain bikes are relatively light so lifting them up and onto the rack is not that difficult. To do so, you must lower the upright tube and hook assembly which is a square tube with two padded hooks at the top that slide down over each bike’s top frame. Each hook slides up and down the supporting arm when you depress a locking button. It is designed so that the hooks can be at different heights for different sized bikes. Just be sure to place the smaller bike at the back of the rack and the larger bike at the front.

This design is one of the weakest of the rack. In order to release the upright tube, there is a small gray grey lever at the bottom that you have to lift up and then fold the tube down to the right. With the tube bolted down tightly, so that it doesn’t rock back and forth, the lever is impossible to lift which means the tube will not move. We had to loosen the bolt in order to lift the lever, but doing so also meant that the tube itself was loose and it leaned forward and rocked back and forth when driving. The rocking motion caused the rubber hooks to rub the paint off of both of our bikes – right down to the metal. An internet search of this issue revealed that others had the same problem with the paint rubbing.

After a few months, we sold our truck and bought a Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler has the spare tire mounted on the back. When we moved the bike rack from the truck to the Wrangler, we were unable to open the Wrangler’s tailgate door because the spare tire hit the bike rack. With both the spare tire and the bike rack on the Wrangler, we are only able to open the tailgate door a couple of inches. If we need access to the back seat portion of the Wrangler, we have to remove the spare tire.

Although the rack is rather heavy and a bit awkward, we are able to install and remove it easily. The rack comes with a sliding pin and lock and both hooks on the upright tube also lock. You use the same key for both.

Overall, we love the rack except for the damage it caused to our bike paint. We have tried using pipe insulators to keep the paint from being rubbed off but that didn’t work. We have now wrapped ace bandages around each bike frame in hopes that it will prevent further damage. We have not contacted Thule about the damage and don’t intend to.

RV Food Storage Dehydrating & Vacuum Sealing Food

Dehydrator1RV Food Storage: Dehydrating & Vacuum Sealing Food

RV food storage is another one of those challenges to RVers because the situations are as varied and individualized as, well, RVers. Some of the factors include food preference, special diets, storage space, weight involved and the rodent prevention factor. What situation you are in with your RV also plays into the decisions about food and storage: are you full-timing, weekending or going on hiking trips? Well, while waiting for the transition to full-timing, I have taken on the experimentation with dehydrating food and vacuum sealing for storage.

We have always believed in being prepared for emergency situations, as our area had devastating floods in 2011. We were blessed to not be flooded, but we were trapped by flooded roadways surrounding us and had no electricity for 4 days. We had our trusty RV Motorhome generator to help us get through those days, and we did so without any panic or fear. As prepared as we were in this situation, we learned we could do more. Living in a RV full-time has the same challenges as a sticks & bricks: electric could be lost, you may have to abandon your RV for a tornado or hurricane. This all led to my learning about food storage for emergency situations, but it also transitioned to general food storage for RV living.

diced tomatoesI purchased a Nesco dehydrator and a Food Storage vacuum sealer for bags and attachments for jars. I did a lot of research on You Tube and would suggest you do the same; these purchases made sense for me financially at the time. The Nesco has 5 trays, with smooth and screen tray inserts. This is so you can choose to dehydrate different size food and do fruit roll-ups, beef jerky or tomato sauce – yes-tomato sauce! Vacuum sealing in bags is really the best way to store in a RV. I have attachments for Mason jar sealing and I have done so in the sticks & bricks, but since mason jars are glass, and have some weight, they really are not the first choice for the RV. Vacuum sealed bags of dehydrated food can last for months. Some folks get oxygen absorbers and/or store in Mylar bags, which means food can store for years. I choose to rotate out the food sooner than years! I did purchase a small tub that is moisture resistant for the RV to store the vacuum sealed bags of food. They really do not take up much room.

I got the dehydrator in the summer, which was great timing to get the freshest produce at farmer’s markets: corn, cucumbers, garlic, mushrooms, and onions, strawberries in season and apples in season. Another reason this is perfect for full-time RVing is because you get to change areas in the country, get that area’s fresh produce, dehydrate and seal to store and enjoy later.

Dehydrated fruitYou do not have to dehydrate food to use the Food Storage vacuum sealer. If you vacuum seal meat and freeze it, it lasts much longer. I do that continually with chicken, steaks, and formed hamburgers. It is a great way to prepare portions ahead of time. Those RVers who love to boon dock for long periods of time, or those far away from grocery stores for extended periods of time, dehydrating and vacuum sealing seems to be a perfect solution for food storage. My husband loves shelled peanuts, so I can buy a large bulk bag of them, then portion them out and vacuum seal them. It lightens the weight a great deal and keeps them fresh for months.

I have dehydrated fruit, vegetables and whole recipes of chili. What about rehydrating? I have dehydrated canned black beans, diced tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and placed all the needed spices into one bag, vacuum seal it and wala! The amount of weight and space you save in the RV is incredible! So all we did was cook up ground beef, throw it and the contents of the dehydrated chili into a crock pot, add the necessary water and magic: it is so cool to see beans and mushrooms rehydrate and taste exactly as delicious as prior to dehydrating – I swear! My husband didn’t believe it until he saw it either.

We love to kayak, bike and go on hikes. You can cut the vacuum bags into snack size bags and prepare in advance so you can grab and go when you are RVing. The space and weight savings for your day pack is amazing. Dried fruit can be eaten alone or mix it in with your own trail mix. This is a picture of dehydrated bananas and strawberries – they are so delicious!

I can tell you that it is far healthier to create your own trail mixes, and far cheaper, than buying store bought that can be loaded with sugar and chemicals you do not need.

Dehydrating takes time, depending on what you are dehydrating. The dehydrator and Food Storage vacuum sealer takes up space. Also, the dehydrator does take electricity, as does the vacuum sealer. The Nesco takes 5.83 amps, the Food Storage vacuum sealer 0.93 amps. I dehydrated 4, 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes and after vacuum sealing measured 2 inches high and 11 inches wide in 4 bags and weight about nothing! So I feel the appliance space use is well worth it.

I am still experimenting. I have yet to try the beef jerky recipe that came with the dehydrator. I want to try dehydrating ground beef. I have just dehydrated eggs – yes eggs – which I will write about in a separate blog. The money savings, the weight and storage space are really beneficial for RVers. Eating healthier food is important. The ability to enjoy NY State apples in the middle of winter is great – having them on the other side of the country in our RV will be magnificent!

Fulltimer Talks About RV Lighting – L.E.D. vs. Incandescent – what’s the big deal?

Do you find your coach or trailer batteries running out of juice quickly and all you had on was your 12 volt lights? Have you changed over to L.E.D. lights yet? Well, maybe it’s time you did! (and here’s why).

Did you know that the small incandescent light bulbs in your RV suck up a whole bunch of juice (current or electricity) from your batteries? OK, maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse.

What on earth are incandescent bulbs you ask? They’re the little glass light bulbs that looks similar to a car or truck tail light. Incandescent lights all have a filament in them. You know the light bulbs in your house that you always shake to see if the little wires in them have broken…those are also incandescent lights. You’ll probably remember the filament if you can think back of your dad or grandpa thumping light bulbs with their finger to see if the “filament” jiggled when checking the bulb to see if it was any good. Broken filaments mean there’s an open circuit which won’t allow current (electricity) to flow thru, thus, if broken, that bulb is no good.

LED lights have no filament. Instead, they have a bunch of little “diodes” (which are electrical components) that are illuminated simply by electricity traveling thru them and they produce NO heat. These little electrical components are called L.E.D.’s or Light Emitting “Diodes”.

Why are L.E.D. lights so much more energy efficient? Because they don’t create heat!

Incandescent lights as we discussed earlier, have filaments. These filaments, when electricity passes thru them, get very hot! You can witness this heat transfer when incandescent lights are illuminated by holding your hand close to the bulb (don’t touch the bulb with bare fingers when they’re illuminated! If you do, you will burn your fingers!). As the filaments get hot you can see it glowing. That glow is where the light from the bulb comes from…along with a lot of heat too.

Why is heat considered in energy consumption?

Think of some household items in your RV that create heat and that you can only run when you’re hooked up in a park or campground because they draw way too much current (electricity) to run off of your batteries. Light bulbs are no different in that lights that create heat draw more electricity than those that don’t.

Some statistics about lights (bear with me): A typical 12 volt DC light bulb draws close to 2 amps (or ampere’s) per hour where L.E.D. lights for that fit the same fixture typically draw 100 – 200 milliamps (or 100 – 200 mA) which is .1 – .2 amps per hour. OK, sorry! In layman’s terms, that means incandescent bulbs draw lots of electricity and L.E.D.’s don’t.

Now, when you decide you’re going to take the plunge because it’s time to make the change to L.E.D.’s, you’ll find that L.E.D. lights are a bit more expensive than the old incandescent bulbs you’re used to buying. If you’re on a limited budged you may want to start small and replace only a few bulbs at a time. Figure out which lights you use the most and replace only those for now. You’ll also have to make the decision whether you want bright or dim lighting.

Once you make these decisions, check out http://wiredco.com . We’ve purchased lights from many sources over the past few years and found that Wiredco.com has by far the best prices (that I’ve found domestically).

Once you make the change to L.E.D. lighting you’ll immediately notice that your batteries are lasting much, much longer.

My Fitness Pal Offers Support While On The Road

healthy food choicesI love this website. It is a community based website that allows individuals to track their diet, exercise, water consumption, measurements, and dietary goals.

The community allows you to interact with other dieters to give and receive encouragement, talk about what works and what doesn’t. It offers forums, a personal blog, and interactive personal friends list.  We use it to support our family and friends across the country. It is so nice to stay connected and be able to offer encouragement across the miles as we travel.

My husband and I both are diabetics and counting carbs and sugar has never been easier!

It also makes tracking other dietary concerns like sodium easier, because in addition to tracking essential weight loss concerns it also gives the individual choices of tracking calories, fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and potassium all of these choices truly put the individual in charge of their own dietary lifestyle choices. Information is truly power. Giving the individual this information, truly makes their diet choices easier as they use My Fitness Pal for  weight loss or gain in their healthy life choices and in tracking their progress, physical activity, and goals more easily tracked online.

My Fitness Pal community is free to join and use without a credit card. There are more than 500,000 foods included in their database. Users also have the ability to add foods and menus to their daily records as they go. Ability to list your ingredients for your very own recipes in a peer based community.

Mobile applications are available for the iPhone and Android based systems letting you easily keep updated on the go.

The community provides support through use of integrated tools and peer communication. Active communities tend to be more viable than inactive communities.

Product Features include a food journal which is one of the best tools to track calories intake. This is an awesome benefit for many dieters who don’t want to write everything down or try to remember everything eaten or drank throughout the day and then spend an hour or so writing everything in at the end of the day when it is already too late to change anything that you already ate. It is much easier to track on the go and be able to see what you have already racked up in calories, sugars, sodium, saturated fat or anything else you are tracking.

You can also go back and edit entries and track your water consumption.

The website also alerts you when you may be losing too quickly so you and your doctor can evaluate if you are losing weight safely.

My husband’s nutrition doctors love the fact that we can print out screen shots of his summaries and I love the fact that he can visibly see what effect that certain foods have on our goals.

My Fitness Pal is a free service, so dieters can use all the tools without fear if being charged for the service. Last of all I love it because it works! I have lost 56 pounds and my hubby has lost 45 pounds. We are making wiser more healthy choices and we are benefiting from the power of having the information at our fingertips before we even plan a meal we can enter it in and see how it will affect our goals and then decide if we really want to eat or drink those food choices. It also helps us decide the amount of food we want to indulge in.

We love having this tool at our fingertips!

Review of The Kitchen Plus 2000

The Kitchen Plus 2000 is a great gift idea! It is one of the most frequently used kitchen tools I own! It is designed to create professional results for food preparation quickly and conveniently. I purchased mine in the fall of 2011. It quickly became my favorite food preparation machine. I use it for almost every meal! It is so handy to have one tool that slices, dices, chops, shreds, grates, mixes, blends, whips, separates egg whites, citrus juicer, and Julienne cutter.

It is manufactured to the highest quality standards. Over a year after purchasing it the efficiency of this tool shows it’s high value.  A great gift idea with a price of $19.95 makes it one of my best investments.

Meal preparation is a snap with heavy duty blades that cut ten to twenty times faster than by hand.

My Kitchen Plus 2000 performs on a daily basis and is often used multiple times in one meal. A healthy breakfast drink of freshly squeezed orange juice and banana blended. Chopped onions and shredded hash browns easily done in my Kitchen Plus 2000. Shredded cheese and chopped mushrooms for my omelet. Five times of using it just for breakfast! Which brings up another feature I like as it is easily cleaned and dishwasher safe.

This is a totally manual device, no electric motor, so it can be easily used when boondocking or during power outages.

The Kitchen Plus 2000 replaces a number of other appliances and is a great space saver as well. It is very light weighing only 3 pounds.

Those extremely sharp heavy blades do a ton of work, cutting 10 to 20 times faster than by hand.They must be treated with respect and caution as they can easily cut fingers.

We receive an added health benefit from using our Kitchen Plus 2000 to make spaghetti sauce or salsa is we get fresh delicious food that we control the salt content on. This is a very important consideration in our household.

This extremely versatile tool allows us to enjoy the time saving use of it for slicing potatoes, and other vegetables in preparation for stir fries, stews, casseroles and soups.

The Kitchen Plus 2000 comes with a recipe booklet that contains 14 easy recipes in English as well as Spanish.

The booklet has clear pictures and step by step instructions on how to use it and assembly is very simple.

Simply insert the blade into the center of the bowl. Place cover on and turn clockwise a few turns then counter clockwise. The more turns the finer the cut.

The paddle is used for beating, whipping, mixing and blending. Everything from scrambling your eggs to making your cake batter.

Attach the multi functional base to the bowl and insert whatever function you like grate, shred, julienne or slice.

The citrus juicer makes healthy fruit juices a snap.

I love so many things about my Kitchen Plus 2000 including the fact that I can prepare ahead and put the top on and pop it in the refrigerator to use when I am ready.

The only two complaints I have are:

I have found that onions do better if I cut them up into chunks before putting them in. I tried peeling the onion and putting it in whole, but found it works better to cut it into fourths.

I wish it was bigger. The four cup capacity is smaller than I would like. Perhaps there is a larger one that I am not aware of.

My rating for the Kitchen Plus 2000 is a 4.95