Category: Lessons Learned (Page 1 of 2)

I would rather be in an RV then in the wet city

The second weekend away in Chateau Sugaree, our new RV.  We were able to capture a spot at our former home away from home – the Delaware Water Gap / Pocono Mountain KOA Holiday. True to form it was a wet weekend.  This has been the case just about all summer.

Wet and Wild Ride

Being as we have not secured a “permanent” camping home for Sugaree yet we have been picking her up on Friday afternoon and returning to the storage lot Sunday afternoon.  Not that bad, but would love to have a place to go to without the setup and breakdown.  This will come in time.

The ride up to East Stroudsburg was a wet and wild ride.  Rachel and pugs meet the RV along the PA turnpike and we caravaned up to the KOA.  Traffic was heavy but moving.  To our West, we could see grey clouds headed our way.  As we traveled up route 33 they got closer and darker.  We just past the exit for Wind Gap when the rain started.  The winds picked up and the rain came down hard.  To say it came down in sheets would have been an understatement.  You could not see the front of your vehicle, let alone any cars in front of you.

Small branches from trees along the side of the highway broke off and were blown across the road surface.  The shoulder of the road is narrow and not a good place for a car to pull over, let alone the RV.  Along with the rest of the traffic, we slowed down to about 5 MPH and stayed in the right-hand lane.  Before long, the rains eased and we made to our destination with minor periods of lite rain.

Setting up in the rain

It is not fun.  That is all I can say.

As we could not get proper alignment of the site we ended up being a little too much to one side of the site.  This did not prevent us from hooking up to shore power or the water outlet.  We were a little tight to a couple of trees and could not access the sewer connection.  The slide had enough room to extend fully, the AC was kicking out cold air, dinner was on the table, and life is good.  Tomorrow, weather permitting, we would move the rig to sit in a better position within our campsite.

What to do on a rainy weekend?

As this was our second trip in Chateau Sugaree, we were still in move-in mode.  While most things were brought into the rig on our maiden voyage, there were new things to organize and find a proper home.  While this did not take too long, it had to be done.

After a long week and a stressful drive in the rainstorm, we spent the rest of the evening relaxing, talking and spending time with the grumble.  As we could not sit out by a campfire, we decided to call it an early night.  It didn’t take long for the pitter-patter of the rain on the roof to allow us to fall fast asleep.

Saturday morning came and fortunately, the rain was taking a break.  This allowed us to get the dogs out for a morning potty run before breakfast.  After the dogs ate, bowls and kitchen counter cleaned it was time for coffee and tea.  Yes, we got all this done without our morning coffee and tea – and everyone survived.  It didn’t take long for the grey clouds to move back in and the rain to start up again.

By this point, the humans were getting hungry.  So we made eggs, toast, and turkey sausage.  After cleaning up from our breakfast it was time to do the prep work for chili.  That was going to be our dinner Saturday night.  We heard great things about the Instant Pot, so we bought one last summer and love having it in the RV.  We browned the meat and drained off the excess grease. Then cut up the vegetables – did I tell you how nice it is to have a little extra counter top space?  Put the Instant Pot into slow cooker mode and dumped everything in, and put the cover on.  It was not long before the RV was filled with the wonderful smells of the chili cooking. YUM!

Saturday night the rain had let up enough that we could get a fire going and enjoy the night air.

Entertainment system

The original owners did not replace the old tube style TV.  They did, however, install a surround sound system in the living room and a small flat screen TV in the bedroom.  The TV antenna, cable feed, etc are housed in a cabinet over the front dash with the TV in front of and over the co-pilot’s seat.  The wires in the cabinet next to the TV was a jungle.  So I spent a little time trying to trace some the cables and just generally organizing the mess.  This is the first step in getting upgrading the entertainment system.

Lesson Learned

Get out of the RV and walk the site prior to trying to back into, especially at twilight or after sunset.  The mirrors and backup camera do not give you all of the information you need.

In the end

In the end, we had a great weekend.  Learned a lot about our new to us RV and get some time to relax and just enjoy time with each other.

Do You Have A Disaster Plan?

As Hurricane Irma approached Florida we spent a lovely weekend at Home d’Pug RV.  However, our thoughts and discussion led to a conversation on what should we do in case of a natural disaster such as a hurricane.  The conversation got into much detail.

Unfortunately, neither of us was smart enough to memorialize it on paper.  This blog post is part of our effort to memorialize our plan.  Hopefully, it will spur you to give it some thought and devise your own plan.

As with any good plan, it is not done once, put on a shelf with the hope of never needing it.  It should be reviewed and updated periodically.  This is important because things change.

The discussions primarily focused on a predictable event, i.e. a hurricane.  We started asking the big picture questions.  Where we at home, Home d’Pug RV, or somewhere else?  How much time did we have?  Are all of the pets with us?  What do we need to take with us?  These questions ended up in the formation of an outline of a plan that looks like this.

Location – Home
  • Gather extra food for the cat and dogs along with a bowl for each and water
  • Clothes for the humans
  • Important papers – checkbooks, credit cards, titles to vehicles, etc.
  • Pack both cars
  • Jeff takes the vehicle that is towable by the RV and heads to get the RV
  • Rachel takes the pets, foods, etc. and gets her mom and then heads to our pre-designated meeting spot
  • When Jeff reaches the RV, he secures the best he can the things he cannot take, moves the stuff from the car to the RV, sets up the vehicle to be towed and heads to the designated meeting point
  • Once we meet up we then decide if we need to move further away from the problem or we can find accommodations close to where we met.
  • All vehicles and the RV have multiple power adapters for cell phones to keep them charged
Location – Home d’Pug RV
  • We secure the things we cannot take with us from the campground
  • Prep the RV to travel
  • If we have both cars at the campground (a usual occurrence), hook one to the RV and Rachel will follow the RV home
  • Gather extra food for the cat and dogs along with a bowl for each and water
  • Clothes for the humans
  • Important papers – checkbooks, credit cards, titles to vehicles, etc.
  • Pack the car being driven and the RV
  • Rachel takes the pets, foods, etc. and gets her mom and then heads to our pre-designated meeting spot
  • Once we meet up we then decide if we need to move further away from the problem or we can find accommodations close to where we met.
  • All vehicles and the RV have multiple power adapters for cell phones to keep them charged

While this is our starting point.  I have set up an annual reminder in my date book to review and update.

Do you have a Disaster Plan?


Indian Summer And No Air Conditioning

It always seems that as autumn comes to Eastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas the temperature drops and the leaves start to change color.  Then, without warning, the heat and humidity return for one last gasp of summer.

Normally, this would not be a big deal.  Except, this year as the temps and humidity head up our AC at home died.  We learned this when we returned home on Sunday night after spending a nice weekend at Home d’Pug RV.   We could have suffered through the next few days until it was fixed, but the pugs would not have survived the higher temperatures.  This was especially true of our two forever fosters – Casey Jones and Maggie – who both have a collapsing larynx.

After the 2-1/2 hour drive home we packed the pugs and Tiger, our cat, (Yes! we also have a cat), additional dog, cat food, litter, litter pan, additional clothing we made the return trip to the Poconos.  Finally got back to the RV around 12:30 in the morning.  There we stayed the entire week.  I drove the two hours each way to work every day.

The AC motor was replaced on Wednesday.  We decided since the week as just about over, why not stay until Sunday.  This meant we spent 10 days at Home d’Pug RV.  Two adults, six pugs and one cat living in a 31-foot motorhome.

Tiger’s Big RV Adventure

Tiger and Casey Jones

Tiger has been with us for over 10 years now.  She has moved from one home to the next and just rolled with the punches.  As the pugs started to come into our life she would leave them alone for the most part.  We did not take her to the RV as we were not sure how she would adapt to the small space with two humans and 6 pugs.   Of course, there was also the fear that she would get out which would not be good as she is an indoor only cat.  But the situation necessitated that she come along.

Tiger with the grumble

Much to our surprise (it really should not have surprised us), she just rolled with it.  We unloaded the cars, set up her litter pan, food and water dishes and let her out.  Tiger looked around and gave everything the once over.  By this time we were exhausted and I had to get up early to go to work.  Throughout the night, you could hear Tiger moving around, but no more than at home.

By early Monday morning, she had staked out the copilot’s seat as her own.  This is where you could find her asleep most of the day.  Her food and water were up on the covered stove top.  This way the pugs could not get to it and she could eat in peace.  Before long, she figured out the best way to get there was to hop up on the dining table and then make the short leap to the stove top.  She even found time to spend with the pugs on the sofa bed.

It got us thinking that maybe Tiger would do OK coming with us to the RV on our weekend trips.  Will need to plan out where to keep her litter pan, etc. so they are not in the way.  That will be our winter research project.

Keeping them behind the fence

The campground managers, who live on site, have two Papillons and had a fence built on their site.   In talking with Donna and J one quiet Sunday afternoon, they suggested that we do the same.  One of the grounds crew built theirs and we were welcome to approach Kevin to do the same on our site.

After talking with Kevin, we made a deal to have a fence built on our site.  It is not a normal in a fence as there are no posts dug into the ground.  Rather, it sits on top of the ground.  This means we need to find another way to support the longer runs.  This is still a work in progress.

Having the fenced in area allows us a lot more freedom in allowing the pugs to join us outside – especially as the weather becomes more comfortable for them.  The best thing about the fenced in area is at potty time we can just open the door and let the kids run out.  Ollie and Ming are a little slow in getting with the program.  They are eager to go outside.  However, both still look forward to going for a walk to do their business.

Having the fence has become a must for us if we are planning on staying in any one spot for an extended period with the pugs.  This fence has sections so it can be unassembled and moved to another site or campground.  We still use one of our x-pens to keep the dogs away from the fire ring when we have a campfire going.  The fire ring is one corner (not too close) of the fenced in area and we use the x-pen to block off that area.  It has worked great.  Of course, with any campfire, we keep a close eye on the grumble to make sure they don’t get behind the x-pen and near the fire ring.

Renovations ahead

We have planned an animal-free weekend for the first weekend of October.  It will be good to have some quality alone time.  The interior is also going to get a couple of renovations we have planned.

The kitchen area is going to get a new backsplash.  The carpets in the living room and bathroom are going to be replaced with vinyl flooring.  More on the renovations next time.

In Memorium

As we have talked about before, we forever foster two pugs for the rescue we founded.  Both have collapsing larynx.  Maggie came to the rescue in early June 2017 and underwent major surgery to fix her stomach that slipped past her diaphragm.  It was after the surgery that we learned about the collapsing larynx and she became a Philly Pug & Short Nose Rescue Angel pug.

Monday (10/2/17) morning Maggie was having a very difficult time breathing and was in distress.  From the beginning, we knew our time with her was limited. With great sadness, we helped her across the bridge.  We did all we could for her.   Our hearts are shattered.

We hope you are having fun at the bridge our sweet Maggie Moo Moo.  We love you so very much.

Til we meet again.    ❤️💔😪😪



Labor Day Holiday Weekend – 2017

The unofficial end of summer started with a cool blast.

Tuesday we both had to be back in the city for work and early appointments so we could not stay over Monday night, which we would normally do.  To enjoy as much of the Labor Day weekend we decided to head up to Home d’Pug RV on Thursday night.  By the time we arrived, it was already dark.  It was quiet and peaceful.  This is what we love about our spot in the Poconos.  We settled in and relaxed a little before turning in for bed.

I had to get up early in the morning and drive down to my office for a short day.  We had no water in the rig until late Saturday morning.  (More on this a little later).  So I got up early, went to the shower house and got dress and left for work.  The pugs did not get up with me so Rachel and the pugs got to sleep for a little while longer.

About the cool blast.  After weeks in the 80’s and 90’s with high humidity, Friday morning was something we were not accustomed to.  When I awoke it was 41 degrees.  A very brisk way to start the day.  This made things nice for the pugs, especially Casey Jones and Maggie who both have collapsing larynx.

Holiday Weekend Officially Starts

The unofficial tradition at my day job is that we get to leave early on Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Generally, I can get out of the office by 3:00 in the afternoon and be with Rachel and the grumble by 6:00~6:30 depending on traffic.  This Friday the boss closed the office at 2 and I was up to Delaware Water Gap / Pocono Mountain KOA by a little after 5:00.

Our campsite is next four sites that are generally rented by the night.  This means we have different neighbors every weekend.  Often, two or three or even all four sites are rented to an extended family or group of friends.  This weekend, all four sites were rented to a related group.  Well, things did not get off to a good start.  They did not show up until very late – sometime after 10 pm.  They were tent campers.  This means that from 10 pm until almost 1 am they were making all kinds of noise setting up their tents, blowing up air mattresses and shining lights into the windows of our RV.

They were an annoying group for most of the rest of weekend, but we did not complain.  Not wanting to start any issues with them, we tried to let it slide.  Maybe we were wrong in not saying anything to the group or management.  Will have to think about how best to handle this type of situation going forward.

No Water To Start The Weekend

As has been noted in earlier posts, our campsite has water and power, but no sewer hookup.  This means two things.  First, we have to manage our gray and black tanks levels, and, second, have the tanks pumped out.  Normally, we can get through the weekend without overloading the gray and black tanks.  However, when we get pumped out or dump our tanks in a sewer connection, the gate to the gray tank would drip a little.  We were told about this a couple of times by the guy who does the pump outs.  Being as the Tiffin Allegro is an older rig, I was afraid that I would run into something I could not handle.  So this weekend we called our mobile RV repair guy to come and replace the black and gray tank gates.

While he was there, I had him replace the water faucets in both the shower and bathroom sink.  While these were not major changes, it makes things a little more useful.  Our old shower head had a fixed mount.  You could point it in any direction within the shower, but could not get everywhere.  With the new faucet, we also installed a hand held shower head.  This makes rinsing off both yourself and the shower walls so much easier.

The bathroom faucet head was too long for the size of the sink.  Would wash your hands or brush your teeth and water would splatter everywhere.  The new faucet has a shorter head and the splash stays within the sink for the most part.

These were not major upgrades.  However, they make life at Home d’Pug RV a little nicer.

Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day Weekend.

Our Tech Solution – Staying Connected

You don’t need to say it!  There are 100’s of articles on the internet explaining the “best” ways to improve wifi and cellular service.  Well, here is our solution (so far).

Rachel and I run Philly Pug & Short Nose Rescue.  We also have an online store, RSQ K9 Products that sells products for canines and raise funds for rescue organizations around the country.  One of our key operating Guidestones is to be responsive to our followers, supporters, and customers.  This means being connected even at Home d’Pug RV.  We do not stay online 24/7, but, try and respond in a timely fashion.

As a general rule, campground wifi is useless unless you are close to the store/office or a repeater (if the campground has installed any).  Wifi is a line of sight technology.  Our site is relatively close to the camp store where the wifi emanates from.  Unfortunately, we are on the down side of a small hill and cannot “see” the Wifi too well.  One solution would be a wifi booster.  This maybe the route we take at some future time, but for now, we are going to rely on a cellular solution.

So what is in our tech tool kit?

  • An Apple iPhone (each)
  • An Apple iPad (each)
  • Dell laptop computer (Windows 7) (Rachel)
  • Asus laptop computer (Windows 10) (Jeff)
  • ZTE Mobley VM6200 4G LTE WIFI Hotspot
  • weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Cell Phone Signal Booster

Not going to talk about the phones or laptop computers.  Will spend the rest of this article talking about the ZTE Mobley and weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Cell Phone Signal Booster.

ZTE Mobley VM6200 4G LTE WIFI Hotspot*

I know your first question is what the heck is this device???  The ZTE Mobley* is a mobile hotspot device that allows you to connect up to ten Wi-Fi devices while on the road.  No charging or cables required.  

To use as a hotspot in your car just plug the Mobley into your vehicle’s (post-1995) OBD-II port and your Hotspot is live.  (You need to get a SIM card and have it activated first.)  The device is supposed to be for cars, but with an optional power supply*, you can use it anywhere.  This is how we use it in the RV.

After two visits to the AT&T store and a phone call with the vendor from whom we purchased the Mobley, it is up and working like a charm.  Spent a Monday at Home d’Pug RV answering email and maintaining several websites all on my laptop.  Speeds are not as fast as our cable connection at home.  However, it was very workable as both Rachel and I were able to stay connected with no real noticeable slow downs.

AT&T currently offers a special standalone unlimited data plan for the Mobley.  It is only $20/month (plus taxes and fees).  After 22GB of data use AT&T may slow you down, but will not charge you extra for the data usage.  As we don’t stream many video or movies, this should not be a problem.  Besides, we have 15GB of shared data on our iPhones we could use if the connection gets to be too slow.

This is a tool that will stay in our tech tool box for some time to come.

weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Cell Phone Signal Booster*

Using the Mobley or our cell phones as hotspots are only effective if we have a good, strong cell signal.  To help ensure that we have a strong, reliable signal we decided to investigate a cell phone signal booster.  After much research, we decided to try the weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Cell Phone Signal Booster* from Wilson Electronics.

weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Cell Phone Signal Booster* is reported to do exactly what the name implies – boost the 4G cell phone signal.  According to the Wilson website:  “The weBoost Drive 4G-X RV from Wilson Electronics is the most powerful RV cell phone signal booster in USA & Canada.

  • Boosts 3G & 4G LTE for any vehicle
  • Works for all phones & cellular devices, all major US & Canadian carriers.
  • Complete kit: all parts included, easy install.
  • Most powerful RV signal booster.
  • Better talk, text & internet guaranteed.

With up to +50 dB gain of power, it greatly enhances 3G & 4G LTE cell service for all your wireless cellular devices (smartphones, tablets, notebooks, hotspots, etc.) on any carrier in North America.

There are no monthly fees nor does it need to be connected to any internet source (wifi or landline) to work. It simply amplifies your existing in-building cellular service up to 32X for better talk, text, and faster internet.”

Our weBoost Drive was just delivered and will be installed this coming weekend.  I will update this post with our thoughts on this device after we have had the chance to use it for a little while.

*Affiliate Link



Mosquito bites – Some Home Remedies 

In our last article, we talked about how bad the mosquitos have been this summer.

OK, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot get away from them.  Having mosquito bites are something that we will have to live with for now.  So what to do about these bites when they do occur?  We thought that we would look at some home remedies for mosquito bites.

First, what is a mosquito “bite.”  Actually, it is not really a bite.  Mosquitoes inject a proboscis, a tiny straw looking thing, to suck up tiny amounts of your blood and release anti-clotting agents. The immune system reacts by releasing histamine.  It is the histamine that creates a small, itchy bump.  So the simple answer is an antihistamine.  Best would be a cream or lotion applied directly on the bite.  But what if you don’t have any available?

  • Hold a refrigerated, dampened green tea bag on the bite.
  • Try a dab of honey because it has an antiseptic ingredient.
  • Putting Scotch tape (or a bandage) on the site will help remind you not to scratch, especially at night.
  • Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties, so this could help the itch. For even more relief, stash your aloe vera gel in the fridge, since the cold will also help with the itchiness.”
  • Preparation H takes care of swelling and itching.
  • Rubbing alcohol (also witch hazel and tea tree oil).  If it burns, it just means that it is working!
  • Rub a basil leaf on a mosquito bite will help stop the itching.
  • Try using regular Listerine for itchy bug bites.
  • Soaking in a soothing oatmeal bath.
  • Eat raw garlic — however, studies claim that a topical blend using garlic and beeswax may be even more effective.
  • A very hot bath in a tub filled with water and 2 1/2 cups of vinegar.

How do we protect the pugs

As any responsible dog (and even cat owner) should do, all of our dogs receive a monthly oral heartworm preventative.  They get this on the first of the month.  We chose the first of the month so it is easy to remember.  Turn the page on your calendar, the dogs get their heartworm preventative.  As for fleas, tick, mosquitos and other insects, we use a combination of ‘natural’ products.

We are making every effort to keep harsh chemicals off of our dogs and out of their food.  After researching alternatives to the commercial flea and tick preventatives we have come up with a two prong approach.  Everyone gets a few drops, depending on weight of Earth Animal Flea & Tick Program Herbal Drops in their food daily.

First, everyone gets a few drops, depending on weight of Earth Animal Flea & Tick Program Herbal Drops in their food daily.  We have found this to be very effective.  The grumble started with the Earth Animal Flea & Tick Program Herbal Powder**.  This worked well for many months until one of the dogs could not tolerate it.  She would puke after eating.  We have been using the drops for over a year now with no side effects.

The second prong is the Earth Animal Flea & Tick Program Spray.  All of the dogs get sprayed either before we leave for Home d’Pug RV or shortly after we arrive.  If it seems “extra buggy” they may get a second spray over the weekend.  The pugs may also get a spray at home.

Our two prong approach seems to work for our grumble.

**Affiliate Link

We Have a Toad – Our Towing Set Up

Been asked about the specifics of what we use to tow our Honda CR-V behind the Home d’Pug RV.  So I thought I would take this opportunity to explain our set up in some detail.  First, what is a TOAD?

As in most worlds, there are numerous slang terms.  The RV world is no different.  The vehicle being towed behind a motor home is often referred to as a toad or dingy.

There are a couple of different ways to tow a vehicle behind your RV (we will save that whole discussion for another day).  Our 2001 Honda can be towed 4-down.  This means that all four tires are on the ground.

There are several items required to safely tow a vehicle behind your motorhome.  Our equipment includes a trailer hitch on the RV, tow bar, base plate on the Honda, safety cables, tow lights and supplemental braking system.  The first step was to select a manufacturer of the base plate and tow bar.  It is important to note that most manufacturers have proprietary methods of hooking the tow bar to the base plate on the toad.  We decided to use the Blue Ox system.

We decided to use the Blue Ox system.  This was based on numerous customer reviews and comments in several different RV discussion boards.


Trailer Hitch

Trailer hitch device attached to the chassis of a vehicle for towing.  Trailer hitches come in two main configurations: receiver type and fixed-drawbar type. Receiver-type hitches consist of a portion that mounts to the frame of the vehicle that has a rearward-facing opening that accepts removable ball mounts, hitch bike racks, cargo carriers, or other hitch mounted accessories.  Fixed-drawbar hitches are typically built as one piece, have an integrated hole for the trailer ball, and are generally not compatible with aftermarket hitch accessories.

The trailer hitch was already installed on the 1989 Allegro when we purchased her.  The receiver has a 2″ square opening that receives the tow bar.

Tow Bar and Safety Cables

The tow bar is the most recognizable part of a towing system. It is designed to link your car to your tow vehicle (RV) so that it can be safely flat towed. The function of the tow bar is the same regardless of model or manufacturer. The differences lie in the type of mount, towing capacity and basic design.  Beyond those aspects, there are a wide variety of features associated with the various models (we will not go into that here).

Blue Ox Aladdin Tow Bar

After doing an extensive amount of research on the different manufacturers and models we selected the Blue Ox BX4325 Aladdin 7,500lb Tow Bar**.  The Honda weighs a little more than 3,000 pounds GVW.  Figured a 7,500-pound tow bar would give us a nice safety margin.

The tow bar slips into the receiver and is held in place by a hitch lock.  The two “arms” then are connected to the base plate’s attachment tabs and secured with tow bar pins.

Blue Ox BX4325 Aladdin 7,500lb Tow Bar** tow bar also has telescoping arms as opposed to fixed arms.Tow bars with adjustable arms are easier to hook up. You do not have to drive your toad into an exact position to connect your towing system rather; you pull the telescoping arm out or push it back in, to get the length you need.

A pair of safety cables is used in case the connection between the RV and vehicle being towed fails.  On either side of the hitch receiver, there are “loops” to which you can secure the safety cable to.  The base plate has two corresponding “loops” to connect the other end of the safety cables to the toad.  It is a good practice to cross the cables so the vehicle does not sway across lanes of traffic in case of a failure.

Base Plate

Blue Ox Base Plate for 2001 Honda CR-V

A vehicle that is being towed requires custom-designed base plates that specifically fit its frame. Once installed on your car’s frame, the base plates provide attachment points for your tow bar.  This is the only piece in the system that is specific to the vehicle being towed.

Since we are towing a 2001 Honda CR-V we needed the Blue Ox Blue Ox BX2221 Base Plate**.  The manufacturer’s web site will help you select the right base plate for your vehicle.  Since a base plate is attached directly to the frame of the car, we had our mechanic do the installation.

Tow Lights

It is the law in every state that a towed vehicle have indicator lights.  In our opinion, it just makes common sense.  Tow lights let drivers around you know when you are braking or want to turn – YES, you should always be using your turn signals.

One type of system is to have a system installed in your vehicle that will use the existing lights on the vehicle being towed.  The system we choose has magnetically mounted lights that we stick to the roof of the Honda.  In either type of system, the motorhome provides the power and inputs from a connection point on the motorhome.  This connection point is usually located near the trailer hitch.

You must make sure that the connector to your tow light system matches the connector on your RV.  The most common types of connectors are 4-pin flat connector, 4-pin round connector, 6-pin round connector, 7-pin round connector, and 7-pin flat connector.  The connector on our Allegro is a 6-pin round connector.

We decided to go with magnetically mounted lights.  Our choice was the Larson LED Tow Lights With Magnetic Base** with the 6-pin round connector, model HDTL-LED-2X-M-30.   The Larson Electronics describes the HDTL-LED-2X-M-30, “a wired magnetic tow light consisting of (2) round 2lb tow lights, (2) 90# temporary magnetic mounts, a 30ft standard cable ending in a customizable trailer plug, and 7” of wire space between the two tow lights. The durable LED lights on this unit are stop, trail and turn capable and emit a very visible red light that is very clearly signaled to other drivers, helping prevent rear end accidents and other potential road oversights.”

Supplemental Braking System

What is a supplemental braking system and why do I need one?  A supplemental or auxiliary braking system helps shorten the overall stopping distance and keeps your legal with all North American towing laws.  Most states require that any towed vehicle have its own braking system.

We purchased the Hopkins 9499 BrakeBuddy Classic Braking Package**.  The package includes the brake actuary, breakaway system, and alert system.  The brake actuary sits the floor between the driver’s seat and the brake pedal.  The actuary is then clipped to the brake pedal.  When the system senses that the RV is slowing, it will “push” the brake pedal and help slow the toad.

The breakaway system will apply the brake to the towed vehicle should it become separated from your motorhome.  The alert system will provide you an audible notification in the RV should you have it installed.  Installation of the alert system is simple.  A transmitter is connected to the BrakeBuddy in the towed vehicle.  The corresponding receiver is plugged into a cigarette lighter or other powered 12v socket.  A cord is connected between a pull-pin on the front of the toad and the RV.  Should the pull-pin get pulled out, the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver that gives the driver an audible alarm.

This part of the overall system is not only the law but helps everyone on the road to travel safely.

In a future post we will talk about how all of this fit together and some lessons we learned.

**Affiliate Link


4th of July – Sit Down & Patch My Bones

Ollie misses his dad

After almost two weeks on the road, it was time to get away for some serious rest and relaxation.  As the pugs were not with us on “tour”, we felt they deserved some quality time with us.  So we went to Home d’Pug RV from June 30th to July 9th.  Actually, Rachel and the grumble stay up there all that time.  I had to come home for work July 5th through the 7th.  After work on the 7th, I made my way back to the Poconos.

I had to come home for work July 5th through the 7th.  After work on the 7th, I made my way back to the Poconos.  Ollie really missed his dad while I was away.  He decided to sleep in one of the captain’s chairs.

Being an extra long holiday weekend, the campground was packed from Friday until check out on July 4th.  Generally, the weekenders who camp around us are not a problem.  Fortunately, we were able to get the much-needed rest and spend quality time with the pugs.  They were not complaining.


The DELAWARE WATER GAP / POCONO MOUNTAIN KOA is about a mile down the road from Shawnee Mountain Ski Area.  As part of the holiday festivities, on July 3rd Shawnee had a fireworks display.  Fireworks may be beautiful, however, many dogs are scared by the loud noises the make.  Knowing this we had a plan.

grumble 7/4/2017Before it got dark out, all the pugs went for their final walk of the night and got their treats.  Everyone snuggled in on the sofa (laid flat in its bed configuration) and we put on a movie.  The volume was turned up much louder than normal in an effort drown out some of the noise from the fireworks.  It worked mostly.

Ming, Rosie, Ollie, and Sugaree (who is deaf) all snuggled down and slept through most of the noise.  Casey Jones was another case.  She was terrified by all the noise outside.  Finally, I was able to get her to snuggle into my shoulder and she settled down but was still on edge.  After about 45 minutes the fireworks ended.

We will have to rethink staying in the RV when Shawnee has fireworks planned.


bear walking along 209

Bear walking along Route 209

It’s Sunday, July 2nd around 10 am and we decide to go to one of our local favorite diners, Mullers, for a late breakfast.  As we are making our way South on Route 209 traffic starts to slow.  I look to my right to say something to Rachel and the only thing that comes out of my mouth is – Bear!  Rachel looks at me “like, yeah, right!”  She realizes that I am looking past her and she turns to her right and guess what she saw.  YUP!  A bear walking in an open field right next to Route 209.  Rachel quickly grabs her cell phone and gets a couple of pictures of the bear.

One of the things that we like most about our camp site is that it faces a wooded area.  Often, we get to see or at least hear some of the wild life that wonders close to if not into the campgrounds.  We have seen deer, wild turkeys, chipmunks, squirrels and a great number of different types of birds.

Doe through screen window

Wild turkey on hill behind rig


On Tour – What A Long Strange Trip

Back from seeing Dead and Company and time to catch everyone up on our goings on.  Here are some highlights and misadventures.

On Tour with Dead & Company (Kind of)

dead-company-2017-tour band pictureAs mentioned in a very earlier post, one of our goals with our RV was to travel to see concerts and music festivals.  If you don’t recall, let’s get you up to speed.

In December 2016 Dead & Company announced a summer tour.  As longtime Deadheads, we decided that our holiday gifts this year would be tickets to see several shows.  We got tickets to six shows.  The RV would be our home on the road and we would tow our 2001 Honda CR-V.  That was the plan anyway.

Towing the Honda CR-V

In order to make the plan work, we had to setup the Honda with a base plate, get a towbar, supplemental braking system, and towing lights.  After much research, we selected the Blue-Ox equipment.  All of the equipment was ordered, base plate installed (that is a story all by itself) and we were ready to hit the road.


The one thing that I forgot to check was the towbar fitting into the hitch on the back of the Allegro.  As (our) luck would have it, it did not fit due to a large amount of rust in the receiver of the hitch.   Therefore, we had to resort to plan B.  Plan B was to leave the RV at our site in the Poconos and drive the Honda to the first threes shows in Burgettstown, PA, and Boston, MA.  On our way home from Boston we picked up the RV and took it to our regular mechanic in Philly to get the hitch fixed in time to take the RV towing the Honda to Bristow, VA.  Thankfully, it was done in time.

Back to the plan

Left Thursday morning with the Honda in tow for the show that night in Bristow, VA at Jiffy Lube Live.  Life was great again!!!  This until we got into the Washington, D.C. area.  Let me just say, traffic is a nightmare.  Don’t know how people do it to commute on a daily basis.  The worst part is trying to change lanes in a 31′ RV with a car being towed behind.  Most people just would not give us a break.  Next time we travel this part of the country will find a different route or plan on going through in the middle of the night.


We spent Thursday night at the Prince William Forest RV Campground in Dumfries, Virginia.  We choose this campground because it was only about 30 minutes away for Jiffy Lube Live and a very easy drive.  For the little time we spent there, it seems like a very nice place.  Very quiet.  Not a lot of kids evident.  You are right on the edge of the forest and close to hiking trails.  The staff was very friendly, courteous and helpful.  Will have to return when we can spend a little time – of course avoiding the D.C. traffic nightmare.

Back to the Poconos

Friday was our travel day.  We drove the RV towing the Honda through some of the worst traffic I have been in ever.  In trying to get around Washington D.C. we could not make one of the left lane exits and was forced into downtown D.C. traffic.  All in all, it was not as bad as it could have been.  Finally, made it back to I-95 North.  Our next traffic nightmare was a couple of miles South the Baltimore Harbor tunnels.  Traffic was moving at a snail’s pace.  We finally got through the tunnel and traffic moved at a “normal” pace again.

Hit the Delaware state line and decided it was time to stretch our legs and grab a quick bite to eat.  Once we got going again it was not long until traffic returned to a snail’s pace.  Later on, we learned that there is construction on I-295 that backed up onto I-95.  After the split between I-295 and I-95 traffic moved smoothly again.

After more than 12 hours (including stops for gas and food) we finally made it back to our seasonal spot.  Had a little difficulty getting into our site there were several cars parked around it.  This prevented me from having the room swing the rig around and back into our site.  Once the cars finally moved I was able to back the rig in “like a boss” as one of the tent campers near us said.

Back on tour

Once we got everything setup we crashed.  Spent Saturday morning just chilling.  Early in the afternoon, we drove the Honda into Queens, NY to see the show at Citi Field.  After the show, we headed back to Home d’Pug RV in the Poconos.

Sunday afternoon we left the Poconos for our final stop on the Dead & Company 2017 Summer tour in Camden, NJ.  After the show, we headed “Back home, sit down and patch (our) bones, and get back truckin’ on.”


“I’d rather be in some dark hollow”

🎶”I’d rather be in some dark hollow where the sun don’t ever shine.  Then to be in some big city…*🎶

It was a cold, damp weekend at the Home d’Pug RV this weekend.  Eager to get out of the big city we decided to not let the weather hold us back.  On Friday Rachel had the day off.  She took the opportunity to sleep a little later than normal (lucky girl).  By late morning she had the car packed, the pugs in their safe places within the car, and was on the road to the Poconos.

Meanwhile, I was in the salt mines working hard.  (Yes, I know, “Poor Jeff”)  After work, I headed up the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike.  An hour and a half later I joined Rachel and the grumble.  We were all so happy to be at Home d’Pug RV for the weekend.

Repair needed to be made

Since we bought the rig last July one of the nagging problems that needed to be fixed was the temperature and pressure relief valve on the hot water heater.  If it drips slightly you most likely need to replace the valve.  The temperature and pressure relief valve on our hot water heater did not drip.  Water poured out of it when the temperature and pressure increased.

Have you ever looked at the location of the temperature and pressure relief valve on the Suburban hot water heater?  There is not much room to work in there.  Also, not sure if I had the right tools for the job.  So we called in a professional to do the repair.  Cost a pretty penny to have a mobile RV repair person come to our site.   It was worth it in the time not spent and aggravation of having to break camp to take the rig to a local (relative term) repair shop.  Sit around while they did the repair.  Then come back and reestablish camp.  There are better ways to spend your time away from the salt mines.

Finding a mobile RV repair person was a little more difficult than one would have expected.  The managers of the KOA gave us a recommendation of a repair service.  Called them and left several voicemails.  Tried emailing them, no response.  Then I went to the great equalizer – Google’s search engine.  Found Trailside Mobile RV Service on Thursday afternoon.  Willing to wait for a time he would be able to schedule an appointment, Tim was gracious enough to squeeze us in on Saturday morning.   An hour later, the wallet lighter we had hot water for the first time.  Life was good.

Time to Relax

Saturday we ran a couple of errands, had breakfast and came back to Home d’Pug RV.  While the rain subsided we set up some plant pots around the site.  Added blocks to the base of our canopy to help stabilize it in the wind.  The rain started to pick up after we walked and feed the grumble.  The entire weekend the rain would stop and start.  We got a chance to start a campfire, share a bottle of wine and enjoy some of the nature around us.

Pump out time

RV tank gauges are notorious for not be accurate.  The tank indicators on our 89 Allegro don’t work at all.  Tried cleaning them.  Still nothing.  Not sure if it worth the time, effort and expense to put in new sensors or just let it go.  Time will tell.

As part of our seasonal rental, we get two pump outs a month as we do not have a sewer hookup on our site.  After doing the Sunday breakfast dishes we asked the office to schedule a pump out of the black and gray tanks before next weekend.

Lesson of week

Spent a good part of the balance of Sunday morning vacuuming under the sofa and dinette benches.  Looks like these areas have not been cleaned is a while (a long while).  I went to vacuum the bedroom area and noticed the carpet in front of the bed was wet.  First thought was that one of the pugs peed back there.  This was not the case.  We discovered the low point in the RV’s gray water system – the shower drain.

Evidently, the gray tank was filled past capacity and backed into the shower and out.  The good news is, the pugs were not in trouble and there was no new leak in the water system.

The lesson learned

When you think it is time to empty your black and gray tanks, it is too late.

The calendar now has a reminder to call for a pump out every other week and after a long weekend.

The takeaway from the weekend

Even if things go wrong.  🎶”I’d rather be in some dark hollow where the sun don’t ever shine.  Then to be in some big city …”*🎶


* Dark Hollow – written by Bill Browning • Copyright © Carlin America Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

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