Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Introducing Xscapers!

You may be familiar with Escapees RV Club, but have you heard of Xscapers

Xscapers is an RV lifestyle group within Escapee’s that aims to appeal to a rapidly growing different demographic of RV’ers.  And, RV-A-GOGO is elated to be a part of this great new venture. 

No longer are RV’ers retired couples hitting the open road after a life of raising kids and working from 9-5.  Today’s full-time RV’ers now include a younger generation of eager wanderers working from the road and raising families, all while embracing the freedom that comes from a nomadic lifestyle.    

Travis and Melanie Carr, the founders of Xscapers are no strangers to the RV world as their grandparents, Kay and Joe Peterson, were the founders of Escapee's.  Like their grandparents, the Carr's live, work and raise their son on the road full-time. In talking with other RV'ers it became apparent that the younger generation was not involved in Escapee's because the club was not meeting the needs or offering benefits that appealed to this new demographic of RV'ers. So the Carr’s set out to create “a support network geared toward a new generation of RV’ers who have already, or are aspiring to, hit the road pursuing a full-time or part-time nomadic lifestyle” and Xscapers was born.

Annual membership is a low $29.95 (plus a one-time $10 enrollment fee) and comes with plenty of great benefits.  Escapees has been around for 36 years so with that experience and listening to the needs of younger generation RV’ers, Xscapers offers benefits most needed and wanted.  Benefits include articles and blogs, mapping tools, job board, discussion forums, parking services, mail service, Escapees magazine, and much more. 

We are super excited to be one of the “Featured Bloggers” joining a cast of wonderful blog writers.  Here you will find articles on various topics that enlighten you on RV modifications, travel destinations, RV lifestyle, RV safety, financial and legal advice, traveling with kids, working on the road, and plenty of other articles that will interest any RV'er.   

If you haven’t already, take a look at Xscapers and see if the program is right for you.  Click here for a link to the Xscapers information kit.  Safe travels and hope to see you as a fellow Xscaper.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

RV Park Review–Kentucky Horse Park (Lexington, Kentucky)

Website:  http://www.kyhorsepark.com/visit/park-info-resources/khp-campground

Location:  4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, Kentucky 40511

Date:  March 2015

Price: $32/night (Fri & Sat), $31/night (Sun-Thurs) for improved site with water and electric

Site(s): 74, 102, 164

Overall:  We really liked this park.  It is fairly large with 200 sites (that can accommodate 45’ RV’s) and nicely spread out.  There is ample space between and behind sites so you don’t feel like you are on top of your neighbors.  The campground is located on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park which is really spread out so there are ample places to walk.  In addition, the 12-mile Legacy Trail, a paved walking/biking trail, passed through the park leading to downtown Lexington. 

We were able to get 20+ antenna channels and great reception on our Verizon 4G phone.  There are some trees so satellite may be difficult at some sites. 
Roads and pads are paved.

133
Site Description:  All sites are paved and narrow with no discernable patio.  Some sites are grossly unlevel.  Picnic tables and fire pits accompany each site.  Sites have water and 50/30/20 amp electric but no sewer and there are places to dry camp.  Two separate dump stations with two dump sites are conveniently located as you exit/enter the campground.  There is no cable and the free Wi-Fi was spotty.

        124 065
             127 125

Amenities:  There is a camp store/registration office that sells food items, souvenirs, RV supplies, firewood, and even beer.  There are two large bathroom/shower houses that get mixed reviews for cleanliness.  It was clean when we first arrived but during the weekends when the park was full the staff could not keep up.  (Most of the mess was from disrespectful campers that did not clean up after themselves.)  There are two playground with jungle gyms, basketball courts, volleyball courts and indoor game rooms located in the bath houses.  Two laundry rooms are on-site but did not have very many washer/dryers for the size of the park. 

069070066

Surrounding Area:  The park sits between Lexington and Georgetown so it is pretty convenient to the downtown Lexington attractions.  Just 5-6 miles up the road is Georgetown which has all kinds of shopping (including big box stores) and restaurants.  There is a great BBQ restaurant a couple of miles away called Red State BBQ.

In addition to seeing the Horse Park, we toured the Toyota plant and Town Branch Distillery, visited Keenland Race Track, took a van tour of private horse parks and attended the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Equestrian Event and the National Reining Event. 

What We Liked:  We liked the fact that sites were well spaced and you had plenty of room.  Since the campground is adjacent to the horse park, it is convenient to walk over and visit the museums and watch horse events.  It is super convenient to I-75 being less than a mile away. 
The park is very big rig friendly with wide roads. 

The Not So Good:  The biggest drawback for us was not having sewer.  Most patios were a muddy/dirty mess.  In some instances, wood chips covered the bare ground which greatly improved the mess but not all spots were addressed.  The office is located in the camp store and there is no dedicated parking for RV’s checking-in - you essentially have to park your rig where ever you find a spot and block parking spaces. 

071
Spirit’s Two Cents: She loved it!  There was plenty of room to walk her around the campground and within the Horse Park.  There was so much green space and open fields that we were able to throw a ball for her and not disturb anyone.  A few small creeks with nice clear water were around and perfect for her to get a drink and cool off. 

087


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Still Horsing Around in Kentucky

The Kentucky Horse Park is known for their hosting of major equestrian events, one of which is the Rolex Kentucky 3-573Day Event.  The competition pitches horse and rider through a tough three day of varying events – dressage, cross country, and stadium jumping – all of which severely test the skill, horsemanship, and stamina of both horse and rider. 

The Rolex event (with a nice $300,000 purse) is the only Level 4 equestrian eventing competition held in the United States (and one of only 6 in the world) and draws top competitors from Europe, Canada, and the U.S.   Three-day eventing dates back to 1912 when the competition (called “The Militaire” at the time) was first introduced at the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden.  The tests were patterned after the masterful skill of military chargers where precision, obedience, training, stamina, and courage were needed by horsemen and horse as they marched into battle. 

Weeks leading up to the competition, preparations began in the horse park.  Jumps had to be built and placed, rings graded and leveled, courses marked off, signs put up, vendor tents erected, and food carts hauled in.  When the horses started arriving the excitement was felt. 

 218192333

On Thursday, hundreds of vendors opened and shoppers were ready to bust through the starting gate like horses at the race track.  Tack, footwear, saddles, riding crops, horse trailers, clothing, you name it and it was being scarfed up by a bunch of well-dressed horse enthusiasts with credit cards.  I scored a nice suede vest for $15!

222231235Anyone looking for an RV with great living quarters and a four stall trailer in the back?  The fancy RV will run you about $460K but if you want to add a trailer for your pick-up and more stalls you can get the matching trailer for another $100 grand.

Friday was the first day of competition which saw horse and rider elegantly glide around the ring in the dressage test.  Some would say watching dressage is like watching paint drying or grass growing.  But to serious equestrians this is a masterful harmonious movement of the horse demonstrating obedience, ability, and cooperation.  The elegance of dressage is in the riders ability to issue subtle commands that has the team artfully moving a set pattern of movements.
                   338247 302311321
British royalty was represented by Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Zara Phillips and High Kingdom.  They were certainly fan favorites and had a large following as they came to the warm up arena.  Unfortunately, Phillips scratched before her first event due to a minor injury to her horse.  The disappointment was evident.

Saturday’s cross country event held sheer excitement that could not be stopped by a predicted 90% chance of rain with possible severe storms.  This is the event that spectators love.  They line the course to get a glimpse of horse and riders racing by at 35 mph jumping over tremendous obstacles, galloping into water, and jumping through a ring of shrubbery.  Four miles and 28 solid obstacles stand to test the speed and jumping ability of the team.  Cross-country is not only the most exciting for spectators but the most important because of the penalty weight it carries in the competition that will affect the riders standing.

420421422423

The rider is judged on penalties (refusals, run-outs, dangerous riding, activation of a frangible device) and penalized for going over a certain time it takes to complete the course.  Three refusals/run-outs or fall of an athlete will cause elimination.  And when you see some of the obstacles, refusals seem likely.

437503526483516      517518
Horse and rider must compete in all three events.  If they are eliminated or electively pull out of an event they are out of the competition. The field dwindles sharply after the cross country event when some riders miss the jump sequence and realize penalty time with a drop in their standing. By the way, horses are veterinarian checked throughout the event to ensure they are sound and in good health to compete in the next days event.

                  542551
The final event was the Jumping Test.  The objective is to prove that on the day after jumping rigid obstacles at speed, horses can maintain the obedience to the rider necessary to cleanly jump at a controlled pace.  As opposed to the cross country test, these obstacles will fall down resulting in penalties.  Unfortunately, this event was sold out so we missed it.

In conjunction with the Rolex event was the Kentucky Reining Cup.  Reining is an event designed to showcase the maneuvers of a working ranch horse.  Competitors demonstrate a series of moves that include spins, circles, changing leads, running close to the fence without hesitation – and the most exciting maneuver – stopping.

         651664
A special thanks to event Board Member John Prayther who shared his enthusiasm about the event and generously provided us with tickets.  This was the first time either of us had attended a 3-day equestrian event such as the Rolex and we both agreed that it was tremendously fun.  I’m pretty sure we may put this event on our calendar for next year. 
And yes, Spirit did get to join in the fun.  Thanks for asking.

        109107
      064087





Monday, May 4, 2015

RV Park Review–White Acres Campground (Bardstown, Kentucky)

Website:   White Acres Campground

Location:  3022 Boston Road, HWY 62 West, Bardstown, Kentucky 40004

Date:  April 2015

Price:  $30 (this includes a 10% Good Sam or Senior discount)

Site #:  3

Overall:     Our first impression of this park was that we were not going to like it and we just didn’t get a good vibe.  The park is set in a large field (which we did like) but the gravel roads are very narrow with narrow sites that are crested in the center and not all are level.  There had been a lot of rain in the days prior to our visit so roads and sites were very muddy.  Site layout was unusual in that our site was a pull-in and right next to us was a back-in.  This meant that we were very close to a neighbor on one side and the patio side (which was quite wide) faced our other neighbor (see the picture under the Not So Good section). 

153
When we pulled in the office was closed so we went down to the campground to pick out a site. Pretty soon the owner (Mr. White) came down in a golf cart and told us to get settled and come pay later.  After a day or so the place started growing on us and we extended and then extended again and found ourselves staying nearly a week but primarily because there was so much to do around Bardstown.

During most of our stay, the park was not even a quarter full and we only had neighbors a couple of nights.  Most of the RV’ers were long-term and working on a fiber optics project in the area so the park was very quiet.     

Our site was fairly level but very narrow.  The previous rains had left some puddled areas along the roads and individual sites and roads very muddy and discourteous campers drove through the mud and caused major ruts. 

Site Description:      There are some 80 sites all with 100/50/30/20 amp, water, and sewer.  The pad length varies but the majority are large enough to fit a 45’ rig towing a car or trailer.  Sites are a mix of pull-in, pull-thrus and back-in’s.  There is no patio or fire pit but there is a picnic table and fires are permitted on gravel.  There is plenty of grass and a large shade trees in the middle section of the park.

There are two cabins (with a/c) on the property.

        470472
469474473

Amenities:      Amenities are not much to speak of.  The restrooms and showers are older and “rustic” with plywood doors.  There is free wifi at individual sites that worked well.  A 5,800 square-foot pavilion is onsite and hosts an annual bluegrass festival that is supposed to be really good.  There is a playground with swings and a jungle gym. 

479485482

While there is no cable the over-the-air antenna stations worked well.  Satellite reception is a mixed bag.  We were not able to get it with our fixed in-motion satellite at our site because of tree cover but others were able to get it with their dishes.

Surrounding Area:       The park is in a good location and just a few miles from downtown historic Bardstown.  (Click here for our post on Bardstown.)  Here you will find restaurants, grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, boutiques, antique shops, and everything else you could want.  There are also plenty of museums, Civil War sites, and fun and interesting activities.   

And then there is the bourbon.  Two distilleries (Barton 1792 and Willett) are located in Bardstown and others (Jim Beam, Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, Heaven Hill) within twenty miles.  (Click here for our post on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.)

What We Liked:      We became really comfortable in this park.  Loved the grassy field and were able to let Spirit chase a ball.  The convenient location to downtown and distilleries kept us busy everyday.   The park had full hook-ups which was a big plus for us since we were staying a week.  My Old Kentucky Home State Park is conveniently located in downtown Bardstown but just a few sites have 50 amp with sewer and many sites were short and not level. 

We loved the fact that our site looked into the field and not at someone else's rig. 

The Not So Good:     This park really needs to re-grade their roads and widen and level sites.  Narrow sites meant that we were walking through mud or grass to get to our car. 

476

Spirit’s Two Cents:      This RV park itself is not very big for walking dogs but if your dog likes to chase balls the open field is great.  Downtown Bardstown has a great off-leash dog park (appropriately named the “Bourbon City Bark Park”) with three good size runs and fresh water.  About 30 minutes away (near the Jim Beam Distillery) is the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest that has many miles of paved and rustic trails.  The forest is worth a visit even if you don’t have a dog.  There is a large visitor center, cafĂ©, large lake for fishing, education programs and much more.