G has a "swell" time kayaking

G has a "swell" time kayaking
G has a "swell" time on Lake Michigan in an inflatable canoe

Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico

Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico
Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico

Warren Dunes Sunset

Warren Dunes Sunset
Warren Dunes Sunset

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Redwood Cypress 38BHR for Sale

Standard Floor Plan

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We are selling one of our "lily pads".  We lived in it about 3-4 months of each year.  It was brought to the resort by the dealer in 2015 and has never been moved. It is a 2015 Redwood Cypress 38BHR. Circumstances (physical limitations) made living in it no longer possible.

 Currently at a resort in Tucson, AZ.  The site is covered and includes a shed with hot & cold running water, A/C and (2) 20A circuit breakers. Concrete pad except under the 5th wheel.

Retail Sheet

Redwood Cypress 2015 38BHR Factory explanation of Options 

"RESIDENTIAL CEILING FAN ADDED - Enjoy a cool and steady breeze on your next RV'ing adventure with the residential ceiling fan we have added to this Cypress fifth wheel by CrossRoads RV!

 * CENTRAL VACUUM SYSTEM ADDED - The Central Vacuum system we've added to this high class Redwood Cypress fifth wheel makes keeping your RV clean and easy! 

* WATER FILTRATION SYSTEM ADDED - Most parks and campgrounds do little-to-nothing to treat their water. The water filtration system we've added to this Redwood fifth wheel will certainly help!

* 30,000BTU A/C SYSTEM UPGRADE - For maximum cooling power we've outfitted this RV with a total of 30,000btu's of cooling power! That's more than double of what you'll find in the average fifth wheel! Ideal for extended stay camping in the hotter regions of the country!

* MAXXAIR FAN ADDED TO KITCHEN - Not only will the power ceiling vent fan we've added to this Redwood fifth wheel's kitchen help exhaust heat and smells from cooking, but a simple wall-mounted control panel means you don't have to get a ladder to turn it off and on or raise the vent lid! 

* HEAT PUMP ON A/C UPGRADE - For yet another way to keep your fifth wheel RV warm and comfortable in every room and every zone of its interior we've upgraded the A/C system to feature a heat pump!

* REAR BUMPER RECEIVER HITCH ADDED - If you want to add on a bike rack or something like a small RV cargo or accessory tray, then this Cypress fifth wheel by Redwood RV is perfect for you. We've added a 2" rear bumper receiver hitch for just that reason!

* OUTSIDE GAS GRILL HOOKUP ADDED - This CrossRoads Cypress fifth wheel by Redwood RV has been built with a propane quick-connect. This allows you to quickly and easily plug in things like RVQ Grills without lugging along a big heavy propane tank!

* CYPRESS PARKS PACKAGE - Insignia LED HDTV, BlueRay DVD/CD Player, Sound bar in living room, pre-wired for Winegard satellite system, LED recessed ceiling lighting, Carefree electric adjustable patio awning w/LED Lights................. Gold Collection furniture's premium dinete chairs, faux leather Visionary sofa w/Tri-Fold hide-a-bed, free standing dining table, iCool master bedroom mattress. 

* CYPRESS FULL-TIME LIVING PACKAGE - High gloss fiberglass, slam latch baggage doors, knro frameless windows, Falcon-Integrated-Technology's 12" to 10" I-Beam Drop Frame Chassis, Equa-Flex suspension, Falcon Axles, Roto-flex Pinbox, 4-Step Entry, Aluminum Wheels, E-Range Nitrofilled Tires, 50 AMP service, 90 amp converter/charger (dual coach batteries), heavy duty drawer glides, hidden hinge cabinetry, day/night shades in living area, night shades in bedroom, stainless sink with high-rise faucet, stainless steel appliance package, pre-wired & braced for a 2nd A/C unit, Washer & Dryer Prepped and ready! "

Factory Specifications sheet

Reverse Osmosis System

We made other additions, including ceiling fan covers, and we added a reverse osmosis system. Spare filter included. Waterdrop D6 Reverse Osmosis Water Filter, 600GPD, Under Sink Reverse Osmosis System, Reduce PFAS, 2:1 Pure to Drain, Tankless RO Water Filter System, Smart LED Faucet.

 (C) 2024 N. Retzke

Tuesday, October 24, 2023




Part of a wellness package sent by my employer

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In 2022 I discovered that I had a life-threatening illness.  Well, that put a crimp in our trekking.  We travelled from the Midwest to Arizona in December 2022 and became residents of that state in 2023.

Medical treatments became my primary activity.  At one point my hemoglobin was 3.7.  My primary care doctor couldn't believe that I could walk into her office.  Shortly thereafter I was in the emergency room of a hospital where I was administered two units of blood.

My life in 2023 has focused on dealing with my medical condition.  We never made it to our summer location, a Caliber travel trailer on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, but plan to do so in 2024.

Caliber at Michigan campsite

After achieving some medical stability, I underwent several surgeries, radiation treatments and then chemotherapy. I'll begin immunotherapy on October 30. How am I doing?  My radiologist told me that I'm made of "stern stuff".  However, it has been difficult, with about 17 units of blood administered since April, and numerous hospital stays and surgeries. After a recent surgery it was determined that I had sepsis with a pseudomonas infection. I've been on some serious antibiotics and am currently about 11 days into 13 days of taking cipro (Ciprofloxacin).  This necessitated removing my nephrostomy tubes and installing new ones. 

We are planning on resuming trekking in 2024.  We signed up for the FMCA's 108th International Convention & RV Expo Pima County Fairgrounds, Tucson, AZ.  This will be held March 20-23, 2024. 

We'll be selling our 5th wheel.  Our primary trekking RV will be via our Roadtrek 210P.

I found maneuvering in the Cypress to be difficult, so G and I decided to purchase a home in the resort.  This had been our long-term plan.  My sudden change in health afforded the opportunity to make this change. G had been monitoring available homes and friends in the resort alerted her to one that was about to come on the market. She compared it to several others that were on the market and decided it was the best choice.   

After we both looked it over, we decided to make a bid and voila' we are once again homeowners.  So it seems we are official Arizona residents. 

We are currently furnishing the home.  This has afforded the opportunity to do things over.  For example, we purchased a steamer-convection oven rather than a microwave.  The Roadtrek and Cypress have microwave convection ovens, but we decided the convection oven feature was more important. 

Steamer-Convection oven

I've resumed my financial writing and blogging, but I'm not sure how frequently I'll be blogging.

Note:  The resort we are at has been described as a "Mega-resort".  It has RV sites, Park Models for sale or rent, and homes.  Some RVers sell their rv's after a few years and move into a park model.  These are 400 square ft. or larger.

(c) 2023 N. Retzke

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Portable and stationary supplemental heat


Early morning coffee in an all-electric Class B

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We've found that adding supplemental, portable heat to our RVs adds greatly to our cool and cold weather comfort. Our first trekking experience was in an all-electric Class B RV.  It had all the whiz-bang stuff including solar panels and lots of batteries. That fall camping experience taught us the limitations of 30A of electricity and the limitations of relying solely upon electrical appliances.

We do camp during 3-1/2 seasons of the year.   Our lowest overnight temperature experience was about 5F, with other nights as low as 20-35F.  

An overnight stay off the grid at 20F - just about to leave for the day

We've found methods to supplement the built-in heat sources in our RVs and create a more pleasant experience.  I should add that having a backup heat source is helpful in cold weather. In the Roadtrek we could run the engine in an emergency, but I won't do that to heat the coach in cold weather.

Rise and shine at 9F

One thing to bear in mind is that these RVs have little insulation and a lot of glass area. Glass has an insulating, or R-value of just about zero. Single pane glass keeps the elements out, but that's about all.  There are exceptions, but we don't have double pane windows and the Roadtrek 210P has very little insulation. Because of this our RVs can get quite cold when the outside temperature is below freezing. We selectively use Reflectix on the windows and floor carpets as aids, especially in the Roadtrek. We also use an electric blanket.

I also added a floor heater pad.

One thing we learned in the all-electric coach we rented was that 30A goes only so far.  Add up the requirements of the charger-inverter (at night), an electric cook top, a hot water heater and a 1500W space heater and something has to give.  In cold weather (20F) it provided an above ground camping experience and to cook we had to turn off the hot water heater and space heater. (see 6am photo above).

Because of that experience, today all of our RVs are dual fuel.  Propane and electricity (12VDC/120VAC) and the Roadtrek has a generator, too. In fact, if I had my preference all of the water heaters would be dual fuel propane/electric, but that isn't the case with the Roadtrek, which is only propane. Why this preference? Primarily to conserve propane so it is available for the hot water heater and for the furnace. 

In the Roadtrek we are more cautious about energy expenditure and we do our best to conserve propane, which is a necessity for the hot water heater, furnace and range top.  If we want hot water we must have propane or heat a bowl in the microwave. 

Other electric heat sources include the heat pump down to about 40F. For cooking with electricity we also carry a portable electric stovetop burner and inductive burner,  Works well with cast iron.   Another reason for the electric burner is to minimize water vapor inside the Roadtrek.  Burning propane releases H2O into the interior. This moisture is added to that we exhale with each breath and readily collects on cold surfaces, such as windows.  We do use Reflectix to minimize this. 

Condensation has not been a problem for us.

One thing about a Class B is that side door.  Open it for egress and one allows much of the interior heat to escape, and winter in.

We carry a small 750-1500W electric heater in the Roadtrek.  This puts heat in the front of the van and reduces the reliance on the propane furnace.  We use it primarily at night and in the morning, and direct heat to the rear.

Portable heater for the Roadtrek

Other heaters for the lily pads

Our MI lily pad is a 30 ft. travel trailer with 30A electric service.    It is equipped with a propane furnace, dual-fuel hot water heater and dual-fuel refrigerator. I've added a portable 1500W adjustable heater with digital thermostat and an electric blanket.  The heater is at the rear of the RV and is usually set at 65F.  If it is chilly in the morning, I'll increase the setting to 70F or so. We may be at the campground from May to October, and both May and October can be cool and damp.

30 ft. travel trailer in MI

At the 5th wheel in AZ we have a built-in heat pump and propane furnace.  We use the heat pump for temperatures down to 40F and then switch to propane.  Winter nighttime temperatures can be as low as 25F at the extreme.  A  few nights in January the low is 35F.  However, early cold snaps can occur as did in December 2022 with nighttime lows of about 35. With full sun daytime temperatures peak at about 65F-75F.

Our Arizona "lily pad"

The 5th wheel is about 42 ft long and I've added several portable heaters.  The main living space has a radiator style heater. The ceiling fan helps to distribute the heat.  This type of heater is available in various sizes/wattages.

I've also added two 250W resistance heat panels.  These include off-on switches.  To control each panel I added a LUX thermostat.  One heater is hung in the bedroom and the other is in the bunk room.  These are for supplemental heat.  I've found that using them reduces the use of the propane furnace while making the RV a more even temperature throughout. I've measured the surface temperature of the panels and it is 161F when these panels are "on" and up to temperature.   

I've hung these panels, as I did not want to drill holes in the walls.  

Electric heat panel

Thermostat to control the heat panel

We added a 20 inch x 60 inch heating pad to the Roadtrek. This covers the floor area in the center space.  I initially set it up in the 5th wheel, and when we are there, we use it in the living space. It is 120V, 300W and because the surface temperature can reach 125F.  I added a control to reduce the surface temperature. G really like it. 

20 x 60 inch heating pad - photo in 5th wheel
currently in the Roadtrek main area

How much to we spend on electricity? Monthly electric bills vary depending upon the weather and how much grilling we do, and we do a lot. We do have two refrigerators. There is an air conditioner in the shed. We use waterless cookware and cast iron on an electric cook-top and we have a weber electric grill.  In February 2022 our electric bill for the previous month (January) was about $126. Over the span of a season, I'll use about 1-1/2 30 lb. propane cylinders.  These were about $25 to fill. This year filling each is about $32. Electricity is more costly, too.

I have a kill-a-watt meter which I use to check the actual wattage consumed by appliances.  I also have a non-contact thermometer which is useful for determining surface temperature of RV walls, floors and the surface temperature of heaters.

This year I purchased water testers for pH and TDS.  The set including batteries was $14.10 delivered. These allow me to check the water softener and the quality of the fresh water when travelling.  These testers are useless for microorganisms and poisons, so I only use them on water that has been declared to be potable.  It is a means for quality assurance.

Kill-a-watt meter

Non-contact thermometer - seasoning cast iron

pH and TDS testers

(c) 2022 N. Retzke

Thursday, December 22, 2022

RV Fresh Water Improvements


Regulator and Filter

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Travelling in our Roadtrek we encounter a variety of campground fresh water conditions.  These include high pressure, well water which is hard or contains sediment, and city water which meets much higher standards.

Sediment can be dealt with using a portable filter.  Hard water is not as easily improved.  For drinking one can always use bottled water, but seriously hard water does damage to aluminum, copper and brass faucets and can even leave deposits on check-valves, etc. which hinders their operation. 

There are accessories which can be carried to improve the water condition.  However, unsafe water is not something for the typical RVer to deal with.  If we have any concerns about fresh water safety and purity, we purchase and drink bottled water.  Some campgrounds have public reverse osmosis machines on site, where a gallon of water can be filled a modest cost such as 35 cents each gallon.

We've carry a water pressure regulator and a filter with us in the Roadtrek.  This keeps water pressure in safe limits, protecting the fresh water piping system.  We also carry a portable RV/Marine filter.  We replace the filter each year.  

However, some locations have hard water.  Our lily-pad in the Southwest US is an example.  The water comes from local wells and is mildly alkaline with a pH of about 8.0.  Another measure is Total Dissolved Solids or TDS. Total dissolved solids (TDS) describes the inorganic salts and small amounts of organic matter present in solution in water. "The principal constituents are usually calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium cations and carbonate, hydrogencarbonate, chloride, sulfate, and nitrate anions.  "

One of the issues for treatment of freshwater in the Roadtrek is simply the space limitations for the hardware.  We have used a portable water softener when we stayed in an area known for hard water.  This device is replenished with table salt.  It is currently used in the 5th wheel.

Portable Water softener in our 5th wheel

At our Arizona lily pad, which is connected to resort well-water, we have a more extensive water treatment system.  The water is hard, and there may be occasional sediment. We spend several months at the resort each year and so we decided upon a more extensive water treatment approach. There is osmosis water available at 35 cents per gallon, but this year I added a reverse osmosis system which I installed in the kitchen island. Our system includes:

  • Pressure Regulator
  • 10 inch diameter Filter
  • Reverse Osmosis system
  • Water softener
Big Blue 10 inch diameter filter

Reverse Osmosis Spigot with TDS Indicator
I installed in our 5th wheel

(c) 2022 N. Retzke

Friday, December 9, 2022

RV Campgrounds Higher Fees


Route for 2400 mile trek

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Are fees higher in the fall of 2022?  In November we completed a 2400 mile trek and stayed at six different campgrounds.  We were given off-season rates and because we had two vehicles we rented larger, pull-through sites. We are KOA members and Good Sams members, so we were given discounts at most campgrounds.

Fees, per night, at six campgrounds:

  1. KOA Journey $60.51
  2. Private campground $38.25
  3. Private Resort 69.45
  4. Private campground $37.00
  5. Private campground $35.00
  6. KOA Journey  $45.55
Total $285.76, average cost of an overnight:  $47.63

(c) 2022 N. Retzke

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Private RV Property versus Resorts and Campgrounds


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RVing is a lifestyle choice, and there are a lot of alternative approaches. We’ve been RVers since 2013 and we have tried them all. In recent years we have noticed some significant changes.  There are romantic notions about the RVing lifestyle.  Many are exaggerated. 

We have observed a lot of changes in the most recent 10 years.  Our advice is to be resilient and be aware that one gets what one pays for.  Although it is not a subject in this post, our conversations with RVers indicates that getting repairs done in a reasonable time is becoming more difficult.

What RVers are discovering about camping is a lack of available sites, and RV camping site prices are increasing. The days when one could drive up to a campground and get a site are over.

There are a number of reasons for this. One is the popularity of RVing. Today, there are more RVs than all of the campsites in the US, combined. The CCP Covid-19 virus altered the behavior of RVers. RV campsite fees are increasing making nightly stays more costly. KOA for one is making modest site improvements and charging significantly higher fees. Finally, high gasoline and diesel prices contributed to a tendency to stay in one location for longer periods.

In 2013 when we decided we would become RVers and took our first steps, I told G that in the near future, the carefree days of camping would be history. And so it is.

There are several ways to deal with finding campsites. First, always make reservations as far ahead as possible. Second, go for longer stays in a specific location and use it as a base for local exploring. By local, I mean a radius of 400 miles or so, although more distant excursions are possible. Another possibility is to purchase land and equip it for the RV. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.

The boom in RVing has had negative consequences. Today we encounter more complainers, RVers who prefer to walk through our campsite, allow their dogs to defecate everywhere and anywhere including at our site, and groups of roaming children who like to inspect other sites and get into mischief. Campgrounds with good management which enforces the rules goes a long way to deal with this. Campgrounds and resorts with activities and specific activity areas also control this. Boredom is a motivator for mischief and bad conduct among adults and children.

Long term reservations at campgrounds

This sounds straightforward. But it isn’t. One can’t always predict where they will be a few weeks or months into the future. Furthermore, reservations may not be available. This is particularly so at popular State Parks, or during peak RV season. Weather too is a factor. Along the Florida coast and the gulf hurricanes are a reality. These make staying in specific areas chancy during specific times of the year. The destruction by storms results in the closure of resorts and campgrounds for long periods.

Longer Stays at campgrounds and resorts or owning property

Making the decision to stay in a location for longer periods has benefits. It reduces fuel costs, and wear and tear on vehicles. It can be more relaxing. It also reduces the cost per night for a stay. Resorts may have lots of activities. We’ve encountered more than a few RVers who are bored out of their minds. Staying at an active resort, in an area with a lot of amenities may be the best of all worlds. Camping and campfires, group activities, fine dining, museums, various entertainment, even nearby National Parks make for interesting living.

Alternately, one may choose to purchase land and create a personal RV site. This may be the least costly approach, boondocking aside. However, not everyone wants to live in the woods, distant from the benefits of civilization with minimal socializing. Furthermore, there are costs. There may be annual fees and to do this properly the site must be equipped with water, sewer and electricity.

Another approach is seasonal or annual stays at an established resort or campsite. This puts one closer to the “action” without being in the middle of it. This approach also allows one to escape to their site. However, one must be choosy about selecting the resort or campground. This approach is less costly than nightly stays, but may be more costly than owning improved land. One benefit is the ability to alter the site to one’s personal taste. Repeat annual leaseholders may be allowed to install decks, gazebos and so on. If circumstances change, one can leave. Resorts that permit significant improvements by leaseholders (concrete patios, shelters, sheds, improved utilities, etc.) frequently allow these amenities to be sold to the next tenant, so there is little financial risk.


This is a low-cost approach. However, there are costs involved and compromises. There are also risks. Crime is on the rise and it is foolish to pretend it occurs elsewhere. Longer term stays require access to water and dump stations. Some popular boondocking areas attract lots of RVers, vandwellers and car dwellers. As a consequence, there may be a support system. Trucks rent large water storage tanks and fill them periodically. But electricity is scarce, unless one has many kW of solar and batteries. Plan on frequent trips to a dump station and minimal AC in warmer areas.

Boondocking means there is no campsite host to keep the peace. One would think that there is a lot of space available which means adequate separation. That may not be so. Of course, one can always relocate.

Dealing with a lack of availability of sites

When we began planning our extended stay approach to RVing we decided to rent seasonally or annually at several locations. We purchased a Class B and used it to explore and find our “lily pads”. We did discuss land purchase, but decided against it for the present. We like to socialize, but on our terms.

In 2013 we began our quest. It was fun. We investigated “mega resorts” as well as smaller “mom and pop” managed campgrounds. We ultimately decided upon two locations, one of each type, to establish our lily pads.  Each was chosen because of location and nearby amenities. 

Mom and Pop campgrounds

These are smaller campgrounds usually with minimal amenities. The owners live on site in a house or RV. The campground will have a bathhouse and some will have an activity room or building. There may be a couple of cabins for rent. In northern areas these usually close for the winter.

We decided it was best to stay at campgrounds which do not allow tents. For our summer season we also decided we wanted to select a campground with a healthy percentage of seasonal campers and which close during the off-season.

Smaller campgrounds are not necessarily managed better than the larger ones, and the owners may be inclined to avoid conflict between campers. That makes stays "interesting". 

The benefits include more of a community feel. Seasonal RVers do understand campground etiquette and will follow the rules. Many live at the campground for the entire season and then close up their RV at the end of season, leaving the RV in place during the winter off-season. They will add decks, gazebos and shelters to make their site more comfortable. There is a sense of ownership. There is also stability, as many sites are set up this way, and the seasonal campers return year after year.

Fees are determined by location. Popular locations, within a few hours' drive of major metropolitan centers are more costly. Access to lakes, etc. also drive up the costs.

Our experience has been to plan for 5% annual fee increases.

Preparing the summer campsite for winter

Resorts and Mega-Resorts

These are very large campgrounds open all year. They offer short-term as well as seasonal and annual rates. If one chooses an annual, repeat lease, it may be possible to make site improvements to one’s taste. However, this varies from resort to resort. Improvements may include shelters, concrete patios, buildings with residential washer-dryer and so on.

Mega-Resort Improved Site

Mega-resorts may have an on-site bar and restaurant. There may be a lot of activities in-season including a chapel, ballroom for entertainment and so on. Multiple swimming pools, tennis, pickle ball and all sorts of workshops and group activities may be available. However, these are usually managed and staffed by volunteers. If people don’t volunteer, the party stops. There may be modest fees and costs of materials, too.

Mega-resorts may have tiny homes available for purchase or to rent. These “park models” are about 400 square feet but may be larger. This is a popular option for retirees. The cost of purchase of a used model may be low, and annual fees manageable. Some resorts are HUD age qualified, which means 80% of the full-time residents may be 55 or older. Resorts built decades ago may have a very large percentage of elderly. The reality is, this is much less costly than assisted living and that is a financial attraction. It may be a turn-off for younger RVers.

In such resorts children and the elderly may not mix well. Management controls pool hours and access, etc. to keep everyone happy.

As for fees, these too will increase annually and there are rules and regulations. An RVer with an annual lease will sign a contract which is a legal document and can be quite elaborate. Aging infrastructure increases maintenance costs and that leads to increasing fees and breakdowns that can interrupt an otherwise pleasant stay.

In recent years we have noticed the mega resort we stay at is off-loading as much as possible to sub-contractors. There are fewer maintenance employees, and more contractors are utilized. This may limit the costs for the resort owner while guaranteeing revenue. There are draw-backs. Contractors are not necessarily less costly and must be coordinated and managed. There may be a tendency to use a "cash-flow" approach to repairs, which extends them by days, weeks and in some cases, by months. When an issue occurs, the contractor who is an off-site business, may not be available. Running a resort restaurant has been difficult during CCP Covid-19 and the aftermath. When a resort owns and manages an on-site restaurant it can absorb the temporary losses at the restaurant. A small establishment may not be so lucky after paying the lease, overhead and staff. A resort we stay at handled this by off-loading the entire management of the restaurant and bar to a subcontractor.  

The resort has also been turning over other costs to the residents. This may include the responsibility for pool maintenance, etc. Normally water is included and electricity separately metered and billed for each site. But this is changing, too.

(c) N. Retzke 2022 

Saturday, December 3, 2022

We are officially Full-time RVers


Storage with items remaining after downsizing

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In spring 2022 we began prepping the condo for sale.  Residuals from my business were disposed of. 

In June and July I emptied the home office.  I scanned old documents and photos and tossed the originals.  A professional service shredded additional documents and hard drives. 

There were a number of minor repairs to do and some cosmetics.  When I emptied out the home office, I took down bookcases, built-in cabinetry and shelving.  I then patched, primed and painted.   I restored that room to a bedroom. All of these tasks were completed in July, August and September, while we pared our belongings, separated things for storage and our two lily-pads. 

We gave a lot away to Amvets and Goodwill.  Some items were put into storage, others were junked. The condo was ready for sale in early October and was placed on the market on October 6.  We immediately got several offers from investors, but we noted issues with the contracts.   

A short time later an individual buyer made an offer and we accepted. 

The closing was scheduled for late November, early December.  The condo closing came and went and it has now been officially sold.

We said Good-Bye to Illinois a couple of weeks ago and the attorney represented us at the closing. 

We now are officially full-timers.

(c) N. Retzke 2022