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376  Main Forum / Tips and Tricks / How do you store your spices? on: March 27, 2014, 09:32:08 am
We started with just a few spices thinking we could get by but we like to cook varied meals and the spices are adding up. I've been looking for a fairly efficient but functional method of storing a small quantity of many different spices. I've seen overpriced travel packets of little metal tins with screw on lids, screw together round plastic containers that make a tower of spices and, the one I am considering, locking pill boxes with labels on each lid for the spices 
I've ordered some of the locking pill boxes but haven't gotten around to raiding my son's spices and filling them yet. Has anyone tried this? Does anyone have a better method? We don't have the need or space for a full bottle of each spice.

Side note: We are now carrying a full bottle of one spice I found in the south (and on Amazon) - "Slap Ya Mama" Cajun seasoning - hot (they have original which I assume is milder). It contains salt, red pepper, black pepper and garlic. WOW, quick ZING! We highly recommend it.
377  Main Forum / Around the Campfire / Re: Gypsy cooking on: March 27, 2014, 09:12:45 am
Syd, the pulled pork was actually a Food Network thing - we use Jack Daniels BBQ sauce with it and the McCormick Grillers Sweet and Smoky Rub (Irvine spice in recipe no longer in production). Super easy crock pot recipe. We make extra and freeze it without the sauce so we can use it for BBQ sandwiches, wraps, nachos, salad toppings, etc.

Judy - don't forget the wine! We've quickly learned to carry a bottle of wine even though we don't usually drink it. It seems to be an RV staple. We may run into you in New England. We are booked into Acadia for two weeks starting July 13th. One week at each of their two campgrounds - with the granddaughter. You want entertainment, sit and watch John try to keep up with her (then he naps to recharge).

We look forward to meeting all of you again on the road or maybe back in Florida.
378  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: Lazy Furnace on: March 27, 2014, 08:39:02 am
Thanks all! We have run away. We just crossed into Tennessee last night and will be rolling again today. We know it's colder than normal everywhere but 57 sounds awesome right now. We received two calls from CW yesterday morning with the message that our part was in. We did not respond as we were chipping ice off the tow bar and thawing locks with a heating pad so we could leave. They would not have liked anything I had to say at that point anyhow. We'll call today and tell them no thank you (the one man did ask the other day what I wanted him to do with the part if we weren't going to have it installed... I had to bite my tongue and avoid answering). Once we stop driving I plan to do the survey for the store and contact that CEO. I'm sure all Camping Worlds are not the same and even some that are bad at one point will get new managers or new service techs and then do a great job but I don't know if we'll ever use them again. Once it warms up we will have Atwood refer us to someone and just stay in place until the repairs are done. We are not due anywhere until mid-June.
379  Main Forum / Around the Campfire / Re: Gypsy cooking on: March 25, 2014, 07:21:56 pm
Our "everything" actually fit quite well when we started out. Now we have too many packaged foods and too many bags of not so healthy foods and too much paper that has come to visit and overstayed its welcome. We just need to clean out the food cabinets and cut back on impulse buys. A few items that save us a lot of space compared to what we've seen in some RVs are nesting pans from a camping store with one removable handle (similar to except ours is from GSI and has three pans with lids); our bowl and measuring cup set (; and a silicone baking set that can be jammed together or used to buffer noisy items. I couldn't find it online anymore but it has two round cake pans, one loaf pan, a square pan and a muffin pan. All but the muffin pan sort of nest - with help. We have one metal sheet pan that fits in the oven with a Silpat liner that fits in it. So far, we've had everything we need to cook on. The crock pot lives under the bed and the BBQ tools are in the outside bin. We won a baby 6" electric frying pan at the last Intervec-Phoenix rally and that's sufficient for two people - with creative cooking.

I heard a rumor that the newer PCs have deeper cabinets over the couch. THAT would help the boxed food storage greatly and might be an upgrade we do somewhere down the line. The current cabinets are deep enough now to hold square "canisters" of flour, sugar, rice, etc. and all those little packages of bread type bakery stuff we shouldn't have bought until we used what we already had. That's the key - replace only when you've used what's already there. The Phoenix actually has a lot of storage. It's just a matter of reducing what you take with you and then GUARDING THE ENTRY to keep unnecessary stuff from sneaking in. (aka - who bought those two bags of chips anyhow?)
380  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: Lazy Furnace on: March 25, 2014, 06:33:30 pm
Update on the furnace. Camping World in Winchester VA didn't actually order the part until yesterday even though they wrote up the ticket for it on the 13th (something about the bookkeeper being on vacation - lots of parts didn't get ordered). Now they say it is only coming from two hours away so it should be here tomorrow. (So why did we have to wait in the cold for two weeks? We could have driven up to get it in one afternoon). Our conversations with them were not very satisfactory. One excuse they gave was delays caused by the procedure needed to process a warranty claim.  We called Atwood again to find out if we could go somewhere else or if we are locked in with them. Funny thing - they never contacted Atwood. They didn't order the part from them - which would have been free. They aren't actually an authorized Atwood service center (some Camping World's are, this one isn't - the service manager told us he was sure they were - he was wrong - you'd think he'd know). I have an email in to Kermit to ask if they contacted him. We doubt it but want to make sure before we walk away from them. We will head south to somewhere warm where we don't need a furnace. There we will find an Atwood Service Center and get it fixed. We DID check the furnace to make sure no parts are missing because Atwood won't send free warranty replacements unless they get the bad part back.

Another oddity. They told us the bad part was a piece on the circuit board that triggers the igniter but the part on the work order that they ordered (yesterday) was the igniter...
381  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: Thermopane Windows on: March 25, 2014, 05:44:54 pm
Thanks Ron, I'll give that a go tomorrow when the sun comes out. We are apparently iced shut at the moment. I can open the red levers but the window does not budge and I don't want to put undue stress on the window or the seals.
382  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: Thermopane Windows on: March 24, 2014, 08:56:22 pm
I'll have to check the window seals, etc. extremely well and maybe call Kermit. There must be something wrong with our emergency window. Last night we slept with one space heater on between the beds and the privacy curtain closed (as we've done in the past but maybe not when it dropped so low outside). We have the truck vents off and the drape across the bottom half of the cab as I mentioned in an earlier post. When I got up it was tolerable (but still quite cold) in the bedroom area but our weather station showed 20 degrees outside and 40 degrees inside the kitchen/living area of the coach. With two space heaters (or for awhile one heater and the heat strip) we got it up to 58 after about 2.5 hours. We are leaving both heaters running tonight just to have a warmer base temperature to start with in the morning. We went back to the space heaters because the heat strip tends to blow right to the cab area and stirred up all that very cold air I had trapped behind the half curtain and actually dropped the inside temp for awhile. We dragged one heater out of storage and it is old and not as energy efficient so we have to run them on low to avoid tripping our power. We also have the computers on, tank heaters, cat's bed warmer (she's 18, she needs it), etc. so we are probably maxing the power. The coach is finally warm so we plan to keep both heaters running all night (with them cycling off when they reach their set temp). Fixing that window and blocking the cab should put us back to snug and warm - just in time for spring to arrive! (which is pretty much on schedule with getting the furnace fixed too).
383  Main Forum / Around the Campfire / Gypsy cooking on: March 24, 2014, 08:41:23 pm
We enjoyed talking to all our new Phoenix owner friends while in (warm, sunny) Florida and one of the topics that kept coming up was how we were handling food since we are living full time in the Phoenix and not doing the level of eating out that most people do on short trips. We keep a running grocery list and hit Walmart or grocery stores as needed just as if we were at home. We have smaller storage areas for the food so we have a shorter list of staples. One thing we do is restock on the more creative foods when we go Gypsy on friends and family. We joke that the Gypsies are here and that we steal their internet, laundry facilities and showers. If they have the ability to plug us in, we steal the electricity also. But we are good Gypsies. We do the dishes, walk the dogs, feed the fish and repay their kindness by leaving food in their freezers (while also stocking ours). We do this by using a cook book I found called "Fix, Freeze, Feast" by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik. The authors each ran one of those "make-it take-it" places before the market crashed and the recipes are based on the same principle. Most are marinated meat but there are a few other types of meals. Recipes are based on "club packs" like you get at Costco or Sam's Club. You label zip-lock freezer bags, plunk the chosen meat into them (usually 4-6 servings per gallon bag with 2-6 bags per recipe) then measure the other ingredients and put them in the bags. They get sealed and laid flat to freeze. They can then be stood up on end like books on a shelf. If you like you can print the cooking instructions onto labels and slap them right on the bags before freezing. You thaw them in the fridge overnight and have a really nice entree ready in about 20 minutes after you start cooking. When we had a bigger fridge, we would toss two or three in the fridge on Sunday (flipping periodically) and they would make good, quick meals during the week. We love the Rose City Teriyaki Flank Steak, An's Pork Chops, Shanghai Stir Fry, Caribbean Pork Tenderloin and several others. We make several recipes during each prepping session (using some of our hosts spices and such if we only need a little) then split the finished goods with the host, putting half in our freezer and half in theirs. So far, we have received rave reviews and have ALWAYS been welcome back. I bought the e-book and have it on board on my Kindle. I'm sure there are other books out there with similar recipes, this is just the one we use. If you are preparing for a trip and want to simplify your dinners but have good flavor and variety, I highly recommend it. And if you are planning to go Gypsy on someone, it goes a heck of a long way toward getting invited back.
384  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: Thermopane Windows on: March 24, 2014, 08:05:44 pm
Tom, still waiting on the furnace part. Camping World said 7 days, which would be last Thursday. We called on Thursday and they told us they should have said 7-10 days. I figured with Saturday deliveries today would be number 10 so we called and they said it isn't in yet. John asked them to check and call back... nothing yet. We'll pester them in the morning. If they can't give us a date or tracking info, we might pack it up and head south and start over again. My only concern is that the furnace doesn't turn on at all since they looked at it so if they did something, we may have trouble getting it repaired under warranty. I keep telling myself they shut it down for safety since the gas valve was opening but it wouldn't ignite. We'd open her up and check if it wasn't so darn cold.So bottom line - we are stuck in Maryland again freezing.
385  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: Thermopane Windows on: March 24, 2014, 08:59:12 am
Going back to the thermopane windows. I believe all our "house" windows are dual pane, both fixed top and operable bottom, with the possible exception of the emergency exit over the driver side bed. I don't know if it is thermal or not but a large amount of cold air pours down on me while John sleeps fairly snug and warm. I can hold my hand under the half with the standard window and it is colder than solid wall but it does not seem to have the massive air infiltration that the emergency window does. It feels like we have an open window even though it is locked shut and cannot be pushed open at all. Is this normal?

I'm going to buy one of those silver bubble window shields and cut it to fit in the space just to cut the draft. Fresh air while sleeping is good but it's 20 degrees out there! I was hoping with thermal windows we wouldn't have this kind of a draft.

On another (cold) note, I have draped a sheet type thing across the lower opening of the cab, pushing it against the wing walls and draping it to the floor. It does make a difference. When I drop my arm over the draping between the front seats, it is like sticking it into a freezer. It is at least 15-20 degrees colder up there. I bought cheap emergency space blankets and am going to tape a couple together and try to rig them into a quick hook up wall from ceiling to floor across the front. If it works, I'll post pictures and info. I hope to rig it to work two ways: one floor to ceiling where entire cab is closed off; and one where it drapes under the TV and cabinets so we have access to those.
386  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE on: March 20, 2014, 08:14:43 am
This brought a question to mind on silicone rescue tape. We bought some at the Hershey show before we even decided on an RV.  One use noted in the sales pitch was quick, waterproof fixes on plumbing connections with a recommendation to wrap connections before they shake loose and leak. Has anyone used the stretchy tape for repairs or preventive maintenance? (I've been told you can buy the same tape cheaper at Home Depot).
387  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: DW missing Class A on our new lot on: March 18, 2014, 10:05:33 pm

The PC requires a little extra planning on our part in that regard.  No nightmares yet.  We love our PC.

We tow a Subaru Forester behind our 2552 and yes, we do advance planning for gas stations. We use the "gas buddy" app to find best prices along our route. I then select that station, pull it up on the map screen and zoom in. I can frequently tell if the layout will work for us or not. If it looks bad, we pick another station.

We've gotten into and out of a couple of tight squeezes and had to drop the tow vehicle only once, though we could have made the turn at that station, we just weren't paying good attention and didn't swing far enough on the way in. Using the map method you can also figure out a way around divided highways and construction zones that route you away from the highway instead of back onto it after you fill up.

There are times we do the slow approach, eyeball the layout, and drive on by. Even the easy access ones become impossible when the Coke delivery guy parks his truck across the exit lanes you need to use. If we ever get desperate for gas and there are no easy access stations, we'll drop the Subaru on a straight away, fuel up, then hook up again. NOT something we want to do, but it might be necessary for those out-of-the-way, itty-bitty gas stations that try to cram 8 fuel pumps into the space that was designed for 2.
388  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: Lazy Furnace on: March 14, 2014, 08:24:12 am
Tom called and recommended we first call Atwood then do a drop in at Camping World in Winchester VA and ask if they can take a quick look. Atwood said it sounded like our propane regulator needed adjustment (Special tool needed to test pressure). We walked in to camping world with massive wind gusts and freezing temps and looked pitiful and cold. The girl at the counter said no quick look, you need an appointment but the service manager walked in just then and took pity on us. He said yes we need an appt. And he could take us right away. The diagnostics showed the ignitor was giving one spark. If we were lucky enough to ignite with one spark, we got heat. We assume it is easier to ignite when it is warm so cold killed our chances. There is a device on the circuit board that controls the igniter and it is faulty. They think we heard a switch click for each ignition attempt instead of a series of clicks made by a normal igniter. They are ordering the part and hopefully it will be here in a week, otherwise we will be stuck in Maryland again.
389  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: Lazy Furnace on: March 13, 2014, 08:29:42 am
Update on furnace. We pulled the outside cover again and John watched for the little fault lights on the left wall. He could smell propane when it was trying to ignite so we know some propane is getting there. The fault lights were for "ignition fault lockout". We spoke to Kermit and he said if there was a low pressure situation with the propane, it's the refrigerator that gets finicky first and ours works fine as do the water heater and stove. We figure it is something inside the furnace that prevents the ignition during cold temps OR a something restricting the flow to the point it doesn't work when it gets cold. Kermit made it clear he will reimburse for the repairs if it is something Phoenix did. We are in Staunton, Virginia and topped off the tank with 4.7 gallons of "northern" propane just in case. The furnace ran fine - turning on and off and igniting without a problem for an hour or so then refused to ignite at all as soon as it hit around 45 degrees out. It wouldn't light this morning either. (Darn nippy in here even with the heat strip and space heater- got her inside temp up to 48 so far).

Now we just have to land in one place long enough to get the furnace looked at. We called around down in Georgia and one repair shop said they'd need to keep it 3 or 4 days for testing - not a good option when we live in it and don't have any relatives nearby to go Gypsy on. Camping World there had a two week wait for an appointment. Couldn't do that either since we had to run for Maryland. So, once we get to run south again, we'll try to find a certified Atwood repair shop. We prefer to be in a warmer climate so we don't have to winterize and drag all food and freezable products out of the coach.

Just a heads up to anyone thinking of going full time - any time you have to leave the coach where it can potentially freeze you have several steps to take. We stow the dry goods in bins, pack the refrigerator and freezer contents into a collapsible cooler and insulated bag that we carry, go through every cupboard and bin and pull out everything that can freeze and burst or be damaged by cold, then winterize the rig (easy part). We can do all that and pack our travel bag and the cat in about two hours. All but the dry goods go in the car with us and into whatever heated space we are staying in. Then we find a hotel or cabin that allows pets (critters narrow down the options considerably). Our preferred solution is to find someone that lets us camp in their parking lot with electric hook up if possible or get the rig back each night and book a site nearby.

Will post again when we have resolution in case someone else hits this problem. Even if you usually camp only in warm weather, I suggest you test your furnaces when it is below freezing in case yours has the same problem. It would not be fun finding out it doesn't work that one time you get caught in a freeze.
390  Main Forum / General Discussion / Re: Roof top carrier on: March 12, 2014, 04:27:44 pm
Paul, if you really want to carry a hard top carrier on the roof, I'd call Phoenix. I've seen other posts where Phoenix has sent owners the diagram for the roof structure so they can mount solar panels, etc. Also, there are posts from Keelhauler showing how he had Phoenix add another cross bar to the roof rack configuration so that he can carry his kayaks up there. Kermit may have suggestions for stowing gear on top. You may be able to add standard short rails and cross bars the same as you would mount on a car. Whatever you decide just remember down the road that your rig is now taller than what it originally was and may not fit under all the bridges and overhangs you could go through previously.
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