February 1st is here and we are marking our 8th Month ‘on the road’. Before we do our typical reflection, here is a question for you: ‘What does being an RV’r mean to you?’
The Heating Element
Well, let’s start this entry with an unexpected topic: using your furnace in Southern Florida. 🙂 Yes, we were faced with that need several nights the last few weeks when temperatures in Fort Myers reached the upper 30’s and low 40’s at night. Cloudy, damp and cool… Who knew we would run into the need for our furnace in the heart of Snowbird country where the average temperature is in the 50’s at night and 70’s during the day? OK, we aren’t that naïve, we did expect to have some chilly times, but the thought of turning on the furnace simply galled us. LOL. The solution? Something Sean has been debating since before we started our adventure. Our 37′ Bighorn has two Dometic air conditioners in addition to the propane furnace. Like many rigs with two air conditioners, one or more has an ‘optional’ heat ability. Our bedroom unit is a Dometic DuoTherm model and has that optional heater ability. Other common models (Coleman) also have the heat option. Essentially, the heat option is an electric heating element that is installed at the air intake and warms air as it circulates into the room. Sean did a lot of research and decided, before we left, that it probably wasn’t worth it. Since then, we have had several chilly nights where it would have been nice to not use the furnace. On the positive side, we enjoy the room being chilly and often sleep with the fan running. We also like to cuddle, so a little cold is usually no issue. Back to Florida… When our furnace kicked on, we hauled out our portable radiator and were OK, but we were putting it away during the day, taking it out at night… So, back to the research. Plenty of positive and negative reviews on adding the heating element and very little in the way of images or clear directions. Sean decided to find a heating element, install it and see how it worked. Believe it or not, we couldn’t find one in st0ck at any of the local RV stores. Sean did find one on Amazon that would qualify for one day delivery. The directions that came with the element were adequate. We couldn’t find any photos or videos about the installation online (we are solving that issue with this post). All that aside, installation was very simple. How did it work? Our coldest temps were in the upper 30’s and we found the bedroom unit did an excellent job warming the entire rig (72 degrees). We even had to turn it off at night and run the vent alone as it made the bedroom too warm, even with the door open. Our review? Five stars. It is more than adequate to heat a 37′ RV when temps stay in the upper 30’s or higher. The only drawback? The DuoTherm Unit is steady on, no thermostat control. That aside, we wish we had done this months ago.
We visited the Naples Zoo a few weeks ago and found it a well appointed and run zoo. We have been spoiled by the St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park and have to stop comparisons. At the Naples Zoo, you could feed the giraffes, take a boat ride to see monkeys living on islands in man-made Lake Victoria, and many other animals enjoying the outdoors. It was a nice change to see animals living in open air environments because the weather is adequate for them. The morning we went, we were treated to the verbal territorial cries of two white-gloved Gibbon’s. The sound echoed throughout the entire park. We also saw our first Gators since arriving in the state. Seriously, we have three small ones in one of the lakes at the resort we are staying, but have yet to see one.
Since arriving in Fort Myers, we have seen the population increase dramatically. Local RV parks and resorts are booked solid, and many have been since mid summer. We have also witnessed two phenomena we really haven’t seen much in our travels. The first is purchasing RV sites for extended stays. We heard of people doing so, especially in Southern climates, but had no idea how rapidly the concept is spreading. There is a push in most RV parks in this region to sell rather than rent. It has led to an incredible shortage of spaces for the traveling RV’r who wants a stop for a few nights or a week.
Our second phenomena is the RV’r who has a single destination. We’ve seen many couples who leave their RV on site and fly in and out of town or those who purchase an RV and have it professionally driven to a location where it sits for years. Many of these people are those who buy a site. Interesting, no judgements meant or implied. We had come to realize our full time experience was quite different from others. We like staying in one spot for a while and exploring while others like the road and traveling. We also know our year long adventure is wrapping up, at least in it’s current form and new adventures await us. Will we be ‘full time’ travelers? Probably not, at least not for many more years. We will continue to travel. We do love our “condo on wheels”, and we have many new places to see. We also have new friends and old places to revisit. In the end, isn’t it all about freedom? Love of seeing something new? Gathering experiences rather than things? As we think about it, that is probably our ‘definition’ of a true RV’r. One who gathers experiences. What is yours?
Travel safe, stay warm and see wonderful things. 🙂