Little Red Retro

Our blog is all about
life as seniors, our love of camping and so much more. It's named after our sweet little red Riverside Retro RV - our very first camper. We hope to share ideas, campground info, recipes and just thoughts and feelings. At this stage in life we are going through so many changes and we hope to share our journey and learn from others as we navigate this time in our lives.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Camper Elf Has Arrived....

Look who showed up here this past weekend!!  This is Peppito aka Peppy and he is a Camper Elf.  He came to live in our camper and watch over us but we are keeping him inside where it's warm for now.  He is quite mischievous and gets into lots of things.  Our main goal will be keeping Lucy Loo from eating him up.  She thinks he came for her and she stalks him all day.

This morning we found him riding on the back of the Campground Truck ~ Lucy
thought that was quite curious.  😀  We will keep you posted on his antics and Lucy's trail not too far behind.  Love our little Elf and of course our Lucy Loo.  Stay tuned. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Myrtle Beach State Park

We took Little Red down to Myrtle Beach State Park last week and it turned out to be an awesome campground!  I wasn't really expecting much but hubby had faith. 😃  We had not seen this one in many years and I have to admit as younger tent campers our expectations were very different.  Also we were camping with kids back then and activities for them ranked high on our list.

We arrived after dark in the wet and cold so set up was a little challenging but hubby did an amazing job.  I stood outside with a flashlight beamed on the tree that lived very close to the hookups and he was able to line up perfectly.  😅Unfortunately this site was not level and we have not purchased anything to put under the tires to level up so we were leaning a bit but it wasn't bad.  We had a full hookup along with picnic table and fire ring.  We found all of the sites to be fairly good size and clean.  We were on number 29 and it was roomy with grass and we could have set up a tent with no problem.  Also there were a good many campers in that particular area of the campground which was nice.  We weren't sure if many would be there for cold weather camping.

This was our set up and even though it was too cold to spend a whole lot of time outside, we still enjoyed it.  This campground has a boardwalk that runs from the entrance of the campground all the way to the beach.  It's awesome and makes the walk such a pleasure.  It is also really good for dogs - helps get their little paws all free of sand by the time you get back to your camper.  Lucy really enjoyed the beach and visiting with other dogs and walking the board walk.  I am sure this state park is very popular during the summer.

Another really neat thing here is that they provide horse rides on the beach for a fee.  They bring them in each day and it looks amazing.  We didn't try it but we so enjoyed watching them glide across the was magical.  Of course Lucy thought they were big dogs and she was none too impressed.

We went Christmas shopping a couple of days on this trip and found some great deals and loved the decorations.  At Bass Pro Shop Santa was visiting and they invited us to bring Lucy in for a picture.  She loved walking through the store and sniffing things and talking to people.  Of course she got lots of attention too.  This is she and Greg waiting in line with a reindeer in the background.  We always visit this location when we are at the beach.  We also checked out Red Robin for lunch and it was delicious.  I know lots of people say it's over rated but we truly enjoyed it.  Lucy loved the burger bite we took back to the car for her.  It was very cold that day so she was fine waiting for us there and she was wearing her jacket.  😁

The campground was very clean and updated with wireless throughout the park.  It was a little weak in some areas but worked well on our phones to save us a little data.  The full hook-up worked really well and we didn't make many trips to the bath houses.  However they were very clean and looked like they had recently been updated.  The shower stalls were large and included a place to hang towels and clothes.  Greg took a couple of showers there and said the water was nice and hot.

There is also a legendary pier in the park and it is pictured on the left side bar as well as on the state park
web site. There are trails to walk and both the pier and the registration area have stores that include all sorts of t-shirts, mugs and other goodies as well as necessary staples and camping supplies. 

Our son gave us a Star Shower for us to take with us to decorate our campsite.  We so love it.  We had seen these at Halloween when we camped at Devil's Fork and during the summer at Hunting Island.  For this trip we used the red and green lights and it was very festive.  I wish we had been able to get it to show up on camera.  You can find them on Amazon and at Target as well as lots of other places.  It looks like you put up hundreds of little lights and it only takes a minute.  We have them set up here at home too.  The campground was festive as lots of other campers had decorations and lights.

So on our list of campgrounds this one goes up at the top end of the list.  It was so much better than we expected and had very little damage from Hurricane Matthew.  The rates, location, campsites as well as dog friendly park along with the beach made it a perfect fit for us. The camp customer service representative even called us on our way down to be sure we had the gate code to get in since we were running late.   We give it a big ole five!!!  While we were in the area we visited Huntington Beach State Park.  This was another great surprise and we really loved it.  We will definitely try and camp there next year.

Cost:  $  (Snowbird rates are excellent!)
Location:  5 out of a possible 5 - this is one of our favorites!
Service:  Excellent
Overall Rating:  5+ out of a possible 5 Campers
Update on our Retro - we are still loving it and enjoying spending time in it on every trip.  The heat worked well in the cold weather on this trip and with full hook ups it was great.  We love being able to stock the fridge when we pack and not have to worry about moving the food when we get to our destination.  Hubby says the camper is very easy to pull and he can barely tell it's back there when driving.  We still get lots of comments and horn honks every where we go.  A guy actually stopped us in traffic on this trip to talk about it.  Of course we love talking about our Little Red Retro!!!

Another note on Hunting Island - we heard on this trip that it more than likely won't reopen until 2018.  This makes us very sad and we are hoping that things will move along a little faster.  We will keep you updated on anything that we hear.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pot Pie for the Road...

Since we have a camping trip scheduled in early December, I was hoping to make something out of our leftovers that could be frozen and kept till then.  While perusing Pinterest as I do, I found the perfect idea....a pot pie!  Our Dad used to make something called ice box soup so this just fit right in.  The idea is to make the pie from your leftover turkey, gravy, veggies and add a crust.  Simple and yummy!  Full disclosure - this picture came from Google Images because I once again forgot to take a picture of mine.  If I do say so myself, it turned out pretty cute.  (Smile)

This recipe is really flexible and you can switch out the meat, etc. and make it your own - even if you don't have leftovers.   I plan to make it with chicken next time. Frozen peas or green beans work great in this too. It freezes up well and can be reheated in the oven or microwave.  When camping you could also reheat it over the fire after it's thawed completely.  This would work awesome in an iron skillet.  It's great for pack and go.

Turkey Pot Pie
2 cups cooked chopped turkey or chicken
1 cup gravy - I used leftover but you can grab a pack of gravy mix which makes about a cup
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped carrot
3 medium potatoes cubed
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 cup creamed corn - I used homemade but any kind will work
1 small onion
1 package crescent rolls
1/2 stick margarine or butter
3 teaspoons corn starch
1/4 cup water
 Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic parsley salt

Start by sauteing the onions, potatoes, celery and carrots in butter/margarine until softened.  Then add the chicken broth to the pan and stir well.  Let this simmer until the veggies are tender.  Then add the gravy and turkey and corn and mix well.  Heat until warm through.  Mix corn starch and water well and add to the mixture. Stir completely and simmer until the sauce is thickened.  You will need to stir regularly to keep the sauce smooth.  Add water if needed to keep the sauce from being too thick.

Next roll out the crescent rolls on a floured surface.  Use a rolling pin to smooth the package into one sheet of dough.  Pour the filling into a baking dish sized to fit and carefully lift the dough over the pie filling.  Tuck in any ends and butter the top well.  I used spray butter but any softened butter or margarine will do.  Sprinkle garlic/parsley salt over the top and place in a 375 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes.  Keep a close watch as this browns up pretty quickly.  Cool and enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

December Trip Planned

 Well - we have booked our December trip and I am so excited!  We plan to roll down to Myrtle Beach and camp at Myrtle Beach State Park and Campground!   I haven't been to this campground in many years and we have never camped there before.  I remember it as being fairly rustic but I'm sure much of it has changed over the years.  The exciting part about this area in December is that they do Christmas really big and we hope to get lots of shopping done while we are there.  I am working on some little Christmas Decorations for the camper too.  Pictures to come.

Additionally this will be our first time ever camping with a full hook-up.  I for one am really looking forward to trying that.  Hubby is excited not to have to dump the gray water so often.   We will let you know how that goes and I know other Retro owners do this regularly and it does make life easier.

Another great thing about visiting our beaches in fall and winter is that the bug population has moved on and you can stroll the beautiful shores with a sweater.  It is awesome and we love that time of the year on the beach.  A camp fire is that much better when there is a chill in the air.

Check this campground out if you are ever in the area.  As with all of state campgrounds, the cost is just so reasonable and makes camping that much more affordable. The pier here is a must see experience.  This picture was taken at sunrise on the beach.  There is also the Snowbird Coastal Camping Specials ~ more info on this on the site linked above.

More to come.....

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hobo Dinner

Here is another camping recipe and one of my favorites.  When I was in girl scouts we never were able to go camping so we made this over a fire in the church yard and it was delicious.  Going camping just gives me an excuse to make it again.  I didn't get a pic of mine but this one I found on favorite hangout!  It came from Every Day Moms Meals.

For ours we used a box mix of scalloped potatoes - you don't have to do this but it is really easy to prepare and pack.  If you don't use those just use regular potatoes of your choice.  You can cook this over a fire, in a toaster oven or on your grill.  Just what ever works for you.  We loved it and added sour cream and more shredded cheese and of course hubby added ketchup.  This will be a staple for us from now on especially in cooler months.  You can also make these ahead before you leave home and pack in your fridge and they are ready for the fire.  Hope you enjoy!

Hobo Dinner
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 box scalloped potatoes or two large potatoes peeled and sliced
1 cup milk
1/2 stick margarine or butter
1 cup hot water
1 sliced onion
Heavy duty foil
1 cup shredded cheese
Sour cream, shredded cheese and steak sauce for toppings (Ketchup if you are somebody who eats it on everything like my hubby)

If using the scalloped potato dinner put the potatoes in a sauce pan or iron skillet and cover with the hot water.  Simmer until they soak up the water - about 10 minutes.  Brown the hamburger meat and drain if desired.  Add milk and the sauce packet from the potatoes and heat until smooth.  I tear off a large sheet of foil - about the size of a large baking sheet.  Place your ground beef on the foil and add potatoes and then onions.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top and then pour the sauce over. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Garlic salt is also good if you have it on hand.  Pull the foil up and fold securely to make a sealed packed.  Metal pie pans that you recycle can work great here to avoid any drips if you want to use them.  Cook over fire or grill for about 35 minutes. If you are using raw potatoes just place them in as above and add another half cup of shredded cheese. You won't need the water or milk.  Canned fried onions are also really good in place of the raw onion.  This meal is also delicious leftover!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Devils Fork State Park

We took the Little Red Retro on our 3rd camping trip up to Devils Fork State Park and Campground which sits on Lake Jocassee.  We had planned on staying four days but we loved it so much we extended our stay an extra day.  To say the lake is beautiful is an absolute understatement.  It is breath taking and the most beautiful shade of aqua we've ever seen in a lake.  I will post pictures but they just don't do it justice. 

We stayed on site 43 but we found quite a few that we liked and we already have a return trip booked next May on site 1.  This campground is very woodsy and there are sites on the lake side and down on the wooded side.  We liked the lake side and we were just up the hill and could look down onto the lake and trees from our window.  There are also pack in pack out tent sites that are very nice.  The weather was perfect during this visit with bright sunny days and warm with a crisp cool in the evenings.  One of the best things was there were no flying bugs or insects.  Camping a lot in the low country, we were so happy not to have to deal with those little buggars. 

We found all sorts of things to explore here and walked a lot every day.  There are trails and pathways and we loved the beach areas of the lake where you could sit and relax.  This was another dog friendly campground and our Lucy made lots of friends.  There is a camp store and a lakeside rental place where you can rent canoes, kayaks, life vests and more.  They also have ice cream and drinks as well.

This is the view from the registration/office and it is beautiful.  We had seen this picture on the web site but you just have to see it in person to believe how awesome it is.  The grounds are very clean and well maintained.  The staff is friendly, helpful and well versed on the campground

There are a few areas to grab a bite or shop close to Powdersville where the park is located.  We went into Walhalla and grabbed lunch one day and picked up a few things.  There is a very nice Ingles grocery store there as well as Dollar General, and CVS along with McDonalds.  On our way home we had a recommendation from a fellow camper to stop off in Easley, SC and visit Mutts BBQ.  It was excellent and we highly recommend it too.  If you like BBQ and veggies then this is your place.  A full review is on our Yelp profile on the right hand side of this page.

This area is the side of the lake where we put in.  There are several boat ramps and an area to put in for non-motorized boats.  We put in near the beach area and didn't have any trouble.  All of the boaters were very respectful of the small boats and kayaks and took it slow and easy until they got further out.  We canoed across to the other side and back and it was a very nice trip.  We loved it!! 

Scuba diving and other activities are also readily available and you don't need to leave the campground to find a group to provide these services.  There is also a boat tour of the lake available and we definitely plan on doing that the next time we visit.  They actually take you out to the falls which we heard is pretty amazing. 

The bathhouses are ample and convenient and very clean with large showers that have separate areas with curtains for each shower.  Plenty of hot water and strong water flow make for a nice relaxing shower.  On our site the bathroom was only a couple of sites away and most of them even had drink machines just outside on the porch area.

This campground is definitely at the top of our list now and we have to give it a 5+ rating.  It hits all of the things we love and then some!

Cost:  $  (The most reasonable one so far)
Location:  5 out of a possible 5 - this is one of our favorites!
Service:  Excellent
Overall Rating:  5+ out of a possible 5 Campers

Update on our Little Red Retro.  We still love it and are enjoying it more each time we take it out.  We get lots of attention when we are hauling it - everything from high fives, thumbs up and horn honks.  Each time we stop somebody walks up and asks us about it.  We went to Costco on our way out of town and even had a couple come up to us there and want to know all about it.  We had visitors at the campground and on the way home.

I believe we have tried out everything on the camper now and it all works well for us.  We even tested the gas heat on this trip and it worked really well and heated things up very quickly.  For the two of us and our little Lucy Loo this camper is just perfect for us.   We are still working on that video of the camper and we will get it up soon.  Another recipe will be up this week - Hobo Dinner.  It turned out pretty yummy!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Camping Trip Prep...

Oh my gosh - I so remember the old days when getting ready for a camping trip was pure torture and included days of packing and a nightmare the night before.  Also when we returned the amount of work cleaning up things and putting them away was a job too.  But we still enjoyed the trip and did it again and again for a week at a time.

One of the many reasons we wanted a camper was so that it would be somewhat self contained and the packing would be minimal.  So far that has been the case and we hope to get better at it as we do more.  In our case Hubby has to do most of this because I have some health issues that limit my energy and ability to lift and move easily. So anything we can do to simplify and ease the process is appreciated.  He also still works more than full time so we have to make the most of what time he has.

Over the years we have finally learned not to take so many clothing items.  We each have a duffel type bags and we roll our clothes and we only take what will fit in each bag.  Those are stored at one corner of our bed near the cabinet and stacked.  That works for us and doesn't really get in the way.  Anything not needed for everyday use clothing wise (ex. hanging items)  stays in the car.  We keep duplicate personal items such as tooth brushes, deodorant, toothpaste, hair items, etc. in a mesh hanging bag inside the bathroom door. So no need to worry about packing those.  We also keep some staple non-perishable food items in the cabinet so we are ready to go at any time.

There are lots of packing lists available on Pinterest and we have saved lots of those to reference.  Our main
thing is to cut down on excess stuff and weight and keep "things" from stressing us out.  We are also still learning what necessary items are needed.  The next thing on our purchase list will be one of these containers that can be attached to your black water hose and can be wheeled to the dump station.  We don't use our bathroom exclusively and still make trips to the bathhouse but we have found that after about 3 days our black water needs to be dumped.  We actually overflowed the toilet on our last trip...yep that was fun but a good learning experience all the same...just water thank heavens!!  They can be found here.

We do carry a camp stove and cook outside on it a good bit and over a fire.  We normally do make most breakfasts inside and love using our little two burner gas stove in the camper as well as our little toaster oven/coffee maker/griddle.  As the temperatures cool some here in South Carolina, we probably will venture outside to cook even more.  We love this little guy and totally recommend it.  It is just perfect for two and works well for us so far.  You can find it here.

I have mentioned before that we love to take at least one leftover frozen meal.  This goes in the bottom of the cooler and helps to keep the ice cold and other items cold.  Our fridge works on gas while we are traveling so we fill it too.  Next on our wish list will be a Yetti Cooler.  They are very expensive but such a great item to have for next year when we hope to take a couple of week long trips.  I have to drink lots of water and ice becomes a big deal.  Those bad boys can keep ice for days.   There are lots of sizes and styles and they even make one big enough to hold a body.....not that I would ever need that. (Smile).  This one can be found here.

We are learning so much from fellow campers and for this trip I hope to get a notebook ready so that we can exchange email addresses, etc. and keep in touch.  Meeting people and hearing their stories is the very best thing about camping.  We will share more after our trip this week.  Thanks for joining us on this journey!!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hunting Island Update

We were so fortunate to have scheduled a visit back to Hunting Island State Park this year just before Hurricane Matthew rolled through there.  This park has always been one of our favorites and we are so saddened by the damage done by this powerful storm.  There are more links in the side bar about the damage and expectations for reopening which will be at least 2-3 months out.

This was our campsite setup with a tent added.  We normally bring this along for when our kids join us and this gives us a good bit of space.  This old Sears canvas tent is over 30 years old and has some wear.  At one point our dogs ripped out the back window so we sewed it shut - that was fun. works and is great for Fall camping.  To me it is too warm for summer but the guys still seem to enjoy it.  The screened room is a K-Mart purchase....yep I said K-Mart.  It was on sale and matched the camper so we couldn't pass it up.  It worked great and hubby said it was easy to put up and take down.  We set it up in line with our little retro awning and so we could walk out right into it.  We had a good rain storm our first night on this trip and it worked great for that.

This is the set up from the back end of our site.  Please ignore the huge bag of trash - we were headed for the dump.  The raccoons will gladly handle it for you if you leave it out over night. We love that front big window on our unit and it really gives us a lot of light and visibility.  We are still working on a full walk through so that you can see all of the features of Little Red.

One of our favorite things about Hunting Island is the close proximity of the wild life.  They literally hang out with you and we so enjoyed that.  Below is a picture of one of our
regular visitors to our site.  It is against the law to feed them but it is so tempting because they come right up and lick your hands.  I'm pretty sure some campers are feeding them. (Smile)  This was my first experience getting up close and personal with a deer.  They look you right in the eye.  It was amazing! We didn't catch the raccoons on camera but they were so brave and were all around us most of the time.  They stole marshmallows on a regular basis. We are just hoping that all of the beautiful wildlife fared okay with the storm.  Lots of babies were there on this visit.

As we hear more and find out about the park reopening, we will visit and post more information.  This campground is just magical and the powers that be are committed to bringing it back to as close as it was.  Watch for more details as they are available!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cabbage Roll Soup

Here is another easy recipe that works great to prepare at home and take along with you on the road.  We love this one because it actually tastes like cabbage rolls without all the hassle of putting those little guys together.  Sometimes it's called deconstructed cabbage rolls.  Either way it is delicious if you like cooked cabbage.  So yummy!!  You can use all sorts of meats but we mostly go with hamburger, ground turkey or both.  Here again this is a really easy big ole pot of food and you can make it your own with seasonings and additions.

Cabbage Roll Soup
2-3 pounds hamburger or ground turkey (or use equal parts of both)
2 large cans diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 very large (6 lb 9 oz) can crushed tomatoes or other tomatoes of choice
1 large head of cabbage chopped
1 or 2 large bell peppers chopped (depending on taste)
1 large onion chopped
2 tablespoons jarred garlic or fresh
1 large container beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons basil
2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Seasoning (love this stuff)
2 cups brown rice prepared (optional)

We love this soup in fall especially but the main reason we made it this week is that my daughter-in-law brought us the most beautiful large fresh cabbage.  I just wish we had taken a picture before we cut it.  Also I just
happened to have that massive can of crushed tomatoes on hand.  You don't really have to have that and can use any kind ~ pureed, crushed, diced or mix of those. But they have these at Costco and they are awesome to have on hand for soups, etc.  If you don't like it so tomatoey (that's a word, right??)  then you can increase the broth, add water and decrease the tomatoes.

As usual I like to put a big ole pot on the stove and add the sauces/liquid and seasonings.  Then I brown the onions, garlic, cabbage and bell pepper and season as I go and add to the pot after they are softened.  Then I brown the meat again seasoning while it's cooking and since I used turkey this time I didn't need to drain.  Add to the pot along with the cabbage.  This one was so fresh that it took a little bit of time to soften but I just kept stirring and simmering for at least two hours.  Just keep testing to see that it is the desired tenderness.

We serve ours with a bed of brown rice in the bottom of the bowl.  This is completely optional and the rice could also be added to the soup raw and let it cook in the pot.  It's all up to how your family likes it.  The guys like lots of hots sauces for toppers and we make skillet corn bread to go along with it.  Enjoy!!  Oh and it freezes up beautifully making it easy to take along on your camping trip.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Decorating the Camper

A big part of the fun of camping and having a camper is decorating it to make it feel like your own portable little home away from home.  I am ashamed to admit how very many pins I have on Pinterest that are all about the inside.  I have loved all things retro for a good while and incorporating that in our little retro makes it all the more fun!

A sweet coffee mug for enjoying a good cup while camping is an essential.  This one is my favorite and was a gift from my kids.  It is a nice heave ceramic one and has the retro design that I so love.  You can find these on Amazon under Camp Casual!  They have a couple of other colors too.  We were able to find a set of red melamine dishes that go perfectly in our camper.  Camp Casual also makes a full set of dishes in melamine with a camping theme - also sold on amazon.

My next favorite thing would be cute dish towels and such.  My daughter-in-law made this one for me and it
is absolutely perfect!!  She adapted the colors to match our camper. I haven't decided how best to display it but you can be sure it will not be drying any dishes - this one is just for the joy of its beauty.  Of course it is also retro!  Love it!!

The Retro campers have a little wood valance over all of the windows and this makes an excellent place to have little items on display when camping.  We also set it up when it is parked here at home.  We are working on some ideas to place the pins we collect from the state campgrounds we visit.  We're also thinking of adding a map board that we can pin each campground as we visit.  You can see the valances in the picture below where Camper Lucy is enjoying the pillows on the bed.  She likes napping there and sleeps like a baby on the bed with us at night.

We also have a really cute retro toaster-coffee maker-griddle thing that lives on the dinning table when we are camping.  Of course it's red and I also found it at Amazon.  It is just perfect for two and works great. It also comes in the old fashioned aqua too.  Since we camped for years before we had a camper, we have a lot of stuff like chairs, mats and such.  Surprisingly Walmart now has a decent camp section and we added a new large outdoor rug from there to cut down on tracking in sand and dirt.  We also added two of those balance type chairs for our campsite and they are so comfortable you can even take a snooze in them.  Pictures of this set up are in some of our earlier posts.

We love lights for our little awning that pulls out over the front door and the kids gave us a set of chili pepper ones.  One strand works perfect and they are pictured in the right side photos.  We are planning to get a video done of the camper inside and out the way we set it up when we camp.  We will include information on where we found items included.  I am sure we will add more as we go.  We are always trying to get things as organized as is possible and to keep out weight under control when towing.  For us the main objective is for it to make us feel at home wherever we go and just plain fun.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Camp Chili

One of our very favorite foods for fall camping is Chili and Beans!  I added beans because I know that in many parts of the country Chili is something very different from what we make.  We use both ground turkey and beef and several different kinds of beans.  I make this at home and freeze it because chili just gets better the longer the beans and other goodies get to hang out together.  You can also make it meatless and we have done that many times. Corn is also really good in this too.  Now as I have said before - I'm no chef so this is just an idea to get you started and it's just easy and yummy!!!  This is a big ole batch so if you don't want lots of chili then cut back on the amounts.

Camp Chili
2 pounds ground turkey
3 pounds ground beef
Large can tomato sauce
Large can tomato puree
2 cans of Rotel tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
3 cubes beef bullion
2 cups water
1 cup catsup
1 large chopped onion
1 large chopped bell pepper
2 tablespoons jarred garlic or fresh
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash
Salt and pepper to taste (I use a lot!)
2 large cans kidney beans
2 small cans chili beans
2 cans black beans

I like to add the tomatoes and liquids to the soup pot first and let them start to simmer.  In a sauce pan I sautee the onion, garlic and bell pepper until tender and add to the pot.  Then brown the turkey and hamburger and add to the pot. There is a big debate around my house about how the meat is browned!  I like it chunky and hubby likes if very fine.  If I make it it's gonna be chunky - I want to know there is meat int there!  :-)   I do season all of these as I brown/sautee them to add flavor.  At this point I season this mixture and it should be a little strong because the beans will dilute the flavor.  I let it simmer for about an hour before adding the beans.

Give the mixture a good stir and drain and rinse the beans.  The only ones I don't rinse are the chili beans because they are packed in a seasoned sauce.  Add all of the beans to the hot tub and stir well.  I normally simmer for at least a couple of hours after that and add more of anything that may be missing at this point.  If it is too thick you can add more water.  Too thin - you can add more catsup or sauce.  For us this makes a huge stock pot full of chili.  We top ours with cheese and raw onions, sour cream and crackers.  Enjoy and remember it's even better the next day!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hunting Island State Park

For our second camping trip in our Little Red Retro we went down to Hunting Island State Park.  We had been here previously but it has been over 31 years.  We actually spent part of our honeymoon there and loved it.  This trip did not disappoint and we had an awesome time.

We spent 4 days there and really hated to leave.  Hurricane Matthew was getting ready to roll in so it's good we had to leave but it was grudgingly.  During our stay we had deer come right up to us and lick our hands.  I'm sure they thought we had food but its strictly forbidden to feed the wildlife...but I sure wanted to.  There were families of deer all over the campground and they would scamper in
and out of our campsite and watch us and walk right up.  Then there were the raccoons - they would scamper all about and were not afraid to take what they wanted.  They were always in twos or threes and every night we would forget and leave something out and they would swipe it.  They ate two bags of marshmallows and so much more.  We really enjoyed the critters and looked forward to their escapades every day.

This is a large park by our standards and if you camp there you can climb to the top of the Hunting Island Lighthouse free of charge.  There is a nature science center with all sorts of reptiles and you can hug a snake if you are so inclined.  I am not....not ever.  The sites vary in size and are roomy and include a picnic table, fire ring, electrical hook up and water.  There are also tent sites that are only accessible on foot and those are definitely for the adventurous types.  We loved walking up and seeing their setups but you really have to bring the super bug spray to stay in those areas.

This campground has wireless and it is connected at every bath house so if it is super important to you then you may want to check the maps when selecting your site.  On this visit we could not get access - we were about two sites down out of range.  However when hubby needed to do a little work he walked down to an empty site near a bath house and hooked right up.  We also got fairly regular TV antenna reception and enjoyed some old moves and such at night.  Cell service was excellent for us too.  There is a very nice camp store and we walked there everyday and got ice cream and anything else we needed.  They had boiled peanuts, coffee and cold drinks also.

This is another pet friendly campground and dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on a leash.  They can even walk right out on the beach and explore.  Lucy loved exploring the campground and walking on the beach.  There are lots of dooty bags and stations around the campground.  Be sure to pack your bug spray for you and your pups - this place has lots of water and some sights are buggier than others.

Of course the real attraction here is the long stretch of beach - it's natural and unspoiled with no commercialism here.  It is just beautiful and full of all kinds of creatures if you into that sort of stuff.  We glimpsed all sorts of crabs and such.  You can actually follow the beach all the way down to the lighthouse.  It is a hike but a beautiful walk.  There is a little gift shop and more trails and outdoor areas to enjoy.

For us this campground hit all five campers on our rating system.  We loved the sites, the bath houses were clean and well stocked by state park standards.  The showers were hot and roomy with curtains on the stalls.  There are senior volunteers onsite who camp there for 3 months at a time as well as a camp chaplain and camp hosts.  This park was packed out and that is normally a good sign.  We noticed campers of all ages but there was a good number of seniors and we always enjoy that...since we are seniors too.  We hope to plan a full week at Hunting Island next year!

Cost:  $
Location:  5 out of a possible 5 - this is one of our favorites!
Service:  Excellent
Overall Rating:  5 out of a possible 5 Campers


Monday, October 3, 2016

Why Do We Camp???

Why do we camp....this is a question we hear a lot - especially way back when we tent camped.  I can't answer this for anyone else but for us it is our reset button.

Why would you want to cook outside, use bug spray like it's hand lotion, hover over a hole in the ground to do unspeakable things???  Also - there is lots of discussion about what is really camping and what is just staying somewhere else other than home.  Some say if you use an RV then you aren't really camping.  Others call it Glamping.  For us our little camper is a safe haven.....we still cook outside, still use the bath house at campgrounds and spend a good deal of our time outside the camper.  But I am the first to admit that we are not the hard core campers who are out in the woods in a tent with no running water.  We are old and those days, for the most part, have passed us by.  I like knowing that I have a place to go if I need to use the bathroom at night and its dark outside.  I like having a hot shower in the bathhouse and I like the combination of the comforts of home along with the experience of staying in a campground.

Now why do we do this - well here is a list of our reasons - I am sure there are others but these are the ones that come to mind.  I love knowing why others enjoy it too.  We have met so many people along the way and we share our stories and we find so much more in common that we could imagine.  It is an awesome community!

  1. It is a reset - a back to simple things trip that gives us time to do things that we just don't take the time to do at home.
  2. It makes us thankful - for running water, hot showers, a clean place to sleep, and good food to eat.  When we get back home we are ever more thankful for the ease of life there and we appreciate simple things so much more.
  3. The nature - I can't say this enough.  We have seen things at campgrounds that we would never experience at home.  Having a  young deer lick your hand and look you right in the eye is something I will never forget.  Seeing a little family of raccoons scamper up a tree and sit and watch is was just amazing.
  4. Walking....we walk and exercise so much more than at home.  We drive less and force ourselves to do things and we actually like it.  If you knew me then you would know that is quite the accomplishment.
  5. People - campers are just the best.  We meet the most remarkable people and they teach us so much. We meet their awesome dogs and learn about where they are from and what camping means for them.
  6. The food - you just learn a new appreciation for how to make things over a fire or on a small grill.  You learn to combine the skills you use at home with making the best of what you have on hand.  When you sit down to enjoy that meal you just created it just tastes better, smells better and you linger over your meal and enjoy the experience.
  7. The atmosphere.  One of my favorite things is a walk around the camp at dusk when there are smells in the air of fires and dinners being prepared.  Lights of all sorts and types glow around the campsites.  Kids are playing outside and you hear laughter and joy.  I so enjoy seeing the different setups, tents, campers and more.  
  8. Travel - camping allows us to travel and is so much more affordable.  Exploring our state and neighboring ones is something we otherwise would not be able to do.
  9. The stars - you can't see stars in many places like you can in a campground or out away from light pollution.  We had never seen anything like the evening sky show we glimpsed each night on our last trip. 
  10. The sounds - the chirping, croaking, humming, singing of nature is magical and so very peaceful for us.
Now I am sure there are many more advantages that don't come to mind but these are the highlights for us.  I
love discovering the joys others find.  In my mind camping is not just a leisure activity but a healthy habit.  Already planning our next adventure. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Camp Cooking

Cooking and eating are two things we really enjoy about camping!  I especially love making stews and chili ahead and taking them with us.  You can freeze it for the trip and it will also help keep things cold in the cooler or fridge.

This week I made Chicken Corn Chowder with dumplings.  Now this is definitely not a soup - it is hearty and you can almost eat it with a fork.  You could make it soupier by adding more broth and or milk.  It is a little labor intensive but you could speed things along by using already prepared ingredients.  It makes a huge pot that would feed a hoard of hungry campers.

I am a utility cook, not a Martha Stewart wannabe or anything near close to it.  I love cooking but I make mistakes and burn stuff on a regular basis.  That's why I love soups and stews because they are so flexible and hard to screw up.  So here's my recipe.  Let me know if you like it or if you have any better ideas.  It will be going with us on our next weekend camping trip.
Fall camping is such a great time for this type of food!

Chicken Corn Chowder with Dumplings
3-4 pounds of boneless chicken breast chopped in bite size pieces
8-10 slices of bacon
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 large onion chopped
2 tablespoons jarred garlic (or fresh)
6 cups chicken broth (More or less depending on how thick you want it to be)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3-4 stalks celery chopped
1 jar alfredo sauce
1 1/2 cups carrots chopped
4-5 potatoes peeled and chopped
1 cup half and half
1 large bag of frozen corn
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 cups Bisquick or baking mix
2/3 cups skim milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic salt

I like to build the stew so I start a stock pot with the chicken broth added and after it is warm I add the cream of chicken soup and alfredo - yep I said alfredo.  It gives the stew a nice creamy texture and a great taste.  I used a whisk to stir this as it heats and get it all mixed together.    Then in another pan, I add the chopped onion and sautee in grape seed or olive oil  (which ever I happen to have on hand) along with a couple of tablespoons margarine or butter.  I season each ingredient as it cooks with salt and pepper and garlic salt.  After they are softened I add the garlic and continue to cook for a few more minutes until both are transparent.  Then I add this to the broth and keep stirring.

Next I add the celery to the pan with butter or margarine and oil and sautee until tender, seasoning again as I go.  Add that to the pot and continue stirring.  Do the same with the carrots and then add to the hot tub.  Next add the potatoes to the pan and season well and sautee and add in with the broth mixture. 

Next I brown the bacon and put it aside to drain but leave the bacon fat in the pan.  Cook the chicken until browned slightly and almost done. I like it cut into bite sized pieces but hubby normally chops it for me.  He was working when I defiled this chicken so it was not chopped so perfectly but still worked just fine. Add to your pot.  At this point I let the stew simmer until the vegetables are almost done.  Then dump in the corn and stir well again.

Look at your stew and determine if it is brothy or soupy enough (yes I know that's not a word) and if not add more liquid.  Let it come to a gentle boil and add the half and half to a glass jar and add the corn starch and shake it up - after you add the lid.  Pour this into the chowder and stir well.  This will help it thicken.

Next add the Bisquick or baking mix to a bowl with the skim milk and mix well.  Be sure this is a very stiff dough or the dumplings will dissolve and you will have a pot of chicken mud. You can also use a can of biscuit dough cut into pieces.  Let the pot come to a gentle boil and drop the dumplings by the spoonful into the broth.  Don't stir - it's tempting but don't do it.  Let the dumplings cook 10 minutes with the lid off and then 10 with the lid on and this should get them done all the way through.  You can ladle broth over the top of the dumplings after the 20 minutes of cooking to get any raw spots done.  I also season the top of the dumplings with garlic salt and pepper while they are cooking. 

This can be served with shredded cheese and the chopped bacon.  It is delicious and it will stick to your ribs for sure.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Maiden Roll for the Little Red Retro

We took our Little Red Retro out on her first journey and rolled up to Calhoun Falls, SC.  If you have never heard of this little town don't be surprised.  We live in SC and had never heard or been aware that it existed.  It is very small with only one little grocery store and it it's surrounded by Lake Russell.  We camped in Calhoun Falls State Park which sits on the lake.  We have a state park pass and hope to hit all of the ones in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina.

This park is large compared to some we have visited and when I say natural and quiet, that is a real understatement.  We actually witnessed a family of deer running through the woods and squirrels frolicked about with no fear.  Each site includes a large iron stand to hang your trash so that its not down low for animal consumption.  Our site was on the lake and most are and each one has
ample room for an RV and tents as well.  There are pull through sites for third wheels and we visited one of the handicapped sites which was located in a good flat spot with a roll up pad for wheel chairs, etc.  All lake front sites have a set of steps to get down to the water.  Of course there's a picnic table, grill and hook-ups for RVs.  We had no trouble with our trip to the dump station when we left and recycling is also available.

This park has something for just about every camper including tennis courts, basketball court, swimming area with a beach front to the lake, boat launch ramps, hiking trails and more.  The one thing you won't find here is wireless.  Lots of campers had tailgater pods and  little satellite dishes and they appeared to work fine here.  We have an air TV antenna on our unit but nestled in the trees here in the woods it didn't work  We did get good cell reception and that worked good throughout our two day stay.

So for us this campground hit about 4 out of 5 campers on our rating system.  The bathrooms were typical of state campground facilities and had ample supplies with older showers but toilets were in good condition and the bath houses were located in fairly convenient locations.  One thing to be aware of is there is very little lighting at night.  We found that a good flashlight was a life saver and really was necessary.  There were lots of dogs in tow and we of course had our little camper Lucy.  You will just need to bring along your dooty bags for pick-ups and pups must be leashed at all times.  Lucy gave this campground a big ole paws up - she made friends and loved smelling all the trails and lake areas.  So in summary we enjoyed Calhoun Falls and would definitely return.  We found the staff at the lodge helpful and friendly and the little onsite store had lots of goodies as well as necessary items you might forget.

Ok so here is our rating for Calhoun Falls Campground:

Cost:  $
Location:  4.5 out of a possible 5
Service:  Excellent
Overall Rating:  4 out of a possible 5 Campers 

So far we love our Little Red Retro and are very happy with our first RV purchase.  We already have our second trip planned for the end of September.  We will be checking into Hunting Island State Park Campground!  Pics and our review on that one to come.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Litte Red Retro ~ Our Road Warrior

Well - we finally did it!  After 30 plus years of wanting and wishing, we took the plunge and got ourselves a tiny sweet little camper.  As old tent campers this is an awesome refuge from the heat and more.  We are in love!!  She is a Riverside Retro RV and very light making it possible that we can pull her with our Ford Edge.  We took her out on her maiden roll a week ago and it was awesome - more on that later.

This little unit is so compact but packs a punch in details and comfort.  It has a roof top air conditioner that will absolutely blow you out with cold air.  It has both heat pump and gas heat, gas stove and a wet bath.  There is a full size queen bed and dinning area and tons of storage spaces and cabinets.  It also includes a little dinette reminiscent of the 50's and 60's canned hams.  We had thought for years that we would try and rehab an old original one of these but one day when we were out and about we saw a couple of the Retro's at a local dealership and we were hooked - it was love at first sight!

There are different sizes and models of the Retro and we chose the Model 166 based on weight and affordability.  Their web site linked above gives the floor plans and pics of them inside and out.  Down the road if we change up vehicles, we may opt for a bigger model of RV.  For now this one is a dream come true and we are hoping to schedule one camping trip per month.

We will rate the sites we visit and offer tips and info on senior camping and what makes it easier, harder and just plain enjoyable.  For me, I have always loved the atmosphere of the campground and seeing all of the different campers and set ups.  It's an awesome community and we are so excited to be a part of it.  Join us as we roll through South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina on our first adventures.  By the way we live in South Carolina.