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.

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.