The car snack conundrum

What do you do when you are on that long drive between point A and point B and stopping to pick-up a sandwich (or pop into the fifth wheel and make them) just isn’t feasible?  This is a common problem for us, between Pickles needing to eat at roughly the same time everyday and just plain hunger on those long drives.

We’ve tried the old standbys of crackers and cheese, fruit, and cookies but honestly those aren’t such a great solution.  We don’t have anywhere we can store a cooler to keep things cold.  Dave always suggests jerky but it is usually overly salty and not the best choice for the animals (despite their universal love for all forms of jerky). 

I made these awesome cookies last weekend and in the middle of this week.  They are oatmeal cookies so full of good fiber.  But they are not savory and trust me, Pickles hyped up on sugar in the backseat chattering his fool head off will make no one happy!

This week we ordered a meat bar from Epic.  I know sounds weird right?

Dave was the designated test subject.  Let’s just say they weren’t what we were expecting.  We were both surprised when he opened the package and there was moisture, ooey, gooey moisture.  Raised eyebrows and a skeptical bite later (well, ok I took a small nibble as opposed to his bite) and we were confused.

It wasn’t bad, but at the same time it wasn’t something I’d go out of the way to find again.  Yes it’s full of protein and is something we could all eat in Lana toddling down the road, but it is incredibly bland.  And by incredibly bland, it might have been raw bison because there was no other flavor note.  We couldn’t taste the bacon or the cranberries, although you could see the cranberries.  There needed to be a spicy, peppery note to balance out the sweetness.

It’s hard to wrap your mind around wet meat that is shelf stable.  Admittedly it checks all kinds of trendy boxes: gluten-free, paleo, environmental etc. but as nice as all that may be, if in the end the product is just weird on the palate what’s the point?

We have more of the bars sitting on the counter and I highly suspect they will become expensive dog and bird snacks while traveling.  I still need to come up with a savory cookie that travels well and tastes good.  I can’t see myself voluntarily consuming the meat bar. 

So, what do you eat driving down the road?

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Lessons Learned This Trip (So Far)

We’ve been gone five days this trip and the first three were filled with lessons learned.

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Dave decided he could back The Gump in alone just using the truck mirrors.  He forgot to account for the tree on the passenger side.  The tree decided to fight back and now The Gump has exterior war wounds.  It had to happen sooner or later and now we know.

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Not all camp hosts are created equal and the lovely view above was the last straw after wounding The Gump earlier in the day.  We didn’t come prepared for dry camping, our fault since we misread the campsite descriptor as including sewer.  Damage, no sewer hookups, and a neon green cactus made us change our plans and reservations.

After some quick, but thorough, research we made new reseverations with full hookups and cell coverage according to the maps.

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Well, those cell coverage maps failed to account for the dead spot we landed in.  Zero bars on either AT&T or Verizon which was just soul crushing, because go around the bend and wham four bars of coverage. The site had full hookups but was primitive and poorly marked.

We stayed but sat down and came up with a new strategy moving forward.   First night or two of a new locale we are staying at a known quantity  (either via word of mouth or listed amenities confirmed with campsite personnel) and we will then use the next day to scope out the cell coverage where we truly want to be for two weeks or a month.  The constant moving from campsite A to campsite B is stressful and exhausting.  A little more foresight and planning on our part can elminates, well greatly minimize, the stress.

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Sunday morning we are returning to Fool Hollow Lake State Park.  We both love it there, as do the flock.  Pickles has loved hanging out on the back patio here at Dead Horse Ranch and at Alamo Lake state parks.  The dogs and Leo have been as pleased as punch about it too.

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Our PDI Experience

This post is late because we got home from Tucson and immediately came down with very bad colds and the flu. We are both finally recovering and feeling human.   So without further ado, our PDI experience with La Mesa RV Tucson follows.

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Lana and The Gump headed for home for the first time

 

We went to Tucson the third week of December and lucky us, it was the coldest week in the last several months.  Dave was grumbling about the amount of stuff I was packing to take but hey, we were camping out on the lot for at least two days so stuff had to come along.  Once the normal spousal grumbling ceased we made our way to Tucson, fully expecting the worst.  We had heard so many horror stories about dealers rushing the PDI and things not being caught.  I had warned La Mesa I was going to be a stickler and they assured me that it would be no problem.

Our expectations for far exceeded and there was no single question that wasn’t answered or concern addressed.  The PDI was actually an incredibly reassuring experience.  Every person we dealt with was professional, polite, and low key.  When we arrived we greeted by our salesman, Chris Johns, who introduced us to our service manager, Floyd Hall.  Floyd and Chris are exceptional individuals who I will heap praise upon in the next post

Floyd had one of his service advisors, Dave Masters, walk us out to the fifth wheel and he proceeded to walk us through the outside of the coach.  Dave had more questions than I did but the Dave’s asked and answered until my Dave was comfortable.  Then we went inside where I had more questions, which were comfortably asked and answered.

Not once did either of us dig out one of the numerous check lists we had found online prior to leaving for Tucson.  I’m infamous for making lists and so it is shocking that not once during the entire PDI process did I feel the need to pull out a PDI checklist.  I attribute that to the patience and professionalism of Floyd and his team.

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Hard at work for the first time in The Gump

 

When we purchased the coach, part of the deal was that we would spend a couple of nights on the lot at La Mesa before signing off on the PDI.  I cannot tell you how invaluable those nights were.  Dave worked during the day, as you can see above.  (He actually hates that picture but I’m proud of him since he lost fifty pounds in 2015).  Every morning we had an e-mail waiting for Floyd with questions or things that went wrong overnight.  Those camping nights were far more educational than the physical walkthrough.  Every morning John, our service technician, would knock on the door prepared to fix stuff, everything from misbehaving  MCD shades to gouged flooring.

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The first selfie I think we’ve ever taken

 

Speaking of gouged flooring, the amazing ladies at Creative Colors International out of Casa Grande, AZ did an amazing job repairing our linoleum (of which they had never seen or repaired before).  The repair job is so amazing that neither of us can pinpoint the exact location where the floor was damaged.  The pictures below are of the repaired area, before and after.  It’s a little evident in a close-up photo but everyday life, not at all visible.

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Before

 

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After

We are pleased that the floor looks so good and the linoleum didn’t have to be ripped up and replaced.

 

We left on Friday morning, after three nights on the La Mesa lot.  Almost every concern or issue we had was addressed prior to returning home.  The outstanding issues were under discussion with La Mesa and Dutchmen for resolution.  The Gump will be returning to Tucson at the end of January for outstanding items and the new stuff we’ve found on the first trip out.

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Our landing lights, one of which was out and only discovered while camping on the dealer lot

 

Our biggest advice and take-away from the PDI experience?  Staying overnight on the dealer lot before signing off on your rig cannot be under-estimated.  So many issues and concerns were addressed that we would not have found during the normal PDI process.  Should we ever replace The Gump, we will be overnighting on the dealer’s lot during the PDI.

Meet Lana: “There’s no Hitch in her Giddy-Up”

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FINALLY my lazy parents did something about having no wheels with which to transport me in the style in which I’ve become accustomed.  They left here yesterday morning early and came home after dark with Lana.  Now mind you, I have no idea WHY it took so long to pick out a truck and they haven’t introduced me to her formally but from the pictures she sure is pretty!  I can’t wait to leave my mark on her!

 

Pickles is right, we did take a long time yesterday but after we signed all the paperwork we took a “test drive” to Tucson to measure the mattress in the Heartland Big Country 3900FLP and to walk thru the Heartland Landmark Newport.  We did both of those in record time and then Dave poked his head into the Heartland Edge 397 and fell in love.  And yep, we are all over the map still trying to make up our minds on the right fifth wheel.

 

We purchased a new 2015 Dodge Ram 3500HD Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4×4 Long Box for roughly $5,000 more than what we were considering purchasing from CarMax.  The mileage was less than 50 and the tires were brand new.  It was additional money well spent. 

 

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We looked at all the lower priced models from the tradesman on up and we decided to test drive the one we purchased.  We could only test drive this one because it was the ONLY one we looked at that had side rails already.  I couldn’t have gotten in the cabs of the other models without a step stool and no way that was happening!

 

Ok sure, the gray is boring to look at and is just like almost every other Dodge truck out there that isn’t white but it isn’t white so I consider that a plus.  Dave was nervous as all get out driving it for the first time.  Lana has wide hips, no seriously Lana is much wider than James.  He was nervous but he did just fine.

 

We purchased from Larry H. Miller Dodge in Avondale and it was a completely painless, dare I say pleasant, car buying experience.  Jonathon Robison was our salesman and he was easy going and pleasant.  No high pressure sales tactics employed and we would both recommend purchasing a vehicle from Larry H. Miller.

 

WP_20151123_001There she is in our driveway.  She just barely fits, as you can see her rear end hangs over onto the sidewalk somewhat.  I’m dubious that she will fit in the garage but Dave thinks she will just barely.  Time will tell.

WP_20151123_007  Oh did I mention that I’m just barely taller than the bed of the truck?  I’m flat footed on the sidewalk and as you can see my nose is below the top of the tailgate.  No, that’s not intimidating at all!

 

 

For me, most important was the ride comfort and would there be room for the animals.  The answer is yes, although the ride isn’t quite as comfortable as James right now but we both realize that is because the backend is lighter than it should be.  And to be honest that deck in the back seat and the storage lockers on each side are awesome.  The storage lockers provide a place for dog leads to go and I no longer have to worry about them falling out of the door.  The deck means a lower step to the floor for Wally and an easier step in for him as well, not to mention a hidey hole for Leo should he want one.

 

Archer-Logo

 

Dave and I are HUGE fans of Archer which airs on FX.  We spent the drive to Tucson yesterday trying to name the vehicle and ultimately Lana just fit!  On the show, Lana is Archer’s love interest at times, nemesis, and now the mother of his child.  But in her own right she kicks ass and takes names and is often very fond of saying “NOOOOPE!”.  Well, that whole “NOOOOPE!” sentiment fits the truck.  As we learned, the truck accelerates like a bat outta hell and routinely says “NOOOOPE!” to cars that try and cut us off.  (I mean who in their right mind is going to try and cut off a truck this size?)

 

So, Lana she was christened and her motto is “There is no hitch in her giddy-up” quite simply because she gets out of her own way very quickly.  Overall, we spent more than we wanted to right before the holidays but we are comfortable and happy with what we purchased.  Lana will be in the family for many years to come!

 

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Meet Lana: “There’s no Hitch in her Giddy-Up”

WP_20151122_003

 

FINALLY my lazy parents did something about having no wheels with which to transport me in the style in which I’ve become accustomed.  They left here yesterday morning early and came home after dark with Lana.  Now mind you, I have no idea WHY it took so long to pick out a truck and they haven’t introduced me to her formally but from the pictures she sure is pretty!  I can’t wait to leave my mark on her!

 

Pickles is right, we did take a long time yesterday but after we signed all the paperwork we took a “test drive” to Tucson to measure the mattress in the Heartland Big Country 3900FLP and to walk thru the Heartland Landmark Newport.  We did both of those in record time and then Dave poked his head into the Heartland Edge 397 and fell in love.  And yep, we are all over the map still trying to make up our minds on the right fifth wheel.

 

We purchased a new 2015 Dodge Ram 3500HD Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4×4 Long Box for roughly $5,000 more than what we were considering purchasing from CarMax.  The mileage was less than 50 and the tires were brand new.  It was additional money well spent. 

 

WP_20151122_002

We looked at all the lower priced models from the tradesman on up and we decided to test drive the one we purchased.  We could only test drive this one because it was the ONLY one we looked at that had side rails already.  I couldn’t have gotten in the cabs of the other models without a step stool and no way that was happening!

 

Ok sure, the gray is boring to look at and is just like almost every other Dodge truck out there that isn’t white but it isn’t white so I consider that a plus.  Dave was nervous as all get out driving it for the first time.  Lana has wide hips, no seriously Lana is much wider than James.  He was nervous but he did just fine.

 

We purchased from Larry H. Miller Dodge in Avondale and it was a completely painless, dare I say pleasant, car buying experience.  Jonathon Robison was our salesman and he was easy going and pleasant.  No high pressure sales tactics employed and we would both recommend purchasing a vehicle from Larry H. Miller.

 

WP_20151123_001There she is in our driveway.  She just barely fits, as you can see her rear end hangs over onto the sidewalk somewhat.  I’m dubious that she will fit in the garage but Dave thinks she will just barely.  Time will tell.

WP_20151123_007  Oh did I mention that I’m just barely taller than the bed of the truck?  I’m flat footed on the sidewalk and as you can see my nose is below the top of the tailgate.  No, that’s not intimidating at all!

 

 

For me, most important was the ride comfort and would there be room for the animals.  The answer is yes, although the ride isn’t quite as comfortable as James right now but we both realize that is because the backend is lighter than it should be.  And to be honest that deck in the back seat and the storage lockers on each side are awesome.  The storage lockers provide a place for dog leads to go and I no longer have to worry about them falling out of the door.  The deck means a lower step to the floor for Wally and an easier step in for him as well, not to mention a hidey hole for Leo should he want one.

 

Archer-Logo

 

Dave and I are HUGE fans of Archer which airs on FX.  We spent the drive to Tucson yesterday trying to name the vehicle and ultimately Lana just fit!  On the show, Lana is Archer’s love interest at times, nemesis, and now the mother of his child.  But in her own right she kicks ass and takes names and is often very fond of saying “NOOOOPE!”.  Well, that whole “NOOOOPE!” sentiment fits the truck.  As we learned, the truck accelerates like a bat outta hell and routinely says “NOOOOPE!” to cars that try and cut us off.  (I mean who in their right mind is going to try and cut off a truck this size?)

 

So, Lana she was christened and her motto is “There is no hitch in her giddy-up” quite simply because she gets out of her own way very quickly.  Overall, we spent more than we wanted to right before the holidays but we are comfortable and happy with what we purchased.  Lana will be in the family for many years to come!

 

20151123_082105