Hi Everyone! It’s been a while since I updated you on our happenings and whereabouts, so I’ll share where we are, what we’ve been up to, and what our plans are for the spring.
We spent the holidays in Atlanta with Family, then took the snowbird route down to Florida for the winter. We’ve wintered in Florida a couple times now and we love how warm and sunny the state stays all through the winter months – especially in the south.
We’re spending most of the winter in Florida in one RV park.
This winter we planned ahead and booked a couple months in Florida. Florida is very popular with Full Time RVers in the winter so it can be surprisingly difficult to find last-minute campground reservations. If you’re thinking of spending a few winter months in Florida it’s a good idea to make reservations and plan ahead.
While we don’t often stay in one place for even a month, it felt like it was time to take a long break from the road. I figure we’ve moved our RV every two weeks on average. That works out to about 100 times we’ve moved in the past 4 years! Packing up every couple weeks does keep things interesting, but after 4+ years of full-time travel, it’s easy to understand why we need a break.
We found a small park just south of Tampa, Florida, and we booked 2 months. We’ve been here a month and already feel much more rested. By April 1st we’ll be ready to hit the road again – and I think Lexi (our cat) is ready already! 🙂
We Replaced Our RV Toilet
Our RV’s original equipment toilet was a Thetford ‘Aqua-Magic®’ model with a foot pedal flush and a fixed, rear water nozzle. The unit was surprisingly loud to flush but otherwise worked ok – although the nozzle clogged easily (hard water) and the flush/spray pattern left a lot to be desired.
Unfortunately on approximately the 18,250th flush the spring in the foot flush mechanism burst free from the foot pedal, never to be constrained again. The spring was a large, well-torqued unit installed in a fully plastic foot pedal, and the pedal structure was clearly only designed to hold the spring for around 18,000 flushes. In my opinion the pedal should have had a metal sleeve to hold the spring, but I digress.
In spite of that, I managed to ‘fix’ the toilet enough for it to work, and it continued to limp along for a few months.
The problem is that without the spring the foot pedal doesn’t snap back up and close the water valve. If the pedal was left down even slightly then water was continually added to the bowl. That made it very easy to flood our RV, as the pedal needed to be manually pulled all the way up after each use.
As a result, we narrowly avoided flooding our RV on at least two occasions. Once was at night as I was awoken to the sound of dripping water cascading over the edge of the bowl. The other fortunately happened during the day while we were here. It was clearly time to replace the toilet!
We picked out a new Dometic 320 Series Toilet and ordered it on Amazon.com: – http://amzn.to/2lvJN57. The 320 Series is a residential-style toilet with a 360-degree rim wash flush and a wooden seat – advertised to feel more like a ‘real’ toilet in a house.
[box]Note – If you replace an RV toilet it’s important to measure the space around your existing toilet before ordering or purchasing a new unit. Different toilets have different footprints, and some toilets (like the Dometic 320) are longer and narrower than other toilets. Also, RV toilets come in two heights. Standard height toilets are floor mount units typically found in 5th-Wheel and Class-A models. Low Profile toilets are mounted on a rise or a box (typically located over a wheel well). See our pictures for a low profile toilet.[/box]
The new Dometic toilet installed easily on the existing Thetford toilet flange. The water connection and the bolt pattern is the same. The only other thing I needed to replace was the toilet flange gasket – and a new one was included with the toilet.
The new toilet works great! We especially like the 360-degree flush feature, as the toilet has an inner lip with angled holes that spray water from all sides when the pedal is pressed. The toilet also includes a hand sprayer with a wall mount.
We Replaced The Bathroom Sink Faucet, Too
This project wasn’t by choice. After using the faucet on full, Kathy noticed a dripping sound coming from inside the cabinet. Uh oh.
I got out a flashlight, pulled some drawers off and confirmed that there was water dripping from the faucet onto wires and vent hoses (see pics). Not good.
Next, I pulled off a panel so I could access the sink. I looked for the source of the leak, and unfortunately it was coming directly from the faucet itself. It wasn’t something that could be easily fixed – I had to replace the entire faucet.
Fortunately, RV faucets and house faucets are the same, so we headed to Home Depot and picked up this Delta faucet.
Replacing the faucet was easy. The hot and cold water connections are the same, and the existing pipes were fine, so after turning off the RV water at the spigot (very important!), I unscrewed the hot and cold and then unscrewed the brackets that were holding the faucet to the counter.
The new Delta faucet slipped perfectly into the existing hole, and the mountain bracket easily attached to the counter. I threaded the hot and cold water onto the new faucet (make sure these are tight – thread tape doesn’t hurt!) – turned the RV water back on, and we were in business.
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We Went to the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa
Even though we live in an RV and see RVs every day, we still like to go see even more RVs at RV shows. The Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa bills itself as the largest RV show, and it doesn’t disappoint.
The show has almost every RV and RV type you could want, including thousands of Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels, Class Cs, Class As, and even Super Cs and Sport Haulers.
While it’s easy to spend all day – or even several days – at the RV SuperShow, we managed to see everything we wanted to see in an afternoon. I wrote a post about maximizing your time at an RV show → if you’re like us and want to see everything but don’t want to spend all day doing it. You can see more pics there as well.
We Checked out Dunedin, Florida
Dunedin was settled in 1852 by some Scottish settlers, making Dunedin one of Floridas oldest towns. The city is located to the north of Tampa and St. Petersberg, and sits right on the Gulf of Mexico.
The downtown is full of shops, restaurants, and breweries, plus there’s a park with public restrooms and a nice harbor. The shopping district is bisected by the Pinellas Trail – a popular 32 mile rail trail that runs all the way to St. Pete.
Dunedin is also home to Honeymoon Island State Park which along with Caladesi Island State Park (accessible by boat) has beautiful beaches and good hiking trails. Unfortunately we got the idea to go to Honeymoon Island a little late in the day, so we’ll have to explore it next time.
We enjoyed walking around the town, and wish we’d brought our bikes for the Pinellas Trail.
we also had a fantastic meal at the Clear Sky Draught House. We had excellent food, outstanding service, and some really delicious beers on tap (Funky Bhudda Nib Smuggler). Highly recommended by us.
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In Other News
We filmed an episode of ‘Big Time RV’ back in February of 2016 in Tucson, AZ. Our episode is finally set to Debut on the Travel Channel on Sunday, March 19th at 9:30pm.
You can see the details of our episode ‘Surfing Safari’ here – We’re the couple who’s been fulltiming for years looking for a bigger RV.
If you watch the show, then note that we did not purchase a new RV. It’s TV, and we didn’t even get to choose the RVs we reviewed – nor have we seen the episode yet.
While we’re here we’ve been focused on doing maintenance and minor repairs, so stay tuned for posts on those. We’ve also added a few accessories including a water softener. I’ll be doing a writeup on that soon, as a water softener is a borderline necessity if you plan to RV in Florida for very long with it’s very hard water.
Last but not least, Florida has quite the blossoming craft beer scene and I plan to do a post about that in the near future as well. Until then, happy trekking!