Archive for April, 2015

Bentonville Arkansas as a Tourist

Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges Museum newly installed outdoor sculpture (No artist info installed yet)

We’ve had some guests stop by for a visit on their way to other parts of the county. Chris and Cherie of Technomadia and their friends (and now our friends) Forrest and Mary parked their homes on wheels at our property in Bentonville AR.

We met Chris and Cherie at Sam’s Family Spa & RV Resort  last December and again in the desert of Borrego Springs, CA. They were a part of the infamous Soup Anarchy and outdoor movie night in the desert where wild ingredients were haphazardly combined to make an impressive dining experience.

Big screen movie theater with natural surround sound

Anyway…Chris and Cherie and friends were making their way to the middle of the country together before parting ways somewhere near St. Louis. But not before stopping in good ol’ Bentonville Arkansas for 3 nights.

We tried to be good hosts shooting for a 5 star experience. We gained points for trimming trees before they arrived and providing some Michelin 5 star quality meals, if I do say so myself (alright, perhaps a bit of an exaggeration).

But the stars we gained in tree trimming and baked salmon we lost in road noise and soft ground, as recent rains prevented us from maneuvering their rigs away from the road. We give ourselves a self-proclaimed 3.5 Star rating.

We spent a day showing off our wonderful community to our guests.

You can’t do Bentonville without showing off Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. None of us are really “art” people, but we could all appreciated the magnificence of such a beautiful facility strategically place on grounds that were in full display of spring.

We explored Crystal Bridges from the outside, with the intention of touring the inside the following day during forecasted rain. Jeff shared with the group that the grounds of CB and Compton Gardens are made up of native Arkansas foliage, but was quickly humbled by a plant labeled “New Jersey Tea”.

Chris being the inquisitive geek that he is wanted to know how New Jersey Tea could be native to Arkansas. It wasn’t until further into our hike that we learned that this plant was NAMED in New Jersey, but IS native to Arkansas. Phew!

Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges and great friends!

We also learned that during the American Revolution when tea was being taxed so heavily by England, that the settlers went in search of their own tea…discovering New Jersey Tea in where else? New Jersey. It was commonly used by Native Americans to treat infections of the respiratory system. So…there you go!

We made our way back to the Bentonville square after about 3 ½ miles for a MUST STOP food truck, Crepes Paulette. Paulette and Fred, husband and wife own and operate their food trailer one block off the square. Fred, being a native of France, brings an authenticity and charm to he and his wife’s outdoor crepe experience. As an RV’er we can appreciate a good name for a trailer…theirs being Madame Poupon, after Fred’s parents housekeeper growing up. There are 35+ sweet or savory choices of buckwheat crepes, all delicate and tasty! If you come to town, don’t miss this local favorite.

Bentonville AR

Crepes Paulette is the BEST!

After lunch we took in the Walmart Museum at Sam Walton’s original 5 & 10. It’s a wonderful tribute to the man who started it all. It marks the history of Walmart and the tenacity, brilliance and passion of Mr. Sam.

I really liked seeing his old pickup truck. He was once asked why he didn’t drive a fancy car. He responded with, ‘‘what am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls-Royce?”

Bentonville AR

Good food and good friends

My favorite in the museum was a wall of returned items to Walmart stores. One item was a thermometer that someone returned because, “It kept terrible time” and a hand mixer that, “was possessed”.

We finished the Walmart Museum at their old-fashioned soda fountain for the cheapest scoops anywhere.

It was a beautiful day with wonderful friends. I’m sure they were tired of hearing about everything Walmart, but that’s just the world we live in as the home of the largest company in the world.

We LOVE our community and nothing brings about a new appreciation for our hometown than showing it off to fresh blood new eyes.

Jeff and I bid farewell to our friends as they headed off yesterday morning. We are stationary ourselves for another week before we head off to Las Vegas for the National Hardware Show. The plan is to then drive the company show vehicle from Las Vegas to Elkhart Indiana. At least that is the plan for now.

If that doesn’t happen then I guess we will “Au Pif “.

Bentonville AR

Wing It!

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Nashville Inspiration And The Big 4


Jeff and I are on a two-week road trip for business at the moment. We are making stops in Nashville, Louisville, Indianapolis, Elkhart, back to Indy, St. Louis and home to Arkansas.

Since we sold our Edge and are having work done on the Domani we are resorting to hotel stays for this trip. After traveling in an RV for the better part of 8 months and now traveling via hotels, I have to say I prefer our RV much better (of course I would).

Franklin, TN

While in Nashville, we had the privilege of having dinner with one of our favorite authors, Dan Miller , and his lovely family. He has authored books that have been very influential in our lives. 48 Days to the Work You Love, No More Dreaded Mondays, Wisdom Meets Passion, are just a few.

Jeff and I attended one of his Coaching With Excellence weekend workshop 3 years ago which was instrumental in getting us to where we are today…working in the RV industry and traveling this beautiful country both at the same time. OUR DREAM!

Dan challenged us to not think of options in terms of “either/or” but “this AND that”. “AND” is a powerful word when thinking of options in life. I’ve always thought in terms of…you have to do either this OR that. But Dan challenged us to think in terms of…why not do this AND that. Why can’t you pursue your dreams of traveling in an RV AND work at the same time? It was an interesting question and one we found the answer to by working in the RV industry.

We are so thankful to Dan and thankful to have the opportunity to share our appreciation in person!

One last thing about Franklin, TN…

We discovered a new-to-us restaurant called First Watch. They serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. First Watch has a limited menu with rotating items and everything is super fresh and super yummy. Our favorite was the Kale Tonic (Kale, cucumber, lime, apple) and Day Glow (Carrots, orange, lemon, ginger). Oh so good!

Nashville, TN

OMG…Kale Tonic at First Watch cafe

Louisville, KY

Our next stop was in Louisville, KY. We’ve been to Louisville several times, but never long enough to explore. So we headed to the riverfront area of Louisville early on a Sunday morning to go for a run.

Part of Louisville’s riverfront is a pedestrian and bike bridge called, The Big Four Bridge. It connects Kentucky with Indiana in less than a mile over the Ohio River.

The Big Four Bridge was originally constructed by the Louisville and Jefferson Bridge Company who started construction in 1888. The construction of the bridge was not without it’s challenges. After several accidents and deaths during construction, the bridge was completed in 1895. Unfortunately by then the Louisville and Jefferson Bridge Company was broke. It was sold that same year to the Indianapolis based Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, also known as the Big Four Railroad.

The Big Four Bridge fell into disused by 1968 and portions of the bridge were being dismantled by 1969.

In 1990 a proposal was made to convert the dilapidated bridge to a bike and pedestrian bridge as part of the Louisville Waterfront Park project. After millions of dollars the Big Four Bridge was re-opened in 2013 to people and bikes. We really enjoyed our run here!

Elkhart, IN

We headed further north to Elkhart Indiana making a brief stop over in Indianapolis to say hi to my college girlfriend Sherry. Sherry hiked the Rim2Rim with us last year.

In Elkhart we got our first look at our new-to-us RV, the Domani. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed. After our discussions with the seller and having our inspection, our expectations were a bit higher than the RV we walked into. Our “hardly camped in” RV had a lot of furniture ware and lingering cigarette smoke that let us know that it had been lived in more than had been disclosed.

It is going to be a bit more of a project than we had anticipated. But we love the floor plan, size and quality…the rest can be dealt with pretty easily. Thank goodness we bought this thing right!

Next week MasterTech RV will start on the biggest project, which is to take off the roof, repair the damage, run electrical and conduit and put on a new roof membrane. Our second priority will be to replace all the flooring in order to help with the smell.

We have a $20,000 budget for our entire project so we will see how much our roof and flooring costs us before we make plans for the rest.

Indianapolis, IN

One of Jeff’s bucket list items is to run a marathon in each state. So while we were passing through Indiana Jeff noticed that Carmel, Indiana was having a marathon. This was his 7th marathon state.

Carmel Marathon

Jeff finishing the Carmel IN Marathon…his 7th state!

While Jeff was at the marathon I went with my friend Sherry to a retirement party that one of her running friends was throwing for herself.

This was the wackiest and most fun retirement party I have ever been to.

It started at 6am for a 11 mile run or 7am for a 5 mile run (you choose) followed by slippers and coffee mixed in with a 10 minute core workout, 10 minute weight workout, 20 minute message, then hot tub soak, sauna and brunch. All before 10AM.

It was so fun that it was decided by the group that she needed to throw a quarterly retirement party for herself going forward!

We have one more leg on our journey home. We are looking forward to getting home and staying in one spot for more than 2 nights in a row.

Keep in touch!




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Big News And Buying Tips

Beaver Lake, AR. Not a bad spot to spend a few months.

Beaver Lake, AR. Not a bad spot to spend a few months.

Jeff and I have been home now for a few weeks and we have been busy with some pressing work stuff. But the really BIG NEWS (besides me turning 50-how did that happen?) is that…

 We sold our camper…the Ironman Can!

It was a hard decision especially since our 21’ Heartland Edge served us so well. Except for some insulation, we lacked for nothing on our epic trip out west. Yes, things were cozy at times especially when I wanted to stretch out my 6’ frame doing yoga on a cold morning inside the camper. But the time came for something a bit more…sturdy.

Our Edge was a “lightweight” not designed for heavy use or 4-season camping. And as we fell in love more and more with the RV lifestyle we new that our little camper would have to go. We couldn’t have had a better first camper and she served us well. Starting with a camper under $15k to test the waters was the right thing to do before investing in a more expenses “home” that we weren’t sure would just sit out in the back yard.

So what’s next? Well, we are the official new owners of a 2009 Carriage Domani 32’ Fifth Wheel. What is a Domani? It is a RV that we stumbled across on our search for a good quality, four seasons rig under 33 feet.

If you ever try to find a HIGH QUALITY RV ANYTHING under or around 30 feet, you will discover this is no easy task.

We seriously considered an Airstream after spending some time with the hip Airstreamer’s in the desert of Borrego Springs. We went so far as to use our RV business connections to try and get some vendor pricing for a 2015 Serenity. But with the hefty price tag, minuscule storage and low headroom shower compartment for our 6’ and over bodies, we just couldn’t pull the trigger.


Tempting. Very, very tempting!

At the same time we had found a Carriage Domani that we were able to look at on our drive back to Arkansas. After seeing her sleek modern lines, 20” rims and accompanied clearance (can you say off grid goodness?), that glorious storage compartment and big holding tanks, the Airstream lost its sparkle in a hurry. Of course the $75,000 price difference helped with the decision, making the Domani the clear choice for us.

Carriage Domani

Rockin some 20’s!

We are still in the process of getting our new-to-us RV, as you will read in a coming post. But through this process of buying/selling /buying we have learned a few lessons about buying an RV.

Keys to buying an RV

After you decide on a budget and the RV you want, don’t be in a hurry. Do your homework and educate yourself on what a good deal looks like. NADA priced the Domani at around $65k. The Domani we looked at in Texas was originally $41k and they would have taken $38K. We didn’t pop because it was a consignment and the cheesy salesman really turned us off with his old school sale tactics. We kept looking and found another for $31K from a private seller on and they accepted our offer of $30k.

Buy used…especially if it is your first RV. I’ve read to not spend more than $20k (I might even say $10k) on your first RV, because inevitably you will find what does and doesn’t work with the first RV…which then turns into a second, third and fourth one. We were so surprised by how many RV’ers trade up or down. Frequently. (Even Jeff and I are trading after 2 years) Let someone else take the hit on the depreciation, find out how much you will use it, and find out what you like before spending a lot of dinero.

Pay for an independent inspection. This will run you about $500. Since our Domani was in North Carolina and we were in Arizona at the time, we actually paid $150 to have the Domani hauled to a reputable dealer and have it inspected for $500. Even though the very nice sellers assured us that the RV had never been camped in and it was in impeccable shape our $650 discovered about $5,000-$7,500 worth of water damage and another $800 of non-working items. The inspection also confirmed that the RV was never used. Everything else was pristine…like a time capsule that had been shrink wrapped for 6 years.

Don’t shy away from a project. At first we were going to cut our losses and walk away. But after speaking with two different repair centers, we were reassured that the roof repair could all be fixed back to perfection for years of leak free use. Yes. It is an expensive process. So back to the sellers we went with a new offer of $25k, which they gladly accepted.

Use a negative to your benefit. Not only did we negotiate for a cheaper price, but we are also using the roof issue as an opportunity to run our upgraded wiring for technology and solar. This is a challenge to do when you are sealed on top and bottom of an RV. So this is a great time to run cables to make this a Smart RV for the future.

Are we happy with our purchase? That is a question for our next post….she says with a dramatic laugh! Wooohahahaha….

Happy Birthday to me! Not looking a day over 50

Happy Birthday to me! Sam has a bead on my cone

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