About Elsie the RV + Worthy RV Add-Ons

Meet Elsie 2!

Elsie 2 is our second RV, and her name pays homage to our original rig, Lucky Charm. (Say "L.C." out loud, and you get "Elsie"!)  She's a 2019 Fleetwood Southwind 34C.  Scroll to the end of this page for some of our favorite RV adds!





After "living and learning" with our first RV, we had very specific requirements for the floorplan, and Elsie checked all our boxes!
She's only 18 inches longer than our first RV, and at 34'3" still under the 35' length limit we set for ourselves (so as to still be able to fit in many state and national park campgrounds). Though the length and width are basically the same, we added some TWO FEET of storage underneath the length of the RV.  No more clutter inside; now it's all outside and out of view!


We graduated to a king bed, which is very luxurious, but sometimes these RV companies are sneaky ... this "king bed" is actually a "RV king" which is wide but a little shorter.  A regular king mattress is 76 x 80" and this RV king is 72 x 75", but still a full foot wider than the 60" we had in our RV's queen bed before. We liked the "room to move around" in this floorplan!




The bedroom has LOTS of storage ... maybe too much!  (Nahhhhh......) The vented cabinet on the left can take a washer/dryer combo unit, but we made it an extra closet instead. The skinny cabinet on the far right is even cedar-lined!  For those cold winters in Phoenix, hah!




For guests, a bed drops down from the ceiling above the drivers' seats!


The bathroom is completely self-contained; before, the shower and bathroom were two separate entities and INSIDE our bedroom door; so guests had to come into our bedroom to use the bathroom.  Not ideal!  But this is pretty sweet, and plenty spacious.



We love the huge pedestal sink, compared to many RV sinks which are tiny little fishbowls which causes water to splash everywhere.



The bed slides out 30" and the entire living area slides out 30" on the opposite side of the RV, nice and balanced.  Even slid in, it is still possible to navigate the aisle and make a nice sandwich while we're on the road.



Elsie has 4 TV's and they are all run from a central command inside a cabinet, so the living room TV can be wall-mounted above the electric fireplace.


 A big empty cabinet above the TV was turned into a fab combo liquor-and-DVD's cabinet by my super-handy husband!


The sofa slides out to become an L-shape - very comfy when I want/need to put my head in P's lap and take a snooze! And still plenty of room if you leave it slid-in like a regular sofa.




The dinette is a "dream dinette" which can easily flatten out to be an additional bed.  We much prefer it to the U-shape dinette we had previously.  And it's perfect when cute guests drop by, like Dolly!



The kitchen has a handy double sink, residential refrigerator (fun fact = exactly the same refrigerator we have in our house), and induction cooktop.




The driver's cab has two large seats that can spin around and become part of the living area, and a decent-sized table that inserts into the floor.





Who drives?  We both do!!



And when we're not traveling, you can likely find Elsie in the RV party lot at Cardinals stadium, tailgating her precious RV heart out.  Hey ... if your team stinks, at least there's still beer.



That's our Elsie in a nutshell ... hope you enjoyed this brief photo tour!
We love-love-love her and are so excited for future adventures to come.

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R.I.P. "Lucky Charm"
4/6/13 - 10/8/19

We bought our first girl, the "Lucky Charm," to either "get us into" or "get us over" the idea of RV'ing, expecting to have an entry-level RV for only a couple years while we gave it a try.  Six years and 50,000 miles later (and lots of lessons learned), she went to live on a farm with lots of room to run, having been traded in for "Elsie 2.0."  But the Lucky Charm lives on forever in our memories!

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Add-On Products We Like!

Half the fun of getting an RV is customizing it with all the fun stuff.  But some of the fun stuff is actually kinda mandatory stuff!  Here are the things we pretty much can't live without!

New Mattress.
So you've got an RV you love, but a mattress you hate, or one that needs upgrading.  Problem:  lots of RV mattresses are wanky:  unusual size, rounded corners, folding, etc.  For instance, Elsie came with a "king" bed, but it's not reallllly a king, it's 72x75" and a standard residential king is 76x80"(cheater cheater pumpkin eaters, RV manufacturers!), and the bottom two corners were rounded.  We didn't like the softness of the mattress, and after much research found Mattress Insider, an online company that can hook you up with whatever you need!  Any dimensions, radius corners, specific thickness, specific firmness, everything you'd want to be able to specify!


Mattress Insider makes reasonably priced, custom mattresses that are compressed, rolled and then shipped straight to your door. 


When you cut the plastic off, the mattress expands ... quickly ... very quickly!!!  Philip was almost pinned against the wall by the aggressiveness of our mattress expansion.




Tah-dahhhh!  She's a beauty!  We got the 8" Park Meadow Pocketed Coil RV Mattress, but requested it be bumped to 9" to match the thickness of the mattress being replaced.  It's got a 10 year warranty (if you can use a standard (non-custom) mattress size, you'll get a 20 year warranty) and we couldn't be happier.  In fact, we are hoping that the mattress in our sticks-and-bricks house wears out sooner rather than later, because actually prefer the RV mattress now!  Ours was around $700 and worth every penny for that precious perfect night's sleep! 

Safe-T-Plus Steering Stabilizer Bar. 
This handy gadget keeps you steering straight even when you get hit with side winds, passing semi-trucks, road ruts, and more, thereby saving your hands from the dreaded "white-knuckle effect" and also allowing you to arrive at your destination with your sanity and marriage intact.  It also may save you if you ever have a front tire blowout!  If you spend a lot of your driving time bracing yourself against the effects of everything around you (drivers, roads, winds), you will love the Safe-T-Plus Bar.  Does not guard against farts, or talkative passengers.  Just sayin'.  Price depends on size of your RV but plan on $500-800 including installation.  
Sumo Springs and Anti-Swaybar.
Especially with a taller Class A RV, you tend to feel a lot of sway and rocking over even the smallest of bumps and the tiniest turns, and the steering stabilizer doesn't help with these problems. Sumo Springs are made of a high-grade polyurethane foam that keep you stable no matter what the territory. We never added these to our previous Class C, but they are the upgrades with the greatest increase to our quality of (driving) life ... highly recommend!  A rear anti-swaybar was about $1,000 installed; adding Sumo Springs to both front and rear was about $1,700 installed.  



Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).  
Nothing is more vital to RV travel than good tires, and nothing is worse than a tire blow-out (trust us, it happened to us twice ... in one day ... one very bad, horrible, no good day).  A tire presssure monitoring system lets you keep track of pressure, temperature, leakage and more, from the comfort of your cab.  Sensors screw onto the valve stems and give real-time info on each individual tire, even those on your tow vehicle.  We did a lot of extremely confusing research on the various brands and models and eventually settled on the EEZTire-TPMS Real Time 24x7 system with ten sensors, around $500.  If your RV is 25' or longer and/or you also have a tow vehicle, you're probably going to need to add the optional booster as well for it to operate properly.  And, be sure to order a teenager to help you set it up for the first time. (Kidding. Sorta.)  But once you're "ready to roll" (literally), the peace of mind that comes from having a TPMS is invaluable!



EZ Pass Toll Payment Device.  
If you're going to be driving in states that have toll roads, you should definitely get an EZ Pass transponder.  You stick it on your windshield and it allows you to zip through specially-designated (and faster) toll lanes without having to stop and fumble around for spare change; and if you're in a taller RV, it can be challenging to reach down and pay the attendant at those little booths.  You pre-load an amount of money at your choosing onto your account, and the tolls come off that balance each time you use a toll road.  You get automatic monthly statements and can also set up to reload your account from a credit card when it hits a certain low balance.  If you have a tow vehicle, you should get one for your RV and also one for the tow vehicle. You can buy this device through any of the states that offer it, but we ended up going through North Carolina after reading this excellent summary of the EZ Pass system and which states are reciprocal with each other. 
https://wheelingit.us/2016/10/05/rv-driving-in-the-east-tolls-ez-pass-low-clearances/



Gasoline Additive.  
We learned the hard, expensive way that in order to ensure a continuously working generator, especially in the summer months, you need to add ethanol fuel conditioner (available at any auto parts store or Walmart) to your gas tank.  The reason (in normal-person terms) is that gas in the summer has a different makeup than other months and the "gunk" in gasoline settles to the bottom of the tank more easily.  Then, your generator (which DRAWS FROM THE BOTTOM of the tank) tries to pull that gunk in when you attempt to start it up.  It gets clogged and then you have an expensive service call, and/or you can't use a generator you had been planning on using for power.  We put two 16 oz. bottles in every full tank during the summer months or whenever it won't be driven for an extended period.  You can't overuse the stuff or put too much in, and it's worth the cost to always have a working generator.



Mosquito Defense!  
RV'ing is fantastically wonderful, but with all that outdoorsyness you can't help dealing with pesky mosquitoes from time to time.  We have tried a variety of "solutions" and the only one that has worked like a charm is the Thermacell system.  It's basically a unit that emits a virtually odor free (to humans) vapor that keeps mosquitoes away for a 15 foot radius.  We got the small unit and a holster (to attach to a belt) but just set that baby on the table next to us when we are outside and shazam, no mosquitos!  You need lots of refills (butane cartridges and the pads that have the vapor on them) but it's totally worth it to be able to be outside without fear of Zika or Dengue Fever.



Gray Tank Cleaner.  
Sure, you dump your tanks frequently, but greasy film and various food particles and mold still build up in the gray tank, and there is no great way to flush it out regularly (unlike the black tank, where a hose hookup on the outside of the RV makes it easy).  We had tried a variety of "cleaners" from Amazon and Camping World and none of them really worked, they were kinda just like a lemony smell that washed away in an hour.  Enter the savior:  Tank Techs Rx Holding Tank Treatment and Cleaner! It has actual probiotic bacteria that munch away on whatever is left behind in the gray tank.  It really works!  It's amazing!  No more funky smell, just use regularly!



Grill Set-Up!
You're RV'ing and camping, of course you're gonna want to fire up the grill! We've got some suggestions. First of all, the star of the show. The WeberQ propane grill is the go-to for small size, high heat, and portability; yet it's still big enough to fit lots of yummies. We've got the Q1000 model and it's awesome, but there are other (more recent) models to choose from, as well. Around $179 at Amazon, Home Depot, and other locations.

But grilling in the dark = NO BUENO!  How about this handy gizmo ... a light that attaches to the WeberQ handle, that comes on automatically each and every time you open the lid to peek on the progress of your din-din!  Genius!  Search for Weber 6530 1000/2000 Q Series Grill Out Handle Light.   About $60 -- but the future of your steaks is at risk!  Do it!


You need somewhere to put your spatula and that plate of juicy chops while the grill heats up. And let's not forget someplace for your dinnertime cocktail!  A griller's gotta stay hydrated!  Add two side tables, that attach right to your WeberQ, and fold up for easy storage and transport!  Search for WeberQ side table kit.  About $30.



Lastly, who wants to use those little green propane canisters?  Nobody, that's who!  They are annoying, take up a lot of space in your precious RV storage, don't last that long, and don't get me started on the waste and environmental costs!  If your RV's big onboard propane tank has a quick-connect valve (or you have your service guy install one), you can construct a setup to connect your grill right to your RV, bypassing the little greenies and ensuring a long-lasting supply of propane at all times.   Here's the one we got on Amazon for about $40, or google something like "propane quick disconnect conversation kit for WeberQ grill." Pro tip:  You're also going to have to remove the regulator from your WeberQ, but there are lots of YouTube videos online that show you exactly how to do this.  (The reason?  Your RV's big propane tank also has a regulator.  RV regulator + grill regulator = double regulation, meaning not enough heat will get to your grill.)


Sewer Weights
These weights drape over the sewer connection and help keep it from popping out of the inlet.   It has an adjustable rubber strap any style of sewer elbow or standard 3" dia. sewer hose.  Approx. $15 at Camping World.


Inflatable Kayak
For on-water fun that folds up and fits into our RV storage compartment, we chose the two-person Sea Eagle 370 Pro.  Some of the features we appreciated:  rated for Class III rapids (if we find ourselves in Class III rapids in this boat, something has gone very, very wrong -- but it speaks to the rugged durability of the boat); can hold an incredible amount of cargo; sits much higher in the water than a standard touring kayak; room enough that a dog or two can also ride with us; folded dimensions of only 31″ x 19″ x 8″ and weighing only 32 pounds; rated for up to 650 pounds; super easy to inflate and deflate.  Inflatable kayaks are not cheap at around $800-1,000, but we use ours frequently and have had so much fun with it, it has been worth the expense for sure. 


If you are comparing models, you might also look into the comparable Advanced Elements AE 1007 or the Driftsun Almanor 130 to see if either of those is right for you instead.

Best-Ever Lightweight Pet Sweater
OK, it's not exactly an RV accessory, but since it's an important accessory to one of the occupants of our RV, we're including it here.  Gold Paw Series makes custom stretch-fleece pet sweaters that are just dreamy ... super-soft, flexibly stretchy, and custom-made to your pet's exact dimensions and your fabric pattern choice -- especially useful if the ones they sell at Petco don't fit your sweetie well.  Sprinkles loves hers and we appreciate that it's thick enough to keep her warm, thin enough to not suffocate her with heat.



Dyson Hot'n'Cold Bladeless Fan
We were reluctant to buy this because of the steep $300+ price tag, but it ended up being one of our most-used RV add-on's, and now we can't imagine living without it.  It's both a space heater and a very powerful personal fan.  We keep it in the bedroom and usually don't have to use the noisy and inefficient overhead unit while we are sleeping.  We have used the fan both inside and outside when it's extra hot out and has 10 power settings.  Conversely, when it's cold, the heater has a thermostat so it keeps the room at exactly the right temperature.  It's quiet but also jusssst loud enough to serve as "white noise" and drown out any ne'er-do-well's making noise in the campground.  Love it!  



Bedrug Folding Track Mat
Because we're old, and because our knees are bad, and because the ground is hard -- really hard! -- this product is the best, especially when getting down on the ground to look under the RV, place the skids for the automatic leveling jacks, or to clean the gray and black tanks.  It's lightweight coated foam, sturdy as all get out, water resistant, and that one product you won't believe you ever lived without.  Laying or kneeling while working on your RV has never been so comfortable!  About $30 on Amazon. 


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If you have an RV product you love, tell me about it!  RV'ers love to share!