Category Archives: Tips for new RVers

When things don’t go as planned … two lessons learned on the Fourth of July

At the midpoint of our trip when we were half-way from Georgia to Washington State, we had our first obstacle to overcome. The previous day had been full of rough roads from construction in Nebraska and we were looking towards less jolting and smooth roads in Wyoming with the Grand Tetons as our destination that day. We had started out around 9 am, pulling out of a Walmart parking lot after overnighting in the parking lot next to some semis. This was the view outside my bedroom window that morning…

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We were all in good spirits as it was our nation’s birthday, July 4, 2015. We were making our way through Nebraska with our five kids ages 2 to 14 and our RV travel trailer towing behind our Excursion. We had only been on the road for an hour-and-a-half and had already pulled off on the road twice for potty breaks when one of my oldests said, “Is it possible to stop at the next exit? I need to go to the bathroom.” I sighed in exasperation and said, “Really? Seriously?! You couldn’t have gone the other two times we stopped?” It wasn’t that it was an inconvenience to stop (we are towing the family bathroom right behind us so it makes it actually quite easy when it comes to bathroom breaks) so much as it was one more delay to progress as I was eager to get to Grand Tetons.

But as it may, we were nearing the noon hour and my husband saw a billboard for Taco John — a fast food place we used to have in his hometown growing up — and as it had been over 20 years since he’d had a taco from there, we decided to make our stop the next exit in the little town of North Platte, Nebraska — home to Buffalo Bill — to see if those tacos were as tasty as we once remembered them. Taco John was about a mile or two in off the free way, and our GPS helped to route us to it quickly taking us through town. But as we pulled up to park near Taco John, my husband started pumping the breaks and with a concerned look on his face simply said to me, “Our brakes are squishy. I think they may be going out. The pedal is going all the way to the floor.” He was able to stop in a spot that was off the main road and near the restaurant, so we just decided to go ahead and feed the family and deal with the problem on full stomachs.

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5 Kids and RV Taco Johns in Nebraska

After our crew had eaten, Jes popped the hood on our towing vehicle and checked the brake fluid reservoir. It was empty! We had topped off all fluids before embarking on our journey across country and we quickly concluded that something must have happened while towing. But where we had parked was not a spot where Jes could safely get under the vehicle to check the brake line. So we had two things to solve: 1) figure out where to get more brake fluid on a holiday when stores were closed and 2) to find a safe spot to check out what might be causing us to lose brake fluid.

We checked our GPS and spotted a Ford dealership around the corner from where we were parked and thought they might be able to help us fix it… Nope. They were closed to celebrate the 4th of July.  We then spotted a auto parts store not too far away… Nope. Closed for the 4th of July.  We saw a small grocery store near the dealership and had hope — surely they would have brake fluid? They did, but it was the wrong kind. The reality of our situation began to sink in at that moment. We headed down the road and saw a small gas station open with a mini mart and we thought we might stop and check there… While my husband headed inside the “what ifs” began to hit. I began to worry, “What if we can’t find anyone open?! What if no one has the special brake fluid we need?!” As almost as quickly as the worried thoughts had come, I knew that worry was simply a lack of faith, so as I sat in the cab waiting with the kids, I bowed my head and we prayed for God to help us find the right oil and to figure out the situation. And then we continued to wait.

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As we waited, my middle son noticed two women smoking in a not so safe spot — not to far from propane tanks!
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Hooray! The right kind of brake fluid! Making a special note after this experience to always have a couple of these stowed away!

Thankfully, my husband emerged quickly from the store with three containers of brake fluid. He topped off the reservoir and closed the hood and I hopped out of the vehicle to help him navigate backing the RV onto the street as there was no way to pull forward and around in the tiny parking lot of the mini-mart gas station.

He drove slowly through town and navigated back to the Walmart Super Center located near the freeway and parked toward the back of the lot by some semis that were stopped to rest. The kids hung out in the car while I watched the area around my husband while he climbed underneath our tow vehicle to check out the brake line. Sure enough, some how the back brake line had gotten severed and  crushed and was leaking a steady stream of fluid. There was no way we could head over a mountain pass, let alone get on the freeway with our vehicle in this condition. Feeling stressed, both my husband and I, along with our children, bowed our heads in prayer, asking for God’s wisdom in how to handle the situation we found ourselves in at that moment.

Sure enough, some how the back brake line had gotten severed and  crushed and was leaking a steady stream of fluid.

Then with a deep breath, we went into problem solving mode. Our next thought was to see if we could get to a spot where we could unhook our tow vehicle from the RV. There were two RV places to stay nearby. One was flooded by the river and closed leaving us only one option. The good news was it was nearby. We called ahead while we sat in the Walmart parking lot and thankfully they had a spot open for us to park and stay the night while we came up with a game plan. We ended up checking into the Holiday RV Park and paid about $43 for the night after Good Sams and cash discounts.

Once we were settled in our site and unhooked, my husband began calling around. We tried the nearby Pilot truck stop and unfortunately they didn’t have anyone working because of the holiday. We also tried calling Good Sams which we had purchased for emergency situations such as this, but it wouldn’t be until the next Tuesday (3 days later) until they could send someone out — the day we were suppose to arrive at our destination.

After exhausting all of the options available to us, Jes decided to attempt the job himself — he had done jobs like this with his father who was a mechanic and even though it had been about 20 years since he had turned wrenches with his Dad, he felt confident he could fix it with the right tools and parts. So he unhooked the truck and he and our middle child (armed with extra brake fluid in the car) drove a mile to the nearest Advanced Auto Parts store — the only one we could find open on the holiday — to see if he could find parts to fix it himself. In the meantime, the heat of the day was setting in and it was over 96 degrees out, so I took the other four kids to the pool in hopes that it would lift our spirits.  We had been on the road for three days and laundry was already piling up, so we started a few loads to run while the kids swam.

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Cooling off in the pool at the RV campground we found on short notice.

While four of our kids and I were at the pool, Jesse and our middle son were able to find the parts needed to repair the severed brake line. They returned to the campground and were busy with the repair underway only to discover that he needed one more piece to finish the repair. Since everything was taken apart, he couldn’t simply drive the Excursion at this point, so he and our middle son took the pieces they needed and began to walk a mile+ back to the Advanced Auto Parts store in the afternoon 96 degree heat.

Upon arriving at the Advanced Auto Parts store, the manager who had helped them previously, noticed how hot our son looked and gave him a free water when he went up to buy one. And the part that we needed was not readily available in their inventory listing, so the manager began to take down boxes of other parts to see if the same part could be found in another box. He was able to successfully find the needed part and even took it back to crimp it with a special tool needed to join the two together — a tool we didn’t have — to connect it to the other part Jesse had brought with him.  It was because of this one man’s willingness to help us, that we were able to finish the repair job.  Jesse and our 11 year old son walked back once again in the heat with the parts that were needed.

I had just changed out of my swim suit when I went out to check on how things were going with the repair. Jes had returned from the auto parts store and had just put everything back together and was ready for me to help bleed the brake line and showed me for the first time the pieces that had been damaged. Our best guess was that it had happened the night before while going over some bumpy construction as at one point, we remember being concerned about the bumps. We had evidently bottomed out and hit the pavement  and the brake line got not only crushed, but severed in that moment.

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We definitely bottomed out and hit the road as we went through that construction! Here you see the line crushed and broken in half.
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Jesse happy after a job well done! Thankful for how God answered our every prayer and that my husband had the ability and faith to complete the job!
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This pedal matters a lot when you’re traveling by RV!
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Our son with the water bottle he went to go pay for and the manager paid for it himself in the spirit of Independence Day.

With the truck repaired, we decided to drive it for a bit to test the repair out before hooking up and heading across a big mountain range. We drove it through town, grabbed some dinner, stopped in at a “tourist trap” for the kids to shop a little bit and came back to our RV to rest and finish up laundry. There’s something about taking a shower in a normal shower that refreshes you as well.  The kids recall laying on the merry-go-round that night and spinning while fireworks exploded in the area around our campground.

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No, this isn’t a real fort. It’s a store with some tourist paraphernalia to see and buy.

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We would have loved to check out Buffalo Bill’s place in North Platte, Nebraska, but had to save it for another time due to the holiday and needing to stay on our travel schedule.
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Our 2.5 year old daughter sizes up the native american in the grassy area behind the tourist shop.

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Our 5-year-old checks out a diorama of Buffalo Bill's Show in North Platte, Nebraska
Our 5-year-old checks out a diorama of Buffalo Bill’s Show in North Platte, Nebraska

Buffalo Bill diorama

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Buffalo Bill (William Cody) started his famous Wild West Show near his ranch in North Platte. The first rodeo was held in North Platte on July 4, 1882.
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One of our older boys wanted a “Jack-alope” which we thought looked good on the dash. It’s good to find ways to smile through difficult circumstances! 😀
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Leaving our emergency overnight pit stop — the Holiday RV Park in North Platte, Nebraska. It cost about $49 after discounts were applied. At the time of our stay, they had a pool, playground, showers, playground, and small RV spaces.

With all of us clean, fed, and with clothes folded and put away, we tidied up our trailer and started out for Wyoming the next morning, refreshed and ready to continue our journey towards Washington State.

Now, a year later, as I reflect on that fourth of July, there are two main takeaways from that experience:

  1. Don’t fuss over delays — they may very well be God’s providential answer to prayer.
  2. One person can make a difference in someone’s life.

PROVIDENCE:

Before leaving the comforts of our home, I had all sorts of scenarios run through my mind of what could happen and this one was not even one I had considered. The timing of how everything transpired that day was more than “coincidence”; my husband and I believe it was providential. Had my son not asked to stop to use the bathroom, we would have continued on the freeway and very well could have been without brakes to stop traveling at a high speed! When I think of what could have happened, I shutter at the thought and am grateful for God answering many a prayer for protection as we traveled.  As we recount all the things that happened that day…

  1. We were able to stop safely.
  2. We were able to drive the car and travel trailer a short distance to find brake fluid on a holiday when a lot of stores were closed.
  3. We were able to find the right kind of brake fluid.
  4. We were able to get back across town to a better spot.
  5. We were able to find a spot that was reasonably priced to stay the night and unhook to deal with our emergency.
  6. We were able to make it within walking distance to the one open auto parts store in town.
  7. We were only able to fix the repair with the help of a kind and generous person — otherwise our trip would have been delayed and we may have missed out on wheat harvest.
  8. We got a chance to rest a bit in the middle of our journey and clean some things.

God, in His goodness, answered the prayers of all of those who were praying for our safe journey. There would be many times those brakes would be pushed to the test and the brakes would hold firm and keep our family safe (I’ll have to write about the California experience sometime.) And our kids learned one more time, that we don’t serve an imaginary God, but the one true God Jehovah-Jireh (our provider) who cares for our every need.

HOW ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE:

The gentleman that helped my husband that day at the auto parts store went over and above to help meet our needs that day.  My husband shares that had he not helped search through boxes for the right part and offered to use his machine in the back to do the step we had no tool to do, we would not have been able to complete the job and we would have had to have waited for a mechanic which would have cost us days in the schedule and possibly affected our ability to get to Washington in time for wheat harvest which was coming early that year due to the high heat.  This manager at Advance Auto Parts store, not only went beyond in his customer service, he also encouraged us and especially our son learned a lesson on the power of kindness as he received a fresh ice cold water to quench his thirst.

OH! AND ONE MORE THING…

I guess there’s a bonus tip from what we also learned … it is a good idea to keep some extra brake fluids in our storage area for unexpected issues! From North Platte, Nebraska we headed out towards Wyoming which I’ll share more about in another post. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more…

— Erin & Jes + our 5 kids and a RV


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5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents and caregivers to engage and explore with their children. On occasion we may post a review or provide information as an affiliate.

5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today!

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Purchase or Pass? Part 2

So, if you read our previous post, “Purchase or Pass? Part 1”, we shared how we went to look at a vehicle and the buying process. As you recall, the seller pitched this vehicle as a third car for a family and painted a picture that it was only used for hauling the grandkids around. He gave the impression thru the post and conversation that this car had been used by the family — even the wife purchasing “new” tires. Everything he shared was deceitful — lie upon lie.

When we pulled the Car Fax report, we learned that the vehicle had been in a collision, it had been stolen and recovered, and then within the past ten days the vehicle had been sold at auction. So, not a family car just sitting in a garage not being used. Not the son’s run around car who never had a need for a back seat. If there were grandchildren hauled in this car, it was only within the past 10 days.

When my husband inquired if he knew about the theft – he said no. He asked if he had purchased it at auction and he probably told the first bit of truth to us when he admitted that yes, he had purchased the vehicle recently at auction. Had we not purchased the unlimited Car Fax report during our search for a vehicle, we would have been bamboozled. Maybe the car would have worked fine. Maybe it would not have worked fine. All I knew is that if he was willing to lie about the history of the vehicle, what else was he lying about?

The lesson in this is to always check the Car Fax report whenever you are buying a used vehicle — whether at a dealership (often they give it free at a dealership for serious buyers) or buying from a 3rd party.

According to Al at Everything About RVing Web site, you can sometimes find a motorhome’s Car Fax history, but unfortunately you cannot use Car Fax for looking up the histories on Travel Trailers, 5th Wheels, Tent Trailers or Campers. In fact, neither of us could find a service that looks up the histories for non-motorized RVs. But for those looking for a tow-vehicle, even if it looks good, smells good, sounds good… check the history on the vehicle.

Purchase or Pass?

We have twin sons who are getting to the driving age, so we’ve been looking for another family vehicle. Something that would support their passion for the outdoors while also hauling our family and towing the boat and/or trailer as a back-up vehicle. So, today we went to go check out this beauty — we will let you know in the next post if we purchased it or not. We are posting to help our teens understand the car-buying process and thought we’d share in the event it could be something others might benefit. In the meantime, see what you think and let us know in the comments if what you would have done…. Purchase or Pass?

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Here’s the description:

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The ad was on Craig’s List and we met the seller at a Publix parking lot. The vehicle looked really nice on the outside and pretty clean on the inside. It smelled strongly of auto freshener. I noticed that the man selling the vehicle kept leaving the doors open.

While my husband spoke with the seller, I climbed into the passenger seat. I shut the doors and checked the AC front and back and then the heater. In checking out the controls, I saw that the temperature button wouldn’t turn at all, so there was no way to control the temp from the second seat. I also noticed that the tray in the front was open and when I closed it, it wouldn’t open again. The leather seats did look like they were in fairly good condition… some wear, but no rips or tears. They didn’t have heated or AC seats like our old Eddie Bauer Excursion used to have so that was a disappointment.

We also quickly learned there was no third row seat. The seller told us that his son used the car and didn’t need to use the third row, so they never put it in. The hitch was damaged and when we asked about the key for the hitch he said he didn’t have one, so that would be a full day to take that off and perhaps involve a weld job. We also checked the tires. They were shiny, but they weren’t brand new as there was some wear on the tread. My husband took it for a test drive and it handled well. We opened our CarFax app and pulled a report based on the vehicle’s VIN. This is the report (we have pieced screenshots together and blurred out the VIN # and those who serviced the vehicle to respect the privacy of those relating to this vehicle.)

Finally, we popped the hood and checked the belts and for leaks. Everything looked pretty good – just a minor crack on the front grill that was cosmetic. The belts were beginning to crack, so it would need to be replaced. As we begin to look at the CarFax Report, we begin to see some things that the seller hadn’t mentioned… What do you notice?

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Let us know what you would do, would you purchase or pass? Tell us why!

And stay tuned later for (as Paul Harvey would say) the rest of the story…

 

 

 

 

Midori Monday :: Midori Garden Journal

Today, I’m not thinking of going on a trip somewhere (gasp), but thinking about planting roots… roots for our garden this year, that is. Today’s tasks included creating some recyclable planting pots (my eldest made fifty pots today in fact) and my kindergartner started his science experiment of watching a seed grow in an unused CD/DVD case.

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So, with my farmer-gene in full-swing today, I thought it would be a great time to do a Midori Monday™ — that’s where I share something about the Midori Traveler’s Notebook and how easily it adapts to whatever you need to organize, track, or journal.

“…my Midori is the one I’ve seem to connect with and stick with the longest (which says a lot really.)”

I’ve been using the Midori Traveler’s Notebook for about a year-and-a-half now. I’ve tried organizers from the office store, I’ve tried digital planners, I’ve tried journals — it seems like I’ve tried a million different systems, but my Midori is the one I’ve seem to connect with and stick with the longest (which says a lot really.) There are two sizes of Midori’s: passport and regular. I went with the taller format of the regular, because I like space to write and draw. And I love the leather! Here are some pics of my Midori when it was brand spank’n new!

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“I unplugged from Facebook and the time I would have spent watching everyone live their lives, instead I began to pour into my own life through writing or getting creative and challenging myself to draw.”

I was first attracted to the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, because I was getting tired of Facebook. I wanted to UN-Facebook. I wanted to record life as it happened without the whole world knowing about it. So, that’s what I did. I unplugged from Facebook and the time I would have spent watching everyone live their lives, instead I began to pour into my own life through writing or getting creative and challenging myself to draw. There was something about putting a pen to paper that was therapeutic. It also ties in well with my love of scrapbooking, paper, and stamping. It was a total win-win on a number of levels for me. I loved it so much, I got one for each of my boys to take on our cross-country trip (more on that later.)

But the challenge was in how to make time for me to write or draw when I had a spare moment. I loved the idea that I could take this system with me and pull it out of my purse to doodle or write while I was waiting for the kids to finish (at the time they were volunteering at a horse stable for an hour each week.) So, after lots of research, I purchased myself a regular-size leather Midori Travler’s Notebook (knockoff because I liked the color stain better than the original options) of off Etsy and made it into my wallet/journal/sketchbook/organizer. And it’s been awesome. Like a fine wine, it just gets more beautiful with age as it does life with me.

“The system adjusts to me…”

One of the many things I love about the system is how I can easily pop journals out when they are full and replace with a new one or add an additional journal based upon what is happening in life. The system adjusts to me, not me trying to fit someone else’s organization system. For example, my garden journal! I have created my own custom garden journal that I use to track my seedlings and plantings. This is great, because when I’m at the garden center, I can quickly see what I already have in progress and what I need to get to supplement my garden. It also makes a great reference point for the following years as I evaluate what worked and what didn’t work and have a record of my garden planting layout.

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I’ll be sharing more inserts that I’ve developed and use in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to learn more!  Since you’re a friend of this blog, you can get this garden journal at a discounted price using the code: BLOG15OFF

Click here to view DIY Garden Journal that fits the Midori Traveler’s Notebook ($2.99).

Click here to view the Printed Garden Journal that fits the Midori Traveler’s Notebook ($8.99).

Not a gardener? No problemo! Stay tuned for more ideas on how the Midori Traveler’s Notebook might work for you (especially as a travel journal).

If you’re considering purchasing a RV

If you’re looking at buying a RV, here are some things to consider:

+ Timing can impact pricing on RV’s by thousands of dollars. In the north, the slow season is November through February/March.
When RV’s can be had near cost in the winter, your trade in is also valued lower. Dealers are motivated to move “old” inventory – right now that is the 2015’s, and soon the 2016’s
+ The new model year units arrive in June and July from many vendors (eg – 2017’s due out in a few months).

Read More +

You can also visit the Greater Atlanta RV Show March 4 – 6, 2016 at the Georgia World Congress Center (285 Andrew Young Int’l Blvd NW; Atlanta, GA 30313)

Show Hours
Friday: Noon – 8 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 7 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm

Ticket Prices
Adults: $10
Kids 12 and under: FREE
Good Sam Club Members: $5*
*Maximum 2 tickets – Active Membership Card required. Offer not valid or combinable with any other discounts.

Purchase your tickets here.

Don’t blink

If you’ve been wondering why it’s been quiet … I’ve been working on pulling together a Florida trip to share with you — it’s one of our favorites — and I’m really excited to post that soon as it is a trip we’ve taken twice and took instead of going to Disney World one year (because, yes, it was that good). No spoilers on details yet, but I will let you know that we are going to share all the highlights so you can take the same trip (but without all the planning).  Stay tuned, you’ll get the inside scoop right here!

While thumbing thru our pics for my project, I ran across this shot from 2014 that just made me take pause.  I took this shot while we were embarking on our first long trip with baby girl — the kiddos look so much younger here!  When you’re living life at full speed, pausing to look at moments like this seem in the scheme of things like such a blink.

Home is Anywhere I am with YOU!

If you’ve been putting off a family trip, can I just encourage you to stop putting it off. This is your year to make it happen! Don’t wait for things to be perfect. Start planning. Start selling something to put in your savings jar. Put the money you’d use to buy a latte in your savings jar. Pick a realistic goal and go after it!  Take it from a Mama who sees her boys quickly turning into men… you only get them for a season…

 

What’s your travel goal?

Quote-keeplookingforwardLet’s dream a little… if you could go anywhere, where would you go? If you could see anything, what would you want to see?

Need inspiration? Check out our Pinterest boards featuring state-by-state ideas and RV helps. Great for the newbie RVer or individual seeking their next family adventure.

Connect with us on Pinterest here: https://www.pinterest.com/5kidsandarv/

 

Dream. Explore. Discover.

Today, while having lunch with my older 3 boys, I was surprised by my eldest saying “I sort of like the vagabond life. When we were traveling, I liked learning new things and seeing things we had never seen before.” His twin teen brother piped up and agreed saying he loved to learn that way, too.

Wow! It’s been about three months since we’ve been home and they’re beginning to dream about places to go and new discoveries to experience.

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Let’s begin to dream…What will you  explore this year? Where do you yearn to go and experience for yourself? It doesn’t have to be far away… Share something you’ve always wanted to see and why in the comments below!

Need inspiration? Follow our pins on Pinterest… https://www.pinterest.com/5kidsandarv/

Technology and Travel

I am so thrilled with my new set up!

I’ve been using the built-in touch key pad on my mini iPad to write posts and I asked my husband if there was a better way of doing things. We first got a Zagg small external keypad 50% off at Best Buy (it was originally $110). It was the same size of my mini iPad and my fingers felt so crowded on the keypad that I could barely type without making mistakes.  So that item got returned and I opted for the Apple wireless keyboard at Best Buy for $69 (but you can purchase online here). [The keyboard is pictured below with a rose my son picked from our yard.]

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Look how thin and light it is! I love it! It pairs to my mini iPad automatically after setting up once thru my mini iPad’s bluetooth settings.  All you have to do is turn it on (it’s “on” switch is that round circle on the end that you see there below).

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The upside to the keyboard is not only a lighter weight keyboard that is larger to type on, or the fact that there are no cords to deal with, but the one draw back is no place on it to attach a stand (Apple Product Planners, take note of this needing an accessory option.)  My husband and I looked at doing a Steelie Ball on the dash, but we were concerned at how the airbag, if deployed, would affect the safety of whoever (namely me) was sitting in the front passenger seat.

While doing some online research, my husband found this great solution — a portable media-friendly work desk by LapGear that has a slot to fit either a mini iPad or a regular size iPad along with a keyboard  — it’s at the perfect angle to view, too! I love how it quickly can drop into the groove and be removed with ease. The keyboard I had before was sort of a tight fit to the device so the keyboard had o live with the device. This method, I can easily remove and use the iPad only if I need to without have to pull anything apart. It’s awesome. Underneath the work desk it has a squishy elongated beanbag that makes it comfortable to rest on your legs. It also has a non-slip felt rectangle to the right that you can use to put an iPhone if you desire.  I thought the wrist pads would get in the way, but they actually make typing more comfortable.

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All in all, I’m really pleased with my new set-up. It was originally $27, but the grey version (pictured above) was on sale — Amazon had a clip-to-click offer that gave an additional 10% off plus we had free ship because we have Amazon Prime. This set-up will help me connect with friends and family from the road by typing emails or FB posts faster as well as aid my in writing for the blog.

Oh! And managing power for recharging… We have a dual USB power cord that powers two devices at a time that plugs into the available 12-volt outlet. It easily reaches my mini i-Pad. My keyboard has a built-in battery, so no need to change right now. After using the keyboard for awhile, I’ll be sure to circle back and offer an update.

For Wi-Fi, we connect the mini iPad to either of our iPhones thru the Personal Hotspot feature. If you’ve never used this feature, you go into your settings on your iPhone… (the silver icon in the center of my Utilities folder that you see in the image below.)

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Next, select “Personal Hotspot” (the fifth option on your settings window if you are operating 8.1.2 OS)

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Next, if the selector tab is not green (as shown below) slide it to the right to turn on the Personal Hotspot. Next, you will want to set a Wi-Fi Password. DO NOT use “password” as your password. Get creative — the longer the better along with numbers and characters plus capitalized letters all mixed in is best. Something like this (but don’t do this one) “$Upercal1fragiliSticxpedaliouc0us”. You get the ‘gist.

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To join your iPhone’s Personal Hotspot, all you have to do is go to your mini iPad’s Wi-Fi and refresh if needed until you see the name of your phone pop up in your Wi-Fi options. Select, enter the password you set as your Personal Hotspot password (you should only have to do this once and it will remember automatically thereafter) and you’re online and ready to access the Internet.

If you have a laptop that needs to be powered or other iPhones in the car (maybe you have a child that has a device as well), we like this ENERGIZER 500-watt power inverter that plugs into our rear 12-volt charging outlet. (I’ll take a photo of it and update this page.)  It does a great job powering all our devices keeping the kids occupied on long stretches of driving.

The last thing to consider is security. You never want to leave a device in a car because of a) possible theft and b) extreme heat during summer months especially can damage your device. Make it a habit with your kids to take personal responsibility for their device and to secure it on their person at all times.

Do you have a set-up that works well for you? Feel free to share any tips in the comments below that you’ve learned along the way!