Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Immature Eagle at Old Reid

 An interesting Eagle experience today.... Friend & fellow photographer Bill tipped us on an Immature Bald Eagle at Old Reid just as we were heading out the door this morning. So, of course we headed that way. The Eagle was brunching when we arrived and we shot some images (I've blurred the prey details). When the eagle finished brunch, it roosted in an Old Reid tree for a bit and posed for pics. We left and did a quick look at Buck Creek State Park. On the way home, we decided to drive through Old Reid again. The Eagle was perched on the edge of the pond, less than 100 feet from some anglers who were catching Crappies. It was keeping an eye on them! When they tossed a small Crappie on the walkway, the Eagle immediately flew over to it, grabbed it, and began munching. While it was pretty cool to see, this interaction with humans isn't a good thing. Unfortunately, wildlife that becomes habituated and begs for food from humans can lead to their demise. The Eagle obviously has been used to getting handouts prior to today. It was interesting to watch, though. It's the closest we've ever been to a wild Bald Eagle.

Sunday, March 17, 2024


I've been watching a Great Horned Owl in a cavity since mid-February. 
I wasn't sure whether is was a nesting female, but after my encounter yesterday....we're going to have Owlets! 
I say that because yesterday, the female was in the cavity, and in a nearby tree was another adult Great Horned Owl. It's now apparent that the "watcher" is the male, who keeps watch over the female that is likely sitting on eggs or possibly minding Owlets. 
Here's some pics since first sighting the roost last month.

Waterfowl at CJ Brown Reservoir

 Yesterday we spent the morning at the CJ Brown Marina. We had stopped there the previous evening on our usual drive and noticed a couple of large rafts of Red Breasted Mergansers just outside of the Marina. In past years, the Mergansers have ventured into the Marina and have put on the great show as they feed off of fish in the warmer waters inside the Marina boundaries. 
So, with that n mind, we headed out before sunup. Sure enough, the Mergansers were fishing in the cove on the the north side of the marina. 
Once the sun provided good light, we capture some images of them and other migrating waterfowl. Here's some looks....

Pair of Red Breasted Mergansers

Merganser lost his fish

Bonaparte's Gull stealing fish

Male Horned Grebe

Female Horned Grebe

Monday, March 11, 2024

Roadtrek Play Upgrades (Part 1)

    We've been getting a lot of questions about our upgrades to our 2023 Roadtrek Play. I thought that I would just post some of the things that we're done to improve functionality for us....hopefully, some of this information will be helpful to others as well. The posts are divided into 5 parts....

 Upgrade Posts List:

These are the upgrades in this post (Part 1):

  • Bed Coverings
  • Bask-a-Table
  • Aisle Upper Storage Shelf
  • Cup Holders (for table)
  • Rear Corner Storage mini Buckets
    Our RT Play is built on the 2022 (second half) Promaster 3500 chassis. We love driving it and enjoy all of the chassis upgrades, including safety features and the latest U-Connect system.
    Sleeping configurations in our Play can be used as two north-south twin beds, or as a king bed by using boards and bolsters which fit between the twin beds. We use the twin beds....they are more than adequate for us size-wise (they are each 39" wide by 75" long). They allow us to independently make bathroom trips without awakening the other, and also keep the aisle open for a more spacious feel. So....the bolsters that were to be used to make the king bed are stored at home, and we use 6 queen sized pillows and a couple of 18" x 18" throw pillows for backrests and sleeping. 
    We upgraded our bedding by using a couple of daybed covers purchased from Amazon. They each came with three queen size pillow shams and a decorative pillow. By placing the covers backwards (elastic fitted edge in front) there's about a 24" length of the fabric under the mattress on the wall side which keeps it in place. We love the red, black and gray plaid pattern!

    We have a couple of baskets that we keep in the aisle. I purchased them several years ago for another RV, and happily discovered that they fit perfectly in between the beds. Here's the link for the ones I bought (they were not quite so much then). Note that there are a couple of sizes at this link, and ONLY the 15" wide one fits between the Play beds. You may be able to find a similar basket that will fit between your beds. 

    One of the baskets sits on the floor, and we use it to store our electric shore line, our EMS Surge Protector, and our water hose. The second basket sits on one of the boards which was originally to be used to make the king bed. That gives us a sturdy base and we use that basket to store our photo gear and laptops while traveling. Because the baskets wedge securely between the mattresses, it's very secure.
    One of our most recent upgrades utilizing these baskets was the addition of our "Bask-a-Table." 🤣🤣🤣
    The Play comes with a pole that mounts in a floor bracket and which holds a table top that snaps onto the pole. After using it for a year, we felt like the table was always an issue for us....it was a bit wobbly, even when secured tightly.
    At some point we stopped using the pole and just started placing the original table top one the upper basket for meals, and also as a night table. After realizing that this was a better table solution for us, we constructed our "Bask-a-table" which we both like as an alternative to the original table. 

    While we can't place our legs under the table completely, we didn't feel it necessary since we usually sit at the end of the table or sit sideways against the cushions.  I don't think it would be too difficult to come up with a way to raise the height of the table.
Gracie is sitting in about the same position that we like. 

The table itself is constructed of 3/4" pine, which we stained and sealed to match our interior. We glued 1" shims underneath the top extending into the basket to keep the table secure. Because of our placement, the tabletop fits snuggly into the basket, yet easily lifts out for access to our gear. 

     Here's a pic from the rear doors showing how the lower basket is easily accessible when setting up camp....it slides out to get our shoreline and water hose. 
    The cup holders in this pic are from Amazon as well. They use a washable sticky pad to secure the holders to the table.....love them!

    Another storage solution seen in these pics is the aisle way shelf between the upper cabinets. We weren't certain that we would like them, so initially we used spring tension curtain rods to make the shelf. 4 for the bottom, and one for the rim.     After having them in place and liking the extra storage, we replaced the temporary shelf with a wooden shelf. We stained it to match our table. We cut and screwed a piece of aluminum "L Channel" on each side to hold the shelf. 

Then we glued a 1" lip on the front of the shelf. The cabinet doors prevent the shelf from sliding forward. 

A couple of light weight canvas baskets from Walmart complete the storage shelf. 

One last storage feature for this post....
    These little Hanging Buckets from Amazon make easy access for charging cables, TV controls, and our heated mattress controls. They fit snugly in the slots in the rear van corners. To place them, you need to pull the clip on the back of the cup out a bit and slide one corner into the slot...then the other side will slip in. 

Our heated mattress controls

That's all for this post..

Upgrade Posts List:

Roadtrek Play Upgrades (Part 2)

Upgrade Posts List:

Here's a few more of the upgrades we've added to our 2023 Roadtrek Play:
In this post:

  • Cab Blackout Curtains
  • Bathroom Door Latch
  • Bathroom Floor Mat
  • Bathroom Door Kickstop
  • Shower Head
  • Bathroom Motion/Light Sensing Puck Light

Cab Blackout Curtains

We learned pretty quickly that the cab window covers included with our Play are not very easy to place and store. They were quickly relegated to the "things we don't need" area of our basement. Like many other Roadtrek owners, we found that it's better to add a curtain between the cab and the house area. 
We used a double-layered blackout curtain. In addition to ensuring privacy, the curtain insulates the living area and keeps the hot air from the windshield and windows in the cab. 
To place the curtain rod, we used these curtain clips from Amazon.  They are "self stick" but we ended up gluing them in place. I used E-6000 glue, and they aren't going anywhere! Bonus....they come in a couple of colors and the black blends in nicely with our Play's trim.
The trim where we attached the curtain rod has a very slight arch, so I bent the curtain rod slightly to fit. It's important to make sure that you leave room on both outer rod clips for the curtain rod finial if there is one. 

Bathroom Door Latch

It doesn't take long to get tired of dealing with that rod used to keep the bathroom door closed during travel. We added this Barn Door Latch from Amazon, and the door is much easier to keep closed. 
Tip: install the latch so that the hook fits snuggly in the catch to keep it from rattling. 

Bathroom Floor Mat

The Play bathroom floor is a tad cold, and can be slippery if wet. 
I used a template from a wooden floor to make a paper template and then cut flooring out of a Non-Slip Poyvinyl Loofa Mat. It's easy to pull out and shake out, and insulated the floor. The mat is porous and so far, we love it!

The Template and the Template Instructions are here for download.

Bathroom Door Kickstand
The bathroom door (particularly the left one) never stays open. This Kickdown Door Stop from Amazon works well for us. I initially ordered the 6" model, but ended up returning and getting the 7" model which is great! There are two in the package, but we haven't had the need to install on the right side door (yet). 

A couple other bathroom improvements.....

Shower Head

The OEM shower head does not have a means for shutting off the water without turning off the faucets. 
This Camco shower head has an on/off switch, and it's an easy upgrade.

Battery Operated motion Light

The light in the Play bathroom is VERY bright....blindingly so if you're up during the night. And...the switch is hard to find in the dark. I picked up these Motion Puck Lights (3 pak) and one of them in the bathroom is a game changer! They stick well, and only come on in the dark with motion. Plenty of light for a quick night-time visit. I put this up well over a year ago and just last week changed the battery. 

That's all for Part 2. Thanks for looking!

Upgrade Posts List: