Month: May 2021

Can You Keep a Travel Trailer Cool in the South Carolina Heat?

Note: I have upgraded my Amazon account to an affiliate link account, so if you purchase something using any of the following links I may make a small commission.

Austin’s Happy Place

When I was a little girl, I was convinced that there was no place hotter than my daddy’s half-acre garden. As he accumulated more land and begin cleaning it, I knew I’d been wrong. There was no place hotter than land you’re trying to clear. As an adult, I realized that the hottest place in the world has got to be a hay field, but a travel trailer baking in the South Carolina sun has to be a close second to any hayfield, garden, or land clearing.

Cooling a travel trailer is no easy feat, but it can be done using tricks of the trade like camper placement, insulation, and skirting.

Can You Keep a Travel Trailer Cool?

Those who know me avoid me when it is hot. I’m a miserable, sweaty, angry mess when South Carolina turns on the heat and humidity. Those who want to spend time with me during the summer opt for visiting near large bodies of water, swimming pools, or in air conditioning that could make a snowman shiver.

Yet, I go camping – all summer long. (And my husband still enjoys the trips.)

I’ll be the first to admit, cooling a travel trailer is no easy feat. First, you’re dealing with little, if any insulation, the materials manufacturers use beckon the sun, and the air conditioning units are never sufficient. But all is not lost. Here are some things we’ve tried or plan to try this summer.

  1. Be Selective About Where You Park. Wherever your largest windows are, make sure they are facing north, this way, when the sun sets, you are in the shade. Also, request a spot with plenty of shade.
  2. Have Your Windows Tinted – all of them. Travel Trailers come with lots of windows that do not open. They are great for viewing majestic scenery but do nothing for helping you cool your rig. Anyone who tints car windows can tint travel trailer windows. We used Unique Visions in Rock Hill, but any company that tints windows could do the work. This trick alone has provided a measurable difference for us.
  3. Tint the windows Yourself – This is not an option our marriage would have survived, but it seems easy enough to do. You might check out the following Amazon products:
    1. Protint Windows 5% Shade. This product allows you to select between a 5% and 50% visual light transmission, but there are many other products you might choose.
    2. Heat Control Window Film – This option is nice because it offers daytime privacy and there is no glue involved. Static cling is the magic that makes this product work. 
  4. Use a Door Window Shade Amazon has two shades we like. The first is an RV Door Window Cover Reflective shade and the other is the Latch.IT RV Door Window Shade. Both are easily installed in under two minutes and they work equally well.
  5. Cover Your Vents. This was the single greatest investment we made after tinting our windows. The temperature difference in the trailer was noticeable within 5 minutes. It may not seem like it, but the heat coming in through the skylights and bathroom vents is incredible. We bought ours at Camping World, but Amazon sells them cheaper. Try these models: Camco RV Vent Insulator or the VanEssential Magnetic Insulated Roof Vent Cover.
  6. Insulate Your Travel Trailer. Austin was surprised at how easy this task actually was. For underneath the rig, we chose the SilveRboard R-5 from Lowes for the area underneath the bed. Next weekend we will use Amazon’s EZ Cool RV Vehicle Insulation for the area behind the couch. In our trailer this space is a dead area, but boy does it trap the heat.
  7. Use a WindSkirt. We have not tried this idea yet, but will when we retire and can camp for longer periods of time. I’m considering trying this RV WindSkirt available on Amazon.
  8. Invest in Sun Shades. This option is our next big purchase and though we have not decided on which model we’ll use, here is a picture of an Amazon product I’m referring to. It’s the Shade Pro Vista Shade for the awning. I have seen many campers use these shades to create an outdoor room and plan to do the same for our trip to OceanLakes Campground this summer.
  9. Get A Dehumidifier. Space is always at a premium in the travel trailer, and this option is not for every camper, but considering my extreme aversion to heat and humidity, this LONOVE Dehumidifier seems like a worthy contender for space. I’ll let you know if Austin goes for it. 

Why Camp When It’s So Hot?

Some people only camp during Spring and Fall, while others camp year-round. In South Carolina, we are fortunate enough to have mild winters, so we seldom have to winterize the camper and can often take off camping whenever we feel like it, but camping in the heat is HARD.

We do it though, because we love the camping life. Most often our electronics are seldom used and we get to see amazing sights, experience incredible things, and get to know each other better with every trip. Granted, Austin likes me much better in every season except summer, but that’s why I’m writing this blog. Where there is a will, there is always a way.


Lessons Kids Learn From Spectators

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on

First Impressions

When I make new acquaintances and they learn that I am a high school teacher, there is always a mixture of awe and a little pity in their responses. Most often I hear, “Bless you, Dear. I don’t know how you deal with all that attitude and disrespect.” 

Years ago I would take up for my students. Today, well, after reflecting upon an incident that happened a few weeks ago, I have more reason to ask myself, “Why are you teaching teenagers?” 

Perhaps it is that I still believe teachers can make a difference. Maybe I believe that coaches can get through where adults and other teachers can’t. Maybe I have seen it work when parents and teachers, staff and coaches work together and a kid many have given up on turns around in a magnificent way, and I’m addicted to that scenario.

Most likely I stick with it because I feel that to quit would be to give up on what could be the greatest, most accepting, and most progressive generation of all time. Lord knows we’ve given them a lot of mistakes to learn from. Whatever the reason, still, I teach.

They Had Help Getting Here

The thing that always confuses me about this disapproval of teenagers is that the kids didn’t get to these levels of attitude and disrespect overnight or by themselves. Somebody has had at least fifteen years of pouring into them (or perhaps not) before they ever reach high school.

Still, somehow, at least much of the time, turning teenagers into respectful, productive members of society falls squarely on the shoulders of teachers. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard adults say, “Well when you look at what they learn in school…” or “That’s what happens when you take prayer out of schools.” Really? Can people really believe first that kids who are taught to pray at home don’t pray in school, or that they learn and adopt their disrespectful behavior in the 180 days a year schools have them?

Sportsmanship and Spectators

I think of those who pour their lives into our kids, and my husband is an excellent example. He has coached YMCA soccer since my oldest daughter was four, and she is twenty-five now. Even when our children aged out of the program, he saw how beneficial Y soccer was, and recruited our youngest daughter to help him coach and referee games. That’s when she “saw the light.”

YMCA soccer is not about winning, or even teaching soccer skills, though both are valuable components of the program. The main benefit to YMCA soccer is that the program focuses on sportsmanship.

For example, today my husband’s team played against a team that has a special needs player who has yet to score a goal.  My husband talked to the child’s coach and to his own team and everyone was excited to make sure this young player scored a goal today. 

No one cared about the score in that game because everyone had already won the moment that ball went into the goal. That act of sportsmanship – of allowing children to see what it feels like to take care of others – was life-changing for some.

How Spectators Teach Life Lessons

Later today though, everyone on the field – parents, coaches, referees, and players –  lost when spectators started arguing with a referee. Through the years there have been spectators, and even coaches, who have taken the program to levels it was never designed for. Still, today was eye-opening for me. 

It Starts with Parking 

The YMCA relies on generous companies to donate fields for children to play soccer on. But drivers must honor the company’s parking rules. The businesses do not stop on Saturdays for soccer, so their employees and delivery personnel must have somewhere to park. This is why there are “No Parking” signs and cones in certain places.

The lessons for our kids begin the moment spectators chose to disregard no parking signs and move cones. Though seemingly harmless, this action actually exposes a blatant disregard for players, other spectators, referees, and for the companies who graciously donate the space.

Then the lessons move to how the spectators treat other teams and adults , most notably referees during the game. 

Now, I’m not saying refs always call it right. Believe me, I have called Austin on a call a time or two myself, but never in anger, and never with disrespect. In fact, grumbling about a call is all in good fun and part of all sports games. Verbally attacking the refs week after week, though, is quite another thing. 

And this type of behavior isn’t an isolated event. Our youngest daughter stopped refereeing, in part, for this unreasonable behavior.  After two seasons of being yelled at by spectators, she opted to spend her free time doing something else.

The Lesson

But what is all of this teaching our kids? You can be sure they are watching.

When drivers get out of their cars to and move the no parking zone cones and children watch adults do this, it teaches a lesson: Rules are to be followed as long as they are not inconvenient. 

When spectators attack coaches and referees, the kids learn that respect is optional…and that is respect for self and others. These spectators can’t respect themselves or their kids and behave in such a manner, and that attitude morphs as the kids get older.

Two things are true when raising kids.

  1. They will find and most often follow the path you thought you covered up.
  2. If it won’t be cute at 12, you’d better not let it happen at 2…so don’t show them how to do it.

The Idea that Respect Is Earned

Respect doesn’t die overnight, and it is not earned overnight, but to live in a productive, safer society where guns are used for recreation rather than settling differences, some things must be agreed upon.

For example, adults do not deserve admiration and respect by virtue of age, but to disrespect someone you do not even know says more about you than it does about the person you are disrespecting. And when kids show disrespect to referees, coaches, teachers, etc., it often says a lot about what they saw while growing up.

I don’t blame the kids. During such a time of life when hormones are changing, responsibilities are more apparent, and realizations about life are being made, who can blame kids for  responding in anger? Most often they are repeating behavior that has been modeled for them, they just do not have the finesse adults have when they do it.

The Solution

Enjoy the moment on the soccer field and realize that no one on that field is out to get your kid. Most are volunteers who see value in community service; they are not there to make sure the other team wins.

But neither are they professional coaches or referees and they will most certainly make bad calls, but that is where you can become the problem, or create a lesson. Imagine a high school where all students there had parents who used bad calls made on the little league field as a way to teach them that sometimes life is unfair; sometimes bad calls get made.

I remember when one of my daughters lost a middle school student body president election to the quarterback of their football team. It was so unfair. It was a bad call on the part of the student body and the adults in charge, but all they could do then was change requirements the next year making attendance and participation in the office for which you are running mandatory.

That year, though, the quarterback never attended even one meeting, but do you know who did? My oldest daughter also did the work that year and that action didn’t pay off for her in any way, at least not immediately. But four years later when she needed letters of recommendation, those teachers remembered my daughter’s character and wrote letters that earned her serious scholarship money. 

When my daughter grappled with the unfairness of it all, I could have raised sand at the school. I could have grumbled at the dinner table every night, and no one would have blamed me. I could have let her quit and move onto something else, and at the time, she would have thanked me. Instead, we took a bad call and used it to build character. I wish other adults would do the same.

Life isn’t easy, but we can make it easier for our kids if we’d just be the adults we want them to grow up to be.

Politicians and Their Word Choices

Photo by Designecologist on

Two Dollar Words

I love the English language. It is so easy to add words, change the meanings of words, and use the same word to mean vastly different things. It is also hysterical to watch someone find what my daddy called a $2.00 word to express what a $.02 word would say better. 

Lately, how our politicians use words has run the gamut between hilarity and a cause for concern. While their word choices are often suitable for comic relief, it is the lack of forethought many of our political leaders have for their constituents today that surprises me. I’m not sure why I keep holding out hope for just one to do the right thing, but I digress.

Is ‘ridiculosity’ a Word?

Sometimes our leaders’ lack of concern for their constituents does more than surprise me. In fact, it often angers me, and sometimes, well, it scares me. The most recent example is reported in  Zak Koeske’s article in The State, “McMaster calls it ‘ridiculous’ that SC students are forced to wear masks at school.” As is popular today, Governor McMaster tweeted his own word, “ridiculosity,” which, by the way, is a word, while pandering for votes. 

Governor McMaster said, I paraphrase, that it is ridiculous to require students to wear masks at school. However, I’d be willing to bet that if the tides were for wearing masks, his stance most assuredly would have been it is ridiculous for schools not to require masks.  

Many Agree with the Governor

Quite honestly, many of you will agree with the governor’s statement. I respect your disagreement and would fight for your right to disagree–as long as we could have an honest conversation addressing why we differ and then work together towards agreeing on how to handle decisions that pertain to public health. We may never fully agree, but we would both walk away with a better understanding of the other side and quite possibly find an excellent compromise.

This issue should not be an “us” versus “them” matter. It should be a “Let’s do what is in the best interest of public health and when in doubt, err on the side of caution” matter.

I am a fully vaccinated teacher. My husband is fully vaccinated, and most of my friend group is fully vaccinated. It is so comforting to be able to hug my mom. I love knowing I can now spend time with my daughter, who is an ICU nurse who has fought to save lives this entire pandemic. I feel safe regularly spending time with my youngest daughter and only granddaughter. 

But that is where the problem arises. My granddaughter is only three. She cannot get vaccinated, and Covid-19 does not care.

Freedom and Personal Choice

I am all about freedom and personal choice. I believe in state’s rights. I believe no one knows a child better than the child’s mom. But I also know that while most parents agree on what is best, the few who do not agree often have the loudest voice.

This statement seems especially true during a pandemic that happens once every 100 years. 

So let’s be clear, none of us know how to navigate this pandemic; however, erring on the side of caution seems prudent for everyone. Even when it makes us uncomfortable, relying on science is best for all concerned, even those, like me, who find masks uncomfortable.

Why Have Schools Been the “safest” Place to Be?

The governor says schools have been the safest place to be, but could that be because students, at least in the beginning, were kept apart either through hybrid school days or online learning, and those who were in the school were required to wear masks? Weren’t teachers cleaning after every class? Weren’t entire buildings being deep-cleaned once a week?

Weren’t most of the outbreaks we saw due to athletic events or extracurricular activities where masks could not or would not be worn?

This sudden outcry to stop requiring masks seems ludicrous at best, deadly at worst. People are actually purchasing billboards to spread their message that masks should now be voluntary in schools. The prevailing argument seems to be because teachers who want the vaccine have been vaccinated. But what about our kids? No vaccine is approved for children under twelve, and many families who have vaccinated sixteen-year-olds also have unvaccinated ten-year-olds.

I’m not sure why I expect our governor to be a voice of reason. He has kept us in the highest US rate of Covid-19 cases for many months of this pandemic. But right now, he’s speaking for (or against?) our children who have no voice in his decision. Sure, teachers who wanted to have finally received the vaccine, but our students have not. A strong leader, one who cared about people over position, would explain the plight of our children and end with, “And so we wear masks a little longer.”

This governor’s statement that this decision should be left to the parents shows that he has no clue what he is talking about. If left up to the parents and parents require masks, students who do not want to wear masks will simply say their parents don’t want them to wear masks. I can’t tell you how often a parent reports that the dress code violation they pick their children up for was not what the child was wearing when they left their home.

Leaving this choice up to anyone besides science and the people who are IN THE BUILDING EVERY DAY is asking for more divisions, continued outbreaks, and a longer pandemic.

The belief wreaks of weak leadership.

It wreaks of disregard for others.

It is evidence of a governor who needs to surround himself with people who do not think as he does because it takes many sides to make the best decision.

What the Pandemic Has Taught

One of my colleagues posted a Tweet last week that describes this situation best. Someone asked this question: “What is one thing the pandemic has taught you that you will never forget.” 

Kat Arnet, a person I do not know but whose answer totally admire, responded, “There are two types of people: those who believe in doing what’s best for everyone even if it means personal sacrifice, and those who see their own inconvenience as unacceptable no matter what.” 

Sadly, SC’s leadership seems to be the latter type, but do we really want to live in a world and teach our children to become people who behave as though the only way to make a decision is to choose what is convenient, profitable, or popular?

I don’t like wearing masks. From a teaching standpoint, they make it take longer to figure out which of my students “get it” and who needs more help. It takes longer to see if someone is having a bad day, and the dang things are hot. 

But all of those negatives can be overcome. For one thing, transparent face masks are available, and that appears to be a suitable compromise. For those who find masks uncomfortable and hot, mask stands work well. (I use them.) A strong leader will talk to all concerned and determine how to compromise on the issue without compromising safety. 

At the End of the Day

We have about six weeks left in a school year that has been hard by even the most generous standards, but we have students back in the classroom, which the majority of the state needed. (Who knew that so much of the US economy rested on teacher’s shoulders?)

August will be a time to revisit this topic, but for now, the virus is still very active. Covid cases in schools are rising, even if they aren’t being reported. Remember, many people can treat the symptoms of the virus at home, so they do not report it, but what about the people they come into contact with who face debilitating symptoms?

I can be inconvenienced for those people. I can wear my mask for my students, my school, and my state even if the governor believes requiring masks in school is “ridiculosity.” What is ridiculous is understanding human behavior and then making a statement like that which has a great potential of impacting public health – my granddaughter’s health.

Keep the masks on, even if you don’t believe they work. Science has proven that they work in keeping all kinds of viruses away, not just Covid-19, so why would we require that students attend school, require them to adhere to dress codes, bell schedules, classroom rules, and all the rest, but call it “ridiculous” to require them to wear masks during a pandemic?