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OUR LATEST POSTS
It started last August.
We had just wrapped up closing down Cherie’s family business, which had been the focus of her career and her primary source of income for the past 20 years.
After several back-to-back major life challenges, we announced that we were excitedly looking forward to treating ourselves to a bit of a mini-sabatical – focusing on our own apps, books, and small projects for a while.
We even had a snazzy new logo created for our own partnership, Two Steps Beyond LLC, and polished up our professional web presence.
We wrote at the time:
We’re just not ready to dive into another life encompassing project until we’ve had a chance to reground after being in a continual crisis mode for so long.
Fortunately we are both skilled at setting intentions, and then letting go of our attachment to them.
Because just a few weeks later we got an email from another full-time RVer named Curtis:
“I just spent about an hour on your site, again, and I want to connect with you! As a reminder, our mutual friend tried to connect us a couple of years ago but we blew it off.… The reason I am contacting you now is I think I have a development job for you if at all interested.”
Our focus – volunteering at Cape Blanco.
We get emails like this occasionally, and had gotten several all at once after we announced we shut down the family business.
We were sincere that we weren’t looking for new gigs, but we followed up nicely to them all and offered consultation sessions. All of our replies pointed out that we were mainly focused on our lighthouse hosting duties and in no rush to explore new opportunities.
A few weeks later, Curtis poked us again:
“I am really hoping to connect with you, and am wondering if you have time for a call in the NEAR future?”
That email lead to a great phone call, with Curtis revealing a very intriguing project, and all of us discovering some amazing serendipitous threads of connection and entwined history – even though we had never met.
But there was no obvious path forward – we weren’t looking to take on anyone else’s big project, and a skilled team made up of veterans from Couchsurfing.org (which grew to support 7 million members!) was already on board.
We told Curtis we were happy to brainstorm further with him, and it looked like our paths were likely to cross soon.
“Can’t wait to meet ya and show you where we are at with this “baby” I am having!”
Debuting RVillage at our Cedar Key Convergence – our month long focus group.
The seeds were planted, and in early November we at last came face-to-face with Curtis on a magically serendipitous night in the desert.
Curtis shared with us his dream for creating something amazing for RV’ers craving community on the road – something he was calling RVillage.
“RVillage… Our Village.”
It was a realization of something we had wished for in all our years on the road – and he had the funding, a development team, and a solid business plan for bringing it into reality.
He told us he knew we had some big role in this, we just had to define it.
We realized that this project had our name written all over it, and by the time we were back on the road eastward, we knew we couldn’t NOT be involved. We were in rare place in our lives where we had both the time and banked savings to invest ourselves into a speculative project that inspired us so much.
So we agreed to join the RVillage core team as advisors and “Launch Specialists” to add our unique perspective and talents.
And since early November we have been working (literally!) every day to help bring this dream into reality.
So much for avoiding life encompassing projects!
Sometimes the universe completely ignores the intentions you set, and gives you exactly what you need.
And now… Introducing RVillage!
The core idea of RVillage is to create a very simple (and free) tool for RVers to connect with each other – not just online, but right in the RV parks and places they are currently staying in.
When a user checks into a location in RVillage, they can discover the things that they have in common with other RVers right around them.
This sure beats leaving connections up to chance encounters while walking the cat, or the random stranger coming up asking “what type of engine is in that thing?” while you are busy dumping the tanks.
“With RVillage, an RV park full of strangers becomes a village full of friends.”
Our shared group map from the Cedar Key 2014 Convergence – showing where everyone has scattered to since. Perfect for keeping in touch with new friends made, and planning future rendezvouses.
And RVillage isn’t just about making new friends out on the road – it also features shared mapping tools that let you track your current friends across the country and plan future rendezvous together.
Even better – you can create both public and private groups to keep in touch with people who share your interests. Everything from smaller special interest groups to larger organizations will be able to have a presence on RVillage with a central map showing where everyone in the group is currently checked in at.
This is the sort of “Nomad Proximity Detector” tool that we have long craved in our own nearly 8 years years on the road.
Here’s a preview video our team put together to explain the RVillage concept:
RVillage aims to answer some of the common questions we see daily in blogs, forums, and groups:
- How can I meet like minded people on the road, when I’m only in town for a few days?
- Who else is traveling in this part of the country right now? Where will people be converging this winter?
- How can I meet my new neighbors in a campground, skip the small talk, and get to the deeper things we share in common?
- I keep literally passing my RVing friends on the highway – isn’t there a better way to know when we are near each other?
- How can I find RV Parks that are more social, offering more than just a place to park?
RVillage is not just another social network focused on keeping people virtually connected and online.
This is about using technology to make more real life connections happen offline.
“It’s not only about the places we go, it’s also about the people we meet along the way.”
Planning Get-togethers within the park you’re currently checked into.
We’ve partnered with Allstays for our park directory so nearly every RV park in the country is already in the system – including many in Canada.
You’ll be able to browse the profiles of others in the park – and you can then message them directly and organize or attended get-togethers.
You can post on the park’s feed and ask about local things to see, or about borrowing a ladder, or seeing who might be up for a photography expedition or grocery run. Or just hanging out around a campfire.
And RVillage can become a conduit for communication between park management and their village – relaying information ranging from propane delivery schedules to weather alerts – “Bring in the awnings tonight!”
It’s super focused on the RVing lifestyle – full timers, part timers, vacationers, and seasonal RVers alike.
RVillage has been created by RVers for RVers, and we couldn’t be more excited.
Ready to Join RVillage?
Building RVillage has been a massive undertaking, and a lot of pieces have had to come together in a relatively short time.
After a couple months of conducting intense focus groups (yup, serendipity perfectly timed the development cycle with our Cedar Key convergence to provide an ideal social RVing environment!), and hosting hundreds of private previews – we think what we have in RVillage today is a solid very functional foundation.
But we know we are not nearly done yet.
There are still rough edges to smooth out, plenty of big and little bugs to squash, and a lot of potential that is still evolving as we work out the implementation details.
No one has ever created a site and community quite like RVillage before – and we have decided to invite the public in before the site is perfect with a “Public Beta” period beginning today.
Our intention is to turn “beta” into a badge of honor, indicating that we are being developed out in the open taking community feedback to heart.
In part we are doing this because we just couldn’t keep it secret any longer – so many of our preview users have been having a hard time holding back their excitement wanting to share about RVillage already.
Lots of awesome stuff is still under development and coming soon – such as support for smartphones, boondocking sites, and travelers in Mexico.
We know that an active and involved village is the best way to determine what features are actually the most important to prioritize.
So if you’re up for joining us in continuing to shape this amazing tool as a community, we invite you to set up your free profile here:
You can start making new friends right away, connect with existing ones, and finding the most social RV Parks along your route ahead!
Villagers are beginning to spread across the continent. Come join us!
There is a Technomadia Fans group for readers of this site, and of course the all-important Kiki Fan Club.
And if you’d like to be part of the conversation around submitting bugs and ideas for future improvements, as well as getting updates about major new features & fixes – we also invite you to join us on our RVillage Beta Feedback group.
Even before launch, RVillage already has had several success stories of new friendships made and existing ones strengthened.
We are so excited to see the impact that this project will have on the RVing world!
RVillage will always be free for us RVers, and even for the RV Parks who can choose to claim their parks and become social RVing hubs. The funding will come from the location aware service directory that you’ll see on the right hand side of the screen featuring RV friendly businesses who are advertising and supporting the community.
The RV Friend Network LLC Team (Don’t look for us in the group picture – we were hyper focused on our part of the launch in Cedar Key, and didn’t attend the sales team training in Las Vegas in February.)
We have teams already out on the road getting RV Parks to claim their parks and encourage their guests to sign into RVillage. They are also selling advertising to local RV friendly businesses. The service directory has actually proven to be a favorite feature in our preview testing – providing a valuable tool that will make it easier for us RVers to find the things we need when we’re just in town for a short while.
Imagine – useful advertising focused on the needs of RVers, and relevant to where you are at right now!
So this is it – the ‘secret project’ we have been teasing about.
If you are at all excited by the potential here – tell your friends, share this post, and help us spread the word! As RVillage.com grows, we all benefit by increasing the number of people we can connect with on the road.
We are so excited to finally be able to talk about this!!
Follow RVillage on:
Our route from Brooksville to Melbourne.
After our re-charging stay at the gorgeous Sertoma Youth Ranch, it was time to do what we came to Florida for – spend time with family.
We had hoped to get in more family time this winter, but many things conspired to make that not happen as much. In particular, Chris’ parents ended up rather spontaneously buying a new house in their retirement community in Spring Hill – which required a complete remodeling that took most of their focus.
While we had originally intended Cedar Key to be our winter basecamp to arrange multiple visits, that really didn’t manifest except for the holidays. Of course, our social and work life kept us pretty cemented in Cedar Key anyway.
So, Spring Hill would be our next stop to get a few days in with them.
Kiki digs the view at her Grandmeow’s new Florida house.
Their new house is now re-modeled, and it’s absolutely gorgeous – it’ll be a fine Florida homebase for them. We helped out with wrapping up some house projects for them, got in some quality time catching up and did our best to balance that with still putting in continued long work hours.
We’ve now visited Spring Hill several times over the past couple years since they started wintering in Florida – and we’ve yet to find our own groove. While there’s several RV Parks in the area, none of them are quite our style.
Nothing too exciting about Barrington Hills RV ‘Resort’.
So on this visit, we went back to Barrington Hills RV Resort (our full review), a park in the Encore system. It’s really kinda dull by our standards, and mostly a mobile home park. But, they honor Passport America and we can book it online – so it met the needs of a cheap place to park nearby.
After our visit with his folks, it was time to move on over to Melbourne to be near my mom for a bit and help her out with several projects – many involving wrapping up my dad’s affairs.
The whole relocation from Cedar Key progression was feeling very familiar to last year as we moved over to spend his last days together.
Our spot at Lake Louisa State Park – nice enough.
So instead of going straight over to Melbourne, we decided to mix in something different.
I found a spot at Lake Louisa State Park (our full review) in Clermont available for 2 days, and snagged it. We generally love Florida State Parks, but this one just didn’t have the same charm as others we’ve visited.
But that worked out fine, as our time in Clermont quickly became socially overbooked and we were hardly there. For starters, we have dear friends who live in the area that we wanted to catch up with. And then we discovered our RVing friends Forrest and Mary were down the road at the Orlando Thousand Trails park, so we booked up a dinner date with them – we always love time with those two.
Meeting Kimberly of Fulltime Families.
And then we discovered that the Traveling Travaglinos were also at Thousand Trails, so we reached out to meetup.
They run the Fulltime Families community, which provides a lot of services & resources to RVing families. It was good to meet Kimberly after years of cyberstalking each other.
Multi-tasking – hiking and handling business calls!
We did get to make use of Lake Louisa’s trails for a morning walk, and exercised our multi tasking abilities to handle work related Skype calls while hiking around one of the many lakes in the park.
After a way too busy schedule, our 2 nights were quickly consumed and we made the final drive over to Melbourne. We’ll be here for a week spending time with my mom and catching up with friends in the area.
And again, juggling lots of work hours for that secret project we’re so excited about.
What’s Next? At present time, it’s looking likely that we’ll head up to the Savannah area mid week to spend some time with dear friends in the area. And then we’re contemplating popping over to Perry, GA for the big FMCA Rally on March 17th. We’ve never been to a big RV-centric rally, and several of our friends are going – so why not?
After that, we’ll be looking for some much needed slower pace of everything as we do a slow roll up to St. Louis. Suggestions of some nice parks we can stop at to recharge our introverted homebodied selves at would be much appreciated.
When I reveal to folks that I have food restrictions – this inevitably leads to questions of how to deal with various dietary concerns while on the road.
We enjoy grilling at home when we’re set up for a bit.
- Can you really get the foods you desire while traveling to a variety of rural and urban places?
- Will you feel you’re missing out on cultural experiences if you can’t sample all of the local cuisine?
It can be done with a bit of planning, knowing how to adapt meals & ingredients, asking for what you need, and probably doing more cooking at home.
But really, it’s not all that different than eating when you’re living stationary.
My Food Restrictions – Gluten Free Semi-Vegetarian
Too many zucchinis? Google to the rescue! GF Zucchini cookies and casserole.
Obviously, the below is in no way intended to be dietary or medical advice – and nor am I open to debate on my dietary choices. I’m just sharing so you have some background on my decisions and how I navigate this as a traveler.
I consider myself a semi-vegetarian, and have been since high school. I eat eggs, dairy and occasionally have seafood and poultry. (Did you know that in some midwest towns, chicken is seemingly considered a vegetable?!?)
I haven’t eaten anything made from the flesh of a mammal in nearly 25 years now.
Between a dear friend having great results going gluten free and my 23andMe DNA test coming back showing a relatively higher susceptibility to Celiac, I decided to give the diet a shot.
After a month I was convinced. I felt better. I had more energy, a noticeable decrease in joint pain, clearer skin, and less digestive issues.
So there’s my primary restrictions – gluten free and semi-vegetarian.
Chris, by the way, identifies as a flexitarian freegan opportunivore – meaning that he happily defaults to vegetarian while at home, but “if it’s free – he’ll eat it”, and if it’s a regional delicacy or speciality of the house, he’ll probably take the opportunity to try it.
But in general, Chris and I both have a strong preference for non-processed whole foods, and organics. We prefer a lot of fresh vegetables & fruits, and things that don’t come out of packages. We also avoid high fructose corn syrup. When shopping at grocery stores, we generally shop the perimeter of the store.
There are of course others navigating much more restrictive diets – whether by choice or for medical reasons.
Food Challenges on the Road
Here are some of the challenges of dealing with food restrictions and/or strong preferences on the road:
Yum! Love Farm fresh produce!
We’re always navigating different grocery stores and farmers markets. So we can’t get used to what is being carried, or even where it might be located.
If we’d really like to make a gluten free pizza, we may just not be able to find the same ingredients we used last time. This results in us being flexible to adapt to what we can find, and stocking up on harder to find items. And we love stocking up at Trader Joe’s when we find one on the road!
We actually love the variability of food suppliers we encounter on the road, and it forces us to think differently about our own food prep. I’m not big on following recipes. When I’m feeling creative, I love just going with my instincts or searching the internet for ideas.
Tip: For the rare dry goods that we want on hand, we bulk buy on Amazon.com, and have them delivered for free via our Prime account.
We do love shopping at local farmers markets to get fresh local produce, and there are apps and website out there (such as http://www.localharvest.org) that track them. But we tend to just let serendipity present them to us in our travels.
Food sensitivity menus can be found online for many restaurants! I use my iPad to search ‘Gluten Free’ and the restaurant’s name – right at the table. It can be faster sometimes than asking our server for a printed copy!
Eating out can be challenging, and some dining establishments just have very limited options that meet my criteria. But usually I can find something without having to resort to a salad. I’ve gotten very comfortable about asking for modifications to menu items to meet my needs.
And some larger more progressive cities just have food restrictions down to an art form. I love visiting Austin, Portland, Madison, San Francisco and others… where it seems most restaurants have several menu selections visibly marked as being GF and vegetarian. I can almost get overwhelmed by all the options and choices!
And there are mobile apps, like Find Me Gluten Free, which help us locate restaurants that take gluten free food preparation into account. There are probably similar apps out there for most dietary restrictions.
And yes, sometimes I do just have to miss out on a region’s known food thing – like skipping VooDoo Donuts in Portland or pasties up in the UP of Michigan. I don’t feel left out on meat-centric local cuisines, as my semi-vegetarian preference is a very conscious choice I’ve made for my own reasons.
As a past event coordinator myself, I never expect organizers of events to cater to dietary needs – they have enough on their plates as is. But that does add some challenges in attending rallies and conferences where food is included in the price. I really appreciate it when an event presents the menu in advance, so that I can make an informed decision about what meals I’ll be able to eat – and when I need to prepare my own food.
From a recent RV rally potluck – hardly anyone labeled their contributions.
Since meals are often times part of the schedule with seminars before & after, I’m left having to decide to skip sessions to cook my own meals or opt out of the social time over meals to eat a home. But heck, I love attending events in my RV home and having the easy option to take care of my own needs.
And potlucks.. oh goodness, those can be very difficult for those with food restrictions. I always prepare a dish I can eat and make sure there is ample in case its the only thing I can eat. And, I label my dish as ‘Gluten Free Vegetarian’ and with any common food allergens listed. It would be so helpful if more food contributions were labeled as well.
As we do enjoy attending group functions like rallies, we just factor all of these things into our logistics of attending. But, it does honestly become frustrating at times.
All and all, I don’t feel that living on the road with food restrictions is too much of a problem. We cook a lot at home – it’s just easier and cheaper. But we do eat out when we have options that are close by, affordable and with flexible menus. And it always touches me when someone takes my food restrictions into account when preparing food to share with us.
Any other tips for navigating the country around food restrictions? I’d love to hear them in the comments, as I’m sure others would too.
Space... no neighbors... anywhere!
Space. Glorious awesome space.
After the Tin Can Tourist Convention cleared out on Sunday, Chris and I were walking around the campground late at night.
It was so peaceful. Quiet. We had the entire campground to ourselves. No one but the friendly workampers around. Acres of tree’d bliss all ours.
And solid LTE on all our devices.
Space…. no neighbors beside us!
We realized that we had no neighbors to disturb with our late night shenanigans. We could talk in a normal voice while we take our 2am strolls around the campground – often walking the cat.
Why was it we were leaving in the morning again?
We had snagged reservations beginning Monday at Hillsborough State Park just south of Zephyrhills, for a spot right across from the kayak launch. We enjoyed the park very much on our stay last year, and were looking forward to returning for our post-Cedar Key recharging alone time.
But we now realized that our “secret project” would be consuming much more of our time this week than we had anticipated when we made the reservation. And we already knew from Reserve America that we had snagged one of the last spots, and that the entire state park would be full up during our stay.
Plus – the Tin Can Tourists had negotiated an attractive $20/night rate for attendees to extend their stay here, cheaper than our state park rate – not to mention the fuel saved on repositioning.
Space… no neighbors… anywhere!
Having a beautiful chill place with no distractions, no neighbors, great connectivity and easily accessible walks and hiking trails – was just what we needed.
Just because we have a reservation, doesn’t mean we have to keep it…
We logged onto ReserveAmerica, and clicked the cancel button on our reservation authorizing the refund minus a trivial cancellation fee. And voila, plans changed and this perfect spot was ours for the week.
Our decision was rewarded when we went to pay for our extension at Sertoma Youth Ranch, and the workamper gave us an even cheaper daily rate for extending.
So, thus – we’ve been parked exactly where we pulled in last Thursday. Enjoying more solitude than we’ve experienced in many many months.
It’s absolutely the perfect spot to hyper focus on this project.
Which by the way… we’re almost ready to end the suspense and tell you all about it! We’re so excited.
No, beyond excited.
Watch this Space… awesome stuff coming real soon!
The Tin Can Tourists is an organization dedicated to preserving the history of vintage RVs. They host rallies and gatherings across the country, and we were inducted as members last year during their 93rd convention in Brooksville, Florida. We had a great time, and made a lot of new friends.
The timing worked out for us to attend this year – and thankfully, we remembered the secret handshake, so they let us return!
But given that our big new project has reached a point of requiring really long days on our part, we were mostly shut-ins focused on our task at hand.
We were able to take a break and open up our vintage bus home for a couple hours on Saturday for tours during the open house.
We did manage to get out and about a little to tour a few trailers and take some snapshots. Here’s a slideshow of some of the fun vintage RVs present:
We also ended up being part of the entertainment two of the evenings.
Me fire dancing to live music.. including a live flutist! Awesome! (Chris got them to play ‘She’s Some Kind of Wonderful’ for me.. awww… what a sweetie!)
On Friday night, they brought in some musicians for dancing, and they were quite easy going guys. I love fire dancing to live music, and they seemed quite intrigued by the idea. We had a great time entertaining together for the group!
The rest of the evening, Chris and I totally got our dance groove on!
On Saturday night, there was no entertainment in the plans – and we just had to fix that.
Our friend’s Carl & Cherie (pronounced ‘Sherry’, unlike my name of the same spelling) have an incredibly awesome 1953 Pontiac Chief trailer.
At 45′ long – it’s very long trailer!
And we had the Lucy & Desi movie The Long Long Trailer and a projector.
Can you guess where this is going?!?
Yup, just how often can you watch ‘The Long Long Trailer on a Long Long Trailer’? Especially a trailer of the same vintage of the movie!
The Long Long Trailer… on a long long trailer! For perspective, our screen is about 10′ diagonal!
The organizer, Forrest Bone, was all over our witty initiative and announced it to the group – voila, instant evening full of laughter with new friends!
On Sunday morning, most everyone pulled out .. but we stuck around for the day to enjoy some quiet time with Sertoma Youth Ranch nearly to ourselves. We even ducked down to the little town of San Antonio, FL last night to have some of the best tacos we’ve ever had at Pancho Villa. Oh, yum.
What’s Next? We’re headed out this morning for some much overdue alone time (for real this time!) this week. But no rest for us. We’ll be hyper focused on the exciting new, still secret, project and working long, long hours.
Alright – I couldn’t resist one more Cedar Key post.
We arrived back from our cruise late on Sunday evening, and it was a bit sad to realize that many from our convergence were now on their way to new adventures. Many of them are heading on up to New Orleans for Mardis Gras, and we know they’re going to have a fabulous time!
An early morning ‘until next time’ with our new friends Jason & Kristin (Boondock Marketing) before we left on the cruise.
We’re glad we got to say our ‘until next times’ before everyone has headed their separate ways, we trust that our paths will cross again!
Karen toasting a final sunset together this visit. Susan is in the background – she’s off to sell her house in blustery New Hampshire to hit the road full time after this little Cedar Key winter!
Upon our return, Kiki was anxious to see us and a few of the nomads were still hanging around. We enjoyed a final night at the Low Key Tiki Bar with friends ending the day with a gorgeous sunset.
But mostly, we were right back to working long hours on this project we’re so super excited about. It’s getting close to being ready for launch!
We also managed to squeeze in a live video chat, and it felt really good to share a more personal topic of RVing for Introverts. Check out our video chat archive page if you have an hour & bandwidth to spare – lots of great tips shared about how to thrive on the road as an introvert, and how RVing really is a great balance for introverts with wanderlust.
We left Cedar Key yesterday morning after our two month stay – one of our longer stationary periods. As much as we love Cedar Key, the nomadic itch has been strong the past couple weeks – and we’re excited to be off on new adventures in new locations! It’s always a balancing act between being some place long enough but not too long.
We made the 100 mile repositioning down to Brooksville, where we’re now at the Tin Can Tourists 94th Convention. We’ll be connecting with our vintage RV peers this weekend, and then we’ll be bouncing around Central Florida for a couple weeks while we await the great white north to start thawing out a bit.
But before we end this post, we wanted to share some of the amazing sunsets that Cedar Key graced us with before our departure.