Technomadia http://www.technomadia.com Adventures in Nomadic Serendipity Fri, 01 Aug 2014 14:42:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Zoom Zoom…. Kerplop http://www.technomadia.com/2014/08/zoom-zoom-kerplop/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/08/zoom-zoom-kerplop/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:17:04 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15540 Go slow. There’s no hurry. Drive no more than 200 miles then stay no less than 2 nights. We hold these truths of RVing to be self evident. But yet we still try to push our limits sometimes. After a month long slow roll through northern Michigan balancing exploring new gorgeous areas and writing The Mobile Internet Handbook, we knew we’d have to book it to get across country to make up the time. Not only do we have a lighthouse waiting for us on September 1 in Oregon, our engine’s rebuild warranty is up in mid-August. And we really want to have it fully inspected and serviced before that date rolls around at our shop in Billings, Montana. Add to that, my birthday is this coming Monday, and I’d really prefer not to spend it in a diesel shop. To make sure we had plenty of time to take care of the annual service and get out of the shop by the weekend – we put aims to make it to Billings by Wednesday evening. That would be nearly 1200 miles in a week – which could either be spread into a couple really really long driving days, or broken up into daily drives of 150-200 mile.  We opted for the later. We set off from Marquette, Michigan after our time hanging with Nikki & Jason and started to hopscotch across the country on a series of 1-night stands in new cities. Ashland, WI After a delightful evening of soaking at the Ojibwa Casino & Hotel in Baraga, we left out with our eye towards a first come first serve city park along Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconsin. We had contemplated making it as far as Duluth and checking that city out, but after so many recommendations for it – we figured that would be a location better saved for when we’d have more time. Ashland was a beautiful and easy 137 mile drive and we arrived mid-afternoon to snag one of the last spots at Kreher RV Park (our review). We loved this little town, and immediately hit the hike & bike trail that runs through the city along the water covering nearly 5 miles on foot. Laporte, MN Scouting out for options ahead, we spotted a Harvest Hosts location in Laporte, Minnesota that looked nicely along our route.  We called Forestedge Winery and they energetically invited us to stop in. A bit longer of a driving day covering 211 miles, we arrived just before closing at 5pm. We were surprised to find a Wanderlodge parked, and at first assumed it was perhaps another Harvest Host visitor. Turns out, the owner of the winery, Paul, is a fellow bus nut!  He’s owned a lot of Flxible conversions in the past, and recently acquired the Wanderlodge as his winter escape to the south. It was so much fun to geek out over wine and buses!  We purchased a couple bottles of their delicious fruit wines (a rhubarb and white cranberry) and retired for the evening to rest up for another long driving day ahead. And of course, all the while managing putting finishing touches on our soon to be launched RV Mobile Internet Resource Center to go along with the book. Mayville, ND When we woke up in the morning, we had no specific target in mind and just hit the road westward along Highway 200. We love avoiding major interstates, and this route has served us very well. Little traffic, scenic views and well paved. We knew that many towns in North Dakota have city campgrounds and figured we’d find one along the way the suited us. Today’s drive would be a pretty momentous occasion for us too – our first time in a LONG while crossing into a brand new state for both of us. North Dakota. Or Nordakota, as the locals call it. We pulled over after traveling about 140 miles for a little break, and used the Allstays app to check to see what camping options might be ahead. The closest just happened to be around the corner – Willowood RV Park run by the city of Mayville. We pulled in and were immediately charmed.  A little river snakes around it, and there’s a beautiful community garden at the entrance. There was a site available with a water view, so we made it home for the evening. It was absolutely delightful to wander through the gardens, sniffing flowers, tasting herbs, relaxing in their hammock and wandering through the labyrinth. Lake Sakagewewa State Park We both woke up a bit road weary.  Four days in a row of driving days was catching up to us. But we must push on. We begrudgingly hooked up the Mini Coooper, and continued on westward. Chris had spotted the Oscar-Zero Minuteman Missile Launch Facility Historical Site along our route today, so we made a stop in for a tour. It was fascinating to go underground and see a command center for the Cold War. And mind boggling too. The tour lasted a bit longer than we anticipated and we still had many miles to make to keep on track. After 239 miles, we pulled into Lake Sakakawea State Park around 7pm, and wandered into the first-come first-serve section of the campground and took the very first site available. It just happened to be waterfront with an amazing view, and fabulous LTE signal for both Verizon and AT&T. Which was perfect, because we had scheduled a live video chat on RVing as a Couple for 8pm! We rushed to get some food in us, and did our best to perk up. Despite our exhaustion, the chat actually came out pretty darn great – the archive is available in our Live Chat Center if you’d like to take a peak. We got some work done, and were plum exhausted. And… Kerplop We left the windows open so we could see the sunrise over the lake.. and it was gorgeous. We watched it curled up in bed.  I said to Chris ‘I can’t move another mile today’.  He tried to feign energy to get in the driver’s seat and make it to Theodore Roosevelt National Park today. But it just wasn’t happening. We searched the App Store to see if there were any apps that would insert extra days into the month, with no luck. So we did what RVers are best at – we adapted to our reality. We’re not cut out for back-to-back driving days. We just can’t do it and balance life and launching a new book/service too. We reassessed our reason for reaching Billings in two more day’s time, which was now a daunting 430 miles away.  Just when did our warranty expire? If I wanted to be somewhere pretty for my birthday, why not just arrive to Billings right after instead of rushing to get out of there before? We checked in with our friends who we wanted to meet up with in Glacier next week, and they were relieved we would not be pushing to make it. They could detect our exhaustion from miles away, and made promise we could rendezvous down the road. With a sigh of relief we cuddled up with the cat and got another hour or two of sleep… and then renewed our glorious perfect spot for 3 more nights. Ever since, we’ve been working on getting an overdue update out to our Coverage? app and the manuscript to our book has arrived back from the editor (she gave us gold stars!). And we’ve been enjoying being still for a bit with opportunities to hike and play around with some of our new solar panels. What’s Next: Rested up, we’ll head on to Theodore Roosevelt National Park today in hopes of snagging a spot for the weekend. We’ve got some of our sample solar panels hooked up to give us a little power while not plugged in. We look forward to actually having time to get out and explore while we continue on with getting the book published!  Our aim is to pull into Billings on Tuesday for the engine service. And we have no clue what our plans will be afterwards – all we know is… west!]]>

Go slow. There’s no hurry. Drive no more than 200 miles then stay no less than 2 nights. We hold these truths of RVing to be self evident.

But yet we still try to push our limits sometimes.

After a month long slow roll through northern Michigan balancing exploring new gorgeous areas and writing The Mobile Internet Handbook, we knew we’d have to book it to get across country to make up the time.

Not only do we have a lighthouse waiting for us on September 1 in Oregon, our engine’s rebuild warranty is up in mid-August. And we really want to have it fully inspected and serviced before that date rolls around at our shop in Billings, Montana. Add to that, my birthday is this coming Monday, and I’d really prefer not to spend it in a diesel shop.

To make sure we had plenty of time to take care of the annual service and get out of the shop by the weekend – we put aims to make it to Billings by Wednesday evening. That would be nearly 1200 miles in a week – which could either be spread into a couple really really long driving days, or broken up into daily drives of 150-200 mile.  We opted for the later.

We set off from Marquette, Michigan after our time hanging with Nikki & Jason and started to hopscotch across the country on a series of 1-night stands in new cities.

Ashland, WI

Processed with MoldivAfter a delightful evening of soaking at the Ojibwa Casino & Hotel in Baraga, we left out with our eye towards a first come first serve city park along Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconsin.

We had contemplated making it as far as Duluth and checking that city out, but after so many recommendations for it – we figured that would be a location better saved for when we’d have more time.

Ashland was a beautiful and easy 137 mile drive and we arrived mid-afternoon to snag one of the last spots at Kreher RV Park (our review).

We loved this little town, and immediately hit the hike & bike trail that runs through the city along the water covering nearly 5 miles on foot.

Laporte, MN

Processed with MoldivScouting out for options ahead, we spotted a Harvest Hosts location in Laporte, Minnesota that looked nicely along our route.  We called Forestedge Winery and they energetically invited us to stop in.

A bit longer of a driving day covering 211 miles, we arrived just before closing at 5pm.

We were surprised to find a Wanderlodge parked, and at first assumed it was perhaps another Harvest Host visitor. Turns out, the owner of the winery, Paul, is a fellow bus nut!  He’s owned a lot of Flxible conversions in the past, and recently acquired the Wanderlodge as his winter escape to the south.

It was so much fun to geek out over wine and buses!  We purchased a couple bottles of their delicious fruit wines (a rhubarb and white cranberry) and retired for the evening to rest up for another long driving day ahead.

And of course, all the while managing putting finishing touches on our soon to be launched RV Mobile Internet Resource Center to go along with the book.

Mayville, ND

Processed with MoldivWhen we woke up in the morning, we had no specific target in mind and just hit the road westward along Highway 200. We love avoiding major interstates, and this route has served us very well. Little traffic, scenic views and well paved.

We knew that many towns in North Dakota have city campgrounds and figured we’d find one along the way the suited us.

Today’s drive would be a pretty momentous occasion for us too – our first time in a LONG while crossing into a brand new state for both of us. North Dakota.

Or Nordakota, as the locals call it.

We pulled over after traveling about 140 miles for a little break, and used the Allstays app to check to see what camping options might be ahead. The closest just happened to be around the corner – Willowood RV Park run by the city of Mayville.

We pulled in and were immediately charmed.  A little river snakes around it, and there’s a beautiful community garden at the entrance. There was a site available with a water view, so we made it home for the evening.

It was absolutely delightful to wander through the gardens, sniffing flowers, tasting herbs, relaxing in their hammock and wandering through the labyrinth.

Lake Sakagewewa State Park

Processed with MoldivWe both woke up a bit road weary.  Four days in a row of driving days was catching up to us. But we must push on. We begrudgingly hooked up the Mini Coooper, and continued on westward.

Chris had spotted the Oscar-Zero Minuteman Missile Launch Facility Historical Site along our route today, so we made a stop in for a tour. It was fascinating to go underground and see a command center for the Cold War. And mind boggling too.

The tour lasted a bit longer than we anticipated and we still had many miles to make to keep on track.

After 239 miles, we pulled into Lake Sakakawea State Park around 7pm, and wandered into the first-come first-serve section of the campground and took the very first site available. It just happened to be waterfront with an amazing view, and fabulous LTE signal for both Verizon and AT&T.

Which was perfect, because we had scheduled a live video chat on RVing as a Couple for 8pm! We rushed to get some food in us, and did our best to perk up. Despite our exhaustion, the chat actually came out pretty darn great – the archive is available in our Live Chat Center if you’d like to take a peak.

We got some work done, and were plum exhausted.

And… Kerplop

A very rare Technomadia sunRISE photo.

A very rare Technomadia sunRISE photo.

We left the windows open so we could see the sunrise over the lake.. and it was gorgeous. We watched it curled up in bed.  I said to Chris ‘I can’t move another mile today’.  He tried to feign energy to get in the driver’s seat and make it to Theodore Roosevelt National Park today. But it just wasn’t happening.

We searched the App Store to see if there were any apps that would insert extra days into the month, with no luck.

So we did what RVers are best at – we adapted to our reality. We’re not cut out for back-to-back driving days. We just can’t do it and balance life and launching a new book/service too.

We reassessed our reason for reaching Billings in two more day’s time, which was now a daunting 430 miles away.  Just when did our warranty expire? If I wanted to be somewhere pretty for my birthday, why not just arrive to Billings right after instead of rushing to get out of there before?

Our version of paradise this week!

Our version of paradise this week!

We checked in with our friends who we wanted to meet up with in Glacier next week, and they were relieved we would not be pushing to make it. They could detect our exhaustion from miles away, and made promise we could rendezvous down the road.

With a sigh of relief we cuddled up with the cat and got another hour or two of sleep… and then renewed our glorious perfect spot for 3 more nights.

Ever since, we’ve been working on getting an overdue update out to our Coverage? app and the manuscript to our book has arrived back from the editor (she gave us gold stars!). And we’ve been enjoying being still for a bit with opportunities to hike and play around with some of our new solar panels.

What’s Next: Rested up, we’ll head on to Theodore Roosevelt National Park today in hopes of snagging a spot for the weekend. We’ve got some of our sample solar panels hooked up to give us a little power while not plugged in. We look forward to actually having time to get out and explore while we continue on with getting the book published!  Our aim is to pull into Billings on Tuesday for the engine service. And we have no clue what our plans will be afterwards – all we know is… west!

]]>
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Cracking the Nut in the UP (Casino Camping!) http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/cracking-the-nut-in-the-up-casino-camping/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/cracking-the-nut-in-the-up-casino-camping/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 02:16:48 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15503 After our marathon writing in St. Ignace, we got a good night’s sleep and left to head northward to catch back up with our buddies Nikki & Jason. They had been exploring some of the UP on their own, and we had coordinated a couple of potential meet up spots depending upon when we got our writing done. Christmas in July We started heading the direction of their next stop in Munising while they checked out the camping options.  The 127 mile drive seemed long after we had gotten used to 40 mile drives over the past few weeks. The Wynn’s selected the Kedawin Casino in Christmas, MI to base camp out of, and we both scored FREE electric hook-up spots in their parking lot. Ironically, this was both of our first times casino camping. It was directly across the street from the Bay Furnace forest service campground that charges $16/night without hook-ups, which we kept as a stand by option or for moving over to the next day. Given the temperatures were peaking in the 80s, and we were completely spoiled with cooler temps so far – we all opted to tough out a tight parking lot in favor of free cool air. Besides, this was just to be a base camp – they had lots of hiking and exploration planned! The first night back together again, we packed up some backpacks and headed out hiking along the shores of Lake Superior. We checked out waterfalls , and then ended up scrimmaging along the shores for a delightful sunset over Grand Island. Nikki & Jason surprised us with some yummy Crispin Pear Cider (gluten free, of course) to toast the completion of our manuscript. And, they joined us for some toe dipping, to honor my father. Two years ago, Chris and I came this way as part of our Operation: Dip Toes – in which we brought him back water from all of the Michigan Great Lakes to dip his toes in. It’s so awesome to have had friends this time around to share this ritual with. The next day, Chris and I opted to stay at home and catch up on sleep and some other projects – while Nikki & Jason headed out for more adventures. We reconvened in the evening, and hit the casino to patronize our gracious host. We all played a few slots, attempting to at least pay for our camp spot – and instead came out with a couple extra bucks in our pockets. Ok, so this is how casino camping works. We can get used to that. Now they Pay Us to Camp?? Thinking this casino camping thing is a pretty cool way to free camp, we all opted to give Ojibwa Casino outside of Marquette, MI a shot. We were amazed when we pulled in to find spacious wooded sites with 50amp electricity. Surely this couldn’t be ‘free’ camping. We followed the instructions on our electric boxes, and headed to guest services to check in. Not only do they not charge to park here and use their campground – they PAID us to stay here! Each day you stay at this campground, each person gets $5 in cash, a drink coupon and $10 in match play coupons for the black jack tables.  All four of us agreed we’d stay here two nights together and check out this casino thing further. We hit the slots and black jack tables both nights, and each couple walked away with about $40 in our pockets (and a little tipsy from free drinks). We really really tried to pay for our camping. But alas, it was destined that they would pay us… our beginner’s luck lead to us all cracking the nut. (For those new to casino lingo.. that means we at least covered our gambling expenses and a little extra.) The campground was a great place to explore Marquette from as well. First we decided to go visit a sculpture thing along the road we all noticed on our drive in. Turns out, it’s Lakenenland Sculpture Park – a wonderful road side (and snow mobile side) free attraction. Beautifully done, with a walk and drive thru trail, with art sculptures all around. We had so much fun exploring it, and added it to our list of amazing ‘artist gone crazy‘ art installations we’ve explored over the years (including Salvation Mountain in Slab City, Cathedral of Junk in Austin, City Museum in St. Louis East Jesus in Slab City, and Magic Gardens in Philadelphia.) Nikki & Jason also invited us for an introduction to disc golf – a sport they both enjoy as a way to get exercise, be out in nature and explore a new town. It was way more fun than we ever thought, and we’ll be picking us up some discs to enjoy in our travels. We also hit the local Black Rack brewery, explored around town, hit up a gluten free taco truck and shopped at the food co-op (the first we’ve seen in a while!). What a charming area Marquette is, and we’d love to spend more time here. Water Views.. But alas it was time for our little caravan to part ways. The Wynn’s have an engagement down in Chicago, and we need to get our butts westward. We had a blast hanging out with these guys, and so glad it worked out to share our first casino camping experience with them. We have no doubt we’ll be seeing them many times in the future. Next up for us, we decided to head towards Baraga, MI to get a little more Lake Superior time. Originally we thought we’d snag a spot at either the state park or city park with water views.. but we decided to give this casino camping thing one more try. At the Ojibwa Baraga location, they charge $20/night for a spot (which included $10 in casino money and a free drink). And it’s not overly scenic or anything, and the slots weren’t so loose here. But, they have a different kind of water view that we’ve been craving.. And it was so so worth it to soak our aching bodies after so much intense research and writing. Up Next: After dilly-dallying around for a couple months in Northern Indiana and Michigan, it’s time for us to get west. Our goal is to arrive to Billings, MT by mid week, where our engine will get it’s annual inspection before the rebuild warranty expires. And then we’re eying Glacier National Park to meet back up with some other friends. We need to be at Cape Blanco Lighthouse in southern Oregon for our hosting duties on September 1 – and we have no clue how we’ll spend August getting there.  We do have tickets to Burning Man, but we’re honestly not sure the playa is calling us. Video Chat Announcement: Monday Night (Tonight!) Since we have so much free time on our hands (hah!), we decided to host a video chat.  Join us Monday evening (yes, that’s TONIGHT) at 8pm Central for: Topic: RVing as a Couple How do you live & travel in a small space with the one you love, and not only not kill each other – but keep the love alive? How to create space for each other, balance varying desires and pursing individual interests during your travels. Q&A to follow.. so bring your questions! As always, yes, it will be archived if you miss it to our Live Video Chat Center.]]>

After our marathon writing in St. Ignace, we got a good night’s sleep and left to head northward to catch back up with our buddies Nikki & Jason. They had been exploring some of the UP on their own, and we had coordinated a couple of potential meet up spots depending upon when we got our writing done.

Christmas in July

Processed with MoldivWe started heading the direction of their next stop in Munising while they checked out the camping options.  The 127 mile drive seemed long after we had gotten used to 40 mile drives over the past few weeks.

The Wynn’s selected the Kedawin Casino in Christmas, MI to base camp out of, and we both scored FREE electric hook-up spots in their parking lot.

Ironically, this was both of our first times casino camping. It was directly across the street from the Bay Furnace forest service campground that charges $16/night without hook-ups, which we kept as a stand by option or for moving over to the next day.

Our first time casino camping!

Our first time casino camping!

Given the temperatures were peaking in the 80s, and we were completely spoiled with cooler temps so far – we all opted to tough out a tight parking lot in favor of free cool air.

Besides, this was just to be a base camp – they had lots of hiking and exploration planned!

The first night back together again, we packed up some backpacks and headed out hiking along the shores of Lake Superior. We checked out waterfalls , and then ended up scrimmaging along the shores for a delightful sunset over Grand Island. Nikki & Jason surprised us with some yummy Crispin Pear Cider (gluten free, of course) to toast the completion of our manuscript.

Dipping our toes!

Dipping our toes!

And, they joined us for some toe dipping, to honor my father. Two years ago, Chris and I came this way as part of our Operation: Dip Toes – in which we brought him back water from all of the Michigan Great Lakes to dip his toes in. It’s so awesome to have had friends this time around to share this ritual with.

The next day, Chris and I opted to stay at home and catch up on sleep and some other projects – while Nikki & Jason headed out for more adventures. We reconvened in the evening, and hit the casino to patronize our gracious host.

We all played a few slots, attempting to at least pay for our camp spot – and instead came out with a couple extra bucks in our pockets.

Ok, so this is how casino camping works. We can get used to that.

Now they Pay Us to Camp??

Huge casino spots!

Huge casino spots!

Thinking this casino camping thing is a pretty cool way to free camp, we all opted to give Ojibwa Casino outside of Marquette, MI a shot. We were amazed when we pulled in to find spacious wooded sites with 50amp electricity. Surely this couldn’t be ‘free’ camping.

We followed the instructions on our electric boxes, and headed to guest services to check in.

They paid us to camp here!

They paid us to camp here!

Not only do they not charge to park here and use their campground – they PAID us to stay here!

Each day you stay at this campground, each person gets $5 in cash, a drink coupon and $10 in match play coupons for the black jack tables.  All four of us agreed we’d stay here two nights together and check out this casino thing further.

We hit the slots and black jack tables both nights, and each couple walked away with about $40 in our pockets (and a little tipsy from free drinks). We really really tried to pay for our camping. But alas, it was destined that they would pay us… our beginner’s luck lead to us all cracking the nut. (For those new to casino lingo.. that means we at least covered our gambling expenses and a little extra.)

The campground was a great place to explore Marquette from as well.

Processed with MoldivFirst we decided to go visit a sculpture thing along the road we all noticed on our drive in. Turns out, it’s Lakenenland Sculpture Park – a wonderful road side (and snow mobile side) free attraction.

Beautifully done, with a walk and drive thru trail, with art sculptures all around.

We had so much fun exploring it, and added it to our list of amazing ‘artist gone crazy‘ art installations we’ve explored over the years (including Salvation Mountain in Slab City, Cathedral of Junk in Austin, City Museum in St. Louis East Jesus in Slab City, and Magic Gardens in Philadelphia.)

Nikki & Jason also invited us for an introduction to disc golf – a sport they both enjoy as a way to get exercise, be out in nature and explore a new town. It was way more fun than we ever thought, and we’ll be picking us up some discs to enjoy in our travels.

We also hit the local Black Rack brewery, explored around town, hit up a gluten free taco truck and shopped at the food co-op (the first we’ve seen in a while!).

What a charming area Marquette is, and we’d love to spend more time here.

The old ore dock in Marquette Chris & Jason lugging beer home (anyone concerned these two dress alike now?) Disc golf!

Water Views..

But alas it was time for our little caravan to part ways. The Wynn’s have an engagement down in Chicago, and we need to get our butts westward. We had a blast hanging out with these guys, and so glad it worked out to share our first casino camping experience with them. We have no doubt we’ll be seeing them many times in the future.

Next up for us, we decided to head towards Baraga, MI to get a little more Lake Superior time. Originally we thought we’d snag a spot at either the state park or city park with water views.. but we decided to give this casino camping thing one more try.

At the Ojibwa Baraga location, they charge $20/night for a spot (which included $10 in casino money and a free drink). And it’s not overly scenic or anything, and the slots weren’t so loose here.

But, they have a different kind of water view that we’ve been craving..

Soaking, swimming and sauning! Ahhh...

Soaking, swimming and sauning! Ahhh…

And it was so so worth it to soak our aching bodies after so much intense research and writing.

Up Next: After dilly-dallying around for a couple months in Northern Indiana and Michigan, it’s time for us to get west. Our goal is to arrive to Billings, MT by mid week, where our engine will get it’s annual inspection before the rebuild warranty expires. And then we’re eying Glacier National Park to meet back up with some other friends. We need to be at Cape Blanco Lighthouse in southern Oregon for our hosting duties on September 1 – and we have no clue how we’ll spend August getting there.  We do have tickets to Burning Man, but we’re honestly not sure the playa is calling us.

Video Chat Announcement: Monday Night (Tonight!)

Since we have so much free time on our hands (hah!), we decided to host a video chat.  Join us Monday evening (yes, that’s TONIGHT) at 8pm Central for:

Topic: RVing as a Couple

How do you live & travel in a small space with the one you love, and not only not kill each other – but keep the love alive? How to create space for each other, balance varying desires and pursing individual interests during your travels. Q&A to follow.. so bring your questions!

Join the Video Chat

As always, yes, it will be archived if you miss it to our Live Video Chat Center.

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Trolls, Yoopers and Ducklings http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/welcome-to-the-up/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/welcome-to-the-up/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 05:36:16 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15456 Coming up the western coast of Michigan is Nikki & Jason of Gone with the Wynns.. and up the east coast, Chris & Cherie of Technomadia. Which dynamic RV blogging duo would cross the Mackinac Bridge first, leaving the trolls (what lower Michiganders are called) behind in the rear view camera and being welcomed by Yoopers (what Upper Peninsula Michiganders are called)? Place your bets folks! We awoke to a rainy morning at Cheboygan State Park but opted to make the crossing over the big bridge anyway. We had been invited to stop at Castle Rock Campark (our review) in St. Ignace by our bus nut friends Dave & Amy and John & Lois. Both couples were workamping at the park, and we hadn’t seen them in a couple years since attending previous bus conversion rallies together. The Wynn’s met us there for a re-uniting after having spent a week together in Goshen, IN almost a month ago. We arrived first, and were given our choice of a couple of sites next to each other. Site 44 just had our name written all over it – completely treed in and private. A perfect writing retreat to finish off the manuscript of The Mobile Internet Handbook. We were immediately impressed by the park – definitely not your standard commercial park. Most of the sites were private feeling with trees surrounding them, and the entire park very well maintained with beautiful views at every turn. And many site were right on Lake Huron with views of Mackinac Island. We were of course amused that the advertised WiFi was being served by a cheap Linksys router, hanging haphazardly underneath an outdoor roof and only serving one very small area of the campground. It wasn’t even reachable by our new NanoStation from our spot. We ended up staying five nights at the park.  Two nights with the Wynn’s before they departed to go explore more of the UP while we finished our book manuscript.  We also enjoy getting to know our bus nut friends better. The park is family and locally owned, and apparently the father had previously raised ducklings every year to become eventual hunting game. After his passing, the family wanted the duckling tradition continued – so one of John’s workamping tasks is being a duckling wrangler. He ordered ducklings to be delivered by mail and tends to them throughout the day. Word is, in a few weeks they’ll be set free into the campground’s duck pond… but no hunting will occur. We greatly appreciated the distraction between writing chapters to play with and feed the adorable ducklings. We had aimed to complete the book manuscript by Friday the 18th. And were on track to do so, after several days in a row of 18 hour days of shift rotations. We were settling in for our last overnight writing session, when we got a text message from our friends at Master Tech RV – the RV service center in Elkhart that invited us in to complete some overdue bus projects. They were passing through the area after having attended a rally in the UP, and wanted to stop in to see us! It was awesome to hang out with Tim & Austin for the evening, even if it did put us behind schedule on our self-imposed deadline. So, instead – we extended for another day, and spent all of Saturday finishing up the manuscript and delivering it to our editor on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, that mean missing an opportunity to meet up with the Mali Mish family as they were passing through St. Igance as well. Whew.. after a few weeks of no social interaction, it was tough to balance our need for seclusion to finish the book, with lots of opportunities to hang out with friends. We caught up on some sleep, fired up our Detroit Diesel 8V71, dumped the tanks and headed off for a long 120 mile trip to Munising, MI to catch back up with Nikki & Jason. And tales of our adventures together will continue in the next chapter.. Up Next:  Our time in Michigan is unfortunately soon coming to a close – we’re a bit reluctant about that. We’ve really and truly loved our time here. But it’s time to get our butts westward for lighthouse duties starting September 1 at Cape Blanco. Our next major stop over point will be Billings, MT for an annual inspection of our engine rebuild and we want to be there by the end of July. So a much quicker pace than our meandering slow roll of the past couple months. Here’s our Google suggested route…   We’d absolutely love any recommendations nearby the route – for things to see or places to stay.  This is a totally new area of the country for us to explore, even if we’ll attempt to cover it in less than a week. And definitely, if you’re along the route and would like to meet up or have bus parking for us…. please do let us know!]]>

Coming up the western coast of Michigan is Nikki & Jason of Gone with the Wynns.. and up the east coast, Chris & Cherie of Technomadia.

Yeah! The trolls collecting their toll!

Yeah! The trolls collecting their toll.

Which dynamic RV blogging duo would cross the Mackinac Bridge first, leaving the trolls (what lower Michiganders are called) behind in the rear view camera and being welcomed by Yoopers (what Upper Peninsula Michiganders are called)?

Place your bets folks!

We awoke to a rainy morning at Cheboygan State Park but opted to make the crossing over the big bridge anyway.

We had been invited to stop at Castle Rock Campark (our review) in St. Ignace by our bus nut friends Dave & Amy and John & Lois. Both couples were workamping at the park, and we hadn’t seen them in a couple years since attending previous bus conversion rallies together.

Gorgeous light. Gorgeous lighthouse. Gorgeous couple (Nikki & Jason).

Gorgeous light. Gorgeous lighthouse. Gorgeous couple. Nikki & Jason really are this lovely.

The Wynn’s met us there for a re-uniting after having spent a week together in Goshen, IN almost a month ago. We arrived first, and were given our choice of a couple of sites next to each other. Site 44 just had our name written all over it – completely treed in and private.

A perfect writing retreat to finish off the manuscript of The Mobile Internet Handbook.

We were immediately impressed by the park – definitely not your standard commercial park. Most of the sites were private feeling with trees surrounding them, and the entire park very well maintained with beautiful views at every turn.

And this is why you can't rely on free campground WiFi.

And this is why you can’t rely on free campground WiFi.

And many site were right on Lake Huron with views of Mackinac Island.

We were of course amused that the advertised WiFi was being served by a cheap Linksys router, hanging haphazardly underneath an outdoor roof and only serving one very small area of the campground. It wasn’t even reachable by our new NanoStation from our spot.

We ended up staying five nights at the park.  Two nights with the Wynn’s before they departed to go explore more of the UP while we finished our book manuscript.  We also enjoy getting to know our bus nut friends better.

Processed with Moldiv

The park is family and locally owned, and apparently the father had previously raised ducklings every year to become eventual hunting game. After his passing, the family wanted the duckling tradition continued – so one of John’s workamping tasks is being a duckling wrangler.

He ordered ducklings to be delivered by mail and tends to them throughout the day. Word is, in a few weeks they’ll be set free into the campground’s duck pond… but no hunting will occur.

We greatly appreciated the distraction between writing chapters to play with and feed the adorable ducklings.

Processed with MoldivWe had aimed to complete the book manuscript by Friday the 18th. And were on track to do so, after several days in a row of 18 hour days of shift rotations.

We were settling in for our last overnight writing session, when we got a text message from our friends at Master Tech RV – the RV service center in Elkhart that invited us in to complete some overdue bus projects.

They were passing through the area after having attended a rally in the UP, and wanted to stop in to see us!

It was awesome to hang out with Tim & Austin for the evening, even if it did put us behind schedule on our self-imposed deadline.

Lovely wood sites - the Master Tech RV 1974 Winnebago joining us!

Lovely wood sites – the Master Tech RV 1974 Winnebago joining us!

So, instead – we extended for another day, and spent all of Saturday finishing up the manuscript and delivering it to our editor on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, that mean missing an opportunity to meet up with the Mali Mish family as they were passing through St. Igance as well.

Whew.. after a few weeks of no social interaction, it was tough to balance our need for seclusion to finish the book, with lots of opportunities to hang out with friends.

We caught up on some sleep, fired up our Detroit Diesel 8V71, dumped the tanks and headed off for a long 120 mile trip to Munising, MI to catch back up with Nikki & Jason.

And tales of our adventures together will continue in the next chapter..

Up Next:  Our time in Michigan is unfortunately soon coming to a close – we’re a bit reluctant about that. We’ve really and truly loved our time here. But it’s time to get our butts westward for lighthouse duties starting September 1 at Cape Blanco. Our next major stop over point will be Billings, MT for an annual inspection of our engine rebuild and we want to be there by the end of July. So a much quicker pace than our meandering slow roll of the past couple months.

Here’s our Google suggested route…

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 12.47.39 AM

 

We’d absolutely love any recommendations nearby the route – for things to see or places to stay.  This is a totally new area of the country for us to explore, even if we’ll attempt to cover it in less than a week.

And definitely, if you’re along the route and would like to meet up or have bus parking for us…. please do let us know!

]]>
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Completing the Sunrise Coast: Roger’s City & Cheboygan, Michigan http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/completing-the-sunrise-coast-rogers-city-cheboygan-michigan/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/completing-the-sunrise-coast-rogers-city-cheboygan-michigan/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:55:19 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15415 After such a wonderful time in Alpena, we were a bit hesitant to move on up the coast – but adventures call. And it’s always better to leave a location wanting more than to leave it feeling like you’re ready to move on. Hoeft State Park – Roger’s City Our next stop would be Hoeft State Park (our review) just north of Roger’s City, Michigan. We had heard raving reviews of the campground and area, so were looking forward to it.  We booked online, using the park’s own descriptions and photos to select a site. We selected site 108 because it was described as secluded, level and large enough for a 40′ RV. The site was actually rather unlevel and our 35′ motorhome barely fit in…it was very oddly shaped. And it definitely wasn’t secluded. The front view is of the housing neighborhood across the road, and the site was clearly visible from the park roads and backed up to two other sites. When a family reunion moved in at the site next to us with constant commotion from early morning to late late night, we decided it was time to investigate other possible options. This just wasn’t going to be conducive to intense writing. We selected site 126 around the bend, that was against a line of trees – and the staff was super helpful in reassigning us.  It too was not overly level, but manageable (we only have wood blocks for leveling) – but would at least give us some peace and quiet.  We had almost no neighbors within site the entire time. Kiki loved it too. It was a much better solution to allow the family reunion the freedom to connect and make memories, and give us the solitude we needed. Our house has wheels – if we don’t like our neighborhood, move! We honestly didn’t do much while in the area but write, research and write some more. At this point in our trip, we were on a mission – get The Mobile Internet Handbook manuscript ready for editing! We did some hiking around the park, enjoyed strolling the beach and did find a gluten free bakery right across the street!  We only headed into Roger’s City once to stock up on groceries, but it seemed like a cute little town. Had we had more time, we probably would have rented some bikes and visited the lighthouse up the road. Overall, we weren’t overly impressed with the campground. There were very few sites that are our style – most were tightly packed in, unlevel and offered little distinction between them.  So we’re pretty pleased that we scored the site we did. It was perfect for our needs at the time. Cheboygan State Park – Cheboygan Our buddies the Wynn’s contacted us to let us know they were approaching the UP quicker than originally thought, so we decided to move on up the coast ourselves to Cheboygan to be closer by to rendezvous. While we were exploring the east coast along Lake Huron, they had been exploring the west coast along Lake Michigan (a route we had done before). Another long driving day of about 45 miles, and we arrived to Cheyboygan State Park (our review) and snagged a site for two nights. We hit the trails for a hike to go out and see the lighthouse off the coast – and finally discovered what all the fuss is about mosquitos being the state bird of Michigan.  Up until this point we had just encountered a few here and there. But wow, they were out in swarms on the trails. Instead of hiking back via the wooded trails, we opted to scrimmage through the marshlands with tadpoles nibbling on our toes. Our stay was short and enjoyable, we got some quality writing done – but we honestly could see little reason to return to this location in the future. Unless you really like mosquitos. Sunrise Coast Closing Thoughts We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Michigan’s Sunrise Coast, and are so happy we selected this routing to do most of our book research and writing. A perfect pace for us with short driving days and beautiful chill locations to explore. A quick recap: Tawas City, MI - we spent a week driveway surfing with friends and exploring this very cute town. Harrisville, MI - we camped at Harrisville State Park, which was just lovely with great sandy beaches. Alpena, MI – this town won our hearts with our beautiful water front spot at the fairgrounds with access to walking & kayaking. Roger’s City, MI – Hoeft State Park is not exactly our style, but the location is beautiful with sandy dunes beaches. Chebyogan, MI – just a quick stop for a couple night at this small state park campground. In total, just 140 miles covered over about 3 weeks. This is route is definitely worth a gander if you’re in search of an excellent place to slow down and keep cool during the summer. We wore sweaters most evenings, and even had to run the heater. A sure sign we’ve done better this year following the weather than we have in recent years. Compared with the Michigan west coast, we found it much less crowded and easier to get prime camping locations last minute. The beaches are gorgeous, and the towns super friendly. I wouldn’t be surprised if we returned to this area of the country in the future. Book Update! We’re pleased as punch to announce  that after several 18 hour days in a row we did finish the manuscript to the book on Sunday morning, and got it uploaded to our editor. She’s now busily editing away with intentions to get it back to us by the end of the month.  We’ll have some final touches to make once it’s back in our hands, and are aiming to get the PDF eBook ready for distribution in early August. We’ll then focus on getting it formatted for Kindle, iBooks and print! While she’s working on that, we shift focus to catching up on some other projects – including launching our new mobile internet resource center website! It’ll be a central place for RVers to get timely information about this complex and rapidly evolving subject! Up Next: We’re currently meandering around the UP of Michigan playing tag team with Nikki & Jason. We’ll part ways later this week as we head westward towards Oregon, and they southward to their next destination. Our routing is mostly unplanned except for a stop in Billings, MT to have our engine serviced before our rebuild warranty expires next month. We’re also aiming for West Glacier to meet up with some friends in early August.]]>

After such a wonderful time in Alpena, we were a bit hesitant to move on up the coast – but adventures call. And it’s always better to leave a location wanting more than to leave it feeling like you’re ready to move on.

Hoeft State Park – Roger’s City

This isn't our idea of 'secluded'

This isn’t our idea of ‘secluded’

Our next stop would be Hoeft State Park (our review) just north of Roger’s City, Michigan. We had heard raving reviews of the campground and area, so were looking forward to it.  We booked online, using the park’s own descriptions and photos to select a site.

We selected site 108 because it was described as secluded, level and large enough for a 40′ RV.

Ahhh...much better!

Ahhh…much better!

The site was actually rather unlevel and our 35′ motorhome barely fit in…it was very oddly shaped. And it definitely wasn’t secluded. The front view is of the housing neighborhood across the road, and the site was clearly visible from the park roads and backed up to two other sites.

When a family reunion moved in at the site next to us with constant commotion from early morning to late late night, we decided it was time to investigate other possible options. This just wasn’t going to be conducive to intense writing.

Even Kiki loved it!

Even Kiki loved it!

We selected site 126 around the bend, that was against a line of trees – and the staff was super helpful in reassigning us.  It too was not overly level, but manageable (we only have wood blocks for leveling) – but would at least give us some peace and quiet.  We had almost no neighbors within site the entire time. Kiki loved it too.

It was a much better solution to allow the family reunion the freedom to connect and make memories, and give us the solitude we needed. Our house has wheels – if we don’t like our neighborhood, move!

We honestly didn’t do much while in the area but write, research and write some more. At this point in our trip, we were on a mission – get The Mobile Internet Handbook manuscript ready for editing!

IMG_2817 IMG_2843 IMG_2826

We did some hiking around the park, enjoyed strolling the beach and did find a gluten free bakery right across the street!  We only headed into Roger’s City once to stock up on groceries, but it seemed like a cute little town. Had we had more time, we probably would have rented some bikes and visited the lighthouse up the road.

Overall, we weren’t overly impressed with the campground. There were very few sites that are our style – most were tightly packed in, unlevel and offered little distinction between them.  So we’re pretty pleased that we scored the site we did. It was perfect for our needs at the time.

Cheboygan State Park – Cheboygan

Our coastal hike.. great lighthouse view.

Our coastal hike.. great lighthouse view.

Our buddies the Wynn’s contacted us to let us know they were approaching the UP quicker than originally thought, so we decided to move on up the coast ourselves to Cheboygan to be closer by to rendezvous. While we were exploring the east coast along Lake Huron, they had been exploring the west coast along Lake Michigan (a route we had done before).

Another long driving day of about 45 miles, and we arrived to Cheyboygan State Park (our review) and snagged a site for two nights.

Avoiding the mosquitos and making our own trail!

Avoiding the mosquitos and making our own trail!

We hit the trails for a hike to go out and see the lighthouse off the coast – and finally discovered what all the fuss is about mosquitos being the state bird of Michigan.  Up until this point we had just encountered a few here and there. But wow, they were out in swarms on the trails.

Instead of hiking back via the wooded trails, we opted to scrimmage through the marshlands with tadpoles nibbling on our toes.

Our stay was short and enjoyable, we got some quality writing done – but we honestly could see little reason to return to this location in the future. Unless you really like mosquitos.

Sunrise Coast Closing Thoughts

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 5.25.05 PMWe thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Michigan’s Sunrise Coast, and are so happy we selected this routing to do most of our book research and writing. A perfect pace for us with short driving days and beautiful chill locations to explore.

A quick recap:

  • Tawas City, MI - we spent a week driveway surfing with friends and exploring this very cute town.
  • Harrisville, MI - we camped at Harrisville State Park, which was just lovely with great sandy beaches.
  • Alpena, MI – this town won our hearts with our beautiful water front spot at the fairgrounds with access to walking & kayaking.
  • Roger’s City, MI – Hoeft State Park is not exactly our style, but the location is beautiful with sandy dunes beaches.
  • Chebyogan, MI – just a quick stop for a couple night at this small state park campground.

In total, just 140 miles covered over about 3 weeks.

Beautiful frogs we found in Cheboygan

Beautiful frogs we found in Cheboygan

This is route is definitely worth a gander if you’re in search of an excellent place to slow down and keep cool during the summer. We wore sweaters most evenings, and even had to run the heater. A sure sign we’ve done better this year following the weather than we have in recent years.

Compared with the Michigan west coast, we found it much less crowded and easier to get prime camping locations last minute. The beaches are gorgeous, and the towns super friendly. I wouldn’t be surprised if we returned to this area of the country in the future.

Book Update!

coming-soon-TMIHWe’re pleased as punch to announce  that after several 18 hour days in a row we did finish the manuscript to the book on Sunday morning, and got it uploaded to our editor.

She’s now busily editing away with intentions to get it back to us by the end of the month.  We’ll have some final touches to make once it’s back in our hands, and are aiming to get the PDF eBook ready for distribution in early August. We’ll then focus on getting it formatted for Kindle, iBooks and print!

While she’s working on that, we shift focus to catching up on some other projects – including launching our new mobile internet resource center website! It’ll be a central place for RVers to get timely information about this complex and rapidly evolving subject!

Up Next: We’re currently meandering around the UP of Michigan playing tag team with Nikki & Jason. We’ll part ways later this week as we head westward towards Oregon, and they southward to their next destination. Our routing is mostly unplanned except for a stop in Billings, MT to have our engine serviced before our rebuild warranty expires next month. We’re also aiming for West Glacier to meet up with some friends in early August.

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Working 9 to 5 (So instead – Links to helpful posts!) http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/working-9-to-5/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/working-9-to-5/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 05:44:25 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15405 That’s 9a – 5a, by the way. We’re working around the clock, quite literally, on the re-write of The Mobile Internet Handbook. When we’re working on a project as intense as this together, we work in shifts. Cherie gets to work around 9am and works into the early afternoon. Chris gets up, and we get some time working together and comparing notes. We take a break late afternoon for walking, exploring, worshipping Kiki and eating. Then back to work late into the evening. Cherie goes to bed around 1 or 2am, and Chris finishes the shift coming to bed around 5am for a few precious hours of cuddles. It works really well for us – giving us time to super focus on our own, time to ourselves and time to coordinate.  We leave notes to each other in the project we’re working on, so we know where one left off – and to insure all our cloud syncing is working properly before the other picks up. We’ve been on this sort of schedule for weeks now. And we’re entering the final push to get the manuscript off to our editor – hopefully by this evening. (crossing fingers!) The book is coming along solid, and we’re super happy with what it has become. The 2013 edition? It’s absolutely laughable in comparison.. and we can’t wait to share with you the new edition! But it’s keeping us super busy, and I’m lacking time and spare creativity to write this week’s blog post. So instead, I’m going to point you to some super useful content we’ve written over the years – content we often get asked about. More About Us Our Start Here Page - The short story of who we are Our Full(er) Story – How we met, who we are, our various forms of travel thus far and how we earn our income as we roam. Our Home on Wheels - A tour of our current nomadic home – an awesome 1961 vintage bus. Also includes links to our bus project logs. Our Mobile Gear - A listing of some of the gear that enhances our mobility – from tech, to toys to practical household items. Our Monthly Cost Log –  We’ve shared our travel cost log online for years, and you’re welcome to view it. Life on the Road Curious about hitting the road yourself?  In addition to writing about our own travel adventures, we also share a lot of practical and ‘thinky’ content about how we’ve made it work: No Excuses: Go Nomadic This is our series of articles about the logistical aspects of living a nomadic life. We offer it as a free blog series, or as a convenient eBook  on a ‘pay as you wish’ basis for those who wish to contribute to the costs of maintaining this site and help keep us inspired to keep sharing.  Enjoy! Some of the topics in the series: Mobile Income Ideas Affording it Family Logistics – Domicile, Mail,Voting  Pets Healthcare & Health Getting rid of your stuff Ramblings: Tales from Nomads Our video interview series  - we love meeting up with our nomadic friends in our travels, so we decided to start filming interviews with them so you can meet them too. Our way is not the only way. We now have a collection of over 20 (!!) interviews produced, and try to release a new one monthly. Check this series out, there’s some serious inspiration here from a variety of folks living on the road and making it happen. Want to meet more fellow working on the road nomads? Here’s our extensive listing to blogs of Fellow ‘Younger’ RVing Nomads. In addition to the interview series, we’ve also been hosting monthly(ish) live video streams, and have them all archived here. RVing Stuff  Our articles specific to RVing, including: Reflections from Seven Years on the Road Food Restrictions and Full Time RVing Our 12 Favorite Campsites of 2013 Our iPhone & iPad App Essentials for RV Travel Case Studies of Full Time RVing Workspaces & Offices Gift Giving Guide for Full Time RVers Healthcare on the Road (Updated for the Affordable Care Act!) Tips and Tricks for a Versatile RVing Wardrobe Our 10 Most Surprising Things about Full Time RVing Our House is in the Shop (when your RV breaks down) Realities of Living & Traveling in a RV Full Time (video) Setting up our Domicile in Florida (Why, how and how much) Full Timers Perspective on Fuel Costs Given the number of questions we get on a wide variety of topics we’ve written about before, I’m hoping some of this is useful reminders. Ok back to writing.. or cat worshipping.. or something.  What time is it? What day is it? We’re excited to get to the next phase, take a bit of a breather and then get the eBook into your hands in early August!]]>

That’s 9a – 5a, by the way.

We’re working around the clock, quite literally, on the re-write of The Mobile Internet Handbook.

Glimpse at our notes to each other as we switch shifts!

Glimpse at our notes to each other as we switch shifts!

When we’re working on a project as intense as this together, we work in shifts.

Cherie gets to work around 9am and works into the early afternoon. Chris gets up, and we get some time working together and comparing notes. We take a break late afternoon for walking, exploring, worshipping Kiki and eating. Then back to work late into the evening. Cherie goes to bed around 1 or 2am, and Chris finishes the shift coming to bed around 5am for a few precious hours of cuddles.

It works really well for us – giving us time to super focus on our own, time to ourselves and time to coordinate.  We leave notes to each other in the project we’re working on, so we know where one left off – and to insure all our cloud syncing is working properly before the other picks up.

We’ve been on this sort of schedule for weeks now. And we’re entering the final push to get the manuscript off to our editor – hopefully by this evening. (crossing fingers!)

The book is coming along solid, and we’re super happy with what it has become. The 2013 edition? It’s absolutely laughable in comparison.. and we can’t wait to share with you the new edition!

But it’s keeping us super busy, and I’m lacking time and spare creativity to write this week’s blog post.

So instead, I’m going to point you to some super useful content we’ve written over the years – content we often get asked about.

More About Us

  • Our Start Here Page - The short story of who we are
  • Our Full(er) Story – How we met, who we are, our various forms of travel thus far and how we earn our income as we roam.
  • Our Home on Wheels - A tour of our current nomadic home – an awesome 1961 vintage bus. Also includes links to our bus project logs.
  • Our Mobile Gear - A listing of some of the gear that enhances our mobility – from tech, to toys to practical household items.
  • Our Monthly Cost Log –  We’ve shared our travel cost log online for years, and you’re welcome to view it.

Life on the Road

Curious about hitting the road yourself?  In addition to writing about our own travel adventures, we also share a lot of practical and ‘thinky’ content about how we’ve made it work:

eBookNo Excuses: Go Nomadic

This is our series of articles about the logistical aspects of living a nomadic life. We offer it as a free blog series, or as a convenient eBook  on a ‘pay as you wish’ basis for those who wish to contribute to the costs of maintaining this site and help keep us inspired to keep sharing.  Enjoy!

Some of the topics in the series:

Ramblings: Tales from Nomads

Our video interview series  - we love meeting up with our nomadic friends in our travels, so we decided to start filming interviews with them so you can meet them too. Our way is not the only way.

We now have a collection of over 20 (!!) interviews produced, and try to release a new one monthly. Check this series out, there’s some serious inspiration here from a variety of folks living on the road and making it happen.

Want to meet more fellow working on the road nomads? Here’s our extensive listing to blogs of Fellow ‘Younger’ RVing Nomads.

In addition to the interview series, we’ve also been hosting monthly(ish) live video streams, and have them all archived here.

RVing Stuff 

Our articles specific to RVing, including:

Given the number of questions we get on a wide variety of topics we’ve written about before, I’m hoping some of this is useful reminders.

Ok back to writing.. or cat worshipping.. or something.  What time is it? What day is it?

We’re excited to get to the next phase, take a bit of a breather and then get the eBook into your hands in early August!

]]>
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The Sunrise Coast: Alpena, Michigan http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/the-sunrise-coast-alpena-michigan/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/the-sunrise-coast-alpena-michigan/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:14:38 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15379 One of the challenges of life on the road is finding a somewhat peaceful spot over holidays. Popular camping locations are usually booked up far in advance, which is fine by us – we generally prefer avoiding crowded campgrounds and parties. We looked ahead on Highway 23, did some research into campgrounds around – and found some tempting reviews for the Alpena County Fairgrounds. Fairgrounds are usually a solid barebones option for staying in cities, but descriptions of this one included ‘waterfront’.  Hey, we’re down for that! We called ahead, and were delighted to book a waterfront site for a week over the 4th of July weekend.. for just $110. Looking at the campground map online and the satellite view on Google Maps, it seemed like even if the entire campground got booked up, it shouldn’t feel too crowded. And that set our pace for leaving Harrisville State Park, and continuing our northward trek up the sunrise coast. We pulled in on the 1st to discover our reservation had been lost, but no worries – plenty of availability. We were given our choice of several spots open for the week.  None of which were particularly level. Oh darn – the only way we could get level was by parking parallel to the shoreline of the Thunder Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.. giving us amazing office views.   We’d have to endure the amazing sounds of beautiful swans landing on the water in front of us for an entire week. Oh, the horrors. For our first couple of days, we had the place pretty much to ourselves – so tranquil and lovely. And amazing sunsets over the sanctuary every night. The Alpena Bi-Path also ran right in front of us, giving us access to the entire city by foot. This was perfect for quick exercise breaks – we could stroll over and wander around the cemetery or trails on some of the nearby islands.  It also really made us wish we had bikes onboard, we really need to put some focus on finding ideal folding bikes for our bays. And just as soon as I mentioned to Chris that this place could only get better if there was a kayak launch… we found one right at the base of the hill of the campground. Giving us easy access to explore the kayak trails through the sanctuary. One afternoon we were strolling around the cute Alpena downtown while our laundry was tumbling at the laundromat, and had a couple come up to us and ask ‘Do you own a motorhome by chance?‘ Turns out Mark and Linda are gearing up to hit the road and have read the blog as part of their research.  Funny, I had actually seen them checked into RVillage, and was about to poke them. Serendipity was clearly intent on us meeting, and we enjoyed getting together with them for lunch. Come the 3rd, we had two ‘parties’ surround our encampment at the fairgrounds. But with our positioning, we kept our unobstructed view. We were rewarded that evening with a lovely sunset that transformed into a stunning double rainbow! See.. the rainbow shot for our Life Liberty & Free WiFi post wasn’t staged or Photoshopped! Simple natural perfection. And our neighbors were actually quite nice folks – we got invited to join in both of their festivities, which was awfully kind. The fairgrounds is also the assembling grounds of the 4th of July parade, so we were already positioned at the start. The town makes an event of the day, starting with the parade, then cardboard boat races, free music concert downtown and then followed with fireworks over Lake Huron. Such fun to be part of a small town celebration! Come Sunday, all our neighbors had left – leaving us back to finish out our week in blissful tranquility. Alpena was our perfect place to ride out the chaos of the 4th, and what a delightful little town. Just big enough to have fun stuff, but small enough to feel quaint. We didn’t get a chance to explore nearly enough of it, including taking a boat tour of the shipwrecks in the area – which just means, we’ll have to visit again in the future! Of course, our time has not been consumed with just kayaking, walking and celebrating the 4th – we’re super busy finishing up ‘The Mobile Internet Handbook’. We’ve worked around the clock adding content, polishing our research and lining up professional illustrations. We hope to integrate in Jack Mayer’s contributions and finish the manuscript to send off to the editor by the end of this week. Whew. Writing a book is a lot of work! What’s Next: We just wrapped up a stay at PF Hoeft State Park in Rogers City, and arrived to Cheboygan.  Our plans from here get a bit murky, and we’ll be playing it a day at a time as we balance the writing and a hopeful rendezvous with our friends Nikki & Jason to explore some of the UP together.  We’re super looking forward to celebrating getting the manuscript completed and catching up on some other projects too.]]>

One of the challenges of life on the road is finding a somewhat peaceful spot over holidays. Popular camping locations are usually booked up far in advance, which is fine by us – we generally prefer avoiding crowded campgrounds and parties.

We looked ahead on Highway 23, did some research into campgrounds around – and found some tempting reviews for the Alpena County Fairgrounds. Fairgrounds are usually a solid barebones option for staying in cities, but descriptions of this one included ‘waterfront’.  Hey, we’re down for that!

We called ahead, and were delighted to book a waterfront site for a week over the 4th of July weekend.. for just $110. Looking at the campground map online and the satellite view on Google Maps, it seemed like even if the entire campground got booked up, it shouldn’t feel too crowded.

And that set our pace for leaving Harrisville State Park, and continuing our northward trek up the sunrise coast.

We pulled in on the 1st to discover our reservation had been lost, but no worries – plenty of availability. We were given our choice of several spots open for the week.  None of which were particularly level.

Oh darn – the only way we could get level was by parking parallel to the shoreline of the Thunder Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.. giving us amazing office views.

Our waterfront spot at the Alpena Fairgrounds. Yeah, this isn't going to suck.

Our waterfront spot at the Alpena Fairgrounds. Yeah, this isn’t going to suck.

 

Did you know a swan landing sounds kinda like a clydesdale galloping?

Did you know a swan landing sounds kinda like a Clydesdale galloping?

We’d have to endure the amazing sounds of beautiful swans landing on the water in front of us for an entire week. Oh, the horrors.

For our first couple of days, we had the place pretty much to ourselves – so tranquil and lovely. And amazing sunsets over the sanctuary every night.

The Alpena Bi-Path also ran right in front of us, giving us access to the entire city by foot. This was perfect for quick exercise breaks – we could stroll over and wander around the cemetery or trails on some of the nearby islands.  It also really made us wish we had bikes onboard, we really need to put some focus on finding ideal folding bikes for our bays.

Ask.. and ye shall receive.

Ask.. and ye shall receive.

And just as soon as I mentioned to Chris that this place could only get better if there was a kayak launch… we found one right at the base of the hill of the campground. Giving us easy access to explore the kayak trails through the sanctuary.

One afternoon we were strolling around the cute Alpena downtown while our laundry was tumbling at the laundromat, and had a couple come up to us and ask ‘Do you own a motorhome by chance?

Why yes, Mark & Linda, we do own a motorhome!

Why yes, Mark & Linda, we do own a motorhome!

Turns out Mark and Linda are gearing up to hit the road and have read the blog as part of their research.  Funny, I had actually seen them checked into RVillage, and was about to poke them. Serendipity was clearly intent on us meeting, and we enjoyed getting together with them for lunch.

Come the 3rd, we had two ‘parties’ surround our encampment at the fairgrounds. But with our positioning, we kept our unobstructed view.

What does it mean?!?  (does that ever get old?) Notice the campground filling up around us.

What does it mean?!?
Notice the campground filling up around us.

We were rewarded that evening with a lovely sunset that transformed into a stunning double rainbow! See.. the rainbow shot for our Life Liberty & Free WiFi post wasn’t staged or Photoshopped! Simple natural perfection.

And our neighbors were actually quite nice folks – we got invited to join in both of their festivities, which was awfully kind.

At the start of the parade route!

At the start of the parade route!

The fairgrounds is also the assembling grounds of the 4th of July parade, so we were already positioned at the start. The town makes an event of the day, starting with the parade, then cardboard boat races, free music concert downtown and then followed with fireworks over Lake Huron. Such fun to be part of a small town celebration!

Come Sunday, all our neighbors had left – leaving us back to finish out our week in blissful tranquility.

A little exploring in downtown Alpena - the entrance to the harbor.

A little exploring in downtown Alpena – the entrance to the harbor.

Alpena was our perfect place to ride out the chaos of the 4th, and what a delightful little town. Just big enough to have fun stuff, but small enough to feel quaint.

We didn’t get a chance to explore nearly enough of it, including taking a boat tour of the shipwrecks in the area – which just means, we’ll have to visit again in the future!

Of course, our time has not been consumed with just kayaking, walking and celebrating the 4th – we’re super busy finishing up ‘The Mobile Internet Handbook’. We’ve worked around the clock adding content, polishing our research and lining up professional illustrations. We hope to integrate in Jack Mayer’s contributions and finish the manuscript to send off to the editor by the end of this week.

Whew. Writing a book is a lot of work!

Our spot at Alpena County Fairgrounds Kayak Sunset. Kayaking Thunder Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Sunset on the sunrise coast.

What’s Next: We just wrapped up a stay at PF Hoeft State Park in Rogers City, and arrived to Cheboygan.  Our plans from here get a bit murky, and we’ll be playing it a day at a time as we balance the writing and a hopeful rendezvous with our friends Nikki & Jason to explore some of the UP together.  We’re super looking forward to celebrating getting the manuscript completed and catching up on some other projects too.

]]>
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Tried & True RVing Travel Gear We Love http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/tried-true-rving-travel-gear-we-love/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/tried-true-rving-travel-gear-we-love/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 02:01:36 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15330 Have we mentioned that we use a lot of technology to enable our travels, and that we love gizmos? We try a lot of stuff. Some of it gets repurposed pretty quickly, but some things have stuck around. Here’s some of the stuff that has made the cut to continue traveling with us: Our Mobile Printer of Choice We don’t print much, but sometimes we just need to. We picked up the Canon PIXMA iP100 Mobile Photo Printer several years ago (before they were WiFi enabled), and are always amazed with the quality of print for such a small printer measuring 12.7 x 2.4 x 7.2 inches and weighing just under 4.5 pounds. And the ink cartridges are actually quite reasonable – we generally pick up a package of two black and 1 color for just over $30… and that lasts us a year or more. The printer sits underneath our desk, and we just pull it out when we have a quick photo or document to print using a USB cable (the current model is WiFi enabled.) For any serious printing needs, we either send our photos off to a print lab like Walgreens to pick up, or use an office store like FedEx Office or Office Depot. It’s traveled over 30,000 miles with us since probably 2010, has held up very well. It’s earned a rightful place in our travel tech arsenal.  iPad Mini Keyboard This past spring, when we were hanging out with the Geeks on Tour, Chris whipped out her iPad Mini attached to this fabulous little bluetooth keyboard. I was in instant lust. One of my only frustrations with the iPad Mini is typing on the darn onscreen keyboard. Sure, in a pinch I can do it, but I always ending up cursing. This keyboard from Logitech is perfection for me.  It magnetically attaches to the iPad, just like the SmartCover does, is super slim & light, holds the iPad upright to have it function like a mini-computer and when closed, acts as a lid for the tablet. After having traveled with it for a couple of months now.. I give it my thumbs up. Not Your Grandpa’s Camping Lantern One day I had a vision – I wanted a lighting source for picnic tables. But I didn’t want something with harsh light, more of a glow. And I wanted something stylish, battery operated and efficient.  Because what we do – we don’t consider camping. We’re living. So I did a quick search on Amazon for LED Camping Lanterns, and this baby showed up at the top of the list. It’s dimmable, it’s usable either sitting on a table or hanging from a tree. It’s rechargeable by a USB cable. And it doesn’t look like traditional camping gear. We’ve found so many uses for this – sticking in a RV bay we’re working in as a work light, dining under the stars, taking a walk around the campground at night and using for ambient light while socializing outdoors. And recently at a rally we attended, we got to use it as an emergency signal to help direct the first responders to our neighbor’s RV after calling 911. The fireman actually came up to me afterwards to see just what created such a bright light that helped him navigate to our site through 600 RVs closely parked to each other. Yup, this lantern has earned its keep. We’ve had it since the beginning of the year and love it. Only thing we’d change is a better handle on the bottom – it’s a flimsy plastic hanger that can easily break. Fitbit One We’re geeks, it’s so easy to get super focused on what we’re doing and forget to get our butts out there moving a bit. But make it a game by invoking technology that tells us what to do? That’s the ticket! We’ve both now worn Fitbits every day since January 1, 2013. It’s a fancy electronic pedometer that tracks how many steps we’ve taken, syncs to our iPhones and to the web, where we can ‘compete’ with other friends. We have several nomadic friends who also wear them, and it’s been a super fun and healthy way to keep in touch! It’s not uncommon to catch us speed walking a campground at 11:45pm to get the last of our steps in for the day (we aim for at least 10,000 a day). We look forward to the evolutions coming in personal fitness tracking, but for now – our Fitbits are our mistress. (Shhhh.. don’t tell the cat!) Inflatable Kayak Before I joined Chris on the road, I had an awesome Ocean Kayak that I used regularly. I’ve craved having a kayak along for our RVing adventures for years, but we never had room for one.  And we don’t find places to kayak often enough to merit lugging one around on top of our Mini Cooper. An inflatable kayak has been the perfect solution for us. 18 months ago while in Cedar Key, we had Amazon deliver a Sea Eagle 370 right to our campsite after reviews from fellow RVers. And we couldn’t be happier. It’s super easy to set up and roll back into its bag, comfortably seats the two of us and fits nicely in our bay. So when we find a place to kayak we can take advantage of the opportunity. Is it as good as my old hard sided kayak? No. Not by a long shot. But it gets us out on the water with a minimum of fuss and is a great balance between functionality and space. Thus far we have punctured it once, on the evil oyster beds in Cedar Key. We followed the directions to install a patch, and it’s held up wonderfully for well over a year now. Cork Pops It’s been nearly 3 years since our friends Ben & Karen gifted us a Cork Pops, and we simply love it. We’ve bought dozens of these to gift to friends in our travels. It’s the most efficient and fun way to open a bottle of wine. Simply use the integrated foil cutter, stab the cork with the needle and press the button. A bit of compressed gas explodes the cork and it pops right out. It’s well known that we’re fans of boxed wine, but this gizmo motivates us to keep glass bottles on board too – which ups our variety and quality of vino. It’s also a great compliment to the local wine we pick up in our travels at vineyards we stay at as part of our Harvest Hosts membership. Tip: Do NOT use this on a bottle of wine marketed as using ‘eco glass’. Ahem.. sorry again Nina & Paul. Thank goodness their carpets are red wine colored anyway. These are just some of the gadgets we find useful for a mobile lifestyle. We have lots more listed on our Travel Gear Page. Go check it out, we keep it updated as we bring new stuff into the bus. And of course, all the links above use our Amazon Affiliate Code - we just love it when you start your shopping session off by using our link. You pay the same price, and we get a small cut. It really helps us cover some of the expenses of running this website and keeping the wine cabinet stocked! Thank you!]]>

Have we mentioned that we use a lot of technology to enable our travels, and that we love gizmos?

We try a lot of stuff. Some of it gets repurposed pretty quickly, but some things have stuck around.

Here’s some of the stuff that has made the cut to continue traveling with us:

Our Mobile Printer of Choice

Our Canon printer pulled out to print. It usually stows underneath the desk.

Our Canon printer pulled out to print. It usually stows underneath the desk.

We don’t print much, but sometimes we just need to. We picked up the Canon PIXMA iP100 Mobile Photo Printer several years ago (before they were WiFi enabled), and are always amazed with the quality of print for such a small printer measuring 12.7 x 2.4 x 7.2 inches and weighing just under 4.5 pounds.

And the ink cartridges are actually quite reasonable – we generally pick up a package of two black and 1 color for just over $30… and that lasts us a year or more.

The printer sits underneath our desk, and we just pull it out when we have a quick photo or document to print using a USB cable (the current model is WiFi enabled.) For any serious printing needs, we either send our photos off to a print lab like Walgreens to pick up, or use an office store like FedEx Office or Office Depot.

It’s traveled over 30,000 miles with us since probably 2010, has held up very well. It’s earned a rightful place in our travel tech arsenal.

 iPad Mini Keyboard

My awesome iPad Mini keyboard.

My awesome iPad Mini keyboard.

This past spring, when we were hanging out with the Geeks on Tour, Chris whipped out her iPad Mini attached to this fabulous little bluetooth keyboard. I was in instant lust.

One of my only frustrations with the iPad Mini is typing on the darn onscreen keyboard. Sure, in a pinch I can do it, but I always ending up cursing.

This keyboard from Logitech is perfection for me.  It magnetically attaches to the iPad, just like the SmartCover does, is super slim & light, holds the iPad upright to have it function like a mini-computer and when closed, acts as a lid for the tablet.

After having traveled with it for a couple of months now.. I give it my thumbs up.

Not Your Grandpa’s Camping Lantern

One day I had a vision – I wanted a lighting source for picnic tables. But I didn’t want something with harsh light, more of a glow. And I wanted something stylish, battery operated and efficient.  Because what we do – we don’t consider camping. We’re living.

IMG_2811So I did a quick search on Amazon for LED Camping Lanterns, and this baby showed up at the top of the list. It’s dimmable, it’s usable either sitting on a table or hanging from a tree. It’s rechargeable by a USB cable. And it doesn’t look like traditional camping gear.

We’ve found so many uses for this – sticking in a RV bay we’re working in as a work light, dining under the stars, taking a walk around the campground at night and using for ambient light while socializing outdoors.

And recently at a rally we attended, we got to use it as an emergency signal to help direct the first responders to our neighbor’s RV after calling 911. The fireman actually came up to me afterwards to see just what created such a bright light that helped him navigate to our site through 600 RVs closely parked to each other.

Yup, this lantern has earned its keep. We’ve had it since the beginning of the year and love it. Only thing we’d change is a better handle on the bottom – it’s a flimsy plastic hanger that can easily break.

Fitbit One

We are so totally rocking the steps lately!

We are so totally rocking the steps lately!

We’re geeks, it’s so easy to get super focused on what we’re doing and forget to get our butts out there moving a bit. But make it a game by invoking technology that tells us what to do? That’s the ticket!

We’ve both now worn Fitbits every day since January 1, 2013. It’s a fancy electronic pedometer that tracks how many steps we’ve taken, syncs to our iPhones and to the web, where we can ‘compete’ with other friends.

We have several nomadic friends who also wear them, and it’s been a super fun and healthy way to keep in touch! It’s not uncommon to catch us speed walking a campground at 11:45pm to get the last of our steps in for the day (we aim for at least 10,000 a day).

We look forward to the evolutions coming in personal fitness tracking, but for now – our Fitbits are our mistress. (Shhhh.. don’t tell the cat!)

Inflatable Kayak

The kayak rolled up.

The kayak rolled up.

Before I joined Chris on the road, I had an awesome Ocean Kayak that I used regularly. I’ve craved having a kayak along for our RVing adventures for years, but we never had room for one.  And we don’t find places to kayak often enough to merit lugging one around on top of our Mini Cooper.

An inflatable kayak has been the perfect solution for us. 18 months ago while in Cedar Key, we had Amazon deliver a Sea Eagle 370 right to our campsite after reviews from fellow RVers. And we couldn’t be happier.

It’s super easy to set up and roll back into its bag, comfortably seats the two of us and fits nicely in our bay. So when we find a place to kayak we can take advantage of the opportunity.

The bag is large enough to hold the kayak and both the seats.

The bag is large enough to hold the kayak and both the seats.

Is it as good as my old hard sided kayak? No. Not by a long shot. But it gets us out on the water with a minimum of fuss and is a great balance between functionality and space.

Thus far we have punctured it once, on the evil oyster beds in Cedar Key. We followed the directions to install a patch, and it’s held up wonderfully for well over a year now.

Cork Pops

This bottle opened in under 30 seconds!

This bottle opened in under 30 seconds!

It’s been nearly 3 years since our friends Ben & Karen gifted us a Cork Pops, and we simply love it. We’ve bought dozens of these to gift to friends in our travels. It’s the most efficient and fun way to open a bottle of wine.

Simply use the integrated foil cutter, stab the cork with the needle and press the button. A bit of compressed gas explodes the cork and it pops right out.

It’s well known that we’re fans of boxed wine, but this gizmo motivates us to keep glass bottles on board too – which ups our variety and quality of vino. It’s also a great compliment to the local wine we pick up in our travels at vineyards we stay at as part of our Harvest Hosts membership.

Tip: Do NOT use this on a bottle of wine marketed as using ‘eco glass’. Ahem.. sorry again Nina & Paul. Thank goodness their carpets are red wine colored anyway. :)

These are just some of the gadgets we find useful for a mobile lifestyle. We have lots more listed on our Travel Gear Page. Go check it out, we keep it updated as we bring new stuff into the bus.

And of course, all the links above use our Amazon Affiliate Code - we just love it when you start your shopping session off by using our link. You pay the same price, and we get a small cut. It really helps us cover some of the expenses of running this website and keeping the wine cabinet stocked! Thank you!

]]>
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The Sunrise Coast: Harrisville, Michigan http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/the-sunrise-coast-harrisville-mi/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/the-sunrise-coast-harrisville-mi/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:36:23 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15306 After all of our packages arrived to Tawas, we were ready to start our northward trek up the Sunrise Coast to our next stop – Harrisville State Park (our review). We were surprised to even snag a site over a weekend at a state park, and by looking at pictures online on the Michigan State Park reservation system – it looked like we might have scored a great wooded site too. Turns out, we were right!  Our site, spot 29, was huge and tucked into a back corner and surrounded by trees. It offered a lot of privacy, and even had direct access to the walking path into town. Perfection. But our first love with the park started at the dump station.  It’s not often we remark on a dump station. Michigan state parks are all electric sites with no water or sewer, and so far, we’ve noticed all the parks offer very convenient dump stations with fresh water fills. We’ve made a habit of dumping our tanks upon arrival, and filling up the water before settling into our site. At this park however, they have courtesy dump hoses!  At first, you just want to go ‘ewwwwwww.. who’s used this before?’ But it didn’t take long to come around to just how darn convenient this is, and who really cares about who used it before – poop is poop, and it’s going out your tanks, not in. (And you wear gloves anyway, right?) Instead of fiddling with getting our hoses out, and then putting them away wet – we just hook theirs up and release.  So time-saving, especially if you have folks waiting in line behind you. Unfortunately, when we dumped on the way out – both of the attachment pieces of the hoses hadn’t survived the weekend.  So maybe this system has a major flaw in it after all. Our love with the park continued, especially once we took our first walk on the sandy beaches. We had expected that the east coast of Michigan was mostly rocky beaches – and so far, we’ve not found that true. Harrisville has marvelous sandy beaches, and we made a habit of walking this one a couple of times a day at least.  A great diversion. They even have campsites right on the beach.. absolutely lovely!  We weren’t fortunate enough to score one of those, so we rejoiced in the solitude of the site we did end up with. The park also has about a mile walking path into the adorable little town of Harrisville, which is just large enough to sport a small IGA grocery store, a couple of cafes, laundromat and 3 hair salons. Just enough to cover the essentials. Aside from several walks a day on the trails, beach and into town – mostly we wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.  We’re super focused on the re-write of ‘The Mobile Internet Handbook‘.  We’re writing & research fiends. What’s Next?  We’re now in Alpena, MI – where we just rode out the holiday weekend in a lovely place (we’ll update on that soon!). This morning we’ll be heading northward about 40 miles to P F Hoeft State Park, just outside Rogers City – our next top on the Sunrise Coast trail up highway 23.  These long driving days are killer!  We intend to get the first draft of the book done by the end of this week, spend a week doing several editing passes … and then it’s off to our editor. Whew, lots of work ahead of us!]]>

After all of our packages arrived to Tawas, we were ready to start our northward trek up the Sunrise Coast to our next stop – Harrisville State Park (our review).

We were surprised to even snag a site over a weekend at a state park, and by looking at pictures online on the Michigan State Park reservation system – it looked like we might have scored a great wooded site too.

Our wonderfully secluded spot at Harrisville SP.

Our wonderfully secluded spot at Harrisville SP.

Turns out, we were right!  Our site, spot 29, was huge and tucked into a back corner and surrounded by trees. It offered a lot of privacy, and even had direct access to the walking path into town. Perfection.

But our first love with the park started at the dump station.  It’s not often we remark on a dump station.

Michigan state parks are all electric sites with no water or sewer, and so far, we’ve noticed all the parks offer very convenient dump stations with fresh water fills. We’ve made a habit of dumping our tanks upon arrival, and filling up the water before settling into our site.

Hoses!!  Dump Hoses! Rejoice!

It’s the little things that make RVers happy!! Dump Hoses! Rejoice!

At this park however, they have courtesy dump hoses!  At first, you just want to go ‘ewwwwwww.. who’s used this before?’

But it didn’t take long to come around to just how darn convenient this is, and who really cares about who used it before – poop is poop, and it’s going out your tanks, not in. (And you wear gloves anyway, right?)

Instead of fiddling with getting our hoses out, and then putting them away wet – we just hook theirs up and release.  So time-saving, especially if you have folks waiting in line behind you.

Beautiful sandy beaches (and yes.. we did go swimming!)

Beautiful sandy beaches (and yes.. we did go swimming – refreshing!!)

Unfortunately, when we dumped on the way out – both of the attachment pieces of the hoses hadn’t survived the weekend.  So maybe this system has a major flaw in it after all.

Our love with the park continued, especially once we took our first walk on the sandy beaches.

We had expected that the east coast of Michigan was mostly rocky beaches – and so far, we’ve not found that true. Harrisville has marvelous sandy beaches, and we made a habit of walking this one a couple of times a day at least.  A great diversion.

Beachfront camping!!

Beachfront camping!!

They even have campsites right on the beach.. absolutely lovely!  We weren’t fortunate enough to score one of those, so we rejoiced in the solitude of the site we did end up with.

The park also has about a mile walking path into the adorable little town of Harrisville, which is just large enough to sport a small IGA grocery store, a couple of cafes, laundromat and 3 hair salons.

Just enough to cover the essentials.

IMG_2552 IMG_6216 IMG_2564 IMG_2555

Aside from several walks a day on the trails, beach and into town – mostly we wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.  We’re super focused on the re-write of ‘The Mobile Internet Handbook‘.  We’re writing & research fiends.

What’s Next?  We’re now in Alpena, MI – where we just rode out the holiday weekend in a lovely place (we’ll update on that soon!). This morning we’ll be heading northward about 40 miles to P F Hoeft State Park, just outside Rogers City – our next top on the Sunrise Coast trail up highway 23.  These long driving days are killer!  We intend to get the first draft of the book done by the end of this week, spend a week doing several editing passes … and then it’s off to our editor. Whew, lots of work ahead of us!

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Distant WiFi: FlagPole Buddy & Ubiquiti NanoStation http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/flagpole-buddy-nanostation/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/flagpole-buddy-nanostation/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:35:53 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15252 When it comes to getting online, very often nothing beats a little altitude. We’ve long loved the WiFiRanger Sky on the roof of our bus – it has worked wonders in many campgrounds allowing us to surf away happily via WiFi at distances substantially further than we could ever reach without it. But if a big Prevost or boxy toy-hauler pulls into a site between us and the campground hotspot, we’ve more than once had our great signal completely obstructed and obliterated to nothing. If only we could hoist an antenna another 6 or so feet into the air, getting the WiFi receiver up and over all the other rigs and obstructions nearby… While researching the new edition of The Mobile Internet Handbook, I set out to find an easy and elegant way to be able to accomplish this. The solution I’ve grown very impressed with. The FlagPole Buddy I reached out to Christine & Dave at FlagPole Buddy, and they sent us a 12′ Pole & Mount Kit to experiment with. The FlagPole Buddy mount design is simple and elegant – just attach the mounts to any flat surface or clamp to an RV’s rear ladder, and then when you want to hoist a flag (or antenna, or both!) you can very easily angle in the pole from ground level into the top bracket, and then raise the pole to vertical and drop it securely into the base. Lowering the flagpole is just as easy – it literally only takes seconds. No tools are required – making it easy to quickly get the flagpole down if there is an approaching storm, or to store in a bay for transport. FlagPole Buddy offers three flagpole sizes – a 12′ aluminum pole with a 1″ diameter base that collapses down to 6′ tall, a 16′ fiberglass pole with a 1.5″ diameter base that collapses down to 4′ tall, and a 22′ fiberglass pole with a 2″ diameter base that also collapses down to 4′. Dave recommended we try the 12′ aluminum pole for our antenna experiments since it was more rigid, and indeed it has been working great. The downside of the 12′ we have discovered is that it does not have a locking pin to hold the pole fully extended, so it can gradually slide back down a bit if you don’t twist it extra tight to secure it. And the 1″ base mount does not have an insert for a locking screw to keep the pole from rotating – not needed for a flag, but important if you want to aim a directional antenna and rely on more than friction to keep it that way. The two larger poles have both of these features however. All of the poles can be deployed to less than fully extended height – so we are considering eventually adding the 22′ pole to our arsenal as well. On calm days the extra altitude might be nice for the WiFi gear, and on breezy days it will be a great place for flags during the day and solar beacons at night. The FlagPole Buddy kit comes with a traditional ball for the top of the pole, but they also offer a mounting bracket for attaching a flat metal plate to the top. We used this to create a mount point and ground plane for our magnetic-base cellular antennas. A future upgrade for up top – FlagPole Buddy offers a whole range of awesome solar powered dusk-till-dawn flashing beacons and flag lights that look really cool. The FlagPole Buddy gets us the altitude we need, but what should we put up there to bring in the signal? Ubiquiti NanoStation 2 / WFRBoost One little known yet totally awesome feature of the WiFiRanger routers is that they support a feature called “WFRBoost” that lets them remotely control and manage many Ubiquiti CPE devices. CPE stands for “Customer Premises Equipment”, and is the term used for commercial grade WiFi access points used by wireless service providers. Very often – the equipment providing WiFi in a campground is actually Ubiquiti CPE gear. The one we’ve been testing is an old spare NanoStation 2 that WiFiRanger sent us to try out. The Ubiquiti NanoStation M2 (the newer model of the NanoStation 2 – with 802.11n support and not just 802.11b/g) is a small affordable (less than $100) CPE with a built in directional antenna, designed for pole mounting. In this case – flagpole mounting. When plugged into a WiFiRanger, the NanoStation shows up as just another signal source in the main WiFiRanger control panel. Only – now you can see networks vastly further away than the Sky ever could. The downside is the setup time — the NanoStation’s directional antenna does wonders pulling in a distant signal, but you need to raise the mast and spend time slowly rotating and checking signal strength until you find an optimal setup. Where we are camped this week, I managed to connect to an open WiFi network over a quarter mile away by carefully aiming the NanoStation! I don’t consider the NanoStation a replacement for our Sky, but rather the perfect compliment to it. The Sky is better / faster for “medium range”  passive situations, as it doesn’t require setting up a mast or aiming an antenna to use. So it is perfect for hopping online while passing through retail parking lots or shorter stays at campgrounds. But when we are stopped someplace and need to pull in WiFi from as far away as possible, I am blown away by what the NanoStation so far seems capable of. Cellular Up Top Too? Cell towers are likely to be both much further away and higher than nearby WiFi hotspots, meaning that an extra few feet of altitude is less likely to make such a dramatic difference. But to keep our options open for when struggling in fringe signal areas, I also set up a metal plate that can be mounted on the top of the flagpole as well, giving an extra-high mounting option for the magnetic-based antennas that we use with our cellular boosters. To actually take advantage of this will require some antenna extension cable, and it will take some experimentation to determine whether the loss from the longer cable is made up for by the gain from the extra altitude. So far since setting up the FlagPole Buddy we haven’t been any place “fringe enough” for it to make a difference with cellular, but I am looking forward to further experimentation. Gave proof through the night that the signal was still there… Overall, the combination of the FlagPole Buddy and the NanoStation 2 CPE have made a wonderful upgrade to our bus, and we look forward to getting some custom flags and solar beacons to bling out our pole even further. And though we have only had a chance to use it at two locations so far, I am literally blown away at the extreme range that the NanoStation seems capable of. I can’t wait to keep testing it out in a range of additional locations. Happy Independence Day – may freedom shine brightly upon you!]]>

When it comes to getting online, very often nothing beats a little altitude.

For more information on mobile internet options… visit our resource center.

We’ve long loved the WiFiRanger Sky on the roof of our bus – it has worked wonders in many campgrounds allowing us to surf away happily via WiFi at distances substantially further than we could ever reach without it.

But if a big Prevost or boxy toy-hauler pulls into a site between us and the campground hotspot, we’ve more than once had our great signal completely obstructed and obliterated to nothing.

If only we could hoist an antenna another 6 or so feet into the air, getting the WiFi receiver up and over all the other rigs and obstructions nearby…

While researching the new edition of The Mobile Internet Handbook, I set out to find an easy and elegant way to be able to accomplish this.

The solution I’ve grown very impressed with.

The FlagPole Buddy

To avoid putting holes in the side of our bus, we attached the FlagPole Buddy mounts with 3M VHB tape - aka 'Scotch Outdoor Mounting Tape'.

To avoid putting holes in the side of our bus, we attached the FlagPole Buddy mounts with 3M VHB tape – aka ‘Scotch Outdoor Mounting Tape’.

I reached out to Christine & Dave at FlagPole Buddy, and they sent us a 12′ Pole & Mount Kit to experiment with.

The FlagPole Buddy mount design is simple and elegant – just attach the mounts to any flat surface or clamp to an RV’s rear ladder, and then when you want to hoist a flag (or antenna, or both!) you can very easily angle in the pole from ground level into the top bracket, and then raise the pole to vertical and drop it securely into the base.

Lowering the flagpole is just as easy – it literally only takes seconds. No tools are required – making it easy to quickly get the flagpole down if there is an approaching storm, or to store in a bay for transport.

FlagPole Buddy offers three flagpole sizes – a 12′ aluminum pole with a 1″ diameter base that collapses down to 6′ tall, a 16′ fiberglass pole with a 1.5″ diameter base that collapses down to 4′ tall, and a 22′ fiberglass pole with a 2″ diameter base that also collapses down to 4′.

Flying the colors over Zephyr, with a Ubiquiti NanoStation way up high too!

Flying the colors over Zephyr, with a Ubiquiti NanoStation way up high too!

Dave recommended we try the 12′ aluminum pole for our antenna experiments since it was more rigid, and indeed it has been working great.

The downside of the 12′ we have discovered is that it does not have a locking pin to hold the pole fully extended, so it can gradually slide back down a bit if you don’t twist it extra tight to secure it. And the 1″ base mount does not have an insert for a locking screw to keep the pole from rotating – not needed for a flag, but important if you want to aim a directional antenna and rely on more than friction to keep it that way.

The two larger poles have both of these features however.

All of the poles can be deployed to less than fully extended height – so we are considering eventually adding the 22′ pole to our arsenal as well. On calm days the extra altitude might be nice for the WiFi gear, and on breezy days it will be a great place for flags during the day and solar beacons at night.

The FlagPole Buddy kit comes with a traditional ball for the top of the pole, but they also offer a mounting bracket for attaching a flat metal plate to the top. We used this to create a mount point and ground plane for our magnetic-base cellular antennas.

A future upgrade for up top – FlagPole Buddy offers a whole range of awesome solar powered dusk-till-dawn flashing beacons and flag lights that look really cool.

The FlagPole Buddy gets us the altitude we need, but what should we put up there to bring in the signal?

Ubiquiti NanoStation 2 / WFRBoost

Ubiquiti NanoStation 2 on the left, and a magnetic-mount cellular antenna on the right.

Ubiquiti NanoStation 2 on the left, and a magnetic-mount cellular antenna on the right.

One little known yet totally awesome feature of the WiFiRanger routers is that they support a feature called “WFRBoost” that lets them remotely control and manage many Ubiquiti CPE devices.

CPE stands for “Customer Premises Equipment”, and is the term used for commercial grade WiFi access points used by wireless service providers. Very often – the equipment providing WiFi in a campground is actually Ubiquiti CPE gear.

The one we’ve been testing is an old spare NanoStation 2 that WiFiRanger sent us to try out.

To power the NanoStation, I mounted a DC-powered POE Injector (power over ethernet) in the utility bay. When I raise the flagpole, I just plug the NanoStation's ethernet output in here. The other end of the POE has ethernet running up to the tech cabinet and WiFiRanger Go2 router.

To power the NanoStation, I mounted a DC-powered POE Injector (power over ethernet) in the utility bay. When I raise the flagpole, I just plug the NanoStation’s ethernet output in here. The other end of the POE has ethernet running up to the tech cabinet and WiFiRanger Go2 router.

The Ubiquiti NanoStation M2 (the newer model of the NanoStation 2 – with 802.11n support and not just 802.11b/g) is a small affordable (less than $100) CPE with a built in directional antenna, designed for pole mounting.

In this case – flagpole mounting.

When plugged into a WiFiRanger, the NanoStation shows up as just another signal source in the main WiFiRanger control panel. Only – now you can see networks vastly further away than the Sky ever could.

The downside is the setup time — the NanoStation’s directional antenna does wonders pulling in a distant signal, but you need to raise the mast and spend time slowly rotating and checking signal strength until you find an optimal setup.

Where we are camped this week, I managed to connect to an open WiFi network over a quarter mile away by carefully aiming the NanoStation!

WiFiRanger Control Panel: Showing cellular, the Sky (WFRControl), and the NanoStation (WFRBoost) all hooked up at once.

WiFiRanger Control Panel: Showing cellular, the Sky (WFRControl), and the NanoStation (WFRBoost) all hooked up at once.

I don’t consider the NanoStation a replacement for our Sky, but rather the perfect compliment to it.

The Sky is better / faster for “medium range”  passive situations, as it doesn’t require setting up a mast or aiming an antenna to use. So it is perfect for hopping online while passing through retail parking lots or shorter stays at campgrounds.

But when we are stopped someplace and need to pull in WiFi from as far away as possible, I am blown away by what the NanoStation so far seems capable of.

Cellular Up Top Too?

Cell towers are likely to be both much further away and higher than nearby WiFi hotspots, meaning that an extra few feet of altitude is less likely to make such a dramatic difference.

But to keep our options open for when struggling in fringe signal areas, I also set up a metal plate that can be mounted on the top of the flagpole as well, giving an extra-high mounting option for the magnetic-based antennas that we use with our cellular boosters.

To actually take advantage of this will require some antenna extension cable, and it will take some experimentation to determine whether the loss from the longer cable is made up for by the gain from the extra altitude.

So far since setting up the FlagPole Buddy we haven’t been any place “fringe enough” for it to make a difference with cellular, but I am looking forward to further experimentation.

Gave proof through the night that the signal was still there…

Overall, the combination of the FlagPole Buddy and the NanoStation 2 CPE have made a wonderful upgrade to our bus, and we look forward to getting some custom flags and solar beacons to bling out our pole even further.

And though we have only had a chance to use it at two locations so far, I am literally blown away at the extreme range that the NanoStation seems capable of.

I can’t wait to keep testing it out in a range of additional locations.

Flags, WiFi, and Rainbows!

At the end of the rainbow lies a land filled with bandwidth and buses…

Happy Independence Day – may freedom shine brightly upon you!

]]>
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The Sunrise Coast: Tawas, Michigan http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/the-sunrise-coast-tawas-michigan/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/07/the-sunrise-coast-tawas-michigan/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:59:10 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15231 Who would have ever thought that night owls like us would end up touring Michigan’s ‘Sunrise’ coast? Only serendipity could make such an unlikely combination converge … with a little prodding from good friends. Earlier this spring, we really thought we’d be spending our summer slowly working our way westward towards Oregon via perhaps Colorado or Wyoming or Utah. But on a whim, our path took us back east a bit to northern Indiana to attend not one but two major RV rallies and knocking some major bus projects off our to-do list. We really thought we’d turn back from Goshen and continue directly westward. But something kept calling us northward instead. And that wasn’t just the occasional chime coming from iMessage every so often from our friends Krash & Karen, tempting us to come visit them. It was also a romance with Michigan that started two summers ago when we explored the UP and western shoreline as part of ‘Operation: Dip Toes‘ – a unique surprise birthday present for my ailing father. We’ve gotten to know Krash & Karen and their adorable pooch Pipa during our past winters in Cedar Key, FL – they’re not RVers, but they wintered down there too and have gotten to know our little community of nomads pretty well. Hanging out at the Low Key Tiki Bar can do that for you.  Their rest of the year home is Michigan, in East Tawas along the shores of Lake Huron. Karen lightly suggested that they had driveway parking for us should be want to come up that way, and when she confirmed we could have some packages meet up with us there – our next destination was planned. And it definitely wouldn’t suck to then continue on via the UP of  Michigan to get out west from there. We figured we’d accept their generous offer to park at their place over the weekend, and then relocate over to the nearby Tawas Point State Park – we never like to overstay our welcome, and given our primary focus right now is the re-write of The Mobile Internet Handbook, we felt we might also need some distraction free time to get writing done. When we arrived, the bus fit perfectly at their place – like it was meant to nestle in there. And with a peak of a water view too. And a WiFi password to utilize. Karen and Krash took us on a little driving tour of the Tawas area,  including the state park. All four of us dropped our jaws – it wasn’t the style of state park we had been enjoying recently with secluded little spots. We knew that part coming already. But wow, was it packed full – and the campsites were right on top of each other with almost no distinction at all. While we can certainly make the best of it and did have a water view spot reserved, this style of campground is not our preference. They made it clear, we were more than welcome to stay with them for our time in the area awaiting a few more packages to catch up with us – there was no rush on their part for us to move over. So we canceled our reservation and made ourselves at home with our new temporary neighbors. And what great neighbors they were – the perfect kind. Respectful of each other’s space and time, but yet there for shared meals, a bit of touring when there was time and casual conversations as we go about our days. We love that kind of meshing, when we don’t feel like we’re being hosted as guests or intruding on someone’s existing pace of life. We bring our own house, and are pretty self contained. Our week in the area was an absolutely perfect blending of getting lots of focused work done, while having easy distractions when we needed a break. East Tawas is an adorable little town that tends to have just a touch of quaint coastal tourism as it’s an easy escape from the Detroit metro area. And Karen & Krash’s neighborhood is laid back and peaceful, with easy accessibility to lakefront walking and views. We which we partook of several times a day. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the area, especially getting to know our friends better. We’re so thankful for the opportunity to stop for a bit, allow packages to catch up to us and feel so incredibly welcomed into someone’s life. Thank you Karen & Krash! What’s Next? We’re also thankful for the poke to head this way, because the adventure this little detour from our intended route has set us upon is shaping up quite nicely as we embark on exploring the shores of Lake Huron along US 23.  We’ll continue our tale later, but suffice it to say – we’re thoroughly picking up on that romance with Michigan we started a couple years ago. We’re currently riding out the 4th of July holiday weekend in the sanctuary of Alpena, and next week we’ll be exploring Roger’s City, followed by Cheboygen. Our goal is to send off the manuscript of the book to our editor before we cross the bridge to the UP. That gives us just a little over 2 weeks to go – so back to writing!  ]]>

Who would have ever thought that night owls like us would end up touring Michigan’s ‘Sunrise’ coast?

We didn’t realize we were embarking on a tour! How cool!

Only serendipity could make such an unlikely combination converge … with a little prodding from good friends.

Earlier this spring, we really thought we’d be spending our summer slowly working our way westward towards Oregon via perhaps Colorado or Wyoming or Utah. But on a whim, our path took us back east a bit to northern Indiana to attend not one but two major RV rallies and knocking some major bus projects off our to-do list.

We really thought we’d turn back from Goshen and continue directly westward.

But something kept calling us northward instead.

And that wasn’t just the occasional chime coming from iMessage every so often from our friends Krash & Karen, tempting us to come visit them.

It was also a romance with Michigan that started two summers ago when we explored the UP and western shoreline as part of ‘Operation: Dip Toes‘ – a unique surprise birthday present for my ailing father.

We’ve gotten to know Krash & Karen and their adorable pooch Pipa during our past winters in Cedar Key, FL – they’re not RVers, but they wintered down there too and have gotten to know our little community of nomads pretty well. Hanging out at the Low Key Tiki Bar can do that for you.  Their rest of the year home is Michigan, in East Tawas along the shores of Lake Huron.

Karen lightly suggested that they had driveway parking for us should be want to come up that way, and when she confirmed we could have some packages meet up with us there – our next destination was planned. And it definitely wouldn’t suck to then continue on via the UP of  Michigan to get out west from there.

IMG_2396

Lots of packages arriving. All of it test gear being sent to us for both The Mobile Internet Handbook and our upcoming solar project.

IMG_2515

Solar panels starting to arrive – our next project will be testing various flexible panels head to head to find out what is the best balance for us of quality, cost and efficiency. Follow the challenge here: http://www.technomadia.com/solar

We figured we’d accept their generous offer to park at their place over the weekend, and then relocate over to the nearby Tawas Point State Park – we never like to overstay our welcome, and given our primary focus right now is the re-write of The Mobile Internet Handbook, we felt we might also need some distraction free time to get writing done.

Should we stay here at this lovely and pretty private spot?

Should we stay here at this lovely and pretty private spot?

When we arrived, the bus fit perfectly at their place – like it was meant to nestle in there. And with a peak of a water view too. And a WiFi password to utilize.

Karen and Krash took us on a little driving tour of the Tawas area,  including the state park. All four of us dropped our jaws – it wasn’t the style of state park we had been enjoying recently with secluded little spots. We knew that part coming already. But wow, was it packed full – and the campsites were right on top of each other with almost no distinction at all.

While we can certainly make the best of it and did have a water view spot reserved, this style of campground is not our preference.

Or stay here? Tawas Point State Park.

Or stay here? Tawas Point State Park.

They made it clear, we were more than welcome to stay with them for our time in the area awaiting a few more packages to catch up with us – there was no rush on their part for us to move over.

So we canceled our reservation and made ourselves at home with our new temporary neighbors.

And what great neighbors they were – the perfect kind. Respectful of each other’s space and time, but yet there for shared meals, a bit of touring when there was time and casual conversations as we go about our days.

We love that kind of meshing, when we don’t feel like we’re being hosted as guests or intruding on someone’s existing pace of life. We bring our own house, and are pretty self contained.

Our week in the area was an absolutely perfect blending of getting lots of focused work done, while having easy distractions when we needed a break. East Tawas is an adorable little town that tends to have just a touch of quaint coastal tourism as it’s an easy escape from the Detroit metro area.

IMG_2491

On our daily walks

IMG_2499

Dipping our toes…

We never caught a sunrise.. but the sunsets were pretty awesome too.

We never caught a sunrise.. but the sunsets were pretty awesome too.

IMG_2484

Cute downtown East Tawas (we caught a showing of ‘How to Train your Dragon 2′ for just $5!!)

IMG_2460

Getting our lighthouse fix – Tawas Point Lighthouse

IMG_2467

We had to resist giving tours during our own tour. Up here, volunteers *PAY* to stay at the lighthouse and give tours. (Don’t get any ideas Oregon!)

And Karen & Krash’s neighborhood is laid back and peaceful, with easy accessibility to lakefront walking and views. We which we partook of several times a day.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the area, especially getting to know our friends better.

Thank you Krash & Karen!

Thank you Krash & Karen!

We’re so thankful for the opportunity to stop for a bit, allow packages to catch up to us and feel so incredibly welcomed into someone’s life. Thank you Karen & Krash!

What’s Next? We’re also thankful for the poke to head this way, because the adventure this little detour from our intended route has set us upon is shaping up quite nicely as we embark on exploring the shores of Lake Huron along US 23.  We’ll continue our tale later, but suffice it to say – we’re thoroughly picking up on that romance with Michigan we started a couple years ago.

We’re currently riding out the 4th of July holiday weekend in the sanctuary of Alpena, and next week we’ll be exploring Roger’s City, followed by Cheboygen. Our goal is to send off the manuscript of the book to our editor before we cross the bridge to the UP. That gives us just a little over 2 weeks to go – so back to writing!

 

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Mobile Income Sources for Non-Retired RVers – Jobs, Careers and Workamping http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/mobile-income-sources-for-non-retired-rvers-jobs-careers-and-workamping/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/mobile-income-sources-for-non-retired-rvers-jobs-careers-and-workamping/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:23:31 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15204 Preface: This post is a newly updated chapter in our No Excuses: Go Nomadic logistical series. It’s been greatly expanded to contain even more resources, ideas and information on forging a thrivable mobile income source.  Enjoy.. it’s our gift (but you can get the entire series as a ‘Pay as you Wish‘ eBook if you’d like.. details at the end.) Many people have dreams of long term travel, something that is more than the typical 1-2 week vacation a couple times a year (or every couple of years!). They crave a slower pace to more fully immerse themselves in different cultures and experiences. More opportunity to enjoy quality time with far flung friends and family. A chance for ever broadening horizons, not constrained by a “back to work” deadline. That sort of long term travel is generally thought of as reserved for: Retirement – when life savings, pensions and social security can cover the expenses, and one has completed a career and put that phase of life behind them. Before career – fresh out of school before one commits to a career and family, taking a few months or years to explore the world. In between careers – when a current careers is no longer rewarding, quit, take off and travel for a while before re-entering the workforce. Essentially, extended travel is often to the exclusion of work or career. It’s something you do after you’ve ended a career, or in-between phases of life. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these approaches. Taking time in-between life chapters, and focusing on travel, can give one very deep insights into themselves and the world. Valuable stuff. But what if now is when you want to travel, not some distant post-retirement future when your health and physical capabilities may no longer be up for the experience? What if a year just isn’t enough to experience the world? There is another option. Combining Career and Travel Not many of us are in a position to entirely quit the workforce, retire early and sustain our desired lifestyle. Some of us actually enjoy working, embrace our careers, and aren’t itching to escape them. And others, despite vigilant financial planning, haven’t been able to acquire enough savings to travel without some sort of supplemental income. There are certainly many careers that are not apt to a full time traveling lifestyle.  For those passionate about such a career path, that is reason enough to put off full-time travel. In the meantime, find ways to integrate in purposeful travel into your vacation time, sabbaticals, and/or by creatively extending business related trips. You might be surprised at how much flexibility you actually have – many part-time nomads manage to negotiate time-off (without pay) to turn the typical two week American vacation into two or more months off each year. You never know until you ask, or sometimes issue an ultimatum. But if you’re not on a stationary career track that inspires you, and travel is calling you louder, perhaps it’s time to explore creative ways to re-think life. There are generally two different ways to go about earning an income while traveling. First, find work that naturally integrates in travel. Or, design a “location independent” career that involves work that can be done primarily remotely, letting you work from wherever you are. Here are some examples to get you thinking… Careers with Travel Built In A nomadic life based on following the work is nothing new at all – it’s been part of human culture since the earliest adventurers got the itch to explore the world around them. There are many career paths that can require, or be adapted to, travel as a core component of them. Artists & Jewelers Musicians Entertainers Seasonal Workers Festival Workers Truck Drivers Harvest workers Oil fields Construction and Craftsmanship Contract Medical Staff (nurses, doctors, technicians, etc.) Journalism Photographers Disaster Services Cruise Ship Staff Fishing or Boat Crewing Military Service Traveling Sales & Demonstrators Therapists & Body Workers Hair Stylists & Cosmeticians Tattoo Artist House & Pet Sitters Tour Guides Amusement Park Staff Concessionaires Providing Services (cleaning, organizing, computer setup, handyman, etc.) Repair & Technician Work Temp Workers (from cashiers, stockers to office work) Performance Artists (balloon twisters, dancers, comedians, gymnasts, fire swallowers, etc.) Conference Speakers Field Researchers Inspectors & Secret Shoppers Onsite Guarding (gate guards, onsite security, etc.) Trainers & Teachers Teaching English as a Second Language Volunteer Jobs (that cover some living expenses) Consultants & Designers Speciality products sales (ie. Mary Key, Pampered Chef, etc.) Workamping Many of these career paths could utilize travel as part of the means of getting to a work site, but often may require adjusting your travel plans to meet the schedules of work obligations (military service being an extreme example).  Some might even require travel away from your RV. You may have to strike a balance that works for you between giving up control of your schedule and destinations, and having work that actually pays you to travel. And you may have to compromise on where you go if your profession involves local licensing challenges. Other nomadic career paths allow for travel totally in your control, but you need to have faith that you can show up to a location and market yourself to find gigs or sell your wares. There are some jobs (particularly in remote areas – such as oil fields, fishing or mining) that offer a rotating schedule of intense periods of work (weeks to months at a time) then lots of time off. Taking a job that involves such hard intense work for a month straight may be grueling, but it is balanced out with time off to travel extensively before you need to return. Workamping – Combining Work with Camping While the founders of Workamping.com, who coined the word, intended it to mean any work that is done while staying in a RV, it more commonly is used to refer to work where living in an RV is an asset. There are some temporary job positions that are popular with RVers in particular that allow folks to pick up seasonal employment. Some positions will pay a wage, and some just offer a free campsite. Paying positions include working at an Amazon.com fulfillment center via their CamperForce program, in which RVers get their campsite paid for and receive an hourly wage for helping fulfill orders. There’s also sugar beat harvests in the northern states, working at amusement parks, working for a concessionaire at national parks, working special events across the country, being part of a sales team and gate guarding in the oil fields. Some RVers are able to make a sustainable income out of moving between these sorts of jobs throughout the year, especially if their living costs are low. Some campgrounds also will exchange hosting duties – registration, office work, maintenance, cleaning – for a campground site and/or wages. Some might even pay a wage for work done over a certain number of hours. There’s also other volunteer positions available within public park systems that could range from interpretive hosts, campground hosts to grounds keepers. And then there are also opportunities to caretake someone’s property while they are out of town, which could range from tending the gardens, pet sitting or just providing a bit of security. It’s very important when considering a workamping position if the compensation is worth the hours you put in. For instance, a campground might offer you a free spot that they normally charge $500/month for – but is requiring a total of 30 hours a week of your time. Do the math – that’s just over $4/hour, well below minimum wage. If you need to earn a livable wage to pay your bills and build your savings, trading your time for a free site may not be worth your time. In such case, seeking out temporary employment positions in an area and paying for your site might turn out to be a much better financial outcome. But if reducing your living costs is your goal while you perhaps work on other income earning opportunities or supplement other income sources, it may be worthwhile. Especialy if there are other perks with the position that are worthwhile to you – such as free propane, laundry, discounts to local attractions or  more. Maybe one member of the household can provide the workamping hours to reduce living expenses, while the other concentrates on bringing in income – such as remote working or building up a business. Or perhaps you’d like to volunteer your time at a public campground or park – then it’s not necessarily about the money or cost savings, but for the experience and the joy of volunteering. If these sorts of positions are of interest, get involved by searching for ‘Workamping’. There are lots of forums, listings and resources available for tracking these positions down. Here are some resources to help get you started: http://www.workamping.com http://www.work-for-rvers-and-campers.com http://www.coolworks.com https://my.usajobs.gov/ http://www.caretaker.org http://www.amazon.com/camperforce http://www.sugarbeetharvest.com Also check out each state’s park system website, many offer volunteer opportunities for RVers. Remote Work Ideas With the advent of wireless broadband, there’s a whole new class of mobile careers available. They’re digital nomads and location independent professionals - or as we prefer to call ourselves, technomads. Some examples of careers that can be done remotely from anywhere with decent connectivity might include: Programmers Developers IT managers Database managers Bookkeepers / Accountants / CPAs Lawyers Personal Assistants Web Designers Writers Editors Bloggers Podcasters Photography (journalism, portrait, stock, artistic and training) Audio (voice over, audio books) Videography (freelance or YouTube ad income) Affiliate Sales Social Media Specialists Product Evangelists Bargain Hunting & Re-Selling Online Online Products & Stores Graphic Designers Online Professors & Teachers Tutors Personal and Professional Coaches Consultants & Advisors Freelance Writers Customer Support Agents (travel, insurance, etc.) Investors / Traders Transcriptionists Translators Researchers Content Creators Authors These are folks who can utilize technology to take the office with them untethered by ethernet cables and phone lines. Sometimes people pursuing digital nomadism have existing gigs lined up before they hit the road, and sometimes they search for remote working compatible gigs as needed by searching job boards such as: https://weworkremotely.com http://www.craigslist.org http://www.elance.com http://www.odesk.com http://www.vworker.com http://www.dice.com http://www.flexjobs.com And some build up their reputation online and in person, and market by word of mouth and social media. Intersection of your Skillsets & Passions The above lists certainly aren’t comprehensive of the options. You’re only limited to your creativity, skill sets and passions. What skills and interests do you have?  How can you adapt your skills into a job that allows you the level of travel you desire? Think creativity about what you can offer that would work with a mobile lifestyle. Just because you’ve always worked at a single location, doesn’t mean that’s the only way your skills can be put to use. What resources and contacts do you have in your industry that you can utilize to network? What is going to light your passions up and provide you incentive to get out of bed in the morning and put in work hours while you’re in a tempting new location that you really want to go out and explore? Brainstorm, and don’t let anyone tell you your idea isn’t worthwhile exploring. Just because you don’t know of someone doing it now, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. You and your passion is what might make it possible. You may also find that one single income source is not reliable or robust enough, and that exploring multiple income streams provides you a better income base. Such as combining campground hosting for several hours a week to reduce your living expenses while working on your next online business venture. Or taking several weeks to work for a wage at places like Amazon or a harvest to build up some funds, that allow you more creative time later to work on deploying a new product or service. Having multiple income sources also means if one goes away, you don’t have all your eggs in one proverbial basket. You can more quickly rebound, and find ways to adjust to the new income levels. Think creatively. Maybe you have a job that lets you work remotely part of the time, but really needs you onsite from time to time. How can you combine your reality with your dreams? Can you compromise your travel desires by limiting them geographically so you can easily return back to your job’s location when needed?  Or how about planning to fly out to your shorter term work obligations instead of always planning to drive there in your RV? Remote Employee As the world has become more and more virtual, and the economy has forced more companies to scale back on the costs of maintaining real estate, more traditional workplaces are becoming keen on allowing their employees to transition to becoming remote teleworkers. So why not take it a step further, and work from anywhere? Some companies have even gone entirely virtual – with no fixed office at all. Of course, not all positions are going to be able to be done remotely, and not all companies are keen on the idea. Particularly factoring the uncertainties that come with working while traveling. However if you have a job that you think you could do from anywhere, you might want to consider coming up with a proposal for your boss. Don’t expect your employer to jump right on the opportunity, and expect that you may have to prove you can do it by perhaps starting with working from home on occasion. It is possible however, and really all depends on how open minded your workplace is, your history as a reliable employee and how critical your role is to your organization. It likely won’t be an overnight transition, but if you like your current career and job but just want to do it from anywhere – think creatively on how you can make it happen. If you are willing to negotiate a lower salary in return for fewer mandated office hours and more travel flexibility, you might be surprised as to what your company might agree to. If you’re wanting to pursue this path, think hard about if you’re self motivated enough to get your work done while working not only from home, but a home that is constantly moving with lots of potential distractions at every stop. Will you really be able to balance productive work hours, with driving days, exploring new locations and visiting friends & family? If you’ll be traveling with other people – such as a spouse and kids, will you be able to create a workspace inside of an RV that gives you ample amenities, privacy and space to get your work done? And if your job require you to remain accessible by phone, video conferences and/or internet, will you be able to maintain the level of connectivity you need while on the road? And of course, there are lots of employment and contractor positions out there that require travel – such as sales, service, installation, inspection, security, demonstration and field research. These sorts of organizations usually already have awareness of RV & traveling workers, and probably have some support services that come along with the job to help you better navigate the logistics. Entrepreneurship On the other hand, not working for someone as an employee can be very freeing. Do you have ideas for products or services you can provide on your own and/or with peers? Do you have the motivation, skillsets and self-discipline to create, market, manage and ride the ebbs and flows? You might be cut out to be an entrepreneur. Many folks who have hit the road were either already self-employed, or explored it as part of a life transition to location independence. Living on the road has a lot of benefits that support exploring entrepreneurship, such as the variability of costs from month-to-month, and potentially flexible hours. It also means being quite disciplined and resourceful to both find work and keep your clients happy, as well as figuring out all of the logistics of running  a company – paperwork, taxes, accounting, healthcare, insurance, etc. It can also take quite an investment in time, and maybe money, to get your business to a point of providing the income you want. If you’ve never run your own business before, it may be daunting to approach learning the ropes while also adapting to a fully mobile lifestyle. Or it might be exhilarating, some folks thrive on a total life reset. How much of a change you’re up for is going to vary quite a bit by person, skills, risk factors and tolerance. Want some inspiration and ideas for entrepreneurial endeavors that took little upfront investment? We highly recommend the The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. Secure your mobile income first, or later? Is it better to have your mobile income source secured first, or figure it out once you’re on the road? Honestly, that really comes down to how much of a nest egg you have to fund your uncertain months, and how adaptable you are in making things work out. If you already have an income source that can be taken mobilely, the answer is easy – start doing the work to transition yourself to location independence… and get out there already! If you have an income source that won’t be apt for mobility, do you have ideas to pursue that you can start implementing now to see if they work? What can you be doing now to better position yourself, while you still have the income coming in? Are there classes you can take to pick up new skills? Can you apprentice and or volunteer to gain new experience? How can you think differently about your current career path to adapt it for life on the road? We also have a lot of folks ask us what degree they should go get so they can better create a mobile income. Folks, there’s no ‘mobile income’ degree out there (maybe we should sell one? hmmm.. there’s an income idea!). What will work for you as a mobile income out on the road comes down to one thing – you. What are your skills, interests and passions. Honestly, you should start with what you want to do for income – and then pursue degrees and certifications that might be necessary to achieve your goals. Not all, heck most, career paths don’t require a degree, especially if you are pursuing self-employment. And many people with degrees are on career paths divergent from their degree anyway. Invest your time and money in gaining skillsets, and only in degrees & certification if they are required or expected for your chosen field. There are a lot of free college level classes you can take online from www.Coursera.com, Stanford, MIT and iTunes U, and probably affordable classes within your local community too. One word of caution here – changing your life to mobile AND setting up a brand new income source are both two major life transitions. Each individually will take adjustments and have their growing pains.  If you choose to hit the road without a mobile income source flowing in, we highly advise that you have the funds or plans necessary to support yourself for up to a year or more as your figure it all out. Life on the road can be mighty distracting – so many places to explore, people to meet and balancing work/travel is a difficult transition. Trying to find the mental bandwidth to forge a new career path along with the excitement of perpetual travel aren’t necessarily good companions in the beginning. And the cost of travel in the first year can generally be more expensive as folks tend to take a faster pace resulting in more fuel costs and higher nightly rates at RV Parks and campgrounds. When you slow down your pace, the costs can go down. Way down. And you have more time to work on your income source. If you can afford to do so, enjoy the first few months on the road as more of an extended vacation – and then buckle down on creating and sustaining the income source you need to sustain your newfound love of the road. If you can’t afford that time, then make sure you try to approach this new lifestyle realistically. Recommended viewing: Our ‘Realities & Myths of Full Time RVing’ video chat & notes Working less or working smarter? After Timothy Ferris’ book The Four Hour Work Week came out, a bunch of folks got the notion that they could set up online businesses, outsource the bulk of the work, and only work 4 hours a week while earning a bunch of cash and playing the rest of the time. Sure, it may be possible for some, and there’s good stuff in Tim’s book that can really help folks think differently about the role work plays in their life. Just don’t get the idea that life as a nomad is always a full time vacation.  It takes a lot of work to set up and maintain a passive income stream – so much so that for most it’s really hard to call what they end up doing all that passive. Most of the mobile working nomads we’ve encountered don’t have a life of complete leisure or a passive income stream.  True, we may not be always working a typical 40+-hour work week plus commute, but we are putting in productive hours with deliverables.  We just tend to do it smartly without all the wasted time that tends to come with an office life. Many of us are working in careers that inspire us in some way, better the world and that we actually enjoy. And we’re doing it from amazing places with ever-changing amazing office views.  Instead of ending our workday (or night) and coming home to the same old routine, we have a new location waiting for us to explore! We’ve encountered such a variety of ways people make it work – from working a fairly normal work day, to those that work in waves of intense 12-15 hour days for a few weeks then coast for months after that. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.  Just make sure it’s YOUR way. Balancing Mobility & Work Working on the road may not be as glamorous as it sounds, and it’s certainly not a non-stop vacation. You will have to find your stride to make it work. You’ll be pulling into amazing new locations and be tempted by a lot of social opportunities as you visit family and are making new friends. Your RV is going to have issues at inopportune times that you’ll have to attend to if you want to keep mobile. It can be hard to find the time to sit down and get in your work hours with all the constant distractions. Especially in your first months to year on the road when it’s very difficult to differentiate a life of travel from an extended vacation. We see a lot of nomads give up this lifestyle within the first year or two because this balance is so hard to find. They either exhaust themselves trying to do it all, or they run out of funding because they never struck that balance. Here’s some tips we’ve found for helping with this: Plan some of your travels away from distractions. Instead of constantly exploring pretty places and visiting nearby friends, sometimes it makes sense to set down somewhere that you don’t know anyone nearby so that you can focus. Slow down your pace of travel, and stay places longer so you have time to both get in your work hours AND explore the location. Spread out your exploration time just like you do your extra-curricular activities now after your workday. Trying to balance motion in with work hours is sometimes just not possible. Making miles takes time, as does setting up, breaking camp and figuring out where your next stop will be.  Sometime it makes better sense to just travel a couple hours a day, and sometimes it might make sense to put aside a day where you get a lot of miles in to make major headway towards your next destination. Put attention towards your work space. If you need to be at a computer many hours a day, working from a laptop on a picnic table or on the beach may sound idyllic, but it’s just not practical or comfortable long term. And you may find you don’t do your best work from public locations with free WiFi like coffee shops or libraries. Options range from building in a comfortable desk space into your mobile home to arranging to rent in co-working spaces as you travel to urban locations, or borrowing space from friends as you travel. Pad in fun time to explore! Some nomads prefer working in intense focused bursts to generate their income, and then take weeks or months with minimal work commitments. And the most important tip of all: Try to switch your attitude of having to work while visiting an interesting new place to getting to work from all these amazing places! Think of it as always amazing office view changes.   Our Mobile Careers Working for ourselves, and working remotely, is the primary route we’ve taken. I’ve been location independent since 1994 when I started taking over my family’s software development company, running it from my beachside home in Florida. I used to tease my clients when they called that I could be working from anywhere – by the pool or the beach.  Then I started taking it further. When I needed to travel for work, I’d tack on personal days to explore, taking advantage of the majority of the travel costs having already been covered. Then I started taking longer personal trips where I integrated in a remote work day, and used my off-time to explore. I liked the balance of travel just being a regular part of my life and having the flexibility to just go with little need for pre-planning. And I’ve never felt like I needed to escape my career – I already built something I loved. When I met my lifemate Chris in 2006 (who was already living as a full time nomad), it all came together for me to totally remove myself from a fixed homebase and office, and I started the process of shifting my life to become fully mobile. Before going nomadic, Chris had a career in the mobile technology industry – most recently having worked for Palm and PalmSource as their Director of Competitive Analysis (aka ‘Chief Spy’), traveling the world to keep tabs on the entire mobile tech industry. It was truly a job too good to give up until Palm & Palm Source imploded. He had already long ago decided that this would be his last job for a big company, and his lay off propelled him to finally jump into something he always wanted to do – become a technomad. Today, Chris and I run Two Steps Beyond LLC (www.twostepsbeyond.com), where we combine our backgrounds to offer unique products and services. We have completely shut down the business that I ran with my family, and our current income sources have been completely built while on the road.  We develop our own line of travel related mobile apps and written some books. We’ve also taken on several short term gigs that have included: advising tech start-ups and companies, orchestrating new product launches, doing intensive market research, product development & project management, providing market insight to investors, selling our photography and travel videography and writing for tech journals. We’ve also been known to take on temporary gigs outside our norm just to explore new things, such as workamping for a month at Amazon.com packing boxes during their peak holiday season and volunteering as interpretive hosts at a lighthouse. We like to shake it up, explore new avenues of income, and most of all – have fun! Further resources on this topic: Our link list of other working on the road RVers Our ‘Ramblings: Tales from Nomads’ video interview series Our ‘Realities & Myths of Full Time RVing’ video chat & notes Our recent video chat with Gone with the Wynn’s on this topic: Read Chapter 2: Affording Full Time Travel —->   No Excuses: Go Nomadic This article is part of our ‘No Excuses: Go Nomadic’ series – addressing the common logistical obstacles of hitting the road full time. In the series, you’ll find our answers to things like mobile income sources, pets, family, community, mail/domicile, handling money and much more. Read the whole series:  No Excuses: Go Nomadic eBook version - This blog series is also available as a convenient eBook. We offer this expanded compilation with bonus material on a ‘pay as you wish’ basis. We don’t aim to make a living off our blog, but contributions to keep the blog going is appreciated (kinda like taking us out for a thank-you beer or dinner). Cost: Pay As You Wish (really… just set the price!) (PDF Format)     ]]>

Preface: This post is a newly updated chapter in our No Excuses: Go Nomadic logistical series. It’s been greatly expanded to contain even more resources, ideas and information on forging a thrivable mobile income source.  Enjoy.. it’s our gift (but you can get the entire series as a ‘Pay as you Wish‘ eBook if you’d like.. details at the end.)

Many people have dreams of long term travel, something that is more than the typical 1-2 week vacation a couple times a year (or every couple of years!).

They crave a slower pace to more fully immerse themselves in different cultures and experiences. More opportunity to enjoy quality time with far flung friends and family. A chance for ever broadening horizons, not constrained by a “back to work” deadline.

That sort of long term travel is generally thought of as reserved for:

  • Retirement – when life savings, pensions and social security can cover the expenses, and one has completed a career and put that phase of life behind them.
  • Before career – fresh out of school before one commits to a career and family, taking a few months or years to explore the world.
  • In between careers – when a current careers is no longer rewarding, quit, take off and travel for a while before re-entering the workforce.

Essentially, extended travel is often to the exclusion of work or career. It’s something you do after you’ve ended a career, or in-between phases of life.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these approaches. Taking time in-between life chapters, and focusing on travel, can give one very deep insights into themselves and the world. Valuable stuff.

But what if now is when you want to travel, not some distant post-retirement future when your health and physical capabilities may no longer be up for the experience?

What if a year just isn’t enough to experience the world?

There is another option.

Combining Career and Travel

Not many of us are in a position to entirely quit the workforce, retire early and sustain our desired lifestyle. Some of us actually enjoy working, embrace our careers, and aren’t itching to escape them. And others, despite vigilant financial planning, haven’t been able to acquire enough savings to travel without some sort of supplemental income.

There are certainly many careers that are not apt to a full time traveling lifestyle.  For those passionate about such a career path, that is reason enough to put off full-time travel. In the meantime, find ways to integrate in purposeful travel into your vacation time, sabbaticals, and/or by creatively extending business related trips.

You might be surprised at how much flexibility you actually have – many part-time nomads manage to negotiate time-off (without pay) to turn the typical two week American vacation into two or more months off each year. You never know until you ask, or sometimes issue an ultimatum.

But if you’re not on a stationary career track that inspires you, and travel is calling you louder, perhaps it’s time to explore creative ways to re-think life.

There are generally two different ways to go about earning an income while traveling.

First, find work that naturally integrates in travel.

Or, design a “location independent” career that involves work that can be done primarily remotely, letting you work from wherever you are.

Here are some examples to get you thinking…

Careers with Travel Built In

A nomadic life based on following the work is nothing new at all – it’s been part of human culture since the earliest adventurers got the itch to explore the world around them.

There are many career paths that can require, or be adapted to, travel as a core component of them.

  • Artists & Jewelers
  • Musicians
  • Entertainers
  • Seasonal Workers
  • Festival Workers
  • Truck Drivers
  • Harvest workers
  • Oil fields
  • Construction and Craftsmanship
  • Contract Medical Staff (nurses, doctors, technicians, etc.)
  • Journalism
  • Photographers
  • Disaster Services
  • Cruise Ship Staff
  • Fishing or Boat Crewing
  • Military Service
  • Traveling Sales & Demonstrators
  • Therapists & Body Workers
  • Hair Stylists & Cosmeticians
  • Tattoo Artist
  • House & Pet Sitters
  • Tour Guides
  • Amusement Park Staff
  • Concessionaires
  • Providing Services (cleaning, organizing, computer setup, handyman, etc.)
  • Repair & Technician Work
  • Temp Workers (from cashiers, stockers to office work)
  • Performance Artists (balloon twisters, dancers, comedians, gymnasts, fire swallowers, etc.)
  • Conference Speakers
  • Field Researchers
  • Inspectors & Secret Shoppers
  • Onsite Guarding (gate guards, onsite security, etc.)
  • Trainers & Teachers
  • Teaching English as a Second Language
  • Volunteer Jobs (that cover some living expenses)
  • Consultants & Designers
  • Speciality products sales (ie. Mary Key, Pampered Chef, etc.)
  • Workamping

Many of these career paths could utilize travel as part of the means of getting to a work site, but often may require adjusting your travel plans to meet the schedules of work obligations (military service being an extreme example).  Some might even require travel away from your RV.

You may have to strike a balance that works for you between giving up control of your schedule and destinations, and having work that actually pays you to travel. And you may have to compromise on where you go if your profession involves local licensing challenges.

Other nomadic career paths allow for travel totally in your control, but you need to have faith that you can show up to a location and market yourself to find gigs or sell your wares.

There are some jobs (particularly in remote areas – such as oil fields, fishing or mining) that offer a rotating schedule of intense periods of work (weeks to months at a time) then lots of time off. Taking a job that involves such hard intense work for a month straight may be grueling, but it is balanced out with time off to travel extensively before you need to return.

Workamping – Combining Work with Camping

While the founders of Workamping.com, who coined the word, intended it to mean any work that is done while staying in a RV, it more commonly is used to refer to work where living in an RV is an asset.

There are some temporary job positions that are popular with RVers in particular that allow folks to pick up seasonal employment.

Some positions will pay a wage, and some just offer a free campsite.

Paying positions include working at an Amazon.com fulfillment center via their CamperForce program, in which RVers get their campsite paid for and receive an hourly wage for helping fulfill orders. There’s also sugar beat harvests in the northern states, working at amusement parks, working for a concessionaire at national parks, working special events across the country, being part of a sales team and gate guarding in the oil fields.

Some RVers are able to make a sustainable income out of moving between these sorts of jobs throughout the year, especially if their living costs are low.

Some campgrounds also will exchange hosting duties – registration, office work, maintenance, cleaning – for a campground site and/or wages. Some might even pay a wage for work done over a certain number of hours.

There’s also other volunteer positions available within public park systems that could range from interpretive hosts, campground hosts to grounds keepers. And then there are also opportunities to caretake someone’s property while they are out of town, which could range from tending the gardens, pet sitting or just providing a bit of security.

It’s very important when considering a workamping position if the compensation is worth the hours you put in. For instance, a campground might offer you a free spot that they normally charge $500/month for – but is requiring a total of 30 hours a week of your time. Do the math – that’s just over $4/hour, well below minimum wage.

If you need to earn a livable wage to pay your bills and build your savings, trading your time for a free site may not be worth your time. In such case, seeking out temporary employment positions in an area and paying for your site might turn out to be a much better financial outcome.

But if reducing your living costs is your goal while you perhaps work on other income earning opportunities or supplement other income sources, it may be worthwhile. Especialy if there are other perks with the position that are worthwhile to you – such as free propane, laundry, discounts to local attractions or  more. Maybe one member of the household can provide the workamping hours to reduce living expenses, while the other concentrates on bringing in income – such as remote working or building up a business.

Or perhaps you’d like to volunteer your time at a public campground or park – then it’s not necessarily about the money or cost savings, but for the experience and the joy of volunteering.

If these sorts of positions are of interest, get involved by searching for ‘Workamping’. There are lots of forums, listings and resources available for tracking these positions down.

Here are some resources to help get you started:

Also check out each state’s park system website, many offer volunteer opportunities for RVers.

Remote Work Ideas

With the advent of wireless broadband, there’s a whole new class of mobile careers available. They’re digital nomads and location independent professionals - or as we prefer to call ourselves, technomads.

Some examples of careers that can be done remotely from anywhere with decent connectivity might include:

  • Programmers
  • Developers
  • IT managers
  • Database managers
  • Bookkeepers / Accountants / CPAs
  • Lawyers
  • Personal Assistants
  • Web Designers
  • Writers
  • Editors
  • Bloggers
  • Podcasters
  • Photography (journalism, portrait, stock, artistic and training)
  • Audio (voice over, audio books)
  • Videography (freelance or YouTube ad income)
  • Affiliate Sales
  • Social Media Specialists
  • Product Evangelists
  • Bargain Hunting & Re-Selling Online
  • Online Products & Stores
  • Graphic Designers
  • Online Professors & Teachers
  • Tutors
  • Personal and Professional Coaches
  • Consultants & Advisors
  • Freelance Writers
  • Customer Support
  • Agents (travel, insurance, etc.)
  • Investors / Traders
  • Transcriptionists
  • Translators
  • Researchers
  • Content Creators
  • Authors

These are folks who can utilize technology to take the office with them untethered by ethernet cables and phone lines. Sometimes people pursuing digital nomadism have existing gigs lined up before they hit the road, and sometimes they search for remote working compatible gigs as needed by searching job boards such as:

And some build up their reputation online and in person, and market by word of mouth and social media.

Intersection of your Skillsets & Passions

The above lists certainly aren’t comprehensive of the options. You’re only limited to your creativity, skill sets and passions.

What skills and interests do you have?  How can you adapt your skills into a job that allows you the level of travel you desire? Think creativity about what you can offer that would work with a mobile lifestyle. Just because you’ve always worked at a single location, doesn’t mean that’s the only way your skills can be put to use.

What resources and contacts do you have in your industry that you can utilize to network?

What is going to light your passions up and provide you incentive to get out of bed in the morning and put in work hours while you’re in a tempting new location that you really want to go out and explore?

Brainstorm, and don’t let anyone tell you your idea isn’t worthwhile exploring. Just because you don’t know of someone doing it now, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. You and your passion is what might make it possible.

You may also find that one single income source is not reliable or robust enough, and that exploring multiple income streams provides you a better income base.

Such as combining campground hosting for several hours a week to reduce your living expenses while working on your next online business venture. Or taking several weeks to work for a wage at places like Amazon or a harvest to build up some funds, that allow you more creative time later to work on deploying a new product or service.

Having multiple income sources also means if one goes away, you don’t have all your eggs in one proverbial basket. You can more quickly rebound, and find ways to adjust to the new income levels.

Think creatively. Maybe you have a job that lets you work remotely part of the time, but really needs you onsite from time to time. How can you combine your reality with your dreams?

Can you compromise your travel desires by limiting them geographically so you can easily return back to your job’s location when needed?  Or how about planning to fly out to your shorter term work obligations instead of always planning to drive there in your RV?

Remote Employee

As the world has become more and more virtual, and the economy has forced more companies to scale back on the costs of maintaining real estate, more traditional workplaces are becoming keen on allowing their employees to transition to becoming remote teleworkers.

So why not take it a step further, and work from anywhere?

Some companies have even gone entirely virtual – with no fixed office at all.

Of course, not all positions are going to be able to be done remotely, and not all companies are keen on the idea. Particularly factoring the uncertainties that come with working while traveling. However if you have a job that you think you could do from anywhere, you might want to consider coming up with a proposal for your boss.

Don’t expect your employer to jump right on the opportunity, and expect that you may have to prove you can do it by perhaps starting with working from home on occasion. It is possible however, and really all depends on how open minded your workplace is, your history as a reliable employee and how critical your role is to your organization.

It likely won’t be an overnight transition, but if you like your current career and job but just want to do it from anywhere – think creatively on how you can make it happen.

If you are willing to negotiate a lower salary in return for fewer mandated office hours and more travel flexibility, you might be surprised as to what your company might agree to.

If you’re wanting to pursue this path, think hard about if you’re self motivated enough to get your work done while working not only from home, but a home that is constantly moving with lots of potential distractions at every stop.

Will you really be able to balance productive work hours, with driving days, exploring new locations and visiting friends & family?

If you’ll be traveling with other people – such as a spouse and kids, will you be able to create a workspace inside of an RV that gives you ample amenities, privacy and space to get your work done?

And if your job require you to remain accessible by phone, video conferences and/or internet, will you be able to maintain the level of connectivity you need while on the road?

And of course, there are lots of employment and contractor positions out there that require travel – such as sales, service, installation, inspection, security, demonstration and field research. These sorts of organizations usually already have awareness of RV & traveling workers, and probably have some support services that come along with the job to help you better navigate the logistics.

Entrepreneurship

On the other hand, not working for someone as an employee can be very freeing.

Do you have ideas for products or services you can provide on your own and/or with peers? Do you have the motivation, skillsets and self-discipline to create, market, manage and ride the ebbs and flows?

You might be cut out to be an entrepreneur.

Many folks who have hit the road were either already self-employed, or explored it as part of a life transition to location independence.

Living on the road has a lot of benefits that support exploring entrepreneurship, such as the variability of costs from month-to-month, and potentially flexible hours.

It also means being quite disciplined and resourceful to both find work and keep your clients happy, as well as figuring out all of the logistics of running  a company – paperwork, taxes, accounting, healthcare, insurance, etc. It can also take quite an investment in time, and maybe money, to get your business to a point of providing the income you want.

If you’ve never run your own business before, it may be daunting to approach learning the ropes while also adapting to a fully mobile lifestyle. Or it might be exhilarating, some folks thrive on a total life reset.

How much of a change you’re up for is going to vary quite a bit by person, skills, risk factors and tolerance.

Want some inspiration and ideas for entrepreneurial endeavors that took little upfront investment? We highly recommend the The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.

Secure your mobile income first, or later?

Is it better to have your mobile income source secured first, or figure it out once you’re on the road?

Honestly, that really comes down to how much of a nest egg you have to fund your uncertain months, and how adaptable you are in making things work out.

If you already have an income source that can be taken mobilely, the answer is easy – start doing the work to transition yourself to location independence… and get out there already!

If you have an income source that won’t be apt for mobility, do you have ideas to pursue that you can start implementing now to see if they work?

What can you be doing now to better position yourself, while you still have the income coming in?

Are there classes you can take to pick up new skills? Can you apprentice and or volunteer to gain new experience?

How can you think differently about your current career path to adapt it for life on the road?

We also have a lot of folks ask us what degree they should go get so they can better create a mobile income. Folks, there’s no ‘mobile income’ degree out there (maybe we should sell one? hmmm.. there’s an income idea!). What will work for you as a mobile income out on the road comes down to one thing – you. What are your skills, interests and passions.

Honestly, you should start with what you want to do for income – and then pursue degrees and certifications that might be necessary to achieve your goals. Not all, heck most, career paths don’t require a degree, especially if you are pursuing self-employment. And many people with degrees are on career paths divergent from their degree anyway.

Invest your time and money in gaining skillsets, and only in degrees & certification if they are required or expected for your chosen field. There are a lot of free college level classes you can take online from www.Coursera.com, Stanford, MIT and iTunes U, and probably affordable classes within your local community too.

One word of caution here – changing your life to mobile AND setting up a brand new income source are both two major life transitions. Each individually will take adjustments and have their growing pains.  If you choose to hit the road without a mobile income source flowing in, we highly advise that you have the funds or plans necessary to support yourself for up to a year or more as your figure it all out.

Life on the road can be mighty distracting – so many places to explore, people to meet and balancing work/travel is a difficult transition. Trying to find the mental bandwidth to forge a new career path along with the excitement of perpetual travel aren’t necessarily good companions in the beginning.

And the cost of travel in the first year can generally be more expensive as folks tend to take a faster pace resulting in more fuel costs and higher nightly rates at RV Parks and campgrounds. When you slow down your pace, the costs can go down. Way down. And you have more time to work on your income source.

If you can afford to do so, enjoy the first few months on the road as more of an extended vacation – and then buckle down on creating and sustaining the income source you need to sustain your newfound love of the road. If you can’t afford that time, then make sure you try to approach this new lifestyle realistically.

Recommended viewing: Our ‘Realities & Myths of Full Time RVing’ video chat & notes

Working less or working smarter?

After Timothy Ferris’ book The Four Hour Work Week came out, a bunch of folks got the notion that they could set up online businesses, outsource the bulk of the work, and only work 4 hours a week while earning a bunch of cash and playing the rest of the time.

Sure, it may be possible for some, and there’s good stuff in Tim’s book that can really help folks think differently about the role work plays in their life.

IMG_4007Just don’t get the idea that life as a nomad is always a full time vacation.  It takes a lot of work to set up and maintain a passive income stream – so much so that for most it’s really hard to call what they end up doing all that passive.

Most of the mobile working nomads we’ve encountered don’t have a life of complete leisure or a passive income stream.  True, we may not be always working a typical 40+-hour work week plus commute, but we are putting in productive hours with deliverables.  We just tend to do it smartly without all the wasted time that tends to come with an office life.

Many of us are working in careers that inspire us in some way, better the world and that we actually enjoy. And we’re doing it from amazing places with ever-changing amazing office views.  Instead of ending our workday (or night) and coming home to the same old routine, we have a new location waiting for us to explore!

We’ve encountered such a variety of ways people make it work – from working a fairly normal work day, to those that work in waves of intense 12-15 hour days for a few weeks then coast for months after that.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it.  Just make sure it’s YOUR way.

Balancing Mobility & Work

Working on the road may not be as glamorous as it sounds, and it’s certainly not a non-stop vacation. You will have to find your stride to make it work.

You’ll be pulling into amazing new locations and be tempted by a lot of social opportunities as you visit family and are making new friends. Your RV is going to have issues at inopportune times that you’ll have to attend to if you want to keep mobile.

It can be hard to find the time to sit down and get in your work hours with all the constant distractions. Especially in your first months to year on the road when it’s very difficult to differentiate a life of travel from an extended vacation.

We see a lot of nomads give up this lifestyle within the first year or two because this balance is so hard to find. They either exhaust themselves trying to do it all, or they run out of funding because they never struck that balance.

Here’s some tips we’ve found for helping with this:

  • Plan some of your travels away from distractions. Instead of constantly exploring pretty places and visiting nearby friends, sometimes it makes sense to set down somewhere that you don’t know anyone nearby so that you can focus.
  • Slow down your pace of travel, and stay places longer so you have time to both get in your work hours AND explore the location. Spread out your exploration time just like you do your extra-curricular activities now after your workday.
  • Trying to balance motion in with work hours is sometimes just not possible. Making miles takes time, as does setting up, breaking camp and figuring out where your next stop will be.  Sometime it makes better sense to just travel a couple hours a day, and sometimes it might make sense to put aside a day where you get a lot of miles in to make major headway towards your next destination.
  • Put attention towards your work space. If you need to be at a computer many hours a day, working from a laptop on a picnic table or on the beach may sound idyllic, but it’s just not practical or comfortable long term. And you may find you don’t do your best work from public locations with free WiFi like coffee shops or libraries. Options range from building in a comfortable desk space into your mobile home to arranging to rent in co-working spaces as you travel to urban locations, or borrowing space from friends as you travel.
  • Pad in fun time to explore! Some nomads prefer working in intense focused bursts to generate their income, and then take weeks or months with minimal work commitments.
  • And the most important tip of all: Try to switch your attitude of having to work while visiting an interesting new place to getting to work from all these amazing places! Think of it as always amazing office view changes.

 

Our Mobile Careers

Working for ourselves, and working remotely, is the primary route we’ve taken.

I’ve been location independent since 1994 when I started taking over my family’s software development company, running it from my beachside home in Florida. I used to tease my clients when they called that I could be working from anywhere – by the pool or the beach.  Then I started taking it further.

When I needed to travel for work, I’d tack on personal days to explore, taking advantage of the majority of the travel costs having already been covered. Then I started taking longer personal trips where I integrated in a remote work day, and used my off-time to explore.

I liked the balance of travel just being a regular part of my life and having the flexibility to just go with little need for pre-planning.

And I’ve never felt like I needed to escape my career – I already built something I loved.

When I met my lifemate Chris in 2006 (who was already living as a full time nomad), it all came together for me to totally remove myself from a fixed homebase and office, and I started the process of shifting my life to become fully mobile.

Before going nomadic, Chris had a career in the mobile technology industry – most recently having worked for Palm and PalmSource as their Director of Competitive Analysis (aka ‘Chief Spy’), traveling the world to keep tabs on the entire mobile tech industry. It was truly a job too good to give up until Palm & Palm Source imploded. He had already long ago decided that this would be his last job for a big company, and his lay off propelled him to finally jump into something he always wanted to do – become a technomad.

Today, Chris and I run Two Steps Beyond LLC (www.twostepsbeyond.com), where we combine our backgrounds to offer unique products and services. We have completely shut down the business that I ran with my family, and our current income sources have been completely built while on the road. 

We develop our own line of travel related mobile apps and written some books. We’ve also taken on several short term gigs that have included: advising tech start-ups and companies, orchestrating new product launches, doing intensive market research, product development & project management, providing market insight to investors, selling our photography and travel videography and writing for tech journals.

We’ve also been known to take on temporary gigs outside our norm just to explore new things, such as workamping for a month at Amazon.com packing boxes during their peak holiday season and volunteering as interpretive hosts at a lighthouse.

We like to shake it up, explore new avenues of income, and most of all – have fun!

Further resources on this topic:

Our link list of other working on the road RVers

Our ‘Ramblings: Tales from Nomads’ video interview series

Our ‘Realities & Myths of Full Time RVing’ video chat & notes

Our recent video chat with Gone with the Wynn’s on this topic:

Read Chapter 2: Affording Full Time Travel —->

 

No Excuses: Go Nomadic

This article is part of our ‘No Excuses: Go Nomadic’ series – addressing the common logistical obstacles of hitting the road full time. In the series, you’ll find our answers to things like mobile income sources, pets, family, community, mail/domicile, handling money and much more.

Read the whole series:  No Excuses: Go Nomadic

eBook version - This blog series is also available as a convenient eBook. We offer this expanded compilation with bonus material on a ‘pay as you wish’ basis. We don’t aim to make a living off our blog, but contributions to keep the blog going is appreciated (kinda like taking us out for a thank-you beer or dinner).

Cost: Pay As You Wish (really… just set the price!)

(PDF Format)   Add to Cart

 

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Fort Sleepy – Decompressing in Central Michigan http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/fort-sleepy/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/fort-sleepy/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 17:00:31 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15172 After a hectic few weeks in Elkhart and attending the Fleetwood GLAMARAMA Rally in Goshen, IN – we were in serious need of some alone time. Researching and writing a book really requires finding a unique balance of undisrupted solitude, but quick distractions nearby for breaks. Our next major destination would be East Tawas, Michigan – but before arriving to visit with friends, we knew we needed to get in several days of writing and research. So we looked on a map, found the closest state park on our route and ended up pulling into Fort Custer State Park (our review) in Augusta, Michigan – between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. Just under 2 hours away, it seemed like a great escape! When we pulled in, the campground host asked what sort of site we were looking for.  We both exclaimed ‘Secluded!’. She nodded and grinned as she assigned us to site 77. And wow. What a treat! Our site was completely lined with shrubs and trees, providing a private little yard with nothing else in visible site.  Our favorite kind – a place we can sleep with the windows open and not worry about walking around naked inside our home. With our Michigan state annual park pass purchased ($31 for non residents, per vehicle) and 3-nights paid for at the campground at a very reasonable $21/night with electric included – we settled in. We put up the ‘Quiet Time’ sign and got to work. We should know by now however – that if we really and truly want alone time, we shouldn’t post about our location or update on RVillage. Almost immediately, we got invites from folks to drop by for a visit to meet up. And we just can’t say no – we are social RVers after all, and we LOVE meeting up with our readers. It’s hard to resist. Sandy & Randy contacted us via RVillage – they’re currently also staying in the area and asked if they could drop by for a quick visit. It was marvelous to meet up with them, and it’s not just because they came bearing a lovely ‘Welcome to Michigan’ basket full of wonderful fresh vegetables and fruits.   These two enjoy seeking out treasures at thrift shops, auctions and garage sales – and then selling them on eBay. They’ve made an art form out of it that provides them a nice supplemental income. Almost immediately after they left, Chris went to take a quick cat nap and I eyed a truck slowly passing by us and then parking across the way.. and start walking over. He saw our ‘Quiet Time’ sign up and started to turn away – but we caught him just in time to say ‘hi!’ Turns out, it’s our fellow GM bus nut friend Gordie Allen, who happens to live in the area and he caught word we were in town.  Word sure does travel fast! We last saw him at the ‘Back to Bricks’ bus meet-up in Clio last time we were in Michigan two summers ago. Not only does he live in the area, he’s a volunteer trail master for the park and forges and maintains the mountain bike trails that we had been enjoying hiking on! So, we got some bonus bus-geek time showing off the recent electrical bay modifications we made, and the engine rebuild. So much for a cat nap.. and so much for alone time! There are days we wish we could disguise Zephyr to look like a Fleetwood. But really, if the worst thing we can find to complain about is all the amazing people we get to meet – life is pretty darn good. Despite the social distractions, we did get a lot of work done on The Mobile Internet Handbook project – and the book re-write is solidly underway. While we could have extended for a couple more nights at Fort Custer and continue enjoying our lovely campsite – we decided to head on up the road to Sleepy Hollow State Park (our review) – we just love checking out state parks in our travels. Having already checked Michigan’s online reservation system, we knew there would be several spots available – so we again didn’t make reservations. We pulled in, and the attendant warned us a severe thunderstorm alert had just been issued and then asked if we wanted to drive around the campground to pick out a site. We opted for trusting her judgement on selecting us a nice site. And so glad we did, because just as soon as we backed into our site – the skies opened up. By the time I got back in the bus after directing Chris in, I was completely soaked. And then it hailed. Once the storms passed, we got a peak at our site, and it was quite lovely. All of the sites in the park were, actually – lots of seclusion built in. Just the reason we tend to favor state parks! We didn’t get too much hiking in at this park as all of the trails remained swampy. The biggest benefit of this park however was how lacking in cell phone signal it was, which is not a feature we generally seek out. But it was perfect for testing out our Wilson Mobile 4G we had just gotten in from PowerfulSignal.com. We collected a bunch of data comparing it to the Wilson Sleek, and it did provide a substantial boost that gave us very usable signals for general surfing. We’ll have a more comprehensive report out after we’ve been able to test it out in a greater variety of locations. But alas, we had a phone video conference call scheduled with a new client we’re ramping up for after the book is done – so headed into the nearby town of DeWitt to catch some solid LTE.   We had asked on Facebook before hitting Michigan for recommendations of pleasant places to stay on our way up to Tawas – most everyone directed us up the western shoreline, claiming that central Michigan is lacking in beautiful places. The western shoreline is very pretty – no doubt. But we completely disagree – central Michigan also has some beautiful spots too, and between Fort Custer and Sleepy Hollow, we definitely got our nature itch scratched. Oh wait, that’s probably from all the mosquito bites! What’s Next? We’re currently in East Tawas, Michigan along the shores of Lake Huron visiting our friends Krash & Karen. We’ll spend the next couple of weeks working our way northward up the index finger of Michigan. We’ll be super focusing on the book re-write – aiming to get a manuscript off to our editor by mid-July when we reach the bridge to the UP. We’ll spend a little bit of time finding some new to us areas to explore (we’ve already done one pass through before and visited the popular attractions of Sault Ste. Marie, Tahquenomon Falls and Pictured Rocks) – and then get our butts westward with a stop in Billings for a 1-year inspection on our engine rebuild before the warranty runs out in August. We have lighthouse duty starting on Sept 1 in Oregon, and the summer is seeming awfully short now! We’d really like to spend more time exploring the Pacific Northwest before settling in at Cape Blanco for the fall.]]>

After a hectic few weeks in Elkhart and attending the Fleetwood GLAMARAMA Rally in Goshen, IN – we were in serious need of some alone time. Researching and writing a book really requires finding a unique balance of undisrupted solitude, but quick distractions nearby for breaks.

Our next major destination would be East Tawas, Michigan – but before arriving to visit with friends, we knew we needed to get in several days of writing and research. So we looked on a map, found the closest state park on our route and ended up pulling into Fort Custer State Park (our review) in Augusta, Michigan – between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.

Just under 2 hours away, it seemed like a great escape!

When we pulled in, the campground host asked what sort of site we were looking for.  We both exclaimed ‘Secluded!’.

She nodded and grinned as she assigned us to site 77.

Our big private yard!

Our big private yard!

And wow. What a treat! Our site was completely lined with shrubs and trees, providing a private little yard with nothing else in visible site.  Our favorite kind – a place we can sleep with the windows open and not worry about walking around naked inside our home.

All set for a writing retreat!

All set for a writing retreat!

With our Michigan state annual park pass purchased ($31 for non residents, per vehicle) and 3-nights paid for at the campground at a very reasonable $21/night with electric included – we settled in.

We put up the ‘Quiet Time’ sign and got to work.

We should know by now however – that if we really and truly want alone time, we shouldn’t post about our location or update on RVillage.

Almost immediately, we got invites from folks to drop by for a visit to meet up. And we just can’t say no – we are social RVers after all, and we LOVE meeting up with our readers. It’s hard to resist.

Meeting fellow RVillager's, Sandy & Randy.

Meeting fellow RVillager’s, Sandy & Randy.

Sandy & Randy contacted us via RVillage – they’re currently also staying in the area and asked if they could drop by for a quick visit.

It was marvelous to meet up with them, and it’s not just because they came bearing a lovely ‘Welcome to Michigan’ basket full of wonderful fresh vegetables and fruits.

Now that's our kind of bouquet! Thanks Sandy & Randy!

Now that’s our kind of bouquet! Thanks Sandy & Randy!

 

These two enjoy seeking out treasures at thrift shops, auctions and garage sales – and then selling them on eBay. They’ve made an art form out of it that provides them a nice supplemental income.

Almost immediately after they left, Chris went to take a quick cat nap and I eyed a truck slowly passing by us and then parking across the way.. and start walking over. He saw our ‘Quiet Time’ sign up and started to turn away – but we caught him just in time to say ‘hi!’

From one of our hikes at Fort Custer SP.

From one of our hikes at Fort Custer SP.

Turns out, it’s our fellow GM bus nut friend Gordie Allen, who happens to live in the area and he caught word we were in town.  Word sure does travel fast!

We last saw him at the ‘Back to Bricks’ bus meet-up in Clio last time we were in Michigan two summers ago.

Not only does he live in the area, he’s a volunteer trail master for the park and forges and maintains the mountain bike trails that we had been enjoying hiking on!

Geeking out with Gordie.

Geeking out with Gordie.

So, we got some bonus bus-geek time showing off the recent electrical bay modifications we made, and the engine rebuild.

So much for a cat nap.. and so much for alone time!

There are days we wish we could disguise Zephyr to look like a Fleetwood. But really, if the worst thing we can find to complain about is all the amazing people we get to meet – life is pretty darn good.

Despite the social distractions, we did get a lot of work done on The Mobile Internet Handbook project – and the book re-write is solidly underway.

While we could have extended for a couple more nights at Fort Custer and continue enjoying our lovely campsite – we decided to head on up the road to Sleepy Hollow State Park (our review) – we just love checking out state parks in our travels.

Our lovely site at Sleepy Hollow SP

Our lovely site at Sleepy Hollow SP

Having already checked Michigan’s online reservation system, we knew there would be several spots available – so we again didn’t make reservations. We pulled in, and the attendant warned us a severe thunderstorm alert had just been issued and then asked if we wanted to drive around the campground to pick out a site.

We opted for trusting her judgement on selecting us a nice site. And so glad we did, because just as soon as we backed into our site – the skies opened up. By the time I got back in the bus after directing Chris in, I was completely soaked. And then it hailed.

The lake nearby the campground.

The lake nearby the campground.

Once the storms passed, we got a peak at our site, and it was quite lovely. All of the sites in the park were, actually – lots of seclusion built in. Just the reason we tend to favor state parks!

We didn’t get too much hiking in at this park as all of the trails remained swampy.

The biggest benefit of this park however was how lacking in cell phone signal it was, which is not a feature we generally seek out. But it was perfect for testing out our Wilson Mobile 4G we had just gotten in from PowerfulSignal.com.

We collected a bunch of data comparing it to the Wilson Sleek, and it did provide a substantial boost that gave us very usable signals for general surfing. We’ll have a more comprehensive report out after we’ve been able to test it out in a greater variety of locations.

Commuting for bandwidth.

Commuting for bandwidth.

But alas, we had a phone video conference call scheduled with a new client we’re ramping up for after the book is done – so headed into the nearby town of DeWitt to catch some solid LTE.

 

We had asked on Facebook before hitting Michigan for recommendations of pleasant places to stay on our way up to Tawas – most everyone directed us up the western shoreline, claiming that central Michigan is lacking in beautiful places.

The western shoreline is very pretty – no doubt. But we completely disagree – central Michigan also has some beautiful spots too, and between Fort Custer and Sleepy Hollow, we definitely got our nature itch scratched.

Oh wait, that’s probably from all the mosquito bites!

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 6.07.16 PM

Our general July route might look something like this.. variations by serendipity always possible.

What’s Next? We’re currently in East Tawas, Michigan along the shores of Lake Huron visiting our friends Krash & Karen. We’ll spend the next couple of weeks working our way northward up the index finger of Michigan. We’ll be super focusing on the book re-write – aiming to get a manuscript off to our editor by mid-July when we reach the bridge to the UP.

We’ll spend a little bit of time finding some new to us areas to explore (we’ve already done one pass through before and visited the popular attractions of Sault Ste. Marie, Tahquenomon Falls and Pictured Rocks) – and then get our butts westward with a stop in Billings for a 1-year inspection on our engine rebuild before the warranty runs out in August.

We have lighthouse duty starting on Sept 1 in Oregon, and the summer is seeming awfully short now! We’d really like to spend more time exploring the Pacific Northwest before settling in at Cape Blanco for the fall.

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Quick RVing Tip: Toad Light Check http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/quick-rving-tip-toad-light-check/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/quick-rving-tip-toad-light-check/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 08:42:06 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15117 A few weeks ago, our friend Chris Guld let me know that the first time they met us a year ago she was inspired by watching us check our toad’s lights. Usually we like inspiring folks for less mundane things, but we’ll go with it. She liked our system so much, that she and Jim now use our hand signals as part of their own pre-trip check. Chris and I kinda stumbled upon a set of clear & intuitive hand signals on our own that work really well. We figure if a 10-year full timing veteran picked up something new from us - perhaps other might as well? So, we captured our light check on camera the other day to share with you.. here it is in a very quick video: (Direct Video Link) This little video was a lot of fun and pretty easy to create. Let us know if there are other quick tips like this we can share with you, and we’ll start recording them as we have time. We’re humbled that RV Travel featured our little video today as the video tip of the day! General Update: We’re super busy and heads down researching, testing equipment and re-writing The Mobile Internet Handbook. We’ll do our best to keep the blog up to date as we go!  ]]>

A few weeks ago, our friend Chris Guld let me know that the first time they met us a year ago she was inspired by watching us check our toad’s lights. Usually we like inspiring folks for less mundane things, but we’ll go with it.

She liked our system so much, that she and Jim now use our hand signals as part of their own pre-trip check.

Chris and I kinda stumbled upon a set of clear & intuitive hand signals on our own that work really well. We figure if a 10-year full timing veteran picked up something new from us - perhaps other might as well?

So, we captured our light check on camera the other day to share with you.. here it is in a very quick video:

(Direct Video Link)

This little video was a lot of fun and pretty easy to create. Let us know if there are other quick tips like this we can share with you, and we’ll start recording them as we have time.

We’re humbled that RV Travel featured our little video today as the video tip of the day!

General Update: We’re super busy and heads down researching, testing equipment and re-writing The Mobile Internet Handbook. We’ll do our best to keep the blog up to date as we go!

 

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Three Years in a Vintage Bus http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/three-years-in-a-vintage-bus/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/three-years-in-a-vintage-bus/#comments Sun, 22 Jun 2014 06:21:29 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15051 Has it really been three years already?!? It seems like just yesterday we were roaming around the country on a month long Amtrak pass searching for a vintage bus to become our next home on wheels. After 4 years of traveling in smaller travel trailers and having just spent a winter living in the US Virgin Islands, we knew that we were not ready give up life on the road. We were however ready for more mobile space. Just not too much space. We fantasized about finding a motorhome in the 25′ – 32′ range, and we really had no interest in either slides or class-C style rigs. We just wanted a solidly built comfortable home optimized for two working-on-the-road geeks. Unfortunately, new or used, none of the commercially manufactured rigs we had ever seen really appealed to us at all. Usable “work” space was unheard of, and typical construction standards in our target price range seemed more suited to three-weekends-a-year usage, not full time living. The desire for a more solidly built home inevitably led us to bus conversions, and our desire to stay as small as feasible is actually what first led us to vintage buses. We had to go way back to the 60′s when 35′ buses were common to find buses we liked, and at first even 35′ felt too big. Modern buses are more typically 40′ or 45′ — way too large for us! Along the way – we fell in love with the styling and uniqueness of vintage buses, and we began to love the idea of keeping an old classic alive and on the road. We figured if we could find a livable vintage bus conversion, we could then invest our money into modifying it – building our own ideal high tech home on wheels, our way. Three years ago today, after a lot of (literal!) blood, sweat, and tears learning to prime a 2-stroke diesel engine to even take a short test drive – we handed over $8000 in cash in parking lot in exchange for the title to a 1961 GM 4106 and a bill of sale scribbled on scrap paper. We looked at each other, not sure if we should celebrate or freak out… we now owned a bus older than we are! It was a mystery bus without much known mechanical history, and we were relative bus novices too with so much to come up to speed on. We were brave and crazy, and we loved it. In the 115+ degree desert heat of Yuma, AZ we drove our new acquisition on its rotted tires to the nearest RV Park to start the adventure of figuring just what we had gotten ourselves into. And an adventure indeed it has been. The bus that would eventually come to be known as ‘Zephyr’ immediately needed a lot of work to be road worthy – new tires & wheels, all fluids changed out, and all rubber replaced. We considered it all part of the acquisition cost of our bus, and not knowing much about diesel engines or the history of this one, we also immediately banked around $20k for the likelihood of major future engine work. After having spent just $8,000 to buy her – we still felt like we were getting a good deal. Costs of  Zephyr We get asked all of the time how much it costs to acquire, maintain, and remodel a bus conversion. And while that’s a personal question unique to our own style and approach - we’ve been happy to share along the way. Here’s all of the costs we’ve incurred on bringing Zephyr up to date, ongoing maintenance, and our remodeling projects to make her our own: (For those reading in RSS or e-mail delivery, you may need to click through to the full post to see the embedded spread sheet.) All and all, we’re pleased as punch with what we’ve spent, and we feel we’re under budget from what we projected our costs would be when we approached this project three years ago. Yes – we know that we could have done it a LOT cheaper, and we could have also spent way more as well. But we did it our way (queue Frank Sinatra!) – striking our own balance of do-it-yourself and professional work, with costs spread out over a few years. Of course, we also still have some major projects left to complete – solar panels (coming soon!), upgrading the lithium ion battery bank, and eventually adding a diesel hydronic heating system (but honestly, we’ve been rocking it with an electric space heater and running the water heater off electric). Some other cost metrics for the past 3 years: 22,615 miles traveled (average of 7538/year) $13,136 spent on fuel (average of $4378/year) 3100 gallons of diesel (average of 1033/year) Average fuel economy: 7.29 mpg Prior to the bus, we traveled with a truck/Jeep and trailer combination, and did get much better fuel economy (often 12-18 mpg). But we also used to travel 10-13k miles a year in those setups. With the change to the bus, we intended to slow down the pace to 8-9k miles per  year – and we’ve exceeded that with averaging out at around 7500. We put about the same mileage per year on our MINI Cooper, which gets 33+ mpg. Zephyr plus the Mini has proven to be a great setup for us. Reflections on 3-Years It’s been an amazing 3 years living and traveling in Zephyr. We’ve been able to balance working on bus projects in stages while incorporating in a life full of exploration, work projects and quality time with amazing people. Some of the unexpected attributes of the past 3 years in a vintage bus: Each bus project represents a different story in place and time – a unique memory and personal touch from whoever serendipity brought into our lives to help us out with it. We look around at what we’ve created, and it’s really a bus that has been built by a network of friends made across the country. How admired Zephyr has been – whether driving down the road and gaining smiles & waves from passerby’s, or ogling in campgrounds or parking lots. We don’t seem to be able to make a stop without someone pointing at us, or approaching us. While we intentionally choose a unique looking substrate and usually enjoy it, there are honestly times we wish we could mask the bus to look like a more generic RV just to blend in a bit more. Maybe some Bounder camouflage? How accepted Zephyr is. So many folks warned us that driving an RV over 10 years old would get us kicked out of RV Parks. So far, it hasn’t happened once. The few RV Parks we’ve needed to stay at with the dreaded ‘over 10 year rule’ we call or e-mail ahead and send the park manager to our Zephyr page for a tour. We have always passed muster as being a restored and well maintained classic, not the feared ‘old’ RVs that might break down in their park and cause problems. That said, generally speaking, we favor places without such rules anyway. How much more comfortable it is to stay in commercial RV Parks than it ever was in our previous small trailers. With abundant & comfortable interior space, it’s easier to forget that we have another RV parked just feet away from us. Not that we necessarily enjoy the experience, but it has vastly opened up our options to be where we need to be without going stir crazy. How accessible parts have been. Owning a vintage bus can present challenges in finding parts when you need repairs or upgrades. Thus far, nearly every part we’ve needed replaced has been a fairly standard part obtainable with only a bit of searching. We can even generally find what we need in truck supply shops – thank you GM for using standard stuff! Yes, things will get scarcer as time goes on, but it has been easier than we feared. And the online community of fellow bus nuts is awesome when it comes to helping track things down! Would we Do it Again? This is now the longest we’ve lived in the same mobile vessel, and it’s hard to believe it’s already been 3 years. We really have no temptation to switch to anything else right now. We’re incredibly comfortable in this home on wheels we’ve built. Sure, there are times we visit fellow RVing friends who have several slides, and we get envy at being able to host a group for an evening. But we then hear many of the same friends having substantial trouble with their slides, reminding ourselves why we specifically didn’t want slides in the first place. We really are truly blessed to have found Zephyr on that hot summer day in Yuma – with such a well thought out the floor plan. So many have commented at how spacious and open she feels, despite being a 96″ narrow body 35′ coach. And the intelligently designed storage space we have is incredibly ample and efficient. After now having attended several RV rallies and toured the coaches of many fellow RVers – we’ve yet to see a coach that even rivals what we have. Without getting into $250k+ (new price) coaches, we’ve not found anything that feels as close to the quality of our conversion or the amazing floor plan that works so well for us. For the $75k we’ve put into Zephyr so far, we feel we have gotten one heck of a home on wheels that enjoys regularly changing awesome views. So heck yes.. we’d do it again! Should You Get a Vintage Bus? We get asked this question all the time too, and have had folks write us letting us know they too purchased a bus after being inspired by us. Owning a bus is an odyssey all its own, and a labor of love. It is definitely not for everyone. Here are some things to keep in mind about a vintage bus: They were built for commercial service and are heavy duty machines meant to be maintained by a revenue generating business. Yes, you may be able to buy them fairly cheap – but there will be extensive costs & effort required to keep one on the road. We’ve been averaging about $2600/year in general maintenance – outside of major engine repairs or factoring in replacing tires every 6-7 years. This seems to be a bit more than what our friends with regular diesel pusher motorhomes pay, but we’ve not conducted an exhaustive survey on that. And an engine rebuild can easily set you back at least $8k if you luck into breaking down where you can do the work yourself – or upwards of $20k to have it done in a certified shop by a professional with a warranty. Skilled mechanics for older engines like our Detroit Diesel 8V71 2-stroke are aging out of the profession. These engines were still installed and used up until the mid-1980s, but are now becoming rare. If you take on a vintage engine, make sure you are soaking up resources, connections and skillsets as you go – you will need them! Make a point to get to know & participate in the bus conversion community, they can be your greatest asset for information when you need it. You’ll hear this phrase over and over in regards to a diesel engine – ‘It’ll run and run and run, as long as you keep up with your preventative maintenance.’ Yeah well, true..  Until they don’t.  There’s no guarantees that come with these things, and no extended warranty company is going to cover a coach this old. You’re on your own for all repairs, and there’s a lot that can go wrong – have a plan. Will a major break down take you off the road, or do you have the resources to deal with it? Are you willing to take the chance without having the cash tucked away to deal with major repair bills? Can you handle a disruption in your travels while you deal with an unexpected derailment? At the very least, make sure you have towing insurance – we use Coach-Net. No matter how much cash you throw at a vintage bus conversion, the return on that ‘investment’ is very low. A vintage bus, with rare exceptions, will still be a vintage bus at the end of the day. And it can take years to find a buyer for one if you ever do want to sell. Yes. Years. Any house that is undergoing constant earthquake conditions is going to have problems that need to be corrected regularly – that’s just the nature of the beast with any RV. And each manufacturer and model will have its own challenges in getting service and parts. With all the of the problems we’ve had with our bus – from two minor air system problems to a major engine rebuild, we can point to dozens of other major RV setbacks our friends have undergone too. Some actually even more extreme, more expensive and longer to take care of. A rebuild on a more modern diesel engine? It can also set you back $10-15k, but will probably present you with more accessible resources. And heck, a regular sticks-n-bricks house can need major repairs and remodeling too. We look at our engine rebuild to be on par with a new roof on a house and some remodeling projects. Thank you Zephyr, you’ve been an amazing partner on the road – cheers to many many more years together! The Story of our Bus: Why we sold our Oliver  Why a Vintage Bus? Our Search for a Vintage Bus Buying our Bus To Tow or Not To Tow (a vehicle behind) Remodeling & Projects: Interior Remodeling: Round 1 Interior Remodeling: Round 2 – Dual Desk Our Lithium Iron Battery (LFP) Research, Cost Analysis and Installation 7 Months in a Bus (Review of bus life, plus maintenance & remodeling costs so far) Our Propane Free Goal Kitchen & Bathroom Remodel Project Dominoes – Simple Refrigerator Replacement sparks 33 other projects Our Mobile Internet Gadgetry Setup All of the Engine Rebuild Articles Shopping & Installing RV Seats in Elkhart, IN The Master Tech Marathon (major electrical re-wiring project) Take a Video Tour of our Bus (only slightly out of date):]]>

Has it really been three years already?!?

Our first look at Zephyr!

Our first look at Zephyr!

It seems like just yesterday we were roaming around the country on a month long Amtrak pass searching for a vintage bus to become our next home on wheels.

After 4 years of traveling in smaller travel trailers and having just spent a winter living in the US Virgin Islands, we knew that we were not ready give up life on the road. We were however ready for more mobile space.

Just not too much space.

We fantasized about finding a motorhome in the 25′ – 32′ range, and we really had no interest in either slides or class-C style rigs. We just wanted a solidly built comfortable home optimized for two working-on-the-road geeks.

Unfortunately, new or used, none of the commercially manufactured rigs we had ever seen really appealed to us at all. Usable “work” space was unheard of, and typical construction standards in our target price range seemed more suited to three-weekends-a-year usage, not full time living.

The desire for a more solidly built home inevitably led us to bus conversions, and our desire to stay as small as feasible is actually what first led us to vintage buses. We had to go way back to the 60′s when 35′ buses were common to find buses we liked, and at first even 35′ felt too big. Modern buses are more typically 40′ or 45′ — way too large for us!

Priming the engine to take our test drive.

Priming the engine to take our test drive.

Along the way – we fell in love with the styling and uniqueness of vintage buses, and we began to love the idea of keeping an old classic alive and on the road.

We figured if we could find a livable vintage bus conversion, we could then invest our money into modifying it – building our own ideal high tech home on wheels, our way.

Three years ago today, after a lot of (literal!) blood, sweat, and tears learning to prime a 2-stroke diesel engine to even take a short test drive – we handed over $8000 in cash in parking lot in exchange for the title to a 1961 GM 4106 and a bill of sale scribbled on scrap paper.

We looked at each other, not sure if we should celebrate or freak out… we now owned a bus older than we are!

It was a mystery bus without much known mechanical history, and we were relative bus novices too with so much to come up to speed on. We were brave and crazy, and we loved it.

What have we gotten into??

What have we gotten into??

In the 115+ degree desert heat of Yuma, AZ we drove our new acquisition on its rotted tires to the nearest RV Park to start the adventure of figuring just what we had gotten ourselves into. And an adventure indeed it has been.

The bus that would eventually come to be known as ‘Zephyr’ immediately needed a lot of work to be road worthy – new tires & wheels, all fluids changed out, and all rubber replaced. We considered it all part of the acquisition cost of our bus, and not knowing much about diesel engines or the history of this one, we also immediately banked around $20k for the likelihood of major future engine work.

After having spent just $8,000 to buy her – we still felt like we were getting a good deal.

Costs of  Zephyr

We get asked all of the time how much it costs to acquire, maintain, and remodel a bus conversion. And while that’s a personal question unique to our own style and approach - we’ve been happy to share along the way.

Here’s all of the costs we’ve incurred on bringing Zephyr up to date, ongoing maintenance, and our remodeling projects to make her our own:

(For those reading in RSS or e-mail delivery, you may need to click through to the full post to see the embedded spread sheet.)

Interior Before & After

Interior Before & After

New floors going in!

New floors going in!

All and all, we’re pleased as punch with what we’ve spent, and we feel we’re under budget from what we projected our costs would be when we approached this project three years ago. Yes – we know that we could have done it a LOT cheaper, and we could have also spent way more as well.

But we did it our way (queue Frank Sinatra!) – striking our own balance of do-it-yourself and professional work, with costs spread out over a few years.

Of course, we also still have some major projects left to complete – solar panels (coming soon!), upgrading the lithium ion battery bank, and eventually adding a diesel hydronic heating system (but honestly, we’ve been rocking it with an electric space heater and running the water heater off electric).

Some other cost metrics for the past 3 years:

  • 22,615 miles traveled (average of 7538/year)
  • $13,136 spent on fuel (average of $4378/year)
  • 3100 gallons of diesel (average of 1033/year)
  • Average fuel economy: 7.29 mpg

Prior to the bus, we traveled with a truck/Jeep and trailer combination, and did get much better fuel economy (often 12-18 mpg).

But we also used to travel 10-13k miles a year in those setups. With the change to the bus, we intended to slow down the pace to 8-9k miles per  year – and we’ve exceeded that with averaging out at around 7500. We put about the same mileage per year on our MINI Cooper, which gets 33+ mpg. Zephyr plus the Mini has proven to be a great setup for us.

Reflections on 3-Years

It’s been an amazing 3 years living and traveling in Zephyr. We’ve been able to balance working on bus projects in stages while incorporating in a life full of exploration, work projects and quality time with amazing people.

Some of the unexpected attributes of the past 3 years in a vintage bus:

  • Each bus project represents a different story in place and time – a unique memory and personal touch from whoever serendipity brought into our lives to help us out with it. We look around at what we’ve created, and it’s really a bus that has been built by a network of friends made across the country.
IMG_0608 IMG_2160 IMG_1133 IMG_4231 IMG_2031 IMG_7555 IMG_5041 IMG_2141 IMG_1788
  • How admired Zephyr has been – whether driving down the road and gaining smiles & waves from passerby’s, or ogling in campgrounds or parking lots. We don’t seem to be able to make a stop without someone pointing at us, or approaching us. While we intentionally choose a unique looking substrate and usually enjoy it, there are honestly times we wish we could mask the bus to look like a more generic RV just to blend in a bit more. Maybe some Bounder camouflage?
  • How accepted Zephyr is. So many folks warned us that driving an RV over 10 years old would get us kicked out of RV Parks. So far, it hasn’t happened once. The few RV Parks we’ve needed to stay at with the dreaded ‘over 10 year rule’ we call or e-mail ahead and send the park manager to our Zephyr page for a tour. We have always passed muster as being a restored and well maintained classic, not the feared ‘old’ RVs that might break down in their park and cause problems. That said, generally speaking, we favor places without such rules anyway.
  • How much more comfortable it is to stay in commercial RV Parks than it ever was in our previous small trailers. With abundant & comfortable interior space, it’s easier to forget that we have another RV parked just feet away from us. Not that we necessarily enjoy the experience, but it has vastly opened up our options to be where we need to be without going stir crazy.
  • How accessible parts have been. Owning a vintage bus can present challenges in finding parts when you need repairs or upgrades. Thus far, nearly every part we’ve needed replaced has been a fairly standard part obtainable with only a bit of searching. We can even generally find what we need in truck supply shops – thank you GM for using standard stuff! Yes, things will get scarcer as time goes on, but it has been easier than we feared. And the online community of fellow bus nuts is awesome when it comes to helping track things down!

Would we Do it Again?

This is now the longest we’ve lived in the same mobile vessel, and it’s hard to believe it’s already been 3 years. We really have no temptation to switch to anything else right now. We’re incredibly comfortable in this home on wheels we’ve built.

We love our castle on wheels!

We love our castle on wheels!

Sure, there are times we visit fellow RVing friends who have several slides, and we get envy at being able to host a group for an evening. But we then hear many of the same friends having substantial trouble with their slides, reminding ourselves why we specifically didn’t want slides in the first place.

We really are truly blessed to have found Zephyr on that hot summer day in Yuma – with such a well thought out the floor plan. So many have commented at how spacious and open she feels, despite being a 96″ narrow body 35′ coach. And the intelligently designed storage space we have is incredibly ample and efficient.

After now having attended several RV rallies and toured the coaches of many fellow RVers – we’ve yet to see a coach that even rivals what we have. Without getting into $250k+ (new price) coaches, we’ve not found anything that feels as close to the quality of our conversion or the amazing floor plan that works so well for us.

For the $75k we’ve put into Zephyr so far, we feel we have gotten one heck of a home on wheels that enjoys regularly changing awesome views.

So heck yes.. we’d do it again!

Should You Get a Vintage Bus?

We get asked this question all the time too, and have had folks write us letting us know they too purchased a bus after being inspired by us.

Owning a bus is an odyssey all its own, and a labor of love. It is definitely not for everyone.

Here are some things to keep in mind about a vintage bus:

  • Constant maintenance.

    Constant maintenance.

    They were built for commercial service and are heavy duty machines meant to be maintained by a revenue generating business. Yes, you may be able to buy them fairly cheap – but there will be extensive costs & effort required to keep one on the road. We’ve been averaging about $2600/year in general maintenance – outside of major engine repairs or factoring in replacing tires every 6-7 years. This seems to be a bit more than what our friends with regular diesel pusher motorhomes pay, but we’ve not conducted an exhaustive survey on that. And an engine rebuild can easily set you back at least $8k if you luck into breaking down where you can do the work yourself – or upwards of $20k to have it done in a certified shop by a professional with a warranty.

  • Skilled mechanics for older engines like our Detroit Diesel 8V71 2-stroke are aging out of the profession. These engines were still installed and used up until the mid-1980s, but are now becoming rare. If you take on a vintage engine, make sure you are soaking up resources, connections and skillsets as you go – you will need them! Make a point to get to know & participate in the bus conversion community, they can be your greatest asset for information when you need it.
  • Do you have the resources  (skills, patience and funds) to deal with this?

    Do you have the resources (skills, patience and funds) to deal with this?

    You’ll hear this phrase over and over in regards to a diesel engine – ‘It’ll run and run and run, as long as you keep up with your preventative maintenance.’ Yeah well, true..  Until they don’t.  There’s no guarantees that come with these things, and no extended warranty company is going to cover a coach this old. You’re on your own for all repairs, and there’s a lot that can go wrong – have a plan. Will a major break down take you off the road, or do you have the resources to deal with it? Are you willing to take the chance without having the cash tucked away to deal with major repair bills? Can you handle a disruption in your travels while you deal with an unexpected derailment? At the very least, make sure you have towing insurance – we use Coach-Net.

  • No matter how much cash you throw at a vintage bus conversion, the return on that ‘investment’ is very low. A vintage bus, with rare exceptions, will still be a vintage bus at the end of the day. And it can take years to find a buyer for one if you ever do want to sell. Yes. Years.

Any house that is undergoing constant earthquake conditions is going to have problems that need to be corrected regularly – that’s just the nature of the beast with any RV. And each manufacturer and model will have its own challenges in getting service and parts.

With all the of the problems we’ve had with our bus – from two minor air system problems to a major engine rebuild, we can point to dozens of other major RV setbacks our friends have undergone too. Some actually even more extreme, more expensive and longer to take care of. A rebuild on a more modern diesel engine? It can also set you back $10-15k, but will probably present you with more accessible resources.

And heck, a regular sticks-n-bricks house can need major repairs and remodeling too. We look at our engine rebuild to be on par with a new roof on a house and some remodeling projects.

Lightpainting by Ben & Karen Willmore.

Lightpainting by Ben & Karen Willmore.

Thank you Zephyr, you’ve been an amazing partner on the road – cheers to many many more years together!

The Story of our Bus:

Why we sold our Oliver 
Why a Vintage Bus?
Our Search for a Vintage Bus
Buying our Bus
To Tow or Not To Tow (a vehicle behind)

Remodeling & Projects:

Interior Remodeling: Round 1
Interior Remodeling: Round 2 – Dual Desk
Our Lithium Iron Battery (LFP) Research, Cost Analysis and Installation
7 Months in a Bus (Review of bus life, plus maintenance & remodeling costs so far)
Our Propane Free Goal
Kitchen & Bathroom Remodel
Project Dominoes – Simple Refrigerator Replacement sparks 33 other projects
Our Mobile Internet Gadgetry Setup
All of the Engine Rebuild Articles
Shopping & Installing RV Seats in Elkhart, IN
The Master Tech Marathon (major electrical re-wiring project)

Take a Video Tour of our Bus (only slightly out of date):

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The Fleetwood & GLAMARAMA Rally http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/the-fleetwood-glamarama-rally/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/06/the-fleetwood-glamarama-rally/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 03:32:56 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=15073 We swear.. we’re not becoming rally people! But when the Wynn’s invited us to join them for the Fleetwood rally they were presenting at in Goshen, IN – we couldn’t resist attending our 3rd major rally this spring. After years of blog stalking each other, we finally got to meet up for dinner a couple months ago as we were both passing through Georgia. This would be a perfect opportunity to get more time together, and check out another style of rally too. We met up in Goshen for early entry on Monday, which gave us two chill days together before the rally officially started. We decided to park our RVs ‘awning to awning’ so that we’d have a shared yard space for hanging out, sharing meals, co-working and letting our cats mingle. Kiki, Singa and Cleo got along pretty well, as well as cats can anyway. At least there’s wasn’t too much hissing. And it was pretty evident from the beginning, this was going to be an amazing time getting to know Nikki & Jason better. The rally itself was on the same fairgrounds where we had just attended the Escapade, and was similarly attended in terms of numbers. However, this rally was actually a meshing of two smaller ones – the Fleetwood Motorhome Association and the Great Lakes Area Motorhome Association (i.e.. GLAMA). The Fleetwood rally had lost their other venue and the two merged rather last minute. Seminars! Seminars! Seminars! Given the chaos of merging two rallies with two different schedules together, it came together pretty well. But there was a lot of confusion, as different versions of the schedule with different information were floating around.. which led to seminars being less attended than anticipated. Jason & Nikki were signed up to present 4 different presentations (Boondocking Tips, Solar for Newbies, Kitchen Gadgets and Top 5 Destinations). However given the scheduling debacle, they ended up with a bonus time slot. That open time slot was Saturday morning at 9am – definitely not night owl friendly. We offered to brave the morning hours with them, and co-present on a topic we both know lots about – Working on the Road!  Since we weren’t sure how many rally attendees were interested in earning incomes on the road (many tend to be retired), we decided to also livestream the presentation to our readers. We were really surprised with how well attended and engaged our audience was – both live and on video! It definitely seemed to be a welcomed and needed topic, and personally I think the four of us totally rocked it, especially considering we put the material together last minute. Not to mention that whole morning thing. Here’s an archive of that presentation, if you’d like to hear what we had to say: (Direct Video Link) We also stayed afterwards and did a live video Q&A session, if you want even more Gone with the Wynns & Technomadia goodness! If you’d like to be notified when we schedule our live video chats, which sometimes we do rather last minute, be sure you’re on our video notification e-mail list. Our friends the Geeks on Tour were also presenting at the this rally, and invited us to participate. For their ‘Tech for Travelers’ overview seminar, they had us present on mobile internet – a topic we know a thing or two about. And we also assisted them on a presentation about Harvest Hosts, sharing about some of our recent stays at a winery and an air museum. So, for not having planned to attend this rally a week prior - we ended up contributing to three different seminars. Fun! We do love presenting, it’s so much fun to share with others and help educate. Touring Coaches One of the reasons we went with our vintage bus was because at the time, there were slim pickings for well constructed motorhomes 35′ and under with appealing designs. It’s always fun to have an opportunity to tour the latest and greatest and see how the manufacturers are coming along. Fleetwood had a good selection of all of their current floor plans on display, so we spent some time with Nikki & Jason touring them and hearing their perspective after now having traveled in a new 33′ Fleetwood Excursion for the past 6 months to help give the company feedback about what younger RVers are desiring. We were impressed with some of the Bounder & Excursion floor plans that integrate in L-shaped collapsable couches that create a separate living area from the dining/kitchen and bedroom. And it seems some other manufactures are also playing around with this concept and innovating making comfortable living spaces in a compact space. But what’s still missing is usable work space. With more and more pre-retirement folks hitting the road and combining work & travel, this just seems like a market that remains mostly ignored by the RV industry. Heck, the boomer generation is retiring now in mass numbers – and many are armed with computers and a desire to do part time work, keep in touch with family, blog, participate in social media, and other desk oriented tasks. It’s rare to see anything but a laptop nook or dining room table to cater to those who need a spot to set up shop. While spending $100-200k for a new house on wheels is not insurmountable for a career focused professional replacing a sticks-n-bricks home, needing to immediately remodel one to accommodate usable workspace can become an obstacle. Who wants to rip out or modify the interior of a brand new rig? Those desiring office space still tend to lean towards converting an at least slightly older coach. But of course, in this class of entry level motorhome – the construction quality is a bit on the low end. Quite honestly, most of the ones we toured just didn’t feel solid. Mis-aligned cabinet doors, wonky shelving, filmy feeling walls, flooring that easily gets scratched up, and non well integrated systems. It’s hard to imagine many of these vehicles being in good enough shape 10 years from now to be worthwhile keeping on the road… especially if used for full-timing. Not to mention the off-gassing smell of the construction materials. I was getting quite the headache after touring just a few new coaches. We’ll stick with our vintage bus conversion, thank you very much… which we’ve now had 3 years this weekend. Stay tuned for a post summarizing our thoughts after of living in our bus a few years, including our maintenance and remodeling costs. Other Rally Fun Probably the best thing about attending rallies is meeting people, and then seeing them again at future rallies. Each rally we’ve attended has gotten more and more fun, simply because we know more people. And that’s awesome. Some random shots from around the rally… random bits of mayhem left out to protect the innocent.     What’s Next? We’re now off on our adventure of exploring Michigan. Two summers ago we started in Madison, WI and explored parts of the UP and then the gorgeous west coast of Michigan. It was part of secret mission, ‘Operation: Dip Toes’ - a special present for my father before he passed away. So this time around, we’re exploring the upper east coast along Lake Huron. We’ll be aiming for Tawas later this week to meet up with some friends, and then keep heading north into the UP. We hope to rendezvous again with the Nikki & Jason, who are setting off to explore the western shoreline. Along the way we’ll be finding scenic and quiet spots to super focus on re-writing The Mobile Internet Handbook, and testing out cell phone boosting gear in weak signal areas.]]>
The 'Under 35' section of the rally.  (We weren't sure if they meant age, or RV length.)

The ‘Under 35′ section of the rally. (It took us a moment to realize they meant RV length, not age.)

We swear.. we’re not becoming rally people! But when the Wynn’s invited us to join them for the Fleetwood rally they were presenting at in Goshen, IN – we couldn’t resist attending our 3rd major rally this spring.

After years of blog stalking each other, we finally got to meet up for dinner a couple months ago as we were both passing through Georgia. This would be a perfect opportunity to get more time together, and check out another style of rally too.

We met up in Goshen for early entry on Monday, which gave us two chill days together before the rally officially started.

One of many converged meals shared.

One of many converged meals shared.

We decided to park our RVs ‘awning to awning’ so that we’d have a shared yard space for hanging out, sharing meals, co-working and letting our cats mingle. Kiki, Singa and Cleo got along pretty well, as well as cats can anyway. At least there’s wasn’t too much hissing.

And it was pretty evident from the beginning, this was going to be an amazing time getting to know Nikki & Jason better.

The rally itself was on the same fairgrounds where we had just attended the Escapade, and was similarly attended in terms of numbers. However, this rally was actually a meshing of two smaller ones – the Fleetwood Motorhome Association and the Great Lakes Area Motorhome Association (i.e.. GLAMA). The Fleetwood rally had lost their other venue and the two merged rather last minute.

Seminars! Seminars! Seminars!

Given the chaos of merging two rallies with two different schedules together, it came together pretty well. But there was a lot of confusion, as different versions of the schedule with different information were floating around.. which led to seminars being less attended than anticipated.

Jason & Nikki presenting on Solar.

Jason & Nikki presenting on Solar.

Jason & Nikki were signed up to present 4 different presentations (Boondocking Tips, Solar for Newbies, Kitchen Gadgets and Top 5 Destinations). However given the scheduling debacle, they ended up with a bonus time slot.

That open time slot was Saturday morning at 9am – definitely not night owl friendly. We offered to brave the morning hours with them, and co-present on a topic we both know lots about – Working on the Road!  Since we weren’t sure how many rally attendees were interested in earning incomes on the road (many tend to be retired), we decided to also livestream the presentation to our readers.

We were really surprised with how well attended and engaged our audience was – both live and on video! It definitely seemed to be a welcomed and needed topic, and personally I think the four of us totally rocked it, especially considering we put the material together last minute. Not to mention that whole morning thing.

Here’s an archive of that presentation, if you’d like to hear what we had to say:


(Direct Video Link)

We also stayed afterwards and did a live video Q&A session, if you want even more Gone with the Wynns & Technomadia goodness!

If you’d like to be notified when we schedule our live video chats, which sometimes we do rather last minute, be sure you’re on our video notification e-mail list.

Us helping Chris & Jim present on Harvest Hosts.

Us helping Chris & Jim present on Harvest Hosts.

Our friends the Geeks on Tour were also presenting at the this rally, and invited us to participate. For their ‘Tech for Travelers’ overview seminar, they had us present on mobile internet – a topic we know a thing or two about.

And we also assisted them on a presentation about Harvest Hosts, sharing about some of our recent stays at a winery and an air museum.

So, for not having planned to attend this rally a week prior - we ended up contributing to three different seminars. Fun! We do love presenting, it’s so much fun to share with others and help educate.

Touring Coaches

L-shaped living area in some new motorhome floor plans.

L-shaped living area in some new motorhome floor plans.

One of the reasons we went with our vintage bus was because at the time, there were slim pickings for well constructed motorhomes 35′ and under with appealing designs. It’s always fun to have an opportunity to tour the latest and greatest and see how the manufacturers are coming along.

Fleetwood had a good selection of all of their current floor plans on display, so we spent some time with Nikki & Jason touring them and hearing their perspective after now having traveled in a new 33′ Fleetwood Excursion for the past 6 months to help give the company feedback about what younger RVers are desiring.

The Fleetwood Excursion 35B had an innovative floor plan with living area, and bar stools.

The Fleetwood Excursion 35B had an innovative floor plan with living area, and bar stools.  This one was our favorite.

We were impressed with some of the Bounder & Excursion floor plans that integrate in L-shaped collapsable couches that create a separate living area from the dining/kitchen and bedroom.

And it seems some other manufactures are also playing around with this concept and innovating making comfortable living spaces in a compact space.

But what’s still missing is usable work space. With more and more pre-retirement folks hitting the road and combining work & travel, this just seems like a market that remains mostly ignored by the RV industry. Heck, the boomer generation is retiring now in mass numbers – and many are armed with computers and a desire to do part time work, keep in touch with family, blog, participate in social media, and other desk oriented tasks.

It’s rare to see anything but a laptop nook or dining room table to cater to those who need a spot to set up shop.

A Frieghtliner chasis on display... the foundation of many modern motorhomes.

A Frieghtliner chasis on display… the foundation of many modern motorhomes.

While spending $100-200k for a new house on wheels is not insurmountable for a career focused professional replacing a sticks-n-bricks home, needing to immediately remodel one to accommodate usable workspace can become an obstacle.

Who wants to rip out or modify the interior of a brand new rig? Those desiring office space still tend to lean towards converting an at least slightly older coach.

But of course, in this class of entry level motorhome – the construction quality is a bit on the low end. Quite honestly, most of the ones we toured just didn’t feel solid. Mis-aligned cabinet doors, wonky shelving, filmy feeling walls, flooring that easily gets scratched up, and non well integrated systems.

Ahh.. found the perfect word!

It’s hard to imagine many of these vehicles being in good enough shape 10 years from now to be worthwhile keeping on the road… especially if used for full-timing.

Not to mention the off-gassing smell of the construction materials. I was getting quite the headache after touring just a few new coaches.

We’ll stick with our vintage bus conversion, thank you very much… which we’ve now had 3 years this weekend. Stay tuned for a post summarizing our thoughts after of living in our bus a few years, including our maintenance and remodeling costs.

Other Rally Fun

Probably the best thing about attending rallies is meeting people, and then seeing them again at future rallies. Each rally we’ve attended has gotten more and more fun, simply because we know more people. And that’s awesome.

Some random shots from around the rally… random bits of mayhem left out to protect the innocent. :)

IMG_2338

RVillage Meetup

 

Geeks on Tour, Gone with the Wynns, Technomadia and the RV Doctor. (photo courtesy of Jim Guld)

Geeks on Tour, Gone with the Wynns, Technomadia and the RV Doctor. (photo courtesy of Jim Guld)

Full moon on Friday the 13th? Of course we need fire dance!  (Jason is seeing if fire will power his solar panels)

Full moon on Friday the 13th? Of course we need fire dance! (Jason is hoping fire will power his solar panels).  Our RVing friend Sean Heiney also created a video at the rally from his perspective, which ends with the fire performance.

Chris inspecting Jason's solar install, and pointing out installation mistakes.

Chris inspecting Jason’s solar install, and pointing out installation mistakes – Jason will be reporting on these soon.

 

Parting is sweet sorrow... but we know we'll see these guys again! New friends for life, no doubt. (photo courtesy of Jason Wynn)

The best part of this rally? Solidifying a new dear and long-lasting friendship. (photo courtesy of Jason Wynn)

Our friend Sean teaching us how to navigate around Michigan.

Sean preparing us nomads to navigate around Michigan.

What’s Next? We’re now off on our adventure of exploring Michigan. Two summers ago we started in Madison, WI and explored parts of the UP and then the gorgeous west coast of Michigan. It was part of secret mission, ‘Operation: Dip Toes’ - a special present for my father before he passed away.

So this time around, we’re exploring the upper east coast along Lake Huron. We’ll be aiming for Tawas later this week to meet up with some friends, and then keep heading north into the UP. We hope to rendezvous again with the Nikki & Jason, who are setting off to explore the western shoreline.

Along the way we’ll be finding scenic and quiet spots to super focus on re-writing The Mobile Internet Handbook, and testing out cell phone boosting gear in weak signal areas.

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