Technomadia http://www.technomadia.com Adventures in Nomadic Serendipity Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:05:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Following the Mississippi River – Memphis & Columbus http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/following-the-mississippi-river-memphis-columbus/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/following-the-mississippi-river-memphis-columbus/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 07:12:57 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14559 We were on our way to Memphis to rendezvous with our friends Kristin & Jason when we had our ‘brake-down’. Chilling in Memphis After getting back on the road nearly 24-hours later, we made the final two hour drive and happily parked next to our neighbors who assisted in our rescue! While we had big ambitions to tour Memphis, eat some BBQ and maybe catch some Blues – we just couldn’t get the energy up. We were simply exhausted. Especially after arriving to Tom Sawyer RV Park (our review) in West Memphis, AR and realizing what a gem it was.  We had a waterfront spot, with barges pushing up and down the Mississippi in front of us. On top of a wonderfully scenic view, we just loved the park. It’s very well kept up, well managed and clearly the owners have paid attention to what RVers want. The WiFi was fast, and worked reasonably well when the winds weren’t blowing. There were lots of maintained hiking trails. Two tree houses to explore – one right on the water’s edge (my favorite!). And ..  free laundry!! Their laundry facility was not only one of the cleanest public laundromats we’ve encountered, the machines were exceptionally high-tech. I even ended up giving lessons to fellow campers on how to use them. And did we mention.. free?? So, we spent our time catching up on sleep, resting, watching barges, hiking and doing laundry. As Kristin & Jason had an out of town friend visiting, they did the exploring for us. We enjoyed our catch-ups with them and hearing tales of their adventures. Sometimes, that’s just enough and we have to honor our homebodied nature. And we obviously weren’t the only ones who had discovered the charms of Tom Sawyer’s RV Park – as soon as we pulled in and checked into RVillage.com, we discovered two other couples also checked into the park who we didn’t know in advance. Sweet!! So, we scheduled an RVillage Happy Hour Get-Together in one of the campground’s tree houses. It was perfect, and great to meet up with folks. All and all, we had 9 in attendance, including some locals who are gearing up to RV in a few years.  It just warmed our hearts to see the potential of RVillage play out so perfectly, and so soon after launch! (RVillage is now up to over 6300 members, and has been endorsed by Escapee’s and Workamper News!! Wow!) Our stay here was absolutely perfect, and we’d definitely return in a heartbeat. Heck, toss in a hot tub at this place, and we’d likely never leave. Well, at least until Old Muddy flooded her banks and floated us away. Columbus-Belmont State Park The Snowmads headed on to St. Louis as Kristin’s parents were inbound to meet up with them – and Chris’ folks wouldn’t be arriving back to St. Louis after their Florida winter until later in the week. So we took the opportunity to stop at Columbus-Belmont State Park (our review) in Kentucky.  Also along the Mississippi River, but on a bluff. We had actually stayed here back in 2009 on a trip back to the Oliver factory for tweaks and enjoyed it. Our two night stay was tranquil and peaceful. We had very limited cellular signal – almost no Verizon, and just some faint but boostable AT&T HSPA+ (4G).  Enough that we decided to cancel our live video chat we had scheduled and focus on non-computer time. We enjoyed some hiking, some reading and watching the sunsets. The one thing we didn’t like however was how sloped the sites were – particularly ours. Even putting out all of our wood blocks, we were still pointed downwards. To their credit, Reserve America has all sites in the campground marked as ‘slightly sloped’ – but this was a bit more than ‘slight’ in our opinion. We ended up sleeping backwards in bed – which did afford us nice morning views of the river. And onward… On Friday morning we continued up the Great River Road to St. Louis, where we’ve been ever since. We’ll continue the tales later. What’s Next?  We actually have no clue. Our next solid plan is Burning Man at the end of August, and then hosting at Cape Blanco Lighthouse in Oregon for September & August. We’ll be working our way west in general over the coming months – but we have no plan or destinations in mind. We’ll probably do a bit of casual caravanning with Kristin & Jason, and there’s talk of possibly following Route 66 to Albuquerque from here. But, nothing is firm and we’ll figure it out as we go!]]>

We were on our way to Memphis to rendezvous with our friends Kristin & Jason when we had our ‘brake-down’.

Chilling in Memphis

After getting back on the road nearly 24-hours later, we made the final two hour drive and happily parked next to our neighbors who assisted in our rescue!

Our beautiful waterfront spot next to The Snowmads - as seen from a treehouse!

Our beautiful waterfront spot next to The Snowmads (the Airstream) – as seen from a treehouse!

While we had big ambitions to tour Memphis, eat some BBQ and maybe catch some Blues – we just couldn’t get the energy up. We were simply exhausted.

Especially after arriving to Tom Sawyer RV Park (our review) in West Memphis, AR and realizing what a gem it was.  We had a waterfront spot, with barges pushing up and down the Mississippi in front of us.

Our view at Tom Sawyer's RV Park.

Our view at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park.

On top of a wonderfully scenic view, we just loved the park. It’s very well kept up, well managed and clearly the owners have paid attention to what RVers want. The WiFi was fast, and worked reasonably well when the winds weren’t blowing. There were lots of maintained hiking trails. Two tree houses to explore – one right on the water’s edge (my favorite!).

Free high-tech clean laundry!!

We don’t usually include photos of campground laundromats – but this one is worthy.

And ..  free laundry!! Their laundry facility was not only one of the cleanest public laundromats we’ve encountered, the machines were exceptionally high-tech. I even ended up giving lessons to fellow campers on how to use them. And did we mention.. free??

Super impressed with how well spaced the spots where - each had an unobstructed water view.

Super impressed with how well spaced the spots where – each had an unobstructed water view.

So, we spent our time catching up on sleep, resting, watching barges, hiking and doing laundry.

As Kristin & Jason had an out of town friend visiting, they did the exploring for us. We enjoyed our catch-ups with them and hearing tales of their adventures. Sometimes, that’s just enough and we have to honor our homebodied nature.

And we obviously weren’t the only ones who had discovered the charms of Tom Sawyer’s RV Park – as soon as we pulled in and checked into RVillage.com, we discovered two other couples also checked into the park who we didn’t know in advance. Sweet!!

The first RVillage Get-Together hosted in a Tree House!

The first RVillage Get-Together hosted in a Tree House!

So, we scheduled an RVillage Happy Hour Get-Together in one of the campground’s tree houses. It was perfect, and great to meet up with folks. All and all, we had 9 in attendance, including some locals who are gearing up to RV in a few years.  It just warmed our hearts to see the potential of RVillage play out so perfectly, and so soon after launch! (RVillage is now up to over 6300 members, and has been endorsed by Escapee’s and Workamper News!! Wow!)

Tom Sawyer's RV Park gets the Kiki seal of approval!

Tom Sawyer’s RV Park gets the Kiki seal of approval!

Our stay here was absolutely perfect, and we’d definitely return in a heartbeat. Heck, toss in a hot tub at this place, and we’d likely never leave. Well, at least until Old Muddy flooded her banks and floated us away.

Columbus-Belmont State Park

Our bluff view of the Mississippi River from Columbus-Belmont State Park.

Our bluff view of the Mississippi River from Columbus-Belmont State Park.

The Snowmads headed on to St. Louis as Kristin’s parents were inbound to meet up with them – and Chris’ folks wouldn’t be arriving back to St. Louis after their Florida winter until later in the week. So we took the opportunity to stop at Columbus-Belmont State Park (our review) in Kentucky.  Also along the Mississippi River, but on a bluff.

We had actually stayed here back in 2009 on a trip back to the Oliver factory for tweaks and enjoyed it.

No internet?? Whatever shall we do??

No internet?? Whatever shall we do??

Our two night stay was tranquil and peaceful. We had very limited cellular signal – almost no Verizon, and just some faint but boostable AT&T HSPA+ (4G).  Enough that we decided to cancel our live video chat we had scheduled and focus on non-computer time.

Watching sunsets over the bluff.

Watching sunsets over the bluff.

More bluff views.

More bluff views.

We enjoyed some hiking, some reading and watching the sunsets.

This is no illusion. We really were this unlevel.

This is no illusion. We really were this unlevel.

The one thing we didn’t like however was how sloped the sites were – particularly ours. Even putting out all of our wood blocks, we were still pointed downwards. To their credit, Reserve America has all sites in the campground marked as ‘slightly sloped’ – but this was a bit more than ‘slight’ in our opinion.

We ended up sleeping backwards in bed – which did afford us nice morning views of the river.

And onward…

Lunch stop along the Mississippi River in Chester, MO. (No, we didn't have spinach.)

Lunch stop along the Mississippi River in Chester, IL. (No, we didn’t have spinach.)

On Friday morning we continued up the Great River Road to St. Louis, where we’ve been ever since. We’ll continue the tales later.

What’s Next?  We actually have no clue. Our next solid plan is Burning Man at the end of August, and then hosting at Cape Blanco Lighthouse in Oregon for September & August. We’ll be working our way west in general over the coming months – but we have no plan or destinations in mind. We’ll probably do a bit of casual caravanning with Kristin & Jason, and there’s talk of possibly following Route 66 to Albuquerque from here. But, nothing is firm and we’ll figure it out as we go!

]]>
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An Unexpected Brake-Down http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/an-unexpected-brake-down/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/an-unexpected-brake-down/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 05:04:09 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14506 Our last travelogue post ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. We started the morning off in Hohenwald, TN driving south on the beautiful Natchez Trace for a few miles, and we then headed westward on Highway 64 towards Memphis to rendezvous with our dear friends Kristin & Jason, who we hadn’t seen since our shared time in Cedar Key earlier this year. It was an easy drive.. beautiful weather, cruising along a nice divided 4 lane highway through tranquil countryside. And then it happened. Pwooooosh! In a matter of mere seconds, all of the air in our bus let out and as the alarm buzzer sounded the Mini-Max emergency spring brakes automatically engaged. Chris skillfully pulled the bus to the side of the road, but commented as he did that there was no additional braking power – the main service brakes were completely soft. While the spring brakes were slowing us down, he was actually eyeing a guardrail up ahead to potentially ram us into to stop.  I was at the ready to hop out as soon as the bus slowed down enough to grab the chocks and toss them under the bus. Thankfully, we were on flat road and such heroics were not called for. We came to a complete stop, and I got us chocked… just in case. We took a deep breath, looked each other in the eyes and said: ‘Not Again’ ‘We got this’. We were already dealing with feeling overwhelmed, and really didn’t need another adventure like this. But we also knew that freaking out wouldn’t help matters. Chris began to diagnosing the situation, while I started spreading the word online to solicit local resources and second opinions. Diagnosing on the Side of the Road Since we had just had work done to our air systems in Chattanooga at Choo Choo Express Garage – including a new air compressor & governor, and an air dryer added – those systems seemed like the most obvious culprit. But the sudden whoosh of air out of the braking system didn’t seem to match the symptoms of an air compressor failure. We had had a governor stick on us before during our early bus days, and it was a more slow release of air pressure that still gave us manual braking power to get safely to a stop. Chris got on the phone with Choo Choo, who started a conversation with the supplier of the rebuilt air compressor. They assured us that if the problem was the air compressor, it was completely covered under warranty. And Choo Choo assisted in a bit of troubleshooting. Meanwhile, our online bus community was making remote guesses ranging from a blown air line to a sheered pin in the compressor gearing. A local bus nut affectionally known as ‘Busted Knuckles’ made phone contact with us and offered his ear and local resources for parts suppliers. It’s always so reassuring to have friends help out in such situations – and the online bus community is overall awesome. At this point, it was getting late in the afternoon and nearing the closing of most business hours. We still had no definitive answer as to whether the problem was with the new compressor, or a blown line somewhere else in the system. The bus started and ran just fine, and though the compressor was confirmed to be putting out some air - the air gauge remained stubbornly at zero psi, and there were no obviously audible leaks over the sound of the engine either. Further diagnosing the compressor would involve fully removing it, which is doable but tricky - and reassembling it properly would require a new gasket which we did not have onboard. So it was a bit of a speculative gamble if it turned out not to be the cause. We decided we wanted instead to get a higher powered air compressor onsite to try and manually air things up and test out the blown line theory. Our little automotive compressor from the Mini Cooper wasn’t doing the trick. So… with the day progressing on, we placed the call to Coach-Net – our emergency roadside service dedicated to motorhomes. They helped us out tremendously when our engine overheated and made proper arrangements then to get us hauled to Billings for last summer’s 7 week engine rebuild. They informed us with air system problems, they always deploy a mobile mechanic first and that doing so doesn’t take away our option of later having a wrecker service covered if we need to be hauled into a shop. That’s a very cool policy. We weren’t ready to resign to needing to be hauled, and really just wanted some additional eyes on the situation. Koenig’s Towing & Recovery service out of Savannah, TN showed up, and helped us with the diagnostics. Using our spare air line, we hooked up his heavy duty onboard compressor to verify that no air pressure would build in the system – pointing to a blown line somewhere. The mechanic Ron then got to work underneath our bus inspecting all the lines, and found a valve dangling – blown off the end of the primary air supply line. It was a Bendix TR-3, which is the rear spring brake inversion valve. As we understand it – this little gizmo is responsible for automatically engaging the rear air brakes whenever the rear spring brakes are engaged (whether as parking brakes or in an emergency).  In an emergency, this valve will divert the last remaining air to the rear brakes to assist in braking. After all, the springs alone only provide about 60% braking power. The threading to the main air intake on this valve had been stripped and it had blown right off, likely due to a former (before us owning the bus) bad installation with the valve not mounted to the rear bulkhead as securely as it should have been. The new air compressor and governor may have contributed to this part failing by putting more sustained higher pressures into the air lines, but this was likely destined to fail eventually anyway. But fortunately for us it happened in the best possible of conditions – while we were on flat 4-lane roads with wide shoulders and little traffic. If this had happened on a steep hill or in heavy traffic, things could have gotten messy. Oh, and we had cell service! That was a huge plus compared to our engine overheating last summer, where the nearest cellular tower was 20 miles away. We were able to verify that the Bendix TR-3 is a relatively widely available still current heavy truck part. However, by this time of day, all resources within range were closed. There was no fixing the problem that night. Our mechanic apologized profusely for needing to leave us still on the side of the road, and then charged us $150 for an hour of his time troubleshooting.  We vowed to hit the phones first thing in the morning to track down the closest TR-3 option. Our friends Kristin & Jason told us that if a part was to be found in Memphis, they’d be happy to bring it out to us. The Next Morning Instead of staying in the bus at a tilted angle on a fairly busy highway, we opted to head into the nearby town of Bolivar and indulge in a motel room and take long hot showers. Kiki would be fine for a few hours overnight on her own, and more comfortable in the bus than in a motel room. Sometimes, just because you CAN stay in your house no matter where it is … doesn’t mean you have to. And this was absolutely the right decision for us. At 7am, we were on the phones tracking down the valve – and found a couple options. The most promising was at Fleet Pride in Memphis, and Kristin & Jason were at the ready to pick it up for us and drive it out. I offered to hop in the Mini Cooper and meet them halfway, but they assured us they wanted to join us onsite and hang out a bit. We certainly weren’t saying no to hugs from friends! The timing worked out great.  Just as Chris was researching how to install this thing, including properly blocking the bus while underneath… Coach-Net called to get a status report. They pro-actively offered to cover another service call by the mobile mechanic. And since he knew what he had taken apart, we felt that paying his hourly labor rate was probably worthwhile instead of having Chris shimmy under the bus on the side of the road with large trucks speeding by just a few feet away. Kristin & Jason (and pups) arrived about the same time that Ron the mechanic did and we got to quick work. The install should have taken just 15 minutes, but Ron discovered that at some point the old Bendix valve had been drilled out to use an oversized fitting, the new one would need a different connector piece to install properly. Stuck without it, he headed into Bolivar to seek out such a part. That left the rest of us catching up on the side of the road after a couple months of being apart. Not exactly how we imagined reconnecting – but then again, stories of how things went smoothy rarely get retold. We are very blessed with dear friends who kept us entertained instead of pacing while Ron was out shopping. We’d of course do the same, and have, for friends. Back on the Road After visiting 5 different hardware and automotive stores in Bolivar, Ron was at last able to find the fitting he needed to make the new valve mate with our old air system plumbing.. and with the fitting in hand he quickly got it installed. We fired up the engine, and things aired up exactly as they are meant to. We did some testing of the brakes to confirm. Hooray!  Fixed. We paid Ron for 2 hours of his time, unfortunately the bulk of it spent hunting for a fitting. Sure, we could have done the shopping ourselves – but we would have still either paid Ron to sit on the side of the road until we got back or paid for another service call ourselves or had to handle the repair ourselves. This brought the cost of this little adventure to a $600 repair bill, especially painful on top of the $1800 we just spent at Choo Choo. We were happy to pay it and get on our way. We’ll still need to seek out a pit somewhere soon to have other valves in our system inspected just in case anything else is wrong, and to have the new Bendix TR-3 properly mounted to the bulkhead so it too doesn’t prematurely strip out. We made the final 2 hour drive into Memphis and finally joined up with the Snowmads as temporary neighbors. And as soon as we landed, Apple informed us our new app US Public Lands had been approved. No rest for the weary! Is a Bus Worth It? After the past year we’ve had, we honestly did have thoughts in the beginning of this ordeal of ‘what are we doing?’… ‘is it time to give this vintage bus nomadic thing up?’ Maybe it’s time to find another cool sublet somewhere, like we did in the Virgin Islands 3 years ago? Maybe this time, somewhere with a hot tub?? But we were reminded that any lifestyle has bumps in the road. In a stationery house, it could have easily been an appliance failure, an air conditioner quitting on the hottest day of the year, or an overflowing toilet causing stress. There’s no escape from the finality of machined parts. They will break at some point. You can only hope it happens at a time that has the least negative impact. And for that, we feel extremely blessed that this failure happened along a wide flat road, and not while traversing the mountains. Less than 24-hours on the side of the road, and we were back on the road.. and off to new adventures. It’s all good. (But if you do have a cool opportunity available with a hot tub… do let us know.. we might just be tempted!) Live Video Chat Re-Scheduled We got to our next location to discover we didn’t have enough bandwidth to host the live video chat we had scheduled… so we rescheduled it for THIS Thursday instead. We hope you’ll join us! When : April 24, Thurs @t 8:30 pm CST (6:30pm PST / 9:30pm EST) Topic: Blogging for RVers     To blog.. or not to blog? There seems to be RVers starting blogs all the time, but is starting one right for you? We’ll discuss the various motivations behind blogging – from keeping family & friends up to date, keeping a record of your adventures to generating an income. We’ll share some of the rewards of blogging and some of the challenges. We’ll also briefly discuss the various blogging platforms out there – and how to choose what is right for your motivations and technical skill sets. As always, a general Q&A to follow.  ]]>

Our last travelogue post ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.

When you own a vintage bus.. you just gotta get used to this.

When you own a vintage bus.. you gotta get used to this.

We started the morning off in Hohenwald, TN driving south on the beautiful Natchez Trace for a few miles, and we then headed westward on Highway 64 towards Memphis to rendezvous with our dear friends Kristin & Jason, who we hadn’t seen since our shared time in Cedar Key earlier this year.

It was an easy drive.. beautiful weather, cruising along a nice divided 4 lane highway through tranquil countryside.

And then it happened.

Pwooooosh!

In a matter of mere seconds, all of the air in our bus let out and as the alarm buzzer sounded the Mini-Max emergency spring brakes automatically engaged.

Chris skillfully pulled the bus to the side of the road, but commented as he did that there was no additional braking power – the main service brakes were completely soft. While the spring brakes were slowing us down, he was actually eyeing a guardrail up ahead to potentially ram us into to stop.  I was at the ready to hop out as soon as the bus slowed down enough to grab the chocks and toss them under the bus.

Thankfully, we were on flat road and such heroics were not called for. We came to a complete stop, and I got us chocked… just in case.

We took a deep breath, looked each other in the eyes and said: ‘Not Again’ ‘We got this’.

We were already dealing with feeling overwhelmed, and really didn’t need another adventure like this. But we also knew that freaking out wouldn’t help matters.

Chris began to diagnosing the situation, while I started spreading the word online to solicit local resources and second opinions.

Diagnosing on the Side of the Road

Since we had just had work done to our air systems in Chattanooga at Choo Choo Express Garage – including a new air compressor & governor, and an air dryer added – those systems seemed like the most obvious culprit.

Chris troubleshooting.

Chris troubleshooting.

But the sudden whoosh of air out of the braking system didn’t seem to match the symptoms of an air compressor failure. We had had a governor stick on us before during our early bus days, and it was a more slow release of air pressure that still gave us manual braking power to get safely to a stop.

Chris got on the phone with Choo Choo, who started a conversation with the supplier of the rebuilt air compressor. They assured us that if the problem was the air compressor, it was completely covered under warranty. And Choo Choo assisted in a bit of troubleshooting.

Meanwhile, our online bus community was making remote guesses ranging from a blown air line to a sheered pin in the compressor gearing. A local bus nut affectionally known as ‘Busted Knuckles’ made phone contact with us and offered his ear and local resources for parts suppliers. It’s always so reassuring to have friends help out in such situations – and the online bus community is overall awesome.

At this point, it was getting late in the afternoon and nearing the closing of most business hours. We still had no definitive answer as to whether the problem was with the new compressor, or a blown line somewhere else in the system. The bus started and ran just fine, and though the compressor was confirmed to be putting out some air - the air gauge remained stubbornly at zero psi, and there were no obviously audible leaks over the sound of the engine either.

Further diagnosing the compressor would involve fully removing it, which is doable but tricky - and reassembling it properly would require a new gasket which we did not have onboard. So it was a bit of a speculative gamble if it turned out not to be the cause. We decided we wanted instead to get a higher powered air compressor onsite to try and manually air things up and test out the blown line theory. Our little automotive compressor from the Mini Cooper wasn’t doing the trick.

So… with the day progressing on, we placed the call to Coach-Net – our emergency roadside service dedicated to motorhomes. They helped us out tremendously when our engine overheated and made proper arrangements then to get us hauled to Billings for last summer’s 7 week engine rebuild.

Our mobile mechanic under our bus.. on the side of the road. Totally worth $150/hr.

Our mobile mechanic under our bus.. on the side of the road. Totally worth $150/hr, all things considered.

They informed us with air system problems, they always deploy a mobile mechanic first and that doing so doesn’t take away our option of later having a wrecker service covered if we need to be hauled into a shop. That’s a very cool policy.

We weren’t ready to resign to needing to be hauled, and really just wanted some additional eyes on the situation.

Koenig’s Towing & Recovery service out of Savannah, TN showed up, and helped us with the diagnostics. Using our spare air line, we hooked up his heavy duty onboard compressor to verify that no air pressure would build in the system – pointing to a blown line somewhere. The mechanic Ron then got to work underneath our bus inspecting all the lines, and found a valve dangling – blown off the end of the primary air supply line.

It was a Bendix TR-3, which is the rear spring brake inversion valve.

As we understand it – this little gizmo is responsible for automatically engaging the rear air brakes whenever the rear spring brakes are engaged (whether as parking brakes or in an emergency).  In an emergency, this valve will divert the last remaining air to the rear brakes to assist in braking. After all, the springs alone only provide about 60% braking power.

Ah-hah! Here's the culprit!

Ah-hah! Here’s the culprit!

The threading to the main air intake on this valve had been stripped and it had blown right off, likely due to a former (before us owning the bus) bad installation with the valve not mounted to the rear bulkhead as securely as it should have been.

The new air compressor and governor may have contributed to this part failing by putting more sustained higher pressures into the air lines, but this was likely destined to fail eventually anyway.

But fortunately for us it happened in the best possible of conditions – while we were on flat 4-lane roads with wide shoulders and little traffic. If this had happened on a steep hill or in heavy traffic, things could have gotten messy.

Oh, and we had cell service! That was a huge plus compared to our engine overheating last summer, where the nearest cellular tower was 20 miles away.

We were able to verify that the Bendix TR-3 is a relatively widely available still current heavy truck part. However, by this time of day, all resources within range were closed. There was no fixing the problem that night.

Our mechanic apologized profusely for needing to leave us still on the side of the road, and then charged us $150 for an hour of his time troubleshooting.  We vowed to hit the phones first thing in the morning to track down the closest TR-3 option. Our friends Kristin & Jason told us that if a part was to be found in Memphis, they’d be happy to bring it out to us.

The Next Morning

Kristin & Jason - bringing us our part from Memphis. Friends.... rock!

Kristin & Jason – bringing us our part from Memphis. Friends…. rock!

Instead of staying in the bus at a tilted angle on a fairly busy highway, we opted to head into the nearby town of Bolivar and indulge in a motel room and take long hot showers. Kiki would be fine for a few hours overnight on her own, and more comfortable in the bus than in a motel room.

Sometimes, just because you CAN stay in your house no matter where it is … doesn’t mean you have to. And this was absolutely the right decision for us.

At 7am, we were on the phones tracking down the valve – and found a couple options. The most promising was at Fleet Pride in Memphis, and Kristin & Jason were at the ready to pick it up for us and drive it out. I offered to hop in the Mini Cooper and meet them halfway, but they assured us they wanted to join us onsite and hang out a bit. We certainly weren’t saying no to hugs from friends!

The timing worked out great.  Just as Chris was researching how to install this thing, including properly blocking the bus while underneath… Coach-Net called to get a status report.

They pro-actively offered to cover another service call by the mobile mechanic. And since he knew what he had taken apart, we felt that paying his hourly labor rate was probably worthwhile instead of having Chris shimmy under the bus on the side of the road with large trucks speeding by just a few feet away.

No need to freak out... blow bubbles instead!

No need to freak out… blow bubbles instead!

Kristin & Jason (and pups) arrived about the same time that Ron the mechanic did and we got to quick work. The install should have taken just 15 minutes, but Ron discovered that at some point the old Bendix valve had been drilled out to use an oversized fitting, the new one would need a different connector piece to install properly. Stuck without it, he headed into Bolivar to seek out such a part.

That left the rest of us catching up on the side of the road after a couple months of being apart. Not exactly how we imagined reconnecting – but then again, stories of how things went smoothy rarely get retold. We are very blessed with dear friends who kept us entertained instead of pacing while Ron was out shopping.

We’d of course do the same, and have, for friends.

Back on the Road

On the road again! Testing everything out before hitching up again

On the road again! Testing everything out before hitching up again

After visiting 5 different hardware and automotive stores in Bolivar, Ron was at last able to find the fitting he needed to make the new valve mate with our old air system plumbing.. and with the fitting in hand he quickly got it installed.

We fired up the engine, and things aired up exactly as they are meant to. We did some testing of the brakes to confirm. Hooray!  Fixed.

We paid Ron for 2 hours of his time, unfortunately the bulk of it spent hunting for a fitting. Sure, we could have done the shopping ourselves – but we would have still either paid Ron to sit on the side of the road until we got back or paid for another service call ourselves or had to handle the repair ourselves.

This brought the cost of this little adventure to a $600 repair bill, especially painful on top of the $1800 we just spent at Choo Choo.

We were happy to pay it and get on our way.

We’ll still need to seek out a pit somewhere soon to have other valves in our system inspected just in case anything else is wrong, and to have the new Bendix TR-3 properly mounted to the bulkhead so it too doesn’t prematurely strip out.

We made the final 2 hour drive into Memphis and finally joined up with the Snowmads as temporary neighbors.

And as soon as we landed, Apple informed us our new app US Public Lands had been approved. No rest for the weary!

Is a Bus Worth It?

After the past year we’ve had, we honestly did have thoughts in the beginning of this ordeal of ‘what are we doing?’… ‘is it time to give this vintage bus nomadic thing up?’

Maybe it’s time to find another cool sublet somewhere, like we did in the Virgin Islands 3 years ago? Maybe this time, somewhere with a hot tub??

So very thankful that this happened on a flat road with wide shoulders. It could have been much worse.

So very thankful that this happened on a flat road with wide shoulders. It could have been much worse.

But we were reminded that any lifestyle has bumps in the road. In a stationery house, it could have easily been an appliance failure, an air conditioner quitting on the hottest day of the year, or an overflowing toilet causing stress.

There’s no escape from the finality of machined parts. They will break at some point.

You can only hope it happens at a time that has the least negative impact. And for that, we feel extremely blessed that this failure happened along a wide flat road, and not while traversing the mountains.

Less than 24-hours on the side of the road, and we were back on the road.. and off to new adventures.

It’s all good.

(But if you do have a cool opportunity available with a hot tub… do let us know.. we might just be tempted!)

Live Video Chat Re-Scheduled

We got to our next location to discover we didn’t have enough bandwidth to host the live video chat we had scheduled… so we rescheduled it for THIS Thursday instead. We hope you’ll join us!

live-video-youtube-thumbnail-graphic

When : April 24, Thurs @t 8:30 pm CST
(6:30pm PST / 9:30pm EST)

Topic: Blogging for RVers

 

Click to Join (our Video Chat Center)

 

To blog.. or not to blog? There seems to be RVers starting blogs all the time, but is starting one right for you?

We’ll discuss the various motivations behind blogging – from keeping family & friends up to date, keeping a record of your adventures to generating an income. We’ll share some of the rewards of blogging and some of the challenges. We’ll also briefly discuss the various blogging platforms out there – and how to choose what is right for your motivations and technical skill sets.

As always, a general Q&A to follow.

 

]]>
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‘US Public Lands’ Now Available for Android too! http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/us-public-lands-now-available-for-android/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/us-public-lands-now-available-for-android/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:09:44 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14405 Whenever we post about any of our mobile applications, especially our app ‘Coverage?‘, we end up getting flooded with “what about Android?” requests. Sometimes the Android fans are pretty pushy – saying things like “Don’t you know that Android is the bulk of the market now?!?!” There may technically be more Droid users – but so far as developers we haven’t seen much evidence of it. Last summer Hired Guns Software offered to experiment with a port of our app ‘State Lines‘ to Android, in part to test the market. Other developers had been reporting that Android apps just don’t sell as well as their iOS counterparts. We’ve even had Android users ask for versions of our apps, but admit they’d probably not be interested in paying for them. And sadly, we’ve found that to be true – our iOS version of State Lines typically outsells the Android version more than two to one. ‘Coverage?’ was written in a way that made a port to Android impractical. But when we were designing the internals of ‘US Public Lands‘ we kept portability in mind, and we are thrilled to be able to answer our most frequent FAQ so quickly… Get it Now! $1.99   Thank you Hired Gun Software for completing the Android port so quickly. He is also working on wrapping up a version for the Amazon store too. We have been blown away by the initial responses to the app for iPhone and iPad! We actually rose as high as #2 on the top iPad Travel Apps chart – even briefly eclipsing the indisputably essential ‘Allstays Camp & RV ‘. What a great launch – thank you everyone for your support, enthusiasm and for helping us spread the word! Now, Android users -we encourage you to show Hired Guns Software some love for making this port possible. Can the Android version of ‘US Public Lands’ keep pace, if not outsell, the iOS version?   We are planning to move the iOS version of ‘Coverage?’ to use the same newer core technologies as ‘US Public Lands’, and when we do that an Android port of ‘Coverage?’ will be practical for the first time. If the Android version of ‘US Public Lands’ sells well, this will make the ‘Coverage?’ port an urgent priority. So….  Droids…. stand up and be counted, and show us that the ecosystem can be supportive of independent niche market developers too. Related Articles: Original US Public Lands Announcement – with more information about the app State Lines for Android Announcement More info about Coverage?]]>
Screenshot 8

US Public Lands – Now Available for Android!

Whenever we post about any of our mobile applications, especially our app ‘Coverage?‘, we end up getting flooded with “what about Android?” requests.

Sometimes the Android fans are pretty pushy – saying things like “Don’t you know that Android is the bulk of the market now?!?!”

There may technically be more Droid users – but so far as developers we haven’t seen much evidence of it.

Last summer Hired Guns Software offered to experiment with a port of our app ‘State Lines‘ to Android, in part to test the market. Other developers had been reporting that Android apps just don’t sell as well as their iOS counterparts. We’ve even had Android users ask for versions of our apps, but admit they’d probably not be interested in paying for them.

And sadly, we’ve found that to be true – our iOS version of State Lines typically outsells the Android version more than two to one.

‘Coverage?’ was written in a way that made a port to Android impractical.

But when we were designing the internals of ‘US Public Lands‘ we kept portability in mind, and we are thrilled to be able to answer our most frequent FAQ so quickly…

The Android version of US Public Lands is now READY!

Get it Now!

$1.99

Get it on Google Play

 

And for Android tablets too!

And for Android tablets too!

Thank you Hired Gun Software for completing the Android port so quickly. He is also working on wrapping up a version for the Amazon store too.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 4.50.42 PM

We have been blown away by the initial responses to the app for iPhone and iPad! We actually rose as high as #2 on the top iPad Travel Apps chart – even briefly eclipsing the indisputably essential ‘Allstays Camp & RV ‘.

What a great launch – thank you everyone for your support, enthusiasm and for helping us spread the word!

Now, Android users -we encourage you to show Hired Guns Software some love for making this port possible. Can the Android version of ‘US Public Lands’ keep pace, if not outsell, the iOS version?

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40 Get it on Google Play

We are planning to move the iOS version of ‘Coverage?’ to use the same newer core technologies as ‘US Public Lands’, and when we do that an Android port of ‘Coverage?’ will be practical for the first time.

If the Android version of ‘US Public Lands’ sells well, this will make the ‘Coverage?’ port an urgent priority.

So….  Droids…. stand up and be counted, and show us that the ecosystem can be supportive of independent niche market developers too.

Related Articles:

Original US Public Lands Announcement – with more information about the app

State Lines for Android Announcement

More info about Coverage?

]]>
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Bus Maintenance and Oliver Travel Trailer Factory Tour http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/bus-maintenance-and-oliver-travel-trailer-factory-tour/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/bus-maintenance-and-oliver-travel-trailer-factory-tour/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 04:30:57 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14414 On Tuesday, April 1st – Chris’s 8th Nomadiversary, we departed our sweet little spot at F. D. Roosevelt State Park in Georgia and headed north to Chattanooga.  Our purpose, as it always is, is routine bus chassis maintenance at Choo Choo Express Garage. Choo Choo Bus Maintenance Wednesday morning our mechanic Joel got right to work on giving Zephyr a thorough undercarriage inspection, adjusted the brakes, lubricated everything, and addressed a couple of minor issues. We had some growing concerns about our air system, as the air compressor muffler was starting to spit out a muddy like substance when we purged it after a day’s driving. Joel identified that this was a sign of our air compressor having internal rings going bad thus allowing oil to pass through it. It needed to be replaced as soon as possible (this was one of the few pieces we did not have overhauled last summer). By the end of the day the shop’s owner, Don, has sourced a rebuilt one out of Augusta and we crossed our fingers that it might arrive by Friday morning. Since we would be stuck in the shop awaiting the part anyway, on Thursday we had Joel go ahead and install an air dryer into our system, which keeps moisture out of our brakes and suspension system. This is more modern technology than available in 1961 when our bus was built, and an upgrade we’ve had pending on our list. Come Friday morning we checked the tracking on the air compressor, and learned it wouldn’t make it in until Monday morning after all – and we’d be stuck over the weekend. Camping at Choo Choo is actually not a bad thing, they can toss us a power cord, and it’s generally pretty peaceful  overnight. During our time in the area, we got to meet up with Eric & Brittany of RV Wanderlust - some new to the road nomads, working remotely in online marketing. Many thanks to RVillage for alerting us that we would be crossing paths, we had a great time sharing stories and getting to know one another.   We also took an afternoon and visited the nearby Chickamauga National Military Park – a very eery and overwhelming experience. Nothing like some reminders of a bloody war to put our own little overwhelm in perspective – more people died in this single Civil War battle than in the entirety of the Revolutionary War. But mostly we worked on finishing up our newest mobile app, US Public Lands.  We were on a deadline of April 10th to get it submitted to Apple before we lost our rights to the name we had reserved before the RVillage opportunity came to us. We also greatly enjoyed releasing ourselves from the expectation of being online during our little digital sabbatical.  Ahhhh. On Monday early afternoon, our part arrived and Joel got it installed in quick time. We hit the road without much of a plan and remembered Marion County Park in Jasper, TN just west of Chattanooga. We pulled in, and sure enough we had a panoramic water view on Nickajack Lake all to ourselves. We enjoyed a peaceful night on our own, submitted US Public Lands a few days early to Apple – and we remembered my father who passed away one year ago that day. Oliver Travel Trailers – Back in Production! Since our next major stop over point would be Memphis, TN – we decided to cut through Tennessee and make a stop in Hohenwald, home of Oliver Travel Trailers. Long time readers will recall that we full timed from 2008 – 2011 in one of their 17′ masterpieces that we named Orion. Just after ours was completed, they ceased production due to the economy taking down much of the RV industry and concentrated on other areas of their business. They produced only 47 of the trailers, making them a very rare and sought after item due to their high standards of quality and over-engineering. Since then, they have been thriving in manufacturing high end walk-in bath tubs (yup, the ones you see commercials for with Pat Boone). They’ve been keeping a close eye on on the RV industry, and recently started back up trailer production. We were invited to stop in anytime we like to check things out, and were greeted by our old friend Robert Partee. He treated us to a tour of both the bathtub line and the new Oliver Travel Trailer production line – where they are rolling off their new 23.5′ model trailer. While the new larger format has some really nice new features and upgrades – we’re honestly still partial to the 17′ model. It hit our sweet spot of all of the essentials in the small package we were looking for at the time as an upgrade to our T@b. The new larger trailer is essentially a stretched out version with more headroom – same general layout with a little extra kitchen counter space and a pantry, and a king size bed (or two twins). Had it been an option at the time we were in the market for a trailer – it wouldn’t have appealed to what we were seeking. But it’s definitely hitting a target market, as they can’t keep one in stock as a demo model long enough. If you’re in the market for a high end trailer made for off roading and boondocking, and that will truly last a lifetime – we can’t praise Oliver any higher. After our nearly 3 years of full timing in ours, it still looked brand new the day we sold it – for more than we bought it for! There just aren’t many RV manufacturers out there that take this level of pride, detailed craftsmanship, and focus on customer service out there. While in the area, Oliver put us up at a local campground called Many Cedars Campground, which is a BYOH (bring your own horse) trail riding experience. It’s a beautiful little campground, and we really enjoyed our waterfront spot along the Buffalo River. And to add to our digital sabbatical, we had no cellular reception. It was really nice to go off grid for a couple days. Next time we’ll try to remember to bring a horse so we can go enjoy all the riding trails around there. And Then…. We had a bit of a worry when we left Hohenwald on Thursday to head on westward to Memphis when we discovered that Zephyr’s auxiliary tank wasn’t building air pressure when we fired up the engine. A quick adjustment to a tank valve that we had fiddled with at Choo Choo fixed the problem.. and on we went. Until we didn’t. We’ll continue that story in our next travelogue update… Our next Live Video Chat Join us for our next live video chat this Thursday evening!  We get asked often by new RVers if they should also start a blog, so we thought this might be a fun topic! When : Thursday evening at 8pm CST (6pm PST / 9pm EST) Topic: Blogging for RVers     To blog.. or not to blog? There seems to be RVers starting blogs all the time, but is starting one right for you? We’ll discuss the various motivations behind blogging – from keeping family & friends up to date, keeping a record of your adventures to generating an income. We’ll share some of the rewards of blogging and some of the challenges. We’ll also briefly discuss the various blogging platforms out there – and how to choose what is right for your motivations and technical skill sets. As always, a general Q&A to follow.]]>

On Tuesday, April 1st – Chris’s 8th Nomadiversary, we departed our sweet little spot at F. D. Roosevelt State Park in Georgia and headed north to Chattanooga.  Our purpose, as it always is, is routine bus chassis maintenance at Choo Choo Express Garage.

Choo Choo Bus Maintenance

Our new air dryer.

Our new air dryer.

Wednesday morning our mechanic Joel got right to work on giving Zephyr a thorough undercarriage inspection, adjusted the brakes, lubricated everything, and addressed a couple of minor issues.

We had some growing concerns about our air system, as the air compressor muffler was starting to spit out a muddy like substance when we purged it after a day’s driving. Joel identified that this was a sign of our air compressor having internal rings going bad thus allowing oil to pass through it. It needed to be replaced as soon as possible (this was one of the few pieces we did not have overhauled last summer).

By the end of the day the shop’s owner, Don, has sourced a rebuilt one out of Augusta and we crossed our fingers that it might arrive by Friday morning.

Since we would be stuck in the shop awaiting the part anyway, on Thursday we had Joel go ahead and install an air dryer into our system, which keeps moisture out of our brakes and suspension system. This is more modern technology than available in 1961 when our bus was built, and an upgrade we’ve had pending on our list.

Fun meet-up with RV Wanderlust!

Fun RVillage meet-up with RV Wanderlust!

Come Friday morning we checked the tracking on the air compressor, and learned it wouldn’t make it in until Monday morning after all – and we’d be stuck over the weekend.

Camping at Choo Choo is actually not a bad thing, they can toss us a power cord, and it’s generally pretty peaceful  overnight.

During our time in the area, we got to meet up with Eric & Brittany of RV Wanderlust - some new to the road nomads, working remotely in online marketing.

Many thanks to RVillage for alerting us that we would be crossing paths, we had a great time sharing stories and getting to know one another.

IMG_1727 The Chicamauga Battlefield

We also took an afternoon and visited the nearby Chickamauga National Military Park – a very eery and overwhelming experience. Nothing like some reminders of a bloody war to put our own little overwhelm in perspective – more people died in this single Civil War battle than in the entirety of the Revolutionary War.

Busily writing an app - while stuck in the shop!

Busily writing an app – while stuck in the shop!

But mostly we worked on finishing up our newest mobile app, US Public Lands.  We were on a deadline of April 10th to get it submitted to Apple before we lost our rights to the name we had reserved before the RVillage opportunity came to us.

We also greatly enjoyed releasing ourselves from the expectation of being online during our little digital sabbatical.  Ahhhh.

On Monday early afternoon, our part arrived and Joel got it installed in quick time.

We hit the road without much of a plan and remembered Marion County Park in Jasper, TN just west of Chattanooga.

Lovely Marion County Park in Jasper, TN.

Lovely Marion County Park in Jasper, TN.

We pulled in, and sure enough we had a panoramic water view on Nickajack Lake all to ourselves.

We enjoyed a peaceful night on our own, submitted US Public Lands a few days early to Apple – and we remembered my father who passed away one year ago that day.

Oliver Travel Trailers – Back in Production!

Our beloved Orion – a 2009 Oliver Travel Trailer. Home from 2008 – 2011.

And they say you can't go home...

And they say you can’t go home…

Since our next major stop over point would be Memphis, TN – we decided to cut through Tennessee and make a stop in Hohenwald, home of Oliver Travel Trailers.

Long time readers will recall that we full timed from 2008 – 2011 in one of their 17′ masterpieces that we named Orion. Just after ours was completed, they ceased production due to the economy taking down much of the RV industry and concentrated on other areas of their business.

Lots and lots of walk-in bathtubs, Oliver's other business line.

Lots and lots of walk-in bathtubs, Oliver’s other prime business line.

They produced only 47 of the trailers, making them a very rare and sought after item due to their high standards of quality and over-engineering.

Since then, they have been thriving in manufacturing high end walk-in bath tubs (yup, the ones you see commercials for with Pat Boone).

They’ve been keeping a close eye on on the RV industry, and recently started back up trailer production. We were invited to stop in anytime we like to check things out, and were greeted by our old friend Robert Partee.

IMG_1772

Robert Partee giving us a tour of the new Oliver Travel Trailer production line!

He treated us to a tour of both the bathtub line and the new Oliver Travel Trailer production line – where they are rolling off their new 23.5′ model trailer. While the new larger format has some really nice new features and upgrades – we’re honestly still partial to the 17′ model. It hit our sweet spot of all of the essentials in the small package we were looking for at the time as an upgrade to our T@b.

The new larger trailer is essentially a stretched out version with more headroom – same general layout with a little extra kitchen counter space and a pantry, and a king size bed (or two twins). Had it been an option at the time we were in the market for a trailer – it wouldn’t have appealed to what we were seeking.

But it’s definitely hitting a target market, as they can’t keep one in stock as a demo model long enough.

If you’re in the market for a high end trailer made for off roading and boondocking, and that will truly last a lifetime – we can’t praise Oliver any higher. After our nearly 3 years of full timing in ours, it still looked brand new the day we sold it – for more than we bought it for! There just aren’t many RV manufacturers out there that take this level of pride, detailed craftsmanship, and focus on customer service out there.

Camped along the Buffalo River near the Oliver factory.

Camped along the Buffalo River near the Oliver factory.

While in the area, Oliver put us up at a local campground called Many Cedars Campground, which is a BYOH (bring your own horse) trail riding experience.

It’s a beautiful little campground, and we really enjoyed our waterfront spot along the Buffalo River.

And to add to our digital sabbatical, we had no cellular reception. It was really nice to go off grid for a couple days. Next time we’ll try to remember to bring a horse so we can go enjoy all the riding trails around there.

And Then….

We had a bit of a worry when we left Hohenwald on Thursday to head on westward to Memphis when we discovered that Zephyr’s auxiliary tank wasn’t building air pressure when we fired up the engine. A quick adjustment to a tank valve that we had fiddled with at Choo Choo fixed the problem.. and on we went.

Until we didn’t.

Oops...  maybe we should have picked up an Oliver?

Oops… maybe we should have picked up one of those Olivers?

We’ll continue that story in our next travelogue update…

Our next Live Video Chat

Join us for our next live video chat this Thursday evening!  We get asked often by new RVers if they should also start a blog, so we thought this might be a fun topic!

When : Thursday evening at 8pm CST
(6pm PST / 9pm EST)

Topic: Blogging for RVers

 

Click to Join (our Video Chat Center)

 

To blog.. or not to blog? There seems to be RVers starting blogs all the time, but is starting one right for you?

We’ll discuss the various motivations behind blogging – from keeping family & friends up to date, keeping a record of your adventures to generating an income. We’ll share some of the rewards of blogging and some of the challenges. We’ll also briefly discuss the various blogging platforms out there – and how to choose what is right for your motivations and technical skill sets.

As always, a general Q&A to follow.

]]>
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Introducing: US Public Lands for iPhone/iPad & Android http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/introducing-us-public-lands-for-iphone-ipad/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/introducing-us-public-lands-for-iphone-ipad/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 03:08:41 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14362 Flash back to early June 2007. Just a couple weeks earlier I had left my stationary home in Florida and set off across the country in a small 16′ T@b trailer with Chris. My crazy adventure of full time RVing had just begun, fueled by biodiesel and the “anything is possible” energy of a new romance. After a hectic couple of weeks of the typical newly-on-the-road chaos, we were now exploring on our own schedule.   We were keeping a steady pace, working our way from landmark to landmark on our maiden voyage together – trying to combine seeing as much of this great country as we could while still in a hurry to get to a wedding in California. Capulin Mountain. Check. Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Check. Colorado Monument. Check. We were working our way west into the vast wilderness and abundance of public lands. This particular morning nearly seven years ago, we left Arches National Park in Moab, UT and we didn’t have a specific plan for where we’d stop for the night. This had been Chris’s typical style before we met, but being a planner myself I was still getting used to embracing diving into the unknown. No campgrounds or rest areas were serendipitously found, and as the day was drawing to a close with the sun setting in front of us, I was getting more than a little uneasy. But then Chris mentioned that he thought we were surrounded by lands owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and we could probably park nearby overnight with no worry. He pulled off Interstate 70, and tucked us in on a pull out down a side dirt road. It was our very first night boondocking in the wilds together. After parking, Chris got out to admire the amazing sunset. He kept cajoling me to come out and join him. But I was too nervous. I think I was expecting a bright neon ‘BLM Lands welcomes you, Cherie – rest well!‘ sign or something. Or maybe a park ranger greeting us with wine & cheese and personally inviting us to stay the night? Or at the very least a ‘OK to Camp Here‘ sign. But there was nothing to indicate that we were actually on public land. All I could think was – what if we had pulled on to some rancher’s private road, and he was loading up his rifle now? At the time, I was packing a Windows based smartphone with internet access. We had a horrendously slow very weak 1xRT signal, and I huddled over it missing my first in-the-wild sunset trying to find anything online that would tell me we were ok for the night. But no maps I could access showed local BLM land boundaries. And there was no easy way to cross reference our current location on the rudimentary high level BLM maps I could pull up on their website. Why isn’t there an app for this?!? I could however confirm that the BLM did manage land in this general area. Well, most of Utah it seemed actually, and we were in Utah. Learning that – I was able to get to sleep at last. But I awoke at 5am with nightmares of a sheriff, a rancher, and a cow (don’t ask) banging on our door to rustle us out. I shook Chris awake and told him we had to leave. Now. Flash forward a few years… When we first came up with the idea for our Coverage? app a few years back (it overlays the four major cellular carrier’s data maps) – I immediately remembered the app I craved that first restless night, and wondered if we could do something similar with maps of publicly owned lands. But after a bit of research – we put the idea on the back burner until we could either find time to manually create public land overlays, or perhaps some public domain source of data in a usable format. One morning last summer I stumbled upon the National Atlas, a government run public domain source of cartographic information. One component of the National Atlas included the details and boundaries of federally operated public lands. They even explicitly invite people to make products out of the raw map data! Eureka!!! Just like that first boondocking early morning, I again shook Chris out of his slumber to start brainstorming turning that old app vision into a reality. And now presenting our latest mobile app – ‘US Public Lands’ The US Federal Governments owns nearly 650 million acres of land - almost 30 percent of the land area of the United States. These are lands that are held for all Americans. Up until now, there has been no quick & easy way to retrieve the boundaries of these properties without carrying physical maps, books, or slowly digging deep online. Included in this app are on device (fully works offline), individually selectable & beautifully colored layers for all of the properties administered by the federal government that are more than 640 acres in size: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) US Forest Service (FS) National Park Service (NPS) BLM – National Monuments Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) US Fish & Wildlife Service Bureau of Reclamation Tennessee Valley Authority Department of Defense (military bases & installations) Other (National Laboratories, Test Sites, etc…) Get it now: Key Benefits & Features Know which US agency owns and operates the land you’re on or are heading to. Use the Setting’s ‘gear’ to select which agencies you want displayed to create your own custom map. (Hint, the toggles are color coded to the color each layer is displayed in.) Links are provided to each agency’s website within the app, so that you can further your research as to what land use rules apply for each public land type – such as permits, fees, activities allowed, and limits of stay. Know where boundaries are between public lands and private lands. Map layers are stored on device – no internet connection required. Be sure to turn on the ‘Basic’ base map to see the US Public Land labels for each land area. This base map layer is also stored entirely on your device, and can be utilized if you do not have an internet connection or would like to conserve bandwidth. If you have an internet connection, you can utilize Apple’s standard and satellite view maps as well as the base layer underneath the public land overlays. A boondocker’s assistant – by turning on the Satellite view map, you can better scout out trails, roads and boondock camping locations within the boundaries of the public land resources.  Quickly toggle between ‘Show’ and ‘Hide’ to more clearly see satellite images below. If you have GPS access on your device, click the ‘Locate Me’ arrow to show your present location – know what type of land you’re on right now! Built in search tool locates anything that Apple maps supports (requires internet access) – including cities, states, zip codes, addresses and points of interest. A pin is dropped at the search location. Universal App – iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. iOS 7.1 and higher. Get it now:   \ But US Public Lands isn’t just the guts of ‘Coverage?’ with our layers based upon the National Atlas database instead of cellular coverage maps. US Public Lands has been newly written from the ground up, and is using completely new core technologies for overlaying and organizing data like this. It’s smoother, more advanced, and easily enables more features like satellite maps and a simple fully-offline base map. And… it’s designed to be more portable too!  This means that a version for Android and even a Mac Desktop release will be possible without as much fuss as it would have required trying to migrate the engine behind the original ‘Coverage?’ map overlays. And you betcha, our Android development partner Hired Gun Software has already released an Android version of US Public Lands. And… Now that we’ve designed a new core technology for enabling our mapping apps – we plan for the next release of ‘Coverage?’ to also take advantage of this new engine to gain a bunch of new features. Which means it too will become possible to be ported to Android. Yup, Hired Guns is on that too. Yay! So nearly 7 years later, I can finally rest well knowing – yes indeed, we were on BLM land that restless night long ago. Barely. I’ll let Chris sleep in next time.]]>

Flash back to early June 2007.

Just a couple weeks earlier I had left my stationary home in Florida and set off across the country in a small 16′ T@b trailer with Chris. My crazy adventure of full time RVing had just begun, fueled by biodiesel and the “anything is possible” energy of a new romance.

After a hectic couple of weeks of the typical newly-on-the-road chaos, we were now exploring on our own schedule.

CIMG9411 CIMG9245

Cimg9328 IMGP2712

We were keeping a steady pace, working our way from landmark to landmark on our maiden voyage together – trying to combine seeing as much of this great country as we could while still in a hurry to get to a wedding in California.

  • Capulin Mountain. Check.
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Check.
  • Colorado Monument. Check.

IMGP2708

We were working our way west into the vast wilderness and abundance of public lands.

This particular morning nearly seven years ago, we left Arches National Park in Moab, UT and we didn’t have a specific plan for where we’d stop for the night. This had been Chris’s typical style before we met, but being a planner myself I was still getting used to embracing diving into the unknown.

No campgrounds or rest areas were serendipitously found, and as the day was drawing to a close with the sun setting in front of us, I was getting more than a little uneasy.

But then Chris mentioned that he thought we were surrounded by lands owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and we could probably park nearby overnight with no worry.

He pulled off Interstate 70, and tucked us in on a pull out down a side dirt road. It was our very first night boondocking in the wilds together.

Our first boondocking sunset together.

Our first boondocking sunset together. I’m inside the trailer – a nervous wreck.

After parking, Chris got out to admire the amazing sunset. He kept cajoling me to come out and join him.

But I was too nervous.

I think I was expecting a bright neon ‘BLM Lands welcomes you, Cherie – rest well!‘ sign or something. Or maybe a park ranger greeting us with wine & cheese and personally inviting us to stay the night?

Or at the very least a ‘OK to Camp Here‘ sign.

But there was nothing to indicate that we were actually on public land.

All I could think was – what if we had pulled on to some rancher’s private road, and he was loading up his rifle now?

At the time, I was packing a Windows based smartphone with internet access. We had a horrendously slow very weak 1xRT signal, and I huddled over it missing my first in-the-wild sunset trying to find anything online that would tell me we were ok for the night.

But no maps I could access showed local BLM land boundaries.

Online maps weren't nearly this good back then.. but this was our location.

Online maps weren’t nearly this good back then.. but this was our location.

And there was no easy way to cross reference our current location on the rudimentary high level BLM maps I could pull up on their website.

Why isn’t there an app for this?!?

I could however confirm that the BLM did manage land in this general area. Well, most of Utah it seemed actually, and we were in Utah.

Learning that – I was able to get to sleep at last.

Sure is pretty... but is it BLM?

Sure is pretty… but is it BLM?

But I awoke at 5am with nightmares of a sheriff, a rancher, and a cow (don’t ask) banging on our door to rustle us out.

I shook Chris awake and told him we had to leave.

Now.

Flash forward a few years…

When we first came up with the idea for our Coverage? app a few years back (it overlays the four major cellular carrier’s data maps) – I immediately remembered the app I craved that first restless night, and wondered if we could do something similar with maps of publicly owned lands.

But after a bit of research – we put the idea on the back burner until we could either find time to manually create public land overlays, or perhaps some public domain source of data in a usable format.

One morning last summer I stumbled upon the National Atlas, a government run public domain source of cartographic information. One component of the National Atlas included the details and boundaries of federally operated public lands. They even explicitly invite people to make products out of the raw map data!

Eureka!!!

Just like that first boondocking early morning, I again shook Chris out of his slumber to start brainstorming turning that old app vision into a reality.

And now presenting our latest mobile app – ‘US Public Lands’

The US Federal Governments owns nearly 650 million acres of land - almost 30 percent of the land area of the United States.

These are lands that are held for all Americans.

Up until now, there has been no quick & easy way to retrieve the boundaries of these properties without carrying physical maps, books, or slowly digging deep online.

Included in this app are on device (fully works offline), individually selectable & beautifully colored layers for all of the properties administered by the federal government that are more than 640 acres in size:

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • US Forest Service (FS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • BLM – National Monuments
  • Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE)
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Department of Defense (military bases & installations)
  • Other (National Laboratories, Test Sites, etc…)

Get it now:

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40

Get it on Google Play

Key Benefits & Features

  • Know which US agency owns and operates the land you’re on or are heading to. Use the Setting’s ‘gear’ to select which agencies you want displayed to create your own custom map. (Hint, the toggles are color coded to the color each layer is displayed in.)
  • Links are provided to each agency’s website within the app, so that you can further your research as to what land use rules apply for each public land type – such as permits, fees, activities allowed, and limits of stay.
  • Know where boundaries are between public lands and private lands.
  • Map layers are stored on device – no internet connection required.
    • Be sure to turn on the ‘Basic’ base map to see the US Public Land labels for each land area. This base map layer is also stored entirely on your device, and can be utilized if you do not have an internet connection or would like to conserve bandwidth.
    • If you have an internet connection, you can utilize Apple’s standard and satellite view maps as well as the base layer underneath the public land overlays.
  • A boondocker’s assistant – by turning on the Satellite view map, you can better scout out trails, roads and boondock camping locations within the boundaries of the public land resources.  Quickly toggle between ‘Show’ and ‘Hide’ to more clearly see satellite images below.
  • If you have GPS access on your device, click the ‘Locate Me’ arrow to show your present location – know what type of land you’re on right now!
  • Built in search tool locates anything that Apple maps supports (requires internet access) – including cities, states, zip codes, addresses and points of interest. A pin is dropped at the search location.
  • Universal App – iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. iOS 7.1 and higher.

Get it now:

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40 Get it on Google Play

\

But US Public Lands isn’t just the guts of ‘Coverage?’ with our layers based upon the National Atlas database instead of cellular coverage maps.

US Public Lands has been newly written from the ground up, and is using completely new core technologies for overlaying and organizing data like this. It’s smoother, more advanced, and easily enables more features like satellite maps and a simple fully-offline base map.

And… it’s designed to be more portable too!  This means that a version for Android and even a Mac Desktop release will be possible without as much fuss as it would have required trying to migrate the engine behind the original ‘Coverage?’ map overlays.

And you betcha, our Android development partner Hired Gun Software has already released an Android version of US Public Lands.

And… Now that we’ve designed a new core technology for enabling our mapping apps – we plan for the next release of ‘Coverage?’ to also take advantage of this new engine to gain a bunch of new features. Which means it too will become possible to be ported to Android.

Yup, Hired Guns is on that too. Yay!

publiclands_blm

Close call.. but we were on BLM land that night!

So nearly 7 years later, I can finally rest well knowing – yes indeed, we were on BLM land that restless night long ago.

Barely.

I’ll let Chris sleep in next time.

]]>
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A Spring Break http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/a-spring-break/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/a-spring-break/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 05:20:06 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14324 We thoroughly found a peaceful harbor at F. D. Roosevelt State Park (our review) outside of Pine Mountain, Georgia and we ended up extending our stay there for 10 days. The Georgia Park system strikes a perfect balance for our style. You can reserve in advance online, but you don’t book a specific spot. Upon your arrival, you just pick the spot you want that is open. And as long as there is general availability park wide, you can keep extending your spot for up to 14 days. We’d love to see more campgrounds adopt this sort of flexible reservation system. The park was a perfect setting for us. Our little neighborhood dispersed last Tuesday as The Nealy’s on Wheels and RV-AGoGo headed on.  We enjoyed having a hiking trail start right at our spot, making it super easy to take a break and get a walk in amongst lots of catch-up projects. After managing the launch of RVillage.com since November, and working incredibly long hours these past couple months – we had a lot to catch up on. Including personal and business taxes, two app updates, lots of e-mail, posts to make and completing our next app. App Report Our app State Lines was overdue for an update. It tracks over 50 state laws that affect US based travelers – from seat belts, motorcycles, txting, default speed limits, RVing, overnighting in rest areas, tax rates and alcohol purchasing. This was the first mobile app we created back in 2010 and we continue to utilize it ourselves. We manually research all of the laws each update, which as you can imagine is quite time consuming. Both the iOS Apple version of the app and the Android version are now updated.    Our signature app Coverage? was also due for its regularly scheduled map update, which always involves dozens of hours of lots of detailed labor intensive work. This app overlays cellular data maps from the 4 major carriers on device, so us bandwidth hungry travelers know where to head with our various carriers to keep connected. The update is now live on the iOS App store (sorry Android folks, while a version for you is on the radar – it’s not imminent. Been kinda busy, ya know?)   We’re also in the finishing stages of our next app – which I’m super excited about. It’s something I visualized back in my very first weeks on the road with Chris back in 2007, and I’m so thrilled to see it finally coming together! We are on a rush to get it finished by April 10. You see, we registered the name of the app with Apple back in October when we first started development. If you don’t have the app submitted within 6 months, you loose the name forever! That little thing called RVillage kinda pushed it aside. The Forest and Beyond It was amazing to watch spring emerge around us each day while at F.D. Roosevelt State Park.  As much as we could have just stayed there longer and explore the area, we hardly even left the park we were so heads down on our projects. We did make one adventure to finally meet up with Jason & Nikki of Gone with the Wynns. In all of our years of blog loving on each other and communication, we had never crossed paths in person before. RVillage helped us see we’d be in the same general area of Georgia as they passed through, so we split the difference and met up in the town of Newnan, GA. It was great to finally meet up and spend a few hours putting laughter behind the words. I’m pretty sure it won’t be our last meet-up! But mostly we worked long hours, caught up on some sleep and took hikes. Spring emerging around us was a perfect juxtaposition to the bizarre sort of winter semi-hibernation we’re emerging from.   RVillage is now very successfully launched, we’re out of stealth mode. We’ve totally rocked the initial role we signed on for. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and proud to see our baby making a great splash! And while it’s good to get back to our own projects again, we’re just plum tired. Managing this launch has taken an amazing amount of energy of putting ourselves ‘out there’ wider and further than usual. And keeping something so big under wraps for so long while keeping visible in public – is exhausting. We need a serious re-charge. Our own sort of Spring Break. Of course, the timing of Millenicom’s announcements couldn’t have been more badly timed for us.  We predicted that we’d be getting a lot of questions & expressed frustration about the change, as we’ve been a go-to source for information about this service that is the heart of our mobile internet arsenal. We know they would likely send out an .. umm.. less than informative e-mail that would leave unanswered questions especially when delivered on April Fool’s Day right after billing notices went out for April’s services. We had a choice of either trying to mitigate those questions or we could be constantly hammered from multiple sources trying to explain the situation. The pressure of having recommended a service we authentically love, no matter how much we tried to set expectations that no-contract means no-contract – was immense. And our exhaustion levels where already pretty high. The timing also coincided with the day we would be leaving the campground and repositioning to Chattanooga to visit Choo Choo Express Garage for some routine preventative maintenance on the bus. Not fun to combine a driving day, with exhaustion and trying to sooth the frustration we knew many would have. April 1st was also happened to be Chris’ 8th Nomadiversary – we really would have much preferred writing up a fun and light spirited blog post celebrating the milestone, instead of trying to sooth over the Millenicom frustrations. While most everyone received the news as positively as possible and didn’t shoot the messenger (thank you!!) .. there were a handful who didn’t. Even anticipating it, the negative energy floating about was just too much to handle. And let’s not forget this little detail – this coming Monday will be the 1-year anniversary of my dad’s passing. This week has been full of bittersweet reminders of what the last week with him was like.  To say both Chris and I are at our edge, is an understatement. Taking a Digital Break We’ve decided we’re taking a digital sabbatical for a bit. We’ll be not participating on Facebook personally or professionally.  We’ll not be checking our Technomadia e-mail. We won’t be checking blog comments. We won’t be popping in on forums. And of course, ironically, we won’t be checking into RVillage. We’ll finish up this next nifty app, and we will be back to announce it once it’s live in the App Store. If there’s anything worthwhile sharing, we may post it. But don’t expect much traffic here for the next weeks. But most importantly, we’ll be taking a step back. Regrounding ourselves. Reconnecting. Worshipping Kiki. Remembering my father. And once we’re breathing soundly again, we’ll explore what life looks like post-RVillage launch. We’ll be just fine.  We just need a break.      ]]>

We thoroughly found a peaceful harbor at F. D. Roosevelt State Park (our review) outside of Pine Mountain, Georgia and we ended up extending our stay there for 10 days.

Love this mountain creek hiking trail - accessible right from our doorstep!

Love this mountain creek hiking trail – accessible right from our doorstep!

The Georgia Park system strikes a perfect balance for our style. You can reserve in advance online, but you don’t book a specific spot. Upon your arrival, you just pick the spot you want that is open. And as long as there is general availability park wide, you can keep extending your spot for up to 14 days.

We’d love to see more campgrounds adopt this sort of flexible reservation system.

The park was a perfect setting for us. Our little neighborhood dispersed last Tuesday as The Nealy’s on Wheels and RV-AGoGo headed on.  We enjoyed having a hiking trail start right at our spot, making it super easy to take a break and get a walk in amongst lots of catch-up projects.

After managing the launch of RVillage.com since November, and working incredibly long hours these past couple months – we had a lot to catch up on. Including personal and business taxes, two app updates, lots of e-mail, posts to make and completing our next app.

App Report

Our app State Lines was overdue for an update. It tracks over 50 state laws that affect US based travelers – from seat belts, motorcycles, txting, default speed limits, RVing, overnighting in rest areas, tax rates and alcohol purchasing. This was the first mobile app we created back in 2010 and we continue to utilize it ourselves. We manually research all of the laws each update, which as you can imagine is quite time consuming. Both the iOS Apple version of the app and the Android version are now updated.

Get it on Google Play  

Our signature app Coverage? was also due for its regularly scheduled map update, which always involves dozens of hours of lots of detailed labor intensive work. This app overlays cellular data maps from the 4 major carriers on device, so us bandwidth hungry travelers know where to head with our various carriers to keep connected. The update is now live on the iOS App store (sorry Android folks, while a version for you is on the radar – it’s not imminent. Been kinda busy, ya know?)
 

You might notice that both apps got spiffy new icons! We hired Jeanette of Motorhome Office of Design & Technology to use her creative wizardry to come up with more modern and professional looking icons. We’re really really happy with them, and can’t recommend the experience of working with Jeanette enough. You’ll notice she also created our new Two Steps Beyond logo – which I’m in complete love with.

We’re also in the finishing stages of our next app – which I’m super excited about.

It’s something I visualized back in my very first weeks on the road with Chris back in 2007, and I’m so thrilled to see it finally coming together! We are on a rush to get it finished by April 10. You see, we registered the name of the app with Apple back in October when we first started development. If you don’t have the app submitted within 6 months, you loose the name forever!

That little thing called RVillage kinda pushed it aside.

The Forest and Beyond

It was amazing to watch spring emerge around us each day while at F.D. Roosevelt State Park.  As much as we could have just stayed there longer and explore the area, we hardly even left the park we were so heads down on our projects.

Technomadia & Gone with the Wynns finally meet!

Technomadia & Gone with the Wynns finally meet!

We did make one adventure to finally meet up with Jason & Nikki of Gone with the Wynns. In all of our years of blog loving on each other and communication, we had never crossed paths in person before.

RVillage helped us see we’d be in the same general area of Georgia as they passed through, so we split the difference and met up in the town of Newnan, GA. It was great to finally meet up and spend a few hours putting laughter behind the words. I’m pretty sure it won’t be our last meet-up!

But mostly we worked long hours, caught up on some sleep and took hikes.

Spring emerging around us was a perfect juxtaposition to the bizarre sort of winter semi-hibernation we’re emerging from.

 

IMG_1678 IMG_1660

RVillage is now very successfully launched, we’re out of stealth mode. We’ve totally rocked the initial role we signed on for. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and proud to see our baby making a great splash!

And while it’s good to get back to our own projects again, we’re just plum tired. Managing this launch has taken an amazing amount of energy of putting ourselves ‘out there’ wider and further than usual. And keeping something so big under wraps for so long while keeping visible in public – is exhausting.

We need a serious re-charge. Our own sort of Spring Break.

Oh Millenicom, we love you.. but you can please get a PR person to write your big announcements?

Oh Millenicom, we love you.. but can you please get a PR person to coordinate your big announcements?

Of course, the timing of Millenicom’s announcements couldn’t have been more badly timed for us.  We predicted that we’d be getting a lot of questions & expressed frustration about the change, as we’ve been a go-to source for information about this service that is the heart of our mobile internet arsenal.

We know they would likely send out an .. umm.. less than informative e-mail that would leave unanswered questions especially when delivered on April Fool’s Day right after billing notices went out for April’s services.

We had a choice of either trying to mitigate those questions or we could be constantly hammered from multiple sources trying to explain the situation. The pressure of having recommended a service we authentically love, no matter how much we tried to set expectations that no-contract means no-contract – was immense. And our exhaustion levels where already pretty high.

Over the pit again at Choo Choo. Now they offer free kittens with service!

Over the pit again at Choo Choo. Now they offer free kittens with service! (No, Kiki won’t allow us to adopt this cutie fluff ball.)

The timing also coincided with the day we would be leaving the campground and repositioning to Chattanooga to visit Choo Choo Express Garage for some routine preventative maintenance on the bus.

Not fun to combine a driving day, with exhaustion and trying to sooth the frustration we knew many would have.

April 1st was also happened to be Chris’ 8th Nomadiversary – we really would have much preferred writing up a fun and light spirited blog post celebrating the milestone, instead of trying to sooth over the Millenicom frustrations.

While most everyone received the news as positively as possible and didn’t shoot the messenger (thank you!!) .. there were a handful who didn’t. Even anticipating it, the negative energy floating about was just too much to handle.

And let’s not forget this little detail – this coming Monday will be the 1-year anniversary of my dad’s passing. This week has been full of bittersweet reminders of what the last week with him was like. 

To say both Chris and I are at our edge, is an understatement.

Taking a Digital Break

Appropriate warning sign.. we're at a fragile edge. Please be kind :)

Appropriate warning sign.. we’re at a fragile edge. Please be kind :)

We’ve decided we’re taking a digital sabbatical for a bit. We’ll be not participating on Facebook personally or professionally.  We’ll not be checking our Technomadia e-mail. We won’t be checking blog comments. We won’t be popping in on forums.

And of course, ironically, we won’t be checking into RVillage.

We’ll finish up this next nifty app, and we will be back to announce it once it’s live in the App Store. If there’s anything worthwhile sharing, we may post it. But don’t expect much traffic here for the next weeks.

But most importantly, we’ll be taking a step back. Regrounding ourselves. Reconnecting. Worshipping Kiki. Remembering my father.

And once we’re breathing soundly again, we’ll explore what life looks like post-RVillage launch.

We’ll be just fine.  We just need a break.

 

 

 

]]>
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Millenicom Verizon Hotspot Price Increase – No Joke http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/millenicom-verizon-hotspot-price-increase-no-joke/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/04/millenicom-verizon-hotspot-price-increase-no-joke/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 23:31:05 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14290 Millenicom Verizon Hotspot customers will start receiving e-mails tonight that they will wish was an April Fool’s joke.  The monthly price of our beloved 20GB Hotspot Plan is going up from $69.99 to $89.99/mo for all customers, effective May 1st. We’re actually relieved by this news. But then again, we’ve been privy to some of the details behind the scenes for a few weeks now, and for a while it looked as if things could have been a lot worse. And as late as this afternoon, there was hope there may have been a reprieve.  But alas it’s official now. First of all, blame Verizon. Not Millenicom. In early March, Millenicom started to get complaints from some of their newer accounts that their speeds were painfully slow. After Millenicom tracked it down and talked with their Verizon business representative, they found out that all bulk accounts issued after mid-January were being subject to speed throttling after just 2GB of usage. This new throttling policy wasn’t just being applied to Millenicom, but also to new lines added to other big corporate accounts Verizon services. This obviously would not go over well for Millenicom customers – who wants to buy 20GB of LTE data and only get 2GB at the promised speeds? (The answer would be… no one!) Dennis, CEO of Millenicom, knew this could be a killer for the service he offers. The first thing he did was reassign all of his newer customers to older spare account numbers – so they would be ‘grandfathered in’ to receive their full 20GB at full LTE speeds. As a result, hardly any of his customers even knew there was a problem. He then entered into negotiations with Verizon to come to new terms – which he’s been in right up until this afternoon. The New Price First, the new monthly price is $89.99. A $20 increase.  But this is for a full 20GB of un-throttled high-speed LTE data. This will apply to all existing customers on Verizon plans – current and new ones. The downside of being on a “no contract” service is that there is no contract that will let us existing customers be grandfathered in. This is Verizon increasing their cost to Millenicom to provide this service to us. The new price will be effective May 1st, so for April you’ll still only be billed the old $69.99 rate and you’ll have 30-days to decide if you want to proceed at the new rates. The new price will also apply to the grandfathered in older 3G only accounts that were previously $59.99 – making the increase in cost a whopping 50%. But the changes don’t stop there, unfortunately. Read On. Introducing: A Hard Cap The cap is now a hard 20GB cap. No more soft limits. No more going slightly over and not worrying about immediate suspension or overage charges. And, of course, that also means no more worrying about getting your account terminated for going over your limit too many times. As a new feature, if you do want additional data for the month – you’ll have the option to pay $89.99 for another 20GB if you need it. There’s no longer the need to buy a second account, wait for it to arrive and then manage two devices. Previously, to buy that second bucket of data last minute – it would have cost you over $200 in device & activation fees and several days of waiting. Now you can just authorize the charge when you need it, and voila – you’re back online. Don’t specifically authorize the charge, then you just wait until the next month rolls over. We look at this as a plus. Because there are some months that we’d be happy to pay for another bucket of data if we’re somewhere with no other option and a lot of work to get done. Of course, we’re used to buying overage bandwidth by the GB from most carriers, so this will not seem like a fair balance if we just need a little extra. Especially since the data will expire at the end of the month, so if you don’t use it all – you loose it. We recommend all Millenicom customers have a back-up source of data to snag a cheaper GB or two at the end of the month if needed. We keep an AT&T Mobile Share plan with a bucket of 10GB of hotspottable data on our iPhones, and then pay $15/GB for overages. Incidentally, we have our AT&T month end on the 24th, so we always have fresh new data ready for us in those last few days of each month when we run up against our 20GB Millenicom limit. If we need more than 6GB of extra data, the Millenicom overage option is now seeming like a sweet deal. You can also choose to keep an unactivated second Millenicom device around, and just activate it when needed. They can then pro-rate the month and charge a $19.99 re-activation fee. That could work out much cheaper for just a few days of data if needed. New Account Management Tools Because the new hard cap being imposed by Verizon, Millenicom is spending the next weeks implementing systems to provide: Near real time usage reports that you can check online. E-mail reminders each time you use 5GB of data, so you’re kept in the loop. Automatically freezing your account when you reach 20GB – the charge for an additional $89.99 will be completely opt-in and only at your authorization. Keep it in Perspective Yup. Hearing something will cost more is never fun news, especially a 28% increase. And we know many of you out there won’t be happy about it, and it may even cause some to reconsider their internet needs. But please keep it in perspective (and don’t shoot the messenger!) Yes, a 28% increase is steep. But when compared to other mobility costs that can fluctuate – such as fuel prices, insurance or always rising campground fees – $20 really is a drop in the bucket for a service that enables our life of mobility.  We’ll compensate with one less box of wine if we need to. And it’s still a lot cheaper than going direct with Verizon if you need this volume of mobile data … which would cost $130/month plus taxes and fees for a 20GB/month hotspot plan. Or to put it another way, the same $90 a month would only buy you about 10GB of data direct with Verizon, once you factor in those taxes & fees. Not to mention a 2-year contract. And paying Millenicom $179.98 for 40GB of data is a way better deal than $320+ direct with Verizon. We’re just thrilled we’re not writing today sharing the news of the discontinuation of this plan we love so much that enables so many of us to roam and keep connected. Our summation: The Millenicom Verizon Hotspot Plan is no longer a super awesome deal.. it’s just an awesome deal.  Our hats off to you Dennis and the rest of the Millenicom staff … thank you for going to bat for all of us mobile internet seekers. We don’t envy the customer support load and changes you’re having to go through now to adjust to these new terms and protect your customers. T-Mobile Foolishness Too To make matters trickier for our friends at Millenicom, they also just received word that T-Mobile is backing out of extending their free 200MB of LTE data to those who purchased the iPad deal before February 14.  Keep in mind, the original deal was that after the initial free data period ended in March, you could purchase 500MB of LTE data for $19.99/month (or $10 if you have the above mentioned hotspot plan) or 6.5GB for $59.99/month. So really, this announcement just returns the deal back to what was originally offered. T-Mobile seems to be shaking up a lot of their business deals this week (canceling all corporate discounts today too!), and it looks like Millenicom got caught in the middle of it. You can also stop by any T-Mobile store, and direct from T-Mobile you should still be able to get the fully free 200MB plan by obtaining one of their iPad SIMs. They are just no longer letting anyone else be the middleman. Our Mobile Internet Resource Center Interested in topics about Mobile Internet? We’ve created a lot of content, and keep links to it all on our Mobile Internet Resource Center page.  Keep in the know about these sorts of topics and explore all our of free articles, videos and learn more about our book - The Mobile Internet Handbook. Related Articles What’s the best mobile internet?  - We directly compare campground WiFi, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile at the same location. The Millenicom Verizon Hotspot Plan Survival Guide - The core of our mobile connectivity is this plan from reseller Millenicom (will be updated soon to reflect the above changes.) Full review of the Pantech MHS291L (the device shipping from Millenicom as of January 2014)]]>

Millenicom Verizon Hotspot customers will start receiving e-mails tonight that they will wish was an April Fool’s joke.  The monthly price of our beloved 20GB Hotspot Plan is going up from $69.99 to $89.99/mo for all customers, effective May 1st.

LcKkoXLcaWe’re actually relieved by this news. But then again, we’ve been privy to some of the details behind the scenes for a few weeks now, and for a while it looked as if things could have been a lot worse. And as late as this afternoon, there was hope there may have been a reprieve.  But alas it’s official now.

First of all, blame Verizon. Not Millenicom.

In early March, Millenicom started to get complaints from some of their newer accounts that their speeds were painfully slow. After Millenicom tracked it down and talked with their Verizon business representative, they found out that all bulk accounts issued after mid-January were being subject to speed throttling after just 2GB of usage.

This new throttling policy wasn’t just being applied to Millenicom, but also to new lines added to other big corporate accounts Verizon services.

This obviously would not go over well for Millenicom customers – who wants to buy 20GB of LTE data and only get 2GB at the promised speeds? (The answer would be… no one!)

Dennis, CEO of Millenicom, knew this could be a killer for the service he offers.

The first thing he did was reassign all of his newer customers to older spare account numbers – so they would be ‘grandfathered in’ to receive their full 20GB at full LTE speeds. As a result, hardly any of his customers even knew there was a problem.

He then entered into negotiations with Verizon to come to new terms – which he’s been in right up until this afternoon.

The New Price

millenicom-89First, the new monthly price is $89.99. A $20 increase.  But this is for a full 20GB of un-throttled high-speed LTE data.

This will apply to all existing customers on Verizon plans – current and new ones. The downside of being on a “no contract” service is that there is no contract that will let us existing customers be grandfathered in. This is Verizon increasing their cost to Millenicom to provide this service to us.

The new price will be effective May 1st, so for April you’ll still only be billed the old $69.99 rate and you’ll have 30-days to decide if you want to proceed at the new rates.

The new price will also apply to the grandfathered in older 3G only accounts that were previously $59.99 – making the increase in cost a whopping 50%.

But the changes don’t stop there, unfortunately. Read On.

Introducing: A Hard Cap

The cap is now a hard 20GB cap.

No more soft limits. No more going slightly over and not worrying about immediate suspension or overage charges.

And, of course, that also means no more worrying about getting your account terminated for going over your limit too many times.

As a new feature, if you do want additional data for the month – you’ll have the option to pay $89.99 for another 20GB if you need it. There’s no longer the need to buy a second account, wait for it to arrive and then manage two devices. Previously, to buy that second bucket of data last minute – it would have cost you over $200 in device & activation fees and several days of waiting.

Now you can just authorize the charge when you need it, and voila – you’re back online. Don’t specifically authorize the charge, then you just wait until the next month rolls over.

We look at this as a plus. Because there are some months that we’d be happy to pay for another bucket of data if we’re somewhere with no other option and a lot of work to get done.

Of course, we’re used to buying overage bandwidth by the GB from most carriers, so this will not seem like a fair balance if we just need a little extra. Especially since the data will expire at the end of the month, so if you don’t use it all – you loose it.

We recommend all Millenicom customers have a back-up source of data to snag a cheaper GB or two at the end of the month if needed.

We keep an AT&T Mobile Share plan with a bucket of 10GB of hotspottable data on our iPhones, and then pay $15/GB for overages. Incidentally, we have our AT&T month end on the 24th, so we always have fresh new data ready for us in those last few days of each month when we run up against our 20GB Millenicom limit. If we need more than 6GB of extra data, the Millenicom overage option is now seeming like a sweet deal.

You can also choose to keep an unactivated second Millenicom device around, and just activate it when needed. They can then pro-rate the month and charge a $19.99 re-activation fee. That could work out much cheaper for just a few days of data if needed.

New Account Management Tools

Because the new hard cap being imposed by Verizon, Millenicom is spending the next weeks implementing systems to provide:

  • Near real time usage reports that you can check online.
  • E-mail reminders each time you use 5GB of data, so you’re kept in the loop.
  • Automatically freezing your account when you reach 20GB – the charge for an additional $89.99 will be completely opt-in and only at your authorization.

Keep it in Perspective

Still cheaper than direct with Verizon!

Yup. Hearing something will cost more is never fun news, especially a 28% increase. And we know many of you out there won’t be happy about it, and it may even cause some to reconsider their internet needs.

But please keep it in perspective (and don’t shoot the messenger!)

Yes, a 28% increase is steep. But when compared to other mobility costs that can fluctuate – such as fuel prices, insurance or always rising campground fees – $20 really is a drop in the bucket for a service that enables our life of mobility.  We’ll compensate with one less box of wine if we need to.

And it’s still a lot cheaper than going direct with Verizon if you need this volume of mobile data … which would cost $130/month plus taxes and fees for a 20GB/month hotspot plan. Or to put it another way, the same $90 a month would only buy you about 10GB of data direct with Verizon, once you factor in those taxes & fees. Not to mention a 2-year contract.

And paying Millenicom $179.98 for 40GB of data is a way better deal than $320+ direct with Verizon.

We’re just thrilled we’re not writing today sharing the news of the discontinuation of this plan we love so much that enables so many of us to roam and keep connected.

Our summation: The Millenicom Verizon Hotspot Plan is no longer a super awesome deal.. it’s just an awesome deal. 

Our hats off to you Dennis and the rest of the Millenicom staff … thank you for going to bat for all of us mobile internet seekers. We don’t envy the customer support load and changes you’re having to go through now to adjust to these new terms and protect your customers.

T-Mobile Foolishness Too

To make matters trickier for our friends at Millenicom, they also just received word that T-Mobile is backing out of extending their free 200MB of LTE data to those who purchased the iPad deal before February 14.  Keep in mind, the original deal was that after the initial free data period ended in March, you could purchase 500MB of LTE data for $19.99/month (or $10 if you have the above mentioned hotspot plan) or 6.5GB for $59.99/month. So really, this announcement just returns the deal back to what was originally offered.

T-Mobile seems to be shaking up a lot of their business deals this week (canceling all corporate discounts today too!), and it looks like Millenicom got caught in the middle of it.

You can also stop by any T-Mobile store, and direct from T-Mobile you should still be able to get the fully free 200MB plan by obtaining one of their iPad SIMs. They are just no longer letting anyone else be the middleman.

Our Mobile Internet Resource Center

Interested in topics about Mobile Internet? We’ve created a lot of content, and keep links to it all on our Mobile Internet Resource Center page.  Keep in the know about these sorts of topics and explore all our of free articles, videos and learn more about our book - The Mobile Internet Handbook.

Related Articles

Disclosure: We are not affiliated with Millenicom, we’re just customers ourselves. We don’t get any kickbacks if you sign-up with them, and we are not compensated for sharing this information.  We share because we depend on technology in our full time travels, and we enjoy sharing what we’ve learned. It’s our gift.

So please, this is not the Millenicom complaint department, we’re just the messenger. We know some are upset, but no negative comments .. thanks.

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RVillage is Hiring – Remote Work Opportunities http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/rvillage-is-hiring-remote-work-opportunities/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/rvillage-is-hiring-remote-work-opportunities/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 06:00:27 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14283 One of the things we love about RVillage.com (other than that it is a great resource for us RVers) is that it’s owned and operated by a fellow fulltimer. And the CEO, Curtis Coleman, is building an entirely distributed team. There is no central office – all of us involved with RVillage work from wherever we are, and we utilize technology to work together as a team. Just our style! The initial response to RVillage has been incredible. By the time this post goes live, we’ll be pushing the 4,000 member mark, and we really haven’t even started spreading the word beyond social media and to more mainstream channels . That’s on purpose of course – we are still in ‘Public Beta’ while we continue to smooth out some rough edges – and slow and steady growth is exactly what we have been looking for. As the membership grows, so must the staff. Rather immediately our team is looking to add on several additional sales associates, and an experienced North American based developer. Two ends of the spectrum, but hopefully some of you out there looking for mobile income sources might be a fit. We’d of course love to see these positions filled by people in our community, so we’re announcing them here! Sales Associates RVillage.com is completely free to us RVers and to all RV Parks. The operations are funded entirely by advertisers that provide listings in a service directory of local RV-friendly business that is displayed on the right hand side of every screen. Any business that wants to reach out to RV’ers is welcome – everything from repair shops to restaurants, local attractions to pet services, florists to fishing charters, solar installers to RV detailers. During our focus groups, we found that most everyone saw these ads as a helpful guide to quickly finding the services and products we need when we pull into a new town. Without local knowledge, it is always handy to know who in an area cares about the unique needs of RVers. The initial sales team is already out on the roads signing up advertisers – and RVillage is now ready to onboard a second wave. If this sort of sales work excites you, you can work remotely from wherever you roam in the US – as long as you have internet (hey – we can help you with that!). You pick your own pace of travel, and even where you go. If you’re interested in learning more, you can submit an application at: http://rvfriendnetwork.com/application/ PHP / Javascript Developer RVillage is also looking for a skilled Front-End Developer (primarily working with PHP & Javascript) to help in the ongoing evolution of the site. Ideally RVillage would love to find a full or part-time uber-geek RV’er within our community who is looking for flexible work that they can do remotely on the road. The goal is to find someone who is personally passionate about what RVillage can bring to the RVing world, but RVillage is open to a developer whose office lacks wheels too. The ideal addition would be a rock-star PHP programmer with expert-level knowledge of HTML/Javascript/CSS/DOM. Bonus points for advanced web mapping expertise too. If you are interested in this position please let us know (you can e-mail us at contact@technomadia.com) and we will send you more of the technical details of what skills and experience RVillage is looking for, and if you are interested we will get you in touch with the right people. If there are other roles you think you might be able to add to the RVillage team, you can also submit an application – and as the team is ready to expand, they’ll be in touch. Stay Tuned for Our Next Live Video Chat! March totally slipped by us – our available bandwidth and time never quite aligned to host a live video chat. We’re heading to more urban areas soon, where bandwidth should be more abundant. It’ll probably come as no surprise what our topic will be: Building Community on the Road (with RVillage.com) In this video chat, we’ll talk about the challenges of forming a sense of community on the road – and how it differs from living in one place.  We’ll share the role we see RVillage playing in community building, and give you a tour of RVillage’s features for making new friends and keeping in touch with existing ones. This will be part discussion and part tutorial. A Q&A session about RVillage and community on the road to follow. As soon as we schedule the chat, we’ll announce it on our special e-mail list just for our video chat announcements. You can sign up on our Live Video Cast center (and view archives of past chats) to get those notifications.]]>
Our first (and only) meeting with Curtis - our buses parked next to each other in Quartzite, AZ.

Our first (and only) in-person meeting with Curtis – our buses parked next to each other in Quartzite, AZ. We’ve Skyped and Facetimed nearly daily ever since.

One of the things we love about RVillage.com (other than that it is a great resource for us RVers) is that it’s owned and operated by a fellow fulltimer.

And the CEO, Curtis Coleman, is building an entirely distributed team.

There is no central office – all of us involved with RVillage work from wherever we are, and we utilize technology to work together as a team.

Just our style!

The initial response to RVillage has been incredible. By the time this post goes live, we’ll be pushing the 4,000 member mark, and we really haven’t even started spreading the word beyond social media and to more mainstream channels . That’s on purpose of course – we are still in ‘Public Beta’ while we continue to smooth out some rough edges – and slow and steady growth is exactly what we have been looking for.

As the membership grows, so must the staff.

Rather immediately our team is looking to add on several additional sales associates, and an experienced North American based developer. Two ends of the spectrum, but hopefully some of you out there looking for mobile income sources might be a fit.

We’d of course love to see these positions filled by people in our community, so we’re announcing them here!

Sales Associates

RVillage.com is completely free to us RVers and to all RV Parks.

The operations are funded entirely by advertisers that provide listings in a service directory of local RV-friendly business that is displayed on the right hand side of every screen.

Any business that wants to reach out to RV’ers is welcome – everything from repair shops to restaurants, local attractions to pet services, florists to fishing charters, solar installers to RV detailers.

During our focus groups, we found that most everyone saw these ads as a helpful guide to quickly finding the services and products we need when we pull into a new town. Without local knowledge, it is always handy to know who in an area cares about the unique needs of RVers.

The initial sales team is already out on the roads signing up advertisers – and RVillage is now ready to onboard a second wave.

If this sort of sales work excites you, you can work remotely from wherever you roam in the US – as long as you have internet (hey – we can help you with that!). You pick your own pace of travel, and even where you go.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can submit an application at: http://rvfriendnetwork.com/application/

PHP / Javascript Developer

RVillage is also looking for a skilled Front-End Developer (primarily working with PHP & Javascript) to help in the ongoing evolution of the site.

Ideally RVillage would love to find a full or part-time uber-geek RV’er within our community who is looking for flexible work that they can do remotely on the road. The goal is to find someone who is personally passionate about what RVillage can bring to the RVing world, but RVillage is open to a developer whose office lacks wheels too.

The ideal addition would be a rock-star PHP programmer with expert-level knowledge of HTML/Javascript/CSS/DOM. Bonus points for advanced web mapping expertise too.

If you are interested in this position please let us know (you can e-mail us at contact@technomadia.com) and we will send you more of the technical details of what skills and experience RVillage is looking for, and if you are interested we will get you in touch with the right people.

If there are other roles you think you might be able to add to the RVillage team, you can also submit an application – and as the team is ready to expand, they’ll be in touch.

Stay Tuned for Our Next Live Video Chat!

March totally slipped by us – our available bandwidth and time never quite aligned to host a live video chat. We’re heading to more urban areas soon, where bandwidth should be more abundant.

It’ll probably come as no surprise what our topic will be:

Building Community on the Road (with RVillage.com)

In this video chat, we’ll talk about the challenges of forming a sense of community on the road – and how it differs from living in one place.  We’ll share the role we see RVillage playing in community building, and give you a tour of RVillage’s features for making new friends and keeping in touch with existing ones. This will be part discussion and part tutorial. A Q&A session about RVillage and community on the road to follow.

As soon as we schedule the chat, we’ll announce it on our special e-mail list just for our video chat announcements. You can sign up on our Live Video Cast center (and view archives of past chats) to get those notifications.

]]>
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Ramblings: Tales from Nomads – Co-Bear http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/ramblings-tales-from-nomads-co-bear/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/ramblings-tales-from-nomads-co-bear/#comments Sat, 29 Mar 2014 04:45:04 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14274 Meet Danny & Cindy Cindy and Danny were newlyweds and got to thinking about where they wanted to live to be close to their kids and grandkids, but not so close that they’d be full time babysitters. Then they saw an RV on a lot they fell in love with, and figured, why not try out full time RVing and see the country? Cindy had been a professional photographer in her local community, and is navigating how to take her business on the road. This interview catches them in April 2013, just a couple months after they hit the road. We end with a quick 1-year follow-up that finds them still loving the RVing lifestyle as they integrate in workamping with their photography. Direct Video Link Meet more Ramblings Meet some of the other nomads we’ve interviewed in this series: Stay tuned.. more nomads coming soon! Ramblings: Tales from Nomads is intended to introduce you to some amazing people who are living life on their terms by traveling full time. We started filming this series in 2010, and it keeps growing and growing!  We now have over 20 episodes produced, and many more filmed. In this video series, you’ll meet some diverse and inspiring nomads we’ve had the pleasure of spending time with. They all have one thing in common – they’re not waiting for a traditional retirement to pursue their dreams of perpetual travel. The entire video series can be explored at: http://www.technomadia.com/ramblings Would you like to be featured in this series? Let us know when our paths might be converging and let’s hang out – and we’ll be happy to film you in person too. Inspired by this Series? We love producing this series, and we continually hear how each episode helps others see what is possible for a fully mobile lifestyle. Each of these episodes has several hours invested in filming, editing and uploading. We provide them as our gift to you, but knowing they’re helping is what keeps us inspired to keep creating them. We’d love to know how this series has helped you. Here are some ideas: Leave a comment on this post or video, or contact us in a private e-mail Share this series with friends, on forums, on groups and in blog posts Shop our books, apps or setup an individualized consulting session Use our Amazon affiliate link when doing your regular online shopping Or, if you’d like to say thanks with dollars – virtually buy us a thank you drink :   Inspired to explore a nomadic path yourself? Check out our free series: No Excuses: Go Nomadic which is our brain dump on many of the common questions we get about making it happen – mobile jobs, affordability, pets, family, mail, healthcare, connectivity, community and more. We also offer the same series as a ‘pay as you wish’ eBook.]]>

Meet Danny & Cindy

co-bearCindy and Danny were newlyweds and got to thinking about where they wanted to live to be close to their kids and grandkids, but not so close that they’d be full time babysitters.

Then they saw an RV on a lot they fell in love with, and figured, why not try out full time RVing and see the country?

Cindy had been a professional photographer in her local community, and is navigating how to take her business on the road.

This interview catches them in April 2013, just a couple months after they hit the road. We end with a quick 1-year follow-up that finds them still loving the RVing lifestyle as they integrate in workamping with their photography.

Direct Video Link

Follow Danny & Cindy:

Photography & Business: Co-Bear

Meet more Ramblings

Meet some of the other nomads we’ve interviewed in this series:

View all of the Rambling Interviews

Stay tuned.. more nomads coming soon!

Ramblings: Tales from Nomads is intended to introduce you to some amazing people who are living life on their terms by traveling full time.

We started filming this series in 2010, and it keeps growing and growing!  We now have over 20 episodes produced, and many more filmed.

In this video series, you’ll meet some diverse and inspiring nomads we’ve had the pleasure of spending time with. They all have one thing in common – they’re not waiting for a traditional retirement to pursue their dreams of perpetual travel.

The entire video series can be explored at: http://www.technomadia.com/ramblings

Would you like to be featured in this series? Let us know when our paths might be converging and let’s hang out – and we’ll be happy to film you in person too.

Inspired by this Series?

We love producing this series, and we continually hear how each episode helps others see what is possible for a fully mobile lifestyle. Each of these episodes has several hours invested in filming, editing and uploading.

We provide them as our gift to you, but knowing they’re helping is what keeps us inspired to keep creating them.

We’d love to know how this series has helped you. Here are some ideas:

Or, if you’d like to say thanks with dollars – virtually buy us a thank you drink :


 

Inspired to explore a nomadic path yourself? Check out our free series: No Excuses: Go Nomadic which is our brain dump on many of the common questions we get about making it happen – mobile jobs, affordability, pets, family, mail, healthcare, connectivity, community and more.

We also offer the same series as a ‘pay as you wish’ eBook.

]]>
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Following Spring Northward http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/following-spring-northward/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/following-spring-northward/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 05:28:44 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14260 After the FMCA Rally, we decided to follow our friends Jen & Deas of The Nealy’s on Wheels and Betsy & Nancy of RV-AGoGo over to F. D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Just under a two hour drive away, it seemed like a perfect next destination for us. Particularly since we had no other plans. Originally, we had all just paid for 2-nights for the weekend – but yet come Wednesday morning, we’re all still here. It’s been absolute bliss. Nice big private campsites, hiking trails, great 4G signal and close by friends. We’ve been enjoying lots of time to ourselves, and time in the evenings hanging out and getting to know one another better. While we thought we were in need of some isolation to re-charge, this has actually been perfect. Great neighbors who also appreciate their alone time, and together time.  The shared meals & happy hours have been amazing, especially since Nancy is a culinary master (traveling with a trained chef? Yeah, it doesn’t suck.) With RVillage now launched - which turns 2 weeks old today.. and already has nearly 3500 members!! - we’ve been putting focus to other projects that have been sitting on the back burner. An overdue update to our app State Lines (which tracks 50 state laws that affect us travelers – from alcohol purchasing laws to overnighting at rest areas), our regular update to our app Coverage? (which overlays the major cellular carrier’s coverage maps – which we personally use in our routing to find spots with decent connectivity) and finishing up our next app that we started before this RVillage opportunity came along (to be released soon!). Oh, and there’s that tax thing too. But mostly, we’ve just been tired. Very tired. The past few months of launching RVillage have been intense with very long work hours while trying to balance other life stuff. We’ve been catching up on sleep, time with each other, taking advantage of the hiking trails right out our door step and worshipping Kiki. What’s Next? The temperatures here are supposed to dip below freezing tonight, reminding us that moving much more north isn’t a good idea for now. We’ve extended our stay here for another couple days, and will assess our plans then.  We’re eyeing a couple more Georgia State Parks to hit next week and we’re generally heading northward with a stop in Chattanooga for general bus maintenance at Choo Choo Express Garage, and then onward to St. Louis as spring emerges. And there will probably be a stop in Memphis on the way to rendezvous with our friends Kristin & Jason of Boondock Marketing.]]>
One of many shared meals with Jen & Deas and Betsy & Nancy.

One of many shared meals with Jen & Deas and Betsy & Nancy.

After the FMCA Rally, we decided to follow our friends Jen & Deas of The Nealy’s on Wheels and Betsy & Nancy of RV-AGoGo over to F. D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

Just under a two hour drive away, it seemed like a perfect next destination for us. Particularly since we had no other plans.

Originally, we had all just paid for 2-nights for the weekend – but yet come Wednesday morning, we’re all still here. It’s been absolute bliss. Nice big private campsites, hiking trails, great 4G signal and close by friends.

Our beautiful wooded campsite at F.D. Roosevelt State Park.

Our beautiful wooded campsite at F.D. Roosevelt State Park.

We’ve been enjoying lots of time to ourselves, and time in the evenings hanging out and getting to know one another better.

While we thought we were in need of some isolation to re-charge, this has actually been perfect.

Great neighbors who also appreciate their alone time, and together time.  The shared meals & happy hours have been amazing, especially since Nancy is a culinary master (traveling with a trained chef? Yeah, it doesn’t suck.)

Love our nomadic neighborhood! Nealy's on the right, RV-AGoGo on the left and then us.

Love our nomadic neighborhood! Nealy’s on the right, RV-AGoGo on the left and then us. All with our own space!

With RVillage now launched - which turns 2 weeks old today.. and already has nearly 3500 members!! - we’ve been putting focus to other projects that have been sitting on the back burner.

An overdue update to our app State Lines (which tracks 50 state laws that affect us travelers – from alcohol purchasing laws to overnighting at rest areas), our regular update to our app Coverage? (which overlays the major cellular carrier’s coverage maps – which we personally use in our routing to find spots with decent connectivity) and finishing up our next app that we started before this RVillage opportunity came along (to be released soon!).

Taking Kiki for a hike.

Taking Kiki for a hike.

Oh, and there’s that tax thing too.

But mostly, we’ve just been tired.

Very tired.

The past few months of launching RVillage have been intense with very long work hours while trying to balance other life stuff.

We’ve been catching up on sleep, time with each other, taking advantage of the hiking trails right out our door step and worshipping Kiki.

Thanks for capturing a great pic of us all, Jen! (Nealys On Wheels)

What’s Next? The temperatures here are supposed to dip below freezing tonight, reminding us that moving much more north isn’t a good idea for now. We’ve extended our stay here for another couple days, and will assess our plans then.  We’re eyeing a couple more Georgia State Parks to hit next week and we’re generally heading northward with a stop in Chattanooga for general bus maintenance at Choo Choo Express Garage, and then onward to St. Louis as spring emerges. And there will probably be a stop in Memphis on the way to rendezvous with our friends Kristin & Jason of Boondock Marketing.

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Wrapping up the FMCA Convention in Perry, GA http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/wrapping-up-the-fmca-convention-in-perry-ga/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/wrapping-up-the-fmca-convention-in-perry-ga/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 04:20:31 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14240 We planned an early arrival the FMCA Rally in Perry, GA on Sunday to meet up with our friends Forrest & Mary. It had been raining all day long at the Georgia National Fairgrounds, and by the time we arrived most of the parking areas where a mud pit. A hold was put on all parking for the rest of the day. The volunteers had us park overnight on pavement at the will call center, and thankfully, Forrest and Mary ended up there too. In the morning, the parking team led us to our spot – which completely surprised us. We had paid for a ‘Family 30amp’ spot, which should have been way off in the back area of the fairgrounds. But the two in our party somehow scored spots in the volunteer area right up close to the center of activity. And, as an extra bonus, we were just down the block from our friends Jen & Deas of The Nealy’s on Wheels and Betsy & Nancy of RV-A-Go-Go.  Sweet! We were most impressed with how the entire FMCA crew handled the extra chaos of arrivals during a downpour. This was our first ever big RV-rally sort of event. We’ve attended smaller rallies and meet-ups, of no more than about a 100 rigs.  This particular one had just under 3000 RVs in attendance, 99.9% of which are motorhomes. The FMCA Rally has vendor floors, RV dealerships, lots of seminars and evening entertainment. We tried out a sample of them all. On Monday evening, we joined our friends for touring some of the new coaches open for display. For someone shopping for a motorhome, attending a rally like this one can be a great way to tour a whole range of set-ups and getting a feel for what works and doesn’t for you. We mostly just came away from the experience more pleased with the layout of our bus and how perfect it is for us – we didn’t see a single setup that impressed us more. And certainly nothing as cool looking as our vintage beauty. On Tuesday, our friends Chris & Jim of the Geeks on Tour invited us to assist them in their iPhone & iPad for Travelers hands-on class. The class went over using some of the basics – like taking photos, setting up personal hotspots and using the mapping program for navigation. We mainly helped the 20 or so folks in attendance while the Geeks led them through the material. As Chris & Jim are more inclined towards Android devices, we got to help fill in some blanks too. It was a fun experience, we both love teaching and we’re glad we could help out. We give the Geeks a lot of credit for what they do on a regular basis teaching classes like these. It’s takes a lot of patience, and we’re pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to do it more than very occasionally. On Wednesday evening, we checked out the evening’s entertainment – which was the America’s Got Talent finalists trio The Texas Tenors. Three very talented men who perform an odd mix of Country & Western. The country being Italian opera. While most in attendance seemed to get into the western music, we both really dig opera and classical music. So the mix was a cool way to meet a variety of musical tastes in the stadium. On Thursday, we made one last pass of the vendor floors and made a few purchases.                 Our loot: Dometic Microwave/Convection Oven Combo (Model DCMC11B.F) – We’ve been on the hunt for a combo unit small enough to fit in the cabinet above our fridge. This is the first one we’ve found with the right dimensions, so we snagged it right off the floor – and a good deal at $199. It replaces our stand-alone microwave that came with the bus (circa 1989) and a toaster oven we’ve kept in our small appliance cabinet that our propane oven once inhabited. Space savings and convenience score! Sunbeam Bluetooth Conference Speaker – We’ve been on the lookout for a decent portable speaker, as our beloved Altec Lansing iMT620 has the old style iPhone connector. This one caught our attention as it can also serve as a speaker phone. At a $39 show special, it seemed like a decent option. Soundlogic 5600mAH Power Bank – an external battery for gadgets is just never a bad thing to have around! Big Skinny iPhone Wallet – I’m forever in the search of the perfect organizers for my tech gear. This is the first cellular case I’ve encountered that offers all of the wallet features I want to be a self contained slim case. They were able to install grommets to convert the wallet to be a waist pack. Now, I’m off in search of an iPad carry case that this can slip into, and at long last I may have found my perfect versatile mobile tech carrier system! Most of the rest of our time at the FMCA we spent catching up on sleep, working with our RVillage team and spending time with our friends here. All and all, we’re not overly called to the FMCA rally experience – it’s not really our style. We had hoped for more vendors selling RVing gear on our shopping list like a quality outdoor doormat, folding bicycles and front curtains. But we did get some leads for future larger projects on the bus – installing a diesel hydronics system and installing new driver’s and passenger’s seats. The event just seems to be geared towards a different demographic than us (and we’re not just referring to our younger age.) And we’re just not into the bigger organized events. At a cost of $195 to attend, plus $175 for electric hook-ups for 4-nights (ouch) – we just didn’t feel it was a good value to basically have access to a RV shopping mall. What’s Next? We had originally thought we’d just extend our stay here at the fairgrounds, but to do so we’d have to move across the grounds. So instead, we’ll be hitching up in the morning and heading off to a nearby state park with some of our friends. We’ll continue to wait out spring arriving in areas north of us and in the meantime continue to catch up on sleep and get ahead on some of our own projects!  ]]>
Our first FMCA Rally!

Our first FMCA Rally!

We planned an early arrival the FMCA Rally in Perry, GA on Sunday to meet up with our friends Forrest & Mary. It had been raining all day long at the Georgia National Fairgrounds, and by the time we arrived most of the parking areas where a mud pit. A hold was put on all parking for the rest of the day.

The volunteers had us park overnight on pavement at the will call center, and thankfully, Forrest and Mary ended up there too.

Parked with Forrest & Mary

Parked with Forrest & Mary

In the morning, the parking team led us to our spot – which completely surprised us. We had paid for a ‘Family 30amp’ spot, which should have been way off in the back area of the fairgrounds.

But the two in our party somehow scored spots in the volunteer area right up close to the center of activity. And, as an extra bonus, we were just down the block from our friends Jen & Deas of The Nealy’s on Wheels and Betsy & Nancy of RV-A-Go-Go.  Sweet!

Super close to the clock tower, the center of the fairgrounds.

Super close to the clock tower, the center of the fairgrounds.

We were most impressed with how the entire FMCA crew handled the extra chaos of arrivals during a downpour.

This was our first ever big RV-rally sort of event. We’ve attended smaller rallies and meet-ups, of no more than about a 100 rigs.  This particular one had just under 3000 RVs in attendance, 99.9% of which are motorhomes.

The FMCA Rally has vendor floors, RV dealerships, lots of seminars and evening entertainment.

We tried out a sample of them all.

Seen at the FMCA exhibits - the slide has... slides. Ummm....

Seen at the FMCA exhibits – the slide has a slide. Ummm….

On Monday evening, we joined our friends for touring some of the new coaches open for display. For someone shopping for a motorhome, attending a rally like this one can be a great way to tour a whole range of set-ups and getting a feel for what works and doesn’t for you.

We mostly just came away from the experience more pleased with the layout of our bus and how perfect it is for us – we didn’t see a single setup that impressed us more.

And certainly nothing as cool looking as our vintage beauty.

Assisting the Geeks on Tour with their iPad/iPhone class.

Assisting the Geeks on Tour with their iPad/iPhone class.

On Tuesday, our friends Chris & Jim of the Geeks on Tour invited us to assist them in their iPhone & iPad for Travelers hands-on class. The class went over using some of the basics – like taking photos, setting up personal hotspots and using the mapping program for navigation.

We mainly helped the 20 or so folks in attendance while the Geeks led them through the material. As Chris & Jim are more inclined towards Android devices, we got to help fill in some blanks too.

It was a fun experience, we both love teaching and we’re glad we could help out. We give the Geeks a lot of credit for what they do on a regular basis teaching classes like these. It’s takes a lot of patience, and we’re pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to do it more than very occasionally.

The Texas Tenors at the FMCA Perry, GA Rally.

The Texas Tenors at the FMCA Perry, GA Rally.

On Wednesday evening, we checked out the evening’s entertainment – which was the America’s Got Talent finalists trio The Texas Tenors.

Three very talented men who perform an odd mix of Country & Western. The country being Italian opera.

While most in attendance seemed to get into the western music, we both really dig opera and classical music. So the mix was a cool way to meet a variety of musical tastes in the stadium.

On Thursday, we made one last pass of the vendor floors and made a few purchases.

 

IMG_1598

Hmm.. I may have a favorite color?

IMG_1558

Finally! A Convection-Microwave combo unit that fits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our loot:

  • Dometic Microwave/Convection Oven Combo (Model DCMC11B.F) – We’ve been on the hunt for a combo unit small enough to fit in the cabinet above our fridge. This is the first one we’ve found with the right dimensions, so we snagged it right off the floor – and a good deal at $199. It replaces our stand-alone microwave that came with the bus (circa 1989) and a toaster oven we’ve kept in our small appliance cabinet that our propane oven once inhabited. Space savings and convenience score!
  • Sunbeam Bluetooth Conference Speaker – We’ve been on the lookout for a decent portable speaker, as our beloved Altec Lansing iMT620 has the old style iPhone connector. This one caught our attention as it can also serve as a speaker phone. At a $39 show special, it seemed like a decent option.
  • Soundlogic 5600mAH Power Bank – an external battery for gadgets is just never a bad thing to have around!
  • Big Skinny iPhone Wallet – I’m forever in the search of the perfect organizers for my tech gear. This is the first cellular case I’ve encountered that offers all of the wallet features I want to be a self contained slim case. They were able to install grommets to convert the wallet to be a waist pack. Now, I’m off in search of an iPad carry case that this can slip into, and at long last I may have found my perfect versatile mobile tech carrier system!

Most of the rest of our time at the FMCA we spent catching up on sleep, working with our RVillage team and spending time with our friends here.

All and all, we’re not overly called to the FMCA rally experience – it’s not really our style. We had hoped for more vendors selling RVing gear on our shopping list like a quality outdoor doormat, folding bicycles and front curtains. But we did get some leads for future larger projects on the bus – installing a diesel hydronics system and installing new driver’s and passenger’s seats.

The event just seems to be geared towards a different demographic than us (and we’re not just referring to our younger age.) And we’re just not into the bigger organized events. At a cost of $195 to attend, plus $175 for electric hook-ups for 4-nights (ouch) – we just didn’t feel it was a good value to basically have access to a RV shopping mall.

What’s Next? We had originally thought we’d just extend our stay here at the fairgrounds, but to do so we’d have to move across the grounds. So instead, we’ll be hitching up in the morning and heading off to a nearby state park with some of our friends. We’ll continue to wait out spring arriving in areas north of us and in the meantime continue to catch up on sleep and get ahead on some of our own projects!

 

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Launching from the Space Coast http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/launching-from-the-space-coast/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/launching-from-the-space-coast/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:22:47 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14219 Our adventures next landed us in Melbourne, Florida – which is where I had lived for 12 years prior to meeting Chris in 2006 and subsequently hitting the road with him. We’ve spent a lot of time on Florida’s Space Coast, as my parents remained living there and of course, we were here through a lot of my dad’s illness. Our return this time was to spend some more quality time with my mom before we leave the East Coast of the US, and help her with some of the remaining logistics of clearing my dad’s stuff. Namely, dealing with his computer – which Chris boldly took on. Not only was the machine a Windows PC (something Chris vowed to never touch again), but for a computer geek like my dad – it’s on par of properly preserving the data on his brain. While Chris dealt with that, I helped my mom with her taxes and getting in quality mother-daughter time. I joined her for Bingo (I won an entire dollar!), took her to India Fest that was being held at Wickham Park, which was also the location of our campground this visit (our review) and went on a few little outings. We also had the pleasure of meeting fellow full time RVers Stephanie & John of RV Daily Life. Ironically, one of the first questions they asked was ‘How do we go about meeting other RVers like us?’. And of course, our timing in Melbourne coincided with our big launch of RVillage! We got very little sleep during our visit as we balanced quality family time with long hours working with our distributed team getting everything ready. From testing code, finalizing our post and communicating with lots of people. The final launch sequence was initiated as we were pulling out of Melbourne after another all-nighter, and I actually fired the publish button as we pulled onto I-95 to head northward. 3…. 2… 1…. LAUNCH! Appropriate for a launch of a site dedicated to RVers – on the road, launching from the Space Coast, where I had started my own nomadic travels! The launch has gone tremendously well. RVillage is now just barely 5 days old and we’re approaching 2300 members who have signed up. Lots of marvelous stories of people making new friendships already, and tons of Groups created. Our next stop was just south of Savannah, GA to visit our dear friends Ann & Elliott. We met these two a few years back via our blog, and our friendship has grown over the years – from hillarious Le’Sharo adventures and time in Cedar Key together. We always make a point of stopping while we’re on this coast. In fact, they’ve become such a part of our lives – that we’ve officially dubbed them a ‘Nomadic Port’ for us, and they now have the sign to prove it! They always welcome us with an open driveway, power, shared meals, long hot showers, WiFi and friendship. What more could a nomad want? My mother also drove up for a weekend away, as she’s become close with them as well. So it was extra special to get some bonus time with everyone. An excellent visit, and it was wonderful to be around friends who understand the magnitude of a project like RVillage and could share in our excitement (and exhaustion) of being in the midst of it all! We’ll definitely miss these guys as we start heading westward for a while! Next up, was a repositioning across the state to Perry, GA to the Georgia National Fairgrounds, the site of the big FMCA Rally – our first big RV Rally.  The timing was perfect for us – right on our route (or lack thereof), several friends already planning to attend and the launch of a major new RV product we’re involved with. In fact, our friends at the Geeks on Tour have taken quite a liking to RVillage (thank you for the RV.Net posting guys!) and hosted a Get-Together planned entirely on the platform. We had quite an attendance last evening upon our arrival, including finally getting to meet Linda & Howard of RV-Dreams. At this exact moment, I’m finishing up this post while we’re still in a temporary parking location, as the main parking was shut down when we arrived due to the rain. Hopefully soon we’ll get situated in our spot for the week and we can get out and explore what these big RV rallies are all about! What’s Next?  We actually have no clue. Other than we need to be to northern Nevada by late August for Burning Man (yes, we got tickets!) and then Oregon by early September for volunteer hosting Cape Blanco Lighthouse again.  We’ll take some time meandering across the country, and hopefully catch up on some sleep!  We’re watching the weather, and will probably pass through St. Louis sometime in the next few weeks once spring arrives there. Other than that, we’re letting serendipity be our navigator!  ]]>
Our spot at Wickham Park in Melbourne.

Our spot at Wickham Park in Melbourne.

Our adventures next landed us in Melbourne, Florida – which is where I had lived for 12 years prior to meeting Chris in 2006 and subsequently hitting the road with him.

We’ve spent a lot of time on Florida’s Space Coast, as my parents remained living there and of course, we were here through a lot of my dad’s illness.

Our return this time was to spend some more quality time with my mom before we leave the East Coast of the US, and help her with some of the remaining logistics of clearing my dad’s stuff. Namely, dealing with his computer – which Chris boldly took on. Not only was the machine a Windows PC (something Chris vowed to never touch again), but for a computer geek like my dad – it’s on par of properly preserving the data on his brain.

Mother-Daughter time!

Mother-Daughter time!

While Chris dealt with that, I helped my mom with her taxes and getting in quality mother-daughter time. I joined her for Bingo (I won an entire dollar!), took her to India Fest that was being held at Wickham Park, which was also the location of our campground this visit (our review) and went on a few little outings.

We also had the pleasure of meeting fellow full time RVers Stephanie & John of RV Daily Life. Ironically, one of the first questions they asked was ‘How do we go about meeting other RVers like us?’.

Meeting Stephanie & John of RV Daily Life.

Meeting Stephanie & John of RV Daily Life.

And of course, our timing in Melbourne coincided with our big launch of RVillage!

We got very little sleep during our visit as we balanced quality family time with long hours working with our distributed team getting everything ready. From testing code, finalizing our post and communicating with lots of people.

The final launch sequence was initiated as we were pulling out of Melbourne after another all-nighter, and I actually fired the publish button as we pulled onto I-95 to head northward.

Celebrating the launch of RVillage (after we arrived!)

Celebrating the launch of RVillage (after we arrived!)

3…. 2… 1….

LAUNCH!

Appropriate for a launch of a site dedicated to RVers – on the road, launching from the Space Coast, where I had started my own nomadic travels!

The launch has gone tremendously well.

RVillage is now just barely 5 days old and we’re approaching 2300 members who have signed up. Lots of marvelous stories of people making new friendships already, and tons of Groups created.

Our next stop was just south of Savannah, GA to visit our dear friends Ann & Elliott. We met these two a few years back via our blog, and our friendship has grown over the years – from hillarious Le’Sharo adventures and time in Cedar Key together. We always make a point of stopping while we’re on this coast.

We cherish our Nomadic Ports!

We cherish our Nomadic Ports?

In fact, they’ve become such a part of our lives – that we’ve officially dubbed them a ‘Nomadic Port’ for us, and they now have the sign to prove it! They always welcome us with an open driveway, power, shared meals, long hot showers, WiFi and friendship. What more could a nomad want?

My mother also drove up for a weekend away, as she’s become close with them as well. So it was extra special to get some bonus time with everyone.

My mom visiting us in Georgia!

My mom visiting us in Georgia!

An excellent visit, and it was wonderful to be around friends who understand the magnitude of a project like RVillage and could share in our excitement (and exhaustion) of being in the midst of it all!

We’ll definitely miss these guys as we start heading westward for a while!

Wine on the Horizon!

Wine on the Horizon!

Next up, was a repositioning across the state to Perry, GA to the Georgia National Fairgrounds, the site of the big FMCA Rally – our first big RV Rally.  The timing was perfect for us – right on our route (or lack thereof), several friends already planning to attend and the launch of a major new RV product we’re involved with.

An RVillage Meet-up hosted by the Geeks on Tour at FMCA.

An RVillage Meet-up hosted by the Geeks on Tour at FMCA.

In fact, our friends at the Geeks on Tour have taken quite a liking to RVillage (thank you for the RV.Net posting guys!) and hosted a Get-Together planned entirely on the platform. We had quite an attendance last evening upon our arrival, including finally getting to meet Linda & Howard of RV-Dreams.

At this exact moment, I’m finishing up this post while we’re still in a temporary parking location, as the main parking was shut down when we arrived due to the rain.

Hopefully soon we’ll get situated in our spot for the week and we can get out and explore what these big RV rallies are all about!

What’s Next?  We actually have no clue. Other than we need to be to northern Nevada by late August for Burning Man (yes, we got tickets!) and then Oregon by early September for volunteer hosting Cape Blanco Lighthouse again.  We’ll take some time meandering across the country, and hopefully catch up on some sleep!  We’re watching the weather, and will probably pass through St. Louis sometime in the next few weeks once spring arrives there. Other than that, we’re letting serendipity be our navigator!

 

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Introducing RVillage.com – Technomadia’s ‘Secret Project’ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/introducing-rvillage-com-technomadias-secret-project/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/introducing-rvillage-com-technomadias-secret-project/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 15:28:42 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14154 It started last August. We had just wrapped up closing down Cherie’s family business, which had been the focus of her career and her primary source of income for the past 20 years. After several back-to-back major life challenges, we announced that we were excitedly looking forward to treating ourselves to a bit of a mini-sabatical – focusing on our own apps, books, and small projects for a while. We even had a snazzy new logo created for our own partnership, Two Steps Beyond LLC, and polished up our professional web presence. We wrote at the time: Fortunately we are both skilled at setting intentions, and then letting go of our attachment to them. Because just a few weeks later we got an email from another full-time RVer named Curtis: We get emails like this occasionally, and had gotten several all at once after we announced we shut down the family business. We were sincere that we weren’t looking for new gigs, but we followed up nicely to them all and offered consultation sessions. All of our replies pointed out that we were mainly focused on our lighthouse hosting duties and in no rush to explore new opportunities. A few weeks later, Curtis poked us again: That email lead to a great phone call, with Curtis revealing a very intriguing project, and all of us discovering some amazing serendipitous threads of connection and entwined history – even though we had never met. But there was no obvious path forward – we weren’t looking to take on anyone else’s big project, and a skilled team made up of veterans from Couchsurfing.org (which grew to support 7 million members!) was already on board. We told Curtis we were happy to brainstorm further with him, and it looked like our paths were likely to cross soon. The seeds were planted, and in early November we at last came face-to-face with Curtis on a magically serendipitous night in the desert. Curtis shared with us his dream for creating something amazing for RV’ers craving community on the road – something he was calling RVillage. “RVillage… Our Village.” Kinda catchy. It was a realization of something we had wished for in all our years on the road – and he had the funding, a development team, and a solid business plan for bringing it into reality. He told us he knew we had some big role in this, we just had to define it. We’re very experienced full time RVers We have navigated the challenges of finding community on the road We know social media inside and out We orchestrate unique product launches We love being part of bringing something unique and new to the world We are very technical and can interface with development teams We know, and are known by, a lot of other RVers We realized that this project had our name written all over it, and by the time we were back on the road eastward, we knew we couldn’t NOT be involved. We were in rare place in our lives where we had both the time and banked savings to invest ourselves into a speculative project that inspired us so much. So we agreed to join the RVillage core team as advisors and “Launch Specialists” to add our unique perspective and talents. And since early November we have been working (literally!) every day to help bring this dream into reality. So much for avoiding life encompassing projects! Sometimes the universe completely ignores the intentions you set, and gives you exactly what you need. And now… Introducing RVillage! The core idea of RVillage is to create a very simple (and free) tool for RVers to connect with each other – not just online, but right in the RV parks and places they are currently staying in. When a user checks into a location in RVillage, they can discover the things that they have in common with other RVers right around them. This sure beats leaving connections up to chance encounters while walking the cat, or the random stranger coming up asking “what type of engine is in that thing?” while you are busy dumping the tanks. “With RVillage, an RV park full of strangers becomes a village full of friends.”   And RVillage isn’t just about making new friends out on the road – it also features shared mapping tools that let you track your current friends across the country and plan future rendezvous together. Even better – you can create both public and private groups to keep in touch with people who share your interests. Everything from smaller special interest groups to larger organizations will be able to have a presence on RVillage with a central map showing where everyone in the group is currently checked in at. This is the sort of “Nomad Proximity Detector” tool that we have long craved in our own nearly 8 years years on the road. Here’s a preview video our team put together to explain the RVillage concept: RVillage aims to answer some of the common questions we see daily in blogs, forums, and groups: How can I meet like minded people on the road, when I’m only in town for a few days? Who else is traveling in this part of the country right now? Where will people be converging this winter? How can I meet my new neighbors in a campground, skip the small talk, and get to the deeper things we share in common? I keep literally passing my RVing friends on the highway – isn’t there a better way to know when we are near each other? How can I find RV Parks that are more social, offering more than just a place to park? RVillage is not just another social network focused on keeping people virtually connected and online. This is about using technology to make more real life connections happen offline. “It’s not only about the places we go, it’s also about the people we meet along the way.” We’ve partnered with Allstays for our park directory so nearly every RV park in the country is already in the system – including many in Canada. You’ll be able to browse the profiles of others in the park – and you can then message them directly and organize or attended get-togethers. You can post on the park’s feed and ask about local things to see, or about borrowing a ladder, or seeing who might be up for a photography expedition or grocery run. Or just hanging out around a campfire. And RVillage can become a conduit for communication between park management and their village – relaying information ranging from propane delivery schedules to weather alerts – “Bring in the awnings tonight!” It’s super focused on the RVing lifestyle – full timers, part timers, vacationers, and seasonal RVers alike. RVillage has been created by RVers for RVers, and we couldn’t be more excited. Ready to Join RVillage? Building RVillage has been a massive undertaking, and a lot of pieces have had to come together in a relatively short time. After a couple months of conducting intense focus groups (yup, serendipity perfectly timed the development cycle with our Cedar Key convergence to provide an ideal social RVing environment!), and hosting hundreds of private  previews – we think what we have in RVillage today is a solid very functional foundation. But we know we are not nearly done yet. There are still rough edges to smooth out, plenty of big and little bugs to squash, and a lot of potential that is still evolving as we work out the implementation details. No one has ever created a site and community quite like RVillage before – and we have decided to invite the public in before the site is perfect with a “Public Beta” period beginning today. Our intention is to turn “beta” into a badge of honor, indicating that we are being developed out in the open taking community feedback to heart. In part we are doing this because we just couldn’t keep it secret any longer – so many of our preview users have been having a hard time holding back their excitement wanting to share about RVillage already. Lots of awesome stuff is still under development and coming soon – such as  support for smartphones, boondocking sites, and travelers in Mexico. We know that an active and involved village is the best way to determine what features are actually the most important to prioritize. So if you’re up for joining us in continuing to shape this amazing tool as a community, we invite you to set up your free profile here: You can start making new friends right away, connect with existing ones, and finding the most social RV Parks along your route ahead! There is a Technomadia Fans group for readers of this site, and of course the all-important Kiki Fan Club. And if you’d like to be part of the conversation around submitting bugs and ideas for future improvements, as well as getting updates about major new features & fixes – we also invite you to join us on our RVillage Beta Feedback group. Even before launch, RVillage already has had several success stories of new friendships made and existing ones strengthened. We are so excited to see the impact that this project will have on the RVing world! RVillage will always be free for us RVers, and even for the RV Parks who can choose to claim their parks and become social RVing hubs. The funding will come from the location aware service directory that you’ll see on the right hand side of the screen featuring RV friendly businesses who are advertising and supporting the community. We have teams already out on the road getting RV Parks to claim their parks and encourage their guests to sign into RVillage. They are also selling advertising to local RV friendly businesses. The service directory has actually proven to be a favorite feature in our preview testing – providing a valuable tool that will make it easier for us RVers to find the things we need when we’re just in town for a short while. Imagine – useful advertising focused on the needs of RVers, and relevant to where you are at right now!   So this is it – the ‘secret project’ we have been teasing about. If you are at all excited by the potential here – tell your friends, share this post, and help us spread the word! As RVillage.com grows, we all benefit by increasing the number of people we can connect with on the road. We are so excited to finally be able to talk about this!! Follow RVillage on: Facebook | Twitter  |  Google+  | YouTube   A couple notes: If you need assistance with RVillage, please use the ‘Contact Us’ link on the bottom of every RVillage page (including the landing page).  You can also contact customer service directly by e-mailing support@rvillage.com. RVillage is focused on the USA, and will gradually grow to support locations in Canada and Mexico. You can also set your location to anything you desire (including ‘At Home’, ‘Out in the Boonies’, ‘On Vacation’, etc. under the ‘No, I’m Not in a Park’ location option. This will take you entire ‘off the map’ as well if you don’t want to share your location.)]]>

It started last August.

We had just wrapped up closing down Cherie’s family business, which had been the focus of her career and her primary source of income for the past 20 years.

After several back-to-back major life challenges, we announced that we were excitedly looking forward to treating ourselves to a bit of a mini-sabatical – focusing on our own apps, books, and small projects for a while.

We even had a snazzy new logo created for our own partnership, Two Steps Beyond LLC, and polished up our professional web presence.

We wrote at the time:

We’re just not ready to dive into another life encompassing project until we’ve had a chance to reground after being in a continual crisis mode for so long.

Fortunately we are both skilled at setting intentions, and then letting go of our attachment to them.

Because just a few weeks later we got an email from another full-time RVer named Curtis:

“I just spent about an hour on your site, again, and I want to connect with you! As a reminder, our mutual friend tried to connect us a couple of years ago but we blew it off.… The reason I am contacting you now is I think I have a development job for you if at all interested.”

IMG_8952

Our focus – volunteering at Cape Blanco.

We get emails like this occasionally, and had gotten several all at once after we announced we shut down the family business.

We were sincere that we weren’t looking for new gigs, but we followed up nicely to them all and offered consultation sessions. All of our replies pointed out that we were mainly focused on our lighthouse hosting duties and in no rush to explore new opportunities.

A few weeks later, Curtis poked us again:

“I am really hoping to connect with you, and am wondering if you have time for a call in the NEAR future?”

That email lead to a great phone call, with Curtis revealing a very intriguing project, and all of us discovering some amazing serendipitous threads of connection and entwined history – even though we had never met.

But there was no obvious path forward – we weren’t looking to take on anyone else’s big project, and a skilled team made up of veterans from Couchsurfing.org (which grew to support 7 million members!) was already on board.

We told Curtis we were happy to brainstorm further with him, and it looked like our paths were likely to cross soon.

“Can’t wait to meet ya and show you where we are at with this “baby” I am having!”

Debuting RVillage at our Cedar Key Convergence - our month long focus group.

Debuting RVillage at our Cedar Key Convergence – our month long focus group.

The seeds were planted, and in early November we at last came face-to-face with Curtis on a magically serendipitous night in the desert.

Curtis shared with us his dream for creating something amazing for RV’ers craving community on the road – something he was calling RVillage.

“RVillage… Our Village.”
Kinda catchy.

It was a realization of something we had wished for in all our years on the road – and he had the funding, a development team, and a solid business plan for bringing it into reality.

He told us he knew we had some big role in this, we just had to define it.

We realized that this project had our name written all over it, and by the time we were back on the road eastward, we knew we couldn’t NOT be involved. We were in rare place in our lives where we had both the time and banked savings to invest ourselves into a speculative project that inspired us so much.

So we agreed to join the RVillage core team as advisors and “Launch Specialists” to add our unique perspective and talents.

And since early November we have been working (literally!) every day to help bring this dream into reality.

So much for avoiding life encompassing projects!

Sometimes the universe completely ignores the intentions you set, and gives you exactly what you need.

And now… Introducing RVillage!

RVillage_Logo_Final

The core idea of RVillage is to create a very simple (and free) tool for RVers to connect with each other – not just online, but right in the RV parks and places they are currently staying in.

When a user checks into a location in RVillage, they can discover the things that they have in common with other RVers right around them.

This sure beats leaving connections up to chance encounters while walking the cat, or the random stranger coming up asking “what type of engine is in that thing?” while you are busy dumping the tanks.

“With RVillage, an RV park full of strangers becomes a village full of friends.”

 

Our shared group map from the Cedar Key 2014 Convergence - showing where everyone has scattered to since. Perfect for keeping in touch with new friends made, and planning future rendezvouses.

Our shared group map from the Cedar Key 2014 Convergence – showing where everyone has scattered to since. Perfect for keeping in touch with new friends made, and planning future rendezvouses.

And RVillage isn’t just about making new friends out on the road – it also features shared mapping tools that let you track your current friends across the country and plan future rendezvous together.

Kiki managing her Fan Club on RVillage.

Kiki managing her Fan Club group on RVillage.

Even better – you can create both public and private groups to keep in touch with people who share your interests. Everything from smaller special interest groups to larger organizations will be able to have a presence on RVillage with a central map showing where everyone in the group is currently checked in at.

This is the sort of “Nomad Proximity Detector” tool that we have long craved in our own nearly 8 years years on the road.

Here’s a preview video our team put together to explain the RVillage concept:

RVillage aims to answer some of the common questions we see daily in blogs, forums, and groups:

  • How can I meet like minded people on the road, when I’m only in town for a few days?
  • Who else is traveling in this part of the country right now? Where will people be converging this winter?
  • How can I meet my new neighbors in a campground, skip the small talk, and get to the deeper things we share in common?
  • I keep literally passing my RVing friends on the highway – isn’t there a better way to know when we are near each other?
  • How can I find RV Parks that are more social, offering more than just a place to park?

RVillage is not just another social network focused on keeping people virtually connected and online.

This is about using technology to make more real life connections happen offline.

“It’s not only about the places we go, it’s also about the people we meet along the way.”

Planning Get-togethers within the park you're currently checked into.

Planning Get-togethers within the park you’re currently checked into.

We’ve partnered with Allstays for our park directory so nearly every RV park in the country is already in the system – including many in Canada.

You’ll be able to browse the profiles of others in the park – and you can then message them directly and organize or attended get-togethers.

You can post on the park’s feed and ask about local things to see, or about borrowing a ladder, or seeing who might be up for a photography expedition or grocery run. Or just hanging out around a campfire.

And RVillage can become a conduit for communication between park management and their village – relaying information ranging from propane delivery schedules to weather alerts – “Bring in the awnings tonight!”

It’s super focused on the RVing lifestyle – full timers, part timers, vacationers, and seasonal RVers alike.

RVillage has been created by RVers for RVers, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Ready to Join RVillage?

Building RVillage has been a massive undertaking, and a lot of pieces have had to come together in a relatively short time.

After a couple months of conducting intense focus groups (yup, serendipity perfectly timed the development cycle with our Cedar Key convergence to provide an ideal social RVing environment!), and hosting hundreds of private  previews – we think what we have in RVillage today is a solid very functional foundation.

But we know we are not nearly done yet.

There are still rough edges to smooth out, plenty of big and little bugs to squash, and a lot of potential that is still evolving as we work out the implementation details.

rvillage_logo_road

No one has ever created a site and community quite like RVillage before – and we have decided to invite the public in before the site is perfect with a “Public Beta” period beginning today.

Our intention is to turn “beta” into a badge of honor, indicating that we are being developed out in the open taking community feedback to heart.

In part we are doing this because we just couldn’t keep it secret any longer – so many of our preview users have been having a hard time holding back their excitement wanting to share about RVillage already.

Lots of awesome stuff is still under development and coming soon – such as  support for smartphones, boondocking sites, and travelers in Mexico.

We know that an active and involved village is the best way to determine what features are actually the most important to prioritize.

So if you’re up for joining us in continuing to shape this amazing tool as a community, we invite you to set up your free profile here:

Join us on RVillage.com

You can start making new friends right away, connect with existing ones, and finding the most social RV Parks along your route ahead!

Villagers are beginning to spread across the continent. Come join us!

Villagers are beginning to spread across the continent. Come join us!

There is a Technomadia Fans group for readers of this site, and of course the all-important Kiki Fan Club.

And if you’d like to be part of the conversation around submitting bugs and ideas for future improvements, as well as getting updates about major new features & fixes – we also invite you to join us on our RVillage Beta Feedback group.

Even before launch, RVillage already has had several success stories of new friendships made and existing ones strengthened.

We are so excited to see the impact that this project will have on the RVing world!

RVillage will always be free for us RVers, and even for the RV Parks who can choose to claim their parks and become social RVing hubs. The funding will come from the location aware service directory that you’ll see on the right hand side of the screen featuring RV friendly businesses who are advertising and supporting the community.

The RV Friend Network LLC Team (Don’t look for us in the group picture – we were hyper focused on our part of the launch in Cedar Key, and didn’t attend the sales team training in Las Vegas in February.)

We have teams already out on the road getting RV Parks to claim their parks and encourage their guests to sign into RVillage. They are also selling advertising to local RV friendly businesses. The service directory has actually proven to be a favorite feature in our preview testing – providing a valuable tool that will make it easier for us RVers to find the things we need when we’re just in town for a short while.

Imagine – useful advertising focused on the needs of RVers, and relevant to where you are at right now!

 

So this is it – the ‘secret project’ we have been teasing about.

If you are at all excited by the potential here – tell your friends, share this post, and help us spread the word! As RVillage.com grows, we all benefit by increasing the number of people we can connect with on the road.

We are so excited to finally be able to talk about this!!

Follow RVillage on:

Facebook | Twitter  |  Google+  | YouTube

 

A couple notes:

  • If you need assistance with RVillage, please use the ‘Contact Us’ link on the bottom of every RVillage page (including the landing page).  You can also contact customer service directly by e-mailing support@rvillage.com.
  • RVillage is focused on the USA, and will gradually grow to support locations in Canada and Mexico. You can also set your location to anything you desire (including ‘At Home’, ‘Out in the Boonies’, ‘On Vacation’, etc. under the ‘No, I’m Not in a Park’ location option. This will take you entire ‘off the map’ as well if you don’t want to share your location.)
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Bouncing Around Central Florida http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/bouncing-around-central-florida/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/bouncing-around-central-florida/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 15:15:21 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14140 After our re-charging stay at the gorgeous Sertoma Youth Ranch, it was time to do what we came to Florida for – spend time with family. We had hoped to get in more family time this winter, but many things conspired to make that not happen as much. In particular, Chris’ parents ended up rather spontaneously buying a new house in their retirement community in Spring Hill – which required a complete remodeling that took most of their focus. While we had originally intended Cedar Key to be our winter basecamp to arrange multiple visits, that really didn’t manifest except for the holidays. Of course, our social and work life kept us pretty cemented in Cedar Key anyway. So, Spring Hill would be our next stop to get a few days in with them. Their new house is now re-modeled, and it’s absolutely gorgeous – it’ll be a fine Florida homebase for them. We helped out with wrapping up some house projects for them, got in some quality time catching up and did our best to balance that with still putting in continued long work hours. We’ve now visited Spring Hill several times over the past couple years since they started wintering in Florida – and we’ve yet to find our own groove. While there’s several RV Parks in the area, none of them are quite our style. So on this visit, we went back to Barrington Hills RV Resort (our full review), a park in the Encore system. It’s really kinda dull by our standards, and mostly a mobile home park. But, they honor Passport America and we can book it online – so it met the needs of a cheap place to park nearby. After our visit with his folks, it was time to move on over to Melbourne to be near my mom for a bit and help her out with several projects –  many involving wrapping up my dad’s affairs. The whole relocation from Cedar Key progression was feeling very familiar to last year as we moved over to spend his last days together. So instead of going straight over to Melbourne, we decided to mix in something different. I found a spot at Lake Louisa State Park (our full review) in Clermont available for 2 days, and snagged it.  We generally love Florida State Parks, but this one just didn’t have the same charm as others we’ve visited. But that worked out fine, as our time in Clermont quickly became socially overbooked and we were hardly there. For starters, we have dear friends who live in the area that we wanted to catch up with. And then we discovered our RVing friends Forrest and Mary were down the road at the Orlando Thousand Trails park, so we booked up a dinner date with them – we always love time with those two. And then we discovered that the Traveling Travaglinos were also at Thousand Trails, so we reached out to meetup. They run the Fulltime Families community, which provides a lot of services & resources to RVing families. It was good to meet Kimberly after years of cyberstalking each other. We did get to make use of Lake Louisa’s trails for a morning walk, and exercised our multi tasking abilities to handle work related Skype calls while hiking around one of the many lakes in the park. After a way too busy schedule, our 2 nights were quickly consumed and we made the final drive over to Melbourne. We’ll be here for a week spending time with my mom and catching up with friends in the area. And again, juggling lots of work hours for that secret project we’re so excited about. What’s Next? At present time, it’s looking likely that we’ll head up to the Savannah area mid week to spend some time with dear friends in the area. And then we’re contemplating popping over to Perry, GA for the big FMCA Rally on March 17th. We’ve never been to a big RV-centric rally, and several of our friends are going – so why not? After that, we’ll be looking for some much needed slower pace of everything as we do a slow roll up to St. Louis. Suggestions of some nice parks we can stop at to recharge our introverted homebodied selves at would be much appreciated.      ]]>

After our re-charging stay at the gorgeous Sertoma Youth Ranch, it was time to do what we came to Florida for – spend time with family.

We had hoped to get in more family time this winter, but many things conspired to make that not happen as much. In particular, Chris’ parents ended up rather spontaneously buying a new house in their retirement community in Spring Hill – which required a complete remodeling that took most of their focus.

While we had originally intended Cedar Key to be our winter basecamp to arrange multiple visits, that really didn’t manifest except for the holidays. Of course, our social and work life kept us pretty cemented in Cedar Key anyway.

So, Spring Hill would be our next stop to get a few days in with them.

Kiki digs the new view at her Grandmeow's new Florida house.

Kiki digs the view at her Grandmeow’s new Florida house.

Their new house is now re-modeled, and it’s absolutely gorgeous – it’ll be a fine Florida homebase for them. We helped out with wrapping up some house projects for them, got in some quality time catching up and did our best to balance that with still putting in continued long work hours.

We’ve now visited Spring Hill several times over the past couple years since they started wintering in Florida – and we’ve yet to find our own groove. While there’s several RV Parks in the area, none of them are quite our style.

Nothing too exciting about Barrington Hills RV 'Resort'.

Nothing too exciting about Barrington Hills RV ‘Resort’.

So on this visit, we went back to Barrington Hills RV Resort (our full review), a park in the Encore system. It’s really kinda dull by our standards, and mostly a mobile home park. But, they honor Passport America and we can book it online – so it met the needs of a cheap place to park nearby.

After our visit with his folks, it was time to move on over to Melbourne to be near my mom for a bit and help her out with several projects –  many involving wrapping up my dad’s affairs.

The whole relocation from Cedar Key progression was feeling very familiar to last year as we moved over to spend his last days together.

Our spot at Lake Louisa State Park - nice enough.

Our spot at Lake Louisa State Park – nice enough.

So instead of going straight over to Melbourne, we decided to mix in something different.

I found a spot at Lake Louisa State Park (our full review) in Clermont available for 2 days, and snagged it.  We generally love Florida State Parks, but this one just didn’t have the same charm as others we’ve visited.

But that worked out fine, as our time in Clermont quickly became socially overbooked and we were hardly there. For starters, we have dear friends who live in the area that we wanted to catch up with. And then we discovered our RVing friends Forrest and Mary were down the road at the Orlando Thousand Trails park, so we booked up a dinner date with them – we always love time with those two.

Meeting Kimberly Travalingo of Full Time Families.

Meeting Kimberly of Fulltime Families.

And then we discovered that the Traveling Travaglinos were also at Thousand Trails, so we reached out to meetup.

They run the Fulltime Families community, which provides a lot of services & resources to RVing families. It was good to meet Kimberly after years of cyberstalking each other.

Multi-tasking - hiking and handling business calls!

Multi-tasking – hiking and handling business calls!

We did get to make use of Lake Louisa’s trails for a morning walk, and exercised our multi tasking abilities to handle work related Skype calls while hiking around one of the many lakes in the park.

After a way too busy schedule, our 2 nights were quickly consumed and we made the final drive over to Melbourne. We’ll be here for a week spending time with my mom and catching up with friends in the area.

And again, juggling lots of work hours for that secret project we’re so excited about.

What’s Next? At present time, it’s looking likely that we’ll head up to the Savannah area mid week to spend some time with dear friends in the area. And then we’re contemplating popping over to Perry, GA for the big FMCA Rally on March 17th. We’ve never been to a big RV-centric rally, and several of our friends are going – so why not?

After that, we’ll be looking for some much needed slower pace of everything as we do a slow roll up to St. Louis. Suggestions of some nice parks we can stop at to recharge our introverted homebodied selves at would be much appreciated.

 

 

 

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Food Restrictions and Full Time RVing http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/food-restrictions-and-full-time-rving/ http://www.technomadia.com/2014/03/food-restrictions-and-full-time-rving/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 12:27:15 +0000 http://www.technomadia.com/?p=14118 When I reveal to folks that I have food restrictions – this inevitably leads to questions of how to deal with various dietary concerns while on the road. Can you really get the foods you desire while traveling to a variety of rural and urban places? Will you feel you’re missing out on cultural experiences if you can’t sample all of the local cuisine? It can be done with a bit of planning, knowing how to adapt meals & ingredients, asking for what you need, and probably doing more cooking at home. But really, it’s not all that different than eating when you’re living stationary. My Food Restrictions – Gluten Free Semi-Vegetarian Obviously, the below is in no way intended to be dietary or medical advice – and nor am I open to debate on my dietary choices. I’m just sharing so you have some background on my decisions and how I navigate this as a traveler. I consider myself a semi-vegetarian, and have been since high school. I eat eggs, dairy and occasionally have seafood and poultry. (Did you know that in some midwest towns, chicken is seemingly considered a vegetable?!?) I haven’t eaten anything made from the flesh of a mammal in nearly 25 years now. Between a dear friend having great results going gluten free and my 23andMe DNA test coming back showing a relatively higher susceptibility to Celiac, I decided to give the diet a shot. After a month I was convinced. I felt better. I had more energy, a noticeable decrease in joint pain, clearer skin, and less digestive issues. So there’s my primary restrictions – gluten free and semi-vegetarian. Chris, by the way, identifies as a flexitarian freegan opportunivore – meaning that he happily defaults to vegetarian while at home, but “if it’s free – he’ll eat it”, and if it’s a regional delicacy or speciality of the house, he’ll probably take the opportunity to try it. But in general, Chris and I both have a strong preference for non-processed whole foods, and organics. We prefer a lot of fresh vegetables & fruits, and things that don’t come out of packages. We also avoid high fructose corn syrup. When shopping at grocery stores, we generally shop the perimeter of the store. There are of course others navigating much more restrictive diets – whether by choice or for medical reasons. Food Challenges on the Road Here are some of the challenges of dealing with food restrictions and/or strong preferences on the road: Shopping Variation We’re always navigating different grocery stores and farmers markets. So we can’t get used to what is being carried, or even where it might be located. If we’d really like to make a gluten free pizza, we may just not be able to find the same ingredients we used last time. This results in us being flexible to adapt to what we can find, and stocking up on harder to find items. And we love stocking up at Trader Joe’s when we find one on the road! We actually love the variability of food suppliers we encounter on the road, and it forces us to think differently about our own food prep.  I’m not big on following recipes. When I’m feeling creative, I love just going with my instincts or searching the internet for ideas. We do love shopping at local farmers markets to get fresh local produce, and there are apps and website out there (such as http://www.localharvest.org) that track them. But we tend to just let serendipity present them to us in our travels. Restaurants Eating out can be challenging, and some dining establishments just have very limited options that meet my criteria. But usually I can find something without having to resort to a salad. I’ve gotten very comfortable about asking for modifications to menu items to meet my needs. And some larger more progressive cities just have food restrictions down to an art form. I love visiting Austin, Portland, Madison, San Francisco and others… where it seems most restaurants have several menu selections visibly marked as being GF and vegetarian. I can almost get overwhelmed by all the options and choices! And there are mobile apps, like Find Me Gluten Free, which help us locate restaurants that take gluten free food preparation into account. There are probably similar apps out there for most dietary restrictions. And yes, sometimes I do just have to miss out on a region’s known food thing – like skipping VooDoo Donuts in Portland or pasties up in the UP of Michigan. I don’t feel left out on meat-centric local cuisines, as my semi-vegetarian preference is a very conscious choice I’ve made for my own reasons. Group Functions As a past event coordinator myself, I never expect organizers of events to cater to dietary needs – they have enough on their plates as is. But that does add some challenges in attending rallies and conferences where food is included in the price. I really appreciate it when an event presents the menu in advance, so that I can make an informed decision about what meals I’ll be able to eat – and when I need to prepare my own food. Since meals are often times part of the schedule with seminars before & after, I’m left having to decide to skip sessions to cook my own meals or opt out of the social time over meals to eat a home. But heck, I love attending events in my RV home and having the easy option to take care of my own needs. And potlucks.. oh goodness, those can be very difficult for those with food restrictions. I always prepare a dish I can eat and make sure there is ample in case its the only thing I can eat. And, I  label my dish as ‘Gluten Free Vegetarian’ and with any common food allergens listed. It would be so helpful if more food contributions were labeled as well. As we do enjoy attending group functions like rallies, we just factor all of these things into our logistics of attending. But, it does honestly become frustrating at times.   All and all, I don’t feel that living on the road with food restrictions is too much of a problem.  We cook a lot at home – it’s just easier and cheaper. But we do eat out when we have options that are close by, affordable and with flexible menus.  And it always touches me when someone takes my food restrictions into account when preparing food to share with us. Any other tips for navigating the country around food restrictions? I’d love to hear them in the comments, as I’m sure others would too.]]>

When I reveal to folks that I have food restrictions – this inevitably leads to questions of how to deal with various dietary concerns while on the road.

We enjoy grilling at home when we're set up for a bit.

We enjoy grilling at home when we’re set up for a bit.

  • Can you really get the foods you desire while traveling to a variety of rural and urban places?
  • Will you feel you’re missing out on cultural experiences if you can’t sample all of the local cuisine?

It can be done with a bit of planning, knowing how to adapt meals & ingredients, asking for what you need, and probably doing more cooking at home.

But really, it’s not all that different than eating when you’re living stationary.

My Food Restrictions – Gluten Free Semi-Vegetarian

Too many zucchinis? Google to the rescue!  Zucchini cookies and casserole.

Too many zucchinis? Google to the rescue! GF Zucchini cookies and casserole.

Obviously, the below is in no way intended to be dietary or medical advice – and nor am I open to debate on my dietary choices. I’m just sharing so you have some background on my decisions and how I navigate this as a traveler.

I consider myself a semi-vegetarian, and have been since high school. I eat eggs, dairy and occasionally have seafood and poultry. (Did you know that in some midwest towns, chicken is seemingly considered a vegetable?!?)

I haven’t eaten anything made from the flesh of a mammal in nearly 25 years now.

Between a dear friend having great results going gluten free and my 23andMe DNA test coming back showing a relatively higher susceptibility to Celiac, I decided to give the diet a shot.

After a month I was convinced. I felt better. I had more energy, a noticeable decrease in joint pain, clearer skin, and less digestive issues.

So there’s my primary restrictions – gluten free and semi-vegetarian.

Chris, by the way, identifies as a flexitarian freegan opportunivore – meaning that he happily defaults to vegetarian while at home, but “if it’s free – he’ll eat it”, and if it’s a regional delicacy or speciality of the house, he’ll probably take the opportunity to try it.

But in general, Chris and I both have a strong preference for non-processed whole foods, and organics. We prefer a lot of fresh vegetables & fruits, and things that don’t come out of packages. We also avoid high fructose corn syrup. When shopping at grocery stores, we generally shop the perimeter of the store.

There are of course others navigating much more restrictive diets – whether by choice or for medical reasons.

Food Challenges on the Road

Here are some of the challenges of dealing with food restrictions and/or strong preferences on the road:

Shopping Variation

Yum! Farm fresh produce is the best!

Yum! Love Farm fresh produce!

We’re always navigating different grocery stores and farmers markets. So we can’t get used to what is being carried, or even where it might be located.

If we’d really like to make a gluten free pizza, we may just not be able to find the same ingredients we used last time. This results in us being flexible to adapt to what we can find, and stocking up on harder to find items. And we love stocking up at Trader Joe’s when we find one on the road!

We actually love the variability of food suppliers we encounter on the road, and it forces us to think differently about our own food prep.  I’m not big on following recipes. When I’m feeling creative, I love just going with my instincts or searching the internet for ideas.

Tip: For the rare dry goods that we want on hand, we bulk buy on Amazon.com, and have them delivered for free via our Prime account.

We do love shopping at local farmers markets to get fresh local produce, and there are apps and website out there (such as http://www.localharvest.org) that track them. But we tend to just let serendipity present them to us in our travels.

Restaurants

Food sensitivity menus can be found online for many restaurants! I use my iPad to look them up right from my table.

Food sensitivity menus can be found online for many restaurants! I use my iPad to search ‘Gluten Free’ and the restaurant’s name – right at the table. It can be faster sometimes than asking our server for a printed copy!

Eating out can be challenging, and some dining establishments just have very limited options that meet my criteria. But usually I can find something without having to resort to a salad. I’ve gotten very comfortable about asking for modifications to menu items to meet my needs.

And some larger more progressive cities just have food restrictions down to an art form. I love visiting Austin, Portland, Madison, San Francisco and others… where it seems most restaurants have several menu selections visibly marked as being GF and vegetarian. I can almost get overwhelmed by all the options and choices!

And there are mobile apps, like Find Me Gluten Free, which help us locate restaurants that take gluten free food preparation into account. There are probably similar apps out there for most dietary restrictions.

And yes, sometimes I do just have to miss out on a region’s known food thing – like skipping VooDoo Donuts in Portland or pasties up in the UP of Michigan. I don’t feel left out on meat-centric local cuisines, as my semi-vegetarian preference is a very conscious choice I’ve made for my own reasons.

Group Functions

As a past event coordinator myself, I never expect organizers of events to cater to dietary needs – they have enough on their plates as is. But that does add some challenges in attending rallies and conferences where food is included in the price. I really appreciate it when an event presents the menu in advance, so that I can make an informed decision about what meals I’ll be able to eat – and when I need to prepare my own food.

From a recent RV rally potluck - hardly anyone labeled their contributions.

From a recent RV rally potluck – hardly anyone labeled their contributions.

Since meals are often times part of the schedule with seminars before & after, I’m left having to decide to skip sessions to cook my own meals or opt out of the social time over meals to eat a home. But heck, I love attending events in my RV home and having the easy option to take care of my own needs.

And potlucks.. oh goodness, those can be very difficult for those with food restrictions. I always prepare a dish I can eat and make sure there is ample in case its the only thing I can eat. And, I  label my dish as ‘Gluten Free Vegetarian’ and with any common food allergens listed. It would be so helpful if more food contributions were labeled as well.

As we do enjoy attending group functions like rallies, we just factor all of these things into our logistics of attending. But, it does honestly become frustrating at times.

 

All and all, I don’t feel that living on the road with food restrictions is too much of a problem.  We cook a lot at home – it’s just easier and cheaper. But we do eat out when we have options that are close by, affordable and with flexible menus.  And it always touches me when someone takes my food restrictions into account when preparing food to share with us.

Any other tips for navigating the country around food restrictions? I’d love to hear them in the comments, as I’m sure others would too.

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