Tuesday, April 13, 2010

RV-Dreams Rally Part 2

Yesterday, since I finally have reliable Wifi access, I was able to update you on the rally activities of Wednesday and Thursday.  Here’s the next installment…

Friday, April 9th



Because we had a cooler overnight, we started the day watching the sun rise with fog over the lake.





Howard and Linda put in a very full day of presentations.



These  included….

Buying an RV, Pros/Cons and Must Haves – Ken and I have sat through several variations of this session in the past and so I used the time to put together my chicken noodle casserole for the evening’s potluck and simply grabbed the handout from the presentation.  I must say though that I am impressed by H+L’s ability to stay unbiased in this presentation since it seems that the opinions on whether you are better with a motorhome or fifth wheel seem to get really touchy with people at times.  As is the case with so many other choices in this lifestyle, with a few exceptions of what is always important, like size of holding tanks, it is largely a matter of individual preference. 

In terms of choice of RV, while playing hooky from this presentation, Ken actually got quite an education from our neighbor who has been a long time Tiffin owner.   As our readers are probably aware, we have talked about upgrading to a Tiffin if our extended time travel experiments here prove to us that being on the road is a good choice for us.

While there is nothing wrong with our current motorhome in terms of must-have’s, and we are actually amazed that we did so well on fit and reliability in our first time purchase,  there are amenities and conveniences that we would like to include if we were living this way every day.  For example, I’d like to have a bigger refrigerator/freezer since today we only buy for about 3 days at a time because of space restrictions.  We would like all leather furniture since with furkids it is much easier to keep ‘de-furred’.   Same with tile floors—I much prefer over carpet, especially when cleaning up after people and furkid muddy paws.  Ken would like to up the size of the inverter and battery bank for more extended off-grid camping. The list goes on.

We are also comfortable now with purchasing a used unit since we have a better idea of what to check out.  We have always been impressed with the Tiffin product and visited their plant last fall during our football travels down South.

Richard, our neighbor, was a wealth of information on reasons for looking at certain size Tiffins over others, certain years over others, and what the important differences were between the Phaeton model and the Allegro Bus.  He also had made really cool enhancements to his rig that he explained to Ken in detail and we even took a series of pictures for future reference.  

I’m afraid this has put the itch back in us to start looking at upgrades again.

Boondocking/Solar – Ken and I both made sure we attended this session since we are really intrigued by the idea of boondocking out in the desert after seeing some of the wonderful experiences other RV-Dreamers have had.  After this session I think that we are pretty certain that before we spent money on solar we’d do some trial runs using simply generator power with perhaps bigger inverter and more batteries before adding in solar.

Working on the Road – while my ‘exhaustive and anal’ (ask Ken) number crunching and verifications with Vanguard, Fidelity and firecalc.com, shows that we should, within reason, be able to full-time indefinitely without working, we still wanted to attend this session to get ideas just in case we chose to do workcamping.  We know many couples who do not have to do this but still find it an enjoyable alternative for a few months every year. 

I think the funniest comment of the whole seminar was made in this session.  One of the gentleman who, like Howard, was a lawyer in his previous life, said he too preferred, like Howard,  preferred taking a job that included cleaning park restrooms (btw, those are usually paid jobs – not volunteer hosting jobs) rather than going back to being an attorney….someone else in the audience quipped that “while it might still be dirty work, at least now it was honest work!”

Manage your Digital Photos with Google’s Picassa -  Geeks on Tour put on this presentation and, I must say, that I was blown away by this free tool and what it could do.  I’ve since switched over to doing all my photo storage and work with Picassa and I think the quality of my shared photos are so much better than before.  If you, like most of us, spend time cleaning up, organizing and sharing your digital photos and have not used Picassa, I urge you to take some time, do the free download and try the product--very impressive.  The Geeks on Tour also have a lot of free tutorials, tips and tricks on their website and even send out a free weekly newsletter tip of the week on Picassa.  As a Google product, Picassa also integrates seamlessly with Blogger and Gmail so I’m finding myself beginning to feel comfortable with the portfolio of free applications from Google that seem to be becoming my lifeline for communication to the outside world.  It’s amazing, but I think I’ve actually learned more about using my laptop and software applications since I quit working in IT!!



Here’s Chris Guld, the wife and software side of the Geeks, giving their introduction.



That evening was probably one of the most fattening I’ve experienced in years!  These RV-Dreamers do know how to put on a Potluck!!  Everyone seemed to outdo themselves in making something absolutely luscious.

After the dinner, we played a unique game of RV-Dreamers Family Feud put together by Howard and Linda.  They had in the past months put survey questions out on their website to get opinions on key questions relevant to the RV lifestyle.

Questions were things like, “What might an RVer forget when packing up and leaving his campsite?”,  “What is an activity in which you frequently participate at campgrounds?”, “Name one important feature you look for when shopping for an  RV?” or “What might you expect to see marked on a campground map”?

We split in to 8 teams and had an absolutely hilarious time trying to guess the top answers to the various questions.   The answers people spouted out when they  had only seconds to answer could be downright silly!

In this picture, Ken tries to save his team from getting the final ‘X’ after making it in to the final round. 


By the time we finished the game and helped clean up the room, Ken and I were both exhausted.  He was sweet enough to walk the dogs on his own, then we cleaned up our carry-in dishes and crockpot and then we were quickly off to bed after a long but very enjoyable day!

Hugs, C

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