T Minus One Day and Counting…

Dec 31

T Minus One Day and Counting…

Well, this is it! We are done with our planning and it is time to go. We are taking our last load of culled stuff from the Tardis back to our house in Langley, putting Leslie’s car in storage and bringing down the last few things that we forgot before – a few toiletries, a couple of photo shot props, a pile of books, a ukulele and just one more hard drive. Tonight we will be attending our favorite New Year’s Eve party at HopKat’s house and then tomorrow morning we hitch up and head out on the road. New Year — New Chapter The last couple of days have been nice. We had a bunch of friends drop by during the Seahawks game on Sunday (Go Hawks!) and took the opportunity to see a couple of movies yesterday while Tiki is at doggie camp until tomorrow morning. I also drove through our old neighborhood in Sammamish. I haven’t really been back there since we moved out in April and things are already changing. New housing developments, a facelift and new stores at the local shopping center. Time marches on. It was nice to visit the neighborhood where we lived for almost 13 years but also good to have the feeling that, while it was a great place to live, it is not where we belong anymore. That chapter is over. 2013 has been a major transition year for us. We decided in late 2012 that we wanted to make the transition to traveling around in an Airstream and living more nomadically. 2013 was the year that we went from having a big house in Sammamish and a small cottage on Whidbey Island to having a small cottage on Whidbey Island and our Tardis and we did a lot of downsizing to get here. This is the year that Leslie finished her book that she has been developing for several years and she has been promoting it ever since. I finished my first Shoot/Week project (and threw in a few bonus weeks for fun). This was also the year that our daughter, Kate, graduated from FIT and started working in her dream job as a fashion designer in New York...

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Jerk Packing

Dec 28

Jerk Packing

Just a few days left before we go and we’re doing the last bit of packing. Making decisions about what goes on the trip and what stays back at the house is tough enough when it we’re just going for a regular vacation but when we’re going to be out for months with a limited space we need to be more picky about what we bring along. As we get to the end, though, it gets a little too easy to keep adding a “few more things” that we might need. I’m calling that Jerk packing, after the scene in the 1979 movie “The Jerk” with Steve Martin where he is leaving his big house saying he doesn’t need anything, but then keeps picking up random things on the way out the door. One of the biggest thing that I keep adding is cables. It seems like you can never have enough USB charging cables for phones, tablets, etc though the real challenge is clothing.  How do you pack for up to a year of travel across the country where you could end up in any climate? And without a washer and dryer in the trailer! My natural inclination is to to be safe and bring too many things and I know that some of the clothes and gadgets we’re bringing aren’t necessary but it is difficult to say WHICH things are unnecessary. For example, we have  couple of folding bikes that we’re very excited about and I think they could come in very handy but they take a fair amount of space in the back of the truck.  Will we ride or won’t we? We really want to do that so we are bringing them. The same goes for our golf clubs.  Leslie hasn’t played much and I’ve played pretty infrequently over the past few years though we both think that this would be a great way for us to both get better and start to play together so those are coming too. And don’t even get me started on electronic gadgets. As a software developer for applications that work with Windows Phones, as well as a developer of iOS apps I need to have at least enough...

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T minus 7 Days: Merry Christmas!

Dec 25

T minus 7 Days: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! We’re enjoying a relaxing Christmas at the cottage on Whidbey Island.  Tomorrow we enter into the last few days of preparation for taking off. This includes things like fitting all of our extra gear in the back of the truck (it’s like a big tetris puzzle), starting mail forwarding, cleaning up the cottage and making sure we have all those little things we may need on the trip (where are those passports?). Oh and taking down the Christmas decorations. But none of that is for today.  Today we celebrate and enjoy our time with the family and we hope you enjoy...

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Last Day in the Office

Dec 23

Last Day in the Office

Last Thursday was my last day in the office. While, technically, our journey doesn’t begin until the new year, this is a big milestone. I’ve worked for Microsoft since 1996 (with one year off for good behavior 😉 ) and I am quite honored that our new leadership is letting me continue in a part-time, remote capacity as we begin our trip. How we work while full-timing in our Airstream is probably going to be one of the recurring topics on this blog and this is that first step – cutting the office cord. Over the many years, I have accumulated lots of stuff in the office. Tchotchkes from different teams and events, awards commemorating product launches or training sessions, loads of books, dozens of handy-yet-unique cables, stacks of patent awards and more old devices than you can shake a stick at. I resolved to keep just enough of these to fill an 18 gallon tub and delete or distribute the rest. The patent awards were the toughest.  When you apply for a patent at Microsoft, you receive a 2-3 inch granite cube engraved with the name of the patent, your name, a brief note of thanks and a coin attached to the top. When the patent is finally approved — usually years later — you get a wooden plaque with the first page of the patent engraved on a metal plate. I had a LOT of these.  More than 40 cubes and about 30 plaques remained in my office, even after an earlier purge attempt at the cubes in a previous move. On Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, I spent some time playing Secret Einstein*. That’s a variation on Secret Santa where, instead of handing out Christmas gifts, I distribute my patent awards to people I worked with over the years. The secret part comes from trying to not let people know what I’m doing and trying to make the awards that I dropped off blend in with their own collection of patents. My hope is that months or years from now, when they are packing up their office for another move or going through their own memorabilia, they will come across the cube or plaque that I delivered...

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How we connect to the internet

Dec 08

How we connect to the internet

We make our living on the internet — posting photos and blogs, writing connected apps, connecting with customers and employers and generally keeping in touch with folks on the net. It is really important that we have the most reliable connection that we can get. Being on the road means that the traditional methods of connecting like cable or DSL are not available to us. Instead we need to have a variety of tools that let us make the most of any situation. A lot of people have been asking how we’ll stay in touch while we’re traveling so this post is all about how we will do exactly that. The simplest option is to use existing WiFi available at campgrounds where we stop. Usually there is free internet access via WiFi in the park but the connections are often pretty weak so the first tool in our arsenal is the WiFiRanger Sky.  This box sits on the roof of the trailer and picks up WiFi signals from a distance and boosts them so that it is strong enough to use in the trailer. In addition, the Sky creates a private network so that our own devices are isolated from other devices in the park which makes it more secure since other people in the park don’t have direct access to our computers or phones. The WiFiRanger Sky is powered by Power over Ethernet (PoE) which means there is a cable that comes out of the Sky box which needs to connect to the power source inside the trailer. This makes installing it a bit more involved (but possible) since you need to drill holes to get the wire inside but once you have it wired up, it is very easy to use. This ethernet connection also means it is possible to hook it up to a router inside the trailer but more on that below. When we don’t have access to WiFi, our next best bet is to use cellular data.  For that, we have a Novatel 4620LE MiFi connected to service through Millenicom. Verizon is actually the data provider which means we have the widest 4G LTE network in the US but Millenicom give us 20 gigabytes of...

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