What’s Next?

Apr 20

What’s Next?

Three weeks. It’s only been three weeks since our last post yet so much has happened.  We made our beeline home and arrived on time. We cleaned up and unpacked the Tardis and I was home for a whole day before I flew to Oklahoma City for a little storm chasing. It was just a couple of days but after spending months on the road, I loved the idea of just being out for a couple of days instead of a week or more like we usually do. Also, I would much rather be in someone else’s van when the big storms roll across the plains than towing an Airstream! After a couple of days of chasing through Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas, I flew back home and the next chapter began. When we started this trip, we had a number of questions that we wanted to answer but the biggest one was also the most vague. That questions was, “What’s next?” Leslie had finished writing and had published the book she had been working on for several years. I was finishing a long term project at work. We had sold our big house that we raised our kids in and they were both in (or through) college. With all of the distractions and familiarity of home, though, we couldn’t really get ourselves very far into that question. We needed to really shake things up – tear ourselves away from the familiar and jump into the discomfort of different. So we embarked on the planning and then the execution of the first leg of our travels in the Tardis. When we got home, we knew we were pretty close to being able to being able to answer the question but we needed just a little more time to process what we had learned. Here are some of the big lessons. We love Whidbey Island, and Langley in particular. While we were on the road, I wondered “What if we lived here?” about every place we visited or thought about visiting. While lots of the places we saw were fascinating or lovely, none of them matched what we love about the Seattle area and Whidbey Island. Am I done with work?...

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Seacocks and Spelunking

Jan 25

Seacocks and Spelunking

It’s a funny thing when you tell people you’re going to be RVing full-time. They tend to assume your life will now be margaritas on the beach 24/7. They think of the best times they’ve had in an RV, or, even more likely, the pictures they’ve seen in magazines, and they think that’s the lifestyle. Well, just like anything else in life, it’s part of the lifestyle. But there’s still regular old life that happens, too. Case in point: clogged toilets. This new Airstream of ours has a macerating toilet, which means it shreds up the “contents” of the toilet before it flushes them into the black water tank. I’m not sure why this is considered a useful feature. Perhaps one of you readers can tell me. But I will tell you this. The goddamn macerator gets clogged at the drop of a hat. Oh, this also means our toilet is an electric toilet and anytime the macerator has to strain in the tiniest bit it blows a fuse. Yes, you read that last line correctly: Our toilet regularly blows a fuse. You can buy special RV toilet tissue that’s quite expensive but promises to flush and break up easily. It’s pretty much tissue paper. We’d heard that any toilet paper that was labeled “septic safe” would work, so we bought a roll of “septic safe” Scott 2-ply. This was the first time we discovered what owning a macerating toilet was really all about.  It spun that “septic-safe” 2-ply paper into cotton rope and jammed up good. Learning that lesson, we reverted to regular ol’ Scott one-ply. Problem solved. Except, if you use too much it still sometimes blows a fuse. Now to last night: I was very tired and cleaning my face with a disposable face wipe.  I absent-mindedly threw it in the toilet and flushed. The toilet immediately made the loud buzzing/roaring sound that we now know means the macerator’s jammed. “What did you do this time?” Chris asked from the bed. Here’s some free marital advice: Never ask that question to your spouse. Ever. We went to sleep and figured we’d deal with it in the morning.  The Sealand 8100 Series MasterFlush™ manual says to clear...

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Anaheim Resort RV Park and Disneyland

Jan 22

Anaheim Resort RV Park and Disneyland

Where do you go after three weeks on the road in an Airstream? We’re going to Disneyland! After being a bit ahead of schedule after last week’s planning oops, we figured a stop at one of our favorite places. The Anaheim Resort RV Park is about 1.5 miles from the theme parks, much closer as the crow (or Tinkerbell) flies. In fact, we can see the top of the Matterhorn from the Tardis and watch the fireworks from our picnic table. The park is clean and handy and not too expensive considering its location. Yesterday, we went to the parks with Tiki. She really liked riding the tram from the parking garage to Downtown Disney got to stay at the Disneyland Kennel Club and we got 1 day park hopper passes. The parks were almost empty – one of the real advantages of going on a Tuesday in late January. We started with California Adventure and, as is our tradition, the first stop was Soarin’ over California. If you haven’t been, it is a great ride where they lift you up into a giant IMAX dome and then play a movie where you are flying south across California, pretty much making the same stops that we’ve made over the past couple of weeks. We also flew over Anza-Borrego Desert State Park which is our destination early next week and San Diego where we’re headed at the end of February. After Soarin’ we walked around the rest of California Adventure. The most impressive part is the new Cars Land. The set they’ve built for the racing ride is a truly epic Desert Southwest re-creation and the life size Radiator Springs from the movie Cars is really cool as well. The afternoon was spent in Disneyland Park, checking out some new stuff (there’s quite the Xbox One exhibit at Innoventions, as well as a full set of Ironman suits and Thor’s gear) and visiting our favorite classic rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, both of which have had some updates since our last visit. Today was a work day and catching up on a few errands, one of which was giving the Tardis a bath. She needed it...

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Bullards Beach State Park in Bandon, Oregon

Jan 04

Bullards Beach State Park in Bandon, Oregon

Friday was a chores kind of day. We drove to Eugene, Oregon in the morning and took our Airstream to Sutton RV where we shared a long list of things that needed attention. The big thing was the macerating toilet which was just doing nothing. After that, our monitor panel needed calibration and out batteries were not charging properly. While they were working on the trailer, we spent the day driving around Eugene and doing lots of little chores – taking Tiki to the dog park, doing laundry, grocery shopping, picking up random doo-dads that we need like an extra lynch-pin for the trailer hitch. Then we picked up the trailer and drove to Premier RV Resort in Coburg. Premier is a nice park with big pull-through spaces but we didn’t plan on spending much time there, we didn’t even unhitch from the trailer. This morning, we left Premier RV and headed for Bandon.  I’ve always wanted to see Bandon, really I’ve always wanted to play golf at Bandon Dunes and I am going to try to get out and play while we’re here.  The drive down here was really nice – it’s amazing how much nicer everything is when you get off the interstate. Our path wound through farmland and small towns, following the Umpqua River for most of the way. Shortly before Reedsport, we passed the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area which had several herd of elk quite close to the road. There was a great place to pull over and see them though I missed the turn and there wasn’t a better place to turn around so we chalked that up to a missed opportunity but agreed that we would stop for places like that in the future. The next stop was the Umpqua River Lighthouse where we watched whales migrating south from the high bluff in front of the light house. Then it was time to continue our trip to Bandon.  We arrived at Bullards Beach State Park and grabbed a nice campsite.  We’re staying here for 3 nights (luxury!) so that we can get some work done, I can try to squeeze in a round at Bandon Dunes, and I can get out and...

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Harnessing the power of the sun!

Nov 28

Harnessing the power of the sun!

After lots of discussions and research, and also after being tired of the batteries always being dead on the trailer after a few days of non-use, we decided to add a solar panel to the top of the Tardis. We went with a Zamp 150 Watt panel and the updated Zamp 4 stage controller. Now I’m reading up on all of the details of this new addition. I am glad to be able to actually tell how much power we’re using and how the batteries are recharging. This will definitely be useful information once we’re out on the road. When we’re traveling and not plugged in at a campground, I expect we will be using power faster than the solar panel can regenerate though it should definitely work as a battery extender – making the batteries last much longer than they would without it and keeping them topped off while we’re rolling. We also have a portable solar panel that we can plug in if the one of the roof is too shaded or if we just need a bit more power while we’re camping. We also installed a couple of MaxxAir II covers over the Fantastic Fans so that they can stay open even when it is raining and we needed to move the cellular antenna to install it but with these changes, I think we have everything in place for the start of our trip – at least on the roof. Pictures coming as soon as I remember to take them...

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Antenna installation success!

Nov 11

Antenna installation success!

It took a lot longer than expected, but I finally got both the WiFiRanger Sky and the cell booster antenna installed on the Tardis. As we learned in the previous post, there’s a lot of structure inside the Airstream so running wires doesn’t really work over any particular distance. In the end, the solution was to mount the Sky on an aluminum box so that the I can route the wire coming out of the bottom in a different direction. Then run the wire on the top of the trailer closer to the location of the roof locker and then bring it into the roof locker through the hole I drilled previously. For the Laird cellular antenna, I made a little stand out of some aluminum that raised it up a little so the wire could also go along the roof and go into the trailer with the wire from the WiFiRanger Sky. After some caulk and rivets, both units are firmly in place. The Sky is mounted over the hole that I drilled previously (hey, if the location was good then, it’s good now) and the caulk I used as adhesive and sealant fills in that hole. I thought about building a similar stand for the WiFiRanger Sky as I made for the cellular antenna, but I worried that the extra size and weight of the box might be problematic.  Plus, I needed to patch the hole that I drilled previously, so win-win! After running the wires into the trailer and completing the mounting on the roof, I hooked the Sky into the PoE (Power over Ethernet) adapter and checked our WiFi signal – sure enough the network SSID I had configured popped up.  Success! Next I plugged the antenna wire from the Laird antenna into the Wilson Sleek cellular booster and powered that up.  When I placed my Verizon MiFi into the cradle, the signal jumped from 2 bars to 4 bard (I didn’t check the actual db values, I’ll do that next time) but that is a significant increase in signal. Success #2!   I still have a couple more tasks to complete.  The wires are not yet taped down to the roof (I plan on using...

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