Friday, September 25, 2009

Preparing to fly south this winter

I'm planning to hit the road to work and live full-time in my RV this winter. If all goes well, Millie and I should be headed south by early November in hopes of 5 months of warm snow-free living! Since most of my client projects are in southern states, I had planned to be down there for a number of weeks anyway, so might as well bring the RV rather than fly and live out of hotel rooms!

Last year, I did a 6-week and a couple of 3-week roadtrips with the T@B to get my feet wet with the concept of living and working nomadically. I love my cute little T@B dearly, but those trips made me realize that it wasn't the best solution for extended living/working.

While the T@B was small and could fit into any campsite, it lacked full-fledged "self-contained" capabilities of bigger RVs (i.e. no bathroom, small tanks, limited storage space, no generator, etc). And while it was certainly faster and easier than a pop-up or tent, there was still about 30 minutes of setup/tear-down and hitching time required for me to move from campsite to campsite. So, that really forced me to stay mostly at "full-service" RV parks when I was working (as I needed good cell/wifi coverage at the campsite, and also needed water/electric hookups, and access to decent bath/shower facilities).

Now that I have the View, I'm really looking forward to the new flexibility it will offer for this upcoming season-- being able to literally camp from anywhere and still have my own clean bathroom, electric, and decent tank & storage capacities to boot!

But even more exciting will be the mobility options-- that pretty, quiet campsite that doesn't have a good cell signal for working during the daytime? No problem! Just hop in the driver's seat, start 'er up and drive into town or back to the interstate to find better signal coverage, and work from there for the day. When the tanks need to be emptied/refilled, or laundry needs to be done, or I just don't feel like moving the RV that particular day, I can always stay at an RV park, but it will be nice to not have to stay at one every single night anymore.

So, while I now won't have to plan my itinerary so carefully to find good sites to work and camp from, getting ready to embark on my longest stretch of RV living/working is posing a set of new challenges and preparations to plan out--- how to figure out those "longer-term essentials" to bring with me. My home office has a comfy chair, big monitor, big printers, scanners, and lots of storage space for paper files and reference materials. I certainly can't fit that all into my 24' mini motorhome, but being gone so long, I will need much of it.

So, the past few weeks I've been trying to find "downsized and mobilized" solutions to replace everything I currently use from home. I thought it might be useful to share some of the solutions I've discovered if there are any other roaming technology professionals working & living from the road out there who might find this information useful. I'll be detailing these solutions in my next few posts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Door County Weekend

Just got home from a fun weekend to Door County, Wisconsin (the peninsula in the northeast of the state) with Millie, my friend Kate, and her kids Olivia and Bradley. After arriving late Friday night, we awoke to a perfect sunny day on Saturday and decided to head to my favorite picnic spot on the Lake Michigan side, Cave Point County Park, which features a terrific limestone beach and a number of sea caves in the rocky cliffs. Olivia had fun "rock hopping" (above), while Millie had a good swim in the cold, clear water.

I was also able to capture this quick video before Millie splashed all over the camera lens!
Kate and Bradley decided to play it safe and stay on shore.
After our beach-combing, we ate our picnic lunch and Bradley decided to ham it up with my hat and give me a "home boy" look--

We had a great campsite at Egg Harbor Campground. It's an old KOA that's now run by very friendly owners. Every site was shady and the park had a nice nature trail through an old cherry orchard that was fun to explore. Millie and the kids had a great time together.


On Saturday night, we went to the town of Fish Creek for a traditional Door County fish boil at Pelletier's. The town is very quaint and great for a summer evening walk.

The kids were fascinated by the fish boil and asked the boil master a ton of questions about the process. Basically, they boil a basket of freshly-caught white fish along with another basket of red potatos and onions in large iron kettles over an open fire. As the fish cooks, it's oils rise to the top of the pot, so to get rid of it, the boil master throws a couple cups of fuel into the fire to make it quickly triple in size and cause the pot to "boil over" (thus pushing all the fish oil over the top). The cooks then place a long pole through the pot handles and pull the baskets of food out. These fish boils used to just occur once on a Friday night as a celebration to the week's end, but they are now so popular with tourists, that a number of restaurants do them every 30 minutes all evening on both weekend nights (good thing, because the kids wanted to watch the boil over a couple more times after our dinner!).


On Sunday, we decided to take Highway 42 home along the shore of Lake Michigan. The winds were blowing from the southeast and causing some fog along the coastline, so we didn't get to see much of the lake, however, we did come across this spectacular field of sunflowers in full bloom near Algoma (I only had my point-and-shoot camera with me, but did the best I could to capture it). Quite a wonderful end to a great weekend!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

First Longer Trip - Smokey Mountains

After a successful short trip to the Quad Cities, it was now time to try the View on a longer full-week trip. The godkids were eager to go visit their dad (who works in North Carolina), so their mom and I decided to make a week of it and visit the Smokey Mountains on our way there.

We got a late start out of Chicago (does anyone ever leave for a camping trip earlier than they think they will???!!!), so we decided to drive until we got tired and then just stop somewhere along the way. This is one of the big changes from T@B camping for me-- I can now easily stop in a Wal-Mart or truck stop parking lot and snooze for free than have to find a campground with bath/shower facilities and hookups each night (since the T@B didn't have a shower or generator).

Our first night was spent at a Flying J Truck Stop just outside of Louisville, KY. It was pouring rain and still hotter than heck when we arrived, but no worries-- we just pulled into a free parking space, turned the generator on for air conditioning (like the RVs around us had done), and went to bed. The next morning, we awoke to sunny and clear skies and had a nice hot breakfast at the Flying J restaurant. After topping the View's tank with more diesel, we were on the road again....what a deal!

We stayed at Camp Jellystone in Gatlinburg, TN so the kids could enjoy all the fun kid stuff at the park, and Millie could enjoy a swim in the mountain stream running right behind the camp site!

The next day we explored the national park and took the pretty drive through Cades Cove. The kids had a great time stopping at the historic mill village and exploring the log cabin, barn, and other buildings.











All in all, a fun week with some gorgeous views!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

First Trip - Quad Cities

Well, technically, I've camped out in the View quite a few times already, but it's always been in a driveway! After a few nights in my own driveway, I took the View up to babysit the godkids (ages 8 and 3) and they thought it was great fun to watch DVDs while sitting up in the overhead bunk (I liked that I could keep an eye on the 2 kids much easier in the confines of an RV than chasing them all over the house!).

But after all that driveway camping, one does eventually wish to actually get on the road and get out to a real campground! So, what better way to start than by bringing it to show my camping buddies at the International T@B Rally out in the Quad Cities (IL/IA). Well, I couldn't exactly go to a T@B rally without my T@B, so since my mom was planning to attend with me, I had her drive the Subaru and T@B and I drove the View.

Here's mom getting ready to tow the T@B.


The trip to Sunset Lakes RV Resort only took about 2 hours, and the View did great-- easy to drive and super easy to set up once we got there!




The park had a terrific little paddling lake with paddle boats and canoes available, but I wanted to bring my own canoe.

Only bad thing about the View thus far...can't figure out yet the best way to bring the canoe along--- it's too long to strap onto the rear ladder vertically, and the roof is too high and filled with other stuff to store it up there, so I need to decide if I should get a boat trailer or get a new car that can be towed behind the View and then put the canoe on top of that. Decisions, decisions!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

First Mod - LED replacement bulbs

I love the View's curvy, modern Euro interior and upscale look of the under-cabinet lighting. But after a few nights of driveway camping, I discovered a couple of drawbacks--- first, all those under-cabinet lights are HOT halogen bulbs. Leave 'em on in the winter for a few hours and you've got some nice hand warmers, but doing that in the summer, and they're not much fun to sit under! Second, each of those hot bulbs need 10 watts of power (and there's 9 of them total)-- fine if you're plugged into electric at a campground, but a quick way to drain the coach batteries if you're not.

So, I did a few searches to my trusty View-Navion Yahoo Group site and found a number of other V-N owners using LED replacement bulbs from SuperBrightLEDs.com. The bulbs were a bit pricey ($12/ea) but they last a long time, generate no heat, and best of all, require much less battery power to run (all 9 lights will now require only 1.35 total amps per hour versus 7.5 total amp hours previously, so I now can run the lights all night long for about the same amount of battery power it took to run them only 1 hour before). Best of all, they still have a warm tint to them just like the halogens did.

They look a little odd, but once in the under-cabinet light fixture, you can't see much of a difference. The light itself is a slight bit more diffused, softer, and less intense-- actually, quite nice for spot accent lighting around the coach. Highly recommended product and company!

For those of you who have a View or Navion, here's the actual product number and picture:
It's a G4-xHP6-D Warm White bulb.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Welcome to WinnieViews!

This site will follow the continuing travel adventures of me (Lynne) and my dog (Millie). I had started a travel blog a few years ago when I first got my T@B trailer (http://tabventures.blogspot.com/). When I bought the Winnebago, it seemed only fitting that it should have it's own new blog....and so we begin our next blog series: Winnie Views!

Our new rig is a 2008 Winnebago View 24H. We got a very sweet deal on it from Camping World of Indianapolis and spent the first night in their parking log reading the owner's manuals and having fun trying everything out!



Here are some shots of the interior (note the cushion colors specifically chosen to match Millie's "million hairs" of blond fur...every little bit helps!)--



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