Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's nice to hear from you!

I received an email from Dave in Annapolis, MD tonight. I love getting email from fellow RVers. Keep 'em coming and I'll do my best to answer your questions...intelligently!

Here's what Dave had to say:

"Future fellow RV'er"

Barb,

I've just finished reading your blog and listening to your "blogtalkradio" shows. I really found it interesting and well written. Like your other "fans", I wish you would write/podcast more often. I'm in Annapolis, MD and I'm getting ready to head out in my RV. I plan on heading out around the first of the year. I'm thinking I will do some local area camping in order to shake out any problems and make sure I have everything that I'll need. After that, I don't really have any plans on where or how long I'll be out on the road. I'm also into riding my motorcycle and need to figure out how to take it with me. One problem I have is deciding which bike to take. I have a full size Harley Ultra Classic and a Kawasaki KLR 650 (dual sport). I like the dolly that you have. According to the manufacturer's website though, my Harley would be too heavy. My KLR would work. That may be the best bike to take since I also love to go exploring dirt roads/off-road etc. The other option is to set up my pickup truck as my toad and have a lift installed in the bed to lift either bike into it.

In any case, I don't want to make this first email too long. One question I have is, how do people treat you as a single person traveling by RV? I think you have a lot of guts to travel like you do as a single female. I really admire that. As a guy, I really don't worry about my safety. I'm just thinking that I may get some of those looks or questions at the campgrounds :) On the other hand, maybe some of the "old ladies" (I'm 46) will take pity on me and invite me for a home-cooked meal once in a while!

Thanks for any info or advice you may have,

Dave
Annapolis, MD

Here's my reply:

Hi Dave!

Thanks for checking out my blog and radio show. I'm happy you've found the info I've shared to be helpful. So, how did you find me out there on the big wide web?

I think you have a really good short term plan as far as doing your shake down close to home. There are many RV resources at your disposal there near Annapolis who can come to your rescue if need be...let's hope you never have to call in the cavalry! I suggest you become a member of Good Sam if you haven't already and definitely purchase their roadside assistance program. It's helped me out in a couple of tough pinches and been worth every penny I paid for it.

I take it you've invested in a diesel RV if your toad will be a pick up truck. That's an interesting idea for taking either bike along with you...be sure you're within your tow rating. I've seen many diesel pushers towing pick ups. I love my dolly, but the tongue is too short and I've managed to jack-knife it and ding the back of my coach. I've called the guy who built my dolly and suggested he design his product with a longer tongue so this won't be an issue.

I'd like to recommend a great place for RV parts and installation: http://www.northernvirginiarecreationalvehicles.com/ that's Restless Wheels in Manassas, VA. I've done quite a bit of business with them and always had stellar results. I do not recommend Reines just off of RT. 66. If you were to take a trip to Manassas in your rig for installation of towing devices or any other fun stuff, stay at Bull Run Regional Park which is only about a 10 minute drive from Restless Wheels. Bull Run is a fantastic place to go for a shake down! They have large rig spaces and the park is gorgeous. Be sure to say hi to park manager Jill for me if you should head that way.

As for your question...well, people always ask me if I'm solo and are pretty surprised when I say yes. So far, so good! I haven't as of yet had any problems as a single RVer. Of course like anything in life, you have to use common sense and go with your gut. If something looks like trouble, smells like trouble or even has a hint of trouble...it's trouble! The nice thing about having a house with wheels is that if I'm not comfortable somewhere, I can always pack up and roll on down the highway.

"Those looks or questions" are the best part of flying solo...so amusing! There are many single RVers out here on the road. I run into a lot of "us". Workamper.com is a good place to network with RVers single and coupled. Check out the links on my blog for other great resources. I've made a ton of RV friends and I make sure to get their email addresses so I can keep in touch with everyone. The chances of me running into most of the folks I've met (again) are slim as we're all over the place, but I've made enduring friendships and email keeps them going. I love writing to my friends and sending them pictures and I enjoy hearing about their adventures too!

I suggest you invest in a Verizon wireless air card. You'll be amazed at all the places where you can get a signal. IMHO Verizon truly has the best network. I also have a portable Wilson Trucker Cell Antenna and extra cable which I mount on my ladder and it boosts my signal. As a matter of fact, I'm able to email you right now because I'm using my wireless card and my booster antenna. You can get an antenna and cable at any truck stop. You'll need an adapter cord specifically for your particular model of wireless card (available from Verizon) which plugs into your laptop or desktop via USB. I don't like to rely on WiFi as it's very unreliable at most RV parks and the signal can be interrupted by wind, clouds, fog or any type of atmospheric condition. Also, as more people hop on to use the WiFi the bandwidth deteriorates and service slows to a crawl. With my wireless card I can get on the web whenever I want to and get reliable service at a decent load speed. For more info go to http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/index.html

In addition to email, I also use Skype for staying in touch with my friends. Skype to Skype computer calls and video chats are FREE! Yahoo Messenger also has voice and video chat with picture and file sharing capabilities and it too is FREE when chatting with another Yahoo Messenger buddy.

And as we all know…FREE is GOOD! ;-)

So, nope...I doubt you'll have any big problems. Just watch your cornering with your toad (use those mirrors) and be very aware of your surroundings at all times...go slow, don't ever be in a rush. Take this tried and true advice and you'll be one very happy camper as you head out and grab on to your very own custom made, make it up as you go along adventure. It's all a process and you'll learn something new every day...that's the fun of it! Not everyone is cut out for this RV life, but for those of us who embrace the lifestyle, we're the lucky ones. A day of RVing sure beats a day at the office...every time! (Unless your office is in your RV.)

Keep the rubber side down and the sunny side up...and blessings on your journey!

All my best,
Barb :-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

I made it...yippee!

I made it to Palm Springs today! I woke up at 4 am and took my time...had breakfast and did a little shopping at the Flying J in Barstow. I left at 7:00 am. The weather was perfect! I took a short-cut across the desert to avoid Monday morning traffic in L.A. / San Bernardino. It was a great ride all the way down. It was beautiful and uneventful, the roads were in great condition, smooth sailing. A few of the hills were daunting and I was down to 25 mph a couple of times with the "toads".

(Toads = tow dolly containing car and motorcycle = 5,000 pounds towing.)

Here's the route:

I shot down 5 South to 18 East through Apple valley (lots of lights, but nice wide roads), continued East on 247 to Yucca valley (down to 2 lanes), then headed South on 62 through Morongo Valley and...voila! I'm in Palm Springs!

I arrived at 9:30 this morning.

Now the work begins. It's time to level the coach and set up the yard. I'll post pictures when I'm all settled in.

Hugs,
Barb

PS: YAY, I'M HERE!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

On the road to Palm Springs!

Hey,

Just wanted to give you an update from the road to let you know how my journey's going. Sunday is a great day to drive! There's been very little traffic. The weather was sunny all the way down to SoCal until I hit Central Valley south of Pasa Robles area...then it was clouds and rain until Bakersfield.

I've just pulled into Barstow. I left the river at 8 this morning and got to Barstow at 8 pm....12 hours on the road. I have just 2 more hours before I hit Palm Springs. I'm at a Flying J, and I plan to boon-dock here tonight and drive the rest of the way in the morning. Also, a hot shower and hot food sound like heaven...and they have both here.

So far it's been a good trip...I napped for an hour at a rest stop on the 5 and stopped at a cute little Mexican Restaurant in Tehachapi, CA for a bite to eat earlier. I've only had to cross over mountains once, otherwise it's been flat all the way.

Ahhh...it feels good to be horizontal on the couch. Thank heavens for lap tops!

Closing for now...
Big hugs,
Barb :-)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

NorCal to SoCal...a big new adventure awaits!

I have a personal tradition. Before I leave a place where I’ve camped, I always burn a ceremonial bon voyage campfire. I’m burning one now as I write this. There’s a nip in the NorCal air…it’s November. The fire consisting of chunks of redwood is burning every hue of red, orange, white…and hot.

I’ve been at Duncan’s Mills Camping Club since the end of August and it’s been absolutely terrific! The atmosphere is laid back, the members who camp here are very friendly, staff and management are wonderful, welcoming people. I’ve settled into my routine here at DMCC, keeping an eye on the gate, making sure our guests are happy and content, answering phones, taking reservations, the usual camp host stuff. It’s been fun and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself.

But now it’s time to move on.

Yes, I’m melancholy as I leave the pristine coastline of NorCal and the Russian River behind. I’ve made lifelong friends while staying here these past 6 months. I’ll have long lasting cherished memories that will bring a smile when I reminisce.

At the end of September, I took a trip down to Palm Springs to check out RV resorts. Yes, that Palm Springs, the picturesque oasis nestled between the glitz and glamour of L.A. and the Colorado River aka the Arizona State line. The Palm Springs where the rich and famous frolic in the arid, scenic California desert. As I drove east on I-10 approaching my exit, the first thing I noticed were the giant windmills, slowly rotating in the wind, row after row, feeding the hungry desert valley with electricity.

I spent 4 grueling days pounding the pavement hitting every RV resort in the area until I found 2 Springs Resort located in North Palm Springs, brand new still in its Phase 1 building stage. Complete with a huge pool, tennis courts, pickle ball courts and the ever important practice putting green, I feel as though I’ve hit the jackpot. I even have a view of the San Jacinto Mountains from my front yard. Not bad! I’ll only be about 10 min. from downtown Palm Springs and golf courses are a-plenty!

I’ll be spending my winter months basking in the warmth of the winter sun, golfing, motorcycling, hiking, exploring and enjoying all the wonders the California desert has to offer.

I’ll be back to NorCal…but until then I look forward to all the promise which awaits me as I step into my new adventure!

I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Barb :-)