Saturday, July 17, 2004

Life on Wheels is over :-(   The Life on Wheels conference that is.  I feel that our personal 'life on wheels' is just beginning since this is the first day when we have no destination.  We have to think and come up with where we want to go next!   What a great week this has been.  Imagine if you were changing careers and becoming a meeting planner, for example.  Wouldn't it be great if you could attend the annual Meeting Planners conference within a few months of making your decision?  That's what this has been like.  Think about it ... how many people do you know who live full-time in their RVs?  I mean besides us!  Not very many I bet.  Here at the conference we get to meet LOTS of them.  And take classes from many of the most experienced ones.  What a treat to meet Joe and Vicki Kieva who I feel we know already from reading their column in Highways magazine.  Then there was Mike and Terry Church who write the book on RV travel in Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest, and Europe.  We even got a peek inside their Bigfoot motorhome which they have customized to meet their particular lifestyle.  Here's a photo of what used to be the bedroom!     And, here's Mike in the living room area.  They took out the dinette and put in what looks like a sectional couch right behind where Mike is standing.  They obviously don't place as high a priority on sleep as we do!  Their bed is in the cab over area.       We learned so much from all these people this week.   We learned wonderful stuff Like this tip that was worth the price of admission alone!  Dave Baleria taught a class on GPS and mapping software.  We use a program called Mappoint along with a GPS receiver.  It's great.  The GPS lets us know exactly where we are at any time and the mapping software shows us all the roads, campgrounds, gas stations and restaurants etc.  Dave showed us a website that has lots of downloadable overlay files of other information.  Like all the dump stations in the US, or all the Camping World Stores, or all the City parks that allow overnight camping.  Way Cool! I just downloaded the file for hotsprings and now have the location for 1,437 hot springs all over!   We also learned how to write articles for magazines and how to submit them to editors.  We learned how to travel in Mexico and how to 'boondock' - that is live in your RV without any hookups.    We learned horrible stuff Like we have the wrong tires!  Yep, those brand new tires that we just bought.  They're not rated for amount of weight that we are.  It seems like the folks that sold them to us should have known to check that?!?  But, they were just replacing the tires we had on there - I don't know when those were put on, it couldn't have been from the factory cuz surely they know the right tires.  Tire and weight safety were major topics at this conference.  It does feel good to at least know about this stuff now ... I'm not sure what we're going to do about it.   We learned lots of useful little tips Like when you're cleaning and maintaining the outside of your rig, don't tackle it all at once.  Divide your motorhome into 4 parts: 1) left side, 2) right side, 3) roof and 4) front and back.  Clean and inspect one part every month.  Another tip was to pick up a business card from each campground when you register.  Put the card in your wallet, or on the dash of your towed vehicle.  Then, if something bad happens to you when you're away from your motorhome, the emergency personnel can know where your 'home' is.  We learned to adjust our side view mirrors so that the flat one and the 'wide angle' one overlap just a touch in the middle.   We met lots of other Datastorm users.  There were about a dozen here at the conference.  One afternoon several of us got together.        I love communicating via email, but that face-to-face is so special for really getting to know who people are.  Once they heard about what Jim does, several of them wanted him to come by and set up or fix their networks.  It's amazing how many folks are not only traveling with one computer but two!   As soon as we get rested, we may submit a proposal to be presenters at next year's 'Life on Wheels'.  There was a LOT of interest in computers, digital photography and Wi-Fi, and the people using their computers in their RVs need to know as much about how to use them as anyone else!  I was thinking about Jim doing a 'Basic Computer Maintenance' and I would do a 'How to share your travels with a Weblog'.  Whaddaya think?  Send us email (link at left) or leave a comment (link at bottom). Well, it's starting to clear out now.     Here's one woman we met, getting hooked up ready to go.  She's traveling solo with this big rig! Well, that's not quite true ... she has a dog and a cat with her.        And here's the Gypsy Journal folks taking down their manual Direcway Satellite dish.  They have a hatch in the roof of their coach.  Looks funny doesn't it?     Three months on the road We left Ft. Lauderdale on April 16 - exactly three months ago. Total Miles: 6,513 Total gas cost: $1,260 Total campsite rent: $931 Total RV maintenance costs: $1,013 (tires, oil/lube, loft project)   Hey!  It's July 17.  Happy Birthday Dad Guld!!

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