Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: March 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Protecting your RV from the Campground

Chances are that you will eventually stay at a campground. Boon-docking is becoming more and more popular, but sometimes, it's not feasible i.e. when the temperature drops below freezing or it's summertime heat. Is it safe to connect my rig to the campground's utilities? Don't they have some kind of responsibility to protect my property? In short, no. In fact, every time you check in to a campground, you've probably signed a waiver that pretty much says that the campground isn't responsible for anything, at any time, anywhere.  So the best thing to do is write your own insurance policy - protect yourself.  There are a limited number of ways that you connect to the campground's hook-ups, so we'll keep it simple.

For your electrical, you probably have 110v, 30amp or 50amp hookups.  For 110v, any outdoor-rated surge protector (the higher the joule rating, the more the protection) will work to protect your devices. We have used the combination (left two) below and have found it to work great when we had our 23' toy hauler. 

 

Most RVs are going to have 30 or 50 amp hookups.  I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert on what the difference between the two are.  There is a helpful forum here that explains the how the two differ.  For the purposes of this discussion, they behave in the same way.  Techonology Research makes a few different levels of surge protection.  Since we have sensitive (some expensive!) electronic equipment, we wanted to make sure that we had the best odds against some of the following:
  • Faulty campground wiring
  • Power spikes and surges
  • Lightning strikes
  • Bad or faulty grounds 
Since we have a 50 amp hookup, we opted for the Technology Research 34850.  This one offers a convenient LCD readout giving you status updates and indications on how it's protecting your RV (pics below).  In addition to offering AC (shore power) protection, the portable device also offers 12v DC protection for all of your lighting and DC-powered equipment (cigarette lighter type plug-ins).  TRC (Technology Research) has a built-in battery monitor which is convenient for making sure your batteries are charged safely and maintained at the correct levels, which the 34750 does.  You can see the LCD readout at any time cycling through each of its data points feeding back crucial info on how it's protecting your rig.  Since this is an expensive surge protector, you may want to consider the purchase of a locking kit made specifically for TRC's line of portable products.  It's simple peace of mind (insurance) against an unscrupulous neighbor or someone casually walking by - it's a whole lot easier to steal one without a lock!

The second connection area that you want to ensure that is protected is with your water connection.  Most commonly, you'll find that the water pressures at campground are around 40-50psi.  This is a good range for RV water piping.  Remember what I said about campgrounds having no liability?  I was just in the office of Manatee Hammock Campground last night where I overhead a story about a campground who routinely "burst tested" their lines causing fluctuations in water pressure as high as 100psi!  This will surely damage most RV piping.  Valterra adjustable water pressure regulator.  It has a liquid-filled dial that precisely measures the incoming pressure.  The adjustable regulator allows for the flexibility of disconnecting the water line from the RV inlet and cranking up the pressure (if higher pressure is available) for uses like car cleaning, etc.  The next step down is the stainless steel version without the pressure gauge.  This one is regulated to factory preset 45psi - safe operating pressure for your pipes.  The next is is a lead-free brass version while the last, and cheapest, is listed as the standard brass version. 

 
 
The final layer of protection that you should afford your RV is water filtration.  "But how does this affect my RV?"  Ask anyone who's had to de-calcify their sink or bathroom faucets.  Or worse, the shower head.  On top of that, the minerals in the water at campgrounds can shorten the life span of your coach.   We use the Camco one pictured on the right.  It filters out 99% of all the "bad stuff" that we won't want in our pipes (or to drink!)  Both Jeanine and I are self-admitted water snobs - we don't drink bad-tasting water.  I said it! :)  Feel free to tell me I'm wrong if you know better, but I'm not aware of any campgrounds that have filtered water running to their sites, so for us, a filter is always a necessity.

 While the filtration system that we use and below is only a filter, you could also opt for a reverse osmosis system.  This is a much more involved (and costly) system, but you can be assured this is the cleanest water you'll get.  When tested with a PPM meter, you should be reading right at, or just above 0 ppm.  Reverse osmosis filters, while expensive, do give you truly pure water.  Usually they are not practical for the whole RV.  We have the one listed on our Amazon store that we use in our home.  It has a three gallon tank, so don't expect that you'll be able to use this for much more than under-the-sink type applications.  At home, we use it for our drinking water, the water to our refrigerator (for ice making and drinking) and to our dog's water bowl (of course!).
 
 
That wraps it up for your connections to your RV.  Yeah, I know I didn't talk about the sewer connections.  I didn't address that because most places don't have sewer and the sewer isn't coming in (thankfully!), it's just going out.  There are also cable connections and phone line connections at some campgrounds.  My suggestions for those are also to be protected with a surge protector.  Since we haven't used any devices ourselves and probably won't, we'll leave those for you to check out!

Disclaimer:  We are not paid writers, neither for our writing or our opinions.  We represent our experiences with products, services, etc, with 100% accuracy and give our unbiased feedback. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

My Relationship with the Big Green Egg


The Big Green Egg is a kamado style grill.  Instead of the traditional propane fueled Weber type grill, the kamado grill is typically oval or egg-shaped and can operate as a grill, a smoker, and an oven.  Because it is thick ceramic and cylindrically-shaped inside, it maintains temperature and acts as a convection oven.

The fuel that's used for the grill is charcoal, but not briquettes.  Briquettes are usually composed of a lot of fillers that can give your food off flavors when they burn.  Hardwood charcoal is 100% real hardwood.  In keeping with the "clean" cooking, the charcoal isn't ignited with lighter fluid either.  Why?  It imparts off flavors.  Starting to see a pattern?  I used to use an electric heating element that Big Green Egg makes.  It's pretty much a big coil that heats up red hot.  Stick that in the coals and you're ready to cook in 10-15 minutes.   Back to that in a few.



Some of my first cooking experiences didn't turn out well.  Despite being looked after by a Mennonite family (who were the epitome of great cooks!) I never developed an interest in cooking.  I loved food (still do), just not cooking!  Throughout my later middle school years and early high school years, I was a member of the Boy Scouts.  During one particular camping excursion, I thought I would try my hand at making the camp spaghetti.  Looking back, I was a victim of the uneducated and inexperienced "season-the-crap-out-of-it" mentality.  I'm pretty sure I remember putting garlic salt, onion salt, seasoned salt and... you get the picture.  But from that, I gained experience both through spending a short time working at a steak house and through practice and self-education.  Even though I didn't see myself as a great cook yet, cooking for friends and family and hearing their feedback was adding to my confidence in the kitchen.  Present day, I feel I have managed to hone my skills to "hobby chef" status.   So how did I become acquainted with the Egg from there?

A close friend of mine, Keith Alan, had previously worked with some of the members of the Big Green Egg family.  After hearing some stories about the food that he'd eaten from this Easter Bunny's delight, I knew I had only heard about the egg, had only seen it in action a few times, but I had never cooked on one.  More importantly, I had never eaten food cooked on the Egg.  A grill that heats up to 700+ degrees for perfect searing, an oven that makes some of the best pizza (or cake, pie) you can imagine, and a smoker to boot?!  I wanted one.  So, after a few discussions, I had my Egg complete with all of the accessories!
Fast forward through the learning phase - yes, there is a little bit of a learning curve.  But, being the company that Big Green Egg is, they conveniently have a web page with some great first-timer tips here.  Not that the Egg is difficult to use, it's just not the same as a conventional gas grill.  Instead of controlling the level of heat, like a gas grill, the heat is controlled by the amount of air allowed through the bottom and top flues.  This is the part that takes the longest to master.  Adjusting the top or bottom flues literally allows for adjustment of temperature inside the Egg by small increments.  You can even get a digital temperature controller (above on Amazon link) that is truly hands-off cooking.  Besides that, using hardwood charcoal instead of propane or charcoal briquettes requires the use of an instrument to light the coals since lighter fluid is a big no-no.  Initially, I used the electric "ring of fire" as I affectionately called it.  This was just a big coil that is plugged in and heats up to red-hot.   This worked great for awhile, but after meeting and talking with  few other people (Thanks to Robby S you know who you are!) who used the Egg, I learned a better, faster way - a MAPP gas torch.   Warning:  This is a very hot open flame torch.  Do not use if you don't feel comfortable with this type of hardware!  Wear eye protection and heat gloves when using.  Hot embers can fly out of Egg.  MAPP gas burns very hot thus making it the perfect tool to light the charcoal.   I simply fill up the coal box, light three areas of the coals and I'm ready to cook in about 10-15 mins depending on the temperature I need.  No, it's not as fast as gas grills, but again, don't take my word for it - let the food speak for itself.   If you happened to catch the post about Runaway Country 2015, I used a Big Green Egg to cook a 5lb pork butt.  I only seasoned it with only salt, pepper and olive oil - I don't usually get too crazy as I like to let the flavor of the food come through.  The piece of pork turned out falling-apart, perfectly juicy and bursting with flavor.

Those who cook with the Egg as I do, with undeniable affection (yeah, it's weird - don't judge me until you taste my food :)) are referred to as Eggheads.  Said Eggheads like to get together and compete.  These cooking competitions are usually sponsored by local dealers carrying the Egg, grocers, butchers, etc, so it makes it great for the people competing since many of the items to cook are provided.  A Boy Scout troop in the Orlando area worked with me and (through some conversations) invited me to come out and cook up some grub.  Who was I to resist?!

The MiniMax in its cradle
I didn't win.  Heck, I didn't even place!  What I did do  was cook an entire meal from scratch, start to finish, on one Egg, including my grandmother's apple crisp!  I made an appetizer of grilled asparagus with a lemon chive vinaigrette dressing served alongside a medium rare-cooked quick-marinated skirt steak.  The steak was a variation of this delicious recipe.  From that event, I drew a lot of useful information that has been helpful in learning about the egg.  For instance, a (now) close friend of mine who just so happens to make one killer White Bean Chicken Chili (cooked on the Egg, of course!), taught me the trick about using the torch rather than the "ring of fire"(though I miss the Johnny Cash song in my head sometimes).   This saves me a lot of time that is better spent on preparing other things.  In addition to that, the Boy Scouts that organized the event were able to make money for a trip to SeaBase in the Florida Keys.  Nothing like getting to have fun and help out a great charitable organization at the same time!

So there you have it, my Eggsperience!  I love my Egg so much, I built an outdoor kitchen around it.  I love it so much that my amazing wife bought me a Mini Max for our 10 year anniversary.  That being said, there are a lot of people that don't understand why I go to the "trouble".  It's not trouble fo me.  It's always been the way that I cook.  No, the Egg isn't for everyone.  It takes a little bit more effort, and sometimes a bit longer, but, if you have the extra time, I think it's worth making the extra effort to make an extraordinary meal.  I'm not the most organized person, nor the most methodical.  It's also been suggested that I lack patience.  Get me in the kitchen, or on the Egg, all those imperfections fade away.   Keep Calm and Egg on! :)

- Special thanks to my wife, Jeanine, for working through all my Egg "experimenting".  Love my MiniMax!


 Disclaimer:  We are not paid writers, neither for our writing or our opinions.  We represent our experiences with products, services, etc, with 100% accuracy and give our unbiased feedback.   




Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Runaway Country 2015 Wickham Park, Melbourne, FL


We've moved again!  Since our fifth wheel hitch wasn't installed in time to move from our campsite in Manatee Hammock, we again had to have a transporter deliver our rig.  But, true to their word, RV Direct America in Titusville, FL delivered the truck directly to our prime camping spot right in the center of the action at Runaway Country!

RV'ers pulling in and getting set up Thursday afternoon
Perfect weekend weather for tent camping
If you don't know what Runaway Country is (neither of us were country music fans, but this is one heck of party!), it's a three day music festival that takes place from March 20-22 in Wickham Park, Melbourne, FL.  Headlining this year were Florida Georgia Line and Blake Shelton.  There were other acts, but none that we really knew that well, but enjoyed listening to them from our (again - awesome) campsite.  Being able to literally live in the festival is something that, if you can, do it!  That is, unless you're the type that would rather be secluded from, rathere than surrounded by, about 35,000 people.  

We came last year, but only for a one-night show (The Band Perry, which we highly recommending seeing) Since we have the RV this time, we knew it would be a whole different kind of experience - especially because the company we work for is a sponsor of the event!   With Blake Shelton and Florida Georgia Line, this year was bound to be exponentially better!
Our Rig finally ready to roll!

This year, as expected, was already proving to be a blast, just based on the Welcome RV Campers party! Sponsored by FishLips Waterfront Bar & Restaurant, the party went on until the early hours of the morning, despite the bar breaking down early and the DJ exiting the stage a few minutes before midnight.  The music (and mayhem) went on until the early hours of the morning, so I heard :)


The guys at Runaway Country really take care of their campers!  Re-entry access was very easy to get back in to the main concert bowl and the vendor area.  We highly recommend that if you plan on imbibing, get your drink tokens early (the line was over 100 people long when we first got there) Another great thing about camping at the venue, no worries about driving or taxis!  The walk from the main concert bowl to our site was only about 8-10 minutes, so everything was very well laid out.

The only downside for the campsite location we had was that 110v power and water were the only hookups available, but the weather was mild so we had the windows open at night and ran the genny during the day when it started to get warmer.

Since Jeanine and I work for one of the companies that sponsored the event, it wasn't all fun & games for the weekend.   Thursday night, we had the privilege of getting to meet a few of organizers of the event to discuss future plans and expanding the event - very exciting news!  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, we visited other campsites (in our company Jeep fully wrapped in company colors/logos) and distributed fliers and business cards to other event-goers. Much to our satisfaction, we met many people who already knew about the company and had used Carl's Van Rentals in the past! 

The weekend was also about learning about our RV since we just got it recently.  The biggest thing that we learned was that we don't care for the LPG-powered generator.  Even though it is relatively quiet and moderately efficient, we plan to sell it replace it with a diesel-powered unit.  Diesel generators are usually quieter and more efficient,  plus diesel isn't flammable unless compressed, which is always a plus for safety.  We found that we burned about .6 gallons per hour with one AC unit and running our normal 110v devices (about 1/2 load).   With plans to boondock (drycamp) in the future, we will need something that will last at least a few days, at a minimum.  In addition, trying to refill 30lb propane tanks is not always the easiest task to accomplish!

Since we plan on replacing the head in the RV with a composting toilet (thank you GoneWithTheWynns for the great advice, reviews, and operation guidelines), this will allow us to free up our black water tank.  The plan is to replace the black water tank with a 50 gallon diesel fuel tank for the new generator setup.  By my calculations, the propane was burning through a 30lb tank (about 6-7 gallons of lpg) equating to about 10 hours per tank or .6 gph.  The diesel genset that we are looking into, a 6k Onan-Cummins diesel, burns approximately .4 gallons per hour at 1/2 load.   We should have no problem going days at a time, even running nonstop if needed.  Theoretically,  we should be able to run 5 days straight on 50 gallons.  Even though the burn rate is not significantly different, the change will help us to increase our LPG capacity, rid of a black water tank, and gain a more efficient generator - all at minimal cost considering we can sell our propane genset. The cost per gallon of propane is higher than the cost of diesel, too, making for an easy choice.

Everybody loves Jeanine!

 
The one other thing that we found is that cell service and WIFI service are very spotty when 35,000+people are trying to use it at the same time!  While there is no fix for this,  Technomadia have
put together a great "roadmap" on mobile internet setup here.  We were able to use our respective hotspots (AT&T and Verizon) to get adequate signal and speed to accomplish everything we needed.  Even though the lack of speed was annoying, we can't expect it to be perfect everywhere we go.  Thanks to the guys at Technomadia, we've been able to set ourselves up for success with our mobile internet access. 

Next year, it will be a tough call.  We have talked about going to Sebring for the 24 hours of Sebring Race, but it takes place at the same time as Runaway Country.  Close friends of ours have been going every year.  They tell us that it is also not an event that you want to miss.  But, we have a year to figure it out!  If you plan to be in Florida during the same time, send us a message - we'd love to see you!
Again!

Love the perks :)

The first of TWO of Joe Diffie's guitar picks!
Yes, we are "that" group
The second Joe Diffie pick!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

TICO Warbird Airshow 2015 with USAF Thunderbirds




What an amazing show!!  Campgrounds anywhere
in the area sell out for this event every year.  If you
want to check it out, book early!
The TICO Warbird Airshow is put on by the TICO Warbird Museum every year.  They usually run the event out of the Space Coast Regional Airport.  This was truly one of the best airshows either one of us have ever seen.   With the US Air Force Thunderbirds headlining,  we knew it was destined to be a great show!  Making it even better was the fact that we got to watch the show right on the Indian River at Manatee Hammock Campground.  They have a great (long) T-dock that is perfect for viewing the show, or there is a large, grassy field along the water's edge where most of the crowd of eager eyes were to the air for most of the afternoon - and with good reason!

Jeanine and I had just arrived at the campground when we already started to hear them over head.  The roar of the jet-powered F-16 Fighting Falcons echoed across the river delighting the crowd's auditory senses.  With every fly-by, the Thunderbirds dashed across the sky executing razor-sharp  synchronized moves.  Barrel rolls, the occasional sonic booms, and a dizzying array of g-force inducing maneuvers had me wondering how we just found out about this show.  Truth be told, I was under the impression that this was just the vintage planes - guess Jeanine was right on this one!  Check out the pics and videos below
                                                                     
Air Force Thunderbirds streaking across the sky

2+2 Formation

Tough call - are these guys more talented than the Blue Angels?!
 Check out this awesome video put together by the
Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Jeanine's Story - Why do I want to do this?!


Jeanine’s Story
Retirement is the time in life that we are told that we must plan for, both by saving money and dreaming about it from the time we start working.  You are taught to do well in school so that you can get in to a good college so that you can get a good paying job so that you can retire and have the time (and presumably the money) to do what you want to do.  This is what is considered a normal life as an American…. school, career, then retirement/freedom.  This, to me, makes no sense - and I didn't always feel that way.  I used to think that life was all about possessions, what you have, and what you did.  This is a story about what has caused a drastic change in my outlook on life, one I have not fully shared with anyone, so please bear with me.

Nearly four years ago, I woke up and found it extremely difficult to move - at all.   When I did try to move, I experienced extreme pain in my lower back with pulsations of pain radiating down through my legs.  As scary as it was at the time, I wrote it off as a muscle spasm or pinched nerve.  Maybe I had slept wrong?  Maybe I had moved the wrong way?  I had seen back pain as a child.  My dad had a back injury that afterward he could re-injure doing the most simple tasks.  If he turned the wrong way, that would cause him to stand crooked for a few days. Then it would  seem to magically just go away.  It wasn't until my 20's when a ski accident introduced me to my own form of back pain.

In the years following the ski accident, I experienced intermittent muscle fatigue and low grade back pain - nothing that I couldn't handle.  I would take it easy for a few days and it would go away.  The morning that I woke up four years ago, the pain was extreme (and I was born with a very high tolerance for pain – just ask my mother!).  I was confined to bed for two weeks.  During this time, I did all the things I had always done to try to alleviate the pain.   Therapeutic massage, acupuncture, TENS therapy, chiropractor and exercises, but still no real, long-term relief.  The chiropractor diagnosed me with scoliosis (which I had been treated for previously from a young age) and sciatica.  With their recommendation, I underwent an 18-month program of multiple weekly adjustments and physical therapy.  While this brought me some relief, I would still experience flare-ups of pain and continued to suffer from muscle fatigue and pain in my mid and lower back and hips.

Deciding that this program wasn’t reaching my goals, I changed gears and started a new program. Two months of weekly medical deep tissue massage therapy with daily active isolated stretching - again, I had some relief, but only temporary and far-from-full.  Two months seemed like a reasonable amount of time to figure out if if was going to work or not.  To that end, the search for relief continued.   

Feeling frustrated and ready to give up, I got a recommendation for a back pain treatment center from some close friends of my parents.  Both husband and wife had received successful treatments and couldn't speak highly enough about the practice, so I went in for an exam.  Following a thorough exam,  a new diagnosis was given.  This time, I was told my pain was being caused by one of my legs being shorter than the other (-5mm).   I was required to wear a lift in my shoe and a engage in a weekly program of neurosomatic therapy.  If you have not heard of it, it is not a therapy that is pleasant in any way.  The therapist uses techniques to reposition your muscles by manually lengthening them starting from the ligaments and working their way along the muscles - not lightly.  Basically, the goal of this therapy is to teach your body the way to be properly aligned.   After 18 months of treatments and subsequent healing, I would still go through bouts of extreme muscle fatigue and back pain. 

Nearly a year ago (April 2014), I had what I call “another bad back day” where sitting was intolerable and bending over was impossible.   The following morning, I had a pain spike so extreme that it temporarily paralyzed me.  For the first time since my initial ski accident, I went to an emergency clinic seeking relief in any way possible.  Even though I had documented, genuine pain, with our drug laws, all they did for me was send me home with a strong muscle relaxer that put me to sleep.  Through a combination of some pain killers that I had already been prescribed and a regimen of  muscle relaxers prescribed by the emergency clinic, it allowed me to sleep through the pain on and off for the following two weeks.  During this time, I was forced to wait for a specialist to have availability and for my "insurance" company to give their blessing.

After my appointment and following an MRI, yet another diagnosis was given.  Unlike all of the previous diagnoses, this time there was irrefutable proof of just what was going on - VERY welcome news at that point!  Degenerative Disc Disease in L4-L5 vertebrae and L5-S1 vertebrae along with a torn annulus were the diagnosed conditions.  Unfortunately,  there are not many options in treatment for this disease that don’t involve surgery.  The first were epidural pain blockers that work by essentially “turning off” the pain receptor nerves in the affected discs.  They worked for me for a few months, but again, like all the treatments before, only so much and for a limited time.  On a positive note, I was able to begin a walking program not long after the injections followed by physical therapy a little over a month later.  I was finally starting to feel stronger and lose some of the excess weight I had gained over the years of not being able to exercise and lax dietary habits.  After three months, I had managed to lose 20lbs and was up to walking 2-3 miles per day, 5-6 days a week.  After about three months, the pain blockers began to wear off.  Even though the epidural had worn off, I managed to lose another 5lbs despite having to quit going to physical therapy and quit walking.  Again, I had to wait to get an appointment to see my doctor.  Once I finally did get to see him, all he had to say was "time for another round of injections".  Of course this meant even more time waiting…. waiting on the insurance company to give their approval.  More lost time.  

After attending a wedding in late 2014, I spoke with another friend who knew of a procedure that might be able to help by potentially regrowing and restrengthening the areas of my back that weakened.   The procedure was considered experimental, but many top athletes had undergone similar treatments with high percentages of success.  It also didn't involve steroids or manufactured medicines like epidurals.  Bone marrow was harvested from my hip to make stem cells that were then injected into the areas of my back to rebuild and strengthen the ligaments.  Blood was also drawn in order to make platelet rich plasma, PRP.  PRP was then injected into the affected areas of my back so as to speed up the healing process.

Since the initial treatment, I had a second set of injections of the platelet rich plasma and still undergo weekly manipulation to realign my sacrum and hips.  I also receive pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) which helps speed healing by emitting waves of electromagnetic pulses into the muscles and ligaments of my back.  This is a relatively new technology but has already been proven to stimulate repair and regrowth of muscle tissues.  

 By the time I reach that age that society says it is acceptable to retire and do all of those things I've been dreaming about, will I even be able to enjoy any of it?  I think of my parents and the aches and pains that have been increasing as they have aged. I have already lost a lot of time.  Reduced activity over the last 4 years and nearly 8 of the last 10 months, I have not been able to be active at all.  I have stayed home when I wanted to go out and watched from the side while others have played.  I have cheered while I watch others experience life.

I am positive surgery is in my future.  I have avoided it so far for years, but I’m not sure that it's likely that I'll be able to heal this problem without it.  Because of that,  I think about my future a lot.  What will I feel like tomorrow? Next year? In 5-10 years? Is surgery the best option?  What happens if the surgery doesn't work or has complications?  What if surgery makes it worse or physically disables me more than I already am?  I still live with daily pain and am limited to what I can do.  But unlike before this last procedure, I don’t rely on painkillers to get me through most days, so that's positive.   I have just recently started 10 minutes of walking in a physical therapy pool a few days a week (all I can handle so far).  Although it's difficult to stay motivated to keep trying, I refuse to rely on prescription medicines to "band aid" the real problem and will continue to do everything possible to relieve pain as naturally as possible.

Living a nomadic lifestyle is a crazy idea to most.  Who wants to live in an RV when you can live in a nice big house?  I do.  My health problems have encouraged me to prioritize what's important in my life.  Right now, for me, that's concentrating on resting, healing and getting to see and do as much as possible while I am still able to do so.  In order to do that, for me, it also involves being mobile!  I still hope with this last treatment that I will continue to improve.  While I do try to always try to have a positive outlook, over the past few years, it has been a lot more difficult with the constant roller coaster of hope and failure with treatment after treatment.  With each one, it's harder and harder to think about what my retirement will be like...I want (and need) to work and I completely love what I do (despite my complaints from time to time!).  My work allows me to help a lot of people at the same time I help to provide stable employment for other employees - and that's important for me.  But, at the same time, I need to do what is best for me right now.  The best part about it is that I can do all of this from anywhere that I have access to the internet and a phone!  I have been working from home for years, so the transition should be seamless.  Now, home will simply be a matter of where the RV happens to be.  Remember, not all those who wander are lost.  Wish me luck...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Welcome!

Hi!  Welcome to our blog!  We are Eric and Jeanine.  Today is the day - the day that we decided (and set a timeline) to start the process of converting from being sedentary (read: live in a home) to living in a recreational vehicle.  We have always been the type to want to travel, explore, and experience differing cultures and lifestyles so it only naturally seemed like we were going to end up doing something like this!  The most difficult part of this transition, so far, has been making the decision to make this change.  We have a new truck, a new RV, and a new attitude on adjusting our work to fit in our lives instead of the way we've been living, letting our work consume our lives. 

So what do we hope to achieve with this blog?  We were once the couple that had dreams of one day "retiring" (we'll get back to that later) and traveling the country, continent, and the rest of the world.  This is the path that most people set out for themselves, almost starting as early as we start to learn the ways of the world.  While this is the path that most people take: school, college, career, retire - we are taking a different path.  Jeanine and I have always led "non-traditional" lives in our approach with how we view the world.  If we can make it easier much in the ways that other blogs such as these have made our transition choice a reality, then we've done our jobs as bloggers.  In addition, we want to chronicle our journeys and document those things that we recommend and those we don't.  We tend to see things in ways that others don't - many times to a fault, many times to an advantage depending on who's asking! :)

The perfect example is this change of lifestyle for us:  many have told us that we are foolish for "walking away" or "escaping".  This is often the case for anyone who "goes against the grain" and steps out on their own against the best of advice.   But for those who don't understand any other way, like us, there is that incessant need to get out and experience life.  Our journey started with a 23' toy hauler that we quickly outgrew.  I challenge anyone to try living comfortably with two Great Danes in a 23' toy hauler with no slides!  I'm sure it can be done for extended periods, but we aren't to proud to admit that we aren't the guinea pigs to try it!

For those of you who know us,  you know that our dogs are our children and they pretty much go everywhere with us.   Guinness, a 4 year old fawn male Great Dane that suffers from Wobbler's Syndrome, is our sweet boy.  He gets around a little slowly, but has a big heart and moves with utter determination!  Nyx is our year-and-a-half old black Great Dane that is an absolute riot!  She is Guinness' puppy that we got as his "therapy" dog (try to hold back your laughter and head shaking).  We will refer to them many times in our posts, but will also be posting information on their page, Our Kids.  We will be sharing our trials (and surely subsequent tribulations) with traveling with larger dogs and staying in public lands, private campgrounds, state parks, and private lands. 

Living on the road is not for everyone.  It goes against the American Dream of having a large house with an endless list of possessions and creature comforts.  This is not that type of journey.  This is the journey that leads us down the road to reduction, refocus, and revitalization.  Reduction of daily "static" and appreciating what is truly important, committing ourselves to our careers by contributing in different capacities and focusing on how we can best contribute to their respective successes, and mobilizing our lifestyle to re-energize and stimulate our minds:  All of these play pivotal roles in this lifestyle change.  By including our work in our daily lives while doing and seeing the things we've always dreamed about,  we will be able to live more efficiently, economically, and above all, living our lives happily and fulfilled.  Join us as we begin our journey of a lifetime - our new lifetime.