First day back on the road...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We got a late start today....we're not prone to rush and there were still several de-oozing things to be done. We finally pulled out of the driveway at 12:30 and headed south...well, initially we headed west...LOL!

Two hours down the road we stopped for a short break. Everyone needed a potty break and with Sadie riding along, it was more important than ever. She did very well all day long. Not a whimper from her except once when she needed another potty break. Her crate allows her to see out the front window but she slept most of the trip. LOL!

We stopped at the Lee Hi Truck Stop in Lexington, VA. We had stopped there before but for some reason I can't find the link to that blog. It is famous for all the pedal cars on display (and I know I took photos but can't find them either...LOL!) We had some pie and coffee to help us last through the next couple of hours till we stopped for the night.

It was almost 9:00 when we stopped at the Flying J in Ft. Chiswell, VA for the night. The parking lot, normally packed, had plenty of room. We'll head out early in the morning after getting fuel and propane. We plan to stop for breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Abingdon, VA. We'll be meeting Jenny and her husband, Don. I've followed her blog for some time as she has mine. It will be fun to meet them!

We should arrive at Maple Hill RV Campground & Cabins in Jamestown, TN by late afternoon tomorrow. It's a small park with only 22 sites but is very convenient to our land. We're both excited to get settled in, we plan to stay a month. Lots to see and do, many old friends to catch up with, service to get done on both bikes...we can't wait!

We have no idea if Verizon will work for us at the campground, if not we'll have to schlep the laptops to a wifi hotspot. McDonald's will work....LOL! We'll update as we can...worst case I'll email a post from my phone.

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

PS. Be sure to check out Sadie's blog - Sadie Speaks.

My parents are SO mean!

They make me go out in the cold and rain when it's potty time. I don't have any problem going inside...and they get to...it's not fair!

I don't get to choose when I take a bath (uh, like NEVER). They just pick me up and stick me in the sink...it's not fair!

They give my paper towel and toilet paper rolls to play with and when I finally get them all soft and gudgy, they take them away...it's not fair!

They get to go outside any time they want but they make me sit at the door when they go out...it's not fair!

They take me outside for walks but all they want to do is WALK and all I want to do is SNIFF...it's not fair!

But then again...they do keep me warm, feed me, play with me, cuddle with me and just generally spoil me...so maybe it IS fair!

Sniffing and lickingly yours,
Sadie

Ready to move out tomorrow....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

General cleaning is done, laundry is almost done, tanks are empty, bikes are loaded, folding chairs and bikes are packed in the truck, paperwork that has been accumulating for a month is taken care of and filed, magazines sorted through, knick-knacks packed in drawers...tomorrow is MOVING day!

We will head out towards our property in Tennessee. No particular route, no campgrounds reserved, no definite plans made...everything is set in Jell-O (as usual). We may stop at the Escapees park outside Knoxville, TN but even that isn't a positive. We have online friends further north off I-81 that we'd like to meet maybe for a meal but until we see our routing and how far we make it the first night, even that is up in the air.

Tomorrow, once we are rolling, I will call the campground where we would like to stay. Cell service at our step-daughter's house has been abysmal at best. I had emailed with the owners but they informed me that the campground had been sold and the new owners took over on 10/18. They were going to pass along our request to them but I never heard anything more...and the email on the website is now bouncing. If we can't find a spot in Jamestown, we'll book something in Crossville area. Puts us 30 minutes out from our land but we can deal with it if we need to.

We've had a great month+ here...seeing family and friends, getting repairs done to the RV (thank you, Stu), getting all our medical/dental checkups taken care of and getting in a little riding as well. Our time here is always too short but we plan to be back in April to pick up BRAT for our Route 66 ride in May. If the property in TN isn't ready, we may leave our rig in Maryland and start the ride from there. Time will tell...

Life is good...we will continue to try to live life to the fullest, each and every day!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

Heading to Tennessee

Well today is loading, organizing, dumping (holding tanks), packing, cleaning day.....tomorrow we hit the road towards Tennessee. No idea what route we will take, when we will arrive or where we will stay. All things are set in Jell-O.

There are a couple of things we want to accomplish while we are there:
  • Get the land re-surveyed. We know who surveyed it originally but we can't find the corner markers. A new survey done by them will be a huge help.
  • Get the current drive area cleared of more trees (& over-hanging limbs) and slightly widened. Eventually we will have to bring in gravel, too.
  • Try to find a cost effective but secure storage area on the property. We are looking at the sheds at A AAffordable Remodel & Sheds in Cleveland, TN or a metal storage container like this. We are also looking at larger sheds that are used and need to be moved.
  • Contact the power company to find out what we have to do for the initial power install (a post for our RV).
We will update the blog as we can!

Still rolling,
Stu and Donna

My Toy Story

I have so many toys thanks to my mommy and daddy...well, more my mommy. She has a hard time passing by the dog toys in the stores without buying me something new. Guess she worries that I'll be bored.

My first toy was this great stuffed elephant...wait a minute. He's not stuffed...he's FLAT. One of mommy's RV blog friends talks about Flat Stanley so maybe this should be Flat Ellie? I like it though, it has a rope tail that is good for tug of war.

My second toy was a little stuffed green frog that squeaks. Daddy teases mommy because her nickname is Froggi. I have a nickname, well a LOT of nicknames....Sadie Bug, Sader, Sadikins, Munchkin, Stink Bug Eater. I don't like that last one...I don't like Stink Bugs but they are everywhere!

My first visit to the vet got me a little yellow dog. Mommy cuts off all the tags on my new toys but the one from the vet still had them...they are fun to chew on.

My newest toy is Pumba, the wart hog...he's soft and furry and squishy and has lots of little things that stick out that make it easy for me to grab. Oh and his tail is really fun to chew on!

I have some other fun stuffed toys, small balls to chase and one really hard ball made out of strings. I think I will like that one better once I have bigger teeth.

But my FAVORITE toys are paper towel and toilet paper rolls...I chase them all over the floor. Sometimes they get stuck under the cabinets but I can usually get them out. My other favorite toy is a water bottle. It rolls and makes a funny crinkly sound when I chew on it.

I hope I never lose my toys! Do you have any favorite toys to share?

Sniffing and lickingly yours,
Sadie

Faxes, Printers and Scanners....Oh My!

Friday, October 29, 2010

We have been limping along on with Stu's old Lexmark all-in-one printer. It was about three years old and the wireless never really worked as advertised. With the cost of new printers dropping steadily, we looked into getting a new all-in-one.

HP Officejet 4500 Wireless All-in-One (CN547A#B1H)One feature that is now available on the lower cost printers is an auto-document feed for faxing, scanning and copying. While we won't use the fax capability (no land-line), the copy/scan functions are what we use most frequently.

After much research I chose the HP OfficeJet 4500 Wireless All-in-One (be careful, the same model is offered in a non-wireless model). It arrived on Wednesday an in less than 30 minutes the wireless was up and running flawlessly. The only issue we had was the paper not feeding initially..I think that might have been due to the humidity level, it's working fine now.

Yesterday we easily added Stu's PC to the mix. Not a blip! Today we are happily scanning and printing. The auto-document feed says it will hold up to 25 sheets but I don't see us testing that. LOL! We have fed in several related documents and it worked great.

I use IrfanView for scanning....it's been my graphic program of choice for over 15 years (and it's still free). If I am scanning more than one item, I can assign a name and a numbering scheme. Worked like a charm.

I hope to get my old photos scanned much more easily so I can pass them along to my kids and still have them on my computer. I just have to remember to back them up to SmugMug and DVDs.

Not much else is new...Sadie started her own blog after vet appointment. You can see it on ToadilyPets or direct at Sadie Speaks. She's doing well...up from 6# to 10.2# in a little over 3 weeks.

We went to dinner with our Thursday night group, followed that with a mile walk around the mall and topped it off with a movie, "Life As We Know It". Fun movie with lots of laughs!

Not sure if I ever posted about seeing the move RED with Bruce Willis. We loved it...the movie was only about a quarter done when I told Stu we WOULD be getting the DVD when it comes out. If you like the Die Hard series or enjoyed True Lies, then I think you will love this movie.

We are currently waiting for our mail to arrive...knew it would be today or tomorrow. Well, looks like it will be tomorrow so we will hit the road for TN on Sunday.

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

It's a dogs life....

It's a dogs life and I'm glad of it. I am almost 12 weeks old, I know because I had to go get my second distemper shot today. Not sure what that is but my mommy and daddy don't want me to get it.

I got weighed as soon as I got there...they wanted me to sit but it was cold. Brrrrr...I heard them say I was 10# 2 oz. I guess that is good, I don't know.

I've been sleepy all day. Yesterday they let me play with my older sister, Fiona, and her friend, Clubber, who is a Rat Terrier. Then last night they took me to my birth mommy's house and I got to play with her and my brother, Louie.

There were two little kids there, too, Olivia and Jesse. I played with them, too. I came home really tired last night. Tomorrow I will be ready to play again!

It's a dogs life and I'm glad of it!

Sniffing and lickingly yours,
Sadie

Traveling with Pets

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RVing with pets....no big deal, right? Heck, there are dogs, cats, ferrets, birds, fish, lizards, snakes and who knows what else out there traveling with their owners.

Campground restrictions vary but one rule seems to apply to all...no off-leash animals and clean up after your animals. Some have specified pet walk areas, some have actual dog runs.

What should you expect if you want to camp/travel with your dog(s)?
  • Some parks restrict dog size by weight.
  • Some parks restrict the number of dogs/pets.
  • Some parks restrict specific breeds.
  • Some parks restrict "aggressive" breeds.
  • Some parks charge a pet fee.
Most of you know we have added a puppy to our household, a little Boxer mix named Sadie. Based upon her current size and parents size, she will max out around 40#. That will help with the parks that allow dogs that size and smaller.


Boxers are sometimes considered aggressive but more often the restrictions are on breeds like the Pit Bulls, Akita, German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher and Rottweiler. The truth of the matter is that it depends much more on the owners and training than on the dog breed. I have met small dogs that were overly aggressive. But I am sure at some time we will get turned away, we will deal with it when it happens.

We are working hard on socializing and training Sadie. She already sits and comes, now we are working on stay. She enjoys people of all sizes and ages as well as dogs and cats. We are working on getting her used to riding on the motorcycle for our Route 66 trip next May.

We are really enjoying her puppiness and look forward to her outgrowing her puppiness. LOL!

We recently started a blog for pet owners, Toadily Pets, and hope you'll take a look and submit your pets for Featured Fridays, as well as submit any pet stories you'd like to see featured in the blog!

Still rolling,
Stu and Donna

(Please pass the link for Toadily Pets on to your pet loving family and friends...thank you!)

Few changes....

If you are using a blog reader, you won't see them. You need to visit the actual blog page. We have added several pages to the blog...About Us, Current Rides and Gear List.

As our gear list evolves and our bikes get modified, we will update these pages.

Still rolling,
Stu and Donna

Now where did I put that...?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Living in small quarters is something you can do or not. If you love RVing, you will definitely be living in less square footage than you would in a house. That said, there are large variations in the size of RV rigs.

I have friends that full-time in under 20' trailers. I have friends that full-time in over 40' motorhomes and 5th wheels. No matter the size, you manage to fill it the space. Those that don't full-time seem to leave a little more room open for items.

We have a 41' fifth wheel but 10' of that is garage so while we have some garage storage, we live in a 31' space. One of the log home vendors at the Log and Timber Home Show remarked that a 1000 sf cabin would feel huge to us, and it would!

Living in small quarters does have its limitations...everything has to have its own place. Unfortunately sometimes you can't remember where that is...LOL! It gets worse when we go on an organizational tear...that means we move things from their old place to a new place (hopefully a better place). That also means we won't remember where we moved it to!

Some storage places are designed for that purpose. Some are more innovative spots. Some are make-shift. We use all three. We have the traditional drawers, cabinets, underbed area and closets. We use the inside of our built-in dishwasher (that we never use) for stuff that used to be on the kitchen counter. We store things behind the sofa (paper towels, tissue boxes, paper plates...all the bulky paper products we buy in bulk).

Stu loves to tease me about how much "stuff" I have...I in turn get to tease him about his "tools" (oh wait, you NEVER tease a man about TOOLS....LOL!). We do work on enforcing the one in - one out rule. That means when we buy something new (a pair of shoes, a t-shirt), an old one has to go out. We do pretty good on this one except for Stu's Harley-Davidson t-shirt collection. He's working on getting one from each of the 50 states. Hmmmm......

Right now we are also storing some collectibles for our future sticks 'n bricks home, be it a cabin, modular or even part of our pole barn. Antique looking signs, diner mugs, pint glasses, growlers, old state license plates and now McNicol china/pottery pieces. They will go into whatever storage unit we put on our property in TN.

So how's YOUR storage?

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

Update on my new motorcycle

In our main blog, 2 Taking a 5th, a reader asked for an update on my new motorcycle. I realized that I have neglected to do the same here.

I am happy to say I am THRILLED with it! I had hoped for maybe a 50% improvement in ride comfort but it turns out that it's closer to 100%. Wow!! Bumps that would have had me wincing in pain are barely blips now. Factor in the larger gas tank and call me one HAPPY girl!

Since buying the bike I have added saddle bags and removed (and sold) the detachable sissy bar. My windshield from the Nightster transferred with a little help from Stu and the new windshield bag I got at Sturgis is perfect. I still hope to add a few more things like an engine guard with Harley halogen fog lights, a stage one performance upgrade and maybe a Mustang seat. Then again, it may sit just the way it is...LOL!

I'm close to my 1k service so the stage one/pipes upgrade decision must be made soon. Will post more later!

Ride safe,
Stu and Donna

Define adventurous.....

Monday, October 25, 2010

I often wonder how to define adventurous...so many people have told me I am adventurous and that is something I truly don't agree with.

When I think of adventurous, I think of mountain climbing - sky diving - backpacking foreign countries - white water rafting - bungee jumping - volunteering in third world countries - that kind of thing. Not traveling the USA via motorcycle or RV. 

Yes, doing things solo is more adventurous but still on a scale of 1 to 10, it's much more mundane to me. When I toured the country in 2005, the year after my husband passed, I had a lot of people asking me if I was scared. I told them no, I use common sense and if any area makes me nervous, I leave. Many said they wouldn't even cross the country in a car solo. To me that is sad...to be that fearful.

I often see posts from women thinking about RVing solo but they are afraid. Then they find out there are hundreds (maybe more) of solo women RVers ranging in age from 30-40 up into their 80's. Again, common sense, aided by the wonderfully friendly and caring RVing community.

On a lighter note, here is my adventurous tale of the day. While Stu was out running errands, I started a load of towels in the laundry and got on the computer. I heard the washer start to spin....and then it stopped. Hmmm, that's strange. I waited a few minutes and went over to take a look.

Oh-oh! The washer was so full of suds that I could only see a couple of inches of clear glass in the top. I knew that these front loading washers were prone to over-sudsing but I knew that I hadn't done anything differently than before. (My suspicion is that it was a combination over a freshly primed water softener at our step-daughters and towels with a leftover residue of soap that had built up over time.)

So I turned it off and flipped the breaker so the door would unlock (a safety setting) and waited till I heard the click. I got two other large bath towels and set them on the floor, pulling out the soapy load of heavy, wet towels. The water, suds and towels spilled everywhere. I felt like I was herding suds! Wish I had thought to take a photo but I was more interested in keeping Sadie from licking the suds off the floor.

I hand rinsed the towels, ran the washer empty, re-washed the towels without any additional soap and finally got the first load in the dryer almost 3 hours later. Now THAT is adventure.....LOL!

Hope everyone will post what their idea of adventurous, based upon their current lifestyle and experiences...and if they think that THEY are adventurous!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

Wish

Back in Maryland

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We spent an hour or so making our last round of the Log and Timber Home Show. We really enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot. We grabbed some lunch at a local restaurant, Two Amigos. The food was good and we enjoyed a sit down meal before hitting the road back to Maryland.

Sadie did really well the last couple of days, spending more time in her crate than ever before. She loved walking around the parking area, chasing the fall leaves though. LOL!

After a stop at Sam's Club in Annapolis, we made it back to Kent Island by late afternoon. We quickly got set up and put our feet up. Three days of walking on concrete floors really took it's toll on our feet, knees and backs.

Stu gets his last Ortho-Visc injection tomorrow. He'll run a few other errands, hopefully riding between the raindrops. I'll spend the morning doing laundry and playing with Sadie. LOL!

Wednesday night will be Stu's Killer Pizza Night...he makes pizza from scratch and all the family gathers and enjoys the feast. We're looking forward to it...both the pizza and the family!!

Thursday is our weekly dinner out with friends and Friday we load the bikes so we can head to TN on Saturday morning. Right now we plan to spend the month of November there before heading to Florida. But that all depends on the weather...if it gets too cold, we'll head south early.

One last side note....one of our readers asked how I was liking my new motorcycle. I am happy to say I am THRILLED with it! I had hoped for maybe a 50% improvement in ride comfort but it turns out that it's closer to 100%. Wow!! Bumps that would have had me wincing in pain are barely blips now. Factor in the larger gas tank and call me one HAPPY girl!

Since buying the bike I have added saddle bags and removed (and sold) the detachable sissy bar. My windshield from the Nightster transferred with a little help from Stu and the new windshield bag I got at Sturgis is perfect. I still hope to add a few more things like an engine guard with Harley halogen fog lights, a stage one performance upgrade and maybe a Mustang seat. Then again, it may sit just the way it is...LOL!

Thanks to everyone for all the recent blog comments...we've covered some important topics and hopefully will again!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

A special offer!!

After posting yesterday's blog on "Who Am I", I got a note from Amie Hoff, founder of Hoff Fitness LLC and co-founder of Life² LLC and the FitKit line of health improvement products with her sister, Beth Michaels. You can read more about them here.

"The FitKit contains all the tools you need for optimum fitness and performance, in a compact and portable case! All the benefits of a gym - at home, in the dorm or on the road."

Every kit consists of:
  • Resistance Tube with Handles
  • Flat Resistance Band
  • Stability Attachment
  • Jump Rope
  • Pedometer
  • ID Tag
  • Reflective Arm Band
In addition, you get access to The Fitness Exercise Library. The Exercise Library provides all the exercises you need to maintain your fitness whenever, wherever. With your FitKit purchase, you gain online access to the FitKit library, which provides:
  • Get Started video by co-founder and fitness professional Amie Hoff
  • Workout schedule
  • Exercises for 13 muscle groups, including special exercises wherever you are – home, office, school, on the road or golf course
  • Cardio and stretching options
  • Nutriton, fitness and safety tips to maximize performance
So what is the special offer? Enter the PROMO CODE of 2takinga5th and receive 10% off on any order. Nice...thank you, Amie!

So, I'm getting the FitKitTRAVEL and am committing to using it at least four days a week (more when not traveling). I will log my efforts once it arrives. Hoping some of my readers will join me. Needless to say, my internist will definitely appreciate my finally getting in some more exercise. LOL!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

Log and Timber Home Show

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We've really enjoyed ourselves here at the Log and Timber Home Show being held at the Dulles EXPO and Conference Center in Chantilly, VA.

You can read the full write-up in our Fire Lily Base Camp Blog for today: Log and Timber Home Show

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

Log and Timber Home Show

Two years ago we signed up to attend the Log and Timber Home Show in Tampa, FL. For whatever reason, we were unable to attend and the company offered to either refund our payment or save it for any other show. We opted to save it and finally got to attend the show this weekend in Chantilly, VA.

We arrived at the Dulles EXPO and Conference Center. We parked the rig at the outer edge of the parking lot and went in to register. Being a Friday and the first day of the show, it wasn't busy at all. That was good, we got to talk to a lot of the vendors and start collecting information.

There were many log home builders from companies of all sizes from the recognizable Jim Barma, Satterwhite, Kuhn, Lincoln Logs and Honest Abe to handcrafters, specializing in building one cabin at a time.

There were also a large number of log furniture companies, most featuring one of a kind products that were unbelievably gorgeous. Wooden flooring, concrete roof files and even old fashioned (but very updated) wooden tubs!

 Then add in the folks that sell windows, doors, stains, and much more. The show folks also had a bookstore with other fun gifts. I bought a cute little wooden sign for our future cabin...hey, it had a moose on it!

Saturday was much busier, kind of what we expected. We attended Log and Timber Home University from 9am to 2pm. We were presented with a great workbook for all steps of planning a log home. The topics covered were:
• Registration
• Welcome and Introductions
• Using this Course Outline
• Decision Tree
• Budget Decisions
• Site Decisions
• Design Decisions
• Building Green
• BREAK
• Choosing a Log Provider
• Timber Home Decisions
• Deciding on a Lender
• Deciding on a Builder
• Ways to Reduce Costs
• Questions to Ask Before You Buy
•Getting Ready to Build
• Just 35 Steps to Your New Home
• Construction Specifications
We really learned a lot and are glad we attended the seminar. The workbook will be invaluable for planning with many worksheets to copy and use.

In addition, back in the main show area there were on-going workshops covering topics ranging from preserving your log home to pitfalls to avoid to building green and much more. You can see a full list of the workshops and vendors HERE.

We have found one company we are very interested in...Blue Ridge Log Cabins out of Campobello, SC. We liked the fact that they are a modular log home builder. This means that the home is assembled inside, out of the weather, then trucked to your site and assembled resulting in a much quicker build time.

They build turn-key homes. The owner is responsible for site prep, staining, floor finishing and HVAC. Blue Ridge Log Cabins completes interior walls, floors, ceilings, interior door and window trim, baseboards and wall moldings, electrical wiring and panel box, outlet receptacles and covers, water heater, plumbing lines, kitchen appliances including refrigerator, range, microwave, dishwasher, cabinets, countertops, bathroom vanities, sinks, tubs, showers, medicine cabinets, mirrors, towel bars, ceiling fans, interior and exterior light fixtures, hose bibs, interior doors, windows, shingles, exterior eave vents, and roof insulation.

We hope to visit their factory in Campobello as well as a couple other companies in North Georgia. We're still not thinking of building the home for another 4-5 years but we need to keep researching and getting educated.

Tomorrow we will probably stop in for a short time to ask any last minute questions and say goodbye to some of the great vendors we talked to, then it's back to Maryland for our final week.

Still rolling,
Stu and Donna

There are a few more photos in our SmugMug Album.

Who am I?


Yesterday I blogged about What If preparedness and a couple of readers (thank you, Bryan and Janna) brought up the need for carrying emergency contact information. I have blogged about this before but it is always good to bring up the topic again.

Everyone is familiar with the Medic Alert type bracelets, pendants, etc but not all of us have special medical information needs. But we all should carry emergency contact information with us no matter where we are...out walking the dog, hiking in the desert, bike riding a new city.

If you're an RVer, picture this scenario....you're in a new campground and head out for a walk (with or without a dog), solo. Something happens and you end up unconscious, no wallet or ID on you. How does anyone know who you are, who to contact, etc? I'm sure from here you can see a number of ways this could happen. We often step outside our rigs without our wallets or any type of ID on us.

There are a multitude of solutions to this...from a high end of annual services where you can update your contact profile regularly to the mid-range of dog tags to the low end of a basic luggage tag where you can insert an updated card as often as you need. Here are some I found doing a Google search for emergency ID tags.
These last two are free places to use to print out your own emergency ID cards although many of us can do it ourselves with word processing software.
In addition, if you are an RVer or camper, consider carrying something that states WHERE you are camping....cell phones don't always work. Plus, if you have a pet at home (whether that home is a house/apt or an RV), that needs to be specified as well.

The key is to get/devise and USE something, anything, that is always with you...be safe, don't be sorry!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

What if...

Friday, October 22, 2010

What if something were to happen to you tomorrow? Could your spouse, significant other, traveling partner:
  1. Contact the appropriate family members?
  2. Find the necessary financial/banking information?
  3. Know how to find your will?
  4. Know where to find all life insurance contracts?
  5. Have access to updating or closing out your blog(s)?
  6. Have access to social accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and favorite forums?
If you are a solo traveler, do you carry emergency contact information for someone (family or not) who has the above information? In addition whether solo or not, do you carry emergency contact information? In these days of cell phones, you can add a contact for I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) and many smart phones have apps for storing all the needed information.

We tend to be somewhat blase' even though we know we aren't immortal. Several recent deaths pointed out the needs for numbers 5 and 6. One was an RVing couple, Margie and Bruce, who's daughter had to post the unfortunate news of their death on her parent's blog. Another was a popular RVer, Tioga George, who had to announce the death of his son on the son's blog.

I've also found out about the death of one friend and the hospitalization of another because the daughter of the first had access to her mother's Facebook account. A long-time online friend was fighting cancer and her husband and daughter both had access to her account to let us know of her death.

I recently added both my husband and my son (in case of a dual accident/death) as author's to all my blogs. In addition I am testing out a password keeper, LastPass. My son recommended KeePass, he uses it personally and all his clients do as well. This gives his company access to needed passwords for maintenance of the client accounts.

I opted to try LastPass because it has an app for my Palm Pre Plus. It costs $12 for that but the one for the computer is free. Previously I had been using Firefox password function through the add-on Sxipper as well as the Xmarks (formerly FoxMarks) add-on. LastPass will replace all of those, keeping things secured in one spot.

LastPass will let me store personal information, banking and credit card information and more. You can create multiple identities for automatic form fill-in and more. I still have a lot to learn about it. But once it's set up and working, all I have to do is give my husband and my son the email login and master password.

Whatever you use, think about what YOU would have to deal with if someone close to you died or were critically injured. How would you handle the day to day details of their life....

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

Comments, emails and shout boxes

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm wondering how others use the feedback methods provided on many blogs. Most of my comments come via the Blogger comment form. This is good and bad. It's good if the writer logs in so I have an email address or if they use their real names and I have them in my address book. It's bad if I want to reply and there is no link to an email address for them.

I could comment in the comment spot on the blog but I wonder how many folks ever come back to see further comments or to check for a reply. For me I do that maybe 10% or less of the time.

I used to have a shout box on this blog but the page was getting crowded so I removed it. Thinking about adding it back...it was SOOOOO easy to reply to folks that way.

That leaves the final way to respond, in a new blog post. That's fine if 1) it's not a personal discussion and 2) it would be of interest to other bloggers. Thus not the best solution.

I have heard that folks don't know how to email me...just click my name under my photo on the right side of our blog page, then click the email link on the left side of the page.

Questions:
  1. How to you prefer to comment on a blog?
  2. If via the comment form, how do you expect your reply (if question asked) to be answered? comment reply, email, blog content, other
  3. Do you use shout boxes when you see them? Do you prefer them to using the comment form?
  4. Should I add a shout box back to the blog?
  5. Do you use a reader for this blog or do you go to the blog page? (some readers force you to the main blog page but not all)
  6. Anything else you'd like to say about commenting and getting replies from blogs/bloggers.
Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

More solar choices

I finally found the link for the smaller solar charger we have seen at several RV shows. Not sure this is really what we want but Stu keeps referring back to it.

From the website:

4W Foldup Solar Battery Maintainer $49.95

Features

  • High quality 4w solar cell for year round 12v battery charging
  • Perfect for cars, trucks, caravans, boats, motorcycles etc.
  • Support stand incorporated in the hard wearing body
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
  • In built LED charge indicator
  • Cable and connections to attach direct to battery terminals and an in car 12v socket
  • In built diode prevents reverse battery feed


Here is another choice that sounds great if we aren't interested in charging the laptop(s). From the website:


Freeloader Pro Solar Cell Phone, Camera and Video Charger $114.95

Features
  • Freeloader’s solar panels can charge its internal battery in as little as 8 hours or 3 hours when using the supplied USB charging cable
  • 200mA premium quality crystalline solar cells
  • 1600mAh environmentally friendly Li-ion battery – typical battery life is 2 years.
  • Supplied with a Master Cable for connecting to a device or CamCaddy and for charging Freeloader Pro from a computers USB
  • Supplied with ten adapters to fit iPod, iPhone, iPhone 3g, iPhone 3gs iTouch, Nano etc, Nokia phones using both standard and mini adaptors (2 supplied), all current Samsung phones (2 supplied), all current LG phones, all current Sony Ericsson phones, Nintendo DS Lite, mini USB adaptor for Motorola phones, Blackberry and most smartphones, Garmin / SatMap and most GPS, Bluetooth headsets, PDA’s, and a 4mm tip for Sony PSP, Archos and most MP4 players, 2 way radios, portable DVD players, e-books, digital cameras and PDA’s
  • Impact resistant, rust free aluminum body.
  • Freeloader holds its battery charge for up to 3 months
  • Supplied with detailed user manual
  • Measures 5.9" x 2.5" x 0.8"
  • Weighs 6.1oz

Decisions, decisions....we had one commenter that said he had done well without any solar provisions. We may do the same and just try to always get a tent campsite with power. Time will tell...

Ride safe,
Stu and Donna

Old movie day begats some interesting trivia...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stu is still fighting his cold and with the damp, rainy weather we mostly watched old movies. He knows I love the "disaster" films and found one I hadn't seen, Earthquake from 1974.

As the characters started appearing, one caught my interest. Marjoe Gortner, the child evangelist turned actor. I headed to IMdb to check out his page.

As I scrolled through his credits a title jumped out at me.... "When You Coming Home Red Ryder". Written by the same author as Agnes of God, Mark Medoff. Wow...

Here is where the trivia comes into play. Back in 1987 I was living in Columbus, GA and had a chance to do some community theater (at the historic Springer Theater)...something that I had wanted to do since I was a kid. I tried out twice and got roles twice. Not bad...LOL!

The first play I was in was "Pack of Lies". It was a small role, playing an inspector from Scotland Yard. For whatever reason my British accent was much more like a Scottish one, but I still got a laugh when I was supposed to. The fun part was working under a director from New York City.

The second play I had a much bigger role. The play was "When You Coming Home Red Ryder" and I played the role of Clarisse Ethridge, one of the four main characters. I learned a lot of building a character from our director, a local man. I also got to say the only "Goddamn" in the play. Remember, this was southern bible belt territory. You could say "damn" and you could say "God" but you couldn't say "Goddamn".

The play was a huge success and I had fulfilled something I'd always wanted to do. If I had a decent singing voice, which I don't, I would have done a lot more with the theater...most plays were musicals, not dramas as were the two I was in.

Not long afterwards we moved to Rochester, NY and my stint in the theater was over but never will be forgotten.

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

Portable Solar Charging

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One thing we'd like to take on the trip is a solar charger to help us keep laptops, cell phones and camera batteries up to snuff. Here are a couple of promising ones we've found.

Pico Solar Rechargeable Charger

We already have this one, but it won't handle bigger chores like our laptops and camera batteries so we are on the search for other solutions.


Product Features
  • Recharges most cell phones, GPS's and PDA's from it's own internal battery
  • Pico can be recharged either by by solar or USB connection
  • USB output allows wide range of devices to be charged
  • Small, lightweight and compact





Product features:
  • Made of Durable Nylon with a High Efficiency Thin Film Solar Cell
  • Works with Automobiles, RV’s, Boats & Small Electronics
  • Built-in Blocking Diode Protects Battery Discharge at Night
  • Works in all weather conditions
  • Maintenance Free / Easy Installation

Product Description:

The MotoMaster Eliminator 12Volt Folding Solar Panel, also called the Sunforce Folding Solar Panel is ideal for hiking, camping, sporting events, on campus and at the beach. This solar panel is a flexible, foldable and durable solar product that produces enough power to charge rechargeable flash lights, lanterns, cell phones, GPS units, satellite phones, MP3 players and portable games. Just about anything that is capable of being charged through a standard cigarette lighter adapter (CLA -car charger) can be charged by SUNLINQ. SUNLINQ solar panels made with PowerFLEX technology are lightweight, flexible, weatherproof and durable CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) solar cells.

It provides higher efficiency than other flexible solar cell technologies, including amorphous silicon, and has been proven to be stable. The 6.5-watt portable solar panel offers a unique solution for reliable and portable solar power for cell phones, PDA's, and other small personal electronics. The SUNLINQ 6.5 watt solar panel weighs less than half of a pound and when folded is compact, lightweight and easily stored and transported. The SUNLINQ product line is designed for low maintenance and rugged durability. The SAE plug provides simple attachment to a load. Built-in grommets allow for hanging, mounting or laying in any position.

Of course this is JUST the solar panel and we'd need to add other items to make it functional, I think.

Huge Capacity Solar Charger and Battery


$199.99

The Huge Capacity Solar Charger and Battery is the perfect green gadget for the traveling geek. With its powerful 20,000 mAh battery and 29 unique adapter tips, it can power up and charge just about any portable electronic device. No need to carry around multiple chargers! Use this one to power up your phone, laptop, mp3 player, portable GPS navigator, GPS tracker, digicam, portable DVD player, portable gaming system, and more! Whatever you've deemed necessary to your life away from electricity, this charger can juice up. It even comes with a carrying bag for your charger, adapters, and gadgets. Leave it out in the sun to recharge, or plug it into any AC adapter or car charger.


Product Specifications
  • 20,000 mAh Battery and Solar Charger
  • Battery recharges quickly via AC adapter, car charger, or solar energy
  • No more messy cables or carrying around multiple power adapters when traveling
  • 29 unique adapter tips, works with most electronic devices
  • Power up and charge electronic devices on-the-go
  • Includes a free carrying bag
  • Dimensions: 8" x 11" x .7" (205 x 282 x 18mm)
Hmmm, this one seems like it would do what we want, all in one package. Not sure about the waterproof capabilities though.

Will keep looking until we find what we want/need or Stu decides we don't want/need. LOL!

Still rolling,
Stu and Donna

Interesting product for hikers and backwoods campers

Paracord Survival Bracelets - from their website:

Our Regular Survival Bracelets are made with up to 16' of 550# military spec paracord. They contain approximately 1.75' of paracord for every inch (wrist size) ordered. In an emergency situation, you can unravel the bracelet and deploy the paracord for use.

Whether you are hiking in the woods, stranded on an island, at the range, climbing a mountain, or running errands around town, you will always have several feet of 550 lb. test paracord with you at all times. Oh yeah, they also look incredible!
[All photos courtesy of
Tough Gear Inc./SurvivalStraps
Our Survival Bracelets come with either a tough plastic side release buckle or a marine grade stainless steel shackle for attachment purposes. It's your choice. If you are looking for a very unique, stylish, and functional piece of gear, that is great for everyday wear, this one is for you. We look forward to making you one.

Other items available include some great gift practical ideas:

Biz Cards, ID Cards, Personal Profile Cards...call them what you will.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm borrowing this from Margie and Roger's blog post today. Wondering who uses personal business cards to hand out to new friends, acquaintances and business contacts?

We do...Stu used to print his own (it's kind of how we met), I've sometimes printed my own but for the most part have used VistaPrint.com.  They are reasonable and the quality is excellent.

Once we started traveling together we made new cards for us. We have our photo, names/cell numbers/email addresses for each of us plus our mailing address as well as our blog link. Next time we order we will be adding our fax number that we got at MyFax.com.

We paid extra to get the back printed with an overlay watermark of our photo from the front plus the same saying you see at the top of our blog. No rules, No routes, No responsibilities, Retired. LOL!

They come in very handy even when chatting with non-RVers. It's a good way to pass out our blog address and it's an easy way to make sure a business has the correct address and phone numbers.

So here are the questions:
  • If you are a part-timer or full-timer RV'er do you carry cards with you? What do you do with the ones you receive in your travels?
     
  • If you are planning to hit the road, do you plan to make up cards?
     
  • What do you include on your cards?  Photo of you, photo of your rig, photo of your pets?  Blog address, e-mail address, cell phone number, home address?
     
  • Do you print your own cards or order them a local printer or an online printer?  Or do you purchase ready-made cards through a company like FMCA?
Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu 

Another day gone....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We're still plugging along. Stu finished all the repairs to the rig - new shackles on both sides (heavy duty with grease inserts) as well as brake pads and new rotor on the damaged side. The jack stands we picked up at Northern Tools really helped.

Last night we were to a benefit for one of Stu's firefighter friend. He has been in the hospital for weeks, fighting for his life. We initially thought he had a virus infection but turns out that it was MRSA, also known as the flesh-eating bacteria. He hopes to be discharged soon but will still have months of therapy to go through. The benefit was a huge success, raising $17k dollars for the family.

Tonight we went to Stu's youngest daughter's annual Halloween party. Last year Stu went as a biker (what a stretch...LOL!) and I went as a frog (what a surprise...LOL!). This year we "cheaped" out and wore $5 orange t-shirts with a pumpkin face on the front. We had fun, got to see family and friends as well as two of Sadie's siblings.

I follow a lot of blogs but there are many more that I don't. Several folks have reported the death of two RVers, Bruce and Margie. They were killed while walking outside their RV park in Pismo Beach. Looking back over the blog, I think I would have been a follower. Such a tragedy...my heart goes out to their family and friends.

Tomorrow we hope to get in a nice bike ride. The weather is turning cooler and tomorrow is forecast for a high of 70. Perfect riding!! We'll try to meet up with friends for brunch.

This week will be busy as we start our "de-oozing" process...getting things back in order to move the rig. Friday we drive to Chantilly, VA for the Log and Timber Home Show. We'll move between WalMart and the parking lot before returning on Monday. We'll have one last week to see family and friends before heading south to Tennessee.

One last note, I've started a website and a blog. Not sure what we will end up doing with it. We have tossed around the idea of things we could sell at rallies and pet items always seem to come up. We're not selling anything yet but wanted to get an online base setup. So feel free to stop in and visit us at ToadilyPets.com [blog link]. Nothing on the website now but will be trying to publish to the blog daily. Pass the word to anyone you think might enjoy it.

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

Books, Planning and an Update

Friday, October 15, 2010

We have purchased several books to help us in our planning for the Route 66 ride. The best one so far is Route 66: EZ66 Guide for Travelers. It has page by page maps and directions. The best part is that it's spiral-bound.

Another was given to us by a friend since she is done with the ride. Motorcycle Guide to Route 66

The third is Route 66 Adventure Handbook. It has a lot of information on the fun places to visit on the trip.

Our friends from Australia, Bill and Robyn, are finalizing their trip plans to get to the US next spring. They will fly to Los Angeles and then take the train to Texas where they will pick up their bike that they have stored with friends. We plan to meet outside Chicago in early May. We don't know how much of the route we will do together. Our trip is leisurely since we are retired. Theirs might be a bit tighter since they will have a drop-dead date to return home.

All in all, things are progressing!

Ride safe,
Stu and Donna