The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
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Trailer Life
Some notes on living full time in an Airstream trailer


index:
blogging
boat vs. rv
daily life stuff
downsides, the
gadgets and technology
gas: mileage and deals
handyman help
home improvements
insurance and road help
internet and cell phone
living and cargo space
mail
maintenance and repairs
naysayers
pets
redbox
road not taken, the
safety + security
stuff + storage unit
time and distance
tires
towing an airstream
trailer specs
truckstops
traveling solo
twitter
uncertainty
working

* WISHLIST *

BLOGGING
Most people will call this a blog, but I call it my travel log. It's a narrative, really - not a blog. Things get pretty busy for me, so it could sometimes take me a long while to update the site. I think of it more as a fun way to document/log the places I've been, and less as an opportunity for me to post day-to-day thoughts and observations. In addition to documenting my travels, I hope this site can be a small resource and/or inspiration for other people, whether they are working or retired, fulltimers or weekend/vacation explorers, or armchair travelers. This site is a labor of love for me. It's not a how-to and I'm not trying to sell advertising (especially not advertising! yuck!). If I am trying to sell anything, it is to embrace life, enjoy yourself and the beauty that surrounds us all... and stay curious. Now more than ever, technology is allowing us to explore the art of living creatively and living well.


BOAT VS. RV
I would like to live on a sailboat so that I can travel internationally. But I'm glad I started on land in my own country before getting that boat. International challenges (language and currency), not to mention communication challenges at sea and the physical challenges of sailing would be too much to handle on my own while trying to work and keep a cat and dog safe and healthy. I could live on a sailboat and stick to a U.S. coast, but it seems like RVing gives me a greater landscape to explore.


DAILY LIFE STUFF

• I prefer to have full hookups when my graphic design workload is demanding. Being plugged in just makes life easier, and therefore more enjoyable when trying to get things done in the digital world. If I don't have pressing work projects, boondocking is just fine and I can last a good week on the batteries, because simple living doesn't require a lot of electricity. See trailer specs for more.

• I turn the hot water on only when I need it and give it about 15 minutes to heat up. I also try to strategize hot water usage (shower, dishes) to save propane.

• After rain storms, make a habit of doing a quick leak-check around the walls, windows and flooboards. Do it every now and then to catch any invisible plumbing leaks too.

• Rain on the aluminum skin sounds very nice, but not the drip-drip-drip from overhead trees when the rain has gone. If in a rainy climate with lots of large trees around, consider what you are parking under. Branches fall and cause body damage, too.

• Electric space heater is better than using propane because electricity is usually included in the camping fee. Seems like a no-brainer, but it took me awhile to figure out - probably because I have an inherent distrust of space heaters. Never leave it on if you're not home.

• Fridge is small with a tiny freezer compartment inside. Can't have all the things I'd like to have all at the same time.

• Zip-Dee Awning - don't leave it down if you plan to be away from the trailer for awhile. They don't stand up well to breezy conditions and can be expensive to repair. You can rig it to be more stable, though. Tether it down.

• Fantastic Fans are awesome! Turn that sucker on and open a small window somewhere and it creates a wonderfully strong cool breeze. Works best when only one small vent is open, not all the windows and doors. And it runs on 12v and uses very little power.

• Sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me awhile to remember where I am - sometimes I even have to open the curtains to be sure. Early onset dementia?

• Very little privacy in campgrounds - it's not so easy to find those great places to stay where your neighbors are a comfortable distance away and you've got some sort of buffer between you, like trees and shrubbery.

• It's just so wonder-full to be in that beautiful perfect place, with the windows wide open and a breeze coming through. The spectacular outside beauty is an extension of my home and is often a place where local wildlife roam. I wish everyone could experience it.

• If the trailer needs to be in a shop for repair, me and my animal pals can potentially lose our home for that time period, be it hours or days. It can be very inconvenient if it is 100 degrees outside and unsafe to leave those guys in the car. Extremely inconvenient if any of us are sick. If the Airstream factory is doing work, they've got a terraport with full hookups that is free and they are very accomodating to your needs while they are working on your trailer. If they're not working on the inside and it's very hot and humid, I ask them to keep it plugged in with the air conditioning on and leave the animal pals in there.

• Love to make homemade bread and still do in the trailer.

DOWNSIDES
This website is mostly about the upsides, so here's a little reality check:
• it's difficult to have an organic garden
• it's difficult to have a chicken coop
• hurricanes and tornados can be more troublesome
• can't always have an oceanfront or riverfront campsite
• neighbors are often in very close proximity
• making friends then having to say goodbye
• trailer park stigma, if I let it
• fast food is too convenient on the road
• daily exercise is not so convenient
• repairs


GADGETS and TECHNOLOGY
Oh, you know, the usual suspects: laptop, netbook, Verizon Mifi, external hard drives, wireless wacom tablet, wireless keyboard, Griffin Technology's Icurve, Canon ip90 printer, shade screen for monitor, remote wireless temperature and humidity sensors, various dehumidifying devices, voice-activated Garmin GPS, droid x smartphone, portable inverter.

I'm not much of a TV watcher, so I don't carry a satellite. I take what I can get from the local airwaves or the cable tv that campgrounds sometimes offer. I'm not really a techno-geek, but I love technology for what it allows me to do. I don't particularly like living my life in front of a computer and prefer face to face interaction and outdoor living, but I'm constantly keeping an eye out for new products or services that can improve my comfort or communication.

Also see home improvements and internet and cellphone notes. There's also a section on the Resources pages for some Useful or Space-saving Products.


GAS: MILEAGE and DEALS
A steady 55 mph gave me about 15 mpg with my Toyota 4Runner. That was pretty good. The new Nissan Titan is averaging about the same. One of my credit cards is offering 5% cash back on gas purchases for a short period of time. I will keep an eye out for other ways to save money on gas and report it here. If you know of any good ones, please let me know.

HANDYMAN HELP
It frequently happens that I've got a little problem that I'm not sure how to fix, or need tools I don't have, and frequently there's a handyman or two around who are more than willing to offer their help. Here are a few incidents where I've been very fortunate to find a smart neighbor to help:

Jason: Helped figure out a way to get the best out of my cell phone booster - secure it to the top of the trailer, next to the radio antenna. He also hard-wired the CB in my truck, repaired my grill and killed the venomous brown widow spiders that had nested in my A-frame.
Matt - helped rig my broken bathroom mirror latch so it would stay closed
Tom - showed me how easy it was to replace my water inlet valve after we found that it was leaking.
Cedar Key neighbor - offered a wire coathanger to help me loosen the packed coffee grinds that were blocking my blackwater valve and preventing it from dumping.
Helen, Georgia neighbor - a sklled carpenter, he helped me design and plan the wooden platform I built for my truck bed.
Brooksville neighbor - this one's a doozie - he had the tools and skill to help me resize that bed platform after I painfully realized it was 6' too wide and was wasting a lot of valuable space

Those are just a few that come to mind, but the point is, that even though I travel solo, it doesn't mean that I've got to know how to fix everything all the time. There are always friendly people around willing to help.


HOME IMPROVEMENTS
Things I have added/modified while on the road:
• LCD TV/DVD combo, mounted on an articulating arm so I could watch it from the bedroom, or the dinette/galley - did this myself
• New, extra firm twin mattress to replace the custom-sized foam factory mattress. it just didn't offer enough support, but the original mattress now makes the back of the truck into a superb extra bedroom.
• Thule roof box to hold those things that i don't use everyday - it's my attic.
• Electric space heater - since electricity is included in the campsite fee, why use up my propane?
• Indoor/outdoor patio rug and stair covers - helps keep the inside clean and is very nice on my bare feet.
• Curtains on the dinette windows. Had the folks at Airstream install these when I was in Ohio for some repair work. I didn't like that you could peer inside the edges of the blinds at night, so now I've got complete privacy. Helps keep the cold or heat out too.
• Pop-in Fantastic Fan screen - makes it a breeze to clean now.
• Bathroom medicine cabinet: 2" wide velcro strips (the soft side doubled over and stuck on itself) spans each shelf of the bathroom medicine cabinet to keep everything in place during towing. I got really tired of everything falling out when I opened the cabinet. The velcro acts as a rail to keep everything in, with anchors (the not-soft side) stuck on the cabinet wall on either side of the shelf. Thanks for the idea, Dannyboy.
• Maxx Air covers - it's tough to leave Harley and Peyote in the trailer with the vents open enough for good ventilation, but still secure if a storm passes through. The Maxx Air covers solve this and help me to rest easy. Even with the air conditioner on, I leave the vents open a bit - you never know if the electricity will fail, or if the cord will get knocked out. It happens! Gotta watch that the air conditioner doesn't freeze up from the extra condensation, though. The vent covers also allow me to leave the vents open when traveling.

Also see internet and cellphone and gadgets and technology


INSURANCE and ROAD HELP
I found that Geico had the best rates and they've served me very well for auto and RV insurance (comp and collision). I also have AllState's RoadHelp to cover emergency road service for truck and trailer. Make sure your road service covers BOTH trailer and tow vehicle!


INTERNET and CELL PHONE
I tested the iPhone with At&T on the coast of Oregon against my Verizon service and Verizon won hands down. Connectivity was always more important to me, so I stuck with Verizon and my regular ol' cellphone and waited until they would get the Iphone, but the Droid X came first and it is awesome! I use it to search online, check my work email for pressing matters, monitor the weather, etc...The operating system is very intuitive, smart and elegant and it's got great features like Swype (no more letter-by-letter texting!) and voice-everything (texting, searching, calling...). With the Pandora app, it's better than XM (and free!). With Google maps, it's a gps navigator (but I still use my garmin). It may not have as many apps as the Iphone, but it probably will soon enough. I especially love being able to monitor weather in different parts of the country and be alerted when there is a weather advisory. I traveled for two years without a smartphone, but I can see now how very useful it is.

I use Verizon's Mifi for internet access in all but the most remote places. Before the Mifi came out, I used USB modems, but the Mifi acts as a wireless hub and lets me get online with my PC and Mac simultaneously. It's also much more comfortable to work with because it doesn't stick out of my computer like the USB modems do. I wouldn't mind having a faster connection, though. It's usually sufficient, but never blazing fast. Often not fast enough to watch streaming movies or tv shows. If I want fast, I hunt for a wi-fi spot. Sometimes the campground will have wi-fi. Sometimes it's the local library or coffee shops. But the really nice thing about the MiFi is that it is a secure connection that is not shared.

Also see notes on home improvements and gadgets and technology.


LIVING and CARGO SPACE
I like not collecting things i don't need or barely use. I really like the simplicity. The great outdoors expands our living area considerably, so the twenty-foot trailer is just the right size for the three of us. I like that it is relatively small, which makes it easy to tow and manage, but still has a floorplan that is comfortable and convenient to live in. Between the trailer, truck and Thule box, I actually have more cargo space than I need. There are some aspects of the small trailer that make me consider getting a larger one: it would be nice to have a larger space for guests to visit more comfortably; it would be nice to have a separate bedroom with a walk-around bed that lifts up to access the storage.


MAIL
I use a mail forwarding service in Florida, where I have become a resident. It costs $10/month plus the cost of deliveries when I request them. It works very well for me.


MAINTENANCE and REPAIRS
These are the things that have needed repair on my trailer since I have purchased it in 2007:

• Hot water heater failure - almost immediately after I picked it up
• Water pump was broken from the beginning
• Furnace failure
• Converter failure
• No-fuss flush failure
• Stablizer jack fell off
• Awning piece broke
• Panorama windows leaked bad and soaked the floor.
• Gray water drain pipe leaked.
• Shower hose connection leaked
• Air conditionter broke
• Interior rivets fall out
• Texas body damage - collision
• Tire blow outs - terrible big mess to the wheel wells, propane lines, dump valves and body around it
• Replaced batteries.
• FLOOR ROT

Things I do regularly:
• Flush black tank after every dump. I use the no-fuss flush, close the drain valve and let it fill the tank, then open the valve and empty it. I do this 2-3 times to make sure it's clean.
• wash and walbernize - twice a year or so.
• corrosion x - to manage the small areas of filiform corrosion
• lubricate moving parts - doors, window latches, stairs, tv antenna, stabilizer jacks
• check for leaks - windows, floor edges
• repack wheel bearings
• seal roof and seams
• winterize - when temperatures will fall and stay below freezing
• click the "Battery Disconnect" switch to USE everytime you hookup and plug into a new place. This apparently resets the connection to the battery to stay charged, so it doesn't slowly drain if you stay in one place for awhile. I don't exactly get it, but all of the guys in Jackson Center agree that this is good practice to keep your batteries healthy. Nothing changes when you flip the switch - no light, no "on" or "off", just a click.
• check cold tire pressure everyday before driving
• lube hitch parts


NAYSAYERS
Chances are, if you are considering liquidating your stuff and leading this sort of lifestyle, or even just taking an extended trip, there will be people around you who will try to talk you out of it and convince you that it is crazy, stupid, and extremely dangerous. They care about you, but if you fall into that fear trap, it may prevent you from living your life fully. Many people tried to talk me out of it and made me second-guess my decision. They certainly put the fear and doubt in me and it was a struggle quieting those voices, but I went for it anyway because I trusted myself. We only have this one life - why wait till you are too old to live it? Why save away all of your money for a future that might not even come? I say enjoy yourself while you can. After all, it's your life - you're the one who gets to decide what to do with it. And I am so very glad I did this. So very glad.


PETS
Check the Resources page for links to vet-finders. I carry a year's worth of Frontline and Heartguard and have a first-aid kit. Harley is microchipped and has a tag with my phone number and a tag with the HomeAgain Id # (the microchip). It's a good idea to check with local vets about common problems in the area (ticks, fleas, viruses). I buy 40 lb bags of food and keep it in the truck in a sealed plastic tub. Same with cat litter. Harley and Peyote both ride with me in the truck when I'm towing, which means the cat box too. It goes in the back seat so Peyote can access it. In the trailer, her cat box sits in the shower stall and I leave the bathroom door unlatched so she can get in. I would never leave them in the trailer when driving. Sometimes things fall and move around in there unpredictably. If it's so hot that the air conditioning needs to be on and I have to leave them for a few hours, I crack the roof vents too and set the Fantastic Fan to turn on in case the AC fails, or the electric umbilical cord gets knocked out or something. It happens. I've heard terrible stories.


REDBOX
Movie rentals - they are everywhere (grocery stores, McDonalds), and for $1/night with the ability to return them anywhere, they are a great way to watch recent releases. I really miss Netflix, though, because the Redbox selection is extremely limited. Since I often don't have blazing fast internet, online movies aren't usually an option.


THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


SAFETY and SECURITY
Like anywhere, it's about common sense. I try not to arrive at a new campsite or overnight parking spot in the dark. If someone unexpected knocks on the door late at night, I do not open it or engage in conversation. I don't like to stay in isolated places - that's why I don't often consider WalMarts for an overnight. If I am creeped out, I leave. Usually where there are neighbors, there are people looking out for each other. I trust my instincts.



STUFF and STORAGE UNIT
When I returned to Maine and rented a house for the winter, I was very glad to have had the stuff I left behind. It was like Christmas and seeing a long lost friend - reacquainting myself with my previous life. I appreciated having the few things I kept and regretted getting rid of some things. It's a very difficult and time-consuming process, deciding what to do with your stuff - what to keep and what to get rid of. After returning and considering my stuff for a second time, I still didn't want to get rid of everything - even though that lightness is something i strive for - so the things I kept fit into a 5x10 climate-controlled storage unit. Everything is packed neatly to make it easy for movers to come in and bring it to me, should I find myself wanting to settle down somewhere.

On the flip side, I initially brought too much in the trailer and was constantly unloading things in the beginning. Things get in the way, you find you never use something, you replace something or it's just too heavy. Along the way, I gave things to neighbors, donated to Goodwill or the Animal Refuge League, and packed things up to send to a friend or family member for storage.


TIME and DISTANCE
Perception of time and distance changes greatly when time zones and lattitudes change so easily. Time can stand still or move forward at light speed. Distances can seem inconsequential. One day of driving can change your world completely. I often forget the day of the week, and sometimes even the time of year. Seasons are hard to identify without the usual cues I've grown to understand (winter=snow, summer=hot). The west coast can still feel like my back yard even though I might be kickin' it in the southern Appalachia mountains. It's a strange feeling. If you've traveled anywhere, you know this feeling to some degree.


TIRES
Check them. Check the psi, the tread, and check for lumps. Check to make sure your alignment is okay. Know about them and their load and speed limitations. Had Goodyear Marathons. They both blew out, on separate occasions, on the highway in hot weather at normal highway speeds. The blowouts mangled the body of the trailer and important systems around it (plumbing, propane), causing major repair work. Goodyear Marathons are Airstream's stock tires and they are widely regarded as very poor quality. Now I have Maxxis M8008, 8 ply, load range D. 225/75R15. Each tire has a maximum load of 2540 at 65 psi. The Marathons got terrible online reviews so I went with the Maxxis which had much more favorable reviews. I've learned that it's better to be slightly over inflated than underinflated, but no more than 10 psi. Maximum speed of all trailer tires are 65 mph, which is why I would like to move up to light truck tires. LT tires are made for more driving. Trailer tires are made for more sitting. In order to get LT tires, though, I have to increase my wheel size to 16", so they're on my wishlist.


TOWING AN AIRSTREAM TRAILER
I initially towed my 20' trailer with a Toyota 4Runner. I knew it wasn't the best setup, but it did just fine. Just to be safe, though, I tried to avoid the mountains and steep grades. But I wanted to feel confident about my tow vehicle regardless of the terrain, so I upgraded to a Nissan Titan. More space, great towing capacity, awesome tow mirrors and a bench seat make it superb.

Traveling with a trailer is often more about getting to the destination, and then exploring from a home base. It's not so easy to pull over at the drop of a hat, or do a u-turn, or even just find a place to park. If you make a wrong turn, you often have to adjust your route or drive a distance out of the way before finding an adequate way of turning around. Having a smaller trailer definately makes these things easier, though. The smaller trailer allows me to get into more rustic parks too - where big rigs can't go because of tight turns, or low overhangs. And car ferries charge by the foot, so it pays to have a smaller rig.

The Airstream is especially nice because of its aerodynamic design. I hardly know I'm pulling it, and it's much better on gas mileage than most other travel trailers. I'm usually the only one in a campground with an Airstream, and it often attracts attention. Sometimes I like it and enjoy being the beautiful butterfly. Sometimes I wish people would just leave me the heck alone and stop knocking on my door to ask me how much it cost. And sometimes I just sell tickets and people line up for a tour of the thing - ha! just kidding.

The interstates will get you someplace fast and easy, but they are b-o-r-i-n-g. Driving back roads with good tunes playing is one of my favorite ways to spend a day - especially if I don't have to turn around and drive back home, because I have my home with me! I do try to scope these roads out ahead of time to make sure the route is trailer-friendly (no tight switchbacks, super-low clearances or crazy 20% grades, etc.)

I continually consider the advantages and disadvantages of other RV styles, and for now, I still prefer my little trailer that is simply a home on wheels and not a gas-driven vehicle in itself. And I love having a truck. It's great for camping without the trailer, great for the dog, and so useful for hauling gear.


TRAILER SPECS
I've got a 2007 20' Airstream Safari SE. I haven't done any major modifications, so the standard factory model is what I've got. I love this model for the large galley with tons of counter space, storage and double sinks. I love that the bathroom and kitchen are on one end, and the living areas are on the other. I love that I have a real separate shower, not a wet bath. I love the huge windows next to the dinette and especially the panoramic windows that surround the bed.

GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating): 5000 lbs.
UVW (unloaded vehicle weight): 4115 lbs. = not much cargo capacity if you factor in water and propane weight

PLUMBING:
fresh water: 31 gallons
gray water: 21 gallons
black water: 18 gallons
I can go for 2-3 weeks before I need to refill or empty my tanks. That's being really careful and assumes I am taking showers elsewhere.

ELECTRICAL:
Comes equipped with 2 marine 12-volt deep-cycle wet-cells. If I need to use and charge my computer all day, the batteries will last about 3 days. If I'm only using the lights, they will last much much longer - especially with the new LED lights. The trailer doesn't have a built-in inverter, so I use a small portable one if I want to use or charge anyything that requires AC. The fridge runs on AC if it's plugged in, and on propane when not. Lights and fans are 12v. I don't use the tv and air conditioner unless I'm plugged in. The hot water heater burns propane. The regular heater also burns propane, and uses the battery to ignite. If it's really really cold (single digits), the heater will drain the battery overnight. I learned this when overnighting in NH's white mountains in the freezing dead of winter. Woke up at 4 am very cold. Trailer batteries were dead and the tow vehicle too, because I left them plugged in to each other. Maybe that's what killed those batteries. Had to flag down an early-morning hiker for a jump-start.

STRUCTURE:
Every Airstream is hand-built in Jackson Center, Ohio. The interior aluminum skin is the same material as the exterior, which is riveted to ribs and in between is insulation. The floorboard is not marine-grade wood but the perimeter is treated to withstand moisture. All of the interior furniture came in through the door, after the body was bolted to the floorboard.

For more information on how Airstream builds their trailers go to their online factory tour.


TRAVELING SOLO
People often wonder if it's lonely and how can I stand traveling solo. I think it would be fantastic to do this with someone else, preferably of the male gender, but I have yet to meet that guy. So, given the chance to do it alone, or not at all....well, it's a no-brainer for me. Yes, it can be lonely at times, but there are always new people to meet and new places to discover. I feel much more connected with the art of living now. It's nice, because wherever I go, I'm at home, and my neighbors are usually some of the nicest people I've met. I've also got friends and family scattered about to visit along the way...and anyway, I'm not really traveling solo - I've got my animal pals. And now with facebook, twitter, and more online communities forming everyday, I feel like I'm with a crowd. For sure, though, you've got to be the kind of person who enjoys your own company. I happen to be the type of person that doesn't mind spending time by myself and values my personal space and freedom. But there is no one else to help problem-solve with when things come up, and that can certainly be stressful at times. There's also no copilot to get online and find a phone number, or look at a map, or reference a guidebook while driving. Most things take more time when there's just you. But being on your own can also make you more approachable and it's easier to meet and talk with people when you are by yourself. You also get to make all of the decisions, which is probably more of a curse than a blessing, really, but not all that bad if you are subject to change frequently.

TRUCKSTOPS
I spoke with a truckdriver to find out how they feel about RVers parking in their spaces, and this is what she said:

"Truckers aren't very fond of RVs in the truck stop.... It isn't personal. It is just that we are so limited when it comes to parking that every space is precious. It may not look like it at 4 in the afternoon, but look around a 2 in the morning. The newer regulations (in the past 3 years or so) require us to set longer than before, tying spaces up longer. We are required by federal law to stop after 11 hours of actual driving or 14 hours after we start our day. Exceeding that can range from a fine for getting caught or your company firing you, to life in prison if you kill someone during that time. Many customers don't allow us to park at their facilities once we are loaded or unloaded. Most Walmarts don't allow us to stay overnight (although some have seen the light and are built with designated truck parking). A lot of rest areas have closed due to state budgets, while some remaining ones are 'cars only' (but cars are allowed to park in the very few ‘truck only’ places). Even in the rest areas that allow both cars and trucks, cars choose to park in the truck area because they cannot navigate a rest area properly (and we let them drive??) States used to allow us to park on exit ramps but many have banned that. Picture this. It’s the middle of the night. You have driven 650 miles. You are dead tired. You have to deliver in 11 hours at a nearby location. Federal law requires 10 hours off and a 15 minute pre-trip inspection of your equipment. You pull into a truck stop and circle around finding no empty spaces and a half a dozen RVs parked in the trucks. You have 45 minutes to find a spot and it is 60 miles the wrong way to the next closest truckstop. That's 10 hours + 15 minutes and now 2 hours (1 each way) equaling 12 hours and 15 minutes. What happened to either the on-time delivery or the federally mandated break?? All that driver sees is an RV that had a flexible schedule and alternate locations (RV parks that we can't park in). We are generally obligated to truckstops and rest areas. I hope I am not sounding snobby or anything, and I wouldn't condone any bad behavior by a trucker towards an RVer. I am just saying that this is how it is. And remember, LOL, you asked!!

To touch back on the regulations regarding breaks, if we exceed those hours and some drunk drives across the median and takes out our truck, WE are at fault. By law we should not have been there. It doesn’t matter if his post-mortem blood test shows a .30, we go to jail. You have seen the former ambulance chasers on tv. They are truck chasers now. “Have you been injured in an accident with a great big mean old truck? Call Vaughn Wamsley at…” Many shippers and receivers run a very tight loading/unloading schedule, and if you miss your appointment, it may literally be DAYS to get another appointment. So back in our scenario, what’s your choice. And who are you mad at?? On a side note, there is a truck stop in Idaho, the Boise Stage Stop, that has a big sign over the dining doors that reads "This is a truck stop. Truckers will be served first." Popular place! That's why many older style truckstops, like say Petro, has a designated driver's area in the dining room. There are fewer tables per waitress, and it is closer to the kitchen for faster service. If I go in and they are busy, and I am on my break (rather than in a hurry to get back on the road), I sit in the regular dining room to free up a table for guys on the clock.

...On Friday and Saturday nights, parking in the truckstops wouldn't be as big of a deal as weeknights. Less drivers working.... I usually stick to the interstates because they are easier and generally faster. Another useless piece of trucker trivia for you is a truck uses an extra gallon of fuel everytime they have to stop for a stop light/sign. That's 6-8 miles extra they could have run on the interstate to avoid it. How crazy is that?"

This is stuff I wasn't aware of, and I'm grateful to have had this dialogue. I will certainly try to avoid taking a trucker's spot now if I decide to sleep in a parking lot for the night. Often times, a truckstop will have designated RV spots. Call ahead, or look online. As RVers with usually more flexibility, let's give the truckers a break.


TWITTER
Still figuring this out, but it seems like an interesting way to share and find information.


UNCERTAINTY
You have to be comfortable with uncertainty. You may arrive at a place only to find it is nothing like you thought it would be. The weather may change your plans (fires in California, tornados in the midwest, hurricanes on the coast). Something may happen to the rig that demands a shop's attention. You may have thought you'd enjoy spending two months in an area, only to realize 2 days is all you care to experience. A new work project could come up, or something could happen with the animals. You just don't know. You've got to be okay with traffic, or problems on the road that delay or change your plans. I have made plans with friends months in advance, only to realize that it is very difficult trying to stick with it. So it makes sense to keep plans loose and ask about cancellation policies when making campground reservations. Things just happen and you've got to roll with it. Of course, if I NEED to be someplace, I will be there. Luckily, it is not often that I absolutely NEED to be someplace.


WORKING
I am very fortunate that I have work that is flexible enough to allow me to live this way. As long as I have an internet and phone connection within reach, I am fine. I don't necessarily need it in the trailer, but it is definately more convenient that way. It's not unusual for me to pull in to a rest stop and upload/download files. My Verizon broadband Mifi makes that an easy task almost anywhere. My work is usually project-based, so I can do much of it on my own schedule. Project schedules are fairly predictable, so I know when I will need good phone and internet and I plan my locations around my work schedule. It's a bit of a puzzle to piece together - where I'm going to be, for how long, with what work projects, and what kind of internet connection, and allowing for time to explore, take photos, and get a real feel for the place. It often means spending at least a month in choice locations.

Sometimes when I'm in a beautiful place, and am surrounded be people kickin' back and enjoying themselves, and I am hunkered down in front of my computer, it's a bummer. I like to work outside when I can, but often it's just easier and more efficient to work at the dinette inside. Some people think I am on a continual vacation. I am not. I still have clients and work and they are still the first priority.


WISHLIST
• Additional floor space and overall spatial comfort for having guests visit.
• Most campsites are back-ins, so a large window at the rear would be especially nice.
• bigger fridge
• on-board fix-it guy/mechanical engineer/inventor/trusty problem-solver/plumber/electrician/heavy lifter/washer-waxer - ha!
• solar panels
• microwave
• tire pressure monitor on trailer tires. The Titan came with a warning light built in if pressure is low on any of the four tires.
• considering Light Truck tires for the trailer, which means getting bigger wheels
• awning over dinette windows
• generator
• blazing fast internet everywhere
• crystal clear phone service everywhere

 

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