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Blog Entries posted by Roadtrekingmike

  1. Roadtrekingmike
    Lavender. Just the word brings olfactory recall, doesn’t it? Such a pleasant smell, such a pleasant flower. While we were RVing in the Pacific Northwest, I saw a notice in a local publication about a lavender farm that invited visitors. Before Mike could say “where are we headed today?”, I had the GPS programmed.
    The Tumalo Lavender Farm is located just outside of Bend, Ore., and is a 10-acre garden filled with the sweet fragrance of 10,000 mature plants, all grown organically, pollinated by some very busy bees. It is a labor of love for Gordon and Judy Knight, who – a decade ago – left professional careers in the travel industry to follow their heart’s desire to be surrounded by beautiful and practical lavender.
    Here’s a video of our tour:

    Gordon, accompanied by Jazzmine, their Golden Retreiver and the official greeter at the farm, took time from his cuttings and planting and gave us a tour of the farm. Before deciding to become Lavender farmers, they spent three years researching, investigating, and reading extensively about lavender. Their quest took them to Lavender farms throughout the Northwest. They became knowledgeable in growing, processing and working with lavender. They found the right varieties that would adapt and survive in the climate of Central Oregon.

    Tumelo Lavender now ships its plants and the many products made from them across the nation through direct order from nurseries and over the Internet through its website. I was amazed at the many ways Lavender can be used. Lavender is not only beautiful and sensory, but a practical choice for a garden.I bought two potted plants to take home.
    Lavender is easy to grow and has a reputation for being notoriously non-palatable to deer. It is also considered a drought-tolerant plant and Gordon assured me it will thrive in our Michigan climate.
    Pleasant scents can put you in a peaceful state of mind. Lavender has been associated with cleanliness since Romans first added it to their bathwater. In fact, the name comes from the Latin lavandus, meaning to wash. Essential oil of lavender is now known to have many application in aromatherapy. Lavender was traditionally inhaled to ease exhaustion, insomnia, irritability, and depression. In ancient times, it was used as a medicine. Gordon told us that a local hospital in Bend buys his plants and uses them to cam surgery patients before they are administered anesthetic.
    Lavender is a favorite for scenting clothing and closets, soaps, and even furniture polish.

    The calming, fresh, unique fragrance of lavender is available in potpourris, buds, oils, handmade soap, lotions, lip balm, and hydro-mists and wreaths.
    While Mike was shooting video, I did some shopping. The smell of lavender will be a welcome addition to our RV. I bought a lot of lavender, for gifts and for our motorhome. We’ve been on the road a long time this season and the lavender will do wonders.
  2. Roadtrekingmike
    I get lots of questions and requests for suggestions and recommendations about the tech gear I use to capture and blog the reports I’m doing out on the road. I’m always adding various things, but here’s my latest update on the gear I like to take with me.
    My main video camera – I use the Canon XA20 Professional Video Camera. I love this camera. I got this in the fall of 2013 and have found it to be the perfect ”run-and-gun” camcorder, suitable for HD ENG work (Electronic News Gathering), event coverage, interviews, scenic shots, how-to-videos and documentary filmmaking. The camera features a 1/2.84″, 1920 x 1080 CMOS sensor that captures video at various frame rates up to 59.94p, including a 24p mode for a more cinematic feel. The integrated Canon 20x HD Optical zoom lens has a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 26.8 to 576mm and features an 8-bladed iris to render highlights in a more natural manner. It uses professional XLR audio inputs for two channel recording. I use an attached shotgun mic and a wireless mic on the two inputs.
    Back-up Video Cameras (Two) – GoPro Her03 + Black Edition video cameras . Waterproof, dustproof, HD and able to be strapped to anything from a helmet to the side of my Roadtrek, these cameras ges great wide angle perspectives great for action shots. There are lots of mounts. I have a helmet mount for biking and a suction cup mount for slapping on my motorhome or any flat surface. One of tjese cameras is dedicated to my drone, see below.
    Wireless Microphone System – Good sound is essential. I use the Sennheiser EW 100-ENG G2 Wireless Lavalier Microphone System, with BodyPack Transmitter,Plug-on Transmitter, Camera Receiver. This system is a workhouse for professional videographers and news crews. It provides video recording in the most varied recording situations, from as far as 100 feet. The ME 2 clip-on microphone is virtually invisible. The extremely small SK 100 G2 bodypack transmitter and the SKP 100 G2 plug-on transmitter as well as the EK 100 G2 camera receiver feature nine frequency banks with four directly accessible presets each.
    My main DSLR Camera – The Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP with an 18-135 mm lens. Awesome photos, great HD video. I bought this to do still and video but now use just for stills. Since this is a bit tricky to focus for video out in the boonies, I now use dedicated video and still cameras. This camera captures images with exceptional clarity and tonal range and offers more than enough resolution for big enlargements or crops. This first-class sensor features many of the same new technologies as used by professional Canon cameras to maximize each pixel’s light-gathering efficiency. Its APS-C size sensor creates an effective 1.6x field of view (compared to 35mm format).
    My secondary DSLR Camera – Lately, I’ve also added the new Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 50x Optical Zoom. I have been stunned at the capabilities of this camera and especially how clear and crisp that 50X zoom is in geting me up close to wildlife and nature shots. This is much lighter than the T3i and is seriously vying as my always-carry camera.
    Main lens – Because I like photographing wildlife – big, dangerous wildlife like wolves, moose, bison and bear – I need a good telephoto. But I don’t want to have to carry extra lenses. So I got the Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD LD Aspherical IF Macro Zoom Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras. This lens is amazingly compact and it works on everything from wide angles to telephoto.
    Bag for Cameras – After years of searching, I’ve found the perfect gear bag for my DSLR calera, videocamera, lenses, wireless mics and batteries. It also holds my 15-inch MacBook Pro. It’s the Kata PL Reporter Bag, model Pl-Rpt-30. The flap features quick release buckles for full opening or a quick top-access zipper opening for when quiet is necessary, like when you don’t want to disturb the wildlife you’re trying to photograph. The organizer pockets on the front will hold your small personal items like a wallet, passport etc. Carry comfortably with the padded shoulder strap or, when on the move, tuck the bag under your arm using the detachable handle strap.
    I also love my Mountainsmith Descent AT Recycled Camera Bag. It’s a backpack, er, make that a frontpack. It is held in place on your chest by a shoulder harness system. Cameras are always within easy reach but I have both hands free for balance and mobility. This can hold both my still and video cameras. Great for wilderness hikes.
    Computer – The MacBook Pro with Retina display. Quite simply, this is the finest computer I have ever owned. Mine is the 15-inch version, with the 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor. I have 16 GB of RAM and 750 GB of flash storage. Because there are no moving parts, the the solid state flash drive boots up remarkably fast. About 20 seconds does it.
    Video editing software – I use Final Cut Pro X. Fast, powerful, full featured and able to handle 1080p HD video without breaking a sweat.
    Portable hard drive – HD video files are huge. So I carry the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1TB external hard drive. I make files for each shoot, organize them on the FreeAgent and never worry about using up my MacBook Pro storage.
    Backup Power – There are so many things that depend on battery power. Cameras, smartphones, tablets, laptops. I bring the Mophie Powerstation XL with me on all trips. It charges anything that I have that has a USB connector.
    Laptop bag – The SwissGear SA1923 ScanSmart Backpack carries my computer, cables, wires, adapters, chargers, notebooks, pens, thumbdrives and more stuff than anyone would ever need. I’ve literally tried every bag out there. After years of searching, this is the best for me. Padded protection for my laptop, lots of extra compartments, quality zippers and seams, I will never use another.
    Smartphone – I use the iPhone 5S with 65 GB. I’ve had every iPhone since they came out and just keep coming back to them. Nothing is better. I’ve used many of the Android phones, of which I most like the Galaxy S 4 and the Note 3.
    Tablet – The iPad. The 4g Version 3 model. Great for apps on the road. Check my PC Mike NBC-TV reports for my favorite apps.
    My Network – Verizon Wireless. Verizon, I’ve found, offers the best and reliable nationwide coverage. I’ve had AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. None came close to Verizon in terms of coverage while on-the-road, offering 3 and 4g coverage and reliability. If no WiFi is available, I use the Verizon MiFi wireless modem to set up a 4g hotspot on the Verizon network. That lets me use my MacBook Pro for web updates, uploading photos and videos.
    Ham radio – I’m a long-time licensed amateur radio operator (K8ZRH) and I always have a rig with me. I travel with the ICOM IC-V85 two meter FM hand held transceiver and, permanently mounted, the Kenwood 144/440 MHz TM-V71A transceiver. I use amateur radio for emergency communications, weather monitoring and just plain chit-chatting with locals on their repeaters. I did a blog post on installing ham radio in an RV. I’m hoping to add an HF model some day soon.
    GPS gear – For my Roadtrek, I use the Rand McNally TripMaker RVND 7710. This has a seven inch screen and can be synced to a central site to reflect the latest in construction issues and detours. Made specifically for RVs with lots of RV-specifica data and Points of Interest (POI), it is the most accruate and easy-to-follow vehicle navigation system I’ve yet to use. For my long bicycle rides and off road exploring, I use the Garmin Edge 705. Though made specifically for cycling, it slips off the handlebars mount easily and can be carried in my pocket for hiking.
    My Drone – Lately, I’ve also been having a lot of fun with my own personal drone. It’s really not a drone in the sense of the military drones we keep hearing about but is a radio controlled quadricopter, the Phantom 2 with a Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal that acts as a steadycam for the GoPro Hero 3 camera it carries. I use this for aerial shots to show scenic views and overhead perspectives of the places I blog about. I have an FPV (First Person Video) monitor attached to the flight controller that transmits back the image the camera is recording. The camera has a built in compass and GPS navigation control.
    Google Glass – I am one of the Google Glass Explorers, those Google invited in to experiment with its new wearable computer and am indeed experimenting with it in my Roadtreking reporting. The device is expected to go on sale in late spring 2014. Right now I use it primarily to record video and shoot still pictures. I did a review on Google Glass for my PC Mike blog and already have done a couple of videos with it for the blog and will do many more as the 2014 travel season gets underway. It has lots of apps that work with it, projecting information on a little screen right in front of your right eye. It’s connected to the Internet and uses your voice to open and close apps, share messages on social media, record messages and to answer questions you verbally ask it just as you would type them with a keyboard on the Google search engine.
    Clothing – I wear coats, shorts, jackets, vests, pants and shirts made by ScottEVest, an American maker of tech-enabled very high quality casual clothing that is known for having an abundance of pockets for all the tech gear one would want to carry around. The company started with a great photographer’s vest and for well over a decade, I proudly wore mine all over the world. Now, Scott Jordan, the guy behind the company, makes a whole line of mens and womens clothing. They are stylish and comfortable and perfect for all my gadgets and gizmos.
  3. Roadtrekingmike
    Thanks to the Internet and email, text messaging and Facebook updates, it’s easy to stay in touch with friends and family while traveling.
    But a very active group of RVers takes such connectivity to a whole new level, out-Interneting even the Internet when it comes to being able to communicate with the world.
    They take their own radio stations with them.
    They are members of the Amateur Radio Chapter of the Family Motorcoach Association and their radio stations are ham radio transceivers that let them communicate with other ham operators from their motorhomes and, during the off season, from their sticks and bricks homes.
    Amateur radio is not the same thing as CB, or Citizen’s Band radio. CB radio is short-range, low-powered communications and mostly used by truckers and highway drivers these days. It’s noisy, undisciplined and often plagued by interference and rude or profane language.
    Amateur radio is just the opposite, a popular hobby and service in which licensed “ham operators” operate communications equipment using a variety of forms, from voice to Morse Code to digital. To become a radio amateur, operators must demonstrate basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles and pass an examination to get a Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) license to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands.” These bands are radio frequencies reserved by the FCC for use by ham radio operators.
    Ham frequencies can connect amateurs from across the street to across the world.
    Besides just talking and visiting with their on-the-air friends, many radio amateurs donate their time and equipment for public service work during times of emergency or disaster.
    I’ve been a ham operator since 1962 when, as a teenager, I became K8ZRH, my ham radio call. Over the years, I’ve been in and out of the hobby. For a while, I was obsessed with “chasing DX,” or making contact with different ham operators all over the world. I earned certificates for working amateurs in all 50 states, then from over 100 counties.
    I learned and mastered Morse Code, the language of transmitted dots and dashes. I built all sorts of different antennas, bouncing signals of satellites, even the moon.
    I embraced computer technology, joining my ham radio transceiver to my computer and using digital communications.
    I got involved in contesting, or radio sport as its sometimes known. There are ham radio contests almost every weekend in which hams try to make contact with operators under all sorts of conditions, such as using emergency battery or solar power and trying to accumulate as many contacts as possible in a specific period of time.
    The contests are training exercises, really. First and foremost, amateur radio is a service. If normal communications should ever fail, ham radio operators are practiced and ready to donate their time and expertise to keep the nation in touch.
    That’s the great thing about ham radio, there are so many fascinating activities and services you can tap into.
    Lately, it’s that public service aspect that has taken up most of my ham radio time. The first accessory I added to my motorhome when I started my RVing adventures was a ham radio transceiver. I’m part of my local community’s Amateur Radio Public Service Corps, which works with the Department of Homeland Security, to provide emergency communications when needed.
    I’ve taken special classes from meteorologists to be a severe weather spotter, something hams do when bad weather threatens to provide trained observers during weather warnings.
    And I’ve embraced ham “Nets,” short for Networks, or groups of stations that gather on a specific frequency at a set time to exchange communications. That’s how I discovered the FMCA Amateur Radio Chapter.
    The group runs communications Nets Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, gathering at 1 PM Eastern Time from all across the country. A Net Control volunteer coordinates check-ins and directs one station to talk at a time. Conversation typically revolves around the main interests of the members, motorhome travel and amateur radio. It’s like an RV rally on-the-air.
    Members chat about modifications they’ve done to their motorhomes, their radios, antenna systems and, of course, the weather.
    The chapter also has a website at http://fmcaarc.com that pinpoints the mobile or fixed locations of many of its 86 members on a map.
    And just like other FMCA chapters, they attend FMCA rallies and campouts throughout the year.
    Les Wright, is the chapter president, known to his fellow hams by his call sign AA7YC. He and wife, Carole, have been fulltimers since 2002, traveling the country in a 36-foot 2009 Alpine Coach. They are Nevada residents with longtime friends and family in the Reno area and usually spend a few weeks there each year. But with kids and grandkids in New York, North Carolina, Nevada, and California, they are on the road more often than not.
    Les has been a huge evangelist for both motorhoming and amateur radio.
    “The two go together hand in hand,” he said. “We get to stay in touch all the time and stay connected with what people are seeing, where they are going, instead of once or twice a year when we meet at rallies.”
    Les and Carole are both licensed and both participate in the radio contacts throughout the week. Their “radio shack,” as hams call their equipment room, connects through a computer in his motorhome with a transmitter stowed in the storage “basement.” He travels with several antennas, including one that mounts atop a telescoping flagpole attached to the back of the coach.
    “For us, being fulltimers, amateur radio has been a great way to have community wherever we go,” says Carole.
    For Karla and Larry Dayhuff (FMCA #) from Lecanto, FL , meeting the Wrights was infectious. Larry, had been a ham radio operator years before but was inactive. After being exposed to the FMCA Amateur Radio Chapter, he once again plunged into the hobby full tilt, even going so far as to study and pass the stringent exam for the most advanced ham license there is, Amateur Extra Class, N7LWD. Larry is now chapter Vice President.
    Wife Karla studied and obtained the General Class license, K4KLD, which allows her to operate on all ham bands. She’s the chapter Secretary and Membership Chair.
    They travel extensively in a 2006 Monaco Windsor and use amateur radio on the road from their motorhome and their Florida home.
    “We love the community we’ve met through RVing and ham radio,” she says. “We have met so many new friends.”
    Community. That’s a word you hear a lot from ham operators.
    Amateur radio is a very social pastime. While many are attracted by an initial interest in the technology and electronics that make two-way radio communication possible, most amateurs just enjoy “ragchewing,” or casual conversation with friends – friends who may just happen to on the other side of the continent, or world.
    And when you add in RVing and motorhome travel, there’s no shortage of fun things to talk about.
    Till next time, as the ham operators say ...73.
    (73 is the ham radio term for “Best Regards.”)

    FMCA membes Les and Carol Wright at the controls of their ham radio station in their 2009 Alpine Coach motorhome.

    This is my VHF/UHF ham rig mounted in my Roadtrek eTrek.
  4. Roadtrekingmike
    The Florida Caverns State Park is one of those perfect half-a-day side trips, offering a guided tour of a fascinating geologic wonder, some nice hikes and an opportunity to kayak and explore a wilderness river that offers up a blue hole as a bonus.
    And at the end of the exploring, there’s a nice campground available, too, if you’re in need of a place to overnight.
    Located near the town of Marianna in Florida’s panhandle just off I-10, the underground tour offers inspiring vews of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies.
    Formed about 38 million years ago when sea levels were much higher and the southeastern coastal plain of the United States was submerged. Shells, coral and sediments gradually accumulated on the sea floor. As sea levels fell, these materials hardened into limestone. During the last million years, acidic groundwater dissolved crevices just below the surface creating cave passages large enough to walk through.
    You can still see some of those fossilized shells, as well as fish skeletons embedded in the limestone throughout the subterranean system . On the ceiling of one of the underground rooms our guide used his flashlight to show off what he says is an ancient shark’s tooth.
    The tour lasts about 45 minutes and reminded us a lot of the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Developed in 1935 during the height of the depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Projects Administration. Both groups emerged from President Roosevelt’s New Deal, established in 1933 to provide jobs to men during the Great Depression.
    Using not much more than pickaxes, shovels, wheelbarrows and a flatbed pickup truck, it took nearly a decade to carve out an underground path that wanders between “rooms” of the caverns. Most of the tunnels and caverns are about 25 feet beneath the surface, Subdued lighting runs throughout the system and, like any good cave tour, there will come a moment when the guide will turn off all lighting to show how totally dark it is underground.
    Although the tour is not strenuous, there are places where the passages are very narrow and low, meaning you need to be flexible enough to be able to duck down and walk under spots that are no higher than four feet or so.
    A welcome bonus in visiting the caverns during the hot and steamy Florida summer is the constant year-round temperature of 65 degrees in the caverns.
    Hiking trails run throughout the 1,319-acre park and kayaks can be rented to paddle the Chipola River, which has a deep blue spring – named the Jackson Blue Spring to differentiate between the Florida’s Blue Springs State Park near Orlando – flows at an average rate of 76 million gallons of water a day. With five other smaller springs, it feeds Merritts Mill Pond, a major scenic and recreation area.
    Click the image to enlarge:

    You enter the caverns through a door that takes you 25 feet beneath the surface.

    Some of the rooms are quite large.

    A statue out front honors the nearly 10 years it took for CCC workers to excavate the path through the caverns.

    They call this the “Wedding Cake.”

    It requires you to stoop to navigate through some of the spots.

    A ranger explains how caverns and caves are made.

    More beautiful formations
  5. Roadtrekingmike
    "How lucky I am to have known someone who was so hard to say goodbye to.” – Anonymous
    I write this with tears steaming down my face. Our noble friend and companion, Tai, has crossed the Rainbow Bridge – that sappy, mythical but nevertheless comforting place where much-loved pets go to await their masters. He would have been 12 this December.
    I debated whether I should do a blog post about this. But Tai was so well known by the Roadtreking community that he was a celebrity in and of himself, often being recognized as we camped across North America. People would come up to meet him and get that awesome Elkhound wag of the tail in return. He even got regular fan mail.
    So it’s fitting that I tell the Roadtreking community.
    We first learned that Tai had serious health issues about two weeks ago when he was found panting and having great difficulty breathing one morning. Rushed to an emergency vet clinic, a huge tumor was found around his aortic valve. It was inoperable. His heart sac was filling with blood and he was very near death. The fluid was drained, the tumor measured and a terminal diagnosis was given.
    We haven’t shared that publicly but our hope was for a few more months. That wasn’t to be. He began having seizures last night and, though he seemed to rally, they continued today. It was obvious his heart sac was again filling up. Tai took his last ride in the Roadtrek about 1:50 pm today (July 23, 2015). Jennifer and I were both by his side as he peacefully drifted off.
    Now, we are in a house that seems so empty.
    I drove home in the Roadtrek without him, a few tufts of his thick beautiful grey and black coat on the floor still between the two front seats where he loved to sit and be petted as we drove across the country. Unashamedly, I admit to crying the whole way home. His spirit and our Roadtreking lifestyle are so intertwined it’s absolutely gut-wrenching to realize he wont be with us anymore.
    To those who never had a dog, I’m sure all this grief seems misplaced. But to those who have been blessed to have a dog, you know how we feel.
    Tai loved Roadtreking. When we were home, he’d sit next to it in the driveway, anxiously awaiting the next adventure.
    And adventure he had. I have hundreds of photos of him. Hiking riverbanks and forests, mountain tops and canyons, beaches and meadows. He barked at bison, sniffed bears, chased elk and deer, mixed it up with raccoons, got sprayed by a skunk and made friends across the country.
    He had a good, full life. But now ours is so empty.
    Like our house. Like the Roadtrek.
    This will pass. Tai was our third dog, all of them Elkhounds. We’ve been through this before.
    Some say the only way to get over the loss of a dog is to get a new one. That may happen. But not for a while. That new one wouldn’t be Tai.

    I thought you should know.
    I want to end this with another quote, sent me by a reader:
    “It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them.
    And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart.
    If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog,
    and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”
    – Anonymous
  6. Roadtrekingmike
    Seven minutes is all it took for our RV to be burglarized, to lose $12,000 and counting worth of equipment – just about everything of value inside the motorhome except the dog.
    Yes, just seven minutes.
    That’s all it took for the bad guys to come into our space, take our stuff.
    We know it was only seven minutes, too, from our dash cam recording most of it.
    But as Jennifer points out, what they physically took are only things. The stuff is just that – stuff.
    And, yes, it isn’t fun, but it is life and when things like this happen, you have two choices: bury your head in the sand or learn from it and move on.
    So we move on.
    We WILL continue with our trip out west along Route 66. We WILL continue with our Roadtreking podcasts.
    First Things First: Roadtreking RV Burglarized in Illinois
    It happened just across the Mississippi River – from St. Louis in Collinsville, Ill. – when we stopped for dinner about 6:15 p.m. at a restaurant in a busy shopping mall off Interstate-55. It was a pretty upscale mall too, with lots of well known stores and restaurants and traffic.
    While we were inside eating, at least two thieves somehow gained entry to our Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL and, in about seven minutes took more than $12,000 worth of electronic gear from our rig – including all of the video and still cameras and most of the mobile podcasting studio gear I had taken for the trip.
    Police blamed gangs from nearby East St. Louis. A guy towing a U-Haul who also stopped for dinner and parked a few spaces down was also hit. They smashed a window out to gain entry to his vehicle and also took a computer.
    It turns out, though, that my dash cam may have captured an image of one of the thieves who looked to be casing our RV. A “person of interest” can be clearly seen on the dash cam peering in the front.
    Seconds before he walked out of sight, someone entered from the side and was joined by an accomplice. I’ve given the evidence over to police. They would like to identify and talk to the person seen here.

    The video showed this man walking back and forth, peering inside and then disappearing off to the left, seconds after someone entered the vehicle from that direction. Under his left arm he is carrying what appears to be a hammer or some sort of burglary tool.
    Alas, because the dash cam pointed outward, we did not get an image of the thieves who were inside. The dash cam did record some of their audio. They can be heard talking nicely to Tai, who, knowing him, was probably delighted by the company.
    The inside was totally ransacked. Every cupboard was opened and all the contents strewn about. You can hear the thieves delighting over the laptops. “What’s this,” one of them asked, followed by the sounds of things falling to the floor.
    I can’t begin to describe how incredibly sad it is to hear these lowlifes talking so casually about the things they were finding and stealing. They laughed and sounded totally at ease. In Jennifer’s tote bag were some personal items, things of absolutely no value or meaning to the thieves, but things that were meaningful to her.
    Both of our laptops, an iPad, chargers, my professional video camera, my high end Canon 5D Mark III DSLR camera with a memory card full of Route 66 photos, my multichannel podcast mixing board, a Rand McNally GPS, a portable printer and all sorts of cables and stuff like a backpack, Jennifer’s tote bag and even my shower soap, shampoo and deodorant were taken.
    When we came back out from the restaurant about 7:03 PM, the thieves were gone and Tai looked stressed. He knew stuff wasn’t supposed to be tossed all over the RV. Fortunately, the thieves did not hurt him. As I mentioned, they can be heard talking soothingly to him as they stole our stuff.
    After police took our report, I went to a nearby Best Buy and bought a replacement computer. I stayed up all night, first configuring it and then, account by account, changing passwords on my email accounts, my credit card companies, my bank and other personally sensitive information. Then I did it all for Jennifer. Then we called our accountant and bank to alert them to be on the alert for suspicious activity.
    Fortunately, all my computer info was encrypted and backed up with strong security measures. But it’s better to take no chances, hence an all-nighter. I am too old to pull an all-nighter.
    I also am glad I have a Mac. I used Apple’s”Find My Mac” service to first see if I could locate the stolen laptop. It didn’t show but I clicked the “notify me if found” box, which, as soon as it goes online, will send me a map of its location. I also send an erase command which will wipe the had disk and lock the machine so it can not be used. This is a great service and well worth the cost of buying Apple.
    Tips: Lessons Learned from the Roadtreking RV Break-In
    We suspect that thieves are using technology to transmit radio signals that mimic the unlock signals transmitted by key fobs.
    If so, that would explain why there was no sign of forced entry. Because as we left the vehicle, as normal, Jennifer asked if I had locked it. I distinctly remember walking to the side passenger window, pushing the lock button on the key fob, and seeing and hearing the inside locks depress.
    Almost as frustrating an experience of being robbed is the runaround I’m now getting from my insurance carrier. The claims investigator who called me back said because there was no forced entry evidence, they probably won’t pay.
    The company I used specializes in insuring recreational vehicles. But if they deny my claim, they are going to literally have a very unhappy camper on their case.
    The rationale suggested by the claims agent is simply unacceptable. These thieves illegally entered our home. The RV is our home. They violated that home and stole from us. Now, the insurance agency is hinting it will do the same thing by not paying.
    We’ll see what happens as the claim works its way up, but I urge all of you to carefully check your policies.
    Inventory the items you take with you and make sure you are adequately covered by a reputable agency.
  7. Roadtrekingmike
    No matter where or how you roll, the one thing all RVers have in common is the way the RV lifestyle seems to bring people together - literally and figuratively. For snowbirds, full-timers, near full-timers like Jennifer and me or weekend campers, it's the sheer joy of getting out and meeting new people or simply spending quality time with your spouse or friends.
    For families with younger children or grandchildren, it means bonding time away from the distractions of day-to-day living, TV, video games, and iPods.
    Take Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi, for example. Together with their three children, the Puglisis spend almost 50 nights a year RVing with their children and say they have it down to a science by now. They document their adventures on the RV Family Travel Atlas blog and podcast and join us for episode 23 of the Roadtreking RV Lifestyle podcast with great lessons for parents and grandchildren who RV with childern.
    In this conversation we learn:
    How to have a balance between scheduled activities and “down time”
    Kids never get bored once they are out there, just introduce them to the outdoors
    Families/grandparents should splurge for kid-friendly campsites, with swimming pools, playgrounds and games
    Take your kids/grandkids on hikes, challenge them, use it to teach them about the nature and geography
    You are building amazing memories for your kids and grandkids that they will treasure their entire lives
    Have a campfire every night. It’s a great family bonding time
    Kids naturally will gravitate to outdoor activities over screen time in front of a TV or computer
    Recognize that things will go wrong but “we will get through this.” Learning that when things go wrong, we will solve the problem and then we’ll have great stories to tell makes for a well-adjusted kid.
    Each night at an RV park, a neighborhood springs up and kids need all of about five minutes to make friends with a pack of kids.

    Besides the interview with the Puglisis, we take questions and comments from listeners about:
    Recommended RV-related audiobooks
    The Roadtreking Song of the Week submitted by the band Swift Creek
    Talk about getting all of that salt - regardless of source - off of your RV

    Plus we have tech tips, a bucket list destination of the week and a whole lot more.
    First Things First: Prayers for Living the RV Dream's Kathy Huggins
    We kick off the show with a special call to action - pray for Kathy Huggins from Living the RV Dream. Kathy and John Huggins were on the show last week.
    Kathy began complaining about severe abdominal pain Friday night, and she was transported to Thomas Hospital in Fairhope, Ala. Doctors there discovered a hernia which impeded blood flow to her upper intestines. Surgeons removed 95 percent of her small intestines.
    John Huggins told our friend Greg Gerber of RV Daily Report that Kathy is in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Thomas Hospital, and on ventilator support. When she is awake, she can recognize those around her and squeeze their hands, which he said is encouraging. Although she is expected to recover, the road ahead will require major adjustment on her part, John explained.
    “I don’t think either Kathy or I realized just how many lives we have touched,” said John. “The outpouring of support has been humbling and highly encouraging. We really, really appreciate everyone’s prayers and concern.”
    Check-in of the Week: Roadtreking Fan Jose from Spain
    A listener named Jose calls from Spain to check-in and let us that our fans definitely are not limited to the United States and Canada. Any other international fans out there? Record a quick message by clicking the tab on the right. We would love to hear from you!
    Roadtreking Song of the Week: "Wake Me Up to Drive" by Swift Creek
    Listener and Musician Kevin Brown, of Raleigh, N.C., leaves us a message in response to our recent and ongoing discussion over best songs to listen to while RVing. You can hear it on the podcast.
    He sent us a solo acoustic version of the song "Wake Me Up To Drive," which is performed by Kevin and the rest of his band, Swift Creek, in live shows. More information about Swift Creek can be found at http://www.swiftcreekmusic.com
    Question: How to Remove Salt from My RV?
    David asks about keeping salt off rigs when camping on oceanfront - or driving in the northern parts of the country where salt seems to be extremely common these days. We have some suggestions. Listener Comment: I Love the Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL!
    Listener Wendy calls in to show some love for our new Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL and asks how - and if - we are doing any kind of modifications to our new ride. Jennifer and I give an update.
    Book Recommendations: Great RV Books
    We've been talking a lot about audibooks lately. A listener calls in to suggest the following books for RVers:
    Living the Simple RV Life - by Sunny Skye about her adventures as a campground host
    Blue Highways - By William Least Heat-Moon about a journey into America along the blue two lane highways
    A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt is about a 2,100-mile walk along the Appalchian Trail

    We also have news on how you can get a FREE audiobook download and 30-day free trial at www.audibletrial.com/roadtreking. Audible offers over 150,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player. For listeners of the Roadtreking podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service. To download your free audiobook today, go to audibletrial.com/roadtreking.
    RV News of the Week: Trucker Rescues Girl in RV
    Trucker rescues girl in RV from sex slavery (Read more)
    Park Model Camping in Arizona –Roadtreking Reporter JG Van’s tells us about park model RV resort living (Read more)
    RV Tech Tip of the Week: How to Get to Inbox Zero
    E-mail is the bane of our existence. We all get too much and it is too easy to get too bogged down in it. That’s where we can help. Let me show you a couple of helpful ways to cut through the clutter and make your inbox an efficient thing of beauty.
    A service called Sanebox does some pretty amazing things with your email. It filters it and arranges it in folders making it easy to unsubscribe to unwanted mail and even easier to organize, defer and categorize your mail based on how important it is. It works on all platforms and devices and gives you a free two week trial. After that, it’s $59 a year.
    If too many subscription emails and updates and group mailings are clogging your inbox, try Unroll, a really handy tool for any email account that lets you unsubscribe from all of that group mail with a single click. Or you can combine all your favorite subscriptions into one single email sent weekly or monthly. I was amazed at how many junk mailing I got and Unroll helped me zap dozens of them. It’s free, but they make you share on social media after five unsubscribes.
    You can learn about other cool ways to use mobile tech at http://roadtreking.com/vzw
    RV Bucket Destination List: Lake Superior Shoreline
    I talk about one of my favorite destinations - the Lake Superior Shoreline (Read more)
    Interview: Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi from RV Travel Family Atlas. Our conversation with Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi, who publish the RV Travel Family Atlas blog and podcast that deals with traveling with children.
    And, of course, many listeners are asking how they can subscribe, review and rate the Roadtreking Podcast on iTunes. With a new podcast like this, those reviews and ratings are really important to be able to show well in the iTunes listings. So if you can, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave me your review.
    Here’s how:

    First, open the iTunes app on your computer or mobile device. Click on Podcasts up on the top
    > From the iTunes Podcasts page, use the “Search Store” field up at the top right corner of the page. Type in Mike Wendland or Roadtreking RV Podcast.
    > Click on the logo image of the Roadtreking RV Podcast on the search return page
    > From there (see photo above), you can…
    1) Subscribe
    2) Choose and Click on a star (1-5) that reflects your rating. Five stars means you really like it, one star not so much.
    3) Leave a written review.
    Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. That got us noticed by Apple/iTunes as “New and Noteworthy.” I appreciate every review!
    And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments about RV topics by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at Roadtreking.com. You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your words.
  8. Roadtrekingmike
    Dolly Towing With Our Roadtrek
    We had no problems driving our 2015 Roadtrek CS Adventurous E-Trek while towing our Prius 1,900 miles to Arizona. End of story, right? Well, not exactly. Getting to that decision...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  9. Roadtrekingmike
    The Making of a Roadtrek: The Movie
    If  any of you have been to the Roadtrek factory in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada for a tour, you would have an idea of what it takes to build a Roadtrek,...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  10. Roadtrekingmike
    Another reason to RV: It saves money
    I knew RVing made a lot of sense for us as we travel about North America. It gives us freedom, mobility and we get to bring most of the comforts...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  11. Roadtrekingmike
    006 RV Podcast: The Migration of the Snowbirds
    It’s underway – the annual migration of the Snowbirds , with an estimated 2-5 million RVers  heading to the South and Southwest. That’s the featured topic in Episode 006 of...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  12. Roadtrekingmike
    Travels with the eTrek: A photo montage
    Like a lot of RVers, I’ve been reviewing memories and photographs over the past couple of years. That’s what we do during the down time: Go back and look at...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  13. Roadtrekingmike
    Protecting your digital assets
    In this information age, gathering up and securing the most important information – the critical passwords, user names, insurance, savings and important documents we have – is a vital task...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  14. Roadtrekingmike
    My RV as a Sag Wagon
    After my massage on Tuesday I drove out of San Diego in my cute little Roadtrek, due east towards Yuma, Arizona. It was a beautiful afternoon drive through the mountains...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  15. Roadtrekingmike
    Climbing Pikes Peak in an RV
    I’m often asked about the favorite things we’ve done in our Roadtrek eTrek. At the top of my list is mountain climbing. We used it to drive to the top of Pikes Peak, some...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  16. Roadtrekingmike
    Why we boondock
    It sounds like it’s raining. But it’s not. It’s the sound of acorns dropping from the oak trees all around us as we boondock in the middle of the woods...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  17. Roadtrekingmike
    RV Minnesota Side Excursions
    The Minnesota wind was howling as we drove along I-90. After more than three hours of white-knuckle driving it was time to find a place to hunker down to wait...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  18. Roadtrekingmike
    RV Restorations
    One of the really, really awesome things about going to trade shows is finding the small, out of the way corner where the restoration people live. Some of these are...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

  19. Roadtrekingmike
    Halloween RV Campouts
    The month of October has surprisingly become huge for RV campgrounds, resorts and parks around the U.S. thanks to Halloween. Maybe because for many in the northern states, its a...
    Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome

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