Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Shakedown Cruise #1

Definitely not the Maiden Voyage....

This weekend we took the rig out for a Shakedown Cruise #1.  The shakedown was to test our packing and travel procedures and was a short 50 mile trip to Joe's Truck Stop (real name honest).

On Saturday we had our first "day off" in a long time - no commitments, no work required on any of the house - so we tore into the basement and did some work on the interior - the interior was mostly repacking and hanging Command hooks.

One piece of interior work worth mentioning was strapping the quartz toaster oven to the counter top.  We determined a while back a) we wanted the toaster oven (convection ovens don't toast) and b) It deserved a full time spot on the counter.

But when you have such a thing, you have to worry about the travel.  We try (less successfully than we need to be) to keep freestanding things off the counters.  Everything needs to have a place and be in it.  The toaster oven, being a freestanding item, presented a bit of a challenge.

We ended up getting Quakehold TV straps for it.  These are adjustable straps that are used to hold TVs and heavy appliances in place in yachts, and yes RVs.  Camping World sells them as well as the local hardware store.

The basement area has long been the "long pole" in our activities.  During the haste to move out, we just crammed stuff into the basement.  We finally got the chance to organize the basement.  I dubbed it Basement 1.0.  We managed to stow my collapsible ladder - a major concern of mine.  But we sorted, organized and stowed all the stuff and even had room left over - we think some stuff is going to move from the upstairs to the basement.

We then got up Sunday morning to decided to take her out for a spin.

We targeted Joe's Truck Stop in central California because Joe's is a large full service truck stop just after the 680 merge onto I-5.  It includes a scale and a truck wash. 

We had long been curious about where we were with the weight on our Motorhome and it was getting a bit gucky sitting in the bay area weather.  We could address both those issues at Joes.

With our coach empty, we are rated for 2780 lbs of passenger, cargo and water or 24000 lbs gross.  At Joes we came in at 1780 lbs of cargo (23000 gross) which gives us about 1000lbs to go.  I was fairly pleased - we had a 1/4 tank of water and about 1/2 a black tank on board.  I also think we are about 95% fitted out.  Next time we are going by a truck scale, I want to get weighed with a full tank of water and see where that puts us.  I think a very real scenario for us is a) full gas tank, b) full propane tank, c) full water and d) empty black and gray. 

We also learned the scale procedure:  Roll your rig up on the scale, front wheels on the front wheel section, press the button and roll off.  Then head into the office, give them some money and they will tell you your weight.  At Joe's it is $8.50.

We also shelled out $45.00 for the truck wash.  Pressure wash and wax.  After about 15 minutes and the rig was bright and shiny.  We know some folks out there won't let truck washes clean their RVs.  We don't think the pressure wash wand will do anything more than what driving  65 in a rainstorm will do.

A clean RV is a happy RV.  After all, it is important for a Citizen of the Road to maintain it's hygiene.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Connected Citizen

Over the years, my wife and I have been pretty well connected - electronically that is.  Our work in technology provided incentive for us to get and stay connected.  Indeed we are the reason they have fiber on our street of our old house - it was put in to support my wife's ISDN connection - first and only (we think) installation in our neighbourhood.  That was in addition to the multiple telephone lines (all but one are now disconnected)

This has also spoiled us.  We have a high speed WiFi network at home (known as fangnet)  via aDSL, satellite T.V., mobile data though our cell phones.

So as we transition to road life, we have become aware of what the internet industry refers to as the "The Last Mile Problem".

The Last Mile is not the short walk prisoners on Death Row take to their doom, but rather that final connection between the high speed internet port and the consumer.  We still have the cell phones and the satellite TV (if you haven't seen Dish's RV deal, you should), but the high speed internet is an issue.

We need it for work and pleasure.  We've got a mobile hot spot from T-Mobile that supplements the cell phones and sort of works, but if we should stream a Netflix, that burns most of allocated data for the month.  And the other problem with mobile hot spots is that they are only as good as the surrounding cell service.  If there is a weak signal or a lot of people trying to use cellular data, things get unacceptably slow in a hurry.

Dish Network offers satellite internet - it looks very good - but it is hideously expensive - particularly at the data quantities we want.

We have not resolved the issue.  Since we are currently based predominately in Castro Valley, we have a cable modem from Comcast when we are parked.  But when we are not there...it's a problem.

There seems to be movement to solve the problem wirelessly, Google and others seem to be trying. 

We will watch them with great interest since it is important for a Citizen of the Road to be connected.