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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Followers

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I only had 2 or 3 followers the last time I looked now I have 7 ?! COOL!




A quick hello to my followers. Jason, Marianne, Garret & Jim, the Good Luck Duck, Sassie & Bennie and Kyra.



December 5th !

Your Ad Here It looks like Tigger & I will be firing up the Winnebago and heading West on December 5th. That's that plan anyway.

I expect to make it a "working vacation"... buying and selling my way across America. No matter where you are, there is almost always something you can buy cheaply, clean up, tinker on & repair if needed and quickly resell for a profit.

I just got a new laptop and have an unlimited data plan with AT&T. I should be all set with internet access on the road. I picked up a new shipping scale and have plenty of packing materials for whatever I might need to ship. I will "dumpster dive" for reusable boxes like I always have. You'd be surprised how many perfectly good boxes you can find in dumpsters behind any strip mall. By dumpster diving, I'm recycling and saving a few bucks in the process. You'd NEVER catch Herman going anywhere near a dumpster. But me, I don't mind diving right in.




Here are my two latest "flips". I picked these up at an aution in Loudon NH. I spent about 7 hours driving to get them back home to NY.

Wowie Zowie gumball machine  <---Heres a little movie I made to help sell it. I found a program on my computer called "Windows live movie maker" and decided to try it. This is my 1st attempt at making a "movie" with this program. It's a little crude.

Fun for kids of all ages!

2003 Honda CR85R


Number 420? LOL!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday, a Westfalia & 2011 nearly over

Your Ad Here A few years ago, I joined Herman in standing in line at Staples for 6 hours in the freezing cold until they finally opened in the wee hours on the morning. We were about 30th in line which equates to being too far from the front of the line for any of the really good door buster coupons to filter back to us. The store employees have X amount of each door buster to sell. They have an equal amount of coupons for those items. They start at the front of the line asking each person if they want the LCD TV, the laptop computer, the Xbox or whatever they're selling that year. Usually the first people in line scarf up all the good coupons and only the lame item coupons filter back to the 20-40th people in line. It really does pay to be one of the 1st 10 people in line. You might as well stay home otherwise.

We did get a coupon for a nice magellan GPS for $99. That was Moms Christmas present that year! See what I do for you ma... stand in the cold, in line for 6 hours just to get your present. LOL!

I will say that doing black Friday for "real" (like the crazies we see on the news) was kind of interesting and adventurous but overall, the whole standing in line for hours in the cold "thing" isn't for me.

I am really glad to see more and more retailers pandering to those of us who'd rather sit in our warm homes and buy online. Herman awoke at 3AM (midnight PST) last night and scored a sweet deal on a laptop from microsoft.com. It's an Pentium i5 processor, 500gb hardrive, 4mb ram, camera ect etc etc. for $499. I was snoring away, snug as a bug in a rug. That was the extent ouf our black friday buying spree.

Wait... we did stop by PetsMart and get Tigger some treats and a squeaky Kong toy. He went berserk playing with it for hours. He has some super bite force!


The "Kong" brand toys are the only dog toys that will hold up to Tiggers "play".

We venured out to Panera for lunch (the turkey bravo on tomatoe basil bread is killer!) and then went to look at a potential "flip"... an '85 VW Westfalia. The VW turned out to be fairly nice and rust free on the outside but pretty worn on the interior. It was the less valuable "weekender" (no stove, fridge or LP), not the full camper. It did have a couple fairly rare options... an automatic transmission and A/C. But still, there was definitely no meat left on the bone after the sellers asking price of $5000. Notice the very uncool Dodge pick up truck wheel covers someone stuck on the Westy?! Who could do that to a westy?!

Not bad for being 27 years old
 And, if you must know... we got delivery Chinese for dinner.

We eat out waaaaay to often! If I kept track of how much money we spent every month on eating out take out or delivery food... it would probably amaze us. We could be riding around in a new 45 foot diesel pusher RV if we ate ramen noodles and peanut butter snadwiches!

That'll be a blog topic for another day I guess.

G'night all!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Apple "i" everything

Your Ad Here I'm not on the road yet. I expect to be rolling in early December. I figure that since I started this TRAVEL blog and have a few viewers, I should post something even though I'm not travelling yet.

My topic today is about all the intertwined Apple products and how genius Apple is to make all their products work so well with all their other products.  Sadly, they made each "new" product all but extinct after just a short amount of time. If you don't have the latest, greatest "i"-thing, you are made to feel as if you're being left in the technological dust.

Apples marketing process is incredible. They have consumers eating out of their hands like little chicks. They've also convinced people that their products are so great and revolutionary that you should be waiting in line for hours in front of the store to get the newest Apple greatness.

I have owned an iphone 3g for 2+ years. With AT&T service, it's been a decent phone... nothing great but certainly adequate. I recently decided to upgrade my phone and started comparing new smartphones. I found the samsung infuse 4G refurb for $29 (with at&t 2 year contract) and was impressed with all its features. 4G, wifi hotspot, USB wifi, 8mp camera with LED flash, 1.3mp front facing camera (for video chat), 720p video, huge 4.3" screen and on and on. It's light years ahead of my iphone 3G.

I admit that I was a little nervous ditching the iphone because it was set up perfectly to my needs and has always been reliable. However, after just 2 days of minor frustrations and needing to watch a few youtube how-to videos on rooting, transferring contacts, etc... I now have my Samgsung Infuse set up perfectly and working great. It's offering me so much more than my iphone could. It was worth the effort.

I mentioned on another travel blog about ditching my iphone for this Samsung infuse. One of the responses was from someone who said they were sticking with their iphone because it worked so well with their ipad, ipod, Mac computer and their Apple TV.

That's a big bite out of the Apple! But then, that's what Apple is counting on. Consumers being so comfortably (and tightly) wrapped up in Apple products that the thought of switching brands makes them break out in a cold sweat.

I love the show South Park. They recently did an episode on how deeply Apple has entrenched itself into our lives. If you're offended by crude language, don't watch this. If you like a good laugh and don't mind many "F-bombs", check out the episode by clicking this link ---> SOUTH PARK

What do you guys think?

Is Apple evil






Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our First RV

Your Ad Here My 1st RV was actually a 1973 VW Westfalia back when I was a teenager in Maine. I had a lot of fun in that rig. I sold it in the mid 1980's to a guy named Sven Nordstrom (I still remember this strangers name?!) I had to chase him for months for the agreed upon payments (that's probably why I remember him). A selling lesson I learned early in life... good intentions and promises don't pay the bills.


Mine was identical to this one. Same color even.

I forgot about RVing for the next 25 years. Time sure does fly.

In the spring of 2010 I was checking Craigslist ads for bargains (like I do everyday) and spotted a listing for a 1996 Rialta camper with 30k miles for $9000. I didn't even know what a Rialta was. Some quick googling told me it was a cool little RV with a cult like following and a value much higher than the $9000 asking price.

It turned out that the seller was a lawyer settling an estate so he wanted to dispose of the RV ASAP. He told me that he had people calling from all over the country wanting to buy the Rialta. Luckily, I was the only local caller & we happened to have the cash on hand. The planets aligned. He agreed to let us see it before he made any other sale plans. I made an appointment to check it out the next weekend.

This is what it looked like when we arrived. You're probably thinking... "that looks pretty good". It's hard to photograph the years of built up grime on this RV or the smell of the inside. The poor RV had sat outside and unused for years. It was filthy outside and damp inside. The mice and squirrels were using it as their home.




There was a big surprise awaiting us. The Lawyer had mistakenly advertised the 14 year old RV as having 30k miles but upon closer inspection, it actually had just 20,085 miles!

Crazy low mileage!


We made the deal to purchase the Rialta for $9600. The price went up $600 because of all the people interested. It was still a bargain so we didn't mind paying a little more.

I started cleaning it.
The comfy cab

Here's a clean spot I made on the front bumper.

If you've owned a boat or RV you know about the dreaded "black streaks". The exterior of this Rilata was one gigantic black streak! This picture shows the difference between the polished side and the untouched side.

A clean spot on the roof.


It took about 2 weeks of elbow grease to get the interior and exterior looking and smelling like new again. It was worth all the effort. I introduced Herman to RVing that summer. We spent more time together and had more fun than we had in years. It was great! If your relationship is lacking "spice", getting stale or you're slowly growing apart after many years... buy an RV! It will bring you closer together and you'll have a blast!

The rialta is so small and easy to drive that we used it for running errands too. It's so nice to have a fridge, a kitchen, a bathroom and a bed with you at all times. I can't begin to describe how handy that is. RV'ers know the convience I speak of.

Here it is all cleaned up and ready for use.


A cool little RV that drove very much like a small car or minivan.
 It was 21.5 feet long and had a 5 cylinder VW gas engine.
Plugged into shore power charging the 2 coach batteries.

Both front seats swiveled rearward. The 2 center seats fold flat and turn into a large, fairly comfortable bed. It is a very well designed little RV.
 
The inside of our 1996 Rialta


Small sink and 2 burner stove

It turned out to be a bit too small inside for us. I am 5' 11" tall and found myself bumping my head every time I moved inside. It was a good, reasonably priced first RV though. We sold it last fall to a nice retired couple from NY. They drove it to Alaska and back.

We liked RVing so much that we purched our Winnebago View this spring. It's a lot taller and a bit wider inside. Plus, it's 3 feet longer. We like it a lot but I can see us in a bigger class A at some point in the future. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PINBALL!

Your Ad Here In the early and mid 1980's, I spent much of my free time and money playing video & pinball games with friends in the Arcade at the Mall in Windham Maine. My favorite video game was Star Castle . I pumped $100's of dollars in quarters into that game over the few years the arcade was open. I got pretty good at the game but never beat it. The more times you blow up the mother ship in the center, the faster those little defenders come after you. It gets insanely hard in no time at all! Click the link above to see the game being played in a youtube video.

Collecting and tinkering on pinball games has been a big hobby of ours. Herman likes to play them and like I working on and playing them. We had 5 working pinball ball games (Embryon, Mousin' Around, The Lost World Jurassic parkBally El Toro, Eight Ball Deluxe Limited edition) in our livingroom at our last apartment. We ended up selling them in 2005 after buying our own small home.

I recently found out that those days I spent in the arcade can be relived at a strip mall in Pelham NH! Yup, an arcade enthusiast has opened one of the best arcades I have EVER been in. It's called the Pinball Wizard Arcade . It's owned an operated by a woman named Sarah. She does all the maintaining and repairs on all the games in the arcade. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to video and pinball games.

Herman playing one of the all time best pinball games... Medieval Madness.
One weekend this summer, Herman and I drove from Albany NY area to Pelham NH just to visit this arcade. We had read a lot of great reviews on the internet and it sounded like a worthwhile destination.

The arcade has over 90 pinball games (and at least as many video games!) and all are in nearly perfect working order. We spent 9 hours and $60 playing nothing but pinball at The Pinball Wizard and we still didn't even play every pinball game they had! Show me another arcade that has Embryon, space invaders, mousin around, medieval madness and whodunnit ready to play! I loved that the owner is there the entire day and will sometimes play pinball with her customers.

Sarah played Medieval Madness with Herman and I. I don't like to brag so I won't tell you who won! ;-)

Sarah and I
We will make the trek to this arcade again. If any of my readers want to spend some time reliving their youth in the best arcade in the North East (maybe even the country?!), the Pinball Wizard Arcade is worth the trip from pretty much anywhere.

Sarah thanks for doing what you do. Pinball and arcades will eventually become "hip" again and you will become rich! Everything old is new again.

We stayed overnight in a walmart somewhere nearby. There was a couple nice VW based campers there. A Rialta and a Vista. Both are nice RVs. It's always fun seeing other small RVs. We didn't talk with either occupants. I usually feel like I would be intruding if I were to knock on a strangers RV just to say hi. If they were outside, I'd have no problem saying hello.
We don't particularly like having someone knock on our door when we're all "closed up" and relaxing inside our RV. Do unto others ...right? 
VW based Vista & Rialta Winnebago RVs parked near us at a Walmart in NH
 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

That strange occupy movement. What do they want exactly??

Your Ad Here For the last week or so, a warm spell has been sticking around here in upstate NY. That's good news for the occupy Albany and other occupy protesters in the North East. At least they aren't freezing... yet.

After a couple months of all the confusing protesting, I still don't understand what their agenda is?! How can they expect to galvanize Americans if they don't present an agenda and solutions to the perceived problems?

It's not enough to say "stop corporate greed". They have to pinpoint exactly which corporations and which executives they think are greedy and then state WHY. After doing those simple things, Americans might agree with the protesters & back their movement.

I am pretty certain that greedy corporate executives aren't shaking in their boots or being any less greedy because of the bewildering protests.

Watching the TV news coverage, it appears to me that the protesters are mainly young, unemployed, hippy types (not that there's anything wrong with that) with nothing else to do than protest... yet, they don't even know what they're protesting about? Maybe they do know but just haven't told us yet?

If the occupy protesters want to be taken seriously they need to bathe, get haircuts, shave those ironic beards and most importanty... come up with an agenda and solutions to the issues.

Winter's coming & they don't have much time left!
WHAT THE HECK?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mister Tiggers

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Meet "Mister Tiggers"


We think he is about 8 - 9 years old now. About 7 years ago we rescued him from a woman, who rescued him from her friend, who bought him from a breeder for her kids. He was too energetic and clingy for them so he kept in a crate most of the time. That's the worst thing for an ACD. Some dogs do well in crates but ACDs do not. They need lots of attention and excersise.


We were told that he is a full blooded Australian Cattle Dog and is AKC registered. We were never able to get papers from either of the previous owners.


Tigger is the smartest, most clingy, most loyal dog I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. ACDs are sometimes called "velcro dogs" because of the way they are stuck to their owners. I cannot leave a room, rise from a chair, hop out of bed, open a door or even make direct eye contact with him... without him being immediately on his feet and by my side, looking up at me waiting for my next move. He literally sleeps with his eyes half open and his ears on full alert. The second I make a move, his eyes are open, in one smooth motion he's flipped up from a laying position to a standing position and he is r-e-a-d-y to go.


He's just an amazing dog.




He loves going for rides, any kind of treat, lots of attention, chasing anything with 4 legs and long walks to anywhere.


There is a story behind that pink dinosaur... Herman and I were visiting Maine, doing touristy things in the Old Port section of Portland Maine. We were walking Tigger and happened upon the "Fetch Dog" pet store. We went in and had a look around. They have many of the dog toys in baskets near the floor... the perfect height for a dog to see & to pick out a toy completely on their own.


Tigger walked around and looked at most of the toys. For whatever reason, he stuck his head into a basket full of pink dinosaurs and came out with one in his mouth. He LOVES toys that squeek (Herman & I, not so much) and wouldn't ya know it... this one squeeks.


He carried it around the store, squeeking it every 1/4 a second. Everyone got quite a kick out of that. Tigger didn't have any money so we had to buy it for him. He carried that pink dinosaur around the Old Port for the next hour.


If you ever needed a conversation starter, an Australian Cattle Dog carrying a squeeky, pink dinosaur will work just fine.

He lives quite the pampered life when RVing! 
Tigger is living the life!!!

Hermans New Toy

Your Ad Here Herman got his NY state motorcycle permit this summer. It allows him to operate any motorcycle or scooter on the street, provided that a licensed motorcyclist (that's me) is riding within eyesight of him.

We found him a 2008 Yamaha Vino with just under 800 miles for just $1200. It was an ebay purchase. If you were to buy a brand new one, expect to pay about $2900 + tax at your local dealer.

It's really quiet and smooth to ride. No shifting. Just twist the throttle and go. The rear brake is on the left handlebar and the front brake is on the right side of the handlebar. It tops out around 55 MPH and it reported to get 100+ MPG. We haven't checked the MPG yet but I did get it up to 55 MPH on a long flat road.

After some cleaning Hermans bargain scooter looks like this...
2008 Yamaha vino 125

Having very little experience on a bicycle and zero experience on a scooter, Herman is doing surprisingly well learning how to ride his new toy. We started off in a large parking lot near our home. As he felt more and more comfortable, we travelled father and father away from the empty lot. Eventually, making it on to the busy local streets.


He doesn't have to ride on back with me anymore!
This was taken in 2000


Hermans Vino fits well on the back of the RV. Instead of my Honda scooter, we took Hermans Vino to Maine last summer. It adds a little length to the RV but we were still able to legally park right on Commercial St. in Portland.
Commercial Street Portland Maine - summer 2011

A view from the "toad"

Your Ad Here No, not this type of toad...



This type of "towed"... (aka - toad).
This is NOT our View or toad. I found this picture on the internet.

Many RVers tow a vehicle behind their RV. This allows them to set up camp but still have a vehicle to get around in should they want to go explore or run errands. RVers call their towed vehicles "toads".

I have seen "toads" being hauled behind Winnebago Views (see above picture). I have to assume that the MPG and performance (accelerating & braking) of the RV would suffer significantly when towing a 2000+ lb vehicle. Driving an 11,000 lb. home on wheels is already expensive enough (we get roughly 13mpg)!

For that reason, I choose to carry a small Honda scooter on a scooter carrier in the Views rear 2" receiver hitch. The receiver hitch has a tongue weight limit of 300 lbs. Some View owners say the hitch will hold 500 lbs. I am not interested in pushing the hitch limits. I use a 1987 Honda Elite 150 (stripped to its bare bones weighs about 190 lbs) and a MOTOTOTE carrier (weighs 63 lbs).

This little scooter is easily loaded and unloaded on the carrier by just one person using the short wood ramp. The Elite 150 is a comfortable. fairly fast (65+mph downhill), super reliable and economical (75-80 mpg) mode of transportation. I bought it used about 3 years ago for $600. It only had 600 miles on it. It needed some work and cleaning so I got a great deal on it. Realistically, expect to pay $1000 - $1500 for a good running, low mileage example.

My Elite looked like this after I had finished tinkering on it and cleaning it.





Last summer, I got lazy and wasn't using the U-lock on the front wheel when parking it. I engaged the steering lock and left it parked on the street in front of our home. I never thought anyone would steal a scooter?! I noticed it was gone when I went to use it one day. In its place was a punched out ignition cover laying on the ground.



I guess it's pretty easy to take a screw driver and a hammer to any motorcycle or scooter ignition and smash it out. A thief can then use a screw driver instead of the ignition key to start and ride the bike as if it were his own.

After 8 months I had basically written the scooter off. I didn't think I'd ever see it again. Then one day I got a letter in the mail telling me the local police had recovered it. They caught the dirtbag riding it around town 1/4 mile from our house. The scooter was "evidence" in the case so it took a while before they would release it to me. When I went to the impound lot to pick it up I was amazed at how beat up the scooter was.

This is what it looked like when I got it home.


The thieve/s had ridden it roughly 300 miles (mostly offroad). 

Rather than try to bring it back to new condition, I started removing all the broken pieces...

I thnk I stripped about 30 - 40 lbs of parts off it. I ended up with this...



I cleaned it up...

...added some side bags and a trunk.


...mounted the turn signals to the dashboard plastic with zip ties



2400 miles. I ride this scooter almost every day. It's perfect for running errands around town. I'll even jump on the highway on occassion. It's not the best highway cruiser though!

Troy NY

It runs awesome (like it always did) and now it's faster and handles better, because it's lighter. I actually like riding it more now than before. Maybe I should thank the thief? I'd get more satisfaction out of knocking him into next week though. >:-)




"Stuff"

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Over the last few days I've been thinking what I could do to make the upcoming trip more comfortable in the RV. I've been doing my part to stimulate the weak economy by buying "stuff" I could probably do with out.

Some people find that getting rid of "stuff" makes them feel good. I'm generally on the other side of the fence. Acquiring useful "stuff" makes me happy. Below are some pictures of little things I've bought and installed in the RV.


This is the coach door on the Winnebago View. The 2 stairs under the door are electric and open (& close)  automatically when the door is opened or closed. There is a small round orange light under the stairs. It comes on when the door is opened and goes off when it's closed. Most View owners will agree that this little orange light is all but useless for lighting up the entryway.



I went on my favorite website (eBay!) and found some perfect length strips of blue LEDs. They're 60cm long, waterproof and have adhesive strips on the backs. They stick anywhere. I put a strip underneath the front lip of the house battery cover (top step) and I put a strip under the cutout where the stairs fold up into. The wiring was easy. I used 4 quick connects (2 for the + wires & 2 for the - wires). After roughly 20 minutes of tinkering... this is the result.




 I can't wait to see this in the dark. I think the LEDs will make access to and from the View a lot safer.


Brighter than I expected. Not too bright though.

This is a reflection of the LEDs on the shinytop stair tread. The LEDs are positioned on the grey body panel just above the step.   




I also bought a pair of seat covers at Walmart. The View seats are "ultra leather" and I don't want Tigger walking on the leather. The covers should keep the original seats in perfect condition even with the dog walking on them.

Passengers seat cover.

 This is a seat organizer. I thought it would utilize space for storage that is otherwise wasted.





This is a 150 watt "cup inverter". It was on sale at Kmart for $19.99. I couldn't resist! It fits perfectly in the Views cup holders in the dinette table and should easily power 1 or 2 laptops and charge the cell phones.