As I talk about publishing one of my older videos soon, I also ramble about how camera technology has improved in the past 10 years. It is not the 4K resolution, or the high dynamic range of the high end models. It is the optical and electronic image stabilization, nowadays present even in phones. I find it really noticeable while editing older videos. While the image quality is almost the same, camera shake is impossible to overlook.
Our first RV road trip
We began our first RV road trip ever by going north on 1-95. We stopped several times to make coffee and take a break. Tripped the circuit breaker when we tried to run the air conditioner and the microwave simultaneously off the generator. We even managed to parallel park the rig at Delray Beach.
The idea was to spend the night in Saint Augustine but among the lessons learned during this trip was the fact that the ETA on the GPS does not necessarily apply to RVs.
Eventually we made it to Savannah in the middle of the night. The next morning we took a lunch river cruise, and wandered around the streets of the Historic District ending up at famous and historic Forsyth Park.
We continue through South Carolina, we stop briefly for dinner at Charlotte, North Carolina. Then, we continue under a torrential thunderstorm and end up boondocking at e Walmart in Whytheville, Virginia
On the next day we traversed some of the narrowest back roads of West Virginia due to a navigational error on my part.
On on the return trip we spent the first night at Winton Woods in the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Then we explored the Smoky Mountains National Park.
In this episode we chat with full time RVing family Engjell and Kaleigh Vrapy. They are travling the USA with three children and have plans to continue towards Europe and Asia. The currently travel the USA on a class A motorhome but plan to downsize to a camper van for their European adventure.
In this week’s edition of the podcast, we talk about one of the most epic trip one can take in the United States: California Highway 1, The Pacific Coast Highway
Low Season at the Florida Keys
In the fist segment of the episode I ramble about our recent trips to the Florida Keys, and how, for the first time, we have noticed the noticeable differences between the high and low seasons. This time of the year everything is either under construction or sad in comparison to the high season.
The main subject of the episode is the trip we took in 2012 on the Pacific Coast Highway, from Los Angeles to San Francisco on a large classic American vehicle.
First we talk about Los Angeles and its points of interest.
• Hollywood Sign
• Hollywood Boulevard and Walk of Fame
• Griffith Observatory
• Beverly Hills
• Music Center
• Olvera Street
• Venice Beach
• Santa Monica Beach
The Pacific Coast Highway
Main points of interest along the way
• Rincon Parkway Campground
• Santa Barbara
• Solvang and Santa Ynez Valley
• Moro Bay
• Hearst Castle
• Elephant seal beach at Piedras Blancas
• Big Sur
• Julia Pfiffer Burns State Park
• Half Moon Bay
The following are some photos of this epic trip
Traveling is one of the best things that you can do for your health. It helps your physical and mental health, with many travelers saying that it’s also excellent for the soul.
Sure, there are some stressful and worrying moments. But overall, when you get out on the road and visit new countries you gain in far more ways. This isn’t about just international travel, either. Traveling your own country and being a tourist in your own town can be so beneficially at the same time.
There are no limits when it comes to traveling, except for what you can afford. You can sight-see around some of your most dreamed about countries or choose exotic adventures. Go by rails, car, or even by boat. There are just so many options, and they will all help you in ways that you have never imagined.
It’s time to save up and plan your next vacation. Get out the itinerary and start enjoying your life in ways so many travelers do. Here are eight reasons traveling is so good for the health, both mentally and physically. Read More
In this week’s episode of the podcast we pick of where we left off, halfway up the James Dalton Highway in Alaska. Also your feedback, more decluttering, and plans to go back to the Keys.
The Dalton Highway
Las week we talk about America’s northernmost and most isolated highway, but we ran out of time halfway. I told you how we left from Fairbanks on the Elliot Highway. Joined the gravel road at the Livengood Junction and then continued to our first pit stop at the mighty Yukon River. From here we passed by most hilly terrain, finger mountain, the Arctic Circle, Graylin Lake, and our second pit stop at the world’s northernmost truck stop at Coldfoot, Alaska.
North of Coldfoot
North of here is the most isolated and treacherous segment of the road. There will be no services for the next 240 miles.
I wouldn’t recommend going the whole 240 miles with a big rig as some parts are pretty rough and treacherous, but we can still manage to go a little further. Just north of here there’s Marion Creek campground where you can leave you rig and continue with your tow vehicle. A few miles further north we have an arctic village called Wiseman, dating back to the gold rush. Just a handful of people live here permanently but there are two places to stay. One of them is e Boreal Lodge, and the other is the Arctic Getaway Cabin and Breakfast, where we stayed on the way back. These are much better accommodations than those found back in Coldfoot.
The Brooks Range
North of here we’ll start seeing the most striking landscapes this road has to offer. Be sure to spot Sukukpak mountain, made up of marble.
Also be sure to stop by one of the many creeks and dip your feet in the chilly water.
And this is about as north as I would go if you don’t think your vehicle is up to the task. Here we begin climbing the Brooks Range.
There is one place to pull out and take a break by the Chandalar Shelf. Then it is a non stop climb to the continental divide, located at the Attigun Pass, the highest point in the whole road. At the top you may encounter a herd of dall sheep. You may also encounter snow even in the summer.
The North Slope and the Northern Plains
From here we start descending rapidly onto the North Slope. If you’ve made it all the way up here, Galbraith Lake may be a good place to camp.
North of here is the worst part of the trip as far a road conditions go, at least at the time of our trip. The road is gravel which feel like you are going over large boulders. This area is marginally attractive with rolling hills and no trees. It is true tundra climate. The last 60 miles is the flat northern plains.
Deadhorse, often described as the anticlimactic dystopia at end of our trip, is basically a company town whose sole purpose is support for the oil companies operations. The only was to reach the Arctic circle is by taking a tour, and I strongly suggest it if you’ve made it all the way up here.
My entire trip has been documented on video at the following YouTube playlist.
In this episode we travel to America’s northernmost and most isolated road: the James Dalton Highway in northern Alaska.
I come to you from the comfort of my car, parked at my workplace parking lot. I try to take advantage of my downtime to record the podcast, as when I get home in the evening I am tired and life sometimes gets in the way.
The James Dalton Highway in Alaska
The main theme of this episode is a road trip we made on America’s northernmost road. Although it is not ideal for a big rig, I know of people who have done part of it towing a large 5th wheel. We also saw our share of class C, trailers, and camper vans.
I am not going to go into every detail of the trip on this post. Also I didn’t have time to cover the whole road trip in this episode. I will have a part two for sure. Here we are only going to cover Fairbanks and the trip from there to the halfway point: Coldfoot. In part two we are going to go fro Coldfoot all the way to the Arctic Ocean, so stay tuned for that.
Next, I am going to post some very useful links that I used to plan this trip, and some pictures of our epic journey in Alaska.
In this episode we speak about RV inspections, RV upgrades, we interview YouTube creators and full time RVers Paul and Lorena, John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, and talk fire safety.
Point of View RV Resort
There are two RV resorts closing down in the Florida Keys, one of them is Point of View RV Resort, where we stayed last week and from where we recorded a segment of the podcast. The other one in Knights Key in Marathon. Point of View had a bit of a party scene but it was fairly new and all the facilities were very nice.
Fred asks about campgrounds in the Homestead area suitable for a big rig with a toad. I recommended Miami Everglades RV Resort which is an Encore / Thousand Trails property and is conveniently located halfway between Miami and Florida City.
Frank and Shelly ask about digital video. I use two main cameras besides my phone. The main camera is a Sony FDR AX33 and my secondary action camera is a Sony FDR X3000. I edit my videos with Final Cut Pro X, but I also recommend iMovie for beginners and Adobe Premier if you are on Windows.
We talk about John Pennekamp State Park, which is a future destination for us. It is a very popular place for snorkeling and kayaking. They also have a glass bottom boat tour that goes out to the coral reef.
RV Fire Safety
I found an article on RV Share that talks about fire safety tips
In this episode I go through our thought process to choose our rig, our purchasing experience, and our maiden voyage. Let the fun begin.
My wife and I have a Winnebago Micro Minnie 1706 FB. At the time that we bought it, it was the shortest and lightest towable that Winnebago made.
These units turned out to be so popular that Winnebago vastly expanded their towable lineup. And you would have thought that lot of research went into buying this thing. You would think that I checked every single system in the unit, like John Huggins or someone with a little more sense would have done. Not me! I only had two major concerns: that it would fit in the driveway next to the house, and that it was light enough so that I could tow it with my existing SUV. I did check the brochure to make sure it had adequate holding tanks. It came with this innovative technology called a tankless on demand water heater by Atwood; the latest trend. In theory I could have endless hot showers, they didn’t say how hot but it looked great on paper.
Before this we had little experience RVing in fact. We started thinking about it more or less 10 years before we actually decided to bite the bullet and get our rig. Back in 2008 or 2009, we went to the Palm Beach RV show, just to look around. We were clueless about RVing. In 2010 we went to Alaska because I wanted to drive on the Dalton Highway, which is Americas northernmost road. While most of the road is unpaved and probably not suitable for most RVs, we did see our share of class C’s and trailers. We thought it would be cool to do this with an RV, have our own bathroom and not have to use the outhouses. After that we did a couple of trips renting class C’s and for the most part we loved the experience, especially a trip we did in the Four Corners region.
During that trip we really got the RVing bug. We had gone to the Tampa RV show, and we were sure that what we wanted was a gas engine class A, something under 30 feet because we wanted to camp at some state and national parks, and that seemed to be the length limit. We were fixated on a Winnebago Itasca model, the 27N. Had there been a diesel pusher under 30 feet, that would have been our first choice. Winnebago does make something they call a class A diesel under 30 feet, based on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis, but it is really a B+ disguised as a class A.
This was 2014, and on that summer my dad got sick and passed away. And when that happens in someone’s life sometime it is a wake up call. I started thinking: what if I die and I never get to travel in my own RV and live the RV Dream? This was around the same time that I saw the brochure for the Micro Minnie. At 7′ wide and 19′ long, it fit in my driveway like a glove, and although it was on the heavy side, I still could tow it with my Kia Sorento if I traveled light, so we said, let’s go see this rig. I want to see it in person. So we went to la Mesa in Ft. Myers “just to see it” and as soon as we stepped inside it just felt right. It felt like we belonged in there, which is a very subjective and emotional way to choose an RV. I would not recommend this if you are spending 100K or more. But it was $21,000 marked down to $16,600, so after a short deliberation I had one of those YOLO (you only live once) moments, signed on the dotted line, and the rest is history.
They were very quick to let me sign the papers, but when we arrived on the following Friday to take delivery, they looked at my SUV, and I could see the expression in their faces. Are you seriously expecting to pull this trailer with that car? Old Kia doesn’t look like much but, tongue weight 500lbs, check. 3500lbs tow capacity check, barely. That’s where I was pushing it because the Micro Minnie is just under 3000 dry, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I figured I would have to tow with my tanks empty and take it slow.
Then they started adding line items to my bill. It turned out I needed a new hitch, and a weight distribution system, and anti-sway bar, and a break controller. I had obviously not done nearly enough research on trailers. Up to that moment I had done mostly research on class A’s. It had never crossed my mind I would end up getting a trailer until that series of events in the summer of 2014 accelerated the process. I said, let’s make it as safe as possible, and while we’re at it let’s add and extended warranty and gap insurance. Then during the walk through when I had to hook it up to the car with the manual jack, I started breaking a sweat just going up and down, so I said, in for a dime, in for a dollar, how much does that electric jack cost? To make a long story short the final bill came up to around $20,000.
We didn’t care! We were so excited. We were going on our maiden voyage, with our yet to be named brand new RV.
The RV had come with a complimentary one year membership to Thousand Trails but we decided to save the thousand trails for some other time and rough it out at a nearby state park called Koreshan Historic Site, right on the Estero River. By the way Thousand Trails is probably a great deal if you are fulltiming but if you are vacationer/weekender like us in south Florida it was not worth it. There was nothing within reasonable distance so it was very unlikely we would use the 60 nights included in the package. There were some Encore properties we could go to, and in fact we did go to some of them later on, one of them the infamous Fiesta Key, and we would get a discount.
Going back to out maiden voyage, it was so exciting. We were now part of the club, and total newbies. One thing is to know the theory and another one the practice. I won’t go into how many tries it took to back up the trailer into our back in site. Eventually I parked the thing, not exactly straight and not exactly where I wanted it, but we managed. Luckily it wasn’t too busy in early September. Then, how do we detach the trailer from the car? Luckily I had filmed the guy who gave us the walk through so we watched the video, step by step and got everything figured out. There was a nature trail, and at that very moment I discovered a Florida I had never seen. I had lived in Miami all of my adult life, in the same state, but I had no idea this existed. RVing had changed our lives.
The historic site here consists of some buildings that used to belong to a sect founded by one Cyrus Reed Teed. They founded this place in 1894 as New Jerusalem. Teed died in 1908, and by 1961 it had become a ghost town, so the land reverted back to the state. Nowadays you can tour the structures, and the state park is very picturesque. There’s exotic vegetation from all over the world, and you can kayak on the river.
While we were in the area we also explored other campgrounds for a future visit. I had heard from a good friend of mine, a fellow musician and RVer, about this RV Park right on the beach called Red Coconut. It is located on Estero Island, at Ft. Myers Beach, so we went there an reserved a campsite for a future trip. WE reserved site 18, which is not officially waterfront, but since it is the first site, on the northern side of the park, and the beach access is right next to it, you get unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, since I am actually going to talk about fort Myers, and fort Myers Beach in more detail in a future episode.
By the way when we returned home I managed to back the trailer into my driveway on the first try. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this.