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Subject: 200 DAYS ON THE ROAD
With the three trips now we have been on the road about 200 days since retiring a little over 400 days ago so we have been about half timers which is about what we planned and seem to fit us pretty well! We have PEI and Ontario to go otherwise we have been in all the Provinces in Canada. We have 19 states we have not been in counting Hawaii. By the time we get home that will drop to 14. Everybody is different and likes different things and approach retirement in many different ways which is good. I will reflect on a few things from our perspective which may be totally different than yours which is "A" OK!
Some things that have worked well for us are the ability to send and receive E-mail on a daily basis. The second is our battery bank so we can use all the electricity we want and park any place we want. We can run the furnace and fans as much as we want; although we have been where it is cool a lot and have gotten used to it so we don't run the furnace much at all. We do have the 110 VAC generator for back up but rarely use it. The batteries are silent so we don't disturb people and we can use them all night long, no quiet hours. We do have a couple of inverters for charging "AA" and other small batteries, shaving, etc.
Our biggest limiting factor is Black Water capacity and second is fresh water but if we get in a pinch we can pour fresh water in with a 5 gallon container we have which has a spigot that will fit the inlet to the 5th fresh water tank. If the black water tank gets full and we can not get dumped for a while one can use public restrooms and get by. We really only had a problem once and that was going through New England and New Brunswick on this trip. Even in Mexico we did not have a problem. Fortunately we have the grey water and galley tanks so we can still shower, etc. but may need to add fresh water as I mentioned. Really as I said the only place dumping has been a problem during the 200 days has been on this trip in New England and New Brunswick. In Nova Scotia and Newfoundland it is no problem.
The next thing is the use of the credit card that is paid for automatically out of our checking account each month along with Internet Banking to check our financial records. It really cuts down on the cash needed. Travelers Checks work well to convert to the local currency at banks. We learned our lesson in Mexico and now carry a debt card so we can get cash out of our checking account if needed at an ATM. It will cost some money for fees but is essential when unexpected things happen and a credit card will not work but rather you need cash. It sure would of been nice to have had it along in Mexico this past winter.
The GPS Street Pilot in the pickup and the Computer mapping along with state or provincial maps and the tourist guide for each province or state really helps us chose our route, supplemented with stops at information places and most of all fellow RVers! I use the direction indicator on the GPS constantly to keep straight as the roads most places wind all over and it is cloudy and rainy a lot so not much to go on other than that to keep your directions straight. The GPS has got us straighten out many times!
It is very comforting to carry an extra 10 gallons of diesel but we have found diesel is very readily available. We only tapped into the 10 gallons one time!
If one puts on around 200 to 300 miles a day that is enough. More than that gets to be tough pretty quickly. It works nice to set up in a campground or place you like with the 5th and do day trips with the F-350 in various directions. A lot easier to get around and the MPG basically doubles. We now have a tent we can use if we want to don't want to come back to the 5th at night. One of the things you notice when pulling the 5th is you see a great photo opportunity but you can not stop and can not get back to it with the 5th without a major, major effort so you just don't get the picture. When we just have the pickup if we can't get stopped we just turn around and go back.
A big lesson when pulling the 5th if in doubt about a place to park the 5th or whether to pull into some place is to walk it out first. It can save a lot of problems. The second thing when is close quarters is to have Edith out watching and be in contact on the radio. There are plenty of blind spots!
We expected a lot of adventures and we have had them. We expected to see a lot of great scenery and we have. What I did not expect was the tremendous number of nice people we have met. Certainly we expected some but we meet many nice people EVERY DAY. Just last night( writing this July 17th) we were camped at a city park at Main Brook, Newfoundland and a couple of guys stopped to talk to us. They were fishing there, and were from Nova Scotia. They could not believe we were so far from home and did not know anybody in Newfoundland. They insisted we have some Atlantic Salmon they caught so they left, went to their trailer and in a little while were back with fresh Atlantic Salmon and half a loaf of homemade bread which we had tonight for our anniversary supper. I believe I like it better than the AK salmon as it is a little milder. In addition when they found out we were eventually going to be in the Halifax, NS area they gave us their addresses and telephone nunbers so we can call them and they said they would show us around. This is an example that is repeated time after time after time.
Drinking water is somewhat of a hassel so we do our best to get it from people we meet but sometimes we have to get from parks and they nearly all say to boil it. I am sure it is just to protect them but we boil it and then have to let it cool and bottle so it is some messing around. The other item that takes some time and messing around is laundry. Fortunately we can get by about 3 weeks between times so it is not to bad.
It is absolutely essential to have tools with you and some parts. One item I should add is a spare water pump. In some areas it would not be a problem to get another but some places we have been it would be impossible. We carry a spare trailer spring and extra tires, lots of blocks and two jacks.
We like state and provincial parks or Walmarts vs. commercial parks. Commercial parks are higher priced nd they are crowded and we have no need for 110 vac electrical hookups. Typically commerical camp grounds are very crowded where state and provincial parks you usually have lots of space between campers. Often you can not even see other campers although they may be fairly close but are hidden by trees. In commerical campgrounds other campers are 15 foot away on each side if not closer. Actually some of the most quiet, peaceful nights have been in Walmart or Sam's lots. We go to the edge of the lot where no one is parked, get along the curb and can run our slide out and not be in the way of anyone. We park near a light for security and Walmart and Sam's have video camera's and many places night watchman and they welcome campers. Where they don't allow you to park is because cities have forced them to, it is not their idea. We alway buy something at the stores we stay at and we always leave any site we stay at cleaner than when we came.
We change our oil on the road. We have found that any boat harbor will have a place to dump used oil. Also Pep Boys and some other auto parts places will take used oil. Sometimes we have had to carry it quite a ways to find a place that will take it. We have asked and found some garages that will take it.
The phone calling cards work great and we are seeing how it will go with a cellular phone. We are using a pre-paid one but of course it is very expensive to use in Mexico and Canada so we don't use it there but will us it in the USA. We will report more on that later. Right now it looks like it will cost us $15.00 a month and other than an emergency we won't use it where it is roaming. We found you need a adaptor to the 12vdc as it is roaming a lot and drains the battery rather quickly. This seems to work well as the telephone is not going to do much good for someone to call in an emergency if it is not on. Our main line of communciation is and will continue to be E-mail. We faithfully get our E-mail every day and when ever possible about every 12 hours. We have been able to do that from Prudhoe Bay, AK to Lake Chapala, Mexico to Newfoundland as well as when we were in Ghana, Africa and on St. Paul Island so our radio link to Internet E-mail has proven very reliable.
Time to go to bed so those are some reflections based on 200 days on the road. As I think of others I will mention them.
Ed and Edith
[MID: 1426_W0SD Sent Via: N8PGR Date: 2002/07/21 21:39:00]