Monday, February 25, 2013

People are interesting...

During our travels one of the things we most enjoy doing is people watching. Let's face it, the world is just FULL of people; so if you slow your roll and really take the time to enjoy the multitude of differences that make us all unique it can make your journey all the more memorable.
New Orleans
Travel should not only be about the destinations, but also about the inhabitants. Some people make your journey. The interaction can go a long way towards you actually understanding where it is you actually are. A conversation with a real live human being can lead a credence to your travels that a photo or blog entry never can.
North Carolina

Now sometimes it's just great to observe. People make some of the best photo-ops while visiting new locales. A great picture should tell a story and help to give the viewer a peek into someone else's life.
Venice, Italy

There is always someone doing something. Sometimes the most interesting subjects are those that occur in everyday life. What may be ordinary to the subject may be out of the ordinary to you, and that's what makes travel so intoxicating.
Rue Cler, Paris
The world is really a pretty small place and people are amazingly similar. What someone is yearning for in Quebec may be very close to the things someone in Chad covets. The actual objects of desire may be miles apart, but the overall need remains the same.
Grand Canal, Venice

Bruge, Belgium
Florence Window Washer
Roller Blade Police, Paris
So try to make contact with the people who actually populate the areas we visit. Take time to learn a little something you didn't know before you arrived, and make a conscientious decision to see the place through the eyes of those who live there. 
Mountain Man, Dinan France

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kitty Leash Training with the Walking Jacket

After looking at a gazillion websites trying to find a good walking harness for our cat Erley, I finally found a cool one. It's called the Walking Jacket and it is on the site.
It looks like it will be more of a secure feeling for him and hopefully that will help out. Erley is a pretty amenable cat and very laid back. He purred when we put the jacket on him and the first couple of times we just let him wear it in the house for about 5 minutes. Always rewarding him with pets and attention. Yesterday we took him for a walk in the house and he came along pretty willingly. The sun actually came out yesterday and we took him out in the back yard for a wander. He had a pretty good time. Here you can see he wasn't bothered and was scratching on a tree. We have one of those small flexi leads as the leash and he ran to the end of it several times. He doesn't walk so much as run. He's starting to figure out that he has to follow us when we ask him to and that he can't run under the shed when he wants to. :) There were a few whiny moments but overall it went swimmingly. We are going to keep working with him so that when we take him for strolls in the RV parks  he will be a pro. I can already see that putting him on lead in the campsite so he can get in and out of the van on his own and do short exploratory wanders is going to be easy. Supervised of course.

Now we have had cats in the past that if you tried to take them on a walk with any kind of harness you would've had a twisting shark at the end of the lead. Either that or a dead weight that refused to move. Erley is doing so well with his walking jacket and we are thankful. It will make his life much more interesting and once he figures out that it means he has some freedom of movement I think he will be all for it. Thanks Metpet for making a great cat harness! Now you need to make a fancier one!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What's out there...

One of the things that will be the most fun to kick around during these planning stages of our trip is just where and what it is we'd like to see and do. This is such a large continent, with so many different things to see, that the choices are endless. We could start tomorrow, and travel every day until we weren't capable of  navigating and still we would only scratch the surface of all there is to witness in North America, let alone the rest of the world. So a travel plan with an eye towards what it is that motivates us to travel in the first place is a good place to start.
Jerani and I have collected antiques for the past twenty years. One activity we have always enjoyed while on the road is stopping at the antique shops and shows we have encountered along the way.
Travel Antique Guide Shop Guide 
Every region differs greatly in what it has to offer, and sometimes you find the greatest treasures in the most out of the way locations. From an old bronze nineteenth century hummingbird in Columbus, South Carolina to a piece of Van Briggle pottery in Durango, Colorado you just never know what you'll find.
 Not only is antiquing a pleasurable pastime when traveling, but it can also be a profitable one if you have a good eye. With all of the user-friendly auction sites such as ebay out there, it's easy even on the road to discover a real find and sell it while continuing to travel.
All you need is a computer, internet accessibility, a good digital camera, packing material, and access to a post office. On top of that, if you treat it as a business you can claim deductions based on your amount of sales.
Travel Antique Guide Show Directory
There are also a number of great antique shows held year round throughout North America. Planning a trip with stops nearby some of these top shows can make for great entertainment while on the road. Some top shows that should be on every traveler's wish list are Brimfield in Massachusetts,
 The Walnut Walk in Walnut, Iowa,
Portland Expo Antique Show,
The Portland Expo show is a Palmer/Wirfs Antique show which is right here in our back yard and the largest show in North America. There are many many more great shows scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada, with dates that can work into almost any traveler's itinerary.
We both love to fish, but lately we don't seem to get out much. I think a lot of that has to do with how long it takes to get everything ready for a day out on the water, coupled with the drive time to reach the fishing destination. It seems like you are spending as much time preparing for the trip as you are actually fishing. That brings us to our upcoming RV trip. The great thing is that we will already be set to go, with everything already packed on board. Once we arrive at a destination all we have to do is break out the poles and tackle and get to fishing.
Well, it's ALMOST that easy. Actually before you can put line to water you have to purchase the proper licenses from each state you wish to fish in. You also have to do research to make sure that you get all the pertinent licenses dealing with the species you wish to fish for. Every state has a different set of rules so it behooves you to take the time to make sure you get all the paper work in order before you throw out the first lure.
One site that has helped us in finding the information needed to purchase out of state licenses is "Take me Fishing".State by State Fishing Licences

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Things we can't leave/live without...

There are definitely some things that we can't leave/live without.
Since room will be at a premium inside our RV, we need to make sure that everything we bring along are things that we love. Here are some of our favorite belongings which will most assuredly find their way onto our packing list.
Keen Footwear
Right now my favorite boots on earth are my pair of Keen Targhee II's. I work long hours as a meat/seafood manager in cold wet conditions and I'm always on my feet. These boots are some of the lightest, most comfortable boots that I've ever worked in. On top of being waterproof and breathable, they are also stylish enough to go from the workplace to the mall. I commute over an hour every day to work and these boots are so great to drive in that I can't wait to    take a pair out on our extended road trip.
My wife wears her pair of Keen Winslow Clogs just about every day. She has always worked and played in clogs and says you can't go wrong with these. We are both firm believers in Keen footwear, and being that they are a local Portland firm makes it even better!

Chuckit Dog Gear

There is absolutely no way we can go on this trip without bringing a couple of Max's favorite toys, both made by Chuckit. One is the ball launcher, which is a real Godsend for those of us who can hardly reach down for a ball thrown at our feet. This launcher allows old men like myself to lean down just slightly to pluck the ball off the ground and effortlessly hurl it for our delighted pet.

The other toy is the almost indestructible ziplight flying disc, which Max seems to have a complete love/hate relationship with. It's one of those toys that you finally have to just hide in a drawer or else he will become completely obsessed with bullying this poor little inanimate object. The good news is this seems to be one of the few toys that Max isn't capable of tearing to pieces; in fact he hasn't been able to make so much as a dent in this soft yet amazingly tough toy.

Shakespeare Ugly Sick Fishing Rods

We both love to fish, but it just seems like we don't get the chance to get out on the water like we used to. This RV adventure will allow us the time and freedom to explore all the great fishing that North America has to offer. We have quite a few rods, some like our steelhead spinning rods are quite expensive; but for a trip that will require a lot of storage of equipment I can't think of a better choice than bringing along a couple of our almost indestructible Shakespeare Ugly Sticks. We have a mid size saltwater/freshwater spinning rod that will be great for large catfish, stripper, salmon, pike, muskie, red drum, etc., and a couple of smaller spinning rods that are ideal for trout, panfish, flounder, speckled trout, etc. These rods will serve us well.
Penn Reels
We will pare our larger Ugly Stick rod with our Penn Spinfisher 4 Reel. I really like the Penn reel for being able to go from freshwater to saltwater, and for it's toughness and corrosion resistance. It's a real workhorse and hasn't let us down yet. It's equally at home here in Oregon going after Salmon, as it is in Florida targeting King Mackerel.

On our smaller rods we are going to set them up with Shimano reels. We have fished with Shimano reels for years and have three or four to choose from. I like how lightweight they are, and my oldest one, a rear drag model, has served me well for over twenty years.

Garrett Metal Detector

We would be the first to tell you that we may be the world's worst duo of metal detecting aficionados. Once again it may just be that we never get a chance to actually spend any time at it, and that by taking this extended leave we will be able to explore the intricacies of actually finding things. But for now we are excited to contemplate what it must feel like to find something other than bottle caps and pull tabs. One certainly can't blame our Garrett Ace 350. I mean the poor thing is only as good as the people sweeping it back and forth. It truly tries to point us in the right direction. We are both quite game though to continue our dogged search for booty on this upcoming trip, and at some point we will live up to the lofty expectations that the Garrett sets for us.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Is Living In an RV "Green"? Yes it is!

We were thinking about how to reduce our carbon footprint in the world and were pleased to see that living in an RV is a very "green" thing to do. These are two links to great articles that support that idea.We are in the process of trying to find "green" things to outfit our RV. Bamboo plates and utensils, organic sheets and towels, BPA free mixing bowls, etc. We found a great website for all things green. It is The Ultimate Green Store Check it out for some cool "green" shopping!

RV Vacations Leave Smaller Carbon Footprint Than Traditional Travel

 Carbon Footprints of Motorhomes vs Homes

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Everything but the kitchen sink...

Having now taken several trips to our local RV dealership to look over our dream RV, we are coming to terms with the reality that driving a B class RV represents. There just isn't a lot of room.
What gains we have made in driving ease and in freeing us to travel the  unexplored byways, we will sacrifice in storage space. After all, the smaller the RV, the fewer things you can bring. So it's high time to start paring down the wants from the must-haves.
Well our dog Max a Papillon/King Charles mix and Erley our exotic shorthair kitty are non-negotiable. We just can't leave them behind if we are going to be gone for months at a time. So this trip will be built around the joy, and yes, the sometime major inconveniences that driving across America in a little itty-bitty RV with two highly spoiled animals will present. We aren't naive, we realize that there will be a number of days when we will question the sanity of this decision. But honestly, how bad could it be cooped up in a B class RV during a rainstorm, listening to them bark and meow for twelve hours straight?
Now that we have made the decision to take on a pair of furry passengers, we have to make sure that their life on the road is enjoyable. That means pet supplies. Thank goodness that the pair combined weigh less than twenty pounds because it reduces the size and weight to just about everything we'll have to bring for their upkeep. Both our animals love bedding that they can claim as their own (even when for the most part they never lie down on what we've set up for them.) Just the same, we will bring them each a sheepskin lined bed. As you can tell by the picture below, they will sleep in them from time to time, they just want it to be on their terms.

We will also need food and watering dishes. Our animals have always shared a water bowl, so we will only need one of those. We will use one with a non-skid rubber coated base, although we probably won't have it filled during travel. Now food is a different story; if Max had his way, all food would be designated "his". He tends to eat anything that is placed in front of him, falls on the floor, or is carried home on my boots after a hard day cutting meat. He just LOVES food. Anyone's food. The two have to be fed separately, so we'll have to come up with two individual eating stations. Now we'll need two leashes, and a collar for Max and a figure eight harness for Erley. (We'll get back to you to let you know how our harness cat walking training is going...) Both animals will need collar/harness detailed tags with all the pertinent information, along with some sort of add on information that gives their current daily location. (RV park, site number, etc.)
We also have a great raincoat with an insulated lining that Max wears on nasty days. (Erley refuses to wear one; not that we even tried.) For emergencies we will bring a small vet medicine kit, with hard to find items like vet wrap, eye drops, etc. A brush, flea comb, vet shampoo, toothbrush, and nail clippers will help to keep them well groomed and keep our RV vermin free. We will bring along snap lock containers for their food and treats, and of course we will have to bring some of their favorite toys to help them feel at home on the road.
We want to make sure that they both have a good time on this trip. Although it will obviously be stressful at times on all of us, we think that if they had a vote that they wouldn't want to be left behind. It's our job on the road to bring as much normalcy to their lives as possible. The more things that we can keep as routine, the better. It will be like one really long field trip with no end in sight.

As you can probably tell by the amount of pictures we have of these two goof balls, our pets are pretty important to us. This will be a bonding experience for all of us and should prove to provide us with plenty of anecdotes along the way. All we know is this experience wouldn't be the same without them, and we would probably cut this adventure short if they were left behind.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cameras and Computers

New Mexico rock formations....
New Orleans street performer
There are a heck of a lot of things to see while traveling throughout North America. One of the reasons so many people come here from abroad to travel is the immense variety of not only the topography, but also the cultural diversity. We have everything from lonely arid deserts to hugely populated cities. There are subtropical beaches, and snow shrouded mountains. You can spend the day in a cutting edge modern metropolitan locale, and then find yourself spending the evening in something akin to Mayberry RFD. The sheer number of possibilities is limitless. One of the things we really enjoy about traveling is the opportunity to capture the experience through photography. Not only does it allow you to bring home priceless memories of a trip, but it also is a great hobby for a traveler. Another thing photography does during an extended road trip is it helps tie everything together upon your return with a visual road map of people, places and things that you have encountered along the way.
David looking over Oswald West State Park beach on the Oregon Coast
Cannon G12
We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what would work for us as far as finding a digital camera that was not only small enough not to discourage us from always having it on hand, but making sure it was also a serious enough camera capable of  capturing quality images. After having done a lot of homework we settled on the Cannon G12 and it hasn't been a disappointment. It's light enough to carry around your neck without being a burden, but structurally sound enough to make it feel like a serious camera. It takes beautiful pictures and the color is spot on, and on top of that it doubles as a HD video camera with crystal clear sound. The G12 is so loaded with technological perks that it's going to be great just playing around with it to see everything it has to offer. Last but not least it is VERY user friendly. It can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Functioning equally well as a no-nonsense auto point and shoot to a completely manual camera allowing for any number of setting changes. We love it!
Crater Lake
We have found that traveling with a computer just helps to enhance our ability to take good pictures. It not only allows you to cull photos that don't meet your expectations, but to view them at the end of the day to see just exactly what you captured through your viewfinder. It's amazing the things that you'll find in the image that you weren't aware were there while taking the photo. The digital camera/computer tandem is also invaluable when posting a blog or communicating with love ones back home. One of the things we most enjoyed during our three and a half months in Europe was keeping a computer journal of our travels, and sending it along with pictures to people who were following our journey. Today with Blogs being all the rage, the combination of the two is even more valuable.We haven't decided on which computer to bring yet. We're pondering a tablet like an Ipad and a laptop. Then we saw the ads for the tablet/laptop combo that looked pretty nifty. We'll let you know when we figure it out! Update 3/11/13 We bought a Kindle Fire HD because it has this marvelous data plan where you pay $50 for the year and you have 250mb a month. You can't stream movies on it with that data plan but that's not what we would use it for anyway. It's for browsing the web and checking email and playing games and reading books. It didn't have adobe flash but I found a way to install it and it works for reading magazines on Zinio. We like it so far!
 Update 3/21/13 Still love the Kindle. Works flawlessly. We have been trying to find a touchscreen laptop with a large screen but so far have not been able to find one that doesn't have a lot of negative reviews. Or you think you've finally found one for any price and then you realize there's no dvd drive or the screen is glossy and reflects your image back, and on and on. If any of you have a suggestion based on your experience please sound off! At this point we are just going to take our 5 year old Toshiba with Vista. Sheesh.
David surf fishing on a private island in Florida
The opportunities to explore the world visually opens up when you have a camera. You start to look at things a little bit differently when you start composing pictures. We find ourselves taking half a dozen photos and when we edit them we realize that only one or two are worth a damn. We like to hand the camera back and forth and take pictures of the same thing, because it's amazing just how much variation there we will be in how we go about composing the same shot. Everyone looks at the world a little differently, and that really comes through in photography.
Cave Dwelling Ruins at Bandolier National Monument New Mexico
Columbia River Gorge private island