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About Solo18

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  1. I work only half-time teaching online remotely, but I can choose when to do my work as long as I meet deadlines in returning papers and posting class sessions on time. I use two Verizon hotspots, one of which I bought used on EBay. One warning is that I have been misled a lot of times about the availability of cell service. I will call a campground or state park ranger station and be assured I can find a good Verizon signal but when i get there I find out that to do that, I have to be standing next to the lake holding my cell phone up in the air--not appropriate for a business meeting! Very irritating, but after a while I have gotten better at checking coverage maps and interpreting a potential signal strength. Another thing I learned early is that I needed duplicates of stuff--two laptops and two hotspots. My lesson-learned was when my laptop hard drive died in the town of Okracoke in the Outer Banks and had to take a ferry and drive to Virginia Beach to buy a backup laptop. Dell sent a part and walked me through installing it, but it did not solve the problem and I had to meet a service guy in the campground at Virginia Beach. (I had a home service warranty on the laptop.) I immediately found a Best Buy and bought my backup.
  2. I nearly always stay in state, national, or county campgrounds because sites are more spread out. Admittedly, there is more noise on summer weekends, but the rest of the time it is a lot quieter than my old condo complex was--night or day. To avoid noise, avoid the places on weekends where families congregate--anything that has the letters KOA in it, on boating lakes, big swimming pools with kiddie areas, places near big cities, etc. For big holidays, think of where everyone wants to go and then find somewhere else!! There are a lot of less busy state and national parks that do not attract noisy drunks or big family reunions. Also, pick a spot as far away from the lake or attraction as possible. Maybe even a site at the end of a row. Right now, I am at Emigrant Lake in Oregon. Most people with families choose the lower sites along the lake. I am on the second row, which is higher on a ridge--much quieter and not even full the last few days. People drive by these spots, and you can see them say "too far away from the lake" before they drive on! Last weekend, there was a large noisy group on the lower level, but I did not even hear them up here!
  3. I disinfect my fresh water tanks every 3-4 months. An important thing to know is that I drink the water in my tank. I do NOT buy bottled water! I have both an external water filter and a whole-house filter. Most filters are just carbon filters that mostly filter sediment and reduce the amount of bacteria. I buy the more expensive filters that remove mold and spores and other nasty things. Read the back of the box to compare. Before I add chlorine to my system. I fill a couple gallons jugs full of water to use for drinking and cooking. Then I add a cup or so of regular bleach to the water tank, fill it up, and run each of the faucets for a couple of minutes. I try to do this early on a day I drive or am away from the rig and where I have full hookups. I use the water to flush and do dishes, and even shower since chlorine dissipates fairly quickly. I run all the water through the tank over the next couple of days, add fresh water to the tank, and by then all the chlorine is gone. I have never had problems with the taste or appearance of my fresh water and have never gotten sick from it, even when I have had a weakened immune system.
  4. Recently, I have been irritated at seeing dogs in grocery carts. I am allergic to dogs and do not want to have to be close to them. But most importantly, I do not want to take home packages of food that have been in my grocery cart where a dog was recently sitting. Do I have to wash everything off when I get home??? Walmart seems to be a big offender in allowing dogs in carts. Yesterday, I was on the road and wanted to stop at a Walmart, so I had to call them and ask if they allowed dogs in grocery carts. They assured me they did not and make people take them out whenever they see one in a cart, but that whole conversation tells me that it has happened. I have had pets until recently, and never felt that I needed to take them with me to a grocery store. It is true that people are really taking advantage of the situation. Frankly, I do not want to fly with a dog next to me, not that I do not like animals, but I don't want to end up with a stuffy nose and constant cough because of the animal dander. This whole thing reminds me of the time I took my 85-year-old mother and her two young grandchildren (my niece and nephew) to DisneyWorld. My mother was in a wheelchair so we were able to avoid lines, but we kept running into a family of four in a wheelchair. In other words, they had one wheelchair and took turns being disabled. One day, the mother would be in the chair in the morning, but in the afternoon, it would be the young daughter, and the next day it would be the son, etc. No wonder people question if someone is "really disabled"! People who do these things are also causing problems for people who are honestly disabled and have a "real" service dog.
  5. One of the best pieces of advice someone gave me when I first started out was the following: Drive at whatever speed you feel comfortable driving. Do NOT let cars behind you who are anxious to go faster push you into driving faster than you want to drive! That advice came in handy when I encountered a long stretch of construction on I-80 west of the Nevada border in California. It was two lanes wide, but a very, very narrow two lanes wide. On one side of the road was a brand-new concrete lane that was raised at least a foot high. On the other side were those cement things they put alongside construction sites. I was terrified that my big vehicle would hit one or the other, so remembering this advice, I drove straight down the middle of the two lanes!! I blocked traffic for at least 5 miles, but I did not hit anything or blow out a tire. No one honked at me because I think they realized the difficulty I was in. After I survived the construction area, I was able to pull off into a parking lot to catch my breath and grab something to eat and drink from the refrigerator and relax for a while. And ditto on not driving too many miles on one day--100 is plenty at first. But it will get easier and you will feel much more comfortable as times goes on. 101 can be curvy, but it is still a lot better than those other routes you mentioned, especially 20.
  6. The Vagabonds, consisting of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs, did not rough it too badly. If you look at the third picture on the Henry Ford Museum site above, you will see that they took along a kitchen truck with a stove and icebox, plus a cook. Another vehicle carried all of their tents, cots, and other camping supplies! They also took a team of photographers. Plus, I suspect they took along a few employees to set everything up and pick up after them, so I suspect they made quite a caravan heading down the road!!
  7. I have parked several times pulling in forward, but I always pull as far to the left as I can so I am not encroaching on the neighbor's space. And I have a 30 amp extension cord that makes it easy to reach the electrical post no matter where I am parked. Also, I always have enough room to walk around my rig if I want to sit at the picnic table. One place I do this is at Gamble Rogers State Park in Florida where if you are very lucky and plan 11 months in advance, you can get a spot overlooking the ocean! However, spots are well-separated from neighbors. I was told in state parks along the Oregon and Washington coasts that they require you to back in to your spot so that you can pull out quickly and not block the roadways in case of a Tsunami warning. That makes sense.
  8. The safe deposit box I have is a small one--2" high by 4.5" wide, and 24" long. I could fit quite a few of my portable hard drives in one. They are come in 3" heights and even larger. I pay $75 per year in the one in a California bank and the one in Ohio is in my and my son's name, so it is free because he has an account there. I have a lifetime of photos scanned and stored, and having them in a bank makes me feel confident it will be dry and safe.
  9. I keep at least three portable hard drives--one with me, one is in a safe deposit box in Ohio near one son, and the third is in a safety deposit box in California near my other son. Why not just at their homes? Well, when one had to evacuate due to fires, they lost something of mine that was a family piece. It is just too iffy to ask someone else to keep track of my stuff in an emergency, hence the safety deposit boxes. My third device is in a small safe in my RV. I switch them out and update the backups of the ones in the safety deposit boxes once a year when I go to visit them. It sounds as if you might need something much larger than mine, but that would still fit in a safety deposit box I think. I also have a small printer that stays in its box with the original packing material. It is a pain to get it out when I need it, but I think it is less likely to break when I hit a chuckhole this way.
  10. One concern--I hope you have some savings for repairs and things like tires, as a backup. Living in an RV is not cheap, although there are ways to save money. One way is to workcamp and get a free site and another is to boondock, but you will need a good generator or roof full of solar energy cells. Buying used, at the budget you describe, means that you will have things that need repair, plus you will probably need a set of new tires, which will cost about $200 each. Things like hot water tanks and refrigerators are a lot more expensive than you think. You might want to look at forums that mention something like RVing on a budget.
  11. Now for Michigan--or "Up North" as it is referred to. A good state park and campground with full hookups is Hartwick Pines State Park, north of Grayling. There is a logging museum, and you can walk among the virgin White Pines. Traverse City in the northwest of the lower peninsula has great wineries and breweries and is directly on a huge bay of Lake Michigan. It is a lovely city to drive and walk around in, plus drive up the Mission Peninsula, which is the long peninsula in the middle of the big bay, and full of vineyards and good restaurants. And a must is Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island--spelled differently but pronounced the same. Stop in Mackinaw City and find the parking lot under the bridge along the lake--large RV parking spaces and a great place to walk around. (Do watch for low areas under the bridge in town where you could lose your roof.) Mackinac Island is where the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve was filmed. It has a state park on the island and some beautiful old Victorian homes. You take a passenger ferry from Mackinaw city and can bring bikes, but cars are not allowed on the island. Highway 185 around the island is 8 miles long and the only state highway in the country where cars and other motor vehicles are not allowed. So, you ride bikes or rent a horse-drawn carriage to drive around the island. There are bikes for rent on the island and horse-drawn taxis and tours available there also. The island was settled by French missionaries in 1670, but the English took over and built Fort Mackinac in 1780. The French planted lilacs in the early 1700s, and many are still living and are incredible when they are in bloom in June. And north of Mackinaw is Sault St Marie, where the Soo Locks between Lake Superior and Lake Huron are located. You can watch the big freighters go through from an observation deck. There is also a city park about a mile east of the locks, Aune Osborn, which is right on the St. Mary's river, where the boats go after or before they go through the locks. The boats are so close you can wave at the workers on deck!! Get a waterfront site months in advance, if you can, for the best view. https://www.saultcity.com/aune-osborn-campground
  12. I was born in Detroit, so I am a little biased about this great city. First, best place to stay is Sterling State Park, about 20 miles south of Detroit. It is directly on Lake Erie, so enjoy the view of the lake, and make this your headquarters for a couple of days. It has both full hookup sites and electric-water sites. There is an electric plant on the south end of the park, so the north end, and on the beach at that end, are the best sites because of the noise. A benefit is a coin-operated car wash big enough for RVs across from the entrance. In nearby Dearborn, the home of Ford Motor Company, definitely see the Henry Ford Museum for vehicles and memorabilia, including Presidential cars, Henry's first camper, and a ton of other stuff. Just that will take 3-4 hours. Plus take the factory tour that leaves from the museum. It will take you to a nearby plant which has a grass roof and all the most modern assembly methods. Next door is Greenfield Village, which has a lot of old buildings, including one of Edison's labs. That is at least a half day, also. If you are in Dearborn around lunch or dinner time, ask around for recommendations to one of the terrific middle-eastern restaurants in town. Or if you want elegant early American ambiance, try the Dearborn Inn, not too far from the Henry Ford Museum. It is a place you would take your grandmother to for a special dinner! Not cheap, but very special and built by Henry Ford in 1931 as a hotel for his airport, which is now a small auto test track across the street. Designer was famous Albert Kahn. Also, in Detroit is one of the best and largest art museums in the country--The Detroit Institute of Arts. (Remember that Detroit was once a very wealthy city, whose auto barons donated a lot of money and art to this place.) And not too far away is the riverfront area--great place to walk around and watch the Detroit River and very safe during the day. Also, Belle Isle nearby is now a state park and a great place to watch the big boats go by. There is a lovely greenhouse and botanical garden, an aquarium, nature center, plus the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on the island. Stop by the fountain and drive completely around the island--great place and recently revitalized and kept in great condition by thousands of Detroit area volunteers.
  13. Best place to stay in Napa is the EXPO--walking distance to town and restaurants and full hookup, not what you would expect at a county fairgrounds. Expensive and need reservations long in advance, however. I also would be concerned about health insurance. What if something happens and you become less healthy? Don't know your background other than your being an educator, but do you have any professional skills you can do online part time while you travel? (I teach online, for example.) Volunteer and camp hosting jobs limit you to one area for several months and do not pay well. Having a skill you can get paid for at a professional level would go a long way to paying for health care if your insurance gets more expensive. However, I also say go for it. Even if you have to spend more of that nest egg than you plan on, it is only money and life is short.
  14. If we know where you plan on staying, we might be able to suggest campgrounds that allow washing of rigs. For example, Armitage Park, which is a county campground in Eugene, OR, allows you to wash your rig. We also might be able to suggest places with nearby "quarter" car washes big enough for a trailer or motorhome. For example, there is one in Tehachapi, CA, and one I know of in Monroe, MI, right across the road from the entrance to Sterling State Park! I have used both, though the exit to the one in Tehachapi is a little tight for big rigs. As a full-timer, I often use Blue Beacon, but I also keep my eyes out as I drive for car washes with super-big bays.
  15. I think the size of the mobile home and the insulation would be a really big factor, no matter where you are in Texas. Any RV, including a 5th wheeler would have difficulty keeping you comfortable in the heat and cold. I would not get talked into getting something really big, however, since you seem to be willing to live in a park model and your costs would be less for both heating and cooling in something small. But then again, I would not get something too old, either. A mobile home would have better construction for things like kitchen cabinets and flooring, also.
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