G has a "swell" time kayaking

G has a "swell" time kayaking
G has a "swell" time kayaking

Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico

Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico
Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico

Warren Dunes Sunset

Warren Dunes Sunset
Warren Dunes Sunset

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Approaches to trekking

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G and I aren't usually the "jump in the Roadtrek and wing it " types. But we did just that in December 2013 a couple of weeks after taking delivery of our 210P.  That 2500 mile initial trek was a lot of fun and it ended well. But we did take some risks by doing that. Those types of risks might not be prudent for everyone.

There is an old expression "Be prepared and take advantage of opportunity when it is presented. "

I've been asked about our approach to trekking. Here is a quick summary of tools, etc. that we use and approach to such travel.

First and foremost we like to have our treks be as pleasant as possible, under prevailing conditions. So we do things to facilitate that.

Our first trek, overnight at a rest stop:

I put together this list and asked G her comments. She's partner, co-pilot and navigator!
  1. Communications Tools A smart phone with internet access is essential. We carry a PC for more serious internet tasks. ·
  2. Weather and inclement weather planning We closely monitor the weather, using 10-day forecasts when planning. When trekking we recheck each and every day. This is mandatory when travelling longer distances and at certain times of the year when fast moving storms do occur. We always carry rain gear and clothes for cool to hot weather, even in summer. 
  3.  Insects and other pests and physical well-being We carry bug repellent, tick removal tool, a small medical kit. 
  4. Trip and Route Planning Tools 
    • Clio App (history, museums, culture, etc.) 
    •  Allstays App (truck stops, campgrounds, overnight parking, stores, RV Dealers & Service, etc.)
    • GPS [Real time - Verizon Navigator for online traffic (or Google Maps Traffic), etc.]
    • GPS (Trip planning – Garmin, TomTom , Microsoft Streets & Trips 2013)
    • Printed maps (Nationwide Rand McNally for truckers, local street and highway maps. 
    • Sources for travel information We do online searches before and during travel. G as Navigator also consults printed material. Good Sams, KOA, AAA materials Roadtrip USA (a book by Jamie Jensen), FMCA membership data including the "cyberrally" email service.
    5. Travel in Realistic Segments. We break each trek into segments which allow for a reasonable amount of daily travel. 
    6. Use the distinction of “sightseeing” travel vesus “distance” travel.   We use two different aspects for travel segments. These are “sightseeing” and “distance”. We have different expectations and goals for each of these approaches. We use both approaches when trekking.
    7Be Flexible because Things do happen. We do our best to simply accept what occurs as a challenge rather than as an impediment. It’s good to have a plan “B”.
     8. Set maximum daily travel limits This is determined by objective or “time to distance”. For example, travelling at 70 MPH for 10 hours allows a maximum daily distance of 700 miles. However, there are bathroom breaks, meal stops, stretch stops and gas stops to consider even if we are going for distance. I use 60 MPH as a realistic average speed for distance driving on interstates, and that may be pushing it. However, it is prudent to combine these agendas for the stops. So we look ahead using the Apps to find truck stops we like and can provide the amenities per stop. Experience is a good teacher.  
    9. Have Reservations To avoid booked campgrounds we make a reservation. We may do this the “morning of” but usually several days in advance as we progress along our route. In busy seasons, or in popular areas making reservations weeks ahead may be prudent. Sometimes months ahead is necessary. It is really comforting to have the security of knowing we have a place for the night before arriving.
    10. Duration of the Travel Segments and Multi-night stays When trekking we may travel for the better part of one day, stay overnight and then travel the next day. However, this means we setup each night, and get back on the road each morning. To make segments more enjoyable we prefer two nights minimum in most locations. That allows us to stretch for an entire day, get up a little later on that first morning at the campground, explore the area, have a nice meal and even a campfire in the evening before settling in for the second night. 
    11. Incentives We like to have something to look forward to each and every day. It may be a museum, or painted churches, or strolling through a town, or even driving to see an ancient bridge. And of course there are state and national parks, too. 
    12. Shared responsibilities I do most of the driving and G is the Navigator. We approach trekking as a partnership for all. When the children were young they participated in my camping outings, too. Current duties have been determined by practical experience. I don’t mind driving for hours and I am inclined to travel near the speed limit. G prefers to travel at 5 MPH or so below the speed limit, but is willing to do daily planning and logistics. I view a 5MPH deficit as accumulating as much as 50 miles over 10 hours. That’s nearly an additional hour of extra driving per day. (10 hours @ 50 MPH = 500 miles per day. 10 hours at 55 MPH = 550 miles per day. The difference is 50 miles per day). Bottom line: If we are going for distance it is prudent to put the faster driver in the driver's seat.
    13. Planning the Route We determine the rough route before beginning a trek. We establish goals. We then do some online research of communities and sights along the way. When researching these communities we look for festivals and the things that make each community unique. The day of arrival makes a difference. Some locations fill up with weekend travelers. Holidays can produce special problems or issues. 

We own a RT, a travel trailer and a 5th wheel. The manuals provided by RT were the best of the three. Howevever, our 2013 210P has minimal high tech or proprietary equipment. We have no fancy diesel engine, no Alde heating system, no proprietary lithium batteries, etc.

I've downloaded all of the service manuals for everything. Our 210P has performed extraordinarily well with travle during ambient temperatures from 5F at night to 103F during the day, and for 33,000 miles. We have lived in it for up to 110 continuous days and we have experienced good factory/dealer support. I suppose one could argue that "things have changed" but that's not been my experience. One could also argue that "I am lucky" but I prefer that old definition of luck: Be prepared and take advantage of opportunity when it is presented.

I will admit I am probably unusual. I spent years reviewing class Bs before a purchase. We rented one before purchase. Then upon buying I took a lot of it apart to figure it out. And, oh, I read all of the manuals and tried everything. That includes stuff that wasn't clear to me in the manuals. After I thought I understood the tech I tried it all and practiced everything including winterizing and de-winterizing. I learned every valve, fuse, etc. and G and I even purchased certain spare parts to take with us.

Gee, I wonder why we've had great treks? Just luck of course!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Taps at Weko Beach

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Originally posted on July 23, 2018
For more than 25 years, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, at the end of each day, "Taps" has been played live and in-person on bugle or trumpet at Weko Beach in Bridgman, MI.

We were able to visit at sunset and I videotaped the sunset and the playing of taps tonight.

The edited video; Hans Zimmer's score "Da Vinci Code", wind, waves and taps:

The original video; wind, wave and taps:

Sunday, July 22, 2018

More Kayaking Fun

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We've been kayaking on Lake Michigan for a couple of weeks. Lots of fun, between raindrops.

We've gone on the lake with winds up to 10-20 mph, gusts and mild swells. The kayak handles well under these conditions.

On the Beach


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Inflatable kayak

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We trek in locations which have water and I've wanted a kayak or canoe for the two of us. I didn't want to leave G on the shore. Trekking with a rigid such thing attached to our 210P didn't strike me as a good idea. I did investigate a two-piece rigid kayak and discussed it with the owner of one at the lake. But I decided it was too costly and that transport, even in sections would be an issue in the Roadtrek.

Why a kayak or canoe? It's consistent with the very basis of trekking in our 210P. We chose a 210P to be unfettered. Yes, we can't go where there aren't roads, but otherwise we are free to trek as far as our gasoline leash will allow, and on road suitable for automobiles. However, upon arrival at the water, we had to stop. I wanted to go farther. I've owned and sailed several boats up to 25 ft, canoed 90 miles in a single trek in the Canadian wilderness and I was not to be stopped. However, I was delayed. It's taken four years to get here, but in the meantime I've set up two "lily pads" and trekked 30,000 miles in the 210P. This was while working. I also volunteer up to 1,000 hours per year. I'm a patient man with a vision and a goal.

The water is beckoning
I decided to investigate inflatables and I like the SE370 inflatable kayak sold by Sea Eagle. I like the dimensions, the weight capacity of 650 lbs and the inflatable, removable seats. These work well as beach seats, too.  I'd guess the kayak hull weight less oars and seats is about 30 lbs. I did a fair amount of research and decided to purchase one. Folded it will fit beneath the bench seat of the 210P.  It comes with a durable carry bag.

It went together easily, although attaching the retainers for the valves can take a while, but that's a chore that only has to be done once. I inflated it with the foot pump supplied. That took about 15 minutes and let it rest overnight to see if it had any leaks. One chamber deflated overnight (it has three main and two additional across the bow and stern). I tightened the valve where it attaches to the hull, inflated it again and it was leak proof.

The weather patterns the past month weren't conducive to kayaking on Lake Michigan with storms, E-Coli issues at the State Park beach and crowds on weekends. So we waited for an opportunity.

This weekend we beat the crowds and tried it out. It was a lot of fun and the inflatable seats are removable and work well as beach chairs.

Removed from the box

Assembled and ready for the water
We picked a day in which it was very calm, the water cool and the air temperature about 80F. I wanted to see how it handled with only boat wakes to worry about. The kayak is stable, handles well and is sufficiently light that I carried it inflated from the RT to the water. The two skegs help the trakking and I'm please by that. From the RT to the water took two trips. One with the kayak over my head and the second was with the paddles, seats and suntan lotion, etc.

G was a bit apprehensive and didn't know what to expect. But she had a good time and is looking forward to the next opportunity.

Ready to push off

On the water

Just paddling
A short video"

That was easy!
The end of a beautiful day:

Friday, July 6, 2018

Upgrade Nylon Drawer Catch

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The top drawer catch is nylon and after four years it got "tired" and wouldn't hold the drawer closed. No problem. Installed an upgrade.

Photo of old and replacement hardware:

New drawer catch installed. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Life at the beach

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Last night's rain has moved on, we have pleasant southerly breezes, 80F and the cleanup crew has arrived.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Passive Cooling - Solar Shades

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There are a variety of ways to keep cool when trekking in summer. Fresh water lakes are fun to swim in, but unless we can find shade, we'll have that RV cooking in the sun.  I've created a variety of solar shades to help.  This morning I finished the one for the lily pad (our cabin) next to the pond.

How I make these

I prefer Coolaroo Sun Shade. These are made of High Density Knitted Polyethylene. It is breathable and blocks 85% or more of the sun's UV rays.  I sometimes paint to to give a little interest.

I may use vinyl cord for the edge.

Here's the sketched outline on the shade I painted today. I adjusted the brightness and contrast so the outline would stand out for this photo. I painted it while on the ground, and then hung it to complete the drying process. I use enamel:

Contrast adjusted to show sketch on fabric

Partially painted

Paint complete, hung to dry.

At  times I get creative for the hanging method. This one is 15 ft. tall and has two pipe supports from above: