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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Having a Travel Image

Business Card
Business Card

I like travel, meeting people, and writing about my experiences. As Fire Chief I got a lot of satisfaction from writing the Fire Department Update for 15 years. This new phase if my life will be to set a direction of what I may want to do in retirement or semi retirement. I am an adjunct professor at Mount Wachusett Community College and will be teaching an independent study while on this trip. I want to do this to learn about teaching while on the road.  I did teach a distance learning course in Fire Investigation last spring.  Doing it on the road should be interesting.  I have had a couple suggest I consider a couple part time work situations.  I am even open to working here and there on my trip.  I would do it just for the fun and experiences and of course meeting interesting people.

Meeting people is a goal of mine.  In fact I will try to meet someone new everyday.  I want to write about them.  Who the are and what makes them unique.  This is a lofty goal, but I will not be writing biographies, just their story.  This is why I need an image and business card.  I want people to take me seriously and offer their story.

Those of you that follow this blog will get the view I get when you read about each person I interview.  My writing doesn't stop here.  I plan to be busy writing about my adventures on places I go and things I see.  Another tall task and possibly much more than you want to be reading.  Since I set out on my planning for this trip, many I have spoken to have said I have always wanted to do this or plan on doing it one day.  There is a deep interest in people to travel and have adventures.  I have been so lucky in my life to have had great jobs and diversified experiences traveling around the world.  Much of my travels have been alone and this gives me platform to venture off by myself for 3.5 months.  I am also a true road worrier when it comes to technology.  I have been carrying a mobile device for so many years that the first weighed about 10 lbs.  It had a text screen of 24 lines and built in thermal printer.

I will be very connected during the trip the best way is to email me or plan to leave a phone message. When I stop I will do my best to catch up on the days mail.  You are welcome to write me and tell me what is going on in Westminster, family, friends, and ask questions.  Remember that I am not running away just on an adventure to return to Academy Hill and Westminster and of course our camp in Vermont.

If you have any troubles with this blog please let me know as I am learning and want my work to be worth the effort.

My home on wheels

1994 Coachman Camper Van
My 1994 Coachman Camper Van

I did extensive research on what I would use for transportation for my trip.  My original plan was to use my Tacoma pickup truck and purchase a light weight truck cap with pop up top.  There were a number of problems with this the major one was cost.  The need for a light weight camper is because of the Tacoma's payload of about 1100 lbs.  The camper weighed in at at least 800 lbs. and this was dry & no personal items.  Many people do this putting on rear airbags but ultimately exceeding the GVW.  The other problem is that these units are not sold further east than Wisconsin.  This would leave me to a trip to get it or hall everything it need and buy it on the way.  Oh the cost of $16K was not not what I wanted to spend considering that I don't know if I would enjoy doing this.  This idea of the truck camper did not prove to be a great option.

My next idea was to get an oversized truck cap and build the inside to my liking.  I went so far to create a very elaborate design around a truck cap that again only available in California.  I would again have to get to CA with all my belongings somehow secured and the. Spend about 2 weeks at my son's house in La Jolla building the inside.  It would have been logistically challenging but for a past project manager something that would be fun and frustrating at the same time.  Since this was the plan of choice for some time it did purchase a number of things to make this work before finding the Camper Van.  I did purchase a very high end cooler that runs on a true compressor and is super efficient.  At a $800 price it is expensive, but can be used for years on day trips.  That is excellent about it is that it runs on 12volts so efficient it uses less than 2 amps.  So, this is a great choice to use on this trip as I plan to be off grid a lot of the time running off batteries as it is more efficient than the 3-way fridge in the camper van.  One other thing I bought was airbags for the rear go the Tacoma.  I installed them and after one bag problem that was addressed up under warrantee by Firestone they work great and will be useful for a lot of heavy hauling for future projects at home and camp. There were other issues for using the Tacoma bed the biggest one was that although I have a 6 ft. bed length I am 5'11" and that meant sleeping straight would require sleeping on an angle to the bed.

The camper van idea came from me looking at campers on how they are laid out for my truck bed design and then looking at prices. A visit to Craig's List brought me to the one I'm the picture above in Greenville, NH. Although 20 years old by model year I decided to take a look. I have developed a good ability to look at used vehicles having done much of my own vehicle work over the years. What I don't have knowledge about are camper specific items.

When I arrived looked in good shape. I proceeded to climb under and look for body rust and there was none. I listened and checked out the engine. There was only a squeak in the engine that I know to be an idler pulley sound. I learned that the husband and wife that were selling it only owned it for this past summer having bought it from the original owner who is now in his 90's and still works in his garage business. breaks were new, exhaust new, and new Michelin XLT tires. I know them well as tat is what I have on our Highlander. All in all in good shape. I got a w quick overview of the camper items and the inside looked good but in need of some updates. I was told the radio didn't work, but this wasn't a bother as electronics are no problem to deal with. After a short should I / shouldn't I the decision was made right then and there to purchase it. having done some prior research I knew the pricing of such units and it was a decent deal.

It was delivered for me and I went to register it and the RMV said wait a week as it's a camper with yearly registration and it was still November. I would have had to register it and then pay for a new registration the following week in December.

Having secured my wheels & sleeping arrangements it was time to outfit it for the trip.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Planning the trip

Those that are close to me know that I am a planner, a quality that I proudly passed on to my boys.  I have put a lot of thought into planning this trip since I decided on my retirement date of January 2014 back in August. 

My planning has had to change a number of times.  I originally thought of getting a light weight truck camper here in MA and leaving for FL and spending time in the FL Keys before heading west to CA. Then I found out that what I wanted is a west coast product, not sold on the east coast.  My search went out to the few venders that make light weight campers.  After looking online then emailing companies I was frustrated not having a solution that suited my needs.  Sitting in San Diego learning that one vendor in Riverside wouldn't answer my emails I found a solution in Santa Anna that is basically a camper shell top that would be light weight in comparison, give me more room on the truck floor, cost less and could be customized to my specifications.  Denise and I drove to the sales representative and saw the camper and I made my decision.  The only issue is that I need to drive to CA to get it before I can camp in it.  Even better the lead-time is only 2.5 weeks.

This means that I will be driving to FL to drop mom off  in Leesburg and spending only a few days before making my way quickly to CA.  I will get the camper installed in Santa Anna then head to San Diego to stay at son Clayton & Dana's to outfit the camper the way I want.

This means I will only bring the basic things with me and buy or ship the rest to San Diego to install there.  I do plan on camping across the Deep South to CA in the winter.  This could work well as temperatures could be mild or cold.  If too cold I will opt for a motel here and there.

After I get the camper in some suitable shape I will be headed to Phoenix area to camp alter/augment the camper while attend baseball Cactus League spring training and playing disc golf.  Oh yea, and doing as many things that I can and writing here about it.

I will be sharing some of my planning as part of my posts.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Decision to retire

I decided some time ago that when I retire I didn't want to be known solely as the previous Fire Chief.  Because of this, and knowing from my Digital Equipment Corp work days, that there needs to be time to decompress after you leave a job, I decided to seek life after retirement as Fire Chief on a 3 month+ road trip.  

My decision to move forward with retirement now was brought about by winning my appeal against the county retirement board this past June.  It took 2.5 years of formal appeal and another year trying to figure out how to push the issue forward.  Had I not had to fight an uphill appeal I would have retired at least 2 years ago.  As it is, waiting gave me more time towards my retirement service calculation on top of the extra time my appeal gave me. 

Please join me in my travels and what I learn about myself and life on the road.  The trip starts Friday, January 17, 2014.