Saturday, July 14, 2018

Camera Crazy

I added two more cameras to my RV lot, one for the inside of the Airstream and one to keep an eye on the driveway.  I went a little camera crazy. I love the internet.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Turkey Dinner Casserole

Part of my disaster preparedness plan includes storing food in case of an emergency. This means that “prepper” type freeze dried food.  In a previous blog post I suggested you try some of these before you commit to storing it in your kit, because, to put it bluntly, some of the available options taste like dog poo.

After trying several brands I discovered one that I really like.  And by that I mean I’d eat it even if it wasn’t an emergency.  It’s called Mountain House.  They sell these nifty little pouches you add water to and a few minutes later you have a meal.  So far I have purchased two ten-packs of their chili mac.  I love chili mac.  And this one is not gourmet, but it’s not bad either, for a freeze dried food. 

Yesterday I tried their turkey casserole.  Not bad, not bad at all.  Thankfully I now have some variety in my disaster kit.  I’ve ordered several other flavors to try.  But for now, chili mac and turkey casserole are highly recommended. 

Open the pouch, pour 1 1/4 cups of boiling water, stir and wait 5 minutes.  Stir again and wait 4 minutes.  Enjoy.  A pouch makes two servings which I managed to eat by myself in one sitting.  I was stuffed. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

400 By A Hair

It was a tough choice, but I went against my Tim The Toolman Taylor instincts and went with the smaller unit.

The 400 weighs 17 lbs.  the 1000 weighs 40.  Plus it’s cheaper. 

Yes, it has less than half the capacity.  I’d rather buy 2 400s than lug around a 1000.  Plus the solar panel I will need is also smaller.  

Here’s a picture of both models side by side.  The fact that the 400 is smaller will make it more likely I will carry it with me to more places.  I’m hoping I did the right thing...

Monday, July 9, 2018

Decision Time

The 400 or the 1000?  By the time you add the solar panel (a Boulder 100 for the 400 and a Boulder 200 for the 1000) I’m at $900 vs $1700.


Choosing a Solution

I’ve narrowed down my choices to either the Goal Zero 400 Lithium or the 1000 Lithium.  Lithium is a better choice than AGM as the entire charge is usable without damaging the battery.  And the smallest lithium power stations are the 400 and 1000.  The 1400 and 3000 are nice but they are expensive and heavy.  I’m not made out of money and I’m not lugging 100lbs around.

The 400 costs $600 and the 1000 costs $1000.  The 1000 is on the outer limit of what I’d like to carry (40lbs) and it costs $400 more.  But it’s 1000 watt hours vs 400.  I’m not planning on running a ridge or an AC with this, but ideally I’d like to be able to run a fan all night and still have juice to charge my phones.

The 400 is the sweet spot in size and portability.  I’m just not sure 400 watt hours is enough.

And I’m afraid if I buy the 400, I’ll be kicking myself for not buying the 1000 as I run out of juice.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Backup Power

We purchased an inverter generator last year during the hurricane season. We even got to use it one night.  While at the trailer, I’m fairly confident we can weather a storm or power outage of several days.  But I’m not so confident if I’m at home or somewhere else.   I live in a condo, so generators are not allwowed.  So I am looking for a solution where I can recharge my phones and iPads, and perhaps connect a small fan or appliance.

Enter the wonderful (and expensive) world of Goal Zero. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Satellite Phone

Last year during hurricane season we had to evacuate, and cellphone service was spotty.  I decided back then I wanted to buy a satellite phone.  It sounds like a weird thing to want, but I made it a part of my disaster preparedness plan.  

Well, come to find out these things are not cheap.  And selecting one, and the corresponding service plan, is not as easy as I’d thought it would be.  Here is what I learned.  

There are three service providers: Iridium, Globalstar, and Inmarsat.  Not to get too technical, but Iridium has the best global network.  It also has the most expensive phones and plans.  Of course they do. 

Well, I decided that I really didn’t need the phone to work in the north or south poles.  Florida would do.  So I looked at the other two. 

Between Globalstar and Inmarsat, Inmarsat has the cheapest plans to keep the phone “active”.  It’s called a North America plan and it covers, well, North America.  For $25/month you get... 10 minutes. 

10 minutes you say?  What can you do with 10 minutes?  Order a pizza and that’s about it.  After that it’s $1/minute.  Geez. 

Well, I thought about it.  This is not going to replace my cellphone.  This is for an emergency when there is no cellphone service.  So the chance I’ll NEED to use it is slim.  But if I need it, I’ll need it. If it’s an emergency $1/minute is a small price to pay to be able to communicate with someone.  And, after all, isn’t that the point of this exercise?

So having the phone “active” at all times (with minutes that don’t expire) will at least give me the option of making a call in an emergency.  I can add this to my “disaster preparedness” kit and feel better.   For $25/month.  Sigh. 

Inmarsat is the cheapest one out there.  The others are $35 and up.  With similar small minute plans. So don’t plan on calling your buddies and reminiscing about the good old days on this phone.  A quick call to loved ones to let them know you are OK, a quick call to the police or to emergency services.  That’s it. 

So when I went to buy the phone, they had a deal at  If I got the $45/month plan ($50 if I wanted a US based number), they’d sell me the phone for $300 less.  So for $20 more a month for 12 months ($240), they’d discount the phone $300.  After 12 months I can switch to the cheaper monthly plan. 

So I took the bait.   Gets here Monday. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Webcams Part 2

My second attempt was more successful. The Arlo Pro by Netgear works with the Verizon Jetpack. You need an extra piece - a network extender with an Ethernet port.  I already had a Netgear AC750, so I was good to go.  I’m getting two extra cameras because that’s how I roll.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Webcams Part 1

Ever since I kicked Frontier to the curb, I’ve been looking for a remote webcam solution I could use with my Verizon Jetpack.  I got a good deal on these Blink cameras.  Too bad they don’t work with the Jetpack.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Rained Out

It rained all day today, and I decided to sleep in.  All day.  Haven’t done that in a while.  I sleep very comfortably in my Airstream.  Maybe tomorrow will be nice.  I’m going back to bed.

Birdie Friend

We bought Max a (fake) birdie friend.  It lasted a whole five minutes before he lost a body part.

Best Sangria

Some weekends on the way back from our Airstream we stop at a Mexican restaurant called Abuelo’s in Lakeland.  The food is ok. They have, however, the BEST frozen Sangria on the planet.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Boys Weekend

The wife is visiting her family in Miami, so the boys are spending the weekend at the Airstream...

Sunday, June 17, 2018

You Know It’s Hot

When not even the dog wants to leave the (air conditioned) Airstream.

Beat the Heat

It’s June and it’s hot. We got a smaller fan we could take with us.  Still pretty big. Because it’s pretty hot.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

New Throne

My wife installed a new Dometic 320 toilet, replacing the existing 310. The 320 is more like the house toilet.  Me, I watched and supervised...

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Tweaking the Hitch

I moved the L brackets back a bit and I only have a 1/2” rise on the front of the truck now.  I’ll be taking it on another test drive in a couple of weeks.

Airstreams In Da House

In addition to our Airstream, there were two more in our park this weekend.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

First Armada Tow

Hitch A Ride

So after three attempts and $300 in new tools, I’m a Equalizer hitch expert.  We took our Armada/Airstream for a test tow today to a CAT scale.  I’m (barely) below the weight limits, so I’m good to go!

Signal Boosted

We got all our signal bars with a Weboost RV 65 cell phone signal booster.  I’m getting 10-12Mbps on the speed tests.

Now I need to figure where to install this stuff...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

New Tool

So needing to be ready to adjust the hitch further, I needed a torque wrench with 320lbs/ft torque to tighten the hitch bolts.  Preferring technology over brute force, I found a Ryobi impact wrench that does 300lbs/ft and works with the batteries I already own. Close enough.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Boost That Signal

We got the Weboost Connect RV 65 package.  To get an even better signal.  Will definitely be having some fun this weekend.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

New Hotspot

We purchased a Verizon MiFi 7730L hotspot.  We had an old 6620 but this one has all the bells and whistles.  We’ll test it out this weekend.

Welcome Verizon Wireless!

Well, the battle of the wireless providers was short.  Who works at the ranch?


Ok then.  Verizon it is.  We upgraded to the latest iPhone X while we were at it.

And guess what?  They work while we’re at the Airstream. 

Ditched AT&T

Well, after 30 years with AT&T, it was time to give it up. I’ve been generally satisfied with AT&T over the years, but they have no service at the Ranch.  No service as in nothing.  And having given up my land line/DSL, I need a connection to the rest of the world.  

So three iPhones, two iPads and one hotspot switched from AT&T to Verizon today.

So long AT&T!  It was great knowing you.  But I need to be able to use my phone...

Ditched Frontier

Well, today was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  After more than a year putting up with crappy service, we decided to ditch Frontier Communications.  The issues were plenty with both their internet and customer service.  I won’t bore you with the details.  Suffice it to say I’d rather use carrier pigeons than use Frontier.  

So long Frontier.  You will never see a single dime from me.  Ever. 

Hitch Adjusted

I took the hitch to a hitch place and they adjusted it two notches up for me. $15 later I have an adjusted hitch.  We try again this weekend.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Hitch Testing Part 1

I test hitched the Airstream to the Armada today.  The Armada sits 2.5” lower than the Escalade.  So I need to adjust the hitch up 2.5” to remain at the same level as before.  Just did a run around the block.  Next week I’ll take it to have it weighed once I get the hitch adjusted.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

New Prodigy P3 Controller

In anticipation of our first “test trip” with the new Armada tow vehicle, we installed a new Prodigy P3 brake controller.  It was truly plug and play.  The Armada came prewired, but the spot they picked to install it is too low.  I’ll have a hard time reaching the manual control.

Airstream, meet Armada

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New Airstream Hauler

Meet my new Airstream hauler.  Replaced my 2013 Escalade with a 2018 Armada SL. This is the beauty of travel trailers vs. motorhomes.  If the engine gets old, buy a new one.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Pressure Wash Time

It was that time of year to move the Airstream and pressure wash the lot.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Welcome to the Ranch

Tim Allen Would Be Proud

I had a Tim Allen moment yesterday.  I have those a lot. If you recall, Tim Allen played Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor in a popular TV comedy show.  He was famous for wanting everything bigger, more powerful.

Well, I could have gotten a smaller pressure washer, but the Tim Allen in me went “arghh arghh arghh” and I got the bigger one. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Let There Be Light

I bought a pair of these camping lanterns for my emergency pack at home, and had a chance to use them recently.  They’re excellent!  I think the Airstream deserves it’s own pair.

Keeping Our Cool

We’ve decided to upgrade our method for transporting fridge items to and from the Airstream.  Yes, we looked at Yeti coolers.  Aside from being ridiculously expensive, the soft coolers didn’t hold much and would be a pain to store.  We needed something more practical.

Finished Charging

I finished charging the battery I started charging last week.  Takes a few hours.