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  • Let’s Get Physical May 1, 2017

    After over a year on the road full-time and working full-time, even after spending time outdoors, you’ll find that your body could be in a rut. Many campgrounds don’t have gyms, or they do have them but with nominal and/or non-working equipment. When it’s nice out, yay! You can bike, hike, walk, play tennis, run, all outdoors. But if you hit monsoon season, or if you’re in the Pacific Northwest where it rains often (um, every single day), or are in a place colder than you want, you want to find something to do indoors. Outdoor tennis courts run by town parks can be iffy. The last outdoor tennis courts we tried were full of cracks and weeds.

    Tennis, anyone?

    It took us a while to figure it out, which makes no sense because the solution seems SO.SIMPLE. In smaller cities and larger towns, there are always gyms that require you to join. This wouldn’t work for people who are on the road. We didn’t want to shell out bucks for a YMCA as then you are required to find and go to a YMCA. There are national gyms where locations seem pretty vast, but then you realize they expect you to travel 45 minutes just to do 30 minutes on the treadmill. Neither solution worked. But many independent gyms will offer a day pass, a trial week pass or even a monthly pass for one rate.

    We opted to start doing this. We didn’t do it right the first time. We found a great gym in the Vegas area (Lifetime Fitness), went in and signed up. The consultant (Kathy) convinced us to go month-to-month with cancellation at any time. We told her our situation and explained we needed it to be flexible. She stated that there were tons of Lifetime locations through the west coast. She also stated we could put our membership on hold if we wanted. This was fine for a bit. They had amazing indoor tennis courts (the real reason we joined, as Vegas is COLD in the winter) and we enjoyed the tennis while we were there.

    When it came time to put our notice in for a hold, we were promptly told that we needed to provide 30 days notice (this was never mentioned). When we researched locations, they were easily 75 miles away from where we were staying (including major cities like San Francisco were excluded). Also, to put a membership on hold there would be a fee, and it could only be put on hold for a very short time. We opted to cancel our membership outright and complain to management. Then (and only then) were we told we could have also purchased a monthly membership without all these strings. We were shocked about how badly we were misled. Lesson learned: if you want something shorter-term, ask for it and ask to see ALL the plans available, even if not initially offered.

    Most recently we checked gyms in our area and we were lucky – not only did we find a join that had a weekly pass for the nominal fee of $16 each but they also had nice indoor tennis courts. Thornbeckes has three locations and the fees are ridiculously affordable. Because of the weather we’d been having, though, remembering how to play tennis was a problem.

    So this thing. What does it do?

    It’s a stretcher?

    It works in some way. I know it.

    Forget it. Hydration time.

  • Campgrounds 2 April 26, 2017

    So, we’ve told you our tale of our favorite campgrounds here. We loved them all for so many different reasons. Now’s the time to tell you about campgrounds that celebrate mediocrity. Remember when we told you how reviews are subjective here? Well, despite doing the research, sometimes there’s nothing you can do but experience it first-hand. Sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants no matter what the gut tells you.

    Consider this to be the Razzies of GeekRV. The only thing contributing to these rating is our subjective selves. Take it or leave it. Are these the worst campgrounds ever? No, but they fell short based on expectation set by the website or reviews.

    Least Pet FriendlyColumbia River RV Park, Portland OR. As pet owners, we look for parks that are pet friendly. Well, the problem with this is that park owners know that many RVers have pets so call themselves pet friendly. We didn’t learn until we checked in that this park expected you to NOT walk your dogs anywhere in the park but pick them up, trot about a quarter mile out of the park, go across a busy street and go to another park’s enclosed dog park which is basically a small dirt field. Because, you know, that’s logistically realistic. Considering they have little strips of grass (some of which floods), there’s not much they’re saving. There are signs everywhere stating people live here and to not let dogs go on the grass. People live in neighborhoods with houses, too, and as long as you clean up it’s legally something dogs can do. And they give no alternatives or designated areas inside the park, so that means the park is NOT pet-friendly! Besides that, this is a parking-lot type trailer park that claims to be Big Rig friendly as much as they claim to be pet-friendly. Emphasis on claims. Gut check: we stayed here because of location. We wanted to be close. Sometimes it is all about location but sometimes, it just isn’t.

    No dogs allowed (that goes for birds!)

    Worst Connectivity. Southern Oregon RV Park, Central Point OR. There were many things wrong with this park but the thing that stands out the most is connectivity. They are right off of I-5 in a populated area. Jackson County, which runs this park, didn’t put in any wireless because they opted to not install it or they haven’t gotten around to it yet . That said, without wireless, the cellular service was bare minimum (one bar for AT&T and Verizon). We drove a mile down the road and service was great. They are basically in a dead zone. When it rained out, service went from one bar to nothing. And, you know, it never rains in Oregon (insert sarcasm here). Besides the connectivity, security was an issue, had a terrible reservation service, didn’t have an office and camp hosts who seemed missing in action. Gut check: if it appears to be good to be true online, it is too good to be true.

    Biggest Opportunity LostThe Rock RV Park, Rockmart, GA. What a gorgeous piece of land. What a great concept (outdoor concert venue and camping). Amazing views and peaceful (no concerts when we stayed there). That said, that’s the end of it. Loose dogs everywhere (we believe one was the owner’s dog). Most hookups are at the front of the sites so very tough access. The driveway to get to the site is all hills. Most sites had a hill as well. There are low-hanging wires at the entrance, and despite stating they were Big Rig friendly we couldn’t help but scrape these wires (you should be fine if you’re under 12 feet tall, we are 13’5″). The owner assured us he had a pull through for us. Despite having reservations, we showed up without a place to park. Their solution was to park on a big field next to another site where the resident was gone for the weekend and piggyback off of their sewer (which was backed up), electric and water. We were glad it didn’t rain as that field would’ve been tough if it turned to mud. Below is a picture of the property, though, so that’s why we call it the biggest opportunity lost. Imagine if the property was actually meant for RVs! Gut check: this was an available park on a holiday weekend when everything else was booked. The biggest upside was the beauty. 

    The Rock music hall

    Are You Willing to Testify Under Oath? Forsyth KOA, Forsyth GA. We called the office to ensure they are Big Rig friendly. We explained our size and class. They said “Oh yes!” People lie. The “paved” roads are torn apart. The turns are not just tight but nearly impossible (doable, but not fun). We were placed on the bottom of a steep hill. We had a pull-through site that was extremely unlevel with a hurricane ditch across us. They placed us in the middle of the row which was raised and had a ditch on either side of the pad. Pulling out of that deathtrap was nerve-wracking. Less experienced drivers or someone not paying attention would’ve destroyed their rig. Gut check: The reviews stated this park wasn’t Big Rig friendly. We called to verify and they said they were. Sometimes you need to believe what you read.

    You Never Actually Visited, Did You? Newport Dunes, Newport Beach CA. A certain blog rated this park as one of “16 top RV parks to stay when money is no object”. Um, yeah. We suspect the people who wrote this article never actually visited, and if they did, they’re blind. What they forgot to mention was whether the park was actually decent or not. It was the most expensive park we’d ever stayed (this is saying something) but it seemed kind of like a dump. The only thing about this park is the view. If you get a bay-side spot, you’ll have a view. That really is the only thing this place has going for it. The spots are not only extremely tight, but there’s barbed fencing on either side of your site which makes it even more tight. If you do not have a bayside site, you will not fit if you are a big rig. Many people had fires and kids playing in the street because the sites were small. The only reason we fit length-wise was because we didn’t have a tree in front of us so we jutted out in front. There were a ton of issues with water to and from the sites. They turned it off for a day (okay, that happens). It then was turned back on. The next day, they had to shut the water off again. Before all that happened, they told the site next to us to use our water since theirs wasn’t working. Gut check: we wanted to stay in Newport Beach more than we wanted to believe the mixed reviews. Believe the bad reviews.

    But the view is nice

    So the mantra when trying to decide where to stay? Do your research, trust your gut. Do your research, trust your gut. Say it with us now…

  • Rise up! April 24, 2017

    Our lovely Nala kitty loved sleeping in the booth of the RV. We suspect it was corner buttery feel of the booth itself, but who knows. That was kind of the problem – she was the only one who chose to use it. Chris used it as a desk but it was out of necessity than want. We had to face the fact that other than a “cat sleeping area” it wasn’t functional. When we tried eating at it, we knocked knees and the surface was too small. So no, not functional at all.

    Booth Before

    After months of research, we opted to install a desk that would work for us. It made sense. We work from home and it could function as an additional seating area. We used that area as a desk anyhow.

    After planning, we found a carpenter who also did the woodworking for the RV resort where we were staying for the winter. Ron Gatchell listened to what we wanted and immediately drew up plans. He was a month out of being able to start so we gathered parts over time including the computer itself. So what were the basics? Well, a computer of course. A place for laptops. A place for a large monitor. A place for a keyboard. A place for wires.

    The desk drawers would take care of the majority of these items, with exception of the monitor. Hmmmm. A 34 inch monitor is not something you can shove in the closet and we wanted it to be semi-permanent, as we already had two TVs in that area. We didn’t want a permanent third but wanted it to be convenient for us. After some research we found Nexus 21 Concealment Systems. They largely specialize in boats but were very interested in working with us on the RV. They were very helpful with any and all questions they had. Their contribution to the desk is, quite honesty, the coolest. Just you wait!

    So with the vital items in hand and with the help of Michael Kidd (of Coach Proxy and Vegas Envy), we removed the booth. As for the darker area on the carpet, judge not lest ye be judged.

    Blank slate

    Installing the lift took some time. See, you need to make very small adjustments so the lift doesn’t knock the monitor into the box window valance. It could get ugly otherwise.

    The Lift, with creative solutioning

    Meanwhile, Ron worked on the desk and top. He had a few cutouts – one for the monitor and a couple for the wires/plugs. The monitor cutout was tricky because it wasn’t just a hole. It needed to lift when the monitor pushed through and had to close after the monitor was put away. We also had two small circular cutouts for electrical and USB hubs.

    Top with cutout for monitor

    When Ron installed the box part of the desk, we realized the other thing we miscalculated was the height of the desk. The height, even with the chair lifted all the way up, was still too high so elbows were hurting. This was our miscalculation but Ron was very reasonable and quick in getting the height just an inch lower. It took him an hour.

    This is the final product.

    Desk After Install

    And no desk is complete without a chair.

    Desk with chair

    But wait, there’s more! Where’s the monitor, you ask? Remember the picture of the cutout of the top? Also, remember the picture of the lift? They are combined. Now don’t be ashamed if you sound like those aliens from Toy Story about to see The Claw. You will join us and we can be aliens together. Or perhaps we are Gene Wilder from Young Frankenstein exclaiming “It’s alive!”

    Ready? Rise, monitor! Rise! Rise from nowhere! Rise to fulfill your destiny! (Also, while you’re doing that, go back down to sleep. Do both.)

    Recap of people, services and solutions:
    Desk: Ron Gatchell
    Lift: Nexus 21 Concealment Systems
    Amazon purchases: In-Desk USB Hub
    In-Desk Electric Multiport Hub