Posted on September 29th, 2015 by David.B
Hey All…Remember our post on Piper and how it can be used for RV security as long as you have full-time internet access? Well, we had some people ask us what else it may be able to do? In this wireless world, a lot can and is being done in using wireless technology and protocols. For example…Z-Wave is a protocol that is used for home automation for everything from unlocking doors to turning on fountains. Heck, it also can do something as simple as turning on lights. So any device that is Z-Wave enabled, you can control with a master controller or via software and hardware.
So in this case, Piper has Z-Wave built into it. You read that right, you have such power in your hands, via your phone, to control items using Piper. It can even control items based on alarm events such as…Turn on living room lights, or any number of lights, when motion is detected while in “AWAY” mode. So if the alarm goes off, you light everything up and really scare off the intruder.
Piper already has Z-Wave security devices that can be used such as door and window sensors, after all, it was built as an alarm system. But they also have lighting control modules that can be added to the system. In fact they just also released an OUTDOOR ON/OFF controller, which we have added, that can be used for control of any 110V device that needs to be turned on and off that may be outside.
For RV’ers, we found this is a nice addition, for you can add your rope lights to it and be able to control them from wherever you may be or even set timers. (on at 8pm off at 6am). With this holiday season coming up, you can use it for X-Mas lights you may hang. Of course you may find other uses, but the point is, if you have Piper, or are considering one for your RV security, don’t forget it also can be used for automation. It is my bet they will continue to add other security items as well as other automation items along the way. My hope is for a key-fob that can be used to arm and disarm Piper vs needing to use the app. :)
Posted on September 18th, 2015 by David.B
Say Whaaaat!? Yes, it seems we have said a lot over the years. And now it seems we have a lot of new readers as of late…So WELCOME to our life and we are glad you have chosen to ride along. (See what I did there? “ride along”. BOOM…I just blew your mind. Get it? “Ride Along”. As in RV travel. Oh come on, that was funny. Ok, I will stop now.) :)
So, because of the new readers over the last few months or so, we seem to have some questions come up for us that had been covered in past posts that have been very popular. So we would now like to take the time to point you to just a few of our most well received posts. Posts that seem to have been helpful or just popular as far as reads go. (Ok, ok, we will not mention the Winnebago one. They seem to have there own issues these days. And yes, it is STILL one of the top read posts on the site to this day.)
In no particular order…(It seems the tech posts are hot.)
About Us – Yes, I know, this is linked on the top of every page in the menu. It a short “who we are” so you know more about who it is that writes and makes the videos we post here. For some reason, people seem to miss this page and ask us how we got started and what we did.
YouTube Videos – All of our videos are posted on YouTube. From our quadcopter flight videos to videos on products and about our experiences and us. So if you are looking for our videos, the link is at the top of any page.
Making a Better Wi-Fi Connection for Under $100 – Yup, did an entire write and video tutorial on setting up a private Wi-Fi system for your RV that gives you a better chance at making a good connection at RV Parks and resorts even over longer distances.
Satellite TV – Making a right choice – Did you know that if you use a dome type antenna and use DirecTV you cannot get HDTV? You should know and understand this as a lot of coaches and RV’s come with satellite domes. This explains some about it with a video.
TPMS – Tire Pressure Monitoring System – Ok, this one is very important and is a must read and watch as it is VERY IMPORTANT! So if you have not, please do.
Motor Coach Security – We sometimes use products that are made for home use in our motor coach, and this is one of them. Piper, an all in one security product. (Wi-Fi required.)
RING Doorbell – Huh? A doorbell? Yup, not just any ordinary one however. One with a video camera and two-way communication and recording that also runs on battery and uses Wi-Fi.
Complete Tiffin Coach Build – It all started HERE with the order and then went into the complete, day-by-day, experience of the building of our 2014 Tiffin Allegro Bus model 45LP. A lot of information on the building of the coach complete with time lapse videos along the way.
Our RV Summit Interview – On the right side of any page you will find a player where you can play back our 1:13 audio interview. You can learn more about us and what is it like living on the road full time. It includes things you may not have thought about and answers some questions like “how do you get mail?”.
And last but not least…Our LIVE CAM page. It seems some of you like to watch. :) Sometimes we get messages asking us to wave even. So, alas, we try to remember to do so as we walk by. Yup, we have put our life on display using live streaming M7B57 HD web cams from Microseven. And no…we do NOT have inside cameras for public view. And no, we will not add one so stop asking. (Kidding, no one asked.) (Update – 15 mins after posting this…we were just asked to. The answer is still no. :)) On that page is even a GPS tracker showing where we are. So if you are in the area, write us and stop in, or better yet, join us for our Outside Our Bubble get together in Quartzsite this January.
So there, you are all caught up on some of the hot items you may have missed or not known about. :)
Posted on September 13th, 2015 by Brenda.B
With close to two weeks in Vermont, I felt we had seen a lot and done a lot. I did not feel rushed nor did I feel deprived of seeing anything.
One of the premier dairy farms in Vermont, it’s been around since the 1800’s. George Perkins Marsh, Frederick Billings, and Laurance S. Rockefeller, successive residents of the estate were some of the earliest advocates of land stewardship, conservation and ultimately served to start our National Parks System. If it were not for these individuals, we would not have the great National Parks we all enjoy today.
The grounds are immaculately kept; you can tour the barns where they still house the descendants of the Jersey Cows that Frederick Billings imported centuries ago. Just down the street is the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park where you can enjoy more of what these great men left to us. There were lots to see and do on this still working farm and museum.
This still working farm and museum are located in the town of Woodstock, Vermont. Vermont is full of these quaint little towns.
We had a great time exploring a bunch of these small towns. Woodstock, Quechee, Stowe, Waterbury, Randolph, just to name a few. All have their own uniqueness and charm.
In Quechee they have the famous Quechee Gorge. Its claim is the little grand canyon of Vermont.
Well, while it’s no where near the size, awe inspiring hugeness that is the Grand Canyon, but let’s be honest, there really is no comparison, but it was beautiful. It has some nice trails that you can hike. People were down below swimming in the river. But it was just a gorge to me. If we had more time we might have donned our hiking shoes and really dove into the history of the gorge.
But alas, we were on a shopping trip and had a plan. I guess the gorge is one way to get people to go to the shopping area that’s there.
But do we really need an excuse to do more shopping? I think not. Especially since they have a sampling room, and therefore we can buy, the Putney Mountain Wine that we have so fallen in love with.
We also found this awesome mom and pop bakery inside the Quechee Gorge Village. It may not look like your average bakery but let me tell you…
OMG! They had a crumble-topped apple pie that was coming out of the oven in 10 minutes. We bought it before it finished baking. The smells, the pastries, the pies! Oh My!
Best Pie Ever!
And the owner of the bakery was in the kitchen in the back with her helper, making more goodies. A real kitchen, not one of those big commercial sized kitchens. Out of respect for the owner I did not take a picture of her kitchen, as she was embarrassed that it was messy since they were cooking up a storm. I highly recommend that you get a pie if you are in the area.
This Quechee Gorge Village is not a typical place we like to shop. To touristy, but we had to stop for more wine as I mentioned above. We were actually pleasantly surprised by some of the interesting and crafty things we found there. Yes, we did end up buying some gifts other than wine. That we are keeping all to ourselves.
Sorry if I keep going on about this wine but if you are lucky enough to sample some, you will be hooked as well. Sad thing is they don’t ship. So we are savoring what we have.
One of the highlights for the boys on this trip was the Rock of Ages Granite Quarry. At nearly 600 feet deep they believe it to be the largest operating deep-hole, dimension granite quarry in the world. It is over 2 miles to the other side from where we were standing.
The piece that you see above that is being hoisted up from the quarry is actually 30 tons of granite! They say there is enough granite in this quarry to mine for the next 20,000 years. So needless to say we will not be running out of granite anytime soon.
The Rock of Ages Granite Factory, right now is producing mausoleums and memorials. After you view the quarry you can watch the workers produce some amazing pieces of work. These crafters are true artists sculpting each piece by hand after the initial cutting and shaping has been done.
After taking this tour and seeing the factory floor, you certainly will not look at a cemetery the same way again.
No Vermont tour would be complete without a trip to see the Von Trapp Family Lodge. Yes…that Von Trapp family. They made their home here in Stowe, Vermont because the view reminded them of Austria. For some reason when I was exploring this area, I could not get Julie Andrews and “The Hills Are Alive” song out of my head. I can almost see here twirling right there on the hilltop. I dare you to visit this lodge and not think of that.
They have many dining options and packages to stay in the lodge. So if you are looking for something different, other than a campground, you should check this place out. Lots of hiking and biking trails. Skiing, of course, in the winter.
Oh…and while in Stowe, which is another quaint and cute town, you must, must, must visit Laughing Moon Chocolates.
There are many chocolate shops in Vermont but I have to say, these were the best. Hand crafted right there in house. You can watch the chocolate makers every day create such wonderfully delicious delicacies. All you have to do is inhale when you walk in and they have you.
They do ship.
Oh…that could be dangerous.
OK….So there’s a lot we loved about Vermont. Now the one thing that really was a negative for us. One place is a “must see and do” on all the lists of Vermont. That is the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, Vermont. We saved this til the end of our trip because we figured, save the best for last. Everyone says “you have to go”. Well, let me just say, don’t waste your time. (IMHO)
First off, they are a company that does some good things for the community, around the country and the world. They are great charity givers. And lets face it, they do make some good, all be it expensive, ice cream. So the below is only towards the tour.
First, it was super crowded. Ok….it’s Ben and Jerry’s. I get it. Expect crowds. What I did not expect were so many people wandering without a place to sit. They have an ice cream shop there that, of course, was crazy busy, but once you get your ice cream don’t expect to sit down. There are about 7 tables and chairs for the thousands, yes I said thousands, of people that go there every day. Second, the tour was a waste of $4 dollars. There’s really no reason why it could not be a self-guided tour. You watch a 6 minute video that, to be honest, is an old school, 4:3 aspect ratio, looks like it was made for an 80’s after school special type of “movie”. With all the money that they have It really was embarrassing to not put a better foot forward for their customers. We saw a better movie in the Billings Farm and Museum! Heck, even the video, or should I say movie, viewing room was outstanding at Billings Farm.
Then you get led to the “factory”. Really it’s only an overlook and all you really see is the lids going on the pints. Umm….really? I paid $4 bucks for this? Really? That was it? Oh, I am sorry, there is more you get for that $4. So let’s not forget the ice cream sample you get at the end. It’s whatever flavor they are serving that day in a tiny ketchup sized cup that has, by the way, melted because the person serving has to serve 45 samples and therefore the freezer door stays open and all the heat melts the ice cream.
We felt completely ripped off that it cost $4 bucks. Not to mention we had to wait 1.5 hours just to take the tour! We all walked out of there disappointed. So disappointed I didn’t even take a picture of the outside and that is all I could have taken a picture of as you can in the tour. Pictures are not allowed on the tour. With such a good name behind them, they seemed to have gone too corporate (If you did not know, they are owned by Unilever now). I’m sure that if you have kids, they would enjoy it as they have a playground. However, we did not.
Ok, Ok, I am done with that. Again, they do make some good ice cream. And yes, they do some great charity work. But this “Factory Tour” was, for us, a total waist of time. They surely should not be charging for it at all for they surely sell enough ice cream at the walkup windows with a 30 min waiting line to cover it.
Now we have not been ones to frequent chains restaurants and such and this really just reaffirmed it all for us. The lesson we learned is to really give our business to the mom and pop places that need our business and not the corporations. Vermont is certainly not lacking in the mom and pop area.
We truly did love our time in Vermont. We had great friends to explore the state with. We had some down time to relax and we had some good times around the dinner table. Although we only took 12 days to explore Vermont, we felt it was adequate time to see and do everything that we wanted. We can now check Vermont off the list.
Until we run out of that wine! Then another trip may be in order.
In our last post you had seen David’s video on the RV park we stayed at. Well, he was bored and decided to take that footage and, well, add to it. :)
Posted on September 2nd, 2015 by Brenda.B
As you know, we’ve been working hard on the Bott Lott all summer long. Talking to some friends of ours we found out they were heading to Vermont, a mere 6.5 hour drive from us, to explore the area and since Vermont is a state we had not seen as of yet and we had not seen our friends in a little while, we decided to take 12 days and hang out and explore right along with them.
First of all, our friends found Abel Mountain Campground in Braintree, Vermont. It is located right on a small river and centrally located which therefore made a perfect base camp for our day trips around Vermont. Run by a very nice family, they have very large sites, easily accommodating a big rig. Their sites are huge! You really are not on top of your neighbors here. There were however some downfalls that was more or less really Vermont related. They have some lovely sites by the river however, we could not get AT&T nor Verizon cell phones to work down by the waterside even in the WeBoost booster. No satellite tv either as were were too close to the mountain. Their Wi-Fi was ok when we were able to connect but that was spotty. David did try to help them and was able to see it was a combination of Comcast having issues on and off and a bad Wi-Fi access point or two. (The park owner were great and contacted there Wi-Fi “guy” and relayed his information. So we hope the Wi-Fi guy will be able to help them.)
So, we ended up moving our sites up on a hilltop area (which was a little steep climb for a big rig but doable) and we were able to get both AT&T and Verizon working and as a bonus, we were able to get satellite tv up there. LOL, though not sure how. We must have been just crossing over the tip of the mountain. As you can see from the above pictures, our satellite dish is pointing pretty much sideways. It really looked like it was hitting the mountain. Abel Mountain Campground sits between two mountains, therefore, cell service and satellite tv can be tricky. But we know the secret now is to be on the hilltop and also away from the tree line. Once we were set up on the hilltop we were mostly good to go. Just don’t move too far away from the booster when on a call. (Hint…leave phone in the booster and use your bluetooth headset.)
Here’s a video that David did of Abel Mountain Campground. You can really see the size of these sites well.
Side note: After exploring Vermont, we’ve discovered that cell service is spotty everywhere. You see, Vermont is very mountainous. Not the typical out west size mountains, but very hilly in it’s own right. So depending on where you are, you may not have service. Even going down the highway with your phone in a booster. So keep that in mind when looking to go to Vermont.
We had 12 days to explore this countryside. Vermont is very beautiful no matter what time of year you may go. I can totally see why people would be drawn to the area in the fall for leaf peeping season. That would be incredible. We found that this time of year things were not as crowded though.
I had some great days of exploring and shopping with my girlfriend and some days the boys joined us. Because let’s face it, what guy is going to want to go to Basketville? I apologize if that sounds fun to you but to our husband’s, they were more than happy to let us go there by ourselves and leave them to fend for themselves that day.
They were more than happy to part-take in the wine that we brought back from said store however. Yes, Vermont has wineries. This I did not know as I typically don’t think of Vermont as “wine country”. Some of their wines are the typical grape based but others are fruit based and ohhh sooo yummy. Let’s just say that our basement area of our motor home is pretty packed now and I’ll leave it at that ;)
Whats the wine you may ask other than yummy? It is a little place called Putney Mountain Winery and they produce fruit based wines from cranberries, rhubarb, etc.. There is one wine called “Cassis” that is more of a dessert wine that comes in small bottles and is, well, really, really good. The downside, they do not ship and they also produce small quantities. Thus the amount we took back with us. (Let’s just say…by case full after case full.)
Another Vermont staple is the Vermont Country Store. You may remember your mother receiving these catalogs when you were a kid or maybe you still receive them. They were and still are very popular. There are a few locations to choose from. We ended up going to the Weston store as that was on our route after Basketville. The Weston store was a good choice. It was huge! We also planned ahead as it was lunchtime and the Weston location has Mildred’s Dairy Bar. All I have to say is…YUM! This was a great lunch stop. Great grass fed burgers and hand cut fries. Oh my! My girlfriend and I gave this a definite two thumbs up. Oh…and they have really good ice cream too. Not that I would know or anything. Wink wink. Too bad the boys didn’t want to come with us this day. They would have had a great lunch.
No trip to Vermont is complete without going to visit some sugarhouses. What is a sugarhouse you say? Well, it’s a building where maple syrup is produced.
Vermont is the #1 producer of maple syrup in the Unites States. Although maple syrup is not tapped and produced until the late winter and early springtime, you can visit these sugarhouses year round.
I highly recommend that you do. Not only do you learn about the process of producing maple syrup but you also get to taste samples.
Fun Fact: There are 4 distinct classes or grades of maple syrup. Golden Color, Amber Color, Dark Color and Very Dark Color. Some are better for baking and others are better for pancakes and waffles and such. Who knew?! Well I sure didn’t.
In our sugarhouse adventures, we went to three different places. In the taste testing of the maple syrup from each place, it was amazing to me the differences. I never really knew there was such a distinctive difference in flavor. One sugarhouse, Morse Farm, is said to be the oldest sugarhouse around. They bring 200 years experience to the table. Their maple syrup tasted nuttier to me. Not my favorite.
The next was Bragg Farm. They bring 8 generations of producers of this golden goodness. Their syrup had more of a buttery flavor. This is what, I feel, tastes best on pancakes and waffles. Yum! Of course we ended up buying some syrup from Bragg Farm.
Our last visit was to Sugarbush Farms. Located on 550 acres in mid-southern Vermont, they also produce of their own cheese (as many farms in Vermont do). In fact they were the first farm in Vermont to package their cheese in wax for easier transportation without needing refrigeration. The boys were with us on this trip and somehow we ended up buying more syrup and yes, some cheese as well. Humm…I wonder how that happened.
In hopes of not making this post too long (too late, sorry), I am breaking it up into two different posts. So this will be where I end our Vermont adventure for now.
You know the saying…
…Always leave them wanting more.
In this case, I hope you are wanting pancakes and have some great maple syrup to go with them.
I know I certainly do!
Posted on August 21st, 2015 by David.B
We get asked a lot about what we do for security in our motor coach. Well seeing we have full time Wi-Fi and thus access to the Internet all the time, that opens up our choices. Because of this, enter Piper.
Piper is a Wi-Fi enabled home security device with many features that are rolled into one small device. The main feature being a 180 degree HD video camera that keeps an “eye” on things. Get it…. “Eye”? It is because it looks like a big fish eye. But it also monitors the levels of the light, sounds, and motion as well as reports the current temperature and humidity levels.
You can even set modes of operation such as Home Mode and Away Modes, and it can send you alerts via Push, Text, E-Mails and even call you.
Of course all of this is done by an app on your phone or tablet. The app also is what you use to look in your your RV/Coach with real time video and what is used to playback the recorded event videos. You see, when an alert takes place, it will start a recording and send that video off site to a cloud server where it is stored. This is great, then it can be accessed from anywhere and if a thief takes or even smashed the video, hopefully you will still have something. You can also of course download the video to give to the police or insurance company or just use it on social media if you so choose. Hey, you never know, you may catch your dog or cat doing something funny while you were away.
If you so see fit, you can add accessories to Piper such as setting up door and window sensors so that Piper sends you an alert and takes action if there is a security breach. Oh…You can also do automation items for you such as turning of lights or even appliances. Note however, I am not aware of any 12 volt accessories as this device, like the RING Doorbell, was made to be used in a home. So the plug in automation items as 110V items.
BTW…All of this, cloud storage and alert services…well they are FREE. You just buy the Piper.
Now Remember…This is a Wi-Fi enabled device. So it is not much good to you unless you have Wi-Fi in your coach or RV. In cases of using these types of Wi-Fi devices, you are much advised to also be running your own internal Wi-Fi network. You can find more information on that subject in this blog post of ours. This way your devices like the Piper or the Ring Doorbell can always be connected to your own network. In turn, your network is connected to the Internet via the RV parks Wi-Fi or your own HotSpot/JetPack.
So all in all, good things do come in small packages. Not only can you monitor your coach or RV while you are away, even being able to “look in” on it, it will alert you and can be set to even sound an internal 105db siren. If you have pets…I would highly suggest turning off that siren option as 105db inside a confined space is very, very loud. Your pets would not be very happy to say the least.
Like you have come to expect, here is a short video talk I did on Piper…
Piper can be found here on AMAZON.
Posted on August 18th, 2015 by Brenda.B
New York has a very large Steam Engine Association.
The association was formed in 1960 to promote and encourage interest in the operation, ownership and preservation of antique vehicles powered by steam, kerosene or gasoline.
They have over 100 acres of property near Canandaigua, New York and this steam show and tractor pull is put on every year.
The campground owner of Southwoods RV Resort, where our seasonal site is located, enjoys a good tractor pull and he has been to this one several times as it is only an hour from Southwoods. He thought we would enjoy it as we had never been to one and it has a steam engine museum and antique tractors on display. So we decided to get outside our bubble and see what a tractor pull was all about.
First off, the steam engines were pretty cool. The Allis Chalmers Corliss Steam Engine (located in the museum building) in the above left hand picture is pretty interesting. The flywheel is 12-feet in diameter and its calculated weight is about 9.2 tons. To run the engine at full load, a 300-HP boiler is required. The engine’s maximum speed is 150 RPM.
The engine is coupled to a 2300-volt, 60 Hz (cycles per second), three-phase alternator with 50-amp output per phase. A 125-volt, d-c exciter sits behind the alternator and beside the steam engine.
This particular engine and alternator were part of the first electric power house on Mackinac Island in Michigan. The power plant was called the Chippewa unit, where the engine remained in service until about 1948.
I’m sure some of this mechanical info will be interesting to some of you. I however had to copy this info from the museum as my eyes started glazing over when I was starting to read all these facts and figures. It completely went over my head. Mechanically inclined I am not. David on the other hand found it pretty interesting and to see that this particular engine was from Mackinac Island, a place that we have visited, brought it full circle for us.
The tractor pull portion of this event took place in the late afternoon and went on into the night. Luckily our friend Mike was in the first weight class of tractors, so we didn’t have to wait to long to see him pull.
What happens at a tractor pull? Well, there are generally different weight classes. This is how heavy your tractor is. Some tractors are beefier and can pull more. Therefore, there is a scale where everyone gets weighed in and you can add some weights to your tractor if need be. Then you go into whatever weight class you are. There are several, so the tractor pulls can go for hours.
You can see on Mike’s tractor he has some weights hanging off the side of his tractor. This added weight can help with keeping your front end down on the ground. Although, when you get close to the end and your tractor is struggling with the weight it is pulling, that front end is coming off the ground no matter what.
Speaking of the weight, this is all regulated as well. There is a weight on a sled that gets hooked up to your tractor. The weight is also on a pulley system. So with every movement forward, the weight shifts forward and therefore creates more weight pushing down. Therefore, the further you travel on the track, the heavier your load gets and the harder it is to keep going forward.
It can be pretty interesting. However, we are also thankful that our friend was in the early round of pullers. If we had to sit through hours of pulling, I think it might get old. At least for us.
All in all it was an interesting day. We got to learn about steam engines and see some really interesting steam driven tractors that looked like they were right out of a Willy Wonka factory.
And how did our friend Mike do in the tractor pull?
He took first place!