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Old 12-07-2004, 03:45 PM   #1
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Desperately Seeking Hipster Fulltimers/Advice!

Hello Airstream World!

My name is Susan Quinn and I have a story that sounds nuts to most, but obviously wise to all of you...I've just sold my condo in Seattle. My 25' CCD is coming on 12/20 and me, a whippet and 2 cats are heading off for a life we don't know much about. Yahoooooo! Of course there is expectation and fantasy in this adventure and it will be dashed the first time something screws up...only to be rediscovered maybe the next day, week or month. Yadzooks!


Is there a thorough one-stop list regarding email/wi-fi connections?

Full-timers - I'm single, 41, a hip city dweller and the thought of staying in KOAs (no offense) scares me (really no offense) - are there any of you out there that get what I'm saying and maybe have had the same fear and overcame it or figured out cool alternatives to the McKamp?

Snow - I'm going to travel down I5 and will have to encounter snow - any suggestions? I'll be getting my tow vehicle next week. I'm figuring on a 2001 GMC Yukon. Do I need chains/snowtires?

Generators - Great American RV convinced me solar wasn't really a worthwhile option - they suggest a generator. Any suggestions?

Security - I know the world is a dangerous place, but, and maybe because I come from the NW - a breeding ground for some of the most notorious serial killers, am I safe being out in a park miles off the road? Not to say my glass is half empty, but don't the cops usually find the bodies out in the woods? Can you tell that a) I have lived in the city too long, b) watch way too much Law and Order and c) love a true crime story?

Cats - I love these 2 and can't even dream of leaving them behind. Anyone out there ever put stakes in the ground and attach the kitties to long leashes? Is this wise? Or is it a lure to catch a coyote or racoon - easy prey? Of course I would have them inside at night - or whenever I'm in there...remember I said I love them.

What could you NOT live without on your AS? I am curious to know if there is anything absolutely vital I must bring that I haven't thought of.

Mail forwarding - I've heard of Escapees, but if I really have to make my domicile Texas, I'd rather - well, let's just put it this way - I want to keep Washington State as my domicile. Any suggestions?

If you have read this far, I thank you and look forward to meeting you on the road. I will so GRATEFULLY accept any questions/answers/comments or suggestions....

I am scared and excited - they say there is a fine line between the two (same as sanity and insanity)....


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Old 12-07-2004, 04:34 PM   #2
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Mail forwarding thoughts...

Here are some thoughts that occurred to me about mail forwarding:

It might be that you could sign up for a mail box (and address of course) at one of the mail box types of places (not the US Post Office). I am guessing a bit here but I think you could have them forward mail to you where ever you want. Maybe you could change the forwarding address any time you want by phone or perhaps email. Since these places usually also offer various types of shipping services it would not be too big of a deal for them to package up your email in a box of the appropriate size and ship it where ever you want. Pick a chain store and they might be able to forward it for pickup at an affiliate store in the next town you are going to go through. I think that the US Post office and probably all the major shipping companies will receive parcels for pickup by the addressee without you having to have a specific address for the forwarding.

The other option would be for you to find some trusted relative or friend and have your mail sent care of their address. They would then box it up at periodic intervals and send it on to you by whatever means you agree to. The advantage of having someone you trust help with this is that they could more readily help sort out some of the junk mail. They could also more easily alert you to any really important mail that comes through. We did something like this for several months while I was working a contract job in Arizona. In our case we had the US Post Office hold our mail rather than deliverin it to our house here in Portland. We were able to authorize my father-in-law to pick up our mail from the Post Office which he did once a week. He put the mail in one of the free Post Office priority mail boxes and sent it on to us from the same Post Office where he was picking up our mail. We reimbursed him periodically for his postage costs.

I hope this helps,

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Old 12-07-2004, 04:50 PM   #3
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I have 4 cats. DO NOT TIE OUT CATS. They will probably love the AS and be happy basking in the big windows. Good luck in your travels. I usually parked my AS at the Wal-Mart or the McDonalds, if they were open all night or in a small town. Also I got a weapons permit, took a good gun course, learned how to handle my gun and not be afraid to use it, and took it with me. If you are afraid of guns, forget that last part.
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Old 12-07-2004, 04:53 PM   #4
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Hey Susan,
This is my first post too and I'm about ready to hit the road myself for the first time ever, so I'm certianly no expert. But I've fiddled around with Airstreams a little and I can shed some light on at least one thing.

If you want a generator I believe Honda is the way to go. I have a vintage Globetrotter with no AC, so I have an EU2000. You will need two of these with the connecting cable to run your AC. You could get an EU3000, but I think it would be too heavy for you.

I got the Verizon 5220 PC card for my laptop. It provides wireless internet wherever you go. Major metropolitan areas have broadband service and it's really fast. Rural areas have a slower digital service, but it's still faster than dial-up. In fact, I'm typing this response in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere out on Long Island.

I'm going to try and avoid snow, but if I see any I have a 4x4.

I don't have any four legged pets, only a bird and he's already in LA.

I've lived in NYC for the last 20 years, so I'm sure I will be in for a little culture shock, but I believe that's part of the fun.

I have boondocked some, but never stayed in a campground. I guess I'll figure that out as I go. Some folks say to stay in state parks. Others say to consult something called "Woodalls" directory. I don't have one yet.

I joined Good Sam Club and got their roadside assistance plan. I haven't used them yet, but hear good things about them. I believe they have some kind of campground directory too.

I also got Microsoft Streets & Trips, a GPS program that I run on my laptop. It not only tells you where you are, but what campgrounds are nearby and their phone numbers. Again, I haven't used it yet, but it seems like it will provide some alternatives.

Good Luck, I'm sure you will get some better answers as the night wears on!

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Old 12-07-2004, 05:22 PM   #5
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What worries you about staying at KOAs? I am country-folk now, but I used to live in the city. The further out in the country I get, the happier I am. I have found all the campgrounds we've stayed at to be pretty nice, from state parks to KOAs, but all have their own flavor. No one has bothered us in any way at any of them, and I've never seen anyone I would consider to be a seedy character. They are very quiet at night, and I feel safer in my trailer than I do when we stay in hotels, where things are going on all hours.

I would be more worried about security if I were boondocking alone out on BLM land or something - that's where they uisually hide the bodies

Good luck in your adventure, if you're ever down our way, say hi. I'd recommend you might consider joining the WBCCI. As a member you will be welcomed at rallies around the country as you travel, and can take advantage of courtesy parking at nice people's homes (like ours). Of course, folks on the forum are just as friendly, so watch for forum rallies in the places you're heading too. We had a NW forum rally a couple weekends ago and there were two ladies there doing the same thing as you.

Oh, and welcome to the forum!

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Old 12-07-2004, 06:34 PM   #6
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Mail Forwarding ...

Susan ...

You do not have to domicile in Texas if you use the Escapee mail service. The Texas address is just your mailing address ... if you choose ... and nothing more.

We use it ... it's great ... and we still domicile in California.
WBCCI #3405 ó Escapees #80360

I live the life I love and I love the life I live.
-- Willie Dixon
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Old 12-07-2004, 06:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Lotek
Others say to consult something called "Woodalls" directory. I don't have one yet.
Woodall's is also online and it is easier for me to use than their paper book. You have to sign up but it is free. Click on "Places to RV Camp".

Don't count on their listings 100%, I got burned by 2 of them this summer. One was totaly run down, electric hookups all hanging open, weeds 2 feet tall, only 1 trailer and it looked like it had been there for 20 years. The other had a sign on the crossroad but I never did find the park.

That is a good site to browse also, tons of links.

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Old 12-07-2004, 07:03 PM   #8
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***** Cats and Overnights

Hi Susan;

Well sounds like you are in for an adventure of a life time! And many will envy your courage.

First be cautious (as we all should be) but put your fears away or life will be one big worry.

I figure once your time is up time is up so make the best of the time you have!

If tieing out your cats is not an option - what about a nice lightweight chicken wire pen 5 sided - four on the floor and a roof - that way you can let the cats stretch their legs and sniff in the grass, or make it a big kitty litter if in the sand or dirt.

We will be using one for our dogs but don't require the lid - not jumpers!

Now if you do become a WBCCI member (also recommended - entering our 2nd year) there is a great service that some of the members offer (which is in my mind totally under utilized) called Courtesy Parking. You know you will be safe! Meet some really fantastic people (making life long friends too), have a nice spot to park, and possibly a few more services than what the Wal-mart and MCD's have to offer.

When we start to travel we will definately be accessing this great service - We offer courtesy parking and if we are like the others then we would not offer it unless we were expecting a few calls once and a while.

In fact what a holiday that would be - staying at WBCCI members homes across the country.

Good luck in your travels and if you are every up this way Stoney Lake, Ontario - you be sure to look us up - you can count on being safe in our Driveway - well save the Blackflies in May and a few Mosquitos in the Summer. Be sure to bring your woolies and anti-freeze in the Winter and your camera in the Fall.

Oh yes you might want to harbour your kitty cats inside too - hmmm I wonder why - they would get a great view from the tree top I am sure.
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Old 12-07-2004, 07:43 PM   #9
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Colfax , North Carolina
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Hi, Susan, and welcome to the Forums!

I can tell you a couple of things I have learned.
We have a cat, and he loves being in the trailer (although not the trip to the campground). I would NOT want to put him outside, most cats are happier in their own little kingdom, and putting them outside in new surroundings will unduly stress them.
The dog also should not be a problem, just remember he (she) needs plenty of exercise to stay healthy, this will also help the person exercising the dog in the same way.
There are many state, county and federal campgrounds all over the country, depending on what your plans are for fulltiming, some have rules regarding how long you can stay. It is usually a stay of two weeks at a time. These parks are usually well patrolled by park rangers and contract security. Most I have been in have also a locked gate at 10PM, with residents having a code to get in.
As far as not living without something, I have a couple of blue storage totes that have come in very useful, they can hold extra dry food, seasonal clothing, even dirty clothes 'till you can find a washing machine.
Most campgrounds have 30 amp electric service, but if you feel you have to have a generator, a Honda e2000 would probably be a good bet. They are quiet (about the same volume as someone talking from 25' away) and economical to operate. A gallon of gas seems to last forever. Just be aware that a generator carries its own baggage with it. It requires fuel, and regular maintenance (read oil and applicable filters), with accompanying hazardous waste disposal (used oil) issues. The e2000 will run everything in your trailer except the A/C.
As far as snow tires and chains, I wouldn't get those, but a 10,000# tow strap would be a good investment. If the weather is so bad you require chains and snow tires in order to tow your trailer, you really shouldn't be trying to tow in it anyway.
Good luck, and check back often!
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Old 12-07-2004, 08:08 PM   #10
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Hi Susan,

Welcome to the forum!

I am thinking seriously of doing the same thing as you. Iím single and 43 and have been living in Coeur dí Alene, Idaho for the last eleven years. Although Coeur dí Alene is a beautiful place, Iím getting tired of the snow and depressing gray skies during the winter. So Iím going to sell my house. One big problem is I donít know where I want to live next! So I think fulltiming for a while will be a great way to explore the country fairly quickly without wasting time and energy leasing and moving into (and out of) apartments. If I get tired of a place, Iíll just hitch up and go!! First stopóSOMEWHERE IN ARIZONA!!

- Charlie
2004.5 Dodge 4X4 Quad Cab w/Cummins Turbo Diesel
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Old 12-07-2004, 08:57 PM   #11
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Here is a link to a list of all wireless campsites as of October '04 by state. I think they update it every so often. Have fun

Retirement happens when you get over the illusion of usefullness.
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Old 12-07-2004, 08:58 PM   #12
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Oops but heres the link
Retirement happens when you get over the illusion of usefullness.
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Old 12-08-2004, 05:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by idahosafari

I have been living in Coeur dí Alene, Idaho for the last eleven years. Although Coeur dí Alene is a beautiful place, Iím getting tired of the snow and depressing gray skies during the winter.
all of my friends in sand point have moved to seattle.....what a trade off....snow for rain, once you grow webfeet you can return to idaho and use them for snowshoes.....
Illegitimous noncarborundum(dont let the bastards wear you down)

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if something is too good to be true, its usually gone before i get there-mister boffo
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Old 12-08-2004, 10:23 AM   #14
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Hi Susan,

There are lots of single people travelling about in their silver palaces, and quite a few single women, many of whom will probably jump in here with advice. A couple of thoughts:

Your Tahoe will be fine with the CCD, just make sure it has low enough gears in the rear axle - they are much better for towing and help the vehicle components last longer as they improve cooling and engine leverage over the load (3.73 or 4.10 are best). You can look up the tow rating of any vehicle on the Trailer website and make sure to allow 10-20% margin after taking into consideration the entire load, water at 8lbs/gal, etc.

You shouldn't have to hit snow if you head south from Seattle on I-5 unless you hit the Siskiyous going into Calif during a storm. Or decide to head out the Gorge toward Idaho, or up into the Cascades. You can always go around the Siskiyous by taking 199 south from Grants Pass to Crescent City, then taking 101 south. You can cut back over to I-5 easily on hwy 20 at Clear Lake. Be very careful pulling the trailer in snow, especially if you are not comfortable towing yet. That is a lot of weight being controlled by a tow vehicle on a slippery surface.

On that point, take some time to get used to the rig by camping and pulling locally a bit first, and familiarizing yourself with the setup and hookups. Spending a few days or a week will point out things you need, and driving it shorter distances will help familiarize you with how it feels.

On RV parks. I have never stayed in a KOA - looked at a few and they seemed cramped. I either stay in the higher rated RV parks which generally have very nice facilities (use Trailer Life Directory found in RV stores) or camp in State Park campgrounds which are usually scenic and peaceful, and relatively uncrowded this time of year. RV parks are generally very secure, at least the better ones.

Regarding personal security, use common sense. RV parks will generally be the safest, along with state and national park campgrounds that have rangers onsite and others camping in them. Make sure people see your dog. Never camp in a deserted campground, especially one near a town or regional area where someone may have scoped you out when you came in, or where the youth get bored and look for trouble on weekends. Likewise, camping off a major highway or travel route, unless others are around. Do not even think about a handgun unless you are experienced with guns and know you could use one to defend yourself. Your dog is the best defense and will alert you and others to trouble. Keep your cell phone on and have your keyless remote nearby with a panic button that will set off the car alarm.

Wi-Fi is available in many of the better RV parks, often through RV Access, which is chargeable, and I also use T-Mobile which is at many Starbucks and Borders bookstores, etc. $30-40/month depending on the plan. I am a bit concerned about the security of RV Access and all free wi-fi, due to lack of encryption, so never use it to check my financial accounts. I do that on T-Mobile or a land line.

Good luck and have fun!

Currently living in SE Asia
1971 Safari 23 (sold)
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Old 12-08-2004, 10:43 AM   #15
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Have fun!

Generator - You could search "EU2000" and find all that you need - I've got one, would love to have two to run the AC during the summer, but the one I have is great for recharging those batteries when the furnace is running.

KOA's - we're Seattle folks too...and I never camped before, so I had some tepidation as well during our first NW to CA summer trip, but soon forgot all about that. This season, (winter) the campgrounds are yours. All the KOA's we stayed at were clean and well run. We also liked the state and federal campgrounds that we stayed at as well. You'll find that the private campgrounds tend to be a bit more than the state/federal parks, but occasonally are better "sealed" from the outside. I have used the Foghorn outdoors books to judge campgrounds that we stayed at. I found Woodall's seemed like a paid advertisement book. We also have the AAA RV service and it seems good so far.

Dogs are a good deterent - even a Whippit I'm sure makes some noise, right? I'd forget about the gun idea too (off soapbox now). We always felt safe at night, and didn't see any unsavory characters where we stayed. Just use your common sense... If it seems sketchy, just drive on.
Depending on where you are in Seattle, if you need help, I may be able to assist - just pm if neccessary!
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Old 12-08-2004, 01:08 PM   #16
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Generators - Great American RV convinced me solar wasn't really a worthwhile option - they suggest a generator. Any suggestions?

Just ordered 2 Honda eu20001s and a parallel kit from Mayberry Sales and Service. 1-800-696-1745 free shipping and they were 20% less than my local Honda dealer. The eu2000 is only 47# and is easy to store. I will have the 2nd one only for the A/C.

"Abe" & Melissa Lincoln
1976 Overlander "Spirit"
2005 Suburban w/q-steer
Hensley Hitch
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Old 12-08-2004, 02:51 PM   #17
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Wow! This sounds really cool. I'm glad for you, taking the plunge into the unknown. Selling your condo, retiring early (I assume) and hitting the road on your own (excluding the pets). I think you'll really enjoy your CCD and the freedom it will bring, to go where ever and when ever you want. Best wishes. Don't worry, Airstreamers will help you out along the way.

I'm envious! I do have a 22' CCD, but I'm not a full timer yet, and I don't know if I'll ever be a Hipster.

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Old 12-08-2004, 08:50 PM   #18
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KOA's are not so different...


Welcome to Forum and Adventure-land (Like Disney's only more adrenaline..) No help on cat travels or chains, as we never took ours on road (but did see many cat-walkers with leashes..) nor ever would attempt towing in actual snow..

As for KOA's we've stayed in some of them along with State and County parks, and other Commercial Parks, from Good Sam to Whatever.. They're as different as any group of campgrounds, and we actually have enjoyed many "Ex-KOA's" where owners got tired of franchise commitments and went independent.. (There's a great one just east of I-5 in south Olympia...). Some are spacious, some have slabs side by side, and some attract a very senior crowd, while others attract hordes of very young children being exuberant around the pool.. All are gong to be a few percent more expensive due to high marketing and franchise fees. Bottom line for us is that we've learned to look at Directories in late afternoon, and perhaps make a cell phone call or two ahead to see about availability, and then drive in and look around. About 1/4 of the time, we look at each other and jump back in Suburban and drive on out to the next spot, as our negative hot button is concrete slabs with 40' Motorhomes and slideouts and dual air units humming 5 feet apart in long rows.. We've just concluded that no directory can adequately describe what you should expect, and that we'd rather give ourselves some pre-dark cushion to find an OK place...

I'd second post who downplayed "Woodall" directory, as Good Sam more current and unbiased towards advertisers.. We've also stayed and talked with others who've found the "RV Corner" at local Fairgrounds, and that is reasonable alternative, often including satellite horse racing or other interesting entertainment nearby...

There is also the option (standby for major emotional responses..) of joining/buying into one of the "Membership RV Clubs", like Thousand Trails. My take is that new memberships are rarely good deal due to high marketing costs and pressure tactics, but buying a used membership might be OK, if your plans encompass 2 to 4 weeks at a time in each location, and some flexibility on locations... Snowbirds who want to hop from southern Arizona in winter and upper northwest each summer tend to make that migration pattern pretty crowded.

Honda eu 2000 is the generator to own, but since you'll have to load and unload into Tahoe to run it, that's as big and heavy as you can probably deal with. I'd advise giving up on A/C when away from Commercial campground or hookups. After a while, your holding tanks will fill and it will be time for some hookups anyway..

Courtesy camping in driveways or side yards of WBCCI members is also very inexpensive way to get around, and meet interesting people as well. You'll fill your logbook of stories quicker than you would at remote campsites. Camping solo at remote areas with no other folks around is the security risk to me, in addition to higher potential for trouble if Tahoe or animals need assistance. Seeking companionship of another trailer or MH seems wiser than toting a gun or expecting Whippet to scare off bad guys..

Whichever option you choose, Wally's Creed (Airstream's charismatic founder) says it well.. Follow your dream and seek new adventures!

John McG

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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