Thursday, September 19, 2013

Random Images from the Upper Peninsula

I'm getting a little behind again so I thought I'd pop up a few images from our time in the UP of Michigan... the first two weeks in September. I think it's plain to see why we like this part of the USA so much.

view from the bus-house
foot dip in the river
some time to chill and let the stresses of this summer go 
looking for an evening snack
a little exploring...
ho-hum... another nice day in the UP.
makes cool evenings a little more tolerable

We've been back in the Beaver Dam Wisconsin area since the 13th and are busy with projects and preparations for Sabbatical II. Should have the camper next week and we're anxious to get it out and spend a few nights aboard.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sept 2 - Sabbatical II Plans Coming Together

During the last year we've been on a quest to get started with the second chapter of our nomadic lifestyle. After talking to many folks along the way about smaller traveling rigs, and discussing our personal needs, wants, and exploring preferences, we narrowed it down to either a Sprinter-based class B van or a truck camper. I've written before about the strengths of each and the reasons we're downsizing so dramatically (here, here, and here) , so I won't repeat it. Let's just say we want to be comfortable, compact, nimble, and not tow anything.

We visited a Sportsmobile plant in Fresno California and saw Sprinter vans being turned into amazing class B travel rigs. We also visited a number of truck camper manufacturers and spent hours inside both pop-top and hardside models... to imagine living and functioning in so small a space. It was all instructive and we could have dragged out this process longer... but eventually we had to make a decision and pull the trigger. So in June we decided on a truck camper and proceeded down that path. While the Sprinter class B van was, and still is, very attractive to us, this decision hinged on price. The van would have cost much more than we were prepared to shell out.

A month of correspondence with Rex at Northstar ensued... back and forth... questions about this and that... answers... what ifs... and more. Rex tolerated us, at least it seemed that way (thanks Rex), until we finally firmed up an order and agreed on a price. The camper we ordered is a hardside unit and I'll talk more about it in a future post. If all goes well the camper should be ready about the middle of September.

Once the camper was on order we stepped up the pace of looking for a truck to mount it on. That process also took about a month while we deliberated about Ford or GM or Dodge, gas or diesel, capacities, and all that. End-of-model-year rebates made this a good time to buy a truck but the selection was somewhat limited... especially for the specific truck we were looking for. In late July we completed the deal for a Ford F-350 SRW (6.2L gas, short box, 4wd). We deliberated long and hard about the gas v. diesel decision but ended up going gas. For the trucks available that met our specs, a diesel would end up costing us almost $10k more. And while a diesel gets better fuel mileage, you can buy a lot of gas for $10k. I was also interested in keeping the cargo weight capacity as high as possible and the higher weight of a diesel engine cuts the load capacity by a few hundred pounds.

So that's where we're at. Have truck... waiting for camper... have motorhome on the market... getting our two mini-apartments ready for occupancy.. And we're both getting very excited to get it all put together and start traveling again.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sept 1 - UPpity for a Couple Weeks

After the rough summer we've had this year we were primed and ready to go somewhere... anywhere. So yesterday, without too much thought or planning, we fired up the bus-house and headed north, into the land of pasties... the UP of Michigan.

The route was all north - US151 to US141 at Green Bay, to MI95 from near Iron Mountain to Camp. Light winds and a few clouds made driving easy and enjoyable. Taking the bus-house on what could be it's last excursion with us aboard added a touch of emotion for us too. Making this a family outing, our little Ford Focus toad made the trip too... following the bus-house like a little lost puppy.

Out of respect for the owner's privacy we strive to keep the precise location of our "Camp" up here in the UP confidential. But I will tell you it's on a lake and the property is surrounded by trees. That oughta' narrow it down for the curious.

We hope to get close to two weeks of R&R in before returning to Beaver Dam for the Fall and all the tasks associated with moving most of our "stuff" from the bus-house to the apartment out at the farm, and then getting the new truck camper prep'd and ready to go. I'm sure we'll also make a few short excursions while we familiarize ourselves with the new rig and make sure all systems are "go". During the next couple weeks I'll write more about all that, as well as fill in a few other gaping holes in the record created by this blog-weary writer's sins of omission.