Nov 20, 2009

As south as it can get

Metric Miles

Monday 11/16/2009 - Alabama is long! I can tell you that! Three hundred and seventy three miles. Speaking of that always reminds me the endless argument I have with my friends – Metric vs. Empiric. Do you know how many feet are in these 373 miles, or yards? For someone who came from a ‘Metric Country’ it was always a mystery to me how come the US didn’t convert, but this is a long story, so don’t get me started now!

image How many units are there for distance in the empiric system? Let’s see: Inch, Foot, Yard, Mile – basic 4. and the ratio is: 12 inches to the foot, 3 feet to the yard, 5,280 feet to the mile.
The unit Lbs has two meanings – volume and weight, and oh – when you read the word Lbs – it is pronounces Pounds… Very simple!
And in the metric system? how many units for distance? one! meter. So what about kilometer you may ask? well Kilo is not a unit, it is just the number 1,000 in Latin. So Kilo Meter is 1,000 meter. Kilo Gram is 1,000 grams, and Kilo Byte is 1,000 bytes.
We were driving one day, and we saw a construction sign that said road work 2,500 feet ahead, and just beside it there was a road sign telling the next exist is 3/4 miles ahead. I asked my friend – should we take this exit to avoid the construction or is the construction after the exit. He said: Hmmm. and that’s all he said.
I have to stop here, coz I can go on and on and fill 3 pages on that topic alone!

Golf by the Gulf

It took us good 8 hours to drive but it was still day light when we got there. We actually got up very early for that. The roads were mostly highways and there was no traffic, so we did not have any problems along the way. For whatever reason, I felt very tired towards the end of the trip (not knowing what is waiting for me).
We approached the Gulf, driving south on Hwy 59, and turned into the narrow peninsula that led us to the camp. The ocean was on both sides and Patti was extremely excited to see the sea. Patti loves sea or ocean. For someone who grew up in Wisconsin, the only water around are in a white powder form most of the year. There many golf courses around this area, and some of them are very fancy. The whole area has a very different relaxing atmosphere with the sounds of the waves and the feel of the breeze.
GulfShores 001 We finally got to our campground. A very small campground for maybe 20 units, but for us that is just a plus! As I mentioned – we like the smaller places, not so crowded, with privacy and peace. The rates at Bay Breeze are based on the distance from the water. The campground is actually on the bay (Mobile Bay), and there are two rows. Those 2 spots by the water are the most expensive. The next 4 on each side are the next layer and the rest are at a lower rate.
Our main concern is Internet. We HAVE to have internet, for work, but I will talk about the Internet shortly. The owner promised us that except for one spot the Internet is good everywhere. Patti chose a spot on the second layer group, three lots away from the water. We were lucky as it turned out, because after only couple days the units between us and the water left, and we had an ocean view from our RV for the rest of out stay.

Mobile Office on the go

How to set up LAN in your RV

This part is somewhat technical, so if you are not into the techy stuff just skip it (continue were it says “Back to Human Language”). It might be helpful for someone else… There some geeks traveling too, they can read it :)
In a normal office settings there is a local network (LAN) that  connects all the computers and printers and everything else inside the office (behind the firewall) and allows resource sharing. This network is connected together using a switch or a hub or wireless access point. On the other side, there is the ‘outside’ world. The Internet. and bad people are living there. (some good ones too). Between the internet and our local network there is a firewall (with lions and crocodiles and bad monsters) that do not let anyone we don’t want getting in. In order to connect the Internet and the LAN we need something that will route the traffic between the specific devices (computers, printers) and the Internet. When a message is coming to my wife from the Internet, it should end up in her computer and not in mine )and more importantly – the other way). So there is a traffic officer in the network called Router that does this work for us. But you probably know all of that, so why am I bothering you?
When on the road, there are few options to be connected, and you need to be able to take advantage of the best option based on the situation you are in.
One source is an Independent direct source – This is a source that allows you to connect to the Internet directly and independently of the campground you are in. The main 2 options are Cellular modem and Satellite.
Cellular modem .
Advantage: They are not so expensive and for approx. $60 a month you can get 5G of data (should be enough) in a decent speed.  They are small and you can use them without any setup. You can take them with you when you travel without your RV.
Disadvantage: Not all areas have high speed signal (3G for example) and in some areas you have no reception at all. We use 2 of those – AT&T and Sprint, and usually we have signal in at least one of them.
Advantage: Just like Satellite TV, the signal is everywhere. Once you set up your antenna you have Internet. The speed is pretty fast – comparable to 3G or EVDO.
Disadvantage: Service is more expensive, and requires a satellite dish to set up.
The other Internet source is coming from the campground itself. Most campgrounds are offering wireless internet. Most of them are just using a simple wireless router, and you are in the same LAN with all the other campers, that can freely go and browse your machine (if they know how). In order to take advantage of this source and sty safe you can simply connect to the wireless network and define it as  a Public network. Your computer will implement its own Firewall, but will not support and resource sharing. Even not with other computers in your RV. This is fine if you have one laptop or don’t need (or want) to share resources.
But what if you have more than one computer and you need a network inside your RV?
so here it is:

How to set up a LAN in your RV and connect to the Internet

The LAN part is pretty simple. All you need is a wireless router. This will allow you to connect all your devices together. Many printers are wireless nowadays, so sharing a printer is not hard either. As an alternative you can connect the printer to one of the LAN ports of the router using a network cable.
On the other side of the router, on the Internet Port, you need a device that will bridge between the wireless network of the campground, and yours, separating the networks and treating the outside network as Internet (outside of the firewall). An example to such bridge is Linksys WET610N. This device is connected to the Internet port of your Router, (for example Linksys WRT160N) and bridges the wireless network. This is where you would usually connect your DSL or Cable modem, except in your case – the internet is coming from wireless source.
When you set up your network, chose a subnet that is not the default, like 192.168.15.x, and give the bridge a static address. for example This will prevent conflicts with the campground router. Most of them just take their router out of the box, connect it to the electricity and turn it on. Even the admin password is open.
imageThere are some routers today that can accept your cellular modem directly and share the cellular internet connection. Use this router together with the bridge you you cover all the scenarios. This is a great plus and provides your internet connection through the same LAN, no matter if the source is the campground WiFi or the cellular modem. The end computers are always connected to the same secured internal LAN.
One example of this router is Linksys WRT54G3G. Just in case you suspect I get commission from Cisco – I am not. I just found they are reliable. If you prefer different brand, Netgear and DigiConnect have similar products.
If you need more detailed instructions on how to set your network – send me a note, and I will help you out!

Back to Human Language

OK, enough with all the weird terms and names. Let’s go back to Bay Breeze, and see what’s up there.
We got a nice spot, and backed up to a double wide lot, with the strict guidance of the resident manager. She was pretty good! Perfect parking by a cement slab just by the ocean. Time to hook up before the sun goes down and it gets too dark.
RV_DamageWe go through our normal routine, and get to the point we need to pull the slide outs. Patti, my wife, is verifying that there are no obstacles inside or out, and pushes the button of the electric motor that take the slider out, but then it got stuck in the middle. In. Out. In. Out. It got stuck. Strange – it worked just fine this morning in Fort Payne. Didn’t have a problem. I go inside the RV and ‘help’ the slide go out. The vinyl cover on top of the slide got stuck in the black rubber seal around it somehow, and when I pushed, it got ripped. The whole side got ripped (see picture). Ugly. Ouch. Not a good start I think. I am not even sure how they are going to fix it. Nothing I can do right now, and our motto is – we won’t let it get to us. It already happened, so bad mood won’t help.  Let’s enjoy the day. I am sure things will get better. Or so I thought.

Remember the tick?

iPhone 001After the RV was hooked up again and everything was ready, Patti and I went outside for a short walk on the beach. The sand was soft and the wind was very pleasant. Small waves just added the ocean sound to the perfect views. Very romantic evening it could have been, but I was exhausted. Couldn’t think of nothing but go to sleep.
Monday 11/17/2009 - The next thing I remember was the morning. No idea if it was  nice day or not. I woke up with a temperature of 103. Holy molly (I am not really sure if Molly was actually Holy, but that’s the saying).  My chest was tight, but other than that no other symptom. The Tick, I thought, looking at the bite mark, that by now was very red with some marks in a circle around it. It has been only couple days, I thought, and I still have 2 weeks of antibiotic, so it must go away soon.

It’s not the tick. It’s the pig!

image I spent the day in bed. All the sides of it. Sleeping and drinking tea with Tylenol. My grandma’s recipe. I was hoping the fever will just go tomorrow, but it didn’t. Instead – It showed me what the problem is. I got each and every sign of those sick pigs (or swine flu in nice words). I got headache and congestion and fever and tight chest… Yuck. We just got here to the Gulf and all I got to see is the bedroom (which is not so big). When I went to the hospital in DeKalb, and waited couple hours – I got a souvenir to carry with me.
This is one advantage of RV living – you are not in the crowd, and as long as we travelled and were to ourselves we were safe, but one visit to the hospital – makes you sick. Which makes you think…

Troubles come in threes

Friday 11/20/2009 – Troubles usually come in group of threes - Let’s count:
As soon as we got here we ripped the vinyl cover of the slide out. That’s one.
I got sick from the moment we came here. – That’s two.
And three? here it is. At the very first day of our trip (10/23) the front storage compartment doors broke from the tailgate. Remember? (If not stop now everything you are doing and read all the blogs from the beginning at least three times. Test tomorrow!). The doors were ordered when we were in VA (Country Waye) and supposed to be here for installation. So I call the shop – RV Collision in Theodore, AL – to get the date the doors should arrive. This way I can schedule my trip. We need to make reservation for campgrounds, hotel and kennel and the sooner we know the dates – the better. I also tell them that I may need the rip fixed. Well, the lady says – “The doors will be late at least a week. The holidays, you know… and the rip – that would be fine. shouldn’t be too bad”. (Remember these words – I am sure I will come back to it later, and ask you if you remember. Don’t make me force you to read all the blogs again!).
At least I know that’s it. I had three – now it will be all good.
and I fall asleep again.

1 comment:

  1. Good information on setting up a RV office. Google Voice IS another option. Thanks for the post.