Trip to Independence Missouri and Visit with Full-timers

Independence Missouri is a rather large suburb of Kansas City with a population of 117,000. A couple weeks ago we were looking for a day trip. Karen had never been to the square at Independence. So off we went. What a wonderful day it would turn out to be.

Jackson County Court House – On the Square

Upon arrival in the area I wanted to show Karen the Latter Day Saints Church which is a magnificent building nestled in the heart of Independence. Most people are familiar with the Mormon journey to Utah and that Joseph Smith founded the church in New York.

If you’re not from Kansas City, you may not know the history behind the Mormon journey in that Missouri played a role; all be it not a very proud part. I’ll mention a couple other famous New Yorkers that made a trip to Missouri a little later in this post.

Joseph Smith and his followers moved to Missouri, and later Illinois. The larger part of them went on to Utah with Brigham Young leading. They were met with hatred in Missouri. As I understand it, in 1831 Smith declared the righteous would gather in Independence Missouri to greet the second coming of Christ. Thousands of followers moved to Missouri and the start of a bloody Mormon War would begin. The Missouri governor, believe it or not, issued an extermination order to expel Smith’s followers. The order literally legalized the killing of these settlers. The conflict was proceeded by eviction of the Mormons from Jackson County for which Independence is the county seat.  The order was issued after a clash between Missouri Militia and Mormons north of Kansas City, just miles from Karen’s and my home.  Then Governor Lilburn Boggs declared the Mormons had committed open defiance of the law and were at war with the people of Missouri. They were treated as enemies and driven from the State to Illinois. During the Mormon War Joseph Smith was briefly imprisoned in nearby Liberty Missouri. The jail site is now one of the church’s historic locations and open to the public. As I wrote earlier, this is not a proud part of my State’s history.

Karen was fascinated by the seemingly dozens of smaller churches of varying faiths scattered around the historic Mormon Church area in Independence. She and I had also previously visited a cemetery near where a Mormon battle was fought. Interesting enough, not to tour the Mormon gravesite and monument but to find the resting place of Bloody Bill Anderson. He was a Confederate bushwhacker during the Civil War who was killed, beheaded, dragged through the square in Richmond Missouri and buried in the worst place at the time – which was the Mormon Cemetery – in an unmarked grave. Bad day for Bill to say the least. Of course, the grave was marked by the time we found it. Legend has it Jesse James’ brother Frank marked it and a funeral service was put on by their fellow bushwhacker, Cole Younger, of nearby Lees’ Summit Missouri. At one time, the James and Younger brothers had been at least brief members of Quantrill’s Raiders. Admittedly I might have the order of occurrence wrong in that it may have been Cole that marked the grave and Frank that held the funeral. I digress…

One stop on that weekend was to be the Harry Truman Presidential Library in Independence. But first we found a fantastic pizza restaurant on the square. Figures the name of the establishment is Square Pizza.  Some may find it square that I took a photo of our food, a square pizza with the best ingredients.

Harry Truman became President with the death of Franklin Roosevelt. It’s fun for us to know in the 1948 election, when Truman was elected President, he stayed the night at the Elms Hotel located down the hill from our home. He is known as an Independence Missouri native but was born in Lamar Missouri. Also of interest is that Lamar is the same town Wyatt Earp’s family had moved to from California and Wyatt would become the town’s Constable. Lamar is located a couple hours south of Kansas City.  I digress…

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Truman Library in Independence to me is learning about the total gutting and rebuilding of the White House interior while Truman was in office. The museum had  a collection of photos taken during the re-construction. Truman decided to keep the exterior of the White House in place for historical reasons.

Also of interest was an exact model of the Oval Office set in the time Truman occupied it. I wandered around looking at old photos of Truman in his office, comparing it to the furnishings in the mockup. I must say they got it exactly right to the smallest detail. They even got the book titles correct on the shelves.  It was fascinating to see the President’s reading interests. Several artifacts are from the White House.

One sign told the story of how Truman would work out of the Independence Library nearly every day. He was known to answer the phone if someone was not around to answer it for him, informing the caller that he was the real Harry S. Truman. The museum is like a walk through two generations of American history and includes important displays of Truman’s presidential and personal life with exhibits of Americana spread throughout its two floors. Harry, Bess and daughter are buried in the manicured courtyard.

I’ve known people in my life who met the Trumans. Apparently, his door was open to visitors and he was often seen walking the sidewalks of Independence with a City Police Sargent. Truman was raised as a Master Mason in the same Masonic Lodge I attended in nearby Belton Missouri. An older lodge brother recalled when they built the new Lodge he met Truman at his office (to solicit a donation).  Truman pulled out his checkbook. Truman said one of the greatest achievement of his life was being the Master of the Missouri Masonic Grand Lodge. My lodge brother told me before he left Truman’s office he had a brief talk with the President. The brother had been on a ship at the end of World War II destined for the invasion of the Japanese homeland. He thanked the President for ending the war, by dropping the bomb, thereby saving his life. Truman said he had rarely been thanked by someone personally for that.

I should also point out during the summer, entrance to the library is free to those that served in the military. There is an RV campsite down the road which we did not have a chance to tour.

Karen and I were able to meet up with full-time RVers Fred and Bonnie from New York. They had started a recent trip in St. Louis Missouri and are now following the foot/boat/RV steps of the Louis and Clark Expedition. You can catch a two-part blog post of their visit in Kansas City at HappiLeeRVing.

We had a wonderful time visiting after dinner in Kearney Missouri. The couple had lots of advice and experiences to share. At times Karen would drift into conversation with Bonnie while Fred and I talked about something else. Fred says do this fulltime RV thing before you’re too old to handle the physical part. Bonnie was talking to Karen about clothing at the same time so I did not catch that. I think it had something to do with Fred keeping too many jackets. We talked about trip planning, this trips theme of following Louis and Clark, decision to stick with an RV gas/electric refrigerator, and attending the RV Dreams Rally.

The couple agreed there is much more to see in the Kansas City area than they had imagined. Fred likes to plan stops weeks in advance. When asked how they can force themselves to leave an interesting area before they saw everything, Fred said their attitude is “they will catch it next time.” We talked about planning for stops, how long they stay and how far between moves. We even talked briefly about an exit strategy should they ever want to come off the road.  The couple really seemed happy! That was a joy to see. We finished coffee and headed over to visit Jesse James’ grave where the price of admission was only having to put up with a history lesson by yours truly.

I’ve been busy going over a couple future blog posts in my head. Stay tuned for a few ideas on hobbies while on the road. And a list of items we plan to equip our RV with. Heads up – I’m not sure if it’s the same at your local Walmart but ours has 50% off on Weber Q 1200 grills. I suppose because it’s the end of the season.

Life in Kansas City – Evening Airshow

I had planned to discuss a few changes in the RV industry, specifically for Forest River, that has a potential of causing an effect on the timeliness of RV repairs and certainly response to recall notices. However, Karen and I went out to test her “new eyes” and had some fun. So more on that first.

For the past two years first responders (fire, EMS and police) were invited with their families to an earlier airshow performance at one of our local county airports. Karen had been spending time indoors healing after eye surgery during which cataracts were removed AND she now has corrected vision with her new lens implants. No more eye glasses! Seemed like a good idea to go watch some airplanes as well as spend some time with coworkers and their families after hours.

A special treat was a late evening performance by Team Aeroshell. They fly the North American T-6 Texan trainer which was first built in 1935. These planes were equipped with fascinating lighting systems which added to the thrilling acrobatics taking place in the late evening sky. The planes took off as the sun was going down.

I used our Canon T3 digital DSLR camera to film much of the show. I’ve got zero experience shooting video, nor the proper lens or even a tripod. I gave it a shot anyway.

I found that WordPress allows you to insert YouTube video even if using a free account. This was my first attempt at video editing. As I prefer to use standard Microsoft products, which are bundled in Windows 10, I edited with Movie Maker.

Team Aeroshell finished the show by parking directly in front of the crowd. They spun their planes around in a circle with smoke on. Was a wonderful way to chase bugs off as the smoke covered the crowd. I don’t have a photo of this as there was no point in trying to take one.

 

After the show, I had to take Karen to Sonic for ice cream. A coworker mentioned during the show that he had feed his child ice cream for dinner. Saying Karen loves ice cream is a total understatement of fact.

 


Video by the Gadget Guru about diesel exhaust fluid (D.F.F.)

Family Time in Another Wonderful Missouri Park

I has been a while since my last post. We got busy living life. Our family just completed a four-day campout which was wonderful. More on that later in this post.

Over the past few weeks we finally finished replacing appliances in our kitchen with installation of the new stove. It has a convection oven which is a first for us. Seems silly but Karen and I watched through the glass window as a pan of biscuits cooked evenly in half the time of our previous standard electric stove. She is looking forward to learning to cook in a convection microwave once we get our rig. I know from experience and having talked to contractors who restore homes for sale that fixing up a kitchen and bathrooms adds value to the home at the time of resale. We decided to remodel the kitchen a couple years before we sell the house so we could enjoy it. The appliances should still look good as new by the time we sell, perhaps as early as the spring of 2019. A friend’s family is in the real estate business and says around here they are having trouble getting enough listings to sell. Everything is selling quickly. Hope the market holds out for a while!

Wallace State Park – North of Kansas City Missouri

A couple weeks ago while looking for a day trip to take, we decided to head up the highway about 30 minutes from home to check out a potential RV parking spot for times we return “home” for a longer visit. Friends of ours who have been on the road fulltime for six years split their visits between a local county lake and a state park which we decided to tour. We continue to drive out to all the local RV spots in search of the perfect place to park for a few weeks or a couple of months. This is the 100th year of a special Missouri tax for conservation. We have wonderful state parks because of it. Wallace State Park could be a place we split our time when back home near Kansas City.

Our family got together at Pomme De Terre Lake/State Park in southern Missouri over the holiday. Much of the shoreline camping is flooded from recent heavy rains. So was the first choice for tenting camping. Fortunately, several family members live a short distance away and were able to recon a replacement spot (thanks Matt and Mary). We ended up near the dam at Damsite Campground. All I can say about the camp spot was thank you Mother Nature for flooding the lake. Turns out we had a point on the lake to ourselves in a little-known camp area. The spots were designed for shorter RVs so the tent campers don’t know about it. With the flooding, a circle drive became our beachhead from which we launched our kayaks or fished. Some just sat in chairs watching the skyline and enjoying the weather and I suspect wondering when someone would tip a boat. Karen, myself, sister, nieces and nephews gave our Sea Eagle Fast Track a workout. (Click to enlarge photos)

The girls came up with a menu for each day. Food was brought or purchased from a very reasonably priced, and nearby, store. As the family had booked all the spots that were not underwater in this area, we had one spot just for eating and meeting. Each arm of the family had a spot to themselves. Two family members had RVs while the rest of use enjoyed deluxe tent camping. There was not a dull moment. Games during the day, movies off the side of a RV at night or just sitting around the campfire listening to guitar music to name just a few of the events. A very special event was being witness to a nephew’s baptism in the lake by a minister.

Karen spent a day secretly dropping items around the camp area which were later to be found as an item in the scavenger hunt. But most of the items were provided by nature. I wanted her to put collection of a poisonous snake on the list but was overruled. My nephews would have found them, this I know for sure.

The entire family shared the feeling of reliving our yesteryears when family campouts were setup with our grandparents and parents. There are no words that can describe what the trip meant to each as it’s somewhat spiritual and individual. We all could agree, without talking much about it, that our parents were looking down from heaven. I’d like to think they had a part in pushing the bad thunderstorms around us that came up one night. Seems like we were inside about a mile stretch of a relatively calmer area.

Karen and I took 156 photos. That was not enough to capture the event and all the family. I mined out a few to show the family in this blog and would be happy to email the others. Love you guys. Thank you to the entire family for bringing their special personality and love to the mix. By the way, “look at the size of this snake” turned out to be a wonderful phrase to use in order to get someone to face the camera for a photo. Here are a few of the photos: (Click to enlarge photos)

 


Don’t want to forget to write about it. I spent considerable time researching battery operated lighting for the tent camping event. I highly recommend the Steamlight Siege 44931 LED lantern. I bought the one that operates on D size batteries because it’s the same battery size as my air mattress pump so I have extra batteries if needed. Works great for hanging inside a tent and lasts forever on one set of batteries. Here is a link to the model I bought through Amazon. (I don’t get a kick-back from Amazon, it’s just a good place to point people to the actual model.) The low setting will light a tent and is advertised to last 295 hours on one set of batteries. Glad I left the gas lantern at home because on the bright setting the Steamlight easily replaced it.

During my next post, I’d like to discuss a few changes in the RV industry, specifically for Forest River, that has a potential of causing an effect on the timeliness of RV repairs and certainly response to recall notices. I have also found a couple articles on RV size selection and depreciation schedules I’d like to share.

Truck Research and Snow in KC

Just when you think winter might have shown its face for the last time it snows in Kansas City.  Fortunately, it was beautiful to look at and gone later in the afternoon as the temperature went up.  I’m hoping our plumb trees bear fruit because they have already bloomed and there are a couple freezing nights ahead of us. The boys find a place to hang out when it’s bad outside.

Ringo found a pile of sheets to sleep on because Huck already took up a position on the dog bed.  We also have two cats.

Sylvester appears in the above photo in a typical position after he eats. Sylvester prefers moderate weather and often stays inside when its bad outside. We don’t plan to travel with all these animals in the future. The dogs are getting older so we will have to see who is with us in a couple years.  Sylvester came home with Karen from the veterinarian’s office as an adoption (two years ago). She is looking for a new home for Sylvester which I hope goes well. The dogs love to travel but the cats are used to roaming the acreage outside which is not going to work in an RV.

I spent time inside as well. Finally gathered up all the canning jars, pressure cooker and such to post on Craigslist.  I’m trying to sell off items in larger groups. Next might be the motorcycle, helmets and bike pack. The end of my vegetable growing hobby reminded me of my Uncle Don at about my own age. As I recall, we were standing in his backyard near the base of the stairs leading from his deck and noticed his garden plot was not planted. Don said he stopped planting because it was too much work.  I am like him in a lot of ways. His garden included a watering system therefore so did mine.  Life is a heck of a lot shorter when you think about others who have passed and what they were up to at your own age. No doubt Uncle Don figured out everything he wanted to know about gardening so he moved on to something else. That’s a family trait.

I’ve been hacking away at truck research, adding a new section on the blog to keep my notes. You can find the truck page here.  I stayed up late one night building trucks online to get the base prices. I know what our budget is and am working on finding out the price points each of these monsters come in at. That way it might narrow the search to a model or two from each truck manufacturer that is in line with our budget. These diesel suckers are expensive. I can remember when $10,000 would buy a new Cadillac.

Snap 2017-03-12 at 21.21.52
The starting prices shown include necessary options such as fifth wheel hitch preparation, on-the-fly electronic 4×4, minimum of cloth interior and running boards. The prices include rebates or incentives as of today at the manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP).

It’s interesting to note additional options sometimes come in a package when selected. Such as Chevy/GMC requires you get a spray in bed liner if you select the fifth wheel hitch preparation.  I also found the base price between all the trucks are within about $500 to $720 of one another. Not much of a price difference to be concerned about.

I’m in the process of learning about what options influence the trucks weight capabilities. Hopefully learning what others mean by a “properly equipped truck can handle” a specific fifth wheel weight.  And along the lines of weight. There are a ton of places to consider such as gross cargo weight and rear axle weight where the front of the camper rides over the truck.  There are assumptions that might factor in such as what is the average cargo weight stored in the front of a fifth wheel. And people are posting in forums you can’t always trust the fifth wheel manufactures posted weights. Some are suggesting pin weight is 10 to 20% (update, a couple readers said their pin weight loaded is 19 and 21%) of the total fifth wheel weight. But then again cargo loaded in the rear of the fifth wheel will offset some of the weight in the front when it pushes down on the rear of the camper, like a teeter totter.  So much to learn. I may be sick in the head but I’m enjoying the research.  Those guys over on the truck forums really are proud of their trucks!  Someday I hope to know enough to ask intelligent questions. Give it a try. Go online and build a truck. Watch how the weight capacity changes when you select gear ratio, 4×4 and engine.

Once I get the spreadsheet done I may post a link to it so folks can look it over.  I’m off to start learning about all the optional equipment so I can build one of each truck online and get closer to the actual MSRP with the options we are interested in. What’s cool about building the truck online are the links to similar equipped trucks for sale in the area.

 

new flash  Here is an informative blog post by Hebard’s Travels titled How to Travel with Cats in an RV

Life in Kansas City – Hired a Financial Planner

140530_roadtowealth_savingIn September of 2014 I dusted off an old retirement plan where I had planned on retirement at age 55 which for me is in 2018. I had created that plan in my early 30’s. I’d guess the plan was similar to what many others considered retirement. Everything paid off, a monthly income through pensions and savings that equal what I anticipated would be our monthly expenses.

The idea of what retirement would look like had changed considerably by 2014. I was no longer content to just have everything paid off and an income that just met my monthly bills while living in a small house, in the city, until the day someone pushed dirt over my grave. Karen and I had moved to the north side of Kansas City onto four acres with woods. We loved to garden and created our own oasis with walking trails through the trees lined with garden spots. Life was good other than having now lost both my parents, one to a heart attack and the other through cancer. I’ll not go into that other than to say both taught me a final lesson which influenced my own future.

So, dusting off the old retirement plan including a new meaning of what retirement will be for me.  I’m so lucky to have a wife who is an adventurer. I’m the planner, worrier and the type that must have a plan A,B and C before I’ll make an important move. She is the one with the survival instincts that includes faith that it will all work out even without a plan. I learn from her everyday how good life could be if one just lets it happen. Fortunately, we both like to camp, be outdoors and travel. Neither of us are afraid of big change even if we have different approaches in how we get there.

By 2014 I’d planned to move my retirement date to 2023 or age 59.5. By then there would be no need to work even part-time. We could stay on our property, in our current home and garden – until someone pushed dirt over our graves!

After thinking of the final lesson my parents taught, in 2014 I came up with the idea to travel in an RV after retirement and before we set down permanent roots. Karen was on-board after the first conversation.  Although I work in law enforcement, business was my college major. My father was a cop for over 50 years. We had a talk when I was around 17 years old. He suggested I go to college and get a business degree while working part time as a police officer. Over the years, I’ve owned my own business, worked for a corporation and handled my own financial planning. I’m the type who must have a 100% understanding of what is going on financial to feel comfortable with the plan. In other words, until recently I would not have felt comfortable with someone else investing for me or planning my financial future.

Like many others planning to fulltime in an RV, we moved our start date ahead by a few years. I adjusted the financial plan in anticipation of leaving in 2019. I call it my save and leave early plan. Late last year I took a hard look at the earnings on our retirement investments. I talked to a few people I trusted who were already or nearing retirement. At the time, most of our investments were with Waddell and Reed. I should have done it years ago, but for the first time I compared their rate of returns against just the simple index funds. Waddell and Reed had always done a little better than the “market” when things were good and a little less poorly when the market was down. That had been changing in the last few years as their returns were not up to expectations. I know exactly what our rate of return must be before and after retirement. Over the past ten years, Waddell and Reed had just been clearing that rate of return by less than half a percent. Not good when their funds are expensive to own in terms of what they charge to get into a fund and their annual expense ratio. So, I arranged a couple meetings with our account manager at Waddell and Reed who by chance was also preparing for his own retirement.

Waddell and Reed is a large financial company. They have independently owned branch offices scattered around the country who are affiliated to Waddell and Reed where they can invest in only their mutual funds. I’ve over-simplified that a bit because it’s boring to write about. Anyway, the guy who I’d worked with for years told me he was selling out to a Waddell and Reed corporate executive as part of his retirement succession plan. He wanted me to meet with him and the new owner because I’m one of his “different customers.” By that he meant he wanted the new guy to know he would have to explain every move he made to me in detail and put up with my type A personality.

Fast forward a few months to the point where I’d evaluated my Waddell and Reed account over a 10-year period. I was not satisfied and called the new guy. He asked me to come by their new office which had been moved to a more affluent area of Kansas City (Briarcliff).  I intended to tell him I was moving away from Waddell and Reed. To my amazement, he told me he was doing the same for the exact reasons I was which included Waddell and Reed mutual funds were no longer performing to expectations. Shocking news to say the least. Because the new guy has only had one job since he got out of college more than thirty years ago, and that was with Waddell and Reed where he rose through the ranks to become a devoted executive. He was moving his office to offering financial planning services with investment options to include all forms of investment rather than just Waddell and Reed funds.

I was faced with a decision that for the first time included detailing my financial condition and all investments to someone else to manage. Or simply leave and go to just another mutual fund company. I thought a small test was in order! I handed over my current retirement plan to the new guy expected the salesman side of him to shine which would include him telling me there was no way I was going to be in financial shape to meet our goal to retire early and travel. I thought he would tell me to retire later and give him more money to manage and charge for that management. Turns out he has other clients traveling in RVs. He has learned from them and was excited for us.

The new company is part of LPL Financial.  I told the new guy Karen would be coming to our second meeting because I wanted her to know everything about where our money was kept. That was in case I was hit by a bus and she needed help. I told him if that happens he should expect a call because I only wanted Karen to have to call one person to help with financial considerations in the event of my death rather than all the other account managers where our funds had been scattered to include the bank, Waddell and Reed, credit union and Fidelity Mutual Funds. And eventually the money we keep in savings after selling our home.

I walked out of that meeting with a total sense of relief and for the first time felt comfortable with someone else holding the purse strings. For a control freak like me, that was quite an accomplishment I might add. The new guy has already given me some homework which is to look at structured notes as a place he might put some of the money from the sale of our home. In this case, he would build-in protection of the principle investment. He is also considering structured notes for part of his own retirement savings. I had told him we would like access to the house money in about six years after we retired to an RV which might be a time we would either settle down or stay on the road which is somewhat of a guess. I’ve not finished my homework assignment, nor sold the house, so have not given him the go-ahead with that type of investment. The new guy has already met with the other 12 financial planners in his group to decide which mutual fund investments they are moving clients towards. As our Waddell and Reed account was converted to cash and moved to the new company, he has also yet to invest those funds. He and others think the stock market has generally run-up and may go down in value soon. He is waiting until March to dollar-cost average into the market thinking others have invested early because of expectations in market growth based on the new president’s policy. Neither of us believe in market timing where you take a guess at when the market will be low or high and invest accordingly. It’s just that for the first time in years my account is sitting with all cash needing to be invested so it’s being done wisely and at intervals.

What does all this come down to for me?  For the first time, I’ve hired someone to manage my investments and to trust their opinion. That’s costing me 1.5% of my portfolio annually. And Karen has only one person to call if that bus hits me. And, if we need the income in retirement I’ll simply have to call one person and tell him to set it up based on how much we want each month.

 

In the meantime, we continue to down-size our stuff at home. I’ve been doing a lot of research on trucks and will post about that later. And I had a few internet links of interest I wanted to share with everyone but will do that later as well.

 

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Life in Kansas City – Spending Time at Home

We spent Christmas and New Years at home in Kansas City. Last year we donated our tree to charity. Karen kept her collectable ornaments that includes many hanging Santa Claus figures. She still has not decided to give them up before we hit the road. 

Although Karen did decorate a small tree!  It’s a stick with a broken bulb hanging from it. I lost the photo somewhere.

We got a big dose of Christmas spirit by visiting the Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs. The facility was built in 1937 as a place to bottle and distribute the healing, medicinal mineral waters of Excelsior Springs. It now serves as our City Hall.  Per their website, the city was founded in 1880 on a site where 20 springs were discovered. There are four distinct varieties of water that gives Excelsior Springs the distinction of having the world’s greatest group of mineral waters. The springs include two of the world’s six known iron-manganese springs. We sure are going to miss our wonderful water once we hit the road!

Lined along the walls of the building during the Christmas season are decorated trees. Local businesses and organizations decorate their tree with various themes.

 

 

Karen and I both hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I’ve had a fun time reading about where each of the bloggers I follow spent their holidays. And thank you to my sister Lisa for hosting the family over at her house! That was very special.

Next week I should be posting about the basic fifth wheel floor plans Karen and I have been able to narrow down to during our search.  Our local RV show is next week! It’s like a holiday for me.

Life in Kansas City- Still no Sign of Winter and DRV Introduces Their New Aire Fifth Wheel

Fall weather seems to be stuck in Kansas City. I can’t believe we have not had our first frost for the season. Next weekend the weatherman says that might change. Many area RV campsites shut their water off in mid-October and some even close the park.  It’s been over twenty years ago but I recall one winter where at the time I did not need to winterize our travel trailer.  Wonder if this will be another one of those winters? I spent the weekend getting the yard ready for winter such as mowing down spent wildflowers and cutting the grass short.

sigma-lens-800x582I’ve been taking a few photos using my favorite lens with the Canon EOS Rebel T3I which is the Sigma DC Macro HSM 18-250mm. The range for close to long distances of this lens is awesome for general photo taking and the price is right. I’d love to have the same in an L type lens which has better glass. I just can’t justify the price for how I use a camera. The Sigma lens adds some weight to the camera. I do take quite a few photos on my job at crime scenes. I noticed other agencies I work with are using the Sigma brand lenses. Of course, I did a lot of research before purchasing. Hmm,,,, maybe I can find a one week class for photography given the importance of it at work. Those skills would be nice to have. Although recently I’ve been relying on my cell phone for photos. When I post them to the blog I edit with the free to use Microsoft Photo Gallery and shrink them to a smaller file size so they load quicker in a browser. Smaller file sizes cut the resolution but it’s not a problem unless you plan to later enlarge the photo. I don’t want to waste precious data allowances for those with restrictive mobile data plans by posting full size photo files. One of my favorite blogs for photos is Ingrid’s at Live Laugh RV. She has done a fantastic job of listing what camera equipment she is using.

Sure Does Not Look Like November in Missouri
Views in our yard and hills out the front door

I also took a couple photos of our honey bees. This time of year they can get a little upset when you walk up close because of a lack of nectar sources. Glad to have had the zoom lens. You will notice in one photo where the bee’s wings are caught by the camera. Try that one without a DSLR lens. One of the benefits of a good camera is the quickness of the shutter speed for moving objects.

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On the RV research front I finally got a look online at the all new DRV Aire. I’m hoping the Kansas RV Center will bring theirs to the RV show in January. Here is what they wrote about it: The “Aire” from DRV is a new lighter weight, slightly less expensive version of the Mobile Suite. Cost and weight were reduced by change from tube to I Beam frame, by eliminating the MorRyde IS feature, and by reverting to a 2 1/2″ wall versus the 3 1/2″ wall of the regular Mobile Suite. Walls are laminated, which increases strength. R factor is 11 1/2 versus 13 1/2. Dining table is free standing. The interior cabinetry and features are same or similar to the regular Mobile Suite. Great bathroom with double lavatory. Still has the vanity glide feature and the same full painted exterior. Dry weight reduced to 14,300 lbs, thus only needs “G” range tires versus “H” range. Axles are still 8K and has disc brakes. DRV has designed this trailer so that it’s weight will be compatible with a single wheel truck and even some of the new 3/4 ton trucks.

So far this is the only walkthrough video I could find albeit a very brief one.


A friend at work bought a Heartland Big Horn over a year ago and a neighbor who travels with him traded out his DRV Elite Suite for a newer model. They travel on longer vacations. His Big Horn has been problem free other than the fireplace stopped working. He says the DRV Elite Suite has had a ton of problems. I’ll most likely write up a blog post on the new DRV Aire once I have a chance to see it in person and fully research it. I’ll be most interested in comparing it against the Augusta Ambition, Heartland Landmark and others that appear to be in the Aire price point. DRV somewhat tried this before with the now discontinued Tradition. They are going up against some big boys in this price range.  Good luck to them.

 

new flash Sanibel by Prime Time/Forest River announced significant upgrades to its Sanibel luxury fifth wheel.

new flash Good article by RVer Insurance Exchange for pre-Medicare age. Or better yet, a summary of the article on the Wheelingit Blog.