January 18, 2017


Who do you use?


A few weeks ago, our internet service all but stopped working for nearly 2 weeks, I finally figured out it was apparently caused by the solar storms going on, it really made for some quiet days (weeks) since we couldn’t stream anything during that time. Once things got back online for us, it wouldn’t last, last Saturday we enjoyed a rare thunderstorm during January, and I do mean thunderstorm, complete with lots of lightening! We took a direct hit, I was online using my tablet and actually got shocked through my tablet screen, it wasn’t terrible, but it was a surprise, we heard the crackle before the strike and heard the loud boom. We figured we had taken a direct hit but didn’t know for sure until the following day when our friends across the valley told us they saw the lightning hit our place.

Fortunately it didn’t do any damage to us, the SkyCastle is well grounded so most of the energy from the hit went to ground. But the storm did take out our local internet, it was out for the next 3 days, our street was the last one to in the neighborhood to get our internet back up and running.

The first few years we lived off-grid, we didn’t have internet ourselves, our neighbor had satellite internet and I went to his house to check my email about once a week. I knew before we moved out here that my internet options would be very limited so I had shut down quite a bit of my internet activities, shutting down several websites and the such. I hadn’t really gotten into buying online yet and streaming anything was not really going strong yet.

When we found out that an internet company was reviving the old internet towers out in my neighborhood, I jumped at the chance to get back online. I asked lots of questions before signing on the dotted line, mainly about data allowances, if they had any caps, I let them know ahead of time that I was a power user and would be using a lot of data. I was told that would be no problem, I could eat all I wanted at their internet buffet, so I signed up and haven’t looked back since.

Before we moved out of the big city, we had just gotten DSL, I think our speed at the time was in the 3MB range, coming from dial up (56K), that seemed really fast. After getting here, my neighbor’s internet was painfully slow, but it was pretty much the only game in town (before the wireless net was reintroduced out here). I learned that I didn’t want satellite for reasons I’ll explain below.

One question I get asked is how do we get our internet. We use a wireless system, there are antenna towers interspersed in the neighborhood, atop …

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RV's just got futuristic: The Basecamp Airstream

The Open Road: RV Sales Boom

The all-American way to go off the grid is of course with a recreational vehicle – an RV.

Buckle up. Open road. Highway 66. Freedom. Yes mam!

Last week thousands of Americans gathered at Grand Rapids, Michigan for a celebration of this off-piste culture. ‘The Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show’. On the bill were classic RV’s such as the Basecamp Airstream – a small silver travel trailer of just 16 feet long and weighing less than 3,000 pounds equipped with solar energy, shower and toilet- as well as lifestyle gurus Greg & Cori Young and John Holod.

Hungry for travel and adventure,the Young’s sold all their possessions, bought an RV and now live life on the road.To support themselves they found ways to work with their travel and now advise other campers on how to install and utilise solar energy.

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RIVA), RV sales in 2016 were the highest they’ve been in over a decade with 400,000 RV’s sold in 2016. In fact, an estimated 8-9% of US household now own an RV.

John Holod is a documentary maker about all things RV and is best known for work such as ‘Alaska: RV Adventure of a Lifetime’ and ‘The Great Rocky Mountain RV Adventure’.He has travelled over 600,000 miles in various RV’s and was awarded the “Distinguished Achievement in RV Journalism Award” by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.

What both Holod and the Young’s prove is that a life full of movement and travel is entirely possible, and is not exclusively reserved for the rebellious likes of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.

The General Manager of the American RV, Chad Neff, said that due to low interest rates, low fuel prices and high customer confidence RV’s are experiencing a boom in sales (he took over 50 campers to the Grand Rapids show and expects to sell them all).The demographics of his customers range from millennials all the way to retiring baby boomers, all sharing one thing in common- a passion and drive for adventure and a world outside a TV screen.

If the ‘Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show’ shows one thing it’s that living off-grid and on the road is becoming increasingly common- (in American accent) I sure know what I’ll be doing next summer!


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