New Amazon Fire Tablet for $49.99

New Kindle FireAmazon has introduced a new tablet that will sell for only $49.99.

It has a 7″ display, 8GB of memory, WiFi, front and rear cameras and more. It might not have the specs of a top of the line model but, this is a real tablet for a bargain price.

If you need a cheap tablet or need a back up device, this looks like a good choice to me. I am seriously considering getting one.

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Certified! – As an RV Inspector That Is

NRVIA BadgeToday I completed both tests for certification as an RV inspector. The two tests were Standards and Practices and Technical Knowledge. I finished the training some time ago but was waiting to retire from my regular job to get the certification. Now it is done.

Right now, I don’t have any immediate plans to do inspections for hire but the knowledge I gained will be useful to me and to RVing friends and acquaintances.

 

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Retired!

RetirmentSo, we got back from AirVenture on Monday July 27. I went back to work on the 28th. My group had a lunch for me that day because…this was my last week. Friday July 31st was my last day of work and I spent it working from home – well not working really. I spent the day answering goodbye emails from my associates.

As of August 1st. I am retired!

So far, I love it. I have had no second thoughts and no regrets. I am ready for the next phase of my life.

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AirVenture 2015 – Part 3

Friday – Seaplane Base

Seaplane BaseI hopped a shuttle bus out to the seaplane base Friday morning. It is always much more peaceful out there, away from the crowd at the main show grounds. Still, there were more people there than I have seen on any previous visit. Maybe the word is getting out.

 

Seaplane Operations

There were also more takeoffs and landings than I usually see so that was good. I’m not sure why, but I love watching seaplanes operate. I would like to give it a try someday.

I stayed out there for most of the morning then caught the shuttle back. It was a whole lot hotter out in the open at Whittman Regional. That’s the trouble with airports – no trees big enough to give any shade.

I joined Georgia for lunch at the trailer then went back over. This time I looked through all four of the main exhibit hangers and the Fly Market. That took up a full afternoon and I was ready to get back and relax. I used the Sleepy Hollow golf cart shuttle service to return.

Saturday – Night Airshow

Dronws CageOn Saturday it felt like the show was starting to run down – and so was I. I got a late start on the day and didn’t go over to the grounds until around 10 AM I hung around the drone cage until it was time for a forum on called Getting Started in Quadcoptors presented by Randy Braun. This was a very thorough introduction and well worth my time.

I got lunch on the grounds then shopped around for a while before getting a golf cart back to the trailer. I hung out in the cool for a couple of hours, had dinner then walked back over to flight line for the night airshow.

BlimpI love these after dark shows and this was a good one. The Goodyear blimp put in an appearance at dusk and bowed to the crowd.

Night Show

 

 

 

After dark is when it really gets good. The airplanes light up the sky with pyro and LED lighting.

 

 

 

Even the sailplane of Luca Bertossio was lit up for the night. His graceful sky dance is beautiful during the day but even more so at night.

 

Sunday – Wrap up

Air ShowThe final day of AirVenture 2015 was another warm one. Georgia and I went over to the main gate together to do a little last minute shopping. I was still debating about taking the Yuneec Q500 drone home with me but, in the end, decided not to. It is available on Amazon when I do decide to buy it. For now, I want to do more research – especially about restrictions in my area. It seems more of them are popping up every week. Chicago and most of the suburbs have ordinances on the table.

We got lunch at Buca di Beppo which is a favorite of ours here at home. The tent set-up at the show didn’t to the restaurant justice. I might have been because it was the last day but the choices were very limited and not the best. Still, we were at AirVenture and watching the afternoon air show while we ate!

After lunch we slowly made our way back over to Sleepy Hollow Farm and got started on packing up for the trip home the next day.

Monday – Home

Monday morning we were up early to eat breakfast and finish preparations for the drive home. I emptied the holding tanks one last time then shut off the water. When Georgia was ready inside, I pulled the electrical cord, lifted the stabilizers the backed in to hitch up.

Now we were all hitched a ready to roll but, before I could pull of, a motorhome stopped right in the middle of the road I had to take out of the park. The couple in it was loading a Jeep, golf cart and motorcycle onto a trailer behind it. I don’t know how many times they have done that but it seemed to be taking them forever.

Finally, when it looked like they were almost ready, they both disappeared. Fearing that they had gone inside for lunch, I gave up and pulled out of our space going away from the exit. We drove done a narrow road to another section of the campground where we found room to turn around. The we went back the way we came and were able to go around the still working motorhome couple and get out onto the road. The rest of the trip home was uneventful.

AirVenture 2015This was a very different AirVenture for me. Most years I have my itinerary planned before we even leave home. I watch every airshow and do a few forums every day. This year I only saw a couple airshows, spent more time at the Ultralight Field and a whole lot of time at the drone cage. I enjoyed myself a lot. I took it easy and still saw what I wanted to.

My lesson from this is to play it by ear more and not try to plan too much ahead of time. I think it makes it even more fun!

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AirVenture 2015 – Part 2

Tuesday-  Shopping Day

AirVenture MapI attended two forums on Tuesday.

The first was FAA Section 333 Exemptions presented by Drone Media Group. This FAA exemption deals with using drones commercially in the United States. During the talk I learned that every commercial drone flight requires the UAV to be operated by a licensed pilot. That means even a private pilot like me can be paid for operating a drone. Something to think about.

 

 

Rod Machado

The second forum was one I never miss when I’m at Oshkosh – Hanger Flying with Rod Machado. Rod is a funny guy and a wonderful educator. His talks also point out valuable safety messages. If you get a chance to hear Rod talk, don’t miss it. He is great!

Lunch was back at the trailer where I also rested up for a couple of hours. Then I caught a golf cart (rides kindly provided by Sleepy Hollow Farms) back to the main gate.

 

Drone in the CageI took a walk through a couple of the exhibit hangers but eventually found myself back at the drone cage and the Innovation Center. This would get to be a habit over the rest of the week. I skipped the afternoon airshow to watch the drones. They are just so fascinating.

I shopped around at the booths the various drone vendors had in the center and checked some prices before headed back to the coolness of the Kodiak.

Wednesday – UltralightsUltralight

Wednesday morning I got a golf cart ride over to the bus park then jumped on a tram to take me into the grounds. After a couple tram changes I was at the ultralight field.

When I got there the announcer was telling the crowd that the field, and the whole airport, was closed. I didn’t know why until later when I heard that five people had been injured in a plane crash while landing.

Balloon InflationThe delay ended up being about 2 hours. I used the time to look at the ultralights on display, watch a balloon inflation and just wander around.

I made it to the Ultralite Barn which I hadn’t visited before. It’s mostly just little stuff for sale but it killed some time.

From there I walked back over to the landing strip and got there just about the time the field reopened.

 

 

What I was there for was the short takeoff and landing contest featuring aircraft that compete in a much larger competition in Valdez, Alaska every spring. They do make it short! The winner this year was 44 feet.

After the completion, I took the trams back to the forum area and attended a Seaplane 101 presentation given by Steve Robinson. Another aviation activity I would like to try some day.

I got lunch on the grounds because I wanted to catch a 1 PM forum called Avoiding Unwanted Adventure presented by John and Martha King. Everyone in aviation knows who the Kings are and there talks always draw a standing room only crowd. They didn’t disappoint.

After the forum I found myself back at – you guessed it – the drone cage. This time I saw a demo of the drone that really made up my mind about which one I would like.

Yuneec Q500The Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K is now my choice. It looks great and performs as well or better than any other in it’s price class. I want one.

Thursday – Georgia’s Day

I had promised Georgia that Thursday was her day. Each year there is a quilt show in Oshkosh that is held during AirVenture. Thursday was the day this year.

I dropped her off at the show then went down the street to get some breakfast. After I ate I was going to get a haircut but, while I was waiting, Georgia called and said she was ready to go.

I picked her up and drove her back to the quilt store she visited before. This time I waited outside for her then we had lunch and made another stop at Walmart to restock some groceries. We got back to the trailer fairly early but I decided to pass on going back to the show grounds. It had been hot and dry since we arrived and I welcomed a break in the cool air.

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AirVenture 2015 – Part 1

Pre-show Weekend

AirVenture 2015Georgia and I returned to AirVenture this year after missing last year. We left home the Friday afternoon before opening day and drove the three hours to Sleepy Hollow Farm where we had a water, electric and sewer site reserved. That electricity was welcome when the temperatures reached near 90. Ahhh..air conditioning.

Once the Kodiak was tucked into it’s site and hooked up, we had dinner and started to get everything arranged for our ten day stay.

After a leisurely start, we spent most of Saturday shopping in Oshkosh. We went to Walmart to pick up a few things we needed and for Georgia to shop their fabric section. Walmart stores near us don’t carry fabrics but Wisconsin stores do.

Then we visited a quilting store that Georgia had heard good things about and got some dinner out. On the way back to the trailer we made another stop at Walmart to get some groceries for the week. It was too hot out to leave them in the truck so we couldn’t buy them earlier.

We finished getting the trailer organized in the evening and turned in early.Kodiak Travel Trailer

The Sunday before the big show is a good day to go to the grounds.

We had breakfast in the trailer and didn’t go over to the grounds until about 10 AM. The parking lot is always pretty empty on Sunday so we got up close. This is the only day we would take the truck. Once the show opens the road past Sleepy Hollow to parking becomes one way. We can get to the lot easily but to get back we have to drive way around. It isn’t worth the hassle (or the $10 a day) since we are so close anyway.

We traded our online tickets in for weekly wrist bands and entered the gate. The EAA merchandise tent is right inside so Georgia bought her traditional AirVenture  tee-shirt and pin to commemorate the 2015 event.

We made our way slowly down Celebration Way, which is the main roadway, and stopped near the end for lunch at one of the many food vendors. Then we continued on to the Boeing Plaza.

B52This year, for the first time, a B-52 was on display.  To get it into Whittman Regional the lights had to be removed from the sides of runway 36/18. I wish we had been there to see the landing but it happened before we arrived. Now the giant aircraft was sitting on the plaza. It really is huge!

We explored the grounds a little more to get our bearings then went back to Sleepy Hollow for the evening.

Monday – Opening Day

AirVenture 2015 opened for real on Monday. I was on the grounds by 8 AM with the intention to go to an 8:30 forum on drones and Aviation Gateway Parkaircraft sharing airspace. It was going to be held at the brand new Aviation Gateway Park. This is a new area that will focus on aviation innovation and education.

 

 

 

Aviation Gateway Park dedication

When I got to the location, I found people gathering for a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting. I decide to hang around and see that before the forum. The ribbon was cut by EAA Chairman Jack Pelton and Piper Aircraft CEO Simon Caldecott.

After the ceremony I went into the forum tent but, the drone forum didn’t happen. No one showed up. After 10 minutes or so everyone left.

I walked next door to the innovation pavilion and immediately found a home for the week. ATV Powered ParachuteI would get back here at least once every day. I was fascinated by the displays in there and especially by the drones.The first thing I saw when I walked in though was a very large ATV/Powered Parachute called the SkyRunner that I immediately wanted – until I saw the $120,000 price tag that is. If someone wants to give it to me I would still take it.

One end of the pavilion had bleacher seats that faced out into a drone cage. This was a giant net structure where the drone demos could be flown safely. Right from the first demo flight that morning I was hooked.

DJI InspireI saw three drones fly that first morning and wanted them all. They were the:

  • DJI Inspire – great specs and impressive performance in the demos but the price is a steep for a hobby machine
  • DJI Phantom 3 – a very strong contender
  • Chroma Camera Drone – has some attractive capabilities like Follow Me and SAFE mode that I like

Is there a drone in my future. I was very tempted to take one home with me.

I, reluctantly, left the drone cage to go back to the trailer for lunch. After that,  Georgia went to the grounds with me for the first afternoon airshow.

AirshowHighlights of this first show included the Airbus A350, a Marine Harrier, warbird mass arrivals, glider pilot Luca Bertossio‘s silent and graceful display of aerobatics without power and many more of the world’s top airshow performers.

When the airshow was over we made the trek back to Sleepy Hollow and, after baking in the sun for hours,  the coolness of our cozy trailer felt great.

 

 

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The Beginning is Near!

retirement.01A couple of days ago, I told my boss that I am going to retire! July 31st of this year will be my last work day.

Georgia and I have been talking about retirement for a while now and we made up our minds to do it. It is a life changing decision but one that, while it might be a little scary, can make our life better in many ways.

No more daily commute and no more work stress. Now we will make the decisions about what we do each day – not a boss or work schedule. We will be able to travel more, visit family and friends more, spend more time on hobbies and pursue our own delayed projects.

Because of changes my employer has made recently, I am already well on my way to finishing my retirement checklist. The company ended their pension plan a few years ago but anyone who was already vested was able to keep it.  Now, they are trying to wind it down and so have required us to take a lump sum or start drawing payments by June 1st. I elected the payment option so that is taken care of. They also offer a health insurance reimbursement plan that pays part of the cost of Medicare supplement plans for Georgia and I. The catch is you have to sign up before your 65th birthday with the plan starting in your birth month.  So, as of May 1, I am also on Medicare  and Medicare Advantage.

Since making the retirement decision, I enrolled in Social Security with those payments beginning in August.

The only steps I have left are to complete the separation from my job and roll over my 401k into accounts that will begin paying distributions. Those will get done over the next 90 days.

I’m ready to begin the next exciting phase of life – RETIREMENT!

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Getting Ready for Spring

dishI de-winterized the Kodiak yesterday so it is ready to roll whenever Georgia and I are. I flushed out the antifreeze and sanitized the fresh water tank and lines.

I closed the water heater bypass and opened the tank valves. Then I flushed the water heater tank. There is a piece of paneling that has to come off to get to the water heater. I left it off last fall as a reminder that the tank was bypassed. I reinstalled that too.

We stored the TVs inside over the winter so I remounted those on their swivel brackets. Up until last fall, we had DirectTV at home so we would just take one of the receivers with us when we traveled with the trailer. Now we have switched over to cable in the house so we needed a new satellite solution for the Kodiak.

We decided on the Dish Network VIP 211z because we can turn the service on and off so we are not paying for the winter while the trailer is stored. I still have to hook that up to the dish and turn on the service when we are ready for our first trip.

I still have to put the TireMinder sensors back on and reprogram the monitor. Then we just have to load up and we can go.

 

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Update on RV Inspector Training

NRVIA1As I said in the last post, I have enrolled in the National RV Inspectors Association online training program. I have completed the electrical systems portion of the training and wanted to let you know what I think of the course so far.

The basic course is divided into these modules: Electrical, Propane, Water, Water heater, Furnace, AC, Refrigerator, RV Inspection. There is additional training to cover Small Business Practices, Code of Ethics and Standards of practice. To be certified, you must pass technical and standards/ethics exams.

So far, I have completed the electrical module which is the longest of the technical training modules, It consists of 3 sections with each section divided in 4 or 5 bite size lessons.

I found the training very complete but easy to understand. Mr. Terry Cooper, who narrates the training, does a great job of explaining it all. At the end on each section there is a quiz to check your understanding. I felt confident of my grasp of the subject and did well on the quizzes. That is a result of the excellent training provided.

If you want to become and RV inspector or if you just want to learn more about the systems in your own RV, I highly recommend this course. They offer a free 30 day trial so that you can try the training for yourself before committing to the full course.

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RV Inspector Training

RV InspectorI first heard about the National Recreational Vehicle Inspectors Association on one of the Living the RV Dream podcasts. I looked into the association and the possibility of becoming an RV inspector. Everything I saw sounded good to me.

RV inspection could be a supplemental source of income after I retire or, if I decide against that, at least it will help me be able to diagnose problems with my own trailer. Then I  can fix them myself or save diagnostic time (and my money) by being able to tell the repair shop what I want done.

NRVIA offers a few options for completed the training needed to become a fully certified RV inspector. The first is to complete the online training they makes available to members, pass the exams and then attend an advanced hands on class.

The second option is to attend in person classes for both the basic RV maintenance training and the advanced inspection course.

Finally, there is the option to take the online training and, if I feel I need more hands on work, to follow the second path at that point.

The third choice is the option I decided on, I joined NRVIA and I am working on the online course now. If I decide to go on from there, I will take the RV maintenance course if I feel I still need it or I will go straight to the advanced inspection course if I am comfortable with what I learned online. I felt this option gave the most options and is a relatively inexpensive way to find out if RV inspection is for me.

I will give updates on my progress as I work toward becoming certified. If you would like to learn more about NRVIA and working as an RV inspector, you can get more information at these web sites:

National Recreational Vehicle Inspectors Association – http://nrvia.org/

RV Inspection Connection – https://rvinspection.com/

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