Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Camping At Sugar Shores

We were given one of the largest lots (#FG1) for the weekend, you could fit a 60 footer and a car or our 36 footer and two cars! Simply awesome.

They are calling for storms so I put the awnings up and stowed all of our gear. It’s sunny right now and VERY windy but we are having a blast. We’ve gone for a nice walk and took pictures of lots that are for sale, we can’t buy any of course but one can dream right? So far so good on the RV front, everything works, no leaks no problems, life is good. Smile with tongue out

        Yes, this road is narrow!!!!                    Entering from the West.

IMAG0067 IMAG0069

                           The visitor center, store and offices


              Lot number FG1, absolutely HUGE for this campground.




It’s time to eat breakfast, then we’re going for a long walk and I’ll take more pictures. By the way, all these pictures were taken with my HTC Thunderbolt cell phone. Not perfect but pretty good I think!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How To Play iTunes Music On A Droid & Live Mesh

Since I’m no longer using the iPhone and I have about 15gigs of music available, how to get it to work on my new Thunderbolt Android? Answer, I think, the new Amazon Cloud Drive!

Amazon Cloud

You get 5gigs free and can go up from there, not a bad deal. I’m uploading songs now so we’ll see how well that works.

I also use Microsoft’s Live Mesh which keeps 5 of my computers document folders, Outlook Signatures and Internet Explorer Favorites all synchronized as long as the folder isn’t larger than 5gigs. Not too shabby! Any new documents are now available at any of my computers as long as they are online. The sync happens near instantly.

                   This is what Live Mesh looks like while it’s running.


For full timers with PC cards for internet connectivity this could be a burden on the limits but if you have an unlimited plan, this would work great. Of course one way around it is to find a Starbucks and do the first sync there and let it just keep up with the PC cards going forward. Smile with tongue out

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

HTC Thunderbolt / Blackberry Storm2 Review

                   HTC Thunderbolt          RIM Blackberry Storm2

            HTC-ThunderBolt RIM-BlackBerry-Storm2-9550

Back about 12 years ago I replaced my cell phone every year or so. I had to have the latest and greatest. That was up until I bought a Motorola Star-Tac through Verizon and I was in hog heaven. Crystal clear audio rarely dropped calls, fantastic phone. Jump forward a few years and I start working at a new company and they provide our cell phones.

We switch to T-Mobile and the new fangled cell phone / camera phone arrives and not only does it suck as a cell phone, it sucks at taking pictures as well. So for a few years we plod along with these types of phones until the RazR comes out and it’s the closest thing to the Star-Tac and works great! I used that phone until we decide to move to the Blackberry’s in 2006. I got the 8700 which was a rather large plain phone but I liked that all it did was phone and email, that’s all I needed and I kept it until 3 weeks ago (people who know me can’t believe this fact). The 8700 will last for days on a charge, perfect for business, plus the volume was more than loud enough to hear and the speakerphone is loud and very clear.

iPhone side note - In August of 2008 I bought myself a new iPhone 3G for my personal use and it was ok for everything but what I bought it for. The speaker for the ear piece stunk, music played loud but you can barely hear the person on the other end. The battery life was horrible, a firmware update helped but it was never a phone that could go unplugged for more than half a day and I regretted buying it but enjoyed the apps. In August 2010 I cancelled the service and let it sit, I have an iPad so the phone was useless to me. Know anybody who wants to buy a very mint iPhone 3G? Let me know.

Back to the work phones. We decided at work it was time to replace our aging phones so which one to get? We quickly decided against the iPhone, we knew we wanted to move to Verizon and they would have the iPhone when we changed but didn’t believe it would fit our business. We started looking at Windows phones and a few looked great but we were hoping for a newer version Windows phones to come out and the ones I researched were still down the road a few more months (or more) so we looked at Android phones and saw the HTC Thunderbolt was coming out so we decided to go with a choice between the Blackberry Storm2 and the Thunderbolt.

1 person opted for the Storm2 and the rest of us opted for the HTC Thunderbolt. So we ordered the phones and when they came in I set them up for everybody. The HTC’s came in first, I was very impressed with the packaging but honestly, all these companies would be better off putting the money into the product and not as much into the boxes, just my 2 cents. The phone build quality is very good, the speaker in the back could have been designed better so we’ll see how they hold up considering this is also where they installed the kick stand.

The Thunderbolt’s were easy to adapt into our environment and came with 4G and unlimited data plans, unless you use it for a personal hot spot, then the devices using the hot spot are limited to 2 Gigs per month. Initial impressions were the Thunderbolt smokes the iPhone but like the iPhone the battery life was horrible. The speed these phones have is incredible however, at everything they do, pure unadulterated speed. As for Internet speeds on 4G I’m seeing about 8megs down and 4megs up and latency is very low. Websites load near instantly and apps download and install very fast.

The Storm2 came in last and when I opened it up I was very impressed with the build quality. It feels very solid and looks like a high quality piece of hardware. When I set it up for it’s user I liked it a lot, however it still has that click interface along with touch. Not sure I’m a fan of that but it works well. The other thing is it, like the iPhone only has up to 3G speeds, for some people this is fine but if I’m going to spend premium dollars then I better get some speed! Errr wait, in this case my boss is spending the money, either way, we want the most bang for our, I mean his buck! I say that jokingly but I do try to make sure what ever we buy for the company it’s something that gives the company good value.

The user I gave the Storm2 to likes the interface and the clicking of the screen. She loves it so clearly it was the right choice for her.  The people who got the Thunderbolt’s love them. Mine seemed to be the only one with battery issues (thank God!) but since I got the phone I have done a full reset on it and suddenly a week later the battery life is going from lasting just a few hours even if un-used to going all day, I can’t say I’m complaining about the improvement! It also takes decent pictures and videos so that’s a side benefit.

Remember the picture I took of the ‘03 Travel Supreme? It was with the HTC.


How does the Thunderbolt do with GPS? Glad you asked, it’s AWESOME! Ok, the Google voice for the GPS stinks but I installed the WorldNav product and the side benefit was a voice upgrade, the Google voice still makes itself known but considering how good it works, no complaints! Screen refresh is so fast you can’t tell, everything just moves forward, very nice. It also functions as a GPS for hiking, I’ll be testing that this weekend.

Since we all work from basically everywhere we also got the Verizon MiFi 4G LTE for each person. These provide a hot spot for up to 5 devices and have a 5 Gig per month limit. I’ll see how well the phone and MiFi works this weekend when we go on our short weekend camping trip.

Till then see ya!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

RV Update, Checked Out A Bunch Of 5th Wheels Today

I decided on Monday of last week I wouldn’t call the dealer for updates, I figure when they have an update they’ll call me. No call came so this morning I drove there to check the rig out after the constant rains and high winds this week and to get an update. When I got there and asked for an update I got a blank stare from the guy behind the counter which makes sense since he wasn’t the guy handling my rig, that guy was off today.

Doh, I hadn’t thought of that. Embarrassed smile He looks everything over and from what he could tell they were able to find all the parts to repair our slide topper which is great news BUT, he isn’t 100% sure. So I have to hope my tech guy will actually give me an update since the parts were ordered on the 13th and should not take weeks to show up. I know this place is busy, it’s the start of a new season and as I explained to their tech guy when I was there this morning, I’m not asking it to be fixed right now or even to rush, just communicate.

We plan on going to Sugar Shores RV Resort this coming Friday if the rig is repaired or not. I explained to them that I have a way of locking the slide topper so I’ll just pick it up this Friday and drop it back off on Sunday, pretty much the same kind of thing we had to do for the entire season last year so we’re used to it, we hate being used to it but I feel better about Collier doing the work than the dealer we bought the rig from.

On the lighter side, I checked out a bunch of rigs today and came away very impressed. 5th wheels offer such a nice alternative layout that can really be open and easy to get used to. Montana and Raptor were the models I looked at and they were really nice and the quality was up there.

I also saw a 2008 Monaco Knight 40 SKU diesel pusher that was really nice and had a front kitchen layout that was well executed. If I was is in the market for a Class A this or the Holiday Rambler Imperial I saw last week would have been contenders for sure.

We’re looking forward to going camping next weekend, Sugar Shores RV Resort is our favorite local place to go to. Smile with tongue out Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

RV Show Comment Response To Camping World

pcarr stated: “Thanks for coming when we were not open- Sunday hrs. are 11 am -5pm so our employees can attend church and spend time with their families. Perhaps you would of found the number of cars in the parking lot more to your expectations had you come when we were open. BTW there were more class A's C's B's TT's and FW's (110) inside the facility.”

PCARR, My response is going to seem a little extreme so let me explain why. I have had some pretty lousy experiences with RV dealers so your comment rubs me the wrong way, steps on one of my very last nerves plus you didn’t seem to read my post, you just reacted to what rubbed you the wrong way. Since clearly I’m the consumer side of this equation I don’t have to say things you like. It probably would have been best if you disagreed with me to post some questions asking me why I came to the conclusions I came to and maybe even asked me what time I was there instead of assuming, well, everything.

I digress, back to the point. I had no idea you were closed when I got there at 12:15pm on Sunday, I don’t think the other people there or the employees I saw knew either but thanks for clarifying it. Disappointed smile Did you look at the pictures I took? Does it look closed to you or did I bring those people with me as props to use on my blog. Thinking smile

Click the picture, I know it’s hard to tell, but there are people in the foreground and background. The doors to the rigs are open, my guess and I could be grasping, you were open when I was there.


I had expected more cars there because this was an RV show, Collier RV has similar events on “Sunday’s” and they were packed, on Sunday. I’m not slamming you for not having a lot of people there, I was happy to be able to walk around without bumping into children who have to sit in every drivers seat and jump on everything. I was just surprised by how few people there were, because this was the first time, Sunday or no, that I had gone to an RV show with so few people showing up.

You either have an event, have enough staff there to properly prep/clean the RV’s for prospective buyers or you don’t, simple really. Being a Sunday has nothing to do with it, Church and family time has nothing to do with it (they are of course important, but that’s not the point here). The rigs I saw were anywhere from dirty to filthy and almost every Class A RV I went into smelled bad, except for the HR Imperial, even though it was dirty, the floor mats for the driver and passenger were thrown into the middle of the rig upside down but I looked past that, it’s an awesome rig and washable but it makes you wonder how well it was cared for. I’m guessing many people have to look past things when buying an RV and just going by the blogs I read I know this is true, which is unfortunate but there are only so many places locally to buy from and not everybody is willing to travel to look.

I appreciate the effort it takes to put together an event and I understand why you do it. I don’t doubt it takes quite a bit of money to do it but don’t cop an attitude at me for going to an event on a Sunday, you were, sir or madam, indeed very open for business. However I can fix my mistake by never going to a Camping World again.

I apologize to my blog readers for losing my temper but it’s my blog and if I can’t lose my temper on my own blog where can I do it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lousy Monday… Until It Wasn’t

For some reason I had trouble getting out of the house this morning and it snowed!?!? Everything just seemed to take twice as long as normal. I got out of the house 10 minutes later than usual but got nearly all green lights so I was happy on my way to the train station, that is until the freight train stopped me on Bartlett Rd where the freight trains always wait until rush hour to go through Bartlett. I can usually beat it if I leave on time, if I don’t it’s a crap shoot, maybe 50/50 but there it was, just sitting there, not moving and one lousy train car was still on the tracks and time was slipping by. Finally, after losing 5 minutes I gained back by getting all green lights I was back to 10 minutes behind. No biggie, plenty of time, I pad my commute so this should work out fine. Smile with tongue out

That is, until the school bus in front of me stopped, well another no big deal right? Nope, this bus stopped every block for these teenage kids perfectly capable of meeting at one or two stops, but no, the bus even stops for them if they’re running out of their house. 12 stops we make in 3 blocks and what do these kids do as they plod along care free and not caring that traffic is now backed up for nearly 2 blocks behind me? Why they run back to mommy to get a kiss or grab that lunch they forgot or to wait for that other kid who is walking along as if on her way to the gas chamber. Nearly 14 minutes goes by as we all wait for the future of America to finally load onto the bus 18 times in total (I think, I may be off by a few) for what should have been 3 stops. Hey, you too lazy to get to the bus stop tough, stay home and explain it to the school, but we live in different times now, personal responsibility is so 30 years ago, no place for it in todays society. Annoyed

We’re talking 12 suburban blocks here folks, maybe 3 or 4 houses long per block and these kids get picked up at every single corner or house whichever they feel like. I have to admit, my blood pressure was going at a pretty good clip when I finally saw that bus make a right turn to go the 1/2 mile to the school these kids couldn’t walk to. Seriously, a bus for this commute? Good grief…

I finally get to the train station and the parking machine charges me for 2 days. I begin to wonder if today is the day to go to work, visions of “Final Destination” start going through my head, maybe I should work from home today, nuts, I know better so I get onto the train and the lady that sits across from me one stop down gets on at the Schaumburg station and I explain my commute so far.

Her response, I smashed into my mothers car this morning Disappointed smile…. this is the second time I have done this. Now, mind you this lady is my age so we both get a good laugh at this and this also helps put things into perspective. She has to call her mother when she gets to work and explain to her how she hit her car, again. Her mother is never going to leave her car there again! Guaranteed! Sarcastic smile

The rest of the trip goes smoothly and we have a pleasant conversation until we get into Union Station and the cattle lines aren’t moving. No idea why but we get to stand there for 5 minutes while the train next to us idles at full throttle. Doesn’t matter at this point, I haven’t hit anything, I’m safely in Chicago and what could go wrong from here right? Thankfully nothing did, I made it the 3/4 of a mile walk to work with no issues. Can’t wait to see what Tuesday brings!


By the way, on average my commute each way is 2 hours making for 4 hours of travel each day of the week. Thankfully half is on the train so I can relax.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Camping World RV Show – Sunday 4/17/11

I got to the Lake County Fair Grounds and found the parking lot pretty low on cars. I had expected to see the place swamped. Since it’s Sunday the mandatory 25+mph winds were here, this has become a tradition. Disappointed smile


                  Where to park?? Smile with tongue out                         Looks like a lot of rigs!

       SAM_2098          SAM_2101

The RV’s, all of them, were dirty, a few of them were filthy. The older rigs, didn’t even look they have been cleaned up since they were traded in or however they got them. I realize tomorrow is the last day of this sale/show but if I’m going to show vehicles to sell, at least clean them up so people might have some interest, I’m talking about the interiors, almost all of them smelled bad, even the newer ones. Collier RV does a much better job at presentation than Camping World judging by this show.

                One row of Class A’s                         Second row of Class A’s

       SAM_2102          SAM_2103

                               2006 Winnebago Vectra 40KD $149,995

SAM_2107 SAM_2106 SAM_2105

The star of the show in my view, the 2006 Holiday Rambler Imperial 42PLG, there were other nice rigs, but they were locked or sold so I couldn’t view them. As the owner of a Class A gas rig, I can tell you one big thing I found when walking into other gas rigs and then going into the diesel pushers. When you walk into a gas rig, it settles or rather, leans toward you and it rocks a bit when you get into the main cabin. Step onto the first step, for example this HR Imperial and it doesn’t budge, not even a twitch! AWESOME. I want it! Rolling on the floor laughing

SAM_2108 SAM_2110 SAM_2109

SAM_2111 SAM_2112 SAM_2114

Inside the toilet room there is another sink which is nice, great quality!!

SAM_2115 SAM_2116 SAM_2117

SAM_2118 SAM_2119 SAM_2120

‘06 HR Endeavor 40PDQ, Sold            ‘01, Harney Renegade Sedona, locked

SAM_2121   SAM_2122

2011 Winnebago Adventurer 35P $139,995, unimpressive interior design

SAM_2124 SAM_2125 SAM_2126

         Winnebago Sightseer, sold               ‘07 Coachman Sport Coach – sold

SAM_2133  SAM_2176

2011 Winnebago Vista 30W, $89,995, looks like a good value for the money

SAM_2134 SAM_2136 SAM_2137

                                   ‘07 Allegro Open Road, $67, 995

SAM_2143 SAM_2144 SAM_2146

     ‘06 Georgie Boy Pursuit 3190DS, $57,995, lousy kitchen layout, very tight

SAM_2151 SAM_2152 SAM_2154

  1997 Fleetwood Flair 29V, $14,995, needs a good cleaning but could be nice

SAM_2158 SAM_2159 SAM_2161

2006 Damon Challenger, $59,995, very tight with slides in, HUGE bathroom!

SAM_2164 SAM_2165 SAM_2166

This actually would be rather large inside with the slide out considering how deep it is! This deep slide unfortunately means it has to be out to make the rig useful, this doesn’t bother everybody but it would kill the deal for me. The shower faucet is about a foot from the floor, what were they thinking??

SAM_2167 SAM_2171 SAM_2173

The bedroom is definitely hard to use with the slide in. Look at that wall!

SAM_2174 SAM_2175 SAM_2170

There was a locked ‘03 Travel Supreme going for $89,995, I would have liked to have gotten inside this rig. Interesting graphic on the side.

IMAG0049 IMAG0050

There were several other rigs that I looked at but my camera died so I couldn’t take pictures of them!! My Samsung camera did not hold up in the battery dept.


I learned something about Fourwinds quality today, all of the Class C models had quality like pictured here. Look at this door, it scrapes against the vent!! The picture on the right shows a gap at the edge of the counter, you’d think you could just push it back in right, nope, it’s solid, as if somebody did it on purpose! This got past QC?!? This rig cost $79,995!!!! Really?!?!? Unacceptable, why does the dealer accept this? Disappointed smile

SAM_2201 SAM_2203 SAM_2189

I wanted to take a lot more pictures but had no idea my fully charged camera would last about 50 minutes before giving up the ghost. I actually took the Travel Supreme pictures with my new HTC Thunderbolt cell phone but even that was running low on battery so I needed to conserve it since I need to get work email on it.

I walked around and looked at quite a few 5th Wheels with huge amounts of space. You have to admit, a 5th Wheel can be a great way to go if you have the right truck to pull one around. I looked at a bunch of TT’s and Pop-Up’s as well and the TT’s have some huge slide outs and are also a good option if you have a good truck.

Last were the Pop-Up’s, did you know they are putting big slides in them too?? Wow! I could never go back to a Pop-Up but if I were in my early 20’s again I could see buying one, although now they are pretty pricey! Knowing what I know now, a used Class A is one heck of a way to get the most bang from your buck, but that’s my prejudiced opinion of today so who knows what I would do as a 20 something in 2011, no way to tell.

That’s all folks! I had a good time but wished there were more Class A’s to ogle at. Smile with tongue out