Along the Natchez Trace

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Material Things

I usually get up during the night and use the bathroom.  We have a Class C motorhome... only 27' long; no slide-outs...  so it's a short walk from the bed, which is over the cab, to the bathroom at the other end of the rig.  No need to turn on any lights as we seem to have an extraordinary amount of various lights dotting the way from one end of the rig to the other.  Small lights...  red, yellow... sometimes blue.  It probably looks like a minature run-way for radio controlled airplanes.

This got me to thinking (here, Bill always says "Oh, No" and rolls his eyes) about the "things" we have acquired over the years.

When we started planning to travel we bought our first cell phone.  It was a little Nokia.  We signed up with AT&T...  had to sign a one year agreement in order to get cheaper service.  It took us a year to find the right motorhome, make our own house "rentable", and to do our research on how to live on the road.  (There were lots of "how-to" books, even 12 years ago..  but looking back, I think some of that advice just hilarious!...  that could be a whole nother blog!)

We both had our own PCs, but thought that one laptop would do us both. 

Off we drove....  2001.... one laptop, one cellphone, and a small camera that used film.  We had one pair of binoculars, and an excessive amount of Field Guides to about everything.

Many places we were, we had no cell phone service.  It wasn't just AT&T, back then even Verizon and the others were sporadic, to say the least.  So we used the computers at libraries for e-mail so we could stay in touch with family.  After a year or so, we learned about Pocketmail and purchased one.  I'd type in my messages, and when we'd get to a payphone, we'd dial a toll-free number and transmit and receive any messages.  This had its limitations...  I'd send short messages and beg my friends and family to NOT send me any jokes, photos, or other lengthy epistles.  (I wonder if Pocketmails are still in use...  how often to you see a workable pay phone these days?)

I think maybe we bought better binoculars (a pair for each of us!) and even bought a spotting scope next.  Both necessary items for amatuer birders....

I can't remember whether it was the XM Radio or the GPS Street Pilot that were our next acquistions.  We were way up in North Dakota...  radio stations hard to find and harder to hang on to when traveling.  Since we didn't have a TV we did rely on a radio for news...  and I really wanted PBS ... Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion were hard to live without. Since XM and Cirius have merged, we sometimes have trouble keeping track of what we can find where...  but the radio was a great enhancement.

Along came the Garmin Street Pilot.  As much as I rant and rave at that bossy woman in there, she's gotten us out of many a mess.

Not too long after that we started geocaching...  I just had to have a hand-held GPS.  We do use them (after I had the first one a couple of years we upgraded to a more sophisticated model) for other things.  Hey...  you can even find your car in a parking lot...  if you remember to put in the coordinates before you leave ;-)

We're at the end of 2005 now...  it's no longer practical to share the laptop.  Time to get a second one.  At this time we have had it with Pocketmail and depending on libraries for internet.  We sign on with Hughes and buy a satellite dish.  Ours is the kind you put on a tripod outside your rig.  Bill is the foreman of this job...  and the laborer...  and the maintenance man.  I know I need to learn how it all works but right now, all I do is get out my trusty GPS and give him the coordinates of our location. He finds the azimuth, elevation etc and does all the setting up.

With the satellite dish we had to buy a modem and a router.

Actually, at this point, we had to buy a tow vehicle to carry all this stuff.  Bill calls our little Scion our "Storage Shed".  (It's also my wine cellar, my bird seed bin and has various other uses besides getting me to the grocery store)

Somewhere in here AT&T told us we either had to get an updated phone or they would discontinue our service.  Enter....  the I Phone.

I think Bill has something else that he uses, but I can't remember what it is...

In 2004 I dropped my camera in a pond... while this was definitely an accident, that incident began my experience with digital cameras.  And bigger lenses..... 

I like games, so bought a Nintendo...  lots of fun while you're waiting around with nothing to read. I needed a better exercise program so we got a Wii...  had to buy a TV since we didn't have one.  We went ahead and bought a DVD player on the chance we'd want to watch movies...  So far the TV has been used only as a monitor for the Wii. 

 We needed external memory for our laptop...  Oh yes, we bought a printer/scanner somewhere in there. 

We have antennas on the roof of the rig...  we have antennas along the cab (the rig came with a CB radio).... 

Now it's 2012.   It sounds like we buy everything coming and going in the electronic field...  but keep in mind that this has been over an eleven year period. 

Nearly all those "material things" that are listed in the above  use....  batteries!  And it doesn't make any difference whether the batteries are external and need charged or you just plug in the whole device....  walking through our rig at night is an experience of its own.  This charger has a red light...  that one a yellow...  the modem has 5 blue lights....  the cell phone glows....  one battery charger starts winking at you when the batteries are charged.

Heck, even the refrigerator has a tiny light to let you know its on...  so does the water pump and the hot water heater.... 

When we started out we had just "the basics".....   But, as time goes on, the basics seem to be complicated.  We could probably do without lots of our "material things", but when I walk through our rig at night, it comes home to me just how many conveniences we've acquired.

That's all for Today......


  1. I started counting all our devices and was bored before I got to "two." We gots lots.

    The Good Luck Duck

  2. The blessings and curses of living in the modern world!! Good post.

  3. ...and to think that living the RV life is simpler.....

    Just BS!(Bob and Sue)

  4. Everything is advertised as cordless, then why do I have a tangle of cords. Although the iPhone can replace several of these things, I still have a lot of gadgets.

  5. He who dies with the most toys (gadgets) wins!