This article comes to you from a Winnebago motor home in a campground in South Carolina, near the Georgia state line.
I travel often, as has been mentioned before in this newsletter. However, this week I am trying something new: travel in a Winnebago motor home. If it works, I expect to spend a lot more time living in the motor home. In short, I will become a genealogy researcher "on the road."
The primary purposes of this 8-day "shakedown cruise" are:
- To see if I can survive on board a motor home
- To see if I can read and write email and post new articles to this newsletter wherever I am
- To see if I can carry on a "normal life" while traveling
If the experiments are successful in the next few months, I expect to move into the motor home full time early next year. I hope to live in the motor home six to eight months per year, moving back into the house only in the summer months.
So far, in the first three days, the experiment has been a success. I am traveling with a MacBook Air two-and-a-half-pound laptop computer, a Samsung Chromebook laptop with built-in 3G wireless Verizon networking, an Apple iPhone cell phone that includes wireless tethering via AT&T's cell phone network, and a Sprint wireless 4G/3G wireless card. With three different wireless networks available plus normal wi-fi, I should be able to connect to the outside world!
In fact, the "experiment" has been a success so far. However, having multiple networks available has proven to be beneficial. From some campgrounds, Sprint has delivered a very weak signal while AT&T has delivered strong signals. From other campgrounds, the exact opposite has been true. After three days on the road, I cannot claim that any one company provides "the best" wireless networking along the east coast. Perhaps I can tell after a bit more experimentation.
Along the way, I have learned many new facts. For one, motor home living requires a very compact lifestyle! It isn't practical to bring everything in the motor home as there isn't enough room! Everything is "downsized." I have learned to boil water in the wok. A wok is a necessary cooking utensil for my lifestyle but I have learned to give up the teakettle. I have also learned that I don't need as many clothes as I am used to keeping in the closet. Laundromats are available in many places.
Can I travel to courthouses and other locations where my ancestors lived to research original records? I think so. Can I retrace the steps of my ancestors? Probably. Can I attend genealogy conferences and seminars from a motor home? Probably. I intend to find out.
Even more important for a genealogist, I am accelerating my plans to digitize every book and magazine I own and to throw away the originals. I simply don't have room for 300 or 400 genealogy books on board the motor home! Yet all those books will fit in a one-ounce jump drive. Even better, making backups is easy.
I am learning to digitize EVERYTHING: books, magazines, incoming mail, bills, bank statements, medical records, and everything else I can think of. I already use a "bank online" service and a "pay bills online" service offered by that bank. I recently signed up for the option to stop sending monthly bank statements on paper via the U.S. Mail and to send those statements to me as PDF files in email instead.
I hope to have a paper-free lifestyle within a very few months. I hope to process nearly no paper documents at all. Everything in my life will be on the laptop with multiple backups, of course, kept in online "cloud-based" backup services.
Is this practical? Ask me in a few months.
My plan right now is to experiment with shorter trips over the next few months, then convert to full-time living in a motor home shortly after New Year's Day.
I'll let you know of my successes and/or failures.
In the meantime, if you see a Minnie Winnie traveling down the road with a few extra antennas for my ham radio gear, it is probably me. Please honk as you pass by. (I travel about 55 miles per hour in order to minimize gas consumption.) I think I will add a www.EOGN.com bumper sticker so that you can recognize me.
This article was written on a Samsung web-based Chromebook laptop using the built-in 3G wireless Verizon networking.