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Running the Traps -

I think maybe the older we get the more set we get in our ways.  Hell, I don’t think it, I know it.  Every morning my routine is the same. fur_trapper I get up and log into the internet before work and go through a dozen or so forums and blogs to see which ones have been updated. News sites, firearms related and of course the recreational vehicle sites. I call it “running the traps”.

Here are my top 3 RV sites in order from last to first with my thoughts on each. Maybe you value my opinion and maybe you don’t but it is still might be a  good read regardless.

Third on the list is Tioga George. He has a loyal, protective and vocal following.  George is 70 something years old and spends most of the year in Mexico off the grid in a Class C Tioga.   He has a unique and engaging writing style that endears him to most readers.  I enjoy reading his Shoutbox where readers comment and give him (sometimes ill advised) recommendations.   He has trouble losing parakeets, keeping his Datastorm satellite up and running and he never meets a stranger.  George posts most every day and if he misses a day the Shoutbox is filled with queries regarding his well being.   His daily posts are never lengthy but almost always entertaining.  It is akin to reading someone’s private diary and I think that is why everyone (like me) checks in on a daily basis to get the latest chapter.

One area of concern is his unabashed statements about income derived from the Google ads on his blog.   George is on Social Security and monetizes his blog to supplement his income — just like myself and many others do.  Google figured out how to match advertising to page content and they made a bazillion dollars because they figured it out first.  Their program is called Google Adsense and needless to say many people take unfair advantage of it.  Because of that, Google has strict monitoring policies.  You see, advertisers pay Google each time you click one of those “Ads by Google” on the top and sides of many blogs.  Conversely, every time someone clicks that ad, you earn a few pennies yourself.  People are greedy however and it is human nature to game the system.  I wrote about that subject here.  Basically, I stated that many people feel compelled to blog each and every day about useless and inane things just to put more pages up and (hopefully) earn a bit more from Google.   George’s Google advertising  income is very important to him and he blogs each and every day.   Now Google is a pretty smart bunch of people or they would not have made a bazillion dollars, right?  And greedy blog people want to make more money,  right?   The temptation is to click a bunch of those ads yourself or ask your friends to click them so you can get some more of that Google money.  But remember, Google is pretty  darned smart and they have this secret squirrel software that can figure which people are being greedy. They don’t play around any;  they just ban you from the program and it is serious stuff when you get banned- there ain’t no coming back.   My worry for George is that I have seen it posted in his Shoutbox that some of his loyal readers click every Google ad on his page to help the sweet old man out.  One of these days, those smart people at Google are going to ban Tioga George from participating in getting his share of that bazillion dollars and I will be sad when that happens.

Second on the list is RV.net.  RV.net is the informational valhalla for RVers.  Anything and everything you ever wanted to know about recreational vehicles and the RV lifestlye is available there just by using their “Search” function.  Back in the day, when I was first getting started RVing,  it was an invaluable source of info for a newbie.  I spent many hours reading threads about different aspects of the RV lifestyle.   Mostly these days, I just  answer more questions than I ask and that is how it should be.  You give back to the community to keep it strong and vibrant.

Three things really bug me about RV.net (or any internet forum for that matter).

  • The same questions get answered over and over.  Running down the road with the fridge on LP or running the generator in transit.  A Big Buddy propane heater will kill you.  A propane generator is no good.  You don’t need a surge guard.
  • Internet commandos.  People who have read or heard about some subject and now feel they are experts on the subject.  They have no practical experience with the subject matter and yet dispense information as “experts”.   Just remember, the internet has as much false information available as it has pertinent info.  You just have to be smart enough to figure it out.
  • Forum Chaperons.   I don’t really know how to explain this one clearly.  Let’s try it this way.  You make a post like this: ” I am towing a 36′ Super Scamper trailer with my half ton Toyofordolet pickup and it is time to buy new tires.  What tires would you recommend?” Innocent question, right?  I guarantee you that before the first page of replies is done one of the Forum Chaperons will say ” Have you weighed your rig?  You are seriously overweight and present a threat to society in general.” Get what I am trying to say?  I detest a busybody.

Top of the list is RV Dreams.   I started following Howard and Linda soon after they ditched corporate America and I have to say I have enjoyed watching them embrace the RV Fulltime Lifestyle.   They went from green newbies to putting on their own RV rallies and you gotta give them props for that incredible transformation.

I really admire their entrepreneurial abilities.  Crafts, writing, the rallies and work camping all provide an income to this couple.  The timely information on their website is invaluable to anyone contemplating a fulltime RV lifestyle.  Two things especially stand out when you read RV Dreams.  One is the honest reporting of what it costs to live in a recreational vehicle fulltime.   Howard is a superb bean counter and his expense reports are right on the money for what it really costs to fulltime. The other is the candid manner when they talk about their work camping experiences.  I think some people expect workcamping  to be just slightly more strenuous than fixing a pot of coffee.  People, they don’t call it workcamping for nothing.

Sometimes when Howard writes about cleaning bathrooms and picking up trash day after day it gets tedious.  I guess he tried to not write every single day and his readers threatened mutiny.  I was chanting “Yay! Go Howard! GO Howard GO!” I am not faulting him for giving in to the masses but I have always been a quality over quantity type guy. Man up Howard!  You rolled over way too easy!  You can only describe cleaning a restroom once and the mystique is gone :).  Even a great writer like yourself cannot make it any more interesting the second time around.  Or the third or the fourth…..

Seriously, if you want a good read about the transformation from  a typical corporate cubicle dweller type to an RV fulltimer and if you want to find out how the change really happens, you have to read RV Dreams.  There is not a better website on the net regarding the fulltime recreational vehicle lifestyle.

So now I have run my traps  for the day  — and even wrote about it.  That is enough for one day.

Update 10/26/09: My comments on the Google Adsense ads have created some unforeseen confusion based on comments I am receiving.   It is perfectly OK to click an ad that interests you.  That is what they are there for.  Howard will not get in trouble, George won’t get in trouble, I won’t get in trouble.  The trouble arises when a user  indiscriminately clicks multiple ads in the mistaken idea they are “helping out” and making you tons o’ money :).  Nobody I know is going to get rich off the Google ads but they do help offset the costs involved with the website.  Just be a responsible consumer, that’s all.

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2 comments to Running the Traps –

  • Really enjoyed this post. Found out about you from my friend Howard who we’ll be working with up in Thunder Bay next summer. Working down in Sarasota now. Keep up the great blog. Really enjoy this new found site.

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  • don

    Enjoyed your top 3 – RV Dreams is new for me so THANKS! Reading about their blow-out was great – a combination of bad luck and good planning.

    I’d like to know about your firearms related sites. I’m kind of a closet gun nut; living in Nevada like I am now, there are plenty of people who are way-out of the closet!

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