Counting You!
You're Visitor #
Nothing in this site is copyrighted -- I'd be honored if you'd reuse anything you find here for your website
CLICK HERE to return to the index of my periodic Retirement Tips and RV Stuff newsletters. 
If you'd like to get on the distribution for the next newsletter, send me email at
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Retirement Tips and RV Stuff Newsletter
Issue 2009.02         Feb 2009
Publisher, Bob Hoffman -
Back Issues at -
PRIVACY STATEMENT: This newsletter's email addresses are never sold or otherwise made public.
If you're receiving this by email and don't want it, just email me and I'll take you off my distribution list.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

What do RVers do during the Winter? THEY PARK! If you're like us and you live in Florida, there's really no place to go. Go North and "enjoy" some of that great non-Florida Winter? -- I think not!  Go somewhere in Florida and try to find a campsite? -- I think not!  Any campground in Florida that's not totally full during February is probably not one you'd want to visit. I guess maybe the state or county parks that limit the length of stays might be a possibility.  ... Nope ... I just phoned Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Jupiter, where we often camp while fishing, and the ranger told me they're completely full also . He said they do get snowbirds that stay all Winter, that book 11 months in advance.

So, bottom line, Joyce and I aren't doing much traveling. I'm looking forward to my 50th high school reunion in Tallahassee in May, so we'll do some RVing either before or after that (or both before AND after? ... :), but for right now, we're home bound. Of course, being home bound in Florida isn't like being stuck indoors in the "great northland." I vaguely recall winters in Minnesota, when the snow was too deep to go out much of anywhere. When you're young, you can go out and burrow through the snow and have a great time. When you're older and have to go to work in it ... boo! Even winters in Alabama weren't real pleasant. The trees lose all their leaves and the skies are gray 90% of the time, so it's really a rather bleak time. You tend to stay indoors alot, get a little bit of cabin fever, and tend toward depression now and then. At least Florida has mostly sunshine every day, it's not too cold to get out and do some things, and just sitting on the patio in back is nice and pleasant. I've only had to revert to long pants about 5 days so far this year, so I certainly can't complain about the temperatures.

One of the things I really appreciate about Florida winters is the fact that we don't have to "winterize." Mainly, I'm talking about winterizing the RV. Years in Alabama, it was always a chore to decide if and when it was time to drain the tanks or pour in anti-freeze or drain the water heater or whatever - I've lived down here so long that I've mostly forgotten the exact procedures. When we had a pool in Alabama, there was also the question of what to do about it. Some winters I tried keeping the pump running all winter to keep the water from freezing - if it got cold enough, that didn't work well. I recall spending many a morning breaking the ice off the pool with a broom handle, so the ice wouldn't expand and crack the sides of the pool. Some years we drained it about halfway and covered it, but still had to break ice now and then.

Then there's the concern about pipe freezing. We had some really bad experiences with the house in Guntersville, since the amateurs that built it did things like laying pipes too close to the surface of the ground, embedding plumbing directly into the slab, etc. And I never will forget the year that we owned a mobile home that we rented out, and every pipe in it froze and broke.

But, enough about how great we have it in Florida. Back to the original question about what RVers (specifically me) do in Winter. Well, since I quit that WiFi job in December, I've got a lot of free time. I've been watching more TV, playing more online Poker, and continuing to search for something to do that makes money and requires RV travel. I almost joined up with Southeast Publications that creates those site maps for RV parks, but decided against that. It sounded too much like an almost-fulltime job. I've been contacting parks that don't yet have a website (yes, there still are a few) and offering to do one for them almost free, but haven't had many takers on that yet. If you bump into any RV parks that want a website, please send me their info.

Have I thought about hooking up with another WiFi company? Yes, a little, but decided against that also. Too many problems. WiFi is one of those concepts that works really well on a small scale, but loses its effectiveness on a larger scale. That is, it works well if you've got a limited number of users, none of the users are "hogs" (e.g., using the WiFi for internet phone or viewing long movies and videos), and you've got a reliable internet service (i.e,. DSL or cable modem) with adequate bandwidth. If you've got too many users sharing the available bandwidth or a couple of users with outlandish bandwidth requirements, you're going to start getting complaints. Whether it's the fault of other users, the internet provider, or any equipment along the line, the WiFi company gets blamed. Then, if you're working for a WiFi company that's reluctant to give refunds and you're the saleman in the middle, your life can get quite miserable.

I'm sure that if someone in the WiFi business really got serious about these problems, they could come up with some way to avoid most of them, but it might be an expensive solution to implement and therefore be financially infeasible. Until that solution emerges, I've decided to stay clear of it. In the meantime, I'm still looking for an interesting RVing endeavor, so if you have any ideas, email me. I'm sure Joyce would appreciate anything that would get me out of the Poker games and back to making a few extra bucks each month :)  And I'd appreciate anything that would give me an excuse to get out and run up and down the highways again.

And now, some notes on things I've bumped into and heard about --

Digital TV (DTV) - In my Dec 2008 newsletter, I rambled a little about the digital TV conversion coming up in February. I see now that they've postponed the required transition until June because there are 6 million households that would lose their TV if we convert in February. Sounds like now TV channels have the option to turn off their analog signals, but aren't required to. What I don't understand is why they don't just leave it that way ... i.e., if channels want to turn off their analog signal, fine. If not, let them continue to broadcast. I guess doing that would mean that those extra frequencies (or whatever they're called) wouldn't be available. Once the analog spectrum is officially vacated, it will be used by public safety services and other companies, which purchased rights to the airwaves last year. Can't these be shared with the few channels that choose to continue analog? ... I dunno'   Has anyone yet attached a converter box to their RV? I'm wondering if I need one for each TV or if I can just attach it to that box up front that has the splitter attached. Guess I'll figure it out when the time comes ... if it ever does.

Most Impressive Car Collection Ever - I've seen several car collections, including a very neat one in a little museum in Tallahassee, plus some in Las Vegas and other spots, but the most impressive yet (IMHO) is the Dennis Albaugh collection of every Chevy convertible ever made! Wow! You can either see it online at or, if you're ever in Ankeny, Iowa, stop in and get a free tour. Not sure when I'll next be in Ankeny, but one never knows ...

Old Stuff - Do you enjoy seeing old stuff, like barns and gas stations? If so, you should visit the website. Some great photos there.

Gigapan Photography - Are you a real photography bug? Many RVers are. If so, you should go take a look at the photo on, where they advertise a gimmick for $379 to produce really, really, really detailed photos.

RV Videos - Visit to see some great RV videos, including unusual RVs, really expensive RVs, and downright wierd RVs.

Recent Travel: Our most recent RV adventure was a trip to Ft. Lauderdale for a New Years Day meal of hog jowls, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and much other good stuff. We had a fairly good time and good food. Bad news was that the larger of our two toy Yorkies got really sick with her collapsing Trachea and, after about 12 hours of oxygen and $1000 of vet expenses, we decided her time was up. Really a sad thing to go through, since she was only 7 and we were looking forward to many more years with her. We really miss her ...

Upcoming Travel: As mentioned above, my 50th class reunion (see is planned for mid-May. We're talking about wandering about Alabama and Georgia either before or after that, or maybe both. Anybody got a cute little mountain cabin in the mountains of northern Alabama or Georgia, with space to park an RV, for sale real cheap?

Read on for notes on my latest site updates, some words about how I'd make some money if you guys would buy something off the website, IOTR News, Art News, and wrapping up with my RAMBLINGS.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Several changes to report on the demise of the 47-armed Saguaro cactus in Quartzsite:

- Chapter 12. Ghost Towns and Big-Horned Sheep, I explain at the bottom of that page.

- America Views - Cacti, a view of 47-arm, one of several intriguing Cacti photos.

- Various tweaks and updates through various websites, too numerable to mention :)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


- : A CHALLENGE AND A CONTEST! This is a website that I built for my cousin Bruce Smith and his 1965 high school class. I've built the site so that you get a "taste" of what's there by clicking on the address above, but you can't get any further without paying $10 (lifetime fee) for access. IF YOU CAN FIGURE OUT A WAY TO GET IN WITHOUT PAYING (OR GETTING THE ENTRY CODE FROM SOMEONE WHO DID PAY), I'LL GIVE YOU COPIES OF ALL 5 OF MY EBOOKS! If you've already got those books, then I'll send you a free autographed paperback copy of Aliens to Vegas, my latest book that was co-authored with Al Wulff!  Woohoo!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Here's a list of some interesting products, some of which will make me a few bucks if you need them and buy them here:

- Camp at Half of What Everyone Else is Paying!  No home park, no monthly maintenance fees, no long-term obligation, just pay the small annual fee and camp for half-price. Check it out here.

- 50+ ways to get to the internet when you're on the road! Read'm at Internet On The Road.

- Amazon Books : Buy from Amazon through this link and I get a couple of bucks  -- Click here to check them out.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Another award! Check it out at  It was a merit award that Joyce got at the recent Cape Canaveral Art Show.

Joyce is really doing mostly portraits now. She's intrigued with the challenge of trying to capture attitudes, personality, and unique physical features of her various subjects. Check them out now on her website.

If you see anything on the site that you'd be interested in buying, email Joyce for info on size, price, etc. Also, if you have a topic, pet, or whatever that you'd like an original painting of, just let her know. As mentioned above, she's doing mostly portraits now and can work from a photograph.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


As mentioned last month, I'm not longer with WiFiRV. Since making that change, I've decided that I no longer require continuous internet access while traveling, so have cancelled the contract on my Verizon wireless card. Those are a great thing to have if you travel and feel the need to stay in touch wherever you stop, but I figure I can get along by finding WiFi along the way. If it's not available in the campground, you usually don't have to look far to find a free connection at a restaurant nearby or simply connect to whatever open signal you find.

Speaking of open signals, I noticed another of those long discussions on a WiFi Forum about whether or not it's legal or ethical to "piggyback" on someone else's connection. My view - if it's not protected, it's fair game. Most DSL and cable modem companies now install with encryption on, so if it's turned off, it must have been done intentionally. If someone has the smarts to know how to turn it off, they must be aware that doing so allows others to access the signal. Just my view and no, I don't want to discuss it further in email. I've seen those long discussions and have concluded that changing someone's mind on this topic is as impossible as trying to convert a Republican to Democratic views or vice versa.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


I've been giving some thought recently to expounding about my views on WiFi as a reasonable means for accessing the internet while RVing. I've learned a lot in the last 4 years working for WiFiRV, both as a user and a provider of the service. I was thinking I'd do that here, since I mentioned it above in the leadin and alluded to it above in IOTR NEWS. After thinking about it some, I decided it might get long so would be better put in my Blog. Finally, though, I've realized that it would best be included somewhere on, since it really relates to what I've learned about accessing the internet on the road. So, I'm going to drop it for now, give it some more thought, and write something elsewhere later. Basically, I think the WiFi is the best option for some, the worst choice for others, and often the only choice at some campgrounds. I think I've got some good ideas on how to solve many of the problems with WiFi, and maybe writing them down will either help me or someone else to figure out the best ways to implement some of the solutions. Or maybe I'll get busy and not get around to it - look for the next newsletter to find out!

I think I really out-rambled myself in the leadin above, so maybe no more need to do so here. I've decided that with this issue, I'm going to try just sending out an email with a link to this page, instead of emailing the entire newsletter. I noticed Chuck Woodbury doing that several months back and I still read his newsletters, so maybe it's not a bad idea. Much easier for me and it gives the receiver more of an option to read it or not as they choose. I think it also might help get the newsletter through some of the spam-catchers that don't like lengthy messages.

I've included a Web Poll here that I'd like you to take if you would, please. Of course, anyone who gets the email and doesn't come this far won't even see the survey, so maybe it won't show me much. We'll see.

Hope you're having a great 2009!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Email to sign up for the next newsletter, coming whenever I'm in the mood again.
Permanent Mailing Address: R. Hoffman, 1033 Jacaranda Circle, Rockledge, Florida 32955.
If you're looking for a specific topic in one of the old newsletters, the Search box on the right will find it for you. It will also point you to other references to the topic throughout the website.

The sponsors listed below do not in any way endorse or even necessarily agree with the information included in these newsletters.

Which do you prefer?
Email the full newsletter as always
Just email the link to the webpage
Either way is fine