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New to Trippin’ With StanleyNew to Trippin’ With Stanley Who is Stanley? Well, Stanley is our RV! He takes us all around the U.S. to taste delicious craft beers and meet new friends along the way. We work from the road, Brian is a graphic designer and I am a...

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Austin = hashtag epic, hashtag awesomeAustin = hashtag epic, hashtag awesome As I type this I sit on a beautiful outside patio on S Congress at a coffee bar called Jo's. I am surrounded by Mac Book Pros and I can almost see all the tweets swarming around my head. I am sure...

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Sedona I'm glad I got to knowya!Sedona I'm glad I got to knowya! Here are some pics from our time in Sedona. We stayed with our good friend Brenden and his girlfriend, Britta, in Cottonwood, about 20 minutes from Sedona and Jerome. They were the most excellent...

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Golfing and Hashing in PhoenixGolfing and Hashing in Phoenix We had plans to meet up with our Nu friends Bill and Debbie in Phoenix after we left our troubles in Tucson. Maria was able to convince Debbie that it would be a good idea for all of us to go golfing...

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B-C-YessB-C-Yess In between our stops in Quartzsite we made a detour to Tempe to visit my friend Kevin and enjoy a long weekend of sports. The main reason we wanted to be in the Phoenix area was that the BCS National Championship...

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9 years later… 5 months in…

Posted by msdesign21 | Posted in You trippin! | Posted on 18-01-2011

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I must say, 2011 has started off just grand. Sitting today in 80° weather in the middle of the desert is exactly what I signed up for. Even better, I’m sitting among new friends all with laptops in hand as they live the dream, working from… wherever! I think Sunday night has been the most incredible sunset yet and I had the pleasure to complete my night being entertained, shocked, fooled and amazed by our new carnie friends Alex and Charon, the sword-swallowing, fire breathing, Airstream travelin’ duo. There are some things that you just don’t expect will happen when you do a trip like this, and this just happened to be one of those nights, except it felt so incredibly perfect as one of those “you were meant to be right here at this very moment” kind of times. Quartzsite is a very unique place and I am starting to feel this lifestyle soak deep into my veins, as if to say, there is no turning back!!

So let me tell you a little about Quartzsite, Arizona. It is located about 2 hours west of Phoenix off I-10, with about 3,000 residents year round. Winter however, is a whole different story. As you immerse yourself in this lifestyle you quickly learn terms to describe what is really going on in this “off the grid” “underground” culture, snowbirds is one of those terms, Hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people that make the yearly trek south to avoid the deathly sub 0°C temps and the horrifying, dare i even speak the word… “snow!”. It is like a plague to these people (these including me) and we spend many hours chuckling the New England states predicament while soaking in hot tubs under the palm trees or cheers-ing the sunset in shorts and 60° temps. But back to Quartzsite, which I like to call tent city.

There are tons of designated areas to park around here, the Road-Runner (mile marker 99) BLM (Bureau of Land Management) area allows parking for 14 days for free, and LTVA (Long-Term Visitor Areas) land has a few permit options, we paid $40 for 14 days, there is also an option for a winter season pass for $180. This includes unlimited water and dump access. Because of the thousands of acres to park at such cheap prices or in some cases free, it attracts many RVers. Well, that and the massive tent city that erects itself every January. Next week officially marks the opening of the RVers show, one huge-ass tent filled with every little RV gadget you could ever want or need (which by the way, you hardly ever need and rarely ever want). The big-ass tent is surrounded by thousands of other smaller tents, selling everything from rope to battery cables to rocks, gems and crystals. Lots of rocks, lots of crystals. We roamed a little last Saturday but quickly found ourselves belly up at Beer Belly bar, with stellar $2.50 drafts or $3.50 bottles, and not just the crap domestics either. It was a much better way to spend $10 than on some junk I didn’t really need. It is fun to look though.

The best thing about this area though, are the people we’ve met. A few days before we left Cali I randomly did a search for “young rvers” and found the NuRvers.com website. I maybe spent all of about 10 minutes on the site, in which I found a map where members could mark their location, found Debbie and Bill in AZ and found a forum exchange between Debbie and Kev talking about Quartzsite. Perfect, exactly where we are going through. Well, it turns out Kev started the site back in 2006, and is a programmer that works from the road, couldn’t be more timely and perfect meet-up for Brian and I to learn more about the ways of the working nomad. We talk genny’s and network connectivity and can almost certainly be found sipping drinks at happy hour, any hour of the day. At night we sit by the campfire, exchanging stories from the road, remembering the people we’ve met and how incredibly lucky we are to be in this world, doing whatever the hell we want, whenever the heck we want. Most common phrase out here: “what are you doing tomorrow?” the answer always “who knows!”.

So after 5 months I am really starting to feel more like a professional at this, even though many people we’ve met have been on the road for years longer, I feel like we are moving out of our “adolescence RV stage” moving onto “young adulthood”. Our goal is to spend less than $1500 this month (including our RV insurance pre-paid for the next 6 months at $475) and only pay to plug-in 3x this month. This is a huge improvement to our first month, paying to park nearly 20x and spending close to $4000. If you haven’t noticed yet I am incredibly open with information, especially when it comes to expenses. For most of you that know me, you know that the more you shouldn’t talk about a topic, the more I will probably want to talk about it. If anyone ever asks, I have no problem talking about our expenses. In fact, that is probably our most asked question: how do you afford this? My answer: Well, to start, it can be incredibly cheap if you want it to be. The only bills we have are insurance, phone and internet, we are some of the lucky few that didn’t run up our credit before we realized what the hell that meant. So there is that, and Brian works part-time from the road as a software/web-designer for a few clients. I started the trip thinking I would use $10,000 in savings and finally tapped into that just last month. So from my calculations, I have at least 6 more months from now until the funds run out.

Another common question we get is where do you want to settle. When we started the trip we thought, there are so many places to see and we have a lot of friends from college all over, so let’s visit them and see what’s good. Now when someone asks where are we going to end up the thought just plain scares me. I don’t want to end up anywhere is what I think. Why would I want to stay in one place, when we have the ability to go wherever! One of my favorite sayings from the trip: “the fun runs out when the funds run out” although now we are trying to not let that happen.

Another common question is: “What did you do with all your stuff?”
That’s an easy answer. We tried to sell most anything we could. Brian is a bit of a pack rat when it comes to picking up concert flyers or whatever so we actually held on to more than I wanted. The feeling of actually getting rid of all these “things” was a breath of fresh air. If it was up to me I would have got rid of everything except my shoes and a few other boxes of personal stuff, but after talking with my Dad (who was against all of this from the beginning) I decided to let my friends “borrow” our TV and bedroom set. That, and Brian’s parents were extremely generous with their basement space.

FAQ #3: “How did the dogs adjust?”
A. That question is not as easily answered, if only they could talk, I really do wonder what they would say. Sometimes I wonder if they realize how incredibly lucky they are to get to travel all over with us. They certainly get more exercise than they ever have before (me too). But I quickly realize how simple a dogs life is, and how little they probably think about anything. It is actually something I envy. I think they like being a duo, Buddha has always loved the car, pretty much sleeps all the time and Ernie is the same, usually sketched out and nervous about anything. I love camping spots like where we are now, I rarely ever leash them and can just let Ernie wonder around at his leisure. That’s what he likes doing best, so I’d like to think they adjusted just fine.

Other questions are simple:
Q. How much is it to fill up your gas tank?
A. Gas stations usually cap us at $75 or $100 so we just stop there. If we were completely empty it would probably cost around $150 to fill. Right now we are looking at gas prices around $2.96/gallon. From a recent FB poll, it would appear to be similar in the midwest.

Q. Do you have power if you aren’t plugged in? or we get the surprised: “You can use water?”
A. The answer is Yes! Two batteries in the back allow us to light Stanley up at night, run the water pump, we fill the water tank (which I am guessing is around 40 gallons) and will need to dump 1-2x every two weeks, we even have hot water, with a flick of a switch our propane tank heats water, can run the fridge, and I can even cook up some delicious meals. If we need to plug something in, run the coffee maker or watch TV, we either need to be plugged in or run our generator. We have an Onan genny built in, runs off our gas tank, with a start up switch above the stove, which will also recharge our batteries in the back (aka house batteries). My next acquisition might be solar. I am currently researching and trying to learn about how it all works to decide if we should take the leap. We’ve met plenty of people out here running solar and most all are advocates of the setup, it looks to be at least a $1000 start-up investment, which would at least allow us to charge our laptops and phones and keep the batteries happy. Our fellow rubbertramp, Brenden, has excellent posts on his solar setup at BlimpyB.com. I’m told that the big-ass RV tent will have solar panels, so I am planning to learn more in the next week or so. Solar Mike from the Slabs is also a great resource, although I didn’t really get the chance to meet him over our New Years holiday weekend, I did manage to score a business card.

Q. Do you meet a lot of weird people?
A. What’s “normal”?! You’d be surprised what makes up an RV park, not really what you are thinking, natty light holdin, one tooth missing, dirty hands and clothes, rather picture grandma and grandpa with stuffed animals in the window and decorations for any holiday and probably planters setup, maybe even a little white fence, smiling ear to ear.

If you are a fellow RVer share your FAQ’s, if you aren’t give us a question and we would be happy to answer. Thanks again for following!

(Oh yea, and I say 9 years later because Brian and I just celebrated our 9th anniversary last week. I can’t really say it only feels like yesterday that we were hanging out in the dorms because we have too many incredible memories since then, it feels like a lifetime ago! One great lifetime though, excited to see where the next 9 years take us.)

A Beer in Review

Posted by msdesign21 | Posted in You trippin! | Posted on 11-01-2011

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I finally got our 2010 Brewery Tour video posted to Facebook today. Here it is for all our Trippin followers. Stanley sure has been good to us… now onto the next beer!!

Cheers!

Featuring:
FreeState Brewery
Random European beers
Bristol Brewing
Alaskan Amber
Trinity Brewing Co,
McClellans Brewery
Breckenridge Brewery
Great Divide Brewing
Boulder Beer Company
Mountain Sun Brewery
Left Hand Brewery
Oskar Blues Brewery
Estes Park Brewery
CooperSmiths Pub & Brewing
Equinox Brewing
O’Dell Brewing Company
RAM Brewery
Bitter Creek Brewing
Snake River Brewing
Coeur d’Alene Brewing
Grand Teton Brewing Co.
Iron Horse Brewery
Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen
Steamworks
Alibi Room
Grandville Island Brewery
Dockside Brewing Co
Phillips Brewing Company
Brooklyn Seafood
The Pike Brewing Company
Elysian Brewing Co
Redhook Brewery
Hood Canal Brewery
Port Townsend Brewery
Peaks Pub
Flyers Restaurant and Brewery
Skagit Brewery
Pelican Brewery
Deschutes Brewery
Tugboat Brewery
Thompson Brewery – McMenamins
Ninkasi Brewery
High Street Brewery – McMenamins
The Bier Stein
Three Creeks Brewing Co.
Bend Brewing Co
10 Barrel Brewing
Cascade Lakes Brewing Company
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Double Mountain Brewing
Coalition Brewing Co
Laurelwood NW Public House
Hopworks Urban Brewery
Rogue Brewery
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Thirsty Bear
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
Cannery Row Brewing Company
Mudshark Brewing Co.
Barley Bros. Restaurant and Brewery
Stone Brewery
Boardwalk – KU Bar
Library Alehouse

2010 Reflections, 2011 Aspirations

Posted by msdesign21 | Posted in You trippin! | Posted on 03-01-2011

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Into the Wild

Quote from Christopher McCandless, Into the Wild, shared with me by Artic Fox Ann from the Slabs, 01-02-11.

Over the past few months I have come across two wonderful articles that do a great job of explaining our journey. The New York Times says our generation is delaying adulthood, while Matt Kepnes, from Huffington Post, welcomes the accusation that his life choices must mean he is running away from something, typically seen negative, Kepnes spins it to be positive. Ever since I can remember I have always questioned the status quo or reasons I’ve been given for “that’s just the way it is”. It was never good enough for me and if the reason didn’t make sense you better believe I wasn’t going to accept it. Over the last few years I have hated the world we have built for ourselves and jokingly wished that the feminist movement, putting women in the workplace, would never have happened.

It is not healthy or humanly natural to work a 9-5 and even now that gets pushed as you’re expected to do more 50 hour work weeks or worse, hold two or more jobs. I certainly respect and have no judgments for the people that do it and like it (more power to you) but I feel saddened for the millions of people that feel helpless in their life choices and think there is no other way.

One of the most pivotal realizations in my life came from reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad as a sophomore in college. I learned that life didn’t have to be a corporate 9-5 and that I did have choices and other options on how to make money. The message from the book is simple, for those who choose to embrace a new way of thinking and get out of the rat race, but actually putting it into action and creating success for yourself, that is a whole other story. We live in a new world, a new decade now, 2011. We are inundated with information everywhere we turn. The idealism of “job security” has been squashed for many people and unfortunately still remains strong in the minds of many. While it is nice to know in two weeks you will have a paycheck waiting for you there are way too many risks that could change your status in an instant.

So what does this mean for us and our 2011 plans? Well it is finally time to start backing up all this talk and our belief that there is another way and put it into action. I think one of the biggest advantages I will have with this “alternative way of thinking/living” is that I am not afraid to fail, in fact, I want to fail. To most people it sounds crazy, scary or bad to fail. We are raised in an education system that condemns failure. But the one thing they don’t teach you, for every successful story you hear, there are at least 100 failures behind that success. James Dyson is probably one of the most famous success stories of failure. It took him over 5000 prototypes to get his first success with the G-force cleaner in 1983 and even after finding a winning solution he had more roadblocks getting the product to market in the UK, with refusals that it would “disturb the valuable $500 million dollar vacuum bag market”. Nonetheless, his determination and perseverance has continued 20 years later to include new product extensions such as the Dyson Airblade (hand-dryer) and the revolutionary Dyson Air Multiplier, a bladeless fan, (which we absolutely LOVE in Stanley) and has continued to improve the vacuum pushing it to be the best-selling vacuum in Western Europe, New Zealand and Australia with over $10 billion in sales worldwide. (Additional information here and here)

So as we work our way through 2011 ACTION is key for us to continue this lifestyle we have come to love so much. Action and focus will keep us on the path to success. We certainly appreciate everyone’s support and can’t wait to be reunited with our friends and family in the coming year. Even though we love to travel and don’t want to return to the “real world”, well, Christopher McCandless said it best, a quote from Into the Wild, “Happiness is not real, unless shared”. We wish we could take you all with us on our journey and will ALWAYS have an open door and warm bed for anyone wanting to crash with us at any destination. For most of you, this is as close as we can get to sharing our happiness and we truly hope it is yours as well for a great 2011!

Anyone developing new products and new technology needs one characteristic above all else: hope. This comes down to a few elements: -having high expectations that you will succeed – despite any setbacks or frustrations -having the sense to break down an imposing task into smaller, manageable ones -believing that you are able to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. Be dogged and determined – and don’t be afraid to be different. -James Dyson

4 Months In…

Posted by msdesign21 | Posted in You trippin! | Posted on 06-12-2010

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Hello everyone! Thanks for checking back on the blog. Lots has happened since our last post, but I guess that is what happens when you don’t post all the time!!

After San Francisco we headed down the CA coast through Santa Cruz, Monterey down through Big Sur. What a drive!! Everything from the Redwoods to the winding road on steep cliffs. 17 Mile drive was definitely worth the $10 toll. It winds its way through Monterey and Caramel. We saw Pebble Beach and many more just as incredible golf courses and even got to take the dogs on a walk on the beach. We watched 12 or so surfers cutting it up on a somewhat chilly breezy day. A “storm” was supposed to be moving in that weekend, so we made our way down the coast in 1 day to avoid driving in the rain.

From there we basically cut across CA to get to Las Vegas. We arrived 5 days earlier than we really needed to but casino parking is free and Brian and I wanted to get some poker time in before our fun filled Jayhawk weekend. Brian is going to post more about that and I am sure he will be sure to mention my 2 seconds of fame with 1:32 left in the KU Arizona game.

1 Month in I did a reflective post of our time on the road so I thought it would only be right to do another 4 months in. Not much has changed in the way of our opinion of this trip, which is still “Best Idea Ever”. Other than sleeping in too much I am very happy with all our decisions on this trip. Sure there are many, many places I wanted to see but missed, and certain decisions I’ve made on where we should drive and when that could have been better, but you learn and I just tell myself, we will hit it the next time around. It’s nice to know that I have a whole life ahead of me where I will continue to travel and explore and see all of this planet’s amazing sights.

So 4 months in what more have we learned?

1. I might have mentioned it before but we use Mint.com now to track all our expenses. It is super helpful to create budgets and categorize your spending such as Gas, RV Parks, Groceries, Restaurants and of course, Breweries. We started using it in Oct and now have 2 months to look back and realize we spend A LOT on food.

2. Continuing along the lines of Mint.com we have been spending a lot more time boondocking (parking while we aren’t hooked up) versus paying to park at a RV Park. Typically, we will expect to pay anywhere from $30-$40 to pay to park which will allow us to plug in for electricity, dump the black tank, fill up our water tank and get cable TV. It always seems more convenient to be hooked up in a park when we are trying to work from the road. If we aren’t plugged in we can use the lights off battery power and use our 2 outlet inverter to charge all our electronics. I think we stayed in RV parks probably 20/30 days the first month, I think last month we stayed 6 or 7 days. That is a big cost difference.

3. I don’t understand how California is struggling so much economically when everything is SO taxed!! The most expensive we paid for gas was $3.69, we would be lucky to find it around $3.26. Now that we are in AZ its $2.56 right around the corner.

4. People are still asking us, what’s next and I am happy to say I still don’t know! I think uncertainty scares a lot of people but not me. I can tell you for certain that we want to continue this trek for at least 1 more year. Circle back to spend time with family and friends in Kansas and Nebraska once it gets warm again and then go back through Colorado, over to Oregon and back to Cali sometime next October. But in order to continue that long we will have to start making more money from the road. We need at least $3000/month to live comfortably, but could definitely do it cheaper if we had to (which i think we might).

5. Now that we are familiar with our new lifestyle we have been able to spend more time focusing on our own projects. This includes researching the home brew process and working on our new t-shirt store which will hopefully be launching this week. Brian is working on a custom-made sweater company and continues to contract for Popstar.

6. Brian, what have you learned?: “Um, home is where your heart is”. haha! I love catching him off guard. A simple man says so much without many words.

7. My favorite places so far have been: visiting my cousins in Denver and Nevada City, Hood River, OR, Fort Collins, CO, Portland OR, and Pacific City, OR.

8. Places we missed so far that we are hitting next time around: Whistler, Canada, Glacier National Park, and Crater Lake, OR.

9. Best beer for me: The Hub, 7 Grain Stout, Portland, OR – Brian’s Pick: Coopersmith, Green Chili Ale, Fort Collins, CO

10. Ernie says: “(cue whining sound)” and Buddha says: “if I focus on “walking” at a dog park I generally don’t need to bully other dogs around and get in fights”. Buddha still hasn’t learned to NOT drink the salt water even after puking each time he does it.

Thanks for following once again. I am starting to upload videos now to YouTube so subscribe to my channel here. We are spending the next few days in Lake Havasu and plan to head towards San Diego for the weekend, hopefully catching the Chiefs Chargers game on Sunday, to tailgate with a few friends. Hope you all are keeping warm. Stay in touch we love to read comments from our friends!

What did you do with all your stuff?

Posted by Brian | Posted in You trippin! | Posted on 14-10-2010

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One of the questions the always seems to come up when we tell people about our trip is “What did you do with all your stuff?”. This can actually be answered in four stages.

  1. We packed everything we needed for the trip in Stanley. We made a point to try and distill this down to the absolute essentials.
  2. Sell everything possible. This took a bit a leap to admit that most of the stuff we have collected over the last 10 years is not really important. We figured anything that you can easily buy later was not important and sold quite a bit of our stuff through garage sales, eBay, and Craigslist. What we couldn’t sell that we didn;t need was donated to Goodwill or the corner for trash day.
  3. Some things we couldn’t part with were left with friends in Lawrence including our 47″ TV and the bed. Thank you Scott, Ann, Mike, and Andi.
  4. Everything else was loaded up in a U-Haul and stored in Overland Park at Ma and Pa Devine’s Storage Center (the basement).

So far we have actually dropped a couple items that we realized were not important and plan to send some clothes back home soon to free up some space. It has been nice to reduce the amount of “stuff” we have around us and I can say we both don’t feel we have lost any level in quality of living.


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