I have been riding motorcycles since 1995 when I bought a used 1984 Honda Nighthawk. My wife at the time and I rode that bike with lame soft bags, t-shirts, shorts and tennis shoes all the way to Florida from Kentucky primarily for the economy of it. Needless to say I was unaware then of the concept of ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time). Years and many bikes passed by including a 82' Honda Silverwing, 97' BMW R1100RT, and a 00' BMW R1200RS, 09' BMW R1150RT. No accidents other than a dump drop here and there. Little to no damage. Nothing I would consider "OH MY GOD, these things are dangerous" type accident.
In 2014 I watched a TV series that changed many lives called "The Long Way Round" by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman and the idea of traveling off road and buying a BMW R1200GSA was born. What better bike than one that claims to be capable off road but still have comforts of long road riding. The concept of off road motorcycling captivated my imagination as a kid and I remember my Dad and I going to the Honda shop and collecting brochures of dirt bikes, for years. Dad never owned a dirt bike. Dad was always fiscally responsible and so dirt bikes just never made the list. Ok, to be fair, Mom probably played a role. Like a "not on your life" type role lol.. His dream never died and neither did mine. It wasn't 6 months after I bought that Nighthawk that Dad bought a bike, too. Ultimately he ended up with a Goldwing and now at 83 he still has his Goldwing but polishes it and thinks about it more than rides it. He started late living his dream. I swore I wouldn't wait to live mine.
My dream of travel was first realized in 2015 on the GSA where I took a 5000 mile trip off/on road west, then north then back home camping most of the way. It changed me from then on and I knew my desire to learn and experience would only grow from there. Motorcycling, I have discovered, is the outward expression of an inward desire to experience life.
There is something unique about a motorcycle. The openness, the freedom, the fluidity it creates in travel. Want to stop and take a picture? Its a 30 sec stop if you want. You smell the flowers, the fields, the streams, you are part of the environment rather than watching it on a TV screen (known as a windshield). Everything that happens in the environment you feel, smell, even taste (for better or worse). People who ride get it.. Those who don't, can't. For some it is a matter of overcoming fear. For others it is mastering a skill that sets them apart from most. For others it is simply a way to belong. Oddly, motorcycling is considered a solo sport because no matter how many people are with you, you are still alone with yourself in your head. That was at least true until the proliferation of wireless communications. For me I enjoy both, although solo is still my favorite. It allows me to center, to find ME again. When its been a while since I've ridden I can feel it - that need to just watch some miles go by.
That's part of what made this year difficult for me. Over all the years of motorcycling, through all the bikes and well over 150k miles, I never had a wreck outside of tumbles off road (which are kind of expected). And then this year happened. I had just upgraded from my beloved 2014 BMW GSA to the BMW Triple Black 2018 R1200GSA. What a beauty. Bought it in late Oct 2017 and had a couple thousand miles on it when a friend and I were riding off-road in January and I was following him. Between a taillight covered in mud, a missed turn recognized late and stopping to turn back, combined with sun blazing at my 10 o'clock, the year of accidents began. How could this happen? Literally it was seconds and poof, I'm flying and bike is going one way and me the other. How could I be so stupid to actually hit him?
Fast forward, bike is fixed, good as new, friend's bike is fixed as well and we are back in business little to no injury thank goodness for either of us. I take the repaired bike out west for the Overland Expo West event putting the accident mentally behind me as one of those crazy things that can happen to anyone but that certainly won't happen again. At least not soon and not in that way. Always assume the person in front of you is stopping.. Lesson learned. Heading back from Arizona through New Mexico I'm stunned at the scenery and dying to take some pictures of the landscape, so I'm consciously looking left to see any legal road, dirt or otherwise, that would lead me up into the desert for some quality images. Finally. A dirt county road heading up to a crest of a nice size hill that should give a great view both ways for different shot options. Perfect. I traveled about 2 miles up the dirt road after crossing at least one cattle gate and coming to another expecting it to be the same. Cattle gates are everywhere and expected. I assume this gate will be like the others. I goose the bike a bit to take the load off the front wheel due to some wash out in front of the gate. Suddenly I'm flying through the air and landing in front of the bike. Wait.. What? How could this happen? What did I even hit? I'm alone for God's sake. How could I be so stupid? Wait a second.. This wasn't on me this time. It turns out a rancher, unhappy with the reality that a county road went through his land, decided to place a guide wire across the cattle gate and lock it to a post on the other side. No signage, No warning. No nothing. Thankfully the wire caught my front forks rather than higher which could have decapitated me. It body slammed my 25mph 700+ lb motorcycle picking the rear end up and slamming it in front of the bike while at the same time ripping the post out of the ground and whipping it around over my head to the other side of the bike. Yeah, it could have been worse.
I'm getting up off the ground and seeing parts of the bike laying around me and an internal rage began to flow. But then a second reality. No cell service. But no injuries. Well, can't use the SOS button. Just embrace the suck. Then reality sets in.. yeah, the bike had issues but, could it be ok? Sure enough. Still works. This is why I ultimately bought another one. These things can take a beating and keep on ticking. After taking lots of pictures I righted the bike and rode the bike out. Found an officer, filed a report in hopes the rancher could be charged. The fence was illegal by county ordinance. In short, because of no injuries, insurance didn't pursue further.
Rode the bike all the way home only to find the damage sustained totaled the bike. Wow, 2 accidents and one bike down. Surely this is the end of my bad luck streak, right? This is when the loving non-motorcycle riding friends started to say... "Um.. perhaps you should take up a less dangerous sport?" I get it. I love you too, but it doesn't work that way for me. Let's just get another bike, shall we?
Enter 2018 BMW Triple Black GSA #2. 200 miles on the clock and I'm loving the new bike I'm feeling confident again (having to ride the GSA 1 1600 miles home did a lot of curbing the "nervous feelings" of throwing a leg over after an accident). My wife Holly and I plan a trip to a cabin a few hundred miles away as a belated anniversary get away combined with a work trip and as a break-in for her getting to ride on the new bike. 30 minutes from arrival at the cabin and a blue truck waiting to turning left across my path whom I made eye contact with, yet he decided to make a go of it anyway. Traveling about 45 mph I slammed on the brakes and just before slamming into the side of the truck told Holly in a probably too calm of voice, "We're going to hit". She had already slammed into me from my braking, so upon impact we both went simultaneously off the bike and toward the truck. I hit the side of the truck and she bounced off of me and back onto the ground. Thankfully, I learned a few lessons from the years ago "shorts, short sleeves, carefree riding style" on the Nighthawk. All three accidents this year I was dawning top level Klim gear and Adventure boots and Holly equally equipped with BMW gear. We both sustained injuries but compared to what it could have been we were fortunate.
8 weeks of therapy (Kudos to Dr. Corey Idrogo at Centerpointe Health and Wellness) and healing from a knee injury and Holly with bruised ribs and other bruises gave us some time to think. Do we get another bike? Are we mitigating risk as much as possible? Is it worth it? What about our 15 yr old son? Is it selfish to do this activity knowing that at any point something like this could happen and have long lasting results?
And then I thought, what would I teach him by giving it up? Yes, I love it but, better not do it because there is risk? What in life can you do and not have risk? Can you really eliminate all risk, and if you could, would you want to? Isn't the risk part of what drives us forward? To press ahead aware of the possible negative outcome but hopeful for the prize? Overcome the challenge?
The motorcycle industry has been shrinking over the years and all the manufacturers are still scratching their heads trying to figure out exactly why. The adventure market is the only segment that has remained steady and you are seeing manufacturers such as Harley Davidson enter the market in hopes of reviving their own market share and take on the younger generation of riders. Many look at stagnant wages, job uncertainty, or perhaps the reality of far more distracted drivers on the road today (hello cell phones) as being the culprit. While all of these certainly are factors I believe there is a fundamental shift that is happening in the US and perhaps the world that I see to be far more devastating not only to motorcycling but life in general. We, as a people, are losing the ability to dream. To shoot for the stars. To do something not because it makes a buck but because you just need to do it. In the world of warning labels on everything from straws to vehicles we are programmed by the media to fear everything. I still believe all things are possible and I believe that everything has risk and I would rather do what I love and mitigate the risk as much as possible than to live to a ripe old age thinking about all the things I chose not to do because I was scared of what "might" happen. Fear is a matter of perspective. The same thing that gives a person sweaty palms, fast heart-rate, dilated pupils and is explained as terrified is the same physical response described by a person who is excited and ready to take on the next challenge.
So which is it for you? What do you want to do? How do you want to live? Do you choose the stars or are you satisfied with setting your sights lower. I choose the stars.. I also chose to get 2018 BMW R1200GSA 3. I may miss the stars but if I do it will be a beautiful view on the way down. This life isn't a practice session. It's the real deal. You either make it what you want or you don't. Choose wisely!
Anniversaries are something to be cherished and celebrated although for some reason Holly and I seem to have something scheduled on top of our anniversary every year. So each year we promise to take a little time away specific to the celebration but many times, if not most times, it never quite happens and another year slips away.
This year would be different we said. Although we missed again celebrating on April 25 we had plans to do something special that was just for us. Deanna Naddie, a friend of ours through dōTERRA (how we earn our living) reached out prior stating she had a cabin for rent that had openings during the six week blueberry season. I love blueberries and love staying in a quaint cabin where internet and even cell phone service can't pierce the tranquility. However, this time we would find that lack of communications was not freeing at all on this trip. Regardless, we were in. Although it was a couple months after our actual date, Holly and I were excited to be actually celebrating 17 years of marriage, and although not a "special number" 17 is a lot of years together.
We made all the necessary arrangements to have our son stay with his cousin, get the cats taken care of, and all the typical running around you do prior to leaving even for a few days. I'm reminded how complex life can be even when you fill it with good things. Things still require attention. A thought to ponder at another time perhaps.
We successfully dropped off Nicholas and were off on our Anniversary adventure. A note about adventures, they are never guaranteed to be what you want, only they are guaranteed to be...an adventure. We were hungry and decided to head to Pandora's Motorsports on the way out of town as they had a hotdog stand there for the day and I thought it would be fun to see everyone before we left town. After all, this was our first voyage on the new replacement BMW from the total not long ago. We limit our intake of Hotdogs as you might imagine given our healthy lifestyle but as we tell those we consult with, live the 90/10 rule where 90% of what you do is healthy and the other 10% is what keeps you human.
From there we were checking the weather as there was a line of storms coming through and it was pretty nasty so we decided to make haste and attempt to reach downtown Chattanooga where we could enjoy the downtown while waiting for the storm to pass. We were so close.. But didn't make it before the bottom fell out and we had to seek shelter under an overpass. Met a fellow bicyclist while waiting. The storm passed quickly and we were on our way.
We said our goodbyes to Bill and headed west toward our secluded cabin. Outside of the hotdog we ate hours ago, we hadn't had anything to eat that day and were finding ourselves very prepared to eat. It is about that point when the thought of hunger hit me that everything started to go a bit wrong. While only 30 minutes away from our cabin traveling west bound on Hwy 50 nearing an intersection to the on/off ramp for I65 an east bound pickup truck decided to turn left in front of us. I slammed on the brakes and truly thought I would be able to stop up until about 15 ft away where I said through my coms to Holly, "we are going to hit". It was at that point where my brand new 2018 BMW GSA with around 516 miles on the ODO struck the right rear quarter panel of a blue GMS Sierra pick up truck. Luckily most speed had been bled off and the strike likely was around 20-25mph but enough to cause significant damage to the bike and to find us separated from it. Some recall is a bit blurry and we have had to stitch the memory back together based on bruises and other memories that came in pieces.
What we did know, is our trip had significantly changed. So many things goes through your mind prior to an accident assuming you have time to calculate it and this time was no different. Denial I have to admit was the first thing that hit my head. Surely, this isn't about to happen again, to me, on this bike. You see, this bike was a replacement bike that I had just got loaded up with my extras and lights and top case etc. The vinyl wrap was scheduled to occur the week after we got back home. This replacement bike was due to an identical bike that was totaled in New Mexico as a result of traveling on an open county road where a rancher, whose land the country road traversed, wasn't keen on travelers being on the road and decided to solve the "problem" by placing a taunt thin/yet strong steel cable (like you see as guide wires for telephone poles) across the cattle gate without signs warnings or otherwise. I hit it and luckily it caught the bike under the fender and yanked the bike much like the bit does to a horse except without releasing. The result landed me on the ground and my bike suffering like an animal that had been put down. Luckily I walked away from that incident unscathed and rode the bike home only to find due to the damages the cable and the result "landing" had caused the bike to be totaled. And so here I was again, finding myself once again without a bike, but alive. More than I can say for many who have totaled bikes. The gear you were CAN save your life and at the minimum minimize your injuries.
This time was different. This time, my wife was with me. It is one thing for me to have an accident and feel as though I am in control (although if one thing I have learned we are never in control) and realize that if an accident occurs I'm willing to deal with those decisions and the resulting pain and suffering that can come with it. But when my wife, who trusts me to protect her and take care of her as I promised to do 17 years ago, is part of the accident and resulting chaos I feel the responsibility on a far different plane. She would of course have a different opinion as she would say she knows the risks and happily accepted them. Regrettably that doesn't lighten the emotional load.
After the impact and once we came back to the accident mentally we started taking inventory of body parts, aches, pains, moving toes, legs etc. Amazing how little you feel directly after an accident, even the next day. It is as though your body shuts it off and says, not yet, deal with your surroundings and make sure you are safe, you can hurt later. The second interesting fact is the sheer amount of information that comes in during an accident and the processing limitation you have for that amount of information. The brain generally takes in 2000 bits of information per second and when things move really fast the issue of tunnel vision reduces the number of the 2000 bits recorded to be what the brain at that moment believes is the most important for that point in time. This is why eye witnesses can have drastically different recollections because in a traumatic event it is your focus that determines what you actually record. As a result, Holly and I didn't have clear memories of how we actually got off the bike. While we were at the accident neither of us thought we hit the ground or even left the bike. But neither of us could remember how we got off. From bruises and injuries it was later pieced together that Holly did in fact hit the ground although we are not sure how or where, and I don't think I hit the ground but rather hung onto the truck after impact. Our injuries seem to support that conclusion.
Moments after the accident I was found staring at my "dead horse" in both shock and anger and Holly was quickly on her feet with her helmet off so I knew she was ok to a level but unsure what injuries she may have had. While standing staring and likely yelling sweet nothings at anyone who would listen the driver of the truck was kind enough to request that I sit down. Come to find he was a paramedic, what are the chances. He was very apologetic and was very helpful in calming me to the point where I started feeling pain again. My shin took a hit and my knee was starting to hurt. On a side note, the paramedic, my accident dance partner, was wanting to take a look at my leg and the only option I had was take my riding pants off. Without hesitation I did only to realize I was left wearing nothing but my MotoSkiviz. Yes, likely would have been a great advertisement for them had anyone taken a picture. Considering I ended up limping around the accident for several minutes until the EMS finally told me to get on the stretcher it's likely I'm somewhere on someone's facebook in my undies. Oh well.. Ambulance finally arrived and I ultimately ended up for a ride of a different sort. Holly was also injured but she fell into the "take care of everyone else mode" and didn't realize how bad her ribs were till much later. If you have had cracked or even bruised ribs you know that every breath is a reminder of your injury. She had that to look forward to once the adrenaline as well as the pain patch they provided at the hospital wore off.
Both of us in gowns and placed in facing ER rooms we were realizing this would likely be an anniversary celebration we would never forget. The hospital verified what we had hoped that there were no broken bones but that I had a possible knee strain if not a tear. More testing would be required to know. Holly had bruised ribs although not broken but follow up would also be needed to be certain. Not how I intended to spend our time. But it is what it is.. The hospital provided a brace and crutches for my leg and they stated I needed to have it looked at further to determine if there was soft tissue damage. Having had tendon damage in my shoulder in the past I was not looking forward to any prognosis especially with my legs because that limits just about everything I like to do from hiking to photography to camping much less motorcycling. Hoping for the best on that one.
Now the reality of an accident while on the road away from home on a motorcycle sets in. Luckily Deanna was not far away and was kind enough to come get us and after a much needed dinner took us back to the cabin so we could figure out what we do next.
The cabin was exactly as described. Quaint, quite, and away from technology of all sorts. A place for introspection, reading, writing, and all in all recharging our natural batteries. Well, assuming you haven't just been in an accident. Since our plans had changed the recharging would once again have to wait as Insurance was calling our dead phones and emails were needing to be sent from non-internet and reality was we were going to have to get "life" back in order before relaxing any time soon.
We spent the majority of our time at Deanna's house where we did have internet and our cell phones were able to make calls through her wifi in order to get all the necessary calls and emails and pictures sent so Insurance could get moving on what had happened. I learned the hard way when I was in New Mexico that not taking care of a claim and all questions prior to leaving the area could leave you in a poor position to charge the appropriate party with the claim. Because I left New Mexico I was unable to get the local police to properly investigate the property where the steel cable was placed making it not possible or perhaps feasible for my insurance to go after the rancher for the violation of an improper gate. So the claim became a no fault rather than an at fault by other party. So I didn't want to make that same mistake again especially since this was another claim so close to the last one. Luckily in both cases we took lots of photos which told the story and backed us up in everything we were saying.
Day 1 1/2 of our 2 1/2 day adventure was now complete after spending a wonderful evening with Deanna and having an amazing lamb chop dinner late into the evening. Spending time with people is truly where I find the most adventure. Hearing stories by connecting with friends new or old and sharing our lives with each other is how we truly seat memories into our brain for later recall. Everything else, the travel, the adventure, the enriching of our experiences is just getting us to the point of either having a story to tell or listening to one being told. I find I relish in this sharing experience more and more the older I get.
The next day we were able to read a bit and even relax some. Since our original intention was to use the cabin as a base and go and ride around the area on the bike we actually weren't prepared to have our plans this altered. I also wanted to see the Blueberry farm and Deanna was kind enough to take us on a tour. There are 14 varieties of blueberries grown on this land and it is amazing just how different they can taste. From smoky to sweet the massive blueberries by all accounts did not disappoint in their flavor and fresh taste.
Grown without pesticides or toxic sprays it was comforting to pick the berries straight from the bush and eat them immediately to taste the different flavors as Deanna took us through the different rows on the golf cart. I've never had a blueberry with more taste or juice as these did. Amazing. If you are around this area during blueberry season it's worth the drive to purchase these beautiful berries where you can have them picked or pick them yourself. Unlike blackberries, blueberries are almost a pleasure to pick as the bushes are quite tall and there are literally clusters of them easily within grasp. Had we not just been in an accident it would have been fun to pick our own. We ended our evening exhausted from dealing with a peg leg or the inability to breathe deep but still managed to open a bottle of champagne I brought from Chattanooga in order to make mimosas that we shared that evening bringing back memories of the same we had on our wedding day years ago. We watched a movie which I had downloaded prior to losing internet and finished the evening exhausted but happy to be together.
The next day it was back to the issue at hand. We still had insurance issues to deal with, had to figure out a way to get home and still needed to deal with the bike. So we took Deanna's car to the body shop that hosted the bike to give it a look one more time and take a ton of pictures and take things from the bike like a garage door opener, phone charger etc. We had been instructed to leave anything that was part of the bike on the bike. I was careful to take pictures of all the add-ons I had done to the bike in hopes that I will once again get all that stuff for yet another new bike. Sadly we left the bike and went back to determine the fate of a rental car.
Rental cars in that area were not exactly dropping from trees. Enterprise was out of cars, U-Save had no one-way rentals so we went to a Hertz in town. Crutches and leg brace installed and hoping for some pity we came to the counter and explained we had been in an accident and needed a vehicle to travel back home. Regrettably, he stated they had no vehicles available at this time. Apparently a neck brace would have been required for true sympathy. Disappointed but not without resolve we thanked him and left to eat and figure out plan...D? During lunch we went to Expedia and discovered we could rent a car from Hertz and they had 6 cars available. Recognizing how little the attendant seemed to really care of our demise I questioned when we left if what he was telling us was accurate so we pushed the button and secured the car. Voila, email came and with reservation in hand we went back to the same attendant and with a chip in his step he was all but happy to help us and explained he would have a car right out to us. It was as if we were a different couple than who we were merely 30 minutes prior. I looked at Holly with likely blades piercing from my eyes and hoping she would bring sanity to my next move. In full self control and with key in hand (in order for him to not change his mind) I simply had to ask the obvious question. "So, when we came in 30 minutes ago asking for a car and none were available, how did that actually work since we were able to get one of 6 listed online. He gave a lame answer about not having real time inventory and that you could actually rent a car that they don't even have etc.. Um.... Ok... And we left. I didn't share that I counted the cars in his lot and miraculously the total came to six counting the one we drove off in. Regardless, I simply didn't have the energy to explain just how little that made sense and wrote it off as just another paragraph in a story.
Right leg in brace, I'm unable to drive so Holly takes the controls of our fashionable Nissan Versa and we are back at the cabin loading up our things now in grocery bags since the hard bags we originally packed in are still mounted on the downed bike. So we are off, feeling somewhat accomplished to having survived a collision and it would seem we will be back to normal within a few hours. We stop by once again to see Deanna and her beautiful blueberry farm and thank her once again for all the help she gave during our unique trip away.
It wasn't long before rain started and became quite fierce in different stages. This is when it would have been incredible to have a camera at the ready. Around 5pm, we had made it back to i24 from 840, the most direct route home, meaning we were on the road with mostly people who were tired from a long days work and were already mentally sitting at home ready to enjoy their evening. About that time I looked left and saw a vehicle who had been traveling to close to the car in front of him slam on the brakes and enter into a full on skid due to the lead car having to mash the brakes. The skidding vehicle stayed calm however still encroaching on the slowing vehicle to the point where I thought he would clip the vehicle in the left rear. This of course would have sent the nose of the vehicle into our lane and once again I would be making a call to our embattled insurance company. Luckily the car, while continuing to skid, gently moved to the left and into the median and came to a safe although "wrecker required" stop. Holly and I looked at each other and decided if we can just get home we might just stay there for a while.
We made it home without further incident and spent the better part of the day working to insure everything is being handled as it is supposed to with regard to our vehicles and medical etc.. That process we would find is not anywhere close to being over. I have discovered there is never a winner in an accident no matter whose fault it is. So much time required to deal with all the factors.
Even though this adventure did not go as planned we still made the best of it and above all did it together and we were able to come home together, for the most part, in good health all considering. To that we are both blessed and grateful.
Until our next adventure!!
So let's be honest.. We love to travel and get in hard to get to locations but at the same time we are dreadfully stressed over taking our gear into these same locations. It would seem through all the bag purchases that I have made no one bag ever fits my exact needs and so... I look for the "next" bag in hopes it will fill my needs. Then I have non-photography bags that fit certain needs for the function they were made such as hiking or climbing but not photography needs so I find myself moving my gear from one bag to the next in hopes of some compromise only to find some of my needed hiking/climbing/adventuring gear got scuttled in lieu of camera gear. The process is frustrating to say the least.
I may have found the ultimate solution and in doing so added security for my camera and gear while keeping the flexibility of different purposes whether it is on the bike, in a backpack, overnight hike, whatever. Flexibility along with padded protection for the sensitive gear is something we all look for but typically give up one or the other just to get the job done.
Enter Tenba.. I first discovered Tenba while I was staying with Simon and Lisa Thomas with 2ridetheworld.com in North Carolina when they were traveling through on their way to Mexico. They have the same issues any traveling photographer has except with the added complexity of limited space and potential vibration/jarring issues. They want to protect their gear in the smallest amount of room possible while still having reasonably quick access to their gear when they need it. Traveling on two motorcycles certainly adds to the challenge.
They carry the Fuji X-T2 Cropped frame camera system along with a host of fantastic lens (more than mine by far) so keeping all of that protected in as small a space as possible was critical. Once I saw their gear, I knew it was only a matter of time before I had chosen from the Tenba line what I would use myself. I settled, for now, on a couple different items. One to hold the camera and a few lenses and the other to hold flashes and accessories. I admit, I'll likely need to get one more small bag in order to round out my storage needs however, with these two bags I'm able to pretty much carry everything I need short of reflectors, tripods, etc that would never fit in a bag anyway. Being modular I can continue to add bags as my equipment investment grows.
So, what does all this look like? In two small bags I have now not only replaced my old bag but also split the weight load of my camera gear into two smaller bags that now can fit in whatever bag that I am using for the task at hand. Off for a hike, ride, etc? I can now stuff my minuscule camera bag in a day backpack, an overnight backpack, a tank bag, pannier, whatever best fits my needs for what and where I'm trying to go. The flexibility as well as the weight reduction is amazing! Plus, the benefit of protection.
The first bag which was the most difficult to select was the bag to hold the camera itself along with my primary lenses I tend to carry. I settled on the Tenba BYOB 9 Slim Backpack Insert. If you have a standard DSLR this bag will likely not be large enough to house the camera base much less with an attached lens. They make a standard size for that type of camera. One of the reasons I chose the Sony A7II was due to its size in comparison to standard DSLR's. This is one of the benefits of the mirrorless systems is their size advantage. Size matters and in this case, smaller is better. The other reason I chose mirrorless was for fewer moving parts which for a motorcycle photographer is critical considering it's impossible to eliminate all vibration and jarring.
In the BYOB 9 Slim bag I have housed the camera body attached to a 24-240mm full frame lens, 85mm full frame lens, and a 15mm full frame lens. In addition, I was also able to place a polarizing filter, a memory container and my tripod base along with lens cloths and some batteries. Those with a cropped body could potentially fit even more due to their diminutive lens sizes as compared to full frame. All snug which that alone tends to protect as well.
But wait, there's more! As any photographer would agree, much like motorcycles, when it comes to camera gear, you only need...one more. So in reality, having my base and lenses while being primary, isn't all of my needed gear depending on what I'm shooting. Accessories can be just as important such as flash, remotes, triggers, etc. This is where my second purchase filled the need. Enter the Tenba Toolbox 8. My goal for this bag was to secure my two primary flashes, remote trigger, and typical needed accessories. Mission accomplished. If I don't need flashes, I can leave the bag separate, if I do, it's an easy add-on bag to toss in. The bag comes with multiple configurable space organizers allowing you to configure the bag how you want or need for your purpose. I am a fan of speed lighting and specifically 2 flash photography so having both accessible was important for me. They have smaller toolbox options for those not needing the same amount of room. Fantastic.
The overall build of both cases is sturdy including quality padding, quality zippers with easy pull straps, and finally well thought out design such as clear top for the accessories and the custom designed zipper arrangement in the BYOB for flip down quick camera access. If you are looking for quality functional camera carrying solutions look no further than Tenba. You won't be disappointed.
Until next time.. Click!
Tennessee has a landscape that is simply hard not to like and it covers a large swath of the Eastern US through some of the most interesting landscape found including the Appalachian Mountains. While it is easy to relate to the East side of the state to being chocked full of beautiful scenery from water falls to mountains its necessary not to under estimate just how beautiful the Middle TN Southern region can be. I caught a glimpse of this as I took the TN TAT back a few years ago and was surprised then just how beautiful the area was. Creeks throughout, Amish country with large beautiful horses, and dirt roads that went on endlessly, this place really has it all. And, its only about 1-2 hours south of one of the largest cities in Tennessee, Nashville.
Casey Hampton, fellow rider and ambassador for KTM, put this event on and has done so for several years perhaps since its start. Casey did a great job having several ride options available, fantastic routes, and multiple groups so the 160+ riders weren't running all over each other. While this ride was designed for both big bikes and small bikes alike, the overwhelming majority of bikes here were small bikes.. In fact, my BMW GSA, to my knowledge was the only one there. LOTS of KTM's, many Africa Twins, smaller BMW's, KLR's everywhere, and Super Tenere's rounded out the stable found at the ride. No matter what you rode however, you were welcome.
Honestly, as cold as it was when we all got there, I doubt we would have had any brand rivalry anyway as just huddling closer together be it in the restaurant or the 1 propane fire pit made us all instant friends. Let's just say it was uncommonly cool for April. For those who tent camped, the heat from coffee and gloves on hot engines were common sites and needs. Many of us were in RV's or motorhomes but there were also a large number who were tent camping. No matter what our sleeping arrangements, our desire to ride was the same. After all, the forecast didn't magically change right before we arrived so we knew what we were getting into.
It was raining when we got there on Friday and the temp was frigid hitting around 34 that evening maybe lower and as low as 29 Saturday night. The off and on rain most of Friday made riding difficult but for many not impossible. Casey had a night ride planned for Friday that would have been cool but the wet combined with the cold temps caused most of us to choose fireside chats as opposed to night riding.
Saturday, however, was a different story. Still cold and damp for sure with a bit of drizzle up into the morning but the excitement from a bunch of guys and gals ready to rip it up was overpowering the weather. We had about 5 groups head out at staggered times based on expected travel times to keep the 160+ bikes from cramping all over each other. For the most part it worked out very well.
There is one thing I can say as a big bike rider that the small bike riders love to ride fast! I can understand the excitement when beneath you is about 2-300 lbs vs 600 and power to weight ratio is off the chart.. But still running with these guys was a blast.. The sounds of the 10-15 engines all "Brapp-ing" (technical term) at once or going through creek crossings, facing different types of surfaces all led to be a spirited ride with lots of excitement along the way and at least in our group, no one dumped.
Probably the highlight of the ride at least that we got to take a picture of was the waterfall toward the end of the route. The whole area looked like you could see Frodo heading toward Mordor at any turn. It was a bit surreal. I wished that someone had been able to take a picture or better yet video of us all going through the creek for about 100yds as well as the crossing that just about swallowed my bike due to being loose gravel. It's clear I'm going to have to hook up my go pros again for future rides as i miss not having a way to record epic areas like that. Being out in touch with nature is really what adventuring is all about. At least part of it anyway.
After a long day of riding it was great to get back and enjoy a hot dinner from Fall Hollow Campground restaurant. I had the BBQ Ribs and they were amazing but many were eating the smoked meatloaf which I heard was fantastic as well.
Sunday ended up being short for me and likely a better riding day than Saturday was but I had to leave to go to another event where I was speaking in the afternoon. I'm told the Sunday route was great as well. To Casey Hampton and all the volunteers who made the spring rally possible, I thank you as I'm sure all the other attendees do as well. I look forward to seeing you at the fall rally!
Until then, ride on!
Every year off-road motorcycle enthusiasts from small cc dirt bikes to large big bore adventure bikes descend on a small town in East Tn named Telico Plains. This event has become known as the mother of dirt bike rallies as March Moto Madness is now a common theme in other cities and event countries around the world. Bottom line is, if you want to experience some of the best dirt, gravel, single track, off road experience around; March Moto is the place for you. Plan ahead however as there is no cell service in the area so you will find guys in really weird places from side of the road to the grocery store trying to check in when needed :).
This was my first experience at March Moto but I went with Tracy Henshaw who was a veteran MMM participant and even chose to participate in the infamous Trials event held on Saturday. This event is a difficult event but was made more so with the deluge of rain that came overnight prior and the light rain blessing the event during the trials. To say it was slippery is an understatement. While taking photos of the event I was slipping in my boots which said a lot for the guys running the course.
This is a first come first serve event where everyone comes with whatever resources they have as there aren't a ton provided although the updated instant heat showers were a welcomed site for the many who decided to tent camp while there. Others as well as myself brought our facilities with us in the form of motorhomes and fifth wheels. Did I mentioned it rained? Yep.. There was a certain amount of off-road mudding that some motorhomes and fifth wheels got to experience as well. Some faired well, others.. well, there were tractors available.
The evenings still crisp in East TN created a fantastic riding environment especially in the higher elevations. Off-road riding can work up a sweat so while it was chilly none of us were complaining. Thursday Tracy, Donovan, Mike, and myself set off for a ride after we got setup at camp and really got to get ourselves ready for the weekend ahead. Tracy was riding his Oil head GS (yep, the same one I crashed into about a month ago, now repaired), and Mike and Donovan were on their small bikes. We had a great time taking in about 50/50 dirt to pavement. We even took time to take in a few great sites including some brave kayakers (ice water, seriously!) as well as the beautiful Bald River Falls. Ended up on more pavement than we had hoped but it was a beautiful ride regardless.
Friday they were riding small bikes so I decided to join a big bike ride unknowing it was set for "easy". 35 bikes showed up making for nothing short of a complicated ride then adding off road and varying skill levels it was going to be an interesting day.. Well, not far into the trip a good friend Evandre also on a GSA was bopping to the left passing people in the line (I was stuck somewhere in the middle of the pack). This was news to me that passing was "ok" so I jumped behind him and followed suit. Didn't take long before he veered off and stopped. I pulled over to see what was wrong and he stated his throttle body was still acting up. He ultimately had to turn back. Drew, the sweeper (rider in back), came up along with Jason Hill and all the other bikes in the long train had long ago passed me while were were pulled over.. Drew, who works for Knoxville BMW and whom I met in Denver, CO in 2015 at the BMW dealer there (we didn't figure this out till the last day lol) said, let's head on and we will catch them..
The ride was on.. The three of us were good riders and so were moving at a pretty quick clip.. We continued this and I kept thinking, surely we are going to catch the gang any minute. Well, we never did. We didn't find out till we got back as to why. Apparently Drew's GPS was set for curvy roads (seems appropriate) although following a track so we missed where they were all sitting and waiting for us.. So, while thinking they were ahead of us or perhaps chose a different track, they were actually now behind us... Way behind..
The original track took us up to the Cherohola skyway via dirt/gravel road which has an elevation of around 4000 ft give or take. This led to some decision making by many because snow and ice was still all over the roads on the top area of this track. It was crisp and beautiful and I loved it. We helped a fellow GS who had a dead battery get going again and by the time we decided to head up the hill the ice was worsening. Some were turning around others were heading forward. I decided to push ahead as well. So glad I did!
At the top of this hill I accidentally joined up with those who decided to take the Cherokee Challenge led by Matt Kelly (GS Trophy qualifier and great rider to follow - smooth is fast). What a great route. We ultimately went all the way to Deals Gap, enjoy a ton of off road as well as on road and my odo for the day ended up around 200mi... Great day of riding. The guys on the Cherokee Challenge were all great and they kept a great spirited pace. We took the pictures as required to get the sticker to show you completed the challenge (remember I accidentally ended up on the challenge so although I took the pictures I never went back to get the sticker, oops). Regardless, it was a great day of riding and I met some new friends as well.
My hat's off to Hugomoto.com for producing an off-road capable Harley Motorcycle. The most impressive rider up the hill in my opinion was a GS rider who except for the final run made it up the hill I believe without ever taking his foot off the pegs. That was pretty impressive to watch. Regrettably I didn't have photos of either of those riders but I'm sure they are readily available in the typical circles.
Needless to say, the whole event was a success and I'm already looking forward to coming next year! Now? Well, now I'm getting ready for next weekend where I'll be at the Tennessee Dual Sport Southern Discovery which is shaping up to be a fantastic weekend as well. Hopefully will see you there! Until then, ride safe and ride often!
I was excited about the opportunity to meet up with some very good friends of mine, Simon and Lisa Thomas with www.2ridetheworld.com, to do a little work together and play in the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula. The goal was to get some videos made and take a few photographs as well. Mission accomplished.
Simon and Lisa were gracious enough to pick me up at the airport and take me south where they were staying. Now keep in mind, all they have are motorcycles which created a few additional things I needed to consider. 1. I needed a helmet and 2. my travel gear had to be motorcycle mount capable. No fancy suitcases on this run. So, I loaded up my Mosko Moto Back Country 40L (features hidden backpack straps that came in very handy), all my camera gear, an old helmet and motorcycle jacket and off I went.
Arriving in Cancun was without a hitch. I loaded my gear on Lisa's bike and myself on the back of Simon's.. I can't say I enjoy being a passenger as much as the rider and pretty sure Simon wasn't a fan of me being there either but we got the job done and soon were in X-Puha for the next few days of sun and fun and, ok, a bit of work.
RawHyde wants to continue to provide quality training to those who have invested in these highly capable machines in order to give them the confidence to take them off-road expanding their view of the world. I'm grateful to be a part of their program and look forward to expanding the relationship.
So what is Overland Expo East? It is a one stop shop for everything from serious camping to ridiculously prepared multi-week/year overland self-sustained off-road traveling, 2 or 4 wheeled. In short, kick ass equipment to make anyone who has ever thought of going off-road drool. The equipment you see here is nothing short of amazing and regardless of your budget, there is something that will spark your imagination of getting away from it all.
More importantly than the highly expensive equipment available is the creativity of those who decided to live by their rules without an unlimited budget. They chose against the stable yet restrictive 9-5 and decided to live with less stuff and more life. And they had the courage to make the shift. They live by their own playbook and are loving life as a result. It doesn't mean it's always easy but it means they choose their life so when there is pain they are better equipped to change the circumstances that created it.. I admire the group of people I am privileged to call friends and admit they inspire me to continue to live life by my own rules and ever look to expand those I work with to do the same.
Adventure lovers are the best! Ideas abound, spirits are lifted, imagination is stretched. I have met and become friends with so many along the way. Simon and Lisa Thomas who have traveled the world on motorcycles for the past 15 years logging over 500k miles in the process. Danny and Pamela, known as 2chefs1moto, share their experiences abroad. Pete and Ashely with Mosko Moto shared campfires and stories including experiences of growing a start-up business that makes fantastic products. Sarah Blessington shared her stories of traveling the U.S. on a scooter. 6000 miles. On. A. Scooter. Um, and what's holding you back again? So many others are simply making the decision to live life differently. So much respect for that.
The evenings at OE East got a bit chilly but not brutal. Enough where a nice fire would solve the problem. Challenge 1, no open fires allowed at the Biltmore Estate. Enter solution. Greg and Melanie were willing to share their propane fire at night that warmed us, of course, but also provided that much needed contemplation device that magically creates stories and laughter of all the adventures. My thanks to Raul and Azule for sharing a jacket with me as in my rush to get to OE, I left without mine. That's the general attitude of all of those I encountered at OE. Compassionate, willing to share, all wanting to have a good time. If you enjoy learning, listening to inspiring adventures of living life differently, and expanding who and what you are, then OE is for you. However, as for most adventures, OE is what you make of it. I have discovered this over the years of travels and working with thousands of people in my business that how you choose to perceive an obstacle or a setback determines how you define yourself and the life you are living. We don't grow as a result of the good times but the challenges. Adventurers I spoke with over the weekend were forged by the times when things didn't go right rather than the blue skies and rainbows that laid in their path.
I challenge you to see life for the good and bad times. The people you encounter, both those you enjoy and those you don't, the setbacks as well as the triumphs. All of this is what causes us to grow along the way, to define ourselves by new standards and to ever determine to increase those standards.
Play by new rules. The belief that you can do more, achieve more, live more, BE more. Your Adventure Awaits! The world is waiting.
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David is an avid rider, photographer and professional actor in addition to natural health educator. As a result of following his passions he was able to retire from the IT industry and focus on using natural health as his means to expand those passions. This desire to live life differently led him to discovering natural health with dōTERRA essential oils. Having dedicated himself in the past to the medical industry from an IT perspective he was keenly aware of the need for people to take control of their health and get back to the basics of plant based medicine to support the bodies natural healing abilities. He and his wife Holly continue to share with those who are interested a better way of living by integrating natural health options into their lifestyles and those whom they educate. To learn more about how to take control of your health contact me or visit our website.
Review of Michelin Anakee Wild Tires for heavy adventure bikes
The discussion of which tire to use for any bike is probably about as diverse as which helmet is preferred... So much of tire choice is based on individual preference and actual use of the machine you put the tire on.. However, there are certain facts that remain no matter the rider.. 1. It's inevitable that we will be on road more than dirt if you truly treat it as an enduro bike. And heavy enduro bikes are designed for long jaunts where road is as favorable if not more than dirt. So while we love the dirt we have to get there many times by road. Some are able to stay on dirt more than others but the average person will end up burning a lot of their tires on pavement.. Therefore, tread life while on road is critical. 2. When we DO end up OFF ROAD, we want it to perform like that's all we do... So we want tread life on road as if it were a road tire and performance off road as if it were a dirt tire. Not an easy challenge for tire makers..
Before we go into the actual review, it does help to know me and how I ride. I've been on bikes for the better part of 25 years with hundreds of thousands of miles under my belt, iron butt member and with 30k miles on my current bike which is a 2014 Liquid cooled BMW R1200GSA. I chose this bike primarily because of the movie Long Way Round starring Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. They gave me a spirit of freedom on a bike I had never even dreamt of. The idea of camping and riding in the middle of nowhere where roads are optional was absolutely intoxicating to me. In 2015, after making several shorter trips I took off on the Trans American Trail for the better part of a month. I quickly found out the good things and bad things about heavy bikes and the rubber that keeps them moving. 1. TKC-80's perform amazing but don't last long. 2. Finding them at the local shop is all but impossible making tires a constant PITA... (technical term). When you are spending more riding hours wondering how you will acquire your next tire than enjoying the view things are simply not working in your favor.
Of course in 2015 there were few choices for the then practically brand new tire size that the 2014 Liquid Cooled boxer uses.. So, of the choices, the Continental TKC-80 was really the only acceptable choice available. I ran several sets of TKC's through my bike and at 2500 on the rear I was literally changing the tire every month. Front tire was typically getting about double that.
I was excited when I saw the expectations of the Michelin Anakee Wild. I had run the Michelin Anakee III a couple times and was completely satisfied with his road performance but off road abilities were a bit of a joke.. So for the purpose I bought this bike, it simply wasn't a reasonable option for me unless I had two sets of wheels. The Wild turned out to be the perfect solution for me..
Now with 4900 miles on my tires and probably another 500 left in the back tire, this tire will be the longest I have ever run a 50/50 tire and still have confidence in it. Front tire really does still look like a new tire.. I should easily get another 4k on that tire. To put in perspective for the type riding I do, I typically get about 8k on a rear Anakee III and 2500 on a rear TKC-80.. I'm pretty heavy on the throttle as the torque is a big reason I bought the bike... So I use it. Highway speeds run around 80 and this tire saw about 90% road regrettably meaning a better split might have led to even longer wear..
Performance of the Anakee Wild
This is the part where you really need to read.... When you first pull out with the Wild's... The name applies to more than just what it can do off road.. The tire has serious wear in.. I thought I was going to drop it the first probably 20-50 miles... Slippery is an understatement.. So put it in rain mode to keep the torque at bay and let it wear off that initial.
That said... Once it is broken in... And in fact, as you go your confidence will continue to increase as the wear in gets done... By the time I got to 100 miles I was rolling around curves as if it had Anakee III's on it.. I don't hang off saddle, knee out with these tires as I do with the Anakee III's but you can get pretty spirited on roads even with these tires.. But they don't hang like Anakee III's.. Nor are they designed to.
Wet performance was solid.. I have been through torrential rainfalls with these tires and never felt as though I would hydro or lose control in any way.. Solid performance...
Noise concerns. I personally can't speak too much of road noise at interstate speeds as I have custom earplugs as I highly recommend any rider to wear and although I'm keenly aware my Wild's are louder than road tires, they are no different than the Continental's and quieter than the Karoo 3's (imagine lifted jeep with 37" mud tires). In town riding I don't bother with ear plugs with the Wild's.. While I had the Karoo's (once..only once) it was a debate to not put them on when rearranging the bike in the garage.. Joking, but the Karoo's are ridiculously loud.
Off Road Performance
This is where the fun begins.. You don't get a tire like this so it looks cool at Starbucks.. You get it so at any point you see a trail on the side of the road, if you desire.. you can take it.. I mean let's face it.. That's why we bought an adventure bike in the first place right? Well, at least thats why I did.. I want at any time to look at a trail and go.. Wonder where that goes... And take it! I don't want to go, but I don't have the right tire.. I need to remember this next time I through here with a capable tire.. No... I want to take it then.. Right then.
Wild's let you go wild at any whim and will not let you down and if you are 300 miles from home or 3 it doesn't matter because they will get you back home. Off road performance on these tires are on par with the TKC-80 if not better... I have been on rock, mud, shale, water crossings, hill climbs with large rocks... You name it.. These performed... Another benefit is I never had to air down (as much) as I would with the 80's.. I do take some of the pressure off as I typically run around 37-38psi but would take them down to about 30/32 which would still be good enough on road but give me a little more bite off road.
If you bought this bike to truly find your adventure... These tires need to be on your next run.. They perform as they should on dirt but don't kill your wallet in tire changes.. They are great road tires with decent wear and performance giving you the best of both worlds which is what we bought this type bike for in the first place..
I can safely say I have no reason to run a different tire on my bike anytime in the near future... When you choose your next adventure know that the Wild's were made to get you there and back and provide you with the greatest amount of throttle therapy while there.. Roll on!
PepLink SURF SOHO Router Review
A bit of my background. For almost 20 years I specialized in the legal and medical vertical markets supporting turn-key networks that spanned states and required high end VPN connections etc from about 1995-2012 when I was able to sell and retire from the IT Industry. We were highly involved connecting medical offices through VPNs using multiple routers and providing high availability to tablets and other medical devices throughout the clinics and hospitals over a 5 state area.. You have no idea how happy I am no longer be in that field… However, it gave me a lot of knowledge that I don’t use that can hopefully benefit you guys.
First Impressions - New PepLink Surf SOHO Router for RV Use.. This router has been highly anticipated and many in this community have been waiting patiently for it for some time.. Well, my wait is finally over..
To start, why did I need it? I have a new motorhome that I bought in October and my wife and I have 2 macs, 1 apple tv, 2 ipads, 3 iphones, 1 apple watch, and the occasional Xbox when I allow my 13 year old to take it. The process of getting everyone “online” to keep me from blowing through my 30gb AT&T service is time consuming. In addition, I like to use the Apple TV for air play to throw something on my iPad or mac up on the screen either for video or as my second monitor. I also play with video editing and its nice to access a storage device wirelessly without lag. That was my reason for wanting this unit. However, RV on the go comes with complexity which you guys are clearly aware of.
Quickly.. Advantages of the New Peplink Surf SOHO..
1. Newest wireless technology support providing LAN speeds (internal network) of up to 1300Mbps. The speed is literally as fast as the lan so for network files its like you are wired.
2. Ability to utilize USB 4g and LTE Modems. And based on their site, it supports over 250 compatible modems.. I’d say thats most of them.
3. ABILITY TO UTILIZE WIFI AS WAN . This is the big one.. This feature allows you to have all of your devices in your RV setup to talk to the router and the router talking to the RV Park wifi for you.. This serves several purposes.
a. Security - You can know that your kid's (and yours for that matter) devices are protected from hacking through a firewall that is in your RV so you have control rather than hoping the RV park is not using the cheapest router/access point available (what do you think?)..
b. Connection - Since all of your devices, whether it is a printer, apple watch, chrome cast, apple tv, phones, etc.. they are all connecting to the same internal network meaning they will talk to each other even when you DONT have internet.. Then quickly by connecting 1 device (the router) to the internet all of your devices work, securely...
c. Flexibility - It keeps up with multiple profiles or memories of past wifi access points that it has connected to and will automatically switch to the strongest one.. So if you do still have a house like me and pull into the home area, it will automatically connect up to the home network. This also goes for RV parks you frequent. So if you have been there before there is nothing to do but start enjoying the internet.
d. Speed - The internal wireless lan is so fast you can easily have a NAS (network attached storage) hard drive that has movies, music, etc saved on it allowing for hours of enjoyment while on the road when you don't have a signal. Basically your new home DVD library without the DVD's.
e. Internet Speed - Many times the speed of your internet isn't the fault of the RV park as much as it is a limitation of the antenna of your phone or device trying to connect to it. The router has external antennas and can even boost power (technically not legal in some states as stated on the menu) so it is "reaching out and touching" with more effectiveness than your iPhone ever could. Place the router high in your RV and you will get even better reception. Bottom line, better connection between the router and the RV park wifi gives you a better connection for your phone.
4. Prioritization of WAN connections.. This gives you the ability to have a Verizon connected through USB or jetpack or even a iPad that has tethering BUT if you roll up into a park that has good wifi and you want everyone to switch over, simply set the wifi as wan to a higher priority than the verizon and everyone will automatically use it over verizon.. Once on the road and the wifi is gone everyone will automatically start using the verizon again.. Sweet.
5. If you have an Apple TV or a ChromeCast and you want to shoot your video to your TV or use the TV as a second monitor for work you can and do so at the high 1300Mbps speed. Meaning, no drag, no delay. This is something I do all the time utilizing Apple Air Play to use my TV as a second monitor either for video work, presentations, zooms, whatever. There is no delay when you are on this fast of a network. - One note about Apple TV is you need to have the latest version in order to support the newest wifi protocols (802.11N or 802.11AC). Similar goes with chrome cast although I'm not as familiar with their technology. Those protocols are hardware specific so firmware doesn’t upgrade to a newer protocol support.
6. Filtering to protect your kids.. I have not tested this too much yet but there is support for application blocking including things like pornography, p2p file sharing, adware, etc.. Even audio-video, file hosting sites (unfortunately this does count dropbox and iCloud and amazon web - you can exempt used sites if necessary while still blocking the rest), update sites, etc… I have found that based on the few sites I went to it does succeed in blocking those sites.. As usual, I would not blindly trust this feature and assume that it is going to protect your family from everything but it is having very positive results.. Example, I went to www.thechive.com which is technically not a pornographic site but does have less than “family oriented” pictures on it. The site wouldn’t work. I also checked other unsavory sites and all were blocked successfully. Another powerful example is by going to download.cnet.com. This site is known as a legit site but is laden with adware and it successfully allows accessing the site but simply blocks out the ads and it states “due to content filtering” where the ad space is. Again, never assume this is a one stop shop solution for blocking bad sites but the value of having another level of protection is worth its weight in gold.. See Value below.
7. You have the ability to have multiple SSID (wireless names) so you can be on one wireless subnet and your kids on their own subnet.. Meaning that you can exempt yourself from filtering or you could setup bandwidth management on their wifi but gives yourself full speed. You can setup “scheduled wifi” for them and you can have it 24x7. Basically their wifi dies when you want it to automatically on a scheduled basis… Cool huh.. You can also have a guest wifi that provides visitors with internet but not your personal network. Not as big of a deal for our use as for an office but its there.
8. Very low power consumption - Especially important for those using solar and staying off grid or running off batteries for extended periods, this unit uses 26W Max with USB Wan Stick meaning that it takes less than a light bulb… Not bad.
9. UPnP - This is a technology typically used by devices such as Xbox or other “appliances” to simplify connection to the router. This router supports UPnP technology.
10. Value. For what you get this router provides extremely good value for what you are spending. And the pricing usually found in this level of filtering (at the router level) typically comes at a high price. Example: Cost of the SOHO is 179 and has filtering built in it. Before I retired from IT our standard was Sonicwall or Cisco and they provided filtering at a yearly subscription price of around 150-300.. per year.
11. Warranty. You get a 1 year warranty with purchase and it is important to keep it under warranty if you are relying on updates both for security as well as content filtering as this changes often. Regrettably I was unable to determine the cost of extending support past the one year although I can’t imagine it would be more than 50-100 dollars based on the cost of the router in general. Likely even less. I thought I remembered seeing a 25 dollar yearly fee but haven’t been able to find that since. If this is the case that would be a fantastic value for sure.
Things to consider during setup.
1. Setup is easy but simple which can cause issues with compatibility down the road if you happen to end up connecting to a park that is using your same ip address scheme. I know this might get a bit technical but think of it this way. In the U.S. there are no 2 physical addresses that are the same. Something differs, either the city, state, zip, or road name itself.. If they didn't differ, mail would never get to the right place. IP Technology is the same. The Peplink by default uses a 192.168.50.x internal network scheme (It’s address). While not common (192.168.1.x or 192.168.0.x is most common where X would be the device number) it would be possible to hit a park that was using the 192.168.50.x network address. I tend to change mine to the 10.0.x.x scheme because you typically only see this in commercial LAN's not consumer (192.x). The instruction card that the router comes with is simple but will get the unit configured very easily by following the directions. Again, you can leave at the .50.x address scheme and likely not run into issues so unless you are comfortable.. I wouldn't change it. (You have to change a couple different things - ip address of router and the DHCP Scope - addresses handed out to all the devices and if done wrong you could lose connectivity to the router and have to reset it). But theoretically its possible to at some point run into a "why is my internet not working" and this might be it.
2. You can generally poke around in the settings and turn things on like the filtering and other options without killing something important. I wouldn’t say it is fool proof but it is laid out well. If nervous, find a geek friend at a park that can help you configure it..
I have been waiting for this router now since I bought the motorhome in October. Immediately I recognized the need to have some method to connect all my equipment and create a simple way to have all of those connected to the internet either by my iPad (AT&T Subscription) or preferably by local wifi. This unit has the technology to fit my needs. Time will tell if it lives up to the reliability that we are hoping for. So far this is the most flexible router I have encountered and the only router that I know of that supports WiFi as WAN.. So options currently are limited but I have a feeling that this function will extend as popularity of “stringing along” wifi access points becomes more popular..
Until then, enjoy the outdoors and all your internet gadgets!
No I don't mean Dolly Pardon although I did work with her recently in my acting work.. I mean the Dolly that you use to tow your vehicle behind an RV. This is part of what I needed to make my solution complete when I decided to purchase the 2017 Thor 29.4 Motorhome. I, just as most you see on the road, needed a way to get around in a vehicle that was a little more manueverable than the bus. Especially since once you are plugged in with sewage, power and water with slides out it takes a little bit to get moving again... So, when I bought the RV I made two additional purchases. A motorcycle hauler (something I will review soon) and the Roadmaster RM3477 Tow Dolly..
The unit is pretty simple and requires very little configuration once initially put together.. There is a "wide" and a "narrow" configuration when you initially assembling the unit with regard to the width of the wheels of the tow vehicle. In addition, the tow straps can slide in and out further allowing for different sized vehicles to tow.
I went with this model rather than the more popular tow hook which tows vehicles with all 4 tires on the ground but provides a faster connect/disconnect option.. The dolly is a less expensive option for one but primarily because I have two vehicles I will tow depending on who is going with me on the trip. Installing the necessary braking solution in both vehicles seemed cost prohibitive.
The vehicle tracks very smooth behind the RV and to be honest I seldom noticed it was back there. That said, you are NOT able to backup while towing a vehicle primarily due to there being a swivel in the front of the unit between the skids holding the vehicle and the frame of the unit connected to the tires... So be warned you are forward motion only!
Clearance under the dolly especially when unloaded is very low... Every time I pulled into a gas station I rubbed at least a little. Primarily the skids I believe but the bolts underneath are probably 3-4" off the ground.. It's not a show stopper but definitely something to be aware of.
The straps can be a bit of a pain until you get used to installing them. I am getting faster at it and now have it down to about 15 minutes. You do get your hands dirty since you are dealing with tires and straps and things that are typically in the elements. Doing so in the rain or other weather has its disadvantages as well but overall it still isn't a big deal.
Finally the straps connect over the tires and lock behind with a hook and in front with a typical tie-down ratchet method.. (Check your tire size to insure the straps will accomadate) This works quite well once you get the hang of it. I highly recommend taking a sharpy to one of the straps so as not to always have to stare at them to determine which goes on which side. The straps seem to stay in place quite well and I did stop as directed after 5 miles and ever so on on my trip to insure it was still tight.. I have had to rachet a couple times but nothing that would have been an issue.
Another unknown that would have been useful knowledge. Or at least I didn't and apparently neither did some at Camping World where I purchased the unit with the RV. Just because the unit has integrated electric brakes you still need a brake controller installed on your rig in order to activate the brakes.. Granted this might be common knowledge except when I purchased the unit as part of the initial sale I had no idea and when they installed it they said they tested the brakes and heard them activate so it seemed to me that whatever was needed was installed. I later found out from someone at Camping World who apparently knew more than the person who assembled it (slight concern there) that it was impossible to activate the breaks because there was no brake controller sending any type of signal to say "how much" it should brake. Makes sense when you think about it seeing the dolly had no logic chip or computer in it to determine such but again, I accidentally assumed they knew.
So, the dealer also had to install a Primus IQ brake controller in order to finish the install to make it a complete working unit. Yes, regrettably that is after I took possession of the dolly and towed my Cherokee across the state and over the mountain WITHOUT a way to activate the trailer brakes... No damage thankfully but certainly could have been. hmmm.. My review of how that happened on a different post... Again, I never claimed to be a RV expert including towing vehicles behind it.. I simply wanted a solution that worked... Again, that story later..
Another fun fact that was apparently missed by the dealer who sold me the solution is the fact that although the trailer has lights it is required by law for the towed vehicle to have lights on the back of the vehicle when in tow. Therefore when you purchase the dolly you also need to purchase the accessory item
from RoadMaster part number 2000. That part number is the delux set and I recommend that due to the higher quality wiring that is provided with that set. This provides you with magnetic lights to attach to the back of the towed vehicle to properly light the tail of the tow. Without it you are technically not legal at night. This would have been great to let me know when I was purchasing the whole solution.
Be aware, the unit does have a limited tow capacity of 4250 pounds for the vehicle being towed but that is sufficient to tow most small SUV's and sedans making the tow options quite broad.
I do like the flexibility of having multiple vehicles and I don't see the time required to disconnect the vehicle being a major detractor. It also does simplify not having to deal with moving or having two brake controllers in the towed vehicles as well. The unit overall is well built and the price for a tow dolly is very reasonable and seems well made for the long haul. I highly recommend this product and feel comfortable towing my vehicles behind it over long distances.. Cheers!!
Adventurist at heart, David Mays looks to inspire others to live their life with focus and purpose. Experience and expansion is why we are here.