Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How Loud Is Loud Enough - Speakers For The RV

    When you are listening to music or watching a movie/TV in (or around) your RV, the amount of volume and clarity available can directly affect your enjoyment of the content. That's a fancy way of saying, "If it's too loud, or not loud enough, it isn't fun." I have worked on setting up a lot of entertainment devices in my RV. From Digital media players and flat screen monitors to a full-blown projection system and screen. The video portion is only half the equation. Having a decent speaker system will add to your enjoyment. Believe me...I know. So, how do you make sure you have one that works well with your system?

Bluetooth Dual Speaker
A Speaker's output power is usually measured in Watts and sound volume is measure in dB (Decibels). I have found that when selecting a speaker or set of speakers nothing beats listening to them! -- if possible, in the environment they will be used in. I've found that unless you are looking for ear-bleed volume levels for your music, much lower power levels can give you great, clear sound. That translates to much smaller speakers with lower power requirements.

There are lots of styles of speakers. Depending on what you want to listen to you can choose a really simple single (or dual in one box) speaker or, if you want to be adventurous and you watch lots of movies, you can buy a full-on 5-speaker system (or 6 or 7!) that includes surround sound, center channel and a subwoofer too. These usually come complete with a powered amplifier. The more speakers you have, the more power they will require. Make sure you don't exceed your capability to supply it -- especially if you are boondocking! In this case...less IS less!

It's Really Tiny!
The alternative is a soundbar. These have multiple speakers in a single enclosure and use sound field "tricks" to make you believe you have many more speakers around your space. They can work quite well. I have a tiny one that runs on a rechargeable battery pack and connects via bluetooth or cable. It's not all that loud, but in the small space of my RV (where I have my projector screen sitting) it's plenty loud enough and quite clear. The best part about a soundbar? The setup time is minimal. Plug it in to power (or charge the battery) and your entertainment device and you're ready to go. Yes, you can adjust all sorts of things, but that's mostly personal preference.

Most RVs have a nice flat screen installed -- either from the factory or later on by an owner. The pictures are amazing! The sound from their speakers ... not so much. Any of these basic speaker and/or amplifier setups will fix that. As for listening to music ... any of these work great! But I still just run my regular old dashboard stereo for that.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nostalgia Food For The RV? - Snacks I Wish Still Existed

    I like having snacks in the RV. Whether it's watching a movie, staring out the window at the great outdoors or simply reading a book or two, having a small snack and perhaps a drink is one of the wonderful things about RV'ing. Sure, you can have a snack in a "regular" car, but certainly not at a comfortable table or on a full sized couch! How about with a fresh brewed cup of coffee? Or Tea? I really enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a snack while listening and watching really bad weather through the RV windows. The sound of rain on the roof is especially relaxing. Having a warm cup and a snack in warm and cozy surroundings is priceless. I even have a "fireplace." Every day that I get the opportunity to utilize my RV, I find more and more small things to like. After a while (a SHORT while) they add up. I don't know any better way to enjoy my limited time off. Now, on to the snacks! I was thinking about some of foods I used to enjoy while growing up. Many of them are still available in some form or another. Some aren't. And that's sad.

NOS Cookies.
One of my absolute favorites was Nabisco Chocolate Chip Snaps. These came in a red and white box with a cookie on the front that had lines drawn on it to make it look like a cat. They were about the size of a fifty cent piece and delicious! There was also an All Chocolate version of them, but I preferred the Chocolate Chip ones. Most of the time, with enough perseverance, you can find anything online to order. Unfortunately, not this time. While I did find many folks waxing nostalgic about these cookies....there were none to to be had anyplace. They had been discontinued a long time ago. Amazing that I still have an unopened box. Wonder if they are still edible?

I'd been searching for a replacement for quite a long time. No such luck. Closest I came in flavor was Annie's Bunny Grahams in Chocolate Chip flavor. Close...but really not the same. Besides, biting the heads off of cute little bunnies (even if they are cookies!) isn't exactly fun....  That's not to say they aren't excellent...indeed they are great cookies! But, alas,  still not the same. Many things we remember from the past are simply no longer available. It isn't just food items. Clothing (though I really don't miss some of the older styles!) restaurant chains, supermarkets, local businesses. All of these, and more have come and gone over the years. Some of them definitely WON'T be missed....but some will. I've seen fan pages of lost and obscure products and shops pop up all over the internet. Many of them remind us of an earlier time in our lives. The lens of distance often makes these memories far rosier than they were at the time. I'm OK with that. The past was great....even when it wasn't so good.

Perhaps, like clothing styles, they will come back around. I hope so. Sometimes the past IS better. Maybe it's just change we dislike? I truly enjoy trying new things. I really do. But a look back is OK too.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Equal Time For Tea Brewed In The RV!

    OK...I admit it, sometimes I like to drink hot tea. As a die-hard coffee aficionado, it surprises some folks that I also drink tea. There are literally, thousands of varieties of tea. Some have even more caffeine than coffee! How's that for news? Obviously, tea with some honey is very soothing for your throat, especially if you are sick. Being on the road and having a cold or flu is already miserable enough. A warm cup of tea is quite comforting. I've covered boiling water for brewing and tea before so I'm not going to get too deeply into that aspect, but what about neat tea gizmos? The other day I stumbled across a tea accessory I simply couldn't refuse.

Many folks like to use infusers to brew their tea. These come in many shapes and sizes. Typically they can be the generic "tea ball." This is a small metal ball that comes apart into two pieces (or is hinged) to allow the tea leaves to be placed inside. It has a chain with a small clip on the end to keep it from falling into the cup when it's steeping. Nothing special. It works and they are really inexpensive. I have a few. Well, what if you'd like to introduce a bit of "whimsy?" The one I found is in the shape of a NASA Gemini space capsule and the chain ends with a space-suited man! Very cool. He's designed to hang on to the rim of the cup and keep your infuser from getting away from you and over-brewing the tea.

Ground Control To Major Tom?
The capsule opens at the bottom (the heat shield?) with a half twist. There is ample enough room inside for a healthy dose of tea leaves. Simply open it up, load the tea and drop it into the hot water (or pour it over, etc etc.) After I saw this tea infuser a while ago, I knew I had to have one! Unfortunately, it was way too much money to spend on something that duplicated the functionality of one I already had. I mean it was $19.99 and my regular ones were only .50! Big difference. Now, I will pay a premium for whimsy...within reason! It popped up on sale for $4.99 and that made it much more reasonable. After using it a couple of's actually fun. The spaceman bobs up and down a bit on the rim and the capsule rests nicely on the bottom or hangs in the liquid nicely. Oh, and it makes good tea as well!

Once in a while, I'll go for something that isn't just functional. It has to still perform that function, but in a more interesting way. It should look cooler or maybe do its job in a more complex and fun to watch way. This little beauty fit the bill nicely. Look around, you may find lots of little things to make your life on the road more interesting and fun!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Yet ANOTHER Way To Make Coffee In Your RV!

I like coffee, it's important for me to have a cup first thing in the morning. It was very important to me even before I bought my RV that it had a coffee maker built in. Without coffee in the morning, I'm not the happy "full of energy" guy everyone loves so much. Well, maybe that's a bit much...but mostly true! I have set up my RV to be able to make a good cup of coffee regardless of where I am and what power sources are available. 12 Volt, 120 Volt and Propane. Each one has its own method to get the best cup. Lots of folks wrote to me asking why I don't just buy a Keurig style k-cup machine. I have my reasons! Well, what are they?

This One COMES With The Product!
K-cup machines are easy and with the refillable filter baskets can be quite economical. The main reason was always POWER. A k-cup machine uses a high temperature element to boil the water and then a pump to push it through the k-cup. This uses a lot of 120 volt power in a very short time. Not really a problem when I am on shore power and after my solar panels charge my batteries I am good to go. Unfortunately, in the morning when the batteries are at their lowest of the day and the solar panels haven't fully charged the batteries is when I need my first cup. Most of the time, while boondocking I use my ancient aluminum percolator pot. Works great and the entire RV smells wonderful first thing in the morning. It does require some fiddling to get it set up when I am not fully awake, but I can get it done. It takes up very little cabinet space.

A k-cup machine is much easier to operate and by simply dropping in a k-cup it's ready to go. There are many 120 Volt versions available in most big box stores and retailers. You can get them with large water reservoirs and lots of bells and whistles. But even the smallest one takes up a lot of counter space all the time. And when you want to store it someplace when it's not in use, it does take up a lot of space that I don't have. I really do have to make the most of what little space I have available. So how do you combine the two? A HA! I found a machine that will allow me to use a k-cup no matter what power source I am on. I know it says"As Seen On TV," but I never saw it! As long as I can boil water and I can do that on 12 Volt, 120 Volt AND Propane, this machine will let me brew a nice single serving using a k-cup! You can also brew other hot beverages such as Hot Cocoa, Soup, and Tea with it. I've seen a great variety of k-cup flavors available in most markets. How?
Simple, It's a really slick intelligent design. The K-Cup goes in the base, the base goes right on top of your cup, you screw the water reservoir onto the base, boiling water (195 degrees, really)  goes in the top (there are cup size measurements printed on the side), the pressure, plunger lid goes on the top and you press down. It automatically punctures the k-cup and forces high pressure water through it into your mug as! I had to press down and release twice to get all the water out, but it was VERY easy. I have used the French Press method in the past, but the cleanup is a real pain. Especially all the grounds that have to get rinsed out. I try and keep food scraps out of my gray water system, if possible. Too many and too few dumps can begin to generate some very odd odors. It's not that hard to press down, but you can feel the pressure buildup in the reservoir while it is being compressed. That pressure is likely why it works so well. You have to be careful to press the flexible lid down from the edges so you do not "pump" it before it's sealed tightly.

Is the coffee any good? Yes! I was surprised that this worked so well on a k-cup! AND it was insanely easy to clean. Since there is nothing but hot, fresh water in the reservoir it doesn't get dirty and the base just holds the k-cup so a rinse is all that was needed to clean the whole thing. Then it stores in very little space in the cabinet. I'm sold. For under $20 it's yet another way to make a cup of Joe, wherever and whenever you like.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

[Editor: Here's a link to learn more or order this product at]