Mike Michael Fischer

After a high-tech career spanning software development and systems administration to leading hundreds of engineers across cities and continents, I'm now slowing things down a bit. Traveling full-time in an RV with my awesome wife Kathie and our two big dogs Max and Opie, I'm now pursuing smaller personal software projects while seeing North America up close.

All articles by Mike

 

2016 Year In Review

One of our goals for 2016 was to drive shorter distances and stay a little longer at each destination. In general we succeeded, and appreciated the slower pace (and fuel savings!). January, February, and March: We spent these winter months mostly in southwestern Arizona. We had several dentist visits in Los Algodones Mexico, we upgraded our...
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Cortez Colorado Continued…

In Part 1 of our Cortez visit, we spent a lot of time exploring the remains of many ancestral Pueblo dwellings in the area. While we were in the area, we also took a day to visit nearby Durango: We picked up a free self-guided walking tour at the welcome center (also available online) and explored...
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Colorado here we come

With our dental work in Mexico wrapped up, we immediately got back into travel mode, driving 600 miles in two days (with an overnight stop in nice cool Flagstaff Arizona) to reach Cortez in southwest Colorado. The area was in the midst of a heat wave, but 95° still felt so much nicer than 115°!...
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Rover needs some attention

After our week at the beach we relocated to Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, about 30 minutes from Mission Bay. Apart from taking Opie back to various beaches every few days our original plan was to relax and catch up on some maintenance. Alas, that was not to be! Instead we dealt with multiple unexpected RV repairs, including...
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Into the Fire

Our mini-tour of National Parks complete, it was time to make the long-dreaded trek back to Yuma, Arizona for Kathie’s June dental follow-up visit. The heat we encountered at Zion was nothing compared to what was in store for us! The trip from Zion to Yuma was going to take two days so we headed...
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Lake Powell Arizona and crossing into Utah

With the Grand Canyon in our rear view mirror we headed north again to Page Arizona. We’d never heard of Page until reading others’ blog posts and recommendations, but we had heard of Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell (both in Page) so we made it our next destination. We stayed at the very nice Wahweap Marina...
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Grand Canyon: More than Meets the Eye

From Sedona to the Grand Canyon’s south rim is only a 115 mile drive north by car, but by motorhome it’s an extra thirty miles. Arizona 89A north out of Sedona has tight mountain switchbacks and strict vehicle length limits, so we had to head south out of Sedona back to the interstate. It’s always...
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Waiting out Winter in the California Desert

From Borrego Springs we made the relatively short drive to Indio, at the southern end of California’s Coachella Valley. The drive along S22, the Borrego Salton Seaway, was remarkably scenic, reminiscent of Badlands National Park on a much smaller scale. Unfortunately the last five miles or so of the road are in such poor condition we...
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Borrego Springs Sculpture Tour

Our plan all along has been to stay in the southwest for the winter where the temperatures are warm and the skies are clear (good for solar power!). After our boondocking stints near Yuma and Quartzsite we headed west to California, making our first stop in Borrego Springs, a little town tucked out of the way...
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Solar Rover, Part 3: Inverter Upgrade

In late 2015 we installed 600 watts of solar panels on Rover’s roof. You can check out Part 1: Who Go Solar? and Part 2: The Install for more background on our solar setup. The solar panels are just one part of our “boondocking electricity equation”, letting us slowly recharge our batteries during the day (if it’s sunny), where in the...
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2015 Year In Review

It’s January 2016, and it’s hard to believe we’ve been on the road for 20 months. Where 2014 was about getting started and learning the ropes, 2015 was an amazing year of exploring the U.S, as we made a complete loop around the country. Here’s a quick look back at 2015, with a few selected...
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Solar Rover, Part 2: The Install

As discussed in Part 1, we decided to do our own solar install rather than paying someone else to do it. Apart from saving a good chunk of money, this gave us a much better understanding of how the system works, which hopefully means it’ll be easier for us to troubleshoot in the future if...
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Solar Rover, Part 1: Why Go Solar?

After thinking about it for over a year, we’ve finally decided to add solar panels to Rover’s roof. This was a big project for us, including months of planning and a month of on-and-off work on the installation. Because there’s so much to say (and show), I’m dividing the information into two blog posts. Part 1...
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Maps for RVers

The more traveling around the country we do, the more interesting and useful maps we come across. Below are a selection of maps that you might find interesting, along with a link or reference to the source data wherever possible. Have a favorite map we missed? Leave a comment below! Average Monthly Temperatures Wondering where...
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Carnival and (even more) Coasters

We’ve said it before, but these Six Flags season passes turned out to be great for our first circuit around the U.S.! For around $70 per person we got 14 months worth of entry to all Six Flags parks, including free parking (which is usually $20-$25 per visit). As we continued our journey back to...
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Crossing New York

Our next stop on the eastward trek was Niagara Falls. One thing we didn’t count on though was Labor Day weekend. You’d think we would have learned by now, after Thanksgiving 2014 and Independence Day 2015, but we got stuck again with no place to stay. I made a list of RV Parks and campgrounds...
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Installing a propane accessory hose

Today we finally installed something we’ve been wanting for close to a year: a propane accessory “Tee” adapter and hose. Now that it’s done, we wish we hadn’t waited so long! Up until now, our portable Weber grill relied on 16 oz. disposable propane cylinders (pictured above). While these were relatively inexpensive (around $6 for...
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A hail of a storm

Yesterday started out as another beautiful day here in Custer, South Dakota. Hot (high 80s), clear blue skies, and some moderate winds, just like every day here. The forecast called for a 50% chance of rain in the afternoon, and by around 4:30PM the sky got very dark, winds picked up, and some intermittent sprinklings...
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Glacier National Park: Grinnell Glacier

above: taking a break, with Grinnell Lake just coming into view on the left Our final hike was to Grinnell Glacier on the east side of the park. It would take almost three hours to get to the trailhead if we drove from West Glacier, so instead we packed up Rover and drove around the park to...
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Glacier National Park: Highline Trail

above: part of the Highline Trail We woke up early for our big day. Incidentally, we found a great web site with details about all of Glacier’s hikes… here’s Hiking Glacier‘s information about the Highline-Loop Trail. We headed out nice and early and had an easy drive (no tourist traffic yet!), arriving at The Loop...
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Glacier National Park: Indescribable Beauty

I’ll state this right up front: Glacier National Park in Montana is our new favorite National Park. We have plenty more to visit, but we were so impressed by Glacier that I’m not even sure where to begin with writing about it. One thing’s for sure: it’s going to take more than one blog post....
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Driveway camping in Washington

  above: our view of Mt. Saint Helens from the road to parking area. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to “Driveway Camp” (camp in friend’s or family member’s driveway). Until now we’d done it in New Hampshire, Long Island NY, and our most recent time was all the way back in October in Florida....
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A Bend in our Route

When we originally made our plans to travel up the Pacific coast from San Diego to Seattle, we envisioned staying as close to the coast as possible by taking US-101 most of the way. We’ve heard from pretty much everyone that the Oregon coast is not to be missed. After reaching the northern end of...
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Adjusting HWH Leveling Jacks

During our first few months living in Rover we realized that our auto-leveling jacks weren’t quite working as expected. Very few campsites we’ve been to (if any) are perfectly level, so the “auto level” function is supposed to extend each of the four corner jacks an appropriate amount, lifting Rover’s left, right, front, or back...
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Upgrades, a visit with friends, and Crater Lake

Our trip into Oregon was twisty and slow. Highway 199 is definitely doable in a big rig, but it takes patience and full attention. Sheer cliffs, steep drop-offs, blind turns, and narrow lanes make it a beautiful but technical course. 199 took us to Grants Pass, where we had an appointment to install upgraded springs...
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Trees, trees, trees

Our next stop was another two hours north in California, this time in the tiny town of Redcrest. The town (and our campground) lies at the northern end of the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Avenue of the Giants. The Avenue is the old 101 highway which is now a scenic route that winds...
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Taking it slow in San Luis Obispo

About halfway between the Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay area lies San Luis Obispo. Apart from being a great town, it’s also very close to Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, and Morro Bay. We found a great county park to camp in just a few miles from town. El Chorro Park is a...
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Northward We Go (To Los Angeles)

After our four-month journey west(ish) from Florida to San Diego, we’ve finally turned north once again. Thus begins our slow crawl (so that we don’t catch up to winter) up the Pacific coast. Once we reach Seattle we’ll turn east for the summer. We split our Los Angeles stay into two parts: first, we stayed...
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Favorite Campgrounds of 2014

above: Lake Fairfax County Park, Reston VA Following up on our 2014 Year In Review post, we want to also share our favorite campgrounds of 2014. Since we had never been RVing before buying Rover, we didn’t really know what to expect out of campgrounds and RV parks. As we’ve stayed in more and more places,...
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Phoenix is for Friends and Doctors

above: the fountain in Fountain Hills can reach 560′ in height. After Tucson we made a relatively short three-hour drive north to Phoenix. Phoenix wasn’t really on our list of places to visit, but we had two good reasons to go. First, some friends from home were planning to attend the Super Bowl in Phoenix,...
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Adding a Swiveling TV Mount

Another RV upgrade we recently made was installing a swiveling TV mount for Rover’s main TV. We’re lucky that the living room TV in the Allegro 36LA is directly opposite the sofa, which is a much better placement than in most other RVs we’ve seen. Take a look at many RV floor plans and you’ll see that their TVs...
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Adding RV Power Protection to Rover

One of the upgrades on our wish list since we purchased Rover was a full-featured RV power protection system. Every week or two we’re plugging into a different RV park or campground, and there’s no guarantee that they all have consistent and reliable power circuits. We’ve heard from RVers who have had systems in their...
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2014 Year In Review

Our first year of RVing is over, so it’s time to take a look back at a few milestones for 2014. First, some events leading up to our life reboot: January: Ordered our Tiffin Allegro 36LA motorhome at the Tampa RV Super Show. February: Lots of work to prepare the house for sale, and lots...
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Creating Route Maps with OpenStreetMap

When we started our full-time RVing, I knew I wanted to keep a map of each year’s travels. I started by creating Google maps with our approximate route from campground to campground, but I soon ran into a limitation: Google now only allows up to ten destinations on a map. After trying many solutions, I...
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Big Bend Part Two

After our stay at the eastern edge of Big Bend, we packed up and drove west through the park to an RV park in the “town” of Lajitas, TX. Lajitas was bought up entirely and developed into a resort, golf course, spa, and RV park, most of which were deserted while we were there. We...
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Away From It All At Big Bend National Park

Above: One of the amazing views from the Lost Mine Trail. We finally made it to Big Bend National Park! We’ve been looking forward to visiting for a while, but we knew it would be a challenge, both getting here and camping without electric hookups. The park itself is larger than the state of Rhode...
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A bit of this, a bit of that

According to our grand plan, during the past three weeks we were supposed to be touring Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Things didn’t quite turn out that way… sometimes life gets in the way of plans, but we tend to just go with the flow! We were surprised to find that Thanksgiving week is a big...
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Blue Angels Homecoming Show 2014

After Tallahassee, our next planned destination along I-10 west was New Orleans. At around a 400 mile drive, it was a longer trip than we were willing to make in one day. About halfway between the two cities lies Pensacola, a reasonable place for an overnight stop. We had learned a few weeks earlier that...
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A Relaxing, Waterfront, Ho-hum Week

  Once the rest of our 6-month repairs were completed on Rover, we made our way to Carrabelle, FL. Our route west put Tallahassee as our next likely destination, but after some research we decided we’d prefer something a little quieter and away from big cities. Carrabelle is about 45 minutes south of Tallahasse, right on...
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Changing Your Home Base in Google Maps

Update December 2015: Google changed something in late 2015 and as far as I can tell, it is no longer possible to manually set your home location. The only alternative I’ve found is if you use the Google app on your phone and allow it to track your location, the location will carry over to...
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Six Months Down, So What’s Next?

In the six months since moving into Rover, we’ve traveled from Tampa Florida to Peterborough New Hampshire and back. We’ve challenged the narrow, bumpy, and expensive route onto Long Island NY, the steep and winding local highways through the Vermont mountains, and countless of miles of US Interstates. Our GPS has faithfully kept track of every mile....
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A Change of Pace

Our last two weeks have been a little different than usual. Since we were back in Florida we decided to have our Tampa RV dealer, Lazydays, repair a bunch of little issues that have cropped up during our first six months. Rover has a one-year warranty so we’re about halfway through it. Fortunately we’ve had no...
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Wizarding World of Harry Potter

After Savannah it was time to head to Universal Orlando (yay!). The last time we were there, they were still constructing the new Harry Potter section, so we only caught a glimpse of it from behind fences. We also timed this visit to meet up with Gray and Cindy again during their van-based travels through...
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Historic Savannah Georgia

Our next stop on our return trip south was Savannah Georgia. We stayed at a beautiful campsite in Skidaway Island State Park, with huge sites, towering trees draped with spanish moss, and plenty of hiking trails to walk with the dogs. The only downside to the campground was the large number of mosquitos—even with our...
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Myrtle Beach by way of Augusta

After Dragoncon we spent a week and a half in Augusta Georgia. It wasn’t on our list of places to visit, but it was a good halfway point (give or take) on our way to Myrtle Beach, which we were headed to for our first RV Rally. I’m both embarrassed and pleased to report that...
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Dragoncon 2014

Last week was a whirlwind of activity as we attended our second Dragoncon. For those not in the know, Dragoncon is an enormous science fiction/fantasy convention held annually in Atlanta. It’s similar to the more famous Comic-Con but rather than a corporate-sponsored event it’s a 100% volunteer-driven convention. Estimates for 2014 attendance are in the 60,000...
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Northeastern Friends and Family

I think we finally out-ran summer! After picking up Rover in Florida at the end of April, we’ve been slowly making our way North, but not fast enough to escape some brutal heat and humidity. By the time we made it to New Jersey it was already July and summer was in full swing with days...
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Hudson River Rail Trail

We just spent a week in Red Hook New York and had our first opportunity to break out our bicycles (newly retrieved from storage while passing through Maryland) and go for a ride. Not too far from Red Hook is the Walkway Over The Hudson, a 212-foot high railroad bridge built in 1888 and converted to...
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Our First Weigh-In

Above: Kathie standing next to a raw 24,000 lb. rated chassis. Just like humans (and dogs), RVs need to stay a healthy weight. In fact, if your RV is overweight, the consequences can be costly (chassis or axle damage) or deadly (decreased braking ability). Rover’s front axle is rated to carry a maximum of 9,000 lbs, his rear...
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Charleston, First Shots of the Civil War

Charleston turned out to be a fun place to visit, full of history and culture. One of the first things we did was take a ferry to Fort Sumter on a tiny island in the Charleston harbor. The fort was built to protect the U.S. coast from european invasion, and was manned by U.S. soldiers. It...
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