Q&A With Dick Eastman, the RV-ing Genealogy Blogger

Q&A With Dick Eastman, the RV-ing Genealogy Blogger

For the “Five Questions” interview of our March/April 2012 Family Tree Magazine (page 12), we asked genealogy blogger Dick Eastman about his adventures in his new RV. (March/April subscriber issues are mailing now, and the digital edition is available at Family Tree Shop. The issue will be on newsstands starting March...

For the “Five Questions” interview of our March/April 2012 Family Tree Magazine (page 12), we asked genealogy blogger Dick Eastman about his adventures in his new RV.

(March/April subscriber issues are mailing now, and the digital edition is available at Family Tree Shop. The issue will be on newsstands starting March 6.)

It was hard to choose just five of Dick’s answers for the magazine, so I’m putting all of them here. You can read even more about Dick’s peripatetic life from his RV blog.

Q. How long have you wanted to tour the country in an RV?

A. More or less forever. I don’t remember when the idea first occurred to me, although I know it was many years ago. I have traveled extensively for business and for personal vacations most of my life. The “vagabond lifestyle” appeals to me. Now, for the first time, I am a homeless person and am enjoying it.

Q. Are RVs hard to drive?

A. Not really. Physically, motor homes are very easy to drive. They have automatic transmissions, power steering, and power brakes. The physical effort involved is about the same as driving an automobile.

However, the driver does have to remember that the motor home is wider and taller than an automobile and it doesn’t stop as quickly. In other words, it doesn’t stop on a dime. Anyone driving a motor home soon learns to leave a lot of space between the motor home and the vehicle in front of them. You also have to keep an eye open for low bridges and overpasses.

Q. Where are you most looking forward to visiting in the RV?

A. Anyplace I have never visited before. While I have been fortunate enough to visit many well-known tourist attractions, I have missed hundreds of smaller “gems” and I hope to change that. I want to go to the balloon festival in Albuquerque, the huge airshow in Oshkosh, Wis., and drive the winding road in Deals Gap, NC and Tenn., which is supposedly the most winding road in North America, an attraction for anyone who owns sports cars. It has 318 curves in 11 miles. I hope to drive it in a sports car, not in the motor home. (I tow a car behind the motor home.)

Q. If 1 is someone who wakes up in the morning and decides on a whim where he’ll park the RV that night, and 10 is someone who plans out every detail of his itinerary months in advance, what number are you?

A. Probably a 2 or 3. I deliberately do not plan very much. I prefer to be surprised. Occasionally, it backfires, but most of the time it works well.

Q. Have you ever gotten lost in the RV? (While driving it, not inside it.)

A. No. Never. Of course, I do carry four GPSs, a road atlas, a thick book of all campgrounds in the United States, a cell phone, and two two-way radios. It is difficult to be lost.

Q. What do you consider the most essential item for the RV-ing genealogist to possess?

A. Patience. The second most important thing is a good toolkit: pliers, screwdrivers, and things like that. Unlike your home, everything in a motor home shakes when you are driving down the road. The appliances in a motor home suffer a lot more vibration than home appliances will ever encounter. Wires under the dash shake loose, pictures fall off the wall (I had this happen), and other strange things happen. I am almost always performing some minor repair of an unforeseen problem.

Q. If you had to pick, which one of these bumper stickers would you put on your RV?: “This is how I roll” or “Genealogy is TREE-rific!”?

A. Genealogy is TREE-rific!

Q. If you could choose anyone from history as your RV copilot, who would it be?

A. OK, I have to give you two answers: Lewis and Clark. Those two adventurers set off to see things they had never seen before.

I would give honorable mention to several Arctic and Antarctic explorers, except that they spent much of their time in very cold weather. I have already done that. I was born in Maine, lived in northern Vermont, lived in northern New Hampshire, and spent two winters in the Canadian subarctic amongst the Eskimos in in Labrador. I’ve seen my share of cold weather! Now I am seeking sunshine.

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  1. Dick’s right! Genealogy in an RV is the way to go! I spent 6 weeks in my Rialta RV genealoging from WA state to PA where a set of my ancestors lived. I was able to do research in archives, cemeteries, libraries, courthouses and local societies, parking right outside. Met awesome people and really felt my ancestors’ presence walking their neighborhoods. For frosting on the cake, I spent a couple of days at the Allen County and the SLC meccas. It’s nice to have your files with you and a table to sort out the day’s discoveries parked alongside the mill where your ggggrandfather ground corn. I highly recommend it!!

  2. I’m not very tall so probably need less space than you do. Ergo, my dream is to hop into a basic pickup truck with camper top and laptop and travel like John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley. Only sans dog so I can spend my time in repositories researching my ancestors. When I mentioned this at the local genealogy society, everyone in the room wanted to go, too. Perhaps a Wally Byam genealogy cavalcade is the answer. Happy travels! Maybe I’ll see you on the road. (Don’t laugh. My 25,000-mile honeymoon was spent in a Volkswagen van with pop top, toodling all over the US & Canada.)

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