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Uncommon Adventures for RVers

There’s a lot to be said for exploring new surroundings by foot, bicycle, or boat, but many nomads prefer to do it in more unusual ways.

From hot-air ballooning to gold prospecting, these Xscapers members are chasing down adventures and doing offbeat activities that blend surprisingly well with the RV lifestyle.

Catching Air with Kiteboarding

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Greg Haymond #125283 is a retired aero-space engineer from Connecticut. When his career wrapped up, a friend gifted him a kiteboarding setup, and Greg found his happy place riding above open water. “I love the feeling I get while riding the wind. I love the comradery you feel on a kite beach helping each other launch and land their kites.”

The kiteboarding process is simple.

According to Greg, kiteboarding involves flying a large kite, typically 8–17 square meters. The kite is flown with four lines that connect to a control bar. One person wears a harness around their waist that connects to two of the kite’s lines. “These two lines carry about 95 percent of power created by the kite,” says Greg. The two-person activity requires a friend to help launch the kite by picking it up and holding it aloft until it captures the wind. Then, once the kite is launched and under control, the kite-boarder walks out and “sits” in the water, then inserts their feet into the foot straps attached to the kiteboard.

“You then ‘dive’ the kite into the ‘wind window’ and the kite will pull you up out of the water and your kiteboard will start planing as it picks up speed,” says Greg. The kiteboarder flies the kite by “diving” and “raising” the kite in the wind window. “Once you get up on a plane, you can then ‘park’ the kite around ten or two o’clock and just ride,” he says. More advanced maneuvers can be done at that point, once the user gains experience and confidence. Greg says you don’t need tons of upper body strength to fly the kite; the wind does most of the work.

The equipment can be a bit awkward to stow in an RV, but Greg doesn’t mind. “It is a bit of a challenge carrying the gear since the kiteboard is about five feet long. The kite is about the size of two daypacks and then you have a hand pump, life vest, and a harness.” The packing constraints are okay by him. The sport takes him to beautiful oceanfront destinations along the Florida coast, into the Intercoastal Waterway, along the bay in Hayes, Virginia, and along the shore of Cape Cod, Massachu- setts. “This is an awesome sport for anyone who enjoys the water and sailing.”

Nugget Shooting for Fun and (Sometimes) Profit

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Eight years ago, an accidental chemical exposure stole Roger Brisson’s mobility, but it couldn’t take away his determination to get out and embrace those activities he can do. Nugget shooting is one of them.

“Having been an extreme athlete for years, rock and ice climbing, mountaineering, class-five white-water kayaker, and elite triathlete, up until eight years ago, I now am having difficulty walking 200 feet and having issues with strength and memory,” says Roger #158717. The former insurance claims adjuster doesn’t look back though. “I was faced with feeling sorry for myself or figuring out what else I could do given my limitations. Not being one to just sit around, I needed something that would get me out and about, keep my mind active and give me a challenge. That’s where prospecting came into play.”

Using a metal detector in search of gold, the activity known as “nugget shooting,” gets Roger out into the backcountry he loves. The equipment is small and easy to pack in any RV. “All my equipment fits in a 2′ x 2′ x 2′ section in a bin underneath the motorhome,” Roger explains. Basic tools to get started include a metal detector (models made for prospecting yield better results), a prospector’s pick, a plastic scoop, and a vessel to hold your gold. Brushing up on geology is helpful, as well as requires him to take time exploring the terrain while taking in the fresh air and getting exercise. In his moments of quiet contemplation around claims, he often reflects back on the hardships faced by old-time prospectors, awestruck and grateful for the ability to go over their claims with new technology.

Nugget shooting may sound lucrative, but the fun is really in the pursuit rather than in the actual gold you might discover. “Don’t do it to get rich. Chances are good you will not,” says Roger. Being persistent and patient is a necessary part of the process. “You have to be persistent and not give up. Once you do find some gold and gold fever hits, it is hard to forget about it.”

Hot-Air Ballooning

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RVing with hot-air ballooning equipment may seem like a hassle, but Fred and Christel Dinkler #135207 and Hector and Teri Corominas #134830 know that any inconveniences are totally worth the trouble. These air-bound adventurers find ultimate joy pursuing their passion for hot-air ballooning, especially because they get to share it with others.

“The best part about ballooning is every- one is happy when it comes to balloons,” says Teri. “We have made tons of friends all over the country, whether it was other balloonists, passengers, crew, or event staff. We have learned that we have been blessed to have a balloon to share with others that may not ever get to experience it.” The Dinklers echo Teri’s sentiments. “Being a full-time RVer has made it easier for us to do hot-air ballooning since we are able to travel to other great festivals in the U.S.,” says Christel. “We find this activity fulfilling as we are able to attend many hot-air balloon festivals and meet lots of people.”

Traveling with hot-air balloon equipment takes some doing, but these Xscapers have their systems down to a science. The Coro- minas travel with a toy hauler that carries their gear. “We have made our travels with the balloon very functional as we have a 2006 Keystone Raptor with a 10′ garage,” says Teri. “Once we park, we remove the hitch from our Dodge Ram dually and use the liftgate to load the balloon, and we use that as our chase vehicle. Obviously, we carry our home with us, so we have all the radios, ropes, etc. that we need to fly.”

The Dinklers roam with a separate truck and trailer for their ballooning setup, which requires careful planning to find campsites and parking spaces. “We travel with two vehicles (two trailers), so finding space in an RV can be a challenge,” says Christel. “Most RV parks have overflow parking or we have learned how to squeeze our equipment onto one RV space.”

The joy gained from a day in the sky always makes up for whatever logistical hassles they encounter. Teri adds, “Ballooning is something that brings out the joy in everyone and when you show interest in answering questions, doing tethered flights or simply pulling out the basket to light the burners, they love that you want to help them learn about ballooning.”

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Rene Agredano

Rene and Jim are enjoying their 15th year as full-time RVers and location-independent entrepreneurs. Follow their travels at LiveWorkDream.com

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