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Author: Zachary Rackovan

I am a 33 year old father of two amazing daughters! I am lucky to be married to the most amazing wife in the world. I am a retired Detective and currently pursuing my dream of living on the road with my family, while working as a professional photographer. My work can be found at www.abi-photo.com/art
Settling in and getting used to living on the road.

Settling in and getting used to living on the road.

We have officially been on the road since June 3, 2016, but we have not really had to live fulltime on the road until the past few weeks. We have had a few three week stretches that allowed us to stay with family. So since July 22 we have been out and about. I know it is not long but it is the start of us being gone for a while, a long while. More than likely we will be out for at least two months. Sure we could go back but we need to do this on our own. I don’t think that it has set in for the kids yet that we are not on a long vacation. Our youngest still refers to going “home” back where we used to live. It’s hard for them to really comprehend that we are full time with no end in sight. It is an adjustment but they will adapt in time.

So here are some of the highlights from the past month or so. We bought a new smoker! I know this sounds like no big deal, but if you knew me in my former S&B (sticks and bricks is code for a normal house) life you would know that I am an avid BBQer and not having a smoker was killing me. When we moved from the house I gave away 3, yes 3 smokers. Well I have wanted a Big Green Egg for a long time and they finally came out with the perfect RV friendly model, the Mini Max. It is short and round much like me, but fits well in the rear compartment. I have made some really great meals on her while we have been out. I made the most amazing brisket that I have ever had, yes Jeff even better than yours!  I have also done two pork butts, chicken wings, tenderloin, and steaks. It has been a great addition to the RV, even tho that little bugger is heavy weighing in at 90 lbs.

I forgot to mention in our last post that we were able to spend a week at the Lake of the Ozark with my step dad, it was AWESOME. The girls caught their first fish, using french fries as bait I might add. It was really nice to reconnect with him and let the girls get to know him better. I really missed spending time with him and I wish we could have stay even longer.

Last week we went to Holiday World with the girls and had a great time at the water park. Ashley loves roller coaster and it was amazing to see her getting excited to ride them all, and as a bonus the park seemed almost empty, no lines!

We then covered an event at NCM Motorsports Park which like always was a blast. And as I type this we are camping in north Nashville at a KOA. We are heading to see my uncle tomorrow evening and spend time with him and his family over the weekend. The best part is that is the exact reason that we did this, to reconnect with family, both our own and our extended. I am making a commitment to myself to keep after this blog and do my best to post more often. Thank you to those that read this and offer comments of support, it helps.

 

So long for now, back to my Egg it has a 9 pound pork butt smoking away and I need to adjust the temp. 🙂

 

Zachary

On the road and loving it!

On the road and loving it!

Sorry for the delay in the writing this entry we have been really busy. I am sure Ashley will laugh as she reads that… To be honest I have been busy, busy just being present. Enjoying the awesome experiences that we have had in the past two months. To make this brief we have visited the following states MO, IL, IN, TN, VA, WV, OH, and KY. It was a whirlwind as we did most of that in just under two weeks. We shot events at Virginia International Raceway, which was awesome! We also covered events at Putnam Park and the National Corvette Museum.

Living on the road has been an adjustment. We have come along way with the RV, last month we had our Solar package installed on the RV. I will write a detailed article on this later but to say the least it has changed the way we live. We are now free to do what we please in regards to paying for a campsite. It was expensive but in the end, totally worth it. We also installed our composting toilet, and I will again include this in the solar article for more in depth details.  All in all we are a greener family and loving the independence that it affords us.

We have been able to driveway surf while doing some of these upgrades which was nice. We were able to spend some time with my Grandparents which was really awesome. The kids don’t know how lucky they are to know these two amazing people. To have two great grandparents that are in awesome health and are able to have a blast with them.

We were also able to spend some time with my mother which was really nice. We tired a different approach when we stayed with her, we slept in the coach. It is hard for most people to understand, but it is our home. I know it sounds weird that we would rather stay in a camper than a house, but at the end of the day I like sleeping in my own bed just as much as anyone else.

So we are back to it and more will follow soon.

 

Zachary

 

First weekend as fulltimers…..

First weekend as fulltimers…..

 

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Well the sun has set on our first weekend as full timers.  It was a really busy weekend. I know that I have not taken the time to write in this blog and I hope that you all are still out there. The last few weeks have been pretty crazy.  We had to get everything we owned into either a dumpster, the RV, or the hand of a person who would buy it or at the least accept it as a gift.  I had no idea that we had so much stuff, I mean mountains of crap. Things that I cannot believe that we purchased, let alone moved from house to house all of these years. But after the 30 yard dumpster was filled and the craigslist ads were placed the stuff was gone. With the help of very nice family and friends we were able to get it all done. And in true Rackovan fashion, we left our home at 630pm the night before we had to be in Cloverdale, IN just 4 hours away… It made for a long night. This weekend was weird tho, you see we do this every weekend. Every weekend we load up the RV and head east to one racetrack or another to shoot pretty cars going fast, and sometimes motorcycles 🙂 So this weekend felt like any other, except I knew there was no drive home on Sunday. I was overjoyed all weekend because I knew that I didn’t have to make that long haul west. But at 5pm on Sunday the track had gone quite and the Porsches were packed, it occurred to me. I had no home to go to, that was like getting hit by a truck. I sat in the drivers chair and just pondered where to go… We had no plan, no reservation, and no direction. We decided to go to Best Buy in Avon, IN since there was something that I needed, and then grab dinner. Since we were tired we decided to have Texas Roadhouse, it was terrible. Then back to the camper we went, to figure out where to go. I check the phone and the camping options seemed bleak, so did the Wal-Mart options. So I headed West, no to St. Louis but back to Cloverdale, to a place that we are comfortable with, the Cloverdale RV park. The only reason that I didn’t want to stay here from the get go is that it is expensive, at least to me for what we get. Full hooks ups for $30.00 cash. They give you the huge discount of $0 for staying a full week, in fact the only way to get a deal is to stay for the entire month!

So we are here and getting ready to go to bed. We have an early morning followed by sorting the RV and the photos from this weekend. But so far so good.

 

Zachary Rackovan

 

 

Shakedown almost complete.

Shakedown almost complete.

Well it has been a pretty good week. We started off this trip with the goal of “living” in the RV. But, alas it was kinda like a vacation. One because we had a really good time, and two because we spent some money, alot of money. Nothing crazy, but we did have fun and eat well. The two trips to camping world didn’t help..

We started the week off in Cloverdale, IN shooting and event for the Central Indiana Porsche Club. It was a fantastic weekend filled with great people, beautiful cars, and of course a chance to take some really cool photos. On Sunday night we returned to a campground in Cloverdale, its not that great but they have water, sewer, and 30amp.the next morning we were to start our adventure. We went to downtown Indy and visited the children’s museum, it was pretty beat, but after a 4 hours I was ready to go. Next we set our sights on making our way to Bowling Green, KY.

 

We check the harvesthosts.com website and found an awesome farm that we could stay at. The place was amazing and had a great restaurant, we splurged and ate dinner out. Check out the view from our front door.

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I woke up with the sun and stepped outside and was amazed by just how amazing the surroundings were. I flew the drone and got some really cool footage, I’ll post it up later.

 

We then started off towards Owensboro, KY in search of Trunnel’s Family Farm. We had planned to stay their but the weather had other plans. We knew storms were coming in and that if we headed South we could avoid them, so South we went.

 

We arrived at the National Corvette Museum motorsports Park on Tuesday around 5pm. We hung and had some dinner, it was nice. The next day we did laundry and caught up on household duties.

 

We covered a Corvette event, on Thursday and Friday  which was a great time.

We are now shooting motorcycles and man is it a great group.

 

Well I am getting tired of typing.. I will finish this up tomorrow.

 

Zachary Rackovan

ABI Photo

Bittersweet

Bittersweet

Today is the last day that I will sign my name Detective, today is the last day that I will put on a badge and gun in defense of others. It is a bittersweet day, I just turned in all of my “stuff”. I was standing in the Captain’s office and looking at a pile of things on the floor. They are just things to the Captain but to me they hold memories. Memories of the job, memories of great times and some that were not so great.

I became a brother in this uniform. It linked me to some of the bravest men and women this county has to offer. I am proud that I served my city of pride. I am proud of what my fellow brothers do day in and day out. As I looked at the pile of uniforms on the floor I can’t help but think that my youngest daughter has never known me as anything but a police officer. She has always told people that her daddy was her hero because he catches bad guys. It will be odd to not be that anymore, now the only thing I am going to capture are photographs and memories.

All the guys are telling me that I will miss the job…. Well maybe, but I know for sure that I will miss the people that I shared this badge with. I have made great and long lasting friendships with these men and I do not take it lightly that they, without fail would give their lives to save mine, and I the same.

It is a weird feeling and it is hard to understand unless you have lived this life, felt this closeness, and felt this pain. My time spent serving the city will no doubt leave a mark on me, as I enter this new phase of life, I am not the same man I once was. Some for the good, and some for the bad. I long for the day where my radar fades and I am not as alert to the pain that is everywhere around me. But from what I understand that day will never come. I am forever cursed to notice expired plates, heroin and meth abusers, shoplifters, and the pain and fear that exist in peoples faces, even tho they think they can hide it.

But today is a day of celebration! A day that I get to return to my family whole, in one piece, except a few sore joints from years of wearing the belt, I am good. I ask that you remember the men and women that did not get to be so lucky. I have been to a handful of police funerals in my time on the job and each and everyone felt like loosing a member of the family, because we did.

But I am lucky, for I am whole. I am blessed to have the chance to embrace my family, our business, and a new way of life. I am thankful for the time that I have had, and grateful for the things I have learned, and most of all blessed for the brothers and sisters I have made.

Today starts a new chapter for us, today is a new day.

So for the final time.

Respectfully Submitted,

Det. Z. Rackovan #123 (ret.)

Getting ready for a shake down!

Getting ready for a shake down!

The title may not spell out what this post is about…

This Friday we are packing up for our first “shake down” not in the sense that we are going to be robbed at gun point, well maybe, depends on what all goes wrong with the RV.

On Friday afternoon we will head from St. Louis to Cloverdale, IN to cover an event for the Central Indiana Regional Porsche Club, at Putnam Park Road Course. We were originally going to head back home on Sunday after the event, only to travel to Bowling Green, KY on Wednesday. As I was making the 220 plus mile drive home last night from an amaing Midwest Cafe Racing event, the same drive I have done on dozens upon dozens of other Sunday nights on our pilgrimage back “home” to St. Louis, I was overcome with excitement! I looked over to my co-pilot/navigator who was currently playing on her phone (typical). I said “Hey, you know what? We won’t have to do this anymore!” No more will we have to rush “home” after a long weekend in the sun and heat shooting races. No more will I have to stop at the rest stop just past Effingham, IL to sleep for an hour, just to push the final amount home. I know what you are thinking, 220 miles?,  you could probably do it with no issue. But I work outside in the  elements all day on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday night Ashley sorts 4000+ photos into nice little groups so that we can present them to the drivers/riders on Sunday and sing for our supper. Sometimes I have the energy to stay up and “help” which consist of me talking to her to keep her awake. But others I am so wiped that I am showered and asleep by 8. So Sunday rolls around and we are excited, tired, but excited to show the work we both just made. However, by Sunday afternoon the day gets long. Then I am reminded by the sight of someone else packing up to leave, that soon I will have to make that 220 mile drive back “home” once again. Only to return to another 5 days of working at the police department, and to do this all over again next weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love what we do and would not have it any other way. Well except for shooting in the rain…shooting in the rain can go pound sand.

 

Back the exciting part! We are going to stay in Cloverdale, after the Porsche event on Sunday! Then we will meander and I mean meander the four hours south to the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park. We have a huge weekend there with the NCM Corvette Bash for two days followed directly by Midwest Trackday having a two day motorcycle event. Its going to be a long week and a half but, I will be working for myself and only myself. There will be no more trips back home to return to another 5 day work week. We will be returning back “home” after the Midwest Trackday event but I will be done with the PD. I will be in full “get our S#@$ together mode”. I have a huge list of things to get done that will take not only my time, but $$$ as well. So it is time to buckle down and get. it. done.

 

So back to the “shake down” we are going to use this long trip to kinda see what it is like to “live” in the RV. Right now we take trips in it, we don’t live in it. So this will be our first time having to take more than 3 days of food with us. It will be the first time that the kids will have to realize that this is not a road trip, but life. Meaning we don’t eat out when we are on the road, we cook dinner. We don’t need snacks for the “trip”, we don’t have to rush, we don’t have a time clock. I know that this all sounds mundane, but making the transition from road trip to living seems harder than it looks. One of the biggest things for me is to learn to keep the RV clean and organized. Now I am just as guilty as the rest of them, well not Addison, she is a hot mess.  But there is this idea in the family that we will keep it “up” but that we will do the full cleaning on Monday after we get home, and of course by we, I mean Ashley. So it is important to me that we organize the coach so that we can walk around and not feel cramped inside. We carry quite a bit of equipment with us to do our jobs but we need to figure out a way to minimize the impact that it has on our RV living space. So gone are the days of just piling all of our crap on the bed in the back room! Wow this was supposed to be just a quick post, turned out I had a little more to say.

 

I can’t tell you how good I feel about this change, still completely terrified, but good. Really good. I am excited to start this chapter of our lives.

Well that is all for now, back to making the list of things we need to do and banks to rob in order to afford it… Just kidding, well maybe. 🙂

 

Zachary R.

 

 

Holy cow what a week!

Holy cow what a week!

I don’t even know where to start…

On Monday 04-11-2016 I officially retired from the police department as a Detective. I was nervous about this meeting as I was unsure how the Chief would take the news. I couldn’t be happier with the way he handled it. First of all to allow me to retire with only 8 years on the job was really amazing. Second, he was supportive of what my family and I have decided to do, he even commented that he has been looking at Super C RV’s and plotting a possible move to somewhere warmer. So this was a HUGE weight lifted off of me, Ashley can attest that this has been keeping me up at night. The second part of why this is hard is something only police officers will understand. Giving up your badge is like giving up a piece of your identity. When people used to introduce me it was always “This is my friend Zack, he’s a cop.” So as a police officer that starts to become your identity, and when you give that up it is a huge change. But I am happy to be introduced as a retired police officer :).

The next thing is WE MOVED! We are finishing up the paper work to become Texans! The US Government requires us to “live” somewhere. So then we decided  why live in a state that milks us for every nickel and dime they can?? So the solution, Texas! We contacted mail forwarding and domicile company that will walk you through the process of being a real life Texan, lol.

So the next step was we needed to get heath insurance. We contacted Coleen Elkins at 24-7 Health Insurance  and we were blown away by the level of service and attention to detail that she provided. With in two days we had navigated the murky waters of Obamacare and had secured some pretty darn good coverage, for get this… LESS then what she originally quoted. How often does that happen, an insurance agent under promising and OVER delivering! I can’t say enough about how awesome she is.

Last night we finally told our neighbors what was going on and what our plans were. They finally could make sense of why U-Hauls kept showing up to take away random pieces of furniture that we sold on craigslist. 🙂

The best part was being able to finally post what was going on to our collection of friends on Facebook, the out pouring of support was awesome. I am not going to lie, I have been flat out terrified about this move from the moment Ashley and I decided this was a go. But the support of a loving wife, close friends, and people that truly care about us make it possible to continue to push forward.

Ashley also got a ton of stuff done inside of the RV. She has been painting like a mad women to get the coach up to snuff with her decorating standards. She still has a lot to go but it looks a ton better then it used too. I also ordered a new shower head and faucet for the shower, it should make for a better experience.

The final things for us to purchase/complete are installation of the solar charging system, paint, composting toilet, bunk beds, and I am sure various other stuff that I have not remembered.

I want to thank each and everyone of the people that read this blog, all 3 of you 🙂 It means a lot that you take the time to follow my thoughts and care enough to comment with your words of support.

So until next time,

Zachary

 

Oh did I mention that I retired!

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Wow it has been a while!

Wow it has been a while!

Sorry for the delay in the making posts it has been a crazy month. We have completed many items on the checklist! The Magnum Power system has been completed thanks to a very good friend who helped me complete the install. We now have a 3000w Pure Sine Wave Hybrid inverter that supplies 110ac to all of our Rv with the power directly from the batteries. It also has a much more efficient charging system that will allow us to extend the life of our on board batteries.

The next big project was completing the floors in the coach. We ripped all of the carpet out of the coach (it was super gross). We then replaced it with SmartCore flooring from Lowe’s. It is a vinyl floor with a rigid core so it goes in like laminate flooring, but it has the waterproof nature of vinyl. Ashley and I are extremely happy with the way it turned out! A huge thanks to my Dad for helping with the install, he is one of our biggest supporters! I will also be making an effort to post more and put up more images.

We also have an instagram page that you can follow us on for more images! Click here for @8feet12paws.

Until next time, thank you for all of the support. I can tell you that when you make a huge change like this you really see who your friends are and learn to cherish the support that they show.

Zachary

www.8feet12paws.com

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Work on getting the electrical system updated has begun!

Work on getting the electrical system updated has begun!

I have a very good friend who is swinging by today to help me get my head wrapped around installing a Magnum Hybrid Inverter/Charger. This will also us to use “household” power while off the cord and not running the on board generator. Stay tuned we will post images of the installation and the way that we do it!

In other news all of the carpet is out of the camper. We have just over three weeks until we have our first event and have to get painting and the flooring done prior to that, it is going to be a busy few weeks!

See you soon.