Friday, October 27, 2017

The Geeks go to Kansas City to see Victor and Penny

This is the way we travel. We book speaking engagements (gigs) and travel from one to the next. When we finish one gig, we look at the calendar, then we look at the map. If there's time, we find someplace in between this gig and the next where we can play a little. We were very excited about visiting Kansas City to see Victor and Penny, but we had no idea what other goodies lay in store.
Kansas City is cool!
First of all, we found a Casino parking lot that allowed overnight parking. It was right on the banks of the Missouri river and easy walking distance to downtown.




We walked a little ways to the City Market, then we caught the free city trolley up to the Union Station and the WWI Memorial. We had a gorgeous day!


View of Kansas City from the WWI Memorial park

Just by luck, we decided to step inside Union Station and we read the first billboard about "Living History." It's an app that adds Augmented Reality to your phone, you see people and things from history and you can even take a picture. One story was about how people danced the Charleston, and Jim even got in the action.

After all that fun, it got even better as we made our way to the Knuckleheads Saloon where Victor and Penny were playing that night.


In this video you can see the whole story, and hear them play!




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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Farm and Barn

Traveling thru the midwest, you see a lot of farmhouses and barns. Every one is an artist's dream. I can just imagine a painter setting up her easel and spending hours in the golden light capturing the faded glory of a rundown barn. All I have is a fleeting second speeding by on the highway, but my phone's camera is ready and I snap a hasty photo thru the bug-splattered windshield.

Looking at this mess, you wonder, "Was it even worth the effort of holding the phone and tapping the shutter button? Well, with the photo editing tools at our disposal now - I think you'll be surprised.
First, just using the basic tools of Google Photos, I can crop, color correct and enhance the photo I took.

That's a lot more attractive than the original picture I snapped. In fact, I kinda like it! I like it so much that I wonder what another app can do. It's called Prisma and it is pure magic. It uses different artists styles and somehow takes your photograph and converts it to artwork in various styles. Just one tap on my phone's screen creates each of these images.








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Ozark Country

We had a full week in between the Workamper Rendezvous and our next gig about 600 miles away. We looked at the map and saw that Kansas City wasn't that far off the route. Our musical friends - Victor and Penny are based in Kansas City and we knew from Facebook that they would be performing in town the next weekend. "Sounds like we have a plan!" I told Jim. So we headed northwest from Arkansas to Kansas City. This map shows our route. Then our next destination is the black dot by Davenport.


Between Heber Springs, Arkansas and Kansas City is a National Park called Buffalo National River. It was right on our route, so we stopped over and took a look at the Visitor Center, then took a walk down by the river. This area is generally known as the Ozarks. It's a high plateau covering parts of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The plateau is broken up by canyons, cliffs and caves, making for some remarkable scenery. But the area is probably best known for all the shows in Branson!
In the parking lot at Buffalo River National Park

Just about a half hour further up the road was an Escapees RV park where we've stayed before. It's called Turkey Creek RV just south of Branson, MO. The Verizon signal was even good enough that we could do our Button Show from there: Episode 127 How about a $59 Smartphone?

The view out our window on a rainy morning 


Studio "R" for Roadtrek!

After leaving Turkey Creek, we needed lunch and I knew we would be passing by the famous place where they throw rolls at you ...

On Thursday, we had an appointment at an RV repair place Transwest Truck and Trailer. You see, our awning blew down while we were camped in Heber Springs (did I forget to mention this?) and we were hoping they could re-attach it. They did!
We stayed one night just parked in the parking lot at the repair shop, then, when the job was done, we found an Elks Lodge nearby. Very comfortable. Very secluded. Very nice. We are so at home wherever we are!





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Monday, October 23, 2017

Workamper Rendezvous - a great week in Arkansas

We were booked to give our seminars at the workamper Rendezvous event in Heber springs, Arkansas for the dates of October 16-20. It's nearly 1200 from home. In our old, big rig, we would have allowed 5 days: 4 days driving, 1 day to spare. In our Roadtrek we allowed 4: 3+1. As it turned out it only took 2.5. This event was a little different from most on that it was held at a community center and we parked a few miles away at a corps of engineers campground. We usually park right at the event, and we like the convenience of living where we work. But this was such a nice campground! We really appreciated beauty, and since we were there a couple days early, we enjoyed it for a whole week.



The downside of traveling in our Roadtrek is that we only have the one vehicle, so we have to break camp, unplug, stow everything inside, and drive our motorhome to the event. It's not that bad though, since there are no slides and no stabilizing jacks. There's not that much stuff inside, and we're learning how to keep it stowed all the time. We got a lot of practice this week!


It was a larger crowd than we expected for our seminars. There were over 200 people and they all attended every seminar because there was only one series instead of 2 and 3 choices like at most rallies. We taught them how to make a blog, how to stay connected to internet whole traveling, and what apps we like to use. Then we had 2 special sessions after the event where we taught smart phone photography in small, hands on groups.




As usual, we also learned new stuff ourselves as we taught, but this time not all of it was good. After showing our favorite app for finding campground and other places too park - Allstays Camp and RV - we were told that they couldn't find it in the Google Play Store. Sure enough, we verified that it has been removed. It's still available in the iPhone. We're looking for suggestions for a replacement app on Android

The best part about this beautiful campsite? It also has really good Verizon service, so we were able to do a Facebook live session one day.


Sunday, October 01, 2017

World War II Museums

We decided not to go back home before our New Orleans gig, so we had a week to play. I opened TripAdvisor  on my iPhone to see if there was something we should do in the Mobile area before heading to New Orleans. Trip Advisor always has something good to suggest in their things to do section. The one that struck our interest this time was the GulfQuest Maritime museum. In reading thru the reviews, someone mentioned how it was a perfect match for the book she was reading called "The Matthews Men." We are always looking for good books to read - so we looked up Matthews Men on Kindle and downloaded it along with the Audible companion - and Jim and I started listening to it when we drove. What a story! Did you know that the merchant marines had the highest WWII casualty rate of any american group, yet, because they weren't a branch of the military they got NO compensation or recognition for their sacrifices. The book follows one family with 7 brothers, 2 of whom were killed in torpedo attacks on their ships. The others were also torpedoed several times by German U-Boats, but they survived. When they returned, they had no GI bill to go to school, no help with mortgages to buy a house, no VA hospital to treat their ailments.

The museum was great! It also gave us another reason to love our little Roadtrek. No problem parking in the lot that only had regular car-size spaces.

The museum was all about the Gulf of Mexico, Merchant Marines during WWII, and just about anything that had to do with the sea. I think my favorite exhibit was a huge, high-tech globe, suspended in the middle of a room. A docent was there with a tablet. From the tablet, she could control the globe and display different data sets on its face. For example, you could see the ocean currents displayed as arrows and different colors to represent temperature. The photo below is showing all the commercial air flights that are in the sky at a given time. The most memorable data set was hurricanes. Seeing them all displayed on a globe made it so clear how there are no hurricanes around the middle. You're safe if you're near the equator!


So, this museum was not really about WWII, but since the Mobile area played such an important ship-building role during the war, there was a lot of info on it.

The main focus was the history of the Gulf region. Here was a piece of history I found particularly compelling, how one ship, one storm, one shipwreck played a major part in shaping the world as we know it.


The museum was right on the water at the cruise ship dock. We were lucky to be there at just the right time to see a big cruise ship cast off and start their cruise.


National WWII Museum in New Orleans

A few days later, in New Orleans, we also checked Trip Advisor and saw the National World War II Museum. We were now further along in our book and were learning all sorts of things about WWII, German U-Boats, Ship building to support the war, and Merchant mariners supporting troops. We had to go to this museum.
As good as the GulfQuest museum was, this one was even better. It started with a movie by Tom Hanks that summarized the entire war in 60 minutes. Very well done.
At the beginning of your tour of the museum you are issued a card with a magnetic strip - you activate the card at one of the exhibits and are given the identity of a soldier. Throughout the other exhibits, you can swipe your card and see how your soldier is doing. It really made the history come alive.

The museum made extensive use of videos. Each exhibit was an immersive experience.



If you're in New Orleans, this is a Must See museum.


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