Monday, July 17, 2017

Off to work we go

It's cool how our life has evolved. We've  been presenting seminars at every FMCA national convention since 2005. They do 2/year, so that's 24 rallies so far. They're usually one in the east and one in the west. Between the FMCA and the Escapees "Escapade" rally - that's what sets our primary travel itinerary each year. Then, in between rallies we play - or go home to Florida. We also fill in with other rallies, RV parks, senior centers, computer clubs, and even people's homes. Wherever people gather who like to learn about technology - you may find us there.

This time, the destination was Indianapolis for the FMCA convention. First stop - a friend's driveway in Gainesville area. We try to stay and visit Alex any time we're passing by. Now, with this little RV, its so easy! Alex likes to travel by RV also and she has a little Casita trailer. We think she would like the Roadtrek as well, so it was fun to get to show it to her. I wouldn't be surprised to see her get one sometime soon.


And, we lucked out while we were there, another friend, Mark Miale, was playing music at nearby One Love Cafe. If you ever get the chance, go hear him, he's really good. Here's his website: MarkMiale.com with lots of samples of his music.

Ok, now we're ready to get off to work! No other stops along the way so we're just in travel gotta-get-there mode. When this is the case we often stay at Walmarts and Cracker Barrels. We find them by using our trusty All Stays Camp and RV app. It doesn't matter when we get there, no reservations required and there's everything we need in the way of food and supplies. At Cracker Barrel we get dinner AND breakfast!

We didn't even need to use the special RV parking spots! We fit into any parking spot - and this one was more level.
Another place we can stay for no extra charge is Thousand Trails RV parks. We pay an annual membership fee, and then can stay for up to two weeks each at about 50 different parks around the country. One of these was on our way and not too far from Indianapolis. We can also use our Allstays App to find these. See this highlight from our What Does This Button Do show that demonstrates how to do that. Finding Thousand Trails Parks with Allstays.

We always like staying at Thousand Trails.


Even pulling into the FMCA rally was simpler with the Roadtrek. Parking us is always a bit of a problem because they have specific areas for Vendors, and for Attendees. But we're not vendors and we're not just an attendee. We are in a class almost by ourselves as Seminar Presenters. A few others are in this category - Wayne and Dahelia Hunt who teach the fitness classes, Al Hesselbart who teaches RV History, Roger Marble who teaches about Tires and Genealogy (that goes together like fish and bicycles?!) These are people that we see twice each year at FMCA because we're usually parked together. But, since there are so few of us, the parking crew is usually clueless as to where to put us. Now, when we drive in with a Roadtrek - they point "over there are all the Roadtreks!" Hey, that's fine with us. Roadtreks usually get electric hookups, are near the bath houses, and are near the activities because its understood that people traveling in these little motorhomes don't have cars to get around and generally like to have the shower facilities nearby as well.
Roadtrekers are a social bunch
One of the first people we ran into was Mike Wendland and his wife Jennifer. They run the website Roadtreking.com and he wanted to interview us about our transition to the small motorhome lifestyle.
http://roadtreking.com/rv-podcast-episode-151-downsizing-rv/
Then it was time to get to work. We had to go to an Office Depot to get a bunch of stuff printed (using the remarkable FMCA Office Depot discount) Then it's Jim's job to package the printouts with our USB drives of all our teaching content - videos and .pdf files - that we include with our special membership offer during the rally. And it's my job to review all our seminars and be sure we're ready for our presentations.

Here was our schedule:

Then it's a blur for 4 days of the rally.






This is the hands-on class on smartphone photography. People learn by doing. 
Here's a sweet little slide-show / movie that Facebook put together of these days.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The summer tour begins

After only ten days at home, we had to hit the road in order to get to Indianapolis and the FMCA summer convention. It was so much fun to be packing the little boy camper. We could park it right in front of the townhouse and carry items back and forth.

Is there a space for this? Yeah, it fits perfect. But not this ... can I do without it?

Do I really need a second pair of shoes? For the whole month in Europe, I only wore the Teva sandals, I think I can manage the same here - we plan to be gone 6-7 weeks. Jim rigged up a special place to store shoes - canvas pockets attached to a tiny wall space. It only holds two pairs of shoes, one for him and one for me.

We had to stake out our claims for storage space in the bedroom area. There's only one closet, but neither Jim or I have any clothes we care to hang, so Jim got out some tools and removed the hanging apparatus. I put dibs on the closet itself and said I needed shelves. Our only clothes are shorts, jeans, and shirts. Shelves are good. Once again, the month in Europe was instructive. All the clothes I had packed into little net packing cubes. Might I want to continue with that system? I think I'll try it. Clean clothes get packed in the cubes. As I pull items out to wear, they go on the bottom shelf until laundry day. There is no place for a laundry hamper. 
We were very happy to find that everything in our house refrigerator fit in the camper fridge. It's just a little smaller than what we had in the big RV. And all the pots, pans, dishes, and silverware were already in place having been simply transferred from Big Boy to Little Boy. All these basics of living, we have a set for the RV and a set for the house, no re-packing necessary.

We could take our time and let everything settle into place. So much nicer than when we had to store the big rig on a lot several miles away, pack the car with everything we needed, and go. 
This is really different from full timing though. You're never sure that you have everything. Chris- do you have everything you need from home? Computer, tablet, 2 types of phones, our propeller hats, show and tell items? Jim, did you get the projector? Our projection screen is one thing we have to do without. Any place we present will need to have a screen. When we were fulltime, we knew we had everything with us, because there was no other "home." The RV was it. We had everything we owned with us.

Once we had made our list and checked it twice, we were off! The weirdest part was leaving the car at home. We could tow a car with this van, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having such a small, mobile unit. We loved the idea of being able to park anywhere, turn around, back up, all those things you can't do with a big rig towing a car. I insisted on driving the first day just because I can! It is so much quieter, so much lighter, so much easier on the nervous system than the big rig. In 6 years with Big Boy, I doubt that I drove more than 10 times, and then not more than 2 hours till I was tired. I drove Little Boy about 3 hours on the first day and felt no worse for wear.

We had no reservations for a place to stay the first night, but we had no worries that we could find someplace. We made it further up the coast than we expected, so we checked our favorite on-the-beach campground, Gamble Rodgers State Park and were told they had one oceanfront site available but it could not be reserved, it's first-come / first-served. By the time we got there, it had been taken. Oh well. We kept going and pulled in to the parking lot for our favorite Florida winery Flagler Beachfront. We had been here last July and fell in love with both the wine, and the bread and cheese platter. It didn't disappoint this time around either.

We considered the possibility of staying parked right there - with a view of the ocean. I'm sure that would have been fine. It would just be a van parked on the street. For all anyone knew, we could be visiting friends who live on the block ... "Stealth camping" We could even move over and park right on the beach - there were no signs saying "no overnight parking.'

But, it was still light out and we had over 2 hours of daylight left ... let's keep going. We were generally headed to Green Cove Springs because that's where our "domicile" is and our mail. We had something that needed to be picked up at St. Brendan's Isle. We ended up staying the night at the Elk's Lodge in Green Cove Springs. It's right on the St. John's river. What a picturesque place! And what a perfect first night in our tiny self-contained home.




--
Blessed be the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

Chris Guld
GeeksOnTour.com

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Big RV, Bigger RV, Little RV: the full circle

We're happy to be home in Fort Lauderdale, we love our townhouse and we're excited to get acquainted with our new RV - the Roadtrek. One of the reasons we downsized so radically is that our townhouse is in a gated community with limited parking. The 21 ft Roadtrek is the largest vehicle that will fit.
This is our third motorhome.

  • The first was a 1997 30 ft Safari Class C with no slides. We lived in that fulltime from 2003 to 2011.  We called it "Oh Boy" because that's what we would spontaneously exclaim whenever we thought about life on the road.
  • The second was a 2007 Gulfstream Endura Super C. 37 foot with 2 big slides. It was quite a bit bigger than #1 so we called it Big Boy! It's funny now to go back and read the blog post I wrote when we first got it ... I cried! I so loved our first RV. But I came to love Big Boy too. We lived in it for 6 years.

Moving day from "Oh Boy" to "Big Boy"
  • Now, we have a townhouse in Fort Lauderdale and we don't need a big RV to live in fulltime. We're slowing down on RVing just a little, but we still need to get to the big rallies to do our seminars - so a Roadtrek is perfect. We can travel in it further and faster than in the big rigs, and it can be our second car when we're home.We call this one "Little Boy!"
We bought Little Boy just before taking off for a month in Europe, so we were excited when we got back to get acquainted. We took it to a local campground just to be sure we knew how everything worked before we hit the road.

If it's possible, we're even more excited about this little RV than we were about either of the other two. Back in 2000 we were looking at Roadtreks, we actually put a deposit on one but didn't go thru with the sale. We wanted to buy one to go on little trips, then we got this crazy notion that we wanted to live in an RV and we started looking at bigger rigs.

So, now we feel we've gone full circle. We're back to our original dream of living in Fort Lauderdale and being able to go wherever we want in our little RV.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my husband? I woke up about 5:30, rolled over and said, "how about we take the camper down to the beach and watch the sunrise?" I didn't really expect an answer, but a minute later I heard, "Ok"






If you've had more than one RV, which direction did you go? Bigger or smaller?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Back to the USA - Day 33

We made our way down to the sumptuous breakfast that was  included in our hotel stay at the Hotel Amano in Berlin. When we were done, we asked the front desk to call us a taxi and it was there in less than 5 minutes ready to take us to the airport.

Our wonderful, perfect trip was over. The flight was great. We were served a breakfast and lunch. Curry Wurst, if I recall. That's a sausage with a mixture of ketchup and curry - it seems to be the signature food of Berlin at the moment. Not sure if I like it or not.

Leaving Berlin. Can you see all the windmills?

We got off the plane, used the automated kiosks to show our passports and pass customs. With only our carry on baggage, the longest part of the process was simply walking down the long hallways.

Back home. We used our Uber app to get a ride from Miami airport back to our home in Fort Lauderdale.

#LoveToTravel #LetsDoItAgain

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Why I like Facebook - a Berlin story

As if we planned it! I know David Fenimore from when I lived in Lake Tahoe back in 1980. He still lives in Reno. The last time I saw him was when we visited Reno in 2004. Yesterday, after visiting the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, I looked at Facebook and saw a photo of the Holocaust memorial - posted by David! I messaged him, and we met up. We're only in Berlin for one day, he leaves today. #WhatAreTheOdds? It was great to see you David. And so nice to meet you Ashley.

Jim and me meeting up with David Fenimore and Ashley, completely unplanned, in Berlin



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