Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thru the Generations: A Genealogy Stop in Massachusetts

I have vowed that I'm not getting into genealogy! We know people who are devoted students of their family history, and it is a great hobby for travelers. Gives you a reason to study an area if you have ancestors from there. But, we already have too many past times. I am indebted to Connie Bradish who took it upon herself to follow some of my family history and verified that these are my ancestors. It is kind of fun to know this stuff!

When I knew we were going to be in the Boston area, it struck a chord. A few months ago, I ran across this postcard at my Mom's house. My Great-Grandmother's name was Mae Manning, and this is apparently her ancestral home. I don't think she ever lived there, she was from Michigan. But it was definitely her ancestors who built it in 1696! I found Billerica on the map, just northwest of Boston. Right where we were already planning to go to visit Jim's nephew, Stephen.

We found an Elk's lodge nearby where we could park. I had to go.

I understood that the Tea Tavern was no longer there, but we were delighted to find a pub in its place, John Ryan's Pub, so we could sit and have a beer and a snack. And, the delightful manager - a young man from Nepal! used his key to let us into the restored residence ... the "Manse" part.

For the other end of the generational spectrum, we were able to make arrangements to visit with Jim's nephew Stephen and his wonderful wife, Sarah. Believe it or not, these are the real geeks in the Guld family. We just caught them home, and we were so glad. They just returned from attending cyber security conferences out in Las Vegas. Devcon and Blackhat. There was some fun conversations around this dinner table! Fun for geeks anyway!

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Monday, August 08, 2016

FMCA Rally at the Big "E" in Massachusetts

Kind of like you'll find two major drugstore chains with locations in the same block, the major RV rallies seem to be scheduling themselves near each other. So, we end up with two big rallies right in a row. We were at Escapade in Vermont from July 22-30, then the FMCA rally started August 3. Although I appreciate not having to criss-cross the country and arrange our whole year according to the rallies, it would be nice to have a little more time between the two. We enjoy the rallies and have fun, but we are also working pretty hard. We're exhausted by the end of a rally. Even more so at the end of two rallies back-to-back. Luckily, the grounds here at the Eastern States Exposition, provide for staying parked after the rally at $20/night. The rally was over on Saturday - now it's Monday and we're still here. The Internet was good enough for us to do our "Button" show on Sunday. This was episode #90 on Sync'ing Contacts.

From Essex Junction, Vermont we came pretty much straight here. We needed to get some printing done, and because of a dynamite FMCA discount at Office Depot/Office Max - we always look for them. Using Google Maps, we found that there are none in West Springfield, so we looked afield and found an Office Max in Albany, NY that we could route thru. They had a big parking lot so we just stayed there for the night while we waited for our printing job to get done.
I wonder how often Office Max hear's this: Them, "I'm sorry sir, but we won't be able to complete your order until tomorrow. We can't do it while you wait."  Us, "That's OK, we'll wait. Our bed is in your parking lot!"
We had planned to stay at a campground west of the rally for the couple of nights before, but when we got there, we saw no Verizon signal (or any other) so we simply turned around and kept on driving. They were able to accommodate us early at the Expo grounds - yay! We're all set. Let the rally begin!

Here was our schedule for the FMCA rally:

There's nothing quite like an RV rally. You are at home ... in your motorhome. Here's Jim grilling our dinner.
But, your neighborhood was just thrown together for a few days and includes hundreds of other RVs. In this case, about 1,300 others. We're here to work, but "work" is just a short walk from our RV door. There are friends and frolick galore, and even live entertainment most every night.

Our work started at 7am on the first morning, when people came to register for our one fee-based workshop on smartphone photography. Many of these people, like Chuck - in front - we know well and see at many rallies all over the country.
I think we overextended ourselves a bit at this rally. It's only 4 days long, and we did 7 of our seminars, Jim also sat on a panel for the Fulltime RVer's seminar - AND - we had our fee-based workshop for 30 people with 2.5 hours of teaching on smartphone photography. The weather was gorgeous all week, but warm, and the seminar facilities had no air conditioning. I think there is an extra stress that comes from trying to speak to a group over the roar of industrial-size fans used to keep us cool. One night we were in bed and sound asleep by 8 o'clock.

When we weren't in seminar, we were at our table being "Smartphone Help Desk." We love that! It's so good to work with people on their personal devices and show them how to accomplish what they want. And, see so many different phones teaches us a lot too!

One Teaches, Two  Learn
The smiling blonde to Jim's left is Joyce. We're so glad to have her helping us at these rallies! She is also helping us with our website. Thanks Joyce!

This is what we mean by a "Hands-on" class. aka "Learn by Doing" We teach how to use your smartphone's camera functions, and also how to use Google Photos for Storing, Organizing, and Sharing all your photos.

This is the "Honey, Tell Me Where To Go" seminar about Google Maps, and other software for Trip Planning

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

2016 Escapade in Essex Junction, Vermont

The Escapade is an annual get together of the Escapees club. Last year it was in Tucson, AZ. We've been attending, and teaching our seminars there for many years - at least since 2010.

We knew we were going to be busy for most of the week. But I was determined to do some line dancing with the ever-cheerful Carol Hill. I made it the first morning and took pictures to prove it!

The first 2 days we were teaching a "learn-by-doing" class on smartphone photography. At the end of the class, everyone could make a little movie like my line-dancing one above. There's no better way to learn than doing! My favorite comment at the end of the class was a woman who said she sent the little movie she made to her grandson who asked, "Can you show me how to do that?"
What a proud grandma. It's normally her grandson who is teaching her!

Then came the main event and we taught 6 seminars:

All of the seminars drew a good crowd, but the most popular one this time around was the "Honey Tell Me Where To Go!" seminar. The topic is Trip-Planning, Navigation, and Mapping Memories. We demonstrated more on Google Maps than anything. It took a panorama to get the whole crowd. Here's the seminar handout, if you're interested.

We also did a live stream of our Google Photos seminar.

And, we had some fun too! Thanks to Bruce Fay for 'capturing' this photo!

Till next year Escapees!
Escapade 2017 will be in March in Tucson, AZ.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Travel to a Rally

I kinda like how our RVing life is going these days. We go to rallies where we present seminars ... "work." Then we have some time to travel and explore on our way to the next "gig." We do anywhere from 2 - 6 big rallies each year, then fill in the between times with smaller rallies, computer club meetings, and other small groups who are interested in our seminars.
This time we're headed to the Escapees club "Escapade" in Essex Junction, Vermont. With a small group rally in Hudson, NY first.

We look at the map and see that we'll be passing nearby a Thousand Trails park - Chesapeake. It's a busy weekend but we were able to get reservations for Friday night. Pretty place.

Next morning we get up and get back on the road, headed towards New York. I'm not sure that I remember each day correctly, so I'll show you what Google Maps records for me. It's really so cool. If you go to Google Maps, click the 3-line menu and choose "Timeline" you'll see everywhere you've been - assuming that you haven't turned it off. To learn more about Location Services, see our "What Does This Button Do?" show, Episode #81: Location Services.
This is the overview of our whole month:

Then you can also look at each day:

Last stop before the Escapade was a small rally for the Elks chapter of FMCA. We love staying at Elks lodges with RV parking, so enjoy swapping stories with this group. The campground was Brook n Wood in the Hudson River area of New York. 
We took one day to play tourist and took a boat ride on the Hudson!

What a gorgeous day!

Next Stop - Essex Junction and the Escapade!

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Geeks on Hudson

From Hudson Cruises Facebook Page:

That was great that they wanted to post this on the boat's facebook page, but the webcast crashed and burned! Just not enough Internet connection available. We still tried, here's the results: Geeks on Hudson youtube.

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