Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Satellite Success

I guess if it wasn't hard, anyone could do it. Jim's middle name (in addition to 'reboot') is 'perserverence.' He keeps at it until it works. All day, half the night and with phone calls and emails to Motosat and the great folks at DatastormUsers.com (thanx Bill!) He's still getting an error message, and there's still a part due to arrive this morning. But, IT WORKS! ... and not a minute too soon! As I mentioned in an earlier post, our site is in the trees and we didn't even raise our dish because the Wi-Fi here is good, fast and free. Well, when I got up this morning and sat down to read my email, the Wi-Fi was down :-( Hey! No problem, I'll just jump on this other wireless network powered by the new satellite dish ... we know the password! Just another example of our belief that, "If you gotta have the Internet, you gotta have multiple methods to connect." Our multiple ways are 1. satellite, 2. Wi-Fi and 3. cell phone as modem. Today, another very popular method is Cellular Aircards. If money were not an issue, we'd have one of those too - just for the experience. We hear such great things about aircards these days that we wonder if they will overtake all other methods. I'll only believe it when I see it however. We have been in many places where our cell phone didn't work at all - an aircard would have the same problem. More cell towers are added all the time, but there are still 'black holes' for every provider. Our new satellite dish customer confirms this. He has aircards from both Sprint *and* Verizon and he still experiences lack of Internet often enough to justify purchasing the Datastorm. If you have an interest in satellite Internet, check out the Frequently Asked Questions on our website. Datastorm Rules!
Get tips on using Wi-Fi when you **Subscribe to the Free Geeks on Tour Newsletter**

Monday, July 30, 2007

The color of your uniform

Jim's still working on this Datastorm install - waiting on yet another part - so we're here in Springfield for at least another day and we took the afternoon yesterday to play tourist and get some exercise. There's a national park nearby called Wilson's Creek National Battlefield and they have a 5 mile paved road that made for a great bicycle ride. When we learn about history in school, things seem black and white. Or, blue and gray as in the case of the Civil War! But when you visit historical sites and learn details of those times, you see that everything is a blurry gray. In Missouri's case, it was not at all clear whether it was Union or Confederate. Most of the people wanted to be neutral, but that was not possible. Missouri was critical with it's location on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The governor favored the south, the military had to fight the governor first, then fight the confederacy! But the worst story is about the fact that there was not enough money for adequate uniforms for the troops. Many troops wore the uniforms of their state organization rather than the Union or the Confederacy. And, many just wore their own clothes. When the union forces at Wilson Creek saw troops approaching with gray uniforms, they did not consider them to be Confederates because they were expecting reinforcements from the 1st Iowa Infantry who had gray uniforms as well. They were wrong, and they paid the price in blood, losing the battle of Wilson's Creek. Today, the area is beautiful, lush, rolling hills, forest and cornfields. It's hard to imagine the horrors of hand-to-hand battle and the thousands of lives that were lost. We had a great day bicycling, learning and getting some exercise. Can you tell it was hot? We also had a few hills to pedal. My face gets red.
Learn about upcoming rallies and seminars when you

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Flexible Plans

We're at a KOA in Springfield, Missouri. Notice all the 'nice' trees. Well, those 'nice' trees prevent our satellite dish from connecting. We could change sites and find one that would work, but they have good free Wi-Fi here so we didn't bother. In fact, the Wi-Fi is so good that this is a good time for me to work on uploading more videos to our website (uploads on satellite are slow). We did visit the local attraction ... Bass Pro Outdoor World. This is not just any Bass Pro Outdoor World. This is THE Bass Pro Outdoor World, the Grandaddy, the Mother of all Bass Pro Outdoor Worlds! It's quite an experience. They even have a scuba diver doing feedings in the huge freshwater fish tanks. We managed to get out, after a very nice dinner in Hemmingway's restaurant, with only a couple of purchases. The main one being a lounge chair for me. You may have heard me complain over the last few years that we don't seem to lounge around outside like other RVers. Well, DUH ... you need a lounge chair to do that! Aaaaahhhh, that's nice. And, what a great chair for one of my favorite activities ... watching Jim work! Unfortunately, I'm getting to do more of that than we planned. We got here Wednesday evening, Jim planned to install the Datastorm on Thursday, and we'd be on our way on Friday. Ah, the importance of being flexible! A very important part, the modem, did not ship with the dish as expected. So we had to wait another day for it to be overnighted. Then, once everything was in place, it just didn't work. The dish kept turning around and around without ever 'seeing' a satellite. So, they overnighted a replacement part (upper control board) which arrived today, Saturday. We'll see if that fixes it. Meanwhile, it's a nice park, there's a big field where Odie can run, and we still take the time to smell the roses ... er ... daisies ... er bachelor buttons? Chicory? Note about the trees: there apparently used to be a lot more here. From the park's newsletter:
On January 12-14, Springfield was hit by a major ice storm wich was reported to be the worst storm the area has seen in over 75 years. Our area experienced a three-day round of severe ice which was devastating to the Geater Springfield area as well as the campground. Some areas went without power for over two weeks! ... To date we have completely lost over 51 trees from the campground.
Get cool computer tips when you **Subscribe to Geeks on Tour Free Newsletter**

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Ozarks

The last two days we traveled 486 miles. The stretch from Little Rock to Springfield took us thru the Ozark area of Arkansas. Since we left Ft. Lauderdale: days: 5 miles : 1,356 gas: $676 (avg. 2.77/gal) site fees: $88.5 Watch the video of the last two days.

Traveling to Memphis, then across the Mississippi River into Arkansas and over to Little Rock was all typical Interstate. Then going north to Missouri was pretty, rolling hills rock walls. I'd like to come back and spend a month or two in this area. There's a river going thru it called the Buffalo River that looks like a nice paddle. We saw lots of canoe and kayak outfitters along the road.

Just past the Missouri border is the tourist town of Branson. The billboards make it look a little like a small Las Vegas, but we learned that there is no gambling and no alcohol served anywhere. Nope, not like Vegas at all! The open road is my favorite 'show'. We wanted to stop in Branson to check out the 'America's Best Campground' RV park. This is where we will be doing our 'Camp Reboot' 2-day hands-on seminar as a part of RV-Dreams 2008 rally. It looks like a great place! This is the meeting room.

**Subscribe to Geeks on Tour Free Newsletter**

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Where have all the hubcaps gone!?

I think our hubcaps hate us. They keep running away. Last year, when we lost a hubcap, we stopped at Camping World and bought a set of 4. "That'll last us a while!", we said. Just 3 days on the road, and we're down to one hubcap left. Darn! We gotta plan a stop at Camping World now. We also lost a wine glass yesterday. I forgot to 'strap 'em in' during my stow and go procedures yesterday. Crash! Ooops. Hey! That means we get to plan a stop at a winery to replace it! Oh boy. This is our life and we love it. I'm sleeping better now that we're back on the road. This is 'normal' life to us. Staying in one place for several months was abnormal! Our plan was to make it into Branson, Missouri last night, but we were tired so we stopped a couple hours short of our goal. No problem, we're at home wherever we park. Besides, the park we wanted to stop at charges $41/night - ouch. We're in a nice little park in Clinton, Arkansas (no connection to Bill). Lots of grass and trees, 1200 ft elevation so it actually got a little cool at night. It's called Whispering Pines, at $18/night - can't beat it. Off to Missouri!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Greetings from Mississippi

Since I last wrote, we traveled from Dunnellon, FL to Dothan, AL and then to here, Tupelo, MS. Here's a map

We've been in each of these states before, and I already have a photo of the state signs. (see the album) So, I figured this time around I'd try video. hmmm - I don't know if 'll keep this up. It's extremely time consuming - about an hour of editing for every minute of finished video - then there's the bugs on the windshield and the bouncing around that makes the video itself not so good. Here' my efforts for our last 2 days - click the picture to go to the video:

Anyway, here we are at a lovely campground called Whitten Park. It's actually in Fulton, MS, but we're just east of Tupelo. It's an Army Corps of Engineers campground and we're paying $18/night.

We went for a beautiful walk this morning. Now it's time to go. The plan for today is to go thru Memphis and Little Rock, then up to Branson Missouri. We want to stay in a park there called America's Best Campground because we will be going to the RV-Dreams rally there next year and giving a special 'Camp Reboot' pre-rally . More about that in our next post from Branson.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

First stop: Dad's house

It's ritual now, anytime we're leaving Florida we spend a couple nights at my Dad's place in Dunnellon first. Hey! Wouldn't you if your Dad had a place like this? With 30amp service? And, did I mention that he is an excellent cook? Spaghetti and meatballs first night, t-bone steaks on the grill second night. Diet starts .. uh .. tomorrow! Did you know that Florida is really "La Florida" (pronounced flo-REE-da), meaning land of flowers. Nice bike-riding country too. Gotta work off some of that apple pie! Thanks for the wonderful hospitality Dad and Candy! Next stop, Dothan, Alabama.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bye Bye Fort Lauderdale

I don't believe we're leaving just 5 days before mini-lobster season! aaarrrghh We haven't had a freezer full of lobster for a long time. But, we really gotta get going. So, we let it go. We had a busy week taking care of things. One important thing that just got completed at 8pm last night is installing new steps. They died (wouldn't drop down anymore) a few weeks ago. Jim ordered new ones, but when they came and he tried to install, they were the wrong steps. So, he returned those and ordered the right ones ... $500!!! Every day he checked to see if they arrived ... nope. Yesterday afternoon they got here. Last night he got help to install them. whew! It's kinda hard to get in and out of the motorhome without those steps! I had a couple website and database jobs to wrap up with my customers. Or, at least say goodbye and make sure our 'remote control' system was working so I could continue working from wherever I am. Then there's friends and family to say goodbye to. It's sure interesting how time is different for us in this lifestyle. I swear that, when I lived here, I might even go 2-3 months without seeing my good friend Chris at all! Now I was here 3 1/2 months and we saw each other a half dozen times. We had lunch yesterday and it was sad to say goodbye. Knowing that you're not going to be in one place indefinitely gives more importance to every day. I think that's a great thing. Have you ever been thru the exercise of asking yourself "If you knew you only had one week to live, what would you do with your remaining time?" It's kinda like that, only without the impending doom. We know our time is limited wherever we are, so we make the most of it. My Mom made it especially easy to say goodbye. I dropped her off at the airport the other day on her way to an adventure in China and Tibet. We made good use of our time by editing some of her old videos. Check out this short clip from her 2000 dive trip to Micronesia. If you just get a white screen, have patience, you don't have to do anything - it will start playing on its own. OK - time to 'stow and go'. On to the next adventure!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Route to Redmond

We'll be leaving Fort Lauderdale next Friday, July 20. We need to be in Redmond, Oregon by August 12 in order to present our seminars at the FMCA convention which starts August 13. We normally take the southerly route - I10. It seems more direct, there are lots of Thousand Trails parks along the way where we stay free because of our membership, and we usually stop and see our Coach Connect friends in Austin. BUT, Jim just made a Datastorm sale and we need to be in Springfield, Missouri to install it. SO - I went to Google maps, entered 'FROM Fort Lauderdale TO Redmond, Oregon'. Then, using the tip I just learned ... I dragged the line to Springfield, Missouri. This is what I get: Does that look like fun? We think so! By the way, if you want to learn all about the seminars we're presenting in Redmond, and lots more, sign up for our free Geeks on Tour newsletter.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Google just never stops!

I'm speechless. The Googleguys have outcooled even themselves with this one. Google maps for trip planning. Don't like the route it draws? Just grab the route and drag it to where you want to go. Check out their demonstration video.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Another great dive

We went kayak diving again on Sunday ... that's my kind of church. Another gorgeous day, but a little choppy this time. Got a good workout paddling back in over 4 foot waves against the wind. We were down for 1 hour and 25 minutes! I think that's a record for us. I really like diving in shallow water. When you dive deep, (50-100ft) you're very limited in how much time you can stay down (25-45 minutes). When you dive 20-30feet like we do from our kayaks, you can stay down as long as your air holds out. The water temperature was a perfect 82 degrees. I was in heaven, just floating along, no current, taking in all the sights, or just meditating. We didn't take any cameras with us, so this time I'll tell you about what we saw when we were underwater. Lots of standard reef fish, parrots, grunts, sargeant majors, puffers, jacks, groupers, spotted drums and french angels. Fort Lauderdale's reef system may be 'dead' but there sure is a lot of life on them. We saw quite a few of what I would call 'special' creatures too ... I've gathered some photos to show you these ...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Interdependence Day

We like to celebrate Independence Day on July 4, but we also celebrate our anniversary. So we refer to this as Interdependence day, since it celebrates when we committed to building a life together. I think we've done pretty good! This year is number 9. We celebrated by going kayak diving! I know, you're not surprised! It was a splendid, sunny, flat calm day. So gorgeous. We left all cameras at home. But here is a small clip from the last time we went kayak diving. Today we dove with my uncle John who is investigating and documenting an area where a ship wrecked in the 1800s. Pretty cool. Tonight we'll watch *our* fireworks (amazing that they spend all this money for our anniversary isn't it?!) from Fort Lauderdale beach by going to dinner at our friend Emily's. She's a short 2 block walk from the beach. Happy 4th of July!