Saturday, September 29, 2007

Clubhouse Internet

My Satellite dish is still not working. I don't know if it's our location, our equipment, or our service provider, but I decided to let it be until Jim gets back. As long as there is Internet I can use here at the clubhouse (aka the Family Center) - I'm taking advantage of that and learning what it's like. Notice the telephone and the blue cable. This is really a nice clubhouse hotspot. You can plug into electricity and just use the Wi-Fi like I did, or you can use the phone for dial-up, or you can plug the Ethernet cable (the blue one) in and use the high-speed Internet without bothering with Wi-Fi. This is becoming standard, at least in all the Thousand Trails parks we've been to this summer. It's actually been an interesting experience. I've come up with several pros and cons of going to the clubhouse for Internet: Pros: 1. I'm more efficient with my email. Since I only check it once or twice each day, I actually respond when I read the email rather than say, oh - I'll respond later. When I'm always on, I tend to read email right away, but let it pile up for responses. 2. It's nice to get out of the house! It provides some kind of delineation between being at 'work' and being home. 3. I get other stuff done because I'm not distracted by wanting to go for a walk, take a nap, do the dishes etc. 4. I meet other people in the park at the family center Cons: 1. I don't do the browsing I normally do. I'm way behind on all the people's blogs I usually keep up on. I'm also behind on all the learning stuff I normally do. I realize now that I spend hours each day just browsing and learning on the Internet. Not doing that for a whole week and I'm *behind*! 2. I can't watch videos because the connection isn't fast enough. A lot of my learning nowadays is done by watching video on the Internet. So, for example, if you try to watch one of my tutorial videos, it would jerk and stop. that's because the source of the Internet here at this hotspot is from a satellite dish. You see, all Wi-Fi is not created equal. Wi-Fi is just a way to share a source Internet connection. Some Wi-Fi hotspots are powered by a T1 connection to the Internet, some use DSL, some use Cable. The satellite-based hotspots will be the slowest. Our satellite dish system works just fine for watching video, but then again, we're the only ones using it. 3. Not being able to send and email or do some other web work when I wake up at 2am with a *great* idea! 4. My computers can't do their updates each day at 2am.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Verde Valley

What a nice place to hang out. I saw a fox walking thru the campsite right across from me - didn't have the camera out. The weather has been gorgeous. 60s at night, 80s in the late afternoon. Brilliant, sunny days. And, such friendly, helpful staff :-) ... I'm afraid I spoke too soon about my satellite Internet troubles being over on Monday morning. I was on for an hour or so, then the transmit/receive problems started up again. I was on for about a half hour on Tuesday, and less than 5 minutes today! Ouch! The symptoms indicate RF interference, like happens when there is a radar detector nearby. I haven't started knocking on doors, but I just can't imagine than there are any radar detectors around here at the end of the road!? I almost moved to another site ... but I really like the site I'm in, so I decided to take advantage of the free WiFi at the clubhouse. It's kinda like going to the office!
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tires, Airports, and Satellite Dishes

I've been told by tire experts that tires don't 'blow out', they just lose air. hmmm Well, we had a tire the other day that 'lost air' with a nerve-wracking *BANG*. Sorry, but I call that a blowout! Luckily it was the inside dual tire and didn't damage anything else, it happened just before a rest area so we were able to limp along and pull in the parking lot. Our Good Sam emergency road service was there within 15 minutes and we were soon back on the road! The bad part was the next day in Phoenix when we decided we should replace both of the dual tires so they would be the same. There goes $400! We drove up to Thousand Trails Verde Valley - about 2 hours north of Phoenix where we had reservations for 2 weeks. It's a breathtaking drive. Then, yesterday, I took Jim to the Phoenix airport and put him on a plane for Fort Lauderdale. Believe it or not, he's making the trip to fix my Mom's computer! I thought she was kidding at first, but then she explained that service from the store where she bought it would cost $130/hr and she'd rather spend the money on a plane ticket for Jim - the only person she really trusts to work on her computer. hmmmm, well, we were just hanging out these 2 weeks anyway, and he could visit the rest of the family plus a couple other computer clients. I guess I can sacrifice and hang out here ...
You may be wondering why I haven't posted for 3 days. Well, the satellite dish Internet connection stopped working as Jim packed up to go to the airport! I think it was on strike knowing it's 'master' was leaving. Really - we pulled in here Friday afternoon, raised the dish and got online within 10 minutes. It worked fine all Friday night. As he was packing up Saturday morning, I got online and it crapped out on me. He told me nothing was wrong, leave it alone, it will be back on Monday when the folks at Hughes come back to work. Yep, it's Monday morning and I'm back online.
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Friday, September 21, 2007

The smell of bacon

Is there anything quite as enticing as the smell of bacon in a campground? (Well, maybe the smell of those chocolate chip cookies at the food court in a mall) When we were up in the mountains last week - at Idyllwild - someone in the campground was cooking bacon when we took our morning walk with Odie. Ahhh - the smell of bacon when you're in the forest and there's a slight chill in the air and you're hungry! It creates such an intense desire for bacon! That desire stayed with us for days until we finally made it to a grocery store and bought bacon! We are now in a campground down in the desert of Arizona, and we are enjoying a breakfast of, you guessed it, bacon and eggs. Odie's got nothin on us for drooling over the smell of bacon. :-) We're in Tonopah, Arizona because there is a hot springs here that we really like. I have pictures on this post from the last time we were here. You get a private 'room' for $10 each. The 'tub' is a rock pool, the floor is indoor/outdoor carpet laid on top of the dirt, the ceiling is stars. What a treat.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Big Q

We're in Quartzsite, the big "Q". This is the place where thousands of RVs come and camp in the desert during the winter. It's pretty deserted now, but some of the seasonal folks are starting to trickle in. Our friends, Dick and Frankie just got in after their summer travels and they invited us to stop by on our way thru. So we did! This is 'The Cabin'. It was the first place in our travels where we stayed for an extended period - back in 2004/5.
We took our walk in the desert and up 'our' hill.
And, we had a great lunch at the Grubstake with Dick and Frankie. Nice visit guys! Till next time.
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Monday, September 17, 2007

Palm Springs

Palm Springs, to me, conjures up visions of the Rich and Famous. People who came here to play golf with Bob Hope. People come here to be pampered at a spa costing thousands of dollars. People come here in the winter to soak in hot springs while they leave the help to shovel the snow at their home up north. We came here to do the laundry, go grocery shopping and get the dog groomed! Well, not exactly, this was just a convenient place to park for a couple days because there is a Thousand Trails here, and we do need to do laundry and grocery shopping. There is every store imaginable here! Including Odie's favorite - Petsmart. They let him wander the aisles after he finished with the grooming. Hey! At least one of us got a spa treatment :-) Note to readers: If you click on any picture - it will open up a new window showing that picture in our Picasa Photo album. The picture there is a little larger, plus you can click on forward or backward and see more photos. You can even click on slide show and see all the photos. I put all the photos for a month in one Picasa Web Album.
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Here Be Mountains

It's always surprised me to know that there are mountains, not hills but honest-to-gooness montains, just east of the flat, hot, highly populated areas in Southern California. I've heard of Big Bear, where you can go skiing within an hours drive of where people are basking in the sun at the beach, but I've never been there.

Well ... it's true! We traveled to the Thousand Trails park called Idyllwild. It's at 6600 feet. What a pretty drive!

I think this can honestly be called a 'Campground'. Lots of pine trees, big sites, nature trails, and cool air. We woke up to 56 degrees! In fact, I'd say that a lot of these sites were better used by tents! You had to be pretty adept at handling your rig to get parked on these hills! With all these trees, we were a little worried about getting our satellite Internet. As it turned out, we got on thru the trees just fine. We also had the best cell signal that we've had in the last month! Go figure - our most remote location all month and the best signal. Perhaps this sight at the entrance to the park would explain it. see more photos on our web album.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007


With our new sign on the back of the motorhome - you can't miss us! We expected to get a few more hits on our website because of this, or to meet more people in the campgrounds with this conversation starter, but, we didn't expect this: email:
"... I am right behind you in my car as I type this on ca-371. If you're not online right now you aren't as much of a geek as me. (you have been outgeeked) ..."
It's true, we are not able to get online while we're driving with our satellite dish. You need a cellular-based aircard for that. If money were not an issue, we'd probably have one of those too, but, actually I enjoy knowing that there is sometime that I *can't* get online!
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kayaking La Jolla's Caves

Last week we drove to La Jolla and scoped it out for launching and paddling kayaks, saying we'd come back this week. We did it! So many times we've said we'd 'do that later', and never do. But this was just too good to pass up!

It was a gorgeous day. The drive was a little less than an hour from our campsite at Ramona.

You drive right on the beach to launch the kayaks. You gotta watch the video to see how we had to paddle thru the surf to get out. It was actually very little surf, but compared to what we're used to in Fort Lauderdale ! Watch out. Luckily we don't have video of when we came back in. The surf dumped us both! First time I've ever flipped the kayak. You will need Flash to play this video, if you don't have it you can download Flash for free. You might also need some dramamine! If it starts getting jerky, pause the playback until the download gets further ahead. or - if the flash version didn't work for you, try YouTube: After getting out, it was pretty calm going over to the caves. You could even see the kelp and the bright orange Garibaldi fish in the chilly water below you. Here's Jim braving the caves. I've certainly seen plenty of seals before - but not paddling close enough to pet them! I just can't imagine how much money it takes to live here! Do I feel guilty for taking a whole day when I should have been doing web work and bookkeeping? Yes. Would I do it again? Yep.

"Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away!"

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gold Rush

Did you know the California Gold Rush of 1849 covered as far south as here? I didn't. I thought the gold rush was just in the middle/north of the state. You know - Sutter's Mill and all.
We're closer to San Diego. When our friends got our DatastormUsers email about our current location, we got 2 emails back right away telling us we had to go to Julian, a little town about 20 miles east of us.
It was a very pretty drive on a windy road thru the foothills. Lots of motorcycles travel this road - you can see why. Lots of historic buildings in Julian.
But the real reason we went was because John told us it was famous for it's apple pie! More pictures on our Picasa Web Album - click on link in the right sidebar.
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Monday, September 10, 2007


What a treat! We have cable TV here at Ramona Canyon. That is unusual in our travels. And Jim felt quite lucky that it happened on the first weekend of football!! Yes, that's our TV - a window shade, using our projector to give us a 3 ft+ image!
It also means we got to catch 60 Minutes and watch a wonderful segment called "Get me the Geeks!" I especially loved the conclusion: Geeks may inherit the earth, but they have no desire to rule it! If you missed it, you can watch the whole segment online. The video is on the right of the screen - click the play button to watch it. The video is primarily about The Geek Squad - a technology support company now owned by Best Buy. People often confuse us, "Geeks on Tour" with the Geek Squad. There is *no* relationship. "Geeks on Tour" is just me and Jim, but we thank The Geek Squad for popularizing the term and making sure people relate it to computer support! We focus on computer education for travelers. We sometimes send people to the Geek Squad if they need their hard drive recovered after a crash, but we'd rather teach them to make their backups regularly before a crash! Check out Geek Squad Services and Fees and Geeks on Tour Services and fees. If you watch the 60 Minutes segment, you will also meet my *favorite* geek - David Pogue. He is a columnist for the New York Times, and he knows his geek stuff! But, the best part is that he is funny. If you're still with me, and you want an educational laugh, go view this video - it's 20 minutes and worth every second. Probably the funniest part is right in the beginning.
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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Activities at Ramona Canyon

Guess what? There are other things you can do while living in an RV besides eat, drink and play with computers! At least that's what we're discovering here at Ramona Canyon. As soon as we pulled in here and Jim was outside getting us all hooked up, someone came by and recruited him for water voleyball! Fun.
Then, one of the people playing voleyball invited Jim and me to play Pickleball in the morning. Oh Boy! Pickleball.
We had to leave Pio Pico because our Thousand Trails membership only allows for 2 weeks' stay, then, we have to be out of any Thousand Trails for one week. We have another membership at Resorts of Distinction, which is what brought us here. So, we'll be here for one week, then go on to another Thousand Trails in Palm Springs. As long as we stay in membership parks, it's free. Yeah, I know, nothing's *free* - 'prepaid' is probably a better way to put it. We paid a bunch of money for the original membership, then we pay annual dues. But, when we stay at a park, there's no charge at that time. It's actually *very* nice. And, most of the parks are great. Here's our site at Ramona ... notice our new Geeks on tour sign! Pretty cool huh? Thanx American Trophy for getting that decal made for us!
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Friday, September 07, 2007

Last Seminar at Pio Pico

We gave our last seminar at Pio Pico on Thursday. It was on Managing Digital Photos with Picasa. Suprisingly, none of the 3 attendees even had a digital camera. But, they'll be a big step ahead when they do get one!

Even though the seminar is not hands-on, we demonstrate every detail. We take our digital camera to the class and snap a few photos - transfer them to the computer, rename them, organize them, fix 'em up, email them, upload them to a web album and back them up. All using Picasa. Damn, I love that program!

The camera is not always kind when we snap these quick shots. In this class, the photos of me and Jim make us look positively crazy. I think they're funny. I hope I'm not scaring away any future students by posting them here!

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Thursday, September 06, 2007


The weather has cooled down substantially. We left the A/C off last night and opened the windows - waking up to 69 degrees!

But, what I'm referring to in my title is this *cool* place called La Jolla.

We saw a brochure about kayaking in the ocean to some sea caves. We checked the map and realized it was only an hour away, so we thought we'd check it out. What a gorgeous day!

We found the place on the beach where people launch kayaks. But, we decided to come back another day to go ourselves. The wind was picking up, and we had to be back in the park by 3 to do our seminar. So, we went for a walk down the beach.

We're happy campers.
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Monday, September 03, 2007


Our thermometer today was reading 104 in the shade!
This park is very close to San Diego, so a lot of people come out just for the weekend, and the Labor day weekend is one of the busiest of the whole year. I don't think I've ever seen a pool so full!

We 'hid out' most of the day. Kept the blinds closed and the air conditioning on - luckily the electricity held up. The news coverage from San Diego area reported several areas of power failures today.

We did get out this morning for the swap meet. We only sold a couple CDs, but it was good to get some practice, we might do more 'booths' in the future.

And, I also took some time to make a phone call - cell signal is non-existent at our site, but I can make a phone call fine if I go up the hill a ways by the basketball court!? Can you hear me now?