Monday, August 30, 2010

Odie the Night Owl

Too bad that Odie is 12 years old and fixed … he got an opportunity to sow some wild oats last night.

We took a drive to the drug store and the Dairy Queen (gotta keep our figures up :-) and got home about 8 I think.  As is customary, when we get home and open the door, Odie jumps up and runs out to greet us.  That’s one thing I so love about our RV … open the door and a doggie pops out!

He’s usually right at our heels as we climb up the steps and enter the RV.  We just assumed he was.  At 1:30 in the morning, when I got up with something on my mind that I need to work out at the computer,  I heard a sound that I thought was Odie.  When I looked for him, he wasn’t there.  I heard the sound again, and again I couldn’t find Odie.  I finally opened the door … and a doggie popped IN!  OMG – we left him outside half the night!  He’s so quiet!  You’d think he would have barked to get in at some point in time. 

hmmm – or maybe he was having too much fun?  He’s not talking.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rally? or Party?

It was very convenient to arrive at this rally early.  It is being held at an RV park, so there are plenty of full hookup spaces.  Not like at a fairgrounds where there may be another group reserving the whole facility.  Some people have been here for two weeks!  One thing they’ve been doing is meeting for a line-dancing class at 10am.  I got wind of it and was able to make the last class – Friday morning.  What fun.  Thanks Carol and Marlene!  Hmmm – this is giving me some ideas about a week-long hands-on computer class?!?

 

And then, of course, there’s the happy hours, and all the great people:

 

 

 

Friday, August 27, 2010

“When the Chips are Down, the Buffalo is Empty”

That was posted somewhere near one of the campgrounds in Montana or N Dakota – thought it was cute.

I don’t think this ‘chip’ had anything to do with a Buffalo :-) but it did happen somewhere on the road through N Dakota.  Seven years of driving all over this country, and this is the first time we got a chip in our windshield!  Then, we got two.  That’s one thing that rallies are really good for – you can find most any kind of RV service/repair people.  We’re here at the pre-rally gathering for the Gypsy Journal rally and Jim flagged down this car that was driving by:

A half hour later the chip was fixed and it didn’t cost us anything.  On The Spot Windshield repair works directly with our insurance company (GMAC) and it was covered.  Sometimes things just fall into place!  Quite an interesting contraption he attaches to the windshield to fix the chip:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Driving to Divorce?

Remind me to never take this route again!  The cracks in the pavement were teeth-jarring.  The traffic was scary, and the construction was everywhere.  I’m surprised I didn’t lose a few fillings!  Jim, usually a very relaxed driver, had to keep every sense on full alert as he wrestled with the steering wheel. I was really happy that the motorhome stayed in one piece. I was trying to read a book out loud while Jim drove – I had to shout in order to be heard over the road noise.

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At one point, I took my life in my hands to get up and get a snack for Jim and me.  I set it down in our designated spot on the center console where it promptly jumped up and spilled all over the dog.  Jim’s look shot daggers at me and I found a few choice words to shoot back at him.  The road demons possessed us for few minutes … as Odie got the snack.  I do think that divorce lawyers could probably do a brisk business if they approached RVers at the rest areas around here!

And then, to add insult to injury, these were all toll roads.  We spent a total of $37 for the privilege of our experience!  Of course, I’m sure our mood was partly due to having traveled from Redmond, Oregon to here in 10 days.  Normally we would like to take at least a month for that distance, maybe two.  Jim did all the driving.

But, we made it all in one piece – the motorhome is OK, and the marriage is OK :-)   But we will find *some* way to avoid that particular drive ever again.

Except for that last day on bad roads, it was kind of fun to move so fast.   It gives you a perspective on this vast country of ours as you travel from mountains, thru prairies, and into lake country – passing thru multiple time zones in a period of a few days.  We are now at Elkhart Campground in plenty of time to get prepared for the Gypsy Journal rally next week.  We’ve reserved our space for 2 whole weeks.  Then it’s a whole 40 miles to the next rally at Goshen.

However, when we’re done with Goshen, we have 4 days to make it back to Fort Lauderdale in time to get together with family and catch a flight to Seattle for our Alaska cruise.  Geez … life is tough eh?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wi-Fi Wow

We have good Wi-Fi Internet here in Lake Farm Park in Madison, Wisconsin.  That’s not so unusual in itself, but this is the 6th RV park in a row that has good Wi-Fi Internet.

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Since some of these areas were not the best Verizon areas, the Wi-Fi was very much appreciated.  All of these parks had Wi-Fi that was also Free. The per night rates ranged from $16 to $35.  In case you’re traveling along this route and care about Wi-Fi, here are the specific parks:

Oh … and here’s the largest Buffalo:

I’m way behind on my web-work, but this traveling has been fun.  It’s been 7 years now of living in a motorhome, and I still get a charge out of stopping at a rest area and making a meal.  We are truly at home, wherever we are. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

North Dakota on the Map – Bully!

We were actually in North Dakota in 2005, but we flew here – so that doesn’t count!  This state has been the one gaping hole in our map for a couple years now, so we made a point to route our travels this way so we could finish the map.

 

Whenever we spoke to fellow RVers about the missing N Dakota, we normally got sympathy and the acknowledgement that ‘there’s nothing there!.’  We were beginning to wonder if N Dakota actually existed, there were so many fellow RVers who had been everywhere BUT here.  Then we started to hear, “Oh – except for Roosevelt Nat’l Park, that’s awesome.”  So, we planned a stay at Roosevelt Nat’l Park and made reservations (got the last spot!) at Medora Campground. 

We pulled in about 3 pm and took a look at the posters on the wall of the office and noticed ‘Bully!’ a one-man play about Theodore Roosevelt.  It only plays on Friday and Monday at 4 pm.  This was Friday – let’s go!  We parked, plugged in and took off, and we’re so glad we did.  It was a wonderful performance that really brought the man to life with all his energy, intelligence, and caring.  Jim has often been mistaken for TR – so I couldn’t resist taking his picture with the man himself – actually the actor

How full-of-life that man was.  Makes me want to read a book about Teddy Roosevelt.  I’ll have to search on the Kindle and see what I can find. 

Next we took the drive thru the park … a 36 mile scenic drive with several opportunities for walks and overlooks.

 

 

We also saw some wildlife.  Both small …

and LARGE …

So, this morning, we could put North Dakota on the map.  You must sleep in a state before it can legally be claimed on your travel map!  I figure that Jim did all the driving so I let him have the honors.

Now what?  Are we done?  Or do we just start all over again?  Oh yes, I know Alaska still needs to be done.  We don’t have any plans for RVing there any time soon.  We are going to take the Alaska cruise this Fall.  That will probably be enough for us.  I lived in Alaska as a kid.  My family drove the Alcan highway 5 times.  It is extraordinarily wild and beautiful … but I don’t have a burning desire to RV there.  I *would* like to recreate my family’s RV trip thru Mexico and Guatemala.

There is NO WAY we’re done.  I feel like we’re just getting started.  I see so many places on the map that we are going by and I’d like to stay a while.  I have a count somewhere – but I think we’re only about halfway thru the National Parks.  And, then there are the rails to trails bike rides, and the kayaking places, and the observatories, and the wineries, and the fish hatcheries, and the …

Little Bighorn – Montana

I’m forever browsing the map when we’re driving.  Even though we may have made a plan for where to stay the night, it’s rarely a reservation – just a suggestion!  So, when we were getting close to our planned stop and I noticed that the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument was only about 30 miles out of our way, Jim agreed to the detour.

The history is important and the scenery is breathtaking.  Actually, that’s not quite right.  The scenery didn’t take my breath away … it made me breathe deeper.  All that open space; all those generations who have come and gone; the sun-gold wheat covering the hillsides, and the warm breezy air all conspired to make me feel very calm. 

There was, of course, lots of information about General Custer (actually, he was Lt. Colonel in this war) and the 7th Calvary who lost five companies – about 210 soldiers.  They faced Lakota and Cheyenne under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse among others with thousands of warriors. 

In 2003 an Indian Memorial was dedicated – the Spirit Warriors Sculpture – in an effort to bring a more balanced presentation of the battle of the Little Bighorn.  It’s a gorgeous sculpture.  I loved how you see the golden grain and blue sky thru the sculpture.

Then we went back to our campsite and watched the Montana sunset.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Travel Mode

Our next stop is Elkhart, Indiana for the Gypsy Journal rally.  We have no goals for this trip other than to fill in our map by adding North Dakota.  It’s the only state in the lower 48 where we haven’t been in this RV.  We’ll be on highway 90 and plan to stay a couple nights at Teddy Roosevelt Nat’l Park.

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We considered popping up to Glacier Nat’l Park, but decided against it.  It would add to much time to our travels, and we couldn’t do it justice in 2 days anyway.  Maybe next summer we’ll be able to make it there.  As we pulled back on the highway out of Spokane, WA, I felt a pang of guilt that we would be traveling so close by where my step-brother Tom lives, but we needed to keep traveling.  I sent him an email (actually an instant message) and, he responded right back that he could drive the hour from his place to the freeway and meet us for lunch at a truck stop!  Perfect!  It even happened to be lunchtime!

Here’s ‘Brother’ Tom:

Thanks Tom for being flexible and making that drive – it was great to see you! 

The last time we saw Tom … also the first time I met him! … was in 2006 (blog post here.)  He was a long-haul truck driver.  We’re complaining about having to make the trip from Oregon to Indiana in 12 days – he says he would drive from Oregon to New York … and BACK in that time! He has since quit truck driving - now he’s a geek too!  He’s realized he can be a lot more comfortable working from home, and with computers, Internet, and Skype, there’s all sorts of jobs he can do.  

After leaving Tom, we continued on Highway 90 towards Butte, Montana.  They’re not kidding that this is big sky country! 

I studied my Trailer Life catalog, searched for campgrounds on my Streets and Trips program and decided on one park.  When we reached there, Jim wasn’t tired enough yet, so we kept going.  More computer research, more flipping pages in the book … then I saw a sign that said “Hot Springs” and it had a little campground sign below it on the same post.  I said … “Turn Here!”  Sometimes you just have to be flexible.  What a great spot this was!  I had seen the Fairmont Hot Springs in the books, but it was a hotel and resort, I didn’t think you could stay at an RV park and go to the hot springs.  I was wrong.  It was a delightful little walk from the nice Fairmont RV Park (with good Wi-Fi) to the even Nicer Fairmont Hot Springs resort.  $4.75 each admitted us to the hot springs *and water slide*! 

What a nice day!  And, what a great place this would be for a small rally or conference.  Make a note!  We had dinner in the comfy bar and lounge after soaking in the hot springs and taking a ride on the water slide.  Warm water slide!  Most of the water was about 93 degrees, then the hot pool was about 103.  Just delightful.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stonehenge and Gabbing with Geeks

In our first year of travels, a blog reader noticed we were heading towards the Columbia River and suggested we stay at the Peach Beach campground.  We would enjoy camping by the river and a nice walk up a hill behind the campground.  Here’s what you find when you walk up the hill.  A full size replica of the original Stonehenge!  So surreal.  Here’s that blog post from 2004.

That was one of the first of many times that a blog reader has led us to cool stuff.  Believe me when I tell you that Every Traveler Needs a Blog!  Not only to record and share your experiences but to connect with others and learn from them as well.  So, when we knew we were going to be in Oregon again, we found a way to stop for a night at the same campground.  It was HOT, but just as beautiful as we remembered.

You have to look close, but you can see Stonehenge up on the hill, just above the RV.

Check out our ‘Gabbing with the Geeks’ which we filmed partly at the Stonehenge monument.  We also talk some about our new website at www.geeksontour.tv.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oregon Beer Hopping

Phil and Tracey, from Techno RV, had a booth here at the FMCA Convention.  The day after the rally, we both decided to stay an extra day for some R&R.  Phil finds breweries wherever they travel, and there are several to wet his whistle right here around Redmond and Bend, Oregon.  They invited us to come along as they did a day trip on the ‘Bend Ale Trail.’  I’ve enjoyed visiting micro-breweries before, but this is the first time I’ve experienced a true ‘Beer Tasting.’  What they do is pour a small (these are only about 5” high) glass of each of the different types of beer brewed, and you pay about $1 per glass.  We would pass each one around and discuss it’s merits – then order a glass of our favorites.  Notice that each glass is sitting on a piece of paper on a spot identifying that particular beer. 

We also made a stop to take in the sights in the picturesque town of Sisters.

Luckily, Tracey doesn’t like beer … so she drove.  What a fun day!

My favorite beer of the day was from 10 Barrel Brewing.  It was called Big Belgian Cabernet, and they poured it into a glass like a brandy snifter.  It is definitely beer – but it is aged in the same oak barrels that held Cabernet wine.  I *really* liked it!!  It was a refreshing beer, but with rich, mellowness from the cabernet that made you sip it like wine.

We spent all afternoon on the Ale Trail …. I think I still need another day to recover!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Best Rally Ever

Today is the last day of the FMCA Convention, and it has been amazing.  Tuesday night was a special treat to go to the entertainment and see Debbie Reynolds.  We even lucked out and had pretty good seats in the room filled with over 1,000 people.

Then, on Wednesday we had to be up and at our table at 7am to register people for our Hands-On computer class.  We sold out, as usual, which is great.  Then, we presented 3 seminars.  First came our new ‘Internet Love Story’ where we tell all about our history and lifestyle on the road and how we love the Internet for making it all possible.  It went well, and we got lots of ideas for improvement as well.  Then came “How to Connect to the Internet on the Road.”  Then came Picasa!  OMG has that become a popular seminar! Take a look at this crowd:

The room monitors told us that they counted 740 people!!  And, that doesn’t count the online audience.  This is the seminar that was webcast.  We’ve had lots of emails from folks that watched it online and said it was great!  We haven’t heard a count yet – but we know we hit capacity because we also got emails from folks who were unable to get on.

We had rave reviews from our other seminars as well; Blogger, Navigation with Streets and Trips, and Jim even left me alone at our table while he assisted in a new seminar called ‘RV Destinations.’  This is where the audience suggested great places to visit and Jim followed along using Google Earth.  He said that lots of great places were discussed and he will have them all placed on Google Earth and posted on the web sometime soon … when we recover.

Then, of course, we’re thrilled that LOTS of people have purchased our DVD of all our videos – and our online membership.  Yes, we definitely have enough money now to make it back across the country to our next rally in Elkhart, Indiana:

 

We’re feeling extra good this morning because we completed our hands-on class.  That’s a hard one because we let people in with all different types of computers and all different operating systems. 

They learn about how to find the specifications of their computer (RAM, Drive size, Operating System version, Service Tag ID etc) They learn to use Wi-Fi connections, how to use Folders and Files on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, copying files to a thumb drive, and how to keep their computers maintained and secure. 

We’ve done this course in two full days before, and this one was 4 hours!  I was afraid it would turn out that they didn’t learn anything – but I think they learned something.  The students seemed happy – but I don’t know if we want to do this again.  Thanks to our helpers for keeping everyone on track: Al and Sue Wilson, Honey Shellman, Dixie Proulx and her granddaughter Marisa.  We surely could not have done it without your help!

Ok, we’re of to do our last seminar: Picasa – Beyond the Basics.  We’ve had GORGEOUS weather all week – cool at night, sunny and warm at day, with spectacular views of the Three Sisters mountains – which I have yet to take a picture of … maybe today.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Long, Long Trailer

The Long, Long Trailer is an old movie starting Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.  It should be required viewing for all people considering the RV lifestyle!  It’s hilarious because it’s so true.  Even today, the situations they portray are just as real.  We bought the DVD years ago and have played it when we were in charge of movie night at Peace River campground

Last night there was a special viewing of the movie here at the FMCA rally.  Hundreds of people came out.  That makes it so much more enjoyable when a full audience of RVers are laughing away!  If the only RV movie you’ve seen is RV with Robin Williams, you owe it to yourself to see the original.  I’ve written about this before – I like Long, Long Trailer much, much better!

And, Lucille Ball’s costume, worn in the movie was also on display – compliments of Debbie Reynold’s Hollywood Movie Museum.  Debbie Reynolds will be performing here tonight. Her son, Todd Fischer is an RVer from way back and he is CEO of the museum.  He brought the costume for display and gave a little insight.

 

I never get tired of watching that movie!  And, it was cool to get a little insight from Todd.  We happen to be parked right next to Todd here at the rally, and he showed us inside his rig.  OMG!  We thought we had a lot of computer equipment!  We’ve definitely been OutGeeked!  He has multiple terrabytes of archival film and a full editing studio.  oooooohhhhhh

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Free 75 minute Picasa Seminar Webcast

8/10/10: The FMCA.com website is currently experiencing technical difficulties. We know they are working very hard to resolve the issues in time for the webcasts, but if the link does not work for you at the given time, here is an alternate link:
<Alternate Link to View the Webcast>

 

We're going to be busy this week - giving 8 seminars at the FMCA Convention.  See our schedule on our website.  If you're going to be at the rally, we hope to see you at all of them!!  One of the seminars is a hands-on class, 'Know your Laptop' - it costs $60, and you need to register beforehand because we limit it to 20 people.  Registration is at our table in the Info Center starting at 7am :-( on Wednesday.  Last time we did this, we were sold out by 7:45.
 
What we want everyone to know about is that the Picasa seminar on Wednesday afternoon will be Webcast, so *everyone* can see it!
This will not be recorded, so the only way to view it is to log in at the designated time.

2. Picasa: Wednesday, Aug. 11

  • 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Pacific time
  • 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Mountain time
  • 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Central time
  • 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. Eastern time
watch_webcast_button

If you watch it, leave a comment here on how it went!

Cold?!

It's been so hot everywhere this summer, we're really surprised to wake up to cold!  49 degrees two mornings in a row.  We're in Bend, Oregon at the Thousand Trails, Sunriver.  Here's the park and our site:

Thousand Trail, Sunriver, Oregon
Our Site
OK, I'm warm now!  Hot Tub at Thousand Trails, Sunriver

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Where the heck are we?

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It’s amazing where you get to if you just keep driving!  This kind of travel is very unusual for us, but, as with anything unusual, it’s fun once in a while.  The map above is from our Streets & Trips plan.  #6 was the hot springs in Wyoming (last post), 7 was a Utah State park on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, 8 was any old park that had a vacancy in Boise, and right now we’re at #9 in Eastern Oregon.

We’re only staying one night at stops 7, 8 and 9.  We’ll be at number 10 (Thousand Trails – Sun River) for 2 or 3 nights before moving to the fairground in Redmond for the FMCA Convention.  We’ve crossed two time zones.

The countryside we’ve been traveling thru makes me feel so small and insignificant.  The wide open spaces and huge mountains are majestic and powerful.  I feel that all is right with the world when I’m in the mountains.  Nothing can harm them, and I am privileged to view them.


Wasatch Range to the East of our campsite.


Great Salt Lake to the West of our campsite.


Our campsite at Willard Bay State Park, Utah.

 


High Desert – Eastern Oregon

While we were at the hot springs for 2 nights, we published another of our ‘Gabbing with the Geeks’ videos: