I can't imagine a better place to be than in South Florida right now when it's icy snow and storms in so much of the country. What a blessing that Fort Lauderdale is where we happen to call 'home.' So, we planned a 3 week stay at our home RV park - Paradise Island RV so we could spend the holidays with family. We hope you and your family are enjoying the holidays as well ... best wishes to you from the Geeks!
See our Picasa Tip to learn how to make a picture like this.
See what I mean by beautiful weather?! Here's a picture of a day last week when I took a walk with Mom and our friend, Dee in a nearby park. We wore shorts and t-shirts and were very comfortable.
The night before the night before Christmas was the designated time for the grandkids. These kids have so many grandparents that Christmas lasts nearly a week!
Mom appreciates Jo Ellen's decorations
Jo Ellen and Aiva
On Christmas Day we got together with the rest of the family - that's Jim's sister, Debbie in the middle.
What a beautiful day! And we took advantage of it. I'm so proud of us that we got outside and put our kayaks in the water, rather than sitting at our computers all day like normal!
We met Sally in our computer classes that we held at Peace River this week.
Sally tries to hide behind her computer, but we force her to come out and learn about Picasa and her Smartphone!
We asked her if she would come with us to launch our Kayaks upriver in Wauchula, then drive our car back to the park where we would finish our paddle. She said "Sure." Thank you Sally for driving our car back for us. We had a gorgeous paddle, see the video below. I'm trying a different hosting option for this video - it's coming from my Skydrive account with Microsoft rather than Youtube. We'll see how it works.
hmmm - even though Skydrive has 'Embed' code, what it does is take you over to Skydrive to play the video.
Here it is on Youtube:
Ahhhhh ... I find myself sighing several times a day here at Thousand Trails, Peace River. The river that gives the park its name has earned the title of Peace. It flows thru the tropical forest of palm trees, live oaks, and spanish moss. We chose to take a site right on the river's edge because we felt the need for Rest and Relaxation. We have all our curtains open so we can look out at the river.
Reflections on the Peace River
First order of business was to relax in the hot tub! No ... wait, we got to get the laundry done - it's been a couple of weeks! Well, the laundry is right beside the pool & hot tub ... I have a solution! As long as the bathing suit doesn't need washing!
Wow - I haven't had a minute to even think about posting to this blog. But, I have been posting almost minute by minute to the Facebook page for our TechnoGeek Learning Rally. You can check it out over there - a Facebook 'Page' is completely public, you don't even need to have a facebook account to view it.
This is the second time we've put on our TechnoGeek Learning Rally. The Techno part is our friends, Phil and Tracey, of TechnoRV. They are fulltime RVers who make their living while on the road by selling technology for RVers. Things that keep you safe like tire pressure monitoring and electrical system management, and things that make life easier like Wi-Fi boosters and routers. They teach these things at the big RV Rallies - and that's where we got to know them. Their seminars and our seminars are both quite popular, so we had the idea of having a rally where it's all Geek and all Techno, all the time!
We held our first TechnoGeek Learning Rally this past April. If possible, I think we covered even more material this time than the first one! We started with photos - learning about all those settings on your camera. This is a popular class of Phil's. Then he gave everyone an assignment to look for a different type of picture - letters. They had to take the pictures, then edit them using Picasa, and put them together in a collage. Here are a couple of the results:
We taught an hour of 'Smartphone Boot Camp' every day after lunch.
I think my favorite comment was from an attendee who said his kids were so impressed when he sent them a panorama photo taken from his smartphone. They didn't know how to do that!
It was a pretty intense week, with lots of hard work.
Lots of good food
And lots of fun
You don't even have to take my word for it, several people who attended also keep blogs. You can see what Nick Russell had to say in his blog posts:
It was an intense, productive, and fun week. As happened at the Escapade rally earlier this year, I ended the week with a cold and spent the entire day in bed. Now - Sunday night - I am back among the living. I'm wondering if there is a way to keep the productive and fun part while easing up on the intensity. Any suggestions are welcome!
Jim and I share the same passions ... computers, of course, are a passion and how we make our living - so we call that work. Scuba diving is a passion we share for the simple joy of it. We can work on computers all day, every day - and never get it all done! We have fewer opportunities to go scuba diving. However, we did just take a full week scuba vacation. So, when Jim said, "today looks like a good day to go kayak diving" I replied "but we have a lot of work to do." His response? "So?"
What do you think? Be responsible and get to work? or Carpe Diem?
Here's the video!
Notice that I've discovered that the latest Movie Maker has added narration capability. Woo Hoo! I think we can start teaching MovieMaker now ... Make sure to click on the 4 bracket icon in the lower right to play it full-screen.
The little, inexpensive GoPro video camera makes taking video SO easy, and the free MovieMaker software (Windows) or iMovie (Mac) makes editing pretty easy too. No excuse not to make videos anymore!
It's a wonder of our extended family that I can have 2 grandkids without ever having had a child myself! And, it's proof of long-lasting relationships that Jim (and I) are close friends with Jim's ex-wife, Jo Ellen. So, when planning the kids' first trip to Disney World, we could include 3 grandparents! The 3/2 ratio made it so easy and enjoyable.
Jim holding his grandson AJ's hand
Jo Ellen riding the roller coaster with both Aiva and AJ
Jo Ellen gets a photo of me and Jim with both Aiva and AJ
Then, the icing on the cake was that we got a last minute reservations for an RV site at Fort Wilderness - the campground right on Disney property. Most people make reservations a year in advance for that. We tried to get a site a month earlier but were told that nothing was available. We did have reservations at Thousand Trails, about 20 minutes from Disney, but there's nothing like staying right on the Disney property. As we were packing up to go on Friday morning, I decided to give it one last try and called the phone number for campground reservations - and got one! The person on the phone said we now have reservations for that night, Friday, as well as Saturday and Sunday. I couldn't believe it - really, I couldn't believe it. I called back a couple of times to speak with another operator and verify our reservation - thinking maybe they misunderstood me and gave us a tent site or something. I didn't even tell Jo Ellen about the news until we pulled up to the Fort Wilderness check-in gate. But, it was true - we had a site in Fort Wilderness and it was the greatest way to experience Disney! We had our own beds, our own kitchen, and we didn't even need the car. There were buses right from the campground to the boats and other buses that take you to wherever you want to go in Disney World. It was a great weekend!
Our site at Fort Wilderness
The campground is part of the overall Disney experience.
Hamburgers on the grill are a lot cheaper than a Disney restaurant!
It's easy to catch a boat from Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom
or a bus to the Animal Kingdom
The first day we spent at Magic Kingdom. It was beautiful weather and, although there were plenty of people, we didn't wait more than 25 minutes for any ride, and for many of them, we just walked right on!
First photo opp of the grandkids at Magic Kingdom
AJ's favorite was Space Mountain (no surprise.) He loved all the roller coaster rides! After each one, the first words out of his mouth were "Can we do that again?!"
I grabbed this shot from one frame of the video that Jim took.
Here's a little video I put together from our day at Magic Kingdom.
by the way ... if you want to learn how to make a video like that with the free Movie Maker software, we'll be teaching it at our TechnoGeek Learning rally coming up Dec 2-8 in Bushnell, FL
On Sunday, we went to the Animal Kingdom park. Jim and I have been there once before, I think they had just opened, it has grown considerably since then and added the best yet roller coaster - Mt. Everest Experience. But, I still think the animals were the main attraction:
Zebra - meet Aiva
We had a great weekend! I took WAY more pictures than I posted here. If you want to see them all, here's the link to all 124 photos! Make sure to click the button for Slideshow (in the upper right) so you can see the pictures full screen.
We might have a budding young photographer in Aiva. She asked to use my big camera for a few shots. She took this great one of all of us (except her!)
I had to use my cell phone then, to get this shot of her.
We took a vacation! I know, I know … it looks like we’re always on vacation. Our life is all about traveling in our RV, so it has been difficult to justify that we want a vacation from such a wonderful life. My 60th birthday was coming up though, and I inherited from my Mom a need to mark decades with something special. Birthdays in general are no big deal, but decades are something I want to remember.
Here’s Jim and me on my birthday.
We thought about what to do … hike in Machu Piccu? visit wine country in Italy? Scuba dive in Galapagos? ahhhh scuba dive, yes! That’s it! Scuba diving is one of the main reasons Jim and I got together – we both love scuba diving. We have gone kayak-diving in Fort Lauderdale a few times over the last several years, but we haven’t gone anywhere else for diving since our visit to Fiji in 2006. Where to go? Indonesia … no – too far. Galapagos … no – too expensive. Bahamas … no, too close! Cozumel … YES! Some of the best diving anywhere in the world, it’s close, it’s comparatively inexpensive. Jim did some research and found Occidental Grand Cozumel.
Lobby of the Occidental Grand Cozumel
November is off-season, so the price was very reasonable … $2,100 got us one week of staying at the resort plus 10 dives each. Airfare was another $1,500. It is an ‘all-inclusive’ resort. That means that breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all 7 days are included in the price … and all tips … AND … all drinks. yikes, that’s dangerous, but hey! as long as we didn’t drink before diving, all is well. I discovered my new favorite drink – Mojito! We’re back home now and we haven’t even had our normal wine with dinner … we had more than enough last week!
The dive operation – right on the resort’s property – is Dive Palancar. They were great – always happy, always helping. The dive sites were very close – one of the benefits of staying at the resort instead of in the town of San Miguel which is a 45 minute boat ride to most dive sites.
We loved every single dive. We’ve been to Cozumel before and just the words Santa Rosa Wall, or Palancar Gardens, makes us happy with memories of beautiful coral formations big enough to swim thru. Jim bought an underwater video camera just before the trip … a tiny GoPro Hero, and he had lots of fun taking hours of video. Here’s just one little clip that we’ve uploaded to Youtube:
Chris (yellow stripes on fins) swims thru coral canyons at Palancar Bricks
The weather was perfect. Sunny and warm, but not too warm. As much as we like diving, I almost liked just walking around the grounds almost as much. It was so beautiful!
Oh, I can’t just pick a few pictures – you’ve got to see them all! Here’s a slideshow. Even better than below, click on this Cozumel Pictures link and then click the Slideshow button and you’ll view them fullscreen.
It was a wonderful, wonderful week. We’ll post more of the videos in the weeks to come. I even got to scratch an item off my bucket list … seeing a seahorse! In 30 years of diving, I had never seen one – till this trip. We even got video. Stay tuned.
Better yet, come to our TechnoGeek Learning Rally and we’ll spend a week together teaching you about using your camera, Picasa, smartphones, and other RVing and technology related stuff. That’s the TechnoGeek Learning Rally in Bushnell, Florida December 2-8. Come join us – but sign up soon, there’s just a few spaces left.