Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mark Twain, Elks, and Facebook

In between 'gigs' it's so cool when we find tourist attractions of interest. Jim researched our route from Essex Junction, Vermont to Trumbull, Connecticut and noticed Hartford Connecticut, the long time home of his hero, Mark Twain. He dug a little deeper and found that the Mark Twain home was a museum open to the public and had parking sufficient for RV s.  We put the address into the GPS and took off.

There was no real RV parking, but luckily there were 8 car spaces that we could park across.  Not since Hearst castle, have I been so impressed with a house. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures inside. The best part is learning tidbits of the man's life - like the fact that the house didn't belong to him. It belonged to his wife, and she refused to sell it to pay his debts.  You GO girl! They moved to Europe where it was cheaper to live and he went on a world speaking tour, which got him out of debt and then some.  He was said to be the most recognized person on the planet in the late 1800s.

From Hartford, we headed south to mil for where we planned to park at the Elk's lodge. Some lodges have full RV parks, some just have a parking lot. This one had the smallest space we've seen yet. Jim had to parallel park! But, what they lacked in parking space, they more than made up in friendliness. The lodge has a bar where we went to check in. Everyone wanted to know our story and buy us drinks. It was great! And we really enjoyed getting to know some locals.

We also had a bit of trouble getting across the railroad tracks to where the lodge is! None of our low clearance GPS resources knew about all of these!

We were here to present our Facebook seminar to the Connecticut computer user group. We think it went great.  They even recorded it for a local TV station. That would be cool to get a copy of the tape. Thanks John Roy for inviting us!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NEAR Rally

We've been at the FMCA NE Area Rally (NEAR) for the past week.  It's a beautiful location in Essex Junction, Vermont.

The blue marker is where we are at the NEAR Rally.  Right next to Burlington, VT on the shores of Lake Champlain

We've had stunningly gorgeous weather this week.  High 70s/Low 80s during the day, and 50s at night.  Blue skies and fluffy white clouds.

RVs parked at Champlain Valley Exposition.  A great place for a rally.
We had a regular booth here, complete with our 'Geeky Tiki'  It's nice to meet people who are already members of Geeks on Tour.  One guy stopped by to say 'Thank You for keeping me company across the country'  Huh?  He told us that he was a truck driver making long hauls, and he would set up our tutorial videos to play as he drove.  He said he learned a lot even though he wasn't watching - just listening.

Our booth with the Geeky Tiki

Bill Golden listened to our videos while truck driving.
One  rally-goer took advantage of our videos and headset at our booth to learn something.
Other Rally-goers let Jim set up their smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.  They were thrilled to learn that they could use this to get their computers online.
Most of the time, however, we were giving seminars.  We had 6 one-hour seminars, and 2 3-hour hands on workshops.  That's what we love to do, but it's time in the booth where we can make some money.  Our schedule left us free to be in the booth for the final afternoon of the rally.  That's perfect - people have seen our seminars and now they want to take us home with them, so we sell them our DVD and website membership.  BUT, on that last day, it was announced that the vendor area would be closed as of noon - just when our last seminar finished.
:-(  No money for us!  :-(

It wasn't a total loss - there were a few early birds who took advantage of our rally special bundle of the DVD plus one year membership for $59.  And we did reach lots of new people who loved our seminars and signed up for our free newsletters. Some of them might become members online sometime.

One thing that always makes me feel richer is spending money like I have it!  You know the saying - I must have money, there's still checks in the checkbook!  So when we were getting some of our handouts printed at Staples and saw the new Google Nexus 7 tablet available on the shelf, Jim and I looked at each other and said, "We have to buy it!"  We already have an iPad - probably the best tablet out there.  What excites us about the Nexus tablet is that it has GPS built in (the WiFi only iPad doesn't) and, it has Google Navigation, the program we love to use on our Droid Razr Smartphones.  I can't wait to see Google Navigation on a 7 inch tablet.  And ... it was only $250, compared to $650 or so that we paid for the iPad last year.

Jim with our new Google Nexus 7 Android tablet
We also splurged on going out to dinner with Phil and Tracey.  We always have such a good time with them.  We start by finding some good beer ... not just any beer will do with a connoisseur like Phil!  I have discovered Belgian beers.  OMG are they tasty!

Then we find some nice place for dinner - Tracey does a lot of research for these things on the Internet, they always seem to know the best places wherever we happen to hook up with them..  Last night we went to Leunigs Bistro.  I had a salad nicoise, Jim had scallops, and we shared a Creme Brulee for dessert.  I can never pass up a creme brulee!

Dinner gave us some time to discuss our next Techno-Geek Learning rally.  I wasn't sure if we would do it at all.  I figure that Phil and Tracey need time to grieve over the loss of their son last month, but ... you can't just sit around and cry, they want to stay busy and they've decided to continue with the RV lifestyle at least for the foreseeable future.  They do want to be near their daughter, Ally, who is in Charleston, SC now.  So, we settled on the first week of October, and we need to find some accommodating RV park near Charleston.

We'll be leaving today and headed for Connecticut where we're doing a Facebook presentation to the PC Users' Group of Connecticut.  When we're finished there, we're headed to Lansing, Michigan to take a class!!  Camtasia, the software I use for the tutorial videos is made by Techsmith, based in Michigan and they're hosting a ScreenCast Camp!  What fun.  I'm really looking forward to it.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You CAN be in two places at once!

It's an odd week here in the Geekmobile ... We headed to Vermont (for the FMCA NE Area Rally) a few days early so we could dog-sit for Murphy while Phil and Tracey flew to Iowa for the Winnebago rally.  Jim took them to the airport on Saturday morning.  Because of the special circumstances, and the fact that we were here a full week early, we got really nice parking spots.  The exhibit hall is the building next to our rig, and the classroom where we'll be doing all our Computer seminars is right next to Phil and Tracey's motorhome.

Then, on Monday, I took Jim to the airport.  His Dad was just diagnosed with stomach cancer and he's not accepting any treatment, Hospice has taken over.  His birthday was yesterday, Tuesday the 17th, so it seemed a good opportunity for Jim to go visit and the whole family to gather.

That left me, alone with 2 dogs and 2 motorhomes!  No problem, Murphy moved right in to Jim's spot.

I enjoy my alone time once in a while, and with 2 dogs to keep me company, there's been no loneliness.  The dogs may have wished for more substantial company though when the thunder, lightning, and hail started!  Especially the hail ... OMG it was loud.  I even shot a few seconds of video just to record the sound:

That was the night of Jim Sr.'s birthday party.  I was sorry I couldn't be there - but Jim took his iPad with him, and thru the magic of Google Hangouts, I actually felt like I WAS there!

Google hangouts allows multiple people to join in on a video teleconference.   So, I sat at my computer with the built-in camera pointing at my face, and Jim placed the iPad at one end of the party room so it's camera could show whatever was in front of it.  I could see and hear everyone in their room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  And they could see and hear me in Vermont!  Here are some screen shots I took during the party:

Screen shot from my computer during a Google Hangout.  
It was so much like being there - I could even have side conversations with the grandkids!
Happy Birthday Pop Guld ... you have always been such a class act.  We all love you.  Hope you didn't mind being invaded by all this technology.  I enjoyed being able to take part.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

New York and Sleepy Hollow

Because of being on the Speaker's Bureau for the APCUG (Ass'n of PC User Groups) we were scheduled to be in West Nyack, New York this week.  Jim searched for a place to stay and found a cool County Park called Croton Point Park.  We are in our 9th year on the road and find ourselves going to many of the same places - so this is fun to be someplace different!

It was not fun getting here however.  All of our GPS devices (and we have quite a few!) told us to come up the Garden State Parkway, then I-95 and go over the George Washington bridge, then north to Croton-on-Hudson.  I wish we had stayed on the Garden State toll road and crossed further north at the Tappan Zee Bridge.
We thought we would avoid some tolls by following the GPS into NYC, but the George Washington bridge cost us $52!
View of NYC from I95.  That's the new One World Trade Center aka Freedom Tower
NOT a place you want to be driving in a motorhome!
Here the GPS devices all told us to use the Taconic Parkway.  We got on it,and immediately confronted a sign telling us that only passenger cars were allowed - NO trucks or RVs! So, we got right off again  and found ourselves on city streets in the Bronx, then Highway 9A headed north to Croton-on-Hudson.  The next road sign we did NOT want to see ... 'Clearance 10'6"!! @#$%!  Our motorhome is 13'.
A road sign that makes your heart stop when you're in a 13 ft high RV!
We learned to stay in the left lane.
What should have been an easy 3 hour driving day took us 4 hours and we were both dripping from stress-sweat by the time we reached our destination!

That was soon forgotten however as we explored the park.
Our site at Croton Point Park
Nice walks thru the woods at Croton Point
View of the Hudson looking north
View across the Hudson looking at the Palisades
View from the Tappan Zee bridge as we drove to West Nyack for our Computer Club Presentation
We presented two seminars in one evening: Picasa and Smartphones
Tuesday night we gave our seminars to the joint meeting of the Rockland PC Users' Group and the Westchester PC Users group.  Wednesday was a free day before our next speaking engagement in Poughkeepsie for Thursday.  On our way to West Nyack we had traveled thru a town named Sleepy Hollow.  Was that the town of the famous 'Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving?'

Yes, indeed it was!  So we did a little sightseeing.

The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is big, beautiful, and opened to the public.

Washington Irving's headstone ... the author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Entrance to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Sculpture commemorating the Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Next stop Poughkeepsie - then on to Essex Junction Vermont for the FMCA NE Area rally.

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Monday, July 09, 2012

Bye Bye LBI

LBI - Long Beach Island, New Jersey was our first destination when we started RVing in 2004, and we try to get back here most every year.  Our friend, Jimmy, has such a great place - right on the bay and just across the street from the ocean.  And, Jim has lots of friends and family here.  We usually try to come in spring or fall because that's the best weather.  This year it just worked out to be July.

It was Hot.

Hey Odie, How hot was it?

A few nights it cooled off a little.  That was mostly because storms came thru.  And, oh boy! do those storms come up fast!

If you're not using the table or chair, they better be stowed because it only takes minutes for serious storms to hit.

We got quite the lightning display

That storm packed gusts to 70mph
A couple of days we beat the heat the old fashioned way - by jumping into the ocean.  Although still chilly at 76 degrees - that's a lot warmer than the ocean normally is here and even I was able to get wet and play in the surf.  I didn't take my camera on those days, but did snap a couple photos on another day.

I got a real kick out of this seagull carrying a bagel.  Is he the beach delivery service?

There are several friends we try to get together with whenever we're "on the island" and Jimmy is generous to let us have a party at his place.  Thankfully he has umbrellas to give a little respite from the heat.

This is the reason we call it a "Corned Ham" party!
Here's the group of Jim's high school buddies.

Tom, Tom, and Jim
Odie loves to run on the sandy beach
Watching sun set as the party winds down
We never get tired of the sunsets here!
Till next time ... Bye Bye LBI!
Thank you sooo much Jimmy!

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