Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Doctors, Vets, and Storms

We’ve been in Fort Lauderdale for the past week.  It’s just a quick visit because we leave today to get to Daytona for the Good Sam Rally.  Both Jim and I flew home (here) once during the summer to visit with Jim’s Dad and my Mom.  Other than that, we’ve been gone since April.  Both Mom and Dad are doing well.  Jim visited with his Dad a couple times.  I took Mom to the dentist, doctor, and memory clinic – then we took her and her brother John out for a nice lunch at a restaurant on the New River.

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It was a bit windy due to hurricane Sandy, but otherwise a beautiful day – boy are we lucky!  Sandy’s track took her directly over Long Beach Island – the place where Jim grew up and we visit most every year.  From pictures on the news we can see that the entire island is devastated.  This local news article says it will be 10 days before they even let people back on the island.  They were all evacuated before the storm and the one and only bridge was closed.  Now there’s no power, no phone, no roads because it’s all flooded.  The only good news is that we hear there were no serious injuries on the island, so we can assume that the people we know are OK.  For the first night, we were able to keep up with lots of Facebook posts, but then they stopped.  I can only assume that it’s because they have no power.  Today is Wednesday – the storm hit Monday night.  We keep checking Facebook to hear news from our friends.  Aha!  I see one post now that power is back on for someone on the mainland. 

Here’s a local TV news clip I found that shows LBI specifically:

Wow!  This is a life-changing event for anyone living there.  Here’s another website devoted to pictures from LBI after the storm.

Meanwhile, back in Fort Lauderdale – Jim and I also got ourselves in for a long overdue Doctor visit.  Our regular doctor disappeared – really!  disconnected phone, locked doors – several years ago and we never found another.  Also I’ve been struggling to find affordable health insurance for several years.  So, between those two factors – and the fact that we’ve been healthy – neither of us have visited a doctor.  So, with new insurance and a doctor recommendation from a friend, we finally made an appointment.  Guess what he told us?  Lose weight.  Yeah – like we don’t know that Smile  But, maybe with the doctor’s orders, we might get motivated.  They also took several pints of blood (at least that’s what it looked like) and we’ll go back for followup in a few weeks.

OdieI’ve also been worried about Odie – he’s 14 and I even thought it may be time to make that final decision – but his Vet (who didn’t disappear and has been seeing Odie for 12 years) convinced me to spend $500 for all sorts of heart tests.  Based on the results, he prescribed a once-a-day tiny pill (Lotensin Benazapril) and Odie seems to be bouncing back!  Jim thinks Odie overheard us talking about putting him down … the next thing we know he’s skipping along saying, “Look at me, I’m feeling great! Oh yea, life is good and I’m feelin’ fine!” We love our Odie.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Last Night on the Road

Althoug we will be RVing all over Florida this winter, our 'Summer Tour' has come to an end.  We are in Florida now and we made reservations for 2 nights at Anastasia Island State Park.  We try to never make reservations because we're just too wishy-washy on our plans.  We reserved here because the plan was for my Mom to join us, and they only had one site left that would accomodate us for this date.

As it turns out, Mom was not able to join us.  She's fine, but her Alzheimer's has her more confused than ever.  Even though I know she would love this place, the 6 hour drive for a friend to bring her would be too stressful.

We've never been to this state park, so I'm glad the reservation forced us to come - but we will probably cut is short by a day.  There's some kind of magnetic field around the place you call 'home.'  When you're within a day's drive, it's just too hard to resist - we want to get there, and I'll see Mom then.  But, I sure enjoyed this beautiful place today!  What gorgeous weather.  I can't pick just a few pictures, so here's a slideshow.


For when Flash slideshows go away, here's an animation from Google Photos instead:


Here's a link to the photo album Anastasia State Park.
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Week at Hilton Head

A very nice week at Hilton Head.  I could get used to this!  We came at the invitation of the Sun City Hilton Head Computer Club, and specifically Catherine Tracy.  Catherine has been a follower, and a member, of Geeks on Tour for several years.  We gave our Smartphone presentation both at the Sun City club, and at the Hilton Head Island Computer Club.  We didn't charge anything, but both clubs paid us a little anyway :-) in addition to feeding us several meals!  And we also sold a few of our DVDs/membership combos at the presentation.  It really is true - do what you love and the money comes!  Several people also signed up for memberships online this week - we assume that at least some of them were as a result of the seminars we presented.

Delightful people, beautiful weather, and a relaxed time.  A very nice week indeed.

We started the week by attending a class!  This is the Sun City Computer Lab
and they let us use Macintosh computers while Catherine taught a Picasa class.
We stayed at the Sun City resident's RV storage lot where they have a few sites with hookups.
Good 4G and we had the place to ourselves.
We even took advantage of the Sun City Fitness Center.
The swimming was great, but we enjoyed the hot tub even more!
Jim demonstrating smartphone use to the Sun City Hilton Head Computer Club
Jack Wilfore introducing us to the Hilton Head Island Computer Club

Showing one of our smartphone tutorial videos at the Hilton Head Island Computer Club
Getting a tour around the island before the meeting.


We even had a couple days unscheduled where I was able to get started on a new tutorial video series on Organizing your Pictures with Picasa.  This has been on my list for quite a while.  The hardest part is the foundation, setting up a computer with the right folders of pictures to teach the techniques I want to show.  That takes a lot of thought and quiet time - something we get little of in this lifestyle.  I also uploaded a new smartphone video that's been on my list for a while - it's about how I mark whatever RV park we are currently in using Google Maps, so that I can easily navigate back there from wherever I am.  When we started this lifestyle, my greatest fear was driving to a grocery store and not having a clue how to get back 'home.' Not a problem anymore.

Today we plan to take advantage of the RV washing station here, then hit the road and head towards home .. Fort Lauderdale.  We will be stopping for a couple nights at Anastasia Island Florida State park.


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Monday, October 15, 2012

Visiting Ally in Charleston

We know Ally because her parents are Phil and Tracey May from TechnoRV.  They are our partners in the Techno-Geek Learning Rally.  After living on the road in an RV for several years, Ally has been on her own in an apt in Charleston for almost 6 months now.  She is attending a class at the local university while still finishing up her online high school.  When we realized we would be nearby, we planned a visit.
Can you tell she’s accustomed to the space limitations of an RV?  Here she is in her closet office she’s created in her apartment!
Ally's Closet-Office!
Ally's Closet-Office!
After showing us her apartment, we had a nice Sunday Brunch at Poogan’s Porch in downtown Charleston, then she took us on a walking tour of Charleston.  What a gorgeous day!
Ally and Jim walking along the Battery in Charleston
Ally and Jim walking along the Battery in Charleston

South Carolina Palm Trees
South Carolina Palm Trees
A bench with parking meter?!
A bench with parking meter?!
Ally and Jim in front of Custom house in Charleston
Ally and Jim in front of Custom house in Charleston

Battery park
Battery park
Charleston house, south of Broad
Charleston house, south of Broad
Although she really likes Charleston – and we can see why – she is already talking of places she may want to move to.  Think she inherited some wanderlust!
We’ll keep watching you Ally, and you can bet we’ll visit wherever you are!  Keep up the good work.  Hope we can make it to your graduation next year.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

At Home in South Carolina

We always feel like we’re home when we’re staying in a Thousand Trails park.  We have a membership with Thousand Trails, and that means all we need to show is our membership card to get thru the gate and find a site – we don’t need to get out any money.  That doesn’t mean it’s free!  It just means we’ve already paid with our $500/yr membership dues. 

Map picture

Our membership card includes the fact that Carolina Landings is listed as our ‘Home’ park.  Not sure why that is, since we signed up in Orlando many years ago, but that’s what our card says.  And,since there is good 4G Verizon signal here, we just feel so at home that we’ll take it.

We stayed here at the beginning of our summer tour, and now here we are at the end.  We even got the same site:

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We’ve been here for 5 nights now – got a lot of computer work done, and even got in a nice exercise walk each day.  You can go for a simple stroll here and call it exercise because it is so hilly.  We’re huffing and puffing along the way.  Our site is on the top of the hills, so we walk down to the lake, and back up.

Since we’ve been here before, we didn’t need to spend time scoping out the good local restaurants, we knew right where to go for some good Carolina BBQ.  And caught a great sunset at the same time.  I especially like the Brunswick Stew here a the Spotted Pig.

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We’re packing up today and heading for the shore.  Gonna visit Ally in Charleston, then on to Hilton Head where we have a couple of seminars scheduled at Computer Clubs.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Driveway Camping

Bill Moore was the manager at Paradise Island RV park for nearly 7 years.  That has been our home park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida ever since we sold our house (5 blocks away) in 2003.  Jim worked in the office at Paradise Island for the last 3 winter seasons – he got to know Bill real well, he even introduced him to kayak diving and they went lobster hunting together a few times.

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This summer Bill left Florida and moved his family to be near extended family just east of Atlanta, Georgia.  Guess what?  He has a big driveway now!  So, on our way from Alabama to South Carolina, we stopped for a visit.

Driveway camping at Bill's in Georgia

We also got to go see Marie compete in a swim meet as a University of Georgia Bulldog in Athens, GA.  What a facility!

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Maries Swim Meet

That was a real treat!  It made me want to go swimming!  It made me want to get any exercise Smile I think it’s so cool to see parents supporting healthy pursuits for their kid.  And Marie is good!

They seem to be embracing their new identity as Georgia Bulldogs!

A Georgia Bulldog Family

Thanks for the driveway campsite and the visit Bill!

GO Bulldogs!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Rocket City

Huntsville, Alabama is where Werner von Braun and his team made rockets to take people and payloads into space.  Pretty cool stuff.

It's been on our list for a while to visit here.  Jim did a little research and found there is an RV park right next door.   Ya gotta love the address on 'Tranquility Base.'


There was lots to see and do.  We started with a presentation about the International Space Station.  We learned how orbit is all about trajectory and speed.  The presentation was intended for groups of kids - which meant that I could understand it!


Jim wanted to fly the SR71 Blackbird - A12.  This thing can go FAST.  The sign said that it flew from Los Angeles to D.C. in one hour!

It was a beautiful sunny day - but we were able to park completely in the shade provided by the Saturn V rocket.


But it wasn't the only rocket on display


We ended the day with an IMAX movie on Space Junk.  There's enough garbage floating in space that we need a new profession called Space Trash Collector!  It really is a problem.  Because of the speed that this debris is traveling, even a one inch paint chip can cause substantial damage when it hits.

The 'stacked' space shuttle was still the most impressive thing there.  You have to look hard in this picture to see Jim in a navy blue shirt directly beneath the tail of the shuttle.



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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Sssshhhhhhhhh

It’s so quiet here!

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We’re staying at Thousand Trails Cherokee Landing – about 40 miles east of Memphis, TN.  It’s the end of their season and we are the only RV in this whole section of the park. 

You don’t realize how much noise there is in your daily life until you’re in a place without it.  I’ve been drawn to go outside, just to sit in the quiet.  When we go for a walk we walk slower, we don’t’ talk much.  I’m trying to quiet down my mind to match my surroundings. 

The beginning of Fall colors in TennesseeOur site at Cherokee LandingIMG_2851IMG_2852IMG_2855IMG_2856IMG_2862

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The drawback of course, is that there is no good Internet here.  The first couple days – we had to have Internet because our monthly Geeks on Tour newsletter needed to be published.  Verizon signal came and went at our site, we used that when we could catch it, we took computers to a cafĂ© in town (7miles) where we could use our Droids as hotspots, and I schlepped my computer to the clubhouse and used the oh-so-slow satellite based Internet available thru Thousand Trails.  One way or another, I got the newsletter done, and spent the next day just sitting out in the quiet reading a book.

Reading a book is my most treasured treat.  If possible, that is always the reward I give myself when accomplishing something.  With the Kindle reader on my Droid phone, I don’t have to settle for just any book I have laying around, I can order whatever book my heart desires and have it available for reading in seconds.  This time I ordered Wild by Cheryl Strayed, because it was recommended by a friend in Fort Lauderdale.  How perfect!  The book is about a young woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail in an attempt to get her head screwed on straight.  As she writes about the solitude and beauty around her, I can even imagine I’m there as I sit in the middle of this forest in the perfect peace and quiet.  In my younger days, in California, I even hiked small portions of this same trail.  The book is bringing back memories.