Friday, June 28, 2013

Full Moon, Safaris, and Mount Rushmore


There’s been a lot going on in this Western South Dakota / Eastern Wyoming area if you’re an RVer.  The biggest rally was the FMCA, but then after a week break, comes the Escapade.  What to do with the week in between?  How about another rally!  We used to own a Safari RV, so we were invited to attend the Safari 25th anniversary rally in Rapid City.  That’s right where we were before coming to Gillette!  We have now driven those 140 miles between Rapid City and Gillette 3 times now in the last few weeks.  Actually, it’s a beautiful stretch of highway.  I loved it.

Because we waited till the ground dried out a bit at the end of the FMCA rally, we ended up driving as it turned dark.  The moon may not have been exactly full, but since this was a super moon, it was quite impressive as it peeked up over the hills.


The Safari rally didn’t start till the next day, so we just pulled into a Rest area to sleep for the night.  And, what a nice rest area it was.  In the morning, Jim went inside the building as I walked around and took pictures.  I thought for sure he’d be back in the coach by the time I finished, but he wasn’t there.  I had just started to wonder what he could be doing, when he showed up with a smile on his face talking about his new girlfriends!  Apparently the South Dakota Welcome center was staffed by a couple of very friendly women who loved hearing Jim tell his tales!


What a nice place to wake up in!


Coffee service with a smile!



Then it was on to the Safari rally.  Here is just a sampling of the murals painted on these classic motorhomes.  See more info on these paintings in our 2008 blog post about the Safari rally.


We taught a Picasa seminar at this rally, and the collage above was done in class, then uploaded to a Web Album to demonstrate sharing pictures.


But, mostly, we had fun at the Safari rally.  We had a party on board the bus that took us to see Mount Rushmore at night.  Here’s our friends Al and Sue Wilson who we’ve known from way back in Datastorm rally days.  Everybody’s making sure their cameras are in working order for taking pictures of the giants on the mountain.


We remembered to take the big lens with us so we could get some closeups!





There’s a really nice trail you can walk and get different angles on the mountain.  It’s called the Presidents trail.  We didn’t walk this last time we were here.  I even wonder if it’s been built since then.



We were there to see the lights come on.  You sit in an open air amphitheatre and listen to a presentation by a park ranger, watch a movie about the 4 presidents carved on the mountain, George Washington for being the father of our country, Thomas Jefferson for expanding our country thru the west, Teddy Roosevelt for protecting the wild and beautiful national parks, and of course, Abraham Lincoln for preserving the nation.  Then we watched the lights come on and shine on those four faces.




What a beautiful night!

Now we’re back in Gillette and ready to teach our hands-on class called Camp Reboot.  People bring their laptops and spend two days with us teaching the things we think they would have learned in High School, IF there had been computers when they went to High School!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

FMCA Rally in Gillette, Wyoming

FMCA is the Family MotorCoach Association.  We’ve been giving seminars at their rallies since 2005.  We plan our travels around the national rallies, which is why we’re in Wyoming this summer.

It was perfectly gorgeous weather for the majority of the week, BUT, it just takes one nasty thunderstorm on the last day to leave an impression!  The ground was wet and lots of RVs got stuck on the departure day.  I think these guys with jeeps and winches actually enjoyed getting to put their vehicles to the test.  They did successfully get this big RV out of its rut, and it drove away to raucous applause!

During the week, we presented 8 seminars:

  • Technology For Travelers
  • Movie Maker
  • Every RVer Needs A Blog
  • Smartphone Overview
  • Smartphone Photography Workshop
  • Picasa & Picasa Web Albums
  • Google Maps
  • Destinations

The smartphone topic was the most popular.  Standing room only.  We needed to take a panorama shot to get them all in!

Picasa was still pretty popular as well.

We were in a different room for almost every seminar, so we had to get good at carrying all our stuff around.  Here’s Jim getting ready to go to work.

And, Thank You Connie Bradish! for helping us out with people coming to our table to become Geeks on Tour members. We weren’t there very often.  that means it’s partly Connie’s efforts that allow us to welcome 93 new and renewing members to Geeks on Tour this week!

As soon as the ground dried out a bit, we pulled out and hit the road, on our way back east to Rapid City and the Safari Rally.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

So Long John Wrightson

The world lost a sweet and loving man last week. 


It was only a few months ago that he called Jim.  His speech was halting and he had trouble with words.  He explained that tumors had been found in his brain.  In the following months he underwent treatments, but there wasn’t much that could be done.  

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu

I thought of Lynne and John when I read this quote the other day.  They were so clearly in love.  We are so sad.

Jim posted on Facebook:

I met John early in our first year full-timing. We were kindred spirits and bonded immediately. He was a wise and gifted craftsman with a joy for life. He was married to a wonderful woman who enriched us all. To say I, and all who knew him will miss him, is a gross understatement. As I tearfully write this, I remember and am glad I was his friend. RIP John Wrightson.

As soon as the Escapade rally is over, we are on our way to Tillamook, Oregon – originally to visit Lynne and John – now to spend some time with Lynne.  We love you two.

These pictures have been gathered from our albums over the last 10 years and several that Lynne sent me as well. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Geeks meet Technomadia

It’s a Geekathon!  Chris and Cherie of were traveling thru South Dakota.  Because we follow each other on our blogs and Facebook, they knew that we were staying at Rush No More RV park in Sturgis, SD.  They emailed to see how long we would be there, and then made it a point to stay at the same park for a couple of nights. 

What a treat!


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Colorado to South Dakota

We almost didn’t take route 34 north out of Estes Park because it looked like it had too many tight twists and turns to be safe for an RV.  But Jim decided to brave it, and we’re so glad!  It was a beautiful drive.  I made Jim pull over so I could get a picture of our rig

And here’s the road:

As it turned out, the worst driving conditions were after we got on Interstate 25 heading north … w i n d y 

We made it as far as Lusk, Wyoming the first night and stayed in the parking lot of the Elks lodge there.  They had no hookups, so we had to run the generator, but there was no charge,and we were the only ones in the lot.  And, they had a hamburger cookout dinner on Friday night!

It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to live in a place like Lusk.  It’s a tiny town 2 and half hours from any city.  This looked like the most exciting place in town!

After spending a couple of nights at the Lusk Elks lodge, we drove thru the Black Hills to reach our destination of Sturgis, SD and the Fulltimers rally.  Although we did present a couple of seminars, we were primarily attending because we R fulltimers!  Other than our own TechnoGeek Learning Rally, we haven’t had a rally devoted to our own interests since the demise of the Datastorm Rally.  It was fun to be part of a small group and get to know them.

I think they appreciated our help as well.  We got to teach them a little about Smartphones, Picasa, and even some hands on with Windows 8.  Sally was a quick learner.

After the Fulltimers rally, we decided to stay for the Elks chapter rally as well. 

There’s good 4G Internet signal here at Rush No More RV park, so we were able to successfully do a remote Picasa seminar to the SLOBytes computer club in San Luis Obispo too.  I think we’re starting to figure out the right way to do these remote presentations.  Instead of trying to manage Jim on his computer, and me on my computer, we’re doing it just like we do the live seminars – with Jim driving the computer and me standing behind him and narrating the presentation.  We ask that the moderator on the remote side position their computer so that the camera is aimed at the audience.  That way we get to see them (on my second monitor) at the same time we’re presenting our material.  As long as the Internet connection holds out, it really is almost like being there.  Here’s what the SLOBytes club representative had to say:

Thank you for the great presentation Sunday. I think it is safe to  say that it was one of the best, if not the best, webinar yet. What really impressed me was the way the two of you worked in sync without stepping on each other.  We all learned a lot, and while I use Lightroom, I was impressed with Picasa. I will not be changing , but I now know that I can recommend Picasa for image management and simple editing.

John Waller, VP for Programs SLOBytes  (Computer Club in San Luis Obispo, CA)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Rocky Mountain National Park

Some of the most spectacular sights in the world are at Rocky Mountain National Park.  We had to visit, even though we just had a couple of days.  Being a Floridian, we thought that May 30 would be a fine time to visit mountains.  Welllll … many roads are still closed due to snow, it’s COLD and WINDY, and we even had to walk in the snow.  But, we did see some awesome sights:

Here’s the view right from our campsite:



We drove as far as we could up the Trail Ridge road.  Right before the road closure in an overlook.  W O W

Make sure to click on this picture to see it bigger (then, to come back click the x in the upper right of the picture).  It’s actually 6 pictures stitched together using Windows Photo Gallery.  I wrote an article about how to do this, if you want to know more click here.

The next day, we took the park shuttle up to Bear Lake.  We felt like quite the adventurers there!  It may have been only a half mile walk, but in the cold and snow we felt like we had a wilderness experience!



I think this little guy was laughing at us!  Saying, “You folks are from Florida … I can tell!”


I mean, “really?!”


After the shuttle took us back down the mountain, we drove to another part of the park where there was a short easy trail by the name of Copeland Falls Trail – sounds good.

Lots of Aspen at these lower elevations, just sprouting their new, spring attire.

No snow, still cold:




After that delightful hike, we found a scenic route back to the RV.  We drove thru a canyon on St. Vrain Drive east to the town of Lyons.


That was it for our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Our friends Howard and Linda, of did a much better job just the week before us.  The Trail Ridge Road was open when they were there, and they saw lots more wildlife than our little chipmunk!  Check out their blog for some real hiking pictures!  Gem Lake Hike  and The Loch Hike.  Hey!  With friends that take pictures like that we can feel like we’ve already been there done that!  Thanks Howard and Linda!

On our way out the next day, we ended up on another canyon road (hwy 34 to Loveland) and I made Jim pull over so I could get a picture of ‘Big-Boy’ our RV, on the road.