Wednesday, August 28, 2013

California, here we are

Our last rally in Oregon - the Country Coach Friends - was a pretty small affair.  I think we set a record with only two people attending one of our seminars!  But those two people are big fans :-)  Anyway, we were able to get on the road a day early which was a good thing.  We had to be in San Rafael just north of San Francisco in two days' time.

We've been hearing about fires in Oregon on the news.  And, it definitely looked a bit smokey.

We debated taking the coast road, thru the redwoods, but that just seemed like too tough a drive for the short time we had, besides both of us were struggling with a bit of a cold.  So we stuck to I-5.  I'm glad we did, if only to get a picture of our current RV with Mt. Shasta in the background.  We had a similar photo of our old rig that we used as a cover photo for lots of Geeks on Tour presentations.  Now we have a new one!

Camping anywhere near San Francisco is a pretty pricey proposition.  We were glad to find an Elks Lodge in Petaluma that suited us just fine.  Instead of the $65/night we found for a campground, we paid the Elks $25 for full hookups and a nice quiet spot.  We even got in early enough that I could squeeze in a visit with my old friend, Liz, who drove up to meet us.

Our seminar for the Golden Gate Computer Society was on Cloud Computing.  Jim brought our own screen and projector to go along with the one they had so we could project the iPad or Smartphone at the same time that we projected the computer.  I think it worked well to show how the Cloud allows you to use any device to work with your stuff.

The next day we had a hands-on Picasa class for the GGCS group.  Their classroom was packed and they had a waiting list.  I think this day went well also.

When we finished the class, we were ready for dinner.  Looking at our Google Maps we saw a place called Pizza Orgasmica and Brewery.  How can one resist!  When we finished our dinner it was about 5:30-6 and the weather was gorgeous.  We were only a half hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge, so we took a scenic drive.  OOOOOHHHHH so scenic!

I'm getting a little carried away with this HDR photo technique.  I set my camera to AEB (auto exposure bracketing) so it takes 3 exposures in a row.  Then, when I upload the 3 pictures to Google+ photos, it puts them together as one HDR (high dynamic range) picture.  That's what makes the pictures above look extra dramatic.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vancouver Washington ... waiting for slide service ... might as well enjoy

While we were at the FMCA NW area rally in Albany, we got a call from the RV service place making an appointment for the following Thursday.  Great, we made reservations at a Thousand Trails park at the coast for Sunday - Tuesday, then the Elks lodge in Vancouver right near the service folks for Wednesday and Thursday.  Our hope was all would be fixed and we would be on our way to visit some spots in Washington state.

The Thursday appointment came and a different service guy than the one who visited us in Seaside arrived only to remove the motor and leave.  No word on Friday.  We extend our stay thru the weekend.  On Monday we get a cheerful call that the part has been ordered and it is due to arrive the following Tuesday!  yikes!  We have a Country Coach rally back in Albany on Wednesday.  Ok, so we could just drive the car down there.  But we have a seminar scheduled for the Golden Gate Computer Society just north of San Francisco on Monday.  They agree to overnight the part and install it on Wednesday.  That just means that Jim has to stay with the RV at the Elks lodge in Vancouver while I drive the car down to Albany and do our first seminar on my own.  No biggy.

My (Chris) favorite quote is "Blessed be the Flexible for they shall not get bent out of shape."  So, we relax.  Make use of the incredibly good 4G Verizon Internet service, and explore Portland and Vancouver a little.

Here's the RV parking at the Elks lodge, look closely toward the back and you'll see why we have such good Internet!

When I say 'explore Portland' I mean that we explored the shopping available!  There is an Apple store there as well as a Microsoft store ... these are candy stores for geeks.  We bought a new little iPad mini.  It now has a big brother at home because Lynne gave us her iMac and we gave her our old iPad.

We did go a little stir crazy one day and asked the Elks staff for a recommendation of where to go for a walk.  They pointed us to McMenimans right on the Columbia River with a 2 mile walking path ... it was great!

Of course a two mile walk works up a powerful thirst!  What a beautiful day and a perfect spot.

It may not be exactly what we had planned, but we had a nice time anyway while staying in the Portland area.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oregon Coast and the Spruce Goose

After the NW Area rally in Albany, we took advantage of our Thousand Trails membership to stay at a park called Whaler’s Rest on the Oregon Coast.  We always love the natural surroundings of most Thousand Trails parks and this was no exception.  The sites were beautiful and it was a short walk to the beach, BUT, we had no Internet.  That’s a problem for us since we run an Internet business. 

There was good Wi-Fi at the clubhouse, so anything we had to do we schlepped our computers up there.  We only planned to stay a few days, we could make it.  And, look at this great path to the beach!

Lynne came to visit, and we spent a wonderful day together. She came bearing gifts!  She sewed us a windshield cover for our old Honda that we used from 2004 to 2013.  Then we bought a new Honda … it has a much bigger windshield!  So she sewed us a new one!  And, I thought sewing was just for hemming pants!


When we left the coast, we made time for a stop in McMinnville at the Evergreen Museum that houses Howard Hughes’ gigantic airplane, the Spruce Goose.

That plane is definitely impressive, but the museum has a lot more to offer.  An Imax theatre, a World War II airplane collection, and a Space museum.  It’s 3 huge buildings.  Jim has always been a big fan of planes and especially space exploration.  I just love any kind of history.  I especially liked the story about Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler – 2 pilots in WWII.  Click the picture below to read the story.

And, check out these missiles.  Can you even see Jim?

Once we left the museum we got back on the road and traveled north thru Portland and the horrible traffic there.  Our destination was the Elks Lodge, just on the north side of the Columbia river.  We’re scheduled to get our slide serviced on Thursday.  Wish us luck.

Monday, August 12, 2013

FMCA NW Area Rally in Albany, Oregon

The FMCA NW Area Rally was held in Albany, Oregon from August 8-11, 2013.  We’d never been here before.  It was a medium-size rally at 3-400 coaches.  Here’s our parking spot:

We had to use our generator if we wanted any power.  We’re actually starting to get pretty good at that. This time we had a device we needed to run all night long on the inverter, and the generator wouldn’t start the next morning.  Note to self: make sure to run the generator for at least a couple hours during the day if you’re going to use the inverter all night!  Jim charged the house batteries with the car, and all was well.  What we did have here was great internet!  Verizon 4G – so our phone hotspot worked great (the problem from the last post cleared up on its own.)  They also had pretty decent WiFi if we wanted to use that.

Here’s our booth we opened up the divider between ours and TechnoRV … we like teamwork!  The picture was taken during setup.

And here’s one of our seminars:

We taught 3 classes: Technology for Travelers (an overview of the devices and applications we use and recommend for travelers), Smartphone Overview, and Picasa & Picasa Web Albums for digital photos.  All of them packed the room, and since there were orders from the Fire Marshall to not allow standing room – lots of people were turned away.  They said they’d give us a bigger room next time!

They also need to give us more time!  1 hour is not enough.  We had to speed-talk to get thru even a fraction of our Picasa class.  But, we still made sure to make a collage during the class and upload it to a web album so they could all see it back at their computers and remember how easy it is to do with Picasa!

All these pictures were taken at the rally – including the sunset!

When we left the rally, we went to a Thousand Trails park on the Oregon Coast, called Whaler’s Rest.  There we ran into some other people, with the Lewis and Clark TT chapter of FMCA, who had been at the NW Area Rally in Albany, but had not gone to our seminars – so we presented one just for them, using the Lodge at Whaler’s Rest.  Here’s the collage from that evening!

Just one more rally to go … The Country Coach Family and Friends Rally – Aug 21-25, then we’re off to the SF Bay area to do a seminar for the Golden Gate Computer Society.  After that, we’re turning east.  We’ll visit a friend in Reno, then we’re making a quick cross-country run in order to attend Jim’s Dad’s memorial at Arlington on September 16.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Oregon Maritime and Harvest Host Farm

Our two weeks at the Seaside Thousand Trails park was almost over and we hadn’t been up to Astoria and the Maritime museum.  On our last afternoon, we decided to fix that.  We lucked out and had gorgeous weather.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Maritime Museum, even though we only had one hour to see it since it was so late in the day.  Both Jim and I love history – so this is our kind of place.  I had a vague idea that there was a place called the Graveyard of the Pacific, but I thought it referred to the Japanese boats sunk at Truk lagoon.  Turns out it refers to this area of coastline in the Pacific Northwest, including the mouth of the Columbia river.  The area where the massive water flow of the Columbia River meets the unyielding power of the Pacific Ocean is referred to as a Bar.  The waves in the Columbia River Bar can reach 40 feet, and according to the Columbia River Bar Pilots Ass’n, it is one of the most dangerous and challenging navigated stretches of water in the world.  The video they show of big ships being battered by the waves, leaves no doubt why there are over 2,000 wrecks in this area!

Jim has a friend who was in the Coast Guard, so he knew about there being a training school here for rescue.  Jim loves to drive boats, but when I asked if he’d like to drive this one he said, “NO WAY!”


Outside of the museum we could see several different types of boats.  Coast Guard, a LightBoat, and even a Paddlewheeler that takes passengers on a 7 night Columbia River Cruise.


Just thinking about the people working those rescue missions wore us out and gave us a mighty thirst.  Luckily, the Fort George Brewery was an easy 2 block walk from the museum!


Such beautiful views along the Oregon Coast!


When we left Thousand Trails, we checked our Harvest Hosts listing hoping to find a farm to visit this time (we’re well stocked for wine at the moment.)  We found one just south of Portland – less than a 2 hour drive away – perfect!  That even gave us time to have one more soak in the hot tub before we left Smile

Here’s what our parking spot looked like.

And, there were plenty of driveways to take a nice walk in the evening - past the Christmas Tree part of the farm.  We also enjoyed getting to know the locals!

There’s no hookups when we’ve stayed at wineries and farms.  We figure it’s good practice to be sure our generator is still working, and we understand our 12 volt system.  Everything worked great.  Since it was just south of Portland, we even had good 4G internet, and even broadcast TV.  We did have a problem with the hotspot feature on our phones however, I sure hope it’s not permanent, but we’re worried that FoxFi may have been banned by Verizon.  Here’s the message we’re getting:

2013-08-06 11.51.46


Luckily we have good Wi-Fi in this park, so we’re not worrying about it … yet.  We’re staying at Phoenix RV park tonight in Salem, Oregon.  We also stayed here 9 years ago when we worked for Coach Connect and Jim helped install the Wi-Fi here.  It’s been thru several re-installations since.  Here’s the post from 2004: first post, second post, third post.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Coast to Coast and Back Again

As much as I love the fulltime RVing lifestyle, I don't like leaving my Mom for so long.  We knew there would be a few weeks in July where we had no rallies and I planned to fly home for a visit.  And, so I did.  As beautiful as the Oregon coastline is, I still prefer the warm beaches of Florida.  To feel that warm ocean breeze is just wonderful.  I even went in the ocean for a quick swim.  I was disappointed that Mom would not join me - she used to be such a fish.

I was also supposed to take her to an oral surgeon to have a tooth extracted.  The night before the appointment she got sick and I was told to reschedule.  Darn!  This means it will need to wait till the end of October now.  I hope it doesn't cause her problems. I tried to make sure that everyone who takes care of her at the Assisted Living Facility was aware of the situation and would keep an extra eye on her.  I also have two friends who visit with her regularly.  I suppose I could always fly back again if necessary.  

The flight worked out great and only cost $720 including a week car rental (using Expedia.)  I was so glad I scored a window seat for the flight back to Portland.  Mount Hood was magnificent from the air.

Jim picked me up from the airport and we had a 1.5-2 hour drive back to the RV at Thousand Trails in Seaside.  While I was gone he received the part for our uncooperative slideout.  Today is the day it gets installed.  Keeping fingers crossed. 

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