Saturday, July 30, 2016

2016 Escapade in Essex Junction, Vermont

The Escapade is an annual get together of the Escapees club. Last year it was in Tucson, AZ. We've been attending, and teaching our seminars there for many years - at least since 2010.

We knew we were going to be busy for most of the week. But I was determined to do some line dancing with the ever-cheerful Carol Hill. I made it the first morning and took pictures to prove it!

The first 2 days we were teaching a "learn-by-doing" class on smartphone photography. At the end of the class, everyone could make a little movie like my line-dancing one above. There's no better way to learn than doing! My favorite comment at the end of the class was a woman who said she sent the little movie she made to her grandson who asked, "Can you show me how to do that?"
What a proud grandma. It's normally her grandson who is teaching her!

Then came the main event and we taught 6 seminars:

All of the seminars drew a good crowd, but the most popular one this time around was the "Honey Tell Me Where To Go!" seminar. The topic is Trip-Planning, Navigation, and Mapping Memories. We demonstrated more on Google Maps than anything. It took a panorama to get the whole crowd. Here's the seminar handout, if you're interested.

We also did a live stream of our Google Photos seminar.

And, we had some fun too! Thanks to Bruce Fay for 'capturing' this photo!

Till next year Escapees!
Escapade 2017 will be in March in Tucson, AZ.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Travel to a Rally

I kinda like how our RVing life is going these days. We go to rallies where we present seminars ... "work." Then we have some time to travel and explore on our way to the next "gig." We do anywhere from 2 - 6 big rallies each year, then fill in the between times with smaller rallies, computer club meetings, and other small groups who are interested in our seminars.
This time we're headed to the Escapees club "Escapade" in Essex Junction, Vermont. With a small group rally in Hudson, NY first.

We look at the map and see that we'll be passing nearby a Thousand Trails park - Chesapeake. It's a busy weekend but we were able to get reservations for Friday night. Pretty place.

Next morning we get up and get back on the road, headed towards New York. I'm not sure that I remember each day correctly, so I'll show you what Google Maps records for me. It's really so cool. If you go to Google Maps, click the 3-line menu and choose "Timeline" you'll see everywhere you've been - assuming that you haven't turned it off. To learn more about Location Services, see our "What Does This Button Do?" show, Episode #81: Location Services.
This is the overview of our whole month:

Then you can also look at each day:

Last stop before the Escapade was a small rally for the Elks chapter of FMCA. We love staying at Elks lodges with RV parking, so enjoy swapping stories with this group. The campground was Brook n Wood in the Hudson River area of New York. 
We took one day to play tourist and took a boat ride on the Hudson!

What a gorgeous day!

Next Stop - Essex Junction and the Escapade!

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Geeks on Hudson

From Hudson Cruises Facebook Page:

That was great that they wanted to post this on the boat's facebook page, but the webcast crashed and burned! Just not enough Internet connection available. We still tried, here's the results: Geeks on Hudson youtube.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

RV at B&B

Next stop - Big Mill Bed & Breakfast in North Carolina.
Our friend, Chloe, was born on this family farm. She turned it into a Bed & Breakfast and it is just delightful! Jim was so happy to fly his drone and get some cool video:

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

RVing - Best of Times, Worst of Times

Our Summer Tour is getting off to an auspicious start! Just 3 nights out and we've covered some of the best and the worst that RVing has to offer. We got a late start the first day and decided there would not be time to enjoy the Harvest Host winery we had planned for the first night. Jim just kept on driving. We made it to Daytona where there is an RV park that we're familiar with, but the office was closed and we didn't see any notices about after hours arrivals - so Jim kept on driving. We ended up at a Cracker Barrel in Ormond Beach for the night.

That was a Saturday night. We were scheduled to do our weekly webcast at 2pm on Sunday. This meant we would either need to do it from a parking lot running the generator, or put it in high gear to check in to our next destination after 1pm (their rules), plug in, set up equipment, keep our fingers crossed for good enough Internet connection, do a sound check, video check, and go live at 2.

Jim said, "No Problem" so we proceeded to Gamble Rogers state park on Sunday morning. They didn't release the site until about 1:15. Jim backed in and plugged in to power. We started the A/C units going - it's in the high 90s and got one slide extended. The second slide has to be manually maneuvered and takes us 10-15 minutes, so we left it in. Jim got the cameras, lights, and computers set up, I got my lesson plan notes together and got our Geek shirts out. We didn't want to put them on until the last minute because they would get all sweaty! Lights, camera, action, and we went live at 2:01. Everything went off without a hitch!
Big Sigh!
Here it is:

When we signed off - Jim was prepared with a little bottle of champagne to celebrate! And then we took a deep breath and took a look around at where we were.


One of the reasons we came here was to go to a winery called Flagler Beachfront Winery. Jim had heard about it long ago because it is owned by the same folks who own a very special Winery/Restaurant we went to in Ohio called Tarsitanos. In my blog post from that past visit, I said I'd be dreaming about the food there for a while to come. Well, the winery here doesn't have a full menu but the baguette and cheese plate was equally to-die-for! And I don't think I've ever had a wine I liked better than their Cabernet Sauvignon! We got a bottle to take home and a glass for the memory.

Flagler Beach right across the street from the winery

We went back to the RV and rested for a while, we were able to start a movie (Steve Jobs) from Amazon prime on our smart TV and it played just fine connected to our Verizon hotspot on my phone. But about halfway thru, I looked out the window and saw that beautiful golden glow of impending sunset. I paused the movie, grabbed the camera and told Jim we had to go outside!

OOOOhhhhh  AAAAAhhhhhh

It just doesn't get any better than this! See more pictures in our Google Photos album for July.

The next morning we were relaxed. Check-out time here is a very civilized 1pm. We had our coffee and read our emails and Facebook, and Jim said "How about a bike ride?" Sure! There's a nice sidewalk along A1A here. I really like bike riding in Florida ... it's flat! We rode as far as a county park and noticed this great workstation for bicyclists:

Self-contained Bicycle repair station

Read the QR code with your smartphone and get how to videos on bicycle repair!
By the time we got back, it was time to stow and go. The plan was just to drive until we felt like stopping, no plans for this night's stay. The following night we planned to be at a friend's B&B in North Carolina A rest area, or another Cracker Barrel would be find for  this night.

About 5 o'clock we were hungry and decided to stop at a rest area to make some dinner. After dinner, Jim turned on the ignition, started to pull away, and the engine stalled - refusing to be revived. He raised the hood and looked to see if there was anything obvious. That's one very nice thing about the design of our motorhome - it's referred to as a Super-C. It's a class C with the cab over floor plan, but it's on a diesel medium-duty truck chassis (Kodiak chassis) with a front engine. You just lift the latches and raise the hood up and forward to gain access to the entire engine, unlike Class A motorhomes with the engine in the back that need a specialized RV service shop to work on it. Ours is a Chevrolet DuraMax 5500. It has a very good reputation and we can add our vote to its reliability.

This is a first in the 5 years we've owned this motorhome.
Anyway, Jim didn't see anything obvious. After letting it rest a bit, he tried again and it just wasn't going to start. So we called our Good Sam Emergency Road service and, after a bit of a hassle about an expired credit card allowing our membership to lapse just a few days ago, they made arrangements for us to get towed to a nearby truck repair shop. We slept in the RV in the shop's parking lot and they worked on it in the morning. It was a relatively simple problem with a clogged fuel filter, but it still took a few hours and $500 to diagnose and repair.

We're back on the road and very grateful that there are ways to get these kind of problems fixed. If that's the worst of times ... not so bad.

Even broken down and being towed ... Jim and I looked at our motorhome, then looked at each other and said, "Isn't that a nice looking rig?"

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Monday, July 04, 2016

Lifestyle Confusion

In 2003 we sold our house in Fort Lauderdale and took to the road. We lived in a 30 ft, no slides, class C motorhome for 8 years solid and fully embraced the lifestyle of a Fulltime RVer.

I remember the ecstasy of having no ties .... We met up with my Dad and his girlfriend at a campground in Arkansas - see blog post here. He has always been a camper - probably most of where I get it from - and it was fun to meet up on the road. They had to go back home after our camping visit. We got to Keep On Going!  Here's what I wrote:
That's what I so love about full-time RVing. You get to keep on goin'. I've had lots of wonderful vacations in my life. But, they always ended. You always had to go back. Like having an invisible leash that would let you go far, but always reels you back in the end. I have this urge to keep on goin'. The total freedom is what appeals to me. Back on the road ...
This was back in 2006 - about 3 years into our Fulltime RVing lifestyle and I was still reveling in the experience of total freedom. Little by little, we accumulated obligations here and there. It was good, it was how we made our living - going to RV rallies at different places around the country.

In 2011, we upgraded to a larger RV. Added some custom furniture, and started working harder at presenting seminars at RV Rallies. We were still Fulltime RVers, but it was much more of a working lifestyle than travel/vacation, the rallies dictated our itinerary. My mom, in Fort Lauderdale, also needed me more - so we always had to come "home" to Fort Lauderdale when we weren't otherwise scheduled.

Luckily, we LOVE Fort Lauderdale. The old adage, "Travel the World, Find Happiness in your own Backyard" fit my sentiments just fine. Life changes. Both Jim and I are good at going with the flow. Since Mom is in assisted living now, we are staying in her townhouse when we're in town, and putting the motorhome in storage.

We've been doing that for the last year - a few days here, a week or two there. This time we've been here for just over two months, and we've settled in. We have a master bedroom and bath and a Walk In Closet!! We've gotten spoiled. We even bought a hot tub and put it in the backyard.

There is a second bedroom where Jim has set up all our studio lights, backdrops, computers and sound equipment for delivering our weekly online teaching. What a treat not to have to take it down every time like we do when we're in the RV.

We've also been settled in enough to take care of ourselves. Jim has been doing all the cooking, forcing us to eat right - and losing weight. I've pushed for walking and we have a beautiful circle tour path in this neighborhood.

Now we're getting ready to hit the road again in order to get to the Escapade in Vermont at the end of July. We're excited. We spent this morning at the RV cleaning up a bit and thinking about what we need to bring over. When I walked in the door of the motorhome, I felt so at home. But, when we finished and came back to the townhouse, I feel at home there too!

What a concept. Two homes! My identity has been so wrapped up in being a "Fulltime RVer" that I'm not sure what to do with this new status.

But I like it!

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