Sunday, June 10, 2018

We Pour at Four

From June 6-10, we were at the Glamarama RV rally in Allegan, Michigan. There were around 300 RVs there, but we parked in a section with just the Roadtreks. This is great because the President of the Roadtrek chapter of FMCA, Sherry Targum, makes sure that we have a space for group happy hours, and she "Pours at Four." Jim and I fit right in!



We were here to teach. We taught 4 seminars: Google Photos, Smartphone Basics, Technology for Travelers, and Create your Online Travelogue.
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Jim also took some drone video of the fairgrounds with all the RVs here. Part of our "Create your Travelogue" seminar teaches how to embed that video in a blog post, just like this!




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Tuesday, June 05, 2018

The 12 volt "Van Life" lifestyle




Over the years of traveling by RV, we've evolved. From wandering, to sightseeing, to working on the road. This summer, my husband and I - as GeeksOnTour - are on the road for 5 months and are booked to give seminars at 7 different RV rallies. As we travel, we are making our living from our website. We've grown into our name - this summer we are Geeks On Tour more than ever before. Check out our map above.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida is home. "A" on the map is where we start and stop. Our transportation, home, and office is a camper van made by Roadtrek.
It has all the comforts of home, just in miniature!

No hookups? No problem.

We can have our wilderness and do our work too. We spend months at a time in our Roadtrek camper van. Most of the time we park at places with hookups. That means we plug the RV in to a power source, and now we have air conditioning, TV, and power plugs for all our computers, coffee makers and anything else we need.
The other day we parked at a campground in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It is a rustic, National Park campground with no hookups.  We parked, got the bikes (electric folding bikes by ProdecoTech) down and went for a ride to the lakeshore.
Lots of beauty, a little exercise, gorgeous weather ... we really enjoyed it. While we were out we found a "Gourmet Grill" for dinner. When we got home (to the RV), we had work to do. We need power. Here's how we get it:
  • Propane: powers the refrigerator, hot water heater, stove, and furnace
  • 12 volt: powers the lights, powers receptacles in the dash where we charge our mobile devices at any time
  • Inverter: converts battery power to 110 for two of our electric wall outlets. All we do is turn the Inverter switch on, then we know which outlets are live and plug our computers in there. Our inverter is not powerful enough to run the coffee maker or the air conditioner.
  • Generator: as long as we have over 1/4 tank of gas, we can turn on the generator and have as much power as we need. Just as if we were plugged in to shore power. Coffee maker, A/C, hair dryer - everything.

Self-Contained

What about water and sewer? We have holding tanks for that. When our fresh water tanks are full and our black and gray water tanks are empty, we can live comfortably for about 5 days. We've gone 7-8 when we have use of a bath house.

What about Internet?

Ahh - there are entire books written about that! I'll just give you our short answer. We have a Verizon unlimited plan on our old Samsung phones. We turn those phones into hotspots so our computers can connect. Here's our video on how to do that.

If you look closely at the first photo above, you'll see a cell tower in the distance behind our Roadtrek. That's what we like to see! We had screaming fast Verizon Internet there - 60Mbps down/37Mbps up! We even had enough connectivity to do our live YouTube show from that location - see Episode 144. Even at the Dunes we had good speeds, 10-20 Mbps. Here's an article to learn more about Internet speeds. Rarely do we find a location in the US where Verizon doesn't give us at least enough check email or post to the website. If we do find ourselves in such a place, we also have T-Mobile service we can try or Project Fi from Google. If nothing works, we can't stay!

There you have it, whether we're in our house in Fort Lauderdale, or in our Roadtrek working on the road, it makes no never-mind to us. We have everything we need. Let the tour continue!

List of Rallies, Tour dates. Numbers from map above:
  1. Escapade: May 27-Jun 1
  2. FMCA Glamarama: Jun 6-9
  3. FMCA International Convention: Jul 18-21
  4. Safari 30th Anniversary: Aug 27 - Sep 1
  5. Discovery Owners 20th Anniversary: Sep 10-15
  6. RV Travel Club Grand National Rally: Sep 26 - Oct 3
  7. Workamper Rendezvous: Oct 15-19
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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Escapade in Sedalia

Off to work we go! We left Fort Lauderdale on Monday, May 21 to go 1,400 miles to Sedalia Missouri for the Escapee's RV Club Escapade rally.

We were happy to be parked next to our friends Eric and Tammi from TechnoRV



The first 2 days we taught our special, hands-on smartphone photography class. We had 2 groups of really smart people! We went thru all our normal material and then some. We were very happy to have Barb Westerfield join us as a helper - she's very savvy with her Android phone and she's a great teacher. Thanks Barb!
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One student, Mike McIlraith, went above and beyond, taking pictures of license plates and them cropping and putting them together. Check it out - so cool!


This video sums up the week:


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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

We love Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is one of the reasons that Jim and I got together. Jim's been diving since 1974 and Chris since 1983. For both of us it is our favorite sport/pastime. We don't do it enough!
So, when we attended a monthly meeting of our dive club (UnderSea Adventurers: USA Dive Club) back in January and saw a dive trip to Bimini, Bahamas on the schedule, we checked our calendar and booked it!

Bimini is the island of the Bahamas that is the closest to Florida. Jim used to captain and crew for boats back in the 70s and 80s and he spent a lot of time in Bimini. He found this old photo

And I lived in Fort Lauderdale in the 60s and my parents had a boat that we could go to Bimini. Lots of memories for both Jim and me at the Bimini Big Game Club! and, that is where we stayed for this club trip. We even dove with Neal Watson's Bimini Scuba Center. Both Jim and I know Neal Watson from past experiences ... of course that Neal is the father of the one on this boat!

There are several ways to get to Bimini, our group booked a ride on the ferry. It takes 1-2 hours to make the trip from Port of Miami to Bimini. We had a beautiful morning.
Leaving Port of Miami

Disembarking in Bimini

We got settled in our rooms, deposited our dive gear at the dock, and went looking for lunch and beer. We didn't have to look far!
It was a pretty rainy weekend, but the dive operation was superb, and we had enough good weather to do some great diving. Here is our underwater selfie - Jim and Chris scuba diving1


And, here is my favorite shot! A very friendly turtle came right up to Neal Watson and looked lovingly into his eyes!

Here's a video of the whole weekend:



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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Toastmasters and Diving

Jim and I both enjoy attending a local toastmaster club called Earlybird Toastmasters. We've been members since the 90's. When we're on the road, we miss it. So we are very happy that there are now online Toastmasters clubs. We are charter members of Online Presenters Toastmaster because our friend, David Carr started it.
Here's what a traditional -stick and brick- Toastmasters club looks like:

And here's what an online Toastmasters club looks like:

As Jim and I were reviewing our calendar yesterday, Jim reminded me that I was supposed to speak at last night's online meeting. What!? I had forgotten all about it. A speech is supposed to be prepared! What am I going to talk about? I struggled with this question most of the day, then, just a couple of hours before 'showtime' I remembered a story I wrote during the writer's workshop in Italy last summer. It was a personal story about one particular dive trip, and one particular dive - a night dive - that didn't go so well. Perfect! Great timing too, since we are getting ready for a dive trip to the Bahamas this week.

Here's the recording of our meeting, my speech starts at about the 7 minute point and goes for 7 minutes.


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Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Sick in Las Vegas

Well, not every trip can be perfect! We can just hope that the old saying is correct, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!"

When we were asked to present seminars at an RV rally in Las Vegas on April, we said yes. We weren't going to be anywhere near Las Vegas but we thought that air fares would be cheap (we were wrong) and we didn't have anything else going on at that time. We made plane reservations to stay over 4 days beyond the rally in hopes of getting together with my friend, Melinda, who lives in Reno. As it turned out, she couldn't get away. This turned out to be a good thing as we caught pretty bad colds and had to stay in bed 3 of those 4 days.

The rally was nice. RVs parked at the KOA adjacent to the Sam's Town casino. We enjoyed the hotel, especially the huge courtyard.


We reconnected with Lynn Selden who learned about blogging from us years ago and maintains a website for her escapeess chapter using blogger. We think it is a great example of using the free blogger tool for a club website. Check it out at Shanty Shakers SKP 25

There were several people who attended all 6 of our seminars and took advantage of our free half hour one on one to ask specific questions. Here's what Sue had to say
I learned a lot at the WARE rally. So did Ken.  I was able to come home and install all the google photo updates, and apps onto my laptop, and to his desktop. Today I went to a fun NFL party and by the time I got home, all the pictures were on my google photos on the laptop.  I have always hated having to take pictures with my camera and then have to send them to myself via e-mail, and then download and save them to my photo files. Now it's all done before I get back!   how awesome. thanks for the info and notes we got from the lesson "stick".  I like the HIYA app too. I'm also going to work on my Blogger that I "resurrected" 

The best treat of the week was having dinner with Tom and Sally Buckalew, Jim's old high school friends. You're probably thinking, "oh, so they live in Las Vegas now?" No, they still live in New Jersey. They just happened to be in a cross country road trip and were near Las Vegas when they saw Jim's Facebook post about us being in Las Vegas. We love Facebook for that kind of serendipity.


Even the 3 days in bed wasnt that bad. No responsibilities, nothing that had to be done. Other than feeling like we'd been run over by a truck, it was actually kind of relaxing. We watched a movie on the hotel pay or view- The Post, about the Washington l post newspaper and the events surrounding the publishing of the Pentagon papers. Riveting stuff for those of us who lived thru that time. It was so good, it inspired us to find All the President's Men on Amazon movies and rewatch that movie about Woodward and Bernstein's investigative reporting during Watergate. It's hard not to see parallels with today's politics.

By the fourth day we were feeling much better. Not enough time to see Hoover dam or hike in Red Rocks Park, but we could do some Las Vegas tourist stuff. We went to the Fremont Street experience. That's the historic strip, quite a ways away from the current strip. We had quite a day. Starting with a bloody Mary at 11am, served on the open air mall that now enclosed the strip and providing a great view for people watching.



One of the things you see is people flying overhead on the Zipline known as Slotzilla. Jim said, I want to do that. Uhh .. Ok.

Here's a video of the takeoff of the group in front of us.

That was fun.

There's a micro brewery on Fremont Street named Banger Brewery.  We had to try that! We had a flight of their craft beers, including one they call Morning Joe which really tasted of coffee. Our bartender, Caitlin, made our day - she was such a delight. And she gave us a lead of where to eat later at the Golden Nugget - Chicago brewery. Do you see a pattern here?

Then we spent the afternoon at the Mob Museum. Very well done and informative. Apparently organized crime is always with us. Whenever there is illegal activity that can be profitable, there will be people to take advantage of that. Prohibition provided the perfect mass market for the mob to expand. Now it's opioids and human trafficking. Depressing.

For the evening, we booked tickets for the show Defending the Caveman. We saw this show over 20 years ago, just before we got married. It's a one man show about understanding the difference between men and women - and having a good laugh along the way. We loved it when we first saw it, and loved it again in Las Vegas.



Monday, April 02, 2018

Kayak Diving

It's been windy in South Florida. Even though the weather looks perfectly beautiful, it needs to also be calm in order to be a good day for kayak diving. March 30, the last day of lobster season was a calm day. We didn't have any obligations for the day, so ...





That's all I'll say because I've said it all before - we love kayak diving. Here are lots of past posts about kayak diving.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March for our lives in Parkland, FL 3/24/18

We participated in the #MarchForOurLives event in Parkland. It was an emotional day.

On February 14, 2018, Jim and I went out for a Valentine's Day breakfast at our favorite breakfast place, Commercial Point Cafe. When we were leaving, we noticed a Blood Mobile in the parking lot and, since we had no other obligations that day, decided to take the time to give blood. This is something we used to do regularly before we took to the road in 2003. So, it's been 15 years, and we picked today to give blood again. Did we have a premonition? No. But, later that same day, a shooter blasted away at a high school nearby, killing 17 and injuring many others. I can only hope our donation did some good.
Back when I was a lawyer in California in 1980, I debated gun control, my research showed that a gun you own was MUCH more likely to be used against you than to protect you. I just can't believe that our country loves guns so much they can't even ban semi-automatic rifles used in so many mass shootings. In fact, they were banned from 1994 to 2004 - how could we let that ban expire? I hope these kids from Parkland are indeed the tipping point to say that gun culture has reached its peak and it's time for the pendulum to swing the other way. We were happy to have the opportunity to support them in the march.
I see our gun culture as a public health issue, the more guns, the more gun deaths. It's hard to change culture, it takes time, but it can be done. Look at cigarette smoking. Not that long ago, every bar was filled with smoke ... not now. I have hope that we can begin to change the gun culture.Just a thought - if you really want a weapon for self-defense, aren't there non-lethal alternatives? Stun guns? That way, you could have it available at all times without fear that you'll kill someone by mistake, or that a child will get hold of it and kill someone by mistake. My Dad slept with a gun under his pillow. He also drank a lot ... I tried not to think about it. One night a police officer came to his door, he thought it was a burglar and shot. Luckily, he missed.
I recently read an account of a tourist in the US who was pulled over for a traffic stop, being from Australia, his nature was to be friendly and get out of his car to greet the police officer. He did not know that police have to assume everyone has a gun! What a shock when the officer had him down on the ground, hands up. Actually, it seems to me that police should be the biggest proponents of gun control. They are the most at risk.
Here's a comedian's sketch on guns in the US that I think makes great points. If you're offended by the F word, don't watch.


Monday, March 19, 2018

FMCA Convention in Perry Georgia

We figured out that this year was our 26th time presenting seminars at the FMCA national conventions. Back in 2004 we were there presenting seminars for Coach Connect, a company who installed WiFi in RV parks. After they went out of business we were invited back to FMCA on our own and Geeks on Tour was born in 2006. See this blog post for more history.
This year, the convention was held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, Georgia. Here was our seminar line up this year:
  1. Technology for Travelers
  2. Smartphones: What does this button do?
  3. Google Photos: What to do with all those photos?
  4. Smartphone Photography
  5. Create your online travelogue
  6. See descriptions of all our seminars on this web page.

We got off to a bad start waking up at 6am to a freezing 29 degrees. We had always needed to be at our table by 7am on the first day to take registrations. We were there by 6:45 only to find the building wouldn't open till 8 ... grrrr, I mean brrrrr.
We survived that and gave our first seminar to nearly 400 people. We had to squeeze our normal 90 minutes of material into a new 60 minute format ... I talked fast! But we got some great feedback, like this:

That's what it's all about!



FMCA has always been limited to motorhomes, but they just recently opened up membership to trailers as well. I had a brilliant idea to convince my friend Alex, to join FMCA with her Casita trailer and come with us to the rally and help out at our table.
To my surprise, she said yes! And, she was  great help. We stayed at her place near Gainesville the night before and then followed each other up the road to Perry the next day.
Alex with her Casita and our Roadtrek on the way to Perry.

Alex helping out at our table
 It was a very busy week, and lots of fun seeing old friends and making new ones. Sometimes it's both old and new! One woman attended several of our classes and she came up to me more than once saying, "How do I know you?" "You look SO familiar." We couldn't come up with anything, but on the last day, she gave it another try and asked, did you go to high school at Nova?
OMG - Yes, I sure did. And so did she. Nancy was the captain of our drill team, the Titanaires, and I was co-captain - way back in 1970. Will wonders never cease? She now lives in Georgia and enjoys traveling by RV - and learning more about using her smartphone!

Here's a little Google Photos movie to sum up the week.

Oh geez, I almost forgot ... I have to tell you about the funny way our trip started.
So, we parked at Alex's house overnight before traveling up to Georgia. On tuesday morning, I considered leaving Jim alone and riding with Alex to give me quality time to catch up with my old friend. I was a little uncomfortable though and told Alex that I'd like to start out on the road with Jim, then arrange to meet up at a Walmart somewhere and I'd switch to ride with her the rest of the way.
When I told Jim he said, "I'll be fine, you go ride with her"
OK
I went back to Alex's house, thinking she was inside. She wasn't there - her husband said, she's out in the truck. Oh - ok, but I'd better use the bathroom before we go.
Well, when I came out, both Jim and Alex were gone!
Alex thought I was with Jim, Jim thought I was with Alex, and both of them left me!


Thank God for cell phones! I was able to call Jim and make him come back to get me.


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Friday, March 02, 2018

Home in La Florida

There just isn't any place better than South Florida in winter! Did you know that the state gets it's name from the spanish word for flower? La Florida - land of flowers. And, it is so true. These are right in front of our building. (photos taken with iPhone 7+ and may be edited in Snapseed)




We love showing people our favorite parts of Fort Lauderdale, and there's nothing better to us than a water taxi ride. Chris and Charles Yust were in town just for one night before boarding a cruise ship in Port Everglades. It was a beautiful evening, so we took them for a ride!


Here's a little movie of the evening. Loved it! We're so glad Chris and Charles were here to give us an excuse to do our favorite thing!



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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Thinking about our Business

People love the logo on our t-shirts: Geeks on Tour. It's a rare waitress/waiter that doesn't ask us about it. "What is Geeks on Tour?"
Well, it's our business. We're Geeks, and we tour the country teaching technology to other travelers. "Cool," they say. "What exactly do you teach?" Well, we started traveling in a motorhome in 2003 and saw the need for fellow travelers to understand technology. We've both been computer professionals since 1983, teaching people how to use their computers, but now it's almost all about smartphones and tablets. Google Photos is our real specialty, it's the best way to manage all those thousands of photos we take these days.
By this point one of two things is happening:
  1. Their eyes are starting to glaze over and they just want to know if we're going to be ordering dessert.
    or
  2. They're getting out their phone and want to ask us some questions about a problem they're having, and they're full of questions about our lifestyle
Our business is hard to describe because it is uniquely ours. We never designed exactly what the business was, we just kept evolving.
People who do know our business often don't get us. Some think we only teach newbies how to turn it on, what is a text message, how to send an email - real beginner stuff. Others assume we are experts and can troubleshoot any problem they're having with their device. Neither is correct. We get quite a bit more advanced than for beginners, and, although we're pretty good at troubleshooting problems, that's not our focus.
We are Geeks Who Teach. We don't wait for people to ask us questions, we come up with lessons meant to teach concepts about these devices and help people continually get better at using their phones and tablets. We have a specialty in Google Photos and teaching people about taking great photos with their phones and then what to do with them. We teach on our website. Our travels around the country are more for promoting our website. We make our living from people subscribing to the website.

  • We are not for everyone. We don't teach business applications, just the fun stuff like pictures and maps. We used to say we teach how to Plan, Preserve, and Share your travels. But, you don't have to be a traveler to want to learn this stuff. 
  • We are for people who really like to learn. They think these devices are fascinating and they want to know all they can. Not just how to do the basics, and not just how to fix specific problems. We find our biggest fans are other teachers. They understand. Teachers like learning! That's why we do it - our passion is learning. The best way to learn is to teach.
  • We are not for young folks, they don't think smartphones are fascinating - they just are! They are digital natives who don't question what to do with them, they just dive in.

Anyway, we've been thinking about how to impart all of that in some simple card. Here's what we've come up with, let us know what you think. This is two sides of a "Rack Card" (what I'm holding in the photo above) designed using Canva.com.



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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Teaching at Riverbend

Riverbend RV resort was actually one of our very first teaching RV related jobs - even before we were Geeks on Tour. We were working for Coach Connect, the company that installed their WiFi. We were there to teach them how to use it. It didn't work great then, and 15 years later, they still have problems. WiFi just isn't meant to work in large outdoor areas like an RV park! We can't wait for 5G.

This time around we were invited by people who stay there and have seen our seminars at FMCA rallies. We are teaching:
  1. Smartphones: What Does This Button Do?
  2. Google Photos: What to do with all your pictures?
  3. Technology for Travelers
  4. Create your online Travelog


Here is the photo album from this visit to Riverbend.

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