Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sevierville and the RV Travel Club

We still arrived early for the rally, but that's ok because so did our friends Eric and Tami Johnson from TechnoRV.com We made good use of the time.




And, after the rally was over, we convinced them to join us on one of our YouTube shows. Jim set up his cameras, lights, and microphones under the picnic pavilion, and we talked to our YouTube audience about all of our favorite smartphone apps. See episode 153 


During the rally, we taught all our favorite subjects, Google Photos, Blogger, and Smartphone basics, plus one on Facebook by request. We titled it 12 Facebook Tips: How to stay in touch with friends and family with less annoyance, and more security.


The rally was several days, which gave me time to do my favorite thing:


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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee

We were booked to speak at the RV Travel Club's national rally in Sevierville, but that was about 500 miles, and we had 10 days to get there, so we made a few stops.



First up was the FMCA campground just outside of Cincinatti. Do you know about Jungle Jim's? It's a huge store in Cincinatti with everything imaginable from a wine/beer tasting bar, to live lobsters, to International items from all over the world. Since we were passing right by, we had to stop and see if it was as impressive as we remembered from having been there in August 2015 and I wrote: Think of Trader Joe's and World Market together, then multiply times 10.
Plan to spend a few hours at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati

FMCA Campground

We've stayed here before. Every FMCA member gets 2 free nights. A lot of FMCA members have big motorcoaches. It was fun to see the comparison with our Roadtrek!


We especially enjoyed the new trail around the lake. Especially around sunset time.

Rocky Top

Back on the road, we made it to Rocky Top, Tennessee. Yep, that's for real - a town called Rocky Top with a State park campground nearby. We checked out the campground and found good Verizon service, so we signed up for 3 days! Then we got out the electric bikes and explored a bit. We even found a brewery nearby with good food and live music.



Chris enjoying Clinch River Brewing
Also nearby is the Museum of Appalachia




Then we planned to stay at the nearby Escapees park called Raccoon Valley. We didn't have any reservations, so we pulled in the driveway and checked the Internet speed first. We were booked to do a remote presentation to the Golden Gate Computer Society in California the following night, so we had to have good Internet. When neither the download speed or the upload would push past 1, we decided to turn around and drive a bit further before stopping for the night.

Knoxville

Ahead of us was Knoxville, Tennessee. It was Sunday, and we wanted to find a sports bar where we could watch the Miami Dolphins play football. Google Maps sent us to one place that was closed, so we took the time to call the next place - they said sure, come on down and watch your football with us. Only after we got there did they try to find the game and discovered that none of their channels were carrying it. It was discouraging, but as so often happens, what we ended up doing was the best! We found a sports bar right downtown - another advantage to our small RV that can park anywhere! The Hill Bar and Grill even had good food. They were busy and had TVs everywhere playing every game. This gave Jim the motivation to discover a new app for his phone, it's called Tunity and you can use it to hear the sound from whichever TV you want. Just open the app and point your camera at  the TV that is playing the game you want. The sound then comes out of your phone. Jim talked about this app in our YouTube show episode 153.

Did you know that Knoxville hosted a World's Fair in 1982? Some parts of it remain a permanent part of downtown Knoxville - and it was right nearby the Hill Bar and Grill. So, we took a walk.

There is no charge to take the elevators up the tower in World's Fair Park and see the views of downtown Knoxville.

A hotel? Really?

It was now Sunday night, and we had our remote seminar presentation on Monday night. It was not at all clear that there was a campground with good Internet nearby. We didn't want to check in to the park where the rally is - just too early. So, we checked into a hotel instead.
You heard me right, we pulled our little camper van into a hotel parking lot and took advantage of a special rate to stay for 2 nights. Ever since we traded in our big RV for the little RV, we've told ourselves that hoteling it was an option, but we haven't done it.
It was nice. Especially since our seminar was so late. This club's meeting time is 7pm, but they're on the west coast - so that meant 10pm for us. I, for one, was really glad that the hotel beds were ready and waiting when we finished rather than having to put all the studio stuff away and convert the room back to a bedroom in the RV.

Their WiFi was pretty good, but I still think we used our Verizon hotspot as well. We taught a new subject this time - editing videos with Google Photos and Windows 10. We did not record the seminar, but here are a couple of our short tutorial videos on the topic (for Geeks on Tour members.)


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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Goshen, Indiana

Anybody here a fan of Firesign Theatre? It's actually one of the things that got me and Jim together way back when. We both knew the lines and would repeat them in unison:
"How long since we left Goshen?"
If you go to RV rallies much, you end up in Goshen sooner or later. One year we spent a couple of months there, attending rally after rally. Why? Goshen is right next to Elkhart, Indiana and the whole area is where many RV manufacturers are located. It is the RV capital of the world. The Elkhart county fairgrounds are in Goshen and provide plenty of parking, display, and meeting rooms for rallies. And ... lots of railroads and trains. It's just not a campground without the whistle of trains passing by, and Goshen has them aplenty.

We were there for the Discovery Owners RV Club.


We thought our clocks must be wrong since these were the only people there when it came time to start our Google Photos seminar. We are accustomed to 100 or more people. I think the rest decided to go golfing?! So, Jim got in the picture twice to make it look like more! :-)


My favorite thing is helping people with their phones, one-on-one.

The view from our booth in the vendor hall.


A wonderful thing about attending rallies is the entertainment. We try to take advantage and attend whenever we can. The Singer/Guitarist called Bat was spectacular. One guy with a 12 string guitar, a great singer and fantastic entertainer. Check out his website and and book him for your even if he's anywhere in the area.




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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Our YouTube studio in the back of our van


GeeksOnTourTV is an active YouTube channel. We have a video podcast called What Does This Button Do? We call it a weekly show. We don't always do a new show every week, but at least twice each month we produce a 45 minute educational show. It includes live video, screenshare and closeups on phones.

When we're on the road, we produce the show from the back of our Van. Our "Van" is a fully equipped Roadtrek 210 RV. It's 21 feet long and the back is normally our bedroom. To convert it into our YouTube studio, we need to:

  1. Remove the bedding
  2. Convert the bed to a couch
  3. Put up the table
  4. Add computers, cameras, and lights
Here's a little video documenting the process:



And, here's the show we did from that location:


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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Have I told you how much we like Walmart?

They're no dummies! When you use Walmart's parking lot for your campsite overnight, you're bound to go shopping. We park overnight at Walmarts all the time and we've always spent money shopping there.
There's always a Walmart. When we're on the road and just getting from point A to point B, it's very comforting to know that we'll always be able to find a place to park along the way. We use the Allstays Camp & RV app, or the website Allstays.com to find the Walmarts that allow overnight parking.
Walmarts are a convenient place to park, when you're not in a "camping" mood, you just need a place to park and sleep.
Walmarts are familiar, you know it's OK to park there, you usually see one or two other RVs there. You can almost always find a level spot. There are lights overnight, there are some security vehicles that occasionally patrol, you can come or go at any time, and - if there's anything you need it's right there.
Thank you Walmart for making lengthy travel less stressful.

Cracker Barrel

Another of our favorites for a stop-along-the-highway is Cracker Barrel. Nice parking lot, some lights, usually pretty quiet, and you get dinner AND breakfast! Allstays.com also shows us all the Cracker Barrels.

We stayed in Walmarts and Cracker Barrels with our big RV as well as our current little RV. Whatever type of RV we had, what we don't do is set up camp. Walmart or Cracker Barrel are NOT campgrounds, they are overnight parking. Do not get out your camp chairs. Do not set up your grill. Do not put your jacks down on the asphalt and do not put out your slides. You should be able to drive away with only needing to open the curtains on your front windshield.
When I see the jacks down on a big rig in a Walmart or Cracker Barrel lot, I am so tempted to go knock on their door and tell them they are being very disrespectful. Those jacks can actually damage the asphalt. The parking lot was not designed for this use. These RVers can ruin it for the rest of us. Their actions have caused some stores to say, "No more." No more overnight parking allowed for anyone because of the actions of a few.


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Friday, September 07, 2018

Deja Vu - Springfield, Illinois Fairgrounds

In June we had a rally in Sedalia, Missouri, then traveled to the next one in Allegan, Michigan. That took us right thru Springfield, Illinois where there's a very nice campground at the fairgrounds. In September, after having flown to the Caribbean and back, driven to Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma, we found ourselves right back on that same route. So we stayed in the same campground.

In June, we stayed several days, did tourist things, and produced one of our YouTube shows. This time it was just 2 nights. We got the exact same site as last time, can you see why? Hint: look in the sky.



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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Tulsa, Oklahoma

When we completed the Safari rally in Shawnee, it was the beginning of September and we were on part two of our summer tour. The next rally was in Goshen, Indiana and we had 9 days to travel the 900 miles to get there, so we weren't in any hurry.
Here' the map from our RVParky plan-Summer Tour Part II. How do we make this plan? See my article about planning road trips.

Summer Tour part 2, as planned with RVParky.com
If you read that article, you'll see that we also like to use Allstays.com to find places to stay - especially Elks lodges - and Roadtrippers.com to find interesting things to see and do.
With all those tools at our disposal, we decided to just travel 100 miles after leaving Shawnee and go to Tulsa, OK. There was an Elks Lodge with electric hookups for us to stay, and an Aquarium to go visit.

What we hadn't planned on was Jim feeling ill. We think it had to do with the corn on the cob he ate at Chili's the day we arrived in Tulsa, but we really have no idea. And, it was an ill-feeling that he's never experienced before. He just stopped eating. He wasn't exactly nauseous, but he just had a total loss of appetite. The really weird part was he got claustrophobic - he simply couldn't be inside the RV! He had to go outside, he was restless. He got up in the morning - made coffee - then went outside and sat in a chair, or went for a walk. This is a problem! How does eating something bad affect your brain? What else could it be? When the feeling didn't go away after 2 days, I started looking for a health clinic. We were in luck! Within a few miles of the Elks lodge was St. Francis medical center, including a walkin clinic. They were fast, efficient, and had all the equipment to perform blood tests and ekg's right there. They couldn't find anything wrong with him. That put our minds at ease, and we went about our lives. Within another couple days, he was fine.

The Aquarium

Who'd-a-thunk-it? A fabulous aquarium, complete with a world-class shark tank, in Tulsa, Oklahoma! We had to go, and we're glad we did.





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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Safari RV Rally - 30th Anniversary

We've attended many Safari rallies because our first RV was a Safari. We presented our seminars at their 20th anniversary in Amana Colonies in 2008. Now it was their 30th Anniversary and the rally was in Shawnee Oklahoma at a location called the Heart of Oklahoma conference center. What a fitting way to kick off the rally - a blood drive!

Safari RVs are known for their wonderful murals custom-painted on the back of the RVs.

We presented a few seminars and scheduled private smartphone helpdesk sessions. It was a good rally.



We did have an odd experience with our Verizon signal that I want to remember - When we first got there, we tested the speed on our phones and were quite happy with the 10-20Mbps speed. Once we were parked and settled, we were using our phones as hotspots and the Internet came to a crawl. We considered moving to another section, we took our phones up there and tested and it was nice and fast. That was really weird. I tested it again back at our site, but outside rather than inside the rig. Very weird indeed. The speed outside was 10-20, inside was less than 1. So we rigged up a way to put the phone outside and plugged into power, then put it into a cooler with some ice in a ziplock (because it was hot outside) We could then use our computers inside, connecting to the phone's hotspot outside and all worked fine. We still have no idea what the interference was. That's a first!


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

On American Soil, by an American Veteran

We've driven thru the Oklahoma City area in the past but didn't stop, even though friends have told us that the memorial to the 1995 bombing there was a must-see. Well we couldn't drive past it again - this time we stopped. They were right - it was very well done - and gut-wrenching.

The memorial leads you thru the event - you start in a meeting room listening to a recording of a meeting that took place on the morning of the bombing. A normal meeting, the time is recorded and the names of the people talking. Then, BAM - you hear the explosion. Next you are led to another room, where you witness the chaos that ensued.


On 19 April 1995, a disaffected veteran named Timothy McVeigh drove a Ryder truck stuffed with explosives into downtown Oklahoma City and destroyed a federal office building, killing 168 people, including 19 children, and maiming hundreds of others. That much we know. Learn more at the memorial's website.

It was a very moving experience




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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Harvest Hosts - Stafford Air and Space Museum

Travel planning is a real art. Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? What resources to use to discover places to see and places to stay.
We've been using RoadTrippers.com a lot this summer because it is so good at revealing cool things to see. After leaving Texas, we looked along our route using RoadTrippers and noticed an Air and Space museum called Stafford. Jim is a huge fan of the space program and we've stopped at several other space museums across the country. One of them, in Indiana, was Grissom Air Museum a HarvestHosts.com location - meaning we stayed there overnight. So, I thought - I wonder if Stafford museum is a Harvest Host location?
Yep!
It was a really nice museum, but my favorite part was the photo opps with our camper and the space stuff.





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Monday, August 20, 2018

The Mother Road

Over our years of RVing, we've driven on or near route 66 many times. I think my favorite stop was Bagdad Cafe in 2004. Last year, 2017, we broke down and had to stay several days in Seligman, AZ - the inspiration for Cars, an animated movie about Radiator Springs abandoned when route 66 died. But, this year as it happens we seem to be doing nearly half the route. We picked it up in Texas, followed it thru Oklahoma, Missouri and much of Illinois.
By Fredddie - USA map(GIS data), roads (GIS data), maps to help locate the route in GIS data, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12499286
Route 66 from Santa Monica, CA to Chicago, IL
And, here's my favorite rendition of Get your Kicks on Route 66. Amarillo, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Joplin Missouri, all places we visited this time around.


We noticed a Route 66 museum right on our way - had to stop.



We even stayed a night in Joplin, Missouri - a town I only know by hearing its name in the song!



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