Thursday, July 26, 2018

10 Days, 3 National Parks

Once the FMCA rally was over on July 22, we're on vacation! Our next "gig" isn't until August 27 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. That's a little over 1,000 miles - 3 days of driving - and we have 35 days to get there! I know I'm short-changing these 10 days by lumping them together into one blog post, but I'm writing this in the middle of August and so much more has happened, if I don't get something written quickly, I may never get it in here at all! In the 10 days after FMCA, we visited Devils Tower, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons.

First stop Devil's Tower

We were there once before, in our first year on the road - 2004. It's a magical place and we've always wanted to go back. We rarely backtrack, but it was only one hour back east from where we were in Gillette, and we weren't expected at our next stop in Yellowstone for 3 days, so ...

We took advantage of lots of walking paths and even got up for sunrise and walked all the way out to the east of the tower for some great views. I even thought ahead and downloaded the movie "Close Encounters of a Third Kind" while we had good Internet back in Gillette. I bought it from Netflix and downloaded it to my iPad so we could watch it even without any connection while in Devils Tower park. It was so fun to watch that movie about Devils Tower and be able to look out our window and see the real thing.

I can't do it, I can't lump all 3 national park trips together :-) Here's a video where I put together everything we did in Wyoming, but then I'll write separate posts for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

FMCA rally in Gillette, Wyoming #fmcaWY18

FMCA RV rallies is where we started giving seminars while on the road, that was in 2005, and they've asked us back for every rally since. We see a lot of old friends, but are also amazed and all the new faces that are at these rallies.
Here's the lineup of seminars that we taught:

It is interesting, over the years, to see which seminars are the most popular. For the first few years, the only topic we taught was Internet on the Road - how to use Wi-Fi. Attendance was always >200 for those. The largest audience we ever had was for a Picasa seminar in 2010, we were told the count was 740 people - Picasa is not even available any more. Then came Facebook as our most popular topic - and we rarely even teach that now. For the last couple of years, Smartphones: What does that button do? has been the most popular topic. At this last rally, Google Photos seminar attendance surpassed any of the others. Here is our Google Photos audience interacting with us as we demonstrate that Google Photos also stores video.

Sometimes an evaluation catches our eye. Check out what this person wrote in the comments: "This may save our marriage" :-) I wonder what exactly they were referring to? Sounds like a great seminar title, "How Google Photos can Save your Marriage!"

Come see us!

You can see where we are scheduled to present live seminars by looking at the schedule section of our current newsletter, or on our calendar, or on our map!
If you're interested in learning any of these topics, but you can't come to see us live, check out the 15 minute video of our recent Youtube show:

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Legend of Tioga George

Once upon a time a man named George won his battle with cancer and decided to live a life of adventure. He bought a used Tioga-brand RV and took to the road. His cancer support group friends convinced him to keep a web-log (blog) so they could follow his adventures. He did as they requested and called his blog Vagabonders-Supreme.

George and his team

George was a solo traveler, but he didn't feel alone. Just as Don Quixote had his trusted steed, Rocinante, George had his Tioga RV. He took to calling her Ms. Tioga, and then followed Mr. Chips - his computer that made blogging possible, Mr. Datastorm was his satellite Internet dish, Mr. Mavica the digital camera, Mr. Trek the bicycle, Mr. Onan the generator, and more.

Thus was born the Vagabonders Supreme Team. George and his team had lots of stories to tell. Like when his adventures took him south of the border to Santa Rosalia. He liked it there so much he returned again and again. In his blog, George shared lots of information about RVing, like how he tilted his solar panels so they receive the most sun. Lots of people started following George's blog, thousands of them! It was like he carried his own clubhouse around with him. If he ever wanted company, all he had to do was post to his blog and people would leave comments back. This was back in 2004, when there weren't thousands of RV bloggers! George was a pioneer.

George and his followers

George's followers were so devoted, he could count on them for rescues. One time, in 2005, Ms. Tioga got stuck in the mud in the middle of a forest, there was no cell service so he couldn't make phone calls, but the trusty Mr. Datastorm could lock onto an Internet satellite and George posted his predicament to his blog. A reader in Florida took note and located a tow truck service near George in California. He made the call and, within 45 minutes the tow truck arrived! As George writes in his blog post about the rescue,
A BIG thank you to Paul from Florida!Wow, Paul. Your help was soooo great. The Team is so grateful to you for phoning Tucker's Garage and arranging for our towing. Imagine that, everybody! We were rescued by using space station internet communication. Man-O-Man!

George was our inspiration

We also started blogging in 2003. George was our inspiration. We were one of his devoted followers, we read every post, looking forward to his news each day. He was a celebrity. We also learned a lot about the Blogger system from following his posts. We first met up with him in 2004, right here in Devils Tower park. I was like a nervous school girl all a-twitter over meeting a movie star. We also met up in 2007, see that blog post and video here.
2004: Meeting up with George at Devils Tower, showing him our Safari RV
2004: Meeting up with George at Devils Tower, he introduced us to Ms. Tioga

George's Team and their camping style

Most RVers park in campgrounds. Not George. Ms. Tioga had a mind of her own, she wanted to park anywhere, and she could because George was willing to drive to different parking spots for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and "night camps." It's only the night camps that can be a problem. If they were in the countryside, they would find a forest road with space to park. In the city, they would park on residential streets, parking lots and business. Do police ever knock on his door and tell him to leave? Yes, but that doesn't bother George, he has a nice chat with the police officer and then turns the key and moves on. My favorite Tioga-George story is the time he was inside Ms. Tioga and he saw a police officer outside. He assumed there would be a knock on the door in a minute or so, but it never came, and the officer left. When George took a look outside, he found a note stuck to his driver side window, it read:
Howdy George!
How are you and Ms. Tioga?Hope Mr. Onan is feeling better.Have a good stay.
Mr. Cop
OMG, Tioga-George's blog is so well read that even the local police follow him!

Fast Forward to 2018

George is still RVing, and still blogging. He doesn't own Ms.Tioga anymore, he has a small Transit van towing a small Scamp trailer. We don't follow him as regularly as we used to, but sometimes he sends out an email with his location. We noticed that he was in the Montana area and we planned to be in Wyoming, so we sent an email response suggesting we may be able to meet up. He said, "Sure!" So then, we invited him to join us at the FMCA rally in Gillette. He said, "OK!"

Tioga-George arrives with Mr. Transito and Baby Boid
We visited the team - George and Scampy - while George was parked at the FMCA rally.

We gave him a Geek hat and had him join our Roadtrek happy hour group. It didn't take long before someone exclaimed, "You're Tioga-George?!  You've just made my day!"

George helped us out signing up members for when we were in seminars.
We even got George up on stage with us during our "How to make a Blog" seminar. He told a bit about his experiences with Blogging.
It was great to see George again and get re-connected. I hope we were able to introduce a few new RVers to this legend! We hugged and parted ways after the rally, with no plans of meeting up again. Then, lo and behold, one week later while we were parked on the side of the road in Yellowstone watching Bison - what should we see coming down the road but a Transit van towing a Scamp trailer. Yep, it was Tioga-George!
We meet again! George and the Scampy team

With 80 years and 8 months behind him, Tioga George continues to be an inspiration. Rock on George!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Back on the Road


Our next "gig" was in Gillette, Wyoming for the FMCA Convention.
I love the stretch of road that is highway 90 thru S. Dakota. It's been a few years since we've been up this way and there is a new attraction to see - the Dignity Statue. Friends on Facebook have been posting pictures of this beautiful statue, so I made sure to mark it on our map for a stop.

Then there are the crazy sights that have been here forever.

We made such good time on Highway 90 that we were able to rest a bit as we got ready for the rally by staying at the Elks Lodge in Rapid City. We stayed for 2 nights so we had time to go into town and do laundry, and go to the Office Depot to get some printing done for the rally.

Our parking spot at the Rapid City Elks Lodge RV park.
It's always nice to arrive at a rally early, and rested. And, thanks to being part of the RoadTrek group, we even had a site waiting for us with our name on it!

After getting parked, we rode our bikes to the main building and went inside to check it out, and there's our table with our name on it.  Life is good!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Our 20 Year Wedding Anniversary: Scuba diving in the Cayman Islands

July 4, 1998 Jim and I made the best decision of our lives and started this adventure called marriage. We were in our mid 40s and knew what we liked: Computers, Scuba Diving, and Travel in general. Of those 3, scuba diving is the most special. To celebrate our 20 years, we had to go scuba diving! We picked a liveaboard trip in the Cayman islands on board the Cayman Aggressor

We took advantage of a flight/hotel combo and arrived in Grand Cayman 3 days before the boat's departure. That gave us a chance to see some of the sights on the island. Like the shops at Caymana Bay and the beautiful mosaic artwork on the walls.

Our hotel was the Comfort Suites, right on 7-mile beach. Our room did not have a view, but it was a short walk to the beach.

We also visited Cayman's newest tourist attaction, the Crystal Caves. From our hotel, we walked about a half-mile to catch a water taxi over to the north side of the island, then a shuttle took us to the caves. They were really quite impressive.

We were very happy to have good Wi-Fi in our hotel room because we had some work to do. Being the end of the month, we needed to get our July newsletter out. We even did a Facebook Live, Gabbing with the Geeks from our room.

Another day, we walked a couple miles in the other direction from our hotel to see the docks in Georgetown. We were able to watch the Aggressor as she came in to port with her previous week's divers. It's a pretty big boat, but when it passed in front of the cruise ships it looked awfully tiny. It holds 20 passengers. I took this timelapse video to show you.

We had a glorious week of great weather, great diving, really good food, interesting people. And, even a little bit of R&R.

Ain't love grand?!  20 years later and we couldn't be happier.

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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.
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

Between Rallies, President Lincoln, Outdoor YouTube show

We had a few days in between rallies, so I used the Roadtrippers app to find something fun to do. The Lincoln Presidential museum was right on the way. We've been there before (we've been to ALL the official presidential museums, but Lincoln's was one of the best, and we were happy to visit again. We found a fairgrounds RV park within bike-riding distance. Cool!

At the time, Lincoln was not held in the high regard that we have for him today;

This animated exhibit makes it appallingly clear how many people died during the Civil war. I don't know how Lincoln could sleep at night, and he was already prone to depression.

We had fun with our cool little electric bikes. Thoroughly enjoyed the Lincoln museum, and found a great little place for lunch.

Our site was walking distance to Lincoln's tomb, so we did that too.

And, just hanging out at our site was nice. Notice the cell tower in the background? So did we! Blazing fast Verizon internet, so we decided to hang around one more day and do our What Does This Button Do? show from outside the RV.

The only problem was wind. Usually, just a little bit of wind makes it impossible to get good sound. This wind was blowing things over, but Jim's new Zoom microphone with the "dead cat" cover did a great job. Here's the episode:

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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.


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!

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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