Friday, August 16, 2019

In the forest and by the sea

We're back on the road for our working tour. We'll be living in our sweet little camper van for the next 2.5 months, and did we ever start it off right! Both Florida and Georgia have some wonderful state parks and we took advantage.

After packing up the RV we had to leave the house prepared for hurricane season. Brought the kayaks inside and closed the hurricane shutters over all the windows, locked the doors and left about 1 pm. 5 hours on the road, 3 for Jim and 2 for me, would put us right about Flagler Beach and our favorite Florida State Park, Gamble Rogers. Why is it our favorite? Because it's right on the beach. We didn't have reservations, we rarely make reservations, so we knew the odds were poor for scoring one of the sites on the ocean side, but they also have sites on the river across the road from the beach and that would be ok.


Well, we lucked out, the ocean side was full, but we got there at the perfect time to get their "emergency" site. Just in case a camper had an emergency and could not travel, they can free up a reserved site for the next guest. Since there had been no emergency and we only wanted one night, they let us have that site. Cool.

The weather was perfect and we even got up at 6:30am to catch the sunrise. 
𝕊𝕦𝕟𝕣𝕚𝕤𝕖 𝕠𝕟 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕓𝕖𝕒𝕔𝕙



After a delightful, relaxed morning in the beach, we had lunch at Snack Jack's. It's just a short walk from the campground and also right on the beach.


We were still in time for the campground's very civilized 1pm checkout time and we continued or travels up I-95 into Georgia. We decided to stay at fort McAllister state Park, just south of Savannah. Now we're in the woods! My soul is singing.


 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

June and July recap

Time goes faster when you're sitting still. When we're traveling and moving we make each day count, we can see the passage of time with each passing view. When we're home, the days, weeks, months, just fly by. We've been home for 2 whole months. I think that's a record since we first became RVers in 2004.
We've done a lot, and accomplished a lot. I just didn't see any reason to write in the blog. Now we're getting ready to head out on our late summer teaching tour and I need to write something in here before we go.
I do still keep up my photo albums, so I can tell by looking there what we've done!
June Photo Album
We enjoyed our wonderful back yard and hot tub, as well as walks around the neighborhood. I couldn't pass the Royal Poinciana trees without taking a picture, and the iguanas are remarkable - not in a good way, but remarkable nonetheless.
We attended our Toastmasters group where we have been members since the mid 90s. Many of the same people are still there and we consider it more of a social benefit than anything else. We did both give a couple of speeches though, and always learn something.
We did our What Does This Button Do shows

Then came July. Once again, I rely on my photo album to know what we did. And, Jim wrote about our Wedding anniversary spent on the beach!

July 2019 Photo Album

That's just some of the photos, click the link to see them all.
We were SO thrilled to get out kayak diving. It is our very favorite thing to do but it takes a lot of energy, and perfect weather. I was afraid that we'd spend the whole summer without getting out, but no - mini lobster season forced us to gather the energy and the weather cooperated beautifully. We also went out for a boat dive because Alvin and Lisa were in town and going diving. Alvin and Lisa are people we met on the Aggressor dive boat last summer in Grand Cayman. We have since made arrangements to meet up with them and go diving on another Aggressor ... in the Maldives!! next March/April.
Other big events for the month were cleaning out our storage unit ... we actually turned in the keys!
Then we kept on going and as we were going thru all those boxes, we also went thru closets and drawers at home. Something comes in, something else has to go out! Whaddayaknow, we're actually moving in!
One of the things in the storage unit were old VHS tapes. We took a few to Costco and used their digitizing services to convert the tapes to DVD's, THEN!! ... with just a click of a button, those videos appeared in our Google Photos.

  1. Wedding - includes party before, fireworks after, party months later, and John Glenn shuttle launch
  2. Chris teaches WordPerfect in 1989
  3. Turkey travels in 1999
And, we did our What Does This Button Do youtube shows
  1. Episode 170 - Google Photos
  2. Episode 171 - Backup photos to OneDrive for a second backup
  3. Episode 172 - Hodgepodge of tips
Ok, gotta go now. 
Really - we're packing the RV and heading out day after tomorrow.


Sunday, July 07, 2019

4th of July Celebration Still Making Memories

Image may contain: night.
Happy Interdependence Day!
Happy Anniversary Chris and Jim!
#thosefireworksareforus

The 4th of July is a wonderful day for a wedding anniversary. It's kind of hard to forget the date. Here in the USA, it has special historical significance and pyrotechnic celebrations are held all over. We say those fireworks are for us!

We again live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where you can generally depend on temperatures in the high eighties (F) this time of year. Air Conditioning is required for comfortable living here and ours stopped blowing cold air on the 1st. I called service and they promised a tech on the 3rd. One night wasn't too bad. The second night was really warm. Then the tech didn't show all day. The prospect of a third hot night was not pleasant.

What do we do when Life gives us lemons? Make lemonade!

In a flash of inspiration, I booked a room for 2 nights at the same place on the beach where we stayed for our wedding on the same dates 21 years ago. They have air conditioning.

It's not called the Yankee Clipper any more. It's B Resort. We think that's weird but that B it's name.

Everything was fantastic, though. The reservations agent found us a good deal. Check in was smooth. The room was very comfortable. The WiFi was fast. We received drink tickets and the front desk gave us complimentary breakfast buffets after hearing our story and history.

Long back-story: Chris was the "Clipper Queen" back in her high school years. This was her beach hangout with friends. Years later, our relationship was sparked with our first kisses on a water taxi under a full moon in Fort Lauderdale.
Chris and I were married on a Water Taxi on the New River in Fort Lauderdale in 1998. It was a small informal affair with all local family and friends. It was hot then, too. A bunch of us got rooms at the Yankee Clipper hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach for a couple of nights as alcohol consumption was on the agenda.
The city puts on a beach party culminating in fireworks off the beach every 4th. The Clipper is a great place to see the show both then and now.
Traffic is ridiculous. It's great to just park and enjoy the stay.


The Wreck Bar makes a very good Mojito. The bar is notorious for the windows into the pool on the floor above. Patrons are regularly treated to an impromptu display of semi-nudity or other unusual aquatic activity. Nothing like that happened this time. I'm assured the statute of limitations has run out on our earlier visit.

We walked up A1A to Las Olas Blvd for lunch at the Quarterdeck and strolled back along the famous Fort Lauderdale Beach. The entire expanse of sand was full of partiers. There were stages for music and activities all the way back to the hotel.

We changed into swimsuits and hit the ocean for a swim. Perfect temps both water and air.
We tried the beach pool but it was actually too warm and the music pretty loud so we retreated back to the room.

Later, we headed down to the bar for a drink and snack before the fireworks scheduled to start at 9. I had a beach blanket to sit on and we enjoyed a great fireworks show.


Back at the room, I hung our breakfast order on the outside of the door and we crashed for the night.

We have a regular Zoom meeting with our networking group on Friday mornings. Room service breakfast arrived promptly at 8 and we were finishing up by our 8:30 video call.

The AC service place called right after our meeting saying the tech was on his way to our house. We had to scurry a little and get checked out and back home to meet the tech.
Our timing was perfect. He was at our gate just as we were turning the last corner before home.
The repairs were fairly quick and painle$$. We're back in business. Cool.











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Friday, May 31, 2019

Do something you love - for me, it's scuba diving

There seems to be a lot of advice going around lately on how to lead a good life. I've been getting advertisements for an app called Fabulous - enhance your life. On top of the advice list is to Do Something You Love! I think I've got that down. In fact, I live my life by not doing anything unless I love it! I love learning about technology, I love teaching people about technology, I love writing, I love going for walks with Jim, I love traveling, I love creating content on websites, I love photography, I love presenting seminars with Jim (actually I love doing just about anything with Jim.) But number one on the list of things I do for no other reason besides the fact that I love it ... is scuba diving ... and it's something I do with Jim!

This week we went on a dive trip to Little Cayman Island. It was arranged by our dive club - UnderSea Adventurers, or USA Dive Club. We were here as part of a trip last year for our 20th wedding anniversary - that was on the dive boat the Cayman Aggressor. We dove all over the area, but I think my favorite dive sites were on Little Cayman, so when we heard about this club trip we signed right up.

If you've never been scuba diving, let me tell you about it. 

First of all, I'm talking about warm ocean water - someplace like the Caribbean or the South Pacific. That means you need the minimum of wetsuit coverage - just something to protect you from scratches and stings, but not confining. When you jump into the water, you are entering another world - literally. The undersea world is not a place where humans live, we are visitors and we need to open ourselves to the wonder of it all. But, before even looking around you can appreciate the soft touch of warm water and the buoyancy. It takes some experience to know how much lead weight you need to balance the buoyancy, but once you get it right the weightlessness is so cool. I've heard it said that dreams where you're flying indicate reaching a higher spiritual level. Well - dream no more! You can reach this level by going scuba diving!

Any yoga instructor will tell you, the key is to focus on your breath. When you're scuba diving, all you can hear is your breathing, whoosh as you breath in and bubbles when you breathe out. No distractions, just the meditation of breathing in and out.

Then there are the sights and experiences. I am a fan of walls, and Little Cayman has the best. It's an entire underwater park called Bloody Bay Wall and it has over 20 specific dive sites. Most of them incorporate the wall. This is where the bottom of the ocean just drops off. In Little Cayman, the wall drops off to several thousand feet. There are several places where there are canyons or tunnels from the reef to the wall. You're just swimming along the reef at about 30-50 feet, then you can enter a tunnel - feel a little spooky as you descend and wind your way through this narrow space, and then you come out the other side - into the abyss! I find it thrilling.
Chris in the Abyss

Jim took lots of video with his GoPro camera. Once it's on YouTube, I'll come back here and post a link. Here's Jim's Little Cayman video.

Then there is the life. You know that space movies must get a lot of their inspiration for alien creatures from those we see in the depths. They are so different from us.
Squid
Grouper getting his teeth cleaned by cleaner shrimp and wrasse
Southern Stingray under a blanket of sand taking a nap
Up close and personal with a turtle
I LOVE SCUBA DIVING

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

May rally and home

For the first week of May we had an RV Rally in Georgia - SKP ACRE. They had about 70 RVs there. There were only a few seminar presenters - only one track - we really like that. It means that everyone who is interested in seminars comes to see us, there are no choices for each time slot. And the relatively small number of attendees means we got to know folks. Offering our one-on-one smartphone help desk let us get up close and personal. And, the rally provided many group meals so we got to know folks even more. And, many of the people here are folks we already knew. FUN.



While we were still at the rally in Georgia, we were scheduled to do a remote presentation for APCUG (Ass'n of Personal Computer User Groups) It was an online presentation and we were able to get it set up and working in our little camper van. Fortunately - both AT&T and Verizon service were pretty good so all worked well. We were told it would be available on YouTube soon, but it's not there yet. I will come back here and give the link when it's available. The topic was Google Photos: our 7 favorite features.

After the rally, we drove straight home. Time to catch up on web work, do our shows, and go to Toastmasters until time to go on our dive trip at the end of the month.
I visited Mom a couple of times too. She's still on Hospice, but she seems quite well.


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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April recap

When April began, we were in northern Florida, headed to Sarasota for a gig at the Sarasota Technology User Group. We made another stop at a Florida Springs along the way. This is Crystal River Three Sisters springs.


We got to Sarasota on Tuesday and our gig was on Wednesday, so we called Horseshoe Cove RV resort where we have stayed before and booked one night. Then we had plenty of time to get caught up on emails and get ready for our seminar.



The seminar ended about 8pm and we decided we were rested enough to just go on home. So we drove across Alligator Alley at night and got home a little after 11pm.

With nothing on our calendar for a while, we could relax, soak in our hot tub, have dinners with friends, enjoy the neighborhood, and do our YouTube shows.
Beautiful flowers in our neighbor's yard.

We also took the opportunity to attend our Earlybird Toastmasters club on Thursday mornings at 7am.


We did have one more gig at a Computer Club - Cascade Lakes in Boynton Beach.


Then, we had to be in Georgia for a rally for the first week of May - so we allowed enough time to stop off at Alex's in Melrose and join in for a family dinner at her sister's on the lake.


And that was it for April.
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Saturday, March 30, 2019

March recap

It's taken me till today to finish the blog posts for the New Zealand trip. Today is May 29 - we got back from New Zealand on Feb 28. That's 3 months to catch up :-(  My plan is to do just one post recapping each month so I can get up to date and tell you about what we're doing right now.
I still keep up the photo albums for each month because that is just so easy. So I can look back at the albums to see what we did in March. Here is the link to our March photo album.
We were actually quite busy. We were at home in the beginning of March, so we had our fully equipped studio to do our YouTube show - Episode 161 about how we remember our travels with photos, maps, and a blog. If you only watch one of our shows - this is the one! I think remembering travels is our signature topic. I just love our photos, maps, and blog and I love to teach others how to do it.
Episode 161:How to Remember your Travels with Photos, Maps, and a Blog



Next in March we attended our USA Dive Club meeting, and presented a seminar to a local computer club - Deerfield Beach Computer Club. Then we headed up to Georgia for the FMCA rally. We stopped to pick up Alex along the way and got to say hi to her friendly donkey. Alex helped us out at our table while we taught seminars. It was great to have her along - Thanks Alex!




We've presented our seminars at every FMCA convention since 2005 - at 2 per year, that comes to 29 rallies. We're feeling a bit old and a bit tired. We're now focused on being semi-retired and have decided not to go to the next convention. It's in Minot N Dakota and we have no plans of being anywhere near there in August. It's crazy to drive 2500 miles just to present a few seminars, and flying just doesn't seem right. Then it's just work - not fun. So, we've sent our regrets to FMCA. The next convention is in March 2020 in Tucson. That conflicts with a big dive trip that we've already booked to the Maldives. So we won't be doing that rally either. I expect their summer 2020 will be in the east somewhere so we could do that ... if they still want us.
We came back home to rest for the week in between the FMCA rally and the RVillage rally. We decided to splurge and upgrade our home Internet to Gigabit Fibre ... OH BOY! This will help us in our plan to focus more on our website to make our living rather than traveling to RV rallies.

We ended the month with the RVillage Rally 2.0. The signature event of this rally is gathering around the Firebirds at night. Firebirds are those tall metal sculptures that they fill with wood and light like a giant pot bellied stove. The weather was gorgeous so everyone was  out, musicians gathered everywhere and a good time was had by all. Of course, we still did our seminars and our Smartphone Help Desk services as well.



After that rally, we had a couple of days to enjoy a Florida State Park - Manatee Springs. Don't you just love the color of the water?


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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Christchurch and Akaroa, then home

When we got back to Christchurch, we had booked one more night at the Jailhouse accomodations. It's a great place, but we'd also heard that the YMCA hostel was wonderful, and it is right across the street from the Christchurch botanical gardens, so we booked our 2 remaining open nights there. You think that staying at a hostel is an inexpensive way to go, but you don't expect to get the best location for the cheap price. Yet, that's exactly what you get at the Y. Across the street one way is the huge botanical gardens and the Canterbury Museum. A couple blocks in the other direction is the town center with the old church that was heavily damaged during the 2011 earthquake.




In walking around the area, we stopped in to a tourist information center where they convinced us to take a bus tour out to Akaroa - we're so glad we did!


The bus ride was quite pleasant, and the driver had rich stories of the history of New Zealand. The Dutch explorer, Abel Tasmen was the first European to discover the islands. The Maori were already here - they call it Aotearoa. I'm not sure if Tasmen was too respectful of the Maori to "claim" the land for his home country or he was just lazy. Nevertheless, Dutch laid no claim. The French sailed into Akaroa harbor in 1838 but did not have the paperwork to "claim" the land for France so they sailed back to France to consult with the King and then sail back. Meanwhile, the English signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the Maori in 1840 and the ship named HMS Britomart sailed into Akaroa harbor on Aug 10, 1840 and immediately raised the Union Jack claiming New Zealand as part of the British empire. 5 days later, the French made it back complete with settlers and proclamations from the French king to claim the land for France. What a story. The end result was that the french were allowed to settle in Akaroa as long as they vowed allegiance to the British.
To this day Akaroa has a French section and a British section, you can tell by the names of the streets and the restaurants.
What a beautiful place.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant with seating overlooking the harbor. Who needs food when you have this view? But, the food was good too.

Part of our tour included a harbor cruise. Oh Boy.

It was a gorgeous day. We even saw the world's smallest penguin.

Back to Christchurch and we moved to our last hotel, the Doubletree. This had been booked as part of our skeleton plan for the whole trip. Very nice. Good breakfast. Then we're off to the airport and our LONG flight home. So cool to see this mural in the Auckland airport. It's a photo of the Castle Hill area near Arthur's pass, the place we call Birthplace of the Gods ... been there


First flight: Christchurch -> Auckland: 1.5 hrs + 2 layover
Second flight: Auckland -> San Francisco: 12 hrs + 2.5 layover
Third flight: San Francisco -> Miami: 5.5 hrs + 1.5 hrs train home

Home safe and sound, and not even much worse for wear. We didn't feel much jet lag at all. We were even able to do our YouTube show on Sunday. We show our photos, maps, and blog posts and teach you how you can do the same to remember your travels ... easy-peasy with Google Photos, Google My Maps, and Google Blogger. Episode 161: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=622cSsZtwSI&feature=share


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