Sunday, October 15, 2023

London Bound - and arrived

Noticed the neck pillow - yep that's the warm jacket in disguise.
Finished packing. Stored everything in the van. Tried to check in online to no avail. Worried that the lack of spaces between our first and middle names would once again cause a problem (see past blog post)
Jimmy drove us to the airport - so nice.. got there at 1:30 for a6 o'clock flight. we were pleasantly surprised that checking in at the kiosk was smooth as silk, no problem with the name/space issue.
Found a work table with outlets and got some work done. Had one wine at the bar and it was time to board the plane. We had seats 3 rows apart but when a man sat next to Jim, he readily switched with me. Time to curl up for a6 hour nap. It's a7 hr flight. We get in at 6 am (1am for us) and we probably can't get into our room till 2 or 3. Hmmm
I hope to do a live from London at our 2pm Sunday show time - that will be 7pm London time. Well see.
We landed after an uneventful, perfect flight and, just as promised, there were the Google PE Summit representatives there to greet us and drive us to the hotel.

Registration for the event - there are over 600 Product Experts attending from all over the world. All on Google's dime!

Even better than the chauferred ride to the hotel was the fact that Google arranged for us to have early access to our room. We found it and instantly crashed (it was 2am eastern time.) In a bit we went down to the bar and met up with friends, then had dinner.

We found our good friend, Michael Daniels, right away

Joe Wehry has been my 'conference buddy' since 2016. He wasn't there last year, so I was thrilled to see him here.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Crabbing and Sightseeing on LBI

 Jimmy has lived on this island for most of his life, so of course, he has a boat! He's a great one for taking advantage of where he lives and one of the things to do here is .. crabbing! It was a beautiful day for a boat ride so we jumped at the offer to go out on the bay and see if we could catch some crabs.

Well, it was a beautiful day out in the bay anyway! We did catch a few, but they were all small and we put them back. The catching process is interesting; you just put a piece of fish on a hook at the end of a line, lower the line to the bottom (we were in 3-6 feet of water) and wait. Every once in a while you slowly raise the line and there may be a crab hanging on and munching on the fish. Then you need help with a net to scoop up the crab. 

We went out a second day and had more luck.

We still had a few days before leaving for London, so we decided to do some shopping, and some sightseeing. For shopping, we always check in at the Surf City 5&10. This time of year they're having their end of season closeout sale. It's always good for a tshirt or two and we love items with LBI logos. The real find though was a warm jacket - something we need for London and don't have! I was happy enough to find a warm, light, compact coat, but then I noticed the tag that showed how it stuffs into an attached collar pocket that turns it into a neck pillow for the airplane. What a find! Jim got one too. Here's a link to see it/buy it through our Amazon Store

You know the Surf City 5&10 by the lighthouse out front. A replica of the Barnegat Lighthouse at the north end of the island. And, check out these 2 photos: the one on the left is the original, the one on the right is after using Google Photos Magic Eraser - in one click - to remove all the poles and lines.

Speaking of the Barnegat Lighthouse, it was being renovated last time we were here and you couldn't see if for all the scaffolding. So, it behooves us to visit this time. It was a gorgeous day so we took the opportunity to walk all the way around and thru the bit of woods nearby as well.

We also climbed the 217 steps to get the view from the top!

"Old Barney" is at the northernmost end of the island. 18 miles to the south is the southernmost point. Jim decided we needed to see that today as well.

Looking south, toward Atlantic City, from the south end of Long Beach Island - LBI

Of course, the most beautiful sights are right from our back yard - well, Jimmy's back yard that is.

Sunday, October 08, 2023


 We made it up to LBI a week before Jim's class reunion. He had volunteered to be MC for the event, so there were some meetings to attend and a volunteer appreciation dinner at Buckalews in the south of the island.

We arrived early, so we took advantage of the location and walked a block to the ocean.

We've been visiting LBI for so many years now that many of these people are 'old friends' of mine as well! 
Jim threw himself into the role of MC. Even ordering a black shirt and a gold vest from Amazon. It was delivered to Jimmy's house and was waiting for us when we arrived. Don't you think he looks brilliant?! His school colors were black and gold.

A good time was had by all. And I met a new 'old friend' Nancy Fegley. Would you believe that she lives in Boynton Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale. Jim has often mentioned that we should visit her sometime, but we never did. It takes traveling nearly 1500 miles to where they both went to high school in order to meet her! Maybe we will get together in Florida now?

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

We are frequent travelers

 When we left Chloe's Big Mill, we traveled a route we've been on before. Up to the Chesapeake Bay bridge-tunnel, then north on the Eastern Shore.

Is it cool that we know places to go and stay all over the country? Or... is it lazy? When we left Chloes we could go inland toward Washington DC and maybe stop at Jefferson's Monticello and stay at a Harvest Host Alpaca farm - or we could go NE and over the Chesapeake Bay bridge-tunnel and up the Eastern Shore, stay at the Pocomoke Elks Lodge where we've been before then N over the ferry to New Jersey.

Even if we did the eastern shore route we could stay at a Harvest Host Alpaca farm but it seemed like too much trouble, besides we prefer to have electric hook up we knew the Elks Lodge at it so we went the same way we've been before. The lodge was open this time and we had a drink at the bar and struck up a conversation with a couple who moved to Pocomoke from upstate New York they also turned out to be scuba divers people we had a quiet night and woke up to a parking lot full of Blackbirds

The drive to the ferry took longer than we thought seems that Google Maps took us on unnecessary back roads. But we made it just in time to drive on the ferry it was a beautiful day enjoying our houseboat for an hour.

I give it 50/50 whether it's cool that we are familiar with places all over the country, or we are lazy and don't make the effort to seek out new experiences. In any case, we enjoyed ourselves. 

After 11 days of Jim doing ALL the driving, I decided I needed to remember that I could indeed drive and I got us to our destination in LBI - driving the RV off the ferry and up the New Jersey Parkway to exit 63 and across the Causeway to Long Beach Island and the driveway of Jim's old friend Jimmy.

This will be home for a while. Not bad. We've been here many, many times over the years as we lived in our RV. It's gotta be my favorite parking spot in the whole country.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Space age technology on a 100 year old farm

 Chloe runs a B&B Inn called Big Mill. She grew up there as it was her family's farm, started in 1920. Chloe may have started as a farm girl, but she is thoroughly modern and has learned a lot about how to use social media to promote a business. We met Chloe through Martin Brossman who teaches marketing for small businesses at the University of North Carolina. About 10 years ago, Martin invited us to join a weekly discussion group about technology. Chloe is part of that group, and we've been seeing her online every Friday morning since.

Her property is conveniently placed on our route from Fort Lauderdale to New Jersey so we take advantage of her RV hookup space and enjoy spending a couple of days with Chloe. 

Jim was also quite interested to see how her brand new StarLink internet system was working. He got to help with a couple of the cable connections from the satellite to her access points. Luckily, I was inside the RV doing some work and didn't know he was out climbing on roofs!

Since we had such a comfortable, friendly place to stay - and good Internet - we decided to stay put for a couple more days and do our live-streaming YouTube show from here. You can see the show at Road Trip - our favorite apps and maps.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Being tourists

 When we left Alex's our plan called for a stop in Charleston, SC. We've been there before - even stayed in the same campground - but we've never taken the tour out to Fort Sumter where the civil war began. This time we did. We knew that St. James Island was a nice campground from a prior stay and it did not disappoint.

They even had a shuttle from the campground to town so we didn't need to drive. I love that. We picked up the shuttle at 9, then made it back to the pickup point at 4pm for the return trip. In the interim, we walked around Charleston and took the ferry out to Fort Sumter. learning some history along the way.
Walking around Charleston

Fort Sumter, notice the tik mark on the flag post
I just love learning history where it happened. Fort Sumter was actually shot to smithereens during the civil war. The walls around the fort were originally up to the height of that tik mark. Wow. Then they were destroyed completely and now they'be been rebuilt. 
The most interesting story was about a slave named Robert Smalls. He was "rented out" to the Confederates as a pilot. He knew how to navigate the navy ships in Charleston Harbor and the captain trusted him so much that he left Smalls in charge when he and his crew had a night on the town. While the captain and crew were getting drunk, Smalls gathered his fellow slaves and their families and piloted the ship back out of the harbor. He knew all the proper signals to make the confederates at Fort Sumter believe that the captain was in charge. He comandeered the ship past the port and out to a waiting Union ship where he turned it over in exchange for his freedom and that of his companions. 
What a story! And it's not over. Smalls ended up going to Congress and later buying the plantation of his former owner. I've looked for a book or a movie about him but no luck.  Here's the blurb on a poster:

Monday, September 25, 2023

Road Trip

 Jim's High School reunion is in Long Beach Island, New Jersey on October 7. Chris is attending the Google Product Expert Summit in London on October 14. Our plan? Take a road trip with the RV from Fort Lauderdale to New Jersey, then fly out of Newark to London and back. We can leave the RV at Jimmy's house on LBI. Then finish our road trip by driving home. Pretty much the same thing we did last year to go to Phil May's birthday party in Bexhill. We liked that so much, we figured we'd do it again!

First stop was to visit Rod and Natalie. They recently sold their house in Coral Springs and moved to the Jimmy Buffet 55+ community called Latitudes in Daytona Beach. Cool place. You can get around with just a golf cart. Go to the pool, the restaurant and community center with live music every night, even the Publix. 

We had a great time talking to Rod about his virtual reality programming gigs. He creates virtual worlds to be the background for a meeting platform. He said we could see a demo by just going to a web page, but I don't remember the address :-(

Then, we visited with Robin who was camping at Gamble Rogers State Park. Beautiful day!

She manages this large camper trailer, the truck to tow it and 2 big dogs - all by herself, and seems to be reveling in it. We see her every Friday morning on zoom with our tech-sharing group. 

More visiting

Next up was a mini-Nova Palooza at Alex's house in Melrose, Florida. Alex is my go-to person for conversations about life. We talked about living in places like Latitudes, vs. a house in Melrose, vs. a retirement home like Oak Hammock in Gainesville, vs staying right where we are in Fort Lauderdale.

So many pros and cons. We've had it so easy thus far. Never had to really make decisions about where to live - things just kind of fall in my lap. Now I believe that decisions should be made about the last stage of life before those decisions are forced on us.