Flashback Trip – Bermuda

Bermuda is not a cheap option if you are looking for an island getaway, but it is a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. It was a fantastic blend of laid back island life, and buttoned up conservativeness. It had amazing views, amazing forts, amazing ferries, amazing colors Wood Door and an amazing dark & stormy drink we are still trying to recreate to this day.

We went to Bermuda in November 2007, mostly because I found a great deal on airfare. The weather was far from a hot island paradise, but it made travel more affordable because it was during the off season. We never had to worry about dinner reservations, or crowded streets. So while it didn’t allow for any sunbathing, we found it to be a perfect time of year to go. We stayed a week which gave us plenty of time for relaxing, and touring the island from end to end. We used public transportation, which was an easy way to get around (and safer – some of those windy streets driving on the ‘other’ side of the road…not sure if we would have survived) and we ended up walking quite a bit. Walk in BermudaWalking was extra enjoyable here because there were views to be seen. Whether it was the amazing roof structures that collect water, to the forts and churches, to the vast ocean, there was always something that caught our attention.

We stayed near Surfside Beach which put us on the quiet side of the island – which was perfect. We were also upgraded to a two bedroom suite with a kitchen and unblocked views of the ocean from our balcony.View from Balcony (one of the great things about being a previous hotel employee, you know what it’s like behind that desk and you are often rewarded for your kindness and understanding) We spent time at Horseshoe Bay where I caught some great shots. I still say, the ‘pink’ sand wasn’t nearly as pink as I had been led to believe (darn marketers!). It was still gorgeous scenery and the tinge of pink was still incredible. Horseshoe BayWe spent time in Hamilton walking around the town and visiting Fort Hamilton. There we were rewarded with a cool jungle moat, and a great fort to explore and tour.Beautiful Garden Moat We had a ridiculously priced lunch because I was dying for a Rockfish dish we saw on a restaurant menu – so we decided to spring for it. The only other diner in the place happened to be none other than Micheal Douglas. We cost our server a bet and got a compliment all at the same time. Apparently since we weren’t celebrity crazy, rude, or loud she determined we were Canadians, so we were glad to challenge her stereotype. She stopped just short of demanding our passports in her surprise.

We took a ferry from Hamilton to the Dockyard, and while we discovered some neat architecture, we found it to be a little too touristy for our liking. Clock TowerOne of our favorite days was when we decided to walk from the city of St. George, to Fort St. Catherine. It was nice to roam the streets, taking in the amazing Unfinished Church,Unfinished Church Bermuda and then see the views from Fort. St Catherine. We also were treated to amazing views from Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse – well worth the hike up the stairs! View from Gibbs LighthouseWe also experienced Johnny Barnes, a gentleman that waves to passerby’s 5 days a week, just spreading joy. It was amazing how getting that wave made the trip not only extra worth it, but complete.

I was quite enchanted with Bermuda. It is far from your ‘typical’ island stop, and that is exactly the reason to visit.


Card Munch App for the Iphone

As we continue to look around at the vast amount of stuff we need to figure out what to do with, I always look first to see ‘if there’s an app for that’. The latest find, Card Munch, is an excellent app and website that provides storage for business cards. Keith in particular has a stack due to his job – meeting with security vendors and recruiters has a tendency for cards to pile up. The thought of hand entering the information was daunting, so as he was cleaning out his room last night, he assumed he would be throwing out the majority of them. But wait – there’s an app for that (and it’s FREE!) Oh, and to be completely geeky, I ‘bumped‘ the app to Keith after I downloaded it- another very cool app out there that I hope to use more when sharing info.

Card Munch is this simple:

(sign up)

Take a picture of the business card in the app

It is hand verified to ensure the information is copied correctly

It then shows up as a contact in this app. What is awesome is you still have the image of the card attached, and can even slide through them similar to itunes & album art. You can call and email the contact as well. Brilliant.

So, if you are thinking of downsizing, or already on the road wondering where to store all the business cards of people you meet – there’s an app for that! (iphone only, although it does indicate blackberry should be coming soon)


BaseCamp for Mac – Geocaching Software

So now that I can walk again, we want to get back into geocaching. We started geocaching back in 2002 when it was still ‘new’ and have continued to do it in spurts. We’ve cached in Hawaii, Bermuda, Kiribati & across the US.  Geocaching is a perfect blend of geeky & outdoors – which makes it perfect for us! Keith always liked to just wander, while I am more ‘goal orientated’. Just walk for 5 miles, I might pass depending on the scenery. Walk because there is a moldy ammo can that I can mark as found – HECK YEAH. When we first started, it was a process to map caches and plan routes. We used several free programs (easyGPS was one of our favorites) to make this process quick & easy.

Last year we upgraded to Mac’s, so all of the solutions we had for downloading waypoints & mapping became obsolete. While we can always run a windows VM, I would prefer to not. Back in January, the weather broke here in Georgia & we wanted to geocache. Of course, we it was then we realized we had to hand enter waypoints. That dimmed our enthusiasm. We put on our to-do list to find a Mac Solution.  Today it is beautiful and we both thought – PERFECT day for geocaching! oh crap. We didn’t find any solutions. Undaunted, we consulted google & sure enough, an updated release of BaseCamp for Mac by Garmin was recently released.

First Thoughts:

–  Keith is still annoyed at how Garmin sets up their interface due to little things that should make it easier (integration & menu building) Time will tell if it will be worth the potential frustration.

– Love that our GPS was recognized with no issue (we have a GPSMap60)

– Love that it designates between found & not found on the map

– Love that the ‘breadcrumbs’ of your path show up on the map

 

This software is in beta, but we are happy to try & it out and report any bugs/issues we may find. Even a semi-frustrating program beats hand entering waypoints (well, at least for us) We will also try out the geocaching app we have on the iphone now that we have just upgraded to iphone4. The accuracy of the internal GPS is supposed to be a million times better.

Now, on to some geocaching!


Three Rules to Follow

#1. I am always right. Well, maybe not always, but 99% of the time, especially when it comes to where NOT to take the RV.

#2 Always check for wind advisories.

#3 Don’t assume everyone does warranty work with the warranty you have.

So rule #1 came about when we were leaving LaGrange, heading toward Oxford, Alabama to get new tires and some work done on the RV. I noticed the Jeep was really low on gas, so I called Keith and let him know I needed to stop. The next Chevron station was ahead, but I let him know it had steep entry/exits so he should either keep driving & I will catch up, or hang out in the Walmart parking lot that was a 1/2 mile down the road. So what does Keith do?  Why – he pulls in to the tiny corner gas station with impressively graded entry points of course. Keith figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. I (correctly) assumed it would. I gassed up, he pulls out and CRUNCH SCREECH STOP. The hitch was now imbedded into the gravel. Keith, now being halfway out of the lot, is blocking traffic. Shit. Next thought: I think I might just kill him.

I hop out of the Jeep and go to the front of the motorhome and start directing traffic around it. I may not look too imposing, but when I put up my hand to tell the cars to stop, they stopped. When I said go, they went. Maybe they saw the expression on my face. We left the key to the hitch at home, so there was no unlocking it from the RV to see if that helped.  Keith tries to back up and spins the tires – goes nowhere. The storm cloud over my head darkens. He then decides to just drive though it. That works, but leaves a lovely gouge in the pavement. Next thought: What is considered justifiable homicide?  I went back to the Jeep, grabbed my purse and went into the store to tell someone there what had happened. The owner took a look, and decided it wasn’t nearly as bad as I described. No property damage report. No damage to the RV and tbd on the hitch. If you ask me it looks a tad wonky.

I called Keith and asked him where he was and he had wisely kept driving towards our final destination. With time to cool down, the entire incident was summed up in one sentence: ‘We won’t last a week fulltiming if this is going to be the norm’.  At least now he realizes what the RV cannot do – and what drives me batty.🙂

Rule #2. Wind Advisories and high profile RV’s do not mix. I know, duh. But we really are not in the habit of checking weather when we drive somewhere – at least not as religiously as we need to be. So while this part was a little less dramatic – Keith swayed some, and hit some gusts, we still learned a lesson. On the plus side, it wasn’t HORRIBLE driving in 15-25 mph winds with gusts to 35, but it’s not what we would call ideal.

Rule #3. Another bit of  a duh moment. When we bought the RV, the owners were nice enough to let us know there is an extended warranty and provided us the transfer paperwork. We read over the info & it said to take the RV to authorized service center. Ok, we can do that. So when we decided to put on new tires, we passed long a list of items we were having issues with. Our generator cuts off if you turn on a light, the awning doesn’t stay extended, some lights do not work (and a bulb change didn’t do anything), a leak in the hydraulic jacks — good stuff like that. Anyway, we have no problems while we are chatting with the guy about the work order, and then I mention we do have a warranty. “Oh, well do you know who it is with? Because we don’t work will all warranty companies.” Crap. It ended okay, with it being one of the approved ones, but we didn’t even think about it. We aren’t really big warranty people – so it didn’t even occur to us. Now it will.

I am sure we will have an abundance of ‘rules to follow’ as we get more involved in RVing and definitely when we fulltime. I am sure we will run into situations that will have me steaming with rage. (luckily in my old age I don’t get nearly as angry, as long!) It’s all part of the fun of doing something new & different. Right?

 


Flashback Trip – Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, North Carolina & The Atlantic Ocean

We drove down from Rochester, NY to visit Raleigh, NC the summer of 2009. We were partly thinking of it as a potential relocation area (note to self – it would have been better than Columbus, Georgia), and partly just needed to get out of dodge. This was the first long trip that we brought Samantha and she was awesome(no big surprise there!). We could tell her hips started to tire if we made too many stops so we started looking for curbs the rest of the week to park at to help make the jump into the back of the Jeep not so bad. When we RV, we plan on getting a ramp to see if she will use that. But anyway – onto the trip!

The area was really nice with a lot to do outside, which we appreciated having Samantha. We actually found that we liked Durham a little bit more – a little grittier and maybe coming from Rochester we gravitated towards that. Durham had places like the American Tobacco Historic District, where old tobacco plants were re-purposed into offices, restaurants and entertainment. The ball park for the Durham Bulls was also right in that area. I really love seeing places like this – it gives a opportunity to walk the grounds of a different era and I love when older buildings are used instead of abandoned and left to rot. I understand the huge expense and undertaking – but it’s appreciated!

We also spent some time wandering around the campus of Chapel Hill, which first opened its doors in 1795. It really is an amazingly beautiful campus – the kind you see in movies with towering trees and lush lawns. The surrounding streets were rather nice for a college town, with stores and restaurants abound. There were cool art sculptures around but one of the coolest ‘exhibits’ I saw was on a lightpole.

We also walked around the city of Raleigh, taking in the downtown area.  It was clean and comfortable and Samantha liked the exercise, but there wasn’t much there to really catch our attention. Maybe we just missed some good stuff.

Since we were so close to the Atlantic, we had to fit in some beach time. We exercised our 4 wheel drive and drove on some seriously soft sand to a place where you could barely see any others. THIS is what a beach should be like. Warm, sandy & quiet – except the pesky (but seriously cool) bi-plane that kept flying by.🙂 It was a great day and Samantha enjoyed her first beach time – still without swimming of course.

 

We also got to visit family, which is always nice. Now that there is another little one, I am sure we will make our way back to this area soon.