Tuesday, February 17, 2009

BOYS (and girls!) and their TOYS

We are spending a few days at the Western Horizons RV Resort in Casa Grande recovering from the Gypsy Journal rally, writing up our blog post about the rally, and gathering some wool. Man, it feels good to do nothing for a while! While we are here we'll be meeting for lunch with new friends Joy and Phil who are fellow bloggers. (To see their blog, scroll down the right hand side of this screen, then click on "Backroad Chronicles.") Later in the week we'll lunch with other friends Bob and Audrey who were on the 2005 Alaska caravan with us.

While we were writing this blog post, my computer was acting up. It’s been slow as molasses recently anyway, and it was getting worse. It’s nearly four years old. We bought it in Alaska (Costco in Anchorage) when the one I was using then died. That one was only three years old at the time. I guess I’m rough on computers!

A little LeRoy computer history: we bought our first PC, a Radio Shack Color Computer (16K!) that connected to our color TV for a monitor, probably in 1976. As a birthday gift, Suzy gave me an upgrade to 64K, and I was on top of the world. Who would ever need more than 64K? I learned how to program in Basic, and I could make that Color Computer dance and sing. We continued upgrading and adding to that computer until … “Gee, there’s a 128K TRS80 down at Radio Shack that will do a lot more than this one.” And since then we’ve been burning up computers at the rate of at least one every two or three years. Right now, Suzy and I each have separate laptops traveling with us, and there is a desktop unit in our casita back at Benson.

Back to today. We knew this old laptop was ready to be replaced. We had a lead on a neat one at the HP store on-line, but we are hands-on shoppers and wanted to be able to see an actual PC and talk to somebody about it. So we trundled down to Staples and saw a better unit (4GB RAM, 320 GB hard drive) on a clearance sale. After about 15 minutes with the technician, we bought and paid for this wonder. As we write this on Suzy's laptop, Staples is transferring the data and programs from the molasses machine to the new one. In a day or two, we’ll pick it up, make sure it has all its bells and whistles (and all our data!) and Suzy won’t have to listen to me moan and groan about the old one any more!

(Our friends Joy and Phil have recently had their computer tuned up … and the tech accidentally lost all their data! Fortunately they were able to replace most of it from backups they had made.)

On the subject of toys: Suzy’s laptop has been our navigating tool in the motorhome. We have a GPS unit and DeLorme Street Atlas on her machine.

This is a look at the highways and public lands around the Four Corners area (where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet, the only place in the country where four states connect). The yellow line is our projected route.

While we travel, Suzy drives and I run the computer to be sure we go where we want to go. It’s a neat tool, and it has led us into some wonderful experiences, plus a few misadventures along the way. In the car, we have no such navigation system. Suzy has to read the maps and try to figure out if “west” is left or right.

So, having heard a lot of people talking about dash-mount or portable GPS devices, we figured we should have one too. Friends Gene and Cheri showed us the Garmin Nuvi unit they had recently found on Amazon.com at a fabulous price reduction. Guess who has one now! We found it on WalMart.com at $80 less than the same model on Amazon!
Suzy spent some time yesterday charging its battery and learning its abilities. For a little device it contains a wonderful wealth of information. For instance we wanted to know where the Catholic Church is for this weekend. In three steps, Suzy found St. Anthony of Padua church here in Casa Grande, and the exact route from our RV park right to the church!

This is a close up of the Garmin screen. The little blue car is shown making a turn. When we travel, we usually stop at an RV park for several days, sometimes weeks, and we explore the area by car. We expect this Garmin Nuvi to be a great help finding all the hidden places that we want to see.

President Obama is trying to get this economy moving again, and we feel we are doing our part! Of course, now we’ve had Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and any other gift days taken care of for this calendar year in … Our Life on Wheels!


  1. Isn't new technology great!!!!....when it works! ha


  2. Jerry and Suzie,

    Congrats on the new 'puter!

    We LOVE our Garmin "Street Pilot", an older version of your new "Nuvi". Once we learned how to use it, we have had some wonderful adventures without ever worrying about getting lost.

    See you in about an hour and a half at Mimi's! :)


  3. I'm sure you are going to love it, we sure like ours.


  4. For our travels in 2007, we used a laptop based GPS system. The laptop was mounted on a RAM mount in the pickup truck when we were traveling. It worked out pretty well, except for when it had us going north when we were actually going south. It ended up thinking we were in Yellowstone Lake when we were actually just west of the Grand Tetons.

    After we downsized from the fifth wheel to our class C, there just wasn't any place to mount the laptop so we got a Garmin Nuvi. We used it on our September trip to Wisconsin. It worked great!

    A word of caution, though. Like any computing tool, it's only as good as its data. At Pottawatomie State Park in Wisconsin, it took us down a road that was closed and probably hadn't been a park entrance in many, many years. It was a dead end and we ended up having to unhook the tow and turn into a driveway and back out in order to turn around.

    That was the worst misdirection, but there have been others. On the whole, though, we've been very pleased with the Garmin once we got used to it.

    Mike Goad (at home in Arkansas)
    Haw Creek Out 'n About

  5. Krall here:

    I began using a computer just within the last ten years. Had been frightened off. But then I thought I was a cutting-edge techie when I used an electric typewriter. Can't imagine what I would do without it. When I work on a Greek worksheet I go so easily from the Greek font to the Latin font. When I was teaching highschool back in the Sixties at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, Greek was one of the subjects on my schedule. At that time I had two typewriters, one of which had Greek font on it. However it was the elite size. In Greek you need to put accents and breathing marks over certain letters and other little "thingies" under other letters. When typing on a mimeo,by the time I had the letters with their above "thingies" and their underneath "thingies" I had a hole in the mimeo. I stopped typing those "thingies" and wrote them in by hand.

    I still don't know that much about my computer. But now and then I ask one of the students a question and he (usually they are "he's") and he shows me first at ninety miles and hour and then in slow motion, so that I can take notes, type them up and then keep them on hand for future reference. I usually have to repeat a particular proceedure several dozen times before I can do it without notes. But what the heck! That's one of the wonders of growing older.

    Happy gadgeting!

  6. Hi Guys good to hear your both doing well... I love my computer GPS programs... I use Co-Pilot or Microsoft Streets & Trips... Both are great but the Microsoft one is getting so much better and it is a lot cheaper... In our car we use a MIO GPS router... Love it too... They are always nice to use but like you said they can get you into some jams... LOL LOL

    Have a good one

  7. Don't you just love those "Tech" toys! Funny you should pick up a GPS for your car . . . we are thinking of making a similar purchase -sooner than later. Loved the close up photos of the computer screen and the GPS unit.


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