Thursday, November 27, 2014

Inspired in Savannah

After a whirlwind summer and fall and three days of driving from Vermont to Georgia, Craig and I settled the bus into a very spacious spot in Skidaway Island State Park in Savannah Georgia for 6 days.  It felt good not to be moving for a few days.  Neither of us had ever been to Savannah but had heard it was beautiful.  Having referred many of my students to explore Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD) ~ the University for Creative Careers,  I was looking forward to seeing what type of creative inspiration we would find in Savannah. We were not disappointed.

We were inspired by our walks on trails through moss draped forest of live oak,  cabbage palms, and sawtooth palmetto.  The grassy field, salt marsh, and intercoastal waters that surround the island made for a great place for me to practice using the panaroma feature  on the camera of my Nexus 5.

During our first excursion into the city we were further inspired by a convergence of tech-loving creatives that had gathered for a weekend of inspiration for an event called GEEKEND sponsored by the Creative Coast (a non-profit organization whose mission is to nurture creativity and innovation in Savannah.)

 It felt like we had landed amongst kindred spirits.  Although we chose not to purchase tickets for the full event,  we were drawn to visit one of the free Geekend events ~ the Kodestar Arcade   (an arcade where kids who’ve built games get to show them off, get feedback and praise and feel the thrill of building something that people actually use)

Our short conversations with the co-creators of  KodeStar  and volunteers staffing the event left me inspired to put on such and event in Vermont ~ perhaps at the Generator (the Vermont makerspace we belong to.)    The  pop-up digital arcade included a festive welcome area with lots of creative energy from volunteers, photographers, and videographers, kids, parents, and Geekend attendees who had wandered over to check out the fun.  Beyond the welcome area were  three rooms set aside for the KodeStar arcade event.

In one room we found that a  computer lab of PCs had been converted into a physical~ digital arcade by loading up one of the games from the  KodeStar virtual aracde,  adding a  KodeStar sticker to the monitor that included the title of the game and the name and age of the young game creator who had designed the game. I joined other visitors to the arcade who were bouncing around from computer to computer playing the kid-created video games.

HEREX At one point, I was lucky enough to find myself sitting right next to the young man who had created the game I was playing.  I became much more interested in talking to him about his process than in playing the game, and obviously I was not the only one. The room was filled with people walking around with video cameras, audio recorders, and cameras talking pictures of the event.

The other two rooms were set up as creative studios ~ one for low tech game design using pencils, markers, and storyboard paper templates and the other a computer lab filled with PCs running Scratch (one of my favorite tools to use with students.)   Volunteers staffed both rooms ready to assist aspiring game designers into the process of creating their own game.

It didn't take long to discover the two creative minds behind KodeStars~ Yvonne Jouffrault & Kevin Lawver .  I only spoke to them briefly to learn more about their roles and vision for this project; they were plenty busy fielding questions from participants and making sure their event was flowing smoothly.  I'm hopeful that we'll get a chance to talk more after GeekEnd ~ perhaps even to do a Google Hangout on Air.

On our way out, we stopped by the Geek-end information desk and learned a little bit more about Creative Coast and their role in Savannah, which included hopes of a full fledged maker space.  I was surprised that an city filled with creatives didn't have a makerspace yet, and after a little web research discovered that their efforts to find funding were currently a barrier to this goal.  I loved the name of their future Maker Space ~ Maven Makers and their vision, and couldn't understand why their kickstarter had not  been backed

Filled with inspiration, we  continued to walk around historic Savannah's  many park squares that makeup Savannah.  In one park we found a food and wine festival was in full swing and while another park square was setup for the 20th annual Telfair Art Fair  filled with local artist displaying and selling paintings, crafts, handiwork, jewelry and other wonderful inspiring pieces.   The hard part about living in a bus, is that you have limited space and must curtail accumulating pieces of inspiration, but I did find the perfect piece to purchase from a artist who was displaying silver jewelry.

New earrings for my birthday
The piece,  Two Peas in a Pod, were beautiful silver earrings in the shape of an open pea pod containing two tiny black pearls.  The earrings would not only remind me of my visit to Savannah, but also of my twin boys (Adam and Matt PODD) who were often referred to as 'two peas in a pod'.  Craig offered these to me as a birthday present when he saw me admiring them, and I accepted the gift.   One of the things I have learned from Craig's interest in jewelry as art is that it fulfills the need for art without clutter as described in this Navajo blessing "May you walk in beauty".    How inspiring it was to walk amongst all the beauty we saw at the art fair and talk with the artist about their craft.

We ended the day with a lovely birthday dinner at Billy's Place restaurant where you can find good food, fantastic hospitality and music.  After dinner we gave up our table to other hungry patron and moved to the piano bar enjoying the live music of two talented piano players before we headed back home to the bus.

Remnants of a prohibition still on the trails
  For the next few days we caught up on work.  The campground does not have wireless available at their campsites.  But Craig's amazing wireless configuration on the bus was able to leverage the mediocre Verizon signal to provide us the bandwidth we needed to catch up on work.  Craig handled the service request that had piled up at his school during his 3 days of driving and moved some projects along with his team. I worked on the final projects for the two online graduate courses I teach.  Mid afternoon, we'd take a break each day and explore the nearby trails before it got dark, and  put in a few more hours after dark.

After our "catchup on work" session, we escaped into Savannah one more time,  this time for a river walk.  A cobbled stone pathway lead us to the riverside where we enjoyed the view of the bridges and ship along the river.  We wandered in and out of shops and had an absolutely lovely afternoon lunch at Vics on the River - a second floor restaurant with fantastic views and delicious entrees.   Craig was even inspired enough to purchase a Top Hat for a maker project he's been planning.

After six days, we packed up and drove the bus out of Savannah towards out next destination,  Cedar Key, Florida, totally inspired.

More Photos from November 2014 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On the Road Again - Year 2

On 11/11 at 11:00 a.m.  we hooked up the Saturn+car dolly to the bus, started her up and plugged in Savannah Georgia to the GPS which let us know we'd be there in 1111 miles.   Three days after leaving our campsite in Shelburne, Vermont,  we arrived at Skidaway Island State Park  just after dark (6:00 p.m. ) and boy was it dark.  So dark that it was impossible to tell where the campsites were, so we  are boondocking for the 3rd night in a row.

Our first night on the road we made it to New Jersey when we blew a tire on the dolly along the New Jersey Turnpike.  The good news was that the service area just a few miles down the road had an OPEN Tire Shop -- Talk about captive audience!  Wondering if that cement construction barricade that caught our tire was strategically placed?  Even though the service area was slated for 2 hour parking, there were plenty of truckers spending the night and the mechanic who hooked us up with not 1 (but 2) new dolly tires assured us that nobody checks and we'd be fine to stay the night.

The next night we made a planned overnight stop at a Walmart in North Carolina, and enjoyed a chance to stretch our legs as we restocked the fridge.  This morning I woke up and declared that I was moving my birthday forward one day so I could do something more exciting a little more exotic.  So for this year - my birthday will not be celebrated on November 13.

But I did do something I really liked on my birthday,  I created opportunities for teachers and students by connecting amazing people using
my very mobile office and the incredibly robust wireless network that my husband has hooked up to keep me connected  to the Internet while driving down the road.  I worked on connecting teachers and professionals interested in increasing the number of girls in tech to see if we could launch Vermont's first Girls Who Code Club;  I worked on connecting innovative educators through a project I started a few years ago (PROJECT IGNITE); I worked on connecting Google using educators through our newly launched  G+ Community of Vermont- GEG (Google Educator Group);  I connected with members of the  Maker Space of which I'm a a member of (The GENERATOR) using Google Groups; and connected with members of the ENable Google+ Community where I had a nice chat with a super smart high school senior girl  from New Brunswick who has just "3D printed an eNable hand that she plans on automating by using Servo motors and a programmed Arduino chip and a 5 button panel to individually control which finger is bent and to what degree it is bent"; and much more.   For those of you who read the signature line on my emails, you aren't surprised that this is how I like spending my days.  And for those of you who are wondering... this is the quote at the bottom of each of my emails.
Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.
- James M. Barrie
So on the first three days of our Year 2 journey, while Craig burned through about $393 worth of diesel during our 1111 miles, I burned through 4898 mb of data.  The good news is that we have purchased 70 gigs of data between (AT & T and Verizon's double your data October deal).   With Craig keeping his Verizon plan and my keeping my AT&T plan we hope to be able to connect to most places we travel. (Although I was not smiling when I first drove into  this dark forest to see no bars on my phones - which means no birthday calls --good thing I moved my birthday to tomorrow ;)

Tomorrow we'll walk around the camp ground and pick out a site to spend the next 6 days based on many factors (from cell signal to flat enough to keep our 35 Bluebird Wanderlodge level).  Craig will catch up on the service tickets that have backlogged while he's been busy driving and get his school in good shape for the upcoming end of the trimester learning showcases.  I'll post next week's modules in my two online classes and provide feedback on final projects.  And then my guess is we'll go find a nice place in Savannah for a belated birthday dinner.

Stay tune for this year's journey out of Vermont as Craig and Lucie continue to Live and Learn and Mobile as today's  technology provides us the opportunity to work from anywhere.  Hope its as safe and enjoyable a journey as last year.

November 2103 - May 2014 in our 1983 BlueBird Wanderlodge
May - 2014 - November 2014 we enjoyed Vermont from our Travel Trailer at Mallet's Bay Campground.