Big Creek Marina & Campground

Campground: Big Creek Marina & Campground
Location: Lake Somerville (North side), Somerville, TX
Site: 86
Number of Nights: 2

This campground has only been re-opened for about 2 weeks following being closed for a couple of YEARS due to multiple floods. Some areas of the park are still closed and in need of repair, but it's on the mend. The "marina" is sitting on the boat ramp, but the ramp is open to boat traffic. This was the maiden voyage of my new camper! 

I camped alongside my friends Jimmy Joe & Donna and Nicole & Adam and their precious Addie. Jimmy came out to the house earlier in the afternoon to make sure I had the camper all hooked up correctly and everything was latched down properly. I towed it to the campground and took my time backing in since there was no one around and I think I did a pretty darn good job. I brought my trusty camping companion, Dixie, and she loves being in the camper.




We had the whole campground to ourselves as not many people know they are open again. We had reserved our spots, but were able to move around to get us more in a triangle than a straight line. They were able to bring out the Mule and we got to ride around all of Big Creek (except for parts that were still closed). We saw several deer and various birds including a Bald Eagle.

Nicole made breakfast Saturday morning and I made my first pot of coffee. Well sort of. It helps if you put the coffee in the filter. I had a nice pot of hot water. 🤦🏻‍♀️ But I fixed that and did have a good pot of coffee for my first morning out.

My brother came out to visit on Saturday and between him, his roommate and I, we got the backup camera connected and synced to the little monitor. It's not the greatest picture, but it gets the job done. I can see if there's something behind me and how far back I need to go.

Nick came out for the day on Saturday and brought his girls so they could play with Addie. They had great cousin-time. It was still pretty warm (yes, this IS Texas) and we were able to swim for a bit while the guys fished on the shore.

Saturday night was steak night. Everybody brought their own and man, did we get our beef on! M-M-M! 🥩 Yes, Jimmy, you are a championship steak griller. We brought out my cornhole boards and it was guys against gals. Donna and I held our own and the game lasted for a good long while.

A nice breeze came in late Saturday night and it was nice sitting out for a while without the mosquitoes bothering us too bad. Too bad it didn't show up Friday night instead.

I got up and went to church Sunday morning so I could run the PowerPoint and then I headed straight back out to Big Creek. A little more swimming, fishing and riding around with the littles and then we started packing up our respective campers. I have a few "Note to Self" items to add for my next trip.

Robert came back from Bandera and helped me hook up everything up and make sure my take-down checklist was all accomplished and then showed me how to do everything at the dump station. Not exactly the highlight of the trip, but it's so nice to have a bathroom in the camper and not have to traipse out in the middle of the night when your bladder decides it's time for a walk. Thank the Good Lord for the good friends I have! 😊 This would not be near as fun without them!

It was a great weekend with good friends. The camper worked out well and towed nicely. That weight distributing hitch grinds loudly, but that's it's purpose. I just have to get used to it.

Activities:

  • 🏕 Camping, duh!
  • 🥩 Steak night & good breakfast
  • Cornhole - Donna & I held our own
  • 👙 Swimming
  • 🎣 Fishing
  • Relaxing
  • Riding around on the Mule
  • 🕶 Wildlife viewing:
    • Deer
    • Osprey
    • Herons
    • Eagle



I've Got a New Baby

I have been searching for a good camper for over a year now. I can find ones that have features I want that were just out of my budget or if I could afford them, they seemed to be missing something I really wanted. Patience paid off and I found what I was looking for at Crestview RV in Buda, TX. I am now the proud owner of a 2017 Starcraft Launch Ultra Lite 21FBS!

I had worked with Justin Boyd (and Travis) off and on over the last several months and this unit popped up on their website recently and I jumped on it. A little haggling over financing and I took a trip last Sunday to take a look at it in person with my Mom, Daddy and brother in tow. I LIKED IT!  They still needed to look over everything and test all the systems before I could sign for it. Thanks for all your patience, Justin!

Everything worked out and I planned to drive down on Friday and do a walk-through and stay the night in their campground so I could thoroughly check everything out. I'm so excited!

While I was in with Finance and signing my life away (I may have signed over my first-born too), they took my truck and installed the trailer brake. I got a weight-distributing hitch and they installed it as well. The technician walked me through every system and feature on the rig and how to hitch it up.

My good friend, Robert, came with me to serve as my SME since he's got a camper of his own. He gave me as many tips as the tech did and pointed out lots of things for me to pay attention to. After dealing with the camper, we went to eat and then headed over to Willie's Joint to celebrate. The breeze was wonderful and help cut through some of the humidity. It was Karaoke Night and some of the singers were really good. Some just thought they were. 😉  We had breakfast at Chavelo's Mexican Restaurant, which was recommended by my salesman. Good suggestion!

We got back to the camper and Robert had ME go through all the steps of shutting up the camper and hitching it up for the ride home. Thankfully, he drove most of the way back since I was a little nervous about it. I haven't towed anything of this size in a long while. It tows nicely with my Chevy Colorado and is well within the specs of the towing capacity of my truck with only a GVWR of 4900 lbs. I think the brake is set just right and isn't jerky. I drove it once we got into Burleson County so I could get a feel of it in familiar territory. Got home and parked it and went through all the un-hitching steps.

I loaded some more items in the camper today and introduced Dixie to it. I think she likes it and is ready to go on new adventures in it. She'll be a good travel companion. Now I've started making lists of things for the camper.

NEED:
Mirror extensions for the truck
Wheel chocks
Leveling blocks.....

WANT:
Water filter for hose
Hooks/rack for bathroom
Memory foam mattress topper....

💡 So...for those of you that are seasoned RV campers, please leave your tips, tricks and suggested items to have (or not to have) in the comments below.

Adventure awaits!

MCT Renewed!

I'm excited to announce that I have renewed my Microsoft Certified Trainer certification for the 2019-2020 year. My specialty is the Microsoft Office Products.

I enjoy creating and presenting training sessions on the various Office products. I also like helping people with specific questions or needs on a one-on-one basis. It's my favorite part of  my job here at the City of Bryan and I plan to pursue this after I retire as well.

👀 See my certifications here

Rocketbook

I recently got a new Rocketbook Everlast notebook and I'm testing it out in various configurations. What is a Rocketbook? Well, it's a reusable notebook. Write, Rinse, Repeat...
I can only describe the pages as feeling like thick magazine paper. It's like regular paper, but slick. Each of the 36 pages in the Executive size notebook that I have has a very light dot-grid pattern inside a black page border, a QR code in the bottom corner and very light symbols at the bottom.  The symbols can be assigned by you to send to email(s) of your choice; specific locations in OneDrive, Google Drive, DropBox; specific sections in OneNote and a few other choices.

The pages are designed to work with Frixion branded pens and highlighters. These erasable pens feature an eraser on the end (but do NOT use the eraser on the Rocketbook pages). Write or draw on the pages. Mark the symbols as desired. Take a picture with the app, hit Next, then Send. That's it. When you're done, use a lightly damp cloth (or lightly spray with water in a spray bottle) to wipe the ink off. Dry completely and it's ready for it's next use.

📚 If you're a student or someone who takes frequent notes, you don't have to carry separate notebooks anymore. Take your notes for a session, scan, wipe clean and move to the next class. It's a lot lighter to carry around and the notebooks come in 3 sizes from a memo pad to a letter size. Try setting up the symbol destinations to go to separate sections in your OneNote notebooks or file storage areas for each class.

📓 Do you keep a bullet journal? Do you have lots of notebooks taking up shelf space? Write our your journal pages for the day, week or month and scan them to a digital format. Wipe clean and start over. Make a mistake, just wipe it and it's gone. Try doing that on regular paper.



My bad on the images above. Use double # marks to automatically create a title for the file, message, page, etc.  IE. ##Page Title##

In the image above, you can see comparisons of two different color modes in the Rocketbook app. The smaller images were just pictures taken directly in OneNote using the Document and Whiteboard settings on Office Lens. If it's not in a brightly lit area, Office Lens images tends to turn out yellowed-out for me a lot of times. Rocketbook scans will not show the marks or QR code at the bottom.

🖊 As many of you know, I'm a OneNote fanatic. Why not just use a stylus to write directly in OneNote? Well, sometimes, I like the feel of pen and paper. I know, crazy, right? Taking notes in the Rocketbook doesn't require an active wifi connection or a fully-charged mobile device. I can see it well if I'm sitting outside in direct sunlight. I can write on it on a plane. I can write on a train... I should probably not write in the rain.

If I'm doing a lot of writing on a tablet or other mobile device, sometimes the inking doesn't work well if my hand is touching the screen at the same time. By marking the symbols on the Rocketbook page, I can send a single scan to multiple locations at once. No need to copy and paste.

Here's some tips for you:

The Rocketbooks usually come with a cloth and a Frixion pen to get you started. You can lightly dampen one part of the cloth and use the other part to dry or keep two cloths - one damp in a plastic baggie, one dry - to clean the pages.

Are you left-handed? Just flip it over and start from the back.

If you want to dedicate a Rocketbook page to a specific template (like a calendar grid), you can draw it out with a Sharpie and let it dry completely before using the Frixion pens to write in the temporary ink.

Frixion ink may disappear at temperatures over 140°F. If it's August in Texas, don't leave the notebook in your truck (or car)! Good news if you forget though. Put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes and it'll reappear. Kind of like secret messages, huh?

Do not microwave the Everlast notebook.

Want to get your own Rocketbook?

Click here to get started. 

There are other notebooks and accessories available as well. The Wave notebook lets you microwave the whole notebook to wipe all the pages at once. The Fusion has pre-designed templates built right in. The Color notebook lets you use dry erase markers. There's even some Beacons, 4 corners that you can place on a whiteboard to turn it into a Rocketbook page.

Write on yours and tell me what you think or if you have tips to share. Send me the scan.

IAAP Summit 2019

I recently returned from the annual IAAP Summit in National Harbor, MD. There were more learning opportunities than you could possibly attend and lots of re-certification points to be had. Such a wealth of knowledge and my head is still spinning.



Before the conference, I had a chance to explore around the area just south of our nation's capital and I got to ride the Capital Wheel. It is about 180' tall and you have a great view of the Potomac River and surrounding areas. Thank goodness the pods were air-conditioned! The humidity there was as bad, if not worse, than it is here at home in Texas.

I had fun hanging out with a couple of co-workers outside the office, and of course, my Austin peeps.

I stayed at an Airbnb up the street from the Gaylord. And by "up" the street, I mean up the hill (follow the sidewalk up past the building with the black roof on the horizon). Walking to the conference was no problem in the morning, but after the day had heated up and I'd been in classes all day...Whew!





If you know me, you know I gravitate to the techy topics, but I did get a good mix of tech skills and soft skills at this year's summit. Kudos to the team putting this rather large event together this year. There should have been a little something for everyone - first timers and those of us who have been to multiple summits and keep coming back, admins looking for tech learning, leaders in training and other absorbent sponges in the administrative professional world. If the sessions weren't enough, there was also Cocktails & Connections, a nice networking lunch and a fabulous closing celebration  - complete with dancing into the night.


#ADMINSROCK

Sessions I attended:

Leadership 2.0 by Rhonda Scharf, CSP, HoF. Admins DO rock! I've got lots of little nuggets to add to my bank account of knowledge. It was an informative and interactive session to get things started.

Outlook in Detail - Beyond the Mail with Vonetta Watson, MA Ed., MCT. I love this lady so much! She's got the skills and the spunk to make learning fun. Being from Texas is another plus. She's one of my role models and is a great source of encouragement to me as a fellow MCT who's just getting out there. 


The Keynote speaker on Friday was Laura Schwartz, who coordinated many high-level events in and around the White House for more than one administration. She was so good at what she did that the Presidents called HER "Sarge" and her walk-through the traits of our historic First Ladies was very interesting. She taught us to Lead First. It's SHOWTIME!



IR4.0 (the Fourth Industrial Revolution): Are you ready? by Shelagh Donnelly. Blockchains and bitcoins, AI and VR. Lots of eye-opening info.

ED Talks on Saturday morning:

  • Melissa Esquibel, MCT - Bring it Back with Impact! I will be bringing back lots of good info from this Summit to share. I wish I could have attended her Excel deep-dive class on Sunday, but I was supposed to be at the airport by the time she was done. She's a powerhouse of knowledge and another one of my top role models. I got my TA specialty because of her (and Neil Malek) at CAPStone in March.
  • Katie Mercier - Meeting Management. Meetings are necessary evil.
  • Vonetta Watson, MCT - Shift Happens. Oh, yes it does! You gotta be ready for it. The best thing you can with technology is learn it. Don't be afraid of it - and a lot of y'all know I'm not. I'm always willing to try on new tech.
  • Lucy Brazier, Founder of Executive Secretary Magazine and Executive Secretary LIVE conferences - EA vs Chief of Staff - What's the Difference? Bridge the gap between the CEO and yourself. Ask the difficult questions and coach the CEO. The Chief of Staff is the stunt double for the CEO.
  • Kemetia Foley, CAP, OM - The Questions You Absolutely Need to Ask When Working with Recruiters. Some things should be common sense, but she brought up a few ideas that didn't cross my mind.


Cybersecurity for Admin Professionals: How You Can Reduce Your Digital Vulnerabilities by Shelah Donnelly. Being one of Cyber Warriors at the City of Bryan, this topic was near and dear to my heart. I'm glad no one in the room had their tablets hacked!

Get a Life! You Can't Always Get What You Want, You Get What You Need by Kemetia Foley, CAP, OM. Take time to step back, evaluate and catch a breath. 

Information Lifecycle Management: Secret Sauce for Disposing of Non-Records by Susan Cisco, Ph.D., CRM, FAI. Working on groups on real-world situations was a good collaborative effort and made us think outside our own little boxes.

Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork  - Vonetta Watson, MA Ed., MCT. She gave us a good walk-through of Microsoft Teams and I look forward to trying this out (as soon as I get some team together for something) 😉 Yes, I took all my notes in OneNote. 

Our closing session on Sunday was Resilience Reset by Anne Grady, fellow Texan. Wow! Much respect to her and all she's gone through. It really is all about mindset. Find something to be grateful for or look elsewhere. We all need that dopamine squirt.



Setting Limits & Managing Expectations in the Workplace by Chrissy Scivicque, Career Coach & Corporate Trainer. Yes, I know how to pronounce her name! Communication isn't just words. Can you conjure up an image of Ursula in The Little Mermaid? "It's all about body language". But you do need to know when to say enough is enough.

No-Panic Presentation Skills for Administrative Professionals: How to Speak Confidently and Compellingly Anywhere, Anytime by Mandi Stanley, CSP. The Mind Mapping deep-dive session was full, but I got a little taste of it in this class. I will be looking into this some more for sure.

Getting home was a bit of a hassle with cancelled flights and multiple delays. Had I known ahead of time that the flight on Sunday would be canceled, I could have stayed for another session. But I did made it back to Texas, got my Whataburger, and eventually made it back to the comforts of home including my own bed where I wanted to stay for a few days.

Next year is in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Can't wait!


More pix from the trip can be seen here.

Big Creek Marina & Campground

Campground: Big Creek Marina & Campground Location: Lake Somerville (North side), Somerville, TX Site: 86 Number of Nights: 2 T...