Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Trading on the Road

I've been wanting to recap our learning experience, because I know some of you have been curious to learn how our two-month experiment went last fall.

We learned that we could trade on the road, but it altered our travel patterns quite a bit.
  1. We had to learn to balance our trading time with our travel/exploration (or vice versa). We've been spoiled traveling on the road these last few years. When we traveled we didn't have to worry about balancing the fun with the work. What's the point of going somewhere if you can't explore the area? But we had to make time for work, and some days you can find yourself in front of the computer a lot longer than you anticipated. So, we tried to devise a schedule....
    Watch the market open. Go play for awhile. Be back at our computers
    by 1:00 or 2:00 and close the market. Enjoy the sunset. Then read or
    take online classes at night to study
    ....This worked relatively well. Some days we would stay in and work a full day. But, this is true wherever you are, balance is the key in life. So, even now that we're back in our condo, we struggle to step away from our computers to exercise or get lunch or just take a mental break from staring at a computer screen.
  2. Because of the time we needed for work, this meant that we could no longer see an area in two or three days. So when we stopped someplace we felt we needed almost a week in an area in order to see the same things we would've seen when we were just traveling care-free.
  3. True, WIFI is becoming more prevalent, but not all campgrounds offered it. Or, if they did, it did not always work, was not necessarily available at the site, was not reliable in regards to dropped signals, and so forth. Our friends Jim and Chris found it fascinating that we would actually call campgrounds in advance to verify that the WIFI was functional - NOT just that they had it. Directories and websites have told us who has it, but that doesn't tell us if it is currently operating. So, unfortunately we missed some geographical areas of Florida solely because WIFI was not available at any campground in that region. This frustrated my travel planner, Andy, to no end. Not only did he try to find nice, affordable campgrounds in places that we wanted to play in, but now he was restricted on WIFI availability.
  4. If WIFI wasn't available at the site sometimes it was available at the clubhouses, or the pool deck, or we would visit the local library. Generally, there were alternatives, but not necessarily as convenient.
  5. We've considered phone cards and Datastorm (satellite) as potential options for us. Phone cards we have ruled out, because we usually don't get phone service in the places we like to visit (remote/NPS) so it wouldn't help us when we would need it most. Datastorm is still a strong consideration, but its not cheap. If we were actually making money trading it would be a no-brainer, but we're still learning and haven't met our financial goals as of yet. Datastorm would work wherever we go, providing we have a signal with the satellite. Generally the big concern is not parking under trees.
  6. We've tested Datastorm with our trading programs and have found that it works, although satellite internet is slower than WIFI. But we know it works - that is a comfort. Thanks to our friends Jim and Chris for allowing us to share their Datastorm connection so we could test all of our real-time streaming quotes and WebEx training sessions. Chris has mentioned that there are times when they use WIFI when its available in order to get certain projects done because it is faster.
  7. Being on the computer so often for trading and learning left little desire to get back on the computer to organize my pictures, post to our blog, or for Andy to write campground reviews. We use RV Park Reviews frequently when selecting places to go and feel it is our duty to contribute to this site in return. Andy is still holding a stack of campground brochures to write reviews on. This goes back to having proper balance in our lives. Although these are "fun" things we've enjoyed doing, it starts to feel like work if you haven't moved away from the computer often enough.
  8. Making money. Trading would be alot more fun if we were making money. We've invested a full-time work schedule into this new endeavor and we wish we had a salary to show for it. But that is what happens when you're self-employed, right? You don't take a salary unless there's money coming in. We have had some winners, but we've had our fair share of losing trades. We do our best to learn from every trade. We do enjoy the challenge trading offers, but we are learning that we think differently, see things differently, and that there is a lot of psychology involved with humans & money - perhaps that could be an entirely separate blog entry? But if we can't become profitable this year, we also understand that it will be time for us to look for another business. We had hoped that trading would provide enough income for us to continue traveling and do some volunteer activities for our National Parks or State Parks or another environmental cause.

We'll continue to orchestrate our future and work on devising a trading strategy that will blend with our lifestyle and internet accessibilty. But when it comes to arriving in Yosemite, we believe we'll fold up all of our trades and take a vacation. It's the safest bet. We don't want to be thinking about what is happening to stock ABC while we are hiking to the top of Half Dome.

Yosemite or Bust!

A visitor to Yosemite approaches a park ranger and asks,

"I'm only visiting the park for one day. How should I spend my time?"
and the ranger answers,
"If I only had one day in Yosemite, I would sit right down and have myself a good cry."
We're planning a trip to Yosemite and thankfully we are planning for more than a one-day visit. We've made reservations at four different campgrounds in and around Yosemite. We were warned that getting through to the National Park Reservations line would be a challenge. It was like we were trying to get concert tickets - we were on the internet, we were hitting redial on our phone and we were getting busy signals and 'page' errors for almost an hour before finally reaching an operator.

We tried to be prepared. For a week or so prior to the June reservations opening, we picked up some books and started reading about the park, camping limitations, looked up diagrams of the campgrounds, etc, so that we would know which campgrounds we wanted and which campsites we thought would be most desirable. Our choices were limited because we were trying to go in early June to avoid the crowds but not all of the campgrounds take reservations that early because they can't guarantee they'll be free of snow, and not all campsites can fit a 30' RV. And Yosemite is now restricting campers to 14 days in the park between May-Sept, and no more than 7 days in either the Valley or Wawona.

But, Tioga Pass and Glacier Point Roads may not even be open yet (because of snow) and we didn't really want to miss out on the attractions and hikes in those sections so we shifted our dates slightly. The day we called was the first day reservations were made available for the May 15th - June 15th time period. We're booked in both USFS campsites and NPS campsites so far, and will have to leave some of our trip open to fate (for the first-come, first-serve sites) since we can't confirm when Tioga Pass will open for us to cross over the Sierra Nevada range to the Eastern Sierra area to explore. We've left ourselves with a week to possibly camp within the NPS at Tuolumne Meadows which is high up on Tioga Pass.

The good news: we got our preferred campsites! Andy checked online at the end of the day to check on availability, and.....no sites were left that our RV could fit into. Wow! Good thing we took the time and effort first thing or we might've missed out. Normally we don't make reservations when we travel, unless it's a holiday or something. But since Yosemite sees 3-4 million visitors - mostly in June-Sept - we realized it was imperative to make reservations if we wanted to stay within the park.

Our plan is to leave Florida in March and start heading that way. We plan on visiting Death Valley, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Devils Postpile. All of which are right there in that area. Perhaps afterward we can wander up to Lake Tahoe. These will all be new stops for us. Does anyone have any recommendations for us? Any place that you consider a "must-do"? Let us know. We haven't formulated a route yet.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

We had a wonderful trip home to Philly for Christmas. And my mother is recovering well from her surgery, so 2006 ended well.

We celebrated New Year's Eve with both old and new friends. We committed to our future health with a "5k Resolution Run" during the day, and that night we watched "our" ball drop at an outdoor block party in Himmarshee.

Here's to 2007 being a healthy, happy, prosperous, and travel-filled year for each of us!