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DaedTech Digest: Taking a Vacation While Vagabonding

Thanks, everyone, for your patience these last few weeks.  I’ve been eking out some digest posts, but have taken a bit of a hiatus from dev- and consultant-centric content.  That’s because I’ve been on a vacation doing, among other things, some deep sea fishing.

So I figured I’d do a post about the idea of vacation as a vagabonder.

A lot of people think, given the places we go and the touristy things we do, that our life is a constant vacation.  But, in a way, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Specifically, I don’t think we’ve ever taken a vacation, per se, while vagabonding.

In a way, that would make no sense.  We’re paying a premium to stay in an AirBNB, so it would be ridiculous to fly somewhere for a week.  Anything we do, we do it locally.  And, because of that essential connection and lack of travel, there’s a tendency to limit tourist stuff to the weekends.

Anatomy of a Vagabonding Vacation

But, for the past week or so, I did take a vacation (ish).  This fun bit of life was prompted by my brother and sister in law coming for a visit.  When you’re staying somewhere as scenic as the lower Florida Keys, people give a little more weight to your invites to come stay.

I must admit, I did a little work on several of those days, but mostly I did not.  I unplugged and enjoyed local attractions, including Key West, a fishing charter, the Bahia Honda beach, and a lot of good food, drink, and local fishing.

In a weird way, I took a “staycation.”  I know, I know — that sounds crazy.  But, think about it.  When we go places for a month or more, they become home, albeit somewhat temporarily.

I set up my work environment, get a PO box, and do all sorts of other, decidedly non-vacation-y things.  The place really does come to feel like home, and my career a work-from-home scenario.  So having people out and taking time off is a delightful kind of staycation.

It was my first time doing it, but hopefully not my last.  It really kicked our exploration of local, off-the-beaten-path places into high gear, such as this key without a name.

Picks

  • Speaking of the mail (earlier in this post), I’ll throw a pick for our virtual mail provider, PostScanMail.  Your mail goes to them, they open it, scan it, and show it to you, and then you pick what you want them to do with it.  It’s a great, low-friction service.
  • In order to get around MLB blackout restrictions, I re-upped with NordVPN.  They’ve really made the whole “hide your location” thing pretty turnkey.  No more messing with the network adapter settings or setting up VPNs or whatever.
  • If you’re ever driving down through the keys toward Key West, keep your eyes out on Cudjoe Key for Moritas Cuban Cafe (it’s hard to see from the road).  The owners were great, the outdoor seating pleasant, and the food some of the best Cuban I’ve ever had.

The Digest

Once again, a pretty slow week, given that I was on vacation.  But nonetheless, here’s some new stuff I scrounged up.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: Good Times, New Habits

Kind of a light digest this week.  I’ve been on the move, and we’re taking sort of a vacation.  I mean, the work rolls on, but we’ve got folks visiting us, so I’m trying to do the vacation thing, in my spare time.

However I fare, this will result in a sparse digest post this week.

As I mentioned last week, we’re spending our time in the lower Florida Keys.  And we’re definitely enjoying it.  Life down here is slow-paced, consistently-temperatured, and pretty.

In fact, life down here is so nice that it’s inspired me to slightly re-structure my work life.  Instead of rolling out of bed and getting started immediately, as has been my habit, I’ve slowed things down.  Now, I get up, make a coffee, and read outside for half an hour or so, on the patio, before really getting going.

And I’m enjoying that immensely.  Not only is the quiet time nice, but I actually feel more productive once I start working.

So find a way to take some time off and to clear your head.  Maybe it’s for an hour, like I’ve mentioned, or maybe more.  Maybe even a full day fishing charter, as pictured below, with Amanda fishing for yellow tailed snapper.  But whatever it is, make it something.

Picks

  • I feel that it almost goes without saying… but, in case I haven’t mentioned it, Trello!  You can use it for anything from the humble to-do list to elaborate workflows.
  • Another longtime favorite of mine is the 538.  If you like an equal-opportunity, data-driven breakdown of sports and politics, without the BS, you’ll enjoy.

The Digest

  • Here’s a Facebook Live we did about how writing can improve your overall communication skills.
  • And here’s another Facebook Live about what getaway week is like in the life of a slow traveler.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend,

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The Digest: First Impressions of Florida’s Lower Keys

I realized something this week.  Specifically, while I field a lot of questions about slow travel as part of the digest, I don’t spend a lot of time specifically chronicling places of interest.

But that’s exactly the content I’d want to read if the roles were reversed.

So, I’m going to create the content I want to see in the world.  And, while I’d advise against this strategy for content marketing, it’s perfectly fine for a hobby blog.

And thus I give you my initial impressions of the lower Florida Keys.  On Monday, we left Atlanta Georgia and drove about 12 hours south to arrive in a little key called Ramrod Key (it’s okay, I snickered too the first time I heard it).  We’re now staying in a nice elevated house on a canal that empties into the sea.

We came here because neither Amanda nor myself have ever experienced small island living.  She’s never been to the Keys, and I’ve only previously spent about 3 hours here, in Key West, at a cruise ship port of call.

So far, so good!  Here’s my take, less than 72 hours in.

The People

I’m starting with this one because it was the first thing, chronologically, that I could speak to.  We drove in well after dark, so I couldn’t really see much.

But we did stop at a gas station, earning ourselves a slice of life.  I kinda expected local people to have a “Salt Life” vibe: divers, surfers, fishermen.  And, while that’s probably true in a lot of cases, the people at the gas station seemed more like… hobos.

We went in to pick up a few sundries, not knowing if our AirBNB would have anything stocked.  And, while there, we encountered a number of loiterers and other ‘shoppers.’  They were buying varying ratios of Red Bull, bad beer, and chewing tobacco, and some of them were yelling about whatever upsets drunk people that are missing teeth and hanging out at a gas station.

Beyond that, we haven’t encountered too many other folks directly, just yet.  We’re in a neighborhood with nice houses, on the water.  And here, we’ve been waving politely to neighbors, who seem like the sorts of people that would be in a neighborhood with nice houses, on the water.

And, the people at stores and whatnot have been nice enough, and undifferentiated from other places.  So, I guess, too early to get a definitive vibe.

The Food

Here, I have very little idea.  We got groceries the first day, and have been cooking at our place.

The only sense I have so far is that there’s a little “grocery” in walking distance, which is really just a place that has a few sundries and serves Cuban food for lunch.

We’re pretty close to Cuba, so I think that counts.  And the food smelled good, but I have yet to eat it.  Will report more later.

The Local, Physical Area

This, I can speak to with a bit more authority.  We came to this area because we wanted to experience Caribbean and island living.  And, we’re certainly getting both.

Granted, there’s a road that runs through the keys (route 1), so you can always drive off of the island.  But, still.  I can easily walk in any cardinal direction and quickly hit the sea.  In fact, I’ve already mostly circled the island’s perimeter in my daily jog.

As best I can tell, the island has 2 restaurants, a hotel, the Cuban food ‘grocery,’ and a landscaping business.  Beyond that, it’s just a handful of houses.

We can drive over to the next keys in either direction at any time (or walk along A1A if we wanted).  And there are bigger keys within 15 minutes driving that have proper grocery stores (Winn Dixie) and such.  But it’s a really interesting thing to be on an island with so few things.

Wildlife

The more we travel, the more I tend to notice wildlife, even including birds, which I’ve never historically cared about.  So, I’ll talk a little about that.

We’ve learned that the Keys is home to alligators, crocodiles, “Key deer,” sea turtles, and various other exotica.  We’ve seen none of those things so far, but I’m hoping to report later that we have sought them out and seen them.

But here’s what we have seen.  There are huge iguanas and little skinks that roam around here, everywhere.  You will probably trip over one if you come.  We’ve also seen pelicans, some kind of giant buzzard, grackles, and lots of fish in the harbor.

What we haven’t seen any of is palmetto bugs, which is great.  We saw them in both Austin and South Carolina, so it’s weird not to have seen any yet here (knock on wood).  We’ve also seen no scorpions.  Apparently, there are some here, but they’re not super common.

I think I’ll wrap my first impressions here, and leave off with a picture.  And, if you’re wondering anything about what life here is like, fire away in the comments with your questions!

Picks

  • Not sure if I’ve picked this before, but if you’re a lifestyle entrepreneur (or aspiring one), the TMBA podcast is pretty interesting.
  • Weird as this is, I’ll throw a pick to Twitter as a source of local, time sensitive info.  We had a power outage here our first day, and the only place I could find good info was through Twitter, with people talking about the cause of the outage and the estimated time to fix.
  • I’m also going to throw a pick to Prime Photos.  As we get more and more stuff in it, I really enjoy seeing what I was doing on all sorts of dates in years past.

The Digest

  • For the Hit Subscribe blog, I did a write-up on the specifics of content marketing for software companies (or software solopreneurs).
  • We recorded an episode of the Freelancers Show, about things not to do as a freelancer, even if it seems like everyone else is doing them.
  • And here’s a Facebook Live that Amanda and I recorded about why content marketing is important.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

 

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DaedTech Digest: The Closest I Get to Business Travel These Days

I didn’t do a digest post last week.  And I can’t offer any kind of logistical or overworked excuse.

Amanda and I just decided we wanted to go out for a date night, so we tried a local brewery, played some old school video games, and had dinner out.  By the time we came home, it was almost midnight, and I went to bed instead of writing a digest post.  C’est la vie.

Farewell, Charleston, and Thanks for All the Fish!

That being said, there have been logistics this past week.  Oh, yes, there have been logistics.

We packed up last Friday, loaded the car Saturday morning, and then headed out.  Well, first we went to the beach for a while, and then we headed out.

Our next stop?  Here in Atlanta, where I’m typing this week’s digest.

But we’re not in Atlanta for a month.  We said goodbye to Charleston, and our next slow travel destination is actually a place called Ramrod Key, near Key West.

We Do Short Stops Sometimes, and It’s Always Weird

No, Atlanta is just a stop over because I wanted to see the Cubs play while they’re here in Atlanta.  So we figured we’d stay for a week, instead of doing a protracted, mid-week relocation with a baseball game or two in the mix.

What’s it like when we do something like this?  A week or less during slow travel life?

Well, frankly, it’s weird.  It’s kind of like a business trip.

We arrived last Saturday night, unpacked, and took it easy.  On Sunday, we did the tourist thing, meandering around downtown Atlanta and sightseeing.  But, since then, I’ve spent all of my time in our AirBNB and running miscellaneous errands nearby, without really doing anything interesting.  (We are heading to the Cubs game shortly, though, and we will go a-touristing again this weekend before departing for the Keys).

And that very much reminds me of business travel over the years.  You go somewhere and snatch sightseeing while you can.  But mostly, you work, and hope you won’t be too tired for the odd trip to the local zoo or nightlife area.

So that’s condensed slow travel.  When you go somewhere and live for 1-4 months, you experience the place while working, living like a local.  But when you cram it down to 8 days, you experience it like a visiting regional manager.

And, on that note, please enjoy this view of Charleston from Ft. Sumter.  Seeing Charleston at a distance seems uniquely appropriate for a “Goodbye Charleston” post.

Picks

  • One of the things that a dinosaur (and content marketer) like me finds most annoying about Instagram is the lack of support for uploading from desktop.  Luckily, Gramblr exists as a free tool to help you trick Instagram.  Erik 1, Instagram 0.
  • Fellow Freelancers Show panelist Jonathan Stark is offering a 10 day challenge to get you in the habit of systemizing things in your life.  If that sounds interesting at all, I’d definitely sign up, becuase I employ this same technique, and it’s immensely helpful for making my own businesses more efficient.
  • If you’re a craft beer fan and find yourself in Atlanta, definitely give this place a try: the Torched Hop.  Not only do they have a ton of really delicious beer, but the food looks good (we just stopped for a quick flight and didn’t actually try it) and the ambiance is wonderful.

The Digest

As always, have yourselves a great weekend, folks.

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DaedTech Digest: Living Our Life at the Isle of Palms Beach

The Charleston metro area is great, as I briefly described a couple of weeks ago.  And, since then, we’ve seen even more of the city, treating ourselves to some additional excursions and adventures in the city proper.

But today, I’d like to talk about where we’re actually staying, and what life there is like.

We’re in a town called Isle of Palms.  Not surprisingly, it exists on an island — a barrier island, to be exact.  And Isle of Palms is maybe a 15 minute drive from Charleston proper, and 2 towns over.

If you live in or around a major city, you might map this to a bustling suburb, but that’s really not the case.  Charleston is actually quite a small city, and these beach outlying areas really do not feel like suburbs.  They feel like, well, beach destinations.

So it’s like we’re staying in the kind of house you might have gone to with your family as a kid for a beach week during spring or summer vacation.

Living at the Beach

As I mentioned last week, we’re setting aside some time where we’re not going full tourist and not working.  We want to relax.  And, where better than the beach?

So our life here has settled into a nice, sustainable cadence.  We’re working as we normally work, whether at home base or vagabonding, but we’re enjoying more success in not over-doing it.  This, combined with not booking our free time with wall-to-wall excursions, has given us some enormously enjoyable downtime.

And we’re making the most of it.  This has included:

  • (At the risk of living a cliche) a lot of long walks on the beach in pursuit of impressive streaks of 10,000 step days.
  • Taking chairs down to the beach and reading.
  • Having a beer or two at a few different breezy establishments along the coast, while we look out at the ocean.
  • (For me only) jogging along the coast every day.

Now, before you think that we’re living the life described in that Beach Boys song that lists every Caribbean destination in existence, understand that it’s actually not super warm here.  Daytime highs have ranged from the mid-50s to the mid-70s.  So a lot of these beach excursions involve shoes, jeans, and a hoodie.

Also, understand that it is apparently “sand gnat” season here.  These things put mosquitoes to shame.  If I’m not careful to put on bug spray for night beach visits, my forearms wind up covered in itchy welts.

So, it’s not tropical vaction.  But it is warm-ish, peaceful, beautiful, quiet, and surprisingly private, for a beach destination at spring break.  We’re packing up to head to Atlanta in about a week.  But our time here at the scenic Isle of Palms beach has been restorative.

Picks

  • Here’s a fun thing that happened to me: a mention from Tim Ferris regarding an article I wrote some time back.  It’s in reference to an article from his blog about learning to write code.
  • I’ve been poking around and learning about dev.to, which I’m starting to like.  It’s a nice contributor-driven content community, but without the horrible people that such a thing usually attracts if it gets big enough.  In other words, it appears that the community actually enforces human decency.
  • Finally, here’s a local spot if you’re ever in Isle of Palms, called the Windjammer.  I mentioned having a beer or two and watching the surf, and there’s no better place to do it.  They have tall chairs facing out of their back patio for exactly that purpose, and they even have a sand volleyball court on their ground floor.

The Digest

  • Hey, look — I wrote stuff this week!  Not only did I get back to publishing stuff on the DaedTech blog, but I wrote a post for our entry level programmer site, sharing my opinion on what it takes to be a good software engineer.
  • We also published another episode of the Freelancers Show this week, where Jonathan Stark and I discussed the idea of generating leverage with your business by creating systems and standard operation procedures.
  • And I uploaded a new Youtube video for Hit Subscribe.  If you want to learn to tell how hard it is to rank for a given search keyword, check it out!

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.