On the Road -- A Diary of a Commodore Grand Tour

From: rbernardo (rbernardo_at_value.net)
Date: 2000-11-10 04:15:20

On the Road -- A Diary of a Commodore Grand Tour

by Robert Bernardo

I'd like to thank all of the good Commodore/Amiga people I met in my
nearly 2,000 mile Commodore "grand tour" of the Pacific Northwest this
summer.  Special thanks go to Ron Hackley and his late wife, Ruth.  Ruth
is in my thoughts as I write this article.

The officers and members of each of the clubs below were gracious,
generous, helpful -- going out of their way to accomodate me.  We talked,
we laughed, we had a good time.  Though their interests were diverse, we
had one thing in common -- this bond, this computer, this Commodore.
These people made me feel proud to be a Commodorian.


Day 1 (July 13, Thursday) -- Leave my parents' home in Stockton for the
multi-hour journey to Roseburg, Oregon.  Stop in Redding, California,
to fill up on gasoline and visit an old friend.  Stay too long -- 3
hours instead of 2.  Now rushing to meet Ron and Ruth Hackley (Fun
Graphics Machine) who had invited me to stay over.  Finally around 9 p.m.,
arrive at the Hackley house.  Ron and Ruth are waiting with take-out
Mexican food.  Lots of apologies -- miscalculated my driving time.  Talk
about Commodore (Ron jokes that many people mistake him for Loadstar's
Fender Tucker), family, health, and various subjects ranging the broad
spectrum of philosophy, sociology, and politics.  Finally go to sleep at
2 a.m..

Day 2 -- Wake up and have breakfast with the Hackleys.  Afterwards, Ruth
lets me check my e-mail and shows me various things on her PC, including
Commodore emulators, C= screensavers/wallpaper, and Gaelyne Gasson's
CD-ROMs.  Ron on his PC shows me several websites.  They show me
information on the Commodore Users Association in Medford, Oregon.  Lunch
consists of sandwiches.  I work on curing a water pump leak in my car.
Talk more philosophy, sociology, and politics with Ron.  Go for a walk
along the Umpqua River.  Have dinner.  Talk about the radio interview the
Lane County Commodore User Group had done with National Public Radio.  Try
to download my radio interview from the KDVS-FM website so that they
could hear it.  Ron and I talk about fixing a laptop, electronics, and the
comedian, Benny Hill.  I prep Fresno Commodore User Group disks for
tomorrow's LCCUG meeting.  Listen to Ron's CDs of Knees Calhoon music from
Loadstar.  Go to sleep at 2 a.m..

Day 3 -- Wake up and have breakfast with the Hackleys.  Check my e-mail
one more time.  Leave Roseburg late.  Follow the Hackley's truck but have
to tank up with gas along the way.  Arrive at the LCCUG meeting in Eugene
around 11 a.m..  Listen to the demonstration of scanning with a PC (!).
Speak with Karl Stone, treasurer.  Speak with Brian Strayer, president,
about newsletters, articles, AmiWest 2000 (the West Coast Amiga show, July
29-30).  Depart at 1 p.m., thanking the Hackleys many times and waving
good-bye furiously.  Leave for the fairly brief drive up to Portland.  Get
a room at the Motel 6 in South Portland (Tigard).  Leave for the Trail
Band concert in Beaverton.  Arrive early.  Great weather, great music,
great concert.  Eat dinner at Skippers Fish Restaurant near my motel.
Go to sleep at midnight.

Day 4 -- Wake early for the long drive to Seattle, Washington.  Along the
way, stop in Ethel, Washington, to meet Raymond Carlsen, comp.sys.cbm
hardware tech.  Talk about LCCUG and UWCUG (University of Washington
Commodore User Group).  Leave him a FCUG newsletter and
disk-of-the-quarter.  Leave him a 1581 drive to repair.  He asks me to
stop by on my way back to California (the 1581 might be repaired by then).
After this brief stop, I take off for Seattle.  Fight through the Sunday
freeway traffic and get to the Motel 6 in Tacoma (Fife).  Then on the
UWCUG meeting in which I am to appear.  Find Joe St. Aubin's apartment
exactly where MapQuest.com told me to go.  No answer to my buzzing the
apartment.  Walk down the block to a branch of the Seattle Coffee Company.
Have chocolate cake and water.  An hour later, I ring the apartment again.
A head appears through the door, but he doesn't look like Joe.  The head
disappears, and I buzz the doorbell again.

Again the head appears, "Are you Robert?"

"Yes, I am."

"Joe is waiting for you."

I enter.  Joe greets me, apologizing profusely, because earlier he had
been listening to loud music and had not heard the buzzer.  The head
belongs to another member, Mike.  I hand them some FCUG disks and

A few minutes later, Elwood "Tiger" Avery appears.  He starts setting up
the C= equipment.  More members gather.  Meeting begins.  Total of 11 are
there.  I speak to the assembled crowd.  Show my videotapes of the 1999
DejaVu II demo party in England and of the 1999 Vintage Computer Festival
3.0 in Santa Clara, California.  Applause.  Tiger demonstrates how to
display JPEG's on-line with a C128 in 80-column mode and Craig Bruce's
ACE and ACETerm programs (hint: the ISP and an on-line script are the
horsepower to drive the JPEG viewer).  Pics flicker a lot in this
interlaced mode.  Then Tiger tries to run Maurice Randall's The Wave beta
2.0.  Wheels boots o.k., but The Wave freezes with a message that says the
user must use Wheels v4.2.  Tiger tries to run The Wave beta 1.6, which he
says ran earlier for him.  Again The Wave freezes with the same message.
(Days later, in a phone call with Maurice, he advises me that there must
be no ramdisk or a minimal ramdisk in Wheels for The Wave to work
correctly.  Otherwise, the message pops up, even with Wheels 4.2.)  Roger
Long, keeper of the Commodore Products Source List, gives me a
laser-printed copy.  I tell him of some club updates.

The meeting winds down by about 6 p.m., and we have to hurry to an
after-meeting dinner, because Tiger has to be elsewhere by 7.  Dinner at a
Mexican restaurant.  Talk about Commodore, clubs, and newsletters
continues.  Finally by 7, we leave, each going their own ways but not
before I get my materials I had left in Joe's apartment.  Leave for the
Motel 6.  Asleep at midnight.

Day 5 -- Depart by 10 for Edmonds, Washington.  Looking for Rick Steves'
Travel Agency (home base of Rick Steves who has the Travels in Europe t.v.
series on public broadcasting stations) and for a comic bookstore which
carries certain sci-fi videos.  Fight through the Seattle freeway traffic
and find little Edmonds perched by the water.  Park and walk to Rick
Steves' facility.  Buy videotapes of France, Spain, and Italy.  Find the
comic bookstore and buy the rarely-seen Japanese sci-fi flicks, Atragon
and Battle in Outer Space.  Eat at a Japanese restaurant almost next-door
to the store.  Go to the Edmonds public library to check my e-mail.
Hundreds of messages!  Respond to pressing Commodore business, including
a message to Ray Carlsen saying that I won't be able to pass his way when
going back to California.  See a message from Gary Peake, managing
director of Amiga, Inc..  He answers that I'm more than welcome to visit
their company in Snoqualamie, Washington (east of Seattle).  Have to give
my regrets, because my travel itinerary has already been planned.  Tour
the boat docks in the harbor.  Finally, leave for Motel 6.  Arrive back by
8; asleep by 11.

Day 6 -- Awake at 5.  Leave motel by 6.  Gas up the car and depart for
Bremerton/Silverdale, Washington.  Pass by the U.S. naval bases.  Reach
Silverdale and turn at the first exit.  Get to a Target shopping center
parking lot and find a phone booth.  Call Beatrice Goods of the Commodore
Users of Puget Sound.  It's 8, and Beatrice is just getting out of bed.
She will meet and escort me to her house.  Awhile later, Beatrice drives
up, and I follow her.  She introduces me to her husband, Jim.  Gives me
breakfast.  Talks about her small, informal club.  Used to have a
newsletter.  Wrote under the moniker of Grandma Bea.  I give her a FCUG
newsletter and disk.  Describe our group.  Verify CUPS information on
Roger Long's list.  Finally, I leave, because Bea has to be at work in the
public library by 10.

Keep heading to Port Angeles.  Eventual destination -- Victoria, British
Columbia, Canada.  Arrive in overcast Port Angeles one hour before the
noon ferry departure.  Leave car in parking lot.  As a foot passenger, I
pay $7 one-way.  The M.V. Coho arrives.  On board, I get a sub sandwich
and iced tea.  After eating, fall asleep.  About an hour later, the ship
arrives in Victoria.  Go through customs and am finally out in Canada.
Familiar yet different.  Combination of United States, British, French,
Indian, German, Irish, Scottish, and uniquely Canadian cultural aspects.
Must find lodging.  Walk a mile up the hill, dragging wheeled suitcase.
Reach the Traveler's Inn, advertised to have the best prices in the city.
Clerks tell me that here is no room at this site.  Must visit another
Traveler's Inn farther up the hill.  A few blocks later, make it to the
next inn.  Book for 2 nights lodging.  Walk to the nearest bank machine
for Canadian cash.  Then back down to the Victoria waterfront to check out
the shops along Government Street, take a boat tour of the harbor, and eat
at the seafood buffet in Kipling's Restaurant in the famous Empress Hotel.
In a hotel store, found Bounty chocolate bars (only found in England and
Canada) and bought $20 worth.  Back to the inn by 9 and finally make phone
contact with Russell Redman, Commodore user extrordinaire.  Arrange it so
that he meets me at 6:30 the next day at the inn.  Asleep by midnight.

Day 7 -- Awake at 9.  Walk down Douglas Street to the bank machine and
withdraw more money.  Go to the Nootka souvenir store and buy gifts for
friends and family.  Then walk to the double-decker buses in front of the
Empress Hotel.  Pay for the city tour (but not including the Buschart
Gardens, because there is no time).  Bus takes us through the various
city neighborhoods, passing such homes as those owned by actor Tom Selleck
and by singer Sarah McLachlin.  During the mid-way point in the tour, bus
stops at a waterway overlook and small boat harbor.  At harbor cafe, eat a
sausage in a fried roll (what do the English call it?).  Upon my return to
the Empress Hotel, go up Government Street one last time to window-shop.
Wait at the inn for Russell.  A bit after 6:30, receive call from the
front desk that a gentleman is waiting.  Walk down to meet Russell, who
introduces me to his wife, Nora.  In his car, he drives me quite a way to
his modest house which has a spectacular view of the ocean.  Shows me his
high-powered C64 system which consists of RAMLink and CMD hard drive.
Shows how he created/modified a program to autoboot the RL with a menu.
Tells about how there used to be three C= user groups in Victoria.  Was a
member of the San Juan de Fuca Commodore Club.  Now only he and a C=
technician are left.  I give him a FCUG newsletter and disk.  Show him the
various C= magazines I had.  Russell and Nora treat me to hot tea and
cake.  After a few hours, he drives me back to the inn.  I'm asleep by

Day 8 -- Wake at 4 a.m..  Leave inn at 5 in order to get the 6:15 ferry
back to Port Angeles.  Arrive in plenty of time.  6:05, board the Coho,
have a submarine sandwich and iced tea.  Fall asleep.  Arrive at Port
Angeles.  Go through American customs.  Get in the car and drive down and
across the peninsula.  Destination -- Astoria, Oregon.  Wish there were a
more direct route -- too many curves and motorhomes slowing me down.
Arrive in Astoria between 1 and 2.  Call up David "Lord Ronin" Mohr,
chancellor of the Amiga-Commodore Users Group 0447.  Tell him that I'm
going to find a motel and have lunch first.  Tells me that he is going
to have lunch, too, and gives me directions to his store.  After finding
a motel and eating lunch, I circle the one-way streets of little downtown
Astoria until I find parking at the library.  Walk to his store.  Find
David behind his flat C128 and vice-president Mark "Lord Alberonn" Reed
behind his Amiga 4000.  David instills into me his devotion to the
Commodore.  Mark asks about the upcoming AmiWest Show in Sacramento.  Both
commenting and asking questions at the same time.  Have to answer both of
them at the same time.  Help copy their club disks with my MSD SD-2 dual
drive.  After a couple hours, leave to eat dinner at a local Chinese
restaurant.  Return for the 7 p.m. official meeting.  Six in attendance.
David goes through the points of C= business efficiently, Mark taking his
turn to relate Amiga points of of business.  Their disks are distributed.
My FCUG newsletters and disks are distributed.  Meeting over by 9.  Some
more talk of sci-fi and conventions.  Finally depart store by 9:30, both
lords inviting me back another time.  Return to motel.  Fall asleep by

Day 9 -- Wake up and depart by 10.  Follow Highway 101 south and then turn
toward Portland.  Circle around Portland to avoid the traffic and pop out
near Salem.  Continue south on Interstate 5.  Today's destination --
Medford, Oregon.  Arrive in Medford at 4 p.m. and check into Motel 6.
Call Vanessa Swing, president of the Commodore Users Association.  She
says that she will meet me at the local Skippers Fish Restaurant, along
with as many members she can bring.  A bit after 6, meet with Vanessa and
her mom; E.J. Clutter, CUA treasurer; and John Locke, CUA librarian.  I
distribute the FCUG newsletter and disk, and ask about their club.  John
Locke is a programmer, too.  They have a C= tech in town.  Vanessa invites
me to come back for a regular CUA meeting.  After dinner, I go to John's
house in order to see his library of C= books and orderly collection of C=
programs.  John shows me the video when their club was featured on the
local t.v. news.  We graphically cruise some websites (including FCUG's)
with his Mac (!).  Leave just before 11.  Asleep by 1.

Day 10 (July 22, Saturday) -- The return to California.  Leave by 10 or
so and arrive in Red Bluff, California by 2.  Try to call John Elko of
the Classic 64 Preservation Society but can't get through.  Contact
Ernie Froelich, another member, who tells me to go to the local True Value
hardware store and find C64PS president, Richard Maret, working there.
Find Richard, who days earlier had received my phone message on his
answering machine in which I said I was coming today.  Shake hands and
talk of our clubs during the interludes when Richard isn't helping
customers.  He is a programmer from the "old school", i.e., he programmed
1960's computers.  He understands when I talk about hardware at the
Vintage Computer Festival.  Ernie enters store, and Ernie and I go the
next-door charity store.  He finds a 1701 monitor and an old laser
printer.  (We are just looking for a blank 5 1/2" disk in order to copy a
FCUG disk-of-the-quarter.)  Ernie pays a few dollars for everything.  I
help him load the stuff into his van.  Back to True Value to talk to
Richard.  Make a copy of FCUG disk right there in the store with my MSD
SD-2 dual drive.  Unfortunately, Richard has to work until 5 or 5:30.  He
invites me back.  And so, after a couple of hours there, I leave for
Stockton, satisfied I had contacted many user groups and users during the
last 10 days.

P.S.  At the Sacramento AmiWest Show of July 29-30, I meet Rick Rudge,
president of the Milwaukie Computer User Group of Portland, Oregon.  He
gives profuse apologies that he could not meet with me during my journeys.
I tell him that it was quite understandable and promise him some FCUG

At the same show, I meet Ryan Czerwinski, owner of Merlancia, a
Commodore-Amiga retailer from Phoenix, Arizona.  I know that he is the
American distributor for MegaPatch 3, the European upgrade for GEOS.  I
ask for MP3, but he didn't bring it, because he didn't think that anyone
would want it at an Amiga convention.  Disappointed, I ask whether MP3 had
solved its stability problems.  He replies that v3.0 was stable, but v3.02
is having problems.  He awaits an update from the MP3 programmer and has
frozen all sales of MP3 in the meantime.

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