Travel

What to do with all the pictures?

Over the course of the last several weeks I have been thinking about how people document their travels. Obviously, people take lots of pictures, save brochures from stores and restaurants, save maps and itineraries from museums and play bills from theaters. Ride stubs from the train and subway passes are also a popular item. I have bags of all these things from different cities about the globe. They all are a great reminder of places you have been and times that you have had.

There is also, this. Not a blog, as this is a blog, but a written account of your travels. I know countless travelers that keep journals and diaries of their travels. I also know people that collect it all in blogs. I have used both. I have leather bound journals with tales of travel along the Nile, and the cloud forests of Costa Rica. I also have this blogs with its tales of recent exploits around the USA.

Personally, I don’t think that any one way of collecting memories is better than any other way. Whatever way that works for you, and lets you return to those memories, is the way to do it. I tend to, like most travelers out there I think, to use a couple of different methods. I think that it is safe to say, everyone carries a camera on vacation. I can’t think of anyone that I have run into during my travels who said, Na I don’t need a picture. I’ll just look at it for a while and that will be fine. They may be out there, but I haven’t run across them.

That being said, Lets shorten the focus of this blog post to talking about cameras. We could fill a whole blog post talking about each of the methods mentioned above, and maybe I will come back to travel journals and train stubs later on, but for now, let’s focus our lens on cameras and photographs.

I have always carried a camera. I like taking pictures. I take countless pictures with my phone that are strictly for my amusement. As with any technology, the equipment changes as the years go along. When I was in the Army, I carried a Kodiak 110 film camera. Later, while still overseas, I transitioned to a Kodak disk camera. (I really thought I was all-that for a while when I got the disk camera.) As the years progressed, I had a succession of disposable cameras and various film types. I remember when digital cameras first came out. They were huge. You have to put a 3.5 inch floppy disk in them to capture the picture on. They were not what I would consider a travelers camera. During this time, I stayed with film. Considering my dive camera was 35 millimeter film, it was an easy choice to make. Standard 35 millimeter cameras were cheap in those days.

Needless to say, I transitioned to digital, at some point, and never looked back. I think that, like most people on the planet, I have also transitioned to using my cellphone camera as much as anything else. It is just natural, I guess. I always have it on me. Why not just use the phone?

For my last bit of travelling, I carried several cameras. This was what led me to thinking about the question of storing memories. When I left to travel around America, I took a compact Sony digital camera with a 10X zoom, a Canon Digital SLR with anti-shack lens, a Go-Pro Hero 5, and my Apple iPhone 5s. Sadly, I can say with all humility that vast majority of the picture were taken with the Apple iPhone. Like I said before, it’s just there all the time. There were times where I used the big SLR for the pictures. It was when I wanted really good quality pictures. Outside on the Capital Mall, inside the Air and Space Museum, and other such places. I don’t think I use the compact Sony digital at all during the trip. It just road around in the truck with me. The Go-Pro was a new addition to my travel bag. I confess that I still haven’t figured out how to utilize it affectively. I’m sure that will change as time goes on. For now, it was relegated to driving video from the dash mount in the truck. The camera phone did the bulk of the heavy lifting, camera-wise. It takes a high enough quality picture that you can print it on camera stock, and you can usually make enlargements. That’s pretty much all I’m chasing out of my travel pictures. I suppose that if I was in the professional travel photo business, I’d use higher end equipment.

As a side note, I also carried a selfie-stick for the iPhone. I never used it for pictures. Frankly, I kept forgetting it was in my bag, so it never got taken anywhere. Maybe, at some point, I’ll remember to take it along. Hopefully, that is before everyplace on the travel map bans there use. We’ll see.

When I was traveling with film cameras, I would find a good place and store all of my negatives. That way, I could go back and make additional copies of pictures or get pictures enlarged. I still have all the film negatives in a storage box, just in case. Now days, I also keep a CD-ROM copy of my digital pictures in the box with the negatives. That way I also have a backup of those. Let’s face it, hard drives crash and external drives fail. It’s just life.

That the way I do it. How do you do it? Do you take tons of picture or very few? Do you still use film or are you digital? Do you print pile of pictures and cover your walls with your travels (I do.) or are they all in photo albums? Needless to say, there is no right answer. Whatever way works for you is the best way to do it. Even if there are still a 1000 pictures on your phone from that cruise you took last year. It’s okay.

Take the pictures. Capture the moment. Do whatever you want with them later. Just, savor the memory.

Now, go. Get out there.

Yours truly, at the Gravity Bar, ST James’ Gate, Dublin. September of 2009. As you can tell, it was the pre selfie stick days. Yes, this too was an iPhone pic. Good beer, that Guinness.

 

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Travel

US Road Trip 2017, Day 17.

The final day of the road trip can be summed up in one word … exasperating. Yup, that’s the word. 

I started out on the eastern edge of Tennessee, and headed west. After already having put on a good 4,000 miles during this little trip, I really didn’t want to be driving anymore. Yet I pressed on under an envelope of stars. 

Needless to say, if you’ve never driven east to west across Tennessee, it took FOREVER! I seriously didn’t think I was ever going to see the sign for Memphis. It was like the Hotel California of states. 

Cruise control on and coffee in hand, I finally prevailed. I crossed the mighty Mississippi River and entered Arkansas. I was happy. For about 20 minutes. 

First, I finally finished the new Daniel Silva book, House of Spies. I’m a huge Gabriel Alon fan. It was unabridged on cd, and it was excellent. I now had to go back to digging for music on the radio.

The road went to hell about 40 minutes into the state. Oh well, bad road is bad road. I continued on unbothered. 

Then, second, about 30 miles east of Little Rock, the whole interstate came to a screeching halt. There had been an accident and the interstate was closed. Stuck in the left lane, no exit even remotely close, and surrounded by tractor trailers, I was going nowhere. The scrum moved a car length  at a time for 2 1/2 hours. When we finally got up to the point where we could pass the accident, it turned out the a tractor trailer load of booze had overturned and slid down the median. You could smell alcohol, even with you windows up. It was a Greek Tragedy. 

The ramp for the bypass around Little Rock was under construction, so I had to drive through the city at rush hour. Great, more lost time. The state of Arkansas ended with an 11 mile construction cone slalom run. The signs said they were rebuilding. From what I saw, it was doubtful. 

I pulled up in Texarkana and assessed. 4 1/2 hours more misery and I could be back in Salado. No stopping now, I continued on. Interstate 30 to Dallas turned into a heavy rain mixed with road construction. Finally getting to Dallas, the ramp for the bypass expressway (635) was closed. I had to overshoot, and come back at it from the other direction, so I could use the other south Bound ramp. I-35 south was a start-stop of road construction. The interstate was completely closed at Temple, Texas for construction. All traffic got diverted onto the frontage road. It was great fun. I pulled into the yard at 12:30am. A 19 1/2 hours of driving day. For a moment, I considered just sleeping in the truck. 

All in all, a round trip circuit road trip across 19 states (most of them crossed twice), with 7 major stops along the way. Total money spent, $ 3,276.67. Total money won, $ 642.00.

Cost: averaged out to $ 192.74 per day. Not too bad. Most of it was hotels and gas. 

I think that, that is that, for a couple days. I have to go back and check in with the real world. 

Get out there! Enjoy!


Enjoying the view in Arkansas.


There’s something you don’t see everyday. 

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Travel

US Road Trip 2017, Day 16.

With a super-casual application of my Campus School math, I have lingered too long on the trail, and it is time to go home. So, today it was back on the road. 

Fourteen hours of driving took me from Northern New York to the eastern edge of Tennessee. All in all, the drive was good. There was a lot of road construction in Virginia and New York, but the remainder wasn’t that bad. The weather was nice and the sky was blue. 

I’ve managed to make it about halfway back to Texas. Tomorrow, if things go okay I’ll get the rest of the way home. Otherwise, I’m beat.

Good night. 


The mountains of Virginia, just before the rain hit. 

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US Road Trip 2017, Day 15. 

The last day in Potsdam started on a good note. I slid out to the house and grabbed dad to go golfing. There was a little discussion before we were off, but we were off. A nice trip out to Raymondville through the big town of Madrid, and to the Raquette River Country Club. 

In a word it was …. wet! The whole course is in high ground and it was still completely saturated. It made finding balls a challenge. Nevertheless, it was a good time. Dad had a blast and we only lost a small number of balls. The score, now that was a different story.

After golf, it was back to the house to hang out with mom and dad for a while. Mom had a doctors appointment, so I jumped ship and did a little running around town. A had to stop and take pictures of my friend Jeff’s old house, so he could see what the college kids have done to it since he moved. It was in pretty good shape.

Back out yo mom and dad’s for a little while. Mom appreciates the time, even if it turned into a nap on the couch. I said bye to the parents and headed back jnto the village to meet more friends. The meeting of friends never stops in this place. 

Walking across the street to the Elk’s Lodge, I learned that I won the sign in. Good news! Bought a round for the bar. Started playing a little tear tickets with my friend Jim. Split another big winner. Yup. 

I ran back to the Motel and talked to my Buddy’s EJ and Stephanie for a bit. Headed back to the room to catch some sleep, I got a text from my friend Mary. I won a raffle ticket at the Elk’s too. Yup, one of those days.

It’s been a good day. Good night.


Looking down the first fareway. Raquette River Golf Course and Country Clud.


The Roxy movie theater. The first movie I saw here was The Towering Inferno. 


Thank you! Just figured out how to pay for the gas in the drive home.

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US Road Trip 2017, Day 10. 

Back on the road again. Today was another one of those Point A to Point B travel days. 

I left Bethesda heading north, opposite the flow of the morning rush hour, and made my way up to NY.  The run through all the historic places along route 15 in Maryland and Pensylania made me want to stop several times. The signs for Gettysburg also had me. But, I persevered. 

For the most part, the drive was nice. I love driving in the mountains. When you’re pulling a hill, and the V8 in the truck is whinning, and your ears pop, that’s when you know your in hill country. The run north through Pennsylvania and New York was all driving in the mountains. It was good. 

Clarification. The driving was good. The roads were horrendous. From the Northeast Extension in PA, pretty much all the way north on I-81 to Watertown, NY, was road construction. Pennsylvania had tore up Road being rebuilt. New York had miles of cones out at a time for some ditch job or ramp repaving job. It basically sucked bad. 

The green dense trees and the vertical change helped to make up for it. By the time I got into the ST Lawrence River Valley, I was okay again. 

I came north, or home I should say, to spend a couple days with my mom and dad, and hangout with friends. I’m sure it will be a good time. 

Rolling into the hometown of Potsdam, New York, I pulled up at my usual home away from home, The Northern Family Motel. I always stay here when I’m in town. The Motel is clean and neat, and the rates are super reasonable. They have a fabulous breakfast spread. They also have an awesome staff. Eric, the owner, is a high school friend of mine. I think he’d be offended if I stayed anywhere else at this point. Hahahaha. Seriously, if you’re passing through this way, you should give them a try. 

From the Motel, it was out of find food. As any local knows, the first stop is Jreck’s Subs. It’s a Northern New York institution. Ham and cheese on wheat, extra hot peppers. 

After food I stopped at the Local Elk’s Lodge (Lodge #2074) to sign in and see as many people as I could. It wasn’t a long commute, as the lodge is all of a good 100 feet around the corner from the sub shop. To get inside I had to ring the front door bell. I forgot my membership card in my bag. Inside, it was good and full as Wednesday night is dinner night at the lodge as well as Golf League night. I made the rounds and promised everyone I’d be back out tomorrow night. But it was a long drive, so I wasn’t gonna start the party just yet. 

Even going someplace you know well can be an adventure, at times.


Breakfast on the road. 


Every time I drive by the sign for FT Indiantown Gap, it makes me smell. Good memories from the Army Reserve in that place.


Driving in the mountains. 

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Travel

US road trip 2017, Day 1

I’ve been hanging out for a while now, in between projects. So, in an effort to take some of my own advice, I’m going on a road trip. I figured that I’d take a little time and go see some places I’ve never seen. I would mix those with some places I haven’t been in a while. Should be a good couple weeks.

As with everything I do, the day started with procrastination. Drank a bunch of coffee and tried to find my motivation. I finally did find it about a half a pot in, so I was off. 

The trip started with a drive through the East Texas countryside. I headed south east out of Salado, through Cameron, and on to Houston. The day was hot. Blue sky and puffy white clouds made for a great drive. Small little towns, lots of crop fields, and cows. 

My original destination was going to be the Fine Arts Museum in Houston. I made a couple of wrong turns along the way. There is currently a pile of road construction around Houston. Google maps however, got me were I was headed. Fortunately, theee is a parking garage attached to the Fine Arts Museum at will fit my four wheel drive truck. UN-fortunately, the museum is closed on Mondays. I probably should have read all that stuff on the webpage. 

Oh well, about a three block walk from the garage is the Natural History Museum. It was cool. It was FULL of kids! I mean full! I think they must do summer camps for kids or something. Nevertheless, it was worth the walk.

The breakdown of the Texas countryside and its wildlife was well put together. The hall of paleontology was also worth while. They have lots of dinosaurs, and the hall is well laid out, chronologically. 

On the third floor is the Ancient Equiptian section. It’s not expansive, but it is well laid out and interesting. 

Getting from parking, back onto the interstate is easy. I hit mid-city traffic at the start of afternoon rush hour. The traffic headed south was stop and go, at best. Once I got to the outer edge of the city (route 610) traffic loosened up and smoothed out.

I drove to League City, and pulled up for a late lunch. I remembered from Facebook that the Tilted Kilt opened a new restaurant in League City, so it seemed like the place to stop. The new Kilt was definitely new. It was crazy clean and there was staff everywhere. 

On the way down to Houston the truck developed a shake, so I pulled it into an NTB across the street so they could check the balance on the tires. 40.00$ later, and all four tires rebalanced, things are mechanically good. And, I continue on.

My room for the night is at the Candlewood Suites, in League City. I booked it on Booking.com. The price was right, and I like the way the way the website works. 

Good night all. Go on, get out there!

The East Texas countryside. Somewhere around Holland, Texas.


The world’s largest snail shell, second floor of the museum.


Allosaurus skeleton, Hall of Palentology. 


What I like to call, reflection of a T-Rex. 


Sarcophagus of a man, Hall of Ancient Egypt. The third floor. 
More to come.

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Travel

Seeing your own country.

The object of most travel scenarios is to escape. Escape has many different faces, but it usually boils down to two basic ideas. They would be to escape the situation you are in (career, relationship, weather, emotional state, etc.) for a while, and to escape to some other place (different country, region, continent, etc.). I get both of them. I use both of them for justification on almost a daily basis. So, it would seem, do most travel operators, bloggers, and advertisers.

Most all of the social media based advertising I have seen lately is targeted toward getting you to travel to somewhere “else”. Go to the Dominican Republic, its magical! Cruises are the only way to see the world! Now is the time to see Europe! Everyone wants you to go somewhere else, and experience new and wonderful things. I get it. I really do. I also have been a proponent of this way of thinking for a long time. There are countless points on the big blue globe that I still want to visit. It’s one of the things that drives my desire to travel.

But – I also remember a time – when there was a different way of thinking about travel. There was a time when traveling to somewhere else meant going to a different location inside your own country. Going to a different city, or state, or region, inside your own country. Getting away and seeing how other people lived. Looking at how other people built things. Experiencing wildlife and nature that was far removed from your own.

Considering that I am American, what I am talking about is the great American Road Trip. Families would pack the kids up in the car and head out to some other place. They would go to the mountains. They would go out to the beaches on the coast. They would wander around the southwest and see the great majesty of the desert. They would travel to see, to experience, and to escape.

Everyone on the globe (okay, maybe a good 98%) have heard stories of driving the iconic Route 66. Many people from other countries have traveled to America, rented cars, and driven this stretch of asphalt. They wanted an experience that they had only read about. So, they went out and grabbed it. I have no doubt that they came back with stories they told over and over again. That’s what the great road trip is all about. And, this experience isn’t about America, it’s about experiencing a new and unique experience. People go to do this around the globe. I have friends who have ridden motorcycles around the Belize jungles. I have a friend who flew to New Zealand and toured the country via motorcycle. He still talks about it. I still talk about driving on the Autobahn in Germany, when I was in my teens. It was a lifetime memory experience.

But, I’m getting off topic. Where I was actually headed with this was, why don’t people view travel inside their own country as travel anymore? Why do people need to go away from their own country to experience something “new”? I am of the opinion that new things are just outside your door, every day. All you have to do is go find them. I still have friends that look at the world this way. They spend weeks planning the summer road trip. They through it all in the vehicle and head out on the highways and byways to see what is new. They always come back with the best stories. Having driving almost the entire Continental United States, at one time or another, I can assure you that you never know what you’re going to see until you look around.

Granted, there are many countries in the world where this isn’t really a great idea. I mean, you can do the country of Lichtenstein in a couple days. Yes, the whole country. Other small countries have many excellent travel opportunities. But lack the geographic area to make them “endlessly wander-able”. Most of the Caribbean, the small countries of Western Europe, some of Central America can all be explored in a reasonable amount of time. But, for the big land mass countries, you can spend endless amounts of time exploring them.

If you live in one of the big land mass countries, do you still get excited about exploring your own country? People from India, Brazil, China, the United states, Canada, Russia (including Siberia), and other large land mass countries, do you explore your own country the same way you go out and explore others? If you don’t, I understand. If you do, that’s awesome!

As a traveler, I love to travel. I love to experience new places. As an American, I love exploring America. That last sentence wasn’t actually a mistake, it was intentional. Having grown up directly on the USA-Canadian border, we came to view Canada as just another part of your neighborhood. Yes, they were on the over side of the river, they had different money, and they had funny road signs (if you went into Quebec), but they were just those people over there. We spent large amounts of time in Canada going up. I learned to appreciate good museums by going to the museums in Ottawa, Ontario. It was part of what made me appreciate and have a sense for culture. I find it sad, that in our post 911 world, the cultural experience of growing up on the border is now all but completely gone.

Where that last paragraph was headed, I think, was that there are many great experiences not far from wherever you are that will give you meaningful experiences. Yup, that was what I was going for. I am always on the lookout for new places I want to go. I have to lists in my phone of places to go/things to do. There is an international one, and there is a US based one. Things that come up in Canada get added to the US list, just because. Whenever a read something and it sounds cool, or I see something on TV that I want to do, I had it to the list. Could be museums, festivals, and great bars, whatever. I want to go places and have new experiences.

Being part of the population that has the benefit of being from a large land mass country, I say don’t count out your own country. The ease of traveling your own country cannot be undervalued. You already understand the road signs, you already have the money, you can speak the language, you understand how tipping in your own country works (this one thing is of immense value all by itself), all of your electronics work without adaptors, and a HUGE list of other benefits exist. Probably another one that I find personally satisfying is that you will be able to read all of the information plagues in the various museums, because they will be in your own language. (Or, for the immigrants, they will be if you have managed to transition the language barrier.) One thing that I find continuously tedious if all the information plaques in museums that I can’t read, because I don’t speak French, Spanish, German, and the like.

Please, do yourself a favor and explore your own country. There are hosts of people travelling to your country every day to do that very thing. The next time somebody from out of town asks you a question about how to get somewhere, or what they could do for fun, if you can pull a good answer it might be because you haven’t explored enough of it yourself. I say, do justice to your country. Get out there and see it. Have a good time, somewhere you speak the language.

 

The walk-up fence at The Trinity Site, White Sands Missile Range, Central New Mexico. Site of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion. Open to the public one day a year. This was taken sometime around 2012. There was a HUGE line to get in.

 

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