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Places I’m going, packing, to do lists, generally more tips than the actual destination itself.

Written By: Gary on December 5, 2013 No Comment

So I’m checking out flight prices for a trip, baggage fees are always interesting. The flights that I’m looking at allow me to take two 70 pound bags down for free, but only allow me to bring on 50 pounds back for free.


That’s a different carrier on the way back, but it’s all booked through the same airline. Even if I pay $40 for the second bag, I can still only bring back 100 pounds in my two bags.

I would never need more than 100 pounds, I’m just saying. Maxing out a pound bag on the way down is pretty easy for me, so I might need two on the way back since I only get 50 pounds for the first bag. But booking it that way looks like it’ll save me just over $100 so paying for the second bag certainly works out.

The airlines I was looking at weren’t too bad for luggage costs, but when you look at some airlines (Spirit) they give you no bags, how can you possibly go to another country for two weeks and not take any bags?!?

International flights used to always give me two bags (at least on the airlines I flew) so if I happened to go over the weight of the first bag I’d take a second smaller bag that actually fit in the first bag. I’d separate them to fly, but then combine them at the destination and I’d only roll around one bag. These days I’m taking a lot less books on a trip since I just take my Kindle with me although I still take one paperback to read during takeoff since they don’t like you to have electronics on; I know that rule is changing, but if I don’t know in advance for sure, I still have to be prepared…

Later: The more I think about it, 70 pounds seems to be a lot. Maybe 50 pounds is what used to be normal and I’m actually getting just getting extra in both bags on the way down?

More later: It turns out the two 70 pound bags on the way down were due to those seats being first/business class. I was shopping with points and didn’t really notice that it was that much of point difference.

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Written By: Gary on November 24, 2013 4 Comments

I love this program and it just did a major update so thought it was due for an update on the review I did before, but when I looked I realized I never reviewed this amazing app before, so here we go…

galileo-app.pngFirst of all this program should be thought of as a digital map, the GPS in your iPhone/iPad will find your location and keep the map centered but it doesn’t have directions (just like a paper map doesn’t have directions). What’s really nice about this program you can download maps and they stay on the device so if you’re somewhere with without data (say somewhere on a hike in Costa Rica) you still have your maps with you. Or if you’re traveling internationally and don’t have a data plan you’ve got the maps already, the same goes if you have a plan with a small amount of data, you don’t need to use up all the data.

galileo-maps-IMG_9096.PNGGalileo also has several ways to get maps onto your iPad or iPhone, but the newest way is the fastest and easiest. You just go in to the program, click download maps and pick your states, countries or providences and it downloads them and they are on your device. These downloads are relatively small, Michigan is about 30MB while Costa Rica was about 9MB, but have remarkable zoom levels and are very fast. I wasn’t sure how often they were going to be updating these maps, but when I went to get the screen shot, I see they’ve already updated several of the maps I’ve downloaded (that’s why the screen is downloading that map, it’s an update).

This program is free and the vector downloadable maps are free but the program has many other in app purchases (which I’ll talk about).

I use this a lot when I’m out hiking and biking and traveling. I know where I’m traveling, a question I used to ask all the time is “Where am I?” and people wanted to know where I was going but I’m just walking around taking in the sights and I want to know where I am (I quite often got confusing looks). I want to know where I am and zoom around quickly and not worry about how fast my data is or if I’m roaming somewhere. I get a pretty good signal in Michigan but if I’m in some state/national parks there isn’t always coverage.

Maps show how fast you’re going, the scale of the map and (optionally) your longitude and latitude.

I like to sightsee / wander around and see what I can find, when I travel I try not to be in a hurry. I went up north to visit my Uncle Jim and Aunt Karen once and when I arrived around 5PM they said “What time did you leave?” and I said “Noon”, which got the reply “You made pretty good time” and then I had to clarify with “Noon, yesterday“! I like to stop and do things, I’d been to different places and going biking and rollerblading and taking pictures and been all over before I got there. It was fun and I saw things that I’d not have seen if I’d had a specific plan.

In Costa Rica, most roads don’t have names and it’s confusing to get around, looking at the map and seeing the icon where you are is incredibly helpful (you need an iPhone or an iPad with the GPS for this to show you where you are).

So my suggestion is download Galileo and grab a few maps of places you frequent so that you’ve always got a nice map in your pocket.

The rest of these features starts to get a little confusing, if the above doesn’t interest you and you don’t care about maps, you should stop reading. If you’d like to be able to download other types of maps and know more, then read on!

This is one of those apps with many 5-star reviews and many 1-star reviews. Although, if you read the 1-star reviews most of them complain about things that if they had read the description they’d know that’s not what the program is supposed to do.

The other thing you can do is choose other map sources: biking, hiking, tourist and it’ll download them, but it remembers the maps until you delete them, so if you want some specific maps you just need to download them and zoom in at different levels and they’ll save and be there for you later (you can set the time limit). Other maps cache this data but purges it when it feels it doesn’t need it any more, you don’t have control over how long the data stays around. That said, I still like pre-downloading them myself (see last item of this review) and installing on the device is my favorite way to go. This next map is a sample of a map that isn’t so much like the “normal” Apple or Google maps.


Example of a different type of map with altitude/terrain markings.
Good to know if you follow that path you’re going up/down paths over 200 feet in height.

Other (paid features):
Bookmarks – You can leave bookmarks/pins at locations for easy finding later, incredibly useful for marking places that have no other frame of reference. If hiking, you can mark and interesting spot. If someone lives in the middle of nowhere and you want to find it again, leave a pin at that spot.

Breadcrumbs – It will record a trail of where you’ve been. You can look at this later or export the data for other uses later.

Generate off-line maps – Downloading other off-line maps (this is great and it why I got the app in the first place) you can get maps from different sources and build them (on your desktop computer with Mobile Atlas Creator) and put them on the device for later. I downloaded great maps with heights of the hills/mountains for where I hike in Costa Rica, I don’t need to use international data roaming for this since I built them once and they stay on the device.

FYI, the screenshots and map captures are clickable to much larger versions.

Written By: Gary on July 19, 2013 2 Comments

A few days ago, I was wondering some things about the Alaska trip: how long Mr. Kuhn had done it for or if anyone else had ever posted pictures at some point in time, so I went to internet to see what I could find out.

Unfortunately, the first thing I found was Mr. Kuhn’s obituary. It seemed an odd thing is that it was just a few weeks ago, right before I started posting every thing about this trip. He passed on June 20th, a week before we left thirty-two years ago.


I wasn’t even sure how old he was at the time, we were just fifteen, so even thirty years old would be ancient to us. But he was celebrating his 25th year of leading this trip when were on it, so that would make him a bit older, now that I have the dates, he’d have been fifty-seven on our trip. Did I mention that he originally went on this trip with someone else as leader? He retired from the eight years after our trip and it says he did the Alaska trips for over thirty years, so I guess at least five more after us, maybe a few more than that.

That’s Mr. Kuhn in the back in the blue jacket/shirt.
That’s the fish bake (I think by some mines) in Alaska we went to.

He was this crazy old guy who took us on the adventure of a lifetime. I think about this trip often, I feel that it has a bit to do with the traveler in me. Obviously, I had something of it in me before I left or I’d never have taken this three week trek away from home. Until recently, it was one of the longest trips I’ve ever been on.

Thank you and take care Mr. Kuhn I hope you’re still out there traveling…

In case you know Mr. Kuhn and are wondering why I’m posting his obituary, I went on a trip to Alaska with Mr. Kuhn when I was a kid. I recently found my journal from that trip and scanned my slides and I just spent the last three weeks writing about the whole trip to Alaska. I wrote it up each day and posted information and photos on the same day but exactly thirty-two years later.

Written By: Gary on July 18, 2013 3 Comments

So we got up this morning and boarded a chartered bus from Chicago and back to the Detroit area. It was a long bus ride and we arrived tired and I recall it being really really hot when we arrived (a bank parking lot in Pleasant Ridge, the same spot we left from). I’m thinking it was kind of hot on the bus, so maybe something was broken(?).

Nothing else exciting, we stopped somewhere for lunch but no photos from today (sorry). I’ll scan those other pictures eventually (the two nice group shots and some black and white photos), hopefully more sooner than later (I did start making room for the scanner). I never found the photos that I took with the 110 camera, I looked all over for them but sadly never found them. I even looked for the pewter bear that I bought as a souvenir in Alaska, but no luck there either…

Since I don’t have any photos from today, here’s a few panoramic photos that I don’t think I posted here (a few might have been posted to Facebook already). I just tried to pick random ones but they’re mostly from Banff National Park and some glaciers in Alaska.

Mendenhall Glacier.

Near (in?) Banff National Park.

In Banff National Park near the Chateau Lake Louise.

Near Banff National Park.

Glacier Bay.

It was a great trip and I really enjoyed reliving it while sharing it with you all here.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 17, 2013 No Comment

So we were pretty bored on the train, it was 40 hours so far and I was pretty stir crazy. We’d stopped at some towns but nothing for more than a few minutes (We stopped in St. Payl / Minneapolis, MN for a short time, but I slept through that). We (the guys) wanted some snacks and something different than what was on the train. The problem was that most of the towns were just a quick stop and there was nothing nearby. So we watched the next few stops and the next stop in the middle of nowhere we saw a little shop (a little farther than across the street) and we ran like cRaZy. We made sure the guy from the train knew where we were going, and we knew they weren’t going to leave a few kids behind, but we didn’t really know for sure(!), so we ran and ran like our lives depended on it (my Mom would have killed me!) and got some drinks/snacks and got back on the train.

Thinking of the train station in Dearborn, there’s nothing there if you were just traveling by, the station is a small building and it’s behind the police station and library, nowhere that you could really get anything. Plus, if the train stops for more than a few minutes, it’s only because it’s early, I don’t think I’ve generally seen it sit there for more than 5 minutes, if that. People get off, people get on and it’s gone (very efficient).

So it was the last day on the train and we were ready to get off the train and glad to arrive in Chicago.



From my journal:

6 pm – Got into Chicago and took cabs from the train station to the hotel. Mr. Kuhn gave us money and we got food from Burger King. Then we went up the Sears Tower.

We stayed at the Ascot House in Chicago. It was a weird shaped really large room that we ended up with. I’m not sure how many of us were in there, but after running around Chicago we were pretty tired and it probably didn’t matter. This was at 1100 S Michigan Ave, it’s a Best Western across from Grant Park, I really don’t remember the nice park across the street, maybe it wasn’t as nice back then? Maybe we just walked out the wrong way out the side door?



We ran around all over the area in Chicago, we were pretty unstructured and unsupervised this evening. A few of us hung out and went up to the top of the Sears Tower and checked out the elevated train. I can’t remember if we got on it just for the heck of it or if we took it to get to the Sears Tower, which was kind of far away.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 16, 2013 No Comment

The first thing we realize is that the tracks in Canada are much much smoother than in the United States. This train is so bumpy it’s not even funny.

We have a small cabin area, kind of like you see in the movies when they can open the door and go in and the beds fold down. It’s kind of nicer than the VIA trains, but it’s so small (smaller than movies) we really don’t stay in there, so it doesn’t make much of a difference.

From my journal:

7am – Slept okay. French toast was pretty dull. Found out the menu is the same every day.

8 am – Stopped in Whitefish (Montana?) for 17 minutes, nice little town, had a lot of shops but most were closed.

Rest of day – Stopped in a few more small towns. Read a bit in an empty cabin I found.





Some more photos from the train ride home. We were pretty bored…

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

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Written By: Gary on July 15, 2013 No Comment

I got a postcard from Mom! She sent it to the hotel from when she was up north with my Aunt Nola last week! It’s of the Mackinaw Bridge which is huge and connects the upper and lower peninsula’s of Michigan together.

Postcard from Mom

Postcard from Mom

Today we are to explore the nearby trails and “leave to see Steven’s Canyon, Cayuse Pass, Cowlitz River, Box Canyon, Chinook Pass, White River and the missive 5.5 mile long Emmons Glacier”.

From my journal –

9 am – Feel a lot better after all that sleep. We leave here at Noon. Young and Spencer leave today for the rest of the trip.

I was feeling better which is good, like I said yesterday, I thought we’d stayed here for days and days (I thought that mostly because I really remember being sick). I’d mentioned Young and/or Spencer in my journal before (but not here on the web) so I must have spent some time with them and helping out and playing cards. I’m guessing they were a few of the senior women that I have posted a few photos of here and there. I’m sure with feeling sick and homesick I was very jealous of their heading home.




I think those last from photos are from the Washinton area, anyone who thinks they’re from farther east, let me know and I’ll move them around. Some of yesterday’s photos might actually be from some of the other locations around here, I’m doing my best with these in trying to remember (and space them out for you!).

So later today we’ll board Amtrak train #8 , the Empire Builder on the Superliner for Chicago and start our two day trek back on the trail.

From my journal:

4 pm – Called home from train station. Train is is okay but room is a little small for 3 people. Train has 2 floors, we’re on 2nd. We got one of the bigger rooms, you should see the guys that got one of the smaller rooms.

8pm – Dinner was good, had turkey and more.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 14, 2013 No Comment

According to the itinerary “Mount Rainer is 14,400 feet and capped with 26 glaciers. Mt. Rainer is the greatest single scenic attrition in the entire Pacific Northwest.”



From my journal:

8 am – Feeling a little better than yesterday.

9 am – Got on the bed to ride to Mt. Rainier.

1:30 pm – By the time we got back to the hotel I was so sick I thought I was going to die.

8 pm – Slept for a while. Woke up, felt better, ran around outside some more. Went back feeling sick.

Paradise Inn hotel (built in 1916).

From my memory: This was the year after Mount Saint Helens erupted. I recall going on the bus ride and the guide telling us that if we saw ash-like material along the sides of the road (or other places) that there was a good chance it was from the eruption from last year. I think I skipped dinner and a few of the guys stayed behind and then I was sick more for the rest of the day. I just remember staying back for being sick and then running around for a while. When we ran around outside we had a blast and I don’t know where the energy came from, it was beautiful out, but then I went back to bed and you’d never know I’d been feeling better. I thought I was in the room for days feeling sick, but I think we only spent one night here.

Keep in mind, while I was feeling sick, I’m also feeling homesick (and being sick is making it worse!), it’s been seventeen days since I’ve been gone, this is a record by far (not sure if I’d ever been gone more than a week). So at this point I just want to be home and be sick and have my mom take care of me!





I think these last few are form near the hotel when we were running around outside. I think it was just Jeff and I (maybe one other kid too).

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 13, 2013 No Comment

From the itinerary, “Our wonderful cruise ended at 9am as we arrived in Vancouver and hopped on a bus to take us to Seattle. We visited some special exhibits at the Century 21 Center (which I don’t remember) and took a ride up revolving Space Needle in Seattle.” I think just the restaurant revolves, but maybe we ate there (I can’t remember), I do not think the observation level revolves, I was up it a few years ago and I don’t recall the floor we were on rotating…

From my journal –

1 pm – Finally got to the motel, but one we were off the bus we found out it was the wrong one.

4:30 pm – Went to the World’s Fair grounds which was pretty dull and there wasn’t much going on [probably because the World’s Fair was decades before!]. Went up the tower (Space Needle) and took lots of shots.

Mr. Kuhn left his and Jim’s luggage back at the ship. Jim needs his luggage since it has his pills. [Jim was a guy in a wheelchair on the trip with multiple special needs, he wasn’t a senior and he wasn’t a kid.]

8 pm – Have had a headache and a sore throat but I’m feeling a little better.

9 pm – This Hotel (a Motel 6) isn’t bad for so cheap. It coast 79 cents to get a key that turns on the TV [I don’t remember that at all and I don’t think I ever saw it since]. We did get a “magic fingers” bed massage for 25 cents. No phones in the room, but I guess it does the job.

Jim and Mr. Kuhn must have gotten their luggage later but I didn’t journal that. I think Jim had the same last name as Mr. Kuhn but wasn’t a relative, or something oddly coincidental like that (maybe slightly different last names and they were related?).

Seattle Panorama July 1981

Seattle Panorama July 1981

Space Needle

Seattle Panorama July 1981

Seattle Panorama July 1981

The above are a few different panoramas of the Seattle, Washington skyline. I assume I took all of these from the Space Needle at the old World’s Fair Grounds (the middle one is of the Space Needle from the ground). These were made from scans of the slides I took on the trip and joined together with the AutoStitch Panorama app on my iPhone (although the second one from the bottom looks a tiny goofy in the middle, I wonder if these two pieces really go together). These all enlarge to huge so if you want to see more detail, just click. Obviously, the tall one in the middle is the Space Needle from ground level.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 12, 2013 No Comment

Another day without many activities on the boat. I have no idea why they wouldn’t have had the captain’s dinner or the costume party on one of these slow days.

From my journal:

10 am – I just keep having the same breakfast over and over: Pancakes, sausage, apple juice, milk and corn flakes. I with they would change the menu for breakfast once in a while.

I do have to get down to do some laundry today, not too much but enough to last the rest of the vacation.

The Sun Princess just went by, it is one of the “Love Boats” (it looks just like the ships on the TV series).

1 pm – Those “Love Boats” really get around, the Island Princess just sailed by too.

So not too exciting. I do remember that we played a bit of cribbage with the seniors (and some other cards), I bet it was on a few of these slow days. Here’s a few assorted photos that I don’t think I posted yet.

Glacier Bay.

The ship with some glaciers in the background.

Near the Mendenhall Glacier.

Near Juneau, Alaska.

So those were just a few photos from various points of the Alaska part of the trip since I didn’t have anything else for you today.

Alaska-6to8-81452712-SLD-001-0034 - Version 2.jpg
I really like this photo with the smooth reflection, but sadly the colors were WAY off so I converted it.

Alaska-6to8-81452712-SLD-001-0035 - Version 3.jpg
Another one that I converted to b & w.

The last few slides were ruined, they were at the end of the roll and must not have gotten developed properly. They looked very red/orange-ish, the shades looked mostly okay, so I just converted them to them to black and white and they look much better! That reminds me, I do have some black and white photos that I shot while in Alaska too (I’m not sure what portion of the trip), I really like how they came out, I’ll have to scan them.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 11, 2013 No Comment

Today there was really not much to do, which I find odd since there were so many activities all the other other days. We crossed back into Canada at 2 and stopped into Prince Rupert around 6pm. The itinerary says we visited the “Worlds Largest Cold Storage Plant” but I really really don’t remember that (and I’ve got no note of it in my journal). I see from my journal we did go down and visit the engine room and wheel house of the ship.

Okay, so I’ve checked my journal and the photos and I appear to have zero photos from today, which is weird. I’m wondering if something happened to a roll and I have no pictures until the day after tomorrow (or if I’ve mixed something up in the order of photos?). Regardless, as I said yesterday, I have things that did not get posted so I’ll share some of those today.


A few more shots of the Glacier Bay area for you.

One of the ranger’s that came on board to talk to us about Glacier Bay.

I forgot to mention the size of the glacier’s yesterday. The Margaree Glacier is a mile wide, 200 feet tall and thirty-five miles long! That’s huge.

Me all dressed up for the Captains Dinner
Me all dressed up for the Captain’s Dinner

A view off the back of the ship as we pull away from Glacier Bay.

The Man of Steel
Dressed up as Superman for the costume contest. I made this costume!!!

I did win a T-Shirt for this costume, it said “First Mate”! So yesterday was a super busy day: we had Glacier Bay, the Captain’s dinner and a costume party. Why some of these weren’t saved for the next few days, I’m not really sure.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 10, 2013 No Comment

I believe that this is the farthest north that we go on the Alaska cruise. We started our day with Mount Fairweather and Glacier Bay. Actually, I believe Mt. Fairweather is above Glacier Bay so we kind of saw both at once.

There are only two main glacier’s in the Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. But they are huge and there is ice all over the place! Lots of photos today, very little narration except for a few photo captions.






Me on the ship
Me with Glacier Bay in the background.




You can really see the parts of the glacier falling off in this photo (calving).


A few of the people on our trip.

Another photo where you can see the calving of the glacier!




Actually, lots more happened today, but if I talk about it, there’s more photos that need to be included and I think that’s enough for the day. I’ll squeeze them in with tomorrow’s post (which I think was a slow day) or I’ll create a part two later.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 9, 2013 No Comment

From my Journal –

Breakfast is always the same, I picked up a menu so people at home could see it.

I put the menu in an entry from a few days ago, so I won’t put it here again. What’s funny is that it sounds like I’m complaining about breakfast, but I think when I was younger I pretty much at the same thing every day. I know as an adult I eat the same thing (but this is a different same thing than when I was a kid), nine out of ten days I have: bacon, eggs, cantaloupe and orange juice…

Today we went into Tracy Arm to see our first up close look at glaciers.


We passed a large cruise ship while were were out there today.


I believe the pieces of ice that fall off are called calfs.

A big glacier!


Some of the people from our group. I wish I could remember their names!

In the afternoon we went to Juneau.

The chamber of commerce took us (the boys) out to the glacier and to the salmon bake outside restaurant.

A few photos from the Mendenhall glacier were stitched to make this huge panorama. Click to enlarge.

They actually took a nice photo of us out at the Mendenhall glacier and it made it into the Juneau Empire newspaper with a nice article. I’ll scan that later, just taking a photo of it would not do it justice. I just found this yesterday with the group photo from Banff that I mentioned a few days ago (I’ll get this scanned soon).


I’m not sure what the rest of out group did today, but the boys went to a fish fry.


I was reading about shopping in Juneau and just remembered, in Juneau I bought a ring. It’s funny I’ve thought about this ring many times throughout the years, but I’ve forgotten all about it as I’m been putting this information together about this trip. It was a little large but I really liked it, it looked like a school class ring and it was silver and have a black stone (hematite?). I wore it more when I was in college and I lost it about a decade later (I think in organic chemistry class), as I said it was a little big and I was always playing with it and I think I left it on my desk (at least that’s the last time I remember seeing it). I checked with maintenance and the office quite a few times afterwards hoping it would turn up. I’ve always hoped I was wrong and that it would turn up later that it’d fallen out at home and gotten mixed in with stuff, but it never did….

I also bought a little pewter polar bear, but I’m not sure where that is, I haven’t seen it in years. It’s either in another box of memorabilia or it got lost too.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 8, 2013 No Comment

So it’s our first day in Alaska! We crossed the border sometime in the night and we arrived at Ketchikan in the morning around 7:30 am.. It’s a little grey out but it’s a town in Alaska!!!!! We were told it was the “Salmon Canning Capitol of the World”!

Ketchikan, Alaska. For reference, the line at the bottom of the map is the top of the United States.

Arriving in Ketchikan

Arriving in Ketchikan (on a really grey morning).

Downtown Ketchikan

The Ketchikan Community College.

Downtown Ketchikan

From my journal:

12:30 -The town was okay, there were a lot of shops. Got a scrimshaw spoon and two other spoons, a set of pottery seals and a really good kind of chocolate mint (called Meltaway Mint), hopefully I’ll have some left when we get home [I don’t think I did, sorry Mom]. Found some film for $5.70 which was not bad considering where we are [I think earlier I said it was $9 back on the U of BC campus].

3:00 pm – Just had lunch. Boy, that waiter sure has to put up with a lot. I’m surprised he hasn’t had a nevus breakdown!

5:30 pm – Been writing letters during lots of my free time, got about eight of them done to mail. It’s about time to get to Wrangell, I think I might skip dinner (I’ll get midnight snack later) so I can see more of the town.

Looking out on the water from town (or the dock?) but I’m not sure which town though.


Sign says: “Chief Shakes Community House”.

This totem pole is a little dark, but it’s zoomed in for more detail.


A is Ketchikan and B is Wrangell. If you went by ferry it’s 5-6 hours and about 90-100 miles (and about $37 in 2013).

I’m not sure if I’m including a map for all the towns along the coast, I think most are along that same peninsula/area along the coast, I don’t think we got into the big part of Alaska at all, just along the side of British Columbia, Canada. I haven’t been reading ahead in my journal or itinerary as I write all this (I like the surprise!).

From my journal:

Midnight – Wrangle was another small town. The Wrangle Narrows looked okay, but I didn’t get any pictures [I think we are on board watching a movie, we paused it as we passed through to look, but that was it]. We went to shakers island to see the indian relics, but they had just closed. I had those letters written and left them unsealed so if I wanted to add something, I could. But when I got back to the boat Jeff had mailed them (he said he added some to the letters and changed some, but I think he was kidding).

I comment on the size of these small towns, but they don’t seem so small to me now (I think I’d been used to the big cities that we’d traveled to). These towns are huge metropolises compared to the places I go to in Costa Rica, maybe that’s why they don’t seem so small to me now? Or in my head, did I remember them even smaller?

I’m sure we did a lot more that that, but it was a ways back so I only remember so much and I only took so many photos. I definitely take more photos these days, I probably take more on a bike ride at the park (where I go all the time) in a day than I did some of these days on the trip!

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 7, 2013 2 Comments

So we left Vancouver yesterday evening and we’re on our way to Alaska aboard the Princess Patricia. From the itinerary we’re in the Seymour Narrows and Johnstone Strait and then through Queen Charlotte Sound and the Grenville Channel. I probably wouldn’t have gotten any of those correct on a quiz (or a map!). We’re still in British Columbia for the whole day since I know from our itinerary that the first stop tomorrow morning is one of the first towns on the coast of Alaska so we must cross over in the middle of the night.

Princess Patricia Info
Princess Patricia Information

I must have been up late last night since after breakfast I went back to bed until noon. I’m liking the food! For breakfast I had pancakes, sausage and corn flakes; for lunch pork (chops?), french fries and apple cheesecake. Today we have to fill out our “name bingo” cards while collecting the names of other passengers.

Menus I saved and the passenger list. The passenger list also had the ship info (above) and the ship’s officers and how to understand the insignia’s on the uniforms.

A breakfast menu (with a little breakfast on the menu!).

You can see the lunch menu is labeled “Day 4 L” in the lower right corner, so that must be the standard fare for the fourth day.

I appear to have not taken any photos this day. That seems weird. I’ve still never found the photos from the 110 camera that was mentioned in my journal earlier (in Calgary or Edmunton). I do have a few photos of black and white (the rest of the trip was color slides), but they’re of Alaska so that’s not it. But it’s a half a roll, it’s like I shot half and took it out of the camera to put color in (which I’ve done before).

From my journal:

5:35 PM – In the solarium right now, the view is great, it’s on the top floor of the ship and you can see all around. The view is great, the clouds above the trees on the mountains can’t be more then 400 or 500 feet above water levels. It’s real neat. [How did I not take any photos?!?]

7 PM – Just finished going to the captain’s cocktail hour. Drank a couple of ginger ale’s. A few of the guys got a little drunk for the champagne. [Not sure if they snuck it or it was offered since we were at sea?]

The movie for the night was “The Champ” which I said was just as good as the first time I saw it.

Room key
The coolest key of the whole trip!

We must have been a little loud because at midnight I wrote that Mr. Kuhn kept coming in the room (“a million times”) to tell us to go to sleep so we could get up in the morning.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 6, 2013 No Comment

So we ran around the Vancouver area today. I can’t remember what all the photos were but I’ll try to piece it all together. We did get a tour of the University of British Columbia campus (I really don’t remember this part). I did go over to the registrar’s office and get a college guide and a course book. I also found another arcade(!) which is really funny that I’ve mentioned this a few times in my journal, I really don’t recall playing any arcade games the whole time.

Totem Pole Vancouver Canada

So I have no recollection of the guy below playing the accordion, but it’s in my journal with his name and the notation that he was supposed to be playing the bagpipes (and he told some jokes).

Sandy Stewart
Sandy Stewart playing the acordian.



This might be Stanley Park.


The above are just some assorted shots of Vancouver. Not even sure where I took most.

From my journal:

“5PM – Just saw the Cleveland Dam, it’s pretty neat. Earlier we saw the Capilano Suspension Bridge and went across it.”

I’m going to guess this is the Caplilan Suspension bridge!

Some of our group posing for me.

That’s me!

Here’s the Cleveland Dam.

Alaska-1to5-81452705-SLD-001-0172 - Version 2.jpg


Looking down from the top of the dam.

This was in the middle of the dam photos, I’m guessing it’s looking down the river(?)

From my journal (with no photos, sorry):

“Stopped in Chinatown for about fifteen minutes and drove through Gas Town with is all gas lamps.”

Leaving Vancouver behind.

Speaking of the ship:

“9:15 PM – The ship sure is dinky. The rooms are pretty small too. The food ain’t bad on the boat.”

Sunset on the ship.

We boarded the ship at 7 PM and at 8:30 PM it set said through the Inside passage on it’s way to Alaska.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 5, 2013 No Comment

Today we left Kamloops and headed over to Vancouver. It was a pretty normal day and I talked to my mom on the phone; multiple other days I’d made notes that I couldn’t reach her (where were you mom?!?) I probably wrote it down so I didn’t get in trouble for not calling, answering machines were still pretty new sparse back then. Plus, I helped some of the seniors with their luggage; while that was something listed as something we would do, it wasn’t an everyday thing (I even mentioned whose luggage it was).

On the way to Vancouver

Taking a break on the way to Vancouver
Taking a break on the way to Vancouver

From the trip itinerary it says we’d see Fraser Canyon, Hell’s Gate and the Alexandra Suspension bridge on the ride (but honestly I really don’t remember any of that, I’ll have to see what I have photos of).

To protect from Avalanches?
You’ve got window glare (sorry!) but I wanted to show those structures to prevent the road (or rails) from avalanches (I guess?)




We stayed at the University of British Columbia (the rent the empty dorm rooms out like a hotel) and it really made an impact on me. I liked the campus and I really liked the way that the dorms were set up. I even went over and got a course description guide while I was there.

The dorms are rented out in the summer and the rooms are really tiny ($9 adults and $7 for kids). The bonus of this was that for the first time all trip I’ve had room of my own, so this was extra enjoyable to me! I’m an only kid so sharing a room, let alone with strangers wasn’t really something I was used to.

Walter Gage Residence at U of BC

So the way our dorm, the Walter Gage Residence, was set up was that each floor had four “wings” and each wing had eight rooms: a bathroom, a living room/kitchenette, and six small (private) bedrooms. It seemed to me the building was kind of new at the time. I even sketched up a diagram, I’ll take a photo and add it.

The layout was great (this is one of the four wings), you had “roommates” but you had your own room and a common area. You can see the building is kind of square so the drawing isn’t to any kind of scale.

Room layout
This the single room layout and that’s the door at the top. You can tell that I really liked the room setup here, I even added the shelves and lamp.

IMG_7867.jpg   IMG_7869.jpg
This is from Roger’s Pass which we would have passed through today (I think). It came in a nice sealed case.

I mentioned in my journal that I’d gotten a lot of those commemorative coins, which is what I was thinking the other day, but I think I only have three of them. I’ll have to look in other places but all of this Alaska trip stuff has been in the same box for years.

Here’s the important part: We board the ship headed to Alaska tomorrow!!!

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 4, 2013 No Comment

Unfortunately, we didn’t get enough time at Chateau Lake Louise we were up at 7 am and out of there by 10 am. I did get a chance to take a few more pictures before we had to take off. It really was a beautiful area!

There is no question that he was posing for me!





I do have a copy of the final group photo somewhere, I believe he gave it to us as an 8″ x 10″ in black and white. I’ll have to find it, I’m hoping it’s with a few other items I can’t find that I think I know where they all are. But I’ll probably have to scan it to do it justice.

Group Picture
This is a group picture we were trying to take before leaving. Obviously we aren’t ready, I’m not it it yet!

I’m not sure which portion of the background is the glacier? But I know a portion of it is. Maybe most of the middle “mountain”? I didn’t actually take a photo of the hotel, but you can see part of it at wikipedia (From the description, it looks like they added onto it)


I liked the room key here, it kind of folds up to be less bulky!

Here’s a few more photos of the area(?) and on the way to Kamloops. Even with these photos in chronological order, it’s still hard to tell when events change sometimes. With my digital camera I quite often take photos of signs so that I know what something is. But what I really want is GPS built into all my cameras so I really know exactly where I took my pictures. That also makes for some fun options to have software automatically place them on a map. WIth that said, these photos are from between Chateau Lake Louise and Kamloops (and maybe Vancouver, but hopefully not).

A train bridge in the distance.


A little glare on the window for this one, but I liked the view!


Kamloops was pretty small but I really remember it being a tough town (I know I mentioned something about Calgary, but I didn’t remember that and it was before I was here!). It was a regular town (not a tourist town and not a big city at all), but I remember making fun of it in a variety of ways: “Kamloops, the only place the 24 hour A&P closes at 11pm”, we thought that was hysterical. We also thought Kuhnloops would be a good nickname for Mr. Kuhn, I guess Fruit Loops mushed with Kuhn and the town Kamloops made it all funny. We were kids, okay?!?

It was really hot, I wrote that “it hit 96 degrees here today” and while that was Canada, I’ll assume that was in Fahrenheit. This was our least fancy (not at all fancy) hotel all trip. I don’t need “fancy” but this one stood out as “not like the others”…

One very “not vacation” thing we did was to go see Raiders of the Lost Ark which I’d said in my journal that “Raiders was just and good and the first time!”.

It wasn’t very much of an Independence Day but we were able to cope :)

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 3, 2013 No Comment

Today we left Calgary on the bus to head to Chateau Lake Louise. The itinerary says “After leaving Calgary, gradually, the foothills gain height as you rider and almost before you know it, you are in the mountains”. He wasn’t kidding. I took a lot of photos on the ride over










The above are mostly pictures from the ride and I’m sure in a few you can see the reflection from the window. But it pretty much matches the description that Mr. Kuhn mentioned in the itinerary!

Got to Banff National Park.
Went to visit the “bee-u-tiful” Banff Springs Hotel and took pictures.

Lunch after riding on the bus some more at A&W.

Arrived at the Chateau Lake Louise.

I’m pretty sure that I wrote “bee-u-tiful” because that’s how Mr. Kuhn said it. Mr. Kuhn was a great guy that ran the trip and a bit eccentric at times but he put on a great trip.











The above pictures are from the area around the hotel. The latter ones (certainly from the vertical ones on) are from the hike up Mt. Victoria. That last one would be where we stopped to get tea (probably Coke for us!) at some point on the hike.

Hiked up to the tea house and waterfall four-and-a-half miles up Mount Victoria.

Had a great dinner in the Victoria Dining Room. Wore my jacket and borrowed a tie from Jeff.

I don’t know what was a great dinner to me back then? Hamburgers and ice cream? Also, I can’t remember why I borrowed a tie from Jeff, maybe I liked it better? Did I not take one? I’ve actually found a few pictures of Jeff and friended him (I think it’s his Facebook that I found) so that I could send him some of the photos (but he hasn’t responded!).

The Chateau Lake Louise was a beautiful location to stay at, it seems to me the rooms were pretty tiny (as many old hotels are) but it was great location and I do remember climbing way way up while were were there. It was beautiful and great to be in the forest climbing around and taking pictures.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 2, 2013 No Comment

So we left Edmonton by bus and pretty much “goofed around all day” after we got to Calgary.

Waiting for the bus to Calgary
Our group waiting for the bus to Calgary

Calgary Canada

Calgary bus ride
These are on the ride from Edmunton to Calgary.

The last two photos seems a little high for a bus but downtown seems a little empty if they are from the hotel window…

In Calfary, we stayed at another Sheraton.

If my memory serves me right, my room was number 308…

We got to Calgary in time for lunch and had lots of time for goofing around (as stated above) but I’m not sure what we did. I know I really liked the big cities and I’d never been let loose in downtown Detroit so I probably wandered around everywhere and anywhere I could.

Before this trip all I knew about Calgary and the Calgary Stampede (which I think we missed by less than a week) could have been summed up in this story in the Uncanny X-men.

If you read X-men you are surely nodding your head in agreement. If you didn’t read X-men you scratching your head in confusion. I was HUGE into X-men at the time and I’ll always connect Calgary with this X-men/Alpha Flight crossover (Alpha Flight was the Canadian super-hero team that Wolverine was from).

Calgary Tower
Calgary Tower

From my journal:

8:00 pm – Went to dinner at the four seasons and then went up the Calgary Tower. Great view, took lots of pictures. Rough town, almost saw a fight a couple of times.

And here is a few of the photos from up high a little reflection from the windows but it’s bearable.

View from Calgary Tower

View from Calgary Tower

View from Calgary Tower
Views from the Calgary Tower.

The Calgary Stampede
I believe this is where they held the Calgary Stampede.

$1 commemorative coin for the Calgary Stampede.

While I was on this trip Canada was issuing a variety of $1 coins for certain events and locations. This one has Guy Weadick on it, not sure if they had multiple different ones for the Stampede for that year or just one person a year. For some reason these coinds felt more like collectables than our current 50 state quarters currently do. I though I’d gotten quite few on the trip but I can only find two…

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on July 1, 2013 No Comment

After another night on the train we eventually arrived in Edmunton, Alberta.

VIew from the Train

VIew from the Train

VIew from the Train

FYI, the slide scanning was done at CostCo and I’m not really impressed but the quality. Yes, the slides are old but they were stored in plastic bags that were tied shut and stored in a box. But it’s CostCo, I probably could (and should) have gotten a refund and tried them somewhere else.

In Edmunton we stayed at the Sheraton Caravan. Most of the hotels we stayed at on this trip were pretty nice, if I recall correctly.

It was Canada Day so I mentioned that “most stores were closed”. But I did buy a poster at a mall, but I have no idea what kind. Was it of Edmonton or nothing to do with the trip at all?

I have an assortment of key souvenirs from this trip.

From my “journal” which is really just some pages of loose-leaf paper –

Noon: Explored the city when we were supposed to go on tour because others were late. Turns out everyone eryone else didn’t go on tour either. Found LOTS of arcades. (If I recall correctly, I think some of the kids took off since we were tired of waiting, but since the tour fell through, I don’t think we got in much trouble).

Later on that day we went up to the observation floor of the of Telus Plaza which was called Vista 33 and it also happened to be a telephone museum. I really don’t remember much from the telephone museum, but I obviously thought it was cool enough to purchase two of the souvenir coins they had. I was into tech then, so I’d have thought it would have made more of an impression. Speaking of tech, I’d had my first computer job all lined up for my return. As soon as I got back I was to start work at the Family Computer Center selling computers and teaching classes (which was owned by the same folks who owned The Doll Hospital and Toy Soldier Shop).


I specially mentioned that it was a “great view but I only had my 110 pocket camera” so this means there are more photos than just the slides that I have. I know where there are a few B & W prints from the 33MM camera, but I wonder where those shots from the pocket camera are?

We did a “tour” of town via subway which I thought was “stupid” and since I generally (at least now) like trains and subways I’m assuming it was stupid in that it was something put together quickly to make up for the earlier screwed up tour and it wasn’t much of a tour.

The other thing that I remember is there seemed to be huge amounts of construction of tall buildings downtown here and in Calgary (we go there tomorrow). This made a huge impression on me, Detroit had a lot of tall buildings by where I lived (Berkley and the surrounding area) most building were only one to three floors, tall buildings were the exception, there were lots in these cities. Even now in Detroit if you go up in a tall building there are so few tall buildings in the distance you can generally figure out where the are located.

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on June 30, 2013 2 Comments

We had a four hour break from the train in Winnipeg (the capitol of Manitobe) and listed as “where the prairies begin” (that’s from my trip notes). I wrote:

We stopped in Winnipeg (still taking train). A big city, but not much interesting and we took a tour by bus.

I know I talked a lot as a kid, but I guess I didn’t write a lot!

VIA Train passenger
This was one of the people on our trip, I remember them but don’t ask me their name.

Speaking of the people on the trip: There were ten boys about my age and if I recall correctly most seemed to be spoiled kids where were probably sent away to get rid of them for the summer. There were about 40 adults and I think they were mostly (but not all) retirees. The adults seemed kind of well traveled about two-thirds were married and traveling together. I didn’t realize this at the time but all of the adults traveling alone were women, some were marked “Ms.” and some “Mrs.”, not sure if the latter were windowed or they left the men at home.

Bear sub statue
I’m sure I thought this statue was cute then, since I still do now!

The sculpture of the cubs looks to be something of Leo Mol and may now be located in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden which opened after I took this photo. It looks a lot like Bear Cubs (1976) or Playful Cubs (1975); those two are so similar it may be one of them or another similar one (thanks to Nancy for pointing this out in the comments).

church winnipeg
Saint Boniface Cathedral is a link to Wikipedia, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Thanks to Nancy for identification of this too and a link to Wikipedia.

I guess my high point of the day was when I was playing Bingo and “won a VIA key chain bottle opener”. I do remember winning something playing Bingo, but I don’t remember the keychain at all and it’s not in my box of souvenirs.

If anyone can identify the items in these photos better, please do! Especially if you know I’ve got them labeled in the wrong city!

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on June 29, 2013 No Comment

So yesterday we boarded “Canada National’s Finest Train” The Super Continental. While the route goes across most of Canada, we will get off at Edmonton.

The Super Continental
Map courtesy of Wikipedia.

We’re on the train for a few days and we sleep on it, on the 29th I said that the “breakfast food was OK”. I cannot believe I don’t have a picture of one of the sleeper units. It was the old fashioned kind of sleeper where you pulled the curtain closed. They were stacked two high. We were on a few different trains, maybe I have a photo from later on (I can’t even find a good representation on-line).

VIA Train Bench
Why would I even take a picture of one of these couches on the train and not the sleepers?

The trains were Canadian National (you’ve seen the CN logo on trains, right?) but trains were labeled “VIA” that was the passenger trains distinction (I think that was still relatively new at the time).

View from the dome car in the train.
View from the dome car in the train.

We basically spent all of June 29th paying games and talking about plans for the trip to the Canadian Rockies (and Alaska). On our off time, we probably ran around the train checking everything out from end to end.

We did make a quick 20-minute stop in the town of Hornepayne, Ontario which I wrote was a “pretty small dull town”. It probably had a population of under 2,000 at the time and as of 2011 has a population of 1050, so maybe my evaluation wasn’t too far off!

(See, I told you the first few days were going to be a little boring).

If you’re reading this post out of context, this is me re-journaling a trip to Alaska from when I was a kid. You might want to click the “trip to Alaska” link and go to the bottom and read them in order. I’m posting each entry on the same day that it happened years ago.

Written By: Gary on June 28, 2013 No Comment

So when I was a kid, I had the opportunity to go on a trip through Canada and on to Alaska and (sort of) back through the US. This was a big deal in my house, I didn’t get sent away to camp for the summer (maybe a week with scouts) or even on my own for any trips, this was huge for me. My Mom knew I was interested in Alaska from books (all I can think of off hand is The Hardy Boys – The Mystery at Devil’s Paw), television and school, she saw a newspaper article about this local teacher who did a tour every summer with seniors and teenage boys. I grew up with my single Mom who worked her butt off at a local grocery store and while this trip was a decent price, I still understood it was a lot of money; plus, I had to earn and pay for a third of it (or a quarter?). But the trip looked amazing, it was clearly one of those once in a lifetime opportunities and was probably supposed to build character helping the seniors with their luggage and other things.

This is that story of that trip. I’ve got photos (actually, mostly slides that were recently scanned) some (sometimes poorly written) journal entries by a 15-year old me and some other odds and ends that I’ll include. I might make a mistake or two with photos in the wrong order and me having to make some of my best guesses (but I’m pretty sure I’d kept the photos in order). Keep in mind that I don’t have as many photos as the cRaZy number that I would take these days since they wren’t digital back then.

The trip started on June 28 at empty parking lot in Pleasant Ridge where we all met and got on the bus to Windsor, Canada where we would catch the train to Toronto, Canada. My experience on busses were probably limited to school trips (maybe something with the boy scouts?) and I probably hadn’t ever been on a train at this point in my life.


A picture out of the window of the train.
(I’m guessing that’s Toronto in the distance?)

Some tall building I must have thought was cool since I took several pictures (none were very good).

We had a few hours to kill in Toronto while waiting for the train. So we wandered around and saw a few things and spent some time at an amusement park called Canada Place, the weird thing is that I don’t really remember Canada Place from any of my trips to Toronto the following few years and it looks like it’s still around.

CN Tower
Toronto’s CN tower which I really thought we went up in it, but since I don’t have any pictures, maybe we didn’t.

This ship was docked nearby (at the carnival?)

I promise the adventures get more exciting after the first few days since they are mostly transportation to get to other places and I didn’t do much with my journal the first 5 days…

Written By: Gary on March 31, 2012 One Comment

It’s World Backup Day! It’s not that you should only backup once a year, it’s an awareness day. So I guess it should be called “Backup Awareness Day”. But seriously, you should backup your important documents and photos all the time. Why? Because you’ll be very sad / upset / angry when you lose those files. Please notice, I said “when”, not “if”. Moving your photos to a different device (and deleting off the computer) is not a backup, it’s the only copy. Multiple copies is alwaysrecommended!!!


If it’s an important document, save multiple copies. If it’s your resume (CV), save it as “Resume March 2012” so that you’ve got previous versions of the file if something happens. If you’ve made massive changes to that document, just e-mail a copy to yourself; the copy in your mail account is an off site backup. When I do new technology plans (100 page documents) I save new versions every few hours, I don’t want to think I moved those 10 pages from section 7 to section 5 and realize later I never pasted them, I can go back and get an earlier version of those pages later.

If it’s photos, don’t wait until your camera is full, that’s the only copy of those photos, if you lose the camera, it gets stolen, or something else weird happens, you lose all those photos!!! Even uploading them to a site like Walgreens, Costco, Kodak or wherever you might send your photos is a backup (it’ll cost to get your photos out, but at least they aren’t lost); these places don’t guarantee that they’ll keep your photos but they do want you to share them and print more copie$ of them, just be sure you’re uploading the largest possible size photos. Facebook is not good for this, they do not keep high quality versions of the photos, they will not be good for printing later.

Every so often back your documents and photos up to multiple DVD (standard DVD’s hold more than 4 GB) and make multiple copies; once you’ve got them sorted making five copies isn’t much harder than making one copy. Keep a copy at your Mom’s house or at your kids house or in your safe deposit box. You don’t want all the copies at the same place in case there is a fire and they all burn down. Then you can delete these photos from the cloud and you’ve got more space for more photos.

The last few versions of the Macintosh OS will back up to an external drive via Time Capsule and you can go back in time and look at what version was on the computer at a particular time (it’s very cool and easy).

There are off site services you can use (I use Dropbox).

Syncing your photo to your computer generally backs up the phone numbers, calendar, photos and more. The latest version of the iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) will back up automatically daily to the iCloud if you wish; the problem with this is it’s an all or nothing option when you want to restore.

All photos that you take with your iPhone or iPad get automatically backed up to the iCloud. These then show up on your computer in the iPhoto Photo Stream. If you import from a camera to iPhoto, it automatically puts those photos in the Photo Stream and you can see them on all the devices you’ve synced with the iCloud (including your AppleTV). It only keeps the last 1,000 photos and doesn’t keep any videos, but it’s a partial backup. So this is an automatic download that I get have in the cloud too.

Backing up is especially important if your main computer is a portable device. You can earlier drop or have stolen your laptop or tablet, you need those files backed up!

Written By: Gary on November 2, 2011 No Comment

Having a phone that works internationally is great in case of an emergency. The problem is that when you’re in another country calls are $2.29 to and from the United States, even if you don’t answer the phone, you’re billed for as long as it rings. I found this out a few trips ago, I only avoided the charges when I could show my chat transcript that indicated I was trying to disable everything and not pay anything.

att-logo.jpgDisclaimer: The tips below are not for someone who wants to make a lot of calls and be reachable at all times, they’re for the person who can wait until later to return the calls. Also, I do not work for AT&T, this is how I do it and it appears to work for me, billing terms may change. You are responsible for verifying that everything works this way for your account! None of this requires any hacking or jail breaking to do these things, I have a free Google Voice account set up (it’s sort of like Skype) and it’s set to forward my phone calls to my cell number.

Texting – On AT&T I receive texts internationally for free, I can send back to the United States for 50 cents (I’ve never tried to send from another country to the country I’m in, I’ll check that next trip). If I want to reply to a text it’s 50 cents but if I want to send a photo with the text, I believe it starts to use data and you’ll be billed for it (probably the same applies if someone sends you a photo). If I need to text someone in the US, I pay the 50 cents or I find WiFi location and use Google Voice to send and receive texts (it’s like a chat at this point), I can use the iPhone App or the Google web site. If I miss a sent Google Voice text message, it forwards it to my e-mail (so I always tell people to initiate a chat via my actual cell phone number).

Phone calls – Before I even leave the US, I turn off my 3g data and forward my AT&T calls to Google Voice (I do this from the iPhone settings), so my calls never even get sent out of the country. Google Voice is smart enough to not forward it back to my cell if someone calls, it just dumps them into GV voice mail. This way I can carry a working phone with me and if I have an emergency I can make a call.

google-voice.jpgIf someone calls, GV will e-mail and text me the message (with text recognition transcription) so I know they called and if it’s a good transcription, I even know the topic. Then I can decide if I need to work my way to somewhere with WiFi or make a $2.29 a minute call on my phone. Otherwise, I just check the voicemail the next time I’m on the computer or have Wifi on my iPhone or computer (with Skype or GV). From outside the country to call the United States or Canada, GV charges 2 cents plus a penny a minute (I pay Skype $3 a month for unlimited calling to the US from anywhere).

Data – AT&T significantly dropped their international roaming data plan charges this past summer, I might give a small package a try on my next trip. Don’t forget Onavo can save you money on your data plan.

Written By: Gary on August 7, 2011 10 Comments

I always love Chicago, I’ve had incredible luck with the weather when you consider the number of times I’ve been there and it’s almost always a different experience than the last time I was there. That’s not to say I don’t do some of the same things: I bike or rollerblade, I get ribs at SRO and I hit the Apple Store; after all, I am a creature of habit (habits?). And with all the people there, you can’t help but spend some time people watching…


This little girl was sitting right on the edge of the pier(?) looking into Lake Michigan. There were a few other kids with her and they were all pretty peaceful down there by the water, there is a beach not far away and I think they’d been there for a while (some were wet and I’m pretty sure they hadn’t jumped off the edge there). This photo was taken almost right behind the Adler Planetarium.


It was a nice day but it was hot out, these people were out relaxing during their lunch. This is downtown Chicago at State Street and Wacker Drive and the river is just out of sight to the left. I’d been relaxing in the shade by the water and didn’t even realize how the big steps were benches and grass until I’d gone up those stairs.


There were people running, walking, biking and blading everywhere (mostly along Lake Michigan). It was really hot when this runner was out and it was still early in the day but there were still lots of people out. You can see the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier in the background.


Yeah, I know I title this “People in Chicago” but there are some tiny people in the distance in it. In the distance you can see Chicago in the distance. From the left we’ve got Navy Pier, the Hancock Building, Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) and to my right (not in the photo) across the road is the LIncoln Park Zoo (to give you a frame of reference as I try to do with my photos).

This is my 31 photos in 31 days photo for today.

Written By: Gary on June 22, 2011 No Comment

So when driving during rush hours, I listen to WWJ 950 AM for traffic reports on the 8’s. But the don’t get a chance to report every problem every report and sometimes I miss the last report as I’m walking out the door. So I also subscribe (for free) to Traffic.com (which is run or sponsored by NAVTEQ) and they send me text alerts during the time frame that I select (Usually about the hour before I need to be there). Usually if they don’t send me one, the ride is pretty good, so it’s been very helpful. If they do send me one, I pay attention to the on-ramp before I get on the highway or if they say it’s really bad, I’ll take an alternate route.


It’s just traffic for the expressway part, and they think I have 9 minutes on the express way and there is a 2 minute delay (total 11). I think they’re being generous, my experience is to double or triple the number they use for the delay; plus, it’s never 9 minutes on the expressway unless it’s the middle of the day or late at night.

As you can see there is a number to call and there is also a mobile web site at mobi.traffic.com, but I’ve never used those. For me, the text is just enough to tell me that if I’m in a hurry that I might have some delays. But I have a relatively short ride, when there is no traffic, it’s just during rush hour that it stinks, and I’ve got limited options.

They’ve also got an Traffic.com iPhone app (and an ad-free version for $3) and one for Blackberry.

I can see my routes (from the web site) on the iPhone app and it tells me how bad the traffic is. This is helpful for routes that I take often, but not often enough to where I want text messages. I use this for for a quick glance when heading to the doctor’s office after work so that I’m not late.

The thing is, when it texts me, I remember; when I have to look at the app, I forget…

Written By: Gary on January 20, 2011 No Comment

So one of my essentials for travel is an Immersion Heater, I stick it in a glass with some water and in a few minutes I’ve got hot water. It’ll boil water if you want, there’s no moving parts and it’s really easy to use. I think it’s just for water, some bad reviews talk about other liquids, but I’ve never tried it with anything but water; I’ve never considered anything but water.

You can use it for heating up water for tea or coffee or whatever. NORPRO 559 Immersion Heater for Warming Liquids NorproI initially got it for heating up water for my Netty Pot, sometimes the hot water when traveling isn’t warm enough (or I don’t want to use tap water if it’s somewhere I wouldn’t drink the water).

But since I’ve got it with me, sometimes I’ll use it for heating up some instant soup or Ramen-in-a-cup for a snack when traveling. I’m trying to think of what else you can just add boiled water to: instant oatmeal(?), instant soups + noodles, instant potatoes (but that sounds boring), Mac and Cheese (I think Kraft makes a just add hot water?) and if you had a fridge to store them, you could probably boil an egg.

You’ve got to remember to unplug it before you remove it from the cup of water or it’ll burn out (or something) and watch it when you’re using it because if it boils all the water away it’ll stop working permanently. The one I’ve got has lasted a long time but I’ve let it boil down pretty far before when I’ve forgotten about it; I actually travel with a spare, just in case.

Written By: Gary on December 30, 2010 One Comment

So sad to be leaving the sunshine and my waterfalls :(

But it’s time to go back to Michigan.

Written By: Gary on January 29, 2010 One Comment

I like the Friday Question #98 for this week: What hobbies would you pursue if money was of no concern?

The first thing I thought was “Does travel count as a hobby“? But since KIm listed travel as hobby I figured it was okay to use…

Clouds Treo 111008 001So I’ll talk about travel as my topic. For me, the most expensive part about traveling is the getting to the destination. I can be pretty happy about staying somewhere cheap and out of the way but it’s getting there. Even when I get to Costa Rica and I can usually pay about $300-ish for my flight it’s still the getting around in country that costs money.

So even when I get to my isolated places and find a cheap place to stay. It’ll cost me more to rent a scooter or 4-wheeler for the day compared to the hotel; heck a bicycle rental is half the price of a hotel. Some other things to do on a trip like a horseback ride of out to an island where you can snorkel is more than the hotel too. As vacations go, these are cheap things to do ($35-$40 a day) but when that’s exceeding your other big costs you start to notice.

I guess if the money was of no concern I might stay at nicer places and in bigger cities but I’m pretty happy in some little town by the water or up in the mountains somewhere.

I guess photography and videography would be another hobby, since I love to do that. The problem is that just ends up with more stuff for me to carry around with me when I travel. And I guess for $5,000-$8,000 I could buy more than everything I need (multiple cameras and lens of different types and two different sized video cameras) and be done with it for more than a few years. Travel is a lot more expensive over the long haul.

I guess I just need a job that lets me travel, write about it and shoot lots of photos and video!!!

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2008 2 Comments

So I think part of what makes Costa Rica (and other places I’ve traveled to in the world) so interesting to me is the learning that’s going on. Just going into a restaurant is a new experience, almost like when your parents let you order your own food for the first time. And many other basic things becomes a learning experience.

In Costa Rica if you don’t ask for the check (la quintaff cuenta) they’ll never bring it to your table. In England, in a pub, you have to go up to the bar in order to get drinks or food and many places will let you sit until you figure it out. It’s part of the fun at least to me it is.

When I travel, I don’t just want the sights, I want the learning that goes with it. I’ll hit the local places off the beaten path specifically to figure things like that out. In Costa Rica, taking the bus (the bus another post to come) or getting a driver’s license is an experience that lets you figure out how things work in that country. I find all those parts particularly interesting and enjoyable…

UPDATE: Usually, I don’t update a post as much as I’m about to…
But I’m reading a Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson, a humourous book about traveling in Europe. And he said.

Bill Bryson Quote

And I just thought that kind of exactly fit what I was saying a few days ago.

I’m going to change the date on this so it floats up to the top, so if you saw it already, you’ll see it again for the new content…

Written By: Gary on November 13, 2008 No Comment

So I scheduled a shuttle bus (a large van) from San Jose to Montezuma. Last night I confirmed all the details:

  • 8:20 pickup at my hotel. I guess they don’t pickup at all, but they pick up at mine.
  • I’m going to Montezuma
  • Approximate arrival time. She said 3 PM, which seemed really late, so I asked how many people were being picked up after me. She said “none” (I double-checked this and was told I was the only one going to Montezuma). I was excited because I would get the front seat, the back seat makes me a little nauseous, especially in Costa Rica.

    Ib LogoThe “Really Good” is their actual motto. I’m not sure if it was originally translated strangely and it stuck or if it’s how they were really rated on a survey or what, but I laugh every time I see their signs…

    They were actually there early. And of course there was someone else on the bus. And we were picking up 3 more people (2 stops). But, it turns out they were going to different places. Here’s the process on how it worked:

  • Pick me up (semi-English speaking guy).
  • 2 stops to pick up others.
  • Stop in Punteraeous and put me on a different shuttle (they were already waiting for me) with 6 others (who were going to get dropped off in Tambor about 10 miles before I was. Driver was non-English speaking guy.
  • Before the ferry boat another Interbus employee squeezes in (semi-English speaking guy).
  • At the ferry boat we all take our luggage off the bus and put it in a not-so-secure area on the boat. (The other bus turned around and went somewhere else with no passengers).
  • On the other side driver grabs a van he left there a few hours before from the people who were going the other way.
  • He drops everyone off at a hotel/resort in Tambor (Hotel Tambor?). Very nice!
  • He drops me off.
  • Ten minutes later I realize I don’t have my GPS, I was playing with it on the ride (an awesome birthday present from my Mom!).
  • After multiple transfers on the hotel phone (with hotel people translating) we realize it’s lying in the gutter next to where we parked when I got dropped off. Oops!

    All in all it was a great value! Only $39 (it’s $150+ for a cab). I didn’t wait anywhere, even the ferry was ready to board when we got there (not sure how long the Tambor people waited for me, but they then would have had to wait for the ferry). Air conditioned vehicles in pretty nice shape (each time I changed busses they got a little more worse for the wear).

    And I think I arrived at around 1:30 (maybe a little sooner). If traffic would have been worse out of San Jose (and it wasn’t great), it probably would have been a lot later since the next ferry probably wouldn’t have been for hours.

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