Monday, November 28, 2011

I-gotU portable GPS review

One of the things that I like to carry with me when I'm out taking photos is a GPS system about the size of a 9 volt battery.  It has its own rechargeable battery that you can charge either on your computer or with optional car charger you can charge it while you drive.

I'm not so good at writing down where I take my photos so sometimes I realize I'd like to go back and take a different photo but I'm not really sure where I was.  This little device helps me keep track of that.

What it does, after you charge it up of course.  Once you turn it on and get the signal that it has picked up the satellites it will record your movements every eight or so seconds.  So you can turn it on and walk around or drive someplace and take photos.  When you get home you can download the info into your computer and it will sync your photos to the time of your camera.  They both have to be set to the same time first.

You will also get a Google map of where you went, that you can share if you choose.

I've used it several times while on trips and I've enjoyed the results.  I have had a couple photos that were misplaced and I'm not sure how that worked out but I was able to figure out the real location easily.  I had taken photos in two different locations about a mile apart and for some reason the photo sync had me taking one photos at one location and the next photo about a mile away and then the next photo I was back to the first location.

Because of my bad documentation history and the desire to sometimes get back to an unfamiliar location this device works really well for me.  When I download the info onto my computer it is all there already.  If I want to go back I know how to get back by looking at a map and not just grid co ordinates.

You can check out the details at

Remember the worst photo is the one not taken.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Local artwork

I'm one of those people that is a sucker for local artwork when I'm traveling.  I lean toward small pen and ink or water color drawings.  I like art but can't draw so I look for unique pieces of art instead.  I like the smaller pieces of art because they go along with my post card collection but are a bit more intimate than post cards.  The smaller pieces of art also fit much better into my budget.  If you can get artwork from the artist then so much the better.  You'll have a unique piece of art from your trip along with a good memory of how you managed to get it into your possession.

My thing is that I tend to mail these pieces home.  If you buy art at an art store they may be willing to package it up for you so you can send it home safe.  Before I leave on vacation  I make arrangements with someone so I can send mail to them when I'm traveling.  This way I know that my purchase will be relatively safe.  I don't have to worry about putting it in my suitcase or where it is in the motel/hotel.

So if you get the opportunity to collect some art during your travels by all means do so.  It will be something to pass on to your kids along with the story of how it came into the family.

Take care be well.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pfalzgrafenstein Rhineland Pfalz

This is Pfalzgrafensteinburg is a toll castle on the Falkenau island, otherwise known as Pfalz Island in the Rhine river near Kaub, Germany. Known as "the Pfalz", this former stronghold is famous for its picturesque and unique setting.
I just recently learned that it is possible to visit this fort as it is now a museum.  You take a ferry from Kaub as long as river conditions permit.  If I ever get the chance to visit here again I'll be sure to visit the museum.
I took this photo from a lookout point along the highway between Bacharach and Oberwesel.  I was there in the winter so this is what I got.  I really like this fort.  It is painted in the baroque scheme.  It will pretty much depend on which side of the Rhine you travel on as to what kind of view you'll get.
General Blücher crossed the Rhine here on his way to help Wellington at the battle of Waterloo.
This stretch of the Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen is worth the visit.  You will see the Lorelei Cliff of German myth.  You can cross the Rhine at Bingen to visit the town of Rüdesheim am Rhein famous for its Asbach Uralt Brandy and chocolate candies.  I would recommend trying a Rüdesheimer Kaffee if you need to get the chill off.  Part of the experience is watching it being made.  It tastes good also.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Essential clothes to pack for a Vacation Part I planning

Part I packing clothes for less than and up to a week

Before I begin to pack for a trip I go through a mental list of things before I begin to pack.  We have some luggage that we bought a while back.  It is a matched set so there were several sized bags.  We could just about get the whole house into those bags.  Since then I’ve radically modified how and what I bring along on a trip.   I will vary my method of packing by what I figure out.  I’m just going to talk about clothes that are good to have available when traveling.  Whatever clothes you bring should be comfortable no matter method you are traveling.   Some of the things I think about are:

How long will I be gone? Weekend/ Less than a week/ two weeks/ longer than two weeks
Where am I going?  Visiting Family/ vacation trip/ Local / International
How am I traveling? Plane/ driving/
How much should I bring with me? I’ll typically pack enough clothes to last me about a week.  If I’m vacationing I don’t pack t-shirts.  I figure I’ll be buying some local t-shirts so I don’t need to pack any.

I have a core of basic clothes that I always take and they are;

Socks and uns
Shaving kit
Shirt with a collar plain white t-shirt
Rain Resistant wind breaker
Sweater or heavy flannel shirt

This small selection of clothes allows for several different contingencies.  I am a layer kind of guy so I either add or subtract as needed.  It doesn’t matter if I travel in summer I always bring something for inclement weather.  I remember the quote from Mark Twain: “The coldest day I ever knew was a summer night in San Francisco.”

I typically travel in jeans and t-shirt.  What I’m wearing on my feet will depend on if I’m traveling by car or plane.  If I’m traveling by car then I’ll wear comfortable shoes.  If I’m traveling by plane then I’ll wear a pair of house slippers to make it easier to get through the security check.

If I’m going to visit family and be gone for a few days then I’m not really overly concerned about how and what I pack.  If I’m driving I might just throw some clothes into a shopping bag along with my shaving kit and call it done.  If I’m flying I’ll put my clothes into a small suitcase, preferably one I can carry onto the plane.  That way I don’t have to worry about baggage claim when I get there.

If you are going to be traveling for more than a week you’ll need to think about doing laundry.  Hotel laundry services, while they can be convenient, are very expensive.

Next Part II
Packing clothes that will make you blend with the locals.

Music Instrument Museum, Phoenix

Phoenix has its own Music Instrument Museum.  So far I’ve only been there one time but I really enjoyed myself.  Included in the admission price is a headset you wear to listen to the instruments being played as you view the different exhibits.  You just need to stand in front of the instrument and it will play a sampling of selected music typically four different pieces.

The headset is practical for listening to instruments.  It does sometimes cause slight mishaps with other visitors as the volume is such that it tends to drown out approaching people.

The range and variety of instruments is very impressive.  The instruments are broken down into country groups in different halls.  This makes it easier to locate a particular type of instrument or country.

Taking of photos is allowed so if you wish bring your camera.

Parking is ample and free.

It can be a bit noisy as the floors are mostly wood or marble.

There is a very interesting display of mechanical bands.  These mechanical bands can be rather large and very intricate.

The Museum also hosts a variety music concerts.  I have yet to go but some of them seem rather interesting.

I did enjoy my first visit there.  The staff was pleasant and helpful.  I’ll visit again.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Traveling by car eating tips and hints

When I travel by car I try to figure out how to cut some expenses when I do.  Today's hotels and motels usually have at least a micro wave oven and a small refrigerator.  Many establishments now also offer some kind of breakfast.

I've figured that one of the biggest recurring expenses while traveling is eating.  Dining out can become rather expensive rather quickly.  So if you eat something at your hotel that means that you can get away with one more meal and a snack the rest of the day.  I've mentioned in previous posts that I bring a bag along with me when I travel by car.  I have some health issues and eating at a restaurant every day can really throw not only my budget but my system out of whack quickly.

I have a 24 quart cooler that I put in my car.  Usually I travel either by myself or with one other person.  This means if I don't get carried away packing clothes I have plenty of room for the cooler.  Keeping with my traveling light theory I don't put a lot of food in the cooler.  Several bottles of water, some yogurt, lunch meat and maybe a couple apples to start.  I have also a folding milk crate in my trunk where I put a few cans of soup, a loaf of bread.  The milk crate helps to keep things in one area so the trunk is easily packed.  I'll stop at a local store to get additional stores when I need them.

I have a small box that contains eating utensils, hand operated can opener and a kitchen knife.  I prefer regular eating utensils over plastic but you decide which you prefer.  Only one knife, fork and spoon per person.  I make sure that I put this into my folding milk crate.  I have some cheap microwaveable plastic storage bowls that I use to heat and eat my soup from.  Make sure that you have paper towels and toilet paper.  I never travel without toilet paper as it comes in very handy.  I keep some always in my back pocket, just in case.

Don't forget that in large chain grocery stores there is a deli section where you can get cold cuts, cooked chicken, ready made salads and cheese. Personally I try to stay away from getting food that will take up a lot of space in the garbage or that can't be cleaned out of the container easily.   I don't empty my food bowl into the sink.  Liquids in the sink solid leftovers in the trash.  This is why I have zip lock bags with me.  Helps to control any food odors and makes it possible to put leftovers in the trash.

I find that by eating in my room at night I eat a bit healthier and cheaper than in the restaurant. I think saving those little bits of change helps the trip along.