Travel Tech

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What technology will you not live without even if it means giving up valuable packing space?

I have to ask this question every time we are getting ready to set off on a new adventure.  There are a few things I won’t live without even it it means I will be packing one less pair of socks or package of beef jerky.

1) My cell phone.  This is an obvious choice.  It’s my lifeline and even if I can only communicate via text it’s better than nothing in an emergency.  It also doubles as my primary GPS device (off line) and has never let me down.

2) My iPad.  I love my iPad.  I have a keyboard case and use it much like I would a laptop.  In fact I am typing this blog on my iPad right now while sitting in the shade outside.  Eventually I would like to replace it with a MacBook or Laptop.

3) Amazon FireTV Stick.  It’s portable and since we have subscriptions to Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc it’s a great option to have movies or TV available when we are either relaxing or stuck indoors.

4) The GoPro is mounted to the bike or car dash whenever we leave on a new adventure.   I have extra batteries charged and ready to go and a selection of accessories to choose for any situation.   I shoot video while driving, during rest stops, at destinations.  It’s my go to camera for video.

5) A backpack battery.  The one I travel with is a xxxxxxx and can charge 3 devices at the same time and holds enough power to charge my iPad 3 times before needing recharged itself.    Charge the GoPro, MyFi, Phone all at once.

6) MyFi.   It’s the fast mobile internet connection what I can use where ever my signal drops or is non existent.  We have cell phone plans on separate carriers which I think is smart.  If you want a MyFi or similar device you want it to work where your normal coverage does not.

This may not sound like a lot but when you consider the cables, cases, and accessories that go with each it adds up to half of one storage compartment on the Spyder.   If we are traveling by car there will be a separate bag just for this stuff.

Oh and one other point of clarification, this doesn’t include Wendy’s list.  Even thought it’s smaller it’s just as important to her.

What’s on your must have travel tech list?  Let us know in the comments below.  We love reading them.

Until next time.

Sharing is Caring

Mark…

My GPS is amazing.  Dare to compare.

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GPS is now just as embedded in mainstream as cell phones.   Everyone has one and everyone uses one.  What’s your favorite GPS device, GPS software, or GPS feature?

There are so many options available for GPS and it can take a some time to research based on your specific needs.   There is GPS for street navigation, trail navigation, marine navigation, bikes, walking, even for commuter trains and subway directions.  My GPS was selected because of a list of specific requirements and I think it’s amazing.

I use the app Navigon on an iPhone as my primary GPS.   One of the selling points among many for me was “off line maps” which I can download and they are stored on the phone.   This means the application doesn’t need an internet/data connection to calculate and display directions for me.  Another feature that is used for every trip is the option to select the type of road to travel.   For instance I can set Navigon to avoid highways, toll roads, even residential streets for route calculation.   You can also pick the type of route with choices like Fast or Optimum, but the one most used for me is the Scenic option.    I will explain in a minute.   Another selling point was a choice of vehicle and motorcycle is one of those choices.

So here’s the scenario.   I wake up one morning and decide to pack up for the weekend and head south to the river where we will spend a few days camping on the shore.   I research and find a place to stay and then pull up the Navigon app.   I enter the address of our destination and select the options for avoiding highways, toll roads, etc.  I choose motorcycle as my vehicle and Scenic as my route option.    Then we pack up and head out.    What would have been 2 hours in a car on the freeway has turned into a scenic backroad country tour through rolling hills, farmland, lakes, small towns, and the occasional amish buggy.   4-5 hours later we arrive at our destination talking about what we had just seen and after a few days at the river we’re ready to do it again on the way home.  The entire trip I never had to worry about losing my map signal, traffic, speeding, rest areas and there was so much to see and do that a second trip was needed just to see it all.

I love my GPS.


 

Heading out early…

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My brother in PA is hosting all of us, my sisters’, Mom, all the kids’, friends’ and basically anyone who wants to join the fun to his house for the Holiday weekend.  When we all get together there is close to 30 with just family!  Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, and Pennsylvania are represented.  Due to this large gathering I of course am anxious to see everyone and arrive in Hermitage PA.

The trip is 238 miles one way (this is mapped through counties where I need courthouse photos and all back roads) .  In a car on the interstate it takes us no more than 3.5 hours to get from Columbus to Hermtiage… on the bike we are looking at 9 – 12 hours!  🙁

I had everything completely packed and ready to go early of course.  I got the brilliant idea – LEAVE A DAY EARLY!  I started looking for decent priced hotels about half way through the ride and discovered Cadiz, Ohio had a new Microtel & Suites.  I sent a text to Mark with my brilliant idea of leaving as soon as he got home from work.  My coersion worked!

We hit the road by 4pm Thursday June 30th.  We traveled through Coshocton and New Philadelphia and ended in Cadiz.  We had a great 130 mile trip and discovered a new lake we wanted to visit at some point.

Lake Tappan in Harrison County is absolutely beautiful.  The lake is surrounded by Ohio size mountains and fully wooded.   Mark that on our list of must go back to!

 

 

 

 

Summer 2016 Vacation

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The summer of 2015 after our many motorcycle adventures we decided we wanted to visit the New England states the summer of 2016 all the way to Maine and back.  We figured we would take 2 weeks and leave immediately from the 4th of July gathering at my brother’s in PA.  In April/May I started looking at the trip more closely and WOW!  A two week vacation with hotel, food and gas was going to cost at a minimum of $3,500!!!  CHANGE OF PLANS!

With our many adventures last summer we have found there is so much  in our own state of Ohio we have not seen and in some cases, didn’t know existed!  We talked and decided let’s just do an extended Ohio trip – usually we do 2, 3 or 4 days.  Now the planning begins.  When do we go?  Where do we go?  East?  North? South?  West and Southwest are done.

We decided July was the time we would go.  Where?  It seems East and South/Southeast we are lacking a lot of counties as well as North – we’re going east and South/Southeast.

In looking at our July schedule we see we have my brother’s family gathering in PA from July 1st to July 4th.  I map out a route to get from Columbus to Hermitage PA to knock out some counties to the East.  We had made camping plans with our besties Doug and Erica and their family July 6th – 8th.   Next on our calendar is mid-July we have Mark’s family reunion in Warren.  OK.  Let’s start in Columbus, head northeast towards Warren, stay the weekend then head south Monday morning!

Where we going to stay?  We have always loved camping.  I begin looking at State Parks.  It will be mid-July and way too hot to stay in a tent not to mention the hassle of setting up each day and taking down.  Doesn’t sound like a vacation to me!  I narrowed the search to State Parks with camper cabins and A/C!

I map out the entire trip and what park we will stay in each night.  Done you think?  No!  I look at everything more closely over the next few days.  I see that some days we drive 100+ miles and a couple of days we drive 60 miles from park to park.  Let’s see if I can find a centrally located park!  The benefit would be we get there, unpack and hopefully stay a few days and just make that park our starting point each day and if we decide we don’t want to do anything – we don’t do anything!

All the route planning and overnight stays are planned!  Now the list making starts!  What clothes we are packing, what will be our meal plan each day, what grocery trips we make for the days we are cooking, etc etc etc.

Each day is documented for both trips so you will have to read on!

 

Huge family cruise

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My sisters’ and I have talked for years about getting our entire family to go on a cruise.  My sisters’ along with my Mom have gone on 3, maybe 4, together but have missed having our husbands’, brothers’ and kids’ along to enjoy the hilarity we often get into.  Every time we attempted one brother said “NO!  he would not go on a cruise!”, another brother found difficulty getting off of work, hurdles everywhere so we gave up each time we tried.

In February Mark and I decided we were going on a cruise in 2017.  We decided we were doing an 8 day aboard the Carnival Magic and now it was time to pick the date we wanted to go.  We had chosen June because I would be off for the summer and Mark has plenty of vacation.  I wanted the 8 day that included going to Aruba so we had our date chosen since the itinerary for the Magic rotates and only does Aruba every few weeks.   All the details were finally worked out and what do I do?  I send a group text to the family saying “hey, Mark and I are going on a cruise and here are the details”.  2 of us going on a vacation by ourselves has now turned into 26!!    Mark, myself, our three kids’, two sisters’, two brothers’, Mom, spouses, nieces, nephews, close friends of Mark and I along with friends of  all the kids!  We are going to have a blast and truthfully I don’t regret for a second opening our vacation up to friends’ and family!

This large of a group of course then turned into a few hurdles.  Some couldn’t get off work the week we originally wanted to go – no Aruba for me.  🙁   The next hurdle was finding a location on the ship that we could get all of our cabins together.  I spent 2 days doing mock bookings with everyone’s cabin request (interior or balcony) and which cabin has 2, 3 or 4 berths.  After finally finding basically our own section of the ship with the correct cabin openings I then spend an hour on the phone with a Carnival PVP (Personal Vacation Planner) getting everyone assigned to a cabin.   Now everyone has to go online or call the PVP to make their own deposit and confirm their booking within 24 hours and surprisingly all followed directions and got their part done!

You would think the planning was complete but nope!  Out of the 26 only 9 actually live in the state of Florida.  The remaining 17 of us will be traveling from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado.  I myself will not fly or drive and arrive the same day as the cruise departure.  We have personally been affected by travel delays when flying in the day of departure and luckily had booked our flights through Carnival so they made all of the arrangements to get us to the ship on time.  I have also heard all of the horror stories from the numerous cruise groups I belong to.

I immediately started a search for a hotel with cruise and park.  Mark, myself, our kids and friends will be driving to Port Canaveral Florida.  We have used Cruise & Park multiple times where you stay at a hotel the night before your cruise and you can leave your car in their secure lot while on the cruise.  This usually is much cheaper than paying for a hotel and then also paying for your car to be parked at the cruise terminal.  The hotel then provides you transportation to/from the cruise terminal and is much faster than parking yourself.   Searching for a hotel 16 months before needed turned out to be a bit more difficult than I expected.  Only one hotel actually responded to my request since it was so far away from the date needed. Getting a straight answer from everyone on their arrival date seems to be more difficult than the actual cruise planning.

I created a Facebook event for those going on the trip and I update the event page with excursions and any news about the Carnival Magic ship.  Every once in a while I will post the countdown or an excursion that may be of interest.   With so many people we will not be doing many excursions together.  Mark will be diving at each port – that is the plan anyway and anyone else certified may go with him.

Mark and I chose to do the CanAm Spyder rental while visiting St Maarten and it seems that almost all 26 of us will be going on that excursion.  Look out St Maarten!

My travel OCD was in full swing for the first month after booking and I started printing the luggage tags which I will laminate for everyone, started a binder for the trip which will eventually include all boarding passes and health screening forms as well as excursion info.  I have since cooled off and quit thinking about it.  Luckily we had a busy summer with lots of motorcycle trips and fun stuff so I had something else to plan.

 

 

What’s it like to drive a Spyder?

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If I had a quarter for every time someone has asked me what it’s like to drive a CanAm Spyder RT I would have 2 Spyders.  😉  Seriously though I get asked this question a lot and I can’t help but smile every time.   I just wish I could let everyone go for a ride to experience the fun factor but I can’t so I have to try to explain it to them.

I’ve driven motorcycles, snow mobiles, three wheelers (old style), 4 wheelers, jet skis, boats, and all sorts of cars, trucks and campers from fast convertibles to Class A RV’s.    The Spyder is kinda in a class by itself.   It steers similar to a quad, handles like a car, drives like a motorcycle, feels like a combination of snow mobile, convertible, and motorcycle.   If I had to make a comparison to just one I would pick the 4 wheeler because of the steering.    What everyone wants to know is what it’s like to have 2 wheels in the front.   The Spyder doesn’t lean into a corner so there is some centrifugal force which causes the Spyder to lean out of the corner.    This can feel very strange to someone who is used to riding motorcycles but it’s familiar to riders of 4 wheelers.

The comfort is top of the line.  Even Honda Goldwing owners have complimented the comfort of the seat.   The rider position is straight up with knees bent at almost 90 degrees.   There’s plenty of “wiggle room” in the seat and I have never had a sore butt after a long day driving.   There is ample room for the passenger and plenty of options to add for rider comfort.

The aerodynamics are like a rhinoceros.  It plows though wind, and inclement weather.   I have never felt worried with side winds, or the occasional head wind from a passing truck.  I have driven the Spyder in the rain and have had no issues.   Large puddles can be avoided and standing water is a no-no, but that’s the same for any vehicle.   It seems to me that the faster the Spyder goes the more stable it is.   This is just my assumption, but the front end is so large and has such a strange aerodynamic curve that the head wind seems to push the front end down giving more stability and traction to the front wheels.

The Spyder is also packed full of technology that you normally find in automobiles.   Brembo anti lock brakes, Sachs shocks, intelligent traction control (Vehicle Stability System), 6 speed semi automatic transmission, Bluetooth 4 audio and intercom, 1200 watt alternator, liquid cooled dual radiators, electronic adjustable windshield, cruise control, ECO mode, and more.    It also has an engine that can satisfy with speed and torque.  The Rotax 1330 inline-triple is capable of a top speed of  117 MPH and it has a tow rating of 400 lbs.  It has a 6.9 gallon tank and can achieve 36 MPG.

The storage is another thing we love.    41 gallon capacity across 4 compartments.  The front compartment being the largest.   We can and have stored 5+ days of clothes and toiletries for our travels just on the Spyder.   It’s super convenient to have everything we need for a few days on the Spyder with us and not on our person.

BUT what do I really say when someone asks me “What’s it like to drive a Spyder?”  I smile and tell them that it’s a heck of a lot of fun!   You should go test drive one if you get the chance.   You will experience first hand what I am talking about.

If you have any experience with CanAm Spyder’s or motorcycles tell us what you think in the comments section below.   We love reading what you have to say.

Take care, until next time….
Sharing is Caring.