Monthly Archives: August 2012

Travel Technology – The On the Way App

Ever have to take a really long, boring road trip?

I bet later on (months later) you were puttering around on the internet and found out there were things you would have loved to have seen and done nearby. You then get the bitter taste of regret.

Well this new website looks like it could solve that issue, pointing out cool and fun stuff on your route.

The On The Way App just has you put your start and end points into your web capable mobile device or tablet and sets you up with a kick ass road trip. It isn’t an App per say; just a really cool travel website. That being said, it looks handy.

Check it out! I’m going to give it a try this weekend.

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Filed under Commuter Travel, Restaurants worth the trip, Traveling Light

Hiking Trails – Fort Harrison, Indiana – Falls Creek and Camp Creek Trails

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So this week I find myself in Indianapolis, Indiana.

As I’m only here for a couple of days, I decided to get out and stretch my legs this morning early before work. I also wanted to take the Marmot Kompressor Plus 18L out for a walk to see how it held up compared to my usual traveling daypack (the REI Flash 18).

My initial impressions of Fort Harrison State Park were not good. There was a $5 fee per car entering the park. It was also the ONLY trail that wasn’t a paved multi-use (Bikes, rollerblades, etc) that I could find on AllTrails.com and it had not gotten stellar reviews.

I tracked 4.5 miles (7k) in about an hour and a half on these two interconnected trails, which are really one loop trail that is bisected by a multi-use paved path. Even at 8am, they were fairly busy.

All in all the trails combine for about a 4k hike. I looped back and did the Falls Creek trail again, coming back along the multi-use path as I just hadn’t stretched my legs enough at 4k.

Trail condition was fair, not good as the trails had grown over a bit and were not well maintained. More attention is being paid to the multi-use trails and local picnic shelters that this park is clearly designed for.

The trail itself was a rolling easy walk. The only interesting bits of elevation gain had actually be totally covered by a wooden boardwalk and stairs, which I was a bit bummed by.

So I had to pay for an only middling hike. I feel a bit bad for hikers in the city as the terrain was interesting but has been totally supplanted by a more multi-use park for dog-walkers, strollers, bikes and roller blades. A shame really, as some of the spur trails that ran paralel to the river were actually quite fun to ramble up.

Overall, if you’ve got the time to get outside the city a bit and find a better state park, then I would do so. This park is likely a great place for a picnic or to take the kids for a bike ride, but any technical hikers or trail runners will be really disappointed, especially for a pay park.

On a funny note…

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When I looped back this empty quart of Bourbon simply materialized on one of the bridges. It wasn’t there thirty minutes earlier the first time I passed. Someone was having a better time than me in that park! Parents with kids beware.

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August 29, 2012 · 7:20 am

Travel Pack – Marmot Kompressor Plus 18L

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One of the things I’ve found with the amount of travel I do is that if you’re going to have a Hobby, it better be light.

Now, I’ve got a lot of hobbies. A lot. But the one that packs down best and can go with me anywhere is hiking. You can wear boots or trail runners on the plane. You get to either stretch your legs early in the morning or clear your head after a days work. Better still, weekdays most trails are really peaceful.

As I like to do 5-10 miles when I go out (2-4hrs) it means I usually also pack a few essentials with me, JUST in case. These don’t take up a lot of room in my main commuter backpack.

The problem then, was the backpack. A 40L bag is perfect for a weeks travel for work. Its big for a 3-4hr hike.

Enter the summit bag. I own a few of these.

The term summit bag comes from mountaineering. It’s a light bag you can take from your basecamp to the summit, allowing you to leave the bulky gear like your tent, food and other camp gear behind along with your big heavy backpack. Typically they are frameless. I take them for backpacking as well as it allows me to do much the same, exploring the area around where I’ve set camp without needing to haul my 60L Osprey Aether with me.

The two I have are a waterproof Outdoor Research 25L bag and an REI Flash 18 travel pack.

The Outdoor Reasearch bag is great but airtight, large and has no hydration sleeve as it is designed to be waterproof with a roll top.

The Flash pack is a small 18L bag with a built in whistle, single stuff sack style opening and a small mesh organizer on the inside. It can be reversed to double as a stuff sack.

Both of these are great bags. The Flash 18 is the one which has operated the most with me when I travel as it can simply be a stuff sack inside my REI Vagabond 40.

Today I found this Marmot 18L Kompressor on sale at REI.

While it is the same pack volume as the Flash 18… it were the features which sold me on it.

Pack Features

– The bag completely inverts into a pouch that is the top lid of the bag.
– It has a top lid to keep out rain, etc.
– It has a closed foam pad which collapses in quarters and gives the back of the bag some structure, AND keeps your water bladder from sitting against your back.
– It has both external and internal organization pockets for your quick to reach essentials on the trail.
– It has side compressions straps to keep it from sagging, ice axe loops at the bottom, and does away with the useless waist strap a lot of these travel packs try to have.
– The reservoir pouch is separate from the main stuff sack top loading interior.

So basically, it will stow away in my REI Vagabond just as easily as the Flash 18 did, but is all around a more functional bag. I’m going to give it a run tomorrow (sans bladder, as I just packed my Platy soft bottle this trip) and see what I think.

It was on sale for $34.99 at REI this week, so I don’t know if it will be in production much longer. That being said, if you’re looking for a bag to act as a Daypack for Backpacking, Traveling or any other time you need to stash a smaller bag then this could be a winner for you.

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August 29, 2012 · 2:26 am

Hiking Trails – Castle Rock State Park, California

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While I was in the Bay Area I took an evening to stretch my legs. Nice little park south of San Jose up in the saddle mountains around the Bay.

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This photo is shot as the sun is going down in the west over the bay to my right. The fog was rolling in off the Pacific and it really was pretty spectacular. I imagine the views from up here are the best at sunrise and sunset, but bring a headlamp as the gap back to the parking lot gets dark almost an hour before sun goes down!

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While the air outside the redwoods was a comfortable 75 degrees, it was breezy and cool once you got to the windward face of the mountains.

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…the trail was beautiful on the way back.

Lots of folks Bouldering in the park. If you’re a climber or hiker or even photographer, this park is worth checking out. I went on a weeknight and it was very peaceful. I’m warned its VERY busy on weekends however, so caveat emptor.

All photos iPhone 4S!

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August 28, 2012 · 6:57 pm

Arrived alive

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In northern California. I love the mountains surrounding the coast.

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August 22, 2012 · 3:37 pm

Also…

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Hilariously, the newspaper in my cab had this add. I love Memphis for its commitment to student success.

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August 21, 2012 · 12:32 pm

Back in Motion

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This morning, NorCal. Here’s hoping I get to see some redwoods.

Packed an actual suitcase this time as I’m going through LAX (awful place to drag a bag) and plan on going hiking at some point this week (so my non fun to have as carry on stuff like a water bladder is in there.

Off I go!

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August 21, 2012 · 12:27 pm