Monday, December 8, 2008

Vegas Vacation

Traveling to Las Vegas
Two weeks ago on Nov. 14th two friends of mine, my fiancĂ©, and I decided to take a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, also known as Sin City. We flew out from the Indianapolis Airport via AirTran and took a direct flight, which was great to avoid layover times and the hassle of changing planes. A week prior to the trip I had an occurrence at work where a customer of mine was interesting in renting a projector which would connect to their Microsoft Surface. When I initially received this request I was a bit confused as to what exactly a “Microsoft Surface” was until I did a bit of research. It turns out that several hotels in Vegas use the Microsoft Surface and I decided then that I would have two missions while on my trip. One being to win tons of money, and the second was to find an actual Microsoft Surface. On one of my outings I found a little boy playing with a projected image on the ground and once I got a bit closer I realized he was trying to catch a fish. Once he touched the “fish” they would scatter and the “water” would splash all around him. He was playing with a virtual fish tank and he was interacting with it by using a Microsoft Surface. This was seriously one of the coolest things I had seen on my trip and would highly recommend this product to anyone going to a tradeshow or convention that would like to catch people’s eyes.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Traveling at Night

For some time now traveling on the highway at the wrong time of day has been bothering me. In particular the older I get the more I am annoyed by heavy traffic while traveling. The answer of course, which because of slowing reflexes and worsening eyesight is also harder enjoy with age, is simply driving at night when the roads are less congested.

This morning for example I had a great trip to the Columbus Airport. For us the drive was about 100 miles one way. If you have not been to the Columbus Airport you should know this pretty much requires a drive right though the middle of the city. Columbus at the wrong time of day can be a nightmare on the interstates. However we arrived on the outskirts of town around 4:30 a.m. and the traffic was delightfully almost nonexistent. Our flight departed at 6:00 so we had plenty of time to get to the Airport and get checked in.

Longer trips can also benefit from traveling late at night. My Father-In-Law for example departs his cabin in Tennessee, a 4 hour drive, at 2:00 a.m. every time he comes home. This gets him though Lexington and Cincinnati long before the morning rush hour commuters have even gotten out of bed. He admittedly dislikes traffic even more than I do. He is of course much older so I would not be surprised if I find myself at that level someday.

The only time I have trouble with this scheme is when the check-in time for the hotel and the travel time don’t work together nicely and I am forced to chose between traveling at night and arriving early or traveling during the day so as to arrive within an hour or so of an expected check-in time. One such problem is our trip to Destin Florida. A 12 hour drive with a typical check-in of 4:00 p.m. On the last trip we left at 4:00 a.m. and arrived at a good time for check-in but I had little time with the highway to myself. Perhaps next time we will shoot for a 9:00 p.m. departure and, if weather permits, simply hit the beach and nap till check-in time -- sounds good in theory anyway.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Destin Florida 2008

Florida summer 2008 283If you have read even a few of my other blogs you would know that Destin Florida is my favorite vacation spot. This year we traveled with my 6 year old son Nathan and my 12 year old step daughter Leanna.

Leaving from Middletown Ohio at 3:00 a.m. in the morning we made good time on the trip and with light traffic and great kids we had an enjoyable ride. Of course our favorite stop on the way down was the welcome center on I65 South right across the Tennessee border. If you have not traveled this way before you are missing one cool place to get out and "stretch". As of course Alabama is deeply involved in our space program it is fitting that their rest stop has an actual Saturn B-1 rocket.

Completing the trip in just over 13 hours, not sure what happened as we were expecting 12 hours, we were pleasantly surprised with our newly refurbished room at the Islander Condominium in Destin. On room on the seventh floor, was roomy, updated, and offered a great view of the gulf.

The water this year was again perfect. The light emerald green of the water is of course the the reason the area is called the Emeral Coast. One thing we noticed right away was the large school of minnows hugging the shore line. The schools were so large and dense that you would not from any distance believe that the large dark spots could actually be a bunch of fish. This of course gave the kids a constant source of entertainment as their efforts to catch them never ceased, nor did the efforts of some larger fish that often darted in and out of the school.

After four nights however it was time to head back, and I think we did pretty well with the condominiums recommendation to leave all technology behind and enjoy the view. My wife i think managed to get thought about 500 pages of her book, while I managed 5 pages but got a lot more wave time in. But of course we had high speed internet in the room and a nice 50 inch plasma that we seldom had time to turn on.

Speaking of hardware and technology on the way back we stayed in a very nice Hyatt in Nashville Tennessee. The room was amazing and the large screen plasma there had a custom built in connection panel in the side of the bookcase on which it was sitting. The connection panel allowed for the hookup of just about any device you could imagine and not just video devices.

There was however on problem with the trip that involved Orbitz and the Hyatt. As we had booked our Hyatt stay on Orbitz prior to leaving Destin we never thought twice about their "Price Assurance" and we thought our Orbitz rate of $159 for such a nice hotel so close to the Nashville airport was a good rate. Well we thought that until the Hyatt kiosk we used to checkout with gave us a receipt for $109. After several calls, e-mailing and a faxing of our Hyatt receipt to Obitz we have not heard back from anyone and we have had to dispute the charge through our credit card provider.

So if you take anything away from this post it should be that Destin Florida is still a great place for a trip if you live within 12 hours or so and that if you need a room, go ahead and call the property first to check rates before you just trust that some giant travel site will actually follow through with their low rate promises.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Nashville, Indiana Summer 2008

Carmel Corn Cottage in Nashville, Indiana.Needing to keep peace in the family I proposed a visit to the quaint little town of Nashville, Indiana yesterday. Not something I would normally suggest but if my wife and 12 year old step daughter don’t get their fill of shopping each week they get a bit edgy.

From our home in Middletown, Ohio Google maps reported the trip as being 135 miles and taking two and a half hours. However the Google Maps route had way to many turns and road changes for my liking so after zooming in a bit I jotted down a route that to me at least appeared much simpler.

Other then the construction heading south on I75, and that on I275 around the northern part of Cincinnati, the trip was what I would consider a relaxing drive.

After only two hours of driving and around 110 miles we pulled into town and as is my custom, took the first parking spot I saw. Though it had been about 12 years since I was last there the little town was not much changed from my last visit. The candle shop still had its giant squeaky wood door and it still bustled with people older than me smelling everything they could get their hands on. Gone however were the giant vats of candle wax behind the counter, where as I child I would stand in amazement watching as they would hand dip the candles over and over again to make all manners of colors and shapes.

Shortly after that we stopped in a little coffee shop where we ran into a co-worker and her friend. The co-worker who lives in Carlisle, Ohio apparently had the same idea about a one tank trip to Nashville, Indiana when she woke up that day. I chuckled when she mentioned they had used Google Maps that morning and it had gotten them lost. Though I had only jotted down the directions on scrap paper, which was really easy to do after deciding against the Goolge plan, I was somewhat comforted knowing my cell phone has access to the internet and of course those same great map programs that you should never count on.

After about 3 hours of t-shirt shops, candy shops, toy stores and lunch at the Sandwich Place, which has been stuck in the basement of the same old building for as long as I have been going over there, we took our bag of nick knacks and headed home.

The pictures for the trip were taken on my step daughter’s seven megapixel Olympus digital camera. I am not saying it’s a cheap camera but it is one that you might buy a 12 year old. My five megapixel Cannon did not make the trip because its battery charger recently died. Looking at the pictures after I uploaded them to my Andy Wendt Flickr account I could tell that despite the pixel advantage that a cheap camera has its draw backs.

Although we did not have time on this trip, if you enjoy the outdoors, the nearby Brown County State park is an excellent place for a picnic, or a hike if the time permits.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Welcome to our Blog on Traveling and Technology

Destin Florida 2007 - Man Catching Bait FishBorn of the desire to share photos, stories of traveling and the technology we use to make this all happen; we have created the Modern Traveling blog.

In the coming days and months I will be inviting both friends from real life and friends from this virtual world to post their stories and photos here. We will always have a focus on the cool places we travel to with a side of techno, involving the gadgets such as laptops, GPS device, etc, that help make the trip better. If you would like to post contact me anytime by leaving a comment here. Thanks again and enjoy the trip.

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