Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Last year at this time I was about to enter the first blog of my year off.  It has been a great year.  Just a glimpse back at some of my posts, I am having a hard time putting the whole year into words.  This year I had the opportunity to dive with the sharks on the Great Barrier Reef, see some amazing sites in Australia, stand along the side of a volcano in Nicaragua, help build a school for children, travel to Cuba on a family vacation, celebrating  my 40th in Chicago with a great friend, among other great adventures.  As it is now Labour Day, I am sitting here doing some reflecting and thinking how lucky I am to have experienced what the past 12 months have held. It would not have been possible without the language in my collective agreement that allows me to defer a percentage of my salary each year leading up to the year off.  I will say that if you have the opportunity at your job, and can make it work financially, then it is worth it for sure.  I have already started thinking and vaguely planning for my next adventure which will hopefully start in September of 2017.  Here are a selection of photos from this year.

First Day of What?

First Day of What?

Trained for and completed the Colours 5k run in Bancroft.

Trained for and completed the Colours 5k run in Bancroft.

Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Opera House.

Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Opera House.

Koala

Koala

Holding a baby wallaby

Holding a baby wallaby

Sydney Harbour Bridge at Night

Sydney Harbour Bridge at Night

At the wax museum in Sydney

At the wax museum in Sydney

Great Barrier Diving

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Rafting the Tulley River

Rafting the Tulley River

wpid-DSC_0154.NEF_.jpg

Random Beach in the Daintree Rainforest

Hiking in the Outback

Hiking in the Outback

Meeting new wild friends in Tasmania

Meeting new wild friends in Tasmania

Diving in Cuba

Diving in Cuba

Relaxing on the beach in Cuba

Relaxing on the beach in Cuba

Volcano in Nicaragua

Volcano in Nicaragua

At the school build in Jardines de Apoyo Nicaragua

At the school build in Jardines de Apoyo Nicaragua

Celebrating the start of a new school in Nicaragua

Celebrating the start of a new school in Nicaragua

Being a Cupper (yes an actual title) tasting coffee right from the plantation.

Being a Cupper (yes an actual title) tasting coffee right from the plantation.

Fun with Shelly in Chicago

Fun with Shelly in Chicago

Sears Tower Chicago

Sears Tower Chicago

1642

Watching the sun go down. Final weekend of my leave.

Watching the sun go down. Final weekend of my leave.

At the last minute I decided that I would squeeze in one last trip for my year off.  It was the Thursday before the long weekend when I decided that I would try to head camping for some if not all of the long weekend.  As it turned out, there were not any close sites in Algonquin’s back country available for 2 or more nights.  I could have had one site on Booth Lake for just the Friday night, but nothing was available for the Saturday that would be within a relaxing paced trip distance.  So I decided to try one of Ontario’s newest provincial parks, Kawartha Highlands Signature Series Park, near Apsley.  They had one site within reasonable paddling distance, but again for just one night.  I decided that it would be better than nothing.  So I took the site and headed out Friday morning to this new park.  I stayed on site 301 at Wolf Lake.  Wolf Lake is easily accessible and  has many cottages on it, but the 2 sites seem to be afforded sufficient privacy.  I headed back out on Saturday mid morning and explored the lake a little.  The other site on the lake (300) seems like a nice flat airy site with a lot of space.  I will be checking this park out again.  It also seems to have relatively short portages to reach different lakes and parts of the park.  I also took the opportunity to experiment a little bit with my camera.  It would have been a perfect night to take some pictures of the star trails had I not forgot my remote shutter release at home.

CSC_0552 DSC_0395 DSC_0425 DSC_0438 DSC_0467 DSC_0482 DSC_0506 DSC_0534 DSC_0536 DSC_0541 DSC_0546 DSC_0558 DSC_0562

Travel Gear

Posted: August 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

I thought that I would take this opportunity to review and share some of the items that I specifically purchased and took along with me on my journeys this year.  Most of the items have to do with photography and the ability to carry minimal and light weight gear.

Camera Bag

My previous camera bag, although very useful and great for local trips and carrying all my gear was a little too bulky and screamed ‘camera bag’, which I didn’t really want while I was travelling.  I researched a number of options and choose the Photo Sport 200AW from Lowpro.  The main reason I chose this was because it had enough room for my camera and I was able to put my tablet in the back pouch as well as still have enough room to use as a carry on on the plane and to use as a day pack.  I also found that I could place enough stuff in it to use while I was on a 4 day dive trip, where I would only need swim gear and shirts.

Storage:

Kingston Wi-Drive: As part of my travels this past year I quickly realized that uploading my many photos to ‘the cloud’ was not practical and that I needed a way to back up my SD cards in case they were lost or damaged.  I was travelling only with my Samsung Galaxy Tab3, I needed a way to transfer my files from that.  It turns out the portable hard drive that I had was not able to  connect to the tablet.  I did some research and found the WI-Drive from Kingston.  This storage device is a solid state hard drive that becomes a wi-fi hot spot.  This allows you to transfer files wirelessly from any device to the drive, and also store music and videos on the drive to watch on your portable device.  At the time, my options were limited.  Since purchasing this and travelling, other companies have come out with similar devices. I was very pleased with this device.  It is as small and light as a cell phone (smaller than some) and the battery life is great on it.  I will continue to use this on future travels.  I do see that Kingston has come out with a new device that also includes a charger.

Battery:

Magic Rock  I rely heavily on my phone when I am travelling and knew that I would be away from charging locations for extended periods of time.  I picked up this portable charger and it allows for a full charge of my phone.  I think though, I will be upgrading to a larger capacity charger soon.

Tablet Software:

RawVision by CakeTuzz

I always shoot RAW with my DSLR. At home I use Lightroom to edit, touch up and post my photos. However, this past November I was travelling and using my Samsung Galaxy Tab3 to work with my photos. I needed an app that would allow me to convert the RAW images into jpg thus allowing me to post the photos where I wanted to and to be able to include them in my blog. A quick search on the Play Store and up came the demo version of this software. After trying it out on a few photos and exploring the features, I purchased the App on the spot. This does all I am looking for and more. Easy to use and easy to learn. I was really impressed with the support I received from the developers. I had a question/suggestion about how to do something and they replied right away and within a day or so the option that I was looking for was included in an update.  I truly feel that the developers are listening. This is my go to photo app on my tablet. I highly recommend it to everyone. I am not sure if this is a feature that has been added or is included, but I would love the possibility to add a watermark to the photos as they are exported.

Tripod

I knew that there would be situations on my trips that it would be nice to have a tripod for.  My previous tripod was large, heavy and bulky; not exactly qualities for a travel tripod.  Again after some research, I decided to go with the Mefoto Backpacker.  It was everything I needed it to be:  light weight, portable, and compact.

So with a beautiful end of May day, I decided to hit the water for the first paddle of the year.  I decided to attach the GoPro to the front of the canoe and what you see in the video is the result of 622 individual pictures captured every 10 seconds as I paddled for about 2 hours.  I started out in Bancroft just north of Tim Horton’s at Churchill Park and then paddled down the river through town, then turned and paddled up river.  A total distance of about 6km

paddle
Route down The York

Route down The York