Trip Planning with Google’s ‘My Maps’

For me, part of the fun of travel is the anticipation. That includes reading the information from the tour company, Googling the places we’ll be visiting, seeing what people on Trip Advisor have to say about the hotel where we’ll be staying. As mentioned in a previous post, I also like to Google things like “Antarctica photography tips” or “best places to photograph in Buenos Aires” to get some ideas. I’m sure I spend more time dreaming about the trip in advance than I do actually being on the trip. But that’s OK—anticipating the trip is part of the experience.

Lately I’ve also been using Google’s “My Maps” feature to create a custom map for each new trip. You can do a search for the airport you’ll be flying into, the hotel where you’ll be staying, and the sites you’ll be seeing, and plug each of them into your map.

Why would anyone want to do this?, you might be thinking. Well, maybe you’re nerdy like me and you just like doing this sort of thing. (My spices are also organized in alphabetic order.) (Not that I ever cook.) But it also helps you figure out Read more

I Do Not Miss Film Cameras

A pair of gentoo penguins. That stack of pebbles is their nest. (Click to see larger)

It’s interesting to go through the photos I took on the 2002 Antarctica trip—and to dream of doing a better job when I go back in January. So much is different now, not the least of which is that we all have digital cameras now. Back then, when we were shooting film, you’d have to wait until you got home to find out if you’d gotten anything. I remember bringing all the film back and dropping it off at the Film Center in Hills Plaza (where the counter person made a face at having to fill out 37 envelopes, one for each roll of film), and then a week later I’d finally get to see the images from the trip. And if they were overexposed or blurry or whatever, well, too bad.

Today’s cameras not only give you immediate feedback—as in, Ooops, out of focus; let’s try that again—but they’re also so much more sophisticated. The film I took to Antarctica 15 years ago Read more

More Antarctic Photos From Way Back When

I spent some more time today going through the shoebox full of photos and negatives from the Alumni Association’s 2002 Antarctic trip that I hosted, and scanning some of the ones that seemed to be keepers. I’ve included a handful here.

I should also mention that my friends Elaine and Jim Keller—I met them on that Penn State trip and have been friends with them ever since—corrected me on something I said in yesterday’s post. I remember our ship, the Marco Polo, as being a retired Soviet icebreaker, but Elaine and Jim said no, it was a cruise ship that just had some icebreaking capabilities. A check of Wikipedia shows that they’re right: It was built as an ocean liner for a Soviet shipping company in the 1960s (I knew the Russians were involved somehow!) and was called the Aleksandr Pushkin back then. It has changed hands a few times; at the time of our cruise in 2002, it was operated by the Orient Lines.

The ship we’ll be using next January, by the way, is a big upgrade from the Marco Polo: We’ll be on Le Boreál, a five-star luxury cruise ship.

Anyway, below are some more photos Read more

That Other Time I Went to Antarctica

A younger me, at Port Lockroy, January 2002.

For most travelers, Antarctica is a “bucket list” trip, a place you hope to see once in your lifetime, often the last of the seven continents on which you can say you’ve set foot. I’m very mindful of my good fortune in being able to go to the Antarctic for a second time. The first time was in January 2002, and I was hosting a Penn State Alumni Association trip with Gohagan & Company, just as I’ll be doing in January 2018.

Last night I rooted around in the hall closet that contains several decades’ worth of photos and found the pictures I took on that 2002 trip. Those were the days of film cameras, and I have 37 rolls’ worth of pictures from Antarctica—and Ushuaia, and Buenos Aires—in a shoebox. I remember stuffing a bunch of rolls of film into my jacket each time we’d get on the Zodiac boats that took us from the ship to the penguin colonies onshore, and once over there, I’d have to change film every 36 images. Hard to imagine. I don’t miss that part at all. Read more

Hi Guys!

I’m thinking ahead to January 2018, when I’ll be hosting a Penn State Alumni Association trip to the Antarctic—and, internet access permitting, blogging from the trip. Right now I’m just trying to get the blog set up, figure out what I want it to look like, and see whether I might want to blog on other travel- and photography-related topics in addition to the Antarctica trip. I have some ideas about images and photography tips to share with you, so stay tuned.