Anthony on , , , , 21 May 2009 08:57 pm

This past weekend we didn’t go to Victoria. To be clear, it was Victoria Day, we just didn’t go to Victoria even though Aidan was convinced we had to. Instead we took a day trip and went up the Fraser Valley.

The plan was simple. We’d head towards the Othello Tunnels without any schedule or firm plan. And it started fine — we packed a picnic lunch, the kid-carrier backpack, the all-terrain stroller. I loaded up the GPSs and off we went.

Things started going a bit sideways in Abbotsford. Gwen has some new glasses and didn’t have sunglasses at the time. She wanted to stop by a drug store to pick up some clip-ons so we looked up pharmacies in the GPS and headed to one that wasn’t too far from the TCH.

The GPS, of course, led us to a farmer’s field near the Sumas border crossing.

So, we hit up a nearby Zellers. Gwen went in to check for the clip-ons while I checked for nearby geocaches. And the GPS told me “No geocaches found”. Of course, this is *exactly* what I wanted to see while sitting in a parking lot in Abbotsford at the beginning of a day meant for geocaching.

Zellers, of course, didn’t have the clip-ons. In an amazing stroke of luck, I’d brought my netbook (which has GSAK and up-to-date geocaches on it) and attempted to rectify the problem with the Oregon GPSr. Gwen and the kids went off to the Tim’s that was in the parking lot while I repaired the GSAK database (grr) and reloaded the caches. Disaster averted, I went over the Tims and met the family.

We headed out, but I had to stop by the washroom. I wasn’t in the bathroom more than 30 seconds when I heard Aidan calling out for me in the vestibule outside the washrooms. This was surprising because we’d asked him to stay with his mother. Anyway, we did our business and went back out into the restaurant to find a very unhappy Gwen. Turns out Aidan had come to the bathroom when his mother’s back was turned to Quinlan. As a result she had no idea where he was.

We almost went home there and then.

Instead we drove on to Bridal Falls and had a picnic.

Which is really the point of this post. Quinlan seems to like the outdoors, wouldn’t you say?





So, the picnic was a success. Time was marching on, but we did manage to grab a cache in the park. It should have been a quick grab, but in the shadow of the mountains the GPS wasn’t giving us great accuracy, and there were a number of potential hiding spots. And a rushing stream nearby. And it wasn’t clear which side of the stream the cache was on.

Traversing the stream was not an easy feat.

The cache was, of course, on the easy side.

So, we left Bridal Falls and headed up to Hope. An uneventful drive except that the GPS tried to get us to arbitrarily cross the Coquihalla River where the was no crossing, and Aidan fell asleep in the car. He never falls asleep in the car and this was the second time in as many weeks! He must be coming up to a growth spurt.

Eventually we found our way to the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. The park has a trail that leads to the Othello Tunnels, built back in 1914.

We all enjoyed the tunnels, which were a reasonable walk along the reclaimed railbed. Aidan was thrilled with the tunnels, and the canyon was pretty awesome too.





The big reason for coming to the Tunnels, however, was to get the geocache located there.

It seemed to be up the side of a cliff, near a fallen giant tree.


I say “seemed” because in the end, we DNF’d it. Frustrating, but we’d had an excellent adventure despite how the day started, so it was all good.

Anthony on , , , , 08 Dec 2008 10:28 pm

Local media guy Buzz Bishop had some questions about the netbook, so rather than miss the opportunity to write a few hundred words that no one will read, I thought I’d post it here. :)

We’ve had the Eee 901 for 5 months now.  The original intention with the netbook was for it to be a second laptop since our main laptop had been completely taken over by Gwen. There was also the thought to use it for geocaching too, but our geocaching activities have tapered off significantly due to the pending and subsequent arrival of Quinlan. Further, we’ve discovered that it’s still a bit too awkward to have in the car in the heat of the hunt.  However, we have used it on a couple road trips where we’ve had MS Streets & Trips and the USB GPS and used it to find our way around the back country of Washington State as well as Vancouver Island.

It’s turned out to be great to pick up and and take places. It is definitely the best thing to take on business trips. It’s small, light, and runs forever on the battery.  With WiFi on the whole time, I get about 5-5 1/2  hours without plugging in.  That’s long enough to get through even the longest of meetings. 5 1/2 hours almost gets me coast-to-coast on a plane (I’ll let you know how that goes on Saturday, but with the 2 kids it’s pretty unlikely I’ll get much opportunity to use it). It’s light and small enough that it tucks into my day bag without displacing anything.  It’s powerful enough for note-taking, and for running Powerpoint. Even reading PDFs and eBooks is convenient. If I were the sort (and had the time) it’d be ideal for taking to coffee shops too.

Day-to-day use is mostly what it was designed for: travelling the tubes. In the morning I check my various email accounts, blogs and Twitter before scanning the paper and eating breakfast. At night, since we’re pretty much housebound with the two kids, it serves the same purposes: blogs, email and Twitter. But, because it’s so small and light, I can use it in front of the TV, in the kitchen, or in bed as easily as not. There’s no way I’d lug the big 17″ laptop around like this.

I was a little worried about daily use and both the size of the screen and the keyboard, but neither has turned out to be an issue.  The screen is bright, crisp, and easy on the eyes. I can touch-type on the keyboard with only a slightly higher error rate than normal. The screen is a little small, but the application I have the biggest issue with — Google Reader — can be customized so that it fills the screen and it actually ends up being quite comfortable to use.  I still have problems with inadvertent brushes of the touchpad, though.

So, for its purpose, it’s been great. However, it is definitely a second (or third, fourth, etc) computer. It’s awful for photo manipulation due to the small screen and small (and slow) SSD. There’s no DVD drive, so there’s no watching (or ripping) of DVDs. It’s definitely not a machine to do development on either. But for surfing the tubes, writing short documents, blogging and Tweeting, I’m in love.