….meanwhile

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Take time to notice what others may be overlooking. Focusing on the flowerheads, not the forest visitor.

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Oh Me, Oh My, Thoughts on Project Fi

Earlier this summer on our Western Ho adventure (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta)  we traveled in Canada as well as many other areas without AT&T service. Prior to entering Canada I had call my mobile phone provider AT&T to ask about having the ability to at least text and call from Canada. On their advise I upped my plan to take advantage of their free testing from Canada option. (This plan worked for messaging but not without some billing issues).  I had not thought at the time about navigation. We had with us a GPS, paper maps and my iPhone to get directions and locate camping spots. Unfortunately, after crossing the border we realized the only thing that worked for mapping was our good old paper maps.

Knowing that we would be traveling through Canada again this fall as well as traveling through areas without AT&T coverage I decided to look into Google’s Project Fi.

My son-in-law switched form an iPhone and AT&T a few months ago to Project Fi so I had my own “expert” to help with some of the questions I had. Something to note is that he lives in Minnesota and many options for cell coverage.

For reference, Project Fi

Project Fi is a phone carrier offering from Google. It works by giving you mobile data service on three mobile networks, which your phone will intelligently switch between — it also uses Wi-Fi to make calls and send texts whenever available. Project Fi is a “prepaid” carrier, meaning you pay upfront for your service in the trailing month, which is the opposite of a traditional carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) that bills you after you use the service.

Project Fi is focused on simplified billing. You pay $20 per month for unlimited talk and texting, and a flat rate of $10 per gigabyte of data used. At the start of each month you simply estimate how much data you’ll use and pay for that amount — at the end of the month you’ll receive either a refund for data you didn’t use, or pay a little extra on the next bill for data overages. You’ll always pay at the same $10 per gigabyte rate, though, no matter what.

Project Fi works with a special SIM card — and a little software on your phone — that can authenticate you on T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, and switch between them on the fly based on a variety of factors. Because it can also use Wi-Fi for calls and texts, you can keep using your phone in places where mobile data isn’t that great. Extra software called a “Wi-Fi Assistant” will automatically connect your phone to open Wi-Fi access points when you’re out of the house, reducing your data usage without any intervention on your part.

Project Fi also works internationally in 120 countries around the world with no additional cost for data use or texting. You can call at a flat rate to any number while on the cellular networks abroad, or pay much lower rates when calling on Wi-Fi. You can also call back home to the U.S. on Wi-Fi for free. Data used internationally just comes out of your standard $10 per gigabyte bucket, but speeds are limited to 256kbps

 

When I decided to sign up for Project Fi, the first problem I encountered was that it was not available in my area code 😦     however I  tried an adjacent area code and found availability. (Google assigns a phone number based on area code). That also meant that I had to give up my former Google Voice number which really was no problem since I rarely used it. I also needed to order a phone. I chose the Nexus 5x to use with Fi and ordered it through Google.

Being an Apple girl,  I am still getting used to the Android platform but must admit I like it. One of the benefits from Project Fi is that it uses T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular  (includes Verison) to authenticate so even though coverage is slow at my home I had no problem finding service on our just completed Eastern Ho adventure (Michigan, Ontario, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and New Brunswick). We were able to use  Fi of navigation whenever my AT&T was not available and in Canada.

As far as cost, I chose the $20 per month for unlimited calling and texting and $10 for every gigabyte of data I want to use a month.The data can be adjusted at any time. For our trip we came close to using just 1 gig. Other months I my bill was adjusted because I didn’t use data so I was actually billed LESS than the anticipated $30.. per month. Now that we are home for a while I will probably suspend service for a month or two until we need it again. This is another great feature as far as I am concerned.

If I lived in an area with multiple cell options (towers) I would be seriously considering using Project Fi exclusively.

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Winding It Up

Since the last post we have wandered through four states and one provence. We are in Ontario headed home. We twisted and turned our way through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York stopping in the Adirondacks. The fall colors were vibrant!

While in the Adirondack Mountains we stopped at Fort Ticonderoga near the south end of Lake Champlain in northern New York. It was built by the French during the French and Indian Wars. At one time Benedict Arnold was in command.

And, wait for it……American Revolutionary General Philip Schuyler ( father of Angelica, Eliza and Peggy!) also used this fort as a staging area for the invasion of Quebec. (Shameless Hamilton the Musical reference)

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Another Ticonderoga reference is to the pencil (Alan’s Jacobus’s favorite pencil the black Ticonderoga) has history here as well. The pencil’s name originates in the graphite ore mined on Lead Mountain and processed in Ticonderoga, New York, since 1815.

We passed a sign that indicated the location of John Brown’s grave. We couldn’t turn due to the narrow roads and the quick notice…..the only reason I am bringing it up is that “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave, His soul’s marching on.” has become an ear worm for me since seeing the sign. Ugh!

We are driving from Ottawa, Canada up through North Bay, and Sudbury to the U.P. Another new area to explore.

We have seen so much as we traveled east this year. We drove primarily secondary roads and saw some wonderful and iconic scenery. Here are a few reflections.

Many roads do not have shoulders -leading to narrow roads

Signage is poor (for directions)

When pulling a trailer it is difficult/impossible to stop along the side of the road for a better look at things or to find parking

Vermont is GORGEOUS

Going through customs (multiple times) has been no problem, even with a dog in the car

Parking spaces( when you can find them, seem smaller (hard to park a truck)

Very few roadside signs (both good and bad, I sometimes it is nice to know what is coming up before we miss it)

Cell phone reception has been pretty good (except in New York)

Google maps doesn’t always direct you on the most direct route.(even though it may be the fastest…according to them)

So nice having your “home” with you instead of motels

Gas prices were low….with our average mpg  at 10 so we are happy with the lower costs

Thanks to some phone apps we have been able to find RV parks quite easily along the way

Project Fi (and Android phone) work great in Canada and where AT&T doesn’t have coverage)

and finally

East, west, home is best!

 

Low Tide

First hard frost in the morning, Seymour was covered in frosty ice. We stayed comfy inside. The day warmed quickly.

We went back to Hopewell to see what is was like a low tide and walked around on the sea floor.

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Kelp at low tide.

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We ended the day in the shadows of Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park Maine. Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and is located near a stretch known as the Hundred-Mile Wilderness. After dropping off Seymour, we drove to Baxter State Park but found we could not enter because we had Copper with us. No pets allowed! This park is 200,000 acres of wilderness. Inside the park boundary there is no electricity, running water, or paved roads. The leaves are really starting to change, the trees must have communicated with each other that the time has come. We have seen some vivid reds and yellows!

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High Tide

We are in New Brunswick, Canada at the Bay of Fundy. This bay has the highest tides on earth.The tides rise as much as 56 feet the height of a 5-story building. It’s the extended, delta-like shape of the bay that intensifies the tides.

bay_of_fundy_ecozones_map_1390x1123.jpgOver time, the tides have eroded cliffs and left curious sea stacks along the shoreline. One of best examples is at Hopewell Cape, where the Hopewell Rocks are a sightseeing draw at both low and high tides.

Check out this video of the tidal fluctuations at Hopewell Rocks Hopewell Rocks Video

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The tide was coming in when we were there and we could actually watch it rise. We plan on going back tomorrow morning when there is a low tide and walk around on the sea floor. Very interesting place.

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Another interesting point (at least to me) is that we are now in the Atlantic time zone UTC-4. Up until we reached New Brunswick we stayed in the same time zone as Michigan.

 

Is It Mount De-sert or Mount Des-ert?

Just a short drive up the Maine coast on Thursday to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.  Home to Bar Harbor and much of Acadia National Park.  Mount Desert (typically pronounced des-ert) is the 6th largest island in the contiguous United States.

Some famous past and present residents include:

  • David Rockefeller & Family, Ford Family
  • Cap Weinberger, Secretary of Defense under President Reagan
  • Martha Stewart
  • Actors Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, John Travolta, etc.

Acadia National Park is the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi River. It is also the 8th National Park we visited this year!

Mt. Desert Island is a big island with two main lobes, several small towns and lots of little peninsulas that jut out into the sea. Acadia National Park takes up much of the land, and the whole island is fun to explore.

 

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“One of the most unique aspects of how Acadia National Park formed is that it is thanks to the vision and donations of private citizens who anticipated the dangers that over-development would bring to this area and acted to prevent it”. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., played a critical role by building the  famous carriage roads and by donating over 11,000 acres of land. The Carriage roads were built for those wanting to travel on motor-free byways via horse and carriage.

We drove the park loop, a 27 mile park owned road around the park. We stopped several places to take in the views including Cadillac Mountain.

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We wanted to catch sunset at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Carl scrambled down the rocks while I settled for the path and ramp. His photo I am sure will be spectacular…..here is mine just to show what it looks like.IMG_8778.jpg

Rocky shorelines are the norm.IMG_8809.jpg

Another National Park token for our collection.IMG_8775.jpg

We are spending three days here at Acadia …so much to see and take in.

It Started With A Boot

“In 1911, an avid outdoorsman named Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean returned from a hunting trip with cold, damp feet and a revolutionary idea. L.L. enlisted a local cobbler to stitch leather uppers to workmen’s rubber boots, creating a comfortable, functional boot for exploring the Maine woods”. And from that boot, an empire was born.

Since we were in Maine, I was adamant I that I wanted to go to L.L. Bean. Well, we did. It is a huge store…..that is it, nothing more. My desire is satisfied and we moved on.  Another thing checked off the bucket list.

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Next stop was near Camden. We set up Seymour and headed out to find some Maine seafood. We stopped at Claws, in the Lobster Capital of the World – Rockland Maine.

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As we walked up to the counter, another couple was just leaving. They asked us if we had ever eaten here before and told us we MUST order the lobster roll and a side of fries…..we didn’t argue. It was delicious.  (**Interesting fact, until tonight I had never had lobster)IMG_8701.jpg

After dining on the porch of the restaurant (no indoor seating) We drove over to Owl’s Head Lighthouse. It is a stubby little thing, only 30 feet tall. However it is situated on a point of land that is quite prominent, so it does the job. The tower was build in 1852 and it has one of the last six Fresnel lenses in operation in Maine.IMG_8721.jpg

So tonight will be interesting. Seymour is parked beneath an oak tree or two or three. The banging on the roof by the acorns that are falling is not only noisy, but startling. Cooper is not a fan, not sure we are either. Wish us luck in getting any sleep.

 

The Hidden Life

In light of the fact we are leaf peeping on the east coast, I thought I should read the newly published book “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben. The author says that trees communicate, in fact this “wood wide web” allows trees to share food, water and information. Trees are all connected, and the extent to which they grow strong and healthy depends to a great degree on how much they can depend on one another. In other words, it takes a forest”.

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He also explains “the process of a deciduous tree preparing for winter. If it drops its leaves too early, it loses valuable photosynthesizing and food production time. If it drops its leaves too late, it risks losing entire branches, made more vulnerable to high winds when in full leaf, in October and November storms. The problem of when to drop leaves is a “decision” that individual trees make differently. And considering that different trees very close to each other make the decision at various times, “the timing of the leaf drop, it seems, really is question of character.”

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And then there is this: “The average tree grows its branches out until it encounters the branch tips of a neighboring tree of the same height. It doesn’t grow any wider because the air and better light in this space are already taken. However, it heavily reinforces the branches it has extended, so you get the impression that there’s quite a shoving match going on up there. But a pair of true friends is careful right from the outset not to grow overly thick branches in each other’s direction. The trees don’t want to take anything away from each other, and so they develop sturdy branches only at the outer edges of their crowns, that is to say, only in the direction of “non-friends.” Such partners are often so tightly connected at the roots that sometimes they even die together.

 

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We decided to spend another night in Littleton and drive the “loop” today. We drove through the White Mountains along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. This was mostly National Forest land with beautiful vistas. The color is starting to change and views are fabulous.

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This is the “Grand Hotel” of the area. it is Mt. Washington Resort and is on the National Register.

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….and  of course…..covered bridges!

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It Is Debate Day!

Finally after all the hoopla, debate day is finally here. I have been interested in this debate for quite a while.

** Election notice……..we have driven through 4 states and have seen only a handful of yard signs for the presidential election.  I think we have seen more Gary Johnson (Libertarian) than Trump or Clinton signs.

IMG_8629.jpgOur debate today is what flavor of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream to try. Each one has it’s merits.

The winner  –  STEPHEN COLBERT’S AMERICONE DREAM!  (It also happened to be the free sample passed out at he factory today.

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We also paid our respects to the past flavors at the flavor graveyard.IMG_8624.jpg

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AND THEN………

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In a blink of an eye we were in New Hampshire! We headed for the White Mountains, dropped off Seymour with the good folks at KOA in Littleton and headed out to Mt. Washington.

At 6,288 ft above sea level, Mt. Washington is not the highest mountain we have been on this year however it does have the wickedest weather! It is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. Today was a beautiful day to climb the mountain as only about 60 days a year have good visibility and clear skies at the top, and this was one of them. We took the 140 year old  Cog Railway  ( a straight up the mountain trip) to the summit which has the worst weather in America!

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Mount Washington once held the world record and still holds the Northern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere record for directly measured surface wind speed, at 231 mph (372 km/h), recorded on the afternoon of April 12, 1934.

Beautiful view on a beautiful day.

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