Daniel's Travel Log

What Can I Say? The Need To Travel Is Strong

sentio hero

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Random Stuff

Now I know this is a travel log, but, I wanted to share a game that is unique.  Yes, I said game.  The game is called Ingress.  It is a mobile game that you can play for free on apple and android tablets and phones.  The way this game works is a combination of CTF or Capture The Flag and Geocaching.  This is an augmented reality game that takes you outdoors.  It is a battery hog, so load up on power bricks.  In the game, there are two factions, Enlightened and Resistance.  The goal of the game is to capture as many Mind Units or MU’s to score points for your faction.  To accomplish this, you have to visit portals.  A portal can be a landmark such as a church, historic building, fire houses and more.  Anything of public or historical significance is a portal.  These are the key to the game.  If a portal is blue, it is Resistance, Green is Enlightened.  If a Portal is white, it is uncaptured and you deploy things call resonators to capture it.  If it is the opposing team’s color, then you have to use weapons to destroy the enemy resonators so you can deploy your own.  You can also deploy mods to a friendly portal to make it stronger in defense or allow it to “link” with further away portals.  Now linking portals in a triangular loop creates a control field.  This is how you capture MU’s and score the real points.  To link portals, you need keys.  The key is what allows you to remotely monitor, recharge and link portals.  However, when you link a remote portal, you use the key to that portal, so creating control fields can be a challenging process at first.  This game is also extremely social.  You can plan ops with other players via the chat client built-in and through Google Plus.  The company that develops and maintains the game, Niantic Labs, also hosts events around the world.  It is my favorite game to play.  It is unique in the fact that it is a video game that requires you to go outside to play.  I have more detailed descriptions in the video below.  One of the coolest parts is the missions screen.  This is location-based and will show you missions that are around you.  I have discovered many cool things that I didn’t even know existed by doing the missions.  I highly recommend this game for anyone, even if you ae not into games, give it a try.  It is a little boring in the beginning if you are a low-level, but once you are able to level up and use more powerful objects in the game, it is a ton of fun.  It is also a great community to be a part of.  Also, this game is Free To Play, all you need is a Google account which is also free and very easy to get.

 

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Uncategorized

After my long search to find a good way to recover the video from the SD card that went bad when I finished the Alpine Loop, I was able to get all the footage off the dead card.

 

 

Also, to see some of the pictures and read about this amazing trail:

/blog.danielmaat.net/index.php/2016/08/25/the-alpine-loop/

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Random Stuff

The move was successful!  I had some spare time today and decided to move the site to the virtual server earlier.  So far so good.  I upgraded the Linux OS from Ubuntu 12.04 to 16.04.  There are many speed and security updates done and the site has never run better.  I originally set this blog up in a hurry because of the trip, but now, it is properly running, and the difference is night and day.  Also, some images would not load, that has been fixed as well.

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Hidden Gems In New Jersey

Paterson Falls, now this is a place that defines a hidden gem.  Located in downtown Paterson off of Spruce Street, There is a huge, beautiful waterfall surrounded by neat buildings, many of which have been around since the industrial revolution.  These buildings have since been renovated and house multiple businesses, and some are now charter schools, but the current owners have done a great job with the restoration and upkeep of these historic structures.  Downtown Paterson is a great place, it has historic buildings, many good places to eat and shop and is relatively clean.   As with any city, parking can be an issue but if you don’t mind walking a bit, you should not have any trouble.

Anyway, back to the falls, If you are traveling East on I80 toward NYC, take exit 57B toward downtown Paterson, Stay right toward Grand Street, Take a Left, then at Spruce Street, hang a Right.  You will see small signs for Paterson Falls, it is only about 3/4 of a mile off the highway.  You will also notice a Burger King that matches the design of the buildings around it.  When you see the sign for the great falls, turn right and the parking lot will be right there.

When you get out of the car and walk to the railing, you will not only see a beautiful old building at the bottom but the falls themselves.  It is one of those areas you would not ever think would be smack dab in the middle of an area like this.  The building you see at the bottom was one of the first Hydro-Electric generating stations in the country.   The plant, updated with modern technology of course, still produces clean power for the city.  The buildings that are scattered around the park houses the transformers and other equipment for the power plant.  They did a great job with hiding the sub-station.  While walking around, you can hear the whine of the turbines and the sound of rushing water.

Walking around the outside of the park, there is a bridge that crosses over the falls.  I highly recommend going over this bridge.  It gives the falls a new perspective.  Be careful in the winter, however, the spray from the falls can make the bridge and the sidewalk icy.  On the Other side of the bridge, there is a lookout that takes you up close and personal with the falls.  A great spot for the perfect selfie or a panorama.  Again, be careful as it may be icey during the colder months.   In my opinion, I think the falls are the most beautiful in the winter, especially when they freeze over.  When the light hits it just right, it truly is a spectacular site.  The frozen spray adds a beautiful shimmering coating to the rocks and grass.  If it has been cold for a while, massive icicles form on the falls.  A good picture point, which unfortunately was closed during my visit,  is down below the parking lot.  It is also a great place to have lunch during the summer.  It gives you a great vantage point of the falls and the bridge that crosses it.

Paterson falls is one of those hidden in plain site places.  Driving by it, you don’t see the true beauty, it is only when you get out of the car and walk about 100 feet do you see this amazing, hidden place with a wealth of history behind it.

Video From Gemini Bridges in Utah

West 2016

So here it is, I uploaded it, but never posted it.  Overall this was an easy trail, so easy, I didn’t even need the 4 wheel drive.  Just about any SUV with good clearance and a decent set of tires can navigate this trail with no problem at all.  A few areas had some slippery rock but the cool part is the bridges themselves.  A Twin Arch.

See this post for more details.

Canyonlands

 

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Random Stuff

Have you ever upgraded to the “latest and Greatest” just to find out a key feature, or in this case, port, is no longer there?  Well I experienced it first hand when I upgraded my phone.  I use my phone for everything, mapping, navigation, music, e-mail, blogging and even the occasional phone call.  Not to mention this thing shoots full 4K video, so it is my primary go-to device.  Here is the problem, Apple decided to remove the 1/8 inch headphone jack.  Looking at the internals and the design of the phone, I can see why it was sort of necessary.  For me though, being able to charge and listen to music or navigation is a must.  I can maybe squeeze 6 hours or so out of the battery during heavy use, not bad for being local, but on long trips, it is an annoying to have to worry about choosing music or power.  A adapter cable came with the phone so I can still use my AUX on my head unit, but can’t charge at the same time.  The price of a stupid cable that let me do both, charge and listen, was not worth it for me.  Also, anyone who has used an iPhone as long as I have knows the cables fail by the connector and that $80 cable is as useful as a piece of string.  I have also learned from past mistakes and got a case, so the other option, a funky looking adapter that plugs in, will not fit my phone because of the nearly bullet proof case I have.  Also, $100 for a thing that is the size of your pinky finger, no thanks.

Same people have suggested I upgrade my stereo in my 4Runner, Why?  There is nothing wrong with it, it sounds great, no one is going to steal it and it just works.  It’s simple.  I have tried the Bluetooth adaptors, but none of them impressed me.  They sound like garbage and many of them need to be recharged or have another cigarette lighter adapter that plugs in.  I tried hardwiring it, but the cheap Made In China adapter either fell apart, or let out the magic blue smoke.  Another type plugged into the factory stereo behind the dash, but for $200 I might as well get a new stereo and again, it was Bluetooth.  What I did come up with is a little down and dirty, but offers great flexibility and uncompressed sound quality.  Apple makes these great wireless routers called the AirPort Express.  They allow you to stream music over a WiFi connection to a stereo or set of speakers.  Because it is 802.11n, the music is not compressed and it uses very little power.  I didn’t do it, but there is even a way to power it off the car’s 12 volt system without using an Inverter.  My inverter is hardwired so I didn’t mind using it and just ran the power plug through the console.  The DAC in the Airport Express is very good.  No distortion, very little electronic noise and plugs right into the AUX Jack.  It is tiny enough and does not get hot, so I put it in the bottom of my center console.  The added bonus is one less wire running across the dash or console.  I can now charge my phone and listen to music at the same time, without worrying about the battery.  An added bonus is I can give friends the WiFi password and they too can play music wirelessly and without running out of length on the AUX cord.  This trick works on any apple device, even a laptop with iTunes on it so I just opened up a world of flexibility, all in the name of good tunes!

 

(817) 953-1516

Hidden Gems In New Jersey

It has been a while since I got back from my trip out west.  I will start a new series over the winter that explores my home state of New Jersey.  Now I know New Jersey has a bad rep because of that Jersey Shore Show, But I can tell you only One of those people where from New Jersey, and other than a few parts, the state is quite beautiful.  Most of New Jersey is Forest and Farmland.  However, many people think of The Garden State being like Newark, Paterson or Camden.  It is when you leave these areas is when NJ really shines.  NJ is a diverse state, travel 50 miles and you go from flat farmland to beautiful mountains.  We are called “The Garden State” for a reason.  NJ has a rich history, in face, Thomas A. Edison’s Lab is in NJ and you can visit it.  If you are more an outdoors person, Stokes State Forest, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and many more.  If you love off-roading like I do, The Pine Barrens has hundreds of Jeep trails to explore.  We also have some of the most Beautiful Beaches in the country.  Yes, there is traffic, It is just a part of living here, and no, your parkway exit does not define you, sorry, it just doesn’t work that way so don’t ask.  It is worth looking past all the “Bridgegate” scandals and the fact that our current governor is a bully.  That being said, don’t pass judgment on NJ until you visit some of the amazing places, get out of the city, get out of the hustle and bustle, get out and EXPLORE!

The Pics

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So, here it is, All the pics I took on the trip.  Because I used 2 cameras, some of them may be out of order.  I hope to have the dashcam footage of Imogene Pass, The Alpine Loop and Gemini Bridges up this weekend.  I wish I had more video, but the cheapo action cam I had was killed by the dessert heat, and I used inexpensive dash cams that are not made for what i used them for.  Next trip like this, I am investing in a GoPro.

The End – What I Would Do Differently For The Next Trip

West 2016

So the sad day has come, the end of west 2016.  Of course it is funny that I am ending West 2016 in North Carolina, but I didn’t have time to make it to the Pacific, and I needed to see, hear and smell the ocean.  I am also breaking my “Camp as far from civilization as I can” routine.  The 4Runner has been great.  I took good care of her, and she returned the favor.  I do need to do some maintenance items when I get back home, but for the most part, I could go cross country tomorrow and not have a problem.  Some of the stuff I need to do are:

  • Brakes, Passenger front caliper seized and cooked the rotor, had to do the driver side when I got the truck, turns out it’s a common 4Runner problem.
  • Driveshaft Lubrication
  • Change Differential and Transfer case fluids – Just to be safe, went through a lot of water crossings
  • Cabin and Engine Air filters
  • Top off Water Levels in both Batteries
  • Flush Power Steering System
  • Replace an Idler Pulley – The lower one is starting to make noise in the bearing

The Following I will Improve upon for the next adventure:

  • Dual Battery System – Instead of an Isolator solenoid, DC – DC Charger with multi stage charging and Battery/Alternator Temperature Monitoring
  • Refrigeration – Dorm fridge with upgraded insulation worked great, however a 12 Volt fridge would be more efficient
  • Skid Plates – Factory Skid was damaged before I got the truck, Heavier Off road Skids Needed
  • Running Boards – Factory ones hung down too low, Will replace with sliders.
  • “Shore Power” – Upgrade to Higher amperage and Dual Bank charger so I can charge both batteries when I have power.
  • Add extra, brighter reverse lights – Backed into a Pick Nick table late at night because It was hard to see
  • Add Lights for camping to Aid in setting up
  • Cell phone repeater for areas with poor reception
  • Hood mount CB antenna – My fiberglass roof rack mounted antenna broke from getting caught on an overhang
  • Rechargeable LED Lantern – One I have works good, but eats batteries
  • Possible Solar array for extended camp-outs
  • Add On-board Air – Plug in compressor failed after several uses
  • Power Steering Cooler

Again, this is my first time doing a trip like this, hopefully many more to come.  I am glad all the research I did amounted to a great trip.  There are some other things I will have to fine tune as I go along, but that is part of the fun.

Canyonlands

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If you ever want to see a place that will totally throw your sense of scale off, go to Canyonlands.  Specifically Island In The Sky.  This place is also home to some of the coolest and toughest off-road routes.  I bought a guide so I wouldn’t get stuck, or worse, break something.  I did get stuck in a spot where you had to go through shallow water, but the Utah clay is thick, slippery and unforgiving, but I scouted ahead beforehand and was able to use a tree to winch myself out.  If that option was not there I would have turned around.  Still, that small inconvenience was well worth it.  I don’t have the getting stuck on video or pictures, sorry, I wanted to get the 4Runner unstuck before it sank, but the stuff I found was amazing.  I found a closed off uranium mine that was shut down in the late 60s.  It is now a back country campsite.  The entrance to the mine itself is closed off, but the small alcove that was used for storage is still open.  I could tell someone camped there the night before because the fire pit had fresh coals in it.  I hung out and walked around for a while and enjoyed the silence.  I was a good 20 miles from any paved road and the canyon walls blocked any outside noises.  All I could hear was the wind and the birds.  It was a great spot to have lunch.

After this lunch spot, I headed toward another 4×4 trail.  This time I have it on video and will share when I don’t have to pay for data.  It is called the Gemini Bridges.  It was a relatively easy trail, and only about 13 miles, but the bridges themselves, wow.  It is a twin arch and you can even walk on it, they closed it to driving because of irresponsible people destroying the area, but it was a short 1/2 mile hike to it.  The cool thing is you can walk on them.  Careful though, it is about a 100 foot drop to the bottom.  There is a third one forming from an alcove in the cliff face, perhaps after 100 years or so, it will be a third arch.

The trail ended at highway 191 in Moab.  The last 2 miles or so is on a narrow cliff face and on rock.  The highway seems so small when you are 1000 feet above it.  This is the last trail for me in Utah.  I have to start heading back to Jersey.  I have learned a lot, sharpened my off-road skills and had an absolute blast.  On the way back home, I will defiantly visit more cool places.  I plan on taking rt 40 back and traveling rt 66 for a while.

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