Thursday, June 23, 2016

National Lands: Massachusetts (Part 1)

English: Replica of Friendship at Salem, Mass....
English: Replica of Friendship at Salem, Mass. Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Salem, Massachusetts, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Massachusetts is a state rich in history and that is reflected in most of its national lands. The Boston African American National Historic Site celebrates the brave people who fought against slavery and injustice in Boston in the 19th century. Museums and trails are available. Interstates 90 and 93 are the closest interstates to the area. Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site honors the man who excelled in his field of landscape architecture. The Site is located in Brookline which is south of Interstate 90 and east of Interstate 95. Also in Brookline is the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site. This birthplace of President Kennedy is located south of Interstate 90. Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site has a dual meaning. It was the home of poet Henry W. Longfellow. The home also served as the headquarters for General Washington. The site is located in Cambridge which is north of Interstate 90 and west of Interstate 93.

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site is located in Salem which is northeast of Boston and east of Interstate 95. Visitors can tour the building and the tall ship. A film about the Salem Witch trials is available for an extra charge. The Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site commemorates the place where iron working skills were first brought to this nation. Saugus is north of Boston and south of Interstate 95. The Springfield Armory National Historic Site honors the achievements of those who made the ammunition at the nation's first armory.  Springfield is on Interstate 91 just south of Interstate 90 almost on the Connecticut border. The Essex National Heritage Area begins just north of Boston and continues north to the New Hampshire border. The area is 500 square miles and hundreds of historical sites, trails and water activities are in the region. Special event weekends called Trails and Sails are held periodically.

Friday, June 17, 2016

National Lands: Michigan

Empire Bluffs Trail view of Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Empire Bluffs Trail view of Sleeping Bear Dunes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Isle Royale National Park is an island in Lake Superior. Visitors can access the park only by ferry or seaplane unless they have their own watercraft. The island is remote so travelers should be well prepared with plenty of supplies. They should also be aware of weather conditions. Interstate 75 will take drivers to northern Michigan, but that is it. Pictured Rocks National Seashore is also in Northern Michigan. The area is located on the shore of Lake Superior. The area has cliffs, sand dunes, waterfalls and forests. The lakeshore is 40 miles long. Once again, Interstate 75 will take visitors to the northern part of the state, but it is not close to this area. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is on Lake Michigan in the northwest corner of Lower Michigan. Interstate 75 is to the east, but not close. Miles of beach with hiking and biking trails are available and dunes are waiting to be climbed. The area has amazing scenery and is well worth the drive.

Keweekaw National Historic Park is in the very northwest tip of the state of Michigan. The visitor center is in Calumet. No interstate gets close to this area which features information about mining copper in the area. Hiking, biking, kayaking and winter snow sports are available. The North Country National Scenic Trail covers seven states. In Michigan the trail runs along the western side of Lower Michigan and across Upper Michigan. River Raisin National Battlefield is in the southeastern corner of the state on Lake Erie. The area is just north of Toledo, Ohio. Interstate 75 provides direct access. The 1813 battle here ended with an Indian victory. Museum displays and biking and hiking trails are available. The Motor Cities National Heritage Area is in Detroit. This area consists of many sites, so advance planning is necessary. The area, which covers over 10,000 miles, celebrates the history of the automobile and its impact on history.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Travel Tales: Helpfulness of the iPhone 6

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Just before I went on my last trip, I got the new iPhone 6 Plus. I was excited to use the larger phone and I wanted to stay with Apple. Even though I knew many of the great aspects of this model, I was delighted to discover some unexpected benefits associated with travel and this phone.

When I stay in the San Fernando Valley, I always have a problem with cell phone reception. Either the location of the building is a problem or the number of apartment buildings in the area is a problem. Reception affects all carriers in the valley. That is why drivers will sometimes notice people sitting on the curbs talking on their phones. Another popular place for apartment dwellers to make calls is in the park, which has great reception and a wonderful view. This problem in the apartment where I was staying was really bad, but then I got a message on the phone telling me to consider using wi-fi calling. I contacted my carrier because I did not want to increase my bill. The option was free. How amazing! Putting the call on wi-fi was simple and the clarity of the calls increased dramatically.

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Another great feature was the ability to get HBO Now on the phone. Since the phone had such a large screen, I was able to view the movies with ease. I had brought my Apple TV with me, but I would have had a lot of work to try to connect it in the maze of wires behind the tv in the rental. The phone worked really well.

When I travel, everyone back home forgets about the time difference. I am awakened very early some mornings. That is why I decided to use the Do Not Disturb feature. That solved the problem. If my daughter needs me, she knows how to override it.

One problem with the phone seemed to affect all carriers. When I made a phone call, the person on the other end would hear a periodic beep. I did not hear it. This happened while I was in California and now while I am in Ohio. When I read the Apple forum, I noticed this happened to people no matter who the carrier was. I have taken the phone to Apple and despite several attempts, nothing has worked yet. By the way, that is the old iPhone in the photo. Next week National Lands resumes!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Travel Tales: In Praise of the Honda Civic

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Back in 2004 I needed to get a car. I wanted a vehicle with great gas mileage, but it also had to have a sunroof because I had a dog. I finally decided on the Honda Civic, but it was difficult to find one that was not white or silver. After a long search I found one, but I was not in love with the color at the time. I bought the car anyway. I thought that I would find exactly what I wanted in the next car I would purchase.

The Civic was the best car I had ever owned. I had very few problems with it. On my trips the car had great mpg and had no problems in the mountains. The only problem with the car was the small trunk space. Any time I went shopping I would have to figure out if the larger items would fit in the trunk. On trips fitting all the luggage into the trunk was a nightmare. Since I never took the same bags on every trip, I had to prepack the trunk every year to make sure I would not have a last minute crisis.

After I had the car for ten years, I decided to think about my next car. I loved the Civic, but the trunk was a problem. I wanted to stay with Honda. In 2015 the Fit and the HRV did offer a better cargo option, but I was not impressed with either model. As an afterthought I decided to sit in the CRV. The moment I did so, I knew it was the car for me.

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The interior of the CRV was more comfortable than that of the Fit or the HRV. I could pull things out of the back instead of lifting up and out of the Civic trunk. The gas mileage was not as good as that of the Civic, but the difference was only a few miles.

I had no reason to let go of the Civic, but I wanted the person who bought it to have a good car for many years. Still I was sad and knew parting would be difficult. I had never owned a car for so long. In March I knew the time had come. The 2015 CRVs were gone and finding a used 2016 would be impossible. Rumors on the internet speculated the CRV would be larger in 2017 and I did not want a larger car.

I wanted a certain color and did not want all wheel drive. Honda had to search a five-state area, but they found it. I was excited to be getting my first new car in decades, but I still wondered about where the Civic would go. My mechanic thought his son would want the car. If he did not, the mechanic would put the car on his lot to sell.

I gave the Civic one last wash to get the bugs from my last trip off the car. My neighbor came over to welcome me home. I told him to say goodbye to the Civic. Unbeknownst to me, that morning he had been looking for a used car since his vehicle was in bad shape. He offered me more that the mechanic had offered and we handled the paper work. He was thrilled with a good car that had never been in the winter. He fusses over that car all the time! I was happy that my beloved Civic was right next door. By the way, I absolutely love my CRV. Everyone is content!!!!!