On The Road Again

We had planned to hit the famous Kellogg’s Cereal City factory tour today, as it is one of the most celebrated on our route. But as Susan was reading the description to the kids at breakfast, she came to the end of the article which stated (paraphrasing) “This attraction is closed, but we’ve left the article here for your enjoyment.” Argh!

We’re now headed to the Curious Kids’ Museum in St. Joseph, MI. As an added bonus, we’ve already had our daily dose of rain, so we are sure to have a dry remainder of the day!

Picture Posting

I mentioned the router before. One of the laptops that connects to the router acts mainly as a server, running tasks in the background, and sitting unobtrusively in the trunk. When everything is working well, I can take pictures from in and around the car, and the Eye-Fi card in the camera will send them wirelessly and automatically to the laptop. The laptop will then run a program which looks at the timestamp on the photo and compares it to a gps track log, and figures out where in the world we were at that time, and records geographical data in the picture metadata. The picture is then automatically uploaded to flickr. And when this doesn’t happen automatically, I attempt to do it manually afterward. So there are lots of pictures on flickr. If you want to scan the un-filtered album, point your browser over to http://www.flickr.com/photos/tastewar/tags/xctrip/

Continental Breakfast

We didn’t make it as far yesterday as we had hoped, largely due to a lengthy wait to cross the border into Canada. Then a short while after we had made it, we ran into heavy traffic due to an accident. But when we got up this morning, the day looked fine, and we had a room in a hotel (Travelodge) right along the western shore of Lake Ontario.

After our “continental” breakfast (on what continent do they serve cellophane wrapped Sara Lee muffins? Oh, that would be North America…), we had a lovely walk along the shoreline, and took some fun pictures which I subsequently accidentally deleted. Argh. As we say in the software industry, that was a “cockpit error” and not a failure of technology.

We then paid for liters of gasoline with Canadian dollars, extinguishing any hope of mentally converting the price. Best that way, probably. We followed the QEW to the 402, stopping briefly for some snacks at a grocery store

Then after crossing the border

we headed down to Dearborn and the Henry Ford Museum, which was to be the highlight of the day. But we arrived at 4:00 and the museum closed at 5:00, and they didn’t offer any kind of reduced admission. A nice cashier, though, said we could go take a peek into the main hall, where we saw this and not much else. Then we drove to Ann Arbor, had some Chinese food for dinner, and found a hotel.

Did you think Niagara would be Dry?

We visited Niagara Falls today!

And as Sam warned us, it truly is more spectacular in person than photos would indicate. When we left our hotel this morning, it was 80 degrees and sunny. By the time we got to Niagara, we had driven through some rain and the temp had dropped 12 degrees. When we arrived, we were practically forced into a commercial parking lot rather than the one for the state park, by an aggressive flag man. In the end, the parking fee was the same, but we had to walk through a commercial Visitor Center that was made to appear as though it were the official one, and we were given quite a  hard sell on a bus tour. In the end, we decided to hoof it, and walked to a bunch of the attractions there.

Here’s a taste

They Could … Go … All … The … Way!

Well, perhaps it’s too early make such a prediction, but we did at least get on the road today. Our friends Larry and Amy, and their children Allison and Jeffrey treated us to breakfast this morning, which was a real treat! Then our neighbors, the Greers, took our picture before we headed on our way.

We were a little later than we intended in getting on the road this morning, but that was mostly because we decided to have some floors refinished, since the house will be devoid of living things for a span.

We followed Rt. 2 from Arlington all the way through Massachusetts up to the northwest corner, then into New York and Troy, where our friends Wendy and Charles, and their children Gregory and Marguerite, treated us to lunch. What a great way to start a trip!

After a relaxing lunch, we found our way to I-87 S and then I-90 W, which took us out to Rochester, where we are spending our first night.

Power to the Router!

One problem with the Honda Odyssey is that when you kill the ignition, power to the “power outlets” goes off as well. Wanting to provide internet access with the car off meant doing a little work, so I’ve built an “Automotive UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).” Now, I can’t take much credit for this “invention” — most of the ingenuity is embodied in the one piece of electronics in it, which is an automotive UPS module I purchased from PowerStream. It is intended for more permanent installation with a second car battery, but I wanted something more portable, so I connected everything up to a traditional UPS battery. Susan found the perfect case at Target, and I supplemented with a bunch of parts (such as the cigar lighter sockets), mostly from DigiKey.

What you see in the picture is my home-built UPS, which will be used to power the router. The router connects to the internet via the Verizon/Kyocera ExpressCard sticking out of the side. When in the car, it connects to an external antenna to hopefully get the widest coverage range. The router then provides internet access to other devices, mostly laptops, through wifi and ethernet.

Interestingly, Verizon offers a device with nearly the same capabilities now, the MiFi:

But in a much smaller package!