My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Hi-tech frustrations and other odds and ends

As some of you may know, I won the DeLorme Challenge for November, and the prize was $100 of merchandise from their website. For my free stuff, I chose the latest version of their software, and a rechargeable lithium battery kit with both AC and car chargers.

The package arrived Tuesday afternoon around 2 PM, and like a kid at Christmas, I ripped open the package, stuck the new software disk in my drive, and waited. The drive started, but nothing showed up on the screen, portents of things to come. I opened the drive, waited a few seconds, then closed it again, this time the install screen showed up. I started the install, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Yes, it was installing, but at a pace where a sedated snail could have passed it easily. An hour and a half later, at 3:30 PM, it was time for me to leave for work, but the new software still hadn’t finished installing itself. I didn’t want to cancel the installation and go through all that again, so I left the computer running and went to work. I have no idea how long it took for the installation to complete, but it was only 2/3 of the way done when I left for work.

When I got home that night, it had managed to finish the installation, so I rebooted the computer and fired up the new software….it didn’t load. Great, reboot again, this time the new software did load, and it looked pretty good. I went to transfer the waypoints that I have saved on the handheld unit into the new software, and I got a warning screen telling me I need to update the firmware on the handheld before it will work with the new software, and that when I update the firmware, everything on the handheld will be lost. Sheesh, I backed up everything on the handheld in the old version of the software, then start the firmware update, which for some strange reason, I had to download from the Internet, 156 Megs. It seems as though they would have put that on one of the disks that came with the rest of the upgrades. A little over an hour later, I have the firmware update downloaded, but the instructions suddenly became a bit vague. I transferred the update to the handheld, but it didn’t take, I moved it to the wrong place on the handheld, so I try again. This time it took, took is a good term, as it took the handheld nearly an hour to perform the firmware update.

Somewhere in this timeframe, my Internet access quite working, I thought it had something to do with the new software and firmware updates, but I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure out the problem. I tried to uninstall the new software a couple of times, and each time I tried, it locked up the computer. So, I thought I would work with what I had since it was getting late. I tried to transfer those saved waypoints from the old software into the handheld, but that didn’t seem to be working either. I was one frustrated geek. I finally figured out that the waypoints are stored in a completely different manner with the upgrades, I suppose I should have read the help file. I still couldn’t get my Internet access to function, but it was after 4 AM and I was tired. I went to bed, and as I was drifting off to sleep, formed a plan to remedy the situation in the morning, which made it easier to sleep, knowing I had a plan.

When I got up in the morning and fired up the computer, my Internet Access was working just fine, must be Verizon had a failure the night before, something that does happen from time to time. So I didn’t have anything to fix after all.

After all that frustration, I will say that it was worth it as far as the new upgrades. The reason I couldn’t find the waypoints I have stored when I first did the transfer is that now, you can organize the waypoints into groups, a lot better than having hundreds of places to scroll through to find the one I am looking for. All I have to do now is to group all the ones I have saved already, it will take a little time, but it will definitely be worth it. I will group them by rivers and by locations, like one group for the access sites on the Pine River, and another group for the Pigeon River Country. Then, I can see the waypoints for just that river or area, and not have to scroll through all the waypoints to get to the one I want to view.

Another great feature is the ability to Geotag photos. When I do one of my hikes or explorations and save a track, I can synch that track with a folder with the photos I took while recording that track, and the track will mark the exact position where the photos were taken. How cool is that! If I want to see where a picture was taken from, all I have to do is to refer to the saved track from that day, and I can see exactly where I was when I took the picture. That way, I can return to that spot again, or I can also send the GPS coordinates to others if they want to go to that spot. I love it! I can also Geotag files and hyperlinks, also good for organizational purposes. When I get home from a trip, I can write it up as I do now, but then link it back and forth with the track from that trip. That way, if I am looking at the track while planning another trip, I can click a link to open the journal entry for the past trip, or vice versa, I can open the track from with in the journal entry from that day.

There are other new features that I am still learning, hey, it’s only been a couple of days. I am not too sure about the rechargeable lithium battery though, I am not sure if it was charged all the way or what, but when I walked yesterday, the battery was going dead after only 40 minutes or so. That’s not good for hiking or kayaking! I will try it again, if that’s all the longer the lithium battery lasts, I will still be using a lot of the regular batteries, darn! I’ve tried the lithium battery again, and I am still not impressed. The set up will work great for my exploration trips in my vehicle, not so good for hiking and kayaking, but we will see. The cold weather may affect the lithium batteries more than alkaline.

Last Saturday I hiked a new to me park, Lake Harbor Park in Norton Shores, Michigan. I was impressed! For being where it is, surrounded by cities, it is an amazing place. The dunes are impressive, and there is almost a mile of Lake Michigan beach, plus the park butts up against Mona Lake and its channel to the Big Lake.

The beach at Lake Harbor Park

The reason there was so much undeveloped land for the park is that it used to be the site of large, upscale resort/hotel much like the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, in fact, the two were rivals. The hotel at Lake Harbor Park burned to the ground in the early 20th century, but the family that owned it never rebuilt the hotel or sold the land until recently. There are still some of the old foundations of the buildings left in the park, a little bit of history to go along with some great walking trails and the beach.

A land conservancy helped to put the park in place. A land conservancy is a non-profit group that raises money to buy undeveloped land to preserve for future generations. In this case, they helped create the park by purchasing the land, which they sold to the city at a reduced price so the city could afford it. Sometimes, it works the other way around, there are several preserves that used to be parks, but the governing bodies couldn’t afford to maintain the parks, so they have been sold to land conservancies to preserve. If you look on the right side of the screen, there are links to several that operate here in Michigan, and I will be adding more links as I find them. Many of them hold the land they have purchased and allow the public access. Some of these have developed trails, others are just tracts of undeveloped land of various sizes, from an acre to thousands of acres. If you are ever looking for a quiet place to spend a day, or even a few hours, you should look up the land conservancies in your area, and see if they allow access to their lands.

My favorite land conservancy is The Little Traverse Conservancy  for a couple of different reasons. One, they not only allow access to most of their preserves, they encourage it in order to attract more people to join up. Most of their larger preserves have a developed and marked trail system for people to use, along with detailed directions and maps, both printed and online. The fact that they have made buying undeveloped land along the Pigeon River one of their top priorities helps too, since it is my favorite trout stream to fish.

Right now, I am looking for a group that operates in an area closer to where I live, so that I can do more than just send a check, but the first couple I found don’t allow access to many of their preserves, unless you hire one of their guides, who only work with groups. I may be on to one that I feel comfortable with, I’ll post more when I know for sure.

I don’t want this blog to turn political, but I have to say that our Governor elect, Rick Snyder is impressing me by what he plans to do when he takes office.  Splitting the DNR again is something that should never have been undone in the first place. Back in the 70’s, it was a priority for environmental groups to split up the DNR, but it wasn’t until the 90’s that it happened. It is hard for an agency that is in charge of the use of our natural resources to also be a good steward of those same resources. By splitting the DNR, hopefully there will be more checks and balances on the use of the natural resources we have here in Michigan. I was a little disappointed that Rick Snyder didn’t put the appointment of the head of the DNR back under the jurisdiction of the Natural Resources Commission, but maybe he will later on. Rodney Stokes as the head of the DNR is a good appointment, but I would rather see the NRC make the appointment.

 I have read that some kook sued the Federal Government and won, as far as banning things like hunting and snowmobiling in parts of the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Come on, deer gun season is the only time the woods are crowded with hunters, and that’s two weeks out of the year. There are families that have hunted the same spots for generations, and now those places may be off-limits to hunting, because one guy doesn’t like hunters, and found a judge who would agree with him. I am not a big fan of snowmobiles, but there are miles of trails that have been paid for that may now go to waste if this silly ban holds. You can always find quiet places to be out and about in Michigan, any time of the year, so why this ban has to take effect is beyond me. The ban will be for nearly 10% of the forest, that’s a lot of land, just because some selfish slob doesn’t want to share the outdoors with other people who enjoy the outdoors in ways this guy doesn’t like. That’s what it boils down to, people not willing to share, and/or don’t like what others do for fun, so they look to the law to ban things they don’t like.

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