Fun with Fotos

For those of you in the Mac world, the newest update to Photos has some very interesting “recognition” features. It’s had pretty good facial recognition in the past, but that feature has been taken to another level, Object recognition now spots things like trees, boats, beaches, bicycles, mountains and more. Another remarkable feature takes faces, dates, or a location and makes a “Memory” album from it’s recognition capabilities.


This can be helpful in finding a photo when you can’t remember the date. Or if you’re just curious to see how many beach photos you’ve got in your library by simply typing in “beach” in the Search area.




You can’t imagine how many “boats” the Search function located in my library. It even distinguished between sailing boats and boats in general.


Another feature that’s been around for a while in Photos is the ability to find a photo by location.  If you’re using an iPhone or camera that has geo-location, Photos puts those photos on it’s world map.


zoomeedinYou can zoom the map to more detail expanding a country, a state, a national park to see where each photo was taken. Yes, geo-location on photos posted on Facebook or Instagram may be problematic if you don’t want someone tagging your home, but for travel and adventure it’s  a real advantage.


I’ve used the object identification to find a specific bike packing rig I used on the Great Divide ride for example. With almost 25,000 photos in my photo library at this time it’s helpful. It’s uncanny how the software can suss out a bike wheel, or handlebars.


One new feature I’d never imagined is how the updated Photo App puts together “Memories” albums that are complete slideshows with music and titles based on a location, time period or most amazingly on two or more people, selecting only photos based on those selected people’s faces.groups

june6Photos (the application) selected a trip in 2010 that McKenny’s and Kurt and Carol were on for a “memorable” slideshow for example. What a super surprise and joy to see a slideshow featuring friends from over 6 years ago. You can change the title and/or the music with a click if you’d prefer a better title than “June 6”.

If you haven’t explored this new version of Photos in OS X Sierra you’ve got a wonderful treat coming.





Mostly Social

Mostly social things have kept us close to home lately. Chris George had his 78th and is in good form. Great fun catching up with friends and hearing about their travels and families.


img_6300Lots of tech support and a couple days working on a rental.

Spent a Saturday doing a local Solar Home Tour with Carol Martin, where we learned something at every one of the 9 homes we visited. Saw installations on million dollar homes, an off the grid earth home and an Air B & B rental not to mention regular single family homes.  (BTW our latest installation is cranking out plenty of kW’s)

Most unusual home was built by an former Intel engineer that had almost every energy trick you could think of, including what he called a “battery” of hot water storage in 3 levels of Pex tubing under his garage cement floor.

img_6298Speaking of unusual, Mike Taylor needed help removing a pack rat nest in the ventilation cowling of his engine compartment.  Toyota wasn’t interested in taking that part of his newer truck apart evidently. The nest was about 8 inches in diameter and the rodents had dragged all sorts of things up into that secluded home.  A  missing glove was funny, but the book of matches was just plain weird.

A couple of arduous day hikes kept the legs limber, but nothing overnight on the calendar until later in the month when we’ll head to the desert. Eager to test out a couple of newer UL acquisitions.

Packing Light


Lots of mention in this Blog about UltraLight backpacking, but the core philosophy is packing light and making clothing and gear work for multiple uses.

img_7345Packing light seems smart, intuitive, and sensible, but after watching countless tourists and travelers tote and carry humungous roller bags and huge backpacks (some also with daypacks on their chests), or try to stuff oversized carry-on bags into airline compartments, it’s worth a rant on packing light. We travel for 3 weeks with less than 14 pounds and for 4 months with less than 25. All of this in a day pack.

Core Principles:

  • Weigh every item
  • Keep a list of item weights
  • Make each item serve multiple purposes
  • Plan to hand wash items that will dry overnight
  • Shop with weight in mind
  • Choose a bag for comfort and convenience not one to fit everything into
  • Roll your clothing
  • Compartmentalize your gear
  • Keep in mind you can wear the same outfit every day
  • Take a photo of your “pile” before you pack for future reference

ScaleOne of the best techniques for Packing Light of course is a kitchen scale. Available from Walmart to Amazon for less than $20, you can know empirically which of your items weighs less than another and worth packing.

Of course, unless your memory is photographic or you indelibly mark (like children’s camp clothing) the weight on each item, you’re going to have to write it down. You can be compulsive like me and keep an excel spreadsheet, or on the back of a junk mail checklistsampleenvelope like your passwords. There are even apps for logging your gear. The main thing is write it down. Choosing between two tops or shirts becomes much easier when you know the which one is lighter.

Mixing and matching is touted by all the fashion cognoscenti, why not make your travel choices work together, with gear as well as clothing. One example might be an iPad that can be used for reading, travel guide, internet, email, movies, camera, showing photos of “home”, blogging and notes. We’ve loaded Lonely Planet & Swiss hiking guide books in Kindle App so that we don’t carry those thick and heavy tomes in our load. Zip-off pants can serve as long pants for churches or shorts for warmer weather.  Believe it or not, Merino Wool base layer shirts can work in cold and warm weather. If you try IceBreaker for example I’ll guarantee you won’t care whether it’s Norway or Moab.

clothesunpackedWe plan on hand-washing most of our clothing while traveling, so that means selecting items that are typically wrinkle-free, will wring out easily and dry fast. Cotton t-shirts don’t fit in that category. A simple short sleeved collared cotton shirt will dry much faster than a t-shirt, will upgrade your casual appearance and store smaller. All these shirts and pants on the left fit in my day pack, along with plenty of other gear for a multi-month trip. All our choices can be washed in a bathroom sink (with hand soap) and dried overnight. Wool socks can be the only difficultly in cold climes and wringing them out inside a towel will extract most of the moisture before you put them next to a heater.   Two pairs will allow for a 2nd day’s drying time. We’ve even slept on the damp socks overnight to completely dry them.

Of course buying and owning lightweight, wrinkle-free, fast drying clothing is best. The biggest objection to ultralight backpacker wannabes is the cost of outfitting, but if you just keep in mind with every new or next acquisition the UL or Lightweight requirements, you’ll have what you need in the matter of a few years, if not a couple of trips or birthdays.

First thing to learn in the UL world is don’t believe the advertising, sale person or marketing when it comes to their concept of “lightweight”.  I once had a reputable backcountry salesman tell me his bivy sack (a nylon tube for your sleeping bag) was ultralight and it weighed more than my 2-person tent.  Check the specifications, bring a scale to the store or keep the sales slip and weigh it after you get home.

We use Osprey day packs, Talon 22’s (top photo) or an older 24-liter pack. Hard to believe but you can get enough for a 21-day trip including electronics in easily. Stanna even takes three pairs of shoes (two pairs in the pack, one pair on her feet). Below is the photo of my clothing and gear for our latest 21-day hiking trip to Switzerland.  Plenty for air travel, eating in good restaurants, and hiking in mountains with snow.


swisscubepacksAs you can see, I learned from the days of the airline “stewardess” that the most efficient way to pack is to roll your clothes. Using a velcro strap is the OCD version of rolling. In addition, we compartmentalize our load with Eagle Creek Cubes which help to compress the load and slide easily in and out of the packs.

Give it a try on your next trip, whether flying to Europe, Asia or your next high country overnight. Once you start thinking lightweight the trips will become easier and you’ll be wondering why tourists have a rolling mini-trunk behind them or that young traveler needs that tortoise-sized pack on his back plus the day pack in front.

Catching Up

img_5912img_5918Catching up with friends, chores, mail, exercise and getting back into our routine.  Best was a weekend visit with McKenney’s in Ridgway, with Kurt & Carol and us driving north to stay with them.  Good friends, good food and good hikes.  Kurt isn’t shown because he took the best photos and shared them for the blog.

Drive and hiking was spectacular due to a recent snowfall above treeline which accented the fall colors with white mountain tops on the three mountain passes north to Ridgway.



We’re used to seeing various shades of Fall yellow aspens, but this year the red-leafed aspens were at their best.


One indication of time going fast is needing to renew your passports.  We’ve got our request in for another 10 years.  Hopefully the 52-page version will last this decade.

webcamThe Gilmakra Loom is gone and the living room is almost back to normal.  Still lacking a coffee table.  Stanna will order a smaller 24″ loom to replace the behemoth 48″ 10-headle model. And, it’s time to shut off the deck watering system and pull the plants, as a freeze is promised for next week.

Hardest thing has been getting back to the gym routine after 3 weeks.  Spinning and yoga has felt foreign to the body this last week. I did squeeze in a WIS hike in the LaPlatas with my UL buddies before the snow gets more serious.  Looks like “one more summer” has gone.


And if you haven’t upgraded to iOS 10 and Mac OS X Sierra, they are welcome upgrades. And I’m very pleased with the iPhone 7: It’s waterproof which should save me considerable trouble and expense.

img_5790Oh, and the solar array for C-1 finally got energized with the power company, so we have another 3.5kW contributing to renewable energy.

Happy to help or advise on installing your own solar system.