Category Archives: trip

Inspired by the First All-Female USAF Boeing E-3 Sentry Air Crew

Rachel and Sarah had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to visit Tinker Air Force Base by Oklahoma City and tour a Boeing E-3 Sentry (AWACS) aircraft with the first all-female crew in the history of the US Air Force.

USAF Women in the E3 AWACS

The girls spent about ten minutes in the cockpit checking out the controls and asking questions of both female pilots and the female flight engineer.

Sarah & Rachel in the E3 AWACS

Then they learned all about the mission and roles of the air crew in the AWACS, which serves as the “eyes and ears” of the US national command authority worldwide. I’ve wanted my girls to get a better understanding of what officers and NCOs in the US Air Force do and what careers they could potentially have in the military, and yesterday was absolutely the PERFECT opportunity to help them do that! MANY thanks to my friend and classmate Vern Conaway, who let us know about this opportunity.

Oklahoma City’s Fox 25 News interviewed Rachel and Sarah during their tour and featured some of their comments in a video news segment which aired on March 15th.

Rachel recorded a 2.5 minute narrated slideshow, “Inspired by Women in the US Air Force,” using the app SonicPics on my iPhone, sharing some additional thoughts and reflections about the impact of this experience on her.

Thinking and planning for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers starts early! Many thanks to all the officers, NCOs, and civilian employees at Tinker AFB who made these experiences possible!

Inspired by USAF Women

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Storychasing our Philmont Backpacking Trek in June 2012 with Images, Audio & Video

This month I was greatly blessed by the opportunity to serve as an adult advisor on my son’s first backpacking “high adventure” trek to Philmont Scout Ranch in northeastern New Mexico. We spent 11 days and 10 nights on the trail, and I probably lost somewhere between 5 to 10 pounds on the journey! In this post I’ll share a few photos and some of the ways I was a “storychaser” of our adventures using my iPhone in the Philmont backcountry. All 212 photos from our trip are included in this Flickr collection, and 7 of the 8 videos I recorded are chronologically connected in this 4.5 minute video I uploaded to YouTube.

The number one reason I wanted to use my iPhone4 as my camera at Philmont, instead of a battery operated digital camera, was its ability to take HDR (high dynamic range) photos with the Pro HDR app which Dean Shareski told me about several years ago. I absolutely LOVE this app and the high quality images it enables me to capture. Especially in the mountains where landscapes have dark shadows as well as bright sunshine and clouds, the HDR app is priceless. Here are a few of my favorite HDR photos I captured on our trek.

Alexander by Cathedral Rock, on day 2 of our trek.

Alex at Cathedral Rock

Looking down the mountain at surrounding clouds and storms, climbing Mount Phillips (11,700′ MSL) on day 4 of our trek.

Climbing Mount Phillips

Sunset at Fish Camp, which is where Waite Phillips (the Tulsa oil man who donated the 127,000 acres which comprises Philmont in 1938 and 1941) built his favorite backcountry cabin.

Sunset at Fish Camp

View from “the notch” overlooking Rayado Canyon, between Fish Camp and Abrehu.

View from the Notch in Rayado Canyon

Alexander on top of the Tooth of Time on day 11.

Alex on Top of the Tooth of Time

The other iPhoneography app I really like on my iPhone4 is Pano, which takes great panoramic images. It’s incidentally also available for Android and Windows 7 phones. Here are a few of my pano shots from Philmont this month.

Having breakfast on top of Mount Phillips on day 5.

On top of Mount Phillips [PANO]

On the porch of the staff cabin at Cimarroncito Camp on day 2.

Cabin View at Cimarroncito [PANO]

Panorama (almost 360 degrees) on top of the Tooth of Time on day 11.

Top of the Tooth of Time [PANO]

Since we were on the trail for 11 days and did not have ANY access to electricity, I needed a way to use solar power to charge my iPhone. (I could have opted for a battery charger, but I didn’t want to carry all the extra battery weight.) I purchased a $35 G24i Solar Innovations Power Curve Solar Charger at Academy Sports before our trip, and was pleased with the performance overall. It came with a USB female plug which I could directly use with my iPhone USB dock charging cable.

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The Power Curve has a rechargeable battery built into it, so I would charge it during the day and then recharge my iPhone at night. I generally was able to get a 30% to 40% charge of my iPhone4 each night with a full solar battery charge. Near the end of the trip during the day I got down to less than 10% battery at some points, but I was able to boost the iPhone battery enough that I was able to take all the pictures I wanted. I did turn the brightness down to almost zero (probably about 15% of max brightness) for the entire trip, along with turning on airplane mode to conserve battery. According to the instructions, the solar charger needed 6 to 8 hours in direct sunlight to become fully charged. I found this was not possible when the charger was just hanging on the back of my backpack on the trail. I needed to set the charger in direct sunlight at camp for many hours each day, when possible, to obtain the maximum charge available.

I was able to make a couple calls at different points of our trip, mainly on top of mountains and high ridges where cell phone service was available. Since the Oklahoma City Thunder was in the NBA finals during our trek, it was ‘critical’ (in the minds of several of our boys) to get score updates. Overall, however, I was ‘unplugged’ from the grid for almost two weeks and really enjoyed it.

Since I had my iPhone, instead of keeping a written journal during our trek I decided to make an audio journal using the free app AudioBoo. (In addition to iOS, AudioBoo is also available for Android and Nokia phones.) I recorded a short audio journal entry each night before bed, and selected a photo from the day to accompany it. After getting back home to Oklahoma City, I uploaded all of those AudioBoo recordings to the web. This worked great and is an audio journal option I highly recommend to others taking trips you’d like to document.

I came very close before the trek to buying a Spot Connect satellite GPS device which would allow me to tweet from the backcountry with our updated GPS coordinates. Our Philmont ranger told us these are discouraged in the backcountry, because of the possibility of accidentally hitting the “panic / come rescue me” button and inadvertently calling in a rescue helicopter. It’s possible in the next couple years my son and I may go on another high adventure trek canoeing in the Minnesota / Canadian boundary waters. If so, I might again explore that option. As it turned out, it was great to be largely disconnected from technology and information during our trek, and the option to “tweet from the backcountry” might have been more of a distraction in our journey than it would have been worth.

If you ever have an opportunity to go on a backpacking trek to Philmont, I highly recommend that you go. I went on a trek with my scout troop from Manhattan, Kansas, (Troop 74) back in 1986, and was a Philmont “zoomie” ranger in the summers of 1990 and 1992. Philmont is a truly magical place and it casts a spell on you that will last a lifetime. It was a tremendous blessing to be able to share these experiences with my son this summer!

Alex and Wes After the Trek

Evening Chapel Service at Philmont

Closing Campfire

This trek was, by the way, the reason I was not able to attend ISTE 2012 this year. Next year I definitely hope to attend ISTE 2013 in San Antonio.

To learn more about my favorite iPhoneography apps, please see my iPhoneography workshop curriculum. An hour long videoconference I taught on iPhoneography in December 2011 is also available free on YouTube.

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A Train to Fort Worth

We surprised our kids in April 2008 with a train trip to Fort Worth from Oklahoma City. This is the best resolution version of this movie that I have at this point. What FUN this was!

I found this video tonight as I was looking at data on an old hard drive. Unfortunately the new version of iMovie isn’t compatible with the older version I created this with. If I find a copy at some point I may encode this at a higher resolution. At least we have this version!

Photos from New England: December 2010

I’ve published all the photos from the trip Sarah and I took to New Hampshire and Maine last week to a new Flickr collection.

Collection: New England Dec 2010

I still have more videos to publish, but it’s good to have all the photos online. I’ve found if I don’t share photos fairly soon after a trip, lots of other things get my attention and it’s more challenging to do it later. Lots of GREAT memories were made on this trip. :-)

CMTC Technology Conference 2010

Wells, Maine

Cathy Wolinsky, Sarah and Alice Barr

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Fun camping in the Pecos

Here’s a few favorite photos from the images we took this week in the Pecos wilderness area in New Mexico, and I uploaded to Flickr. I have more short videos to upload, along with all the photos from mom’s camera which I don’t have with me this evening. We had a GREAT time!

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Panorama at Jack's Creek Campground, Pecos Wilderness, New Mexico

This was the best fish I’d ever eaten in my entire life. You can’t beat freshly caught and cooked trout.

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We camped at Terrero Campground, since Holy Ghost campground was closed for bathroom upgrades. This was our tent and campsite early in the week. It REALLY filled up (unfortunately but predictably) for the weekend.

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There were hundreds of hummingbirds outside the Terrero general store. I took some video of this as well I’ll upload.

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This was the weather forecast for Edmond the past week: Highs every day of 104! In the mountains at our campsite, it got down to the 50s and up only to the upper 70s.

The weather for Edmond the week we were in New Mexico! (Our temps ranged from 50 to high 70s)

Good times!

Dad and Alex

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