Lael’s new office

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For many cyclists an iPhone is a self-contained office, including a basic camera with photo editing and publishing apps.  Lael and I traveled for years without any electronics, eventually graduating to a single iPod Touch that we shared.  We mapped routes, sent e-mails, and even applied for a job from the small touchscreen (I got the job!).  In fact, I started this blog two years ago on an iPod Touch, on a whim.  However, the leap to a proper camera requires a laptop to upload, edit and publish photos.  For a heavy workload including writing and photo editing, that is still the best way.  If your needs are less demanding, the new generation of touchscreen tablets provide a more portable and affordable solution to cyclists.

I purchased a new camera and a new lens this past week.  Lael gets my old camera– an Olympus E-PM1— with the 14-42mm kit lens.  For just over $200, I picked up a 32GB Google Nexus 7 tablet for her as well.  To upload images to the Nexus, I sourced a generic Micro-USB (male) to USB (female) converter, and a miniature SD card reader.  Additionally, I purchased the Nexus Media Importer from the Google Play store, a source for apps, games, and media.  Also included below: the USB wall charger for the Nexus 7 and the battery charger for the E-PM1.  The charger and power cord for the camera battery are bulky and heavy.  Lucky for Lael, the E-PM1 uses the same battery as my new E-P3 camera so she won’t have to carry a charger.  Aftermarket chargers that plug directly into an outlet are available, and they should save weight and space.  This will be Lael‘s new office.

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The E-PM1 camera body is barely larger than an iPhone, and begs for a quality pancake lens to make a nearly pocketable system.  This kit zoom is versatile, and will be familiar in Lael’s hands.

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This lens is lightweight and packable, as it retracts into itself when not in use.  Extended on the left; retracted for storage on the right.

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Barely $10 of electronic hardware and a $2.99 app transform the Nexus 7 from a fun e-reader and web browser into a mobile office for a traveling amateur photographer.

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The Nexus 7 is less than half the size of my MacBook Air and should have no trouble finding a home in a framebag or handlebar bag.  The claimed weight is a mere 340g, less than the weight of most fatbike tubes.  However, if you are riding a fatbike you should be riding tubeless anyway.

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While I drooled over the OM-D EM-5, I settled for the E-P3 at one-third the price.  So far, it is everything I wanted and nothing I don’t need.

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The Olympus E-P3 is available for about $375 from several online retailers.

Check Lael’s Globe of Adventure in the coming weeks to see the new system in action. We will be back on the trail in Belgium at the end of next week.

Electric eastern forests

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The conjunction of New Mexico sunshine with a temperate northern climate equal late-spring electricity in Northern New York forests.  Local residents, and flora, are equally excited at the passing of Memorial Day, which is referred to as the unofficial start of summer around here.  These images are imperfect on their own, yet in series they speak to the dramatic range of a short walk in the woods with my mom.  Some have been edited, other have not.

I purchased my first camera exactly a year ago– an Olympus E-PM1— and have learned greatly from the experience of shooting every day in diverse situations.  My skills do not yet exceed the capacity of the camera, although there are times where I wish the camera or the lens could do things a little differently.  I am looking to multiply my camera collection to give Lael a dedicated system, rather than to borrow mine.  I am mesmerized by the Olympus OM-D, and some modern Panasonic and Olympus prime lenses.  However, less expensive camera bodies are also exciting, leaving a lot more money to experiment with lenses.  I am coming to realize that there are a range of fully-manual legacy lenses that can be adapted to fit M4/3 camera bodies– great glass at a great price, or even decent glass for really cheap.  These days, I operate aperture and shutter speed manually, and use the auto-focus function on the camera with the manual focus engaged.  This allows me full imaging control, with the convenience to shoot one-handed while on the bike, or in other compromising positions, while focusing manually when both hands are free.  I use the zoom to compose images so that I almost never crop images in Lightroom, although much of the time I don’t touch the zoom at all.  Finally, I want something that performs better in low light.  My surroundings are constantly changing.

For anyone looking for an excellent camera and an inexpensive entrance into the popular Micro Four-Thirds format, the Olympus E-PM1 is now sold for under $300 with the 14-42mm kit lens.  For the price, it is a solid workhorse for an aspiring photographer.

Our walk encircled the Tug Hill State Forest along popular winter XC-skiing trails, and traced the rim of Inman Gulf before returning through the forest to the trailhead.  Deep riverine gulfs are common around here as streams downcut into the fractured sedimentary rock of the Tug Hill Plateau following the last Ice Age.  The plateau rises nearly 1000ft from the lowlands surrounding Lake Ontario, capturing over three hundred inches of snow annually.  Native hardwoods dominate these forests, and my memory, including sugar maple, American beech, black cherry, red oak, and hophornbeam.  Streams splash into the depths of Inman Gulf from all sides.

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Kit List: Electronics and paper



11″ MacBook Air with soft case

Western Digital 300GB external hard drive

Olympus E-PM1 digital camera, 14-42mm lens

iPod touch

Spot Connect

basic cell phone

chargers and cables: phone, camera, iPod, data transfer

USB thumb drive





Paper resources and reading:

Colorado Trail Data Book (borrowed)

Colorado state gazetteer, relevant pages only (from Andy)

Great Divide map, Platoro, CO to Pie Town, NM (borrowed from Gary Blakley)

The Elements of Style, Strunk and White (25c at library in Carbondale)

Boneshaker magaZine (free, from SubCulture Cyclery in Salida, CO)

Colorado State highway map (free)




Recent acquisitions:

White Mesa Bike Trails, BLM map (free)

Albuquerque Bike Map (free)

Sandia Foothills trail map (free)


Borrowed and free maps can often be used to create an approximate outline of the route.  Along the way, many additional resources arise– I browse local hiking and biking maps in outdoor stores and regional maps in gas stations; I ask others for their insight on the trail and in local bike shops, and peek at their maps or snap a picture for future reference; and I follow posted maps and road signs when available.  It would be impossible to gather all of these resources at home, from many miles away.  Route planning is much easier and more meaningful en route.

Taking a look at CDT maps alongside the Great Divide map (on the right), having met several thru-hikers ouside Butte, MT.


Headed south, away from Fleecer Ridge on the Great Divide Route.


A borrowed National Geographic series map to get over Rollins Pass from the Great Divide Route.


A free map in the Wrangell-St. Elias tourist brochure, charting my route to the Nabesna Gold Mine.


The roads to Chicken and Eagle, Alaska.  Not too many options up north.  No paper maps required.  In fact, I didn’t carry a dedicated map this summer until I crossed into Montana.


Follow the intermittent Trans-Canada signs, interspersed with Yukon Quest markers on the Dawson Overland Trail.



Singletrack outside Whitehorse, and an easy place to camp out of town.

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Only two roads cut through northern B.C., shown on this map at the junction with the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar.  Turn south, then go straight for almost 500 miles.