Whale watching Plymouth MA, worth the money?

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We started our whale watching experience in Plymouth, MA.  She has been a few times on the west coast and loves it. One of several choices on the pier was named Capt. John whale watching and you can find it HERE. We walked up to the little booth and asked to purchase 2 adult tickets which ran us $49.00 a piece. Children ages 4-12 were $29.00 and seniors came in at $39.00. While it was on the expensive side we figured we would have to splurge a little to see some of the more exciting things the ocean has to offer. So we ponied up the cash to get on board and into the line we went. We were about 20 minutes early and when the time arrived they opened the gates to board promptly which was nice. We headed to the top of the boat since it was a double decker. We figured there would be a better view up top, however the bottom tier had padded seats. We chose the view over more comfortable seats so you will have to pick your poison. Just be aware it was about a 80 minute boat ride out to the action so the steal seats up top get a little uncomfortable after that long. Getting out of the bay there were at least lighthouses and other boats to see along with houses out in the middle of the sandbar.

But….once you hit the open water you better like to people watch because there is nothing but water surrounding you. The boat was a decent size, we had 150 people on board, they let us know the total capacity was 300 so being half full you never felt cramped. As the ride went along we got a little parched and we went looking for the selling area which is on the first deck. They sell the normal money making things, we got a bottle of water for 2 dollars. They also sold little things you might have forgotten like sun screen, for us albinos who never get any sun and burn if we aren’t coated it in. The prices were not movie gouging prices but not dirt cheap either.

The tour guide did give us some nice information about the whales as we traveled out to our destination. We were lucky enough to have some whale conservationist on board that are doing a study. After introductions they invited anyone that wanted to talk more or learn about their mission to come up and they were happy to answer any questions. They also had some whale bones for everyone to view up close and personal. This lasted about 30 minutes and then it was just us and the water. It was nice day, not to hot but being on the water the heat can be very deceiving. This was evident by the sunburn she received while saying she was a little cold.

The moment of truth arrived about 80 – 90 minutes in we heard the motors slow and the tour guide told us this is a favorite area of the whales and for everyone to start looking for whale blows and birds. These are the two main signs that whales were near so everyone went to side hoping to find what we were out here for. Then it happened about 5 minutes you heard a person say “look over there” and sure enough you seen 2 tails out of the water. The boat came to life to shuttle us in closer but not to fast to not disturb them. We were able to get to about 40 or 50 feet away and really get a good view of two humpback whales feeding. It was a pretty epic sight to see these two behemoths in their natural habitat. They would come to the surface you would see them spout the water out of their backs, dive 2 or 3 times then almost as if there is some pattern they would go straight down tails slipping into the water ever so majestically. We followed them for about 30 minutes and when several more vessels came over to view them as well we left the area so the whales would not feel trapped or overwhelmed.

As we left the area one of the other boats radioed to us and let us know a new location of two other humpbacks. When we arrived they were doing the same hunting and eating as the other two it was really interesting to watch. All of these whales have names and stories, they identify them by the markings on their tales.

Some of these whales have been visiting the area for over 30 years.  It was a very fun trip and I definitely would recommend doing this. We had her nieces with us and the kids really seemed to enjoy watching these mammals in their natural habitat.

My review Of DJI Mavic Pro

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I found myself doing a lot of back and forth on this one, did I really need to buy a drone for entertainment? But let’s face it aerial shots are much cooler than the average run of the mill ground shots! After a few weeks of doing some research I narrowed my choice to three drones. The first being the rather new Go Pro Drone, second the , and finally the DJI Mavic Pro.

For my personal choice I went with the DJI Mavic Pro. It came down to the ability to travel with it. This drone has a smaller footprint (weighing in at only 1.62 lbs) to begin with, but when you fold it up it becomes extremely portable.

It also has a very nice camera that can shoot in 4k resolution up to 30 FPS. It comes with everything you need to fly right out of the box. You get a nice controller that has all the information you need to fly your drone for in sight flights only. Hooking up a cell phone or tablet greatly increases your view of flying and really is the best way to enjoy the full features of the craft. I will say that while a tablet enables you to have a larger viewing screen we found that her Samsung Tab A had a very choppy video feed. Also in the kit comes a battery and charger with all the wiring you need to connect it to a wall outlet or USB charging as well. Lastly you get extra propellers for when you let your significant other attempt to fly it.

After getting this bad boy all charged up, it takes about an hour to charge the battery and controller, I was ready to attempt my first flight. Both the battery and controller can be charged at the same time using the same power pack. After I got it all hooked up to my Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge and patched the firmware to the current patch I pushed the start button and it was alive. All 4 glorious motors turning in tandem to keep the beast at a steady 5 feet. The controller lets you know how many satellites it has locked on to its position. This helps with return home feature, one of them most important features you need to know before flying this bird out of sight. Within seconds I was up to 150 feet and soaring through the clear blue yonder, the picture on the camera was crystal clear and the drone responds almost instantly giving you a great birds eye view.

A single charge kept the drone in the air for 23 minutes, which is not to bad. I do suggest buying another battery (or two) if you plan on  spending any real extended time trying to capture some great footage or that perfect shot.

There is only one real accessory I would recommend, other than additional batteries, and that would be a carrying case. I bought this one, from amazon and it is specifically for the Mavic.

This particular case comes with a strap you can toss over your shoulder for those long hikes and everything fits in it perfectly (I even had the additional landing gear attached). I purchased the landing gear separately and while these are nice to keep your gimble out of the grass and dirt they are not a must have. Overall I would definitely recommend this product. I will be doing some still photos and video footage which I will be posting with some of the travel blogs. If you have any questions ask away.

She got a new ride

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She broke me down after weeks of looking for a new vehicle to help in our little adventures. We were driving a 2015 Jeep Cherokee, but needed a little more room. Even with the seats down it was a tight fit between the Yeti Cooler, our camping/backpacking gear, and the dogs. Plus let’s face it she had the Cherokee for a full year so her attention span had already began to wain. Sure it was maybe 10% my fault since in my spare time I just like looking at cars, it gives me something to do on a day off. I guess my error was actually bringing her with me. She saw the Jeep Wrangler and said “hey that would fit all of our gear with some room to spare plus we can get a hitch”, then I saw her eyes light up and thoughts racing. I tried to back track and tell her all the little things she would be giving up like the back up camera , a nice touch screen radio, heated seats and steering wheel. Alas I was to late it was over at that point and all I heard the next few weeks was how perfect a Wrangler would be.

So onto the second worse experience you have as an adult (the first being a colonoscopy) we went. You have to prepare your self mentally for the onslaught which is the new car shopping experience. We know its an all day ordeal and sometimes you just don’t make the deal. Here is how it went down. Our first trip was to a local Dodge,Jeep dealership in Salem, Ohio while we were home on a small break from work. Of course they were having a “Big spring blowout”… yeah sure they were. So we met our salesman “Jeff”. After talking for a bit we found out he actually travels around to different Jeep dealerships (I later found out these salesman are called gypsies, convenient name I suppose) when they have these big sales. To me this isn’t the best idea when buying a car because as we all know at some point you always need to go back to the dealership for some reason. Without a point of contact you could be stuck running around in circles for hours while they try to figure out what you need. But hey I kept an open mind and if they could get  me the deal I wanted then it is all good. They had several jeeps on the lot and we were looking for the newer colors. She liked the blue, I liked the green and this debate still rages on to today of which is better. Anyhow, we got in a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited in hyper green. For the options it had 4 doors, didn’t I tell you jeep wranglers don’t have a lot of fun options to add? She started it up, since this was going to be her daily driver, and off we went. It drives….well like a jeep wrangler, it floats and waggles on the highway at speeds over 15mph, and it is less nimble then throwing a brick thru the air. But hey again its not my driver that will be reviewed later. We arrived back at the dealership and of course she liked it, its hard to not like any car with that new car smell. We proceeded to chat several more minutes then headed inside where you get down to the real heart of the matter….price, the longest and most dreadful part of the whole process. After several hours we got close to a price but were about a 1000 off what I wanted to spend so we walked away from that deal. Now men you have to be strong against the many sad faces you will receive like I was, and telling her to be patient.

 

The next few days we talked about it some more, we were up in Cleveland doing some errands and we passed a Dodge/Jeep dealer in the area. Of course she gave me the look so in we went, she had her heart set on a 2017 Chief Blue Wrangler Unlimited. We talked price yet again and while this one had several more options….IE running boards, LED lights, and one of the few that had a touch screen radio installed. So of course the price was about 2k more then the less optioned 2016. So once again we were off on the amount I wanted to spend on a car. As we were about to call it a day once again when our salesman Todd, who seems like a really nice guy, said he thinks he could get us a hyper green 2017 for the price we (meaning I) were willing to pay. He brought out the window sticker it had the bare minimum options again, but at least we were getting closer so after a few more minutes of haggling we agreed on the price. He said it would take them an hour to get it from another dealer, and since we were stuck in Cleveland all day it wasn’t to big of a deal, we went to lunch, then dinner and about 10 hours later….no I’m not kidding….we were able to get the car and head home. She is very happy with it and we can’t wait to try it out on some trails, and also make a few visual mods to our cars. I will be making a post on my car in few weeks.

The best tent we have ever owned!

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This is the best tent we have ever owned….it is also the only tent we have owned. Now don’t get me wrong we have both camped but never with a tent we researched and spent some hard earned cash on.With outdoor camping season almost on top of us we went out and bought us some camping gear. We will be doing some reviews on what we bought and how they last as we use them this summer. The first review will be of our new tent. Tents, backpacks, and sleeping bags are the areas where spending a few of your hard earned bucks will pay off. Trust us since we learned first hand that the weather man is not right sometimes.

We bought the REI Quarter Dome 3, this tent is one of the higher priced tents out there, but like I said you want a tent that will hold up to the weather. The first thing that got my attention is this tent weighs in at 4lb 1oz, yes a full 3 person tent for the weight of butter, OK maybe a bit more. This is considered an ultralight tent which is my  favorite thing to hear when I have a backpack on and know I am about to walk for miles. How we came about this decision was standing in the store staring at all of the choices. We did actually do some research prior to the store visit but the final choice was made there. To narrow it down you have to look at material vs size and cost. The material is nylon, ultra light and waterproof, its called the 3 quarter dome because well I am guessing its made for 3 people. Now you may be thinking but are only 2 of you guys, and yes there are 2 humans but surprise  we have one 4 legged friend that is about to start his hiking career with his family. We have been doing some small hikes to break him in until he is old enough for the long hikes. Anyway that is the reason we needed some extra room plus we will have our gear and other necessities. The tent only comes in red and a gray color but its appealing to the eyes , so in pure girl form Rebecca said “ohh its pretty lets get that one” so off we went to the cashier. This tent retails for $399 and if you become a REI memeber you then get a 10% member dividends. This brought the price down but you only get the dividend once a year so you have to wait for that money.

We got the tent home and figured it was probably a good idea if we actually set the tent up before our first trip just to make sure we don’t look like those rookies. We have all seen those people that get out on the trail then decide to try things out for the first time, next thing you know they are tangled up and then somehow tied to the tree asking for help. My help was Rebecca and Gannicus (our golden retriever) who I think both have the same experience setting up tents.  While she tried, and will get better, I was working mostly by myself. Out came the tent which comes with 3 bags, one for the tent and all supplies packed up, one for the poles, and the last for the spikes and tie downs for the rain fly. I laid out all 3 bags side by side so somehow one doesn’t roll under a blade of grass and gets lost forever. We grabbed the tent and unfolded it (which weighs next to nothing), unrolled it, flapped it a few times in the air and like magic it floated down on the ground and was ready to go. We proceeded to pin down the 4 corners with the spikes and then we stared at what was left the tent itself. It was ordinary enough looking but then there was this thing…it looked like 2 spiders threw up and made this tangled mess of carbon and fibers. Sadly I relented to my never looking at directions attitude and had Rebecca read away After hearing the words “match the colors” it was all I needed. The poles are color coded in orange and blue and the tent was easy and pretty straightforward to set up. It was a decent size and looked good when set up. The mesh forms the largest part of the tent so all  the condensation that forms overnight?! Well when you wake up in the morning that may not be a problem here.  The rainfly was next and it attached in the same simple manner with the color coded poles did. So a few simple snaps and it was set up and ready to go. With two entrances on the tent it doesn’t matter which way you face it you can get in and out rather easy, the zippers worked well and did not snag when we were setting up. The floor of the tent is the same lightweight material made from the rest of the tent. This is both good and bad. It is thin and very lightweight but on the downside I am sure it wouldn’t take much for a twig or rock at the wrong angle under it to puncture a hole in it. This is why we bought a REI footprint to place under the tent and also a thick tarp for inside the tent,to protect from doggy paws, for when we will be car camping.  We tested the size of the inside by climbing in and unwrapping our queen size air mattress, again for luxury during car camping trips, which fit and left about a foot or so of room at the end of the tent. Due to the unexpected weather of our first camping trip the pictures of the tent with everything inside was not possible at this time. The tear down was just as easy as the set up and while it never looks as pretty in the package when you put it away there was plenty of space to get it put away.

As we said before our weather was a little off for our first overnight stay in the tent. This works to your benefit because we can say a few things for sure. First off the tent is definitely waterproof! The rainfly kept us dry while also blocking the cold wind that was brought in with the storm. Second, while Sasha (aka big dog) will not be doing a lot of camping trips with us due to allergy issues she was with us on this trip. So two humans, a 40lb puppy, and a 70lb dog all fit comfortably in this tent with the air mattress set up as well.

There are pockets in the tent to keep things in one spot, like your cell phone and Rebecca’s ever present tubes of Carmex…..which you have to remember to take out before you take the tent down. Overall we were very pleased with our purchase and recommend it for your camping adventures.