Saturday, February 21, 2015

Travelon Waterproof Phone Pouch - a review

How many times in the not-too-distant past have I bought those disposable underwater cameras, only to be disappointed after snapping a roll of film at some tropical dive paradise? It used to be my annual donation to Kodak. All 24 exposures would be a uniform shade of watered-down teal, with some shadowy objects that might have been fish. I had better results photographing the radar-like display of my father's fish finder. 

Now that I have a smartphone and there are commercially-reasonable protective accessories for under water, technology caught up enough for me to try simple point-and-shoot underwater photography again. Prior to our recent trip to Hawaii, Santa gave me the Travelon waterproof phone pouch, which conveniently retails for USD$10 at Eddie Bauer for those on the naughty list. I'll qualify the review below by stating I have no relationship with the manufacturer, and I expect they'd only reach out to a blog that garners 30 views per day (on average) in an act of desperation.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Picture of the Moment - The Tin Man of Duluth

You can find this whimsical tin man on the eastern outskirts of Duluth, Minnesota. On a cold winter's day, it's no wonder he's frozen stiff.

A view of the tin man heading north on Jean Duluth Road.

There's a strong Wizard of Oz connection in Minnesota. Grand Rapids, near the headwaters of the Mississippi River (a couple hours drive to the west), was the girlhood home of Judy Garland. Such countryside knick-knacks are relics of a bygone era; you probably couldn't build such a thing today due to soulless zoning laws.

It's clear they know how to work with sheet metal. D G Solem & Sons Inc also provides HVAC, duct and plumbing services in the Duluth area. They must also be a country landmark for every resident in the area. "Continue 2 miles past the tin man, then turn right..." It's worth a short car trip from Duluth with a young family.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Minnesota School Bus Shelters

It's easy for a traveller to miss the little things that truly define a place. Sometimes it takes living somewhere to really discover what is culturally self-evident. I've spent nearly five years in northern Minnesota, and some things that I pass every day it's taken that long to actually see.

Such are the small huts scattered throughout rural Minnesota's north country laneways. Used to shelter children from the bitter cold while waiting for the school bus at the end of a long country drive, it's Minnesota parents' way of ensuring their genetic investment keeps all its extremities through to adulthood. Though natural selection takes care of those who can't make it between their front door and the shelter, the huts are an effective means of escaping bitter temperatures that can reach as low as -50F (-45.5C)...without a wind chill. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Riddle Me This

Along with travel-related ramblings of dubious practicality and second-rate photography, I occasionally dabble in amateurish poetry. So why not try my hand at a riddle that combines all these elements at once?

Can you guess the theme of my rebus (probably easy), and the references of its various elements (maybe a little harder)? There's even a bit of a travel twist in here.

A hint? It has nothing to do with dolphins in particular. They just make a nice backdrop.

And, can you guess where the photo was taken?