Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter vacation

My family joined my sister-in-law's family for a week near San Diego for winter vacation.  That's "winter vacation" defined by a Massachusetts town's school system.  I turned out to be a great week to leave Massachusetts, although the weather threatened to keep us home - those in the Boston area may remember a week ago Saturday's snowfall.  That, and the dead battery I caused by leaving an interior light on in my car for a day.  Roads were smooth - in a car, although I saw many cyclists on the road - and the weather was good enough for swimming and relaxing in a hot tub outside.  I managed three runs and a lot of walking.  One run was at my favorite place in southern California from our last vacation there - Torrey Pines State preserve.  My time wasn't amazing but it is an amazing place.

On our first full evening in California we went to the beach to watch sunset.  The evening turned out well.  We saw the sun hit the horizon and we saw the green flash, only the second time I saw it (the first was heading east on a red eye several years ago).  After sunset we saw a procession of marine mammals (maybe dolphins, possibly fin whales) heading north.  I've seen a lot of whales on the east coast, including watching humpbacks feeding from a USCG helicopter, but this was pretty special.  A minute before sunset:

Friday, February 14, 2014

More web maps

I'm going on a field trip this spring and was looking at new tools for putting maps on the web using Blogger.  I had used Google Fusion Tables for MG's coffeeneuring challenge.  Fusion Tables worked well, with my blog hosting the maps and MG editing them.  We will be using GPS units for collecting data on this trip, producing GPX files and, in some instances, KML files using other collection tools (think AppInventor and Fulcrum).  I was already familiar with Mapbox and I was recently reminded of it when a friend took a job there so I looked at it for this purpose.  I dumped the GPX files from the Ride Studio Cafe Highpoint trip and loaded them into a new map.  It was a breeze.  There are several distinct GPX files because of my unfamiliarity with the Garmin 200 that I was using but it appears as a single line here.  The map is great and took less than 5 minutes to make.  Zoom into the Greylock area and the climb out of the Deerfield River near Florida, MA to see the biggest climbs of the trip.  Zoom in too far and you lose the contour lines in the Google Map terrain background.

I found this picture of several of the riders on Ride Studio Cafe Flickr feed.  It's nice to remember the summer right now. The group after flying down Greylock: