Travel tech and topics
For those who DO

For those who DO

As a fan of technology, photography and travel, there are dozens of things that inspire me.

Waterfalls, sunset and clouds

  • Sunsets, waterfalls and big puffy white clouds inspire me to travel.
  • A great new camera inspires me to take more photos.
  • A sleek new computer inspires me to try new projects.
  • And my grandkids always inspire me to attend more of their games, concerts & performances.

You get the idea.  There are gazillions…

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Kevin Spacey caps off 2014 Content Marketing World

Kevin Spacey caps off 2014 Content Marketing World #CMWorld #Cleveland

Advertising is dead!  Sorry, Don Draper.  Content Marketing is king now, and any business interested in touching their target consumer better get with the program. But what is content marketing and how do you do it?

For those answers, we turn to 2014 Content Marketing World going on yesterday and today at the Cleveland Convention Center. In its most basic form, content marketing is using stories…

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CMWorld 2014 opens in Cleveland

CMWorld 2014 opens in Cleveland #CMWorld

Cleveland, Ohio welcomed 2,500 attendees from 50 countries to the fourth annual Content Marketing World event.  The Content Marketing Institute helps brands attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling.

Exhibit Hall B at Content Management World 2014

Since the original Content Marketing World in 2011, attendance has grown 416%. Attendees and speakers include 10 of the Fortune 15 companies and 36 of the Fortune…

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It’s home to the 3rd tallest monument in the world.  Any guesses?

It’s home to the 2nd tallest monument in the United States.  Any ideas?

It’s home to the tallest Doric column in the world.  Give up yet?

It’s located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie, near Cedar Point. Hint!!! It’s pictured right here.

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial

It’s the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial – the only peace memorial in any of our National Parks.

The Visitors Center has an excellent display that explains just how Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was able to encircle the British and win the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. A park ranger expanded on the story with some very interesting details that made you wonder how he ever pulled off such a feat. Commodore Perry, you were one remarkable dude.  We salute you.

A short walk away is the monument and an elevator will whisk you to the top. From here, you can see to China, well maybe just Canada, but you can see for a long way.

Walking around the monument, there are corner plaques on all four sides that identify the islands and shores you are seeing from this 352 foot high perch. Rangers do a good job of explaining what you are seeing and discussing places you might want to visit.

[Read about the re-enactment of the battle held here in 2013]

One day – 3 Killer Meal locations:

Breakfast for champions can be found at a neat little new place (only three years old) called The Old Forge. This former blacksmith’s shop has been beautifully restored, using as much of the original materials as humanly possible. Inside are comfortable tables and booths.  Outside there is a Key West-ish type garden bar.

But the star here is the breakfast menu – with to-die-for Pecan Waffles and Strawberry-Banana crepes. One taste and you’ll be back.

For lunch, there nothing better than the meal that brought me all the way back up to the islands – the Original Perch Taco served right here at The Goat Soup and Whiskey on Catawba Avenue. Start off with a Basil Strawberry Mojito, work into a Seafood Gumbo and then try to put away three Lake Erie Perch Tacos.  Mmmm!!!  Should have probably only ordered two, but they were sooooo good.

Dining is available inside or out. The other local favorite I haven’t tried yet is their Reuben Balls.  Gotta get back soon and give them a try.

When it’s dinner time, trek up the stairs to the Upper Deck at the Boardwalk Complex. For seven years now, PIB’ers have been enjoying the view of the harbor and the great food here.  Drinks are bountiful, and the appetizers are amazing. I enjoyed a South Bass Island Ice Tea and had to watch my step when it came time to leave. A Long Island Ice Tea doesn’t even come close.

The lobster bisque is renowned here, and can be had in a large bowl or a bread bowl. Cheese lovers will gravitate to their Lobster Mac & Cheese, but I couldn’t pass up two of Lake Erie’s finest – the Walleye and Lake Erie Perch combo.

Where to Stay:

One of life’s sinful pleasures is to watch The Ohio State Buckeye’s trounce their competition during fall football season. I’ve been enjoying the ride since the 60’s and it never gets old. The only thing better than watching the game is watching the game at an official Buckeye’s hangout spot. Luckily you can find one in about every state in the union.

I’m extremely lucky in that one of the finer Buckeye establishments is only an hour away from home. Bay Lodging is one part motel, one part Buckeye tiki-bar and 100% Ohio State fan-tastic.  There’s both indoor and outdoor pools next to the tiki bar, and even a spa.

Tailgating aside, the motel is quite comfortable. Spent the night here in June, and it was quite spacious.  I had two double beds, a worktable with two chairs and a decent size compact refrigerator.  The bathroom was large as well.  Wi-Fi worked, so I was a happy camper.

The hotel is located just a few blocks from downtown Put-In-Bay, so you are close to all the action but at the end of a quiet street. It’s really an ideal location.  Staff are great and I really enjoyed the stay.

Getting to and fro

This is an island after all, so you won’t be driving or walking here.  That’s where Miller Ferry comes in.  Their ferry service will bring you, your bike, your car or your camper over in just about 15 minutes from the mainland at Catawba Island (which really isn’t an island – confusing, I know.) Once on the island, if you didn’t opt to bring your car, you can rent bikes or golf carts (the preferred vehicle of choice.)

Miller Ferry will also take you to the other Bass Islands (Middle Bass and North Bass) if you are interested.  South Bass is the most popular, with the most activity however.

The ferry runs as long as the weather holds out, but check their schedule online so you don’t miss the last boat of the day.

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Not so well kept secrets of a Lake Erie island #travel It’s home to the 3rd tallest monument in the world.  Any guesses? It’s home to the 2nd tallest monument in the United States. 

The BookBook

You know you’ve been waiting for it, and it didn’t come from Silicone Valley.  Instead, straight from Scandinavia, the long anticipated…BOOKBOOK.

In the Cleveland area (and I suspect other areas as well) football fans may have to go without watching the Browns play the Steelers this weekend.  The biggest rivalry of all times – not on TV.  WTH??? Seems Direct TV and Raycom can’t come to terms, so, bottom line, local fans may miss the big game.

With Sunday football getting ready to start, you wouldn’t want to find yourself suddenly without cable or dish would you?  Didn’t think so.

Time to be proactive and get an indoor HDTV antenna to make sure you can always receive your local TV programming.  I’m using the [easyazon_link asin=”B00KWFOLH6” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”thetra03-20” add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]RCA Ultra-thin multi-directional indoor amplified HDTV antenna[/easyazon_link] now with my Vizio monitor and it’s working extremely well.  No setup – no subscription – no monthly fees.

Only 11” by 13” and paper thin, this 1/3 pound antenna can hang just about anywhere. It’s even made white on one side and black on the other so you can mount it either way – whichever is least conspicuous.

The model I’m using, ANT1150F, comes with an amplifier to boast the signals.  Simply plug it into a nearby USB port and it’s powered up.  The only other connection is to plug the coax into your digital-ready TV. There’s 12 feet of coax so you should be able to install it wherever you want.

Here, in a remote little township, 25 miles south of Cleveland, I can still pull in 18 stations – exactly the same as I got before with a much larger and bulkier HD antenna.  This makes me pretty happy.

Check it out online and get ready for some totally free television.

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Dump the dish and get free HDTV – no more missed Browns games In the Cleveland area (and I suspect other areas as well) football fans may have to go without watching the Browns play the Steelers this weekend. 

Leaving the Slieve League Cliffs and heading east, we found our way back around River Glen and on to a place that still maintains the old art of hand-weaving.

Studio Donegal

Studio Donegal was our next stop in the little town of Kilcar. Preserving the old traditions, here you’ll be able to find authentic hand woven wool sweaters, shawls, blankets, hats, mittens and more.  The color choices are legendary and very Irish. They are known for their Aran Tweed knitting wool and the oh-so soft Merino Donegal knitting wool.

If you can arrange a tour of facility, by all means go.  The quality of their craftsmanship is even more amazing when you see the old-school methods they continue to use.

Killybegs

Pushing on further east, we encountered a really picturesque harbor town called Killybegs. Turns out this is the largest fishing town in all of Ireland. If you are a fisherman and want some good fishing, this area around Donegal Bay is supposed to be among the best.

Other water sports including kayaking, scuba diving and paddle boarding are popular as well.

Castle Murray House

Close-by is the Castle Murray House Hotel & Restaurant, a boutique 10-room hotel with a fabulous restaurant overlooking McSwyne’s Bay and the ruins of McSwyne’s castle.  The restaurant’s menu changes seasonally as they try to source as much local produce as possible. A wide variety of wines will pair with whatever you select.

We enjoyed lunch here and then relaxing on their patio with a cup of tea.  The expansive view is amazing.

Dozens of activities are available close-by.  Check their website for details under the “Activities” tab.

Donegal Town

The historic town of Donegal can trace its roots to a Danish fort built here in 1159. Much more recently, like another 300 years or so, the O’Donnell Castle was built. You can read about its history, but suffice it to say the owners were usually at odds with Lady Luck for most of its history.  Now it has been partially restored and interesting tours tell the whole story, including why the circular stairwell to the tower goes up and to the left.

If you haven’t found enough places to buy souvenirs yet, you might want to stop by Donegal Craft Village.  Unfortunately most of the crafts are too big or too heavy to take back home on the plane, but if you really like them, they’ll be happy to ship.  A few of the shops do make interesting jewelry  and woven goods that would be perfect for tucking in those few unfilled corners of your valise.

For some great dinner, you’ll want to try the Olde Castle Bar and Red Hugh Restaurant on Castle Street.  From 5-7 p.m. they offer a special value menu, so come early or be prepared to wait. (Hey, that’s what bars are for aren’t they?)

The place is easy to find, sitting right next to the tall-steepled, 19th century Church of Ireland. Once you’ve found it, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best steaks and seafood to be found.  The seafood chowder was one of the best I can recall, and the little fish cracker floating on top was adorable, but I ate him too.

Ready to turn in after a long day of hiking cliffs and castles, we retired to the Mill Park Hotel.  They offer a wide variety of room accommodations from singles, to twins to executive doubles as well as two bedroom apartments. They also feature a leisure center with steam room, large pool, fitness room and hot tub. A wellness center offers spa treatments, therapies and massages.

The whole campus is very park-like and they are located just five to ten minutes walk from town.  I’d have been very comfortable here for a much longer stay than just the one evening we spent here.

Creevy Cottages

Along the southern tip of Donegal’s coast, if you’re looking for a place to escape, to relax, to do some contemplative thinking; you’ll do well to check out the Creevy Cottages.  Self-catering cottages let you live as comfortably as at home, but they are situated in a wonderfully rural atmosphere, where the highlight of the day may be watching your neighbor walk by.

These traditional stone cottages are equipped with modern conveniences and are great for two or three couple getaways.  Golf at Europe’s longest course in Murvagh is not far away, and the 18 hole championship course at Bundoran isn’t that far either.

Major draw will be for the walkers.  The Creevy Cliff Walk takes you along 10 miles of breath taking views of the wild Atlantic.

Bonus:  All cottages are 100% wheelchair accessible and EU Flower Ecolabel accredited.

For location of all the County Donegal sites discussed so far, check this Google Map.

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Click here for the index of all Wild Atlantic Way articles in this series

Previous article in the Wild Atlantic Way series: Northern County Donegal – Slieve League Sea Cliffs  

Next article in the Wild Atlantic Way series:  County Sligo

Why travel the Wild Atlantic Way? [Infographic]

For location of all the County Donegal sites discussed so far, check this Google Map.

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Yep, still more to see in Donegal #travel Leaving the Slieve League Cliffs and heading east, we found our way back around River Glen and on to a place that still maintains the old art of hand-weaving.

Continuing further down the Wild Atlantic Way, we find ourselves in southern County Donegal. This is the area known for the world’s highest sea cliffs.

Okay, before I get deluged with comments from other parts of Ireland and the rest of the world, measuring the height of sea cliffs can be done a number of different ways with different results,  but suffice it to say, for this article, these are the world’s tallest! (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)

On to the Slieve League Sea Cliffs

A drive west along R263 from Killybegs will bring you to the little town of An Charraig. Turn south here, following the Wild Atlantic Way signs, and it’s about 7km to the cliffs.  You’ll be following Teelin Road (aka Teileann) with some great views of the Glen River, and you’ll know you’re on course when you reach Ti Linn artisan cafe.

I think the Irish take great delight in making their spelling and pronunciation so similar and so complicated that only a true Gaeltacht can get it right.  Geez.  But, meanwhile back at the café…

Ti Linn (aka Slieve League Cliffs Centre) is a great place to stop for souvenirs, beverages and those last minute necessities you forgot to bring.  It’s the only place to buy anything for the remaining miles to the cliffs and back again.  The free Wi-Fi was quite popular here, as were the restrooms.  Tip: plan your major liquid refreshments when you get back from the cliffs.

Slieve League Cliffs Centre & Café | Teelin Carrick Donegal Ireland

Armed with water bottles, we proceeded to the Slieve League Cliffs in our shuttle bus.  Many elected to hike all the way from Ti Linn to the cliffs – God love them.

Slieve League Cliffs Centre & Café | Teelin Carrick Donegal Ireland

Immediately upon getting out of the bus at the Bunglas viewing point, the sight of the cliffs was awe inspiring.

The famous sea-cliffs of Slieve League in County Donegal, Ireland. #WildAtlanticWay – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Just a short couple steps to the edge of the precipice, and you have the perfect view of the cliffs and the wild Atlantic lapping at its base.

At almost 2,000 feet in height, the cliffs are truly amazing even from the parking lot, but we wanted to see them closer. An easily navigated hiking path takes you northeast and then wraps you around to the northwest to get what I think were the best views.  At one point, you are looking straight down 1,500 feet to the surf. (Watch your step – no guard rails here.)

Granted, you’ll do a fair amount of stepping up onto large rocks, so it’s not a walk in the park, but anyone with good leg muscles and a good sense of balance can handle it.  Walking sticks make it that much easier coming back down.

7,000 years ago, the inhabitants of this part of Ireland considered the cliffs to be the end of the world.  As such, these high cliffs were ideal places to build their places of worship since they were so close to heaven.

Much further hikes can be enjoyed, even walking cross country for an over-night journey, but it would behoove you to do that with a guide like Sean Mullan who accompanied us up to the top. He’s been walking these trails for years and is an expert guide. You can reach him at info@walktalkireland.com or on the web at www.walktalkireland.com.

Click here for the index of all Wild Atlantic Way articles in this series

Previous article in the Wild Atlantic Way series: Northern County Donegal – where to sleep and eat  

Next article in the Wild Atlantic Way series:  County Donegal – the rest of the southern shore

Why travel the Wild Atlantic Way? [Infographic]

Stay away from the edge at Slieve League Cliffs Continuing further down the Wild Atlantic Way, we find ourselves in southern County Donegal. This is the area known for the world’s highest sea cliffs.

As we traveled to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons recently, we had the occasion to visit one of the remaining classic motor hotels (The Hatchet) that were so popular back in the 50’s and 60’s.  Just one night was enough to remind us why they were so great, and why in a number of cases, the new breed hotels just don’t measure up.

Hatchet-1249

Just a few advantages that come to mind immediately:

  • From your car to your bed – six seconds.
  • No waiting for elevators
  • No tipping the pushy bellman that insist on taking your bags
  • Forgot something in your car? Get it and back to the room – ten seconds.
  • No long walks down endless corridors

The Hatchet Resort – Moran, Wyoming

Built in 1954, this historic motor lodge retains much of its original charm with log cabin styling and convenient park-right-outside-your-door convenience. Fitting perfectly with the mountains in the distance, this is what you would expect to find here if you could roll back the calendar 60 years.

Luckily for guests, the new owners of the property have recently remodeled all the rooms and suites to include modern conveniences.  Expect abundant use of wood for wall paneling, ceilings and furniture. All rooms seem to be decorated with a distinct western or native American flair.

The location is perfect if you’ll be visiting the two neighboring National Parks.  Grand Teton is just minutes away and Yellowstone is only about an hour away.

We stayed in one of the corner suites (cabin 35) and were quite comfortable in this spacious unit. Oversized bed and pullout sofa dominated the room with open wooden ceiling beams and large windows looking out to the wildness. Occasionally one of their horses would wander by while grazing on the lawn surrounding the hotel.

The bathroom was very large with walk-in shower and waterfall shower head. Rustic ceramic floor tiles complemented the wood wainscot paneling.

Internet is an additional $3.00 charge and took quite a while to connect. Once I got online, it worked consistently the entire evening. I’ll never understand why hotels don’t just provide Internet as these days just about everyone expects it, and it’s irritating to have to pay extra for it.

After checking in and getting a nice shower, we wandered over to the Whetstone Grill for dinner.  Very friendly and accommodating staff and nice menu selections.  We each ordered one of the daily specials and were delighted with our selections (ribs and salmon.) I tried a local microbrew with my dinner and it was good as well.

In the morning, we were one of the last to leave – staying right up until 11 a.m.  We’d been away from home for a week and a half already and it felt good to just relax before we hit the road again.

Take a couple minutes to look around the gift shop next to the registration desk.  We found some great little souvenirs there.

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And since you’re in the neighborhood, consider Sheridan, WY as another stop.

Cheyenne, WY, although at the other end of the state, is also worth a visit.

Bring back the old motor hotel As we traveled to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons recently, we had the occasion to visit one of the remaining classic motor hotels (The Hatchet) that were so popular back in the 50’s and 60’s. 

Since the Wild West Days, Cheyenne has grown up into a wonderfully diverse city.  Beautiful parks and modern conveniences still rub shoulders with historic buildings and a rich historic past. Depending on your attention to detail, this is easily a multiple-day destination.

Cheyenne Depot

Look up from anywhere in town and chances are you’ll see the pointed tower of the Cheyenne Depot.

In the main lobby area you’ll be able to buy your trolley tickets and pick up a number of good brochures. Here you’ll also find the entrance to the Cheyenne Depot Museum.

If you prefer to explore Cheyenne on your own, there’s a great brochure to look for called Downtown Cheyenne Historic Walking Tour. This will give you the option of three tours: .7, 1.3 or 1.9 miles in length.  You could also drive them if you have someone in the group who would rather not walk.

The brochure gives just a brief history and then talks about 79 historic sites to see.  Very well done and available for free from the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority.

Cheyenne Depot Museum

I had the chance to wander through the Cheyenne Depot Museum while waiting for the trolley tour to start.  Interesting collection of Union Pacific railway memorabilia as it relates to Cheyenne’s past as a real rail center.  I never realized how much some western towns depended on the railway for their development.

Upstairs is an extensive model railroading display, built from scratch, all done by one man – Mr. Harry S. Brunk.  The scenes depict a number of different towns and areas and are all done to honestly replicate what that town actually looked like during the railroad’s heyday. The work is incredibly detailed and beautifully done.

Children will probably need to be held by parents to see the displays as they are all mounted about 48” above the floor.  People in wheel chairs will probably just be able to see them. Downstairs there is a “train playroom” that younger children will enjoy. My grandson can play with train sets like this for hours on end.

Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley

Never having been to Cheyenne before, and only having one day to see it, we opted for the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley tour.  In 90 minutes, you’ll get to see the city’s highlight’s and top attractions. The tour is fully narrated and you can get on and off at a number of attractions. You can then get back on about 90 minutes later and continue on from where you left off.

Our particular tour was driven and narrated by a gal who tried a little too hard, projected her voice way too much, and was only marginally humorous. Not sure what age group she was trying to appeal to, but there weren’t a lot of laughs coming from anyone on the bus.

Also, if you are a photographer, you’ll want to get off the bus at the various stops to get any decent pictures. Most of the sights were either too close or too far away from the bus for any usable pictures while on the tour.

Those two things aside, the tour does take you to some sights you’ll want to explore and your trolley ticket gets you in free at the:

  • Cheyenne Depot Museum
  • Nelson Museum of the West
  • Wyoming State Museum
  • Wyoming State Capital
  • Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
  • Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum
  • Historic Governors Mansion
  • F.E. Warren ICBM & Heritage Museum (that’s InterContinental Ballistic Missile for you kids) (not actually on the trolley tour – they can’t drive on base at this time.)

Not only that, when you are touring, you can get free audio tours to explain the museums on your own cellphone.

Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum

If you prefer horse drawn vehicles to trains, then be sure to stop at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.  This is reportedly one of the largest collections of historic-horse drawn vehicles in the country.  Just try to picture traveling across country in one of these babies, doing maybe 6 m.p.h.  Yikes!

Nagle Warren Mansion

We only spent one night in the Nagle Warren Mansion and it wasn’t enough. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Cheyenne.

This was just an amazingly beautiful place, one where I wished I had hours to wander and take in all the architectural details.  I did do an indoor photo safari and got some great shots, but I would have loved to have had more time to focus on the details. Just extremely well done.

We stayed in the carriage house on the first floor (the Marie Pershing Room) in what is a completely handicapped accessible room with wide doors, walk or roll-in Roman shower plus a small soaking tub and easy access out to the side door. A power lift is available to lift a wheel chair up the three stairs to the dining room if you needed that.

I think the photos will speak for themselves in a lot of ways, but they can’t explain how quiet a setting this was.  Our room opened onto a little private garden where my wife enjoyed sitting and reading.  We had an appointment for the following morning, and if it weren’t for that, we would have stuck around until they kicked us out.

The breakfast was amazing, both in terms of menu and conversation.  Jim, the owner, joined us for a while and his pride in this place is very evident.  Everyone there that morning was in great spirits and we traded travel stories and ideas of places to visit nearby.

Internet and cable TV were welcome amenities in this historic mansion.  Really couldn’t have asked for anything more.

For more information to help planning a trip to Cheyenne, try these resources:

http://www.cheyenne.org/

http://www.cheyennecity.org/index.aspx?NID=2108

http://www.cheyennedepotmuseum.org/

http://www.wyomingtourism.org/

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And since you’re in the neighborhood, consider Sheridan, WY as another stop.

Experience the spirit of the Wild West in Cheyenne, WY #travel Since the Wild West Days, Cheyenne has grown up into a wonderfully diverse city.  Beautiful parks and modern conveniences still rub shoulders with historic buildings and a rich historic past.