Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bi-Coastal Research

I'm currently sitting at SeaTac airport, waiting for my plane to board. I'm heading to New York for about a week to see some friends and meet with some people over there about the Un-Road Trip. Hopefully I'll find some people interested in funding it...

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Center for Wooden Boats

Yesterday I headed down to South Lake Union to:

I met up Dick Wagner, who essentially started the Center for Wooden Boats from his back dock over thirty years ago. Now the center has it's own building and boat workshop, a full-time staff, and hundreds of volunteers. They think of themselves as a living museum. Every time I've visited, there were classes, lectures, and workshops taking place in the boathouse, and there are always boat-loads (ha ha) of people building or restoring, (their own or the center's) boats. You can also rent many of the row or sail boats as long as the weather conditions aren't too bad. Wooden boat-building is part of the heritage of the Pacific NW and the center is not only preserving it, they're keeping it alive.

I wanted to hear Dick's thoughts on using watercraft as an important part of the Un-Road Trip. He had some great recommendations and filled me in on a lot of boating history as well. I filmed it all, so you'll see that up here soon too. I also talked to a man who was restoring his sailboat that he's already used to sail the world twice. He's gearing up for a third trip, though he's not sure when he'll set sail. He's been restoring the boat for ten years already, though I thought, (and told him), that it looked pretty done. He laughed at me, but said he appreciated the encouragement...

Monday, October 6, 2008

New MOT*: The Railcar

I was perusing the Travel section of the NY Times online, when I learned about a new mode of transportation- railcars. I'd never heard of them before, although in the past few months I've come to realize that there are a lot of vehicle that can use railroad tracks. Trains, obviously, but also rail riders- a type of pedal-powered cart- and the classic "hand car," as demonstrated by Kermit and Gonzo in this clip from The Muppet Show:

But back to the railcar- they're basically golf carts that run on rails. Until twenty-five years ago they used them to inspect the tracks, but now people ride them for fun. You can see the whole NY Times article here. There's even a North American Railcar Operators Association. I think I'll get in touch with them and see if they can help me get a ride for the URT**.

Also, I'll be talking to Dick Wagner tomorrow. He's the founder of Seattle's Center for Wooden Boats, and I think he'll have some interesting insight on using oceans, rivers, and lakes as part of the trip. In a recent email to me he wrote:
The water is the globe’s best freeway system and we have ignored it too long.

I think he's onto something, and maybe he can ever give me a ride in the one of the Center's boats. They have some sailboats that have already been around the word a few times, and they also have this cool steam powered boat:

* I'll probably be writing "mode(s) of transportation" a lot in reference to the Un-Road Trip, so I figured it was time to start an abbreviation.

** And I guess I should abbreviate Un-Road Trip too. Is this too much too abbreviation too soon? Let me know...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Camera Family Tree

In the last few weeks I've been doing a lot of research on camcorders in preparation for the Un-Road Trip. With all the traveling I have planned, I need to make sure I have a reliable and portable camera that's up to documenting journey. After about six years with my trusty Canon ZR45, I decided it was time to retire the ol' dame. I've been through a lot with that camcorder; dozens of segments for my old NYU TV show, weeks at the Sundance film festival, and even a trip through Eastern Europe with my dad. But it's not the spring chicken it used to be- relative to new cameras, the ZR45 is pretty heavy, it uses tapes, and the headphone jack hasn't worked for a few years. So after reading some reviews, I decided on the Canon Vixia HF100. First off, it's adorably compact and is about the size of a soda can. On, someone uploaded this uncomfortable photo to really emphasize how small it is...

The camera's in his right pocket, in case you weren't sure. It also records in HD, and instead of recording onto tapes, it stores the video on memory cards, (which are a lot more convenient and storable when on the road). I've started playing around with it, and I think we're going to be good friends. But now that I have the camera, I've started to get excited about all the accessories. I could get a shotgun mic or a wide angle lens. Or a tele-converter lens- which I'm not exactly sure about, (but it says it increases the focal length by a factor of 1.5). And then there are the filter sets, and even a shoulder strap! I'll probably have to spring for another battery at least. I should probably just get Canon to sponsor the trip. Anyone have any connections?

With camera accessories on my mind, I headed over to Glazer's Camera in Seattle for some browsing. I got a new tripod- a Cullman 52013- which is the lightest tripod I've ever picked up, and it can even fold down small enough to fit comfortably in my backpack. It was the display unit and the last one they had left so they gave me a great deal. I also bought an adorable black and red camera bag, because I figured the HF100 deserved a home of its own. It's made by M Rock, is shockingly rigid for being so light, and it's even adventurously named the "Rocky Mountain." And yes, I'm being overly descriptive in hopes that they sponsor the trip.
And that's probably enough spending for now, since I don't currently have a job and am yet to secure funding for this project. I think I better to go dance for nickels on the corner. In a week's time, I may have enough for another battery.