Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gadgets, Gear, and Gory Details

Over the next few days, I will post a detailed narrative of my trip to Texas (and their hottest June on record), with some stops in Arkansas on the way down and Tennessee on the return leg.

I tallied 198 species of birds, 18 of which were new. I could have tallied more, but I was not paying attention to every bird. My total list is now 620 species. The trip list as at the end.

I sampled 18 new beers, bringing my new total to 484 and also visited 9 National Park sites.

My Texas list now stands at 261, having added over 65 species. Tennessee now stands at 55 species. Arkansas is an anemic 43.

Cool birds, new beers and National Park sites are in bold. Life birds in BOLD CAPS.

I took almost 1,000 photographs, drove approximately 6,164 miles, averaging 25.17 mpg over two and half weeks. Fuel costs? $885 with the highest prices in Marathon, Texas ($4.47/gallon)

This was the first chance I had to field test my new tent. Moosejaw Outfitters was having a deal. If you brought them your old tent, they would sell you a new tent with a 20% discount and ship the old one to China (for the homeless courtesy of that earthquake). The Sierra Design Electron 2 is simply a great tent. It goes up and comes down in minutes. Plus, it comes with the gear loft, footpad and coffee hanger thing-a-mah-bobs. I don’t have a negative thing to say.

I also purchased a Garvin Nuvi 350 a few months back. Folks, if you don’t have one of these little dashboard beauties, get one, especially if you travel or are a birder. Input the address, or instruct it to “find food”, for example, and off you go. I used it constantly. It is also an Mp3 player. While it was not perfect (I pretty sure that lady’s house was not a gas station), they work very well and very worth the money. My buddy at work and I were talking about my trip a bit when I got back. He encouraged me to get one in the first place. He commented, and I agree: if anything happened to it on a trip, we would find the nearest electronics store and buy a new one. I will never travel without one again.

Last summer, I dumped the big bucks for a Canon Digital Rebel XTi with a 100mm-400mm f5.6 nuclear powered, internal stabilizing lens with built-in coffee mill and inflatable life raft. All photos were taken with that rig, or the small stock lens. Some can use a bit of PhotoShop fiddling at a later date but as basically unaltered.

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