Our First Historical Park: Fort Kearny (Danger: Dinosaurs along the way!)

Fort Kearny OT screen(This is the fourth in a series of posts that follows our real-life adventures along The Oregon Trail, Apple ][ version. We arrived here after crossing the Kansas River and driving a few hundred miles across Nebraska.)

After crossing the Kansas River, we had a journey through Kansas and part of Nebraska before we’d get to the next official stop on the Oregon Trail: Fort Kearny. Nebraska CloudsWe decided to go easy on the horses (our car, George) and stay the night in one of Lincoln’s finest establishments, the Motel 6 out by the airport. But before we could stop for the night we drove for some time through the countryside. We saw some amazing clouds and sunset action—this photo (out the window, in a moving car) not doing it any justice at all—before we experienced a pretty solid downpour. Luckily, the wagon canvas was strong and we got to our stop unscathed.

We woke up the next morning bright and early—as befitting a pioneer—and headed west. Within a few miles, and therefore within a few minutes of the first weak gas station coffee of the day, we both could’ve sworn we saw a large dinosaur towering over one side of the road (the Eastbound side of I-80).

A dinosaur?!??

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Heaping Amounts of Praise for the aCar Android App

Standard icon/logo for aCarHello, fellow nerds! Apologies for the long silence, but we’ve been a little preoccupied with the relocation of NT HQ (to Washington DC, if you’re curious). That’s just about finished now, so you can once again look forward to [weekly? regular? yes, at least regular.] posts.

Today we’re going to double up on the nerdery by talking not just about travel, but also about DATA. Mmmmm, data. Specifically, data about cars, as managed by the Android application aCar. Note: We recommend clicking the images to see larger versions of the screengrabs.

“aCar is an all-in-one handy application to effectively track fuel mileage and costs, maintenance, business trips/mileages, and general expenses of your vehicle.”

Most of what we’re going to talk about is available in the free version, but it you’re a data nerd, you’ll want to upgrade to Pro, which allows you to export data to CSV. Really, you might want to go pro even if you’re not a data nerd, because aCar is a well maintained app with lots of functionality and a great UI that deserves your support. Also, widgets and automatic backup are pretty nice, too.

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Crossing the Kansas River

Kansas River Crossing(This is the third in a series of posts that follows our real-life adventures along The Oregon Trail, Apple ][ version. We arrived here after crossing what we thought was the Big Blue River.)

In the early 1840s, some upstart Canadians—the Pappan brothers (also spelled Papin and Papan)—thought it would be a good idea to set up shop along the Kansas River. Their trade? Ferrying travelers across the wide Kaw (Kansas) River.

One wagon at a time, pioneers paid a dollar to cross a couple hundred yards of rushing water so as to continue their journey. The wagons would sit on a log platform while the ferrymen propelled the ferry with a long pole; a rope slung the whole way across the river helped guide their way.

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Crossing the Big Blue River (we thought)

Big Blue River Crossing(This is the second in a series of posts that follows our real-life adventures along The Oregon Trail, Apple ][ version. We arrived here after the Oregon Trail trailhead.)

In the Apple ][ game, the Big Blue River Crossing is the third stop, 185 miles into the adventure. However, as we were meticulously (*cough*) mapping our route before the trip and checking various and sundry historical reports from the trail, we identified a "Blue River" on the map that was approximately 19 miles from Independence, heading toward Topeka (and the Kansas River Crossing), and crossed by a road called "Blue River Road". We figured that had to be it, so we headed for it—a second stop instead of a third.

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Road Games

Before addressing the topic of this post, I (Rachel) would like to take a moment to vent: the arduous process of getting screenshots from our beloved Droid RAZRs came damned close to making me root my phone. In fact, I originally caved and forked over $4.99 for an app, but grabbed a refund almost immediately upon reading that it had to be setup with a PC every time the phone was rebooted. This process is not so useful on the road, and certainly not worth a fiver when I can theoretically capture the screen for free with the SDK (and natively with a hardware-button shortcut in a coming update). So! If any of you travel the same path, note that the adb platform tool is no longer installed by default with the SDK. If you get an ADB error when launching ddms, open the SDK Manager and install the platform tools package.



Truckload of payphones

I spy with my little eye...something ancient.

There are a number of traditional road trip games designed to keep you entertained in the car without requiring the driver to interact with cards or boards or meeples, but they have their limits. I might say “I spy with my little eye…something ancient” only to have the object in question be ancient history before my road trip companion has figured it out.  I used to use the Alphabet Game when plagued with insomnia, so it’s kind of an anti-entertainment for me. Also? This is a blog by two nerds in love with their smartphones, so of course we’re going to utilize them!

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Here the Oregon Trail Began

Independence (Apple ][)(This is the first in a series of posts that follows our real-life adventures along The Oregon Trail, Apple ][ version.)

In The Oregon Trail video game, pioneers begin their journey in Independence, Missouri in the year 1848. Thankfully, we did not transport ourselves back in time to 1848—neither of us look all that fetching in hoop skirts, and we’re pretty attached to our car—but the first day of our trip was actually the 1000 mile trip from Charlottesville, VA to Independence, MO.

It was in those first 1000 pre-Oregon-Trail miles that we learned two really important lessons that we’ll expand on in future posts: first, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is relatively close to us and includes some of Rachel’s favorite distilleries, which means we had to learn to curb our explorer enthusiasm and keep our pioneering spirit at the forefront. Second, always carry the paper version of the Motel 6 directory, because you might find yourself in a connectivity dead zone when trying to figure out where to stop via Google Maps, and what’s in Maps might not exist anymore.

But we digress.

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Howdy! We are pleased to finally launch this blog, which we hope will be a source of amusement, inspiration, and information about Traveling While Nerdy.

We’ve been traveling (nerdily) together for a year now, and besides going to some very cool places (like The Oregon Trail!) we’ve collected a bunch of tips, tricks, and innovations for the traveler who likes gadget- and connectivity-enhanced living. But fear not, lovers of travel without gadgets and connectivity—we grok that, too, and not just because sometimes we travel in connectivity dead zones. We figured it was time to share.

Oh, who are we? Just a couple of nerdy women with a bright green car and Android smartphones who have planned posts in categories such as:

  • Apps: What we use on our Android-powered devices to get where we need to go, and do what we want to do.
  • DIY: You can do a lot with binder clips and rubber bands…
  • Driving: We do a lot of it. A lot.
  • Flying: We would fly more if we had a lot of money, but alas. We still have tips!
  • Gadgets: Technological doodads, often with blinky lights.
  • Games: We play them (and study them, and talk about them incessantly).
  • Gear: Everything from ice axes to phone holsters.
  • Hiking: Manual locomotion, for those places inaccessible by motor vehicles.
  • International Travel: Sometimes you just have to get out of the country, and things are different. We know.
  • Lodging: To show you there’s nothing to fear about hostels.
  • Maps: Mmmcartography.
  • Mass transit: Subways, buses, and trains (also not scary things!)
  • Nature: Often enjoyed while hiking, natch.
  • Packing: We’re efficient. Usually.
  • Provisions: Because it’s expensive to feed yourself at restaurants for an entire road trip!
  • and more!

We have amassed a great deal of Things we know we like and use, but yes, developers and marketing folks, we will absolutely consider reviewing products (and yes, readers, we will always disclose anything that needs disclosin’). We are particular fans of product owners and developers who do not have dedicated marketing departments and who are also just geeks and nerds with cool stuff. Bonus points if it’s open source cool stuff.

Travel on!