On the digital road in Oregon: All your crab are belong to us

Spent the week before last with my family in Oregon for my oldest daughter’s wedding, and I wanted to share a handful of my geekiest travel moments. As a backdrop, everything was pretty much a blur leading up to the wedding on Saturday the 5th, plus family gatherings on Sunday, so we mostly stowed our devices. But Monday we had a day to just relax and recreate a bit, followed by a long drive home to Utah, giving our latent digital proclivities a chance to emerge.

Netarts Bay: “All your crab are belong to us”

Monday morning we ventured out into Netarts Bay with nine family members in two boats in search of crab. Most pitiful crabbing adventure we’ve had in 15 years, yielding… (drumroll please) …a single keeper. Considering the cost of renting boats, bait, traps, shelfish licenses for the 14-and-older set, this little fella represented the most expensive crab meat on earth, somewhere around $120/pound. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store and bought three more cooked crabs just so we could all enjoy some fresh crab for dinner (and paradoxically lowering the overall cost per pound of the crab meat by a significant amount).

The digital moment came when I watched the boat navigated by my oldest son approach about two dozen seals sunning themselves on a sand bar. As the boat approached, my son stood up and began taking pictures with his phone. Maybe the phone camera thing is already vanilla by now, but it still seemed strangely out of place on a crabbing trip, on the bay, with a light fog rising from the water to see the captain of the boat hoisting aloft… his cell phone! The coup de grace was him subsequently “texting” some of his pictures to my phone. (Begging the question of whether you can actually “text” someone a picture… According to my teenagers, you can!)


Pacific City, Oregon: “We get signal!”

After our fun but non-productive crabbing adventure, we headed south with a temporary stop at Cape Lookout (more pictures by my son).


During this trip both my oldest sons were texting mysterious “friends” on their cell phones. But north of Pacific City we lost all connectivity. The amazingly geekish moment came when I pulled out my Treo to check something just as we approached Pacific City from the north. I saw the signal strength return to my phone, felt a surge of positive emotion, and simultaneous heard spontaneous cheers from my two oldest sons (16 and 18), each independently exulting at the return of their cell phone connectivity. Apparently they had been suffering texting withdrawals for the previous 20 minutes and were now connected again to the real world. I turned to my wife and muttered, “We get signal!” The pitiful part is… she got the reference (see below if you don’t).

Baker City, Oregon: “Main screen turn on”

We were in the mountains of eastern Oregon Tuesday morning at sunrise, heading south under arbitrarily constrained Oregonian speed limits. As I looked to the right I discovered an amazing sillhouette of our van and trailer in the weeds on the west side of the road. With everyone sound asleep, and me just grateful for the arrival of daylight, I did what any red-blooded geek would do… pulled out my Treo and started taking pictures out the passenger side window while driving (approximately) 65 mph on I-84. The effect is actually pretty cool (IMHO).



BTW, if you know anything about how a sundial works (or that the sun appears to move east to west across our earthly sky during daylight hours), you can perceive a time lapse between these two photos, evidenced by the changing length of our shadow. Some with more technical savvy than me could probably calculate the time period during which i was jeopardizing my sleeping family by driving down the freeway pulling a trailer while taking pictures out the passenger window with my Treo.

Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere, Western Idaho: “You know what you doing”

Some time after sunrise but before business hours I remembered promising my number two daughter (the not married one) that I would transfer funds from my bank account to hers for reasons that are as yet shrouded in mystery. Nevertheless it had to be accomplished before Tuesday’s business hours. I was at that moment a passenger in a van now piloted by my wife, hurtling eastbound through western Idaho at speeds of (approximately) 75 mph.

Despite severe sleep deprivation and an actual opportunity to catch a few z’s, I first fired up my Treo and enabled the Bluetooth capability for dial-up networking. I then pulled my PowerBook G4 from my computer bag (yes… nearby… where it should be), clicked on the phone icon in the task bar, and found myself connected to the Internet. Cool. I launched Firefox, logged into my bank’s web-based automatic teller, and transfered $100 to my daughter’s account for reasons that remain fuzzy (but I’m confident she’ll reimburse me very very soon…). Satisfied at having fulfilled my fatherly duties, and somewhat happier for having had an excuse to open my Mac, I dozed off into a well-earned sleep…

Just a few digital highlights from our grand left coast adventure.

“For great justice.”

(Note: If the goofy quotes are mysterious to you, your life is probably incomplete, having been unexposed to the 1989 Zero Wing game. Click here for enlightenment.)