Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My most used computer is a tablet

I didn't warm to my little Asus Android Tablet right away, it seemed less handy than my laptop and it struck me as feeling like an overgrown phone that couldn't make phone calls. But after the initial awkward phase wore off, I found myself using the tablet more and more and now it's by far my most used computer.

My friends Gary and Patti are currently bike touring the world, using Android tablets and little keyboards to update a wonderful blog that you can follow at

In this post, Gary describes the hardware (Nexus tablets) they are using. It was Gary's post that prompted me to look seriously at and ultimately decide to buy an Android tablet and a small keyboard/case.

The tablet I chose, I now strongly recommend after having used for darn near all my computing for the past few months. It's a 16 GB Asus MeMO Pad and I've been very impressed with how fast, reliable and handy this little gadget is. I know there are fancier, more expensive tablets out there, but I've never felt short-changed by this tablet, for  which I paid right around $100. (Amazon prices fluctuate and it's a bit more at the momen.) While the built-in camera is lousy, I knew that going in and I have a real camera for taking pictures and then I load photos into the tablet via its micro SD slot. Editing photos on the Android tablet actually works better than messing with them on my laptop.

For email, twitter, updating this blog, buying stuff from Amazon, web browsing and all that, the tablet is great. I don't watch much video, but YouTube and all that works just fine. Music plays great as well. I find my old Kindle more comfortable for reading, but it isn't backlit so I use the Android kindle software on the tablet for reading at night so I don't disturb Christine when she's trying to sleep. The Amazon Kindle software is super good at keeping your place in a book across devices so I can be reading the same book on my Kindle, my tablet and my phone.

The keyboard/case I got is frankly pretty chintzy, but for $13 it does the job. I use the free Kingsoft Office software synced up to my Google Docs for all my word processing and spreadsheet stuff.

The screen keyboard and voice recognition stuff is pretty good on Android, so I'm finding myself only using the physical keyboard for writing longer stuff.

The tablet was the computing device I took with me on our recent Minnesota trip and I no longer see any reason for bringing a laptop with me when I travel. In fact, at home I now go for days at a time without booting up any of my larger computers.

I guess I've gone from being a tablet skeptic to being a tablet fan. Simple, solid, inexpensive and it works.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Biking in Duluth, Minnesota

Christine and I had a great week in Duluth, Minnesota. Much of our time was spent visiting family and friends but we got out for a few hikes and a lovely 25 mile ride along the Willard Munger State Trail. The trail is 63 miles long and goes from Duluth south to Hinkley, but we only went as far south as Jay Cooke State Park.

If you are looking to visit Duluth, we totally recommend the Willard Munger Inn, where we stayed for a week. It is right at the northern end of the trail and with every room you get use of bikes and a canoe! (We didn't have enough time to make use of the canoe.)

The trail is along the old train route, all the grades are gentle and the route is completely free of cars. And it's very beautiful.

This little hut is a few miles south of Duluth.

While we were in Duluth, we stopped at Twin Ports Cyclery to visit with my old friend Denis Sauve. Denis started the shop back in 1975 and I started hanging out there around 1978.

Twin Ports Cyclery and Denis are still going strong. If you are ever in need of anything bike related in northern Minnesota, Twin Ports Cyclery is the place to go. And if you want great stories, talk to Denis.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
back home now in Issaquah, WA USA

Monday, September 09, 2013

Vacation in Duluth, Minnesota

I'm in Duluth, Minnesota this week with my lovely wife Christine. Rather than do our traditional Pacific Northwest bike tour, this year we rode Amtrak from Seattle to Minneapolis and then took the bus up to Duluth. My parents and sisters live in the area and it is the part of the world where I grew up. It's also where Christine and I first met.

We are spending the week at the Willard Munger Inn. It's a lovely, rustic sort of place where the rooms all have pine walls and furniture and you have waffles for breakfast. Our place has a deck overlooking the parklike back yard.

The big draw of the Willard Munger Inn is its location. It is right on the Willard Munger Bike Trail and is also next to the Western Waterfront trail. Guests at the Inn get use of the Inn's bikes.

The Willard Munger Trail is a 72 mile long rail trail that runs from Duluth to Hinckley.

I got out a bit on Saturday to explore the trail.

The trail climbs gently as you roll south out of Duluth.

My first trip was a short one, much of the weekend involved Christine and I catching up with various relatives and eating a whole bunch of food. Lots of fun, but of little interest to readers of this blog so I'll skip a lot of the family stuff.

Christine and I did get out for a nice little hike on the Western Waterfront Trail on Sunday morning.

My sister Laura knew right where my old typewriter was when I asked about it. Before anybody starts thinking that I'm really old, I should point out that this machine was ancient when I first had it.

This old Corona was one of the smallest typewriters ever made. The top portion folds and it can literally fit in a shoebox. I know this because Laura also found a Birkenstock shoebox that I'm packing the typewriter in for its shipment back to Issaquah.

The latest patent on the typewriter is from July 10th, 1917.

Today is the rainy, hunker down day of our vacation where I do things like read novels on my Kindle and update my blogs. Tomorrow, the weather will be better and Christine and I will get out and explore more.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Spending the week in Duluth, Minnesota.