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Napa Valley Trip!

I love three day weekends…

This past weekend we had a great time. First was Jason’s birthday party on Friday. We had a great time, but left early. I felt bad about leaving so early, oh well.

Saturday morning we got up early and headed out to Napa Valley. On the way up there we stopped at Pinnacles National Monument. The drive from the freeway to the monument was tons of fun. But we only spent about an hour there. It was pretty and I’d like to spend a little more time there.

Got up to Napa late that night, went out to eat and while we were
eating this girl next to us saw that we were looking over maps and stuff and talked to us about the winery she worked at called Mumm Napa.

Sunday morning we got up and headed out at 9ish. Our first stop was a few parks and what not. First was Bothe-Napa Valley SP. It was a nice park, but nothing exciting. After that we headed to the Old Faithful of California. That was also fun, but again not that exciting. It was neat to ee though. Then we headed to the petrified forest. Here’s a pic of Const at the Petrified Forest:

From there we headed out to the winery’s! First was Sterling, which was probably my favorite in terms of the overall experience. First you arrive and take a tram ride up the side of the hill to the top of the winery. You are greeted with your first wine tasting and then you go on a self-guided tour of the winery. Here’s a shot of the HUGE wood barrels they ferment the wine in:

As you make your way through the winery you get to try a few different wines, on the balcony you get some wonderful views of the valley and you can just chill and talk and drink your wine.

Once you get through the winery you can take a seat in the main building and you get to try three more wines. On the day we were there they had some AMAZING Truffles there as well from a company called Truffle Gateau. I HIGHLY suggest going and buying some of them!

After this place we headed out and and drove to Burgess Cellers. Apparently you needed reservations or something, because the guy seemed very confused that we just walked into the door that said “OPEN”. So we just left. Headed from there to Sutter Home, which we went to because I really liked the building. Tried a few wines, but nothing I really liked.

Headed from there to V. Sattui Winery. This was another GREAT winery. But only because of all the foods and cheese they had at the shop. Oh my god. The cheese was wonderful! We also ended up buying 6 bottles of wine from them. From there we headed to Mumm beacuse of the girl we met. We didn’t taste anything there, but saw the art gallery and bought two small bottles of wine just for the hell of it

Our last stop of the day was Peju (only because it was basically the only one open past 5). I really enjoyed the modern art they had outside, inside we found this great pic which is just exactly like Tuxedo!! How cute:=

We got a great guy to taste with and basically a private tasting room because they were so busy! We bought two bottles of the Provence wine which was really good.

But this whole wine tasting thing. I really don’t get it. “In this wine you’ll taste hints of bannana and mango and this and that and the bottom half is a little bit sassy!”. Umm, really!? WTF!

We went home and were just so tired from all the tasting that we went to the hot tub and then just ate dinner and hung out at the hotel for the night.

Monday we headed home and stopped at the Golden Gate bridge for some pics.

From there we headed south to the Winchester Mystery House. This place was really cool. Very crazy stuff.

Of course, you can download our Google Earth Tracks here or you can download our GeoTagged photos here.

And photos of the trip are all here.

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Around The Globe My Life

Death Valley!

What a weekend!

Friday night was the typical Dinner with friends. We all met up at Jason’s house and he had Meatballs cooking. However, he was no where to be found! So we made the rest of the dinner and ate it without him. He showed up just as we were finishing dinner. Overall it was a great night. Jason got me a Gift card to Apple for my birthday!

Saturday morning Const and I got up and headed out to Death Valley. On the way there we stopped at Randsburg and Alotia mines. They are both abandoned mines/towns. Very cool. Alotia was the only one that was open for us to really run around in. It’s just amazing to me that RIGHT off the road way are these open pit mines with ladders and stuff still leading down them. We didn’t go down the mines because we didn’t have any safety gear. Perhaps on the next trip we can actually go down them.

From there we headed through some tiny little crazy towns and out to Death Valley. First thing we did was climb the sand dunes which was really cool. Then we headed out to the Badwater Salt flats which is exactly what I was expecting Death Valley to be like. They were sooo cool. We got there right at sunset, so it was really pretty to watch the sunset over the salt flats. I really want to go back there on a full moon night some summer to see how pretty it would be with all the stars and stuff. After that we headed back to the hotel, ate dinner and then went to bed.

Sunday we got up and had breakfast and then headed out to Zabriskie Point which was just a wonderful view of the valley in the early morning. We didn’t stay too long because the wind was CRAZY and it was freezing cold. We headed down the back road from there and stopped at some more abandoned mines. These were really cool and it was a HUGE complex of mines. We went into a few of them, but not very far because it’s very scary with only the two of us and we had very week flashlights. Perhaps when we go back with a bigger group we can do them again. I really enjoyed the mines.

From there we headed down to Dante’s View which was a really cool overlook of the Badwater salt flats we had been at the day before. We headed on down back into the valley and on our way out stopped at an old Borax mine which had been preserved by the park.

There are tons of other things I want to do while there, like Racing Rocks, Scotty’s Castle, and the Crater. But we didn’t have a 4 wheel drive vehicle to take off road. This really does suck with us both having new cars, we don’t want to take them off onto dirt/gravel roads! I was thinking that maybe I can find a truck that I like, or maybe just a cheap user explorer or something that we can take on trips like this.

On the way home I got a very upsetting phone call from my cousin. My grandma was on her way home from Des Moines when she got into some bad snow, lost control of her car and hit a semi head on. Thank god she’s ok. They took her to the hospital because she was sore and they kept her overnight. They were supposed to be doing another CAT scan today but I haven’t heard anything new. I’ve tried calling a few times to her cell phone, but no answer. I assume she’s probably pretty out of it. Just hearing the news made me cry a little, but since I was driving I had to really hold it back. I’m very interested to see pictures of the car though.

The drive home was pretty good though overall. We ran into some REALLY bad dust storms, it was nearly whiteout conditions. And then some rain, but no traffic which was really nice. Got back to my house and the power was out, so we had to make due for a few hours before that came back on.

Today I am working from home. My car is supposed to be done. I sure HOPE that it does get done. I want my car back!

Photos from the weekend are here.

I did the GeoTagging again on this trip and it turned out MUCH BETTER! Download the Google Earth file here, check out the Google Maps Version (without photos) here or check out all the different files here.

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Around The Globe My Life

Prague and Vienna Photo Tour Movies

Well I’ve been spending a lot of my free time arranging these and going through all 1,500 photos. But here’s a movie of my favorite sites in Prague and Vienna.

You can download the FULL movie here. (Please note, it’s 350megs, so it’ll take a while).

Or watch it individually in the following two youtube clips

Prague:

Vienna:

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Around The Globe My Life

Vienna Wrap Up

So Vienna…

Vienna, was not my favorite city. We got lost, constantly!

So we got there at the Southern Station and then had to go to the Western Station where our hostel was. We got on the tram and there was no where to put luggage, thankfully this really nice older guy gave up his seat so that we could get our luggage out of the isle. He also told us how many stops we had to go. Really friendly guy.

Got to our hostel and they told us we’d have to wait 3 hours before our room was ready! This was at 15:00!! So we put our luggage in storage and explored the area around our hostel some, found a grocery store to buy food in. I was carrying around a bunch of things of yogurt. Well, I dropped one and right next to where someone else had JUST broken a whole bottle of wine. Well the lady who was cleaning up the wine started yelling at me in German and I didn’t understand! :'(

Anyways, the first full day there we headed over to the Hofburg Complex. We wondered around that for a while and then went and saw the royal Imperial Apartments and Silver Collection. Both were very cool. After that we wondered around some more and they were setting up for some crazy Luxury living event thing. After that we tried finding our next activity, but we got lost and ended up next to the Rathaus City hall building where they were having a Christmas Market. Which is honestly one of my FAVORITE things about traveling in Europe at this time of year. They are absolutely wonderful! We shopped around there for a little bit and got lunch there. From there we headed over to the Sigmund Freud Museum which was very cool to see where he actually worked and lived. I wished they had more of his original stuff there, but they did have the waiting room setup the way he had it. We ended the day going to a Imperial Crypt in a church which wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but still kinda cool.

The second day we walked around a lot, saw the Stephansdom which was neat. Around the corner from it was a place called Haas & Haas, we went back a few days later for some AMAZING dessert and tea! , found a cool Memorial which was all in Russian, so Constantine could read it. lol. I can’t remeber the exact name of it though and I don’t have the book with me to look it up. I was honestly surprised it was still standing. After that we headed over to the Belvedere and saw all the art there which was nice. That evening we went out and found the State Opera house which was really pretty all lit up at night and we saw a concert at the smaller Music theater next door. There were three encores! It was really good and I’m glad we went to it. After that we headed over to the famous Sacher for a slice of Sachertorte. Amazing! πŸ™‚

The third day we headed to the nation museums which were cool in the MuseumsQuartier. We saw Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien and the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Both of them were really cool. It was also sunny that day so we took advantage of that and walked back over to the Stephansdom to take more pics of that. That night we headed out to Mango Bar which was lots of fun.

The last day in Vienna we went out to the Schloss Schonbrunn Palace. This place was amazing, and I highly suggest the longer tour as they save the best rooms for that tour! I was sad that it was so cloudy that day! That evening we headed back over to the Rathaus to take night time shots. Did some last minute shopping and then ate dinner at Cafe Resturant Landtmann which was just delicious! We then headed out to another gay bar called Heaven. The place was a dud. πŸ™

The next day we took the train back to Prague and spent the night at the hotel by the airport. We totally wanted to go try and find some hot Czech boy porn, but the only place that looked any good was closed that night! πŸ™

The flights back to LA were hellish. I got yelled at by the Air France people because the place was “Ready to leave”. I got stopped TWICE at different security points. The second one was AT the door to get on the plane and the woman was a total bitch. Made me take EVERYTHING out of my backpack. My wallet set off the metal detector because I have an extra key in there, so she made me empty that entire thing. All while the Air France lady is yelling at ME to hurry up because the plane is ready to go. Then we get on the plane and there is no where for me to put my baggage in the overhead thing and they are yelling at me to take my seat. They run out of Chicken dinners by the time they get back to me and only have Salmon, and I don’t eat that shit. Just an absolute nightmare! UGH!

Thank god the rest of the trip was excellent.

If you want to see our tracks that we did here’s a few different ways:

1) Download the GPX file and load it into your favorite program.
2) Download a Google Maps static image.
3) Download the Google Earth KMZ file. Download Google Earth here.
4) Or view it directly in your browser on Google Maps.

You can see all 531 photos from our trip to Vienna on the photodump.

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My Life

GeoTagging Photos on a Mac

UPDATED: 2008-01-22 (GPSPhotoLinker)
UPDATED: 2008-03-26 (iPhotoToGoogleEarth)

In short:

The Long Story

I’ve recently got very excited about Geotagging photos. I’m getting ready to head off to Europe for a couple weeks, visiting both Prague and Vienna. I wanted to be able to track where we go in the cities. My past couple trips, including Berlin and Paris, I always get back and start trying to comment on my photos and I no doubt have trouble remember where in the city they were taken!

So this time, I want to be able to geotag them all. Needless to say, I don’t have the money to spend on a DSLR with built in GPS support, or even a DSLR that can support an external GPS unit. So I have to find a way to tag my photos from my trusty Canon Powershot SD630.

I started off with a Garmin Forerunner 201, which I borrowed from a guy here at the office. I used it for a few days of tracking my driving, it seemed to work pretty well, but it had trouble acquiring the satellites fast enough. It would take anywhere from 5-15 minutes, which just isn’t fast enough for me. Also, I was afraid that when in Europe it wouldn’t be able to hold a whole days worth of tracks.

There were a few other issues with the device as well. First, I could not find ANY software to work with it on my Mac. Even GPSBabel couldn’t seem to find it. Second was that the windows software only exported in Garmin Training Center (.TCX) file format. After some searching I was able to find a website that could convert the files to the correct GPX file format, but this would require that I have internet connection while in Europe. Which is not a guarantee.

So, this weekend I went out and bought a fairly cheap used Garmin eTrex Vista. I didn’t need or want anything too fancy. The maps, etc are unneeded. Plus I’m going to be attaching it to my backpack, so I don’t want anything expensive in case it gets stolen while in Europe.

The device so far seems to be working pretty well. It acquires signals in just a few minutes, and can hold 10,000 track points.

As for the Mac Software, I’ve found tons of software out there, however none of it seems to actually work!

For transferring the data points from the Garmin device to my Macbook Pro, I have found the best solution to be GPS Babel. It was able to easily and quickly find my GPS unit and then transfer the trackpoints off into the correct GPX file type data.

From there, I then was able to find Photo GPS Editor. It’s a pretty straight forward interface with a really nice wizard. It even gives you the ability to select a location on the map and set that as the starting point. It will then try and find the correct information for the pictures.

My major complain with this software is the “Offset”. Probably because I don’t understand what I’m supposed to be setting here. It seems that no matter what I put there, things are “close” to where they should be, but not quite correct. I know I’ll probably never get it EXACTLY on where the pic was taken. But still, I think they should be closer then where it’s being shown. IE. I have a picture of the “Fairfax Exit” on the I-10 freeway here in LA. The Photo GPS Editor is putting that picture as being taken about 2 miles past where it was actually taken at (2 miles north on Fairfax from the I-10).

I’m also very confused by the listing of the GPS unit’s data. It shows that there are 8 different track logs with many different points each. So I don’t quite understand what those all mean.

I’d been playing around with GPS PhotoLinker before I moved over to Leopard. However now it doesn’t seem to start (Something about a missing perl module). I have emailed the developer and he says it’s a known issue and should be fixed shortly. (UPDATE: The developer has been actively releasing beta versions that work on Leopard. Check out the site here.) UPDATE:// I have been using this software for a while now that it’s working on leopard and it works great! This is by far the best software to use!!!

Lastly, I tried out ImageIngester. At first the interface is very confusing and has way too much going on. It’s in some serious need of a redesign. However! I found at this software actually worked the best out of all of them!

Even though this software is very cumbersome in the design and not very intuitive (I’m not really going to go into what should be changed here), it was relatively easy to actually get the photos tagged with GPS data. The first thing I did was go to “ImageIngesterPro” and click “Switch Mode”. This disabled a lot of the advanced features which are useless for this experiment. Second, was to click the “Tools” option and select “GPS Input” to enable the use of GPS data.

Here the Offset stuff is much easier to change. I knew that my GPS and my camera were both set to Pacific time and I knew that my camera was an hour faster then my GPS. Under the option for “Camera Time Adjustment” I changed it to remove an Hour.

Next, click the “Choose” button to select your photos, then click “Start”. It was that easy! ImageIngester did all the rest.

Some of the other software I’ve tried has been:

  • GeoTag – This was a really nice software, however it only works on Windows because there is no Java 6 build for the Mac yet.
  • GeoTagger – This software wouldn’t even start on Leopard
  • HoudahGeo – This software seems nice, but it crashed my Mac every time I tried to export to Google Earth (which is something I really want to be able to do!). I’ve emailed the developer, but he’s been unable to resolve the issue at this point. (UPDATE: The developer has emailed me saying this will be fixed in 1.3, I have yet to try it out, but I am looking forward to giving it a shot tonight)

Now, as for getting things onto Google Earth. I was hoping for a quick and easy solution here. And Sure enough, there’s one available… That is, if you still have iPhoto 6. It’s called iPhotoToGoogleEarth. It’s supposed to export directly from iPhoto to a Google Earth KML file format. Of course, I no longer have iPhoto 6. Again, I emailed the developer and he is unsure when a new version will be available. So off I go to find a new solution.

UPDATE://iPhotoToGoogleEarth now works with iPhoto ’08! Great news and it appears to work great!!

The guy who wrote ImageIngester also wrote a nice blog entry about how to do this with some simple PHP. However, this is not exactly what I was hoping for. It’s a great way to do it, but I want people to download a KMZ format file and open it in Google Earth Locally. (And hopefully have a link back to the full size image online).

It seems that Picasa is the best solution, but last I checked it’s still only for Windows?

So far it looks as though I am out of luck on this issue. I’ve spent countless hours searching the web, perhaps I’m googling the wrong things, but I just have not been able to find anything! If you have any suggestions, let me know!

There’s a great article on GeoTagging on Wikipedia.

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