Month: October 2011

GateGuru: Navigating Unfamiliar Airports

I know San Francisco International Airport fairly well since it is home base. I know where to find a cup of tea or a bottle of water just before I board my plane and the Duty-Free shop. But, put me in any unfamiliar airport in the U.S. and I will be on the lookout for the nearest directory.

Enter GateGuru. This is an iPhone and Android app that provides information for a specific airport’s restaurants, pubs, shops, ATMs, etc.  It also includes the terminal and nearest gate location as well as rating. This convenience could come in handy when you have a short layover and are in need of reading material or some breakfast before your next flight.

Although this is only for U.S. airports, I would like to see international airports added as well.

Who Has The Right Of Way? African Red Hartebeest or Mountain Bike Racer

I would have to say the hartebeest, considering it weighs 300 pounds and travels at a speed of 40 mph. Thanks to Steve Casimiro for posting this video of mountain bike racer, Evan van der Spuy, getting side swiped while racing in South Africa. Good thing he was able to walk away from it.

Another great example of why wearing a helmet is so important.

Easter Island: Mystery, Moai, Mountain Biking & More

“Mysterious:” the most common word used to describe the remote 63 square mile island of volcanic origin sitting alone in the vast South Pacific Ocean. A 2,400-mile flight from the nearest populated areas of Chile and Tahiti over the deepest, bluest water would arrive on the only runway of the Mataveri Airport. Discovered on Easter Sunday back in 1722 by Dutch explorers, Easter Island’s mystery still entices people today to not only explore its history, but to indulge in the outdoor activities that are available.

It is not the crystal clear ocean or the pristine white beaches that attract visitors like most Polynesian islands. Nor is it the volcanic craters or lava formations. It is the gigantic stone statues known as moai. The mystery of their origins still fascinates to this day even though the trade winds of time have eroded most of the coral eyes and statues details. There are about 900 moai throughout the island in various stages of completion, some sitting firmly on their ahu platforms while others still lay in transit near and in the Rano Raraku quarry where they were carved. Now, imagine the unique opportunity to do outdoor activities amongst these ancient monoliths.

For those who want to work up a sweat over the volcanic soil, there is mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and caving. This triangular-shaped island is hilly and there are bike trails throughout that can take a few hours to all day to finish. The terrain, depending on difficulty, can range from all paved roads to a combination of paved and dirt to all soil roads. The south side will especially challenge cyclists with steep, winding roads.  Most of these trails are available to horseback riders as well.

The hiking routes guarantee passing in and around archeological sites and moai. The three extinct volcanoes, Poike, Rano Kau and Terevaka, supply the elevation for the island, which make for some great hiking. For example, one route starts in the main town of Hanga Roa, passes Ana Kai Tangata, the Cannibal Cave, and from there it is a steady upward climb to Orongo, the ancient ceremonial village. It ends at the 1,063 ft. peak of Rano Kau where the reward is a fresh water crater lake. The crater has its own microclimate and for the experienced hikers, a walk around the crater is a challenge with a shear 820 ft. drop from the razor edge cliff to the sea. A hike to Mount Terevaka, the tallest peak at 1,676 ft., goes along grassy slopes and has the best 360˚ panoramic views.

The volcanic eruptions of long ago created a labyrinth of underground caves. The underworld here is riddled with caves and tunnels and it is believed this is where the Rapa Nui people hid from slave traders during their darkest times. There are a few official caves and several unofficial ones that have small hidden entries, but open up to large, deep cave systems worth exploring.

The South Pacific Ocean beckons as well. Scuba diving, snorkeling and surfing can all be enjoyed here. The volcanic origins not only helped form the cave system, it also formed a remarkable topography underwater where coral and marine life thrive. The temperate waters surrounding Easter Island and Motu Iti, Motu Kao Kao, and Motu Nui (the three islets just off the coast), offer divers and snorkelers 164 ft. of visibility. With this type of clarity it is easy to observe the local inhabitants like blowfish, butterfly fish, the Mediterranean moray eel, porcupine fish, trumpet fish and sea turtles.

Due to its remoteness surfers get the pleasure of a certain calm and feeling of having the waves all to themselves. Hanga Rova cove is a great place for the novice surfer where the more experienced would be satisfied with the waves at Mataveri and Tahai.

The remoteness of Easter Island, plus its abundance of outdoor activities and geographical, historical and spiritual richness make it a quintessential location for those looking for an authentic adventure.

Gateway to Space: Another Small Step For Richard Branson

Branson’s hope is that it won’t be long before tens of thousands of ordinary humans brave enough to make the trip will be able to afford the flights; and he will have helped forge an entirely new tourism industry.

Stephen Greenwood writes about the christening of the new terminal for Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space in New Mexico. It is a combined terminal and hangar facility that will also support up to 2 WhiteKnightTwo and 5 SpaceShipTwo vehicles.

The spaceport and the mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, are complete. Now comes the final testing. The goal is to have all the tests completed by the end of 2012 so that the commercial suborbital flights can commence.

If you have got $200,000 to put down on a ticket, your future adrenaline rush could be the one you get from traveling into suborbital space. For that price you get a 2-1/2 hour flight, 5 minutes of weightlessness and views of Earth that you can brag about when you come back to the planet.

Not to worry though, if you don’t have an extra $200k lying around, if after the initial pioneers get their experience in space and Virgin Galatic can start offering regular flights after figuring out how to operate more flights on a regular basis, this price could drop to a more accessible range.  Easier said than done, but fingers and toes will remain crossed for Branson and Virgin Galactic.

Wrap Up: Adventure Travel Trade Association Summit in Chiapas, Mexico

Hola!  Greetings from Chiapas, Mexico where I am wrapping up 4 days at the Adventure Travel Trade Association Summit.  This has been one of the best events I’ve ever attended.  In a pleasant surprise, PathWrangler was mentioned one of the keynote address as an emerging technology that builds and supports the adventure travel market through community.  After building some of the best relationships I’ve made in almost any business setting, it reaffirms to me that PathWrangler is way more than our product.  We are in the business of building community and enhancing personal experiences with some of world’s best tour operators, guides and adventure travelers.  The adventure travel community seeks to provide incredibly rich, personal experiences for either themselves or their clients, and our technology is just an excuse for us be a part of making this happen in way the world has never seen before.  We are extremely fortunate to be in a position where we can do this.

I’ll be providing further stories and analysis from the conference when I return to San Francisco after today, but this conference has been a shot of adrenaline right into the blood stream.

Please Welcome Mikey Clarke!

Everyone, please welcome a huge new addition to our team: Mikey Clarke.  We here at PathWrangler feel that our team was lacking the international flair that our business depends on, so we went all the way out to Wellington, New Zealand to find him.  Not only are we excited to have Mikey join us, we’re also excited that we are going to have the best offsites ever!

Mikey is our new web developer.  I asked him to put together a little blurb about himself and here is a little more about him in his own words:

Hi! I’m Mikey, and I’m a web developer, in Wellington, New Zealand. I’ve been in web development for several years, doing all sorts of fun projects, mainly working with Ruby on Rails and jQuery. My job at PathWrangler is to randomly bang my head on the keyboard and retrospectively give cool assurance that the resulting code base is exactly what I intended. Outside of work, I do quite a bit of writing – some of my stuff is on New Zealand’s history is a bit boring and sparse, so I wrote some more.

Mikey has been quite prolific and has an incredible passion for innovation and development.  I was really impressed with a great site that he built called Find My Flat.  There are some very strong similarities to the mapping features on deck here at PathWrangler.  He’s our key “take all the sketches, drawing, conversations and user stories and make them a reality guy.”  I wonder if that he’ll approve of that title on his business card?

More so than anything, you’ll note he’s just a great guy with lots of personality.  We are hoping to build a solid reputation for being a little quirky, yet incredibly personal with our product and service.  Mikey embodies these values and I think you are really going to enjoy his contributions as a key part of our team that will be delivering something the adventure travel and outdoor community has yet to experience.

Please give Mikey a warm welcome!