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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

An iPad vs a Computer for Travel

Christmas came early in the shape of an iPad mini and I'm thrilled! I've coveted one since they came out and I'm really happy to have it on  the"Mad Dash Across Too Much."

I'm glad it arrived a few week before our departure as I need to set up it, transferring over all my contacts, bookmarks, music, movies and iTunesU lectures. So far I'm in techno-love and have probably spent far too much time browsing and buying apps.

Santa brought me the mini because somehow he knew I'd want the lighter most mobile option. D. says Santa always knows what's best, though frankly it didn't look that way when I was a kid! The mini is great for travel and I love that it's light and easy to hold in one hand. I wanted an separate keyboard and opted for the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover which  makes typing  more feasible while we're away. I'm so happy not to be dragging my Macbook Pro with us, it's a great piece of equipment but it gets very heavy very fast and with three plus months on the road mobility is key.

Here's what I've learnt so far:
  • It's easy to manage, particularly for those of you who are already in the Mac environment. With iCloud it practically sets itself up - though I did have some problems with my contacts so do be careful to back up when you sync.
  • Knowing me well, Santa opted for the wifi + cellular option. I don't have an iPhone and tend to use a cheap phone with a local sim when we travel. At home I'll be using the wifi option, but when we travel it's great to having access to data when you're on the go. In Rome I paid 20 Euro for a sim with 2 gb which was plenty for three weeks. From what we saw in France and Lisbon, those data only sims are inexpensive and easily available locally . I've loved finding recommended restaurants and being able to locate myself with the iPad when I get lost!
  • I could blow the budget on Apps I've already downloaded a couple of apps including Eat Rome and Katie Parla's Rome as well as the Approach Guide's Guide to the Temples at Bagan. After the trip I'll review what I found most useful (I'm sure I'll be buying more!) but my immediate thought is that Eat Rome is well designed and I'd love to see the Approach Guides move their format from an ibooks  into a fully functioning app.

I'll be updating this as we go along but so far I'm loving the iPad. It isn't a true replacement for a computer and the biggest issue for blogging is managing the photos which is a fuss. So far it's an adequate substitute for a few months and I'm managing my cameral roll on D.'s Mac Air. It seems I've been successfully sold on the idea of different electronics for different purposes. Yes, I know this is how they get you to "need"/buy more and more. Technically I could use the iPad for reading and I have downloaded the Kindle app  but the backlit screen and the more limited battery life just  just can't match the Kindle on a sunny day or in Bangladesh where we won't be able to recharge constantly.  Perhaps it's ridiculous but I have both devices on the "Mad Dash", frankly the most irritating thing is that all our equipment used different cords. Managing all the wires is a skill in itself!