DaedTech Smorgasbord: Reader-Questions, A Digest and Brief Notes from the Road
I haven’t done a digest post in a while, so let’s do that. But first, I’ll digress a little bit with a more abbreviated version of “notes from the road” than the last one.
Notes from the Road
We are currently back at our home in Michigan.
It’s a nice place to be, particularly in the summer. And it’s good to get home, dump the boats in the lake, and enjoy the outdoors.
But, it was nice to get away for a while, especially to the non-coastal west. Out there, things were more wide-open, more normal-feeling when doing outdoors activities, and less virus/lockdown-focused.
Between the last notes from the road post and now, we spent a month in a town called Hailey, Idaho, and then a little more than a week in Bismarck, ND, before drifting back here over a long weekend.
From Spearfish, SD, we headed west. We took a route directly through some of the most rural areas of Wyoming, the Grand Tetons, and on into south-central Idaho. It was there, in Hailey, that we made our home for a month.
Hailey is near a couple of somewhat more famous towns: Ketchum and Sun Valley. All of them reside in a narrow valley, traced by the Wood River, between two sets of mountains.
I had no idea until we got there, but apparently a lot of Hollywood types (e.g. Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks) and Mark Zuckerberg own property in the area. It’s easy to see why, since it’s beautiful and you have idyllic summer fly fishing and what appears to be absolutely perfect winter skiing. We actually hired a guide to take us fly fishing one day and, on the way back, he showed us some of these houses of the rich and famous.
This dynamic actually leads to a crunchy, outdoorsy, politically purple mix of folks, pairing wealthy vacationing coastals with rugged locals. I love the mix, since it leads to a surprisingly cosmopolitan set of small, rural towns. We could (and did) hike past a bunch of people fishing the river, and stop for Peruvian food on the walk back to our AirBNB.
Some cool regional things we explored during our time there included:
- Craters of the Moon park.
- Sawtooth national forest for some day hikes and scenic drives.
- Redfish Lake, within the national forest, which looks like an absolute hidden gem vacation spot for anyone interested.
- Boise, Idaho which might have been one of the cooler “rural cities” I’ve been to in some time. Would love to go back.
We were very active, splitting our time among hiking, biking, fishing, shooting baskets at the AirBNB, and walking all over the place. I also loved the opportunity to eat a lot of local river fish, including at an excellent sushi place that mixed the local river trout into the rolls it prepared.
But my favorite part might have been what I could enjoy every day: seeing the Milky Way clearly every night, temperate mountain weather, being surrounded by mountains, and sunsets like this surprisingly regularly, viewed from out in front of our place.
Once our time in Hailey came to an end, we were faced with driving from Idaho back to Michigan. We decided to break that trip up a fair bit, rather than drive for an entire weekend.
We decided to spend a week in Bismarck, ND, a kinda-sorta half way point that would facilitating us driving back to Michigan through the scenic upper peninsula. On the way to Bismarck, we took the scenic route and drove through Yellowstone en route to Montana and eventually North Dakota.
We spent a little over a week in Bismarck, staying at a Residence Inn (where I recorded the video below). Even with a two bedroom suite, that makes for a bit of a tight stay with all of our vagabonding luggage and the cats. It leads to a lot of scenes like this:
I liked Bismarck, but I have to say, it was kind of just a place. It reminded me of what would happen if you took a Chicago suburb and plopped it in the middle of nowhere.
The downtown had some charm, and we went to eat at nice and/or fun places every night. We drove around, exploring a bit, when we weren’t working, and we generally enjoyed our time there. But there was nothing particularly memorable there.
(As an aside, the hotels were absolutely booked and Bismarck is, apparently, suddenly a hot destination because of its relatively relaxed pandemic approach.)
Minnesota, Wisconsin, the UP
After a week in Bismarck, we packed up and headed to our next stop: a night in rural, northern Wisconsin. Or, so we thought.
As we were coming up on Minneapolis, the car battery light came on, prompting us to stop just outside of St. Paul to have a mechanic check out the car. It eventually turned out that the warning light was faulty, rather than the battery. But nevertheless, we had to stop, unpack the entire car and our cats unexpectedly and get the car to the shop.
Here I am, looking pretty ragged after a full day of driving followed by the pretty serious labor of unpacking the car in 90+ degree heat. One of our cats didn’t seem to mind.
The next day, we took off again, cautiously optimistic that the car wouldn’t die. The mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong, and the light wouldn’t come on again in the shop. Naturally, it came on when we’d been on the road for an hour. But we made it to northern Wisconsin on our second try.
We spent a nice, peaceful night near a lake, in the woods. After a brief hike and packing the next morning, we drove into the upper peninsula of Michigan (the UP, which is populated by “yoopers”), across the Mackinaw bridge, and eventually back here.
After about two and a half months on the road, it was nice to find ourselves back on the lake here.
- Two or three weeks ago, I finally decided I’d had my fill with the endless press of Coronavirus news, conspiracy theories, shrill social media fights, and, just, everything. I declared COVID bankrupcy by installing this plugin, which blocks all mentions on news sites and social media. It has been such a refreshing change.
- I’m going to do an explicit plug for the new podcast on which I’m a panelist. It’s called “The Business of Freelancing,” and we’re getting the band back together from our old podcast, plus some new panelists. Here is where you can go to subscribe.
It’s been a while since I did one of these. So I actually have enough material to round up some places you can find my content.
- Here’s the first episode of the Business of Freelancing, where each of the panelists introduce ourselves.
- On the Heavybit blog, I talk about when you can expect to see traffic for a new blog.
- Finally, I’ll toss out the first in a line of posts I wrote over the last couple of years, answering non-programmer questions about programming. This one is about whether or not programmers should blog.