He who dies with the most toys

He who dies with the most toys wins.
Malcolm Stevenson Forbes (August 19, 1919 – February 24, 1990)

I don’t really believe Malcolm Forbes’ maxim, but it is a catchy one isn’t it?

And to a degree, we all practice it.

Myself, I have my cameras, computers, smart phone, tablet, Garmin Inreach, Garmin watch, my Prius, and the list goes on…

This article is an introduction to the toys that I use to bring you this site.

[All of the devices mentioned in this article are ones that I own and use regularly. I do not directly endorse or receive compensation from any of the brands mentioned here]

Safety?

Toys aren’t about safety. Are they?

Approaching my 69th birthday, I have acquired a list of health issues that constrain how and where I travel. I probably won’t summit Mt Rainier, but some of the surrounding trails are still doable. Overnight treks along the coast or a road trip to Alaska maybe. I feel safe doing these adventures because I am connected to home through my cell phone, or my Garmin Inreach.

The Inreach allows me to keep my family informed as to where I am regardless of cell phone coverage. This is important when you can travel 30 miles up the road into Mt Rainier National Park, and there are no cell towers. If I get stuck, its nice to know I can call for help. The Inreach allows two way text messaging over satalites. No cell tower required. Should I fall and break a leg, I can punch an SOS button for help. While out on a multi-day trip, it is nice to be able to send a quick “I’m good” text regardless of cell coverage.

If you wander out exploring on your own or in small groups, I must insist you take an Inreach or Spot type device with you. It will put your family at ease that they know where you are and can reach out if the need arises.

Communication

First thing that comes to mind is the phone right. Well there is also the computer, tablet and Inreach.

My phone, a low cost LG Q7+ Android device, is great for phone calls and some browsing. We use T-Mobile as our service provider and have no complaints. I’d rather send and receive emails on my computer or tablet because I have big fingers. I picked up a bluetooth keyboard from Logitech, a K380, which helps but next time I’m in the market for a phone, I’ll probably spring for a higher end device and discard the tablet.

Computers

My primary computer is a laptop. An HP Spectre. It is tricked out with a 15 inch 4k display, 16 GB of RAM, and 1/2 TB of Storage. It has an Intel Core i7, 2018 vintage. A great, if a bit heavy, workhorse.

No, I’m not an Apple fan-boy. My career has been in the corporate world where the PC reigns supreme. I have always found Apple machines expensive compared to PCs. Not so much now however. Today its all about what you are comfortable with.

Most of the time, the laptop stays home on my desk. I take a tablet, an Android powered Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e with me on shorter trips. This is a nice device which I use for consuming email, reading news articles and as a photo display device – my mobile photo album. It does a good job of presenting maps while I’m out in the field too. Hooked up with the Logitech keyboard, and it works well for text editing.

The phone as I mentioned, is an LG Q7+. It also works as a mobile hotspot which extends the capabilities of my tablet. I’m not big on phone photography, so a less featured phone camera is good enough.

Yes, there are other computers in the house. An old desktop now acts as a file server. My wife has three computers she uses in her sewing work. They go together with the three or four sewing and embroidery machines she has.

The Car

I drive a Prius 2. After 8 years I wish I had bought a fully loaded Prius 4 but oh well.

The car has served me well and expect it will do so for several more years. On occasion I lust for a 4×4 truck and camper that will take me farther into the back country. Of course 20 mpg verses 50 mpg… If I’m that desperate, I can rent. Or better yet, join a photo adventure tour and let someone else drive.

I found that the Prius has over six feet between the tailgate and the front seat. Push the front seat forward; drop the back seat; put a cooler in the foot well; and you have an OK overnight camper for the dog and I. Not the lap of luxury, but it gets the job done on a retiree income. I can find a hotel room when I want a shower.

The Camera

My favorite toy has got to be my camera.

I am not a professional photographer. I am an aspiring travel photo journalist.

I shoot Canon. I have always shot Canon. Yes, other brands are popular – Nikon is touted – Sony is the poster child today – but I shoot Canon.

When the Sony A7 mkII was released, I rented one to try. Nice. Almost bought in. But. I have these lenses – not a lot mind you but it would be expensive to replace them all if I were to move to a new system.

Currently I shoot with a Canon 7d Mk II. This is a cropped sensor (APS C format) which has served me very well since May of 2015. Before that there was a 50d which replaced a 30d. You get the idea.

My collection of lenses include a couple of ‘L’ (read premium) models. You can see the results I achieve on the site here. If there are issues with the quality of my images, I can’t blame it on my tools.

Upgrade Considerations

Next week Canon is expected to release their new EOS R5 and R6 mirrorless cameras. These are full frame units which are said to incorporate a lot of features which may put them back in the technical race with Sony. While I am anxious to see just how tricked out these models are, I don’t think I’m in the market. Too expensive. Too heavy.

I’m looking for is a smaller device like the Fuji XT-4. Cropped sensor, APS C, similar to the 7d MkII. Trouble is, going to Fuji also means changing out all my lenses. Spendy.

Canon’s M6 MkII is another option. It was released in August last year. Has some nice features and an adapter which will take my existing lens collection…

Meanwhile, the rumor mill is saying Canon will release an M5 MkII this year. Because of the noise around the R5 and R6, I expect they will hold that announcement until September. I also expect it will incorporate a lot of features found in the R5 and R6 making it a very capable replacement for my 7d.

Wrap it up

OK. I got carried away with my camera envy there. Not sorry – we are talking about toys after all. And I did start off with the Forbes quote He who dies with the most toys wins. Well, I won’t be the winner when I die. Hell I won’t be listed as an also ran. But then that’s not the point is it. Its not about the toys.

It’s about how you use your toys. How you grow your skills to produce better work with your toys.

Now you know what’s in my toy box, I hope you join me as I log how we use them in our Northwest explorations.

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