Have iPhone, Will Travel

Yikes! Wheres my phone?” I was standing in line to board the bus to Logan Airport frantically searching through my carry-on bag when I realized that my phone, my lifeline during my upcoming trip, was missing. Before panic set in, I remembered that I had the app Find My on my iPad. The Portland Transportation Center has free WiFi so I fired up my iPad and launched Find MyThere was my iPhone icon pulsing away in Lisbon Falls. I was relieved to learn it was at home and not on 295 somewhere.

Fortunately, my good friend located my phone and put it in the mail for two-day delivery to California. I continued to track its progress across the country with Find My until the battery died at the Memphis International Airport. Then I used the USPS tracking number to follow the rest of its journey to me.

My original plan for Find My was connected to the Apple AirTag I purchased to track my suitcases progress. Having suffered through several instances of luggage not arriving at a destination when I did, I wanted to know where it was. On the the first leg of my trip to California, I could not track my suitcase because the AirTag was synced to my iPhone that was back in Maine. However, on subsequent flights during my vacation, I could monitor my suitcases progress from the main terminal to my departure concourse to my destinations airport. It was reassuring to be able to locate my bag at all times.

Find My is a very useful app that will locate your Apple devices whether they are in the same building or across the country. It also allows you to erase all data should a device be unretrievable. You can get the app for your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Google Play Store also has a similar app for Androids called Google Find My Device.

This trip was the first flight I had taken since COVID. The family was gathering on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state and so after meeting my sister in California, we were off to Seattle to join the others. The digital world has transformed traveling over the past 20 or so years. Like so many people, we used the internet to find an Airbnb that would accommodate 11 people, booked our flights, found places to eat, and used Maps to get to our destination. Also, we were constantly texting to coordinate plans, and naturally, the young people were keeping up with friends back home through various apps. True confession, I was texting regularly to make sure my pooch was surviving without me. Pictures of him resting comfortably relieved any anxiety I might have felt.

One pleasant surprise was that all of the planes had WiFi. Before COVID, some of my flights did, but not all. The six-hour trip across the country went quickly because I could tap into my streaming apps on my iPad. I watched a couple of episodes of The Unforgotten on PBS, played Words With Friends, and of course read a book on my Kindle app. WiFi in the sky makes air travel more enjoyable.

It is amazing how many times the internet and apps came in handy on this trip. For example, a couple of members of my family sometimes have respiratory issues. We were in the Pacific Northwest and there were wildfires to the north and east of us. For the most part, the smoke did not come our way. However, at the end of the trip, smoke was enveloping us, and it was helpful to check the weather apps Air Quality feature. If there was a bad air warning, we adjusted our plans.

Do you have the Google Earth app? Its cool because you can see what a place looks like in 3D. We used this app to check the terrain of locations we might visit. Two of our group qualify for the elderly” label, though we would never admit to it. However, our days of steep descents and scrambling over slippery rocks are probably over. Checking Google Earth for a closer look at the landscape helped eliminate any surprises on our excursions.

Long Walk to the Lighthouse in 90+º Weather!?! Maybe Not!

My younger relatives introduced me to disc golf on this trip. I was curious how it was played so I went along and played the official photographer. This particular course provided a ramble through the tall Douglas firs of the Northwest—very enjoyable. My nephew had an app called UDisc. It has information about hundreds of disc golf courses around the country including the set up of the holes. What a cool app, I thought and wondered what other types of similar apps existed. No surprise, there are apps for golf courses, X-county skiing trails, backcountry skiing and snowboarding, hiking, and other outdoor activities. There truly is an app for just about any activity. Pretty amazing!

I took the redeye back to Boston with some of my family. We had about six hours before flight time. I can easily pass multiple hours in an airport people watching and reading. However, I was traveling with a family of energizer bunnies so we looked for a cool activity in Seattle. We found Discovery Park. It is a lovely woodland with trails through the forest and along the shore of Puget Sound. After about 45 minutes into our hike, we stopped to decide which trail to follow. They wanted to go on to the lighthouse, but I knew it had a stairway with about a million steps straight up. I was getting hot and suggested that they go on to the lighthouse, and I would meander back to the parking lot and wait for them.

I hadnt been paying close attention to our route out but figured I could find my way without a problem. Then I came to a spot where four paths diverged. Whoops, I wasnt sure which path to take. Out came my iPhone with the Maps app. I typed in the parking lot as the destination and chose walking directions. I took the correct path and rambled along. At times I used the Picture This app to identify plants along the way. It was a delightful walk. As it turned out, I probably made the better choice. They found the lighthouse with its million stairs, however, it was next to a sewage treatment plant spewing odors that did not add to the ambiance of the setting. Having the phones made it easy to differentiate our activities, thus keeping everyone happy.

Needless to say, I used my iPhone camera constantly. My niece is putting together an online album where we all can share our photos. What a wonderful resource that will be for all of us.

Smartphones have added ease of access to information, opportunities, and communication, plus ways to capture our adventures while traveling. Dont leave home without yours!

I know there are still many folks, especially in my generation (Boomers), who are still not comfortable with their digital devices. I worry that they might be missing opportunities because they do not take advantage of the full capacity of their devices. We at BoomerTECH Adventures can help; check out our webpage: https://boomertechadventures.com/



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