Gear Review: Surface Go Tablet/Laptop Hybrid Solution For Travel Blogging


If you follow my site regularly you've no doubt noticed that I often go for weeks at a time with no updates only to release a flood of new posts at seemingly random intervals.  That's mostly because I spend most weekends running around outdoors and often the weeks in between see me doing everything but sitting down in front of my desktop to write.

This site is just a hobby but it does bring me a lot of enjoyment and I've always has this ideal in my head of being able to do the actual write-ups while I'm still out in the field.  This has led me to purchase a series of keyboards and accessories for my iPhone, iPad, and a few sub $100 tablets in the hopes of finding something that was functional while not costing so much that I'd be afraid to take it out.

Up until this point each of the solutions failed to meet my needs in one or more major ways and I've been stuck just making notes to myself in my iPhone and fleshing out the articles when I'm back home.  And then I came across the Microsoft Surface Go.

Diving Before Work: A Night Dive + Morning Dive Twofer At Divers Cove & Fisherman's Cove

April 8th & 9th, 2019
[Diver's Cove Night Pics]
[Fisherman's Cove Morning Pics]
[Matt's Scuba Map]

Last week had been hectic and I only managed a single morning dive on Friday.  That was mostly because I returned from the Buckskin Gulch trip Wednesday night and left for the Alabama Hills Climbing weekend on Friday but still!

This week was a full 5 days of soul wounding gainful employment and I was determined to make the most of it since the Spring Advanced Mountaineering Program kicked off next week and things were likely going to get a bit busier again.

Jack being the amazing friend he is he agreed to my slightly aggressive plan of 4 dives including three morning dives and a night dive with these two being back to back.

Diving Before Work - Diver's Cove in Laguna Beach


April 5th, 2019
[Pics] [Map]

The downside of these pre-work dives is that I have to roll out of bed at 4:45 am and drive out to Laguna before the sun is even up.  But hey, we all know sleep is overrated when compared against outdoor activities and I find a quick hour under water makes for a rather pleasant start to to the average workday.

This week I was only in town for two days after arriving back from a 5 day trip to Buckskin Gulch / Paria Canyon in Utah so this was my only chance to get out.  Fortunately the predicted 30% chance of rain Thursday night hadn't appeared so off we went!

Slotting It Up: Backpacking Buckskin Gulch / Paria Canyon to Lee's Ferry

March 30th to April 4th
Day 1: 15 -ish miles 
Day 2: 14 -ish miles 
Day 3: 12 -ish miles
Day 4: 10 -ish miles
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

I've made a solid attempt of late to stop saying no to more involved trips on account of them being too much time away from work or too expensive since quite frankly the events of the last year or two have shown the things I've been sacrificing for just aren't worth it. And so you're seeing more trips like this, Florida, and the oncoming onslaught of Summer 2019.

This was one of those bucket list trips that I'd looked at for years. Buckskin Gulch is considered the longest and deepest slot canyon in the southwest United States and possibly the world.  It's claim to fame is that you can backpack through it and them meet up with the Paria River and spend several days descending down to the Colorado River. Compare this with other slot canyons in the area where you're lucky to get the better part of the day.

I of course love me some slot canyon. So then the limiter became getting the permit which are rather limited (more on that below) but this year Jen got lucky and so the week after the Wilderness Travel Course Snow Camp wrapped up we were off!

Diving Before Work - Diver's Cove in Laguna Beach

March 26th & 27th, 2019
Diver's Cove
[Pics] [Map]

This week we saw enough of a break in the seemingly endless Southern California rain to allow Jack and I to get back out diving again before work.

So far all the morning dives have been at either Shaw's Cove or Crescent Bay so we decided to mix things up a bit and head for Diver's Cove located a short distance to the south.

Guidebooks on the Go: Turning a Closet Full of Print Guidebooks into Searchable PDFs


Over the years I've accumulated a fair number of of guide books.  They're a mix of peak guides, rock climbing guides, and the occasional small print book covering the history or fauna of a particular area.

While I personally feel the sources available on the internet have surpassed most of the old print guides I do find that many of them still contain valuable information. For example take Andy Zdon's Desert Summits.  While I find it to be a very frustrating book due to the lack of maps and a few other design choices it does have information on a lot of peaks you won't find elsewhere.

The problem I had with my collection was that I was rarely sitting at home with access to my bookshelf when I wanted to plan trips. In fact I had several really interesting books that I tended to forget about for years at a time.

So for a while now I've been contemplating doing something about this situation. For me the ideal was something digital I could access anywhere on my computer, phone, or tablet. (I have had a few books in digital format for example RJ Secor's Sierra guidebook but the DRM included with the legal purchase disallows copying or printing and most other guides just were not available in anything but paper.)

Enter the great guidebook scanning project of 2018!

Kaweah Group Heads Up Sierra Peak For The First Outing of The 2019 Wilderness Travel Course!

February 10th, 2019
Sierra Peak (3,045')
15 miles, 3,000'
[Pics] [Caltopo] [Map]

Those that follow this site know that I'm a volunteer instructor for the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course down here in Orange County. I run Kaweah Group which is one of three groups in the area and so my schedule tends to be dominated by the class in the January to April timeframe.

The class began on January 22nd and we have had three of the ten Tuesday night classroom sessions so far but we'd yet to actually get outside with the new crop of students. That all changed this weekend with a full day hike excursion to Sierra Peak.

We'd originally planned on Mount Wilson from Sierra Madre but the seemingly endless series of storms we've been experiencing this year resulted in temperatures in the 30s, high winds, and 3-5 ft of snow up top. That the prospect of a steep trail with a big drop off to the side less than ideal so we ended up changing at the last minute.

So off we went to Sierra Peak with a forecast of temperatures in the high 40s, high winds, and rain pretty much throughout the day.

Diving Before Work At Shaw's Cove Laguna Beach

January 25th, 2019
[Pics] [Map]

I've recently jumped into diving with the intent of maintaining all of my other various outdoor hobbies. As I'm sure you can guess that is a bit difficult since I already struggle to find open weekends and now I have yet another awesome way to spend them. But hey, there are worse problems to have!

This weekend would see Kristen and I hopefully diving some deep wrecks down in San Diego with Sea Stallion and finishing up our Advanced Open Water certifications. We also had tentative plans to head over to Catalina and Casino Point on Sunday if conditions looked good and when the opportunity came up to do a kickoff dive of sorts Friday morning before work we both jumped at the chance.

A Cold Damn Dive From Cabinsite Point In Lake Mojave

January 13th, 2019
[Pics] [Map]

Yesterday had been fun but Kristen and I both felt we'd gotten our fill of dives at Kingman Wash and Willow Beach. Fortunately Bruce at Sin City Scuba had recommended we contact Jerry Portwood at Dive Shack USA in Laughlin about diving in Lake Mojave.

Similar to yesterday Dive Shack USA wasn't open on Sunday but Jerry was graciously willing to come in whenever we needed to rent us tanks and event went above and beyond to work with us around some cell coverage issues on Saturday.

Diving Lake Mead At Kingman Wash & Willow Beach

January 12th, 2019
[Pics] [Map]

This weekend was supposed to be a triumphant (-ish) return to diving in Southern California after the New Years trips. The plan was to join Sea Stallion on the Cee Ray dive boat to Catalina Saturday and then do shore dives around town on Sunday. And then conditions went to crap.

The Cee Ray was canceled due to swell and surf conditions ruled out anything on the shore. Going out to Catalina and diving Casino Point also looked like it wasn't an option.

And so we started to look further afield. Kristen had run into really bad weather during her Thailand trip and only been able to do a single dive so not wanting that trend to continue I said I'd drive wherever we needed to if we could find diving options.

And that's how we ended up talking to Bruce Hall at Sin City Scuba...