Bon Voyage!

My kids have officially left for sleepaway camp for the summer. All of them. This is a time of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am sad that they are gone. On the other hand, I know they are happy, thriving, and safe at camp. While I wish I were with them in the Summer (because I love the Summer), I have been with them all year long, and this is a welcome reprieve (I get my wife and my life back). Hence, I've chosen to relish in my summer vacation and enjoy my break from responsibility. Freedom, baby! In this week's Loupe, I'll give you tools to enjoy your free time, guilt-free!

Send a Card!

Ink Cards
App

I'm going to state the obvious; kids like to get mail when they're at camp; nobody wants to go to the mailbox and have nothing waiting for them while their neighbor has tons of mail. Thus, you need Ink Cards (not Postagram). Ink is an app that allows you to easily create Postcards from pictures on your phone and write a quick note. Choose your images carefully, like photos of them with their friends, when they were younger, doing something funny, or even with their friends from this summer (you know you have a bunch of starred favorites from the website), not pictures of you and your spouse traveling to exotic places drinking champagne. You must keep up the "narrative" that you are always thinking about them. The best part of these cards is the ease --- you can do everything from your phone while you're waiting for a drink. No need to buy a card, find a stamp, and put in the mailbox. In fact, you can send a card while you are at the beach or even traveling in Europe. Even better, you can send the same card to multiple kids, just make sure not to address anything specific. This is ideal if they go to different camps and can't compare notes! Bon Voyage!

Smile!

Sony Alpha 7R Camera
Technology

If I'm out there doing fun and interesting things this summer, I need a way to record it (this is 2017 after all), and if it's not recorded did it happen? This reminds me of the adage, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" So, I am an adapter of the Facebook-Instagram generation and while the iPhone takes solid pictures and is magically strapped to me wherever/whenever, there are better pictures to be had. An iPhone is sufficient for most spontaneous occasions. You need a real camera when you aren't moving around much (such as a sports event, a graduation, or even the camp buses leaving). Your iPhone camera won't suffice when the object is scurrying, like a herd of elephants on safari, or a pack of girl's greeting each other at the camp bus stop doing group cheers. When I set about buying a new camera, I knew I needed something different. I have been using the Canon 50D digital SLR camera to great effect for years. I asked a photographer friend what I should buy, and he immediately said the Sony Alpha series, which is mirrorless. I, of course, did research and came to a similar conclusion --- this camera met most of my non-professional needs. The fact that is it mirrorless has some nuanced benefits regarding size and image making. I've been wowed by my (novice) photos thus far. Be prepared to check out my photos that I plan to take eating the best pizza in Naples, hiking/kayaking the Fjords, or watching the sunset in Montauk. Not sure those will make it on the Ink cards .... 

Take a Hike!

AllTrails
App

When the cat's away, the mice do play ... so when the kids are away at camp, I plan on doing all the things I enjoy. This list includes lots of healthy and non-healthy behaviors, but for now I'm going to focus on the active pursuits. For me, the perfect activity is a rigorous hike. Now, you may wonder where does a NY'er like me find these and the answer is All Trails. No matter where you are located, this app helps you find trails where you are. You will be surprised by the number, quality, and breadth of the hikes that are near your current location, and you can sort by proximity, difficulty, and/or length. For instance, last weekend I was in Washington, Connecticut (thank you Loupers Ali and Neil R) and we embarked on the perfect 2-hour hike. The app will present you with a description, directions, and user-generated content including reviews and recorded tracks. You can upgrade to Pro for $29.99 if you want the ability to download maps to your mobile device in the event you are out of cellular range. Get out there, hike, and explore! The world is your oyster ... 

In closing, take advantage of your newfound freedom and consider Ink CardsSony Alpha 7R Camera, and AllTrails App Found!