Off the Beaten Path: Fort Malden

IMG_20170714_160647This post originally appeared at Roadtreking

We recently planned a trip from our home in Michigan to Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, Canada so that we could take advantage of free admission as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Along the way, we took a side trip off the beaten path to an historic fort we spotted on Google Maps while planning our trip.

Fort Malden is located in Amherstburg, Ontario, about 35 minutes south of the Ambassador Bridge where you enter Canada from the U.S.  It was built in 1795 by Britain to protect against an invasion by those upstart Americans. Throughout its history, it is most known for its military use during the War of 1812 and also is the site of the longest occupation of any Canadian land by the United States. Over time, however, the main building that now serves as a museum has been everything from a private residence to a lumber mill to an insane asylum.

Visitors are able to see the wide array of Fort Malden’s history through the buildings that remain and the information provided in the museum. Local college and high school students get summer jobs serving as “soldiers” at the fort and help tell the history through period costumes and exhibitions of firing muskets and cannons.

The fort sits overlooking the Detroit River, so you can always take a stroll through the grounds to enjoy the view or sit and relax by the water to see if any boats happen to float by. Coming and going from the fort, you drive through the city of Amherstburg and the entrance is basically in a residential neighborhood now. I can only imagine what the soldiers from the 1800s would think of the area compared to what they saw!

Amherstburg is located along Highway 20 in the southwest corner of Ontario. It’s a pleasant drive and we think Fort Malden is a great stop to soak up some history and wander the well-manicured grounds. The staff was very friendly and welcomed questions, as they all seemed to enjoy talking about this historical treasure that is kind of tucked away. We recommend making it a stop if you’re going to be in the area.

Maybe some day soon we’ll run into you off the beaten path. Until then, happy travels everyone!

Foiled again by a fantastic traveling companion

snidely whiplash

 

I was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the past few days for work and then a couple of days of vacation. I found Google Glass to be a fantastic traveling companion. But then, on the drive home, I suddenly discovered my new unit that is less than a month old has already developed the fatal design flaw known as foil bubbling.

This is the second time I’ve had this happen, although my first unit lasted 6 months without any problems with the foil. Last time, it made Glass unusable immediately. This time, just the corner has bubbled, although I believe it will continue advancing its way to unusable quickly so I’m working with Google to get another replacement unit.

The “optics pod,” as Google refers to it, is the video screen you see everything with on Glass. The apparently ridiculously fragile foil covering one end prevents light from entering the end of the prism. Without it, you wouldn’t see anything. When it bubbles, you end up with magnified bubbles all over the video screen, which makes it progressively worthless. I still haven’t heard if Google has figured out to how address this fatal design flaw. I don’t envy them, because it can’t be easy to engineer a solid end to a single piece of glass cube. But c’mon, you’re Google!

Google Glass foilAs I mentioned, the foil seems to be Glass’ Achilles heel, so I am very protective of it. No liquids have come into contact with it. I’ve heard humidity is a problem, but that’s pretty hard to avoid in Michigan during the summer. Google cannot keep producing a product that only works in the environments of certain parts of the U.S. without self-destructing. I’ve also heard extreme temperature shifts may be a problem, but Glass experienced none of those the past few days.

Until this problem developed, Glass was a fantastic travel companion. Along with my Droid Maxx, it helped me put together a great photo album of our trip. It served as a wonderful navigational aid and it helped me keep track of appointments and locations via my calendar. It also worked very well as a way to chat with my kids and coworkers while we were on the road for many hours at a time and to share messages and photos with them while we were working or being tourists.

Despite all the media hype suggesting Google Glass is evil, the more I use Glass the more I see it becoming a natural extension of our mobile phones that helps us stay connected without dropping our eyes to a phone screen and becoming physically disconnected.

But until Google can address this flaw, I see a future where more people are saying they were foiled by a fantastic traveling companion or simply choose to leave that companion behind. And that would be a damn shame.