Thursday, April 11, 2013


My blog title: Norm Crisp on Fly Fishing and his Travel Adventures hint at my, some would say obsession, with seeing what is around the next bend or over the next hill. Turns out, according to an article in National Geographic, some of us might indeed have a gene for wanderlust that makes us keep looking.  For whatever reason, I do tend to do my fair share of wandering.   Roaming the world is great fun, but what about those that can’t be with you? A Satellite Messenger Systems (SMS) can provide those still at home a way to join you.

Several years ago I had never heard of these systems. My fellow trout bum, Duane Brandt and I had decided to “camp” at a motel near Montana’s Big Hole river for the night.  It looked like rain and I didn’t feel like sleeping under another picnic table. The gentleman in the room next to us had also decided not to sleep in the rough.  He invited us to join him for a beer at the honky-tonk attached to the motel. Right after ordering, he took out this palm sized orange thing, pushed a button on it and set it down on the bar. 

Before we could order our next beer his cell phone rang. The one side of the conversion I could hear went something like this:  Hi honey! Yah, it’s drizzling here.  It’s the local beer joint.  OK, I’ll check in tomorrow some time.  By, I love you.”  

Intrigued by what we heard, I asked, “How did she know you were having a beer?”  He handed me the orange thing – a SPOT - and said:  This thing gave her the co-ordinates of exactly where I am and gave her a link to my location on Google Earth.  She looked at the map, put 2 and 2 together and the answer was beer.”   

As much as I’m always looking to see what is over the next hill, I realized I needed one of these things to share my trips with me friends who have to be at home in a soft bed!

A SPOT is a Satellite Messenger System.  When activated, the SPOT transmits a signal, via the commercial satellite communication network, to up to 10 of your per-determined contacts.   While not a true Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) – SMS’s doesn’t transmit signals on internationally recognized distress frequencies – SPOT has an SOS feature that sends a message and your location to a designated contact and the local emergency response group.  Unless you are traveling into extremely dangerous locations or have very limited support, a PLB likely isn’t necessary.  SPOT does have  a “HELP” feature that lets you send a notification and location to your designated contact that you have a problem but it is not life threatening.  

So far in my travels I’ve never needed the SOS or HELP features of my SPOT. But on my travels the “CHECK IN” button gets a workout. This button lets me send my predetermined message  All is well.  Having a great adventure” to my SO, fellow trout bum Duane, and a few other friends.  The web master  also receives my check in message and posts them for me on Facebook.  Since I have the freedom and make the time to look around the next bend no matter where in the world it might be, my “check ins” and posting them on Facebook allow me to share my adventure with my family and friends around the world.  Coupling the 

SPOT locations visited by Norm on his trip
Locations visited on my trip
exact records from my SPOT check ins of where I’ve been with local photos and entries in 

Mount Ararat - one of the SPOT locations visited by Norm Crisp
Mount  Ararat from the Armenian boarder

my travel journals: "Ararat was covered in clouds but as I sit here they are clearing.  It is something to see.  The most amazing mt I've ever seen!" confirmed that my decision "to invest in memories and not in things " was the right choice for me.

My partner Kathy is going to China at the end of May.  I’m staying home to hang with the dogs.  Kathy is taking the SPOT with her.  I may not be able to see the Terracotta Warriors, but I’ll be able see via a Google Earth map, of exactly where they (Kathy and the Warriors) are. 

Now that many of us have the time and resources to take that long awaited trip to some new and exotic location or just see what is over the next hill, why not share these adventures in near real time with our grandchildren, children, and friends. Check-in, take some pictures and record your thoughts.  Thing pass but memories last forever.