Community Television Computers New Hampshire Reviews Vacation

Hilton Hhonors Wifi vs. Verizon Hotspot

Our family is on a short two-day ski trip in New Hampshire, staying at Hampton Inn & Suites North Conway. The hotel is great, extremely family friendly, and the staff are nice. There’s an amazing mini-water park  inside the hotel, bingo night, movie night complete with popcorn. Just a wonderful place.

Unfortunately, I needed to sneak in a quick Skype TV interview for work Monday morning and was hoping the hotel wifi would be strong enough. In running some speed tests the night before and I was frightened by the results. I’m not a big business traveler, but I’ve heard the hotel wifi can vary significantly and often performs rather poorly.

I’m barely getting 1MB download and upload speeds and about half that:

Hilton Hhonors Wifi Speed Test Results
Hilton Hhonors Wifi Speed Test Results

To be fair, I was testing the wifi at the worst possible time, 9pm on school vacation week. I believe the hotel is nearly full, it will be curious to see if there’s any improvement in the morning.

Fun Stuff Running Vacation

Reflecting, Looking Forward

My family is in the White Mountains on a ski trip this week and as usual I’ve packed the running gear just in case there’s an opportunity. Today I had the time and ran into downtown North Conway and decided to stop mid-run at Zebs General Store, which is a must for anyone who visits the area.  I grabbed a coffee sample at the front door and headed back to my run, I’ll head back with the family soon.

The last run of the year is always one of reflection and looking forward to the year ahead.

Running continues to be a growing passion for me, helping keep me focused through life’s journey. My goal for 2014 was to run a half marathon and I was thankful to accomplish this while fighting an injury.

My injury and the horrible weather made the Gansett Half a tough run. The process taught me the importance of slow, consistent improvements and to respect the run.

I just looked at my milage and discovered I came close to doubling my milage this year, logging 950 miles compared to 500 in 2013. I’m a bit surprised and thrilled to see progress.

My Wife Deborah made me a running cake for my 37th Birthday
My Wife Deborah made a running cake for my 37th Birthday

As always, there’s much room for improvment. I’m going to keep my 2015 running goals simple:

  • First thing is to focus on consistency and keeping myself injury free.
  • I want to run another Half Marathon, injury free this time.
  • I also want to begin contemplating a full marathon, which seems so difficult at this moment. I know that if I focus on the first two goals the marathon goal is absolutely possible.
  • Lastly, managing my diet better will help improve my run and for me the measurement of success will be having lower body weight than I do now.

These are all manageable running goals, but I also realize it’s easy to lose focus, get injured, and suffer setbacks. Thanks to the support of friends and family, I have confidence that another great year of running is ahead.

Running has been life changing for me. I’m grateful that I found a rewarding passion and that I have such a supportive family that gives me the time to chase my goals.

Wishing everyone a great 2015, whatever your goals might be slow steady progress wins the day every time.

Peace and God Bless

Camping Hiking New Hampshire Vacation

Franstead Camping 2013


Our two week camping trip to New Hampshire is underway.

Travel Vacation

Enjoying Fireworks at Niagara Falls

We’re on a last minute road trip to Chicago for a conference, my wife and I decided Niagara Falls would be a good place for an overnight stay along the way. There is no question this landmark is a tourist trap, something this hiking/camping family usually avoids on our regular vacations. That said, the Niagara Falls are majestic, an amazing gift of nature. One of those place you feel the need to see sometime in your life.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to get passports so we’re restricted to the New York/USA parks and attractions. There’s still plenty to do and some great views of the falls.

Last night we enjoy a fireworks display next to the falls.

Throughout the Summer season the Niagara Parks Commission (Ontario) puts on Fireworks near the falls. For 2012 the schedule was every Friday, Sunday & Holiday May 18 to September 2 at 10:00 p.m.

This is a partial video clip from the Friday, July 27th Fireworks display, taken from the Niagara Falls State Park (New York). This is a great location, the Fireworks are across the river and you have great views this perspective, along with views of Canada and Ontario city lights in the background.

Fun Stuff Hiking New Hampshire Photography Vacation

Ripley Falls 2011

Ripley Falls 2011 by mediaguy4

I’m starting to go through vacation photos and video from our trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

This photo of Ripley Falls is one of my first attempts at HDR photography and I’m somewhat happy with the result.

Click on the image to view a high resolution version on my Flickr page.

Ripley Falls is 100ft tall and one of the easier hikes in Crawford Notch.  A great adventure for a family with young children.  We brought our two boys, 5 and 2 1/2 and they did just fine on the trail.

Ripley Falls 2011, a photo by mediaguy4 on Flickr.

Hiking New Hampshire Vacation

Old Bridle Path to West Rattlesnake Mountain

June 24, 2011 – This was our second time on the Old Bridle Path trail leading up to the scenic ledges that overlook Squam Lake.  Scenic is sort of an understatement, ever since our first hike I’ve noticed that nearly every tourism brochure features stunning photos from this location.

Unfortunately the weather was not so great this time, although the scattered showers were mild and the mid-70 temperatures were comfortable.

The property is owned and managed by the University of New Hampshire’s Office of Woodlands and Natural Areas.  There’s a great PDF brochure with a trail map, and background information about the area on the NH Division of Forests and Lands website.

If you have kids, this is a great trail as long as you’re careful about slippery rocks and the steep ledges at the top.  Our two boys (2 and 5) made it all the way to the top on their own.  The trail itself is almost 5ft wide all the way, and VERY well maintained.  Lots of crushed stone to help with potential mud, and steps to deal with the steep areas.

I did cary the 2 year old back down in his backpack carrier, but that was expected.  We also discovered what appeared to be a bad bug bite on the younger boy’s face.  He had a reaction to whatever it was, with red spots, and red skin areas all over his body.  We called our doctor and stopped by a local pharmacy to pickup some over-the-counter medication to be safe.  The redness and spots seem to go subside over the next 10 hours.

Hopefully the weather breaks and we can go for some longer hikes.  I’ll add some photos to this post as soon as I get connected to a better internet connection.




Camping Hiking New Hampshire Reviews Vacation

Five Reasons To Stay at Fransted Family Campground

Fransted Family Campground
Fransted Family Campground has been our vacation destination for years.

April 2012 UPDATE: Since I wrote this blog post Fransted Family Campground has been sold and is now managed by the new owners.

If you’re looking for a campground in the Franconia Notch area of New Hampshire, you need to check out Fransted Family Campground.

There are many camping choices in New Hampshire and the experience can vary greatly.

For example, the state campgrounds offer a low cost, no frills value in prime locations.  Perfect for Deb and I when it was just the two of us.  That said, the reservation system can sometimes be a pain to deal with and alternatively the first come, first served sites often leave your vacation to chance.

There’s also all kinds of private campground alternatives.  One that sticks in my mind promotes themselves with this, “Come experience the difference of no alcohol, no pets and no radio.“…OH JOY!  While I can appreciate this concept, it’s not for us.

Then there are what I call resort style campgrounds, with pools, boats, beaches, mini-golf, arcades, ice cream shops, hayrides, and playgrounds all in an attempt to keep guests occupied from dawn to dusk.  Although not in New Hampshire, Point Sebago in Maine comes to mind as an example.  This is where I went camping as a kid, the place was awesome, but has since grown into an over the top RESORT, at least in my opinion.  It now has a “Nationally Acclaimed 18-Hole Championship Golf Course” , offers cabins, fist class entertainment…it’s a resort .

For us Fransted Family Campground offers a perfect blend of all the examples above.  The reservation system is easy, with a wide variety of sites from private tent sites to RV sites with all the services.  The campground allows dogs, responsible use of  alcohol is permitted, they have a nice playground, mini-golf, and a modest beach area.  There’s also a fair amount of activities to keep you busy, especially on holiday weekends, but they don’t aim to keep you busy ALL day.  We really like this, kids and families should be able to enjoy the area without spoon feed entertainment all day.

1. JACK & RITA (and don’t forget the family)
Without question, owners Jack and Rita are the number one reason Fransted is so special, and better than most campgrounds.  The couple is deeply engaged in the business and seem to always be looking for ways to improve the campground.  We’ve been going for more than seven years now and we still get escorted to our campsite upon arrival…it’s so funny.  But it’s one of those little things that makes you feel like the owners care about your stay.

Jack and Rita also maintain good control over the campground.  They are very friendly, but don’t hesitate to remind campers of quiet hours if they get too loud.  We think this is good, it’s a family campground and we enjoy the quiet and peaceful atmosphere.

Jack & Rita’s family are also a big part of the campground, many of them work on weekends and major holidays to help run the many of the activities.  It really is amazing how efficient the whole operation runs.

Let’s be honest, good CLEAN bathrooms are critical to an enjoyable camping experience, especially if you have children.  ALL the Fransted bathrooms are CLEAN, the cleanest I’ve ever seen in a campground!  They always have a fresh coat of paint, hot water, and free hot showers.  The staff checks and cleans the bathrooms all day long, it really is nice!

AH, THE WOOD CHIPS!  OK, so this one might sound a little strange but wood-chips are HUGE!  A few years back Jack had wood-chips placed on almost all the campsites, except for maybe some of the RV sites.  A very generous amount of wood-chips, and I think he adds more each year.  Imagine pitching your tent on a soft bed of wood-chips….no rocks and no packed down dirt that feels like asphalt.  HEAVEN!  At first I thought it would attract a lot of insects or start to decompose after a few years and smell, it just seemed like a strange idea.  Well, we’ve not experienced any of those issues, it was a great idea, and everyone seems to love it.  In fact, it’s such a good idea that I can’t see myself camping anywhere else, the thought of hard packed dirt is a turn off now.

The culture within Fransted Campground is extremely friendly, many of the campers are regulars, some have been going to Fransted for 10, 15, 20+ years.  We have met so many great people, heck some of the folks now attend our kids birthday parties and other social gatherings.  That’s awesome!

The White Mountain region of New Hampshire is a wonderful place, there are countless hiking trails, and nearby attractions to keep you busy.  Here are a few that we would recommend:

It’s true, I’ve become a fanboy of Family Fransted Campground, but for good reason.  We often complain about the products, businesses, and companies that do us wrong, but it’s not to often that we acknowledge those who provide superior service.

THANK YOU JACK & RITA for running such a great campground and for making our family vacations so enjoyable and memorable!