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Tag: map

Following Steinbeck’s trail: Travels with Ace

From the waterfront Long Island house where John Steinbeck wrote “Travels With Charley,” and in whose yard Charley is buried, Ace and I shoved off for the second phase of our six month trip today– 50 years to the day after Steinbeck began his cross country journey with his soon to become famous poodle.

We pulled out of Steinbeck’s driveway in Sag Harbor, down his gravel road and caught the South Ferry to Shelter Island, the North Ferry to Greenport, then a bigger ferry from Orient Point, across the sound to New London, Connecticut.

For the next three months — the same amount of time he traveled — we will follow, more or less, in Steinbeck’s half-century-old tire tracks, going some of the places he went, seeing some of the sights he saw and taking note of the differences between that America and this one, in terms of its people, its landscape and its dogs.

Some of what we expect to be the highlights ahead: traveling to the remote, northernmost point of Maine; visiting Niagara Falls, crossing Montana, a state that enthralled the famous author, and this less famous one as well.

But we’ll be departing from his route frequently — because our trip, as it has been for the past four months, is more an homage to dogs than one to Steinbeck, even though he does happen to be one of my favorite authors. Our trip will be our trip, and while he inspired it, and some of our future stops, Steinbeck would have been the first to tell you no two trips can be alike. They have lives of their own, and are only partly under our control.

So instead of following the route from Connecticut that he took to visit his son in college in Massachussetts, we’ll veer east and check out Provincetown, named the dog-friendliest town in America this year by Dog Fancy magazine. During our time in New Hampshire, we’ll visit the new home of the Rolling Dog Ranch animal sanctuary and see how their relocation from Montana is going.

Like Steinbeck, we’ll continue to stop and talk to strangers — something I, like him, have found is far easier to do with a dog at your side.

Ace and I arrived in New York yesterday, avoiding the Big Apple, but experiencing plenty of traffic all the same as we cut through Staten Island, Brooklyn and stopped in North Merrick to meet the man who’s providing our directions.

Terry Ballard, a Steinbeck fan and systems librarian at New York Law School brought Steinbeck’s trip to life on the Internet by putting together a Google map of it all. That labor of love was primarily a practice run for his map of all of the significant places in Mark Twain’s life.

Terry took me to an Irish pub while his wife, Donna, and dog, Yuji, a Lhasa Apso, stayed home and babysat Ace, forcing me to take back those semi-in-jest things I said yesterday about New Yorkers. (You can find a photo Terry took of us on his Flickr page.)

Even with the Ballard’s graciousness though, Long Island struck me as not very dog friendly, or wallet-friendly.

Finding no motels for much under $100, Ace and I just kept driving east, hoping to stumble across a small and dumpy place that might take us in. I  stopped at two and was told no pets were allowed. At a third, I walked into the empty lobby and saw a sign saying “No Pets,” turned around and walked back to my car. As I pulled out a woman came running up. “Why you leave?” she asked. “I have a dog,” I answered. “Oh,” she said, “we no allow dogs.” “I know,” I said, “that’s why I’m leaving.”

Once we hit the Hamptons, I stopped trying, figuring all chances for affordable lodging were lost. Eventually, after passing our fourth Sleepy’s, a mattress store chain, we turned around pulled in behind the store and went to sleep — Ace immediately, me after much rearranging of my torso and limbs, which were limited to the space in the driver’s seat and atop the pile of luggage in the passenger seat.

I was worried we would get rousted by police — we were in the Hamptons after all — but we spent the night undisturbed, except for when we heard a honking train bearing down on us. I didn’t realize that, just on the other side of the shrubs I parked next to, were train tracks. After the first one, though, we got used to it, and amid a gentle rain, soft breeze and distant lightning flashes in the sky, I eventually dozed off.

At 6 a.m., we were awake, and we drove another half hour to Sag Harbor — a lovely but not too dog friendly town. Despite being home to one of America’s most famous dogs, and Charley’s final resting place, almost everywhere we went we saw signs — in parks, shops and restaurants — stating, in no uncertain terms, that dogs weren’t welcome.

Sag Harbor could do a lot more when it comes to dog-friendliness, a lot more when it comes to honoring Steinbeck as well.

His house is still owned by the family, and empty except for a caretaker. With no one home, we took the liberty of doing a tiny bit of trespassing before heading to the first of three ferries.

Ace stayed in the car for the first two rides, but on the bigger boat, crossing the sound, I let him out and we wandered the deck.

As usual, he drew some stares, made some friends and took the whole thing in stride.

It wasn’t his first time on a boat, just his first time on one that moves.

We spent most of our time aboard the Cross Sound Ferry talking with a fellow journalist with a funny last name who was following Steinbeck’s path as well — but without a dog. We’ll tell you more about him tomorrow.

AT&T unveils collar that will track your dog

peterclarkcollage1

 
A dog collar that will allow pet owners to map their pets’ location on their computer or other wireless devices will soon be hitting the market, Apisphere, Inc.  and AT&T announced.

“The dog collar, with an embedded wireless SIM, will leverage Apisphere’s award winning geo-mobility platform to transmit location-aware data across AT&T’s nationwide wireless network directly to a pet owner’s wireless handset or personal computer,” according to an AT&T press release

In other words, what the communications company is saying, I think, is that the new gizmo will tell you where your dog is.

Apisphere is a provider of “location-smart technologies” for mobile applications and devices.

Pet owners who use the technology will be instructed to register their pets and important contacts as soon as they attach the collar. Owners may establish a “geo-fence” around the home where the pet can roam freely. Through the technology, owners can locate their dog if he strays outside of his established parameters.

Apisphere software will transmit street level data for easy pet location. Owners will have the option to program text, email, video or audio alerts, to be distributed as often as they like.

“There are few things as important to my daughter as knowing the whereabouts of our dog,” said Glenn Lurie, president, AT&T Emerging Devices, Resale and Partnerships. “The peace of mind that a wirelessly connected collar will bring my family and pet owners across the country is long overdue. We’re extremely excited about this product and its possibilities.”

Pricing, distribution, and design details of the collar will be made available at launch, expected later this year.

(Art: From Peterclarkcollage.com)

The five best states to be an animal abuser

aldfmap

 
Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota are the five best states in the country to be an animal abuser — making them the five worst states in which to be an animal.

Based on an analysis of more than 3,800 pages of statutes, a new report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund recognizes the states where animal law has real teeth, and calls out those like Kentucky – the single worst in the nation again this year for animal protection laws – where animal abusers get off the easiest.

The annual report, the only one of its kind in the nation, ranks all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories for the comprehensiveness and  strength of their animal protection laws. Maryland falls in the bottom 15 states.

The legislative weaknesses seen in the states at the bottom of the animal protection barrel include severely restricted or absent felony animal cruelty provisions, inadequate animal fighting provisions, and lack of restrictions on the future ownership of animals for those convicted of cruelty to animals.

Many state laws have improved since ALDF’s last state rankings report was released in 2008; Arkansas, for example, was one of the worst five states last year, but jumped up to 25th overall in the country in 2009 due to a host of statutory improvements.

On the other end of the spectrum, this year’s “best five for animals” list remains unchanged from the 2008 list, with California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Oregon demonstrating through their laws the strongest commitment to combating animal cruelty; Illinois was ranked the best for the strength of its laws protecting animals.

“This year we see many states and territories that are continuing to make outstanding progress with their laws. Unfortunately, there are still many places where the laws are incapable of providing the legal protections that our country’s animals need and deserve,” says Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund’s director of legislative affairs and author of the report.

“Even in those jurisdictions that have today’s best laws, there remain many opportunities for improvement. Especially important during our country’s current recession are laws that help to save limited community resources by reducing the costs of caring for abused animals and ensuring that those who are responsible for such crimes shoulder this burden instead of taxpayers and private interests. While animals do not vote, those who love and care about them certainly do, so we encourage lawmakers throughout the country to take heed and commit to working to improve these critical laws.”

ALDF was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, including a copy of the state rankings report, visit www.aldf.org.

Let your fingers do the dogwalking

eukanuba-iphoneFinally, a good reason to get an iPhone.

Eukanuba is offering an iPhone application that gives dog owners the location of the nearest dog parks. By simply tapping the “Locate Me” feature, users can get information about the five nearest dog parks — complete with map and driving directions.

The application will work on all iPhone and iPod Touch models, according to a company press release.

The Eukanuba OFF LEASH iPhone application can be downloaded for free at www.Eukanuba.com.  Users are encouraged to share their favorite dog parks so that they can be added to the evolving park database. 

Users of the application can also access Eukanuba TV 24-hours a day and see original dog-related content, including “Planet Puppy,” “Champions and Heroes,” “Eukanuba Legacy” and more.