Ha! Finally solved the mystery of the tubu that are red

So, from time to time I check out my website analytics, just to see what is drawing people to the site.

By and large most of my visits to picsfromtrips.com (generally over 70%) come from search engines – people searching for images of such-and-such and google doing a decent job of pointing them to my site.

For months I’ve gotten visitors searching for red tubus.  I rank well there because of the red lechwe I saw while staying at Tubu Tree lodge in Botswana.

What I couldn’t figure out though, was what a red tubu was. I had visions of some rare species of animal – or perhaps a variation of the (tree? person (Tubu’s tree)?) that gave Tubu Tree camp its name.  Wikipedia cleared that up – Tubu village in Botswana’s Okavango delta has apparently lent its name to the safari camp.  But that didn’t answer my question.

Well, I finally figured it out.  It’s a misspelling.  People are looking for a particular kind of image site – not at all the kind of images I have on picsfromtrips.  It’s a bit of a play on youtube, substituting red for you.  I’d link, but I’m not running that kind of site.

someplace new, someplace old

Inevitably, one of the questions that comes up while planning for or thinking about a trip is whether to go someplace new or to revisit an old favorite.

I love the idea of exploring someplace new, after all that’s a big part of what I enjoy about traveling.

But I also love returning to someplace familiar – reminiscing through old trips and seeing what’s the same or what has changed.

So in thinking about where my next possible destination will be, it got me to thinking about places I’ve been and specifically, where I’ve traveled the most.

Right off the bat, New York would probably be the city I’ve visited the most (and never lived in) but that doesn’t count, or, it doesn’t feel like it should.  Part of the reason it’s at the top is I grew up 15 miles from the city.  It’s basically home.  Yosemite  doesn’t count either – too close to home, though less than New York, it still feels like home.

Thailand was a great destination both times I’ve gone, as was Japan.  Both places I would return to in a heartbeat.

I’ve been to Germany 4 times, though to different cities.  I was in Berlin 3 of those 4 trips.  I’ve been to Paris 3 times, London 3 times.  Somehow though they seem a lot more familiar than that.

I’ve gone to Hilton Head Island several times, mostly on family trips but also on a memorable college trip – so that’s probably 6 times I’ve been there.  I think that’s probably the most.

I’m surprised that Germany is the place I’ve been to most outside of the US.  I did figure someplace in Europe – I’ve taken a couple of longer trips there (in ’93 and ’01) as well as a couple of trips in college and a couple of shorter trips – but I hadn’t really thought through that Germany would be at the top of the list.

And I’m surprised about Hilton Head.  I guess you could argue that might not be the most visited place – I’ve been to the Jersey Shore more than that, Yosemite more than that.. perhaps even Joshua Tree more than 6 times.

Maybe Joshua Tree counts?  That’s far enough away from ‘home’ (it certainly is different from San Francisco).

For the next trip?  I think it will be someplace new.  There’s more than a few of those out there still.

What kind of camera should I get?

I get asked this question quite a bit.  I like photography and I’m a bit of a gear head, so I understand why.  I definitely prefer it to other questions that I’ve complained about in the past.

When I think about cameras, and what’s the ‘right’ camera, this is the way I look at it.  Ultimately, it comes down to who is going to be using the camera and what they’re going to use it for.

For most users, the best camera is a small point-and-shoot style camera and I happen to be a fan of the Canon PowerShot line.  A quick look on B&H Photo shows this model, a Canon SD1200 – a 10 megapixel camera with image stabilization, a nice zoom range, of course it shoots videos and all of the other whiz-bang features you’d expect – and it all fits easily in a pocket (we’re talking shirt pocket here) all for less than $230.  This is a camera that most people will be able to carry with them everywhere (which is the most important thing you need in ANY camera) and it will take really great shots.

A few years ago I stopped carrying my compact point-and-shoot camera for a slightly larger ‘rangefinder’ size point-and-shoot, also from Canon – the Canon G10.  This allows me a lot more control over the image capture process for only a slightly larger frame.  This one doesn’t do shirt pockets (or even pants pockets really) but it will do a jacket pocket or cargo-pants pocket just fine.

Slightly larger, is a class of camera that I really like for people who want a ‘better camera’ (read: they think they want an SLR) but are really just looking for (without knowing it) a larger image sensor and larger lens.  They don’t want any of the manual controls or exchangeable lenses of an SLR.  A great camera in this class is (staying with the Canon name, for no particular reason) the Canon SX 10 IS.  For our trip to Africa, I bought Meghan a camera from this class (a Panasonic) and she took some great photos – which she wouldn’t have gotten with an awkward SLR, or with her point-and-shoot.

Finally, there’s the 4th class of camera, the SLR.  This is what most people think of when they want a ‘good camera’ but I really don’t think it’s a great match for most users.  It’s the SUV of the camera world – the big honker that everyone thinks they want but nobody uses it for what it was designed.  If you’re just going to get a single cheap lens and use that all the time, you’re just as well off getting a nice camera like the Canon SX 10 IS or equivalent.

Now, I realize that there are more than just these 4 categories (there are ultra-compacts and mini-SLRs (a form-factor I’m intrigued by)  but for the most part those are fringes that won’t suit most people.

Finally, for anyone looking for a camera, two sites that I think do a nice job of providing reviews:  Imaging Resource and DP (Digital Photography) Review.  Imaging Resource has, for a long time, offered Dave’s Picks which just makes simple, straight-forward recommendations based on different categories (by camera type, by user type, etc.,).  Looking now, I see they also have a fancy My Product Advisor application that I can’t vouch for.

DP Review offers really thorough reviews of cameras and their features and limitations.  It’s probably way more info than most people need though – so I would recommend just navigating to the ‘conclusion’ page where they write up a nice summary of their findings.

website analytics

I look from time-to-time at the statistics of my sites, always a little curious about who is making it here and why.

I used to have a higher score from Google, but a massive re-design a few years back (when I started using PicsFromTrips) destroyed my ranking and neither site has built up much reputation since.


That said, I do get a fair amount of traffic to PicsFromTrips, which makes sense as it’s a fairly keyword rich site with LOTS of images. I enjoy when I see that someone has found my site through a keyword search on Google and that they’ve stayed to check out related photos.  From time to time I’ve even been contacted by people traveling to the same destination asking questions about this or that.

What amazes me though is when I see abnormal spikes in my keyword traffic – like I did recently, due to, of all things, Semana Santa in Spain.  In 2001 I was fortunate enough to be in Spain for the festivities and I took a few (not particularly great) photos of some of the events.  For whatever reason, Google has opted to place me at the top of the search results for the phrase “procession madrid.”   I’m not sure why.  I don’t rank on Semana Santa Madrid or Semana Santa Procession even though the page is titled Semana Santa Procession Madrid.  I suppose “Procession Madrid” is a more generic term with less people targeting that term.

My amazement comes from the fact that I can rank so high against some terms and so low against others – I know that the logic behind search engine ranking is a dark art but still I can’t help but wonder.

In addition, I find that while I see spikes in individual terms, overall the traffic never spikes that far – so while I get a lot of visits from these temporary keywords, I can only summise that I’m giving up traffic on some of the lesser trafficed keywords, keeping the overall traffic pattern pretty stable.  Which doesn’t seem right to me.  Shouldn’t I experience larger overall traffic accompanying these keyword spikes?  It seems like Google has deemed my site worthy of sending some stable amount of traffic, and when that’s overly sampled with certain keywords I get less from others.  I don’t really think that’s true.. but could it be possible?

where to next?

South American Community of Nations member states.
Image via Wikipedia

I’m always thinking about traveling and where I’ll be heading off to next.  I’ll often talk about my ‘list’ but the reality is, I’m always ready to head off anywhere, and I rarely follow any kind of order.  For the past few years, South America has been on the ‘top’ of my list and I’ve yet to get there.

So Meghan and I are thinking about where we will head to next, and inevitably, we’re having trouble deciding.  South America is still on the top of the list, but we’re trying to decide when we will be able to go somewhere, and where would be a good place to go, based on the time of the year.

If we go earlier, like in the summer, then perhaps Ireland or Alaska, if we go in the fall or spring, then perhaps South America will happen.

Then again, if we head out in winter, maybe we should go back to S.E. Asia?

But, this year I think it’s possible we won’t go anywhere internationally and we might not take any big trips.

We’ve got a busy summer ahead of us and both of us want to make a couple of trips back East, so perhaps we’ll start planning for next year.

Hmm.. maybe India?

What kind of camera do you have?

“That’s a cool photo.  What kind of camera do you have?”

This question drives me nuts.  Mind you, I like that someone’s admired a photo I’ve taken.  I don’t want to seem ungrateful.  But then again, what exactly should I be grateful for – Someone who’s implied that the photo was the result of a camera and not the person wielding it?

I am perfectly willing to admit that the cameras I’ve used over the years have each improved the technical capabilities of capturing an image; and that a significant part of any image I’ve captured has been due to the abilities of the camera at the time.

But I still like to humor myself with the idea that I’ve got something to do with the process.  And so that even if one did have the same camera as I, they still might not walk away with the same shot.

Maybe I’m just too sensitive.