Tweeting, video chatting atop North America

On Road Trip 2009, CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman uses Inmarsat's BGAN mobile satellite modem to get online and conduct a video chat at 14,264 feet. Live-blogging falls victim to the elements.

CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman sits at the very top of Colorado's Mount Evans on Sunday, just a couple hundred feet above the highest paved road in North America. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

MOUNT EVANS, Colo.--It's the first day of summer, and I'm driving through a snowstorm.

I'm here, on the highest paved road in North America, and my fingers are numb from the cold. But I'm online, and I have to say, that's pretty cool.

This was supposed to be a live-blog, but circumstances got in the way. More on that later.

As part of Road Trip 2009, Terdiman is road-testing an Audi Q7 TDI, which has a so-called 'clean diesel' engine. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

I drove to just below the summit of 14,264-foot Mount Evans (see video below, with audio affected by heavy wind) on Sunday, the first official day of Road Trip 2009, my journey through the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains of the United States.

I got online via Inmarsat's BGAN mobile satellite modem, which, when pointed in the right direction, gets a pretty good signal. Good enough, in fact, that I was able to video chat with my wife and a friend. They said it was the "coolest thing ever." I don't know about that, but it is pretty sweet.

I tweeted from the top, as well, but I wasn't able to live-blog. It was quite cold, the wind was fierce, and I was sitting precariously on some rather uncomfortable rocks at the very top. I'd also hoped to take the Internet signal from the BGAN and share it via the MacBook Pro I'm using with the iPod Touch I've got with me. But for some reason, the Touch couldn't get online, even though it could see the signal coming from the Mac. I blame the rather extreme conditions.

Regardless of a few technical snafus, however, this was a pretty successful venture. As I perched atop North America, live-chatting with my wife and my friend, several people scrambled up to the top, saw me sitting there with my computer and the BGAN, and asked what I was doing. And that felt good.

But what felt even better was being able to pick up the computer while on the video link with my wife and moving it around so that she could see where I was. She can't be with me right now, but in this small way, I was able to bring her along.

And I'll do my best to bring you along as well. For the next several weeks, Geek Gestalt will be on Road Trip 2009. After driving more than 12,000 miles in the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, and the Southeast over the last three years, I'll be writing about and photographing the best in technology, science, military, nature, aviation, and more in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota. If you have a suggestion for someplace to visit, drop me a line. And in the meantime, join the Road Trip 2009 Facebook page and follow my Twitter feed.

Corrected at 3:55 p.m. PDT: This post was updated to correct the elevation of Mount Evans' summit. The correct height is 14,264 feet.

 

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