Google Street View Takes Us To New Heights On Everest, Kilimanjaro And More

We’re big fans of Google Street View here at Gadling and over the past few months we’ve enjoyed the addition of the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon River, amongst other destinations. Through the use of modern technology, Google has given us the opportunity to explore some very exciting places without ever having to leave the comfort of our own homes. Now, with its latest addition to the Street View Collection, the Internet search giant is taking us to new heights as they take their high-tech cameras to the slopes of some of the tallest mountains on the planet.

The latest Street View gallery is entitled “The World’s Highest Peaks” and it includes views on and around four of the Seven Summits, which consist of the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents. Those locations include Everest Base Camp in Nepal, as well as the summits of Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet) in Tanzania, Elbrus (18,510 feet) in Russia and Aconcagua (22,841 feet) in Argentina. The gallery also spotlights various other sections of each of those mountains, including some of the more well known mountaineering camps or other landmarks, such as the famous Lava Tour on Kilimanjaro.

Not all of the images in the new gallery are captured from such lofty heights, however. For instance, the Himalayan village of Namche Bazaar is given the Street View treatment, allowing us to take a virtual stroll along its narrow walkways. The Google cameras were even allowed inside the colorful Buddhist monastery in Tengboche, a popular attraction for those trekking to Everest.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to climb these peaks but the thought of the thin air makes you light headed, then this new gallery is just for you. Enjoy the heights of these iconic mountains without ever stepping foot on any of them.

[Photo Credit: Google]

New Spring Road Trip Options Save Money And Time

March 20 is the first day of spring and for those in the northern plains of the United States, the day just can’t get here fast enough. Battered by late winter storms, spring road trip thoughts were put on hold as attention was drawn to record snowfalls. Spring will eventually get here. When it does, plans for a road trip might be just to get out of town with the destination unknown or a direct route to a popular spring break destination. Since spring of last year, the world of road trip gear has seen some new, helpful additions. Let’s take a look.

Drive A New Car
If the family auto is not quite in its best shape and buying a new car is more of a dream than a reality, why not rent one?

Becoming increasingly popular for road trips is renting a car from any one of a number of car rental companies that offer discounted weekend rates. Starting at $9.99 per day, Enterprise offers a weekend special that includes an Economy or Compact car rented on Friday and ending the following Monday that includes 100 miles per day.

Hertz has a similar deal for $14.99 when the vehicle is picked up on Thursday and returned on Sunday with unlimited miles.

Google Field Trip
Location-based apps can be helpful in a number of ways. HipGeo, LiveTrekker and other GPS-fired renditions can almost automatically produce a travel journal, tagging our photos, video and more without a lot of work. At the end of a trip, just a little editing can produce an accurate depiction of where we go plus what we see and do.

Google Field Trip’s value is simple. Using that same location-based technology, it runs in the background on your android (initially) and iPhone (new) smartphone then directly taps Google’s rich content, automatically popping up a card with details about the location.

Nice for road trips, settings allow audible notification, speaking the name of places only or the title and description. Better yet, a choice of allowing audio all the time or selecting when “headset is connected,” “bluetooth headset or audio is connected” or “device is docked” are available as well as “disable when driving.”

Users can also select areas of interest like architecture, lifestyle, historic places and events, food and others.

All the GPS In One Place
Back to Hertz we go for something entirely different and not on the market last year. Their new NeverLost GPS option promises the best of mobile technologies and traditional GPS devices to help plan and navigate road trips.

Hertz told Gadling that their NeverLost system “eliminates the need (and risk) of juggling a cellphone to get directions and find destinations while driving, allowing users to manage their entire trip at the push of a button,” in an email. That claim looks to be true and NeverLost does include some unique features we look to see in other auto-based GPS in-dash systems.

A unique feature is being able to access the program on a phone or computer to remotely enter destination addresses, rather than sitting in the car to add them before hitting the road.

Synced with their My Explore App for iPhone and android, NeverLost has an itinerary planner, suggested sights and events in the area and even (you guessed it) a social element (“hey you in the pickup, got your ears on?”).

Check this video for more on how nicely this one might fit into your spring road trip plans:

[Image credits – Flickr user Black Photo Studio / Hertz]

The Potential Of Google Glass For Travelers

One of the more interesting products currently in development at Google is a high-tech, wearable gadget known as Google Glass. In a nutshell, when worn like a typical pair of glasses, the device suspends a small LCD screen in your peripheral vision. When paired with a smartphone via BlueTooth, Glass is capable of displaying a variety of information without the user ever taking the phone out of their purse or pocket. Until recently, just exactly what information Glass could display, and what it would look like, remained a bit of a mystery. But earlier this week, Google released a video showing off the gadgets capabilities, some of which will come in very handy for travelers.

In the video, which you’ll find after the jump, you’ll see Google Glass helping someone navigate through a city, which is of course something we can all appreciate when visiting a new destination. Imagine simply asking the device to help you find a cafe, museum or other point of interest and then have it not only show you results, but also give you turn-by-turn navigation with visual prompts right on its tiny screen. That’s something that would certainly come in handy when navigating the congested streets of Paris or Rome.

But navigation is just the tip of the iceberg. The video also shows a user asking for a language translation and then quickly being provided the word that he requested. I think we would all agree that translation would be extremely helpful when visiting many foreign locales. It is easy to see future versions of Glass also being able to listen to and automatically translate full conversations in real-time or even providing written translations of signs, menus and banners too.Google Glass will come with a built-in camera, allowing the users to take still photos or video from their travels by simple issuing a voice command. Those images and videos can then be shared with friends and family via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The device has the potential to become the GoPro camera for the non-action sport crowd too, capturing all kinds of POV experiences from our travels.

Being location-aware, future iterations of the device could potentially allow users to leave augmented-reality notes for one another providing clues and suggestions on where to eat or stay while in a certain area. Then, as the user moves through those locations, he or she would see those notes appear on their screen as they pass by. The notes could include Yelp reviews, money-saving tips, hours of operation and a host of other information.

Google Glass is only currently available to app developers and beta testers, but Google is expected to bring it to market next year. The pre-production models run $1500 but that is expected to drop substantially when the consumer version becomes available sometime in 2014. Of course, we’ll also need to have a compatible smartphone (count on Android and probably iOS support) and a good data connection to make it all work. But the potential is there for a great product that can benefit travelers in many ways.

Now if they can just find a way to make them a bit more stylish.

Google To Build Its Own Airport In California

If owning its own fleet of private jets wasn’t already enough, Google wants to go one better and build its own airport.

The Internet giant is just a step away from starting construction on an $82 million dollar facility in San Jose, which would include an executive terminal, facilities for aircraft maintenance and ramp space big enough for large business jets like the Boeing 737 and 767 (see artist rendition of the airport above).

Google is still waiting for city officials to sign off on the deal, which proposes building the airport on an old parking lot next to the existing Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Right now, Google keeps its fleet of planes at Moffett Federal Airfield, which is a military airport. San Jose Airport officials believe a new commercial airport would be better suited to house the company’s aircraft. It’s likely other private and corporate jets would be allowed to use the new facility as well.

Once Google gets the green light to start construction, it’ll probably be another two years before the 29-acre airport is up and running.

And, even if the rest of us won’t get to use the slick new facilities, they’ll still be a huge boon for the local economy, bringing in $2.6 million dollars in rent as well as creating hundreds of new jobs.

[Photo Credit: Mineta San Jose International Airport]

Cochon 555 Pork Competition Turns Five, Kicks Off February 17 In Atlanta

Much ado about pork products is made on Gadling, with good reason. Even if you’re sick to death of pork-centric eateries, and lardo this and sausage that, it’s hard to deny the allure of the other white meat (I can’t tell you how many vegetarians and vegans I know who still have a jones for bacon).

For those of you wanting to attend the ultimate porkapalooza, get your tickets for Cochon 555, a traveling, “National Culinary Competition & Tasting Event Dedicated to Heritage Pigs, Family Wineries & Sustainable Farming.”

The 10-city tour kicks off February 17 in Atlanta, and will include stops in New York; Boston; Chicago; Washington, DC; Miami; Vail; Seattle; San Francisco; and Los Angeles, before culminating in the dramatic Grand Cochon at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on June 16. Notice that Colorado gets two Cochon visits? The South isn’t the only place that appreciates pork.

Cochon was created by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe to raise awareness about, and encourage the sustainable farming of heritage-breed pigs. At each destination, five celebrated local chefs must prepare a nose-to-tail menu using one, 200-pound, family-raised heritage breed of pig. Twenty judges and 400 guests help decide the winning chef. The 10 finalists will then compete at the Grand Cochon for the ultimate title of “King or Queen of Porc.”

Depending upon venue, attendees can also expect tasty treats like Heritage BBQ; butchery demonstrations; mezcal, bourbon, whiskey and rye tastings; specialty cheese sampling, cocktail competitions; a Perfect Manhattan Bar, raffles, and killer after-parties.

For additional details and tickets, click here. Partial proceeds benefit charities and family farms nationwide.

[Photo credit: Flickr user out of ideas]