Don’t miss a historical marker with these apps

by Chris Guld, GeeksOnTour.com

We spent some time in the Portland area a while back and one day we took a delightful walk on the Washington side of the Columbia River. The city of Vancouver maintains a wonderful paved path for a couple of miles along the river’s edge and we were out for some exercise.  Along the way, we were intrigued by a statue of beautiful woman. We assumed this statue represented Sacagawea, but, as we admired it, the smartphone in my pocket rang a special alert letting me know that the Field Trip App had some information for me. Aha! It was an informational card on this statue.

My Photo Stream2

We were wrong – this wasn’t Sacagawea at all.  The card that popped up on my screen informed us that this was the Ilchee Moon Girl, daughter of Chinook Chief Comcomley and, later, wife of Chief Casinos, a leader in the Vancouver area. According to the card, the Ilchee Moon Girl had the power of a Shaman and she paddled her own canoe, the sign of a chief. Cool!

Read Historical Markers while you Drive

Both Jim and I love history and we would love to stop every time we see a road sign that says, “Historical Marker Ahead,” but we find that is near impossible when you’re traveling in a motorhome towing a car. I have the Historical Marker Database app on our smartphones, but I’ve learned that all of that information is now incorporated in the Field Trip app.  Now, whenever I see the sign “Historical Marker Ahead,” I will also hear that special ring on my phone. I pick up my phone and look at the notifications to see the Field Trip icon. With one tap of my finger, I am able to read the complete text of the roadside marker and Jim doesn’t even have to take the rig out of cruise control. If you are traveling solo, you can set the app to read it to you. If your rig has a radio with Bluetooth capability, you can hear it thru your radio’s speakers.

Field Trip is a Free App by Google for Android and iPhone

Field Trip app for historical markersAndroid: You can download Field Trip on an Android device with the Play Store. Just open Play Store and use the Search feature (the magnifying glass icon). Type in Field Trip and tap Search or Enter. You should see a binoculars icon and see the Field Trip title and the developer may be listed as nianticlabs@google, or just Google. It’s free, so all you have to do is tap the install button.

iPhone: On an iPhone, open the App Store and use the search (magnifying glass icon) feature. Type in Field Trip and tap Search or Enter. You should see the binoculars icon and a Free button. Tap the free button and it will convert to “Install.” Tap install.  You will need to know your AppleID password to continue.

iPad: This app is designed for the iPhone. It will run on the iPad, but you won’t see it listed with iPad apps, you need to select the option to show iPhone apps. Then you can search for it and install. If you can’t find it, then use your browser to go to the FieldTripper.com website. There you will see a button for “Available on the App Store.” Tap that and you will be directed to the install option.

Options: Once you have it installed, take a minute to peruse the different options. You have your choice of viewing Field Trip by a Map, Nearby points of interest, Recent points of interest, or Favorite points of interest. Each point is represented by a card. Tapping on the card icon in the menu bar shows you all the different sources of the various cards and you can choose to see less or more from each source. The explorer’s hat icon lets you select how often you want notifications of nearby cards, and the gear icon lets you select options like when to read the cards to you and how to notify you of nearby cards. You can turn off notifications altogether if you don’t want it to be sounding alerts when you’re not on vacation. However, I left it on and even learned some things about my own hometown! If battery life is an issue for you, you may want to leave this off more often than not.

Using the Map view, you can browse a destination other than your current location. Just zoom in on a location until you see the little colored card markers telling you that there is something of interest there. Tap the marker and read the card.  It’s a virtual tour guide in your pocket.


Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly online show called What Does This Button Do?  They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to RVTravel.com, for many years.

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6 Thoughts to “Don’t miss a historical marker with these apps”

  1. Phyllis Avella

    I liked your article and the information about the app, however I read the recent reviews and they were not very positive. I too like the historical markers. In Texas most of them have numbers and I can look them up online. Thanks for all your tips.

  2. Hello Bill, there are so many options for Internet connections!! Most Canadians I talk to these days are purchasing inexpensive US cellphones with prepaid data plans. Walmart carries Straight Talk which is based on Verizon towers (Verizon has best overall coverage in US) I even tried a $59 phone and it worked fine. We even did one of our shows on it: https://geeksontour.com/2017/10/127-how-about-a-59-smartphone/login

    1. Bill

      Thanks Chris for the info. Cheers, Bill.

  3. Ed

    Great, I would like apps for my Windows Tablet, I refuse to look at my phone while driving and they are Windows 10 phones to boot. Wife is comfortable with the tablet so any windows apps reviews would be great, though not expecting much.

    1. I’m afraid there are not many Apps for Windows mobile devices. Many apps have corresponding websites – so you could look at those. For example, the historical marker database (https://www.hmdb.org/) mentioned in this article. If you want a larger screen, I would recommend a Chromebook that will run Android apps.

  4. Bill T.

    Hi Chris, thanks for all the great information. We are from Canada and would like to know how we can get US cell and data plans that will provide a good amount of data usage and not cost us an arm and a leg. Canadian cell prices are terribly expensive and I think a lot of data would get used driving with google maps and other apps opened. Thanks for any help with this.

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