“Waysides” are the informational signs you often find near historic places, culturally-significant sites, monuments, memorials, nature/wildlife conservation areas and scenic spots. They tell an important story and preserve the history and culture of a destination for visitors as well as residents.
Sometimes, however, those useful waysides fade, become damaged by exposure to the elements, vandalized or even stolen—and may not be replaced due to lack of funding and other reasons. As part of his “Waysides Tour Project,” Saipan author and internet entrepreneur Walt F.J. Goodridge has created a free mobile phone app that seeks to preserve the information on over 200 waysides throughout Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
“There’ve been times I’ve taken guests to popular spots here on Saipan and Tinian,” Goodridge said, “and I’ll discover that a particular informational sign is no longer there. So I created this resource to effectively restore and preserve damaged or unreadable signs or those that have been (or may soon be) destroyed by typhoons.”
For example, the Taga House Interpretive Center with the story of King Taga was destroyed during Super Typhoon Yutu. However, using photos he’d taken over the years, Goodridge transcribed the full text, and has made it available in the app.
“It’s not just for tourists,” Goodridge adds. “Families here on island can download the free app, use it to go treasure hunting, and discover things about the islands they can be proud of and share with others (including lost tourists) in a fun, convenient way!”
The Saipan and Tinian apps are being launched in a beta test phase with a call for help for the Rota edition: “If you have any photos of signs on Rota and any island that no longer exist,” Goodridge said, “use the app to send me a message so I can include it.”
The apps are available for Android phones in the GooglePlay Store, and an iPhone version will be released (on the App Store) soon. Until then, iPhone users can bookmark a web version. The tours are also available in paperback format.
Combined, the three tour apps feature:
• Over 200 sites and points of interest on Saipan, Tinian and Rota
• Photos and text of existing, damaged and missing “waysides”
• Additional facts, figures and trivia
• GPS locations
• Hard-to-find bird and wildlife posters
• National Register of Historic Places sites
• Garapan Heritage Trail sites. (PR)