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Posts Tagged ‘travel gadgets’

solar ‘streaming – new airstream solar panel

Confession: I don’t understand energy. At all. I know that after two miles on the treadmill I’ve only burned the caloric equivalent of one damn cookie, but apart from that, I got nothing.

What’s a watt? What’s a volt? What does “at peak the inverter will pull 170 amps” mean? These and other concepts were no doubt covered during a science class I was absent from, or during shop, which was once For Boys Only.

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iball hitch camera

The iBall Hitch Cam went directly onto my Christmas wish list after Teresa Taylor’s sister demonstrated its virtues at the Pendleton Round Up rally.

It requires a 9V battery, not included, nor is a manual—everything you need to know about its operation is described by a three-step diagram on the packaging card. (By the way, will someone please invent a device to pop open the industrial strength plastic casing that’s fused around everything these days. You need the jaws of life just to open the iBall package.)

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foldable favorite: portable invisible fence

I was outside at a Utah Starbucks when a man arrived with his two chocolate labs. He left them unleashed near a table, and without a word, went inside to fetch his latte. The dogs watched him disappear, then sat politely to wait for his return. “That,” I said to my friend, “is the difference between a lab and a dachshund.” Ralston would lie down to wait. Ripley and Raven would cry, “Yay, she’s gone! Let’s play in traffic!” and I’d never see them again.

Thus the need for Invisible Fence at home and a new camping must-have: “The Rock” portable electronic fence system. It works like a charm and the concept is fiendishly simple.

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the rally

Airstream is but a tiny, shiny star in the RV universe—most are SOBs (Some Other Brand). ‘Streamers I recently polled guesstimate that Airstreams comprise only one to three percent of the market, both new and old.

As it was held in my backyard (Redmond, only thirty minutes from Bend), I dropped in on “The Rally” (sans DWR…no aluminum allowed*), the premier annual RV gathering, to see how the other (more than) half lives.

It looked kinda fun, if you have a White Box.

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champoeg

Laura and Kevin, the Oregon couple I interviewed for Airstream Life (“The Technomads”, Winter, 2010), own a stomp-gorgeous 2010 27′ International. I dropped by to spend a splendid morning where they were glamped at Champoeg State Park only thirty miles from Portland, where the couple enjoys taking their writing work while they take in the view. (Sometimes they tow over to the coast, for a different scene from their picture window.)

Both hightech creatives, they’ve upgunned their rig with sleek silver and chocolate upholstery, and the tastiest of household conveniences (down to the ingenious key holder by the door, magnetic spice jars, and wine rack under the bed).

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road twip

The language of Twitter is humiliating. “Tweet me”; “I tweeted”; “Guess what, Tweeple?” (It’s for a similar reason that I don’t patronize Burger King. I can’t tell another person that I need a “whopper”.) Despite this, I love and depend on Twitter, and mercifully, most users have grown tired of thinking up new words that begin with “tw”.

I get it that a vast population considers Twitter to be pointless, narcissistic and time-consuming (the latter it indeed is). Opting out is a viable choice. Sometimes even regular tweeters (see? how idiotic is that) have difficulty conceptualizing its practical benefits. But if you travel, Twitter is an invaluable tool.

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foldable favorite: kestrel weather station

With his Kestrel 3500 Portable Weather Station, Ralph can gauge temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, current and average wind speed, maximum wind gust, heat stress index, altitude, dewpoint, wind chill, time of day and something called “wet bulb temperature” wherever we camp.

Why does he need these readings? “It’s fun.”

When he pulls the weather gear from his fetish bag and observes my eyeroll, Ralph reminds me that I created this monster three years ago when I purchased a home weather station for him from Costco.

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foldable favorite: brunton solar panel

“We’re off the grid honey!”

Ralph’s expensive, portable, foldable solar panel charges all the small devices that we now find essential: MacBook, cell phone, weather station and satellite services like X-M radio.

Not like we ever do, but theoretically with this device the DWR can venture beyond hookup sites without a lapse in service from the electronics we need to call our lives fulfilling. It even charges the full size Airstream battery in 12 to 24 hours.

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foldable favorite: leatherman micra

“Leatherman is cool, first of all, because they’re made in Portland down by the airport,” said Ralph when asked to discuss his mini Leatherman.

“It’s a good summer pocket tool. Uh…” he tried to explain, at a loss for words to describe why he wears it permanently attached by a lanyard on his belt and went into a panic disorder when he misplaced it for a day. “What I like is that it’s got a big scissors. And it’s smaller than a Swiss Army knife.”

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