Sunday, August 15, 2010

Biggest Travel Challenge - Charging

I've written about some of the challenges we've had. Vehicular mechanical issues seem to be settling down and kids are in the flow (if you call falling asleep at 11pm on a good night, flow). Perhaps the biggest challenge we face, which is different than my prior travel experiences, is the need for 'the charge.' When Nerds go on vacation the amount of electronic gear is somewhat frightening. Now, Jen and I do know how to disconnect; we are talking about two people who took their honeymoon in Alaska off the grid for four weeks, and traveled Europe with just the packs on our backs. But for this trip we went connected: a blessing and a curse. Sometimes-but not always- it's been much easier to find directions. It will be more, though we'll see if better, documented with five cameras including one automatic dash camera, one automatic Jack wheelchair camera, a couple of pocket cameras, the "good" camera and even a camera for Katie, three laptops (ok, we left the house with two, but Jen won a spare in NYC, two Android phones, and let's not forget that GPS - which I think only made it to day two before the woman's voice got her banished to a bag someplace.

I admit, that's a metric crapload of electronics and I didn't even count the iPod touch. Each and every one of these devices requires batteries to be charged. We've become traveling slaves to our chargers (would that be charges of our chargers?). The front dashboard of the RV looks like the wiring project of a server room set up by a hyperactive blind monkey. We've got at least two 12V splitters, two inverters (had to buy #2 when #1 was not enough to run a laptop), and so many chargers we have been storing them individually in zip lock bags. At one point early in the trip, before we got more organized I tried to get the charger for my cell phone which was berating me for not paying enough attention to it's electronic needs. I pulled at the end of the wire and proceeded to extract a mound of plugs and wires until I was holding up a flying spaghetti monster like tangled mass of copper and plastic.

I have faced this demon before, but something about road tripping made its mass that much more impenetrable. . we had a giant ball of wire, but the charger you needed had gone off to pout about being separated from the iPod touch charger, which is so much cooler than the stupid Dell adapter you threw him in with, which is soooo like 3 years ago, as if you are simply holding him back from the charger he could really be if you just let him hang with the cool kids. Somehow these bits of wire decided to attempt to permanently bond to each other - perhaps this is where new chargers come from. After fighting through the briar patch of wiring, inspiration struck that the simple zip lock bag could keep the masses from attempting to procreate on the floor of the moving vehicle.

My parents took my sisters and I across the country back in the eighties (ok, I done gone and went and dated myself). I don't think they spent any time debating how much battery life was left in the whosit or asking if we could turn on the generator just for a bit, so the whatisit could get up above zero battery bars. Not that it was easier back then, they had to look at these things we called maps and on rare occasions ask for directions from complete strangers (which as a male of the species causes ample consternation). I am a big believer in the law of unintended consequences. All of these devices to make our lives simpler, just add complexity. Now before you call me out and tell me to just turn the darn things off, well I agree, but with blogs to update, photos to take, weather to check and directions to receive, we've come to accept that these battery powered leeches are our albatrosses of travel (and "normal" life for that matter). So you'll excuse me, I see my battery level is down to one, I must find a charger. Also the camera next to me needs to have the batteries replaced and I've got to swap plugs in this room so Jen's phone has juice for the morning.

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