Gadgets Off The Grid
A Wandering We Will Go
It's the dead of winter when my riding buddy Paul and I make the dream of beautiful summer riding in South West Montana come true. Forest Service cabins become available to rent on ReserveAmerica.com six months ahead of time, and by late February we've got a route planned from one cabin to the next for our week long summer ride. Come midnight each night exactly one half year in advance of the riding date, we've got our fingers hovering above the "reserve" button ready to snap up each cabin in order to string together the adventure. Contingency plans are made in advance should someone sneak in and snatch a cabin from our grasp, but by the beginning of March our ride and route are secure.
Dirt roads are preferred, but back country Montana pavement will often deliver a spectacular bimble through Big Sky Country. This year's route was roughly 50/50 totaling about 900 miles for me, and a thousand for Paul who left a day earlier than I.
A Little Music....Please!
Paul and I aren't afraid of a little peace and quite. Sundown in the mountains brings bird calls and coyote yelping often, and a crackling fire with distant thunder is way better than a TV. But shuffling around the fire ring reducing logs to coals for dinner, or late night whiskey drinking and cigar smoking while playing cribbage by candle light sure does benefit from some tunes. Problem is, it's damned hard to keep electronics charged for ten days out in the middle of nowhere.
When I stumbled into the EnerPlex booth at T.H.E. Show Newport earlier this year where they were showing off their Kickr IV Portable Solar Panel and Jumpr storage battery and device charger I knew a solution to juicing up devices off-the-grid was at hand. After talking to the representative about my upcoming motorcycle trip and the need to charge portable devices we agreed it would make a fine review opportunity, cards were exchanged, and samples were promised. Now to sort out the rest of the gear.
My Samsung Galaxy S3 would be the phone for the trip, and for music I have an Astell&Kern AK120 that has Bluetooth capabilities and is loaded with tracks, so all I needed to do was find a good Bluetooth rechargeable portable speaker. After my visit to Harmon in June, I had them send me a Flip portable speaker, which sounded quite good for $99 but unfortunately it needed a higher voltage and different connectors than was available on the Kickr and Jumpr so I wouldn't be able to use it. A little internet searching turned up a very cool looking new product, the Ultimate Ears Boom. A few emails were exchanged with the UE PR folks and one was on the way. My moto-camping music system was complete but there was little time for testing. I hope it all plays well together.
...it didn't go so well in one case, we'll get to that. Flip the page for the whole story.
Vacation Photo Interlude