Long time no posts from this guy, so it’s time to give the final report on the tech we took, used, and purchased along the way, and how it all held up on the trip. As I previously mentioned in “Prepping the Victory Vehicle”, there were a few things that I did to the car to prepare it for our cross-country journey.
The sunglass holders worked as expected and were a nice convenience to have, but most of the time the sunglasses were with us. At times, I think Christa would have preferred to have the “Oh Shit” handle back so she would have something to hold on to while I was driving.
The arm rest gave a much-needed rest for the arms, but also was a nice additional storage area for small things on the trip. It also doubled as a foot rest for Allie in the back seat. It might have been more beneficial to her than to us, but I still enjoyed it being there.
The GripDaddy v2ARM iPad Headrest Mount worked awesome, when Allie used it. Something we didn’t really count on was Allie not really using it that much after a couple of days. She was content to just nap and listen to audio books from Audible. Something that started out as something for us to listen to the Veronica Mars book “The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line” while we drove, turned in to a treasure trove of goodness for her as we downloaded a bunch of Junie B. Jones audiobooks for her to listen to, and she loved them. So much so, that we still listen to them in the car while taking her to school in the morning. I think our favorite was the one where Junie has a pet day and decided to take a fish stick as her pet, and calls is “Fish Stick”. Good stuff there. And of course, playing these audiobooks, as well as my AMC Movie TalkPodcast using the Bluetooth in the stereo was a great experience and easy to set up. In fact, we ended up setting up my Nexus 5, Christa’s iPhone, and Christa’s iPod to use throughout the trip, all using Bluetooth.
The Garmin 1490T GPS (discontinued) worked flawlessly, as well as the 12v splitter to power all of the devices. The only thing that didn’t work up to my expectations was the Mountek nGroove Snap, but I blame this more on myself than on the device. I was using the built-in wireless-charging pad in the phone to attempt to maintain the magnetic connection to the holder while the phone was in the case, instead of placing one of the supplied metal disks in the case to make sure it stays. Because of this, the phone kept falling off the holder so I ended up placing it in the cup holder at times. They now make a Version 2 of the Mountek nGroove Snap which gets rid of the annoying yellow sticker along with rubberizing the blade itself.
The Disney Princess Window Shades also created a little bit of a problem while driving. The one on the driver side would create a blind spot for the driver when looking back. I worked around it, but Christa had to have that shade rolled up in order to drive. So you mileage may vary for this product.
The D-Link Network DIR-510L Wireless AC750 Portable Router was awesome. Whenever we checked in to a hotel, I would plug-in and connect this device, and then every device would automatically connect to the router since it had already been set up on the device. Instead of everybody having to set up their devices every night, they were done automatically. This had the additional plus of our only being charged once if the hotel wished to charge per connection. We also picked up a Philips Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker in Orange (SBT10ORG) to use to listen to music while we were in our hotel room and getting ready to leave for the night. I still use this speaker myself throughout the day to listen to podcasts while getting ready in the morning.
Along the way, I made the decision to purchase a wireless hot spot router and get service through Freedom Pop. Freedom Pop is a wireless cell provider that rides on the Sprint network. They not only provide cell phone service, but also a wireless hot spot as well. Unfortunately, I ordered router to be delivered while we were in route to Texas, but it took almost 2 weeks for it to get there, and by that time, we were gone already. With the way the cell phone service is across the nation, you never know when you might not be able to get a connection when you need one, as we found out as Christa’s T-Mobile just flat-out refused to get a connection almost anywhere expect for the more urban areas, while I had very little problem with my AT&T service. The small device with it free data is just the little emergency device to have with you on long trips. You never know when something might happen, and this tiny device could be just the thing to get you out of a jam. I’m glad I have it now, but I”m not sure how much I will actually use it in the future. One of these days I will have to put it to the test.
Also along the way, I purchased an Innova 3030f OBD2 Diagnostic Tool, which is a device to read and reset the error codes in a vehicle. I had developed a check engine light while leaving Texas, which disables the cruise control of the vehicle. After doing some research, it appeared that is was nothing more than a bad sensor, at the most. So I purchase the device, plug it into the cars diagnostic port, read the code, and confirmed it was a bad sensor reading. Everything I read on the code said it would be back shortly after if it was an actual bad code. I reset the code, and as of today, over a month later, the error still hasn’t returned. Is the device a must for a trip? Maybe not. But should it be a must for a household with vehicles? I say yes.
Another thing that we didn’t think to bring that we had to pick up was a thermometer! We had all the usual first aid items in the car for Allie, along with the items we would need for dealing with Allie in a small car for long trips (Excedrin), but Allie started not feeling well while on the trip, and we had to run out and get a thermometer to check up on her. Sure enough, she had a fever, and caused a slight detour in our planned travel, bypassing the Redwoods and heading towards a more direct route home, cutting some hours of travel off the trip.
And I can’t forget to mention Grease Monkey Wipes! If you missed my previous post about the Gummi Situation, these things did an amazing job of getting the melted bag of gummies that leaked all over my center console cleaned up. No mess. No left over sticky stuff. Just gone. Fantastic stuff and was able to clean it up in about 5 minutes!
Other tech we brought included a Blu-Ray/DVD Player along with HDMI cable to use at hotels when we were able to and a small surge protector. With all the electronics everybody had, you never know when you were going to need the surge protector, and it was pulled out almost every night. The Blu-Ray/DVD Player worked, for the most part. Some hotels didn’t have a HDMI input, but was most surprising to me was that one hotel actually blocks the input completely using another device. And attempting to disable the device resulted in the picture going in and out. That actually shocked me a bit, but we were tired, so we got over it quickly.
To get all of the tech in and out of the hotel, I actually had one small roll around suitcase (carry on size) that was dedicated to just the electronics, chargers, and cables. Grabbing that one bag ensured that everything made it inside that was needed for the electronics.
Favorite Tech Item: The Bluetooth enabled stereo in the car. This little thing did so much for us on the trip, allowing everybody to easily have their turn listening to what they wanted to.
Least Needed Item: The Mountek nGroove Snap. Just turned in to a non-use item for much of the trip.