Homer's Travels: Toy Buying Spree

Monday, May 25, 2015

Toy Buying Spree

I went on a little toy buying spree the last couple of weeks.  Nearly all the items have been camping and/or cycling related.  I have to say that every time I clicked the buy button I felt a little rush ... shopping can sometimes do that to me.

The most expensive item I bought was a Garmin Oregon 600t GPS.  This is a replacement for my Oregon 400t that has been by my side since 2010.  My 400t has traveled all around the world and on my first Camino but, while quite rugged, I finally dropped it one too many times.  After the last drop the elevation reading have been completely haywire.  My new 600t has a few more bells and whistles and will be a worthy successor I think.  It's already gone on a few bike rides and it will record my progress on RAGBRAI, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), and the Appalachian Trail (AT) among other places.

The next item was a RAVPower 16000mAh External Battery Pack for charging my tablet.  I'm still debating if I should take my tablet with me on my hikes.  I have taken it with me on my overnight camps - mainly for reading material.  On my longer hikes its main functions would be for note taking, blog post drafting, photo editing, and internet/email access when I'm ion town.  A regular notebook and pen would be sufficient (and much lighter than the tablet and battery pack) for the first two functions but would not allow me to edit photos or access the internet.  I intend to take it with me on RAGBRAI, RMNP, and most likely the AT.  The external battery pack will give me about three full charges which should be plenty for the five to seven days I expect to be without electricity.

Next on my list was a replacement for my Petzl Tikka XP headlamp.  The Wife gave me this for Christmas many moons ago ... a couple years before my first Camino I think.  I'd picked it out and it's a good headlamp but there are a couple limitations.  It doesn't have a red light setting, it is hard to switch modes (dim, bright, flashing), and it weighs 3.28 oz (93 gm).  The replacement, the Petzl e+LITE has a red light mode, is easy to select the modes, and weighs in at 0.95 oz (27 gm).  The e+Lite has a retractable head band (more a head string) and runs on lithium button batteries.  It is not as bright as my Tikka XP but I don't like hiking in the dark anyway and it should be perfect for around camp.

For the past seven camps I've used mini-lighters to light campfires.  On my next camp I will try out my next purchase: a Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter.  Gerber is a good brand whose specialty is knives.  Sadly they had decided to associate themselves with Bear Grylls, a television survival putz.  It's not the lightest flint and steel fire starter and I may look out for a smaller and lighter one, but for now this should be a good one to use while learning how to light a fire. Sadly, I will not be able to practice at RMNP as they do not permit campfires.

I also did some work on my hydration system.  Hydration bladders are great when hiking but suck at the campsite.  Bottles are great at campsites but suck when hiking.  To fix this I bought a Platypus Drinking Tube Kit that converts a platypus bottle into a water bladder.  I punched holes near the base of the platypus bottle, reinforced the holes with metal grommets, and attached tie wraps through them so the bottle can be easily suspended upside down in my backpack hydration sleeve.  Now the bottle will be a bladder when hiking and a bottle at the campsite.  I used the grommets because a hole I made previously so the bottle could be hung began to tear after several camps.

The cheapest thing I bought was one of these: a Coghlan's Backpackers Trowel.  It's for digging catholes.  Enough said about that.

I sweat a lot and the sweat tends to run in my eyes.  I usually use a rolled up handkerchief as a headband.  I decided to go more stylish and bought myself a Buff.  Specifically I purchased an Original Buff® TC Appalachian with a map of the Appalachian Trail on it - COOL!  I've already worn it while cycling and it does the job.

Speaking of cycling, I also made a few purchases for RAGBRAI.  A new Bell Explorer Helmet and a pair of Bell half finger biking gloves (in blue).  A pair of official RAGBRAI biking shorts.  New tires, chain, and rear sprocket for the bike.  Finally, I replaced my old rickety bike rack with the Saris Bones 805 Trunk Mount Rack.  It seems a bit more stable than the one I had been using.  Now I'll be less worried as I whizz down the freeway with my bike hanging from the back of my car.

I have to thank the Parents-in-Law for the Christmas and Birthday money that paid for most of this stuff.  I've got most of what I need ... for now.  I'm sure I'll think of something else between now and then.

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