Equipment Failures

It seems that our legs and bikes are outlasting our electronics on this trip. Being incurable techies, we couldn't travel without a few favorite toys each: a Garmin GPS watch, smartphone and tablet. Each serves a very important purpose, and is therefore worth it's weight in our panniers. Our Garmins track our movements every day. With a quick look at our wrist we know just how far we've gone and how much we have left to do. That's important information, to either boost our spirits or bring us to reality about our progress. And after the fact, Rich can upload the data to his Nexus 10 tablet. That's the really interesting part, as it shows us a map, gives us elevations and other fun facts.

The smartphones aren't much use as phones here in Canada. We have no cell plans, although Rich can sometimes call when he has a wifi connection. Their real value is quick access to maps and GPS locators that show our actual location. Many a wrong turn has been averted by that technology. I'll also admit that we jump on wifi with them when we can find connections at restaurants.

Our tablets are the key to our evening entertainment. We use them for downloading and editing our photos, blogging, email, Facebook, Skype, checking the weather, detailed route planning and storing our Garmin data. And when we're done with all that, we have multiple books to read on the Kindle app. If we run out of reading material, we just check out more books from the library at home. Pretty handy!

We even have a solar charger that keeps our electronics running when we're camping. They are that important to us.

So Rich was pretty distraught when his tablet started to die. First it wouldn't charge back up to 100%. Then it wasn't charging at all. As the power diminished, he tried everything he could find in the forums online to fix it. But to no avail. With just 2% of battery power left, he resorted to his only remaining option – doing a factory reset. His photos were backed up online, and he managed to save some important personal documents in time. But it was with heavy hearts that we said goodbye to our precious Garmin data. I had kept daily logs of the basic mileages and times, but the data-rich records of our trip were gone.

The good news is that the reset worked – sort of. The tablet slowly came back to life, although it still only reaches 42% power. In the meantime, Rich has become very good at finger typing on his smartphone and downloaded his Kindle books to read on the minuscule screen. He can download his pictures onto my iPad and email them to himself to post on his blog. Adapting is the name of the game. Surprisingly, with using the tablet on only a very limited basis and filling in with the phone, Rich is pretty much back to full functionality.

The next to go was my Garmin. It had been showing signs of misbehavior, with decreasing battery power as time went on. Most days it died before we reached our destination. But we had Rich's for the official trip records and I could track our mileage for the majority of the day. Then one morning I turned it off during breakfast and it never came on again. Dead. It wouldn't even recharge. Kaput. It's not a critical failure, but I sure miss it. Rich tries to keep me informed, calling out miles to go every so often, but it's not the same. At least it's a lot easier to add and subtract layers of clothing now, without having to move my Garmin each time. It may be a stretch, but that is a silver lining!

It appears that it's really batteries that are failing us. The electronics themselves may be perfectly fine. We have just taxed the ability to recharge them. Good thing our bodies are doing better than that! We seem to be able to rejuvenate ourselves each night and with the addition of a rest day now and then. And our bikes have performed admirably to date. It's a pretty good outcome, really. The important parts just keep on running. Thankfully.


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