The Christmas Toys

New Turnsignals and Brake Lights

New light bars for each side of the cargo rack.  They work as left and right turn signals and brake lights.

Well, Christmas is behind us once again, along with the gift giving.  We could probably all live just fine without the materialism but it sure is fun.  I gave mainly gift cards to Sis and the brother-in-law as well as a basket of hand picked German goodies from the Amana Colonies near Cedar Rapids.  (The Amanas are a group of towns where German settlers lived communally from the mid 1800s through the 1930s).

Sis bought me a warm, dressy bomber jacket and some new polos from Casual Male XL (my favorite clothing store!).  There were also some Amazon gift cards from my brother-in-law and sister,  and one as a posthumous gift from Dad.  He had even signed a Christmas card in November – a couple of weeks prior to his death.  Predictably, the Amazon cards all went to buy accessories for the van.

Cargo rack lighting….  The 12 volt red LED light bar you see illuminated in the photo above was one of two added to the back of the van this afternoon.  They were very simple to install and look great.  The old incandescent magnetic trailer lights had been failing.  These new brilliant LED lights were only $11 per unit with free shipping.  They are well made and waterproof.  Let’s hope I don’t back the van into a tree (like last fall) and bust them!  If so, it’s an easy fix.

Sangean PR-D15Sangean Rechargeable Portable Radio (PR-D15)  I’ve used a Sangean PR-D5 radio for some time and really like it.  The sound quality is impressive on both the new and old models.  The updated version has a built-in battery charger and takes 6 rechargeable C cells.  (Or you can use 6 alkaline batteries, making sure to turn off the charger)  It can be run from 110V or from another source of 9V DC (I use a 12 volt DC to 9 volt DC breast pump adapter).  Like its cousin, the PR-D15 is very well made and boasts rich sound by default;  one nice change is that the newer PR-D15 now allows for bass and treble sound adjustments.  It also has a handle – something the old model did not.  I love the rechargeable aspect – it means many hours of radio enjoyment while sitting on a riverbank and catfishing.  The cost?  If you watch the sales, you might pick one up for $70-$80.  It’s a terrific radio… and well worth it.

Sansa Clip ZipSansa Clip Zip MP3 player…  I had ordered this little MP3 player just before learning that there were some serious issues regarding the diabetes getting out of control again.  Now the MP3 player goes along when mall walking and to the gym; the music helps to keep a person from getting bored.  The Sansa is only the size of a box wooden matches.  It lasts quite a few hours on a charge.  Recharging is easy; the USB connector fits various cords in the house, van, car, netbook.  Right now there are about 200 songs loaded on it and the modest 4 GB of storage is more than adequate.  (Why waste the money buying something oversized?)  I also use a cable to run the output through the car stereo or into one of the Sangean radios.  It’s a nifty little device … though due to its small size, it is a bit easy to misplace!

IOGEAR SD card readerIOGEAR SD card reader…    Pictures make blogs come alive.  But sometimes transferring photos can be cumbersome.  This little card reader makes the transfers much easier, even if the camera battery is discharged.  You just pop the SD card in and slide the reader into the USB port.  At times I’ve used other card readers that supported almost every format under the sun.  They were bulky and had more slots than a riverboat casino.  Who needs all that?  This handy gadget set me back about 10 bucks but you can now get them online for $6!  It’s easy to misplace so I’m thinking about attaching it to the netbook with velcro… or getting an extra for the van.

There were some other Christmas time acquisitions including a 10.1 inch tablet computer (which I have yet to figure out but it seems like it will be useful).  Sis really came through this year and the Amazon presents will come in handy for future trips.

So what is on the horizon?  We are in for yet another blast of dangerously cold weather.  The forecast for Monday is a high temperature of -15 and a low of -24… That is the coldest weather I can remember for several decades… and a great reason to go camping.  It’s why so many people move to Arizona or at least flee Iowa for the winter.  But with a good book, a hot cup of tea, and a pot of beefy vegetable soup simmering in the slow cooker, it should be an enjoyable outing.

Have a terrific weekend!

Brad, the “Van Trekker”

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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