I had MLK day off this week so I decided to have a short road trip to test out some gadgets I got for Christmas. Unfortunately I was a little on the sick side, so the trip was fairly brief. The gear I received and decided to test was a CB radio, antenna, SWR meter, power adapter, and dash cam. I’m sure I could make it through my road trip without any of these new toys, but if you’ve got ’em, use ’em.
Just south of Delaware on I-95 there are 2 truck stops in the middle of the highway serving both north and south bound passengers. I had it under good authority that each of these stops held penny smashers! There were 2 machines for each stop and had some fantastic presses! Until Monday, I had no idea Frank Zappa was from Baltimore.
I have to say, for a silly, spur of the moment trip, it yielded some of my favorite elongated coins. First Frank Zappa. How fantastic is it that I have a penny with the image of the front man of The Mothers of Invention? The man who brought us the timeless classic “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” is now chilling in my penny box. The Penny in the top right of the picture was weird. Where all the other machines were geared towards Maryland and D.C., this entire machine was Hello Kitty inspired. Not being a fan of Kitty, I opted for these zany characters. Moving to the bottom right is “I Bussed Along I-95.” I have in fact bussed I-95 in the past, and found this too unique to pass up. Lastly in the center is a penny dedicated to the truck stop where the machine was. I love that! Maryland House Travel Plaza you’ve been good to me.
One piece of gear I used isn’t as exciting as the rest but is one of the most important pieces. The SWR meter is used to calibrate the antenna to get the maximum performance from the CB. I need to practice with this as I feel my lack of success in hearing trucker chatter was due to my inability to use this properly. For my trip this summer I may try to go to a professional to get it tuned. I might also get a bigger antenna that provides more jiggawatts. The Wilson Little Wil is well reviewed by small.
Along with all 7 Smokey and the Bandit movies, I acquired a Midland 75-822 handheld CB radio. It has great reviews from Amazon and the CB forums I used for research. The great thing about it compared to many other radios is it’s not hardwired into the car. I simply plug this guy into the cigarette lighter and an antenna to operate. I can switch it between cars easily. It also comes with a small antenna and battery pack should I decide to use it outside the car. I won’t be bootlegging beer on my trip but you can be damn sure I’m going to listen to Eastbound and Down.
I also picked up a small dash cam. At first I was curious as to what I might need it for but I was able to come up with two reasons. One would be if I’m in an accident, God forbid. There is a chance that it might come in handy in proving I wasn’t responsible. The other reason being police officers. I’m a nice guy and don’t plan on breaking any laws (except maybe speed a little) but I did have a very unfortunate experience with a Virginia highway patrolman. Bandit had his Sheriff Bufford T. Justice and I had a chubby, mustachioed cowboy who liked to bully a 22 year old on I-95. I feel like leaving the camera on, I can stealthily record any interactions I might have with police. I’m a fan of police in general but there’s always a bad apple in the bunch. If I get accused of something or am treated inappropriately, I’ll have evidence.
The cam is rather small and fits nicely below my GPS bracket. I can flip the little screen up to make it even less obvious. I need to play with it more to get all the settings down but so far I’m a fan. I can turn the microphone on and off. On to record conversations with police, off when I need to sing “On the Road Again” with Willie. It comes with a removable and replaceable memory card. The fantastic thing is it loops its recording. If I run out of memory it starts over and begins recording again. I don’t have to physically go in and delete the 13 hours of boring driving to start over. I can pull out the card and import it to my computer should anything of note occur. Otherwise I just let it do it’s thing.
CB radio, GPS, dash cam, phone, and possible tablet. That’s a lot of equipment to charge! I picked up the Bestek 3 socket power adapter with 4 USB ports seen below. It has great reviews on Amazon and everyone seems to think that the small items I will be charging are not enough to overwhelm the car. I tried it out with the dash cam and CB and everything went well. Next short trip I take, I’ll add the GPS into the mix. Hopefully I can come up with a way to make it look like less of a mess.
For the most part I would call this trip a success. I got some fantastic pennies and a little experience with my new equipment. My biggest disappointment is with the CB. I imagine it’s my lack of experience calibrating it but I did not get much chatter. The clearest and most talking I got was as I passed a trucker weigh station, which make sense. The lack of trucker talk was evened out by the quality of trucker talk. It wasn’t anything like the phrases in the title that I boosted from a website but a few miles from home I picked up two fascinating guys talking. One was disappointed by the intersections between 95, 295, and 495 being too congested and confusing. The other responded…several times…with “I GOT AN 18 WHEELER! I GOT AN 18 WHEELER! SMOKE STACK! SMOKE STACK! I GOT AN 18 WHEELER!” The other driver referred to this loon as smoke stack and kept trying to have a legit conversation. “Smoke stack” however never deviated from his mantra. I kind of pictured Domino’s Pizza’s the Noid driving Jack Burton’s Pork-Chop Express.
The best/worst trucker briefly came on the radio and in a deep, gravely voice that immediately made me think of Rusty Nail, said “I’m not wearing any panties.” He didn’t seem to address it to anyone specifically nor did anyone respond. That statement just hung out there like panties on a clothes line. Keep on truckin’, you free-ballin’ bastard.