Finding battery power on a long road trip

BLUE RIVER, Ore.--As I sit here in my Subaru, on the edge of one of the most peaceful and beautiful lakes I've come across in years, I'm struggling to power my laptop.

In fact, that's exactly what this blog entry was going to be about: the constant challenge of powering an inventory of nine gadgets on my Road Trip 2006 around the Pacific Northwest, which has had me, on most days, in locations far from electric outlets.

But though I thought I would be able to charge the laptop battery in my car as I wrote this, I am having trouble getting my inverter to work. Thus, what precious battery life I have left is draining away as I type.

Road Trip 2006

Ah, well. This has been one of my chief concerns during the 15 days I've been gone. I've got one cell phone, two satellite phones, three GPS units, a digital camera, a video iPodjug and this loaner MacBook Pro, and none of them are willing to work without being fed constantly.

The battery life for some of them has been impressive, especially the Iridium satellite phone and the Garmin GPS map 76Cx I've been using. The MacBook Pro is not so good, though it seems to be better than the PowerBook G4 I actually own. But since I've been traveling on my own, I've been watching a lot of DVDs--and, yes, writing and filing the many stories for this project--so I've had to find ways to power up the laptop everyday.

In many cases, I've relied on charging it in the car via the now-balky inverter.

A frequent solution has been plugging in accessories, such as my camera battery charger, while stopped at a restaurant for lunch.

All in all, it has been a juggling act to keep these devices ready to go at a moment's notice, crucial as they've been to staying in touch with editors and filing stories and photos on most days of the trip. I've been able to use the cigarette adapter in my car to power my gear, but my car only has one of those.

But I have to say that, for the most part, I've succeeded.

Now if only I can ensure I have enough power left tonight to watch the last two episodes of "24."

Autoplay: ON Autoplay: OFF