|First light on the colorful aspen at Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (Canon 5D Mark III)|
Let's talk about the good news first. Sunrise on Jackson Lake was uneventful, with no clouds, but gorgeous nonetheless. The Belt of Venus color can be fantastic if you know how to coax its color out of the sky and into your camera, and the pastel pink and blue tones on this morning didn't disappoint.
Not far away was Oxbow Bend (above), where colorful aspen trees were lighting up in the first rays of the sun. There was another spot to the east which had a nice stand of colorful aspen in front of Mt. Moran as well.
|Schwabacher Landing (LG G4)|
Fortunately, prior to the trip I had been asked to try out the 32GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick. It looks like a USB flash drive that you'd plug into computers, but it connects to your smartphone via wi-fi. Earlier in the trip I had started a complete gallery backup from the LG G4, and not only did that transfer over 4200 existing photos, it also transferred new photos as I took them. So all I had to do on the smartphone was delete old photos, since they were already backed up. I also filled my 64GB iPhone 5S with photos on this trip, and I was able to back up files from that as well, then delete them on the phone.
|SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick with iPhone 6S+|
But as the saying goes, life is what happens when we're busy making other plans.
Somewhere between Jackson, Wyoming and Salt Lake City, a few miles south of the small town of Cokeville, in the middle of extensive hay fields, and outside of Verizon's service area, the Explorer made a noise. An unhappy noise. A warning noise. A message in the dashboard was trying to tell me something, but driving into the bright glare of the afternoon sun, I couldn't read the fading light of its aging display. Then it was gone. Everything was apparently fine. Without a warning indicator, the infamous "check engine" message, I couldn't use the engine code reader to give me some clues.
It was late on a Friday afternoon, so Salt Lake City 150 miles to the south would be the best option for finding a mechanic working on a Saturday. Thank goodness for premium roadside assistance plans covering tows up to 200 miles! Not being able to look up shops or do a lot of calling to identify a shop open Saturdays, we had the SUV towed to the Courtyard Marriott at the airport so we'd be able to catch a shuttle to the airport and rent a car to get around. When we arrived, I called every mobile mechanic in town, so see if one would come out late on a Friday or early Saturday. No one called me back Friday, even the places which supposedly worked 24 x 7, but Saturday morning I did get a single call back, and the mechanic was there less than an hour later. At first he was optimistic that the oil pressure sensor may have failed, since it had clearly been worked on, but he eventually tried to turn the engine with a large wrench, and it was seized. The oil was topped off and there was no coolant mixed in from a broken gasket, so the mode of failure most likely had to do with the oil pump itself, possibly the timing chain which drives it.
Although I had kept the vehicle in immaculate shape to get me in and out of remote places, and I had recently put another $1000 into it to hopefully get another 100,000 miles out of it, the book value was only $2000 and a rebuilt engine would cost more, so it was a total loss.
One shuttle to the airport and one rental minivan later, we were leaving at noon for the 8-hour drive home. Of course the minivan had weather stripping on both sides of the windshield that whistled loudly over 50 MPH, at what sounded like the exact frequency of my SUV's warning beep! A couple of stops and a few feet of gaffer's tape, and the whistling minivan was silenced.
The following day I was able to locate a place that would buy my vehicle using its pink slip in Reno, but pick it up in Salt Lake City a couple of days later. Done, except for the fact that I lost the vehicle and its $2000 value, plus expenses associated with the breakdown. I guess that I need to come up with my next project, and include a new vehicle in the budget for it.
After the trip, I bought an Apple iPhone 6S+ using the Apple Upgrade Plan, and the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick worked like a charm with that as well. Although the USB connection is mainly to keep the Wireless Stick charged, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that when I plugged it into my laptop, it worked like a USB drive as well, and I was able to copy photos from all three smartphones directly to the laptop.
It handles a lot more than smartphones and photos, you can stream music or HD movies to up to 3 devices at once. Learn about the product here: https://goo.gl/Gp0mBm or watch a product video: https://goo.gl/SfTNNc
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SanDisk . The opinions and text are all mine.