It's winter and Virginia is colder than we like. It must be time to head to Florida like we do every February. This year we are adding to the adventure. Gene bit the bullet and had two solar panels added to the roof of the Roadtrek. They take up most of the available space and put out up to 230 watts in ideal conditions (which you almost never see).
This trip should be a good chance to see if they will do what I hoped --- allow us to park for several days without having to be plugged in.
So off we went on a chilly Friday the 13th (you're leaving on Friday the 13th? Are you mad?). As it turns out, we got out of town just before the real cold weather hit. As usual for these trips, the first three days were spent just getting ourselves to the real action. Get on the road and just make miles. The first night was in a Cracker Barrel outside of Charleston, SC; the second night in a campground just over the Florida border. A crowded place off the interstate full of very friendly people. After a free dinner of spaghetti, we got down to the reason we were there --- to dewinterize the rig; get rid of the anti-freeze and fill up with water.
The next day we drove pretty much the length of Florida (about 280 miles of it anyway) and arrived at Sandy's (Jean's son) in Palm City about 4:45. Along the way we bought a Sun Pass (for Florida toll roads) but hadn't registered it yet, so when the GPS routed us onto the Florida Thruway we still had to pony up. Grrrr! The whole way down the van was displaying an "oil high" light which worried me. So Sandy arranged for his mobile mechanic to come by Monday.
When we arrived, after a short time we all piled into Sandy's van and went to a river where manatees had been spotted. We were in luck, they were still there.
This is the river. It is right in the middle of lots of housing,
but there were several manatees cruising back and forth.
Then off to another beach to watch the sunset. Kind of hazy, so it wasn't as spectacular as it sometimes is.
When we got back to the house, I noticed that the new battery meter was showing that the battery was dangerously low. I suddenly realized that when we had parked I forgot to switch the refrigerator over to propane. It had been operating on battery the whole time we were gone. Put in some new equipment and you have to develop new habits. It's like starting all over again, with the same steep learning curve.
When I switched the fridge over, the battery level came up slightly, but still dangerously low. We ran the furnace (a notorious power hog) a little during the night (it was still chilly even in Florida). About 4:30 in the morning (now Monday) it was about rock bottom, so I started the engine. Even though the engine was just idling, it was putting out some power to the battery.
I ran the engine until about 7:30. The meter showed that the battery had gained some and now the rising sun was dribbling a few electrons into it. We will see how we stand at the end of the day. We are going to try to see if we can survive the week without having to run an electric cable to the house.
Later on in the morning, Sandy's mechanic turned up and examined the oil situation. His conclusion was that the oil level was okay, but the sensor was going. I should have it replaced when we get back home. We will continue on that advice and check the oil every morning.
Now (1:00 pm) everyone is out except this Gene. I will post this (and probably take a nap) now and perhaps get on a schedule tonight or tomorrow. Maybe even have some more manatee pictures.