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January 2021

February 2021

 

 

The month is half over and we are still waiting for the part to show up all the way from England, and naturally the delay is blamed on COVID!
 
During the down time we have kept busy with little jobs around the boat and perfecting our solar use!
Our boat is now compl…

Read more

Boat and RV December 14 (Free vs Paid)

Boat and RV

December 14, 2019

Conestoga Charlie is breaking with the general format today.

There are 22 photos and not in the order of travel but rather in the order of amenities.

I was reading a piece about a very bad commercial campground experience, qnd thinking back I remembered some…

Read more

July 2019

Boat and RV

July 1, 2019

Conestoga Charlie with general ramblings and more about our Solar experiment!

This is the second day in Cabin Creek which is really easy access off the I-90  Exit 63 and even comfortable for a class A! (GPS Lat 47.2933 Lon -121.2877)

Something that is troubling …

Read more

June 2019

Boat and RV

June 1, 2019

Conestoga Charlie here with two more files for new and potential owners. And if all works well they will be posted in order!?

New Owner File 3

Another aspect of purchase is learning how to operate all the systems.

Our dealer provided a “run through” of how it …

Read more

May 2019

Boat and RV

May 3, 2019

Conestoga Charlie and crew welcome the new members to our group.

The group is growing nicely and so far appears to be well balanced between Campers and Boaters.

Many travel by both so hopefully in the near future we will see more travel stories posted by our membe…

Read more

April 2019

Boat and RV

April 2, 2019

Conestoga Charlie heading south after Oklahoma City and visit to the Route 66 Museum.

Thankfully nothing but normal traffic problems on the way to friends in McKinney Texas.

With one stopover in Ardmore Oklahoma to mail a package we arrived on a nice sunny day w…

Read more

March 2019

Boat and RV

March 2, 2019

Conestoga Charlie sitting in Tucson still.

Today I am going to talk about money!

Not the green stuff we need for day to day living and travel, but the reserves we need for emergencies.

Most will carry a specified amount in a savings type of account that can b…

Read more

February 2019

Boat and RV

February 5, 2019

Conestoga Charlie back after a few days of intense packing!

One of the many things people say during our travels it how much they would enjoy the free lifestyle, however they also lament about how much stuff they have.

Those readers who are contemplating a mo…

Read more

January 2019

Boat and RV

January 1, 2019

A big welcome to 2019 from Conestoga Charlie and the crew of the Dawn Treader.

We wish to thank all the loyal readers for their encouragement and support.

Today’s special New Year’s Blog is a walk down memory lane.  It is a short picture story of the Odyssey i…

Read more

July 2018

Mystery Blog

Suggestions have been pouring in (well more like a trickle really) for the new name.

On July 4th it will be one whole month since we left our boat and headed up Interstate 75 with the Gulfstream BT Cruiser, a 23 foot Class C Motor Home.

During the last few weeks I have been com…

Read more

View older posts »

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Blog Posts

January 2021

February 2021

 

 

The month is half over and we are still waiting for the part to show up all the way from England, and naturally the delay is blamed on COVID!
 
During the down time we have kept busy with little jobs around the boat and perfecting our solar use!
Our boat is now compl…

Read more

Boat and RV December 14 (Free vs Paid)

Boat and RV

December 14, 2019

Conestoga Charlie is breaking with the general format today.

There are 22 photos and not in the order of travel but rather in the order of amenities.

I was reading a piece about a very bad commercial campground experience, qnd thinking back I remembered some…

Read more

July 2019

Boat and RV

July 1, 2019

Conestoga Charlie with general ramblings and more about our Solar experiment!

This is the second day in Cabin Creek which is really easy access off the I-90  Exit 63 and even comfortable for a class A! (GPS Lat 47.2933 Lon -121.2877)

Something that is troubling …

Read more

June 2019

Boat and RV

June 1, 2019

Conestoga Charlie here with two more files for new and potential owners. And if all works well they will be posted in order!?

New Owner File 3

Another aspect of purchase is learning how to operate all the systems.

Our dealer provided a “run through” of how it …

Read more

May 2019

Boat and RV

May 3, 2019

Conestoga Charlie and crew welcome the new members to our group.

The group is growing nicely and so far appears to be well balanced between Campers and Boaters.

Many travel by both so hopefully in the near future we will see more travel stories posted by our membe…

Read more

April 2019

Boat and RV

April 2, 2019

Conestoga Charlie heading south after Oklahoma City and visit to the Route 66 Museum.

Thankfully nothing but normal traffic problems on the way to friends in McKinney Texas.

With one stopover in Ardmore Oklahoma to mail a package we arrived on a nice sunny day w…

Read more

March 2019

Boat and RV

March 2, 2019

Conestoga Charlie sitting in Tucson still.

Today I am going to talk about money!

Not the green stuff we need for day to day living and travel, but the reserves we need for emergencies.

Most will carry a specified amount in a savings type of account that can b…

Read more

February 2019

Boat and RV

February 5, 2019

Conestoga Charlie back after a few days of intense packing!

One of the many things people say during our travels it how much they would enjoy the free lifestyle, however they also lament about how much stuff they have.

Those readers who are contemplating a mo…

Read more

January 2019

Boat and RV

January 1, 2019

A big welcome to 2019 from Conestoga Charlie and the crew of the Dawn Treader.

We wish to thank all the loyal readers for their encouragement and support.

Today’s special New Year’s Blog is a walk down memory lane.  It is a short picture story of the Odyssey i…

Read more

July 2018

Mystery Blog

Suggestions have been pouring in (well more like a trickle really) for the new name.

On July 4th it will be one whole month since we left our boat and headed up Interstate 75 with the Gulfstream BT Cruiser, a 23 foot Class C Motor Home.

During the last few weeks I have been com…

Read more

View older posts »

July 2019

Boat and RV

July 1, 2019

Conestoga Charlie with general ramblings and more about our Solar experiment!

This is the second day in Cabin Creek which is really easy access off the I-90  Exit 63 and even comfortable for a class A! (GPS Lat 47.2933 Lon -121.2877)

Something that is troubling is that it appears that the governors of various states have discovered a new Cash Cow. Increasing tax on fuel sales!

One state is particularly hard on Diesel Sales (nearly 4 times the tax added to gasoline) this will drive grocery and other commodities prices up shortly!

Several states start today and frankly there is nothing anyone can do about it!

 

Many have inquired about our solar use as I have stated that one does not need to spend a fortune to obtain a workable system IF and that IF is a big one.

As I’m watching the shadow slowly move to expose my panel because we parked to take advantage of the tall pines to keep cool.

This is all part of considerations necessary as well as conserving electrical use.

I am not a big fan of “Super Batteries” (Lithium Ion and AGM) and have been thrown out of a solar group for my views! I feel they are too expensive for the capacity.

Before the motor home I lived on a sailboat and one advantage of the AGM was that they are sealed and can even be mounted inverted but still have less capacity than standard lead acid.

 

This is a real world  rundown of what was used and how it worked for 6 days.

Motor Home: Gulfstream BT Cruiser 23 foot.

Solar Panel: Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel

Charge Regulator: Y&H 30 Amp PWM Solar Charge Regulator

Inverter does not power any of the house circuits and has 2 standard outlets and 2 USB charging plugs, is rated at 750 Watts and cost $39.87 at Wall-Mart.

 

Batteries: Everyready Lead Acid 145AH Deep Cycle.

This setup was less than $200 without the batteries. The Batteries were purchased at Batteries plus Bulbs in Fort Charlotte Florida (A National Chain) May 25, 2018

The final assessment:

The 100 Watt panel kept our batteries at float (fully charged) soon after sunrise.

Overnight drop never fell below 12.2 volts.

2 days the generator was used. One day because of rain all day and another for Air Conditioning use!

The setup is portable and was put out every day which allowed optimum positioning for maximum solar collection.

Recommendations:

  1. It would be a lot more convenient to have roof mounting however at least 2 of the 100 Watt panels mostly because of possible shadowing and positions. 
  2. I would upgrade to a MPPT Controller (Multiple Power Point Tracking) for better charging rate.
  3. If funds are available a minimum of 400 watts should take care of almost any reasonable needs for average use.
  4. The Inverter was not connected to the house electrical system for simplicity as well as ease of connection. 

 Interesting side note one person I talked to had 4 Lithium Ion batteries “because of weight and seriously how much was he saving?

My 2 regular ones have the same Amp Hour Capacity and at $100 each compared to $6 to 900 for Lithium I think the little extra weight would be ok!

(Note I wrote a series send me a Private message for a copy)

 

Columbia River Overlook

 

 

Columbia River Overlook

 

 

Cabin Creek Washington

 

View from our Window Cabin Creek Camp in Washington

Cabin Creek Camp in Washington

Cabin Creek Washington

Cabin Creek Washington

Cabin Creek Washington

Cabin Creek Washington New Grill

Closeup of Battery Compartment and Connections

Solar Cell and Connections

Battery Box showing Solar Controller and Connections (with oil storage )

 

 

 Voltage after 30 Minutes

 

 

Electrical Panel and Inverter Detail

 

Kill-A-Watt can measure Wattage and Amperage of any appliance used

Compact Multi-meter with Continuity Test. Very Handy Diagnostic tool


Boat and RV

July 2, 2019

It’s off to the ocean for Conestoga Charlie and company.

It has been one full year since watching 4th of July fireworks in Thompson Falls Montana.

We were promised a great show by friends we met through RV travels last year in Arizona.

In 2002 when I decided to sell my house and move on board a sailboat, I never thought of the friends that would enter my life.

In all the years I lived in my neighborhood I only spoke to about 4 on a regular basis.

During the years from 2002 until now the number of great people that we’ve not only met but actually had social discourse with is phenomenal.

We were giving a guided tour around Tortola BVI when we asked for directions to the Magistrate’s office.

Shared tables and dinners with fellow sailors and travelers throughout the US and Caribbean.   

Since getting the motor home it has been even greater.

Everywhere it seems people are curious as to what would inspire someone to give up traditional living in favor of a mobile lifestyle.

We have shared dreams, accomplishments, and sadly even mourned the loss of some!

Every time I find myself worrying about what I don’t have I get a post, a letter, or even a surprise visit from someone such as a couple we know sailing north with a smiling photo of a bunch of friends, or an invitation to join in a celebration across the country.

So many times it is said that life is a journey, but one must ask where is the journey staked down?

There is a TV commercial that asks “What’s in your wallet”, the better question is what’s in your memory bank?   

Today’s photos are from across the Pacific Northwest----more or less!  

Interesting Sculpture at  Brady Rest Area, Brady NE

 

Montana Rest Area

 

Lewis and Clark Reminder at Bozeman Rest Area

Bozeman Rest Area MT

Wild Mushroom at Bozeman Rest Area MT

 Post Falls Rest Area Idaho

 Post Falls Rest Area Idaho

Schrag Safety Rest Area Washington I-90 With Dump Station

Schrag Safety Rest Area Washington

Schrag Safety Rest Area Washington

Large Harvested Wheat Field  Washington

Mighty Columbia River

Columbia River Overlook

View of Columbia River Valley

Last Day at Cabin Creek Camp in Washington


Boat and RV

July 4, 2019

Conestoga Charlie is on the water and wishing very a happy 4th and a reminder of how our country has been a beacon of freedom for over 200 years!

We are back in the water and have anchored out in Puget Sound in Craig’s wonderful 41 foot Bayliner.

Later tonight there will be a fireworks display.

They bring out a barge and set them off in the Sound!

It feels good to be rocked to sleep at anchor again!

The trip through Washington was pleasant and we found a great campground on the way however the gas prices were a surprise.

Thanks to today’s technology this report is from the middle of Puget Sound.

Today’s Photos are on the boat and on the way.

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Boat and RV

July 7, 2019

Conestoga Charlie is off vacation!

Today is more boat than RV!

Fourth of July was spent on our friend’s boat N&O’s Bungalow a beautiful 41 Foot Bayliner. We arrived on the 2nd and left the 6th and were treated to a great fireworks display while anchored out on the Sound.

One serious issue keeps cropping up, parking our motor home, as well as any RV lately. 

I read many post about problems, one issue even came from across the Atlantic in England.

It seems that people resent having an RV in a parking space. I realize that when towing either a trailer or car usually the RV takes up 2 spaces.

As more RV’s hit the roads there are more stopped in the rest areas which irritate the commercial truckers.

Signs are popping up that forbid overnight parking.

We even had complaints during our visit even though our Class C only used one normal parking space.

Another issue is whether a “No Camping” sign means no overnight or not more than “X” number of hours.

I have even read where commercial trucks parking in a retailer’s parking lot had boots place and fined for parking!

Many rest areas are not large enough to accommodate both trucks and RV’s and as both over the road shipping and RV use continues to grow it will only become worse.

We have found many alternate spots to park using various web sites but still sometimes must depend on a rest area or occasionally??

Photo’s today are from our last week’s travels.

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Boat and RV

July 8, 2019

Conestoga Charlie Boondocking at Cabin Creek Washington (Ramp 63 off the I-90.)

There are a number of sites and we had a very large Class A for company yesterday.

Continuing the solar reports!

Caution, Caution, Caution!

The goal was to inexpensively set up a system that would EXTEND a dry camp stay!

The setup I am using is under $200 not counting batteries which are also around $200 and are 2 lead acid 145 AH 12 volt Deep Cycle. (NOT the sealed Marine deep cycle start/deep cycle)

I am not wishing to start a depute over MonoCrystalline or PolyCrystallineA or weather a PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) and MPPT (Multiple Power Point Tracking) both will work, however PWM controllers are cheap and less efficient.

Solar Panel: Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel

Charge Regulator: Y&H 30 Amp PWM Solar Charge Regulator

Inverter does not power any of the house circuits and has 2 standard outlets and 2 USB charging plugs, is rated at 750 Watts and cost $39.87 at Wall-Mart (Before anyone get hyper we mostly use it for our computers and the coffee grinder well below the 750 Watt Rating!)

As can be seen from the photos the tall trees prevent the full sun reaching the panel until well after 10:30 and yesterday was partly cloudy.

When we were camped for 6 days at Ottawa State Fishing Lake Minnesota Kansas we had clear sun from about 6AM tell Sunset and was able to maintain float (13.5 volts) all day and was no lower than 12.4 volts overnight!

So bottom line how did it work here?

Yesterday it kept up with our use but only achieved 13.1 volts and in the evening we ran the generator to cook our corn on the cob (4 min per ear)!

This morning we have 12.k2 volts to start and waiting for the sun!

Photo’s today include the campsite and more from Gig Harbor!

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Boat and RV

July 10, 2019

Just another day on the road with Conestoga and crew!

Washington has spectacular forest and enough camping opportunities.

However we got the feeling that Washington and Eastern Idaho is not exactly RV friendly.

There were complaints about parking while we visited our friends and the rest stops were filed with big trucks whit resentful drivers. 2 of the large Wal-Marts expressively forbids any RV parking presumably even for shopping!

One in Spokane even had a parking officer tell them on arrival to leave!

It appears to be a growing trend as more and more those of us who are full time are looked down upon as “homeless” or worse!

Evidently Trucker traffic in the Pacific Northwest is extremely heavy as well. All the parking in rest areas is filled to overflowing as well as any of the Love’s, TA’s and Flying J’s.

In over a year of travel this is the most Big Rig traffic we’ve seen!

Hopefully this is proof that the economy is booming.

As for Wal-Mart most of their people are saying it is city regulations not their policies!

At any rate stops must be more carefully planned especially in the western parts of the U.S.

Today’s photos Include Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, and Washington as we head back to Montana.

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Boat and RV

July 17, 2019

The modern GPS has become one of the most used travel tools.

Conestoga Charlie is taking a travel break to discuss these devices.

My experience dates back to the original GPS that only gave Chart Coordinates in Latitude and Longitude.

My navigation experience was developed on a sailboat and also used a Sextant, Compass, and Paper Charts, so even the early GPS was a great improvement.

I will state that I have used Garmin from the start for sea navigation and for travels on land have had experience with all the major brands, Garmin, Magellan, Tom Tom, and finally Rand McNally. It was recommended to buy a Rand McNally unit due to being specifically for an RV and at the time I did not know that Garmin also made a RV specific unit.

 

After a year of “putting up” with the Rand McNally it would have been replaced some time ago if it were not for the $400 invested! At first I thought it was just me until I went to Rand McNally’s FaceBook page and webpage and found many others having many of the same and worse issues. 

Currently the number for help is 877-446-4863 and after a very long hold.

After a 2+ hour service call the Tech Service remotely updated the Firmware so we shall see.

Meanwhile: My issues have been as follows.

Routing, especially for an RV, is often the most complicated route. One time it included a loop with right and left turns around a block to place the destination on the right when there was a stop light protected left turn lane right into the parking lot.

It has routed us down roads that were not exactly RV friendly in both modes of navigation, Fastest Time and Shortest Distance.

To avoid this situation we have created way-points for city centers along the desired routes, from a Map!

The worse hiccup has been the uncanny “Freeze Up” within 2 miles or less of important Interstate connections, questionable intersections, on ramps and general destinations.

We have even added a supplementary memory chip.

Listed below are just some of other people’s complaints taken directly from the Rand McNally page! 

Names have been deleted for legal reasons.

"Your GPS rvnd for RV’ers is worthless. We have had nothing but wrong directions, slow recovery, constantly freezes at important intersections causing many delays, excessive fuel consumption and a close miss of an accident. We have written corporate with no results."

"I sent my piece of junk back in for a refund. Didn't get the full amount, but I didn't care at that point. Purchased a Garmin, works flawlessly. Great product, Garmin that is!"

"Which ever one it is dont relay on Rand McNally to get you there. Their GPS's are piles of ****. Complete waste of money and complete lack of customer service"

"You have the worst gps and customer service of anyone. It’s hard to believe the products are so bad that when you call customer service there is a recording saying they are aware of the problems with the tnd tablet and are working on a solution (it has been almost 2 months now) and no solution. How can a company sell a 500$ gps that doesn’t even work and will not even refund it !? Pathetic company anyone considering buying Rand McNally don’t do it"

"We bought a RVND7 for our RV 5 weeks ago and the clock has never had the proper time and the mph indicator works for about an hour and then shows a “0”. My husband has been trying for a week to get help from their customer service line (he now has 4 or 5 different customer support numbers) as he was put on hold then disconnected!!! A young lady just told him our unit is one week past the replacement date even thought he’s been calling for a week!!! Now she says we have to go buy a 8G card in able to download something to try to correct one of the software problems!!! DO NOT BUY ONE OF THEIR GPS UNITS!!!! I guess I will stick with a good old atlas. #gps #Rand McNally"

"I have a Rand McNally GPS we LOVE. It was linked to the Good Sam trip planner so you could plan your trip on a PC and then export it to the GPS. Well , Rand McNally just ended the partnership with Good Sam Club so now I have a $350.00 GPS I can’t update to get the new maps."

There were many more and most all were negative.

As I stated we called and the tech service representative did a firmware update however I fear the basic flaws in the Rand McNally GPS is beyond a simple update.

I will follow up with yet another letter to the corporate office! 

Along ID 200

Old Trucks  Along ID 200

Along ID 200

Idaho State Highway ID 200

Traffic on Interstate 90 Washington

Wal-Mart Camping Club Scotts Bluff Nebraska

Brady Rest Area, Brady Nebraska

Brady Rest Area, Brady Nebraska

Pilot Station on Craig's Boat

Boats Anchored in Puget Sound

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