November 20, 2017

Adventure

 

Daily log of full-time RVing adventure. Where it stops nobody knows.

Cocoa Beach, FL – Campsite fee: $300 per month
Day 456 (Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018):
 Found an ocean front spot in Cocoa Beach. Posted an ad on craigslist for an RV spot and got several responses, including the one I picked. It’s just a single family home on the beach with a side yard to park in. Will stay here at least a month or two before getting back on the road.

Brunswick, GA – Campsite fee: $0
Day (calculating):
 To come

Highlands, NC – Campsite fee: $0
Day (calculating):
 To come

Bryson City, NC – Campsite fee: $0
Day (calculating):
 To come

Ferguson, NC – Campsite fee: $0
Day (calculating):
 To come

Roland, KS – Campsite fee: $0
Day (calculating):
 To come

Divide, CO – Campsite fee: $0
Day 283 (Monday, May 11, 2018):
 Stocked up in Woodland Park and went to a new campsite closer to the snow capped mountain I’ve been wanting to hike. Even though its only maybe 15 miles away, this site is a totally different setting. The last places’ views were unbeatable. 360° degrees for miles. But with that comes little privacy and insane winds. The new place is in the forrest, and while the long views aren’t there, it’s still a beautiful setting with shade, a lot of wildlife and a much better chance of reaching the mountain.

Woodland Park, CO – Campsite fee: $0
Day 272 (Thursday, May 31, 2018):
 Left Penrose and headed north to cooler weather. Stocked up on food and supplies for up to 2 weeks. I ended up at Pike National Forest in Woodland Park, CO and found a great spot. This place is way better than the last place in Penrose. Amazing views, very few people and only a few campsites really far apart. This is by far the most beautiful, peaceful place I’ve been on this trip. Site is free, and completely off-grid with no hookups or amenities. Just raw land/dispersed camping.

Penrose, CO – Campsite fee: $0
Day 262 (Monday, May 21, 2018):
 Went to town and filled the built-in propane tank, water tank, and stocked up on 2 weeks worth of food and supplies. I decided to move to a different camping area, partly because of the better views, but mostly because of someone at the last campground that didn’t understand basic courtesy of generator use. He would run 2 generators for 6-8 hours a day, starting before 8am, and ending as late as midnight. All of it for a pop-up style camper. Pretty much ruins the whole peaceful camping experience. But I’m very happy with the new spot, and the lack of noise.

Penrose, CO – Campsite fee: $0
Day 256 (Tuesday, May 15, 2018):
 After searching and searching, and learning the local Wal-Mart doesn’t allow overnight parking (was hoping for one more night to find somewhere), I found a spot in the Penrose BLM near Cañon City. It ended up being a perfect spot and amazing mountain and lake views. The RV made it up the rocky road, but couldn’t have done much more. Nice to have a spot for a couple weeks.

Pueblo, CO – Campsite fee: $0
Day 255 (Monday, May 14, 2018):
 A lonnnng day of driving. Drove through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and ended the day in Pueblo, Colorado. Spent the night at a Cracker Barrel scrambling to find a place to stay. But after 2100 miles and 10 states, I finally made it.

Roland, OK – Campsite fee: $0
Day 254 (Sunday, May 13, 2018):
 After the excruciating heat and bugs of MS, I’ve stayed inside with the AC on full blast soaking up the free electricity while I can.

Roland, OK – Campsite fee: $0
Day 253 (Saturday, May 12, 2018):
 Left the free campground at Sardis Lake in MS and stopped in Roland, Oklahoma at the Cherokee Casino, since I’d seen you could stay 2 nights for free. It ended up being 2 free nights with full hookups in an actual RV lot with beautiful views. I also got $10 in free slots, and won $28 from that. Paid for a good dinner and added $20 to the gas fund. Not a bad deal at all.

Sardis Lake, MS – Campsite fee: $0
Day 245 (Friday, May 4, 2018):
 Finished reading “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. The first book in a while that I’ve been interested enough in to finish in under a week. Definitely fed the fire of wanting to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in the next couple years.

Sardis Lake, MS – Campsite fee: $0
Day 242 (Tuesday, May 1, 2018):
 Went outside about 2am to pee in the woods. A couple hundred feet away I heard some leaves than an crazy loud screaming that sounded like a mountain lion. Doesn’t look like they’re suppose to be around North Mississippi much so maybe a bobcat? Either way I quickly made my way back inside and rethink my next midnight trek through the woods.

Sardis Lake, MS – Campsite fee: $0
Day 239 (Saturday, April 28, 2018):
 I started the generator for the first time since Dahlonega when I was having trouble with it. I watched it closely and noticed the coolant fluid level going down. Then fluid started quickly dripping from the bottom of the radiator. Luckily my solar panels and inverter are keeping everything charged just fine, so I’m going to call this a problem for another day.

Sardis Lake, MS – Campsite fee: $0
Day 237 (Thursday, April 26, 2018):
 Made it to the next stop in Batesville, Mississippi at Sardis Lake. Beautiful spot, and free for the next 14 days. No pads, being free, and pretty soft ground, so had to “walk” the RV on 2×12 boards for about 8 feet.

Batesville, MS – Campsite fee: $0
Day 236 (Wednesday, April 25, 2018):
 Stayed the night in the Cracker Barrel parking lot in Batesville while I waited for my scooter to get a new tire at the Honda dealer next door. Nice having someone else make breakfast.

Batesville, MS – Campsite fee: $0
Day 235 (Tuesday, April 24, 2018):
 Last day in Alabama. Had a blowout on the rear scooter tire. Luckily going straight. But still had to walk it back 3 miles until someone stopped and offered there trailer for the last 2 miles. I check the tires every 2 weeks, but apparently put over 1500 miles on it in Alabama since I had to go to town 2-3 times a day to get cell service.

Fruithurst, AL – Campsite fee: $6
Day 232 (Saturday, April 21, 2018):
 Did a short 2 mile hike around Coleman Lake. Cool hike for what it is.

Fruithurst, AL – Campsite fee: $6
Day 228 (Tuesday, April 17, 2018):
 Went on a 3 mile or so hike in the National Forest, Pretty uneventful except that they were doing a controlled burn, so there was fire everywhere. Survived.

Fruithurst, AL – Campsite fee: $6
Day 226 (Sunday, April 15, 2018):
 Finished getting Solar panels hooked up! Hit the switch and seems to be working. First full test will be after next Wednesday since I have full hookups here.

Fruithurst, AL – Campsite fee: $6
Day 225 (Saturday, April 14, 2018):
 Went back into GA to the West GA Flea Market to purge a bunch of stuff again. Then hit Printer’s Ale Brewery for a couple beers and ended the day with a cigar. Decided that even with the problem of having no phone or internet at the campsite, I’m going to stay a full two weeks.

Fruithurst, AL – Campsite fee: $6
Day 224 (Friday, April 13, 2018):
 Found a local park about 10 miles away that has free wifi, so spent the day there working. Going to become a familiar place with zero cell or wifi service at the campground. Had an MRE for dinner for the first time. Definitely an interesting array of stuff inside, and surprisingly edible.

Fruithurst, AL – Campsite fee: $6
Day 222 (Wednesday, April 11, 2018):
 Arrived in Fruithurst, AL at Talladega National Forest and staying at Coleman Lake. Nice campground with hookups, but no cell reception for almost 6 miles.

Dahlonega, GA – Campsite fee: $6
Day 221 (Tuesday, April 10, 2018):
 Last day in Georgia. Went to Brasstown Bald but it was closed for training. Still crazy cold.

Dahlonega, GA – Campsite fee: $6
Day 219 (Sunday, April 8, 2018):
Started the day freezing with temps in the 30s, so started the generator to power 2 electric heaters. After about 30 minutes I noticed smoke coming through the dash coming from the generator, and before I could hit the kill switch it shut off on its own. When I went outside there was coolant covering the bottom plate. My first thought was that the block cracked or the engine seized. I had just checked fluids a couple days ago and they were fine. The coolant was now low, but oil still fine. I let it cool down and tried to start it again, and although it would start, it would die as soon as I let off the switch. After some research I found the auto-kill switch, which is different from the main breaker that tripped earlier. After reseting it, I started the gen with no problem, and have ran it a couple hours without issue, only using 1 heater at a time. Will need to do further research to find out if having 2 1500w heaters on at the same time could make a 7500w diesel generator overheat, or if the problem is something else. Keeping a close eye on it in the meantime. Cleaned and organized the RV basement. Took photos of new shirts to post online.

Dahlonega, GA – Campsite fee: $6
Day 218 (Saturday, April 7, 2018):
Went to Athens, GA today and shopped 3 goodwills before balancing the day with 3 breweries (Southern Brewing Co, Terrapin and Creature Comforts). Southern brewing had by far the best atmosphere.

Dahlonega, GA – Campsite fee: $6
Day 217 (Friday, April 6, 2018):
 My mom and stepdad came to visit and spent a night at the park in their RV. Vegetarian pizza and good beer.

Dahlonega, GA – Campsite fee: $6
Day 215 (Wednesday, April 5, 2018):
Hiked 12 miles round trip on the Appalachian trail starting at Woody Gap and going to Jarrard gap. Met some cool people and saw an awesome bus.

Dahlonega, GA – Campsite fee: $6
Day 214 (Tuesday, April 4, 2018):
 Did a quick tour of Downtown Dahlonega, then ended the day at the Growler Bar.

Dahlonega, GA – Campsite fee: $6
Day 212 (Sunday, April 2, 2018):
 Short 2 mile hike to upper and lower Desoto Falls. Some work and cleaning.

Dahlonega, GA – Campsite fee: $6
Day 208 (Wednesday, March 29, 2018):
 Got on the road at 4am and made it to my new home, Desoto Falls State Park in Dahlonega, GA. Nice park right on a creek. No hookups but had a shower and bathroom a short walk away.

Irwinton, GA – Campsite fee: $0
Day 203: (Saturday, March 18, 2018): 
I woke up to the inside of an RV looking like a strobe like, like there were 10 firetrucks outside my window. Jumped out of bed and walked outside, only to see the entire sky flashing, non-stop just like a strobe light. I watched it for a solid hour. It wasn’t like the normal flashing lighting high in the clouds. It was a consistent pulsing. I looked up the weather and there were some bad storms a little farther away, and even some tornados that hit Mississippi. So I’m assuming it was some sort lighting, but it’s still bar far, the craziest weather phenomenon I’ve personally witnessed, and would love to find out more about what it was.

Irwinton, GA – Campsite fee: $0
Day 195: (Friday, March 10, 2018): 
Back to the lodge in Dublin, GA for the start of my west coast adventure. The plan is to stay at a different place every few weeks a couple hundred miles apart, making my way towards Colorado in the Summer and then hitting the coast somewhere from Washington to California.

Cocoa Beach, FL – Campsite fee: $12
Day 152: (Wednesday, January 25, 2018): 
Made it to Cocoa Beach, FL. Staying the parking lot of a condo across the street from my old apartment. First time with no hookups longer term

Irwinton, GA – Campsite fee: $0
Day 84: (Saturday, December 9, 2017): 
Arrived in Dublin, GA at Millwood Lodge.

Ferguson, NC – Campsite fee: $650 per month (2 months), $0 3rd month as camp host
Day 8-83: (Friday, September 8-Friday, December 8, 2017): 
When I purchased the RV, the previous owner went cycled all the systems, including the generator, which started right up and purred as much as a diesel could. A couple weeks later I try it for myself, and it just turns over, but won’t start. I try it from the outside controls and still nothing. After some googling I realize that the start/stop sylinoid is staying in the stop position. After manually moving it the gen started right up. I still haven’t replaced it and don’t use it enough to be a problem. The odd thing is if I’m on the road, it starts just fine. The only thing I can think is that the road vibration is enough to nudge it loose.

A couple days before I was going to leave Florida, I checked the main belt. It looked a little dry and had some cracking, but I made the decision that I would wait until I got to North Carolina to change it. I stopped at a campground in Pine Mountain, Georgia for a week and before I left, checked the belt again. It looked the same, so I’m confident it will make it the other 300 miles. Once I get to my spot in Ferguson, NC, I check it again and it is shredded, with only 2 full strands barely holding on. I pretty much used up all my luck for the next 10 years, since I probably wouldn’t have made it another 2 miles after driving almost 800. I ordered a 2 new belts and decided to go ahead and replace the tensioner. It only took about 15 minutes. The lesson is that if the belt looks even a little bit old, change it.

Just a couple weeks into my new adventure I went into my kitchen and noticed water on the floor in front of the Norcold fridge. I check inside and the drainage tray was full and frozen. I figured some water froze in the line and stopped it up, so I turned the fridge off, thawed it and emptied the tray. The next day it’s full and frozen again. I open the outside access and that drainage tray is bone dry. So obviously something has stopped up the line, and I blame the stinkbugs that have been invading the area. I realize that unfortunately, the only way to fix it is to take the entire fridge out and check the drainage line from top to bottom. After it’s out, the problem is immediately apparent. The bracket for the condenser is bolted down on top of the drainage line, completely flattening it. The horrifying fact that someone installed the fridge and never bothered to check something so simple caused an entire day’s worth of hassle, and a possible new sub floor had I not taken the tile up and noticed the water. I not make checking the drainage tray part of my everyday checks.

I was sitting outside one night and swore that the exterior lights were slowly dimming. After a couple hours it was obvious I had a problem. So I go inside the RV and same thing. Then I check the fridge, dead. Then a few outlets, all dead. The only think functioning was a stand alone ice maker, which made no sense, but at least I could have a cold drink while I looked further into the problem.

The first step was to check the shore power. The breakers weren’t tripped, and plugging a fan directly into the 20 amp worked. So I go inside and check all breakers. All are good, but I reset them to be sure. Then I try to start the generator. Nothing. Then the engine. Nothing again. Then the steps retract and I’m left with jumping up and down about 3 feet every time I go in and out. That problem could have been solved if I had a small step stool. So definitely a future purchase. At this point it’s about 11pm and completely dark, so I concede and decide to go to bed and keep going in the morning.

Bright and early with fresh hope, I check the lights and outlets, and all is the same. But them I check the some more outlets, and they have full power, and the ice maker is going strong. What??? I figure the next step is to check the batteries. All are completely dead. I hook a charger up and about 6 hours later they’re fully charged and everything is back working perfectly. But that excitement quickly dissipated as a few hours later I was back to having no power. After buying a voltage meter I begin testing the lines starting at shore power. When I get to the converter, nothing is coming out. That’s it!! The model I had was the original and had no exterior fuses to check. After some research I decided to just replace it with a Boondocks 60amp, which I had overnighted. Another night with no power and I was eagerly awaiting the FedEx guy. Having no idea how complex replacing a converter would be I was excited and nervous as it arrived and I opened the instructions. Surprisingly the entire job only took about 20 minutes, and most of that was mounting. I turn the breakers back on, plug up shore power, and bam, everything is working again. Two months later and it’s still working perfectly. What I learned from that is the importance of eliminating each problem and system, and also to check the push button battery level daily to catch any problems before they progress to the point of not being able to start the engine or gen. The reason some of the outlets were working is that some work directly off the shore power, and some run through the converter. I’m still not honestly sure why or how, or even ruled out the possibility of witchcraft or a leprechaun.

Oddly enough, a few weeks later the ice maker stopped working, even though everyday else still had power. I checked the outlets near the ice maker and they were all dead. Checked the breakers. All good. Then I check the GFIC outlets in the kitchen, and they’re good too. Finally I find a GFIC outlet all the way back in the bathroom that is tripped. I reset it and the ice maker comes back to life. Why is the ice maker in the front connected to a GFIC outlet in the bathroom Coachmen?

From the start, I was having trouble getting the water heater to ignite. It was sometimes take 10 or 20 rounds of turning it on and off, and since I only turn it on when I need it, quickly became frustrating. The only thing I could come up with is maybe some air in the line. One video said to light the stove burners and let them run a while so I tried that. A couple weeks later the the problem persisted. Then, one day it started the first time, then the same thing a couple days later. Now a month later and it starts the first time, every time. So I can only assume that air was the problem, and it just took longer than expected to purge.

The furnace has also stopped working. The igniter is functioning properly and propane is getting through the line, so further investigation is needed.

Pine Mountain, GA – Campsite fee: $12
Day 7: (Thursday, September 7, 2017):
 I ended up having to leave a day early, since they were shutting the campground down due to the hurricane. So this is the second time, and second state, and second time I’ve been required to leave an area.

Pine Mountain, GA – Campsite fee: $12
Day 1: (Friday, September 1, 2017):
 Arrived early in Pine Mountain, GA on my first day of full-time RVing, right as Hurricane Irma shut down access to my apartment in Sunny Isles Beach, FL for 2 weeks.