Browsing "Plumbing"
Apr 19, 2011 -

Differences in Extremes

I finally decided to brave the weather around noon and headed out to do my flier routes. I bundled up with fleece, a heavy coat, gloves, a scarf, and a tuque, only to shed everything but my fleece by the time I’d loaded two packages of fliers into the car!

Being paid to be outside this afternoon almost felt like a privilege; it was so warm and sunny, with no hint of that unpleasant Lethbridge wind. I did my first two routes in record time, had a snack, did two more routes, then headed home for a lunch break. I took that half hour to fill the fresh water tank, then I went back to work.

The last two routes were tough; I was fading fast and past the point of exhaustion by the time I got halfway through the sixth route. But I got them done, including bringing the extras to recycling. Not counting my lunch break, the six routes took me five and a quarter hours to do. If I take off the car loading and recycling depot then they took me five hours. I don’t think I’ll be able to improve on that!


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Alberta, Canada, Finances, Fresh Water Tank, Plumbing, Technical, Travel, Weather, Work    2 Comments
Mar 30, 2011 -

Spa Night in Missoula

I awoke in St Regis to a very heavy sky and a voltage in the low elevens. It was time to either go for a long enough drive to recharge the batteries via the truck alternator or to plug in at a park. My solar had reached its limit in a cold, soggy climate! I think it has done very well; I haven’t plugged in since about 8AM on March 18th! My goal was to be able to boondock or dry camp for fourteen days in a climate warm enough to not require the furnace. I made it to thirteen days in a climate requiring furnace use. So, my system exceeded its expectations!

Plugging in was more appealing than doing a long slog since I also needed water, was ready for a non-navy shower, and due to put on a load of laundry. So I researched RV parks along I-90, looking for one with as close to FHU as possible that would be open at this time of year. Jim and Mary’s RV Park just outside of Missoula was perfect: 30A FHU pull-thrus with wifi at the sites (weak but acceptable), a laundromat, barely a detour from I-90, and scenic to boot. The price is a reasonable $35 a night.

The drive there from St Regis was short, barely more than an hour, and on a stretch of rough highway that cut a swath through great mountains. It’ll be a four hour slog to Great Falls tomorrow, but after two short days I’ll be ready to get some mileage under me.

I’m taking full advantage of my 30 amps to run the dehumidifier and electric heater and to make a pass with the vacuum cleaner to get the rig ready for a possible inspection at the border.

My original itinerary would have had me pushing north from here to Kalispell, then around Glacier National Park. But I’ve been monitoring the road conditions on US 2 and there is always a black ice warning around the Marias Pass at the southern tip of the park. It’s just too early in the season to go that way. So, I will continue on I-90, spend tomorrow night at the Flying J (which may no longer be a Flying J) in Great Falls at the junction of I-15, cross into Alberta Friday, boondock on the Alberta side Friday night, and then enjoy a leisurely drive to Lethbridge on Saturday.

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Appliances, Batteries, Boondocking/Dry camping, Campgrounds, Dehumidifier, Electricity, Heaters, Itineraries, Montana, Plumbing, Solar Panels, Technical, Travel, USA, Weather    6 Comments
Mar 29, 2011 -

Into Montana

I awoke to a leaden sky and what could only be called slush falling from the sky. I headed over to the casino to see if I could get internet (no), but the fellow at the front desk gave me a number to call to get road conditions. The information wasn’t very descriptive (basically “All is good on I-90 eastbound”) and did not describe what was going on at the 4th of July Summit or Lookout Pass. But I’d left the day before in comparable conditions and would have been comfortable running the passes, so I decided to pull out.

There’s an easy-access Conoco station right near the casino with prices at $3.59 a gallon (compare to $3,90 in Oregon!), so I headed there first since I only had a quarter tank left. I pulled in and was quickly boxed in by a trio of cars, the drivers of which were not content to fill up and go. No, they had to fill up, go into the store to shop, come back to their cars, scratch their lottery tickets, and finish their coffees. I was there almost a half hour! I decided to be unusually patient and not give anyone a dirty look. 🙂

Driving north to Coeur d’Alene was the first of today’s three tricky sections: a two mile long 6% grade followed by a flat stretch, and then a sharp drop with a change to 25MPH in the middle and a stop for construction at the bottom. No problem.

When I hit Coeur d’Alene I had the option of just going with my gut and knowledge and turning onto I-90, or parking Miranda at a mall and schlepping to the nearby McDonald’s for internet. It was nasty out so I decided to go with the first option.

The climb to 4th of July Summit sneaks up on you. One minute you’re zipping along at 65MPH and the next you start to lose power. I settled Miranda at about 45, took off the overdrive, slipped into D2, and smoothly crested the summit. I started down in the same conditions and the rig drove itself, with me gently guiding its slalom down to the bottom, no brakes needed. Miranda doesn’t have an RPM gauge (stupid, stupid, stupid automatic transmission dashboard design!), so I was going by sound and the engine wasn’t straining at all.

There’s a long stretch of flat between 4th of July and the climb to Lookout. That climb is a bit steeper, but I did it in the same conditions as 4th of July. Signs recommend going down at 25MPH MAX, so I started down at 20MPH in D1, but that was way too slow! I moved up to 40MPH and D2 and just coasted down, tapping the brakes twice when the engine got too loud.

As planned, I pulled into the rest area just below Lookout Pass for lunch. Unexpectedly, I was still in full possession of my nerves. I have my mojo back! 🙂

After lunch, it was a quick drive to the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar/Casino/Gift Shop/Restaurant. There’s parking out back with dead power outlets. I wouldn’t trust them if they were live! The RV parking area isn’t maintained and it’s very snowy, but I found a flat dry spot behind the motel to spend a night or two.

Speaking of power, I’m still holding it together, but I haven’t had a full charge in days (I’ve hit 12.6 volts at best and 12.2 at worst) and I can only use one thing at a time. My inverter is driving me nuts: I can have 12.2 volts registering at the batteries and 2 amps coming in from the array, but the inverter insists my battery is completely depleted and refuses to charge my computer unless it’s off. Otherwise, all is good. My LED lights are awesome power sippers and I can keep the rig at a comfortable temperature.

The only downer is that I’m out of water and every single dump station I have passed in the last few days still had the water shut off for the winter! I have plenty of drinking water left and a gallon of clean water from a tap for washing up so I’m fine, but I sure wouldn’t mind a shower. I’m only a couple of days out of Lethbridge and aim to arrive there Saturday, so if I can find an open RV park I just may splurge on one night on FHU.

Now, if I could only get used to the time change!

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Batteries, Boondocking/Dry camping, Driving, Electricity, Idaho, Montana, Plumbing, Solar Panels, Technical, Travel, USA, Weather    3 Comments