Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trailer Options II

Today's Photo - Chimney Bluffs State Park, NY

Well, I received email from Tammy At Escape Industries letting me know it was time to make the preliminary decisions on options for the trailer.  Although they won't actually start to build the trailer until March, they need to start ordering the materials in January.  So, for those that might be interested, here is what I'm ordering:

Exterior 120v outlet
Air Conditioner (Roofmount)
Bike Rack Ready
Removable Power Cord
Dual 6V Batteries
Dual Propane Package
Equalizer Hitch
Tongue Box
Exterior Access Hatch (Rear Passenger side)
Exterior shower
2 Way Water Heater
5 Cu Ft Fridge (Replaces 3 cu ft)
Electric Tongue Jack
High Lift Axle + 15" Tires
Install Cell Phone Antenna that I will Supply
LED Lighting
Stove Cover
Thermal Windows & Extra Insulation
TV Ready
TV Antenna with power amplifier
Back Up Camera Install that I Will Supply
12 Volt Outlets (3)
Starter Kit
Trim Color - Spectra Red (It matches my RAV4)

I'm still trying to decide if I want to keep the standard rear dinette or have it replaced by a full size bed.  There are advantages to both - the bed is more comfortable than one made from the dinette cushions, but on the other hand, that only leaves a 2 seat front dinette; fine for me, but tight when I have guests. The solution others have used is to add a 2" or 3" memory foam topper over the cushions and leave that set up until you need tha additional eating space. Of course, then you need to figure out what you are going to do with the topper when you want to use the dinette!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA

Today's Photo - Ricketts Glen StatePark, PA Fall, 2010

Today I'm going to post some information about one of my favorite Pennsylvania State Parks, Ricketts Glen. It is about 180 miles from Oswego, a 4 hour or so drive. So far I've been there 3 times. The first was in 2001 as a stop on a tour of Pennsylvania in a rented 31' Fiesta Class A RV. If you are interested in reading about the trip, I have a couple of pages starting here.

Summer, 2001

This was taken with my last Point & Shoot camera, a Coolpix 995 (I still have & use it).

The second trip was part of Spring 2010 trek that combined family visits with a photo excursion to both Babcock State Park in West Virginia & Ricketts Glen. More about that trip Here.
Spring, 2010

The problem with trips in the Spring, other than being a bit cold, is although you generally have more water going over the falls, the bare trees don't add much color to the images.

The most recent trip was this Fall.

In any case, some information about the park: The park has a large lake for swimming and boating (electric motors only), a 2 section campground (Map - 197 KB PDF)) , one of which is usually open in winter, although when I checked their website I discovered budget problems have closed the entire park until April.

A PDF (267KB) map showing the locations of the waterfalls is here. A large PDF (2.6MB) of the entire park is here.

A couple of notes:
  1. If you are entering the park from Red Rock (PA 118/487), the south entrance, be sure your vehicle is capable of a long steep grade. The park advises heavy trailers to enter from the North on PA 487 from Dushore.
  2. The Falls Trail(s) is described as "Most Difficult" by the park. Although it does require a fair amount of climbing (after all, you are following the drop of 100's of feet of waterfalls), there are steps for the steepest parts, and, if you take your time, and can walk on uneven ground, it is doable by anyone is reasonably good health.
  3. If you are not camping in the park, the easiest way to see the falls is to park at the bottom (there is a parking lot at the lower end of the falls stream on PA 118) and walk up to the falls. The advantage is you get to go downhill on the way home. Even better is to have someone drop you off at the top of the Ganoga Glen Trail & pick you up at the PA 118 parking lot - it is downhill all the way!
  4. The stream splits at "Waters Meet" - you need to choose which leg you want to travel. The Ganoga Glen (left side going up) is the more popular & has the highest falls (Ganoga Falls, 94'). If you want to see the entire collection of falls, you can cross at the top of Ganoga Glen on the Highland Trail & return to "Waters Meet" on the right portion of the stream (Glen Leigh).
  5. Plan on 4 - 6 hours if you are going to do both loops and stop to view the waterfalls - it is about 5.8 miles round trip from the lower parking lot.
  6. Along with the named waterfalls there are hundreds of cascades along both streams. Take your time and enjoy the park!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Storm Missed Us!

Today's Photo - A Downey Woodpecker

The big East Coast Storm that has shut down airports, trains and parts of the New York Thruway missed Oswego. My daughter is visiting the in-laws in Oceanside, Long Island and is getting a serious amount of snow. I talked with my brother David in Nantucket, and they were expecting rain rather than snow. It is amazing how different the weather is 35 miles off shore compared to the mainland. Boston is under a blizzard warning with 12" to 18" of snow predicted.

Here in Oswego we have lots of wind - 30mph + last night, but no snow. Syracuse may have a difficult time getting the last 5" needed to break the all time record snowfall for a single month, not that I'm complaining!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Today's Photo - The Oswego Lighthouse in Winter

Alright, enough of the mundane discussions of pots & pans! On to trip planning.

There are thousands of places I'd like to see, both again & for the first time. Many I have learned about from reading blogs by other photographers, RVers and travelers, others from newspaper and magazine articles as well as books, and some from discussions with other travelers. I have two files I keep - one a set of links to web pages, GPS coordinates & other "digital" descriptions kept in a folder on my laptop, and the other an actual file folder with clippings, etc.

For example, I've seen some photographs taken from Artist's Point at the end of the Mount Baker Highway (WA Rt 542) that look interesting. We almost went there on our last trip out west in 2004, but we had limited time, and wanted to visit the San Juan Islands (another area well worth a visit) so we passed. This time I do plan to stop, although it will have to be on the way back to Canada since the road is often closed until mid July. I'll have to leave the trailer in a local campground - between mile 47 & 54 the road climbs over 3000'. Still it looks like a beautiful drive as well as a wonderful place to take photographs at the end.

That is only one of the hundreds of places I want to see. No way to hit them all, so I'l have to plan routes that get to as many as possible. As I've said before, my plan is to spend a little time in Canada getting used to the trailer, then head to the Southwest. Although there are many places I'd like to visit, I plan to start by stopping at Moab & revisiting Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park as well as first time trips to Canyonlands National Park, Capital Reefs National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument (Assuming the snow is gone), Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Snow Canyon State Park, Dead Horse State Park, and Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. That is just the state of Utah (well, Monument Valley is just barely in Utah.) While doing this I'm sure I will discover enough additional places to see to keep me busy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More Kitchen Decisions

Today's Photo - Brant Point Lighthouse, Nantucket, MA

Yes, I'm still going on making choices for cooking. This would be much easier if I was going to pick up the trailer close to home, camp for a week or two, then revaluate what I needed to take in the trailer. Unfortunately, the trailer in made in Chilliwack, BC, over 3000 miles from home, and, having done that far to pick it up I want to spend some time in western parts of the US & Canada. That means I either have to take what I want with me or buy it on the road.

Again, I've been keeping track of what I normally use when cooking here at home, but I really have far too many choices. For example, I have 6 frying pans, 4 cast iron & 2 aluminum teflon coated. I pretty much use them all for different things; far too many to take in a small trailer, so I which ones are essential? Since I'll be traveling by myself, and the limited amount of freezer space makes cooking large batches & freezing portions impractical, the smaller cast iron sounds like a good decision. But, what if I want to cook something for a pot luck offering at a campground? And, a small meal works in a large pan, but not the other way around. Another but is storage - there isn't all that much in a 17' trailer. A large version of everything may fit all situations, but may quickly overwhelm the cabinet space.

There are some things I know I don't need - for example, a rice cooker, bread maker, and food processor. They are all convenient, but can be replaced by more multi functional devices. I can cook rice in a sauce pan as long as I'm willing to keep an eye on things, and a good chefs knife & mixing bowl will do just about everything I use a food processor for. Still, does it make sense to carry a 10 - 12 quart pot just to make spaghetti every couple of weeks? For that matter, although I love my homemade spaghetti sauce, does it even make sense to carry all the ingredients or should I start looking for a jarred sauce I like? So many questions!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No Eclipse

Today's Image - A Lily

Well, obviously there was an eclipse, and I did stay up to try to shoot it. It was a teaser - although the cloud cover was solid, there was quite a bit of "glow" from the moon lighting the clouds; I even watched it dim at the eclipse progressed, but, unfortunately, it never cleared enough to actually see the moon. I guess I'll have to wait for the next total here in North America - April 15, 2014!

Some more on equipping the trailer - The two burner stove that comes with the Escape doesn't include an oven. That makes sense since most RVers rarely use their ovens, and they take up quite a bit of space. My problem? I do like to cook, and am going to have to decide between a microwave & a large enough toaster oven to replace the non existent built in standard oven. I have a Cruisinart TOB 195 convection toaster oven here at home, and use it for almost everything but baking pies & cakes rather than my full size oven. It's large, although they make a model without the convection option that is a bit smaller.

I've tried to keep track of how much I use the microwave vs either oven here at home, and it is a tough decision - I use both about the same amount. There really isn't enough room for both, so I'm going to have to choose. Here at home I often make large batches of chili, soups & sauces, etc; freeze them in meal size portions & microwave to thaw & heat. Still, on the road I probably won't be reheating things as much as I do here at home. I was leaning towards a toaster oven & dropping the microwave, since I can steam vegetables on the stove, and don't use the microwave for much besides vegetables & thawing & heating my home made frozen meals.

One problem - although I don't eat many pre prepared meals, one quick cook meal I do eat just changed from having an oven option (which I like) to a microwave only tray which isn't as good. Decisions, decisions! One option, stick with the microwave and get a folding stove top camping oven. If this actually works, I could use it inside or out. It also has the advantage that I don't need AC for it to work.

As you can probably tell by now I tend to overplan things - which ever way I go will require some adjustments & will, I'm sure, work out. I suspect that most of my cooking will be outside the trailer so most of the time I won't be using either!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More On Travel For Photography

Today's Photo - not one of mine, but one of my favorites! My Granddaughter Valerie's 1st birthday.

Today's photo suggests that it probably isn't a good idea to give your daughter a cupcake with cherry icing as a 1st birthday dessert. Yesterday was Valerie's 3rd birthday & even though they had a party & cake, I suspect both Valerie & Karin ended up a lot cleaner.

Anyhow, back to travel. This Fall I made an 1802 mile trip just to photograph the Glade Creek Grist Mill Babcock State Park, WV in Fall colors. I thought I was a bit nuts, but while there at 6:30AM waiting for a wonderful sunrise that never happened, I met a guy that drove down from Ohio, even further away than Oswego. If interested, here is a link to the entire trip.

That is one of the problems with traveling to take photographs - you can't depend on hitting the location at the right time of year, or, for that matter, the weather you want for the images. Almost the entire last trip I made to the Adirondacks ended up with me shooting in the rain. Local photographers have a much better chance of catching time or weather specific images. Of course that points out an advantage to being retired - I don't have a job to get back to so I should be able to spend more time waiting for things to get "perfect!"

Now, I have a weather dependent series of photographs coming up on the 21st. There will be a Lunar Eclipse with the moon high in the night sky. Only problem - the prediction is for snow. Just to rub it in, last night was crystal clear. Just in case, I'll be ready for it, but no high hopes! Oh well, at least I managed to photograph one in 2004.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Traveling For Photographs

Today's Photo - The Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway, VA.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, a big reason for my travels is to take photographs. I love photographing water, particularly waterfalls, landscape in general, and, at least on my last trip, grist mills. Although there is plenty here in Oswego county to photograph, I often get the urge to see some variation in altitude. Although the highest point in the county is 1550', that is at the Tug Hill Plateau. Most of the county is only a little above Lake Ontario level at around 244'. Compared to Colorado, where there are 53 mountains over 14,000' high, we are kinda flat! Of course, Colorado doesn't have Lake Ontario. I have friends that live in Leadville, CO (at 10,000') & have offered to give them half the lake for one 14er. Seems like a good deal for both of us!

Of course what we call mountains don't quite compare to those of the Rockies, but there are some beautiful variations in altitude in the Adirondacks. My plan is to visit as many interesting places to take pictures as possible.

More the next time!

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Verizon

Today's Photo - The 26th Annual Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally, Otsiningo Park, Binghamton, NY.

While the Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally in Otsiningo Park is no where near as big as the Albuquerque Festival, it is still quite a spectucular event!

Well, I finally got to talk with someone that understood the different plans the Verizon has & what happens when you use them in Canada. I guess I can see where some of the previous answers came from, but still don't understand why sales people don't understand the product they are selling.

Anyway, for anyone interested, with a Nationwide plan calls made to Canada from the US are charged $.49 per minute for roaming. Calls made in Canada to either Canada or the US are charged $.69 per minute roaming. If you purchase the Nationwide Plus Canada plan there is no roaming charge for calls made in the US or Canada, however the Nighttime & Weekend minutes changes from unlimited to 1000. Text is $.25 per sent & $.20 per received. Any data usage in Canada is charged as roaming @ $2.05 per MB.

Now, all I have to do is decide if I want to wait to see if the rumored Verizon based iPhone is actually going to happen!

By the way, Syracuse broke the all time record for snow in December today - 70.8 inches. Less than 8" away from the most snow in any month (78.1" in January, 2004) & there is a lot of December left! We only got around 4" here in Oswego today...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Snow II

Today's Photo - Chittenango Falls, Chittenango State Park, NY

Well, today is the first day in a week I didn't have to go out in the morning and shovel my driveway! Unfortunately, the reason was because there was over 12" of snow overnight & I needed the snowblower. It must have fallen rather late - the plow didn't go by until around 9:00AM, school is canceled, and the Post Standard newspaper never made it to the mailbox. And, to be honest, I still had to shovel the deck, stairs, and around the cars.

Very little going on dealing with the camper today. I am still trying figure out Verizon. I stopped by their local store here in Oswego & was told that if I was using one of their "Global" phones such as the Droid X, I would not be charged for roaming, either for voice or data while in Canada. I found this hard to believe since the latest "Your Guide" from Verizon shows Canadian roaming at $.69 for voice & $2.05 per Mb for data. The data cost could add up quickly since I often view image pages. So, I called the Verizon information desk, and after getting switched a couple of times found someone that could answer my questions - well, sorta.

According to who ever was on the phone at the other end, there is a voice roaming charge of $.49 per minute for voice when in Canada unless you sign up for the Nationwide Plus Canada plan. He also said that there are no roaming charges for the data side of the phone. I still find that hard to believe since AT&T does charge for Canadian roaming on the iPhone & both companies seem to track each others prices fairly closely. It seems like you get a different answer from each person you talk to! Makes planning kinda tough. I finally went on a couple of RV Blogs to ask what actual users have been charged. So far, no answers...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Snow!

Today's Photo - A composite of the October, 2004 lunar eclipse.

Another day, another 4" - 6" of snow. At least we didn't get a duplicate of last week's 12". I guess if you are going to live in Oswego you should get used to snow. Actually, I don't really mind the snow as much as the grey skies. Last night & tonight was/is the Gemini Meteor Shower - as usual, all I'll see is nothing. Another downside of living on the southern shore of a large lake. Of course, there are many, many upsides, including wonderful sunsets!

The photo at the top of today's post is one of the few times the skies were clear enough to take night time pictures. For those interested, I took a series of photos every 1/2 hour, combined & arranged them using Photoshop.

To add excitement to your life, drive home in the snow after having your eyes dilated for a vision field test - Sure does make everything bright!

I also spent some time adding links to my RV pages. This started out as a way to make some bookmarks for myself, and turned into hundreds of links of interest to RVers. Since it gets 75 - 100 hits per day, I guess it is useful to others than myself!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Bit of This & That

Today's Photo - A Young Lady at the BOCES Migrant Workers Saturday Fun & Learn Program.

For those interested in technical details, this was taken with a Nikon D700 at an ISO of 1250!

I spent much of yesterday following kids & there parents around at a program for children of migrant workers. A combination of exercise with indoor soccer & basketball and bowling games for the little kids, a trip to the college art galleries, lunch & some games & drawing exercises in the afternoon. A great program, and fun to photograph.

Not much new on the trailer front. I stopped by at the local Verizon to confirm what was available in the wireless data world (well, the world of Verizon!) So far there is still no Macintosh OS 4G solution; in fact, neither if their USB 4G cards will work with my Cradlepoint router. So, it is still a waiting game to decide whether to stay with AT&T & my iPhone, switch to a Droid & Verizon, or some combination of the two. Verizon does have a good deal on a phone - if you are over 65 & use less than 200 minutes a month, they have a $29.99 per month plan. Since I have rarely gone over that, I might add that as an alternative to the iPhone. I will have to check to see if you can use a data phone at that rate (with, of course, the additional data charge.)

I also purchased a 12 volt power supply for my MacBookPro. Quite expensive, but, it is a fairly high wattage, dual voltage supply (it kicks up to a higher voltage on demand) with Apple's proprietary magnetic connector. Since the last two laptops I owned without the magnetic power connector both needed motherboard repairs (actually replacements - they don't fix things these days) because the power cord solder connections to the motherboard failed, I am willing to pay a little (OK a lot) extra for this improvement. A very nice quality DC to DC converter from Lind Electronics Design.

That is about it. I'm cooking a lamb roast for dinner & awaiting the next lake effect storm that is suppose to hit tonight.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Traveling the "Red" Roads

Todays Photo - The Glade Creek Grist Mill in Babcock State Park, WV.

By the way, it has been snowing for over 100 hours straight in Syracuse, with an official 58.2" since the start of the storm. Wonder why I love to travel?

Although I don't mind flying, with my camera gear and the way airlines treat their customers, I've pretty much given up on traveling by air. Of course there are places to visit that there is no choice. Although I have managed to travel to all 50 states, a return to Hawaii doesn't have a lot of options other than flying. And I do have this urge to drive the Hana Road.

As to travel in the rest of the US, going by automobile is my preferred method. I also prefer the "Red" or "Blue" roads, that is, the non interstates. Don't get me wrong - the interstates are a great invention. When you need to get from here to there as fast as possible in your vehicle, the interstates offer a great solution. The problem - well, as John Steinbeck wrote: "When we get these thruways across the whole country, as we will and must, it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing." By the way, another favorite of mine kinda stole this - Charles Kuralt: "Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything."

In any case, there is still a wonderful experience available traveling the US & state routes available throughout most of the country. So far I have made multiple trips across the country on US 2, 20, and 50, as well as many of the sections of other US & state routes that wander through some of the most beautiful parts of our country. A couple of favorites? - Well, my all time favorite road is the "Going the the Sun Highway" through Glacier National Park. Others include the Beartooth Highway (US 212 outside Yellowstone) The Chief Joseph Highway in Northwest Wyoming, Highway 12 & 24 in Utah, NY 28 through the Catskills & the Adirondacks , as well as NY 30, and NY 3 in the Adirondacks, and WA 20 in Washington state. There are many more, and, I'm sure, hundreds I have yet to discover. That's the great thing about getting off the interstates & taking the time to explore.

More next time...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Cards

Today's Photo - Early Morning at Rice Creek, Oswego, NY

Another day without much thought on the trailer. Since it is snowing (and has been for the last 3 days - we have had around 10" but parts of the area are well over 2') it is a good time to write Christmas cards. I'm assuming that people still do them in this day of Facebook, email & the internet. So, drag out the boxes of cards, add the new ones I picked up the other day, and hope I manage to send a different one to everyone from last years!

Till next time -

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why A Fiberglass Egg (Continued)?

Today's Photo is of a Snowdrop. I must be hoping for Spring!

Continuing on my reasons for purchasing a fiberglass trailer, one of my first considerations was that it have a bathroom. That stems back to a 2:00AM trip to the bath house at a 500+ site campground somewhere in the midwest. Carol & I were wandering back to the campsite, still half asleep, when we realized we had walked back a lot longer than we had waked to the place. Yes, we were lost. We kept looking for a familiar landmark, but didn't see anything that would point us in the right direction. Finally, we found the dumpsters, and from there knew the route back to the tent.

After that I really decided that midnight runs to the bathroom should be a thing of the past! I really didn't have too many other requirements, however many of the options the different manufacturers made available looked pretty good.

Once I discovered the Escape brand of fiberglass "egg" I was hooked. The owners all seems to love their Escapes (although very few egg owners of any other brand complain about their trailers) and the owners of Escape Trailer Industries are very flexible in outfitting their trailers & very friendly people to talk to. One minor problem - these, like other fiberglass trailers have quite a waiting list. Since they are pretty much made to order, you can expect to wait months before your egg will hatch. I set my delivery late enough in the Spring that I would be able to avoid pulling it in the snow.

So, that is how I chose my RV. Now I'm going through my old tenting equipment to decide what to take, picking out other supplies, and trying to figure out how to fit them all in the back of the RAV4 for the trip to Chilliwack, BC to pick it up.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why A Fiberglass Egg?

Today's Photo - My Favorite Chipmunk image.

There is an interesting story behind this guy. I have only lost one or two original image files out of the 40, 000 I have on multiple back up disks. I have has the opportunity to sell this image a couple of times, however you guessed it - it is one that the original disappeared. This is the highest resolution I have. I even managed to sell it once & have seen purloined copies many times on the web.

I thought I'd start today with the reasoning behind my choice of a Fiberglass Egg as an RV.

I have done quite a bit of traveling as a tent camper. My first was a 4 month trip to California in 1950 as a 5 year old. We traveled in a 1938 Plymouth pulling a home built camping trailer. I think that trip established my love for travel. Although I don't remember all of the trip, the highlights have stayed with me ever since. Among my favorite memories were the Firefall at Yosemite (They don't do it any more, but it was a magnificent sight - A history & Photo (not mine)). I also remember the view at the Grand Canyon, and playing with a bobcat kitten. I scanned some photos from the trip taken by my father: 1950 Trip.

Including that trip I have made 8 most of the way across the US. Again, all of these were either motels or tents. What ruined me was a 2001 trip to Pennsylvania we made in a rented Class A RV. Although it was a small, entry level RV, we quickly decided it had many advantages over setting up tents in the rain, attempting to dry them out the next morning before packing them away, the long set up & take down times, etc. Don't get me wrong - I would rather tent camp than go from motel to motel, but as I get older, the enclosed space becomes more appealing!

Our original plan was to purchase a small Class A RV when I retired, and not full time, but spend a couple of months per year on the road. Unfortunately, my wife developed emphysema as well as a heart condition, went on oxygen, and was not comfortable traveling. We did make a couple of trips to visit relatives & kids, but traveling across the country was out. Carol passed away in January of 2010.

My plan didn't, at first, change. I spent quite a bit of time looking at small Class A RVs on ebay, and even came to some conclusions as to what age, brand, etc I wanted. The first change came about when I realized I didn't really need all the space of even a small Class A. I started looking at Class B (converted vans) but soon decided that hooking & unhooking it every time I wanted to go exploring from a campground was almost as bad as packing away the tent (well, not really, but still a pain).

It was about that time I discovered fiberglass trailers. Light enough to tow behind my mid sized SUV (a Toyota RAV4) but big enough for one or two - Tight, but it solves the hooking & unhooking problem and is far better than a tent.

This is getting a bit long - I'll continue next time!

Friday, December 3, 2010

First Serious Snow

Today's Photo - Winter is Here!

Actually, the photo in todays post is from 2005, but we did get our first stick-to-the-ground snow this morning. Only 10", but not the usual lightweight lake effect stuff - this was heavy shoveling! As is typical with Oswego winter, one minute you can't see more than a couple of feet and 5 minutes later the sky is blue & the sun shining! We even has a 1/2" of Graupel (Wikipedia Definition).

I didn't spend much time working on the trailer today - that will have to wait for a later post. Till then...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trailer Musings Continued

Today's Photo - A 2004 Winter Day on Lake Ontario

Well, we survived yesterday's rain - 1" of water in the garage & Lakeshore Road is flooded at Snake Swamp.

Still working on trailer options. Electricity is probably going to be another area to ponder. I know I'll probably use more than most small trailer owners. With all my gadgets, maintaining, a somewhat busy collection of web pages, and the fact that I expect to spend quite a bit of time in the Southwest where air conditioning is likely to be necessary, I'm not going to be able to depend on the solar system to keep things going. Although it might be able to keep up with lighting & some computer use, the MacBookPro draws around 85 watts. At that rate, every hour on the computer and a realistic estimate of what a 95 watt solar system can produce, will take at least 2 hours of good sunlight to replace. Add the router, cell phone amp, general housekeeping, etc & a few cloudy days will likely put me in the dark.

I am looking at adding a small inverter generator. According to Escape, a 2000w inverter generator does not have quite enough output to run the A/C they supply with the Escape 17. That's too bad since the larger generators get much heavier. One possibility is to go with two Honda 2K generators & a paralleling kit. The advantage is you only need one when you are doing anything but the A/C, however the disadvantage is the storage volume of two generators & the cost. Storing the generator(s) is also a consideration. I am towing with a Toyota RAV4. With a truck throwing the generator in the back is no problem. Putting a gas filled generator in the enclosed RAV4 is something I'd rather not do.

One possible solution is to purchase a generator(s) converted to run on propane. They run much cleaner, and I already have a dual tank system planned. Still, they use quite a bit of propane - a gallon of gasoline contains more energy than a gallon of propane. Something to think about!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome to December!

Today's image - a cascade at Ricketts Glen State Park, PA.

Not a lot going on today. I am still deciding how to configure my phone & internet capabilities with the trailer. I already have a MacBookPro as my main portable machine & a iPhone (a 8 GB 3G). The computer is up-to-date, however the phone is a couple of generations behind.

Since I'll be traveling quite a bit in the Southwest, I'd prefer Verizon since they seem to have better coverage in that area. Of course, the problem is that AT&T is the only carrier of iPhones, and, despite the raves of Android users, I still prefer the iPhone. Then again, there are rumors that towards the end of the year Verizon will be offering the iPhone. Since my contract with AT&T is long gone, I have no problem switching. Then again, I am on the unlimited data plan with my current phone. If I upgrade to a new iPhone from AT&T, I can keep the old unlimited data plan. Then again, if I want to tether through AT&T, I have to give up my unlimited plan & start a new 2 year contract with one of their new plans.

Then again, do I want to tie up my phone to tether to the laptop? I could go with a Verizon USB data card plugged into a Cradlepoint router & provide WiFi to both the phone & laptop. I don't use the phone as a phone all that much; Skype would cover most of the needs for contacting family & friends...

I might even go with a system that adds an inside phone antenna that retransmits the signal collected by the outside antenna, but if I want to include the ability to cover Verizon's emerging 4G coverage which will use the 700Mhz frequencies, I'll have to wait for antennas & amplifiers that cover them. Most current equipment does not deal with the new Long Term Evolution (LTE) frequencies. Since much of the data I'll be posting to my main website will be images, the faster upload (as well as download) speeds of the 4G network would be appreciated. Then again, it will be awhile before the 4G towers cover the areas I expect to be traveling.

I fully expect to use a combination of cell connections & free WiFi - I have been keeping track of my normal data usage, and despite the fact that many people state 5GB per month is more than enough, I find over the last couple of months I am averaging well over 7GB. I'm sure the photographs I am uploading as well as the many photo websites I visit are the cause, but I suspect I'll do the same while traveling.

So many decisions & then agains! I can put them off for awhile, but since the Escape trailer builders start putting together the options & equipment for the new trailer about 3 months before the delivery date (April 20th) I'm going to have to decide soon.