Ahh the simple and enchanting sound/smell of the sea breeze, unless of course you are on the south end of the Puget sound sandwiched between Seattle and Tacoma. In that case it is the last remaining bit of decency in a thriving metropolis, neighboring SeaTac Airport, known a Saltwater State park. Really a great park for me while I was working in Bellevue; aside from the planes flying low over head every 60 seconds or so. The location is pretty great if you want the thrill of the city, but want to camp too.
Attention Plane watchers: Go to Saltwater State park, there is more air traffic there than I experienced in my 4 years with the Boeing company!
All that aside, Saltwater was some of the most fun we have had on our adventure. The kids were chomping at the bit everyday to go to the beach and look for “crabbies” and Bentley learned to ride a bike here. we met some interesting people, to include a fellow Marine vet, some weird dog people, some students from my university that were just wrapping up an adventure of their own, and many more. The greatest part of the park was the rich heritage, the park was built by the Civilian conservation Corps the 1920-30’s as a effort to educate and employ out of work young men in the recession. The parks original intent was to “bury the hatchet” between Tacoma and Seattle, and so they did; LITERALLY! there is a hatchet buried under a rock in the park. Real life treasure, and Im sure that it is made of solid gold (just adding to the dramatizations of the symbolic gesture, but it s good to dream).
Many lessons learned at this park, the hardest was the loss of our first traveling companion, Boo the cat. he was chipped with tags and with a bright pink collar (he was a boy..) there was no way for him to get lost. There is a lack of wildlife aside from the man-made reef that makes up most of the shore line. But he wasn’t much for swimming, or scuba, so we believe that he was stolen from us, by some heartless campers. Some people suck, but it is hard to say who, as everyone loved him. I did find the “crazy dog people” that I mentioned earlier, suspicious.. about 8 pure breed show quality dogs in a little camper, and the lady was obsessed with boo. here nor there, I do find some comfort in the thought that he is happy some where and not eaten or run over.
Lessons from a NOMAD:
Vocabulary: BOONDOCKING- say it with me “BOON-DOC-KING” this is the act of camping the old fashion way; without “hook ups”(water, power, and septic) of course bringing your own self contained house, there are measures you have to take to make to conserve and collect your own amenities.
things to think about..
- electricity consumption
- battery recharging
- water consumption
- fresh water storage
- Gray water storage (gray water is sink and shower drain water)
- the dreaded black water (Poopies)
- location and the surrounding elements.
- fuel consumption (LP/Gasoline)
Salt water was out first run at boondocking, and lets just say that some of the RV isnt as friendly with the conservation efforts.. One night at about 3am sound asleep in our comfortable new environment. I unknowingly let the batteries drop to levels so low that they wouldn’t power the inverter. The inverter makes power from the batteries to the outlets and …? AND …. ??? the smoke/carbon dioxide detector! *ding ding ding(more like piercing BEEP BEEP BEEP!!). nothing will get you up faster than your senile dog trying to eat through the door in a panic as the mechanical banshee cry of a thousand fires erupts from the pitch black of a new environment. Keep in mind, we are “Boon-Doc-King” it is pitch black, and me scrambling in my drawers to find the source of the noise in a RV that I havent mastered and stop the dog from eating the whole door..
Lessons from a Nomad: Flashlights/head lamps/lanterns EVERYWHERE! it may feel like home. Hell, it may be home, but if your home is self sustained? It is slightly more unpredictable and volatile than one on the block.
SOLAR POWER AND MORE BATTERIES !
Without further adue that is how we justified 1000 dollars to add 400 watts of solar and 440 amp hours of battery to the Motorcoach. I did some research on the internet and decided to go with Renergy solar panels, with a adventure converter.
The way solar power works is that sunlight passed through a magical barrier that is lacking an ion. So when the positively charged sun ray hits the negative interface the ion is stripped and creates an ion of electricity, through an array this happens millions/billions of times creating a directional charge. Said charge runs to an interface and down a connection to the magical box that regulates power in to the batteries for storage. >*the more you know! disclaimer.. I reference magic a couple times.. so Im probably not the best source of factual information, but this is the gist of it.
Im a do it yourself kind of guy so I break a lot of stuff. Installing the solar panels was simple, getting the boxes on the roof was tricky, running the cables through the mobile fortress (that is my Tiffin Allegro) was a bitch! on the panels, I put the Z mounts on and put some extra sealant on the feet. Any time that you are required to drill in to the perfect non-leaking roof of your RV it is a little nerve-racking. Got them all secured no problem. then was the fun part.. I investigated every way possible to run the lines. WOW! how convenient there was 2 PVC pipes that runs right in where i want the cables to go ! (if you are an RV person dont spoil the surprise for the other readers..) I picked the left one and I fed the full 50 foot cable in to the pipe and could not find where it came out anywhere.. so I went up and started pulling the cable out.. to my surprise it was wet.. YEP I fed the full length in to the gray water tank.
TIPS FROM A NOMAD: If you don’t know what the hole is don’t put things in it.. just dont.
Luckily I chose the gray and not the dreaded black water! but I ended up running it down the awning baffling and in to the fridge vent, through the under storage and in by the door. Easy, only took 3 days and 46 gray hairs.
To go with the solar I added 2 deep cycle golf cart batteries from cosco. Now if you want to know some brain twists: how do you take 4 6 volt batteries and wire them to be a higher capacity 12 volt system?! think about it like the batteries in a remote, but you need to create 2 separate 12 volt banks and link them together.
What ever you decided to do make it “-tastic” from a Nomad, Have an awesome-tastic day.
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