Thursday, April 11, 2013

RV Size Matters. Understanding Batteries. Metered Electric. Camping Options. Satellite Setup. Free HDTV. Equalize RV Batteries. Rogue Wave. WiFi from Walmart. Louisiana Territory.


For “tRaVersing Thursday”, or RV Day:

How important are size restrictions when searching for a public campground?

“When you were scouring the campground directories for campsites–especially those in National Parks, Monuments, and Forests–to spend a few days or for one-nighters when traveling and you see restrictions on maximum size allowed, such as “Maximum size 27 feet” did you cross it off your list of potential camping locations? If so, you may have missed an opportunity to visit what might be a wonderful national treasure or a nesty, forest campsite beside a tumbling stream.

The maximum length referred to means that all–or most–of the campsites in the campground will accommodate that length. But . . . SOME will also accommodate longer lengths, sometimes much longer. Those who write the rules do not want to officially include longer lengths when maybe only three or four campsites will fit longer lengths, and if those are taken but smaller ones remain open, they may get in a tangle with RVers with a longer rig urging them to move someone with a shorter rig out of the larger site and into a smaller site. Or, when those with larger rigs show up and find there are only a few that fit the maximum size stated and they are taken.”  More at:


Solar Basics: Understanding Batteries

“Most people find learning about electricity very confusing, I know I did! The problem is it uses completely foreign words that we are unfamiliar with. When I started learning about it for the first time the idea of amps, watts, volts and amp-hours confused me for a long time! So in explaining it I am going to avoid the terminology and approach it in terms all of us can relate to: money. (While this is an analogy, if you changed the phrase “dollar per hour” to the technical term “amp-hour” it would still be completely accurate.)

I want you to think of your solar panel as a tiny factory full of elves that make money. How much money it makes depends on a lot of things like how much sun there is and how big the solar panel is. Solar panel elves only make money in daylight, and the sunnier it is the happier they are and the more money they make. Our little 90 watt solar panel makes about $5 an hour during the brightest part of the day. But if it’s cloudy out, the elves in the panel may only make 50 cents an hour, or even less depending how cloudy it is. So on an average sunny day it makes $35 total.

So our happy little solar panel is busy making us money, but, what are we going to do with that money? We can buy electricity and the pleasure and usefulness electricity provides. For example, at night it can buy me light so I can see, or it can power my portable DVD player so I can watch a movie. On a hot day it can power a fan so I can stay cool. It can charge my cell phone, laptop, iPad, Kindle, and all my other personal electronic devices.

thumb_piggy_bankSo you can see that our busy, hard-working little solar panel can greatly improve our life. But how do I use the money to buy those things? It’s simple, as your solar panel makes the money it very thoughtfully deposits the money into your piggy bank so you can buy things. Where is the piggy bank? It is your battery. The busy little elves in the solar panel make the electricity and then put it in a wheel barrow and carry it down to the battery which is the piggy bank. Piggy banks come in different sizes, but the one we have only holds $90. We can’t put more in it. And, we must always leave $45 in the bank. It gives the piggy an upset tummy if we take out more than $45 and we do not want to make our piggy bank sick so we always have to have a $45 balance in the bank.”  More at:


Your Electricity Costs Can be Low, Even with Metered Electric

“Electricity costs for campground owners are constantly rising. It is not unusual to find that they are installing individual electric meters at each site. There are ways you can keep your costs down.

Like it or not, paying for the power you use is something you'll probably have to deal with. We don't use much, so we like paying for only what we use.

Right now, I am looking out my screen door. My neighbor's window is open as far as it will open. I am also listening to the drone of the air conditioner on his roof, at the rate of 18 cents per kilowatt. People are very concerned about phantom loads, but we should be looking at the major electrical loads. My figures may not be exact, but turning off the air conditioner for 10 minutes a day, will probably save more than all your phantom loads put together.

Open the windows and cool off the RV in the cool of the morning. If it doesn't cool off at night where you're at, think about moving. You're in an RV; they are supposed to move.

Heating with a portable electric heater or the heating coil in your air conditioner are excessive electricity users. I've seen people who run their heat in the morning and then switch to the air conditioner about 11:00 for the rest of the day. Then they sit in their lawn chairs and complain about the park owner getting rich on the electric charge.

Maybe put a sweater on in the morning and keep the RV cool. Don't over air condition when you're not in the RV.

Realize that the park owner should be making a fair profit on his multimillion dollar investment in the park. He's not making a profit on 18 cent per kilowatt electricity, which he is selling for what he buys it for. About 20 years ago, there was a big surge to install electric elements in RV water heaters. Now, they all come that way. But with electric costs, that may not be the cheapest way to heat your water. Propane (LP gas) may be the way to go. On the RV I am presently in, the water heater on propane runs on pilot and keeps the water hot enough to do dishes, and so hot that we need to add plenty of cold to the mix when we shower. It does it cheaper than electric. Remember, if the burner is just on pilot the recovery rate may be three to five hours. For quick recovery, just turn the main burner on when you need it. Then, turn it back to pilot.

The refrigerators in both our Holiday Rambler and our Forest River can run close to four months on a 30-pound bottle of propane. If I buy propane in Alaska at $3.85 per gallon, 18-cent electric is cheaper; in Texas with $1.40 per gallon propane, propane is cheaper.

The days of cheap gas and electric are over. There are many ways you can save on your electricity cost if you make the effort. Do a little research, do the math, and be willing to do things a little differently than the norm.

If you don't want to make the effort to control your electricity costs, you can sit in your lawn chair and complain -- and watch your electric meter spin.”  From:


RV camping options that you likely won’t find at the Tourist Bureaus

“What could be more enjoyable than roaming around the country in your RV and exploring places you’ve never been before? But if you just go to the major tourist attractions, most popular national parks, and stay in only campgrounds recommended by Tourist Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, and State Campground Organizations you will miss a lot of what America has to offer.

The following three alternate camping opportunities, could lead you to many memorable places that most RVers overlook or miss.  Indian Reservations. National Wildlife Refuges. Local and Regional Parks.”    All the info at:


A tip for RVers with satellite TV or internet

Jim Nelson of has a tip about using a smartphone to make setting up your satellite dish or its settings easier at your campsite. 


How to get free HDTV in your RV.



HOW TO: Maintain & Equalize RV Batteries

“We demonstrate how to properly service, maintain and equalize the 6-volt deep-cycle golf cart batteries in an RV.
The "house" batteries are one of the most misunderstood systems on any RV. The proper care and maintenance of your battery bank will help it perform better and last longer.
Flooded, lead-acid batteries are the most common type of battery used in an RV. Keeping them clean and the water level correct should be part of your routine maintenance.
During the normal operating process, the batteries discharge and re-charge over and over again. This can cause sulfation, which is the process of sulfates in the electrolyte (acid) coming out of suspension (suspended in the liquid electrolyte) and attaching to the lead plates instead.
Equalizing the batteries solves this problem by "boiling" the batteries at higher voltage to break the sulfate loose from the lead plates, and putting it back into suspension, where it belongs.”


Rogue Wave pulls in WiFi signals from afar

“One of the greatest headaches for the RVer in this information-driven age has to be Internet connectivity. Chances are great you're already running e-mail to keep in touch with the family and friends. Add in Internet searches, bill paying, photo uploading--pretty soon, connecting to the Internet is a big thing. How can you stay connected?
Many RVers have found connecting at "WiFi hotspots," is one way to keep Internet-in-touch. Some national chains offer their customers free connectivity, places like Starbucks and McDonalds are high on the list. Only trouble is, for the most part you'll need to take your computer inside to take advantage of these hotspots. What happens when you want to keep the computer inside your RV or log onto the Web without dragging into a service provider?
Enter the Rogue Wave. This handy electronic device (technically a wireless bridge and Ethernet converter) is like putting your laptop (or WiFi equipped desktop) computer on WiFi steroids. Imagine "tying" into a Starbucks WiFi connection--blocks away from the store. It's possible--in fact, even longer connections can be possible.  More at:


Pay as you go WiFi from Walmart.

“Another great option is the pay as you go WiFi from Walmart. The one time cost is about $80 and then you pay for gigs. I think it is $25 for 5 gigs. It never expires so if you have good WiFi at a campground you use that instead. Recently in Orlando the campground had WiFi, but there were so many there you couldn't get a signal. But we had great WiFi using our pay as you go. Not nearly as expensive as Verizon or Sprint which you pay for even if you don't use it.”


On This Day:

Talleyrand offers to sell Louisiana, Apr 11, 1803:

“In one of the great surprises in diplomatic history, French Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand makes an offer to sell all of Louisiana Territory to the United States.

Talleyrand was no fool. As the foreign minister to French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, he was one of the most powerful men in the world. Three years earlier, Talleyrand had convinced Napoleon that he could create a new French Empire in North America. The French had long had a tenuous claim to the vast area west of the Mississippi River known as Louisiana Territory. In 1800, Napoleon secretly signed a treaty with Spain that officially gave France full control of the territory. Then he began to prepare France's mighty army to occupy New Orleans and bolster French dominion.

When President Thomas Jefferson learned of Napoleon's plans in 1802, he was understandably alarmed. Jefferson had long hoped the U.S. would expand westward beyond the Mississippi, but the young American republic was in no position militarily to challenge France for the territory. Jefferson hoped that his minister in France, Robert Livingston, might at least be able to negotiate an agreement whereby Napoleon would give the U.S. control of New Orleans, the gateway to the Mississippi River.

At first, the situation looked bleak because Livingston's initial attempts at reaching a diplomatic agreement failed. In early 1803, Jefferson sent his young Virginia friend James Monroe to Paris to assist Livingston. Fortunately for the U.S., by that time Napoleon's situation in Europe had changed for the worse. War between France and Great Britain was imminent and Napoleon could no longer spare the military resources needed to secure control of Louisiana Territory. Realizing that the powerful British navy would probably take the territory by force, Napoleon reasoned it would be better to sell Louisiana to the Americans than have it fall into the hands of his enemy.

After months of having fruitlessly negotiated over the fate of New Orleans, Livingston again met with Talleyrand on this day in 1803. To Livingston's immense surprise, this time the cagey French minister coolly asked, "What will you give for the whole?" He meant not the whole of New Orleans, but the whole of Louisiana Territory. Quickly recognizing that this was an offer of potentially immense significance for the U.S., Livingston and Monroe began to discuss France's proposed cost for the territory. Several weeks later, on April 30, 1803, the American emissaries signed a treaty with France for a purchase of the vast territory for $11,250,000.

A little more than two weeks later, Great Britain declared war on France. With the sale of the Louisiana Territory, Napoleon abandoned his dreams of a North American empire, but he also achieved a goal that he thought more important. "The sale [of Louisiana] assures forever the power of the United States," Napoleon later wrote, "and I have given England a rival who, sooner or later, will humble her pride."”



Ray came over and we carried all four of my different sizes of blue pet carriers outside, removed the blankies, and bleached them.  Two had been used for Terry, the big one for Blondie, and the smallest one had been in my van for a while, in case I came across a little old homeless lady cat!  Then we carried the big wire cage out of the Grooming Room out there, and bleached that, too.  Usually the sun dries everything quickly, but it started to drizzle, so we had to put them all in the Grooming Room to dry.

Terry-2013-03-06 Then we tackled my bathroom, where Terry spent most of his time, when he wasn't curled up on my bed.  All cats love sitting on that chest of drawers at the bathroom window, and they will look outside for hours.  As it is high up, it was the easiest place for me to give him his pills, breathing treatments, etc.  That’s where I used to try to syringe feed him, so there were splatters on the shelf and even on my Drylon shower curtain, where he spat out the food.  Ray got it down for the next load of laundry, then it was put back up damp, as Drylon dries in no time. 

We bleached every surface in my bathroom, even the electric radiator.  We took the mini-blinds down and bleach-cleaned them, too.  All the area rugs were put in the laundry, and the floor mopped with bleach water.  In my bedroom, every robe, sheet, mattress pad, blanket, bedspread, and pillow that Terry had ever touched was put in the laundry.  Not so much for the disinfecting, but I wanted to see if I got rid of all traces of cat, my sinus congestion would go away.  It seemed like it had been better in between Miss Priss’ adoption and the acquisition of the two orange cats. 

All that made a big pile of laundry, so I was up and down the steps into the garage, most of the day.

My SPCA boss called to ask if the breathing treatments were helping Terry, so I gave her the sad news.  She had already found me a little old white lady cat, with one blue eye and one green.  I am looking forward to her arrival as soon as we feel it is safe for her to come here. Plus, our SPCA cats are all healthy, tested for FIV and FELV before they are adopted, and have been kept in foster homes, as we don't have a shelter.

So I have something to look forward to, after the terrible last few days.

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