Thursday, March 27, 2014

Report from the shakedown cruise

Tuesday and Wednesday I took the Beast and my friend Jeff to Catalina State Park about 10 miles north of here.  The park has great views of the Catalinas, and some hiking trails which I explored a bit a few years ago, but the primary goal for the trip was to go through the full cycle of making camp and living and breaking camp.  I wanted to see if I'd learned enough about the rig to be confident taking it further afield, or alone, or both.  I also wanted to see if there were problems with the rig that my briefer encounters in a parking lot hadn't revealed.

First: if you're taking along an extra pair of hands, make sure he's a professional cook.  Jeff fixed a dinner and breakfast which were simple and delicious and elegantly presented.  And cleaned up.  And was good company.  We shared a bottle of wine to celebrate the Beast's maiden voyage with me, and my 71st birthday.

Emma went along: Another part of the agenda was to get her used to being in and around the rig.  She made good progress, although she's still not entirely at ease.  There was a lot of panting and trembling, but she can now hop up into the rig with ease, and decided that the funny-looking cloth thing was really a water dish in a clever disguise.

I had no difficulty with the setup and takedown.  My attempt to master the outdoor awning, this time with extra help, didn't help --it was just breezy enough that the thing really wanted to be a sail, and a friendly neighbor camper offered help.  Turned out he was giving directions to fold it up, rather than unfold it, so we did just that and stowed it away neatly.  The major problem is that I've never seen one set up, so I have only the haziest of notions what success will look like.

Two problems did surface.  One is that the house battery (as opposed to the truck battery, which is in the usual place and does the usual truck things) seemed not to be recharging from the external power we were plugged into.  It did seem to recharge when we were in motion, just not when we were camped.  I took it out of its hidey hole under the top step and brought it home to my battery charger and AC power.  It was pretty well discharged.  Even though it may be close to the end of its life -- it's three years old -- I don't think that's the problem.  I have some suggestions from my online advisers at about how to tell if it's getting charging power from the 120V AC  external power.  If it's not.  I may have my first trip to an RV repair guy ahead of me.

The second problem was that the furnace -- a nifty little propane-fired forced-air number -- made a horrible caterwauling noise when turned on.   Really shrill, really obnoxious.  I turned it off as quickly as I could, to avoid inspiring my camping neighbors to mayhem.  When I tried to duplicate the problem back home, it purred away quietly. I hate intermittent problems.

It was a great trip.  Too short.  I'm thinking my next foray will be down to Bisbee for a weekend.  It's about 2 hours away, right down near the Mexican border.  Somehow I expect I'll get searched on the way back at the Border Patrol/Homeland Security checkpoint.  Sad.

I figured some things out about how to get internet service on the road.  I'll give details in a subsequent post.

The trip was a success!  More! More!

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