Well, the trip was long, and gas is expensive. Driving 5 hours straight north would be nice if it wasn’t a straight trip with stops only for gas, and bathroom breaks. We finally got to our destination, and found ourselves a great little spot right near the edge of the grounds overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. Sadly, that river starts near the mountains and meanders through a lot of agricultural land, so it begins to look like a giant mud slide only a short distance from where it starts. I used to swim in this river when I was a kid living in Edmonton, it was cheaper than going to the pool, and you could skinny dip with the girls.
The new girlfriend, who was iffy on the van for the weekend, ended up loving it, and can’t wait until we get out again. She’s not one for living in the van, but loves the excursions. We used my parent’s generator to charge up the house battery, and I discovered a fatal flaw in the wiring of the van as well. I had been lead to believe that everything had been moved off the starter battery, and over to the house battery. As it turns out, the cigarette lighter in the front, had never been. Now I know why the starter battery died this past winter. I drained it a few times, and that’s a bad thing for them. We ended up using the modified ports in the living area for watching a couple movies, it was great, now I just need to get a couple more house batteries, and some solar panels.
Things I did learn from this trip.
Always, always, always have a volt meter in your vehicle. My wiring doesn’t show positive or negative, so I had to run around trying to borrow one off someone to rehook up the wires. I did make the error of touching the wrong wires to the wrong posts and killed my stereo. Very sad. The fuse blew, which we found a replacement for, but no sound any longer. Folks, make sure you have a meter to measure Ohms and DC at a bare minimum.
Better curtains will be a blessing, especially when your girlfriend will wake up to the sun rising at 5am, and can’t get back to sleep. This means I am going to be investing in blackout curtains, and making sure that I can get the van nice and dark. This will also add privacy for when you have snooping family, and you both like to sleep nude.
If you have a pet, do not forget the tie down and rope. Nothing is more annoying that having to hold the leash everywhere you go. Thankfully, a cousin had a long chain, and we hooked it up to the bumper of the van.
Tools. Always have tools. At the very least, make up a small kit that will allow you access to do work on a few things. On our way home, the tread blew off one of the back tires, while not popping the tire. I had to change the tire. I pulled out the jack, and crowbar, jacked up the van, removed the tire, and them uncovered the spare. Uh oh… Those bolts are NOT the same size that are holding this thing in place. I had nothing to get those bolts off with me. Thankfully, I am a resourceful (read: MacGyver) type of person. I wondered across the highway to this old abandoned farm, which made flashes of The Hills Have Eyes run through my head, and searched the out buildings. What did I find? Nothing that would make life easier. But I did however find an old gardening tool for weeding, and a door hinge. I used those to tap the bolts loose. It took forever, but my girlfriend now calls me a hero. 🙂
When the temperature outside hits the 30’s (90’s for you Imperial system folk), time to get a fan. I’ve been wanting to get an Automatic Roof Vent for some time. After the sweltering heat this past weekend, I think it’s time I save up for it. Asap.
If you have some idiotic kid fill your propane, make sure he knows how to do it. Not only did this kid fill my tank 100% of it’s capacity (which then vented down to 80%), he somehow managed to cause the vent cap in the intake to jostle a bit, and create a small escape for the propane. If this happens folks, all is not lost. Use something long, and preferably not metal to give that intake valve a push a couple times until it reseats itself where it should be. I used a chopstick, and stopped leaking propane right away.
If possible, plan for a long trip to take a day or two, just so that you are not exhausted getting to your destination. After only a few hours sleep, I had to drive for 5 hours straight, and fell asleep, and missed out on most of the fun.
When your speedometer breaks, an smartphone can become your best friend. Mine has been broken since I bought the van, but I usually meander, and never drive too fast because I honestly have no where to be in a hurry. I downloaded a free “Speedometer” app, and it is very accurate. I was able to determine my speed at all times as it was running.
Well, there you have it, a few things to keep in mind when getting out on the open road.