Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

As Promised…….and adding solar

Tuesday May 20, 2014
French Creek State Park
Elverson, Pennsylvania


Before I get to where we are and why, here, as promised, is the answer to several questions about how I remember all the details.  I take pictures of some of the information on the markers or plaques so I can remember the details when I later write the blogs which you know unfortunately is often several days later.  Also if there is a brochure with the exhibit I pick it up to use when I am working on the post.  Needless to say that adds time to the already too much time I spend writing these.  So there you have it.  I unfortunately can no longer claim to have a fantastic memory as I once had.  Up until about 5 years ago actually.  This aging business really isn’t much fun in many ways.  But boy the freedom is great.





We leave Greenbelt at about noon after waiting out a heavy rainstorm.  We had done most of our packing up the day before but I still didn’t want to drive in the down pours.  Lucky for us it quits in time for us to get on the road.  Unlucky for us we have to get gas right away.  There’s that no lower than 1/4 of a tank rule.  We stop at a TA off of I-95 thinking that a truck stop will certainly be easier to get in and out of even for gas.  I checked next exit and the next one is nearly 50 miles from here.  But boy what a mistake.  I kid you not it took ONE HOUR to pump a tank full of gas due to the ridiculous arrangement of the station and its gas and diesel pumps.  The trucks were required to make a U turn in order to get to their pumps so they were lined up single file to even get close to the 4 pumps.  Those wanting gas had to wait in that same line with all the trucks to get into the same area and then fork left to the gasoline pumps.  It is a nightmare.  You can imagine the things I was mumbling.  Even David was furious.






But we make it French Creek State Park despite the amazingly difficult and narrow entrance roads out of Morgantown, Pennsylvania.  This is farm country.  Big farms.  Lots of Mennonite churches.  We’re 16 miles from Lancaster which we will not be going to after Karen’s comment pointed me to the heartbreaking stories, including the Washington Post, about Amish Puppy Mills.  Google it for yourself.  So sad.






The park has three cottages and two yurts as well as 200 wooded campsites in 4 loops.  The one I reserved on line turns out not to be level enough so we are very lucky to be able to switch all six nights including the week-end to a great site that is wide, deep and level.  I guess the masses won’t be arriving until next week-end  It’s also right next to a water spigot which is way convenient.  The park has 30 and 50 amp electric but no water at each site.  There are two separate dump stations each with two spots.  Our bathhouse heated and very nice.  Two large showers with wonderful warm water.  It’s going to be a great place to spend 6 nights especially given all there is to do here.

The park is located adjacent to the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site which features a cold blast furnace restored to its 1830’s appearance.  The park was once part of this industrial complex for the fledgling U.S.  Its 7,730 acres  straddles the Schuylkill Highlands and claims to be the largest block of contiguous forest between Washington DC and New York City.

The park has two lakes, a 22 acre and a 68 acre which only allow electric motors.  Looks like good kayaking.  There are more than 35 miles of trails.  The park roads would be great biking if you are up for the hills.  There are 20 miles mountain biking trails and a “Horse-shoe trail” for horses who are not allowed on the other trails.

I’ll let you know in a later post whether I can recommend this to rigs our size or larger based on the narrowness of the roads we had to drive to come up to the park.  I have not yet checked all the ways in and out.  The park roads are larger than the nearly  would not recommend it to anyone based on the difficulty of driving up these roads.  I’ll let you know after we’ve had time to scout it out whether there is a better way in.  I asked the woman at the gate and she said no. 



Saturday (6)


We would never have known any of this had we not come here solely to have solar installed on Winnona.  At the RV Dreams boondocking rally Howard told us that a solar installer on the East Coast had been trained by AM Solar in Oregon and was wanting to do 3 installations for the price of the materials only in order to get certified.  So we immediately contacted Greg Young of RV Solar Solutions and set up this time and place for the install.   Everything begins tomorrow.

The last thing for today is to swap out half of our lights for LEDs.  With the cost of the solar install, we’re doing the lights we use most often now and the others later.






Saturday (7)


Bright and early at 10 minutes until 8:00  Greg (on the left) and Ethan arrive in Greg’s truck and start to work.  They have an amazing amount of gear and are very careful to cover our indoor carpets and to put their things on tarps they have brought.  I am really appreciative of the care they take when working on our home.   I’m not going to do a blow by blow of the installation even if I could but here is what they were doing on Saturday.  



Saturday (19)

Saturday (10)


Saturday (3)

Saturday (11)

Saturday (4)

Saturday (6)

Saturday (21)Saturday (26)


These guys work solid from 8am until after 5:00. The panels are on the roof, wires are everywhere and think they’ll finish it up tomorrow.

But things don’t go so well after that and it is now Tuesday.  After a myriad of problems, we are still not ready to go.  One solar panel was labeled backwards.  Who would think to check that and it caused hours worth of troubleshooting.  The Magnum battery monitor was faulty and Greg is having to have another one shipped over night after spending more hours trying to troubleshoot that.  It seems like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. But they have worked tirelessly to try to get this finished and were fully expecting a two day install.  It just hasn’t worked out that way.  We have to leave on Thursday since the campground is booked for Memorial Day Week-end and we have reservations elsewhere.   So tomorrow is it; I’ll admit to having my fingers crossed.

More to come…………..


  1. Im holding my breath................

  2. You are going to be cutting it close, but hopefully the guys will work a few miracles.

    I always hated going into Flying J's with my rig, and found that sometimes a Shell or other gas station away from the big guys often had less traffic and more space in and out, and even a couple of easily accessible diesel pumps for the semis.

  3. That's too bad about all the problems with the solar installation. Once everything is up and running, though, you will be so happy to have it!

  4. I will be thinking of you and your solar installation. Hope that it goes according to plan ....such freedom you will have. Be sure to tell us the wattage and details....we want the details!!!

  5. I'm watching your solar install like a hawk. I've been thinking about it for years and also read from Howard's blog about these guys. Sorry that you're having some teething problems, hope it gets straightened out quickly.

    I know you'll be thrilled to use it once it's up and running.

  6. Crossing my fingers and my toes!!!!

  7. I'm sure it will be fine. It will be much easier, I imagine, for you when you want to stay in the nice forest campgrounds with no hookups. We just don't do enough of it at this point to warrant the expense, but maybe some day.....

  8. I'll be interested in your opinion of the LED lights. I switched one so far to LED on my most used light, and I can't say that I'm impressed.

  9. Hope all goes well with the solar installation. I am envious!

  10. I hope the solar install problems get worked out -- one way or another, they will! And I believe you'll be really happy with the freedom solar will give you. As far as your memory, I happen to know after spending time with you that you have an amazing memory for details -- there were no brochures for our wildflower hike in Apalachicola, and you remembered everything! Same for our day spent biking and exploring in Apalachicola. Wish I had a memory like you do!

  11. We have switched 3 of our lights to LED...they don't make me happy;o((

    Once you get the installed done and get on the road, I believe you are gonna LOVE having the freedom that the solar will give you. It really does open some new possibilities. It WILL all work out!!!

    Your memory is sharp as can be...except for maybe a "MAY" birthday;o))) LOL

  12. Nice deal to be able to get the solars installed for the price of materials; that's a good chunk of savings. Hope the rest of the work goes smoothly. We had our solars installed at an RV Service place near Richmond and were pleased with the work. For us, the solars make it a lot more convenient to leave the coach for months on end, but hope to someday use them to do some boondocking.

    Like you, I always take photos of signs and pick up brochures. I do try to write my travel posts the same day ... what delays me is getting the photos processed since I shoot RAW ... I guess I should change back to jpeg for the blog, but hard to give up RAW once you start shooting that way.

  13. Good for you going for the solar, even if the beginning install is a pain. It will all work out, I'm sure they'll stand behind it being as they are trying to get established. Not sure we'll ever go with solar, although we've talked about it. We just don't do enough boondocking at this point.

  14. Hope all goes well for you and the solar guys. At least they are learning for future projects. Too bad they learned on your vehicle. I will be interested to see how the solar works for you with all your state and national park stays with all the trees.

    Thank goodness for Wikipedia, also, when writing blogs. Besides taking photos of plaques and gathering brochures, John uses Wikipedia...very helpful.

  15. No labor cost? Good deal!! Just remember... don't stress about things of which you have no control.
    We met Greg at the recent RVDreams rally. Nice fellow.

  16. I'm interested to see how you like the solar.

  17. I'm impressed you remember to pick up the brochures...... Glad Greg had you and Dave for this challenging install instead of impatient jerks who are quick to blame the installers - but of course am also bummed that you guys have to suffer the delay and stress :-). Hope this means you'll be coming West in the Fall????

  18. I guess by now you either have new solar panels or you are going to plan b. I guess since you got free labor, you can't complain, and I'm sure you will love it once it's all done. I guess now you'll have to find sites with more sun than you did before.

    I'm glad you read up on the Amish and their puppy mills. I read somewhere that most all Amish benefit from them even if they don't personally raise the dogs. I hope the word get out and people boycott their products and stay away from their towns.

    We always use truck stops and just shimmy up next to the big boys and act like we know what we're doing. Never seen any set up like the one you described though. Thank goodness.

    I find the pictures help me remember stuff, but you certainly seem to remember more than I ever do.

    Safe travels to wherever you're heading next.

  19. well here it is the Wednesday before the holiday weekend. . .hoping you got your install finished, and can roll. . .and that all works as planned. . .good luck!

  20. I think we are all on the same boat, about taking pictures of plaque or Wikipedia. When I started blogging I did not realize how work intensive it is for me, read the plaques, be sure what I post is true, then picking the best shot from the hundreds I took for the blog. Time consuming, that is why I always two post delayed.
    Good for you you seem to be on top of things right away.
    Good Luck Sherry on the the solar panel…we will probably do ours when we get back to the West.

  21. Glad to know I'm not the only one that takes pics of signs to remember a place.

    Sure hope they are done with the new solar.

  22. I am here in Oregon at the Skinnie Winnie rally...we had a presentation this morning by the owner of AM Solar. Very impressive! He went part by part, explaining some of the custom made materials they use, and the reasons why...I think you can't go wrong with their product, once you get the bugs out. And what a deal to get the installation for no cost! I am salivating, I want it so badly, but I can't bare to pay their install fees! You got a deal, even though there are some issues to work through. I have every confidence!

  23. Sorry to hear about the long wait getting gas when you left Greenbelt. As we know this can be one of the tricky parts to this lifestyle. Hopefully by now the issues regarding the solar install are being resolved and you will be able to reap the benefits soon.

    I agree with your other commenters regarding blog posts, thank goodness for plaques and Wikipedia!

  24. Oh my! I hope by the time you're reading this you are on the road with a complete install! That's quite the deal to get it done for materials only. It should work out nicely for you in those out of the way places you love.

    We changed all our lights to LED last year and I LOVE them. Those that don't may have bought the wrong color (cool vs warm) and/or the wrong level of brightness. It's so nice to sit under a reading lamp and not have it give you an instant hot flash! We women get enough of those naturally :)

  25. Sure hope everything has worked out for you.

  26. 1 hour to get a tank of gas! Grrr...some things can be exasperating! Looks and sounds like a nice park...except for the road into it. Some setbacks with the solar...at least the men are putting in the time and effort to make it right.


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