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

Henry David Thoreau

Crossing our Fingers

Thursday May 29, 2014
Brandywine Creek Campground
Glenmoore, Pennsylvania



Solar Update

We arrive back at Brandywine Creek Campground on Tuesday afternoon with all of the information David collected over 4 days at Shawnee State Park with low voltage and his discovery on Tuesday after we arrived of a grounding wire hanging down under the coach.  Only problem is, he didn’t know that was THE wire.  He thought it was one Greg had decided not to use.  Turns out that it was supposed to be attached to that infamous brass bolt that broke off due to being tightened too tight last week.  Greg and Jimmy, another electrician, arrive about 4:00 and they retrace what David has shown them.  The errant ground turns out to be the key to why nothing worked after we left here last time.  Plans are to rewire some things based on what David read in the manuals, saw in wiring diagrams and confirmed with Jack Mayer, a saint and solar guru, and with AM Solar with whom he talked several times.  The system is functional the way it has been wired, but it was not optimal and would lead to problems down the line that may not have shown up for some time.

We’re hoping all these together will put things to right so that we can take the plunge again at the end of the week and head back down the PA Turnpike for what we hope is the very last time.  

Our trip from Shawnee State Park back here was absolutely horrendous.  The turnpike going east is much much worse than it was going west.  $37.15 to have the coach almost bouncing off its chassis is not amusing.




I visit Whole Foods to stay out of the way.


whole foods


On Wednesday, while they are taking all 4 batteries out to be tested to insure no damage was done to them and doing the rewiring,  I manage to find a Whole Foods but have to drive 25 miles on the worst roads I’ve seen since I’ve been full timing.  Thankfully Ruby can handle these things better than Winnona. 

Pennsylvania wins the award hands down for the worst roads of any state I’ve travelled through.   It has just been marked off my list of places to ever return to other than driving I-81 through on my way to other places.  MAYBE.


whole foods 2


Whole Foods continues to be wonderful and I find all the things I love there including bulk spices where I buy an amount that will refill my dried oregano spice jar for $.08.  Yes you heard me right.  Not $2.59 which is the normal price for a jar of Oregano in most spice isles, but $.08 to refill my existing jar.  Not all Whole Foods have bulk spices but boy do I love them when they do.  As most of you know, I travel with half a dozen fresh herbs so I don’t use dried a lot but some recipes call for them.  If you don’t use them a lot, they can outlast their freshness shelf life so being able to replenish them inexpensively is great.  Thank you Whole Foods.   And thanks too for bulk Nutritional Yeast.   Everything is fresher and less expensive in bulk.


The Duckies become famous and take a dip.


Since I took the Duckie family portrait for Paul Dahl who gave a shout out to them on his blog, R Sanity RV Adventures, the other day, I thought I’d post if for those of you who may wonder what this “Duckie view” on our side bar is all about. 

The Duckie brothers and their adopted friend MWP (Mini Winnie the Pooh) ride on the dashboard and have the ‘out the front windshield’ view at all times.  They also get out into the water any time they can.  They particularly like the campsite at Brandywine Creek since the creek is right there and they can take a swim.  Actually MW isn’t much for swimming but he’ll go and watch.  David says he’s sitting on his tube but he has found that it doesn’t hold him up in the water.  For those interested in serious trivia, the story of the beach rescue of MWP can be found in this post from 2012.


gazing at the creek just beyond the rock borderIMG_3256

 swimming in the creek



No Cuyahoga National park for me this trip.

Unfortunately all this delay is resulting in our having to cancel our stop by the mystery National Park in Ohio.  I guess I’ll have to catch it later.  Actually it’s not quite so much of a loss as one would think since many of the trails and the Tow Path Bike route are closed or partially closed due to flooding according to their website.  Perhaps I can route us this way next time we go to Maine since we for sure will be coming up I-81 and not I-95 to do that.  And no more turnpikes!!

Isn’t this life style with its wonderful flexibility just simply fantastic!!





We visit The Coffee Cup diner.

On Thursday David chooses, as you would guess, to go out for breakfast as his reward for SO many hours spent troubleshooting this problem.   We are talking here about days of doing nothing but tracing wires and reading manuals.  This was a very hard won breakfast that’s for sure.  I find a place called The Coffee Cup which I think he will like.  It’s much more charming and clear than my pictures would lead you to believe.

When we get there it doesn’t look like much on the outside but on the inside it turns out to be one of those old fashioned diners he likes so well.  I get out my camera to take a picture of him going inside only to find that A) I have left the memory card in my computer and B) this Canon SX 50 has no internal memory which shocked me.  I’ve never had a digital that didn’t have some internal memory until this one.

So I use my HTC Rezound android phone camera and get another shock.  The pictures are terrible.  Seriously dreadful.  The thing only focuses about half the time.  My HTC Thunderbolt gave up the ghost a few months ago and I had an extended warranty.  I wanted to keep my unlimited data plan, so I used the warranty rather than upgrade.  But, what I didn’t know is that they would not replace the Thunderbolt with another Thunderbolt but only with the Rezound which I guess is a newer model but it is isn’t nearly the phone the Thunderbolt was in many ways including the camera.

I have put the pictures here just so David can remember it but boy are they appalling.  My apologies if they make your eyes cross.   That will be the last time I use this camera for pictures but I think you can read the menu.  Notice that in addition to scrapple, you can order Messes.  :-)











David may not be adventurous in a lot of things but he is when it comes to food.  He actually had scrapple for breakfast which is apparently a local favorite.  Eewww I tasted it and thought it was awful.

In the afternoon, I work on this post and David talks again to AM Solar to clarify some settings on the monitors.  Greg arrives 4:00 and installs overload protection and a disconnect switch for the inverter/charger to wrap up what we hope is the end of this 13 day “lesson on solar installations.”

We're hanging out here for Friday.  One more day to do some more boondocking over night and all day to make sure things continue working fine.  The weather has certainly not been very favorable to gathering solar power.  IF the weather tomorrow improves over the past 3 chilly, rainy days, we might to do some kayaking on nearby Marsh Creek State Park which has an enormous man made lake.  I’m not a fan of dams and wish we’d set the rivers and streams free.  I’d give up my paddling on them and any lake front views for similar things on the rivers and streams.  That is if they’d ask me to vote on it.

Right now, we plan to leave Saturday and have our fingers and toes crossed that everything is configured the way it should be for all systems to be GO on into infinity.   If not, we may just give up and head west to Oregon and drop in on AM Solar or happen to wander by Jack Mayer’s place. I think he’s in Colorado. HA!

Many have said “this too shall pass” and I’ve always told my daughter, “will you remember this in 5 years?”  We hope it has and that we don’t.


  1. I have been following your "Solar" adventure and I hope this is the end and you are on your way soon. If you are still going to travel up through Michigan a good place to stop and eat in Mackinaw City is Darrow's Family Restaurant, great homemade food not to mention pie. We have stopped there many times, going south and coming back north, and have never been disappointed.

  2. That is one mighty complex system, keep the books and schematics for future years. Happy to hear it is all fixed now. May you forget this event without therapy as I did my DMV event with my van purchase eons ago.

  3. I'm thrilled to hear that your solar problems are resolved -- but secretly, I'm hoping you might decide to head west! :-) Interesting about the roads in Pennsylvania -- I wonder if they're as bad as the roads in Louisiana. Driving in LA feels like riding a roller coaster. Happy trails, you guys!

  4. Fingers crossed! So ultimately it was because of that one wire?


  5. You've done everything possible, so I hope that this is the finale, you deserve to have the best solar system ever installed. Once all is up and running right, I'm hoping it gives you everything you expect and more.

    I'm hoping the roads in WVA are better than PA. I remember them as pretty bouncy. :c(

  6. Gosh, I hope your solar issues are done and dusted. Scrapple is on menus around here, but so far I've passed on ordering it. Pretty sure I'm going to continue to do so. Here's to smooth cruising on Saturday and onward!

  7. Hope all is happily rewired and hooked together as it should be!
    XXXOOO Pam

  8. It doesn't sound like you will get to take in any of the historic places while in the area. I am not a history buff like my husband but I did find the Constition Center wonderful.

  9. Every trucker that used to come into the water plant in PA would complain about the roads. Now that we've traveled around a lot, we concur. Yes, scrapple is a PA thing, but nothing we wanted to eat. Now , Scamutz is a whole 'nother thing :-) That would be a special cheese found in Hazleton..

  10. I will travel to anywhere in Oregon to meet up with you guys!!!! Westward Ho!!!

  11. Sherry, such wonderful comments you have received..... Everyone hoping for the best ... I think when folks think SOLAR they will think of you and David !!! Best of luck on moving down the road .....

  12. Boy, David is one smart guy! So glad it sounds like you found the problem and, with help from Jack, improved on the install. I was talking to someone in New York, recently, and they said all the roads in the northeast are worse than they've ever been because of the snow, ice, sand, and salt this year. Pot holes everywhere. Hopefully, there's enough money to fix them. When I drove through Pennsylvania last year they weren't that bad. I've noticed, while not as bad, that even our road suffered from the weather last winter.

    I'm feeling a bit under the weather - something disagreed with me or a bug, but I did want to see how you and David made out.

  13. Please let us know soon that the solar is working correctly...l am unable to hold my breath for long. Seriously you deserve a vacation from all of this fun. Onward and get on to better roads!

  14. I am keeping my fingers crossed too, though I might uncross them if I thought it meant you were coming to Oregon! ;-)

  15. Hope this is the end of your solar saga, you deserve a streak of luck now Didn't drive the PA roads but friends just did and said they were a mess, the roads here in VT have taken a real beating, there are still car eating holes waiting for unsuspecting drivers.

  16. Well alrighty...believe you have found the root cause of the problem...YEA!!! We know this has been a real pain in the butt, however... I think you've learn a lot about your system and will be glad you can camp in those wonderful out of the way places!!!

    We grew up on Scrapple and it is one of Bill's favorite;o)) You need to cook it real crispy and then put a little maple syrup on it!!!

    Most roads in the northeast scare me to death. The back roads are too narrow, curvey, hilly and full of holes and that's why the major highways are just jammed pack full of cars:o(( Stick with the turnpike, get out of PA and go have some summer fun!!!

  17. Finally....patience and David being methodical pays off....

  18. I think David certainly deserved a nice breakfast. I had to Google Scrapple and I think I would have passed on it as well, but then again I like Spam, so I probably would have liked it too. The picture I found looks like how I remember liver pudding. My mom loves that stuff.

    I didn't know Whole Foods had bulk spices, but I'll certainly check it out. I know how much you love Whole Foods, but I prefer our little local Nutrition S'mart. Whole foods is so big that I get overwhelmed and don't find all the good stuff they have. Just don't snack on the freebies while you're there!!

    I sure hope your solar saga is ending and you'll be on the road again. I bet they wish they had never started the new business with blogger Sherry! They haven't gotten any good publicity, have they? If I ever considered solar power, I am over it now!

  19. Glad the Solar saga's solved. Sounds like all that effort to find the problem will pay off in the end.

  20. It might be a good thing that the bolt broke. Otherwise you would never have known that your wiring was not optimal. Hope it is all fixed now and ready to roll.

  21. I hate to be a party pooper, but I think in five years you'll still remember this fiasco. ;) Glad it's over with.

  22. Forgot to ask.... How's the toes??? Inquiring minds want to know;o)) Sure hope it was just a "one of those things" thing!!

  23. Finally!! Sure wish you would come to Oregon. Jim needs some help diagnosing a brake light problem;-) We thought about you the other day when we were in Eugene, near AM Solar. Hope you can get on with your summer now and be trouble-free.
    We had a bike rack break on the PA Turnpike. It was supposedly tested in the Australian Outback. Think they should just do their testing on PA roads. Although I still have family there, we just can't bring ourselves to go back very often.
    Happy travels!

  24. The "problem" was a single over tightened bolt and resulting disconnected ground wire is what I'm reading. I'm a great believer in serendipity and agree that had that bolt not broken they system would have had major issues down the road far away from the free installers. Now the system is perfect and will serve you for many years! David is definitely the hero, deserving of many yummy breakfasts. You, as his perky sidekick, get major points for patience and positive attitude :-).
    I have gotten spoiled by our bulk items at Sprouts and glad to know some WF have them as well.
    Figure the feet must be better?
    Leave all "this" behind you as you pull out of PA - the West is calling and all is right with the world......

  25. I so hope this is behind you and that you'll enjoy your solar panels for years to come hassle free -- you certainly deserve it after what you've been through. Happy trails~

  26. My fingers and toes are crossed for you too! BTW, can you now cross your toes? Are they better?
    I like Scrapple. Haven't had it in years but thought it was good :)
    Also agree about PA roads! The WORST!

  27. My mother in law made scrapple that was the best! I've seen it in stores but it has a grey look to it and I wouldn't touch it. It's very easy to make - I did it myself one time - but my m-i-l's was just superb!

    I hope your solar is finally working as it is supposed to.

  28. Pennsylvania does have the worst roads in the USA..voted that by the truckers for years
    also living in PA all my life i can say the same....i use to take the PA turn pike to VA to
    my daughters...but after i got my RV i no longer use it...i go the long way ...I-79 goes north and south
    is a very good road if you need to go that way...it is in western PA...herbs...when i need dried herbs..
    I took some from my plants and put them between two sheets of paper towels and zapped in micro wave
    for maybe 10 or 20 sec..then check to see how much more zapping was needed...works great..

  29. concur with Judy. . .will you remember it. . .probably. . .will it matter. . .hopefully not!

    Too bad about Cuyahoga. . .we enjoyed it. . .but at least if you hafta miss one. . .that's the one to miss!

    Here's hoping you are on on the road soon. . .leaving your trouble behind!

  30. Crossing fingers on the solar fandangle. Whole Foods bought out New Frontiers here and I'm looking forward to see what kind of changes they make. Like lowering the prices would be nice. Good Luck!

  31. I think Dad deserved that breakfast! I am glad it sounds like things are starting to go right and you can move on - I am glad you posted the Coffee Cup pictures - LOL - blurry!! Think I am glad I don't live in PA - bad roads can do a number on any car.

  32. No one else commented on your dam opinion? Hmmm. I'm a believer in man's meddling doing as much harm as good in most instances. Seems like the "fix" for one problem just leads to a new problem to fix on down the line when man interferes with nature's plan. However, beavers make dams but certainly on a much smaller scale. I have a feeling you and I might never run out of things to talk about if our paths ever cross!


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