Chassis batteries and GPS

7/11/12 Wednesday at Chehalis, WA (Chehalis Campground-TT)

We wanted this to be a quiet day, since yesterday was and tomorrow will be a lot of driving. This morning we found out some interesting things about chassis batteries, after visiting 3 RV service places. The inverter is not likely to be charging those batteries, only the engine. One battery could be going bad (they are maintenance free/AGM, so no need to watch for and add water periodically) and if that’s so, we’ll need to replace the other, because the bad one will draw down on the good one. Drawing down as far as 9 volts (they’re usually over 12 volts) is bad. That’s what happened in Seaside. Since they are Interstate brand, they may only be made to last 3 years. We saw where they mark the date they were made and also when they were installed, but it’s hard to decode. Haven’t checked our battery dates yet.

The biggest news is that we likely have one or more parasitic draws on that battery, which may have shown up in Seaside because we were there longer than any other campsite – 7 days. Our choices now include, (1) buy 2 new batteries (but the parasitic draw will continue to hassle our battery). (2) buy a special device that, installed, will trickle charge our chassis battery (to counteract the parasitic draw), (3) conscientiously watch our chassis battery voltage on our test panel, then jump a charge with our house batteries, and/or (4) investigate where the parasitic draw may be coming from (we could turn the chassis batteries off, like we do when the RV is in storage) by checking what does and does not work when they are turned off.

Then we got that bill from the Post Office. Yeah!

GPS: These are invaluable devices, but we really need to understand their limitations, their language, to get the most benefit from their information. They are invaluable because they can tell you (when they have clear view of the sky, no tall trees), where you are right now, something no map can really do. They warn you, in real time, about the speed limits you may be going over and, especially, that you’ll need to turn left/right in 50 yards. Their limitations include not showing where they plan to actually go to get you to your destination. They don’t (that we’ve found on the Rand McNally version) show you the whole picture. Even when you give them your preferences (like highways over small roads), they don’t think as globally as we do, so they’ll make you go an extra 5 miles away from a perfectly good small highway to an Interstate (like Jackson Hwy to I-5) so you travel 10 miles down that Interstate, but then take an extra 5 miles to get back to the smaller Highway. They can keep trying to get you over to that Interstate highway for miles – taking a really long way on a really small road to get you back to that Interstate highway. Sheesh!

The beautiful elements of the Streets and Trips (Microsoft software) program is that it’s a map that can be as large as the world, down to as small as individual streets (regular maps can’t do that). Also, it can show you (once you’ve given it your beginning, (maybe middle) and end places) the route it plans for you. If you see a place where you’d be better off going the smaller highway (like Jackson Hwy) rather than the trip to I-5 (both our Rand McNally GPS for RVs and MS Streets and Trips routed us that way for our trip to Mt. St. Helens), then you can click on the line at I-5 and drag it to Jackson Hwy, then the program will change your route to use that highway. Limitations: it’s word directions can be confusing, especially when it gives lines that really just mean stay on the main road.

You can buy MS Streets and Trips with a GPS device included. Really worth the extra $20. Now you not only have the advantages of knowing where you are NOW, with the GPS device, you also can see the whole picture, zooming in and out at will, even printing maps of local intersections.

The best solution is to have the regular GPS, to give those immediate verbal warnings, plus MS Streets and Trips WITH GPS. Now the copilot can see the whole map, zooming in and out when needed, and watch the GPS indicator (red triangle) moving along the route. You can even save your route/map of each trip, as well as let your GPS leave a trail. Then the next time you travel that route you’ll see where you went off the route, thus need to pay special attention to the real world you are driving in.

Path to Adult Lodge and Ranger Station.

In the afternoon, we went on a small adventure, following a grass trail through the woods to the lodge where we need to get internet service. Lovely, peaceful, not all that hot. On the internet we got our information, for that bill, and sent our check off in the mail box at the ranger station.

After that we just mellowed in our recliners. This is the life we envisioned (between adventures) in our retirement. So nice.

Glad you’re out there working to keep it all rolling.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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