Friday, October 21, 2016

Solar Panels

We have been on the road for three weeks now and we have stayed at several farms and wineries where there are no hook ups. That means that there is no power for the coffee pot, but there is a solution. I had four 12 volt AGM batteries installed to store the power from three solar panels which were installed on the roof. I had a 2000 watt inverter installed to turn the 12 volt DC battery power into 120 volt AC power. It works. I have been able to run the microwave to cook supper and still have enough power stored to run the coffee pot in the morning.

There was a learning curve, however.  What I quickly learned was to only turn on the inverter when I wanted to use the 120 volt power. The first night I left the inverter on and it kept producing 120 volt power which I did not need. It ran the refrigerator on 120 volt power instead of propane and ran the clock on the microwave. I had the hot water heater running on 120 volt electricity as well.  Four batteries could not store enough electricity to power all of that for such a long period of time. Before the first night was over the batteries went dead which meant that now the heater did not work, the refrigerator did not work and the lights in the trailer did not work, because all of those things needed 12 volt power.

I convinced Kay not to turn around and go home. I learned from my mistake. We have plenty of battery power to run the heater all night and enough power to turn on the inverter to make coffee in the morning. Life is good. The road trip continues.

Here are a couple of places where we used our solar power system:

Camping next to the vines at Cedar Valley Winery, Batavia, Iowa.

Russ and Jake at Bodega Victoriana Winery, Glenwood, Iowa

We stayed two nights at Bodega Victoriana Winery. On our second day there, another Harvest Hosts traveler pulled in and stayed the night. Doug and Brenda Grave, the owners of the winery, invited us to come and watch the last presidential debate on their big screen tv in the tasting room. They bought pizza, we bought a bottle of wine as did Carolyn and Gary, the other Harvest Hosts couple. It seemed like we were all old friends getting together to watch a show and chat.

This trip is not just about seeing friends and family. It is about meeting people, making new friends and visiting new places.

Thanks for stopping by today and for leaving a comment.  They both mean a lot to us.

Kay and Russ

Friday, October 7, 2016

Finger Lakes

After leaving Wellesley Island State Park, we made another Harvest Host stop at a winery in the Finger Lakes.  Of course, we could not pass the Finger Lakes by as we head West. We stayed at the White Springs Winery & Glass Factory Brew House in Geneva, New York. If you are not into wines, there are a lot of micro breweries popping up, or as in this one, you get both with just one stop. Naturally, we had to do a wine tasting and we bought three bottles of wine. I like beers, but decided not to try a flight, because I might like the beers, and there is limited carrying capacity in the trailer.

Our trailer parked by the apple orchard at White Springs Winery & Glass Factory Brew House.

The vineyard was gracious enough to let us stay two nights. On the second day we took a trip around Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes.  After stopping for $5 breakfasts we made a stop at the Finger Lakes Distillery where I bought two bottles of their Maple Jack Liqueur. When I owned a home with lots of room for stuff, I would buy a case of liqueurs.  We also stopped at Knapp Winery and bought a case of their Pasta Red Reserve, our favorite table wine. I will not bore you with how many cases I would buy when I had a huge wine cellar. When we got to Watkins Glen, Jake and I hiked Watkins Glen Gorge. Then it was time to return to the trailer. There was no point in stopping at 6 or 7 more wineries as we would have in the past, because there just is not enough room for stuff in our trailer. Naturally I had to come up with a better plan. Here's the plan: stop at as many wineries as we can in every state. Thank you Harvest Hosts with helping us with our quest.

Views from my hike through Watkins Glen Gorge.

Jake and I got to walk behind this waterfall.

Jake leading me through the tunnel cut through the rock on the trail through Watkins Glen Gorge.

Once we returned to White Springs Winery & Glass Factory Brew House we bought a bottle of wine and some crackers and cheese so that we could sit on their patio and enjoy the view.  While we were on the patio another couple sat at a table near us and struck up a conversation. They had a flight of beers that also included a root beer.  They said the root beer was terrific and tasted a lot like A&W root beer.

After leaving the winery we went to Pymatuning State Park in Pennsylvania. We stayed there two days and now we are off to Paper Moon Vineyards in Ohio.

Originally I had planned to go across the northern states before heading South.  Well, the blog is called Destination Unknown. Aunt Shirley wants to see us in Oklahoma, so we will turn South after we visit friends in Iowa. Hopefully I can meet a blogging friend in Missouri as we pass through.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bitter Sweet

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Today is bitter sweet because we are leaving a lot of friends and family behind as we embark on our greatest adventure ever.  We hope to make many new friends as we explore our country.

It is our plan to coddiwomple across America and see as much as we can on this seven- to eight-month trip. I will let you google the slang term "coddiwomple" :)

Basically, we are headed West across the Northern states, then South to Colorado Springs where we hope to stay for a month or two, weather permitting. When the cold weather pushes us South, we plan to winter in the desert Southwest from Southern California through Arizona and New Mexico.  As the weather starts to warm up, we plan to cross the Gulf states and then turn North when we reach Florida. Then our plan is to coddiwomple up the East coast until we return home to New England.

Our travel plans are based on the 2.2.2. rule. Travel about 200 miles, arrive by 2:00, stay at least two days.

First stop is New York.  I will visit with a friend who served with me in Vietnam before heading further West into the unknown.

We stopped at Bowman Orchards, near Albany, the first night.  We checked out their store and bakery shop.  I kind of think that the few things we bought as being free gifts for camping with them over night. I love the Harvest Hosts program.  Looking forward to stopping in the Finger Lakes soon.

All settled in, in a big field.  Lots of room.  We were the only over-nighters.

Our second stop was Wellesley Island State Park.  I met my friend Walter Ballard, an Air Force Sentry Dog Handler from Phan Rang Air Force Base in Vietnam.  We served together in 1968 and 1969.  A few years ago, we connected on Facebook and now we finally got a chance to meet face to face. We met Walter and his wife Donna for lunch on Saturday. There was an instant bonding between both couples as though the four of us had been friends forever. On Sunday, we joined them for worship at their church.

Walter Ballard and Russell Wallace meeting for the first time since serving together 48 years ago.

Kay and I have a lot of friends and relatives around the country.  I hope that we can connect with ALL OF YOU.  If you are one of our friends or relatives, be sure to message us so that we can plan a route that allows our paths to intersect.  We are totally flexible, weather permitting.

If you are one of our friends following our blog, please leave us a comment so that we know you are there wishing us well.  We know you are there, but it helps us stay connected when we see your comments.  Just leaving everyone behind has been incredibly tough and your comments will help Kay cope.  I'm a tough guy.  Please ignore the watery eyes.  :)