Our motorhome went on it's maiden voyage during the last few weeks. We drove up to Riverton and then out to Portage la Prairie. It was a shake down trip, to make sure all systems worked and get the feel of being on the road, away from the amenities of home. For the Riverton side of the trip, we were testing the motor, how it handled on the highway, and getting a feel for gas mileage. It was quite windy for this leg of the trip but the motorhome was fairly smooth on the highway. Our milage worked out to about 13 miles to the gallon (American). Figuring mileage was an important step for us because the fuel gauge is busted. It's on the list of things to fix, but it isn't getting done yet. In the meantime, we need to know how far a tank of gas will get us, and knowing mileage is a big part of that equation. The other part of the equation is the size of the tank. That is still unknown, but I know it took $100 to top up the tank. I think we need to carry a gas can, it may come in very handy with this vehicle.
Enough on the gas issue, back to the test trip.
The second leg of the voyage was out west as far as Portage la Prairie. We pulled in to the Flying J / Shell just on the east side of Portage and the engine was smoking. Not a good sign. We stayed for a bit, to let things cool down, then stopped in town, setting up camp at Walmart. You know you are welcome in the parking lot if semi trailers are stopped there, and they were. So, we picked our spot, away from the overhead lights, not too close to any of the semi trailers, and far enough away from the store to avoid crowded conditions during the day. We took the opportunity to check prices on generators and other useful items in the hardware, camping and electronics sections. We have been pricing a variety of items over the past few weeks, making purchases as we come across deals. Before this voyage, we were at Costco, pricing the generators, solar panels, etc. We picked up a 400 watt power inverter for $24, looked at the Coleman solar panel kit recommended from one of the comments (thanks Anon.), and priced the generators. We found a 400 watt power booster at Walmart in Portage on sale for $20, and grabbed it. For that price how could we go wrong. It is currently charged and tucked under the bed.
We hung out in Portage for a couple of days. With the motorhome overheating, we decided not to go any further west. Things were checked out as much as we could in our parking lot camp site. The radiator was still filled with fluid, leaving the thermostat to be the probable culprit, and that was not getting changed out in Portage. The decision was made to spend a few more days where we were, to continue the shake down of systems.
With Walmart near at hand we had easy access to food on a daily basis, but limited access to electricity. My coffee maker was put away, being replaced with boiled water from the stove and a coffee filter cone. Morning toast was replaced with oatmeal and fresh milk from the store. Unfortunately, we were unable to light the propane on the fridge, so limited electricity from our auxillary battery was used to keep the fridge reasonably cold. Electricity was an issue, as we needed the fridge to remain cold but wanted entertainment (tv/dvd and radio/cd). We recharged the auxillary battery a bit by running the motorhome, and taking a scenic drive through Portage, visiting its island park and driving along the river. But you could only do that for so long. Then, on the third day, we ran completely out of electricity on our auxillary battery. I took it as a sign, so it was time to go back home.