04-17-2012, 04:11 PM
Going to NW Sprinterfest is an excuse to get out on the road for a trip. Long way to go from 1 hr. north of SF but a nice group of people at the meeting and first class host in John of Upscale Automotive. Part of my reason for going was to test the house battery charging system and the use of a heating pad under my sleeping bag. Left Wednesday the 11th and drove to Eureka to visit with a customer. Spent the night in parking lot of the Samoa Cookhouse. Good dinner and breakfast the next morning. Proceeded up 101 to Crescent City and stopped at boat harbor. They have bathrooms for the fisherman so harbors are a good place to stop. Worked on paperwork for a few hours and then proceeded up Hwy 199 to Grants Pass Oregon to park in a relative's driveway for the night. Left in the morning and drove to Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville to check out the place for a possible stopping place on the way home after the Sprinterfest. Also remembered that I wanted to visit the airplane museum that has Howard Hughes Spruce Goose airplane on exhibit. Got directions and turned left at Salem to 99W and proceeded up to Mcminnville to the Evergreen airplane museum. Not far from the Tualatin location of the Sprinterfest. If you go to Sprinterfest, go to the museum. Has a great display of vintage airplanes in a first class building. Worth the trip north just to go to the museum. Left there and an hour or so later pulled into Upscale Automotive to spend the night in their parking lot. Had a good time looking at a lot of Sprinter conversions and talking with the owners. Anyone working on a conversion that can get to the meeting should do so to to learn what other people have done. Left around 4:00 PM and drove down to the Seven Feathers Casino. Had the senior dinner and donated all of $1.00 to the slot machines. Used to spend a lot of time at the blackjack tables in Sparks Nevada when I went to Reno on business. Then there were $2.00 tables where I could donate. Now at $5.00 tables I no longer care to donate. Parked in their free RV parking lot for the night. Next morning tried something new to me. Went to the truck stop and for $7.50 used one of their shower rooms for a shower. Clean and easy way to shower while traveling. Also bought a $1.00 cup of coffee. Long time since I have found a cup of coffee for a buck. Left casino to drive to Eureka for the night. Got to Eureka around 2:00 PM and decided since I had time to stay somewhere around Petralia in the Lost Coast Area. Drove to Ferndale and proceeded on a very pot holed slow twisty road to Petralia. Stopped and asked a resident if I could park in town and he suggested a campground at the mouth of the Mattole river. Found a wide place in the road and spent the night. Great area with very few people and nice scenery. Hard to get too but worth it. Left there in the morning and took road (trail) south to Redway and Garberville. Road washed out in some areas and again lots of potholes and some gravel roadway. Sprinter did fine but some of the bumps rained maps from my overhead shelves over the windshield. Road was mostly one lane paved road. Reached Garberville and headed south of 101 to home. The Lost Coast area is definitely on my list for additional trips. Sprinter ran well for the entire trip. It is neat being fully self contained and able to go anywhere on any schedule. The test on the battery charging with a second inverter powered by the Sprinter 12 volt system worked fine. Due to gray rainy days I was able to deplete the 8D battery to 83% SOC one night. Normally the 135 watt solar panel keeps the battery at 100% SOC on sunny days. The vehicle powered inverter charged the battery to 93% SOC with bulk charging in an hour and half. An hour of charging in absorb mode got battery to 98% SOC when it then changed to float mode. The interesting thing was I could tell when it changed modes by watching the voltage on the Scan Gage. Voltage would increase at each stage. The charge rate is programmed at 30 amps. The test on the heating pad tells me to use the following procedure at night: Turn on water heating Espar before going to bed and turn on the 12 volt heating pad. Turn off the Espar and go to bed. Use the heating pad to stay warm. Works well down to 38 degrees. Next morning turn on Espar again to heat van. This process uses less energy than I was using keeping the van warm all night with the Espar and the refrigerator working harder to stay cool. All in all it was an enjoyable trip and I learned some more about how to travel in the Sprinter.