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Old 01-07-2013, 01:16 AM   #1
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Successful Winter Camping trip!

We just returned today from a two week winter camping trip. Successful and fun.

We headed south from snowy cold Alberta choosing Carlsbad Caverns as a destination. It's warmer the further south you go right? We encountered wind, snow and ice driving across the praire and into and across Montana. Down I-25 in Wyoming more snow and cautious driving. We trade off every two hours and the weather demons were apparently sitting on my shoulder most of the trip. I'd take the wheel and clouds would move in, snow start flying and the winds would pick up! In Pueblo, Colorado we watched as several cars did donuts in the Northbound lanes!

Carlsbad Caverns were wonderful, but it was certainly warmer underground than on the surface with freezing temperatures at night. The children had a great time. The RV park heading south out of the town of Carlsbad towards the Caverns. was a nice little place with an indoor pool! There is another RV Park close to the National Park entrance, but because of the pool we drove back to Carlsbad. Good move because the following day at the Caverns, one of the Park Rangers who stays at that closer RV park told me that she was without electricity for at least 5 hours.

Yes we took in the UFO touristy stuff in Rosewell, which was fun, but there is also a lovely State Park adjacent to the town with a zoo of local creatures (all of them rescues) and local plants identified and explained. That was one of the highlights for the children.

It started snowing heavily as we headed north and we almost didn't go to the Sugarite State Park because the fat wet snow was accumulating rapidly. We're so happy we didn't chicken out. What a great place. The snow stopped, the stars came out and the temperature plummeted, but we had a site with water, electric and sewer! It's the site of the former Sugarite coal mine - and interpretive trails tell an amazing story. This location apparently won an award for land reclaimation.

One of the children purchased a stuffie of a Jackalope while at Carlsbad Caverns so we had to stop in Douglas, Wyoming which if you didn't know is the home of the Jackalope complete with 20ft statue in the town square, a tourist information center with every Jackalope fact known to man (and some nifty train cars & engines). The star though is on the State Fair grounds there in town - the Pioneer museum. Two floors of a fantastic collection. If we had realized the fair was there we would have stayed at their campground. We didn't, though and stayed in Glendo State Park. This is probably a better choice in the summer (the fishing lake was frozen) but it was quiet - we were the only campers!! and the children had fun playing in the snow.

We've been trying to figure out just how much propane we use in a day. It's complicated because we use the furnace while driving (nope the engine heater can't do it alone below 20F) and we do lots of cooking and baking as well as using the water heater. Our best estimate now is that it's about $7 - $18 worth of propane in 24 hours (depending on temperature).

Running the generator we guess is a gallon of gas an hour. Does anyone know more precisely?

I'm more interested now in that modification to circulate air using the furnace system without the furnace running so we can use electric heaters when plugged into shore power - and still heat the underbelly compartments.

The arctic packs worked well - but do use battery power. The furnace needs enough power to run the fan and if the battery power drops too low the furnace won't come one. One night on this trip we weren't careful with the lights - stayed up too late etc and the furnace stopped about 4am. Flipping on the generator solved the problem, but a little more care with the lights and we didn't repeat the mistake. So changing out the bulbs to LED is a smart move. I read at night and I have some of those clip on LED lights (Sam's Club, Costco) which work great!

tip: Yoga mats on the floor really help with the insulation.

We filled the fresh water tank and didn't empty until home! Much easier not to have to blow out the system enroute! (It's 10F here now)

Susan
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:51 AM   #2
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Great report & glad you made it back safely. How did you do on fuel mileage? We made a trip to Big Bend , Texas for New Years pulling a Subaru Outback an avg @ 4 -5 MPG driving below 65 mph.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildhog56 View Post
Great report & glad you made it back safely. How did you do on fuel mileage? We made a trip to Big Bend , Texas for New Years pulling a Subaru Outback an avg @ 4 -5 MPG driving below 65 mph.
We don't have a toad. I didn't figure the mpg at all. There were stretches - following Montana 89 North to the border for example where wind, snow and ice made me drop to 25mph. On nice open dry interstate 75 mph is the speed limit and was how fast we were going. Wind was such a factor though that mpg wouldn't have been very accurate. We topped off in Great Falls, Montana and have about 1/2 tank left. Usually we top off just before crossing the border (saving a dollar a gallon). The route we chose was because it looked like the wind would be about 10mph less.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:38 AM   #4
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2Susan, Wow! Great sounding trip! You inspire me to try a winter weekend at least, here in western New York State. What concern do you have with how salt and grit will affect your rig? I've always thought that's why there are great looking older RV's out there because they are not subjected to winter road salt. How did your GT handle in the snow?
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:39 PM   #5
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2Susan, Wow! Great sounding trip! You inspire me to try a winter weekend at least, here in western New York State. What concern do you have with how salt and grit will affect your rig? I've always thought that's why there are great looking older RV's out there because they are not subjected to winter road salt. How did your GT handle in the snow?
I'm not worried about the salt and the grit. For one thing we don't have an aluminum or steel sided unit (it's fiberglass). As far as the undercarriage goes, at least with the Georgetown you can get underneath fairly easily to clean rinse etc. I have noticed that the steps have gotten rusty - but that was in the summer from rain - and gee it seems like a routine item to check and correct really. Yes you could keep your unit pristine but then you aren't using it are you?

Interstingly the Georgetown handles the snow fairly well! I had to try to get it to slide and it was more stable than I thought. Obviously if the roads are really icy we stop or proceed with utmost caution. It handled the snow much better than I would have anticipated because these are the original tires (ours is a 2011 - but we have 43,000 miles on the unit).

OK downside? Make sure you have windshield washer fluid in there for the winter. Did you last top off the windshield washer fluid last summer? If so you might want to pour in a bit of rubbing alcohol.

Things you'll have to add: snow brush/ ice scraper, some way to deal with boots. I use a rubbermaid bus pan (like restaurants use for dirty dishes) they sell them at Sam's Club - very sturdy and handy for containing 5 pairs of snow boots! I have expanding shower rods (3) (Walmart $6 or so) in the shower - over the shower insert so they are actually sitting on top of the shower insert to hang snow pants, winter coats etc along with big clothes pins (found them at a dollar store) to hold mittens scrarves caps etc. If this stuff is wet, putting a heater on the closed toilet seat facing the open shower with the vent open seems to help them dry pretty quickly.

We bring a couple of electric heaters - on board year round actually for those cold mornings at a plug in camp site. Why do you need one? Yes it can save propane, but if you have a really cold night and get lots of frost on the inside of the windshield, these heaters work great to help melt it. Lay a bath towel along the bottom edge to absorb the water dripping down.

Our Georgetown has vinyl flooring (excellent idea). I have some old yoga mats and brought one along to use on the floor at the bottom of the bed with the back slide extended. WONDERFUL Idea. Next trip I will bring two more - for the area between the sofa and dinette and for the area in front of the bunk beds. We use the yoga mats for sitting outside on the ground in the summer - reading a book etc.
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