Monthly Archives: May 2009

Isn’t it nice when things just work?

A very good friend shared this engineering wonder with us. The video is art of a sort. I suppose any good commercial is, eh? This is a very cool ad, said to have cost $6 million. Here’s the email preface you should read before you watch the commercial:

“If you thought that the people who set up a room full of dominoes to have them knocked over later was amazing, you haven’t seen anything yet…

There are no computer graphics or digital tricks in these images. Everything that you see happened in real time exactly as you see it…

The recording required 606 takes and in the first 605 takes there always was something, usually of minor importance, that didn’t work. It was necessary for the recording team to install the set-up time after time and it took several weeks working day and night to achieve this effect.

The recording cost 6 million dollars and it took 3 months to finish, including the engineering design of the sequence.

The duration of the video is only 2 minutes, but every time that Honda shows the commercial on British television, they make enough money to support any of us for the rest of our lives. However, this commercial has turned out to be the most displayed in the history of the Internet.

Honda execs think that it will pay for itself simply because of the free showings (Honda is not paying one cent for you to see it). When Honda senior execs viewed it, they immediately approved it without hesitation-including costs.”

You can find it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gQaqQW1Hnc&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hondapoint.com%2Fforum%2Fhonda-videos%2F59702-honda-all-physics-wmv.html&feature=player_embedded

We love it, thought you might too. Go Honda!

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No water or electricity? How primitive is it?

Saturday’s post about dry camping was unintentionally misleading. And we promptly received feedback from some of you faithful readers about this. It seems I may have provided an overly stark description of the conditions when dry camping. But, in fact, there isn’t much primitive to it. After all, we are living in a fully self-contained and very capable recreational vehicle. We aren’t roughing it, even these past seven days. As Debbie reminded me at supper this evening, even dry camping in our Airstream is still pretty luxurious.

In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I’m going to detail better what I meant when I talked Saturday about our week of dry camping. Here’s an excerpt from Saturday’s post:
“This has been easy camping, although not far different from what we usually would do. We can’t use the microwave. We use a small portable inverter to convert 12vdc to 110vac for someone’s curling iron and to recharge the laptop. And we can watch television if we want, again using the same 150 watt inverter. Everything else is battery-powered. After completing five and starting the sixth day we have remaining 10 gallons fresh water (we have used 29 gallons). We have 1/2 tank each in black water and rinse water. Our batteries are fully charged. It seems we could go at least another two days at the current rate of water usage.”

Okay, so what did I leave out? Actually, I left a lot to the imagination. I ignored a pretty basic rule of writing, where the writer remembers who is reading the story. A couple of you told us we sound as though we might not have water enough to provide bathing and cooking, for example. And some of you wondered what does the battery power provide, different from when we are connected to electricity? We can see how yesterday’s post left out some really important details. The problem is this: we forget we aren’t writing to ourselves. Said another way, I understand exactly what I meant but I am not writing well if I don’t help all of you understand what I want you to hear.

I’m going to take another pass at describing the end of our week of dry camping starting first about our water consumption. At the end of the week we had used an average of five gallons daily of fresh water for drinking, cooking, cleaning up, and flushing our toilet. We would have used more but sometimes would use the campground’s very nice washroom and showers. Our water consumption would probably have increased by at least two gallons daily if we had not used the campground’s washroom and showers. We would have used all 39 gallons of our fresh water tank in this week. We would then have pulled the trailer to a nearby drinking water faucet, connected our hose to the threaded faucet and refilled our 39 gallon fresh water tank.

The amount of the trailer’s stored fresh water we consume pretty directly impacts the rate at which we fill the toilet’s waste tank, called the black tank, and the shower’s and sinks’ waste tank, called the rinse water tank. The black tank will hold 18 gallons and the rinse tank will hold 39 gallons. Since we start with both waste tanks empty and only have 39 gallons of fresh water, we won’t fill both waste tanks at once. In fact, at the end of over 5 days we had poured some part of almost 30 gallons of fresh water between the black and rinse water tanks. Since their combined capacity is 57 gallons, we had filled the two waste tanks only by one-half.

Our electronic tank monitoring system displays for us the water level in the three water tanks, the fresh water and the two waste tanks. It warned us we had only one-fourth of the fresh water available (almost 10 gallons) and we had filled the two waste tanks approximately 1/2 full each. If the fresh water tank reading is accurate (we think it is, since I calibrated these not long ago) then the readings for the other two tanks make sense. The numbers work out. Sometimes things are like they seem, and it is good.

It appears we would have run out of fresh water before the waste tanks filled up. We could, in short order, hitch up the trailer to our truck and tow the trailer the several hundred feet to the water hydrant to refill the tank. Some people carry 7 gallon fresh water jugs and others carry a larger water bag (sort of like an inflatable bed or water bed) to bring a resupply of fresh water to their trailer. We haven’t had much experience dry camping and, so far, haven’t minded moving the trailer to the water source.

But if our waste tanks filled first we would tow our trailer to the dump station, empty our tanks, and return to the campsite for another five days. Some of the people in the state park carried with them a portable blue rolling tank to help manage their waste tanks. They can empty the trailer’s black or rinse water tank into these portable “honey pots” and tow the honey pot to the campground’s dump station. They can empty the honey pot, rinse the connections, and their camper will go another three or four or five days before they repeat this aromatic chore.

Okay, now a brief description of the electric side of things. We have friends who are very experienced solar charged battery managers. They contend they can use their trailer’s batteries to power anything they want pretty much all they want to. And their batteries will hold up to all this use. We haven’t enjoyed this much battery power. Our system is apparently more modest, with two heavy duty 6 volt batteries wired in series to provide the 12 volts our trailer needs. What needs this power?

Our Airstream uses battery power in several different ways. Perhaps two of the most important are the trailer’s gas detector and the refrigerator automatic control. The water heater uses battery power for its ignition and automatic controls. Our tank monitoring system needs battery power if we are going to be able to determine how much fresh water we have or how much space we have in our waste tanks. The trailer’s water pump is battery-powered, and delivers a wonderful brisk water pressure to our faucets and shower head. My ham radio uses battery power so I can listen and transmit on the amateur radio bands. Our laptops, phone, and camera batteries use the trailer’s battery power to recharge them. Did I mention I am listening to our FM stereo radio while I’m typing this? Yes, it uses the trailer’s battery power too.

Would you have guessed the trailer’s batteries can do all this? Oh! What about the trailer’s interior lighting? We have four reading lights we can aim for best reading illumination. Two are at the sofa and two are above the head of our bed. We have a dozen bright ceiling lights we use whenever we lose something under the table or on the floor somewhere, or when we are cleaning the inside of or Airstream. We have two downlights shining down onto the sofa area to help with reading or working on the laptop like I’m doing now. We have eleven lights inside our four overhead storage bins to help find stuff there and to help provide indirect lighting into our Airstream’s interior.

Our washroom has two light bulbs in its fixture, and the vanity has three bright light bulbs so someone can do the detailed work she doesn’t really need but likes to keep up. Our clothes closets each have a light fixture. And our two cargo compartments (our basements, sort of) each have a light fixture. We have downlights for the kitchen’s work surface, shining down onto our dinette, and in the range hood to illuminate the stove’s cooking surface. Our refrigerator has an interior light. And we have a light fixture outside, above our door.

A lot of lights, isn’t it? And these are all powered from the trailer’s two batteries. If we are dry camping, how long will the batteries last, with all these things drawing power from them? Not all these appliances and lights are on at the same time. Some evenings we will use only one or two lights at a time. The batteries will last anywhere from a few hours to a day or so, unless we can recharge the batteries periodically. If we cannot plug into electricity to power our trailer’s battery charger, then we have two other ways to recharge our batteries. One is the really nifty portable 1000 watt Yamaha generator we have and have needed once in four years.

The other way we can keep our batteries charged is with our two big solar panels mounted on top of our Airstream’s roof. These have kept our batteries recharged perfectly for the past week, and the solar panels do this without charging us a thing no matter how much electricity we use. The sun can shine brightly or it can shine through clouds, and the solar panels still provide a charge on our batteries. So we are never really without electricity, as long as we have either an electrical outlet, or solar power, or our generator.

But if all these battery-powered systems happened to not work, then what? We have candles, a portable battery powered lantern, and flashlights. We can draw water directly from the fresh water tank, using a small bucket we carry. And we can buy a cooler to help our food stay cold if the fridge stops working. We’ll have to eat the ice cream before it melts. And there’s the beer and wine we can drink, too.

You might see, after this explanation, we have back-ups for our back-ups, and if all those fail, we have a back-up plan. If we don’t have electrical power, we can charge the batteries with solar power. If the solar panels don’t work because of rain or too much shade from trees, we can use the generator to charge the batteries. And if the generator also won’t work and we can’t move the trailer to a sunny spot or somewhere with electricity, then we’ll just have to eat the ice cream before it melts. And if we run out of water, we’ll have to drink orange juice, and milk, and beer, or go find some water somewhere.

How did we ever get by when we were tent camping? We plan ahead. We’re versatile and flexible and creative. And things haven’t been very primitive. Like Debbie said, even dry camping in our Airstream is still luxurious.

Update on dry-camping in Ohio

We are in day 6 dry-camping in the Lake Loramie State Park. We think this is an apt time to review our longest dry-camping run in our Airstream CCD 25. And we want to share a little about camping this week in one of Ohio’s fine state parks.

Lots of kids, families, bikes

Lots of kids, families, bikes

This gorgeous state park is this week hosting, I think, every person in Ohio. Well, we have some Ohio friends we haven’t seen but the park is absolutely a beehive of busy-ness. This is the busiest we’ve seen any campground anytime. Everyone is buzzing about enjoying fabulous Memorial Day weekend weather and enjoying being here.

Children and adults appear equally elated to escape to this local campground. We’re glad to see this — so many people are vacationing here on this long Memorial Day weekend. People seem to be very local, many of them commuting from work to their trailers on the early days preceding the weekend. The recession didn’t kill camping but it might have prompted more people to stay in parks closer to home.

A large number of the campers seem to be multi-family. We are seeing many two and three camper set-ups where they have creatively pulled their campers facing each other. One camper remarked to us, they are real lenient at this park about the rules. This seems, very nicely, to allow these families to camp comfortably and without causing any apparent harm.

We also are seeing a lot of multi-generational campsites. The grandparents, it appears, arrived on Wednesday or Thursday. They start staking out the site and enjoy a night or two before the kids and grandchildren arrive. Then on Friday afternoon all heck busts loose. Here come the kids and grandkids and four bicycles and ladder golf and beanbag toss and horseshoes and bonfires and lots of laughing and grandmoms saying, “honey, here have some more of this before you go playing again. And don’t you want some more pop?”

And here are much larger numbers of older and smaller recreational vehicles than we usually encounter. Frequent visits we’ve made to state parks haven’t shown us as many pop-up campers or such a small number of motor homes. I guess this maybe is because we more often (five days out of seven) aren’t seeing working families in campgrounds. So we more often are seeing retired people who are spending their grandchildren’s inheritances or who, like us, opted for a more comfy motor home or travel trailer.

Not this week. In this state park almost a third of all sites are occupied by tents or pop-ups, and there are probably not two or three large motor homes. How many Airstreams, Argosys, Avions, Holiday Ramblers, or other premium trailers? One, just ours. Well, there was an Avion but he left the day after we arrived. We have seen lots of very practical and serviceable 20 to 30 feet long Sunnybrooks and KZ Sportsmen Forest River trailers and fifth wheels. And a bunch of pop-ups and tents.

I mentioned before we are dry-camping because we didn’t make advance arrangements for this busy weekend. This dry-camping has turned out a good experience for us. We’re too cheap to dry camp when we have electricity available, because we can power our refrigerator at no added cost with the electricity. The refrigerator normally consumes propane (although not much) when we’re not plugged in to electricity, and many campgrounds include electricity in their most basic rate. So we save propane if we run the fridge on their electricity.

Our site in Lake Loramie State Park in Ohio

Our site in Lake Loramie State Park in Ohio

Since it is cheaper and we can rent a site through Saturday (or longer) we opted for primitive, or no electric and no water service. And we gained a nice campsite by the water which, on the electric sites, would be at an additional premium cost. Our campsite setup is simpler with no water hoses and no electrical cords. We selected a pretty site away from the tree shade (and dead limbs falling) and close to the canal edge.

This has been easy camping, although not far different from what we usually would do. We can’t use the microwave. We use a small portable inverter to convert 12vdc to 110vac for someone’s curling iron and to recharge the laptop. And we can watch television if we want, again using the same 150 watt inverter. Everything else is battery-powered. After completing five and starting the sixth day we have remaining 10 gallons fresh water (we have used 29 gallons). We have 1/2 tank each in black water and rinse water. Our batteries are fully charged. It seems we could go at least another two days at the current rate of water usage.

We’re not trying to win a contest or prove anything. We are enjoying living simply and saving money. This is easy in our Airstream — our wide-opening windows and roof vents provide great ventilation. Our solar panels have provided ample power for our lighting, radio, and recharging the laptop. And the solar-charged batteries and tank capacities have been sufficient to allow a full week without any external utilities.

Incidentally, the biggest draw on the batteries is when I push the transmit key on my ham radio — 22 amps at 12vdc. Batteries so far have held overnight at 12.6v each day, enough to give the radio full power for a short time. I work the radio an hour in the evening and again for a half-hour in the morning. I reached France, Moldova, Ireland, and Colorado, in the past three days. This state park has been a good spot for long distance (dx) ham radio operation.

We are frugal users of power. I wonder if our reduction in carbon footprint is helping the environment as much as we should? We are:

  • * living in a tiny (<200SF) house,
  • * weekly water consumption is approximately 40 gallons,
  • * using less than 1/100 as much electricity as our brick house did,
  • * using at most a couple of gallons of propane each week, and
  • * driving less than many, if not most, commuters.
  • Our largest variable in energy (and costs) is miles driven, especially towing. We are burning a gallon of gas every eleven towed miles. We have, for the past eight months, settled down our towing mileage considerably by staying three months each in two venues. We're on the move now, and might average as little as a week in each stop for the next five months.

    We’re making our way across the country toward Vancouver, BC. There are a few stops we’ll make on the way. We’re going to buy enough gas to get to Vancouver, and we really would like to tow the trailer with us. We want to make the distance, but not in any hurry. So we can spread the gas cost across more weeks and months, and hopefully spend less for the year.

    Dry camping, if we learn to do it effectively, will help us afford our lifestyle and travels better. We are looking forward to learning better how to economize while enjoying camping. One big answer may be an increase in dry-camping. We’ll try.

    See you down the road!

    Have you met Ed Didier?

    Yesterday we stopped in Versailles to see any evidence of the Airstream Argosy factory, apparently abandoned by Airstream in the late 1980s. Ed Didier, proprietor of Didier's Hardware, told us Midmark bought the old Argosy plant and makes medical equipment there. And a brief word about Ed. He gave us a small card inscribed with his poem about eternal life through Christian faith.

    He said this is the first and last poem he wrote, doesn’t believe he is supposed to write another one. Ed said he feels he was called by God to write this poem and share it. His inspired mission, Ed says, is to distribute one million cards with the message and to try and reach all the states and countries. He also believes he is not to count how many he is distributing.

    Ed has been on this for awhile already and shares interesting stories about feedback he receives after visits with people in his store. We enjoyed meeting Ed and seeing his fifty year old hardware store he and his father created. We hope Ed is still at it next time we come through here. I think he will be.

    We next toured Greenville, OH, and enjoyed the KitchenAid factory and The Garst Museum. The KitchenAid factory tour was very well done and the plant is fun to tour. The mixer castings are done elsewhere but all preparation, coating, assembly, testing, and packaging occurs in KitchenAid's factory. The Garst Museum houses fun and nicely presented displays of military and local history.

    My biggest surprise was learning of a naval ship crash near Ava, Ohio. How can a United States Ship crash in southeast Ohio, hundreds of miles from the oceans or great lakes? This crash was of one of the four U.S. zeppelins, the U.S.S. Shenandoah. You can read some about its crash here.

    The Garst Museum includes a display about the USS Shenandoah because Zachary Lansdowne, the ship’s captain, is from Greenville, Ohio. Annie Oakley was a local girl and has an attractive exhibit, as does Lowell Thomas, also born nearby (Woodington).

    We like to provide photos with our sightseeing blogs. This time, you forgot to tell us to take our camera. Luckily, we put a spare camera in the truck’s glove box. So Jim whipped out the spare camera, poised himself to take a great picture to share with you and, Voila! You didn’t warn us to put extra batteries with the camera. No camera if the battery is dead. So we’ve tried to describe especially well what we saw. Hope it worked.

    We have two of Ed’s cards and will give you one when we see you. Until then, pray for our farmers and our soldiers.

    Hamming it up in Dayton, Ohio

    We’re boondocking in an Ohio state park a little north of Dayton. This state park, unlike NC and TN campgrounds, is all green grass under gorgeous maples, oaks, ash, and elm trees. We picked a primitive campsite (no water/sewer/electric) for its vista and availability — who knew we are heading into a holiday weekend? The campground is all booked up starting this Friday afternoon and we hadn’t arranged a site for Memorial Day weekend, one of the three biggest camping weekends of the year. But the undeveloped site, with no gravel or concrete, and no utilities, suits us perfectly. We will try dry-camping, or boondocking, and see how we do.

    No problems, we have two monster solar panels on the roof, two golf-cart batteries in the box, and candles if all that fails. We have 40 gallons of fresh water, the holding tanks are empty. But we don’t have practice at extended boondocking. How do we make our systems last without plugging into modern civilization’s powerful utilities? Our Airstream is pretty fairly equipped for a week or two, at least, of boondocking.

    We didn’t turn on heat this chilly 48 degree morning because we were heading to Dayton for the day to visit the National Museum of the USAF. We toured it last week while at the Hamvention, but only spent five hours at the museum. Not nearly enough time to see it all. This museum isn’t quite as challenging to canvass as are the Cody Museums. But this is a huge set of exhibits, and then you may have only viewed the indoors parts. There are also many things to view outside including the Memorial Park and Air Park.

    several buildings housed vendor exhibits at Hamvention

    several buildings housed vendor exhibits at Hamvention

    Speaking of Hamvention, we had a great visit to the Dayton Amateur Radio Association’s 58th annual hamfest and convention. This is one of the world’s largest ham radio conventions with attendance of approximately 20,000 people, 300 vendors, and over 2,000 flea market spaces. Despite this huge collection of hams and gear, a few things I was hunting weren’t at Hamvention. The experience, our first at Hamvention, was pretty amazing and we are glad we could attend this year. We enjoyed camping with many of the RV Service Net members at the Dayton area KOA and had a great meal at Rob’s Restaurant with the same crowd plus the International Order Of Kooks, another large national amateur radio club.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    We took Saturday out from hamfesting at Hamvention to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force. I am an Air Force brat (means I grew up a dependent, or child, of a parent serving in the Air Force) and continue to be stirred by so many things about the U.S. Air Force. This museum captivated Debbie and me and we wanted to see it all carefully and well. The exhibits are done beautifully with excellent descriptions of all displays.

    Caproni CA36 WWI Italian heavy bomber

    Caproni CA36 WWI Italian heavy bomber

    While viewing an old, and gorgeously restored, airplane like the large bomber in this picture, we also could read descriptions of the plane’s origin, specifications, and performance. Some museums seem to require more knowledge or preparation by visitors than the National Museum of the USAF. And I appreciated the information. How would I have known this was a 1919 Caproni CA36 heavy bomber used by Italy’s air force until 1929?

    I was almost nauseated while viewing the Holocaust Exhibit. Photgraphs depicted Jewish prisoners, as found by the liberating forces in 1945, in Dachau, Ebensee, and Auschwitz. We watched a series of filmed interviews of U.S. servicemen, including physicians, who were among the first Americans to witness the horrible conditions and devastating impacts upon the victims.

    Two things were hammering in my head while viewing the photographs and film clips — my own first-hand viewing of the Dachau concentration camp during my family’s visit in 1962, and my disappointment and disbelief at the late twentieth century proclaimed denials of the Holocaust. While it remains unbelievable we could do this to each other there is ample evidence, both physical and by first-hand witnesses, the horrors of the Holocaust occurred. This powerful exhibit at the National Museum of the USAF re-awakened all the worst feelings I’ve had about this terrible tragedy.

    President Kennedy's Air Force One, a Boeing 707

    President Kennedy's Air Force One, a Boeing 707

    We returned this morning to see what we could of the remainder of the museum. Today we viewed the Modern Flight Gallery, the Presidential Gallery, and the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and we finished the WWII Gallery. The Hall of Fame provided us an insight into who’s who in aviation history. The exhibits are interesting and wonderfully done. The Presidential Gallery provided us a peek at, and into, some of our past Presidents’ planes like President Kennedy’s Air Force One, Truman’s Independence, and Roosevelt’s Sacred Cow. We closed the museum down after finishing the exhibits featuring the U.S. military’s air wars in Vietnam and Laos.

    The goslings stay pretty close to their parents

    The goslings stay pretty close to their parents

    Late today we returned to our Airstream suite on wheels. We’ve had a run of great weather, we’re in a really pretty park on a fine grassy site, and we’re trying out our boondocking skills as we park this week and perhaps next without electricity, water, or sewer. We know we’re fortunate to have all this and our many other blessings. And we’re enjoying it very, very much.

    Hanging out in North Carolina Piedmont

    Kannapolis, named by its founders, The Cannon family, is in a great portion of North Carolina, the Piedmont or foothills. We have been visiting Debbie’s parents and enjoying wonderful spring weather while we reload for our next cross-country travels. We have shopped a little, bought new trailer tires, gotten our hair done, met with our financial advisor and attorney, and visited with family. And no, our FA had no good news for us.

    Debbie and I accomplished a lot of errands and I spent a week consulting for our former employer. Saved some money for the hamfest later this week and maybe some money for golf. Times are tough. Golf is so expensive, and tennis is pretty darned cheap. I may not spend much at the hamfest and plan for more tennis than golf. I enjoy both but think tennis is better for me. You can always find a golf game. It can be so tough finding tennis partners on the road. I’ll try anyway.

    Today we dropped by Lexington, NC for their famous barbecue. For those who don’t know, around here barbecue doesn’t mean chicken with some sauce on it. We’re talking about hickory-smoked chopped or slice pork. Today’s restaurant was Lexington Barbecue #1 on US29/70.

    We ate here last year and since we were nearby we just had to stop again. We ordered sweet tea and a tray and a plate, and it was as good as any we’ve ever had anywhere. There are so many great barbecue joints in NC, and this one is definitely deserving of inclusion in Stern’s Road Food.

    We love locating local sights and eats as we travel the continent. How do you find these local places on your own? Great eateries are in many communities and visitors might not dig these out. Road Food, the book, helps and there may also be other similar sorts of guides. One answer is to ask the locals. Judging from the looks of the place tonight, we could also ask the state troopers or sheriff’s deputies, and there are probably many similar sorts of reliable sources for best eateries.

    Tomorrow morning we head for Madison, Wisconsin for the WBCCI International Rally. Our arrival date is June 19, so we only need to average approximately 50 miles per day. We won’t really drive only 50 miles per day. Tomorrow we drive 140 miles to Asheville and visit with Jim’s son, Charles. Wednesday morning we head toward Ohio where we’ll attend Hamvention, one of the largest ham radio conventions in the world.

    Our stay in Kannapolis, NC has been wonderful. We visited with most of our family, accomplished a lot, and enjoyed the beautiful spring weather. It’s time to head north and find more North America again. See you down the road!

    Solar orientation at Ft Yargo State Park

    We visited a super nice little state park on our way from Perry, Ga to Kannapolis, NC. Jim’s daughter, Hannah, is in Atlanta and we hoped for a good visit with her. A campground close enough could allow us to drive in or Hannah to drive out and meet us.

    Several Georgia friends advised us on campgrounds near Atlanta. The winner appeared to be Stone Mountain Park Campground. But Stone Mtn campground requires minimum two nights and the site rental cost is $47 per night. This popular destination provides great location, crowded campground, slow registration, and anyone’s guess on quality of assigned campsite location.

    The show-stopper with Stone Mountain for us was the two-night minimum so we hunted other possibilities. Because we were heading from southeast of Atlanta we looked east and northeast for state parks. We found a campground near Winder, GA, only about an hour’s drive from Hannah. Ft Yargo State Park turned out an excellent choice for us. Ft Yargo State Park has two rv camping loops with a total of 47 sites.

    Our gps directed us perfectly to this state park’s entrance. Registration was very expeditious, requiring only five minutes to register, pay, and obtain our campground directions. We searched the first of two loops and found no appealing sites. The second loop showed several good prospects and on our second pass we selected a site for orientation to the sun and sufficient distance from the children’s playground.

    Criteria for site selection has evolved. We formerly first considered view, privacy, and site plane (is it level?). We rarely thought of orientation with respect to the sun’s path. Our winter months in sunny Okeechobee changed our perspective on the sun’s turn around our patio. The sun rose off our street-side rear corner and tracked around to the opposite corner, burning onto our patio.

    Awning endshade improves our afternoon patio space

    Awning endshade improves our afternoon patio space

    We purchased an awning end sunscreen to provide us some relief in the afternoons. This helped immensely in blocking the afternoon low sun, is really nice looking, and gave us a little privacy. Even more helpful would have been orienting the trailer clockwise exactly 180 degrees. But our Okeechobee site was back-in so we could only re-orient +/- 15 or 20 degrees at most. And this would look wacky — we like things pretty straight. We’ll eventually add a long sunscreen for the awning length. When we can’t avoid the patio facing afternoon sun the awning screen will add some shading.

    We attended two rallies after leaving Okeechobee. We paid attention to the parking site orientation with respect to the sun. It was for naught. The parking committee had not done so. I appealed to them, “Can’t we park anywhere so the sun won’t shine under our awning all afternoon?” They couldn’t manage it, it wasn’t in their plan and they couldn’t imagine it. Two days later I turned our Airstream 180 degrees so the patio faced east and was readily pleased with our nice shady patio each afternoon.

    Beautiful trees seen from our Ft Yargo patio

    Beautiful trees seen from our Ft Yargo patio

    Fort Yargo provided us the opportunity to exercise this new criterion as part of site selection. We arrived just after 2 p.m. with bright sunshine and could assess the sun’s direction across each campsite. We picked a nice level and quiet site with the patio facing east. Guess what? It worked perfectly! We enjoyed a gorgeous sunny afternoon under our awning, looking at this view. Very comfortable and pretty nice too.

    Jim and Hannah enjoy the beautiful morning at Ft Yargo SP

    Jim and Hannah enjoy the beautiful morning at Ft Yargo SP

    Hannah drove up to join us for breakfast the next morning. We had a great breakfast, a sweet visit, and an overall perfect morning. After breakfast we were standing around talking and looking at some of Hannah’s works in progress. Hannah is doing very pretty work and experimenting with new media.

    Young cardinal in flowering dogwood

    Young cardinal in flowering dogwood

    Just before Hannah returned home and before we started breaking camp, we spotted this cardinal in the flowering dogwood. Okay, this may have been the best time to visit the park. The dogwoods are all in bloom, the birds seem happy, and there are enough leaves in the trees to help filter the sun. Reminds me of an invitation to visit the Catskills in the spring or fall — someone told us they are beautiful in those seasons. Fort Yargo State Park is beautiful this spring.