Friday, July 19, 2024

The Journey Begins

I know I owe you all a third part to our new Camper Van...well, not today.  I only write this to catch you up on where we are.  We are at Wilderness RV Park in/near Robertsdale, Alabama.  We have stayed her a number of times in the past.

Yesterday after Marcia's Doctor's Appointment we went by Mr. Souvlaki in Tarpon Springs to get some Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) and Pastitsio to take to Dean (Marcia's brother) and his wife Caryl over in DeLand.  They cooked up some pork and veggies, and together it all made a great dinner.  We dr0ve over to the Cracker Barrel in Sanford and we both had a "so-so" nights sleep.  With the heat and humidity the generator was on all night, and the A/C ran for much of the night.  We were on the road by 6:45, got gas and coffee and headed along I-4, then the "East-West" toll road, and finally the Florida Toll Road until we hit I-75, to I-10 where we headed West. 

We ended up in Robertsdale for a full hook-up so that at least we won't hear the generator all night.  Tomorrow we hope to get into North Texas and on to Amarillo the next day.

The Camper Van drives so nice...very little noise, very easy to keep up to highway speed, with the only slight complaint being that it catches every time I get out of my lane.  Marcia said she never heard the turn signal work so much while I drive...but without turning on the signal, it won't let me get into the next lane.  And I do want to note, there were a number of times (more than 5) where it said "get back into your lane" when I was in my lane.  Our gas usage is half of what it was with our old motorhome.  It was a nice trip, all 500 miles.  We arrived at 5 pm central time, and the trip included a number of rest area stops for this tired old driver.

And being tired and old, is my reason for not publishing anything else at this time.... 

Monday, July 15, 2024

Our 2004 Thor Sequence Camper Van - Part Two

 

In part One I showed you the driving area, today the living area.  To the right you can see the kitchen sink, and that is my Android Pad sitting on the counter.  That becomes important and I talk about it real later.  The brown on the beds are "Walensee Sherpa Fleece Blanket (Throw Size 50”x60” Brown) Plush Throw Fuzzy Super Soft Reversible Microfiber Flannel Blankets" that we bought from Amazon earlier this year...we decided to put them in the Camper Van.  Under each blanket is a bottom sheet...the one on the left is a Cot Sheet which is 31 by 75, and the one on the right is a Cot Sheet which is 30 by 80.  They are perfect fits.  In the far back is the bathroom and a closet with two drawers.  That "Dark Animal" is a stow-away who keeps saying, "I WANT to see Aunt Sandy, I WANT to see her NOW!!!"

 
At the foot of the longer bed, which is my bed, is the TV.  This is a smart TV which gives us access to our Amazon Prime Movies, and I am sure I can load RoKu and other stuff if we wish to.  It will pick up over-the-air channels, and cable if you are at an RV Park which offers that.  On the roof is a Winegard which, if you want to pay for it, turn into a Cellular Receiver and then you can turn that into a WiFi Hotspot.  We have an aircard from Verizon that has done us good, so we probably won't be going that route with Winegard.


As I mentioned in Part One, both front driving chairs will rotate around to the living area.  Marcia will have access to this table top desk, with 110 power and two USB charging hubs below for her power.  I have access to the counter top which includes the same amount of power.  Of course, we have to be plugged into 110v -or- the generator has to be on.


Between the two driving chairs are two small drawers...one comes equipped with a doggie dinner/water bowl!  Even Indy liked that, but she still is looking for her Aunt Sandy...

Under the kitchen counter is the microwave/convection oven, and half of a refrigerator.  I think the refrigerator size is going to be our biggest adjustment...more trips to the store, but bringing back less food.  That is one small freezer, that is for sure.  Not shown is a portable induction cooker, which I love...last year while at Sandy and Arny's we got one and I have used it inside our condo way more than the normal stove.


In the back is the bathroom and clothes closet.  The closet, pictured left, will hold our hang-ups, and at the bottom of the closet we will store a few misc items such as these adult washcloths.  The toilet area is also the shower area, which Marcia will really like since she needs to sit down to shower anyway.  Not shown behind the toilet is a sink which folds down over the toilet which includes its own water facet. 


The Electronics on Camper Van are very nice...as long as they work.  But just like any "on-off" switch to turn on lights, start and stop your water pump, to use the generator, to use the water heater, to use the A/C or the Heat (and other stuff)...but with this Camper Van all of those components (on/off switches) are incorporated into three electronic systems. In the upper left picture is the Truma Hot Water and General Heater control.  This is an electric device (need to be plugged into power or have the generator on), and it is instant heat and/or hot water.  On the right of the same picture is the inverter, which only runs the TV off of battery power.  That is a basic on/off switch.  The picture to the right is the main On/Off switch.  If you want to store your Camper Van for a prolong period, you would want to turn this to off.  I am not sure if the solar will work to keep the batteries from running down, if it doesn't, you would need to charge the house battery at least once a month...along with starting the engine...or have them on a battery tender to keep them charged.  I doubt we will turn this switch except when we need to change the house batteries or something like that.


Which leaves us with the BMPro, a complete power management control.  From these controls you turn on/off the Generator, the Lights, control the Awning, turn on/off and open/close the Ceiling Vent, control the Air Conditioner (on/off and temp setting), on/off the water pump, on/off tank heaters, control eight different light areas in which four can be dimmed, AND it monitors the solar power, the battery levels, the LP tank level, the Grey/Black and Water tank levels...and I think that's about it...all on that little, hard to read control center.  If it goes down, you are up a creek without a paddle.  That is the bad thing about all this electronics stuff.

THIS is where the Android Pad comes in.  Via Bluetooth, you connect to the BMPro system via the free App (at least some things are still free in this world) and have an easier to read and easier to understand way to control all these systems.  When I go over to the Camper Van, which I do just about every day, I can pull up near it, and connect to the system.  If I am going to go in, I will turn on the generator...then a minute or so later, turn on the A/C to it highest level.  A few minutes later I will go in and it is already cooling down.

From this screen you can turn on/off the generator, AND you can program the generator to turn on/off depending on the battery levels you choose, AND/OR the inside temperature of the Camper Van.  For the temp, you need to keep your A/C turned on so that when the generator turns on, and it is ready to accept a load, it will then turn the A/C on.  You can set the generator to turn off when the battery reaches a certain level, or the inside temps are at a certain level.  It allows for time levels too...you can set it to stay on for a minimum amount of time and to turn off at a maximum time.  If you don't set a time limit, it will turn off when the inside temp reaches your desired level or the batteries have reached a certain level.  Finally, you can set a "Sleep Period" when it won't turn on during quiet hours at a campground.  I have it set to turn on the generator if the batteries get to 12v, turn off it they get to 12.7v, and run a minimum of 20 minutes and maximum of 1 hour...with a sleep time of 9 pm to 7 am.  Because of shade at the Storage Area, the generator runs just about every day for about 20-30 minutes, or up to 90 minutes on a rainy day. 


With solar display you can see how much is being produced, and how much the battery is accepting.  We have 200w solar on the roof, which cannot be tilted to the sun unless you buy and install the proper tilting equipment.  If you really want to boondock camp, there is a port outside to plug in portable solar panels. 


These three screens show what your tank levels are, controlling the A/C system, and how to control the lights.  There are a few more screens, but this gives you an idea of what the Android Pad can do for you.

Well, we leave on Thursday for a three months trip, first to Marcia's brother's house in DeLand, then to Sacramento Area with a quick stop in Salt Lake City.  We plan to drive through Arches, which we have been to three or four times already...we love looking at the rock formations throughout the park.  We will leave Sacramento early enough to get home for the November election, and see a few friends on the way too.  My next blog will feature some of the things we have bought to make the Camper Van into a Camper Van Home. 



Sunday, July 7, 2024

Our 2004 Thor Sequence Camper Van - Part One

 

Ok, time to share some pictures of our new Camper Van.  Nearly ready to take it for our first outing, and by the end of the month, we should be on our way to California.  

 

THE COCKPIT 

As you can see, the passenger's chair is facing the wrong way...both chairs can rotate like this to make it more of a living area when parked for a long time at an RV Park, Cracker Barrel Parking Lot, or at my Sister's House where we will located for a few months later this summer.  Note that the front windshield and the side windows have covers over them.  The door covers have magnets that hold them in place, and thanks to Nancy Kissack who also recently bought a Camper Van, she said they hold better if you open the door, put them up, and then shut the door.


Here is a view of the Driver's Dash Board, looking through the Steering Wheel with the engine off, so it is blank.


To start the vehicle, you need to have the Key Fob (handheld remote control device that controls a remote keyless entry system) nearby (like in your pocket), step on the break and push the button.  When you are ready to turn it off, just put in park and push the button.  If you leave the car running while in park, and you exit the vehicle, it will let you know that the Key Fob had left the vehicle and that it returned...just in case you set it down somewhere outside of your vehicle...you sure don't want to take off without your Fob.


On the left side of the steering wheel is the emergency start (in case your battery is low, you can use the house batteries to help start it), a switch to turn on and off the parking break, and a couple of things not shown that I have not figured out what they do yet.


This picture did not turn out well, but it shows the default dash.  The middle is the speed, the left is the tachometer, and the right is the gas gauge...and smaller areas show the time, odometer, trip odometer, lane management (are you too far left or right in your lane, is someone coming up on your side, etc).  Speaking of lane management, the outside mirrors will light up a triangle as someone comes up on your left or right to pass you.



There are like eight or more different screens, above are two of them. The top shows the tire pressure, the bottom is the lane management.  The ZERO at top is your speed.  Other screens not shown include GPS (even though there is a GPS between the driver and passenger which I discuss here in a bit), Trip Totals including Gas Mileage for the trip, Battery Management, Oil Level and Temps, Tire Pressure, just to name a few.  

Also, on the steering wheel there is cruise control, hands free phone to answer or close a call, stuff like that.

 

THE ENTERTAINMENT COMFORT CENTER



Between the Driver and the Passenger is the Entertainment / Comfort Center.  The blank screen is the heart of the Center, which includes a GPS, Radio (AM, FM, Sirus, Thumb Drive, Bluetooth connection to personal devices, etc.), Hands Free Cell Phone Access, controls for AC/Heat (not the house controls) and other stuff.


This is the home screen, showing the GPS and the Radio (or other media device you have going).  The menu choice at the bottom of the screen allow full access to the Media Center, AC/Heat controls, GPS, Cell Phone, Vehicle and Apps.  If you want you can pair your cell phone to the center and offer a hotspot access to others...much like our Air Card already does.


Screen above shows access to the media center.


Here is the comfort screen for AC/Heat.


And here is the GPS, which I am still learning.  You can see the little house, which is our Condo...we really are that close to it, thankfully.


This is a cordless charging station for Cell Phones and Personal Devices like an I-Pad.  Our flip phones do not charge on this, I think my Android Pad will, have not tried it yet.  The drink holder is way down almost on the ground...a 1 liter bottle will fit in the holder and under the cell charger.  I am sure a large diet coke drink will work too!  👍

I'm not sure how many miles I have driven it so far, perhaps 40-50.  It drives so nice, has a lot of power to get you up to speed, and it is so smooth, even over roads we know are pretty bumpy.  Have not had it above 60 mph yet, but I don't see any difference between 40 and 60, so it is not a concern to me.


In my next blog I will show the Living Area, Bathroom, Storage, etc., along with some pictures of the outside which I hope to take tomorrow when I visit Crystal Beach with Indy after dropping Marcia off at her Bible Study group.